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Title: Mexico and Her People of To-day - An Account of the Customs, Characteristics, Amusements, History and Advancement of the Mexicans, and the Development and Resources of Their Country
Author: Winter, Nevin O. (Nevin Otto)
Language: English
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MEXICO AND HER PEOPLE OF TO-DAY


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        BY NEVIN O. WINTER

    Mexico and Her People of To-day                  3.00
        BY NEVIN O. WINTER

    Argentina and Her People of To-day               3.00
        BY NEVIN O. WINTER

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[Illustration: A BELLE OF TEHUANTEPEC (_See page 180_)]


MEXICO AND HER PEOPLE OF TO-DAY

An Account of the
Customs, Characteristics, Amusements,
History and Advancement
of the Mexicans, and the Development
and Resources of Their
Country

by

NEVIN O. WINTER

Illustrated from Original Photographs
by the
Author and C. R. Birt

New Revised Edition


[Illustration]



Boston
L. C. Page and Company
MDCCCCXII

Copyright, 1907,
by L. C. Page & Company
(Incorporated)

Copyright, 1912,
by L. C. Page & Company
(Incorporated)

Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London
All rights reserved

Second Impression, May, 1908
Third Impression, June, 1910
New Revised Edition, January, 1912

Electrotyped and Printed by
The Colonial Press
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U.S.A.



    TO
    My Mother
    AND THE MEMORY OF
    My Father



PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION


Since the first publication of “Mexico and Her People of To-day,” Mexico
has seen stirring times, and there has been a radical change in the
government. Revolution again broke forth, and the long dictatorship
of Porfirio Diaz has ended. These conditions have made advisable a
completely revised edition of this work, which the public and the press
have stamped with their approval to a degree that has been most pleasing.
To both public and press the author desires to return his most sincere
thanks, and he has in this revision endeavoured to be as accurate and
painstaking as in the original preparation. Furthermore, another trip
to that most interesting country has enabled the author to give a
description of a section but briefly treated in the previous edition.
New appendices have been added, consisting of a bibliography and a few
suggestions for those contemplating a trip to Mexico.

                                                         NEVIN O. WINTER.

    TOLEDO, OHIO, _January, 1912_.



PREFACE


Many books have been written about Mexico, but several of the best works
were written a quarter of a century ago and are now out of print. This
fact and the developments of the past few years leads the author to
believe that there is a field for another book on that most interesting
country; a book that should present in readable form reliable information
concerning the customs and characteristics of the people of Mexico, as
well as the great natural resources of the country and their present
state of development, or lack of development.

It has been the aim of the author to make a complete and accurate
presentation of the subject rather than to advance radical views
concerning and harsh criticism of our next-door neighbours. With
this idea in mind he has read nearly every prominent work on Mexico
and Mexican history, as well as other current periodical literature
concerning that country during the two years devoted to the preparation
of this volume. It is hoped that the wide range of subjects, covering
the customs, habits, amusements, history, antiquities, and resources
will render the volume of value to any one interested in Mexico and her
progress.

If this volume shall aid in any way to a better understanding of Mexico
by Americans, or in furthering the present progressive movement in that
country, then the author will feel amply repaid for the months of labour
devoted to its preparation.

The author wishes to make special acknowledgment of obligation to his
friend Mr. C. R. Birt, his companion during the greater part of his
travels through Mexico, and to whose artistic sense in selection and
grouping the excellence of many of the photographs herewith reproduced is
due.

    TOLEDO, OHIO, _September, 1907_.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

        I. AZTEC LAND                                                    1

       II. ACROSS THE PLATEAUS                                          22

      III. THE CAPITAL                                                  46

       IV. THE VALLEY OF ANAHUAC                                        74

        V. THE TROPICS                                                  90

       VI. A GLIMPSE OF THE ORIENTAL IN THE OCCIDENT                   111

      VII. THE ISTHMUS OF TEHUANTEPEC                                  128

     VIII. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ANCIENTS                            144

       IX. WOMAN AND HER SPHERE                                        162

        X. THE PEON                                                    183

       XI. CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS                                 201

      XII. HOLIDAYS AND HOLY-DAYS                                      225

     XIII. A TRANSPLANTED SPORT                                        243

      XIV. EDUCATION AND THE ARTS                                      257

       XV. MINES AND MINING                                            274

      XVI. RAILWAYS AND THEIR INFLUENCE                                290

     XVII. RELIGIOUS FORCES                                            308

    XVIII. PASSING OF THE LAWLESS                                      328

      XIX. THE STORY OF THE REPUBLIC                                   343

       XX. THE GUIDING HAND                                            369

      XXI. THE REVOLUTION OF 1910                                      396

     XXII. THE SIERRAS AND BEYOND                                      415

    XXIII. THE RUINED CITIES OF YUCATAN                                438

     XXIV. THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE                                  456

           APPENDICES                                                  479

           INDEX                                                       485



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                      PAGE

    A BELLE OF TEHUANTEPEC (_See page 180_)                  _Frontispiece_

    SNOW-CAPPED POPOCATAPETL                                             4

    GENERAL MAP OF MEXICO                                                6

    AN INDIAN MAIDEN                                                    10

    “THE LAND OF BURROS AND _SOMBREROS_”                                22

    MARKET SCENE IN SAN LUIS POTOSI                                     30

    COCK-FIGHTING IN MEXICO                                             33

    THE _MAGUEY_                                                        41

    MAP OF THE VALLEY OF MEXICO                                         46

    THE PATIO OF AN OLD RESIDENCE                                       48

    THE CATHEDRAL                                                       60

    A PICTURESQUE PULQUE SHOP                                           66

    THE CALENDAR STONE                                                  77

    SCENES ON THE VIGA CANAL                                            82

    CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC                                               86

    BRIDGE AT ORIZABA.—THE BUZZARDS OF VERA CRUZ.—AVENUE OF PALMS,
      VERA CRUZ                                                         98

    AN INDIAN HOME IN THE HOT COUNTRY                                  104

    RICE CULTURE                                                       109

    THE AQUEDUCT, OAXACA.—A FOUNTAIN IN OAXACA                         116

    THE MARKET-WOMEN OF OAXACA.—THE POTTERY-MARKET, OAXACA             118

    CROSSING THE RIVER ON MARKET-DAY                                   121

    THE MARKET, TEHUANTEPEC                                            132

    ENTRANCE TO THE UNDERGROUND CHAMBER, MITLA.—NORTH TEMPLE,
      MITLA.—HALL OF THE MONOLITHS, MITLA                              157

    A ZAPOTECO WOMAN                                                   161

    “PLAYING THE BEAR”                                                 170

    WASHING ON THE BANKS OF A STREAM                                   177

    A PEON AND HIS WIFE                                                184

    A CARGADOR                                                         198

    MAKING _TORTILLAS_                                                 215

    A MEXICAN MARKET                                                   218

    CANDY BOY AND GIRL                                                 220

    BURNING AN EFFIGY OF JUDAS AT EASTER-TIME                          233

    CANDLE BOOTHS IN GUADALUPE                                         240

    BEGGARS OF THE CITY OF MEXICO                                      242

    PLANTING THE _BANDERILLAS_                                         250

    AN AZTEC SCHOOLGIRL                                                266

    PEON MINERS AT LUNCH                                               280

    ALONG THE MEXICAN SOUTHERN RAILWAY                                 300

    WAYSIDE SHRINE WITH AN OFFERING OF FLOWERS                         312

    A _RURALE_                                                         332

    ARMY HEADQUARTERS, CITY OF MEXICO                                  336

    A VILLAGE CHURCH                                                   364

    A COMPANY OF _RURALES_                                             370

    SR. DON FRANCISCO I. MADERO                                        411

    A GROUP OF PEONS                                                   419

    TARAHUMARI INDIANS                                                 421

    CRUMBLING RUINS OF THE ANCIENT MEXICAN CIVILIZATION                441

    AN OLD CHURCH                                                      451

    PRIMITIVE TRANSPORTATION                                           457

    PRIMITIVE PLOUGHING NEAR OAXACA                                    465



MEXICO AND HER PEOPLE TO-DAY



CHAPTER I

AZTEC LAND


Prescott says: “Of all that extensive empire which once acknowledged
the authority of Spain in the New World, no portion for interest and
importance, can be compared with Mexico;—and this equally, whether we
consider the variety of its soil and climate; the inexhaustible stores of
its mineral wealth; its scenery, grand and picturesque beyond example;
the character of its ancient inhabitants, not only far surpassing in
intelligence that of the other North American races, but reminding us, by
their monuments, of the primitive civilization of Egypt and Hindoostan;
or, lastly, the peculiar circumstances of its conquest, adventurous and
romantic as any legend devised by Norman or Italian bard of chivalry.”

Mexico is a country in which the old predominates. The American visitor
will bring back more distinct recollections of the Egyptian carts and
plows, the primitive manners and customs, than he will of the evidences
of modern civilization. An educated Mexican whom I met, chided the
Americans for this tendency, for, said he, “all that is written of Mexico
is descriptive of the Indians and their habits, while progressive Mexico
is ignored.” This is to a great extent true, for it is the unique and
ancient that attracts and holds the attention of the traveller. For this
reason tourists go to Egypt to see the pyramids, sphinx and tombs of the
Pharaohs.

It is not necessary for the traveller to venture out upon perilous seas
to see mute evidences of a life older than printed record. In this land
of ancient civilization and primitive customs, there are cities which
stand out like oriental pearls transplanted to the Occident from the
shores of the Red Sea. Here in Mexico can be found pyramids which are
no mean rivals to those great piles on the Egyptian deserts; crumbling
ruins of tombs, and palaces, and temples, ornamented in arabesque and
grecque designs, not unlike the structures along the banks of the mighty
Nile; and the same primitive implements of husbandry which we have
viewed so often in the pages of the large family Bible. Then, as an
additional attraction, there is the actual presence of the aborigines,
Aztec, Zapotec, and Chichimec, speaking the same language, observing the
same ceremonies, and following the same customs which were old when the
foreigners came.

There is no history to enlighten us as to the age of these monuments,
and there are few hieroglyphics to be deciphered upon which a Rosetta
Stone might shed light. The student is led to wonder whether the Egyptian
civilization antedated the Mexican, or whether the former is simply the
Mexican learning and skill transplanted to the Orient and there modified
and improved. It is quite possible, that, while our own ancestors were
still barbarians, and little better than savages, swarming over northern
Europe, the early races in Mexico had developed a civilization advanced
and progressive. They knew how to build monuments which in masonry and
carving teach us lessons to-day. They made beautiful pottery and artistic
vessels, and they used gold for money and ornaments.

Notwithstanding the fact that for a thousand miles the republics of
Mexico and the United States join, the average American knows less
concerning Mexico than he does of many European countries; and it is much
misunderstood as well as misrepresented. Mexico possesses the strongest
possible attractions for the tourist. Its scenic wonders are unsurpassed
in any other part of the globe in natural picturesqueness; and no country
in Europe presents an aspect more unfamiliar and strange to American
eyes, or exceeds it in historic interest.

Vast mountains including snow-capped Popocatapetl and Ixtaccihuatl, the
loftiest peaks on the American continent, are seen here amid scenes
of tropical beauty and luxuriance. Great cities are found with their
customs and characteristics almost unchanged since they were built by the
Spaniards; and there are still more ancient cities and temples which were
built by prehistoric races.

[Illustration: SNOW-CAPPED POPOCATAPETL]

It is a land of tradition and romance, and of picturesque contrasts.
At almost every turn there is something new, unique, interesting, and
even startling. It has all the climates from the torrid zone to regions
of perpetual snow on the summits of the lofty volcanic peaks, and is
capable of producing nearly every fruit found between the equator and
the Arctic circle. The softness and sweetness of the air; the broken
and ever-varying line of rugged hills against a matchless sky; the
beautiful views between the mountain ranges; the care-free life which
is omnipresent each add their charm to the composite picture. Dirt is
everywhere and poverty abounds, but even these are removed from the
commonplace by the brilliant colour on every hand.

F. Hopkinson Smith in “A White Umbrella in Mexico” epitomizes this
marvellously attractive country as follows: “A land of white sunshine,
redolent with flowers; a land of gay costumes, crumbling churches, and
old convents; a land of kindly greetings, of extreme courtesy, of open,
broad hospitality. It was more than enough to revel in an Italian sun,
lighting up a semi-tropical land; to look up to white-capped peaks,
towering into blue; to look down upon wind-swept plains, encircled by
ragged chains of mountains; to catch the sparkle of miniature cities,
jewelled here and there in oases of olive and orange; and to realize
that to-day, in its varied scenery, costumes, architecture, street life,
canals crowded with flower-laden boats, market plazas thronged with
gaily-dressed natives, faded church interiors, and abandoned convents,
Mexico is the most marvellously picturesque country under the sun. A
tropical Venice! A semi-barbarous Spain! A new Holy Land.”

Mexico contains a greater area than is generally understood. It is shaped
very much like a cornucopia with an extreme length of nineteen hundred
miles, a breadth of seven hundred and fifty miles, and an area of nearly
eight hundred thousand square miles. At its narrowest point, the Isthmus
of Tehuantepec, it is only one hundred and twenty-five miles across
from ocean to ocean. There is a double range of mountains, one near the
Pacific coast and the other near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, between
which lie the great table lands, or plateaus, which constitute a large
part of the surface.

[Illustration]

Three distinct climates are found in Mexico determined by altitude.
Those regions six thousand feet or more above sea level are called the
_tierras frias_, or cold lands. This is only a relative term, for the
cold does not correspond with that of our own northern states. Though
termed “cold,” the mean temperature is not lower than that of Central
Italy. Those lands lying at an altitude of six thousand feet, down to
three thousand feet, above sea level are termed the _tierras templadas_,
or temperate lands. This is a region of perpetual humidity and is
semi-tropical in its vegetation and temperature. An altitude from four
thousand to six thousand feet in Mexico gives a most delightful climate.

Along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts there is a more or less
broad tract called the _tierra caliente_, or hot land, which is a truly
tropical region. Forests of dense growth cover the soil, so thick that it
is impossible to penetrate them without blazing your way as you go, and
in the midst of which tower trees of magnificent size, such as are to be
seen only in the tropics. Here it is that nature is over-prodigal in her
gifts; and here it is that the _vomito_, as yellow fever is called, lurks
with fatal effect. The winds from the sea generally mitigate the fierce
heat, especially if one can remain out of the sun during the middle
of the day. Sometimes these winds on the Atlantic coast acquire great
velocity, and burst forth upon the unprotected shores with terrific fury
as the so-called “northers.” There is no true winter here, but there is a
rainy season from June to October, and a dry season from November to May,
the former being the colder.

“In the course of a few hours,” says Prescott, “the traveller may
experience every gradation of climate, embracing torrid heat and glacial
cold, and pass through different zones of vegetation including wheat and
the sugar-cane, the ash and the palm, apples, olives, and guavas.” The
dwellings vary also. In the hot lands the habitations are constructed
of bamboo and light poles open to sun and wind, for the only shelter
needed is protection from the elements; in the temperate region the huts
are made of heavier poles, and are somewhat more durable; in the higher
lands they are built of adobe or stone. Sugar cane and coffee, and even
the banana, will grow up to four thousand feet. Wheat grows best at six
thousand feet and pines commence here too. At seven thousand feet cactus
appears, and the _maguey_, ushering in an entirely different zone. Mexico
is a country of extremes of heat and cold, poverty and riches, filth and
cleanliness, education and extreme ignorance.

Every schoolboy knows of Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond in bonnie Scotland,
and most people are familiar with the location of Lago di Como, in Italy.
And yet I should not be surprised if fair-sized towns could be found in
the United States where no one could tell whether such a body of water
as Lake Chapala existed or not. As a matter of fact it is ten times
as large as all the lakes of Northern Italy combined; and it embraces
islands larger than the entire surface of Loch Lomond. Its steely
blue waters and rugged shores need only the magic pen of the novelist
or poet to tell of its beauties and invest each nook and glen with
romance, and the charming villas of Como to make Chapala as picturesque
and fascinating as those better known lakes. It is almost a hundred
miles long and thirty-three miles wide at the widest point, and covers
fourteen hundred square miles. Patzcuaro and Cuitzeo are also lakes of
considerable size near Chapala, and all of them are six thousand feet
or more above sea level. They only await development and advertising to
become popular resorts.

The vast majority of the inhabitants of Mexico are descendants of Indian
races who were found there by the Spanish conquerors, and mixtures
of those natives with European settlers. Of the fourteen millions of
inhabitants only about nineteen per cent. are white; of the remainder,
forty-three per cent. are Indians and thirty-eight per cent. mixed. There
is a greater resemblance of the Mexican Indians to the Malay races of
Asia than to the American Indians. Their intensely black hair and eyes,
brown complexion, small stature, and even a slight obliquity of the eyes
bear a strong resemblance to the Japanese. I have seen it stated that,
if a Japanese is dressed in Mexican costume, and a Mexican in Japanese
dress, it is difficult to tell which is the Jap and which the Mexican.
Students of languages say that there is a strong similarity between the
Mexican tongues and oriental languages. The different tribes do not
mingle much and seldom intermarry, and this fact may contribute to their
physical deterioration.

[Illustration: AN INDIAN MAIDEN]

Whence came this people? No one can answer. It is generally supposed that
the Aztecs came from what are now the south-western states of the Union,
and wandered into the Valley of Mexico. They were defeated by the tribes
then dwelling there, and sought refuge on the shores of Lake Texcoco.
There they beheld a golden eagle of great size and beauty resting on a
prickly cactus and devouring a serpent which it held in its talons, and
with its wings outstretched toward the rising sun. This was the sign for
which they had been looking, and there they proceeded to erect their
capital. They first built houses of rushes and reeds in the shallow
water and lived upon fish, and constructed floating gardens. As the
waters receded somewhat they built more durable structures, including
great palaces and temples. They extended their sway over neighbouring
races beyond the Valley and conquered tribe after tribe, although never
claiming dominion over more than a small portion of the present confines
of Mexico. The legend of the eagle and the cactus is still preserved in
the coat-of-arms of the present republic.

Of the Aztecs and their history prior to the conquest little is known,
except that the country was called Anahuac. Prescott has made his
“Conquest of Mexico” as fascinating as a novel, but he has shown the
romantic side based upon knowledge of the most fragmentary character. The
writings which pass for history were either written by bigoted priests
who could not see anything good in an idolatrous people, and who, to
please the leaders, painted the Aztecs in blackest colours to justify the
cruel measures taken, or they were written by Spaniards who never visited
the country of which they presumed to write. As it has been said, “a
most gorgeous superstructure of fancy has been raised upon a very meagre
foundation of fact.” Their civilization was in many respects marvellous
and far ahead of that of any other race on the western hemisphere. Under
the Montezumas they had grown into a powerful nation, and their rule was
one of barbaric splendour and luxury.

The Aztecs succeeded an older race called the Toltecs who were also far
advanced in civilization. They were nature worshippers and not only did
not indulge in human sacrifices, but were averse to war and detested
falsehood and treachery. A Toltec noble is said to have instructed his
son after the following manner before sending him away from home: “Never
tell a falsehood, because a lie is a grievous sin! Speak ill of nobody.
Be not dissolute, for thereby thou wilt incense the gods, and they
will cover thee with infamy. Steal not, nor give thyself up to gaming;
otherwise thou wilt be a disgrace to thy parents, whom thou oughtest
rather to honour, for the education they have given thee. If thou wilt be
virtuous, thy example will put the wicked to shame.”

Both of these races were also great builders and sculptors and had
cultivated the art of picture-writing. They were well housed, decently
clothed, made cloth, enjoyed vapour baths, maintained schools, and had a
large assortment of household gods. They mined some, and in agriculture,
at least, were far ahead of the Mexicans of to-day.

The vandalism of the Spaniards in destroying the writings and other
records of the early races is rebuked by Prescott as follows: “We
contemplate with indignation the cruelties inflicted by the early
conquerors. But indignation is qualified with contempt when we see them
thus ruthlessly trampling out the sparks of knowledge, the common boon
and property of mankind. We may well doubt which has the strongest claim
to civilization, the victor or the vanquished.”

The Mexico of to-day cannot be understood without looking for a
moment at its settlement and the manner of the conquest. The Spanish
_conquistadores_ who flocked to these shores with Cortez were a different
race from those early settlers, who, persecuted and denied liberty of
conscience in the land of their birth, sought a new home on our own
hospitable shores. With the union of the crowns of Castille and Aragon
by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the discovery of the New
World, Spain had suddenly leaped to the front, and become, for a time at
least, the greatest nation of the day. Ships were constructed in great
numbers and sent out, filled with voyagers, “towards that part of the
horizon where the sun set.”

In the sixteenth century she had practically become the mistress of the
seas and the most powerful nation in the world. Her soldiers were brave
and the acknowledged leaders of chivalry, but the curse of the Spaniards
was their thirst for gold, and her decay was rapid. When Cortez and his
band of adventurers came to the court of Montezuma, and saw the lavish
display of vessels and ornaments made of the precious metal, they thought
they had discovered the land of gold for which they were searching.
Attracted by the glowing reports of untold wealth, thousands of Spaniards
soon followed the first bands of _conquistadores_, and they rapidly
spread over the entire country occupied by the Aztecs, ever searching
for the mines from whence this golden harvest came. While the leaders
were imprisoning and torturing the Aztec chieftains to force them to give
up the hiding places of their treasures, the priests, who everywhere
accompanied the soldiers, were baptizing thousands into the new faith and
using the confessional for the same end. Thus religious bigotry and the
mania for worldly riches went side by side, and ever ringing in the ears
of both priest and warrior was the refrain:

    “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
    Bright and yellow, hard and cold.”

Shortly after the conquest all the desirable lands were parcelled out
among the invaders and the few Indian _caciques_ who had helped, with
their powerful influence, in their subjugation. The Spaniards rapidly
pacified the country, for the Aztec masses, however warlike they may have
been before the coming of the Spaniards, were subdued by one blow. They
were soon convinced that opposition to the power of Spain was useless.
The priests, also, through their quickly acquired influence, taught
submission to those whom God, in His infinite wisdom, had placed over
them. Chiefs who would not yield otherwise were bribed to use their power
over their vassals in favour of the Spaniards. Thus by force, bribery,
intrigue, diplomacy, treachery, and even religion, the Indians were
reconciled and the spirit of opposition to the Spaniards broken. The
result was a new and upstart nobility who ruled the country with an iron
hand in the course of a few decades; and the natives, with the exception
of the chiefs, were made vassals of these newly made nobles.

An era of building followed, in which great palaces after the _grandiose_
ideas of Spain were constructed by Indian workmen. Churches were built
with lavish hand, for these nobles thought to atone for their many
misdeeds by constructing and dedicating places of worship to Almighty
God, who, according to the teaching of the priest, was the God of the
poor, oppressed Indian as well as the God of the haughty Spaniard who
had enslaved him. As one writer has said: “When John Smith and his
followers were looking for gold mines in Virginia and the Pilgrims were
planting corn in Massachusetts, an empire had been founded and built up
on the same continent by the Spaniards, and the most stupendous system
of plunder the world ever saw was then and there in vigorous operation.”
Cortez was searching for “a people who had much gold” of which he had
heard. It was not God but gold that drew him in his campaign over Mexico.
He did not aim to Christianize the natives so much as enrich himself and
acquire empire for his sovereign, and religion was a subterfuge plausible
and popular in that age.

“I die,” said the patriot Hidalgo, when about to be executed in 1811,
“but the seeds of liberty will be watered by my blood. The cause will
not die; that still lives and will surely triumph.” His prediction
came true, and freedom from the Spanish yoke of three centuries was
secured ten years later after the shedding of much blood. Peace did
not follow at once, however, for in the fifty years succeeding the
declaration of independence the form of government changed ten times,
and there were fifty-four different rulers, including two emperors and a
number of dictatorships. Special privileges are difficult to eradicate
when established by long usage, and those enjoying them yield only to
force. The Church, which had imposed on the people such a vast number
of priests, friars, and nuns, and had acquired the most of the wealth
of the country, clung with the grip of death to its privileges and
property. The changes came gradually, but it has been a half-century
since the Church and State were formally separated by constitutional
amendment. The bigoted and despotic Romanism, which was allied with the
Spanish aristocracy, has at last been subdued. A more tolerant spirit is
springing up towards other forms of religious faith through the efforts
of a powerful and liberal government. Education is also freeing the
people from the superstitious ignorance which has hitherto prevailed
in most parts of Mexico. There are occasional outbursts of fanaticism,
but they are quickly suppressed, and the government is making an honest
effort to preserve freedom of worship to all faiths.

The United States of Mexico is a federation composed of twenty-seven
states, three territories, and the federal district in which the
capital is located. The states are sovereign within themselves and are
held together under a federal constitution very much like our own.
This constitution was adopted on the 5th of February, 1857, and its
semi-centennial was recently celebrated with a few of the original
signers present. There is a congress composed of two bodies, the Senate
and Chamber of Deputies which meets twice each year. Each state is
represented in the former by two senators and in the latter by one
representative for each forty thousand of population. The right of
suffrage is restricted so that only a small proportion of the population
can exercise that privilege. They have not really reached popular
government, and politics, as we know them in the United States, do not
exist. A presidential election scarcely caused a ripple on the surface.
President Diaz was no doubt the popular choice, but comparatively few
votes were cast at his last election. The rule of the Diaz government
although decidedly autocratic was beneficient, and has redounded to the
good of the country. Though practically an absolute ruler, President Diaz
always acted through the regularly organized channels of a complete form
of republican government, and outwardly, at least, there was no semblance
of a dictatorship.

Mexico is a country of great natural resources and possibilities which
have been only partially developed. Its soil is remarkably fertile and
could support five times, and, if water could be found on the plateaus,
ten times the present population. And I say this notwithstanding the
fact that one man has said that Mexico is the poorest country south
of Greenland, and north of the south pole. The flora of the country,
among which are many useful and medicinal plants, is exceedingly rich
and varied. More species of fibre plants are found there than in any
other country, and the commercial utility of these plants is not yet
fully appreciated. In no country has there been greater waste of natural
resources than the Spanish conquerors caused in Mexico. It is as a mining
country that Mexico has been best known and the Mexican silver mines have
been famous ever since the discovery of the New World, and they are
still the greatest single source of wealth. Some of them which have been
worked for centuries are still yielding small fortunes in the white metal
each year.

The Mexican has his own view of the United States and does not call our
boasted progress and much-vaunted civilization, with its hurry, brusque
ways and the blotting out of the finer courtesies, an improvement. He
appreciates our mechanical contrivances and electrical inventions, but
prefers to enjoy life after his own fashion and in the way he thinks
that God intended in order to keep men happy. The civilization received
by Mexico in the sixteenth century was looked upon as equal to the best
in existence, and to this was added an ancient civilization found in
the country. From these sources a manner of living has been evolved
which bears evidences of culture and refinement. This system has flowed
on through the intervening centuries, undisturbed by the march of
progress, until the last quarter of a century. Things cannot be changed
to Anglo-Saxon standards in a year, or two years, or even a generation.
To Americanize Mexico will be a difficult if not impossible undertaking,
and there are no signs of such a transition. Americans who live there
fall into Mexican ways and moral standards more frequently than Mexicans
are converted to the American point of view. The influence of traditions,
customs, and climate, and the centuries-old habit of letting the morrow
take care of itself is too great to be overcome.



CHAPTER II

ACROSS THE PLATEAUS


The traveller going to Mexico by rail will discover that that country
begins long before the border is reached. While travelling over the great
state of Texas, where the dialect of the natives is as broad as the
rolling prairie round about, he is reminded of our southern neighbour
by the soft accents of the Spanish language, or by the entrance into
the coach of a Mexican cowboy with his great hat and picturesque suit.
Leaving beautiful San Antonio, which is a Spanish city modernized, it is
but a few hours until the train crosses the muddy Rio Grande at Laredo
and, after passing an imaginary line in the centre of the stream, enters
the land of burros and _sombreros_, a land of mysterious origin and vast
antiquity.

[Illustration: “THE LAND OF BURROS AND _SOMBREROS_”]

The custom officials are very polite and soon affix the necessary label
“despachado” to the baggage. “_Vamonos_” (we go) replaces the familiar
“all aboard,” and the train moves out over a country as flat and dreary
as a desert. By whichever route the traveller enters Mexico, the
journey is very uninteresting for the first half day. There is nothing
to relieve the monotony except the telephone and telegraph poles, with
their picturesque cross-arms standing out on the desert waste like giant
sentinels. There is no vegetation except the prickly pear, cactus, and
feather duster palms, for frequently no rain falls for years at a time.
It seems almost impossible that anything can get moisture from the
parched air of these plains. But nature has strange ways of adapting
life to conditions. A good illustration of this is seen in the _ixtle_,
a species of cactus whose leaves look as if they could not absorb any
moisture because of a hard varnish-like coat. Whenever any water in the
form of dew or rain appears, however, this glaze softens and the plant
absorbs all the moisture available and then glazes over again as soon as
the sun comes out.

There is very little life here. Sometimes at the stations a few adobe
huts are seen where dwell the section hands, and a few goats are visible
which, no doubt, find the prickly pear and cactus with an occasional
railroad spike thrown in for variety, much more satisfying than an
unchanging diet of tin cans such as falls to the lot of the city goat.
The mountain ranges then appear, and never is the traveller out of
sight of them in Mexico. On either side, toward the east and toward the
west, is a range with an ever varying outline, sometimes near, then
far,—advancing and retreating. At a distance in this clear atmosphere
their rough features are mellowed by a soft haze into amethyst and
purple; nearer they sometimes rise like a camp of giants and are the most
fantastic mountains that earthquakes ever made in sport, looking as if
nature had laughed herself into the convulsions in which they were formed.

The Mexican National Railway follows a broad road that was formerly an
Indian trail, and the track crosses and recrosses this highway many
times. By this same route it is probable that early Mexican races entered
that country and marched down toward the Valley of Mexico. It was by this
way that General Taylor invaded the country during the Mexican War and
several engagements took place along the line of this railroad.

The first town of any size is Monterey, capital of the state of Nuevo
Leon, the oldest and one of the most important cities in Northern
Mexico. It lies in a lovely valley with high hills on every side. It is
at a lower altitude than the cities farther south on this line and enjoys
a salubrious climate. Monterey is a very much Americanized town and has
great smelters, factories, and breweries, but it also boasts of beautiful
gardens and some old churches. The Topo Chico hot springs only a few
miles away have a great reputation for healing. Here it was, in 1846,
that General Taylor overcame a much superior force of the enemy under
General Ampudia in a desperate and stubbornly disputed battle lasting
several days, the contest being hotly fought from street to street. The
Mexican troops entered the houses and shot at the American soldiers from
the windows and roofs. It is now a city of more than fifty thousand
people.

Leaving Monterey, the road soon begins a gradual ascent to the higher
plateaus and reaches the zone called _tierra fria_, or cold country. This
name would seem a misnomer to one who hails from the land of snow and
ice, for the mean temperature of this “cold land” is that of a perpetual
spring such as is enjoyed north of Mason and Dixon’s line. It is properly
applied to all that part of Mexico which is six thousand feet or more
above the level of the sea and the greater part of the immense central
plateaus comes within this designation. These plains which comprise about
two-thirds of the entire country, are formed by the great Andes range of
mountains which separates into two great _cordillerias_ near Oaxaca and
gradually grow farther and farther apart as they approach the Rio Grande.
The western branch crowds the shore of the Pacific and the eastern
follows the coast line of the Gulf of Mexico, but the latter keeps at
a greater distance from the sea, thus giving a wider expanse of the
hotlands. They are not level tablelands, these _mesas_, as they always
slope in some direction. The arid condition follows as a natural course,
for the lofty ranges cause the rain to be precipitated on the coast lands
except during certain seasons in the year when the winds change. When the
rains do come, a miracle is wrought, and the sombre landscape blossoms
into a lively green dotted with flowers. It is rare to find such great
plains at so high an altitude. Although now almost barren of trees it is
probable that in early times these tablelands were covered with a forest
growth principally of oak and cypress. This is evidenced by the few
groves that yet remain, in which many of the trees are of extraordinary
dimensions. The Spaniards completed the spoliation that had been begun by
the earlier races.

Saltillo, the next important town, is the capital of the State of
Coahuila. It is interesting to Americans, as just a few miles from here
and near the railway took place the battle of Buena Vista, at the village
of that name. Here the Americans under General Taylor sent double their
number of Mexicans under the notorious Santa Anna, flying on February
23rd, 1847.

Still climbing, the road continues toward the capital, passes through
a rich mining district, and after the Tropic of Cancer is crossed the
traveller is in the Torrid Zone, the spot being marked by a pyramid.
Plains, seemingly endless, where for a hundred miles the long stretch
of track is without a curve, are traversed, and so dry that wells and
water-tanks are objects of interest. It is mostly given up to vast
_haciendas_. Some of these estates still remain in the hands of the
original families as granted at the time of the conquest.

It was on these vast, seemingly barren plateaus that the _hacienda_
reached its highest development. One does not go far south of the Rio
Grande before the significance of this institution in Mexican life
becomes apparent. Sometimes when the train stops at a little adobe
station with a long name, the traveller wonders what is the need of a
station; for there is no town and only a few native huts clustered around
the depot. However a glance around the horizon will reveal the towers and
spire of a _hacienda_ nestling at the foot of the hills perhaps several
miles away. In the olden times they took the place of the feudal castles
of the middle ages in Europe and in these sparsely settled regions they
were especially necessary. Within the high walls which often surround
them for protection were centralized the residence of the owner and all
of his employees and the necessary buildings to store the products of
the soil. The _hacendado’s_ home was a large, roomy building, for, since
there were no inns, the traveller must be entertained and hospitality
was of the open-handed sort. The travel-worn wayfarer was welcomed and
no questions asked. His wants were supplied and at his departure the
benediction “Go, and God be with you,” followed him. Even yet at some of
these great _haciendas_, where the old-time customs prevail, the bell is
rung at mealtime and any one who hears it is welcomed at the table.

The term _hacienda_ has a double meaning, for it is applied both to
the great estates and to the buildings. It is a patriarchal existence
that is led by these landed proprietors. A thousand peons and more are
frequently attached to the estate. Near the station of Villa Reyes is a
great _hacienda_ which once controlled twenty thousand peons. These must
be provided with homes, but a room fifteen feet square is considered
sufficient for a family, no matter how large. Little furniture is needed,
for they live out of doors mostly, and mats, which can be removed during
the day, take the place of cumbersome beds. The _administrador_, who may
be an Indian also, and other heads, live better and are housed in larger
quarters. A church is always a part of the estate and a priest must be
kept to furnish spiritual solace, as well as a doctor to administer to
those whose bodies are infirm. Schools are also maintained by most of the
proprietors to-day. The peon must be provided with his provisions each
week and a little patch of ground for his own use. Around the buildings
lie the cultivated fields, and from early morn until the shades of night
have fallen, lines of burros are constantly passing in and out laden with
wood, corn, vegetables, poultry, boxes of freight, and all the other
items of traffic which are a part of the life of this great household.

After piercing another of the mountain ranges which intersect the country
from east to west, and traversing miles of fertile fields and gardens
bearing semi-tropical fruits and vegetables, the road enters a valley
and the city of San Luis Potosi is reached. Every country has its Saint
Louis, but only one has a Saint Louis of the Treasure, and that is
San Luis Potosi, the capital of the state of that name. It lies in a
spreading plain of great fertility—made so by irrigation—whose gardens
extend to the encircling hills that are rich in the mineral treasures
which give the city its name. The San Pedro mines near here alone produce
an annual output of several millions. These mines were revealed to
Spaniards by an Indian who had become converted to Christianity. There is
a mint here that coins several millions of dollars each year.

[Illustration: MARKET SCENE IN SAN LUIS POTOSI]

San Luis Potosi is not a new city nor has its growth been of the mushroom
variety. Founded in the middle of the sixteenth century, it preserves
to-day in wood and stone the spirit of old Spain transplanted by the
conquerors to the new world. Drawn hither by the reports of gold, the
Spanish cavalier stalked through the streets of this town in complete
mail before the _Mayflower_ landed on the shores of Massachusetts. The
priests were chanting the solemn service of the church here long before
the English landed at Jamestown. Dust had gathered on the municipal
library, which now contains a hundred thousand volumes, centuries before
the building of the first little red school house in the United States.
Before New York had been thought of, the drama of life was being enacted
here daily after Castillian models.

It is a cleanly city and the bright attractive look of its houses
is refreshing. A city ordinance compels the citizens to keep up the
appearance of their houses, and the colours remind one of Seville. It is
pleasant to walk along these streets and through the plazas with their
trees and flowers and fountains.

I will never forget my arrival in this city. We reached there about
midnight, having been delayed by a wreck; and a number of _mozos_ pounced
upon the party of Americans who had been dropped by the belated train,
each one eager to carry some of the baggage. We were marched through the
Alameda, which, for a wonder, adjoins the station, on walks shaded by
broad-leaved, tropical plants, down narrow streets and around several
corners to the hotel. Arrived here it was only after several minutes
of vigorous knocking that a sleepy-looking porter opened the door,
and we entered the hotel and walked down the hall through a line of
sleeping servants. The room finally assigned to my friend and myself was
thirty-four feet long, sixteen feet wide and about twenty-five feet high,
and there were four great windows extending nearly from ceiling to floor
and protected by heavy iron bars which made them look like the windows
of a prison. It had doubtless been some church property at one time, but
whether monastery or convent I did not learn.

[Illustration: COCK-FIGHTING IN MEXICO]

Not all this city is pretty however, for distance often lends
enchantment, and a closer scrutiny takes away much of this charm. I
saw filth on the streets here that can only be duplicated in old Spain
itself. There are numerous churches and several of them are quite
pretentious and contain some fine paintings. On the façade of one
church there is a clock presented by the king of Spain in return for
the largest piece of gold ever found in America. San Luis is a thrifty
city as Mexican towns go and has numerous manufacturing establishments,
including a large smelting works, the Compania Metallurgica, and is an
important railroad centre. It is distant from the City of Mexico three
hundred and sixty-two miles, and has a population of seventy thousand
souls.

This city claims quite a number of American families as residents and
many of the storekeepers have been somewhat Americanized, for they
actually seem to be on the lookout for business. The state capitol is
a very interesting building. While looking through this palace I saw
the “line up” of petty offenders who were being sent out to sweep the
streets. They were the worst looking lot of _pulque_-drinkers I ever saw
and were clothed in rags. Each one was given a handful of twigs with
which he was obliged to sweep the streets and gutters, and they were sent
out in gangs, each under a police officer. The vices of these people are
generally more evident than their virtues. They are inveterate gamblers.
Wherever one goes (not alone in San Luis Potosi) fighting cocks are
encountered tied by the leg to a stake with a few feet of string. Or they
may be carried in the arms of young would-be sports who brag of their
birds to any one who will listen. One day I saw a man with a cock whose
head was one bloody-looking mass. He had just cut off the rooster’s
comb. When I stopped and looked, the Indian laughed as though it were a
great joke and said he was “much sick.” This was done so that in a fight
his opponent could not catch hold of the comb. Itinerant cock-fighters
who travel across the country carrying their birds in hollow straw tubes
are popular fellows.

Leaving San Luis Potosi at noontime the traveller catches his last
glimpse of this city where

    “Upon the whitened city walls
    The golden sunshine softly falls,
    On archways set with orange trees,
    On paven courts and balconies.”

The train soon enters a rich agricultural belt and the country becomes
more populous. Giant cacti towering straight and tall to a height of
fifteen or twenty feet are a common sight.

Dolores Hidalgo where the patriot-priest first sounded the call to
liberty and revolution is passed. Then comes Querétero, which occupies a
prominent place in Mexican history and is the last city of any size on
the way to the capital. Here the treaty of peace between Mexico and the
United States was negotiated. In this city Maximilian played the last
act in the tragedy of the empire. He was captured while attempting to
escape on June 19th, 1867, and was shot on the Cerro de las Campañas, a
little hill just outside the city. With him were shot Generals Miramon
and Mejia. Maximilian died with the cry of “_Viva Mexico_” on his lips.
There is a magnificent aqueduct here which, because of the high arches,
looks like the old ruined aqueduct seen on approaching Rome. The tallest
arch is nearly one hundred feet. The entire length of the aqueduct is
about five miles and it is still in use. There are a number of factories
for cotton goods. Among them is the great Hercules Mill which employs
more than two thousand hands. The grounds are laid out in elaborate and
beautiful style.

After climbing the mountain range again until an altitude of nearly ten
thousand feet has been reached, the descent begins and the beauty of the
Valley of Mexico unfolds. Fleeting glimpses of the scene may be caught
through little gaps in the mountains until finally the train enters a
pass and the traveller has his first view of the City of Mexico. Beyond
the glittering towers and domes of the modern city on the site of the
ancient Aztec capital lies the bright expanse of the lakes, and still
further in the distance is seen the encircling girdle of mountains like
a protecting wall around this enchanted scene.

There are many other cities situated on these vast plateaus, for the
_tierra fria_ has always maintained the bulk of the population in spite
of the extraordinary richness of the lowlands. They are growing in size
as manufacturing establishments become more numerous. A number of them
like Chihuahua, Aguas Calientes, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Durango, and
Leon are interesting cities of from thirty to forty thousand inhabitants
and all of them are old. Chihuahua (pronounced Che-wa-wa) is the capital
of the state of that name which is the largest state in the republic
and is twice as large as the state of Ohio. It has a population of less
than four hundred thousand. This will serve to give a little idea of the
vastness of these great tablelands and the sparseness of population. It
is chiefly devoted to great ranches where hundreds of thousands of cattle
are grazed.

It may be interesting to note that cattle ranching originated in this
state. All the terms used on the range and roundup are of Spanish origin
and are the same that have been employed for centuries. One man here
is the owner of a cattle ranch covering seventeen million acres. The
traveller might journey for days and cross ranges of mountains and not
pass beyond his princely domain. There are a number of cattle ranches of
from one to two million acres and a few Americans are now entering the
field here since the public domain in the United States has dwindled so
much.

Two cities, Guadalajara and Puebla, have long disputed for the honour
of second city in the republic. Puebla is situated southeast of the
capital and is a city of tiles, for tiles are used everywhere from the
domes of churches to floors for the devout to kneel upon. It is the
capital of the richest state in the republic and has probably seen more
of the vicissitudes of war than any other city. It has been captured
and occupied successively by Spaniards, Americans and French and by
revolutionists times without number. This city was the scene of General
Zaragossa’s victory on May 5th, 1862, when he repulsed the French forces
just outside the city’s gates. This victory is celebrated each year as
the “_cinco de Mayo_” (Fifth of May) and is the great anti-foreign day.
Formerly foreigners did not show themselves on the street on this day,
but that antagonistic sentiment has disappeared. In 1906 because of
labour disturbances for which American agitators were blamed trouble was
feared on this day, but it passed off without an unpleasant incident.
This city was founded as early as 1532. Its history is romantic and full
of legends recounting the many visits of the angels. Angels appeared
one night and staked out the city. Again, while the cathedral was being
built, the angels came after nightfall when the city was wrapped in
slumber and built a great part of the tower. At another time the angels
were marshalled in mighty hosts just over the city. The people can even
point out to you the very places where the angelic visitors roosted.
The ecclesiastical records vouch for these appearances of the heavenly
visitors and the people devoutly believe in them.

Puebla has wide streets—for Mexico—and many beautiful plazas with
flowers and fountains. It is also noted for its bull-fights and has two
bull-rings. These are in use nearly every Sunday and frequently for the
benefit of or in honour of some church feast or departed saint. The
public buildings are very creditable and the city contains good schools
and hospitals. A goodly number of foreigners live here, especially
Germans. I have noticed that the Germans affiliate with the Mexicans
much better than Americans generally do. One reason is that they come
here to establish their permanent residence, while Americans, like the
Chinese, desire to make their fortunes and then return to the land of
their birth to spend their later days.

Puebla has become quite a manufacturing city and especially of cotton
goods, paper, flour and soaps. Onyx and marble are quarried near here,
and a large number of workmen are employed in the quarries and in
the establishments preparing these materials for the market. Several
railroads now reach this city, and its importance as an industrial centre
is increasing each year.

All kinds of grains that are produced in the temperate zones will grow on
the tablelands of Mexico wherever there is sufficient rain or water to
be obtained by irrigation. A constantly increasing amount of acreage is
being made available through the extension of the irrigation system, but
its possibilities are only beginning to be realized. Corn, which is such
a great article of food with the Mexicans, is by far the most valuable
agricultural product and several hundred million bushels are produced
each year. Wheat was first introduced in Mexico by a monk who planted a
few grains that he had brought with him. This grain is now raised quite
extensively in some districts but frequently there is not enough for even
local consumption. Cotton is also produced in a number of the states.

[Illustration: THE _MAGUEY_]

Mexico is especially rich in fibre-producing plants and no country in the
world has so many different varieties. All of these belong to the great
cactus, or _agave_, family. The value of the cactus has never been fully
appreciated but new uses are being found for it constantly, and new kinds
with valuable qualities are being discovered in Mexico almost yearly.
Perhaps the most valuable plant of this family that is being cultivated
in Mexico to-day is that species of the _agave_ that produces the
valuable henequen fibre of commerce. This plant very much resembles the
_maguey_ and grows on the thin, rocky, limestone soil of Yucatan. From
this fibre is made most of the binder twine and much of the rope used in
the United States. It has the threefold qualities of strength, pliability
and colour. In the past twenty years the cultivation of henequen has
grown to enormous proportions, and some of the planters have become
millionaires almost rivalling the famous bonanza kings of olden times.
The amount of henequen, or sisal, fibre exported to the United States
from 1880 to 1905 was nine million, two hundred and nineteen thousand,
two hundred and fifteen bales at an estimated value of $300,988,072.66.
In 1902 the exports reached a maximum, and amounted to $34,185,275. All
of this fibre is exported through the port of Progreso.

Several species of the cactus family are being experimented with, and it
is claimed that they will produce an excellent quality of paper pulp.
This may help to solve the problem that now bothers paper manufacturers
as the forests of spruce disappear before the woodsman’s ax. The graceful
_maguey_, the _agave americana_, is cultivated almost everywhere on the
plateau lands. It also produces a valuable fibre, but this plant is not
cultivated primarily for that purpose. The ancient races used the thorns
for pins and needles; the leaves furnished a kind of parchment for their
writings and thatch for their roofs; and the juice when fermented made
a—to them—most delicious drink. On the plains of Apam just east of the
Valley of Mexico and north of Puebla the cultivation of the _maguey_ has
reached the highest development.

The good housewife in the United States who carefully nourishes the
century plant, hoping that at least her descendants will have the
pleasure of seeing it blossom at the end of a hundred years, would be
surprised to see the immense plantations consisting of thousands of this
same plant growing here. The plant, commonly called the _maguey_, is a
native of Mexico and grows to great size. It flourishes best in rocky
and sandy soil and is quite imposing in appearance. Its dark green,
spiked leaves which lift themselves up and spread out in graceful curves,
sometimes reach a length of fifteen feet, and are a foot in breadth and
several inches thick. It requires from six to ten years for the _maguey_
to mature on its native heath. When that period arrives a slender stalk
springs up from the centre of these great leaves, twenty to thirty feet
high, upon which a great mass of small flowers is clustered. This supreme
effort exhausts the plant and, its duty to nature having been performed,
it withers and dies.

This is not the purpose for which the _maguey_ is raised on the big
plantations where the rows of graceful century plants stretch out as far
as the eye can reach in unwavering regularity. On these plantations the
_maguey_ is not permitted to flower. The Indians know, by infallible
signs, almost the very hour at which it is ready to send up the central
stalk, and it is then marked by an overseer with a cross. The stalk is
now full of the sap which is the object of its culture. Other Indians
follow up the overseer and, making an incision at the base of the plant,
extract the central portion, leaving only the rind which forms a natural
basin. Into this the sap, which is called _agua miel_, or honey-water,
and which is almost as clear as water and as sweet as honey, collects. So
quickly does this fluid gather that it is found necessary to remove it
two or three times per day. The method of gathering this sap is extremely
primitive. The Indian is provided with a long gourd at the lower end of
which is a horn. He places the small end, which is open, in the liquid
and, applying his lips to an opening in the large end, sucks the sap up
into the gourd. The sap is then emptied into a receptacle swung across
his back which is made of a whole goat-skin or pig-skin with the hair
on the inside. The _maguey_ plant will yield six or more quarts of this
“honey-water” in a day and the supply will continue from one to three
months. It is then exhausted and withers and decays. However, a new shoot
will spring up from the old roots without replanting.

This innocent looking and savoury sap is then taken to a building
prepared for the purpose and there poured into vats made of cowhides
stretched on a frame. In each vat a little sour liquor called “mother of
_pulque_” has been poured. This causes quick fermentation and in a few
hours the _pulque_ of the Mexican is ready for the market. It is at its
best after about twenty-four hours fermentation. It then has somewhat
the appearance and taste of stale buttermilk and a rancid smell. After
more fermentation it has the odour of putrid meat. The skins in which it
is carried increase this disagreeable odour. The first taste of _pulque_
to a stranger is repellant. However, it is said that, contrary to the
general rule, familiarity breeds a liking. Great virtues are claimed for
it in certain ailments and it is said to be wholesome. However this is
not the reason why the peons drink _pulque_ in such great quantities.
Several special trainloads go in each day to the City of Mexico over
one road, besides large amounts over other routes and it is a great
revenue producer for the railroads. The daily expenditure for _pulque_
in the City of Mexico alone is said to exceed twenty thousand dollars.
Physicians say that the brain is softened, digestion ruined and nerves
paralyzed by a too generous use of this liquor. Many employers of labour
will not employ labourers from the _pulque_ districts if they can
possibly get them from other sources. _Tequila_ and _Mescal_ are two
forms of ardent spirits distilled from a juice yielded by the leaves and
root of the _maguey_. They are forms of brandy that it is best for the
traveller to leave alone.



CHAPTER III

THE CAPITAL


The City of Mexico represents progressive Mexico. In it is concentrated
the wealth, culture and refinement of the republic. It is the political,
the educational, the social and the commercial centre of the whole
country. It is to Mexico what Paris is to France. In fact it would
be Mexico as Paris would be France. The same glare and glitter of a
pleasure-loving metropolis are found here, and within the same boundaries
may be seen the deepest poverty and most abject degradation.

[Illustration: MAP OF THE VALLEY OF MEXICO]

“Wait until you get to the City of Mexico,” said an educated Mexican
to me as we were crossing the sparsely-settled tablelands of northern
Mexico, where the only inhabitants are Indians. The Mexicans are proud of
their city and are pleased to have it likened to the gay French capital,
for their ideals and tastes are fashioned after the Latin standard
rather than the American. The French, they say, have the culture and
can embrace _a la Mexicana_, which is done by throwing an arm around a
friend whom they meet and patting him heartily on the back. They prefer
the easy-going, wait-a-while style of existence to the hurried, strenuous
life of an American city. No people love leisure and the pursuit of
pleasure more than our neighbours in the Mexican metropolis. They work
during the morning hours, take a noon _siesta_, close up early in the
afternoon and are ready for pleasure in the evening until a late hour.

In appearance the capital resembles Madrid more than any other city I
have ever seen. The architecture is the Moorish-Spanish style, into which
some Aztec modifications have been wrought by the new-world builders.
The light, airy appearance of an American city is absent for there are
no frame structures anywhere. The square, flat-roofed buildings, with
walls thick enough to withstand any earthquake shock, are two or three
stories in height and built round a _patio_, or courtyard, the centre of
which is open to the sky. The old architects were not hampered by such
paltry considerations as the price of lots, and so they built veritable
palaces with wide corridors and rooms lofty and huge. Through many of
these rooms you might easily drive a carriage. There are parlours as
large as public halls, and throughout all one notes the _grandiose_ ideas
of the race. The houses, of stone or brick covered with stucco, are built
clear up to the sidewalk so that there is no tinge of green in front. The
Mexican is not particular about the exterior of his home, but expends
his thought and money on the open court within. The plainness of the
outside is relieved only by the large gate, or door, which is also the
carriage drive-way, and the neat little, iron-grated balconies on which
the windows open from the upper stories.

[Illustration: THE PATIO OF AN OLD RESIDENCE]

These balconies afford a convenient place for the women of the household
to see what is passing on the street, and also for the _señorita_, or
young lady, to watch the restless pacing to and fro of the love-stricken
youth who is “playing bear” in front of the house. The great doorway,
which is carefully barred and bolted at night, and strictly guarded by
the porter during the day, is the only entrance to the _patio_, which,
in the better class of homes, is adorned with pretty gardens, statuary
and fountains. Many of them contain an open plunge bath. Through the
wide windows one catches glimpses of fascinating interiors, and through
the broad doorways the passer-by on the street gets many a pretty view
of the courtyards, and of these miniature gardens. One or two rows of
living-apartments extend around and above the court, with broad corridors
in front handsomely paved with tile, protected by balustrades and adorned
with flowers and vines. Above, the red tiles of the roof add a little
additional colour to the scene. There are no cellars nor chimneys. The
latter were never introduced because of the mildness of the climate. In
the courts protected from the winds, the people keep on the sunny side
when it is cool and hide from the same orb when it is hot. Charcoal fires
are used for cooking and heat when it becomes necessary. Cellars are made
impossible because of the marshy nature of the soil.

It will be recalled that Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, has been called
the New World Venice, whose streets were once canals. It must have been
a gay and picturesque scene when the fair surface of its waters was
resplendent with shining cities and flowering islets. The waters have
since receded until Lake Texcoco, at its nearest point, is three miles
distant. Mexico is now a more prosaic city of streets and cross-streets
which extend from north to south and from east to west. Some of the
principal thoroughfares are broad, paved with asphalt and well kept;
but many are quite narrow, and especially is this true of the streets
called lanes, though devoted to business. There is no exclusive residence
section, except in the new additions, and many of the homes of the old
families are found sandwiched in between stores. It is a difficult matter
to become familiar with the names of the streets, for they are more than
nine hundred in number, and a street generally has a different name for
each block. If several blocks have the same name, as, for instance, Calle
de San Francisco, one of the finest streets, and on or near which are
some of the largest hotels, finest stores and richest private dwellings,
then it is First San Francisco, Second San Francisco, etc.

A few years ago the streets were re-named. All the streets extending
east and west were called _avenidas_, and the north and south streets
_calles_, each continuous thoroughfare being given but one name.
The people, however, in this land of legend and tradition, clung so
tenaciously to the former designations that they have practically been
restored. Some of the old names of streets commemorated historical
events, as, for instance, the Street of the _Cinco de Mayo_, which is in
remembrance of the victory of the Mexicans over the French at Puebla in
1862. Others are named in honour of men noted in the history of Mexico.
Many religious terms appear, such as the street of Jesus, Sanctified
Virgin, Holy Ghost, Sepulchres of the Holy Sabbath, and the like. Others
owe their names to some incident or legend, which is both interesting and
mysterious. Of the latter class may be mentioned the Street of the Sad
Indian, Lane of Pass if You Can, Street of the Lost Child, Street of the
Wood Owls, Lane of the Rat, Bridge of the Raven and Street of the Walking
Priest. The Street of the Coffin Makers is now known as the Street of
Death. It is a thoroughfare of one block, and is one of the few streets
that still preserves its ancient caste, for it is devoted exclusively
to the makers of coffins. All of the coffins are made by hand. It is a
gloomy street and there are cleaner spots on the face of the earth.

Mexico is a very cosmopolitan city. Its three hundred and seventy-five
thousand inhabitants include representatives from nearly every nation
of the earth. The Indians are vastly in the majority, and they are
the pure and original Mexicans. The Creoles, who are descendants of
Europeans, generally Spanish, call themselves the Mexicans and rank
second in number. They form the real aristocratic body from whom come
the representative Mexicans. They are not all dark, but a blonde is a
rare specimen. Most of them have an olive-brown colour, thus showing
the mixture of Indian blood, for in early days it was not considered a
_mesalliance_ for even a Spanish officer of high rank to marry an Aztec
maiden of the better class.

The old families cling tenaciously to the great estates, or _haciendas_,
many of which have remained intact for centuries. Quite a number can even
trace their estates back to the original grants from the king of Spain.
Many of these _hacendados_, or landed proprietors, enjoy princely incomes
from their lands, and nearly all of them own residences in the capital.
They maintain elaborate establishments and keep four times as many
servants as would be found in an American house.

The average Mexican does not care for business. Neither is he an inventor
or originator, for he is content to live as his ancestors have lived.
Nearly all lines of commerce and industry are in the hands of foreigners.
The Germans monopolize the hardware trade; the French conduct nearly
all the dry goods stores; the Spaniards are the country’s grocers; and
the Americans and English control the railroad, electric and mining
industries. All these interests centre in the City of Mexico. Railroads
are not very numerous until you approach the Valley of Mexico where
they converge from all directions. The hum of industry is apparent here
as nowhere else in the whole republic. The Mexicans boast of their
capital, but they often forget the debt they owe to foreigners, for all
the modern improvements have been installed by alien races and outside
capital. It is another foreign invasion but with a pacific mission.
The American colony alone in that city numbers more than six thousand
persons, and the number is constantly increasing. Hatred of the American
has almost disappeared, and the incomers are cordially welcomed. There
are two flourishing clubs around which the social life of the expatriated
Americans centre.

The society of the capital, and indeed of the whole country, is very
diverse. What might be said of one class would not apply to another. The
differences of dress and customs alone make known the heterogeneousness
of the population. They all use the same language and all classes are
brought together on a common level in their religion. No other nation has
ever made such complete conquests as Spain. She not only subjugated the
lands but forced her language, as well as religion, upon the conquered
races. The English have succeeded in extending their sway over a large
part of the world, but in no instance have they been able to accomplish
these two results with the native population. The priests of Spain went
hand in hand with the _conquistadores_, and, within a few generations
after the conquest of Mexico by Cortez, the Spanish language was
universally used and the Indians were at least nominal Catholics.

The climate of the City of Mexico is delightful. It is neither hot nor
cold. It is too far south to be cold and the altitude, seven thousand,
four hundred and thirty-four feet above the level of the sea, is
too great to be hot. The temperature usually ranges from sixty-five
to eighty-five, but sometimes goes as high as ninety, and as low as
thirty-five, and frosts occasionally are experienced. The mornings and
evenings are cool and at midday it is always hot. There is a great
difference in the temperature between the sunny and shady side of the
street. Only dogs and Americans take the sunny side, the Mexicans say.
The rainy and dry seasons occur with great regularity, the former
lasting from May to October. It is the best season in the year although
most visitors go there in winter. The rains always occur in the afternoon
and usually cease before dark. At this time, too, all nature takes on a
beautiful shade of green which replaces the rather dull landscape of the
dry season. There is also a brisk, electric condition of the atmosphere
that is decidedly exhilarating and a good tonic.

This mildness of climate has greatly influenced the life of the capital.
The streets, except during the noon _siesta_, are full of people at all
times. To judge from the crowds, one might think the capital a city of
a million people. In the morning the women go to mass garbed in black,
generally wearing a black shawl over the head. Occasionally a black lace
mantilla is seen half-concealing, half-exposing the olive-brown face, and
bright, sparkling eyes of a _señorita_. Shoppers are out and business
is active. The women of the wealthier classes sit in their carriages
and have the goods brought out to them, or go to a private room where
articles are exhibited by clerks. They think that it is unbecoming to
stand at the counters, although the American plan of shopping is becoming
quite popular in recent years.

About the middle of the afternoon the crowds again appear, and a
little later the streets begin to fill with carriages. Nowhere, not
even in Paris, have I observed so many carriages as can be seen here on
any pleasant afternoon. They form one continuous, slow-moving line of
many miles. The procession moves out San Francisco Street through the
Alameda, along the Paseo de la Reforma, and then into the beautiful park
surrounding the Castle of Chapultepec which is set with great cypresses,
said to antedate the conquest. The cavalcade winds around through the
various drives at the base of the rock, along the shores of the lake,
past the castle and back to the city. The carriages go out on one side
and return on the other, leaving the central portion for riders. It
is a sight that never wearies for one to sit on a bench and watch the
motley throng of people driving, riding on horseback and promenading.
An oriental exclusiveness is observed by ladies of the upper class who
always ride in closed carriages. All kinds of vehicles are to be seen,
from fine equipages with liveried drivers and footmen, to the poorest cab
in the city with its disreputable driver and broken-down horses, fit only
for the bull-ring.

There are many horsemen and the Mexicans are always excellent riders.
Their horses are Lilliputian in size but fast and enduring. The saddle,
bridle and trappings are frequently gorgeous with their silver ornaments
and immense stirrups fancifully worked and shaped. The rider is often a
picture wonderful to behold from the heavy silver spurs which he wears,
to the sombrero of brown or yellow felt with a brim ten to fifteen inches
wide and a crown equally as high, the whole covered with heavy gilt cord
formed into a sort of rope. Then there is the dude or fop, who is well
named in Mexico. He is called a “_lajartija_” which means a “little
lizard.” He used to dress in such close-fitting and stiff costumes that
he had not much more freedom of motion than the stiff little lizard.
Now he is the dandy who is generally seen standing on a public corner,
wearing a French cutaway suit, American patent leather shoes and an
English stovepipe hat, with his fingers closed over the indispensable
cigarette.

In the evening the populace attend the theatre or some social function.
Sunday is the day of all others for recreation, and, with the average
inhabitant of Mexico, is one continuous and eternal round of pleasure.
After morning service the entire day is devoted to pleasure. Band
concerts are always given by the military bands on the Plaza in the
morning, in the Alameda early in the afternoon, and at Chapultepec about
five o’clock. Then there is the bull-fight which occurs only on Sundays
and holidays.

The average crowd in the City of Mexico is a good natured and peaceable
one. The city Indian and his country cousin, the peon from the
plantation, join the crowd on a feast day with their numerous progeny.
They are not the pleasantest neighbours in the world for both have
the odour of garlic and _pulque_ and their baths are of the annual
variety. That the little brown man is a peon is no fault of his. His
uncleanliness is, in a measure, the result of centuries of neglect, and
more particularly of a scarcity of water at his home. It is possible that
if he had the water his condition would be just the same. Though he is
poor and down-trodden, there is nothing of the anarchist about him. He is
absolutely devoid of envy or malice; and withal his spirits are gay and
he is as generous to his family or friends as his finances permit. The
artificial refinements of modern civilization have not yet spoiled him,
and there is a pleasant, even if malodorous, naturalness about him.

In no city do ancient and modern customs come into such intimate
contrast as in the City of Mexico. Nowhere is a greater mixture of races
to be seen than here. There are many tribes of Indians speaking scores
of dialects, and there are _mestizos_ of various degrees of mixture with
African, American and European blood. Types of four centuries can be seen
in any group on one of the plazas. The Plaza Mayor is a great, imposing,
central square of fourteen acres in the centre of the city, and on its
walks all the types can be seen at their best. Men and women come into
the city through the streets lighted by electricity, bearing immense
loads on their heads and backs rather than use a wagon. Peddlers carry
around jars of water for sale just as in the olden times. Indians, who
are almost pure Aztecs, pass along, taking the middle of the street in
Indian file. Well dressed men in black broadcloth suits and wearing silk
hats go by. The women of the middle class add colour to the scene with
the red and blue _rebosas_, sometimes covering the head, or tied across
the chest and holding an infant at the back. Nearly all the passers-by
show in their colour that they can claim kinship with the hosts of
Montezuma. The general effect is kaleidoscopic but entertaining. The
great cathedral on the north side of the Plaza is the one place where
all are brought together and class distinction obliterated. Visit the
cathedral any day and you may see an Indian with his pack on his back
side by side with a young woman who may inherit a dozen titles. There
are no select, high-priced, aristocratic pews for rent, but all meet by
a common genuflection before the sacred altars. The poor Indian may not
understand all the pomp and ceremony, the music of the vested choirs,
or the solemn chanting by the priests, but it fills a deep want in his
nature and he is satisfied.

At one side of the Plaza Mayor once stood the great Aztec _Teocalli_, the
Temple of Sacrifice. This was a high imposing altar reached by a flight
of more than a hundred steps. From the top was a magnificent view of
the entire valley, and it was from this point that the envious eyes of
Cortez looked out upon this beautiful scene. The altar was dedicated to
the Aztec war god Huitzilopochtli, and here, to appease the wrath of this
terrible god, human sacrifices were offered. The breast was cut open and
the heart, still palpitating, plucked out and placed upon the altar. The
bodies were cast down to the ground, whence they were taken and prepared
for the banquet table.

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL]

A part of the space once covered by this gruesome but majestic pile, is
now occupied by the Monte de Piedad, or “mountain of mercy,” one of the
most unique charities in the world. It is nothing more or less than a
gigantic pawn-shop, but it is one of the most beneficient institutions
in the country. The Count of Regla, a noted personage in Mexico, founded
this institution by a gift of three hundred thousand dollars. He did
this in order that the poor and needy, and the impoverished members of
families once genteel, might secure small sums upon personal property at
low rates of interest, instead of becoming involved in the meshes of the
blood-sucking vampires who prey upon this class of unfortunates. About
three-fourths of the actual value of the property pledged as fixed by
appraisers, will be loaned. If the interest is not paid, the property is
kept for seven months, when it is offered for sale at a fixed price. If
not disposed of in another five months it is sold at auction.

The truly remarkable feature of this establishment is, that if a greater
sum is realized than the amount of the loan and interest, the excess is
placed to the credit of the owner, or his heirs, and will be kept for
one hundred years, after which time it reverts to the institution. Many
old heirlooms of former grandees, Aztec curios, diamonds, gold ornaments
and even family gods have passed through this organization of charity.
For more than a century it has existed, having survived all the civil
wars, revolutions and changes of government. The original capital has
been more than doubled by the forfeitures, and many branches of this
parent institution are operated in the capital and in several of the
large cities of the republic. It is an example that might be suggested to
some of our multi-millionaires who do not know what to do with their vast
accumulations of wealth.

Even the funerals are conducted in a strange way. With the exception of
funerals among the wealthy, the street cars are universally used. The
enterprising owner of the street car system some years ago acting on the
trust idea, bought up all the hearses and introduced funeral cars. After
a short time the people became accustomed to the new plan, which seemed
to give satisfaction. Now, trolley funeral cars of the first, second and
third class are furnished at a price varying from five dollars for the
cheapest class, to a hundred dollars or more for a first-class car. Some
of the poor rent coffins which are returned after the burial. The very
poor may be seen carrying their dead on their shoulders to the _Campo
Santo_, or holy ground. Graves are usually sold only for a certain number
of years, after which, unless the relatives pay the prescribed fee, the
bones are taken up and the ground made ready for a new occupant. The
dead are soon forgotten. A pile of bones in a corner of the cemetery
represents all that is mortal of the generations who passed away not many
years ago. There is an entire lack of reverence for the mortal remains of
the departed, such as one is accustomed to find in our own country. One
is reminded of the couplet

    “Rattle his bones over the stones,
    He’s only a pauper, whom nobody owns.”

The City of Mexico is not the healthiest city in the world. On the
contrary the death rate is unusually high. The average duration of life
is said to be only twenty-six years. This is due in a great measure to
infant mortality. Typhoid and malarial fevers are prevalent because
of the accumulated drainage of centuries, which lies just a few feet
beneath the surface. Pneumonia is common and regarded as very dangerous
because of the rarefied air, and patients suffering from this disease are
immediately transported to lower altitudes for treatment. The entire
lack of hygiene and sanitary conditions among the peon classes is in a
great measure responsible for the unusual percentage of mortality. Few
other cities in the world have such a high rate of deaths compared with
the population.

Strange it is that the capital was ever built on this low, marshy soil
when higher land was available and near at hand. It was one of the great
blunders of Cortez, for Mexico might have been made a healthy city. No
exigency of commerce dictated its selection, for it is far from the
sea coast on either side and was difficult of access before the day of
railroads. The new city was built on the site of the old, and the temples
of the Christian religion were raised on the sites of the old pagan
altars wherever possible. A plan of moving the city to higher ground
was strongly agitated at one time but the vested interests succeeded
in killing this project. It is hoped and believed that when the plans
for sewerage are completed, the health conditions will be placed on a
par with that of most cities. The authorities are making an honest and
earnest effort to carry out these commendable projects.

    “Know ye not pulque,
    Liquor divine,
    The Angels in heaven
    Prefer it to wine.”

Thus sings the lower class Mexican to whom this liquor has become a
curse. To it is due much of his poverty and many of his crimes. For it he
will neglect his family and steal from his employer. It does not contain
a large percentage of alcohol, but, taken in large quantities, as is
customary among these people, it puts them in a dopy condition which they
sleep off. One railroad brings in a train-load each day, and, besides,
large quantities are brought in by other lines. There are sixteen hundred
pulque saloons in the capital, but they are all closed at six o’clock by
a law which is strictly enforced. The pulque-shop betrays itself by its
odour, as well as by the crowds of poorly dressed and even filthy men and
women who surround its doors and press around the counter. It is a gaily
decorated affair and is oftentimes adorned in flaring colours inside and
out, with reds, blues, greens and yellows predominating, and frequently
with a huge, rude painting on the outside walls. In some of the shops you
will find a curious string knotted in a peculiar manner or strung with
shells. This is a survival of the Aztec method of counting by means of
beads, or shells, strung together.

As one writer says, “the pulque shop, notwithstanding its evil influence
upon the life of the people, presents a very picturesque appearance to
the tourist who has never seen anything like it before. The dress of
the people, the curious, vivid colours of the walls of the building,
the semi-barbaric appearance of the decorations within, the curious
semi-symbolic pictures upon the walls, the unaccustomed groupings of the
people, all combine to attract the attention of the stranger in Mexico.”

[Illustration: A PICTURESQUE PULQUE SHOP]

In the naming of the pulque-dens the imagination is allowed full play.
I quote from a Mexican periodical the names of some of these resorts: A
place in the suburbs of Mexico is termed the “Delight of Bacchus.” One
is called “The Seventh Heaven,” another “The Food of the Gods,” while
still another bears the euphonious title of “The Land of the Lotus.” “A
Night of Delight” is another place near “The Heart’s Desire.” The above
names are commonplace by the side of the following: “The Hang-out of
John the Baptist,” “The Retreat of the Holy Ghost,” “The Delight of the
Apostle,” “The Retreat of the Holy Virgin,” “The Mecca of Delight,” and
“The Fountain of the Angels.” Nothing disrespectful is intended by these
appellations but they sound very sacrilegious to us.

There is, however, a brighter side to the Indian life in the City of
Mexico. In one corner of the Zocalo, and covering a part of the site
formerly occupied by the great sacrificial altar, is the flower-market.
This flower-market is always attractive and a never-ending source of
interest to the tourist. Immense bouquets of the choicest flowers are
sold so cheap that the price seems almost absurd. By judicious bargaining
a few cents will purchase a large and varied supply of roses, violets
and heliotrope, which only dollars could buy from a New York florist. No
hot-houses are needed here at any season, for in this climate flowers
bloom all the year round, and one crop succeeds another in a never-ending
succession. The Mexican Indian is a lover of flowers. It is one of the
redeeming traits of his character. He is not always particular as to his
personal appearance; he may be unkempt and untidy to look upon; but he
loves flowers, is prodigal in his use of them and shows good taste in
their arrangement. This taste is innate, is no doubt inherited from his
Aztec ancestors, and has survived the oppressions and exactions of the
succeeding centuries. This love for flowers finds expression even in his
worship, and it is no uncommon thing to find flowers before the image of
the Virgin, and such an offering is one of the expressions of his good
will. When we consider that our forefathers were taught to worship God
with the first fruits of their husbandry, it is not surprising that this
primitive and ignorant race should still find use in their worship for
these beautiful products of a prodigal nature.

The gardens and parks of the City of Mexico attain a luxuriant growth
that cannot be equalled in our northern cities. These breathing-places
where one can sit amid scenes of tropical verdure, and admire the bright
tints of the flowers while shielded from the hot sun by the broad-leafed
foliage of the plants, are truly delightful spots for an American to
visit. They contrast so strongly with the cheerless appearance of the
streets. In the centre of the large Plaza Mayor lies the Zocalo, a little
green oasis in the great paved waste. It is in the very heart of the
city’s throbbing life, and everything either has its beginning or ending
on this imposing square.

On one side of the Plaza lies the Palacio Nacional which has stood there
for more than two centuries. It covers the site of the ancient palace
of Montezuma, and has an imposing façade of nearly seven hundred feet.
Over the main entrance hangs the Liberty Bell of Mexico which was rung
by Hidalgo on the first call to independence at Dolores, where it had so
often summoned the people to mass. The immense windows which look out
upon the Plaza open into the various rooms where the official business of
the executive department of the republic is transacted. Other parts of
this immense structure, for it is almost a square building enclosing an
open court, are occupied by the legislative chambers and barrack rooms
for several regiments of soldiers.

A few blocks away from the Plaza lies the Alameda, which is the park
of the better classes. Every city has an alameda, as the visitor soon
learns, but this is _the_ alameda of Mexico. It is a pretty place, and,
with its beautiful trees, flowers and fountains, forms a resort for the
fashionable people, who congregate here on Sundays and feast days to
listen to the military bands. The visitor can almost lose himself in this
part, for the view is circumscribed on every hand by the dense shrubbery.

It is on the subject of the Paseo de la Reforma that the Mexican becomes
enthusiastic. This beautiful boulevard extends for a distance of two
miles from a place near the Alameda to Chapultepec. It is a smooth
thoroughfare averaging five hundred feet in width, with promenades on
each side shaded by trees under which are stone seats, and with paved
driveways in the centre. Here and there the Paseo widens into circles,
called _glorietas_, in the centre of which are placed statues. Those
already erected include statues to Charles IV of Spain, Columbus and
Cuautemoc, the Aztec warrior and emperor. To Maximilian is due the credit
for the Paseo, and a more beautiful boulevard cannot be found in Europe
or America.

I have purposely described the old features of the city and the unique
characteristics before touching upon the more modern innovations. The
average visitor would follow that plan, for he would be more interested
in the unusual than in that with which he is more or less familiar.
Like all capitals and large cities affected by commercialism, the City
of Mexico is fast becoming cosmopolitan. The traveller who visited it
ten, or even five, years ago would be astonished at the changes wrought
by improvements. The fine system of electric lights, the excellent
electric traction lines with modern, cars, the asphalted streets and the
attractive new suburbs of an entirely foreign architecture, link the old
with the new, the sixteenth with the twentieth century. A city hindered
by a racial conservatism, and obstructed at every turn by tradition,
does not become entirely modern in a decade, but the trend is there and
its progress has been really remarkable. It will never be a city of
skyscrapers for a hard stratum is not encountered until a depth of a
hundred and forty feet is reached.

A new and modern hotel is more needed than anything else. There are
plenty of hotels of the Mexican kind, where it is almost impossible to
find a room with an outside window. All the rooms simply have an opening
on the _patio_ which answers for both door and window. In cool weather
which is sometimes experienced here, there is no means of heating these
rooms except by an open pan of coals, which is not very satisfactory to
one accustomed to modern steam-heated hotels or a good stove.

The national government controls the federal district within which is
situated the City of Mexico, much the same as the District of Columbia,
in our own land, and is assisted by a city council. Plans have been drawn
for fifty million dollars’ worth of public buildings, many of which
are already under way. The fine new post-office which has been building
for several years is now occupied by that department. It is a beautiful
structure of the medieval Spanish style, and is a striking departure from
the other public buildings. It is four stories high, equipped with every
convenience and is finished within and without in elaborate style.

A new legislative palace is under construction, which is the most
pretentious building yet planned. Its estimated cost is $20,000,000.
Opposite the post-office a national theatre is being erected to cater to
the amusement lovers, which is designed to be the finest theatre in the
new world. An entire block is being razed to make room for the Panteon
Nacional—a resting place for Mexico’s illustrious dead. Within the
marble walls of this unique memorial will rest all that is mortal of her
heroes. An army and navy building, a museum of art and a department of
public works are among the other improvements planned for the capital.
These buildings are being scattered over the city instead of following
the group plan as designed at Washington. The reason for this has been
a desire to have every section of the city benefited and beautified by
these public structures. The year 1910 marked the centennial of Mexican
independence. The month of September was almost wholly given up to
celebrations of this event in the capital. A number of public buildings
were dedicated during the celebrations. Among these were a new insane
asylum and several fine new public school buildings, which greatly added
to the educational facilities of the city. A magnificent new monument
to independence, recently erected on the Paseo, was dedicated with
great ceremony. A number of gifts were made by foreign colonies and
governments. Not the least of these was a monument to Washington, which
was presented by the resident Americans. The ceremonies and functions of
the centennial celebration were very elaborate, and the capital has been
beautified in many ways as a result.



CHAPTER IV

THE VALLEY OF ANAHUAC


The dim traditionary history of Mexico shows us shadowy tribes flitting
across the stage, each acting its part like the different performers in
a vaudeville show, and then making way for other actors. The Valley of
Mexico, or Anahuac, meaning “near the water,” seems to have been the
centre of the civilization of these early tribes. It is a beautiful
valley nearly sixty miles in length and thirty in breadth, and is
enclosed by a wall of mountains which circumscribe the view in every
direction. Six shallow lakes lie in this hollow: Texcoco, Xochimilco, San
Cristobal, Xaltocan, Zumpango and Chalco, of which the first named is the
nearest to the city and lies distant about three miles. It is easy to
believe that the waters of these lakes at one time entirely surrounded
the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, for within historic times their shores
have greatly receded.

The history of these early races rests mostly upon tradition; yet a
diversity of architectural ruins, and the few meagre records that remain,
present certain general facts. These positive proofs leave no doubt that
this valley was inhabited from a very early period by tribes or nations
which made distinct advances in civilization. These tribes had developed
certain of the useful arts and had evolved a social system that exhibited
some refinement. The first of these races of whom we have reliable record
are the Toltecs, who appeared in the Valley of Mexico in the seventh
century at almost the same time that Mohammed was spreading his religion
over Asia and Africa. Their sway lasted about five centuries, when they
disappeared as silently and mysteriously as they came.

These peaceful and agricultural people were succeeded by the Chichimecs,
a more barbarous race, who came from the north. They in turn were
followed by the Nahuals. Lastly came the Aztecs, who entered the
valley about 1196, and reached a higher state of civilization than any
of their predecessors. War was their choicest profession, for they
considered that warriors slain in battle were immediately transported
to scenes of ineffable bliss. They offered human sacrifices to their
gods. Prescott tells us of a procession of captives two miles long, and
numbering seventy thousand persons who were sacrificed at one time. This
is incredible, for at that rate the population would soon have been
exhausted even in this prolific land. Furthermore we know that the Aztecs
were not always successful in war, and may have furnished victims from
their own numbers, for sacrifice to the gods of the other nations in the
same land.

[Illustration: THE CALENDAR STONE]

The Aztecs were clever workers in gold and silver, and were acquainted
with a number of arts that are lost to-day. Their picture writings bear
witness to a clever fancy and fertile invention of symbols. The numerous
idols show their skill in carving and a true artistic instinct. Many
antiquities have been exhumed from the swampy soil on which the capital
city is built, in making excavations for improvements. The National
Museum is a treasure house of these relics and it would take a volume to
describe them. The huge Sacrificial Stone, which is generally supposed
to have been placed on the top of the great altar, is preserved there.
It also houses the horrible image of the god Huitzilopochtli, and a
varied assortment of inferior gods, goddesses, and other objects of
worship. But the most celebrated antiquity—the one showing the greatest
advancement—is the Calendar Stone. This stone was buried for centuries,
and when resurrected was placed in the west tower of the cathedral. From
this place it was removed a few years ago and placed in the museum. It
is a mighty stone, eleven feet and eight inches in diameter, and weighs
more than twenty tons. The Aztecs divided the year into eighteen months
of twenty days each, and then arbitrarily added five days to complete the
year.

“Let us follow the cross, and if we have faith we will conquer,” was
the motto on the banner of Cortez. It was with this spirit that he led
his little band over the mountains and into the heart of the empire
of Montezuma, late in the fall of 1519. He was met by that sovereign,
tradition says, on the site of the present Hospital of Jesus, with every
manifestation of friendliness. For several months they were the honoured
guests of the Aztec chief, but at length the aggressions of the Spaniards
changed friendship to hate and the Aztecs, rising in their wrath, chased
the invaders from the city. Driven before the infuriated natives like
sheep, they fled over the present road to the suburban village of Tacuba,
and many were those who fell. This rout of the Spaniards has been
painted with wonderful vividness by Gen. Lew Wallace in “The Fair God.”

It was an awful night of despair, that first day of July, 1520, and the
Spaniards who escaped named it La Noche Triste, “the sorrowful night.”
The pursuit stopped at the little town of Popotla. In this village is a
great cypress tree whose branches are blasted by the storms of centuries.
For a moment the strong will of Cortez gave way and he sat down upon a
stone under the spreading branches of this tree and wept. Whether he
wept most for his fallen soldiers or disappointment over his ignominious
defeat, we are not told by the chroniclers. This tree is now noted as _el
arbol de la noche triste_, or “the tree of the sorrowful night.” A high
iron fence protects the ancient relic from the souvenir vandals.

The Spaniards retreated beyond the valley to their allies, the
Tlaxcalans, at Cholula. Reinforcements and supplies arriving,
they returned a few months later and began the memorable siege of
Tenochtitlan, and made a triumphal entry into that city on the 13th of
August, 1521. Then Guatemotzin, the last of the Aztec emperors, wept in
his turn, because the sacred fires of the temple had for ever gone out,
and his people would henceforth be slaves. “Take that dagger,” he said,
“and free this spirit.” But, no, torture must come before death, for
Cortez fain would learn where the gold was hidden that had so suddenly
disappeared. To-day, in the City of Mexico, a statue stands in one of the
circles of the famous Paseo, which commemorates this great warrior and
his torture by the Spanish chieftain. This monument is greatly cherished
by the Indians, who hold annual festivals in his honour and decorate it
with a profusion of flowers and wreaths.

The great Valley of Mexico is without a natural outlet, and this fact
has caused seven inundations of the capital during exceptionally rainy
seasons. One of the lakes, Zumpango, is twenty-five feet higher than
the city and drains into Texcoco, from which the waters spread over the
city. When the first serious inundations came in 1553, 1580 and 1604, the
project of removing the city to a higher level was strongly agitated.
It was only the loss of millions of dollars of property that prevented
this action. Then the idea of draining this valley was definitely adopted
and the work was begun in 1607. A tunnel was decided upon and fifteen
thousand Indians were set at work sinking shafts and driving the tunnel
in both directions. Within a year a tunnel four miles long had been
completed. This tunnel eventually caved in, so that very little good
was realized from it and efforts were made to convert it into an open
cut. But this undertaking was not finished until two centuries later. It
is a great trench, however, with an average depth of from one hundred
and fifty to two hundred feet, and from three hundred to seven hundred
feet in width at the top. It is called the _Tajo de Nochistongo_, or
Nochistongo cut, and its only use now is as an entrance for the Mexican
Central railway. Even this waterway did not drain the valley, remarkable
engineering feat as it was, but a new canal was constructed by American
engineers a few years ago which successfully accomplishes the work of
draining these shallow lakes and carrying off the sewerage of the city.

The first Aztecs who settled in this valley lived almost entirely in the
marshes and lakes, we are told, because of the hostility of their fierce
neighbours. They were thus obliged to depend almost wholly upon the
products of these watered lands for their sustenance, and they acquired
some strange and—we would say—depraved tastes. A reminder of those days
is seen in the cakes made of the eggs of a curious marsh-fly, which are
sold in the market of the City of Mexico to-day. The flies themselves
are pounded into a paste and sold after being boiled, but the eggs are
preferred. The Indians collect the eggs in a systematic manner. Bundles
of a certain kind of sedge are planted in Lake Texcoco and the insects
deposit their eggs thereon in great quantities. These bundles as soon as
covered are shaken over pieces of cloth and replaced for another supply.
The eggs thus collected are made into a paste and form a favourite
article of food, especially during Lent.

It is interesting to learn what different races regard as toothsome
dainties. In Southern Mexico I have seen bushels of common grasshoppers
sold in the markets as a delicacy, reminding one of the locusts and
wild honey used as food in Biblical times. In other parts of Mexico
the honey-ant is greatly sought after for food. The natives of Central
America are partial to the iguana, a large lizard sometimes reaching a
length of three or four feet, and prefer it to beef. After all there is
no accounting for tastes. A man who eats snails might criticize another
who relishes oysters. And perhaps the man who want his cheese “ripe”
should not criticize the poor Indian who has inherited a taste for the
eggs of the fly.

[Illustration: SCENES ON THE VIGA CANAL]

There are many places of interest round about the City of Mexico which
are easily reached. One should not fail to visit the famous _jardines
flotandos_ or “floating gardens” where the beautiful flowers sold in
the market are grown. These gardens, called by the Aztecs _chinampas_,
are reached by the Viga Canal. The inquirer is told to take a gondola
and float down to them. The name gondola excites pleasant anticipations
of a delightful trip. Entering a mule-car at the Plaza Mayor the canal
is soon reached after traversing a number of narrow streets which would
not especially delight the fastidious traveller. The gondoliers take
the stranger almost by force and urge him into one of the flea-infested
boats that abound at the landing, and which more resemble a collection of
mud-scows than any other kind of floating fleet. Instead of using oars
these queer gondoliers with the picture hats pole the boat through the
muddy waters of La Viga, stirring up odours which cause the passenger
to wish that he was not gifted with the sense of smell, or that he
could temporarily dispense with breathing. However, there is life in
the stream and on the banks that is typically Mexican, for boats are
constantly passing up and down. Occasionally a load of Indians will
float by playing native airs on guitars and other string instruments,
with the light-heartedness and gaiety peculiar to this race. On the bank
are scattered many native thatch huts around which idle natives group.
Along the road pass men and women going to and from the city with loads
on their heads or on their backs. The “floating gardens” are always just
beyond. They are first at Santa Anita but, when this place is reached,
they are at Mexicalcingo. Arrived there the visitor is sent to Ixtacalco,
and then he is forwarded to Xochimilco, and so the real floating gardens
are never reached. The fact is that they do not float and perhaps never
did. This characteristic only exists in the imagination, for it sounds
romantic to speak of gardens that can be moved around and anchored at
will.

Disembarking at an unattractive mud and thatch village bearing the
charming name of Santa Anita, self constituted guides are waiting to
conduct you to the object of your visit, something which does not
literally exist. Yet the “floating gardens” are all about you at this
place. They are simply marsh lands with canals leading in and out and
crossways by means of which the gardener can reach all parts in his
boat. The earth may yield somewhat if you step upon it, but they do
not float. It is possible, and historians so assert, that floating
gardens did exist in reality during the Aztec invasion. These people
were frequently driven to dire extremities to secure food. They may have
adopted the plan of making floating gardens which could be moved about
as necessity compelled. This was done by culling masses of vegetation
with its thick entwined stems and pouring upon this mat the rich mud
dredged from the bottom of the lake. Then, as the masses settled, more
mud was put on until the whole anchored upon the bottom of the lake and
became immovable. The gardens look beautiful, covered as they are with
the many-coloured blossoms. By means of the canals the roots are kept
thoroughly moist at all times, and the plants thrive luxuriantly.

This canal of La Viga was formerly a great trade route, for a large part
of the natives came to the City of Mexico by this way. It leads back into
regions where dwell full blooded Aztecs who speak a language that is said
to be almost the pure ancient tongue. These natives can be distinguished
from all others on the street and in the market by their features and
peculiar dress. They are clannish and keep by themselves, except in the
intercourse made necessary by barter and trade. They are proud of their
lineage and rejoice in the fact that they have not mingled with the other
native races.

Tacuba, distant only a few miles, is an interesting little village, and
has many gardens and a fine old church. It is a good place to study the
people and get snap-shots of quaint life. Its principal distinction is
that it was a proud city when Tetlepanquetzaltzin was king once upon
a time. Texcoco at the time of the conquest was the capital of the
Tezcucans, who were a race in alliance with the Aztecs, but it is now
principally in ruins, for its glory has passed away. El Desierto was once
the home of the Carmelite monks and is frequently visited now in its
decay. Coyoacan was the first capital of Mexico, for Cortez established
the seat of government there for a time while the new city was being
built.

Tacubaya is the home of the wealthy as well as the sporting element. It
has beautiful gardens within the adobe walls surrounding the homes of
the opulent. It is on higher ground and should have been the site of the
capital city itself. It is also called the Monte Carlo of Mexico, for
gamblers of all sorts and conditions congregate here in booths or under
umbrellas, and you can lose any sum at games of chance as at that famous
resort along the shores of the blue Mediterranean. Games, music, dancing,
cock-fights, and bull-fights are a few of the attractions to amuse and
entertain the visitor, and relieve him from the burden of carrying around
the weighty silver pesos.

[Illustration: CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC]

In all this beautiful and historic Valley of Mexico there is no more
beautiful spot, or none around which so many memories cling, as
Chapultepec, the Hill of the Grasshoppers. Historic and beautiful
Chapultepec! A great grove of noble cypresses draped with masses of
Spanish moss surrounds this rock, and between the trees and along the
shores of a pretty little lake wind enchanting walks. One grand old
cypress called Montezuma’s tree rises to a height of one hundred and
seventy feet. It is a magnificent breathing spot—with which no park
that I have ever seen in America compares. Legend says that on the top
of this rock was situated the palace of Montezuma, and it is probably
only legend. No doubt that emperor often rested himself under the
friendly shade of the great _ahuehuete_, and reflected on the glory of
his empire before the disturbing foreigners came. The present Castle of
Chapultepec dates from 1783 when it was begun by one of the viceroys.
Later viceroys, presidents and an emperor added to the original building
until now it is a palace indeed but not a beautiful structure. Ill-fated
Maximilian made this his home and added greatly to the beauty of the
grounds. It is now the White House of Mexico although occupied only a
part of the year by the president.

Perhaps nowhere in the world does there exist a more beautiful scene
than that which unfolds to the view from this rock. All around is the
great sweep of plain with its wealth of cultivated fields; the distant
mountain range with its ever varying outline; the snow-capped twin peaks,
Popocatapetl (seventeen thousand, seven hundred and eighty-two feet) and
Ixtaccihuatl (sixteen thousand and sixty feet), standing like silent
sentinels and dominating the horizon; the silver line of the lakes; and
beneath us the fair City of Mexico, the ancient Tenochtitlan. Legend
says that Popocatepetl, “the smoking mountain,” and Ixtaccihuatl, “the
woman in white,” were once living giants but that having displeased the
Almighty they were changed to mountains. The woman died and the contour
of her body covered with snow can be traced on the summit of the smaller
peak. The man was doomed to live for ever and gaze on the sleeping form
of his beloved. At times when his grief becomes uncontrollable he shakes
with his great sobs and pours forth tears of fire.

As I stood on that historic rock I thought of the New World Venice
described by Prescott, “with its shining cities and flowering islets
rocking, as it were, at anchor on the fair bosom of the waters.” Rising
above all was the great sacrificial altar upon which the sacred fires
were ever kept burning. Beneath this rock under the friendly branches
of the giant cypress Montezuma has no doubt sheltered himself from the
hot sun. Cortez here rested himself after his severe marches. French
zouaves in their quaint uniforms have bivouacked in the grove. American
blue-coats stacked their arms here after the victory of Molino-del-Ray.
And Mexicans now take their siestas under the same friendly shade while
other races are robbing them of their wealth.

Yes, historic scenes and tragedies have taken place on this plain.
Nations have come and gone. Victors have themselves been led away
captives, and taskmasters have in turn become slaves. How finite is man
or his works in the presence of this great panorama of nature! Races
have come and gone but the mountains endure. Human tragedies have been
enacted here but the sky is just as blue and the sun just as bright,
as when Cortez looked with envious eyes upon this beautiful valley.
The mimic play of men, and women and races upon this amphitheatre has
scarcely left its imprint. The only occasions when the calm serenity of
nature has been disturbed were when the giant Popocatapetl, overcome with
grief at the loss of his beloved, has shaken this whole valley with his
sobs and poured forth plenteous tears of fire over its fair surface.



CHAPTER V

THE TROPICS


In no country in the world is it possible to move from one extreme of
climate to the other in so short a time as in Mexico. Within less than
twenty-four hours one can travel from the sun-baked sands of the Gulf
coast to the snow-covered, conical peak of one of the great extinct
volcanoes, thus traversing every zone of vegetable life from the dense
tropical growth of the former to the stunted pines of the latter. By
railway it is a journey of only a few hours from the plateaus, at an
altitude of eight thousand feet, to the sea level, and a most interesting
ride it is. The Mexican Railway, which is the oldest railway in the
republic, runs from the capital to Vera Cruz and is the best route, for
its wonderful engineering feats and beautiful scenery have drawn tourists
from all parts of the world. Leaving the capital, the road skirts the
bank of Lake Texcoco, through a pass in the mountains surrounding the
Valley of Mexico, and across the Plains of Apam, the home of the maguey,
for a hundred and fifty miles before the exciting part of the trip is
reached.

The descent begins at Esperanza, which lies at the very foot of Mt.
Orizaba. Esperanza means “hope” and it is well named for the traveller
can “hope” for better things as the train approaches the coast. Noah’s
Ark rests near here, for I saw it with my own eyes labelled in plain
letters, _Arc de Noe_, but it is now—sad to tell—devoted to the sale of
pulque. Esperanza is eight thousand and forty-four feet above the sea
and one hundred and twelve miles from Vera Cruz as the track runs, but
much nearer as the crow would fly. There is a drop of four thousand, one
hundred feet in the next twenty-nine miles and it is one of the grandest
rides in the world. In places the road seems like a little shelf on the
side of a towering mountain while a yawning chasm awaits the coach below.
As soon as Boca del Monte (Mouth of the Mountain) is reached, only a few
miles from Esperanza, the downward impetus is felt and all the energy of
the curious double-ended English engines is devoted to holding back the
heavy train with its human cargo.

Passing through a tunnel here, the scene bursts upon the traveller
without any warning or prelude, in all its grandeur and magnificence.
The engine accommodatingly stops for water so that the passengers have
an opportunity to view this wonderful panorama. Maltrata nestles in the
hollow, a dozen miles away by rail, yet the red tiles of the roofs, a
red-domed church and the ever-present plaza gleam in the sunshine two
thousand feet directly underneath. The valley is almost flat and is
divided into squares by hedges and walls and, reflecting every shade
of green, looks like a checker-board arrangement of nature. Beyond the
valley, hill succeeds hill until they are lost in the purple haze of the
horizon, or are overtopped by snow-capped Orizaba. Indians appear here
with beautiful bouquets of roses, tulips and orchids, with their yellow,
pink and red centres, for sale. The train passes on over a narrow bridge
spanning a deep chasm and down the mountain until Maltrata is reached,
where the same Indians will greet you with the same bouquets, for they
have climbed down the two thousand feet in less time than it took the
train to reach the same level.

Leaving Maltrata the road enters a cañon called _El Infernillo_, the
Little Hell, goes through a tunnel and another beautiful valley,
running through fertile fields and by wooded hills, until Orizaba, the
border-land of the tropics, is reached.

This city at an altitude of four thousand feet is in the _tierra
templada_, the temperate region. This zone is as near paradise in the
matter of climate as any location on earth could well be. It retains most
of the beauties and few of the annoying insects and tropical fevers of
the hot zone. It has the moisture of the lowlands with the cool breezes
of the uplands and is well named “temperate zone” because of its fine
climate and equable temperature.

Orizaba is a town of thirty-five thousand people and a very beautiful and
interesting place with its palm-shaded streets and low Moorish buildings.
Its Alameda is a quaint, shady park with an abundance of flowers and
blooming trees. Along the street the orange trees thrust their laden
branches out into the highway over the low adobe walls. On the banks of
the stream the washerwomen beat their clothes to a snowy white upon the
smooth round stones. Life moves along in smooth, easy channels with these
people. And it is not to be wondered at, for there is

    “A sense of rest
    To the tired breast
    In this beauteous Aztec town.”

Between Orizaba and Cordoba, a distance of sixteen miles, is perhaps the
best cultivated section in Mexico. The products of all the zones are
mingled and corn and coffee grow side by side as well as peach trees and
the banana. Cordoba is just on the border of the _tierra caliente_, or
hot country proper, and is a much smaller city than Orizaba. It is a very
old town and was founded as a place of refuge from the malarial fevers
of the coast lands. This region is noted for its fine coffee, and there
are numberless coffee plantations as well as many sugar _haciendas_. The
Mexican of the tropics can be seen here dressed in immaculate white.
Leaving Cordoba dense tropical forests of palm and palmetto begin to
appear. These alternate with groves of coffee and bananas, gardens of
mangoes, fields of pineapples and other tropical fruits. Nature begins to
manifest herself in her grandest productions. Birds of brilliant plumage
are seen. The towering trees, rocks and entire surface of the soil are
covered with bright flowers such as orchids, oleanders and honeysuckles
and luxuriant vines. These and the dense jungles are all reminders that
the tropics have been reached at last. Soon the train enters Vera Cruz,
the city without cabs, the landing-place of the great conquistador and
his cohorts.

The principal port now, as it has always been since the landing of Cortez
on the twenty-first day of April, 1519, is Vera Cruz, or, as he named
it, _La Villa Rica de Vera Cruz_—the Rich City of the True Cross. Most
Americans who pass through here leave by the very first train or boat
for fear of pestilence. I met one fellow-countryman there who was almost
beside himself because the boat he had expected to take was delayed a
couple of days. This city is reputed to be the favourite loafing-place of
the _stegomyia fasciata_ whose bite results in the _vomito_, or yellow
fever. If all the sensational reports sent out concerning this city were
true then “Pandora’s box was not a circumstance to the evils which Vera
Cruz contains.” I had read in Mr. Ober’s excellent work on Mexico of an
American consul who died here just thirteen days after reaching the port
that his ambition had led him to; and of the terrible ravages of the
scourge when deaths were averaging forty per day. I arrived there after
night had set in. Eating a light supper and seeing that my name was duly
posted on the big blackboard bulletin according to the custom prevailing
there, I retired to my room, and only breathed freely after securely
drawing the mosquito netting around my bed so that it would be impossible
for a _stegomyia_ to get through.

It was almost a surprise on the following morning to find able-bodied
Americans and husky Englishmen pursuing their avocations in an
unconcerned way as though such things as yellow fever or smallpox were
not to be thought of. Then, again, I was alarmed at the numerous red
flags hanging out, which I took to be quarantine flags, for everything
is different here. Upon investigation this alarm was dispelled, for
those places proved to be pulque-shops and the flag meant that a fresh
supply of the “liquor divine” had just been received. It is probably
true that Vera Cruz was a hot-bed for the _vomito_ a few years ago, but
Mexican statistics report only twelve deaths in 1904 and one hundred
and twenty-two in 1905 from this disease, which is not bad for a city
of thirty thousand people, where a large proportion of the population
cannot be made to obey the ordinary laws of sanitation. I doubt whether
the death rate is much greater than in our own cities on the Gulf coast.
This change is due to the better situation that has been brought about
by the authorities.

An adequate supply of pure water was the first important step in this
move for improved conditions. This was secured by utilizing the water
of the Jamapa River at a point about twelve miles distant and passing
this water through several filtering beds before turning it into the
mains which supply the city. A sewerage system has been constructed,
by means of which the sewerage is carried out and discharged into deep
water so that the harbour will not be contaminated. Disinfecting stations
have been established and a plant for the disposition of garbage. Then
in addition to the regular force of health officers, there is a large
volunteer street cleaning brigade. These volunteer forces are not on the
pay-roll and yet they do their work in a thorough manner even if their
methods cannot be approved. Their only reward is the enforcement of a
fine of five dollars for the protection of their lives. By the natives
these street cleaners are called _zopilotes_ but to an American they are
plain, every-day buzzards. Hundreds of these birds can be seen perched on
the roof-tops or waddling through the streets.

For centuries the port of Vera Cruz was the bane of vessel owners for
there was no protection from the severe “Northers” so prevalent on the
Gulf and it was one of the most inconvenient and dangerous harbours on
that coast. It was for this reason that Cortez destroyed the vessels
which had brought his forces over from Cuba. An excellent harbour has
been constructed at great cost and ocean-going vessels can now anchor
alongside of the main pier and unload. A large new union station will
at once be erected by the four railways entering this city on a site
adjoining the pier, which will further increase the facilities of this
port.

[Illustration: BRIDGE AT ORIZABA

THE BUZZARDS OF VERA CRUZ

AVENUE OF PALMS, VERA CRUZ]

The fortress of San Juan de Ulua, now a prison, and which is reached
by a short sail through the shark-infested harbour, is an interesting
structure and has seen many vicissitudes. Used as a fort for several
centuries by the Spaniards, it has successively been occupied by the
French, Americans, and again by the French and their allies in the war
of the intervention. The buildings in Vera Cruz are nearly all low,
one-storied structures of adobe, and the walls are tinted in red, yellow,
blue and green, thus furnishing to the eye a pleasing variety and, with
the bay, reminding one of Cadiz in old Spain. There is an attractive
plaza and an imposing avenue of the cocoanut palm. Vera Cruz is the
gateway to the capital and many millions of imports and exports pass
through here each year, as much as at all the other ports of Mexico
combined, leaving out Progresso, on the Yucatan coast, through which the
henequen traffic is carried.

Tampico is the second Gulf port in importance and on the completion
of a direct route to the capital will be a close rival to Vera Cruz.
Coatzacoalcos is the Gulf port of the Tehuantepec railway and will become
an important port. The Pacific coast affords better natural harbours.
Acapulco is one of the finest natural land-locked harbours in the world.
Though now of secondary importance because of the absence of railroad
connections, at one time this picturesque harbour sheltered the old
Spanish galleons engaged in the East India trade. Their freight was
unloaded there and transported overland on the backs of burros and mules
to Vera Cruz and re-shipped to Spain. Manzanillo is an important seaport
on that coast and will soon be connected by rail with the capital, when
its importance will be greatly increased. Other important ports on that
coast are Mazatlan, Guayamas, San Blas and Salina Cruz, the Pacific port
of the Tehuantepec route, where the great harbour is nearly completed.

The _tierra caliente_ comprises a fringe of low plains which extend
inland from the coast a distance varying from a few miles in width to a
hundred or more. From thence it rises by a succession of terraces until
the great inland plateaus are reached. The higher the altitude the lower
the temperature, and it is estimated that there is a change of 1.8 degree
Fahrenheit for each sixty feet of elevation in this region. This zone is
characterized by the grandeur and variety of vegetable life, and it is
an almost uninterrupted forest except where it has been cleared. A ride
through the tropics is a revelation of what nature can do when aided
by a never-ending succession of warm sunshine and abundant rain upon
rich soil. Trees of great height and size are interspersed among plants
which are generally of a tree-like nature, and are conspicuous for the
development of their trunks and ramifications. The innumerable species of
reeds and creeping plants that entwine themselves in a thousand different
ways among the trees and plants make a passage almost impossible. It
is for this reason that the natives always go around armed with the
_machete_, a long blade very much like a corn-cutter, for it enables
them to cut their way through the dense undergrowth, and is a protection,
should any danger be encountered. The palms which are ever associated
with the tropics are seen in great profusion and in countless varieties.
Millions of ferns and broad-leaved plants which would be welcomed in the
gardens and groves of northern homes are wasting their graceful beauty in
these jungles and wildernesses. Trees are covered with beautiful orchids
and vines coil about the trunks and limbs like great snakes, and then
drop down to the earth and take root again in the damp soil.

To those who know them the tropics are not so terrible, treacherous
though they may seem. Some enter this zone with a feeling of creepiness
as though they were entering a darkened sick-room sheltering some
malignant disease. They hesitate to breathe for fear that the very air
is poisonous and they may take in the germs of some malady with an
unpronounceable name. They shrink from nature as though she had ceased to
be the kind mother to which they were accustomed in the colder climates.
It is true that there is something horribly creepy and uncanny about this
inevitable tropical growth, which is so frail and fragile outwardly
but seems possessed of an unconquerable vitality. And yet in many of
the so-called unhealthy places, there is scarcely more danger to health
than elsewhere, if one but observes the same rules of right living.
Continuous hard labour, such as the northern farmer is accustomed to
devote to his little farm, is not possible. Exposure to the intense heat
of the sun at midday and the heavy rains will bring on fevers and malaria
just as surely as it produces the luxuriant vegetation. For this reason
the tropics will probably never be suited for colonization by the small
farmer who is fascinated with the possibilities offered by land capable
of producing two or three crops in a single year.

In general, Mexico is poorly supplied with rivers. However, along the
Atlantic coast they are very numerous and large, although not navigable
for any great distance, or for vessels large enough to be of much aid to
commerce. The size of the rivers is due to the great amount of rainfall,
which varies from seventy to one hundred and eighty inches annually.
When this is compared to an annual rainfall of twenty to forty inches in
the northern states of the United States, the conditions in the tropics
are better understood. This excessive rainfall washes down earth from
the higher ground and this, together with the layers of vegetable mold,
have formed soil from eight to fourteen feet in depth thus making it
practically inexhaustible. The temperature varies from 70° to 100°
Fahrenheit. The Pacific coast has a higher temperature and less rainfall
than the Gulf coast. However, there is a stretch of land extending north
of Acapulco along the coast and from eight to thirty miles wide that is
unrivalled for tropical beauty and productiveness. There are many rivers
and streams that traverse this land on the way from the great mountains
to the Pacific.

There is a charm about the life in the hotlands that is missing in
other parts of Mexico. Of all the inhabitants of that country, the
life of the people in the hot country is the most interesting. This is
probably due to the fact that these people have always had more freedom
than the Indians on the plateaus who were practically slaves for a
couple of centuries. The great estates there required sure help and
the natives were reduced to serfs. In the mines they were worked with
soldiers set over them as guards. In the hotlands it was easier to make
a living, for a bountiful nature supplied nearly all their wants. And
yet many employers of labour say that the peon from the hot country
makes the most satisfactory workman. These Indians seem like a superior
race. For one thing they are scrupulously clean which, in itself, is
a pleasing contrast to the daily sights in Northern Mexico. Water is
abundant everywhere; the extreme heat renders bathing a great comfort
and their clothes are kept immaculate. They are fond of social life and
almost every night groups can be seen gathered together in some kind of
entertainment.

[Illustration: AN INDIAN HOME IN THE HOT COUNTRY]

Their homes are different from those in the colder lands. The houses
of the middle and lower classes are built of bamboo or other light
material found in the tropical jungles, and thatched with palm leaves.
The upright bamboo poles are often set an inch or more apart thus giving
a free circulation of air. An Indian village generally consists of one
long, winding, irregular street lined on each side by these picturesque
huts, and bearing a strong resemblance to a village in the interior of
Africa. Down these streets swarm in equal profusion half-naked babies
and children long past the childhood stage dressed in the same simple
way, and hungry looking dogs. The hot country is sparsely populated in
comparison with the plateaus and there are no large cities, although
archeologists tell us that the earliest civilization seems to have been
located there. It could support a population many, many times larger with
ease.

The most productive parts of the world are found in the _tierra caliente_
which instead of being given up to impenetrable jungles, the homes of
reptiles and breeding place of poisonous insects, should be made to
produce those luxuries and necessaries which contribute to make civilized
life tolerable. All over the world the fruits and other articles of
the tropics are coming into greater demand each year. In the year 1906
the United States imported fruits and other food products of tropical
countries, not including coffee, to the value of more than $150,000,000,
or nearly two dollars for each man, woman and child in the country. Of
the purely tropical products, sugar was by far the largest item on the
list. Bananas to the amount of $11,500,000 were brought in, and were
second on the list with cacao a close rival for this place.

As yet Mexico supplies but a small portion of these articles to the
United States. Yet the possibilities of agriculture here are equal
to those of any similar lands, and this, together with superior
transportation facilities and a stable government, ought to greatly
increase the trade. In addition to the above items, this soil is well
adapted to the following fruits and useful products, all of which are
native to the soil: oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, grapefruit,
vanilla bean, indigo, rubber, coffee, tobacco and many drug-producing
plants. It is difficult for the small farmer to succeed, as he cannot do
all his own labour in that climate and cannot get satisfactory help just
when it is needed. He could not afford to hire a force of labourers by
the year. Successful farming in the tropics can only be done on a large
scale with a regular force of labourers maintained on the plantation.
The title to the soil can be purchased cheaply but the first cost of the
land is probably not more than one-third of the ultimate cost by the time
it is cleared, planted, and the necessary improvements made. Furthermore
many tropical plants such as coffee, rubber and cacao require several
years of care before there is a profitable yield.

Coffee and banana culture go hand in hand, for the broad leaves of the
banana provide the shade so necessary to the young coffee trees. The
banana also furnishes a little revenue during the four or five years
before the coffee trees have fully matured. The coffee region is very
extensive, for it will grow at a height of from one to five thousand
feet, and flourishes best at an altitude of two to three thousand feet.
It requires plenty of warmth and moisture. The coffee, which is a tree
and not a bush, is set out in rows several feet apart, and will grow
twenty feet tall if permitted, but is not allowed to grow half that
height. The tree is flowering and developing fruit all the time but the
principal harvest is in the late fall. It is not allowed to ripen on
the tree, for when the green berries have turned a bright red, they are
gathered, dried in the sun, hulled and then marketed. The states of Vera
Cruz and Chiapas produce the choicest coffee, but it is cultivated all
over the republic where it is possible. Coffee was introduced into this
country from Arabia by Spanish priests and was found to be adapted to
the soil. The best grades are sent to Europe, for it is a common saying
throughout Mexico and Central America that only the poor grades of coffee
are sent to the United States. This is rather a slur on the tastes of the
American people, but such is our reputation down there.

“Looking at it from my point of view—the lazy man’s outlook—I can see
nothing so inviting as coffee culture, unless it be a fat ‘living’ in
an English country church,” says a writer. For myself, the one thing
that appealed to me above all others was the cultivation of the banana.
The returns are quick, the income regular and the profits large. I
travelled through the banana region of Honduras, where for thirty miles
the railroad passed by one plantation after another of the broad-leaved
banana plants growing as high as fifteen feet. Great fortunes have been
made by the banana-growers of that country and Costa Rica. This fruit
flourishes best in the lowlands. The preparation of the ground is very
simple, for the young banana plants are set out among the piles of
underbrush left after clearing and which soon decay in that climate.
After nine months or a year the plants begin to bear, and each stalk
will produce one bunch of bananas. The stalk is then cut down and a new
one, or several, will spring up from the roots and will bear in the same
length of time. Thus a banana plantation that is carefully looked after
will produce a marketable crop each week in the year, so that there
is a constant revenue coming in to the owner. The cultivation of this
delicious fruit, for which there is an ever-increasing market, brings the
quickest return of any tropical product.

[Illustration: RICE CULTURE]

Sugar cane can be raised profitably as the stalks grow high with many
joints and have a greater percentage of saccharine than in most countries
where it is cultivated. Furthermore it does not require replanting so
frequently. Cacao is another truly tropical product. It is from the cacao
bean that chocolate is made. The trees are usually transplanted and
bear in about four years and the beans are gathered three or four times
a year. They are then removed from the pods and dried in the sun. The
trees will bear for many years. Orange culture along modern scientific
lines, such as are used in California and Florida, would be profitable,
for the crop matures earlier and could be marketed long before the fruit
has ripened in those states. The Mexicans are great rice eaters and
there is a good field for its culture. The cocoanut palm offers good
returns as there is a good market for its fruit. Rubber grows wild and
many plantations have been set out in rubber trees. In the past year
Mexico has shipped more than two million pounds of crude rubber, and the
production is increasing. Vast tracts of mahogany are found down toward
Guatemala in the states of Campeche and Tabasco. These great trees are
cut down, hewn square and then hauled by mules to a waterway where they
are formed into rafts and floated down to the ports. There is much waste
in the present crude way of cutting and marketing this valuable wood.
Logwood and other dyewoods are found in the same forests. The world’s
supply of chicle also comes from the same source.

What the Mexican tropics need is men of energy backed by capital
sufficient to utilize large tracts of this rich soil. It is true that
many plantations are now being cultivated and it is equally true that
many have been abandoned as failures after unsuccessful attempts at
cultivation. The fault has not been poor soil but poor management.
Promotion and success are not synonymous terms, and much of the promotion
has been done by unscrupulous persons whose only purpose was to dispose
of stock to the gullible. Richer soil cannot be found anywhere, but it
must be cultivated with intelligence and good judgment the same as in any
other part of the world, or failure will result.



CHAPTER VI

A GLIMPSE OF THE ORIENTAL IN THE OCCIDENT


Some two hundred miles south of the City of Mexico lies Oaxaca
(pronounced Wa-hâ-ka). The Valley of Oaxaca was looked upon by the
Spanish conquerors as El Dorado, the traditional land of gold. The Aztecs
told them that the gold of Montezuma came from the sands of the rivers
in this and the connecting valleys, and that immeasurable treasure was
to be found there. Believing these tales, Cortez secured large grants of
land from the crown, and, with the consent and approval of his sovereign,
assumed to himself the title of Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca.

The cupidity of the Spaniards led them to employ every subterfuge to
induce the natives to reveal the source of their plentiful supply of
gold. The Indians, after considerable urging,—so we are told,—offered to
conduct one man to this place, if he would submit to be blindfolded for
the trip. This was agreed to and the party set out on their journey.
Thinking that he would mark the way, the Spaniard dropped a grain of corn
every few steps. After they had travelled a long distance, the Spaniard
had the bandage removed from his eyes and he was allowed to look around,
when he beheld such wealth as mortal vision never before had seen. His
eyes glittered with the greed of his covetous nature, but his countenance
soon changed when a dusky warrior stepped up and handed him a vessel
which contained every grain of corn that he had dropped by the way. For
this reason he was never able to retrace his steps to this wonderful
region, and the wily Spaniards were again outwitted by the simple natives.

Oaxaca is reached by the Southern Railway which starts at Puebla. This
road penetrates one of the richest sections of the republic, with
abundance of timber and minerals, and unlimited beds of onyx and marble.
Little of this wealth is seen from the railroad, as this line follows
the narrow valleys, through one cañon into another, furnishing scenery
as grandly picturesque as the great passes of Colorado. The mountains
in places are lifted up thousands of feet with crags and peaks which
the storms have cut into fantastic shapes and whose walls drop almost
perpendicularly to the water’s edge. Then again the cañon widens, and the
panorama extends across the valley where gigantic rocks, stained in all
colours by the oozings of the metals of the earth, form far-away pictures
not unlike the battlements of an ancient fortress. The sun tinges each
a different hue, with deeper tones in the near ones which fade as they
approach the horizon, until all seem to blend into the intense blue of
the sky.

As the train leaves the City of the Angels, just at daybreak, a wonderful
panorama is opened up to view. Look in any direction, and the tiled domes
of the churches rise above the plain, for each village and _hacienda_ has
its own. The forts erected on the surrounding hills which are emblematic
of the force that subjugated this valley, are seen, and near them the
pyramid of Cholula erected by those who were overcome. Over all tower
those mighty monuments of nature, the white-capped peaks of Popocatapetl,
Ixtaccihuatl, Orizaba and old Malintzi, with the morning sun reflected on
their snowy heads. The road ascends and descends, and then ascends again
before it takes a dip down into the _tierra caliente_. A number of native
villages are passed but only one town of any size, Tehuacan, noted for
its mineral springs. It is a pretty little city, and in the centre of a
rich agricultural district. The road finally enters a wide, open country
with rich valleys which extend to the hills beyond. At last, after a
twelve hours’ journey, our train rolls into this occidental Eden.

More than three centuries ago a Spanish writer described Oaxaca as
“not very big, yet a fair and beautiful city to behold, which standeth
three-score leagues from Mexico in a pleasant valley.” It is located
at the junction of three valleys and on the bank of a broad river,
which meanders through a billowy sea of cornfields toward the Pacific.
Whichever way the eye may turn the view is bounded by hills covered with
forests. Viewed from one of these hills the city looks like a broad,
flat-covered plain of stone buildings above which are seen many domes,
and the whole scene has a truly oriental touch.

The people that the Spanish found in possession of these valleys were
an industrious race. They had tilled the soil centuries before the
Spaniards, in their lust for gold, despoiled these beautiful valleys.
There is not a hollow, or knoll, where it is possible to scrape a little
soil with a hoe, that has not at some time been cultivated. These early
races had even constructed irrigation works which kept green their fields
during the dry season. The rich basins filled with alluvium are now owned
by the rich _hacendados_, or landowners, whose white buildings dot the
landscape here and there and, with their trees, orchards and cultivated
fields, lend life and colour to an otherwise dull prospect. The poor
Indians are forced to work for these landlords who claim title to the
land formerly owned by their ancestors, or retire to the hills where,
well up toward the crests, they cultivate their little fields of corn
and beans. There is one tribe of Indians that dwell in the mountains of
Oaxaca who have never acknowledged either Spanish or Mexican sovereignty,
and maintain their own tribal form of government. They can be seen at
Oaxaca on market days.

We find Oaxaca to be a city of about thirty-three thousand people of whom
three-fourths or more are Indians. It is laid out with narrow streets,
down the centre of which runs a stream of water, from which rise at
times odours not the most agreeable. The houses are low and one-storied,
with grated windows after the style of architecture introduced by the
Spaniards, and by them adopted from the Moors, who copied it from the
Persians. The water supply is abundant, being brought in from the hills
by an aqueduct. Fountains are located at numerous places, and a constant
succession of Rebeccas with heads enveloped in their shawls, and carrying
great earthen water-jars pass to and fro from them.

Oaxaca contains many fine churches of which one, Santo Domingo, has been
both monastery and fortress, and has just been restored at a cost of
$13,000,000 (silver) so it is claimed, making it the most costly church
in Mexico, if not in North America. The gold on the walls was so heavy
in former times, that the soldiers quartered here during revolutionary
uprisings employed themselves in removing it. This city has been the
scene of troublous times, and has been captured and re-captured by the
combating forces. It has given to the country two great presidents,
Juarez and Diaz, of whom it may well be proud. Of these two men, great
in the annals of Mexico, the former was a full-blooded Indian, and the
latter has a fair percentage of the same blood in his veins. A monument
to Juarez has been erected, and some day—may it be far distant—when
nature has claimed her own, this city will raise a memorial to her still
greater son.

[Illustration: THE AQUEDUCT, OAXACA

A FOUNTAIN IN OAXACA]

Oaxaca has a pleasant plaza, called the Plaza de Armas, adorned with
various semi-tropical trees and shrubs, in the centre of which is the
ever-present band-stand. The Cathedral and municipal palace face this
square. My visit here was during a _fiesta_ and this plaza was the
favourite resort of the Indians as well as myself. The Indians living
in the hills took undisturbed possession at night, and groups of tired
_Indios_ wrapped themselves in their _sarapes_, or shawls, and stretched
their tired limbs out on the cold stones; or propped themselves against
the walls of a building to rest. A number of catch-penny devices were
running during the evening and the favourite seemed to be the phonograph.
The Indian would pay his _centavo_, put the transmitter in his ears and
listen without a sign of expression on his stolid face. Nevertheless,
he enjoyed it, because he would repeat the operation until his stock of
coppers was considerably diminished.

Saturday is market day in this city, and a visit to this popular place is
worth a trip to Mexico. The atmosphere of the market is truly oriental,
for these people have a genius for trading as the innumerable little
stands where crude pottery, rough-made baskets, home-made _dulces_, etc.,
are sold, fully proves. The entrance takes one past the dealers in fried
meats, where bits of pork and shreds of beef are dished out sizzling hot
to the peons under the big _sombreros_ by women cooks who crouch over
earthenware dishes placed on small braziers containing a charcoal fire,
and a three course meal can be obtained for a few cents. There is always
a crowd around this department, for these people are ever ready to eat,
and their capacity is only limited by their purse.

[Illustration: THE MARKET-WOMEN OF OAXACA

THE POTTERY-MARKET, OAXACA]

Next is encountered the fruit and vegetable stands. The finest fruits and
vegetables, and especially the latter, that I saw in Mexico, were right
here in this market and this was in the month of December. Generally
the vegetables in Mexico are not large, but here were fine potatoes,
great red tomatoes, gigantic radishes and elephantine cabbages. Oranges,
bananas, limes, plantains and pineapples were plentiful, as well as the
less-known fruits such as _zapotes_ (a kind of melon), _aguacates_ (a
pale green fruit and vegetable combined), granaditas, mangoes, granadas
and pomegranates. The cocoanut of the hotlands is mingled with the
_dunas_, the fruit of the prickly pear, of the higher lands. With these
a great many drinks called _frescas_, or sherbets, are flavoured, the
merits of which are announced by the dark-eyed, be-shawled vendors. The
women merchants, many of them smoking cigarettes, sit around on the
floor so thick in places that it is almost impossible to work your way
through the mixed assortment of peppers and babies; corn, lean babies
and peas; charcoal, beans and fat babies; naked babies, knives and
murderous-looking _machetes_; hats, laughing babies, shawls and other
useful articles; turkeys, crying babies, chickens, dirty babies, ducks,
squawking parrots in cages, pigs and other live stock, including babies
of all kinds and descriptions.

The pottery market presided over by the solemn-faced, oriental merchants
is a never-ending place of interest, and these artistic vessels are
carried over the mountains on the backs of the Indians. Crude baskets
and mats made of the palm fibre are found in abundance as well as brooms
which bear no union label.

No one could afford to miss the flower department where flowers are so
cheap that it seems almost a sin not to buy them. Here are velvety sweet
peas, purple pansies, tangled heaps of crimson and white roses, azure
forget-me-nots, pyramids of heliotrope and scarlet geraniums. For a
few cents one can buy almost a bushel of these, or, if preferred, can
substitute marguerites, carnations, poppies, or violets. An American will
probably have to pay twice as much as a native, even after the shrewdest
bargaining.

Outside the market enclosure caravans of over-loaded donkeys jostle each
other as a great solid-wheeled cart yoked to a couple of meek-eyed oxen
creaks by, or a tram car drawn by galloping mules thunders noisily along
to an accompaniment of loud cracks of the whip, and a constant repetition
of “_mulas_” and “_arres_” the “rrs” being brought out with a long trill.

[Illustration: CROSSING THE RIVER ON MARKET-DAY]

The Indian will travel for days on his way to market at Oaxaca. On the
day before market I drove out the south road for a number of miles, and
the entire distance was literally black,—or perhaps it would be better
to say brown,—with the natives coming to town bearing the “brown man’s
burden,” and travelling along in the middle of the road at a rapid pace.
These Indians were coming from the “hot country” farther south and
were bringing oranges, bananas, cocoanuts and other kinds of tropical
fruits, besides chickens, eggs and other poultry. Most of them were on
foot, though the more fortunate had donkeys to carry the load; but they
themselves walked and drove the animal. The women bore large baskets on
their heads, which they balanced gracefully, although sometimes the loads
are exceedingly heavy. They will carry one hundred pounds or more in
this manner. Frequently a baby is swung across the back as an additional
burden. The little mites are good natured in this uncomfortable position,
and do not make half as much trouble as American babies in their
rubber-tired, easy-springed perambulators.

A small pot, a basket of tortillas, a few fagots and plenty of coffee
complete the outfit of the man. Perhaps the value of his load is not
over a dollar or two in gold, but his entertainment along the way
costs little, for he sleeps out of doors, carries his food, makes his
own coffee and needs to buy nothing except perhaps a little fruit and
_aguardiente_ (brandy). The entire family sometimes accompany him, for
the wife is afraid to have her man go away alone for fear he may desert
her.

On the opposite side of the city from the road just described is another
main highway. I stood here for several hours by the river bank on the
afternoon of a market-day, when the people were leaving for home. The
sight never grew tiresome or monotonous, as there was a constant
succession of pictures, which a moving-picture machine alone could
adequately portray. Although there is a bridge across the stream, no
one used it, for by making a short cut across the river bed a hundred
yards or more was saved. The pedestrian would remove his sandals to wade
through the shallow water, and then replace them on reaching the opposite
bank. The Indians going this way had more burros, and, as their load was
disposed of, the family rode. Frequently a poor, diminutive burro carried
as many persons as could sit on his back, in addition to the large
baskets. Many of the great carts drawn by one or two yoke of oxen passed
this way. The cattle are all yoked by the horns, which seems a cruel way,
for their heads are brought down almost to the ground, and it looks as
though every jar must cause them suffering.

So this unique panorama continued all the afternoon. I could not think
of anything but Palestine, as I gazed at this unceasing procession of
donkeys, Egyptian carts, women with their shawls folded and worn on their
heads in Eastern fashion; and in the background the white walls, red
tiled roofs and domes of the churches of Oaxaca. For a moment I wondered
if I were not mistaken, and had suddenly strayed into some corner of
the Orient, and found myself involuntarily looking for the mosque, and
listening for the cry of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer.

A trip around about the valley near Oaxaca only served to strengthen
the oriental cast of the picture. The types of buildings, and the signs
of water and fertility in the midst of widespread aridity (for this was
the dry season) are eastern. I saw many flocks of goats herded by the
solitary shepherd in the truly old-fashioned way. Then, a slow-moving
team of oxen followed by a peon guiding a one-handled, wooden plough
deepens the picture. How powerful must have been the Moorish influence
in Spain, for this is the plough of Egypt and Chaldea which was carried
along the coast of Barbary into Spain, and left there as a heritage to
the Spaniards who introduced it into the new world.

Yes, Oaxaca is an El Dorado, a land of treasure to the searcher after
the picturesque. The real wealth lies in its delightful climate. The
temperature is mild and does not vary more than twenty or thirty degrees
during the year. The altitude is a little less than five thousand feet
and the air is fresh and bracing. There is also an abundance of good,
pure water. Some day this city will be known as a health resort for
people from cold climates. They will find relief from the strenuous life
in quiet, restful, oriental Oaxaca.

There is no more picturesque _hacienda_ in all Mexico than that of Mitla
a few miles away. Because of the bleak and rough nature of the country it
has retained its early characteristics. The little store is a revelation
of the simple and primitive life of these people. Evening is sure to
find Don Felix, or his black-eyed son, behind the counter waiting on the
groups of Indians who are constantly coming in to buy a couple of cents
worth of _mescal_, or _tequila_, or cigarettes. One Indian woman came
in to purchase a _centavo_ (one-half cent) of vinegar, another of lard,
and others an equal amount of honey, soap, sugar or matches. They would
invariably buy only one article at a time, then pay for it and watch the
copper disappear down a slot in the counter. Outside the door was an old
Indian who had brought a load of wood down from the mountain, and the
good housewives were noisily bargaining with him for a centavo’s worth of
wood, and trying to get an extra stick or two for that sum.

Bargaining is a part of the education of these people. A young Indian
came in hatless and wanted a _sombrero_ (hat). He was shown one
with thirty cents worth of brim by the merchant. The Indian offered
twenty-eight cents which was accepted and he went away happy over his
bargain. An old Indian,—and an old Indian is but a child in worldly
wisdom,—brought a large cassava root, which, after considerable haggling,
the merchant purchased for five cents. He bought a package of sixteen
cigarettes for three cents and told the young _hacendado_ that he had
another “_mas grande_” (larger), which he would sell for seven cents. He
went away but returned in a few minutes with the other root, and looked
around at the crowd with a grin. The merchant took it but told him it was
“_mas chico_” (smaller), and he could only allow four cents. The Indian
came down to six and the deal was closed at five cents, the same price as
the first one was sold for. He bought a glass of _mescal_ for two cents
and vanished in the night air, with a smile of complete satisfaction on
his face. It is a simple life that these people lead, and the same scenes
may be witnessed any day in the year at this little _tienda_ at the
Hacienda of Mitla.

    “When twilight falls, more near and clear,
    The tender southern skies appear.”

Twilight is very brief in this land. Scarcely has the sun dropped out
of sight, when the moon appears on the opposite horizon, almost a
counterpart of the former in its descending glory. Then the stars appear
by hundreds, and myriads, and the night in all its magnificence is upon
you, where, but a few minutes before, was the brightness of day. And the
overhanging canopy of the heavens seems so much brighter, and clearer,
and nearer than in our more northerly land.

As the hour grew late, I wandered forth from the little store and walked
through the narrow, winding streets of the village. It was one of those
brilliant tropical nights when the southern skies seemed ablaze with the
light of innumerable stars, and the Queen of the Night was in her glory.
It was such a night as would have appealed to the astronomers of old.
The streets were silent except for the howling of some dogs near by. The
porch of the _hacienda_ was crowded with reclining figures wrapped in
their _sarapes_. A belated traveller came up and with a sigh of relief
deposited his load, and joined the sleeping crowd. A match illumed a dark
face for a moment as he lit a cigarette. Finally, all voices ceased and
quiet reigned supreme. It was a silence as deep and mysterious as that of
the ruined city that lay but a few rods away.



CHAPTER VII

THE ISTHMUS OF TEHUANTEPEC


A trip from Vera Cruz to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec takes the traveller
into the very centre of the tropics in Mexico. It is a most interesting
ride. The entire journey is within the _tierra caliente_ region and
throughout the whole distance of two hundred and fifty miles there are
only slight undulations that could hardly be truthfully called hills. It
is not all jungle for there are plains that are sometimes several miles
in width which furnish rich pasture for great herds of cattle. Here again
is seen the picturesque Mexican cowboy riding his pony and carrying the
ever-present lasso. The heavy saddles in this hot climate and especially
the twisted bits which are universally used upon the horses in Mexico
seem like a cruel imposition upon their faithful steeds. With this
combination of rings and bars a rider could almost break the jaw of a
horse. It is absolutely impossible for an animal to drink with this bit
in his mouth.

This leads me to remark that the finer sensibilities with regard to the
treatment of domesticated animals and fowls are generally absent among
Mexicans. The poor burros which are obliged to travel day after day with
great sores on their backs that are continually chafed by the loads they
are carrying, and saddle mules with similar sores, excite no compassion
from the average Mexican. No doubt many of these animals are obliged
to work for months and possibly years, when every step under a load or
the weight of a man must cause them suffering. They are seldom shod,
and many an animal is obliged to travel over the rough trails until his
hoofs are worn down to the sensitive part. Cruel spurs are jabbed into
his sides until they are raw. I have already spoken of the bull-fight and
cock-fighting. From a book “On the Mexican Highlands” I quote another
form of cruelty:—“The stocky, swarthy Indian woman calmly broke the thigh
bone of each leg and the chief bone of each wing, so that escape might be
impossible, and proceeded right then and there to pick the chicken alive.
She was evidently unconscious of any thought of cruelty. The legs and
wings were broken in order that the bird might not run or fly away. The
sentiment of pity and tenderness for dumb things had not yet dawned upon
her mind, and the fowl destined for the pot received no consideration at
her hands.”

There are many villages along this route but no cities. Several broad
rivers and innumerable small streams are crossed. The engines burn
wood, and it is necessary to stop on several occasions and load up the
tender with fuel. At Tierra Blanca are located the shops and division
headquarters of the road. As the Isthmus is approached the tropical
swamps become more frequent and the train passes through miles of
territory where “still stands the forest primeval,” a jungle of trees
and shrubs intermingled with countless varieties of palms; impenetrable
forests with creepers and parasites hanging from the boughs of trees,
and replanting themselves in the moist earth. Within these jungles
the “tigre” roams and beneath the heavy undergrowth, horrid, venomous
snakes crawl. Overhead fly noisy parrots and paroquets in couples and
flocks with all of the colours of the rainbow reflected from their gaudy
feathers. Then in the waters of these streams live hundreds of repulsive
alligators.

At certain seasons of the year the Indians live almost entirely upon
the wild products of the forest. Nature furnishes fruits, and with the
blow-gun or other weapon enough game can be killed to fill the larder.
With a natural laziness and in an enervating climate the natives prefer
existence of this kind to the more artificial one made necessary by
labour.

The Vera Cruz and Pacific Railway connects with the Tehuantepec railway
at Santa Lucrecia, a small village with a poor hotel. Here it was my lot
to be obliged to spend Christmas Eve and the greater part of Christmas
day. My companions were an Englishman and a Scotchman. The Englishman
rummaged around in the little store and found a canned plum pudding,
which rather cheered him and his compatriot and I was invited to share
in their good fortune. However the heavens seemed to open up and let the
water pour down in torrents and the mud was apparently bottomless so
that our explorations were confined to the hotel porch. In spite of the
plum pudding my spirits were rather low and I was reminded of Touchstone
wandering in the Forest of Arden, when he says:—

    “When I was at home I was in a better place,
    But travellers must be content.”

It was a real pleasure to step into a fine American coach drawn by an
American engine and run by an American crew bound for the chief town of
the Isthmus and the one that gave it its name.

[Illustration: THE MARKET, TEHUANTEPEC]

Tehuantepec is a place where some twenty thousand souls are trying to
solve the problem of existence under favourable skies. In this city of
a hot midday sun and little rain the strenuous life has few disciples.
It is situated on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera on both banks of a
broad river and only a few miles from the ocean. It is composed of low,
one-storied buildings, many of which show cracks that are the result
of the earthquake shocks which sometimes visit here. The streets are
narrow and the centre of the town is the market plaza. Until the opening
of the railroad, which runs through the centre of the town, strangers
were almost unknown and the quaint customs, costumes and habits still
remain. The market and the river furnish the only life. The latter
is always made lively and interesting to the stranger because of the
crowds of bathers in the stream and washerwomen on the banks. It is an
animated scene and has an air of naturalness devoid of any false ideas
of modesty. These Indians belong to the Zapotec tribe and they are among
the cleanest people in the world, as a race, as the long lines of bathers
of both sexes from early dawn until nightfall attest. Woman’s rights are
recognized and undisputed among these people. The women run the place
and do ninety per cent. of the business. The wife must vouch for the
husband before he can obtain credit. In the market place where most of
the bartering is done she reigns supreme.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrowest neck of land in Mexico
between the two great oceans and, with the exception of the Isthmus of
Panama, is the narrowest point on the continent. The soil is extremely
rich and the natural products and resources of the Isthmus are numerous
and varied. All products indigenous to the tropics grow here. Different
sections, according to elevation, are especially adapted to the
cultivation of corn, cacao, tobacco, rice and sugar cane. Medicinal
plants, spices, all tropical fruits, vanilla, indigo and cotton also will
grow profitably in this climate. Cochineal dye has for a long time come
from the Tehuantepec region, but this industry has been displaced by the
more recent chemical dyes.

The forests abound in game and the rivers and lagoons in fish. The
forests yield useful timbers, such as mahogany, also dyewoods and trees
producing gums and balsams. Oil in paying quantities has been discovered
in several places and the Tehuantepec National Railway, which crosses
the isthmus, is one of the few roads in the world that uses oil for
fuel. There are also profitable salt deposits. A great deal of American
and European capital has been sunk in unsuccessful plantations along
this route. This has been due to illogical and dishonest promotion.
The fertile soil will produce immense crops of the things adapted for
cultivation. With this fact in view it seems strange to see one abandoned
plantation after another as you journey over the two hundred miles
separating Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz, the two termini of the Isthmus
of Tehuantepec trans-continental and inter-oceanic railroad route. In the
matter of climate the Mexicans claim a great superiority for Tehuantepec
over Panama, because of the strong winds that blow constantly from ocean
to ocean.

For centuries this isthmus has attracted a great deal of attention from
explorers and engineers in the effort to discover or provide the most
convenient and economical route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Cortez first realized the necessity of such a route and explored this
whole section in the hope of finding a natural strait. It is even claimed
that he conceived the idea of a canal across this narrow strip of land.
Failing in these projects he planned a carriage road from coast to coast,
which was finally constructed by the Spaniards. Many of the miners who
flocked to California during the gold excitement went by this highway.
Later civil engineers proposed and advocated a canal by this route even
before the Panama route was seriously considered. The distance from ocean
to ocean is only one hundred and twenty-five miles in a bee line. The
land is comparatively level and the rise on the Atlantic side is very
gradual culminating in the Chivela Pass at a height of seven hundred and
thirty feet. From here to the Pacific the descent is more abrupt. A ship
railway was at one time seriously considered and liberal concessions
were granted by the Mexican government to the American engineer James B.
Eads and his associates. This project although considered feasible by
engineers has never been able to enlist capital for its construction.

The Panama Canal under French control was a colossal failure. A project
which for a time seemed to promise a solution of the problem for a quick
and economical route between the East and West ended in lamentable
disgrace and for a long time remained in what one of our former
presidents would have called, a condition of “innocuous desuetude.” When
the United States undertook this great enterprise, the completion of this
desirable waterway was placed at ten years or even less. Now at the end
of four years we are credibly informed that little has been done except
the completion of plans, surveys, purchase of machinery and necessary
sanitation. All of these preliminaries were essential and will greatly
facilitate the real work when once started. All loyal Americans believe
in the ultimate successful completion of this great undertaking. Yet,
instead of ten years, we can see that fifteen years, or even twenty years
would be a more accurate statement of the time necessary to complete the
severing of the two continents. In the meantime, what?

While other countries have been planning, the Mexican government with
the characteristic foresight shown by President Diaz has been quietly
preparing to meet the problem of a short and economical route between
the two oceans. This has been done without the blowing of horns and few
people were aware until recently of what was being done and what had
really been accomplished. The government of Mexico decided upon the
plan of constructing a railway across the Isthmus from Coatzacoalcos,
on the Gulf of Mexico, to Salina Cruz, on the Pacific Ocean, a distance
of one hundred and ninety-four miles. Most railroads in tropical lands
are narrow gauge but this line is constructed of standard width and was
completed in 1895. When first opened to traffic the road was in a very
imperfect condition. In 1899 a contract was entered into between the
government and the English house of Pearson and Sons whereby the two
parties became joint owners of the road for a period of fifty years and
the net earnings should be shared on an equitable basis.

The construction was of a difficult character because the route passed
through some cañons, rocky cuts and a great deal of swampy soil. The work
has been well done and it is one of the best roads in Mexico to-day, with
good equipment and traffic managed in an up-to-date and business-like
manner. Already large orders for equipment have been placed and plans
for double-tracking the entire road have been drawn. The headquarters
and general offices are at Rincon Antonio, which is at the highest point
and has the appearance of a typical new English town with its red brick
terraces. This town receives the full benefit of the winds constantly
blowing across the isthmus and enjoys a pleasant and salubrious climate.
The shops and roundhouse for the railroad have been built at this place
also and the employees are all comfortably housed. Some of the officers
have built very commodious homes of their own, with every possible
convenience. This town is in marked contrast with the old Mexican towns
and villages along the route.

The general officers of the road and head men in the port works at both
termini are all English and Americans. Formerly they were English, but in
recent years the Americans have been replacing the English, as they have
been found more satisfactory and better adapted for the work.

The government soon learned that the railway without good harbours was a
poor proposition. The plans of the government were then made to include
immense port works and safe, commodious harbours at Coatzacoalcos and
Salina Cruz. At the former place the river forms a natural harbour of
an average depth of fifty feet at low water. The only problem here was
to remove a sand bar and construct piers. The work of removing the bar
has been completed and several large steel wharves and warehouses have
already been constructed and others are in course of construction.
The total frontage of the wharves when completed will be over three
thousand feet. It is intended to have a minimum depth of thirty-three
feet alongside of the wharves which will be equipped with every modern
contrivance for unloading cargo quickly and economically from ships, and
transferring to the railroad and vice versa.

The work at Salina Cruz presented far greater problems. It has demanded
the maximum of engineering skill and an immense sum of money. Here nature
had aided in no way and everything had to be done by human effort. On
account of severe wind storms it was deemed necessary to construct both
an outer and an inner harbour in order to make a perfectly safe anchorage
at all times and the work was begun in 1900. The outer harbour is being
formed by thrusting two massive breakwaters like immense arms out into
the bay with an entrance six hundred feet wide. The longest of these
breakwaters will be three thousand feet, consisting of three sections, of
different angles, with the convex sides toward the sea. The other is only
one-half as extensive. The foundation for these breakwaters is started
thirty feet below low water mark and in some places is two hundred
feet in width. Upon a rubble foundation immense blocks of concrete and
natural rock are placed at random. Then on top are placed regular rows of
forty-ton concrete blocks. The amount of material already used and needed
to complete this work is almost inconceivable. More than three-fourths
of the largest breakwater is already completed. The inner basin will be
wholly artificial and will occupy in part the site of the old town of
Salina Cruz with an entrance ninety feet wide. Immense dredges are now at
work on this basin which will be large enough to accommodate whole fleets
of the largest vessels afloat. From two thousand to four thousand men
have been and are still employed, the majority being natives.

Although the harbour at Salina Cruz is still incomplete, this route was
formally opened on January 23rd, 1907. In the presence of a great throng
of notables, including the representatives of twenty nations, President
Diaz touched a lever which set in motion a steam winch that was used to
carry the first load of cargo from a steamer to a freight car. After this
car had been loaded it was transferred to Coatzacoalcos and the President
touched another lever that set in motion the machinery for unloading the
car and transferring the freight to a waiting steamer. In this manner was
opened a route that is destined to take a prominent part in the handling
of the world’s commerce, and which has cost the Mexican government more
than $25,000,000 in gold, and the end is not yet. After four hundred
years the dream of Cortez has come true and the isthmian highway is open
to the world.

What advantages are claimed for this route? The benefit to Mexico is
self-evident. It will greatly facilitate the commerce between the two
long coast lines of the republic. This great undertaking was not begun
for the national trade alone. It is intended to compete for all that
traffic which has heretofore gone around Cape Horn, through the Straits
of Magellan, or across the Panama railroad. The Tehuantepec route is
one thousand, two hundred and fifty miles shorter between New York and
San Francisco than the Panama route. The average freight steamer would
require from four to five days to cover this distance. The managers of
the Tehuantepec National railroad propose to unload a cargo, carry it
across the isthmus and reload it in two days. It will probably require
one day for a vessel to pass through the Panama canal. This would make
a net saving of from three to four days for the Tehuantepec route. The
extra cost of loading and unloading would be made up by the saving of
canal dues and expenses of the ship for that period. Thus there will be
a net saving of three to four days in shipment, which might be quite a
feature with many classes of freight. In cheapness of transportation, the
continental railroads of the United States could not compete. Already
contracts have been made with a line of steamers which have heretofore
run between San Francisco, Hawaii and New York via Cape Horn to transfer
their freight by this route. The government claims to have more freight
in sight for 1907 than the Panama railroad has ever carried in a single
year.

This route has been lost sight of in the enthusiasm over the Panama
canal. It will be completed several years before the canal, and will
during that interim, at least, have a great advantage over the present
Panama railroad route. The same necessity of transhipment exists there,
but without the fine, safe harbours, modern and commodious docks, and the
quick loading and unloading machinery with which the Tehuantepec route is
equipped.

    NOTE TO REVISED EDITION. The success of the Tehuantepec
    National Railroad has greatly exceeded expectations, and it
    was found necessary to double track the entire length of the
    road. The improvements at Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos (now
    officially called Puerto Mexico) have been completed. Both
    cities have been made ports of call for all lines of steamers
    passing near. Through Pullman service is now maintained between
    the City of Mexico and Salina Cruz. Since writing the original
    edition of this book the writer has visited Panama and gone
    over the canal route with Colonel Goethals, the engineer in
    charge. It is a pleasure to record an appreciation of this
    great work, and to know that it will be ready for the world’s
    fleets by 1915, and probably a year earlier. There will still
    be a wide field of usefulness, however, for the Tehuantepec
    National.



CHAPTER VIII

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ANCIENTS

    “Builded on the ruins of dead thrones
    Whose temple walls were old when Thebes was new;
    On altars whose weird sacrificial stones
    With ghastly offerings were crimsoned through;
    Oblivion hides and holds thy secrets fast—
    The dust of ages lies upon thy past,
                All wonderful, mysterious Mexico.”[1]


Mexico is a land of ruins and the footprints of former races can be
traced all over the southern half of the country. These ruins teach
us that it must have taken many centuries to develop the land into
the condition in which it was found by the Spaniards. It was not only
the growth of a long time, but it was the product of the civilization
developed by many different races and tribes. Otherwise Mexico would
not be filled to-day with a hundred tribes speaking as many distinct
dialects. There are many ruins of cities extending from the Valley
of Mexico to the remotest corner of Yucatan, and many of them show
evidences of wonderful structures that are the amazement of even the
present generation. Not buried beneath volcanic lava, like Pompeii and
Herculaneum, yet all are silent cities, for their inhabitants departed
hundreds, perhaps, thousands of years ago. A few broken columns now
remain where doubtless whole cities once stood.

Nothing is known of the history of these cities. The Spanish priests,
with fanatical frenzy, destroyed all of the picture writings of the
Aztecs that they could lay their hands upon. So many were destroyed,
some chroniclers say, that great bonfires were made. What light these
manuscripts might have cast upon the history of these early races cannot
even be conjectured. As Prescott says, “it is impossible to contemplate
these mysterious monuments of a lost civilization without a strong
feeling of curiosity as to who were their architects and what is their
probable age.” They are undoubtedly very old, and some claim they are as
old as the architecture of Egypt and Hindoostan. They have marked Eastern
characteristics, as in the hieroglyphical writings at Palenque, in
Yucatan, where are ruins of a palace and supposed holy city, with many
sculptured figures of human and animal beings. The same is true of Uxmal,
also in that same quaint and interesting corner of Mexico. These writings
never have been and probably never will be deciphered. Then at Palenque
can be traced the outline of the Roman cross which has greatly mystified
antiquarians. We can only speculate on the origin of these monuments;
whence came the people who constructed them; and in what period of the
earth’s history they were built; but speculation proves nothing and
convinces nobody.

East of the City of Mexico about twenty-seven miles lies the village
of San Juan Teotihuacan. Near this hamlet are traces of a great
city covering more than four square miles, and remains of walls and
fortifications, a part of the wall that still stands being more than two
hundred feet thick and thirty-two feet high. The most marked features
of these ruins are the numerous pyramids, great and small, which lie
scattered over the plain. Teotihuacan means “City of the Gods,” and
doubtless these pyramidal structures were a necessary part of a holy
city in the eyes of the race that constructed them, and were mounds of
worship. Otherwise why would a race build such great structures at such
an infinite cost of labour?

The largest of these numerous pyramids is called the “Pyramid of the
Sun,” which has a base seven hundred feet square, and a height of one
hundred and eight-seven feet. The next largest is the “Pyramid of the
Moon,” which is one hundred and thirty-seven feet high, and has a
base four hundred and fifty feet square. At a distance the pyramids
seem rather insignificant, and their outlines resemble an ordinary
steep-sided hill, but on nearer approach they are better appreciated. The
comparison with the noted pyramids of Egypt would, at first glance, seem
unfavourable, for the vegetation and vines that cover the sides rather
hide the pyramidal outline. They were probably higher originally, but
the destructive work of man and action of the elements have reduced the
size. Recent investigation shows that these pyramids are built in layers
of volcanic rock, cement, pottery and sun-dried brick. There are five
layers—each layer being a complete pyramid in itself.

It is supposed that on the summit of each pyramid was a platform which
supported great golden images of the sun and moon respectively, but no
vestige of any such image has ever been discovered. If made of gold,
and the Spaniards set their eyes on it, it would not have remained long.
Authorities differ as to whether the Toltecs, or a race that preceded
them, erected these mighty structures. The Mexican government has
undertaken the work of restoring the two pyramids, and has appropriated
a large sum of money to carry on the work. Several hundred labourers are
now engaged in denuding them of the soil and growth of centuries that
covers them.

Near Puebla, and situated in a rich and beautiful valley, of which
mention has been made elsewhere, is the most noted pyramid in Mexico—that
of Cholula. Legend says that it was built by a race of giants who
intended to raise it to the very heavens themselves, but that the gods
became displeased and destroyed them. It is very similar in nature to
the Hebrew story of the Tower of Babel. Because of its great base, which
is more than a thousand feet on each side, and covers twenty acres, and
has a height of only one hundred and seventy-seven feet, it looks like a
natural elevation that has been squared in places and levelled at the top
rather than a pyramid. Like the other pyramids the sides are overgrown
with trees and bushes. Examination shows that it has been constructed
of sun-dried brick, clay and limestone. I quote the dimensions of two of
the most famous Egyptian pyramids in order that the reader may better
understand the comparative height and base of those and the Mexican
structures:

                  HEIGHT.         BASE ON
                                 EACH SIDE.

    Cheops,       448 feet        728 feet
    Mycerinus,    162  ”          580  ”
    Cholula,      177  ”        1,000  ”
    Sun           187  ”          700  ”
    Moon          137  ”          450  ”

This valley was sacred in early times. Cortez says he counted four
hundred towers in the city of Cholula (a much larger city then than now),
and no temple had more than two towers. Above the city loomed the great
pyramid, on the summit of which stood a sumptuous temple in which was the
image of the mystic deity, Quetzalcoatl. He had “ebon features, wearing a
mitre on his head waving with plumes of fire, with a resplendent collar
of gold around his neck, pendants of mosaic turquoise on his ears, a
jewelled sceptre in one hand, and a shield curiously painted, the emblem
of his rule over the winds, in the other.” This was the god who drew
pilgrims and devotees by the thousands from the farthest corners of
Anahuac.

This god was credited with power over rains, and was appealed to
especially in time of drouth. Bandelier, who made an exhaustive study
of this district, translates an early Spanish writer as follows: “To
this god they prayed whenever they lacked water, and sacrificed to it
children from six to ten years of age, whom they captured or bought for
the purpose. When they sacrificed, they carried the children up the hill
in procession, whither went some old men singing, and before the idol
they cut the child open with a knife, taking out the heart, and they
burnt incense to the idol and afterwards buried the baby there before the
idol.” Thus it is seen that the Nahuatl tribe, who occupied this valley,
pursued the same bloody rites as the Aztecs.

The first act of Cortez was to destroy this temple and erect a Christian
church on the spot, so that spires and crosses have replaced the pagan
towers. All over the valley are many great churches so conspicuous in
comparison with the humble homes of the natives. The view from the summit
of this ancient structure is grand and imposing. John L. Stoddard is
inspired by this scene and speaks as follows: “Whatever else of Mexico
may be forgotten, I shall remember to my latest breath that wonderfully
impressive vision from Cholula. Before me rose, against the darkening
sky, a mighty cross, the sculptured proof that here Christianity had
proved victorious; and as I lingered, my feet upon the Aztec pyramid, my
hand upon the symbol of the conqueror’s faith, my eyes turned towards
that everlasting pinnacle of snow, I thought the lesson of Cholula
to be this: that higher, grander, and far more enduring than all the
different religions of humanity are the Eternal Power they imperfectly
reveal; and that above the temples, pyramids, and crosses, which
mark the blood-stained pathway of our race, rises a lofty mountain
peak, whose glory falls alike upon the Aztec and the Spaniard, and in
whose heaven-born radiance all races and all centuries may find their
inspiration and their hope.”

The Valley of Oaxaca seems to have been the favourite dwelling place of
one or more of the early races of Mexico. All over the vales that centre
at Oaxaca, and on the surrounding hills, are ruins of former cities
and palaces that strongly resemble in outline and decoration the works
of the Ptolemies and Pharaohs. Next to Mitla, the most noted ruins in
this valley are those of Monte Alban. The site of this ancient city
is four miles from Oaxaca on the summit of a mountain, about eleven
hundred feet above the valley. The ruins extend for a distance of more
than a mile along the ridge, and enclose a great rectangular, depressed
court nine hundred feet long, and three hundred feet in width. There
are some well-preserved, sculptured stones with pictorial inscriptions,
and images of gods. Because of its situation, which commands a complete
view of these valleys in every direction, it is supposed that this place
was intended for defence and a place of refuge in troublous times. The
view from the summit is magnificent and well repays the traveller for a
couple of hours’ ride on the back of that sadly-wise, and much-maligned
animal—the Mexican mule.

The village of Mitla is situated about twenty-five miles southeast of
Oaxaca. It is best visited from that city by coach or mules. We hired a
coach and driver, an unprepossessing looking outfit, and started on the
journey.

“How long will it take?” I asked the driver.

“_A las doce_,” he replied in idiomatic Spanish, meaning that we would
arrive at twelve o’clock. As we had started at seven o’clock, that made
it a five hours’ journey.

About an hour’s ride out of Oaxaca is the village of Tule, where, in the
churchyard, and overshadowing the sacred structure, stands the famous Big
Tree of Tule which deserves a passing notice. Although not a ruin, it is
a relic of prehistoric days long gone by. This venerable giant is one of
the largest trees in the world, exceeding in circumference the famous
redwoods of California, and equalling the largest reported specimens
of the gigantic baobab of Africa. This great tree is one hundred and
fifty-four feet in circumference six feet above the ground. Twenty-eight
people with their hands outstretched, and touching their finger tips,
can just encircle its great girth. The height is one hundred and sixty
feet, and the spread of the branches one hundred and forty feet. It is
a species of the cypress called by the Aztecs _ahuehuete_. The great
traveller, Humboldt, visited this tree about the middle of the last
century and affixed a tablet containing his name and an inscription. As a
proof that this old cypress is still growing, one sees that this tablet
is now almost grown over with bark nearly a foot thick. Tule is a quaint
village where the thatched huts are enclosed by fences of the prickly
cactus, called _organo_, because of the resemblance of its branches to
the pipes of an organ, and the lanes are shaded by trees. Underneath the
higher trees grow the orange and lemon, while the oleander and other
flowering bushes add their brightness to the scene.

After being held up for a road charge of seven cents by the officials of
the village, which we paid, the driver is allowed to proceed. We pass
through villages with the poetical names of Tlacolulu and Tlacochahuaya.
As the coach bounces along the rough highway, over the road on a hillside
are seen caves where human beings live who are literally cliff-dwellers.
Then the valley opens up, and far ahead is seen San Pablo Mitla a typical
Indian village built around the _hacienda_ of Don Felix Quero, who is a
sort of feudal lord over the neighbouring peons. Good entertainment is
furnished for the traveller, and it is delightful to rest within the high
walls of this hospitable stopping-place.

The first mention of the ruins at this village is by a Spanish writer
nearly four centuries ago. His description would not be much amiss
to-day. It is as follows: “We passed through a pueblo which is called
Mictlan, signifying ‘hell’ in the native tongue, where were found some
edifices more worth seeing than anything else in New Spain. Among them
was a temple of the demon, and the dwelling of its attendants—very
sightly, particularly one hall made of something like lattice work. The
fabric was of stone, with many figures and shapes; it had many doorways,
each one built of three great stones, two at the sides and one at the
top, all very thick and wide. In these quarters there was another hall
containing round pillars, each one of a single piece, and so thick that
two men could barely embrace them; their height might be five fathoms.”

To what purposes were these truly magnificent structures dedicated? Were
they palaces, temples, tombs, fortresses, dwelling places, storehouses
or places of refuge? Neither archeologists nor antiquarians have
satisfactorily answered these questions. According to many of the leading
archeologists they are the most interesting and best preserved ruins in
North America. Here was a great city built by a race prior to the Aztecs,
for that race could tell the Spanish conquerors nothing of its builders.
The secrets guarded by the huge monoliths of stone, and the high
mosaic-covered walls of Mitla are safe from prying eyes. Not one city
alone stood here, for there are many remains of walls, columns and huge
monoliths thrown down similar to these, scattered all over this valley.
The best authority says that they were used for tombs but this could
not have been the only use. They were probably also used for places of
worship, public purposes, or cities of refuge, or perhaps for all those
purposes.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE UNDERGROUND CHAMBER, MITLA

NORTH TEMPLE, MITLA

HALL OF THE MONOLITHS, MITLA]

A close investigation shows that there are five distinct groups of the
ruins, but some of them are in badly preserved condition. The village
covers the site of a part of them. There is a similarity in the structure
of all, as the outer walls are composed of oblong panels of mosaic
forming arabesques and grecques. At first sight, or at a distance, it
looks like sculptured designs on the walls. Closer inspection reveals the
fact that this mosaic is formed of pieces of stone accurately cut and
fitted into the face of the walls. These pieces are about seven inches in
length, one inch in thickness, and two in breadth. The patterns cannot
well be described as they are so complicated. All the ornamentation
consists of geometrical figures, either rectangular or diagonal, and
differs from all other ruins in Mexico, in that there are no human or
animal figures.

There is an underground chamber beneath one of the temples, built in
the shape of a cross with each arm about twelve feet long. The sides
are worked into the same mosaic pattern as the rest of the walls. It
is generally believed that these chambers were tombs, although some
contend that they were the entrance to subterranean passages leading long
distances away. If so, the passages were filled up long ago.

The northwestern group is in the best state of preservation. One of
the buildings here covers nearly eight thousand square feet, and has
all its massive walls intact with scarcely a stone thrown down. The
characteristic entrance, consisting of three doors, side by side, is seen
here also, fronting the interior of the court. The lintels are immense
blocks of stone eighteen feet long, five feet wide and four feet high.
How these immense stones were transported to this spot and raised without
the aid of machinery, is as great a mystery as similar accomplishments
by the Egyptians. Through these doors the famous Hall of Monoliths,
or Columns, is reached. This is a wonderful relic of prehistoric
architecture. The six monolithic columns, still standing in this room
are each twelve feet in height and almost nine feet in circumference.
They are plain stones having neither pedestal nor capital and are unique
among the ruins of the world.

Torquemada, an old Spanish historian, writes of this hall in the
following quaint style: “There was in those Edifices, or Square of the
Temple, another Hall, all framed around Pillars of Stone; very high and
so thick that scarce might two Men of good height embrace them so as to
touch finger tips the one with the other. And these Pillars were all of
one piece; and they say that all the Pillars and Columns, from top to
bottom, was four Fathoms. The Pillars were very like to those of St.
Mary, the Greater, of Rome, all very well and smoothly wrought.” This
hall is more than a hundred feet long, and twenty feet wide. These great
stones may have supported a roof formerly but there is no evidence of it
at the present time.

From the Hall of the Monoliths a dark, stone-covered passage leads into
a room called the Audience Chamber. This is a splendid room with its
walls in carved mosaics, or a setting of tiles, after the Grecian models.
There are four long, narrow rooms, or corridors, on either side of
this main chamber without other entrance except the one just mentioned.
One of these, the West room, is most beautiful and is nearly perfect,
as scarcely a tile is broken or missing from its exquisitely inlaid
walls which at first inspection look like stucco work. The tiles are so
accurately inlaid that no mortar was used, or needed, to hold them in
place. This is the Corridor of the Mosaics. There are also traces of a
lustrous, dark, red paint, used on a hard cement plaster. It is quite
probable that all the buildings in the five groups were as carefully
constructed and as exquisitely ornamented as this one, but they have been
destroyed by succeeding races.

North of this group was another ruin on the walls of which a Christian
church has been built. Most of the materials used in its construction
came from this old temple or palace. The sacristy of this church is
formed in part of a portion of the old building, and covered with a tile
roof. This structure was the largest of all in size, extending over a
space nearly three hundred feet long by one hundred feet wide, and with
walls from five to six feet in thickness. One room is now used as a
stable, and contains some strange hieroglyphics done in a lustrous red
paint which have never been deciphered. These are the only semblance to
anything like writing, or historical inscriptions, that appear anywhere
in the ruins. In the centre of the main court is a hard cement pavement
laid out in the form of a square with a cut stone border. This may have
been intended for ornament or for human sacrifices. The latter conjecture
might not be erroneous, knowing, as we do, the customs of those early
Mexican races.

There are many other evidences of ruins near Mitla. Clay idols, or
images, made of terracotta are found all over the neighbourhood. Children
hunt for specimens and bring them to tourists for sale. It is also said
that many stone wedges, and copper chisels and axes, have been discovered
here but I did not see any of them.

[Illustration: A ZAPOTECO WOMAN]

Who built these ruins? Bancroft, the historian of Mexico, says that they
were built by the Zapotecs at an early period of their civilization.
The Indians now inhabiting this valley are Zapotecs and they are a
primitive, simple and harmless race. If these people, who now dwell in
thatch hovels and caves, were the once proud race that erected these
magnificent structures, then we must say, “How have the mighty fallen.”
What must these structures have been in the heyday of their prosperity
that they are now so glorious in their mellow decay? The famous Palace of
the Alhambra, glorious monument to the genius of the Moor, is scarcely
more magnificent than these ruins lying here within the little Indian
village of Mitla. The traveller can give his imagination full play for
there is no written history to destroy the scenes he creates. He can in
fancy re-create these beautiful structures; people these courts and halls
with royalty, priests or warriors; make the air vocal with the chants of
priests or shrieks of the victims of human sacrifice; and there is no one
or no record to rebuke him.



CHAPTER IX

WOMAN AND HER SPHERE


The life and position of woman in Mexico varies much by reason of the
heterogeneous character of the population. Because of the absence of a
clearly defined middle class it is a fairly safe proposition to say that
there are but two classes in Mexico, Creoles and Indians. Creoles include
all those who are Europeans or in whom the European blood predominates.
Domestic life among the Creole class savours of the East. The ideas with
respect to women are Moorish rather than American. Although not obliged
to appear on the street with face enshrouded in a shawl or veil, yet the
young woman who has respect for her good name would not go abroad without
the _duenna_, or some female companion. Another reminder of Oriental
exclusiveness is seen in the life of the ladies of the wealthier classes
who always drive in closed carriages even in this land of balmy air and
splendid sunshine and, when shopping, do not deign to leave the carriage.

On account of the restrictions against the appearance of women in
public, the custom grew up in Spain and Mexico of allowing them to use
the windows and balconies for observation. In the cool of the evening
the windows on the streets are opened and women, especially the young
ladies, appear there to watch the carriages and passers-by and nod to
their friends. The home life and social restrictions toward women are
inherited from Spanish ancestors who were at one time the aristocracy and
ruling class of Mexico. Nowhere is the sentiment of home stronger than
among the Creoles. There may be no such word as home in his vocabulary
but the _casa_, or house, of the Mexican is his castle and he protects
it in every way from prying eyes. One writer has expressed his view as
follows:—“The intense feeling of individuality which so strongly marks
the Spanish character and which in the political world is so fatal an
element of strife and obstruction, favours this peculiar domesticity.
The Castillian is submissive to his king and his priest; haughty and
inflexible with his equals. But his own house is a refuge from the
contests of out of doors.”

In the home the father is absolute lord and master and all bow to him.
There never comes a time when the children are not subject more or less
to parental authority. Yet, in general, the sway is so mild that it is
readily yielded to and is scarcely felt. Grown-up sons and daughters
do not forget the respect and obedience that was expected of them when
they were children. The reverence for parents increases with the passing
of the years. A man never grows too old to kiss the hand of his aged
mother. The old lady dressed in sombre black and who looks like a poor
relation may be the one whose wishes rule. Harmony does not exist in
every family and the exceptions are striking ones. Where quarrels and
family dissensions do occur, the pride and jealousy of the race renders
them the bitterest and fiercest in the world. These vindictive feuds in
families frequently led to duels and stabbing affrays to defend personal
honour and dignity in former days. A man and wife will often live for
years beneath the same roof without speaking. They cannot be divorced but
neither will speak the first word and each rather admires the grit of the
other.

The home life is jealously shielded from curious eyes. In no place in the
world is the social circle more closely guarded than among the higher
classes in the City of Mexico. The thick walls, the barred, prison-like
windows and the massive, well-guarded doors prevent intrusion and perhaps
serve to foster this inclination to lead exclusive lives. Cultured
Americans, unless in the official set, who have lived there for years
have found it impossible to break into these exclusive circles. Whether
this action is due to jealousy, diffidence, a feeling of superiority,
or aversion to aliens the fact remains that they are very loth to
admit Americans into the privacy of their homes. The foreigner has few
opportunities of judging intelligently of the women for they are immured
so closely within the four walls of their dwellings. Social life in the
semi-public, gregarious ways of American cities is unknown and would not
suit these privacy-loving, domestic women.

In “The Awakening of a Nation” the author, Mr. C. F. Lummis, gives a
very good description of the Creole woman: “Always and everywhere the
Spanish-American female face is interesting; at least as often as in
other bloods it is beautiful. Photographs tell but half the story, for
complexion is beyond them. But a certain clearness of feature, the
almost invariable beauty of the eyes and fine strength of the brows seem
as much a Spanish birthright as the high-bred hand and foot. Not even
the Parisian face is so flexible in expression, so fit for archness,
so graphic to the mood. Yet there is a certain presence in it not to
be unnoticed, not to be forgotten. To no woman on earth is religion
a more vital, ever-present, all-pervading actuality; and that is why
you meet the face of the Madonna almost literally at every corner in
Spanish-America. And it is not a superficial thing. There is none to whom
the wife-heart, the mother-heart is truer-womanly.”

The Mexican men are passionate admirers of the fair sex. Perhaps it is
because of the bewitchery of their black, sparkling eyes. Certainly it
is not on account of the white paste which is plastered over their faces
or the rouge on their lips. Nor have they added to their attractiveness
by the substitution of the Parisian hat for the graceful lace mantilla
which lent itself so well to the gentle art of coquetry. There are many
handsome women among the Creoles but they are not all beautiful as some
writers would lead the reader to infer. They are bright, vivacious and
naturally clever. They have a quick understanding which only needs to
be cultivated and perhaps this intelligence is quicker and more active
than that of the men. They can weave and embroider with taste and skill.
They know a little music and a little French but, in the American sense,
they are not well educated. The real intellectual element is wanting and
the understanding is uncultivated. The higher education for women has not
received the stamp of approval in this land of “to-morrow” and the sex
has not yet become an important factor in the business or professional
world. “If only learned wives,” says one, “are responsible for that poor,
down-trodden, pitiable specimen of man called the henpecked husband, then
a timid man would be safe in choosing a Mexican wife.” The patriarchal
element of society in which man is recognized as lord and master is still
in force among these people. The question of woman’s rights has never yet
agitated the bosoms of these gentle women.

Domestic freedom in the sense understood by Americans is absent. The
daughters are closely watched by their mothers who seldom permit them
out of their sight unless accompanied by some older woman or faithful
servant. Such a thing as permitting a daughter to have a young man call
on her or accompany her to the theatre would never enter the mind of the
Mexican mother. In her estimation the men do not deserve any confidence
until they are married. The man, of course, thinks that these precautions
are unnecessarily cruel. Nevertheless mammas think they are essential,
pater familias approves and so the custom remains. Perhaps it is these
restrictions that are responsible for the reputation the _señoritas_,
or young women, have of being flirts or coquettes. They are overflowing
with life and spirits and their black eyes look so full of mischief that
sometimes they seem to be just spoiling for a flirtation. They are very
animated in conversation and in talking keep time with hands, knees,
shoulders, elbows and face. Their talk is full of the most extravagant
and seemingly profane expressions.

“Oh, Jesus!” says one girl, “what a fetching hat.”

“Mary Most Pure,” replies her companion, “it must have cost five pesos.”

They can stare an American out of countenance and look him straight
in the eye but it is only a look of curiosity. The social pleasures
resulting from the intermingling of the sexes that are so common with
us are not enjoyed by them. At a dance the men retire to one side of
the room after a number and the women take seats on the opposite side.
Marriages among the wealthier classes are generally made by the parents
without consultation with the principals in an affair supposed to be of
the hearts. After the formal engagement the intended husband is allowed
to call on his fiancée in the presence of the entire family and may take
her out to the theatre when accompanied by the mother and all the female
members of the household. Marriage is a formidable undertaking for the
groom must furnish the entire bridal outfit, in addition to the house
and its furnishings. Two ceremonies become necessary, too, if the couple
wish to be married by the rites of the church. The civil ceremony is
absolutely essential and cannot be dispensed with for under the law this
is the only legal marriage. And yet with all these inconveniences to
courtship and matrimony, bachelors are less numerous than they are where
every facility is granted for love making.

Love and religion are practically the only two subjects with which
a _señorita_ is expected to concern herself. She is, probably, not
intentionally or by nature a flirt and she might scorn to inveigle in
her meshes the heart of an admirer, but she cannot refrain from using
her irresistible eyes or entirely avoid the coquettish use of the
indispensable fan with its wordless telegraphy. The Mexican lover pays
extravagant homage to his sweetheart and a woman nowhere else is paid
such delicate and elaborate compliments. The Spanish method of courtship
in which the lady is pictured as sitting at a barred window or leaning
from a balcony to listen to the honeyed phrases of her lover or the music
of his guitar has reached its highest state of perfection in Mexico.

In the current language of that country a man who is courting a woman is
“playing the bear.” It is so named from the restless walking to and fro
of the love-stricken youth in front of the window of his inamorata, in a
manner not unlike a captive bear in a cage. The same method pursued in
the United States would either result in a man being sent to the lunatic
asylum as suffering from a “brain storm” or to the workhouse.

[Illustration: “PLAYING THE BEAR”]

A young man who sees a young lady on the street whom he admires, begins
by following her home although it may be days or weeks before he will
venture to speak to her. Having reached her _casa_ he will begin the
_hacer el oso_, or “playing the bear,” by walking back and forth in
front of the house or standing on the street with his eyes fixed upon
her windows or balconies for hours at a time, days and nights alike. The
young lady, if interested at all, will remain back of the curtain and the
slightest movement of the curtains or blinds is a sign that she is not
entirely indifferent. After a day or two she may show her face or wave
her hand as a further mark of encouragement, and after several days she
may appear on the balcony for a few moments. If she goes to church the
lover is probably not far behind and an occasional smile or glance from
her eyes of midnight is given him as a reward for his faithfulness. Next
come daily salutes and smiles when the lover appears. Flowers are sent
by the aid of the water-carriers or charcoal-vendors in which notes are
concealed. A system of wireless-telegraphy communication is established
by means of a fan on one side and a cigarette on the other. This medium
of communication has been developed until it has become an elaborate
code. Letters become more and more endearing. When the courtship has so
far advanced that the lovers will talk, the moonlight nights are all
devoted to the love-making and several pairs of lovers can be seen on
almost any street by the late home-comer—he on the sidewalk, she at the
window. This courtship frequently extends over a period of years and the
lover who makes himself so ridiculous sometimes loses the girl then.
Jacob’s seven-year probation has many counterparts among the Romeos of
Mexico.

A young woman of my acquaintance and her sister recently visited a family
in one of the large cities in Mexico. Like all young women they soon
became interested in the subject of Mexican courtship and began to sigh
for a “bear.” Every time they returned from a trip down town a watch
was kept from the window to see if a “bear” followed. At last one of
these creatures appeared and began to pace in front of the house with
his eyes bent upon the window opening out on the balcony. Contrary to
all precedents and to the surprise of the neighbourhood, these women
could not resist the temptation to go out on the balcony on this first
occasion. This was such marked encouragement that the man came day after
day to see _las Señoritas Americanas_ and was still coming when their
visit ended.

American women who have married Mexican husbands have found the
ideas of the two races so radically opposed that the unions have not
been harmonious. Their verdict is that a Mexican man makes an ideal
lover because of his delicate attentions and consideration, but an
unsatisfactory husband since he does not make his wife a companion and
confidante such as an American woman considers her right and privilege.

The individuality of the woman is not so completely merged in that of
her husband at marriage as in the United States. The woman retains her
own name but adds that of her husband. Miss Mary Smith who marries Mr.
John Jones becomes Mrs. Mary Smith de Jones, and she is not called so
exclusively by her husband’s name. However, when the Mexican woman is
married she accommodates herself to the station in life provided by her
husband. The wife usually accepts whatever condition fate has provided
for her and bears it with patience and fortitude. They endure the petty
ills of life with great cheerfulness. They do not go into society much
as custom keeps them from attending mixed assemblages frequently. Their
world is generally confined to their home, husband and children. An
American woman would sigh for liberty if compelled to live this life.
The Mexican woman in America shrinks from the freedom prevalent here and
desires the seclusion of her native land. Families are usually large
so that home duties require a great deal of attention. The respect and
courtesy paid by children to their parents is truly delightful to witness
and shows a real goodness of heart in them.

The mother cannot bear to see her family separated. She wants them all to
stay close together so that each one can stop in and see her every day.
The mothers are loving and tender and idolize their boys. It is regarded
as a terrible thing, scarcely to be borne, for their sons to go out into
the world as American youths do. To go to a distant city is like being
transported to Australia. Even when they remain near home the mothers are
very solicitous for fear they will work too hard. On each saint’s day,
which is religiously observed, presents are given and an old-fashioned
dinner, to which all the cousins, aunts and uncles are invited, is
served. In starting on a journey to a not-distant city, the youth must
visit all his relatives in the neighbourhood and bid adieu.

It is interesting to notice these traits in an age of growing
indifference; but not a little of the lack of progress in Mexico can
be attributed to this unwillingness to sever home ties. Many of these
young men could do better for themselves away from home but a mother’s
pleadings and a mother’s tears keep them at home. Even after marriage
they frequently continue to live under the same roof.

The religious element enters very largely into the life of women. Their
very names are a constant reminder of their worship. Many of them are
christened Mary with one of the attributes of the Virgin or some incident
in the life of the Virgin added such as Conception, Annunciation, Sorrows
or Assumption. Or there are the attributes such as Mary of the Sorrows,
of the Gifts, Miracles, Tears, etc. Religion is sustained by the women
and you will seldom see men at the services unless it is some poor
Indian. They are very pious in their way and attend to their religious
duties with the same interest that they perform their toilet. The
concrete symbols and observances of the church have a great influence
over them. At mass these pious worshippers always dress in sombre black.
They are very particular in training their children in the principles
of the Church. Formerly great faith was placed in the healing power of
certain shrines and relics but this is now dying out under the advance
of modern physicians and their healing remedies. They are still great
believers in signs, omens and other supernatural manifestations.

Above all these women are kind hearted and charitable. Though carefully
guarding their homes, yet if a stranger is admitted into the family he is
received with a generous welcome. Should he return after long absence,
he is greeted almost as one of the family and without reservation. He
is not only permitted but encouraged to call all the members by their
given names and to use the pronoun _tu_ or “thou” in his intercourse with
them. This is an especial privilege among Spanish people who are very
particular about familiarity in address. They will oftentimes deprive
themselves for a friend. They have their faults too. Although smoking is
not countenanced in public it is said that many of them smoke in their
boudoirs and in the company of friends of their own sex. A great deal has
been said of their lack of morality but this is a subject upon which only
those very familiar with the facts should dare to speak, for it cannot
be treated lightly, or solely with the intention of casting a slur on
another race.

[Illustration: WASHING ON THE BANKS OF A STREAM]

The lives of the Indian women of Mexico present a far different picture.
Instead of living in great palaces, their homes are in little adobe
cabins of one room, perhaps without the luxury of a window, or in bamboo
huts covered with plantain leaves without chairs or table and only a mat
of husks for a bed. There is no seclusion in their lives and the real
duties of life begin at a very early age. I cannot call them serious
duties for it is doubtful if these people regard any of the obligations
of life as very serious. Their early experiences are with its hard
realities. They can be seen on the streets and around their homes with
baby brothers or sisters swung across their backs when they themselves
are so small that the burden seems far too heavy for them. On the banks
of the streams they can be seen doing the family washing with a great
amount of rubbing and pounding and wringing. To the fountains and wells
they come carrying earthen jars on their heads, which they fill with
water and replace with a grace and charm that excites admiration.

Some of the Indian maids are handsome. Yet you can tell just what their
future lives will be by observing those of the parents. They will live
in the same squalor, the same poverty as their ancestors have dwelt
for centuries. They will go through life bareheaded and barefooted and
empty-minded just as the generations which preceded have done. At
twenty they have begun to fade and at thirty they retain scarcely a
trace of their beauty. This is due to hard labour and deprivations. At
fourteen few are unmarried or at least unmated. The marriage ceremony is
frequently omitted because of the high charges of the priesthood, yet
both parties are usually faithful. The number of children among this
class is truly marvellous. More than one half of the younger women when
seen on the street have infant children with them.

No people could be more poorly housed or more poorly equipped for
domestic duties than these small brown women; and none use the little
they have to better advantage or are more loyal to the man they call lord
and master. They frequently live and sleep on the bare ground and possess
no more clothing than they have on their bodies. They will pound away at
the _metate_, or stone kneading-board, all day making the _tortillas_
which are both bread and meat to the peon class. These comely Indian
women will bend their lithe, active bodies for hours washing clothes on
large round stones which serve as wash-boards.

Their clothes are simple and the latest fashion has no attraction. The
_rebosa_ is a universal garment and answers for a shawl, a carry-all
for babies and bundles, and a covering for the owner at night. These
black-eyed women with their half-concealed faces, sober, unemotional
manners, high-coloured garments and curious Egyptian-shaped pottery
might well be from the shores of the Red Sea. Their love of warm, bright
colours is even seen in their love for flowers since the many-hued,
brilliant-coloured blossoms are everywhere. Mignonettes and roses,
flowering geraniums and scarlet poppies, gigantic oleanders and dainty
pansies share attention with the brilliant-hued tropical birds in gayest
colours which usually hang beside the open door in a home-made cage of
dried rushes. They are faithful workers in fancy work and will follow
the most intricate design and reproduce it with fidelity and ease. Their
art needle work on handkerchiefs and other linen articles is extremely
fine and their drawn work is praised everywhere. It is not the work of
the dainty fingers of educated women but of very humble and ignorant peon
women in floorless cabins of adobe and of hands accustomed to drudgery.

The women of Tehuantepec are remarkable for their beauty of face and
form. They are easily the finest looking Indian women in America and
in beauty of figure will compare with any race in the world. They are
dark-skinned, almost a soft olive-brown, with sparkling dark eyes, masses
of wavy hair, exquisite features and beautiful teeth, which are kept
clean and white. Their carriage will attract attention, for they walk
erect and with a peculiar stride probably due to the prevailing habit
of carrying baskets and water jars always on the head, where they are
carefully balanced. They are small in stature, with fine limbs, and seem
born models for an artist.

The “Tehuanas” wear a quaint head-dress called “huepil,” which is made of
coarse white lace. It is arranged in three different ways according to
the occasion. At a dance it is wound round the neck and stands out like
a huge Elizabethan ruff. In church it is put on the head something like
a Boulogne fish-wife’s cap. For ordinary wear it is simply laid back on
the hair and the folds hang down the back resembling somewhat the feather
head-dress of a North American Indian chief. It is indeed curious but is
quite befitting. They always dress becomingly, with the quaint little
short jackets which expose a section of brown back above the skirt band
and are cut low about the neck in a fashion that women the world over
have found graceful, and with extremely short sleeves. On extraordinary
occasions this short jacket, or waist, is of richer material embroidered
in handsome designs of brilliant colours. Some of the designs show
oriental characteristics. The skirt of the dress is of soft material,
linen or cotton, to the knees and below the knees is of a heavy lace or
embroidery starched very stiff. The material used is not the usual cheap
and gaudy fabrics sold to the Mexican Indian, but is of good quality and
specially made by a certain Manchester house for these people.

These belles of Tehuantepec have a great liking for American gold coins
which are worn on necklaces. British sovereigns or French napoleons are
usually not desired, but a big premium will be paid for the eagle, half
eagle, or double eagles of Uncle Sam. Every centavo that a woman can save
goes into her fund for purchasing gold pieces. The gorgeous necklace with
the gold coins attached makes a showy and rather beautiful ornament. The
fortune and standing of a “Tehuana” is indicated by the number of gold
coins on her necklace. One Tehuantepec heiress has—it is said—a necklace
which is valued at three thousand dollars. The most striking feature in
the dress of these women is that not one will wear shoes. Dressed in all
her finery, head-dress, starched skirt, polka-dot waist, necklace and
smile, she will appear barefooted—a strange anomaly. Without shoes they
will dance over a stone floor, or even a dirt, gravel-bestrewn surface,
with a grace that violates all rules of art. These dusky princesses will
be found as graceful as gazelles on all occasions.

A visit to Tehuantepec will long be remembered for it is an experience
not easily forgotten. The quaint costumes, the striking dress, and the
proud people combine to make a memory worth carrying away.



CHAPTER X

THE PEON

    “And I have said, and I say it ever,
    As the years go on and the world goes over,
    ’Twere better to be content and clever
    In tending of cattle and tossing of clover,
    In the grazing of cattle and growing of grain,
    Than a strong man striving for fame or gain;
    ...
    For these have the sun, and moon, and air,
    And never a bit of the burthen of care;
    And with all our caring what more have we?”


The distinction between the American and Mexican Indian is not one of
colour alone. There is also a difference in nature. The American Indian
has never been fully subdued, but the Aztecs were conquered by one
overwhelming blow and their spirit crushed. The conquest wrought vast
changes in the lives of these people who once roamed over large estates
which they could call their own. The lands then tilled by their slaves,
they themselves now cultivate for others. Yet they are a satisfied
people, and no one ever hears them complain. Though poverty is their lot
they are content, believing that some people are born rich and others
poor, and that this contrast is in the very nature of things.

Centuries of neglect have not improved either the moral or physical
condition of the peon, but it has not made a misanthrope of him.
Neither has the fact that he bears no part in the government made him
an anarchist or filled his pockets with bombs. So long as a beneficent
providence provides present needs he is supremely content. The mania
for the almighty dollar has not yet entered into his life so that envy
of others does not exist. It is this envy that makes poverty a menace
and element of danger in our own land. The peon neither feels shame for
his own lowly condition nor desires pity from others in more prosperous
circumstances.

[Illustration: A PEON AND HIS WIFE]

Fully one-third of the population of Mexico are full-blooded Indians
and another one-half are _mestizos_, those of mixed blood. Many of the
latter and a number of pure-blooded Indians have reached high positions.
A number of the presidents also, including Guerrero and the noble
Juarez, were pure Indians, and more of them are representatives of the
_mestizos_. This is proof that there is no prejudice against the Indians
as a race such as the anti-negro sentiment in the Southern States. These
illustrious examples are, however, the striking exceptions. Most of them
are in about the same category as the southern negroes,—a race without
ambition. Content to be the servants of another race they neither court
nor welcome change.

These people make up the great peon class of Mexico who constitute the
bulk of the population. They are the descendants of those who were
enslaved by the early conquerors. The Aztecs were an industrious people
as the great structures erected by them, the irrigating works still in
use, and the evidences of judicious and careful cultivation of every foot
of tillable soil bear mute witness. Poverty was almost unknown among them
and rigid laws existed against begging. Among some of the early tribes of
Mexico one-third of the land was divided equally among the able-bodied
men in proportion to the families they had to sustain. Provision was made
by the State for the sick and other classes of unfortunates. No doubt the
enslaving of these people had a weakening effect upon their character.

A natural laziness, ignorance and a lack of interest will probably always
keep down the peon’s efficiency as a worker. The few and simple wants
of his nature and his general contentment eliminate to a great extent
the desire to improve his condition and accumulate property. Then, too,
the evenness of the climate and the fact that at all times some crop is
being harvested, thus making it unnecessary to lay up for an unproductive
season, has had its influence. The labourer is usually given a certain
task for his day’s work. Nothing can induce him to do more than that task
except the assurance that the excess, or over-time, will be credited to
some future day so that he will get a longer holiday. These labourers
are cheap and it requires many of them to accomplish much but there are
millions to be had. They are happy-go-lucky and are unconcerned for the
future. Yet the very fact that they do not possess self-control and are
always willing to follow a leader who understands how to make an appeal
to their prejudices or fanaticism, renders this class a serious obstacle
to a progressive government and one that must be intelligently studied.

The little brown man in the tall, broad-brimmed hat which seems to give
an unusual height to his sturdy frame is a picturesque figure and the
landscape is not complete without him. In the presence of strangers
his face is solemn, but among others of his own kind he is gay and
light-hearted, his face easily bursting into smiles. He will wrap his
tattered shawl about him with as much dignity as the Spanish cavalier
his richly-embroidered _manta_. The act of lighting a cigarette is a
matter of studied ceremony. He will light a match, and first offer it to
a friend with punctilious politeness. The recipient of the favour never
fails to return _muchas gracias_ (many thanks), señor. In fact, this
elaborate politeness between these untidy, ill-clad Indians becomes a
farce-comedy at times. He is polite and never fails to say _con permiso_
(with your permission) if he is obliged to pass by another person,
whether that person be in silks or rags. His own inferiority is admitted
by calling a white man a _gente de razon_ or “one who reasons,” as
distinguished from himself,—a peon.

The peon is indispensable in Mexico for he is not only the labourer, but
the body servant as well. In the latter capacity, if he becomes attached
to his employer, he will not think of his own wants until the master is
provided for, and will be faithful unto death, if necessary. His wages
are always small, but he is satisfied with the little he gets. Gambling
is a natural trait and he loses or gains with a stoicism worthy of
greater things. His money is likewise spent freely at the pulque shop so
that his finances are never embarrassed by a surplus. A little money will
make him very full of liquor, and a little liquor will sometimes make him
a bad man to handle.

The tenacity with which these people cling to an environment is a most
notable trait. The peon is a lover of locality. Seldom can these Indians
be induced to go away from their accustomed habitations. It is this trait
that has made peonage an easy system to maintain in Mexico. They do not
apply much intelligence to their work. Scratching the surface of the soil
with a crooked stick is the perfection of ploughing in their estimation.
The peon does not know and does not care to learn any different way of
doing his work than the one taught him by his fathers. The possibility of
earning more money by the use of labour-saving devices does not possess
the same attraction as for the American labouring man.

Peonage, which is a mild form of slavery, is in force in Mexico. Earning
from eighteen to fifty cents (silver) wages per day and improvident by
nature, it is only natural for the peon to want at some time a little
more money than that earned. An unscrupulous employer can easily involve
the poor, ignorant Indian in a net of debt. After a while a debt of $50
to $100 has accumulated and the worker is in bondage until this amount
is paid. It is an impossible sum for him to save out of his small wages,
for live he must and support a family, which is usually large. The price
of freedom is the total amount of the debt. Until that is paid the law
compels him to work for his creditor, but he is free to get some one else
to advance this money and change masters. He cannot be separated from
his family, nor compelled to leave the plantation on which the debt was
incurred without his consent. The owner may, however, sell the plantation
and transfer the debt to his successor, and the peon must serve the new
master under the same conditions.

On the immense _haciendas_ of the uplands the peons are almost as much
of a fixture as the buildings themselves. It is a strange adaptation of
the old feudal relation and the idea of changing their abode never occurs
to them. They were born in debt, always remain in that condition, and
transmit the same burden to their posterity. This condition is usually
entered into voluntarily by the Indians, so that in the beginning he
has only himself to blame. An Indian who desires work will apply to the
manager of a plantation or ranch for a retainer which seldom exceeds
thirty dollars. He then signs a contract which binds himself, his family
and his posterity to work until this advance is liquidated. Only a small
part of the weekly wages may be applied on the debt, and it is tacitly
understood that the debt may be increased after a time. The employer is
obliged to furnish medical assistance free in case of sickness, and to
advance the necessary fees for marriage, baptisms, confirmations and
burials. Furthermore, whenever overtaken by old age and no longer able
to work, the peon must be taken care of and furnished the necessities of
life.

Holidays, feast-days and saint-days are many, and the peon insists on
celebrating them all. Whether he understands much of the ritual and
doctrines of the Catholic Church or not, he understands full well the
meaning of a feast-day or “_fiesta_” for on that day he rests from his
labours. It would not be patriotic to work on a national holiday (and
they are numerous) so he abstains from labour on these occasions. Sundays
are rest days and it generally requires Monday to recuperate from the
effects of the _pulque_ or _tequila_ imbibed on that day. Then as each
person has a patron saint, he insists on celebrating the saint-days of
the master, mistress and each one of their family, of his own family, his
father, mother, his wife’s father and mother, and, last, but not least,
his own saint-day. Then each marriage, birth or death in the family gives
occasion for another off-day. After this list is gone through with there
remains only about two hundred working days for the average labourer.
The peon is a philosopher. Knowing that it was a curse that man should
earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, he tries to avoid as much of the
curse as possible.

The system of peonage or contract labour in the tropics is revolting and
often inhuman. The peon of the hot country is more independent, is fond
of social life and is not so industrious as his brother in the uplands.
Hence it becomes necessary to transport hundreds of labourers for work
on tropical plantations. These are secured through contract agents who
make this work a business. These agents pick them up over the country and
deliver them in hundred lots to the plantation managers. The contractor
advances from thirty to fifty dollars in silver to each labourer, and
this amount together with his own fee, is then charged up against the
peon who has contracted to work six months at perhaps fifty cents per
day in the same white metal. The plantation manager binds himself to
furnish rations, which usually consist of little more than _tortillas_
(unleavened corn cakes), beans and rice and a little meat for Sunday,
and a big palm hut will furnish accommodation for fifty or more men. But
little space is allowed each worker, and here he spends all his time when
not at work, for these contract men are, on many plantations, kept under
guard night and day by armed overseers. Many of these poor fellows come
from cities on the plateaus and soon fall a victim to tropical fevers.
Many are men who have been convicted of petty offences and sign a labour
contract in return for the payment of their fines by the contractor’s
agent and consequent release from confinement. All, however, are treated
alike on the plantations and are worked under the lash if necessary.
At the end of the six months, there are not many dollars due the poor
peon after deducting the price of the drinks and cigarettes which he has
purchased at the company’s store. After drawing his money he is likely to
make for the first town and drink or gamble it away. Then, not having
funds enough to get home, he is again at the mercy of the contract agent
or plantation owner.

The little brown man with back bent under a load has a countenance
which is as full of rest and patient philosophy as a modern financier’s
face is of care and wrinkles of anxiety. It is almost unfair to the
simple-minded, patient and docile peon of Mexico to speak of him as an
Indian for he is at once confused with the bloodthirsty redskin of the
north. He is a peaceful, if improvident, character, and is a child in
nature. He represents cheap labour and is one of the great attractions
that brings wealth to Mexico. After a day’s work he is content to share
his little adobe hut with the pigs and chickens, and can even find room
for the chance wayfarer. A family of three or four generations, and
numbering twenty people, will live in a hut that would not be considered
a fit habitation for a donkey in the north. One American writer who was
obliged to seek shelter in one of these huts gives an amusing account of
his experience which shows the harmony and good-fellowship that exists in
these households between the human and brute members. “I took an account
of the stock before I turned in, and found there were three dogs, eleven
cats, seven children, five men (not including five of us), three women
and a dozen chickens, all sleeping, or trying to sleep, in the same room,
under the one roof. And when I gave up sleeping, or trying to sleep, and
wandered out into the night, I stepped on the pigs and startled three
or four calves that had been sleeping under the porch.” So it is not
surprising that a village of fifty huts may contain a thousand souls.

A cigarette given in proper spirit every day will more effectually keep
his friendship than a present of a new suit of clothes. The latter will
not be remembered long while the former keeps the memory ever fresh.
They have been called the best and the poorest servants in the world.
A trusted servant is, however, usually an honest one. These wholly
satisfied people with whom our essentials are non-essentials rather
disprove the theory that modern civilization is necessary to true
happiness. Will the peon in the future wearing shoes, eating prepared
breakfast foods and sleeping in a bed, be any happier than he is now
barefooted and sleeping on a rush mat spread on an earthen floor?

A constantly increasing number of the peon class are moving to the
industrial centres. Slowly but surely the leaven is working, and the
opportunity for better wages is withdrawing the labourers from the
plantations. The railroads, the mines and the factories are paying much
higher wages than formerly prevailed, and find it difficult to secure
sufficient labourers. Only the selected men can fill these positions
for the average peon has not sufficient intelligence. He has a great
imitative faculty and can learn a task, but is not a success in an
employment that needs the exercise of reason and judgment. In many lines
of work more is accomplished at less expense by peons with the rudest
methods than by the use of the latest labour-saving machinery operated by
peon labourers. Education will no doubt work great changes in the lives
and habits of these people, but this will be a slow process in this land
of “to-morrow.” The present conditions are interesting to one who desires
to see how the rest of the world lives, and it will be a long time before
the peon class will change very materially.

There is one class of the Indian worker that deserves more extended
mention. This is that time-honoured institution called the cargador.
As you meet him at every place throughout Spanish North America it may
be interesting to the reader to learn something of his history and
his accomplishments. It is not necessary to institute a search for the
cargador. At the station you will be besieged by a small army of them
and the hotel entrance may be blocked by them. When travelling across
the country there is a never-ending succession of these picturesque
characters singly and in groups. Sometimes the entire family is along.
In such cases the boys, even down to little tots, carry a small package
on their backs and the wife and girls balance a basket on their heads.
Perhaps all their earthly belongings are contained in these various
bundles.

The cargador of Mexico and Central America claims an ancient and
honourable lineage. His occupation may be a humble one, but he can
trace his ancestry back to the followers of that haughty Aztec emperor,
Montezuma, or even to the still older race of the Toltecs. Not many
years ago almost everything in these countries was carried on the
backs of cargadors. Even now in the City of Mexico the cargador is an
indispensable factor in the carrying trade, though there are many express
and transfer companies engaged in that business. In the smaller places
of Mexico, in the mountain districts, and in Central America he holds
his old-time prestige and, with the cargo mule, monopolizes the carrying
business.

The strength of these little, brown-skinned cargadors is wonderful. Short
in stature and with thin legs and arms they look very insignificant. They
cannot lift a very heavy weight, but they can make their fairer-skinned
brother cry out in astonishment at the load they will carry when it is
once adjusted on their back. The average load for a cargo mule is one
hundred and fifty pounds. A cargador will start on a journey of two
hundred or more miles with such a load and will cover more miles in a
day over a rough mountain trail than a mule. At the station you will see
the little cargador pick up a heavy trunk that you can scarcely move and
start off with it at a faster pace than you care to walk. They always
move in a peculiar jog-trot, and can usually keep it up for a long time.
Up and down hill they go at an even pace, and will average about six
miles per hour. For short distances some cargadors will carry as great a
load as five hundred pounds, a seemingly impossible burden for so slender
a body.

The strength in the back is a matter of training extending over many
centuries. The Aztecs had no beasts of burden and the baggage of their
armies was always carried by cargadors. The Spanish conquerors were
obliged to adopt the same methods. Now, although there are mules and
burros in great numbers, the cargador is still the great burden bearer
and takes the place of the fast freight in the commerce of those sections
away from the railway lines. A traveller can take his mule and send his
baggage by a cargador, and the latter will reach the same stopping place
each night and sometimes ahead of the man on the mule. Many cargadors
carry their loads in a frame, supported by a broad leather band across
the forehead. When thus loaded they cannot turn their heads and they do
not seem to hear well, so that I have feared many times they would be
run over by the careless drivers. If there are several together they
trot along in the middle of the road in Indian file. If going on a long
journey they carry along enough tortillas for the entire trip, and must
always be given enough time to make these preparations. Several times a
day they will stop and make a fire, prepare their coffee, and eat their
tortillas and fruit if it can be obtained. At night they will sleep out
in the open air under a porch, if possible; if this shelter cannot be
had, then they will lay themselves down to rest under the brilliant
starlit canopy of this tropical clime.

[Illustration: A CARGADOR]

Many of the Indians are very swift runners. An instance is told in
Guatemala of a runner who carried a dispatch one hundred and five miles
into the interior and returned with an answer in thirty-six hours, making
the trip over mountains and a rough trail at an average speed of six
miles an hour, including stops and delays. It is said that fish caught
at Vera Cruz in the evening were served at the dinner table of Montezuma
the following day at his capital near the site of the present City of
Mexico, a distance of nearly three hundred miles by road. This was done
by a system of relay runners stationed about a mile apart, and they
made almost as fast time as the railway train to-day. Whether this is
true or not it is well known that the Aztecs had a wonderful system of
communication. The Spaniards were frequently astonished at the rapidity
with which the news of their movements was spread. These runners were
trained to great speed and endurance from their youth. Hundreds of them
were in constant use, and the Aztec emperors were kept in communication
with all parts of their empire. The Aztecs also used these runners as
spies and they thus took the place of scouting parties in present-day
campaigns.

So it is that these cargadors come and go. Each generation is like the
last. They are happy in that they want but little and that little is
easily supplied. They are contented because they live for to-day and
worry not for the morrow. They are satisfied to go through life as the
bearers of other people’s burdens.



CHAPTER XI

CUSTOMS AND CHARACTERISTICS

    “A land of lutes and witching tones,
    Of silver, onyx, opal stones;
    A lazy land, wherein all seems
    Enchanted into endless dreams;
    And never any need they know,
                            In Mexico,

    “Of life’s unquiet, swift advance,
    But slipped into such gracious trance,
    The restless world speeds on, unfelt,
    Unheeded, as by those who dwelt
    In golden ages, long ago,
                            In Mexico.”

                           —EVALEEN STEIN.


It is always interesting to know how the rest of the world lives, but an
experience with the customs and characteristics of a people impresses
travellers in widely different ways. Mexico is a land of strange
customs and strong characteristics which are deeply interesting to the
sympathetic tourist. “Oh! the charm of the semi-tropical Spanish life!”
says F. Hopkinson Smith. “The balconies above the patios trellised
with flowers; the swinging hammocks, the slow plash of the fountains;
the odour of jasmine wet with dew; the low thrum of guitar and the soft
moonlight half-revealing the muffled figures in lace and cloak. It is the
same old story, and yet it seems to me it is told in Spanish lands more
delightfully and with more romance, colour and mystery than elsewhere
on the globe.” On the other hand many matter-of-fact, unsympathetic
travellers see only the impractical ways, annoyances and inconvenient
customs like the writer who describes Mexico as “A land of lace and lice
and love, of flowers and fights and fleas; of babies and bull-fights
where pillow slips are open at both ends and where passengers get off the
front end of the street-cars; where keys often six inches in length are
fitted in keyholes turned upside down and invariably turned backward;
where the weather forgets to change from day to day and people sleep
under the same bed cover the year around.”

The Mexican has learned the secret of daily contentment. This is true
generally of the creole class as well as of the peon. The fact that some
seven thousand families practically own the entire landed estate of the
country does not inspire envy in the bosoms of the other millions. It
is a question whether the Anglo-Saxon and the Teuton can give these
people more than mere mechanical contrivances. Home does not necessarily
consist in an open fire, drawn curtains and frequent visits of curious
neighbours. Here homes are found where privacy is respected, family
affection is strong and there is respect for elders, love for parents
and kindly relations between masters and servants. Such a country is not
uncivilized and barbarous. There may be many odd and nonsensical customs
but a reason can generally be found for them. When studying the natives
it is enough to know that they are “an unselfish, patient, tender-hearted
people; a people maintaining in their every-day life an etiquette
phenomenal in a down-trodden race; offering instantly to the stranger
and wayfarer on the very threshold of their adobe huts a hospitality so
generous, accompanied by a courtesy so exquisite, that one stops at the
next doorway to re-enjoy the luxury.”

If one has absolutely nothing to do or suffers from the constitutional
ailment of having been born tired, Mexico is the place for him to rest.
Nor will he be lonesome in the occupation of loafing for on every bench
is a wayfarer for company. There is no Mexicanism more pronounced than
that of procrastination. Never do to-day what can be put off until
to-morrow is the revised motto. Nothing is so important that it cannot
wait until _mañana_ (to-morrow). An American, whom I met in Mexico,
and who had lived there a number of years characterized the country
as the land of _mañana_, _esperase_ and _poco tiempo_, or the land of
“to-morrow” and “wait-a-while.” Time is idled away. Nobody expects you
to be punctual and you are not censured should you fail to keep an
engagement. In fact, “you will probably be designated as a bore should
you insist on scrupulously and punctually keeping all your appointments,
for the man who always meets you on the dot is a nuisance in this
southern land. If you have an appointment with a Mexican at noon, go at
four o’clock in the afternoon and you will probably find him waiting
for you. Had you gone on time, he might have been absent. Never be in a
hurry, for constant hustle and bustle are the unpardonable sins. Respect
the native customs and doze or read for a couple of hours after lunch and
get busy as the sun nears the horizon.” The Mexican pays a compliment
to Anglo-Saxon push by adding _a la Inglesa_ to an appointment which is
intended to be kept punctually or “after the English fashion.” It is
impossible to educate the Mexican to American methods, so it behooves the
foreigner who goes to Mexico to make up his mind to do business after
the standards of that country. However lax or disappointing they may be
he must remember that in Mexico his methods are the strange ones and not
theirs, which are centuries old. In society calls lengthen to visits and
last hours and the hurried five-minute calls are happily unknown. The
longer the stay, the greater the compliment for it means that the visitor
is enjoying herself.

In a country where, until recently, the purchase of a foreign draft
was an all-day operation one cannot expect to do business in a very
strenuous way. The people have breathed the somnolent atmosphere so long
that they cannot be hurried. In fact, in some of the towns, the buzzards
that encircle the town seem to be the only living creatures actually
looking for something to do, for even the dogs would sneak down the alley
to avoid trouble. And yet in the face of all this the Yankee drummer
arrives in a town and scarcely takes time to brush the dust of travel
from his clothes before he starts out to visit his prospective customers.
He expects to round up his orders and take the train on the following
morning for the next town. After running against a few _mañanas_ from
day to day without an opportunity to show his goods he feels about as
disgusted as the enterprising American who, intending to revolutionize
agriculture, took down a large stock of the latest American farming
implements, but after a year’s effort had made no sale. The salesman who
will succeed is not the one who tries to introduce the hurry-up methods
of his own land, but the one who adapts himself to the country and does
not attempt to rush things. It will require days and perhaps weeks to
work a large city.

I met an Englishman in one of these large Spanish-American towns who was
a fair example of the successful European drummer. He had made this route
for years and was thoroughly conversant with the language and understood
the ways of the people. His methods were a good illustration of the
reason why English and German houses have for many decades controlled
trade in Spanish America. They keep their old men on the route as long as
possible, for a new man will not do much on his first trip. We stopped
at the same hotel and I had a good opportunity of observing his business
methods. For several days after arriving in the town he did nothing
but make social calls on his customers, take them to the theatre and
entertain them in a general way. During the next few days he invited
them to his rooms to inspect his stock which was large and varied. Then
he began to take orders. This method seems like a waste of time but
the orders secured were large and well repaid for the time taken. The
American drummer could not have controlled his impatience to be on the
move and would have made a failure. Many who drop into Mexico on a flying
trip, jump to the conclusion that the Mexican merchant is not so shrewd
a business man as the American. They are apt to mistake the deliberate
methods of the Latin race for poor methods. He consumes more time in
placing his order and there is less rush and bustle about his store, but
an experienced man will tell you that in the end he drives a pretty hard
bargain for he knows the market price of the goods and wants the best
discounts and longest credit.

Even the legal customs are peculiar and have proven decidedly
embarrassing to many Americans. A number of years ago, before railroads
were so numerous, the local officers always arrested the engineer and
conductor in the event that any one was killed, and they were thrust
into jail “incommunicado.” This means that you are to be incarcerated
seventy-two hours in solitary confinement without bail, at the end of
which time a judicial examination is given. An American whom I met there
told me of his “incommunicado” experience. He was arrested because he had
witnessed an affray and was held as witness, in solitary confinement, but
was released by the official after the judicious use of thirty dollars.
Their theory is that after a man has been kept in confinement for three
days, with only his own thoughts for company, he is much more likely to
tell the truth than if he had been in communication with his lawyers,
friends and the reporters all that time. And who can deny the truth of
their claim?

It is always best to keep out of the neighbourhood of trouble, or get out
of it as quickly as you can if it comes your way, especially if in the
remote districts, for offender and victim are both liable to arrest and
imprisonment. Most cases are put off from day to day until one party or
the other is weary of the proceeding. An instance which illustrates this
was related to me by a man who was arrested for misdemeanour. Knowing
the custom prevalent in the courts he hired an attorney to appear each
day for him. When the case was called the judge would ask “_Que quiere_”
(what do you want). After the case was explained he would dispose of it
with the simple word _mañana_. The other man appeared each day until
disgusted with the procedure and then dropped the matter. Lawyers charge
so much per word and are paid for each article as it is written. Mexican
notaries are very important personages. They take the place to a great
degree of the old-fashioned, family lawyer. They are regarded in much the
same light as the family confessor and are told the family secrets. To
their credit, be it said, that the notary is usually a man worthy of the
confidence placed in him.

The ceremonial and punctilious politeness of the Mexican, be he Don or
peon, is interesting and oftentimes amusing. The Spaniard on meeting a
friend on the street will stop and inquire one by one after the health
of his wife, each of his children and the various other members of his
household and then in turn will submit to the same interrogations from
his friend. After witnessing such a scene between two men in silk hats
you can turn down a side street and see a meeting between a poor Indian
in rags and an old withered woman selling lottery tickets. Removing his
tattered _sombrero_ he bows gravely, and, in the softest of Spanish,
says, “_A los pies de usted, señora_” (at your feet, lady). This is
done with a grace and ease of manner worthy of any station in life; and
her answer “My hands are for your kisses, señor,” is said in the same
gracious way worthy of a duchess. Should you ask the man for his name he
would be sure to add “_Su criado de usted_” (your servant).

The Mexicans are very proud and exclusive, and suspicious of the
newcomer. Seldom indeed is it that an American gains the _entree_ into
their homes but, if he succeeds, they will be found among the most
charming hosts in the world. This reserve is probably very natural. The
Mexican has been educated in the strict Catholic schools and is a victim
of custom old as his country, while the American coming to Mexico is a
mercenary, ambitious person engaged in commercial strife and in the race
for the almighty dollar. Then, the American is of a more matter-of-fact
temperament and does not appreciate the impulsive nature of the Mexican.
Money does not appeal to him except for the pleasure of spending it, and
no person is more lavish in the expenditure of money, if he has it, than
a Mexican gentleman.

The Mexican is a home lover and yet there is no word in the Spanish
language that corresponds to our word for home. _Casa_, or house, is
the nearest to it and the Mexican always speaks of his house when he
means his home. The exaggerated conventionalities are often carried to
the verge of the absurd. Perhaps there may be as much truth in their
expressions as in the polite but oftentimes meaningless civilities of
our own land. An American, on being introduced to a stranger, will feel
that he has satisfied the etiquette of the occasion by simply expressing
his pleasure in the acquaintance. The Mexican goes a step further and
presents the newly-made acquaintance with his house.

“_Su casa es numero ——_,” he says with a graceful bow giving the street
and number of his own house, which literally means “your house is number
——,” and usually adds, “It is entirely at your disposal; make yourself
at home.” It is simply a polite way of saying “I am glad to meet you.”
Perhaps five minutes later the incident is forgotten by the giver. One
writer has said that he met fourteen men at a club in Mexico and was
presented with thirteen houses. The fourteenth man was unmarried and not
a householder. Occasionally some one not familiar with the emptiness of
the phrase has presumed on its literal interpretation and called at one
of the houses presented to him but has been turned away without the least
sign of recognition.

If one expresses admiration for some article worn by another, he is
quickly informed that the article is “at his disposal.” If you happen
upon a Mexican at the dining hour, he will probably offer you his dinner.
If you decline it, the occasion requires that you should do so with
polite wishes for his digestion. These forms of hospitality are derived
from Spanish ancestors and were by them probably copied from the Moors,
after the open hand and open tent customs of the sons of the desert who
meant these expressions literally. It has an empty meaning now, for
nothing is left but the words. With all this seeming inconsistency and
insincerity, the Mexicans are exceedingly kind hearted and will willingly
do favours if approached in the right way; no service is too great
towards those for whom they have formed an attachment. They will often
accompany the departing guest for a long distance over hard roads as a
mark of courtesy and friendship.

We are all victims of habit more or less. But, whereas the American
welcomes innovations and adapts his habits to them, or forms new ones,
the Mexican does not want any change from the customs of his ancestors.
The expression “_no es costumbre_,” meaning it is not the custom, is a
final and decisive answer that does not admit of argument. You might as
well try to change the colour of the native as his habits. Americans
who keep Mexican servants are for ever running contrary to the customs
or prejudices of their help. For instance an American woman[2] who
lived here a number of years relates the trouble she had to induce her
servant to use a cook stove which she had imported from the United
States. She refused because “it would give her disease of the liver.” In
all seriousness she believed that such would be the result and nothing
could induce her to have anything to do with the new-fangled thing. A
peripatetic merchant came around selling eggs at six for a real. He
refused to sell two dozen for four reals because “_no es costumbre_,” as
eggs are always sold at six for a real, an incontrovertible argument.

[Illustration: MAKING _TORTILLAS_]

A household will have difficulty in getting along with only one servant
for it is customary to employ three or four in a small family and from
twenty to forty in a large house. Each servant will do his or her own
particular work cheerfully and will move about so lightly and airily that
you hardly know any one is around. However, ask the man _mozo_ to scrub
the floor, or the cook to make the beds, and you will see a regretful
look of the eye and be met with the ready answer, “_no es costumbre_.”
Marketing is a right jealously guarded too, for _es costumbre_ (it is the
custom) and one of the perquisites of the man servant, since he receives
a small fee from each person of whom purchases are made. The Indian
servants are not accustomed to beds and want nothing but a mat to sleep
upon. The traveller can see these in the halls at the hotel if he comes
in a little late. Here these dusky natives sleep more soundly than do
most Americans on the most luxurious of beds. An American lady in Oaxaca
took pity on her girl servant and bought a comfortable iron bed for her
to occupy. She then explained to her how the bed was used. Several days
later she asked the servant how she liked her bed. The girl said it was
fine—to lay her clothes on. The American woman finally gave up trying
to change the habits of her maid. Servants become very devoted to their
employers and their attachment is sometimes embarrassing. In case of a
death in the family they immediately don black and mourn as though the
lost one was a near relative of their own.

The economy of housekeeping and especially of the kitchen, even among
the rich, is remarkable. The Indian or _Mestiza_ women rule here and
the customs of a thousand years ago are the customs of to-day. The
_tortillas_, cakes made of maize, are the bread of the country. For
centuries these dusky women of Mexico have ground the corn for their
daily bread between two stones, the grains having first been soaked for
several hours in a solution of lime water. This smoothed, dished-out
stone is called a _metate_, an Aztec word, and the women work for hours
in beating the softened grains to a fine paste. Small pieces of the dough
are then worked between the hands, tossed and patted, and flattened out
until very thin. After this they are thrown upon a flat, iron griddle
over a charcoal fire. They are never allowed to brown and are without
salt or seasoning of any kind. After becoming used to them they prove
very palatable and many prefer them to the ordinary corn bread.

_Frijoles_, or beans, and generally black ones, are also invariably
served and are eaten twice every day without intermission on the table of
rich or poor. The _chili_, a pretty hot sort of pepper, is a favourite
dish that had better be avoided by the Americans, for the ability to
relish it can only be approached by degrees. _Tamales_ are relished by
the Mexican and can be found for sale in almost any of the markets. I
never see _tamales_ without thinking of the description given of them by
a big Texan in his bread dialect, in answer to a question from me as the
train was speeding across the mesquit prairies near San Antonio. “You
take cawn meal, some hawt (heart), livah and a little peppah and you make
a tamahle, suh.”

The use of sacred names or names of great personages among these people
is often astonishing. The names of Porfirio Diaz, Juarez and Hidalgo are
as numerous as the George Washingtons among the negroes of the south.
However, when the American stumbles upon a Pius Fifth, St. John the
Evangelist or even Jesus, in a dirty-face brown man clothed in rags, it
seems a strange incongruity. Talk with this humble bearer of a sacred
name or offer him a gratuity, and, as you depart, he will say, “_Vaya
usted con Dios_” (go, and God be with you), in such a simple and benign
manner that you almost feel as though a benediction were following you.

We are told by the early writers that the Aztecs had few stores, but
that nearly all the trading was done in the markets which were found in
every city, or by the great merchant princes who traversed the country
with their large army of burden-bearers and retainers, compelling
trade as well as seeking it. It is interesting to note the description
of the market in the capital in the time of Cortez written by Bernal
Diaz, one of his followers, and the historian of his expedition. He
expresses his astonishment at the great crowds of people, the regularity
which prevailed and the vast quantities of merchandise on display.
“The articles consisted of gold, silver, jewels, feathers, mantles,
chocolate, skins dressed and undressed, sandals, and great numbers of
male and female slaves, some of whom were fastened by the neck, in
collars, to long poles. The meat market was stocked with fowls, game and
dogs. Vegetables, fruits, articles of food ready dressed, salt, bread,
honey and sweet pastry made in various ways, were also sold here.
Other places in the square were appointed to the sale of earthen ware,
wooden household furniture such as tables and benches, firewood, pipes,
sweet canes filled with tobacco mixed with liquid amber, copper axes
and working tools, and wooden vessels highly painted. Numbers of women
sold fish and little loaves made of a certain mud which they find in the
lakes, and which resembles cheese. The entire square was enclosed in
piazzas under which great quantities of grain were stored and where were
also shops for various kinds of goods.”

[Illustration: A MEXICAN MARKET]

This description would answer very well to-day except as to slaves and
feathers. It is to be regretted that the beautiful feather work of that
race is a lost art. The market of the capital is located but a short
distance from the plaza and is an excellent place to study life. The
outer portion is occupied by small shops covered with protecting piazzas
but the central part is wholly occupied by the Indian merchants. During
the morning hours it is so closely packed that it is almost impossible
to force one’s way through the dense throng of humanity. The native,
squatted on the ground on a rush mat, with another mat suspended over him
for protection from the fierce sun, and his stock in trade spread before
him, is a picture worth studying. Many tribes are represented, as their
dress indicates, as well as the products of many different zones from the
cocoanut of the hot lands to the inferior pears of the cold zone. The
pottery from Guadalajara can be distinguished from that of Guadalupe or
Aguas Calientes by its colour and design. Each piece might tell a history
of an art passed down from father to son for countless generations, for
the son usually follows the occupation of his father. They never think
of changing method of manufacture or design. It is quite probable that
the pottery seen in the market to-day is the same as that viewed by
Cortez. Many of the vessels are curious and fantastic in form but always
ornamental in decoration. When one considers that much of this pottery
is made with no tools but pieces of broken glass and a horsehair, the
result is a marvel. With the hair they trim the top and with the glass
smooth off the rough places. The pottery market is an important one, for
articles used in the kitchen and on the tables of the poorer classes are
exclusively of this ware. For a small sum an entire kitchen outfit can be
purchased.

There are few Jewish merchants in Mexico for the Mexican is even more
persuasive in his mode of selling and his prices are fully as elastic.
In purchasing native articles on different occasions I tried several
dealers in order to discover whether they had a uniform bottom price.
They would invariably ask at least twice as much as they were willing
to accept. I found that if one would only show surprise at the price
asked, the question “What will you give” would immediately follow. They
were perfectly willing to get as much from you as possible but the
lowest price quoted by the various dealers was almost identical. Some
persons have facetiously characterized Mexico as the land of “_no hay_”
(pronounced eye) because it is such a common answer in marketing and
means “there is none.” In fact, the answer will always be “_no hay_” or
“_si, hay_” (yes, I have).

[Illustration: CANDY BOY AND GIRL]

There are many quaint and curious characters that one will find around
the market place. The candy man, or, boy, moves around with noiseless
tread crying his wares in a song which never varies any more than his
stock, which is always the same and arranged in exactly the same way. His
_dulces_, however, have merit and it is not necessary to change anything
already good. The _evangelista_, or letter writer, is here with a jug
of ink and pen on a little table ready to write a business letter, or
a _billet doux_ flaming with passion and extravagant phrases for the
unlettered lover. On the corners of the street may be seen the cobblers
ready to cut and fit sandals “while you wait.” His whole stock in trade
consists of a pile of scraps of sole leather and some leather thongs,
while his only tool is a curved, sharp knife.

In and out of the crowd the faithful _aguador_, or water-carrier, winds
his way bringing the refreshing water to thirsty mortals. He is not only
a very necessary person in this land of little rain, but is a person of
importance and knows the inner life of the household of his customers.
His costume and water vessels vary in the different cities but he is the
same honest character who ingeniously carries the love messages from
the “bear” to his inamorata. After a morning of hard work his faithful
wife brings his dinner of _tortillas_ and _frijoles_ to the fountain or
well, and there he sits and eats his humble meal while she watches her
lord and master until he has finished. Later in the day, tiring of his
work or feeling the burden of prosperity as his stock of copper coins
increases, he resorts to the pulque-shop and there shows his contempt for
the beverage he has been distributing by imbibing large quantities of
his favourite liquor.

Perhaps in no way is the general superstition and ignorance of the Indian
shown to better advantage than in their ideas of disease and medicine.
The _curandera_, usually a woman, admits having great knowledge of
anatomy and chemistry, and has a pharmacopœia all her own. The accounts
given here are vouched for by a writer in _Modern Mexico_ who is a native
of the country, understands these people and is entitled to belief.
_Aire_ (air), when introduced into the system through blows or unusually
forcible sneezing, causes swellings, sore eyes and nervous tremblings. It
is treated with plasters and bandages and lotions. When the alimentary
canal is obstructed it is _empacho_, which means that undigested food
has adhered to the stomach or the food has formed into balls and marbles
that rattle around inside the stomach or intestines. This disease demands
immediate and heroic treatment, and a drop of quicksilver swallowed at a
gulp is prescribed and will generally dislodge it or kill the patient.
_Tiricia_ is indicated by homesickness, melancholia or insomnia, and
is caused by a subtle vapour produced by the action of the moon on the
dew and is absorbed through the pores. Change of climate, good company
and tonics are a sensible prescription. _Mal de ojo_, or the evil eye,
causes the sufferer to fade away or die of inanition, and is a common
disease of children. Bright attractive objects are hung up to draw away
the attention of the “evil eye.” If a child is slow in talking, a diet
of boiled swallows is prescribed. One writer positively asserts that
blue and red beads ground fine and mixed in equal portions have been
given to persons suffering with paralysis, and the sufferers survived the
treatment. The _curandera_ is also called upon to mix love potions and
poisons that will cause delirium or even insanity and death.

Another instance is told in the same periodical of a woman who was
very sick with a disease from the effects of which she was practically
helpless. A _curandera_ had told the husband to get a white turkey and
tie it in the house and his wife would get well. When the turkey had
failed to cure her an old man _curandero_ was procured, who promised to
make her well if supplied with plenty of _aguardiente_ (brandy). Four
dollars worth was supplied him, and four dollars will buy a great deal
of poor brandy in Mexico. The old man laid himself down on the ground,
after filling himself up with the fire-water, pounded his head and kept
repeating weird incantations which could be heard a long distance away.
This was continued for several days until the supply of spirits gave out.
In the meantime the patient had improved somewhat and could use her arms
and body as far as the waist. The shrewd old man shrugged his shoulders
and said, “I have cured her as far as I can. You will have to get a
_curandera_ to complete the cure.” The poor woman soon died, because, as
the husband declared, she had been bewitched.



CHAPTER XII

HOLIDAYS AND HOLY-DAYS


It is impossible to understand Mexico or the Mexicans without knowing
something of their feasts and festivals which play such a large part in
the life of these people. In fact there is very little of the social
life in Mexico that is not the outgrowth of or intimately connected with
the holy-days of the Church. The saint’s day of each member, that is the
day in the church calendar devoted to the saint after whom the person is
named, takes the place of the birthday for gifts and family celebrations.
The _fiestas_, or feast-days, of the church are very numerous and are
pretty well observed, although business is not entirely suspended.
The church holidays are either different from those in other Catholic
countries or are observed in a truly national way in Mexico.

To one who enjoys mixing with the common people and learning their
customs, habits and ways of thinking, in other words, endeavouring to
get into their real, inner life, it is a perpetual delight to visit
the cities and villages on the _fiesta_ occasions and mingle with the
people in their celebration. This association with a free-hearted,
pleasure-loving people on their gala days unconsciously broadens the
views of a traveller in a new country, and develops a sympathy which can
be awakened in no other way. The crowds jostle each other good naturedly
and will treat the stranger with respect. Too many visitors to this
country try to judge everything from the American standard and find
little to commend. They should remember that Mexico is Oriental rather
than Anglo-Saxon, and that the Spanish-Moorish civilization is here
blended with the Aztec. Such a civilization cannot be without merit and
it must have some inherent good qualities. If one wants to understand a
country rightly, he must first try to enter into the lives of the people
and then look at life from their point of view.

It would be impossible within the limits prescribed to describe all the
celebrations in honour of the hundreds of saints and the numerous secular
holidays. A description of a few of these occasions, most generally
observed, will give the reader a good idea of the nature of all.

Christmas celebrations in Mexico are very much different from those
in the United States. There is no merry jingle of the sleigh bells in
this land of Christmas sunshine and skies as blue as those of Naples;
and there are no plans dependent upon whether the day may chance to be
white or green. The few lofty volcanic peaks, on which alone snow is
ever seen, would not tempt the most enthusiastic tobogganist. As there
are no chimneys, the children need not sit up at night until sleep
overtakes them, to see Santa Claus descend with his heavy pack filled
with the things that boys and girls like. Even the time honoured custom
of hanging up stockings is unknown to Mexican children. Perhaps they
enjoy themselves quite as much after their own fashion as we do after
ours. They have good things to eat, and the beautiful flowers are so
cheap that no matter how humble the Mexican home may be, it affords a few
sprays of the scarlet _Noche Bueno_, the beautiful Christmas plant. Their
celebrations are long continued for they begin nine days before Christmas
and last until the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January; and this
entire time is one long delightful jubilee.

These celebrations, which begin on the sixteenth of December and continue
until the twenty-fifth, are called _posadas_. The word in Spanish means
an “inn,” or abiding place, and while the celebration, in its origin,
was distinctly religious, it is now only semi-religious, and has become
an extremely gay and sociable occasion. The _posadas_ are limited to the
cities but, in those places, the poorest as well as the richest families
hold them and they are a celebration peculiar to this country.

The origin of the _posada_ is in the gospel narrative of the Nativity.
Because Cæsar had issued the decree that all the world should be taxed,
Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem to be enrolled. Mary made the journey
mounted upon an ass which Joseph led. As the shadows of the night
descended, they were obliged to ask for shelter, and it is no wonder that
the request was not always granted readily and willingly, but was many
times refused during the trip that is supposed to have taken nine days.

On the last day, having arrived at Bethlehem, and because the city was
so full of people, they wandered about for a long time without finding
admittance to either private house or inn. At last, being tired and
weary, and because no room could be secured, they took refuge in a stable
where Christ was born. Therefore, it is, that in order to celebrate this
journey fully, the _posadas_ begin with the journey at Nazareth. Each
year a house is chosen in a family circle, or among a group of friends,
and at that house for nine consecutive nights the festival is held. Or,
sometimes, the celebration will be held at different houses during that
period.

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the difficulties encountered
on the way, are represented by the first part of the celebration. At the
appointed hour the guests assemble at the house which has been chosen for
the celebration on that particular night. Each person present, members
of the family, guests and servants, is furnished with a lighted candle,
and two and two, they march around the halls and through the corridors
several times chanting the solemn “Litany of Loretto.” As each invocation
is ended the audience chant “_ora pro nobis_” (“pray for us”). At the
head of the procession the figures of Joseph and Mary made of clay or
wax, dressed in gay, incongruously-coloured satins are borne either in
the hands or lying in a basket. Sometimes these figures are dressed
in brilliant costumes of lace with tinselled borderings. At each door
the procession pauses and knocks and begs admittance, but no answer or
invitation to enter is given. When the litany is finished some of the
party enter a room while the rest with the figures of Joseph and Mary
remain outside and sing a chant something like the following:—

    “In Heaven’s Name,
    I beg for shelter;
    My wife to-night,
    Can go no further.”

The reply to this is:—

    “No inn is this,
    Begone from hence;
    Ye may be thieves,
    I trust ye not.”

At last, however, the door is opened and all go in and Joseph and Mary
have secured shelter for the night. The pilgrims are placed on an
improvised altar and some prayers are recited, though the religious
exercises are generally hurried through in the quickest manner possible.
Sometimes, to make the scene more realistic, a burro is introduced in the
procession to represent the faithful animal that carried the holy family
in their wanderings. Frequently, on the last night, in a room, or on the
roof, a kind of stable is arranged in which the figures of Joseph and
Mary are placed with the utmost reverence. On this night a figure of the
infant Jesus is also carried. After the litany the party proceed to have
a general good time which is kept up until a late hour. Occasionally, in
the homes of the wealthy, these entertainments are on a very elaborate
scale and costly souvenirs are presented to each guest. Everywhere in
the cities is heard the litany of the _posada_, for it is celebrated
almost universally. It is sung in hundreds and thousands of homes and
the processions wind in and out of the rooms and round the improvised
shrines. The patios are hung with venetian lights, and fireworks blaze
skyward in every direction. In the City of Mexico the _posadas_ are most
elaborate among the official and wealthy families, and the Zocalo plaza
is a bewitching place with its many lights and the multitudes of children
who gather here for celebration. The clergy are now censuring the
“_posadas_” because of the irreverent spirit in which they are celebrated.

In Mexico the _piñate_ takes the place of the Christmas tree. It is an
oval shaped, earthen jar, handsomely decorated with tinsel and streamers
of tissue paper, made up to represent curious figures. They represent
clowns, ballet girls, monkeys, roosters, various grotesque animals, and
even children almost life sized. The jars are crammed full of sweets,
rattles, whistles and crackers. The breaking of the _piñate_ follows the
litany and is an exciting event, which generally occurs in the patio.
It is suspended from the ceiling and then each person desiring to take
part is blindfolded in turn, and, armed with a pole, proceeds to strike
the swinging _piñate_. Three trials are permitted. Sometimes many are
blindfolded before a successful blow brings the sweets and bon-bons
rattling to the floor. Then there is a race and a scramble for the
dainties. Thousands of these _piñates_ are broken each Christmas season
and the vendors of them perambulating the streets with a pole across the
shoulders on which are suspended the grotesque figures, add life and zest
to the season. Then to see a well dressed, sedate-looking, business man
hurrying home with a grotesque tissue-paper creation of gorgeous hues
with tinselled decorations and gay streamers under his arms is a curious
but not uncommon sight.

[Illustration: BURNING AN EFFIGY OF JUDAS AT EASTER-TIME]

Holy week, as the week preceding Easter is called, is celebrated in
an elaborate and truly original way. The religious processions which
formerly attended these celebrations are now prohibited by law. During
these few days the bells, organs and choirs are silent, the stores are
closed and there is a general holiday. As an evidence that vanity is
not entirely absent, on Holy Thursday it is customary for men and women
to turn out in good clothes and many of the ladies appear in handsome
and elaborate gowns. Then on Good Friday everything is changed and the
whole country mourns. Sombre black takes the place of the more brilliant
raiment of the preceding day; downcast eyes and solemn faces succeed the
smiles and coquettish glances of yesterday.

On Saturday occurs the most grotesque and curious of all the festivals
of the Church. It is the day on which final disposition is made of that
arch-traitor Judas Iscariot, and the day is devoted to his humiliation
and death. Effigies of the traitor are hung over the streets everywhere
and all day long men parade the streets with figures of the betrayer of
Christ upon poles. These effigies range in size from miniature figures to
those of gigantic proportions. Each figure is made of _papier maché_, is
filled with explosives and has a fuse which is generally the moustache.
Hundreds of the images are sold to the children in each city who explode
them with great glee. Judas is represented with folded hands, arms
akimbo, with legs in running posture and in every conceivable attitude.
Some of them bear suggestive mottoes such as “I am a scion of the Devil”
and “Let me give up the Ghost.” Each person must destroy a Judas.

At ten o’clock as the great bells of the cathedral in the City of Mexico
sound and other bells follow, the fuses to these effigies are lighted.
The great Judases strung across the streets or tied to balconies are
exploded amid great rejoicing. Coins representing the thirty pieces of
silver paid to Judas are sometimes thrown to the crowd from the windows
of wealthy residents or clubs. Every one grows wild and the little folks
become almost beside themselves with excitement. The bells in the towers
ring out their rejoicings and a peculiar apparatus gives out a sound
which represents the breaking of the bones of the thieves on the cross.
The crowds also have innumerable rattles which make a hideous, grating
sound intended to represent the same incident. The noise of the bells,
the explosion of the fire-crackers, and the shouts of the multitude form
a strange, exciting, ludicrous scene never to be forgotten. When the last
Judas has been demolished, the excitement subsides and a good-natured
frolic follows.

The national holidays, of which there are many, are greatly overshadowed
by those pertaining to the Church, and none of them are so universally
observed. Not all the feasts and festivals of Mexico are of Romish
origin. Some of them are founded upon the remains of Aztec idolatry, for
the priests of the early days with a wise foresight adopted the same
day for feast-days in many instances. Though these Indians probably
could not tell why, yet they have a great reverence for the saints whom
they worship after their own fashion. They are delighted to have more
occasions for decorating themselves and their churches with flowers,
marching in processions, dancing and letting off rockets.

The _Fiesta de las Flores_, or Feast of the Poppies, celebrated in
April, is held on the Viga Canal and was originally a day devoted to
the worship of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the god of nature with them.
On that day the bloody, sacrificial rites were suspended and all joined
in this festival of flowers. This _fiesta_ has lost all its religious
significance but it is said to be celebrated much the same as in Aztec
times. All day long the canal is filled with boats large and small manned
by the dusky natives. Indian women and nut-brown maids with wreaths of
poppies on their heads and garlands of the same around their necks,
sing the songs of the people and dance as they move along. On the shore
and in the boats the native bands play, and the broad highway along the
banks of the Viga is crowded with long lines of carriages filled with
the aristocracy of the Capital who have come out to witness this unique
celebration.

Mexico, like each good Mexican Catholic, has a patron saint who presides
over her destinies. This saint has not only been adopted by the
government in times past, but has been proclaimed as the guardian of
Mexico by the Holy See, and only a few years ago was duly crowned as the
Virgin of Guadalupe in ceremonies made memorable by the large number of
church dignitaries present. Her miraculous appearance came at an apropos
time and greatly assisted in attracting the natives to the new worship.

The Aztecs had long worshipped a deity called Tonantzin, “Mother of
Gods,” who was supposed to reside on the Hill of Tepeyacac, now called
Guadalupe. Tradition says that a devout Indian named Juan Diego, who
resided in the village of Tolpetlac, and who recently had been converted
to Christianity, was passing by this way on the morning of the 9th day
of December, 1531, on his way to early mass. When at the base of this
hill there suddenly burst upon his ears a melody of sweet music, as
of a chorus of birds singing together in harmony. Surprised at this
unusual music he looked up and lo, just above him, rested a cloud more
brilliant than a rainbow and in the centre of the cloud stood a lady.
Thoroughly frightened he fell to his knees, but was aroused by a voice
which proceeded from the cloud and called “Juan.” He looked up and the
lady told him to go to the Bishop of Mexico, and tell him that she wanted
a church built on this hill in her honour. He did so, but the Bishop
was loth to believe this wonderful tale from a poor, ignorant Indian.
A second and yet a third time did the same vision appear to the pious
Juan and make the same request. On this last occasion Juan had passed
on the opposite side of the hill to avoid the woman but to no avail.
Upon the report of the third vision the Bishop told Juan to ask for some
unmistakable sign. The lady appeared again on the following morning and
Juan told her of the Bishop’s request. She told him to go up the hill and
gather flowers from the barren hillside where they had never been known
to grow. As soon as he reached there many beautiful flowers appeared in
a miraculous manner, which Juan gathered up in his tilma, or blanket,
and took to the Bishop. When he had emptied his tilma the image of the
Virgin was found on the blanket in most brilliant colours.

The Bishop reverently took the tilma and accepted it as an unmistakable
token. He at once began the erection of a chapel where it had been
commanded. As soon as the chapel was completed, he hung the tilma on
the high altar where it has remained ever since except for a few short
periods. It can now be seen under a glass upon the payment of a small
fee. Some persons say that upon examination it proves to be only a cheap
daub upon coarse, cotton material; others say that it was taken out a few
years ago and examined and they could not find any trace of paint, but
that the colours seemed to stay there in some miraculous way. Not being
permitted to make a personal examination, I leave the reader to make his
choice as inclination directs.

From the time of its origin this legend has had a wonderful and deep
influence upon the Indians. It is even so to-day. Our Lady of Guadalupe
is looked upon by them as their patron and protector. Coming so soon
after the conquest and appearing on a hill already sacred to that race,
it led thousands to the new religion. The main church is very large and
imposing with a nave two hundred feet long and one hundred and twenty-two
feet wide, and cost over two million dollars in gold. The altar is
magnificent and it has a solid silver railing weighing several tons
around the chancel. There is another chapel connected with the cathedral
church. Back of these is the miraculous spring which burst forth from the
very spot on which the Virgin stood at her last appearance. Half way up
the hill are some stone sails erected by a grateful mariner, and on the
top of the hill is another chapel. Back of this is a cemetery in which
Santa Anna and other noted persons are buried. A beautiful view of the
capital and the Valley of Mexico is obtained from the top of the hill
which well repays for the exertion in climbing.

    “From Heaven she descended,
    Triumphant and glorious,
    To favour us—
    La-Guadalupana.”

Thus sing the Indians on the 12th of December of each year. This is the
day that has been appointed for the great “_fiesta_” in honour of the
Virgin who appeared to Juan Diego. All others fade into insignificance
and are completely overshadowed by the annual celebrations in honour of
Our Lady of Guadalupe. Any one who happens to be in the City of Mexico
on this date, or a few days prior thereto, should not fail to take the
street car for Guadalupe, a suburban town about three miles to the
eastward. The route follows an ancient Aztec causeway which was old when
Cortez invaded this valley. To the merry hum of the trolley, which seems
strangely out of place on this historic highway, the traveller is carried
along. One does not need to be told that something out of the ordinary
is about to take place. The streets of the capital and all the roads
leading to Guadalupe are alive with people on their way to this most
sacred shrine. It is said that many of these Indians tramp hundreds of
miles to be present on these occasions, taking their food with them and
sleeping out in the open air. Tens of thousands of Indians are present at
each annual celebration and the number is said in some years to equal a
hundred thousand souls and more.

[Illustration: CANDLE BOOTHS IN GUADALUPE]

In Guadalupe the streets and plazas around the famous church are crowded
with booths for the sale of native wares, candles, images of the Virgin
and for the carrying-on of many kinds of gambling. There are many booths
in which refreshments are served by women in native costumes. The viands
include cold chicken, eggs, tamales, _frijoles_ (beans), cakes and
sweets. For beverages you can take your choice between beer and pulque. A
motley assemblage is present. Indians from the hot lands mingle with the
purer types of the Aztec from the mountains and table lands. The swarms
of Indians fairly crowd the plaza and streets, some eating and drinking,
some sleeping, some making love and some whiling away the time with cards
or other gambling devices. All these people, of course, belong to the
peon class. Mingled with the natives here and there are all types of
Mexicans, and a number of Americans drawn here by curiosity add variety
to the occasion. The lame, the blind and the halt are there too; for alms
are plentiful and Our Lady possesses wondrous powers of healing. Many
testimonials to this fact are seen in the little chapel which shelters
the miraculous spring. Hundreds and thousands carry away with them a
bottle of these healing waters.

A feeling of reverence pervades the sanctuary. The kneeling figures with
bodies motionless and their eyes and faces fixed upon the high altar,
crowd the floor until it is impossible to move. One can not help being
impressed by this feeling of reverence pervading the church and chapels.
Outside it is different; for here the throng moves around visiting the
booths, eating, drinking and gambling. Indian minstrels play their
weird airs. Beggars cry out to give them something “_por el amor del
Dios_” (“for the love of God”). At night the plaza and streets are one
indistinguishable mass of dark, reclining and slumbering figures wrapped
in their blankets and shawls. The elements are kind in December for it is
the dry season.

The next day after one of these celebrations I left the capital for
Puebla. For many miles we kept passing Indians singly, in groups, and
whole families together homeward bound. They followed well-worn paths
which were plainly visible. The trails were narrow and all marched
along single file in regular Indian fashion. They would stop and look
at our train as it noisily passed by. Perhaps they were happy in their
simple way in the thought that for one year more, at least, Our Lady of
Guadalupe would watch over and protect them, her humble worshippers.

[Illustration: BEGGARS OF THE CITY OF MEXICO]



CHAPTER XIII

A TRANSPLANTED SPORT


The bull-fight as an amusement is the exclusive property of the Spaniard.
It originated in Spain and has never spread beyond the limits of Spanish
conquest. Perhaps it is this very exclusiveness that causes them to cling
to it so tenaciously, though legislatures and governments have made
vigorous efforts to abolish the brutal spectacles. It is, according to a
native writer, a proof of the superiority of the Spaniard, because “the
Spanish men are as much more brave than other men, as the Spanish bull is
more savage and valiant than all other bulls.” Rather, it seems to me to
be a survivor of the ancient gladiatorial contests, or fights between man
and beast in the great amphitheatres of Rome.

I had never before, even when standing within the historic walls of the
Colosseum, been able to picture in my own mind the scene of the arena
crowded with combatants while the expectant multitude filled the seats
in tier upon tier, until I found myself within the great bull-ring of
Madrid. There was the arena, and round about were the eager throng, a
crowd of fourteen thousand human beings who impatiently and anxiously
awaited the sound of the bugle which would announce the opening of the
spectacle of blood and brute torture. Then it was possible to understand
how, in an earlier and more brutal age, the Roman populace gloated over
the combats where the death of some of the participants was as much
fore-doomed as the fate of the bull who enters the ring to-day with a
defiant toss of his horns.

If popularity is to be judged by the amount of patronage, then the
bull-fight is the most popular amusement in Mexico to-day. The national
life is permeated with the sport. The Sunday bull-fight is the topic of
conversation in the capital for the following week. Even the children
indulge in imitations of this favourite game in their childish way. It
is only on Sundays and feast days that the _corrida de toros_ occurs.
Six days shalt thou do nothing and on the seventh go to the bull-fight,
runs an old Madrid saying. They probably go on the theory that a good
entertainment is better on that day than any other. It is useless to
argue with a Spaniard or Spanish-American about the brutality or
inhumanity of these spectacles as they will immediately remind us of the
prize-fights within our own borders which frequently result in death.
This is a gentle hint that we should clean our own Augean stables before
telling our neighbours what they should not do. Perhaps it is a rebuke
that is not entirely out of place.

The Plaza de Toros is always a great, circular building of stone or wood
with little pretence or ornament. It is built for the bull-fight and for
no other purpose. The interior is an immense amphitheatre, with seats in
tiers rising to the top where the private boxes are located. These alone
have a roof, as all the rest of the structure is open to the sky. Half
the seats are exposed to the bright sun and the other half are in shadow.
The seats on the _sol_, or sunny side, generally cost only about half
as much as those in the _sombra_, or shady part. The fights are usually
advertised “if the time and weather permits.” The ring itself is an arena
about a hundred feet in diameter, encircled by a high board fence with
a lower barrier on the inside, which serves as a means of escape for a
_torero_ who is too closely pursued by the irate bull. Sometimes a bull
will leap over this first barrier and then an exciting race follows.

An American will not soon forget the first sight of the full
amphitheatre. The scene is an exciting one and there is a tension of
the nerves in anticipation of what is to come. The bands play and, if
there is any delay, the thousands of impatient spectators will shout and
yell themselves hoarse. There is usually a cheer when the president for
the occasion and his companions take their seats. At length the gates
opposite the president are opened and a gaily caparisoned horseman,
called the _alguacil_, appears. He asks permission to kill the bulls.
This being granted, the president tosses him the key to the bull-pen,
which he catches in his hat. He is cheered if he does catch it and hissed
if he fails. The gate opens again and the gay company of bull-fighters is
announced by the blast of trumpets. These men arrayed in costumes of red,
yellow, green and blue silks, satins and velvets, glittering with beads,
jewels and gold braid, form a brilliant spectacle as they march across
the arena to salute the president, after the manner of the gladiators of
old. Every one taking part in this exhibition appears in this procession,
from the _matador_ to the men with wheelbarrows and shovels who clean up
the arena after each performance. I said all, but the principal character
himself is reserved until later. After saluting the president the company
march around the ring to receive the plaudits of the people.

The bull-fight is a tragedy in three acts. After the company have
withdrawn, the door through which the bull enters is unlocked and the
first act begins with a flourish of trumpets. The bull rushes out from a
dark stall into the dazzling light, furious with rage and trembling in
every limb. This is an intense moment and all eyes are centred upon the
newcomer. As he enters, a barbed steel hook covered with flowing ribbons
is placed in his shoulder. The ribbons indicate the ranch or _hacienda_
from whence he came. Even the street urchins can recognize the colours of
a _hacienda_ which has the reputation of producing animals that are noted
for their belligerent qualities.

Startled by the intense light and enraged by the stinging of the steel
hook, the bull stands for an instant recovering his senses. Sometimes he
will paw the earth, toss the dust over his back and bellow his defiance.
Around him in the ring are the _capeadores_, men on foot carrying red
capes, and _picadores_, men on horses armed with lances. These latter
sit motionless as statues upon their steeds that are blindfolded ready
for the sacrifice.

After a moment of uncertainty, the bull dashes either at a _capeador_
or _picador_. The former quickly runs to the barrier and nimbly leaps
over, leaving the bull more infuriated than ever. The horse attracts
his attention next and there is no way of escape for this poor, old,
broken down servant of man. The _picador_ makes no effort to save his
steed, which is blindfolded so that he may not see his danger, but simply
plants his blunt spear-point in the shoulder of the brute. Sometimes this
will save the horse, but it does not please the audience for a certain
number of horses must be sacrificed. More frequently the bull will, with
a single toss of the horns, overthrow both horse and rider in a heap.
The _capeadores_ then hover around with their cloaks and distract the
attention of the bull from the prostrate rider who is helpless because of
his iron armour. Once I saw a rider fall on the back of the bull much to
the surprise of both. It is seldom that a _picador_ is killed, for the
bull will nearly always leave him and chase a red cloak.

Fortunate, indeed, is the horse that is instantly killed. If able to
walk, he is ridden around in the ring again with blood streaming from
his wounds and trampling upon his own bowels. Or the poor brute may be
sewed up in a crude, surgical way in order to enable him to canter around
the ring a few more times. Once, only, in an experience covering several
bull-fights in several countries, have I seen a horse drop dead from the
first blow. The fight is not complete without the shedding of the blood
of horses, and sometimes the crowd will clamour for more horses before
this act is closed. There must be enough, for economy in this feature
will place the people in a bad mood. The audience must be catered to,
for if disappointed they are likely to demolish the ring and tear up
the seats as a method of showing their displeasure. This, in itself, is
sufficient to prove the debasing and brutalizing influence of this sport.

In the second act the _banderilleros_, men who plant the _banderillas_
in the neck of the bull, appear in the arena. This is the most artistic
and most interesting act in the entire performance, for great skill is
displayed and little blood spilled. These men come in the ring without
cape or any means of defence and depend entirely upon their skill and
agility for safety. They are finely dressed and are usually superbly
built fellows with lithe and muscular bodies. The _banderillero_ takes
with him a pair of barbed darts about two feet long and covered with
fancy coloured paper with ribbon streamers. He shakes these at the bull,
thus provoking an assault. Then, just when he seems to be on the bull’s
horns and the novice turns his face away to avoid the scene, he plants
the darts in the gory neck of the bull and steps lightly aside. These
darts re-enrage the bull, who has been getting rather tired of the whole
affair. He attacks whatever engages his attention. It may be only a dead
horse which he will then tear open, being aroused to fury by the smell of
the blood.

[Illustration: PLANTING THE _BANDERILLAS_]

There are usually two of these men and each plants four darts in the
bull’s neck. They must be placed in front of the shoulder and so firmly
inserted that they will not be shaken out. If successful in these
particulars, then the _banderillero_ who is a favourite will receive
prolonged applause and a perfect volley of complimentary comments. Even
the _matador_ himself ofttimes deigns to take part in this act. If so, he
performs the act in some daring and novel way. They will sometimes sit in
a chair and thus plant the darts, or take a pole and vault over the bull
after placing them. Occasionally a bull is cowardly and will not fight.
Then “fire” is called for and darts filled with powder which explodes in
the flesh are used. This will cause the bull to dance and skip around in
his agony, which is very pleasing to the audience and furnishes variety
to an otherwise monotonous exhibition.

The trumpet sounds the last act. This is the duel,—the death. Everything
has been done with reference to this act. The first two acts have been
intended to madden the animal and tire him by the violent exercise and
loss of blood. He is panting, his sides heave as though they would burst,
his neck is one mass of blood over which, as if in mockery, hang the
many-hued darts. The man with the sword would not stand much show with
a fresh and unwearied animal. This actor is the _matador_, or _espada_,
and, if known as one who kills his bulls with a single stroke of the
sword, he will receive great applause on entering. He steps forward to
the president’s box and makes a little speech, offering to kill the bull
to the honour of Mexico. Throwing his hat to some one in the seats,
(for it is considered an honour to hold any of his apparel) the hero
advances sword in hand toward the bull, who, during this by-play, has
been entertained by the cape-bearers again. He bears in his left hand a
staff, called the _muleta_, over which is a red flag, and in the right
a keen-edged sword. The flag serves both as a lure to the beast and a
protection to the man. He is usually pale and always alert, and studies
the animal for a moment to ascertain his disposition. This can not be
prolonged for the audience will not brook delay. The tension of nerves is
too great. As the bull makes a rush for the red flag, with head lowered,
the _matador_ plunges the keen blade into the bull’s shoulders up to the
hilt. The bull staggers and dies.

It is wonderful to see how excited and enthusiastic the crowd becomes
when the _matador_ has made a skilful killing. They rise and cheer and
wave their handkerchiefs. As he passes around the ring to receive their
applause, a perfect volley of hats, coats, handkerchiefs, and cigars are
thrown toward him. These are tossed back except the cigars or any money
that may have been included. If the killing has been poorly made, or in
a bungling manner, hisses replace cheers and boards or chairs may be
thrown instead of hats and cigars. At a fight in Guatemala City I saw one
_matador_ chased out of the ring, and he did not return again during that
performance. This was done after he had made three unsuccessful attempts
to kill the bull and had plunged two swords into the poor, tortured
animal without striking a vital spot.

Then comes the finale. Teams of gaily-decked mules are brought in to
drag out the dead bull and horses. The bloody places are covered over
with sawdust in order to prevent slipping. Even before the dead animals
are removed, the two or three _picadores_ appear on other sorry-looking
steeds, even worse than the first ones if such a thing were possible. The
trumpet sounds, the door flies open and another bull comes rushing in
to meet the same fate as the first. The play begins again with the same
variety of sickening incidents. Others follow in regular order until the
usual number of six bulls have been dispatched. The management is usually
very careful not to promise more than will be performed, for they know
the temper of the audience too well. At a bull-fight in Madrid, which I
attended, the management had promised ten bulls in its posters but the
tickets only called for eight. After the eighth bull had been dispatched
the end was announced, but the crowd refused to leave. All over the vast
amphitheatre rang the cry “_otro toro_” (another bull), repeated over
and over again in one swelling cadence with ever-increasing volume.
The management was obdurate and the multitudes left muttering their
maledictions.

Formerly gentlemen of the court mounted on the finest horses in the
kingdom entered the arena and fought the bull like the knights of old.
Now the sport has degenerated and is performed by professionals hired for
the purpose. I once had the opportunity of witnessing a bull-fight by
the Portuguese method. This is the bull-fight deprived of its disgusting
details. It is even more exciting and dispenses with the killing of both
bull and horses. The men with the red cloaks are employed just the same
but the men who place the _banderillas_ are mounted on horses. They are
not broken-down hacks, but magnificent, well-trained animals and good
care is taken that the bull does not make sausage meat of them. As a
further protection, the points of the bull’s horns are covered with balls
to prevent injury to the horses. Their sport consists in riding past
the bull, and placing the darts without permitting the bull to touch
the horse. It is a feat that requires great skill and a steady nerve.
After the bull is thoroughly tired out, a number of oxen are driven in
the ring, the exhausted bull is taken out and another one brought in to
continue the sport. In any form bull-fighting is bad enough, but if a
line can be drawn between degrees of evil, the method of the Portuguese
is the least to be condemned.

Tauromachy has many devotees who follow the fights in all their features
as the base ball fan watches the sporting page of the American newspaper.
In some places the spectacles are reported in all their most minute
details, even down to the number of minutes it took the bull to die
after receiving the fatal stroke. The killing of bulls is a science
and there are many different schools which have been founded by great
masters. A renowned _matador_ receives as much attention as the champion
prize-fighter in English speaking countries. They receive great sums of
money but are almost invariably improvident and save little. The fights
are not unattended by danger, for deaths are not infrequent and serious
injuries are a common occurrence.

Ladies attend these spectacles and seem to derive as much pleasure as
those who are supposed to be made of sterner stuff. Their black eyes
sparkle with excitement and they shower their appreciation upon the
successful one without reserve. It is the place for dress as the opera
is in other lands. All the gallantry in the Spanish nature comes to the
front on the way to and at the bull-fight. The enthusiasm, the manners,
the expressions—all are distinctly national.

In Mexico the light on the horizon seems to be growing brighter, and the
beginning of the end of this brutal and un-American sport is apparently
in sight. It is not in favour with the present officials in the national
capital and in many of the state capitals. Three of the most important
states absolutely forbid the bull-fights, and heavy penalties are
provided for any violations of the law. Statutes to prohibit them have
been enacted in the federal district on more than one occasion, but they
have been as often repealed so great was the popular demand for them. The
best people do not now attend the performances in the City of Mexico but
this fact has made little diminution in the crowd. Their places are taken
by foreigners resident there, many of whom are among the most ardent
supporters of the sport. I predict that within the next decade there will
be few states in the Republic of Mexico that will permit the bull-fight
within their borders. Such action may curtail a profitable industry and
remove a good market for worn-out horses, but these material losses
will be more than compensated in the development of those elements of
character which can not be measured by the low standard of mere dollars
and cents.



CHAPTER XIV

EDUCATION AND THE ARTS


Any one who is acquainted with the conditions existing in Spain or any
part of Spanish America would naturally surmise that education in New
Spain is at a low ebb. What education does exist is confined to a few.
When you know that districts can be found in Spain to-day where scarcely
ten per cent. of the inhabitants have mastered the art of reading or
writing, it is not surprising to learn that after three centuries of
the rule of Spanish governors and viceroys, ninety-five per cent. of
the population of Mexico still remained in profound ignorance. Learning
for the masses was regarded as prejudicial by those representatives
and misrepresentatives of the home government. One viceroy voiced this
sentiment by saying that only the catechism should be taught in America.
Students are not likely to go beyond the learning of their teachers,
and these were obliged to pass examination in only the most elementary
branches. As a natural result, instruction soon fell into the hands of
the incompetent. Teaching did not attract the bright minds. Those who
cared for scholastic attainments prepared for the church or law. Others
became soldiers or adventurers.

The first viceroy, Mendoza, was a broad-minded man and interested in his
new empire. At his death he left a sum of money with which to establish
a university to be open to all classes. This institution was actually
established as early as 1551.

Very few of the aborigines attained much culture, although a few of the
Aztec nobles were notable exceptions. Education was in general left to
the church but was neglected by that institution. The Jesuits, whatever
their faults may have been, were interested in education, and at the
time of their expulsion in 1767 conducted a large number of colleges and
seminaries.

In the seventeenth century the City of Mexico was looked upon as a great
seat of learning and a literary centre. Even before the Shakesperian
era of English writers, literature had its beginnings in that city.
Bishop Zumarraga, the first “Bishop of the Great City of Tenuchtitlan,”
encouraged writers as well as miraculous visitations such as the Virgin
of Guadalupe. Through his efforts, the first printing press of the
new world had been set up in this seat of ancient Aztec civilization,
in 1535, about a hundred years before one was in use in the British
colonies. A dozen books had been printed in the City of Mexico before
1550, and almost a hundred before the close of the sixteenth century.
Some of these were printed in the Indian languages including the Mixtec,
Zapotec, Nahuatl, Huaxtec, Tarascan and others.

The very first book printed on this first press bore the following
impressive and “elevating” title: _Escala Espiritual para llegar al
Cielo, Traducido del Latin en Castellano por el Venerable Padre Fr Ivan
de la Madalena, Religioso Dominico, 1536_. Translated into English it
means the Spiritual Ladder for reaching Heaven, Translated from Latin
into Spanish by Father Ivan, Dominican. This book was written especially
for students preparing for the priesthood, and no copies of it are in
existence so far as is known. The second book was a Christian Doctrine,
printed in 1539 “to the honour and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ and
of the Most Sacred Virgin, His Mother.” It was published in the native
language also “for the benefit of the native Indians and the salvation
of their souls.” A few of the books departed from a strictly religious
character, but all of them drew deep religious truths from every event.
One of the early books was an account of a great earthquake in the City
of Guatemala which, as the title page suggests, should be an example that
“we amend our sins and be prepared whenever God shall be pleased to call
us.” Nearly all of these early books were written by Spanish priests and
members of the religious orders. The first music of the new world was
printed here also in the old illuminated style, as well as the first
wood-engraving.

The first newspaper in Mexico was the _Mercurio Volante_, or The Flying
Mercury, established in 1693. From that time until the present day,
newspapers have existed, but they were so hampered and restricted in
their utterances that their influence and circulation was small until
long after independence had been proclaimed. Now there are a great many
newspapers and periodicals of all kinds and descriptions published in the
capital. However, no American would class them with our own newspapers,
for the reason that they do not seem to have the “nose for news” of the
American journalist. A Mexican reporter would not think of invading
the sanctity of the home even for a “scoop” over his competitors.
Likewise the family skeleton is generally safe, which is certainly a
commendable feature. Not one of the many newspapers published could
be classed as sensational or of the “yellow” stripe. Mexico’s reading
public is comparatively small even to this day because of the still large
illiterate class. _El Imparcial_, the leading daily and official organ
of the government, does not have a circulation exceeding seventy-five
thousand, scattered all over the republic. Its editor is an influential
member of congress. It publishes an afternoon edition called _El Mundo_
(the world). The _Popular_ is second in circulation. _Tiempo_ (times) is
the leading Catholic daily. Other papers are _Pais_ (country), _Patria_
and _Sucesos_ (events). There are two English newspapers published in
the capital of which _The Mexican Herald_ is the leading one and is the
best newspaper in the country. It is widely read by both foreigners and
official and influential Mexicans. There is an illustrated weekly, _El
Mundo Illustrado_, an agricultural paper, _The Heraldo Agricola_ and
many other periodicals of various kinds. _Modern Mexico_ is an excellent
illustrated monthly magazine edited in the City of Mexico and published
in New York. It is printed in both Spanish and English and is devoted to
Mexican interests in general. Many of the cities have daily newspapers,
but they are generally inferior and uninfluential publications. The best
paper published in Vera Cruz could not compare with an American newspaper
published in a little hamlet.

Mexico has produced many writers and some of them have been very prolific
in their productions. It can not be said that there was much originality
to the early writers when they departed from historical lines, but there
is a sprightliness and rhythm in their epics that holds the attention of
the reader. The bright spots in the history of literature for the first
generation after the conquest are made by a group of Indian writers,
bearing the unpronounceable names of Ixtlilxochitli, Tezozomoc and
Nitzahualcoyotl. These men recorded the glory of their ancestors in prose
and poetry. Although their Spanish is faulty, their genius is clear.
Bernal Diaz, the early companion of Cortez and afterwards governor of
Guatemala, wrote from the latter place his “True History of the Events of
the Conquest of New Spain.” It is a very readable work and a fascinating
account of an interesting country and a primitive race. The writings of
Las Casas have been much criticised but they deserve mention. Other
chroniclers are Bustamente, Alvarez and Iglesias.

Poetry has always had a leading place in the literature of Mexico for the
Spanish language is well suited to verse and their love poems have the
highest rank. Some of the modern writers are better known in Europe than
on this continent. The two leading poets are Juan de Dios Pesa, called
the Mexican Longfellow, and José Peon y Contreras. The latter is foremost
in the ranks of living poets.

Literary talent is much encouraged by the government and any one showing
marked literary ability is almost sure to be offered some government
position. An instance of this is seen in the career of Vicente Riva
Palacio, a well known novelist and dramatist who has been governor,
cabinet member and Justice of the Supreme Court. Another example was
the poet Prieto who served in the cabinet of several presidents and
died a few years ago. The Minister of Fomento (encouragement) can issue
deserving books from the government press, if he so desires, and a number
of works, especially historical treatises, have been issued in this way.
The reason is, I suppose, because the reading public is not yet very
large and a meritorious book would possibly have only a limited sale.
These conditions are fast passing away. The drama and the tragic have
ever filled a large place in the life of the Mexican people. A number of
their dramatic books have become well known in Spanish-speaking countries
but have not been translated into English.

After the struggle for independence, nothing was done in the way of
education until almost the middle of the last century. The colleges and
schools already established had begun to languish. Even after that date
little was done, because the church was so occupied in retaining its own
foothold, and each successive government inherited only a burden of debt
from its predecessors. Juarez had the desire to establish schools but
not the means. Maximilian would no doubt have promoted education but his
throne was never secure.

The development of the school system is so recent that it may safely
be said to date from the first inauguration of President Diaz in 1876.
Listen to what this so-called republican despot says upon this subject,
which expresses the attitude of the present government: “Education is our
foremost interest. We regard it as the foundation of our prosperity and
the basis of our very existence. For this reason we are doing all that we
can do to strengthen its activity and increase its power. I have created
a public school for boys and another for girls in every community in the
republic. Education is such a national interest that we have established
a Ministry of Public Instruction to watch over it. We have learned from
Japan, what we indeed knew before, but did not realize quite clearly,
that education is the one thing needful to a people; if they but possess
it, all other distinctions are added unto them.”

The educational system has been revolutionized, it might be said created,
within a little more than a quarter of a century under the guidance of
one man except for a period of four years. The schools are non-sectarian
and the teaching of religion is absolutely prohibited. “That” says Diaz,
“is for the family to do, for the state should teach only scholarship,
industry and patriotism.” The schools in the Federal District, which
includes the City of Mexico and suburbs, and the territories of Tepic
and Lower California, are under the direct control of the executive. The
Federal District alone has nearly four hundred schools, and a number
of fine new school buildings have been erected in the past four years
after American models. The idea of a school building without a play
ground is strange to an American, yet in Mexico none, except the new
ones, have any recreation ground whatever, and they are housed mostly
in the old church properties that reverted to the government after the
disestablishment. Another strange idea to the American mind is the
separation of the sexes which is almost universal. The girls’ schools
contain fewer pupils, for the parents, if possible, send them to private
institutions or employ private teachers. Within the past year several
million dollars was appropriated by congress for the erection and
equipment of new buildings in the Federal District. Commissioners have
been sent to the United States to study school systems, and we find their
schools divided very much as our own.

[Illustration: AN AZTEC SCHOOLGIRL]

The schools in the various states are under their own control, and the
number and condition varies accordingly.[3] In most of them primary
instruction is compulsory. There are not many hamlets except in remote
mountain regions where primary schools have not been established,
although in many places greatly inadequate, if all those of school
age should attend. In the cities, schools for the higher education
corresponding to our own high schools are maintained at public expense.
The English language is a compulsory study in certain grades, and one
can almost see the time in the future when there will be two idioms in
Mexico. Free night schools are maintained in some places for the benefit
of those who can not attend during the day. The duties of citizenship are
particularly impressed upon boys, and some feminine work is taught to the
girls even in the primary schools. In addition to the government schools,
the churches and private associations support many schools for pupils of
all ages.

Perhaps nowhere are the results of the campaign for education seen to
better advantage than in the soldiers’ barracks and penal institutions.
The soldiers are mostly recruited from the Indians and are without
education. The same is true of those who fill up the jails and
penitentiaries. However much they may deserve their punishment, humane
methods prevail. Attendance upon classes is compulsory upon both
soldiers and convicts, and instruction is given in practical morals,
civil government, arithmetic, natural science, history of Mexico,
geometry, drawing and singing. If the prisoner is studious and obeys the
rules of the institution, he is graduated and given his freedom. This
little insight into a better life has made a good citizen out of many a
former convict, and a better one out of a soldier who has completed the
term of his enlistment. The native Mexicans are bright and intelligent,
but self-culture is not common because of natural indolence. The Indians,
and especially the _Mestizos_, are promising and quick to learn. Although
there are no accurate statistics, it is estimated that nearly one-half of
the adult population can at least read and most of that number can also
write.

The first college established in North America was founded in Mexico
in 1540 and is now located at Morelia. The federal government supports
normal schools for the preparation of teachers, and schools of music,
agriculture, dentistry, medicine, law, mining, fine arts and trades
for both sexes. There are also schools for the blind and mutes, and
reform schools for incorrigibles. The medical college has had a greater
reputation than any of the other institutions of higher learning. This
college now occupies the old home of the inquisition. The staffs of
these schools are generally finely educated men, and will compare
favourably with the staffs of similar institutions in other countries.

The Biblioteca Nacional, or National Library, occupies a magnificent
building that was formerly a noted monastery. It contains several hundred
thousand volumes, and is a storehouse of ancient documents and volumes
of the colonial periods. When the monastic orders were suppressed, more
than one hundred thousand volumes were added to the national library
from these institutions. Although most of their books and pamphlets were
religious works, yet many of them are extremely valuable and almost
priceless. There are a few books here that date back before the discovery
of America by Columbus, and many rare old documents on vellum and
parchment. A few of the picture writings of the Aztecs are also preserved
in this interesting library. The National Museum is a vast storehouse of
the antiquities of the country. One can wander around through the rooms
and corridors for hours and days and continually find some new object of
interest in the vast collection of relics of the prehistorical races.

Like all Catholic countries Mexico has the traditional reverence for
religious art. This love has caused a careful preservation of all the
paintings that have been brought to the country, and the names of the
donors as well. Nearly every church is adorned with some cherished
painting, most of which are copies of works by the noted masters held in
the great collections of Europe. However, here and there will be found a
Michael Angelo, a Velasquez, a Guido, a Murillo or a Rubens. Perhaps the
most cherished canvas in the entire country is a Titian at the village
of Tzintzuntzan on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro. It is a large canvas on
the walls of a little dilapidated church and represents the entombing of
Christ. The room that contains it has but one outside opening and that an
unglazed window.

Mexico herself has developed some expert copyists but few talented
artists. One of the most noted was Cabrera, a Zapotec Indian, who has
been called the Rafael of Mexico. He was architect, sculptor and painter,
and has done some fine work in each line. Politics has in times past
absorbed too much of the time of the young men of Mexico so that the arts
have been neglected.

The Escuela National de Bellas Artes, or National School of Fine Arts,
in the City of Mexico is an excellent institution and is liberally
supported by the government.

Charles Dudley Warner says: “It was a marvellous time of original and
beautiful work that covered Mexico with churches, and set up in all the
remote and almost inaccessible villages towers and domes that match the
best work of Italy and recall the triumphs of Moorish art.”

No one with even the slightest love of architecture can help but be
impressed with the great variety of design and grandeur of construction
of the churches of Mexico. Though designed by Spanish architects and
retaining the Moorish characteristics of that period, they are the work
of native workmen and have received some Aztec touches. On the façades,
towers and portals are designs and figures made by these workmen which
are doubtless Indian legends or traditions of a prehistoric age. They
resemble strongly those strange symbols of the ancient Egyptians and
Persians. Some of the churches which the traveller encounters in villages
consisting of low adobe huts fairly overwhelm one with their splendour.
In places a great church will loom up in the horizon with scarcely a sign
of human habitation near it. Only in the tropics are these great houses
of worship wanting. The danger of earthquakes precluded the building
of lofty structures there, and the priests of the conquering age, which
was the great era of construction, rather avoided the hot lands for the
cooler plateaus.

The beauty and originality in the churches is principally in the
exterior. This is the reverse of the architecture in the homes, for there
the outside walls are plain, and skill and ornamentation are devoted to
the decoration of the patio. The interior is generally quite commonplace,
and a church in one city is very much like a church in another. The
ornamentation of the exterior is very elaborate and of the rococo or,
as some would call it, the over-done style. However when looking upon
the extreme richness of detail, one can see and appreciate the beauty
and merits of the style, even if there is a certain floridness and
flamboyancy present. The towers resemble the towers which are a part of
the mosques in Moslem countries from which the call to prayers is made
by the priests. As Mr. Warner says: “There is a touch of decay nearly
everywhere, a crumbling and defacement of colours, which add somewhat
of pathos to the old structures; but in nearly every one there is some
unexpected fancy—a belfry oddly placed, a figure that surprises with its
quaintness of its position, or a rich bit of deep stone carving; and in
the humblest and plainest façade, there is a note of individual yielding
to a whim of expression that is very fascinating. The architects escaped
from the commonplace and the conventional; they understood proportion
without regularity, and the result is not, perhaps, explainable to those
who are only accustomed to our church architecture.”



CHAPTER XV

MINES AND MINING


Humboldt speaks of Mexico as the treasure house of the world. It is one
of the most richly mineralized regions ever discovered, and has produced
one-third of the world’s supply of the white metal. Mexico, together
with Peru, furnished the wealth that enabled Spain to build up her great
empire. And many a real castle in Spain was built with the gold and
silver taken out of these rugged mountains of New Spain. The thirst for
gold became a disease among Spanish adventurers. The mind of Columbus was
distracted by the sight of natives along the coast of Honduras, who were
wearing pure gold suspended around their necks by cotton cords, and he
temporarily gave up his voyage of discovery to search for the source of
this great wealth.

No country can compare with Mexico in the amount of silver of pure
quality that has been produced. The largest lump of silver ever found,
weighing two thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds, was discovered by
a poor Indian in the State of Sonora. Because of a dispute as to the
ownership, the crown solved the question by appropriating the entire
amount. In fact the crown at first claimed two-thirds of all the precious
metals mined which was afterwards reduced to one-fifth. Some authorities
estimate the amount of silver that has been produced in Mexico at the
enormous sum of $6,000,000,000, but two-thirds of that sum is probably in
excess of the real value. The Taxco, Tzumepanco and Temezcaltepec mines
date from 1539 but the greatest number of the “bonanzas” were discovered
between 1550 and 1700. Many of them were located by priests, who, urged
on by a fanatical zeal to convert the natives, pushed forth into unknown
regions, and literally stumbled upon the rich ore-bearing quartz. The
Spanish viceregal government kept an accurate account of the silver mined
in their red-tape method, for the royal one-fifth was carefully and
jealously looked after. Mine owners were compelled to make their reports
regularly and correctly. A reference to these reports shows a record of
almost untold wealth when it is remembered that this was long before the
depreciation of silver.

The story of the bonanza kings makes interesting reading. They made money
so fast that it was almost impossible to spend it except over the gaming
table, in those days before the invention of modern surplus-reducing
luxuries. One man, Zambrano, discovered a mine that made him extremely
wealthy. Although he lived in the various capitals of Europe as
extravagantly as the age permitted, yet he left a comfortable little
fortune of $60,000,000 for his heirs to fight over. He even proposed to
lay a sidewalk of silver bars in front of his house, but the authorities
objected. He took out fifty-five million ounces of silver from one mine
in twelve years as is shown by the government records.

Many of those who accumulated great fortunes were made grandees of Spain
and some of the present titled families in that country are descendants
of the famous bonanza kings of Mexico. Juan de Oñata who colonized New
Mexico at his own expense, founding Santa Fe, and became its first
governor about 1598, was a son of one of the mining kings, and the wealth
dug out of the earth in old Mexico by his father furnished the means for
founding that state.

Joseph de la Borda was one of the romantic characters of this age. He
was a wandering Frenchman who came from Canada in the first half of
the eighteenth century and no one ever learned anything further about
him. He made three fortunes and lost two of them because of his lavish
gifts, most of which went to the church. He built several large churches
in what is now the state of Hidalgo. After losing his second fortune,
the Archbishop of Mexico gave him permission to sell a magnificent
diamond-studded ornament that he had given to the church in Tasco. From
this he realized $100,000, and after a great deal of prospecting, finally
discovered another rich mine which yielded him many more millions.

Pedro Romero de Terreros, from a humble shopkeeper, became Count of
Regla, after acquiring great wealth from his mine, La Viscayne. He built
two large ships, one of one hundred and twelve guns, and presented them
to his sovereign. He also loaned the crown $1,000,000 as freely as a man
gives a friend a dollar, which sum the king never found it convenient to
repay. In later life he founded the national pawn-shop, which he called
the Mount of Piety and which has grown to be such a great humanitarian
institution in the capital and other cities.

The Conde de Valenciana who discovered the famous Valenciana mine of
Guanajuato is reported to have made and spent $100,000,000 in a few
years. One man discovered a rich mine on his ranch near Durango that
rendered him immensely wealthy. He sent a present of $2,000,000 to the
king of Spain and asked permission to build galleries and _portales_ of
silver around his fine new home. This was refused on the ground that such
display was the privilege of royalty only.

A Guanajuato miner paved the street with silver ingots for a distance of
sixty yards for the procession to pass over on their way to the church
on the occasion of the christening of his son. Another story is told of
a mining king who, on a similar occasion, paved the main aisle of the
church with bars of silver for the baptismal party to walk upon. After
the ceremony he wanted to remove the silver bars, but the wily priest
told him that it would be an act of impiety which the Almighty would
surely punish. It was not done and the occasion proved to be an expensive
christening for the crœsus. Godfathers became so reckless in throwing
away money that one viceroy issued a proclamation forbidding them to
fling handfuls of money in the street as had been their custom, because
such acts encouraged improvidence.

I have seen the statement that there is one man at Mazatlan to-day who
owns a mine whose entrance is protected by massive walls and gates.
Whenever he wants a hundred thousand or so of lucre, he simply takes in a
few miners and digs out the ore and then gambles it away.

There is one noted mining king of to-day, Pedro Alvaredo, a full-blooded
Indian, who is known as the peon millionaire. A few years ago a mine that
he owned “bonanzad,” as they call it, and he became immensely wealthy.
However, he and his wife still dress in the peon clothes to which they
were accustomed. He has built a mansion and furnished it with every kind
of musical instrument to be obtained, including many makes of pianos. A
few years ago he announced that he would pay off the national debt, but
he found it a little too large.

The Spaniards worked only the very richest of the mines. They would not
touch ore that did not yield nearly a hundred ounces to the ton. Their
early methods were of the very crudest sort until the “_patio_” process
was discovered and came into general use. If difficulties were met with
in mining, these men simply worked around them and left great amounts of
rich quartz untouched. The ore was so plentiful that they did not attempt
to do their operations in a thorough manner. However they protected
the entrance by building great fortifications around the shafts, that
look like the walled cities of old and were patrolled by armed guards.
Vast shafts were constructed down which run ladders. The poor peon toils
up these ladders which sometimes aggregate more than a thousand rounds
carrying a rawhide sack on his back containing two hundred and fifty
pounds of ore without a rest, and will make several trips a day. In early
times the natives were compelled to work in these mines to all intents
and purposes as slaves, and were beaten and flogged even to death if
they refused to obey their taskmasters. At night each peon was searched
for fear he might conceal some of the precious metal. However as their
costume was exceedingly simple the search was a very easy matter. The
mines were cleared of water in the same way by the peons carrying it
up these long ladders in rawhide buckets. Many mines were abandoned on
account of water in those days long before their wealth was exhausted.
Transportation was slow and expensive, and the mountain trails were
kept dusty by the long trains of pack mules transporting treasures and
supplies.

[Illustration: PEON MINERS AT LUNCH]

Until within the last few years since American capital has undertaken
to develop many of the Mexican mines, only the most primitive methods
were in use. Even to-day many are operated in the same old way, although
modern machinery is being rapidly introduced. The expense of fuel has
been a great drawback in the less productive mines, and the shafts many
hundreds of feet deep are worked with a windlass and mule power. Coal
costs as high as $15 (gold) per ton at the mine and is then cheaper
than wood at $14 (silver) per cord. At these prices steam power becomes
very expensive. In those early days only those ores could be mined at a
profit that could be treated at the mine, because of the great expense of
transporting the ore-laden rock on the backs of mules.

The patio process of amalgamating silver is still generally used. This
first came into use in 1557, being discovered by Bartolome de Medina, a
miner. The ore is first crushed into a powder by an immense rolling stone
that is revolved by teams of mules. This powder is then carried into a
patio, or paved court, by a stream of water until the mass is about two
feet deep. Quicksilver, salt and blue vitriol are then thrown into it
and several teams of mules are driven around and around until the mass
is thoroughly mixed, which requires several weeks. This is then thrown
into troughs of water, where the amalgam of silver and quicksilver will
sink to the bottom. By a process of distillation the silver is then
separated from the quicksilver. Within five years after the discovery of
this process Zacatecas alone had thirty-five of these reduction works
in operation. It is claimed that not over ten per cent. is lost by this
simple method. The poor mules eventually become horrible looking sights
from the action of the vitriol on their legs. This patio mud has been
used in the construction of the huts of the peons. A company was formed
to tear down a whole row of these huts in Guanajuato just to extract the
little metal that was left in them. The crown retained a monopoly on the
quicksilver, and realized great profits upon this necessary metal in
treating the silver ore.

The first bonanza mines were discovered at Zacatecas in 1546 by Juan de
Tolosa. So rich were they and so great was the influx of miners, that
the place was made a city forty years later. For two hundred and fifty
years fabulous sums of silver were taken from the hills surrounding this
quaint city. Some of the richest mines of the country have been located
near Pachuca. More than three hundred silver mines are found there and
in the near-by districts of Regla and Real del Monte. One mine, The
Trinidad, is said to have yielded $50,000,000 in ten years. There was
very little stock speculation with the mines in the early days. There was
at least one exception where an English company bought an old producing
mine and the $500 shares rose to $80,000 but in the end the mine proved
to be a failure. Catorce is also a rich mining town, and the mines have
produced many millions of silver ore. The State of Oaxaca is likewise
rich in gold and silver bearing quartz. None of the great bonanzas were
found there, but a steady stream of gold and silver has been produced by
the Oaxaca mines. I heard an interesting story of a young prospector who
had spent several years and all his money in the search for wealth near
Ejutla in that state. Having only a few dollars left he invested his all
in dynamite and placed it in the lode with a prayer for luck. The blast
revealed a rich “lead” which he sold for $600,000 a few days later.

The richest mineralized section in the whole republic is probably
that in and around Guanajuato, the “hill of the frogs.” This district
was discovered by two mule drivers in 1548 who were on their way from
Zacatecas to the City of Mexico, and from that date until the present
time a billion and a half dollars’ worth of silver has been produced. A
hundred years ago Guanajuato was one of the largest cities and it is
admitted by all travellers to be one of the most picturesque cities in
the New World. Its wealthy mine owners lived like princes and spent their
money like drunken sailors. Fortunes were made and lost. About a hundred
years ago two mines there were producing four million ounces of silver
annually. These mines were worked by the Aztecs long before the Spaniards
came. This is called the La Luz district.

To-day Guanajuato is a much smaller city than it was a half century
ago because of the decrease in mining activity. The Theatre Juarez is
a beautiful building and was built and is owned by the state, which
seems strange to an American. The state or municipal ownership of
theatres in Spanish-American countries is quite common. The Republic of
Guatemala takes more pride in its national theatre, the Teatre Colon
(Columbus), than in any other public building. A curious sight in this
city of Guanajuato is the panteon, or crypt, where bodies are buried
for five years. If burial fees are not paid again at the end of that
time, the bones are thrown in a heap. However, many of the bodies are
found mummified and these are placed against the wall making a horrible,
gruesome sight,—one that will not be soon forgotten by the traveller. It
is like the crypt underneath the Capuchin Church in Rome.

The Spanish conquerors mentioned nothing of silver among the Aztecs,
but all their ornaments were of gold. The value of the presents of gold
ornaments given to Cortez by Montezuma is estimated by Prescott at more
than $7,000,000. The source of this great gold supply has never been
discovered, for, although gold in small quantities is found in many
places intermingled with silver, yet the amount mined was very small
in comparison with the value of the silver. In more recent years owing
to improved methods of separating the precious metals from the quartz,
the proportion of gold produced has been increasing. From 1810 to 1884
mining reached a very low ebb because of the unstable form of government
and constant revolutionary movements. The crude methods formerly in use
became unprofitable, and foreign capitalists were afraid to invest money
for fear that a change in the government might occur over night and
wipe out everything. The old mines had been worked to such a depth that
they were flooded and could not be kept in workable condition by the
bucket brigade. The disturbed political conditions had developed large
and bold bands of robbers; and as all traffic had to be carried over
lonely mountain trails, mining became very insecure and consequently
unprofitable.

Since the extension of the railway systems and the establishment of a
stable government, mining is again attracting a great deal of attention.
The government encourages foreign investments in the mines. Many of the
old bonanzas have been taken over by new companies with both good and
bad results for the investors. The introduction of modern machinery has
so reduced the cost of mining that lower grade ores can be profitably
worked. Even the dumps that have been accumulating for centuries are
being worked over at a fair profit. Smelters and mills for the cyanide
process are springing up in all of the mining regions. Modern pumps are
taking the place of the mule and windlass in keeping the mines free
from water. The fame of the old bonanzas has no doubt aided in fleecing
the gullible through fake companies organized by unscrupulous and even
criminal promoters. American miners and prospectors are met with all
over Mexico in the mining districts. It is safe to say that the majority
of them have either met with disappointment or are living in hope of a
“strike.” These conditions are the same in every mining district the
world over.

The mining laws are simple and practical. Boards are established in every
mining community who look after the mining interests. Any one discovering
a claim can “denounce” it before this board and he is protected.
Foreigners have the same rights as citizens in “denouncing” a claim. A
mining claim is called a “_pertenencia_” and is one hundred metres square
thus consisting of ten thousand square metres. The surface ground must be
settled for with the owner. A tax of ten dollars must be paid annually
to protect the claim from forfeiture. More than twelve thousand claims
are now on record as shown by government statistics. The government only
claims a one-twenty-fifth instead of the royal one-fifth exacted by Spain.

The number of men employed in the mines at the present time is about two
hundred thousand. Wages are low and average about fifty cents for common
labour and one dollar for native miners in Mexican money. However, in
recent years wages at the mines have had a tendency to rise. Mexico’s
annual production of silver amounts to from $30,000,000 to $35,000,000
in gold value and gives it first place. As the price of silver is
advancing, the production will no doubt be further stimulated. It now
occupies fifth place in the production of gold, being exceeded only by
the Transvaal, Australia, United States and Russia. The production of
Mexico in 1906 reached a value of $15,000,000.

Many other minerals are found in Mexico. Perhaps the most valuable, next
after gold and silver, is copper of which there are a number of rich
deposits. In 1906, one hundred and thirty-five million pounds of copper
were mined. When this is compared with a production of nine hundred and
fifteen million pounds in the United States for the same period it is not
a bad showing for Mexico. Iron is not generally distributed but there is
a mountain of nearly ninety per cent. pure iron ore at Durango. Tradition
says that the Indians first led the Spaniards to Durango by tales of a
mountain of gold where the yellow metal sparkled on the surface. When
they arrived at this mountain, now called Cerro del Mercado, they pointed
to the outcroppings of pyrites which the ignorant natives thought—or
pretended to think—were of the same metal that these strange white men
had come across the unknown seas in search of. A little coal has been
found but not in quantities sufficient for local consumption, so that
considerable coal and coke are imported each year from England and
the United States. Lead is found in large quantities, and most of the
graphite used in the United States is imported from Mexico. The greatest
development in recent years has been in the production of petroleum. Some
of the most remarkable flowing wells in the world have been struck near
Tampico. Great rivalry has resulted between the English and American
interests, and the Mexicans have profited by it. Another profitable field
has been found on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The total production for
the year 1910 exceeded four million barrels. Several of the railways have
already adopted this fuel.

Wonderful progress is being made in developing the mineral resources
of this country, and it is possible that greater discoveries will yet
be made. The wealth of Mexico to-day is not being squandered after
the manner of many of the bonanza kings; but it is being spent along
legitimate lines, and is one of the greatest aids in building up a strong
republic and developing a nation of intelligent and liberty-loving
citizens.



CHAPTER XVI

RAILWAYS AND THEIR INFLUENCE


A work upon Mexico would be incomplete without a description of the
railways and the present progressive railway movement. Nothing has
contributed in such a degree to the great progress that has been made
in the last quarter of a century in Mexico, as the rapidly increasing
railway lines. This is true not only of the influence these advance
agents of progressiveness have had upon commerce, but they have enlarged
the intercourse with other nations, especially with the United States.
Through this means the dormant energies and ambitions of the Mexican
people have been awakened, and a new era has dawned in our Latin
neighbour.

The centres of population in Mexico have always been situated in the
great central plateaus in the interior. Only a very small proportion of
the population live on, or near the coast. Communication with the ports
was over long, narrow and rough trails. The transportation of commerce
was slow and expensive, and required great droves of slow-moving pack
mules and patient burros, and whole armies of cargadors. Furthermore,
the very isolation of the people and difficulty of communication kept
them aloof from modern progress, and left them content with things as
they were, with no ambition for anything more advanced or better than
had been enjoyed by their forefathers. It also prevented the development
of a real, national spirit, because one community was, in a true
sense, not familiar with the neighbouring cities, and took a special
pride in its local interests rather than in the idea of a homogeneous,
strongly-centred whole.

So jealous were those employed in the business of transportation in the
old crude way, that, in order to placate them, some of the earlier roads
were obliged to commence construction at the point furthermost from the
port, in order to give employment to these people in transporting the
material from the port to the place of beginning. Those who are familiar
with the great development of the west, since the construction of our own
trans-continental lines, will better appreciate the change that railroad
construction has wrought in Mexico. There is this difference, however,
that the people were in Mexico before the railroads were built, and,
instead of a newly-developed country it is a rejuvenated old country.

Prior to the beginning of the railway movement, Mexico was noted chiefly
for its minerals. Now, although only a small portion of the mineral
wealth has been dug out of the earth, mining has become of secondary
importance. The increase in commerce and manufacturing, and the stimulus
to agriculture brought about by these avenues of communication, have
swelled the general wealth of the country far more than the millions of
white metal extracted from old mother earth each year. Manufacturing
plants have sprung up on every hand, and the products of the mills are
increasing in volume and variety each year. Mexico could, probably, after
a fashion, supply all the wants of her people without any imports from
the outside world. The factories include almost every line of trade from
the making of articles to adorn the outward man to the solid and liquid
goods which cheer and sustain the inward man.

The railroads have tended to enlarge the wants of the people by throwing
them into contact with other civilizations and have raised the general
standard of wages so that the people have more money to expend for
material needs and luxuries. The abolishment of the _alcabales_, or local
customs, was the logical result of the development of railways and was
almost revolutionary. From the time of the Spanish conquest each city had
collected a local tariff on all goods brought into the town for sale, and
had raised a great part of its revenues in this way. Changes come slow in
this country, but are nevertheless sure. It may be that at some time in
the future the brown back of the burden-bearing cargador will be relieved
of its load. It is a question, however, whether this change would be
welcomed by the dusky descendants of Montezuma.

The encouragement given to railroad construction has been done with a
lavish but well-directed hand. It is estimated that more than one hundred
and fifty million dollars have been spent by the Mexican government in
subsidizing railroads and in developing harbours, and the end is not in
sight yet. Perhaps the motive has not been altogether unselfish for no
one influence has assisted so much in centralizing the power in the hands
of the Diaz government or been such a potent force in tranquillizing a
naturally turbulent people, as the railways and the telegraph lines
which always accompany them. Instant notice would be sent of any
embryonic revolutionary movement and troops could be hurried to the
affected district at once. There were at the close of 1906, according to
government report, twenty-one thousand six hundred and eleven kilometers
of railway track in Mexico, or about thirteen thousand five hundred
miles, and this is increasing at the rate of several hundred miles each
year. The subsidies on the principal lines have averaged from $10,000 to
$15,000 per English mile, with the provision in most instances that after
a certain period (generally ninety-nine years) the roads shall revert to
the government at a certain fixed valuation. Construction is either of
such a difficult character, or over such long stretches of semi-desert
territory with poor and scattered population, that most of these roads
would never have been built except for government assistance.

After the manner of the Romans and with equal truthfulness, the Mexicans
say that all roads lead to the City of Mexico. This saying is almost
literally true. The Valley of Mexico is traversed from every direction
with the _ferro carriles_, or roads of iron, converging toward the
capital. It now has direct communication by rail with almost every part
of the republic except Yucatan and the Pacific slope, and can reach this
coast at one point by a roundabout way to Salina Cruz.

The back-bone of the extensive railway system is formed by the two
great trunk lines which reach out to the north from the City of Mexico,
gradually diverging until at the places where they cross the muddy Rio
Grande they are several hundred miles apart. These railways traverse the
broad central plateau of which Humboldt, the great traveller, wrote,
“so regular is the great plateau and so gentle are the slopes where
depressions occur, that the journey from Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico,
might be made in a four-wheeled vehicle.” There are hundreds of miles
where construction work was exceedingly easy, as it consisted simply
of shovelling up a slightly raised bed and laying the ties and rail.
Rough mountain construction in other places, and especially in entering
the Valley of Mexico, required the work of the very best engineers. By
whichever route the traveller enters Mexico it would be well if he could
sleep over the first two hundred miles while the train is passing over
the semi-desert plains of Northern Mexico where the dust filters through
the car windows in clouds.

The government of Mexico has entered the railway field for economic
reasons. It is simply another indication of the intention on the part
of President Diaz to control the railway situation in behalf of the
people by preventing excessive rates through the pooling of interests.
The spectre of railway consolidation similar to the merging of the
great systems in the United States influenced the officials more than
anything else, and the government did not want the railway situation in
Mexico controlled by any of the large American companies. The project
was begun only a few years ago by actual purchase in the open market
of a controlling interest in the National railroad. This purchase was
made by a select firm of New York brokers, and the real buyer was not
revealed until sufficient stock had been secured to insure control of the
properties. These lines are now known as the National Lines of Mexico
and have a mileage of about eight thousand miles. They will be held by a
corporation with a capital of $250,000,000, organized under the laws of
Mexico, the control of which will be vested in the Mexican government,
although there will be a minority board in New York. They include one
hundred and sixty miles of track in the United States from Laredo to
Corpus Christi, Texas.

The main line of the system is the former National Railroad extending
from Laredo to the capital, a distance of eight hundred and thirty-nine
miles, several hundred miles shorter than the Central. It passes through
the important cities of Monterey, Saltillo, San Luis Potosi and Celaya.
Originally constructed as a narrow gauge line, it has been changed to
standard width throughout its entire length. The Mexican International
Railroad, which enters Mexico at Eagle Pass and runs through Torreon
to Durango with a branch to Monterey, has been added. The Interoceanic
Railway, whose main line connects the capital with Vera Cruz, passing
through Puebla, the third largest city in Mexico, is also now a part
of this system. At the present time this line is narrow gauge, but
preparations are now being made to widen it to standard gauge. Quite
recently the government purchased the Hidalgo Railroad, which extends
from the City of Mexico to Pachuca, State of Hidalgo. It is the intention
of the government to extend this line immediately to Tampico, thus making
a short and direct route to this port.

In December, 1906, the government announced the purchase of the Mexican
Central Railway, its only large competitor, and this road will be added
to the system known as the National Lines. The reasons for this purchase
were stated by Minister of Finance Limantour to be “the aggressive
attitude assumed by certain great railway systems in the United States.”
It was feared that the great railways of the United States would step
in and absorb this important line, and saddle upon the people the
trust evil. The Mexican Central is the largest railway system within
the republic and owns more than three thousand five hundred miles of
track. The main line extends from El Paso, Texas, to the capital in
a southeasterly direction a distance of one thousand two hundred and
twenty-four miles. This was the first road constructed to the United
States border and received the largest subsidy of any line, amounting to
$15,200 per mile. Construction work was begun in 1880 at both terminal
points and rushed to completion so that through trains were running
less than four years later. This made an average of nearly one mile for
each working day. It traverses sections rich in agriculture and mineral
resources and passes through many of the important cities. Among these
are Chihuahua, Torreon, Zacatecas, Aguas Calientes, Leon, Irapuato,
Celaya and Querétero. It reaches a population of several millions on the
table lands.

Two important branches of the main line run to the gulf port of Tampico,
which is second only in importance to Vera Cruz. One of these lines
branches off at Aguas Calientes passing through San Luis Potosi, and the
other at Torreon, passing through Monterey. At Irapuato a branch line
runs west to Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, and is being
extended through to Manzanillo, a good harbour on the Pacific coast. It
is expected that this road will be completed January, 1908, and will give
the capital what has long been needed—a direct route to the Pacific. The
difficulty and great cost of construction in reaching this coast has
delayed the various projected lines, for the drop from the high plateaus
to the sea level is very abrupt. It is estimated that the last hundred
miles of this extension will cost $5,000,000 in gold. Another branch of
this system extends south from the capital through ancient Cuernevaca to
the Balsas River, with an ultimate destination of Acapulco, the finest
harbour on the Pacific Coast of either North or South America. There are
also numerous smaller and less important feeders.

The Mexican Railway which connects the port of Vera Cruz with the
City of Mexico is the oldest railroad in the republic. It was first
incorporated under the empire in 1864 as the Imperial Mexican Railway and
exceedingly favourable concessions were granted. Owing to the political
disturbances it was not completed until 1873. It was built with English
capital and cost a fabulous sum. The monopoly which it held for years
enabled it to pay big returns to its owners for a long period and even
now its earnings compare favourably with our own western lines. This road
is noted as one of the most picturesque railways in the world, for in a
few hours one is transported from the high plateaus to the sea level.

[Illustration: ALONG THE MEXICAN SOUTHERN RAILWAY]

The Mexican Southern Railway is another English road extending from
Puebla south to Oaxaca, which was opened for traffic in 1893, a
distance of 227 miles. This road received a bonus of about $10,000,000
in government bonds, and well it needed such an inducement, for the
traveller wonders in passing over the line where the profit can come
from, as there are only a very few places of any size between the two
terminal points. It opens up a rich agricultural and mineral section
in the Valley of Oaxaca, and will probably develop into a profitable
property in the future. As the line runs through narrow ravines a great
part of the way, following streams, the traveller does not see the best
part of the country traversed.

The Southern Pacific has a branch which runs from Benson, Arizona, to
Guaymas, the chief port on the Gulf of California, passing through
Hermosillo, the capital of the State of Sonora, the home of the Yaqui
Indians. It passes through an intensely interesting country, possessing
a wealth of scenery and natural resources. This line is being extended
farther south, with an ultimate destination of Guadalajara or possibly
the capital city.

Another important link in the system of railroads in Mexico, and one
which is practically owned by the government is the Vera Cruz and Pacific
Railway. This road extends from Vera Cruz to Santa Lucrecia, a station on
the Tehuantepec National Railway which is described in another chapter.
A branch line also extends to Cordoba, there connecting with the Mexican
Railway, and forms what is at present the only all-rail route from the
capital to a Pacific port. This road runs through the heart of the
tropics and alternately passes over prairie and through tropical jungle.

A trip over this road is a revelation to the traveller who has never
visited a tropical land. No one except those who assisted in the work
fully appreciates the enormous difficulties that had to be overcome. I
doubt if even mountains present more perplexing problems in railroad
construction than these level prairies and swamps, where there is no
solid rock or gravel and the country is deluged with an annual rainfall
of from twelve to sixteen feet. The surface is a soft clay unfit for
roadbed or ballast. After heavy rains the ties and often the rails would
sink into it until completely covered. For a few years the road was
practically abandoned for several weeks during the heaviest rainfall.
The track would sometimes slip sideways, or in a cut the banks would
slide in and cover it. In the two hundred and forty-two miles of the main
line, the road crosses six large rivers, whose size is due to the amount
of rainfall rather than the extent of territory drained. These rivers
and many smaller streams require an average of more than one bridge for
each mile of track. The uncertainty and inefficiency of native help and
difficulty of getting skilled American labour to go there because of the
fear of tropical fevers, rendered the work of the contractor no easy
task. Even an American workman could not accomplish more than about half
as much as in a colder climate.

I made this trip when it required twenty-six hours to cover the two
hundred miles from Vera Cruz to Santa Lucrecia. No one asked the engineer
to go faster, and we considered ourselves in luck not to run off the
rails, which in many places resembled the track made by a wobbly wheel
after we had passed over it. It has now been placed in better condition,
and the run is made in much quicker time. No one must expect quick time
on Mexican railroads, for twenty-five miles an hour is fast travelling
and the average is nearer fifteen miles. The section traversed by this
road must inevitably be the richest part of Mexico in the near future,
now that it has an outlet. It passes through the region best adapted for
tropical plantations where the soil is inexhaustible.

One of the dreams of the late James G. Blaine was a Pan-American railroad
or all-rail route from the United States to the southernmost republics
of South America. President Arthur appointed a commission in 1884
which was sent to the republics of Central and South America along the
proposed route. At the first Pan-American conference held in Washington,
this projected railway was discussed at considerable length. All the
representatives were in favour of it and a survey was decided upon.
Several parties of surveyors were set to work at different points along
the proposed route, and a complete survey was made from Oaxaca, Mexico,
to the northernmost point reached by the railways of the Argentine
Republic. The proposition excited a great deal of interest and discussion
at the time, but little has been heard of it in recent years. There is
one man in Mexico, however, who has not lost sight of the great project,
and that man is J. M. Neeland. He organized a company to build the
Pan-American Railroad from San Geronimo, a station on the Tehuantepec
National Railroad to the boundary of Guatemala, a distance of about three
hundred miles. The Mexican government promised a subsidy of $10,000 gold,
per mile. He has followed the base of the mountain range in order to
lessen the expense of construction, and render it easy to connect with
the ports by means of branch lines. It follows as nearly as possible an
old military road constructed by the Spaniards.

Quietly and unostentatiously this line has been pushed forward until
it has been completed to Pijijiapam, only one hundred and twenty-six
miles from the Guatemala boundary, and a contract has been let for
its completion by the close of the year 1907. The importance of this
line to Mexico can hardly be overestimated, for it connects the seat
of government by an all-rail line with the most remote corner of the
republic. It also opens up the rich coffee lands in the State of Chiapas,
the best coffee territory in Mexico. The ports along this coast are all
open roadsteads without piers, and freight is carried to and from the
steamers in lighters. At one time a steamer on which I was a passenger
lay at San Benito, the most southerly Pacific port of Mexico and on the
line of this railway, three days in order to load a few thousand bags
of coffee. This part of the country has been so isolated heretofore
that it has never been developed to any extent. The completion of this
Pan-American railroad will greatly increase the influence of Mexico in
the little Republic of Guatemala, and will have a tendency to render that
country less turbulent. The promoters aim to continue this road through
all the republics of Central America, clear to the Isthmus of Panama.
They have already secured a concession with the promise of a good subsidy
from Guatemala, and will utilize a portion of a railroad now in operation
in that country. A remarkable fact in connection with this road is that
it is already meeting its operating expenses and fixed charges, which is
an unusual showing for a newly-built Mexican railroad.

The government is now endeavouring to have a railroad constructed from
some point on the Pan-American Railroad to connect with the railways of
Yucatan. This road and the other lines already under construction will
connect all parts of the republic with the bands of steel, with the
single exception of Lower California. It will not be many years before
this great plan of a great president will be a reality. Step by step
progress has been made but the improvement has been permanent. In some
places the innovation was not welcomed at first, because of extreme
conservatism. Now everyone reaps some benefit from it. Before the days of
railroads each community lived by itself, and the poor natives were at
the mercy of the rich plantation owners in the dry years which sometimes
occurred. Now, transportation is cheap and quick, and everyone can have
food at a reasonable cost. The paternal character of the government in
this respect was shown a few years ago, when the corn crop was a partial
failure and a “corner” was attempted by the dealers. The government
immediately removed the tariff, imported great quantities of grain, and
sold it to the people at cost. This could not have been done except for
the facilities afforded by the railway lines. The traffic does not seem
large, and there is only one train per day each way on most of the lines,
and on the branches this is frequently a mixed passenger and freight
train. The tonnage is increasing each year as the wants of the people
increase, and money to purchase things heretofore regarded as luxuries
becomes more abundant.

    NOTE TO REVISED EDITION. In 1911 the railway mileage of Mexico
    exceeded 15,000 miles. The Pan-American Railroad is now
    completed to Mariscal, on the Guatemala border. Work on the
    connecting link with the lines of that republic, only about
    thirty miles, is progressing, and it is estimated that within
    a year it will be possible to travel by rail from New York to
    Guatemala City. The Pan-American and the Vera Cruz and Pacific
    Railroads are now a part of the National Lines. The name of the
    latter has been changed to the Vera Cruz and Isthmus Railroad.
    The Manzanillo branch was completed almost on time. The
    extension of the Southern Pacific as far as the city of Tepic,
    and the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway are described in
    a succeeding chapter.



CHAPTER XVII

RELIGIOUS FORCES


The Aztecs, who originally believed in one supreme invisible creator,
Taotl, adopted the gods of conquered races, like the Romans of old, and
became polytheists. The Toltecs, one of the vanquished people, were
nature worshippers, and made offerings of fruits and flowers to their
deities. After their defeat, the peaceful gods of the Toltecs, who took
pleasure in the offerings of the fruits of the soil, soon took a place by
the side of the terrible god of war of the Aztecs, Huitzilopoxtli, and
shared with him the offerings of human sacrifices. This repulsive deity
is portrayed as a hideous idol with broad face, wide mouth and terrible
eyes, but was covered with jewels of gold and pearls and girt with golden
serpents. At the altars hung censers of incense and braziers filled with
the hearts of the victims offered in sacrifice. It is said that this god
was ministered to by more than five thousand priests.

When the Spanish conquerors came, the policy of Cortez left the Mexicans
no alternative but the adoption of the Christian religion. “Conversion”
and “Baptism” became interchangeable terms and the baptized pagan was
immediately considered a good Christian even though the conversion
only followed the judicious use of the fire and rack. One of the
priests boasted that his “ordinary day’s work was from ten to twenty
thousand souls.” Within a few years after the conquest baptism had been
administered to more than four million Indians. Dreams of avarice swayed
the minds of the conquering legions, for it was believed that from the
unknown, western world was to come the gold that was to make every man a
Crœsus. But first these ungodly people must be converted to Romanism. As
the unlettered Indians could not understand the real spirit and meaning
of this new religion, visible symbols and pictures were substituted for
the former idols. Humboldt, the traveller so often quoted because of his
careful research, says: “The introduction of the Romish religion had no
other effect upon the Mexicans than to substitute new ceremonies and
symbols for the rites of a sanguinary worship. Dogma has not succeeded
dogma, but only ceremony to ceremony. I have seen them marked and
adorned with tinkling bells, perform savage dances around the altar while
a monk of St. Francis elevated the Host.” It soon became a religious duty
for the Spaniard returning from Europe to bring paintings and statues of
saints to adorn the newly-erected churches, and holy relics of the saints
to place therein. In this way these cruel invaders no doubt sought to
satisfy their consciences for their outrages upon a mild and unresisting
people. It is little wonder that the Indians could not fully appreciate
the humanity of the lowly Nazarene when represented by such ferocious
invaders.

A few of the Aztec gods blossomed out as Christian saints soon after the
Conquest, through the ingenious schemes of the early priests who adopted
this method to make the new religion accepted. They brought with them
into the Roman Church the particular characteristics and powers which
they were credited with as gods. As for example, the goddess of the rains
who was much worshipped in the regions of little rain can be recognized
in Our Lady of the Mists, or Our Lady of the Rains of the Mexican church.
These saints are appealed to for the much-needed rain and are believed
to have the same power to bring it which they, as Aztec or Toltec gods,
were supposed to have had. In many places there are shrines erected to
these saints of the Church who are supposed to have power over the rain.
It has been proven that, in most instances, in Aztec times, a temple
existed on the same spot dedicated to the goddess of the rains or mists,
as the case might be.

These schemes of miraculous appearances upon scenes already sacred
made the transition from the native ceremonies to the ritual of the
Catholic Church easy to a people who were accustomed to outward show and
symbolism. The striking ceremonies of the Catholic Church, as practised
in Mexico, and its impressive services in an unknown tongue, seemed in
harmony with the rites of the Aztecs, and it was not hard for Cortez to
force his religion upon the simple and superstitious mind of the poor,
conquered Indian, who was more interested in form than sentiment. The
religion of the Roman Church in Mexico is not free from pagan features
even to this day. As one writer expresses it “paganism was baptized,
Christianity paganized.” Outward display means more than spirituality and
piety with the ignorant who constitute a very large proportion of the
population.

One can still recognize in the rites of the Catholic Church, as practised
to-day in Mexico, a tinge of the Aztec worship. A noted French Catholic
prelate, Abbe Domenech, in 1867 wrote of that church as follows: “Mexican
faith is a dead faith. The abuse of external ceremonies, the facility
of reconciling the devil with God, the absence of internal exercise of
piety, have killed the faith in Mexico. The idolatrous character of
Mexican Catholicism is a fact well known to all travellers. The worship
of saints and madonnas so absorbs the devotion of the people that little
time is left to think about God. The Indians go to hear mass with their
poultry and vegetables, which they are carrying to market. The gobble
of the turkeys, the crowing of the cocks, the mewing of the cats, the
chirping of the birds in their nests in the ceiling, and the flea-bites
rendered meditation impossible to me, unaccustomed to live in such a
menagerie.”

[Illustration: WAYSIDE SHRINE WITH AN OFFERING OF FLOWERS]

In remote caves of mountain regions it is claimed, and, I believe,
truthfully, that the ancient deities are still worshipped. It is no
infrequent occurrence to see a bouquet of flowers before the image of the
virgin in the churches or wayside shrines. Sometimes even offerings of
wheat or fruits are found, the gift of some poor peon in whose mind the
conception of the Saviour and his mission on earth is very vague. Several
writers assert that they have personally seen Indians on their way to
the mountains to sacrifice lambs, chickens and flowers to their gods,
thus proving that the grosser forms of paganism have not been stamped
out entirely. The priests, of course, do not approve of this, and try in
every way to stop these practices, but without success.

The Catholic Church used to be all-powerful in Mexico. It held the wealth
and the learning, and the priests preyed upon the people as well as
prayed for them. They were taxed to the utmost, and “Pay or pray” was the
motto affixed to the cross by the priests. Rich men gave freely of their
substance. Poor peons—and they are vastly in the majority—went clothed in
rags that the Church might be benefited. The favourite method was by the
sale of indulgences. General Thompson, United States Minister to Mexico
in 1845, wrote as follows: “As a means of raising money, I would not give
the single institution of the Catholic religion (in Mexico) of masses and
indulgences for the benefit of the souls of the dead for the power of
taxation possessed by any government. I remember that my washerwoman once
asked me to lend her two dollars. I asked her what she wanted with it.
She told me that there was a particular mass to be said on that day which
relieved the souls in purgatory from ten thousand years’ torture and that
she wished to secure the benefit for her mother.” It is like the harangue
that so aroused Martin Luther: “The very moment the money clicks on the
bottom of this chest the soul escapes from purgatory and flies to Heaven!
Bring your money, bring money, bring money!”

Shrines and chapels were so numerous that the true believer passed
through the streets with head uncovered and hat in hand, for fear
that he might pass one unobserved and not remove his head covering as
piety demanded. During the latter years of Spanish rule in Mexico, the
Church became so enormously rich that it was reported to have in its
possession one-third of all the wealth in Mexico. In addition to the
power the Church naturally held, this immense wealth gave its leaders
great prestige in governmental affairs, for wealth everywhere commands
power and respect among those in authority. At one time the clergy held
property to the value of about $180,000,000, yielding an annual income of
$12,000,000, according to reliable authorities. Some have estimated the
wealth at more than $600,000,000.

It had secured control not only of the wealth, but also much of the best
agricultural land within the republic, owning eight hundred _haciendas_
and more than twenty-two thousand city lots. All this was tied up and
became useless and non-productive. The Church used its great influence to
oppose all progress. The opposition finally broke forth, and the immense
wealth of convents, shrines and monasteries was poured forth with lavish
hand in what the Church considered a holy war against heretical ideas
and persons. Reformers set envious eyes upon this property, and numerous
attempts were made to dispossess the Church of it. An edict aimed at the
power of the Church was issued by Commonfort in 1857, but the Indian
reformer and president, Juarez, was the first to actually accomplish the
separation of church and state several years later. The establishment
of the empire with Maximilian as Emperor was simply a reaction, and
an attempt to establish a government in which the interests of the
Church would again be paramount. It is not much wonder that the native
population yielded so readily to the overthrow of the priestly power. In
accomplishing the complete overthrow of church and state, Mexico only
did what Italy did a few years later, and what France is endeavouring
to do at the present time. Even in Spain, the handwriting on the walls
seems to point to the same ultimate result. And yet it is strange to see
a nation so rigidly and even unmercifully regulating a church to which
ninety-five per cent. of the people belong.

The reactionary movement on the part of the Church under the guise of
French intervention failed. The reform anti-clerical movement prevailed
once more, even though opposed by the enormous wealth of the Church. The
greater portion of the property once owned by the Church has been lost.
The country abounds in ruined churches and convents. The law went so far
as to prohibit the Church from holding the title to property, and if it
wished to own property, it must be in the names of individuals. Priests
were forbidden, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, to appear in the
streets in their clerical dress. Religious processions outside the walls
of the church, or churchyard, were prohibited. Civil ceremonies were
made obligatory to render a marriage valid. Sisters of Charity and the
Jesuits were sent out of the country, and even the ringing of bells was
regulated by law. It has now lost not only its property but its prestige
as well.

The property was confiscated, or “denounced,” and sold for beggarly sums
in numerous instances. Many hotels are now located in former churches or
convents, and schools and barracks innumerable occupy former homes of
nuns. Even the famous prison of Belem in the City of Mexico, where more
than three thousand offenders (most of them justly no doubt) have been
incarcerated at times, was the old convent of that name; and the military
prison, Santiago de Tlalteloco, was one of the oldest churches in Mexico,
having been founded by the first viceroy. Protestant services are held
in a number of places that were former Catholic churches, the buildings
having been purchased by these organizations, or the use of them granted
by the authorities. The rich silver plate and the altar rails were looted
from the sacred edifices, or were sold for small sums by the officers.

For many years Mexico has thus gone along the line of reform. The
ambition of the Church has been held in check but not killed. They are
regaining some of their former power, and recovering much of their former
property, so it is claimed by good authority.[4] The average Mexican
is superstitious. He is boastful and bold in times of peace, but craven
when the time of trial comes. Consequently, when sick and about to die,
he will send for the priest, no matter how he may have fought the Church
when in health. The priests, or some of them at least, claiming that the
Catholic Church, as the chosen of the Lord, has a lien on all earthly
goods, refuse to administer the sacrament without some restitution. If
the dying man owns a confiscated church property, he must restore its
value before he can get a clear title to a home in Heaven. With the
persistence characteristic of the Mexican Catholic priests, they are
ferreting out their former property and again accumulating wealth for
their beloved Church. Their fees are utterly out of proportion to the
earning capacity of the people. Marriage costs $14.00, baptism $2.25
and plain mass $6.00. Many of the poor peons are obliged to forego the
services of the Church because of these high charges, for all services
must be paid in advance.

They are also openly disregarding the established laws in some of the
restrictions imposed. I travelled for two days on the railroad with the
Bishop of Tehuantepec who wore his purple robes of office all the time.
At nearly every station priests met him, and he was given a continuous
ovation. A few months ago, according to a Mexican periodical, a well
known priest, in defiance of the law which prohibits public religious
processions, authorized such a procession, and blessed at the altar
those who arrived with it. In many of the more remote districts the
law requiring marriage ceremonies to be made by civil authorities is
completely disregarded. The priests tell the people that the religious
ceremony is all that is necessary. Although the Church upholds such
marriages, in law they are absolutely null and void, and it is a deceit
upon the contracting parties. Some priests go so far as to tell their
people that the civil marriage is positively impious. And yet nothing
is done to punish the above violations of the established laws. The
government probably does not consider that these infractions of the
strict letter of the law have reached a serious phase.

If the Roman Church of Mexico to-day, with its wealth confiscated, its
public voice muzzled, its political powers annulled, has still power so
that it can openly violate some of the fundamental laws of the country,
we can have some faint idea of its power when it ruled the country with
an iron hand. Those who see trouble ahead because of the avariciousness
of some of the clergy, are fond of quoting the old Spanish proverb “The
devil lurks behind the cross.” Nevertheless, I believe that the clergy
in Mexico to-day are superior to those who served prior to the change in
status. Many of them are noble men striving to uplift the people and aid
the government in its campaign for the enlightenment of the masses. The
strife has purified them and they think less of the perquisites than the
duties of their office. The well meaning priest no doubt suffers for the
sins of his predecessors as well as those of his contemporaries who are
blinded by the past glory of the Church. The Church as an institution is
probably to some extent the victim of the ignorance and fanatical zeal
of its early founders in Mexico. The Church will thrive far more when
placed on the same footing as all churches are in the United States, and
people and priest accept that condition. As one prominent American priest
has recently said in commenting on the struggle in France: “Everywhere
that church and state are united, the church is in bondage. Nowhere is
the church so free and untrammelled, or so progressive, as in the United
States.”

The churches in all the cities are numerous and their capacity far
greater than the number of those attending. Puebla, the City of the
Angels, so called because of the many miraculous visits of the angels
who even, on their first visit, measured off the city and fixed the site
of some churches, is called the city of churches as it has the greatest
number in proportion to the population of any city in the republic, many
of them being erected in honour of the various angelic visitations. The
City of Mexico contains the largest and most pretentious church building
in the new world—the cathedral. It is also one of the largest church
edifices in the world. This grand cathedral begun in 1573 was ready for
service about three-quarters of a century later but the towers were not
completed until 1791. It is four hundred and twenty-six feet long and
almost two hundred feet wide with walls of great thickness, and reaches a
height of one hundred and seventy-five feet in the dome. The towers are a
little more than two hundred feet high. Then adjoining this building is
another church, the Sagrario Metropolitano, which, to all appearances, is
a part of the main structure, although of an entirely different and less
beautiful style of architecture.

Within these two edifices were concentrated for centuries the pomp and
ceremony of the Church of Rome and within their walls much of Mexico’s
history was made. It is still the headquarters of the church party
while across the plaza is the National Palace, the official home of the
government which conquered in the long struggle between the two forces.
The estimated cost of the cathedral is $2,000,000, but that represents
only a fraction of the actual cost if the labour is figured at a fair
rate and the material had all been purchased at market value. There are
some paintings by famous artists on the walls and dome. A balustrade
surrounds the choir which is made of composite metal of gold, silver and
copper and is so valuable that an offer of a speculative American to
replace it with one of equal weight in solid silver was refused. Within
the walls there are fourteen chapels dedicated to the various saints,
and candles are kept constantly burning before the images, and in these
chapels are kept many gruesome relics of these same saints. The remains
of many of the former viceroys and some of the other noted men in Mexican
history lie buried here. This, the greatest church in the western world,
is also built on the foundations of the greatest pagan temple of the
continent—the imposing _Teocalli_ of the Aztecs. From the top of the
towers we can look upon the same valley that Cortez viewed when Montezuma
took him by the hand after ascending the great altar, and pointed out
the various places of interest. The lakes have receded, the architecture
is different, but our admiring eyes see the same majestic hills on every
side.

Listening to the bells in the towers of this cathedral, once so powerful,
one, who is a “dreamer of dreams,” can almost imagine them lamenting
the changed times in the words of the last poem written by the poet
Longfellow:

    “Is then the old faith dead,”
    They say, “and in its stead
    Is some new faith proclaimed,
    That we are forced to remain
    Naked to sun and rain,
    Unsheltered and ashamed?

    “Oh bring us back once more
    The vanished days of yore,
    When the world with faith was filled;
    Bring back the fervid zeal,
    The hearts of fire and steel,
    The hands that believe and build.

    “Then from our tower again
    We will send over land and main
    Our voices of command,
    Like exiled kings who return
    To their thrones, and the people learn
    That the Priest is lord of the land!”

The very first movement on the part of Protestant organizations to
evangelize Mexico was made by the American Bible Society when they sent
out one of their representative with the American army in 1846. This man
distributed several thousand copies of the scriptures between Vera Cruz
and the capital which afterwards bore fruit. A few years later a woman,
Miss Matilda Rankin, who had been engaged in missionary work in Texas,
crossed over the border and held services in Monterey. In 1862 a Baptist
missionary, Rev. James Hickey, also began work in Monterey. However, no
organized effort was made by Protestant bodies until the years from 1869
to 1880, when missionaries were sent by the following denominations:
Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South,
Presbyterian, Baptist, Christian and Congregational. Bishop H. C. Riley
obtained an old church for the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church and
Rev. William Butler purchased a part of the convent of San Francisco, in
the heart of the city, for the Methodist Episcopal Church.

_Dios y libertad_ had been the watchword of the reform movement, but it
had not been put into practice until the time of President Juarez, who
encouraged mission work, and exerted himself to protect the missionaries
from fanatics. However frequent attacks upon these workers were made
in provincial towns and one foreign missionary, Rev. J. L. Stephens,
of the Congregational Church, was slain at Ahualuco in 1874. A number
of native converts and preachers have met with serious, and even fatal
injuries, but no other Americans have been killed. President Diaz has
also encouraged these ministers when they were downhearted. Rev. William
Butler quotes an interview which several missionaries had with him in
which the President expressed himself as follows: “I have seen this land
as none of you ever saw it, in degradation, with everything in the line
of toleration and freedom to learn. I have watched its rise and progress
to a better condition. We are not yet all we ought to be and hope to be;
but we are not what we once were; we have risen as a people, and are now
rising faster than ever. My advice is, do not be discouraged. Keep on
with your work, avoiding topics of irritation and preaching your gospel
in its own spirit.” The president has no warmer supporters than the
Protestant missionaries and their little bands of adherents.

Their numbers to-day after thirty years of aggressive work seem small,
as the ten Protestant denominations who maintain missions in Mexico
only claim about twenty-five thousand members, or about one hundred
thousand adherents including those who attend the Sunday-school and
other services. The Presbyterians are working in fourteen different
states. They have fifty organized churches and two hundred and twenty-two
outstations which are served by twenty-one foreign missionaries and
one hundred and one native workers. The Methodist Episcopal Church has
twenty-nine missionaries in the field and one hundred and twenty-two
native workers, and is holding services at more than a hundred different
places. The various denominations have divided up the field and are
working together in harmony. The Methodists, for instance, are working in
Guanajuato, Leon, Pachuca, Puebla, Silao, and Oaxaca. The Presbyterians
have centred their efforts in Aguas Calientes, Zacatecas, Saltillo, San
Luis Potosi and Jalapa. All denominations have missions in the City of
Mexico. The Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists
have their own publishing houses and issue periodicals and a great
deal of printed matter in Spanish. There are in all about two hundred
and fifty foreign missionaries in Mexico serving about seven hundred
congregations. Many of these workers are medical missionaries who are
doing a vast amount of good, and others are teachers who are instructing
the youth. The Protestant bodies own property in Mexico valued at nearly
two million dollars.

An era of at least tolerance toward Protestants is dawning in this land,
and religious liberty is an actual fact. The Young Men’s Christian
Association has a strong organization in the capital. A fund has recently
been raised to erect a splendid new building for the association. The
President and his cabinet have also attended some special memorial
services in the Protestant churches. This may seem a small thing, but
a quarter of a century ago it would have been incredible. Some of the
broad-minded Catholic clergy are even displaying a kindlier feeling
toward the Protestant workers. It may not be many years before Catholic
clergy and Protestant ministers may unite together in working for a
common cause—the betterment of the morals and conditions of the people.



CHAPTER XVIII

PASSING OF THE LAWLESS


A rude wooden cross set up in a pile of stones is one of the striking
features of Mexican landscape that is frequently seen. As the train
whirls along through a narrow pass, high up on the mountain sides the
cross is seen outlined against the sky; or, if you are pursuing your
journey by horse or mule, in the remote districts away from the railways,
your reverie is suddenly interrupted by coming upon one of these silent
sentinels unawares. These crosses are mute reminders of an age that is
passing away. Each one marks the spot where a murder has taken place in
times past. It is an appeal for the good Catholic to mutter a prayer
for the soul of the murdered one, who was thus without preparation
thrust into the world beyond. There was a time, and that not more than
a generation ago, when the murderous and lawless classes were numerous
in Mexico. The Mexican bandit was so much feared, that, even to this
day, some hesitate to travel in that country, and many more make walking
arsenals of themselves before turning their faces toward our southern
neighbour.

If the traditionary history that has come down to us is to be believed,
these robber clans can trace their lineage back to the peregrinating
merchants of the Aztecs, and Toltecs. The rich merchant of those days
travelled over the country visiting the various cities with his wares.
For self protection they were obliged to carry with them a large force of
armed retainers. This knowledge of their own power led them to violence.
If, for any reason, these merchants became angered at a town, or, if the
people refused to trade with them, they would attack it, pillage it and
carry off the inhabitants to be sold as slaves in other remote places, or
hold them for ransom. This course generally proved far more remunerative
than the more prosaic occupation of barter and trade. It was indeed a
strong town in those days that could afford to refuse to trade with some
of the powerful merchants. If one trader was not strong enough himself,
he could easily enlist the assistance of another of his class, as the
loot and slaves would be sufficient to remunerate both very well for the
undertaking.

Later came the freebooters, who, in early Spanish days, had things very
much their own way. Although many of these were well known, they would
visit the cities armed to the teeth and no one would dare to molest them.
It is even claimed, and with good reason, that many officials were in
league with these knights of the road, and gave them information, and
assisted them in their plans to waylay wealthy inhabitants. So long as
the outlaws did not interfere with matters of government, their immunity
was practically secure. There is one city in the northern part of Mexico
named Catorce, the Spanish numeral for fourteen, because, for a long
time, it was the stronghold of fourteen of the boldest, bravest and worst
bandits that Mexico ever produced, who terrorized the country round about
and could not be captured or subdued.

After independence, came a series of revolutions and uprisings for more
than a half century. The bandits then became guerillas, fighting on
whichever side offered the greatest advantage. They would loot a church,
or rob the hacienda of some wealthy landowner, with equal cheerfulness.
The place or person robbed depended upon whether the guerillas were
enlisted in the cause of the clericals, or anti-clericals. By reason
of the many turmoils and fights that took place, these guerillas became
a numerous and powerful class with their rendezvous in the mountains,
which, in no part of Mexico, are far distant. Before the advent of the
railroads and telegraph it was a difficult matter to cope with these
robber bands in Mexico because roads were lacking, and their haunts were
almost inaccessible. This was one of the first problems attacked by
President Diaz when he came into power, and he did it with the boldness,
originality and dash for which he was noted.

This new leader found the army a disorganized band of guerillas led by
a few men, not always over-scrupulous, and many parts of the country
overrun by bands of outlaws with whom the local authorities were utterly
unable to cope. Having some veteran troops after his many campaigns, Diaz
sent them after the bandits whenever opportunity afforded. They were
hunted and trailed into their mountain fastnesses. The soldiers were
instructed never to take captives. A little heap of fresh dirt, or a few
stones, marked the place where a living and breathing bandit had once
stood. This war of extermination made welcome to many the proposition
of Diaz. This was that he would furnish employment to those outlaws who
should surrender, and would grant to them protection. The President
being known as a man of his word, this proclamation had its effect and
large numbers formerly under the ban of law, surrendered.

[Illustration: A _RURALE_]

From this class of men the first companies of _rurales_ were formed.
Finding it was more profitable, or at least safer, to be in favour with
this aggressive government than under its ban, they willingly entered
this service. These men were brave and thoroughly familiar with all the
mountain retreats and haunts of the outlaw bands. They hunted down their
former confederates until a live bandit was a rare specimen. Travelling
once more became secure, and now there are few places in Mexico where
it is not perfectly safe for a traveller to journey. The companies of
rurales, of which there are many, form one of the most effective forces
for preserving order ever devised by any government. Like the famous
_guardia civil_ of Spain, the rurales patrol the remote mountain trails
and great plains of the central plateaus, and are in reality a body of
rural police. Many a lonely traveller has been made glad by the sight
of the gray uniform of this band. They are generally kind hearted, and
will do everything in their power for a foreigner. Their uniform is
the typical riding costume of the country, and differs from the French
appearance of the uniforms of the regular army. They are fine horsemen,
expert in the use of pistol and carbine, and form one of the most
picturesque cavalry bodies in the world.

There is no sickly sentimentality wasted upon law breakers, and the
highwayman, or robber, gets little sympathy. Few criminals get a second
opportunity to commit their outrages through the pardoning process. The
old _ley fuga_, or law of attempted escape, which was in force under
Spanish rule, under which Indians or slaves attempting to flee were shot,
was revived. Orders were promulgated to shoot highwaymen on sight, and
all other prisoners if escape was attempted. Few attempts to escape are
now made by prisoners, for the guards have a reckless way of sending
bullets after fleeing prisoners, so that no chains are needed to secure
them. The bullets are swift and any one in custody, even though held as
a witness, will be followed by the quick, death-dealing messengers, if
an attempt to escape is made. Gangs of convicts may be seen in various
places working on the streets, or on the roads, under military guard but
without shackle. The only report necessary in the event a prisoner is
killed is that he attempted to escape. It may be a harsh proceeding,
but it saves the state a great deal of money, and conviction is sure.
Furthermore, it relieves judge, jury and prison officials of much hard
work and annoyance.

A few years ago the Mexican army consisted of a few thousand irregular,
nondescript soldiers so common in Spanish-American countries. Such men it
was who placed Porfirio Diaz in power in 1876, the same year that we were
celebrating the first centennial of our independence. In promoting peace
this man of Mexico has not forgotten the arts of war. The army has been
improved until it has ceased to be made up of the comic-opera type of the
barefooted, half-naked soldier, and is now a well fed, well equipped, and
well clothed organization to which Mexicans can point with pride. To the
American eye the soldiers appear rather indifferent and insignificant,
because of their smaller stature and brown skin, which reveals the fact
that the regular soldier is generally drawn from the lower classes of
Mexicans.

Although Mexico might be termed a military nation, as military service
is made obligatory by the law of the country, yet in times of peace this
service is not enforced. It is said that the majority of the enlistments
are not even voluntary, but that recruits are drawn from the ranks of
those who are persistent law breakers—those guilty of petty criminal
offences which we would term misdemeanours. Many of these peon soldiers
who before enlistment never knew what it was to have regular meals and
wear clean clothes every day, leave the service after a few years much
better citizens, and possessing a better education, for schools are
maintained in connection with all the barracks where instruction is given
in reading, writing and mathematics. The pay is about forty cents per
day, in Mexican silver, and is good pay for that country when you take
into consideration the fact that the soldier has absolutely no expenses
except for such luxuries as he may want.

The standing army of Mexico consists of thirty thousand men and three
thousand two hundred officers. Of this number the infantry number
twenty-two thousand six hundred, cavalry five thousand five hundred,
artillery two thousand, engineers and other branches of the service
making up the remainder. This gives a soldier for every five hundred
inhabitants, as compared with one for every fifteen hundred inhabitants
in the United States. Both infantry and cavalry are equipped with the
Spanish Mauser rifles and carbines. The headquarters of the army
are in the City of Mexico, and several battalions of infantry and
regiments of cavalry are stationed there at all times. The country
is divided into a number of districts, at the headquarters of each
of which are stationed large bodies of troops. Nearly every town of
any size has a _commandancia_ where a few troops are quartered. This
general distribution of the military forces has been made with a prudent
foresight in order to prevent any local uprising.

[Illustration: ARMY HEADQUARTERS, CITY OF MEXICO]

In addition to the regular standing army, there are a number of armed
forces which would swell the number of available troops in time of war.
First and foremost are the _Rurales_ who number about three thousand five
hundred by actual count, but double that number in effectiveness. The
Fiscal Guards number about one thousand and are in the revenue service.
The police of the states and cities are compelled to undergo military
drill also, and could be drafted into the army as trained soldiers. These
several forces would constitute another army almost equal in number to
the regular standing army. Militia organizations have been provided for
by law similar to those organizations in our own country, but as yet
little has been done. When these plans are perfected, it is designed
to have the total war footing number a force of one hundred and fifty
thousand drilled and disciplined men.

The President of Mexico is the commander-in-chief of the army and navy.
The “West Point of Mexico” is located next to the presidential residence
and is called the Chapultepec Military Academy. It was founded in 1824.
During the war of 1847 Chapultepec was successfully stormed by the
American forces, but heroically defended by the cadets. A monument now
stands at the foot of the hill in memory of those cadets who fell in
that engagement, and a graceful tribute is paid to the memory of those
youthful patriots on each fourth of July, when wreaths are placed on
the monument by the American residents of the capital at the same time
that they decorate the graves of American soldiers who are buried near
the city. This school now ranks high as a military school, and more than
one-third of the commissioned officers of the army are graduates of this
institution. The graduate leaves this school with the rank of lieutenant.
The student must bind himself to serve seven years in the army, if he
takes the technical courses, and, if he is discharged, or refuses to
serve, must repay to the government $16 for each month he remained
in the academy. If war should occur, all retired graduates would be
compelled to report for service.

Not a generation ago the capital itself was the home of innumerable
thieves. In fact, a goodly percentage of the people were either thieves,
robbers or beggars. These were drawn from the _mestizo_ class, and formed
a picturesque but filthy group of blackguards. They would make love to
any one’s pocket, and argue with one another at the point of a long,
sharp knife. Each one carried a knife and revolver. “Unfortunate men,
women and children, the legitimate heritage of wrong, oppression and
misgovernment, thronged the streets begging in daytime, and committing
petty robberies by night. They slept by hundreds in doorways, on benches
in public parks, in ruined houses, and in the dirtiest of apartments. A
score or more of filthy beings of all ages and both sexes would sleep
together in one small room reeking with the miasma that rose from sewers
and unclean cobble-stone pavements.”

Vice was the natural outcome of such conditions. All natural feelings of
delicacy and shame were deadened. Morality was unknown, and they lived
like animals rather than human beings. Marriages were unthought of, and
children knew not their parents, for even their mothers deserted them. If
not deserted, they were frequently maimed and turned out into the street
to beg. Pulque and mescal added its touch to the picture. Disfiguring
diseases were added, and the name _leperos_ attached to them. Brantz
Mayer, a writer on Mexico, has given the following definition of the
_lepero_. “Blacken a man in the sun, let his hair grow long and tangled
and become filled with vermin; let him plod about the streets in all
kinds of dirt for years, and never know the use of a brush, or towel, or
water, even, except in storms; let him put on a pair of leather breeches
at twenty and wear them until forty without change or ablution; and over
all place a torn and blackened hat and a tattered blanket begrimed with
abominations; let him have wild eyes and shining teeth, features pinched
by famine into sharpness, and breast bared and browned; combine all these
in your imagination and you have a recipe for a Mexican _lepero_.”

These _leperos_ were the thieving class. They frequented all parts of the
city. Even the churches were not exempt and you were just as likely to
be robbed by some apparently devout, kneeling worshipper saying his _ave
marias_ in a sacred edifice as on the street. In the less frequented
streets many hold-ups took place, and the bodies of those murdered would
be found on the pavement in the morning. It was hardly safe to move about
the street after night had fallen. The thieves’ market was well known and
did a thriving business. Here were the pawn-brokers who did a profitable
business acting as “fences” for the thieves. Many instances are told by
foreigners who were robbed, and, in a few hours, found their property
exposed for sale in this market. They were obliged to pay considerable
sums to recover their own property.

All these types are now disappearing, and even the beggars are less
numerous. The former lawless _leperos_ are now seen in the poor venders
of lottery tickets who crowd every public place. Begging is forbidden
in most parts of the city. Vice has not disappeared, it is true, nor
has it in American cities. The poor peon still gets intoxicated and is
dirty, but he is more law-abiding than formerly. Conditions, which are
the result of neglect and misrule of centuries, can only be overcome
entirely by education, immigration and the infusion of saner ideas, and
this is a gradual process. A whole city, or a whole country, can not
be plowed up and re-sown in a season, as the corn fields of last year
were transformed into the waving fields of golden grain this year. A
generation is even too short a time. The change actually wrought has been
almost a miracle. Work can now be had by all who are willing to work,
and the government is making strenuous efforts to get rid of the idle
classes. It is a long and hard task, but another decade under present
conditions will work wonders.

An excellent police system is found in the capital and all the other
cities. A policeman is not hard to find. One is stationed at nearly every
street intersection. During the day he stands like a statue, occasionally
leaning against a door post. At night the policeman brings a lantern and
a blanket, and sets the lantern in the centre of the crossing, while he
stands beside it or not far away. The joker says the lantern is intended
to aid the thief in avoiding the officer of the law. Sometimes after the
people quit passing, he may lean up against a building and fall asleep,
but you can locate his vicinity by the lantern. As the windows are all
heavily barred, and the doors are heavy oaken affairs that it would take
a stick of dynamite to move, and as fires are infrequent, his lot is
not a very hard one. The police are very numerous, however, because the
government wants to keep informed in order that a revolutionary movement
may not gain any headway. One seldom hears of knock-downs now, and pocket
picking is about the only kind of robbery.

These guardians of the peace are generally called _serenos_. This name
clings to them from the old Spanish watchman whose duty it was to call
out the time of the night and state of the weather. As this was usually
clear, the watchman would say “_tiempo sereno_” meaning “weather clear.”
From the frequent repetition of this term the watchmen were dubbed
_serenos_. The Mexican _sereno_ is generally a faithful and reliable
official and is obliging to a stranger. They have made the streets in the
City of Mexico as safe as in Paris. The senses of sight and smell may be
offended more often, but purse and life are just as secure.



CHAPTER XIX

THE STORY OF THE REPUBLIC


There is a strange fascination about the history of Mexico, and no one
can thoroughly understand the country or the people without a little
insight into those stirring events that preceded the establishment of the
present republic. With the increasing friendly regard and the growing
commercial intercourse between the two countries, a few pages devoted
to this subject will not be amiss; and the prospective traveller, as
well as the one who has already travelled in that country, will find an
additional interest in Mexico and the Mexicans.

However we may feel inclined to criticize Cortez, the fact remains that
he thoroughly subjugated the country, and presented to Spain the fairest
jewel of her domain. Having been made the first governor of New Spain,
he was too busy with fresh conquests and the task of keeping order to
make a successful ruler. In order to reform the various abuses that had
grown up, and represent in every way possible the person of the king,
King Charles V sent the first viceroy in the autumn of 1535. This first
of a long line of viceroys, reaching down to the year 1821, was named
Antonio de Mendoza, himself of noble descent, a man of ability, and one
who had at heart the best interests of the colonists and the welfare
of the Indians. The latter had been subjected to many humiliations and
hardships all of which were removed by him, and they were encouraged in
the cultivation of the lands.

The colonists themselves were a source of great trouble for they were
mostly adventurers and were not, like the early American colonists, men
who were seeking religious liberty. The arm of the church was stretched
just as strongly in new Spain as in the land of their birth, and to the
religious orders was due in great measure the firm foundation upon which
the Spanish government was established. During the rule of this man and
his successor, Velasco, the country prospered, agriculture was stimulated
and a number of industries suitable to the climate of the country
encouraged.

At the close of the sixteenth century, Spain underwent great changes. The
line of able rulers had passed away, and the government fell into the
hands of profligates who were favourites of the reigning sovereign. The
line of viceroys continued in rotation, and most of them were fair men
who probably governed the best they knew how, but their knowledge on that
subject was not very great. They were poor rulers when compared with the
first two above mentioned. The church retained its firm grasp. As one
writer has put it, during the first century of Spanish rule the church
was a blessing to the country, during the second an indifferent quantity
and during the third an actual menace. The inquisition—that terrible
institution—had been established in Mexico as early as 1570. The first
_auto-da-fé_ was celebrated in 1574, when “there perished twenty-one
pestilent Lutherans.” Indians were exempt from this institution and it
was only aimed at heretics of other nations. Large numbers were burned in
the capital and other cities. In Puebla, the old house of the inquisition
was remodelled within the last half-century, and a number of walled-up
cells opened in which skeletons were found—no doubt remains of victims
who had been buried alive. The inquisition was not formally abolished
until the beginning of the last century, just prior to the beginning of
the movement for independence. Even this concession, and the promise
of correcting other abuses, did not stop the growing discontent, for
generations had grown up who had few ties linking them to the mother
country; who had intermarried with native races; and who would be
satisfied with nothing but complete severance of their relations.

The beginning of the nineteenth century opened with a feeling of unrest
in all European nations and their colonies. When Napoleon overturned
monarchies, the idea of the divine right of kings received a shock.
Among the countries thus affected was Spain, which had dropped down from
the high pedestal it had formerly occupied. The eyes of the people of
Mexico were opened by the events in Europe, and also by the successful
revolution of the American colonies. All the offices of profit in Mexico
were held by Spaniards, and the policy of the mother country toward her
dependents was well expressed by one of the viceroys as follows: “Let
the people of these dominions learn once for all that they were born
to be silent and to obey, and not to discuss nor to have opinions in
political affairs.” The spirit of revolution and liberty was in the air
and restraint became more and more galling. The events leading to the
independence of Mexico, and the stirring times subsequent thereto, can
best be treated by a glance at the men who were in the limelight during
the various periods.

When Miguel Hidalgo, curate of the little village of Dolores, sounded the
“grito” of independence by ringing the bell of the parish church early on
the morning of the 16th of September, 1810, a struggle for independence
was started that lasted for eleven years, and during which much of the
soil of Mexico was crimsoned with the blood of those slain in battle
or executed by the authorities as traitors. At the outset no people
were less prepared for such a contest. They knew nothing of military
tactics; their weapons were primitive and their leaders were without
military training. No more righteous cause ever existed for rebellion
against tyranny and usurpation. The first two leaders were consecrated
representatives of the church that had assisted a despotic government in
bringing about such an unfortunate state of affairs. These two martyrs
who were excommunicated by the church, and executed by the government
as traitors, are now honoured with resting places in sacred ground by a
grateful nation.

The first revolt was headed by a picture of the patron saint of the
country, and shouts of “Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe” and “Viva
la Independencia” were intermingled. Hidalgo and his compatriots were
compelled to begin their movement before thoroughly prepared, because
their plans had been discovered and betrayed to the government. On the
morning of the memorable day above mentioned, Hidalgo addressed the
people from the pulpit of the church where he had so often celebrated
mass, and, leading his followers forth, released the prisoners in
the town, and captured the principal Spaniards. Soon afterwards this
priest-warrior patriot, who had been named Captain-General, followed by
a few hundred of human beings (they can not be called soldiers), marched
forth to conquer Mexico and give “death to the Spaniards.”

It was a motley crowd armed with stones, lances, _machetes_, arrows,
clubs and swords, whose numbers and enthusiasm were ever increasing as
they marched across the country without meeting resistance. San Miguel
and Celaya, Irapuato and Querétero, yielded, and the army which by this
time numbered tens of thousands marched towards Guanajuato. The governor
of that province assembled the terror-stricken populace in the now famous
Alhondiga de Granaditas, built for storing grain but now a prison, as
noted in that city as the Bastille of Paris. Upon a refusal to surrender,
Hidalgo and his followers attacked this fortress with fanatical zeal, and
captured it by the mere force of numbers. This supplied him with plenty
of food and a million dollars in money which furnished the sinews of war.

Terror struck the hearts of the Spaniards and every town yielded to
this new leader, who now bore the title of Generalissimo, as the army
approached the City of Mexico. One terrible battle occurred at Monte
las Cruces and both forces withdrew. Hidalgo—and this was probably
his greatest error—retreated, and his fortune immediately turned. The
volatile nature of the people asserted itself and his followers deserted
by the thousands. He started for the United States, but was betrayed
and captured, and was executed at Chihuahua on July 31st, 1811. For ten
years his head was suspended by a spike from one of the corners of the
Alhondiga de Granaditas, once occupied by him as conqueror, as a warning
to revolutionists, but was afterward buried with great ceremony in the
cathedral at the capital.

It was around a disciple of Hidalgo that the forces of discontent and
patriotism rallied upon the death of their first leader, and that man
was also a priest, Jose Maria Morelas. Of low birth and poor, this man
drove mules until thirty years of age before an opportunity presented
itself for education to fit himself for the priesthood, which was his
ambition. In that time he had acquired the qualities of patience and
cool calculation from the animals he drove. A student under Hidalgo, he
had imbibed a love for independence, and leaving his church upon the
sounding of the “grito,” offered his services to the Generalissimo.
He was an abler leader than Hidalgo and showed great military skill,
winning a series of victories clear across the country from Acapulco, on
the Pacific Coast, to Cuautla not far from Vera Cruz. At Cuautla he was
besieged for over two months, and then successfully withdrew with all
his forces by night. Returning to Acapulco he summoned the first Mexican
Congress, which met at Chilpantzingo, a small town near that city.
This congress met on the 14th of September, 1813, and on the following
day issued its famous declaration of independence, as follows:—“The
Congress of Anahuac, lawfully installed in the city of Chilpantzingo,
of North America, solemnly declares, in the presence of God, arbitrator
of kingdoms and author of society, who gives and takes away according
to the inscrutable designs of his providence, that, through the
present circumstances of Europe, it has recovered the exercise of its
sovereignty, hitherto usurped, its dependence upon the throne of Spain
being thus forever disrupted and dissolved.”[5]

This congress provided a form of government with a military executive
called Generalissimo, and Morelas was elected to this position for
life, or “so long as he was worthy.” Shortly after this his forces were
defeated at Valladolid, now called Morelia, and his power began to wane,
though resistance was kept up for some time afterwards with varying
success. Spanish troops had arrived, and stronger leaders were in charge
of the government forces and the cause of independence looked dark.
The plans of Morelas were betrayed to the enemy and he was captured.
The ecclesiastical tribunes covered him with ignominy. He was then
sentenced to death by the military authorities, and shot in the little
village of San Cristobal Ecatepec, near the capital, on December 22d,
1815, dying the death of a hero. This muleteer-priest-warrior was an
able leader, an honest man and a patriotic citizen. He seemed devoid of
personal ambition, although accepting title for the sake of the cause
he fought for. He was possessed of restless energy and great piety, for
he always made confession before entering battle. To-day, he is second
only to Hidalgo in the affections of the people, and worthily fills that
position. Over the door of the house once owned by him in Morelia appears
the following inscription:—

    “Morelas the illustrious
    Immortal Hero.
    In this house honoured by thy presence
    Salute you the grateful people of Morelia.”

The revolution was seemingly crushed at the death of Morelas but a few
patriots retired to the mountains, and there kept alive for better
days the sacred fire of liberty. Guerrero was one of those heroes who
showed an unwearying activity, and kept up a constant warfare upon the
government forces. The next prominent name in succession among those
leaders of the movement for freedom was Agustin de Iturbide, a former
active and able officer of the royalist forces, and to whom more than
anyone else was due the failure of Morelas. Deserting the cause of Spain,
because he thought injustice had been done him, General Iturbide issued
the “Plan of Iguala” on the 20th of February, 1820, composed of three
articles: preservation of the Roman Catholic church; independence of
Mexico under a monarchical form of government with a prince of the royal
house of Spain as ruler; union and equality of Spaniards and Mexicans.
From this proclamation his army became known as the army of the three
guarantees. His act was full of duplicity, for he had obtained the
largest force possible from the Viceroy Apodaca in order to turn them
over to the new scheme.

Before the viceroy could recover from his surprise, Iturbide, who
had been joined by most of the insurgent leaders, had started on his
victorious campaign. Valladolid, Querétero and Puebla succumbed. The
viceroy tried by suppressing liberty, and enforcing enlistments in the
royal army, to stem the tide but in vain, and he was deposed. O’Donoju,
the sixty-fourth and last viceroy, arrived about this time at Vera Cruz,
but was intercepted by Iturbide and entered into the treaty of Cordoba in
which the independence of Mexico was recognized with a sovereign to be
selected from the royal house of Spain, and a provisional Junta formed.
Iturbide was selected as president of this Junta, and made a triumphal
entry into the City of Mexico on the 27th of September, 1821. This ended
three hundred years of Spanish rule in Mexico. Iturbide had accomplished
in a little more than a year, and with little bloodshed, what ten years
of strife had failed to do. He can not be classed with Hidalgo and
Morelas as a pure patriot, but he has been officially designated as the
“Liberator of Mexico.”

The rejection of the treaty of Cordoba by the Cortes of Spain gave
new impetus to the smouldering ambitions of Iturbide. The second
Mexican Congress having been called, Iturbide at a packed session was
declared Emperor by a majority of four to one of those voting, but
not a constitutional majority, and he took the office as Agustin I.
When he was crowned and anointed in the cathedral with much form and
solemnity, on the 21st of July, 1822, the ambition of this self-made
emperor had reached its full. The saying that uneasy lies the head
that wears a crown never had better application than in this instance.
Other leaders in the cause of liberty felt that they had been slighted,
and every discontented person made common cause against the Emperor. A
republic was proclaimed at Vera Cruz in December of the same year by
Santa Anna, who was commander of a regiment stationed there, and he
issued a _pronunciamento_. This plan failed, but it encouraged Bravo,
Guerrero and other revolutionary leaders, and rebellion sprung up in a
number of places. Iturbide had dissolved congress and this increased the
dissatisfaction. A more formidable revolt arose, and on March 19th, 1823,
Iturbide abdicated without attempting to retain his position by force of
arms.

A few weeks later the ex-Emperor left Mexico and sailed for Italy, having
been granted an annual sum of $25,000 for his services. He soon went to
England and wrote the government from there that the republic was in
danger, and he would come back to help fight the battles of his country.
He did not know that his death had been decreed by congress, and so
he set sail upon his last voyage. When he arrived at Vera Cruz he was
captured, and after some delay was executed at Padilla on the 19th of
July, 1824, as a traitor, in his forty-first year. His body was buried in
a roofless old church and lay there until 1838, when it was removed to
the Cathedral.

Opinion is very much divided as to the rank that should be accorded
Iturbide. He was able, brave, honest so far as is known, and probably
fell a victim to his ambition like many a man before him. The relative
regard in which he is held is shown in the fact that the town which
gave both him and his former vanquished foe, Morelas, birth, is now
called Morelia, and a state is also named Morelas. In contrast to this
there is neither city nor state named after Iturbide, and the famous
Iturbide Hotel in the capital city, once his residence, is the only
institution perpetuating his name so far as I could learn. The only
things accomplished by him during his brief reign were the settlement of
the titles by which he and his family should be addressed, the succession
to the throne, order of precedence among the dignitaries, allowances of
himself and family, and the creation of the Order of Guadalupe to bestow
honours upon his followers.

At last a so-called republic was established, and Guadalupe Victoria was
inaugurated as the first president on the 10th day of October, 1824,
and served until 1828. When the fort of San Juan de Ulua at Vera Cruz
lowered its flag, in 1825, the last vestige of Spanish power was gone,
and the red and yellow striped banner of the Iberian peninsula was not
to be seen on Mexican soil. And Mexico, as then constituted, was a big
country, containing almost twice as much territory as to-day. From the
end of the administration of President Victoria until after the death
of Maximilian, there was not a year of peace in Mexico. Revolutions,
_pronunciamentos_, “plans” and restorations followed each other in quick
succession. Generals, presidents and dictators sprang up like mushrooms,
and their position was as evanescent. The congress unwisely decreed the
expulsion of the Spaniards, and their departure took much of the wealth
of the country. Revolutions were an every-day affair. A man in position
of authority did not know when his time to be shot might come. A sudden
turn of fortune might send him either to the national palace, or before a
squad of men with guns aimed at his heart.

A good illustration of this uncertainty of affairs is seen in the
treatment and fate of the grim old patriot Guerrero. Born of very low
Indian parents he had climbed to the front and borne many of the burdens
of the struggle with Spain. He cheerfully yielded his command to the
renegade Iturbide, and fought valiantly under that leader for liberty.
By a turn of fortune he became the third president in 1829. A few months
later he was compelled to flee, but was soon afterwards betrayed and
captured at Acapulco. At a farcical trial he was condemned to death
as “morally incapable” to act as president, and shot on the 15th of
February, 1831, at Cuilapa. Soon afterwards he was declared a martyr
and his body removed to the capital with honours. Two monuments to this
martyr now adorn that city, and a state has been named after him. Under
his short rule slavery was abolished by statute.

Elections eventually became a farce. The unfortunate habit was acquired
of appealing to arms instead of submitting to the result of the ballot.
The trouble was that the people had copied the letter, and not the
spirit of the American constitution. Liberty was interpreted as license,
after their exaggerated ideas of the former. The scheming politicians
would hesitate at nothing—revolution or civil war—to attain private ends
or personal aggrandizement. A general indolence of character, and the
hindrances to the acquirement of property among the masses, made the
people more willing to yield to disturbing and designing politicians.
They are impetuous by nature, impatient of restraint and easily fired up.
The rapid changes in government can be seen when you read that there were
five different presidents in each of the years 1846 and 1847, and four in
1855—not an evidence of tranquillity at least. The two leading parties
constantly at war were the “progresistas” and “retrogrados.”

During this period a few prominent names are constantly recurring, and
by far the most prominent one is that of the notorious Santa Anna,
who, for more than fifty years, occupied a prominent, but not always
honourable, place in Mexican affairs. Earlier in life his restless energy
was expended in a fairly commendable way, and he fought some battles
in defense of the rights of the people. During the war of intervention
with France in 1838 he lost his leg in the defense of Vera Cruz. Ever
afterwards, when in trouble, he would flourish his severed limb and
remind the people how he had been mutilated in the defense of his
country, with the effect of restoring himself in public favour. As he
grew older his naturally quarrelsome disposition increased, his vanity
knew no bounds, and when at the height of his glory, he declared himself
dictator and ordered all people to address him as “most serene highness.”
Never honest except as a matter of policy, his cupidity became more
pronounced, until, near the close of the war with the United States, he
offered to appoint commissioners and confirm a treaty of peace for the
sum of one million dollars. First elected president in 1833, he was
again either chosen to, or assumed the office, in 1839, 1846, 1847,
1853 and 1855, but did not serve long at any time. On one occasion his
amputated leg was buried with great ceremony, but afterwards fickle
sentiment changed, and the martyr part of this hero was brought forth by
the rabble, dragged through the streets of the capital, and insulting
epithets heaped upon the former idol.

Santa Anna led the forces against the Texas insurrectionists, and was the
man responsible for the Alamo slaughter, when one hundred and forty brave
Texans were trapped and slain. Visitors to that place are still shown the
stains made by the blood of that brave frontiersman, Davy Crockett, and
the cry of “Remember the Alamo” still has potency. This insurrection was
soon followed by the war between Mexico and the United States.

Franklin says, there never was a good war nor a bad peace. The United
States can not be justified in warring upon Mexico, though the results
have perhaps been for the best with both nations. Bancroft does not mince
words in his treatment of the subject for he says: “It (the Mexican
War) was a premeditated and predetermined affair; it was the result
of a deliberately calculated scheme of robbery on the part of the
superior force.” The result was a foregone conclusion, for Mexico, torn
by internal dissensions, impoverished by the expense of revolutions and
official robbery, and with a government changing with every change of the
seasons, had neither armies, money nor supplies for such a conflict. The
people were used to the smell of powder but were not trained soldiers,
and the “generals” were simply a few of the twelve thousand recipients
of military commissions that had been distributed by various presidents
in the preceding three years. “Plans” promulgated by one party were
bombarded with “pronunciamentos” from another. This was the condition of
affairs when General Taylor assumed the offensive and fought the battle
of Palo Alto.

Mexico might have sued for peace at this time, but no government was
in power long enough to negotiate a treaty. A special envoy sent from
Washington at the request of one president was refused an audience by a
new one, who had usurped the office before his arrival. Generals Taylor
and Fremont subdued Northern Mexico, and General Scott later began his
memorable march toward the ancient Aztec capital, from Vera Cruz, like
Cortez of old. Santa Anna, who had been “recuperating” from public
unpopularity at Havana, returned and state after state immediately
“pronounced” in his favour. He issued a manifesto assuming the executive
control and took the field against the invaders. He first tried to secure
$15,000,000 from the Church, but although the priests hated the “northern
heretics” they were loth to give up the coin, and little was secured.
Vera Cruz fell after two weeks’ bombardment, and Puebla yielded to the
Americans. Patriotism was finally aroused to save the City of Mexico,
but the victories of Chapultepec, Chorubusco and Molino del Rey were
followed by the triumphal entry of General Scott into the capital. The
treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ceded to the United States more than six
hundred thousand square miles of the Mexican domain, including some of
the richest mineral lands of the republic. Disgraced and humiliated as
Mexico had been, it was, I believe, the beginning of better things for
that country.

Santa Anna went into voluntary exile to Jamaica. The first president
after the war, Herrera, actually served the appointed time of his office,
but disorder soon began under his successor. “Pronouncing” became
popular again, and Santa Anna returned. He was made dictator for a short
time by his favourites. This was the last office held by this selfish
politician. He exiled himself to St. Thomas again, and afterwards in
Elizabethport, New Jersey. During the second empire he tried to curry
favour with both sides, but neither would listen to him. Discouraged and
disheartened he lived abroad, until, burdened by the weight of eighty
years, he sought and obtained permission to return to the capital, and
died on the 20th of June, 1876. Thus passed a man who had lived in
stirring times, was most intensely hated, had been president six times,
military dictator four times, had upset fifteen governments, had been
marked for the assassin’s bullet many times; and yet he lived to a ripe
old age and died a natural death. However, all his glory had faded, and,
blind, lame and infirm, he spent his last days in extreme poverty.

Here is a picture of this man drawn by Rev. William Butler,[6] who
visited him about a year before his death: “Santa Anna was living in an
obscure street, neglected and forgotten by all parties. On entering the
apartment we found the old man sitting on a sofa, behind which hung a
picture of his wife ‘her serene highness, Dolores Tosta de Santa Anna’
arrayed as a vice-queen. The magnificence of the painting contrasted
sadly with the poverty-stricken aspect of the room and furniture. To him,
however, this could make but little difference, as we soon saw that he
was totally blind as well as feeble and broken in spirit, with a tendency
to mental weakness.” He was buried in the cemetery at Guadalupe without
honours or recognition by the government, and his remains still rest
there. As I gazed upon his tomb I could not help thinking what a contrast
between his career and that of the patriots Hidalgo, Morelas, and Juarez.

The early constitution had declared that the Roman Catholic religion
should perpetually be the religion of Mexico. Nevertheless a struggle
had been growing up between the clericals and liberals for many years
with increasing intensity. It finally centred in a struggle over the
sequestration of the church property, and became wider and wider until
the whole country was involved and divided into two great parties. The
liberals were probably just as good Christians as the others but thought
the Church had too much wealth.

[Illustration: A VILLAGE CHURCH]

At this juncture there arose a pure Indian, of lowly parentage, who
never saw a school until he was twelve years of age. His name was Benito
Juarez. Although ever professing devout faith, he early espoused the
cause of the anti-clerical party. He was banished by Santa Anna and
fled to New Orleans, but opinion changed and his sentiments became the
popular views. The new constitution of 1857 declared the separation of
church and state. Juarez had been elected President of the Supreme Court
under Comonfort. The latter was compelled to flee the country and Juarez
became president under the constitution, in 1857. Congress passed a law
confiscating church property and civil war was begun. Juarez took the
field in person and did not reach the capital until three years later.
These three years have been called the years of horrors. The liberals
were excommunicated by the church, and the papal delegate and several
bishops were ordered out of the country in turn by Juarez. Ministerial
crises and resignations became chronic. Guerillas and robbers were bold
and attacked many aliens, and foreign obligations were unpaid because of
the impoverished condition of the country.

Juarez alone remained cool in the midst of all these disturbances. The
convention entered into between France, England and Spain for a joint
intervention in Mexican affairs on the 31st day of October, 1861, brought
new embarrassment to the Indian reformer. Underneath these acts of
the convention the crafty hand of Napoleon can be seen. The man who
had accomplished one _coup d’Etat_ was a sworn enemy to all republican
institutions. The pretext for this intervention was the collection of
some money claims and reparation for alleged offences. Spain no doubt
looked forward to a little revenge. The Spanish fleet occupied Vera Cruz
on the 14th of December, 1861, followed by the other armies. A conference
took place at Orizaba with Juarez who acknowledged the money claims, and
Spain and England withdrew their forces. The French remained, secretly
supported and encouraged by the extreme church party, and advanced to and
captured Puebla. Distracted and disheartened by the state of affairs, the
prospect of a stable government made the way easy to place Maximilian
upon the throne as Emperor of Mexico, and this was done. He and the
empress arrived on the 28th of May, 1864. Maximilian was a liberal ruler
and the Empress Carlotta won the people by her charming personality and
benevolences.

As long as the French forces remained his throne was secure. The prompt
and decisive action of Secretary Seward sounded the death knell of
Maximilian’s ambitions. Napoleon withdrew his troops, and Maximilian
might have easily escaped had he not wavered between ambition and
discretion,—the former eventually winning. He met death with dignity and
said “May my blood be the last spilt for the welfare of the country.”

During all of these years Juarez maintained a semblance of authority and
kept a cabinet under appointment although he was finally driven to the
American border. Yet he could wait, for he had inherited from his dusky
ancestors the qualities of patience, endurance and imperturbability.
He also had executive ability and an abundance of good sense. After
the execution of Maximilian he made a triumphal entry into Mexico. The
country was impoverished. The short empire had added a national debt of
$187,000,000. More than one thousand battles and skirmishes had occurred
between 1863 and 1867, and a hundred thousand Mexicans had been killed or
disabled. The people were still restless and an increasing element began
to say that he had been president long enough. He was unmoved, but kept
steadily on his way trying to better the condition of the people, improve
the finances and bring prosperity to his country. The iron constitution
finally gave way and he died on the 19th of July, 1872, beloved and
honoured by his country. He deserves to be called the Washington of
Mexico, for the real liberty of a republican form of government began
with him. He had prepared the way for his successors to bring peace,
prosperity and liberty to a country that for centuries had been groping
and striving after such a condition. Juarez lies buried beneath a
magnificent monument in the Panteon de San Fernando, in the City of
Mexico.

Upon the death of Juarez the constitutional succession to the chief
magistracy fell upon Lerdo de Tejada, who occupied that office for four
years. The subsequent history of Mexico, however, centres around the
personality of Porfirio Diaz, and the events of his long administration
and final downfall are treated in the two following chapters.



CHAPTER XX

THE GUIDING HAND


“I should like to live fifty years to see the result of the seed I have
planted,” said Porfirio Diaz a number of years ago. It is not within the
limit of human possibility that such a boon could be granted this amiable
“republican despot” but he had lived long enough to see the good results
of the policies established by him for the upbuilding of his country.

Succeeding to a government that had been in the throes of revolution ever
since the patriot-priest Hidalgo first proclaimed independence on the
16th of September, 1810, President Diaz at once restored peace to the
country that has lasted for thirty years. Inheriting a bankrupt treasury
from his predecessors, and a large foreign debt that had on several
occasions brought about foreign intervention, he succeeded in placing the
finances of the country in a prosperous condition and has accomplished
more for Mexico than had been done in three centuries of Spanish rule.
He organized the army along modern lines and established the _rurales_
which insured the safety of life and property. Railroads under the
wise system of encouragement inaugurated by him have increased from
three hundred and fifty miles to thirteen thousand five hundred miles;
telegraph lines from four thousand five hundred miles to thirty-five
thousand miles; the number of post-offices now number two thousand three
hundred and fifty instead of seven hundred and twenty as it was in 1876.
Imports and exports have doubled several times, and the annual balance
sheet now shows a comfortable surplus instead of a deficit as in former
days. All this has been done and old obligations met in spite of the
serious loss in exchange due to the depreciation in silver, and the fact
that the heavy foreign obligations had to be met in gold purchased with
silver at a low and constantly varying valuation.

[Illustration: A COMPANY OF _RURALES_]

The life of Porfirio Diaz is fascinating. It savours of the days of
knighthood and romance. We are reminded of those heroes of old around
whom time has cast a glamour, for he has had adventures as exciting,
escapes as miraculous and a life seemingly as charmed as any hero created
by the masters of romance, and his life may well be termed “stranger
than fiction.” One is naturally inclined to be rather eulogistic in his
treatment of such a character.

The present President of Mexico was born in the city of Oaxaca in an
unimposing house on the Street of La Soledad, that is now used as a sugar
factory, on the 15th of September, 1830, a day already celebrated in
Mexican annals. His father, Captain José Faustini Diaz, was of Spanish
descent and followed the occupation of innkeeper, but died when Porfirio
was only three years of age. His maternal grandmother was a Mixteca
Indian. The church and law were the only two occupations open to an
ambitious youth in those days, and this young lad was intended for the
former. He chose the law much to the disgust of his relatives but never
followed that calling. The fighting blood in him impelled him to the
sanguinary conflicts on the field rather than the bloodless battles in
the courts between contending counsel.

About this time the war with the United States broke out and the future
president, a youth of seventeen, volunteered but saw no fighting,
although he thus early in life showed his genius for organization by
forming his fellow-students of the academy into a battalion for the
defence of his home city. Benito Juarez, afterwards president, was
attracted by this youth and invited him to read law in his office,
which offer was accepted. Thus was begun an association between two
men who were destined in later years to occupy such a prominent place
in Mexican history. Through the influence of Juarez, the younger man
was made assistant librarian and by the aid of the salary attached to
this position, and money earned as tutor, he completed his course, and
received his law degree.

Politics and war seem to have divided the attention of Diaz from the very
first with a preference for the latter in early life. Diaz was a military
genius. I can say this in all seriousness. Although he never commanded a
large army yet, under his hands, the rawest recruits soon became valuable
troops. He is possessed of a personal magnetism and the quality of
_simpatica_, (which can not be translated into English) that draws people
to him and, when once aroused, they become his enthusiastic partisans.
In a land of lethargy and procrastination his movements were quick and
decisive, and he soon became noted for night marches and early morning
attacks. He never was overcome except by superior forces, and then only
after his stores and ammunition were exhausted. Even when beaten and his
army captured or separated, a few days of freedom would again place him
at the head of a respectable force ready to take aggressive stand against
the enemy. Had he been in command of a hundred thousand men, he would
have met the situation with the same tact and ability.

The first of the many political offices held by Diaz was that of Jefe
Politico, or mayor, of the little Indian town of Ixtlan when only
twenty-five years of age. Here he devoted his time to organizing the
Indians into a company of militia, and this little body of soldiers
formed a nucleus that proved a great help to him in the troublous times
which followed. Later he was made Jefe of Tehuantepec where he showed
great administrative ability. Soon afterward, in 1861, he was elected a
deputy to congress from Oaxaca, but at that time would not sacrifice the
excitement of war for the more prosaic duties of law-making.

Captain Diaz had seen his first military service in the revolts against
the notorious Santa Anna, of Alamo fame. He had the courage to sign a
remonstrance against this usurper, and was compelled to fly for his life.
Later, in the campaigns against Santa Anna, he was so successful that
he had become almost a hero in the eyes of his fellow Oaxacans. At the
beginning of the French invasion, the rank of general of a brigade had
been conferred upon him at the early age of thirty-two years, and he was
assigned to the defense of Puebla under General Zaragoza. It was due to
his tactics more than anything else that the way was paved for the great
victory of _Cinco de Mayo_, 1862, when an inferior force of Mexicans
defeated a numerically larger army of veteran French troops. It was
nearly a year later before the armies of the allied French and Austrians,
greatly augmented by new arrivals, were able to capture Puebla after a
two months’ siege, the ammunition of the Mexicans had been exhausted.
General Diaz refusal to give _parol_ and was made prisoner but escaped
after a short confinement.

Because of the approach of the invading armies toward the capital,
President Juarez had removed the seat of government to San Luis Potosi.
He made General Diaz commander-in-chief of the armies south of the Valley
of Mexico. Returning to his favourite haunts in Oaxaca, he soon gathered
together an army and some money and marched forth on the offensive. By
this time General Diaz had become such a formidable opponent that General
Bazaine himself, later of European fame, leader of the French forces,
took the field against this young leader with the determination to crush
him. He finally shut him up in Oaxaca and captured that city in 1865. The
French general had carefully laid his plans for this campaign, having
transported a large number of guns, and was at the head of an army, Diaz
claims, of sixteen thousand. The fame of this general and his large force
created a panic among the troops of Diaz and his little army had dwindled
to a few hundred. General Diaz was captured and taken to Puebla by his
captors where he was prisoner for more than seven months in a former
house of the Jesuits in that city. His escape is celebrated in Mexican
annals, and his own account is as follows, although I have greatly
abbreviated it:—

“After taps for silence had been sounded for the night, I went to a room
which was roofless and which on that account was used as a yard. I had
with me three ropes, wrapped up in canvas, and I threw them onto the
roof. I also had another rope, and I succeeded in throwing it around
a projecting stone spout which seemed to be sufficiently firm. When I
had satisfied myself that the support was sufficient, I climbed up by
the rope to the roof. My progress along the roof to the corner of San
Roque street, where I had made up my mind to descend, was attended with
much danger, for on the roof of the church a detachment and sentries
were stationed to keep watch. Gliding on all-fours I made towards the
point where I was to let myself down. I often had to stop to feel my
way, for the roof was strewn with many fragments of glass which sounded
when touched. Moreover, there were frequent flashes of lightning, which
exposed me to being discovered.

“I finally reached the wall of the church. In order to arrive at the
corner of the street of San Roque it was necessary to pass through a
portion of the edifice which was occupied by the priest in charge of the
church, and I was aware that shortly before he had denounced to the court
martial some political prisoners who had bored a hole through their place
of confinement into his dwelling, and as a consequence they had been shot
the next day.

“I let myself down into an upper yard of the priest’s house at the moment
when a young man who also lived there had come in from the street; he had
probably been to the theatre, for he was in gay humour and was humming
an air from an operetta. He did not see me as he passed, and I remained
quiet until he had entered his room. When I considered that sufficient
time had elapsed for him to get into bed, and perhaps to fall asleep, I
climbed to the roof of the convent on the opposite side to that by which
I had descended and pushed forward to the corner of the street of San
Roque, and I arrived there at last. There is at the corner, in a niche,
a statue of St. Vincent Ferrer which I proposed using to fix the rope
by which I was to descend. The saint wobbled when touched, but probably
there was inside the statue an iron spike to hold it. In any case, in
order to be more sure, I adjusted the rope around the pedestal of the
statue which seemed to be quite firm. I resolved to alight in a vacant
lot which adjoined and which was only fenced in. I did not know that
there was a drove of hogs in this yard. As when I began the descent I
turned somewhat with my rope, my back struck against the wall, and the
impact caused a poniard which I carried at my waist to fall from its
sheath among the hogs, probably wounding one of them, for they set up a
grunting which grew louder as they saw me descending among them. I had
to wait for some time for them to quiet down. I then climbed to the top
of the partition separating the lot from the street, but I had at once
to bob down again for just at that moment a gendarme was passing on his
round, seeing if the doors were well fastened. When he had retired I
sprang into the street.”

In a few days he had rallied around him a few faithful followers and
captured the small garrison of Tehuitzingo. From this time his career was
a succession of victories until the capture and execution of Maximilian.
These victories and the firm stand of the United States government
re-established republican supremacy. Early in 1867 preparations were made
to regain Puebla which city was defended by a force of several thousand
French troops. On April 2nd he made a feint with a few hundred men on
the convent of “El Carmen” which caused the army of the defenders to
be concentrated there. Then a concerted attack followed from several
points, and the soldiers of Diaz drove back the hardened troops of the
third Napoleon, and the flag of liberty waved over the city in the early
dawn. He followed up the fleeing foreigners and a series of engagements
followed in which Diaz was victorious. The war was ended by the capture
of the City of Mexico after a siege of several assaults.

From boyhood until the close of the empire in 1867, General Diaz had
worked against great odds. He was by this time easily the most popular
man in Mexico. One party at the general elections of that year nominated
him for president, but he refused to run against his old friend and
patron, President Juarez. He even refused an office and resigned his
commission in the army. In search of rest he retired to the place of
his birth, and his trip from the capital was a triumphal journey. The
citizens of Oaxaca received him with open arms, and presented him with
the estate of La Noria near that city. Hither he went with the wife
whom he had married by proxy during the war and spent a few years in
comparative quiet. In 1871 another presidential election was held.
Juarez, who had failed both mentally and physically, had advocated
a number of unpopular measures, but was determined to have himself
reëlected to office. Diaz was also a candidate. When Juarez was declared
elected, the “Porfiristas” declared a revolution with the slogan “less
government and more liberty.” However Juarez died in a few months and the
executive power temporarily fell upon the president of the Supreme Court,
Lerdo de Tejada, who was afterwards elected to that office to serve the
unexpired term.

General Diaz refused reconciliation with this government, and, fearing
trouble before the next presidential election, for Lerdo was an active
candidate, he sold his estate and left for the United States after a
“_pronunciamento_,” called the “Plan of Tuxtepec,” had been issued to
which he gave his allegiance, if he was not the author of it. This “plan”
declared a president ineligible to succeed himself. By the time the
revolution was well underway in several states, General Diaz had crossed
the Rio Grande at Brownsville, Texas, with forty followers. These forty
men increased to four hundred in a few days and they captured Matamoros
on April 2nd, 1876.

Learning that a large force had been sent after him, General Diaz decided
to return south. He went to New Orleans and took a steamer from there,
called the City of Habana, sailing for Vera Cruz, and passed himself
off as a Cuban doctor. He was not suspected until some of the troops he
had captured at Matamoros a few weeks before got on board the ship at
Tampico. They immediately made arrangements to secure him on arriving
at Vera Cruz. Although the ship was four miles from land, Diaz jumped
overboard and attempted to swim ashore. He was picked up after nightfall
in an exhausted condition, and taken on board the ship again. However
the purser was won to his cause and concealed him in a wardrobe, where
he remained for several days on a diet of ship’s biscuit and water.
The purser, as a matter of policy and in order to disarm all suspicion,
invited the Lerdist officers into his cabin, where they would spend hours
in playing at cards. Oftentimes the chair of the one sitting in front
of the wardrobe would be tilted back against the door behind which was
the man they would have given almost anything to catch. From his cramped
position General Diaz was in torment. He could not stand upright, nor was
he able to sit down. When the _City of Habana_ arrived at Vera Cruz the
chief of the coast guard service, who was the fugitive’s friend, managed
to smuggle in to him a dilapidated sailor’s suit and a very old pair of
boots. At the same time the chief sent word that a rowboat, in charge of
a man he would recognize by certain signals, would come alongside for
him. When the ship began to unload bales of cotton into barges, this boat
appeared among them, and the noted prisoner made his escape to land.

After several exciting adventures on the way, General Diaz again appeared
at Oaxaca among his friends and ardent supporters. His popularity and
prestige in Oaxaca have always been remarkable. Never did he appeal to
his neighbours and friends of that state in vain. It was not long until
he was at the head of an army of four thousand “Porfiristas”—men who
would follow their leader to the death if need be, and many of whom had
fought with him at Puebla and elsewhere. The news of the escape of Diaz
brought gloom to the “Lerdistas.” Lerdo immediately marched his army
southward. The two armies met on the 16th of November, 1876, at Tecoac,
and for a few hours the battle waged hotly and bitterly. The Lerdist
army, which was considerably larger, began the engagement with every
prospect of success. At the last moment Diaz led a charge in person
which routed the enemy, and the result was a complete triumph for the
“Porfiristas.”

Flushed with victory, and determined to press his advantage to the
utmost, General Diaz promptly proceeded toward the capital with his
augmented army. Panic seized Lerdo and his followers. He took all the
public funds available, and, with his ministers, fled to Acapulco. Upon
arriving there he embarked for San Francisco, and made no further effort
to impede the progress of the Diaz forces. Iglesias, President of the
Supreme Court, upon whom the succession legally fell upon the death or
resignation of the President, established headquarters at Guanajuato and
issued a proclamation assuming the office of chief executive. Diaz at
once marched upon Puebla, which he entered without opposition. City after
city sent representatives announcing their adherence to his cause. The
onward march was continued without a halt until Guadalupe, about three
miles from the capital, was reached. Here he halted for a day in order to
get his forces into presentable condition to make a triumphal entry into
the historic capital.

It was on the 24th of November, 1876, that General Diaz made his
memorable march into the City of Mexico. Riding at the head of an army
of several thousand armed men he made a triumphal entry into that
ancient capital, while thousands gathered along the route to see this
new adventurer—as he was styled by his enemies. The Plaza was packed
with the populace. This son of an innkeeper, this man with the blood
of the Indian in his veins, this hero of many battles passed through
the portal of the National Palace and became master of Mexico. From
there he issued a proclamation assuming the provisional presidency of
the republic, until an election could take place in regular form and a
constitutional ruler should be chosen. This was held in December. With
the government in his hands the result of that election was never in
doubt. After a three months’ campaign his authority was recognized over
the entire republic. Since that time Porfirio Diaz occupied that high
office continuously, except for an interval of four years from 1880 to
1884, when Manuel Gonzalez held that title, until May 25th, 1911, when he
resigned. Diaz himself became a victim of the “Tuxtepec Plan,” forbidding
two consecutive terms, and gracefully retired at the end of his first
term, although urged by a large following to remain at the head of the
government. For the first time in Mexican history was seen the spectacle
of one President voluntarily relinquishing the sceptre to his successor,
and returning to private life without an effort to retain himself in
power. Gonzalez entered the office one of the most popular men in Mexico,
having been elected by an almost unanimous vote. Four years later he left
it under a cloud of almost universal execration and contempt. During the
four years of Gonzalez’s administration Diaz was not idle, but served in
the cabinet, as governor of Oaxaca and senator from Morelas. Isolated
disturbances have arisen at times, but no formidable opposition arose
against him until 1910. This revolution is treated in the succeeding
chapter. The law limiting the succession was revoked during his second
term, and the length of office was subsequently extended to six years. At
the various elections the reported vote was almost unanimous for Diaz.
On December 1st, 1910, he was inaugurated President for the seventh
consecutive term, or eighth term in all.

Immediately upon first assuming the executive office after the flight
of Lerdo, Diaz issued a statement in which he set forth in clear terms
his intention to restore constitutional order and institute reforms. He
invited all factions and cliques to coöperate with him. This soon won
the regard of the intelligent and honest partisans of all factions, and
he early showed his impartiality by selecting his advisers irrespective
of party. It was not long until most of the Lerdistas and Juaristas were
won to his cause. By this skilful handling of the leaders, he secured
the good will of Congress in furthering his plans for reforms, and in
organizing the finances on a better basis. New treaties were negotiated
with foreign nations and able diplomatic representatives sent abroad.

It has been said that the best peacemakers are those who have made war.
Those who detest powder most are generally those who have smelled it
on the field of battle. To them—more than all others—are known the
horrors and hardships of war, and what it entails upon the innocent and
guilty alike. Even though a battle-scared hero may have profited by the
advantages gained by military success, the tragedy of empty homes and
nameless graves is known to and acknowledged by him. General Sherman
said: “The main thing is to deal as hard blows at the enemy’s forces
as possible, and then cause so much suffering to the inhabitants that
they will long for peace.” A similar belief animated President Diaz. He
himself has said in explaining his actions in suppressing brigandage:
“Sometimes we were harsh to the point of cruelty. But it was all
necessary to the life and progress of the nation. If there was cruelty,
the results have justified it. It was better that a little blood be shed
that much blood be saved. The blood that was shed was bad blood; the
blood that was saved was good blood.” Almost before they knew what was
happening the professional malcontents found themselves in the grip of
this masterful new leader. It was to this quality of firmness that he
owed his pronounced success during the first years of his presidency.

Several scattered uprisings occurred during the first term, most of them
being fostered by the “Lerdistas.” Lerdo issued a proclamation on the
24th of February, 1877, from New York, claiming to be the constitutional
President, and, a few months later, Iglesias did the same thing from New
Orleans. Neither of these manifestos were looked upon seriously by the
Mexicans, but they were in a great measure responsible for the tardy
recognition of the Diaz government by the United States and other foreign
powers. One revolt is worthy of mention because of its novelty. A part of
the crew of the armed vessel _Trinidad_ mutinied during the absence of
the commander at Vera Cruz. They headed for a Campeche port, where they
seized several thousand dollars of public funds. While the leaders of the
mutiny were ashore enjoying the money, a counter mutiny was led by the
boatswain, who took the ship back to Vera Cruz and returned it to the
government.

Judging this man at a distance, we, who live in a country where even
a third term is a “bogie,” are inclined to smile at these successive
elections to the presidency, and dismiss the matter with the charge of
“dictator” and “republican despot,” with all the odium that those terms
imply. President Diaz was both. But, above all, he was, I believe, a
true patriot. Whatever may have been his original motives in seeking this
high office his later actions prove the statement. Responsibility will
often develop a man, and that may have been true with Diaz. In securing
the control by driving out Lerdo, and assuming the provisional presidency
over Iglesias, who was the official designated by the constitution in
case of a vacancy, he only did what many had done before. Whether his
retention of the office for so long was a good or bad thing for the
country, the historian of the future will be a better judge.

The accomplishments of Diaz were many. It would require a long
enumeration to give them in detail. The very fact that he succeeded
to a government which had seen fifty-four different rulers, including
two emperors and a number of avowed dictators, in the fifty-five years
preceding his own accession, and ruled the country for more than a
generation, is in itself sufficient to stamp him as an extraordinary man.
Those were indeed troublous times in Mexico while we were celebrating
the centennial of our independence. The strong spirit of Juarez had
been broken by the long strain from 1857 to 1872, during which time
he was nominally President. His successor was a weak, ambitious man
who accomplished little. Disorder everywhere, the country overrun with
bandits and a worse than empty treasury were the conditions when Diaz
grasped the reins. It was not until nearly two years afterward that his
government was formally recognized by the United States. Few men could
have steered the country through such a state of affairs so successfully.
He did it without repudiating any valid claims. He established credit
by paying foreign obligations rather than the salaries of government
employees. He surrounded himself with an able cabinet, and started the
machinery of government in a business-like way.

I do not subscribe to the doctrine of Shakespeare that all the world
is a stage, and that each person is a player, for that would take away
sincerity. Porfirio Diaz has been accused of only acting a part. He
could not always be acting, for his course was too consistent under many
and diverse circumstances. As a young man he refused pay for military
services because the government was so poor. He declined promotion over
the heads of men older in the service for fear of jealousies. He refused
remuneration after the close of the war of intervention, although not
a rich man at that time. He turned a deaf ear to the emissaries of
Maximilian, who wanted to place him in command of the Mexican army when
that ruler abdicated, which would practically have made him President. He
was a humane adversary, as is shown by his treatment of prisoners of war.
He disregarded ceremony as much as is possible in a Latin country. He
declined to live in the National Palace, but resided in a private house
the most of the time, and at Chapultepec a part of the year.

It is not to be wondered at that the man who rules with a strong arm
will make bitter enemies as well as warm partisans. Likewise such a
policy will always have its defamers as well as its supporters. Opinion
is still divided upon Napoleon, and whether his high-handed methods
wrought more good than evil. Hence it is that some can see nothing in
Diaz but a tyrant, an enslaver of his people, and a man unfit for even
life itself. They forget that peonage was not originated by Diaz, but was
inherited from the Spaniards and supported by the voters of the country.
They do not look into the conditions faced by Diaz when he first became
President, nor the bloody history of the republic before that time. I
believe that Diaz would have been permitted to serve his term had it not
been for his efforts to control the vice-presidency, and the fact that
his choice fell upon a man who was very unpopular. Knowing that at his
age the President’s span of life was uncertain, the politicians wanted to
control this office because of the succession. For this reason discontent
and jealousies had been growing for several years. Diaz had publicly
declared his intention not to seek another term, so that those ambitious
for that office took him at his word and began their wire-pulling. This
was in February, 1908. Then, in the spring of 1910, he announced that
yielding to importunity he would accept another term. This was the one
great mistake in his political career. Had Diaz adhered to his previous
declaration, he would have retired from the office of chief executive
full of honours. As it is he resigned under pressure, and left the City
of Mexico unannounced and accompanied only by his family and a few
friends. He boarded a steamer in the harbour of Vera Cruz and sailed for
Spain, where he has quietly resided since that time.

The personality of this dictator-president, who has filled such an
important place in the world’s history, is most interesting. As I sat
in the great salon of the National Palace, awaiting the appearance
of President Diaz, I spent the intervening fifteen or twenty minutes
in examining the room. On the high walls were pictures of General
Washington, the father of liberty in the whole of the two Americas; of
the patriot-priest Hidalgo, who first raised the standard of revolt in
Mexico, and of Diaz himself. Then Diaz appeared—a man tall for a Mexican,
solidly built, with white closely cropped hair and white moustache. He
approached with an elastic, graceful and springy step entirely belying
his almost eighty years. The Indian blood could easily be traced in
his complexion and features. The most striking feature of this man is
his eyes, which seem to look into the very soul of all he meets. It is
probably this intuitive perception that has been one of the key-notes
of his success. He has always been a democratic sort of man and easy
of approach, and impresses his sincerity on all those who talk with
him. Diaz was always a tireless worker and methodical in his habits. He
is abstemious, and it is probably due to this characteristic and his
methodical habits, that at eighty years of age he remained as active and
energetic as the average man twenty years younger. He kept in touch with
the most remote parts of the republic, even to the most distant village.
His advisers were often surprised at the vast knowledge he displayed in
all matters of state. The private life of Diaz has always been above
reproach. He has been twice married. His first wife was Delfina Ortega
y Reyes, who died in 1880 before sharing in the full greatness of her
husband, leaving a son and two daughters, all of whom are still living.
Three years later he was married to a daughter of Romero Rubio, whose
full name is Señora Doña Carmen Romero Rubio de Diaz. She is a woman who
by her sweetness of character, kindly disposition and charities won a
warm place in the affections of the Mexican people.

The end of the political career of Diaz is not without a touch of pathos,
as well as an element of personal dignity. Broken in health, and deserted
by many of his former friends, he resigned the office of President in the
following letter addressed to Congress:—

    “SEÑORES: The Mexican people, who have generously covered
    me with honours, who proclaimed me as their leader during
    the international war, who patriotically assisted me in all
    works undertaken to develop industry and the commerce of the
    republic, to establish its credit, gain for it the respect
    of the world and obtain for it an honourable position in the
    concert of the nations; that same people has revolted in armed
    military bands, stating that my presence in the exercise of the
    supreme executive power was the cause of this insurrection.

    “I do not know of any facts imputable to me which could have
    caused this social phenomenon; but acknowledging as possible,
    though not admitting, that I may be unwittingly culpable, such
    a possibility makes me the least able to reason out and decide
    my own culpability.

    “Therefore, respecting, as I always have respected, the will
    of the people and in accordance with Article 82 of the Federal
    Constitution, I come before the supreme representatives of
    the nation in order to resign, unreservedly, the office of
    Constitutional President of the republic with which the
    national vote honoured me, which I do with all the more reason,
    since in order to continue in office it would be necessary to
    shed Mexican blood, endangering the credit of the country,
    dissipating its wealth, exhausting its resources and exposing
    its policy to international complications.

    “I hope, señores, that, when the passions which are inherent
    to all revolutions have been calmed, a more conscientious and
    justified study will bring out in the national mind a correct
    acknowledgment, which will allow me to die carrying engraved in
    my soul a just impression of the estimation of my life, which
    throughout I have devoted and will devote to my countrymen.

                        “With all respect,

                                                   “PORFIRIO DIAZ.”



CHAPTER XXI

THE REVOLUTION OF 1910


The year 1910 marked the completion of one hundred years of Mexican
independence. In September of that year this event was celebrated with
all the pomp and pageantry customary in Latin countries. Nearly the
whole month was given up to public functions in various parts of the
republic, and especially in the City of Mexico, the national capital.
Representatives of all the great nations of the world were sent there
to assist in the ceremonies incident to the celebration. Dedications
of public buildings, magnificent balls, public fêtes and exercises
commemorative of independence and of the national heroes, who led the
struggle against the Spaniards, were numerous. The 15th and the 16th of
September were the great gala days of this centennial anniversary. The
further fact that added lustre to the event was the eightieth anniversary
of the birth of President Diaz, who had established a substantial
government after the many years of strife through which the country had
passed between the years 1810 and 1876. In all the speeches made by
foreign representatives the great work of this man was extolled, as well
as the progress that had been made by the nation itself.

The culmination of the centennial ceremonies was on the night of the
15th, just a little while before midnight. By half past ten o’clock
the immense Plaza, which faces the National Palace, was filled with an
immense crowd of Mexican dignitaries, distinguished foreigners and the
population of the city. It was a mass of living, breathing, expectant
humanity. The many coloured lights formed veritable rainbows of colour,
and this added an additional attraction to the teeming, seething crowd.
The door leading to the central balcony on the front of the National
Palace opened, and President Diaz appeared. An intense stillness fell
upon the crowd. In his right hand the President carried the national flag
of Mexico, and immediately on his appearance the red, white and green
lamps (the national colours) surrounding the old bell with which Hidalgo
first sounded the call to liberty, and which has found a permanent
resting place here, flashed into a radiant glow. As the strains of
the national anthem floated out on the breeze, the President waved his
flag, rang the bell and shouted “Viva Mexico!” The great crowd went wild
with excitement. The cry of “Viva Mexico!” was taken up by the crowd
near to the President, and then by those farther away, until the great
shout might have been heard all over the capital. The bells of the grand
old cathedral pealed forth their loudest tones, the factory whistles
shrieked, sky-rockets were sent up in the air and every noise-making
device was turned loose. Pandemonium reigned. “Viva Diaz!” and “Viva el
Presidente!” were mingled with the cry of “Viva Mexico!”

In the light of later events this wonderful celebration seems to have
been a sham, or at least only on the surface. At that time a political
volcano was simmering all over the republic, and was just ready to
break forth into violent eruption. Diaz had already been re-elected for
the eighth term, but the inauguration was not to take place until the
fifth of December. In November the first outbreaks against the civil
authorities occurred. An abortive rising occurred in Puebla in which
blood was shed. Armed bodies appeared in the states of Chihuahua and
Sonora, in the northwestern part of the republic. These bodies attacked
the outlying _haciendas_, robbed the owners of horses and foraged at will
to secure supplies for themselves and their horses. The country in which
these outbreaks occurred is ideal for the guerilla warfare that followed.
Both of those states are mountainous and thinly settled, so that it was
comparatively easy for even a small band of armed men to make a great
deal of trouble and escape from a much larger force that might attempt to
pursue them.

Government troops were promptly dispatched to the scene of trouble,
but it was difficult to catch up with the marauders and engage them in
battle. Their outbreaks would first be heard of in one neighbourhood,
and a few days later reports of trouble would be received from sections
quite remote. Additional armed bodies appeared in other sections, and it
was not many weeks until the trouble began to present a serious aspect.
Many of the government troops sent against the insurrectos were either
cowardly or were in secret sympathy with those opposed to the government.
Whenever actual engagements did occur the outcome was generally in favour
of the Federal troops, but the defeated ones were always able to escape
into the country, where it was difficult for them to be followed. The
first battle of any note was fought at Mal Paso, when the Federals were
routed, but a battle at Ojinaga a few days later was a decided defeat
for the revolutionists. The failure of the government to stamp out the
trouble promptly gave encouragement to all the disaffected ones, and the
old spirit of lawlessness that once prevailed seemed about to break forth
with all its animus and disregard of the rights of private property.

The predominant figures among the insurrectos were the Maderos, a
wealthy family that owned great estates near the city of Torreon. In
the presidential campaign that had just passed, Francisco Madero had
been a candidate for the presidency. He was thrown into prison, as that
family asserted, simply because he dared to oppose the dictator who had
held power for so long. The reason given out by the government was, of
course, far different. Nevertheless all the disaffected factions of the
republic rallied around this family, which did the principal financing
of the revolutionists. A propaganda was conducted in the United States
by the Maderos, and they obtained a great deal of encouragement from the
majority of the newspapers of the United States, which had recently taken
a position extremely antagonistic to the Diaz government. Francisco
Madero established a revolutionary junta in El Paso, and large quantities
of ammunition were sent across the border. A warrant for his arrest
having been issued because of violation of the neutrality laws, Madero
with a handful of followers crossed into Chihuahua and entered actively
into the campaign.

“No re-election” and “effective suffrage” were the two catch-words of
Madero. It was very similar to that of Porfirio Diaz when he swept
everything before him. At no time were there, according to the best
reports that can be obtained, more than a few thousand men enrolled
under the Madero banner. These troops were scattered throughout northern
Mexico, from Ciudad Juarez to the Pacific Ocean. Into their ranks were
drawn many soldiers of fortune from the United States, as well as from
Europe. A part of these men were no doubt really patriotic in their
motives, while others simply grasped the chance of engaging in an
exciting campaign because of the freedom of action which was offered, and
also partly because of the rewards that were promised by those at the
head of the revolution. An eye-witness of the engagement at Tia Juana
says that not over ten per cent. of the insurrectos who captured that
town were Mexicans, the remainder being made up of Americans, including
some negroes, Germans, English and other nationalities. This engagement
occurred on May 8th and 9th, 1911. The Federals threw up breastworks
of bags of sand, and the women and children were sent out of town to
the American side. The fighting was severe and many were killed on both
sides. On the second day the government forces yielded, and the rebels
immediately pillaged the town and stores.

Most of the engagements took place at towns near the border, at Ciudad
Juarez, Nogales and Douglass, as well as Tia Juana. Two reasons were
probably responsible for this fact. One was that it gave the insurrectos,
in case they were defeated, an easy escape across the border, and another
was that they were anxious to capture the custom-houses in order to
secure the revenue from that source. This would also enable them to set
up a _de facto_ government, which might secure for them recognition from
countries that looked upon them with favour. Because of these fights on
the border, and the reckless shooting by the combatants, no fewer than
twenty citizens of the United States were killed and twice that number
wounded upon the American side, including men, women and children, none
of whom had taken any part in the conflict. The camps of the Maderistas
at all times contained numerous American correspondents, and the reports
of the majority of them were favourable to the cause of that faction. The
battle of Casas Grandes was all but decisive. In this engagement Madero
took part and was slightly wounded, while the opposing leader lost an
arm. But Madero was soon in the field again at the head of his forces.
The movement had likewise spread, and the government faced trouble in the
country even as far south as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The aim of the Maderistas was to secure recognition as belligerents
from the government of the United States, and it was also the desire of
the government to put down the insurrection in order to prevent action
by the United States to suppress the trouble because of the complaint
of many Americans whose property had been destroyed, or was in danger
of destruction. Railroad tracks were torn up, mines were tampered with
and much other interference with the property of foreigners followed.
European governments did not dare to interfere because of the Monroe
Doctrine, and pressure was brought upon the government at Washington to
restore order. On May 8th there was great excitement in the United States
following orders issued by the Department of War for the mobilization of
American troops along the Mexican border. Almost twenty thousand troops
were sent to Texas and centralized at San Antonio. From there they were
sent to various places along the international border, but with positive
instruction to take no part in the trouble on the other side of the
Rio Grande. The press looked upon this action as preliminary to armed
intervention, but no such result followed. This movement of troops was no
doubt actuated by the motive of showing what the United States could do,
and of impressing both sides to the conflict that foreign property must
be left undisturbed and the rights of neutral parties carefully observed.

Several attempts were made by the Maderistas to capture Ciudad Juarez,
the prosperous city directly opposite El Paso. The Federal troops in the
city were under the command of General Navarro, while the insurrectos in
the final siege were commanded by Gen. Pascual Orozco. After a battle of
several days, including considerable street fighting, General Navarro
surrendered his command of fifteen hundred men to General Orozco on
the 10th of May. Shortly after this Madero himself entered the city as
victor, and immediately set up a provisional government, giving himself
the title of Provisional President. This gave the insurrectos control of
the important custom house at Ciudad Juarez, and was a great victory for
their cause. “On to Mexico” then became the popular cry, and preparations
began to be made for that long march. Torreon had fallen, and Pachuca,
only forty miles from the capital, had been taken possession of by the
revolutionists. Chihuahua and a number of other cities were besieged by
them.

At this stage Diaz and his advisers asked for an armistice in order that
negotiations might be conducted. Each side appointed commissioners,
and efforts were made to agree upon terms for settling the trouble
into which the country had been plunged. The Maderistas refused to
consider any terms which did not involve the resignation of President
Diaz, Vice-President Corral and the entire cabinet. President Diaz, in
order to avoid further bloodshed, the outcome of which would be very
uncertain, finally acceded to these terms and agreed to resign before
the end of the month. His resignation was delayed, however, for some
time, and disorder again broke out in several places. Even in the City
of Mexico mobs formed, and practically took possession of the city on
the 24th and 25th of May. Before the close of the latter day President
Diaz handed in his resignation, as the Vice-President had previously
done, and the government was turned over to Francisco de la Barra, who
had been agreed upon as the Provisional President until a new executive
could be chosen at a special election. President Diaz secretly left the
City of Mexico, and embarked on a vessel at Vera Cruz for Europe. A new
cabinet was selected by Acting-President Barra, the majority of whom were
suggested by Francisco Madero. A wiser selection than Dr. de la Barra it
would have been difficult to make for such a troublesome position. He
had represented Mexico at Washington just prior to the troubles of his
country, and commanded great respect among the officials in that city.

With the downfall of Diaz the real troubles of the Maderistas began.
It is almost always true that the victorious are impatient to secure
the fruits of their victory. Extravagant promises had been made by the
leaders of the revolution, which included free land, lower taxes, higher
wages and a decreased cost of living. It was impossible for the leaders
to do these things at once, as it would take several years to work out
such a program. Although Francisco Madero held no office, he had been
designated as an adviser of the new government, and no appointments were
made by the Provisional President without his approval. This brought
about jealousies among the ambitious leaders, and there has been more or
less fighting in various sections of the republic in which much blood has
been shed. A few generals deserted the standards of Madero and have kept
up fighting on their own account. A serious outbreak occurred in the city
of Puebla in which many were killed. Many political parties followed,
as it had been many years since there was a definite party organization
in Mexico. Some of these were very small, being made up simply of
factional groups. The Church party again became prominent and started
to take an active part in the approaching election. Bernardo Reyes, who
had been sent on a mission to Europe by Diaz in order to get him out of
the country, returned, and a strong party known as the Reyesistas arose
and wanted to nominate him for the presidency. He left the country,
however, before the final elections, claiming to be in fear of his life.
This voluntary expatriation of General Reyes on September 28th, when,
disguised as an invalid, he walked up the gang-plank of a steamer at Vera
Cruz, bound for New York, removed the only obstacle in the path of Sr.
Madero. The election, which was held on Sunday, October 1st, 1911, was
as peaceful as such an event could be in most parts of Mexico. It does
not necessarily mean that they were not inclined to fight, but there was
nothing to fight about. The result was that the electors chosen were
almost unanimous for Francisco Madero.

To an American this election would seem almost farcical. For the purpose
of the election the country was divided into districts, with one
presidential elector for every five hundred inhabitants. Before election
day two officials were appointed in each district. One of these officials
compiled a list of the voters in his little subdivision. When he had
looked up the voters in his district, and the names were printed and
posted on some convenient street corner, this official’s duties ended.
Any one whose name did not appear on the printed list had a right to go
to the proper authorities and state his case. All those qualified to vote
received a ballot on which they were to write the names of the electors
they wished to vote for. The second official appointed took charge of
the election booth on the morning of the election, and these booths were
generally placed at the entrance to business houses or even in the parks.
The voting places were supposed to open at 9 o’clock. The first seven
voters who appeared, with the one commissioner appointed, constituted
the election board. In American cities one could imagine a great rush of
voters to be among the first seven, but in many of the Mexican booths
that number did not arrive until half an hour or an hour after the time
the booth was supposed to open. The commissioner in charge sat at the
table with a list of the voters beside him, and, as the voters appeared,
they indicated the names of the electors for whom they wished to vote,
and the commissioner then communicated this information to the other
members of the board in an audible voice. As a general rule there was no
closed ballot box, but the ballots were merely laid in an open pasteboard
box with a paperweight on top to hold them down. Of secrecy or an attempt
at secrecy there was none. Some citizens sent their wives to vote for
them with the information that they themselves were indisposed, and these
ballots were accepted. It is claimed that the peons generally abstained
from voting, partly because of pride because they were not able to write,
but more likely because of indifference since they had never been allowed
such a privilege before.

[Illustration: SR. DON FRANCISCO I. MADERO.

Courtesy of the Bulletin of the Pan-American Union.]

The only real contest in the election was over the choice of a
Vice-President. Dr. Vasquez Gomez, who had been the principal aid of
Sr. Madero in the revolution, had been cast aside by him in favour of
José Maria Pino Suarez. The cause of the disagreement between these
two leaders of the revolution was in part over the name of the party.
Dr. Gomez insisted upon the original name of the revolutionist party,
which was Anti-reelectionista, while Sr. Madero decided upon the name of
Constitutional Progressive. Dr. Gomez continued as a candidate under the
name chosen by him. Many also voted for the Acting-President, although
he was not an active candidate. Other names of parties with tickets in
the field were Pure Liberal Party, Red Liberals, Evolutionist Party
and Reyesistas. An active campaign was carried on by several of the
candidates, and Señor Madero visited many of the states in a speaking
tour. Everywhere he was received with respect and at many times with real
enthusiasm. Soldiers were present at the voting booths in many places on
election day to prevent trouble, but there was very little disturbance
in any part of the country.

On the 6th of November, 1911, Francisco Indalecio Madero was inaugurated
President of Mexico with elaborate ceremonies, and Pino Suarez was
inducted into the office of Vice-President. The new chief executive
of the republic was born on the Hacienda del Rosario, in the state of
Coahuila, on the 4th of October, 1873, and is still a young man. He is
the eldest of a family of thirteen children, and both of his parents
are members of wealthy land-owning families. It is estimated that the
revolution cost the Maderos more than a million dollars, but they
could well afford it. He married Señorita Sara Pérez, the daughter of
a prominent Mexican, in 1900. For several years President Madero has
been the leader of the opposition in the republic. His appearance is
not that of a leader, for the new President is barely five feet four in
height and weighs less than one hundred thirty-five pounds. His figure is
slight, with small hands and feet, and he wears a full beard. By way of
preparing for his campaign Madero wrote a book entitled “The Presidential
Succession in 1910,” which created such a tremendous sensation that
it was finally suppressed by the Diaz government. It was a fearless
arraignment of what he considered to be the evils of that administration.
On June 7th, 1910, he was arrested at Monterey and imprisoned for several
weeks, not being released until after the election had been held. It was
then that he published his political platform known as the “Plan of San
Luis Potosi,” which was issued from that city on the 5th of October.
Among the reforms advocated by him were a more equitable distribution of
the lands of the republic, free restitution of lands wrested from the
Yaquis and a return of that tribe to their native state, and an abolition
of the practice of admitting malefactors into the national army.

It is impossible to predict the outcome of the Madero administration.
If the people stand by him many needed reforms may be accomplished. The
main difficulty to be overcome will be that personalism enters so much
into Mexican politics. If parties backed by real and genuine principles
and not dependent for their strength upon a single personality, shall
arise, then peaceful conditions will return and President Madero will
be permitted to work out his program. He showed himself humane and
considerate during the revolution, although he did not distinguish
himself especially as a strategist or military leader. He broke all
precedents in yielding the provisional presidency to Dr. de la Barra,
instead of seizing that office himself as he might easily have done. In
his speeches he has counselled moderation among his followers. He has a
difficult task before him, but it is the hope of the writer that he will
not disappoint those who have raised him to power.

President Madero has been accused of being anti-American in his
sympathies. As an answer to this I quote from an authorized statement by
him in an American newspaper:

“I am glad at this time to have the opportunity to assure the American
people of my great friendship and regard for them, and to assure them
that I will do all in my power during my administration to strengthen
still more the already strong friendly relations existing between the two
nations. I feel very sure that during my administration the bonds which
unite the sister republic will become far stronger than they have ever
been. I am a great admirer of the American people, for I went to school
in the United States and I have travelled much in your country. I will
welcome Americans to Mexico at all times. I want to see American energy,
American brains and American capital come to this country and assist in
its development and progress, and Americans will always find a friend in
me and my government.”



CHAPTER XXII

THE SIERRAS AND BEYOND


“Las Madres,” says the Mexican, whenever he is asked the name of the
lofty range of mountains that runs through the western part of the
northern half of Mexico, and which separate the lofty interior plateaus
from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California. This range of
mountains effectually cuts off the west coast from the best developed
part of Mexico, and for that reason this section is not so well known
as those parts which are visited by travellers. At the present time no
railway has been completed across this range of mountains, but it will
not be long until this disadvantage will exist no longer. This district
includes the great states of Sonora and Sinaloa, the territory of Tepic,
and a large part of the states of Chihuahua and Durango. To-day it is
almost a counterpart of what California was before the gold rush of
1849—little known, isolated and undeveloped—but with just as great
natural advantages. Dense jungles cover the lower levels along the coast,
where water is plentiful, while great areas in the north are semi-arid.
In the higher altitudes vast forests of pine and oak crown the serrated
peaks. The population is generally sparse and scattered.

In the future the main gateways to reach this part of the country from
the United States will be El Paso, and Benson, Arizona. From El Paso it
is a distance of a little more than two hundred miles to Chihuahua. The
traveller has no sooner crossed the Rio Grande than the change is seen
in the Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez, formerly Paso del Norte. This city
was the objective point of the revolutionists in the late trouble in
that country, and was the scene of a great deal of fighting before it
was finally captured. After its capture it was the seat of the temporary
government of the Maderistas. For several hours on the journey southward
there is nothing to be seen but the chaparral and desolate-looking hills,
with just enough novelty in the little towns that may be passed to make
the trip strange and rather old-fashioned. Big-hatted, shiftless peons
stare at you from their leaning positions against the station walls. The
“hee-haw” of a lone burro or the “cough” of a gasoline engine will be
the only sounds to break the silence.

The train rolls along through a narrow valley which is quite level,
and with high tablelands all about. Then the route reaches the land of
_haciendas_, where herds of cattle, sheep and goats may be seen. It is a
land of deep valleys, with glimpses of majestic mountains, and sometimes
with broad spreading plains as well, but the mountains are always in
view. At length, after a ride of a little more than half a day, the train
reaches Chihuahua, which is the principal city and metropolis of this
section of Mexico. Chihuahua is not a very beautiful city; nor is it as
attractive as many of the other Mexican cities, for its location and the
climate are not such as can greatly be recommended. It is destined to be
a much larger city than at present, however, by reason of the mineral
wealth surrounding it, and also because it is the starting point for
what will ultimately be the principal trade route between the United
States and northwestern Mexico. Like Monterey this city has become very
much Americanized, and that influence is noticeable in both people and
architecture.

Chihuahua is on the line of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway,
which, when completed, will form a direct route from Kansas City,
Missouri, to Topolobampo, a new port on the Pacific. At the present time
trains are running from Wichita, Kansas, almost to the Mexican border,
and two detached sections are in operation in the Republic of Mexico. One
of these starts from a point near the Rio Grande and runs to Chihuahua.
From Chihuahua westward this railroad, in conjunction with the Mexican
Northwestern Railway, traverses one of the finest grazing sections of
the republic. Broad prairies which are covered with grass stretch out
on either side to the foothills, and form rich grazing lands. The vast
ranges, the temperate climate and a fair average rainfall makes this
almost an ideal country for cattle. Upon them are fattened the beef
that feeds the country, and many animals find their way to the markets
of the United States. It is a region of immense _haciendas_, which
form almost empires in themselves, for they are larger than some of
the principalities of Europe. One estate near Chihuahua would make a
commonwealth as large as the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island
combined, with a small farm of a million acres besides. The Zuloaga
family own a _hacienda_ directly on this line of railway, which is
thirty-five miles wide and nearly one hundred miles long, and includes
about two million acres. Most of this estate consists of fine grazing
land, and it ships about forty thousand head of cattle each year, as
well as from three to six thousand mules and horses. A few years ago the
late proprietor of this estate bought an adjoining farm for two hundred
thousand dollars, and his method of paying for it is a good illustration
of Mexican business methods. He secured silver coin for this amount,
which weighed nearly six tons, and hauled it over to the seller in two
great carts.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF PEONS]

The buildings of the Zuloaga _hacienda_, which I visited, lie about
fifty miles west of Chihuahua, in one of the most beautiful locations
that could be found anywhere. They are near the foot of a range of low
mountains, and in front projects out a plain that gently slopes down to
a lake a couple of miles distant. Beyond the lake is another range of
wooded hills which seem to complete the picture. Within the walls are
the home of the _hacendado_, the church, the stables and a store. The
church is a beautiful structure, artistic in its details, and all of the
materials used in its construction were secured upon the plantation;
and all of the work, including some magnificently carved woodwork and
some creditable paintings, was done on the premises and by those living
there. The buildings are all one-storied in height, with walls thick
enough to withstand any earthquake. The rooms are large and airy, with
extremely high ceilings, through which you might drive a carriage,
and the parlours are nearly as large as public halls. More than three
thousand peons are employed on this _hacienda_, most of whom live in
buildings arranged in big hollow squares just outside of the walls of the
family’s quarters.

[Illustration: TARAHUMARI INDIANS.]

There are a number of small towns along this trans-continental line of
railway, the principal of which is Miñaca, a quaint little old-fashioned
place. The inhabitants would rather attend a chicken fight than work
or go to mass. From Miñaca this road begins the real climb over the
divide on its way to the Pacific coast. For scenic beauty it equals any
railroad in Mexico, not excepting the ride over the Mexican railway
from the City of Mexico to Vera Cruz, hitherto described. Deep cuts,
high hills, and tunnels succeed each other, as the railroad climbs up
on its way toward the line of perpetual snow. It passes through one of
the best timber sections of Mexico, where tall pine trees, straight as
an arrow, rise up for a hundred feet or more without a limb. Huge crags
of fantastic outline, tall pines silhouetted against the low-hanging
clouds and the mysterious depths of the barrancas combine to form scenes
of awe-inspiring grandeur. At dangerous points crosses on the trail tell
the story of tragedies—of riders who have probably stumbled into eternity
without a moment’s warning.

This Sierra region of Mexico should appeal to the sportsman, for much
game abounds. At nearly all elevations may be found the white-tail
deer. The mountain lion, called _tigre_, lurks in the fastnesses of
the mountains. The bear may be found wherever there are good feeding
grounds. The wild turkey is plentiful in many sections. The Mexicans do
not hunt much, so that there are many game birds. Quail are numerous in
the foothills, and wild duck, snipe and curlew are exceedingly numerous
on the lagunas and marshes of the coast, as well as in the lakes of the
mountain region. Hunting is inexpensive, and it is strange that more
Americans do not visit this unhunted region.

One of the strangest of the many tribes of Mexican Indians inhabit
the valleys and barrancas of this part of the republic. These are the
Tarahumaris, a timid race who rather shrink from contact with the white
people to any greater extent than is necessary. Occasionally these
Indians may be seen on the streets of Chihuahua, whither they go to buy
some things, or, perhaps, to carry a message for a Mexican or American.
But they do not linger any longer than is necessary. They can always be
distinguished from the other Indians because the men almost invariably
have their legs absolutely bare in all kinds of weather. They also wear
their hair long, and it hangs down over the shoulder like our red men,
while the Mexican Indians usually wear their hair short. Their features
are coarse, but their bearing has a kind of native dignity about it
that attracts. One of their medicine men once cut his hair to get some
new ideas. While the new hair was growing he kept his head tied up to
prevent his thoughts from escaping. I mention this to give an idea of the
primitiveness and simplicity of these strange people.

The Tarahumaris pay no taxes or tribute to the Mexican government. They
are quiet and inoffensive, however, and for that reason they are allowed
to inhabit the mountain slopes and inhospitable barrancas in peace. Their
houses are very simple. They are usually made by setting up forked poles
across which other straight poles are laid, and then roughly-hewed
boards are set up along the sides. Sometimes they are made entirely of
small rocks. Many of them live in the natural caves which abound in that
region, and of which I have seen scores. They are nomadic and change
their domicile frequently, although the new location may be only a few
hundred rods away from the old. Store-houses may be seen in which the
family stores its surplus supply of corn and beans, which are the only
food supplies cultivated by these people. Upon the mountains the men kill
deer and squirrels, and these, together with fish, rats and little ground
animals which abound in that region, constitute their principal meat
supply.

The Tarahumaris are not a sociable people, nor are they industrious, for
they like too well to lie on their backs or breasts in the hot sun. They
are great runners and have been known to run day after day, stopping
only to eat and secure some necessary sleep. When they are travelling
across the country one will seldom see them walking. Even on a mountain
trail they usually keep up a trot. I have seen them running up a steep
path where most of us would not want to walk very long without stopping
to rest. The chief men of the tribes carry canes as their emblem of
authority. If a man is charged with an offence a messenger is sent to
him, armed with a cane made of red Brazil wood, and the person summoned
would not dare to disobey the order. No writ issued by any court in a
civilized land commands greater obedience. It is generally the older
men who are entrusted with this badge of authority, and they are very
jealous of the privilege. This method of designating authority is quite
common among the aborigines of the Americas. The Tarahumaris are very
superstitious. They are afraid to travel after night because the dead are
supposed to be abroad at that time. The _shaman_, as the medicine man is
called, is a man of great importance among these superstitious people.
He is always present at all family celebrations, such as weddings and
funerals, and he is generally called in when there is sickness in the
family.

About one hundred and fifty miles southwest of El Paso, in the state
of Chihuahua, is a colony of considerable interest to Americans. After
travelling that number of miles of semi-desert land over the Rio Grande
and Sierra Madre Railway from Ciudad Juarez, as dreary a landscape as
one could imagine, the appearance suddenly changes as one approaches
the lands of the Mormon colony that has settled here. Fearful of the
results of the anti-polygamy agitation in the United States a few hundred
followers of Brigham Young banded together, and sought a new “promised
land.” They travelled in caravans that contained all their worldly goods
until they crossed the border into Mexico. Here they were welcomed,
for farmers are what northern Mexico needed, and religious or ethical
questions did not disturb the Mexican government. The colonists were
exempted from taxes for ten years, and their implements were allowed
free entry. Each colonist was granted a certain number of acres at low
interest and on easy terms.

The original colony has expanded into several settlements numbering
more than five thousand persons. The principal colony is named Colonia
Juarez, and it is a few miles from the station of Casas Grandes. The
Mormons are splendid agriculturalists, and they sell large quantities of
alfalfa, grains, potatoes and dairy products. They use the very latest
of American agricultural machinery on their farms. Every village has a
graded school supported by a voluntary tax, and a large central academy
is also maintained for higher education. They are devout followers of
the Mormon prophets,—these colonists across the Rio Grande,—although
they claim that no open polygamy is practised. Each man will deny the
possession of more than one wife. The excess of women with families over
the men, however, and the fact that the Mormon man is thoroughly at home
in more than one house would easily lead one to a different conclusion.
To this must be added the knowledge that these Mormons left good homes
in Utah for a tract of almost desert land in Mexico, mainly because of
the efforts of the government of the United States to stamp out plural
marriages.

The other main route to the Sierra regions is an extension of the
Southern Pacific Railroad, which is known as the Sonora Railway. This
railroad extends from Nogales, and it is destined to run to the city of
Guadalajara, a distance of about eleven hundred miles. Nogales is a city
of about three thousand inhabitants, half of which lies on either side
of the border line. A simple glance without any explanation would show
the visitor which part of it belongs to the United States, because of the
difference in the buildings and the energy of the inhabitants. From there
the railroad runs south through Magdalena and across some fertile plains
until, at a distance of almost three hundred miles from the border, it
reaches Hermosillo, the capital of the state of Sonora, which is the
second largest state in the republic. Much of this state is useless for
agriculture, as it is dry and arid, and a part is very mountainous. In
other sections the soil is extremely fertile, and irrigation would render
it invaluable. Such projects could be carried out if there was as much
enterprise on that side of the border as on the northern side. Near the
Yaqui River the soil and climate are as well adapted to fruit culture as
southern California. There are many large mining enterprises, the largest
being at Cananea, and nearly all are American enterprises. The trouble
with the Yaqui Indians has greatly hindered development in Sonora during
the past decade. Several parties of American prospectors and miners
were attacked and a number of Americans killed. The government finally
deported thousands of the Yaquis to other sections of the republic, and
their depredations then ceased.

Hermosillo is situated on the Sonora River, in the midst of an
agricultural district and surrounded by rugged mountains, where there
are many mines of gold and silver. It is the seat of a Catholic diocese,
for which a fine new cathedral has been built, and also has some very
creditable buildings. It is a city of perhaps ten or twelve thousand
people, and is the largest city in the state. From Hermosillo this
railroad runs to the port of Guaymas, which is quite an important
commercial town, and less than a hundred miles from the capital. The Bay
of Guaymas is one of the best on the Pacific coast, and the marine trade
is quite important. For a long time this town was the terminus of this
railroad, but it is too far up the Gulf of California to ever become a
very important ocean port. Within the last few years construction work
has been rapidly pushed southward at a little distance from the coast,
and through trains are now running as far as the city of Tepic, on the
way to Guadalajara.

Not a great distance south of Guaymas the Sonora Railroad enters Sinaloa,
a state nearly as large as Indiana. This state is destined to be a
great agricultural state, as it is well watered and contains a number
of fine rivers. Besides the Fuerte, Sinaloa, Culiacan and Elota Rivers,
there are a hundred or more smaller streams traversing it. It stretches
along the Pacific coast for a distance of nearly four hundred miles,
and has an average breadth of eighty miles. One-half of the state is
little known, and is traversed only by obscure and difficult trails.
Cane and corn culture have been the chief industry, but it offers good
inducements for the raising of almost all kinds of grains. In undeveloped
natural wealth, both agricultural and mineral, and in its splendid water
powers, Sinaloa is unsurpassed by any Mexican commonwealth. An American
land company has recently opened up a tract of two million acres, and
is establishing a colony that promises good results. The capital is
Culiacan, a short distance from the coast. Heretofore the only outlet for
this city of fifteen thousand has been a miserable railroad to its port,
Altata, but the new line enables passengers to go by Pullman cars to all
points in the United States. It is an old city, for the Spaniards found a
considerable settlement there. They immediately established a town which
was well fortified. The present city is quite attractive and possesses a
little manufacturing. It is the residence seat of quite a colony of rich
and cultured Mexicans, and a number of Americans interested in mining
also reside there.

Mazatlan, a little further down the coast, is the largest city and
principal port of Sinaloa. It is a picturesque place, with its cathedral
spires outlined against the sky, and cocoanut palms and thatched roofs
below. The blue Cordilleras in the distance complete the picture. A
lighthouse at the north entrance is said to be the highest lighthouse in
the world, with the exception of the one at Gibraltar. It is a city of
about twenty thousand inhabitants, and the largest city on the Pacific
coast. Although a great deal of shipping is done in Mazatlan, the harbour
is poor and offers no protection to vessels. Plans have been approved for
a safe harbour, to cost several million pesos, in order to prepare it for
the anticipated increase in business. Whether the internal troubles will
stop the building of this much-needed west coast railroad improvement
remains to be seen. Its completion will not only give an outlet for this
rich region to the United States, but also to the City of Mexico, and the
stimulus can already be seen wherever the railroad is in operation. There
is not a richer section in the whole republic than these coast lands,
but because of their isolation everything has been backward, and all
work has been done in the very crudest and most primitive ways. The only
development that has taken place is in mining, and most of the mines are
even yet operated in the old-fashioned ways, because of the difficulty
of transporting machinery and fuel.

The territory of Tepic is almost as large as the states of Massachusetts
and Connecticut combined. In natural resources it will compare with
Sinaloa, for it is well watered and affords fine opportunities for
agriculture. Some day the jungles will be transformed into orange groves
and banana plantations, while the higher lands will produce rich harvests
of grain and coffee. The water power could be utilized to turn the wheels
of factories or to run the railroads which are so much needed.

The capital city of Tepic, a municipality of fifteen thousand people,
has been asleep, but will now be awakened daily by the noise of the
locomotive. At an elevation of three thousand feet the air is fresh and
invigorating. The climate is pronounced almost ideal by those who live
there, and it is free from the fevers that prevail in the low coast
lands. It does not differ in general appearance from many other Mexican
cities, but is a quaint and interesting town.

Separated from the mainland of Mexico by the Gulf of California and
the Colorado River, lies that little known territory of Baja (lower)
California. It is a long narrow peninsula that projects about eight
hundred miles southeasterly from the southern border of California.
Its width varies from about thirty to over one hundred miles, with an
irregular coast line over two thousand miles long bordered by numerous
islands, and in size is a trifle larger than the state of Iowa. Lower
California is mainly mountainous, with irregular plains along the Pacific
coast, and smaller plains and valleys along the north coast and in some
parts of the interior. In climatic and other physical features the
northern part of the peninsula is very similar to southern California,
with some local modifications. The southern end of the Colorado Desert
crosses the border, and continues down along the northern coast for some
distance. Along the Pacific coast a low range of mountains recedes a
short distance inland, and continues for some distance. In the southern
part of the peninsula they become higher, forming the San Pedro Martir
Mountains, which reach a height of over ten thousand feet above the sea.
Vast desolate plateaus of black lava, which surround little gem-like
valleys, are succeeded by extensive stretches of desert upon which
nothing but the cactus will grow. The western coast is bathed by cool
waters and fogs, while the eastern shores are washed by the waves of a
warm inland sea, and have almost continuous sunshine.

Lower California was one of the early discoveries of the Spaniards,
and was promptly placed in charge of the Jesuits, whose missionaries
were quite successful. They explored all parts of the peninsula and
established missions among the Indians, and at the same time introduced
many of the crops and fruits of the Old World. They established three
main trails throughout the length of the peninsula, one following each
coast and the other running near the centre. These roads are to-day the
only routes of travel, and, except for short distances, can only be
pursued on mule-back. Most of the Indians who formerly inhabited the
peninsula have disappeared, and the population to-day is very small.
Some of the old mission churches are still in use, while others are
represented simply by fragments of ruined walls and choked-up irrigating
ditches.

Agriculture has never flourished to any great extent in Lower California.
Numerous colonies have been practically failures, with the exception
of some recent ones near the international border, where water for
irrigation has been obtained from the Colorado River. All of the
peninsula has been traversed many times by prospectors in search of
gold, silver and other minerals, and a number of valuable mines have
been located in various places. The general climate is hot and arid, as
is evidenced by the vegetation, although in the southern regions there
are districts which have regular summer rains. As a consequence of the
arid conditions the surface water is scarce, and is limited to isolated
waterfalls or to springs from which small streams sometime flow for a
short distance, and then sink into the earth.

The country is divided for administration into the northern and southern
portions, with Ensenada, a small port on the west coast as the capital
of the northern part, and La Paz, on the eastern coast, the capital of
the southern portion. La Paz is the only city of any particular size,
and is a place of about six thousand people. The streets are well laid
out, and there are some excellent stores and many comfortable houses. The
gardens are filled with palms and various tropical trees, so that the
city has quite a decided tropical appearance, although it is surrounded
by an arid district. It is the seat of the pearl fisheries, which are
quite flourishing in the Gulf, and the output of pearls is quite an
important item. Tia Juana (Aunt Jane) is a small town on the border not
far from San Diego, and it is, perhaps, better known than any other town
on the peninsula. Several skirmishes took place within its borders during
the recent revolution led by Madero, and many of the participants were
Americans.

Magdalena Bay, concerning which there has been considerable talk of
the United States trying to secure as a coaling station, is the finest
land-locked harbour on the Pacific coast, with a narrow entrance which is
protected by the high headlands. The bay is about fifteen miles across,
with low sandy shores, and would furnish a fine protection for scores
of the largest vessels. It is also within sight of the regular sailing
route of steamers bound for Panama. For that reason it would be a very
advantageous possession of the United States, if it could be obtained by
negotiations with the Mexican government.

The plant life of Lower California is different from that of any other
part of the world—so naturalists say. There is a veritable riot of
strange forms of cacti and other plants which manage to live without
rainfall. The cacti vary from giant forms, which raise their massive
fluted trunks to a height of fifty to sixty feet, to little straggling
species which are too weak to stand upright. Another peculiar form is
the creeping devil cactus, as it is called, which has the appearance
of gigantic caterpillars crawling in every direction. These plants
do actually travel away from a common centre, as the stem sends down
rootlets every little distance, and then the older stems in the rear die
about as fast as it advances in the front. There are not many species of
birds or animals, and only such kinds as can live where water is scarce
will be found. It is said that some animals have been found that never
drink water, and even in captivity can not be taught to drink, as it does
not seem necessary to their existence.

Owing to its desert character the peninsula is very thinly peopled,
and there are extensive sections where not a single inhabitant will be
found. The most populous section is that south of La Paz, where the
rains are more regular. A few small towns or villages will be found
scattered around the coast, with a limited number of prospectors and
miners gathered in the interior. The effort to colonize Lower California
has been a tale of unbroken failure for more than fifty years. A few
rainy years will cause apparent prosperity, but the succeeding years
may be rainless and disaster follows. Those who have studied Lower
California say that it is not all a hopeless desert, but that there are
possibilities of agriculture through irrigation in many parts.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE RUINED CITIES OF YUCATAN


The Mayas (pronounced My-yah) were an ancient people of whom little is
known. They dwelt on the broad plains of Yucatan and Central America,
and built many cities, or governmental centres, for no ruins of private
dwellings have yet been found. The groups of buildings resemble in no
way our cities of the present day. They consist everywhere of temples
and palaces of the reigning princes or caciques, of public buildings
scattered about apparently at random, covering a vast area, with cemented
roads and gardens intervening. The centres of the towns were occupied
by the public squares and temples; around these were the palaces of the
priests and lords, and the outskirts were evidently allotted to the
lower classes. Religion and government seem to have gone hand in hand
among these primitive Mexicans. The Maya civilization had reached a
height unexcelled by any people of the western hemisphere prior to the
coming of the white man. They were skilled in architecture, in sculpture
and in writing. The priests had developed the science of astronomy to
a considerable extent. They had studied with some success the solar
system. They had developed a calendar system and created a chronology. So
far as these chronological accounts have been worked out they run back
three thousand years or more. They reckoned time much as we do, from a
fixed date, namely, the birth of Christ. The later dates of the Quirigua
inscriptions are generally believed to be somewhere about the beginning
of the Christian era.

The oldest of the ruins of the Maya race is said to be that of Copan,
which is situated in Honduras, just across the border from Guatemala. It
also seems to have been the southernmost point of their migration, as
Tula was the northerly terminus of their wanderings. Then comes Quirigua,
in Guatemala, which is one of the most remarkable and inexplicable of
all the ruins. Tradition sheds no light whatever on these ruins of Copan
or Quirigua. The mysterious silence that surrounds these forms a void in
the history of the human race. There are doubtless other ruins awaiting
the traveller and explorer in the wilderness around Lake Peten, in the
northern part of Guatemala. The founder of the race was Izamat-Ul. “To
him were brought,” says an old writer, “the sick, the halt and the dead,
and he healed and restored them all to life by the touch of his hand.”
Hence he was generally known as the Miraculous Hand, and in inscriptions
is frequently represented by a hand only.

[Illustration: CRUMBLING RUINS OF THE ANCIENT MEXICAN CIVILIZATION]

In the extreme southeastern part of Mexico, on a small peninsula known as
Yucatan, is a section which was at one time the abode of this progressive
and migrating race known generally among anthropologists as the Mayas.
This distant province deserves far more mention than it usually receives
from passing travellers. Though possessing few natural attractions
Yucatan is a never-ending source of interest for the anthropologist
and archeologist. The whole peninsula is a vast limestone formation,
with little or no surface water. Rain is infrequent in most parts, and
one might travel for miles without crossing a river or brook, or even
chancing upon a spring. In most sections of this peninsula the water is
at least seventy feet below the surface of the ground. At the present
time windmills aid the inhabitants of that section where the henequen,
from which binder twine is made, is raised, but centuries ago such
facilities were unknown. There were, however, in some places natural
wells which reached down to the depth of what seem to be underground
rivers, and it was near these that several ancient cities were located.
At least a score of these ancient cities have been explored, of which
the best known and most important are Palenque, Uxmal and Chichen Itza.
It is known that since the Spaniards first set foot on this peninsula
many monuments and practically entire cities have disappeared. At one
time, a contemporary writer asserts, there were destroyed in Yucatan
five thousand idols of various forms and dimensions, thirteen huge
stones which were used as altars, twenty-two smaller stones of various
shapes, one hundred and ninety-seven manuscripts of all kinds, including
twenty-seven written on deer skins.

Chichen Itza, which is generally interpreted to mean “the mouth of the
wells of the Itzas,” seems to have been the leading city, and it was
located near two of the largest natural wells, which are immense natural
pits with perpendicular sides. It is probable that these phenomena
attracted the Mayas in their northern migration. As the tribes quarrelled
different factions separated from the original body and established new
cities as capitals. Thus Chichen Itza came into being. On this desolate
soil,

                “ ... buried ’mid trees,
    Upspringing there for sunless centuries,
    Behold a royal city, vast and lone,
    Lost to each race, to all the world unknown,
    Like famed Pompeii, ’neath her lava bed.
    ...
    At every step some palace meets the eye,
    Some figure frowns, some temple courts the sky.”

Before Cortez landed on Mexican soil the star of these ancient peoples
had already set. Their oldest cities had their birth so far back in the
twilight of time that not even tradition was able to tell the history
of the tribes, the causes that led to their decay or the time of their
disaster. Some traditions were told to the Spaniards, but they are of
such uncertain origin that very little credence can be placed in them.
Upon the walls are sculptures which speak to us in an unknown language;
hieroglyphics, and the chiselled types of a people long since departed.
The hieroglyphics would probably explain all, but no interpreting key
has yet been discovered to give an explanation to the writings. Some
authorities assert, however, that Chichen Itza was inhabited at the
time of the Conquest. A Spaniard by the name of Aquilar was wrecked on
this coast and lived with a powerful cacique for several years, but he
left behind him no written memoirs. At any rate, it is known that the
Spanish forces occupied this place for at least two years. At first the
submission of the natives was complete, but after a time they rallied
from their stupor, tiring of ministering to the insatiable wants of their
conquerors, and much severe fighting followed.

Of the two great wells at Chichen Itza one was used for the general water
supply, the _cenote grande_, and the other was reserved for religious
use exclusively, the _cenote sacra_. Picturesque indeed must have been
the throngs of white-robed women who peopled the steps of the _cenote
grande_ at all hours of the day to fetch water for household purposes.
They probably carried double-handled urns on their hips or shoulders
just as their descendants do at this present day. From far and near all
over Yucatan pilgrimages were made to the sacred well, which was on
the outskirts of the city, just as pilgrimages are made to-day to holy
shrines by Catholics and Mohammedans. It was this that gave the city its
holy character. Offerings of many kinds were made to the deities. It
is said that in time of drouth offerings of precious stones and other
valuables were thrown into it, and in specially protracted cases human
beings were thrown into it as sacrifices. Even after the time of the
Spanish conquest there are recorded instances of pilgrimages to the
sacred well for the purpose of sacrificing slaves to relieve a drouth.
These victims were supposed to live even after they had disappeared
beneath the sacred waters. A Spanish writer of the time asserts that this
was done as late as 1560.

The Chichen Itza of the olden times, filled with pilgrims from far and
near, would scarcely be recognized in the place of to-day. The jungle
has gradually crept its way into the very holy of holies. Columns have
been overthrown, and some of the structures have been almost lost in
a tangle of thorns and creepers. Even in the last half century the
destruction and disintegration has been very noticeable. To reach the
place it is necessary to ride about fifteen miles over a rough and
wearisome road. All around lie buried in thick jungle ruins of palaces
and other buildings. Pyramid-like structures seem to have been one of
the favourite forms of building. The most imposing of these on this site
rises sixty-eight feet above the plain, and each side is almost one
hundred and seventy-five feet in length, the whole covering about an acre
of ground. This structure is called the Castillo, although it was really
a temple. It is made up of nine terraces of faced masonry, narrowing
toward the top, each one elaborately panelled to relieve the monotony. On
each side there is a broad stairway, with a flight of ninety steps, with
stone balustrades, which are generally carved to represent reptiles. A
stone building almost forty feet square crowns the summit. The northern
façade must have been very striking before time and the destroying hand
of man wrought their work. There were no doors on any of the buildings,
and no traces of hinges have been found. At the western base of the
pyramid is the walk that leads to the sacred well. It is believed that on
the top of this pyramid the sacred rites of the priests of their faith
were performed, and it is said that the sacrificial victims were led
down these stairways, then along the causeway and finally cast into the
sacred well. It is easy for the imagination to picture the scene in all
its splendour of white-robed priests, smoking censors, and—saddest of
all—the victims bedecked with garlands of flowers.

There are ruins of colonnades, courts, buildings and other structures
of which many columns are standing at Chichen Itza, and it has been
called “the city of a thousand columns” by some writers. One of the most
important monuments is the Nun’s Palace, as it is called. It is not so
large as others, but contains a greater number of apartments. It is
said to have been the custom of these people to educate girls of noble
birth to the service of the gods, on their attaining the age of twelve
or thirteen. Their service was similar to that of the Vestal Virgins,
although the vows were not always perpetual. It was their duty to keep
the altar supplied with fresh flowers and to sweep the temples. One group
of structures is called the Ball Court, as it is believed to have been
used for a game similar to the modern basket ball. It consists of two
perpendicular parallel walls from north to south thirty-two feet high,
three hundred and twenty-five feet long and one hundred and thirteen feet
apart. The ends of this quadrangle are each occupied by a small temple.
In the centre of each wall, about fifteen feet from the ground, there are
two stone discs with holes through the centre, which seem to have had
a part in this or some other game. The vast proportions of this court,
or tlachtle, would seem to indicate that this game was very popular
with the Yucatecos. Some of the well preserved ruins present beautiful
sculptured façades, to which names have been given because of the fancied
resemblance to something. For instance, one has been called the ruins of
the “House of the Tigers,” because of a frieze of stalking tigers divided
by richly fringed shells; another round building, known as El Caracol,
“The Snail,” is the best preserved building at Chichen; “The Red House,”
and the “House of the Dark Writing,” are still other structures. In all
directions for several miles the bush is strewn with ruins. Crumbling
walls and courts overgrown with jungle growth are encountered on every
side, but because of the disintegration these once splendid palaces and
temples are now little more than shapeless masses of crumbled masonry.
The human figures seen on these monuments have the usual types of the
Toltec carvings on the plateaus of Mexico. The total area covered by
these ruins has been estimated by some investigators as high as ten
square miles.

The next largest and most interesting city of ruins is known as Uxmal,
which was the capital of the Tutal Xiu branch of the Mayas. This city
is located between low ranges of hills, perhaps one hundred miles from
Chichen Itza. When seen from an eminence a dozen or more imposing
structures of white limestone are presented to view. This city, no
doubt, supplied a very important part in the early history of Yucatan—at
least if one is to judge from its size. It is believed that this was the
original city of the Toltecs. A dozen or more imposing structures of
considerable size still stand here that can be identified, in addition
to the large numbers of ruins which can scarcely be outlined. The most
notable sanctuary of Uxmal, which is now known as the “House of the
Dwarf,” is over fifty feet high, and also surmounts a steep-sloped
pyramid one hundred feet in height. Two stairways on opposite sides lead
to this building. It is so named because the natives say it was built by
a savage dwarf in a single night. Long after the city was abandoned this
temple was held in especial veneration. The Spanish priests used to find
offerings of cocoa and copal on it, and they attributed this to devil
worship. Two lines of parallel walls, parts of which are still standing,
enclose a court or quadrangle, which is similar to the Ball Court at
Chichen. The group of buildings around it encloses more than one hundred
rooms. All of the buildings seem to have been built on low platforms
or terraces. There is also at this place a high terrace, or platform,
that covers over three acres of ground, and on which is a second and a
third terrace, upon the latter of which is the ruin of a building known
as the Governor’s Palace. This building is one of the finest samples
of early American architecture still extant. It stands at an elevation
of forty-four feet above the plains, and commands a splendid view of
the city. Its exterior walls are decorated with sculptured masonry, in
the making of which it is estimated there are upward of twenty thousand
sculptured pieces of stone. The building is three hundred and twenty-two
feet long, and is divided into three parts by two arcades which pass
clear through. It is built entirely of stone without ornament to a
height of ten feet, then comes a cornice, above which is a wall that
is a bewildering maze of beautiful sculpture. This frieze has a row
of colossal heads, and is divided into panels which are alternately
filled with grecques in high relief, and diamond or lattice work. All
the lintels of the building here are of wood in an excellent state of
preservation.

[Illustration: AN OLD CHURCH]

At Uxmal there is a building called the “House of Turtles,” because
of a row of turtles used as ornaments in the upper cornice. It is the
freest from ornamentation of any of the structures. The turtles are
found sculptured at various places along the cornice. The “House of
the Pigeons” is the name of another building, because of the fancied
resemblance to a dove-cote. The crest of the roof is perforated with
many rectangular openings—but the resemblance for which the name is
given is very fanciful. At this site there were none of the natural
wells described at the other city, but these people constructed some
natural reservoirs a short distance from the town in which the rainfall
was collected, and which gave the necessary water supply for the people.
Furthermore, some of the buildings seem to have had subterranean cisterns
of large size under them. Heavy rainfall occurs here for about one-half
the year, but during the other half there is practically no rainfall,
and water becomes very scarce and valuable. The so-called “House of the
Nuns” is the largest building and bears the richest and most intricate
carving at Uxmal. It is composed of four buildings, the largest of
which is two hundred and seventy-nine feet in length. The four buildings
enclose a great court, with sides two hundred and fourteen and two
hundred and fifty-eight feet in length, the entrance to which is through
a high triangular-arched gateway. This building originally contained no
less than eighty-eight apartments of various sizes. A number of writers
believe that many of these buildings at Uxmal are comparatively recent,
because of the appearance of the stone and the well-preserved character
of the wood used in the construction.

These structures are only a part of the ruins that still remain, for
the jungle on either side hides the remains of what were once imposing
buildings. Many of these have been literally torn asunder by trees, whose
roots have forced themselves between the stones and pried them apart. No
doubt this city once housed many thousands of people, but to-day it is
without inhabitants. The pomp and glory of former times have disappeared;
and all is silent save for the birds that nest in the trees and bushes.

The third city of ruins, Palenque, is situated at a considerable distance
south and west of the two just described, and not far from San Juan
Bautista. Palenque, according to Charney, was a holy city—a place for
pilgrimage. In the carvings neither sword, spear, shield nor arrow
appear. The representations are all of peaceful subjects, usually a
personage standing with a sceptre and with prostrated acolytes at his
feet. From the expression one would judge that they were worshippers, and
not slaves or captives. Their expression is always peaceful and serene
and that of worshippers and believers. The city is built in the form of
an amphitheatre, on the lowest slope of the lofty Cordilleras beyond.
Its high position affords a magnificent view over the forest-covered
plain below stretching as far as the sea. In all the structures the
builder levelled out the ground in narrow terraces, on which artificial
elevations of pyramidal forms were reared, and the hillside was faced
with hewed stones. At Palenque there are in all ten buildings in view,
each one crowning an elevation artificially made. As one enters the
grounds there are several buildings to the right and left, but directly
in front are the remains of the Palace. At one time this building has
been very large and imposing. Remains of a broad flight of steps that led
to the imposing entrance corridor are in plain evidence. Flights of steps
led down to the first patio, which was surrounded by lofty corridors
with roofs of pointed arches and which led into small apartments.
There were two of these patios in the Palace of irregular size. Double
galleries which made a sort of cloister surrounded them. Gloomy entrances
from these corridors lead to underground chambers, where there are tables
which are called altars, beds and dining tables by different writers. A
lack of system seems to prevail in the building of the Palace. On top of
one of the walls two immense forest trees are now growing. In the central
portion are the ruins of a tower, of which three stories are still
standing, with many windows. It is a square tower ornamented to the north
with pointed niches; otherwise it is almost devoid of ornamentation.
On the contrary the galleries are richly ornamented with medallions,
probably representing priests and priestesses. Many human figures are
sculptured in low relief representing priests with mitres on their heads
and in uncomfortable attitudes. The faces are oftentimes defaced in order
to give an appearance of ferocity. Some of the figures of the deities are
fantastic, monstrous and even terrible.

The Temple of Inscriptions stands on a hill about fifty feet high. A
magnificent view of the ruins is afforded by this elevation, as well as
the broad tablelands surrounding. There are three large mural tablets
covered with picture writing and hieroglyphs, supposed to be copies
of the laws of these ancient people, in the building. Across a little
valley over which an aqueduct leads the land rises in terraces, and is
surmounted with artificially made hills on which are the ruins of more
buildings—two Temples of the Cross and the Temple of the Sun. The Temple
of the Sun is almost perfectly preserved. The interior is one large room
with a sanctuary at one end. In each of these are mural tablets which
contain what is known as the Cross of Palenque. The cruciform shape,
such as the swastika and other forms, is not uncommon among aboriginal
people, but this is what is known as the Latin cross. Whether this arose
by chance through the invention of the artist, or the cross had some
religious significance among these people, still remains an absolute
mystery. Charney asserts that it is one of the symbols of Tlaloa, the god
of rain, but other writers differ with him. The body of the cross, which
rests on a hideous head, is sculptured in the centre, and at the upper
end are two human figures. On one there is an inscription of sixty-eight
characters, which doubtless explain the ceremony represented by the
sculpture. Again it is surmounted by the sacred bird of the Mayas, the
quetzal. In another this place is taken by a representation of the sun
with its spreading rays. Where did the Mayas get their idea of the cross
so sacred among Christian people? No one has yet been able to answer this
question satisfactorily.

Who built these structures? For what purpose were they reared? Various
are the theories, and many are the speculations covering them. But
authentic information is absolutely wanting, and the passing years shed
little light. The modern Yucatecos are an attractive people. No people
in the world are pleasanter or have more delightful manners than they.
The young women have a winning grace and charm that is peculiarly their
own. Their costume is not greatly unlike that of the Tehuanas—and it is
fully as unique and becoming. It is quite probable that their customs and
characteristics have not changed much since the Spanish occupation. They
have always been an independent people, and have caused much more trouble
than the majority of the aboriginal tribes of Mexico.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE


The old-fashioned Don, accustomed to ox-carts, wooden ploughs, and a
horde of men ready to serve him, no doubt views with dismay the changes
being wrought by steam and electricity. The younger generation has been
educated abroad, or in the States, and rather welcomes the innovations.
The spirit of revolution and political unrest that prevailed for the
first sixty years of the republic has lessened, even if it has not
entirely passed away. Education and immigration have worked wonders
in the country; and, above all, the establishment of a government
that for almost a third of a century commanded obedience at home and
respect abroad is responsible for the mutation in Mexico. It was an
absolute republic and under a strong controlling hand. It was the family
government applied to the state, for it was very paternal in its rule.

[Illustration: PRIMITIVE TRANSPORTATION]

Mexico is a human country and is not without its faults. The greatest
of these are, however, the result of conditions for which the present
generation of nation-builders are not responsible. A transformation
can not be wrought in a decade, nor in a generation. And yet the real
accomplishments of the past twenty-five years in Mexico are marvellous.
Americans who have lived there during that time wax eloquent in
describing the great change for the better. Whereas formerly people
hesitated to invest money for fear of political changes, investments in
that country are now looked upon as safe, and Mexican securities are
given a fixed value on the bourses of the world.

Modern luxuries and conveniences are being introduced everywhere. The
people are simply installing in a hurry the things that other countries
have been acquiring for the half of a century. Every city is bestirring
herself, and electric light plants, modern sewerage systems and water
works are being constructed as rapidly as things can move in this land
of procrastination. Old and crude methods of power are being replaced
by up-to-date machinery in mines and manufactures. Electric railways
are replacing the mule tram lines, and the merry hum of the trolley is
fast succeeding the bray of the long-eared motor just mentioned. Mexico
lagged behind so long that she has had quite a distance to go, and it
will be a long while before she can entirely catch up with the head of
the procession. Material wealth is increasing. Better wages are paid,
and the surplus is being expended for more and better goods. The wants
of the great bulk of the people are so few, that it must be a long time
before there will be a great change in their method of living; but their
children are being educated, and that in itself works wonders in their
uplifting.

For more than twenty years the finances of the government have shown a
surplus. What a contrast to all the years of the republic before that
time. In 1876 the total revenue of the government was but $19,000,000
silver. For the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1910, this had increased to
$53,164,242 United States gold. From a yearly deficit a surplus has been
evolved which annually amounts to several million dollars. The total cash
in the treasury at the date of the above report amounted to $37,042,857
gold. This statement shows a healthy condition of affairs. The government
now finds willing buyers for its bonds, and all its obligations have been
met promptly for a number of years.

Finance Minister Limantour, who held that position for many years, proved
himself to be a Napoleon of finance, and his reputation extended to every
financial centre in the world. Establishing the gold standard was a great
achievement. Just a few years ago Mexican silver varied from $2.05 to
$2.40 for a gold dollar, and all business was unsettled as a result.
Now the government has established a rate of exchange of two silver
dollars for one of gold, and all this was done without any friction or
disturbance. It is to be hoped that the new administration will maintain
the same high standard of financial integrity that has been handed down
by its immediate predecessor.

The foreign trade of Mexico runs into big figures. The total
extra-territorial trade of the republic for the year ending June 30th,
1910, amounted to $227,456,025 in United States gold. Of this amount
$130,023,135 represented exports and $97,432,890, imports. Of the exports
$78,260,037 were of mineral products, while vegetable products were
less than half that amount. An analysis of the imports shows by far
the largest items were included under manufactured articles, such as
machinery, textiles, chemical products, etc. Arms and explosives imported
exceeded a million and a half dollars in value, thus showing that the
government and people were even then preparing for the struggle to
follow. By far the largest proportion of exports and imports was with the
United States. Imports from the United States amounted to the tidy sum
of $56,421,551, an increase of twelve million dollars over the preceding
year, and the exports to the United States were $98,432,859, an increase
of almost an equal amount. The United Kingdom is the nearest competitor
in the foreign trade with our neighbouring republic. While the imports
from the United States showed an increase of twenty-four per cent. over
the preceding year, the increase from the United Kingdom and Germany was
only twelve and eighteen per cent. respectively. Imports from the mother
country, Spain, were less than three per cent. of the whole.

In the matter of trade, as is shown by the trade statistics, the
United States is easily the predominant factor. The proximity of the
country has probably been the cause of this, as it has led Americans to
investigate the natural resources and invest money in railroads, mines,
public works and many other enterprises. The same influence can be seen
in the banking interests. There are a number of very strong banks in
Mexico, of which the Banco Nacional, or National Bank of Mexico, is the
most influential. This bank was established in 1881, at a time when the
financial condition of the country was anything but prosperous, and its
growth has been continuous and at times almost phenomenal. This bank and
one other are the only institutions that have the privilege of issuing
bank notes in the Federal District, although some banks in other parts
of the country have the same privilege. The Bank of London and Mexico,
originally a British concern, but now owned by French capital, ranks
next in importance, although it is very closely followed by the United
States Banking Company, an American enterprise with a number of branches
throughout the republic. There are many other banks, some of them under
the banking laws of the republic, and others private enterprises, which
gives Mexico very good facilities for the transaction of all kinds of
banking and commercial business. In 1893 there were only eight banks
in the entire republic, but now there are more than sixty. They have a
circulation of nearly $100,000,000, and a capital in excess of that sum.
The American influence, and the banks controlled by Americans, have aided
greatly in the development of business between the two countries, and it
is the writer’s belief that similar establishments throughout the rest
of Latin America would be one of the greatest aids to the extension of
American influence and commerce that could be devised.

The increase of manufacturing has been quite noticeable in recent
years, and eventually will cause a diminution in the imports of certain
articles. Quite a number of cotton factories have been established in
certain sections of the country, and the labour has been found quite
well adapted to that class of manufacturing. Establishments for the
preparation and curing of meats have also been built under government
concessions, while tobacco factories, which work up the very excellent
tobacco grown in the country, and breweries have been established in many
sections of the country. The Mexican tobacco is said by those who pose
as experts to have a very excellent flavour, and by many is claimed to
be superior even to the Cuban article. The product grown in the state
of Vera Cruz has the best flavour, but a number of other states produce
large quantities of the weed.

The greatest enterprise now operating in Mexico, excepting only
the railroads, is the Mexico Light and Power Company, a Canadian
corporation. This group of men own the electric light and gas plants and
the tramways of the City of Mexico, Puebla and a number of other cities.
As a part of their enterprise they have built a great dam by means of
which the waters of the Necaxa River are utilized for the production
of the electricity. This is distant ninety-six miles to the northeast
of the capital. Fed by springs this river becomes a good sized stream
before it plunges over a precipice of four hundred and sixty feet, and
a short distance beyond is one of a still greater fall. The main dam is
one hundred and ninety-four feet high and about thirteen hundred feet
wide, and contains an immense amount of material. It is built of stone
and concrete. By means of this and the auxiliary dams a valley has been
made into an immense reservoir, so that the dry season might be provided
for when the natural flow of water would be insufficient. It is claimed
that enough water can be stored to run the power plant through two years
of continual drouth. The water is carried to the turbines by means of
pipes which pierce the mountain, bringing to each turbine a stream of
water six feet in diameter and carrying all the force of a drop exceeding
one thousand feet. The total transmission lines reach a length of more
than two hundred miles, and the capacity of the plant is two hundred and
fifty thousand horse power. At the present time this company supplies all
the electric power in the capital, as well as several mining enterprises,
and as soon as the plant is wholly completed, will supply Puebla and
other cities. Its franchise is from the Mexican government and is in
perpetuity. This simply gives an indication of what can be done in the
development of the natural resources of Mexico. In a country where fuel
is scarce and high priced, the value of the water power is accordingly
increased. There are many other waterfalls awaiting development, and it
only needs the necessary capital, and a combination of far-sighted men,
such as those who compose the Canadian corporation above mentioned, to
supply the great need of Mexico for cheap and satisfactory power.

[Illustration: PRIMITIVE PLOUGHING NEAR OAXACA]

It is unfortunate for Mexico that mining has absorbed almost all of her
energies, and agriculture has been allowed to drop into a secondary
position. One cause for this has been the Spanish characteristic,
as represented by the original conquerors, of seeking quick wealth
instead of attempting to coax out of mother earth the treasure that
she possesses. There are labourers in plenty, if they are properly
instructed, but the _hacendados_, as well as labourers, adhere to the
most primitive methods. It has been said that “earth is here so kind
that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.” This
is not true of all parts of the country, of course, for much of it is
mountainous and of a broken character, but the statement will apply to
large portions of the republic.

The government of Mexico has endeavoured to improve agricultural
conditions by disseminating information as to scientific methods of
cultivation, irrigation and fertilization, but very little of it has had
a noticeable effect. The government has also distributed large quantities
of seeds and plants with little effect. In most parts of the republic the
land is tilled just as it was four centuries ago. It is really surprising
that, in spite of these antiquated methods, the results have been so good
as they are. As mentioned heretofore the wooden plough with a small iron
shoe, which merely scratches the surface of the earth, is still used; men
may be seen cutting wheat with the sickle, and much of the threshing is
done by driving horses and mules around a ring covered with grain, just
as it was done in the old Biblical days. The winnowing is accomplished
by tossing the wheat and the chaff into the air, and then the grain is
hauled to the _haciendas_ or markets in clumsy and ponderous two-wheeled
carts.

A _hacienda_ run upon modern American methods would certainly be a much
more profitable enterprise than when conducted after this style. In a
few sections of the country, one will find a plantation here and there
where some new methods have been introduced and American machinery
employed, but these are rare. Even in the Valley of Mexico, not far from
the City of Mexico, the most antiquated methods will be seen employed
at all times. The richness of the land and its cheapness has caused the
floating of many land companies in the United States. They can show
great prospects on paper, but the trouble is that many of them have
been floated by unscrupulous men, who care nothing for the interests of
the stockholders, but are looking simply for promoters’ profits. When
the real buyers reach the land they discover that things are not as
represented, do not find conditions of living to their liking, and in
a very short time the whole enterprise is dropped. Many have probably
lost practically all of their savings. These things, of course, cannot be
entirely guarded against, and they certainly fail to prove that Mexico is
not a rich agricultural country. They simply demonstrate what fraud can
be perpetrated upon people in a country where the land is teeming with
fertility. Land values have undoubtedly advanced in the past few years,
and some enormous tracts have been purchased by Americans, which are
already showing profits for the owners.

There has been much criticism heaped upon the Mexican courts, and a great
deal of it has been deserved. The judicial system of Mexico is copied
rather after the French and Spanish than the Anglo-Saxon system. In
recent years the procedure has been improved greatly, but it still needs
other changes in order to bring it up to the twentieth century standards.
In years past American railroad engineers, who were unfortunate enough
to run over some one, received harsh treatment in Mexican jails. The law
of _incommunicado_, by which an accused person is locked up for three
days, is still in force. It used to be that a wounded person could not
be touched or moved before the arrival of the authorities, which caused
much suffering; but this at least has been abolished. The judicial
system, which includes supreme courts, district courts, circuit courts,
police courts and other minor courts, is intended to give justice to
the defendant in a criminal action, and to both parties in a civil
action, but in many cases—to an American—the result does not seem to be
satisfactory.

The jury system is in use in Mexico, and nine persons compose a jury.
The jurymen may consist of both natives and foreigners, but the members
must have some occupation, education or independent means. The law
provides that the accused must be acquainted with the names and number
of his accusers, and must be confronted with the witnesses who testify
against him. The testimony is all taken down in longhand writing, which
is a tedious process, as followed out in Mexican courts. In criminal
cases it is generally read over to the witness and signed by him, which
method, although it is cumbersome, sometimes gives a degree of certainty
and correctness to the testimony. It is true that in many cases the
points that are raised by the accused are treated with very little
consideration. This is not the fault of the law, but is the result of its
maladministration by the officials, just as similar instances are the
world over. Arrests of natives are made for all sorts of offences, many
of which are trivial, and they are generally kept in jail for several
days before they are finally given a hearing. Foreigners are usually
treated with great consideration and substantial justice is done them. It
probably is not good policy for citizens of another country to criticise
Mexico, when there are so many blots upon the administration of justice
in every civilized country, and the United States is not an exception.
Local conditions, public clamour and other things influence the action of
courts in Mexico, just as they do in every other country.

In addition to the railroad connections the steamship lines form a very
important part in the national transportation of Mexico. The long coast
line on both the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico provides many ports.
The national traffic between these ports is quite a considerable item,
but the foreign commerce is still greater. At the present time Mexico has
direct steamship connection with the United States, Canada, Europe, South
America, Central America, the West Indies and the Orient. The principal
ports are Tampico, Puerto Mexico (formerly Coatzacoalcos) and Progresso
on the Gulf, and Salina Cruz, Acapulco, Manzanillo, and Mazatlan on the
Pacific. There are in all more than twenty steamship lines that have
contracts with the government for carrying the mails, and nearly all
of these enjoy subsidies of large or small amounts or enjoy certain
privileges or concessions.

The most important company operating is the one known as the Ward
Line, which conducts a weekly service between several Mexican ports,
Havana and New York. This company has some very good boats, and does
a large business between all of those ports. The Mallory Line, the
Mexican-American Line and the Munson Line have regular service between
Mexican ports, Galveston and New Orleans. There are also several
companies that make regular trips between Vera Cruz, Tampico and European
ports. On the Pacific coast the Kosmos Line, operated by the Hamburg
American Company, have a regular service from Seattle down the west
coast of the United States, Mexico, Central America and South America
to Europe by the way of the Straits of Magellan. The Pacific Mail
Steamship Company operate about three boats a month from San Francisco
to Panama, where connections are made for New York and West Coast ports
of South America. The American-Hawaiian Company have boats which sail
between Hawaii and Salina Cruz. There are also, in addition to these
mentioned, a number of coast lines on both the Pacific and Atlantic
side, which do a considerable traffic between the various ports. The
Canadian-Mexican Pacific Steamship Company recently began to operate
boats between Victoria, British Columbia and Salina Cruz, and gives a
monthly service between those ports. In order to develop and facilitate
this coast traffic the Mexican government has spent a great deal of money
in providing harbours and docks at a number of the smaller ports, in
addition to the larger enterprises that have heretofore been described.

Mexico has not a great number of navigable rivers. On the Pacific side
the Mayo, the Yaqui, the Balsas, the Rio Grande de Santiago and one or
two others are classed as navigable streams, but because of bars and
other obstructions they can be used only by boats of comparatively light
draft. On the Atlantic side, just below the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, is
the Grigalva River, which is a broad and imposing stream. Large boats
ply regularly up this stream to San Juan Bautista, a distance of about
seventy-five miles. Small boats go up still farther, the boat traffic
extending clear to the mountains. The Usumasinta River is an affluent of
this stream, and is navigable for small boats even beyond the Guatemala
border. The Coatzacoalcos River, which flows into the Gulf at the town
of the same name, is quite an important stream, and furnishes an outlet
to a considerable territory. The Papaloapan River, which flows into the
Gulf of Mexico near Vera Cruz, has been dredged and made navigable for a
considerable distance into the interior. It has proved a great benefit to
many small towns and plantations there situated.

North of Vera Cruz are the Soto La Marina, the Tuxpan and the Panuco
Rivers, all of which are navigable for a hundred miles or more. As an
adjunct to the navigable streams and the deep water ports the government
is now building an intercoastal canal, which is similar to the one
proposed along the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas to connect the
Mississippi and Rio Grande Rivers. There are a series of lagoons and
small lakes that lie just a short distance within the coast line, and
which can be connected and deepened. They will then form a convenient and
safe waterway for navigation. The government is spending several million
dollars on the first link of this system, which will connect the ports of
Tampico and Tuxpan, a distance of about a hundred miles. Half of this
section is already finished and in operation, and it is estimated that in
three or four years more this part of the canal will be finished. This
waterway has a width of seventy-five feet and a uniform depth of ten and
one-half feet, and will connect the mouths of the Panuco and the Tuxpan
Rivers. The Panuco, near Tampico, is fifty feet deep, and the deepest
draft ocean vessels can come in and unload at the docks of Tampico. The
section of the canal already opened is constantly filled with long and
narrow boats, manned by natives, which are propelled by means of long
poles when the wind fails.

The opening of this section of the canal has worked wonders in the
development of this part of the coast land, because it places the
products of the plantations and ranches within easy reach of the
markets. It has also served to drain thousands of acres of land, which
were formerly considered to be of no use whatever. On this route the
canal passes through Lake Tamiahua, which is seventy-nine miles long
and from five to twenty miles wide. Lake Tampamachoco, a much smaller
lake, will also be traversed by this canal. The water in these lakes
is comparatively shallow, and it has been necessary to deepen them
considerably in order to make the canal of uniform depth with the other
portion. The distance between Tampico and the mouth of the Rio Grande
is about three hundred miles, but a number of salt water lagoons, which
lie near the coast, can be utilized as a portion of the canal. If this
project, and the similar one planned by the United States, are completed,
it will furnish a very long inland waterway for the coast region. It
will serve the double purpose of draining and making more healthful that
portion of the country, and likewise giving an outlet for the development
that will surely follow. The land when once drained has been proved to be
of unusual fertility.

The influence of the Anglo-Saxon in Mexico has been very marked. What the
English have done in Argentina and many parts of the world, the Americans
have done in our neighbouring republic. It is a significant fact that
the Spanish influences have been perceptibly disappearing, while that of
the Anglo-Saxon has been in the ascendency. This change can be noted in
a great many ways, both in thought, customs and foreign relations. This
transition has not been promptly recognized, and in some quarters it has
been strongly objected to by the extreme conservative elements; but,
nevertheless, it has been steadily marching on. Many of the Mexicans
prominent in the political and business life recognize this trend and
encourage it, for they feel that Mexico needs Anglo-Saxon methods and
ideas in order to develop the country, and give it the prestige that its
importance deserves. There are perhaps twenty or twenty-five thousand
Americans who permanently reside in Mexico, and, in addition, there
is the effect of the many millions of American money invested in the
country, and the thousands of tourists and business men who annually
cross the borders.

There is, doubtless, a strong prejudice against the American and his
methods in many parts of Mexico, and this feeling seems to have been
somewhat intensified in the recent revolution. It is not to be wondered
at that such a feeling exists. From first to last Mexico has ceded to
the United States almost one million square miles of territory, which is
almost one-third more than the present size of the republic. First came
the separation of Texas, which was undoubtedly due to the intriguing
of Americans who had crossed over into that section of Mexico. These
pioneers and adventurers brought about the declaration of independence by
the Lone Star State. A few years later that territory was admitted into
the United States as one of its integral parts. Then came the Mexican
War, which most of us admit was an unjust war, and which resulted in the
cession of more than half a million of square miles of territory. A few
years later, by the Gadsden Purchase, which was due to disputes over the
boundary line, another block of territory, as large as the state of Ohio,
was added to the domain of the United States.

In the revolution of 1910 many Americans crossed the border, joined
the forces of the revolutionists, and aided in the troubles of the
then existing government. Furthermore, very many American tourists who
visit Mexico make themselves disagreeable by their actions and their
criticisms, which also add to the anti-American feeling. So many include
all Mexicans under the general title of “greasers,” and can see no good
in anything that is not American. It is a fortunate thing that the good
people of Mexico understand very little English; otherwise they would
frequently be excited to anger, if they could hear the remarks that are
made by Americans in visiting their churches, battle fields and other
places surrounded by sacred associations. They are not fools, however,
and even if they do not understand the words they can catch the trend
of remarks by the gesture and laugh that accompanies them. As the
Spanish race are exceedingly sensitive this lack of sympathy and almost
open contempt cannot result otherwise than do injury to a general good
feeling. Some Americans grumble at everything, get mad because all the
waiters and porters do not understand English, complain about the hotels
because they cannot obtain everything just like they would in a Fifth
Avenue hotel, and, in fact, find fault with everything that they see. As
a contrast to this one might consider the attitude of Mexicans. It is
difficult to do justice to the innate courtesy of officials and people
when Americans show them so little. You can murder his beloved Spanish
in attempting to address a Mexican, and he will listen with infinite
patience and never a smile of amusement or expression of vexation on his
face. The Mexican is polite not only to his superiors and equals, but to
his servants as well.

The republic of Mexico has passed through dark days. It has suffered from
the evil government of foreigners and from the reckless ambitions of
its own rulers. The burdens of former mistakes still remain, and there
is a lingering distrust of the powerful republic to the north in many
places. This distrust has been fanned into greater intensity by recent
political agitators. The good sense of the leaders will quickly reassert
itself, however, and a more perfect understanding will surely result.
American intelligence and capital have done too much in bringing about
the material prosperity of the country for such conditions to exist
permanently. Mexico needs capital for the development of her resources,
and American capital is most available for that purpose. Americans
will even be interested in the moral and material advancement of their
neighbours across the Rio Grande.

To the reader who has followed this narrative to the end, I give my
valediction, _a la Mexicana_:

_Adios! Vaya usted con Dios._


THE END.



FOOTNOTES

[1] “Wonderful, Mysterious Mexico,” by Madge Morris.

[2] Mrs. Gooch in “Face to Face with the Mexicans.”

[3] Mexican statistics of public instruction show that the state of
Jalisco has one school for every 2,354 inhabitants; Aguascalientes, one
for every 3,103; Campeche, one for every 1,236; Coahuila, one for every
2,090; Chihuahua, one for every 2,731; Durango, one for every 2,468;
Guanajuato, one for every 4,596; Hidalgo, one for every 1,020; Michoacan,
one for every 2,888; Morelos, one for every 687; Nuevo Leon, one for
every 1,158; Puebla, one for every 886; Queretaro, one for every 1,444;
San Luis Potosi, one for every 2,592; Sinaloa, one for every 1,041;
Sonora, one for every 1,092; Tabasco, one for every 1,018; Tamaulipas,
one for every 1,777; Tlaxcala, one for every 700; Vera Cruz, one for
every 1,268; Yucatan, one for every 792; Zacatecas, one for every 1,316,
and Mexico, one for every 936.—_Modern Mexico._

[4] F. A. Ober in “Travels in Mexico.”

[5] This citation and some of the other quotations in this chapter, as
well as a number of the historical facts, are from the “Story of Mexico,”
by Susan Hale, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons of London and New York.

[6] “Mexico in Transition” by William Butler.



APPENDICES


I

The following table gives the area and population of the various states,
territories of Tepic, Quintana Roo and Lower California, and the Federal
District; also the name of the capital and number of its inhabitants, the
figures being for the year 1900:—

  State.             Sq. Miles.  Population.  Capital.        Inhabitants.
  Aguas Calientes,   2,950       101,910      Aguas Calientes,     35,052
  Campeche,          20,087      84,218       Campeche,            17,109
  Coahuila,          63,569      280,899      Saltillo,            23,936
  Colima,            2,700       65,026       Colima,              20,698
  Chiapas,           29,600      363,216      Tuxtla,              10,982
  Chihuahua,         87,802      327,004      Chihuahua,           30,405
  Durango,           42,200      371,274      Durango,             31,092
  Guanajuato,        12,300    1,065,317      Guanajuato,          41,486
  Guerrero,          24,996      474,594      Chilpanzingo,         7,497
  Hidalgo,           8,917       603,074      Pachuca,             37,487
  Jalisco,           31,846    1,137,311      Guadalajara,        101,208
  Mexico,            9,247       924,457      Toluca,              25,904
  Michoacan,         22,874      935,849      Morelia,             37,278
  Morelos,           2,773       161,697      Cuernavaca,           9,584
  Nuevo Leon,        23,592      326,940      Monterey,            62,266
  Oaxaca,            35,382      947,910      Oaxaca,              35,049
  Puebla,            12,204    1,024,446      Puebla,              93,521
  Queretaro,         3,556       228,489      Queretaro,           33,152
  San Luis Potosi,   25,316      582,486      San Luis Potosi,     61,019
  Sinaloa,           33,671      296,109      Culiacan,            10,380
  Sonora,            76,900      220,553      Hermosillo,          10,613
  Tabasco,           10,072      158,107      San Juan Bautista,   10,543
  Tamaulipas,        32,128      220,253      Victoria,            10,086
  Tlaxcala,           1,595      172,217      Tlaxcala,             2,847
  Vera Cruz,         29,201      960,570      Jalapa,              20,388
  Yucatan,           20,203      227,264      Merida,              43,630
  Zacatecas,         24,757      496,810      Zacatecas,           32,856
  Tepic,             11,257      149,677      Tepic,               15,488
  Lower California,  58,328       47,082      La Paz,               5,046
  Federal District,     463      530,723      City of Mexico,     344,721
  Quintana Roo,      15,000       85,000      Santa Cruz de Bravo,  2,000


II

The broken character of the surface of Mexico is shown by the many high
mountain peaks which are scattered over the country. Most of these peaks
are extinct volcanoes, although one of them, Colima, is in constant
eruption. The following table gives the name, location and height of all
the peaks over ten thousand feet in height:—

  Mountain.           State.              Elevation.

  Popocatepetl,       Mexico,             17,782 ft.
  Orizaba,            Vera Cruz,          17,362 ft.
  Ixtaccihuatl,       Puebla,             16,060 ft.
  Toluca,             Mexico,             15,019 ft.
  Colima,             Jalisco,            14,263 ft.
  Ajusco,             Federal District,   13,660 ft.
  Cofre de Perote,    Vera Cruz,          13,641 ft.
  Zapotlan,           Jalisco,            12,743 ft.
  Tancitaro,          Michoacan,          12,653 ft.
  Zempoaltepec,       Oaxaca,             11,141 ft.
  Pico de Quinco,      Michoacan,         10,900 ft.


III

SUGGESTIONS FOR TRAVELLERS

The visitor to Mexico will find few inconveniences in the way of railway
travel. The coaches are, with only occasional exceptions, of American
manufacture, and the through trains on most of the railroads have Pullman
coaches at fares that are considerably lower than in the United States.
It is well to make the trip going and coming to the capital by different
routes, choosing the El Paso route for one trip and the Laredo gateway
for the other. If the visitor is from the eastern part of the United
States, a sea voyage from either New York or New Orleans to Vera Cruz
makes a pleasant variation to the monotony of railroad travel. If bound
for San Francisco one can travel through the republic to Salina Cruz,
and there embark for that city. When the Southern Pacific extension is
completed to Guadalajara this will also furnish another good way either
to enter or leave Mexico.

The Mexican customs examination is a very formal affair and causes very
little inconvenience to the traveller, for the officials are usually very
courteous. An ignorance of the Spanish language will not cause a great
deal of trouble to the experienced traveller in the cities, as it is a
very easy matter to find some one who can speak English. In the remoter
districts more trouble will be encountered, so that one should have at
least a few stock phrases to use.

The money of Mexico is easy for one to familiarize himself with, as the
peso is equal to fifty cents in American money. The only inconvenience at
times is the trouble of carrying so many of these pesos, each of which is
the size of one of our American silver dollars. The minor coins are all
on the decimal system, the peso counting as one hundred centavos.

Hotel accommodation in the cities is fair, although it will take
the traveller some time to get used to the large rooms that he will
oftentimes be placed in. The charges are generally based on the European
plan, but occasionally one will find a hotel on the American plan, and
the charges are reasonable. On arriving at a hotel the guest is usually
shown a room, and, if it is accepted, he may then register and his name
is written on a blackboard with his room number. The cab charges are
usually reasonable. In the City of Mexico there are three classes of
cabs, indicated respectively by blue, red and yellow flags, the latter
being the cheapest class. The driver always expects a small fee in
addition to the regular fare.

Good stores will be found in the cities, and the prices are not
excessive. Most people are interested in things that may be purchased as
souvenirs of the country. The famous drawn work can be bought to the best
advantage in northern Mexico, and especially at Aguas Calientes. Mexico
is also noted for her onyx, opals and the turquoise.

The proper clothing to be worn is that used in the United States for
spring or fall in the higher altitudes, and a light coat should be a
part of the wardrobe. In the lower levels lightweight summer clothing
can be worn at all seasons of the year. Most people visit Mexico during
the winter months, but summer, which is the rainy season, is likewise
delightful.


IV

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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    BANCROFT, H. H.: History of Mexico. 6 vols. San Francisco, 1888.

    BANDELIER, A. F.: Report of an Archeological Tour. Boston, 1885.

    BEART, LUCIEN: The Aztecs, their History, Manners and Customs.
    From the French. Chicago, 1900.

    BISHOP, W. H.: Old Mexico and Her Lost Provinces. New York,
    1883.

    BROOKS, N. C.: History of the Mexican War. Philadelphia, 1849.

    CHARNAY, DESIRÉ: Ancient Cities of the New World. Translated
    from French. New York, 1887.

    CONKLIN, HOWARD: Mexico and the Mexicans. New York, 1883.

    CREELMAN, JAMES: Diaz: Master of Mexico. New York, 1910.

    DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, BERNAL: The True History of the Conquest of
    Mexico. Written in 1568. Translation. New York, 1803.

    EDWARDS, WILLIAM SEYMOUR: On the Mexican Highlands. Cincinnati,
    1906.

    FLANDRAU, C. M.: Viva Mexico. New York, 1908.

    GADNOW, HANS: Through Southern Mexico. New York, 1908.

    GOOCH, FANNIE C.: Face to Face with the Mexicans. New York,
    1887.

    GRIFFIN, S. B.: Mexico of To-day. New York, 1886.

    HALE, SUSAN: Story of Mexico. New York, 1889.

    HAVEN, GILBERT: Our Next Door Neighbor: A Winter in Mexico. New
    York, 1875.

    HUMBOLDT, ALEXANDER VON: Political Essay on the Kingdom of New
    Spain. London, 1822.

    KIRKHAM, STANTON DAVIS: Mexican Trials. Boston, 1909.

    LUMHOLTZ, CARL: Unknown Mexico. 2 vols. New York, 1902.

    LUMMIS, CHARLES F.: The Awakening of a Nation. New York, 1899.

    MARTIN, PERCY F.: Mexico of the Twentieth Century. London, 1907.

    MAYER, BRANTZ: Mexico as It Was and Is. London, 1844.

    NOLL, A. H.: A Short History of Mexico. Chicago, 1903.

    OBER, FREDERICK A.: Travels in Mexico. Boston, 1885.

    PRESCOTT, W. H.: Conquest of Mexico. 1843.

    ROMERO, MATIAS: Mexico and the United States. New York, 1898.

    SMITH, F. H.: A White Umbrella in Mexico. Boston. 1889.

    STARR, FREDERICK: In Indian Mexico. Chicago, 1908.

    STEPHENS, JOHN L.: Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. New York,
    1843.

    STEVENSON, SARA: Maximilian in Mexico. New York, 1899.

    TWEEDIE, MRS. ALEC: The Maker of Modern Mexico: Porfirio Diaz.
    London, 1906.

    WALLACE, DILLON: Beyond the Mexican Sierras. Chicago, 1910.



INDEX


    Acapulco, 99, 299, 382.

    Agriculture, 464-467.

    Agave Americana, 41.

    Aguador (water carrier), 221.

    Agua miel (honey-water), 43.

    Aguas Calientes, 36, 219, 298.

    Aqueduct of Oaxaca, 116;
      of Querétero, 35.

    Ahuehuete (cypress) of Chapultepec, 86;
      of Popotla, 78;
      of Tule, 153.

    Alameda, The, 56, 69.

    Alamo, Battle of the, 360.

    Alcabales, Abolishment of, 293.

    Alhondiga de Granaditas, The, of Guanajuato, 348, 349.

    Altata, 429.

    Alvaredo, Pedro, 279.

    American Capital in Mexico, 280.

    American Colony, 53.

    Anahuac, Valley of, 74 _et seq._

    Apam, Plains of, 41, 91.

    Architecture, Mexican, 47, 271-273.

    Army, The Mexican, 334-337.

    Art in Mexico, 270.

    Auto-da-fé, The first, 345.

    Aztecs, History of the, 11, 75;
      Subjugation of, 14-16;
      Descendants of, 183 _et seq._;
      Markets of, 217-218;
      Celebrations of, 235.


    Banana, Culture of the, 106-108, 431.

    Baptism of Indians, 309.

    Baptist Missions, 324-326.

    Bargaining, 125, 220.

    Barra, Francisco de la, 406, 413.

    Bear, Playing the, 48, 170-172.

    Beggars, Mexican, 242, 340.

    Belem, Prison of, 317.

    Boca del Monte, 91.

    Bonanzas (meaning mines worked at great profit), 275 _et seq._

    Books, first printed in Mexico, 259.

    Borda, Joseph de la, 276.

    Buena Vista, Battle of, 27.

    Bull-fight, 243 _et seq._

    Bull-ring, 245.


    Cacao, 105, 109.

    Campo Santo, 63.

    Capitals, Population of the, 479.

    Cargadors (burden-bearers), 195-199.

    Cart, Mexican, 120.

    Casa (meaning home), 163, 210-211.

    Casas Grandes, 403, 425.

    Cathedral of Capital, 60, 321-323.

    Catorce, 283, 330.

    Cattle ranches, 36, 128, 417, 418-419.

    Celaya, 297, 298.

    Celebrations in honour of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 236 _et seq._

    Cemeteries, 63.

    Centennial of Independence, 1910, 73, 396-398.

    Central Railway, 297-299.

    Cerro (a hill) de las Campañas, 35.

    Chalco, Lake, 74.

    Chamber of Deputies, The, 18.

    Chapala, Lake, 9.

    Chapultepec, 86;
      military academy, 337.

    Chiapas, State of, 304.

    Chichen Itza, 441-447.

    Chihuahua, City of, 36, 298, 405, 417-419, 422;
      State of, 36, 398, 401, 415, 424;
      Execution of Hidalgo at, 349.

    Chinampas, or floating gardens, 82.

    Chilpantzingo, 350.

    Cholula, 78, 148;
      Pyramid of, 113, 149, 150.

    Chorubusco, 363.

    Christmas celebrations, 227-232.

    Churches, Mexican, 271-273.

    Church, The Mexican, 308 _et seq._

    Cinco de Mayo, Victory of, 37, 374;
      Street of, 50.

    Ciudad Juarez, 401, 402, 404, 405, 416, 424.

    Climate of the Capital, 54-55;
      Variety of, 8;
      of Oaxaca, 123.

    Coahuila, State of, 27.

    Coal, 288-289.

    Coatzacoalcos, 99, 137, 139.

    Cock-fighting, 33.

    Coffee culture, 94, 106, 431.

    Colonia Juarez, 425.

    Comonfort, President, 315.

    Congress, First Mexican, 350;
      Second, 354;
      of to-day, 18.

    Congregational Missions, 324-326.

    Conquest, Manner of the, 14-16, 77.

    Conquistadores (conquerors), Vandalism and nature of, 13.

    Contrasts, A land of, 45.

    Copper, Production of, 228.

    Cordillerias, The, 26.

    Cordoba, 94, 301;
      Treaty of, 353.

    Corral, Hon. Ramon, 405.

    Cortez, 77, 111;
      Defeat of, 78;
      as governor, 343;
      Landing of, 95;
      and his followers, 13-16.

    Cosmopolitan character of City of Mexico, 59.

    Coyoacan, 85.

    Creole, The, 51, 162;
      women, 165-166.

    Cuautla, Battle of, 350.

    Cuernevaca, 299.

    Cuilapa, 358.

    Cuitzeo, Lake, 9.

    Culiacan, 429.

    Curandera (native doctor), 222-224.

    Currency reform, 459.

    Customs, Domestic, 167;
      Strange, 201 _et seq._;
      officials, polite, 22, 482.

    Cypress of Noche Triste, 78;
      of Chapultepec, 86;
      of Tule, 153.


    Denouncing a mining claim, 287.

    Desierto, El, 85.

    Diaz, Bernal, 262.

    Diaz, Porfirio, 18-19;
      Birthplace of, 116;
      and education, 264;
      encouragement of railroads, 296;
      and Protestantism, 325;
      organizes _Rurales_, 331-333;
      Sketch of, 369 _et seq._;
      Revolution against, 396 _et seq._

    Diego Juan, Vision of, 236-238.

    Dolores Hidalgo, 34, 347.

    Douglass, 402.

    Dude, The Mexican, 57.

    Dulces (Mexican candy), 220.

    Durango, 36, 278;
      Mountain of iron in, 288;
      State of, 415.


    Easter, Celebration of, 232-234.

    Education in Mexico, 257 _et seq._;
      of soldiers, 335.

    Ejutla, 283.

    El Paso, 401, 404, 416, 481.

    Embrace, A Mexican, 47.

    English language, Teaching of, 267.

    Ensenada, 434.

    Esperanza, 91.

    Evangelista (letter-writer), 220.

    Exclusiveness of Mexicans, 164, 210.

    Exports and imports, 459-460.


    Farming in the tropics, 106;
      Antiquated, 123, 465.

    Feasts and festivals, 225 _et seq._

    Feather work, Aztec, 218.

    Federal District, Schools of, 265.

    Ferrocarriles Mexicanos, 294 _et seq._

    Fibre-producing plants, 40.

    Fiesta, 190, 225;
      at Oaxaca, 117;
      at Guadalupe, 236 _et seq._;
      de las Flores, 235.

    Finances of Mexico, 458-459.

    Floating gardens, 82-84.

    Flower market, The, 67.

    Frijoles, 216.

    Funeral cars, 62.


    Germans, Affiliation of, 38.

    Goat raising, 417.

    Gold of Aztecs, 285;
      Production of, 288.

    Gomez, Vasquez, 410.

    Gondola, The Mexican, 82.

    Gonzalez, Manuel, 384.

    Graphite, 289.

    Grasshoppers as food, 81.

    Gringo, a term of derision originally applied to foreigners.

    Grito, The, 347.

    Guadalajara, 37, 219, 299, 426, 428.

    Guadalupe, Town of, 240-242;
      Church of, 238;
      Virgin of, 236-242.

    Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Treaty of, 363.

    Guanajuato, 36, 277, 283;
      Battle at, 348, 383.

    Guatemotzin, eleventh and last Aztec Emperor, 78.

    Guaymas, 99, 301, 428.

    Guaxaca (_See_ Oaxaca).

    Guerrero, The patriot, 352, 357.

    Guatemala City, Bull fight in, 252;
      Earthquake in, 260;
      Theatre of, 284.


    Hacienda, The, 27-30;
      of Mitla, 124-128;
      of Zuloaga, 418-420;
      Labour on, 189.

    Hacendado, The, 28, 52.

    Henequen, 40-41.

    Hermosillo, 301, 427-428.

    Hidalgo, Miguel, 347-349, 392, 397.

    Hidalgo Railway, 297.

    Holidays, 190, 225 _et seq._

    Home, Regard for, 163, 210.

    Horsemen, Mexican, 57.

    Huamantla, 381.

    Huitzilopoxtli, 308.


    Iglesias, 382-383, 387, 388.

    Improvements, Contemplated, in Capital, 71-73.

    Independence, Declaration of, 350.

    Indians, 183 _et seq._, 421-424;
      habits and characteristics, 58;
      of the hotlands, 103;
      cargadors, 195-199;
      market, 120-122;
      Independent tribe of, 115;
      miners, 280.

    Inquisition, Establishment of the, 345.

    International Railway, 297.

    Interoceanic Railway, 297.

    Irapuato, 298, 299.

    Iron, 288.

    Irrigation, Benefits of, 39.

    Iturbide, Agustin de, 352-356;
      Hotel, 356.

    Ixtaccihuatl, Volcano of, 87, 113.

    Ixtlan, 373.

    Ixtle, 23.


    Japanese, Resemblance of Mexicans to, 10.

    Jardenas flotandas, 82-84.

    Jesuits, The, 258.

    Juarez, Benito, Birthplace of, 116;
      attitude toward education, 264;
      crushes temporal power of the Church, 315;
      favours Diaz, 371;
      sketch of career, 364-368, 388.

    Judas, Burning of, 233.

    Judicial System, 467-469.


    Labourers, Mexican, 183 _et seq._

    Lajartija, (Mexican dude), 57.

    La Paz, 434, 436.

    Laredo, 481.

    Las Madres, 415.

    Lead, 289.

    Legal customs, 207-209.

    Leon, 36, 298.

    Leperos, 339, 340.

    Lerdo, 368, 379, 382, 385, 387, 388.

    Liberty Bell, The, of Mexico, 69.

    Library, National, 269.

    Limantour, Minister of Finance, 298, 459.

    Literary men, 262 _et seq._

    Literature, Mexican, 258 _et seq._

    Lovemaking, Mexican, 170-172.

    Lower California, 306, 431-437.


    Madero Family, 400, 411.

    Madero, Francisco, 400, 401, 403, 404, 406-408, 410-414, 435.

    Madrid, Bull-ring of, 244;
      Bull-fight in, 253.

    Magdalena, 426.

    Magdalena Bay, 435.

    Maguey, 41-45.

    Mal Paso, 400.

    Maltrata, 92.

    Mañana, The Land of, 204.

    Manzanillo, 99, 299.

    Markets, Ancient, 217-218;
      of capital, 218;
      of Oaxaca, 117-119;
      of Tehuantepec, 132.

    Marsh-flies as food, 81.

    Matamoros, 380.

    Maximilian, 264, 315, 366-367, 390;
      Execution of, 34-35.

    Mayas, The, 438 _et seq._

    Mazatlan, 99, 279, 429-430.

    Mendoza, Viceroy, 258, 344.

    Merchants, Aztec, 329.

    Mesas, 26.

    Mescal (native brandy), 45.

    Mestizos, 184.

    Metate, 178, 215.

    Methodist Missions, 324, 326.

    Mexican races, Origin of, 10.

    Mexican, Conservatism of, 52, 174;
      his view of Anglo-Saxon, 20.

    Mexican Central Railway, 80, 297-299.

    Mexican National Railway, Route of, 24 _et seq._, 297-298.

    Mexican Railway, 90 _et seq._, 299.

    Mexican Southern Railway, 112-114, 300.

    Mexico, Antiquity of, 3;
      Resources of, 19;
      The United States of, 18.

    Miñaca, 420.

    Mines of Mexico, 274 _et seq._, 427, 434.

    Missions, Protestant, in Mexico, 324-327.

    Mitla, Village of, 152;
      Ruins of, 152 _et seq._;
      Hacienda of, 124-127, 154.

    Molino del Rey (the king’s mill), 88, 363.

    Monte de Piedad, 61.

    Monte las Cruces, Battle of, 349.

    Monterey, 24-25, 297, 299, 417;
      Battle of, 25.

    Montezuma, 199.

    Moon, Pyramid of the, 147.

    Morelas, Jose Maria, 350-352.

    Morelia, 268, 351, 352.

    Mormon Colony, 425-426.

    Mountains, 24, 415 _et seq._

    Mozo, a servant.

    Museum, National, 269.


    Nahuals, 75.

    National Palace, The, 322.

    National Railway, 297.

    Navarro, General, 404-405.

    Newspapers and periodicals, 260-261.

    Noche Bueno, 227.

    Noche Triste, Tree of, 78.

    Nochistongo cut, 80.

    _No es costumbre_, 213-214.

    Nogales, 402, 426.

    _No hay_, 220.

    “Northers,” The, 7, 98.

    Notaries, Mexican, 209.

    Nuevo Leon, State of, 24.


    Oaxaca, 111 _et seq._, 300, 371, 381;
      Markets of, 117-119;
      Valley of, 111, 151-152;
      Mines of, 283.

    O’Donoju, Viceroy, 353.

    Ojinaga, 400.

    Oñata, Juan de, 276.

    Oranges, 109, 431.

    Orient, Resemblance to, 1-3, 121-123.

    Oriental habits of women, 162.

    Orizaba, 93, 366;
      Volcano of, 91, 113.

    Orozco, Pascual, 404-405.


    Pachuca, 282, 297, 405.

    Padilla, 355.

    Palace, The National, 68-69.

    Palenque, 441, 451-455.

    Palo Alto, Battle of, 361.

    Panama Canal, A competitor of, 136 _et seq._

    Pan American Railroad, 303-305.

    Panteon of Guanajuato, 284;
      National, 72.

    Paseo de la Reforma, 56, 69.

    Patio (courtyard) in houses, 47.

    Patio process, 279, 281.

    Patzcuaro, Lake, 9, 270.

    Pawnshop, The National, 61.

    Peon, The, 183 _et seq._;
      as a soldier, 334-335.

    Peonage, 188-189, 191-192, 390.

    Pertenencia, a mining claim, 287.

    Petroleum, Production of, 289.

    Piedad, Monte de, 277.

    Pijijiapam, 304.

    Piñate, Breaking the, 231-232.

    Plateaus, The, 26, 295.

    Plaza Mayor, 68;
      de Toros, 245.

    Poets and poetry, Mexican, 262-264.

    Police, The, 336, 341.

    Politeness, 209.

    Popocatapetl, 87, 89, 113.

    Popotla, Village of, 78.

    Poppies, Feast of the, 235.

    Population of Mexico, 9;
      of states and capitals, 479.

    Posadas, The, 228-232.

    Pottery, Mexican, 119, 219.

    Presbyterian Missions, 324, 326.

    Printing press, First, 259.

    Prisons, schools in, 267.

    Procrastination, A land of, 203-205.

    Protestantism in Mexico, 317, 324-327.

    Puebla, 37-39, 113, 297, 383, 398, 407;
      city of churches, 321;
      house of the inquisition in, 345;
      Battles at, 374, 378.

    Pulque, 41, 66;
      shop, 65-67.

    Pyramid of Cholula, 113, 149, 150;
      of the Sun, 147;
      of the Moon, 147.


    Quetzalcoatl, 149, 235.

    Querétero, 34, 298.


    Railroads, Mexican, 143, 290 _et seq._, 417-418, 481.

    Rainfall, 102, 418, 435.

    Real del Monte, Mines of, 282.

    Rebosa, 59.

    Regla, Count of, 277;
      Mines of, 282.

    Religion of Mexico, 308 _et seq._

    Reyes, Bernardo, 407-408.

    Rincon Antonio, 138.

    Robbers and bandits of former days, 328-333.

    Ruins of Yucatan, 146, 440 _et seq._;
      of Mitla, 152 _et seq._

    Rurales, 331-334, 336.


    Sagrario Metropolitano, Church of, 321-322.

    Saint, Mexico’s patron, 236.

    Saint days, 191.

    Salina Cruz, 99, 137, 139 _et seq._, 481.

    Saltillo, 27, 297.

    San Antonio, Texas, 22.

    San Benito, 305.

    San Blas, 99.

    San Cristobal, Lake, 74.

    San Cristobal Ecatepec, 351.

    San Geronimo, 304.

    San Juan de Ulua, Fort of, 98, 356.

    San Juan Teotihuacan, 146-148.

    San Luis Potosi, City of, 30 _et seq._, 297, 299;
      State of, 30.

    Santa Anita, Village of, 83.

    Santa Anna, General, 354, 359-364;
      Burial place of, 239.

    Santa Lucrecia, 131, 301.

    School of fine arts, 270.

    Schools, Public, 264-266.

    Scott, General, in Mexico, 361, 363.

    Seasons, Only two, 7.

    Senate, The, 18.

    Señoritas, 169.

    Serenos, 342.

    Sheep Raising, 417.

    Shoemaker, Mexican, 221.

    Silver, 275 _et seq._;
      Production of, 287.

    Sinaloa, State of, 415, 428-431.

    Society in the capital, 53.

    Soldiers, Schools for, 267.

    Sonora, State of, 398, 415, 427.

    Southern Pacific Railway, 301.

    States, The, of Mexico, 18;
      Area and population of, 479.

    Steamship Lines, 469-471.

    Streets of the capital, 50.

    Suarez, José Maria Pino, 410, 411.

    Sugar cane, 109, 429.

    Sun, Pyramid of, 147.

    Sunday, a day of pleasure, 57.


    Tablelands, 26.

    Tacuba, 85.

    Tacubaya, 85.

    Tajo de Nochistongo, 80.

    Tamales, 216.

    Tampico, 99, 289.

    Taotl, an Aztec god, 308.

    Tarahumari Indians, 421-424.

    Tasco, 277.

    Taylor, General, Invasion by, 24 _et seq._;
      at Palo Alto, 361.

    Tecoac, 382.

    Tehuacan, 114.

    Tehuantepec, Isthmus of, 128, 289 _et seq._;
      Town of, 132-134;
      Women of, 180-181;
      National Railway, 136 _et seq._, 301.

    Tejada, Lerdo de (_See_ Lerdo).

    Temperature of the tropics, 100, 102;
      of the capital, 54.

    Tenochtitlan, The ancient capital, 49.

    Teocalli, the Aztec, 60, 323.

    Tepic, 415, 428, 431.

    Tequila (native brandy), 45.

    Texcoco, Lake, 49, 74, 81;
      Town of, 85.

    Thieves, 338-342.

    Tia Juana, 401-402, 434-435.

    Tierra Blanca, 130.

    Tierra caliente, 7, 94, 100-105, 128.

    Tierra fria, 6, 25.

    Tierra templada, 7, 93.

    Tlacolulu, 154.

    Tlacochahuaya, 154.

    Tolpetlac, Village of, 236.

    Toltecs, 12, 75;
      Gods of the, 308.

    Topo Chico, Springs of, 25.

    Topolobampo, 418.

    Torreon, 298, 400, 405.

    Tortillas, Making of, 178, 215.

    Transition, The, in Mexico, 456 _et seq._

    Travellers, Suggestions for, 481-483.

    Tropics, Vegetation of, 94, 100, 133;
      Need of, 110;
      Railroading in, 301-303.

    Tula, 439.

    Tule, Big Tree of, 153.

    Tzintzuntzan, 270.


    United States, War with, 359, 363.

    Uxmal, 441, 448-451.


    Valenciana, Conde de, 277.

    Valley of Mexico, View of, 35, 79, 87.

    Vera Cruz, 95-97, 297, 366, 387, 391;
      Fall of, 363;
      Escape of Diaz, at, 380.

    Vera Cruz and Pacific Railway, 131, 301, 481.

    Victoria Guadalupe, first president, 356.

    Viga canal, 82-84, 235.

    Villa Reyes, Great hacienda of, 29.

    Volcanoes, Height of, 480.

    Vomito, 95-96.


    Wages of miners, 287;
      of labourers, 188.

    Wheat, Introduction of, 39.

    Woman, 133, 162 _et seq._;
      The creole, 165-166.


    Xaltocan, Lake, 74.

    Xochimilco, Lake, 74.


    Yaqui Indians, 427.

    Yellow Fever, 95-96.

    Young Men’s Christian Association, 327.

    Yucatan, Ruins of, 146, 440 _et seq._;
      Railways in, 306.


    Zacatecas, 36, 282, 298.

    Zambrano, a Mexican miner, 276.

    Zapotec Indians, 160.

    Zaragossa, General, Victory of, 37.

    Zocalo, The, 67, 68, 231.

    Zopilotes (buzzards), 97.

    Zuloaga Hacienda, 418-420.

    Zumarraga, Bishop, 258.

    Zumpango, Lake, 74, 79.





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