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This is pleasant reading. The writer is indispensable to the Mexican soldier. The evidently a sensible man, and his account muskets of the infantry are (that is, if they have of what he saw ought to be received with any) condemned Tower muskets, turned out of the confidence due to a frank observer, them carrying firelocks without locks, and
the British service years before.
I have seen who certainly does not consider that lan- others with locks without hammers, the lighted guage should be used to conceal his end of a cigar being used as a match to ignite opinions.
the powder in the pan. Discipline they have He was in Vera Cruz at the time of none. Courage a Mexican does not possess ; the arrival of Santa Anna from Havana, but still they have that brutish indifference to August 16th, 1846. He thinks the fur- death, which could be turned to account if they nishing him with a passport to enable
were well led, and officered by men of courage
and spirit.” him to pass the blockade “
a very questionable policy” on the part of our govern.
He visited the castle and made himself ment, which it “is difficult to understand.”
That Santa Anna had such a passport he acquainted with the defences of the city. seems to consider matter of public notorie, is given as if he were conscious that he
His opinion respecting the bombardment ty; at all events, the steamer which had him on board passed the blockade under
was contradicting common report:salvos of artillery from the castle, and the
“ The town was attacked by the American crack Mexican regiment, El Onze, the 11th, troops under General Scott, within ten months was drawn up on the wharf to receive him. after my visit. It suffered a bombardment, as He saw him walk up from the wharf to the is well known, of several days; an unnecessary palacio between a double line of troops, act of cruelty, in my opinion, since, to my preceded by his young wife, a pretty girl knowledge, there were no defences around the of seventeen, who leaned upon the arm of city which could not have been carried, incluan officer. There were no “vivas,” and ding the city itself, by a couple of battalions of
Missouri volunteers. I certainly left Vera the party looked anything but pleased at Cruz under the impression that it was not a their cool reception. "Don Antonio Lopez fortified place, with the exception of the paltry de Santa Anna,” he says, “is a hale looking wall I have mentioned, which, if my memory man between fifty and sixty, with an Old serves me, was not even loopholed for muskeiBailey countenance, and a very well-built ry. However, temporary defences might have wooden leg. His countenance completely visit and the American attack; still I cannot
been thrown up in the interval between my betrays his character ; indeed, I never saw but think that the bombardment was cruel and a physiognomy in which the evil passions, unnecessary. The castle could have been which he notoriously possesses, were more carried by a frigate’s boarders, having but seven strongly marked. Oily duplicity, treach hundred naked Indians to defend it." ery, avarice, and sensuality are depicted in every feature, and his well-known An ex-officer in the British army would character bears out the truth of the impress be very likely to underrate any achievehis vices have stamped upon his face. In ment of our troops in Mexico; but cerperson he is portly, and not devoid of a tainly he would not wish to publish statecertain well-bred bearing which wins for ments which could easily be proved to be him golden opinions from the surface false. The condition of Vera Cruz ten seeing fair sex, to whom he ever pays the months after he was there was by no means most courtly attention.”
the same as when he saw it ; temporary The description of the Mexican soldiers defences had been thrown up, and troops is equally flattering :
thrown in to protect them. He simply
means to say that he has not examined the Nothing can, by any possibility, be con- official accounts of the taking of that city, ceived more unlike a soldier than a Mexican but that from what he saw he “ cannot militar. The regular army is composed entirely but think,” &c.; in other words, what he of Indians—miserable-looking pigmies, whose grenadiers are five feet high. Vera Cruz, being the bombardment was unnecessary.
saw has merely given him a prejudice that
But a show place, and jealous of its glory, generally contrives to put decent clothing, by subscrip
it may have been necessary, (that is, as tion, on the regiment detailed to garrison the necessary as any act in a bad war,) and town ; otherwise clothing is not considered | yet he have told us nothing but the truth.
All he has to say, that bears upon
“ We left Puebla early in the morning, and, is merely incidental; and hence, as well as day broke, a scene of surpassing beauty as from the manner in which it is said, and
burst upon us.
The sun, rising bebind the the candor, good sense, and good humor light, against which the peaks stood in bold
mountains, covered the sky with a cold, silvery manifested in all the rest of the book, one
relief, while the bases were still veiled in feels an inclination to listen to it with at- gloom. The snow-clad peak of Orizaba, the tention, and where it includes statements lofty Popocatepetl (the hill that smokes) and of things actually seen, to receive them Iztaccihuat] (the white woman) lifted their with the degree of confidence they natur
heads now bright with the morning sun. The ally inspire.
beautiful plain of Cuitlaxcoapan, covered with Thus we have faith that Vera Cruz was
golden corn and green waving maize, stretched feebly defended when he was there, making undulating line, from which in the distance
away to the mountains, which rise in a gradual allowance for the dashy coloring of a shot ont isolated peaks and cones, all clear and writer of sketches ; but that General Scott well defined.” would have gone to trouble and expense, and waste of life, in order to accomplish in
At length the dangerous part of the showy and popular manner what might road is passed. have been done with comparative ease, without bravado, bloodshed, and bulletins,
“ We woon after crested the ridge of the is not to be believed except on better au
mountain, and, descending a winding road,
turned an abrupt hill, and just as I was settling thority than an Englishman's prejudice. myself in the corner for a good sleep, my arm Whether also a writer, who in his very was seized convulsively by my opposite neighpreface informs us that he does not be- bor, who, with half bis body out of the winlieve the Mexicans (excepting the women) dow, vociferated : “Hi esta, hi esta, mire, por possess one single commendable trait of Dios, mire!-Look out, for God's sake! there character,” ought not to be fairly suspected it is. Thinking a ladron was in sight, I seized of unconsciously underrating the efficiency drew in his head, saying, . No, no, Mejico, Me
my gun; but my friend, seeing my mistake, of their troops, is also questionable. AN jico, la ciudad ! their muskets are certainly not
“ To stop the coach and jump on the box was demned Tower muskets,” or if they are, the work of a moment; and, looking down from such arms can be used with some effect; the same spot where probably Cortez stood for they have managed to kill off a good and valley of Mexico, bathed by the soft flood
three hundred years ago, before me lay the city many stout fellows and some officers, here and there, at Cerro Gordo and Churu- ing light of the setting sun.
He must be insensible, indeed, a clod of busco, whom their country did not wish to clay, who does not feel the blood thrill in his spare quite so soon, and we have no doubt veins at the first sight of this beautifnl scene. they will pop down a few more before our What must have been the feelings of Cortez, national honor is satiated. Still there is when, with his handful of followers, he looked probably much truth in Mr. Ruxton's down upon the smiling prospect at his feet
land of promise which was to repay them for observations.
all the toil and dangers they had encountered ! His journey from Vera Cruz to the Cap
“ The first impression which struck me on ital, was through Jalapa, Perote, and Pue- seeing the valley of Mexico was the perfect, bla. Beyond Perote the country was almost unnatural, tranquillity of the scene. infested with robbers, and he travelled in The valley, which is about sixty miles long by the diligencia armed with a double-barrel forty in breadth, is on all sides inclosed by rifle, a ditto carbine, two brace of pistols, mountains, the most elevated of which are on
the southern side ; in the distance are the voland a blunderbuss. Every now and then the driver would look into the window and
canoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, and
numerous peaks of different elevation. The say, “ Ahora mal punto, muy mal punto” | lakes of Tezcuco and Chalco glitter in the sun --now we are in a very bad place—“ look like burnished silver, or, shaded by the vapors to your arms.” At Puebla the coach and which often rise from them, lie cold and tranits contents were minutely inspected by a quil on the plain. The distant view of the city, robber spy, in the face of the authorities, with its white buildings and numerous churchwho took no notice of him. The road es, its regular streets and shaded paseos, greatly
augments the beauty of the scene, over which from Puebla is very picturesque :
floats a solemn, delightful tranquillity."
Alas! this beautiful valley has seen were menaced by some robbers, who reanother sight since it was thus looked upon, tired on perceiving a foreigner. They were and its green turf is now the sepulchre of superbly mounted, and well armed with many a brave soldier.
carbine, sword, and pistols; and each had The character of the mass of the city a lasso hanging on the horn of his highpopulation has not probably improved un- peaked saddle. The leader inquired if the der the refining influence of a victorious diligencia had many passengers. The two army; and if the following account be companies parted, wishing each other not greatly exaggerated, we ought to feel “buen viage” and “ y buena fortuna !" almost as much compassion for our brave At Leon, a large town on the borders occupying troops, many of whom, doubt- of Guanaxato, the author had, what he less, were in early life accustomed to dif- styles a " little affair that was nearly provferent society, as though they were engaged ing disagreeable to him :"in actual conflict :
Returning from the plaza through a dark, “On entering the town, one is struck with narrow street, I was detected as a stranger by the regularity of the streets, the chaste archi a knot of idle rascals standing at the door of a tecture of the buildings, the miserable appear- pulque-shop, who immediately saluted me with ance of the population, the downcast look of cries of · Texano, Texano, que meura'-let's the men, the absence of ostentatious display of kill him, the Yankee dog. Wishing to avoid a wealth, and the prevalence of filth which rencounter with such odds, and with no other everywhere meet the eye. On every side the means of defence than a bowie-knise, I thought passenger is importuned for charity. Disguist on this occasion that discretion would be much ing lepers whine for clacos ; maimed and mu the better part of valor, so I turned off into tilated wretches, mounted on the backs of por- another dark street, but was instantly pursued ters, thrust out their distorted limbs and expose by the crowd, who followed, yelling at my heels. their sores, urging their human steeds to in- Luckily, an opportune and dark doorway offercrease their pace as their victim increases his ed me a shelter, and Icrouched in it as my pursuto avoid them. Rows of cripples are brought ers passed with loud cries and knives in hand. into the street the first thing in the morning, The instant that they all
, as I imagined, had and deposited against a wall
, whence their in- passed me, I emerged from my hiding-place, fernal whine is heard the live-long day. * * * and ran almost into the very arms of three who Mexico is the head quarters of dirt. The streets were bringing up the rear. Hi esta, hi esta!' are dirty, the houses are dirty, the men are they shouted, baring their knives and rushing dirty and the women dirtier; and everything at me. Maten le, maten le!?--here he is, here you cat and drink is dirty. * * * Observe he is: kill him, kill the jackass. The darkevery countenance; with hardly an exception ness was in my favor. As the foremost one a physiognomist will detect the expression of rushed at me with uplifted blade 1 stepped vice and crime and conscious guilt in each. quickly to one side, and at the same moment No one looks you in the face, but all slouch thrust at him with my knife. He stumbled forpast with downcast eyes and hang-dog look, ward on his knees with a cry of Dios ! me ha intent upon thoughts that will not bear the light. matado’--he has killed me--and fell on his The shops are poor and ill-supplied, the markets face. One of the remaining two ran to his asfilthy in the extreme. Let no fastidious stomach sistance, the other made toward me; but, findlook into the shops where pastry is made." ing that I was inclined to compare notes with
him and waited his attack, he slackened his For the manners of the better society pace and declined encounter. I returned to the of the city, Mr. Ruxton refers the reader meson, and, without telling the Spaniard what to the work of Madame Calderon de la had occurred, gave directions for the animals to Barca; he confines his own observations to
be ready at midnight, and shortly after we were
in the saddle and on the road." the worst classes, which seem to offer a sufficiently strong excitement to please the most adventurous; he having witnessed October, the road lay through a volcanic
After passing Zacatecas on the 3d of two stabbings, one of which was mortal, tract, or Mal Pais-an evil land, as such among the pulquerias and fandangos, in a regions are termed by the Mexicans :-single night.
He left the capital on the 14th of September, while the artillery was announcing is completely filled up to nearly a level with
“ The valley, between two ridges or sierras, Santa Anna's entrance. On the road to
the sierra itself; it is, therefore, impossible to wards Querataro, three days out, his party | judge of the height of the tract of ground
swam slowly out from
the shadow of the hou
raised by the volcano. The crater is about five | his visit in dread and expectation of an Inor six hundred yards in circumference, and filled | dian invasion. with a species of dwarf oak, mezquite, and cocoa-trees, which grow out of the crevices of
“ Some five hundred Camanches were known the lava. In it is a small, stagnant lake, the water of which is green and brackish; huge after a fanfaron of several days, and high mass
to be in the vicinity toward the north-eas l; so, blocks of lava and scoria surround the lake, in the church for the repose of those who were which is fringed with rank shrubs and cactus. going to be killed, &c., the troops and valientes It is a dismal, lonely spot, and the ground rumbles under the tread of the passing horse. A colors, marched out to the south-west, and hap
of the city, with beating drums and flying large crane stood, with upraised leg, on a rock
However, it in the pool, and a jarali (a species of wild hog) pened to miss · los barbaros.
saved them a sound drubbing, and the country was wallowing near it in the mud. breath of air ruffled the inky surface of the the valientes who would have been killed." lake, which lay as undisturbed as a sheet of glass, save where here and there a huge water The inhabitants of Durango and Chisnake glided across with uplifted head, or a huahua live in perpetual similar alarms. duck
Beyond the city of Durango to the north shrub-covered margin, followed by its downy and north-west, stretch away the vast unprogeny.
* I led my horse down to the edge of the cultivated and unpeopled plains of Chihuawater, but he refused to drink the slimy liquid, hua, the Bolson de Mapimi, and the arid in which frogs, efts, and reptiles of every kind deserts of Gila. In the oases of these, were darting and diving. Many new and curi- the wild and hostile Apaches have their ous water.plants floated near the margin, and dwelling-places, from which they continone, lotus-leaved, with small, delicate tendrils, ually descend upon the border settlements. formed a kind of net-work on the water, with and haciendas, sweeping off the herds of a superb crimson flower, which exhibited a beautiful contrast with the inky blackness of horses and mules, and barbarously killthe pool. The Mexicans, as they passed this ing the unarmed peasantry. The Caspot, crossed themselves reverently, and mut- manches, also, from the distant prairie tered an Ave Maria ; for in the lonely re-country beyond the Del Norte and Rio gions of the Mal Pais, the superstitious In- Pecos, make annual expeditions into these dian believes that demons and gnomes, and States, and frequently far into the interior, spirits of evil purposes have their dwelling for the purpose of procuring animals and places, whence they not unfrequently pounce slaves, carrying off the young boys and upon the solitary traveller, and bear him into the cavernous bowels of the earth; the arched girls, and massacring the adults in the roof of the prison-house resounding to the tread
most barbarous manner. of their horses as they pass the dreaded spot, The author, on leaving Mexico, concludes muttering rapidly their prayers, and handling the chapter with some general remarks their amulets and charms to keep off the treach
on the condition of the country, character erous bogles who invisibly beset the path. “ The surrounding country is curiously dis- be guessed from the extract from his pre
of the people, etc., the tone of which may turbed, and the flow of the molten lava can
face. easily be traced, with its undulations, and even
We have only room for one or two retaining the exact form of the ripple as it flow- paragraphs. ed down from the crater. Hollow cones appear at intervals like gigantic petrified bubbles, “ The Mexicans, as a people, rank decidedly and extend far into the plain. Some of these, low in the scale of humanity. They are dein shape like an inverted cup, are rent, and ficient in moral as well as physical organizapresent large fissures, while others are broken tion: by the latter I do not mean to assert that in two, one half only remaining, which exhibit they are wanting in corporeal qualities, althe thickness of the shell of basaltic lava to be though certainly inferior to most races in bodonly from one to three feet.”
ily strength ; but there is a deficiency in that
respect which is invariably found attendant He reached Durango on the fourth. upon a low state of moral or intellectual organThis he describes as a picturesque city, ization. They are treacherous, cunning, inwith two or three large churches, and some dolent, and without energy, and cowardly by
nature. Inherent, instinctive cowardice is raregovernment buildings, fair to the but
ly met with in any race of men, yet I affirm foul within,” with a population of eighteen that in this instance it certainly exists, and is thousand, “seventeen thousand of whom
most conspicuous; they possess at the same are rogues and rascals.” It was during time that amount of brutish indifference to
VOL. I. NO. III. NEW SERIES,
death which can be turned to good account in | flying over the road. No lo cree su mercedsoldiers, and I believe, if properly led, that the your worship cannot believe I would do such a Mexicans would on this account behave toler- thing.”. Now it so happened, that the pistols ably well in the field, but no more than tolera- which I had given him to carry were secured in bly.
a pair of holsters tightly buckled and strapped “ It is a matter of little astonishment to me round his waist. It was a difficult matter to that the country is in the state it is.
unbuckle them at any time : and as to having never progress or become civilized until its had time to get one out to fire at a duck flying present population is supplanted by a more over the road, it was impossible, even if such an energetic one. The present would-be repub- idea had occurred to him. I was certain that lican form of government is not adapted to the duck was a fable, invented when he had such a population as exists in Mexico, as is missed me, and, in order to save my ammuniplainly evident in the effects of the constantly- tion, and my head from another sportsmanlike recurring revolutions. Until a people can ap- display, I halted and took from him everything preciate the great principles of civil and relig- in the shape of offensive weapon, not excepting ious liberty, the advantages of free institutions his knife; and wound up a sermon which are thrown away upon them. A long minority deemed it necessary to give him, by administering has to be passed through before this can be a couple of dozen, well laid on with the buckleeffected; and, this instance, befere the requi- end of my surcingle, at the same time giving site fitness can be attained, the country will him to understand, that if, hereafter, I had probably have passed from the hands of its reason to suspect that he had even dreamed of present owners to a more able and energetic another attempt upon my life, I would pistol
On the subject of government I will not bim without a moment's hesitation. Distance touch: I maintain that the Mexicans are inca- from El Chorro thirty-six miles.” pable of self-government, and will always be so until regenerated."
On the 26th, at Guajoquilla, he encounWhether our own unregenerate nation tered a half-starved Kentuckian, who had is called upon to propagate with the point just been found and brought in from the of the bayonet, the true political faith sierra, where the remainder of his comamong this benighted people, is a question, pany were wandering without food and which it is to be hoped will never need to water, if not already dead. They were a be discussed before a class of readers who party of Santa Fé teamsters, who had left do not look for their opinions to the col
a caravan to proceed across the country to umns of the daily newspapers.
the United States. On the road from Durango to Mapimi, the author had a little adventure with his According to his account, the others must Mexican muleteer, which may account for long ere this bave perished, for when he left
them they were prostrate on the ground, unable some of his prejudice against the nation :
to rise, and praying for death. In the hope of
recovering some of their effects. his companion, “ Oct. 11th.—To the rancho of Los Sauces-after recruiting his strength, had started back the willows. The plains to-day were covered to the spot with some Mexicans, but meeting a with cattle, and horses and mules. In the party of Camancbes, they had returned without morning I was riding slowly ahead of my çaval- reaching the place. The next day, however, Jada, passing at the time through a lonely some vaqueros entered the town, bearing six mezquite-grove, when the sudden report of fire or seven Americans benind their saddles, and arms, and the whistling of a bullet passing my toward the evening two more were brought in, head at rather unpleasantly close quarters, making eleven in all who had arrived. Such caused me to turn sharply round, wben I saw miserable, emaciated creatures it has never been my amiable mozo with a pistol in his hand, some my lot to see. With long hair and beards, and fifteen yards behind me, looking very guilty and thin, cadaverous faces, with cheek-bones profoolish. To whip a pistol out of my holsters jecting almost through the skin, and their and ride up to him was the work of an instant; mouths cracked with the drought, they disand I was on the point of blowing out his mounted before my door, weak and scarcely brains, when his terrified and absurdly guilty- able to stand ; most of them had entirely lost looking face turned my ire into an immoderate their voices, and some were giddy and lightfit of laughter.
headed with the sufferings they had endured. " Amigo," I said to him, “ do you call this From their account I had no doubt that ten of being skilled in the use of arms, to miss my their party were perishing in the sierra, or most head at fifteen yards ?'
probably had expired; for they were entirely ** Ah, caballero! in the name of all the saints exhausted when the last of those who had arI did not fire at you, but at a duck which was rived left the spot where they had been lying.