Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Remarkably Fertile Soil

Mexico is remarkable for the fertility and peculiar productiveness of her soil, both of a vegetable and mineral character, though the former is very largely dependent upon irrigation, and almost everywhere suffers for want of intelligent treatment. As a striking proof of the fertility of the soil, an able writer upon the subject tells us, among other statistical facts, that while wheat cultivated in France and some other countries averages but six grains for one planted, Mexican soil gives an average product of twenty-two times the amount of seed which is sown. Humboldt was surprised at this when it was reported to him, and took pains to verify the fact, finding the statement to be absolutely correct. Being situated partly in the tropics and partly in the temperate zone, its vegetable products partake of both regions, and are varied in the extreme. In the hot lands are dense forests of rosewood, mahogany, and ebony, together with dyewoods of great commercial value, while in the temperate and cooler districts the oak and pine are reasonably abundant. It must be admitted, however, that those districts situated near populous neighborhoods have been nearly denuded of their growth during centuries of waste and destruction by the conquering Spaniards. From this scarcity of commercial wood arises the absence of framed houses, and the universal use of stone and clay, or adobe, for building purposes. There is valuable wood enough in certain districts, which is still being wasted. The sleepers of the Monterey and Mexican Gulf railway are nearly all of ebony. Attention having been called to the fact, orders have been issued to save this wood for shipment to our Northern furniture manufacturers. Iron ties and sleepers are being substituted on the trunk lines of the railways as fast as the wooden ones decay, being found so much more durable. Those used on the Vera Cruz line are imported from England; on the Mexican Central, from the United States. There is a low, scrubby growth of wood on the table-lands and mountain sides, which is converted by the peons into charcoal and transported on the backs of the burros (jackasses) long distances for economical use in the cities and villages. All the delicious fruits of the West Indies are abundantly produced in the southern section, and all the substantial favorites of our Northern and Western States thrive luxuriantly in her middle and northern divisions. Some of the cultivated berries are remarkably developed; the strawberry, for instance, thrives beyond all precedent in central Mexico, and while larger, it is no less delicately flavored than our own choice varieties. The flora throughout Mexico is exceedingly rich and varied, botanists having recognized over ten thousand families of plants indigenous to the soil. It appeared to the writer, however, that while the color of the flowers was intensified above that of our Northern States, their fragrance was not so well defined. Even the soft green mosses threw out a star-like blossom of tiny proportions, which seemed almost as full of expression as human eyes, while they emitted a subdued fragrance. The best-grown coffee of the country is in our estimation equal to the best grades of Mocha or Java, while the tobacco produced in several of the states compares favorably with the much-lauded brands of Cuba. The most fertile regions of Mexico lie on the east and west, where the districts decline abruptly from the great plateau, or table-land, towards the coast.

The Monterey and Mexican Gulf railway has lately opened access to most excellent land, suitable for sugar plantations, equal to the best in Louisiana devoted to this purpose, and which can be bought for a mere song, as the saying is. These lands are better adapted to sugar raising than those of the State just named, because frost is here unknown. In the opening of these tropical districts by railroad, connected with our Southern system, we have offered us the opportunity to secure all the products which we now get from Cuba. These staples are equal in quality, and can be landed at our principal commercial centres at a much less cost than is paid for shipments from that island. Such is the arbitrary rule of Spain in Cuba, and the miserable political condition of her people, that all business transacted in her ports is handicapped by regulations calculated to drive commerce away from her shores. The fact should also be recalled that while Mexico produces every article which we import from Cuba, she has over five times the population to consume our manufactures and products, rendering her commercial intercourse with us just so much more important. At present, or rather heretofore, she has sought to exchange her native products almost wholly with Europe, through the port of Vera Cruz; but on account of the excellent facilities afforded by the Mexican Central Railroad the volume of trade has already begun to set towards the United States. While upon the subject it may be mentioned incidentally that the way business of this railroad has exceeded all calculations, and yet it is but partially developed, the rolling stock being quite inadequate to the demand for freight transportation.

Mexico Tip of the Day

Mexico is the fourth largest provider in geothermal power. Ranking behind the United States, the Philippines and Indonesia, Mexico has a geothermal energy capacity of over 900 MW. In 1959, it installed the first geothermal power plant in the Western hemisphere.

Mexico’s People Education and Religion

Politeness and courtesy are as a rule characteristics of the intelligent and middle classes of the people of Mexico, and are also observable in intercourse with the humbler ranks of the masses. They have heretofore looked upon Americans as being hardly more than semi-civilized. Those with whom they have been most brought in contact have been reckless and adventurous frontiersmen, drovers, Texans, cow boys, often individuals who have left their homes in the Northern or Middle States with the stigma of crime upon them. The inference they have drawn from contact with such representatives of our population has been but natural. If Mexicans travel abroad, they generally do so in Europe, sailing from Vera Cruz, and they know comparatively little of us socially. It is equally true that we have been in the habit of regarding the Mexicans in much the same light. This mutual feeling is born of ignorance, and the nearer relation into which the two countries are now brought by means of the excellent system of railroads is rapidly dispelling the misconception on both sides of the Rio Grande. The masses, especially the peons, are far more illiterate than in this country, and are easily led by the higher intelligence of the few; nor have the Mexicans yet shown much real progress in the purpose of promoting general education, though incipient steps have been taken in that direction in most of their cities, affording substantial proof of the progressive tendencies of the nation. We heard in the city of Mexico of free night schools being organized, designed for the improvement of adults.
A division of the populace into castes rules here almost as imperiously as it does in India, and it will require generations of close contact with a more cultured and democratic people before these servile ideas can be obliterated. Though we hear little or nothing said about this matter, yet to an observant eye it has daily and hourly demonstration. The native Indians of Mexico are of a different race from their employers. Originally conquered and enslaved by the Spaniards, though they have since been emancipated by law, they are still kept in a quasi condition of peonage by superior wit and finesse. The proprietor of a large hacienda, who owns land, say ten miles square, manages, by advancing money to them, to keep the neighboring people in his debt. They are compelled by necessity to purchase their domestic articles of consumption from the nearest available supply, which is the storehouse of the hacienda. Here they must pay the price which is demanded, let it be never so unreasonable. This arrangement is all against the peon, and all in favor of the employer. The lesser party to such a system is pretty sure to be cheated right and left, especially as the estate is nearly always administered by an agent and not by the owner himself. There are some notable exceptions to this, but these only prove the rule. So long as the employés owe the proprietor money, they are bound by law to remain in his service. Wages are so low--say from twenty-five to thirty-five cents per day--that were the natives of a thrifty, ambitious, and provident disposition, which is by no means the case, they could not save a dollar towards their pecuniary emancipation. The laboring classes seem to have no idea of economy or of providing for the morrow. Food, coarse food, and amusement for the present hour, that is all they desire, and is all about which they seriously concern themselves. The next score of years, while they will probably do much for the country as regards commercial and intellectual improvement, will prove fatal in a degree to the picturesqueness which now renders Mexico so attractive. Radical progress in one direction must needs be destructive in another, and while some of the allurements of her strong individuality will disappear, her moral and physical status will be greatly improved. Her ragged, half-naked people will don proper attire, sacrificing the gaudy colors which now make every out-door scene kaleidoscopic; a modern grain thresher will take the place of weary animals plodding in a circle, treading out the grain; half-clad women at the fountains will disappear, and iron pipes will convey water for domestic use to the place of consumption. The awkward branch of crooked wood now used to turn the soil will be replaced by the modern plough, and reaping machines will relieve the weary backs of men, women, and children, who slowly grub beneath a burning sun through the broad grain fields. Irrigating streams will be made to flow by their own gravitation, while the wooden bucket and well-sweep will become idle and useless. Still, we are not among those who see only a bright side for the future of the republic, nor do we believe so confidently as some writers in her great natural resources. They are abundant, but not so very exceptional as enthusiasts would have us believe. Aside from the production of silver, which all must admit to be inexhaustible, she has very little to boast of. It is doubtful if any other equal area in the world possesses larger deposits of the precious metals, or has already yielded to man more bountifully of them. We have seen it asserted by careful and experienced writers, that one half of all the silver now in use among the nations originally came from Mexico. Her real and permanent progress is inevitable; but it will be very gradual, coming not through her rich mines of gold and silver, but by the growth of her agricultural and manufacturing interests; and if in a score of years she can assume a position of respect and importance in the line of nations, it is all that can reasonably be expected. If Mexico can but advance in progressive ideas as rapidly during the next ten years as she has done during the decade just past, the period we have named will be abbreviated, and her condition will amount to a moral revolution.
Our sister republic has yet to accomplish two special and important objects: first, the suppression of the secret and malign influence of the Roman Catholic priesthood; and, secondly, the promotion of education among the masses. Since the separation of church and state, in 1857, education has made slow but steady advances. Most of the states have adopted the system of compulsory education, penalties being affixed to non-compliance with the law, and rewards decreed for those who voluntarily observe the same. Though shorn of so large a degree of its temporal powers, the church is still secretly active in its machinations for evil. The vast army of non-producing, indolent priests is active in one direction, namely, that for the suppression of all intelligent progress, and the complete subjugation of the common people through superstition and ignorance. A realization of the condition of affairs may be had from the following circumstance related to us by a responsible American resident. It must be remembered that the wheat, which in some well-irrigated districts is the principal product, is threshed by means of piling it up on the hard clay soil, and driving goats, sheep, and burros over it. These animals trudge round and round, with weary limbs, knee deep in the straw, for hours together, urged forward by whips in the hands of men and boys, and thus the grain is separated from the stalks. Of course the product threshed out in this manner is contaminated with animal filth of all sorts. An enterprising American witnessed this primitive process not long since, and on returning to his northern home resolved to take back with him to Mexico a modern threshing machine; and being more desirous to introduce it for the benefit of the people than to make any money out of the operation, he offered the machine at cost price. A native farmer was induced to put one on trial, when it was at once found that it not only took the place of a dozen men and boys, but also of twice that number of animals. This was not all; the machine performed the work in less than one quarter of the time required to do the same amount of work by the old method, besides rendering the grain in a perfectly clear condition. This would seem to be entirely satisfactory, and was so until it got to the ears of the priests. They came upon the ground to see the machine work, and were amazed. This would not answer, according to their ideas; from their standpoint it was a dangerous innovation. What might it not lead to! They therefore declared that the devil was in the machine, and absolutely forbade the peons to work with it! Their threats and warnings frightened their ignorant, servile parishioners out of their wits. The machine was accordingly shipped north of the Rio Grande, whence it came, to prevent the natives from destroying it, and cattle still tread out the grain, which they render dirty and unfit for food, except in the most populous centres, where modern machinery is being gradually introduced.
"The clogging influence of the Romish Church," says Hon. John H. Rice, "upon civilization and progress are seen in its opposition to the education and elevation of the common people; in its intolerant warfare against freedom of conscience, and all other forms of religious worship, frequently displayed in persecutions, and sometimes in personal injuries; and in its stolid opposition to the onward march of development and improvement, unless directed to its own advantage."

Mexico and Faith

At last it would seem as though the energies of this much distracted country, so long the victim of the priesthood, professional brigandage, and civil and foreign wars, have become diverted into channels of productive industry, developing resources of wealth and stability which have heretofore been unrecognized. A country facing upon two oceans, and having seven or eight railroad lines intersecting it in various directions, cannot remain in statu quo; it must take its place more or less promptly in the grand line of nations, all of whom are moving forward under the influence of the progressive ideas of the nineteenth century. It is only since 1876 that Mexico has enjoyed anything like a stable government; and as her constitution is modeled upon our own, let us sincerely hope for the best results. General Porfirio Diaz, President of the republic, is a man whose official and private life commands the respect of the entire people. That his administration has given the country a grand impetus, has largely restored its credit, and insured a continuance of peace, seems to be an undisputed fact. His principal purpose is plainly to modernize Mexico. The twelve years from 1876, when he became president, until 1889, when his third term commenced, has proved to be the progressive age of the republic. He is of native birth, and rose from the ranks of the masses. The only opposition to his government is that of the church party, led by the Archbishop of Mexico, and supported by that great army of non-producers, the useless priests, who fatten upon the poor and superstitious populace. At present this party has no political power or influence, but is working at all times, in secret, silently awaiting an opportunity to sacrifice anything or everything to the sole interests of the Roman Catholic Church. "The political struggle in Mexico," says United States Commissioner William Eleroy Curtis, "since the independence of the republic, has been and will continue to be between antiquated, bigoted, and despotic Romanism, allied with the ancient aristocracy, under whose encouragement Maximilian came, on the one hand, and the spirit of intellectual, industrial, commercial, and social progress on the other."
Here, as in European countries, where this form of faith prevails, it is the women mostly--we might almost say solely, in Mexico--who give their attendance upon the ceremonies of the church. The male population are seldom seen within its walls, though yielding a sort of tacit acquiescence to the faith. We are speaking of large communities in the cities and among the more intelligent classes. The peons of the rural districts, the ignorant masses who do not think for themselves, but who are yet full of superstitious fears, are easily impressed by church paraphernalia, gorgeous trappings, and gilded images. This class, men and women, are completely under the guidance of the priesthood. "Although the clergy still exercise a powerful influence among the common people," says Commissioner Curtis, "whose superstitious ignorance has not yet been reached by the free schools and compulsory education law, in politics they are powerless." It was in 1857 that Mexico formally divorced the church and state by an amendment to her constitution, thereby granting unrestricted freedom of conscience and religious worship to all persons, sects, and churches. Several denominations in the United States avail themselves of this privilege, and in some of the cities Protestant churches have been established where regular weekly services are held. "With the overthrow of Montezuma's empire in 1520," says that distinguished native Mexican writer, Riveray Rio, "began the rule of the Spaniard, which lasted just three hundred years. During this time, Rome and Spain, priest and king, held this land and people as a joint possession. The greedy hand was ever reached out to seize alike the product of the mine and soil. The people were enslaved for the aggrandizement and power of a foreign church and state. It was then that the Church of Rome fostered such a vast army of friars, priests, and nuns, acquired those vast landed estates, and erected such an incredible number of stone churches, great convents, inquisitorial buildings, Jesuit colleges, and gathered such vast stores of gold and silver. All this time the poor people were being reduced to the utmost poverty, and every right and opportunity for personal and civil advancement was taken from them. They were left to grope on in intellectual darkness. They could have no commerce with foreign nations. If they made any advance in national wealth, it was drained away for royal and ecclesiastical tribute. Superstition reigned under the false teachings of a corrupt priesthood, while the frightful Inquisition, by its cruel machinery, coerced the people to an abjectness that has scarcely had a parallel in human history. Under such a dispensation of evil rule, Mexico became of less and less importance among the family of nations."
This brief summary brings us to the peaceful and comparatively prosperous condition of the republic to-day, and prepares the canvas upon which to sketch the proposed pen pictures of this interesting country, with which we are so intimately connected, both politically and geographically.

Mexico Moving at a Different Rhythm

The stranger who comes to Mexico with the expectation of enjoying his visit must bring with him a liberal and tolerant spirit. He must be prepared to encounter a marked difference of race, of social and business life, together with the absence of many of such domestic comforts as habit has rendered almost necessities. The exercise of a little philosophy will reconcile him to the exigencies of the case, and render endurable here what would be inadmissible at home. A coarse, ill-cooked dinner, untidy service, and an unappeased appetite must be compensated by active interest in grand and peculiar scenery; a hard bed and a sleepless night, by the intelligent enjoyment of famous places clothed with historic interest; foul smells and rank odors, by the charming study of a unique people, extraordinarily interesting in their wretched squalor and nakedness. Though the stranger is brought but little in contact therewith, owing to the briefness of his visit to the country, quite enough is casually seen and experienced to show that there is no lack of culture and refinement, no absence of warmth of heart and gracious hospitality, among the more favored classes of Mexico, both in the northern and southern sections of the country. Underneath the exaggerated expressions so common to Spanish etiquette, there is yet a real cordiality which the discriminating visitor will not fail to recognize. If, on a first introduction and visit, he is told that the house and all it contains is his own, and that the proprietor is entirely at his service, he will neither take this literally nor as a burlesque, but will receive the assurance for what it really signifies, that is, as conveying a spirit of cordiality. These expressions are as purely conventional as though the host asked simply and pleasantly after his guest's health, and mean no more.
If progress is and has been slow in Mexico, it must be remembered that every advance has been consummated under most discouraging circumstances, and yet that the charitable, educational, artistic, and technological institutions already firmly established, are quietly revolutionizing the people through the most peaceful but effective agencies.
As to government organization, the several states are represented in congress by two senators each, with one representative to the lower house from each section comprising a population of forty thousand. The federal district is under the exclusive jurisdiction of congress. The division of power as accorded to the several states is almost precisely like that of our own government. The federal authority is administered by a president, aided by six cabinet ministers at the head of the several departments of state, such as the minister of foreign affairs, of the treasury, secretary of war, and so on. Thus it will be seen that the republic of Mexico has adopted our own constitution as her model throughout.
As long as heavy and almost prohibitory duties exist in Mexico, and are exacted on nearly everything except the production of the precious metals, the development of her other resources must be circumscribed. With a rich soil and plenty of cheap labor, she ought to be able to export many staples which would command our markets, especially as regards coffee, cotton, and wool. If the custom-houses on each side of the boundary between this country and Mexico could be abolished, both would reap an immense pecuniary benefit, while the sister republic would realize an impetus in every desirable respect which nothing else could so quickly bring about. Wealth and population would rapidly flow into this southern land, whose agriculture would thrive as it has never yet done, and its manufactories would double in number as well as in pecuniary gain. It requires no argument to show that our neighbors could not be thus largely benefited without our own country also reaping an equivalent advantage.
The very name of Mexico has been for years the synonym of barbarism; but the traveled and reading public have gradually come to realize that it is a country embracing many large and populous cities, where the amenities of modern civilization abound, where elegance and culture are freely manifested, and where great wealth has been accumulated in the pursuit of legitimate business by the leading citizens. The national capital will ere-long contain a population of half a million, while the many new and costly edifices now erecting in the immediate environs are of a spacious and elegant character, adapted, of course, to the climate, but yet combining many European and American elements of advanced domestic architecture.

Geographical Products of Mexico

Let us consider for a moment the geographical situation of this great southland, which is separated from us only by a comparatively insignificant stream of water.
The present republic of Mexico is bounded on the north by the United States, from which it is separated in part by the narrow Rio Grande; on the south by Guatemala, Balize, and the Pacific Ocean; on the east by the Gulf of Mexico; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean, extending as far north as the Bay of San Diego, California. Of its nearly six thousand miles of coast line, sixteen hundred are on the Gulf of Mexico and forty-two hundred miles are on the Pacific. The topographical aspect of the country has been not inappropriately likened to an inverted cornucopia. Its greatest length from northwest to southeast is almost exactly two thousand miles, and its greatest width, which is at the twenty-sixth degree of north latitude, is seven hundred and fifty miles. The minimum width is at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where it contracts to a hundred and fifty miles. The area of the entire republic is probably a little less than eight hundred thousand square miles. Trustworthy statistics relating to Mexico are not attainable. Even official reports are scarcely better than estimates. Carlos Butterfield, accredited statistician, makes the area of the republic about thirty-three thousand square miles less than the figures we have given. He also calculates that the density of the population is some ten or eleven to the square mile. Other authorities, however, give the area much nearer to our own figures. A detailed survey which would enable us to get at a satisfactory aggregate has never been made, so that a careful estimate is all we have to depend upon.
The climate of the country is divided by common acceptation into three zones, each of which is well defined: it being hot in the tierra caliente, or hot lands, of the coast; temperate in the tierra templada, or region between three thousand and six thousand feet above the level of the sea; and cold in the tierra fria, or region at an elevation exceeding six thousand feet. In the first named the extreme heat is 100° Fahr.; in the last the extreme of cold is 20° above zero. In the national capital the mercury ranges between 65° and 75° Fahr. throughout the year. In fact, every climate known to the traveler may be met with between Vera Cruz and the capital of the republic. In the neighborhood of Orizaba one finds sugar-cane and Indian corn, tobacco and palm-trees, bananas and peaches, growing side by side.
Let us state in brief, for general information, the main products of these three geographical divisions. In the hot region we find cotton, vanilla, hemp, pepper, cocoa, oranges, bananas, indigo, rice, and various other tropical fruits. In the temperate region, tobacco, coffee, sugar, maize, the brown bean, peas, and most of the favorite northern fruits. Here extreme heat and frost are alike unknown. In the cold region, all of the hardy vegetables, such as potatoes, beets, carrots, and the cereals, wheat growing at as high an elevation as eighty-five hundred feet, while two crops annually are grown in various sections of the tierra templada. Tobacco is indigenous in Mexico, and derives its name from Tabaco in Yucatan. Indian corn and brown beans, two of the principal sources of the food consumed by the natives, are grown in all the states of the republic.
Mexico is situated in the same degree of latitude in the Western Hemisphere that Egypt occupies in the Eastern, the Tropic of Cancer dividing both countries in the centre. There is a striking resemblance between them, also, in many other respects, such as architecture, vegetation, domestic utensils, mode of cultivating the land, ancient pyramids, and idols, while both afford abundant tokens of a history antedating all accredited record. Toltec and Aztec antiquities bear a remarkable resemblance to the old Egyptian remains to be found in the museums of Europe and America. Speaking of these evidences of a former and unknown race still to be found in southern Mexico, especially in Yucatan, Wilson the historian says: "In their solidity they strikingly remind us of the best productions of Egyptian art. Nor are they less venerable in appearance than those which excite our admiration in the valley of the Nile. Their points of resemblance, too, are so numerous, they carry to the beholder a conviction that the architects on this side of the ocean were familiar with the models on the other." Doubtless the volcanic soil of Mexico conceals vast remains of the far past, even as Pompeii was covered and continued unsuspected for centuries, until accident led to its being gradually exhumed. Whole cities are known to have disappeared in various parts of Mexico, leaving no more evidence of their existence than may be found in a few broken columns or some half-disintegrated stones. Of this mutability we shall have ample evidence as we progress on our route through the several states. When in various parts of the country we see the native laborers irrigating the land in the style which prevailed thousands of years ago on the banks of the Nile, and behold the dark-hued women slightly clothed in a white cotton fabric with faces half-concealed, while they bear water jars upon their heads, we seem to breathe the very atmosphere of Asia. The rapid introduction of railroads and the modern facilities for travel are fast rendering us as familiar with the characteristics of this land of the Montezumas as we have long been with that of the Pharaohs; and though it has not the halo of Biblical story to recommend it to us, yet Mexico is not lacking in numberless legends, poetic associations, and the charm of a tragic history quite as picturesque and absorbing as that of any portion of the East. Many intelligent students of history believe that the first inhabitants of this continent probably came from Asia by way of Behring Strait or the Aleutian Islands, which may at some period in past ages have extended across the north Pacific Ocean; the outermost island of this group (Attoo), it will be remembered, is at this time but four hundred miles from the Asiatic coast, whence it is believed to have been originally peopled.

A Country Misunderstood

Having resolved to visit Mexico, the question first to be considered was how to do so in the most advantageous manner. Repairing to the office of Messrs. Raymond & Whitcomb, in Boston, after a brief consultation with those experienced organizers of travel, the author handed the firm a check for the cost of a round trip to Mexico and back. On the following day he took his seat in a Pullman parlor car in Boston, to occupy the same section until his return from an excursion of ten thousand miles. A select party of ladies and gentlemen came together at the same time in the Fitchburg railroad station, most of whom were strangers to each other, but who were united by the same purpose. The traveler lives, eats, and sleeps in the vestibule train, while en route, in which he first embarks, until his return to the starting-point, a dining-car, with reading and writing rooms, also forming a part of the train. All care regarding the routes to be followed, as to hotel accommodations while stopping in large cities, side excursions, and the providing of domestic necessities, are dismissed from his mind. He luxuriates in the pleasure of seeing a strange and beautiful land, without a thought as to the modus operandi, or the means by which detail is conquered. In short, he dons Fortunatus's cap, and permits events to develop themselves to his intense delight. Such was the author's experience on the occasion concerning which these wayside views of Mexico were written. It was a holiday journey, but it is hoped that a description of it may impart to the general reader a portion of the pleasure and useful information which the author realized from an excursion into Aztec Land, full of novel and uninterrupted enjoyment.
Bordering upon the United States on the extreme southwest, for a distance of more than two thousand miles, is a republic which represents a civilization possibly as old as that of Egypt; a land, notwithstanding its proximity to us, of which the average American knows less than he does of France or Italy, but which rivals them in natural picturesqueness, and nearly equals them in historic interest.
It is a country which is much misunderstood and almost wholly misrepresented. It may be called the land of tradition and romance, whose true story is most poetic and sanguinary. Such is Mexico, with her twenty-seven independent states, a federal district in which is situated the national capital, and the territory of Lower California,--a widespread country, containing in all a population of between ten and eleven millions. As in the instance of this Union, each state controls its internal affairs so far as it can do so without conflicting with the laws of the national government, which are explicitly defined. The nature of the constitution, adopted in 1857 by the combined states, is that of a republic pure and simple, thoroughly democratic in its provisions. The national power resides in the people, from whom emanates all public authority. The glowing pen of Prescott has rendered us all familiar with the romantic side of Mexican history, but legitimate knowledge of her primitive story is, unfortunately, of the most fragmentary character. Our information concerning the early inhabitants comes almost solely through the writings of irresponsible monks and priests who could neither see nor represent anything relative to an idolatrous people save in accordance with the special interests of their own church; or from Spanish historians who had never set foot upon the territory of which they wrote, and who consequently repeated with heightened color the legends, traditions, and exaggerations of others. "The general opinion may be expressed," says Janvier, in his "Mexican Guide," "in regard to the writings concerning this period that, as a rule, a most gorgeous superstructure of fancy has been raised upon a very meagre foundation of fact. As romance, information of this highly imaginative sort is entertaining, but it is not edifying." One would be glad to get at the other side of the Aztec story, which, we suspect, would place the chivalric invaders in a very different light from that of their own boastful records, and also enable us to form a more just and truthful opinion of the aborigines themselves. That their numbers, religious sacrifices, and barbaric excesses are generally overdrawn is perfectly manifest. Every fair-minded student of history frankly admits this. It was necessary for Cortez and his followers to paint the character of the Aztecs in darkest hues to palliate and excuse, in a measure, their own wholesale rapine and murder. It was the elder Dumas who said, "Truth is liable to be left-handed in history." As Cortez was a champion of the Roman Catholic Church, that institution did not hesitate to represent his achievements so as to redound to its own glory. "Posterity is too often deceived by the vague hyperboles of poets and rhetoricians," says Macaulay, "who mistake the splendor of a court for the happiness of a people." No one can forget the magnificence of Montezuma's household as represented by the chroniclers, and as magnified by time and distance.