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.