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Life in Mexico by Frances Calderon De La Barca

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a pretty wife and a number of children, and that his azotea is occupied by
the federalist troops. Fortunately, these grenades burst in the _patio_ of
his house, and no one was injured. The chief danger to those who are not
actually engaged in this affair, is from these bullets and shells, which
come rattling into all the houses. We have messages from various people
whom we invited to come here for safety, that they would gladly accept our
offer, but are unwilling to leave their houses exposed to pillage, and do
not dare to pass through the streets. So our numbers have not increased as

You may suppose, that although this is Sunday, there is no mass in the
churches. The Prior of San Fernando, who has just sent us round some
colossal cauliflowers and other fine vegetables from his garden, permits us
to come to his convent for safety, should anything occur here, ... I am
afraid he would lodge the women-kind in some outhouse.

I had written thus far, when we received a visit from the Baron de -----,
----- Minister, who, living in a very exposed situation, near the palace,
requests us to receive his secretary of legation, M. de -----, who is
dangerously ill of typhus fever, as the doctors, no doubt warned by the
fate of poor Dr. Plan, fear to pass into that street which is blocked up by
troops and cannon. Some people fear a universal sacking of the city,
especially in the event of the triumph of the federalist party. The
Ministers seem to have great confidence in their _flags_--but I cannot help
thinking that a party of armed _leperos_ would be no respecters of persons
or privileges! As yet our position continues very safe. We have the Alameda
between us and the troops; the palace, the square, and the principal
streets being on the other side of the Alameda; and this street, a branch
of the great Calle de Tacuba, stretching out beyond it. I write more to
occupy my thoughts than in hopes of interesting you; for I am afraid that
you will almost be tired of this _revolutionary_ letter. As a clever
Mexican, the Marquis of -----, says--"Some years ago we gave forth cries
(_gritos_)--that was in the infancy of our independence--now we begin to
_pronounce_ (pronuncianos). Heaven knows when we shall be old enough
to speak plain, so that people may know what we mean!"

_Sunday Evening_.--Monsieur de ----- has arrived, and is not worse. We have
unexpectedly had twelve persons to dinner to-day. The news to-night is,
that the government troops have arrived, and that a great attack will be
made by them to-morrow on the rebels in the palace, which will probably
bring matters to a conclusion. Some of our guests are sitting up, and
others lying down on the sofa without undressing. I prefer being
comfortable, so goodnight.

20th.--We were astonished this morning at the general tranquillity, and
concluded that, instead of having attacked the rebels, the government was
holding a parley with them, but a note from the English Minister informs us
that a skirmish has taken place between the two parties at one of the gates
of the city, in which the government party has triumphed. So far the news
is good.

Our street has a most picturesque and lively appearance this morning. It is
crowded with Indians from the country, bringing in their fruit and
vegetables for sale, and establishing a temporary market in front of the
church of San Fernando. Innumerable carriages, drawn by mules, are passing
along, packed inside and out, full of families hurrying to the country with
their children and moveables. Those who are poorer, are making their way on
foot--men and women carrying mattresses, and little children following with
baskets and bird-cages--carts are passing, loaded with chairs and tables
and beds, and all manner of old furniture, uprooted for the first time no
doubt since many years--all are taking advantage of this temporary
cessation of firing to make their escape. Our stables are full of mules and
horses sent us by our friends in the centre of the city, where all supplies
of water are cut off. Another physician, a Spaniard, has just been shot!

Every room at San Cosme and in all the suburbs is taken. In some rooms are
numbers of people, obliged to sleep upon mats, too glad to have escaped the
danger to care for any inconvenience. A quantity of plate and money and
diamonds were sent here this morning, which we have been hiding in
different parts of the house; but they say that in cases of pillage the
plunderers always search the most _impossible_ places, pulling up the
boards, brick floors, etc., ripping up the mattresses, and so on; so I
believe there is no use in concealing anything. Near us lives a celebrated
general, on whose political opinions there seems much doubt, as he has
joined neither party, and has become invisible ever since this affair
commenced. He is a showy, handsome man, with a good deal of superficial
instruction, and exceedingly vain of his personal advantages. I am quite
sure that, having allowed him to be a fine-looking man, he would forgive me
for saying that his character is frivolous, and that his principles, both
moral and political, are governed entirely by that which best suits his own

The Count de B----, secretary to the French Legation, mounted his horse
last evening, and, like a true young Frenchman, set off to pay a visit to a
pretty girl of his acquaintance, passing through the most dangerous
streets, and particularly conspicuous by his singular dress, good looks,
and moustaches. He had not gone far before he was surrounded by some dozen
of _leperos_ with knives, who would, no doubt, have robbed and despatched
him, but that in tearing off his sarape they discovered his uniform, and
not being very skilled in military accoutrements, concluded him to be an
officer on the part of the government. They being on the federalist side,
hurried with their prize to the palace, where he was thrown into prison,
and obliged to remain until some of the officers came to see the prisoner,
and recognized him, much to their astonishment.

We are now going to dine with what appetite we may, which is generally
pretty good.

Ten o'clock, P.M.--We ventured out after dinner to take a turn in the
direction opposite the city, and met various parties of ladies, who, as
they cannot use their carriages at present, were thankful to escape from
their temporary and crowded dwellings, and were actually taking exercise on
foot; when we were encountered by people full of the intelligence that the
great attack on the palace is to be made this evening, and were advised to
hurry home. We were also assured that a party of _leperos_, headed by their
long-bearded captain, an old robber of the name of Castro, had passed the
night before our door. Before we could reach home the firing began, and we
have passed several hours in a state of great suspense, amidst the roaring
of the cannon, the shouting of the troops, the occasional cries of those
who are wounded, and, to make everything appear more lugubrious, the most
awful storm of thunder and rain I almost ever heard. The Senora de -----'s
brother is a captain in the government service, and he and his regiment
have distinguished themselves very much during these last few days;
consequently she is dreadfully uneasy to-night.

The gentlemen seem inclined to pass the night in talking. We think of lying
down, and sleeping if we can. I hope nothing will happen in the night, for
everything seems worse in the darkness and consequent confusion.

21st.--After passing a sleepless night, listening to the roaring of cannon,
and figuring to ourselves the devastation that must have taken place, we
find to our amusement that nothing decisive has occurred. The noise last
night was mere skirmishing, and half the cannons were fired in the air. In
the darkness there was no mark. But though the loss on either side is so
much less than might have been expected, the rebels in the palace cannot be
very comfortable, for they say that the air is infected by the number of
unburied dead bodies lying there; indeed there are many lying unburied on
the streets, which is enough to raise a fever, to add to the calamitous
state of things.

The government bulletin of to-day expresses the regret of the supreme
magistrate at seeing his hopes of restoring peace frustrated, and publishes
the assurances of fidelity which they have received from all the
departments, especially from Puebla, Queretaro, and Vera Cruz, in spite of
the extraordinary despatches which had there been received from Farias,
desiring them to recognize Urrea as Minister of war, and Don Manuel
Crecencio Rejon as Minister of the interior; "which communications," says
the commandant of Queretaro, "produced in my soul only indignation and
contempt towards their miserable authors."

The account of the yesterday's affair is as follows. "The _pronunciados_ in
the palace, knowing that the infantry which was to come from Puebla to the
assistance of the government, was expected to arrive yesterday, endeavoured
to surprise it near the gate of Saint Lazarus, with a column of infantry of
two hundred in number, and some cavalry; but the brave Colonel Torrejon,
with eighty dragoons, beat them completely, killing, wounding, and taking
many prisoners, and pursuing them as far as the archbishop's palace. The
supreme government, appreciating the distinguished services and brilliant
conduct of the aforesaid colonel, have given him the rank of general of

The president in to-day's proclamation, after declaring that "the beautiful
capital of the republic is the theatre of war," says "that nothing but
consideration for the lives and properties of the inhabitants has been able
to restrain the enthusiasm of the soldiers of the nation, and to prevent
them from putting forth their whole force to dislodge the rebels from the
different points of which they have possessed themselves." The president
adds, "that this revolt is the more inexcusable, as his administration has
always been gentle and moderate; that he has economized the public
treasure, respected the laws, and that citizens of whatever opinion had
always enjoyed perfect tranquillity under his rule--that constitutional
reforms were about being realized, as well as the hopes of forming by them
a bond of union between all Mexicans." He concludes by reproaching those
revolutionary men who thus cause the shedding of so much innocent blood.

The commander-in-chief, General Valencia, writing perhaps under some
inspiring influence, is more figurative in his discourse. "Soldiers of
Liberty!" he exclaims; "Anarchy put out its head, and your arms drowned it
in a moment." This would have been a finer figure in the days of the great
lakes. And again he exclaims--"Mexicans! my heart feels itself wounded by
the deepest grief, and all humanity shudders in contemplating the
unsoundable chaos of evils in which the authors of this rebellion have sunk
the incautious men whom they have seduced, in order to form with their dead
bodies the bloody ladder which was to raise them to their aggrandizement!
Already the Mexican people begin to gather the bitter fruits with which
these men who blazon forth their humanity and philanthropy have always
allured them, feeding themselves on the blood of their brothers, and
striking up songs to the sad measure of sobs and weeping!" These tropes are
very striking. All is brought before us as in a picture. We see anarchy
raising his rascally head above the water (most likely adorned with a
liberty cap), and the brave soldiers instantly driving it down again. We
behold Gomez Farias and Urrea rushing up a ladder of dead bodies. And then
the Lucrezia Borgia kind of scene that follows!--alluring their victims
with bitter fruit (perhaps with sour grapes), drinking blood, and singing
horridly out of tune to a running bass of sobs! The teeth of humanity are
set on edge only by reading it. Well may his Excellency add--"I present
them to the nations of the world as an inimitable model of ferocity and

This morning General ----- sent a few lines from the citadel, where he and
the president are, in which he speaks with confidence of speedily putting
down the rebels. C---n returned many affectionate messages, accompanied by
a supply of cigars. They say that the greatest possible bravery is shown by
the boys of the Military College, who are very fine little fellows, and all
up in arms on the side of the government. A strong instance of maternal
affection and courage was shown by the Senora G---- this morning. Having
received various reports concerning her son, who belongs to this college;
first that he was wounded; then that the wound was severe; then that it was
slight--and being naturally extremely uneasy about him, she set off alone,
and on foot, at five o'clock in the morning, without mentioning her
intention to any one, carrying with her a basket of provisions; passed
across the square, and through all the streets planted with cannon, made
her way through all the troops into the citadel; had the satisfaction of
finding her son in perfect health, and returned home, just as her husband
and family had become aware of her absence.

General Valencia is said to have a large party amongst the soldiers, who
are in favour of his being named president. It is said that he was seen
riding up and down in the lines in a most _spirited_ manner, and rather
unsteady in his saddle. Some rumours there are that Santa Anna has arrived
at Perote; but, as he travels in a litter, he cannot be here for some days,
even should this be true. There seems no particular reason to believe that
this will end soon, and we must remain shut up here as patiently as we can.
In the intervals of firing the gentlemen go out, but they will not hear of
our doing so, except sometimes for a few minutes in the evening, and then
either firing or thunder sends us back. Various people, and especially the
Countess C---a, have invited us to their country places; but, besides that
we are in the safest part of the city, and have several guests, C---n does
not think it right for him to leave Mexico. They say that house-rents will
rise hereabouts, on account of the advantages of the _locale_ in cases of
this sort.

Amongst other announcements, the government have published, that the rebels
have demanded that the jewels, together with the service of gold and silver
belonging to the Holy Cathedral Church, shall be given up to them, and
threaten to seize the whole by force, should their demand not be acceded to
within two hours. "It is very probable that they will do so," adds the
bulletin; thus adding a new crime to all they have committed.

It is now evening, and again they announce an attack upon the palace, but I
do not believe them, and listen to the cannon with tolerable tranquillity.
All day families continue to pass by, leaving Mexico. The poor shopkeepers
are to be pitied. Besides the total cessation of trade, one at least has
been shot, and others plundered. A truce of two hours was granted this
afternoon, to bury the dead, who were carried out of the palace. Two of our
colleagues ventured here this morning.

22nd.--The government bulletin of this morning contains a letter from Santa
Anna, dated Mango de Clavo, 19th of July, informing the president, with
every expression of loyalty and attachment to the government, that
according to his desire he will set off this morning in the direction of
Perote, "at the head of a respectable division." Various other assurances
of fidelity from Victoria, from Galindo, etc., are inserted, with the
remark that the Mexican public will thus see the uniformity and decision of
the whole republic in favour of order, and especially will receive in the
communication of his Excellency, General Santa Anna, an equivocal proof of
this unity of sentiment, notwithstanding the assurances given by the rebels
to the people, that Santa Anna would either assist them, or would take no
part at all in the affair. It must be confessed, however, that his
Excellency is rather a dangerous umpire.

The Governor Vieyra published a proclamation to-day, declaring "Mexico in a
state of siege." It seems to me that we knew that already! Upon the whole,
things are going on well for the government. Parties of _pronunciados_ have
been put down in various places. The wounded on both sides have been
carried to the hospital of San Andres. A battery is now planted against the
palace, in the Calle de Plateros, where they are at least near enough to do
more execution than before.

One circumstance worthy of notice has been published to-day. The rebels, as
you may recollect, declared that they had permitted the president to leave
the palace, on condition of his taking conciliatory measures, and that he
had agreed to favour their pretensions. Now here is Bustamante's own
letter, written in the palace, when surrounded by his enemies; a proof, if
any were wanting, of his exceeding personal bravery, and perfect coolness
in the midst of danger. There is something rather _Roman_ in these few

"Ministers,--I protest that I find myself without liberty and without
defence, the guards of the palace having abandoned me. Under these
circumstances, let no order of mine, which is contrary to the duties of the
post I occupy, be obeyed. Since, although I am resolved to die before
failing in my obligations, it will not be difficult to falsify my
signature. Let this be made known by you to the Congress, and to those
generals and chiefs who preserve sentiments of honour and fidelity.

"National Palace, July 15th, 1840.

"Anastasio Bustamante."

The following propositions are made to the government by the rebels:

"Article 1st. It not having been the intention of the citizen Jose Urrea,
and of the troops under his command, to attack in any way the person of
the president of the republic, General Anastasio Bustamante, he is replaced
in the exercise of his functions.

"2nd. Using his faculties as president of the republic, he will cause the
firing to cease on the part of the troops opposed to the citizen Urrea; who
on his side will do the same.

"3rd. The president shall organize a ministry deserving of public
confidence, and shall promise to re-establish the observance of the
constitution of 1824, convoking a congress immediately, for the express
purpose of reform.

"4th. Upon these foundations, peace and order shall be re-established, and
no one shall be molested for the opinions which he has manifested, or for
the principles he may have supported, all who are in prison for political
opinions being set at liberty."

Almonte, in the name of the president, rejected these conditions, but
offered to spare the lives of the pronunciados, in case they should
surrender within twenty-four hours. The chiefs of the opposite party
hereupon declared the door shut to all reconcilement, but requested a
suspension of hostilities, which was granted.

A---- is going to drive me out during this suspension, in an open cab, to
call on the C---a family. The -----s have left their house, their position
having become too dangerous. Another letter from General Almonte this
morning. Nothing decisive. The streets continue blocked up with cannon, the
roofs of the houses, and churches are covered with troops, the shops remain
closed, and the streets deserted. People are paying ounces for the least
morsel of room in the suburbs, on the San Cosme side of the city.

23rd.--Yesterday the archbishop invited the chiefs of the pronunciados to a
conference in his archiepiscopal palace, in order that he might endeavour,
in his apostolical character, to check the effusion of blood. The
conference took place, and the rebels requested a suspension of
hostilities, whilst the prelate should communicate its results to the
president, which was granted by the general-in-chief. But the
_pronunciados_ broke the truce, and endeavoured to surprise the president
and Almonte in the citadel, passing over the parapets in the _Calle de
Monterilla_. They were repulsed with slaughter, and a fierce cannonading
was kept up all night. They have now requested a parley, which is granted
them. ...

In the midst of all, there is a communication from the Governor of Morelia,
giving an account of the routing of a band of robbers who had attacked an

We went to Tacubaya, and met with no other danger but that of being
drenched wet; as a daily watering of the earth, short, but severe, now
takes place regularly. The new propositions of the _pronunciados_ are

1st. "The forces of both armies shall retire to occupy places out of the

2nd. "Both the belligerent parties shall agree that the constitutional laws
of 1836 shall remain without force.

3rd. "A convention shall be convoked, establishing the new constitution,
upon the basis fixed in the Constitutive Act, which will begin to be in
force directly.

4th. "The elections of the members of the convention, will be verified
according to the laws by which the deputies of the Constituent Congress
were directed.

5th. "His actual Excellency, the President, will form a provisional
government, he being the chief, until the foregoing articles begin to take

6th. "No one shall be molested for political opinions manifested since the
year '21 until now: consequently the persons, employments and properties of
all who have taken part in this or in the past revolutions shall be

7th. "That the first article may take effect, the government will
facilitate all that is necessary to both parties."

The government have refused these second propositions; and at the same time
made known to the Mexican world that various deserters from the opposite
party assure them, that the _pronunciados_, including the principal chiefs,
are occupied in destroying everything within the palace--that the general
archives and those of the Ministers are torn in pieces, and that the
despatches are taken to make cartouches, and so on. They end by accusing
them of being all united with the most noted robbers and public highwaymen,
such as a _Ricardo Tea_, a _Jose Polvorilla_, a _Roman Chavez_, a _Juan
Vega_, a _Rosas_, a _Garcilazo_, and others. I put down the names of these
Mexican Dick Turpins and Paul Cliffords, in case we should meet them some
_beau jour_.

More forces have arrived from Puebla and Toluca. Santa Anna is expected to
reach Puebla to-night, and again General Valencia holds out an invitation
to repentance to the "deceived men in the palace."

25th.--A letter is published to-day from Santa Anna to General Victoria,
assuring him that whatever personal considerations might have detained him
in his country-seat, he accepts with pleasure the command of the division
going to Perote, and will in this, as in all things, obey the orders of the
supreme government. Firing, with short intervals, continued all yesterday,
during the night, and this morning. Two mortars are placed in front of the
old _Acordada_, in the direction of the palace, but as yet they have not
been used. There are a crowd of people examining them.

Things remain nearly in the same position as before, except that there are
more deserters from the revolted party. A proclamation was issued by Urrea,
accusing the government of all the evils that afflict the city, and of all
the bloodshed caused by this civil war. Amongst other things, they complain
of the death of Dr. Plan, who was shot in the Calle de Seminario, and,
according to them, by the government troops. General Valencia answers this
time without figures, and with good reason, that the responsibility of
these misfortunes must be with those who have provoked the war.

In the bulletin of to-day, the government praise their own moderation in
having taken off the duties from all provisions entering the capital, in
order that the price might not become too high, an advantage in which the
_pronunciados_ themselves participate--mention their exertions to supply
the city with water, and their permission given to the _pronunciados_ to
send their wounded to the hospital of San Andres. They deny that the
government has any share in the evils that afflict the whole population,
their endeavour having ever been to preserve tranquillity and order; "but
when a handful of factious men have taken possession of part of the city,
no choice is left them but to besiege and combat them until they surrender,
and not to abandon the peaceful citizens to pillage and vengeance." They
declare that they might already have subdued them, and are only held back
by the fear of involving in their ruin the number of innocent persons who
occupy the circumjacent houses. The policy of this moderation seems
doubtful, but the sincerity of the president is unimpeachable. They
continue to observe upon the absurdity of this handful of men pretending to
impose laws upon the whole republic, when already the body of the nation
have given unequivocal proofs that they have no desire that the questions
relative to their political institutions should be decided by the force of

While the _pronunciados_ declare on their side that "information of
_pronunciamentos_ everywhere" has been received by them; the government
remarks that eleven days have now elapsed, which has given full time for
all the departments to declare themselves in favour of those who call
themselves their representatives; but on the contrary, nothing has been
received but assurances of fidelity, and of support to the government
cause. I believe that the English packet will be detained till the
conclusion of this affair, but should it not be so, you need not feel any
uneasiness in regard to us. Our house is full of people, money, jewels, and
plate--our stables of horses and mules. Amongst the diamonds are those of
the Senora L----, which are very fine, and there are gold rouleaus enough
to set up a bank at San Agustin. Santa Anna seems in no hurry to arrive.
People expect him to-morrow, but perhaps he thinks the hour has not come
for him.

26th.--The proclamation of the governor of the department of Jalisco is
published to-day, in which he observes: "The nation cannot forget that this
Urrea, who has brought so many evils upon his country, this faithful friend
of _Mr. Carlos Baudin_, and of the French squadron which invaded our
territory, for whom he procured all the fresh provisions which they
required, is the same man who now escapes from prison, to figure at the
head of a tumultuous crowd, whose first steps were marked by the capture of
his Excellency the President." Firing continues, but without any decided
result. It is a sound that one does not learn to hear with indifference.
There seems little doubt that ultimately the government will gain the day,
but the country will no doubt remain for some time in a melancholy state of
disorder. Bills are fastened to-day on the corners of the streets,
forbidding all ingress or egress through the military lines, from six in
the evening till eight in the morning. Gentlemen who live near us now
venture in towards evening, to talk politics or play at whist; but
generally, in the middle of a game, some report is brought in, which drives
them back to their houses and families with all possible haste. Senor
-----, a young Spaniard who is living with us, returning here late last
night, was challenged by the sentinels at the corner of the street, with
the usual "_Quien viva?_" to which, being in a brown study, he mechanically
replied, "_Spain!_" Fortunately, the officer on duty was a man of common
sense and humanity, and instead of firing, warned him to take better care
for the future.

Last night the archbishop paid a visit to the president, in the convent of
San Agustin, to intercede in favour of the _pronunciados_. The mortars have
not yet played against the palace, owing, it is said, to the desire of the
general-in-chief to avoid the further effusion of blood.

The tranquillity of the sovereign people during all this period, is
astonishing. In what other city in the world would they not have taken part
with one or other side? Shops shut, workmen out of employment, thousands of
idle people, subsisting, Heaven only knows how, yet no riot, no confusion,
apparently no impatience. Groups of people collect on the streets, or stand
talking before their doors, and speculate upon probabilities, but await the
decision of their military chiefs, as if it were a judgment from Heaven,
from which it were both useless and impious to appeal.

27th.--"Long live the Mexican Republic! Long live the Supreme Government!"
Thus begins the government bulletin of to-day, to which I say Amen! with
all my heart, since it ushers in the news of the termination of the
revolution. And what particularly attracts my attention is, that instead of
the usual stamp, the eagle, serpent, and nopal, we have to-day, a shaggy
pony, flying as never did mortal horse before, his tail and mane in a most
violent state of excitement, his four short legs all in the air at once,
and on his back a man in a jockey-cap, furiously blowing a trumpet, from
which issues a white flag, on which is printed "News!" _in English!_ and
apparently in the act of springing over a milestone, on which is inscribed,
also in English--"_100 to New York!_"

"We have," says the government, "the grateful satisfaction of announcing,
that the revolution of this capital has terminated happily. The rebellious
troops having offered, in the night, to lay down arms upon certain
conditions, his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, has accepted their
proposals with convenient modifications, which will be verified to-day; the
empire of laws, order, tranquillity, and all other social guarantees being
thus re-established," etc. Cuevas, Minister of the Interior, publishes a
circular addressed to the governors of the departments to the same effect,
adding, that "in consideration of the inhabitants and properties which
required the prompt termination of this disastrous revolution, the
guarantees of personal safety solicited by the rebels have been granted,
but none of their pretensions have been acceded to; the conspiracy of the
fifteenth having thus had no other effect but to make manifest the general
wish and opinion in favour of the government, laws, and legitimate
authorities." A similar circular is published by General Almonte.

Having arrived at this satisfactory conclusion, which must be as agreeable
to you as it is to us, I shall close this long letter, merely observing, in
apology, that as Madame de Stael said, in answer to the remark, that "Women
have nothing to do with politics;"--"That may be, but when a woman's head
is about to be cut off, it is natural she should ask--_why_?" so it appears
to me, that when bullets are whizzing about our ears, and shells falling
within a few yards of us, it ought to be considered extremely natural, and
quite feminine, to inquire into the cause of such _phenomena_.


Plan of the Federalists--Letter from Farias--Signing of
Articles--Dispersion of the "Pronunciados"--Conditions--Orders of General
Valencia--Of the Governor--Address of General Valencia--Departure of our
Guests--The _Cosmopolite_--State of the Palace and Streets--Bulletin of the
Firing--Interior of Houses--Escape of Families--Conduct of the
Troops--Countess del V---e--Santa Anna--Congress--Anecdote--Discussion in

28th July.

To-day is published the plan which was formed by the federalists for the
"political regeneration of the republic." They observe, that it is six
years since the federal plan, adopted freely by the nation in 1824, was
replaced by a system which monopolizes all advantages in favour of a few;
that evils had now arrived at that height, in which the endeavours of a few
men, however illustrious, could have no effect in remedying them; rendering
it necessary for all Mexicans to unite in one combined and energetic force
to better their situation; that salvation can only be hoped for from the
nation itself, etc. They then proceed to lay their plan, consisting of ten
articles, before the public.

The first restores the constitution of '24, the national interests to be
reformed by a congress, composed of four deputies from each state. By the
second, the reformed constitution is to be submitted to the legislatures of
the states for approbation. By the third, they engage to respect the
Catholic religion, the form of popular government, representative and
federal, the division of powers, political liberty of the press, the
organization of a military and naval force, and the equality of rights
between all the inhabitants of the nation. By the fourth article, a
provisional government is to be established in the capital, whose functions
are to be limited exclusively to the direction of the external relations of
the republic. By the fifth, this provisional government is to be vested in
a Mexican, reuniting the requisites for this employment, as established in
the constitution of '24. By the sixth, the republic promises to give back
the ten per cent, added to the duties of consumption, to those who have
paid it until now. By the seventh, in eight months after the triumph of the
present revolution, all interior custom-houses are to be suppressed, and
henceforth no contributions shall be imposed upon the internal circulation
of goods, whether foreign or domestic. By the eighth, they promise to
confirm all the civil and military employments of those who do not oppose
this political regeneration. By the ninth, the army is to be paid with
great punctuality. By the tenth, a general amnesty is promised to all who
have committed political errors since the Independence; and the names of
Farias and Urrea are followed by a goodly list of major-generals, colonels,

There is also published a letter from Farias, indignantly denying the
report of the federal party's having threatened to seize the cathedral
jewels and plate; accompanied by one from the archbishop himself, not only
denying the circumstances, but expressing his satisfaction with the conduct
of the federalist party in regard to all the convents which they had
occupied, and the respect which they had shown towards all thing's
pertaining to the church.

On the night of the twenty-sixth, the articles of capitulation were signed
on both sides; a letter from General Andrade having been received by
General Valencia, to the effect that as General Urrea had abandoned the
command of the troops and left it in his hands, he, in the name of the
other chiefs and officers, was ready to ratify the conditions stipulated
for by them on the preceding night. This was at three in the morning; and
about eight o'clock, the capitulation was announced to the _pronunciados_
in the different positions occupied by them; and they began to disperse in
different directions, in groups of about a hundred, crying, "Vive la
Federacion!" At a quarter before two o'clock, General Manuel Andrade
marched out, with all the honours of war, to Tlanapantla, followed by the
_pronunciados_ of the palace.

This morning, at eleven, _Te Deum_, was sung in the cathedral, there being
present, the archbishop, the president, and all the authorities. The bells,
which have preserved an ominous silence during these events, are now
ringing forth in a confusion of tongues. The palace being crippled with
balls, and in a state of utter confusion, the president and his Ministers
occupy cells in the convent of San Agustin.

The Federalists have marched out upon the following conditions: 1st, Their
lives, persons, and employments, and properties are to be inviolably
preserved. 2nd, General Valencia engages to interpose his influence with
the government by all legal means, that they may request the chambers to
proceed to reform the constitution. 3rd, All political events, which have
occurred since the fifteenth, up to this date, are to be totally forgotten,
the forces who adhered to the plan of the fifteenth being included in this
agreement. 4th, A passport out of the republic is to be given to whatever
individual, comprehended in this agreement, may solicit it. 5th, The troops
of the _pronunciados_ are to proceed to wherever General Valencia orders
them, commanded by one of their own captains, whom he shall point out, and
who must answer for any disorders they may commit. 6th, General Valencia
and all the other generals of his army, must promise on their honour,
before the whole world, to keep this treaty, and see to its exact
accomplishment. 7th, It only applies to Mexicans. 8th, Whenever it is
ratified by the chiefs of both parties, it is to be punctually fulfilled,
hostilities being suspended until six in the morning of the twenty-seventh,
which gives time to ratify the conditions.

The president may exclaim, "One such victory more, and I am undone!" Orders
are issued by General Valencia to the effect, that until the Federalist
troops have marched out of the city, no group passing five in number will
be permitted in the streets; that until then, there is to be no trading
through the streets; that at three o'clock the eating-houses may be thrown
open, but not the taverns till the next day; and that the police and
alcaldes of the different wards are held responsible for the accomplishment
of these orders, and may make use of armed force to preserve order.

The governor enforces these orders with additions. People must turn in at
nine o'clock, or give an account of themselves--must give up all their
guns, carbines, etc., to the alcalde, under a heavy penalty; and none,
excepting military men, may go on horseback from five in the evening until
six in the morning, during five days.

General Valencia makes a pathetic address to his soldiers, and foretells
that henceforth all mothers, wives, and old men, will point them out as
they pass, saying, "There go our deliverers!" and adds--"I grow proud in
speaking to you." "Inhabitants of this beautiful capital!" he says again,
"the aurora of the 15th of July was very different from that of the 27th;
_that_ prognosticated destruction, _this_ rises announcing happiness.
_Never again will you hear the crash of cannon but to celebrate the
triumphs of your country, or to solemnize your civic functions."_ May your
words be prophetic, and especially may you yourself assist in their

29th.--Our guests have left us, all but Monsieur -----, who, although
recovered, cannot yet be moved. All money, plate, and jewels in our charge,
are restored to their rightful owners; and the Spanish colours, which have
never been hoisted, return to their former obscurity. I reopen the piano,
uncover and tune the harp, and as we have been most entirely shut up during
thirteen days of heavenly weather, feel rejoiced at the prospect of getting
out again. As yet, I have not seen the state of things in the city, but the
"Cosmopolite" of to-day says--"I should wish to have the pen of Jeremiah,
to describe the desolation and calamities of this city, which has been the
mistress of the new world. In the days of mourning that have passed, we
have not been able to fix our eyes on any part of it where we have not
encountered desolation, weeping, and death. The palace has become a
_sieve_, and the southern bulwark is destroyed; that part of the _portal_
which looks towards the _Monterilla_ is ruined; the finest buildings in the
centre have suffered a great deal; innumerable houses at great distances
from it have been also much injured by stray balls. Persons of all ages,
classes, and conditions, who interfered in nothing, have been killed, not
only in the streets, but even in their own apartments. The balls crossed
each other in every direction, and the risk has been universal. The city
has been in the dark during these days, without patrol or watch; and many
malefactors have taken advantage of this opportunity to use the murderous
poniard without risk, and with the utmost perfidy. At the break of day
horrible spectacles were seen, of groups of dogs disputing the remains of a
man, a woman, and a child." The "Cosmopolite" goes on to insist upon the
necessity of forming a new ministry and of a reform in the two houses.

August 1st.--Have just come in from a drive through the city. The palace
and houses near it are certainly in a melancholy condition. The palace,
with its innumerable smashed windows and battered walls, looks as if it had
become stone blind in consequence of having the smallpox. Broken windows
and walls full of holes characterize all the streets in that direction, yet
there is less real damage done than might have been expected, after such a
furious firing and cannonading.

To read the accounts published, and of the truth of which we had auricular
demonstration, one would have expected to find half the city in ruins. Here
is the sum total of the firing, as published:--"On the 15th, firing from
two o'clock till the next day. On the 16th, continual firing till one
o'clock. Suspension till four o'clock. Firing from that hour, without
intermission, till the following day. 17th, firing from morning till night.
18th, firing from before daybreak till the evening. 19th, continual firing.
Constant emigration of families these last four days. 20th, continual
firing all day. Skirmish at the gate of San Lazaro. 21st, firing continued,
though less hotly, but in the night with more vigour than ever. 22nd, day
of the Junta in the archbishop's palace. Firing began at eleven at night,
and lasted till morning. 23rd, firing till midday. Parley. 24th, formidable
firing, terrible attack, and firing till morning. 25th, firing till the
evening. 26th, firing from six in the morning till two o'clock.
Capitulation that night."

As "every bullet has its billet," they must all have lodged somewhere. Of
course, nothing else is talked of as yet, and every one has his own
personal experiences to recount. Some houses have become nearly
uninhabitable--glass, pictures, clocks, plaster, all lying in morsels about
the floor, and air-holes in the roofs and walls, through which these winged
messengers of destruction have passed. Ladies and children escaped, in many
instances, by the azoteas, going along the street from one roof to another,
not being able to pass where the cannon was planted. The Senora -----, with
her six beautiful boys, escaped in that way to her brother's house, in the
evening, and in the very thick of the firing. I was in her drawing-room
to-day, which has a most forlorn appearance; the floor covered with heaps
of plaster, broken pictures, bullets, broken glass, etc., the windows out,
and holes in the wall that look as if they were made for the pipe of a
stove to fit into.

The soldiers of both parties, who have occupied the roofs of the houses,
behaved with great civility; their officers, on many occasions, sending to
the family with a request that they would complain of any insolence that
might be shown by their men. But no civility could ensure the safety of the
dwellers in these houses.

The poor nuns have been terribly frightened, and have passed these stormy
nights in prayers and hymns, which those who live near their convents say
were frequently heard at midnight, in the intervals of firing.

I went to see the Countess de V---e, and she showed me the great hole in
the wall by her bedside, through which the shell made its _entree_. The
fragments are still lying there, so heavy that I could not lift them. All
the windows at the head of that street are broken in pieces. The shops are
reopened, however, and people are going about their usual avocations,
pretty much as if nothing had happened; and probably the whole result of
all this confusion and destruction will be--a change of ministry.

Santa Anna, finding that he was not wanted, has modestly retired to Manga
de Clavo, and has addressed the following letter to the Minister of War:

"The triumph which the national arms have just obtained over the horrible
attempts at anarchy, communicated to me by your Excellency, in your note of
the 27th, is very worthy of being celebrated by every citizen who desires
the welfare of his country, always supposing that public vengeance (_la
vindicta publica_) has been satisfied; and in this case, I offer you a
thousand congratulations. This division, although filled with regret at not
having participated on this occasion in the risks of our companions in
arms, are rejoiced at so fortunate an event, and hope that energy and a
wholesome severity will now strengthen order for ever, and will begin an
era of felicity for the country. The happy event has been celebrated here,
in the fortress, and in Tepeyahualco, where the first brigade had already
arrived (and whom I have ordered to countermarch), with every demonstration
of joy. I anxiously desire to receive the details which your Excellency
offers to communicate to me, so that if the danger has entirely ceased, I
may return to my _hacienda_, and may lay down the command of those troops
which your Excellency orders me to preserve here.

"With sentiments of the most lively joy for the cessation of the
misfortunes of the capital, I reiterate to your Excellency those of my
particular esteem.

"God and Liberty.


"Perote, July 29, 1840."

The houses of Congress are again opened. The Ministers presented themselves
in the Chamber of Deputies, and a short account of the late revolution was
given by General Almonte, who, by the way, was never taken prisoner, as was
at first reported. He had gone out to ride early in the morning, when
General Urrea, with some soldiers, rode up to him and demanded his sword;
telling him that the president was arrested. For all answer, Almonte drew
his sword, and fighting his way through them, galloped to the citadel.
Urrea, riding back, passed by Almonte's house, and politely taking off his
hat, saluted the ladies of the family, hoped they were well, and remarked
on the fineness of the weather. They were not a little astonished when, a
short time after, they heard what had happened.

Madame de C---- and her daughter were out riding when the firing began on
the morning of the revolution, and galloped home in consternation.

7th.--A long discussion to-day in Congress on the propriety of granting
extraordinary powers to the president; also a publication of the despatches
written by Gomez Farias during the revolution. He speaks with the utmost
confidence of the success of his enterprise. In his first letter, he
observes, that General Urrea, with the greater part of the garrison and
people of the capital, have pronounced for the re-establishment of the
federal system, and have, by the most fortunate combination of
circumstances, got possession of the palace, and arrested the president.
That troops have been passing over to them all day, and that the triumph of
the federalists is so sure, he has little doubt that the following morning
will see tranquillity and federalism re-established. The different accounts
of the two parties are rather amusing. It is said that Gomez Farias is
concealed in Mexico....

8th.--Paid a visit to-day, where the lady of the house is a leper; though
it is supposed that all who are afflicted with this scourge are sent to the
hospital of San Lazaro....

We rode before breakfast this morning to the old church of _La Piedad_,
and, on our return, found a packet containing letters from London, Paris,
New York, and Madrid. The arrival of the English packet, which brings all
these _nouveautes_, is about the most interesting event that occurs here.


Visitors--Virgen de los Remedios--_Encarnacion_--Fears of the Nuns--Santa
Teresa--Rainy Season--Amusing Scene--"_Esta a la Disposocicion de V._" --
Mexican Sincerity--Texian Vessels--Fine Hair--Schoolmistress--Climate--Its
Effects--Nerves--_Tours de Force_--Anniversary--Speech--Paseo--San Angelo-
-Tacubaya--Army of "The Three Guarantees"--Plan of Yguala--A Murder--
Indian Politeness--Drunkeness--Senor Canedo--Revolutions in Mexico--The
Penon--The Baths--General----Situation and View--Indian Family--Of the
Boiling Springs--Capabilities--Solitude--Chapultepec--The _Desagravios_--
Penitence at San Francisco--Discipline of the Men--Discourse of the Monk--
Darkness and Horrors--Salmagundi.

August 30th

In the political world nothing very interesting has occurred and as yet
there is no change of ministry. Yesterday morning C---n set off in a
coach-and-six for the valley of Toluca, about eighteen leagues from Mexico,
with a rich Spaniard, Senor M---r y T---n, who has a large hacienda there.

Last Sunday morning, being the first Sunday since the revolution, we had
forty visitors--ladies and gentlemen, English, French, Spanish, and
Mexican. Such varieties of dresses and languages I have seldom seen united
in one room; and so many anecdotes connected with the _pronunciamento_ as
were related, some grave, some ludicrous, that would form a volume! The
Baron de ----- having just left this for your part of the world, you will
learn by him the last intelligence of it and of us.

As there is a want of rain, the Virgen de los Remedios was brought into
Mexico, but as there is still a slight ripple on the face of the
lately-troubled waters, she was carried in privately--for all reunions of
people are dreaded at this juncture, I had just prepared pieces of velvet
and silk to hang on the balconies, when I found that the procession had
gone by a back street after sunset.

I went lately to visit the nuns of the _Encarnacion_, to inquire how they
stood their alarms, for their convent had been filled with soldiers, and
they had been in the very heart of the firing. I was welcomed by a figure
covered from head to foot with a double black crape veil, who expressed
great joy at _seeing_ me again, and told me she was one of the madres who
received us before. She spoke with horror of the late revolution, and of
the state of fear and trembling in which they had passed their time;
soldiers within their very walls, and their prayers interrupted by volleys
of cannon. Thanks to the intercession of the Virgin, no accident had
occurred; but she added, that had the Virgin of los Remedios been brought
in sooner, these disorders might never have taken place.

I went from thence to the convent of Santa Teresa, where I saw no one, but
discoursed with a number of _voices_, from the shrill treble of the old
_Madre Priora_, to the full cheerful tones of my friend the Madre A----.
There is something rather awful in sending one's voice in this way into an
unknown region, and then listening for a response from the unseen dwellers
there. I have not yet been inside this convent, but now that affairs are
settled for the present, I trust that the archbishop will kindly grant his
permission to that effect.

The rainy season is now at its height; that is, it rains severely every
evening, but in the morning it is lovely. The disagreeable part of it is,
that the roads are so bad, it is difficult to continue our rides in the
environs. Horse and rider, after one of these expeditions, appear to have
been taking a mud-bath. It is very amusing to stand at the window about
four o'clock, and see every one suddenly caught in the most tremendous
shower. In five minutes the streets become rivers; and canoes would be
rather more useful than carriages. Strong porters (_cargadores_) are in
readiness to carry well-dressed gentlemen or women who are caught in the
deluge, across the streets. Coachmen and footmen have their great-coats
prepared to draw on; and all horsemen have their sarapes strapped behind
their saddles, in which, with their shining leather hats, they can brave
the storm. Trusting to an occasional cessation of rain, which sometimes
takes place, people continue to go out in the evening, but it is downright
cruelty to coachmen and animals, unless the visit is to a house with a
_porte-cochere_, which many of the houses have--this amongst others.

September 1st.--Had a dispute this morning with an Englishman, who
complains bitterly of Mexican insincerity. I believe the chief cause of
this complaint amongst foreigners consists in their attaching the slightest
value to the common phrase, "_Esta a la disposicion de V._" Everything is
placed at your disposal--house, carriage, servants, horses, mules,
etc.--the lady's earrings, the gentleman's diamond pin, the child's frock.
You admire a ring--it is perfectly at your service; a horse--ditto. Letters
are dated "from your house;" (_de la casa de V._) Some from ignorance of
the custom, and others from knavery, take advantage of these offers, which
are mere expressions of civility, much to the confusion and astonishment of
the polite _offerer_, who has no more intention of being credited, than you
have when, from common etiquette, you sign yourself the very humble servant
of the very greatest bore. It is a mere habit, and to call people who
indulge in it insincere, reminds me of the Italian mentioned somewhere by
Lady Blessington, who thought he had made a conquest of a fair
Englishwoman, though somewhat shocked by her forwardness, because, in an
indifferent note to him, she signed herself "_Truly yours_." Shall I ever
forget the crestfallen countenance of a Mexican gentleman who had just
purchased a very handsome set of London harness, when hearing it admired by
a Frenchman, he gave the customary answer, "It is quite at your disposal,"
and was answered by a profusion of bows, and a ready acceptance of the
offer! the only difficulty with the Frenchman being as to whether or not he
could carry it home under his cloak, which he did.

If all these offers of service, in which it is Mexican etiquette to
indulge, be believed in--"Remember that I am here but to serve you"--"My
house and everything in it is quite at your disposal"--"Command me in all
things;" we shall of course be disappointed by finding that,
notwithstanding these reiterated assurances, we must hire a house for
ourselves, and even servants to wait on us; but take these expressions at
what they are worth, and I believe we shall find that people here are about
as sincere as their neighbours.

8th.--A good deal of surmise, because four Texian vessels are cruising in
the bay off Vera Cruz. There is also a good deal of political talk, but I
have no longer Madame de Stael's excuse for interfering in politics, which,
by the way, is a subject on which almost all Mexican women are well
informed; possessing practical knowledge, the best of all, like a lesson in
geography given by travelling. I fear we live in a Paradise Lost, which
will not be regained in our day....

My attention is attracted, while I write, by the apparition of a beautiful
girl in the opposite balcony, with hair of a golden brown hanging in masses
down to her feet. This is an uncommon colour here; but the hair of the
women is generally very long and fine. It rarely or never curls. We were
amused the other day in passing by a school of little boys and girls, kept
in a room on the first- floor of Senor -----'s house, to see the
schoolmistress, certainly not in a very elegant _dishabille_, marching up
and down with a spelling-book in her hand, her long hair hanging down, and
trailing on the floor a good half-yard behind her; while every time she
turned, she switched it round like a court-train....

You ask me about this climate, for -----. For one who, like her, is in
perfect health, I should think it excellent; and even an invalid has only
to travel a few hours, and he arrives at _tierra caliente_. This climate is
that of the tropics, raised some thousand feet above the level of the sea;
consequently there is an extreme purity and thinness of the atmosphere,
which generally affects the breathing at first. In some it causes an
oppression on the chest. On me, it had little effect, if any; and at all
events, the feeling goes off, after the first month or so. There is a
general tendency to nervous irritation, and to inflammatory complaints, and
during September and October, on account of the heavy rains and the drained
lakes on which part of the city is built, there is said to be a good deal
of ague. Since the time of the cholera in 1833, which committed terrible
ravages here, there has been no other epidemic. The smallpox indeed has
been very common lately, but it is owing to the carelessness of the common
people, or rather to their prejudice against having their children

The nervous complaints of the ladies are an unfailing source of profit to
the sons of Galen, for they seem to be incurable. Having no personal
experience in these evils, I speak only from what I see in others. It
appears to me that the only fault of the climate consists in its being
monotonously perfect, which is a great drawback to easy and polite
conversation. The evening deluge is but a periodical watering of the earth,
from which it rises like Venus from the sea, more lovely and refreshed than

C---n has returned from Toluca, after an absence of eight days. Every one
is hurrying to the theatre just now, in spite of the rain, to see some
Spaniards, who are performing _tours de force_ there.

16th.--Celebration of the Day of Independence, Anniversary of the
"_Glorioso Grito de Dolores_," of September the 16th, 1810; of the
revolution begun thirty years ago, by the curate of the village of Dolores
in the province of Gunanajuato. "It is very easy," says Zavala, it is about
the most sensible remark, "to put a country into combustion, when it
possesses the elements of discord; but the difficulties of its re-
organization are infinite."

A speech was made by General Tornel in the Alameda. All the troops were
out--plenty of officers, monks, priests, and ladies, in full dress. We did
not go to hear the speech, but went to the E----'s house to see the
procession, which was very magnificent. The line of carriages was so deep,
that I thought we should never arrive. After all was over, we walked in the
Alameda, where temporary booths were erected, and the trees were hung with
garlands and flowers. The paseo in the evening was extremely gay; but I
cannot say that there appeared to be much enthusiasm or public spirit. They
say that the great difficulty experienced by the _Junta_, named on these
occasions for the preparation of these festivities, is to collect
sufficient funds.

19th.--We went yesterday to San Angelo, one of the prettiest villages in
the environs of Mexico, and spent the day at the hacienda of Senor T---e,
which is in the neighbourhood. The rain has rendered the roads almost
impassible, and the country round Mexico must be more like Cortes's
description of it at this season, than at any other period. One part of the
road near the hacienda, which is entirely destroyed, the owner of the house
wished to repair; but the Indians, who claim that part of the land, will
not permit the innovation, though he offered to throw a bridge over a small
stream which passes there, at his own expense.

24th.--We passed a pleasant day at Tacubaya, and dined with Monsieur S----,
who gave a fete in consequence of its being his wife's saint's day.

27th.--Great fete; being the anniversary of the day on which the army
called the _trigarante_ (the three guarantees) entered Mexico with Yturbide
at their head. The famous plan of Iguala, (so called from having been first
published in that city,) was also called the plan of the three guarantees;
freedom, union, and religion, which were offered as a security to the
Spaniards, against whom so many cruelties had been exercised. We have had
ringing of bells and firing all the morning, and in the evening there is to
be a bull-fight, followed by the exhibition of the _tours de force_ of
these Spaniards, commonly called here "_los Hercules_," who have just come
to offer us a box in the Plaza.

This plan of the Iguala was certainly the only means by which Spain could
have continued to preserve these vast and distant possessions. The treaty
of Cordova, which confirmed it, was signed in that city between the Spanish
General O'Donoju and Don Agustin Yturbide, in August 1821, and consisted of
seventeen articles.

By the first, Mexico was to be acknowledged as a free and independent
nation, under the title of the Mexican empire.

By the second, its government was to be a constitutional monarchy.

By the third, Ferdinand VII, Catholic King of Spain, was called to the
throne of Mexico; and should he renounce or refuse the throne, it was
offered to his brother the Infant Don Carlos, and under the same
circumstances, to each brother in succession.

By the fourth, the emperor was to fix his court in Mexico, which was to be
considered the capital of the empire.

By the fifth, two commissioners named by O'Donoju were to pass over to the
Spanish court, to place the copy of the treaty and of the accompanying
exposition in his majesty's hands, to serve him as an antecedent, until the
Cortes should offer him the crown with all formality; requesting him to
inform the Infantes of the order in which they were named; interposing his
influence in order that the Emperor of Mexico should be one of his august
house, for the interest of both nations, and that the Mexicans might add
this link to the chain of friendship which united them with the Spaniards.

By the sixth, a _Junta_ of the first men in Mexico; first by their virtues,
position, fortune, etc., was to be named, sufficient in number to ensure
success in their resolutions by the union of so much talent and

By the seventh, this Junta takes the name of the Administrative Provincial

By the eighth, O'Donoju was named member of this Junta.

By the ninth, this Junta was to name a president.

By the tenth, it was to inform the public of its installation, and of the
motives which had caused it to meet.

By the eleventh, this assembly was to name a regency, composed of three
persons, to compose the executive power, and to govern in the name of the
monarch, until his arrival.

By the twelfth, the Junta was then to govern conformably to the laws, in
everything which did not oppose the plan of Iguala, and till the Cortes had
formed the constitution of the state.

By the thirteenth, the regency, as soon as they were named, were to proceed
to the convocation of the Cortes, according to the method decreed by the
provisional Junta.

By the fourteenth, the executive power was to reside in the regency--the
legislative in the Cortes--but until the reunion of the Cortes, the
legislative power was to be exercised by the Junta.

By the fifteenth, all persons belonging to the community, the system of
government being changed, or the country passing into the power of another
prince, were perfectly at liberty to transport themselves and their
fortunes wherever they chose, etc., etc.

By the sixteenth, this does not hold good in regard to the military or
public _employes_ disaffected to the Mexican independence; they will leave
the empire within the term prescribed by the regency, etc., etc.

By the seventeenth and last, as the occupation of the capital by the
peninsula troops is an obstacle to the realization of the treaty, this
difficulty must be vanquished; but as the chief of the imperial army
desires to bring this about, not by force, but by gentler means, General
O'Donoju offers to employ his authority with the troops, that they may
leave the capital without any effusion of blood, and by an honourable
treaty. This treaty was signed by Yturbide and O'Donoju.

Had this plan of Iguala taken effect, what would have been the result in
Mexico?--what its present condition?...

This being Sunday, and a fete-day, a man was murdered close by our door, in
a quarrel brought about probably through the influence of pulque, or rather
of _chinguirite_. If they did not so often end in deadly quarrel, there
would be nothing so amusing as to watch the Indians gradually becoming a
little intoxicated. They are at first so polite--handing the pulque-jar to
their fair companions (fair being taken in the general or _Pickwickian_
sense of the word); always taking off their hats to each other, and if they
meet a woman, kissing her hand with an humble bow as if she were a
duchess;--but these same women are sure to be the cause of a quarrel,
and then out come these horrible knives--and then, _Adios!_

It is impossible to conceive anything more humble and polite than the
common country-people. Men and women stop and wish you a good day,
the men holding their hats in their hands, and all showing their white
teeth, and faces lighted up by careless good-nature. I regret to state,
however, that to-day there are a great many women quite as tipsy as the
men, returning home after the fete, and increasing the distance to their
village, by taking a zigzag direction through the streets....

Senor Canedo, Secretary of State, has formally announced his intention of
resigning. Certainly the situation of premier in Mexico, at this moment, is
far from enviable, and the more distinguished and clear-headed the
individual, the more plainly he perceives the impossibility of remedying
the thickly-gathering evils which crowd the political horizon.
"Revolution," says Senor de -----, "has followed revolution since the
Independence; no stable government has yet been established. Had it
been so, Mexico would have offered to our eyes a phenomenon unknown
until now in the world--that of a people, without previous preparation,
passing at once to govern themselves by democratical institutions."

28th.--We drove out to the _Penon_, a natural boiling fountain, where there
are baths, which are considered a universal remedy, a pool of Bethesda, but
an especial one for rheumatic complaints. The baths are a square of low
stone buildings, with a church--each building containing five or six empty
rooms, in one of which is a square bath. The idea seems to have been to
form a sort of dwelling-house for different families, as each bath has a
small kitchen attached to it. Like most _great ideas_ of Spanish days, it
is now in a state of perfect desolation, though people still flock there
for various complaints. When one goes there to bathe, it is necessary to
carry a mattress, to lie down on when you leave the bath, linen, a bottle
of cold water, of which there is not a drop in the place, and which is
particularly necessary for an invalid in case of faintness--in short
everything that you may require. A poor family live there to take charge of
the baths, and there is a small tavern where they sell spirits and pulque;
and occasionally a padre comes on Sunday to say mass in the old church.

We were amused by meeting there with General ----- and his family, who had
brought with them a whole coachload of provisions, besides mattresses,
sheets, etc. The road to the Penon crosses the most dreary plain
imaginable. Behind the baths are two volcanic hills; and the view of Mexico
and of the great volcanoes from this is magnificent. It is the most
solitary of buildings; not a tree to be seen in its environs; these
volcanic rocks behind--Mexico fronting it--the great lakes near it--to the
right Guadalupe--to the left San Angel, San Agustin, and the mountains
which bound the valley. The Indian family who live there are handsome
savages; and the girl who attended me at the bath spoke an extraordinary
jargon, half Spanish, half Indian, but was a fine specimen of savage good
looks. The water is extremely warm, and my curiosity to try its temperature
was very soon satisfied.

These boiling springs are said to contain sulphate of lime, carbonic acid,
and muriate of soda, and the Indians make salt in their neighbourhood,
precisely as they did in the time of Montezuma, with the difference, as
Humboldt informs us, that then they used vessels of clay, and now they use
copper caldrons. The solitary-looking baths are ornamented with odd-looking
heads of cats or monkeys, which grin down upon you with a mixture of the
sinister and facetious rather appalling.

The Senora de ----- insisted on my partaking of her excellent luncheon
after the bath. We could not help thinking, were these baths in the hands
of some enterprising and speculative Yankee, what a fortune he would make;
how he would build an hotel _a la_ Sarratoga, would paper the rooms, and
otherwise beautify this uncouth temple of boiling water.

There is an indescribable feeling of solitude in all houses in the environs
of Mexico, a vastness, a desolation, such as I never before experienced in
the most lonely dwellings in other countries. It is not sad--the sky is too
bright, and nature too smiling, and the air we inhale too pure for that. It
is a sensation of being entirely out of the world, and alone with a giant
nature, surrounded by faint traditions of a bygone race; and the feeling is
not diminished, when the silence is broken by the footstep of the passing
Indian, the poor and debased descendant of that extraordinary and
mysterious people, who came, we know not whence, and whose posterity are
now "hewers of wood and drawers of water," on the soil where they once were

In Chapultepec especially, near as it is to a large and populous city, the
traditions of the past come so strongly upon the mind, that one would
rather look for the apparition of a whole band of these inky-haired
adder-anointed priests of Montezuma, than expect to meet with the
benevolent-looking archbishop, who, in purple robes, occasionally walks
under the shade of the majestic cypresses.

All Mexicans at present, men and women, are engaged in what are called the
_desagravios_, a public penance performed at this season in the churches,
during thirty-five days. The women attend church in the morning, no men
being permitted to enter, and the men in the evening, when women are not
admitted. Both rules are occasionally broken. The penitence of the men is
most severe, their sins being no doubt proportionably greater than those of
the women; though it is one of the few countries where they suffer for
this, or seem to act upon the principle, that "if all men had their
deserts, who should escape whipping?"

To-day we attended the morning penitence at six o'clock, in the church of
San Francisco; the hardest part of which was their having to kneel for
about ten minutes with their arms extended in the form of a cross, uttering
groans; a most painful position for any length of time. It is a profane
thought, but I dare say so many hundreds of beautifully-formed arms and
hands were seldom seen extended at the same moment before. Gloves not being
worn in church, and many of the women having short sleeves, they were very
much seen.

But the other night I was present at a much stranger scene, at the
discipline performed by the men; admission having been procured for us, by
certain means, _private but powerful_. Accordingly, when it was dark,
enveloped from head to foot in large cloaks, and without the slightest idea
of what it was, we went on foot through the streets to the church of San
Agustin. When we arrived, a small side-door apparently opened of itself,
and we entered, passing through long vaulted passages, and up steep winding
stairs, till we found ourselves in a small railed gallery, looking down
directly upon the church. The scene was curious. About one hundred and
fifty men, enveloped in cloaks and sarapes, their faces entirely concealed,
were assembled in the body of the church. A monk had just mounted the
pulpit, and the church was dimly lighted, except where he stood in bold
relief, with his gray robes and cowl thrown back, giving a full view of his
high bald forehead and expressive face.

His discourse was a rude but very forcible and eloquent description of the
torments prepared in hell for impenitent sinners. The effect of the whole
was very solemn. It appeared like a preparation for the execution of a
multitude of condemned criminals. When the discourse was finished, they all
joined in prayer with much fervour and enthusiasm, beating their breasts
and falling upon their faces. Then the monk stood up, and in a very
distinct voice, read several passages of scripture descriptive of the
sufferings of Christ. The organ then struck up the _Miserere,_ and all of a
sudden the church was plunged in profound darkness; all but a sculptured
representation of the Crucifixion, which seemed to hang in the air
illuminated. I felt rather frightened, and would have been very glad to
leave the church, but it would have been impossible in the darkness.
Suddenly, a terrible voice in the dark cried, "My brothers! when Christ was
fastened to the pillar by the Jews, he was _scourged!_" At these words, the
bright figure disappeared, and the darkness became total. Suddenly, we
heard the sound of hundreds of scourges descending upon the bare flesh. I
cannot conceive anything more horrible. Before ten minutes had passed, the
sound became _splashing,_ from the blood that was flowing.

I have heard of these penitences in Italian churches, and also that half of
those who go there do not really scourge themselves; but here where there
is such perfect concealment, there seems no motive for deception.
Incredible as it may seem, this awful penance continued, without
intermission, for half an hour! If they scourged _each other,_ their energy
might be less astonishing.

We could not leave the church, but it was perfectly sickening; and had I
not been able to take hold of the Senora -----'s hand, and feel something
human beside me, I could have fancied myself transported into a
congregation of evil spirits. Now and then, but very seldom, a suppressed
groan was heard, and occasionally the voice of the monk encouraging them by
ejaculations, or by short passages from Scripture. Sometimes the organ
struck up, and the poor wretches, in a faint voice, tried to join in the
_Miserere_. The sound of the scourging is indescribable. At the end of half
an hour a little bell was rung, and the voice of the monk was heard,
calling upon them to desist; but such was their enthusiasm, that the
horrible lashing continued louder and fiercer than ever.

In vain he entreated them not to kill themselves; and assured them that
heaven would be satisfied, and that human nature could not endure beyond a
certain point. No answer, but the loud sound of the scourges, which are
many of them of iron, with sharp points that enter the flesh. At length, as
if they were perfectly exhausted, the sound grew fainter, and little by
little ceased altogether. We then got up in the dark, and, with great
difficulty, groped our way in the pitch darkness through the galleries and
down the stairs, till we reached the door, and had the pleasure of feeling
the fresh air again. They say that the church-floor is frequently covered
with blood after one of these penances, and that a man died the other day
in consequence of his wounds.

I then went to the house of the ----- Minister, where there was a
_reunion_, and where I found the company comfortably engaged in eating a
very famous kind of German salad, composed of herrings, smoked salmon, cold
potatoes, and apples; (salmagundi?) and drinking hot punch. After the cold,
darkness, and horrors of the church, this formed rather a contrast; and it
was some time before I could shake off the disagreeable impression left by
the _desagravios_, and join in the conversation....

Along with this you will receive some Mexican airs, which I have written by
ear from hearing them played, and of some of which I gave you the words in
a former letter.

[Illustration: MEXICAN AIRS See Letters 12th and 16th. JARAVE PALAMO.]

[Illustration: LOS ENANOS.]

[Illustration: PERICO.]

[Illustration: EL AFORRADO.]


Fete-day--Friendly Hint--Precautions--General Tranquillity--President in
San Agustin--Revisit Museum--Ancient Manuscripts--Sculpture--Bronze Bust,
etc.--Freshness after Rain--Ball at the French Minister's--Pamphlet--
Gutierrez Estrada--His Character--Concealment--_Mexicalsingo_--Minister of
the Treasury--Archbishop's Permission--Paintings--Mexican Painters--Santa
Teresa--Description of the Interior--The Penitences--Tortures--
Disciplines, etc.--Supper--Profane Ballads--Monasteries--San Francisco--
_Padre Prior_--Soldiers and Friars.

October 3rd.

Yesterday being C---n's fete-day, we had a dinner and small _soiree_, and
according to custom, visits the whole day. A very agreeable guest from
Havana, Don J---- A----, arrived to spend a few weeks with us. We had
rather a pleasant party, and some good singing; but just as dancing had
begun, C----n took me aside, and showed me a little friendly note which he
had received while at dinner, from General -----, in which he informs him
that the robbers would in all probability attack our respective houses that
night; that he had taken his precautions, and advises C---n to do the same,
in the understanding that, if necessary, they should mutually assist each
other. A pleasant piece of intelligence! The thing got whispered about, and
some of the ladies looked a little blank at the information; but there
could be no risk while so many persons were collected. About one they went
away, and C---n sent for some soldiers to keep watch all night. Nothing
happened, as no doubt the robbers found out what precautions had been
taken. The intended attack had been discovered by a servant of the
general's, who heard them discussing the matter in the back-room of a

We have been obliged to procure two old soldiers as porters, in lieu of the
two who were shot in the revolution; for though not killed, they are
entirely disabled for the present.

Mexico appears particularly quiet just now; and whatever storms may be
preparing, no symptoms are visible to the uninitiated eye. The palace has
got in its glass eyes again, and externally is almost entirely repaired;
but it is not yet fit for the residence of the president, who still _holds
his court_ in the convent of San Agustin. I have been driving about with
our Havana friend, like an old resident, showing the beauties of Mexico to
a stranger. We have been in the Mineria, Museum, Botanical Garden, Biscay
College, etc., all of which can bear revision.

The Museum especially, which, owing to the want of arrangement and
classification in the antiquities, and the manner in which they are crowded
together in the different rooms of the university, appears at first
undeserving of much attention, improves upon acquaintance. It is only since
the year '25 that it was established by the government, and various plans
have been since made for enriching and arranging it, and also for
transporting it to the old building of the Inquisition. But as yet nothing
essential has been carried into effect.

It contains upwards of two hundred historical manuscripts, some in
hieroglyphical characters anterior to the conquest, and many in the
different ancient languages of the country. Of the ancient sculpture, it
possesses two colossal statues and many smaller ones, besides a variety of
busts, heads, figures of animals, masks, and instruments of music or of
war, curiously engraved, and indicating the different degrees of
civilization of the different nations to whom they belonged. A great many
of the vases of _tecal_, and of the candlesticks in clay, curiously worked,
were drawn from excavations in the Isle of Sacrifices, near Vera Cruz, from
Oajaca, etc., and from the suburbs of Mexico. There is also a collection of
very ancient medals to the number of six hundred, a bronze bust of Philip
V, and about two hundred Mexican paintings, comprehending two collections
of the portraits of the Spanish viceroys, many of the celebrated Cabrera's,
and various dresses, arms, and utensils, from both the Californias. In the
cabinet of natural history there is a good collection of minerals, and some
very fine specimens of gold and silver. But in the animal or vegetable
branch of natural history there is a great deficiency, and altogether the
museum is not worthy of a country which seems destined by nature to be the
great emporium of all natural science.

Of course we have revisited old Chapultepec and Our Lady of Guadalupe, with
her Legend and Holy Well. In the morning we have rode to Tacubaya and the
environs, and the weather at that early hour has the most indescribable
freshness, caused by the evening rains. Everything looks bright and
sparkling. The Peruvian trees, with their bending green branches and
bunches of scarlet berries, glitter with the heavy rain-drops, and even the
hoary cypresses of Chapultepec sparkle with water in all their gigantic
branches. Little pools have become ponds, and ditches rivulets, and
frequently it is rather wading than riding, which is not so pleasant.

24th.--Last evening we had a very pretty ball in the house of the French
Minister, where all the Paris furniture was very effective. There were as
usual plenty of diamonds, and some handsome dresses--mine white satin, with

25th.-The whole world is talking of a pamphlet written by Senor Gutierrez
Estrada, which has just appeared, and seems likely to cause a greater
sensation in Mexico than the discovery of the gunpowder plot in England.
Its sum and substance is the proposal of a constitutional Monarchy in
Mexico, with a foreign prince (not named) at its head, as the only remedy
for the evils by which it is afflicted. The pamphlet is written merely in a
speculative form, inculcating no sanguinary measures, or sudden revolution;
but the consequences are likely to be most disastrous to the fearless and
public-spirited author. Even those who most question his prudence in taking
this step, agree that in this, as well as in every other political action
of his life, he has acted from thorough conviction and from motives of the
purest patriotism, unalloyed by one personal feeling; indeed, entirely
throwing behind him every consideration of personal or family interest,
which even the best men allow to have some weight with them on such

In a political review of Mexico, written some years ago by a Mexican who
deals fearlessly, and it would seem impartially, with the characters of all
the leading men of that period, I find some remarks on Senor Gutierrez
Estrada, which you will place more faith in, as coming from a less partial
source than from persons so attached as we are to him and his family. In
speaking of the conduct of the administration, he says--"Senor Gutierrez
Estrada was one of the few who remained firm in his ideas, and above all,
true to his political engagements. This citizen is a native of the State of
Yucatan, where his family, who are distinguished in every point of view,
reside. It is unnecessary to say that Gutierrez received a thorough and
brilliant education, as it is sufficient to have conversed with him to
discover this fact; nor that he knew how to turn it to account in the
career of public service to which he devoted himself, and in which he has
remained pure and unblemished in the midst of a corrupt class. From the
first he was destined to the European legations, on account of his fluency
in speaking and writing both English and French; and he is one of the few
who have employed their time usefully in the capitals of the Old World.
Flexible by nature, honourable by education, and expeditious in business,
his services have been perfect, and above all, loyal and conscientious." He
goes on to say that, "notwithstanding the gentleness of his temper, his
political conscience is so firm and pure, that he will never yield in what
he considers his obligation, _even when it interferes with the most
intimate friendships,_ or most weighty considerations." One would think
that the writer had foreseen the present emergency. I have not yet read the
pamphlet which the friends of the author consider an equal proof of his
noble independence, bold patriotism, and vast information; being, to say
the truth, much more interested in its domestic effects than in its public
results, or even its intrinsic merits.

26th.--Soldiers were sent to the house of the Countess de la C---a, to
arrest her son-in-law, but in compliance with the entreaties of his family,
he had gone into concealment. I found them in great affliction, but they
are so accustomed to political persecution from one party or another,
particularly the countess, that her courage has never deserted her for a
moment. He is accused in Congress--in the senate-house--a proclamation is
made by the president, anathematizing his principles--even the printer of
the pamphlet is thrown into prison. Nothing else is spoken of, and the
general irritation is so terrible, that it is to be hoped his place of
concealment is secure; otherwise the consequences may be fatal.

_On pretend_ that many distinguished men here hold the same opinions, but
their voices, even were they to venture to raise them, could not stem the
tide of public indignation. The most offended are naturally the military
men.... In short, Senor Gutierrez, who has been passing four years abroad,
in countries where hundreds of obscure scribblers daily advocate
republicanism or any wild theory that strikes their fancy, with the most
perfect security, was probably hardly aware of the extraordinary ferment
which such a pamphlet was likely to produce at the present juncture.

27th.--A few days before Senor A---- left us, we went up the canal in a
canoe, as far as Santa Anita, to show him all that remains of the
Chinampas. It is as pleasant a way of passing an evening as any that I know
of here.

We drove lately to Mexicalsingo, where there is a cave in which there is a
figure of our Saviour, which they pretend has lately appeared there.

The excitement concerning the pamphlet seems rather to increase than
diminish, but Senor Gutierrez has many devoted friends, and the place of
his retreat is secure. There is little doubt that he will be forced to fly
the country.

29th. Senor Don Xavier Hechavarria, Minister of the Treasury, has sent in
his resignation. Being a man of large private fortune, extremely simple in
his habits, and the most amiable of men in domestic life, I believe that no
Minister has ever thrown off with more unaffected satisfaction the burden
of state affairs, or will enjoy his retreat from public life with more true

I have been so much interested in the affairs of the C---a family, that I
have forgotten to tell you of my having obtained permission from the
archbishop to visit the Santa Teresa, accompanied by one young married
lady, who has a sister there. The archbishop desired that our visit should
be kept a secret; but it has _oozed_ out by some means or other, probably
through the nuns themselves, and exposed him to so much inconvenience and
such a torrent of solicitations from those ladies who, having daughters or
sisters amongst the nuns, are naturally most desirous to see them, that I
fear, notwithstanding his good nature, he will put a veto on all my future
applications. You will think I pass my time in convents, but I find no
other places half so interesting, and you know I always had a fancy that

In some of these convents there still exist, buried alive like the inmates,
various fine old paintings; amongst others, some of the Flemish school,
brought to Mexico by the monks, at the time when the Low Countries were
under Spanish dominion. Many masters also of the Mexican school, such as
Enriquez, Cabrera, etc., have enriched the cloisters with their
productions, and employed their talent on holy subjects, such as the lives
of the saints, the martyrs, and other Christian subjects. Everywhere,
especially, there are _Cabreras_, an artist somewhat in the Luca Giordano
style; the same monotony, facility, and "_fa presto Luca!_" All his
pictures are agreeable, and some strikingly beautiful. Occasionally he
copies from the old masters, but rarely. Ximenes and Enriquez are not so
common, and some of their productions are very good, and deserve to be
better known than I imagine they are in Europe. They are a branch of the
Spanish school, and afford striking proofs of the extraordinary talent of
the Mexicans for the fine arts, as well as of the facilities which the
mother-country afforded them.

But it is in the convent of the Profesa that the finest paintings are, and
there I cannot enter! The galleries are full of paintings, the most part by
Cabrera; and C---n speaks with enthusiasm of one exceedingly beautiful
painting, in the sacristy of the chapel, said to be an original Guido,
being a representation of Christ tied to the pillar and scourged; in which
the expression of pure divinity and suffering humanity is finely blended,
and well contrasted with savage cruelty in the countenances of his
executioners. But most of these paintings are neglected, and so falling to
decay that it is pitiable to look at them.

The Santa Teresa, however, has few ornaments. It is not nearly so large as
the _Encarnacion_, and admits but twenty-one nuns. At present there are,
besides these, but three novices. Its very atmosphere seems holy, and its
scrupulous and excessive cleanness makes all profane dwellings appear dirty
by comparison. We were accompanied by a bishop, Senor Madrid, the same who
assisted at the archbishop's consecration--a good-looking man, young and
tall, and very splendidly dressed. His robes were of purple satin, covered
with fine point-lace, with a large cross of diamonds and amethysts. He also
wore a cloak of very fine purple cloth, lined with crimson velvet, crimson
stockings, and an immense amethyst ring.

When he came in we found that the nuns had permission to put up their
veils, rarely allowed in this order in the presence of strangers. They have
a small garden and fountain, plenty of flowers, and some fruit, but all is
on a smaller scale, and sadder than in the convent of the Incarnation. The
refectory is a large room, with a long narrow table running all round it--a
plain deal table, with wooden benches; before the place of each nun, an
earthen bowl, an earthen cup with an apple in it, a wooden plate and a
wooden spoon; at the top of the table a grinning skull, to remind them that
even these indulgences they shall not long enjoy.

In one corner of the room is a reading-desk, a sort of elevated pulpit,
where one reads aloud from some holy book, whilst the others discuss their
simple fare. They showed us a crown of thorns, which, on certain days, is
worn by one of their number, by way of penance. It is made of iron, so that
the nails entering inwards, run into the head, and make it bleed. While she
wears this on her head, a sort of wooden bit is put into her mouth, and she
lies prostrate on her face till dinner is ended; and while in this
condition her food is given her, of which she eats as much as she can,
which probably is none.

We visited the different cells, and were horror-struck at the
self-inflicted tortures. Each bed consists of a wooden plank raised in the
middle, and on days of penitence crossed by wooden bars. The pillow is
wooden, with a cross lying on it, which they hold in their hands when they
lie down. The nun lies on this penitential couch, embracing the cross, and
her feet hanging out, as the bed is made too short for her upon principle.
Round her waist she occasionally wears a band with iron points turning
inwards; on her breast a cross with nails, of which the points enter the
flesh, of the truth of which I had melancholy ocular demonstration. Then,
after having scourged herself with a whip covered with iron nails, she lies
down for a few hours on the wooden bars, and rises at four o'clock. All
these instruments of discipline, which each nun keeps in a little box
beside her bed, look as if their fitting place would be in the dungeons of
the Inquisition. They made me try their _bed and board_, which I told them
would give me a very decided taste for early rising.

Yet they all seem as cheerful as possible, though it must be confessed that
many of them look pale and unhealthy. It is said, that when they are strong
enough to stand this mode of life, they live very long; but it frequently
happens that girls who come into this convent, are obliged to leave it from
sickness, long before the expiration of their novitiate. I met with the
girl whom I had seen take the veil, and cannot say that she looked either
well or cheerful, though she assured me, that "of course, in doing the will
of God," she was both. There was not much beauty amongst them generally,
though one or two had remains of great loveliness. My friend, the Madre
A----, is handsomer on a closer view than I had supposed her, and seems an
especial favourite with old and young. But there was one whose face must
have been strikingly beautiful. She was as pale as marble, and though still
young, seemed in very delicate health; but her eyes and eyebrows as black
as jet, the eyes so large and soft, the eyebrows two pencilled arches; and
her smiles so resigned and sweet, would have made her the loveliest model
imaginable for a Madonna.

Again, as in the Incarnation, they had taken the trouble to prepare an
elegant supper for us. The bishop took his place in an antique velvet
chair, the Senora ----- and I were placed on each side of him. The room was
very well lighted, and there was as great a profusion of custards, jellies,
and ices, as if we had been supping at the most profane _cafe_. The nuns
did not sit down, but walked about, pressing us to eat, the bishop now and
then giving them cakes, with permission to eat them, which they received
laughing. They have the most humble and caressing manners, and really
appear to be the most amiable and excellent women in the world. They seem
to make no ostentation of virtue, but to be seriously impressed with the
conviction that they have chosen the true road to salvation; nor are there
in them any visible symptoms of that spiritual pride from which few
devotees are exempt.

After supper a small harp was brought in, which had been sent for by the
bishop's permission. It was terribly out of tune, with half the strings
broke; but we were determined to grudge no trouble in putting it in order,
and giving these poor recluses what they considered so great a
gratification. We got it into some sort of condition at last, and when they
heard it played, they were vehement in their expressions of delight. The
Senora -----, who has a charming voice, afterwards sang to them, the bishop
being very indulgent, and permitting us to select whatever songs we chose,
so that when rather a profane canticle, "The Virgin of the Pillar" (La
Virgen del Pilar), was sung, he very kindly turned a deaf ear to it, and
seemed busily engaged in conversation with an old madre, till it was all

We were really sorry to leave them; particularly as it is next to
impossible that we shall ever see them again; and it seemed as if in a few
hours a friendship had been formed between us and these recluses, whose
sensations are so few, they must be the more lasting. The thoughts of these
poor women cost me a sad and sleepless night. They have sent me some wax
figures, dressed in the costumes of the different orders, beginning with
their own. They wear the coarsest and hardest stuff next their skin, in
itself a perpetual penance.

In these robes they are buried; and one would think that if any human being
can ever leave this world without a feeling of regret, it must be a nun of
the Santa Teresa, when, her privations in this world ended, she lays down
her blameless life, and joins the pious sisterhood who have gone before
her; dying where she has lived, surrounded by her companions, her last
hours soothed by their prayers and tears, sure of their vigils for the
repose of her soul, and above all, sure that neither pleasure nor vanity
will ever obliterate her remembrance from their hearts.

At matins, at vespers, at the simple board, at the nightly hymn, she will
be missed from their train. Her empty cell will recall her to their eyes;
her dust will be profaned by no stranger's footstep, and though taken away
she still seems to remain amongst them....

As for the monasteries, not only no woman can enter, but it is said, with
what truth I know not, that a vice-queen having insisted on the privilege
of her vice-royalty to enter, the gallery and every place which her
footsteps desecrated were unpaved. This was very Saint Senanus like, and
_peu galant_, to say the least.

The finest convent of monks in Mexico is that of San Francisco, which from
alms alone has an immense annual rent. According to Humboldt, it was to
have been built upon the ruins of the temple of Huitzilopoclitli, the god
of war; but these ruins having been destined for the foundation of the
cathedral, this immense convent was erected where it now stands, in 1531.
The founder was an extraordinary man, a great benefactor of the Indians,
and to whom they owed many useful mechanical arts which he brought them
from Europe. His name was Fray Pedro de Gante--his calling that of a
lay-friar--and his father was the Emperor Charles V!

Of the interior of this convent I am enabled to give you a partial
description, but whether from hearsay, in a vision, or by the use of my
natural eyes, I shall not disclose. It is built in the form of a square,
and has five churches attached to it. You enter a gate, pass through the
great, silent, and grass-grown court--up the broad staircase, and enter the
long, arched cloisters, lighted by one dim lamp, where everything seems to
breathe a religious repose....

The padre prior, seated alone in his cell, with a thick and richly-clasped
volume before him, a single lamp on his table, on the wall a crucifix,
plain but decent furniture, with his bald head, and pale, impressive face,
would have made a fine study for a painter. By such men, the embers of
learning and of science were nursed into a faint but steady flame, burning
through the long, gloomy night of the dark ages, unseen by profane eyes,
like the vestal fire in pagan temples....

A small room, opening into his little parlour, contains his bed, on which
is a mattress; for the padres do not perform such acts of self-denial and
penitence as the cloistered nuns--and I am assured that his cigars are
genuine Havana....

Beggars lounging in the courtyard--a group of monks talking together within
the walled enclosure....

Change the scene to the monastery of San Agustin, and you might fancy
yourself in the days of one of Walter Scott's romances, in the _melange_ of
soldiers and friars; for here his Excellency the President has his
temporary abode; and the torch-light gleams brightly on the swarthy faces
of the soldiers, some lying on the ground enveloped in their cloaks; others
keeping guard before the convent gate. This convent is also very large, but
not so immense as that of San Francisco. The padre prior is a good little
old man, but has not the impressive, ascetic visage of the guardian of the
other convent. His room is as simple, though not in such perfect order; and
his bed is also furnished with a comfortable mattress. An air half
military, half monkish, pervades the convent--aides-de-camp of the
president passing along the galleries, their uniforms contrasting with the
dark robe of a passing monk, returning at nightfall to his cell.

The president had an alarm the night preceding, the prisoners in the jail
having broken out. A serious affray had been expected, and everything was
prepared for putting the person of the president in safety. The back stairs
and secret passages in these old convents lead to excellent hiding-places,
and have been put to frequent use during the revolutions. In the old Monte
Pio there is a communication with a convent of nuns, and in cases of
pillage, the jewels used to be carried by a private staircase out of Monte
Pio, and placed under the care of the nuns of Santa Brigida.

The convent of La Profesa is also a fine and spacious building, but
excepting that it has a greater number of good paintings than the others,
when you have seen one, you have seen all, and I believe none are as large
as that founded by the illegitimate scion of the Imperial Charles, who
himself ended his days in a similar retreat.


_Dia de Muertos_--Leave Mexico--_Herraderos_--San Cristobal--Tunas--Plaza
de Toros--Throwing the _Laso_--Accidents--Rustic Breakfast--Country
Fare--Baked Meat--Indian Market--Buried Bull--Mountain--Solitary
_Hacienda_--_Reyes_--Mules marked--Return--Queen of Spain's
Birthday--Diplomatic Dinner.

Santiago, November 3rd.

Yesterday, the second of November, a day which for eight centuries has been
set apart in the Catholic Church for commemorating the dead, the day
emphatically known as the "_Dia de Muertos_," the churches throughout all
the Republic of Mexico present a gloomy spectacle; darkened and hung with
black cloth, while in the middle aisle is a coffin, covered also with
black, and painted with skulls and other emblems of mortality. Every one
attends church in mourning, and considering the common lot of humanity,
there is, perhaps, not one heart over the whole Catholic world, which is
not wrung that day, in calling up the memory of the departed.

After early mass, we set off for Santiago, where we intend to spend a week,
to be present at the _Herraderos_--the marking of the bulls with a hot iron
with the initials of the proprietor's name; stamping them with the badge of
slavery--which is said to be an extraordinary scene; to which all rancheros
and Indians look forward with the greatest delight. We had a very pleasant
journey here, leaving Mexico at six in the morning, and travelling at the
usual rate, with _seven_ horses and plenty of _mozos_. Indeed, no one
attempts a journey of any length into the country, without at least six
horses or mules.

Near Sopayuca, while they were changing horses, we went to mass, in the
picturesque church of San Cristobal. The magnificence of these places of
worship is extraordinary. Here was this country church crowded with
leperos, the officiating priests, Indians with bare feet; yet the building
large and rich, hung with black cloth, and lighted with great tapers which
threw their gloomy rays on as much of the rich gilding that encrusted the
walls, as the dark pall left visible.

We got into the carriage a basket of that most refreshing of fruits, the
_tuna_, which grow wild in abundance all over the country. The first time I
unwarily pulled them off the trees, I got my fingers full of the
innumerable little prickles which cover the skin, and which it is very
difficult to get rid of. The Indians have great dexterity in gathering and
peeling them. There is the green and the red tuna; the last the prettiest
to look at, but not nearly so agreeable a fruit as the other.

When we arrived at Santiago, we sat down to a dinner to the number of about
fifty persons, and in the room next to us was a party still larger, of
lower degree, for all the world has come to be present at this annual

6th.--The next morning we set off early to the _plaza de toros_. The day
was fresh and exhilarating. All the country people from several leagues
round were assembled, and the trees up to their very topmost branches
presented a collection of bronze faces and black eyes, belonging to the
Indians, who had taken their places there as comfortably as spectators in a
one-shilling gallery. A platform opposite ours was filled with the wives
and daughters of agents and small farmers, little _rancheras_, with short
white gowns and rebosos. There was a very tolerable band of music, perched
upon a natural orchestra. Bernardo and his men were walking and riding
about, and preparing for action. Nothing could be more picturesque than the
whole scene.

Seven hundred bulls were driven in from the plains, bellowing loudly, so
that the air was filled with their fierce music. The universal love which
the Mexicans have for these sports, amounts to a passion. All their money
is reserved to buy new dresses for this occasion, silver rolls or gold
linings for their hats, or new deerskin pantaloons and embroidered jackets
with silver buttons. The accidents that happen are innumerable, but nothing
damps their ardour. _It beats fox-hunting._ The most striking part of the
scene is the extraordinary facility which these men show in throwing the
laso. The bulls being all driven into an enclosure--one after another, and
sometimes two or three at a time, were chosen from amongst them, and driven
into the plaza, where they were received with shouts of applause, if they
appeared fierce, and likely to afford good sport; or of irony, if they
turned to fly, which happened more than once.

Three or four bulls are driven in. They stand for a moment, proudly
reconnoitring their opponents. The horsemen gallop up, armed only with the
laso, and with loud insulting cries of "_Ah toro_!" challenge them to the
contest. The bulls paw the ground, then plunge furiously at the horses,
frequently wounding them at the first onset. Round they go in fierce
gallop, bulls and horsemen, amidst the cries and shouts of the spectators.
The horseman throws the laso. The bull shakes his head free of the cord,
tosses his horns proudly, and gallops on. But his fate is inevitable. Down
comes the whirling rope, and encircles his thick neck. He is thrown down
struggling furiously, and repeatedly dashes his head against the ground in
rage and despair. Then, his legs being also tied, the man with the hissing
red-hot iron in the form of a letter, brands him on the side with the token
of his dependence on the lord of the soil. Some of the bulls stand this
martyrdom with Spartan heroism and do not utter a cry; but others, when the
iron enters their flesh, burst out into long bellowing roars, that seem to
echo through the whole country. They are then loosened, get upon their legs
again, and like so many branded Cains, are driven out into the country, to
make way for others. Such roaring, such shouting, such an odour of singed
hair and _biftek au naturel,_ such playing of music, and such wanton risks
as were ran by the men!

I saw a toreador, who was always foremost in everything, attempting to drag
a bull by the horns, when the animal tossed his head, and with the jerk of
one horn, tore all the flesh off his finger to the very bone. The man
coolly tore a piece off a handkerchief, shook the blood off his finger with
a slight grimace, bound it up in a moment, and dashed away upon a new
venture. One Mexican, extraordinarily handsome, with eyes like an eagle,
and very thin and pale, is, they say, so covered from head to foot with
wounds received in different bullfights, that he cannot live long; yet this
man was the most enthusiastic of them all. His master tried to dissuade him
from joining in the sport this year; but he broke forth into such pathetic
entreaties, conjuring him "by the life of the Senorita," etc., that he
could not withhold his consent.

After an enormous number of bulls had been caught and _labelled_, we went
to breakfast. We found a tent prepared for us, formed of bows of trees
intertwined with garlands of white moss, like that which covers the
cypresses of Chapultepec, and beautifully ornamented with red blossoms and
scarlet berries. We sat down upon heaps of white moss, softer than any
cushion. The Indians had cooked meat under the stones for us, which I found
horrible, smelling and tasting of smoke. But we had also boiled fowls, and
quantities of burning chile, hot tortillas, atole, or _atolli_, as the
Indians call it, a species of cakes made of very fine maize and water, and
sweetened with sugar or honey; _embarrado_, a favourite composition of meat
and chile, very like _mud_, as the name imports, which I have not yet made
up my mind to endure; quantities of fresh tunas, granaditas, bananas,
aguacates, and other fruits, besides pulque, _a discretion_.

The other people were assembled in circles under the trees, cooking fowls
and boiling eggs in a gipsy fashion, in caldrons, at little fires made with
dry branches; and the band, in its intervals of tortilla and pulque,
favoured us with occasional airs. After breakfast, we walked out amongst
the Indians, who had formed a sort of temporary market, and were selling
pulque, chia, roasted chestnuts, yards of baked meat, and every kind of
fruit. We then returned to see a great bull-fight, which was followed by
more _herraderos_--in short, spent the whole day amongst the _toros_, and
returned to dinner at six o'clock, some in coaches, some on horseback. In
the evening, all the people danced in a large hall; but at eleven o'clock I
could look on no longer, for one of these days in the hot sun is very
fatiguing. Nevertheless, at two in the morning, these men, who had gone
through such violent exercise, were still dancing jarabes.

8th.--For several days we lived amongst bulls and Indians, the _herraderos_
continuing, with variation of _colear_, riding the bulls, etc. Not the
slightest slackening in the eagerness of the men. Even a little boy of ten
years old mounted a young bull one day, and with great difficulty and at a
great risk succeeded in forcing him to gallop round the circle. His father
looked on, evidently frightened to death for the boy, yet too proud of his
youthful prowess to attempt to stop him.

At night, when I shut my eyes, I see before me visions of bulls' heads.
Even when asleep I hear them roaring, or seem to listen to the shouts of
"_Ah toro!_" The last day of the _herraderos_, by way of winding up, a bull
was killed in honour of C---n, and a great flag was sent streaming from a
tree, on which flag was inscribed in large letters, "Gloria al Senor
Ministro de la Augusta Cristina!" a piece of gallantry which I rewarded
with a piece of gold.

The animal, when dead, was given as a present to the _torcadores_; and
this bull, cut in pieces, they bury with his skin on, in a hole in the
ground previously prepared with fire in it, which is then covered over
with earth and branches. During a certain time, it remains baking in this
natural oven, and the common people consider it a great delicacy, (in
which I differ from them).

Yesterday, we climbed to the top of a steep mountain, which cost us as much
labour as if it had been that steep path which "leads to fame."
Fortunately, it has a good deal of wood, and we had an occasional rest in
the shade. We mounted the hill on horseback as far as horses could go, but
the principal part could only be performed on foot. Most of the party
remained half way. We reached the top, swinging ourselves up by the
branches, in places where it was nearly perpendicular. We were rewarded,
first by the satisfaction one always has in making good one's intentions,
and next, by a wonderfully fine and extensive view. Our return was more
agreeable, as the weather, except in the heat of the noonday sun, is very
cold in this part of the country. The hills are covered chiefly with tunas,
low firs, and numbers of shrubs, with flowers and berries.... Met on our
return a horseman who came to announce the arrival of a guest, Senor
H----, from Puebla, who proved a pleasant addition to our society.

15th.--We went out early this morning on horseback, and breakfasted at an
_hacienda_, five leagues distant from Santiago, belonging to the widow of
-----'s agents, a good looking, respectable woman, who, alone, in this
solitary place, brings up her eight children as she best can. This may
really be called solitude. From one year to another she never sees a human
being, except an occasional Indian. She is well off, and everything in her
house is clean and comfortable. She herself manages the farm, and educates
her children to the best of her abilities, so that she never finds time to
be dull. She expected us, and gave us breakfast (we being about twenty in
number), consisting of everything which that part of the country can
afford; and the party certainly did justice to her excellent fare. She gave
us pulque, fermented with the juice of the pineapple, which is very good.

When the sun had gone down a little, we rode to the fine _hacienda_ of
Reyes, belonging to Senor A----, where he is making and projecting
alterations and improvements. When we left Reyes it began to rain, and we
were glad to accept the covering of _sarapes_, as we galloped over the
plains. We had a delightful ride. Towards evening the rain ceased, and the
moon rose brightly and without a cloud; but we were certainly tired enough
when we got home, having rode in all ten leagues.

17th.--These two days have been passed in seeing the mules marked. They are
even more dangerous than the bulls, as they bite most ferociously while in
their wild state. When thrown down by the laso, they snore in the most
extraordinary manner, like so many aldermen in an apoplectic nap.

This is, perhaps, the most useful and profitable of all Mexican animals. As
beasts of burden and for draught, they are in use over the whole republic,
and are excellent for long journeys, being capable of immense fatigue,
particularly in those arid, hilly parts of the country, where there are no
roads. Those which go in droves, can carry about five hundred pounds
weight, going at the rate of twelve or fourteen miles a day, and in this
way they can perform journeys of more than a thousand miles. For constant
use they are preferable to horses, being so much less delicate, requiring
less care, and enduring more fatigue. A good pair of carriage mules will
cost from five hundred to a thousand dollars.

After dinner we saw some of these wild creatures, that had just been
caught, put into a carriage, each wild mule harnessed with a civilized one,
and such kicking and flinging up of heels I never witnessed. However, the
_mozos_ can manage anything, and in about half an hour, after much
alternate soothing and lashing, they trotted along with the heavy coach
after them, only rearing and plunging at decent intervals.

MEXICO, 12th.

We have passed ten days in the country, taking constant exercise, and have
been obliged to return home rather sooner than we should have wished, in
order to mark Queen Ysabel's Day with a diplomatic dinner.

Though less is now said on the subject of the pamphlet than when we left
this, the irritation seems to continue as before. Senor Gutierrez remains
concealed, communicating only with his family and a few devoted friends; a
most disagreeable position, and one which it is impossible for him to
endure long.

20th.--Our dinner has _gone off_ as well as could be expected. The party
were twenty-six in number, consisting of His Grace the Archbishop, their
Excellencies of the Cabinet and _Corps Diplomatique_, together with Count
Cortina, the Valencias, and Gorostizas. The gentlemen were in full
uniform--the ladies _en grande toilette_--the archbishop in his robes. We
had a band of music in the gallery, and walked in to the sound of Norma,
precedence being given to the archbishop, who took me, or rather whom I
took, as I found some difficulty in getting my arm into his robes. I
believe no blunders in etiquette were committed. The dinner lasted three
and a half mortal hours. The archbishop proposed the health of Her Majesty
the Queen, which was drank standing, the band performing God save the
queen. I was dreadfully tired (though in a very agreeable position), and
have no doubt every one else was the same, it being eleven when we returned
to the drawing-room.

The archbishop's familiars, two priests who always accompany him,
respectable _black guards_, were already in waiting. As for him, he was as
kind and agreeable as usual, and, after coffee, took his departure to the
sound of music.


Virgin of _Cavadonga_--Santo Domingo--Decorations and
Music--Daguerreotype--Weekly Soirees--An Arrival--An Earthquake--Honourable
Mr. -------Broken Furniture--_dias_--Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe--Party
of the _Desierto_--_Itzcuintepotzotli_--Inn of _Guajimaclo_--Ruined
Convent--Its Origin--_Dejeune_ a la _Fourchette_--Splendid Scenery--Vow to
the Virgin--Musical Mass--Tacuba--Ride with the Prior.


We received a few days since an invitation to attend the sumptuous mass,
annually given by the Asturian Brotherhood, in honour of the Virgin of
Cavadonga, in the church of Santo Domingo. The invitation being printed on
blue satin, with gold lace and tassels, seems worthy of a place in a box of
wax figures, which will be sent by the next packet.

The church was superbly decorated, and only well-dressed people were
admitted. C---n was carried off to a post of honour near the altar, and a
padre gave me a velvet chair. The music was beautiful, but too gay for a
church. There were violins and wind instruments, and several amateur
players. Some pieces from the _Cheval de Bronze_ were very well played. The
sermon, preached by Guerrero, a chanoine who has some reputation as an
orator, contained a prudent degree of praise of the Spaniards, and even of
a king, could that king be a _pelayo_.

In the evening we dined at the Prussian Minister's--a pleasant party.

Yesterday we went to Chapultepec, C---n and I, M. de G---t, and M. de
N----, to take views with the Daguerreotype, which C---n had the pleasure
of receiving some time ago from Boston, from our friend, Mr. Prescott.
While they were working in the sun, I, finding that the excessive heat had
the effect of cooling my enthusiasm, established myself with a book under
Montezuma's cypress, which felt very romantic. The poetry of the scene,
however, was greatly weakened by the arrival of a party of _forcats_ in
chains, who are working in the castle, which I believe there is some
intention of having transformed into a military college. They are so
insolent, that forgetting they are guarded and chained in couples, I felt
glad to see that the servants were within call.

Our weekly _soirees_ have begun, and, so far, are very successful. There
are now three tertulias in the week at the houses of the diplomates. We
have generally music, cards, and plenty of dancing, and every one seems
pleased, the best proof of which they give by generally staying till two or
three in the morning.

28th.--You may imagine my joy at the arrival of K---- and A---- in health
and safety at three o'clock to-day. They have had a good journey from Vera
Cruz, suffering from nothing but the cold, which they felt especially at
Perote. As they arrived on the day of a _soiree_, they did not make their
appearance, being tired. I have now an excuse for revisiting all my old
haunts, and the first week or two must pass in sight-seeing.

3Oth.--We dined yesterday at Tacubaya; where the C---a family, particularly
the ladies of the family, are in a state of the greatest uneasiness.

I had just written these words, when I began, to my great astonishment, to
rock up and down, chair, table, and myself. Suddenly, the room, the walls,
all began to move, and the floor to heave like the waves of the sea! At
first, I imagined that I was giddy, but almost immediately saw that it was
an earthquake. We all ran, or rather staggered as well as we could, into

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