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Life in Mexico by Frances Calderon De La Barca

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the gallery, where the servants were already arranged on their knees,
praying and crossing themselves with all their might. The shock lasted
above a minute and a half, and I believe has done no injury, except in
frightening the whole population, and cracking a few old walls. All Mexico
was on its knees while it lasted, even the poor madmen in San Hepolito,
which A---- had gone to visit in company with Senor -----. I have had a
feeling of sea-sickness ever since. They expect a return of the shock in
twenty-four hours. How dreadful a severe earthquake must be! how terrible
it is to feel this heaving of the solid earth, to lose our confidence in
its security, and to be reminded that the elements of destruction which
lurk beneath our feet, are yet swifter and more powerful to destroy, than
those which are above us.

I cannot help laughing yet at the recollection of the face of a poor little
clerk who had just entered the house with a packet of letters for C---n. He
did not kneel, but sat down upon the steps as pale as death, looking as
"creamed faced" as the messenger to Macbeth; and when the shock was over,
he was so sick, that he ran out of the house without making any remarks.
The scarlet _hucamaya_, with a loud shriek, flew from its perch, and
performed a zig-zag flight through the air, down to the troubled fountain
in the court.

Your friend, the Honourable Mr. -----, arrived the other day, looking very
ill, having had the yellow fever at Havana very severely, a peculiar piece
of bad fortune at this season.

All the furniture we ordered from the United States, arrived some time ago,
a mass of legs and arms. Tables, wardrobes, etc., were, I believe, all sold
for the mahogany at Vera Cruz. The mirrors also arrived _in powder_. This
must be owing to bad packing, since our most delicate things from London,
such as crystal, porcelain, etc., have arrived in excellent condition.

December 3rd.--Have had many visits to-day, this being my _dia de fiesta_.
Amongst others the president was here. This custom of keeping people's
_dias_ gives one a great deal of trouble, but the omission is considered
rather a breach of politeness.

12th.--This being the anniversary of the day of the miraculous apparition
of our Lady of Guadalupe, the cathedral and village will be crowded with
Indians from all parts of the country. A---- and Mr. B---- have driven over
there; but, from all accounts, the crowd will be so great, that we are not
tempted to accompany them. We have a _soiree_ this evening, and have had
two pleasant parties this week at the other houses. To-morrow we intend
going with a large party to the _Desierto_, where some gentlemen are to
give a breakfast. I understand that there are to be twenty-three people on
horseback, and eighteen in carriages, and our _trysting-place_ is by the
great fountain with the gilt statue, in the Paseo de Bucarelli; the hour,
half-past seven. They say the Desierto is a beautiful place, but being
seven leagues from Mexico, we shall probably all return as tired as

15th.--The morning of our party to the Desierto was beautiful. Here one
need not fear those _contretemps_ in regard to the weather, which in
England so often render a party of pleasure painful; unless, indeed, one
chooses to select an evening in the rainy season for an expedition. We met
by the fountain at the hour appointed, some in carriages, and some on
horseback. Of the latter I formed part. The road leads along the aqueduct
by Chapultepec, and through Tacubaya, and is the high-road that goes to
Toluca. The first part, after passing Tacubaya, is steep, bleak, and
uninteresting. Plantations of maguey and occasional clumps of Peruvian
trees are the only vegetation, and Indian huts the only traces of human
life. But after a tedious ascent, the view looking back upon Mexico, with
all her churches, lakes, and mountains is truly magnificent. The road also
begins to wind through a fertile and wooded country. About noon we reached
an inn, where travellers stop who are going to Toluca, and where we halted
to collect our scattered forces. Hanging up by a hook in the entry, along
with various other dead animals, polecats, weasels, etc., was the ugliest
creature I ever beheld. It seemed a species of dog, with a hunch back, a
head like a wolf, and no neck, a perfect monster. As far as I can make out
it must be the _itzcuintepotzotli_, mentioned by some old Mexican writers.
The people had brought it up in the house, and killed it on account of its
fierceness. This inn stands in the valley of Guajimalco, and is about a
league from the Desierto.

There is no longer any road there, but a steep and winding path through the
beautiful woods. Therefore those who had come in coaches were now obliged
to proceed on donkeys, with Indian guides. The beauty of the scenery is
indescribable. The path winds, ascending through a wilderness of trees and
flowering shrubs, bathed by a clear and rapid rivulet; and every now and
then, through the arched forest-trees, are glimpses of the snowy volcanoes
and of the distant domes and lakes of Mexico.

The ruins of the old Carmelite convent, standing on the slope of a hill,
are surrounded by noble forests of pine, and oak, and cedar; long and lofty
forest-aisles, where the monks of former days wandered in peaceful
meditation. But they removed from this beautiful site to another, said to
be equally beautiful and wilder, also called the Desierto, but much farther
from Mexico; and this fertile region (which the knowing eye of a Yankee
would instantly discover to be full of capabilities in the way of
machinery), belongs to no one, and lies here deserted, in solitary beauty.
Some poor Indians live amongst the ruins of the old cloisters, and the wild
deer possess the undisputed sovereignty of the woods.

It is said that a benighted traveller, who had lost his way in these
solitudes, and was miraculously saved from dying of cold, founded this rich
convent of Carmelite monks, in gratitude to Heaven for his deliverance,
bequeathing his desire, that all travellers who passed that way should
receive hospitality from the convent. Certainly no place more fitted for
devotion could have been selected than this mountain retreat; and when the
convent bell tolled at evening, calling the monks to prayer, and wakening
the echoes of the silent hills, its deep notes must have been all in unison
with the solemn scene.

But the sight of a very magnificent _dejeune a la fourchette_, spread under
the pine-trees, the uncorking of champagne bottles and Scotch ale, the
savoury odour of soups and fricandeaus, the bustling attendance of English
waiters, put to flight all romantic fancies. We remembered that we were
hungry, that we had ridden seven miles and had not breakfasted; and no
order of friars could have done more justice to the repast than we did....
But the component parts of a party of pleasure must be very curiously
selected, the mosaic of the society very nicely fitted, or it will
inevitably terminate unpleasantly; and the elements of discord are more
dangerous, their effects more lasting, than even the coughs and colds and
rheumatisms produced by those watery elements, sworn foes to all picnics
and gipsy parties in our foggy island.

About four o'clock we remounted our horses, and retraced our path through
the woods; and who could ruminate on petty disputes, or complain of
trifling accidents, or not forget any disagreeable individuals who might
have been found among our numerous party, when the splendid panorama of
Mexico burst upon us, with all its mountains, lakes, and plains, its
churches, and towers, and gardens, bathed in a flood of golden light, the
rich crimson clouds of sunset resting upon the snow of the volcanoes, while
the woods through which our horses picked their steps, over stones and
streamlets, were fragrant with blossoming shrubs and wild roses?

When we reached the inn where the carriages had been left, we remounted our
horses, and as it was growing dusk, and the whole party had not yet
collected together, we thought it advisable for the equestrian part of the
expedition to ride forward; so leaving the carriages with their escort, we
set off for Mexico; C---n, I, A----, and a servant, at full gallop, and
hardly drew our bridles till we reached the city; tired, as you may
suppose, after our fourteen leagues' ride.

20th.--Our yesterday evening's tertulia was very crowded; and there was a
great deal of music and dancing. These weekly _soirees_ are decidedly
successful, and the best families in Mexico unite there without etiquette,
which we were told it was impossible to bring about....

Perhaps it is that I am getting accustomed to the Mexican style of face,
but it appeared to me that there was a great deal of beauty assembled; and
as for fine voices, they are as common in Mexico as they are rare in

A rich senator, Don B---- G----, made a vow to the Virgin some years ago,
that he would cause a splendid mass to be performed annually in the
cathedral, at his own expense, in honour of our Saviour's birth, on the
morning of Christmas-eve. This mass is performed entirely by amateurs, most
of the young ladies in Mexico, who have fine voices, taking a part in it. I
was _drawn in_, very unwillingly, to promise to take a trifling part on the
harp, the accompaniment to the _Incarnatus_.

Preparations have long been going on for this solemnization, and various
rehearsals have taken place amongst the amateur singers, in the evening,
before large audiences in the Mineria. The whole thing promises well.

24th.--C---n has gone with Senor Zurutuza (a Spanish gentleman), to
Cuernavaca, in _tierra caliente_, to spend a few days at his estate in the
neighbourhood; which at this season will be delightful.

This morning we rode to San Joaquin, where we met the prior on horseback,
on his way to Mexico to confess the old prioress of the convent of Santa
Teresa. He turned back, and accompanied us during the rest of our ride. He
rode with us to Tacuba, round the traces of the ruins, and to the fine old
church and dismantled convent, where we dismounted, and having taken off
our riding-hats, accompanied the prior through the deserted cloisters into
the old church; and I imagine we must have looked very picturesque; I in my
riding-habit, and the sandalled friar in his white robes, kneeling side by
side, on the broken steps of the altar. He is so pleasant and
well-informed, that he is a particularly agreeable companion.


Christmas-day--Kalends and Mass--Amateur
Performances--Solo--_Posadas_--Wandering of the Holy
Family--_Nacimiento_--Crowded Party--French Cooks--Mexican Cook--State of
Household--New Year's Day--Mass--Dirtiness of the Churches,
etc.--Comparisons--Private Chapels--English Club--Preparations for Journey.


CHRISTMAS-DAY! One year this evening since we made our entry into Mexico.
What a different aspect everything has assumed to us in one year! Then
every object was new, every face that of a stranger. Now we are surrounded
by familiar sights and sounds, and above all by friendly faces. But though
novelty, which has its charms and its _desagremens_, has gone, nothing in
Mexico even appears commonplace. Everything is on so large a scale, and
everything so picturesque. Then there is so much interest attached to its
old buildings, so much to see, even though there are no _sights_ and no
show-places, unless we are to put in that class the Minera, Museum,
Cathedral, University, and Botanic Garden, usually visited by travellers,
that at whatever period we may leave it, I feel convinced we shall regret
some point of interest, that we have left unvisited....

Some days ago coloured cards, printed in gilt letters, were sent round,
inviting all the senator's friends to the mass, in this form:--

"J---e B---o G---- requests that you will honour him with your presence and
that of your family, in the solemn function of Kalends and Mass, with which
he annually makes an humble remembrance of the Birth of the Saviour, which
festivity will take place on the morning of the 24th of this month, at nine
o'clock in the Parish Church of the _Sagrario_ of the Holy Cathedral.

"Mexico, December, 1840."

By nine we were all assembled in the choir; Don B---o in his uniform, dark
blue and gold, we in mantillas. The church looked very splendid, and, as
usual on these occasions, no _leperos_ were admitted, therefore the crowd
was very elegant and select. The affair went off brilliantly. Four or five
of the girls, and several of the married women, have superb voices; and not
one of all those who sang in chorus had a bad voice. The finest I almost
ever heard is that of the Senorita C----. Were she to study in Italy, I
venture to predict that she might rival Grisi. Such depth, power,
extension, and sweetness, with such richness of tone in the upper notes,
are very rarely united. She sang a solo in such tones that I thought the
people below must have been inclined to applaud. There are others whose
voices are much more cultivated, and who have infinitely more science. I
speak only of the raw material. The orchestra was really good, and led by a
first-rate musician. I was thankful when my part of the entertainment was
over, and I could give an individual attention to the others. The
celebration lasted four hours, but there was rather a long sermon. You will
shortly receive a detailed account of the whole, which is to be published
in the Mexican Annual, called "The Ladies' Guide."

In the evening we went to the house of the Marquesa de V---o, to spend the
Christmas-eve. On this night all the relations and intimate friends of each
family assemble in the house of the _head of the clan_, a real gathering,
and in the present case to the number of fifty or sixty persons.

This is the last night of what are called the _Posadas,_ a curious mixture
of religion and amusement, but extremely pretty. The meaning is this: At
the time when the decree went forth from Caesar Augustus, that "all the
world should be taxed," the Virgin and Joseph having come out of Galilee to
Judaea to be inscribed for the taxation, found Bethlehem so full of people,
who had arrived from all parts of the world, that they wandered about for
nine days, without finding admittance in any house or tavern, and on the
ninth day took shelter in a manger, where the Saviour was born. For eight
days this wandering of the Holy Family to the different _Posadas_ is
represented, and seems more intended for an amusement to the children than
anything serious. We went to the Marquesa's at eight o'clock, and about
nine the ceremony commenced. A lighted taper is put into the hand of each
lady, and a procession was formed, two by two, which marched all through
the house, the corridors and walls of which were all decorated with
evergreens and lamps, the whole party singing the Litanies. K----- walked
with the dowager marquesa; and a group of little children, dressed as
angels, joined the procession. They wore little robes of silver or gold
lama, plumes of white feathers, and a profusion of fine diamonds, and
pearls, in _bandeaux_, brooches, and necklaces, white gauze wings, and
white satin shoes, embroidered in gold.

At last the procession drew up before a door, and a shower of fireworks was
sent flying over our heads, I suppose to represent the descent of the
angels; for a group of ladies appeared, dressed to represent the shepherds
who watched their flocks by night upon the plains of Bethlehem. Then
voices, supposed to be those of Mary and Joseph, struck up a hymn, in which
they begged for admittance, saying that the night was cold and dark, that
the wind blew hard, and that they prayed for a night's shelter. A chorus of
voices from within refused admittance. Again those without entreated
shelter, and at length declared that she at the door, who thus wandered in
the night, and had not where to lay her head, was the Queen of Heaven! At
this name the doors were thrown wide open, and the Holy Family entered
singing. The scene within was very pretty: a _nacimiento_. Platforms, going
all round the room, were covered with moss, on which were disposed groups
of wax figures, generally representing passages from different parts of the
New Testament, though sometimes they begin with Adam and Eve in paradise.
There was the Annunciation--the Salutation of Mary to Elizabeth--the Wise
Men of the East--the Shepherds--the Flight into Egypt. There were green
trees and fruit trees, and little fountains that cast up fairy columns of
water, and flocks of sheep, and a little cradle in which to lay the Infant
Christ. One of the angels held a waxen baby in her arms. The whole was
lighted very brilliantly, and ornamented with flowers and garlands. A padre
took the baby from the angel, and placed it in the cradle, and the posada
was completed. We then returned to the drawing-room--angels, shepherds, and
all, and danced till suppertime. The supper was a show for sweetmeats and

Today, with the exception of there being no service in all the churches,
Christmas is not kept in any remarkable way. We are spending this evening
alone, and very quietly. Tomorrow we have a _soiree_. I have letters from
C---n, from Cuernavaca, delighted with the beauties of _tierra caliente_,
and living amongst roses and orange trees. I hope that in January we shall
be able to go there, in case anything should occur to induce us to leave
Mexico before next winter.

27th.--We had a very crowded party last evening, I think the best we have
had yet, a fact which I mention, because I triumph in my opinion that these
weekly parties would succeed in Mexico having proved correct. I have lately
been engaged in search of a _cook_, with as much pertinacity as Japhet in
search of his father, and with as little success as he had in his
preliminary inquiries. One, a Frenchman, I found out had been tried for
murder--another was said to be deranged--a third, who announced himself as
the greatest _artiste_ who had yet condescended to visit Mexico, demanded a
salary which he considered suitable to his abilities. I tried a female
Mexican, in spite of her flowing hair. She seemed a decent woman and
tolerable cook; and, although our French housekeeper and prime Minister had
deserted us at our utmost need, we ventured to leave the house, and to
spend the day at Tacubaya. On our return, found the whole establishment
unable to stand! Cook tipsy--soldiers ditto--galopine slightly
intoxicated--in short, the house taking care of itself--no _standing force_
but the coachman and footman, who have been with us some time, and appear
to be excellent servants. I am, however, promised a good Mexican
housekeeper, and trust that some order will be established under her
government; also, a Chinese cook, with a _celestial_ character....

Letters from Spain, announcing the speedy arrival of a Secretary of
Legation and another attache.

1st January, 1841.--A happy New Year to all! We began it by attending early
mass in San Francisco, about the cleanest church in Mexico, and most
frequented by the better classes. There you may have the good fortune to
place yourself between two well-dressed women, but you are equally likely
to find your neighbour a beggar with a blanket; besides, the floor is
nearly as dirty as that of the cathedral. This dirtiness is certainly one
of the greatest drawbacks to human felicity in this beautiful country,
degrading the noble edifices dedicated to the worship of God, destroying
the beautiful works destined for the benefit of his creatures. The streets,
the churches, the theatres, the market-place, the people, all are
contaminated by this evil. The market-place is indeed full of flowers and
green branches and garlands--but those who sell the flowers and weave the
wreaths are so dirty, that the effect of what would otherwise be the
prettiest possible picture, is completely destroyed. In the theatre there
is a series of suffocating odours, especially in the dimly-lighted
corridors, which is anything but agreeable. The custom of kneeling on the
floor in church seems fitting and devout, but there surely can be no reason
why the floor of a sacred building should not be kept scrupulously clean,
or why the lower classes should not be obliged to dress themselves with
common decency. Those who are unable to do so, though probably there are
not half a dozen people in Mexico who do not wear rags merely from
indolence, should certainly have a place set apart for them, in which case
this air of squalid poverty would no doubt disappear. On occasion of any
peculiar fete, the church is washed and beggars are excluded, and then
indeed these noble edifices seem fitting temples wherein to worship the
Most High.

On other days, in addition to the leperos (especially in the cathedral),
the Indian women are in the habit of bringing their babies and baskets of
vegetables to church, and the babies on their part are in the habit of
screaming, as babies will when they consider themselves neglected. This may
be difficult to amend, the poor woman having come in from her village, and
perforce brought her progeny with her; but the strong, stout man in rags,
who prefers begging to working--the half-naked woman who would consider
herself degraded by doing anything to better her condition, except asking
for alms--the dogs which wander up and down during divine service,--all
these might be brought to order by proper regulations.

Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, I have sometimes compared, in my own
mind, the appearance of a fashionable London chapel with that of a Mexican
church, on the occasion of a solemn fete, and the comparison is certainly
in favour of the latter. The one, light, airy, and gay, with its
velvet-lined pews, its fashionable preacher, the ladies a little sleepy
after the last night's opera, but dressed in the most elegant morning
toilet, and casting furtive glances at Lady -----'s bonnet and feathers,
and at Mrs. -----'s cashmere shawl or lovely ermine pelisse, and exchanging
a few fashionable nothings at the door, as the footmen let down the steps
of their gay equipages--the other, solemn, stately, and gloomy, and showing
no distinction of rank. The floor covered with kneeling figures--some
enveloped in the reboso, others in the mantilla, and all alike devout, at
least in outward seeming. No showy dress, or gay bonnet, or fashionable
mantle to cause the eye of the poor to wander with envy or admiration.
Apparently considering themselves alike in the sight of Heaven, the peasant
and the marquesa kneel side by side, with little distinction of dress; and
all appear occupied with their own devotions, without observing either
their neighbour's dress or degree of devoutness. Religious feeling may be
equally strong in the frequenters of both places of worship; but as long as
we possess senses which can be affected by external objects, the
probabilities of the most undivided devotional feeling are in favour of the
latter. The eye will wander--the thoughts will follow where it leads. In
the one case it rests on elegant forms and fashionable toilets--in the
other, it sees nothing but a mass of dark and kneeling figures, or a
representation of holy and scriptural subjects.

However, one consequence of the exceeding dirtiness of the Mexican
churches, and the number of leperos who haunt them, as much in the way of
their calling as from devotion, is that a great part of the principal
families here, having oratorios in their houses, have engaged the services
of a padre, and have mass at home. There is a small chapel in the house of
General B---a, the handsomest house in Mexico, where there is a virgin
carved in wood, one of the most exquisite pieces of sculpture that can be
seen. The face is more than angelic--it is divine; but a divine nature,
suffering mortal anguish.

27th.--On the first of February we hope to set off on an expedition to
_tierra caliente,_ from which C---n returned some time ago. We have, by
good fortune, procured an excellent Mexican housekeeper, under whose
auspices everything has assumed a very different aspect, and to whose care
we can intrust the house when we go. Nothing remarkable has occurred here
lately--the usual routine of riding on horseback, visiting in carriage,
walking very rarely in the Alameda, driving in the Paseo, dining at
Tacubaya, the three weekly _soirees,_ varied by a diplomatic dinner in the
house of the ----- Minister, and by the dinner of the English club who met
here yesterday--by a sale of books after dinner, in which the president of
the society fined me five dollars for keeping a stupid old poem past the
time, upon which I _moved_ that the poem should be presented to me, which
was carried _nem_. _con_.

We have been strongly advised not to attempt this journey, and the stories
of robbers and robberies, related by credible persons, are not encouraging.
Robbers, bad roads, horrible heat, poisonous animals; many are the
difficulties prognosticated to us. The season is already rather advanced,
but it has been impossible for us to set off sooner. Our next letters will
be written either during our journey, should we find the opportunity, or
after our return.


Leave Mexico--Cuernavaca--_Tierra Caliente_--_Atlacamulco_--Orange
Groves--Sugar-cane--Annual Produce--Will of Cortes--Description--Coffee
Plantation--Scorpions--List of Venemous Reptiles--_Acapansingo_--Doubts and
Difficulties--A Decision.

ATLACAMULCO, February 2nd.

A quiet day in a hospitable country-house, too sunny to go out, and nothing
else to do, are temptations sufficient to induce me to sit down and give
you an account of our proceedings during these last two days. Yesterday,
the first of February, at four in the morning, very sleepy, we set off in
the diligence which we had taken for ourselves; our sole luggage, two
portmanteaus and a carpet bag; our dresses, dark strong calico gowns, large
Panama hats, rebosos tied on like scarfs, and thick green barege veils. A
government escort of four soldiers with a corporal, renewed four times,
accompanied us as far as Cuernavaca, which is about eighteen leagues from
Mexico, and the entrance as it were to _tierra caliente_. These are
supposed sufficient to frighten away three times the number of robbers,
whose daring, however, has got to such a height, that no diligence now
arrives from Puebla without being robbed. Six robberies have happened there
in the last fortnight, and the road to Cuernavaca is said to be still more
dangerous. We took chocolate before starting, and carried with us a basket
of cold meat and wine, as there is nothing on the road that can be called
an inn. When we set off it was cool, almost cold; the astral lamps were
out, and the great solar lamp was not yet lighted.

"But soon, like lobster boiled, the morn,
From black to red began to turn."

By the time we had reached San Agustin, where we changed horses, the sun
had risen, enabling us to see all the horrors of the road, which, after
leaving that beautiful village with its trees and gardens, winds over the
mountain, amongst great volcanic rocks, a toilsome ascent; and passes by
the village of Ajusco, a miserable robber's nest. Yet the view, as we
looked back from this barren tract, while the sun was breaking over the
summits of the mountains, was very grand in its mixture of fertility and
wildness, in its vast extent of plains and villages with their groves and
gardens, and in its fine view of Mexico itself, white and glittering in the
distance. The mountain of Ajusco, clothed with dark forests of pine,
frowned on our right, and looked worthy of its brigand haunted reputation.
At La Guarda, a collection of miserable huts, we changed horses, and
declined some suspicious-looking frijoles in dirty saucers, which were
offered to us; a proof both that we were young travellers in this country,
and that we had not exhausted our basket of civilized provender.

The road wound round through a succession of rocks and woods till we
reached _Cruz del Marques_--the Marquis being of course Cortes, while the
cross, it is said, was planted there by him to mark the limits of his
territory, or rather of that which the Indian Emperor had assigned him.
About two o'clock the heat became intense, and we began to see and to feel
symptoms of our approach to _tierra caliente_.

We arrived at the Indian village of _Huichilaque_, which is rather pretty,
with cane cottages and a good many flowering trees; and from the eminence
on which it is situated, the _hot land_ is visible.

The diligence now began galloping down the rocky and stony descent. The
country looked even more arid than before; the vegetation more dried up.
Not a tree--but here and there, at long intervals, a feathery cocoa or a
palm, and occasionally some beautiful, unknown wild flowers. But the heat,
the dust, the jolting! When at length we rattled through Cuernavaca, and
stopped before the quiet-looking inn, it was with joy that we bade adieu,
for some time at least, to all diligences, coaches, and carriages; having
to trust for the future to four-legged conveyances, which we can guide as
we please.

Cuernavaca (_cow's horn_), the ancient Quauhnahuac, was one of the thirty
cities which Charles the Fifth gave to Cortes, and afterwards formed part
of the estates of the Duke of Monteleone, representative of the family of
Cortes, as Marquis of the Valley of Oajaca. It was celebrated by the
ancient writers for its beauty, its delightful climate, and the strength of
its situation; defended on one side by steep mountains, and on the other by
a precipitous ravine, through which ran a stream which the Spaniards
crossed by means of two great trees that had thrown their branches across
the barranca, and formed a natural bridge. It was the capital of the
Tlahuica nation, and, after the conquest, Cortes built here a splendid
palace, a church, and a convent of Franciscans, believing that he had laid
the foundation of a great city. And in fact, its delicious climate, the
abundance of the water, the minerals said to exist in the neighbourhood,
its fine trees, delicious fruits, and vicinity to the capital, all combined
to render it a flourishing city. It is, however, a place of little
importance, though so favoured by nature; and the conqueror's palace is a
half-ruined barrack, though a most picturesque object, standing on a hill,
behind which starts up the great white volcano. There are some good houses,
and the remains of the church which Cortes built, celebrated for its bold
arch; but we were too tired to walk about much, and waited most anxiously
for the arrival of horses and men from the sugar estate of Don Anselmo
Zurutuza, at Atlacamulco; where we were to pass the night. The house where
the diligence stopped was formerly remarkable for the fine garden attached
to it, and belonged to a wealthy proprietor. We sat down amongst the fruit
trees, by the side of a clear tank, and waited there till the arrival of
our horses and guides. It was nearly dusk when they came--the sun had gone
down, the evening was cool and agreeable, and after much kicking and
spurring and loading of mules and barking of dogs, we set off over hill and
dale, through pretty wild scenery, as far as we could distinguish by the
faint light, climbing hills and crossing streams for two leagues; till at
length the fierce fires, pouring from the sugar oven chimneys of
Atlacamulco, gave us notice that we were near our haven for the night. We
galloped into the courtyard, amongst dogs and negroes and Indians, and were
hospitably received by the administrador (the agent). Greatly were we
divided between sleep and hunger; but hunger gained the victory, and an
immense smoking supper received our most distinguished attention.

This morning, after a refreshing sleep, we rose and dressed at eight
o'clock--late hours for _tierra caliente_--and then went out into the
coffee plantation and orange walk. Anything so lovely! The orange-trees
were covered with their golden fruit and fragrant blossom; the lemon-trees,
bending over, formed a natural arch, which the sun could not pierce. We
laid ourselves down on the soft grass, contrasting this day with the
preceding. The air was soft and balmy, and actually heavy with the
fragrance of the orange blossom and starry jasmine. All round the orchard
ran streams of the most delicious clear water, trickling with sweet music,
and now and then a little cardinal, like a bright red ruby, would perch on
the trees. We pulled bouquets of orange blossom, jasmines, lilies, double
red roses, and lemon leaves, and wished we could have transported them to
you, to those lands where winter is now wrapping the world in his white

The gardener, or coffee-planter--such a gardener!--Don Juan by name, with
an immense black beard, Mexican hat, and military sash of crimson silk,
came to offer us some orangeade; and having sent to the house for sugar and
tumblers, pulled the oranges from the trees, and drew the water from a
clear tank overshadowed by blossoming branches, and cold as though it had
been iced. There certainly is no tree more beautiful than the orange, with
its golden fruit, shining green leaves and lovely white blossom with so
delicious a fragrance. We felt this morning as if Atlacamulco was an
earthly paradise.

It belongs in fact to the Duke of Monteleone, and is let by his agent, Don
Luis Alaman, to Senor Zurutuza. Its average annual produce of silver is
about thirty thousand _arrobas_, (an arroba containing twenty-five pounds).
The sugar-cane was unknown to the ancient Mexicans, who made syrup of
honey, and also from the maguey, and sugar from the stalk of maize. The
sugar-cane was introduced by the Spaniards from the Canary Islands to Santo
Domingo, from whence it passed to Cuba and Mexico. The first sugar-canes
were planted in 1520, by Don Pedro de Atienza. The first cylinders were
constructed by Gonzalo de Velosa, and the first sugar mills built by the
Spaniards at that time were worked by hydraulic wheels and not by horses.
M. de Humboldt, who examined the will of Cortes, informs us that the
conqueror had left sugar plantations near Cuyoacan, in the valley of
Mexico, where now, owing, it is supposed, to the cutting down of the trees,
the cold is too great for sugar-cane or any other tropical production to
thrive. There are few negroes on these sugar plantations. Their numbers
have not increased since their introduction. We observed but one old negro,
said to be upwards of a hundred, who was working in the courtyard as we
passed; the generality of the workmen are Indians.

As for the interior of these haciendas, they are all pretty much alike, so
far as we have seen; a great stone building, which is neither farm nor
country-house (according to our notions), but has a character peculiar to
itself--solid enough to stand a siege, with floors of painted brick, large
deal tables, wooden benches, painted chairs, and whitewashed walls; one or
two painted or iron bedsteads, only put up when wanted; numberless empty
rooms; kitchen and outhouses; the courtyard a great square, round which
stand the house for boiling the sugar, whose furnaces blaze day and night;
the house, with machinery for extracting the juice from the cane, the
refining rooms, the places where it is dried, etc., all on a large scale.
If the hacienda is, as here, a coffee plantation also, then there is the
great mill for separating the beans from the chaff, and sometimes also
there are buildings where they make brandy. Here there are four hundred men
employed, exclusive of boys, one hundred horses, and a number of mules. The
property is generally very extensive, containing the fields of sugar-cane,
plains for cattle, and the pretty plantations of coffee, so green and
spring-like, this one containing upwards of fifty thousand young plants,
all fresh and vigorous, besides a great deal of uncultivated ground,
abandoned to the deer and hares and quails, of which there are great
abundance. For four months in the year, _tierra caliente_ must be a
paradise, and it has the advantage over the coasts, in being quite free
from yellow fever. But the heat in summer, and the number of poisonous
insects, are great drawbacks. Of these, the _alacrans_, or scorpions, which
haunt all the houses, are amongst the worst. Their bite is poisonous, and,
to a child, deadly, which is one of the many reasons why these estates are
left entirely to the charge of an agent, and though visited occasionally by
the proprietor, rarely lived in by the family. The effects are more or less
violent in different constitutions. Some persons will remain for eight days
in convulsions, foaming at the mouth, and the stomach swelled, as if by
dropsy; others, by immediate remedies, do not suffer much. The chief cures
are brandy, taken in sufficient quantities to stupefy the patient, guyacum
and boiled silk, which last is considered most efficacious. In Durango they
are particularly numerous and venomous, so that a reward in given for so
many _head_ of scorpions to the boys there, to encourage them to destroy
them. The Senora -----, who lives there, feels no inconvenience from their
bite, but the scorpion who bites her immediately dies! It is pretended that
they prefer dark people to fair, which is to suppose them very
discriminating. Though as yet there have been few seen in the houses, I
must confess that we feel rather uneasy at night, and scrupulously examine
our beds and their environs before venturing to go to sleep. The walls
being purposely whitewashed, it is not difficult to detect them; but where
the roofs are formed of beams, they are very apt to drop through.

There are other venomous reptiles, for whose sting there is no remedy, and
if you would like to have a list of these interesting creatures, according
to the names by which they are known in these parts, I can furnish you with
one from the best authority. These, however, are generally to be found
about outhouses, and only occasionally visit your apartments. There is the
_chicaclina_, a striped viper, of beautiful colours--the _coralillo_, a
viper of a coral colour, with a black head--the _vinagrillo_, an animal
like a large cricket. You can discover it, when in the room, by its strong
smell of vinegar. It is orange-coloured, and taps upon the person whom it
crawls over, without giving any pain, but leaving a long train of deadly
poison--I have fancied that I smelt vinegar in every room since hearing
this--the _salamanquesa_, whose bite is fatal: it is shaped like a
lizard--the _eslaboncillo_, which throws itself upon you, and if prevented
from biting you, dies of spite--the _cencoatl_, which has five feet, and
shines in the dark; so that fortunately a warning is given of the vicinity
of these animals in different ways; in some by the odour they exhale, in
some by the light they emit, and in others, like the rattlesnake, by the
sound they give out.

Then there is a beautiful black and red spider, called the _chinclaquili_,
whose sting sends a pain through all your bones; the only cure for which is
to be shut up for several days in a room thick with smoke. There are also
the _tarantula_ and _casampulga_ spiders. Of the first, which is a
shocking-looking soft fat creature, covered with dark hair, it is said that
the horse which treads on it instantly loses its hoof--but this wants
confirmation. Of the scorpions, the small yellowish coloured ones are the
most dangerous, and it is pretended that their bite is most to be
apprehended at midday. The workmen occasionally eat them, after pulling out
the sting. The flesh of the viper is also eaten roasted, as a remedy
against eruptions of the skin. Methinks the remedy is worse than the

But to banish this _creeping_ subject, which seems not at all in unison
with the lovely scenes that surround us--an Eden where no serpent should
enter--we have been riding this evening to a beautiful little Indian
village called _Acapansingo_, than which I never beheld anything prettier
in its way. Some few houses there are of stone, but the generality are of
cane, and each cottage is surrounded by its fruit-trees, and by others
covered with lilac or white blossoms, and twined with creepers. The lanes
or streets of the village are cleanly swept, and shaded by the blossoming
branches that overhang them; while every now and then they are crossed by
little streams of the purest water. I think I never knew what really
delicious water was till I came here. The Indians, both men and women,
looked clean, and altogether this is the prettiest Indian village we have
yet seen.

As we are very anxious to visit the celebrated cave of Cacauamilpa, near
the city of Cautlamilpa, and also to see as much of _tierra caliente_ as
possible, we have determined, though with regret, to leave our present
quarters at Atlacamulto to-morrow morning, at two o'clock A.M. As there are
no inns, we are furnished with letters of recommendation to the proprietors
of the chief haciendas in these parts. Formerly there was so much
hospitality here, that an annual sum (three thousand dollars it is said)
was assigned by the proprietors to their agents, for the reception of
travellers, whether rich or poor, and whether recommended or not....

Our plan of visiting the cave has been nearly frustrated by the arrival of
General C---s, a neighbouring proprietor, who assured us that we were going
to undertake an impossibility; that the barrancas, by which we must pass to
arrive at the cave, were impassable for women, the mountain paths being so
steep and perpendicular, that men and horses had frequently fallen
backwards in the ascent, or been plunged forward over the precipices, in
attempting to descend. We were in despair, when it was suggested that there
was another, though much longer road to the cave, by which we might ride;
and though our time is at present very precious, we were too glad to agree
to this compromise.

C---n and A---- have returned from a shooting expedition, in which they
have not been very successful; and though I have only recounted to you the
beginning of our adventures, I must stop here, and take a few hours' rest
before we set off on our _matinal_ expedition.


Leave _Atlacamulco_--Assemble by Starlight--Balmy Atmosphere--Flowers and
Trees of the Tropics--The Formidable _Barrancas_--_Breakfast under the
Trees_--Force of the Sun--_Meacatlan_--Hospitality--Profitable
Estate--Leave Meacatlan--Beautiful Village--Musical Bells--Ride by
Moonlight--Sugar Fires--Cocoyotla--_Old Gentleman_--Supper--Orange-trees
and Cocoas--Delicious Water--Sugar Estates--A Scorpion--Set off for the
Cave--Morning Ride--Dangerous Path

Cocoyotla, 5th.

On the morning of the third of February we rose about half-past two, and a
little after three, by the light of the stars and the blaze of the sugar
fires, our whole party were assembled on horseback in the courtyard. We
were about twelve in number. Don Juan, the coffee-planter, and Don Pedro, a
friend of his, were deputed by the agent to act as our guides. Four or five
well-armed _mozos_, farmservants, were our escort, together with our
Mexican boy; and we had mules to carry our luggage, which was compressed
into the smallest possible compass. The morning was perfectly enchanting,
and the air like balm, when we set off by this uncertain light; not on
roads (much to our satisfaction), but through fields, and over streams, up
hills and down into valleys, climbing among stones, the horses picking
their way like goats. I certainly never felt or imagined such an
atmosphere. The mere inhaling it was sufficient pleasure.

When the light gradually began to dawn, so that we could discern each
other's faces, and made sure that we were not a party of shadows, for
besides the obscurity, a mixture of sleepiness and placid delight had
hitherto kept us all silent, we looked round on the landscape, as little by
little it assumed form and consistency. The fires from the hacienda were
still visible, but growing pale in the beams of morning, vanishing like
false visions from before the holy light of truth. As we rode along, we
found that the scenery on the hilly parts was generally bleak and sterile,
the grass dried up, and very little vegetation; but wherever we arrived at
a valley sheltered from the sun's rays, there we found a little rivulet
trickling through it, with water like liquid diamonds, bathing the trees
and the flowers--the loveliest blossoming trees, mingled with bananas,
oranges, and lemons, and interspersed with bright flowers, forming a
natural garden and orchard.

One tree, with no leaves on it, is covered with white starry flowers, and
looks at a distance as if it had been covered with snow, which had melted
off the branches, leaving only occasional white tufts. Another is bending
with lilac blossoms, which hang in graceful clusters--another with flowers
like yellow balls. Then there are scarlet wild flowers, that seem as if
they were made of wax or shining coral, and quantities of white jasmine,
trailing on the grass, and throwing itself over the branches of the trees.
There is one beautiful tree, with flowers like immense white lilies, and
buds that look like shut lily blossoms in white wax.

Leaving these beautiful and fertile lands that adorn the slopes and bases
of the hills, you mount again up the steep paths, and again you find the
grass dried up, and no vegetation but stunted nopals or miserable-looking
blue-green magueys. Yet sometimes in the most desert spot, a little
sheltered by a projecting hill, you come upon the most beautiful tree,
bending with rich blossoms, standing all alone, as if through ambition it
had deserted its lowly sisters in the valley, and stood, in its exalted
station, solitary and companionless.

As for the names of these tropical trees, they are almost all Indian, and
it is only _botanically_ that they can be properly distinguished. There is
the _floripundio_, with white odoriferous flowers hanging like bells from
its branches, with large pointed pale-green leaves--the _yollojochitl_,
signifying flower of the heart, like white stars with yellow hearts, which
when shut have the form of one, and the fragrance of which is
delicious--the _isgujochitl_, whose flowers look like small white
musk-roses--another with a long Indian name, and which means the flower of
the raven, and is white, red, and yellow. The Indians use it to adorn their
altars, and it is very fragrant as well as beautiful.

After six hours'good riding, our guides pointed out to us the formidable
barrancas at some distance, and expressed their opinion, that, with great
caution, our horses being very sure-footed, we might venture to pass them,
by which means we should save three leagues, and be enabled to reach an
hacienda within six leagues of the cave that night; and after some
deliberation, it was agreed that the attempt should be made. These
barrancas (the word literally means a ravine or mountain gully) are two
mountains, one behind the other, which it is necessary to cross by a narrow
path, that looks like a road for goats. We began the ascent in silence, and
some fear, one by one till the horses were nearly perpendicular. It lasted
about twenty minutes; and we then began to descend slowly, certainly not
without some danger of being thrown over our horses' heads. However, we
arrived in safety at the end of the first mountain, and this being
accomplished, drew up to rest our horses and mules beside a beautiful clear
stream, bordered by flowering trees. Here some clear-headed individual of
the party proposed that we should open our hamper, containing cold chicken,
hand eggs, sherry, etc.; observing, that it was time to be hungry. His
suggestion was agreed to without a dissenting voice, and a napkin being
spread under a shady tree, no time was lost in proving the truth of his
observation. A very ingenious contrivance for making a wine-glass, by
washing an egg-shell in the stream, is worthy of record. When we had
demolished the cold chicken, the mozos surrounded the cold meat, and after
gathering branches covered with beautiful flowers, with which we ornamented
our horses' heads and our own hats, we prepared to ascend the second
mountain. This is as steep, or nearly as steep as the first; but we were
already confident in the sure-footedness of our horses, and even able to
admire the view as we ascended single file. After much rain, this path must
of course be completely impassable. The day had now become oppressively
warm, though it was not later than eleven o'clock; and having passed the
hills, we came to a dusty high-road, which, about twelve, brought us to the
hacienda of Meacatlan, belonging to the family of Perez Palacio. We were
overtaken on the road by the eldest son of the proprietor, who cordially
invited us in, and introduced us to the ladies of his family, and to his
father, a fine, noble-looking old gentleman. As we were excessively tired,
hot, and dusty, we were very glad to spend a few hours here during the heat
of the sun; and after joining the family at breakfast, consisting of the
most extraordinary variety of excellent dishes, with a profusion of fine
fruits and curious sweetmeats (amongst which was that ethereal-looking
production, called _angel's hair, cabella de angel_), we were glad to lie
down and rest till four o'clock.

This hacienda is very productive and valuable, and has a silver mine on it.

There is also every variety of fine fruit, especially the largest _cedrats_
I ever saw; which, although they have not a great deal of flavour, are very
refreshing. With all their beauty and fertility, there is something very
lonely in a residence on these estates, which are so entirely shut out of
the world; not so much for the proprietors themselves, who are occupied in
the care of their interests, but for the female part of the family.

We left this hospitable mansion about four o'clock, rested and refreshed,
the proprietor giving K---- a horse of his, instead of her own, which was
tired. The sun was still powerful, when we and our train remounted, but the
evening had become delightfully cool, by the time that we had reached the
beautiful village of San Francisco de Tetecala, lying amongst wooded hills,
its white houses gleaming out from amidst the orange-trees, with a small
river crossed by bridges running through it. Many of the houses were
tolerably large and well built. It was a fete-day, and the musical bells
ringing merrily; the people were clean and well dressed, and were assembled
in crowds in an enclosure, looking at a bull-fight, which must be hot work
in this climate, both for man and beast.

But when the moon rose serenely, and without a cloud, and a soft breeze,
fragrant with orange blossom, blew gently over the trees, I felt as if we
might have rode on for ever, without fatigue, and in a state of the most
perfect enjoyment. It were hard to say whether the first soft breath of
morning, or the languishing and yet more fragrant airs of evening were most
enchanting. Sometimes we passed through a village of scattered Indian huts,
with little fires of sticks lighted in their courts, glowing on the bronze
faces of the women and children; and at the sound of our horses' hoofs, a
chorus of dogs, yelping with most discordant fury, would give us loud
notice of their total disapprobation of all night travellers. Sometimes a
decided smell of boiled sugar was mingled with the fragrance of the orange
blossom and jasmine; reminding us of those happy days of yore, when the
housekeeper in all her glory, was engaged in making her annual stock of
jellies and jams.

Once we were obliged to dismount, that our horses might make an _ugly leap_
over a great ditch guarded by thorny bushes, and amongst trees where the
moon gave us no light.

About ten o'clock symptoms of weariness began to break out amongst us,
spite of moonbeams and orange-buds; when down in a valley we saw the sugar
fires of _Cocoyotla_, the hacienda to which we trusted for our next place
of shelter, darting out their fierce red tongues amongst the trees. We
knocked for admittance at the great gate, and it was some time before the
people within would undo the fastenings, which they did with great caution,
and after carefully reconnoitring us; afterwards giving for excuse, that a
party of thirty robbers had passed by the night before, and that they
thought we might have been some of these _night-errants_. We sent in our
credentials to the proprietor, an old gentleman married to a young wife,
who, living on the road to the cave, is by no means pleased at his house
being turned into a posada for all and sundry, and complained bitterly of a
party of Englishmen who had passed by some time before, "and the only
_Spanish_ word they could say, was _Vater_, by which they meant _Agua_,
Caramba!" However, he was very hospitable to us, and pressed us to remain
there the following day, and rest ourselves and our horses after our
fourteen leagues march, previous to going on to the cave.

A very good supper and a very sound sleep were refreshing, and the whole of
the next day we spent in wandering about or sitting lazily amongst the
magnificent orange-trees and cocoas of this fine hacienda. Here the
orange-trees are the loftiest we had yet seen; long ranges of noble trees,
loaded with fruit and flowers. At the back of the house is a small grove of
cocoas, and a clear running stream passing through beautiful flowers, and
refreshing everything in its course. Indeed all through _tierra caliente_,
except on the barren hills, there is a profusion of the most delicious
water, here at once a necessity and a luxury.

These sugar estates are under high cultivation, the crops abundant, the
water always more than sufficient both for the purposes of irrigation and
for machinery, which A---- considers equal to anything he has seen in
Jamaica. They produce annually from thirty to fifty thousand _arrobas_ of
sugar. The labourers are free Indians, and are paid from two and a half to
six and a half reals per day. I believe that about one hundred and fifty
are sufficient for working on a large estate. Bountiful nature, walking on
the traces of civil war, fills up the ravages caused by sanguinary
revolutions, and these estates in the valley of Cuernavaca, which have so
frequently been theatres of bloodshed, and have so often changed
proprietors, remain in themselves as fertile and productive as ever.

In the evening we visited the _trapiche_, as they call the sugar-works, the
sugar-boilers, warehouses, store-rooms, and engines. The heat is so intense
among these great boilers, that we could not endure it for more than a few
minutes, and pitied the men who have to spend their lives in this work.
They make _panoja_ on this estate, cakes of coarse sugar, which the common
people prefer to the refined sugar.

Just as we were preparing to retire for the night, an animal on the wall
attracted our attention, close by K----'s bed--and, gentle reader! it was a
scorpion! We gave a simultaneous cry, which brought Senor ----- into the
room, who laughed at our fears, and killed our foe; when lo! just as our
fright had passed away, another, a yellowish-coloured, venomous-looking
creature, appeared stealing along the wall. The lady of the house came this
time, and ordered the room and the beds to be searched. No more could be
discovered, but it was difficult to sleep in peace after such an

At three the next morning we rose, and set off by moon and starlight for
the cave. The morning was lovely as usual, and quite cool. We passed a
great deal of barren and hilly road, till we reached some plains, where we
had a delightful gallop, and arrived early at a small rancho, or farmhouse,
where we were to procure guides for the cave. Here we added four Indians,
and the master of the house, _Benito_, to our party, which was afterwards
increased by numbers of men and boys, till we formed a perfect regiment.
This little rancho, with its small garden, was very clean and neat. The
woman of the house told us she had seen no ladies since an English
_Ministra_ had slept there two nights. We concluded that this must have
been Mrs. Ashburnham, who spent two days in exploring the cave. We
continued our ride over loose stones, and dry, rocky hills, where, were the
horses not sure-footed, and used to climb, the riders' necks would no doubt
suffer. Within about a quarter of a mile of the cave, after leaving on our
right the pretty village of Cautlamilpas, we found ourselves in a place
which I consider much more dangerous than even the barrancas near
_Meacatlan_; a narrow path, overhanging a steep precipice, and bordering a
perpendicular hill, with just room for the horses' feet, affording the
comfortable assurance that one false step would precipitate you to the
bottom. I confess to having held my breath, as one by one, and step by
step, no one looking to the right or the left, our gowns occasionally
catching on a bush, with our whole train we wound slowly down this narrow
descent. Arrived near the mouth of the cave, we dismounted, and climbed our
way among stones and gravel to the great mountain opening. But an account
of the cave itself must be reserved till our return to Atlacamulco.


Cave of _Cacahuamilpa_--Superstition--Long-bearded Goat--Portal--
Vestibule--Fantastic Forms--Breakfast--Pine Torches--Noble Hall--
Stalactites and Stalagmites--Egyptian Pyramids--Double Gallery--Wonderful
Formations--Corridor--Frozen Landscape--Amphitheatre--World in Chaos--
Skeleton--Wax Lights--Hall of Angels--Return--Distant Light--Indian
Alcalde--_Cautlamilpas_--Rancho--Return to Cocoyotla--Chapel--Meacatlan--
Eclipse of the Moon--Benighted Travellers--Indian Village--_El Puente_--
Return to _Atlacamulco_.


The cave of Cacahuamilpa, whose actual wonders equal the fabled
descriptions of the palaces of Genii, was, until lately, known to the
Indians alone, or if the Spaniards formerly knew anything about it, its
existence was forgotten amongst them. But although in former days it may
have been used as a place of worship, a superstitious fear prevented the
more modern Indians from exploring its shining recesses, for here it was
firmly believed the evil spirit had his dwelling, and in the form of a
goat, with long beard and horns, guarded the entrance of the cave. The few
who ventured there and beheld this apparition, brought back strange tales
to their credulous companions, and even the neighbourhood of the enchanted
cave was avoided, especially at nightfall.

The chain of mountains, into whose bosom it leads, is bleak and bare, but
the ravine below is refreshed by a rapid stream, that forms small
waterfalls as it tumbles over the rocks, and is bordered by green and
flowering trees. Amongst these, is one with a smooth, satin-like bark, of a
pale golden colour, whose roots have something snakish and witch-like in
their appearance, intertwining with each other, grappling as it were with
the hard rock, and stretching out to the most extraordinary distance.

We arrived at the entrance of the cave, a superb portal, upwards of seventy
feet high, and one hundred and fifty wide, according to the computation of
a learned traveller--the rocks which support the great arch so
symmetrically disposed as to resemble a work of art. The sun was already
high in the heavens, shining with intense brightness on the wild scenery
that surrounded us, the rocks and trees and rushing waters; a sensation of
awe came over us as we stood at the mouth of the cave, and, turning from
day to night, strained our eyes to look down a deep descent into a gigantic
vaulted hall, faintly lighted by the red embers of a fire which the Indians
had kindled near the entrance. We made our way down a declivity of, it may
be, one hundred and fifty feet, surrounded by blocks of stone and rock, and
remained lost in astonishment at finding ourselves in this gloomy
subterranean palace, surrounded by the most extraordinary, gigantic, and
mysterious forms, which it is scarcely possible to believe are the
fantastic productions of the water which constantly trickles from the roof.

I am shocked to confess it--I would prefer passing it over--but we had
tasted nothing that morning, and we had rode for eight hours, and were
dying of hunger! Moreover we travelled with a cook, a very tolerable native
artist, but without sentiment--his heart in his stew-pan; and he, without
the least compunction, had begun his frying and broiling operations in what
seemed the very vestibule of Pharaoh's palace. Our own _mozos_ and our
Indian guides were assisting in its operations with the utmost zeal; and in
a few minutes, some sitting round the fire, and others upon broken
pyramids, we refreshed ourselves with fried chicken, bread, and hard eggs,
before proceeding farther on our exploring expedition. Unromantic as this
proceeding was, we looked, Indians and all, rather awful, with no other
light than the ruddy glare of the fire, flickering upon the strange,
gigantic forms in that vast labyrinth; and as to what we felt, our valour
and strength of mind were increased sevenfold.

Twenty-four huge pine torches were then lighted, each man carrying one. To
K---- and me were given lighted wax candles, in case by accident any one
should go astray from his companions, and lose his way, as would too
certainly happen, in the different windings and galleries and compartments
of the cave, and be alone in the darkness! We walked on in awe and wonder,
the guides lighting up the sides of the cavern with their torches.
Unfortunately, it is indescribable; as in the fantastic forms of the
clouds, every one sees some different creation of his fancy in these
stupendous masses. It is said that the first _sala_, for travellers have
pretended to divide it into halls, and a very little imagination may do so,
is about two hundred feet long, one hundred and seventy wide, and one
hundred and fifty in height--a noble apartment. The walls are shaded with
different colours of green and orange; great sheets of stalactites hang
from the roof: and white phantoms, palm-trees, lofty pillars, pyramids,
porches, and a thousand other illusions, surround us on all sides. One
figure, concerning which all agree, is a long-haired goat, the Evil One in
that form. But some one has broken the head, perhaps to show the
powerlessness of the enchanted guardian of the cave. Some say that there
are no living animals here, but there is no doubt that there are bats; and
an exploring party, who passed the night here, not only heard the hissing
of the rattlesnake, but were startled by the apparition of a fierce
leopard, whose loud roarings were echoed amongst the vaults, and who, after
gazing at them by the light of the torches, stalked majestically back into
the darkness.

We passed on to the second _sala_, collecting as we went fragments of the
shining stones, our awe and astonishment increasing at every step.
Sometimes we seemed to be in a subterranean Egyptian temple. The
architecture was decidedly Egyptian, and the strange forms of the animals
resembled those of the uncouth Egyptian idols; which, together with the
pyramids and obelisks, made me think, that perhaps that ancient people took
the idea of their architecture and of many of their strange shapes from
some natural cave of this description, just as nature herself suggested the
idea of the beautiful Corinthian pillar.

Again we seemed to enter a tract of country which had been petrified.
Fountains of congealed water, trees hung with frozen moss, pillars covered
with gigantic acanthus leaves, pyramids of ninety feet high losing their
lofty heads in the darkness of the vault, and looking like works of the
pre-Adamites; yet no being but He who inhabits eternity could have created
them. This second hall, as lofty as the other, may be nearly four hundred
feet in length.

We then passed into a sort of double gallery, separated by enormous
pyramidal formations--_stalagmites_, those which are formed by water
dropping on the earth. The ground was damp, and occasionally great drops
trickled on our heads from the vaults above. Here Gothic shrines, odd
figures; some that look like mummies, others like old men with long beards,
appall us like figures that we see in some wild dream. These are
intermingled with pyramids, obelisks, baths that seem made of the purest
alabaster, etc. A number of small round balls, petrifactions of a dead
white, lie about here, forming little hollows in the ground. Here the cave
is very wide--about two hundred feet, it is said.

When we left this double gallery, we came to another vast corridor,
supported by lofty pillars, covered with creeping plants, but especially
with a row of the most gigantic cauliflowers, each leaf delicately
chiseled, and looking like a fitting food for the colossal dwellers of the
cavern. But to attempt anything like a regular description is out of the
question. We gave ourselves up to admiration, as our torches flashed upon
the masses of rock, the hills crowned with pyramids, the congealed torrents
that seem to belong to winter at the north pole, and the lofty Doric
columns that bring us back to the pure skies of Greece. But amongst all
these curious _accidents_ produced by water, none is more curiously
exquisite than an amphitheatre, with regular benches, surmounted by a great
organ, whose pipes, when struck, give forth a deep sound. It is really
difficult not to believe that some gigantic race once amused themselves in
these petrified solitudes, or that we have not invaded the sanctuary of
some mysterious and superhuman beings. It is said that this cavern has been
explored for four leagues, and yet that no exit has been discovered. As for
us, I do not know how far we went: our guides said a league. It seemed
impossible to think of time when we looked at these great masses, formed
drop by drop, slowly and rarely and at distant intervals falling, and
looked back upon the ages that must have elapsed since these gigantic
formations began.

At length, on account of the loose stones, the water, and the masses of
crystal rock that we had to climb over, our guides strongly recommended us
to return. It was difficult to turn away our eyes from the great unformed
masses that now seemed to fill the cave as far as the eye could reach. It
looked like the world in chaos--nature's vast workshop, from which she drew
the materials which her hand was to reduce to form and order. We retraced
our steps slowly and lingeringly through these subterranean palaces,
feeling that one day was not nearly sufficient to explore them, yet
thankful that we had not left the country without seeing them. The skeleton
of a man was discovered here by some travellers, lying on his side, the
head nearly covered with crystallization. He had probably entered these
labyrinths alone, either from rash curiosity or to escape from pursuit;
lost his way and perished from hunger. Indeed to find the way back to the
entrance of the cave is nearly impossible, without some clue to guide the
steps amongst these winding galleries, halls, and issues and entries, and
divided corridors.

Though there are some objects so striking that they may immediately be
recognised, such as the amphitheatre for instance, there is a monotony even
in the variety! and I can imagine the unfortunate man wandering amongst
obelisks and pyramids and alabaster baths and Grecian columns--amongst
frozen torrents that could not assuage his thirst, and trees with marble
fruit and foliage, and crystal vegetables that mocked his hunger: and pale
phantoms with long hair and figures in shrouds, that could not relieve his
distress--and then his cries for help, where the voice gives out an echo,
as if all the pale dwellers in the cave answered in mockery--and then, his
torch becoming extinguished, and he lying down exhausted and in despair
near some inhospitable marble porch, to die.

As we went along, our guides had climbed up and placed wax candles on the
top of all the highest points, so that their pale glimmering light pointed
out the way to us on our return. The Indians begged they might be left
there "on account of the blessed souls in purgatory," which was done. As we
returned, we saw one figure we had not observed before, which looks
something like a woman mounted on an enormous goat. To one hall, on account
of its beauty, some travellers have given the name of the "Hall of Angels."
It is said that, by observation, the height of the stalagmites might
determine the age of their formation, but where is the enterprising
geologist who would shut himself up in these crystal solitudes sufficiently
long for correct observation?

I never saw or could have imagined so beautiful an effect as that of the
daylight in the distance, entering by the mouth of the cave; such a faint
misty blue, contrasted with the fierce red light of the torches, and broken
by the pillars through which its pale rays struggled. It looked so pure and
holy, that it seemed like the light from an angel's wings at the portals of
the "_citta dolente_." What would that poor traveller have given to have
seen its friendly rays! After climbing out and leaving the damp, cool
subterraneous air, the atmosphere felt dry and warm, as we sat down to rest
at the mouth of the cavern, surrounded by our Indian torch-bearers. Truly,
nature is no coquette. She adorns herself with greater riches in the
darkest mountain cave, than on the highest mountain top.

We were sitting in thoughtful silence, ourselves, Indians and all, in a
circle, when we saw, stumping down the hill, in great haste, and apparently
in great wrath, an Indian alcalde, with a thick staff in his hand, at whose
approach the Indians looked awe-struck. He carried in his brown hand a
large letter, on which was written in great type; "_Al Senor dominante de
esta caravana de gente_." "To the Commander of this caravan of people!"
This missive set forth that the justice of peace of the city of Cuautla
Amilpas, begged to know by what right, by whose authority, and with what
intentions we had entered this cave, without permission from government;
and desired the "_Senor dominante_" to appear forthwith before the said
justice for contempt of his authority. The spelling of the letter was too
amusing. The Indians looked very much alarmed, and when they saw us laugh,
still more astonished. C---n wrote with a pencil in answer to the summons,
that he was the Spanish Minister, and wished good day to the alcalde, who
plodded up the hill again, very ill pleased.

We now took leave of this prodigious subterranean palace, and again put
ourselves _en route_. Once more we wound our way round the brink of the
precipice, and this time it was more dangerous for us than before, for we
rode on the side next it, our gowns overhanging the brink, and if caught by
a branch there, might have been dragged over. Our two guides afterwards
said that if alone, they would have dismounted; but that as the ladies said
nothing, they did not like to propose it.

Some day, no doubt, this cave will become a show-place, and measures will
be taken to render the approach to it less dangerous; but as yet, one of
its charms consists in its being unhackneyed. For, long after, its
recollection rests upon the mind, like a marble dream. But, like Niagara,
it cannot be described; perhaps even it is more difficult to give an idea
of this underground creation, than of the emperor of cataracts; for there
is nothing with which the cave can be compared.

Meanwhile, we had rather a disagreeable ride, in all the force of the sun's
last rays, back to the rancho. No one spoke--all our thoughts were
wandering amongst marble palaces, and uncouth, gigantic, half-human forms.

But our attention was again attracted by the sudden reappearance of our
friend, the alcalde, on the brow of the hill, looking considerably
indignant. He came with a fresh summons from the judge of Cuautla Amilpas,
which lay white and glittering in the valley below. C---n endeavoured
gravely to explain to him that the persons of ambassadors were not subject
to such laws, which was Greek and Hebrew to him of the bronze countenance.
"If it were a _Consul_ indeed, there might be something in that." At last
our guide, the ranchero, promised to call upon the judge in the evening,
and explain the matter to his satisfaction; and again our alcalde departed
upon his bootless errand--bootless in every sense, as he stalked down the
hill with his bare bronze supporters. As we passed along, a parcel of
soldiers in the village were assembled in haste, who struck up an imposing
military air, to give us some idea of their importance.

Politically speaking, Cuautla Amilpas has been the theatre of important
events. It was there that the curate Morelos shut himself up with a troop
of insurgents, until the place being besieged by the Spaniards under
Calleja, and the party of Morelos driven to extremity for want of food, he
secretly abandoned his position, drawing off his forces in the night.

When we arrived at the rancho, we found that a message had come from the
judge, prohibiting Don Benito from accompanying strangers to the cave in
future, which would be hard upon the old man, who makes a little money by
occasionally guiding strangers there. C---n has therefore written on the
subject to the _prefect_ of the department.

In the cool of the evening, we had a delightful ride to Cocoyotla. The air
was soft and fragrant--the bells of the villages were ringing amongst the
trees, for every village, however poor, has at least one fine church, and
all the bells in Mexico, whether in the city or in the villages, have a
mellow and musical sound, owing, it is said, to the quantity of silver that
enters into their composition.

It was late when we arrived at Cocoyotla, but we did not go to rest without
visiting the beautiful chapel, which we had omitted to do on our last
visit; it is very rich in gilding and ornaments, very large and in good
taste. We supped, and threw ourselves down to rest for a few hours, and set
off again at three o'clock, by the light of a full moon. Our greatest
difficulty in these hurried marches is to get our things in and out of our
portmanteaus, and to dress in time in the dark. No looking-glasses of
course--we arrange our hair by our imagination. Everything gets broken, as
you may suppose; the mules that carry our trunks cantering up and down the
hills to keep up with us, in most unequal measure.

The moon was still high, though pale, when the sun rose, like a youthful
monarch impatient to take the reins from the hands of a mild and dying
queen. We had a delightful gallop, and soon left the fires of Cocoyotla far
behind us. After riding six leagues, we arrived at six in the morning at
the house of the Perez Palacios. We should have gone further while it was
cool; but their hospitality, added to a severe fit of toothache which had
attacked C---n, induced us to remain till four o'clock, during which time
we improved our acquaintance with the family. How strange and even
melancholy are those glimpses which travellers have of persons whom they
will probably never meet again; with whom they form an intimacy, which
owing to peculiar circumstances seems very like friendship--much nearer it
certainly, than many a long acquaintanceship which we form in great cities,
and where the parties go on _knowing each other_ from year to year, and
never exchanging more than a mere occasional and external civility.

It was four o'clock when we left Meacatlan, and we rode hard and fast till
it grew nearly dark, for our intention was to return to our head-quarters
at Atlacamulco that night, and we had a long journey before us, especially
as it was decided that we should by no means attempt to recross the
barrancas by night, which would have been too dangerous. Besides an eclipse
of the moon was predicted, and in fact, as we were riding across the
fields, she appeared above the horizon, half in shadow, a curious and
beautiful spectacle. But we should have been thankful for her entire beams,
for after riding for hours we discovered that we had lost our way, and
worse still, that there were no hopes of our finding it. Not a hut was in
sight--darkness coming on--nothing but great plains and mountains to be
distinguished, and nothing to be heard but bulls roaring round us. We went
on, trusting to chance, and where chance would have led us it is hard to
say; but by good fortune our advanced guard stumbled over two Indians, a
man and a boy, who agreed to guide us to their own village, but nowhere

After following them a long and weary way, all going at a pretty brisk
trot, the barking of hundreds of dogs announced an Indian village, and by
the faint light we could just distinguish the cane huts snugly seated
amongst bananas and with little enclosed gardens before each. Our cavalcade
drew up before a hut, a sort of tavern or spirit-shop, where an old
half-naked hag, the _beau ideal_ of a witch, was distributing _fire-water_
to the Indians, most of whom were already drunk. We got off our horses and
threw ourselves down on the ground too tired to care what they were doing,
and by some means a cup of bad chocolate was procured for us. We found that
we had entirely lost our way, and it was therefore agreed, that instead of
attempting to reach Atlacamulco that night, we should ride to the village
of el Puente, where our conductors knew a Spanish family of bachelor
brothers, who would be glad to _harbour_ us for the remainder of the night.
We then remounted and set off somewhat refreshed by our rest and by the bad

It was late at night when we entered el Puente, after having crossed in
pitch darkness a river so deep that the horses were nearly carried off
their feet; yet they were dancing in one place, playing cards on the ground
in another, dogs were barking as usual, and candles lighted in the Indian
huts. We were very well received by the Spaniards, who gave us supper and
made us take their room, all the rest of the party sleeping upon mattresses
placed on the floor of a large empty apartment. We slept a few hours very
soundly, rose before daylight, wakened the others, who, lying on the
ground, rolled up in their sarapes, seemed to be sleeping for a wager, and
remounted our horses, not sorry at the prospect of a day's rest at
Atlacamulco. It was dark when we set off; but the sun had risen and had
lighted up the bright green fields of sugar-cane, and the beautiful
coffee-plantations that look like flowering myrtles, by the time we reached
the hacienda of Senor Neri del Barrio, whose family is amongst the most
distinguished of the old _Spanish Mexican_ stock. We stopped to take a
tumbler of milk fresh from the cow; declined an invitation to go in, as we
were anxious to finish our journey while it was cool; and after a hard ride
galloped into the courtyard of Atlacamulco, which seemed like returning
home. We spent a pleasant, idle day, lying down and reading while the sun
was high, and in the evening sauntering about under the orange trees. We
concluded with a hot bath.

7th.--Before continuing our journey, we determined to spend one more day
here, which was fortunate, as we received a large packet of letters from
home, forwarded to this place, and we have been reading them, stretched
under the shade of a natural bower formed by orange-boughs, near a clear,
cold tank of water in the garden. To-morrow we shall set off betimes for
the hacienda of Cocoyoc, the property of Don Juan Goriva, with whom C---n
was acquainted in Mexico. After visiting that and some other of the
principal estates, we shall continue our ride to Puebla, and as we shall
pass a few days there, hope to have leisure to write again from that city.


Ride by Starlight--Fear of Robbers--Tropical Wild Flowers--Stout Escort--
_Hautepec_--Hacienda of _Cocoyoc_--A Fire--Three Thousand Orange-trees--
Coffee Mills, etc.--Variety of Tropical Fruits--Prodigality of Nature--
_Casasano_--Celebrated Reservoir--Ride to Santa Clara--A Philosopher--A
Scorpion--Leave Santa Clara--Dangerous _Barranca_--_Colon_--Agreeable
House--Civil _Administrador_--San Nicolas--Solitude--Franciscan Friar--
Rainy Morning--Pink Turban--Arrival at _Atlisco_--Cypress--Department of
Puebla--Volcanoes--Dona Marina--Verses--_Popocatepetl_--Cholula--Great
Pyramid--Arrival at Puebla.

On the 9th of February we took leave of Atlacamulco and the hospitable
administrador, and our party being diminished by the absence of Don Pedro,
who was obliged to go to Mexico, we set off as usual by starlight, being
warned of various _bad bits_ on the road, where the ladies at least were
advised to dismount. The country was wild and pretty, mountainous and
stony. When the light came in we separated and galloped about in all
directions. The air was cool and laden with sweetness. We came, however, to
a pretty lane, where those of our escort who were in front stopped, and
those who were behind rode up and begged us to keep close together, as for
many leagues the country was haunted by robbers. Guns and pistols being
looked to, we rode on in serried ranks, expecting every moment to hear a
bullet whizz over our heads.

Here were the most beautiful wild flowers we have yet seen; some purple,
white, and rose-colour in one blossom; probably the flower called
_ocelojochitl_, or viper's head, others bright scarlet, others red, with
white and yellow stripes, and with an Indian name, signifying the tiger's
flower; some had rose-coloured blossoms, others were of the purest white.

We came at last to a road over a mountain, about as bad as anything we had
yet seen. Our train of horses and mules, and men in their Mexican dresses,
looked very picturesque winding up and down these steep crags; and here
again, forgetful of robbers, each one wandered according to his own fancy,
some riding forward, and others lingering behind to pull branches of these
beautiful wild blossoms. The horses' heads were covered with flowers of
every colour, so that they looked like victims adorned for sacrifice. C---n
indulged his botanical and geological propensities, occasionally to the
great detriment of his companions, as we were anxious to arrive at some
resting-place before the sun became insupportable. As for the robbers,
these gentlemen, who always keep a sharp look-out, and rarely endanger
their precious persons without some sufficient motive, and who, moreover,
seem to have some magical power of seeing through stone walls and into
portmanteaus, were no doubt aware that our luggage would neither have
replenished their own nor their _ladies_' wardrobes, and calculated that
people who travel for pleasure are not likely to carry any great quantity
of superfluous coin. Besides this, they are much more afraid of these
honest, stout, well-armed farm servants, who are a fine race of men, than
even soldiers.

We arrived about six o'clock at the village of Hautepec, remarkable for its
fine old church and lofty trees, especially for one magnificent
wide-spreading ash-tree in the churchyard. There were also many of those
pretty trees with the silvery bark, which always look as if the moon were
shining on them. The road began to improve, but the sun became very
oppressive about nine o'clock, when we arrived at a pretty village, which
had a large church and a _venta_ (tavern), where we stopped to refresh
ourselves with water and some very well-baked small cakes. The village was
so pretty that we had some thoughts of remaining there till the evening,
but as Don Juan assured us that one hour's good gallop would carry us to
Cocoyoc, the hacienda of Don Juan Gorivar, we determined to continue. We
had a dreadful ride in the hot sun, till we arrived at a pretty Indian
village on the estate, and shortly after entered the courtyard of the great
hacienda of Cocoyoc, where we were most hospitably welcomed by the
proprietor and his family.

We were very tired owing to the extreme heat, and white with dust. A fresh
toilet, cold water, an hour's rest, and an excellent breakfast, did wonders
for us. Soon after our arrival, the sugar-house, or rather the cane
rubbish, took fire, and the great bell swung heavily to and fro, summoning
the workmen to assist in getting it under. It was not extinguished for some
time, and the building is so near the house, that the family were a little
alarmed. We stood on the balcony, which commands a beautiful view of
Popocatepetl, watching the blaze. After a hard battle between fire and
water, water carried the day.

In the evening we drove to the orange grove, where three thousand lofty
trees are ranged in avenues, literally bending under the weight of their
golden fruit and snowy blossom. I never saw a more beautiful sight. Each
tree is perfect, and lofty as a forest tree. The ground under their broad
shadows is strewed with thousands of oranges, dropping in their ripeness,
and covered with the white, fragrant blossoms. The place is lovely, and
everywhere traversed by streams of the purest water. We ate a disgraceful
number of oranges, limes, guayavas, and all manner of fruits, and even
tasted the sweet beans of the coffee-plants.

We spent the next morning in visiting the coffee-mills, the great
brandy-works, sugar-houses, etc., all which are in the highest order; and
in strolling through the orange groves, and admiring the curious and
beautiful flowers, and walking among orchards of loaded fruit-trees--the
calabash, papaw, mango, tamarind, citron--also mameys, chirimoyas, custard
apples, and all the family of the zapotes, white, black, yellow, and
_chico_; cayotes, cocoas, cacahuates, aguacates, etc., etc., etc., a list
without an end.

Besides these are an infinity of trees covered with the brightest blossoms;
one, with large scarlet flowers, most gorgeous in their colouring, and one
whose blossoms are so like large pink silk tassels, that if hung to the
cushions of a sofa, you could not discover them to be flowers. What
prodigality of nature in these regions! With what a lavish hand she flings
beauty and luxury to her tropical children!

In the evening we drove to Casasano, an hacienda about three leagues from
Cocoyoc, and passed by several other fine estates, amongst others, the
hacienda of Calderon. Casasano is an immense old house, very dull-looking,
the road to which lies through a fine park for cattle, dotted with great
old trees, but of which the grass is very much burnt up. Each hacienda has
a large chapel attached to it, at which all the workmen and villagers in
the environs attend mass; a padre coming from a distance on Sundays and
fete-days. Frequently there is one attached to the establishment. We went
to see the celebrated water-tank of Casasano, the largest and most
beautiful reservoir in this part of the country; the water so pure, that
though upwards of thirty feet deep, every blade of grass at the bottom is
visible. Even a pin, dropped upon the stones below, is seen shining quite
distinctly. A stone wall, level with the water, thirty feet high, encloses
it, on which I ventured to walk all round the tank, which is of an oval
form, with the assistance of our host, going one by one. A fall would be
sufficiently awkward, involving drowning on one side and breaking your neck
on the other. The water is beautiful--a perfect mirror, with long green
feathery plants at the bottom.

The next morning we took leave of our friends at three o'clock, and set off
for Santa Clara, the hacienda of Don Eusebio Garcia. Senor Goriva made me a
present of a very good horse, and our ride that day was delightful, though
the roads led over the most terrible barrancas. For nine long leagues, we
did nothing but ford rivers and climb steep hills, those who were pretty
well mounted beating up the tired cavalry. But during the first hours of
our ride, the air was so fresh among the hills, that even when the sun was
high, we suffered little from the heat; and the beautiful and varied views
we met at every turn were full of interest. Santa Clara is a striking,
imposing mass of building, beautifully situated at the foot of three bold,
high rocks, with a remarkably handsome church attached to it. The family
were from home, and the agent was a philosopher, living upon herb-tea,
quite above the common affairs of life. It is a fine hacienda, and very
productive, but sad and solitary in the extreme, and as K---- and I walked
about in the courtyard after supper, where we had listened to frightful
stories of robbers and robberies, we felt rather uncomfortably dreary, and
anxious to change our quarters. We visited the sugar-works, which are like
all others, the chapel, which is very fine, and the shop where they sell
spirituous liquors and calicoes. The hills looked gray and solemn. The sun
sank gloomy behind them, his colour a turbid red. So much had been said
about robbers, that we were not sure how our next day's journey might
terminate. The administrador's own servant had turned out to be the captain
of a band! whom the robbers, from some mysterious motive, had murdered a
few days before. As we intended to rise before dawn, we went to bed early,
about nine o'clock, and were just in the act of extinguishing a
melancholy-looking candle, when we were startled by the sight of an alacran
on the wall. A man six feet high came at our call. He looked at the
scorpion, shook his head, and ran out. He came back in a little while with
another large man, he with a great shoe in his hand, and his friend with a
long pole. While they were both hesitating how to kill it, Don Juan came
in, and did the deed. We had a melancholy night after this, afraid of
everything, with a long unsnuffed candle illuminating the darkness of our
large and lonely chamber. The next morning, the ninth of February, before
sunrise, we took our leave, in the darkness, of Santa Clara and the
philosopher. The morning, wonderful to relate, was windy, and almost cold.
The roads were frightful, and we hailed the first gray streak that appeared
in the eastern sky, announcing the dawn, which might enable us at least to
see our perils. Fortunately it was bright daylight when we found ourselves
crossing--a barranca, so dangerous, that after following for some time the
precipitous course of the mountain path, we thought it advisable to get off
our horses, who were pawing the slippery rock, without being able to find
any rest for the soles of their feet. We had a good deal of difficulty in
getting along ourselves on foot among the loose, sharp stones, and the
horses, between sliding and stumbling, were a long while in accomplishing
the descent. After climbing up the barranca, one of them ran off along the
edge of the cliff, as if he were determined to cut the whole concern, and
we wasted some time in catching him.

It was the afternoon when we rode through the lanes of a large Indian
village, and shortly after arrived at Colon, an hacienda belonging to Don
Antonio Orria. He was from home, but the good reception of the honest
administrador, the nice, clean, cheerful house, with its pretty painted
chairs, good beds, the excellent breakfasts and dinners, and the _good
will_ visible in the whole establishment, delighted us very much, and
decided us to pitch our tent here for a day or two. Some Spaniards, hearing
of C---n's arrival, rode over from a distance to see him, and dined with
us. There was a capital housekeeper, famous for her excellent cakes and
preserves. We had also the refreshment of a warm bath, and felt ourselves
as much at home as if we had been in our own house.

The next morning we rode through the great sugarcane fields to the hacienda
of San Nicolas, one of the finest estates in the republic, eighteen leagues
long and five wide, belonging to Senor Zamora, in right of his wife. It is
a productive place, but a singularly dreary residence. We walked out to see
all the works, which are on a great scale, and breakfasted with the
proprietor, who was there alone. We amused ourselves by seeing the workmen
receive their weekly pay (this being Saturday), and at the mountains of
copper piled up on tables in front of the house. There is a feeling of
vastness, of solitude, and of dreariness in some of these great haciendas,
which is oppressive. Especially about noon, when everything is still, and
there is no sound except the incessant buzz of myriads of insects, I can
imagine it like what the world must have been before man was created.

Colon, which is not so large as San Nicolas, has a greater air of life
about it; and in fact we liked it so well, that, as ----- observed, we
seemed inclined to consider it, not as a _colon_, but a _full stop_. You
must not expect more vivacious puns in _tierra caliente_. We rode back from
San Nicolas in the afternoon, accompanied by the proprietor, and had some
thoughts of going to _Matamoras_ in the evening, to see the "Barber of
Seville" performed by a strolling company in the open air, under a tree!
admittance twenty-five cents. However, we ended by remaining where we were,
and spent the evening in walking about through the village, surrounded by
barking dogs, the greatest nuisance in these places, and pulling wild
flowers, and gathering castor-oil nuts from the trees. A begging Franciscan
friar, from the convent of San Fernando, arrived for his yearly supply of
sugar which he begs from the different haciendas, for his convent, a
tribute which is never refused.

We left our hospitable entertainer the next morning, with the addition of
sundry baskets of cake and fruit from the housekeeper. As we were setting
off, I asked the administrador if there were any barrancas on this road.
"No," said he, "but I have sent a basketful with one of the boys, as they
are very refreshing." I made no remark, concluding that I should find out
his meaning in the course of the journey, but keeping a sharp look-out on
the mysterious _mozo_, who was added to our train. When the light became
stronger, I perceived that he carried under his sarape a large basket of
fine _naranjas_ (oranges), which no doubt the honest administrador thought
I was inquiring after. It rained, when we left Colon, a thick misty
drizzle, and the difference of the temperature gave us notice that we were
passing out of _tierra caliente_. The road was so straight and
uninteresting, though the surrounding country was fertile, that a few
barrancas would really have been enlivening.

At Colon we took leave of our conductor, Don Juan, who returned to
Atlacamulco, and got a new director of our forces, a handsome man, yclept
Don Francisco, who had been a Spanish soldier. We had an uncomfortable ride
in a high wind and hard rain, the roads good, but devoid of interest, so
that we were glad when we learnt that _Atlisco_, a town where we were to
pass the night, was not far off. Within a mile or two of the city we were
met by a tall man on horseback, with a pink turban, and a wild, swarthy
face, who looked like an Abencerrage, and who came with the compliments of
his master, a Spanish gentleman, to say that a house had been prepared for
us in the town.

Atlisco is a large town, with a high mountain behind it, crowned by a white
chapel, a magnificent church at the base; the whole city full of fine
churches and convents, with a plaza and many good houses. The numerous
pipes, pointed all along from the roofs, have a very threatening and
warlike effect; one seems to ride up the principal street under a strong
fire. We found that Don Fernando -----, pink turban's master, not
considering his own house good enough, had, on hearing of our expected
arrival, hired another, and furnished part of it for us! This is the sort
of wholesale hospitality one meets with in this country. Our room looked
out upon an old Carmelite monastery, where C---n, having a recommendation
to the prior, paid a visit, and found one or two good paintings. Here also
we saw the famous cypress mentioned by Humboldt, which is seventy-three
feet in circumference. The next morning we set out with an escort of seven
_mozos_, headed by Don Francisco, and all well armed, for the road from
Atlisco to Puebla is the robbers' highway, _par excellence_.

This valley of Atlisco, as indeed the whole department of Puebla, is noted
for its fertility, and its abundant crops of maguey, wheat, maize,
frijoles, garbanzos, barley, and other vegetables, as well as for the
fineness of its fruits, its chirimoyas, etc. There is a Spanish proverb
which says,

"Si a morar en Indias feures,
Que sea doude los volcanes vieres."

"If you go to live in the Indias, let it be within sight of the volcanoes;"
for it appears that all the lands surrounding the different volcanoes are
fertile, and enjoy a pleasant climate. The great Cordilleras of Anahuac
cross this territory, and amongst these are the Mountain of the Malinchi,
Ixtaccihuatl, Popocatepetl, and the Peak of Orizava. The Malinchi, a
corruption by the Spaniards of the Indian name Malintzin, signifying Dona
Maria or Marina, is supposed to be called after Cortes's Indian Egeria, the
first Christian woman of the Mexican empire.

Though given to Cortes by the Tabascan Indians, it seems clear that she was
of noble birth, and that her father was the lord of many cities. It is
pretended that she fell into a tributary situation, through the treachery
of her mother, who remarried after the death of her first husband, and who,
bestowing all her affection on the son born of this second marriage,
determined, in concert with her husband, that all their wealth should pass
to him. It happened, in furtherance of their views, that the daughter of
one of their slaves died, upon which they gave out that they had lost their
own daughter, affected to mourn for her, and, at the same time, privately
sold her, after the fashion of Joseph's brethren, to some merchants of
Gicalanco, who in their turn disposed of her to their neighbours, the
Tabascans, who presented her to Cortes. That she was beautiful and of great
talent, versed in different dialects, the devoted friend of the Spaniards,
and serving as their interpreter in their negotiations with the various
Indian tribes, there seems no doubt. She accompanied Cortes in all his
expeditions--he followed her advice; and in the whole history of the
conquest, Dona Marina (the name given to the beautiful slave at her
Christian baptism) played an important part. Her son, Martin Cortes, a
knight of the order of Santiago, was put to the torture in the time of
Philip II., on some unfounded suspicion of rebellion. It is said that when
Cortes, accompanied by Dona Marina, went to Honduras, she met her guilty
relatives, who, bathed in tears, threw themselves at her feet, fearful lest
she might avenge herself of their cruel treatment; but that she calmed
their fears, and received them with much kindness. The name of her
birthplace was Painala, a village in the province of Cuatzacualco. After
the conquest, she was married to a Spaniard, named Juan de Jaramillo.

But I have wandered a long way from the Sierra Malinchi. The two great
volcanoes, but especially Popocatepetl, the highest mountain in New Spain,
seem to follow the traveller like his guardian spirit, wherever he goes.
Orizava, which forms a boundary between the departments of Puebla and Vera
Cruz, is said to be the most beautiful of mountains on a near approach, as
it is the most magnificent at a distance; for while its summit is crowned
with snow, its central part is girded by thick forests of cedar and pine,
and its base is adorned with woods and sloping fields covered with flocks,
and dotted with white ranchos and small scattered villages; forming the
most agreeable and varied landscape imaginable. Ixtaccihuatl means white
woman; Popocatepetl the mountain that throws out smoke. They are thus
celebrated by the poet Heredia:

Nieve eternal corona las cabezas
De Ixtaccihuatl purissimo, Orizava
Y Popocatepetl; sin que el invierno
Toque jamas con destructura mano
Los campos fertillisimos do ledo
Los mira el indio en purpura ligera
Yoro tenirse, reflejando el brillo
Del sol en Occidente, que sereno
En yelo eterno y perennal verdura
A torrentes versio su luz dorada,
Y vio a naturaleza conmovida
Con su dulce calor, hervir en vida.


Eternal snow crowns the majestic heads
Of Orizava, Popocatepetl,
And of Ixtaccihuatl the most pure.
Never does winter with destructive hand
Lay waste the fertile fields where from afar
The Indian views them bathed in purple light
And dyed in gold, reflecting the last rays
Of the bright sun, which, sinking in the west,
Poured forth his flood of golden light, serene
Midst ice eternal, and perennial green;
And saw all nature warming into life,
Moved by the gentle radiance of his fires.

The morning was really cold, and when we first set out, Pococatepetl was
rolled up in a mantle of clouds. The road led us very near him. The wind
was very piercing:, and K---- was mounted on a curate's pony, evidently
accustomed to short distances and easy travelling. We had been told that it
was "muy proprio para Senora," very much suited to a lady, an encomium
always passed upon the oldest, most stupid, and most obstinate quadruped
that the haciendas can boast. We overtook and passed a party of cavalry,
guarding some prisoners, whom they were conducting to Puebla.

As the sun rose, all eyes were turned with amazement and admiration to the
great volcano. The clouds parted in the middle, and rolled off in great
volumes, like a curtain withdrawn from a high altar. The snowy top and
sides of the mountain appeared, shining in the bright sun, like a grand
dome of the purest white marble. But it cannot be described. I thought of
Sinai, of Moses on the Mount, when the glory of the Lord was passing by; of
the mountain of the Transfiguration, something too intolerably bright and
magnificent for mortal eye to look upon and live. We rode slowly, and in
speechless wonder, till the sun, which had crowned the mountain like a
glory, rose slowly from its radiant brow, and we were reminded that it was
time to ride forwards.

We were not far from the ancient city of Cholula, lying on a great plain at
a short distance from the mountains, and glittering in the sunbeams, as if
it still were the city of predilection as in former days, when it was the
sacred city, "the Rome of Anahuac." It is still a large town, with a
spacious square and many churches, and the ruins of its great pyramid still
attest its former grandeur; but of the forty thousand houses and four
hundred churches mentioned by Cortes, there are no traces. The base of this
pyramid, which at a distance looks like a conical mountain, is said by
Humboldt to be larger than that of any discovered in the old continent,
being double that of Cheops. It is made of layers of bricks mixed with
coats of clay and contains four stories. In the midst of the principal
platform, where the Indians worshipped Quetzalcoatl, the god of the air
(according to some the patriarch Noah, and according to others the apostle
Saint Thomas! for _doctors differ_), rises a church dedicated to the Virgen
de los Remedios, surrounded by cypresses, from which there is one of the
most beautiful views in the world. From this pyramid, and it is not the
least interesting circumstance connected with it, Humboldt made many of his
valuable astronomical observations.

The treachery of the people and priests of Cholula, who, after welcoming
Cortes and the Spaniards, formed a plan for exterminating them all, which
was discovered by Dona Marina, through the medium of a lady of the city,
was visited by him with the most signal vengeance. The slaughter was
dreadful; the streets were covered with dead bodies, and houses and temples
were burnt to the ground. This great temple was afterwards purified by his
orders, and the standard of the cross solemnly planted in the midst.
Cholula, not being on the direct road to Puebla, is little visited, and as
for us our time was now so limited, that we were obliged to content
ourselves with a mere passing observation of the pyramid, and then to hurry
forward to Puebla.

We entered that city to the number of eighteen persons, eighteen horses,
and several mules, and passed some people near the gates who were carrying
blue-eyed angels to the chosen city, and who nearly let them drop, in
astonishment, on seeing such a cavalcade. We were very cold, and felt very
tired as we rode into the courtyard of the hotel, yet rather chagrined to
think that the remainder of our journey was now to be performed in a
diligence. Having brought my story up to civilized life, and it being late,
I conclude.


Theatre--Portmanteaus--Visitors--Houses of Puebla--Fine Arts--Paseo--Don
N. Ramos Arispe--Bishop--Cotton Factories--Don Esteban Antunano--Bank of
_Avio_--United States Machinery--Accidents--Difficulties--Shipwrecks--
Detentions--Wonderful Perseverance--"_La Constancia Mejicana_" Hospital--
Prison--El Carmen--Paintings--Painted Floors--Angels--Cathedral--Gold and
Jewels--A Comedy--Bishop's Palace--Want of Masters.


You will be surprised when I tell you that, notwithstanding our fatigue, we
went to the theatre the evening we arrived, and sat through a long and
tragical performance, in the box of Don A---o H---o, one of the richest
citizens of Puebla, who, hearing of our arrival, instantly came to invite
us to his house, where he assured us rooms were prepared for our reception.
But being no longer in savage parts, where it is necessary to throw
yourself on the hospitality of strangers or to sleep in the open air, we
declined his kind offer, and remained in the inn, which is very tolerable,
though we do not see it now _en beau_ as we did last year, when we were
expected there. The theatre is clean and neat, but dull, and we were much
more looked at than the actors, for few foreigners (ladies especially)
remain here for any length of time, and their appearance is somewhat of a
novelty. Our toilet occasioned us no small difficulty, now that we were
again in polished cities, for you may imagine the condition of our trunks,
which two mules had galloped with over ninety leagues of plain and
mountain, and which had been opened every night. Such torn gowns, crushed
collars, ruined pelerines! One carpet bag had burst and discharged its
contents of combs, brushes, etc., over a barranca, where some day they may
be picked up as Indian antiquities, and sent to the Museum, to be preserved
as a proof that Montezuma's wives brushed their hair. However, by dint of a
washerwoman and sundry messages to _peluqueros_ (hair-dressers), we were
enabled to _turn out_ something like Christian travellers. The first night
we could not sleep on account of the innumerable ants, attracted probably
by a small garden, with one or two orange-trees in it, into which our room

The next morning we had a great many visitors, and though there is here a
good deal of that provincial pretension one always meets with out of a
capital, we found some pleasant people amongst them. The Senora H---o came
in a very handsome carriage, with beautiful northern horses, and took us
out to see something of the town. Its extreme cleanness after Mexico is
remarkable. In that respect it is the Philadelphia of the republic; with
wide streets, well paved; large houses of two stories, very solid and well
built; magnificent churches, plenty of water, and withal a dullness which
makes one feel as if the houses were rows of convents, and all the people,
except beggars and a few business men, shut up in performance of a vow.

The house of Don A---o H---o is, I think, more elegantly furnished than any
in Mexico. It is of immense size, and the floors beautifully painted. One
large room is furnished with pale blue satin, another with crimson damask,
and there are fine inlaid tables, handsome mirrors, and everything in very
good taste. He and his wife are both very young--she not more than
nineteen, very delicate and pretty, and very fair; and in her dress,
neatness, and house, she reminds me of a Philadelphian, always with the
exception of her diamonds and pearls. The ladies smoke more, or at least
more openly, than in Mexico; but they have so few amusements, they deserve
more indulgence. There are eleven convents of nuns in the city, and taking
the veil is as common as being married. We dined at the Senora H---o's;
found her very amiable, and heard a young lady sing, who has a good voice,
but complains that there are no music-masters in Puebla.

The fine arts, however, are not entirely at a standstill here; and in
architecture, sculpture, and painting, there is a good deal, comparatively
speaking, worthy of notice. There used to be a proverb amongst the
Mexicans, that "if all men had five senses, the Poblanos had seven." They
are considered very reserved in their manners--a natural consequence of
their having actually no society. Formerly, Puebla rivalled Mexico in
population and in industry. The plague, which carried off fifty thousand
persons, was followed by the pestilence of civil war, and Puebla dwindled
down to a very secondary city. But we now hear a great deal of their
cotton-factories, and of the machines, instruments, and workmen, brought
from Europe here, already giving employment to thirty thousand individuals.

In the evening we drove to the new paseo, a public promenade, where none of
the public were to be seen, and which will be pretty when the young trees

19th.--C---n went out early, and returned the visit of the celebrated Don
N. Ramos Arispe, now an old man, and canon of the cathedral, but formerly
deputy in the Spanish Cortes, and the most zealous supporter of the cause
of independence. It is said that he owed the great influence which he had
over men of a middling character, rather to his energetic, some say to his
domineering disposition, than to genius; that he was clear-headed, active,
dexterous, remarkable for discovering hidden springs and secret motives,
and always keeping his subordinates zealously employed in his affairs.
C---n also visited the bishop, Senor Vasques, who obtained from Rome the
acknowledgment of independence.

We set out after breakfast with several gentlemen, who came to take us to
the cotton-factories, etc. We went first to visit the factory established
at the mill of Santo Domingo, a little way out of the city, and called "La
Constancia Mejicana" (Mexican Constancy). It was the first established in
the republic, and deserves its name from the great obstacles that were
thrown in the way of its construction, and the numerous difficulties that
had to be conquered before it came into effect.

In 1831 a junta for the encouragement of public industry was formed, but
the obstacles thrown in the way of every proposal were so great, that the
members all abandoned it in despair, excepting only the Senor _Don Esteban
Antunano_, who was determined himself to establish a manufactory of cotton,
to give up his commercial relations, and to employ his whole fortune in
attaining this object.

He bought the mill of Santo Domingo for one hundred and seventy-eight
thousand dollars, and began to build the edifice, employing foreign workmen
at exorbitant prices. In this he spent so much of his capital, that he was
obliged to have recourse to the Bank of _Avio_ for assistance. The bank
(_avio_ meaning pecuniary assistance, or advance of funds) was established
by Don Lucas Alaman, and intended as an encouragement to industry. But
industry is not of the nature of a hothouse plant, to be forced by
artificial means; and these grants of funds have but created monopolies,
and consequently added to the general poverty. Machinery, to the amount of
three thousand eight hundred and forty spindles, was ordered for Antunano
from the United States, and a loan granted him of one hundred and
seventy-eight thousand dollars, but of which he never received the whole.
Meanwhile his project was sneered at as absurd, impossible, ruinous; but,
firmly resolved not to abandon his enterprise, he contented himself with
living with the strictest economy, himself and his numerous family almost
suffering from want, and frequently unable to obtain credit for the
provisions necessary for their daily use.

To hasten the arrival of the machinery, he sent an agent to the north to
superintend it, and to hire workmen; but the commercial house to which he
was recommended, and which at first gave him the sums he required, lost
their confidence in the agent, and redemanded their money, so that he was
forced to sell his clothes in order to obtain food and lodging. In July,
1833, the machinery was embarked at Philadelphia, and in August arrived at
Vera Cruz, to the care of Senor Paso y Troncoso, who never abandoned
Antunano in his adversity, and even lent him unlimited sums; but much delay
ensued, and a year elapsed before it reached Puebla. There, after it was
all set up, the ignorant foreign workmen declared that no good results
would ever be obtained; that the machines were bad, and the cotton worse.
However, by the month of January, 1833, they began to work in the factory,
to which was given the name of "Mexican Constancy." A mechanist was then
sent to the north, to procure a collection of new machinery; and, after
extraordinary delays and difficulties, he embarked with it at New York in
February, 1837.

He was shipwrecked near Cayo-Hueso, and, with all the machinery he could
save, returned to the north in the brig Argos; but on his way there he was
shipwrecked again, and all the machinery lost! He went to Philadelphia, to
have new machines constructed, and in August re-embarked in the Delaware.
Incredible as it may seem, the Delaware was wrecked off Cayo-Alcatraces,
and for the third time the machinery was lost, the mechanist saving himself
with great difficulty!

It seemed as if gods and men had conspired against the cotton spindles; yet
Antunano persevered. Fresh machinery was ordered; and though by another
fatality it was detained, owing to the blockade of the ports by the French
squadron, seven thousand spindles were landed, and speedily put in
operation. Others have followed the example of Senor Antunano, who has
given a decided impulse to industry in Puebla, besides a most extraordinary
example of perseverance, and a determined struggle against what men call
_bad luck,_ which persons of a feebler character sink under, while stronger
minds oppose till they conquer it.

It was in his carriage we went, and he accompanied us all over the
building. It is beautifully situated, and at a distance has more the air of
a summer palace than of a cotton-factory. Its order and airiness are
delightful, and in the middle of the court, in front of the building, is a
large fountain of the purest water. A Scotchman, who has been there for
some time, says he has never seen anything to compare with it, and he
worked six years in the United States. Antunano is unfortunately very deaf,
and obliged to use an ear-trumpet. He seems an excellent man, and I trust
he may be ultimately successful. We came out covered with cotton, as if we
had been just unpacked, and were next taken to visit a very handsome new
prison, which they are building in the city, but whether it will ever be
finished, or not, is more doubtful. We also visited the Foundling Hospital,
a large building, where there are more children than funds. They were all
clean and respectable-looking, but very poor. Antunano presented them with
two hundred dollars, as a memorial, he said, of our visit.

C---n then went to the convent of El Carmen, to see the paintings of the
Life of the Virgin, supposed to be original works of Murillo, particularly
the Ascension and Circumcision; but which are ill-arranged, and have
suffered greatly from neglect, many of them being torn. Indeed, in some of
them are large holes made by the boys, who insisted that the Jewish priest
was _the devil._ There is a Descent from the Cross, which is reckoned a
fine painting; and it is a pity that these works should be shut up in this
old convent, where there are about half-a-dozen old monks, and where they
serve no purpose, useful or ornamental. Were they removed to the Mexican
Museum, and arranged with care, they would at least serve as models for
those young artists who have not the means of forming their taste by
European travel. Zendejas as a painter, and Coro as a sculptor, both
natives of Puebla, are celebrated in their respective arts, but we have not
yet seen any of their works. C---n also visited the bishop, and saw his
paintings and library, which we hope to do to-morrow; and from thence went
to the college, the rector of which was _attache_ in Spain to the Minister
Santa Maria.

We dined again in the house of Senor H---o. The manner in which his floors
are painted is pretty and curious. It is in imitation of carpets, and is
very rich in appearance and very cool in reality. A great many of the
floors here are painted in this way, either upon canvas with oil colours,
or upon a cement extended upon the bricks of which the floor is made, and
prepared with glue, lime, or clay, and soap.

Senor H---o has four young and pretty sisters, all nuns in different
convents. As there are no other schools but these convents, the young girls
who are sent there become attached to the nuns, and prefer remaining with
them for ever to returning home. After dinner, accompanied by Don N. Ramos
Arispe, whom C---n formerly knew intimately in Madrid, and by various other
ecclesiastics, we visited the boast of Puebla, the cathedral, which we did
not do when we passed through the city on our arrival last year. To my
mind, I have never seen anything more noble and magnificent. It is said
that the rapid progress of the building was owing to the assistance of two
angels, who nightly descended and added to its height, so that each morning
the astonished workmen found their labour incredibly advanced. The name
given to the city, "Puebla de los Angeles," is said to be owing to this

It is not so large as the cathedral of Mexico, but it is more elegant,
simpler, and in better taste. Sixteen columns of exquisite marble, adorned
with silver and gold, form the _tabernacle_ (in Mexico called _el Cipres_).
This native marble, called Puebla marble, is brought from the quarries of
Totamehuacan and Tecali, at two and seven leagues from the city. The floor
of the cathedral is of marble--the great screens and high-backed chairs of
richly-carved cedar. Everything was opened to show us; the tombs where the
bishops are buried; the vault where a martyr lies, supposed to have been
miraculously preserved for centuries, the gift of a pope to a bishop of
Puebla. The figure appears to be of wax, enclosing the skeleton of the
martyr, and has the most angelic countenance I ever beheld. It is loaded
with false emeralds and diamonds.

We were also shown the jewels, which they keep buried, in case of a
revolution. The _Custodia_, the gold stand in which they carry the Host, is
entirely encrusted with large diamonds, pearls, emeralds, amethysts,
topazes, and rubies. The chalices are equally rich. There are four sets of
jewels for the bishop. One of his crosses is of emeralds and diamonds;
another of topazes and diamonds, with great rings of the same, belonging to

In the evening we went with the M---- family, who have been very civil to
us, to the theatre, where we saw a comedy better acted and more amusing
than the tragedy which they murdered two nights before. We went early the
next morning to the bishop's palace, to see his fine library and collection
of paintings, where there were a few modern originals and many fine copies
of the old masters. We then went with the Senora H---o, to return the
visits of the ladies who had called on us. The young ladies invariably
complain that they have neither music, nor drawing, nor dancing masters.
There is evidently a great deal of musical taste among them, and, as in
every part of Mexico, town or country, there is a piano (_tal cual_) in
every house; but most of those who play are self-taught, and naturally
abandon it very soon, for want of instruction or encouragement. We are now
going to dine out, and in the evening we go to a concert in the theatre,
given by the Senora Cesari and Mr. Wallace. As we must rise at three, to
set off by the diligence, I shall write no more from this place. Our next
letters will be from Mexico.


Concert--Diligence--Leave Puebla--Escort--View from the Cathedral
Towers--Black Forest--History of the Crosses--Tales of Murder--An
Alarm--Report of a Skirmish--Rio Frio--Law concerning Robbers--Their
_Moderation_--Return to Mexico--Carnival Ball--Improvement in Dress.

MEXICO, 24th.

We went to the concert with our friends, the H---os. The music was better
than the instruments, and the Senora Cesari looked handsome, as she always
does, besides being beautifully dressed in white, with Paris wreaths. We
took leave of our friends at the door of the hotel, at one in the morning,
and lay down for two hours, in the full expectation of being robbed the
following day, a circumstance which has now grown so common, that when the
diligence from Puebla arrives in safety, it excites rather more sensation
than when it has been stopped. The governor had ordered us an escort to
Mexico, to be stationed about every six leagues, but last week the escort
itself, and even the gallant officer at its head, were suspected of being
the plunderers. Our chief hope lay in that well-known miraculous knowledge
which they possess as to the value of all travellers' luggage, which no
doubt not only makes them aware that we are mere pilgrims for pleasure, and
not fresh arrivals, laden with European commodities, but also renders them
perfectly familiar with the contents of our well-shaken portmanteaus; so
that we trusted that a sarape or two, a few rings and earrings, and one or
two shawls, would not prove sufficient to tempt them. We got into the
diligence in the dark, half asleep, having taken all the places but three,
which were engaged before we came; some sleepy soldiers on horseback, ready
to accompany us, and a loaded gun sticking out of each window. Various
beggars, who are here innumerable, already surrounded us; and it is, by the
way, a remarkable circumstance, that notwithstanding the amazing numbers of
the leperos in Puebla, the churches there are kept scrupulously clean, from
which Mexico might take a hint with advantage.

Puebla is one of the few cities founded by the Spanish colonists, instead
of being built upon the ruins of former greatness. It was founded in the
sixteenth century, on the plains of Acajete, in a site occupied only by a
few huts belonging to the Cholula Indians. It is surrounded by productive
corn estates, and the landscape, when the light visited our eyes, was
fertile though flat. The two finest views of Puebla may be seen from the
towers of the cathedral, and from an azotea in the street of San Agustin.
The landscape is extremely varied and very extensive.

To the north we see the mountain of Tlascala, the _Matlalcueyetl_, better
known as the Malinchi; next it the hill and temple of Guadalupe and the
mountain of the Pinar, crowned by its white church. Other churches and
convents adorn the slopes of the mountains, the Church of Loreto, the
Temple of Calvary, etc. The Malinchi is fertile, but these inferior
mountains are sterile and bare.

To the south lie the great volcanoes, and between them we can distinguish
the difficult and steep road by which Cortes undertook his first march to
Mexico. We also see the city and pyramid of Cholula, the hill of San
Nicolas, and that of San Juan, where General Bustamante encamped in 1832,

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