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Life in Mexico by Frances Calderon De La Barca

Part 9 out of 11

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husband's copper is as good as any other!"

24th.--We went last evening to the opera, which was a repetition of Lucia,
as it appears they cannot venture, in the face of public disapprobation, to
repeat Romeo and Giulietta at present. As we were passing through the
square, the carriage suddenly drew up, the coachman and footman uncovered
their heads, and an immense procession came passing along the cathedral,
with lights and military music. There were officers in full uniform, with
their heads uncovered, a long file of monks and priests, and a carriage
carrying the host, surrounded by hundreds of people on foot, all bearing
lighted torches. A band of military music accompanied the procession, all
which astonished us, as it was no fete-day. When, at length, being able to
pass along, we arrived at the opera, we were informed that they were
carrying the _viaticum_ to a rich acquaintance of ours, a general, who has
been indisposed for some time, and whose illness has now exhibited fatal

For him, then, these great cathedral bells are tolling heavily; for him,
the torches and the pompous procession--the sandalled monks, and the
officers in military array; while two bands of music are playing at his
door and another in front of the cathedral, and in the midst of these
sounds of monkish hymn and military music, the soul is preparing to wing
its flight alone and unattended.

But the sweet notes of Lucia drown all other from our ears, if not from our
thoughts. In a house not many hundred yards off, they Minister the host to
the dying man, while here, La Castellan, with her pretty French graces and
Italian singing, is drawing tears from our eyes for fictitious sorrows.

The theatre was pretty well filled, though there were some empty boxes,
sights more hideous in the eyes of actors than toothless mouths. We sat
with Madame la Baronne de -----, and nearly opposite was Madame -----,
related to the "_Principe de la Paz_," a handsome woman, with a fine
Bohemian cast of face, dark in complexion, with glittering teeth, brilliant
eyes, and dark hair. La Castellan sang very well, with much clearness,
precision, and facility. She is certainly graceful and pretty, but, except
in her method, more French than Italian. Her style suits Lucia, but I doubt
her having _l'air noble_ sufficient for a Norma or a Semiramis. The bass
improves upon acquaintance, but the handsome tenor is nought. The audience
seemed to me both indulgent and discriminating. They applauded the pretty
prima donna _con furor_; they praised the bass when he deserved it, the
tenor when it was possible; but where he sang false, nothing could extort
from them a solitary _viva_. This discrimination makes their applause worth
having, and proceeds less from experience or cultivation, than from a
_musical instinct_.

In a visit we made this morning, we were shown a piece of embroidery,
which, from its splendour and good taste, is worthy of observation, though
by no means uncommon here. We went to call on the wife of a judge, who
showed us all through their beautiful house, which looks out on the
Alameda. In one of the rooms, their daughter was engaged on a piece of
embroidery for the altar of the chapel. The ground was the very richest and
thickest white satin; the design was a garland of vine-leaves, with bunches
of grapes. The vine-leaves were beautifully embroidered in fine gold, and
the grapes were composed of amethysts. I can conceive nothing richer and
more tasteful than the general effect. The gold embroidery done in Mexico
is generally very beautiful, and there are many ladies who embroider in
great perfection. There is an amazing quantity of it used in the churches,
and in military uniforms. I have also seen beautiful gold-embroidered
ball-dresses, but they are nearly out of fashion.... We hear that
General -----, though still ill, is likely to recover.

25th.--This being the day of Santiago, the patron saint of Spain, C---n was
invited by the padres to San Francisco to attend mass in the church there.
We were shown to the tribuna (gallery) of the Countess de Santiago, where
they gave us chairs, and put down a piece of carpet. C---n and the rest of
the legation were in the body of the church, in velvet chairs, with lighted
tapers in their hands. The saint was carried in procession, going out by
the principal door, making a tour of the streets, and returning by a side
door. The music was pretty good, especially one soprano voice. Twelve
little boys were placed on crimson velvet benches, on either side of the
altar, representing pilgrims of Galicia (of which Santiago is the capital),
handsome little fellows, belonging to respectable families, dressed in
robes of dark green or crimson, or violet-coloured velvet, with falling
lace collars, and the neck ornamented with gold and silver shells; a large
pilgrim's hat fastened on behind, and hanging down, and in their hands
staffs with gold bells. They were beautiful children, and all behaved with
becoming gravity and decorum during the ceremony, walking with much dignity
in the procession.

After the _funcion_, we went out to Santiago, an old church near Mexico,
where the Indians annually come in procession on this day, and sell their
fruit, flowers, pulque, etc. All the waste ground near the church was
covered with green booths, and there was a great crowd of carriages and
horsemen, and people on foot. The troops were drawn out, escorting the
procession to the church. But though the scene was curious, as the remnant
of an old-established ceremony, and the Indians, with their booths and
flowers, and great show of fruit, were all very picturesque, the sun was so
intense, that after walking about a little while, and buying tunas and nuts
and peaches, we returned home, together with the Guera Rodriguez, who was
in the carriage with us, and giving us a lively description of what this
fete used to be in former days. Had a visit the same morning from the
Senora M----, whom I think even handsomer by daylight, than she appeared to
be at the opera; not always the case with dark beauties.

26th.-Another representation of Vaccaj's Romeo and Giulietta, with the
second appearance of La Ricci. Music and Ricci seem considered a failure.
The Senora Cesari made the handsomest of Romeos, as usual, but was ill, and
out of spirits. The opera as a whole was coldly received; the boxes and pit
were nearly empty, and La Ricci seems unlikely to gain any favour with the
public, though it must be confessed that she looked better, was more
becomingly dressed, and both sang and acted better than the preceding
night. Yesterday we went to a _soiree_ at the ----- Minister's. Madame
Castellan and her tenor were there, and had come from a dinner given by a
rich curate to the whole _corps operatique_, from the prima donna down to
the _joueur du fagote_, and even to the tailor who makes the opera dresses,
and his wife. This rich padre, it is said, spends a great part of his
fortune in entertaining actors and singers. La Castellan (permission to
that effect having been obtained from the manager, for it is against their
agreement to perform in private houses) sang several airs to the piano,
with much expression, especially from _Robert le Diable_; and _Nina Pazza
per Amore_; but I prefer her voice in the theatre. She is not at all
beautiful, but has a charming face with a very musical expression.

We returned home by moonlight, the most flattering medium through which
Mexico can be viewed; with its broad and silent streets, and splendid old
buildings, whose decay and abandonment are softened by the silvery light;
its ancient churches, from which the notes of the organ occasionally come
pealing forth, mingled with faint blasts of music borne on the night wind
from some distant procession; or with the soft music of a hymn from some
neighbouring convent. The white-robed monk--the veiled female--even the
ragged beggar, add to the picture; by daylight his rags are too visible.
Frequently, as the carriages roll along to the opera, or as, at a late
hour, they return from it, they are suddenly stopped by the appearance of
the mysterious coach, with its piebald mules, and the _Eye_ surrounded by
rays of light on its panels; a melancholy apparition, for it has come from
the house of mourning, probably from the bed of death. Then, by the
moonlight, the kneeling figures on the pavement seemed as if carved in
stone. The city of Mexico by moonlight--the environs of Mexico at daybreak
--these are the hours for viewing both to advantage, and for making us feel

"All but the spirit of man is divine."

In front of our house, I should say of _the Mint_, is the archbishop's
palace, and in front of this palace an object which has greatly excited our
curiosity. It is an old man, who, whether as a penance, or from some motive
which we do not know, kneels, wrapt in his serape, beside the wall of the
_Arzobispado_ from sunset till midnight, or later--for we have frequently
gone out at nine in the evening, and left him kneeling there; and on our
return at one in the morning have found him in the same position. He asks
no alms, but kneels there silent and motionless, hour after hour, as if in
the performance of some vow....

We made a call this evening on the archbishop in his own palace, an
enormously large building; a sort of street, like this Casa de Moneda. He
received us very cordially, and looked very comfortable without his robes
of state, in a fine cloth dressing-gown, lined with violet-coloured silk.

August 1st.--We had a visit last evening from one of the directors of the
mint, a curious and most original genius, a Mexican, who has served nearly
thirty years in that and other capacities, and who, after speaking of the
different viceroys he had seen, proceeded to give us various anecdotes of
the Viceroy Revillagigedo, the most honoured for his justice, renowned for
his energy, and feared for his severity, of the whole dynasty. Our friend
was moved to enthusiasm by the sight of an old-fashioned but very handsome
musical clock, which stands on a table in the drawing-room, and which he
says was brought over by this viceroy, and was no doubt considered a
miracle of art in those days.

Some of the anecdotes he told us are already generally known here, but his
manner of telling them was very interesting, and he added various
particulars which we had not heard before. Besides, the stories themselves
seem to me so curious and characteristic, that however much they lose by
being tamely written instead of _dramatized_ as they are by him, I am
tempted to give you one or two specimens. But my letter is getting beyond
all ordinary limits, and your curiosity will no doubt keep cool till the
arrival of another packet.


Revillagigedo--The False Merchant and the Lady--The Viceroy, the Unjust
Spaniard, the Indian, and the Golden Ounces--Horrible Murder--Details--
Oath--Country Family--The Spot of Blood--The Mother unknowingly denounces
her Son--Arrest of _the Three_--Confession--Execution--The Viceroy fulfils
his Pledge--Paving of the Streets--Severity to the Monks--Solitary Damsel
--Box on the Ear--Pension--Morning Concert--New Minister--"Street of the
Sad Indian"--Traditions--A Farewell Audience--Inscription on a Tomb.

August 3rd.

A lady of fortune, owing to some combination of circumstances, found
herself in difficulties, and in immediate want of a small sum of money. Don
----- being her _compadre_, and a respectable merchant, she went to him to
state her necessities, and offered him a case of valuable jewels as
security for repayment, provided he would advance her eight hundred
dollars. He agreed, and the bargain was concluded without any written
document, the lady depositing her jewels and receiving the sum. At the end
of a few months, her temporary difficulties being ended, she went to her
_compadre's_ house to repay the money, and receive back her jewels. The man
readily received the money, but declared to his astonished _comadre_, that
as to the jewels, he had never heard of them, and that no such transaction
had taken place. The Senora, indignant at the merchant's treachery,
instantly repaired to the palace of the vice-king hoping for justice from
this Western Solomon, though unable to conceive how it could be obtained.
She was instantly received by Revillagigedo, who listened attentively to
her account of the circumstances. "Had you no witnesses?" said the count.
"None," replied she. "Did no servant pass in or out during the
transaction?" "No one." The viceroy reflected a moment. "Does your compadre
smoke?" "No, sir," said the lady, astonished at this irrelevant question,
and perhaps the more so, as the count's aversion to smoking was so well
known, that none of his smoking subjects ventured to approach him without
having taken every precaution to deaden any odour of the fragrant weed
which might lurk about their clothes or person. "Does he take snuff?" said
the viceroy. "Yes, your Excellency," said his visitor, who probably feared
that for once his Excellency's wits were wool-gathering. "That is
sufficient," said the viceroy; "retire into the adjoining chamber and _keep
quiet_--your jewels shall be restored." His Excellency then despatched a
messenger for the merchant, who immediately presented himself.

"I have sent for you," said the viceroy, "that we may talk over some
matters in which your mercantile knowledge may be of use to the state." The
merchant was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy; while the viceroy entered
into conversation with him upon various affairs connected with his
profession. Suddenly the viceroy put his hand first in one pocket, then in
the other, with the air of a man who has mislaid something. "Ah!" said he,
"my snuff-box. Excuse me for a moment while I go to fetch it from the next
room." "Sir!" said the merchant, "permit me to have the honour of offering
my box to your Excellency." His Excellency received it as if mechanically,
holding it in his hand and talking, till pretexting some business, he went
out, and calling an officer, desired him to take that snuff-box to the
merchant's house, asking his wife as from him, by that token, to deliver to
the bearer a case of jewels which he had there. The viceroy returned to the
apartment where he had left his flattered guest, and remained in
conversation with him until the officer returned, and requesting private
speech of the viceroy, delivered to him a jewel-case which he had received
from the merchant's wife.

Revillagigedo then returned to his fair complainant, and under pretence of
showing her some rooms in the palace, led her into one, where amongst many
objects of value, the jewel-case stood open. No sooner had she cast her
eyes upon it than she started forward in joy and amazement. The viceroy
requested her to wait there a little longer, and returned to his other
guest. "Now," said he, "before going further, I wish to hear the truth
concerning another affair in which you are interested. Are you acquainted
with the Senora de -----?" "Intimately, sir--she is my _comadre_." "Did you
lend her eight hundred dollars, at such a date?" "I did." "Did she give you
a case of jewels in pledge?" "Never," said the merchant, vehemently. "The
money was lent without any security; merely as an act of friendship, and
she has invented a story concerning some jewels, which has not the
slightest foundation." In vain the viceroy begged him to reflect, and not,
by adding falsehood to treachery, force him to take measures of severity.
The merchant with oaths persisted in his denial. The viceroy left the room
suddenly, and returned with the jewel-case in his hand; at which unexpected
apparition, the astonished merchant changed colour, and entirely lost his
presence of mind. The viceroy ordered him from his presence, with a severe
rebuke for his falsehood and treachery, and an order never again to enter
the palace. At the same time he commanded him to send him, the next
morning, eight hundred dollars with five hundred more; which he did, and
which were, by the viceroy's order, distributed amongst the hospitals. His
Excellency is said to have added a severe reprimand to the lady, for having
made a bargain without writing.

Another story which I recollect, is as follows: A poor Indian appeared
before the viceroy, and stated that he had found in the street a bag full
of golden ounces, which had been advertised with the promise of a handsome
reward to the person who should restore them to the owner; that upon
carrying them to this Don -----, he had received the bag, counted the
ounces, extracted two, which he had seen him slip into his pocket; and had
then reproached the poor man with having stolen part of the money, had
called him a thief and a rascal, and, instead of rewarding, had driven him
from the house. With the viceroy there was no delay. Immediate action was
his plan. Detaining the Indian, he despatched an officer to desire the
attendance of Don ----- with his bag of ounces. He came, and the viceroy
desired him to relate the circumstances, his practised eye reading his
falsehood at a glance. "May it please your Excellency, I lost a bag
containing gold. The Indian, now in your Excellency's presence, brought it
to me in hopes of a reward, having first stolen part of its contents. I
drove him from the house as a thief, who, instead of recompense, deserves

"Stay," said the viceroy, "there is some mistake here. How many ounces were
there in the bag you lost?" "Twenty-eight." "And how many are here?" "But
twenty-six." "Count them down. I see it is as you say. The case is clear,
and we have all been mistaken. Had this Indian been a thief, he would never
have brought back the bag, and stolen merely two ounces. He would have kept
the whole. It is evident that this is not your bag but another which this
poor man has found. Sir, our interview is at an end. Continue to search for
your bag of gold; and as for you, friend, since we cannot find the true
owner, sweep up these twenty-six pieces and carry them away. They are
yours." So saying, his Excellency bowed out the discomfited cheat and the
overjoyed rustic. Mr. ----- says that this story, he thinks, is taken from
something similar in an oriental tale. However, it _may_ have occurred

A horrible murder took place in 1789, during the vice-royaltyship of
Revillagigedo, which is remarkable in two particulars; the trifling
circumstances which led to its discovery, and the energy displayed by the
viceroy, contrasting strongly with the tardy execution of justice in our
days. There lived in Mexico at that period, in the street of _Cordovanes_,
No. 15, a rich merchant of the name of Don Joaquin Dongo. A clerk named
Jose Joaquin Blanco, who had formerly been in his office, having fallen
into vicious courses, and joined in companionship with two other young men,
Filipe Aldama and Baltazar Quintero gamblers and cock-fighters (with
reverence be it spoken) like himself, formed, in concert with them, a plan
for robbing his former master.

They accordingly repaired to the house one evening when they knew that
Dongo was from home, and imitating the signal which Blanco knew the
coachman was in the habit of making to the porter when the carriage
returned at night, the doors were immediately thrown open, and the robbers
entered. The porter was their first victim. He was thrown down and stabbed.
A postman, who was waiting with letters for the return of the master of the
house, was the next, and then the cook, and so on, until eleven lay
weltering in their blood. The wretches then proceeded to pick the locks of
the different bureaux, guided by Blanco, who, in his former capacity, had
made himself _au fait_ of all the secrets of the house. They obtained
twenty-two thousand dollars in specie, and about seven thousand dollars'
worth of plate.

Meanwhile the unfortunate master of the house returned home, and at the
accustomed signal the doors were opened by the robbers, and on the entrance
of the carriage, instantly relocked. Seeing the porter bathed in blood, and
dead bodies lying at the foot of the staircase, he comprehended at once his
desperate situation, and advancing to Aldama, who stood near the door, he
said, "My life is in your hands; but for God's sake, show some mercy, and
do not murder me in cold blood. Say what sums of money you want. Take all
that is in the house, and leave me, and I swear to keep your secret."
Aldama consented, and Dongo passed on. As he ascended the stairs, stepping
over the body of the postman, he encountered Quintero, and to him he made
the same appeal, with the same success; when Blanco, springing forward,
held his sword to Quintero's breast, and swearing a great oath, exclaimed,
"If you do not stab him, I will kill you on the spot!" Conceive, for one
moment, the situation of the unfortunate Dongo, surrounded by the murdered
and the murderers in his own house, at the dead of the night, and without a
hope of assistance! The suspense was momentary. Thus adjured, Quintero
stabbed him to the heart.

The murderers then collected their spoil, and it being still dark, two of
them got into Dongo's carriage, the third acting as coachman, and so drove
swiftly out of the gates of the city, till, arriving at a deserted spot,
not far from a village, they turned the carriage and mules adrift, and
buried their treasure, which they transported afterwards to a house in the
Calle de la Aguila (the street of the eagle), No. 23; and went about their
avocations in the morning, as if nothing had occurred. Meanwhile, the
public consternation may be conceived, when the morning dawned upon this
bloody tragedy. As for the viceroy, he swore that the murderers should be
discovered, and hanged before his eyes, that day week.

Immediately the most energetic measures were taken, and the gates of the
city shut, to prevent all egress. Orders were given through all the
different districts of the capital, that every guest, or visitor, or
boarder, whether in inn or lodging, or private house, should have their
names given up to the police, with an account of their condition,
occupation, motives for living in Mexico, etc. Strict cognizance was taken
in all the villages near the capital, of every person who had passed
through, or entered, or left the village within a certain space of time.
All the roads near the capital were scoured by parties of soldiers. Every
hidden place was searched by the police; every suspected house entered. The
funeral of the ill-fated Dongo and of the other victims, took place the
following day; and it was afterwards remembered that Aldama was there
amongst the foremost, remarking and commenting upon this horrible wholesale
butchery, and upon the probabilities of discovering the murderers.

A country family from a neighbouring village, hearing of all these doings
in Mexico, and with that love of the marvellous which characterizes persons
uneducated, or unaccustomed to the world, determined to pay a visit to the
capital, and to hear at the fountain head, all these wonderful stories,
which had probably reached them under a hundred exaggerated forms. No
sooner had they entered their lodgings, than they were visited and examined
by the police, and their deposition taken down as to their motives for
visiting the capital, their place of birth, etc. As a gratuitous piece of
information, one of them mentioned, that, passing by a barber's shop
(probably with his eyes opened wide in the expectation of seeing horrible
sights), he had observed a man talking to the barber, who had a stain of
blood upon his _queue_ (hair being then worn powdered and tied behind).
Trifling as this circumstance appears to us, the viceroy ordered that the
person who mentioned it should instantly conduct the police officers to the
shop where he had observed it. The shop being found, the barber was
questioned as to what persons he had been conversing with that morning, and
mentioned about half-a-dozen; amongst others _Aldama_, who did not bear a
very good reputation. Aldama was sent for, confronted with the man who gave
the information, identified as the same, and the stain of blood being
observed, he was immediately committed to prison upon suspicion. Being
questioned as to the cause of the stain, he replied, that being at a
cock-fight, on such a day, at such an hour, the blood from one of the dying
cocks, which he held, had spirted up, and stained the collar of his shirt
and his hair. Inquiries being made at the cock-pit, this was corroborated
by several witnesses, and extraordinary as it is, it is most probable that
the _assertion was true_.

But meanwhile, the mother of Blanco, deeply distressed at the dissolute
courses of her son, took the resolution (which proves more than anything
else Revillagigedo's goodness, and the confidence which all classes had in
him) to consult the viceroy as to the means of converting the young man to
better habits. It seems as if the hand of an avenging Providence had
conducted this unfortunate mother to take a step so fatal to her son. She
told the viceroy that she had in vain attempted to check him, that his days
and nights were spent with profligate companions in gambling-houses and in
cock-pits, and that she feared some mischief would come some day from his
fighting and swearing and drinking; that but a few days since he had come
home late, and that she had observed that his stockings were _dabbled in
blood_; that she had questioned him upon it, and that he had answered
surlily he had got it in the cock-pit. Her narration was hardly concluded,
before Blanco was arrested and placed in a separate cell of the same prison
with Aldama. Shortly after, Quintero, only as being the intimate friend and
companion of both parties, was taken up on suspicion and lodged in the same
prison; all being separately confined, and no communication permitted
between them.

It seems as if Quintero, perhaps the least hardened of the three, was
struck with the conviction that, in the extraordinary combination of
circumstances which had led to the arrest of himself and his companions in
villany, the finger of God was too distinctly visible to permit a doubt of
ultimate discovery to rest upon his mind, for he confessed at once, and
declaring that he saw all denial was useless, gave a circumstantial account
of the whole. He begged for nine days' grace to prepare himself for death,
but the viceroy would grant but three. When Aldama confessed, he made the
avowal that he was guilty of a previous murder, when he was alcalde of a
village near Mexico, which was before the time of Revillagigedo, and for
which he had been tried and acquitted. He being alcalde, the postman of the
village was in the habit of passing by his house, giving him an account of
whatever money he had collected, etc. One evening this man stopped at
Aldama's, and told him he was intrusted with a sum of fifteen hundred
dollars to carry to a neighbouring village. At twelve o'clock he left
Aldama's house, who, taking a short cut across the fields, reached the
postman by this other direction, stabbed him, and carried back the money.
Next day, when the murder was made known, the alcalde, in his robes of
justice, visited the body, and affected to institute a strict search for
the murderer. Nevertheless he was suspected and arrested, but escaped by
bribery, and shortly after, leaving the village, came to the wider theatre
of Mexico.

The murderers having thus made their confession, were ordered to prepare
for death. A scaffold erected between the central gate of the palace, and
that which is now the principal gate of the city guards, was hung with
black to denote that the criminals were of noble blood. An immense crowd
were assembled; and the viceroy, standing on the balcony of his palace,
witnessed the execution in the great square, the _very day week_ that the
murders were committed.

The streets were then kept in perfect order, both as to paving and
lighting; and on one occasion, having rode all through the city, as was his
custom, to observe whether everything was in order for the holy week, he
observed that several parts of the different streets were unpaved, and out
of repair; whereupon, sending for the head of the police, he desired that
these streets should be paved and in order before the holy week, of which
it wanted but a few days. The officer declared the thing to be impossible.
The viceroy ordered it to be done, on the penalty of losing his place.
Early on the morning of Palm Sunday, he sent to know if all was in
readiness; and as the bells tolled for early mass, the last stone was laid
on the Calle San Francisco, which completed the work....

It is said he frequently went about _incog_., attended by one or two
aides-de-camp, by which means, like another Haroun Al Raschid, he was
enabled to discover and correct hidden abuses. By his orders, no monk could
be out of his convent after vespers. Walking one evening along the streets,
he encountered a monk in the Calle San Francisco, taking his pleasure long
after the appointed hour. The viceroy walked directly to the convent; and
on making himself known, was received by the abbot with all due respect.
"How many monks have you in your convent, father?" asked the viceroy.
"Fifty, your Excellency." "There are now only forty-nine. Call them over,
see which is the missing brother, and let his name be struck out." The list
was produced--the names called over, and only forty-five monks presented
themselves. By order of the viceroy, the five who had broken through the
rules, were never again admitted into the convent. Alas! could his
Excellency have lived in these our degenerate days, and beheld certain
monks of a certain order drinking pulque and otherwise disporting
themselves! nay, seen one, as we but just now did from the window,
strolling along the street by lamplight, with an _Yntida_ (Indian girl)
tucked under his arm!....

One more anecdote of the "immortal Revillagigedo," and I have done. It was
very late at night, when not far from the gate of the city called "The
lost child," (in commemoration of that period when "_the child Jesus
tarried behind in Jerusalem_," and that his parents sought for him
sorrowing,) his Excellency encountered a good-looking damsel, walking
briskly and alone, at these untimely hours; yet withal quiet and modest in
her demeanour. Wishing to try the temper of her steel (or brass) he left
his officers a little way behind; and perhaps they were not astonished....
"Oh! by no means, certainly not!"--when they saw the grave and severe
Revillagigedo approach the fair maiden somewhat familiarly, and request
permission to accompany her in her rambles, a proposal which was
indignantly rejected. "Anda!" (Come!) said his Excellency, "give over
these airs--you, a _mugercilla_, strolling about in search of adventures."
Imagine the feelings of his Excellency, on receiving in reply a tremendous
and well-applied box on the ear! The staff rushed forward, and were
astonished to find the viceroy with a smiling countenance, watching the
retreating steps of the adventurous damsel. "What! your Excellency--such
insolence! such audacity! such--" "Come, come," said the viceroy, "she has
proved herself worthy of our favour. Let instant inquiry be made as to her
birth and parentage, and as to her reasons for being on the streets at
this hour. They must be honest ones." The result proved the viceroy
correct in his opinion. She was a poor girl, supporting a dying mother by
giving music lessons, and obliged to trudge on foot from house to house at
all hours; and amongst her scholars was the daughter of an old lady who
lived out of the gates of the city, and from whose house, being that of
her last visited pupil, she had frequently to return late at night. On
being informed of these particulars, his Excellency ordered her a pension
of three hundred dollars per annum, to be continued to the day of her
death, and it is said she is still alive, though very old. This is making
one's fortune by a _coup de main_, or by a lucky hit!

August 6th.--This morning we had some very good music; Madame Castellan and
the tenor, and Madame Cesari having passed some hours here, together with
Madame la Baronne de ----- and a few other gentlemen and ladies. La
Castellan was very amiable, and sang beautifully, but looked pale and
fatigued. She has been very effective lately in the Somnambula. Madame
Cesari was in great beauty.

About an hour after they had gone, the new Minister and his family made
their _entree_ into Mexico. It is now, however, too late for us to return
till the autumn, as there is a great deal of fever at Vera Cruz; nor do we
entirely give up hopes, as soon as C---n shall be at leisure, of making
another journey on horseback into the interior. There are, however, rumours
of another pronunciamiento, and should this be the case, our present
quarters next to the palace will be more distinguished than agreeable.

I have always had a curiosity to know why the Calle del Indio Triste
(Street of the Sad Indian) was so called. We are on visiting terms with two
or three _houses_ in that street, and never pass those large black letters,
which tell the passenger that this is the street of "_The Sad Indian_,"
without my imagination figuring to itself that here some tragedy connected
with the conquest must have taken place. It was therefore with great joy
that I fell upon an article in the "Mosaico Mejicano," purporting to give
an explanation of this melancholy title-page to an otherwise very tolerable
(in the way of houses) but very ill-paved street, where, amongst other
handsome edifices, is the house of a rich Spaniard (Senor R---o),
remarkable for its beautiful entrance and elegant _salons_. It appears that
there are different traditions respecting it. One, that shortly after the
conquest, a rich cacique lived there, who acted as a spy on his Indian
brethren, and informed the viceroy of all their plans and combinations
against the government; but that on one occasion, having failed to inform
his patrons of an intended mutiny, they seized this pretext for
sequestrating his property:--that afterwards, poor, abandoned and despised,
he sat down in the corner of the street, weeping his misfortune and meeting
with no pity; until at length he abstained from all food for some days, and
was found dead in the corner of the street, sitting in the same melancholy
posture; that the viceroy declared his wealth crown property, and with the
intention of striking terror into the hearts of the malcontents, caused a
stone statue to be made representing the weeping Indian; that this statue
was placed at the corner of the street, with its back to the wall, and so
remained until, the house being pulled down, the statue was sent to the
Museum, where it now is; the street retaining the name of the Sad Indian.

But there is another tradition mentioned concerning the origin of the name,
more interesting and even more probable. It appears that the ground now
occupied by this street is the site of the Palace of Axayacatl, the father
of Montezuma, last Emperor of Mexico. In this spacious and magnificent
palace the Spaniards were received and lodged, and, according to
Torquemada, each in a separate apartment. There were a multitude of idols
in this dwelling, and though they had no separate temple, various feasts
were dedicated to them. After the conquest they were for the most part
broken and destroyed, and it was only lately that, by accident, the head of
the god of the waters, beautifully worked in serpentine marble, was
discovered there; still, one statue had been preserved, that of an Indian,
said to have been placed there by the Aztecs, as a memorial of their sorrow
at the death of Montezuma, to whom, on account of his misfortunes, they
gave the name of "_el Indio triste_." This was afterwards placed at the
corner of the new building erected there by the Spaniards, and gave its
name to the street. It is a melancholy looking statue, whomsoever it may
represent, of an Indian in a sitting posture, with a most dejected and
forlorn air and countenance. The material is basaltic stone.

11th.--C---n has just returned from seeing the general archives, which are
all in confusion and going to ruin. Don Ygnacio Cuevas, who has the charge
of them, has written various works--the History of the Viceroys-the
Californias, etc.--which were robbed or destroyed in the last
pronunciamiento. He related the story of Revillagigedo and the jewels, only
differing from _my_ friend's narrative in that he says it was not a
jewel-case, but a diamond bracelet. He assured C---n that Mexico in Indian
means "below this," alluding to the population who, according to tradition,
are buried beneath the _Pedregal_.

18th.--News has arrived that General Paredes _pronounced_ in Guadalajara on
the eighth of the month! Strange rumours are afloat, and it is generally
supposed that Santa Anna is or will be the prime mover of the great changes
that are predicted. By many, however, it is talked of as very trifling, as
a mere movement that will soon be put down. The plan which Paredes has
published is essentially military, but announces a congress, which renders
it very popular in the departments. It has been adopted by the departments
of Zacatecas, Durango, and Guanajvato. Meanwhile, everything continues here
as usual. We have been several times at the opera; the _paseos_ are very
crowded, and we had a musical _soiree_ the other evening, which was very
gay, but from the signs of the times, will probably be our last in Mexico.

28th.--This morning C---n took his farewell audience of the president, and
the new Minister was received.

3Oth.--These few last days have chiefly been spent in paying visits of
ceremony with the Senora -----. Nevertheless we spent an hour last evening
in the beautiful cemetery a little way out of the city, which is rather a
favourite haunt of ours, and is known as the "_Panteon de Santa Maria_." It
has a beautiful chapel attached to it, where the daily mass is said for the
dead, and a large garden filled with flowers. Young trees of different
kinds have been planted there, and the sight of the tombs themselves, in
their long and melancholy array of black coffins, with gold-lettered
inscriptions, even while it inspires the saddest ideas, has something
soothing in its effect. They are kept in perfect order, and the
inscriptions, though not always eloquent, are almost always full of
feeling, and sometimes extremely touching. There is one near the entrance,
which is pathetic in its native language, and though it loses much in the
translation, I shall transcribe it:

"Here lie the beloved remains of Carmen and Jose Pimentel y Heras. The
first died the 11th of June, 1838, aged one year and eleven months; the
second on the 5th of September of 1839, in the sixteenth month of his
existence; and to their dear memory maternal love dedicates the


"Babes of my love! my Carmen and Jose!
Sons of your cherished father, Pimentel.
Why have you left your mother's side? for whom?
What motives have ye had to leave me thus?
But hark! I hear your voice--and breathlessly I listen.
I hear ye say--'To go to heaven!
Mother! we have left thee to see our God!'
Beloved shades! if this indeed be so,
Then let these bitter tears be turned to joy.
It is not meet that I should mourn for ye,
Since me ye have exchanged for my God.
To Him give thanks! and in your holy songs,
Pray that your parents' fate may be like yours."


Agitation--Storm--Revolution--Manifesto--Resembling a Game of
Chess--Position of the Pieces--Appearance of the City--Firing--State of
Parties--Comparisons--"_Comicios_"--The People--Congress--Santa
Anna--Amnesty offered--Roaring of Cannon--Proclamation--Time to _look at
home_--The Will of the Nation--Different Feelings--Judge's House
destroyed--The Mint in Requisition--Preparations--Cannonading--"_Los


This afternoon the clouds, gathered together in gloomy masses, announced a
thunderstorm, and at the same time a certain degree of agitation apparently
pervading the city was suddenly observable from our balconies. Shops were
shutting up; people hurrying in all directions, heads at all the windows,
and men looking out from the azoteas; but as these symptoms were
immediately followed by a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning and
splashing rain, we trusted that the cause had been very simple. But these
elements of nature are wielded by the Hand that called them forth, and can
stay them at His will, and the sun breaking forth smilingly and scattering
the clouds, made us feel that the storm had but refreshed the parched earth
and cleared the sultry atmosphere. Not so with the storm which has been
brooding in the hearts of a handful of ambitious men, and which has burst
forth at last, its bolts directed by no wise or merciful power, and by the
hands of selfish and designing and short-sighted mortals.

The storm, though short, had not pased away, when news was brought us of a
new _revolution in Mexico_! General Valencia, he who pronounced (but two
short months ago!) the high-flown and flattering speech to the president,
on receiving the sword of honour, has now _pronounced_ in a very different
and much clearer manner. Listen to him now:--

"Soldiers! The despotism of the Mexican government, the innumerable evils
which the nation suffers, the unceasing remonstrances which have been made
against these evils, and which have met with no attention, have forced us
to take a step this evening, which is not one of rebellion, but is the
energetic expression of our resolution to sacrifice everything to the
common good and interest. The cause which we defend is that of all
Mexicans; of the rich as of the poor; of the soldier as of the civilian. We
want a country, a government, the felicity of our homes, and respect from
without; and we shall obtain all; let us not doubt it. The nation will be
moved by our example. The arms which our country has given us for her
defence, we shall know how to employ in restoring her honour--an honour
which the government has stained by not acknowledging the total absence of
morality and energy in the actual authorities. The army which made her
independent shall also render her powerful and free. The illustrious
General Santa Anna to-day marches to Puebla, at the head of our heroic
companions at Vera Cruz, while upon Queretaro, already united to the
valiant General Paredes, the brave General Cortazar now begins his

"In a few days we shall see the other forces of the republic in motion, all
co-operating to the same end. The triumph is secure, my friends, and the
cause which we proclaim is so noble, that conquerors, we shall be covered
with glory; and, happen what may, we shall be honoured by our

In this manifesto, which is mere declamation, there is no plan. It appears
that no one particularly counted upon General Valencia, and that, whether
fearing to be left out in the events which he saw approaching, or
apprehensive of being arrested by the government, who suspected him, he has
thought it wisest to strike a blow on his own account. Pacheco, who
commanded the citadel, together with Generals Lombardini and Sales, who had
been ordered out to march with their respective regiments against the
_pronunciados_, are now in the citadel, and in a state of revolt. The two
last had but just received money for the payment of their troops on the
preceding day.

8 o'clock.--Nothing further, but that the president has sallied forth on
horseback from San Agustin; and was received with repeated _vivas_ by the
people collected in the square.

1st September.--This revolution is like a game at chess, in which kings,
castles, knights, and bishops, are making different moves, while the pawns
are looking on or taking no part whatever.

To understand the state of the board, it is necessary to explain the
position of the four principal pieces--Santa Anna, Bustamante, Paredes, and
Valencia. The first move was made by Paredes, who published his plan, and
_pronounced_ on the eighth of August at Guadalajara. About the same time,
Don F---- M----, a Spanish broker, who had gone to Manga de Clavo, was sent
to Guadalajara, and had a conference with Paredes, the result of which was,
that the plan of that general was withdrawn, and it was supposed that he
and Santa Anna had formed a combination. Shortly after, the Censor of Vera
Cruz, a newspaper entirely devoted to Santa Anna, pronounced in favour of
the plan of Paredes, and Santa Anna, with a few miserable troops, and a
handful of cavalry, arrived at Perote. Here he remains for the present,
kept in check by the (government) General Torrejon. Meanwhile Paredes, with
about six hundred men, left Guadalajara and marched upon Guanajuato; and
there a blow was given to the government party by the defection of General
Cortazar, who thought fit thus to show his grateful sense of having just
received the rank of general of brigade with the insignia of this new
grade, which the president put on with his own hands. Another _check to the
president_. Once begun, defection spread rapidly, and Paredes and Cortazar
having advanced upon Queretaro, found that General Juvera, with his
garrison, had already _pronounced_ there, at the moment that they were
expected in Mexico to assist the government against Valencia. Paredes,
Cortazar, and Juvera are now united, and their forces amount to two
thousand two hundred men.

Meanwhile General Valencia, pressed to declare _his plan_, has replied that
he awaits the announcement of the intentions of Generals Paredes and Santa
Anna; and, for his own part, only desires the dismissal of General

This, then, is the position of the three principal _pronounced_ chiefs, on
this second day of September of the year of our Lord 1841. Santa Anna in
Perote, hesitating whether to advance or retreat, and, in fact, prevented
from doing either by the vicinity of General Torrejon. Paredes in
Queretaro, with the other revolted generals. Valencia in the citadel of
Mexico with his _pronunciados_; while Bustamante, with Generals Almonte and
Canalizo, the _mark_ against which all these hostile operations are
directed, is determined, it is said, to fight to the last.

Mexico looks as if it had got a general holiday. Shops shut up, and all
business is at a stand. The people, with the utmost apathy, are collected
in groups, talking quietly; the officers are galloping about; generals, in
a somewhat party-coloured dress, with large gray hats, striped pantaloons,
old coats, and generals' belts, fine horses, and crimson-coloured velvet
saddles. The shopkeepers in the square have been removing their goods and
money. An occasional shot is heard, and sometimes a volley, succeeded by a
dead silence. The archbishop shows his reverend face now and then upon the
opposite balcony of his palace, looks out a little while, and then retires.
The chief effect, so far, is universal idleness in man and beast,--the
soldiers and their quadrupeds excepted.

The position of the president, however, is not so bad as at first sight it
might appear, or as it will be, if his enemies are permitted to reunite. He
has upwards of two thousand men, twelve pieces of ordnance, and, though his
infantry are few, and he has little artillery, he has good cavalry.
Valencia has twelve hundred men, twenty-six pieces of ordnance, with good
infantry, and almost all the artillery. The rebels have possessed
themselves of the Acordada, and given liberty to those who were imprisoned
for political opinions--a good loophole for the escape of criminals.

Those who understand these matters say that the principal object of the
government should be to reduce the rebels to the citadel only, and to
occupy all the important points in its neighbourhood, San Diego, San
Hipolito, San Fernando, etc.; but as yet this has not been done, and the
_pronunciados_ are gradually extending, and taking possession of these

3rd.--They are now keeping up a pretty brisk fire between San Agustin and
the citadel. This morning the streets were covered with coaches, filled
with families leaving the city.

4th.--Things are becoming more complicated. The rebels now occupy San Jose,
Salto de Agua, the college of Vizcaynas (from which all the poor girls and
their teachers have fled), Regina, San Juan de la Penitencia, San Diego,
and San Fernando--a long line of important points. The president's line
begins at San Francisco, continuing by La Concepcion; but, without a map of
the city, you will not understand the position of the two parties. However,
every turret and belfry is covered with soldiers, and the streets are
blocked up with troops and trenches. From behind these turrets and trenches
they fire at each other, scarcely a soldier falling, but numbers of
peaceful citizens; shells and bombs falling through the roofs of the
houses, and all this for "_the public good_."

The war of July had at least a shadow of pretext; it was a war of party,
and those who wished to re-establish federalism may have acted with good
faith. Now there is neither principle, nor pretext, nor plan, nor the
shadow of reason or legality. Disloyalty, hypocrisy, and the most sordid
calculation, are all the motives that can be discovered; and those who then
affected an ardent desire for the welfare of their country have now thrown
aside their masks, and appear in their true colours; and the great mass of
the people, who, thus passive and oppressed, allow their quiet homes to be
invaded, are kept in awe neither by the force of arms, nor by the depth of
the views of the conspirators, but by a handful of soldiers, who are
themselves scarcely aware of their own wishes or intentions, but that they
desire power and distinction at any price.

It is said that the federalists are very much elated, hoping for the
eventual triumph of their party, particularly in consequence of a
proclamation by Valencia, which appeared two days ago, and is called "the
plan of the _Comicios_," said to be written by General Tomel, who has gone
over to the citadel, and who, having a great deal of classical learning,
talks in it of the Roman _Committees_ (the _Comicios_). Since then the
revolution has taken the name of liberal, and is supported by men of name,
the Pedrazas, Belderas, Riva Palacio, and others, which is of great
importance to Valencia, and has given force and consistency to his party.
Besides this, the _pronunciados_ have the advantage of a free field from
the citadel out to Tacubaya, where it is said that certain rich bankers,
who are on their side, are constantly supplying the citadel with cartloads
of copper, which they send in from thence....

Meanwhile, we pass our time very quietly. In the morning we generally have
visitors very early, discussing the probabilities, and giving us the last
reports. Sometimes we venture out when there is no firing, which is much
less constant and alarming than it was last year. So far we continue to
have visitors in the evening, and Senor B---- and I have been playing duets
on the harp and piano, even though Mexico is declared "in a state of
siege." The ----- Minister, who was here this morning, does, however,
strongly recommend us to change our quarters, and to remove to Tacubaya;
which will be so troublesome, that we are inclined to delay it until it
becomes absolutely necessary....

5th.--We went upon the azotea this afternoon, to have a good view of the
city. There were people on almost all the balconies, as on a fete-day. A
picturesque group of friars of the order of La Merced, in their white
robes, had mounted up on the belfry of their church, and were looking out
anxiously. The palace roof next our own had soldiers on it. Everything at
that moment was still and tranquil; but the conduct of the people is our
constant source of surprise. Left entirely uncurbed, no one to direct them,
thousands out of employment, many without bread, they meddle with nothing,
do not complain, and scarcely seem to feel any interest in the result. How
easily might such a people be directed for their good! It is said that all
their _apathetic sympathies_ are in favour of Bustamante.

Some say that Santa Anna will arrive to-day--some that the whole affair
will be settled by treaty; but neither reports nor bulletins can be
depended on, as scarcely any one speaks according to his true feelings or
belief, but according to his political party....

It appears that the conduct of congress in this emergency has given little
satisfaction. They affect to give a declaration of the national will, and
are as ambiguous as the Delphic Oracle; and it is said that their half-
measures, and determination not to see that public opinion is against them,
and that a thorough change can alone undermine this military revolution,
will contribute more than anything to its eventual triumph....

The president has made use of the extraordinary powers which have been
granted him by the _Poder Conservador_ (conservative power, a singular and
intermediate authority introduced into the Mexican constitution), to
abolish the ten per cent, on consumption, and to modify the personal
contribution, reducing it to the richer classes alone. This concession has
apparently produced no effect. It is said that the government troops
continue to desert, convinced that a revolution in which Santa Anna takes
part must triumph. Four new generals have been made by the president....

6th.--We went out to Tacubaya, and found it impossible to procure a room
there, far less a house. This is also the case at Guadalupe, San Joaquin,
in fact in every village near Mexico. We are in no particular danger,
unless they were to bombard the palace. There was a slight shock of an
earthquake yesterday.

10th.--On the 7th, the president offered an amnesty to the _pronunciados_.
Whatever might have been the result, the evening concluded with a terrible
thunderstorm, mingled with the roaring of cannon, which had a most
lugubrious effect. Many people were killed on the street. We had gone out
in the morning, but met the Ex-Minister H---a, who strongly advised us to
return home directly, as balls were falling, and accidents happening all

Soon after a proclamation was issued by General Valencia, purporting that
if the president did not yield, he would bombard the palace; and that if
the powder which is kept there were to blow up, it would ruin half the
city. This induced us to look at home, for if the palace is bombarded, the
Casa de Moneda cannot escape, and if the palace is blown up, the Casa de
Moneda will most certainly keep it company. When the proclamation came out
in the morning, various were the opinions expressed in consequence. Some
believed it to be a mere threat, and others that it would take place at
eleven at night. An old supernumerary soldier who lives here (one of those
who was disabled by the last revolution) assured us that we had better
leave the house, and as we refused, on the plea of having no safer house to
go to, he walked off to the azotea, telling us he would _let us know_ when
the first bomb fell on the palace, and that then we must go perforce. In
the evening we went downstairs to the large vaulted rooms where they are
making cannon balls, and where the vaults are so thick and solid, that it
was thought we should be in safety, even if General Valencia really kept
his word. We sat up that night till twelve o'clock, listening anxiously,
but nothing happened; and now, in consequence of a deputation which has
been sent to the citadel by certain foreigners of distinction (though
unknown to the government), we are no longer afraid of any sudden assault
of this kind, as General Valencia has promised, in consideration of their
representations, not to proceed to these last extremities, unless driven to
them for his own defence.

In listening to the different opinions which are current, it would seem
that Bustamante, Santa Anna, and Valencia are all equally unpopular; and
that the true will of the nation, which congress was afraid to express, was
first for the immediate convocation of a Constitutional Congress; and
secondly, that they should not be governed by Santa Anna, yet that
Bustamante should renounce, and a provisional president should be named....

Santa Anna writes, complaining that Bustamante, by assuming extraordinary
powers, commanding the army and yet continuing president, is infringing the
constitution. But as he is coming on to destroy it entirely, this is being
rather particular. It is reported that the typhus fever is in the citadel,
but there are many floating rumours which are not to be depended upon....
There is evidently a great deal of consternation beginning to be felt
amongst the lower classes. Foreigners generally are inclined towards Santa
Anna, Mexicans to Bustamante; but all feel the present evils. The leperos
seem to swarm in greater numbers than ever, and last evening two small
shops were broken into and robbed. In vain the president publishes
manifestos that the shops may be opened; they remain carefully shut, all
commerce paralyzed, and every one, who has the means to do so, leaving the

We hear that the shells from the citadel have destroyed part of the
beautiful house belonging to Judge Pena y Penas, in front of the Alameda.

11th.--We have just received private information from the government, that
they will shortly require this house for arms and ammunition and troops;
coupled with still more private advice to provide for our safety by leaving
it. We shall therefore gladly accept the kind invitation of the F---a
family, to remove to their hacienda of San Xavier, about three leagues from
this. We had at first declined this invitation, owing to its distance from
the city--inconvenient for us, who are only waiting for the first
opportunity to leave it; but besides that after the most diligent search in
all the surrounding villages, we cannot find a single unoccupied room, we
are very glad to spend our remaining days in Mexico with so distinguished a
family. I shall therefore write little more at present on the subject of
the revolution, which now that we have lived some time in Mexico, and have
formed friendships there, fills us with feelings entirely different from
those which the last produced; with personal sentiments of regret, private
fears, and hopes for the future, and presentiments of evil which owe more
than half their sadness to individual feelings.

12th.--We are now in the midst of all the confusion occasioned by another
removal; surrounded by trunks and boxes and _cargadores_, and at the same
time by our friends (all those who have not taken flight yet) taking leave
of us....

A great cannonading took place last night, but without any important
result. The soldiers, in the day-time amuse themselves by insulting each
other from the roofs of the houses and convents. Yesterday, one of the
president's party singled out a soldier in the citadel, shot him, and then
began to dance the _Enanos_, and in the midst of a step, _he_ was shot, and
rolled over, dead....

We shall write again from San Xavier.


Leave Mexico-Travelling Equipage--San Xavier--Fine
Hacienda--Millionaires--Well-educated Ladies--Garden,
etc.--Tlanapantla--Indian Hut--Mrs. Ward--Dona Margarita--The
_Pronunciamiento_--False Step--Santa Anna in Puebla--Neutrality--General
Paredes--President in Tlanapantla--Tired Troops--Their March--Their
Return--Curate's House--Murder--General Paredes in the Lecheria--President
in Tlanapantla--A Meeting--Return of the President and his Troops--General
Paredes and his Men--Santa Anna in Tacubaya--A Junction--President in
Mexico--_Allied Sovereigns_--Plan--Articles--President declares for
Entry--_Te Deum_--New Ministry.

SAN XAVIER, 16th September.

After a morning of fatigue, confusion, bustle, leave-taking, etc., etc., a
coach with four mules, procured with the utmost difficulty, drove up to the
door; the coach old and crazy, the mules and harness quite consistent, and
the postilions so tipsy that they could hardly keep their seats. But we had
no time to be particular, and climbed in amidst bows and hand-shakings, and
prophecies of breaking down and of being robbed by a band of _forcats_
headed by a Spaniard, who are said to be scouring the country; who are
_said_ to be, for just now, seeing is believing, and few reports are worth
attending to. However, we took two servants on horseback, by way of escort,
and rattled off, the coach creaking ominously, the postilions swinging from
side to side, and our worthy housekeeper, whom we had carried off from the
smoking city, screaming out her last orders to the _galopina_, concerning a
certain green parrot which she had left in the charge of that
tender-hearted damsel, who, with her _reboso_ at her eyes, surrounded by
directors of the mint, secretaries of legation, soldiers and porters, had
enough to do to take charge of herself. The city looked very sad, as we
drove through the streets; with closed shops, and barred windows, and
cannon planted, and soldiers riding about. At every village we passed, the
drivers called for brandy, tossed off a glassful, which appeared to act
like a composing draught, as they gradually recovered their equilibrium. We
were glad to arrive at San Xavier, where we received a most cordial
welcome, and to be removed, at least for a while, from sights and sounds of
destruction. A great part of the road to _Tlanapantla_, the village near
which San Xavier is situated, leads through traces of the ruins of the
ancient Tenochtitlan.

This part of the country is extremely pretty, being a corn and not a maguey
district. Instead of the monotonous and stiff maguey, whose head never
bends to the blast, we are surrounded by fields of waving corn. There are
also plenty of trees; poplar, ash, and elm; and one flourishing specimen of
the latter species, which we see from the windows in front of the house,
was brought here by Mr. Poinsett. The hacienda, which is about three
leagues from Mexico, is a large irregular building in rather a low
situation, surrounded by dark blue hills. It belongs to the Senoras de
F---a, of the family of the Marquis de A---o; _millionaires_--being rich in
haciendas and silver-mines; very religious, very charitable, and what is
less common here, extremely learned; understanding French, English, German,
and even Latin. Their education they owe to the care of their father, one
of the most distinguished men in Mexico, who was banished twice, once for
liberal opinions, and the second time for supporting the "Plan of Iguala,"
in fact for not being liberal enough. In these emigrations, his family
accompanied him, travelled over a great part of Europe, and profited by
their opportunities. They returned here when the independence was
accomplished, hoping for peace, but in vain. Constant alarms, and perpetual
revolutions have succeeded one another ever since that period.

The hacienda has the usual _quantum_ of furniture belonging to these
country houses; and it is certainly no longer a matter of surprise to us,
that rich proprietors take little interest in embellishing them. A house
which will in all probability be converted once a year into a barrack, is
decidedly better in a state of nature, than encumbered with elegant
furniture. This house has been entirely destroyed in that way more than
once, and the last time that it was occupied by troops, was left like an
Augean stable. We have here the luxury of books. My room opens into a
beautiful chapel, covered with paintings representing saints and virgins
holding lilies, where mass is said occasionally, though the family
generally attend mass in the village church of Tlanapantla. Before the
house is a small flower-garden filled with roses and peculiarly fine
dahlias, pomegranate-trees and violets, which, though single, have a
delicious fragrance. This stretches out into an immense vegetable-garden
and orchard, terminating in a shrubbery, through which walks are cut,
impervious to the sun at noon-day. There is also a large reservoir of
water, and the garden, which covers a great space of ground, is kept in
good order. There are beautiful walks in the neighbourhood, leading to
Indian villages, old churches, and farms; and all the lanes are bordered
with fruit-trees.

Tlanapantla, which means in Indian, _between lands_, its church having been
built by the Indians of two districts, is a small village, with an old
church, ruined remains of a convent, where the curate now lives, a few
shops, and a square where the Indians hold market (_tangis_ they call it)
on Fridays. All along the lanes are small Indian huts, with their usual mud
floor, small altar, earthen vessels, and collection of daubs on the walls;
especially of the Virgin of Guadalupe; with a few blest palm-leaves in the
corner; occupied, when the men are at work, by the Indian woman herself,
her sturdy, scantily-clothed progeny, and plenty of yelping dogs. Mrs.
Ward's sketch of the interior of an Indian hut is perfect, as all her
Mexican sketches are. When the women are also out at their work, they are
frequently tenanted by the little children alone. Taking refuge from a
shower of rain yesterday, in one of these mud huts, we found no one there
but a little bronze-coloured child, about three years old, sleeping all
alone on the floor, with the door wide open; and though we talked loud, and
walked about in the cottage, the little thing never wakened. A second
shower drove us for shelter to a farmhouse, where we entered a sort of
oratorio attached to the house; a room which is not consecrated, but has an
altar, crucifix, holy pictures, etc. The floor was strewed with flowers,
and in one corner was an old stringless violoncello, that might have formed
a pendant to the harp of Tara.

However, the most remarkable object of the rancho is its proprietress, a
tall, noble-looking Indian, Dona Margarita by name, a mountaineer by birth,
and now a rich widow, possessing lands and flocks, though living in
apparent poverty. The bulk of her fortune she employs in educating poor
orphans. Every poor child who has no parents, finds in her a mother and
protectress; the more wretched, or sick, or deformed, the more certain of
an asylum with her. She takes them into her house, brings them up as her
own children, has them bred to some useful employment, and when they are
old enough, married. If it is a boy, she chooses him a wife from amongst
the girls of the mountains, where she was born, who she says are "less
corrupted" than the girls of the village. She has generally from twelve to
twenty on her hands, always filling up with new orphans the vacancies
caused in her small colony by death or marriage. There is nothing
picturesque about these orphans, for, as I said before, the most deformed
and helpless, and maimed and sick, are the peculiar objects of Dona
Margarita's care; nevertheless, we saw various healthy, happy-looking
girls, busied in various ways, washing and ironing, and sewing, whose very
eyes gleamed when we mentioned her name, and who spoke of her with a
respect and affection that it was pleasant to witness. Truly, this woman is
entitled to happy dreams and soft slumbers! The remainder of her fortune
she employs in the festivals and ceremonies of the church; in fireworks, in
ornaments for the altars, etc.

9th.--Every day a messenger arrives from Mexico, bringing news of the
_pronunciamiento_, which are eagerly waited for, and read with intense
interest. It is probable, now, that affairs will soon come to a crisis. A
step has been taken by the president, which is considered very imprudent by
those who are looking on in this great game. General Torrejon, who with
nine hundred good soldiers kept Santa Anna in awe at Perote, has been sent
for to Mexico, Bustamante wishing to reunite his forces. These troops,
together with those of Codallos (the Governor of Puebla) brings up his army
to three thousand five hundred, or some say to four thousand men, all
effective, and of which nine hundred are good cavalry. Bustamante being now
at the head of the army, Hechavarria exercises the executive power,
according to the constitution, in his capacity of president of the Council
of State, (_Consejo de Estado_); the Mexicans having no vice-president.

Santa Anna, who had until now remained in Perote with his unorganized
troops, no officers on whom he could depend, and a handful of miserable
cavalry, has moved forwards to Puebla. Arrived there, his numbers were
increased by one hundred men of the Tobacco customs, (brought him by
Senor -----, who, with a rich Spanish banker went out to meet him,) forty
horsemen seduced from the escort of Codallos, and a company of
watchmen! As yet, no movement has taken place or seems likely to take
place in his favour in Puebla. Senor Haro is named governor of that city
in the place of Codallos, who was sent for to join the president in
Mexico; and Puebla, which used to be the great theatre of revolutions, has
remained on this occasion in the most perfect neutrality, neither
declaring for one party nor the other; probably the wisest course to
pursue at this juncture. Every one is of opinion that five hundred troops
sent by Bustamante, would instantly put this mongrel army of Santa Anna's
to flight; for though he has collected about a thousand men, he has not
three hundred good soldiers....

On the other hand, General Paredes is marching in this direction with
General Cortazar, his orders from Santa Anna no doubt being to keep the
president in play, and to divert his attention by treaties or preliminaries
of treaties, whilst he continues to march with caution towards the capital.
The great event to be dreaded by the government is a junction of the
_pronunciado_ forces. As long as they are separate, it is in no immediate
danger; but like the bundle of rods, what can easily be broken separately,
will assume strength when joined together. I make no further excuse for
talking about politics. We talk and think of little else.

21st.--Yesterday (Sunday) we were startled by the intelligence, that
Generals Canalizo and Noriega had arrived at the village in the middle of
the night, with a large troop, and that General Bustamante himself had made
his appearance there at five in the morning: so that the peaceful little
Tlanapantla had suddenly assumed a warlike appearance. As it lies on the
direct road to Guanajuato there could be no doubt that they were marching
to meet Paredes. C---n immediately walked down to the village to pay his
respects to the president, who was lodged at the curate's, and meanwhile
General Noriega came to the hacienda to see the ladies. C---n found the
president very much fatigued, having passed fourteen days and nights under
arms, and in constant anxiety; General Orbegoso was with him.

After breakfast we went down to the village to see the troops, who were
resting there for a few hours. The cavalry occupied the square, the horses
standing, and the men stretched asleep on the ground, each soldier beside
his horse. The infantry occupied the churchyard. Dreadfully fatigued, they
were lying some on the grass, and others with their heads pillowed on the
old tombstones, resting as well as they could with their armour on. Before
they started, the curate said mass to them in the square. There was a good
deal of difficulty in procuring the most common food for so many hungry
men. Tortillas had been baked in haste, and all the hens in the village
were put in requisition to obtain eggs for the president and his officers.
We sat down in a porch to see them set off; a melancholy sight enough, in
spite of drums beating and trumpets sounding. An old soldier, who came up
to water his own and his master's horse, began to talk to us of what was
going on, and seemed anything but enthusiastic at the prospects of himself
and his comrades, assuring us that the army of General Paredes was double
their number. He was covered with wounds received in the war against Texas,
and expressed his firm conviction that we should see the Comanche Indians
on the streets of Mexico one of these days; at which savage tribe he
appeared to have a most devout horror; describing to a gaping audience the
manner in which he had seen a party of them devour three of their

About four o'clock the signal for departure was sounded, and they went off
amidst the cheers of the people.

22nd.--Great curiosity was excited yesterday afternoon, when news was
brought us that Bustamante, with his generals and troops, had returned, and
had passed through the village, on their way back to Mexico! Some say that
this retrograde march is in consequence of a movement made in Mexico by
General Valencia--others that it has been caused by a message received from
General Paredes. We paid a visit in the evening to the old curate, who was
pretty much in the dark, morally and figuratively, in a very large hall,
where were assembled a number of females, and one tallow candle. Of course
all were talking politics, and especially discoursing of the visit of the
president the preceding night, and of his departure in the morning, and of
his return in the afternoon, and of the difficulty of procuring tortillas
for the men, and eggs for the officers.

23rd.--We have received news this morning of the murder of our porter, the
Spaniard whom we had brought from Havana. He had left us, and was employed
as porter in a _fabrica_ (manufactory), where the wife and family of the
proprietor resided. Eight of General Valencia's soldiers sallied forth from
the citadel to rob this factory, and poor Jose, the most faithful and
honest of servants, having valiantly defended the door, was cruelly
murdered. They afterwards entered the building, robbed, and committed
dreadful outrages. They are selling printed papers through the streets
to-day, giving an account of it. The men are taken up, and it is said will
be shot by orders of the general; but we doubt this, even though a message
has arrived, requiring the attendance of the _padre_ who confesses
criminals; a Franciscan monk, who, with various of his brethren, are living
here for safety at present.

The situation of Mexico is melancholy.

24th.--News have arrived that General Paredes has arrived at the
_Lecheria_, an hacienda belonging to this family, about three leagues from
San Xavier: and that from thence he sent one of the servants of the farm to
Mexico, inviting the president to a personal conference. The family take
this news of their hacienda's being turned into military quarters very
philosophically; the only precaution on these occasions being to conceal
the best horses, as the _pronunciados_ help themselves, without ceremony,
to these useful quadrupeds, wherever they are to be found.

26th.--This morning, General Bustamante and his troops arrived at
Tlanapantla, the president in a coach. Having met C---n on the road, he
stopped for a few moments and informed him that he was on his way to meet
General Paredes at the _Lecheria_, where he hoped to come to a composition
with him. We listened all day with anxiety, but hearing no firing,
concluded that some arrangement had in fact been made. In the evening we
walked out on the high-road, and met the president, the governor, and the
troops all returning. What securities Bustamante can have received, no one
can imagine, but it is certain that they have met without striking a blow.
It was nearly dusk as they passed, and the president bowed cheerfully,
while some of the officers rode up, and assured us that all was settled.

Sunday, 27th.--Cavalry, infantry, carriages, cannon, etc., are all passing
through the village. These are the _pronunciados_, with General Paredes,
following to Mexico. Feminine curiosity induces me to stop here, and to
join the party who are going down to the village to see them pass....

We have just returned after a sunny walk, and an _inspection_ of the
_pronunciados_--they are too near Mexico now for me to venture to call them
_the rebels_. The infantry, it must be confessed, was in a very ragged and
rather drunken condition--the cavalry better, having _borrowed_ fresh
horses as they went along. Though certainly not _point-device_ in their
accoutrements, their good horses, high saddles, bronze faces, and
picturesque attire, had a fine effect as they passed along under the
burning sun. The sick followed on asses, and amongst them various masculine
women, with _sarapes_ or _mangas_ and large straw hats, tied down with
coloured handkerchiefs, mounted on mules or horses. The sumpter mules
followed, carrying provisions, camp-beds, etc.; and various Indian women
trotted on foot in the rear, carrying their husbands' boots and clothes.
There was certainly no beauty amongst these feminine followers of the camp,
especially amongst the mounted Amazons, who looked like very ugly men in a
semi-female disguise. The whole party are on their way to Tacubaya, to join
Santa Anna! The game is nearly up now. _Check from two knights and a
castle_--from Santa Anna and Paredes in Tacubaya, and from Valencia in the
citadel. People are flying in all directions, some from Mexico, and others
from Guadalupe and Tacubaya....

It appears that Santa Anna was marching from Puebla, feeling his way
towards the capital in fear and trembling. At Rio Frio a sentinel's gun
having accidentally gone off, the whole army were thrown into the most
ludicrous consternation and confusion. Near Oyotla the general's brow
cleared up, for here he was met by commissioners from the government,
Generals Orbegoso and Guyame. In a moment the quick apprehension of Santa
Anna saw that the day was his own. He gave orders to continue the march
with all speed to Tacubaya, affecting to listen to the proposals of the
commissioners, amusing them without compromising himself, and offering to
treat with them at _Mexicalsingo_. They returned without having received
any decided answer, and without, on their part, having given any assurance
that his march should not be stopped; yet he has been permitted to arrive
unmolested at Tacubaya, where Paredes has also arrived, and where he has
been joined by General Valencia; so that the three _pronunciado_ generals
are now united there to dispose of the fate of the republic....

The same day General Almonte had an interview with Santa Anna, who said
with a smile, when he left him, "_Es buen muchacho_ (he is a good lad)--he
may be of service to us yet." ...

The three _allied sovereigns_ are now in the archbishop's palace at
Tacubaya, from whence they are to dictate to the president and the nation.
But they are, in fact, chiefly occupied with their respective engagements
and respective rights. Paredes wishes to fulfil his engagements with the
departments of Guanjuato, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguas Calientes, Queretaro,
etc. In his _plan_ he promised them religious toleration, permission for
foreigners to hold property, and so on--the last, in fact, being his
favourite project. Valencia, on his side, has his engagements to fulfil
with the federalists, and has proposed Senor Pedraza as an integral part of
the regeneration--one whose name will give confidence now and ever to his
party. General Santa Anna has engagements _with himself_. He has determined
to command them all, and allows them to fight amongst themselves, provided
he governs. Paredes is, in fact, furious with Valencia, accusing him of
having interfered when not wanted, and of having ruined his _plan_, by
mingling it with a revolution, with which it had no concern. He does not
reflect that Valencia was the person who gave the mortal wound to the
government. Had he not revolted, Santa Anna would not have left Perote, nor
Paredes himself passed on unmolested....

The conservative body has been invited to go to Tacubaya, but has refused.
The majority desire the election of Paredes, or of any one who is not Santa
Anna or Valencia; but Paredes himself, while drawing no very flattering
portrait of Santa Anna, declares that he is the only man in the republic
fit for the presidency--the only man who can make himself obeyed--in short,
the only one capable of taking those energetic measures which the safety of
the republic requires. He flatters himself that he, at the head of his
division, will always keep Santa Anna in check; as if Cortazar, who
deserted Bustamante in a moment of difficulty, could be depended on!...

Meanwhile they are fortifying Mexico; and some suppose that Bustamante and
his generals have taken the rash determination of permitting all their
enemies to unite, in order to destroy them at one blow....

29th.--There being at present an armistice between the contending parties,
a document was published yesterday, fruits of the discussion of the allied
powers at Tacubaya. It is called "_las bases de Tacubaya_," and being
published in Mexico by General Almonte, many expected and hoped that a new
_pronunciamiento_ would be the consequence; but it has been quietly
received, and the federalists welcome it as containing the foundations of
federalism and popularity. There are thirteen articles, which are as

By the first--It is the will of the nation that the supreme powers
established by the constitution of '36 have ceased, excepting the judicial,
which will be limited in its functions to matters purely judicial,
conformably to the existing laws.

By the second--A _junta_ is to be named, composed of two deputies from each
department, elected by his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief of the Mexican
army, Don Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, in order that they may be entirely
free to point out the person who is to hold the executive power

By the third--This person is immediately to assume the executive power,
taking an oath in the presence of the junta to set for the welfare of the

By the fourth--The provisional executive power shall in two months convoke
a new congress, which, with ample powers, shall engage to reconstitute the
nation, as appears most suitable to them.

By the fifth--This congress extraordinary shall reunite in six months after
it is convened, and shall solely occupy itself in forming the constitution.

By the sixth--The provincial executive shall answer for its acts before the
first constitutional congress.

By the seventh--The provincial executive shall have all the powers
necessary for the organization of all the branches of the public

By the eighth--Four Ministers shall be named, of foreign and home
relations, of public instruction and industry, of treasury, and of war and

By the ninth--Each department is to have two trustworthy individuals to
form a council, which shall give judgment in all matters on which they may
be consulted by the executive.

By the tenth--Till this council is named, the _junta_ will fulfil its

By the eleventh--Till the republic is organized, the authorities in the
departments which have not opposed, and will not oppose the national will,
shall continue.

By the twelfth--The general-in-chief and all the other generals promise to
forget all the political conduct of military men or citizens during the
present crisis.

By the thirteenth--When three days have passed after the expiration of the
present truce, if the general-in-chief of the government does not adopt
these _bases_, their accomplishment will be proceeded with; and they
declare, in the name of the nation, that this general, and all the troops
who follow him, and all the so-called authorities which counteract this
national will, shall be held responsible for all the Mexican blood that may
be uselessly shed, and which shall be upon their heads.

3Oth.--To the astonishment of all parties, Bustamante and his generals
_pronounced_ yesterday morning for the federal system, and _this_ morning
Bustamante has resigned the presidency. His motives seem not to be
understood, unless a circular, published by General Almonte, can throw any
light upon them.

"Without making any commentary," he says, speaking of the document of
Tacubaya, "upon this impudent document, which proposes to the Mexican
nation a military government, and the most ominous of dictatorships in
favour of the false defender of public liberty, of the most ferocious enemy
of every government that has existed in the country, I hasten to send it to
you, that you may have it published in this state, where surely it will
excite the same indignation as in an immense majority of the inhabitants of
the capital, who, jealous of the national glory, and decided to lose
everything in order to preserve it, have spontaneously proclaimed the
re-establishment of the federal system, the whole garrison having followed
this impulse. There is no medium between liberty and tyranny; and the
government, relying on the good sense of the nation, which will not see
with indifference the slavery that is preparing for it, puts itself in the
hands of the states, resolved to sacrifice itself on the altars of the
country, or to strengthen its liberty for ever.

"I enclose the renunciation which His Excellency Don Anastasio Bustamante
makes to the presidency," etc.

3rd October.--Though a very democratic crowd collected, and federalism was
proclaimed in Mexico, it appears that no confidence in the government was
inspired by this last measure. Some say that had Bustamante alone declared
for the federal system, and had sent some effective cavalry to protect the
_pronunciados_ of that party all through the country, he might have
triumphed still. Be that as it may, General Canalizo pronounced for
federalism on the second of October, but this is not followed up on the
part of the Generals Bustamante and Almonte, while the vice-president,
_Hechavarria_, has retired to his house, blaming Almonte for having
published an official document without his knowledge. Everything is in a
state of perfect anarchy and confusion. The leperos are going about armed,
and no one remains in Mexico but those who are obliged to do so. It is said
that in Tacubaya great uneasiness prevailed as to the result of this new
movement, and Santa Anna offered an asylum there to the congress and
conservative body, although, by the ultimatum from Tacubaya, published on
the twenty-eighth, the constitution of '36 was concluded, and of course
these authorities were politically dead.

I had hardly written these words when the roaring of cannon announced that
hostilities have recommenced.

5th.--For the last few days, we have been listening to the cannon, and even
at this distance, the noise reverberating amongst the hills is tremendous.
The sound is horrible! There is something appalling, yet humbling, in these
manifestations of man's wrath and man's power, when he seems to usurp his
Maker's attributes, and to mimic his thunder. The divine spark kindled
within him, has taught him how to draw these metals from the earth's bosom;
how to combine these simple materials, so as to produce with them an effect
as terrible as the thunderbolts of heaven. His earthly passions have
prompted him so to wield these instruments of destruction, as to deface
God's image in his fellow-men. The power is so divine--the causes that
impel him to use that power are so paltry! The intellect that creates these
messengers of death is so near akin to divinity--the motives that put them
in action are so poor, so degrading even to humanity!

On the third, there was a shower of bombs and shells from the citadel, of
which some fell into the palace, and one in our late residence, the mint.
An engagement took place in the Virga; and though Bustamante's party were
partially victorious, it is said that neither has much reason to boast of
the result. General Espinosa, an old insurgent, arrived at the village last
night, and sent to request some horses from the hacienda, which were sent
him with all convenient speed, that he might not, according to his usual
plan, come and take them. In exchange for some half-dozen farm horses in
good condition, he sent half a dozen lean, wretched-looking quadrupeds, the
bones coming through their skin, skeletons fit for dissection.

News have just arrived to the effect that last night, at three o'clock,
Bustamante suddenly left the city, drawing off all his troops from the
turrets, and leaving General Orbegoso in the palace, with one hundred men.
It was generally reported, that he had marched into the interior, to bring
about a federal revolution; but it appears that he has arrived at
Guadalupe, and there taken up his quarters. A loud cannonading has been
kept up since ten o'clock, which keeps us all idle, looking out for the
smoke, and counting the number of discharges.

6th.--A messenger has brought the intelligence that there had been more
noise and smoke than slaughter; the cannons being planted at such
distances, that it was impossible they could do much execution. Numerous
bulletins are distributed; some violently in favour of Bustamante and
federalism, full of abuse and dread of Santa Anna; others lauding that
general to the skies, as the saviour of his country. The _allied_ forces
being in numbers double those of Bustamante, there is little doubt of the

7th.--_A capitulation_. Santa Anna is triumphant. He made his solemn entry
into Mexico last evening, Generals Valencia and Canalizo being at the head
of the united forces. Not a solitary _viva_ was heard as they passed along
the streets; nor afterwards, during his speech in congress. _Te Deum_ was
sung this morning in the cathedral, the archbishop in person receiving the
new president. We have just returned from Mexico, where we went in search
of apartments, and with great difficulty have found rooms in the hotel of
the Calle Vegara; but we shall remain here a day or two longer. There is no
great difference in the general appearance of the city, except that the
shops are reopened, and that most of the windows are broken. Immediately
after the morning ceremony, Santa Anna returned to the archbishop's palace
at Tacubaya; which residence he prefers to the president's palace in
Mexico. His return there, after his triumphant entry into the capital, was
very much _en Rio_--a retinue of splendid coaches with fine horses, going
at full speed; the general's carriage drawn by four beautiful white
horses--(belonging to Don F---- M----; the very same that were sent to
bring us into Mexico) brilliant aides-de-camp, and an immense escort of
cavalry. Thus concludes the revolution of 1842, though not its effects.

The new ministry, up to this date, are Senor Gomez Pedraza for Foreign and
Home Relations; Castillo, _un petit avocat_ from Guadalajara, said to be a
furious federalist and Latin scholar, for Public Instruction; General
Tornel for War and Marine; and Senor Dufoo for the Treasury. Valencia
proposed Paredes for the War Department; but he declined, saying, "No, no,
General--I understand you very well. You want to draw me from off my

Those who know Bustamante best, even those who most blame him for
indecision and want of energy, agree on one point; that the true motives of
his conduct are to be found in his constant and earnest desire to spare
human life.


Santa Monica--Solidity--Old Paintings--Anachronism-Babies and Nurses from
the _Cuna_--Society--Funds--Plan--Indian Nurses--Carmelite Convent--
Midnight Warning--Old Villages and Churches--Indian Bath--San Mateo--The
Lecheria--Fertility--_Nolino Viejo_--Dulness--Religious Exercises--Return
to Mexico--Mexican Hotel--New Generals--Disturbances--General Bustamante--
Inconvenience--Abuses in the name of Liberty--Verses--Independence


The Revolution has lasted upwards of thirty-five days; and during that
time, though I have written of little else, we have been taking many rides
in the environs of this hacienda, some of which were very interesting. We
are also making the most of our last few days of Mexican country life. On
Thursday we went on horseback with a large party to visit the mill of Santa
Monica, an immense hacienda, which tradition, I know not with what truth,
supposes to have been in former days the property of Dona Marina; a gift to
her from Cortes. At all events, at a later period it belonged to the
Augustine monks, then to a Mexican family, who lost their fortune from
neglect or extravagance. It was bought by the present proprietor for a
comparatively trifling sum, and produces him an annual rent of thirty-five
thousand dollars upon an average. The house is colossal, and not more than
one-third of it occupied. The granaries, of solid masonry, contain fourteen
thousand loads of corn--they were built about two hundred and fifty years
ago. From all the neighbouring haciendas, and even from many distant
estates, the corn is sent to this mill, and is here ground, deposited, and
sold on account of the owner, a certain portion deducted for the proprietor
of Santa Monica. It seems strange that they should have no windmills here,
in a country colonized by Spain, where, according to _Cervantes_, they were
common enough. The house is in a commanding situation, and the views of the
mountains, especially from the upper windows, are very grand. In some of
the old, unoccupied apartments, are some good copies of old paintings, the
copies themselves of ancient date. There is the Angel announcing to
Elizabeth the birth of Saint John; a Holy Family, from Murillo; the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is one of the best; particularly
the figures in the foreground, of Lot and his family. Lot's wife stands in
the distance, a graceful figure just crystallized, her head turned in the
direction of the doomed city. I looked into every dark corner, in hopes of
finding some old daub representing Dona Marina, but without success. There
is the strangest contrast possible between these half-abandoned palaces,
and their actual proprietors. We had beautiful riding-horses belonging to
the hacienda, and enjoyed everything but the exceeding heat of the sun, as
we galloped home about one o'clock....

As a specimen of rather a remarkable anachronism, we were told that a
justice in the village of Tlanapantla, speaking the other day of General
Bustamante, said, "Poor man--he is persecuted by all parties, just as Jesus
Christ was by the _Jansenists_, the _Sadducees_, and the _Holy Fathers of
the Church_!" What a curious _olla podrida_ the poor man's brain must be!

In the midst of the revolution, we were amused by a very peaceful
sight--all the nurses belonging to the _Cuna_, or Foundling hospital,
coming from the different villages to receive their monthly wages. Amongst
the many charitable institutions of Mexico, there appears to me (in spite
of the many prejudices existing against such institutions) none more useful
than this. These otherwise unfortunate children, the offspring of abject
poverty or guilt, are left at the gate of the establishment, where they are
received without any questions being asked; and from that moment, they are
protected and cared for, by the best and noblest families in the country.
The members of the society consist of the first persons in Mexico, male and
female. The men furnish the money; the women give their time and attention.
There is no fixed number of members, and amongst them are the ladies in
whose house we now live. The _President_ is the Dowager Marquesa de
Vivanco. When the child has been about a month in the _Cuna_, it is sent,
with an Indian nurse, to one of the villages near Mexico. If sick or feeble
it remains in the house, under the more immediate inspection of the
society. These nurses have a _fiadora_, a responsible person, who lives in
the village, and answers for their good conduct. Each nurse is paid four
dollars per month, a sufficient sum to induce any poor Indian, with a
family, to add one to her stock. Each lady of the society has a certain
number under her peculiar care, and gives their clothes, which are poor
enough, but according to the _village fashion_. The child thus put out to
nurse, is brought back to the _Cuna_ when weaned, and remains under the
charge of the society for life; but of the hundreds and tens of hundreds
that have passed through their hands, scarcely has one been left to grow up
in the _Cuna_. They are constantly adopted by respectable persons, who,
according to their inclination or abilities, bring them up either as
favoured servants, or as their own children; and the condition of a
"_huerfano_," an orphan, as a child from the hospital is always called, is
perfectly upon a level with that of the most petted child of the house. The
nurses in the _Cuna_ are paid eight dollars per month.

Upwards of a hundred nurses and babies arrived on Sunday, taking up their
station on the grass, under the shade of a large ash-tree in the courtyard.
The nurses are invariably bronze; the babies generally dark, though there
was a sprinkling of fair English or German faces amongst them, with blue
eyes and blonde hair, apparently not the growth of Mexican land. Great
attention to cleanliness cannot be hoped for from this class, but the
babies looked healthy and contented. Each nurse had to present a paper
which had been given her for that purpose, containing her own name, the
name of the child, and that of the lady under whose particular charge she
was. Such as-"_Maria Josifa_-baby _Juanita de los Santos_-belonging to the
_Senora Dona Matilde F----_, given on such a day to the charge of Maria
Josefa." Constantly the nurse had lost this paper, and impossible for her
to remember more than her own name; as to who gave her the baby, or when
she got it, was entirely beyond her powers of calculation. However, then
stept forward the _fiadora_ Dona Tomaso, a sensible-looking village dame,
grave and important as became her situation, and gave an account of the
nurse and the baby, which being satisfactory, the copper was swept into the
nurse's lap, and she and her baby went away contented. It was pleasant to
see the kindness of the ladies to these poor women; how they praised the
care that had been taken of the babies; admired the strong and healthy
ones, which indeed nearly all were; took an interest in those who looked
paler, or less robust; and how fond and proud the nurses were of their
charges; and how little of a hired, mercenary, _hospital_ feeling existed
among them all....

A judge in the village, who comes here frequently, a pleasant and
well-informed man, amused us this evening by recounting to us how he had
once formed a determination to become a monk, through sudden fear. Being
sent by government to Toluca, some years ago, to inquire into the private
political conduct of a _Yorkino_, he found that his only means of remaining
there unsuspected, and also of obtaining information, was to lodge in the
convent of the Carmelite friars. The padres accommodated him with a cell,
and assisted him very efficaciously in his researches. But the first night,
being alone in his cell, the convent large and dreary, and the wind howling
lugubriously over the plains, he was awakened at night by a deep sepulchral
voice, apparently close to his ear, tolling forth these words:

"Hermanos, en el sepulcro acaba,
Todo lo que el mundo alaba!"

"My brothers, all must finish in the tomb!
Of all that men extol, this is the doom."

Exceedingly startled, he sprang up, and opened the door of his cell. A dim
lamp faintly illuminated the long vaulted galleries, and the monks, like
shadows, were gliding to midnight prayer. In the dreariness of the night,
with the solemn words sounding in his ear like a warning knell, he came to
the satisfactory conclusion that all was vanity, and to the determination
that the very next day he would retire from the world, join this holy
brotherhood, and bind himself to be a Carmelite friar for life. The day
brought counsel, the cheerful sunbeams dispelled the gloom, even within the
old convent, and his scruples of conscience melted away.

There are old villages and old churches in this neighbourhood that would
delight an antiquary. In the churchyard of the village of San Andres, is
the most beautiful weeping ash I ever saw. We took shelter from the sun
yesterday under its gigantic shadow, and lay there as under a green vault.
We saw to-day, near another solitary old church, one of the Indian
oven-baths, the _temescallis_, built of bricks, in which there is neither
alteration nor improvement since their first invention, heaven alone knows
in what century.

9th.--We rode last evening to another estate belonging to this family,
called _San Mateo_, one of the prettiest places on a small scale we have
seen here. The road, or rather path, led us through fields, covered with
the greatest profusion of bright yellow sunflowers and scarlet dahlias, so
tall that they came up to our horses' ears. The house is built in the
cottage style (the first specimen of that style we have seen here), with
the piazza in front, large trees shading it, and a beautiful view from the
height on which it stands. It has rather an English than a Spanish look. No
one lives there but the agent and his wife--and a fierce dog.

11th.--This morning we rose at five, mounted our horses, and accompanied by
Senor E----, together with the administrador and the old gardener, set off
to take our last long ride from San Xavier; for this evening we return to
Mexico. The morning was fine and fresh, the very morning for a gallop, and
the country looked beautiful. We rode first to the _Lecheria_, where
Generals Bustamante and Paredes had their last eventful conference, having
passed on our way various old churches and villages, and another hacienda
also belonging to this family, whose estates seem countless. The _Lecheria_
is a large unoccupied house, or occupied only by the administrador and his
family. It is a fine building, and its courtyard within is filled with
flowers; but having neither garden nor trees near it, seems rather lonely;
and must have been startled to find itself the _rendezvous_ of contending
chieftains. It is surrounded by fertile and profitable fields of corn and
maize. We staid but a short time in the house, and having observed with due
respect the chamber where the generals conferred together, remounted our
horses and rode on. I have no doubt, by the way, that their meeting was the
most amicable imaginable. I never saw a country where opponent parties bear
so little real ill-will to each other. It all seems to evaporate in words.
I do not believe that there is any real bad feeling subsisting at this
moment, even between the two rival generals, Bustamante and Santa Anna.
Santa Anna usurped the presidency, partly because he wanted it, and partly
because if he had not, some one else would; but I am convinced that if they
met by chance in a drawing-room, they would give each other as cordial an
_ambrazo_ (embrace), Mexican fashion, as if nothing had happened.

Our road led us through a beautiful track of country, all belonging to the
Lecheria, through pathways that skirted the fields, where the plough had
newly turned up the richest possible soil, and which were bordered by wild
flowers and shady trees. For miles our path lay through a thick _carpeting_
of the most beautiful wild flowers imaginable: bright scarlet dahlias,
gaudy sunflowers, together with purple and lilac, and pale straw-coloured
blossoms, to all which the gardener gave but the general name of
_mirasoles_ (sunflower). The purple convolvulus threw its creeping branches
on the ground, or along whatever it could embrace; while all these bright
flowers, some growing to a great height, seemed, as we rode by them, to be
flaunting past us in their gay colours, like peasants in their holiday
dresses. The ground also was enamelled with a little low inquisitive
looking blossom, bright yellow, with a peeping brown eye; and the whole,
besides forming the gayest assemblage of colours and groups, gave to the
air a delicious fragrance.

But at last we left these fertile grounds, and began to ascend the hills,
part of which afford pasture for the flocks, till, still higher up, they
become perfectly arid and stony. Here the whole landscape looks bleak and
dreary, excepting that the eye can rest upon the distant mountains, of a
beautiful blue, like a peep of the promised land from Mount Nebo. After
having rode four leagues, the latter part over this sterile ground,
affording but an insecure footing for our horses, we descried, low down in
a valley, an old sad-looking building, with a ruined mill and some trees.
This was the object of our ride; the "_molino viejo_" (old mill), another
hacienda belonging to these rich lady proprietors; and profitable on
account of the fine pasture which some of the surrounding hills afford.
Nothing could look more solitary. Magdalene might have left her desert, and
ended her days there, without materially bettering her situation. The only
sign of life is a stream that runs round a very productive small orchard in
front of the house, while on a hill behind are a few maguey plants, and on
the _mirador_, in front of the house, some creepers have been trained with
a good deal of taste. There are bleak hills in front--hills with a scanty
herbage behind it, and everywhere a stillness that makes itself felt:
while, strange circumstance in this country! there is not even a church
within a league and a half. There has been a chapel in the house, but the
gilded paintings are falling from the walls--the altar is broken, and the
floor covered with dried corn. The agent's wife, who sits here all alone,
must have time to collect her scattered thoughts, and plenty of opportunity
for reflection and self-examination. Certain it is, she gave us a very good
breakfast, which we attacked like famished pilgrims; and shortly after took
our leave.

The heat on the shadeless hills had now become intense. It is only on such
occasions that one can fully appreciate the sufferings of _Regulus_. We
returned by the _carriage-road,_ a track between two hills, composed of
ruts and stones, and large holes. On the most barren parts of these hills,
there springs a tree which the Indians call _guisachel_; it resembles the
savine, and produces a berry of which ink is made. The road was bordered by
bushes, covered with white blossoms, very fragrant. We galloped as fast as
our horses would carry us, to escape from the sun; and passed a pretty
village on the high road, which is a fine broad causeway in good repair,
leading to Guanaxuato. We also passed _San Mateo_, and then rode over the
fields fast home, where we arrived, looking like broiled potatoes....

We had a conversation with ----- this morning, on the subject of the
"_ejercicios_," certain religious exercises, to which, in Mexico, men as
well as women annually devote a certain number of days, during which they
retire from the world to a religious house or convent, set apart for that
purpose, of which some receive male and other female devotees. Here they
fast and pray and receive religious instruction, and meditate upon
religious subjects during the period of their retreat. A respectable
merchant, who, in compliance with this custom, lately retired for a few
days to one of these religious establishments, wrote, on entering there, to
his head clerk, a young man to whom he was much attached, informing him
that he had a presentiment that he would not leave the convent alive, but
would die by the time his devotional exercises were completed; giving him
some good advice as to his future conduct, together with his last
instructions as to his own affairs. He ended with these words: "_hasta la
eternidad_!" until eternity! The letter produced a strong effect on the
mind of the young man; but still more, when the merchant died at the end of
a few days, as he had predicted, and was carried from the convent to his

MEXICO, Calle Vergara, 12th.

We reached Mexico last evening, and took up our quarters in an inn or hotel
kept by an English woman, and tolerably clean, though of course not very
agreeable. A number of _pronunciado_ officers are also here--amongst
others, General -----, who I hope will be obliged to go soon, that we may
have his parlour; a mysterious English couple; a wounded Colonel, an old
gentleman, a fixture in the house, etc. There is a _table d'hote_, but I
believe no ladies dine there. Invitations to take up our quarters in
private houses have been pressed upon us with a kindness and cordiality
difficult to resist....

Though politics are the only topic of interest at present, I think you will
care little for having an account of the Junta of Representatives, or of
the elections, with their chiefly military members. Considering by whom the
members are chosen, and the object for which they are elected, the result
of their deliberations is, as you may suppose, pretty well known
beforehand. Military power is strengthened by every act, and all this power
is vested in the commanders-in-chief. New batches of generals are made, in
order to reward the late distinguished services of the officers, and
colonels by hundreds. Eleven generals were created in the division of
Paredes alone. Money has been given to the troops in the palace, with
orders to purchase new uniforms, which it is said will be very brilliant.
There appears, generally speaking, a good deal of half-smothered
discontent, and it is whispered that even the revolutionary bankers are
half repentant and look gloomy. The only opposition paper is "Un Periodico
Mas;" one more periodical--the others are all Ministerial.

In the south there has been some trouble with Generals Bravo and Alvarez,
who wish that part of the country to govern itself until the meeting of
congress. There was some talk of putting Valencia at the head of the troops
which are destined to march against them, but there are now negotiations
pending, and it is supposed there will be some agreement made without
coming to bloodshed. It is said that orders were sent to General Almonte to
leave the republic, and that he answered the despatch with firmness,
refusing to acknowledge the authority of Santa Anna. General Bustamante,
who is now in Guadalupe, intends to leave the scene of his disasters within
a few months. C---n paid him a visit lately, and though scarcely recovered
from his fatigues both of body and mind, he appears cheerful and resigned,
and with all the tranquillity which can be inspired only by a good
conscience, and the conviction of having _done his duty to the best of his

As for us personally, this revolution has been the most inconvenient
revolution that ever took place; doing us all manner of mischief; stopping
the sale of our furniture, throwing our affairs into confusion;
overthrowing all our plans, and probably delaying our departure until
December or January. But in these cases, every one must suffer more or
less; and meanwhile, we are surrounded by friends and by friendly
attentions. It will be impossible for us to leave Mexico without regret. It
requires nothing but a settled government to make it one of the first
countries in the world. Santa Anna has much in his power. _Reste a savoir_
how he will use that power. Perhaps in these last years of tranquillity,
which he has spent on his estate, he may have meditated to some purpose.

It is singular how, in trying to avoid small evils, we plunge into unknown
gulfs of misery; and how little we reflect that it might be wiser to

"Bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of."

Every one has heard of the abuses that produced the first revolution in
Mexico--of the great inequality of riches, of the degradation of the
Indians, of the high prices of foreign goods, of the Inquisition, of the
ignorance of the people, the bad state of the colleges, the difficulty of
obtaining justice, the influence of the clergy, and the ignorance in which
the Mexican youth were purposely kept. Which of these evils has been
remedied? Foreign goods are cheaper, and the Inquisition _is not_; but this
last unchristian institution had surely gradually lost its power before the
days of the last viceroy?--But in the sacred name of _Liberty_, every abuse
can be tolerated.

"O fatal name, misleader of mankind,
Phantom, too radiant and too much adored!
Deceitful Star, whose beams are bright to blind,
Although their more benignant influence poured
The light of glory on the Switzer's sword,
And hallowed Washington's immortal name.
Liberty! Thou when absent how deplored,
And when received, how wasted, till thy name
Grows tarnished; shall mankind, ne'er cease to work thee shame?

"Not from the blood in fiercest battle shed,
Nor deeds heroical as arm can do,
Is the true strength of manly freedom bred,
Restraining tyranny and licence too,
The madness of the many and the few.
Land, whose new beauties I behold revealed,
Is this not true, and bitter as 'tis true?
The ruined fane, the desolated field,
The ruffian-haunted road, a solemn answer yield.

"Where look the loftiest Cordilleras down
From summits hoary with eternal snow
On Montezuma's venerable town
And storied vale, and Lake of Mexico,
These thoughts the shade of melancholy throw
On all that else were fair, and gay, and grand
As nature in her glory can bestow.
For never yet, though liberal her hand,
So variously hath she adorned, enriched one land.

"What boots it that from where the level deep
Basks in the tropic sun's o'erpow'ring light
To where yon mountains lift their wintry steep,
All climes, all seasons in one land unite?
What boots it that her buried caves are bright
With wealth untold of gold or silver ore?
While, checked by anarchy's perpetual blight,
Industry trembles 'mid her hard-earned store,
While rapine riots near in riches stained with gore?

"O sage regenerators of mankind!
Patriots of nimble tongue and systems crude!
How many regal tyrannies combined,
So many fields of massacre have strewed
As you, and your attendant cut-throat brood?
Man works no miracles; long toil, long thought,
Joined to experience, may achieve much good,
But to create new systems out of nought,
Is fit for Him alone, the universe who wrought.

"But what hath such an hour of such a day
To do with human crimes, or earthly gloom?
Far wiser to enjoy while yet we may,
The mock-bird's song, the orange flower's perfume,
The freshness that the sparkling fountain showers.
Let nations reach their glory or their doom,
Spring will return to dress yon orange bowers,
And flowers will still bloom on, and bards will sing of flowers."

21st.--In pursuance of the last-mentioned advice, we have been breakfasting
to-day at Tacubaya, with the ----- Minister and his family, and enjoying
ourselves there in Madame -----'s garden. We have also just returned from
the Marquesa de -----'s, where we had a pleasant evening, and met General
Paredes, whom I like very much; a real soldier, thin, plain, blunt, and all
hacked with wounds.

23rd.--C---n has been dining at the ----- Minister's, where he met all the
great actors in the present drama, and had an agreeable party. We are now
thinking of making our escape from this hotel, and of taking a horseback
journey into Michoacan, which shall occupy a month or six weeks. Meantime I
am visiting, with the Senorita -----, every hospital, jail, college, and
madhouse in Mexico!

26th.--To-day they are celebrating their independence. All the bells in all
the churches, beginning with the cathedral, are pealing--cannon
firing--rockets rushing up into the air--Santa Anna in the Alameda,
speechifying--troops galloping--little boys running--Te Deum
chanting--crowds of men and women jostling each other--the streets covered
with carriages, the balconies covered with people--the Paseo expected to be
crowded. I have escaped to a quiet room, where I am trying to find time to
make up my letters before the packet goes. I conclude this just as the
dictator, with his brilliant staff, has driven off to Tacubaya.


Opera--Santa Anna and his Suite--His Appearance--_Belisario_--Solitary
"_Viva!_"--Brilliant House--Military Dictatorship--_San Juan de Dios_--
Hospital _de Jesus_--_Cuna_--Old Woman and Baby--Different Apartments--
Acordada--Junta--Female Prisoners--Chief Crime--_Travaux Forces_--
Children--Male Prisoners--_Forcats_--Soldier's Gambling--Chapel--
Confessional--Insane Hospital--Frenchmen--Different Kinds of Insanity--
Kitchen--Dinner--Insane Monk--"Black Chamber"--Soldiers--College--Santa
Anna's Leg--Projects--All Saints--Senora P---a--Leave-takings.

4th November.

A great _funcion_ was given in the opera in honour of his excellency. The
theatre was most brilliantly illuminated with wax lights. Two principal
boxes were thrown into one for the president and his suite, and lined with
crimson and gold, with draperies of the same. The staircase leading to the
second tier where this box was, was lighted by and _lined_ all the way up
with rows of footmen in crimson and gold livery. A crowd of gentlemen stood
waiting in the lobby for the arrival of the hero of the fete. He came at
last in regal state, carriages and outriders at full gallop; himself, staff
and suite, in splendid uniform. As he entered, Senor Roca presented him
with a libretto of the opera, bound in red and gold. We met the great man
_en face_, and he stopped, and gave us a cordial recognition. Two years
have made little change in him in appearance. He retains the same
interesting, resigned, and rather melancholy expression; the same quiet
voice, and grave but agreeable manner; and surrounded by pompous officers,
he alone looked quiet, gentlemanly, and high bred. The theatre was crowded
to suffocation; boxes, pit, and galleries. There was no applause as he
entered. One solitary voice in the pit said "Viva Santa Anna!" but it
seemed checked by a slight movement of disapprobation, scarcely amounting
to a murmur. The opera was Belisarius; considered _a propos_ to the
occasion, and was really beautifully _montee_; the dresses new and
superb--the decorations handsome. They brought in real horses, and
Belisarius entered in a triumphal chariot, drawn by white steeds; but for
this the stage is infinitely too small, and the horses plunged and pranced
so desperately, that Belisarius wisely jumped out and finished his _aria_
on foot. The two prima donnas acted together--the wife and daughter of the
hero--both about the same age, and dressed very well. But the Castellan's
voice is not suited to the opera, and the music, beautiful as it is, was
the least effective part of the affair. The generals, in their scarlet and
gold uniforms, sat like peacocks surrounding Santa Anna, who looked modest
and retiring, and as if quite unaccustomed to the public gaze! The boxes
were very brilliant--all the diamonds taken out for the occasion. His
Excellency is by no means indifferent to beauty--_tout au contraire_; yet I
dare say his thoughts were this night of things more warlike and less fair.

Let all this end as it may, let them give everything whatever name is most
popular, the government is now a military dictatorship. Senor ----- calls
this revolution "the apotheosis of egotism transformed into virtue;" and it
must be confessed, that in most of the actors, it has been a mere
calculation of personal interests.

10th.--We went, some days ago, with our friends from San Xavier, to visit
the hospital of San Juan de Dios, at San Cosme. We found that, being at
present under repair, it has but two occupants, old women--who keep each
other melancholy company. The building is very spacious and handsome;
erected, of course, during Spanish dominion, and extremely clean--an
observation worthy of note, when it occurs in Mexican public buildings.
There is a large hall, divided by square pillars, with a light and cheerful
aspect, where the patients sleep; and a separate apartment for women. The
rooms are all so clean, airy, and cheerful, that one forgets it is an
hospital. In this respect, the style of building here is superior to all
others, with large airy courtyards and fountains, long galleries and
immense apartments, with every window open. There is no part of Europe
where, all the year round, invalids can enjoy such advantages; but, also,
there are few parts of Europe where the climate would permit them to do so.

The following day we visited another hospital; that known as the _Hospital
de Jesus_--hallowed ground; for here the mortal remains of _Cortes_ were
deposited. And, though rescued from desecration by a distinguished
individual, during a popular tumult, so that they no longer repose in the
sanctuary of the chapel, there still exists, enshrined here, that over
which time and revolutions have no power--his _memory_.

The establishment, as an hospital, is much finer, and the building
infinitely handsomer than the other. The director, a physician, led us
first into his own apartments, as the patients were dining, and afterwards
showed us through the whole establishment. The first large hall, into which
we were shown, is almost entirely occupied by soldiers, who had been
wounded during the _pronunciamiento_. One had lost an arm, another a leg,
and they looked sad and haggard enough, though they seemed perfectly well
attended to, and, I dare say, did anything but _bless_ the revolutions that
brought them to that state, and with which they had nothing to do; for your
Mexican soldier will lie down on his mat at night, a loyal man, and will
waken in the morning and find himself a _pronunciado_. Each one had a
separate room, or at least a compartment divided by curtains from the next;
and in each was a bed, a chair, and a small table; this on one side of the
long hall. The other was occupied by excellent hot and cold baths. We then
visited the women's apartment, which is on a similar plan. Amongst the
patients is an unfortunate child of eight years old, who in the
_pronunciamiento_ had been accidentally struck by a bullet, which entered
her left temple and came out below the right eye, leaving her alive. The
ball was extracted, and a portion of the brain came out at the wound. She
is left blind, or nearly so, having but a faint glimmering of light. They
say she will probably live, which seems impossible. She looks like a
galvanized corpse--yet must have been a good-looking child. Notwithstanding
the nature of her wound, her reason has not gone, and as she sat upright in
her little bed, with her head bandaged, and her fixed and sightless eyes,

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