Mexico, California and Arizona/Chapter 33
|← XXXII. Camp Lowell, Tucson, and San Xavier del Bac|| Mexico, California and Arizona (1900) by
XXXIII. Mexico Revisited
|XXXIV. The Revival of Bull-fighting →|
It is now six years since I first set foot in Mexico.
What has happened in the mean time? How have the many new enterprises of that day of stirring activity resulted? How have the sanguine expectations then entertained been justified by the facts? Sighting, as it were, through two points of view so remote from each other, perhaps something like mature conclusions may be arrived at. The chief field of inquiry remains—the rail-roads. The great Mexican Central has been completed throughout its entire length of 1224 miles. It was built at the rate of more than a mile a day. Thus, in seven days from New York, at a cost of $125, or in two days and thirteen hours from the frontier, at a cost of $52, you now are at the Capital.
You cross the Rio Grande from El Paso by an American trestle bridge to Paso del Norte. The custom examinations at both these places, as indeed at all points along the frontier, are a great improvement on those at New York. The one daily train starts late in the afternoon. The first morning you reach Chihuahua, the second Calera, and the third Mexico. A contemporary who does me the honor to copy my early map—together with numerous illustrations overlooks the trifling fact that a long section of the road—some five hundred and sixty
- miles—has left the route through Parral and Durango and taken that through Jimenez, Lerdo, and Fresnillo. The
reason of the change was the greater difficulty and expense of the original line. You get off at the crooked old town of Zacatecas or Guanajuato to inspect mines, at Aguas Calientes for its baths, and, if in the spring, its unique fair. At Lagos you make the diligence connection for Guadalajara. The interoceanic division of the railroad will reach this fine city—little touched as yet by modern influences, and having a central plaza as picturesque as a scene from grand opera—by April,'88. Of the arm of this division, traversing San Luis Potosi, there are also completed one hundred and six miles, from the port of Tampico westward.
The Mexican National Railway has built four hundred and ninety-seven miles of its main line, leaving but a moderate gap between its two sections, which those with a little taste for adventure can easily cross by stage-coach. It has also built two hundred and twenty-five miles on its branches. The charter of the Mexican Southern—General Grant's road has been suffered to lapse. The Morelos road has gone on some miles beyond Cuautla, to Yautepec, and a northern division to the neighborhood of Irolo. From Irolo a railway is now open to Pachuca, and the day of the joint-dislocating diligencia thither is past. President Diaz, in his latest annual message, announces that the International, from Piedras Negras, will reach Lerdo before the end of the year. Valuable coal mines have been opened, along the Sabinas River, on this line. The discovery is one of the first magnitude for Mexico, in which, up to this time, the dearth of coal has been complete. The Tehuantepec ship-railway project, set back by the recent death of Captain Eads, will perhaps not easily find another so enthusiastic a promoter. The remaining
- enterprises remain about in statu quo. There are now towards four thousand miles of railway in the Republic.
It has to be confessed that the American railways in Mexico have not yet proved so profitable an investment as was expected; indeed, for many they must have been very unfortunate. The government, owing to its financial straits, suspended the subsidies to them in 1884, and funded the amounts then due in a long term bond, as a part of the floating national debt. However, the securities have of late appreciated in value, the subsidies have been resumed, and matters are looking much better. The Central bore up against its reverses, but the National succumbed and became bankrupt. It has lately been reorganized in the usual way, and upon this hard-pan basis its prospects should be far more favorable. The earning capacity of all the roads is held in abeyance, as yet, by ruinous local conditions, which tend to throttle commerce and trade generally.
The effect of the railways on the country itself has been chiefly in the way of adding stability to the government. As a pacifying influence they have justified all that was claimed for them. Had they no other result than this, Mexico must esteem them worth far more than they have cost. A feverish appearance of prosperity was created at the time of the completion of the principal line by a large temporary increase of trade with our own country. The total value of our exports to Mexico grew from about $11,000,000 in '81 to more than $16,500,000 in '83. It fell off again, however, in '84 to less than $13,000,000. The difference was largely due to the importation of rail- way and other materials for the works of improvement themselves. Moreover, the increase at the railway points on the frontier was accompanied by a corresponding falling off at Vera Cruz. This port, under the new competi-
- tion, has lost both trade and population, and many of its leading firms have transferred their business establishments to Paso del Norte. Nevertheless, a normal improvement in trade, tangible if slow, is to be recorded. There are also notable instances of the development of local industries. To take the single instance of the crop called ixtle—a species of fibre—the Mexican National transported 224,788 pounds of it, grown along its line, in '82, and 3,531,000 in but seven months of '84. There is now said to be a total of $125,000,000 of American capital invested in Mexico.
The proposed commercial treaty between the United States and Mexico has unhappily failed, defeated in our own Congress on what would seem most unstatesmanlike and fatuous grounds. The serious decline in silver has been also a very depressing influence. It has created such uneasiness in the mining interests that efforts are being made to have all burdens upon silver removed. In the matter of a paper currency I may say that the banks of issue early came to grief, and almost in the precise form outlined in my chapter. One of them, that deserving benevolent institution the Monte de Piedad, under very bad management, failed, and now goes on only with a greatly impaired capital. The visitor is not driven back to the use of the bulky silver, however. There are still two banks, of the bills of which he may avail himself; the Banco Nacional, with its branches, and that of London, Mexico, and South America. The commoner people were shy of this paper at first, but have now become quite generally used to it.
What a fascinating variety of excursions is now open to the traveller, and with the greatest ease! I declare I
through line at all, but only going by sea as formerly, you can contrive, by a few simple connections, to cover in a brief time and at a small expense what would once have meant a costly journey of months. Leaving the city of Mexico by the National—fancy passing by railway little Rio Hondo and San Bartolito and San Francisquito, to which we so painfully wended with our guards and our mule-loads of silver, telling robber stories by the way!—leaving by the National you reach Toluca, Acambaro, Morelia, and Patzcuaro, in fertile, smiling Michoacan. At Patzcuaro you take a turn on the lovely lake in a new American steamboat. Return to Acambaro, turn north to Celaya, connect there with the Mexican Central, and return to town through Queretaro, San Juan del Rio, Tula, with its Toltec ruins, and Huehuetoca, with the great drainage cut of Nochistongo. Take the short excursions around the Capital, the longer ones to Amecameca, and down into Tierra Caliente at Cnautla, and again to charming Cuernavaca by diligencia, for an example of that kind of travelling. With all this, and the usual sights to be seen along the line from Vera Cruz, you have had variety of climates, races, costumes; you have had agriculture, mines, aboriginal antiquities, volcanoes, Spanish architecture, everything, in short, most interesting and characteristic in Mexico.
In the same way there are the jaunts to be made downward from our southern frontier. How easily may a tourist on the Southern Pacific road run down to Guaymas, or a day or two on the National, from Laredo, or on the Central, from El Paso, or joining the two latter, by stage-coach from Saltillo, with its bold and lovely scenery and historic associations of the Mexican War, make the
- circuit complete. Whosoever can do no more than this will bring away an enduring source of pleasant memories
for himself, and will henceforth form a part of that intelligent and appreciative body of public sentiment which must counteract the influence of a rough and turbulent class always fomenting idle troubles, like that of the Cutting case, on the borders.
Mexico has become, meanwhile, a much safer country to travel in. David A. Wells, in his excellent "Study of Mexico," says, that prior to 1883 its "exploration was so difficult and dangerous that exploration has rarely been attempted, and those who have attempted it have greatly imperilled their lives, to say nothing of their health and property." I do not admit that it was quite so bad as that, judging, perhaps, from a peculiarly fortunate experience of my own, even in making so unusual a journey as that down to the Pacific coast at Acapulco. However, at the present time no military guards are employed on the line of the Mexican Central, and even those on the Vera Cruz road are spoken of as only "an antiquated survival."
Mexico is also a much easier country to travel in, in many ways. You are now met on your arrival at the Capital by express agents, who will see your baggage through the Custom House, and deliver it in any part of the city, and there are express offices of Wells, Fargo & Co. throughout the Republic. A new American hotel has been built around two sides of the old convent garden of San Francisco. It is not yet the gorgeous structure of the early visionaries, but travellers of such distinction as Patti, for instance, stop there, and at the worst it could not but be an improvement on the old ones.
Inland postage, once almost prohibitory, has been reduced to a uniform rate of ten cents per quarter of an ounce, and the carrier system for delivering letters has been introduced. Electric lights and telephones are now much in use. Tall poles with great lights upon them dominate the Central Plaza and other points, as in Union Square, New York. The trumpery that obscured the view of that most taking of subjects for a water-color sketch, the Sagrario, has been cleared away. A little garden has been established on the principal street, on the south side of the church of the Profesa, well known to all who have frequented the popular restaurant of the Concordia. These details show that the municipality is very favorably disposed towards the march of progress. An appropriation of $800,000 has put the palace of Chapultepec in habitable shape to be hereafter the official residence, or "the White House," of the presidents of Mexico. The Gautimozin, of the proposed line of statues along the Calzáda de la Reforma, leading to it, has been completed and set up, and the Juarez is well under way. A contract made some few years since with one Oscar A. Drorge, to plant two million of trees in the valley of Mexico, has not yet produced any noticeable results. They were to be principally eucalyptus, acacia, ash, willow, and poplar, and to cost $200,000 in all. In the mean time it has been discovered that the valley never was wooded, and that consequently the early Spaniards could not have been guilty of the vandalism of destroying the once magnificent forests, as often laid to their charge. The site must always have been essentially marshy, and the great ancient trees, the ahuchuetes, on its borders at Chapultepec, are shown to be a species of swamp cypress.
The Jockey Club, with a membership chiefly made up from the old and wealthy families, is one of the later features of life at the Capital. Its rooms occupy two floors of a house immediately opposite the Iturbide Hotel. In its brief career it has been signalized by some fashionable duels and other episodes, one or two of which have gained an international prominence. As a social club it is prosperous, and the first in the city, but owing to lack of enterprise in entering new horses, its races have declined in interest. They are not now well attended, and the last spring meeting was a failure. Another, and very regrettable form of entertainment, has sprung up, in the revival of bull-fighting in the Federal District. The prohibitory law in force since 1867 was repealed last winter, and two bull-rings have been set up, one at San Rafael, not far from the station of the Mexican National, and the other in the Plaza del Mercado. Fifteen per cent, of the gross receipts goes to the municipality. It is pleasant to be able to report, however, that whereas both were well patronized every Sunday at first, they already show grave symptoms of decline; they have pooled their interests, and are now open only on alternate Sundays. I cannot but recall here that old book, "Stephens' Travels in Cent nil America"—surely one of the most fascinating of works, full of manliness, good-humor, and good-sense. The author tells us that even Gautemala had abolished the worst features of this sport as far back as his time, in 1839. It is true, nevertheless, that in Spain it has of late years come into greater favor than ever before.
It cannot be said that the great drainage problem has, advanced much nearer solution. An American company undertook it in 1882, but forfeited its charter through inability to file the requisite bond. Next the Federal and Municipal governments took hold of it in partnership. They tired of it, and again offer it to competition. The plan according to which work is at present being pursued is that of reopening an old tunnel, commenced in the last century, leading through the mountains north-west of the city. The Cut of Nochistongo has been abandoned. Critics write to the newspapers that this plan, too, is impracticable; indeed, the general criticism is made that all plans alike are impracticable, and that drainage will dry up the ground and cause the buildings to tumble down. Taking it in all its aspects, after these three hundred years of effort, it is as difficult a question as a community is often called upon to face. Mexico is unlucky in having several such that are almost too much for it.
I have to recall, smiling, too, some of my early experiences in getting information about this drainage matter. I suppose I was rather an uneasy companion in those days. I was in constant quest of knowledge, and the acquisition of it was too often met by indifference, postponement, careless error, or even refusal. My influential friend, Don Francisco de Garay, alone sustained me.
"That is right," he would say. "When I was studying my engineering in Paris, I, too, made them tell me. I would not let them off till my questions were answered."
Alas!—with a feeling like that, after the dinner-party, which prompts what is called esprit d' escalier—how many
more questions the returned traveller would like to have asked! I remember that I met, at the house of a Mexican gentleman of wealth, an engineer of the city. Upon learning my desire he professed that he would have great
pleasure in putting whatever he knew of the history of the drainage question at my disposal. I called upon him. He was absent, but his wife made an appointment for him a few days ahead. When I called to keep it he was again absent, but this time the wife who was perhaps of French
origin; at least she preferred to converse in French—said,
with a shrewd air, "My husband would like very much to tell you about the drainage" (and she implied that his knowledge of the history of it was immense), "if you would pay him well for it. Why do you not form a company?" she hastened to add, vivaciously ; "he would be very glad to be employed as your engineer."
Needless to say that I applied elsewhere. Fancy a New Yorker of education and standing asking a foreigner whom he had met socially to pay for giving him a few points for publication abroad, about, say the Erie Canal or the Croton Aqueduct!
In similar fashion a literary man of prominence, one who had been a chief-justice, told me that he could not converse with me about the comparative merits of the present literature of his country, but preferred to put it in writing; and then, after many annoying delays and broken appointments, that he could not write it because he could not well give himself the place that rightfully belonged to him; he should have to sacrifice his position to others. I do not cite these as instances of the manners-of all the Mexicans—the old Castilian courtesy still lingers but they only show that a boorish provincialism may still be found in very unexpected quarters.
The National Museum is rearranged, and its collections have been rendered much more accessible. It now contains the well-known "Calendar Stone"—at present alleged to be no calendar stone at all, but a sort of gladiatorial rostrum—which has been removed from the corner of the Cathedral. Antiquarian science, in the mean time, has been very active. The tone of the later erudition is to disturb many fond illusions to which we have long
been wedded. It is particularly severe with Prescott. One writer, whom I am sure I can never find it in my heart to forgive, however strongly he may back up his
case, speaks of "the fascinating narrations of Prescott, together with the worthy Spanish chroniclers upon whom Prescott is based, as "not much more worthy of respect and credence than the equally fascinating stories of Sindbad the Sailor." Bandelier reduces Mexico to a pueblo like those of the Zuñi's, and the life-and-death struggle of Cortez with the myriads at Otumba from a battle like that of Alexander at Arbela or the Granicus to a petty Indian ambush. They hold that Cortez magnified his exploits to obtain favor at court and escape punishment for his disobedience. Against this may be urged that the numerous enemies of Cortez could easily have exposed such pretensions, and had every motive for doing so. The discrepancy between his claims and the actual facts as now allowed was so prodigious that it could not possibly have escaped detection. And again, whoever has trodden above the ruins of San Juan Teotihuacan—to take but a single instance—though he be impressed ever so much with the arguments, showing the absurdity of all the alleged kings and princes with their quotas of subjects, can hardly deny that this place has at some time held a great population. The ruins are pulverized in the dust now, but Charnay, an explorer of wide experience, considers them the most impressive he ever saw. His measurement makes their extent five or six miles in diameter, with holding capacity for half a million people. I find in Mr. Bandelier's accounts of his difficulties in penetrating the reserve of the native Indian race a certain familiar ring. He is a conscientious and painstaking man, and went to live among them at Cholula, where I had such trouble in buying some of their costumes. He lived also in another village, where he had obtained permission to copy some of their records and picture-writings, but the Indians showed themselves morose and unapproachable during all of his stay, and he was finally dismissed with profound regrets that things should not have been so he would have had access to the documents of which he was in quest. They thought something of the value of their lands would be taken away if the titles were copied.
M. Desiré Charnay, sent out by the French Society of Americanists and Mr. Lorillard, of New York, was of a far less skeptical turn, as we have seen, but it may be that the sort of spirit that prompts a man to this kind of adventure does not often coincide with the judicial habit best adapted for weighing the results. The two leading Mexican antiquarians, Chavero and Orozco y Berra, would not go out to Teotihuacan to see his discoveries, he tells us. "The greater part of the modern Mexican authors," he says, "have spoken of the ancient monuments after the accounts of foreign travellers and by hearsay, but how many of them have themselves ever visited the distant ruins of their country?" Charnay's casts from various monuments have been set up in the Trocadero Gallery at Paris, and copies in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.
An enthusiast of a rather erratic sort is M. Le Plongeon, who has unearthed in Yucatan a large statue known as Chac-Mool, and claims to have pierced the mystery of the ancient inscriptions. He holds that the prehistoric cities are simply the product of a highly flourishing branch of Free-masonry. The French Society of Americanists has a
standing offer of $25,000, however, for the discovery of a key to the inscriptions, which has not yet been called for. Fortunately, the antiquarian squabbles can take nothing from the value of the old Spanish remains, which stand
in undisguised profusion and beauty on every side.
To turn back again to material things. An English minister has been reappointed to Mexico, and a creditable effort has been made to renew payments on the English debt. A proposed recognition of this debt by Gonzales, in '84, at the figure of $89,000,000, resulted in violent rioting. Diaz admitted it in June, '85, at $51,000,000, with other allowances that bring it up to $65,000,000. In Diaz's Plan of Tuxtepec, under which he drove from the country Lerdo—whom I saw the other day, a broken old man, living quietly at the Lenox Hotel in New York—one of the principal grievances stated was that he, Lerdo, had agreed to recognize the English debt. This oft-repudiated obligation dates in its origin from 1824, and is and always has been the principal financial incubus upon the country.
The harbor of Vera Cruz has not been improved. A French company began a breakwater there in '85, after the plans recommended to the municipality by Captain Eads, but in the following year its charter was cancelled—again on the ground of pecuniary irresponsibility. A
Mexican line of steamers was also put on from there to European ports in '84, but these were built rather for speed than freight traffic, which should have been their principal resource. The experiment proved to be badly planned, arid they were shortly after taken under the
mortgage, by the Barings of London, and withdrawn. The daily train from Vera Cruz to Mexico, by-the-way, now starts at a quarter to six in the morning, instead of
midnight as before. This arrangement gives the passenger a much better idea of his striking transition from the Tierra Caliente to the
table-lands, but does not bring him till long after dark to the approaches of the Capital, so that these must be left for his return.
The steamers mentioned were to have been paid a liberal bonus for bringing immigrants into the country. Little can be chronicled on that head. Immigration, in the popular acceptance, has not yet been attracted. A Mormon colony has been established near Galeana, in Chihuahua, preparing a refuge, as it was thought, for escape from the wrath to come. My hopeful friend Owen, with whom I climbed Popocatepetl, has essayed a socialistic experiment at Topolobampo Bay, from which doleful accounts of hardship come back, and lately colonization has been begun at Todos Santos, in Lower California, in which remote quarter something like a "boom" is being attempted. Frequent purchases of vast tracts by Americans in the Northern States are reported. If these be true, more responsible ownership may but serve to fasten upon the Mexican peasants evils from which they long have suffered. Much is said of the sequestration of the church property under the Laws of. Reform, and it was in essence a bold and commendable step, but it neither raised up a middle class nor eased the financial straits of the government. By shiftless mismanagement nearly all the benefit inured to a few shrewd adventurers. There are still no more than five or six thousand proprietors for the whole country.
Mexico has become also, as it by no means used to be, a country of guide-books. The two principal ones of these differ so between themselves and from all others
that, in default of a chapter in each on the comparative value of authorities, they have but little satisfaction for
the practical inquirer. Thus, one gives the population of Vera Cruz at 20,000, the other at 10,000—my own information, procured from residents on the spot, put it at 17,000, and the last Annuario Mata, a semi-official publication consulted by the commercial classes, gives it at 26,000.
One gives the height of Cuernavaca above the sea—I take instances at random at 4900 feet, and its population at 12,000; the other 5380 feet, and 16,320 people. The standing army ranges from 22,367 in "Conkling" to 68,000 infantry and 13,000 cavalry in "Janvier" (stating no other basis of calculation), and to 45,000 in Mr. D. A, Wells, who bases an important argument upon it. These are not isolated examples; the same astounding discrepancies on simple matters of fact, the truth of which, it might be thought, outside of Mexico, could be arrived at with the greatest ease, continue throughout. Perhaps the moral is that we should throw ourselves even more unreservedly than ever into the arms of the picturesque, accuracy in the descriptions of which is not changed by the lapse of these few years last past, any more than it was by the hundred or two years preceding them. The enterprising firm of Prida, Navarro & Co. are starting a commercial agency which may be of use to our merchants, but in many respects the Baron Humboldt still continues the leading authority.
Mr. Conkling tells us, what will puzzle the visitor, that the principal pyramid of Teotihuacan is made of "blocks of basalt and trachyte rock." Again he says, naively, that "all the churches throughout the country [having already
made the same claim for the Academy of Fine Arts at Mexico] are full of pictures, most of which are the work
of Murillo, Velasquez, Zurbaran, and Ribera." This is an opinion of a different sort from the Connecticut school-district view of Mr. Warner, that it is all "old Spanish sacred rubbish," and it must be news, indeed, to the connoisseurs. The principal service of Janvier is to furnish for the first time a full and intelligent account of a
number of the fine churches by which the attention is everywhere forcibly arrested, with some indications on the
rapid spread of the monastic orders which founded them. He gives us many of their quaint traditions and humors. His touch in all these matters is sympathetic and literary; indeed, it often seems a pity that such work should have had to take the merely guide-book form.
A variety of small books on the country have been issued in the mean time, Mexico being now in about the condition of Europe at the date of the first steamers, when every voyager felt called upon to give his impressions in print. It can hardly be truthfully said that any of these travellers has gone further or fared much better or worse than myself. Brocklehurst's "Mexico To-Day," elaborately illustrated with colored plates, is the most costly volume, and has had much vogue in England. I saw a great deal of this work in its incipiency, the amiable author and I being very much in company in our journeys.
Mr. Warner complained, the other day, on first reaching Mexico, that the volcanoes did not dominate the city as he had expected. Brocklehurst and I drew this scene together, and he lifted his volcanoes several thousand feet above their true height, to be the more imposing. It was a standing rule he had received from his drawing-master, he said, with a laugh of gay good-humor, always to do that with mountains. "You must make all those things as they ought to be, not as they are," he concluded; and if Mr. Warner had seen the imposing sugar-loaf peaks in Brocklehurst's plate, this conclusion may have accounted for his disappointment.
The magazines are devoting an attention to the subject, of which Mrs. Foote's articles in the Century, with her
faithful drawings, giving a very attractive picture of Michoacan, are perhaps the best example. The St. Louis,
Chicago, and Boston papers contain much intelligent opinion on the country, owing, no doubt, to the large increase
of trade between it and those points, and the Nation employs a writer who extracts order from the chaos of Mexican affairs, but as much can hardly yet be said of most of the other papers of New York.
A decided literary event has been the appearance of the several volumes of H. H. Bancroft's great History of the Pacific States, devoted to Mexico. They cover respectively the periods of the Aboriginal Annals, the Conquest, the Viceroys, the War of Independence, and Modern Times, including the North American Invasion. The style is bad and the philosophy not profound, but as a narrative and mass of material—of which, perhaps, hereafter, an even better use may be made it fills a place that
nothing else Has even attempted. Its bibliography contains an amazing list of books, and a single brief chapter is often followed by several finely printed pages of references to authorities. In the portion relating to the Mexican War it abuses our own country, as it is the fashion for most later writers to do, and warmly stands by the defeated nation. Now this is a fault of the chivalric sort,
but it is time to say a word on the other side. By Bancroft's own showing, the war party, "which comprised practically the whole country," overthrew the Mexican
president Herrera because he inclined to favor peaceable overtures from the United States. Mexico did not look upon herself as a weak object of commiseration or
sympathy. She was accustomed to speak of herself at that time in official bulletins as la primer nacion de America. The army had a very shrewd idea of winning the victory; they "thought themselves invincible; that opinion being not merely the result of prejudice, but of the supposition
that they had much military experience and toughness, acquired in their many years of revolutionary strife."
Speaking of books, I know of none manifesting a more enlightened and friendly spirit towards the Mexicans,
though severe in certain ways, than David A. Wells's brief "Study of Mexico." It is a pleasure, after the usual vagueness on the financial question, to find one so competent to handle it thoroughly. He proposes the one practical solution for drawing Mexico out of its almost insuperable difficulties, namely, that the United States should guarantee for a time a low interest upon its national debt. The plan, however strange, is based upon grounds of self-interest as well as duty.
The truth is, the evils of Mexico move in a vicious circle, all mutually accelerating one another. A disturbed state of society both checked production and made necessary a large army to maintain order. An increased army means heavier taxes, while the ability to earn them has diminished. The difficulty of raising money induces the government to put on the screws, and use undue parsimony towards the public servants. This leads to smuggling and official corruption that deplete by the wholesale the already scanty revenue, throttles what little productive industry yet remained, and kindles again the blaze of revolution. Partly through these causes, and partly as a tradition from the old Spanish domination, Mexico is cursed with the worst system of extortionate imposts known to modern times. Tribute is levied not only on all the coasts and frontiers, but at the borders of every State, and again at the gates of every town and village. No real prosperity can be looked for till this is got rid of, and an enlightened system of taxation put in its place. But in the mean time the country needs the money, and how is this to be done? Where is the requisite point of support to be found while the change is being made? There is certainly no help unless it come from without. Now that peace is assured, why should we not do a service so slight for our own part and so great for its recipient.
I say that peace is assured. We have now well entered upon the eleventh year since any government has been overthrown by revolution—a thing not only unprecedented, but never even remotely approached since 1810. It is true that another election is approaching, and mutterings are again heard against the sway of Porfirio Diaz, who keeps his grasp upon the ruling power in a dictatorial way, but these are not very likely to be effective. There is no
great evidence as yet of the growth of the habit of government by the popular will. The brief parliamentary opposition, towards the end of Gonzales's term, was utterly wiped out in the elections of 1886, so that there is now as usual but one party, namely, that of Don Porfirio.
The constitution has just been amended in his interest to allow of re-election. Anywhere else this would seem slightly illogical, as he secured his place originally by wading through seas of blood on the campaign of "No Re-election!" a plank of the Plan of Tuxtepec even more important than that about the English debt. But the
Americans have got into the habit of taking Mexico a good deal in her own way, and not expecting her to square to preconceived notions. As long as the peace is preserved, the present friendly leaning will not be abated, and the advent of more truly representative government will be awaited with the establishment of a better economic system.