Mexico, as it was and as it is/Journal of excursion to Tezcoco

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Mexico, as it was and as it is  (1847)  by Brantz Mayer





&c. &c. &c.

I left Mexico on the seventh of October, with some friends, to visit the ancient city of Tezcoco, and the Pyramids of St. Juan Teotihuacan. There are two routes; one by the road around the southern margin of the lake, and another by the Indian canoes across the lake itself. We selected the latter, and rendezvoused at the gate of San Lazaro, where the canal enters the city. There was some difficulty in finding a boat, as we had delayed beyond the hour when the vessels usually leave the city, on their return to Tezcoco; but L——, who was well acquainted with the neighborhood beat up the usual haunts of the Indians about the pulqué shops, and, by dint of persuasion and clacos, induced a couple of stout rowers to launch their vessel.

In half an hour we found ourselves on board a flat-bottomed scow, under an awning of mats stretched over saplings, and reclining at full length on the bedding with which we had luckily provided ourselves, against the wants of Tezcoco.

For nearly a mile from the city gate, the canal leads through a tangled marshy tenanted exclusively by mosquitos. The stings of the annoying insects were not idle oh our skins, and I scarcely ever suffered so much as in reaching the waters of the lake through these foul and desolate fens. We, however, soon found our way out of them, stopping for a moment at the Peñon Viejo, a small volcanic hill or pustule rising from the plain, where there are warm baths,[1] and the remains of some ancient sculpture of no great significance.

On attaining the lake itself, the view was exceedingly beautiful. The expanse is a clear and noble sheet, reflecting on its calm bosom every hill and mountain of the valley, while to the north (where it unites with San Cristoval) the lakes and horizon are blended. Yet it is singular, that, sounding in the deepest central part of the lake, we obtained but two feet and a half of water! The boatmen poled the entire distance of twelve miles, and on every side we saw fishermen wading along in the lake, pushing their boats as they loaded them with fish, or gathered the "flies' eggs" from the tall weeds and flags, that are planted in long rows as nests for the insects. These eggs (called agayacatl) were a favorite food of the Indians long before the conquest, and, when baked in patés, are not unlike the roe of fishes, both in flavor and appearance. After frogs in France, and "bird nests" in China, I think they may be esteemed quite a delicacy, and I find that they are not despised even at fashionable tables in the Capital.

Father Gage, at page 111 of his Travels, says that "at one season of the year, the Indians had nets of mail, with the which they raked off a certain dust that is bred on the water of the lake of Mexico, and is kneaded together like unto oas of the sea. They gathered much of the and kept it in heaps, and made thereof cakes like unto brick-bats. And they did not only sell this ware in the market, but also sent it abroad to other fairs and markets afar off; and they did eat this meal, with as good a stomach as we eat cheese; yea, and they hold the opinion, that this scum of fatness of the water is the cause that such great number of fowl cometh to the lake, which in the winter season is infinite."

This was written early in the seventeenth century, and "infinite" still continues to be the number of wild fowl with which these lakes and the neighboring marshes are covered during the winter. I have elsewhere said, that the plains and the waters seem actually peppered with them.

There can of course be but little skill in sporting among such clouds of birds, and the consequence is that they are slain for the market, by persons who rent the best situated shooting-grounds from the proprietors of the lake margins. The gunners erect a sort of infernal machine, with three tiers of barrels—one, level with the marsh or water, another slightly elevated, and the third at a still greater angle. The lower tier is discharged at the birds while they are sitting, and this of course destroys a multitude; but as some must necessarily escape the first discharge, the second and third tiers are fired in quick succession, and it is rare indeed that a duck avoids the wholesale slaughter. From 125,000 to 200,000 annually load the markets of Mexico, and form the cheapest food of the multitude; but it is rare that you can procure one delicate enough to bring to your table.

* * * * * *

It was near four o'clock, when, under the slow impulse of our polers, we approached the eastern border of the lake. The shores were dotted with white-walled haciendas and lines of beautiful groves, while at the distance of a few miles, in the interior, rose the lofty sierra, in the midst of which, the mountain of Tlaloc, "the god of Storms," was brewing a heavy thunder-storm. The clouds were thickly gathered around the top of the mountain, and as we disembarked on the waste-like quay, among sands and marshes, the first premonitory' drops began to patter on our hats. Here we had expected to find a carriage, or at least horses, waiting to convey us the remaining league to the town of Tezcoco. But as we did not arrive by the early boats of the morning, our friends had returned home, presuming that we had relinquished our proposed expedition.

While our baggage was landing from the boat, the rain increased rapidly. There was no place for shelter, except an open shed occupied by the boatmen during the day. Thunder and lightning were soon added to the storm; and yet, in the midst of these accumulated discomforts, we took up our line of march, as the prospect of remaining was worse than the danger of a drenching. None of the Indians could be bought or bribed to leave their boats and carry our luggage, nor were there any idlers about, willing to earn an honest penny as porters. I therefore put on my serape, and the oil-skin cover of my hat; and fastening my valise by a handkerchief on my back, balanced it (aguador fashion, in front,) by my gun and sword,—and thus set forth for a dreary tramp over the lonely waste.

As we advanced, the rain and tempest of wind, thunder and lightning, increased, and I have no recollection, in the course of my travels, of a more disagreeable pilgrimage than the one we made to Tezcoco. Our anxiety was greatly increased by the loss of one of our party in the darkness among some morasses, and by the rise of a considerable stream that crossed the road near the town. We however waded the brook, and, about eight o'clock, arrived at the hospitable dwelling of an American, who, after wandering about the world in various capacities, has settled down in the city of Tezcoco, where (from his connection with an extensive menagerie, that once astonished the Mexicans with its lions and monkeys,) he passes by the significant cognomen of "El de las fieras." A kindlier heart, however, exists not on earth; and to him and to his Mexican wife, I am indebted for many a pleasant hour, beguiled by the exquisite music of the one, and the story of wild adventure of the other.


8th October. We rose early. Every symptom of yesterday's storm was swept from the sky—a clear and beautiful day, mild as our June.

After breakfast we sallied forth to make arrangements for our journey to Teotihuacan, but found that the person who was to furnish us with horses had gone on a bull-catching expedition to a neighboring hacienda. Finding it, therefore, impossible to make any excursions to the neighbor, hood to-day, we amused ourselves by strolling over the town and seeing all that is interesting in the way of antiquarian research.

At the period of the conquest, Tezcoco was the second city of the Mexican Empire; and what it must have been in splendor and vastness, may be judged from the account I have heretofore given of the Capital itself. Situated, then, on the borders of the lake, (the spot from which Cortez launched his brigantines when he invested Mexico by water,) it perhaps resembled Pisa both in power and importance; but every trace of its former magnificence has disappeared, and it has dwindled to scarcely more than a respectable village, where a few herdsmen, fisher, men, and farmers have gathered together for mutual protection and traffic. The large Plaza is silent and deserted—the people loll about their shops and houses as on a holyday—a universal quietude rests over the whole town—and a general listlessness seems to prevail both in regard to the present and the future.[2]

I was particularly struck with one bad feature in the character of the Tezcocans—a disregard for their dead. In passing through the western portion of the town we came to the parish church, which was being repaired. On entering the square in front of it, I stumbled against a human skull; a little farther on, I found the niches in the walls filled with them;—the floor of the edifice was taken up, and the dead-pits had been cleaned and scraped, yet the remains of the human frame were still plenteously scattered over the bottom, and the stench was intolerable. The whole surface of the yard was strewn with ribs and thigh bones—lower jaws—teeth—and fragments of skulls, and a huge pile of rich, black mould, mottled with human bones, teas thrown in a corner—the contents of the pits within.

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ancient bas relief


In the northwestern comer of Tezcoco is a pile of earth, bricks, mortar and pottery, entirely shapeless, and covered with a field of aloes; on the top of this I found several very large slabs of basalt, squared with the chisel and laid due north and south. Tradition says, that these are the remains of the Palace of Montezuma.

On this spot, some years ago, the small fragment represented in the opposite drawing was found, and immediately transferred to the collection of the Conde del Peñasco, in Mexico, where it is now preserved.

It appears to be the remains of a trough or basin, and the sculpture is neatly executed in relief. I imagine that it was designed to represent a conflict between a serpent and bird, and you cannot fail to remark the cross distinctly carved near the lower right-hand comer of the vessel.

At the southern end of the town, there are still distinctly traceable three immense pyramids, the forms of which are not so much obliterated as might be supposed after the lapse of centuries. They lie in a line with each other from north to south—are about four hundred feet in extent on each side of their bases, and are built partly of adobes and partly of large burned bricks and fragments of pottery. In many places I discovered remains of a thick covering of cement, through which small canals or gutters had been formed to carry off the water, or, perhaps, the blood, from the upper terrace. The sides of these pyramids were strewn with fragments of idols, clay vessels, and obsidian knives. It is related by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, that the great temple of Tezcoco was ascended by one hundred and seventeen steps; and it is probable that one of these pyramids was the base of the Teocalli to which the historian alludes.

These were all the antiquities I could find in the town of Tezcoco, except the spot where tradition says that Cortéz launched his vessels. It still passes by the name of "Puente de los Bergantines," and is now probably rather more than a mile in a direct line from the lake.

While I was in Mexico a most interesting piece of antiquity was sent from Tezcoco to General Tornel, and presented by him to Mr. Morphy, an opulent English merchant, who has since returned to England. It was a group, modelled in clay, about a foot and a half high, representing a sacrifice, and consisted of two figures—the priest and the victim. The latter (a female) had been thrown over a tall and narrow stone; the priest had just made a deep incision in her back—torn out her heart—and was in the act of offering it to the idol. The expressions of death and agony in the countenance of the woman—and of pride and enthusiasm in the priest, were admirably rendered. I intended making a drawing of this group, but Mr. Morphy sent it to the coast for shipment immediately after its reception, and I scarcely regret the occurrence now, as one of the best antiquarians of Mexico cast considerable doubt on its genuineness. It is the fashion here, as in Italy, to manufacture antiquities by the gross, and it requires a keen eye to detect the imposture.

As we left the Pyramids of Tezcoco, after our morning's examination, we were beset by several of the burghers who professed to sell large collections of interesting fragments and statues. Among these worthies was an old Indian who lived directly opposite the largest of the pyramids, and spent his leisure hours in groping among the ruins. We accompanied them, one after the other, to their houses, but found scarcely anything worthy of purchase except a few small idols of serpentine and some personal ornaments cut from an exceedingly hard and brittle stone. As to the Indian—his idols were the dolls of all his progeny, and had been pounded about the yard of his mud hovel for so many years that their features were entirely obliterated.

* * * * *

In the evening, the person who was to be our guide in the neighborhood, came into town and immediately visited us. I found him to be an honest, open-hearted, rollicking fellow; who passed his time in catching cattle—looking after a small milpa, or corn-field—and hunting in the neighboring mountains. His hands and face were scarred by his numerous encounters with the beasts; yet before he left us he made one of the girls of the family tune her guitar, and leading out another, danced a fandango, while he chanted a song in a patois that I could not understand, but which seemed highly amusing from the merriment of the company.

9th October.—Sunday. A night passed in fleadom! We were, consequently, abroad early—and the day was beautiful. At half-past nine we were in our saddles, and on our way to the


On leaving the town our road lay in a northeasterly direction, through a number of picturesque villages buried in foliage, and fenced with the organ cactus, lifting its tall pillar-like stems to a height of twenty feet above the ground. The country was rolling, and we passed over several elevations and a stream or two before we turned suddenly to the right, and saw the village of St. Juan with an extensive level beyond it, bordered on all sides by mountains, except toward the east, where a deep depression in the chain leads into the plains of Otumba. In the centre of this level are the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, and the opposite

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pyramids of st. juan teotihuacan—western view

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engraving will give you an accurate idea of their position and present appearance from this point.

After we passed through the village, the high-road was soon lost among paths leading between the walled fields of Indian farmers. At short distances, as we advanced in the direction of the pyramids, I observed evident traces of a well made ancient road, covered with several inches of a close and hard cement, which, in turn, was often overlaid with a foot or two of soil. We crossed the plain, and, in a quarter of an hour, stood at the foot of the Tonatiuh Ytzagual, or, "House of the Sun," the base line of which is six hundred and eighty-two feet, and the perpendicular height, two hundred and twenty-one.[3]

There is no other description of these monuments to be given than by saying that they are pyramids, three stories or stages of which are yet distinctly visible. The whole of their exteriors is covered with a thick growth of nopals or prickly pears; and, in many places, I discovered the remains of the coating of cement with which they were incrusted in the days of their perfection. A short distance, northwestwardly, from the " House of the Sun," is the Metzli Ytzagual, or "House of the Moon," with a height of one hundred and forty-four feet. On the level summits of both of these, there were erected, no doubt, the shrines of the gods and the places of sacrifice.

I ascended, clambering among the bushes and loose stones with uncertain footing, to the top of the "House of the Sun.". The view from it was exceedingly picturesque over the cultivated fields to the east and south. Immediately to the south were a number of mound-like clusters, running toward a number of elevations arranged in a square, beyond the streamlet of Teotihuacan, and bordering the road that leads to Otumba. On the western front there were also five or six tumuli extending toward a long line of similar mounds, running from the southern side of the "House of the Moon." These lines were quite distinct, and the whole plain was more or less covered with heaps of stones. It is extremely probable, that at one time they all formed the sepulchres of the distinguished men of the Empire, and constituted the Micoatl or "Path of the Dead"—a name which they bore in the ancient language of the country. It was perhaps the Westminster Abbey of the Toltecs and Aztecs.

You will, however, obtain a much better idea of the arrangement of these pyramids and smaller tumuli by reference to the opposite plan, made some years since by a scientific friend of mine, and compared by me with the remaining ruins on the spot, in 1842.

An examination of the "House of the Moon," or lesser pyramid, affords no more information to the inquirer than the "House of the Sun." Like its neighbor, it is a mass of stones, rocks and cement; but, within a few years past, an entrance has been discovered between the second and third terraces, leading through a narrow passage, that may be traversed on hands and knees on an inclined plane for about twenty-five feet, to two walled chambers, or sinks, like wells;—one of which has a depth of about fifteen feet, and the other rather less. The walls of the entrance and of the sinks are of the common adobe, and there are no remains either of sculpture, painting, or human bodies, to reward the groper through the dark and dusty adit. I could perceive no sign of an entrance in the "House of the Sun."

It is useless to inquire into the antiquity of these pyramids. There is no authentic tradition of their builders, although they are usually referred to the Toltecs. Clavigero[4] is very brief in his remarks in regard to them, but says that in the temples dedicated to the Sun and Moon, there were two idols of huge bulk carved of stone and covered with gold. The breast of the idol of the Sun was grooved out, and a massive image of the planet, in solid gold, was fixed in the hollow. Of this the conquerors immediately possessed themselves, while the idol was destroyed by order of the Bishop of Mexico, and the fragments remained in the neighborhood until the end of the seventeenth century. A huge globular mass of granite at the spot indicated on the plan by the letter B—measuring nineteen feet and eight inches in circumference—may probably be either part of its ruins, or the sacrificial stone upon whose convex surface thousands have been offered to the gods.

A short distance west of this ball, at the place marked with the letter C, in the middle of the small semicircular elevation of ground and stones (on the top of which are three tumuli with five more on its eastern base) is the curious stone of which the following is an exact design.

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It lies due east and west, and is ten feet six inches in length by five feet in breadth. The material is granite, and though the sculpture on the northern and upper sides is very faint, yet, on the side facing the south, it is quite as distinct as represented in the drawing. The dark shade B is a hollow, three inches deep at the sides, and six at the top and bottom. In looking at this stone one might imagine that it had been a pillar, thrown down accidentally on its side; but the exact east and west position—precisely in the centre of the group of tumuli—would seem to forbid such an idea. It is said, that all who sit or recline on this singular fragment are immediately seized with a fainting fit; and, although we had heard of this remarkable property of the relic, we forgot to test the truth of it.

Clavigero tells us, that in the principal temple of Teotihuacan there dwelt constantly four priests, who were remarkable for the virtue and austerity of their lives. Their dress was of the most ordinary stuffs, and their food was confined to a loaf of maize, weighing two ounces, and a cup of atollé or gruel of the same grain.

Every night two of these devotees kept watch—offering incense, singing hymns to the gods, and shedding their blood on the stones of the temple. Their fastings and vigils continued for four years, except during a monthly festival, when they were permitted to indulge in as much food as they desired; but, while preparing for this enjoyment, they were obliged to undergo additional mortifications. At the end of four years they retired from the temple, and an equal number supplied their places, to go through the same rites and sufferings—and, in honor thereof, to receive the same homage and respect both from the people and their sovereign.

But high as was the recompense of their virtues, the punishment of vice, or of a violation of chastity, was proportionably severe. If the crime was proved after strict investigation, the culprit was beaten to death—his body burned—and his ashes scattered to the winds.

* * * * *


There is a singular tradition in regard to the reappearance of the Sun and Moon after the regeneration and multiplication of the human race, which I will here recount to you.

Omecihuatl—the wife of the god Ometeuctli—after having borne many children in heaven, happened once to bring forth a knife of flint, which enraged offspring flung to earth—when lo! from its fragments, sprang seven hundred heroes! Immediately they petitioned their mother to give them power to create men for their servants. But she disdained to her children, and sent them to the god of Hell, who, she declared, would furnish them with a bone of one of the men who had perished in the final destruction of the races. This fragment she ordered them to sprinkle with their blood, and a human pair should spring from it to regenerate the species.

Xolotl, one of the heroes, departed on the dangerous errand, and having obtained the gift from the infernal deity, hastened off precipitately in fear that he might repent the present. So rapidly did he return to earth, that in his speed he accidentally fell and broke the bone! Nevertheless, he returned to his brothers with the fragments, and, placing them in a vessel, sprinkled the precious relics with blood drawn from their bodies. On the fourth day there appeared a boy; and, after a lapse of three days more—during which the bloody sprinklings were continued—a girl was formed. They were reared by their guardian Xolotl with the milk of thistles—and thus commenced the regeneration of the world!

But there was no Sun nor Moon! The luminaries that existed in former days had been extinguished in the general ruin.

The heroic brothers, therefore, assembled on the plain of Teotihuacan. They built a huge pile, and, kindling it, declared that the first who threw himself into the flames should have the glory to be transformed into a Sun. Nanahuatzin, the boldest of the multitude, immediately leaped into the blaze and descended to hell. After a short period, the Sun rose in the east!

But scarcely had he appeared above the horizon when he stopped in his course. They sent a message to the Orb desiring him to continue his travels, but he politely declined doing so until he should see them all put to death!

This, as may well be imagined, was anything but agreeable to the band of sixteen hundred, and not a few undertook to manifest their displeasure very openly. One seized his bow and shot an arrow, which the Sun safely avoided by dodging! Another made an equally passionate and fruitless demonstration; and, so on with several, until the luminary, tired of the sport, and somewhat annoyed, flung back one of the arrows, and fixed it in the forehead of the first hero who had rashly aimed at his blazing disc.

The heroic brothers, intimidated by the fate of their companion, and unable to cope with the Orb, resolved to yield to his behests and to die by the hands of the daring Xolotl; who, after slaying all his relatives, committed suicide. Before the heroes perished, they bequeathed their clothes to their servants; and, even at the period of the conquest, many "ancient garments" were preserved by the Mexicans with singular veneration, under the belief that they were the dying gifts of the valiant heroes, who had restored the lost Sun for the comfort of their race.

A similar fable is told of the origin of the Moon. Before the final sacrifice of the 1600, another person of the same assemblage followed the example of his brother Nanahuatzin, and threw himself into the flames. But the strength of the fire had declined, and as the voluntary victim burned with a paler flame, he was glorified only by the humbler dignity of a Moonship!

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On the plain which had been the scene of this wonderful incantation and miraculous result, the descendants of the race consecrated two temples to the Sun and Moon, and the pyramids I have just described were, doubtless, the bases of their shrines and altars.[5]

* * * * *

It was late when we turned our horses' heads homeward, from the pyramids. At the base of that of the Moon, I met several old Indians who brought me a number of obsidian sacrificial knives, and small heads of a finely tempered clay, of which the opposite figures are specimens. They have evidently never been attached to bodies, and their purposes are entirely unknown by the Mexican antiquarians, although they have hitherto been discovered in great quantities at the foot of these Teocallis.

As we were just departing, an old woman lugged from beneath her petticoat a singular box of mottled marble, divided into four compartments, and covered on its exterior with very elaborate carving. The figures appeared to be those of Spaniards, and, in one place, there was a symbol resembling the cross. She said it had been dug up in an old field by her husband, when planting his last year's crop. Having purchased it for a dollar, it was forthwith deposited in the folds of a serape on my pillion, with the sonorous title of "Montezuma's inkstand!"

We rode merrily home, and reached Tezcoco by a brilliant moonlight, meeting troops of Indians returning from their Sunday's frolic in the town. As we passed through the numerous corn-fields with which the road-side is bordered, we heard the loud crack of the milperos' whip, as, seated on his high perch in the midst of the acres, he waved it, during the whole night, in terrorem, over the flocks of robber black-birds that infest the neighborhood as the grain is ripening.


10th October.—Monday, An idle day, as Tio Ignacio, (as he is familiarly called,) was unable to accompany us to Tezcosingo.

Last night a young woman died in the house next to us, and her body is exposed to-day on a bier, surrounded with flowers and candles, in the entrance of the dwelling, so that it may be seen by every passer.

Approaching death, and the funeral services, are matters of considerable pomp in Mexico with almost all classes—and, especially, with the rich.

In April last, Madame Santa Anna, the wife of the President, was dangerously ill, and on the 19th of the month her life was in imminent peril. Early in the morning it was rumored that she was to receive the last sacrament, and, in all probability, would not survive the service. About noon, notes of invitation were sent from the Foreign Office to all the members of the Diplomatic Corps, requesting their presence at the ceremony of the Viaticum; and at seven o'clock we repaired, in uniform, to the Palace, where we were provided with massive wax torches, and ranged round the walls of the audience-chamber with the invited citizens, strangers, and friends of the suffering lady.

It was already quite dark. Presently the large bell of the Cathedral began to toll mournfully; and; being near a window overlooking the great square, I could perceive a solemn procession, with torches, issue from the door of the sacred edifice, preceded by a military band performing appropriate music. Slowly it advanced to the Palace gates—the jewelled robes of the Archbishop and attendant priests, flashing in the blaze of a thousand lights, as they approached the portals. They mounted the steps; entered the apartment; and, as the prelate passed through, chanting a hymn, the crowd knelt to the sacred elements. The Cabinet Ministers and Chiefs of the army then accompanied the priests into the chamber of the lady, where the required functions were performed. Returning again, through our saloon, they issued into the square, and, after making a tour around it, entered the Cathedral. The effect of this procession—with its torches blazing in the night like so many diamonds—its solemn military music, and its melancholy hymn-was solemn and picturesque.

There was a similar display (though not with so much magnificence,) at the death of General Moran, ex-Marquis of Vivanco. His dwelling was directly opposite my hotel, and I saw the whole of the preparations for his funeral from the windows.

Having been a patriotic soldier in his day, the Government undertook the arrangement of the last rites in his honor, and he was escorted by the flower of the troops.

His body was embalmed by the process of Ganal. It was laid on an open bier, dressed in the full uniform of a Major-general, with boots, spurs, plumed hat, sword, and even the cane by his side, as is usual with Spanish officers. So perfectly had the operation been performed on the body, that it presented in these equipments, a horrid and unnatural mockery of sleep; nor shall I ever forget the stony gaze of the glass eyes, as the dead body of the General issued from his gate-way.

To the sound of solemn music the procession moved along the streets of Espiritu Santo and San Francisco, toward the great church near the Alameda. The bier was placed on a lofty catafalque before the altar, hung with black velvet and lighted with tapers. A solemn service was performed with every aid of ecclesiastical splendor—and a multitude of priests, in the different chapels, immediately commenced their masses for the repose of the hero's soul. At dark, his body was left with watchers around the pile on which it reposed, and, in a few days, it was deposited in an oaken sarcophagus and carried lo a favorite hacienda for interment.


11th October. Another fine day. After breakfast we started on our promised expedition to the hill of Tezcosingo which rises in a tall cone at the end of the eastern plain, jutting out for a mile or two from the wall of mountains.

Tio Ignacio accompanied us on this occasion, and proved an excellent guide over the country. By his free, bold, dashing manners, and consummate courage, he has managed to obtain a remarkable control over all the neighboring Indians, and appears to be a person likely lo make himself obeyed. He took an active part in the Revolution, and, as we rode from the town, pointed out to me the spot where, during a sudden night-attack of a guerilla party, he had been chased by a band of troopers from whom he was alone saved by the swiftness of his horse. It seems, however, that one of the cavalry, more daring than the rest, continued the pursuit after his companions had retreated,—but he paid dearly far his rashness in the end.

When Ignacio had cleared the streets and the suburbs of Tezcoco, he suddenly turned on his follower, and striking off at right-angles, dexterously threw his lasso over the trooper. In a moment he had dismounted his pursuer;—and putting his animal into full gallop, dragged the wretch for more than a mile over the plain, and cast his mangled body into a barranca!

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throwing the lasso.

* * * * *

As we trotted over the league of level ground that intervened between the town and hill, this story of the "tio"[6] brought out some of the revolutionary recollections of one of our party. I will record a couple of these illustrating the jugglery of the chiefs, and the controlling superstitious power of the priesthood over the mass of insurgent Indians.

It is related that Hidalgo, the celebrated priestly leader of the Revolutionary movement, was accustomed to travel from village to village preaching a crusade against the Spaniards, and exciting the Creoles and Indians; and one of his most effective tricks is said to have been the following. Although he had thrown off the cassock for the military coat, he wore a figure of the Virgin Mary suspended by a chain around his neck. After haranguing the mob on such occasions, he would suddenly break off, and looking down at his breast, address himself to the holy image, after the following fashion:—"Mary! Mother of God! Holy Virgin! Patron of Mexico! behold our country,—behold our wrongs,—behold our sufferings! Dost thou not wish they should be changed? that we should be delivered from our tyrants? that we should be free? that we should slay the Guachupines? that we should kill the Spaniards?"

The image had a moveable head fastened to a spring, which he jerked by a cord concealed beneath his coat, and, of course, the Virgin responded with a nod! The effect was immense—and the air was filled with Indian shouts of obedience to the present miracle.

* * * * *

During the heat of the insurrection, it was deemed necessary, upon a certain occasion, to execute a priest; and the officer in command of the party ordered a common soldier to lead the padre to a neighboring ditch, and dispatch him with a bullet.

The soldier peremptorily refused, declaring that it was unlawful for him to kill a "servant of God." The officer threatened him with instant death if he persisted in his refusal; but the soldier continued firm. The Captain then turned to the priest, ordered him to "receive the confession of the soldier on the spot," and then sent both to the ditch, where they were murdered together!

He who writes the secret history of the Mexican Revolt, will have to record a story of blood, crime and superstition, unequalled in the annals of the world.

* * * * *

At the village of Huejutla there are some interesting remains of the ancient Indians. A large ruined wall, about twenty-five feet in height and five or six in thickness, is pointed out as part of a palace, and terminates, to the eastward, on the steeps of a barranca. This barranca is crossed by an ancient arched bridge, which we neglected visiting. The most interesting, and certainly the most picturesque, antique in the vicinity, is a noble row of seventeen olive trees, in an inclosure near the church, alleged to have been planted by the conquerors.

We stopped at the house of an Alcaldé in the village of Natividad, to procure an Indian guide, who had promised his services to aid Ignacio in discovering certain fossil remains that lay on the edges of the mountains to the eastward; but, after waiting a considerable length of time, neither Ignacio nor the Indian appeared, and we determined to proceed alone toward Tezcosingo, under the escort of L——, who professed to be well acquainted with the hill and its antiquities.

The conical mountain rose out of the plain directly north of us; but in order to reach its base, we were obliged to descend a ravine three or four hundred feet in depth, and to ascend afterward along cliffs and herbage like those that opposed us on our journey to Xochicalco. At length we gained the foot of the mountain, and commenced a zig-zag ascent to the eastward among nopals and rocks that seemed almost impassable.

We managed, nevertheless, to reach the summit of the ridges after an hour's labor, and beheld Ignacio in the distance, scouring the plain at a gallop. A shout from our party soon arrested his attention, and wheeling his horse, he was quickly vat our side at full dash over cliff and ravine. I felt mortified at having lost confidence in him at the village, as we found, on explanation, that he had been most anxiously engaged in endeavoring to persuade the Indian to guide us. The savage, however, steadily persisted for a long time in refusing to accompany him; believing that if he pointed out the fossil remains, we would certainly carry off some of them, "to which he would never consent, as they were the bones of certain giants who had been the ancestors of his race!"

I know not by what witchcraft Ignacio managed finally to prevail with the Indian; but he pointed him out, waiting for us at the foot of a group of palmettos on an opposite hill. Thither we quickly ascended; yet, scarcely had we reached the trees, when the rain commenced pattering down from the eastward, where it had been brewing as usual for the last hour around the brow of old Tlaloc.

The day was already far advanced and we had as yet seen nothing of remarkable interest. At the distance of a couple of leagues to the eastward, was the edge of the barranca containing the bones; while, a league to the west, was the unexplored hill of Tezcosingo. To see both of these spots on that evening was impossible, and yielding, therefore, to the earnest solicitation of the Indian, who pointed out to us the resting-place of the "huesos de sus antepasados" in the clayey soil of the eastern barrancas, we gathered together under the shelter of the trees, and partook of a dinner of dried kid, peppers and pulqué, preparatory to our visit to Tezcosingo.[7]

Directly at the foot of the eminence on which we rested, there was an extensive Indian remain. By an able system of engineering, the water had been brought by the ancients from the eastern sierra, for a distance, probably, of three leagues, by conduits across barrancas and along the sides of the hill; and the ruin below us was that of one of these aqueducts, across a ravine about a hundred feet in elevation.

You will find a view of this work in the opposite picture. The base of the two conduit pipes is raised to the required level on stones and masonry and the canals for the water are made of an exceedingly hard cement of mortar and fragments of pounded brick. Although, of course, long since abandoned, it is, in many places, as perfect as on the day of its completion; and perhaps as good a work, for all the necessary purposes as could be formed at the present day by the most expert engineers.

The view over the valley, to the north, toward the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, and across the lake to Mexico, was uninterrupted; and the city (beyond the waters, surrounded by a mirage on the distant plain,) seemed placed again, as it was three hundred years ago, in the midst of a beautiful lake.

After we had finished our meal, we gave a small compensation to the conscientious Indian, (who seemed delighted to escape from the meditated sacrilege,) and resumed our route toward Tezcosingo. The road, for a long distance, lay over an extensive table-land, with a deep valley north and south, filled on both sides with haciendas, villages, and plantations. We crossed the shoulder of a mountain, and descended half way a second ravine, near the eighth of a mile in extent, until we struck the level of another ancient aqueduct that led the waters directly to the hill of Tezcosingo. This elevation was broader, firmer, and even in better preservation, than the first. It may be crossed on horseback — thrice abreast.

As soon as we struck the celebrated hill we began ascending rapidly, by an almost imperceptible cattle-path, among gigantic cacti, whose thorns tore our skins as we brushed by them. Over the whole surface, there were remains of a spiral road cut from the living rock — strewn with
click here to enlarge image.

ancient aqueduct from the mountain to the hill of tezcosingo

fragments of pottery, Indian arrows, and broken sacrificial knives; while, occasionally, we passed over the ruins of an aqueduct winding round the hill. The eminence seems to have been converted, from its base to its summit, (a distance of perhaps five hundred feet,) into a pile of those terraced gardens, so much admired by every tourist who falls into raptures among the romantic groves of Isola Bella.

Our horses seemed to be better accustomed to the dangerous clambering among these steeps, than ourselves, and we therefore continued in our saddles until we reached a point about fifty feet below the summit, where, in a due northerly direction, the rock had been cut into seats along a recess leading to a perpendicular wall, which is said to have been covered, until recently, with a Toltec Calendar. When the Indians found that a place, otherwise so unattractive, was visited by foreigners, they immediately imagined their ancestors had concealed treasures behind the stone; as they supposed that gold, and not mere curiosity could have lured strangers from a distance to so unsightly a spot. They consequently destroyed the carved rock in order to penetrate the hill, and there is now not a fragment of the ancient sculpture remaining. In the hole, burrowed by the treasure-finders, we discovered a number of Indians, of both sexes, sheltering themselves from the rain; and as they had a supply of nopals, (with which the surrounding rocks are covered,) we were not loth to dismount, and, forgetting our indignation for the moment—crawled into their cavern to enjoy the luscious fruit.

A few steps upward led us to the summit of Tezcosingo. I found there no remains of a temple or edifice; but as the hill is supposed to have been formerly dedicated to the bloody rites of Indian worship, modern piety has thought proper to purify the spot by the erection of a cross. And never was one built on a more majestic and commanding site. From its foot, the entire valley, lake, Tezcoco, Mexico, and lakes far to the north, were distinctly visible, and the beauty of the panorama was greatly increased by the sudden clearing of the skies, and an outburst of the setting sun.

Bidding our Indians farewell in their burrow, we descended over massive fragments of architecture, to a spot where a path terminates abruptly in a bastion-like wall, plunging, precipitously down the side of the mountain for two hundred feet. Here we found what is called the "Bath of Montezuma."

click on image to enlarge.

bath of montezuma.

It will be observed in the drawing, that the rock is smoothed to a perfect level for several yards, around which seats and grooves are carved from the adjacent masses. In the centre there is a circular sink, about a yard and a half in diameter, and a yard in depth, and a square pipe, with a small aperture, led the water from an aqueduct, which appears to terminate in this basin. None of the stones have been joined with cement but the whole was chiselled from the mountain rock.

The origin and purpose of this work of art are entirely unknown. The view from it is secluded and picturesque, over a small glimpse of plain seen through a frame-work of narrow and shadowy valley;—but as Latrobe says, "As to being Montezuma's Bath—it might have been his foot-bath. if you will—but it would be an impossibility for any monarch, of larger dimensions than Oberon, to take a duck in it!"

Such, however, is the extent of general Mexican antiquarianism; their knowledge of history reaches to the reign of the last monarch but one of the ancient Empire, and if a monument or an idol is not referable to Montezuma it is disposed of most summarily by the universal—"Quien sabe!"

* * * * *

It was growing quite late (after descending the hill of Tezcosingo to the plain at the north of it,) as we passed through the estate of the ex-Marquis of V——, known as "La Molina," or the Mill. Extensive plantations of grain and maguey spread out over a vast expanse of country, and no buildings are perceptible until you approach the edges of a wide barranca, traversed by a stream from the mountains, freshening the verdure of clusters of shrubbery, that conceal the rocks and rugged sides of the ravine. After falling over a number of precipices, as the glen deepens, and forming some beautiful cascades, the brooklet gradually spreads out on the flats to the west, and here (niched in the last steeps of the tangled barranca,) have been erected the lofty dwelling, stores and mills of the farmer Marquis. Farther up the glen, beyond the dwelling, and reached by a narrow entrance which almost bars approach, the tasteful owner has formed the gorge through which the stream gurgles into one of the most exquisite retreats that can be imagined. The barranca is quite narrow; in its centre the brook skims along over a rocky bed; its sides have been smoothed and planted; grassy seats are built around sward covered recesses; rare flowers are imbedded in spots, where, shielded from the storms, they are ever fresh and blooming; a tiny chapel is erected on a jutting rock, and breaks the silence with its silvery bell; and, over all, the lofty trees (meeting in a Gothic arch from bank to bank,) cast their eternal shade throughout the scarcely varying seasons. It is the most beautiful bijou of rural design that I have seen in Mexico. Indeed, it is equalled by few, elsewhere, and may be regarded as the more remarkable, as the whole has been formed out of what was once but an unsightly gully.

12th October. We rode to-day to the Contador, another relic of Montezuma. It is a noble grove of cypresses, about a league northwest of Tezcoco. It was, however, not only our intention to see those trees; but Don Ignacio had eagerly persuaded us to join him in a plover-shooting expedition, on the marsh lands near the lake. I was, therefore, as you may well imagine, exceedingly surprised to find our guide waiting at his door, to accompany us, mounted on a bull! My first disposition was to laugh; but he prevented it by a smile, and a request to "wait until we got among the chichiquillotes and see what a sportsman his beast was!" Tio is remarkable for his hunting strategy; and, besides his bull, (with which he hunts even in the mountains,) he has invented a pipe that perfectly counterfeits the bleating of deer; and by its sound he has often attracted a dozen around him, while lying concealed in the coverts of the forest. Upon the whole, he is a perfect Yankee in inventive talent for the destruction of game; and I doubt not that, if it were his lot to live for a season on the banks of the Chesapeake, he would manage to convert himself occasionally into a stalk of "wild celery," to decoy the canvas-backs within reach of his weapon.

* * * * *

A ride of an hour over flats, partially covered with wretched looking salt-works, brought us to the grove of the Contador, which had been distinctly visible as soon as we left the garden suburb of Tezcoco.

Our party led their horses toward some higher ground, north of the square, which is formed by a double line of magnificent cypresses, near five hundred in number, and inclosing about ten acres of ground—while I (although warned by Ignacio) kept on to the interior of the grove, intending to coast around the trees in expectation of finding abundance of game. After lingering for half an hour in the grove, and finding my labor useless, I thought it best to take a short cut across the square in order to reach my companions; but, scarcely had my horse advanced a dozen paces over the apparently solid earth, when he suddenly halted and snorted, as if unwilling to proceed. I applied both whip and spar; and, in the next moment, he was above his girths—sinking in a morass! I sprang immediately on top of the saddle, and, seizing the lasso, leaped to the last spot where the animal had stood firmly. In the meantime my poor beast was sinking deeper and deeper—and when, by dint of the whip and encouragement, I brought his head around, he had already sunk to the saddle-cloth. Rolling himself slightly on his side, he made room to lift his legs, and thus, gradually floundered-out of the deceptive marsh. When I rejoined my friends, they congratulated me on escaping as fortunately as I had done.

At the northwestern angle of this square I found a double row of cypresses, running westwardly toward a dyke. North of this again, I discovered a deep tank, of oblong shape, neatly walled with cut stone, and filled with water. Of the great antiquity of all these remains there can be no doubt, and it struck me that the interior of the cypress square was once a pond or mimic lake, filled no doubt from the neighboring Tezcoco, and forming part of the gardens of the luxurious monarchs. Unless this were the case, it is difficult to account for the spongy and yielding mass in the centre of the grove, while the surrounding grounds are dry and cultivated.

After lingering in the pleasant shade for an hour, and amusing ourselves with rifle-shooting at zopilotes perched on the highest branches of the cypresses, we started off (marshalled by tio on his bull Sancho,) toward the marshes that lay between the grove and town. Just as we were passing through a small Indian village near the salt-works, a thunder storm came on, and we immediately took shelter in the house of one of Ignacio's numerous acquaintances. The worthy man was a candle-maker by trade, and had a manufactory in full blast in the adjoining room. The neighborhood, of course, was anything but fragrant; yet he drove out a couple of sheep, chickens and turkeys from a corner—arranged our saddles for chairs on the earthen—and we were soon enjoying a refreshing lunch of tortillias and pulqué.

After the shower had passed we again sallied forth, and reaching the marshy flats, amused ourselves with watching the operations of Ignacio, instead of making war ourselves upon the delicate birds. After wandering about for some time without starting game, Ignacio at last perceived a flock alight a hundred yards to the north of him. He dismounted immediately—waved his hand to us to remain quiet—crouched behind the bull, and putting the animal in motion, in the direction of the birds, they both crept on together until within gunshot. Here, by a twitch at his tail, the beast was stopped, and began munching the tasteless grass as eagerly as if gratifying a relishing appetite. Ignacio then slowly raised his head to a level with the bull's spine and surveyed the field of battle, while the birds paddled about the fens unconscious of danger. Although evidently within good shooting distance, the tio discovered that he had not precisely got a raking range; and therefore, again dodging behind his rampart, put the bull in motion for the required spot. This attained, he levelled his gun on the animal's back and fired—honest Sancho never stirring his head from the grass! Several birds fell, while the rest of the flock, seeing nothing but an unbelligerent bull, scarcely flew more than a dozen yards before they alighted again—and thus, the conspiring beast and sportsman sneaked along, from shot to shot, until nearly the whole flock was bagged!

The result of the afternoon's work was a plentiful platter, around which we gathered in the hospitable dwelling of L——; and not the least entertainment of the evening was a song from the "tio," and a wild dance called "the Zopilote," which he accomplished after several supplementary tumblers of capital pulqué.

13th October. Although our researches in this neighborhood are finished, we can to-day get no conveyance to Mexico. There is not a vehicle to be had in the town; the boats do not leave until to-morrow, and I feel indisposed to undergo the fatigue and exposure of a day's journey on horseback over the plains between the lakes.

I have therefore resolved to wait for the Indian canoes, and, in the meantime, will connect some sketches of interesting ruins that I find in memoranda made by me during the study of various authors who have written on American and Mexican antiquities.

I do so, because the works in which these subjects are discussed are exceedingly expensive, and rarely to be found either in this country or in Europe; and I desire, moreover, to show how completely the whole of this country has, at one time, been covered with an active and intelligent population, the only hints of whose history are left in the ruins of their splendid architecture.





Mounds and tumuli covering human relics, have been traced from Wales across the continent, through Russia and Tartary. I have been able to find no account of these works on the western side of the Rocky mountains, or in the direction of Behring's Straits; but, from the limits of Ouiskonsin, they constantly increase in number and extent.[8]

On the south side of Ontario, one of these remains, not far from Black river, is, I am informed, the farthest that has been discovered in a northeastern direction. One on the Chenango river, at Oxford, is the farthest south on the eastern side of the Alleghanies, of undoubted and untraditional antiquity.

In travelling westwardly toward Lake Erie, some are to be found in Genessce County, but they are scarce and small until we arrive at Cattaraugus Creek, where, according to the late Governor Clinton, a chain of forts commences, extending southwardly upward of fifty miles, at a distance from each other of not more than four or five.

South of these again, extensive works were discovered at Circleville, at Chillicothe, at the mouth of the Scioto and Muskingum, at Cincinnati, at St. Louis, and at numerous points along the Valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi.

Among these tumuli and fortifications, a variety of interesting relics have been found by their explorers. Vessels of earthenware, utensils of copper, painted pottery, vases of curious form, copper beads, and circular plates of the same material, carvings in stone, silver and gold ornaments; and, at Natchez and near Nashville, idols of stone, which are not unlike those heretofore represented in my letters as existing in Mexico. Drawings of these idols are given in the Archæologia Americana, at pages 211 and 215 of the first volume.

Extensive mural remains are scattered over the immense plain, from the southern shore of Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico, and may be traced around the Gulf, across Texas into New Mexico, increasing in size and splendor as they advance toward the south. The student who desires to examine the subject more minutely, may refer to the before-mentioned volume of the Archæologia Americana, where he will find a long and interesting treatise by Mr. Attwater;—the plates of which will illustrate the size and character of these works more satisfactorily than any mere verbal descriptions.

I have thus traced a continuous chain of structures, chiefly of earthen mounds, and trifling relics pertaining to the necessaries of life, defence, and worship, throughout the greater portion of our western territory until it joins the soil of Mexico. I will now proceed with the account of such antiquities, of an architectural character, besides those already described by me, as have come to my knowledge in the latter Republic.

In the year 1773, the Padre Francisco Garcés, accompanied by Padre Font, in the course of their travels in the northern departments of Mexico, arrived at a vast and beautiful plain on the south bank of the river Gila, running westwardly from the great chain of the Rocky mountains, and falling into the Gulf of California between the thirty-third and thirty-fourth degrees of north latitude. There the travellers discovered remains of extensive works and ruins, covering a square league of ground, in the midst of which was an edifice, called by them the "Casa Grande."

Like most of the Indian works, it was built of unburned bricks, and measured about four hundred and fifty feet in length, by two hundred and fifty in breadth. Within this edifice they found traces of five apartments. A wall, broken at intervals by lofty towers, surrounded the building, and appeared to have been designed for defence. The remains of a canal were still perceptible, by which the waters of the Gila had been conveyed to the ruined town.

The neighboring plains were covered (like the ruins I have recently described at Tezcoco and Tezcosingo,) with fragments of obsidian, and glazed and painted pottery; the Indians of the vicinity were found by the explorers to be mild, civil, and intelligent people, devoted to the cultivation of the soil and possessing in no degree the ferocity or savage habits of the Cumanchés or Apachés.

Northwestwardly from Chihuahua, and southwestwardly from these ruins, near the thirtieth degree of latitude, are similar remains; and in the mountains in the latitude of 27° 28', there is a multitude of caverns excavated from the solid rocks, on the sides and walls of which are painted the figures of various animals, and of men and women, in dresses by no means unlike the habiliments of the ancient Mexicans, as depicted in drawings and pictures that have been preserved until our day.

Some of the caves discovered by Father Joseph Rotéa, are described as being thirty feet in length by fifteen in breadth, and are supposed by writers to have been, perhaps, the "seven abodes" from which the Mexican tradition describes their ancestors as having issued when they began their emigration.


North of the city of Mexico, in the department of Zacatecas, (a country that is supposed to have been inhabited by the Chicimecas and Ottomies at the period of the conquest,) situated on the level of a hill top, which rises out of the plain like another Acropolis, are the extensive remains of an Indian city, known as the "Ruins of Quemada."[9]

The northern side of the cerro rises with an easy slope from the plain, and is guarded by bastions and a double wall, while, on the other sides, the steep and precipitous rocks of the hill itself, form natural defences. The whole of this elevation is covered with ruins; but on the southern side, chiefly, may be traced the remains of temples, pyramids, and edifices for the priests, cut from the living rock, and rising to the height of from two to four hundred feet above the level of the surrounding country. These rock-built walls are sometimes joined by mortar of no great tenacity, and the stones (many of which are twenty-two feet in thickness and of a corresponding height,) are retained in their positions mainly by their own massiveness.

The opposite engraving represents the patio, or courtyard of a temple, as drawn by M. Nebel. On the back part of the square is raised the pyramid, or teocalli, on which was placed the altar and idol. The stairs behind the teocalli conduct to other temples and pyramids beyond, and served, perhaps, as seats for the spectators of the bloody rites that were celebrated by the priests.

The most satisfactory account I have seen of these ruins, is given by Captain Lyon in a volume of his travels in Mexico.

"We set out," says he, "on our expedition to the Cerro de los Edificios, u nder the guidance of an old ranchero, and soon arrived at the foot of the abrupt and steep rock on which the buildings are situated. Here we perceived two ruined heaps of stones, flanking the entrance to a causeway ninety-three feet broad, commencing at four hundred feet from the cliff.

"A space of about six acres has been inclosed by a broad wall, of which the foundations are still visible, running first to the south and afterward to the east. Off its southwestern angle stands a high mass of stones, which flanks the causeway. In outward appearance it is of a pyramidal form, owing to the quantities of stones piled against it either by design or by its own ruin; but on closer examination its figure could
click on this image to enlarge it.

Ruins of Quemada.

be traced by the remains of solid walls, to have been a square of thirty-one feet by the same height: the heap immediately opposite is lower and more scattered, but in all probability formerly resembled it. Hence the grand causeway runs to the northeast until it reaches the ascent of the cliff, which, as I have already observed, is about four hundred yards distant. Here again are found two masses of ruins, in which may be traced the same construction as that before described; and it is not improbable that these two towers guarded the inner entrance to the citadel. In the centre of the causeway, which is raised about a foot and has its rough pavement uninjured, is a large heap of stones, as if the remains of some altar; round which we could trace, notwithstanding the accumulation of earth and vegetation, a paved border of flat slabs arranged in the figure of a six-rayed star.

"We did not enter the city by the principal road, but led our horses with some difficulty up the steep mass formed by the ruins of a defensive wall, inclosing a quadrangle two hundred and forty feet by two hundred, which, to the east, is still sheltered by a strong wall of unhewn stones, eight feet in thickness and eighteen in height. A raised terrace of twenty feet in width passes round the northern and eastern sides of this space, and on its southeast comer is yet standing a round pillar of rough stones, of the same height as the wall, and nineteen feet in circumference.

"There appear to have been five other pillars on the east, and four on the northern terrace; and as the view of the plain which lies to the south and west is hence very extensive, I am inclined to believe that the square has always beep open in these directions. Adjoining to this, we entered by the eastern side to another quadrangle, entirely surrounded by perfect walls of the same height and thickness as the former one, and measuring one hundred and fifty-four feet by one hundred and thirty-seven. In this were yet standing fourteen very well-constructed pillars, of equal dimensions with that in the adjoining inclosure, and arranged, four in length and three in breadth of the quadrangle, from which on every side they separated a space of twenty-three feet in width: probably the pavement of a portico of which they once supported the roof. In their construction, as well as that of all the walls which we saw, a common clay having straw mixed with it has been used, and is yet visible in those places which are sheltered from the rains. Rich grass was growing in the spacious court where Aztec monarchs may once have feasted; and our cattle were so delighted with it that we left them to graze while we walked about three hundred yards to the northward, over a very wide parapet, and reached a perfect, square, flat-topped pyramid of large unhewn stones. It was standing unattached to any other buildings, at the foot of the eastern brow of the mountain, which rises abruptly behind it. On the eastern face is a platform of twenty-eight feet in width, faced by a parapet wall of fifteen feet, and from the base of this extends a second platform with a parapet like the former, and one hundred and eighteen feet wide. These form the outer defensive boundary of the mountain, which from its figure has materially favored their construction. There is every reason to believe that this eastern face must have been of great importance. A slightly raised and paved causeway of about twenty-five feet descends across the valley, in the direction of the rising sun; and being continued on the opposite side of a stream which flows through it, can be traced up the mountains at two miles distance, until it terminates at the base of an immense stone edifice, which probably may also have been a pyramid. Although a stream (Rio del Partido) runs meandering through the plain from the northward, about midway between the two elevated buildings; I can scarcely imagine that the causeway should have been formed for the purpose of bringing water to the city, which is far more easy of access in many other directions much nearer to the river, but must have been constructed for important purposes between the two places in question; and it is not improbable, that it once formed the street between the frail huts of the poorer inhabitants. The base of the large pyramid measured fifty feet, and I ascertained, by ascending with a line, that its height was precisely the same. Its flat top was covered with earth and a little vegetation; and our guide asserted, although he knew not whence he received the information, that it was once surmounted by a statue. Off the southeast comer of this building and at about fifteen yards distant, is to be seen the edge of a circle of stones about eight feet in diameter, inclosing, as far as we could judge on scraping away the soil, a bowl-shaped pit, in which the action of fire was plainly observable; and the earth, from which we picked some pieces of pottery, was evidently darkened by an admixture of soot or ashes. At the distance of one hundred yards southwest of the large pyramid, is a small one, twelve feet square, and much injured. This is situated on somewhat higher ground, in the steep part of the ascent to the mountain's brow. On its eastern face, which is toward the declivity, the height is eighteen feet; and apparently there have been steps by which to descend to a quadrangular space, having a broad terrace round it, and extending east one hundred feet by a width of fifty. In the centre of this inclosure is another bowl-shaped pit, somewhat wider than the first. Hence we began our ascent to the upper works, over a well-buttressed yet ruined wall, built to a certain extent, so as to derive advantage from the natural abruptness of the rock. Its height on the steepest side is twenty-one feet, and the width on the summit, which is level, with an extensive platform, is the same. This is a double wall, one of ten feet having been first constructed and then covered with a very smooth kind of cement, after which the second has been built against it. The platform (which faces to the south, and may to a certain extent be considered as a ledge from the cliff,) is eighty-nine feet by seventy-two; and on its northern centre stand the ruins of a square building, having within it an open space of ten feet by eight, and of the same depth. In the middle of the quadrangle is to be seen a mound of stones eight feet high. A little farther on, we entered by a broad opening between two perfect and massive walls, to a square of one hundred and fifty feet. This space was surrounded on the south, east, and west, by an elevated terrace of three feet by twelve in breadth, having in the centre of each side steps, by which to descend to the square. Each terrace was backed by a wall of twenty feet by eight or nine. From the south are two broad entrances, and on the east is one of thirty feet, communicating with a perfect inclosed square of two hundred feet, while on the west is one small opening, leading to an artificial cave or dungeon, of which I shall presently speak.

"To the north, the square is bounded by the steep mountain; and, in the centre of that side, stands a pyramid with seven ledges or stages, which in many places are quite perfect. It is flat-topped, has four sides, and measures at the base thirty-eight by thirty-five feet, while in height it is nineteen. Immediately behind this, and on all that portion of the hill which presents itself to the square, are numerous tiers of seats, either broken in the rock or built of rough stones. In the centre of the square, and due south of the pyramid, is a small quadrangular building, seven feet by five in height. The summit is imperfect, but it has unquestionably been an altar; and from the whole character of the space in which it stands, the peculiar form of the pyramid, the surrounding terrace, and the seats or steps on the mountain, there can be little doubt that this has been the grand Hall of Sacrifice or Assembly, or perhaps both.

"Passing to the westward, we next saw some narrow inclosed spaces, apparently portions of an aqueduct leading from some tanks on the summit of the mountain; and then were shown the mouth of the cave, or subterraneous passage, of which so many superstitious stories are yet told and believed. One of the principal objects of our expedition had been to enter this mysterious place, which none of the natives had ever ventured to do, and we came provided with torches for the purpose: unfortunately, however, the mouth had very recently fallen in, and we could merely see that it was a narrow, well-built entrance, bearing in many places the remains of good smooth plastering. A large beam of cedar once supported the roof, but its removal by the country people had caused the dilapidation which we now observed. Mr. Tindal, in knocking out some pieces of regularly burnt brick, soon brought a ruin upon his head, but escaped without injury; and his accident caused a thick cloud of yellow dust to fall, which on issuing from the cave assumed a bright appearance under the full glare of the sun;—an effect not lost upon the natives, who became more than ever persuaded that an immense treasure lay hidden in this mysterious place. The general opinion of those who remember the excavation is, that it was very deep; and, from many circumstances, there is a probability of its having been a place of confinement for victims. Its vicinity to the great hall, in which there can be little doubt that the sanguinary rites of the Mexicans were once held, is one argument in favor of this supposition; but there is another equally forcible—its immediate proximity to a cliff of about one hundred and fifty feet, down which the bodies of victims may have been precipitated, as was the custom at the inhuman sacrifices of the Aztecs.[10] A road or causeway, to be noticed in another place, terminates at «he foot of this precipice, exactly beneath the cave and overhanging rock; and conjecture can form no other idea of its intended utility, unless as being in some manner connected with the purposes of the dungeon.

"Hence we ascend to a variety of buildings, all constructed with the same regard to strength, and inclosing spaces on far too large a scale for the abode of common people. On the extreme ridge of the mountain were several tolerably perfect tanks.

"In a subsequent visit to this extraordinary place, I saw some other buildings, which had at first escaped my notice. These were situated on the summit of a rock terminating the ridge, at about half a mile to the N. N.W. of the citadel.

"The first is a building originally eighteen feet square, but having the addition of sloping walls to give it a pyramidal form. It is flat-topped, and on the centre of its southern face there have been steps by which to ascend to the summit. The second is a square altar, its height and base being each about sixteen feet. These buildings are surrounded at no great distance by a strong wall, and at a quarter of a mile to the north-ward, advantage is taken of a precipice to construct another wall of twelve feet in width upon its brink. On a small fiat space, between this and the pyramid, are the remains of an open square edifice, to the southward of which are two long mounds of stone, each extending about thirty feet; and to the northeast is another ruin, having large steps up its side. I should conceive the highest wall of the citadel to be three hundred feet above the plain, and the bare rock surmounts it by about thirty feet more.

"The whole place in fact, from its isolated situation, the disposition of its defensive walls, and the favorable figure of the rock, must have been impregnable to Indians; and even European troops would have found great difficulty in ascending to those works, which I have ventured to name the Citadel. There is no doubt that the greater mass of the nation which once dwelt here, must have been established upon the plain beneath, since from the summit of the rock we could distinctly trace three straight and very extensive causeways, diverging from that over which we first passed. The most remarkable of these ruins southwest for two miles, is forty-six feet in width, and, crossing the grand causeway, is continued to the foot of the cliff, immediately beneath the cave which I have described. Its more distant extreme is terminated by a high and long artificial mound, immediately beyond the river, toward the hacienda of La Quemada. We could trace the second, south and southwest to a small rancho named Coyoté, about four miles distant; and the third ran southwest by south, still farther, ceasing, as the country people informed us, at a mountain six miles distant. All these roads had been slightly raised, were paved with rough stones, still visible in many places above the grass, and were perfectly straight.

"From the flatness of the fine plain over which they extended, I cannot conceive them to have been constructed as paths, since the people, who walked barefoot and used no animals of burthen, must naturally have preferred the smooth, earthy footways, which presented themselves on every side, to these roughly paved ones. If this be allowed, it is not difficult to suppose that they were the centre of streets of huts, which, being in those times constructed of the same kind of frail materials as those of the present day, must long since have disappeared. Many places on the plain are thickly strewed with stones, which may once have formed building materials for the town; and there are extensive modern walls round the cattle farms, which, not improbably, were constructed from the nearest streets. At all events, whatever end these causeways may have answered, the citadel itself still remains, and from its size and strength confirms the accounts given by Cortéz, Bernal Diaz, and others of the conquerors, of the magnitude and extent of the Mexican edifices, but which have been doubted by Robertson, De Pau, and others. We observed also, in some sheltered places, the remains of good plaster, confirming the accounts above alluded to; and there can be little doubt that the present rough, yet magnificent buildings, were once encased in wood and whitened, as ancient Mexico, the towns of Yucatan, Tobasco, and many other places are described to have been.[11]

"The Cerro de los Edificios, and the mountains of the surrounding range, are all of gray porphyry, easily fractured into slabs, and this, with comparatively little labor, has furnished building-materials for the edifices which crown its summit. We saw no remnants of obsidian among the ruins or on the plain—which is remarkable, as being the general substance of which the knives and arrow-heads of the Mexicans were formed;[12] but a few pieces of a very compact porphyry were lying about, and some appeared to have been chipped to a rude form resembling arrow-heads.

"Not a trace of the ancient name of this interesting place, or that of the nation which inhabited it, is now to be found among the people in the neighborhood, who merely distinguished the isolated rock and buildings by one common name, 'Los Edificios.' I had inquired of the best instructed people about these ruins; but all my researches were unavailing, until I fortunately met with a note in the Abbé Clavigero's History of Mexico, which throws some light on the subject. 'The situation of Chicomoztoc, where the Mexicans sojourned nine years, is not known; but it appears to be that place, twenty miles distant from Zacatecas, toward the south, where there are still some remains of an immense edifice, which, according to the tradition of the Zacatecanos, the ancient inhabitants of that country, was the work of the Aztecs on their migration; and it certainly cannot be ascribed to any other people, the Zacatecanos themselves being so barbarous as neither to live in houses nor to know bow to build them.[13]

* * * * *


Following the course of the river Tecolutla from its mouth near Nautla, and directing himself across the Virgin mountains and plains, Mr. Nebel found, at the distance of a few leagues from Papantla, the ruins of a city, near an Indian rancho called Mapilca.

It is impossible he states, to define precisely the limits of this ancient work, because it is now entirely covered with thick vegetation, and a forest, the silence of which has, perhaps, never been disturbed by an axe. He nevertheless discovered some pyramids, many large sculptured stones, and some other indications of an extensive city and civilized people.

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Sculptured Stone at Mapilca

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Temple At Tusapan.

The stone, represented in the cut, is twenty-one feet long and of compact granite; its carving is oddly different from anything else we have seen among Mexican antiquities, and it is supposed, by Nebel, to have formed part of an edifice. He caused an excavation to be made by the Indians in front of this fragment, and, at a short distance below the surface, struck upon a road formed of irregular stones, not unlike the ancient pavements in the neighborhood of Rome. The picturesque traveller (whose book, I regret, is too large and expensive for republication in our country,) exceedingly regrets that he was unable to prosecute his inquiries and examinations in this neighborhood. He was alone, and unaided in the forests, except by a few idle and ignorant Indians; yet he has presented his readers with a drawing of this curious fragment, as the sign of a civilization that once reigned in a country which was hitherto imagined to have been inhabited alone by wild beasts and reptiles.

* * * * *


We have now advanced, in the course of this examination, into the tierra calliente near the eastern coast of Mexico. Fifteen leagues west from Papantla, lie the remains of Tusapan, supposed to have been a city of the Totonacos. They are situated in the lap of a small plain at the foot of the Cordillera, and are relics of a town of but limited extent. Of all these, however, nothing remains in great distinctness but the pyramidal monument, or Teocalli, of which the opposite drawing is given by Nebel.

This edifice has a base line of thirty feet on every side, and is built of irregular stones. A single stairway leads to the upper part of the first story, on which is erected a quadrangular house or tower,—while, in front of the door, still stands the pedestal of the idol, though all traces of the figure itself are gone. The interior of this apartment is twelve feet square, and the roof terminates in a point like the exterior. The walls have evidently been painted, but the outlines of the figures are no longer distinguishable.

The door and the two friezes are formed of sculptured stones; but it is evident from the fragments of carving, and a variety of figures of men and animals that lie in heaps about the rest of the city, that this temple was, in point of adornment, by no means the most splendid edifice of Tusapan.

Nebel has also presented us with a drawing of the following singular monument, which he found among the ruins of this ancient city.

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Fountain at Tusapan.

It is a statue, nineteen feet high, cut from the solid rock. The dress clearly indicates the figure to be that of a squatting woman, with her head inclining on one side. Behind the head, there are remains of a pipe conveying water to the body, through which it passed somewhat in the style of the celebrated fountain of Antwerp. From this figure, the stream was carried by a small canal to the neighboring city, and the whole is supposed, by Monsieur Nebel, to have been dedicated as the idol of some god or goddess of the waters.

There is a tradition extant that the people who once inhabited Tusapan, finding their soil comparatively steril, and their springs failing, emigrated to Papantla,—to which we come next in the course of our antiquarian ramble.


The village of that name lies sixteen leagues from the sea, and fifty-two north from Vera Cruz, at the base of the eastern mountains, in the midst of fertile savannahs, constantly watered by streams from the neighbourhood

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Pyramid of Papantla.

neighboring hills. Although it is the centre of a country remarkable for fertility,[14] the Indian village has scarcely a white inhabitant, with the exception of the Curate and some few dealers, who come from the coast to traffic their wares for the products of the soil. The people of the upper country dislike to venture into the heat and disease of the tierra calliente; and, in turn, its inhabitants dislike an exposure to the chills of the tierras frias or templadas. Thus the region of Papantla, two leagues from the village, has hitherto remained an unexplored nook, even at the short distance of fifty miles from the coast; and, although it was alluded to by Baron Humboldt, it had never been correctly drawn, or even accurately described before the visit of M. Nebel. The neighboring Indians, even, had scarcely seen it, and considerable local knowledge was required to trace a path to the relic through the wild and tangled forest.

There is no doubt, from the masses of ruins spread over the plain, that this city was more than a mile and a half in circuit. Although there seems good reason to believe that it was abandoned by its builders after the conquest, there has still been time enough, both for the growth of the forest in so warm and prolific a climate, and for the gradual destruction of the buildings by the seasons and other causes. Indeed, huge trees, trailing plants and parasite vines have struck their roots among the crannies and joints of the remaining pyramid, and, in a few years more, will consign even that remnant to the common fate of the rest of the city.

The opposite plate presents a view of the pyramid, (called by the natives, "El Tajin,") as seen by Nebel, after he had cleared it of trees and foliage. It consists of seven stories, each following the same angle of inclination, and each terminated, as at Xochicalco, by a frieze and cornice. The whole of these bodies are constructed of sand-stone, neatly squared and joined,—and covered, to the depth of three inches, with a strong cement, which appears, from the remains of color in many places, to have been entirely painted. The pyramid measures precisely one hundred and twenty feet on every side,[15] and is ascended, in front, by a stairway of fifty-seven steps, divided in three places, by small box-like recesses or niches two feet in depth, similar to those which are seen perforating the frieze of each of the bodies. This stairway terminates at the top of the sixth story, the seventh appearing (although in ruins,) to have been unlike the rest, and hollow. Here, most probably, was the shrine of the divinity and the place of sacrifice.[16]

* * * * *


Passing by the Island of Sacrificios (of which I have already given some account, when treating of the Museum of Mexico,) I will now describe the ruins that were discovered as recently as 1835, adjacent to Misantla, near the city of Jalapa and not very far from the direct road to the Capital.

The work from which I extract my information is the Mosaico Mexicano, to which it was contributed, I believe, by Don Isidrio Gondra.

On a lofty ridge of mountains in the Canton of Misantla, there is a hill called Estillero, (distant some thirty miles from Jalapa,) near which lies a mountain covered with a narrow strip of table-land, perfectly isolated from the surrounding country by steep rocks and inaccessible barrancas. Beyond these dells and precipices there is a lofty wall of hills, from the summit of one of which the sea is distinctly visible in the direction of Nautla. The only parts of the country by which this plain is accessible, are the slopes of Estillero;—on all other sides the solitary mountain seems to have been separated from the neighboring land by some violent earthquake that sunk the earth to an unfathomed depth.

On this secluded and isolated eminence, are situated the remains of an ancient city. As you approach the plain by the slopes of Estillero, a broken wall of large stones, united by a weak cement, is first observable. This appears to have served for protection to a circular plaza, in the centre of which is a pyramid eighty feet high, forty-nine feet front, and forty-two in depth.

The account does not state positively whether this edifice is constructed of stone, but it is reasonable to suppose that it is so from the wall found around the plaza, and the remains which will be subsequently mentioned. It is divided into three stories, or rather, there are three still remaining. On the broadest front, a stairway leads to the second body, which, in turn, is ascended at the side, while the top of the third is reached by steps cut in the comer edge of the pyramid. In front of the teocalli, on the second story, are two pilastral columns, which may have formed part of a stair-case; but this portion of the pyramid, and especially the last body, is so overgrown with trees that its outline is considerably injured. On the very top, (driving its roots into the spot that was doubtless formerly the holy place of the Temple,) there is a gigantic tree, which, from its immense size in this comparatively high and temperate region; denotes a long period since the abandonment of the altar where it grows.

At the periphery of the circular plaza around this pyramid, commence the remains of a town, extending northerly in a straight line for near a league. Immense square blocks of stone buildings, separated by streets at the distance of about three hundred yards from each other, mark the
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Pyramid of Misantla

sites of the ancient habitations, fronting upon four parallel highways. In some of the houses the walls are still three or four feet high, but of most of them there is nothing but an outline tracery of the mere foundations. On the south, there are the remains of a long and narrow wall, which defended the city in that quarter.

North of the town there is a tongue of land, occupied in the centre by a mound, or cemetery. On the left slope of the hill by which the ruins are reached, there are, also, twelve circular sepulchres, two yards and a half in diameter, and as many high; the walls are all of neatly cut stone, but the cement with which they were once joined has almost entirely disappeared. In these sepulchres several bodies were found, parts of which were in tolerable preservation.

Two stones—a foot and a half long, by half a foot wide—were discovered, bearing hieroglyphics, which are described, in general terms, as "resembling the usual hieroglyphics of the Indians." Another figure was found representing a man standing; and another, cut out of a firm but porous stone, which was intended to portray a person sitting cross-legged, with the arms also crossed, resting on his knees. This, however, was executed in a very inferior style. Near it, were discovered many domestic utensils, which were carried to Vera Cruz, whence they have been dispersed, perhaps, to the four quarters of the globe.

It is thus, in the neglect of all antiquities in Mexico, in the midst of her political distractions and bloody revolutions, that every vestige of her former history will gradually pass to foreign countries, instead of enriching the Cabinets of her University, and stimulating the inquisitiveness of her scientific students.


I will close this notice of Mexican Architectural Remains, with an account of the ruins of Mitla, as described by Mr. Glennie, and Baron Humboldt, from whose great work the sketch of one of the mural fragments opposite the next page, has been taken.

In the Department of Oaxaca, ten leagues distant from the city of that name, on the road to Tehuantepec, in the midst of a granitic country, surrounded by sombre and gloomy scenery, lie the remains of what have been called, by the general consent of antiquarians, the Sepulchral Palaces of Mitla. According to tradition, they were built by the Zapotecs, and intended as the places of sepulture for their Princes. At the death of members of the royal family, their bodies were entombed in the vaults beneath; and the sovereign and his relatives retired to mourn over the loss of the departed scion, in the chambers above these solemn abodes, screened by dark and silent groves from the public eye. Another tradition devotes the edifices to a sect of priests, whose duty it was to live in perfect seclusion, and offer expiatory sacrifices for the royal dead who reposed in the vaults beneath.[17]

The village of Mitla was formerly called Miguitlan, signifying, in the Mexican tongue, "a place of sadness;" and, by the Zapotecs, Léoba, or "The tomb."

These palace-tombs formed three edifices, symmetrically placed on a romantic site. The principal building (which is still in the best preservation,) has a length of near one hundred and fifty feet. A stairway leads to a subterranean apartment of about one hundred feet by thirty in width, the walls of which are covered with ornaments, à la grèque, similar to those that adorn the exterior walls represented in the drawing. These ornaments are inlaid in a mosaic of porphyritic stones, and resemble the figures found on Etruscan vases, and on the frieze of the temple of the god Redicolus, near the Egerian grotto at Rome.

The engraved fragment represents a corner of one of the edifices, and you cannot fail to remark a similarity to some of the designs presented to the public by Mr. Catherwood, in his researches farther south.

The ruins of Mitla are distinguished, I believe, from all the remains of ancient architecture in Mexico, by six columns of porphyry, placed in the midst of a large saloon, and supporting the ceiling. They have neither bases nor capitals, and are cut, in a gradually tapering shape, from a solid stone rather more than fifteen feet in length. The dimensions of the stones that cover the entrances of the principal halls, are stated by Mr. Glennie to be as follows:

Length. Breadth. Thickness.
1 19 feet 6 inches. 4 feet 10 inches. 3 feet 4 inches.
2 18 " 8 " 4 " 10 " 3 " 6 "
3 19 " 4 " 4 " 10⅛ " 3 " 9 "

Mr. De Laguna has discovered, among the ruins, some curious paintings of war trophies and sacrifices; and Humboldt remarks, that the distribution of the apartments in the interior of this building presents some striking similarities to the monuments of Upper Egypt, as described by Mr. Denon, and the savans of the Institute of Cairo. "In comparing the grandeur of these tombs with the meanness of the habitations of the former race," says the Baron, "we may exclaim, with Diodorus Siculus, that there are people who erect their most sumptuous monuments for their dead alone, regarding existence as too short and transitory to be worth the trouble of erections for the living!"[18]

It was the same in Egypt. The hereafter, and not the present, engaged the hearts of its ancient race. In Mexico, the temple to worship in, and the tomb for final repose, seem to have been the chief care of the

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scale of varas.—ruins at mitla.

people. It was a pious and philosophic devotion of time worthy as well of Christian nations as of those believing in the necessary care of their worthless bodies, until the period of their ultimate reunion with the spirit.

I have thus hastily gathered together some sketches of the remains that cover our Continent from the remote north of our own possessions to near the region of Mr. Stephens's discoveries.

If they fail to identify the Southern nations with the Northern tribes, or to prove that the rude mound of the savage was but the precursor of the stone pyramid of the civilized southern, they will at least serve to show that at the north, as well as in more genial climates, there have been races who worshipped the Great Spirit, buried their dead, defended themselves from their foes, and possessed, at least, a partial taste for the refinements of life. At all events, it is not probable that the remains so plentifully sprinkled over the Mexican territory, from the Rio Gila to the limits of Oaxaca, were untenanted and unused at the period of the conquest, while it is known that the cities of Mexico and of Cholula contained within their limits magnificent edifices, devoted to the domestic comfort and public worship of a refined and numerous population.

* * * * *


14th October. Returned to Mexico. The last person who bade us fare-well in Tezcoco, was the worthy Tio Ignacio—of whose hunting-bull, deer-call, rough honesty, and wild adventures, I shall long retain a pleasing recollection.

"I am poor, Caballero," said he, with a grasp of his hard hand, "I am poor, and have led a dog's life of it from the age of five years—fighting, bull-catching, beef-selling, hunting and living with the Indians up in the mountains for weeks, with no covering but my blanket and a pine tree;—but I have managed, nevertheless, to raise a large family of boys, all of whom can ride better than I; can catch a bull at full gallop; know how to read and write; tell the truth; obey their father without questioning, and hit the mark at eighty varas! I owe no man a claco, I love my horse, my gun, my pulqué,—and, better than all, I love my old wife, who, with all my wildness, passion, and temper, hat never quarrelled with me in a casamiento of twenty years! Who says as much in Mexico? Vaya!

"Come to Tezcoco once more. Caballero, and we will go up to Tlaloc together with my people, the Indians, and I'll make that old demonio give up some of the bones of his ancestors—picaro! Adios!"

  1. According to Humboldt, (Pol. Essay, vol. ii p. 188.) There are two sources of mineral waters in the Valley of Mexico; one at Guadalupe, the other at the Peñon. Those waters contain carbonic acid, sulphate of lime and of soda, and muriate of soda. The temperature of the waters at the Peñon is quite high. At this place the Indians, also make salt. "Of the five lakes of the Valley of Mexico, the lake of Texcoco is most impregnated with muriate and carbonate of soda. The nitrate of barytes proves that this water contains no sulphate in solution. The purest and most timpid water is that of the lake of Xochimilco, the specific weight of which I found to be 1.3000, when that of water distilled at the temperature of 54 Fahr.° was 1.080, and water from the lake of Tescoco was 1.0005. The water of this last mentioned lake is consequently heavier than that of the Baltic sea, and not so heavy as that of the ocean, which under different latitudes, has been found between 1.0389 and 1.0285. The quantity of sulphereted hydrogen which is detached from the surface of the Mexican lakes, and which the acetate of lead indicates in great abundance in the lakes of Texcoco and Chalco, undoubtedly contributes in certain seasons to the healthiness of the air in the valley. However, the fact is curious, that intermittent fevers are very rare on the banks of these lakes, the surface of which is partly hidden by rushes and aquatic herbs.—Vide Humboldt—et Mos. Traveller, p.363
  2. When Cortéz entered the city of Tezcoco, on the last day of the year 1530, the nobles came out to meet him. and conducted him to one of the Palaces of the late King Nezahualtcojotl, which was large enough according to the Conqueror, "to contain not only the six hundred Spaniards who were lodged in it, but also many more."— Clavigero, Book x., vol. 2, p. 133.
  3. Gkunis
  4. Vol.i, p.286 and 288
  5. Vide McCulloh, 229, 230, 231.
  6. "Tio," or uncle, is a familar mode of addressing intimates in the country.
  7. After my return to Mexico, tio Ignacio persisted in obtaining some of these "ancestral bones" from the barrancas and, although, the bagfull he sent was nearly ground to powder before it reached me, there were still some considerable fragments which I desired to submit to our naturalists for their opinion. They have not yet, however, arrived in the United States from Vera Cruz. Latrobe, at page 144, of his Rambles in Mexico, relates that some workmen in excavating for a canal at Chapingo, (a hacienda near Tezcoco), reached at the distance of four feet below the surface, "an ancient causeway, of the existence of which there had not been the remotest suspicion. The cedar poles by which the sides were supported were still sound at heart: and three feet below the edge of this ancient work they struck upon the entire skeleton of a Mastodon imbedded in the blue clay. The diameter of the trunk was eighteen inches. Wherever extensive excavations have been made on the table-land and in the valley, of late years, remains of this animal have almost always been met with. In the foundation of the Church of Guadalupe — on the estate of St. Nicholas, four leagues to the south, and in Guadalajara, portions of the skeleton have been discovered." Had the ancients some means of taming these beasts into laborers for their gigantic architecture?
  8. Most interesting accounts, accompanied by plates, of the ancient remains in Ouiskonala Territory, and the great war path from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan, are to be found in the January number of Silliman's Journal for 1853, and also in the 34th volume of that valuable work.
  9. This name has been given from that of an adjacent hacienda.
  10. The writings of Clavigero, Solis, Bernal Diaz, and others, describe this mode of disposing of those whose hearts had been torn out and offered to the idol.
  11. See the Voyage of Juan de Grijalva, in 1518: also Bernal Diaz, Cortéz, Clavigero, and others.
  12. It is not improbable, however, that this material was unknown to the nation who dwelt here, if, according to the Abbé Clavigero, this city was one of the earliest settlements of the Aztecs, before they established themselves in the Valley of Mexico, near which (at Real del Monte principally) the obsidian is found in great abundance, although I believe that no traces of it are seen in the more northern provinces.
  13. Clavigero, vol. i, book ii, p.153—Torquemada says, that the capital city of the Chechemecas was called Amaquemacan. He says this place was 600 miles distant from where the city of Guadalajara now stands. Clavigero, who quotes this passage and comments upon it in a note, remarks that "in more than one thousand two hundred miles of inhabited country beyond that city, there is not the least trace or memory of Amaquemacan" May not the city I have described be the capital in question?
  14. The productions here are vanilla, sarsaparilla, pepper, wax, cotton, coffee, tobacco, a variety of a valuable woods, and sugar, produced annually from canes, which it is necessary to plant only every seven or eight years.
  15. Nebel does not give the elevation, but says there are 57 steps to the top of the sixth story—each step measuring one foot in height.
  16. Vide Humboldt, vol.ii, 345—and Nebel.
  17. The reader will find a ground plan of these remains in Delafield's "Antiquities of America"–page 55, taken from Baron Humboldt's Atlas.
  18. Vide Humboldt, vol.ii, page 386, et seq. Paris edition, 1811.