Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/76

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66
A STUDY OF MEXICO.

pected from his stirring and eventful career; and, as the picture is neglected and apparently in a state of decay, a copy of it ought at once to be acquired by our national Government and placed in the Capitol at Washington; or, in neglect thereof, by some one of our historical societies. For, whatever may be the opinion entertained concerning the man and his acts, there can be no question that he was one of the most conspicuous characters in American history, and has left his mark indelibly upon what is now no small part of the territory of the United States. Of the long series of portraits of his successors, as they hang upon the walls of the museum, the majority depicted in gorgeous vice-regal robes, and with stars and orders of nobility, there is this to be said—that, with few exceptions, they represent the most mediocre, unintellectual, and uninteresting group of faces that could well be imagined. They convey the idea that nearly all of the originals were men past the prime of life, whose business had been that of courtiers, and who had won their appointments either by court favoritism or from the supposed possession of qualities which would enable them to extort from the country and its people a larger revenue for the Spanish treasury than their predecessors. Among the few exceptions noted are the portraits of Don Juan de Acuña (1722—1734), the only Span-