Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/303

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297
FROM MEXICO TO MORELIA.

schools. Foremost among the latter is the "Instituto Literario," one of the most widely known of all the institutions of learning in the republic, and it has the honor of having educated many of the most distinguished men of the country. Each municipality has the privilege of sending one student, who must stand a rigid competitive examination. The institution has five patios and covers an immense space of ground, and is provided with a fine library, museum of natural history, every appliance for the study of physiology, physics, history, and chemistry, besides music and drawing. The students have a gymnasium, warm and cold baths, comfortable dormitories, and for all these advantages the price of board and tuition in the school is only $16 per month. The number of students at the time of our visit was 220. Many of them gathered around us, and conducted us through the gardens and buildings. They entertained us delightfully with recitations and choice music, and extended many other courtesies. A bright-eyed little Indian boy of only eleven years stepped out gracefully before us in the garden and delivered a charming address of welcome to the "two señoritas," in which he stated that both the professors and students of the "Instituto Literario" were honored by our visit, and it was their wish that we should return at some future day. They all accompanied us to the portal of the college, where the usual custom of shaking hands, intermingled with all sorts of good wishes, was gone through, and the last that we heard was a long and continuous "adios," amid the flutter of handkerchiefs and waving of hands from the gallant young students of "El Instituto Literario."

In striking contrast to the Instituto Literario was a public day-school for the poorer children of the town. At seven o'clock in the morning, we saw dozens of small urchins filing into a building opposite our rooms. Not believing it possible that these were school hours, we went over to see for ourselves, and there sat the little folks, some on low chairs, some on benches, while others were down upon the floor, book in hand, and all studying together and aloud, reminding one of the chatter of magpies.