Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/321

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CHAPTER XIV.


AMID THE RUINS OF EMPIRES.


DID you ever go behind the scenes in a theatre after the play was over, the audience dismissed, and the actors had disrobed and gone? I did that, in Mexico. The theatre was an empire, and the actors played each a part in one of the mightiest dramas of our age and time. I went to the Palacio Nacional of Mexico, and saw in the garish light of day, the "scenic effects," "stage accessories," and tawdry "costumes," which dazzled the eyes of the outside world who witnessed the representation of "The Empire of Mexico," only three years ago.

In the long hall—made by throwing three rooms into one, by order of Maximilian—in which the grand dinner was given to Mr. Seward but a few nights before, I saw the full length portraits of Hidalgo and Guerrero, and other gallant men who sealed their faith in liberty with their blood, and laid down their lives for the independence of Mexico. "With them, I saw the sword and cane of Iturbide, which he, under the influence of the Church, exchanged for a crown and a traitors death; and only a few yards off, the crimson canopy, which overhung the throne on which Maximilian sat. From the windows of this hall I looked out on the great Cathedral of Mexico, with its millions of dollars worth of tawdry ornaments, going slowly but surely into de-