Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/32

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
22
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ters to the National Library, which in turn is largely made up of spoils gathered from the libraries of the religious "orders" and houses. The national Government, however, does not appear to have derived any great fiscal advantage from the confiscation of the Church property, or to have availed itself of the resources which thus came to it for effecting any marked reduction of the national debt. Good Catholics would not buy "God's property" and take titles from the state; and so large tracts of land, and blocks of city buildings, passed, at a very low figure, into the possession of those who were indifferent to the Church, and had command of ready money; and in this way individuals, rather than the state and the great body of the people, have been benefited.


Having thus briefly glanced at the physical condition and political and social experiences of Mexico, we are now prepared to discuss the economic condition of the country, its prospect for industrial development, and its possible commercial importance and future trade relations with the United States.

Population.—The element of first importance, and therefore the one entitled to first consideration in endeavoring to forecast the future of Mexico, is undoubtedly its population; the object alike for improvement, and the primary instrumentality by which any great improvement in the condition of the country can be effected. Whatever may be its aggregate—ten or twelve millions—it is generally agreed that about one third of the whole number are pure Indians, the descendants of the proprietors of the soil at the time of its conquest by the Spaniards; a people yet living in a great degree by themselves, though freely mingling in the streets and public places with the other races, and speaking, it is said, about one hundred and twenty different languages or dialects. Next, one half of the whole population are of mixed blood—the mestizos—of whose origin nothing, in general, can be positively affirmed, further than that their maternal ancestors were Indian women, and their fathers descendants of the Caucasian stock. They constitute the dominant race of the Mexico of to-day—the rancheros, farmers, muleteers, servants, and soldiers—the only native foundation on which it would seem that any improved structure of humanity can be reared. Where the infusion of white blood has been large, the mestizos are often represented by men of fine ability, who take naturally to the profession of arms and the law, and distinguish themselves. But, on the other hand, no small proportion of this race—the so-called "leperos"—are acknowledged by the Mexicans themselves to be among the lowest and vilest specimens of humanity in existence; a class exhibiting every vice, with hardly the possession of a single virtue. The remaining sixth of the population of Mexico are Europeans by birth or their immediate descendants, the Spanish element predominating. The national language also is Spanish—a language not well