Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/36
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
free schools visited by the writer, the scholars, mainly girls, appeared bright and intelligent, the teachers (females) competent, and the textbooks modern. The language of instruction was, of course, Spanish, but a greater desire than ever before to learn English is reported, and it is now (contrary to former custom) generally taught in preference to French. Industrial schools, to which boys are appointed from different sections of the country, analogous to the system of appointments in the United States for West Point and Annapolis, have also been established by the Government. One of the most interesting of these, and for the promotion of which the Mexican Central Railroad corporation have co-operated, exists at Guadalupe, about five miles from the city of Zacatecas. Here, in a large and well-preserved convent structure, confiscated by the Government and appropriated for school purposes, some two or three hundred Mexican boys are gathered, and practically taught the arts of spinning and weaving, printing, carpentering, instrumental music, leather-work, and various other handicrafts; while, in close contiguity, and in striking contrast with the poverty of the surrounding country, the ecclesiastical authorities are expending a large amount of money the proceeds of a legacy of a rich Mexican mine-proprietor—in reconstructing and decorating in a most elaborate manner the church, which was formerly a part of the convent, and which has been left in their possession.
The Federal Government also maintains national schools at the capital, of agriculture, medicine, law, and engineering; a Conservatory of Music, an Academy of Fine Arts, a National Museum and a National Library; together with institutions for the blind, deaf and dumb, the insane, for the reformation of young criminals, and such other systematic charities as are common in enlightened communities. Most of these institutions are located in old and spacious ecclesiastical edifices which have been "nationalized"; and the means for their support seem to be always provided, although the Mexican treasury is rarely or never in a flourishing condition. At the same time it is almost certain that all these laudable efforts on the part of the Government to promote education and culture have thus far worked down and affected to a very slight extent the great mass of the people. But it is, nevertheless, a beginning.
After all, however, as the stability of any form of government and the maintenance of domestic tranquillity with such a population as exists in Mexico, is obviously contingent on the maintenance of a strong, well-organized, and disciplined army, the first care of the central Government is naturally to promote military rather than secular education; and, accordingly, the National Military School, located at Chapultepec, and modeled after the best military schools of Europe, is in the highest state of efficiency. The system of instruction and the text-books used are French; and the personnel of the school, both officers and cadets, will compare favorably with anything that can be