Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/34

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donkeys, the type of all that is humble and forlorn—and the picture of village life upon the "plateau" of Mexico is complete.

Would any one recall the "Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt," it is not necessary to visit the galleries of Europe and study the works of the old masters, for here on the dusty plains of Mexico all the scenes and incidents of it (apart, from the Jewish nationality) are daily repeated: Mary upon a donkey, her head gracefully hooded with a blue rebozo, and carrying a young child enveloped on her bosom in her mantle; while Joseph, the husband, bearded and sun-scorched, with naked arms and legs, and sandals on his feet, walks ploddingly by her side, with one hand on the bridle, and, if the other does not grasp a staff, it is because of the scarcity of wood out of which to make one, or because the dull beast stands in constant need of the stimulus of a thong of twisted leather.

Madame Calderon de la Barca, the Scotch wife of one of the first Spanish ministers sent to Mexico after the achievement of her independence, and who wrote a very popular book on her travels in Mexico, published in 1843, also notes and thus graphically describes this predominance of the "picturesque" in Mexico: "One circumstance," she says, "must be observed by all who travel in Mexican territory.