Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/49

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in those charming romances of Prescott, and who, in flying visits to its capital, have found so much to interest them in the way of the picturesque, and have brought to their eyes little capacity for seeing anything else, the tendency has been to confound the possible with the actual, and to encourage the idea that Mexico is a rich prize, unappreciated by its present possessors, and only waiting for the enterprising and audacious Yankees to possess and make much of, by simply coming down and appropriating.

Now, with these current beliefs and impressions the writer has little sympathy; but, on the contrary, his study and observations lead him to the conclusion that the Mexico of to-day, through conjoined natural and artificial (or human) influences, is one of the very poorest and most wretched of all countries; and, while undoubtedly capable of very great improvement over her present conditions, is not speedily or even ultimately likely, under any circumstances, to develop into a great (in the sense of highly civilized), rich, and powerful nation. And, in warrant and vindication of opinions so antagonistic to popular sentiment, it is proposed to ask attention to a brief review of the condition of Mexico: first from its geographical or natural standpoint; and, secondly from the standpoint of its historical, social, and political experience.