Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/188

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arrived at the lower portion of the city of Guanajuato, and found a delegation of officers waiting, with carriages, to escort Mr. Seward to the magnificent new house, completely furnished throughout, which had been prepared for the reception of the party. The keys were handed to him as soon as we had entered, and the committee then, considerately, bid us goodnight, and left us to dine and retire to rest.

Guanajuato impressed us with an idea of permanence and comparative prosperity rather unusual in this part of the country, in spite of its greatly reduced population, its languishing industries, and its suburban mining towns deserted and tumbling into ruins. It has many beautiful private residences, which cannot be excelled in comfort, extent, and elegance, in any part of the United States, and many still wealthy and aristocratic families of pure, or nearly pure, Castilian descent. The city, proper, runs along on the steep hill-sides on either side of a very narrow and tortuous ravine or canon over a mile in length; and the streets are narrow, crooked, and very steep. There are only two streets at the bottom of the cañon which admit of a carriage being driven over them at any speed, although all of them are most beautifully paved with small cobbles, generally in mosaic. The houses on the back streets, of course, rise above each other in successive terraces, like stairs, and each, in turn, affords a fine view of the back-yards and private portions of the residences next below.

At the upper end of the canon, Señor Rocha, one of the oldest residents of Guanajuato, a few years since, built three large dams of solid masonry, beautifully constructed and tastefully ornamented, to collect the waters of the little stream which trickles down there