Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/106

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they sought repose and solace from the heats of their shadeless city. And though, at the present day, neglect and ruin are evident on every hand; and their pleasant palaces are all destroyed, their fish ponds and baths broken down, and scarcely discernible—though their aviaries, and thickets of sweet-smelling flowers and medicinal herbs, have disappeared, and their shady groves are despoiled of many a noble tree; yet there is still a majesty in these shades, all tangled and neglected, and overgrown as they are, which is exciting to the fancy, and dear to the imagination; and no one will enter these thickets, shaded by the graceful pepper tree, and linger at the foot of those giant cypresses, without recollecting the strange and sad fate of him who was here accustomed to pass his hours of retirement.

Of all the royal gardens in the immediate vicinity, which were maintained by Montezuma, this at Chapultepec is the only one which retains its original form and destination. It girdles the rock, which may be about a mile in circuit, and is truly a delicious locality for one who, like myself, is fond of shade and quiet. The rock above is now crowned by a large and palacious building of noble design, erected by the Viceroy Galvez; half country seat, half castle; and made to suit either the purposes of war or peace, as might happen. It is now rapidly falling to decay. The view from its platform is undoubtedly one of the most delicious and complete among the numberless beautiful points of view in the basin of Mexico, partly from the isolated position of the hill, and the near vicinity of the numberless domes and towers of the city, with the aqueducts and causeways, and the blue lake beyond—and partly from the extreme fertility and loveliness of the region stretching from hence along the base of the mountains towards the Pedrigal. In this direction, the town of Tacubaya, with its churches, villas, and the former archiepiscopal palace, is the most conspicuous object. The great church there is a large and splendid edifice; and the palace, even in the state of utter decay and neglect which has overtaken its courts, galleries, and lovely gardens, is well worth visiting. The