Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/303

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traitor to his country in the worst sense of the term, and deserves the title less than many another of his contemporaries who have met a milder judgment. Although he turned the government into an Empire for the sake of his own personal ambition, he had in his short career as Emperor done it no harm; on the other hand, he resigned quietly for the sake of peace. Doubtless a little delay would have averted the tragedy, as those who wished him out of the way were well aware. His life might have promoted the future welfare of his country; his death certainly produced no good result. Too many hands were grasping at the prize he had coveted for his to be missed when it was forcibly beaten off.

He was personally brave and active, handsome, fond of display, and full of vanity, which caused him to delight in the splendor of state. He was at the height of his ambition when he was proclaimed Emperor, the horses taken from his carriage, and the crowd, drawing him along the streets, shouting vivas for the new Emperor. He forgot, at a time when it is easiest to forget, how cheap are such manifestations of enthusiasm from an easily excited and mobile population. He forgot that as he had conspired against others, others in their turn not only could, but would, seek to pull him down.

Whatever his faults or failings, it is nevertheless true that his act freed the country from the control of Spain. This is fully recognized in his birthplace, Morelia, where the house of his birth bears the inscription: