Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/336

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of their best generals were either driven from the country, or dead upon the field. They might have gone on, it is true, pronouncing and killing each other indefinitely, but for the sharp lesson that was taught them by the cruel exigencies of a foreign war.

That some lesson should come was perhaps inevitable, like a quick, sharp box on the ears, to bring such naughty children to their senses, and stop their foolish trifling with life and reputation. But it was hard that the blow should come from the hand of a nation which ought to have taken the place of an elder brother to these foolish and heedless children,—a hand which should have gently led them to peace and reconciliation instead of promoting discord.

The Mexicans, undoubtedly, helped to bring upon themselves the misfortunes that came swiftly upon them. Like all people whose own folly has put them on the wrong track, they were sure to do the wrong thing. They were heavily punished accordingly.

The United States had in a hundred years spread over the great western lands of North America with surprising rapidity, and now approached the regions which Cortés had laid claim to three centuries before. This claim was but vague, for the deserts and plains of the north were not accessible or inviting; still some posts were established, while the boundary line which should put a stop to the encroachments of either country was still unsettled. The territory west of the Sabine River and east of the Rio Grande came under discussion.

Moses Austin, born in Durham, Connecticut, a