Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/385

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this monarch like a god graciously permitting the approach of human beings. The crowd surges upward. The king vouchsafes a gracious glance, but from a lofty elevation. All powerful, imperial, he makes one step towards them with a smile of infinite condescension.

"Could Charles V., could Maria Theresa appear thus at the head of this ascending stair, who would not bow the head before that majestic power God-given! I too, poor fluttering insect of a day, have felt such pride throb in my veins, when I have been standing in the palace of the Doges of Venice, as to think how agreeable it would be, not too often, but in rare solemn moments, to stand thus at the height of such an ascent, and glancing downward over all the world, to feel myself the First, like the sun in the firmament."

All this had been arranged, as is now known by the dates of the preliminary correspondence, before the French commissioners were sent to Vera Cruz. The conciliating attitude of Juarez towards them took away the pretext under which they had entered the country, but they had no orders to retire. On the contrary, reinforcements soon arrived, and the Mexican President found himself obliged to put an army in their way.

The expedition, whose object, no longer concealed, was "the triumph of the Latin race on American soil," advanced towards the capital. Mexico was divided by its two great parties for and against the invasion. The ultra-clerigos, secretly aware of the action of their party abroad, encouraged it; but