La Cruz

La Cruz.

House Where Maximilian Was Confined

House Where Maximilian Was Confined.

About a mile beyond the city walls is a little eminence called the Hill of the Bells. Hither, at seven o'clock, on the morning of the 19th of June, 1867, were brought the three distinguished prisoners who had been condemned to die, - the Emperor Maximilian and his leading generals, Miramon and Mejia. Three stone posts mark the places where they stood. Stationed at a little distance from them were three thousand soldiers. On arriving, Maximilian stepped from his carriage and handed to a servant his hat and handkerchief, which he requested should be given to his mother and brother. Are we surprised that he left nothing for Carlotta, the wife whom he so dearly loved? It was because he had been told (no doubt to make his death the easier to bear) that she was dead. If he had known the truth! In reality, poor Carlotta, who had gone to Europe in the vain hope of gaining some assistance for her husband, had, through her terrible anxiety and disappointment, become hopelessly insane. At length the Emperor turned and looked upon the seven men chosen to be his executioners. "Poor fellows!" he murmured, "they have an unpleasant duty before them." Then, drawing from his pocket seven twenty-dollar gold pieces, stamped with his inscription, he gave them to the officer in command to be presented to the soldiers when he was no more. "My friends," he said (pointing to his breast) "be good enough to spare my face and aim directly here." Then, looking about him on the lovely landscape, he exclaimed: "What a beautiful day! It is on such a day as this that I have always wished to die."

The Squad Of Soldiers

The Squad Of Soldiers.

The men who here awaited death were of different nationalities and each, unconsciously, at this impressive moment showed the characteristics of his race. Mejia was an Indian, and stood with the composure of a fatalist, sadly but uncomplainingly accepting the decree of destiny. Miramon was of Franco-Spanish origin, and brilliant and audacious jested to the last. The Emperor, with the well-known temperament of the house of Austria, faced death with dignity like his ancestor, Marie Antoinette. His first position was in the centre of the group, but at the last moment it was changed. Miramon, who was at the Emperor's left, turning toward Maximilian had laughingly exclaimed, "You see that in this tragedy I am in the position of the impenitent thief." The Emperor answered gravely: "Permit me, then, to yield this place to you. A brave man like yourself deserves it." Thus speaking, he stepped quickly to the left, leaving Miramon in the centre; and it was where the stone post at the extreme right stands that Maximilian fell.

The Hill Of The Bells

The Hill Of The Bells.

Returning from this mournful spot we saw, in the governor's palace at Queretaro, the plain pine coffin in which Maximilian's body was brought back from execution. It is in places deeply stained with blood. Not long, however, did his lifeless form remain in Mexico. A few months later, by permission of the Mexican Government, the body was taken to Vera Cruz, and the same vessel which, three years before, had brought Maximilian and Car-lotta to the New World in perfect health and with the brightest anticipations, took back his mutilated form to Austria. Still more pathetic is the fact that the widowed Empress still lives, crazed with grief, a wreck upon the cruel ocean of existence.

Saying farewell to Queretaro with some reluctance, on the following evening we left the railroad at a station called El Castillo. Our purpose was to visit the Falls of Juanacatlan, sometimes enthusiastically styled the "Mexican Niagara." Upon the platform stood a gentleman who was presented to us under the euphonious name of Senor Bermejillo. His home is in the City of Mexico, but his estate at El Castillo is so vast, that, from the moment we arrived until we left, every point of land on which we stood, and almost everything we saw, was his property. In fact, he has constructed between the station and the falls a private tramway, by which in twenty minutes we reached a place where we beheld in their majestic beauty the Falls of Juanacatlan. The river Lerma (the largest stream in Mexico) here falls seventy feet in one grand mass of creamy foam, six hundred feet in breadth. Of course this cannot seri-ously be ranked with the stupendous volume of Niagara, yet at a glance one sees a resemblance to it. It is, in fact, Niagara in miniature, - a diamond edition of the Horseshoe Falls; or, as it were, Niagara itself seen through the large end of an opera-glass. We stood for a long time beside this falling river, delighted with its cool, refreshing spray and its unceasing rush and roar. No doubt its beauty appealed to us with added force because of the comparative rarity of waterfalls in Mexico. What I most missed and longed for during our Mexican tour was running water, especially as only a few months before I had been traveling in Norway, which is preeminently, of all the countries of the world, the land of cataracts and cascades.