Statue Of Guatemozin.
Castle Of Chapultepec.
Big Trees At Chapl'Ltepec.
Reaching the limit of the avenue, we found ourselves before a rocky, isolated hill about two hundred feet in height. It was the world-renowned Chapultepec, - the favorite residence of Mexican rulers from Montezuma down to President Diaz. The present palace on its summit has no great antiquity, but the majestic cypresses around its base are many centuries old, and have cast their shadows impartially upon the Aztec and the Austrian, the conqueror and the conquered. In any portion of the world, apart from their historic associations, these trees would call forth admiration; for some of them are sixty feet in circumference, and Humboldt thought that one, at least, had an age of sixteen hundred years. It seems appropriate, therefore, that these monarchs of the past should wear, to-day, long pendent veils of soft gray moss, as if in mourning for the line of kings whose gardens once extended far beyond this hill. Perchance they also mourn their lost companions; for thousands of the trees between Chapultepec and Mexico were cut down by the Spaniards for material to rebuild the city which, in their final desperate conflict with the Aztecs, they had totally destroyed.
The Tree Of Montezuma.
The finest of these arboreal giants is called the Tree of Montezuma. I felt myself a pygmy as I stood beside it, not merely in comparison with its gigantic form, but as I measured my brief life with the long series of eventful centuries, of whose slow march its gnarled and twisted limbs gave proof. This cypress may have flourished here before a human voice disturbed the silence of this grove, or a human foot was pressed upon the soil of Mexico. At all events, there is no doubt that it has sheltered Aztec princes glittering in barbaric splendor, and has looked down for centuries on Spanish cavaliers, sandaled monks, and beautiful Castilian ladies rendered still lovelier by their lace mantillas. American soldiers, too, have marched beneath its sturdy limbs, to be succeeded in their turn by French Zouaves; while, mournfully conspicuous in the historic throng above which its gray moss has waved its welcome and farewell, appeared the Austrian sovereigns, Maximilian and Car-lotta, - ill-fated victims of Napoleon's dream of empire in the Western hemisphere.
Monument To Mexican Cadets.
A Mexican Valley View.
The view from the summit of Chapultepec is one of the most beautiful in the world. Stretching away from the base of the hill lies an almost circular valley, forty-five miles in length and thirty-five in breadth. It is as level as a tranquil sea, and is surrounded by a mountain wall, which Nature seems to have raised around it to protect her favorite. What wonder that this view has captivated every conqueror who has beheld it? For, in the centre of this lofty plain, and girdled by empurpled mountains, like a gem encircled by a ring of amethysts, glitters the City of the Montezumas, - Mexico.
Two of these mountains are the extinct volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, whose summits reach a height of nearly eighteen thousand feet. It is not strange that the Aztecs regarded them with superstitious awe and reverence, especially, as in their day, and even at the period of the Conquest, the action of Popocatepetl was at times extremely violent. Indeed, the name of Popocatepetl signifies "The Smoking Mountain," though, during the present century, the title has hardly been justified. Quite naturally, however, in the period of its activity the Aztecs deemed it the abode of tortured spirits, whose agonies within their fiery prison-house caused the terrific groaning of the mountain previous to an eruption, and, finally, the dreadful outburst of its flames and smoke. Until the coming of the Spaniards, no one had dared to ascend it; but the followers of Cortez, laughing to scorn the warnings of the Aztecs, made an attempt to climb it and succeeded. One of the party chosen by lot was lowered from the crater's edge four hundred feet into the horrible abyss, where he filled baskets with sulphur to be used in the manufacture of gunpowder. Strange, is it not? The violence of Popocatepetl ceased soon after the arrival of the Spaniards, but probably that deadly gift of sulphur proved far more fatal to the Aztecs than all the previous outbursts that had marked its history.