Innocent Of Dress.
One of the most enjoyable excursions that I made in Mexico was to the ancient Pyramid of Cholula. It does not look pyramidal at present, but appears to be merely a natural hill two hundred feet in height. Yet, though to-day irregular in shape and covered with vegetation, it was originally the work of man, and formed a mighty pyramid, upon the top of which stood an imposing temple. Under the hollow covering of earth that has collected upon its surface, it is composed of layers of clay and sun-dried bricks, which formed a solid mass, the base of which occupied no less than forty-five acres, while the summit reached a height of two hundred feet. The amount of labor here involved is almost inconceivable. "Did it, then, rank with the great Pyramids of Egypt?" one naturally inquires. In one sense, yes; for the enormous area of its base was larger; but, on the other hand, its height was not one-half as great as that of Cheops, or of Cephren, nor can its layers of bricks (though numbered here by millions) produce at all the same impression as do the mighty monoliths that make up the Egyptian pyramids, reared by an almost superhuman power beside the Nile.
Pyramid Of Cholula.
Interior Of Church, Cholula.
Giving To Two At Once.
Reaching the summit of Cholula's ancient mound, we stood before the pretty church erected there. "The King is dead, long live the King! "One deity has been dethroned, another reigns here in his place. A Christian shrine now stands upon the Aztec pyramid, much as in Rome the statue of St. Peter surmounts the column of Trajan. Yet it would seem as if the deities thus expelled had left their curse upon the place, for only crumbling shrines and wretched hovels remain in the poor village of Cholula which, nevertheless, in the time of Cortez was the most sacred of all Indian towns, - the Mecca of the Aztecs.
Looking southward, a wonderful feature of the valley met our gaze in the silvery dome of Popocatepetl - a pyramid of God, beside which all the works of man dwindle to insignificance.
One never tires of this majestic peak.
For ages it has made the landscape glorious, whether glowing with volcanic fires, or standing in god-like dignity, wrapped in its mantle of eternal snow; and while empires, dynasties, and races have lived their little lives, like insects, at its base, it has remained, in Nature's realm, the real, incomparable, God-appointed sovereign of Mexico.
A Public Bath.
View From Cholula.
Whatever else of Mexico may be forgotten, I shall remember to my latest breath that wonderfully impressive vision from Cholula. Before me rose, against the darkening sky, a mighty cross, the sculptured proof that here Christianity had proved victorious; and as I lingered, my feet upon the Aztec pyramid, my hand upon the symbol of the conquerors' faith, my eyes turned toward that everlasting pinnacle of snow, I thought the lesson of Cholula to be this: that higher, grander, and far more enduring than all the different religions of humanity is the Eternal Power they imperfectly reveal; and that above the temples, pyramids, and crosses, which mark the blood-stained pathway of our race, rises a lofty mountain peak, whose glory falls alike upon the Aztec and the Spaniard, and in whose heaven-born radiance all races and all centuries may find their inspiration and their hope.