Peons At Station.
A Mexican Horseman.
The next morning, we found that we had left the desert and its heat behind and below us. All through the night our engine had been toiling upward, till we had reached the Mexican table-land.
Three-fourths of Mexico is a plateau, from six thousand to eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. Were it not lifted thus to a plane far higher than the summit of Mount Washington, the climate of Mexico would be that of Nubia; but, once transported to that height, the traveler finds a temperature delightful throughout the entire year. Unaware of this fact, I had supposed a trip to Mexico, in any season except winter, would be uncomfortable; but, on the contrary, in some respects the pleas-antest time to visit Aztec land is summer. May is usually the hottest season of the year, yet though I spent a portion of that month in the City of Mexico I wore a light overcoat every evening.
A Mexican Village.
In The Tropics.
The remaining fourth of Mexico, which is not table-land, is easily described. Whether the tourist journeys east or west from the centre of the country, he will soon find himself upon the edge of the plateau, almost as if he were standing on the brink of a precipice. From this the land descends abruptly, on one side toward the Gulf of Mexico, and on the other toward the Pacific and the Gulf of California. There are, however, certain intervening terraces, breaking the steep descent, which are called temperate regions, because the elevation of three thousand feet above the sea gives them a moderate and delightful climate. Below these are the Tierras Calientes, or Hot Lands, of the coast. What an amazing country then, is this, which has three zones: the tropical, the temperate, and the cold, ranged not from south to north, as elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, but upward, from the ocean level toward the sky! Moreover, on the grand plateau, some of the loftiest mountains of our planet tower still further heavenward, wearing eternally their coronets of snow. In twenty-four hours, therefore, if he will, the traveler in Mexico may pass through almost every grade of climate known upon the globe, from torrid heat to glacial cold.
In The Lowlands.
During the day, and frequently half the night, when we were side-tracked in one place, men, women, and children gathered about our car like sea-gulls round an ocean steamer, eagerly seizing all the refuse thrown out by our cook, and eating it with evident delight. There was, however, nothing bold or disagreeable in their sad persistency. It was the desperate appeal of hopeless poverty; and it was with pity, not disgust, that I beheld these natives.
Group By The Railroad.
The finest painting that I saw in Mexico portrays an Aztec woman, in the time of Cortez, kneeling beside the body of her murdered husband, and appealing to a priest to save her from the fury of the conquering Spaniards. The scene, alas! is true to history. The Spaniards are responsible for what the Mexican Indians are to-day. The Aztec race was in many ways remarkably accomplished and intelligent. Their Spanish conquerors, however, mad with lust for gold, slaughtered them by thousands, and made the survivors, virtually, slaves. The Indians of to-day are, there fore, timid and retiring in manner, with a sad expression, as though they realized that they are now a crushed and conquered race. Are they susceptible of improvement? Undoubtedly. President Juarez - the ablest man whom Mexico has ever produced, the conqueror of Maximilian, and the architect of the republic - was a full-blooded Indian, a noble specimen of the old Aztec race.
Police And Prisoners.