Selling Pulque At The Railway Station

Selling Pulque At The Railway Station".

On awakening, next morning, I found that we were sidetracked near an aqueduct of grand proportions. I rubbed my eyes. "Where are we?" I exclaimed, "in Rome?"

" No," was the answer, " but near one of the most interesting cities of the Mexican republic, - Oueretaro, which has a population of fifty thousand, and is situated as high above the sea as the summit of Mount Washington." "And this aqueduct?" I demanded.

"It is the work of the Spaniards," was the answer. "Built here one hundred and fifty years ago, it still brings to the town delicious water from a spring five miles away. It makes its entry over seventy-four of these arches, the highest being ninety-four feet above the ground. Expensive?" he continued, "I should say so. Its cost was about one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars; but of that sum eighty-three thousand were contributed by one public-spirited citizen." Leaving our car in the shadow of the aqueduct, we drove to the neighboring city of Queretaro. Its Plaza charmed us with its wealth of palms, banana trees, and semi-tropical vegetation. It was here that Maximilian, during the siege which terminated in his death, was wont to take his evening walk. Accordingly the place recalls one of the most pathetic episodes of modern history. The coming of Maximilian to Mexico was not like that of Cortez an attempt at conquest. He came at the solicitation of a Mexican political party which he believed to be decidedly in the majority.

The Aqueduct

The Aqueduct.

Mexico 294

One day, in 1863, a dozen men-of-war from England, France, and Spain entered the harbor of Vera Cruz to obtain satisfaction for their governments. Satisfaction for what? Chiefly for financial loans which these European nations had made to Mexico, and which the Mexican authorities, declaring themselves bankrupt, had refused to pay. No wonder that poor Mexico was bankrupt. In forty years she had passed through thirty-six changes of government, and had had seventy-three presidents, - an average of nearly two a year. Distinguished Mexican representatives were, therefore, pleading with different European powers to come to her assistance.

The Harbor Of Vera Cruz

The Harbor Of Vera Cruz.

The Plaza Queretaro.

The Fountain, Queretaro

The Fountain, Queretaro.

One of the sovereigns to whom an appeal was made was Napoleon III. There is no doubt that he and others of the crowned heads of Europe received the proposition eagerly. Our great republic was then apparently in its death agony. The time was ripe, they thought, to found an empire on the North American continent. Spain wished to give to Mexico a Bourbon Prince. To this Napoleon III. would not consent, but (willing to renounce French claims) agreed to accept an Archduke from the house of Austria, - Maximilian. He was a man of noble character and lofty principles. Within his veins flowed royal blood, distinctly traceable through six hundred years. He was accomplished, spoke six languages, and had a gentle disposition, which attracted all with whom he came in contact. This Prince, in April, 1864, having renounced his rights to the throne of Austria, sailed with his wife, Carlotta, for the land where they aspired to found a new and glorious dynasty. They were both young; he was but thirty-two, and she only twenty-four years old. The prospect was alluring. Napoleon III. had pledged his army and his treasury to keep them on the throne; and they looked forward to the time when Mexico, reclaimed from anarchy, would, under their beneficent sway, assume her place among the nations of the earth, - a close ally and protege of the Old World.

Maximilian's throne

Maximilian's throne.

The Bridge

The Bridge.

Remembering these facts, we left the Plaza of Queretaro and approached a picturesque stone bridge upon the outskirts of the town. "This-," said the Mexican colonel who was our guide, "was the last point yielded by the imperial army. When this was taken by our troops, no hope remained for Maximilian." Napoleon III. (alarmed at the decisive action of the United States), had heeded Secretary Seward's warning and withdrawn his troops, and, thus deserted, the Conservative party, which had enthusiastically welcomed Maximilian, was now unable to withstand the Liberals under President Juarez. It was unfortunate that Maximilian remained in Mexico. He should have abdicated, and returned to Europe with Napoleon's troops; but certain motives, which we must admire, still detained him. Aside from an unwillingness to give up and confess an ignominious failure, he wished, if possible, to save from vengeance the men whose cause he had espoused and who were clinging to his fortunes. Their doom, however, like his own was rapidly approaching. The old Convent of Queretaro, known as La Cruz, was the last retreat and stronghold of the Emperor. It was two o'clock in the morning when Maximilian's bosom friend and trusted officer, General Lopez, having resolved to play the part of Judas, proceeded silently through the dark streets to a small opening in the city wall, where he conferred with the republican commander. A plan of action was agreed upon, and so adroitly was it carried out that, two hours later, Queretaro and Maximilian were captured by the Liberals.