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L'I do not doubt but there is enough of the precious metals in the different churches of Mexico to relieve sensibly the pressure upon the currency of the world, which has resulted from the diminished production of the mines, and the increased quantity which has been appropriated to purposes of luxury, and to pay the cost of much more tasteful decorations in architecture and statuary, made of mahogany and marble.
. But the immense wealth which is thus collected in the churches, is not by any means all, or even the larger portion, of the wealth of the Mexican church and clergy, They own very many of the finest houses in Mexico and other cities (the rents of which must be enormous), besides valuable real estates all over the Re. public Almost every person leaves a bequest in his will for masses for his soul, which constitute an incumbrance upon the estate, and thus nearly all the estates of the small proprietors are mortgaged to the church. The property held by the church in mortmain is esti. mated at fifty millions.'-—pp. 40, 41.
As may be supposed, the superstition of the people is extreme. Our author narrates many instances of this, from which, if our space permitted, we should be disposed to extract his account of Our Lady of Remedies,' and of The Virgin of Guadaloupe. What will our readers think of the following, as an illustration of the religious state of the people.
* Amongst the dramatic representations in Mexico, mysteries or religious dramas are very common on occasions of certain festivalssome of them of a character not a little shocking to the eyes and ears of a protestant. Not an unusual piece on Christmas-Eve is the representation of the Nativity. Joseph appears on a mule with Mary behind liim, seeking for lodgings all over the city of Bethlehem, and at last they enter the stable--where the accouchement takes place not in the sight but in the hearing of the audience, with all those circumstances equally revolting to decency and a just respect for holy things. I have seen a similar representation of the story of the virgin of Guadaloupe, and have now a copy of the drama; it was at the theatre de los gallos,' • Theatre of the chicken cocks,' a very large edifice formerly kised as a cock-pit, but now converted into a theatre.'-p.110.
The ignorant superstition which can give interest to such representations, is not a creature of the imagination simply. It is a real and earnest thing, which finds for itself appropriate expressions, and readily submits to bodily torture, as well as to pecuniary impoverishment for the accomplishment of its object. There must be an intense yearning in the human soul after the unseen, a marvellous affinity between it and a spiritual economy, to account for such scenes as the following. Ignorance may distort, and superstition debase the notions which are entertained, but the religious elemevt must be deeply seated in the human soul to account for the universal fact, of which our author records an instance. He tells us-
I have seen, in the church of San Augustin, one or two hundred people assembled at night; the chapel was darkened, and they took off their clothes and lacerated themselves severely with pieces of hard twisted cord, made like a cat-o'-nine-tails. It was not such a flogging as Sancho gave himself to disenchant Dulcinea, but a real bona fide castigation. Of this I have no doubt, for I picked up one of the disciplinas, the instrument used, and it was wet and soaked with blood. I stood at the door as the penitents came out, and recognized amongst them some of the most respectable people in Mexico No one in bis senses can doubt the sincerity of those who will voluntarily inflict such torture upon themselves.'-p. 114.
Of the morals of the clergy, Mr. Thompson gives no very favorable account, which is the more entitled to credit from the scrupulous justice which he does to some honourable exceptions.
"I do not think,' he says, 'that the clergy of Mexico, with very few exceptions, are men of as much learning as the Catholic clergy generally are in other countries. The lower orders of the priests and friars are generally entirely uneducated, and, I regret to add, as generally licentious. There is no night in the year that the most revolting spectacles of vice and immorality, on the part of the priests and friars, are not to be seen in the streets of Mexico. I have never seen any class of men who so generally have such a ‘roué' appearance as the priests and friars whom one constantly meets in the streets. Of the higher orders and more respectable members of the priesthood, I cannot speak with the same confidence; if they are vicious, they are not publicly and indecently so. Very many of them bave several vephews and pieces in their houses, or, at least, those who call them uncle. The reason given for the injunction of celibacy, that those who are dedicated to the priesthood should not be encumbered with the care of a family, is, I think, in Mexico, much more theoretical than practical.'-p. 115.
Amongst the numerous scenes described, one of the most singular is the great gaming feast of St. Augustin. This took place shortly after Mr. Thompson's arrival in Mexico, and it may well perplex inore profound thinkers than himself. It is ushered in by a cruel sport formerly popular in England, the conjunction of which with religious rites is one of the anomalies that philosophy vainly strives to explain. This feast is attended by all classes, and is strictly national.
'I am not (says our author) sufficiently learned upon the subject of Catholic saints to know why St. Augustin is the patron of gam. blers, and his anniversary is celebrated by all sorts of games. The village of San Augustin is about twelve miles from Mexico, and there this festival is celebrated. Every human creature in Mexico, high and low, old and young, who can get there, is certain to go. Rooms are engaged, and preparations made for weeks beforehand. Doubloons, which are generally worth only fifteen dollars and a quarter, as the festival approaches, rise in value to sixteen and seventeen dollars. It is not genteel to bet anything but gold. The scene opens with cock-fighting, about twelve o'clock It is attended by everybody. When I entered the cock.pit, Santa Anna and General Bravo, with a large number of the most distinguished men in Mexico, and quite a large number of ladies of the highest circles, were already there. The master of ceremonies on the occasion walked into the pit, and exclaimed two or three times, ' Ave Maria purissima los gallos vienen '- Hail, most pure Mary, the chicken-cocks are coming. Whereupon a cock is brought in covered, and a challenge is proclaimed, à l'outrance, to all comers, which is very soon accepted. The fowls are then uncovered, and allowed to walk about the pit, that the spectators may see them, and select the one on which they choose to risk their money.'-pp. 132, 133.
In the evening there is a dance, and a ball in the cock-pit at night, where'the first people of the city, of both sexes, are seen dancing with the most dissolute and depraved, not only in the same dance, but as partners.' It must not be inferred from this fact, that the habits of the people are more depraved than in other countries similarly circumstanced. This is not the case. "They indulge less in excesses of any kind than almost any other people, and so far as the use of spirituous liquors is concerned are remarkably temperate. 'I am sure,' says our author, ‘that during my residence in Mexico I did not see a dozen men drunk, and I have seen assemblies of fifty and a hundred thousand people without one case of drunkenness. As to intemperance amongst respectable people, it is almost unknown. The physical characteristics of the people are, diminutive stature and feeble strength. In the latter respect Mr. Thompson represents the men as not exceeding the women of the States; and refers in proof of his statement, to the successful inroads into the country frequently made, to the extent of several hundred miles, by the Comanches, the most cowardly of the western tribes of Indians. The army of Mexico is utterly unequal to a conflict with European troops, as may be readily concluded from the material of which it is composed, and the wretched state of its discipline. Referring to this subject, Mr. Thompson says:
• The soldiers of the Mexican army are generally collected by sending out recruiting detachments into the mountains, where they hunt the Indians in their dens and caverns, and bring them in chains to Mexico; there is scarcely a day that droves of these miserable
and more than balf naked wretches are not seen thus chained together and marching through the streets to the barracks, where they are scoured and then dressed in a uniform made of linen cloth or of serge, and are occasionally drilled—which drilling consists mainly in teaching them to march in column through the streets. Their military bands are good, and the men learn to march indifferently well-but only indifferently well-they put their feet down as if they were feeling for the place, and do not step with that jaunty, erect and graceful air which is so beautiful in well-drilled troops. As to the wheelings of well-trained troops, like the opening and shutting of a gate, or the prompt and exact execution of other evolutions, they know nothing about them. There is not one in ten of these soldiers who has ever seen a gun, nor one in a hundred who has ever fired one before he was brought into the barracks It is in this way that the ranks of the army are generally filled up-in particular emergencies the prisons are thrown open, which always contain more prisoners than the army numbers, and these felons become soldiers, and some of them officers. Their arms, tvo, are generally wortbless English muskets which have been condemned and thrown aside, and are purchased for almost nothing, and sold to the Mexican government. Their powder, too, is equally bad; in the last battle between Santa Anna and Bustamente, which lasted the whole day, not one cannon ball in a thousand reached the enemy- they generally fell about half-way between the opposing armies.'--pp. 172, 173.
The pay of the troops is as irregular as their discipline is defective. They are computed at forty thousand, but scarcely reach one half that number, and are the ready instruments of any adventurer who promises them pillage or pay. On the whole they constitute 'the greatest nuisance, and the most insuperable barrier, to the prosperity and progress of Mexico.'
No work on Mexico can have pretensions to completeness, which does not enter somewhat largely into the history and character of Santa Anna. The distinguished part he has acted in the revolutions of his country, his superiority of intellect and comparative largeness of view, the general clemency of his administration, his varied fortunes, and his faithful adherence to the cause he early espoused, entitle him to most respectful attention, and to the candid judgment of the friends of liberty in both hemispheres. His position has been full of difficulty; and if, in some instances, he has not realised the hopes of European philanthropists, we must not refuse him the benefit of such extenuating pleas as his circumstances suggest. He contributed beyond any other man to the last and successful struggle of Mexico for independence and a republican form of government, and though his object has not yet been attained, he has only shared the common lut of patriotic reformers. The personal appearance and character of the general are thus described, and the sketch will not fail to interest our readers.
General Santa Anna, is now fifty-four years of age. He is about five feet ten inches high, with a finely proportioned person. His complexion is of an olive cast, but not indicating any mixture of blood, although I believe he is not of pure Castilian lineage. I do not know that I have ever seen a more striking and finely formed head and face ; there is scarcely a feature or a point in either that Spurzheim or Lavater would desire to change. I remember to have heard a distinguished American statesman remark, when Santa Anna was in Washington, that he had rarely seen a face indicative in a higher degree of talent, firmness, and benevolence; and when I say as I do, that I think that his face is not an inaccurate index to the volume of his character, I beg the reader not to start and lay down the book, before he has read a few incidents which I propose to narrate, and for most of which I vouch, as they have passed under my own observation. I am well aware that I should better satisfy the great mass of readers, both in this country and in Mexico, by speaking in a different vein of this now fallen man; but it would be both unjust and ungrateful in me to do so. I trust that I may without impropriety say, that the history of my mission will show that I never stooped to flatter General Santa Anna when at the height of his power, neither can I find it in my heart to traduce him now. He has at different times, at my instance, released from imprisonment more than two hundred Texan prisoners, and has so often afforded me that highest of all happiness, that of making others happy, that I should be gratified to know that in his present fallen state anything which I may write of him bas given him one moment's gratification. I shall not, however, be betrayed by this desire into writing one line which my own deliberate judgment does not approve.'--pp. 66, 67.
The first popular movement in Mexico, which commenced in 1809, had its origin in enthusiastic and devoted loyalty. It was begun under the auspices of the Spanish viceroy, and was designed to preserve to Ferdinand vir., who had abdicated the throne of Spain, the Mexican portion of his dominions. The clergy were generally opposed to it, and the movement consequently failed. The struggle, however, continued until 1821, when Iturbide, a Spanish officer in command of a considerable force, went over to the patriots, and at once determined their success. His adhesion, however, was only nominal, and it was soon found that the revolution effected a change of masters only. Within fifteen months he usurped the supreme authority, and was declared emperor by the army. His administration was worthy of his treachery, and would speedily have effected the entire destruction of the patriots, if Santa-Anna, in January, 1823, had not thrown himself between the tyrant and the people whom he had betrayed. Few incidents in modern times have