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Title: Diplomatic Days

Author: Edith O'Shaughnessy

Release Date: January 4, 2014 [EBook #44586]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by David Edwards, Melissa McDaniel, and the Online
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Transcriber's Note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved.

Books by




[Established 1817]


Photograph by Ravell


A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico



Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers
Printed in the United States of America
Published November, 1917


Foreword xi
First impressions of the tropics—Exotic neighbors on shipboard—Havana—Picturesque Mayan stevedores—Vera Cruz—The journey up to Mexico City Page 1
First visit to the Embassy—Adjusting oneself to a height of eight thousand feet in the tropics—Calle Humboldt—Mexican servants—Diplomatic dinners—Progress of Maderista forces Page 16
Mexico in full revolution—Diaz's resignation wrung from him—Memories of the "King in Exile"—President de la Barra sworn in—Social happenings—Plan de San Luis Potosí Page 32
First reception at Chapultepec Castle—First bull-fight—A typical Mexican earthquake—Madero's triumphal march through Mexico City—Three days of adoration Page 47
Dinner at the Japanese Legation—The real history of the Japanese in Mexico—Dinner at the Embassy—Coronation services for England's king—The rainy season sets in Page 61
Speculations as to the wealth of "the Greatest Mexican"—Fourth of July—Madero as evangelist—The German minister's first official dinner with the Maderos as the clou Page 69
The old monastery of Tepozotlan—Lively times on the Isthmus—The Covadonga murders—The Chapultepec reception—Sidelights on Mexican housekeeping—Monte de Piedad Page 84
Elim's fourth birthday party—Haggling over the prices of old Mexican frames—Zapata looms up—First glimpse of General Huerta—Romantic mining history of Mexico Page 93
The Vírgen de los Remedios—General Bernardo Reyes—A description of the famous ceremony of the "Grito de Dolores" at the palace Page 107
The uncertainty of Spanish adverbs—Planchette and the destiny of the state—Madame Bonilla's watery garden-party—De la Barra's "moderation committee"—Madero's "reform platform" Page 120
Election of Madero—The strange similarity between a Mexican election and a Mexican revolution—The penetrating cold in Mexican houses—Madame de la Barra's reception—The Volador Page 127
Dia de Muertos—Indian booths—President de la Barra relinquishes his high office—Dinner at the Foreign Office—Historic Mexican streets—Madero takes the oath Page 141
Uprising in Juchitan—Madero receives his first delegation—The American arrest of Reyes—Chapultepec Park—Sidelights on Juchitan troubles—Zapata's Plan de Ayala Page 153
The feast of Guadalupe—Peace reigns on the Isthmus—Earthquakes—Madero in a dream—The French colony ball—Studies in Mexican democracy—Christmas preparations Page 164
The first Christmas in Mexico City—Hearts sad and gay—Piñatas—Statue to Christopher Columbus Page 179
Off for Tehuantepec—A journey through the jungles—The blazing tropics—Through Chivela Pass in the lemon-colored dawn—Ravages of the revolution—A race of queens Page 184
Gathering clouds—"Tajada" the common disease of republics—Reception at Chapultepec—Madero in optimistic mood—His views of Mexico's liabilities to America Page 198
Washington warns Madero—Mobilization orders—A visit to the Escuela Preparatoria—A race of old and young—The watchword of the early fathers Page 206
A tragic dance in the moonlight—Unveiling George Washington's statue—The Corps Diplomatique visits the Pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacan—Orozco in full revolt Page 217
Madero shows indications of nervous tension—Why one guest of Mexico's President did not sit down—A novena with Madame Madero—Picture-writing on maguey—Picnic at El Desierto—San Fernando Page 226
Mexico's three civilizing, constructive processes—A typical Mexican family group—Holy Week—"La Catedral" on a "canvas" of white flowers—Reply of the Mexican government Page 245
The home of President Madero's parents—Señor de la Barra returns from Europe—Zapatistas move on Cuernavaca—Strange disappearances in Mexico—Oil—The President and the railways Page 254
The "Apostle" begins to feel the need of armed forces—A statesman "who is always revealing something to somebody"—Nursing the wounded at Red Cross headquarters Page 269
One Indian's view of voting—Celebrating the King's birthday at the British Legation—A single occasion when Mexican "pillars of society" appear—Reception at Don Pedro Lascurain's Page 279
Orozco and his troops flee toward the American border—A typical conversation with President Madero—Huerta's brilliant campaign in the north—The French fêtes—San Joaquin Page 295
Balls at the German Legation and at Madame Simon's—Necaxa—A strange, gorge-like world of heat and light—Mexican time-tables—The French trail Page 310
A luncheon for Gustavo Madero—Celebrating the Grito at the Palace—The President's brother explains his philosophy—Hacienda of San Cristobal—A typical Mexican Sunday dinner Page 316
Good-by to Mexico, and a special farewell to Madame Madero—Vera Cruz—Mexico in perspective Page 333


Hillside Houses and Church Towers in the Zapatista Country Frontispiece
The Revolutionary Camp, May 5, 1911
(In front, Francisco I. Madero, behind him, José Marcia Suarez. Next him, Gustavo Madero. At left front, Abram Gonsalez. All are dead)
Facing p. 10
Francisco I. Madero
(From a photograph taken in 1911)
" 24
Madero and Orozco in 1911—Madero at the Left " 34
Mexican Women Selling Tortillas " 42
Nelson O'Shaughnessy
(Secretary of the American Embassy, 1911-1912)
" 46
Paul Lefaivre
(French Minister to Mexico, 1911)
" 46
Francisco Leon de la Barra
(President ad interim of the Mexican Republic between Diaz and Madero)
" 46
A Road-side Shrine " 56
Von Hintze, German Minister to Mexico
(1911 to 1914)
" 74
Mexican Women Water-carriers " 88
A Typical Group of Corn-sellers " 108
Elim O'Shaughnessy, Mexico, June, 1911 " 134
Madame Lefaivre, Wife of the French Minister to Mexico, 1911 " 134
Xochimilco " 154
Boats on the Viga Canal " 200
At El Desierto, April 29, 1912
(Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elim in the foreground)}
" 234
Luncheon at the Villa des Roses
(In front row, left to right, Mr. de Vilaine, Mlle. de Tréville,} Ambassador Wilson, Madame Lefaivre, Mr. J. B. Potter, Mr. Rieloff (German Consul-general), Mrs. Nelson O'Shaughnessy, Von Hintze, Mr. Kilvert, Mr. Seger)
" 234
A Beautiful Old Mexican Church " 262
Mexican Nuns Going to Mass " 304


The letters which form this volume were written in a period of delightful leisure, when I was receiving my first impressions of Mexico. The might and beauty of the great Spanish civilization, set in a frame of exceeding natural loveliness, kindled new enthusiasms, and to it all was added the spectacle of that most passionately personal of human games, Mexican politics.

Though I was standing on its threshold, I had little prescience of the national tragedy which later I was to enter into completely, beyond the feeling of mysterious possibilities of calamity in that rich, beautiful, and coveted land.

I saw as in a glass darkly dim forms whose outlines I could not distinguish, and I heard as from a distance the confused cries of a people about to undergo a supreme national crisis, where the greatest delicacy and reserve were necessary on the part of the neighboring nations.

Since then all has happened to Mexico that can happen to a land and permit of its still existing. Even as individuals bear, they know not how, the unbearable, so has Mexico endured.

It is not easy for those who witnessed her great years of prosperity and peace to be reconciled to the years of chaos which have followed, unable as they are to distinguish any good that has resulted to compensate for the misery undergone.

All theories have been crushed to atoms by the tragic avalanche of facts, and above it the voice of the prophet has been heard, "Let that which is to die, die; that which is to be lost, lose itself; and of them that remain, let them devour one another"—until the time comes for new things.

Edith Coues O'Shaughnessy.

Paris, September, 1917.





First impressions of the tropics—Exotic neighbors on shipboard—Havana—Picturesque Mayan stevedores—Vera Cruz—The journey up to Mexico City

Off the Florida Keys,
On board the Monterey, May 1, 1911.

Precious mother: From the moment of arrival at the docks I began to have a suspicion of the tropics, which, however, with everything else, was in abeyance as we rounded Cape Hatteras. During that period an unhappy lot of passengers spent the hours more or less recumbent.

We left New York on a day beautiful and sunny overhead, but uncertain and white-capped underneath, and I don't want to repeat Cape Hatteras in any near future. However, sea evils are quickly forgotten, and I am "taking notice" again.

When we got down to the docks strange equatorial-looking boxes were being unloaded, and there were unfamiliar odors proceeding from crates of fruits, with spiky green things poking out, and something aromatic and suggestive about them. Unfamiliar people more highly colored and less clear-cut than I am accustomed to were gesticulating and running about and talking in [2] Spanish, with quantities of strange-looking luggage, countless children, and a great deal of very light-yellow shoe.

It was twelve o'clock as we left. N. had our steamer chairs arranged, and we went down to lunch to the sound of the loudest gong that ever invited me to refresh. The comedor (dining-room) had its menu printed in English and Spanish, and, of course, I lapped up the Spanish names with my lunch, which gave a charm and a relish to the otherwise uninteresting food. Table decorations in the shape of paper palms were rather disillusioning. The merest scrap of any growing exotic thing would have satisfied me, though N. said I was probably expecting to find the comedor smothered in jasmine and mimosa, with orchids clinging to the walls. Well, perhaps I was. You know I am romantic.

I am now ensconced on deck. Low, yellow stretches in the distances are the "Keys," and I am beginning to feel a slow firing of the imagination as we slip into these soft, bright waters—into the Caribbean. Our old Lamartine quotation comes to mind, "Ainsi toujours poussés vers de nouveaux rivages," etc.

A Mérida family occupies the state-room nearest mine—five children, mother, father, and a beetling-browed Indian maid. I stumble over details of their luggage every time I go out of my cabin—a pea-green valise, a chair for one of the younger children, a large rocking-horse, a great, round, black-and-white cardboard box from some hat-shop in Fourteenth Street—they don't seem to mind what they carry.

Their parrot I had removed early in the game; none of them ever went near it to give it food or water, though they had gone to the immense bother of traveling with it. It was evidently pleased to be going back to where it had come from, and its liveliest times were between 4 and 6 A.M. and 2 and 4 P.M. [3]

They have an awful little boy they shriek at, called Jenofonte (in toying with my dictionary I see it is Zenophon in English). He "hunts" with a quiet, bright-eyed little sister called Jesusita, whom I have several times found in my state-room investigating things. It seemed at first like having them all in with me. The state-rooms have only the thinnest partitions, with about a foot of nothing at the top for ventilation.

The steward tells me they get off at Progreso. "Papacito" is a wealthy henequen planter. "Mamacita" boarded the ship wearing huge diamond ear-rings and molded into the tightest checked tailor-suit you ever saw. This morning she is perfectly comfortable in a lace-trimmed, faded lavender wrapper—doubtless inspired by the warm air. I can see her in sack and petticoat on the plantation.

The boat is full of children, and how they squabble! The various parents come up and talk in loud, harsh voices, and gesticulate and scream what seem maledictions on one another, and one thinks there is going to be a terrible row, when suddenly everybody walks off with everybody else as pleasant as you please, and it is all over till the next time.

More or less sophisticated literature was sent me for the voyage by various well-wishers. To-day I have been reading Les Dieux ont Soif, but with a feeling that this is not a setting for Anatole France, and that I would do better to wait in spite of all the cleverness. He can't compete with this sea-preface to the Mexican book I am to read.

I have an exotic neighbor in the chair next mine who attracted me the first day out by her steamer rugs, which seemed to be white lace bedspreads with wadded linings, now not as fresh as they were before we all disappeared during the rounding of Cape Hatteras. I [4] have only been wont to travel in directions where steamer rugs are steamer rugs. I was further interested by the pillows embroidered with large pink-and-blue swallows and the word in Italian, Tornero, reminding me of the things one used to buy at Sorrento or Naples or in the Via Sistina.

A large, fierce-mustached, chinless man sits by her—husband, manager, protector, or devourer, I know not. She is an Argentine dancer going to do a "turn" in Havana, a good soul with a naturally honest look out of her sloe-black eyes and the most lovely lines from waist to feet; for the rest getting top-heavy. I imagine she is "letting herself go," as large boxes of chocolates and candied fruits are always by her side, which she presses on Elim every time he appears. He is sitting by me and says to tell you that he has you zucker-lieb.

He runs the deck from morning till night, and I think his little alabaster legs are taking on a brownish tinge. It is getting very warm, but there is always one side of the boat where a breeze is to be had. He has been divested of most of his clothing, and is wearing a little pale-blue linen suit, short above his sweet, white knees. He looks like the fairest lily among all these dark blossoms.


Between six and seven o'clock the sea was a marvelous mauve and blue; myriads of little white-winged flying-fish were springing out of the water; over us was a green-and-orange sky in which a pale crescent moon was shining. Tell Elliott these wondrous seas seem to belong to him. My thoughts enfolded him tenderly as a soft darkness fell.

Early to-morrow morning, about 6.30, we get into Havana. The Jacksons cabled us before we left New York to lunch with them at the Legation. [5]

The Monterey has been taking strange, unrelated assortments of passengers to Mexico for decades, and her only resemblance to the big ocean liners is that she floats. The cabins have hard, narrow berths with a still harder shelf of a sofa, and when I add that a bit of cloth was tied round the stopper of my basin to prevent the water from running out, you will quite understand. I used half of my bottle of listerine on the stopper, and then removed the cloth, with the result that I have to be quick about my ablutions. But when one is running into a blue-and-mauve sea with a rainbow-colored sky above, it does not matter; one is bathed in a gorgeous iridescence. The captain tells me that on the last trip they ran into a hurricane, with the water suddenly slopping and washing about in the famous comedor, everybody wet and trying to stand on chairs and tables, screaming and saying prayers.

May 3d.
Between Havana and Progreso.

Yesterday we had a pleasant day with the Jacksons. You know they are always handsomely established, and we found them in a very beautiful old Spanish house opposite an old church with a pink belfry, and a tall palm pressed against it—the sort of silhouette I had dreamed of and hoped for. My eyes received it gratefully as we drove up to the door.

Once in the house, dim, cool, large spaces enveloped us, and Mrs. Jackson, very dainty in the freshest and filmiest of white dresses, received us. We had not met since the old Berlin days. Mr. Jackson, also in immaculate white, was coming down the broad stone stairway from the chancery as we got there.

They showed us the interesting house, a type fast disappearing, alas! Mostly they are being turned into cigarette-factories or being torn down to make room [6] for entirely unsuitable buildings, such as are in vogue in the temperate zone. Large suites of rooms are built between a wide outer veranda and a large inner corridor giving on a courtyard. During the season of rains, it appears, the water rushes down the broad stairway, and the furniture in the huge, window-paneless rooms is piled up in the middle. Nobody keeps books or engravings in Havana, on account of the dampness. There is not a first edition on the island. Even shoes and slippers left in the closets get a green mold in no time. Mr. Jackson says they have a lot of work at the Legation, and everything in Havana costs the eyes of the head.

An hour or so after lunch, with its "Auld Lang Syne" flavor spiced with our hot, tropical inquiries, we took a drive along the deserted Malecón, the entire population evidently at the business of the siesta. But Havana should always be seen, indescribably beautiful, from a ship entering the port in the pearly morn, as I saw it.

About four o'clock, when we were driving to the landing, the town began to wake up. There was much coming and going of a many-colored population, with the dark note dominating, and much whistling and humming, and many knowing-looking, pretty, flashing-eyed, very young girls were walking about. We had been refreshed with one of the national beverages—shredded pineapple in powdered ice—most delicious, before leaving the Legation. It helped us over the blaze of water to the Monterey.

After getting back I walked about the deck, watching the beautiful little harbor filled with all sorts and conditions of ships, hailing from the four winds of the earth. The Kronprinzessin Cecilie, with the new German minister to Mexico aboard, was just going out of the [7] harbor, and I was shown where they were busy dredging for the Maine. A part of her historic form was to be seen and "gave to think."

About six o'clock fiery clouds began to pile themselves up in the heavens with a lavishness I am unaccustomed to. One could not tell where the sun was actually setting. The whole horizon was red and pink and saffron and vermilion, and the rose-tinted Cabaña fortress and Morro Castle cut sharply into it. The waters of the harbor slowly became a magnificent purple, and as the ships began to hang their masthead lights, and the throb of coming night was over everything, we steamed out. For long after we could see the jeweled lights of the lovely isle. So far, so good.

We have a day at Progreso, and we are planning to go ashore to visit Mérida, the famous old capital of Yucatan, and evidently most interesting. The accounts in Terry's Guide are quite alluring. It was founded on the remains of the ancient Mayan city, and has a celebrated cathedral built by one of the men who came over with Cortés, and still filled with good old things. The description of Montejo's house, with its door flanked on each side by the stone figure of a Spanish knight with his feet on the head of a Mayan Indian, shows what that conqueror thought of the situation.

Captain Smith, very rotund and quite blasé about the thrills of passengers, who has not been ashore at Mérida for three decades, though he passes by many times a year, recommended us to stay on the boat, saying Mérida was always "hotter than Tophet," too hot to see anything. "I know," he added. "I have seen 'them' go and seen 'them' return."

Some spectacled German travelers quite enlivened the deck to-day. When they first hove in sight I thought they were professors or scientific men of some sort, each [8] having a large, flat valise under his arm. The valises, according to the modest yet piercing glance I cast, proved, however, to be filled with underpinnings for the female form divine, that they are going to introduce into Yucatan—coarse embroidery and lace-trimmed articles, with machine-stitching you could see the length of the deck, and both men simply dripped with samples. Dots, stripes, and checks, with the prices attached, seemed to be their whole existence.

Awhile ago, however, the largest and most florid one leaned against the railing under the warm starry sky, as we steamed through a phosphorescent sea, and sang Walther's "Preislied" in a beautiful tenor voice, with the purest, smoothest phrasing. The other, regretting at intervals that he had not brought his geige with him, hummed a delightful second part to Wie ist es möglich dann dass ich dich lassen kann. It was all as natural as breathing, and as close.

May 4th.
Between Progreso and Vera Cruz.

The voyage is drawing to an end. A peace which doesn't pass understanding has fallen on my part of the ship as the Mérida family and their rainbow luggage were taken off to the sound of the shrieks of the parrot, the screams of the family, and endless running back to get things.

We did not go ashore, after all, as we had planned. From the direction of Mérida came a strange heat enveloping like a garment, a heat unknown to me, and a dazzling glaze of light, which seemed to bore holes through the eyes. Later on at sunset, red as blood, there was a spongy crimson ambiency about each figure on deck.

All day we watched the spotlessly clean Mayan stevedores unloading the cargo on to the lighters. It [9] was an effect of brown skin and white or pale-pink or green garments, which I suppose had been some coarser color to begin with. They are Mayan Indians with a big civilization behind them. I remembered dimly those beautiful illustrated reports—I think from the Smithsonian—that I used to look at in the Washington house curled up in an arm-chair. It affected me to see these remnants of a past race arrive for the unloading of our steamer so clean, so fresh-smelling. All day long they have been crying "Abajo!" and "Arriba!" as the heavy load swung down or the iron claws swung up. The little boats and lighters of all kinds have pious names—La Concepción Inmaculada, Asunción (the grimiest and smallest of all was La Transfiguración)—instead of the Katies and Susies and Dolphins of another clime.


We were thankful we had not ventured into the Mérida furnace. Some stout Germans who left in the morning active, rosy, fat, and inquiring, came back languid, lead-colored, flabby, and silent. What happened to the two who debarked to introduce coarse undergarments and fine singing into Yucatan I shall never know.

I thought of Elliott, when the darkish women in pink dresses, with a blue veil or two and jewelry and many children, got on the boat to go from Progreso to Vera Cruz. It must have been the sort he used to see in Haiti. I have just written Aunt Laura, to post at Vera Cruz, that she may know we are en route to the land of the cactus. Events have succeeded one another so quickly these past few months that I am dazed. Only the thread of love and sorrow and high adventure that holds life together keeps me steady.

Yesterday Elim said, in the same tone he would have used feeding the swans and the deer in any one of the [10] accustomed international parks, "Now I am going to feed the sharks." He was hoping they would show some interest in the bits of bread he threw at them. These wondrous blue waters are simply infested with the ravening creatures, and any one who fell overboard would not need to fear drowning. Since we left Havana it has been all color, no contours, no masses, even, except the gorgeous sunset clouds, and they have presented themselves with unimaginable pomp and circumstance. I have never seen such a waste of color.

The German son-in-law of Senator Newlands, whom you saw in Berlin, is on board, also a count and countess—I think the same ones that mixed the tomato catsup in the bath-tub of the Washington house that the clergy provided for them when they came from Rome seeking fortune. An unidentified youth, terzo incommodo or commodo, for all I know, is with them; the returning families and German commercial travelers make up the rest.

To-day, though the sea is smooth to the eye, there is a long, slow ground-swell, and this blanket of heat further relieves one of all strenuosity. I begin to understand lots of things. Campeche Bay is a far cry from the Ritz-Carlton—but what would life be without its far cries?

Friday 5th.
Nearing Vera Cruz.

Very hot, though early this morning there was a drenching rain, a deluge. The heavens simply opened, and everything, for an hour, was running with a great sound of water. Now the sun is out, a strange, pricking, nerve-disturbing sun.

(In front, Francisco I. Madero; behind him, José Marcia Suarez; next him, Gustavo Madero. In khaki at left front, Abram Gonsalez. All are dead)

I have a deep thrill of excitement when I think of the Mexico in revolution that we are nearing, steaming so quickly to the center of it all. The victories, the defeats, the glories, the abasements, vanishings, and destructions [11] we may witness, all that troubled magnetic unknown awaiting us! In looking over the newspaper in Mrs. Jackson's cool, dim, vast boudoir we saw that the Madero revolution is taking on great proportions. Old things and new wrestling for supremacy, "and the heavens above them all."

The — are going on to Mexico City to "chercher fortune." He is the brother of the tomato catsup bathtub episode, as I gathered, when he spoke of a brother having been in Washington. He quite frankly tells people that he himself has had bad luck, as on the way to Mexico he had stopped at Monte Carlo, and of the hundred thousand francs raised to begin life again in the tropics he had lost eighty thousand at the tables. Very sad!

We land at Vera Cruz about noon, according to Captain Smith, and can take a night train (thirteen hours) up to Mexico City. I had some thought of persuading N. to wait over, that we might make the famous journey by daylight. But the train leaves at 6 A.M., which would mean a night in Vera Cruz, and what I hear about the hotels is not confidence-inspiring. I have a feeling of being completely at the mercy of the unknown and the only partially controllable—unknown microbes, unknown humanities, unknown everything; and there is the blue-eyed boy, so we will probably let the scenery enjoy itself.

Later, 3 p.m.
Sitting on deck in Vera Cruz harbor.

To-day is a great national holiday, the 5th of May (when the French were defeated at Puebla), and things are not moving quickly, at any rate not in our direction. The health officials have not materialized. Somebody said it was a bad time to arrive, anyway, as they would be taking their afternoon naps. [12]

The only other visitor from foreign parts in the harbor is the Kronprinzessin Cecilie lying against the white glaze of shore. An old Spanish fortress, San Juan Ulua, is near us—now used as a prison and most dreadful, I am told. But I keep thinking how, through the centuries, the vast, shining wealth of Mexico poured into Europe from this port.


The polite, vestless but not coatless health officials have found us "clean," and we are now waiting for the next set—I think it is the port authorities—to finish their naps.

On the docks so near, but apparently so far, is lying or sitting a dark-faced, peaked-hatted, white-trousered race with one tall, white-skinned, white-clad figure standing out—our consul, evidently come to meet us. Captain Smith told me that in the old days navigators got into Vera Cruz by the picturesque means of steering so that the tower of the Church of San Francisco covered the tower of the cathedral.

I was standing by him (it was his ninety-ninth entrance into Vera Cruz harbor) just as we passed the lone palms on the flat, sandy island, and he heaved a sigh of relief. In addition to the sandy islands and the lonely palms were blackened ribs of various ships that did not get into port. These things and the blur of heat confusing the outlines of the city into a mass of white, pink, and green, with a hint of a lustrous mountain form on a far horizon, are what I see as we sit here ready to step ashore into the unknown.

Mexico City, May 6th, noon.
Hôtel de Genève, a stone's-throw from the Embassy.

We got in early, at 7.30, and I did not feel, driving through the broad streets with their wash of Indian [13] color, as one often does entering strange cities in the early morning: "Why, oh, why have I come? What am I doing here?"

There seemed abundant justification, if one could only get at it; some personal pointing of the finger of a generally impersonal fate. It's all very strange to both the psychical and physical being. N. went early to present himself to the ambassador. We had purposely not telegraphed our arrival. Elim is out with Gabrielle, and I am rather limp and listless after the sleepless night, which was an unforgetable rising up, up, up, with a ringing in the ears, through an exotic, potential sort of darkness.

My last word was from the boat, posted at the consulate. Mr. Canada, our calm, sensible, silver-haired, blue-eyed consul, welcomed us at Vera Cruz, piloted us quickly through the furnace of the customs, across an equally hot interval of sand and cobblestone to the dim, cool consulate, where a strong, unexpected breeze was blowing in at the sea-windows.

Then ensued a great telegraphing to and fro to know if the line, the only one rumored to be intact to Mexico City, were really open and safe. Other encouraging rumors, such as the cutting of the water and light supplies of Mexico City by the revolutionaries, were rife. But, not fancying a marooning in Vera Cruz, we decided "If it were done, 'twere well 'twere done quickly."

Half an hour before the train started, with babe, baggage, and maid safely on board, we took a little turn about the streets. A blessed blue darkness was falling, all that glaze of heat was gone, and the note of color proved to be little low, pink houses with a great deal of green shutter and balcony. We went as far as the Plaza, drawn by the sound of some really snappy music. Indians, mantilla-covered, white-clad women, [14] little children in various stages of undress, and a foreigner or two smoking, were sitting or walking about in the palm-planted square, and under some arcades people were eating and drinking. The domed and belfried cathedral was only a dark mass against the sky, but all the same I deeply knew that it was the tropics, the Spanish tropics. Thus has many a one debarked in a tropical port, and there is nothing at all extraordinary about it, except one's own feeling.

As the train moved out of the station every man had his revolver or his rifle ready at hand, and there was a great wiping and clicking and loading going on. The colored porter and a young man reading the Literary Digest gave, however, home notes of security.

It wasn't one of those nights when you "lie down to pleasant dreams." As I put my head out of the window at one of the dark stops the scent of some sickeningly sweet unknown flower fell like a veil over my face. There was a hollow sound of the testing of the wheels. Torches and lanterns cut the darkness, so that I got suggestions of unfamiliar silhouettes, as a peaked hat or a flap of a cape or a bayonet caught the light. Soldiers were guarding the bridges and trestle-works, which seemed endless.

As the first dim light began to come in at my window I drew up the curtain and looked out on a scene so beautiful, so unexpected, that I could have wept. The two great volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, were high, rose-colored, serene, ineffably beautiful against the sky, still a pale tint of bleu de nuit. I felt all the alarms and uncertainties of the darkness slip away. Elim was rolled up like a little ball at the foot of the berth, nothing of his head showing but a shock of yellow hair. We were safely on the heights.

Dim, bluish fields of the unfamiliar maguey were [15] planted in regular rows. Even as I looked out they began to take on a rich, brownish-pink tone, the little Indian huts along the way became rose-colored, everything began to glow. The two peaks, which had had no place in my consciousness since I wrestled with their names at school, were masses of flame-color against a sky of palest, whitest blue. At the little stations an occasional red-blanketed, peaked-hatted Indian appeared. It was the Mexico of dreams. [16]


First visit to the Embassy—Adjusting oneself to a height of eight thousand feet in the tropics—Calle Humboldt—Mexican servants—Diplomatic dinners—Progress of Maderista forces.

May 7, 1911.

Yesterday proved very full, though I had thought to engage it, as far as the outer world was concerned, by a single visit to the Embassy. N. came home to lunch with the announcement that it was Mrs. Wilson's day, so I went back with him, thinking to greet her for a moment only, but she insisted on my returning for the afternoon reception, and was most cordial and welcoming.

I came home, tried to rest, and didn't, and, finally pulling my outer self together with the help of the big, black Alphonsine hat, sallied forth at five o'clock to see the general lay of the Mexican land. I found various autos drawn up before the Embassy door, and Mrs. Wilson, very gracious and attractive-looking in a heliotrope dress, was receiving many callers in her handsome, flower-filled drawing-room. Various diplomatic people were presented, but mostly, as it happened, from or about the equator.

I met, however, a charming young Mexican—Del Campo, I think his name is—from the Foreign Office. His English was so choice and delightful that I asked how it came about. He explained that he had an Irish mother and had been en poste in London. Toward the [17] end the ambassador came in, very cordial, and asking why in the world we hadn't telegraphed that we were coming up on the night train, so that we might be properly met; but I told him one couldn't be "properly met" at 7 A.M.

An agreeable, clever man, Stephen Bonsal, who has been correspondent at various crises for various newspapers in various parts of the world, came in late. He is down here to watch the progress of the revolution from the very good perspective afforded by Mexico City. After every one but Mr. Bonsal had gone there was an interesting conversation about the potentialities of the Mexican situation.

The ambassador is a great admirer of Diaz, and fears the unknown awaiting us.

In the evening we dined with the first secretary, Mr. Dearing, a delightful man of good judgment, with dark, clever eyes, who says he has in view just the house for us. I am glad to find him here.

It's all rather a blur of fatigue, however, and this morning not much better. I am conscious all the time of an effort to adjust the body to an unaccustomed air-pressure, a different ambiency. After all, it is nearly eight thousand feet in the tropics. This hotel "leaves to be desired" from every point of view, and we must make other arrangements at the earliest opportunity.


Various reporters have been here wanting details of our "previous condition of servitude," and bothering us for our photographs, which we have not got.

Mr. Weitzel, special secretary, sent from Washington to "help out" pending N.'s arrival, has been to lunch, and I am going out to drive with Mrs. Wilson in a few minutes. [18]

Was it not tragic—one of those tricky, inexplicable, unnatural arrangements of fate—that Aunt Laura, up from Tehuantepec on business, should have been leaving one station as we got in at the other? It would have seemed to the human understanding the preordained moment to span the decades between this day and that long-ago parting in my childhood.


Just home from a delightful drive about Chapultepec Park with Mrs. Wilson. It is entered through a broad, eucalyptus-planted avenue with fine monuments and vistas, leading into the beautiful, poetic grounds, with the far-famed castle of Chapultepec standing on a hill in the midst, about which grow countless varieties of exotic tree and flower. As we drove about she told me of the wonderful fiesta there at the time of the Centenary, when the park was hung with thousands of electric lights, of the dignity and state of Don Porfirio, and of Doña Carmen's wonderful white Paris gown and her strings of pearls and diamonds, and flashing through it all her gracious smile as she received the great of the earth, gathered from the four winds.

But there seemed something of a fairy tale about it all, with a revolutionary army in the north headed straight for us, brought together by an unknown dreamer of the dream of equality, a sort of prophet and apostle.

May 8th.

I have already sent off two letters, but this goes via the pouch to Washington. I am not formulating anything about Mexico. I feel myself simply a receptacle for impressions not yet crystallized.

I am now going to look at the house Dearing spoke of. This hotel, though quite new, is already rickety and [19] proves itself more primitive at each turn. The doors in every room are placed just where you don't expect them; either you can't shut them or they won't open. The hot water runs cold, and the cold hot. We are up a huge number of stairs, the first step placed at right angles as you go out of the door; and I seem to be living in a world of luggage. The pleasant rooms can only be got at through the undesirable ones. The food to me is interesting with its American veneer over unclassified substances, but would never do for Elim.

This afternoon I made official calls with Mrs. Wilson—just a leaving of cards, and in the evening we dine with Dearing and Weitzel, who, now that N. has arrived, is returning immediately to Washington. The weather is beautiful, but the dark and splendid clouds that yesterday "gathered round the setting sun" are, they tell me, the forerunners of the rainy season.

May 9, 1911.

Instead of dining with Mr. Weitzel we all had a very pleasant dinner at the Embassy last night. Everything exceedingly well done. A Belgian maître d'hôtel has brought his Brussels ways with him, and it might have been a pleasant dinner anywhere. The Embassy is very handsomely equipped throughout with the furnishings of Mr. Wilson's Brussels Legation, and the rooms are all large and high-ceilinged and generally ambassadorial-looking. Mr. Wilson has a very complex situation well in hand, but says he has ample reason to fear that if Diaz goes it will be an embarking on unknown seas in a rudderless ship. Personally I have not got any of the points of the compass yet, but something seems brewing in all directions.


We took the charming dwelling I spoke of yesterday—not too large, and thoroughly furnished by comfortably [20] living, cultured people—42 Calle Humboldt. The name of the street itself is in the proper Mexican note. I want to keep the house, which is built in the dignified, solid way of half a century ago, on the basis of the former masters, so I looked over the accounts, which in themselves give a picture of Mexican life.

The servants get fifteen cents a day for their food, consisting largely of frijoles, and their everlasting pulque, which my nose is no longer a stranger to, and their wages range from seven to nine dollars a month. There is a dear little flower-planted corridor—pink geraniums and calla-lilies—running around the four sides of the patio, on which all the rooms open, and there is a second brick veranda, with various shrubs and flowers and oleander-trees, out beyond the dining-room, where Elim can play in the flooding sun. Four of the servants have been many years with the Americans to whom the house belongs, Mrs. Seeger and her daughter departing only last week on the Ward Line Merida.

The house has never been rented before. Its only drawback is that it is in the center of the town, though it is at the end of the street near the broad Paseo. The Embassy is some distance out, in one of the new "Colonias." We can move in immediately. Everything is in apple-pie order. I have seen two smiling, black-dressed, white-collared, white-aproned maids, who said they wouldn't stay if I got a butler. It sounds so promising that I certainly won't introduce any possibly disturbing element into this paradise.

42 Calle Humboldt.

I am sitting here quietly in the charming little library waiting for the maître de maison, whom we have just missed; a few final arrangements are to be made. There are many bookcases filled with really good books, easy-chairs, [21] writing-desks, and all sheltered from this beautiful but cruel light by awnings at the windows of court and street—everything comfortable and comme il faut. The rooms have the high ceilings of this part of the world, and in the drawing-room, which gives into the library, are more books, and furniture that will be pleasant to live with.

Mrs. S., fearing possible destructions of a very probable revolution, took with her all her really good portable things, I understand. Collections of fans, paintings on bronze, some old pictures, valuable bric-à-brac—in short, the gleanings of years. I am thankful, of course, not to have the responsibility of anybody's special treasures.

The rooms are all enfilade, with the open corridor running around the inside of the patio, and all, except two big corner rooms giving on the street, open onto it. Just opposite is the Ministry of Finance, and at the head of the street in the big Plaza is the Foreign Office. There is an artesian well at the back, but the water must be boiled and filtered. I understand one must keep one's eye on the filtering and boiling, which seems superfluous to the Aztec. Nothing is spoken except Spanish, which pleases me, as it will break me in immediately. The servants are a cook, the two nice maids, two washer-women, and a little half-priced maid called a galopina. As you will judge by the name, she does all the running, and doubtless the kitchen work nobody else will do.

I am most fortunate not to have to try my novice hand on getting a household together in this land of unknown equations. Just to step into a well-ordered household is a piece of good luck. I have already seen a corner I shall make mine, a sofa near a bookcase and reading-lamp, and an old, low, square table which I [22] shall put beside it for books and flowers, and where the tea will be brought.

May 10th.

A word in haste by the pouch. Don't believe all you see in the newspapers, and especially don't let the Paris Herald make you panicky. We are well, and to-morrow we move into the pleasant home. In case there are riots we can sport not only one oak, but two, as there is a double set of doors to the large vestibule leading into the courtyard, and we are up one flight, in what the Italians would call the piano nobile. Nothing above but a flat, convenient, accessible roof. I am told the roof is a great feature of Latin-American life, especially in revolutionary days.

I write at length about the disposition of the house because I know you will like to hear; not because there is one chance in a thousand of the siege so much talked about, though it seems in the note to order large supplies from the American grocery-stores, and people are having their doors and window-shutters strengthened. The fighting on the frontier has nothing, as yet, to do with us.

May 12th.

All peaceful here in Mexico City. Diaz and Madero are supposed to come to some sort of terms. The well-seasoned inhabitants who know the people and conditions feel there is no cause for personal anxieties, though, of course, there are always alarmists. One minister, whose posts during a long career have been Guatemala, Siam, and Mexico, talks wildly, and has stocked his house for a siege. He lets the water run into his tub at night for fear the water-supply will be cut off, and has had iron bars put across his shutters.

Yesterday, when we got to the house, there was not a sign of any of the servants. It appeared completely [23] deserted, and might have been a Mayan ruin so far as signs of life were concerned. After an hour of thinking their delicacy, or whatever it was, had gone far enough, I investigated the back quarters, and they all appeared smiling and ready. As I understand it, there was some Spanish-Indian idea about not intruding at first; but I wanted to get settled!

I was out this morning, getting a few necessary additions to the house, though everything is here, even to some linen and silver. The departing Belgian secretary is having a sale, and I met there several of the colleagues looking over his household gods.

Last night we were again at the Embassy for dinner, and the cook returned me some of the morning house money—fifty cents or so—that had not been used. I was so surprised that I took it. They seem a pleasant, peaceful, gentle, ungrasping sort of people.

The house is open day and night—we live a practically outdoor life. To get to the really charming dining-room with its yellow walls, rare old engravings in old dark, inlaid frames, its cabinets with bits of Napoleon, Maximilian, and other old china, we have to go out under "the inverted bowl" of an unimagined shining blueness and around the corridor. It certainly poetizes the hour of refreshment. The climate is indescribably beautiful to look at, but it is all too high. Few foreigners can stand it à la longue. The patio was flooded with moonlight when I went to bed, and flooded with sun when I woke up. I praised Allah.

The dinner of twelve at the Embassy last night was very pleasant. President Taft's announcement that there would be no intervention made every one feel easy again. Rumors had been rife in town as to possible decisions in Washington. I sat between the ambassador and an American, Mr. McLaren, an intime of Madero, [24] in whose house he lay concealed last autumn when he was in danger of arrest.

I was most interested in hearing, at first hand, about Madero. Mr. McLaren, a clever lawyer with a long experience of Mexico, says he is inspired, illuminated, selfless, with but one idea, the regeneration of Mexico. He seems to have no doubt of Madero's being able to work out the Mexican situation along high, broad lines, and thinks he will surely be here, in the city, through force or the abdication of Diaz, within a month or two.

Mr. Wilson, on the contrary, told me again he saw with dread the overthrow of the Diaz régime. Though the President is eighty-three, with many of the infirmities and obstinacies of old age, he also preserves many of the qualities that made him great, and Mr. Wilson said that he personally, in all his dealings with him, never found him lacking in understanding or energy.

I reminded myself of La Fontaine's fable, Entre deux Âges, with the difference, however, that instead of having no hair left, I had no opinions left, when we rose from dinner. We drove home in an open motor under a thickly starred and gorgeous heaven; but the unfamiliar constellations gave me sudden nostalgia.


Last night the Ward Line Merida sank. The wife and daughter of Mr. Seeger were on her. After five hours of anguish and uncertainty, in complete darkness, bereft of every personal belonging, the passengers were transferred to the United Fruit Company steamer that ran into them. The news has just come in. It makes 42 Calle Humboldt seem very safe. To think that as we were returning to its security from the pleasant dinner at the Embassy the disaster was taking place!

(From a photograph taken in 1911)

I look about this comfortable home and think how [25] sheltered a spot had been forsaken but a short week ago, of the treasures chosen from walls and cabinets to be out of possible revolutionary harm, and now all is lying at the bottom of the sea, off Cape Hatteras, and we, strangers, are safe in the shelter of this home. "Who shall escape his fate?" I keep saying to myself.

May 13th.

On the 10th Juarez was captured with its commanding officer, General Navarro, by Orozco and Giuseppe Garibaldi, who is down here following out the family traditions. I am writing in the comfortable little library, doors opening everywhere on to the flower-planted corridor. I have been reading Creelman's Life of Diaz, and three volumes of Prescott are waiting on my little table. Suddenly I find I am hungry with a great hunger for the printed page and the old objective and impersonal habits of thought. In Vienna the personal, with its "grand seigneur" contour, seemed to replace quite sufficiently for the time any objective views of life. A woman who reads there is likely to be mal vue, which for some reason does not at all do away with the insistent seductions of Viennese life.

Yours from the Dolder received, and the sight of the envelope showing the familiar Zürich lake and hills made me realize the mountains and seas that separate us. Elim went to sleep with the envelope under his pillow. The beautiful park nearest us, the "Alameda," of which I inclose a post-card, is unfortunately haunted by Indians, picturesque, hungry, dirty. If it is true, as transcendental souls say, that beauty is food, I need not worry about them, but it does not make the place very tempting for Elim's airings. He will have to be driven up to Chapultepec Park.

We are to be presented to the President and his wife [26] this week, and are looking forward to meeting the maker of modern Mexico and his charming consort. They are in their large house near the Palacio, but generally at this season have moved to Chapultepec.

May 16th.

Yesterday Madero and Carbajal, who is the peace envoy of Diaz, whatever that may mean, went into conference at Juarez to consider the proposals of the Diaz government. Everything here is in a melting condition, and how it will crystallize the fates alone know.

Various "innocent" bystanders were killed or injured at Douglas in the early days of the revolution. Some still more innocent, looking neither to the right nor to the left, also got hurt, as, for instance, the lady leaning over the wash-tub with her back to the land of the cactus. They have put in a nice little bundle of claims, and one flippant newspaper at home suggests putting the town of Douglas on wheels and moving it to a place of safety, rather than going to the expense of invading Mexico for the recovery of claims past and future.

Last night we dined at the handsome French Legation in the Calle Roma. The minister and his wife are away, and in their absence the chargé d'affaires, De Vaux, is living there with two friends, a Mr. de Vilaine, very au courant with Mexican matters, and who has large mining interests in Taxco and Colima. He showed us some interesting silver ingots from a little mill at Miramar on the Pacific coast, made up after the manner of the early Spaniards.

A young man, D'Aubigny,[1] in business here, completes a pleasant trio, and we had a very agreeable dinner. The retiring Spanish secretary, Romero, just appointed to Teheran, and his Viennese wife were also there. [27] Romero bears testimony to race, and his long and elegant silhouette fitted into the charming rooms most harmoniously; but a tall, distinguished-looking man, whose name I did not get, ought to have been hanging, clad in a ruff and velvet doublet, in a gilt frame among the Velasquez in the Madrid museum.

The Belgian minister, Allart, who has been here during the last several years of Don Porfirio's glory, took me out. The conversation everywhere turns on the political situation, suppositions as to the abdication of Diaz, prophecies as to how and when Madero will arrive, if the city will offer resistance, and each one's little plan of campaign in case of siege.

There is a temporary narrow-gauge railroad running from the arsenal to the Buena Vista station, across the beautiful Paseo, for the expedition of men and munitions if necessary, which Allart told me appeared last March in the night soon after Limantour's return. Nobody seems to know exactly what forces are at the disposition of the Federal government. The newspapers get rich on the situation, however, and certainly it enlivens the dinners.

May 20, 1911.

The Madero forces are in possession of the ports of entry at Juarez and Agua Prieta, and can collect the customs which, as one minister said, would be spent in fancy by all, but in reality by the usual nearest few.

I saw some Mexican suffragettes the other day whom I wish their American sisters could have gazed upon. They were armed with bandoliers full of ammunition crossed over their breasts, and it did look like bullets rather than ballots among the sisterhood here.

N. has photographed the patio and corridor, and I will send you some copies as soon as possible.

Yesterday I called with Mrs. Wilson at the house of [28] Mrs. Nuttall, of philological and archæological fame, who is away. It is the celebrated but ill-omened house[2] that Pedro de Alvarado, Cortés's beloved, hot-blooded, dashing lieutenant, built just after the Conquest, when Coyoacan was the favorite spot of the high-born and high-handed survivors. It has a most artistic façade, pink, with the pink of ages, and decorated with a lovely lozenge-shaped design.

One enters through a great carved wooden door, with an old shrine above it, into a beautiful courtyard with patches of sun and dark corners, and going up a broad flight of outside stairs one finds oneself on a wide Bougainvillea-hung veranda.

Mrs. Laughton, Mrs. Nuttall's daughter, gave us tea in a high-ceilinged, thick-walled room, filled with flowers and bric-à-brac, with a beautiful, very large, couple-of-centuries-old portrait of a nun Mrs. Nuttall had found in some convent looking down on us. As the poetry and beauty of that old civilization invaded me I thought, "This is what all of Mexico might be, and is not." Beautiful shell designs are over each door leading into rooms of romantic and unexpected proportions. Afterward we went down-stairs and passed through the courtyard, in one corner of which is an old well, overgrown with flowers, which has a history as dark as its depths. The body of Doña Catalina, the first wife of Cortés, is said by evilly disposed historians to have been thrown into it after a quarrel between herself and Cortés in the old near-by Palacio.

As we walked in the garden I felt some strange magic [29] exhaling from it all, something possessing and almost imploring. There were such lights and shadows, such contours of cypress and eucalyptus, mingling with quince and pear trees. The old arbor in the carrefour is overgrown with white roses, and the rest of the garden is a mass of lilies of various kinds, heliotrope, and great tangles of trailing pink geranium and honeysuckle. Blue-flowered papyri were clustered about a microscopic, water-lilied lake, quite black in the late afternoon light. Around all was an old pink, vine-grown wall. It was the hortus inclusus of poets, and I perceived then in its fullness the dark, lovely imprint of Spain upon the lands she conquered. The English, German, French stamp on their colonies that I have seen is pale, effaceable, and doubtless would be lost immediately once the power is withdrawn. But this Spanish stamp has a deathless beauty, and in all the washings of all the generations it does not seem to come out or off.

I stay at home a good deal. It is so pleasant—and after so many years of the concurrences, of the displacements, the hastes and excitements of the great world, how I love this full leisure! After all, what is needed to make life interesting, I am discovering, is not action, but atmosphere, and that I have here.

The President is very ill. I am deeply disappointed that our audience has to be put off. I want to see the old régime, now decidedly tottering, in its accustomed setting. It appears he has an ulcerated tooth, and there can be no receptions, formal or informal, in the present state of affairs. Indeed, I have not seen "hide or hair" of any of the actual government. Doña Carmen, of whom I hear so many tales of goodness and tact, combined with the charming elegance of a woman of the world, seems adored by high and low, and is very Catholic. The not too drastic enforcement of the [30] famous "Laws of Reform" is said to be due to her influence.

I have been looking into the history of Mexico since the "Independence"—to try to get some sort of a "line" on governmental psychology. So much bloodshed has always attended a change of government here.

First came men like the priest Hidalgo and Morelos, his disciple, men of burning hearts and flaming souls. Then appeared a set of what to-day we would call intellectuals: Comonfort, Lerdo, Juarez are types. The long reign of Diaz was preceded by all sorts of upheavals, in which any one who had anything to do with government lost his life.

However, all this concerned the Mexicans alone. But now, with disorders menacing huge foreign interests, a new element of discord and complication comes in. As the generations renew themselves with certainty and promptness, in the end the blow to things industrial is the most serious; and don't think me heartless for stating this simple, cruel truth. Diaz seems at last pushed to the wall, and, of course, with him many foreign interests, which I understand are vital to the life of the country. He has had much wisdom, but the gods seem to have withheld knowledge of the very practical recommendation of one of the old philosophers about succumbing in time. He is supposed, however, to have promised his resignation, if his conscience lets him. He fears anarchy, and, of course, he knows his people very, very well.

Even I, stranger and alien, have a sort of feeling that if this revolution proves successful the "liberties" of the Mexican people will, as usual, get lost in the mêlée. Giuseppe Garibaldi is said to have received the sword from old General Navarro, when he gave it up at Juarez. Can courtesy to foreigners be carried further? The [31] Boston Evening Transcript had an amusing bit, particularly so to me, saying the difficulty of finding out what is happening in Mexico is that of telling which are the names of the generals and which those of the towns.

May 22d.

I am at home to-morrow, Tuesday, for the first time, to whomever it may concern, taking the day every other week, as seems the custom here. Besides getting settled I have begun laying siege to the Spanish language with my dictionary and my special system; I must learn to read it immediately. An old copy of De Solis is what I am "at" now, Historia de la Conquista de Mexico, printed in Amsterdam, beautifully bound in red leather with gold tooling, dedicated al Serenísimo Señor Maximiliano Emanuel Duque de las Dos Bavieras. I gloated over its title-page, and its "chaste and elegant style" makes easy reading.

The natural changes are so beautiful here. The day gives way to night without any twilight, but instead there is a sort of richly colored lining to the first darkness that has a suggestive, indescribable charm and mystery. When Mrs. Wilson and I drove home from the Casa de Alvarado yesterday a mass of amethystine shadows closed about us and all the world, and then in a moment it seemed to be night; but as I got out of the motor I found the darkness was rich in the same way some very old, glinting brocade would be rich. [32]


Mexico in full revolution—Diaz's resignation wrung from him—Memories of the "King in Exile"—President de la Barra sworn in—Social happenings—Plan de San Luis Potosí.

May 23d.

My first "Tuesday" was accompanied by a drenching rain, but the colleagues mostly showed up, noblesse oblige, each giving some rather disquieting items about the political situation, according to his special angle.

Mrs. Wilson, who always does what it is "up" to her to do, of course came. We are the only nation here having an embassy. All the others have legations or agencies of some sort, or have turned their affairs over to the most related friendly nation on the spot. It puts the Embassy in a position of continual supremacy as far as rank and importance go.

Mr. de Soto, the "Velasquez" of the French Legation dinner, came in late. He had spent last winter in Rome with the Duke and Duchess d'Arcos. The duke was Spanish minister here years ago. We talked of distant Roman friends. He has often been to Marie K.'s beautiful house. I shall enjoy seeing something of him. He knows Mexico in all its phases, and I find myself eager to turn the pages of this wonderful new chapter, which I feel should be written on maguey, not on mere paper.

May 24th, midnight.

Mexico is in full revolution, or, rather, in what seems the normal act of getting rid of the executive. At five-thirty [33] I walked back to the Embassy with Mrs. Wilson, from the Japanese Legation near by, where we had been dallying with the German and Belgian ministers on Madame Horigutchi's day.

The butler, watching at the door, rushed out to the gate when he saw us, in the greatest excitement, passing old Francisco, the Embassy gendarme, to say that five thousand people were making a demonstration in front of the Diaz house in the Calle de Cadena just back of the palace, and that there was going to be trouble.

My one and instant thought was to get back to Calle Humboldt, to Elim, the falling of an empire being quite a side issue. Just then the ambassador drove up in his motor, having come by a roundabout way from Diaz's house, where he had been making inquiries as to the President's health. He had just escaped being caught up in the mob.

I jumped into the motor, and he told Alonzo to take me home as quickly as possible. The growling, rumbling sound of a far-off mob is a disquieting thing, and I was trembling for my boy as I drove along. We had the thick doors of the courtyard entrance (the vestibule, or zaguán, as they call it) closed and barred, all the front shutters fastened, and soon were as snug as possible. Too snug to suit me, for, once my infant was safely barricaded, I felt the spirit of adventure rising.

N., who had been on an errand at the Foreign Office, where he heard the news, came running across the Paseo, thankful to find us all safely housed, with the further information that mitrailleuses had been placed on the palace roof, and that the police had fired on the crowd in the great square, who were shouting, "Death to Diaz!" many being killed and wounded.

Later on, about nine o'clock, with Dearing and Arnold, who were dining with us, we sallied forth to go to the [34] theater as we had planned. A drenching, torrential rain had come on. The streets along our route were completely deserted, the rain having dispersed the mob more efficaciously than the cannon. There were not more than a dozen people in the whole theater, "El Principal." The only inconvenience I had on that eventful night was being seated in front of three of our own compatriots, whose peculiar form of blasphemy got so on my nerves that I had us all change our seats before we could even try to listen to a farce on the order of "Pagliacci," without the killing.

As we came out there were no cabs to be had, not even a disreputable coche rojo, and we walked home down the Avenida San Francisco and the broad Avenida Juarez under umbrellas. The town had a general look and feeling of having been through something. All was barred and silent except a few broken shop-windows, whose owners had not been quick enough about their shutters. In the windows of one of the tea-rooms were piles of untouched cakes and candies. One had only to put one's hand out to get them.

Farther along, huddled up on the steps of the gaudy Spanish exhibition building, were two tiny Indian boys not more than five or six years old, so sound asleep that their little hands refused to close over the pennies we tried to give them. We finally put the money, not in their pockets (they did not have enough clothes on to have pockets), but behind their little backs. They have probably been cold every night of their lives, so damp stone steps and a rainy street could not prevent their slumbers.


Well, Madero is coming to change it all, to heal the antique sores of Mexico. "Ojalá" (God grant), as I have discovered they are always saying when they aren't saying, "Quién sabe?" I must put out my light. It [35] has been an exciting day. Even if you have not been fired on yourself, it's nervously disturbing to know that near-by people have been.

Ascension Day.

This morning the mob was shot down at the top of our street in the broad Plaza de la Reforma, between the Foreign Office and the statue of the Iron Horse. I felt myself not an innocent bystander, but a foolish one, as to the sound of quick-firing guns and screams I stepped out on the balcony and saw the mob running in all directions, some dropping as the guns placed by the statue turned with a horrible, regular slowness across the street.

N. had rushed home from the Embassy by a side way, hearing that our street was the scene of action. I felt we ought to do something besides remaining behind closed doors when that agony was being enacted; but I was told by N. and Mr. Seeger, who came up from his office below to see how things were going, that Americans in general and the Embassy in particular should keep out of the trouble. In fact, it wasn't our funeral. Police-attended stretcher-bearers appeared on the scene a little later, and the streets were cleared of dead and wounded.

N. sent a note to Limantour, to the Ministry of Finance, when things were at their hottest, thinking it might possibly suit his needs to be within our extra-territorial walls for a few hours. He sent back the most appreciative of notes, saying, however, that he had no alarm.

A day or two ago, standing at the window, I saw him come out of the ministry. There is a clean-cutness about him and his Gallic origin is written all over him in an unmistakable elegance. He is considered by friend [36] and foe alike to be absolutely incorruptible, and the only thing I have ever heard even whispered against him is that he is rich. However, the Romans that made the roads doubtless got rich, but they made the roads, which is what mattered to the Romans. On all sides are evidences of his taste as well as of his ability, for, besides creating modern financial Mexico and placing her on her golden feet, he laid out the park, he designed the uniforms of the mounted guards there, beautified many of the streets, and in a hundred ways helped to make Mexico City what it now is. The Paseo, the beautiful avenue leading for several kilometers from the "Iron Horse" to the park, was laid out during Maximilian's time, and was known as the Calzada del Emperador; and the beautiful eucalyptus-trees that adorn it were planted by order of Carlota—tempi passati.

May 25th, later.

All quiet again in the shade of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl. To-day at 4.30 Diaz's resignation was finally wrung from him.

There are picturesque tales of Doña Carmen standing, black-robed, by his side as he signed away his glory and power, and perhaps that of Mexico as well. A vast throng waited all day for the news before the closed doors of the Chamber of Deputies; but the mob is again simply a peaceful-appearing crowd, singing the national anthem and crying, "Viva Madero!" interspersed with an occasional "Viva De la Barra!"

I must dress for dinner at Hye de Glunek's, the Austrian chargé—the only invitation any one has accepted or given since some days. Mrs. W., who is always very kind, lends us the Embassy auto. One of the incidents yesterday was the looting of the pawnshops. I am afraid the Paris Herald will have blood-curdling [37] accounts of the goings-on, and I will send a cable to you, hoping it will get through. In the midst of life we are no more in death here than elsewhere, and it is all extraordinarily interesting.

May 26th.

The streets were completely deserted last night as we drove home from the very excellent dinner at Hye's, at which the German and Belgian ministers, the French chargé, the Spanish minister and his pretty daughter, the Romeros, et al., assisted. One sees no Mexicans of any political shade abroad these days, and the change of government has been effected mildly rather than otherwise, if one looks back over Mexican history. A few hundreds killed and wounded, a very few thousands of dollars damage done to property in town, and the great and long and glorious Diaz régime is a thing of the past. Mexico is to tread untrodden paths.

Robles Dominguez, who is Madero's representative here, has been dashing about the streets on a big black horse accompanied by his followers, all wearing the national colors on their hats, promising in the name of Madero everything on earth to the people gathered at the various points where he speaks. In many places the tramcars leading to the different suburbs were taken possession of by the mob, who rode free, to carry the good news "from Ghent to Aix." The cars everywhere were simply plastered with them.

Señor de la Barra was sworn in as President of the republic in the afternoon. No anti-American riots, which were at one time feared, though the ambassador and his staff had the pleasant experience of being hissed as they went to the Cámara for the ceremony. From the little balcony of the drawing-room I could see De la Barra quite plainly as he came down the Paseo, [38] bowing on all sides, grave, but amiable and dignified, in the presidential coach, and across his breast the green-and-white-and-red sash of his high office.

Glittering, blue-uniformed outriders with polished silver helmets preceded him, and the crowd was rending the air with "Viva De la Barra!" I saw De la Barra with my physical eye, but I was thinking of the great old Indian, the maker and molder of Mexico, who was wont to go down the broad avenue in that same coach to the sound of vivas, and wondering would they see his like again. I am sending you a post-card photograph of Maximilian in uniform, and Carlota in a blue dress with many pearls, which is not really so beside the point. Diaz helped to close that epoch. We now witness the closing of the Diaz epoch.[3] [39]

May 27th.

Though the mob turned into the tamest thing possible in mobs, and the revolution into the tamest thing possible in revolutions, I keep thinking how both did their work and how never again will Diaz drive up the beautiful Paseo, receiving the plaudits of the people. The town is busy preparing for the reception of Madero and for the elections. General Reyes is still feared by the new party. Madero said to one of our newspaper correspondents the other day that the only unfavorable thing in the Cabinet was the admission of General Reyes as [40] Minister of War, and that the members of the Cabinet and governors of states would be selected later by himself and De la Barra. It looks as if in the apportioning out of the plums the first seeds of discord will be sown in the new political garden.

Yesterday we went motoring with Mr. S. and Dearing over the great, beautiful hills to the west. Something like Italy and yet not at all like it in the feeling of light and color. For the first time I looked down on the city from a great height, seemingly on a level with the hills that hold the cup-like valley, and I saw again in all their beauty the two shining volcanoes flanked by the matchless hills. There was an immense exhilaration in the fitting of the mind to such a remote and gorgeous horizon, and suddenly I found it did not matter if it were peopled or not; it seemed quite complete, even humanly. There was a wonderful lightness about the air. Little puffs that one could not call wind came and brushed our faces with a brilliant yet feathery feeling. The Ajusco hills with their suggestions of brigands (I have not been thinking much of brigands since the tales of Raisuli and Perducaris and Miss Annie Stone) gave a "human" touch to the whole.

In going out of the city we passed through Tacubaya, a very attractive suburb with handsome houses hidden in great gardens, and an old palace of some archbishop; but the most interesting thing about it was the Indian market, spread out on the steep, cobblestoned highway. There was just enough room for the motor to pass between the mats on which were spread their wares. Great piles of pottery, bright rolls of cotton, were laid on squares of cloth, or little mats made of rushes, and there were infinitesimal groupings of eatables of various kinds, little piles of five nuts, or three oranges, or little heaps of melon-seed, or beans. [41]

Indians, picturesque beyond description, were bending, selling, buying, just as they have done since prehistoric days. It was the brightest bit of color I have ever seen, with the thread of Indian life that it was strung on. The Indians compose themselves into beautiful pictures everywhere, and further on the road was full of pottery-makers, bent beneath their huge loads, basket-makers, sandal-makers, women and children equally laden, going with their quick Aztec trot to their journey's end.

All was quiet in the little villages through which we passed. I wonder if they know something has happened to their Mexico?

May 29th.

In the revolutionary lull we have all been vaccinated, and I have been looking into the drinking-water question quite exhaustively.

I felt rather discouraged when the doctor suggested boiling even the mineral water, Tehuacan, from a place near Orizaba. In general the microbe question keeps foreigners busy, and more alarmed if they have children than the sound of artillery. One has to learn to live here. The food leaves much to be desired, and if we were delicate or gourmets, there would be a great deal of difficulty ahead.

Friday Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and the Embassy staff come for dinner, the first time I will have had any one except those dropping in informally. I don't know how it will turn out. There is a nice American range in the kitchen, but the cook, it seems, prefers the classic brasero, and a turkey wing to fan the coals. It is not as primitive as it sounds, however, for the brasero is a tiled affair and has holes on the top for saucepans. They say the American stove would make even the saints too hot. [42] How they produce the nice roasts or bake with the thing is a mystery to me.

However, the whole cooking business is beyond me, though I have put an embargo on riñones (kidneys). Every time there is a halt in remarks about the menu, Teresa suggests riñones, which I despise with my whole soul. I am not enthused by organs, anyway, as food. I would put an embargo on cabrito (kid), but stewed it's objectively one of the best dishes she prepares, and I would eat it under another name. A certain sopa de frijoles would be nice anywhere, and with slices of lemon and hard-boiled egg in it is really delicious, and recalls vaguely the thick mock-turtle soup of my native land. There is a "near" apricot, called chabacano, ripe at this season, but it's only "near," and there are quantities of small, fragrant strawberries.

At Hye de Glunek's I ate, for the first time, the very fine mango, in its perfection. The eating recalls stories of the original fountain-pen and the bath-tub, but the fruit is delicious, even the first time you eat it, with a slightly turpentiny, very clean taste, and cascades of juice. There is a way of sticking a single-pronged fork into one end, while you peel it with a knife, and then proceeding, which makes its consumption possible in public.

Photograph by Ravell

To-day we lunched with the British chargé in his temporary quarters, as the new Legation, which is going to be a delightful dwelling, built with some regard for latitude and longitude and altitude, is not yet ready for occupation. Hohler came to Mexico from Constantinople, and wherever he goes collects works of art. In his apartment were all sorts of quite beautiful, Oriental bric-à-brac and hangings, which, somehow, did not seem as Oriental here as they would in other places. Simon, the newly arrived French Inspecteur des Finances [43] of the Banco National, with a brilliant Balkan record behind him, was also there with his wife. They are "enjoying" the Hôtel de Genève, while awaiting the arrival of their Lares and Penates, stalled somewhere between Vera Cruz and Mexico City, and Madam S.'s maid is already down with typhoid fever.

Yesterday, when N. boarded the tram, a smartly dressed, handsome Frenchwoman had just got on with neither Mexican money nor vocabulary. He came to her assistance, and they felt quite like long-separated friends on discovering "who was who" at the luncheon. In the center of the table was a lovely silver bowl of old Mexican artisanship, filled with unfamiliar, theatrical-looking fruits. I compromised on a granadita, which is like a pomegranate in color and taste, but small and oblong in shape. Of course the "old hands" were trying to enlighten the new-comers, but it was rather the blind leading the blind. Nobody can tell what the gigantic political changes will lead to, or what this new wine of fraternity and equality, fermenting in the oldest of bottles, will do to their heads. A gentle joke as we got up from the table, about the pictures in last week's Semana Ilustrada (showing insurrectos burning bridges), to the effect that the national sport might soon prove to be la promenade, if artless, was more to the point.

There is a good deal of talk here about something called the "Plan de San Luis Potosí," apparently the building stones of a new Mexico. It's the manifesto Madero made at that town in the early stages of his revolution, a rather personal and arbitrary political document, in which he declares himself the mouthpiece of the nation's will, and pronounces the last election of Don Porfirio illegal. It was, as far as I can see—which is not, of course, very far—like all his other "elections." Madero finished by saying that the republic being without [44] a legitimate government, he assumes the provisional presidency. It's so simple it may succeed, and the Diaz government left a comfortable sum in the treasury to begin operations with, some sixty-five millions.

May 31st.

The "official" family dinner went off all right, so I am having the ambassador and Mrs. Wilson, Von Hintze, Hye, the Austrian chargé, and De Vaux to dinner on Sunday—eight in all. This is the limit, not of the table and the dining-room, but possibly of the handmaidens. Leclerq, who is departing for Brussels and the Foreign Office, has given me the use, till I have made other arrangements, of his table-silver. I do, indeed, sigh for the silver and linen in Vienna.

Madame de la Barra receives the Corps Diplomatique on Saturday afternoon. It will be her inaugural reception as first lady in the land, and, indeed, the first complete tableau of the chers collègues that I will have seen since our arrival. I suppose I will get a glimpse, at least, of some of the up-to-now invisible Mexican statesmen.

Life goes on here quietly, as far as I am personally concerned, but underneath it all there is the unmistakable beat and throb of changing governments, the passing of the old order, the beginning of the new, with all its potentialities. It is a many-colored background. I am sending an illustrated paper of the shooting done by the mob in my street, La Semana Ilustrada, which is printed at the other end of Calle Humboldt, as is also La Prensa, a newspaper belonging to Francisco Bulnes, the cleverest of the publicists here, and a star among the intellectuals. I am between the making of history and its annals.

The Courrier du Mexique and the Mexican Herald I read daily. The Courrier du Mexique et de l'Europe [45] (Ancien Trait d'Union) was founded in 1849, and has survived many vicissitudes and many governments. Its files would make strange reading, with their succession of political hails and farewells—or rather farewells and hails.

Gabrielle is doing very well, though she is suffering from Heimweh for Vienna. The Austrian chargé sends me accumulations of the Neue Freie Presse to sweeten what she calls "diese Mexico." The Indian maids are almost too good to be true. There's a dusting and a sweeping going on that would satisfy a better housewife than myself.

I am quite in love with my street—it has so much for the eye, so much to intrigue the imagination. As I told you, just opposite is the Finance Ministry. Endless motors belonging to the old and new régime and the intermediate, the Trait d'Union régime, fraternize in front of it. Diagonally across is the home of Diaz's son, Porfirio, who seems to have neither the talents nor the ambitions of his father. The house is a very Mexican-looking affair, though not after the good old models. It is a reddish pink, with superfluous cupolas and bay windows, all lined with pale blue. Great vines of the magenta-colored Bougainvillea, "the glory of Mexico," hanging everywhere, further enliven it. The tiny triangular garden also has various obstreperous and violent-colored botanical specimens.

A little farther down the street, however, is the real gem, for there I perceived, in passing, storied Spanish-American life being enacted. It's a low one-storied house with heavily grated windows, only a couple of feet up from the street. Behind that grating I actually saw a pink-robed señorita sitting, with a flower in her hair and a letter, which I knew must have been a love letter, in her hand, all just as it ought to be, as far as local color is concerned. [46]

The other night, hearing the sound of music, I stepped out on the balcony. Behold! there were the outlines of some kind of Romeo playing the mandolin, in front of that window. It's so complete, so ridiculously like what it ought to be, you will think I have added something, but you don't have to add anything here; it's always all there. That end of the street is where the offices of La Prensa and of La Semana Ilustrada are, and the little newsboys (papeleros) bring things quite up to date when they dash past crying out new editions.

The other end of the street, which is short, gives on the Plaza de la Reforma, where the new, handsome Foreign Office is, and the beautiful equestrian statue of Charles the Fourth of Spain, which Humboldt said could only be compared to that of Marcus Aurelius on the Campidoglio. There are two or three handsome houses belonging to Mexicans between me and the Plaza. The Suinagás', whose daughter is married to a French diplomat, and the Saldivars', next the Finance Ministry, are other houses in the good old style of several generations ago. In former days the streets were familiarly spoken of as calles de Dios (streets of God); pious, picturesque, but probably not resembling those of our eternal abiding-place!

(Secretary of the American Embassy, Mexico, 1911-1912)

(French Minister to Mexico, 1911)

(President ad interim of the Mexican Republic between Diaz and Madero)



First reception at Chapultepec Castle—First bull-fight—A typical Mexican earthquake—Madero's triumphal march through Mexico City—Three days of adoration

June 4th.

Yesterday we went to the De la Barras' first reception, a tea neither formal nor informal, at beautiful Chapultepec, lifted high up on the historic hill overlooking the city and the beauteous valley, in its gorgeous setting of mountains and volcanoes.

There is a pretty grotto-like modern entrance at the foot of the hill which takes visitors to the elevator, a shaft pierced in the rock, and from the darkness one steps suddenly on to the enchantment of the terraces with their matchless view. There is a winding road which takes longer, ending at the great iron gateway of the military school, and one must cross the broad terrace, where the cadets are walking about or drilling.

Madame de la Barra, herself a widow, the sister of the President's first wife, has only been married a few months, and is smiling, fair, and un-Mexican-looking, of Swiss descent. She was daintily dressed in some sort of beige chiffon with pearls about her neck, and had easy, pleasant manners.

There was no chance for conversation. The whole Diaz set, with very few exceptions, has vanished, not into thin air, but into retirement or Europe, and society will have to be reorganized from new elements. These new elements did not seem at first view to be very [48] malleable. A circle of iron, in the shape of ladies—old, middle-aged, and young—kept formed about Madame de la B., and I was wedged in, for quite a while, between a granddaughter of Juarez wearing, among other things, a huge and, it appears, historic emerald pendant, and a young, inquiring-looking woman. I mean inquiring for these climes, where external phenomena only remotely give rise to speculation. She was in a décolleté mauve passementerie-trimmed gown, with a train—what we would call an evening dress. The experienced foreign diplomats mostly kept outside the circle.

Mr. de la B. was moving about the beautiful flower-planted terraces, smiling, suave, homme du monde, as well as President of Mexico, but the skein from which he is to knit the national destinies is somewhat tangled. He and Mr. Wilson were colleagues in Brussels. Now the turn of the wheel has made him President, and Mr. Wilson ambassador.

Some of the well-seasoned foreigners were predicting immediate difficulties in the disbanding of the revolutionary forces, which seem to be composed of those who don't want to be disbanded, those who want to be disbanded immediately, and those who want to be bandits.

I must say I found it all very interesting—a little gem of a picture of life in Mexico. As a sudden darkness rose up from the valley, rather than fell from the sky, one of the volcanoes gone suddenly blue, the other still aflame, the gathering melted away.

June 6th.

Yesterday, Pentecost Sunday, I went to Mass in the cathedral where Maximilian and Carlota were crowned, and Iturbide and his consort. It is a large, ornate structure, though the lowish roof, earthquake height, I suppose, takes away from the effect of the interior. Three huge altars and a choir also combine to spoil the [49] perspective, but it is imposing and the outside is a lovely grayish pink. It is built on the site of the great Aztec temple, over countless images and remains of the teocali (temple), which the conquerors demolished as soon as they got their breath, after the taking of the city.

I found it full of a multicolored crowd. The Indians were most in evidence, but there were all sorts and conditions of people. Despite what is said to the contrary, the Church has an enormous influence on life here—on institutions, habits, and customs. The convents, monasteries, and seminaries were suppressed in 1859, and no one since has been allowed to leave money or property to the Church by will, but here as elsewhere there is no way to prevent the Church from getting rich. With a constantly renewing collection of individuals having no personal wants, concerned largely with the promises of another life, the aggregate of their activities through the ages will always be enormous in the way of mathematical progression; and I don't see in a free world why they haven't as much right to spend their money and energies that way as in the usual spending for personal and mundane aims.

In the afternoon we went to the bull-fight; it was De la Barra's first appearance at one as President of the republic, and a great occasion. The vast crowd was very enthusiastic. We saw every color of garment, every shade of face, every shape of hat, under the blue, blue sky. We de la haute, or, for that matter, anybody who can pay the price, sit in the shady side of the ring. The sunny half is occupied by dazzled, smiling Indians.

The President was greeted by the magnificently played national air, and the stirring of the great concourse as it rose, and the vivas, had a something impressive. A moment or two after, the entrada took place. [50]

Some beloved matador, whose name I don't know, was greeted with cheers that rivaled those offered to the President. He had on a gorgeous blue-and-gold cloak, resting on one shoulder, the body of the cloak caught up and held with the left hand on the left hip, leaving the right arm free. He was followed by other less-resplendent individuals (the men of his cuadrilla), and soon the ball really opened by the dashing out of the door of a splendid dark bull.

I hid my eyes at the goring of the horses, poor old Rosinantes that they were, ready for the grave, and other high-lights of the occasion. The President gave many purses. It was a very expensive afternoon, doubtless, but it will increase his political popularity. The gaily-dressed toreros would go up to the box after their special "coups," and, with uncovered heads, hold out their hats, and he would lean forward and present the purses. At one time the arena was covered by hats of all sizes and descriptions thrown by enthusiasts, and returned to them by the various bull-fighters. As you will suspect, however, "bull-fight me no bull-fights." It isn't one of those things that it will please me some day to have done, according to the Latin poet. I would like to sponge it out of memory.

The dinner here this evening was not a success. Perhaps the scent of the bull-fight hung around me still or perhaps the personal elements did not combine chemically. The dinner itself was all right. There is a delicious, fat-breasted quail (codorniz) to be had at this season. The conversation was of prophecies concerning the 7th, when Madero, the "Messiah," the "Bridegroom of Mexico," whom he is to lead into paths of peace and plenty, is to enter the city. I kept quoting:

"One man, with a dream at pleasure,

Shall go forth and conquer a crown."


June 7th.

This morning, at 4.30, the town was shaken by a tremendous earthquake. I was awakened by the violent swaying of the house, so violent that as I jumped up I could not keep on my feet. There was a sound as of a great wind at sea, and on all sides the breaking of china and the falling of pictures. Elim, who was fortunately sleeping in my room, awakened and clung to me, asking, "What is the matter with the ship?" N. was calling from his room and trying to open the door.

My first thought was that we were in some dreadful, mysterious storm, not of earthquake. When things had quieted down a little, and I could get to the window, I looked out. The streets were full of people in their night garments, in the most complete demoralization, some on their knees, others under the lintels of the doors. There was a groaning and a calling on God, accompanied by a still very sensible movement of the roof-line. Servants finally appeared, white and terror-stricken, with long, black hair floating down their backs and their shoulders, hunched up under their rebozos.

I was sorry for the damage done to the S.s' nice things—by shipwreck and earthquake. Our house is a good old house, strongly built in a firm quadrangle; yet the shape of my room at one moment was not square, but diamond-shaped!


I have just come back from a look about town. I saw the wrecked barracks in the Puente de Alvarado. Sixty soldiers were buried under the debris, and the ambulanciers were bringing out the silent, plaster-covered forms as we passed. A big warehouse at one of the railways was completely wrecked, but there was no loss of life as the employees, of course, were not there at that hour. Everywhere were great ruts and splits in the [52] streets, which looked, in places, as if they had been plowed up.

We took a turn through the Avenida San Francisco, gaily flagged like all the streets through which Madero is to pass. All Mexico seemed afield, despite the fact that we may have another "quake" at any moment. At the corner of the historic Church of La Profesa great crowds were gathered, looking up at the ancient dome and nave, rent in several places. Police were standing in front of the carved doors, in the Calle de Motolinia, to prevent the foolish, as well as the pious, from entering. It is very much out of plumb, anyway, having suffered from other earthquakes in other centuries, when, I suppose, the same sort of crowd gathered about it.

Everybody had a sickly, surprised, pale look, and many, it appears, suffer acute nervous attacks after such an experience. It is the biggest earthquake they have had here in several generations. Mexico City being built on boggy, spongy land is what alone has preserved it from complete destruction on various occasions.

Some speak of Madero's being heralded in by this convulsion of nature as a bad augury: others see in it a sign from heaven. I say, qui vivra, verra.

Madero was supposed to reach Mexico City at ten o'clock, and begin his triumphal march from the station through the great thoroughfares, down the Paseo, the Avenida Juarez, the Avenida San Francisco, to the palace; but it is now 2 P.M. and he has not yet come. As the day wears on the earthquake begins to be interpreted solely as a manifestation of Divine Providence in his favor. No soldiery out. This, I am told, is to show the mob that they are trusted by their champion and savior. It strikes me as a bit too trusting; if any excitement does arise among the mob, already [53] unsteadied by the earthquake shock, how will these people be controlled?


At three o'clock Madero passed down the Paseo. Our enthusiasm had somewhat abated after the long wait, but we stood up in a motor in front of our door, and could see the immense concourse acclaiming him. There was a great noise of vivas, mingling with shouts of all kinds, tramping of feet, and blowing of motor horns.

I could just get a glimpse of a pale, dark-bearded man bowing to the right and left. I kept repeating to myself: "Qui l'a fait roi? qui l'a couronné?—la victoire."

It appears that his departure from his ancestral home in Parras, and the journey down, have been one of the most remarkable personal experiences in all history. There were three days of continual plaudits and adoration, such as only the Roman emperors knew (or perhaps Roosevelt when he went through Europe).

People came from far and near, in all sorts of conveyances or on foot, just to see him, to hear his voice, even to touch his garments for help and healing. It appears he had a wonderful old grandfather, Evaristo, founder of what promises to be a dynasty, who died just before we came to Mexico, and who, it is said, had misgivings about the strange turn of the family fortunes.

Well, it is a curious experience to see a people at the moment of what they are convinced is their salvation, to see the man they hail as "Messiah" enter their Jerusalem. I can think of no lesser simile. The only thing they didn't shout was "Hosanna." The roofs were black with people along his route. Many threw flowers and green branches as he passed. As for the equestrian statue of Charles IV., in the Plaza, it was alive with people, who clung all over it, climbing to the top, sitting on Charles's head, hanging to his horse's tail. [54]

Madero could make no speech on his arrival here—loss of voice and sick headache, I see by the evening newspaper. The journey and this climax of his entry into the capital doubtlessly overwhelmed his mortality. The crowd, however, was too intent upon its own experiences to feel any lack. The "redeemer" was with them and his mere presence seems to have been sufficient.

June 8th.

It is after dinner; N. has gone back to the chancery. All doors and windows are open, and a cool, thin, dry night breeze, most lovely, is blowing in.

I sent a Mexican Herald about the temblor and the entry of Madero. The streets are not yet quiet, though the vivas for Madero have somewhat died down.

Even that crowd had its physical limits. I can't understand why, when the streets are burst open, great rifts everywhere, especially in the neighborhood of the Embassy, that there not a vase or a photograph was upset, though some heavy bookcases filled with books, in the basement, were thrown to the ground.

I am reading The Relations of Bernal Diaz, companion and chronicler of the Cortés expedition. It is quite the most romantic, realistic bit of literature I ever got hold of, and has, here on the spot, a double-distilled charm. I was interrupted for a day by the arrival of that other conqueror.

June 9th.

Knowing how anxious you would be, I cabled on the 7th; now comes your cable asking for news and an announcement from the cable office here that my cable has been returned. It appears the employee just omitted Zürich; the address, Waldhaus, he explained in the note, he thought would be enough—the effect of the earthquake on his brain, I suppose. [55]

It appears the New York newspapers said Mexico City was nearly destroyed. You must have been on the qui vive for two days. If the earthquake had been up to the newspaper account, you would doubtless not have heard.

People holding property here are not worrying about natural phenomena. The ever-increasing banditry all over the country, murders of people on isolated haciendas, and general dislocation of business and lawlessness are what worry them. A swift sliding down into the old pre-Diaz brigandage is feared. The slopes are so attractive to the dissatisfied and uncontrolled. Facilis est descensus.

Madero has publicly announced that he will encourage American investments, but that he will oppose all trusts and unjust concessions. It sounds almost too reasonable to be true. He made these statements from some place in the north when he promised to liberate all political prisoners and all prisoners of war. This revolution in Mexico has been full of contrasts, to say the least. Has any one ever seen such an anomaly as we witnessed here? The heads of a solid, recognized government turning over their offices to a relatively few armed opponents. I put it all on Anno Domini, not because so-called democratic principles have suddenly won a miraculous victory. The old dictator's hand was weakened by the stronger hand of time—and a "man with a dream at pleasure," etc.

Found your letter of May 26th on returning from a motor drive with Dearing and Mr. S. to a beautiful old town, Texcoco, where Nezahualcoyotl, the Marcus Aurelius of Mexico, lived.

Except the ancient sun-dial in the palm-planted Plaza, however, there is little to recall that civilization. A big church, built by the friars on the spot of the old temple, [56] was filled with the usual Indian population, sitting and kneeling with their children and their burdens, and as mysterious as that Cortés found worshiping Huitzilopochtli, or any of their other gods. The Indians are religious, rather in the Oriental sense, it seems to me, than in any way resembling ours. It is certainly not given to the lower-class Anglo-Saxon to kneel with intent, uplifted eyes, outstretched arms, motionless, before some reminder of an invisible God. It does not take us that way. It seems to be as much a part of the Indian's life, that going in and out of churches, as eating or drinking, and just as essential, and why that habit, which seems to compensate for so many things obviously lacking, should be a reproach to those who instilled it I can't see. It's all most interesting to me, fresh from Prescott and Bernal Diaz. A crumbling, picturesque monastery and inconceivably desolate, dusty seminary join the church where the friars used to teach. Oh, the poor friars! There is so little account taken of their ceaseless activities, of how they found a wilderness, dotted it with churches, schools, and hospitals, stamped it with a seal of matchless beauty, brought it out of the worship of greedy gods, human sacrifices, and abominations, counting no cost, and showed as best they might dim shapes of more benign powers. I can't see what all the hue and cry is about, all the revilings. We couldn't match the record. We have disfigured Mexico wherever we have set our seal. Frankly, I'm for the friars.

Photograph by Ravell

One enters Texcoco by a broad, broken street leading into the Plaza. Interspersed too liberally between the once handsome low dwellings are the pink-and-blue pulque-shops, with their fringes of colored tissue-paper. The names of these depositories of the licor divino are often curiously bound up with the history of Mexico, [57] and make you feel you have got hold of the "real thing." La Hija del Emperador[4] and La Reina Xochitl, a beauteous patrician, married to a Toltec king, go back to prehistoric days. El Gran Napoleon, with cocked hat and hand in his breast, painted almost life-size on a corner shop, was more picturesque than the one that had a hand in the making of their history. La Mujer del Moro gives the Moorish touch, and La Estrella del Mar recalls the buccaneers as well as the ages of faith. There was a very good one near the little viceregal bridge, with its battered coat of arms, just before we got into Texcoco, called Las Bergantinas, in memory of the spot where Cortés launched his brigantines in his attempt to take Mexico City, which then was only reached from Texcoco by water. I feel on quite intimate terms with the conqueror. It is Cortés here, and Cortés there, and Cortés everywhere. He put his seal on the whole country, and one walks quite intimately and enthusiastically with him. He was such a human sort of person, and with all his adventurous spirit very grand seigneur. Bernal Diaz tells how well and smartly he dressed, being very particular about his linen, under dark, rich garments, and inclining to a fine gem somewhere on his person, and how pleasantly he played cards, with little jokes running through it all. It reminds me of bridge evenings with the chers collègues. But all is historic on this lovely plateau. They can pull down everything and wash it in the most modern of blood, and the scent of ancient and adventurous deeds will hang round it still.

The valley was swimming in a sort of gauzy luminosity, not just light; the volcanoes, well washed yesterday afternoon, were at their most beautiful. We could not bear [58] to turn homeward and went out through the old town, which had also enjoyed a viceregal popularity, as fine old doors and glimpses of vistas into large courtyards showed.

These patios of Mexico are most attractive. One is forever peeking in through doorways of strange houses, where flowers, children, washing, mattresses, water-jars, dogs, sometimes a palm or a cypress, contrive to make something always alluring and mostly lovely. We lunched late in the auto, under the shade of some eucalyptus-trees, and then pressed on through the lovely hills and over meadow-bounded roads till we got to the little village of Magdalena, where an indescribable melancholy mingled with the slanting bronze afternoon light filtering through the shade of the old trees. A grassy Plaza, planted with cypresses and patterned with sunken escutcheoned grave-slabs, led to the pinkish-gray church with its lovely old Spanish doors. A crumbling, broadly scalloped pink wall, with flowers, vines, and spiky green things clinging to it everywhere, surrounded the whole. The warm, lustrous air fell about us like a lovely garment. It was a place of enchantment, where we seemed to clasp hands, for a moment, with a past age of exceeding beauty.

June 11th.

Now that the political excitements have calmed down, the dinners have begun again. The Italian Legation on Tuesday, the Japanese on Thursday (Madame Horigutchi is a Belgian), the Belgian minister the next day, and there is a dinner at the Embassy on Saturday. On the 22d the British chargé gives a coronation house-warming in the new Legation, which is not yet finished enough for him to really move into.

Yesterday was again Mr. Wilson's day, and very [59] pleasant. The handsome rooms were filled with roses in their last blooming. The rains wash them out at this season, and indeed at any season they must be plucked at sunrise or they quickly fade at this altitude. The buffet was lavishly spread, Mrs. Wilson dedicated a becoming blue dress, just arrived from Brussels, and I had on what the Mexican Herald kindly called this morning an "exquisite creation of painted chiffon."

The first visitor was Madame de la Barra, with her sweet manner and amiable, unstudied expression, also freshly and Frenchily garbed. I think she would like to branch out and do some entertaining during their short and uncertain tenure. The great castle, with its ravishing terraces, its large spaces, calls for functions. Mrs. Bedford made affectionate inquiries for you. Many of the colleagues came, and many Americans. There was a pleasant coming and going all the afternoon. Mr. James Brown Potter and Mr. Butler, who lives with him, came in late, further enlivening things, as seems to be their wont, and last the ambassador and N., just in from Saturday golf, which, at this season, politically and from the point of view of weather, is a more than usually uncertain game.

The murder of three hundred and three Chinamen at Torreon has made a great row. We were surprised and faintly amused to learn that China demands an indemnity of one million from Mexico. Has Chinese life ever been so high? The whole thing was a horror, however. Terrible atrocities were committed by the troops under Emilio Madero. The Chinamen were mostly market-gardeners peacefully cultivating vegetables in gardens back of their little houses, through which they were hunted and shot down like so many rabbits. There are other horrors related of tying them to horses headed in different directions, of babies on bayonets, etc. It is a [60] most regrettable little fling on the part of the "Liberating" Army. Madero, very averse to shedding blood, is said to be horrified at the occurrence.

It makes me sad to think that, after a century of blood, all is still before the Mexican people, who have left the seemingly solid land of the dictatorship and are headed straight for the mirage of an impossible equality.

June 14th.

Last night was the big dinner at the Italian Legation. Countess Massiglia is an American. I sat between Von Hintze, whom I like very much, and Mr. Brown, president of the National Railway. Dear Mrs. Harriman sent us a letter to him, saying we might need "sudden transportation."

Mr. B. is a power here, one of the twentieth-century conquerors and civilizers. Brains, energy, courage, have taken him far along his successful career, and, incidentally, helped to cover Mexico with railways. It was most interesting hearing at first hand how the curtain had been rung down on the Diaz epoch, for it was he who had arranged for, and been witness to, the tragic departure of Don Porfirio, in those dim, early hours of the 26th. A military train, in charge of some trusted general (Huerta), followed, escorting the illustrious chief from the earthly heights of destiny, in every sense of the word, down the declines of sorrow and old age, out to the great sea. [61]


Dinner at the Japanese Legation—The real history of the Japanese in Mexico—Dinner at the Embassy—Coronation services for England's king—The rainy season sets in.

June 16th.

Last night dinner at the Japanese Legation. A very elaborate and beautiful centerpiece arrangement of tiny lake and grove decorated the table, and the food was very good. That was the Belgian touch. They are used to la bonne chère. All the dinners now are a sort of hail and farewell for Von Hintze and ourselves newly arrived, and the departing Romeros, who have been here some time and are very popular.

There is always a lot of talk about the Japanese in Mexico, but their real history here, as I have discovered, is not disquieting. Some Japanese statesman (of course I forget his name) first conceived the idea in 1897 of starting coffee-plantations on a large scale in Chiapas. The pioneers were called "colonists," and were followed by "immigrants." All had bad luck with the enterprise at first, but by economy and industry finally got prosperous.

As for Horigutchi himself, amiable and intelligent and, of course, unusually intimate with the French language, it is said he knows how the Emperor of Korea died, pués quién sabe? At any rate, he is peaceful and smiling now, his Belgian wife is dressy and hospitable, and he has an interesting little daughter. The house is the usual compromise between good [62] Japanese things and expensive European ones, always painful to our esthetic sense, and doubtless to theirs as well.

Again I have waked up to this wondrous sun and these open windows, and the shining, flower-planted patio. Am having a little luncheon here. Von H. Stalewski, the Russian minister, Martinez del Campo, third introducer of ambassadors (he of the charming English), and the Simons and the French chargé. A magnificent blue Puebla bowl, such as were used in olden days for baptismal feasts, now very difficult to find, decorates the center of the round table, filled with red and purple sweet-peas—guisantes de olor they call them; fifty cents for the whole glory. All our cakes, ices, etc., are ordered from the Café de l'Opéra, kept by French people in the Avenida Cinco de Mayo, where the Mexicans drop in between five and eight for tea or chocolate or some sort of consummation.

Von H. is finding himself out of his natural orbit here. His eyes filled with tears when he said to me at dinner at the Italian Legation the other night: "I miss my friends." We were having a little exchange of sentiments and illusions. I imagine he is un sensitif, and it is a far cry from what we have had and known before. He has the world manner, varied official experience, and an unexplained personal equation.

There had been no diplomatic dinners for six months here on account of the troubles, and when everybody has had one things will settle down again.

June 18th.

Your letter saying you were thinking of the Pentecostal fires on the Umbrian hills, has come. I forget all pains, if pains there were, and am glad of that and all other experiences life has given us together. [63]

Mrs. Wilson goes to the United States next week for several months until her boys are settled in school and college. I shall miss her very much. Besides being one of the most admirable women I have known in public life, she is a pearl of a chefesse.

I have dwelt much on my easy, pleasant days here, surrounded by new beauty and new interests, books, companions—on this experience of an unknown land with nothing of the "pace that kills," nothing of the wearing "concurrence" of the great cities. In fact, I am experiencing to the full, in Elliott's phrase, "the comforts of the tropics."

Elim has been enticed into the tiniest and darlingest of pajamas on the ground of being ready for the next earthquake. For some reason or other he had clung passionately to his little nighties.

June 21st.

A delightful dinner at Mrs. Wilson's last night, everything bearing the special dainty touch of the embajadora. The table was a mass of La France roses and violets, and the pink-shaded silver candelabra emerged from light clouds of pale-pink gauze. Large and deliciously prepared langoustes, very difficult to get here, formed the pièce de résistance of the dinner, which was most lavish throughout.

On Mrs. Wilson's right was Rafael Hernandez, first cousin of Madero, a very handsome man of about thirty-five, with dark eyes and flashing white teeth and brilliant coloring. Every now and then you come across some one here with what we could call a "complexion," and you never forget it.

I am interested in seeing the members of the coming dynasty appear on the political stage. Hernandez, a lawyer of repute, is now Minister of Justice. I sat between Mr. Lie, the Norwegian minister, who is a son [64] of the author, Jonas Lie, and we talked a bit of Scandinavian literature. I read only last winter his father's great, sad book, Les Filles du Commandant. I had known him slightly in Berlin, when he was military attaché, before what we used to call the "divorce" of Sweden and Norway. Hohler was on my other side, and between courses we did quite a tidy bit of confidential journeying on the political chart. He is ready to crown King George and Queen Mary to-morrow at the new Legation.

June 22d.

This morning we went to the coronation service for the King of England and Emperor of India in the English Church. The thought of the same prayers going up everywhere for him on whose dominions the sun never sets was solemn and imposing. The Te Deum, preceded by the Litany beseeching the Lord to have mercy on miserable sinners, alone kept it in the note of mortality. The town is flagged, and, though we had no king in person, we had the most royal weather.

Several hundred people were at the reception, all the chers collègues, various members of the government, and the British colony, of course, with a certain number of curios, such as all colonies produce on national occasions. The Legation is not yet furnished, though the chancery is in full blast, and Hohler has his study most comfortably arranged with a lot of his own good things. He has just found an old Spanish cabinet—a mass of ivory, mother-of-pearl, and silver inlay—that makes you wish you were a burglar.

At five o'clock President de la Barra, very smiling and spick and span, arrived, accompanied by his staff. He was welcomed by the national hymn played with much spirit by an excellent orchestra. Others of the government were Emilio Vasquez Gomez, Ministerio de [65] la Gobernación (Interior), and Mr. and Mrs. Pimentel y Fagoaga (Mr. P. is a banker and president of the city council). Mr. Creel, former ambassador to Washington, white-haired, pink-complexioned, un-Mexican-looking, I also met.

Later General Reyes appeared, once, possibly still, the idol of the army. You can never know here, for between sunrise and sunset the victorious hero can become a hunted fugitive. There is something about General Reyes, with his upstanding mien, long, white beard, shrewd eye and air of experience, which would not have fitted badly into the presidential frame. I am told there was a psychological moment when fate was ready for him, but now it is too late; other forces have crystallized.

Everybody was making the rounds of the Legation, which is going to be most attractive and convenient, the only fly in the ointment being the garden. During the building large quantities of lime and all sorts of unproductive refuse were left about, and Hohler thinks he will have to change the whole soil. Up to now nothing save the irrepressible but beautiful pink geranium has been willing to grow.

I was borne, with the French chargé, on a steady tide, setting through the long, unfurnished dining-room, to a temporary grotto-like inclosure, the walls of which were lined with palm-trees and hung with the Union Jack, where the refreshments were served. I heard a little joke going around with the punch among the somewhat homesick colony, "Can you hear the crowns settling on the brows of King George and Queen Mary?" It mingled harmlessly with the congratulations and hand-shaking and health-drinking of a very pleasant and, one hopes, auspicious occasion. In London the sun had long since set on the actors in a new page of England's history. [66]

June 25th.

There is no doubt about the rainy season having set in. Rain fell yesterday during three hours in drenching sheets that darkened the city. I could scarcely see across the street; but I had the lights turned on and proceeded with Prescott's Conquest, not read since years. I am entranced by his vivid, flowing style and the wealth of reference and learning. The very initiated have said that it is not all true, but if it isn't it ought to be, it's so good. The copy I am reading was published by Galignani in Paris in 1844, and must be a first edition, as his preface bears the date, "Boston, October 1st, 1843."

In a small section of the bookcase near my divan, where I sit or rest or where the tea is brought—where I always am, in fact—are the poets. I can reach out and refresh myself with almost any of them. There is a set in that old-fashioned blue-and-gold binding, such as you used to have (1878 is its date), containing Shelley, Keats, Byron, Tennyson, Longfellow, Whittier, Mrs. Hemans, et al. But they are only a few of the denizens of the "poets' corner." Palgrave's Golden Treasury is the first book on the first shelf.

Peter and Paul's Day, June 29th.

The saints' days follow quickly here. Also I find that instead of indifferentism the churches are packed with men, women, and children on all occasions. Am now waiting for Madame Chermont, the agreeable American wife of the Brazilian secretary, and we drive to Chapultepec Park with our children and listen to the music. A fine military band plays by the largest of the natural lakes, and it is the great morning rendezvous of Mexico City. The two boys will disport on the grass and incidentally have a few "good" fights plastered in [67] between the gentler occupations of catching butterflies and picking flowers.


I made calls all the afternoon, two violent thunder-storms enlivening the getting in and out. At Madame Lie's an almost terrifying darkness fell, lasting for an hour or so. The lights were turned on, but we all continued to look like specters, with an unnatural, lusterless saffron light filtering in at the windows, showing the Indian butler coming and going quietly with the tea things, and lighting up delicate sprays of yellow-brown orchids from the Hot Country on the table in some Scandinavian silver vases. At six o'clock, as I came home, the volcanoes appeared like heaps of purest gold piled against the blackest of clouds.

San Pedro y Pablo seems to be celebrated here by the giving of toy pistols, and other noisy weapons, to children. There was more or less "popping" going on all the morning. For some reason there is a legend to the effect that the devil roams abroad on this day seeking whom he may devour.

I thought of San Paolo Fuori le Muri and the celebrations in the great Basilica, and the Roman world on its way out of the Porta San Paolo past the pyramid of Caius Cestus and the grave of Keats.

June 30th.

Your earthquake letter received. Remember, the Paris Herald has to live.

We see a good deal of the ambassador, and also of Dearing, clever and courageous. When the ambassador will leave I don't know; but we do know the greatest benefit a chief can confer on his first secretary.

Dearing is trying his hand at translating Mallarmé, and last night we were turning the "Frisson d'hiver" [68] round about, but we didn't do to it what he did to "The Raven."

It begins: "Cette pendule de Saxe qui retarde et sonne treize heures parmi ses fleurs et ses dieux, à qui a-t-elle été?"

We dine at the Austrian chargé's to-morrow. Everything always very soigné. He has an Austrian cook, I believe, and a pleasant mania for cleanliness. He will soon be leaving, as Baron Riedl from Rio Janeiro, his cousin, is appointed minister here. You remember him and his American wife from Rome.

I am sending a huge bundle of zarapes, dull blue and white, sewed up in canvas—so nice for the garden, and for Elliott on his terrace. [69]


Speculations as to the wealth of "the Greatest Mexican"—Fourth of July—Madero as evangelist—The German minister's first official dinner with the Maderos as the clou.

July 1st.

There are great speculations as to Diaz's wealth, and millions are put to his account with a light hand.[5] Some say he has twenty millions in Spain, in Paris, in Wall Street. I am sure I hope he has feathered his nest—both he and Limantour. As I remarked before, the Romans that made the roads probably did, but they made the roads. There is a not-negligible quantity in Mexico, in abeyance for the moment, which is very suspicious and uncertain, not of the honesty of Madero (all parties allow that), but of his ability to handle the situation, which demands civic talents of a high order.

President de la Barra has a pension plan which will [70] doubtless give him much trouble, as it will have to include all of Mexico, or those left out will know why. As was observed by some one the other day, the more the Mexicans try to change Mexico the more it remains the same thing.

Practically new electoral methods are to be tried out, and how Madero, unless he has a secret flair for civic matters, is to solve them is what we are all waiting to see. The people's ears are full of promises. The government would promise the snow of Popo—anything; but there is a ditty being sung about town now that gives one food for thought:

Poco trabajo, Little work,
Mucho dinero, Much money,
Pulque barato, Cheap pulque,
Viva Madero! Long live Madero!

It's a bit wabbly for founding a government on, but doubtless represents very accurately the dreams of the pelados (skinned ones), as the peons are called.

You speak of the subscriptions for the earthquake relief here. It was not a national disaster. National disasters take other forms in this latitude. Scarcely a ripple is left, and as for the money to repair the city and close the splits in the streets, the municipality gives that and the contractors jump for joy.

I do not minimize the dangers here, but, of course, I don't draw highly colored pictures, being sure of your interest in any statement of facts, however plain they may be. I have rarely felt safer anywhere than in Mexico City; certainly never more comfortable and continually interested. We often walk home after dinners or bridge. The clean-washed air is so refreshing after being in rooms, however large, at this altitude. The gendarmes stand at every few crossings with their [71] lanterns. The streets are deserted, dry, and clean. There is no Nachtleben. The program is here early to bed, early to rise, and the thrice-blessed siesta to renew the day.

I am sending off a delightful book by Flandrau, Viva Mexico. It has the real sparkle and "feel" of this magnetic land. How true a word he spoke when he said, "One does not go to Latin-America just to see what it is like, or because one has seen it before and chosen to return, but because circumstances in their wonderfully lucid way have combined to send one."

I have just had a letter from the King of Denmark. You know how promptly he always answers, la politesse des rois. But the old Copenhagen days with their blues and grays and Aryan ways of thought and habits of life are immeasurably remote from these, not only geographically and in time, but psychologically.

The other evening at the Arbeu Theater, where Virginia Fabregas, an old favorite here, was playing, my eye was suddenly arrested by the profiles as I looked from the box down a row of seats. They were so diverse, so strange, like those one comes across on the ground floor in the corner rooms of museums—Mongol, Indian, Aryan. There did not seem to be any one type. It was just a patchwork loosely sewn together, the bits coming out of unknown generations from the desires of the four corners of the earth.

July 3d.

The rainy season bat son plein. Immense quantities of water are thrown down from the heavens between three and six every day, after which it has always cleared, with the exception of that historic evening when the mob was "out" to destroy the creator of its present Mexico. How quickly republics, not alone this strange Indian republic, put away their great! It is [72] most discouraging to one desirous of finding all good things in that form of government.

I have finished De Solis. Also I have "read" a grammar, and, of course, there are the servants, instillers of that rather patchworky thing called kitchen-Spanish, and there are the newspapers. A teacher is coming next week. I haven't yet felt like mapping out any special plan of study, being in readiness at certain hours, but am enjoying the "simple life" thrown against this colorful background of a colorful race in revolution.

Only two dinners this week, at the Brazilian chargé's, and on Sunday the German minister gives his first dinner. He has taken a large furnished house in the Calle Liverpool, very expensive and suitable, as far as space goes, for a Legation. It belongs to a wealthy Mexican who was seduced, however, by art nouveau. Large hat-racks and high jardinières in the form of giant pansies in natural colors furnish the great hall and testify to his ruin.

Von H. endeavored to strike some sort of average by hanging some beautiful rugs from the square railing of the second story. His good furniture from Europe arrived in such a state that he said nothing was needed, as case after case was unpacked, but brooms to sweep out the debris.

July 4th, evening.

Our Fourth-of-July celebration took place at the Tivoli Eliseo in the Puente de Alvarado, which is like any picnic ground anywhere (unless you look up at the matchless sky). There was the usual accompaniment of pink lemonade, peanuts (called cacahuetes here), and brass bands. There was a luncheon with speeches which would have stirred my national soul more if I weren't still in a half-dream at finding myself in this strange and gorgeous land. As I was leaving the festive scene word [73] was passed round that Madero was coming and would speak.

I stood on the outer fringe of the crowd, which I did not try to penetrate, and found it most interesting to see, even at a distance, the evangelist "evangelizing." Madero's face, so familiar in photographs, and which seems featureless but for the broad forehead and black, pointed beard, becomes illuminated as he speaks, and his gestures are continuous, the voice soft, with a smooth flow of words. I could not catch what he said, but I knew it was his work of hypnotizing Mexico.

A more material diversion, N. told me, was created later by a cock-fight, forbidden by the police, but secretly adored, which took place in a little inclosure. There is no doubt about that animal being in every sense the cock of the Mexican walk. He is the only beast really cherished by them. He even shares the precious hat, and his idiosyncrasies and caprices are tenderly studied. When he fights little knives are tied onto his legs, which is why the sport, though brilliant, is short as far as the cock is concerned.

I keep wondering how Madero can "divide up the great estates" and deliver them to that unknown, and here even unlabeled, quantity, "the people." According to the Plan de San Luis Potosí, it would seem as if Mexico were a cake one had simply to cut into and then pass around the slices.

There is an underlying excitement in the European contingent of the Diplomatic Corps. The sending of the Panther to Morocco looks like one of those Franco-German incidents that we were familiar with when in Berlin, and may lead to real difficulties.

July 8th.

To-day what started out to be a little golfing lunch, gathered together by N. in the sunny morning [74] hours when it seems it will never rain again, turned into a sort of disputa about many things, within four walls. A tremendous hailstorm came up and darkened and nipped the town, so the "foursome" sat long talking, the water pouring from the roof. Leclerq, Koch, and Nacho Amor are all cultivated, agreeable young men. Amor was educated at Stonyhurst, and has the soft, pleasant voice and delightful English of Mexicans who have passed young years in England.

As I write, near and very brilliant stars, under which I was not born, are shining into the patio, and in a moment I must go and walk about the inner veranda and look up into that dazzling bit of heaven in the square frame of the house. If it were only not so far and unsharable with my beloved ones!

July 10th.

Last night the German minister gave his first big dinner, at which the Maderos, making their début in official international life, were the clou. We arrived as it was striking eight, but the Belgian minister, whom we met going in, said they had already arrived.

I found the large room rather full, with a hitherto unsampled Mexican contingent. Von H. was standing by the door, near the Maderos, and we were presented almost immediately. Madero, seen at close range, is small, dark, with nose somewhat flattened, expressive, rather prominent eyes in shallow sockets, and forehead of the impractical shape. But all is redeemed by expression playing like lightning over the sallow, featureless face and his pleasant, ready smile.

(1911 to 1914)

He speaks French and some English, preferring the former, but lapses continually into Spanish, his ideas coming too fast for a foreign medium, and he uses many gestures. There is something about him of youth, of hopefulness and personal goodness; but I couldn't help [75] wondering, as I looked at him during the dinner, if he were going to begin the national feast by slicing up the family cake.

Madame Madero might be a dark type of New England woman with a hint of banked fires in her eyes. There is a sort of determination in the cut of her face, which is rather worn, with an expression of dignity. She, too, is small and thin, and was dressed in an ordinary high-necked black-and-white gown, a narrow "pin stripe," with the most modest of gold brooches holding the plain, high collar. She gives an impression of valiance without any hint of worldliness, or desire for any kind of flesh-pot. I pictured her at Chapultepec, and somehow could not fit her in as châtelaine of that high-standing palace.

Of course all the other guests were in their best "bib and tucker." I wore that "Spitzer" white satin with the floating scarlet and black tulle draperies. It seems very magnificent here; but in Paris, at Madame Porgès's great dinner, and at the Russian Embassy, the train did not seem quite so long and slinky, nor the drapery so tight around the ankles, as the dresses of the wonderful Frenchwomen.

As we went into the dining-room I saw, a mile off, the unmistakable name O'S. by Madero's, and naturally thought it was for me. I sat down, then had to take my appointed place quite a good deal higher up by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. So disappointed. It was N., however, who was to help him fill the "suburbs" of the table. Countess Massiglia presided; on her right was the Minister of Foreign Affairs; then I came; then an elaborately uniformed but, as far as I was concerned, anonymous military gentleman whose card was under his napkin—which he did not use.

The Maderos are reputed enormously wealthy; their [76] wealth is mostly invested in lands, however. I understand Madero spent all the available family cash on the revolution, though he told N. last night that no revolution had ever been carried through so cheaply from the standpoint both of men and of money.

Von H. does things very well. The courses were accompanied by wines of special, rare vintages, and his dinner was lavishly and handsomely presented. He has the same majordomo that the Towers had in Berlin—that huge, blond man (I forget his name). I asked him how he liked Mexico; he permitted himself the hint of a sigh, and said it was not Berlin, adding, "Aber es giebt nichts zu machen."

Madame Madero was placed between the Italian minister and the Austrian chargé, our host having the wife of the Norwegian minister on his right and Madame Romero on his left. N. said Madero was very militaristic, considering he was come to bring peace, and somewhat suspicious of the United States.

On the other side of Madero was that anomaly, a Mexican vieille fille, whose name I did not get. I supposed she belonged to one of the two or three elderly military men present. N. suggested to Madero his falling in with the views of the United States in the regulating of claims, and he said the following in French, "You Americans always act on the presumption that we Mexicans are always in the wrong." N. said this was à propos of his remark, "Now, Mr. Madero, you are going to be President, and I know when your government gets in you will clear up all matters pending between the two countries, and let us begin with a clean slate."

There had been some discussion among us all as to how Madero should be seated at table. He was the undoubted next President, the leader of the Ejército Liberatado, but actually at the moment he was without [77] official status of any kind, and could not be placed above plenipotentiaries with their definite ranking.

Von H. cut the Gordian knot, rather informally, by putting him next N. "so that they could have a talk," which they did!

Handsome young De Weede turned up yesterday, having made the ascent of Orizaba, a great feat. He came down in a dreadfully burned condition, however, and spent some days in bed attended by a physician. He is the son of our friend, the Dutch minister in Vienna.

He returns there as first secretary with his father, regretting Washington very much.

He had seen the Hitts in Guatemala, and showed me photographs he had taken of their house with its lovely patio, fountained and flower-planted. The roughly paved street gave the outside a desolate look which it doubtless has not really got under that sky, as blue as this. It was so nice to see De W. again, and the "welkin rang" with reminiscences of the Kaiserstadt and the happenings of our mutual friends.

July 12th.

Von H. has been criticized for having had Madero at a formal dinner, where he could not have the first place at table, being the Liberatador and more than all the others put together. However, I imagine it is those who were not at it who felt critical. I inclose the menu. Apart from the huachinango, the wonderful Mexican redsnapper, the fish that Indian runners used to bring up on their backs from Vera Cruz for Montezuma's delectation, it might have been a handsomely presented dinner anywhere in the world.

This morning I took De W. to the museum to look over the treasures, pre- and post-Cortesiana. The building forms part of the Palacio Nacional, some of which dates [78] back to the great captain, and it was the celebrated Casa del Estado during the viceregal period. The old colonnaded patio is a beautiful receptacle for a flooding sun, as well as the altars and carvings of a bygone civilization. In the middle are the Sacrificial Stone, and the great Calendar Stone, which has contributed more than anything else to give the Aztecs their reputation for scientific achievements. They adjusted their festivals by the movements of the heavenly bodies, fixed the true length of the tropical year, etc.

For some generations after the discovery of the Calendar Stone in the subsoil of the Plaza it was cemented onto one of the towers of the cathedral, and only in the eighties was removed to the museum. The Piedra de Sacrificios is appalling when one thinks of its origin and use; but with an extremely handsome young man leaning against it, under that warm sun, in that mellow old courtyard, it was not, for the moment, so dreadful to contemplate. Its true home was the top of the great temple, and there Cortés found it.

During the siege of the city the conquerors, watching from afar, are said to have sometimes seen their own captured comrades led up the great stairway to the stone on which they were placed, their chests opened with a special razor-like knife made of obsidian, the palpitating heart torn out, held for an instant toward the sun, this sun, and then flung at the feet of the god of war. Huitzilopochtli, the aforesaid god, is a huge block of basalt, half man, half woman, who was "born" just as one sees him now, with the addition of a spear in the right hand, a shield in the left, and on his head a crest of green plumes, going Minerva one better. Thousands were sacrificed to him yearly under this wondrous sky, enfolded by this softly penetrating, vivifying sun. [79]

Afterward we went up and saw the "Maximiliana" for "Auld Lang Syne," not much nor very interesting—a huge amount of cristofle silverware and the saddle used by the unfortunate emperor when he was captured at Querétaro (May 15, 1867). The pictures of Maximilian, one on a dashing white charger, show him a full-lipped, blond-bearded, blue-eyed Austrian obviously unable to cope with the Mexican political situation. Carlota, in pale blue and pearls, hangs by him. These portraits are by Graefle, the Viennese court painter of the period. Napoleon the Third, the cause of all their troubles, hangs near with Eugénie—a copy of the Winterhalter portrait of her, I think.

We took a look at the relics of Juarez, the "man in the black coat," as the only Mexican ruler that didn't wear uniform is called. The plainest of civilian garb of the late sixties was in the vitrine, and near by was the bed in which he actually managed to die. This last, as far as I can see, is unique among Mexican relics, Mexican public men not having the habit of dying in bed.

Dearing has gone away, on three months' leave, and N. is at his desk.

I must stop and take my baby on my lap. He has been standing by my side, saying, "Dy will be done." He is being taught various prayers, and repeats them on all occasions. He is waiting with a bit of blotting-paper to blot my letter, which I am sure he will do, and wants to know if you got the last thousand kisses.


These past two days I have lunched at Coyoacan. Yesterday at the house of some American friends of the ambassador's—the Becks—who are charmingly situated in a huge old house surrounded by a great, tall-treed garden, and filled with lovely old things. Mr. Potter, [80] who is down here to watch over large interests of his own and other people's, is most witty and entertaining, and with his friend, Mr. Butler, went with us. The day before Mrs. Laughton, who had met De Weede, asked us all for lunch at the Casa de Alvarado. I was glad to show him some more "local color," and that beautiful old house is simply oozing with it.

After lunch we went into the garden for our coffee, while Elim played with Mrs. Laughton's two little children; but, even with young voices sounding, a soft sun shining upon lovely flowers, and sipping coffee under the pleasant shade of the rose-grown arbor, the garden is eery and melancholy-inducing.

On our way back we stopped at the Zócalo, and went to the Academia San Carlos, the national picture-gallery, Academia de las Nobles Artes de Mexico, as it was called under the viceroys. It has a huge collection of plaster casts which cost the king several hundred thousand pesos. Do you see the "Laocoön," the "Apollo Belvedere," the "Young Hercules," etc., being brought up on Indian backs from Vera Cruz? The patio and corridors were full of scaffolding and plaster scrapings as we passed in.

Humboldt speaks of seeing great halls lighted with Argand lamps, evidently then the dernier cri of illumination, and the Indian, the Mestizo, and the son of the "grand seigneur" side by side, drawing and modeling from the antique molds. Tolsa, the celebrated artist of the "Iron Horse," taught here.

We took a glance only at some of the boresome, well-painted academic modern canvases, which made us feel like dashing into the street to get some real pictures. The rooms where the early Mexican painters, the Echave brothers, Cabrera, etc., hang were closed for repairs or cleaning. Indeed, the whole place was at sixes and [81] sevens, each object plastered with from two to five numbers. As we had "met" most of the casts in European museums, it didn't matter. We walked up the gay Avenida San Francisco and stopped in at "El Globo," a café much frequented from this hour on. On coming out De W. took photographs of the Jockey Club, its blue and yellow tiles particularly brilliant against some threatening rain-clouds, and some others of the charming entrance to the old Church of San Francisco opposite; he said they could be hung as "Sacred and Profane Love." We got back to Calle Humboldt as the heavens opened and deluged the town.

General Crozier, just arrived from Washington, came in the darkest and wettest hour. Such an unexpected pleasure! There are not many Americans to visit Mexico this summer. All the people who used to come in their private cars and bring a note of home and gaiety are conspicuous by their absence. There is no way of heating the houses, and sometimes during the rainy hours there is a cold dampness which is very penetrating. Stirring the embers of old acquaintance and talking of "home" happenings was a very pleasant way of alleviating the temperature this afternoon.

July 17th.

Don't fear that I shall do anything rash about going to Tehuantepec in the present state of things. I have even given up the trip to Puebla. They are fighting and killing there again, and in Calle Humboldt they are not.

Notwithstanding the press, which has its liberties and the smiles of the government, things are not really very stable. Aunt L. writes that San Gerónimo has been filled to overflowing with refugees from Juchitan, the county-seat, twelve miles away. The feeling there between the Maderistas and Porfiristas is very bitter, and has just culminated in an uprising of the Indians [82] against the new Federal authorities, who had to fly for their lives from a howling mob of two thousand Indians armed with rifles, clubs, and machetes. The Federal General Merodia made no resistance, but came with the civil authorities of the government to San Gerónimo, giving the mob no excuse for sacking and robbing Juchitan. Every house in San G. is full, and furniture piled in the street. It seems to me no one but the Mexicans will be surprised that the overthrow of Diaz has not brought about the millennium.

De Weede,[6] who departs this evening for Vienna via the Grand Cañon and the Yellowstone Park, has just been squeezed into N.'s frock-coat and top-hat (not carrying such impedimenta himself) to call on the President. The Dutch minister lives in Washington.

General Crozier comes for dinner on Wednesday. We have just lunched at Stalewski's (the Russian minister's), and he served the delicious blinis with caviar that all expect when lunching there. He often takes remote journeys into the interior, coming back with a silver ingot and curious bits of carving. The diplomatic species always dream dreams, and his is to tread again the streets of Berne. In the evening Captain Sturtevant, our military attaché, gives a dinner at the American Club for General Crozier.


I have spent a last delightful evening with Prescott, and Humboldt is waiting in five attractive, clearly printed old volumes, Paris, 1811, that Mr. de S. brought me yesterday. Now, just a century after, I am to turn the pages. I have also some volumes of Alaman, who brings things down to 1846.

I forgot to speak about my Spanish teacher, [83] with whom I have been studying as well as "Castellano." Her mind is about as mobile and receptive as a tin saucepan upside down, and she is always late. Sometimes her watch stops, sometimes the tramcar won't stop, sometimes she forgets her purse or her keys, and has to go back, etc.

She is still young, heavily powdered, insistently perfumed, big-busted, tightly laced, tightly skirted, and keeps a very short foot in a tight, high-heeled slipper in front of her. She hates the sun, as I discovered when I tried to have the first lessons in the sunny corridor.

This morning she told me in a lackadaisical, dreamy way that the noise of the typewriter (she has some sort of afternoon office work, for which she is doubtless totally unfitted) was not good for her; that she had been thinking over things, and had concluded that, if I would arrange it, introducer of foreign ladies to the President's wife was what she was fitted for. She said I probably did not realize what temptations the despacho office offered.

I dare say she has met a few devils in her day. She wound up by saying that the society of ladies would be less of a strain. It was all done quietly; she has evidently dreamed dreams. She did not streak her face when she wept, dabbing her large black eyes carefully with a coarse lace handkerchief drenched with cheap scent. I explained as gently as I could that the position she was thinking of was filled by the chef du protocole. Though, without doubt, her life is completely commonplace, she gave me the feeling of really not understanding anything at all about her, and that is one of the charms of Mexico. An illusion of elusiveness is continually presented that keeps one on the chase for the pleasure of the chase. You never get anything or anywhere, but your interest is kept up—which, after all, is the great thing. [84]


The old monastery of Tepozotlan—Lively times on the Isthmus—The Covadonga murders—The Chapultepec reception—Sidelights on Mexican housekeeping—Monte de Piedad

July 21st.

Yesterday General Crozier, Mr. de Soto, and myself motored out to the old church and monastery of Tepozotlan. The morning was indescribably white, with a dash of diamond-powder on its lovely face, and from the very door every turn of the wheel took us over historic ground.

We turned down the celebrated Puente de Alvarado, where the dashing captain for whom it is named is supposed to have made his great leap on July 1st, the date of the retreat of the Noche Triste, when the Spaniards were fighting their way out of this same road, the Tacuba causeway, to the hill where the Church of the Virgin of the Remedies stands. We passed the famous Noche Triste tree, which those who live here view with composure and indifference, but which still excites the new-comer. And what's the use of an imagination if one can't be stirred by the picture of Cortés sitting under the great cypress and weeping as he took note of gap after gap in the ranks of the companions of his great adventure?

There is an old romantic verse that I picked out the other day, instead of preparing verbs, picturing Cortés sitting under the great tree, one hand against his cheek, the other at his [85] side:

En Tacuba está Cortés

Con su escuadron esforzado.

Triste estaba y muy penoso,

Triste y con grande cuidado,

Una mano en la mejilla

Y la otra en el costado, etc.

In Tacuba was Cortés

With his most valiant squadron.

Very sad and much distressed,

Very sad and greatly anxious,

One hand against his cheek

The other at his side.

As we got out of the city a white sun, the glory of these windless mornings of the rainy season, was shining on what seemed a world of crystal objects set in blue and green and lilac. I was so proud of my Mexico that the general said I acted as if I had "taken over" the country. The little grayish, yellowish adobe huts reminded him of Chinese vistas in color and outline; but to me it was Mexico only, unique, endlessly beautiful.

The road was once the great highway to the north; but the deep ruts, almost morasses, made us suspect that many a jefe político has sent his wife to Paris or gone there himself instead of repairing it. All along were milestones bearing half-obliterated inscriptions and arms of forgotten viceroys, who used to keep the road up for the crown or themselves—rather a contrast to the deep ruts of the now neglected highway. Since the railway was built even Cuautitlan, the once famous primera posta from Mexico City to the north, has been abandoned, and our motor was the only vehicle in the broad, deserted streets, which, however, filled with Indians, as if by magic, at the sound of our horn.

For nearly an hour we could see the delicate belfry of Tepozotlan flattened against a gray-green background [86] of hill, while the sun was touching everything near us with a sort of white incandescence, the maguey-fields seeming like rows of stacked silver spears. One thing about the Mexican vistas—they do not lose their charm as you approach; and as we got into the square of the little village we found a beautiful old church, inclosed with its patio by a luscious pink, low-scalloped wall. These patios are a feature of every old Spanish church. The friars used them as school-rooms, as courts of judgment, as medical dispensaries. Indeed, all that had to do with the temporal and spiritual needs of the Indians was transacted in them.

The Tepozotlan patio is grass-grown, shaded with pepper and palm trees, paved with sunken grave-slabs, bits of cactus growing about them, and there is a lovely cypress alley leading to the door of the small parroquía. From this we passed into the great church, built with the adjoining seminary by the Jesuits toward the end of the sixteenth century, and restored nearly a hundred years ago, in Iturbide's time. As reminder of his brief imperial career we found the Mexican eagle painted in profile on the old wooden benches.

The church is a triumph of the Churrigueresque school (I have learned to spell this word, but never, never, will it casually trip from my tongue). The vault is simply a madness of gilt carving, and there is a beautiful high altar and many side altars of the richest and most varied designs, all the gold having a lovely reddish patine. We investigated the organ loft, but found only a broken organ with yellowing ivory stops and keys, and a few dusty missals with all the engravings and title-pages gone.

The general is not ecclesiastically inclined, and the visit to the old monastery, so bare, so stripped of all belongings, was most cursory. We soon betook ourselves [87] to the cypress alley and the warm sun outside, lunching in the auto in the village square, with children and old women clustering about and waiting for the crumbs from the banquet. The latter was somewhat marred for us by the discovery that the mineral-water opener had been forgotten. The motor was drawn up near a little pink-and-blue pulque-shop called El Recreo del Antiguo Gato,[7] but it contained no help for us; neither did a search at a still smaller one rejoicing in the name of El Templo de Venus,[8] on the other side of the Plaza, prove successful. However, the general pointed out hopefully that it would soon begin to rain.

On the way back we did get caught in one of the usual infant cloudbursts, which left the difficult roads of the morning almost impassable, and several times we had to get squads of Indians, who rose up apparently from the solid earth, to help pull the car out of various huge morasses. I thought at one time we could not get back for the dinner I was giving for General C.; but having the guest of honor with me, I felt fairly philosophic.

The ditches in some places were thickly carpeted with a long-stemmed, yellow, lily-like flower, and though warned that nobody would pick me out if I slipped into the black water underneath, I gathered great, heavy scented bunches, while the gentlemen and the Indians wrestled with the conveyance. Mr. de S. said the unfailing remark on the part of the Indians was, "No quiere andar" ("It does not wish to go")—a favorite and sometimes final phrase here about machinery that is out of order.


There have been lively times on the Isthmus. The former Federals against Maderistas. Aunt L.'s big house has been taken by the government for a hospital. [88] A cruel uncertainty about affairs Mexican presses heavily everywhere.

The dinner for General C., after the long day at Tepozotlan, went off very pleasantly. He says he is here only en touriste, but he has the recording eye. The German minister returned from investigating the horrid Covadonga murders just in time to get into his evening things. Dearing, De Soto, Sturtevant, Mr. and Mrs. McLaren, et al., made up the dinner guests. The McL.'s are strong supporters of the Madero movement, and hope more than it seems reasonable to hope from such a movement in such a country.

Von H. is up to his eyes in the complications of the Covadonga murders where four Germans, one of them the wife of a manufacturer, were literally hacked to death in their factory. They were caught in a large room with one frightened Spaniard, the others having fought and shot their way out. Sixty-eight in all were killed and some two hundred wounded, nearly all Spaniards. Whether this is to be laid at the doors of the "Liberating Army" or is simply a little independent fling of a bandit chief called Zapata is not yet known.

Von H. has sent out a circular to his nationals, urging caution. He intends to bring the guilty ones to justice himself if the government does not; there was a light in his eye as he announced it, and a click of the teeth.

Photograph by Ravell

Emilio Madero, brother of Madero, is chief of the also troubled zone of Torreon. Circulars are being distributed by his orders begging the people to respect foreign lives and property, and explaining the necessity of the continuance of foreign capital, intelligence, and method in the country. They also state that any one voicing sentiments hostile to Spaniards, or other foreigners, Americans included, will find no place in the Ejército Libertador (Liberating Army). [89]

The servants seem such nice human beings. All their defects are small, and they are so honest. I feel myself more and more fortunate to have got this nice, practical arrangement with the je ne sais quoi of culture and breeding added.

The whole machinery runs comfortably, economically, and agreeably. I never scorn the pesos, or even the centavitos they return to me from the kitchen when we have been out, or things were less expensive than they expected in the market. Is it not all of a touching honesty?

Some grim fatality attended my first waving back of the centavitos with a grand air. Either the bells were not answered, the food was not carefully prepared, the dinner was late, or some such thing. Now I accept the centavitos and life takes its normally smooth course. I had been warned not to refuse these offerings of simple hearts; and these same fatalities were foretold me by others more experienced in Mexican domestic psychology than I.

July 27th.

Home from another reception at Chapultepec. I always enjoy them, the setting is so perfect and the elements so diverse. The iron circle is not as tight as formerly, and this afternoon a sunset so gorgeous was going on that it made us all ashamed to sit between four mere brocade-covered walls, so there was much walking about the terraces.

There is a single great pine growing near the castle, where you look over the terrace toward the volcanoes, like the umbrella pines of the Borghese Gardens. It was black to-day with scallopings of bronze against the sky, and as I stood there, looking at the beauty of it all, talking with one of the President's handsome brothers (the one that is shortly going on a financial mission to [90] London), I realized, suddenly, the obvious and persistent compensations of life.

Afterward we went down the little winding stairway leading from la vitrina, the glass-inclosed balcony looking over the side toward the city, to the large east terrace, where an elaborate and abundant tea was served at small tables. Hohler took me down. I felt quite mellowed by all the beauty, and he, in spite of a certain matter-of-factness, is always appreciative. There is generally among the Corps Diplomatique a note of nil admirari. Mostly they have seen a lot, and it's in the note not to show surprise; but no one could look without a stirring of the soul on the marvelous vistas from the terraces.

Hohler was about to set out on one of his periodical journeys when he uses "wheeled things," as Belloc expresses it,[9] as little as possible, and he showed me a tiny edition of Ovid, ars amatoria, that he was taking with him.

A long letter came from General Crozier this morning, from Puebla. He had found Madero at Tehuacan, and had had an interesting hour with him. The day before he had had an interview with the Minister of War, who sent an officer with him to visit various military establishments, the college at Chapultepec, the cartridge-factory at Molino del Rey, the powder-factory at Santa Fé, etc.

What he thought of it all I know not; he is one of the discreetest of mortals. He says he is taking a regretful departure from Mexico, where he found so much of interest and friendly courtesy. Certainly good wishes and regrets follow him.

July 28th, afternoon.

The Agadir incident bids fair to become more than an incident. Asquith has just said that England, to the [91] last man, the last ship, the last shilling, will stand by France. We won't talk of the little panthers to-night at dinner.

As I was walking home from the Embassy this morning I found myself wedged in by some motors, near the trolley line, and had to wait, while a black funeral car, familiar but unhygienic, passed under my nose.

The plain coffins, with or without palls (this had none), are placed in an open, sideless tramcar, sometimes with flowers, sometimes without. They have to pass the broad Avenida de los Insurgentes to get out to the Panteon de Dolores, the big, modern cemetery behind Chapultepec hill. There are agitations, from time to time, to prevent the carrying of these obviously not hermetically sealed coffins through the city, scattering germs and odors of mortality. Foreigners generally turn their heads and try not to breathe; but the Mexicans take off their hats and make the sign of the cross.

July 29th.

I have spent several afternoons with Humboldt, quite intimately and cozily, to the sound of heavy water falling from the roof, and the room so darkened by the deluge that I have had my lights turned on. He says that Peñon I wrote of will, one day, destroy Mexico City. Will it be Anno Domini 1911? I envy him his beautiful gift of accurate seeing. None of the marvels of Nature, none of her vagaries, showed themselves to him in vain; and he is astonishingly up to date.

I have begun to prowl about for "antiques." No one escapes the fever, and in its delirium I wandered this morning to the Monte de Piedad,[10] which is housed in an ancient building facing the cathedral. An old tablet over the door records that it was founded in 1775 by [92] Terreros, Conde de Regla, one of the most romantic figures of the eighteenth century, as, by a lucky chance, he became the owner of the Real del Monte mines at Pachuca.

Among the people he was the subject of as many fables as Crœsus. When his children were baptized the procession walked upon bars of silver, and when he was made Conde de Regla he invited the King of Spain to visit his mine, assuring him that if he did so his feet should never touch the earth.

The Monte de Piedad was founded for the purpose of keeping the poor out of the clutches of the usurers. Going in on the ground floor, directly from the street, I found myself in a crowd of elbowing people of all classes, leaning over glass-inclosed show-cases, where jewels and silver and small objects of value are exposed. In the large space immediately back are samples of everything used by man except things that need to be fed.

After having fingered the greatest number of objects that, in my right mind, I would have no possible use for, I concentrated my energies on a pearl pin, the pearl really visible to the naked eye, and bought it for thirty dollars; but I expended more than thirty dollars' worth of time and energy, even as those things go here. It's a scarf-pin and, somehow, in its old, brilliant setting, it seemed to try to tell a tale. Perhaps it had held some viceroy's lace? I will send it to you for St. Augustine's Day. [93]


Elim's fourth birthday party—Haggling over the prices of old Mexican frames—Zapata looms up—First glimpse of General Huerta—Romantic mining history of Mexico.

August 3d.

Again it is the blessed anniversary. It seems but a moment of time since my arms received my son. He asked me, the first thing this morning, at what time he would be four years old. When I told him it had already happened he set up a dreadful howl. It appears he had expected to feel himself becoming four, as he informed me when he got his breath. I only send this line to you on this, his fourth mark on the shores of life. Now I must be up and doing. The sun is flooding the patio.


His birthday party was sweet, but I was deathly homesick for you, when kind and friendly strangers came, bringing their gifts and good wishes. He had his cake, and the four candles for the years he had blessed my life. The two little Japanese, Madame Chermont's little boy, the two handsome children of the Casa Alvarado, the little Simon boy (too sweet, with his dark curls and big eyes), Dearing, Arnold, and Palmer, from the Embassy, came.

Von Hintze, who loves little children, dropped in late with a book of fairy tales. Mrs. Laughton brought Æsop's Fables, not many pictures in it, and as Elim opened it at a printed page he said, with shining [94] eyes, "Endlich habe ich ein Lesebuch." He has spent a good deal of time, since, holding it upside down and asking not to be disturbed while reading. He and Jom Chermont had a clash of arms, and Bobo, the two-year-old little Jap, ran the whole show with singular competence.

An invading nostalgia possessed me all the afternoon, and I kept thinking of the beautiful word the Portuguese chargé, De Lima, taught me a few days ago at dinner—"saudades," meaning memory of dear and early scenes, or of loved ones, or of all these things together. I presented my son with two tortoises and a little green bird, a clarine, which can be kept on the oleander terrace, though he had asked for a monkey and a crocodile.

I see that Abbey is dead. The wonder of those reds of the "Parsifal" frieze in the Boston Library has followed me for years. Tout a une fin, but when an artist dies there is a double end. I have just come across most beautiful photographs of Mexico—gum-prints and callotypes, after some special process by an artist named Ravell, who has a remarkable eye for this beauty and evidently a soul to receive it.

August 8th.

To-day was my usual Tuesday at home. Elim, in spotless white, played quietly under the tea-table most of the time with his little legs sticking out. Torrents of rain, and only a few callers, among them the German Consul-General, Rieloff, very musical, asking us for dinner, and Mrs. Cummings, handsome, competent, and warm-hearted, the wife of the head of the cable company, and a friend of Aunt Laura's since many years.

Lately I have bought several beautiful old Mexican or Spanish frames. Sometimes they are inlaid with mother-of-pearl, sometimes with ivory or bone. Sometimes they are old, sometimes only so cunningly arranged to deceive the eye and fancy that they give the same [95] pleasure. To-day a short, stubby, insistent Mestizo, from the Calle Amargura, brought me a beautiful one, and I spent a most exciting hour haggling over the price. The four evangelists are carved in mother-of-pearl at the four corners, with a charming, simple device of diamond-shaped pieces in between. A beautiful Ravell photograph of the stone sails of Guadalupe just fitted into it, and it will hang above the bookcase by my sofa. The room has many friends whom I have put in Mexican frames; Elim and Sofka, Iswolsky, the Towers, Mr. Taft, Mr. Roosevelt. A sweet one of Gladys S., with her first-born in her arms, has a soft, yellow wood frame, with an old, irregular tracing in black and ivory.

I can't call Mexico a melting-pot exactly, as things don't melt here. But it is a strange place, with strange people and peculiar situations. Society here, blown together by the four winds of the earth, is a mixed affair, and various people have disappeared from the rolls since our arrival. Some come to seek, some, it would appear, because they are being sought, others still whose life demands a change of setting.

It now appears that a certain agreeable foreign couple, received by everybody, had never been joined in holy matrimony. It came out between the invitation and the dinner at the — Legation. It was not official enough for the minister to intimate to them that the dinner was off, but definite enough to make him most uncomfortable. Everybody behaved very well, however, and as he sat at the table, his eye glancing rather anxiously about the possible field of battle, I felt quite sorry for him; but I realized that though anybody has a right to the highways, in the narrow compass of the drawing-room all must, alack! be alike.

Peretti de la Rocca, the clever conseiller of the French Embassy in Washington, took me out to dinner. [96] It is he who married, when en poste here, the handsome only daughter of the Suinagás', living in our street. It was very pleasant talking Washingtoniana, Mexicana, and politics.

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent the day at the Del Rios' at Tlalpan, on the first slopes of the Ajusco Mountains. Von. H., who confesses openly to homesickness, took me out with Elim, and we dropped N. for the usual Sunday golf at the Country Club as we passed by.

The Del Rios have a big, comfortable, modernized house, with a huge, unmodernized garden; and it is a favorite Sunday haunt of certain of the diplomats. In the tiny inner court there is still a gem of an old "rosace"-shaped fountain, with calla-lilies growing about it. Small bitter-orange trees, thickly hung with green and yellow fruit, adorn the corners, and masses of geranium-like vines mingle with the ivy which covers the house walls, pierced here and there with old grilled, arched windows.

On the plateau, familiar vines and fruit-trees grow willingly among so many things that don't flourish together in Europe. Tlalpan was once beloved of the viceroys; I think Revillagigedo first made it fashionable, though it was settled immediately after the Conquest, when the picturesque old church was erected.

Madame Calderon de la Barca, in whose time Tlalpan was known after the name of the church, San Agustin de las Cuevas,[11] gives a most amusing account of the great annual Whitsuntide gaming festival, and Del Rio tells me that la Feria de Tlalpan still continues to be fittingly celebrated by the exchange of temporary possessions in various forms of gambling, and that it's not quite innocent of cock-fights.

However, we moderns repaired to the tennis-court on arriving, where we found a dozen or so people using it [97] to play hockey, and others sitting about in comfortable chairs watching the proceedings. We went for lunch and tea, but stayed for supper, all scampering to the house at tea-time, when a single, well-timed shower deluged the scene.

Some played bridge, and some read. Del Rio is an agreeable, intellectual, bookish man, with degrees at several continental universities, and has a good library of new and old books. He also possesses some rather radical ideas, though his personal life, as is so often the case, plays itself out with conventionality on the highest of ethical planes. His wife, partly of German origin, is very pretty in a dark-eyed, unaffected, happy way.

When the rain passed we went out and sat in the mirador, a sort of summer-house built into a corner of the high stone wall, a feature of every Mexican garden, and watched the sun-glow slipping from the hills, which took on a vivid blue, though the volcanoes kept their light in their own exclusive, dazzling way for long after. A pale moon, arisen among the sunset clouds, was waiting for its chance. By the time we started home through a magical night in an open motor, packed with flowers, a lot of us together, the moon was flooding the world and had cut the whole plateau into great squares of black and white.

August 10th.

I have just seen a list of the diplomatic shifts. Dear Mr. O'Brien goes to Rome, the Ridgely-Carters, after their pleasant, successful years of Europe, to the Argentine. The Jacksons have been appointed to Rumania. It was very nice having them "near," in Havana. Each must take his turn in the tropics, but we aren't any of us physically fitted for prolonged sojourns, and I suppose they are delighted to return to Europe, after their "cycle of Cathay." [98]

Mr. Lloyd Bryce, so cultured and agreeable, has been appointed minister to Holland. With his beautiful wife and their gifts of fortune they will make a representation in a thousand.

Mexico seems to me the best of the Latin-American posts, the most important to the United States, the most interesting, the most accessible. We are lucky to have got it, though I didn't feel so on the night of the 10th of January, when the friendly porter of the Hotel Bristol (in Vienna), as I was coming down-stairs for one of the usual petits soupers, said to me: "So Madame is going to leave us?" When I asked, "Where?" he told me it was Mexico, having seen the Paris Herald before we had! It was like hearing we had been transferred to the moon.

Penn Cresson, secretary at Lima, is passing through, en route for Washington. He says Peru is far; but he brings some very attractive photographs of his abode there, and it all depends, anyway, on what you take to a place yourself—the heart and brain luggage—whether you like it or not.

Yesterday we started to call on Madame Bonilla, whom I had met at the Del Rios', and for whom Mr. Cresson had messages from the British consul-general and his wife in Lima, formerly in Mexico. Madame B. is an Englishwoman, and I had heard much of her great taste and the really good things she has picked up.

When, on going to the address I thought was hers, we got into a hall with a life-size negro in plaster-of-Paris, draped with a pale blue scarf, and holding out a gilt card-receiver, placed near the door, and to whom we almost spoke, I was a bit taken aback. An Indian servant somewhat stealthily showed us into a dull-red dadoed room with a waving, light-blue ceiling, and many enlarged family photographs in black frames hanging [99] against the walls. I saw C.'s interest wane as to the giving of the message, and when, after ten minutes, a large magenta-robed, hastily dressed, startled-looking dark lady appeared, we could only make our excuses. After much courtesy on her part, murmurings of à la disposición de usted, and more excuses from us, we got the address next door, where we found the kind of interior we were expecting, drank the freshest of tea brought in immediately by an accustomed servant, and poured by a charming lady never surprised at five o'clock.

We fingered bits of silver, hearing just how they had been acquired, looked at the marks on the porcelain, admired some gorgeous seventeenth-century strips of brocade, all to the accompaniment of questions about mutual friends and the inexhaustible "Mexican situation." Suum cuique.

August 12th.

Last night, dinner at the Danish Legation, where things are well and carefully done. I again sat next the Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Carbajal y Rosas, a huge man with a black beard, and intellectual in our sense of the word. He talked very interestingly about Mexico and affairs here in general. In regretting certain things, he gave me a quotation from Taine to the effect that it is un pauvre patriotisme que celui qui s'imagine que l'on doit excuser les crimes de son pays, simplement parcequ'on en est un citoyen.

He and President de la Barra are great friends; and he thinks that after this coming electoral term (six years) he should be President again—himself, I suppose, as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Now De la Barra, who is the candidate for the Vice-Presidency of the Catholic party, which is to be reorganized with a modern and republican program, could not be elected, even [100] if he wished. The Madero wave sweeps everything else before it, though De la Barra is filling a very difficult situation with dignity and tact. He is called el Presidente Blanco (the White President), for evident and creditable reasons.

As we sat about the handsome, methodically arranged rooms after dinner they seemed filled not alone with Scandinavian household gods, but with the atmosphere of the north, and as entirely detached from Mexico as a polar bear carried to southern seas on a block of ice. The portrait of Mr. L.'s father, the author, and other portraits of distinguished men of an unrelated race, watched us from the walls. Even the old pieces of silver and the bric-à-brac were but remotely connected with this present existence, and Mr. L.'s glass-doored bookcases were filled with Scandinavian literature. He is à cheval between Mexico City and Havana, but in Havana they live in a hotel, keeping the "Saga" here.

F. Vasquez Gómez has announced himself as candidate for the coming presidential elections, but I expect it will end with the announcement.

In toying with the Encyclopedia Britannica on a watery afternoon I accidentally came across the name of "Elim." I expected to see some hero of Russian history, but lo! it said, "Elim, third king of Ireland, killed in battle." I builded better than I knew!

Assumption Day, August 15th.

Went to the cathedral this morning, walking down the broad streets through a glistening, dry air; this afternoon, however, hail, wind, and sheets of water are spoiling the holiday for the people.

A dinner here last night. Beautiful, ragged, yellow chrysanthemums, much smaller than ours, decorated the table and drawing-room. The German and Russian [101] ministers, Penn Cresson, the McLarens, and others were the guests.

A letter comes from Demidoff. He is leaving Paris to join Sofka, who is now in Russia with her people. They go together to Taguil in the Ural Mountains, to inspect their platinum mines. He is just back from a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees with Célestin after chamois, which latter he says don't compare with their Transylvanian cousins. He rather loftily asks if N. enjoys most parrot-shooting or monkey-stalking. His letter is interlarded with little questions as to when we are going to annex the country.

He had been in charge for a month and had the excitement of a change of government and the Agadir incident during that time. At the Embassy, it would seem, they are one big, jolly family. It made me quite homesick.

He winds up with a postscript, saying he had just finished The New Machiavelli. He considers it a chef d'œuvre, but I read it only a few months ago, and no book whose atmosphere and intrigue you forget in as short a time is great.

I think of you and Sofka, standing in the station, as the train rolled out from Paris, that rainy Sunday, to Cherbourg, our first étape to the tropics.

August 17th.

All quiet in Mexico City, but we understand that to-day a battle is taking place at Cuernavaca between Zapata, our "foremost" brigand, with three thousand troops, and the Federals.

Those who know tell me that Zapata is atavistic in type, desirous of Mexico for the Indians, à la a celebrated Indian chief of the Sierras de Alica. "Mexico for the Indians" really means a sponging out of everything [102] between us and Montezuma, and decidedly "gives to think."

A few days ago, dining at Silvain's, the French restaurant in vogue here, we saw a General Huerta who seemed muy hombre, a broad-shouldered, flat-faced, restless-eyed Indian with big glasses, rather impressive, who was returning to Morelos to fight Zapata. I don't know if this was his battle or not.

The Russian minister is going on leave. I gave him a little green jade god, to take to Demidoff, sworn to me, in the name of various deities, to be what it appears to be, authentic. He is not handsome, but he has a delightful, smooth "feel" and something chic about him, in his own little Aztec way.

August 18th.

The Finance Ministry, which was just opposite when we first came, where Limantour created and guided the infant steps of Mexican finance (le premier pas qui coûte), is now converted into the Police Bureau. There are always a lot of people—women, children, young men and old—all in some kind of trouble, standing or sitting on the curve in the most picturesque combinations. It makes the street very human, almost too human, when lawbreakers are brought to justice in the night hours.

August 20th.

Two days ago N. met a man who knows all about your Avino mines, but nothing consoling. It is a splendid property, but had the misfortune to be exploited by one of the canniest of men. One, however, who didn't lie awake nights worrying about the investors, and who ruined it, as far as the investors are concerned, by always getting in new machinery, he taking the commissions on the machinery, which was easier and quicker than getting the ore out. [103]

The mining history of Mexico is romantic in the way Eastern tales of gleaming treasure are—a simple rubbing of Aladdin's lamp in many cases—and certainly her national destinies have been molded by the precious stores that her mountains hold. Some of the historic mines were so rich that the veins could be worked by bars with a point at one end and a chisel at the other, simply prying out the silver, sans autre forme de procès! The famous Bueno Suceso Mine in Sonora was discovered by an Indian who swam across the river after a great flood and found the crest of an immense lode laid bare by the action of the water—a pure, massive hump sparkling in the rays of the sun.

I told you of the Conde de Regla's mine, the celebrated Real del Monte at Pachuca and the wealth beyond the dreams of avarice that it brought in. He began life as a muletier by the name of Terreros, and ended by being able to lend the King of Spain a million pesos.

The mines of Catorce were discovered by a negro fiddler, who, caught out by the darkness on his way home over the mountain, built a fire on what happened to be a bare vein. The morning sun showed molten bits of pure silver glistening among the embers. It's all rather upsetting, collectively and individually.

Padre Flores, a poor priest in a little town in this same San Luis Potosí, bought, for a small sum, from some one still poorer, a mining claim. When exploring it he came upon a small cavern which he straightway named "the purse of God," for in it he found great heaps of ore in a state of decomposition!

The Morelos Mine was discovered by two Indians, brothers, so poor that the night before they could not even buy a little corn for tortillas. Any Indian could dream this dream going over any mountain. [104]

There is the story of Almada, the owner of the celebrated Quintera Mine, who, on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter, lined the bridal chamber with silver and paved with silver the way which led from the house to the church. In fact, there is a vast bibliography of mining romance. Many of the lovely old churches in out-of-the-way places were built by the friars of the seventeenth century, who worked the mines solely to build churches and missions. Humboldt estimates that from its discovery up to his time (1803) Spanish America had sent nearly thirty milliards of piastres to Europe, an almost uncountable sum.

It's difficult to expect normal government from a people who, in some parts of their country, are nourished by the labor-saving banana and in other parts by tales of about one in every fifteen millions becoming, overnight, rich beyond imaginings. In the end it all must have some influence on the psychology of the inhabitants. Needless to add that your mine doesn't seem to be one in fifteen millions! 'Twill be well to dream some other dream!

August 27th.

Last night a large crowd, or rather mob, assembled at the station to meet Madero on his return to town. He did not come on the announced train and the multitude then marched through the town, a squad of mounted soldiers behind, to keep them in mind that the whole earth does not yet belong to them. We were sitting in the library, about 10.30, as they passed through Calle Humboldt, making all kinds of unearthly noises. Suddenly a little night-robed figure rushed in, saying, "Ich will nicht getötet sein." Elim had awakened and jumped out of bed at the noise, thinking the revolutionary fate he hears so much about was upon him.

The German minister gave a large dinner last night, [105] and afterward I played bridge with Otto Scherer, the big científico Jewish banker, a friend of the Speyers, the Schwalbachs, et al. He didn't draw his trumps out, and so lost the rubber. I didn't mind. It was so amusing to see a large financial light on his way to join the ten thousand English who are at Boulogne for the same reason.

I am going to take Elim out to lunch at Mrs. Kilvert's at Coyoacan, and must now get ready. They have an old house, trimmed with Bougainvillea outside and lined with books inside. To-night we dine at the McLarens'—a dinner for James Garfield, who is their guest.

St. Augustine's Day, August 28th.

Have been thinking of you to-day, as you will know. The once famous Church of San Agustin is now the National Library, so I went to San Hipólito near by, equally interesting, and one of the oldest in Mexico, dating from 1525. It was built on the spot where hundreds of Spaniards lost their lives during the retreat of the "Melancholy Night." But I was thinking of the Nauheim days, and all the preparations for your feast, and so much that has slipped "into the vast river flowing." I hope you got the pearl pin.

Spent yesterday at the Bonillas'. They have a tumble-down, picturesque old country house, unoccupied for a generation, that they are beginning to put in order, with a jewel of an unkempt old garden, where all the growing things have just done as they beautifully pleased. It is a favorite spot for picnics for our little circle—not too far out of town, just beyond Tacubaya. After luncheon, partaken of under an arbor of mosquete and honeysuckle at the end of a lovely white-pillared walk, we wandered over the maguey-planted hills stretching back of the garden.

Von H. does not care about it all. As we sat on the [106] hillside, talking of Iswolsky, Demidoff, and Petersburg, where he was for seven and a half years naval aide, ad latere, to the Czar from the Kaiser, I thought how little, after all, he was fitted for a background of agave Americana.

Such a sweet letter from Miton S., from Copenhagen, with a photograph of their charming Legation drawing-room—with Miton's portrait and that of Janos by Tini Rupprecht hanging on the wall. She tells me she returns to Horpács, where Laszlo is to do her portrait and her sister's. They are occupied with the familiar Copenhagen round, golfing every day at beautiful Klampenborg, and are going to the Fryjs' magnificent place for a visit, and later to Norway chez les Löwenskiold.

August 31st.

Mr. Garfield came to lunch to-day with the McLarens. He is most agreeable, and is trying to pursue the political game along altruistic lines. I certainly wish him success. He, too, hopes all things from Madero. So few Americans have come this way that to have any of the really nice ones here is a great treat. It made me think of all those far-away tales of my childhood, when you knew his father as President. The luncheon was the vehicle for one of those informal, intimate exchanges from like standpoints, always so particularly agreeable against an exotic background.

Yesterday, the 30th, Madero was nominated for President by the Mexican Progressive party in convention in the city. As it was a case of "birds of a feather," all went off smoothly as far as that special assemblage was concerned, though any kind of peace is apt to be rather noisy, I have discovered, this side of the Rio Grande. The elections, primary and secondary, are set for October 1st and [107] 15th.


The Vírgen de los Remedios—General Bernardo Reyes—A description of the famous ceremony of the "Grito de Dolores" at the palace

September 1st, evening.

To-day was the feast of the Vírgen de los Remedios, once so important in "New Spain," and, as I had planned, Mr. de Soto and I made the pilgrimage there.

It was the first church Cortés built in Mexico, on the site of the Aztec temple, where he and his battered remnant halted to bind up their wounds after the retreat from Mexico City in the "Melancholy Night." We started out at eight o'clock, on a dazzling morning, rather weakly and apologetically within ourselves and to each other, in a carriage, which took us through the Paseo to Popotla and Tacuba and Azcapotzalco, where we descended and crossed some maguey-fields fringed by squat, half-ruined adobe huts.

We jumped endless ditches, made after the antique pattern, until we finally reached an uncovered horse-tramway, crowded with such specimens of the plebs as had the superfluous centavos for wheeled conveyances. We were finally deposited at San Bartolo Naucalpam, and then did the rest of the way, several kilometers, decently and fittingly on foot, climbing over the white, shining, pathless tepetate, which, with the pink tezontle, has been from all time the building material for Mexico City. We were in the foot-hills of the Sierra de las [108] Cruces, covered with a scant vegetation, various kinds of cactus, or an occasional árbol de Perú.

The Indians seem to partake of this thinness of the soil, this strange, vanishing quality of light, this dissolving of horizons, this pulsing of colors. A generative, effective something is underneath all the unrest and disorder of the miserable political systems they seem to produce, and if a race is constantly being born into a world of wondrous light and color, it can persist in spite of everything else being impossible.

Indians were rapidly and silently approaching from all sides as we neared the church, which I had only seen pressed against the purple hills, wonderfully transfigured at sunset or catching the light in the morning hours. Mexico can hold the fancy quite independent of the work of man. But when one adds the activities of that creative, potent, Spanish race, infinitely inspired by the background already perfect, with the building materials, tepetate and tezontle, white and pink, giving them what they wanted to place against green and blue, the beauty of the result, wrapped in the strange transparence of the plateau, is not to be wondered at.

Everywhere we looked we found something that needed only to be framed to make a perfect picture, a dome (media naranja, half orange, they call the form), with its attendant belfry of reddish-gray lace against a hill, a group of Indians resting, with notes of red zarape, white trousers, peaked hat. Any spot can become a shop; there is just a spreading out of their wares, and though the jefe político of their special pueblo sees that they don't vend without a license, at least there is no rent.

Photograph by Ravell

The basket-venders, the sandal-venders, the pottery-venders, the water-carriers, the carriers of glass jars of precious pulque, were out in force, and the candle-trade [109] was going strong, as we ascended the crooked, crowded way to the patio. The buildings about were crumbling and neglected, and the smell of the pungent messes the Indians put into their tortillas was mingled with faint whiffs of incense.

Everywhere the tortilleras were busy patting up their tortillas, sitting squatted on their heels, occasionally on a petate made from tules (reeds), but they seem to prefer Mother Earth with their children tumbling about. We got through the crowd to the door of the church where clouds of incense, smoke from numberless candles held in pious hands, and a persistent, almost visible, odor of Aztec, la race cuivrée, further thickened the air.

No one noticed us. When you may have come fifty kilometers on foot to worship a Dios Todopoderoso a stranger or two doesn't count. They were kneeling thickly pressed around the high altar, bending, with their sombreros or their burdens laid in front of them, with their arms extended, heads raised, a grave, strange-eyed race, at the oldest of all occupations, communion with its Maker.

Peons almost never sing, but a wheezy organ was playing, and the priest, whom I could just see, was giving the blessing after Mass. The Ite missa est did not, however, empty the church as it does the temples of more sophisticated races, and it remained tightly packed. There are some old pictures, De Soto told me, of authentic date of the first period after the Conquest, but the church was somber, and they were so darkened by time that one couldn't tell.

As for the Vírgen de los Remedios herself I could only dimly perceive her over the heads of Indians kneeling before the little chapel of the shrine, where a few bunches of red-berried branches mingled with the paper and tinsel flowers. It is a small, wooden figure rudely carved, holding [110] an Infant Jesus. Tradition has it that on the several occasions when it was decided to render it more artistic the artist appointed straightway sickened and died. The figure is supposed to have belonged to one of Cortés's captains, who brought it from Spain and who clung to it through all the horrors and dangers of the "Melancholy Night." He afterward placed it for safe-keeping in a huge maguey plant, where it was found a generation later by a baptized Indian.

For centuries a great silver maguey, which Madame C. de la B. (also that unflagging but amusing rejecter of all things Romish, R. A. Wilson) spoke of seeing, was inclosed in her shrine.

At the time of the struggle for independence startling anecdotes were recorded in connection with her. She was the patroness of the Spaniards, who had her dressed in the full regimentals of a general, in competition with the celebrated Virgin of Guadalupe, the great patroness of independent Mexico and the Indians. The Mexicans defeated the Spaniards at the battle of Las Cruces, 1810, and then the Virgin was summarily stripped of her general's uniform, her sash and various insignia being torn from her and her passports given her—a touch of the party spirit which continues to be the curse of Mexico.

The Virgin of the Remedies was, among other things, the great rain-maker, and in the viceregal days was often carried in gorgeous processions through the city (of course the naturally rainy months were tout indiqués for the procession). De Soto tells me there is still an old proverb, Hasta el agua nos debe venir de la Gachupina.[12]

After the Laws of Reform were adopted the silver railing which inclosed the altar, the great silver maguey, [111] and all the treasures of jewels and votive offerings, went into the national exchequer, with the unfortunate result that now there is nothing in the church and nothing in the treasury. The aforesaid Mr. Wilson, who demolishes every Aztec dream of Prescott and almost routs Humboldt from the scene, was particularly wrathy at the idea of the three petticoats she wore, one embroidered in pearls, one in rubies, and one in diamonds.

Perhaps it was because he only found what he calls a "brand-new Paris doll" when he was there in 1859, after the Laws of Reform.

I wanted to linger, but pangs of hunger, as well as great banks of clouds, every possible shade of gray, rolling up high, with here and there a patchwork of dazzling blue, reminded us that there are various ways of getting rain. By the time we reached Calle Humboldt it was nearly three o'clock, and as we lunched great cracks of thunder sounded, the heavens opened, and then came the rattling of hail. I thought with pity of the shelterless Indians on the hill, whose whole life is some simple yet mysterious pilgrimage from the cradle to the grave, and stupidly wished them all sorts of things they can't have.

September 3d.

— writes that everything on the Isthmus is a chaos or a drifting. The government is so uncertain that nobody dares make any move except the brigands and revolutionaries; and they, it would appear, are always lively. Revolution comes easily in Mexico; it's done with a light spontaneity, north, east, west, and south, that "gives to think." It just bubbles up, now the "lid is off," inherent and artless, like any other disquieting natural phenomenon.

The great thing to read is Madero's Presidential Succession. I have been looking at it, expecting to be more [112] interested than I am, but the subject-matter, it seems to me, is only interesting because it applies to Mexico. Otherwise it is a bit platitudinous—the kind of thing that in all ages sincere demagogues have preached to the people. It has, however, served to bring a sort of democratic party, a so-called government by the people, into being, but any kind of liberal bird, methinks, is apt to lose a few tail-feathers here.

September 5th.

Waiting for Tuesday visitors. I tried the first and third Tuesdays, but it was a bore remembering which, so I am at home every Tuesday. Sometimes they are interesting, sometimes not, as is the way of "days."


Mrs. Martin's English friend from Japan presented his letter this afternoon. As De Soto and the newly appointed Mexican minister to Vienna, Covarrubias, were here, and this latter was anxious to get a lot of Vienna details, the elements were somewhat diverse.

A letter from Cal O'Laughlin tells us that Arthur Willert, of the London Times, is on his way to Mexico to write up the situation for his paper. He adds that people are beginning to regard affairs in Mexico as little less serious than the Boxer outrages, and that a good deal of apprehension is felt. He himself is off for a trip through Canada to write up reciprocity as the Canadians look at it.

I am sending you a photograph of the "Man of the Hour." As you will see, being photographed is not his "forte"; he sits wooden-faced in a huge, carved armchair, with a copy of the Constitution in his hands and the date 1857 picked out in shining white on the covers. He is now in Yucatan, making one of his accustomed [113] political tournées. He is developing into a sort of "Reise-Kaiser." It is rumored that from the state of sisal and henequen he will pick his running-mate.

Gen. Bernardo Reyes was stoned and robbed and mobbed when he attempted to make a speech the other day, and things are pretty noisy. He was rescued by the police from the infuriated mob with the greatest difficulty. He had just resigned his commission in the army in order to be ready to serve an evidently unwilling country as Chief Executive.

September 12th, evening.

I sent you a rather hasty line this morning in commemoration of —'s birthday, the best and most faithful of friends for this life and the next. I went to early Mass to San Lorenzo, in the old part of the town, one of the ways of seeing Mexico City.

Indians were sweeping the Alameda as I passed through, with brooms of dry bushes tied on to long sticks. A thin, pinky-white sun was filtering through the lovely trees, and watering-carts were in evidence, making rather scant tracings on the dusty, untrodden streets of the night.

A little boy was drinking from a gutter, like some puppy—his morning meal, I suppose. I do hope he took the pennies I gave him to some place where he could fill his little "tummy." The population, Indian and Mestizo only, up and about their tasks, were shivering a little in the chilly morning. Long lines of arrieros, bringing their heavily laden donkeys into town with the day's provision for le ventre de Mexico, were prodding and exhorting their burros none too gently.

Priests introduced the donkey here in the sixteenth century, to relieve the Indian of his burdens, and the poor beasts have had an awful time ever since. The only live stock for whose comfort the Indians are really [114] solicitous is the fighting-cock. He is fed, he is housed, and his vagaries and exigencies are tenderly followed.

Elim has just asked me, with a hopeful gleam in his young eye, what "raining cats and dogs" means, a side-light on the afternoon weather.

The government would love to defer the elections for a while, but the authorities don't dare not carry out the promised program.

To-day Arthur Willert, the very agreeable London Times correspondent, just arrived, lunched with us, and we got a view of Mexico from another angle, and a lot of outside news. Evidently they are pessimistic in Washington. He comes to tea to-morrow to meet the McLarens and Von H., to whom he also has a letter. As Von H. is busy hunting down the perpetrators of the Puebla outrage, with his own strength and time and money, he does not see anything couleur de rose, and Willert will get nothing cheerful from him.

Saturday we dined at the new British Legation, the first dinner Hohler has given there. It is really quite lovely. A dado of Puebla tiles has just been completed around the hall and stairway, and the large rooms are sparingly and very decoratively arranged with H.'s good things, pending the arrival from England of the government furnishings.

The new houses here are generally horrors; they don't even build them with patios, and it seems criminal to shut out of daily life this beauty of light and sky. Many of the new buildings are almost like miniature New York tenements, with light-shafts only for some of the rooms. My patio, with its square of heaven, is an abiding joy.

A cable came from Prince Festetics, whom we had congratulated on the occasion of his new title. But it all seems a far dream of a far [115] past.

Luncheon here yesterday—to the Horigutchis, the Norwegians, Mr. Wilson, of course, and Mr. Bird from New York. Mr. Bird brought a letter to us, and is down here in connection with a mining claim that has been on the Embassy files for nearly twenty years to one of the richest mines in Mexico. He is accompanied by a white-bearded, magnetic old gentleman of some ninety years.

September 13th.

Last night a huge banquet in honor of the ambassador given by the leading male American citizens. The consuls all over Mexico sent telegrams of congratulation, and Mr. Wilson made one of his accustomed polished and trenchant speeches. Mr. Hudson's toast (he is the clever editor of the Mexican Herald, that no breakfast is complete without) was to "Mexico present and future." It was not more optimistic than the occasion required, but certainly more so than the actual situation warrants. He did touch on the most vital question, as to whether the results of the election will be peaceably accepted by the people, and hoped they would recognize the necessity of abiding by the result of the polls next month. All sorts of political shades are appearing. It isn't just one solid Madero color, as it was four months ago.

September 15th, morning.

This is Independence Day here, and Heaven alone knows how Mexico will celebrate it. To-night at the palace, which I have not yet seen officially, is held the famous ceremony of the "Grito de Dolores."

September 16th.

Everything quiet in Calle Humboldt. N. has gone to the Embassy for late work, servants are invisible, the infant is in the "first sweet dreams of night," [116] and I can have an hour with you about the celebration last night, which was most interesting.

I went rather contre gré. The heavens had been more than usually lavish with their water-gifts during the afternoon, and the house was damp and chilly. But I got into the black velvet with the gray and jet design, so easy to don, as any black dress should be, and we were ready when the ambassador came for us.

We passed through the brilliantly lighted and beflagged Avenida San Francisco to the Zócalo, where an immense crowd was already assembling. Mounted police were dashing to and fro as we passed under the "Puerta de Honor," through which the Corps Diplomatique enters on official occasions. The huge bronze statue of Benito Juarez, still and shining, caught the patio lights. I suppose the real Benito was watching the proceedings also from some angle, up or down, I can't say.

We went up the broad stairway with the handsomest and reddest of carpets, which Allart said had been bought for the Centenario celebration. We entered the Sala de Espera at the top, where our wraps were disposed of, under a huge allegorical picture of "La Constitución." We then went through a series of really handsome rooms in the sumptuous style; with their great proportions and high ceilings they are most impressive. Everywhere are hung pictures of their illustrious men, who mostly did not die in their beds—Hidalgo, Morelos, Iturbide, Juarez, Diaz.

At one time I found myself in a huge room, and looking down upon me was the delicate, ascetic face of Hidalgo—"other-worldliness" stamped all over it. The scroll in his hand, proclaiming independence to Mexico, the same kind, unfortunately, I should judge, that we were there to celebrate, testified to the fires consuming [117] him from the earthly furnace of liberty and regeneration, in which he dreamed of purifying his nation and his race. The pictures, however, are mostly more remarkable for their size and the value of their frames than for their artistic work.

We were received with dignity and ceremony by President de la Barra and the members of his Cabinet. But Madero was the center of attraction as he moved about with a dreamy, pleased expression, not unduly elated, however. A sort of simplicity stamps all that he does. The women were mostly in hats. Their afternoon costumes are apt to be the dressiest. But the Corps Diplomatique was en grande toilette. We had been wondering, in absence of notification from the Foreign Office, what we were to wear, but accepted Hohler's verdict that "after seven o'clock you can't go wrong in evening togs."

As we strolled about the handsome rooms a life-size painting of the German Emperor, given on I don't know what occasion, was the only European sovereign we met. There are many fine Chinese vases. In the red room, they told me, those supporting the candelabra had belonged to Maximilian, but during viceregal days much very beautiful Chinese porcelain found its way to Mexico from the East to the port of Acapulco, and was brought up to the capital on the backs of Indian runners.

Señor Calero, the very clever Minister of Justice, took me out to supper. The table was high, and as we stood instead of sitting at our destined places we were not too far from our plates.

Calero speaks unmistakable American-English extremely well, with a slight Middle-West twang. He knows almost all the things we Anglo-Saxons know, and some that we don't. Though still in deep mourning, black studs, cuff-buttons, vest, etc., for his first [118] wife, he was accompanied by a pretty, shy bride of two weeks, who seemed to be very pleased at finding herself standing just across the table from him. I suppose there is some rule here about wearing black which does not take into consideration possible early reblossomings. He is extremely clever, and I fancy very ambitious. However, as honors, wealth, and power are the natural objects of human life, why not?

The table was decorated with three splendid silver épergnes, and some very large, fine fruit-dishes, all bearing the tragic and imperial crest; though I understood from Allart that the plate used for the service of the supper dated from Diaz's time, and was first used when the famous Pan-American Congress met in Mexico City.

A blaze of light came from the great crystal chandeliers, and the walls and windows were hung with crimson brocade. We went through a long menu, with many courses and appropriate wines. I think no expense was spared. De la B. is used to functions, anyway.

Of course, the great moment of the evening was the ringing of the Independence Bell. The President stepped out on the little balcony overlooking the Plaza, a few minutes before midnight, followed by Madero, and voiced the celebrated cry, "Libertad é Independencia," while just above the balcony sounded the Campana de la Independencia, which Hidalgo rang to call the patriots together in Dolores on the night of September 15, 1810.

Then the great bells of the cathedral rang out, and cheers and cries came from a crowd of about a hundred thousand people.

The President asked me to go out on the balcony; I was the only lady of the American Embassy present, and I stood there for a few minutes between him and [119] Madero and looked down upon those thousands of upturned faces. I felt the thrill of the crowd. Nameless emanations of their strange psychology reached me. But also I was sad, thinking of the impossible which has been promised them.

Madero was very silent, but his hands twitched nervously as he gazed out over that human mass he had come to save. I felt how diverse our thoughts as we stood looking down on the faces, on that forest of peaked hats, on police riding down the little avenues which traced themselves between the crowd. Everything was orderly. I think Gustave Le Bon could have added another chapter to La Psychologie des Foules. [120]


The uncertainty of Spanish adverbs—Planchette and the destiny of the state—Madame Bonilla's watery garden-party—De la Barra's "moderation committee"—Madero's "reform platform"

September 21st.

To-day we go for a farewell lunch at the Austrian chargé's, who is leaving almost immediately. His cousin, the new Austrian minister, Riedl von Riedenau, and his American wife, have arrived and are to have his house.

I have been out very little lately—only to a dinner at Hohler's and a luncheon at the Embassy. This is not a climate where foreigners can put screws on themselves with impunity. The mornings are indescribably clear-washed, brilliant, radiant, but the trouble about all this beauty is that it is too high. Very few resist it à la longue.

I have been reading C. F. Lummis's Spanish Pioneers—a noble picture of their romantic achievements. I am sending it. Please keep it with my other Mexicana. I am also sending Howard's End, this last a history of a life, to fill a dark afternoon.

I hear Elim, who is picking up a lot of Spanish, remonstrating with Elena, saying, "No mañana, orita!"[13] His infant soul has perceived the full significance of the fatal word mañana. Orita, I have discovered, is also [121] apt to be followed by a maddening wait; and, in general, Spanish adverbs of time awaken uneasiness.

September 23d.

Last night there was a big dinner at Von H.'s, at which I did the maîtresse de maison. I wore the pastel-blue satin with the silver embroidery and the dull-pink bows. I thought I had ruined it forever in Vienna, at the French Embassy, when the French ambassador had his ball of twenty couples only, for the Princesse de Parme, and I gaily swept the floor with it during some hours. Gabrielle, however, who realizes that the source of gowns is far, has resurrected it.

There was much talk of the great reliance Madero places on the spirits. It is said that Madame M. goes into spiritualistic trances, and when in that condition answers doubtful questions, and that the planchette is fated to play a rôle in the destiny of the state.

However that may be, there is a most authentic story of Madero's having consulted the spirits through the medium of the planchette some years ago. When he asked what the future had in store for him he was told that he would one day be President of Mexico. He is supposed to have arranged his life in conformity to this prophecy, which put him in a condition of mind where everything that happened of happy or unhappy augury bore on the fulfilment of this destiny. It is certainly one way of coercing fate.

There was an amusing but watery garden-party at Madame Bonilla's. We found ourselves at one time sitting under a dripping arbor of white musk-roses in a rain resembling a cloudburst. A large lizard fell from the arbor on to the ambassador's head, and thence into my lap, and various other zoölogical specimens were washed down from time to time. The ambassador, [122] immaculately garbed in newly arrived London clothes, suggested, but rather feebly, the impossible feat of going home. After everybody's clothes were spoiled, we made a two-hundred-yard dash to the uninhabited, picturesque house, where it speedily got dark. There were no means of lighting, of course, as the house had not been lived in since the dear old candle days. The French minister, so handsome and most carefully dressed in gray, was also perfectly miserable under the arbor, with the elements at work, though he repeated at intervals, "Faisons bonne mine à mauvais temps," and recklessly took what had once been my black tulle hat, now turned into a formless thing of gummy consistency, under his immaculate gray "wing."

The Latins in general, and the French in particular, don't care about unsuccessful al fresco entertainments. The volcanoes, as I stood at one of the wide windows, showed themselves from time to time, in strange rendings of the heavens by narrow threads of lightning, with something frightening and portentous in the aspect of their red-brown peaks. Above them were great, shifting masses of blue-black clouds.

Finally the violence of the storm passed and a chastened group of picnickers groped their way down the broad old stairway into the little patio, where the autos were waiting, and we were infolded in some of those strange shadows that seem to creep up from the earth rather than descend from the heavens.

I have a lovely photograph of the volcanoes, with a pine-tree in the foreground, taken from the Bonillas' place. I am sending it.[14]

I have just come back from looking up at my starry square. Unknown constellations are near, but you are far. Good night. [123]

September 25th.

We notice there is a coldness in Maderista quarters at any praise of President de la B. He is too popular. He could unite in his person too many factions, old and new. Even that invisible "smart set" might re-emerge from Paris or the country. Up to now I have not laid eyes on a member of what would be known in Vienna as the erste Gesellschaft, with the exception of young Manuel Martínez del Campo, who began his diplomatic career under Diaz and is now Third Introducer of Ambassadors.

De la B. has appointed a "moderation committee." Its real use, when all is boiled down, is, if possible, to prevent the various factions from calling one another names, or even taking one another's lives. I say, "God bless our home."

General Reyes is very strong in certain quarters. I liked his eyes, shrewd yet kindly, and his firm hand-clasp, when I met him that time at the British coronation housewarming. For some reason, outside the army he is not popular. The "common people" (I don't know just what that expression means here) don't like him. With postponement either he or De la B. might be elected, though De la B. reiterates that he does not want it. Now the Madero tide is high, and will without doubt wash him into the presidency.

September 27th.

Elections in the land of revolution and maguey are to be held on Sunday. Everybody is wondering how the people will stand the change from the iron hand to sufragio efectivo.

Just back from lunch at the French Legation. Mr. Lefaivre is never so happy as when he is offering hospitality. Their beautiful old silver is out, the dining-room [124] glistening with it, priceless dishes and platters from Madame Lefaivre's family.

The Legation seemed very pleasant when De Vaux had it, but, of course, many valuable things then packed away have made their appearance since the minister's return. Madame Lefaivre returns next month. The luncheon was for Baron and Baroness Riedl, just arrived from Rio de Janeiro, via Paris. They will be a great addition to the "Cuerpo."

Baroness R. had on a dark-blue and white foulard, smacking of La Ville Lumière, and a trim, black hat put on at the right angle. We had a very pleasant lunch. It is always amusing to put new-comers wise to the actual situation. Of course, the Simons and ourselves are almost too bright for daily use. Rio is a place with many Austro-Hungarian interests, but since the days of Maximilian there has been little enthusiasm about Mexico in the Austro-Hungarian political breast. After all these years, nearly half a century, there are under a thousand of Riedl's nationals in the whole of Mexico.

To-morrow night, dinner at the Brazilian chargé's for the Riedls, and as the other colleagues follow with affairs it will all mean quite a little round of gaiety.

I must go to the station to meet dear Mrs. Wilson, who arrives on the eight-o'clock train from Indianapolis, accompanied by her sister.

September 30th.

Just returned from the Requiem Mass for the five hundred sailors and officers of La Liberté. It was most impressive, with a great Tricolore unfurled across the high altar. Nearly all the lost were Bretons, and over a thousand widows and orphans are weeping. The Mass was held in the Church of El Colegio de Niños, on one of the busiest down-town corners, and which has survived many different tides of life. It is now the "French" [125] church, served by French clergy, and is clean and orderly, but dismantled of beauty or treasures.

It dates from Fray Pedro de Gante, one of the greatest of the friars, and I dare say was once full of beautiful things, now possessed or scattered by tourists, or by various breeds of revolutionaries. Mexico has been such a bottomless, inexhaustible source of treasures fashioned by the genius of Spain.

The political outlook is still very uncertain. Madero, of course, for President. The vice-presidency between de la Barra, who does not want it, another man, Vasquez Gómez, who does want it, and Pino Suarez, the obscure and evidently not over-popular Maderista candidate from Yucatan. Personally I shall be most sorry to see the De la B.s go. They are people of the world. De la B. is a trained diplomat, and these months of his "Interinato"[15] have been a "finishing-school" indeed. His father and mother were Chilians, afterward naturalized in Mexico.

Crowds parade the streets crying "Pino-no-no-no!" Why Madero insists on that running-mate we don't understand. Pino Suarez was an unknown editor of a Yucatan newspaper before fate beckoned to him, making him first governor of Yucatan, and now pointing him on to the vice-presidency.

Madero's party, with its banner cry, "No reelección y sufragio efectivo," is called "Progressive Constitutional" (we couldn't do better at home). His platform, if it will hold under the weight of virtue and happiness it bears, is quite wonderful.

To begin with, it re-establishes the "dignity of the Constitution," and there is to be no re-election. The press is to have its antique shackles struck off, pensions and indemnities for working-men are to be introduced, [126] and the railways are to be "Mexicanized," which will make travel a bit uncertain for a while. Even the jefes must go.

I couldn't explain, if I would, the real uses of the jefe. You have to live in Mexico to understand even dimly his attributes. Madero, whom no difficulties daunt, even tackles the vexed question of the Indians, saying that he intends to show the same interest in their affairs as in those pertaining to other shades of Mexicans, especially in those of the Mayas and the Yaquis, whose tragic deportations in great groups from hot climates to cold climates, and vice versa, have long been a blot on the Mexican 'scutcheon. In fact, everything is to be made over—the judiciary, the army. Foreign relations are to be founded on brotherly love instead of interest; a fight is to be waged against alcoholism and gambling; and there are many other reforms I don't remember now. Ojalá, but it makes me sad! [127]


Election of Madero—The strange similarity between a Mexican election and a Mexican revolution—The penetrating cold in Mexican houses—Madame de la Barra's reception—The Volador.

Sunday evening, October 1st.

This morning we started out in good season for a Sabbath run, shaking the election dust from our feet, or rather wheels, skimming out through the shining city, which yesterday afternoon had had what may be its last good bath till next June.

We went out the broad Tlalpan road, black with motors full of golfers, and when we got to a place called Tepepa began the magic ascent of the Ajusco hills between us and Cuernavaca, with a continual looking back. For at our feet was spread the lovely "vale of Anahuac," like some kingdom laid out in a great chart of emerald, turquoise, and jasper.

An unexpected rain-cloud was threatening from over the western hills, and across the valley columns of light and shade continually passed and repassed. Every dome and spire of the city shone, but the hill of Chapultepec was black, distinct, and solitary, only the castle a white point. At one moment we found ourselves hanging over the lovely lake of Xochimilco, with its green, lush, sweet-water shores, and the verdant band of the lake of Chalco showed itself separated from the barren white tequesquite shores of Lake Texcoco only by a narrow strip of roadway.

The two Peñones and the hill of Guadalupe were sometimes dark and sometimes shining, and a far-off [128] fringe of sapphire hills marked the valley's end. It was "Jerusalem the Golden," well worth sighing for.

At a place called Topilejo we found a church on a hillock by the side of the road, its large atrium up a row of grassy steps, entered by an old carved archway. Looking through it, we saw a strange sort of festival going on, having a decided Moorish touch.

What seemed to be kings were seated in a row of rush-bottomed stools. Gaudy crowns of gilded cardboard, or something stiff and glittering, crowned them, and about them were flung twisted capes, like the Arab burnoose, with the hood falling back. The play was proceeding con mucha calma except for a large Indian, evidently "stage manager," who was trying to bring about some sort of dénouement. Behind was the open church door. It was about twelve o'clock, and the last Mass had been said. A melancholy chanting proceeded from some Indians, their hands tied together, who stood in front of the "kings." It was all strange and unexpected on those heights.

The village on the other side of the road was in the sneezing and coughing throes of one of the bronchial epidemics so common in cold or damp weather in the hills. The children were scarcely covered; I can't bear to think of all the little brown backs and thighs in these cold waves. A dreadful, unrestrained-appearing person, in a battered hat and warm red zarape, looking as if he might have been the "father" of the village, towered above them all, everything about him bespeaking pulque. We decided that "song" was what he had given up.

Silent Indians, carboneros, inhabit these parts, and their fires could be seen high up on the wooded mountainsides. They were coming and going, bent, and almost hidden under great sacks of charcoal. We sped on till we got to a place called La Cima, the highest point, [129] whence I wanted to make a dash for Cuernavaca, in spite of brigands, but the gentlemen and the chauffeur decided against it. Here was a huge stone cross, La Cruz del Marqués; solitary and moss-grown, it still stands, marking the boundary of lands once granted to Cortés by the crown, where he passed on the venturesome march to Mexico City from Cuernavaca.

I indulged my passion for Cortés by walking around the historic cross and picking an unfamiliar scarlet flower, while the men worried about Zapata and his brigand host, to whom these hills belong in 1911.

After some parleying we turned back. But beyond the hills lay the Hot Country, full to the south, its mysterious valleys filled with gorgeous blossoms, where vanilla, myrtle, jalap, cocoa, and smilax grow. Four hours down would have brought us into the fullness of its beauty, to lovely Cuernavaca, once the haunt of kings and emperors, where Cortés pondered on the insecurity of princely favor and planned his expedition to the Mar del Sur.[16] Now it is the capital of Zapata, and shunned since a few months by anybody with anything on his person or anything negotiable in the shape of worldly station. A great bore. My sentiments were all for pressing on with the added thrill of danger.

The roads here, with the history of Spain cut into them, and Indian life flowing ceaselessly over them from sea to sea, from north to south, are inexpressibly appealing. They are like a string, holding the beads of Mexican life together, and what "a rosary of the road" the glories and sorrows of their history would make! I don't feel the literary call, however. My life is run in another mold. But I have undergone a violent and probably permanent impression of this race, this country—its [130] past, its present, its uncertain future, and oh, its beauty!

October 3d.

You can't tell an election from a revolution here. It's all lively to a degree. I have now seen both.

Madero has been duly elected, and the streets rang all night to vivas for him. Groups were passing continually up and down the Paseo, spilling into Calle Humboldt. Many students were among them and Latin-American youth seemed at its noisiest. There were some decided expressions of other political opinions, voiced largely in the now accustomed sound of Pino-no-no-no, but the Madero tide will doubtless wash him into the vice-presidency. It's quite irresistible.

Madame de la B. was among my callers to-day, smiling and handsomely gowned in a new French dress. Of course, she gave no hint of what she thinks about the situation. She and her husband go abroad after Madero's inauguration, now set for November 20th. The President is finally to take the thanks of the Mexican government to the King of Italy for the special mission sent to represent him at the Centenario of 1910—which seems as remote as the landing of Cortés.

There is no provision for heating in any of the houses here. They tell me that in December and January, if a norte is blowing at Vera Cruz, one is almost congealed in Mexico City.

Even now the late afternoons and evenings are cold, but there is a glorious warm sun every day till the afternoon rains begin, and all the Indians in the city, come out from quién sabe where, are warming and drying themselves on curb and bench and against sunny walls all over town. I suppose it is the only moment of comfort they have. Often now, instead of rain, there is [131] the most gorgeous banking of heavy, dark clouds, with hints of orange, red, and purple linings.

October 5th.

Just returned from Madame de la B.'s reception. She does the "first lady in the land" very well. The President came in later, to the sound of the national anthem. He is of infinite tact in these strange days. He was clad, as usual, in an immaculate gray frock-coat, and showed no trace of the Procrustean bed he sleeps in. All his Cabinet were there and the Corps Diplomatique, and several well-set-up competent brothers, who, doubtless, will get some sort of foreign post. After all, I am rather a believer in nepotism, not too exaggerated. But if one does not do for one's own, who will?

De la Barra has been a sort of suspension-bridge between Diaz and Madero, and that he and the republic are still "suspended" is testimony indeed. The disbanding of the famous Liberating Army, financially and morally, continues to be the great difficulty, as from it have sprung all these flowers of banditry whose roots lie too deep, apparently, for plucking.

I met, at the reception, Don Alberto García Granados, an elderly man of long political experience, with a clever, perspicacious look, accentuated by deep lines above the prominent brows, showing that his eyes had often been raised in surprise or remonstrance. He is a great friend of De la Barra, and resembles statesmen I have met in other climes. He is now Minister of Gobernación (Interior).[17]

I had a luncheon to-day for Mrs. Wilson and her sister, [132] Mrs. Collins, who look very well together—handsome, slim-figured, small-footed, carefully dressed women. The table was really charming, with heaps of yellow chrysanthemums. The dining-room is sun-flooded, flower-vistaed whichever way you look, and its pale-yellow walls, and good old pieces of porcelain in handsome old cabinets, and fine old engravings on the wall, all picked up as occasion offered by the Seegers during their long Mexican years, take the light most charmingly.

Baroness Riedl, Madame Lie, Madame Chermont, and some American friends, Mrs. McLaren, Mrs. Kilvert, and Mrs. Harwood made up the guests. There are several menus that the cook produces very well, and Elena and Cecilia serve quietly and quickly, in neat black dresses, white aprons, cuffs, and collars.

Some vigilance is needed as to their collars. They loathe them in their souls, being of the casual, rebozo race, after all, and though they bow to this especial inevitable, I imagine it comes hard.

I don't often penetrate to the kitchen regions; I couldn't change anything if I wanted to, and I am not endowed with culinary talents. But I did see, as I passed through not long ago, fish being broiled on the beloved brasero, which the cook was fanning with the beloved turkey wing.

One can't change the washing processes, either. Some time ago Gabrielle noted holes appearing in all our new linen. I told her to investigate and let me know the result, which she did. I then ascended to the roof from which all creation, lovely Mexican creation, is stretched out to view, and the linen floats in the purest, bluest ether.

I found the two washerwomen sitting on their haunches, pounding and rubbing the linen between stones. I let them know I thought washboards were what the situation [133] required, but no signs of enthusiasm were visible. They told me, with an air of complete finality, es el sol (it is the sun), when I pointed out various and obvious signs of damage.

Just sent off an Atlantic Monthly with a most interesting contribution, "Within the Pale," by a young Russian Jewess, Mary Antin. I haven't been seeing the Atlantic for some years and I am glad they keep their good old historic cover instead of allowing themselves to be seduced by art nouveau, with the usual dreadful consequences.

Elim is climbing all over me as I write. He has been promised a cat by the drug-store clerk, but, fortunately, there has been some hitch in the proceedings. You know my feelings toward the felines. Elim can fling the quién sabes and the mañanas with the best of them, and evidently takes in Spanish through the pores; he is very little or not at all with the Mexican servants.

He told me the other day that he could count better in Spanish than in English, and when I asked him to show me he did very well up to four, which he replaced by the word "pulque," getting quite argumentative. I thought it worth while to investigate the intricacies of the infant mind. I find four is simply the magic hour when the cook leans over the railing and sings out "pulque" to call the expectant concierge contingent upstairs, for its afternoon refreshment, as fixed as the laws that govern the hours.

Saturday noon.

Just home from the volador (thieves' market), with "goods" upon me. Toward the end of the week it gets increasingly aromatic, as it is only swept and garnished Saturday afternoon, and it is traditional and expedient for the foreigner to patronize it on the Sabbath rather than other days. But having been to "La Joya," a very [134] nice and expensive antique-shop in the Avenida San Francisco, where I got a frame of dark wood with ivory inlay, just the size for my Ravell photograph of the Church at Guanajuato, also a love of a little tortoise-shell petaca (miniature valise) with silver clampings, I thought to strike an average in prices at the volador, where the sun was shining brilliantly on purely Indian commercial life.

The "commerce" consisted more than usual, it seemed to me, of the refuse of ages, collected under irregular rows of booths, canvas- or board-covered, or simply piled on spaces marked out on the uncomfortable, hot cobblestones. It all covers what once was the site of the new Palace of Montezuma, and is named volador after a sort of Aztec gymnastic game. For a long time it belonged to the heirs of Cortés, from whom the city finally bought it, and it is close behind the Palacio.

As I entered the gate there was the usual collection of Indians of all sizes and colors, but with the same destinies. Many were passing by with their huacales (crates) filled with bananas and oranges and various green things, for near by is the great fruit-market of the city. Some women were selling long plaited strings of onions, and by the gate was standing a superior-looking individual with a stick twice as high as himself, on which were stuck white, pink, and blue toy birds.

Instead of abandoning hope as one goes through these portals, one finds oneself immensely expectant, one's eyes darting hither and thither in search of treasure, the eternal something for nothing!

Mexico is called the land of the sombrero (hat), but when I go to the volador I feel it should be called the land of the candlestick. There are so many candlesticks in every variety of shape and kind, and occasionally of great beauty.




I was made "perfectly" happy by the discovery of two tiny bronze braseros, somewhat in the form of Roman lamps—such as were filled with coals and placed on tables to light cigarettes from in the old days. I also got a large engraved pulque-glass, most lovely for flowers.

At one booth an experienced vendeuse pulled from her rebozoed bosom a small velvet case, containing a brooch of flat, uncut diamonds; but as, at the same time, I distinctly saw spring from that abode of treasure a very large specimen of the flea family, I came home without investigating further.

I have some beautiful books on Mexico which have been given me by various people—mostly large, heavy books,—Lumholz's Unknown Mexico, and Starr's Indian Mexico are the last,—or I would send them, that you might share more completely my Mexican étape. It has been a strange summer, taking it all in all.

Madero probably comes in on the 10th of November. It makes one's head swim to think of the mighty changes that are taking place all over the world. Haughty old China a republic!—and Mexico to be governed solely by brotherly love! And a free press and nobody to desire to continue in office! In other words, all to resign and many to die.

In church to-day the beautiful blue bag you gave me was stolen. I remember two women in deep mourning, black rebozos twisted about their heads, kneeling devoutly in the pew just behind me. The theft must have occurred at the moment of the "elevation," because when I rose from my knees both the bag and the black-robed devotees had disappeared. I had, fortunately, just left the Louis XV. watch at the jewelers', or that, too, would have gone.

Madame Lefaivre returned several days ago after a mouvementé trip, as the Espagne went on the rocks at [136] Santander. Mr. Seeger gave a little déjeuner for her at the Auto Club. The day was heavenly, and the sky as clean as if it had been pounded between the stones the washerwomen use on my roof. Everything was at its greenest.

After the season of rains the flowers, the grass, the trees, emerge as if new-born. I felt, sitting on the terrace of the club, on the border of the little artificial lake, as if I were in a loge at the theater, as if the scene might at any moment be shifted, the black and white swans be removed, the water turned off, ourselves go off the stage, leaving only the changeless background of beautiful hills and diamond-powdered volcanoes.

I like Madame Lefaivre so much, très dame du monde. The usual banalities of the carrière having gone through with, I feel sure we'll soon begin the regular business of friendship. She had on a pale-gray dress, which toned in with her gray hair and fresh complexion. She and Mr. Lefaivre were engaged for nearly fifteen years before life cleared itself sufficiently of obstacles, of one kind or another, for them to marry.

De la Barra sails the 23d of next month for Italy. I think it illustrative of his tact and good will to subtract himself completely from the very complicated situation, and to let his intention be known beforehand and reckoned with. Madame de la B. receives for the last time on Thursday next. In the evening there is a dinner at the Embassy, and on Saturday the German minister gives one of his big dinners. This seems all very simple, even banal, but few things are simple and nothing banal when played out against a Mexican background.

October 29th.

The political mills here are grinding fast, and not particularly fine. The Minister of War has been [137] impeached, and President de la B. is resigning, not even waiting till the legal term of office (November 30th) expires.

Nightly, crowds continue to parade the streets, singing, "Pino-no-no-no," though "Pino" has been duly elected Vice-President according to the "angelical returns from that temple of liberty and love, the polling-box," as one of the unconvinced deputies called the process.

Zapata has been at the gates of the city and, with eight hundred men, allowed to pillage near-by towns.

Indeed, there has been a public outcry against the suspicious vitality of the Zapata movement. There are those who say that the "Attila of the South" and the President-elect are muy amigo, and that if that General Huerta I wrote of had a really free hand he would, with his energetic methods, have long since solved that special problem.

The Minister of War, Gonzalez Salas, has stirred up a hornet's nest by saying that in three days after becoming President Madero would strangle the Zapata movement. Of course the clever deputies—and there are many of them—are clamoring to know what is the divine word, the sesamo supremo, that he can pronounce to suddenly put an end to the horrors of banditry, and if there is such a word, why it wasn't pronounced earlier.

The inauguration is now set for the 6th. It has been whispered that it wouldn't be wise to wait. One of the deputies, in his harangue against Zapata and the possible high protection he enjoys, winds up a decidedly disenchanted speech, as far as Madero is concerned, by crying, "Robespierre" (meaning the "Apostle"), "remember that Danton also was popular!" Maderistas and Pinistas, Reyistas, Vazquistas, Zapatistas say what they like about one another, and it certainly gives the foreigner an idea of the riches of Spanish epithet. [138]

Those two children of democracy, "freedom of the press" and "no re-election," have seen the light of day with infinite difficulty in various parts of South America. To be present at their first struggling breaths in Mexico is most instructing. I must say they seem to be babies of the noisy, wakeful sort, and don't care who or what they disturb.

A diplomatic dinner is announced at the Foreign Office for Sunday, the fifth of November.

Elim is waiting to blot bonne maman's letter, so I must close. He is clasping the famous cow Mrs. Townsend gave him two years ago. It has resisted all assaults, all displacements, and is still the best beloved. Three hoofs, a horn, and all its trappings are gone, but it is still a "fine animal." He has just said, "I am so glad on my mama," so you see his English is progressing. We have come from a morning walk in beautiful Chapultepec park with Baroness R. He loves to pick the wild flowers or run over the grass with his butterfly-net. The whole park is a garden of children as well as green things.

Yesterday a considerable portion of the festive Corps Diplomatique, in its European branches, was poisoned with mushrooms at the — Legation. Reports began to come in, disquieting at first; but it became a screaming farce when it was discovered that no one was going to die, except probably the galopina at the aforesaid Legation.

I am sending a post-card to-day of the Hotel del Jardin. As you will see, it is a place for a lot of "local color." Unfortunately they are building over half the old garden with newfangled high constructions. Sir Fairfax Cartwright[18] stopped there ten years ago. With its big rooms opening on the veranda facing the garden, it was, in the old days, the favorite resting-spot of travelers and [139] arriving diplomats, and a vast improvement on the colorless, uncomfortable, "modern" hotels which spring up like mushrooms, and are about as permanent. At the Hotel del Jardin the cozy fashion still prevails of having the partitions between the bedrooms reach up only half-way.

But the old order is certainly changing. In what was once the vast area of the Franciscan church and monastery, built by Fray Pedro de Gante, where schools flourished, and councils took place during several hundred years, now arise great, steel-framed office-buildings on the "American plan."

In the old days the Church of San Francisco was entered from the street of San Juan de Letran, in which the Hotel del Jardin is. The monastery, seminaries, etc., were suppressed, in 1856, by Comonfort. Since then the ground has been steadily cut up into streets and for city buildings, until only the Church of San Francisco itself remains, with its perfectly charming façade, entered immediately from the busy Avenida San Francisco, through a little palm-planted garden with a broad, flagstoned walk. It was once the most important church in Mexico, but now its large spaces are empty of treasures and worshipers, and the strong light coming through the lantern of the dome shines in on bare walls. The tide of worship of our day sets to San Felipe next door. Cortés heard mass in San Francisco, it is said, and there his bones were laid in 1629, the date of the splendid interment of his last descendant, Don Pedro Cortés.

This was the occasion of a gorgeous military and religious procession headed by the Archbishop of Mexico. The coffin containing the Conqueror's body was enveloped in a great black-velvet pall, borne by the judges of the royal tribunal. On either side was a man in a suit of mail. One bore a banner of sable velvet, on [140] which was blazoned the escutcheon of Cortés. The other carried a standard of shining white, with the arms of Castile in gold. The viceroy and the members of his court followed, in splendid array, with an escort of soldiers, their arms reversed and banners trailing, all moving to the beat of muffled drums.

In 1794, the body of Cortés was removed to the hospital of Jesus Nazareno, one of his foundations, in a crystal case with crossbars and rivetings of silver, also in solemn state, under the greatest of the viceroys, Revillagigedo.

In Cortés's most interesting and very human will he had ordered that wherever he might die, his body was to be laid to final rest in the convent at his beloved Coyoacan. His bare bones, however, seem as restless as when clothed with living flesh, and after his death in Spain, when his remains were brought back to Mexico, the authorities placed them first in the Church of San Francisco at Texcoco, where his mother and one of his daughters lay. Now there is no certain record of their resting-place. Does not romance and tragedy hang about it all?

A long letter comes from Marget Oberndorff. Her husband has just been appointed to Norway, and they are thankful to be in Europe for their first ministry. [141]


Dia de Muertos—Indian booths—President de la Barra relinquishes his high office—Dinner at the Foreign Office—Historic Mexican streets—Madero takes the oath

Dia de Muertos, November 2d.

The black-hung churches and the streets are full of those mindful of their dead. I, too, of my "dead in life" as well, thinking how of such are the Kingdom of Heaven.

I went to the little Church of Corpus Cristi, opposite the Alameda, walking through the booths the Indians have spread there since generations, during three days at this season. It's all as picturesque and busy as possible, and of an informality as regards family life.

I bought some really lovely baskets, and a bright-eyed little Indian boy, belonging to some dull-eyed parents, took home for me a lot of the fragile pottery. Some of it is very decorative—soft grays with red and black designs, polished greens with flowers in two tints, and a black-lustered ware with ornamentations of scrolls and figures. I selected quite a menagerie of tiny animals, very perfectly modeled in clay and brittle to a degree, as passing as the hands that made them.

There were "toys" in the shape of small coffins, black or white, skeletons, devils of various frightfulness, even funeral cars in miniature. At one corner, as a last touch of memento mori, an Indian was offering candy coffins, which seemed to have quite a run. [142]

I am writing at the Country Club, which is a most lovely spot at all times, but now is wrapped in a continual, superlative Indian summer. Elim said to me the first thing this morning, "Oh, I do love dat gontry clove," so here I am with him. He met me with Gabrielle, outside of the Church of Corpus Cristi, on the Alameda.

That church has a curious history. Though now shrunken and tawdry, it was one of the most important and gorgeous in the viceregal days, and had a convent attached to it for Indian maidens of patrician birth. There is an old memorial over the door recording that it was inaugurated under the 36th viceroy, Don Baltazar de Zuñiga, for the daughters of Christian caciques alone. For the ceremonial of the taking of the veil the most gorgeous of Indian costumes were worn—feather-work mantles, aigrettes sewn with pearls and emeralds, and underneath-wrappings of fine cotton.

Now the treasures of the convent are dissipated to the four winds, and as for the patrician maidens, oú sont les roses d'Antan? The only thing of interest remaining in the church is an old copy of a picture of Nuestra Señora del Sagrario, from the Toledo Cathedral, supposed to have been taken to the Rio Grande by the venturesome hidalgo, Juan de Oñate, being brought back to Mexico City only after a couple of centuries of travel and vicissitude.

The veranda of the club-house looks toward the shining volcanoes and the blue, blue hills, their beauty indescribably enhanced, seen through the brilliant glass-like air. The house itself, in the Spanish-mission style, is very fine, and the links the most beautiful of many I have watched and waited on. There are eighteen holes, with a favorite "nineteenth" in the cantina. Some of the mounds over which the golfers play are the graves of those who fell in 1847. General Scott approached [143] the capital from Vera Cruz by way of Puebla, and there was a big battle on what is now the golf links, then the Hacienda de la Natividad, and the near-by church and monastery of Churubusco. There is, facing the very colorful and interesting old monastery, built by the Franciscans in the seventeenth century, a colorless, uninteresting monument, put up by President Comonfort in memory of the Mexicans who lost their lives here, and there are occasional ceremonies "in memoriam" by a grateful country.

November 3d.

Yesterday I ended by staying at the club all day and having dinner there. Elim was taken home, and N. came out after chancery hours. It was a beautiful and peaceful day, and we drove back about nine o'clock, under a young moon. As we got into town, there seemed more than the usual number of little booths, dimly lighted by small hanging lanterns, the owners and their progeny sitting about.

How large families can live on the proceeds of these small stands is a mystery. Everything is dust-covered, handled and rehandled, cut into small bits and then into still smaller ones. I always marvel at the self-restraint that prevents the Indians from falling on their own goods and devouring them.

One drives over what was once an Aztec causeway, through a squalid suburb, San Antonio de Abad, to get back into town, where the day of the dead was celebrated by an unusually lively attendance at the pulque-shops. That licor divino had so incapacitated an Indian lying on the road that we nearly lost our lives in the sudden swerve the chauffeur made to avoid running over him.

There are numberless accidents to Indians, falling on the third rail of the tramways running out the Tlalpan [144] road, though it is wired off. When you look into the awful pink and blue dens, and smell the still more awful smell of the licor divino, and see the Indians saddened and melancholy, or suddenly wild and completely irresponsible, coming out of La Encantadora, Las Emociones, or El Hombre Perdido,[19] you realize that the maguey is, indeed, bound up with the destiny of the Mexican nation.

As we passed through the Calle de Flamencos, the celebrated palace of the Conde de Santiago seemed once more splendid, rising above the squalor of the pulque-shops. It was built by a cousin of Cortés, immediately after the Conquest, in what was then a noble quarter of the town. Later, when the Conde de Santiago bought it, he surrounded it by a beautiful park, known as the Parque del Conde. Now in the great courtyard, alas! only merchandise of a tenth-rate quality is stored and old trucks encumber and disfigure it. There is a majestic stairway, seen through a wide, carved entrance still possessing its antique wooden doors of some wonderful resisting wood from the Hot Country. The roof-line is just as good as the rest, for great stone gargoyles, representing half-cannon, show themselves against the sky. There is a huge Aztec corner-stone of a single piece, representing a tiger, which tradition says was placed there by Cortés himself. It is the sort of house the government ought to buy; in this dry climate, properly preserved, it would be good for a thousand years.[20]

November 5th.

Yesterday an event unique in the troubled political history of Mexico took place. President de la [145] Barra calmly read the report of his incumbency before the Chamber of Deputies and as calmly relinquished his high office.

About five o'clock I drove down the Avenida San Francisco, already brilliantly illuminated, though great bands of red still hung in the sky behind Chapultepec. The crowd was immense, the streets flagged, and there were squads of mounted police keeping order, and sounds of drum and clarion. Shouts of, "Viva de la Barra," "Viva el Presidente Blanco," mingled with various expressions of satisfaction, not unmixed, I imagine, with surprise, that the high power could be relinquished in so orderly a manner, and that a President could or would give accounting of his office. A hint of the millennium.

November 5th, 10.30.

We are just home from the big dinner offered to-night by Carbajal y Rosas to the members of the Corps Diplomatique and contiguous Mexican officials. The Foreign Office is, as you know, in the Plaza at the head of our street, and it was a blaze of light as we approached.

The music of a magnificent military band in gala uniform—the Mexican brass is most inspiring—was echoing through the patio and halls as we went up the broad stairs, flower- and palm-banked and covered with a thick, red carpet, into the big rooms on the first floor overlooking the Plaza.

Here the various officials, according to their rank, have their offices—handsome rooms, with large pieces of Louis XV. furniture done up in blue and gold, and some paintings of Juarez, Diaz, and others. It was almost too brilliantly illuminated, with great festoons of green and white and red electric bulbs, in addition to the usual lighting. All were out in their bravest. Mrs. Wilson had on a white-and-gold satin gown, that she [146] had worn at court in Brussels, and I wore the pink-velvet brocade I had for the Buda-Pesth court ball.

This sounds very magnificent, but when the time came to move into the banqueting-room and a personage much more richly gowned than any of us dream of being approached to give me his arm, a grin overspread the faces of the chers collègues near by. It was the Chinese minister, in the most beautiful lavender-and-gold costume I have ever seen. Useless to compete with the Celestials, when they are really in form. On his gorgeous arm, feeling decidedly diminished, I went to the great front hall where a long, narrow banquet-table was spread. Some official, a small, dark, youngish man, who did not speak English, or French, or German, or anything in which I could lightly communicate, was on the other side.

I had a chance to "choose" between Spanish or Chinese, and, being under the necessity of saying something, began with my Mexican friend about the weather, which you get through with quickly here at this season when it is always fine. Then the conversation got onto the usual subject of niños (children). He said, with the air of one not having yet abandoned hope, that he had only nine. I asked, thoughtlessly, what was the distance between their ages, and he answered, quite simply: "El tiempo regular"—ten months.

After the repast, which began with bouchées Romanoff and finished with coupés à la Brésilienne, touching delicately at other international points, there was more or less talking, with presentations to various persons of the incoming régime—surprised-looking ladies in high-necked gowns, and eager-looking men. We disbanded about ten o'clock to the sound of more really gorgeous martial music echoing through the big patio, stepping across the plaza to our house in a great flood of moonlight. [147] The "Iron Horse," the bronze equestrian statue of Charles IV., giving the note of other times and other rulers, was shining with a dim radiance. Humboldt found it in the Plaza Mayor in 1803, vis-à-vis the cathedral and the palace of the viceroys, set in a large space paved in squares of porphyry, inclosed by a richly ornamented, bronze-gilt railing and placed on a pedestal of Mexican marble. Thirty-five years afterward Madame Calderon de la Barca, in 1838, found it in the courtyard of the university. Now I find it in the Plaza de la Reforma, and an excellent spot it is, if they will only leave it there, instead of trotting it about the town. It is placed where one can see Chapultepec Castle at the end of the Paseo, where one can look down the broad Calle Bucareli—still named after that enlightened viceroy (they periodically change the names of the streets here), and which in its day was one of the most beautiful avenues in the city, having a large fountain, with a gilt statue, where now we have a very ugly clock-tower on artificial stucco stones. The whole street was planted with beautiful trees, which modern claptrappy houses have crowded out. It now ends in the dusty, trolley-laid, modern avenue of Chapultepec.

The Calle de Rosales, a short street of handsome dwellings mostly of the epoch of Calle Humboldt, gives another vista looking toward San Fernando and San Hipólito; down still another one can see the iron frame of the new Palacio Legislativo, planned to cost ten million pesos. Work has lagged on it since the Diaz government was overthrown, and experts are beginning to say that the great iron frame, so long exposed to rain and air, is corroding.

Now I must put out my light, a poor thing, anyway. There is a shaft of moonlight on the wall, a "purest ray serene," that shames it. [148]

November 6th, Inauguration Day.

Just home from the Cámara, where Madero took his oath of office. Immense crowds were thickly formed about the building, and among the vivas for Madero were growls, here and there, of "Abajo los gringos."[21] A few mounted rurales only were out, the "Messiah of the peons" having put the crowd on its honor.

I went with Mrs. Wilson in the Embassy motor, which came back for us after having deposited the ambassador and his staff at the Palace in evening clothes, where the gentlemen of the Corps Diplomatique were assembled to take leave of President de la Barra before coming on for the inaugural ceremonies at the Chamber.

We arrived on the scene to find the little plaza in front of the Chamber solidly packed, and the steps leading to the doors presenting a conglomeration of peaked hats and zarapes, interposed with black coats and "derbys." We finally got out of the motor at a side door, to the sound of more "abajos," and once within, it really seemed very comfortable to be sheltered from the noise and the various potentialities of the crowd.

A big, solemn-faced Indian growled, "abajo," as I tripped from the motor, but when I answered him, "Viva Mexico," his face lighted up in a most friendly way. They need so little to change their moods, and that is one of the dangers here. The wife of the Japanese minister said she had to fight her way in. Her sleeve was torn and her hair dishevelled, and she looked as if she had given battle.

A door, wide open, led from the room where the Corps Diplomatique laid off their wraps, into a very large one, the office of the Protocol, where there were great sealed bundles of ballots bearing the postmarks of the towns whence they had been shipped—unopened, uncounted, intact. [149]

It appears the "counters" got discouraged early in the game; there were so many ballots having no connection with 1911, such as that of Hidalgo (executed in 1811), Benito Juarez (dead in his bed in 1872), and unknown names of various jefes políticos in various remote places, with an occasional bit of unexpected color appearing in the way of remembrances of favorite bull-fighters.

Well, Madero, the man of promises, is President of Mexico, and what difficulties lie before him! After taking his oath, in a firm voice, he ended the speech which followed, rather suddenly, by saying if he did not keep his promises they could send him away.

The extreme pallor of his face was accented by his pointed, black beard, already the delight of the caricaturists, but his mien was grave and his gestures were unusually few. Across his breast was the red, white, and green sash, the visible sign of the dream come true.

I could not but ask myself, as I looked about the vast assemblage and heard the roar of the Indian throngs outside, what have they had to prepare themselves for political liberty after our pattern? But then, you know, I have always had a natural inclination for the strong hand and one head. L'appétit vient en mangeant, and a taste for revolutions may be like a taste for anything else. Many of these millions have nothing to lose, and hope, mixed with desire, is rampant during the periods of upheavals.

Some sort of a new day is rising in Mexico, but Madero would seem to be President, not because he is a good and honest man and a well-wisher to all, but simply because he is a successful revolutionary leader, and what has been can be. There was, however, a general effect of everybody patting himself on the back. Were they not seeing, for the first time in their history, [150] the high power relinquished without bloodshed? I fancy they felt quite like "folks" as the "Presidente Blanco" gave it over to the Apóstol with nothing redder and warmer than a handshake.

The town was brilliant under the perfect sky, and the green-and-white-and-red flag of the Tres Garantías (Three Guarantees) waved from every building. It bears within its folds the history of Mexico since its adoption in 1823. The white represents religious purity, red symbolizes the union of Mexicans and Spaniards in the bonds of brotherly love, and green is for independence.

Iturbide's army was called "the army of the Tres Garantías," the colors then running horizontally from the staff. After Iturbide was shot they changed the stripes to the present vertical arrangement. From my rather cursory glance at Mexican history it would seem that governments have always come into power here through revolutions. It seems the normal thing, the inevitable, preordained way for men to come into power, but, that being the case, they ought to take it a little more quietly. Of course, for a pure Aryan like myself it's startling, it's disconcerting to a degree![22]

November 7th.

Late yesterday afternoon ex-President de la Barra, accompanied by his family and the staff of his mission, left for Vera Cruz to take La Champagne for France, en route to Rome. There was a great demonstration at his departure. The Corps Diplomatique was out in full force, and all Mexico besides, it seemed, as we got down to the station, around which mounted soldiery with [151] difficulty kept a free space, pressing the crowd back to let in the carriages and motors, one by one.

The most interesting thing about it all, to me, was the group that at one time formed itself on the rear platform of the special train—President Madero, ex-President de la Barra, and Orozco, the military genius of the moment, the type of the trio so distinct as they stood there. Orozco is a very tall man, head and shoulders over the other two, the northern Mexico ranchero type—prominent nose, high cheek bones, with a dark mustache that doesn't at all conceal a cruel, determined mouth.

De la Barra, international, immaculately dressed, suave, smiling, was entirely the diplomat departing on a special mission, showing no trace of the difficult and anxious months of office.

Between these two stood the President of but a few hours, with his broad, high, speculative forehead, his dreamy, impractical eyes and kindly smile—"one man with a dream at pleasure."

Madero is naturally generous toward his enemies, of which the crops, however, hourly increase. He is averse to shedding blood, but I sigh for the difficulties of his position, between various upper and nether mill-stones, with the destinies of fifteen millions of people like to be ground between.

All the revolucionarios who came in with him seem to have dreamed some of his vague dreams, to which they add, however, very determined desires to settle in comfortable nests built by others on the extraordinarily simple plan of "see a home, take it." The upper classes, what little one sees of them, shake their heads, cast up their eyes, and throw out their hands. It's all very uncertain, but most interesting to a lady from the temperate [152] zone.

We would all have liked to see De la B. Vice-President instead of "Pino-no-no-no." It might have steadied things, especially abroad, but "might have been" should be the Mexican device. For some reason I felt saddened as the train moved out in the twilight, leaving the Indian world to darkness and Madero. [153]


Uprising in Juchitan—Madero receives his first delegation—The American arrest of Reyes—Chapultepec Park—Side lights on Juchitan troubles—Zapata's Plan de Ayala

November 8th.

I was planning to start for Tehuantepec to-morrow, when a letter came from Aunt L. saying that the general in charge of the Federal troops was giving orders to his army from her porch, the Pan-American Railway was damaged, bridges were destroyed, and cannon were being dragged into town by oxen and placed in front of her garden.

Everybody has been going to bed dressed, with papers and valuables close by, ready for flight at a moment's notice.

I was disappointed, and would still have carried out the program, my heart was ready for her, and things were cut off here, but I was obliged to take the advice of the ambassador, to whom N. showed the letter, as the risk might not be simply personal. There seems a fatality about my getting down there. A telegram also came from her through Mr. Cummings, always so kind, saying for me not to leave till things had quieted down.

The trouble is in the form of an uprising in the district of Juchitan against the state government (Oaxaca). The Governor, Don Benito Juarez (a son of the great Juarez, I think), had tried to separate the jefe político, Che Gómez, from his office, a thing not lightly done. The result was that the Juchitecos, who dearly love a [154] fight, gladly rose with "Che" against the Federals, who have been bottled up in the Juchitan church and barracks for days with no rest and no food; there must have been heavy losses. The firing can be heard from San Gerónimo. A few soldiers have arrived, but not enough for their relief.

The mother of the army surgeon with the troops is staying with Aunt L., and is in the greatest anxiety about her son, a fine young man, a typical Spanish hidalgo. As long as he could he sent messages, but they have had nothing from him for several days, and, of course, at any moment the Federals may be wiped out. There are at least three thousand Indians against a couple of hundred "regulars."

The government has sent down more troops. Two brigades went this morning, the Foreign Office announces, and "order is expected shortly in Oaxaca and on the Isthmus." There is already a general undertone of pessimism about Mexico in general and the new régime in particular.

The first delegation Madero received yesterday was the Society for Occult Sciences, followed by something even more tangibly intangible, the spiritualistic society. It makes one gasp. He will need all the help he can get to grapple with the situation here, but one has one's doubts about the spirits being consecutively and exclusively occupied with the destinies of Mexico, which seem to need the iron hand of flesh—and not in any glove, either.

Photograph by Ravell

Last night we dined at the new Chilian minister's, Hevia de Riquelme. Mr. Wilson was seven years in Chili as minister at the time Señor Riquelme held a Cabinet position, and has a great affection for him. They have just come from Japan. The dinner was very elaborate and expensive, and afterward we danced in [155] the large hall and in and out of the big salons. Mrs. Wilson looked lovely in a white-lace dress with pale-blue touches, and seemed to reappear again as she might have been when she was the mother of babes in Chili, rather than of these grown sons in Mexico.

November 11th.

News this morning from the Isthmus is still more disquieting. Many buildings were dynamited in Juchitan, and many people were killed that way as well as by bullets and machetes. The wounded are being brought into San G. for treatment, as when some doctors of the White Cross arrived on the scene from Salina Cruz the Juchitecos refused to allow them to enter the town.

The splendid young Doctor Arguello was assassinated by the rebels while going the rounds of a hospital in Juchitan, where he was treating their wounded. His mother has lain moaning, "Mi hijo! mi hijo!" for twenty-four hours, and refusing all comfort. The new jefe, the tax-collector, and other "instruments of the law" were killed. This is how the inauguration of Madero was celebrated on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Fortunately San G. is loyal and could be a refuge for the peaceful inhabitants of other towns. General Merodia is there with four thousand troops.

November 14th.

Yesterday a large afternoon reception was held at the Foreign Office by Calero, now Minister of Foreign Affairs, and who has, incidentally, a great understanding of the United States. He presented his pretty wife formally to the Corps Diplomatique. She is delicate-looking, and life with Calero, with his ambitions and rather American strenuosity, will keep her going at quite a pace. The handsome rooms are having an unwonted vogue—the second time they are thrown open [156] in a month! Professor Castillo, at the grand piano in the big room, vied with the police band stationed in the patio. Large American Beauty roses were everywhere (a delicate tribute, quién sabe?), and we stood at small buffet tables.

I was between Riedl and Lie, and though less gorgeous to the outward eye, I was more en pays de connaissance than when last I refreshed myself in company with the Flowery Kingdom. The nice woman reporter from the Mexican Herald minutely inspected the women's clothes, as you will see by the clipping I send.

I must get ready for my luncheon to-day. I love to do the flowers myself, and a great solid bunch of forget-me-nots, a foot and a half across, in the big blue bowl, has been lifted onto the table by Elena and Cecilia. Bouquets of deepest purple pansies are at each place. The sun is flooding the patio, the flowers are blooming and shining—enfin all the delights of the tropics! It is not without reason that they have a lure. The luncheon is for the Riedls. The Lefaivres, von Hintze, Leclerq, and others are coming.

We tried the theater again last night. I had expected to go for the Spanish whenever N. had a free evening; but, really, I have not the physical strength, and last night we were thankful to get out of the boredom of the interminable entr'actes and the unbreathable devitalized air, which at this altitude has an exhausting effect unknown at sea level.

The apuntador read all the parts so loudly, now sometimes ahead, now sometimes behind the actors, that one couldn't decide which to follow, him or the artists, and we gave a sigh of relief as we sped out of the city toward Tlalpan, beloved of the viceroys.

An immense white moon, that seemed to lose its [157] shape in its own flooding light, was rising over the valley. Not only the heavens, but the earth irradiated light, and we seemed to be motoring through a dully brilliant blue-whiteness. The night was dry, with no hint of mist, but still a milky ambience that gave an effect of gleaming wetness was over all.

Out of the earth came what seemed to me the psychic miasms of nameless but potent and persistent races. The Ajusco hills, for reasons known to themselves, were dead-black masses as they jetted into the sky, but their outlines were scalloped with an indescribable embroidery of the same fluid whiteness. I felt a chill sort of magic envelop me, penetrating through the thickness of that long Viennese motor coat; I was even a little afraid with that nameless fear one sometimes has here. I think it is the unknown quantities. Everything seems to equal X.

November 20th.

Reyes has been arrested at San Antonio by a United States marshal, charged with violating the neutrality laws. He was doing only what Madero did, but what is sauce for the gander isn't sauce for the goose. Diaz had his Madero, Madero his Reyes. How easy it would have been to have made a friend of Reyes, who was the idol of the army!

Madero now talks about crushing all revolutionary movements with an iron hand; but his hand, alas! has no likeness to iron or anything that can crush. It appears that Madero and Reyes made a pact according to which each was to have a free hand at the presidential nomination. But the Maderistas either got nervous or impatient, or did not want to take chances, and Reyes was persecuted and threatened until he resigned his commission in the army and left the country. The military element might have been conciliated with [158] Reyes as Minister of War or in some other capacity after being defeated at the polls; but that would have been by far too reasonable a modus operandi for these climes.

Reyes found himself obliged to withdraw his candidature a few days before the election of Madero, and left the country as speedily as he could, among other things giving the New York Sun a chance for a gorgeous alliterative sentence, "Rebellion, riot, and Reyes mar the calm of Madero's Mexico."

The Simons are very handsomely installed in a house on the Paseo, and have sent out cards for a series of dinners. We dined there last night. Simon, it appears, is a banking genius of incorruptible probity—a second Limantour. They have what few here possess, a French chef, imported specially. Besides several diplomats, there were some Frenchmen whom I had not met, Armand Delille,[23] a banker, and an agreeable man, Parmentier.[24] In the drawing-room are many photographs relating to the Simons' Belgrade étape, an interesting one of Pasitch's clever old face, the Serbian Crown Prince, the old King, Countess Forgasch, and others, who struck the Balkan note.

The first reception at Chapultepec, where the Maderos have taken up permanent habitation, is to be held on Friday.

November 24th.

Last night there was a brilliant dinner at the Embassy in honor of Calero, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his wife. I inclose a clipping. Mrs. W. looked [159] very handsome in a white-lace gown with gold-wheat embroideries.

Madame Lefaivre had on a gray gown with her nice diamonds, and a beautiful old lace scarf about her shoulders. Baroness Riedl wore a clinging yellow dress with pearl fringe, and all her war-paint in the shape of her pearls and diamonds. After dinner we sat around the big, glass-inclosed patio which forms the center of the house.

I had a little talk with Calero. He is astonishingly clever. His mind reflects a perfectly clear mental image of the facts that come before it, and in any argument he is straight to the point. For the rest, it is terra incognita to me, though doubtless the land is perfectly charted with the roads so necessary for arriving at Latin-American ends (and not unnecessary to successful politicians anywhere).

Side-lights on the Juchitan troubles continue most interesting and instructive. Che Gómez, the man who stirred up the apparently quite-ready inhabitants, is part Indian, part negro ("zambo" as this special mélange is called), and had set his heart on remaining jefe político of the turbulent town. When he began a similar agitation some years ago, Diaz wisely kicked him "up-stairs" by sending him in that capacity to some small place in Lower California. Now he is back, making things lively.

What remains of the Federal authorities, notaries, banking agents, industrials, et al., are still cooped up in the barracks there, or hiding in the woods and distant ranches. The situation was tragic till the long-looked-for Maderista troops arrived—a motley crowd, boys strapped to guns larger than themselves predominating over the rurales mounted on scrawny little crow-baits, looking like bandits in comic opera. They were [160] accompanied by their womenkind, of course, and wandered aimlessly about. It was such a farce that even the natives laughed.

Che Gómez is said to be supported by some sort of powerful influence, and his forces directed by some one having knowledge of military tactics. The dove of Madero's new peace is evidently not hovering over that portion of Mexico. The unrest is like an epidemic.

I must now get into the black-velvet dress to go to the first reception of the new régime at Chapultepec.

November 24th, evening.

Madero's expression this afternoon was extraordinary. There was a kind of illumination of the plain, indefinite features, and he seemed scarcely to be walking with the sons of men. He had a smile which, without being fixed, was always there, and he talked a great deal, and quite freely, to various receptive plenipotentiaries.

Madame Madero was simple and dignified, but under it all I fancy something passionate and resolute. The diplomats were out in force, but there was very little else to the reception. A few unlabeled outlying Mexican nondescripts came, and some of the Cabinet ministers. Carmona, chef du protocole, and Nervo, the Second Introducer of Ambassadors, did what they could; but it was only too apparent that various essential elements of the national body-politic were lacking.

Madame Madero had on some sort of somber brocade with a hint of jewel sparkling in her lace jabot, and received in the big Sala de los Embajadores. After greeting her, however, we went out to the terrace, where such wonders were going on in the heavens that man for the moment seemed indeed dust. Great bodies of clouds in the form of a vast rose-colored throng, which Madero ought properly to have been with, were taking [161] their way across the western sky, and purple shadows began to come up from the valley, enveloping the city as we watched what I can only call the "orb of day" disappear behind the hills. Madero strikes me as being rather a type apart, not specially Mexican, but such a type as appears in strange moments of the history of the nation to which it belongs.

November 25th.

Waiting for lunch after a most delightful morning in the park with Baroness R. and the French and Belgian ministers. I don't know if it was Marina's[25] spirit, which, according to the Indian tradition, still slips among the cypresses, or other unrecorded ghosts; but as we walked through the Calzada de los Poetas and los Filósofos, the matchless sun filtering through the branches of the old ahuehuetes, their bronzy hue the only sign of winter one can note here, we all succumbed to some enchantment.

There is a moss-hung cypress near one of the little lakes, called the Arbol de Moctezuma. It, with the Noche Triste tree, witnessed the fall of the Aztec Empire. There still remains an old inscription on a walled-in spring, marking the terminus of the Aztec aqueduct which brought drinking-water to Montezuma's capital from Chapultepec. The inscription, which I have sometimes [162] dallied by, says the aqueduct was renovated in 1571 by the fourth viceroy. It faces the dustiest of tramway lines now, but one is thankful for any writing on any wall that gives a clue to the past.

Near the great tree is "Montezuma's Bath," where the water still bubbles up, only now the sprucest and most modern of flower-beds encircle it. This is the special haunt of Marina, but it is said that when an Indian has seen her at the ahuehuete pond he himself is seen no more.

We sauntered about for a while listening to the music, and then the gentlemen proposed rowing Baroness R. and myself about in the tiny boats that are for hire. Once out from under the trees, one became modern and completely objective, and Mr. Lefaivre and I discussed European diplomatic appointments of his and my governments as we rowed about on the shallow, artificial lakes under the hottest of suns, between the made lands of the new section of the park.

But every time we passed under the little bridge into the dimness of the narrow, tree-and-vine-grown banks of the little stream leading from two sides of the duck-pond, even though the band played a waltz from "The Balkan Princess," and a selection of "Lohengrin," and children were shouting and motors coming and going, that magic fell upon us. I didn't know if it were Aztec or Spanish ghosts, or spirits of the heroes of 1847, who assailed me.

One thing is sure. Those old ahuehuetes keep everything that was ever confided to them and trap the unwary with it. At this season, too, one begins to see familiar migratory birds come to pass the cold season in Mexico, recalling with a note of homesickness the distant land of one's birth. A "ruby-crowned kinglet" was perched on a low branch by the water—and some kind [163] of a "warbler" was warbling New England lays all over the ancient park.

November 30th.

Zapata has just given some more building material to the new republic, in the shape of what he calls El Plan de Ayala, of the date of November 25th, written for him by one of the Vasquez Gómez brothers. To our surprise, the brilliant editor of La Prensa has spoken not unfavorably of it.

I don't know if it is bowing to the inevitable, or expediency, that makes him advocate the use of the aforesaid material, which provides for the division of the lands of the state of Morelos, the only state in which, for climatic reasons (not political), the distribution of land could be undertaken without installing gigantic irrigation processes impossible for the Indians.

All through Mexican history revolutionary leaders have launched these Plans.

Iturbide published the Plan de Iguala, February 24, 1823, known as Las Tres Garantías, Porfirio Diaz the Plan de Noria, 1869; Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosí is what we are now living and breathing (and sometimes panting) by.[26] [164]


The feast of Guadalupe—Peace reigns on the Isthmus—Earthquakes—Madero in a dream—The French colony ball—Studies in Mexican democracy—Christmas preparations

December 1st.

A pinching, cold snap, the result of a norte of long duration blowing from Vera Cruz. The heat quickly goes out of the body, and at this altitude is not easily made up again. I have been penetrated to my soul as if by a thin knife. The air is so attenuated that there is nothing to it except cold, no exhilaration. The oil-stoves, I have discovered, are not lighted with impunity. They have a way of suddenly emitting a long, high column of black smoke, after which something detonates, and the room and the people in it are covered by a fine, black soot. One rings, the source of trouble is removed, and one stays cold.

Very pleasant lunch here yesterday; the only way to get warm is to eat, drink, and be merry, especially this last. The luncheon was for the Belgian minister, who had been appointed to Copenhagen. Can't you hear us telling him about the Rabens and the Frijs, Klampenborg, and the Hôtel d'Angleterre? The Lefaivres brought a friend who is staying with them—Vicomte de Kargaroué, a Breton of the vieille noblesse, who is that anomaly, a French globe-trotter.

I am sending you in the form of Christmas cards some samples of present-day feather-work; a pale [165] relic of the plumaje the Aztecs used to be so famous for, persisting through the ages. It doesn't at all resemble the beautiful feather-work mantle, said to have belonged to Montezuma, that I saw among the treasures in the Hofburg at Vienna.

December 4th.

Society is agog here; it is the first appearance on any scene, since my arrival, of the erste Gesellschaft. A young man shot and killed another at a famous club, and then died as the result of an accidental wound to himself. He was married on his death-bed to the mother of his children; the whole is a story for the pen of Ibañez or Echegaray. For hours the streets were filled with carriages and autos taking floral tributes to the stricken mother. Oh, the hearts of mothers! So many crimes, social, civil, and national are being committed all over the world, but everywhere some souls are yearning for perfection—to keep it all going!

December 6th.

My little luncheon for American women went off very well. The dishes Teresa knows—the classic huachinango, cold and "well presented," with a good mayonnaise sauce, the small, fat-breasted ducks with peas, that every one is serving at this season here, were the "chief of our diet."

Mrs. Kilvert, Mrs. C. R. Hudson, Mrs. Paul Hudson, the wife of the editor of the Mexican Herald, Mrs. McLaren, Mrs. Beck, Mrs. Bassett and the ambassadress and her sister came.

This is just a word while waiting for Mrs. Wilson to come back for me to go on a calling bout with her. She goes home to spend the holidays with her boys, so I shall have to do what Christmas honors are done—a tree and incidental tea.

I inclose a little verse by Joaquin Miller that [166] I cut out of the Herald this morning. Though outrageously bad, the line "glorious gory Mexico," is unforgetable.


Thou Italy of the Occident,

Land of flowers and summer climes,

Of holy priests and horrid crimes;

Land of the cactus and sweet cocoa;

Richer, than all the Orient

In gold and glory, in want and woe,

In self-denial, in days misspent,

In truth and treason, in good and guilt,

In ivied ruins and altars low,

In battered walls and blood misspilt;

Glorious gory Mexico.


Among our visits to-day was one on Madame Creel. They have a very large and handsome house in the Calle de Londres, not yet quite finished. Everything French. In the drawing-room where Madame C. received were two splendid Sèvres vases, and great French-plate mirrors and French brocades cover the walls. Mr. Creel, fresh-complexioned, white-haired, speaking English very well, and liking to recall ambassadorial days in Washington, took us over the uncompleted part of the house. The large ball-room is awaiting special bronze electric-light appliques, door and window fastenings, now on their way from Paris, where all the woodwork of the house was executed.[27] [167]

December 11th, evening.

This afternoon Madame Lefaivre and Mr. de Soto and I went out to Guadalupe to see the preparations for to-morrow's feast, the greatest in Mexico.

Indians were arriving from all directions, bivouacking close up against the church. They seemed to have brought not only all their children, but all their furniture in the shape of petates and earthen bowls, and any incidental live-stock they possessed in the shape of goat or dog. It was quite cold, and in the dusk they seemed like their own ancestors coming over the hills for the worship of dreaded and dreadful gods.

Nothing except the Deity and the temple has changed since the old days; they themselves are unmodified, and seemingly unmodifiable. I dare say one would give a gasp if one could really see what they thought about the Virgin of Guadalupe, or the "Cause of Causes."

They come in from hidden mountain towns, where images of other gods are still graven, and where charms and incantations are used, which doesn't at all affect their devotion to "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe." Often they are many days en route, and all night until dawn they will be arriving at the great shrine.

We crossed the plaza to a near-by house, where a painter-friend of Mr. de S.'s lived, going up some winding stone steps in a house built at the end of the sixteenth century, giving into irregular-shaped rooms with strange windows apparently not designed to give light. The paintings portrayed little or nothing of the charm of Mexico, but Madame Lefaivre found one of some place near Cordoba, which she thought for a moment that she wanted. I would much rather have closed my eyes and looked in on my inner Mexican gallery, or been out with the mysterious Indians in the mysterious twilight which was enveloping the crowded plaza. [168]

When we finally came out lanterns were being hung on the little booths, tortilleras were slapping up their cakes, and everywhere there was a smell of the pungent peppers and all sorts of nameless things they put into them. Children were rolled up asleep or playing about half-clad in the cold dusk, and zarape-enveloped men bent over dimly lighted squares of cloth laid out on the ground, engrossed in games of chance. I was suddenly sad, as one might be at seeing rolled out the inexorable scroll of a subject people.

December 12th.

Beautiful weather, soft, shining, clear—but that cold snap was a terror. Many little brown Indian babies returned to their Maker by way of bronchitis, pneumonia, and kindred ills. It is good to think of them warm, safe with the Lord, so many children with none or insufficient clothing in that cruel, lifeless cold!

It has been rather a day of contrasts, for in the morning I mingled again with the Indian world at Guadalupe,[28] and in the afternoon I went to the benefit held for a new charity hospital by a committee of American women. The affair crystallized about the art exhibit of Miss Helen Hyde, who has a collection of the most lovely Japanese things done on her recent visit to Nippon. She calls them chromozylographs, and they are charmingly framed in plain black strips. I bought several after harrowing indecisions.

Madame Madero came and had tea with us at a table over which Mrs. Wilson presided. Madame Madero was almost extinguished by a huge bronze-green and purple hat matching her velvet dress. Madame Calero and Madame Lie made up the party, with Mrs. Stronge, the newly married wife of the British minister, [169] who has just arrived. She had on some interesting emeralds, picked up in Bogotá, their last post.

Mrs. Wilson goes to-morrow. I always miss her kindness and her consideration.

Christmas is in the air. We dine with the ambassador at the Kilverts' at Coyoacan on that day. My thoughts will be with my dear ones, and the seas, the mountains, and the valleys between will hurt.

Just now the following was handed in to me through Mr. Cummings: "Governor Juarez left for Oaxaca last night. General Hernandez and troops left for Juchitan this morning. Peace reigns on the Isthmus."

It looks as if it soon might be time for a lone exotic niece to betake her to those regions.

December 15th.

A very interesting letter from San Gerónimo of the 12th came this morning. The governor, with his party, had just left the house for Tehuantepec and Salina Cruz. He had come most unostentatiously, with only his secretaries and a few officials—no guard, no private car, no banquets—as he said he had come to restore peace, and not for feasting.

The celebrated Che Gómez, an hour or so before, had been sitting, uninvited and unafraid, on the front porch. When he learned that the governor was expected he betook himself off, with followers and guard, to another station. The governor subsequently wired the police at Rincon Antonio to arrest him on the arrival of the train before he got out of the state (Oaxaca). He was taken to jail, and that night was shot with his men.

No word of regret anywhere for his fate, and I dare say he gave up his own life as easily as he had taken that of others. Governor Juarez was warmly welcomed by all the towns, even by poor, ruined Juchitan, Che Gómez's own town, with open arms and flowers. [170] The law-abiding citizens are returning to their dismantled homes, after living in the bush, from hand to mouth, for weeks.

December 16th.

This morning at 11.30 a "good" earthquake. It suddenly got very dark, and I went to the window, my infant clutching at my dress, to see what was happening, when the roofs of the houses opposite began to undulate, and I had to catch hold of the window, or we would have been thrown to the floor.

The horses stopped short with perfectly stiff legs, and people began running out of the doors and kneeling in the street and shrieking, "Misericordia! Misericordia!" most uncomfortably. Nothing was broken in the house, but every picture was left hanging askew, and pale servants served a luncheon which showed the effects on them!

Elena appeared collarless, with damp, thick hair floating down her back, and Cecilia had a blue rebozo twisted about her, no hint of white anywhere on her person. They passed the dishes at an angle of forty-five degrees.


At three o'clock a dimness again fell upon the city, and there was the faint, uncanny sound of sliding objects and slipping pictures and swaying doors and curtains. In a second of time it had passed, but the hint of cosmic forces leaves a decided trace on mere flesh and blood.

We went to the reception at Chapultepec on Thursday, "par charité, pas par snobisme," as somebody unkindly said. The Mexican families of repute boycott the Madero receptions. The few Mexicans who do go don't figure in the real national accounting. The diplomats feel that they at least ought to go, so last Thursday the inclosed clipping was produced. [171]

Madame Madero, though small and worn-looking, is always dignified and courteous, and receives with simplicity and cordiality. Madero seems in a continual ecstasy; one would think he found Chapultepec the seventh heaven. He is full of confidence in himself and in the country. A happy man, one involuntarily says in looking at him. To-night is the ball the French colony gives for him.

December 17th.

The reception at the "Cercle Français," in their fine quarters in the Calle de Motolinia, was a great success. The President with Madame Lefaivre, in a handsome black-and-white gown, and Mr. Lefaivre with Madame Madero in a dark, rich evening dress, headed the procession to an elaborate supper, all following according to the protocol, Mr. Madero and Mr. Lefaivre sitting facing each other. Allart took me in.

Everything was decorated with the tricolor, and red and blue and white lights, and masses of natural flowers, and very good music played continuously; the affair was got up by the wealthy French commerçants in honor of the President and his wife.

Madame Lefaivre said the President talked to her the whole time in a most sanguine manner about the reforms he intends to introduce, especially in the matter of public instruction, and was wrapped about with illusions and dreams as to his rôle of apostle charged with the regeneration of Mexico.

Afterward, when he made his speech in answer to the toast, he recalled happy souvenirs of his youth in the Lycée de Versailles. When they subsequently made the tour of the salon, Madame Lefaivre, in passing me, whispered that she was toute confuse at feeling herself so big on the arm of the little President. He saluted right and left with a smile which, without being fixed, [172] was always there. I think he was very pleased with the occasion and its international setting.

It is always interesting to see any colony turn out in distant posts, and here the French colony, representing very large interests—banking, industrial, mercantile—is numerous and important, comparable only to that in Moscow.

The large department shops, à la Bon Marché, like the "Palacio de Hierro" and the "Puerto de Vera Cruz," are in French hands. From the days of their intervention, the French have invested largely in Mexico, and now I hear there is much uneasiness in Gallic quarters, so many interests are to be protected, and the protection is an unknown quantity. Mr. Lefaivre is untiring in his efforts—but order can only come through the government itself.

Previous to the famous elections, or rather "selections," as I prefer to call them (the word elections could be dropped from use and not missed in Mexico), the Partido Católico, among other parties of conservative tendencies, was not efficiently formed. Iglesias Calderon represented the old anti-clerical party, and De la Barra, in spite of his determination to retire from public life, was made the candidate of the National Catholic party, and of the Liberal party as well, for the Vice-Presidency.

It was "generally understood" that he would be defeated. N. said last night, informally, to Madero: "It is a pity; Mr. de la Barra has such a good standing abroad." Madero replied: "I will see that he is elected from somewhere else." And he was, later, from Querétaro, his native town, as senator, I think.

They haven't got the "hang" of democracy here, nor any suspicion of political parties having rights and dignities, and it is discouraging to see them trying to work [173] out their questions without any such suspicions. It is war to the knife or the adjective when one man differs from another.

Bulnes had one of his flashing, witty articles in El Imparcial not long ago, à propos of the candidature of Pino Suarez, in which he says that as in classic days the language of intellectuals was Latin, now in Latin-America that of the politicians is any kind of vile language, and to be in conformity with electoral urbanity, when meeting an acquaintance, one should salute him by saying, "I forestall any remark you may make, by telling you that if you hold opinions differing from mine you are a scoundrel!"

December 18th.

I am inviting for my Xmas festivity those with children, and the childless, the colleagues, the Bedfords, the Bonillas, Kilverts, Judge W., the ambassador's great friend, and members of the embassy. Mr. Wilson has gone for a few days to the hot country to try to get rid of his cold, and N. is looking after things in his absence. I have sent off seventy post-cards, quite a document of this strange land.

Very pleasant dinner at the French Legation last night. Bridge afterward till an unduly late hour for Mexico. The Lefaivres have been here three years already, and would take a European post without urging. You would like them—cultivated, sincere, and kind, and Lefaivre shows his long training, his Latin-American experience in his full appreciation of the situation. They came here from Havana, and keep open house, constantly entertaining their colony, as well as doing more than their share of "nourishing" their colleagues.

Have just been with Madame Lefaivre to the tea given by — for his extraordinary-looking daughter, a huge, dark-eyed, fresh-complexioned creature, à la belle Fatima, [174] innocent, ignorant, and wanting a husband; a not unusual type here, but not in our Anglo-Saxon category at all.

December 19th, Tuesday.

Hohler dropped in late for a few minutes. He is going off on one of his long trips into the heart of the country. When I asked him which one of his antique comrades would accompany him, he pulled out a fine little edition of Virgil, diamond-printed on matchless paper. He is endlessly strong and keen about things in general, and now that the minister has arrived, can leave for a few days' outing.

Some of the long-expected furniture from London has come, and the Stronges are busy installing themselves. The "lion and the unicorn" are always most generous to those who represent them abroad.

Two interesting young women with letters from New York, from Mr. Choate, also called—Miss Hague and Miss Brownell. They are painting and collecting folk-songs. I am thankful for any one coming here to record the fading glories of Mexico with intelligence and love. They will come for the Christmas tree, also.

December 21st.

Monsignore Vay de Vaya appeared yesterday en route for Panama. You know space scarcely exists for him. He found a warm welcome, and I have a luncheon for him on Saturday. He sends many regards, and hopes to meet you at Nauheim again next summer. I am asking the Lefaivres, Riedls, Carmona, chef du protocole, De Soto, the Belgian minister, et al.

I enclose letter of the 17th from Aunt L., who has just been to Juchitan, saying that the town looked very battered. The jefe not yet back. Among domestic items she says a large packet of cranberries has arrived; [175] after thirty years of Mexico, it is not quite so commonplace as it sounds, but rather as if a denizen of a Vermont village had received a crate of mangoes.

December 22d, Friday.

N. and I went to call on Monsignore this morning. He is stopping at the Hotel Iturbide. He was out, but I took a look about the imposing patio, three-storied, colonnaded, and pierced with large, beautifully carved doorways and windows. It was started on a magnificent scale for the Emperor Iturbide, who paid the usual Mexican penalty for power at the hands of the usual Mexican patriots before it was finished. 'Tis known that as a hotel it leaves to be desired; the dust of revolutions and ages covers the spacious corridors. There are strange silences when you call for hot water, or any kind of water, for that matter. And you eat somewhere else.

Yesterday another reception at Chapultepec. Madame Madero is much changed from the simple-appearing woman of the Von Hintze dinner. I see she naturally inclines to a somber richness of dress—dark velvets, dull brocades—which I think fit her passionate, ambitious, resolute temperament, though sometimes overpowering to her small physique.

Yesterday she had on a deep-blue brocaded velvet, with some sort of heavy, lusterless fringe, and there was a decided though still discreet gleam of jewels. That air of coming from the provinces, but nice provinces, is somewhat gone.

The President slipped in quietly, later, without the playing of the national hymn. There was quite a musical program. Madame Esmeralda de Grossmann played beautifully on the harp. It appears she has an international reputation. The daughter of —, attired in [176] a very tight-skirted, lemon-colored satin dress, trimmed with swan's-down, one of her pupils, started to play, broke down, was further discomfited and finally routed by irate paternal glances. Angela Madero sings charmingly with natural style, and gave Massenet's "Elégie" delightfully. One is continually interested in the composition of the presidential receptions, which means so much more than appears. Madero's father and mother were there, with various daughters and sons and sons' wives.

The Vice-President, young, tall, dark-skinned, black-eyed, black-mustached, regular of features, without, however, any perceptible color of personality, was accompanied by his wife and a contingent of satellites, moving wherever he moved with the regularity of the heavenly bodies—no intention of revolving alone in the unknown social orbit. The Corps Diplomatique was out in force, and the Protocole, Carmona, Nervo, Pulido, etc., also Don Felix Romero, chief of the Supreme Court, and his wife, Judge and Mrs. Sepulveda of California, naturalized Americans, with a handsome daughter. But beyond these I did not see any of what might be called "pillars of society," or, indeed, anything remotely resembling props to uphold the new order. We presented Monsignor Vay de Vaya, who struck the international note in the pink-and-white-and-gold salon des ambassadeurs, whose spaces were known to those princes of his monarchy, Maximilian and Carlota.

December 23d, evening.

The Christmas tide is flowing full about the Alameda, where the Indians have again stocked their puestos with reminders of the season. We have just come from a little tournée between the rows of booths hung with lanterns of every size and color, the odor of la race cuivrée [177] mingling with the more familiar scent of freshly cut pine-trees. Tiny plaster and terra-cotta groups of the "Three Kings" abound—a white man, a negro, a Mongolian in various fanciful garbings—shone on by the largest of stars, and all sorts of "Holy Families," especially the "Flight into Egypt," where the burro seems to have come into his own.

On all sides were great piles of peanuts, fruits known and unknown, highly colored sweets, heaps upon heaps of fragile potteries, and charming, pliable baskets, brought to the city from mountain fastnesses or distant plains by Indian families afoot.

Soft, shining-bodied children were sleeping in the most fortuitous of positions, uncovered, in the chill night air. I could but think of blue-eyed, white-skinned children in warm nurseries. They lay beside grotesque naguales—figures with hideous human faces on woolly four-footed bodies, whose raison d'être is to frighten. The population inclines to the grotesque, anyway, on the slightest provocation, and side by side with the naguales are other hideous clown-like figures—piñatas—which are the high-lights of certain time-hallowed post-Christmas festivities. They are of all sizes and prices—from little paper dolls hanging from bamboo rods that will decorate adobe huts to the more expensive figures, bulky about the waist, whose tinsel and tissue-paper garments conceal a great earthenware jar filled with toys and candies.

The cohetes are sounding as I write—a sort of fire-cracker—announcing the advent of the Child to this Indian world.

As for the Posadas, we are evidently not to be initiated into their mysteries. The Mexican families of note continue to sport their oaks since the coming in of the Madero administration, and the Diplomatic Corps this [178] year is left out in the cold on these intimate occasions, which are family parties held during nine days before Christmas, symbolic of the efforts of Mary and Joseph to find a resting-place in crowded Bethlehem.

December 24th.

We see the list of diplomatic shifts; among them are a few real Christmas presents. Dearing, who returned a short time ago, is made assistant chief of the Latin-American division of the State Department. He has made and will continue to make une bonne carrière. Schuyler, whom I have not seen since he passed through Copenhagen en route for Petersburg, takes his place here. Cresson goes to London, which will please him; the Blisses get Paris, quite the handsomest of all the presents. Weitzel, who was here when we arrived, goes to Nicaragua, and so on through a long list. I felt, when I saw the changes, a sort of hankering for the Aryan flesh-pots, a sudden feeling of my unrelatedness to Latin America. I was, so to speak, for the moment "fed up" on the tropics with a thick sauce of world pain. Any light-colored diplomat will know just what I mean, and I dare say the dark ones feel it in higher latitudes.

Diplomacy, as offered by the United States Government, is a most unsettling thing, anyway. The basic uncertainties of the carrière, to begin with, and then, if you are in a place you like, the feeling that at any time the trump may sound, and if you don't like it, hoping to be changed. However, it all goes up like smoke along with other human things. [179]


The first Christmas in Mexico City—Hearts sad and gay—Piñatas—Statue to Christopher Columbus.

Christmas Day, 1911.

My first thought was of my precious mother, l'absence est le plus grand des maux. I went to midnight mass at the French church with Madame Lefaivre. The Adeste Fideles was beautifully sung, and I thought of the millions of throats, all over the glad, sad earth, singing the peace-bringing air.

I was so happy that of the people assembled around the tree three knew you and spoke of you—Monsignore Vay de Vaya, and Mrs. Bedford and her daughter. It was sad to have Aunt L. so near and yet so far.

The little party went off very well—tiny souvenirs for each. Elim was overwhelmed with toys of the most elaborate kind, and I was almost embarrassed at one time, as they came piling in. The only children present, alas, were Jim Chermont, Mrs. C. R. Hudson's pretty blond-haired little girl, the Japanese children, and little Harold Hotchkiss. They played near the tree, mostly lying on their little tummies, with their heels in the air, as near the lights as possible.

Allart sent the dearest miniature charro costume as a present to Elim, with a line that he was too sad to come; his beloved little daughter is in Belgium.

In the morning I drove down to the San Juan Letran market and brought back a great bundle of the gorgeous [180] flor de Noche Buena (Poinsettia), most difficult to arrange on account of the thick, angular stems, and not too trustworthy about keeping fresh, even here on its native heath. But the red made lovely splashes of color in the rooms, which were packed. It ended by my inviting every Anglo-Saxon in town, as well as the diplomats, but I have noted that on festive occasions people like being packed.

The punch, after an excellent receipt given me by Madame Bonilla, was good and heady, as a punch should be, and the ambassador sent his Belgian maître d'hôtel to superintend the serving of the refrescos. I know, however, that many a thought was far, and many a heart sad, because of separations and vanishings.

At four o'clock to-day I light up the tree for the servants, and give them their presents. They have carte blanche to bring any of their related young, so I imagine we will be fairly numerous. I then take Elim to the Chermonts' tree, and we dine at the Kilverts' at Coyoacan, driving out with the ambassador and Mr. Potter and Mr. Butler.

To-morrow Elim goes to a piñata given by Madame Bonilla, childless herself, but always so eager to make children happy. Wednesday to another at Madame Clara Scherer's. I don't know how he will stand so much "going out." He and Jim Chermont had quite a little "shindy" toward the end of the afternoon yesterday, at which the tiny Jap assisted with joy.

The piñata is hung from the ceiling of the zaguan (vestibule entrance into the patio). Each child in turn is blindfolded, presented with a long stick, turned around, and then told to proceed. When a lucky hit breaks the piñata, there is a stampede for the scattered treasure.

On Wednesday Madame Lefaivre has Monsignore to [181] dinner; they had met before in Paris at the Princesse de Polignac's.

Elim went to bed with a goat with sharp horns, from Madame Lie, a whip, and nearly a brigade of soldiers, which I removed from him in the "first sweet dreams of night."

December 28th.

The piñatas continue, one this afternoon at Mrs. C. R. Hudson's. They appear to be quite exciting, for little darlings dream and moan about them in their sleep.

Yesterday Elim was taking the papers out of the waste-paper basket in the library and loading them onto one of the Christmas wagons. He was clad in pale blue, looking inexpressibly fair and remote from earthiness, when he raised those blue, blue eyes to me and said: "Mama, ich bin der Mistmann" (I am the garbage-man). Talking of contrasts!

Now I must dress for the dinner at the French Legation for Monsignore. He is looking very worn. These long world-journeys that he makes for his emigration work take it out of him. From the founding of an orphanage in Corea to the visiting of Hungarian dock laborers on the Isthmus of Panama is rather a stretch of nerves as well as space.

We have the news that General Reyes' Christmas gift was his surrender to the Federal troops—quite a pleasant surprise for Mr. Madero's "stocking." He is eliminated; but all seem ready to fight over the bones of peace that Diaz left—though not one of them is worthy to tie his shoe-strings from the point of civic government and keeping of order, which last I now see is the first requisite for any state.

There is a cartoon in the Chicago Inter-Ocean of Madero trying to hold his hat on, with Diaz watching from Europe. That Parthian shot of his, that in the end the [182] Government would have to use his methods, is going home.

December 29th.

The "angel boy" has lost a front tooth—one of those that you watched come. It fell out at Madame —'s piñata, in her big, too-handsome house, where the entertainment was most elaborate, and the toys that were scrambled for when the olla was broken were of the most expensive kind. Afterward all imaginable rich things were served in the big dining-room. The hottest, pepperiest tamales were passed around to about forty little Mexican darlings, who ate them, not only with relish, but composure; my taste brought tears to my eyes and a call for water.

Elim left his seat to bring his tooth triumphantly to me and tell me I must have it set in gold. He is so little that he will be around for years with a hole in his mouth. I felt much the way I would have felt had I discovered him growing a mustache. Madame —'s house, in good taste outside, architecturally, is like her pictures inside, the frames too rich for what they inclose. There are agate-topped tables and malachite bric-à-brac in heavy gilt vitrines, and "hand-painted" screens. It is beautifully situated in the Glorieta Colon, the rond-point where the statue of Christopher Columbus, by a French artist, was raised in 1877. It shows him surrounded by the two monks who helped him in the great adventure, and Fray Pedro de la Gante and Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, lovers and protectors of the Indians.

The monks are Padre Juan Perez de Marchena, prior of the convent of Santa Maria Rabada, who had the wit to understand and the power to further Columbus's project. The other, Fray Diego Dehasa, was the confessor and adviser of King Ferdinand. It's too bad [183] Humboldt could not have seen it, for he says: "On peut traverser l'Amérique Espagnole depuis Buenos Aires jusqu'à Monterrey, depuis la Trinité et Porto Rico jusqu'à Panama et Veragua, et nulle part on ne rencontrera un monument national que la reconnaissance publique ait élevé à la gloire de Christophe Colomb et de Hernan Cortés."

December 29th.

Two sportsmen of note, Count Sala and Mr. Williams, came for lunch to-day, also Riedl. They are here en route to Tampico for tarpon-fishing, the only really fine sport Mexico offers to foreigners. They were at the delightful dinner at the French Legation the other night for Monsignore.

December 30, 1911.

One of Aunt Louise's exquisite letters came this morning—I will forward it another time. She begins by saying, "Where are you, wandering star?" and wishes me, wherever the end of the earthly year finds me, "joys that reside in little things, as well as fortune's greater gifts."

Outside night and snow were falling. Within lamps were lighted and fire glowing. Genevieve was playing "Robin Adair," and her "heart was suddenly sad to plumbless depths," because of separations. She closes with a verse (I don't remember from whom):

When windflowers blossom on the sea,

And fishes skim along the plain,

Then we who part this weary day,

Then you and I will meet again.



Off for Tehuantepec—A journey through the jungles—The blazing tropics—Through Chivela Pass in the lemon-colored dawn—Ravages of the revolution—A race of queens

January 1, 1912.

My first thought flies to you this morning. I have sorrowed, smiled, in other years, perhaps learned to pray, so mayhap my heart is ready for 1912.

N. has gone to the Palace, where the President receives the gentlemen of the Diplomatic Corps; this afternoon Madame Madero receives both messieurs et dames. Last night a pleasant dinner at the Embassy, at which I presided. Americans only, the ambassador's special friends, and home in reasonable time. I was "hung solitary in the universe" when twelve o'clock struck and kindly healths were drunk. I thought of the light already beginning to break over the wintry Zürich hills, and of you, and Elliott and his Calvary, and that other dear one of our blood, lost to men but not to God. Was he sleeping quietly?

January 2d.

N. came in a while ago with arrangements complete for the trip to Tehuantepec. A telegram from Aunt Laura last night says: "All quiet here again; so glad you are at last coming."

It seems like a fairy-tale that I am off to San Gerónimo, that exotic memory of my childhood. I remember we called it San Geronímo instead of pronouncing it San Herónimo. How the letters used to come dropping in—and [185] the presents! The red-leather-covered sandalwood box, with its brass nails; the strange, square, old Spanish silver coins, just chopped off, as one would a bit of dough, and stamped hot; the painted gourds, the idols and the bright bits of embroidery.

N. has just been delegated to go to get an American out of jail, the third one this week. They are taken up for nothing; we are not popular here just now.

Madame Madero's New-Year's reception for the Corps Diplomatique was poorly attended and there was no enlivening touch in the way of refreshments and nothing in which to drink healths. The wife of the — minister asked the President for a verre d'eau toward the end. He was very apologetic, pleasant, and modest, and said: "Oh, we don't know how to do these things." He seemed full of good intentions and hope for 1912—but alack! alack! never has it been seen that nobility alone is able to maintain its possessor!

Elim is begging me to bring him a monkey when I come back. I hate to disappoint him—but do you see me traveling with anything belonging to that species? The trip is said to be magnificent—two nights and one day. I wish it were two days and one night.

Aunt L. is thinking of me and preparing for me; I know what it means for some one of her own to penetrate to her fastness, or rather her jungle. Mr. Cummings has put the telegraph at N.'s and my disposal while I am away. I have not been outside the Federal district since I arrived, so content with the treasures of this matchless valley; but of course one easily gets the Reisefieber.

I will write en route to the "blazing tropics." Now, farewell.

January 4th, Córdoba, 10 a.m.

We have just descended into a dew-drenched world. It is supposed to be the "dry season," estación de secas. [186] A warm, wet, glistening air comes in at the window, and my furs are in the rack.

I have been watching endless coffee-plantations with red berries shining among the foliage, and great tobacco-fields of broad, shiny leaves. Banana-trees grow close to the tracks, and everywhere are the most perishable of homes, built of what looks like nothing more solid than corn-stalks and dried leaves.

Cordoba was founded early in the seventeenth century by a viceroy, who modestly called it after himself.


A series of the most gorgeous mountain vistas, tunnel after tunnel, and in between each darkness a world of beauty. Lovely palms abound, delicate yet definite in their flowery symmetry. The Pico de Orizaba has made various farewell appearances, one more enchanting and regretful than the other. Now a great plain is rolling away, of seemingly incredible fertility, with shadows of clouds on its shining stretches.

The faithful banana, which was first brought to this continent by a Dominican monk, via Haiti, about the time of the Conquest certainly came into its own in this hot, moist land. One of the early ecclesiastical writers in Mexico was so impressed that he hazards the statement that it was the forbidden fruit that tempted Eve. It certainly continues to tempt both sexes and all ages to idleness.

Presidio, in the cañon of the Rio Blanco.

I have been absorbed in watching the tropical jungles, where form is eliminated. Every tree is choked or cloaked by some sort of enveloping convolvuli; every wall has its formless abundant covering. No silhouettes anywhere, [187] no "cut" to anything—which is why all this richness could, I imagine, get monotonous.

Tierra Blanca, 3.30.

In the "blazing tropics"! A heavy, hot atmosphere comes in at the window. All along there has been much sitting of a dark race under banana-trees, where not even a change of position seems necessary in order to be fed.

We have had a long wait here at Tierra Blanca, which is the junction of a branch line to Vera Cruz, and I have been watching station life. It's very highly colored. Here and there appears an unmistakably American face—the "exploiters" some would call them; but it seems to me they gather up all this vague splendor, this endless abundance, into something definite, with benefits to the greater number, though some get "left," of course.

There is a decided note of carpe diem transposed into orange, scarlet, and black, which all the coming and going of men, women, and children with baskets of coffee-beans doesn't do away with. In the tropics the white man is king, be he Yankee, Spaniard, or Northman, and it is part of the lure. The abundances of Mother Earth are for his harvesting; a strange, native race seems there to do him honor, render him service, asking only in return enough of the abundance to keep soul in body for the allotted span.

We have just passed the broad Rio Mariposa (Butterfly River), and are at a place called "Obispo." Indian women are holding up baskets of the most gorgeous fruits, babes on their backs, cigarettes in their mouths. We are near the celebrated Valle Nacional. I remember some terrible articles in one of the magazines about the human miseries in the working of the tobacco-factories, herds of men, women, and children locked together into great sheds at night during tropical storms, [188] enslavements, separations. It's easy to hope it is not so, but I dare say it is.

We are zigzagging through dense jungle with the gaudiest splashes of color. Flashy birds are flying about. Sometimes one wonders if it is bird or flower. All the green is studded with bright spots. There are great, flat, meadow-like spaces, the soil looking rich enough to bear food for all the hungry millions of the earth, and numberless cattle are grazing over it. But oh! the inexpressible slipshodness of the human abodes! Anything perishable, nearest at hand, sugar-cane stalks, palm leaves, continue to compose the dwellings; and oh! the crowds of children, of human beings, just as slipshod, just as perishable!

The sun is setting. Great pink brushes of cirrus are covering the sky, against a blue that hates to give way, but in a moment I know it will be dark.


A wonderful day, but somehow I am glad I was born in the temperate zone. I suppose it's the New England blood protesting against all this, as something wasteful and unrelated. Since we passed the heavy-flowing Rio Mariposa I have been having more than a touch of "world-pain." The light is so poor in my state-room that I can't read, but I arrive at San Gerónimo at 5.30, which means a 4.30 rising, so good night.

January 5th, 5.30 a.m.

Chivela Pass in the lemon-colored dawn! I don't know what I went through in the night, but now I am descending to the Pacific. Sharp outlines of treeless, pinkish hills are everywhere showing themselves, with here and there patches of the classic and beautiful organos cactus. It is almost chilly. My heart and [189] I are ready for the meeting. The porter tells me there are only two more stations.

San Gerónimo, January 6th, evening.

As the train got in to San G. I saw a very pale, very blue-eyed, slim, white-clad figure. New England, though a thousand cycles had been passed in the tropics. We met in silence, two full hearts, and in silence we went over to the house....

January 8th, evening.

We have been walking up and down the garden under the big fig-tree, where a huge and very beautiful huacamaia, a sort of parrot, with a yellow-and-red head and a long blue tail makes his home. We have been thinking and talking in a way so foreign to the thick tropical darkness enveloping us.

The sun went down on a world of ashes of roses and then this soft, very black night fell. At sunset we took a turn about the sandy, desolate-looking town.

Women, scriptural women, were washing and bathing in the broad, high-banked stream. It reminded me of Tissot's pictures of the Holy Land—the barren banks of the pebbly river, the fig-trees, the little groups. The women wear most lovely garments as to outline. A wide skirt with a deep flounce is tucked up in front, for more ease in moving, and the falling flounce gives quite a Tanagra line.

Little girls are always dressed, from their tenderest age, in skirts too long; but little boys go naked till they are eleven or twelve, and the clad and the unclad play about together.

When Don Porfirio took things in hand the boys were made to dress to go to school, and as a last touch of fashion made to tuck their shirts inside their trousers. It appears, however, they only tuck them in as they [190] enter the school door, pulling them out when they are released.

... But Aunt L. says she is tired of it all—the naked children, the barren stretches, the carpe diem, the ultimate unrelatedness of her life to its frame, though I kept thinking of Henley's line, "and in her heart some late lark singing." ...

... Each life, it seems to me, short or long, is wonderful when it becomes a perfected story, if we could only get it in perspective, against its own destined background; not blurred and mixed with other unrelated lives, but by itself, in relief, as the great artists show their masterpieces. I can't feel the ordinariness of any human life. Some are dreadful, some beautiful, some undeveloped; but each in its way could be an infinitely perfect story were the artist there to record it.

January 10th, evening.

To-day we drove over to Juchitan, the "county-seat"—Aunt L. to get some papers witnessed and signed at the jefatura, and to show me the ravages of the revolution of November.

The country, as we drove along, was scorching, dry, light-colored, with only an occasional tree and the irrepressible mesquite growing everywhere out of the sandy soil. We passed dreadful, screaming, wooden carts, with their solid wooden wheels, drawn by thin oxen, trying to nibble the withered grass; and there were herds of skeleton-like cattle dotted over the thorny cactus-covered fields.

There is a great hill, Istlaltepec, which separates San Gerónimo (fortunately, I should say) from lively Juchitan; and on the side of it away from San Gerónimo are prehistoric tracings and remains, studied, at various times, by various savants. It's a country with sandy, flat stretches and blue hills bounding them, and the [191] river of Juchitan flowing to the near Pacific. The village of Istlaltepec was a blaze of color, white-washed or pink- or blue-washed dwellings, fig- and palm-trees, and over all the brilliant, blinding light.

At Juchitan we stopped a moment at a hotel, but it was so dilapidated and shot with bullet marks, and so desolate and mournful-looking inside, that we went to a small, native place of refreshment, kept by a one-time servant of Aunt L.'s. She was old, but welcoming. Her daughter, a fine, tall woman of thirty or thereabouts, was coming down the street, with one of the great, painted gourds on her head filled with a variety of highly colored things, and with the walk of a queen, a majestic, gentle, swaying movement.

They spread a spotless cloth, in a dim, sandy, red-tiled room with a glimpse of a palm in the old patio behind, that would have been a back yard, and a hideous one, if it had been "at home." The old woman told her ailments, and the daughter, aided by the granddaughter, served us a sopa de frijoles (bean soup), a perfect omelet, with a hard-crusted, pleasant-tasting bread, but no butter, and black coffee.

Goat's milk was offered; the goat was in the patio—but "goat me no goats."

The inhabitants of the street gathered around as we got into the carriage, among them an Indian woman with a coal-black baby—a salto atras, a "jump back," as they are cheerfully called, when the baby is blacker than the mother. We proceeded to hunt the jefe again, but when we got to the jefatura we were informed that he was still taking his siesta, so in spite of the sun we decided to look about the apparently deserted town.

We stopped at another inn, where there were more signs of recent "regeneration"—blood-stained walls, mirrors broken, a billiard-table partly chopped up, and [192] a piano of the "cottage" variety with its strings pulled out. The propietario showed us around sadly, but with a note of pride. His house was, for the moment, the "show-place" of the town. He pointed out a large, carefully preserved blood-spot on the floor, and kept repeating muy triste—but all the same there was a light in his eye.

The barracks, with a large detachment of Federal troops, and the near-by church have great pieces chipped off by guns, and are embroidered by pepperings of rifle-fire.

Don Porfirio nearly lost his life on his way to Don Alejandro de Gyvès' (Aunt L.'s French friend, when she first came down here; he was consul, you remember, and they were the civilisés of the place). The Juchitecos tried to kill Diaz and his priest-friend, Fray Mauricio, near his house, and it was the village leader of that epoch who put his brother Felix to death. They seem to be consistent and persistent fighters, these Juchitecos, given over to libations, always fighting with somebody, but best enjoying it in their own bailiwick.

The damages caused by the ambitions of the late Che Gómez were amply testified to. A French merchant, Señor Rome, whom Aunt L. saw about some business, had had his home in the environs sacked, and his bride had escaped with difficulty into the hills, her beloved trousseau and household linen, brought from Paris, of course, being destroyed or stolen.

January 12th, 9 a.m.

We were up with the dawn, expecting to start for Tehuantepec and Salina Cruz at six o'clock, taking the train that I had arrived on at 5.30. But this is one of the mornings when it won't get here till after nine o'clock.

A hot, fierce, sandy gale is blowing, and every door [193] and window in the house is rattling. We are just going to have a second breakfast, before starting out. The Chinese cook does very well, but when he was talking with his assistant this morning under my window, it sounded like the chopping of hash, literally, a conversation of short sounds and shorter stops.

Some fresh cocoanuts were brought in, and we have each had a glassful of the milky beverage. I can imagine how delicious it would be, come upon suddenly in the desert; but sitting at a table with a servant to pour it out, I was a little disappointed. I innocently came down in a hat for the journey, but it was impossible to keep it on, even sitting on the veranda. These winds, it appears, blow whenever they feel like it, from October till May.

Now we are waiting, Aunt L. in white, with a long blue chiffon veil, and I in blue, with a white veil. I fancy we would present a picturesque sight to the proper eyes.

January 13th, 7.30 a.m.

At last, yesterday, the train came, and, clutching at our veils, we were blown into it, and after another unexplained delay started off in an American-built car like our ordinary ones. Its name was "Quincy"! In the old days, Aunt L. went everywhere on horseback. We passed various little wind-swept villages. Jordan was the name of one of them, seeming, in the sandy, New-Testament-looking spot, just the right name. Two beautiful Tehuantepec women got into the train there, kindly sitting near us. I was fascinated by their clothes, and much more interested in them than they were in us.

The unfamiliar cadence of the Zapoteca gave them a complete touch of foreignness. One of them wore a beautiful, strange, complicated head-dress of stiff pleated and ruffled lace, which, I later discovered, does not at all [194] interfere with the carrying on their heads of the large, shallow, brightly painted gourds. Her skirts were long and deeply flounced, but looped up at the waist, just a tucking in of the lower hem of the flounce, with the rest of the stuff flowing away in a most lovely line. The other woman had on a beautiful necklace of irregular-shaped gold coins, and with her flashing teeth and dark eyes, and a brilliant, low-cut, full jacket, with a yellow handkerchief twisted turbanwise around her head, made a picture I could not take my eyes from. I felt as colorless as a shadow, and I told Aunt L. she looked like a blue-and-gray Copenhagen vase strayed into a Moorish room.

Just before getting into Tehuantepec we came upon a beautiful grove of cocoanut-palms, high and graceful, above the rest of the vegetation, and the little nestling huts and houses. All about are jungles containing strange creeping things, and strange fevers and kindred creeping ills.

As the train passed slowly down the principal street, it seemed to me I looked out on a race of queens, tall, stately, with their lovely costumes. The men seemed undersized and sort of "incidental" in the landscape, but those beautiful women walking up and down their sandy streets were a revelation. Aunt L. says they possess not only the beauty, but the brains of the race. Former generations of Tehuantepec men, fitter mates for these queens than the specimens I saw, were mostly killed off in the various wars of "independence," and I understand the population is kept up by fortuitous but willing males from other places.

Everything was color; gorgeous splashes of yellow and black, and red and orange and blue against the shifting, sandy streets. A picturesque, creamy Palacio Municipal faces the plaza, and there were many [195] churches—mostly showing earthquake vicissitudes. An old fortress, once the headquarters of Diaz, gives a last suggestive note to the whole.

Glorious memories of Don Porfirio hang all over this part of the world, where he is adored and mourned. I must say Madero's face looked positively childish in the jefatura at Juchitan, as it confronted the stern, clever visage of the great Indian. Even the cheap, highly colored lithograph could not do away with his look of distinction and power. He was, in his young days, military governor of Tehuantepec, and at one time jefe político. A French savant and traveler, l'Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, remembering him then, said he was the most perfect type he had ever seen, and what he imagined the kingly hero Cuauhtemoc to have been.

When we got out of the train at Salina Cruz, a whirl-wind caught us and blew us down the platform. I saw very little of the town on the way to the British Consulate, where we were to lunch, as I was bent double by the wind and blinded by the sand.

Mr. Buchanan and his wife were waiting to receive us. Mr. B.'s kind but shrewd blue eyes, altruistic brow, and welcoming hand-clasp show him at first sight to be what Aunt L. says he is, "pure gold." She has found him through years the best of friends and wisest of advisers. The consulate is on one of the sandy ridges that the town seems largely composed of, and Mrs. Buchanan has arranged it with taste and comfort after our ideas, with books and flowers and easy-chairs. But one look from the high bow window and you know at once where you are, with irrepressible cacti and palm-trees peeking in at you.

I tried sitting on the sheltered side of the veranda for a few minutes while waiting for lunch, that my eyes might "receive" the Pacific, but I was glad [196] to go in-doors again. Mr. B. says the wind blows that way six or seven months in the year. Yesterday was one of its "best."

Our consul, Mr. Haskell, and his wife came in later to tea. Their house is on another sand-ridge. After a last pleasant chat about our affairs, their affairs, and Mexican affairs we departed for our train in a great darkness that the stars made no impression on, the wind still tearing down the sandy streets. I was sorry not to visit the breakwaters—rompeolas, they call them—but would probably have been blown overboard.

From the veranda I could see ships that had come from Morning Lands, riding at anchor, and later the sun went down in quiet majesty over the great, flat waters of the Pacific. I was so near the Atlantic that I thought of Humboldt's expression of "tearing the Isthmus apart, as the pillars of Hercules had been torn in some great act of nature," and Revillagigedo's[29] dream of a canal joining the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Mr. Buchanan said the first authentic mention of the Isthmus was in a conversation between Montezuma and Cortés, as to the source of the quantities of gold the Spaniards saw. Cortés, who was of an inquiring turn of mind at any mention of the shining stuff, sent Pizarro, and then Diego de Ordaz (he who tried to ascend Popocatepetl, and got a volcano added to his crest), to investigate, coming here himself after the rebuilding of Mexico City, en route to Honduras. He received a grant of the whole territory round about—"Las Marquesadas," as they are still called, after his title, Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca).

This morning there is still a great rattling of the windows and the doors, but not a sign of gnat or mosquito. I must arise and further investigate isthmian life. The [197] huacamaia in the fig-tree has been making himself heard since dawn. I knew that if I did not tell you of Tehuantepec and Salina Cruz now, you would never hear, and I think what those names have meant to you during the years. It's all a memory of drifting sands, women as straight as their own palm-trees, slim, naked boys, fierce wind, and, in the harbor, the great port works, built by foreign energy and capital.

January 14th.

Going up, up, with a ringing in my ears out of the "blazing tropics" into the Tierra Templada. I am traveling with a parrot in a cage, and a nondescript little animal called, I think, a tajon, in a box with slats! After a very cursory survey last night, it seemed to belong to the 'coon family. I (who wish all animals well, but not too near) dimly apprehend the Mérida family on the "Ward Line" traveling with their parrot, when I consider that I was put onto the Pullman last night in a thick, inky, tropical darkness, with a parrot in a cage, and a tajon in a box with slats. The amiable colored porter is looking after them in the baggage-car, and the back veranda with the oleanders, beyond the dining-room, is their ultimate destination. I say nothing of the parting; Aunt L. has promised to come soon.

The glorious Pico de Orizaba has just shown its lovely white head between two dissolving blue ridges. Last night I reread Le Journal d'Amiel, which, with Monsieur Le Coq, I picked up as I was leaving the house. As up-to-date in the jungle as anything would be. [198]


Gathering clouds—"Tajada" the common disease of republics—Reception at Chapultepec—Madero in optimistic mood—His views of Mexico's liabilities to America

January 17th.

I have not written since my word in the train. Too busy taking up daily threads, and there have been various dinings and lunchings out. On my return I found yours saying that another yellow-stamped instalment of the Arabian Nights Entertainment had come in on your breakfast-tray. Just put Mexicans instead of Persians, or whatever they were, intrigues for power in a Latin-American republic, instead of the intricacies of Haroun-al-Raschid and his califat, change your longitude, and you are "Orientée" as exactly as the pyramids!

January 19th.
(My brother's birthday).

To-night I am thinking of Elliott,[30] and, as so often, before his days of physical and spiritual anguish, of the beautiful brow with its lines of thought, and the straight limbs as he moved freely among the other sons of men. But however dear in his activities, where pride was a factor, he is infinitely dearer to me now, stretched, broken, while others divide his garments. I ask myself to-night at this seventh turning of the years of pain, what I have not asked him. Has he drunk the chalice, or is he still putting it away? [199]

His mind is naturally occupied with intellectual equations. He as naturally rejects the mystical; there is nothing "vicarious" to him. Life is only what rationally and definitely is to be discovered by each one, no possible doing of another's work. I remember quoting to him once, à propos of destinies and the end of the ends: "Ego sum alpha et omega, principium et finis," and he answered, "Each one is his own alpha and omega."

I know little, after all, of his spiritual life. His intellectual life I can read like any fine book, the technicalities of a trained mind superior to mine, inspiringly surmised, but not understood. He is not anima naturaliter christiana, but all the same, he must hang in his body on the cross of Christ crucified, and his only hope is in acceptance of it, along the lines of redemption, cut off as he is from the exercise of his splendid natural gifts. Results for him mean the hunting out of definite, secret combinations, in definite, scientific areas, and his mind is speculative only in an intellectual sense.

I shall, perhaps, never know how far the "Crucified" has convinced him, but to-night, in thinking of him, sitio comes again and again to me. He has been so thirsty for the employment of his gifts, whose value he knows, in a clear, common-sense way, as he also knows what has not been given him, and the suppression of that gift of industry seems sometimes to me the most painful nail that holds him. Don't let what I have written make you unhappy. Mother-wounds bleed and burn so easily.

In this quiet, beauteous night, with the patio holding a thick, silver moonlight spilling over the square, dark roof, this gorgeous Indian world in strange unrest about me, and I myself far enough away to see, I can speak. Show him this some time when he is healed. What an adoring sister thought cannot hurt. I unite myself [200] with the millions who have had their loved ones hanging on the cross, who have heard their sitio. But as the emotions of each are measured by their personal experience, this, my brother's thirst, moves me more deeply than even that of sacramental martyrs, who gave willingly, where he gives resistingly. "And everywhere I see a cross where sons of men give up their lives." ...

January 20th.

Things are bubbling up, boiling, geyser-like, and the public in a fair way to get scalded. Yesterday a bill was passed through Congress suspending the constitutional guarantees in various of the near-by states, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Vera Cruz, and others.

It would seem that all of Mr. Madero's chickens are coming home to roost, and demands for the cutting up of the Mexican cake sound from all sides. But what was easy for Madero to promise in the first passion for the regeneration of "his" people is proving not only impractical, but impossible. What's the use, anyway, of giving waterless lands to Indians without farming implements, whose only way of irrigating would be prayers for moisture to pre- or post-Cortésian gods? Let those who have been divested of their illusions by hard facts govern the state, I say.

Photograph by Ravell

Outside of a few political agitators, who cares for politics here except as a means of livelihood? What each one is a-fevered for is the disease commonly attacking republics. Above the Rio Grande they call it graft. Tajada it is called here, but the name doesn't matter. Republics are notoriously susceptible, and here it grows with a lushness comparable only to the jungle. Now when the reins of government are in many regions given over to those completely unversed in statecraft or even in the rudiments of "mine and thine"—a lower-class [201] contingent, naturally destructive, unimaginative, and completely ignorant—what can one expect?

January 23d.

Aldebert de Chambrun[31] called yesterday afternoon and came back for dinner. He is just down from Washington, being à cheval between the two posts. It brought back old childhood days. Now he is in the full tide of a brilliant career, and scintillating with the celebrated De C. wit. They all have it—delightful, fin, glancing from subject to subject, illuminating and refreshing, giving a "lift" to any conversation they partake of, sometimes unsparing, but oftener kind. It's completely unlike the Spanish-American satire, which I am now beginning to understand, and which has its own value, though it is mostly cruel and demolishing, and seems to suffer with difficulty the neighbor's good fortune.

January 26th.

Yesterday was the first reception at Chapultepec since several weeks. We drove up during a chill dropping of the sun, to find quite a grouping of foreign and domestic powers. The Corps Diplomatique was almost complete, De Chambrun going with the Lefaivres. I talked with Calero, and Vasquez Tagle, Minister of Justice, a scholar of note, they tell me, deeply versed in law and of the highest probity. Though he had a serious face, there was a twinkle in his eyes.

N. walked up and down the terrace with the President for a long time. He said he had a very interesting conversation, accidentally turning on the claims of Americans who had been killed or wounded during the revolution, in El Paso and Douglas. N., thinking it well to [202] improve the shining hour, pointed out to the President the special character of these claims; that during a revolution by which he had established himself as President of Mexico his soldiers, in taking positions held by President Diaz's troops, had killed and wounded, on American soil, several peaceful American citizens. This constituted a claim that could not be denied by any international tribunal, to say nothing of the violation of American territory. N., finding Madero in optimistic mood (not that this is unusual), advised him strongly to settle these claims, which were not large, and were leading to much criticism of his government, when things might go so pleasantly. He even quoted to him, "Qui cito dat bis dat."

Madero replied: "All that will be settled in due time," but he did not seem to feel that it was as important as N. thought it was, saying, "They should have got out of harm's way." He also said the amounts claimed were exorbitant (that "madonna of the wash-tub" wanted one hundred thousand dollars) and he did not see how, without bringing the matters before a court of arbitration, he could come to a decision as to proper compensation. N. said that, as the question of Mexico's liability was certain, he need not be afraid to admit the validity of the claims in principle—to get a good railroad lawyer in Texas to find out for him how much such injuries would be paid for by a railroad company in event of such injuries occurring on a United States line, and then quadruple the amount. This seemed to make an impression on him, but in the shifting sands of Mexican liabilities will probably lead nowhere.

I found myself standing by — on the terrace, after we had taken leave of Madame Madero, and as I said good-by, I added, "Perhaps some day we will be paying our respects to you here." [203]

Even in the sudden dusk that had fallen I saw flash across his face in answer, as if written in words, the look that men of ambitious temperament, gifted with will and intelligence necessary to achievement, have had in all ages when the object of desire is mentioned. I imagine he has little hope and no illusions about the present situation. I am struck all the time by the exceeding cleverness of the clever men here. What, then, is the matter?

In the evening a very pleasant dinner at the French Legation, illuminated by several European stars, or rather comets, as they quickly disappear from these heavens.

The Duc de R. took me out. He is small, with clever, unhappy eyes and the world-manner, with a hint of introversion, most interesting. I found, when I came to talk with him, that he was possessed of immense knowledge, rendered living and actuel by his personality, and his mentality is of that crystal type equally lucid in the discussion of facts or ideas.

He has just returned from a trip through Oaxaca, where he has large mining and railway interests, and is en route for Paris, via New York. He walked home with us afterward, telling us about that southern country, which he knows as only one knows a country gone through on horseback, and, of course, he was turning the international flashlight on it all.

Mr. de Gheest sat on my other side. He has come on a brief business visit with his handsome very jeunesse dorée son, Henri.[32] I had never met them before, but his charming wife and I have listened to Wagner cycles together in Munich. They were married strangely [204] enough, in Mexico, and lived here for a while afterward.

M. de G. is trained and brilliant in discussion of international affairs, witty, risqué, and unsparing. They come for lunch to-morrow. I must say I was what one would call extremely well placed at table!

January 27th.

Most amusing lunch here to-day, the Gallic sparks flying in all directions! The De Gheests, De Chambrun, the Lefaivres, Allart—and our Anglo-Saxon selves as listeners.

De G. was very amusing about some business rendezvous with Mexican banking associates. One important meeting fell through because the banker's little granddaughter was having a birthday. The second came to grief because another luminary's wife's aunt's sister-in-law, or some sort of remote relation, had died, and, of course, it's a rather far journey from Paris to Mexico to find oneself tripping over family occurrences....

Then we got on to the eternal land question. There's a lot said about the 80 per cent. speaking out and asking for land, but vox populi here bears very little resemblance to vox dei, and it's only confusing when a few (generally oppressors, not oppressed) do begin to mutter.

Madero walked to the presidency on the plank of the distribution of land, which he promptly and inevitably kicked from under him—it didn't, couldn't hold. It appears that he bought from one of the computed two hundred and thirty-two members of the family a large tract of land in Tamaulipas, but when it was parceled out it came so high that no Indian could buy it, and wouldn't have known what to do with it had he bought it.

What he loves is his adobe hut running over with children and surrounded by just enough land, planted with corn, beans, and peppers, not to starve on, [205] when worked intermittently, as fancy or the rainfall indicate. The Indians certainly seem, under these conditions, a thousand times happier than our submerged tenth, but it's never any use comparing especially dissimilar matters. Anybody who has been to Mexico, however, knows that the Indian of the adobe hut has little or no qualification to permit of his being changed into a scientific farmer by the touch of any wand. And as for slogans! They're all right to get into office with, but try tilling the soil with them!

January 31st, evening.

... And so the anniversaries come. I feel but a stitch between your destiny and Elim's, holding the generations together in my turn. I am distant from you, but I embrace you all—the dear ones of my blood. I realize the fortuitousness of mine and all other human experiences. I have never had the things I worked for, prayed for, hoped for, but always something unexpected, which showed itself as inevitable only after it had happened, though at the time it seemed to come as a blow or a gift, accidentally, unrelatedly. The path has always lain where I never had an intimation of the tiniest trail. "Strange dooms past hope or fear" of which we all partake.... [206]


Washington warns Madero—Mobilization orders—A visit to the Escuela Preparatoria—A race of old and young—The watchword of the early fathers

February 1st.

To-day a military lunch—De Chambrun, Captain Sturtevant, just leaving, and our new military attaché, Burnside, just arrived. Speculations as to the potentialities of the situation put a bit of powder into the menu, and the appearance of small fat ducks awakened a few hunting reminiscences, but mostly it was martial.

In the afternoon I made some calls with De C. First to Mrs. Harold W.'s, where we actually found an open fire in the big, book-lined living-room. Some exotic-looking logs of a wood priceless in other climes were making a sweet and long-unheard, comfortable, sputtering sound. She kept us waiting, though pleasantly, while she donned a most becoming, diaphanous, fur-trimmed, white chiffon tea-gown (the fair sex are apt to dress for De C.), coming down about twenty minutes later, looking extremely pretty.

Mr. W., who is associated with one of the large oil companies, came in just as we were leaving. There are few combinations he does not understand about the modern Mexican mentality; but he views its varied facets in a most enlightened way, and flings a kindly, inexhaustible humor about it all.

After that De C. paid his respects to Mrs. Wilson, [207] who has just returned. She was looking very handsome in her mourning garments, and De C. pronounced her decidedly ambassadorial. We then wound up at the French Legation, sitting for an hour in Mr. Lefaivre's book-filled study, warmed by a well-behaved little oil-stove, fingering volumes of past poets, and talking present politics.

February 2d, Candlemas.

This is the day of the signing of the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty terminating the war of 1847, which one can only hope will continue to bear fruit. Its motto is, "Peace, Friendship, Limits, Settlement," and there is a street named for the auspicious document.

February 5th, evening.

Quite a flutter in town because of orders from Washington yesterday for mobilization, or what amounts to it; the military forces being commanded by the War Department to be ready for immediate concentration on the border. Head-lines of the newspapers are almost American in size and sensation.

The United States warns Madero that he must protect Americans and American interests from injury by rebels, and Mexican ears are to the ground, listening for the possible tramp of American feet this side of the Rio Grande. The government is distinctly discomfited. They need to know exactly where they are "at" with the United States, On ne fonde pas sur un sol qui tremble.

Poor Madero! Uneasy lies the head that wears the Mexican crown, except in the case of Don Porfirio, who had a genius for meeting emergencies, increased by his vast knowledge of men and conditions, acquired during the hazards of his career before he became President, and doubtless by the responsibilities afterward. Anyway, [208] the Mexicans are stepping lively, with their weather eyes out. The old adage that the only thing they hate more than an American is two Americans seems to be to the fore. From the viewpoint of Mexican history, we do rather appear as their predestined natural enemies and not to be trusted along any line.

This morning I went with Mr. de Soto to visit the Escuela Preparatoria. It is long since I had taken a tournée with him, and it is just as well to improve the shining hours. No one knows when the trump will sound. All is quiet in the house; N. is at the Embassy, and won't be back till the small, wee hours.

The Escuela Preparatoria, most interesting, was formerly the Colegio de San Ildefonso, which the Jesuits completed in the middle of the eighteenth century, after the order to consolidate their various schools and seminaries into one. It covers an entire city block, and is so massive that, though it is somewhat out of plumb, as are most of the great edifices built on this soft soil, it will long stay in place.

It is built of tezontle with a wine-colored staining, and has noble, broad doors and rows of mediæval-looking windows piercing the façade, and altogether is most imposing. As we passed in under the majestic old doors, wide enough to admit a couple of coaches and four abreast, students were being drilled in the beautiful colonnaded patio, said to be a remnant of the immediate post-Cortés period.

We went first to the Sala de Actas to see the famous seventeenth-century choir-stalls, once the glory of the San Agustin church. Everything one sees in Mexico has been most provokingly ripped from where it belonged and put somewhere else. I got quite sad at the thought of the continual transfers. Something beautiful always gets lost in the changes. [209]

As I sat in one of the fine old seats, I discovered that it had bits of "local color" in the shape of a monkey and a parrot, cunningly but charmingly introduced among more austere religious symbols; and when I folded up the next seat I found a quite lovely carving, on the under side, so that it looked equally well in use or disuse.

As we went up the broad stairway there was a scuffle of young feet along one of the beautiful old arched corridors, and a hurrying from one class-room to another, just as so many generations before this had scuffled and hurried, pushing on and being replaced. The foundation of the school as it now is dates from Juarez's time, and was founded by a man called Gabino Barreda, a disciple of Comte. Many of the Mexican élite who did not or would not send their sons abroad were educated here. Men like Justo Sierra and Limantour passed through it, too.

When we got up on to one of the great flat roofs, by way of various interesting bits of stairs, the most glorious sight was spread out. The volcanoes had such long mantles of snow that they seemed encircled and united by the same band of white. About us lay the city with its sun-bathed domes and roofs, and Mr. de S. quoted me the old lines, "Si a morar en Indias fueras que sea donde los volcanes vieres."[33]

I was horrified by the appearance of the Church of Nuestra Señora de Loreto, built in the last century, which was as désorientée and uncertain-looking as Mexican politics. Mr. de S. said the sinking was not caused by any disturbance of nature, but rather of man. There was a difference of opinion among high ecclesiastical authorities as to the materials to be used, so they decided the issue by constructing one of the walls of hard stone, [210] and the other of a more porous kind, with the result that one side began straightway to sink. Now the dome seems to be pulled down over it, the whole looking as if it might collapse entirely at any minute; so we decided to visit it immediately, though it's always a wrench to tear oneself from the enchantment of the view in Mexico.

Journeying up from Tehuantepec, I came across a passage in Amiel where he calls a paysage un état d'âme not an état d'atmosphère. Here it is both, for the landscape is always wrapped in a wonder-working, almost tangible air, which is able to induce something mystical in the most practical or commercial soul. When we descended into the streets on our way to Nuestra Señora de Loreto they seemed particularly human and detailed, coming from that height, where everything had been a splendid ensemble. The dip in the long, little plaza is so apparent that you feel you may get the whole structure on your head. It was full of beggars hovering near venders of unhealthy, dusty, highly colored sweets, or hawking hard green fruits about. A green lime or orange can be a repast here. At the church doors the beggars were lying or sitting about, just living in their own particularly unconscious way, descendants of those sin derechos y hechos of the old days, and not a bit better off now, in spite of all the "Libertad" and "Fraternidad" and decrying of Spanish and ecclesiastical government.

A beautiful little boy, covered partially with the remains of a scarlet zarape and tattered white drawers which revealed rather than concealed his brown hips, carried, slung over his shoulders, two lively, coal-black hens that he had evidently been sent out to vend. Accompanying him was an old blind woman clutching at a corner of the zarape. It tugs at one's heart so, [211] all this beauty and all this misery. We gave them "centavitos," and the little boy's flashing smile and the droning voice of the old woman—"Dios te lo pague, niña"—as she heard the sound of the money, were equally pathetic and mysterious.

So often it seems a race of very old and very young here, nothing of the long maturity we know. An Indian with gray hair, however, is a rarity; some atavism when one sees it; and as they preserve their muscular activity till a great age, it's impossible to say how old, but the race gives a continual impression of just old and young.

February 6th.

Another agreeable dinner at the French Legation last night. Maurice Raoul Duval[34] and his English-American wife recently arrived, struck a charming note of the great and far world. He is a very tall, very good-looking Frenchman, a polo-player and sportsman of note, hoping to remake, with interests here, a lost fortune.

An atmosphere of recent married happiness hung about them, with the romantic adventure of Mexico as background.

His wife was handsome and sparkling in a white-throated way, wearing a very good black dress and wedding jewels. It was quite a treat to see something new, we are all sick of one another's things. I am sure if she had worn the waistband outside one would have seen the word "Worth." They are to be here some time, and will contribute to the gaiety of the nations assembled in the vale of Anahuac.

Count du Boisrouvray[35] took me out. He is here to [212] look after the large estates of his wife, who is now in France, and whose mother, née De la Torre, is Mexican. Madame Lefaivre tells me she is very beautiful and gifted, the mother of many little children. Monsieur du B. is musical—plays the violoncello like an artist. A day or two ago, when I dropped into Madame Simon's late in the afternoon, they were playing Mozart beautifully. The clever Frenchman's clever eye is on the Mexican situation, and finds nothing encouraging, "plutôt le commencement de la fin." Though the French may line every subject, conversationally, with the agreeable color of some theory, their minds are so constructed that they can't reject facts.

February 7th.

Until the small, wee hours last night I was reading a relation of the foundation of the bishoprics of Tlaxcala, Michoacan, and Oaxaca in the sixteenth century, printed from the manuscripts in the collection of Don Joaquin García Icazbalceta, and published a few years ago by his son, Don Luis García Pimentel, possessed of the finest Hispano-American library in Mexico.

The story of difficulties surmounted, the dangers overcome, the founding and building of the various churches and schools and hospitals, is enthralling, and made me think a little of the Livre des Fondations of Saint Theresa, that we read at Wörishofen with so much pleasure. The account of the baptism of the four chiefs of Tlaxcala, who had such distinguished godfathers as Cortés, Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Sandoval, and Cristóbal de Olid, make a page of the realistic school of to-day seem like a record of tawdry dreams.

The faces of these early bishops and priests of Mexico are extraordinary. The life is concentrated in and between the eyes, the foreheads are those of thinkers, the [213] lines about the mouths, compassionate, yet unflinching, are those of workers, and, however different the actual structure of the faces, the expression is the same. I found a couple of old engravings the other day, one of Las Casas, and one of Ripalda, yellowed, stained, evidently torn out of some old book. The tale of labors and difficulties overcome is stamped upon their faces. Their watchword was "Al rey infinitas tierras, y a Dios infinitas almas,"[36] and I can't but think that our political slogans seem a bit shabby in comparison. Our Monroe doctrine, which controls their destinies, our dollar diplomacy, and all the rest, make but a poor figure.


Under the impression of the foundations of the Bishops of Tlaxcala, etc., I strayed into the Biblioteca Nacional on my way home after some errands. It is what once was one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico, San Agustin, built at the end of the seventeenth century.

What remains of the old atrium is rather spoiled by being inclosed with a high iron railing; but in it stands a statue of my friend Humboldt, whose soul perceived the "splendors of this Indian world." It is a most charming building to come upon in those busy, modern streets, where bankers raise and lower the exchange, and the "interests" have their visible habitats. One is thankful for every good old stone that has been left upon another good old stone in Mexico, and the old building has a beautiful tiled dome in the Mudejar style (Moorish-Christian), with arabesque designs and a charming façade. The modern iron railing is decorated with busts of the Mexican great, in early-Victorian style, from the days of Nezahualcoyotl down to Alaman. But the [214] beautiful old basso rilievo of San Agustin over the main door tells you unmistakably that the ages of faith were also the ages of art.

I wrestled with the catalogues, and found they always referred me to others of various dates, like 1872 and 1881. I spoke with several very vague and exceedingly polite officials. I dare say my Spanish contributed to the vagueness. The library is very rich in books relating to the labors of the Church in New Spain, and in general of the history of the post-Conquest period. The huge reading-room was once the great central nave of the church, and a flood of white light pours in through high octagonal windows. Any time any one moved or walked there was the sound as of an army. It was the wooden floor acting in unison with the unsurpassed acoustic qualities of the nave.

Over all was a still, deathly cold that froze the gray matter stiff. Some students, looking a lead color under their rich, natural tone, were noisily turning over the pages of their books, and an old man with a green shade and a magnifying glass was looking at a manuscript. Otherwise empty space. The reading Mexicans are, I fancy, mostly engaged in trying to sustain or destroy Madero.

In 1867 Benito Juarez issued the decree which established the Biblioteca Nacional, and they got the books from the university, and various monasteries and colleges were also emptied of their treasures. The night library was formerly a chapel of the third order of San Agustin, and I was told by some sort of attendant only remotely interested in the world of books that there was once a celebrated old walnut choir, with the richest carvings, which I could now find in the Escuela Preparatoria. It reminded me of the catalogues and he looked like what in "The Isles" Humboldt says they call un monsieur passable. [215] He thinks he's white—you know he isn't; but one leaves it at that.

Life is short, even here, and art is long, and I think I will send to New York for anything they have in it that I might want.

February 7th.

Orozco denies any disloyalty to Madero, or that Chihuahua is about to secede, but he does say in Spanish, probably still less elegant, something to the effect that Madero can't do the "Mexican trick."

When Madame Madero called yesterday her rather halting remark that Orozco es muy leal (Orozco is very loyal) was unconvincing, but of course they must hope. She was in dark, rich garments, somewhat too heavy in cut and texture for her size, with a very imposing plume-loaded hat over her pale, tired face. She now wears a beautiful string of pearls. All the life is in her vigilant eyes, and if there is an iron hand in the family, it is hers. Madame Ernesto Madero, very pretty in the dark, flashing-eyed, color-coming-and-going-way, also called and said, as a charming girl might have said it, that she was muy paseadora.

Vasquez Gómez, a day or two since, proclaimed himself provisional President, and has quite a tidy following, with the "seat" of government in Juarez. It would seem the presidential bee buzzes under any hat! More and more I ask myself, Why try government according to our pattern? I can't see that ours is just the cut for them.

There is another cold wave, or onda fria, as they call the dreadful things. This one timed itself for a little dinner I was giving for Mr. Potter and Mr. Butler. The dining-room, into which I cast a glance before going to the drawing-room, looked very conducive with its flowers and shaded lights. The stove appeared a model of [216] heat-giving. Well, we had just got to the fish when it not only emitted a column of smoke, but it blew up!

It was removed, and after a disturbed interval the dinner proceeded to the accompaniment of polite suggestions as to the removal of "blacks" that descended, from time to time, on the faces and shoulders of the diners. As we were leaving the dining-room somebody remarked that there was a smell of burning, and in the drawing-room the oil-stove's mate was found to be doing the most awful things in the line of Popocatepetl, when Cortés passed by the first time. It was also removed.

Madame Lefaivre suggested at this point that we had better frankly accept le temps comme le bon Dieu l'avait envoyé, so scarfs and shawls were brought, with suggestions of overcoats. Everybody began to smoke and we got out the bridge-tables. They refused to play bridge, however, with my nice Vienna packs of cards, which are innocent of numbers at the corners. After a while, with the smoking, the process of digestion, the jokes, the companionship in misery, things got better, and the little party broke up at only one o'clock, very late for Mexico. They said they were too cold to go home. It was a fine sample of the "tropics."

At Von H.'s dinner for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the other night, it was even worse. His large drawing-rooms are to the north, though his stoves were working auf commando. After the long and elaborate dinner, during which the fair sex were visibly "all goose-flesh," we had our wraps brought and turned up our fur collars, which put a different complexion on events and ladies. [217]


A tragic dance in the moonlight—Unveiling George Washington's statue—The Corps Diplomatique visits the Pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacan—Orozco in full revolt

February 10th.

We were all awakened last night by a terrible, inhuman, mewing sound coming from the patio. It reminded us of "The White Leper" of Kipling. The moon was chiseling every stone and plant in the courtyard; a small light was in the porter's room, where a struggle seemed to be going on. All of a sudden a tall, stark-naked Indian, with his arms held stiff above his head, burst out and began to dance about in the moonlight, making strange passes and dippings of the body before something imaginary; there was a sort of sacrificial gesturing to his madness.

N. got his revolver and started down-stairs, fearing homicidal mania, when suddenly he threw himself in a corner, huddled up, and became unconscious. After a long delay the men came from the manicomio (mad-house) and his body was picked up like a loose bundle; but I felt as if I never needed to read about prehistoric, sacrificial rites—I had seen them in the moonlight, in the person of that poor Indian, gone insane.

I went down to see Magdalena, his mother, later on. She was sitting with her head in her hands in the little porter's lodge, surrounded by two or three of his children. He is a "widower." When she saw me she suddenly cried out, "Señora, mi hijo! mi hijo!" and her old eyes [218] looked at me with the mother-look of helpless compassion for suffering sons through the ages—tearless, personal, tortured. I was troubled and saddened as I came up the stairway into the sunny veranda. But at the potent hour of pulque I heard sounds which, though not of mirth, seemed consoling.

February 13th.

Pleasant luncheon here today—the Raoul Duvals, and De Chambrun, who is returning to Washington to-morrow, after which we all predict a total eclipse of the sun. The more I see of him the more I appreciate that French imaginative, speculative, analytical, yet constructive type of mind, with its flashing play of wit, its easy intellectuality, always ready to look at the most personal thing impersonally; this last so precious in the interchange of thought; and it's all very much in relief against this Latin-American background, where everything is always passionately personal.

De C. told us of his visit to the prison of San Juan Ulua, when he was last in Mexico. Evidently it is a horror. Madero had sworn that one of his first acts would be to do away with it, but there it is still. Nobody really trusts the situation here. Some one remarked that the quiet before something dreadful is going to happen is what is known as peace in Mexico. De C. had been off for a few days with the army, in the adjacent scenes of action. A general showed him his school medals by the camp-fire. One was for French, of which he did not know a word; the other was for geography, and he seemed to hear of Morocco for the first time by that same firelight. However, all he really needs to know is where the Zapatistas are.

The R. D.'s have taken a furnished house in Calle Dinamarca. Everybody flies, as soon as possible, from the evident evils of the hotels to any kind of unknown. [219] They came in, looking so smart, she in a dark-blue tailor and a chic, flower-covered purple hat.

The plateau is thawed out again, and we will have no more cold this year. They tell me March and April are the warmest months here, before the rains begin to announce themselves.

February 19th.

This morning, in a flood of sun, but with a "tang" in the early air, we went to meet Aunt L., and now she is comfortably resting with a book, not about Mexico.

February 22d.

This auspicious day was celebrated here by the unveiling of the large monument in white marble of George Washington in the Glorieta Dinamarca. The official Mexican world was out in force, also the diplomats. All the Americans in town, in whose hearts he was, indeed, first that day, watched the falling of the cloth from the face and form of the immortal George. Platforms had been built around the circle, the police kept beautiful order, and it might have been an "unveiling" anywhere, except for the outer fringe of peaked-hatted pelados (skinned ones), who gather wherever any are gathered in any name.

I was deeply thrilled as the well-known features showed themselves, and our national air, beautifully played, rose to the shining heavens. The figure is standing, clad in a long cloak, and can be seen from the four streets leading into the circle.[37] The President gave a short address, and Mr. Wilson made one of his finished speeches—a happy combination of Stars and Stripes and Eagle and Cactus. I saw Aunt L.'s eyes fill as our looks met. [220] They do stir one, these commemorations in foreign lands, where one feels to its fullest the privilege and pride of participation in a great citizenship.

February 25th.

Yesterday I had a luncheon for Aunt L. Baroness Riedl, Madame Chermont, Mrs. Cummings and Mrs. Chemidlin (these latter friends of many years), Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Kilvert, and Mrs. Hudson came. In the evening we dined at the Embassy. I thought it warm and spring-like, but Aunt L., though piled with furs, nearly froze. It evidently isn't with impunity that one comes up from the tropics to visit a niece on the plateau.

February 28th.

I am feeling a bit fagged this morning after the interesting, but quite exhausting, official "picnic" yesterday, to the celebrated pyramids of San Juan Teotihuacan, offered to the Corps Diplomatique by the Gobierno.

We met at the Buena Vista station for an 8.30 special train—a rather motley assemblage of some fifty or sixty persons, those who had the habit of jaunts in their blood, and those who had not.

The weather was the usual lustrous thing, only to be matched in beauty by what we had had the day before, and what we will have to-morrow. I looked about the various groups of señoras and wondered would they hold out, their garbs not being for such occasions.

One of the ladies asked me and Baroness Riedl if we were sisters. We look more unlike than Thorwaldsen's "Night and Morning," but we decided afterward that, as we had on tailored suits, white blouses with lace-trimmed jabots, small hats, neat veils, tan shoes, and parasols, we must have presented a certain superficial likeness of origin and atmosphere.

The Mexican women were mostly dressed in semi-evening [221] gowns, spangles, paillettes, passementerie, presenting all sorts of touches, as they caught the light, not connected in the Anglo-Saxon mind with picnics. They also wore small, high-heeled, patent-leather slippers, and were accompanied by niños of various ages.

You go out of the city by the hill of Tepeyac, where the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe is. All along the road are still to be seen dilapidated "Stations of the Cross," relics of the viceregal days, among the shunting tracks and railway-supply buildings.

There was a settling down of the elements of the party, foreign and domestic naturally gravitating to their kind, as we rolled out. The President and his wife, his mother and father, his two sisters, Madame Gustavo Madero, and various other members of the family were with us. Also the Vice-President and his family. After about an hour we got to the little village of San Juan Teotihuacan, where all sorts of venders of all sorts of antiquities, little clay pots, masks, bits of obsidian, charms of bloodstone, were ready for us. We climbed down the steep embankment and got into various "buckboards," I suppose they would call themselves, without any "buck," however, which were waiting to take us across a sandy stretch to the pyramids, which had seemed only insignificant mounds as we steamed over the glittering plain.

Our first destination was the Pyramid of the Sun, gigantic, impressive, as we neared it, and one of the few things giving a feeling of stability that I have seen in Mexico. The Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts, as we started out over the Path of the Dead, (Micoatl), was the cock of that special walk, almost putting Madero in the shade, figuratively, however, as there was not a tree within miles. The two principal pyramids, dwellings of the gods, were dedicated to Tonatiuh, [222] the sun, and Miztli, the moon, but there are many smaller pyramids, supposed to be dedicated to various stars, and which once served as burial-places for remote, illustrious dead.

As we climbed up the great hewn steps, grass-grown, with all sorts of cacti making unexpected appearances, I could but think of the small mark the generations make in passing, and "Why so hot, my little man?"

When N. started up with Baroness R., one of the ladies said to her: "Why are you going up, and what will you do when you get up?" Baroness R. said, "We are going to take a look about, and come down." She glanced rather desperately at the pyramid and then at her tiny, patent-leather-slippered feet, which must have been in a condition fit for sacrifice in that broiling sun. She finished by sitting down on the first step with some other high-heeled ladies, with the same feelings and the same clothes.

It was a magnificent sight, once up there; the solitary eminence on which we stood put every thing in a wonderful perspective. Formerly on the apex of the pyramid there had been a splendid temple, containing a gigantic statue of the sun, made of a single block of porphyry, and ornamented with a heavy breastplate of gold. But I was more interested in Madero, once, at least, a demi-god, viewing from this great height kingdoms and principalities given into his keeping.

His expression was soft and speculative as he gazed about him, not of one who is tempted to gather things to himself, for himself; and I must say that, as I looked, I entirely acquitted him of personal ambitions. He seemed strangely removed from the difficulties of his situation, as materially and spiritually lifted above them as he was above the shining plain; but in the city, glistening in the distance, intrigues and dissolving [223] forces of all kinds were at work against him. The far and splendid hills to which he perhaps may some day flee showed horizons of cobalt and verde antique, and they, as well as we, were folded in a dazzling ambience.

However, you have little time for dreams on official picnics—for just as I was, so to speak, partie—polite yet firm-willed photographers began to shove the living units into their proper places, with a special rounding up of the high-lights of the assembly, domestic and foreign, after which we descended.

I had my usual horrid sensation of falling as I looked from that great height down those huge steps between me and the not less solid earth. Mr. Madero gave me his arm and, somehow, I got down. A fierce sun was shining on us and reverberating from the dry plain as we made our way to the newly opened museum, where a very complete collection of objects, found around the pyramids, was carefully arranged in handsome glass cases; for some years, so el Señor Ministro told me, the government had been excavating, and countless terra-cotta masks, similar to those which abounded on the Isla de las Mugeres, off the coast of Yucatan, had been unearthed. There was also a beautiful collection of jade objects, effigies, and masks of dead rulers; on the brow of one of the finest specimens was a diadem, or copilla, as the ancient Mexican crown was called.

If I hadn't been simply done up by the heat I would have been most interested in going over the collection, for the endless terra-cotta heads and masks, with entirely different features, mark the different races who have inhabited the plateau. My friend Humboldt, with whom I spent the evening, also the early night hours, and who had done the same thing just a hundred years ago, says the teocalli were orientés as exactly as the Egyptian [224] and Asiatic pyramids, and that the race the Spaniards found there attributed them to a still more ancient race, which would place them in the eighth or ninth century. They are composed of clay mixed with gravel, and covered with a wall of amygdaloid. What seems to be a system of pyramids is disposed in very large streets, following exactly the meridians, and which end at the four faces of the two great pyramids.

After an hour in the museum, which seemed quite an hour, I must say, there was a welcome announcement of lunch, and we walked along a path called "Camino de Muertos,"[38] "walk of the half-dead," one of the exhausted foreigners called it, and descended into the cool dimness of a great and beautiful grotto, where long tables, flower-decorated and elaborately spread, awaited us.

The Corps Diplomatique sat at the President's table; Von Hintze was between Baroness Riedl and myself, and an unidentified Mexican official or member of the dynasty was on my other side. The lunch was sent out from town by Sylvain and was most excellent. We could look out at a great patch of blue sky, and fringing the brilliant edges of the grotto were various cacti and rows of peaked hats and a single graceful pepper-tree. The Indians always spring up, as if by magic, from any place where there is a gathering.

N. and Riedl, instead of taking seats at the President's table, sat at a small table back of us, and we knew from their unseemly mirth that they weren't talking about the antiquities or improving their minds in any way.

After luncheon we all repaired to the Pyramid of the Moon, which nobody had the energy to ascend, going over a sidewalk made of ancient cement still bearing traces of red color. One of the smaller mounds had been opened by Señor Batres a few years before, and he [225] found around and over it a building now called the "House of the Priests."

At this special place even the most enterprising of the foreigners began to wilt, and some polychrome frescoes are the last definite impression I received before we started back to the buckboards. The — minister, sitting too near the wheel, to politely make room, got jolted out, but we picked him up and soothed him by singing his national anthem as we went toward the train.

It was a long day, but one to be kept in memory with its background of obsidian, red clay masks, idols of jade, and works of a past race against which Mexican history continues to unfold itself.

February 29th.

It is not leap-year which is occupying our thoughts down here. Orozco is openly in full revolt. With him are some thousands of troops and the whole state of Chihuahua. [226]


Madero shows indications of nervous tension—Why one guest of Mexico's President did not sit down—A novena with Madame Madero—Picture-writing on maguey—Picnic at El Desierto—San Fernando

March 3d.

Yesterday Mr. Taft issued a wise proclamation directing citizens of the United States to comply strictly with the neutrality laws between our country and Mexico till there is a change in conditions, which gave rise to various expressions of satisfaction at a large luncheon at Madame Simon's.

I sat by Mr. Chevrillon, a French mining expert since many years in Mexico, and also having a wide experience of our own southwest. He told strange mining stories; one about an ancient whip he once found in a remote chamber in an old mine, with a lash so long that it was a mystery how it could have been used in the small spaces. A detail, but it gave me a sudden, shivering glimpse into the sufferings of subject peoples. However, it's no use throwing stones at Spain for not having practised political liberty in those centuries. As we know it to-day, it was nowhere existent. It had not even begun to glimmer on any horizon, and certainly Mexico has lived through a terrible century since its light dawned on her.

March 7th.

At the Chapultepec reception to-day one felt the tension.

Madero was walking up and down the terrace with [227] his new private secretary, Gonzales Garza, clad in some sort of a dark suit, with a conspicuous peacock-blue vest, doubtless a family offering. His glance was more than usually visionary and introverted, his unacquisitive hands were behind his back; but can Mexico be governed by a well-disposed President from Chapultepec terrace? He has a way of avoiding facts, which, in the end, are sure to hit somebody as the national destinies take their course. One can only hope his sterling honesty will see him safely through the snares that are spread everywhere.

As I talked with him on the sun-flooded terrace above the gorgeous valley, with all Mexican creation at our feet, though he had his usual smile, I noted many wrinkles, as he stood bareheaded, and it was difficult to fix his eye, an honest eye.

The new Minister of the Interior, Flores Magon, took me out to tea. He is a huge, square-faced Zapotec Indian, rather portly—which they rarely are—with straight, black hair, a strong jaw, and observant eyes. The foreigner on the other side of me—whether his tale be true or apocryphal I know not—related that on his last visit to Madero, as he was about to sink into an inviting armchair he was hastily asked not to take it, for at that moment it was occupied by George Washington! As his surprised person was suspended over another and was half-way down, he was waved to still a third, for in the second was sitting Jean Jacques Rousseau! After which, fearful of incommoding other illustrious dead, he remained standing. Si non e Verdi e bene Trovatore.

Madero has a certain natural inclination toward the French, fostered by those years at the Versailles Lycée, without, however, any of their logic or genius for facts, and he often converses vaguely, but admiringly, [228] about the French Revolution. They say he sleeps with Le Contrat Social under his pillow. He has not a single suspicion of the Anglo-Saxon mind, nor of that composite and extremely personal affair we call the national conscience; and still he is supposed to govern his country after our pattern. The whole seemed unrelated to the situation.

In fact, I told Aunt L., as we came away, that I didn't think the loggias and terraces are good for his psychology. You have no need for the firm hand when you are looking out upon a valley swimming in a strange transparency, where the hills seem of purest mother-of-pearl, inevitably leading to golden streets, not black heaps of earth peopled by passionate, starving human beings.

Am now off to the Red Cross. It is temporarily stationed in a beautiful old Spanish house, with a garden, and a large patio and fountain in the middle, and doors opening on to it, in the Calle Alamo, a once fashionable part of town. Mexico was almost the last country to join the Red Cross organization.

March 11th, evening.

At the reception at Chapultepec I found I had, by a curious chance, arranged with Madame Madero to make a novena with her to the Guadalupe shrine. Whatever reliance she may have had on accidental spirits in the past, I now see her having recourse to the one Great Spirit, the Cause of Causes. I don't feel unassailable by the chances of life myself.

She has been coming for me the past three mornings in the big presidential auto. N. and Aunt L. are thankful to see me return; they think a bomb, aimed at the conveyance full of piety, would not be beyond the bounds of possibility. I am sure Madame M. would do the distance gladly on her knees, instead of in the big car; her passionate solicitude for her husband's [229] welfare has no limits, and she means to compel whatever powers there be to take the kingdom of heaven by violence, if need be. Like all people who are playing with great chances, she is, I fancy, superstitious. She arises very early, attends Mass, begins her day's work, and is at our house from the castle at 9.30, apparently going the rest of the day at the same high pressure.

I gather they prefer De la Barra not to return; indeed, the faces of any darken at the mention of other possible candidates for public favor. Jealousies and struggles of individual ambition are more evident than struggles for principles in this most personal of all games, Mexican politics.

There was not a hint of any political happening on her part, nor on mine, as I got into the motor this morning. She told me about the six children they have adopted at one time or another, according to various exigencies; all the children too small to make an appearance, however, on the presidential stage.

An Indian boy ran across our path and was knocked down by the auto, just as we were going through the teeming suburb of Peralvillo. In a moment a crowd gathered about us, giving vent to growls. We stopped and got out of the motor. The boy, fortunately, was not injured, and he was wearing few garments to dust. We gave him money, and the mollified parents, pulque-eyed and battered, received him tenderly, plus money and minus hurt, so we were able to drive on through the soft, shimmering morning, out the broad Calzadato to Our Lady of Guadalupe....

We came back through the old Plaza of Tlaltelolco, where the Church of Santiago still exists, though now the yards of the National Railways surround it, and it is used to store cotton and grain, the customs, too, having offices there. It was formerly connected with [230] Mexico City by canals instead of these dusty streets, getting dustier every year, as the volume of water decreases in the valley.

Here Cortés found the great market he described in his letter to Charles V., and here Fray Gante taught the Indians for fifty years. Here, too, the first Bishop of Mexico is said to have carried into effect his unfortunate idea of gathering a pile of Aztec hieroglyphics, on cotton, maguey, or deerskin; and piling them mountain high; according to the historian, Ixtlilxochitl, he had them set afire. Now there are only squalid remnants of that civilization, here and there ancient corner-stones on which dilapidated mesones, lodging-houses for men and beasts, show themselves.

But, somehow, when one peeps in at the little courtyards the life itself doesn't seem so squalid. Any patio you look into has a bit of color in the way of a child or a flower or a bright bit of garment. I thought of the three patrician women who, during the siege of Mexico, stood for several days up to their necks in water with only a handful of corn for nourishment, and of the last and noble Aztec king, Cuauhtemoc,[39] who, at the hour of Vespers, fell into the Spaniards' hands, and was brought [231] to Cortés as he was standing on the terrace of a house in Tlaltelolco, watching the operations.

Cortés asked him to be seated, but the young king put his hand on a poignard that Cortés carried in his belt and asked him to kill him, because, having done what he could to save his kingdom and his people, it only remained for him to die. He was the son-in-law of Montezuma, and was escaping in a canoe with his young wife, just emerging into womanhood, when he was captured. History is so evident here and so in relief—I have never lived in a place where the past follows and arrests one as here, though I doubt if Madame Madero, trying to pierce the heavy curtain of the future, gave it a thought this morning.

March 12th.

The Blair Flandraus are here now, visiting Madame Bonilla. He is the "brother" in that delightful book, Viva Mexico, that I sent you, and meeting him made me remember a line where one brother says to the other brother, "What very agreeable people one runs across in queer, out-of-the-way places," meaning themselves, and quite warranted, as I have discovered.

I had a luncheon to-day for Mrs. Flandrau, and Madame Bonilla, Madame del Rio, Madame Simon, and Madame Scherer came. In the afternoon bridge at Madame Bonilla's, at which husbands and also the unattached and solitary appeared. In Mexico, when you have spent one part of the day with people, it isn't, as in more conventional climes, a reason for avoiding them the other hours.

We are all rather amused by the visible romance of a young querido (lover) who stands for hours leaning against the garden rail of a big, handsome house in the Calle Liverpool, wherein his inamorata dwells. The irate father has just built a trellis above the wall, gardeners [232] are busy, and the quickly growing vines will soon make it a rather bootless pastime for the young man to pelar la pava. The girl is watched every moment, quite in the way of old dramas concerning unwelcome lovers, determined Dulcineas, and vigilant duennas.

March 14th.

Went to the French Legation this afternoon, where one of Madame Lefaivre's pleasant "days" was in full swing. I met there the Marquis de Guadalupe (Rincon Gallardo), very polished and agreeable, and we looked at a most interesting old book of picture-writing on maguey, which shut up like a folding screen, with a piece of wood at each end to hold it fast. We opened it out on Mr. Lefaivre's long study table. It was of silky, papery fiber, as smooth to the touch as to the eye. Across strong, blue-black grounds were pictures of hunting scenes, or scenes of vengeance—hounds let loose from the leash, springing at Indians whose eyes bulged with terror. Forests were depicted and dark men entering them, and footmarks; a babe was being held to the heavens, and groups of Indians were selling and buying, bending over mats on which their wares were laid out, as to-day.

The Marquis thought it wasn't Aztec, but must have belonged to the period immediately succeeding the Conquest, as there was a Moorish touch to head-dress and garments. Mr. Lefaivre thought it was perhaps one of the cunningly wrought impostures of the sixteenth century. It was for sale for some thousands of pesos and in excellent condition. Life sometimes seems like it here.

Secretary Stimson has poured oil on the troubled waters by saying there is no thought of intervention in Mexico for pacification and otherwise, but it's [233] all a playing with fire—and a good many American and Mexican fingers are like to be burnt. It would seem 'twere better to let the Mexican revolutions quietly simmer till they boil dry—we can't do a little; all or nothing.

I must say I have some sympathy with Madero, for, having allowed him to "use" the border for equipping and organizing his revolution, he now naturally wonders at our coldness. It's all a puzzle, whichever way one looks. I keep thinking of Don Porfirio's watch on Mexico; what he knew would happen is happening. Prophets may not only be stoned, but justified, in their own country.

The Senate has wisely adopted a resolution authorizing the President to prohibit shipments of war materials into Mexico—at least we won't be feeding fuel to the Mexican fires.

March 16th.

This afternoon I went out late with Madame Lefaivre; she had come to inquire for Elim, who has had some mysterious ailment which has kept me hanging over his bed in terror for two days. We drove up the Paseo in her victoria, and by the statue of the "Independencia" got out and walked about the broad space surrounding it.

Night was near, though not yet fallen, and the sun had disappeared behind Chapultepec. In the changing light the stars shone in the heavens with a brilliancy I have scarcely ever seen in deepest night. They illuminated a pale-blue dome which had a sort of faded sunset lining. I looked up and saw the Southern Cross, the glory of these skies, hanging just above the horizon, and came home touched and quieted by the beauty of it all, to find my babe awake, in a gentle moisture, the fever gone. So often in Mexico the natural changes bring personal [234] help.

March 17th, evening.

To-day a delightful picnic at the famous "Desierto," the old Carmelite monastery, deep in one of the splendid forests of the Ajusco hills off the Toluca road.

We met, about fifteen merrymakers, in front of Mr. Potter's house, in the Calle Durango, one of the newest of streets in the newest of the "colonias." All were loudly congratulatory when we appeared, about "St. Patrick's Day in the morning." After a careful packing in of baskets, bottles, and other paraphernalia which always flow most lavishly from Mr. Potter's house, we started out in a long line—where, however, the disadvantages of companionship were soon apparent, as the dust got the hindmost with a vengeance.

It being more necessary to keep the ambassador dusted than lesser objects, he led off, arriving with his luster undimmed. As we passed through Tacubaya, the Sunday market was going its usual picturesque pace, and the trail of equality and fraternity we left behind dimmed many eyes and wares. Once on the high Toluca road we could spread out more, distance lending a decided enchantment.

At Santa Fé, in the great ravine where there has been a powder-factory for a hundred years or so, were unwonted signs of activity. After a stiff bit of steep, broken road, we left the motors in a blessed, grassy, dustless spot, and began a long and lovely walk, through a forest of magnificent oaks and pines. The loveliest of ferns grew beneath them, and there were thick carpets of green and gray mosses, patterned with bright, flowery patches. There was the sweet sound of rushing waters, so rare on the plateau, and occasionally there was a sudden rustle to show that we had surprised some wild living thing, and twice we saw some deer.

(Mrs. O'Shaughnessy and Elim in the foreground)

In front row (left to right) Mr. de Vilaine, Mlle. de Tréville, Ambassador Wilson, Madame Lefaivre, Mr. J. B. Potter, Mr. Rieloff (German Consul-general), Mrs. Nelson O'Shaughnessy, Von Hintze, Mr. Kilvert, Mr. Seger

One scarcely ever hears of the Mexicans hunting their [235] game, though there are occasional shooting parties toward the lakes where the wild duck abound. Some one remarked they would seem to be too busy stalking one another. The Riedls, the Bonillas, Von Hintze (who is not much given to picnicking on Sunday, generally spending the holy day hunting the perpetrators of the Covadonga outrage of last July), Mr. Potter, Mr. Butler, their English friend Mr. Leveson, Mr. Seeger, the ambassador and ourselves, made rather an imposing array as we proceeded through the wilderness, which, however, was "paradise enow."

As you know, when picnickers get hold of a joke nothing but separation or annihilation causes them to let it go, and Mr. Potter started a gentle but persistent one as we walked along, about not fearing snakes, as the presence of the O'Shaughnessys in a forest on St. Patrick's Day could not do less than rid the paths of them or analogous reptiles. I was sorry we didn't meet a boa-constrictor, so that he might have said his neglected Sunday prayers. It was so delightful, under the shade of the great trees, the sun filtering through with such a fresh warmth, and the birds singing so sweetly upon what seemed, indeed, a snakeless paradise that we were positively sorry to come upon the deep, flat space that holds the old monastery, near whose walls a long table, evidently known to generations of picnickers, was waiting to groan with our twentieth-century edibles.

After we had bestirred ourselves with the unpacking, festivities proceeded as if on a stage. We were almost immediately surrounded by dozens of Indians, men, women, and children, who furtively and fortuitously inhabit various parts of the old cloister. During and afterward they received the overflow from "Dives's table." Several little tots found pieces of ice, [236] which they carried off in the greatest excitement—doubtless never seen before, and overrated as to nutritive qualities.

We refreshed ourselves to the usual accompaniment of quips about life in general, and in particular what each would do, especially the fair sex, if surprised by Zapatistas—who give a spice of danger to festivities in these parts—as "Emiliano's" capital is only over the near-by blue hills. There was an exceedingly knotty and delicate question hovering in the air, as to whether, in the event of the Zapatistas performing their usual rites of removing garments, "would it be better to be with friends or strangers."

Suppositions about Mexico's future bind every assemblage together, and Riedl insisted on conversing only in a strange and ingenious language of his invention, composed of Portuguese, picked up in Rio, Italian in Rome, and Spanish in Madrid and here—too amusing and clever for words, and something new to the echoes of that spot.

As he said, "What's the use of traveling if you don't learn something?" And he insisted on sitting near part of his own contribution to the picnic, a long and very special kind of salami (sausage) from his native land, to be taken with some equally celebrated schnapps, called Slimbowitz, also from his native land, and contributing to cordial relations.

After lunch we walked about the old ruined monastery, inexpressibly lovely in that solitary spot. Trees grow from what once were cloisters and cells; the mother-church in its midst is crumbling, pink, vine-grown, delicious. Thomas Gage, an English monk who visited Mexico in 1625, found it then in full blast. The old retreat is a mass of lovely, unexpected details, long galleries, carved lintels, bits of sculptured vaulting, romantic inclosures, and everywhere some natural growth to fling a living charm about it all. [237]

The pink belfry still has its old bell, but now when it rings it warns Zapatistas of the approach of gendarmes instead of calling monks to prayer. Supporting it and the church behind, roofless and overgrown, are low, very broad flying buttresses, and several small chapels are still domed and cupolaed. Fine trees grow everywhere, and the whole is inclosed by pink, flower-grown, old walls.

The large patio, filled with bits of columns, stone beams, and crumbled mortar, was made lovelier still by some young and beautiful cherry-trees in full blossom, that rose gently but persistently against the background of decay.

About five o'clock the sun began to come slanting through the trees, bringing a warning of night with it, so we regretfully had the things packed to leave the snakeless paradise, the day done instead of before us—and there is always a difference. We found ourselves going rather quietly through a blackly purple forest, though overhead the sky was still pale blue.

When we got out into the Toluca highway we saw that a great dust-storm was blowing over the valley. There was no sight of the city; Lake Texcoco and the hills were veiled. We and the motors were shortly all of a light, yellowish-gray tinge. The fine earth of the road has not had a drop of moisture since last September, so you can imagine. We didn't even try to wave farewells when we got into town, but each rolled off in the direction of his own roof, to remove the marks of pleasure. Certainly the six or eight motors must have been a scourge to the dusty villages through which we passed.

I do enjoy the evenings so, after these long outings, in a tea-gown, with writing-pad or book on my comfortable [238] sofa, knitting the little thread to cast across the waters....

March 18th.

De la Barra is now in Paris and preparing to return. I notice a further darkening of faces at the imminent prospect.

A Latin-American said to me, à propos of this, "It is a sign of degeneracy when nations arrive at a point where they are willing to rend their country into a thousand bits rather than tolerate the personal success of another." Our beloved maxim, "There's always room at the top," could be changed here into "there's never room at the top."

However, everything is interesting, and even the pamphlet I have just looked over concerning the celebrated Tlahualilo case has the usual color to it. The river Nazas flows down through the lands of the Tlahualilo claim, the aguas baldías overflow the banks at certain seasons and are used for the irrigation of the Laguna district. The T. Co. had contracted with the Mexican government regarding its development, including irrigation-works, placing of colonists, buildings, etc. The Mexican proprietors round about wanted the water, too, and the T. Co. found itself in the impossibility of fulfilling its contracts, because it could not get the water necessary to the cotton crops.

Lack of water is a terrible question in Mexico, cursed with irregular rainfalls, and rivers few and far between. The Madero family own much territory in this part of Mexico, and wanted water for themselves. This is an example of the complications arising when the interests of a family are the same as the interests of the government over against foreign capital, without which, however, Mexico cannot exist. The case was pending during the Diaz régime, and now apparently it is frito [239] since the Madero incumbency, with the inevitable judgment that they had had sufficient water to fulfil their contract, but had failed to do so.

Humboldt, with his usual up-to-dateness, said, "Tout devient procès dans les colonies espagnoles." There is certainly no change between his time and mine.... One has an impression that Cortés knew what he was about when he asked the king not to send him lawyers, but monks and priests, and of these latter he did not want les chanoines. The separation of Church and State is certainly a blessing to the Church.

So few have loved Mexico for her beauty; they mostly only want her for what they can get out of her. I wonder even her geographical position is left.

The last two nights, for a change of air and scene. I have been reading Vanity Fair, and it has changed things. I found it with all the "bead" on it, as if it had just been poured from the master's brain. I remember when I read it first, in my early teens, asking you why Rawdon Crawley threw the jewel at Lord Steyne. Looking back on things, I am still of the opinion that one should do one's classics very young; the flavor never leaves one and no harm is done.

March 24th.

This afternoon I went to call on Madame Madero. She has been ill, and, of course, very anxious. I went out of the glare of the hot terrace into the comparative dimness of the room, where she was lying with a handsome satin spread covering her, a rosary in her hands, and some newspapers on the bed. Her eyes were bright with fever, and a pink spot was on each cheek, but it seemed something besides fever was burning there. She is clever enough to know when to worry, and my heart went out to her; the political mills are waiting to [240] grind her and the man whose destiny she shares and whom she loves.

The newspapers were announcing in large head-lines the operation of the Federal commanders around Rellano—Trucy Aubert, Blanquet, and Gonzalez Salas, who was once Minister of War and among the "232," being Madero's cousin. Orozco is headed apparently full to the south toward Torreon, and, say the timid and doubtful, to Mexico City. From where I sat I could see through the slit in the half-drawn curtains the glittering volcanoes and the blue, translucent hills; the deathless beauty of it all gave me a pang. Any human destiny, even clothed in the supreme office, seemed insignificant, and only the "last four things" of account....

March 25th.

Last night Gonzalez Salas, in a fit of despair, finding himself cut off from his army, which had been scattered and demoralized by the main army of Orozco, committed suicide in the train that was carrying him from defeat.

All day long the city has been flooded with rumors, and a not infrequent "Viva Orozco!" has been heard.

Squads of rurales had been patrolling the streets, picturesque, but giving an additional note of unrest.

A Cabinet meeting was hurriedly held in the Palace. Can the disaster be retrieved? is what foreigner and native alike have been asking themselves all day. I dare say a large proportion of the population are ready to turn "Orozquista" at the slightest further indication of fate. There's always a "military genius" here ready and generally able to upset whatever existing apple-cart there be.

Zapata looms large on the horizon, as he has chosen this auspicious moment to declare that he would descend upon the fold with his cohorts, not, however, gleaming [241] in purple and gold. The beauteous morning sun revealed various notices to this effect pasted up during the night in the heart of the city by daring Zapatistas.

I haven't seen them, but a rumor is as good as a fact for unsettling the public. However, I did see that La Perla and La Esmeralda had their iron windows drawn down upon their glittering treasures, when I took a turn down the Avenida San Francisco a little while ago—and many other shops had done the same.

I have no doubt the population of the submerged-tenth quarter, through which Zapata would have to pass, coming in via the Tlalpan and Country Club road, would enjoy rallying to his call. Our street seemed at one time already in the hands of revolucionarios in the shape of hundreds of newspaper boys—babes who could scarcely hold their papers, but whose bright little eyes can distinguish the national currency at any distance, and big boys and old women.

They scented large editions from the offices of La Prensa, and there was much begging for centavitos right under my windows to buy copies with. Shrieks and howls mingled with cries of "La Prensa!" and "Viva Orozco!" The trolley-cars were blocked, and we seemed the focus of the Orozco victory as far as the capital was concerned. It was late when an adequate police force appeared on the scene and formed a cordon about the lower part of the street. Even as I write they are calling an extra, which I am sending down for. It has been an exciting day, and all exciting days in Mexico are blood-colored.

March 31st.
Palm Sunday evening.

This morning I went to the Church of San Fernando. The sun was shining softly as I passed down the street of the Hombres Ilustres in through the little palm- and [242] eucalyptus-planted plaza, in the middle of which, surrounded by the most peaceful of flower-beds, is the statue of Guerrero (shot in Oaxaca in 1831). His body lies in the old cemetery near by.

A soft, shining peace was over everything, and I felt inexpressibly happy and in accord with it. No hint came to me, as I walked along, of any bloody sacrifice of God or man. Little groups of Indians were waving their palms, kneeling at the door of the church, or walking about, and a few were selling elaborately plaited branches.

Though San Fernando is in a populous quarter, the tide has set to other shrines. Once it was the center of great activities, for from this church and the monastery and seminary adjoining were fitted out all the missions to the Californias. Padre Junipero Sierra and Padre Magin Catalá, and many other holy youths, burning with a zeal we don't even dimly comprehend, came from Spain to be trained here before starting out into unknown wildernesses, "for souls and for Spain." It's all so mysteriously suggestive.

The church has a pinkish-brown baroque façade, beautifully patinée, and the old doors are carved in a noble, conventional design. As I went in it seemed rather empty, a few Indians and a few gente decente only, praying before the purple-draped altars. Dreary, immense, uninteresting paintings decorate the walls now; but its interior was once hallowed, dim, gleaming with the gold of Churrigueresque altars and retablos, carvings, embroideries, and beautiful silver and gilt candelabra and vases.

Afterward I went to the cemetery adjoining the church, known as that of the Hombres Ilustres, where a somnolent custodian let me in. The most prominent tomb is that of Juarez, dating from somewhere in the [243] eighties. He is represented with his head lying in the lap of a weeping woman, symbolic of the sorrows of the nation (and tears enough to make a river have been shed by women here, since then). I asked myself, by his tomb, what has it availed to scatter the treasures of the church? All are poorer and none, alas, the wiser.

Guerrero, of the little flower-planted plaza, Comonfort, Zaragoza, lie near, all executed by the hand of some one momentarily stronger. Generals Mejía and Miramon, the companions in death of Maximilian[40] on the fatal morning of June 19, 1867, repose here too.

In Mexico it is difficult to live for your country without the certain prospect of dying for it, but I must confess that to me the readiness with which the men of Mexico give up their lives is impressive and affecting. It is at least removed from the conventionalities of other types of political men, where mostly each one intends to live comfortably by as well as for his country, until he dies of disease, or Anno Domini.

Inspired by the wonted passion for moving things, a huge new panthéon is being constructed near by, and some day all these tired bones must make another journey. I think the cemetery as it is would make a good school-room for the study of the history of Mexico since she began her struggle for "independence."

Later we went out to the Country Club, where there was a luncheon of the usual contingent, and spent the afternoon following various friendly golfing squads over the beauteous links, beginning with the ambassador, Mr. Parry, Mr. McCarthy, and N. The volcanoes, now in one aspect, now in another of their beauty, were as gracious to the foreigner as to the indigène. The short, wiry grass, something like the tough grass of [244] Scotland, made the most luxurious of carpets as we strolled along, though now it is dried to the palest yellow—the greens kept green only by exhaustive efforts—a lot of Yankee push behind the hand that wields the hose. At sunset we drove home through a world of sifted gold. Such are the days of Mexico. [245]


Mexico's three civilizing, constructive processes—A typical Mexican family group—Holy Week—"La Catedral" on a "canvas" of white flowers—Reply of the Mexican government

April 3d.

Yesterday Aunt L. received a telegram necessitating her immediate presence in San G. Things are getting lively there again. I saw her off in the hurrying, crowded station with a pang, and the house seemed quite empty when I got back....

I have begun a very interesting edition of the letters of Cortés by Archbishop Lorenzano, from the latter part of the eighteenth century. When all is said and done there have been three civilizing, constructive processes in Mexico. The Spanish conquerors, the Church, through the marvelous energies of friars and priests, and invested foreign capital.

Every visible sign of civilization comes under one of those three heads, and is not to be blinked. Each has evolved inevitably out of the elements of the previous condition. Diaz, when he formally invited foreign capital and gave guarantees, was the expression of this last very concretely. He kept pace with events, or else ran ahead. I have discovered, however, that it is permitted to be malicious, stupid, selfish, a bore, vain, vicious, dull, hard-hearted, the oppressor of the poor; but it is an unpardonable sin to be ahead of one's time. To be behind it is an unassailable patent of respectability. [246]

It seems to me, however, that he who looks forward to a change in the affairs of the world, rather than he who looks on them as changeless, is less likely to be mistaken; and great rulers have always sensed evolutions.

April 4th,
Holy Thursday, evening.

The whole of Mexico seemed afield to-day, with a hint of Sunday best as they made the rounds of various churches for the visits to the Repository—the gente decente, as well as those sin hechos y derechos.[41]

I went through the shining Alameda, where again Indian life was beating its full around the little booths—preparing for the Resurrection morn. There is something simple and affecting about the way they regulate their commerce by these festivals of the year, this peaceful, almost rhythmic flooding in and out of the city. Now the booths are full of toy wagons, with screaming, harsh-sounding wheels, rattles of every description—in fact, any harsh combination of sounds which represents the breaking of the bones of Judas.

The Indian must have gods—and it is better to have him worshiping the image of one God, the God of gods, and His attributes, than sacrificing to Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, and their like, in blood and terror, or wandering in the colorless and empty places of unbelief.

At San Juan de Dios I came upon a family group so charming and so artless that I could scarcely take my eyes from them. The mother, a straight-haired Indian woman, with the usual small, loose upper garment and the straight piece of cloth wrapped about her hips, had the sweetest little baby peeping out from the rebozo which bound it across her back. An old oil-can, [247] filled with what I know not what, was by her side. The father carried a platter of dusty pink sweets, and a tribe of soft, bright-eyed, smiling children accompanied them. The next youngest to the baby was on the father's shoulder, who laid his hat before him with his platter, on the altar steps. His eyes were uplifted. All were silent and immobile, even the baby looking intently at the altar of the Repository, banked with flowers, ablaze with candle-light, and decorated with a few cages wherein were some small, bright-plumaged birds.

The church is part of an old chapel erected in the sixteenth century to Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken Ones); but somehow that group fulfilling its destiny did not seem forsaken, but a part of the mysterious human fabric of which I myself was just as mysterious a bit. Before the beautiful recessed portal in the rich baroque façade, whose adjacent wall is ornamented in a Mauresque design, a remnant of the earliest colonial period, was a varied assortment of beggars—also not disinherited, it seemed to me—but called to partake of the sorrows of the Madre de Dios whom they so loudly invoked as I passed in.

The feature of the church is the statue of St. Anthony of Padua, which once was among the group of santos in the façade, but had been cast down during the anti-church riots of 1857. For many years it lay covered with mud and dust in a ditch by the Alameda. Now it is a mass of votive offerings—milagros they are called—in the shape of hearts, limbs, etc., whatever organ had been damaged by the casualties of earthly existence. I espied an ingenious presentment of a liver in copper hanging in its proper anatomical place on the person of the santo. The Indians have the strange habit of making their offerings to this shrine in groupings of thirteen—thirteen candles, bouquets containing thirteen [248] flowers etc.—commemorative of the death of San Antonio on the 13th of June (1531).

I can't see how the Indian is benefited by the suppression of religious ceremonies. Gods he must have. And when one comes out into the Alameda, the sun shining on the belfries and domes of the many churches surrounding it, filtering through the lovely foliage of the park about which the Indian tides sweep, fixed as the laws that govern other tides, one feels the bounteousness of the natural world, and a desire to render thanks to something.

The long, narrow, flower-planted atrium of San Diego, from the early part of the sixteenth century, flanks the charming old house where the presses of the Mexican Herald turn out world news on the site of the Aztec market-place, or tinquiz. But though the outer seeming of life is changed, I could but think me of the changelessness of the human heart.

Good Friday Evening.

A sickening heat was in the air all day, with a something withering and nerve-disturbing about it, though, as the thermometer goes, the temperature was not high.

I went early to the little near-by church of Corpus Christi. The singing of "Dulce lignum" made me think of the great ceremonies at St. John Lateran, and much that is no more. I returned at 2.30, when a strange-faced priest with an "inner" look and a something burning in his voice, a Spaniard by his accent, was finishing the "Three Hours." Afterward, in company with Indians and black-rebozoed women, I followed the Stations of the Cross....

Holy Saturday.

Mexico City is one vast "rattle," the most dreadful sounds everywhere to commemorate the holy, still day, and as for Judas, he is a legion in himself. [249]

The Calle de Tacuba presented a strange sight. Stretched on wires or strings from one house to the other were bright-colored, hideous figures, representing the maldito[42] dangling in grotesque attitudes against the blue sky. On various street corners he is being burned in effigy. Firecrackers are exploding as I write, bells are ringing from every belfry. Grief is noisy in the tropics, even for the laying in the tomb of the Son of Man.

When I came out of the cathedral I stopped at the flower-market near by. It is a modern, ugly, round, iron-roofed affair, but the flowers, the bright birds in their bamboo cages, and, above all, the dazzling air, fling a charm about it. Every modern, ugly thing in Mexico seems easily transmuted. In the old days the Indians brought their flowers straight to the Plaza in canoes by the Viga Canal.

An Indian, with what I can only call a "canvas" of white flowers, on moss and wire, about two feet square, was putting in an outline of red and purple stocks. When I asked him what he was going to represent he answered, quite simply, with a look at the church, "La catedral." A very young Indian carrying a tiny white coffin on his head passed us, as I spoke to him, and he stopped his work and made the sign of the cross.

In the arcades several "Evangelistas," scribes, were surrounded by the unlettered and unwashed—and I found some tattered children, so easily made happy, looking at stands stocked with pink, syrupy drinks and cornucopias filled with ices. But mostly the attention of the crowd was concentrated on a huge magenta and blue Judas who was going up in a blaze of infamy on the corner.

A domestic tragedy awaited me when I returned [250] home. One of the servants, while praying before the image of Nuestra Señora del Sagrario in the Church of Corpus Christi, had her pocket-book removed. In it were some coral ear-rings, a lottery ticket, and the remains of her month's wages, just received.

She seemed more disturbed by the loss of the lottery ticket than the other articles, and kept saying, "Quién sabe, Señora?" and that she had chosen the number 313, after a very precise dream of three white rabbits, one black cat (this latter the same, I fancy, that disturbs the slumbers of Calle Humboldt), followed up by the three children of her aunt, dressed in unaccustomed white. It was almost convincing. As the door of the pantry opened when supper was being served the words "Tres conejos" (three rabbits) floated into the dining-room, with an accompanying "Quién sabe?"

Dia de Pascua, April 7th.

Happy Easter to my precious mother on this loveliest of Resurrection morns! San Felipe was crowded to suffocation—quite beautiful music in the rolling, gorgeous style, and everybody, even the beggars at the doors, with what they call here a cara de Pascua (Easter face). This is only a word while waiting to motor out to Tlalpan to the Del Rios' for a dia de campo.

April 10th.

To-day, luncheon here for Mlle. de Tréville, the singer, and her mother, who are the guests of the ambassador. We all miss dear Mrs. Wilson, who has returned suddenly to the States on account of the illness of her son, Warden, at Cornell. Rieloff was among the guests and we are to dine there on Saturday and have a musical evening afterward. He was consul-general in Hong-Kong when Von Hintze was out there as lieutenant on Prince Henry's staff. Now, what the Mexicans would call their categoría is reversed. [251]

April 11th.

I do hope, though probably vainly, that Madame Madero doesn't see all the dreadful caricatures appearing about her husband. El Mañana, edited by an extremely clever Porfirista, has apparently set out to grind him to powder, and there is one, El Multicolor, edited by a Spaniard, sometimes quite ribald, which I should say is preparing to bury the remains with scant ceremony.

There was a cartoon the other day, which I am sending, representing Madero being kicked down a long, broad flight of stairs in the palace on to a transatlantic liner bearing the fateful name Ypiranga,[43] the historic ship that bore Diaz across the bitter waters. The Latin-American mind is at its best in satire, and with the dart well poisoned they kill off their public men by the dozens.

April 14th.

The Mexican government is decidedly upset to-day at the receipt of a notification from Washington to the effect that the United States will hold Mexico and the Mexican people responsible for illegal acts sacrificing or endangering American life or property. It is a simultaneous warning to both Madero and Orozco, and the bon mot of the situation here is, "Is necessity the mother of intervention?"

April 16th.

I am still numbed and dazed by the reading of the Titanic catastrophe.

April 17th.

The Mexican government replies to our notification of the 14th, first cousin to an ultimatum, in [252] which we call categoric attention to the enormous destruction of American property, ever on the increase in Mexico, and the taking of American life, contrary to the usages of civilized nations.

The United States expects and demands that American life and property within the Republic of Mexico be justly and adequately protected, and will hold Mexico and the Mexicans responsible for all wanton and illegal acts sacrificing or endangering them.

We further insist that the rules and principles accepted by civilized nations as controlling their actions in time of war shall be observed. Any deviation from such a course, any maltreatment of any American citizen, will be deeply resented by the American government and people, and must be fully answered for by the Mexican people. The shooting of the unfortunate, misguided Thomas Fountain by Orozco (said T. F. was having a little fling seeing life, and death, too, with the Federal forces) is deplored. Orozco "answers back" that naturally he executed Fountain, who was "fighting in the enemy's army." Several Americans, employed on the Mexican railways, have also been murdered by the revolutionists.

The Mexican reply, drawn up by the long-headed, very prudent Don Pedro Lascurain, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, says Mexico finds itself in the painful position of not recognizing the right of our government to make the various admonitions which are contained in the note, since these are not based on any incident chargeable to the Mexican government, or which could signify that it had departed from an observance of the principles and practices of international law.

The Imparcial was very fierce this morning, considering us both rough and inconsiderate, and saying that Mexico has merited better treatment at our hands. [253]

Mostly they seem to think that we ought to take things as we find them or depart. I don't think much can be done in Latin America by threats or menaces. It is either definite force or tactful coaxing; and, anyway, the Monroe Doctrine can never be anything but a sort of wolf in sheep's clothing to the Latin-American peoples.

El País, which is the official Catholic organ, says the note is "the first flash of lightning," and, without doubt, some gorgeous storm-clouds are rolling up.

Don Porfirio is more completely vindicated than he could ever have hoped, or even wished. [254]


The home of President Madero's parents—Señor de la Barra returns from Europe—Zapatistas move on Cuernavaca—Strange disappearances in Mexico—Oil—The President and the railways

April 23d.

Have been busy to-day looking over things and getting boxes and trunks off to be repaired. A feeling of migration is in the air. A lot of damage was done getting to Mexico. A locksmith asked fifteen francs to open that small trunk where I keep my papers and give me a new key. He took the fifteen francs, but brought no key until pressure was put on him, when he sent back a key that fitted, having, however, a large, ornamental wrought-iron handle from the viceregal period. I should say that takes up more room than all our other keys together. It would look better in a vitrine.

If the end comes suddenly, which I don't believe, we can get out comfortably and with the philosophy engendered by the fact that, after all, these are not our Lares and Penates.

We dine at the British Legation to-night. The Stronges are very comfortably and handsomely installed, though the drawing-room, with its pale-blue hangings, endless modern chairs and cabinets and small tables, sent out from England, make it less artistic, to my mind, than in its former spare furnishing with Hohler's lovely old things. [255]

Just home from the Country Club, where I left N. starting out on a "foursome" with Susana Garcia Pimentel,[44] Señor Bernal, her brother-in-law, and an unknown fourth. On those beautiful links she seemed more beautiful than ever, with a tall slenderness, an exceeding and arresting straightness of feature, long, idealized "Hapsburg chin," and what we call a "complexion" not often seen here. She was Diana-like as she started off in a thin, extremely expensive, white, unmistakably French dress and an equally French flopping Leghorn hat, the little Indian caddy following with the arrow-case.

I called on Madame Madero, senior, yesterday, and found more than a hint of the patriarchal—sons and daughters and grandchildren coming and going. They seem quiet, dignified people. The father came in as I was sitting there with various other visitors, and the two daughters rose and kissed his hand and called him papacito. The devotion of families and the permanence of ties here is quite remarkable, a decided contrast to the more airy conjugal relations in the United States.

After tea had been served we went into the big drawing-room, where I sat with some anonymous, silent, big-hatted, small-footed Mexican women, while Angela Madero sang charmingly and easily, without the tiresome urging so often necessary. She speaks of going abroad or to New York to study, when political affairs are quite settled. The house,[45] recently built in the handsome [256] Colonia Juarez, Calle Berlin, is comfortable but banal, without the good things of the "old" families. Few books—in fact, like most of the modern Mexican houses.

As I came out the air was darkened by one of the great dust-storms that sometimes come up toward twilight at this time of the year. The strains of "The Rosary," which Angela twice sang with real feeling, followed me, together with thoughts of a family who, once rich, obscure, and happy, now find themselves perched on the dizzy, uncertain peak of Mexican politics. I wonder if the elder members don't sometimes sigh for the good old days.

April 24th.

Yesterday the ambassador gave a large musical in honor of Mlle. Tréville, who is leaving soon, at which Mrs. Schuyler and I presided. The rooms were filled with Easter lilies. Miss de T. sang really beautifully the aria of "La Folie," from "Ophélie," "Super vorreste," some songs of Mr. McDowell's, and, as her last encore, gave the ever-popular Mexican song of home and homesickness, "La Golondrina." Her voice has a beautiful, bird-like quality and her école of the best; she studied in Paris and Brussels.

Madame Madero came, looking a little thin, in a nice, black lace dress, over some shining white, with a sister resembling her, though without any suggestion of Madame Madero's banked fires; her two sisters-in-law, Angela and Mercedes, also accompanied her. Madame Ernesto Madero, always very pretty, with a bright, fresh look, in spite of her many children, was in black lace, with a large picture-hat. Indeed, I was fearful at one time that the unusually large assortment of black picture-hats, in conjunction with the Easter lilies, would make the room somewhat funereal in spots. [257]

The whole Corps Diplomatique, which had not been out in force for some time, was there. The governor of the Federal District, Don Ignacio Rivero, now a great friend of N.'s and most useful in many ways, came with his wife, whom I hadn't met. The Guatemalan minister presented his handsome bride, the Cuban minister, General de Riba, who, it appears, is breaking hearts galore with his tenor voice and handsome face, was there; and Madame Simon, as always, sparkling and interested, surveyed the scene with her long lorgnette.

The clou of the occasion was the appearance of Mr. de la Barra, just back from Europe. He was amiable, tactful, and inscrutable, but I wonder what he really thinks of the slopes of Avernus, down which the government seems to be sliding, and not gently, either. He has taken a big house, quite ex-presidential-looking, in the Calle Hamburgo, and the largest of packing-boxes are being emptied in front of it. The Embassy staff were out in full force, of course—D'Antin, interpreter and legal adviser since many years; Palmer, now diplomatic secretary to the ambassador and very capable; Parker, first clerk; and others.

Mr. Potter and Mr. Butler came in late and stayed late, and we spoiled our dinners sitting around the dining-table, eating sandwiches and sweets and talking about the party. We screamed with laughter at Mr. Potter's cutting from one of the big New York dailies, which quite solemnly states that Zapata is a natural product of the Diaz rule, and is merely avenging the innocent and oppressed ones. We all had a conviction that they had rather be unavenged. What twaddle the people have to read, anyway. As for me, school begins with my first waking moment and continues without a recess till I pass from this land of the unexpected and unsuspected to that of dreams. [258]

April 25th.

The newspapers have been having large head-lines the past two days regarding the Zapatistas, for "the Attila of the South" is moving on Cuernavaca from the north, and it seems but a question of time before the lovely town falls into his hands. The Federal garrison is estimated at only a few hundreds, while the Zapatistas have between four and five thousand men.

The inhabitants are anxious to be allowed to surrender, as Zapata has declared that if there is resistance he will sack and burn the town, "piously" leaving nothing standing but the cathedral, according to his solemn promise to the bishop. There was quite a tidy bit of warning at Huitzilac, when that town was stormed, as to what might happen to Cuernavaca, which is full of refugees from Guerrero and the southern part of Morelos. This most fertile and lovely state, wherein may be seen "all the vegetable kingdoms of the world in a moment of time," is practically in the hands of the Zapatistas, shading off into "Salgadistas" and endless other "istas," coloring the country-side independently. In all this the women and children seem the pity of it. At home or afield, they are continually being caught up into mysterious traps of destiny. Even here in my house there are, from time to time, curious disappearances.

Josefina, the silent, consumptive seamstress who comes to sew and mend, has one of those vanishing sorts of lives. She has wonderful hands, and can copy with her slender, tapering fingers the most complicated French clothes. In fact, if one were able to get the stuffs here, one couldn't tell the copy from the original, cut and all. She has just been copying that rather intricate Jeanne Hallé purple-and-black blouse. Except for the inside waistband, whose origin is nameless, like Josefina, you can scarcely tell them apart, [259] not a sixteenth of a centimeter's difference in length, breadth, or width.

She sits in the sun by an open window, and has egg and sherry at eleven and before she goes home, but the sands of her life are slipping fast. She lives in a room with three other consumptive sisters. The eldest went out one night to get some oil for their lamp. It is now ten days, and she has not returned. Is she working in the powder-mills, or what? Who will care, and who could if he would inform himself of her fate—just gone out into the night.

Madame Bonilla, from whom I got Josefina, has been an angel of mercy to her and her sisters, and tried unsuccessfully to rearrange their housing, inviting Josefina to live at her country place and supply her with work. But one can only battle so far with Indian situations. After a certain point everything seems to slip away into mystery, racial and individual.

Does not constitutional democracy seem a snare and a delusion if two-thirds of the population are composed of such? It brings a smile, but of despair, to the face. My very good Indian washer-woman, not long ago, left me. The usual excuse of an aunt or a grandmother, or some one being ill or dead, was not used. She just stood there with her three children, clutching the ends of her rebozo, that the last, fat little baby was rolled up in, and repeated that she must return at once to her pueblo whose Indian name I didn't catch. She had a sort of an antique, troubled look. I asked Cecilia if she knew what the matter was. She answered the usual "Pués quién sabe, Señora?"

We got some things together for the children, and I gave her a few pesos, and she went off, out of my life, out of the security of food and lodging that was hers, to [260] melt into the endless generations of Indians; I felt uncomfortable for long after.

Talking about housework, I wish some of the airy stipendiaries of other climes, or even the women of those sections of my native land where they don't have "help," could really know what it is here, where half the female energies of the nation are engaged in the grinding of corn. They don't do it occasionally, but every day, and hour after hour, or the nation would starve.

It's one of the most appalling things in Mexico, this grinding of the mother literally between the upper and nether stones. How can a nation advance when the greater part of the women pass their lives grinding corn, making tortillas, and bearing children? There is no time or strength left to sketch in the merest outline of home-making, let alone a personal life, or any of the rudiments of citizenship.

April 26th.

Yours about the catastrophe in the Bay of Tangier is received. My heart aches. To think of parents being brought back out of the darkness of death by drowning, to call for three children and find nothing! It is Greek, terrible. You remember them from Berlin days and those lovely little ones.

Last night we dined at Mr. Walker's with our military attaché and Mr. Knoblauch; they are all keeping bachelor quarters in Mr. W.'s handsome house next door to the British Legation, in his wife's absence. The talk turned on oil. Though the Aztecs used it for their temple floors, the Spaniards left it in the rich breast of Mother Earth. Now it looks as if it were going to be the center of foreign interests in Mexico, replacing in the inevitable evolution of things its romantic mining history. [261]

Mr. Doheny, the pioneer of the industry, has had one of those careers only possible to the man of genius. He appeared on the scene of the future oil-drama (the state of Vera Cruz),[46] looked about him, installed a plant of many millions, and when he was ready, the oil gushed up—a sort of twentieth century striking of the rock—to say nothing of Moses.

Lord Cowdray's enterprise was not less spectacular nor less profitable. Nature did not, however, wait on his preparedness, for suddenly from his lands the greatest oil-well in the world, Las Dos Bocas, gushed out, and for months burned upward in a great column of smoke and fire, and flowed out to the sea, a burning waste of light and heat, before it could be capped.

Now that modern-sounding thing, an oleoduct, carries a vast stream from one of the other great wells (Potrero del Llano) to Tampico, to the sea, where navies and merchant-ships await it, and we have begun a new era in the mechanical activity of the world.

Mr. Walker enlivened it all with amusing tales of Indian laborers and their ways when driven by Anglo-Saxons who suffer not the word mañana. Underneath it is the beat of world-passions and world-needs, and Mexico, lovely and uncertain, finds herself at once the stage of mighty interests—and their battle-ground.

After dinner we betook ourselves to the big living-room, where the phonograph was turned on, giving forth such national lyrics as "You Have Another Papa on the Salt Lake Line," and "My Wife's Gone to the Country, [262] Hurray, Hurray!" The nearest we got to the classics was the air from "Martha."

Burnside drove us home, after a turn in the dim, mysterious park. The immense and splendid "Ship" was stretching low across the starry heavens, and there were great spaces of intensest black between the groupings of the constellations. These stars, under which I was not born, have a strange and quieting influence on me. One cannot look other than with stillness and awe on their luminous rhythm, compared to the restless and confused "who knows whence, whither, or what" of the Indian destinies they shine on. All that "vast and wondering dream of night" which "rolls on above our tears."

Mr. J. B. P. gives a big luncheon at the Villa des Roses to-day, and has sent me the list to seat. You see that we do move about, though somewhat warily, in these regions of political quicksands.

The ambassador has always had the gravest doubts as to Madero's competency. Nothing any of us have seen, up to now, has been encouraging. It is one thing to inflame a country by promises of everything to everybody; it's another thing to rebuild a state, as he set out to do, from ruins, or even to sustain law and order, as he knew it, and benefited by it, in his youth. That dreamy face of his makes me think of the school-boy's definition of an abstract noun, "something you can't see," and those hands, with their soft and kindly gestures, are so unfitted for grappling with this special Leviathan—and consequences are pitiless. Alas for the peu de politique et beaucoup d'administration of Diaz!

Photograph by Ravell

I discovered a decided hint of original sin in Elim yesterday. When I told him to kneel in church he said his leg hurt him; when I told him to make the sign of the cross he said his arms hurt him, and his neck was like a ramrod when I told him to bow his head. [263]

April 27th.

A year ago to-day we set out on our tropical adventure, and the end is not yet. I said to the ambassador yesterday, à propos of picnics, "What shall we do next Sunday?" He answered: "You may be on a war-ship next Sunday."

However, the climax may not come for months, and it may not come that way when we do leave, but it would be a fine finale!


Your letter from Mentone of April 15th has just been handed in—twelve days only; did it fly through space? I ask myself.

I have been reading an account of the death of the great viceroy, Bucareli, which tells of the famous courier who was sent to announce the nomination to his successor, Mayorga, then in Guatemala, building a new capitol near the old, destroyed by earthquake. He did the distance, over pathless mountains and deep valleys, in seven days, spurred on by the motto of "the king is dead, long live the king"—in this case translated into an old Mexican saying of "No es lo mismo virrey que viene que virrey que se va" ("A viceroy that comes is not the same as a viceroy that goes").

The Mexican post, in the old days, was auctioned off to the highest bidder by the state, not a confidence-inspiring way of communication, and it ended by wealthy people having their own runners. Now, in twelve days, a letter takes its flight from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Mexican heights! Autre temps, autres mœurs.

There is from the time of the wars of independence the picturesque tale of the "Courrier Anglais"; nothing English about it, except that an Indian horseman by the name of Verazo would leave Mexico City in [264] time to reach Vera Cruz for the arrival of the packet from Southampton, and in his saddle-bags would be the whole diplomatic and mercantile correspondence of the capital.

He never stopped, except to jump from one horse to the other at the relay stations, and was allowed privileges of safe-conduct by all shades of combatants, regular and irregular. Once arrived at Vera Cruz, he would eat copiously, sleep for a couple of days, and then return with the mails to Mexico City, ready to repeat his exploits the next month.

Do you remember that poem of Bret Harte's, "The Lost Galleon"? I came across it the other day, fingering a volume of American poetry. It, too, evokes pictures of runners bringing mails and valuables from the Orient up from Acapulco, and begins:

In sixteen hundred and forty-one

The regular yearly galleon,

Laden with odorous gums and spice,

India cotton and India rice,

And the richest silks of far Cathay,

Was due at Acapulco Bay.

The luncheon at the Villa des Roses was very pleasant. The place is kept by a Frenchwoman with a fine touch and an excellent cellar. She has some wonderful pâté de foie gras in a great terrine, just out from France, and her macédoine de fruits was arrosée with an ancient and mellow maraschino. The table was spread in a long glass veranda, with thickly blossoming rose-vines, crimson rambler, trailing over it. The Lefaivres, the Riedls, Von Hintze, the ambassador, Rieloff, De Vilaine, Kilvert, Seeger, the Schuylers, and ourselves made up the party.

Mr. Potter's lavishness as to menu made us feel somewhat "boa-constrictory" as we rose from table, but we [265] were able to get into the garden and have our photographs taken by Baroness R., which I send you.

April 29th.

Burnside goes to the "front," which now means Huerta's army against Orozco's; changes of front are among the natural phenomena here. It appears General Huerta is full of resource and has contrived to enlist and equip a large force in this short month.

I did not tell you of the dinner at the German Legation the other night for the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pedro Lascurain. Mrs. Stronge presided, with him on her right, and I sat on his other side.

He is a tall, spectacled, near-sighted-appearing man with a pleasant expression, but I understand he can see farther than most down financial and political vistas. He has a natural flair for business, having made a large fortune by real-estate purchases in the new section of the town, is moderate in the political sense, honorable and very pious.

He told me about the Sagrado Corazón, the church he is building almost entirely out of his own pocket for the Jesuits in the Calle de Orizaba near his house. It had been so badly cracked in what is now simply known as the "Madero" earthquake (June 7, 1911), not as a "sign from heaven," that work had to be suspended on it while the foundations were strengthened. N. said he remarked quite simply to him, in the course of a conversation, "Why do you Americans talk of intervening in Mexico? You own it already."

He has replaced Calero, sent as ambassador to Washington. I predict that Calero will know a good deal more about us than we do about him before he is done.

After much hesitation, Aunt L. has rented the big house near the station to General Garcia Hernandez [266] of the "military zone." They would have taken it if she hadn't. It's certainly ideal for strategic purposes; it commands a view of the whole country and the railway is comfortingly near at hand. The large fly in the ointment is that quantities of dynamite have been stored in it. She has been waiting for days to go to Juchitan, where things are lively again. She does not dare to drive over, and the train has not been going for some time, a commentary on the regeneration of Mexico. If the taxes are not paid there are fines, and they have to get to Juchitan to pay the taxes or the usual devil gets the hindmost. Batches of wounded from there have been brought in to San G.

Yesterday we went a-picnicking again to El Desierto—three motors full—Mr. Potter, Mr. Butler, Mademoiselle de Tréville and her mother, Burnside, Seeger, the ambassador, and ourselves. We all met at the Embassy, where there was an immense amount of telephoning between N. and the governor, Rivero, as to whether the first detachment of soldiers, supposed to have gone early in the morning to prepare the scene for festivities by clearing the brush of Zapatistas, really had departed.

After circling round and round the Embassy, the sun so broiling we could not sit still in it, we finally started off, the gentlemen bulging with pistols, the motors heavy with cartridges. We were preceded by a military auto containing two officers and eight men. They nearly choked us with their dust, and only when we got off the highway into the lovely forest stretch did we begin to "take notice" again. Then the glinting of uniforms through the great trees, Miss de Tréville boldly trilling some lovely variations on "The Star-spangled Banner," the general feeling of adventure, not unmixed with pride as to our boldness, made us once more "rejoice in the green springtime of our youth," according to Nezahualcoyotl. [267]

By the time we reached the luncheon site we felt ourselves perfect daredevils and ready for anything. The only risk we did run (I hate to relate it) was when a pair of excited mules, driven by a wild-eyed Indian, coming from quién sabe where, dashed upon us as we were sitting innocently at lunch in the idyllic spot I wrote you of. They were prevented by a big tree, only some four yards off, from completely demolishing us. The wagon was smashed, and the picnickers fled in all directions. The first thought of each was that it was the prelude to a Zapatista play, and we were on their stage. However, all's well that ends well: and here I am on my sofa again.

The political mess thickens. So much might have been done, if all the efforts of the government had not been expended on keeping in office. War-ships are announced, some of ours, and the English and French and Germans will take a look, too.

A curious complication about the railways has come to a head, involving not alone money, but life. Shortly after Madero came in he endeavored to get rid of the American railroad servants, who tried to get the matter taken up in Washington, and there was a lot of unofficial talk besides. Madero had ordered that, after a certain date, all orders must be written in Spanish; the trainmen, while speaking Spanish, in the majority of cases, could not write it sufficiently well for prompt and efficient service. Mr. W. has been so convinced from the beginning that Madero could not fill the position that he has lost interest in personal communications. So he sent N. up to Chapultepec to see Madero and explain to him the bad effect this would have. There were even threats of boycott on the northern frontier by union trainmen, who considered it would be an unjust act, as many of the men had been in Mexico since childhood, and [268] there were many of them over age who couldn't get jobs in the United States. N. told him it was very impolitic, etc., etc.

Madero thought it over and said in French: "You can tell the ambassador that the order very probably will not go into force, though it is impossible for me to revoke it." N. reported this to the ambassador. Several days afterward, on April 17th, he met Mr. Brown on the links. Mr. Brown said, with a smile, "That order went into force to-day" (Mr. B. had to sign it as president). N. hurried off to the ambassador, who was naturally very annoyed, and said N. must have misunderstood Mr. Madero. N. thought his goose was cooked; that Madero would go back on him and throw the interview in with a lot of other Mexican apocrypha.

But Madero was most decent about it all and said: "Yes, I did tell Mr. O' S. so, but I was unable to prevent the order from going into force." The result has been that a large body of trained men who couldn't negotiate la lengua castellana have been obliged to leave the country, to their own and Mexico's detriment.

Madero's idea was to "democratize" the national railways—i.e., to load the system with as many employees as possible. At the end of the Diaz régime there were a few dozen competent inspectors; under the Madero régime they had been increased tenfold.

The green parrot I brought from San G. is chirping in the next room—quite a member of the family, but dreadfully backward as to languages. [269]


The "Apostle" begins to feel the need of armed forces—A statesman "who is always revealing something to somebody"—Nursing the wounded at Red Cross headquarters

May 4th.

As you will see from the inclosed clipping, posters all over town containing the same, Madero is in a bad condition. Reports from Huerta's army are that disease, typhus, and black smallpox are rife. Burnside is up there now watching operations.

Huerta states that he will not lead his three thousand troops to certain death against Orozco's myriads, strongly intrenched, until his preparations are complete. Some kind of end is perhaps in sight. The only diplomat at Madame Madero's reception Thursday was the Belgian wife of the Japanese chargé. I intended to go, but was trying to mend a broken night with a siesta, and it slipped my mind till too late.

Battle of Puebla, May 5th.
(A year ago to-day we landed in Vera Cruz.)

The town is flagged and there has been a big military parade, with the beautiful Mexican brass echoing through the streets. It is the most popular of the lay festivals, commemorating the victory of General Diaz and General Zaragoza over the French at Puebla (1862).[47] [270]

There is a hint of "Prætorian Guard" creeping into the presidential surroundings, and other signs that the "Apostle" is beginning to feel the need of armed forces at his back. Appeals to virtue are not proving any more sufficient for government here than they would be elsewhere. It's the uselessness of governments trying to change the formulas of the human heart that strikes me most; and the Mexican heart, undisciplined, passionate, multiform, illustrates it so completely.

May 7th.

Your letter with the Impressions d'Italie program has come. I, too, long for the beautiful land. So much reminds me of it here, and yet there is really not the remotest likeness between Mexican and Italian atmosphere.

They are expecting a battle, a big one, within twenty-four hours. Every one and everything is hanging on the turn of that event.

Madero is as simple as a child in many ways, and as impulsive, but simplicity isn't the first requirement for manipulating government in the land of the cactus. A Spanish proverb took my attention the other day to the effect that "an official who cannot lie may as well be out of the world," and Madero is as honest as the day. If language is given to conceal our thoughts, he makes little use of the covering. It is complained of him that he is always revealing something to somebody.

Of course all business enterprises are deadlocked, and many dark, as well as light, complexioned ones, having "things to put through," doubtless long for intervention.

May 10th.

Things social have "slumped" since some weeks. Nobody in the face of all the uncertainties feels convivial [271] or has any courage about planning for something that may not materialize in the very precarious future.

Our bucolic and innocent picnic at the Desierto, where the only harm took the shape of mules, has been turned into a sort of orgy by some of the San Antonio and El Paso papers, in which champagne, Spanish dancers, frisky foreign diplomats, cold-eyed and depraved American "interests," are in the foreground, while the background is occupied by a faithful but scandalized Mexican guard. Of such is the kingdom of history.

The dinner that the governor of the Federal District gave last night for the ambassador is the only official thing for some time. It was the usual conventional Mexican dîner de cérémonie with its French menu, many courses, and appropriate wines for each. It does not give the effect of having the least resemblance to what they do when en famille, but presents rather a set, very expensive, restaurant effect. I sat between the governor and De la Barra, who took me out.

To his refreshment, I think, the talk revolved about the Eternal City rather than the eternal Mexican situation. As ex-President of the republic he received many honors in Italy, decorations from the king and the Holy Father, and is plus catholique que jamais. Any one like De la B., who has practical experience of government, however, knows that all is not quiet on the plateau, let alone the situation in the north. Madame de la B., looking very pretty but pale, wore a handsome blue pailletée dress, so good that it was doubtless got in Paris, en route to Rome.

Ernesto Madero and his wife were also there. She loves going out, and always has a pleased, not at all blasé look on her handsome face, which is most attractive. I imagine Don Ernesto is très-fin with real gifts. We always say the Madero government reminds [272] us of the Medici, with the fine arts and the strong hand cut out. One of them is President, one of them almost more than President, Don Ernesto is Minister of the Treasury, Rafaél Hernandez, his cousin, Minister of Fomento. Another brother, Emilio, is with the army, etc., etc., etc., down through the generally computed two hundred and thirty-two members. It's the most complete system of nepotism since the aforementioned Florentine days.

Huerta is reported to be making good progress driving Orozco back north of Bermejillo, where Captain Burnside now is.

May 14th.

To-night deep nostalgia possesses my heart; the seasons have swung round again. At four o'clock the first rain drenched the city.

This morning to the Red Cross, where a solid three hours' work awaited Madame Lefaivre and myself, looking neither to the right nor to the left. A larger number than usual waiting to be attended to, the wounded coming in, not only from the real seat of battle, but as the results of skirmishes all round, and, of course, the usual casualties of the city.

We will have a lot in next week from the battle of Tuesday; it takes about six days for the wounded to get in from the north.

The doctors are very gentle, and the patients so very patient—scarcely a whimper or a groan. Sometimes only a contraction of the features when suffering agony. True Indian stoicism. The Spanish flows, and my "medical" Spanish is now in competition with my "kitchen" Spanish.

Madame Lefaivre and I are the only ones who keep to our schedule days. The Mexican ladies can't; either the rooms are filled to overflowing with them, picture-hats [273] coming and going, darkening the horizon, or they don't appear at all.

Aliotti, the new Italian minister, has arrived, and was among my callers this afternoon. His beautiful wife is not with him, as she could not stand the altitude. He is just from Rome, from the Foreign Office, and is extremely clever. He finds Mexico somewhat far from his special "madding crowd."

A letter from Aunt L. says a man from Istlaltepec had come dashing in a few minutes before to tell the general that the rebels were sacking the hacienda of Don Panfilo Ruiz near Istlaltepec, the banker I met at Juchitan. Various inhabitants of a town beyond had been killed, and people were arriving at San Gerónimo on foot or on horseback, fleeing for their lives under a broiling sun.

The mounted troops and the infantry were got out and departed for the scene of trouble, and the band played as usual at four o'clock on Sunday, the music tending to calm the people, though all were wondering what was going on on the other side of the Istlaltepec hill. Five miles, it seems to me, is a little too near for comfort. Aunt L.'s house was surrounded by soldiers ready to surrender or attack. "Viva Mexico!"

Several days ago a pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Morelia was published. In it he gives his flock the salutary advice to keep out of politics altogether. I think every one realizes that Diaz enforced protection for all and everybody, and it will take years for things to settle down.

There is a fair amount of politics in these letters, but if one happens to be so inclined one finds oneself taking politics in with the air. They are everywhere, yet it seems to me, of the threads of destiny that are being spun, I get only a few loose ends. Great foreign interests, oil, ore, and transport, play themselves out [274] with many a shift and twist, against the Mexican political film, shaking, unstable, distorted, now too big, now too small, out of proportion as they come down the stage or go off. But always of breathless interest.

May 20th.

The King of Denmark is called into another kingdom, where he is not king. How suddenly the summons came, when he was strolling about Hamburg in the evening, unattended! The end of mortality, kingly or otherwise; but I have lost an irreplaceable friend.... Peace to his soul! I am so sorry you did not see him on the Riviera. Do you know that — too has gone? I remember that luncheon she gave for him in — and didn't ask me, and how surprised and displeased he was when he came in for a moment in the morning and said, "I will see you at lunch," and I answered, "Not asked." We had to laugh, it was so ridiculous.

How tragic, too, the death of the young Cumberland prince with Von Grote, his aide-de-camp![48] We used to see them both so often in Vienna.

The Mexican episode may be drawing to a close, but quién sabe? All life down here assumes a mysteriousness, even in its simplest manifestation. The natural phenomena, the things we consider quite impersonal in New York or Paris or Berlin, seem to perform their operations here in an astoundingly intimate way. A sunset is a more than daily occurrence, due to the cold fact that the earth revolves on its axis just so often; that moonlight experience of last autumn remains in memory, and a consciousness is always with one of an intimacy with natural decrees.

The faultfinding Americans who come here, and really love it, though they talk loudly about the national failings [275] and sigh for "honest Americans," are under the spell of this intimacy with the natural world, though they don't often analyze it; this delicious, satisfying sensation of being included in the operations of destiny, not being hung solitarily between birth and death.

I never look up at the Southern Cross without my heart, too, leaping up—and thinking, with Humboldt, of the lines he quotes from Dante, "Io mi volsi a man destra e posi mente all' altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle."[49]

The rainy season is full upon us, for which all are thankful. There has been a great deal of illness in the town, the dust-storms were unusually severe, and the collection of microbes carried hither and thither would break a microscope. The mornings seem made in heaven, and, after weeks of being dust-veiled, the volcanoes are out again in all their splendor.

Tuesday, 22d.

Many people calling to-day; among others charming Manuelito del Campo, just married to the handsome niece of Madame Escandon, of the Puente de Alvarado. They are making bridal visits. She wore a regardless beige gown, with Paris written all over it, and beautifully put on over a lovely, small-hipped figure. I wish them well.

Mr. de S. stayed after all had gone. He is very sad at the disintegration of government, and in fact why should any Mexican be cheerful? The past is destroyed, [276] the present tottering, and the future hidden. He is always most understanding and simpático.

A short, terrific thunder-storm came on as we sat talking and afterward everything was drenched and dripping in the corridor and patio. As I stood at the door with him we were led to talk of destinies. I said that, for my part, I had no hunger, all glories and all miseries were known to me, and I was learning to feed upon myself. But he remained silent, stroked Elim's hair, called him buen mozo, and went out. As always, it is each one to his own path, and one is lucky to meet, even for a second of time, some one going the same way.

To-day I closed forever the covers of Strindborg's hideous, haunting Froken Julie, that horrid conflict of souls in a kitchen. But once read, can I ever wipe it out of memory?

May 23d.

The ambassador says we will all go home on a war-ship if "the break," as the possible event is colloquially known, does come. Can't you see us all stowed away, according to the protocol, on one of the war-ships, and various dissatisfactions, however carefully things are arranged, as to rank and previous condition of servitude?

May 25th.

Orozco acknowledges defeat in the north, laying it at the doors of the United States. The neutrality laws prevented him from getting in the required arms and munitions.

The government is very cheerful, full of smiles at the progress of the Federal troops under General Huerta, who have wiped out, in much blood, the blot on the Federal escutcheon; for Rellano, lost by Gonzalez Sala, is now retaken by Huerta. Orozco, in his retreat, is destroying railways and bridges, and there will be big [277] bills for some one to foot. Huerta, it appears, has shown generalship of a high order.

But I have been under gray skies, following the great procession that carried Frederick the Seventh to his last resting-place. The three Scandinavian kings, Gustavus of Sweden, Haakon of Norway, and the new ruler and son, all so tall, like vikings of old, walked side by side, heading the procession, the first meeting of the three since the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905.

Queen Alexandra, the Dowager Empress of Russia, and King George of Greece,[50] always so agreeable, were there to mourn their brother, and many another of the familiar figures on the Copenhagen screen of memory. It was a breaking up of family ties to them—to the world, only a new king of Denmark.

You remember that cold, bright December day, with its sparkling snow, and frosty, glistening trees, when we went to Roskilde to see the ancient church where the kings of Denmark sleep their last sleep? And now, on a May morning, to the strains of the great organ, that captain and that king departs whose friendship I had. Again, peace to his soul!...

Several days ago I discovered at an old bookshop at the Calle del Reloj, off the Zócalo, a first edition of Madame Calderón de la Barca's book, 1843, Boston, decidedly worn as to its leather binding, but in excellent condition otherwise—unfaded print on unyellowed paper. I wish she could cast that pleasant objective eye of hers on my Mexico; I believe she would recognize the political housekeeping!

Around about the Zócalo are many second-hand shops; also in the Volador old books are to be found. But they are mostly yellowed manuscript—copies of the accounts [278] of the administradores on the old Spanish estates, books on medicines and herbs, records of lawyers' fees, and the like. Generally the title-pages are missing, and always all the engravings.

I have a copy of Periquillo Sarniento, the "Gil Blas" of Mexico, but it is difficult reading for a foreigner, full of satiric allusions to political events of the period and to purely local conditions. It was published in Havana in 1816, when the author, De Lizardi, El Pensador Mexicano, was there to escape the consequences of his satiric jibes. He wrote, curiously enough, another book (La Quijotita) dealing with the higher education of women, which, in Mexico, has scarcely been repeated in the hundred years.

May 28th.

I wonder, as I write, if you are walking the green fields of Rankweil; my heart accompanies you.

Things are going on very pleasantly from day to day, as far as we, personally, are concerned, but the national machine seems clogged and creaking, in spite of the victories in the north.

Oaxaca is in a state of complete revolution. Six thousand Indians have risen, and the whole country is seething with brigandage, flourishing greenly under the weak central rule. It will take years for things to settle down.

On Sunday another picnic is being got up. The ambassador, of course, J. B. P., Mr. Butler, the Bonillas, Professor Baldwin, who is giving a course at the university here, Aliotti and Mr. Brown, president of the National Railways. I always take Elim for the dias de campo. He is quite a feature of the gatherings and good as gold, playing by himself. [279]


One Indian's view of voting—Celebrating the King's birthday at the British Legation—A single occasion when Mexican "pillars of society" appear—Reception at Don Pedro Lascurain's

Sunday evening, June 2d.

We had a very lively picnic to-day at the Peña Pobre, all gathering at Calle Humboldt, where we waited vainly for Professor Baldwin. At last, after fruitless telephoning, we started through the shining city, out the Tlalpan road, past the Country Club, where the links were black with golfers, through the très-coquet Tlalpan, to the Peña Pobre hacienda.

I drove out with the ambassador, the Italian minister, Mr. Brown, Mr. Potter, and Mr. Butler. We got the necessary permission from the obliging administrator at the door of the hacienda, and then passed on through the lovely rose-garden to a wilder, gorge-like spot, where a long, weather-stained table was built under the shade of some eucalyptus-trees.

The ambassadorial butler took charge of things at this special, strategic point, and we wandered about the lovely spot. The paper-mills are so discreetly hidden that one wouldn't know they existed. The Peña Pobre is near the celebrated Pedregal, or Malpais, a prehistoric lava-stream, which the crater of Ajusco is supposed to have contributed to the landscape, and which has been for centuries, with its caves and retreats, the beloved of bandits and all shades of delinquents. Montezuma is [280] supposed to have hidden there his gold and silver treasure, and Cortés is said to have found it and shipped it to Spain.

As all the picnickers were in good form, we had a particularly cheerful lunch, enlivened by the usual discussion of the perfectly patent truth that self-government is not native to the Mexicans. There were those who knew what they were talking about in the assemblage.... Don Benjamin Butler gave his touching story of one of his peons coming to him with a piece of paper and asking what it said. "It says you have a right to vote." The peon thereupon put the artless question, "For whom shall I vote?" Don Benjamin further explained that Estebán Fernandez was the only candidate in their state (Durango). "I'll vote for him if you want me to, but I'd rather vote for you," was the answer.

It's Indian, charming, but it bears little relation to the simon-pure Anglo-Saxon democracy that they are trying to try down here.

The party was further enlivened by the curious case I discovered in a home newspaper of the old gentleman, found dead, whose body was identified by two sons, of around about fifty years of age, who had never met until the inauspicious occasion. For half a century he had had families in adjoining towns. I thought he must have been a bright old gentleman. Mr. Potter thought he must have had some money, too.

We got as far on the return trip as the Country Club, when it began to pour, the golfers dashing in from all points to take refuge in the celebrated "nineteenth hole," not dry, either. The sun showed itself for a moment before setting, and flung a few lovely flame-covered scarfs about the dazzling heads of the volcanoes; but [281] the world we were in remained damp and dark, and we turned home quite willingly.[51]

I found an invitation, on returning, from the chef du Protocole, in the name of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Señora de Lascurain, for a reception at their house on Friday afternoon en obsequio del Honorable Cuerpo Diplomático.

June 4th.

Yesterday a large reception at the British Legation in honor of the King's birthday. The Union Jack was flying high over the entrance as we went in, the house was filled with beautiful flowers, and there was much health-drinking and good wishes. The official world, Mexican and foreign, of course out in full force, and the colony—altogether a very pleasant occasion, with that special English feeling of "empire" behind it all.

Mrs. Stronge has been ill, but she was seeing a few friends up-stairs in the charming corner room, with its view of the volcanoes. The old quotation came, as so often, to my mind, Si á morar en Indias fueras, que sea donde los volcanes vieres.

The pet of the Legation, a bright green parrot, or, to be more precise, a green, bright parrot, brought from Bogotá, was helping her receive. I came home with the ambassador, who goes to Washington for two weeks over the northern route, and Schuyler is to "enjoy" his absence. Now I must close; Tuesday visitors are beginning to arrive.

June 5th, evening.

This morning at 8.30 I heard dear Aunt L.'s voice outside my door. She had arrived from Orizaba with [282] Laurita, who has masses of beautiful red-gold hair. She is now sitting in a big armchair, doing nothing, I am thankful to say, though The House of Mirth is within reach when she feels like reading. So glad to have her here.

June 7th.

The reception at the Casasuses last night was a most gorgeous affair. He is one of the few científicos still visible in Mexico City, a man of much cultivation and erudition. He has preserved his relations with the Madero family, also his money, but there is that in his eye which makes one feel that he has not preserved his illusions.

The reception was to open his splendid new house in the Calle de los Heroes, which has been building since some years, and also for the contrat de mariage of his eldest daughter. A fine band was sounding as we went in through the zaguán. The great patio was covered with a sort of light-blue velum, and behind it were myriads of star-like lights. The great fountain was ablaze, too, and everything was decorated with wreaths of marguerites, recalling the name of the fiancée, who is to marry a son of the famous Justo Sierra, Minister of Public Instruction under Diaz.

Madame C., large and impressive and a blaze of diamonds, was flanked by her two pretty, slim daughters, very jeune fille as to dress, but rather sophisticated as to expression. The novia was in white, and the younger girl in a similar costume of blue.

All strata of society were there, even the "pillars," holding up things for this single occasion; charming-looking and beautifully dressed women I had not seen before—some of that invisible chicheria I suppose; the official set, the military, etc., etc. There were some fine jewels—great plaques of emeralds much in evidence—and [283] one lady wore a strange necklace of very large, very lustrous, almost square pearls.

The rooms are elaborately furnished in the modern French style. The brocade-covered walls hung with expensive modern French paintings. Portraits of Monsieur and Madame Casasus, by one of the great French artists, I forget which, were in the large pink-and-gold salon. The magnificent library, with thousands of volumes, the collection of a lifetime, was furnished from London by Waring and had long tables bearing atlases and big in-quarto volumes, deep leather chairs, and reading lamps, most inviting.

The supper was lavish to a degree; it was whispered about that the cost of the entertainment was fifty thousand dollars. Madame C. presided over the huge square table of the diplomats, loaded with great candelabra, beautiful imported fruits in massive silver dishes and rare flowers in tall silver vases. I was taken down by a general whose name I didn't get, in the fullest of regimentals, who had lost an arm in some one of the interior campaigns—I think Madero's.

The champagne flowed; French pâtés, asparagus, all sorts of things which had come from long distances, were passed by liveried servants. Don Sebastian Camacho, sighting his ninetieth year, was the beau of the occasion, carrying his years lightly and gallantly, entouré de dames. We came away at one o'clock, leaving things in full swing, the music and the pounding of the dancing feet echoing through the great patio.[52] Now I am off to the Red Cross. [284]

June 8th.

Yesterday Red Cross all the morning, and the reception at the Lascurains' in the afternoon. The heavens opened punctually at five, and an unusually bountiful supply of water fell upon the sons and daughters of the nations en route to the function. We descended with the Chermonts at the door during a baby cloudburst.

The house is a big, handsome dwelling consisting of one very high-ceilinged floor of rooms, with a charming urned railing, lifted up against the sky, and hung with Bougainvillea, wistaria, and honeysuckle, blooming in their turn. Inside it reminded me of the Carlton Hotel in London, but must be most comfortable to live in, though the Honorable Cuerpo seemed to spread out rather thin over its large spaces.

Its great feature is the wonderful aviary, on the side away from the street, where dozens of the rarest and most gorgeous birds live together in peace and apparent happiness. Don Pedro, whose special hobby they are, showed them to me, but I only remember the names of a few, and a mass of flying, singing color. "Mexican caciques," the lovely yellow-and-black oriole of the tropics, most beautiful bluejays, much more gorgeous than ours, for to their brilliant coat of blue-and-white are added crests and plume-like tails—and huacamaias and parrokeets, who made their part of the inclosure look like carnival time.

Mr. Lefaivre took me out to the very elaborate tea, spread in an immense dining-room. The baby cloudburst, which in his victoria he got the full advantage of, [285] and the continual destruction of French property in one part or another of the republic made him rather pessimistic. He says they always give him the fullest promises, when he lodges his complaints, and then nothing further happens any more than if he had lodged them outre tombe.

Don Pedro has a bright-eyed, agreeable, clever daughter who helped her mother receive. She brought out a fine linen square on which we wrote our names to be embroidered by her nimble fingers later on.

I feel about Lascurain a note of sincerity and a lack of personal aims and ambitions. Certainly nothing save patriotism could have led him to accept a place in the Cabinet. He has wealth and position, and only fatigues and uncertainties, storms and dangers, await him in the ship of state.

Legation d'Autriche-Hongrie,
Sunday, June 9th.

Am writing this, as you see by the letter-head, at the Riedls', waiting for the picnic party to assemble. I am, unfortunately, always on time, a bad habit, and not cured by over a year of mañana.

The R.s have a sun-flooded house on the corner of Havre and Marsella in the new part of town, and I am scribbling this at the desk in the drawing-room, done up in yellow brocade, flower-filled and comfortable, and with its reminiscences of other posts in the way of signed photographs and bric-à-brac.

The chiffon scarfs arrived yesterday, having survived the temptations of the customs, the pink, blue, purple, and petunia, just as you had done them up. This is the land of scarfs. No lady is complete without one or many and I will baptize the "pink 'un" at Mr. Potter's to-morrow night at dinner. I never go anywhere Sunday evening, as after the all-day bouts in the country [286] my sofa and my books are my best friends. We are to go out to Xochimilco and the clans are now approaching to the sound of motor-horns, etc. There will be a repacking in of merrymakers and baskets when all are assembled.

June 10th.

I have just come from taking Aunt L. up to Chapultepec. The view from the castle was entrancing, the volcanoes touched with rose and all the other mountains swimming, blue and purple, in the sunset light. I stopped at the British Legation on the way back to see Mrs. Stronge, who is much better. Now I must dress to go to Mr. Potter's for dinner.

June 11th.

I wore the petunia-colored scarf last night at dinner. Mr. Potter was in great form and quite outdid the champagne in sparkle, and we quipped and quirked till a late hour. My last sight was Don Benjamin Butler giving a few steps of the jota in the hallway. Am now sending Elim and Laurita with Gabrielle up to Chapultepec Park. A beautiful, cloudless, dustless morning. Josefina, a little paler, a little thinner, and, if possible, more deft, is here concocting me a tea-gown out of a pink satin evening dress and a white lace one. Nothing can be cleaned here. There is a place calling itself Teinturerie Française et Belge—but I bade an immediate and regretless farewell to the things that returned.

June 18th.

Am waiting for my Tuesday callers in a really lovely tea-gown, constructed of the two evening dresses. Josefina may soon, however, be making robes for angels instead of mere mortals.

There has been a little political upheaval. One of our best friends, the governor of the Federal District—i.e., [287] Mexico City and suburbs—had a tilt with the Minister of Gobernación, Flores Magon, with the result that he is no longer governor. During all the troubles Mexico City has been as peaceful under Rivero's régime as Zürich, all due to his sagacity and energy, and now the usual earthly reward of virtue, somewhat Mexicanized, is his. He was a rich hacendádo before coming into the political arena, and his friendship for N. has been most useful to all.

June 19th.

One of the loveliest of morns—a true "bridal of the earth and sky," and it is the date on which, nearly fifty years ago, Maximilian, Miramon, and Mejía were led out to be shot.

History records that as the guard opened the heavy door of the prison, saying, "Ya es hora" ("The hour has come"), the three men stepped out into a world of surpassing loveliness; no cloud was in the faultless sky, no wind disturbed the shining air.

They embraced, taking a last look at the blue and lovely dome above. At the foot of the Hill of the Bells the firing-squad awaited them. They fell dead at the first volley. Maximilian had begged to be shot in the body, that his mother, in cruel suspense in far Vienna, might look again upon his face. His last words were, "Viva Mexico!" Mejía was silent. What Miramon said I know not, but their hearts were open to God.

Mr. S. and his daughter, a beautiful girl, arrived early this morning. As we are probably soon to leave Mexico, they are good enough to let us stay on in our present quarters for the remaining time, and will occupy the small apartment down-stairs. I had a great bunch of pale sweet-peas put in her room.

Going to Chapultepec this afternoon with Aunt L., also taking Miss S. and Mrs. Parraga, a Mexican friend of [288] Aunt L.'s, to be presented, after which we go to Madame Lefaivre's.

June 20th.

Administration faces were wreathed in smiles at the reception; the Orozco revolution is not only dying the usual unnatural death, but it seems likely to be interred. General Huerta knows the value of a few well-placed blows, but nothing seems to stay "put" here. Nearly every shade of Mexican has fitted himself out with one or more grievances, and underlying it all is that quite peculiar organization of Latin-American society whereby one set of opinions may be uniformly expressed in public, while the intellectual classes, in secret, hold entirely opposing ones.

A terrible downpour during the reception. From the windows of la vitrina, as the long, glass-inclosed balcony leading out of the "Salon of the Ambassadors" is called, Mexico City was a damp, dull thing, buildings and streets showing as great dark scratchings. There was no light in the sky and the hills were obscured by curtain-like, formless clouds with coppery linings.

When we got home it was still raining in torrents, and we descended in the adjacent garage. In doing so I caught my skirts, hung in air, and finally fell to the ground, my dress torn to bits and myself shaken to the same. When I looked at my hands to see if they were still hanging to my wrists, I saw that my big emerald was missing from its setting.

It was not simply raining. The sky was opening and letting the water out, and it was quite dark in the garage. About a dozen Indians and several employees stood about. I cried, "Mi esmeralda!" and we all proceeded to look. I was passing my hand over the floor near various Indian hands when suddenly I felt the smoothness of the stone. An Indian said to me, "Dios es con usted" [289] ("God is with you"). Well, it was not fated to be lost that time. I have just left it at La Perla to be well reclamped into the setting, thankful that that companion of my wanderings is still with me.

The sweet, full letter from Rankweil is received. I long to smell the sunset meadows with you.

June 23d, evening.

After a day of skimming over the valley with Aunt L., the Seegers, Mr. Butler, and Mr. de Soto.

I had long wanted to go out to Huehuetoca to see the famous tajo de Nochistongo, the great cut in the mountains, the most interesting point of the wonderful system of draining the lakes of the Valley of Mexico. It was a problem to Aztec rulers, viceroys, and presidents, finally solved, like a good many other things, in the Diaz epoch—and always bound up with the joys and sorrows of the valley. The Lake of Texcoco, the largest of the six lakes, hospitably receives the waters of the other lakes to such an extent that once it was considered to have a "leaky bottom," draining down to the Gulf of Mexico.

There were immense floodings of the city in old days, and in 1607 one so great that for several years the streets were traversed in canoes, and the saintly Archbishop of Mexico used to be poled and rowed about, distributing food to the starving.

The Huehuetoca road runs out through Azcapotzalco, once a teeming Toltec and Aztec center, now only the haunt of Indians and an infrequent archæologist. Any and every turn of the soil there reveals traces of lost races. At the next town, Tlalnepantla, though we were all feeling more in the mood for general effects than detailed inspections, we did our duty and went into the interesting old church, finding it full not only of sacred [290] relics, but of profane, in the shape of carved Indian stones and various sorts of monoliths. In the cold, ancient baptistry is a strange prehistoric cylindrical vase.

There are still traces of the earthquake of several years ago, whose rendings revealed a wealth of buried objects. Several Indians, gathered about the motor as we came out, furtively drew from their knotted shirts some objects which properly belonged to the government—obsidian knives and a few masks, like those in the museum at San Juan Teotihuacan. We bought them out, and proceeded to Cuautitlan, the old posting-town I have written you about.

Mr. de Soto says that tradition has it that here was born Juan Diego, the Indian to whom the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared. You see how interesting it is along these roads. Each step is always historic or legendary, as well as beautiful. The next village is Teoloyucan, where one branches off to go to Tepozotlan.

Since leaving the posting-town we could see the belfry of the church looking pink and lovely against especially blue and lovely hills. The foreground was of maguey and maize fields stretching away to the mountains. Hedges of nopal, graceful willows and pepper-trees, and Indian life, mysterious, yet simple, living itself out on road and field. We were held up for quite a while by a dozen burros laden with fresh, shining skins bulging with pulque. A great deal of unnecessary prodding of the unfortunate animals went on, the usual audience appearing from the hedges at the noise.

The hacienda of the former governor of the Federal District, Landa y Escandon, now in Europe, is out here. It contains most beautiful works of art, Spanish and viceregal, and many priceless Chinese and French porcelains, [291] these last presentations when various ancestors were at various French courts.[53]

We thought for a moment of asking the administrator to show us over it, but succumbed instead to the invading magic of the road and the pleasant inertia of the automobile. As you will see, it wasn't a day to improve one's mind, but rather to bathe one's soul. As we got into the mountains near the famous "cut of Nochistongo," we spoke the name of the grand old Indian now a-wandering in exile, and talked of the solemn dedication ceremonies when the engineering marvel was completed in 1900 under his auspices.

In connection with the making of the "cut" and the canals winding through and between the lakes are ancient, sad tales of forced Indian labor, drivings, exposures, and deaths; a sort of mita where each had to lend not only a hand, but often give a life. In the old days the viceroys made annual visits to Huehuetoca, lasting several days, conducted with regal splendor.

Nature seemed inconceivably gentle and beautiful there, with its vistas of translucent hills, all gradations of green and gray and blue softly rolling, meeting the eye and falling away. The volcanoes were of clearest white in the pure air, and the shining valley was a gem set within it all. We stopped by a delightful old bridge with its battered viceregal coat of arms, a relic of the ancient post-road to Zacatecas, over which a silver stream flowed into the Casa de Moneda (Mint) in Mexico City, to flow again in shining piastres across the ocean to Spain.

I suppose I will be sorry I didn't examine the "cut" a little more carefully, but the day was such a flood of soft light that details were quite swept away, so tant pis for Huehuetoca. As it was, we didn't get back to town [292] till nearly three o'clock, when we repaired to the Automobile Club where "Martinis," sandwiches and fruits, partaken of on the veranda, restored us, and we started out again to San Angel.

A perfect afternoon, no sign of rain, and anything as opaque as a house seemed unspeakably repugnant to our souls. At San Angel we wandered about in a deserted garden-like orchard. Roses, heliotrope, and lilies mingled with fig, quince, apricot, peach, apple, and pear trees, and soft crumbling pink walls inclosed them all. Beyond were more beautiful blue hills linked to those of the morning, and now swimming in the afternoon haze the volcanoes towering above in a splendor of mother-of-pearl.

These old Mexican gardens are beautiful beyond words, but I think one must feel the magic of them in the flesh—not out of it—to know the full enchantment. Later we went into the inn, once a great monastery, now transformed into a "hotel with all modern conveniences," as the prospectus says, and where, for a moment, I thought of going when we first arrived.

Some of its ancient beauty is left; old chests and ecclesiastical chairs, and long, carved refectory tables fill the corridors, and pictures of saints and priors hang on the thick walls. There is a charming patio surrounded by cloisters, where monks once walked, saying their breviaries and their beads, and where now tables are placed from which tourists renew and strengthen the flesh.

Above is a terrace bounded by a lacy, intertwining design of grayish-pink balcony. In the center of the court is an oval double-basined fountain, with a little palm planted in the middle of the top one, and water-lilies in the lower one. Masses of crimson rambler were in their last luxuriance, and shining lemon and orange trees, with fruit thick upon them, grew in the little flower-beds. There is a large, new, glass-inclosed room [293] where the proprietor, quite a character, likes to have his patrons go. A corner of the old refectory was sacrificed to do this modernizing, but we had the tea served at a table in the patio, and watched the patch of blue sky get pink and the colors of the flowers darken. When we finally turned homeward in an indigo-colored world it was to find the volcanoes like two great flaming torches, casting strange lights upon the dark-blue earth over which we sped. Nothing but night could have induced us to leave the beauty of it all for brick-and-plaster man-made dwellings.

June 27th.

Professor Mark Baldwin and Mr. Butler came for lunch—and very pleasant. The application of the American mentality to the elusive Mexican equation is always a more or less stimulating process, and one generally feels comfortably, somewhat smugly, superior in spite of the fact that one never gets beyond the X. Professor Baldwin sent me his book, The Individual and Society, made up of lectures given at the university here, and dedicated to Ezechiel Chavez, Sub-Secretary of Public Instruction. It is most interesting and I am posting it with this.

June 29th.
Peter and Paul's Day. After which our beloved friend used to leave Rome.

A sweet letter from Aunt Louise inclosing one of dear Mr. Stedman's poems, "The Undiscovered Country." I have tucked it into my mirror, where I can look at it while having my hair done. It begins:

Could we but know

The land that ends our dark, uncertain travel,

Where lie those happier hills and meadows low—

Ah, if beyond the spirit's inmost cavil,

Aught of that country could we surely know,

Who would not go?


Aunt Louise was just back from church, and the text made a sacrilegious smile overspread my face, "Look to the hills whence thy help cometh."

Trouble is what comes from the hills here. However, I will blight no illusions when I answer. She had picked a single, beautiful Carl Bruschi rose in its perfection from her rose-corner, to put upon the Sunday dinner-table, with a bit of feathery green. I can see her doing it and "rescuing seedlings from the clutch of weeds," and dusting the peach-tree, and straightening the hollyhocks, and "feeding much upon her thoughts."

With her letter came a long letter from Senator Smith, and his Titanic speech in [295] full.


Orozco and his troops flee toward the American border—A typical conversation with President Madero—Huerta's brilliant campaign in the north—The French fêtes—San Joaquin

July 4th, 4 p.m.

Home from a motor trip and luncheon with Aunt L. at the Country Club, and now getting ready for a rather inexplicable reception at Chapultepec. In the evening there is to be a big theatrical representation to celebrate the glorious Fourth.

July 5th.

Orozco[54] and his troops are fleeing to the north toward the American border. When we got up to Chapultepec yesterday we found out that the fact that it was our "Fourth" had been overlooked in the governmental rejoicings. Finally, however, the situation cleared, and there were congratulations all around, everybody free and equal, we congratulating them because of the defeat of Orozco, they congratulating us on general and special principles. Bulletins had been coming in all day about Orozco's flight from the battle-field of Bachimba, with General Huerta in full pursuit. Madero appears still untroubled, but he has grown visibly older. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown," even if it is in the clouds.

Refreshments were served at small tables on the [296] great terrace, but the strangest wind came up, and everything was blown about, table-cloths flapping, vases overturned, and an uncanny, transient darkness falling. The immensely tall man, Adolfo Basso, Intendente del Palacio—"beber Toluca ó no beber" we call him, looms high at every reception.

I was glad to see Madame de Palomo there. She is of the "other set," which appears sometimes for charity, but not for Maderista social happenings. She is the head of the Mexican Red Cross, and I have seen her in that way. She has an old house in the Colonia de San Rafael, Calle Icazbalceta, once fashionable, and some interesting old furniture and bric-à-brac. One very elaborate and beautifully carved confessional, in her family for generations, illustrates the history of St. John Nepomuk. In an artistic flight of fancy on the part of him who designed it, the head of the king is represented peeping in through a convenient aperture at the back, trying to hear what the queen confides while at confession. It's not very theological, but it's human and, from the point of view of the collector, quite unique.

Mrs. Wilson and I had rather a typical Mexican conversation with the President. It was à propos of Cuernavaca, which the Zapatista scares have always prevented me from visiting. To-day, as we stood talking with Mr. Madero, he said, "Order is now complete," and added that the Zapatistas were well in hand. We then said we were immensely relieved, as we wanted very much to motor to Cuernavaca. He assured us it was perfectly safe and wished us a pleasant journey.

I had barely got home when Carmona came over from the Foreign Office to say that the President begged the ladies of the American Embassy to postpone their [297] trip, as it would be better not to run the risks of travel on unfrequented roads just now.[55]

To-day the soft-voiced Zambo that brings me objetos antiguos appeared with several handsome old coins, and an embroidered shawl, a manta, white on pale saffron. This last is now hanging out on the little oleander terrace to be sunned and aired, and the three coins have been scrubbed. One was of him of the "Iron Horse," Carolus IV 1792 Dei gratia Hispan et Ind., Rex, showing his receding forehead, aquiline nose, and pleased, voluptuous Bourbon mouth; his ear is deeply stamped with a counter-mark.

It appears these coins are still to be found throughout the Orient; each banker through whose hands they passed would stamp his own little mark on it. The other was more ancient and bore the date 1741 with the device "Utraque Unum," showing the pillars of Hercules surmounted each by a crown, and two hemispheres in between, joined by another crown. This was Philip V.'s modest device. There was also a little medal of the Virgin of Guadalupe, so defaced (I suppose it had been worn around generations of necks) that I could scarcely see the date, which appeared to be 1710.

All this seems very simple, but any foreigner living in Mexico would know that I had had a "good" morning. How the objects came into the possession of the comerciante en objetos antiguos would be quite another story. [298]

Mexican numismatic history is as romantic as its mining history, and bound up with it. Effigies of various rulers of the nation appear and disappear with a dramatic but disconcerting rapidity. The Iturbide coins are extremely rare, but I saw one the other day, and it is on them that the eagle and the cactus first appear. On the other side, around Iturbide's bold profile with projecting jaw, is graven Augustinus I Dei Providencia, 1822. Now we have simply the eagle and the cactus, and the redoubtable word "Libertad" stamped in the Phrygian bonnet.

July 7th.

To-day we picnicked at the Casa Blanca, out beyond San Angel. It belongs to an Englishman, Mr. Morkill, now engaged in business in South America. When we got there, in spite of explicit telephonings, there was no key to be had. One person went to fetch the caretaker, who lived quién sabe where, and some one went to fetch him and so on, an endless chain. We must have been outside for nearly an hour, looking up at the loveliest and pinkest of walls, above which showed tops of palm- and fruit-trees and delicious known and unknown vines.

Finally, a very old woman and a very young boy appeared with the key to the door of that especial paradise, and we went in, with a loud sound of locking after us, and a "Pués quién sabe?" in a belated, breathless masculine voice. The garden, as all unfrequented gardens in Mexico are, was a riot of loveliness. We spent an hour wandering about its enchantment, and some one quoted that lovely poem—

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!

Rose plot,

Fringed pool,

Fern'd grot—

The veriest school of peace—


interrupted at this line by appropriate and all too ready jibes about peace in Mexico.

Within the larger garden was a sort of inner tabernacle, a sun-bathed, inclosed fruit-garden—peach and quince growing with orange and lemon and fig, and the little pathway was fringed with lilies. The house showed the unmistakable quick results of inoccupancy here; the doors sagged, the windows stuck, and it was dismantled of most of its furniture.

We got out some tables and spread our luncheon in a little mosquete and jasmine-blossoming porch, even with the ground, opening from one of the salons. Continual whiffs of perfume came from the garden, and the air was now damp with threatening rain or indescribably brilliant as the clouds passed. Mrs. Wilson brought some especially good things in the way of jellied chicken and one of the large cocoanut cakes for which the Embassy is famed. Mr. Potter's motor we called "the cantina," for obvious and refreshing reasons.

Afterward, while we waited for the rain to pass, we went to the mirador, built in a corner of the high wall of the bigger garden, overlooking the maguey-fields, which stretched away to the lovely hills, on which great, black shadows were lying between sunlit spaces. When we came down we picked armfuls of flowers, and there were some particularly beautiful trailing blackberry sprays with which we innocently decorated ourselves, but which I have discovered left indelible marks on our raiment. As we filled the motors with wet, sweet, shiny flowers and leaves, we sighed that the owners of anything so lovely should be so distant.

July 15th.

The Schuylers have gone—a week ago—and N. is at the Embassy bright and early these mornings. The ambassador is more and more pessimistic, and [300] there is a huge amount of work to be turned over every day.

The situation is heavy with responsibility for him, and the road thorny and full of the unexpected. Am now waiting for Madame Lefaivre, to go to the Red Cross.

Burnside has returned from the north, where he has been with General Huerta's army. He says Huerta conducted a really brilliant campaign against Orozco, in spite of illness among the troops, smallpox, typhus, etc., and the difficulties of communication. The amiable soldadera deputed to look after his morning coffee, with her nursing baby in her arms, asked him, with unmistakable intent, the first day, if he would have it with or without milk. Needless to record, he took it black.

July 15th.

The French fêtes are beating their full at the Tivoli Eliseo. They seem to celebrate the 14th of July from the 6th to the 20th. The Lefaivres invisible, except to their colony. For the sake of la nation amie, I put my head inside yesterday—and was met with a cloud of confetti and swarms of vendeuses. Bands were playing, and there was dancing at one end, and everywhere a lively selling of objects for the French œuvres de bienfaisance in Mexico. The celebrated Buen Tono cigarette-manufactory had outdone itself in generosity, its booth being the clou.

Last night there was a patriotic performance at the Teatro Colon. Kilometers of tricolor and a very demonstrative colony filled the huge place to overflowing.

We got there just as the Mexican national hymn was sounding, and the President and his wife, with the Vice-President, were being ushered into the great central loge, where Monsieur and Madame Lefaivre were waiting to receive them bowered in red and white and blue flowers and lights, with a great tricolor floating beneath. [301]

After the last singing of the "Marseillaise" we went in to speak to them and found the President saying to the minister: "C'est Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité que je voudrais voir dirigeant les destinées du Mexique," while a look as remote as the poles came into his eyes. Monsieur Lefaivre, for the sake of the vast French interests to be safeguarded, has always cultivated the friendliest relations with Madero—hoping against hope that the situation may develop elements of stability. Madero is obsessed by French political maxims, but without any understanding of that very practical genius which enables the doux pays de France to turn ideas into actualities. The Encyclopedists, however, are having quite a revival in "glorious gory Mexico." We came home unconvinced, yet vaguely hopeful, under a blaze of constellations set in wondrous relief against great black spaces.

July 17th.

I have just closed George Moore's Ave Atque Vale. A new book by him continues to be a delicious intellectual repast. I read it in rather a miserly manner, knowing there cannot be many more, not tearing its heart out as I so often do with books. He is nearing the inevitable departure on that last journey—and he will not return to write epigrams about it.

July 19th.

I am scribbling this in the lovely old patio of San Joaquin, out beyond the hacienda of Morales, sitting on a comfortably slanted grave—slab, on which I can just distinguish a bishop's miter and a faint tracing of the date—17 something and requiescat in pace. Delicate mosses, bits of cactus, and a tiny, vine-like, yellow flower make it a thing of beauty.

Madame Lefaivre and Elsie S. are sketching; all is peaceful, sun-flooded, with much singing of birds, and [302] the trees are dropping solid bits of gold through their dark branches. There is a fine old five-belled belfry that pierces the perfect sky; the top bell and one of the next lower pair are missing (in what vagary of Mexican history they disappeared I know not).

This was once a Carmelite monastery, and still has a wonderful garden and a celebrated peach and pear and chabacano orchard. The wall inclosing the orchard is so high that scarcely anything green grows tall enough to show above it, though the mirador has a few vines twisting about it. The wall, however, is beautiful in itself—pink, crumbling, sun-baked, with moss and flowers and bits of cactus clinging to it, and a fruity odor was wafted over to us as we passed on the broken, ditch-like road with the motor at an angle of forty-five degrees.

There is a large space, planted with live-oaks, outside the patio of the church with its lovely, broadly scalloped pink wall. Once through the carved door, one is as if in a bath of sun and beauty. Before another time-worn, carved door leading into the church stand two straight, black, immemorial cypresses. The inside wall of the patio has, here and there, an old carved coat of arms cemented into it, and colored growing things abound. The live-oaks outside bend above the scalloping of the walls, on which are ancient numbers above flat-carved symbols for the "Way of the Cross."

Elsie chose a corner inside, and Madame Lefaivre is sketching outside, so I got the guardian, who is also the administrator of the orchard and hacienda, to unlock the church. Several gilded Churrigueresque altars still remain—intricately designed, time-softened, lovely, and on the altar steps were some charming old candlesticks, five or six feet high, in the same lovely style of gilding and twisting. How they have remained there during a century of suburban vicissitudes I know not. Various [303] saints in ecstasy, San Joaquin in special, were portrayed, almost life-size, their garments floating, falling, blowing about, with the special unquiet but lovely Churrigueresque touch. Winged, open-mouthed cherubim and seraphim hold up the vaulting with its wealth of lovely, conventional motifs; throughout Mexico, in churches where everything else is gone, one finds the out-of-reach vaultings intact.

There is a school of a sort, held in what was once the seminary behind the church; and some barefooted, bareheaded, and otherwise scantily clad wrestlers with the "three R's" came out from one end of the church and passed through, followed by their teacher, a shabby, bored-looking young Mestizo of doubtful cleanliness and dubious competency.

Calle Humboldt, Later.

I left you in the patio of San Joaquin. When I went to see how the artists were progressing, I found them both looking miserable and discouraged. No "fine frenzy" to the roll of their eyes, though they were "glancing from heaven to earth." The beauty here isn't one to record on canvas, rather on memory and soul, which, having remarked to them as gently as I could, they began to clean their palettes.

We took a last, regretful look at all the pinky loveliness, the tiled dome, the silent belfry, the slender heads of the two straight, coal-black cypresses, and the inexpressibly lovely wall, wrapped ourselves about with the shining air, and bumped homewards. "Quick, thy tablets, memory."

July 20th.

We dined last night at the Ernesto Maderos' in their handsome house in the Paseo, large enough to lose the six children in. Madame M. has been in mourning [304] (something that seems to happen to women oftener in Mexico than in other places) and now is "out" again.

The official Mexicans spare no expense on the occasions when they open their houses, but it is always with ceremony, without individuality; enfin Mexicans receiving foreigners. The Riedls were there, and the Simons; I have an idea Mr. S. finds his task a big one. He rarely goes out, but this, to the Secretary of the Treasury, was strictly within his orbit. Madame Simon wore a beautiful black pailletté gown, with subtle touches of "point de Venise," recently out from Paris.

She has driven us all nearly crazy, anyway, with the ravishing croquis and échantillons Drecoll and Doeuillet have been sending her, and which lie, temptingly, among the latest French reviews and newest books on her table.

I sat by Lascurain, talking pleasantly of things not political; that ground is volcanic and no place for foreigners, even well-disposed. The new Belgian chargé, Letellier, was on my other side.

A letter to-day from Madame de la G. from Châlons-sur-Marne, where the Marquis is in command of the garrison. She will always be, to me, typical of the grandes dames de France as they have appeared throughout the centuries—those highly born, highly placed, highly cultured women with many natural gifts, whose wit and beauty are the common heritage of us all.

I bear that picture of her in her armchair, so beautifully dressed, especially in that white chiffon gown we liked so much, with a single dusky rose at her slender waist, her dark hair so perfectly coiffé, her charming welcoming smile, with its hint of suffering borne, remote from miseries, yet knowing pain. I can see the background of bookcases; near by her shining tea-table, and the little low table with its vase of flowers and bibelots, and the latest book with a paper-cutter in it, [305] or some consoling volume whose pages were cut by other generations.[56]

Photograph by Ravell

With a change of costume, change of hours of visits and dinner, she pictures to my imagination Madame de Sévigné writing to Madame de Grignan, Madame de la Fayette talking to La Rochefoucauld—all that flowering of an elegance of mind with its roots of culture, not alone in books, but in the heart. Her mind is receptive, yet so giving, her conversations so sparkling, with its fond of philosophies and politics, its richness of nuance, its elastic impersonality, yet French, though dipped in a thousand dyes and run in a thousand molds.

Her three boys go into the army, and of Marguerite she says: "Gretl est vraiment mon ange gardien, ne me quittant jamais, et me soignant, toujours gaie, toujours dévouée."

"Châlons étant à deux heures de Paris, les amis viennent facilement." She gave me news of the Paul Festetics, who had recently been there—"Fanny toujours l'esprit aussi alerte et aussi charmant"; of the De B.'s, to whom my heart goes out, "Très-courageux, mais vous pensez si c'est dur de continuer une route ainsi ravagée"; and for me "Nos chemins se Croiseront-ils jamais à nouveau? It does not look like it, hélas."

July 21st.

This evening, from the hill of Tepeyac, I watched the sun go down into a world of purple shadows rising from the mysterious plain of Anahuac. The valley had been stretched out before us like a chart, the hills in light and shadow. We could name each glistening road leading from the great city, and yet, little by little, one succumbed to the mysteriousness of it all—until the whole spectacle became an inner rather than an outer thing. [306]

No rain except for some silver clouds with strange, fugitive effects, just before sunset, that sifted a diamond-like rain for a few minutes over the face of the plain. No wind, but something like a great, cool breathing was about us.

We passed by the richly tiled Capilla del Pocito (Chapel of the Well), of which he who drinks returns, and went up the romantic old stone stairway leading to another chapel. Half-way up are the celebrated "stone sails of Guadalupe," their origin dateless, the hands that put them up unrecorded. They can be seen for miles about, and near by they have a belle patine, and mosses and bits of cactus and a flower or two grow from them. They commemorate the escape from sea perils of Mexican mariners who had prayed the Virgin of Guadalupe to bring them safely into port. When this had come about, tradition has it that, continuing to believe after they were safe in Vera Cruz, they fulfilled their vow by bringing up on their shoulders the rigging of their ship, afterward encasing it in a covering of stone.

There are hooded, shrine-like resting-places as one goes up the broad, flat steps between the beautiful, high-scalloped wall, often a Via Dolorosa, for a cemetery is on the very top behind the chapel that was built on the spot where Juan Diego gathered the flowers, suddenly springing up to be given as testimony to the unconvinced bishop.

A great wooden cross is in the little atrium, and we found an Indian family sitting about it, eating their supper, wrapped in their colored blankets, doubtless preparing to spend the night "at the foot of the cross." There was once a temple to the Aztec Ceres, "Tonantzin, our Mother," on this same spot.

In the cemetery lies buried the body of Santa Anna, he who led his troops against [307] ours.

There is a continual operative magic, some peculiar proportioning of the subjective and the objective here, with correspondences between the seen and the unseen forever making themselves felt.

The domes and spires of the city shone in the afternoon light. Where one once saw the great aqueducts, and the still more ancient canals, now rise the slender steel frames bearing the wires of the light-and-power company, charged in Necaxa, a hundred miles away, down in the Hot Country. The lakes were yellowish-silver mirrors, the eternal hills swam in their strange translucence, the great volcanoes pierced a lovely sky; all quite relatable, except just what it is that pulls your soul out of you as you look upon the deathless beauty and think of the dark, restless, passionate races whose heritage it is.

As we turned to descend the old stone way, the shining city afar was as if suddenly dipped in purple, but the sky above was of such pure and delicate tints—lemon, saffron, and pale pink—that we wondered whence the "Tyrian" purple could have come. We drove silently home in a many-colored twilight.

July 23d.

Yesterday I found a curious book, "par un citoyen de l'Amérique méridionale" ("by a citizen of South America") (vague enough not to get him into trouble), called Esquisse de la Révolution de l'Amérique Espagnole, Paris, 1817.

It is a saddening, mighty spectacle, the presentation of that immense area in the throes of revolution. A few enlightened viceroys at Mexico, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, might have saved the day. They were not ready for self-government, but for Spain the hour had sounded when she was to lose her great colonies; and Mexico, the dearest, the richest, the most accessible, the most [308] beautiful, was to enter on her century of horrors, heroisms, sacrifices—and the end is not yet.

I feel at times as if I were behind the scenes of a mighty drama. I have read so much that I know many of the répliques; have sorted some of the red threads of the century-old plot, and, if I am not behind the scenes really, I am in a sort of avant-scène, where some of what goes on behind the curtain can be surmised.

This is the second summer of books read to the pouring of tropical rains. Mr. S. has brought me several volumes of Jean Christophe—l'Aube, La Révolte—unread before and deeply relished. With all his other gifts, Romain Rolland[57] has the international mind and keeps his seat extremely well, à cheval as he is, between France and Germany. To-day I finished Le Buisson Ardent. During two strange, restless afternoons, I followed Anna's story in the darkness of the tropical downpour, an earthy freshness coming up from the flowers in the patio, and a sound of heavy water falling from rain-spout and roof.

July 27th.

A lovely morning on the roof with E., drying our hair in matchless sun, looking at the volcanoes and talking.

She said I reminded her of the art nouveau inkstand, that for my sins I won at bridge the other day, which has the hair drawn down to the feet of the figure for the pen to rest on. She looked as if she had stepped out of some lovely old Persian tile with her masses of dark hair standing out about her handsome head. There is a poet brother, whose portrait of some years ago hangs in one of the rooms, a large-eyed, straight-featured boy, with a speculative forehead and remote eyes. [309]

From what I gather, he is evidently a genius, not meant for harness, feeling the world owes him a living (which it probably does), that he may toss off a sonnet, when so impelled, or feel free to read Euripides in some choice edition bought with his last dollar, in the completest insouciance as to the date and amount of the next remittance. He used to take long, lonely, timeless walks about these hills and valleys, reappearing after hours or days, with a poem that he wouldn't show, or a thought not convenient in family life.[58] [310]


Balls at the German Legation and at Madame Simon's—Necaxa—A strange, gorge-like world of heat and light—Mexican time-tables—The French trail

August 17th.

Unwonted festivities here. For two nights running we have "tripped the light fantastic." Night before last Madame Simon gave a big ball, and last night there was one at the German Legation. The dancing world was out in full swing, bumping into a varied assortment of wall-flowers, tropical and temperate.

Handsome favors and elaborate suppers at both these bailes de confianza, and the later it got, the wilder and more spirited became the music. I gave the coup de grâce to the pink velvet Buda-Pesth court dress at von H.'s.

The Benoist d'Azy are here from Washington. It always adds to the gaiety of nations to have étrangers de distinction make their appearance. They have all the interest of events. It isn't often the capital sees two smart balls, one after the other.

A long-expected box of suits and things from Peter Robinson's for Elim has just arrived. He didn't fancy trying on, and in the struggle asked me suddenly "Who was Jesus Christ's tailor?" I was a bit taken aback. I must say I had never put those words or ideas together.

When I recovered my mental activity, I told him that Jesus' Mother made his clothes for him, whereupon [311] he answered: "These only came from London," and wouldn't lift his feet from the floor when I wanted him to try on some little trousers. He doubtless needed a spanking which he didn't get. Mama was feeling decidedly slack after two nights of dissipation at an altitude of nearly eight thousand feet. Madame Montessori says a psychological change comes over children at the age of six. I look forward to it.

Necaxa, State of Vera Cruz
August 23d.
Station of the Light and Power Company.

I have only time for a word. We arrived here at five-thirty, after a twelve-hour journey through indescribable beauty. We left the house in a clear dawn—Rieloff, the Seegers, Burnside, and myself—and all day have been winding through mountain passes, deep barrancas, with a sound of rushing waters, and great forests of pine-trees, red and white cedars, and delicate ferns almost as high, through which our little geared-locomotive would have seemed a pioneer had it not been for the sight of the delicate steel towers that support the wires of the Light and Power Company.

In the afternoon great masses of shifting light flooded broad valleys or stamped the heights with shining patches as the rain-clouds passed and repassed between brilliant bits of sunny heaven. We came as the guests of the Light and Power Company, and the manager and chief engineer, an Englishman, Mr. Cooper, met us and brought us to the club-house, very comfortable, according to Anglo-Saxon ideas, with easy-chairs, verandas, etc. After a bountiful repast, according to the same ideas, we walked about the little plateau, in an enchantment of changing lights, till night suddenly fell and everything was blotted out, and we bethought ourselves that beata solitudine [312] was the only fitting finale to it all. We have planned a full morrow, which is near, so good night.

Sunday, 25th.

I did not write yesterday. In the morning Mr. Cooper took us down to the dynamos, reached by a cog-railway, through a great, dark tunnel-like incline with a bright speck of light at the far end. We issued out of the cool dimness to find ourselves in a strange gorge-like world of heat and light, with a great mass of falling water, the distant edge of the waterfall outlined against a high, shining heaven; against it, again, thousands of small, brilliant blue butterflies, and on all sides the most gorgeous plants and trees. There was an effect of some circle of Paradise, and something mysterious and magic in the very practicality of it all, when one thinks that these falls, nearly six hundred feet high—and a hundred kilometers from Mexico City—supply the light and motor power of the town.

Doctor Pearson is the genius who controls it all, and his name is breathed with awe at Necaxa.[59] As we stood looking up at the falling waters, bright birds and heavy scents about us, "the white man is lord and king of it all," I kept saying to myself.

To-day has been still fuller. In the afternoon we visited the great dam that is just being finished to provide an immense storage reservoir against the dry season. Water is as precious as gold in Mexico, and in many places scarcer.

Some one remarked that there seemed to be little or no mañana about it, and Mr. C. told the story of one of his first experiences in Mexico, when he was still under the spell of the time-table. [313]

He was waiting at a station where the only passenger-train was scheduled to pass every day at 9 A.M. He arrived at the station a few minutes before nine, to see the train just disappearing. On complaining to the jefe de estación about this running ahead of time, he received the bland response that it was yesterday's train that had just passed out and there was every reason to suppose that the train of to-day would be delayed, perhaps as long! He cooled his heels till the next dawn. But Necaxa wasn't built at a cost of a hundred million pesos on that principle, he added.

We had started out after breakfast to explore the "French trail"—a son of Gaul was once owner of Necaxa—plunging perpendicularly over the side of the little plateau, to find ourselves on the most romantic of footpaths, formerly the only road through the gorgeous wilderness.

It got hotter and hotter as we descended, and though Rieloff kept insisting that, technically, we were not yet in Tierra Caliente, all its abundancies seemed to surround us: giant ferns, ebony and rosewood trees, lovely orchids hanging from high branches, convolvuli of all colors; and under our feet mosses, by the yard, of rare and lovely fabric, each patch holding a world of tiny forms and tints. I started to follow one bit of morning-glory vine, but was obliged to give it up. I could nor bear to break it, and it would have led me, like an endless thread, through a labyrinth of sarsaparilla, myrtle, and fern.

The brightest of birds and butterflies were flying about—the sort of things one finds under glass in northern museums—and a huge, scarlet flower of the hibiscus type was everywhere splashed over the green.

Here and there an Indian appeared from quién sabe where. It was all his and yet not his. [314]

We came up in the cool dimness of the cog-railway, and after cold douches and luncheon, enlivened with entomological discussions (that lovely wilderness is alive with invisible biting specimens), we went with Mr. Cooper to the reservoir.

We have spent the evening mostly meeting the officials of the company and playing bridge. (!) Though it was the least noblesse oblige allowed, it seemed a lot after the long, full day—on paie ses plaisirs....

However, they were all so nice and so pleased to see people from the outside world that, once in our "bridge stride," it wasn't so hard. Rieloff, who hates cards, after a while went to the piano, bursting into "Du meiner Seele schönster Traum"—following it up with the "Moonlight Sonata"; so, in the end, we found ourselves sitting in a dimly-lighted room, with Beethoven floating out on the soft Indian night—and all was well.

I am dead with sleep, and early to-morrow we depart.

42 Calle Humboldt,
August 26th, late evening.

We were awakened at 5.30 in a dawn of such exceeding beauty that, as I stepped out into it, I was tempted to fall upon my knees rather than hurry to our little train. On one side were the hills, so veiled in splendors of filmy pearls and blues and pinks that their forms could only be imagined; on the other was an abyss of gold and rose and sapphire into which our train was to plunge.

All day long we went from glory to glory; but I got home to find that something human and dreadful had happened in my absence: Little Emma C., playing over the roof with Laurita and Elim, escaped for one unexplained second from Gabrielle—fell from it to the [315] stone patio—her fall, for an instant, broken by a balcony railing.

I hurried to her mother's. The child is alive, but dreadfully injured, and, it is feared, for life. Nature was too beautiful at Necaxa not to exact some sort of toll from those admitted to it. I am dreadfully upset. [316]


A luncheon for Gustavo Madero—Celebrating the Grito at the Palace—The President's brother explains his philosophy—Hacienda of San Cristobal—A typical Mexican Sunday dinner

September 3d.

The funcion I gave yesterday went off with a good deal of snap. Everybody in town was there, and the house filled to bursting. Elsie S. and I brewed the classic Grosvenor punch ourselves and arranged masses of flowers everywhere. Probably it will be the last gathering I shall have, sic transit, etc.

Madame Madero came with her two sisters-in-law. She seems more worn, thinner, and older; a year heavy with anxieties has passed over her since I first saw her in the flush of hope and triumph at the German Legation.

The Porfiristas—all the old régime—hold the United States responsible for Madero's success, because of our permitting him to organize and finance himself on our border, and there are others who think, rather paradoxically, that it is due to us that he has not had more success.

As for the Maderistas, they don't understand anything, feel no obligation to us, and wonder why we don't do more. The active anti-Maderistas feel very bitter that in any revolt aimed against Madero they can't "use" the border. Nobody has any political love for us. We loom up as uncertain in our mode of action, but powerful as arbiters of destinies.

I have not been watching as carefully as I might the [317] great, threefold presidential race at home. It's a consoling thought that any one of them will make a good President and under any one of them the United States will pursue its vast and brilliant destiny. Methinks, however, as regards two of the candidates, that, after the White House, no other place can ever really seem like home.

September 4th.

Luncheon here to-day for the Gustavo Maderos. He came in with rather more energy and magnetism than usual, and kept things lively. He produced from his pocket and presented to the various assembled guests some small, gilded statues of St. Anthony, in little glass, bottle-like reliquaries. He said San Antonio was his patron saint, and quite frankly stated that he was superstitious.

His wit is of the ready kind—readiness in all things is doubtless his greatest quality. He seems not only excited by his prosperity and prominence, but intoxicated by it all. There is no gainsaying the fact that he does give a magnetic hint of possibilities by that abounding energy and life, overflowing and communicative, if he only wouldn't give the effect of taking everything in sight for himself or his friends. He is continually enveloped in clouds of incense by the expectant who form his circle.

There are questions, from time to time, of the seven hundred thousand pesos he got from the treasury for the expenses of the revolution, but, to do him justice, it appears there are national, as well as family reasons which make it inexpedient for him to fully explain.

As he was smoking his cigar in the library after lunch he said to me, with an intellectual flash: "Señora, we Latin-Americans think of everything you think of, but we don't put our thoughts into action. I am different. [318] When I decide on something I act immediately, which is why I ought to succeed."

I thought there was a whole world in that remark. One of the difficulties here is the turning of their very brilliant ideas into action at the psychological moment. Madame Gustavo M. is handsome in a rather more artificial style than the other dynastic consorts. She has done something to her hair. But all the Madero women have qualities of good looks, freshness, and amiability.

As they said good-by, standing on the veranda, the perfect square of blue heaven above us, I thought how typical Gustavo Madero was of Latin-America in many of its aspects, and that he was gifted with some qualities not often found here. He is above medium height, with reddish-brown hair, and inclines to the flashy in dress and gesture—the type of the clever rasta. He is known as ojo parado, but after lunching with him on my right in that sun-flooded dining-room I couldn't tell which was the glass eye and which the mortal orb. They were both of an astounding brilliancy.

September 11th.

The War Department orders two regiments of regulars to the Mexican border to reinforce the soldiers on duty, but they don't like it down here. The Intransigente, living up to its name, had an editorial which rather took our breath away, to the effect that nothing can be done while the American fist is threatening Mexico.

It speaks in the name of every Indo-Spanish nation, decrying the smiles of ambassadors and the hypocrisy of official notes, and saying that our affections, at the best, can only be diplomatic, that we can have treaties for the carrying on of commerce, etc.,—that anything where the spirit of the two peoples does not touch can [319] be provided for. But "our soul is against their soul, their cupidity against our pride; our faith is the Latin faith, the faith of the Scipios and the Guzmans; theirs is the fides punica of the Maine and the Panama Canal!"

Now that what all really feel has been said, perhaps the air will clear for a day. I had some time since concluded, with Thomas Jefferson, that "the press is a fountain of lies," but this was for once the crystal truth. The collègues were quite excited about it, and I have no doubt the statement was sent in full to their various foreign offices as indicative of the underlying sentiments.

Mr. Stronge, who is most conciliatory, and a natural uniter of factions, somewhat belying his Irish blood (when I asked him, "Irish diplomacy, what is it?" he didn't know the simple answer, "See a head, punch it"), considers this only a passing flare-up. But quién sabe, quién sabe?

September 16th.

We went, last night, to the palace to celebrate the Grito, and again I saw those tens of thousands of upturned faces, as we stood upon the balcony overlooking the Zócalo.

I was taken in to supper—the usual ceremonious, standing affair—by the Minister of War. He showed me a telegram confirming the capture of Orozco, who was not captured at all. They are very previous about accepting congratulations concerning good news, whether true or false. The President was receiving felicitations all the evening, and the Minister of War said, "We will of course shoot him immediately if Los Estados Unidos will extradite him." He was supposedly to be taken on American soil. This morning we saw there had been a big defeat of the Federal troops; El Tigre mine taken, etc.

Prince Auersperg was at the palace, too. He was trying [320] to interest the Mexicans in a patent cartridge-belt, just the sort of toy they all naturally love. I referred him to the Minister of War, and turned to the "green isle of Cuba" on my other hand.

Afterward, as I watched the vast concourse, I felt a serrement de cœur. A something came out of the crowd—a quality of uncertainty, destructiveness, force, suffering, heroism, irresponsibility, persistence. The words of Holy Saturday recurred to me, "Popule meus, quod fecisti tu?" What have you done,—what will you always do?

There is a something so irresistible and strong in life here. They are simply ground out, these generations, renewing themselves with terrible ease. The begetting, the mother-pain, the life pilgrimage, the death-pains—there is such an abundance of it all, but though just as tragic and mysterious, not as unlovely as in the slums of great cities.

I am to press on to other things. What can one do, save leave it to God? But I felt unspeakably sad as I turned back into the great sala, where I saw the pale, illumined face of the priest Hidalgo looking down upon it all from its heavy gold frame. I stood by Mr. Lefaivre, as we were waiting for the motor, and he said, "Il [Madero] veut gouverner avec des vivas." It is the situation rather in a nutshell.

I am sitting out here in the park, with only this scrap of paper, which is so crisscrossed that you won't be able to read it. But, oh! this heavenly, washed morning—this freshness of light filtering through the trees! Elsie and Elim are coming in sight, making such a charming picture across the green spaces with the glinting sunlight—a magic world.

My "day" this afternoon, and then dinner at the Embassy. The Schuylers return shortly. I have told [321] Gabrielle to put out the white satin dress. Its days are numbered, like mine.

September 17th.

Last night a great crowd at the station to say good-by to Señor Rivero, former governor of the Federal District. He has now been sent as minister to Buenos Aires, and goes via Spain—a rather zigzag route; neither he nor his wife nor any of the six children nor accompanying servants were ever out of Mexico before.

Again in the park; shining, fresh, the band playing, the children running over the grass with their butterfly-nets; but I must go home, as I am having people for lunch.

September 18th.

Some one is playing the "Liebestod"; it floats in through the open windows. It is now nine o'clock; my thoughts are turning from this strange and gorgeous Indian plateau to other climes—to things my spirit is familiar with. Madame Lefaivre is pressing me to go with her on the Espagne. We would like to make the voyage together.

Played bridge this afternoon at her Legation with Auersperg and De Soto. Mr. Lefaivre and Elsie S. immersed in chess. It was raining the proverbial "cats and dogs."

It is very pleasant seeing Auersperg—some one with all those traditions, and yet who has been through the American mill. A German-speaking lunch yesterday—Von H., Auersperg, Riedl, Rieloff. Auersperg regaled us with a description of his first and only eating of an iguana, a sort of cross between a lizard in looks and a pig in taste, at some hacienda near Cordoba. He was screechingly funny and sang:

"Nur die Jugend giebt uns Schwung,

Nur die Liebe macht uns jung." [322]

A far-off look replaced the twinkle at any reference to Vienna. He is short and stout, but the God of wit lives within, looking out of his brown eye, smiling about his wide mouth, and he carries with him an atmosphere of deep kindliness at all times. He departed from Vienna in his earliest youth, came to New York, studied medicine, got his diploma "all by himself" which shows the pluck and ability which may be concealed under the cover of the "first society" and "protection." Baroness R. left last week.

I see that Demidoff has been appointed minister to Greece, where he will find a Russian queen. Athens is fortunate to have him.

Last night we had supper at the Gambrinus restaurant with the Gustavo Maderos, the Darrs, and Colonel Eduardo Hay, this last a figure of the Madero revolution.

The place started out by being a German affair, but no matter what nationality opens a hotel or restaurant here, it ends by being Mexican. Gustavo Madero repeated his famous remark that of a family of clever men the only fool among them was chosen for President. He has a sense of humor that does not care much who or what it demolishes, and a sort of prevision about a joke.

He incidentally spoke of El Cocodrilo; when I asked who the individual might be, they told me it was Diaz! How terrible is the stuff of dreams when it is spilt over a whole nation! It sometimes seems as if the entire government had eaten marihuana.[60] Gustavo Madero was elected Deputy in the last July elections, and has the majority in the House where he "wants" them—under his thumb.

He was amusing, but cynical (as he well may be), about the cry of "free land," saying that it would engulf, in [323] the fulfilment of its high purpose, any man in any party starting out under its banner. "And the people won't get the land," he added; "they never do, anywhere. It isn't only in Mexico, as foreigners seem to believe."

We caused a cloud to come over his face when we asked if he were soon starting for Japan. He has been delegated to thank the Mikado for participation in the Diaz centenary celebration of 1910. You see how fast Mexican events move, and how infinitely unrelated to one another they sometimes are! He said, with a rather sharp look in his eye, that Japan was muy lójos (very far), and it certainly is far from these Mexican political fields, apparently white for the harvest.[61]

September 21st.

Recently a band of Mexican regulars made the journey from El Paso, via the United States, to some point in Sonora. Several of the more up-to-date papers at home are worrying for fear, unless our Monroe Doctrine be more extensive and comfortable, the "house guests" won't stay. There is one consoling aspect to the Zapatista outrages, as far as Madero is concerned. They always relate to his own people, and so can be dismissed. But the outrages in the north are not so easily disposed of where American and Mexican meum and tuum is involved.

A letter from —, dreading life, fearing death. His is a ravaged existence and "pain's furnace heat within him quivers." I sent him the inclosed verses, which came to me in the night. It is the simplicity of death, after all, that is its wonder. [324]

To ———

Why should I fear to die?

When all I love do tread

Among the quickened dead?

If they, then why not I?

If their wills have reposed

From acts the sense hath known,

Why then myself alone

Affright and uncomposed?

Shall I not rather deem

If they give back no groan,

They lie not there alone,

In some cold, heavy dream?

But have returned home,

As one at eventide

By his swept fireside

Sitteth, but not alone.

So steadfast are the laws

That bind us each to each,

They scarcely give us pause

To weep that which they teach.

Sunday evening.

A long day. N. is at the Embassy; the house is quiet, except for water still dripping heavily from the roof. My Mexican sands are slipping, and this morning my eyes looked their last on the so-familiar beauty of the plateau. Early Mr. de S. and Mr. S. and myself started out from the city, down the shining Avenida San Francisco, through the Zócalo, past the palace, through the Calle de la Moneda, where the French troops entered in 1863, out past the San Lázaro station, on to what was once the ancient Aztec causeway.

There we met three fishermen, clad only in small breech-clouts, with long poles over their shoulders, on [325] each end of which were small nets full of little fish. They were moving along silently, swiftly, the sun glistening on their wet bodies, just as from the night of time dark men have moved over that causeway.

We passed the sun-baked Peñon Viejo, with its clump of trees, its bits of cactus growing on its grassy sides, and the old Church of Santa Marta on a farther hill. On one side the road is bounded by the white tequesquite shores of Texcoco, with little piles of soda gathered up at intervals. On the other are the green, sweet-water shores of Lake Chalco, and the little lake of San Martu, so near the Texcoco lake that there is just room between for the railway and the motor road. At Los Reyes, about eighteen kilometers out of town, we branched off to Texcoco over a highway running through maize-planted fields, under the great cypresses and eucalyptus-trees of the Hacienda de Chapingo, along more corn-fields, till we bumped into Texcoco.

The usual Sunday market was in full blast around the portales of the Plaza, and there was a coming and going in the old church as I stepped in for a moment. Here Cortés lay by his mother and his daughter for over one hundred and fifty years. The little near-by chapel, with its antique baptismal font, was built by the Conqueror himself, and shows how limited were the means he had at his command when bivouacking in the "Athens of Mexico." As I bid farewell to these scenes of his romantic deeds and the long-time resting-place of his venturesome heart, I bethought me of his watchword:

Por el rey infinitas tierras

Y por Dios infinitas almas.

We went on toward the beautiful little village of Magdalena, entered through some wonderful plantings [326] of organos cactus, and at the entrance was the little pink-and-blue pulque-shop, with its motto, so true of all things earthly, "Paso á paso se va llegando."[62]

The sun shone through the cypress and eucalyptus in the atrium of the lovely old church, and Indians, in clean, white clothes were going to Mass. There was an assortment of wide, flounced petticoats, quite striking in these days of tight skirts. All was as I had first seen it, except that some feet would never tread these paths again, while others were beginning to toddle about, and nature had blossomed and reblossomed, and I myself was to pass. That was all.

As we went on we seemed, for a while, to lose the volcanoes, but higher up on the great ridge they showed themselves again in all their splendor and the air got quite cold, communicating a sensation of excessive lightness and purity. The hills around are bare of vegetation.

Mr. de S. said that the first conquerors wanted to make the beautiful plateau resemble in all things the Castilian soil, which in so many places is arid and treeless. However that may be, every authority the country has ever had has taken literally "a whack" at the trees, till these hills are bare and dry. Great stony, waterless gorges separate the immense stretches of maguey—endless, symmetrically planted fields, stretching to barren hills, from which the French, during their occupation, cut the last timber.

There is a feudal aspect to the old, high, wall-inclosed haciendas, with their battlements and turret-holes, always the belfry of a chapel showing above. Everything that is needed for the life of the Indian—which isn't much—is contained within their walls, together with the much more costly and complicated [327] machinery of the pulque industry. "Pulque fino de Apam" is inscribed on each little blue-and-pink cantina. The view, as we turned back, was enchanting, showing us Mexico as it appeared to the conquerors when Cortés first looked upon it and called it "La más hermosa cosa del mundo" ("The most beautiful thing in the world"). Beyond—far beyond the enchanting hills to the east, is the drop into the land of coffee and pineapple and banana and a thousand heavy scents unknown to this thin air.

Gorgeous but ominous masses of clouds began to roll up on the wide horizon, and shortly afterward over the shining green plain moved a misty wall of fast-approaching rain, and there were deafening peals of thunder, with great white flashes of lightning. In a moment, it seemed, even before the chauffeur could button down the curtains, we were deluged, and the road was a rush of gray water, with a pelting of hail on the motor-top. Some Indians, in the long, thatch-like capes of grass that they wear as raincoats, passed us—the water dripping from the bamboos on to their bare feet.

Then began a slipping and skidding down the hill and a search for the nearest shelter. The view toward the great Apam plain was dark and splendid, with here and there a heavy bar of light falling on the fields of maguey. At last we found ourselves within sight of the rather sizable village of Calpulalpam, and decided to ask shelter at the San Cristobal hacienda known to Mr. de S., slipping down the hill in a second cloudburst that made the auto feel like a fly in a millrace.

In inconceivable mud, not even an Indian in sight, we went in through the great gate in the feudal-like wall, with a church of baroque design built into it, where we found ourselves in a roughly paved court with an old fountain. The gate was fortunately near [328] the entrance to the dwelling of the administrador, a Spaniard, as the administradores nearly always are.

He welcomed us warmly into la casa de ustedes, appearing with El Pais in his hand. He pressed us to stay for the comida. We delicately answered that we had sandwiches, and only wanted shelter, but we allowed ourselves to be persuaded. His once-handsome wife shortly appeared, dressed in a white sack and a blue rebozo, accompanied by several boys and a really beautiful girl of about eighteen, and we all went into the long, low-ceilinged dining-room. The administrador and his spouse sat cozily side by side, the children near them, and we three at the other end, together with a friend of theirs—some local functionary. The room was dusky, the windows curtained outside by sheets of water, but the table was bountifully spread with such a typical repast of well-to-do Mexicans of that class that you will be interested in the menu.

We began with a sopa de frijoles,[63] followed by plates of hot tortillas, and a big dish of rice decorated with fried eggs, slices of fried bananas, and bacon. Mole de guajolote[64] was the pièce de résistance. I inclose the receipt for it, which Madame Lefaivre sent me the [329] other day. Taking it from the philosophic point of view, it is the image of their politics; melé, melo, mole, and the result very indigestible.

Pulque was served in lovely old engraved glass-jars, and was very liberally poured out to us in only slightly smaller glasses. It was the far-famed Pulque fino de Apam, but seeing that we did no more than politely sip in spite of all the urging (if one could lose one's sense of smell, one could go ahead), the administrador disappeared, and came back with a dusty bottle of Xeres of some old mark.

There were various sweets on the table: cajetas de Celaya,[65] celebrated all over Mexico, guava jelly, and a sweet looking somewhat like it, called membrillate, made of quince-juice. The little local functionary seemed somewhat annoyed to find us there. I suppose he looked on that Sunday dinner as his special appearance, and strange people had come in and monopolized the stage. His contribution to the conversation was the complaint that when Americans come to Mexico they continue to speak English. I pointed out that most of us would give half our kingdom to possess in return la lengua castellana, and that we did not all use it all the time because we couldn't. At this point Mr. S. humbly said he was speaking what he thought was Spanish, and he answered, "You are an exception," but he continued a somewhat muffled conversation with Mr. de Soto.

The more I looked at the daughter the more I saw she was of an extraordinary loveliness; not Spanish, not Indian, but some third thing—was it Arab?—showing distinctly through these two. She looked at us as if we kept the keys of the gate of heaven, i.e., escape from the hacienda. The only door open to her, however, is marriage, [330] and that will lead to a stone wall, as far as horizon is concerned.

She said she longed to see Mexico City, if only once, and asked me about the tight skirts—hers were long and flowing. Enfin, she is ready for life, but the functionary seemed to have a proprietary eye on her.

They were all as nice and pleasant as possible, and so hospitable. After lunch we made the rounds of the hacienda buildings. The family to whom the vast estate belongs must have been absent not only one, but two generations—from the look of the rooms. It was the quintessence of "absentee landlordship."

We went through what seemed acres of corridors and half-dismantled rooms, with an occasional piece of good furniture or an old, faded brocade curtain. The library had rows upon rows of yellowing books and countless volumes of accounts of bygone administradores of the estate, the same thing that one finds piled up in every bookshop in Mexico City. In the days before it was easy to get away, some one, however, had loved the classics, for one case was full of richly bound Latin books.

There were numberless fascinating little courtyards. One had a cypress-tree pressed against an oval, barred window; another, only half-inclosed, had a fig-tree growing higher than the top, and out beyond was the great Apam plain, light and cloud rapidly passing over the green, maguey-planted stretches. There was something sad and lovely about it all, and Guadalupe seemed a sort of "Mariana in the moated grange." There were vast granaries, too; wheat growing easily at this altitude, in addition to the pulque.

We went at last into the little chapel where there were some old, carved prie-Dieu, covered with faded brocade, and the altar was a charming example of [331] Churrigueresque, with small, gilded saints in elaborately carved and gilded niches, surrounding a large, central figure of Saint Christopher. It was all, somehow, melancholy-inducing, and made us remember that the "whole round world is but a sepulchre," as Nezahualcoyotl put it.

We took a photograph of Guadalupe, standing on a little outer stairway leading to the entresol, where the family sleep and the girl dreams her dreams. I was only sorry some Prince Charming had not been with us. She had a distinctly yearning expression as we drove away into the great world; there was, probably, far back, some venturesome blood, but she will doubtless get the functionary.

September 29th.

Last night, one of Von Hintze's big dinners. He has been such a good friend from the first, and we have been a part of all his dinners, which have been many. Paso á paso se va llegando, and this is likely to be the last. I felt as if I were back in Vienna, as Auersperg sat on one side of me and Riedl took me out. A handsome Captain Bazaine was also there. That name found in Mexico awakens historical thoughts, and now that I am to leave it all, perhaps forever, the least tap on memory and a thousand things spring into consciousness.

Mrs. Stronge presided; Hohler was there, the Hugo Scherers, Mr. Carlos de Landa, Mr. Hewitt, the Von Hillers, and we played bridge till late. Conditions are going from bad to worse here, and I feel an increasing sadness at leaving all this touching, appealing beauty of Mexico to the powers of darkness, or if not of darkness, of such uncertainty that evil only can come.

The "Apostle" has become the mono de Coahuila. The favor of republics is more short-lived than that of princes. How true a word La Rochefoucauld spoke when [332] he said, "On loue et on blâme la plupart des gens parce que c'est la mode de les louer ou de les blâmer."

Gustavo, ojo parado, would perhaps like to be President, and feels himself superior in intelligence and will to his brother, who is, as a fact, decidedly under his dominion.

If "Panchito" did not feel that he is upheld by the world of spirits, and I should add by a passionate, resolute consort, he might abdicate; everything here is possible except peace, and it is still "up" to the heavens to perform miracles and so relieve the Mexicans themselves of the tedium of installing a stable government. [333]


Good-by to Mexico, and a special farewell to Madame Madero—Vera Cruz—Mexico in perspective

October 1st.

We take the Mexico of the Ward Line on the 10th. So sorry not to be going with Madame Lefaivre straight to France, but we think it will be well to wrap the Stars and Stripes about us for a space.

This is only a word. I sit among open boxes in what will never again be my home, "things I have known and loved awhile." Through it runs my Mexican étape, my "rosary of the road."

October 3d.

Madame Lefaivre and I have each received diplomas and testimonials from the Red Cross, and a very polite note from Madame de Palomo. It was a curious and salutary experience in things human.

The ambassador sent N. a really beautiful letter of appreciation. He has a quite perfect epistolary turn—finished off by a very chic signature, and has been all that a chief could be during the long, strange Mexican months, while Mrs. Wilson has been the kindest, most considerate of friends.

October 5th.

This morning I went up to Chapultepec to say good-by to Madame Madero. As I drove up the winding way in the white morning the flowers were shining softly along the embankments, the trees were feathery, unsubstantial, the birds singing "like to burst their little [334] throats." It might have been the road to Paradise instead of to the abode of care.

I went in through the great iron gate, the guard saluting, across the flat, stone terrace where some cadets were at drill, and got out at the glass doors leading up to the big stairway. The President was standing there as I drove up, his auto waiting to take him to the palace to a Cabinet meeting. I thought he looked slightly—very slightly—troubled, though I had a feeling that his head was still in the morning clouds of the dazzling day. He wished me a bon voyage and prompt retour and drove away. Our personal relations with them both have always been most friendly.[66]

I imagine there has been little or no change in his psychology along the lines of practical statecraft. His true habitat is the world of fancy, where he feels himself protected and led on by benign powers as definitely as was Tobias by the angel. A state of mind like that can be very compelling, and he may witness what the unkind say is his pet ambition—his own apotheosis.

The dim progression of Mexican events seems to have left his spirits untouched, though his fleshly being must be a mass of black-and-blue spots from the hard facts he bumps into. "One man with a dream at pleasure," but I felt like leaving him a pocket edition of Le Prince.

I thought Madame Madero showed the strain of that climb from obscurity and prison up the via triumphalis to the presidential peaks. The flood of morning light, as we sat on the terrace, did not spare her worn and anxious face. I have an idea that she is very practical, but it is not her practicality, but her husband's dreams, [335] that brought them to Chapultepec. It's a situation to discourage common sense.

She was, as always, courteous and friendly, but a puzzled look was on her face, and I felt that there were questions that she would have liked to put to me, that the circumstances forbade. We spoke of the work she is just now especially interested in, for the amelioration of the Mexican woman's lot—the organizing of the lace and embroidery industry, à la Queen Elena, in Italy, several years ago. There is a really lovely product here, the drawn linen work—deshilados, it is called—introduced by the Spaniards and practised through generations in cloisters and religious schools.

She told me that in Puerto Rico one hundred thousand women had been organized, and she wanted to do the same here, asking me if I could not interest people in New York in the industry.

I felt how frail her body, but how determined her will as we embraced in the dazzling morning. About us was the perfume of the rare and lovely shrubs of the patio, the splash of the fountain, the singing of birds, the lustrous hills, the shining volcanoes; that crystal air enfolded us, closer than human touch, but beneath us was the restless city and the shifting will of the Mexican people.

On board the Mexico in Vera Cruz Harbor.
October 10th.

We got down last night over the International; so many friendly faces at the station—une belle gare—reminding me of the unforgetable going away from Copenhagen. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Chef du Protocole, nearly all the colleagues, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, Aunt Laura, and many American friends were there. [336]

The train departed at last without the slightest warning, but, the hour being at hand, we were standing near the steps, and as it quite slyly began to move out I was pushed into it by friendly hands with my load of flowers. Various other passengers had only time to scramble into the baggage and rear cars; and so, without any sound except those of friendly adieux, we slipped out of the station into the starlit valley, toward the hills that hold the splendors of this Indian world.

I had a feeling as of some one who leaves treasure behind, and the thought that my eyes will probably never again rest on the beauty of Mexico gives me a clutching at the heart. "Heureux ceux qui n'ont pas vu la fumée de la fête de l'étranger et qui ne se sont assis qu'aux festins de leurs pères."

It is seventeen months since we landed, but changing governments have not changed Mexico.

On arriving, at 7.30, we repaired to the Arcades of the Hotel Diligencias of somewhat branded reputation, in one of the little rickety cabs. If its back flap is loose, you have a lovely breeze. If not, you feel as if you were in a "hot country" not of earth.

I asked for tea, but when it was poured out I decided 'twere better to do in Vera Cruz as the Veracruzanos do, and ordered, as a farewell tribute, "chocolate Mexicano," which, though it brought my own temperature up to the boiling-point, was very good.

The dissolving sensation is not unpleasant after having one's nerves screwed up to the last turn by all those "high" months. Something thick and stiff, in very small cups, being served on an adjacent table to a couple of indigènes, was "chocolate español."

Afterward I went across the palm-planted Plaza, that I had only seen in the dim light of my arrival, [337] to the old cathedral—wind-swept, sun-enveloped, rain-deluged, the patine of centuries making it lovely beyond description, with its flying buttresses and quaint gargoyles, and its pink belfry, in which swing old, green-bronze bells.

Inside, the modern Veracruzanos have let themselves "go" as regards art. Cheap stained-glass windows, "made in Germany," and realistic portrayals of saints in agony, one more appalling than the other, encumber the chapels, and, I hate to record it, only paper and tinsel flowers were on the altars. But I turned my thoughts to One who walked upon the waters, and prayed for a safe voyage.

They tell me there are fish as beautiful as flowers to be seen in the market, but instead of continuing the investigation of Vera Cruz in the garish light of its October day we went back to the ship. On our way we met an Oxford friend of N.'s, a young Englishman, perfectly turned out in spotless white, who might have been called suddenly before the viceroy (I find myself getting a little wild) without the slightest change in his raiment. He hadn't spoken with one of "his kind" for weeks, and was not expecting any one. England's true conquest of the world, it seems to me, identity, habits, customs, unchanged by that most potent of all alchemies—the tropics.

The German and Russian ministers take the Mexico as far as Progreso, whence they depart on some sort of hunting expedition, and promise aigrettes and similar vanities. We have all been sitting on the breezy side of the boat, sipping lemonade, talking of Mexico in perspective and "letting him who will be wise." Vera Cruz is a memory of color, green and pink and white, merciless sun, refreshing breeze, and the Veracruzanos, of all shades and origins, coming and going, carrying on [338] their heads the abundances of earth and sea. I post this in Havana.

October 12th.

Last night, in the dim prow, some Indians were chanting in mournful, wailing voices, a half-sensuous, half-imploring air of sad peoples. As it floated toward me in the soft, thick darkness it possessed me with its melancholy—but I must trim my lamp for other nights.



[1] Killed during the battle of the Somme, 1916.

[2] The Casa de Alvarado was once the home of the American consul-general, Mr. Parsons, of regretted and appreciated memory, who was killed stepping out of a street-car in Mexico City. Mr. Laughton subsequently was murdered while at his mining-camp. Of course this has nothing to do with the house, but its history, nevertheless, is bound up with such decrees of fate.

[3] I had three glimpses of the "King in Exile." First in Rome, the Easter Sunday of 1913, after the Madero tragedy. As I went across the Piazza Barberini I saw flying from the middle window of the piano nobile of the Hotel Bristol, the Mexican colors, floating there by what strange chance, the eagle holding in its claws the antique serpent against the green, white, and red. As I went up the stairway there were numberless and unmistakable Mexicans on the landings, and several priests were waiting in the antechamber.

Doña Carmen came in almost immediately with the "grand air" I had heard about, handsome and composed, a veritable queen in exile. She was dressed with extreme elegance and simplicity, in a perfectly plain, dark-blue gown; around her throat was a pearl necklace. After the greetings she seated me on the gaudy, gold-and-blue sofa, and took her place beside me. Once or twice her eyes filled as we spoke of Mexico, but mostly there was a remote look in them.

When Don Porfirio entered the room I knew him for a leader of men. Anno Domini had weakened his will, perhaps, but had not bowed his proud figure nor dulled the piercing look in his eye, which I remember as hazel with a very large, light iris, the pupil dark and fiery. We could not but speak of the Madero tragedy, Don Porfirio talking in Spanish, I in French. I found myself slightly trembling. He repeated several times, "I foresaw it all—my method was the only one," and once he added, "How shall one judge men other than by results?" I saw in his eye that same remoteness which I think an observer would have found in mine also; for instead of the gaudy hotel room I saw Chapultepec high up, swung in a strange transparency and Don Porfirio's destiny blocked out against it.

In Paris, that same summer of 1913, at the Hotel Astoria, I witnessed another étape of the painful, unfit Odyssey from hotel to hotel. The antechamber was filled with their luggage, plastered with endless hotel tabs. Don Porfirio's mien was not quite so majestic, his heart was more broken, his hope less, his years seemed heavier, and they were uncertain where next to turn their steps, to San Sebastian or to some "cure" in Switzerland.

On my way back to Mexico on the Espagne, September, 1913, I was sitting idly watching the Spanish shores off Santander. There were some Syrians on board suspected of quién sabe what disease, and we were not allowed to go ashore to visit the old town. About four o'clock a small launch was seen approaching. In it were Don Porfirio and Doña Carmen and Don Porfirio's daughter, Doña Amada (Madame de la Torre), whom they were bringing to the ship, which was crowded with returning Mexicans, anticipating the pacification of the country by Huerta. At the news that the "grand old man" was in the launch there was a rush for the railing. Don Porfirio could not come on board on account of the quarantine. It was a tragic moment when he took his daughter in his arms, and many eyes filled with tears as she tore herself from him and came hurriedly up the gangway. Farewells were waved as the launch turned toward the land. Don Porfirio, upright, majestic, motionless, had his eyes fixed on the ship with its prow toward Mexico. Who would, if he could, have searched his heart or said of what he was thinking, the old, the illustrious, the once powerful, in "the fell clutch of circumstance"?

As long as I live his figure will be to me the sign and symbol of nostalgia, as he stood in the small launch, his head bared under the brilliant sky, the bright spot of his red necktie accenting the whiteness of his hair, watching with longing eyes the ship turned toward the land which had given him birth, and which he in return had made great and honorable among nations.

[4] "The Daughter of the Emperor," "Queen Xochitl," "The Great Napoleon," "The Wife of the Moor," "The Star of the Sea," "The Brigantines."

[5] This was a time-honored calumny told to all new-comers in Mexico, and believed by many chiefly because it would have been so easy for Don Porfirio to enrich himself to any extent he pleased. The facts are that his ambitions lay rather in the direction of power for himself and peace and progress for his country than in that of the amassing of riches. He was a man of the simplest personal habits, though he always maintained a state dignified and befitting his high office.

During his years of exile he and his beautiful wife lived in the quietest manner on an income sufficient only for the ordinary comforts of life. The last will and testament of "the Greatest Mexican" further proved that he could be called to no such accounting by the Final Judge.

As for Señor Limantour, he inherited a large fortune from his father, principally in real estate, that increased in value during those years of prosperity which his long and able administration of the finances of Mexico did so much to bring about.

[6] In the autumn of 1911 Maurice de Weede was accidentally killed at a shooting-party in Austria.

[7] Recreation-ground of the Ancient Cat.

[8] The temple of Venus.

[9] The Road to Rome, Hilaire Belloc.

[10] National Pawn-shop.

[11] St. Augustine of the Caves.

[12] We must get even the water from the Spanish woman.

[13] Not to-morrow, immediately.

[14] Vide A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico.

[15] Interinato, ad interim presidency.

[16] Gulf of California.

[17] The final fate of Don Alberto García Granados, also Minister of Gobernación in Madero's Cabinet, was to be taken by Carranzistas to the Escuela de Tir and there shot. He was ill in bed when the summons came, and it is recorded that he was given salt injections and tied to a post to make it possible for him to stand before the firing-squad, which achieved the death of the aged statesman only after several volleys.

[18] British ambassador to Vienna at the time of writing.

[19] The Enchantress. The Emotions. The Lost Man.

[20] The Casa de Manrique in the Calle Donceles is another example of old seigniorial houses. It belonged to the Conde de Heras, and was built late in the seventeenth century. Now, alas, it is the office of the Wells Fargo Express Co., but there is a note of protesting splendor about it.

[21] Down with the gringos.

[22] Every government, since the days of the viceroys, appointed inexorably but quietly from Spain, has come into power like the government of Huerta or Madero or Diaz, through a revolution by a military coup. No foreign ruler till our day thought it a reason for bringing the whole nation to ruin.

[23] Armand Delille distinguished himself; at the battle of the Yser and on the bridge of Steenstraete was decorated with the Légion d'Honneur. He was sent to hold it with three hundred men, and it was held; but when he was relieved, of the three hundred men only thirty remained.

[24] Maurice Parmentier fell at Dieuze, November 28, 1914.

[25] Marina, the daughter of a cacique of Painalla, had been sold into slavery, and after the famous battle of Ceutla, when Santiago appeared in the heavens above the Spanish hosts (the chronicler of the event says that he, miserable sinner, was not worthy to see the apparition), she fell into the hands of the Spaniards. She was first allotted to Puertocarrero, but her abilities speedily raised her to the tent of Cortés. She became his interpreter, his Egeria, his love, the instrument of fate, holding Indian and Spanish destinies alike in her hands. All historians of the epoch extol her virtues, and Bernal Diaz says they held her to be like no other woman on earth, because of her intelligence and her devotion to the Spanish cause. By the Indians she is held eternally restless—malign—for having leagued herself with the Spaniards.

[26] Carranza's Plan de Guadalupe, March 19, 1913, contains, among other oddities, the statement of this "Everlasting Idol of Free Peoples," that "as our Constitution forbids us to confiscate, we have decided to do without our Constitution for a while."

[27] During the first Carrancista occupation of Mexico City this house was sacked and stripped of all belongings. Not an electric-light fixture, not a door-knob was left; even the costly floorings were torn up. Street-cars run through the Calles de Londres and — told me that for days the traffic was interrupted by cars filled with the Creels' furniture and works of art, which were left standing in front of the house. One rather sighs for the fate of the Sèvres vases, and one thinks involuntarily of the new verb in the Spanish language, "carranciar," to steal like a Carrancista.

[28] Diplomat's Wife in Mexico, Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

[29] Fifty-second viceroy.

[30] Elliott Baird Coues, + Zürich, January 2, 1913.

[31] (1917) Le Colonel de Chambrun, croix de guerre, grande croix de la Légion d'Honneur, cité many times à l'ordre de l'armée for deeds of bravery, and once, in the autumn of 1915, "pour sa gaité communicative dans les tranchées"—so indicative of his special talents and great heart.

[32] Henri de G. (Lieutenant 4th Zouaves), wounded at Verdun, June 9, 1916. Croix de guerre in Belgium, 1915, Légion d'Honneur, Verdun, 1916.

[33] "If thou goest to dwell in the Indies let it be where thou seest the volcanoes."

[34] Maurice Raoul Duval, + fallen on the field of honor, Verdun, May 5, 1916.

[35] Count du Boisrouvray, 14th Hussards, promu chef de bataillon pour faits de guerre. Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, croix de guerre, many citations; the first to enter Thiaumont when it was retaken.

[36] "For the king infinite lands, and for God infinite souls."

[37] This statue was thrown down and dragged through the city the night of the breaking off of relations between the United States and Mexico (April 23, 1914).

[38] Pathway of the dead.

[39] This is the prince who was taken by Cortés on his Honduras expedition with the kings of Texcoco and Tacuba. As punishment for plotting to escape they were hanged head downward from a tree in the wilderness. Humboldt saw this represented in a hieroglyphic painting in the convent of San Felipe Neri, and even Bernal Diaz relates that the companions in arms of Cortés were "much shocked" at the occurrence.

Now Cuauhtemoc stands in gold and bronze in one of the glorietas of the beautiful Paseo, high on a marble column, with Aztec devices on base and plinth, where he can keep watch on his hills and volcanoes and lakes. He sustained the siege of Mexico for seventy-nine days, and the inscription says, "to the memory of Cuauhtemoc and those warriors who fought heroically in defense of their country MDXXI." Diaz and his then Minister of Public Works, Riva Palacio, MDCCCLXXVII, ordered it to be erected, and later it was finished under Manuel Gonzalez and his Minister of Public Works, MDCCCLXXXII.

[40] The body of Maximilian lies with his kin in the imperial vault of the Capuchin church in Vienna.

[41] Without civil rights.

[42] Accursed one.

[43] This ship has played a rôle in the destinies of two of Mexico's rulers, for it not only bore Diaz into exile, but it was the ship containing the ammunition for Huerta, to prevent the delivery of which we thought we were obliged to seize Vera Cruz, April 21, 1914.

[44] Died in New York, August 23, 1916, of a maladie de langueur. How could she resist a winter exiled in Harlem, after the flight from Mexico in 1915—the world, her world, in ruins? As well put an orchid in a cellar in the autumn and expect to find it blooming in the spring.

[45] This house was burned and sacked during the Decena Trágica, February, 1913, by what the newspapers called la furia popular, and remains to this day a mass of crumbling and charred walls, roofless and windowless, sic transit.

[46] The American interests are chiefly situated in the district of El Ebano, on the frontier of the states of Vera Cruz and San Luis Potosí. The English are in the district of Tuxpam in the state of Vera Cruz, and the total of the interests represented is about a hundred million dollars for the American, seventy-five millions for the English, and between two and three millions for the Mexican. The figures do rather sustain the adage that "Mexico is the mother of foreigners, but the stepmother of Mexicans."

[47] In the palace in the Salón Rojo is a large picture of the battle of Puebla, with Diaz prominently figured. The picturesque dress of the Puebla mountain Indians gives it a familiar note. There is nothing wanting to show the prowess of Mexicans, and it portrays the French retreating down-hill in terrible disorder—chasseurs d'Afrique and chasseurs de Vincennes giving it a European touch not in keeping with the bits of maguey in the landscape.

[48] The heir to the Hanoverian throne killed in a motor accident.


Io mi volsi a man destra e posi mente

All' altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle,

Non viste mai fuor ch'alla prima gente.

Goder pareva il ciel di lor fiammelle;

O settentrional vedovo sito

Poi che privato se' di mirar quelle!

"Purgatorio" I

This is the passage that commentators take to mean the Southern Cross, the knowledge of which Dante got from Marco Polo.

[50] Assassinated at Salonica, 1913.

[51] Peña Pobre has been occupied and evacuated countless times by Zapatistas, and is now completely laid waste—the great paper-mills, the gardens, the hacienda buildings. Since writing these words a vast and blood-stained scroll has been unfolded, and I think many a one has modified his political creed.—E. O'S., 1917.

[52] Of the Casasus house nothing but the walls remain. Everything has been pillaged and scattered. People have happened on an occasional old volume of the great library, and an occasional piece of the gilt-and-brocade furniture has been seen in the second-hand shops. — told me that a matter of importance took him to the house when used as a barracks by Carrancistas. In the great patio were only a filthy cot and an old brasero near which a poor soldadera was sitting. The fountain was dry and full of refuse, and some soldiers were standing about waiting for their officer, who came in violently disputing with a woman of the town. From under the cot, after a few moments, the woman drew out a small, beautiful old chest clamped with silver and inset with coral, with which she departed, "the living symbol of the aspirations of the downtrodden masses," as one of his followers calls Don Venustiano.—E. O'S., 1917.

[53] These treasures were scattered and destroyed during the first Carrancista occupation.

[54] Orozco was arrested with General Huerta by the United States authorities on June 27, 1915. A few days later he escaped his guard at El Paso, and shortly afterward was killed during a raid on the border.

[55] A young mining engineer lately come out of Mexico on one of the intermittent trains, over the once favorite northern route, tells me that everywhere the stations are destroyed. Overturned rolling-stock lies rotting in the ditches; at one point where the fuel gave out the trainmen got down and chopped up the seats remaining on what once had been a station platform, and at another a Pullman car was smashed and fed to the engine. What intending travelers and the stockholders in the company think of Carranza's passion for reconstruction is said to be too fierce for expression!—E. O'S., January, 1917.

[56] Marquis de la G., then military attaché at the French Embassy in Berlin.

[57] Et comment fera celui qui a reçu du sort le don superbe et fatal de voir la vérité, et de ne pouvoir pas ne pas la voir?Romain Rolland, Vie de Tolstoi. (January, 1917.)

[58] Killed in battle at Belloy-en-Santerre, July, 1916.

A friend and companion of Alan Seeger's Harvard days, Pierre Abreu, himself extraordinarily fitted for the understanding of the "humanities" in every sense, told me of him one windy twilight crossing to France on the Espagne that autumn after his death. I had just seen, in my North American Review, that most charming of all his poems, "I Have a Rendezvous with Death."

He was evidently a free, romantic being, Latinized in temperament and mentality, receptive and creative. Abreu met him first at a Sophocles course—he was a brilliant, original classical scholar, with an elasticity of culture that made him also able to translate a gem of Clément Marot, or Ronsard, into perfect form at sight. For the impressionable years of gifted adolescence, what more suggestive setting than that magnetic valley of Mexico?

Now he lies in France. His high, adventurous spirit was meant for wars and chances, doubtless in the old, romantic sense of battle.

"Heroes battling with heroes and above them the wrathful gods."

For this type there could be but one consummation. But it seems to me all can be fulfilled as well at twenty-eight as at threescore and ten, and the completion of no man's destiny is dependent on his years.—E. O'S., January, 1917.

[59] Dr. F. S. Pearson, to whose genius this astounding engineering feat is largely due, lost his life on the Lusitania.

[60] A Mexican herb inducing insanity.

[61] Gustavo Madero was apprehended, as he was lunching in this restaurant in the Avenida San Francisco in company with General Huerta, February 18, 1913, and was shot while attempting to escape early the next morning. Vide A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico.

[62] "Step by step one reaches the end."

[63] Bean soup.

[64] Turkey stew with Chile gravy.

Receipt for the famous "mole de guajolote"

Pepper and salt
Grains of sesame
Chile ancho }
Chile mulato } Three kinds of peppers
Chile verde }
One piece of chocolate
One piece of sugar

All ground separately on the metate, then ground together and put into the saucepan, where the turkey already boiled is waiting, cut up in bouillon.

I don't know if mole must be made from the second joint of the turkey leg, but my pieces always prove to be that when scraped. The sauce is so thick that the anatomy is completely masked when one helps oneself.

[65] Boxes of sweets from Celaya.

[66] Francisco I. Madero and José María Pino Suarez were killed when being transferred from the palace to the Penitenciaría on the night of Saturday, February 22, 1913. Vide page 215, A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico.—E. O'S.

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