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would not be invaded. It was no stratagem. The enemy could rely implicitly on it, and Scott himself was morally bound to a particular conduct, whatever circumstances might arise, to modify a previous resolution. It was unfortunate, and it was improper. He should not have dispossessed himself of the right to enter the city. He should have entered it—the victory would have been complete; and the terms of an armistice, preliminary to treaty negotiations, should have been dictated from the National Palace. His motives, however--and they are penetrable—were pure and elevated. He aimed to strengthen the peace party and conciliate the nation, and, by this conciliation, and the force of arms, to doubly subdue the Mexican army. He failed, and a good precedent is established with us for future military conduct. He followed Napoleon's rule, of offering peace after victory. He disregarded the grand eclat of marching into the enemy's capital, after five feats of arms on the same day. He deeply humbled the self-esteem of his army; but, with eminent forecast, he pitched his gaze beyond the ephemeral glory, enuring to himself, of the hour, and the day; and the ancient laudatory maxim, “Bis vincit, qui se vincit in victoria,” may be applied to him now, while history will perpetuate his moderation and magnanimity.
The army,* in its several positions on the night of the 20th, and Scott at San Augustin, the “British and others approached, to re-impress him with the probability of peace, if the “government were not dispersed.”+ A note was prepared, to be sent to Santa Anna. The next morning, on the way to Tucubaya, “a mission came out, to propose a truce." The terms were rejected, and the “contemplated note," "omitting the summons "I of the city, was transmitted to the Mexican chief. It was accepted. Commissioners from both forces met on the 22d, and on the 24th the ratifications of an armistice were exchanged. The army remained in its positions-Tacubaya the advanced post-until the 7th of September, when hostilities were resumed, the events following which will be noticed hereafter.
* Worth's division and Shields's brigade were about Portales; Pillow's at San Antonio ; Twiggs's at Coyacan and San Angel, and Scott with Quitman's at San Augustin. Ripley.
† Hitchcock's letter to the New York Courier and Enquirer. # Scott's Report, 28th of August, 1847.
The armistice was a legitimate consequence-indeed the object-of the policy adopted at Puebla. Santa Anna, on the 23d of August, in his manifesto, thus alludes to it: “I accepted the armistice. * * I consider myself as free as if I had just obtained a distinguished victory, and there is no danger that the negotiations of the enemy will impose upon me, when their troops and cannon did not inspire me with fear.” It was, in fact, for him, a rescue from destruction; giving time to collect his scattered forces, to replenish their ranks, to provide means and restore courage, for the "preservation of their honour," and for powerful, if not successful, resistance. With us, this time was lost, and all our weaknesses were exposed. Yet General Scott is justified by all the antecedents, upon which remarks have already been offered. Had he insisted on the acceptance of the 5th article of his propositions, which required the surrender of Chapultepec, two severe combats, and the attending losses, would have been avoided. And, in spite of the Mexican pride, which rejected it, on the absurd plea of dishonouring the nation, it is cause of sincere regret that Scott did not make it a sine
He omitted the summons of the city. Chapultepec would have been an important substitute, and the generosity of yielding the point, abstracted from the unforeseen resulting evils, was of questionable policy, respecting advancing negotiations. The enemy had long declined to listen to terms, with their customary arrogance, until our troops should vacate their soil. With their city and castle fortified, and with ample time, for this depended on their own will, to complete preparations, (and they did it secretly,) it might reasonably have been anticipated that resort would be had once more to arms. While there was hope, with those people, as with their Spanish progenitors, pride and obstinacy would supply the requisite courage, and only irreparable disasters would constrain them to turn a favourable ear. With the fortress in our possession, overlooking and overawing the capital, and capable of battering it down, fear would have inclined the enemy, of all classes, to assent promptly to a liberal treaty of peace. The alternative would have been palpably before them, and, with scarcely a doubt, they would have sought to evade its desolating effects.
Art. VI.—Mexico: Aztec, Spanish and Republican. By
BRANTZ MAYER. 2 vols. 's. Drake & Co. Hartford. 1851.
By the common consent of the world, the writing of history has been assigned a foremost place among the literary labours of mankind. Not only with reference to its influences and results, which vindicate the importance of his task, but in view of the variety and character of his materials, the nice discrimination, the critical analysis, and the philosophical inductions which are required to blend these materials into striking and consistent unity, the historian must find much in his task to charm, while it occupies the highest powers of his mind.
The survey, from some elevated point, of a wide expanse of natural scenery, combining the magnificence of mountain ranges, the sparkling course of noble rivers, the majestic stretch of old forests, and the quiet beauty of cultivated fields, ministers an intense gratification to him who is alive to the glories of the material world. More nobly interesting must be the prospect that opens before the mental vision of one who, from the heights of an impartial and intelligent observation, overlooks the course of a nation, and addresses himself to the task of recording the mighty features of its progress. Amid the thronging incidents, it may be, of centuries of national existence, the fierce antagonism of variant influences, the confused admixture of causes, the conflict of passions and the rivalry of leaders, it is his office, with discriminating vision, to detect the points of salience, and, through the mazes of incertitude, stedfastly to trace out the truth. Well-balanced, indeed, must be the mind that, amid such difficulties, can fitly discharge such a task, and, unswerved by this dazzling character, and not unduly influenced by that striking event, keeps ever the feelings of the man in subsidence to the judicial impartiality of the historian. The illustration of a particular passion in the flowing verse of the poet, or the development of character and events in the fancied narrative of the novelist, is of comparatively easy execution ; but the evisceration of truth from the mixed materials of national life, and the edification of a faithful and philosophical history, taxes nobler
powers, and merits a higher commendation. From Herodotus to Hallam, no historian has entirely met the requirements of a severe criticism, and the world will
probably recognize a perfect history, when, from the inspiration of some unborn Homer, it shall hail the miracle of a second Iliad.
While, however, even Mr. Macaulay, who has so admirably summed up, in one of his essays, the requisites of historical composition, may be considered as having fallen short of the highest excellence, the annals of the world are likely to be sufficiently well written ; and it is matter of honest pride to us that some of the best histories of the day are from the pens of cis-Atlantic scholars. Irving and Prescott have already passed the ordeal of a criticism that, a few years ago, dealt with American criticism only in terms of sweeping condemnation, and are now appreciated, as they deserve to be, by the literary taste of the world.
The gentleman whose able work we propose to review is a worthy co-labourer of the distinguished writers we have named, and the reputation he has already earned will, we do not doubt, be much enhanced by the volume before us. Appointed by Mr. Webster to the legation of the United States, at Mexico, some ten years ago, he published, on his return to this country, the result of his observations, in a work entitled “ Mexico As It Is, and As It Was,” which met a ready sale and a very flattering reception. Much of the statistical matter of that work was subsequently embodied in McCullough's Commercial Dictionary, and we remember to have seen it also freely made use of in some discussions in the British House of Commons. The present more matured and elaborated work comes at the right moment, to supply a want created by our greater interest in the affairs of a neighbouring country, to which the occurrences of the past few years have strongly attracted the attention of our people, and in whose future we are likely to be yet more deeply concerned. The clinging foot of the Anglo-American has pressed, with the tread of a conqueror, the soil of the Aztec Empire, and we think it far from impossible that the flag but lately waving in temporary triumph from the home of the Montezumas, will, at no distant day, display its broad folds in the same serene air, brightened by the added stars of
the Mexican States. That such is the tendency of things cannot, we think, be doubted; and he who meditates the subject cannot easily escape the conviction, that the absorption, by us, of this whole Northern continent, is an event of very probable occurrence.
Apart from such contingencies, however, Mr. Mayer's subject is full of interest. There is a powerful attraction, to most minds, in the story of discovery and conquest everywhere. Whatever is bold, and daring, and difficult, wins the admiration of men, even despite the condemnation of their judgments; and while the achievements of mind will always excite the enthusiastic admiration of the few, the victories of the strong arm and the brave heart will win the same plaudits of the multitude. The ages of the world most marked by the violation of rights, the contempt of moral restraints, the wildness of licentiousness, and the tyranny of irresponsible power, have long been regarded as bright eras, and the light of their history is reflected back to us, chiefly from the broad shield and gleaming casque of the stalwart knight. We thrill to the shock of the tournament, and, with bated breath, drink in the changing cries of the battle-field, because these splendid manifestations of the physical man fill us with sympathetic pride. It may be questioned whether our admiration is most excited when these thewes of heart and body are strained in contest with man or nature; but our whole soul is with him who is victor in the strife against both. Such a character, cast in the finest mould of this attractive manliness, stands out prominently in Mexican history. To all, he is one of its most interesting-to many, its most important feature. The old Aztec civilization, which, through centuries of slow development, had builded up a rude Northern horde into a splendid, though barbaric nationality; the grandeur of mountains, rising through successive zones, above the line of perpetual snows; the lovely valleys, glowing with the warm hues of tropical beauty; the splendid cities, whose massive monuments evince a cultivated art, and hinted a far remote origin; and the sad story of a people struck down in gallant struggle for their rights and homes; all these seem but the accessories of a picture, of which Hernando Cortez fills the foreground. Of the thousands who have read the history of Mexico, in the pictured page of Pres