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diencia, led also to investigations, which satisfied the Marquis of the villany of this plot, and induced him to despatch a mission to Spain, giving his views of the matter. This, however, the guilty parties managed to intercept; and then, to screen themselves from any future consequences of their infamous conduct, they accused the Viceroy himself, and, upon the depositions of forsworn witnesses, so poisoned the king against him, that Falces was commanded to surrender his government and return to Spain.
The accusation against him was a conspiracy, on his part, to usurp the government, and the witnesses swore that he had prepared an army of thirty thousand men.
Colour was given to this base accusation, incredible as it may appear, in this way. The Viceroy, who was a man of fine taste, had ordered a large painting to be placed in one of the rooms of his palace, which represented a battle by an immense number of combatants. This was the army which the witnesses, upon their oaths, represented to the king as having been raised and commanded by the Viceroy.
Towards the close of the viceroyal government, the history of Mexico assumes a new interest. The feeling of pity and indignation, heretofore constantly active, gives place, for a time, to an honest sentiment of admiration, justified at this crisis, we are sorry to say, for the first and the last time. The seeds of bitterness and wrong, sown broadcast during those long centuries of misrule, were about to bear fruit, and, for the first time, we catch sight of a people in Mexico, and hail the existence of a patriotic and manly spirit. When the storm of revolution swept over Europe, at the beginning of the century, and the king-maker, Napoleon, placed the sceptre of Spain in the hands of his brother, Joseph, Mexico was left in temporary interregnum. Ferdinand VII., in whose favour the irresolute Charles had previously abdicated, acknowledged the upstart king, and commanded his Spanish and colonial subjects to recognize his authority. This condition of things afforded a fine opportunity for severing entirely the fetters of colonial dependence; but it was not appreciated. There seemed, indeed, to be no wish, on the part of the Mexicans, to adopt republican institutions. The desire for change in laws and law-givers was, indeed,
widely spread; but the long habit of obedience was not easily broken, and the sentiment of loyalty was strong, even despite the pressure of wrongs. The Spaniards in Mexico were ready to transfer their allegiance to the French king ; but the Creoles clung, with instinctive tenacity, to their traditionary monarch, because long sufferance had established in him a right to rule, which they had not acquired self-confidence enough to question. The prestige of Spanish power, however, was broken, and the determination to overthrow the Spaniards in Mexico was fixed and universal. A detected conspiracy, looking to this end, and with which he was connected, forced a village curate, Miguel Hidalgo, into the field, as the first leader of this important movement, which finally resulted in Mexican independence. The struggle, thus commenced, was continued under Morelo, Bravo, Mina and Iturbide, whose successes terminated the viceroyal rule and resulted in the assumption of the supreme power by the latter, under the title of Emperor.
The independence of the country thus established, then ensued those bitter struggles between parties ; those coalitions and conspiracies; those revolutions and counterrevolutions; those juntas and congresses ; those plans and pronunciamentos ; through the labyrinthian mazes of which it is only possible to grope one's way with the intelligent clue our historian has given us, but which soon become hardly worth the trouble of penetrating. Our space forbids that we should enter into these particulars. The broils of a divided people, who lack the patriotism to unite for the establishment of a safe and permanent system ; the pitiable vacillation of a nation shifting from demagogue to demagogue, like the sands of an hour-glass—now duped by a political trickster, and anon bullied by a grandiloquent soldier-have no charms for us. They possess a certain interest and dignity, because they are part of the history of a nation-links in a chain, to be lengthened, we know not by what important results, in the future that is with God—and so we would not speak contemptuously of them, but leave them, under him, to the guardianship of that worthy minority of able and patriotic men in Mexico, who are the sole hope of the republic.
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna affords a striking illus
tration of that class of corrupt politicians who rule Mexico, and as he is better known to us than most of his unworthy compeers, and is, withal, the best type of the class, we place before our readers his portrait, sketched with ability, and, we doubt not, with our author's usual fair
"He possessed a wilful, observant, patient intellect, which had received
little culture; but constant intercourse with all classes of men made him perfectly familiar with the strength and weaknesses of his countrymen. There was not a person of note in the republic whose value he did not know, nor was there a venal politician with whose price he was unacquainted. Believing most men corrupt or corruptible, he was constantly busy in contriving expedients to control or win them. A soldier, almost from his infancy, during turbulent times, among semi-civilized troops, he had become so habitually despotic, that when he left the camp for the cabinet he still blent the imperious General with the intriguing President. He seemed to cherish the idea that his country could not be virtuously governed. Ambitious and avaricious, he sought for power not only to gratify his individual lust of personal glory, but as a means of enriching himself and purchasing the instruments who might sustain his authority. Accordingly, he rarely distinguished the public treasure from his private funds. Soldier as he was by profession, he was slightly skilled in the duties of a commander in the field, and never won a great battle, except through the blunders of his opponents. He was a systematic revolutionist, a manager of men, an astute intriguer, and, personally timid, he seldom meditated an advance without planning a retreat. Covetous as a miser, he nevertheless delighted to watch the mean combat between fowls, upon whose prowess he had staked his thousands. An agriculturist
, with vast landed possessions, his chief rural pleasure was in training these birds for the brutal battle of the pit. Loving money insatiably, he leaned, with the eagerness of a gambler, over the table where those who knew how to propitiate his greediness learned the graceful art of losing judiciously. Sensual by constitution, he valued woman only as the minister of his pleasures. The gentlest being imaginable, in tone, address and demeanour, to foreigners or his equals, he was oppressively haughty to his inferiors, unless they were necessary to his purposes or not absolutely in his power. The correspondence and public papers which were either written or dictated by him, fully displayed the sophistry by which he changed defeats into victories, or converted criminal faults into philanthropy. Gifted with an extraordinary power of expression, he used his splendid language to impose, by sonorous periods, upon the credulity or
fancy of his people. No one excelled him in ingenuity, eloquence, bombast, gasconade, or dialectic skill. When at the head of power, he lived constantly in a gorgeous military pageant; and, a perfect master of dramatic effect upon the excitable masses of his countrymen, he forgot the exhumation of the dishonoured bones of Cortez, to superintend the majestic interment of the limb he had [himselfs lost at Vera Cruz.
The great talent, which he unquestionably possessed, taught him that it was easier to deal corruptly with corruptions than to rise to the dignity of a moral reformer. He and his country mutually acted and re-acted upon each other. Neither a student nor a traveller, he knew nothing of human character, except as he saw it exhibited at home, and there he certainly sometimes found excuses for severity, and even despotism. It is undeniable, that he was endowed with a peculiar genius ; but it was that kind of energetic genius which may raise a dexterous man from disgrace, defeat, or reverses, rather than sustain him in power when he has reached it. The army
and the church-establishment-combined for mutual protection under his auspices—were the only two elements of his political strength; and, as long as he wielded their mingled power, he was able to do more than any other Mexican, in thoroughly demoralizing his country.”
Under the presidency of Paredes, in 1845, the difficulties between this country and Mexico, growing out of the admission of Texas, broke out. It would be superfluous to review, at any length, in this article, the war that followed. Mr. Mayer's sketch of that great national event is full, graphic and circumstantial. He describes battles as if he had fought in them, and his history of the operations upon both lines is the most interesting and intelligible we have seen. While it was yet a matter of discussion, the Mexican war was a question of party. When it was decided upon, it became national, and with what issues of blood and treasure the nation sustained it, let the American historian proudly tell.
It was, moreover, an instructive war. Our nation learned from it how fully it could trust itself in all the emergencies that called for the rapid organization and the efficient service of large bodies of men. It developed a new truth, of us, namely, that we are essentially a fighting people. The struggle of the revolution, and the war of 1812, had shown that we were abundantly prompt and able in defensive wars; but the contest with Mexico was
our first experience in aggressive warfare. Hitherto, we had fought upon our own ground, with all the advantages growing out of such a position, and, above all, with the inspiring sentiment of the holiest motives that could stimulate the energies of men ; but, in this war with Mexico, while there was a sufficient casus belli to justify the measure, there was none of that direct and personal interest, none of those lofty incentives, that wet the battle-fields of the revolution with the best blood of the land. The materiel of our armies was different. The regulars were trained and paid soldiers. The volunteer force, which is the most important, in the view we are taking of the subject, was recruited from an immense floating population of the idle and the vicious, and from the virtuous youth of the country, who, longing for distinction, leaped eagerly from the occupations of professional, commercial and manufacturing life, to the banner of adventure. At the call of the President, hundreds of thousands sprang forward, burning to be employed, and bitter were the struggles, and earnest the contentions, for preference and service. Five hundred thousand men could have been enrolled, had the occasion required it, as easily as the small force that was finally accepted, and when the roar of the conflict at Palo Alto reverberated through the land, it was as if the fabled dragon-teeth had been sown broadcast upon its green hill-sides and throughout its spreading valleys. The blood of the nation was up, and, had a reverse but occurred, and the new incentive of threatened dishonour intervened, the swarming of the hosts to the battle-fields of Mexico would have been as the exodus of a nation.
The teachings of the war, in this respect, were not confined to this side of the Atlantic. European critics may estimate as lightly as they please the efficiency of the Mexican soldiery; but the really intelligent classes, who traced, as trace they did, with eager interest, from Metternich, in Vienna, to Wellington, at London, the progress of our war, from Point Isabel to Buena Vista, and from Vera Cruz to Mexico, saw not only the prompt enrolment of eager thousands, but learned that courage and endurance and discipline marked the men, while a knowledge of their art, and a strategy, brilliant as profound, distinguished their leaders. They saw that every battle