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A white umbrella in Mexico online

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Lowell, Holmes, and Whittier. With 12 full-page illus-
trations, £rom designs in charcoal by F. Hopkinson
Smith. Oblong folio or in portfolio, $12.00.

Thb Same. Large- Paper Edition. With Illustrations
j>rinted on Japanese pa^er, mounted on plate paper. Edi-
tion limited to 100 copies. In portfolio (16x22 inches),

ITALY, travelled bv a Painter in search of the Pictur-
esque. With 16 lull-page phototype reproductions of
water-color drawings, and text by F. Hopkinson Smith,
profusely illustrated with pen-and-ink sketches. A Holi-
day volume. Folio, full gilt, $15.00.

Thb Samb. Poplar Edition. Including some of the il-
lustrations of the above. i6mo, gilt top, $i«25.

A BOOK OF THE TILE CLUB. Containing 114 reproduc-
tions of representative Paintings, Bas-Renefs, Portraits,
and Sketches by members of the Tile Club of New York,
including 27 full-page phototypes. With Sketch of the
Club, and account of one of its Meetings by F. Hopkin-
son Smith and Edward Strahan. A Holiday volume.
Folio, gilt top, $25.00.

Thb Samb. Edition de Luxe. Limited to 100 copies.
With full-page illustrations on Japanese paper. Superbly
bound in vellum. Folio, full gilt, $50.00.



Boston and New York. \



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(Cbe Wottih\» ^pmi^ Cambridge


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KP ^/ - '/-'f C'j






Copyright, 1889,

All rights reserved.

The Rivtrside Press, Cambridge^ Mass., U. S. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company

Typo-Gravures by W. Kurtz.


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/ dedicati this book to tie most charming of
all the senoritas I know; the one whose face
lingers longest in my memory while / am away,
and whose arms open widest when I return ; the
most patient of my listeners, the most generous
of my critics — my little daughter MarION,


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Introduction i

I. A Morning in Guanajuato. . . 7

II. After Dark in Silao 29

III. The Opals of Quer^taro ... 45

IV. Some Peons at Aguas Calientes 61
V. The Old Chair in the Sacristy

AT ZacatAcas 79

VI. In the City's Streets .... 100

VII. On the Paseo 119

VIII. Palm Sunday in Puebla de i.os

Angeles 128

IX. A Day in Toluca 152

X. To MORELIA WITH MoON . . . . 165




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The Pulque Plant i

The Patio of my Benefactor .... 7

Church of la Parr<5quia 15

Garden Park at Guanajuato .... 20

Church of Santiago, Silao 29

The Plains of Silao 35

The Water-Jars of Quer6taro ... 45

Church of Santa Clara 51

The Garden of the Senoritas ... 56

Market-Place at Quer^taro .... 60

Highway of Aguas Calientes .... 61

Adobe Huts 67

The Old Gardener's Azaleas .... 77

The Old Chair of the Sacristy ... 79
Side Entrance of Cathedral of Zaca-

t6cas 83

The Steps of the Arcades 87

The Great Dome of San Francisco . 100
The Little Dome of the Chapel of

San Antonio 105

Kitchen of the Hotel Jardin, former-
ly THE Chapel of San Antonio 107


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viii List of Illustrations

The Peon Girl in the Convent Win-
dow io8

Ancient Cypresses at Chapultepec . . 119

Near the Confessional in Puebla . . 128

Balconies on Palm Sunday 130

The Markets of Puebla 144

Snow-Capped Orizaba 152

The River Lerma 155

The Alameda, Morelia 165

On the Banks of the Lake 177

Moorish Houses of PatzcIjaro .... 183

Lake Patzcuaro from the Plain . . 187
The Old Convent Church at Tzin-

tziJntzan 195

Before the Railroad 196

Old Belfry at TzintzIjni'zan .... 198

Stone Steps of the Convent .... 200

The Stations of the Cross 210

The Sacristy and the Titian . . . . 212


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My probe has not gone very far below
the surface. The task would have been
uncongenial and the result superfluous.
The record of the resources, religions,
politics, governments, social conditions
and misfortunes of Mexico already en-
larges many folios and lies heavy on many
shelves, and I hope on some consciences.

I have preferred rather to present what
would appeal to the painter and idler. A
land of white sunshine redolent with flow-
ers; a land of gay costumes, crumbling
churches, and old convents ; a land of


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kindly greetings, of extreme courtesy, of
open, broad hospitality.

I have delighted my soul with the sway-
ing of the lilies in the sunlight, the rush
of the roses crowding over mouldy walls,
the broad-leaved palms cooling the shad-
ows, and have wasted none of my precious
time searching for the lizard and the mole
crawling at their roots.

Content with the novelty and charm of
the picturesque life about me, I have
watched the naked children at play and
the patient peon at work ; and the haughty
hidalgo, armed and guarded, inspecting
his plantation ; and the dark-skinned seno-
rita with her lips pressed close to the
gratings of the confessional ; and even
the stealthy, furtive glance of the outlaw,
without caring to analyze or solve any
one of the many social and religious
problems which make these conditions

It was enough for me to find the wild
life of the Comanche, the grand estate of
the Spanish Don, and the fragments of the
past splendor of the ecclesiastical orders
existing side by side with the remnant of


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that Aztec civilization which fired the
Spanish heart in the old days of the Con-
quest. Enough to discover that in this
remnant there still survived a race capa-
ble of the highest culture and worthy of
the deepest study. A distinct and pecul-
iar people. An unselfish, patient, tender-
hearted people, of great personal beauty,
courage, and refinement. A people main-
taining in their e very-day life an etiquette
phenomenal in a down-trodden race ; of-
fering instantly to the stranger and way-
farer on the very threshold of their adobe
huts a hospitality so generous, accompa-
nied by a courtesy so exquisite, that one
stops at the next doorway to reenjoy the

It was more than enough to revel in an
Italian sun lighting up a semi-tropical
land; to look up to white-capped peaks
towering into the blue ; to look down upon
wind-swept plains encircled by ragged
chains of mountains ; to catch the sparkle
of miniature cities jeweled here and there
in oases of olive and orange ; and to real-
ize that to-day, in its varied scenery, cos-
tumes, architecture, street life, canals


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crowded with flower -laden boats, mar-
ket plazas thronged with gayly dressed
natives, faded church interiors, and aban-
doned convents, Mexico is the most mar-
vellously picturesque country under the
sun. A tropical Venice ! a semi - barbar-
ous Spain ! a new Holy Land.

To study and enjoy this or any other
people thoroughly, one must live in the
streets. A chat with the old woman sell-
ing rosaries near the door of the cathe-
dral, half an hour spent with the sacristan
after morning mass, and a word now and
then with the donkey-boy, the water-car-
rier, and the padre, will give you a better
idea of a town and a closer insight into
its inner life than days spent at the gov-
ernor's palace or the museum.

If your companion is a white umbrella,
and if beneath its shelter you sit for hours
painting the picturesque bits that charm
your eye, you will have hosts of lookers-
on attracted by idle curiosity. Many of
these will prove good friends during your
stay, and will vie with each other in do-
ing you many little acts of kindness
which will linger lovingly in your memory


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long after you have shaken the white dust
of their villages from your feet.

It is in this spirit and with this intent
that I ask you to turn aside from the heat
and bustle of your daily life long enough
to share with me the cool and quiet of my
white umbrella while it is opened in Mex-

F. H. S.
New York, December^ 18S8.


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This morning I am wandering about
Guanajuato. It is a grotesque, quaint old
mining town, near the line of the Mexican
Central Railroad, within a day's journey
of the City of Mexico. I had arrived the
night before tired out, and awoke so early
that the sun and I appeared on the streets
about the same hour.

The air was deliciously cool and fra-
grant, and shouldering my sketch-trap and
umbrella I bent my steps towards the
church of la parrbquia,

I had seen it the night previous as I
passed by in the starlight, and its stone
pillars and twisted iron railings so de-


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8 A White Umbrella in Mexico

lighted me that I spent half the night
elaborating its details in my sleep.

The tide of worshippers filling the
streets carried prayer-books and rosaries.
They were evidently intent on early mass.
As for myself I was simply drifting about,
watching the people, making notes in my
sketch-book, and saturating myself with
the charming novelty of my surroundings.

When I reached the small square fa-
cing the great green door of the beautiful
old church, the golden sunlight was just
touching its quaint towers, and the stone
urns and crosses surmounting the curious
pillars below were still in shadow standing
out in dark relief against the blue sky be-

I mingled with the crowd, followed into
the church, listened a while to the ser-
vice, and then returned to the plaza and
began a circuit of the square that I might
select some point of sight from which I
could seize the noble pile as a whole, and
thus express it within the square of my

The oftener I walked around it, the
more difficult became the problem. A


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A Morning in Guanajuato 9

dozen times I made the circuit, stopping
pondering, and stepping backwards and
sideways after the manner of painters
similarly perplexed ; attracting a curious
throng, who kept their eyes upon me very
much as if they suspected I was either
slightly crazed or was about to indulge
in some kind of heathen rite entirely new
to them.

Finally it became plainly evident that
but one point of sight could be relied
upon. This centred in the archway of
a private house immediately opposite the
church. I determined to move in and
take possession.

Some care, however, is necessary in
the inroads one makes upon a private
house in a Spanish city. A watchful por-
ter half concealed in the garden of the
patio generally has his eye on the gate-
way, and overhauls you before you have
taken a dozen steps with a " Jlola, sen or !
d quidn busca usted ? " You will also find
the lower windows protected by iron rejas,
through which, if you are on good terms
with the black eyes within, you may per-
haps kiss the tips of her tapering fingers.


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to A White Umbrella in Mexico

There is a key to the heart of every
Spaniard which has seldom failed me —
the use of a little politeness. This al-
ways engages his attention. Add to it a
dash of ceremony and he is your friend
at once. If you ask a Cuban for a light,
he will first remove his hat, then his cigar,
make you a low bow, and holding his
fragrant Havana between his thumb and
forefinger, with the lighted end towards
himself, will present it to you with the
air of a grandee that is at once graceful
and captivating. If you follow his ex-
ample and remain bareheaded until the
courtesy is complete he will continue bow-
ing until you are out of sight. If you are
forgetful, and with thoughts intent upon
your own affairs merely thank him and
pass on, he will bless himself that he is
not as other men are, and dismiss you
from his mind as one of those outside bar-
barians whom it is his duty to forget.

In Mexico the people are still more
punctilious. To pass an acquaintance on
the street without stopping, hat in hand,
and inquiring one by one for his wife,
children, and the various members of his


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A Morning in Guanajuato 1 1

household, and then waiting patiently until
he goes through the same family list for
you, is an unforgivable offence among
friends. Even the native Indians are dis-
tinguished by an elaboration of manner in
the courtesies they constantly extend to
each other noted in no other serving peo-

An old woman, barefooted, ragged, and
dust begrimed, leaning upon a staff,
once preceded me up a narrow, crooked
street. She looked like an animated fish-
net hung on a fence to dry, so ragged and
emaciated was she. A young Indian one
half her age crossed her steps as she
turned into a side street. Instantly he
removed his hat and saluted her as if she
had been the Queen of Sheba. "-<4 /os
pies de usted, sehora " (At your feet, lady),
I heard him say as I passed. " Bese usted
las manos '* (My hands for your kisses,
serior), replied she, with a bow which
would have become a duchess.

I have lived long enough in Spanish
countries to adapt my own habits and
regulate my own conduct to the require-
ments of these customs; and so when


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12 A White Umbrella in Mexico

this morning in Guanajuato, I discovered
that my only hope lay within the archway
of the patio of this noble house, at once
the residence of a man of wealth and of
rank, I forthwith succumbed to the law of
the country, with a result that doubly paid
me for all the precious time it took to ac-
complish it ; precious, because the whole
front of the beautiful old church with its
sloping flight of semicircular stone steps
was now bathed in sunlight, and a few
hours later the hot sun climbing to the ze-
nith would round the corner of the tower,
leave it in shadow, and so spoil its effect.

Within this door sat a fat, oily porter,
rolling cigarettes. I approached him,
handed him my card, and bade him con-
vey it to his master together with my most
distinguished considerations, and inform
him that I was a painter from a distant
city by the sea, and that I craved permis-
sion to erect my easel within the gates of
his palace and from this coign of vantage
paint the most sacred church across the

Before I had half examined the square
of the patio with its Moorish columns and


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A Morning in Guanajuato i)

arches and tropical garden filled with
flowers, I heard quick footsteps above
and caught sight of a group of gentlemen
preceded by an elderly man with bristling
white hair, walking rapidly along the
piazza of the second or living floor of the

In a moment more the whole party de-
scended the marble staircase and ap-
proached me. The elderly man with the
white hair held in his hand my card.

"With the greatest pleasure, senor,"
he said graciously. "You can use my
doorway or any portion of my house; it
is all yours ; the view from the balcony
above is much more extensive. Will you
not ascend and see for yourself ? But let
me present you to my friends and insist
that you first come to breakfast."

But I did not need the balcony, and it
was impossible for me to share his coffee.
The sun was moving, the day half gone,
my stay in Guanajuato limited. If he
would permit me to sit within the shadow
of his gate I would ever bless his gener-
osity, and, the sketch finished, would do
myself the honor of appearing before him.


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14 A White Umbrella in Mexico

Half a dozen times during the progress
of this picture the whole party ran down
the staircase, napkins in hand, broke out
into rapturous exclamations over its de-
velopment, and insisted that some sort of
nourishment, either solid or fluid, was ab-
solutely necessary for the preservation of
my life. Soon the populace began to
take an interest, and so blocked up the
gateway that I could no longer follow the
outlines of the church. I remonstrated,
and appealed to my host. He grasped
the situation, gave a rapid order to the
porter, who disappeared and almost im-
mediately reappeared with an officer who
saluted my host with marked respect.
Five minutes later a squad of soldiers
cleared out the archway and the street in
front, formed two files, and mounted guard
until my work was over. I began to won-
der what manner of man was this who gave
away palaces and commanded armies !

At last the sketch was finiished, and
leaving the porter in charge of my traps I
seized the canvas, mounted the winding
staircase, and presented myself at the
large door opening on the balcony. At


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A Morning in Guanajuato j$

sight of me not only my host, but all his

guests, rose to their feet and welcomed

me heartily,

crowding about

the chair

against which

I propped the


Then a door
in the rear of
the breakfast-
room opened,
and the senora
and her two
pretty daugh-
ters glided in
for a peep at
the work of the
morning, de-
claring in one
breath that it

was very wonderful that so many colors
could be put together in so short a time ;
that I must be muy fatigado^ and that
they would serve coffee for my refresh-
ment at once.

This to a tramp, remember, discovered


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1 6 A White Umbrella in Mexico

on a doorstep but a few hours before, with
designs on the hallway !

This done I must see the garden and
the parrots in the swinging cages and the
miniature Chihuahua dogs, and last I
must ascend the flight of brick steps lead-
ing to the roof and see the view from the
tip-top of the house. It was when lean-
ing over the projecting iron rail of this
lookout, with the city below me and the
range of hills above dotted with mining
shafts, that I made bold to ask my host a
direct question.

" Senor, it is easy for you to see what
my life is and how I fill it. Tell me, what
manner of man are you ? "

" Con gusto, senor, I am tm minero.
The shaft you see to the right is the en-
trance to my silver mine. I am un agricul-
tor. Behind yon mountain lies my haci-
enda, and I am un hienhechor (a benefac-
tor). The long white building you see to
the left is the hospital which I built and
gave to the poor of my town."

When I bade good-by to my miner,
benefactor, and friend, I called a sad-faced


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A Morning in Guanajuato 17

Indian boy who had watched me intently
while at work, and who waited patiently
until I reappeared. To him I consigned
my "trap," with the exception of my um-
brella staff, which serves me as a cane,
and together we lost ourselves in the
crowded thoroughfare.

"What is your name, muchachoV^ I

" Matfas, senor."

" And what do you do ? "

" Nothing."

"All day?"

" All day and all night, senor."

Here at least was a fellow Bohemian
with whom I could loaf to my heart's con-
tent. I looked him over carefully. He
had large dark eyes with drooping lids,
which lent an air of extreme sadness to
his handsome face. His curly black hair
was crowded under his straw sombrero,
with a few stray locks pushed through the
crown. His shirt was open at the throat,
and his leathern breeches, reaching to his
knee, were held above his hips by a rag
of a red sash edged with frayed silk
fringe. Upon his feet were the sandals


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1 8 A White Umbrella in Mexico

of the country. Whenever he spoke he
touched his hat.

" And do you know Guanajuato ? " I

" Every stone, sefior."

" Show it me."

In the old days this crooked old city of
Guanajuato was known as Quanashuato,
which in the Tarascan tongue means the
" Hill of the Frogs ; '' not from the prev-
alence of that toothsome morsel, but be-
cause the Tarascan Indians, according to
Janvier, " found here a huge stone in the
shape of a frog, which they worshipped."
The city at an elevation of 6,800 feet is
crowded into a narrow, deep ravine, ter-
raced on each side to give standing room
for its houses. The little Moorish look-
ing town of Marfil stands guard at the
entrance of the narrow gorge, its heavy
stone houses posted quite into the road,
and so blocking it up that the trains of
mules must needs dodge their way in and
out to reach the railroad below.

As you pass up the ravine you notice
that through its channel runs a sluggish,
muddy stream, into which is emptied all


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A Morning in Guanajuato ig


the filth of the City of Frogs above, as
well as all the pumpings and waste wash-
ings of the silver mines which line its
sides below.

Into this mire droves of hogs wallow
in the hot sun, the mud caking to their
sides and backs. This, Matfas tells me,
their owners religiously wash off once a
week to save the silver which it contains.
As it is estimated that the summer fresh-
ets have scoured from the bed of this
brook millions of dollars of silver since
the discovery of these mines in 1548, the
owners cannot be blamed for scraping
these beasts clean, now that their output

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