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occurred, which always proved irresistible to the
native mind. Flores accordingly proposed a war of
extermination. He wrote to the Court of Spain that
he would give " no quarter, time, or mercy." This
ruthless purpose was carried into execution, and for a
brief respite the frontiers enjoyed a degree of peace.

Flores was succeeded by the Count Revilla-Gigedo,
the second of that name who held the office of viceroy.
He was a son of the former governor, and avoiding his
father's faults, he gained for himself the brightest
name amongst the rulers of Mexico. Nothing escaped
his active superintendence, and no obstacles daunted
his stern and prompt will. He repressed assassination,
the signal vice of Mexico, improved the roads and

• JIaycr, vol. I. p. 256.


police, encouraged literature and science ; in short,
showed all the elements of an enlightened statesman.
His keen glance discerned the value of" the Californias,
and he urgently pressed \ipon the Spanish court the
need of ibrtilying so valuable a possession. Amongst
other plans by which he might become acquainted
with the real wants of the people, he placed a letter-
box in a hall of the palace, into which all persons might
throw their complaints; and of this box he always kept
the key himself.

Two or three anecdotes may serve to illustrate the
character and rule of Revilla-Gigedo II. He was in the
habit of making nightly visits to the streets of the city
to assure himself that his regulations were strictly carried
out. Woe betide the unlucky officer whose failure in
any item of duty was detected. He was summoned
instantly to the spot, no matter what the hour of the
night. " I await him here," was the customary expres-
sion of the viceroy, and it ensured a prompt attendance.

One evening, whilst walking through the city
about sunset, he came upon a miserable street
which terminated in a cul-de-sac. The houses which
formed it were of the most wretched description.
" Why," asked the viceroy, " is there no thoroughfare
in this direction ? and why are such hovels allowed to
exist ? " No one could tell. It had always been so,
and it was nobody's business to interfere or remedy the
evil. " Send the Corregidoi* instantly to me. I await
him here." Soon that functionary arrived in breath-
less haste. He was ordered to open a broad and straight
avenue right through the quarter to the city barrier ;
and it was to be ready the next morning, that the
viceroy might di-ive through it on his way to mass. If
not done, the corregidor should lose his office. Witli
this pleasant assurance the great man marched away.


All night long the corregidor and his myrmidons
worked at their task, A body of leperos were en-
listed in the service, and for a small bribe the in-
habitants assisted to destroy their own dwellings. By
the light of a hundred torches pick-axe and crowbar were
gleaming, and under their heavy strokes house after
house was levelled and removed. Exactly at sunrise
the viceroy's carriage reached the place, but the work
was already done. Jolting over the fragments that
strewed the path, and along the unpaved road, it yet
was able to pass through the new street into the
suburbs. The name of the Calle de Revilla-Gigedo
still attests the truth of the story.

The power of the viceroy was absolute, and Revilla-
Gigedo II. occasionally exercised it in the punishment of
misdemeanors which are not usually amenable to law.
Among the Creole nobles then resident in Mexico
was a certain marquis endowed with immense wealth
and two beautiful daughters. He had no other
children, and it was hard to say whether he was caused
most anxiety by his money or his heiresses. The elder,
who bore her father's title, had fair golden hair and
blue eyes, a very unusual style of beauty in Mexico.
The younger was dark, with eyes like a gazelle, and
hair black as the raven's plumage. Both were alike in
one respect. They refused all offers of marriage. The
marquis desired to see them well settled in life, and
was quite worn out in persuading them to know their
own minds.

One night the marquis was aroused from his sleep
and summoned to the viceregal palace. AVhat could
he be wanted for at that unusual hour ? He hur-
ried to the viceroy's presence. '" Marquis," said his
excellency, " my superintendent of police complains to


me that you did not take proper care to secure the
doors of your mansion last evening." " Indeed, I assure
your excellency that my steward locked both the great
gate and the outer door last night." '" But you have
a postern opening into the street, and you were only
saved by the watchfulness of my police from being
robbed of your most valuable treasures — which I now
restore to you." At these words a door suddenly
opened, and there were the two daughters of the mar-
quis, dressed in travelling costume, and locked in one
another's arms. " And here are the thieves," he added ;
and in an opposite apartment were seen two of the
most dissipated yoimg men about the court.

The truth now flashed upon the mind of the father.
" You see, mai-quis," said the viceroy, " that but for
my police, you would have had the honour of being
father-in-law to two of the greatest scamps in my vice-
royalty. Look what a dilemma your carelessness has
brought me into, my dear sir ! I am obliged to wound
the feelings of two of the most lovely ladies in my
com't to save them from the machmations of scoundrels
unworthy of their charms, and I fear they will never
forgive me ! Farewell, marquis, take my advice and
brick up your postern. Calderon was a wise man, and
he tells us that a house with two doors is hard to keep.
As for these young scapegraces, they sail in the next
galleon for Manilla, where they can exercise their
fascinating powers on the maidens of the Philippines.''
Transportation was rather a stern punishment for at-
tempting to marry a fair and wealthy maiden.

This illustrious ruler was followed by Branciforte,
who stands in unenviable contrast with his prede-
cessor. Branciforte commenced a career of the most
unprincipled extortion. Offices of high importance


were openly sold; and as Spain was then at war with
France, the viceroy thought it a good opportunity to
confiscate tlie property of any Frenchmen that could
be found in Mexico. The country was then so closed
against foreigners that but few Avere discovered, yet
what he could do in this waj" he did with unsparing
avarice. The court was at once a scene of profligacy
and of corrujttion. When at last the public dissatisfac-
tion reached a height which imperatively called for recog-
nition, Branciforte left the country loaded with the
curses of the people, and carrying with him 5,000,000
dollars which he had plundered from them. Yet he
was a favourite at court, and the king sent him (appro-
priately enough we think) the Order of the Golden
Fleece. With all his profligacy he affected great
reverence for the Virgin of Guadalupe, and paid her
many visits, but no money. He desired to satisfy his
conscience with the cheapest form of indulgence.

Three viceroys presided over New Spain during the
ten years that intervened between the rule of Branci-
forte and the end of the viceregency. The internal
prosperity of the country and its resources were
still great, but various murmurings were ominous
of the revolt now so near at hand. Azunza, who
came after Branciforte, was personally pojiular, but
the government of Spain, under the handling of Godoy,
was ill-disposed to him, and he was removed to make
way for Bei-enguer de Marquina, who had purchased
the appointment. Two years elapsed, and, in 1S03,
Iturrigaray was sent to take the post. His term of
office was signalized by the arrival of Humboldt in the
colony, who received every assistance in his great work
upon the state of Mexico, a work in which its resources
and capabilities first became known to the outer world.


At this period a \oyal feeling was prevalent in Mexico,
and wlien, in 180G, the intelligence of the destruction
of the comhined fleets was received, the Mexicans
gave 30,000 dollars for the widows of the fallen. But
the patience of the country was sorel^y tried by demands
for taxes to maintain the European war, and when
Ferdinand VII. was displaced by Napoleon, aU fur-
ther hold over the- country was virtually at an end.
Through what struggles its independence was finally
acknowledged will form the subject of our next



Loj-alty of Mexico to Ferdinand VII. — Discoiitont of the Creoles
— Pride of the Spaniards — Hidalg^o's conspiracy — Its early
success — Spiritual weapons employed against it — Hesitation
of Hidalgo — Cruelty and success of Callcja — Hidalgo's capture
and execution — Uneonciliatory ipolicy of Calleja — Junta of
Chilpanzingo — -Insurrection under Morelos — Renewed excesses
— Siege of Cuautla — Xoble behaviour of Bravo — Retreat of
Morelos — Calleja viceroy — Death of Morelos and suppression
of the rebellion — Romantic adventures of Victoria — Apodaca
viceroy — Insurrection under Mina — Apodaca determines to
suppress the constitution— Employs Iturbide — Defection of
Itui'bide — Plan of Iguala — O'Donoju viceroy — Acknowledges
the independence of Mexico — Iturbide emperor — The new
constitution — Revolt of Santa Anna — Iturbide in exile —
His return, capture, and execution — His character — State of
])olitical parties — Federalists and centralists — Victoria presi-
dent — The rival lodges — Pedi-aga president — Pronunciamento
of Mexico — Guerrero president — Second revolt of Santa Anna
— Bustamente president — Last efforts of Spain — Alanian
prime minister — Internal prosperity — Third revolt of Santa
Anna — His early history — military exploits — Clever strata-
gems — Outwits the Spanish general — Santa Anna president
— War in Texas — Santa Anna a prisoner — Second presidency
of Bustamente —French siege of Vera Cruz — Second presi-
dency of Santa Anna— American war — Herrera president —
Third presidency of Santa Anna — Comonfort president.

When Spain was overrun b}'' the armies of France,
the autlioi-ity of the Spanish government in Mexico


was at an end. This was not, however, the imme-
diate result of the intelHgence that Ferdinand had
been removed to make way for Joseph Bonaparte.
At first, indeed, the Mexicans were inspired with a
zealous lo3-alty to their transatlantic sovereign. All
classes vied with one another in offering contribu-
tions for his aid, and in a few months seven millions
were freely subscribed to support their king, their
country, and their creed. But this loyal fit was
of short duration. The prestige of the Spanish
power was broken by the victories of the French.
The distance between Spain and Mexico was too
great to maintain enthusiasm in the cause of a
prince whose ancestors had but small claim upon
the sympathies of the Mexicans, and who seemed to
be indissolubly wedded to misfortune. The bitter
memory of years of opj)ression, insolence, and misrule,
was refreshed by the prospect of deliverance ; and
gradually, without any suitable preparation in the
habits of the people, and without fixed principles of
action to guide its leaders, the nation suddenly found
itself freed from the leading strings on which it had
relied, without having acquired the strength needed for
self support. Accordingly, from the period of the war
of independence to the present time, Mexico has been
the sport of various factions, each of which has grasped
at power, but has been unable to retain it ; each of
which has constantly plunged the nation into war for
its own selfish purposes, and ruled it, when victorious,
for its own aggrandizement. No sadder spectacle can
be found tlian that presented by this country, enriched
with the precious metals and a luxuriant fertility, yet
torn asunder by intestine strife, its credit destroyed,
its industry paralyzed, its very vitals wasted, until its


condition became so desperate as to call for some
high-handed interference to put a stop to scenes which
are a disgrace to the civilized world.

The first symptom of discontent was shown hj
the Creoles. This class was proud of the European
blood which flowed in their veins. Many of them
could trace their descent from the conquerors, and
in intelligence and wealth they were quite equal to
the Spaniards. The latter, however, excluded them
with the utmost jealousy from all share in the govern-
ment, monopolized all the offices in church and state,
and treated all claims of the Creoles to participate in
these dignities with supreme contempt. They would not
even recognise them as fellow-subjects with themselves
of Ferdinand, but asserted that the Spaniards were
masters in Mexico over all the other classes. The
municipality of Mexico was insolently informed that it
had no authority except over the leperos ; and Bataller,
one of the iiTiperial commissioners, used frequently to
say that "Avhilst a Manchego mule or a Castilian cobbler
remained in the peninsula, he had a right to govern
the Americas."

Such expressions are generally felt to be more in-
tolerable than the material evils of despotic government.
They pass easily from mouth to mouth, and create an
ii'ritation which misdeeds often fail to awaken. The
time, too, was iU chosen for such an assertion of
authority, and the sudden outbreak of a wide-spread
insm'rection proved on how rotten a foundation Spanish
power in Mexico was based.

A single spark set the whole country in a blaze.
A conspiracy had been formed in 1810 against the
Spaniards, and one of the band being at the point
of death, sent for his confessor, and revealed the



names of those who had joined it ; among them was
Miguel Hidalgo, curate of Dolores, in the province of
Gruanaxuato. Hoping to crush the plot in the bud,
the viceroy, Venegas, sent orders to arrest Hidalgo ;
but the priest received timely warning of his danger,
and having won over AUende, captain of the forces in
the neighbouring town of San Miguel, he boldly
declared against the Spaniards. On every side the
Indians thronged to the standard of Hidalgo. Down
they came from their mountain chalets, swelling the
force as it marched from San Miguel to Zalaga. A
war of races seemed imminent, and the deadly hatred,
engendered by centuries of oppression, burst forth in
burning desire for revenge. As the mass swept along,
every European was sacrificed, and the same fate befell
the Creoles who hesitated to join them. Some of the
latter had shai'ed in the original conspiracy, but drew
back in dismay from making common cause with so
ferocious a mob. But their first advance was irresisti-
ble until some 20,000 undisciplined and half-armed
savages reached Guanaxuato, shouting death to the

Hidalgo called upon the town to surrender, and
offered them favourable terms : but in vain. His horde
threw themselves upon the place, carried it by storm,
and commenced an indiscriminate massacre of its inha-
bitants. To no purpose were all his efibrts to stay
the slaughter or the plunder. For tliree days the
work of destruction went on, until through very
weariness the rebels held their hand.

It was plain that every effort must be made to crush
the rebels. The insurrection was no longer imder the
guidance of the Creoles, but had passed into the hands

• A term of contempt applied to the Europeans.


of the Indians, and Mexico was threatened with all
the horrors of a servile war. The viceroy despatched
an army against them, under Truxillo, and strove to
enlist the artillery of the church on the same side.
From all the pulpits the pi-iests were hidden to de-
nounce the revolution as directed against the church
and the Catholic religion. The archbishop excom-
municated the whole rebel army. Truxillo attacked
them at Las Cruces, and boasted that he had fought
with the obstinacy of Leonidas, and had fired on those
who came from Hidalgo with a flag of truce. But
the arras of church and state combined were unavailing.
Truxillo lost the whole of his artillery, and was com-
pelled to retire to the capital.

The rebel host pressed on towards Mexico, and con-
sternation prevailed throughout the city. It was
utterly undefended, and a panic spread amongst its
inhabitants, in which the viceroy is said to have shared.
Once more he called in the aid of superstition. The
image of the Virgin de los Remedies was carried in
state to the cathedral, and thither went the viceroy
with all ceremony. Dressed in full uniform, he ap-
proached the image, and imploring it to take the
government in its own hands, laid his staff of ofiice
at its feet. He quickly resumed it, however, and pro-
ceeded to give instructions for the defence of the capital.
To so credulous a people as the Mexicans, it might
well seem that the preservation of the capital was due
to the Virgin de los Remedios. Certain it is that
Hidalgo marched to within five leagues of the city,
and then paused in unaccountable distrust of his
powers. Perhaps he shrunk from renewing the horrors
of Guanaxuato in the beautiful town of Mexico.
Perhaps, as some accounts assure us, he was misled


by feigned deserters, who informed him that the place
was prepared to stand a siege. At any rate, he
hesitated, and in his situation hesitation was fatal.
After halting for some days in sight of Mexico, he
withdrew his forces.

An army was sent in pursuit of him, under Don
Felix Maria Calleja, consisting of about ten thousand
disciplined troops, well furnished with artillery. The
hostile forces met at Aculco, and a desperate conflict
ensued. The Indians, as at Las Cruces, fought with
the most reckless bravery. Dashing up to the mouths
of the guns, they thrust their straw hats into the
muzzles, and fell upon the ranks of their opponents with
clubs and spears. It was a renewal of the old strife,
and they fought almost as in the days of Cortez.
but now, as then, discipline and military skill prevailed
over numbers and unregulated courage. Hidalgo lost
ten thousand men, of whom five thousand were put to
the sword. The rebels fell back upon Guanaxuato,
closely followed by Calleja.

The tide of fortune had now turned, and Hidalgo
was again compelled to retreat. All the horrors which
Guanaxuato had so recently experienced were renewed by
the victorious Spaniards. The details of Calleja's cruelty
are too horrible for us to sully our pages by recording.
This man was a pitiless monster. The inhabitants of
Guanaxuato, men, women, and children, were driven
into the great square of the town and deliberately
butchered. The great fountain flowed with human
blood. Fourteen thousand perished in this way, and
Calleja boasted in his despatches that by cutting all
their throats he had saved the expense of powder and

Such excesses on either side naturally produced


reprisals, and the circle of crime went on \sddemng in
its course. Hidalgo retired upon Guadalaxara, where
be massacred 700 or 800 Eui'opeans. To the Indian's
recollection of past inj nines there was now added
the vindictiveness of despair ; whilst the victorious
Spaniards could urge no like plea. Again Calleja won
the day at the bridge of Calderon, and his triumph
was distinguished by the same massacres as before.
Determined to stamp out the last embers of opposition,
he issued orders " to exterminate the inhabitants of
every town or village that showed sj'mptoms of ad-
herence to the rebels."

Hidalgo's force was now completely broken. He
could still muster large numbers, but the}'- were un-
armed, and wanted all the munitions of war. He
determined to leave Rayon in command at Saltillo, aiid
with part of the plunder of Guanaxuato to sail to the
United States and purchase what he required. At
this j unctui'e he was betrayed by Elizondo, one of his
associates, and, after being degraded from the priest-
hood, was shot at Chihuahua, on the 27th of July,
1811. The regency at Cadiz rewarded Calleja with
the title of count, and appointed him to succeed
Venegas as vicerov of Mexico.

The death of Hidalgo closes the first scene in the
story of the Mexican revolution. The enmity between
the Indians and the Spaniards was too deeply seated
to be suppressed, save after years of peaceful govern-
ment, and by the long use of i-emedial measures. The
Creoles, too, although the instinct of self-preservation
had induced them to make common cause with the
Spaniards, were determined to shake off tlie yoke which
galled them. The whole country was broken up into fac-
tions, and a guerilla war was maintained throughout the


northern and inland provinces. The only way in which
a peaceful solution could be reached would have been by
yielding something" to the necessities of the times ; and
had Calleja been prepared to admit the Creoles to an
equality with the Europeans, Mexico might have been
saved to the Spanish Bourbons.

The new viceroy, however, was very far from enter-
taining any such intentions, and Rayon and the other
leaders of Hidalgo's party seeing the necessity for
united action, " assembled a junta, or central govern-
ment, composed of five members, chosen by a large
body of the most respectable landed proprietors in the
neighbourhood of Zitacuaro." * This body held liberal
opinions, but declared its willingness to acknowledge
Ferdinand as king provided that he would come to
New Spain and reign there in person. A still more
important council was assembled shortly afterwards,
under the name of the Congress of Chilpanzingo. They
issued a manifesto in which they stated their demands
to the viceroy, intimating that should they be rejected
they were determined to appeal to arms.

The manifesto of the Congress of Cliilpanzingo was
couched in moderate terms. After dwelling upon the
misery to which the country had been subjected
through fifteen months of civil war, and asserting that
a sovereign who was in captivity could exercise no
authority by his officers over Mexico, they declared
that the rights of Mexico were as indefeasible as tliose
of Spain, that the two countries were in all respects
equal, and that the one needed a representative assem-
bly as much as the other. They offered, in conclusion,
" that if the Europeans would consent to give up the
offices they held, and allow a general congress to be

* Mayer, vol. I. p. 287.


assembled, their persons and property should be reli-
giously respected, their salaries paid, and the same
privileges granted to them as to native Mexicans."
Ferdinand was to be acknowledged as the legitimate
sovereign, and every effort made to aid him in his
Euiopean wars.

T'.iese terms were contemptuously rejected, and the
manifesto burned in the capital by the common hang-
man. Meanwhile the national cause was gaining
strength, and a new leader appeared in the person
oi' Morelos, who had held a commission under Hidalgo,
and like him was a country curate. Matamoros,
another priest, the two Bravos, Galeana and Gua-
dalupe Victoria, were also leaders on the same side.
The stieam of rebellion again flowed down from the
nortli towards the capital.

Calleja, who was not yet installed as viceroy, was
sent agdnst them. At his approach the junta fled
from Ziticuaro, and the Spanish general razed its walls
to the giound, burned all the dwellings except the con-
vents and churches, and put numbers of its inhabitants
to the svord. After this feat, he made a triumphal
entrance into Mexico, and on the 14th of January,
1812, set out once moi-e to attack Morelos, at Cuautla
de Anilpas.

All the old scenes of atrocity and bloodshed were
renev\ed by the royalists. Officers fell under the dis-
pleasure of their chief, unless they shared his sanguinary
disposition. On one occasion, forty of the insui-gents
were eaptured unarmed in a wood. The royalist cap-
tain scared their lives and persuaded them to enlist in
his SQ-vice. Calleja was indignant when he heard of
this hamanit}', and when, some days afterwards, eight
of thorn deserted, he ordered the remaining thirty-two


to be taken out and shot. To his honour the officer
refused to obey this mandate, and the whole number,
except four, effected their escape. Such an incident

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Online LibraryReligious Tract Society (Great Britain)Mexico: the country, history, and people → online text (page 11 of 25)