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With kindred spirits ---spirits who have blessed
7. And in my dying hour,
8. And though no grassy mound
ATLANTIC MONTHLY. 1. Had -the question been asked, forty years ago, what country, beside our own, possessed the greatest natural advantages, and gave the best promise of future growth and
prosperity, very likely the answer would have been Mexico, which had then just thrown off the Spanish yoke and achieved national independence. Cast aside for a moment all modern ideas derived from her known weakness and anarchy, and see how great and manifold those apparent advantages and prospects were.
2. Situated where the continent of North America is narrowing, from the immense breadth of the United States and British America, to that thread of communication between continents, the Isthmus of Panama, on the one side its shores are washed by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for more than sixteen hundred miles, and on the other by the tranquil Pacific for four thousand more.
3. Yet the distance from her great eastern port, Vera Cruz, to the old Spanish treasure-depot, Acapulco, on the western coast, is not, as the bird flies, more than three hundred miles: a distance scarcely greater than from Boston to New York, and which, with modern means of transit, might be traversed between sunrise and sunset. Thus, with one hand she seemed ready to grasp the wealth of the Indies, while with the other she welcomed all the products of European skill. This wonderful geographic advantage had, indeed, been rendered futile in the past by the jealous spirit and the exclusive enactments of her oppressors. But what might not be hoped in the future from a free people quickened into fresh life by the breath of liberty ?
4. Then the marvelous resources of every description which nature had crowded into her soil. Perhaps there is not on the whole earth another strip of country extending north and south only a thousand miles, and varying in width from one to five hundred miles, where, side by side are all climates and all their products. On the coast the land is low, hot, vaporous, and luxuriant,—the native home of the richest
tropical growths. Travel inland but a few leagues, and you rise to a greater elevation, and find yourself beneath almost Italian skies, and inhaling Italian airs; while all around is a new vegetation,- the vine, the olive, the tobacco, the banana, itself, perhaps, the most prolific and nourishing of all plants, and which, on the space where Indian corn would sustain but three lives, will nourish with its free bounty more than fifty.
5. A few miles more, and you stand on that great plateau, elevated, with but little variation, six or seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, and stretching on every side we know not over how many hundred thousands of square miles. There, under the tropics and beneath a tropical sun, is a temperate atmosphere, cool, salubrious, and bracing. There, almost within sight of the deadly miasma of the coast, is a new climate, which deals kindly even with a European constitution. There all the great cereals of the north, the wheat, the barley, the corn, come to their most luxuriant perfection.
6. And so it is literally true, that, traveling a few hundred miles from gulf to ocean, you pass through more climates and see a wider variety of vegetation than if you traversed our whole country from the great lakes in the north to the southernmost cape of Florida. Nay, so striking is this contrast of zones, that in that table-land itself are, it is said, deep valleys, where with one glance the eye may behold, far up, the deep shades of the pine, while below waves the feathery grace of the palm,—or where one may walk amid familiar waving grain, and see beneath him, descending in beautiful gradation, the cone, the olive, the sugar-cane, down to the depth where a torrid vine lavishes its full wealth of verdure.
7. Here, too, is the true Ophir; here the rivers that roll down their yellow sands. For here are the veins of gold
that attracted the Spaniard with his fatal greed, and the mines of silver that for three hundred years have been yielding untold treasures, and to-day are as ready as ever to yield untold treasures more. With such germs of wealth hidden in her soil, what was needed to make Mexico one of the master-nations, but men ? What to crowd her ports with ships, to make her borders pleasant with the hum of industry and to fill her storehouses with its products, but the same sagacity and energy which have made the sterile hills of New England populous, and which are now transforming the prairies of the West into one broad corn-field ? Was it surprising, then, that fifty years ago men were dreaming great things of Mexico ?
8. And it will not be denied that into man's estimate of her future some elements of romance entered, to blind their eyes and to distort their judgment. This was the land of Cortez and Montezuma. Here it was that the Spaniard, fresh from the conquest of fair Granada, found in the depths of the new world a barbarian civilization which mocked the pomp and luxury of the Moor. Here, on these plains, beneath these mountains, on the bosom of these tranquil lakes, was transacted that marvelous episode in history, which, on the pages of Prescott, looks like the creation of the fabled genii. Here an aboriginal race rose to more than aboriginal splendor; and here, beneath the conqueror's heel, they sank to unsounded depths of misery and servitude. He must have a prosaic nature to whom the memories and associations of such a land do not come glowing with the warm flush of sentiment and romance.
9. There was much, too, in the long and bitter struggle by which this people were winning their independence, which appealed to the sympathy of men who had just achieved their own freedom. Very likely, as we read now the history of that struggle,-as we see how little of any broad and generous patriotism entered into it,—as we mark how every step was stained with blood and darkened by cruel passions,
—as we behold, on every field, the selfish ambition of petty men taking the place of the self-devotion of great souls,-it will not look heroic. But it did once. Men saw it from afar off. They beheld in it the ancient conflict between liberty and oppression. It was the time-worn story of men. in poverty, of men in exile, of men dying for freedom.
10. Thus, from one cause or another, from reasons of utility or from reasons of sentiment and imagination, it is certain that many cherished the highest hopes for Mexico, and saw before her a long future of prosperity and honor. “It is to Mexico," writes a glowing admirer, “ that we turn again with fond delight. We invoke the reader to ponder her present position, her capacity for future greatness, the career she has yet to commence and run. We look toward her, and we sce the day-spring of a glorious national existence arising within her bounds."
XCIII.-A FIGHT WITH A BEAR.
DR. KANE. 1. On Saturday, October seventh, we had a lively sensation, as they say in the land of olives and champagne. “Nannook, nannook !”—“A bear, a bear!”-cried Hans and Morton in a breath!
2. To the scandal of our domestic regulations, the guns were all impracticable. While the men were loading and capping anew, I seized my pillow-companion six-shooter, and ran on deck. A medium sized bear, with a four-months' cub, was in active warfare with our dogs. They were hanging on her skirts, and she, with wonderful alertness, was picking out