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perfect heroism of restraint; the commonwealth of Athens is brought on the stage as easily as a curtain shifter could do it at the theatre; and Syracuse, and Dionysius, and Dion, and Aristippus, and, last of all, the excellent Archytas of Terentium, are conjured up before the reader by the learning of the novelist. But do these great or famous men appear in an ancient costume? Is the spirit of antiquity in truth brought before the curious ? and are we by this accomplished and graceful diable boiteux permitted to look into the secret abodes and private mansions of Grecian life? Or, is it only that modern coquetry puts on an Attic name, and the gallantry of a recent day tricks itself out in the garb of classic antiquity? This is a mooted point ; for ourselves, we think we perceive a wonderful family likeness in the heathens and christians, the infidels and heretics, the ancients and moderns, who have been described by Wieland. We remark in them all a want of distinct individuality; and we should trust his delineations of life at Smyrna, or Syracuse, or Athens, as much as at the court of Charlemagne, or any where else, except in the côteries of his contemporaries.
In one passage of Agathon, Wieland seems to anticipate reproof from ascetics and hypocrites, and fortifies himself against censure, by insisting on the truth of his descriptions, and next on their difficulty. It would have been much easier, he argues, to write three volumes of the marvellous adventures of some great prodigy in the annals of chivalrous superstition. But has imagination, has moral truth, has pure yet natural affection, no world of its own? Is there no option between the follies of absurd knight-errantry and the details of licentious voluptuousness ? Are all mankind either libertines or giant-killers ?
Mr. Taylor* gives a summary of the opinions, which, after long experience, Agathon brought home from three years' travel. One would think that a man might know as much without leaving his own fireside. In short, we are able to find in the works of Wieland, neither a wise, practical philosophy of life, nor the proofs of poetic genius.
We would, in conclusion, recommend Mr. Taylor's work to the mature scholar. The novice would only be led astray
* Vol. IL p. 290—293.
ART. VIII.-Mexico. By H. G. Wand, Esq. His Majesty's
Chargé d'Affaires in that country during the years 1825, 1826, and part of 1827. Second edition enlarged, with an account of the Mining Companies, and of the Political events in that Republic, to the present day. 2 vols. Svo. London: Henry Colburn. 1829.
Wo deem it our duty, as far as it is within our power, to review all works relative to the Americans, and especially to the new states; to corroborate such statements as appear to us to be founded in truth, and to correct the errors into which authors, who write on this subject, may be led by ignorance of the true character of the people, affected as it has been, both by the long subjection to tyranny, and their emancipation from a strict colonial government. That we have already done this in a spirit of kindness, we need not say. In our notice of the first edition of the work which stands at the head of this paper, we spoke of it as we thought it deserved, in terms of high praise ; and we were induced to do so, chiefly from the tone of moderation which reigns throughout its pages, on the subject of the political dissensions of the country of which it treats. Unfortunately for the cause of truth, Mr. Ward has suffered his feelings to overcome his better judgment, and in the additions which he has made to the second edition of his work, has not only departed from his former moderation, but displayed the credulity, violence, and rancour of party spirit. We cannot but regret, that so respectable a man as we understand this gentleman to be, should have so yielded to party prejudice, as to be blinded to the absurdity of the falsehoods he has received from his informants in Mexico, and to publish them to the world under the authority of his name. Indeed, the misstatements in this edition of his book, are set forth with a boldness of assertion so calculated to mislead the public, that we have thought it incumbent on us to expose them to the world, and to show the utter inaccuracy, to use the mildest term, of the Notes and Illustrations appended by the author to the historical documents.
First, however, we will give a brief sketch of the present condition of Mexico, and of the causes which have led to the frequent revolutions that country has undergone, and which have occasioned the decline of its wealth and prosperity.
The institutions of the mother country, both civil and religious, have a most decided influence on the character and destinies of colonies. The systems of law and police in Spain, have not been, as is supposed, worse than in any civilized nation in modern Europe; but they have been worse administered. The privileges of the municipal magistrates, and corruption of the officers of justico, are wholly incompatible with freedom of person or security of property. The immunities of the nobles, of great landed proprietors, of the military and the clergy, almost entirely exempt them from the salutary influence of the law, and allow them to trample with impunity upon the rights of their less fortunate fellow subjects. These are evils to which all Europe was at one time subjected; but in Spain, they have maintained their ground longer than any where else, and were extended to the colonies; where, united with a pernicious system of taxation, a monopoly of trade, a privation of all honourable incitements to industry, inadequate means of education, and the corrupting example of men in office, they produced those effects upon the character of the people, which it will require years of intercourse with more civilized countries and the most liberal and enlightened legislation to remove. A writer in Mexico, speaking of the condition of his countrymen at the present day, makes use of the following language:
“With respect to our political condition, we may say, that from the most degrading slavery, we have reached, in the progress of a few years, the highest point of social liberty. The ambition of the enslaved Mexican, was formerly confined to attract the notice of a viceroy or other Spanish satrap; studiously deprived of the examples and lessons, which elevate the mind to great views and glorious actions, he could not imagine that mankind had any other destiny ; so that he dragged along, without being aware of it, an ignominious and opprobrious chain. Now, a noble pride has taken the place of this vile abasement; the love of liberty has succeeded to the most stupid indolence, and the love of truth to the most ignorant credulity. The Mexican of to-day examines for himself, discourses, and reasons; the Mexican of former times believed, obeyed, and was silent. The Mexican is now proud of being a republican, and studies to understand the free institutions under which he lives, and begins to take pleasure in public affairs ; the Mexican of former times did not dare to pronounce the word republic, and was ignorant of the meaning of that of citizen. He lived immersed in sensual pleasures, which assimilate man to the brute creation, and his existence was an uninterrupted chain of habits in which reason had no part.”
It may be well to give, with some freedom, the details of the causes which produced this deplorable state of things in Mexico, previous to the revolution, and which have had so great an influence in retarding her progress subsequently.
No portion of Spanish America was watched over by the mother country with so much jealousy as this. Its comparatively dense population, its extensive and fertile territory, its rich and varied productions, and its great mineral wealth, united to the interest attached to its ancient history, and the glory of its conquest, all combined to enhance the value of the possession to a proud monarchy and a chivalrous people. In order to preserve it, every precaution was taken that human prudence could devise, and among the most obvious and most effective measures were these—to prevent the entrance of strangers, to keep the people profoundly ignorant of the strength and resources of the country they inhabited, and to inspire them with a wholesome jealousy of all foreigners—a policy carried into so successful an operation, that the Mexicans, to this day, regard all strangers with distrust, and had not advanced much in knowledge since the time of the conquest; and foreigners were so completely debarred all access to the country, that until the publication of the Political Essay of Baron Humboldt, the nations of Europe, and even we ourselves, were ignorant of the very names of the fertile districts and populous cities inhabited by our immediate neighbours. In the permission granted to that gentleman to explore the Americas, the pride of the court of Spain appears to have overcome its habitual caution; and the Baron evinced his gratitude by the highly coloured accounts he put forth of the institutions, the wealth, resources, and growing prosperity of their colonies. It is true, that Baron Humboldt saw the countries he describes, before they were desolated by the wars of the revolution ; still we have reason to believe, that his pictures of the condition of the public institutions, of the very advanced state of the arts and sciences in Mexico, and of the splendour and magnificence displayed by the nobles, are, to say the least, greatly exaggerated. The colleges and academies were liberally endowed, and regulated by wise ordinances, but the administration was wretchedly defective. Those who received scholastic education, were known for their utter inability to take part in the active pursuits of life. They were not taught any thing useful; general science or foreign languages were considered acquisitions of a most dangerous tendency; and the attainment of them would have operated against the success of a Creole youth.
The nobility, as in Spain, inhabited spacious hotels, magnificent in appearance, but inconvenient and comfortless; from whence, their pretensions to rank, and jealousy of each other, banished all social intercourse. They rarely visited on terms of equality, but every one held his own tertulia, where, night after night, seated in a dimly lighted and badly finished apartment, they received a few visiters of inferior rank. The sons of these men fled from the gloomy mansions and gloomy assemblies of their fathers, to the theatre, the coffee-house, or the gambling table. For an account of the condition and character of the clergy, who must have a preponderating influence over the people in Catholic countries, we refer our readers to the Noticias secretas of Don Juan, and Don Antonio de Ulloa.
The condition of the labouring classes was still more lamentable, and was peculiar to Mexico. That portion of America, at the time of its conquest by the Spaniards, was inhabited by a people in a high state of civilization for the age in which they lived; but the cruelty and rapacity of the conquerors destroyed all the members of the higher classes, and reduced the lower orders to the most degrading and abject slavery. This produced
a singular effect upon the character of the Spanish settlers and their descendants. They scorned to be placed on a level with the wretched Indian ; their colour ennobled them in their own opinion; and the poorest white man would have perished with want rather than lose caste by working in the field, or by following any other laborious occupation in which the Indians were habitually employed. Thus, then, was wanting that portion of a community which forms the strength of a nation-a hardy and virtuous peasantry. The policy of Spain prevented the light of knowledge from penetrating into the country. Not only were the Mexicans disabled from keeping pace with the rapid progress of science in other countries, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but they were scarcely allowed to retain the station they occupied at the time of the conquest. The want of the means of acquiring knowledge, from the interdiction of all books which could enlighten their minds, or of an intercourse with strangers, which might enlarge their ideas; the absence of all excitement to industry or enterprise, from all appointments being conferred on Europeans; the facility of procuring the means of subsistence without labour; their assumed superiority over, and frequent sexual intercourse with the native Indians, all contributed to render that people inferior in moral character to the mother country, which it is generally supposed has not kept pace with the rest of Europe. The revolution of Spain found them in this condition, and hastened an event for which they were not fully prepared; but towards which they were slowly, but irresistibly impelled.
At that period Iturrigaray was viceroy, and acted at first with great loyalty to his king. He not only refused to acknowledge the Duke of Berg as representative of the King of Spain, but declared his determination to defend the viceroyalty against any attempts to withdraw it from the legitimate sovereign. But when the municipality of the capital considered it necessary to propose to him to call a junta, and to convoke an assembly of the Mexican provinces, he readily acceded to the measure; and it was generally believed was inclined to favour the entire independence of the country. The Oidores, or members of the supreme tribunal called the Audiencia, who by the laws were independent of the viceroy, and were instructed to watch over his conduct, were led to fear that Iturrigaray sought to displace them; and the European Spaniards were opposed to the convocation of a national assembly, because they thought it would put the power in the hands of the Creoles, whom they always regarded with great jealousy. The Chaquetes (Jackets), as the Europeans were called, from the roundabouts they always wore, headed by one Yermo, a wealthy planter, and instigated by the oidores, conspired against Iturrigaray, surprised him in his palace, sent