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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

dependence till eight years ago, our highways have been somewhat insecure, especially those more distant from centers of population, but never to the extent asserted by Mr. Wells; and at present I am sure that, in this respect, we are no worse than the United States or any other of the nations called civilized.

It has been always the practice of Americans to despise and abuse Mexicans (of course there are many honorable exceptions to the rule) whenever it was possible to do so, as I had occasion to notice during nearly two years that I lived in San Francisco, California. This, I believe, is a mere question of race, but it none the less awakens a feeling of antagonism, at least among the un-educated classes of Mexicans. The ex-minister to Mexico, Mr. John W. Foster, was not an exception to the rule of what I have said, when he wrote to the merchants of Chicago the exaggerated report to which Mr. Wells alludes. When that memorable piece of Mr. Foster's literary ability was published in the journals of Chicago, ex-deputy Martinez Negrete, of this country, had just arrived in that city, on his return from the Exhibition at Paris in 1878. As soon as he read the unfair communication of Mr. Foster, he made a very patriotic and energetic reply, and published it in one of the evening journals of that city, waiting there for results several days. The fact that there was never an argument adduced against our deputy's article, proved conclusively the lack of truth in Mr. Foster's malicious report. Señor Martinez Negrete, in showing at that time that there were robberies in the United States as well as in Mexico or other countries, among other things pointed out the recent and scandalous fact of the stealing of A. T. Stewart's corpse from the tomb, an event the parallel of which never has occurred in Mexico.

Now let us hear Mr. Wells discourse about the ancient civilization of Mexico: "The general idea is, that the people whom the Spaniards found in Mexico had attained to a degree of civilization that raised them far above the level of the average Indians of North America, more especially in all that pertained to government, architecture, agriculture, manufactures, and the useful arts, and the production and accumulation of property. For all this there is certainly but very little foundation, and the fascinating narrations of Prescott, which have done so much to make what is popularly considered 'Mexican history,' as well as the Spanish chronicles from which Prescott drew his so-called historic data, are, in the opinion of the writer, and with the exception of the military records of the Spaniards, little other than the merest romance, not much more worthy, in fact, of respect and credence, than the equally fascinating stories of 'Sindbad the Sailor.'" Who could refrain from laughing at such a pompous and presumptuous way of dealing-with historic matters? Perhaps Mr. Wells blames Mr. Prescott for not having drawn the materials for the "History of the Conquest of Mexico" from the annals of China or Japan. . . . But the most curious thing about Mr. Wells is the boldness with which he rejects the Spanish chronicles and the writings of Prescott without offering any better authority to upset them; he may be a man of unlimited knowledge, but we refuse to adopt him as the standard authority in the "History of Mexico," for which refusal, I am sure, the sensible world will justify us. If Mr. Wells has not learned anything about the advanced civilization of the ancient empires and kingdoms of Mexico, we advise him to read the famous historic writings of Clavijero, Las Casas, Alaman, Orozcoy Berra, and others, and the no less important archaeological and philological works of Chavero and Pimentel. There he will find ample evidence of the Indian civilization which he denies now without proof. The facts narrated by the writers cited have been widely illustrated and proved by the majestic and highly interesting ruins of Uxmal, Mitla, Magdalena, and several other places, in the States of Yucatan, Oaxaca, Pueblo, and Sonora, which have attracted so much attention and study from national and foreign archæologists.

From all that I have said it is clearly seen that Mr. Wells has been very hasty and unscrupulous in his article with which he tried to take the public by surprise; but I can assure the readers of the "Monthly" that, if there is any economy in Mr. Wells's "Economic Study of Mexico," it is to be found in the amount of truth comprised in the narrations which it contains.

P. F. Mange.
Alámos, Sonora, Mexico, May 5, 1886.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

SCIENCE AND THE STATE.

IN this country we have no state Church; but, on the principle perhaps which, whether scientifically true or not, seems often to be illustrated in human affairs, that Nature abhors a vacuum, we have in its stead a very notable development of state science. In other words, our Government no longer assumes to point out to us the