April, to make an excursion of a few days in the environs of the capital.
Accordingly, on the 8th of that month, for the especial solace and service of the invalid of the party, a huge unwieldy Mexican stage carriage, swinging to and fro upon its scaffolding, drove majestically up to the door of the Gran Sociedad, at the heels often mules, furnished with faded trappings and harness, and with tail pieces of brass-studded leather, shaped exactly like a beaver's trowel. M'Euen and myself on horseback, backed by our two equeries Garcias and Mariano, (the latter a new acquisition,) acted as escort. All were, of course, armed to the teeth, and felt very valiant. Two mozos presided over the mules.
The coach was, by-the-by, not so much amiss; for it was of a strength of construction, which might have made it available as a temporary citadel, on a pinch—and once put in motion, it went lumbering over the pavement, and out of the gate of San Lazaro, to the new calzada, leading towards the mountains beyond the southern limits of the Lake Tezcuco.
The morning was splendidly bright, and the air of matchless purity.
The causeway runs straight towards the volcanic mass, called the Peñon Viejo, situated on the ancient shore of the lake to the south, and which is to be distinguished from the other peñon of similar origin, containing the hot baths, and lying between the city and the lake.
For many miles we continued by its aid to traverse a range of wide-spread flats, from which the waters of the lake have long retired, leaving a surface but indifferently calculated for cultivation, from the spongy character of the soil, and the carbonate of soda forming upon its surface. The higher portions are subjected to a rude system of drainage and agriculture; and numerous herds of cattle were scattered over it.
We found Peñon Viejo to be a huge discoloured mass of ffused matter, abounding in caverns; and displaying throughout the play of the fierce element, to whose action it owes its elevation from the abyss.