Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/89

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mean time of the pot pourri, which I forthwith serve up to you.

The general position and remarkable features of the valley and capital of New Spain, have been too often described not to have become familiar to you.

You have seen, how, in our ascent from the coast, after we had passed through the teeming and fertile uplands of the torrid region at the base of the mountains, we had mounted from one broad and varied step of this gigantic mountain mass to another, till we had gained the interior plateau, where, at the height of 7470 feet, girdled by the severed chain of the southern cordillera, the valley of Mexico, with its lakes, marshes, towns, villages, and noble city, opened upon our view.

The general figure of the valley is a broken oval of about sixty miles in length, by thirty-five in breadth. At the present day, even when divested of much that must have added to its beauty in the eyes of the great captain, and his eager followers, when, descending from the mountains in the direction of Vera Cruz, after overcoming so many difficulties, the view of the ancient city and its valley at length burst upon them like a beautiful dream—I never saw, and I think I never shall see on earth, a scene comparable to it. I often made this reflection, whenever my excursions over the neighbouring mountains led me to a point which commanded a general view.

I could not look upon it as did the Spanish invaders, as the term of indescribable fatigues, and of dangers, known and unknown; the rich mine which should repay them for their nights of alarm and their days of toil, and compensate for their seemingly utter abandonment of home; the prize that should satisfy the cravings of the most inordinate, and fill their laps with that dear gold for which they had ventured all! I could not enter into the ecstasy of the moment, when, after pursuing their blind way to this paradise from the plains of Tlascala and Cholula, into the recesses of pine-clad and barren rocks, higher and higher towards the cold sky, till untrodden