Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/93

This page has been validated.
87
MEXICO.

to be seen everywhere in the streets, where pictures, shrines, and processions abound. Few are the palaces, on one part or another of the facades of which you do not descry a patron saint, "sanctified in stone;" and most of the houses which form the angle of the intersecting streets, are surmounted by little arabesque shrines rising above the level of the azotea or terraced roof.

I have hastily penned these brief outlines of the interior aspect of the city, intending, as I may feel tempted, to relate the events of the Holy Week which we are approaching, and fill you up the outlines here or there, and to people it, which you see I have omitted to do. Meanwhile, I would lead you without the walls, if a breastwork of hardened mud, stretching across the entrance of the causeways, deserves the name.

Round that nucleus of splendid streets and buildings which I have alluded to, in traversing the outskirts of the city, you find a large space occupied by buildings of a very inferior design, interspersed, however, by large and spacious churches. Beyond these, at least on the east and north sides, an exterior circle of scattered cabins is observable, constructed of the adaubi, or unburnt brick, prepared from the clay of the surface, and inhabited by the refuse of the populace. They are posted on the very limits of that plot of ground which, by an elevation of two or three feet over the surface of the lake, had been dignified by the erection of this great city. The whole of this space was probably thickly covered by the ancient capital.

Over these marshes in the times of Montezuma, covered as they then were by water, three causeways led to the firm land; namely, that of Tacuba to the west, Tepeaca on the northwest, and Cuoyacan towards the south. It was upon the latter that Cortez made his first entry into the capital. At that time the majority of the streets were intersected by canals; and the city being surrounded by water on every side, the principal communication with the surrounding districts, and between