Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/95

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distance, while the two great volcanoes of Puebla towered, with their snowy caps, from a distance of sixty miles to the south. Beyond the flats in your immediate vicinity—over which the various causeways with their avenues of elm and poplar, and the aqueducts, are seen stretching for miles towards the base of the hills—the eye catches a glimpse of a lovely region of verdure and cultivation, studded with innumerable orchards, villas, and tasteful country houses; and many a village, indicated by the dome and tower of its church. In that direction the country appears like one vast garden, and the contrast between its verdure and gray tints, and the varied hue of both the intermediate plains and the slopes of the mountains beyond, is extremely beautiful.

A few miles from the mud barrier of the city, you have the ancient road to the lake of Chalco, stretching towards the village of Mejicalzingo, and the foot of the Cerro di I'Estrella, to the left. The latter strangely moulded ridge, heaving up from the surrounding plain, is noted as the spot from which Cortez enjoyed his first near view of Tenochtitlan. Such are the extreme dryness and transparency of the atmosphere on the table land of Mexico, that the traveller soon discovers that he is quite unable to form a just idea of the relative position and distance of the objects scattered over this great plateau. Indeed this deception surpasses anything which I have observed in any other country, and is heightened by the brilliancy of the colouring observable in the general tints of the landscape. Thus, in looking towards the hill I have just named, it appears to be but little in advance of a huge mass more to the eastward, whose steep purple sides, truncated summit, and yawning crater bespeak its volcanic origin. Yet as you proceed on your road, you see them remove from each other, leagues apart. On farther advance you see first one distinct cone disentangle itself from the bulk of the more remote, then another, and in the end discover a range of distinct cones increasing in height, and admit the complete fallacy of your first impressions.

For many miles after he has gained what might be