Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/246

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by canals.[1] The circumstances attending the entry of the Spaniards are narrated at length by Bernal Diaz. After descending the mountains and passing through Amecameca and Chalco, they skirted Lake Tezcoco[2] by the base of the line of hills southeast of the city, and approached from the direction of Lake Chalco. After having been met by Montezuma in great state, with his nobles, they were conducted to the city. "We then set forward," says the old soldier, "on the road to Mexico, which was crowded with multitudes of the natives, and arrived at the causeway of Iztapalapa, which leads to the capital. When we beheld the number of populous towns on the water and firm ground, and that broad causeway running straight and level to the city, we could compare it to nothing but the enchanted scenes we had read of in 'Amadis of Gaul,' from the great tower and temples, and other edifices of lime and stone which seem to rise out of the water."

Humboldt says that the ancient city communicated with the continent by the three great dikes of Tepejacac (Guadalupe). Tlacopan (Tacuba), and Iztapalapa. Cortes mentions four dikes, because he reckoned, without doubt, the aqueduct (and causeway) which led to Chapultepec. To simplify the position, imagine a causeway reaching the city from the southeast, another leading out of it to the north, and another west, besides the aqueduct to Chapultepec (a little south of west), which may have been built upon another causeway.

Upon the ruins of the Aztec capital, therefore, after the siege had ended, the Spaniards laid the foundations of the modern city, still on an island, connected with the main only by the dikes, but with many of its canals choked with the material of ruined buildings. This "Venice of the Western world," as many authors have styled this centre of civilization in Lake Tezcoco, lost thereby its water-ways, which served in place of streets, and not many years passed before it was found to be in danger of

  1. The curious reader will find many particulars of historic information, such as dates of arrival of the tribes which successively invaded the valley of Mexico, etc., in the author's "Young Folks' History of Mexico," the later edition of which is carefully indexed.
  2. Written Tezcoco, or Texcoco, and pronounced Tesh-có-co