Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/260

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

Notwithstanding the presence here of an establishment that will advance upon nearly everything a fair percentage of its value, the smaller dens of "My Uncle" flourish in abundance. They may be found on every street, and on some streets in every block, displaying a more heterogeneous assortment of stuff than the mind of man can conceive of. They will take anything offered them, and the majority are in league with thieves and pickpockets, who deposit their "takes" with them until pursuit is over, and they can be profitably disposed of. The police are cognizant of this, and keep up a rigid inspection of the pawn-shops, though the rascals generally evade responsibility whenever found with stolen goods. An American dealer in hardware told me that he lost more through the pawn-shops than in any other way; for young men, of apparent respectability, have repeatedly bought revolvers, knives, etc. of him on credit, and had them in the pawn-shops before the day had closed. It is owing to such losses as these that dealers in American goods, hardware especially, charge for them four times the price asked in New York—in order that the Mexican fop may keep up appearances.

Another large building, built with laudable intentions, but which has failed to completely realize the purposes of its founders, is the Mineria, or School of Mines. Mexico has better provided for her sons in respect to education than foreigners generally give her credit for, and this School of Mines is only one of many institutions throughout the republic for the training of young men in practical engineering and mining. Though often praised as a building of stately architecture, which would be considered a grand structure in any country, the Mineria fails to convey that impression now; and when told that it cost a million and a half of dollars, and that it is the work of the great architect and sculptor, Tolsa, we only wonder at the genius of a man who could conceal so much money in such an unimposing building. Here General Grant was entertained during his first visit to Mexico, in 1880, when he was the guest of the people.

There is a fine collection of the products of the mines here,