Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/364

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

government now in power-will carry them out. Whatever may be urged against Maximilian as a usurper, it must be admitted that he has embellished the capital more than any ruler since Cortés. His magnificent service of plate is in the Museum, and the costly furniture is widely scattered, but some tables are shown, some chandeliers, the rooms the royal couple occupied, and the plan, designed by his order, of the imperial park of Chapultepec. From the roof of the castle, as well as from the entire crest of the hill, a wide view is afforded of the beautiful city, enclosed between its amethyst hills. Perhaps there does not exist in the wide world a lovelier vision than that spread before one from the castle of Chapultepec; the historic valley held in the hollow of the Cordilleras and guarded by the snow-crested volcanoes far away to the southward,—those

"Mountains white with winter, looking downward, cold, serene,
On their feet with spring vines tangled and lapped in softest green."

"What," says the Princess Salm-Salm, "are the Central Park in New York, Regent's Park in London, the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the Bieberich Park on the Rhine, the Prater in Vienna,—nay, even the pride of Berlin, the Thiergarten,—what are they all in comparison with this venerable and delightful spot?"

The same bright and vivacious writer, who was in at the death of the empire, and performed daring deeds in defence of her hero, the Emperor, relates that the first night Maximilian and Carlotta occupied the castle, they were driven out of their rooms by mosquitoes, and pitched their beds on the open terrace.

Down beneath the hill, to the right, as we face the valley, is that grand memento of days gone by, the cypress of Montezuma, el arbol de Montezuma. It is undoubtedly one of those beneath which the Aztec sovereign meditated in the intervals of his sacrifices. Says one female writer, "There has the last of the Aztec emperors wandered with his dark-eyed harem." We suppose she must mean Montezuma, for his successor died so soon after his elevation to the throne that he had little time to wander; and Guatemotzin, stern and watchful chieftain, had no leisure left him by the assaults of the Spaniards. But if we are to believe the chroniclers, Montezuma, though he had an