Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/572

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TRAVELS IN MEXICO.

ous, and in the gardens and orchards are found fruits of the South, as well as of the North. Like Chihuahua, it carries on its commerce chiefly with the United States, and since the completion of the railroad this has grown rapidly; the population has nearly doubled in the past decade, and now numbers forty two thousand. The buildings of note are the hospital, college, convent, city hall, and bishop's palace. This last-named building, on a hill to the west of the city, is a prominent landmark, not only in the suburban scenery, but in the history of modern Mexico. In September, 1846, the American army of the North had advanced as far into Mexico as Monterey, the capital of New Leon, and the key to all the northern provinces. In the city was the Mexican general, Ampudia, with 10,000 men, and this force the Americans, under Taylor, though only 6,500 strong, assaulted in their stronghold. They commenced the attack on the 21st of September, and after fighting desperately from street to street, assailed from house-tops and terraces by the populace, as well as by the regular soldiery, they penetrated to the central plaza. The next day, the strong position of the bishop's palace was carried by storm, and the entire force of Ampudia captured.

El Monte Rey, the King's Mountain, was for many years, in early times, merely a frontier post of the advancing Spanish civilization. Its location, in a fertile valley supplied with large springs, which pour forth a great volume of water, was most advantageous for trade with the Indians. The streams from these springs flow through half the town, and about their banks are clustered the mud and cane houses of the lower classes. In a stroll, one morning, I encountered a full company of soldiers industriously washing their clothing, and the while it was drying bathing their persons in the swift waters. A thing that will strike a stranger as anomalous in Mexico is, that though every shop in every city keeps and sells vast quantities of soap, and though everybody in the neighborhood of a stream is constantly washing, both himself and his garments, yet every person of the lower order is as dirty as though just dipped in a city sewer. As this fact has come under my observation through