Historical Reprints History Mexico: Land of Mystery & Enchantment

Mexico: Land of Mystery & Enchantment

Mexico: Land of Mystery & Enchantment
Catalog # SKU2294
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name C. Reginald Enock
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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Land of Mystery & Enchantment

Its Ancient And Modern Civilisation
History And Political Conditions
Topography And Natural Resources
Industries And General Development

C. Reginald Enock
Civil And Mining Engineer
75 Illustrations

Mexico, superfluous to say, is not part of South America. But it is part of that vast Spanish-speaking New World whose development holds much of interest; and which may occupy a more important part in coming years than is generally thought of at present.



"From what I have seen and heard concerning the similarity between this country and Spain, its fertility, its extent, its climate, and in many other features of it, it seemed to me that the most suitable name for this country would be New Spain, and thus, in the name of your Majesty, I have christened it. I humbly supplicate your Majesty to approve of this and order that it be so called." Thus wrote Hernan Cortes, the greatest natural leader of men since Julius Cæsar, to the sovereign whom he endowed, as he subsequently told him bitterly, with provinces more numerous than the cities he had inherited from his forefathers. From the first appearance of the Spaniards upon the vast elevated plateau upon which the Aztec empire stood the invaders were struck by its resemblance in climate and natural products to their European homeland.

In his first letter to the Emperor Cortes wrote: "The sea coast is low, with many sandhills.... The country beyond these sandhills is level with many fertile plains, in which are such beautiful river banks that in all Spain there can be found no better. These are as grateful to the view as they are productive in everything sown in them, and very orderly and well kept with roads and convenience for pasturing all sorts of cattle. There is every kind of game in this country, and animals and birds such as are familiar to us at home.... So that there is no difference between this country and Spain as regards birds and animals.... According to our judgment it is credible that there is everything in this country which existed in that from whence Solomon is said to have brought the gold for the Temple."

Here, for the first time, the Spanish explorers in their wanderings had come across an organised nation with an advanced civilisation and polity of its own. The gentle savages they had encountered in the tropical islands and the mainland of the isthmus had offered little or no resistance to the white men or to their uncomprehended God. The little kinglets of Hispaniola, of Cuba, and of Darien, divided, unsophisticated, and wonder-stricken, with their peoples bent their necks to the yoke and their backs to the lash almost without a struggle.

Their moist tropical lands, near the coasts, were enervating, and no united organisation for defence against the enslaving intruders was possible to them. But here in the land of the Aztec federation three potent states, with vast dependencies from which countless hordes of warriors might be drawn, were ready to stand shoulder to shoulder and resist the claims of the white demi-gods, mounted on strange beasts, who came upon giant sea-birds from the unknown, beyond the waste of waters. But the fatal prophecy of the coming of the avenging white God Quetzalcoatl to destroy the Aztec power paralysed the arm and brain of Montezuma, and rendered him, and finally his people, a prey to the diplomacy, the daring, and the valour of Cortes, aided by the dissentient tribes he enlisted under his banner.

The vast amphibious city of Tenochtitlan, when at length the Conquerors reached it, confirmed the impression that the land of which it was the capital was another wider and richer Spain. Its teeming markets, "one square twice as large as that of Salamanca, all surrounded by arcades, where there are daily more than sixty thousand souls buying and selling"; the abundance of food and articles of advanced comfort and luxury, "the cherries and plums like those of Spain"; "the skeins of different kinds of spun silk in all colours, that might be from one of the markets of Granada"; "the porters such as in Castile do carry burdens"; the great temple, of which "no human tongue is able to describe the greatness and beauty ... the principal tower of which is higher than the great tower of Seville Cathedral"-all reminded Cortes of his native Spain. "I will only say of this city," he concludes, "that in the service and manners of its people their fashion of living is almost the same as in Spain, with just as much harmony and order; and considering that these people were barbarous, so cut off from the knowledge of God and of other civilised people, it is marvellous to see to what they have attained in every respect." Thus New Spain was marked out of all the dominions of Spanish Indies as that which was in closest relationship with the mother country.

The conquest and subjection of New Spain synchronised curiously with the profound crisis in, and the conquest and domination of, Old Spain by its own king, a governing genius and leader of men almost as great as was the obscure Estramaduran squireling who was adding to the newly unified crown of Spain that which was to be its richest jewel in the West. When Cortes penned his first letter to the future Emperor and his mad mother in July, 1519, telling them of the new found land, Spain was in the throes of a great convulsion. The young Flemish prince had been called to his great inheritance by the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand the Catholic, and the incapacity of his Spanish mother, Queen Juana. Charles had come to the country upon which, in a financial sense, the burden of his future widespread empire was to depend, with little understanding of the proud and ardent people over whom he was to rule. He spoke no Spanish, and he was surrounded by greedy Flemish courtiers dressed in outlandish garb, speaking in a strange tongue, and looking upon the realm of their prince as a fat pasture upon which, locust like, they might batten with impunity.

The Spaniards had frowned to see the great Cardinal Jimenez curtly dismissed by the boy sovereign whose crown he had saved; they clamoured indignantly when the Flemings cast themselves upon the resources of Castile and claimed the best offices civil and ecclesiastical; they sternly insisted upon the young king taking a solemn oath that Spain in future should be for the Spaniards; and when tardily and sulkily they voted supplies of money the grant was saddled with many irritating conditions.

When the letter of Cortes arrived in Spain Charles was at close grips with his outraged people, for he had broken all his promises to them.

250+ pages - 10¾ x 8¼ softcover

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