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Mexico and Its Religion

Library of Alexandria
The custom of mingling together historical events with the incidents of travel, of amusement with instruction, is rather a Spanish than American practice; and in adopting it, I must crave the indulgence of those of my readers who read only for instruction, as well as of those who read only for amusement. The evidence that I have adduced to prove that the yellow fever is not an American, but an African disease, imported in slave-ships, and periodically renewed from those cargoes of human rottenness and putrefaction, I hope will be duly considered. The picture of inner convent life, and the inimitable gambling scene in the convent of San Francis, I have not dared to present on my own responsibility, nor even that of the old English black-letter edition of Friar Thomas, but I have reproduced it from the expurgated Spanish edition, which has passed the censors, and must therefore be considered official. I have presumed to follow the great Las Casas, who called all the historians of the Conquest of Mexico liars; and though his labored refutation of their fictions has disappeared, yet, fortunately, the natural evidences of their untruth still remain. Having before me the surveys and the levels of our own engineers, I have presumed to doubt that water ever ran up hill, that navigable canals were ever fed by “back water,” that pyramids (teocalli) could rest on a foundation of soft earth, that a canal twelve feet broad by twelve feet deep, mostly below the water level, was ever dug by Indians with their rude implements, that gardens ever floated in mud, or that brigantines ever sailed in a salt marsh, or even that 100,000 men ever entered the mud-built city of Mexico by a narrow causeway in the morning, and after fighting all day returned by the same path at night to their camp, or that so large a besieging army as 150,000 men could be supported in a salt-marsh valley, surrounded by high mountains