STARR IN OLD MEXICO
Oaxaca, Mexico, March 1.—Prof. Frederick Starr, of the University of Chicago, is deep in the midst of his savages. He is manipulating primitive town governments, wielding the authority of federal and state governments, county police, and that of the clergy as well. He is threatening, cajoling, clapping in jail, when necessary, and in general conquering his series of strange nations. I found him doing all this, and more, in a little native village fifty miles from the city of Oaxaca, Feb. 2nd. The fat little man was complete master of the Zapotec town of Mitla, far distant from the end of the last of the railroads, a town famous for its ruins. He bustled about like a captain in a war haste, dressed in a massive Indian sombrero, from which a white string floated picturesquely behind, a necktie of slim, dusty black, which seemed not to have been unknotted for many a day, a shirt less immaculate than the one he may wear at the entertainment shortly to be given him in London, and no coat. The professor’s trousers are not Indian. They are farm trousers, of an original type, with double seat for the saddle.
The professor’s blood was up. A grand native feast—in which drunken dances, bull-fights, and a state of accumulated irresponsibility are the rule—had delayed him three days. The Indians could no more be measured and “busted”—as the professor calls the making of plaster casts—than could the liquor they had drunk. After three days of pleading, threatening, and berating, in which orders from every government and church official in the country, from lowest to highest, had failed, Prof. Starr seized the black-bearded and wiry president of the town council, the chief potentate of the reeling set, called him a drunken scoundrel, threatened in deep seriousness to imprison every man in the town, and finally won his point—but not until the feast was done. When feasts are over, the people are kindly, suave, gracious.