In his twenties he was posted to the Mexican legation in Madrid, during the embassy of his friend Vicente Riva Palacio; he became ambassador to Germany and to Spain; known at first for his poems, he achieved some notoriety with his Examen de críticos (1894). In 1901 appeared his Novelas ejemplares de Cervantes which was acclaimed and gained him membership in the Ateneo de Madrid. He published further scholarly works of literary history and was a corresponding member of the Mexican and Spanish Academies. His visit to his homeland was marred by the nationalist polemic that surrounded his critical Diccionario autobiográfico de conquistadores y pobladores de la Nueva España (Madrid, 1923).
Dale limosna, mujer, que no hay en la vida nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada.
Give him alms, woman, for in this life there is nothing so pitiable as to be blind in Granada