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Alexander von Humboldt: „Account of the Character and present Condition of the different Classes of Inhabitants in Mexico, or New Spain“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <https://humboldt.unibe.ch/text/1809-Voyage_de_MM-05-neu> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel Account of the Character and present Condition of the different Classes of Inhabitants in Mexico, or New Spain
Jahr 1810
Ort Edinburgh
Nachweis
in: The Scots Magazine, and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany 72 (1810), S. 916–920; 73 (1811), S. 17–22.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Schmuck: Initialen.
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-05-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 11
Spaltenanzahl: 21
Zeichenanzahl: 31958

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|916| |Spaltenumbruch|

Account of the Character and presentCondition of the different Classesof Inhabitants in Mexico, or NewSpain.(From Humboldt’s Travels.)

THE Mexican population is com-posed of the same elements asthe other Spanish colonies. Theyreckon seven races: 1st, the indivi-duals born in Europe, vulgarly call-ed Gachupines; 2d, the SpanishCreoles, or whites of European ex-traction born in America; 3d, theMestizos, descendants of whites andIndians; 4th, the Mulattos, descend-ants of whites and negroes; 5th, theZambos, descendants of negroes andIndians; 6th, the Indians, or copper-coloured indigenous race; and, 7th, the African Negroes. Abstractingthe subdivisions, there are fourcasts: the whites, comprehendedunder the general name of Span-iards; the negroes; the Indians; andthe men of mixed extraction, fromEuropeans, Africans, American In-dians, and Malays—for, from thefrequent communication between Acapulco and the Philippine Islands,many individuals of Asiatic origin,both Chinese and Malays, have set-tled in New Spain. A very general prejudice existsin Europe, that an exceeding smallnumber of the copper-coloured race,or descendants of the ancient Mexi-cans, remain at this day. The cruel-ty of the Europeans has entirely ex-tirpated the old inhabitants of theWest Indies. The continent of America, however, has witnessedno such horrible result. The num-ber of Indians in New Spain ex-ceeds two millions and a half, in-cluding only those who have nomixture of European or Africanblood. What is still more consol-atory, and we repeat it, is, that theindigenous population, far from de-clining, has been considerably on |Spaltenumbruch| the increase for the last fifty years,as is proved by the registers of ca-pitation or tribute. In general, the Indians appear toform two-fifths of the whole popula-tion of Mexico. In the four intend-ancies of Guanaxuato, Valladolid,Oaxaca, and La Puebla, this pro-portion amounts even to three-fifths.The enumeration of 1793 gave thefollowing result.
Names of in-tendancies. Total popu-lation. No. of Indians.
Guanaxuato...... 398,000...... 175,000
Valladolid........ 290,000...... 119,000
Puebla............. 633,000...... 416,000
Oaxaca............ 411,000...... 363,000
The Indians of New Spain bear ageneral resemblance to those whoinhabit Canada, Florida, Peru, andBrazil. They have the same swarthyand copper-colour, flat and smoothhair, small beard, squat body, longeye, with the corner directed up-wards towards the temples, promi-nent cheek-bones, thick lips, and anexpression of gentleness in the mouth,strongly contrasted with a gloomyand severe look. The Americanrace, after the hyperborean, isthe least numerous, but it occupiesthe greatest space on the globe.Over a million and a half of squareleagues, from the Terra del FuegoIslands to the river St Lawrenceand Bering’s Straits, we are struckat the first glance with the generalresemblance in the features of theinhabitants. We think we perceivethat they all descend from the samestock, notwithstanding the enor-mous diversity of language whichseparates them from one another.However, when we reflect more se-riously on this family likeness, afterliving longer among the indigenousAmericans, we discover, that cele-brated travellers, who could onlyobserve a few individuals on the |917| |Spaltenumbruch| coasts, have singularly exaggeratedthe analogy of form among the Ame-ricans. Intellectual cultivation is whatcontributes the most to diversifythe features. In barbarous nations,there is rather a physiognomy pe-culiar to the tribe or horde, than toany individual. When we compareour domestic animals with thosewhich inhabit our forests, we makethe same observation. But an Eu-ropean, when he decides on thegreat resemblance among the cop-per coloured races, is subject to aparticular illusion. He is struckwith a complexion so different fromour own, and the uniformity of thiscomplexion conceals, for a longtime, from him the diversity of in-dividual features. The new colonistcan hardly, at first, distinguish theindigenous, because his eyes are lessfixed on the gentle, melancholic, orferocious expression of the counte-nance, than on the red copperycolour, and the dark, luminous, andcoarse and glossy hair, so glossy,indeed, that we should believe it tobe in a constant state of humect-ation. In the portrait which we draw ofthe different races of men compos-ing the population of New Spain,we shall merely consider the Mexi-can Indian in his actual state. Weperceive in him neither that mobil-ity of sensation, gesture, and feature,nor that activity of mind, for whichseveral nations of the equinoxial re-gions ofAfricaare so advantageous-ly distinguished. There cannot exista more marked contrast than thatbetween the impetuous vivacity ofthe Congo negro, and the apparentphlegm of the Indian. From a feel-ing of this contrast, the Indian wo-men not only prefer the negroes tothe men of their own race, but alsoto the Europeans. The MexicanIndian is grave, melancholic, andsilent, so long as he is not under |Spaltenumbruch| the influence of intoxicating liquors.This gravity is particularly remark-able in Indian children, who, at theage of four or five, display muchmore intelligence and maturity thanwhite children. The Mexican lovesto throw a mysterious air over themost indifferent actions. The mostviolent passions are never paintedin his features; and there is some-thing frightful in seeing him passall at once from absolute repose toa state of violent and unrestrainedagitation. The Peruvian Indianpossesses more gentleness of man-ners; the energy of the Mexicandegenerates into harshness. Thesedifferences may have their origin inthe different religions and differentgovernments of the two countries informer times. This energy is dis-played particularly by the inhabit-ants of Tlascala. In the midst oftheir present degradation, the de-scendants of these republicans arestill to be distinguished by a certainhaughtiness of character, inspiredby the memory of their formergrandeur. The Americans, like the Hindoos,and other nations who have longgroaned under a civil and militarydespotism, adhere to their customs,manners, and opinions, with extra-ordinary obstinacy. I say opinions,for the introduction of Christianityhas produced almost no other effecton the Indians of Mexico than tosubstitute new ceremonies, the sym-bols of a gentle and humane reli-gion, to the ceremonies of a san-guinary worship. This change fromold to new rites was the effect ofconstraint, and not of persuasion,and was produced by political eventsalone. In the new continent, as wellas in the old, half civilized nationswere accustomed to receive fromthe hands of the conqueror newlaws and new divinities; and thevanquished Indian gods appearedto them to yield to the gods of the |918| |Spaltenumbruch| strangers. In such a complicatedmythology as that of the Mexicans,it was easy to find out an affinitybetween the divinities of Aztlan and the divinity of the east. Cortez even very artfully took advantageof a popular tradition, according towhich the Spaniards were merelythe descendants of king Quitzal-coatl, who left Mexico for countriessituated in the east, to carry amongthem civilization and laws. Theritual books, composed by the In-dians, in hieroglyphics, at the be-ginning of the conquest, of which Ipossess several fragments, evident-ly shew that, at that period, Christ-ianity was confounded with theMexican mythology: — the HolyGhost is identified with the sacredeagle of the Aztecs. The mission-aries not only tolerated, they evenfavoured to a certain extent, thisamalgamation of ideas, by means ofwhich the Christian worship wasmore easily introduced among thenatives. They persuaded them thatthe gospel had, in very remotetimes, been already preached in America; and they investigated itstraces in the Aztec ritual with thesame ardour which the learned,who, in our days, engage in thestudy of the Sanscrit, display in dis-cussing the analogy between theGreek mythology and that of theGanges and the Barampooter. These circumstances, which willbe detailed in another work, ex-plain why the Mexican Indians,notwithstanding the obstinacy withwhich they adhere to whatever isderived from their fathers, have soeasily forgotten their ancient rites.Dogma has not succeeded to dogma,but ceremony to ceremony. Thenatives know nothing of religionbut the exterior forms of worship.Fond of whatever is connected witha prescribed order of ceremonies,they find, in the Christian religion,particular enjoyments. The festi- |Spaltenumbruch| vals of the church—the fireworkswith which they are accompanied—the processions, mingled with dancesand whimsical disguises, are a mostfertile source of amusement for thelower Indians. In these festivals,the national character is displayedin all its individuality. Every wherethe Christians have assumed theshades of the country where theyhave been transplanted. In thePhilippine and Mariana islands thenatives of the Malay race have in-corporated them with the ceremo-nies which are peculiar to them-selves; and, in the province ofPasto, on the ridge of the Cordil-lera of the Andes, I have seen Indi-ans, masked and adorned with smalltinkling bells, perform savage dancesaround the altar, while a Monk ofSt Francis elevated the host. Accustomed to a long slavery,as well under the domination oftheir own sovereigns as under thatof the first conquerors, the nativesof Mexico patiently suffer the vex-ations to which they are frequentlyexposed from the whites. Theyoppose to them only a cunning,veiled under the most deceitful ap-pearances of apathy and stupidity.As the Indian can very rarely re-venge himself on the Spaniards, hedelights in making a common causewith them for the oppression of hisown fellow-citizens. Harassed forages, and compelled to a blind obe-dience, he wishes to tyrannize inhis turn. The Indian villagers aregoverned by magistrates of the cop-per coloured race; and an Indianalcalde exercises his power with somuch the greater severity, becausehe is sure of being supported by thepriest or the Spanish subdelegado.Oppression produces, every where,the same effects; it every wherecorrupts the morals. As the Indians, almost all of them,belong to the class of peasantry andlow people, it is not so easy to judge |919| |Spaltenumbruch| of their aptitude for the arts whichembellish life. I know no race ofmen which appear more destitute ofimagination. When an Indian at-tains a certain degree of civiliza-tion, he displays a great facility ofapprehension—a judicious mind—anatural logic—and a particular dis-position to subtilize or seize thefinest differences in the comparisonof objects. He reasons coolly andorderly; but he never manifeststhat versatility of imagination—thatglow of sentiment—and that crea-tive and animating art, which cha-racterize the nations of the south of Europe, and several tribes of Afri-can negroes. I deliver this opinion,however, with great reserve. Weought to be infinitely circumspectin pronouncing, on the moral orintellectual dispositions of nations,from which we are separated by themultiplied obstacles which resultfrom a difference in language, anda difference of manners and cus-toms. A philosophical observerfinds what has been printed in thecentre of Europe, on the nationalcharacter of the French, Italians,and Germans, inaccurate. How,then, should a traveller, after mere-ly landing in an island, or remain-ing only a short time in a distantcountry, arrogate to himself theright of deciding on the differentfaculties of the soul, on the prepon-derance of reason, wit, or imagina-tion, among nations. The music and dancing of the na-tives partake of this want of gaietywhich characterizes them. M. Bon-pland and myself observed the samething in all South America. Theirsongs are terrific and melancholic.The Indian women shew more viva-city than the men; but they sharethe usual misfortunes of tbe servi-tude to which the sex is condemn-ed among nations, where civiliza-tion is in its infancy. The womentake no share in the dancing; but |Spaltenumbruch| they remain present to offer fer-mented draughts to the dancers,prepared by their own hands. The Mexicans have preserved aparticular relish for painting, andfor the art of carving on wood orstone. We are astonished at whatthey are able to execute with a badknife on the hardest wood. Theyare particularly fond of paintingimages, and carving statues ofsaints. They have been servilelyimitating, for these three hundredyears, the models which the Euro-peans imported with them at theconquest. This imitation is derivedfrom a religious principle of a veryremote origin. In Mexico, as inHindostan, it was not allowable inthe faithful to change the figure oftheir idols in the smallest degree.Whatever made a part of the Asia-tic or Hindoo ritual, was subjectedto immutable laws. For this rea-son, we shall form a very imperfectjudgment of the state of the arts,and the natural state of these na-tions, if we merely consider themonstrous figures under which theyrepresent their divinities. TheChristian images have preserved inMexico a part of that stiffness andthat hardness of feature, which cha-racterize the hieroglyphical picturesof the age of Montezuma. ManyIndian children, educated in thecollege of the capital, or instructedat the academy of painting foundedby the king, have no doubt distin-guished themselves; but it is muchless by their genius than their ap-plication. Without ever leaving thebeaten track, they display great ap-titude in the exercise of the arts ofimitation, and they display a muchgreater still for the purely mechani-cal arts. This aptitude cannot failof becoming some day very valuable,when the manufactures shall taketheir flight to a country where aregenerating government yet re-mains to be created. |920| |Spaltenumbruch| The Mexican Indians have pre-served the same taste for flowerswhich Cortez found in his time. Anosegay was the most valuable treatwhich could be made to the ambas-sadors who visited the court of Mon-tezuma. This monarch and his pre-decessors had a great number of rareplants in the gardens of Istapalapan.The famous hand-tree, the cheiros-temen deseribed by M. Cervantes,of which, for a long time, only asingle individual was known of veryhigh antiquity, appears to indicate,that the kings of Toluca cultivatedalso trees, strangers to that part ofMexico. Cortez, in his letters tothe Emperor Charles the Fifth, fre-quently boasts of the industry whichthe Mexicans displayed in garden-ing; and he complains, that theydid not send him the seeds of orna-mental flowers and useful plants,which he demanded for his friendsof Seville and Madrid. The tastefor flowers, undoubtedly, indicatesa relish for the beautiful; and we are astonished at finding it in a na-tion in which a sanguinary worship,and the frequency of sacrifices ap-peared to have extinguished what-ever related to the sensibility of thesoul, and kindness of affection. Inthe great market-place of Mexico,the native sells no peaches, noronions, nor roots, nor pulque, (thefermented juice of the agave), with-out having his shop ornamentedwith flowers, which are every dayrenewed. The Indian merchant ap-pears seated in an entrenchment ofverdure. A hedge, of a metre inheight, with delicate leaves, sur-rounds, like a semicircular wall, itsfruits offered to public sale. Thebottom, of a smooth green, is dividedby garlands of flowers, which runparallel to one another. Small nose-gays, placed symmetrically betweenthe festoons, give this inclosure theappearance of a carpet strewn withflowers. The European, who de- |Spaltenumbruch| lights in studying the customs ofthe lower people, cannot help be-ing struck with the care and ele-gance the natives display in distri-buting the fruits which they sell insmall cages of very light wood.The sapatolles (achras), the mam-mea pears, and raisins, occupy thebottom, while the top is ornament-ed with odoriferous flowers. Thisart of entwining fruits and flowers,had its origin, perhaps, in that hap-py period, when, long before theintroduction of inhuman rites, thefirst inhabitants of Anachuac, likethe Peruvians, offered up to thegreat spirit Teoil the first fruits oftheir harvest. (To be continued.)
|17| |Spaltenumbruch| |Spaltenumbruch|

Account of the Character and presentCondition of the different Classesof Inhabitants in Mexico, or NewSpain.(From Humboldt’s Travels.) (Continued from p. 920.)

AMONG the inhabitants of pureorigin, the whites would oc-cupy the second place, consideringthem only in the relation of number.They are divided into whites bornin Europe, and descendants of Eu-ropeans born in the Spanish co-lonies of America, or in the Asiaticislands. The former bear the nameof Chapetones or Gachupines, andthe second that of Creoles. Thenatives of the Canary islands, whogo under the denomination of Islenos,(islanders) and who are the gerans of the plantations, are consideredas Europeans. The Spanish lawsallow the same rights to all whites;but those who have the executionof the laws, endeavour to destroy |18| |Spaltenumbruch|an equality which shocks the Eu-ropean pride. The government,suspicious of the Creoles, bestowsthe great places exclusively on thenatives of Old Spain. For someyears back, they have disposed, atMadrid, even of the most triflingemployments in the administrationof the customs and the tobacco re-venue. At an epoch, when everything tended to an uniform relaxa-tion in the springs of the state, thesystem of venality made an alarm-ing progress. For the most part,it was by no means a suspicious anddistrustful policy, it was pecuniaryinterest alone which bestowed allemployments on Europeans. Theresult has been a jealousy and per-petual hatred between the Chape-tons and the Creoles. The mostmiserable European, without edu-cation, and without intellectual cul-tivation, thinks himself superior tothe whites born in the new conti-nent. He knows that, protected byhis countrymen, and favoured bychances common enough in a coun-try where fortunes are as rapidlyacquired as they are lost, he mayone day reach places to which theaccess is almost interdicted to thenatives, even to those of them dis-tinguished for their talents, know-ledge, and moral qualities. Thenatives prefer the denomination ofAmericans to that of Creoles. Sincethe peace of Versailles, and, in par-ticular, since the year 1789, wefrequently hear proudly declared:‘I am not a Spaniard, I am an A-merican’, words which betray theworkings of a long resentment.In the eye of law, every whiteCreole is a Spaniard; but the abuseof the laws, the false measures ofthe colonial government, the ex-ample of the United States of A-merica, and the influence of theopinions of the age, have relaxedthe ties which formerly united moreclosely the Spanish Creoles to the |Spaltenumbruch|European Spaniards. A wise ad-ministration may re-establish har-mony, calm their passions and re-sentments, and yet preserve for along time the union among themembers of one and the same greatfamily, scattered over Europe and America, from the Patagonian coastto the north of California. The Spanish laws prohibit allentry into the American posses-sions, to every European not bornin the peninsula. The words Eu-ropean and Spaniard are becomesynonimous in Mexico and Peru.The inhabitants of the remote pro-vinces have, therefore, a difficultyin conceiving that there can be Eu-ropeans that do not speak theirlanguage; and they consider thisignorance as a mark of low extrac-tion; because, every where aroundthem, all except the very lowestclass of people; speak Spanish.Better acquainted with the historyof the 16th century than with thatof our own times; they imaginethat Spain continues to possess adecided preponderance over the restof Europe. To them the peninsulaappears the very centre of Europe-an civilization. It is otherwisewith the Americans of the capital.There of them who are acquaintedwith the French or English litera-ture, fall easily into a contrary ex-treme, and have still a more un-favouarble opinion of the mothercountry, than the French had at atime when communication was lessfrequent between Spain and therest of Europe. They prefer stran-gers from other countries, to theSpaniards; and they flatter them-selves with the idea that intellectualcultivation has make more rapidprogress in the colonies than in thepeninsula. This progress is indeed very re-markable at the Havanah, Lima,Santa Fe, Quito, Popayan, andCaraccas. Of all these great cities, |19| |Spaltenumbruch|the Havanna bears the greatest re-semblance to those of Europe incustoms, refinements of luxury, andthe tone of society. At Havanna,the state of politics and their influ-ence on commerce, is best under-stood. However, notwithstandingthe efforts ot the patriotic society ofthe island of Cuba, which encou-rages the sciences with the mostgenerous zeal; they prosper veryslowly in a country where cultiva-tion and colonial produce engrossthe whole attention of the inhabit-ants. The study of the mathema-tics, chemistry, minerallogy, andbotany, is more general at Mexico,Santa Fe, and Lima. We everywhere observe a great intellectualactivity, and among the youth awonderful facility of seizing theprinciples of science. It is said,that this facility is still more re-markable among the inhabitants ofQuito and Lima, than at Mexicoand Santa Fe. The former appearto possess more versatility of mind,and a more lively imagination, whilethe Mexicans, and the natives ofSanta Fe, have the reputation ofgreater perseverance in the studiesto which they have once addictedthemselves. No city of the new continent,without even excepting those of theUnited States, can display suchgreat and solid scientific establish-ments as the capital of Mexico. Ishall content myself here with theschool of Mines, directed by thelearned Elhuyar, to which we shallreturn when we come to speak ofthe Mines, the Botanic Garden, andthe Academy of Painting and Sculp-ture. This Academy bears the titleof Academia de los Nobles Artes deMexico. It owes its existence to thepatriotism of several Mexican indi-viduals, and to the protection of theminister of Galvez. The governmentassigned it a spacious building, inwhich there is a much finer and |Spaltenumbruch|more complete collection of caststhan is to be found in any part ofGermany. We are astonished onseeing that the Apollo of Belvedere,the group of Laocoon, and stillmore colossal statues, have beenconveyed through mountains, atleast, as narrow as those of St.Gothard; and we are surprised atfinding these masterpieces of an-tiquity collected together, underthe torrid zone, in a table-landhigher than the convent of the greatSt. Bernard. The collection of castsbrought to Mexico, cost the king200,000 francs. The remains of theMexican sculpture, those colossalstatues of basaltes and porphyry,which are covered with antique hie-roglyphics, and bear some relationto the Egyptian and Hindoo style,ought to be collected together inthe edifice of the Academy, orrather in one of the courts whichbelong to it. It would be curiousto see these monuments of the firstcultivation of our species, the worksof a semi-barbarous people, inhabit-ing the Mexican Andes, placed be-side the beautiful forms producedunder the sky of Greece and Italy. The revenues of the academy offine arts at Mexico amount to125,000 francs, of which the go-vernment gives 60,000, the body ofMexican miners nearly 25,000, theconsulado, or association of mer-chants of the capital, more than1,500. It is impossible not to per-ceive the influence of this establish-ment on the taste of the nation.This influence is particularly visiblein the symmetry of the buildings,in the perfection with which thehewing of stone is conducted, andin the ornaments of the capitals andstucco relievos. What a numberof beautiful edifices are to be seenat Mexico, nay, even in provincialtowns like Guanaxato and Quere-taro. These monuments, whichfrequently cost a million and a half |20| |Spaltenumbruch|of francs, would appear to advan-tage in the finest streets of Paris,Berlin, and Petersburg. M. Tolsa,Professor of Sculpture at Mexico,was even able to cast an equestrianstatue of King Charles the Fourth;a work which, with the exceptionof the Marcus Aurelius, at Rome,surpasses in beauty, in purity ofstile, every thing which remains inthis way in Europe. Instruction iscommunicated gratis at the Acade-my of Fine Arts. It is not confin-ed alone to the drawing of land-scapes and figures; they have hadthe good sense to employ othermeans for exciting the national in-dustry. The academy labours suc-cessfully to introduce among theartisans a taste for elegance andbeautiful forms. Large rooms, welllighted by Argand’s lamps, contain,every evening some hundreds ofyoung people, of whom some drawfrom relievos or living models, whileothers copy drawings of furniture,chandeliers, or other ornaments inbronze. In this assemblage, (andthis is very remarkable in the midstof a country where the prejudicesagainst the casts are so inveterate),rank, colour, and race is confound-ed; we see the Indian and the Mexi-can sitting beside the white, andthe son of a poor artisan in emula-tion with the children of the greatlords of the country. It is a con-solation to observe, that, underevery zone, the cultivation of sci-ence and art, establishes a certain e-quality among men, and obliterate,for a time at least, all these pettypassions, of which the effects are soprejudicial to social happiness. If, in the present state of things,the cast of whites is the only one inwhich we find almost exclusivelyany thing like intellectual cultiva-tion, it is also the only one whichpossesses great wealth. This wealthis, unfortunately, still more une-qually distributed in Mexico than |Spaltenumbruch|in the capitania general of Caraccas.There the heads of the richest familiespossess a revenue of 200,000 livres.In the island of Cuba, we find re-venues of more than 6 or 700,000francs. In these two industriouscolonies, agriculture has foundedmore considerable fortunes than hasbeen accumulated by the workingof the mines in Peru. At Lima, anannual revenue of 80,000 francs isvery uncommon. I know in reali-ty, of no Peruvian family in thepossession of a fixed and sure re-venue of 100,000 francs. But, inNew Spain, there are individu-als who possess no mines, whose re-venue amounts to a million of francs.The family of the Count de laValenciana, for example, possessesalone, on the ridge of the Cordil-lera, a property worth more than25 millions of francs, without in-cluding the mine of Valenciana,near Guanaxuato, which, communi-bus annis, yields a net revenueof a million and a half of livres.This family, of which the presenthead, the young Count de Valen-ciana, is distinguished for a gener-ous character, and a noble desireof instruction, is only divided intothree branches; and they possessaltogether, even in years when themine is not very lucrative, morethan 20,000,000 francs of revenue.The Count de Oregla, whose young-est son, the Marquis de San Chris-tobal, distinguished himself at Parisfor his physical and physiologicalknowledge, constructed at the Ha-vanah, at his own expence, inacajou and cedar (cedrella) wood,two vessels of the line of the largestsize, which he made a present ofto his sovereign. It was the seamof la Bescaina, near Pachuca, whichlaid the foundation of the fortuneof the house of Aregla. The familyof Fagoaga, well known for its be-neficence, intelligence, and zeal forthe public good, exhibits the ex- |21| |Spaltenumbruch|ample of the greatest wealth whichwas ever derived from a mine. Asingle seam, which the family ofthe Marquis of Fagoaga possessesin the district of Sombrerete, left,in five or six months, all chargesdeducted, a net profit of 20 millionsof francs. From these data, one would sup-pose capitals in the Mexican fami-lies infinitely greater than what arereally observed. The deceasedCount de la Valenciana, the firstof the title, sometimes drew fromhis mine alone, in one year, a netrevenue of no less than six millionsof livres. This annual revenue, dur-ing the last twenty-five years of hislife, was never below from two tothree millions of livres; and yet thisextraordinary man, who came with-out any fortune to America, andwho continued to live with greatsimplicity, left only behind him athis death, besides his mine, whichis the richest in the world, ten mil-lions in property and capital. Thisfact, which may be relied on, willnot surprise those who are acquaint-ed with the interior management ofthe great Mexican houses. Moneyrapidly gained is as rapidly spent.The working of mines becomesa game in which they embark withunbounded passion. The rich pro-prietors of mines lavish immensesums on quacks, who engage them innew undertakings in the most remoteprovinces. In a country where theworks are conducted on such anextravagant scale, that the pit of amine frequently requires two mil-lions of francs to pierce,—the badsuccess of a rash project may ab-sorb, in a few years, all that wasgained in working the richest seams.We must add, that from the internaldisorder which prevails in the great-est part of the great houses of bothOld and New Spain, the head of afamily is not unfrequently straitened |Spaltenumbruch|with a revenue of half a million,though he display no other luxurythan that of numerous yokes of mules. In a country governed by whites,the families reputed to have theleast mixture of negro or mulattoblood, are also naturally the mosthonoured. In Spain, it is almost atitle of nobility to descend neitherfrom Jews nor Moors. In America,the greater or less degree of white-ness of skin decides the rank whichman occupies in society. A white,who rides barefooted on horseback,thinks he belongs to the nobility ofthe country. Colour establishes evena certain equality among men, who,as is universally the case wherecivilization ist either little advanced,or in a retrograde state, take a par-ticular pleasure dwelling on the pre-rogatives of race and origin. Whena common man disputes with one ofthe titled lords of the country, he isfrequently heard to say, Do youthink me not so white as yourself?This may serve to characterize thestate and source of the actual aris-tocracy. It becomes consequentlya very interesting business for thepublic vanity to estimate accuratelythe fractions of European bloodwhich belong to the different casts.According to the principle sanc-tioned by usage, we have adoptedthe following proportions:—
Casts. Mixture of blood.
Quarterons......... \( \frac{1}{4} \) negro \( \frac{3}{4} \)white.
Quinterons......... \( \frac{1}{8} \) negro \( \frac{7}{8} \)white.
Zambo............... \( \frac{3}{8} \) negro \( \frac{1}{4} \)white.
Zambo prieto..... \( \frac{7}{8} \) negro \( \frac{1}{8} \)white.
It often happens, that familiessuspected of being of mixed blood,demand from the high court of jus-tice (audiencia), to have it declaredthat they belong to the whites.These declarations are not alwayscorroborated by the judgment ofthe senses. We see very swarthy |22| |Spaltenumbruch|mulattoes who have had the addressto get themselves whitened, (this isthe vulgar expression.) When thecolour of the skin is too repugnantto the judgment demanded, the pe-titioner is contented with an expres-sion somewhat problematical. Thesentence then simply bears, thatsuch or such individuals may con-sider themselves as whites; (que atengan por blancos.)