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Alexander von Humboldt: „Humboldt’s History of New Spain“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 23.07.2024].

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Titel Humboldt’s History of New Spain
Jahr 1811
Ort Worcester, Massachusetts
in: Massachusetts Spy, or Worcester Gazette 40:1991 (5. Juni 1811), S. [4].
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Schmuck: Initialen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-10-neu
Seitenanzahl: 1
Spaltenanzahl: 2
Zeichenanzahl: 5281

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The “Literary Panorama” contains avery excellent review of Humboldt’sPolitical Essay on the Kingdom of NewSpain. We shall present our readerswith frequent extracts from this valu-able track of information. At presentwe have only room for the following: [Boston Gazette. The condition of man is the mostinteresting object in every coun-try; and we confess ourselves gratifiedby finding that in New Spain the num-ber of slaves [negroes] is comparativelyfew, and the state of the Indians is lessunhappy than we had been accustomedto suppose. We extract with pleasurea passage from which it appears that themines, though a considerable source ofwealth, are not the only, or even the chief wealth of the province of Mexico. “The Indian cultivator is poor, but heis free. His state is even greatly pref-erable to that of the peasantry in a great-er part of the north of Europe. Thereare neither corvees nor villanage in NewSpain; and the number of slaves is nextto nothing. Sugar is chiefly the pro-duce of free hands. There the princi-pal objects of agriculture are not theproductions to which European luxuryhas assigned a variable and arbitrary val-ue, but cereal gramina, nutrive roots,and the agave, the vine of the Indians.The appearance of the country proclaimsto the traveller, that the soil nourisheshim who cultivates it, and that the trueprosperity of the Mexican people neitherdepends on the accidents of foreigncommerce, nor on the unruly politicksof Europe. “Those who only know the interiourof the Spanish colonies from the vagueand uncertain notions hitherto published,will have some difficulty in believing thatthe principal sources of the Mexicanriches are by no means the mines; butan agriculture which has been graduallyameliorating since the end of the lastcentury. Without reflecting on theimmense extent of the country, and es-pecially the great number of provinceswhich appear totally destitute of preciousmetals, we generally imagine that all theactivity of the Mexican population is di-rected to the working of the mines. Be-cause the agriculture has made a veryconsiderable progress in the capitaniageneral of Caraccas, in the kingdom ofGuatimala, the island of Cuba, and wher-ever the mountains are accounted poorin mineral productions, it has been in-ferred that it is to the working of themines that we are to attribute the smallcare bestowed on the cultivation of thesoil in other parts of the Spanish colo-nies. This reasoning is just when ap-plied to small portions of territory. Nodoubt in the provinces of Choco and An-tioqua, and the coast of Barbacoas, theinhabitants are fonder of seeking forgold washed down in the brooks and ra-vines, than of cultivating a virgin and|Spaltenumbruch|fertile soil; and in the beginning of theconquest, the Spaniards who abandonedthe peninsula or Canary islands, to set-tle in Peru and Mexico, had no otherview but the discovery of the preciousmetals. Auri rabida sitis a cultura. His-panos divertit, says a writer of thosetimes, Pedro Martyr, in his work on thediscovery of Yutacan and the coloniza-tion of the Antilles. “In Mexico, the best cultivated fields,those which recall to the mind of thetraveller the beautiful plains of France,are those which extend from Salamancatowards Siloe, Guanaxuato, and the Vil-la de Leon, and which surround therichest mines of the known world.Wherever metallick seams have beendiscovered in the most uncultivated partsof the Cordilleras, on the insulated anddesert table lands, the working of mines,far from impeding the cultivation of thesoil, has been singularly favourable to it.Travelling along the ridge of the An-dees, or the mountainous part of Mexico,we every where see the most strikingexamples of the beneficial influence ofthe mines on agriculture. Were it notfor the establishments formed for theworking of the mines, how many placeswould have remained desert? Howmany districts uncultivated in the fourintendancies of Guanaxuato, Zacatecas,San Luis Potosi, and Durango, betweenthe parallels of 21 and 25 where themost considerable metallick wealth ofNew Spain is to be found? If the townis placed on the arid side, or the crest ofthe Cordilleras, the new colonists canonly draw from a distance the meansof their subsistence, and the maintenanceof the great number of cattle employedin drawing off the water, and raising andamalgamating the mineral produce.Want soon awakens industry.—The soilbegins to be cultivated in the ravines anddeclivities of the neighbouring moun-tains, wherever the rock is covered withearth. Farms are established in theneighbourhood of the mine. The highprice of provision, from the competitionof the purchasers indemnifies the culti-vator for the privations to which he isexposed, from the hard life of the moun-tains. Thus, from the hope of gainalone, and the motives of mutual inter-est, which are the most powerful bondsof society, and without any interferenceon the part of the government in coloni-zation, a mine which, at first appearedinsulated in the midst of wild and desertmountains, becomes, in a short time,connected with the lands which havelong been under cultivation.”