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Alexander von Humboldt: „Present State of the Kingdom of Mexico“, 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 Present State of the Kingdom of Mexico
Jahr 1811
Ort London
in: The New Annual Register, or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature (1811), S. 135–149.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua; Spaltensatz; Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Fußnoten mit Asterisken und Kreuzen; Schmuck: Initialen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-18-neu
Seitenanzahl: 15
Spaltenanzahl: 33
Zeichenanzahl: 46199

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Present State of the Kingdom of Mexico. [From Mr. Black’s Translation of M. de Humboldt’s PoliticalEssay.]

|Spaltenumbruch| AMONGST the inhabitants ofpure origin, the whites wouldoccupy the second place, consider-ing them only in the relation ofnumber. They are divided intowhites born in Europe, and de-scendants of Europeans born in the Spanish colonies of America, or inthe Asiatic islands. The formerbear the name of Chapetones or Ga-chupines, and the second that of Criollos. The natives of the Ca-nary islands, who go under thegeneral denomination of Isleños (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 anequality which shocks the Europeanpride. The government, suspiciousof the Creoles, bestows the greatplaces exclusively on the natives of Old Spain. For some years back |Spaltenumbruch|they have disposed at Madrid evenof the most trifling employments inthe administration of the customsand the tobacco revenue. At anepoch when every thing tended toan uniform relaxation in the springsof the state, the system of venalitymade an alarming progress. Forthe most part it was by no means asuspicious and distrustful policy, itwas pecuniary interest alone, whichbestowed all employments on Eu-ropeans. The result has been a jea-lousy and perpetual hatred betweenthe Chapetons and the Creoles. Themost miserable European, withouteducation, and without intellectualcultivation, thinks himself superiorto the whites born in the new con-tinent. He knows that, protectedby his countrymen, and favouredby chances common enough in acountry where fortunes are as ra-pidly acquired as they are lost, hemay one day reach places, to which |136| |Spaltenumbruch|the access is almost interdicted tothe natives, even to those of themdistinguished for their talents, know-ledge, and moral qualities. Thenatives prefer the denomination of Americans to that of Creoles. Sincethe peace of Versailles, and in par-ticular, since the year 1789, we fre-quently hear proudly declared, “Iam not a Spaniard, I am an Ame-rican!” words which betray theworkings of a long resentment. Inthe eye of law, every white Cre-ole is a Spaniard; but the abuseof the laws, the false measures ofthe colonial government, the exam-ple of the United States of America,and the influence of the opinions ofthe age, have relaxed the ties whichformerly united more closely theSpanish Creoles to the EuropeanSpaniards. A wise administration |Spaltenumbruch|may re-establish harmony, calmtheir passions and resentments, andyet preserve for a long time theunion among the members of oneand the same great family scatteredover Europe and America, from the Patagonian coast to the north ofCalifornia. “The number of individuals ofwhom the white race is composed (Casta de los blancos o de los Espa-ñoles) amounts probably, in all NewSpain, to 1,200,000, of whom nearlythe fourth part inhabited the pro-vincias internas. In New Biscay,or in the intendancy of Durango,there is hardly an individual subjectto the tributo. Almost all the in-habitants of these northern regionspretend to be of pure European ex-traction. “In the year 1793 they reckoned
Souls. Spaniards.
In the intendancy of Guanaxuato, on a totalpopulation of..................... 398,000 103,000
Valladolid........................... 290,000 80,000
Puebla.............................. 638,000 63,000
Oaxaca ............................. 411,000 26,000
|Spaltenumbruch| “Consequently, in the four in-tendancies adjoining the capital, wefind 272,000 whites, either Europe-ans or descendants of Europeans, ina total population of 1,737,000 souls.For every hundred inhabitants, therewere, In the intendancy of
  • Valladolid........ 27 whites.
  • Guanaxuato...... 25
  • Puebla .......... 9
  • Oaxaca.......... 6
“These considerable differencesshow the degree of civilization towhich the ancient Mexicans had at-tained south from the capital. These |Spaltenumbruch|southern regions were always thebest inhabited. In the north, theIndian population was more thinlysown. Agriculture has only begunto make any progress there sincethe period of the conquest. “It is curious to compare toge-ther the number of whites in theWest Indies and in Mexico. TheFrench part of St. Domingo con-tained in its happiest æra, 1788, ona surface of 1700 square leagues (25to the degree) a smaller populationthan that of the intendancy of laPuebla. Page* estimates the po-pulation of St. Domingo at 520,000inhabitants, among whom there were40,000 whites, 28,000 people of co-
* In 1802 there were in the whole island of St. Domingo only 375,000 inhabitants,whereof 290,000 were labourers, 47,000 domestics, artisans, and sailors, and 37,000
|137| |Spaltenumbruch|lour, and 452,000 slaves. Hence,in St. Domingo, in every 100 souls,eight were white, six free people ofcolour, and eighty-six African slaves.Jamaica was computed in 1787 tohave in every 100 inhabitants, tenwhites, four people of colour, andeighty-six slaves; and yet this Eng-lish colony possesses a smaller popu-lation by one third than the intend-ancy of Oaxaca. Hence, the dispro-portion between the Europeans ortheir descendants, and the casts ofIndian or African blood, is stillgreater in the southern part of NewSpain, than in the French and Eng-lish sugar islands. The island ofCuba, on the contrary, exhibits evenat this day, in the distribution of theraces, a very great and a very con-solatory difference. From the mostcareful statistical researches whichI was enabled to make, during mystay at the Havannah, in 1800 and |Spaltenumbruch|1804, I found that at the last ofthese epochs, the total populationof the island of Cuba amounted to432,000 souls, among whom therewere
A. Freemen.......... 324,000
Whites...... 234,000
People of colour 90,000
B. Slaves ............ 108,000
Total 432,000
or in every 100 inhabitants, fifty-four Creole and European whites,twenty-one men of colour, andtwenty-five slaves. The proportionof freemen to slaves is there as threeto one, while at Jamaica they are asone to six. “The following table exhibitsthe proportion of the other casts tothe whites in the different parts of the new continent . Out of every100 inhabitants, we reckon
  • In the United States of North America ............ 83 whites.
  • Island of Cuba................................ 54
  • Kingdom of New Spain (without including the pro-vincias internas)........................... 16
  • Kingdom of Peru............................. 12
  • Island of Jamaica ............................. 10
|Spaltenumbruch| “In the capital of Mexico, ac-cording to the enumeration of theCount de Revillagigedo, in every100 inhabitants, forty-nine are Spa-nish Creoles, two Spaniards bornin Europe, twenty-four Aztec andOtomite Indians, and twenty-fivepeople of mixed blood. The exactknowledge of these proportions isof the utmost importance to thosewho have the superintendance ofthe colonies. “It would be difficult to esti-mate exactly how many Europeansthere are among the 1,200,000 |Spaltenumbruch|whites who inhabit New Spain. Asin the capital of Mexico itself, wherethe government brings together thegreatest number of Spaniards, in apopulation of more than 135,000souls, not more than 2500 indivi-duals are born in Europe, it is morethan probable that the whole king-dom does not contain more than 70or 80,000. They constitute, there-fore, only the 70th part of the wholepopulation, and the proportion ofEuropeans to white Creoles is as oneto fourteen. “The Spanish laws prohibit all
soldiers. To what a degree must the population have diminished within the last sixyears! In the island of Barbadoes, the number of whites is greater than in any of the otherislands; it amounts to 16,000 on a total population of 80,000.
|138| |Spaltenumbruch|entry into the American possessionsto every European not born in thepeninsula. The words Europeanand Spaniard are become synoni-mous in Mexico and Peru. The in-habitants of the remote provinceshave therefore a difficulty in con-ceiving that there can be Europeanswho do not speak their language;and they consider this ignorance asa mark of low extraction, because,every where around them, all, ex-cept the very lowest class of thepeople, speak Spanish. Better ac-quainted with the history of the six-teenth century than with that of ourown times, they imagine that Spaincontinues to possess a decided pre-ponderance over the rest of Europe.To them the peninsula appears thevery centre of European civilization.It is otherwise with the Americansof the capital. Those of them whoare acquainted with the French orEnglish literature fall easily into acontrary extreme; and have still amore unfavourable opinion of themother country than the French hadat a time when communication wasless frequent between Spain andthe rest of Europe. They preferstrangers from other countries to theSpaniards; and they flatter them-selves with the idea that intellectualcultivation has made 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 citiesthe Havanah bears the greatest re-semblance to those of Europe incustoms, refinements of luxury, andthe tone of society. At Havanahthe state of politics and their influ-ence on commerce is best under-stood. However, notwithstandingthe efforts of the patriotic society of |Spaltenumbruch| the island of Cuba, which encou-rages the sciences with the mostgenerous zeal, they prosper veryslowly in a country where cultiva-tion and the price of colonial pro-duce engross the whole attention ofthe inhabitants. The study of themathematics, chemistry, mineral-logy, and botany, is more generalat Mexico, Santa Fe, and Lima.We every where observe a greatintellectual activity, and among theyouth a wonderful facility of seizingthe principles of science. It is saidthat this facility is still more remark-able among the inhabitants of Quitoand Lima than at Mexico and SantaFe. The former appear to possessmore versatility of mind and a morelively imagination; while the Mex-icans and the natives of Santa Fehave the reputation of greater per-severance in the studies to whichthey have once addicted them-selves.” “No city of the new continent,without even excepting those of theUnited States, can display such greatand solid scientific establishments asthe capital of Mexico. I shall con-tent myself here with naming theSchool of Mines, directed by thelearned Elhuyar. This academy bearsthe title of Academia de los NoblesArtes de Mexico. It owes its exis-tence to the patriotism of severalMexican individuals, and to theprotection of the minister of Gal-vez. The government assigned ita spacious building, in which thereis a much finer and more completecollection of casts than is to befound in any part of Germany.We are astonished on seeing thatthe Apollo of Belvidere, the groupof Laocoon, and still more colossalstatues, have been conveyed throughmountainous roads at least as nar-row as those of St. Gothard; and |139| |Spaltenumbruch|we are surprised at finding thesemasterpieces of antiquity collectedtogether under the torrid zone, in atable land higher than the conventof the great St. Bernard. The col-lection of casts brought to Mexicocost the king 200,000 francs*. Theremains of the Mexican sculpture,those colossal statues of basaltes andporphyry, which are covered withAztec hieroglyphics, and bear somerelation to the Egyptian and Hin-doo style, ought to be collected to-gether in the edifice of the academy,or rather in one of the courts whichbelong to it. It would be curiousto see these monuments of the firstcultivation of our species, the worksof a semibarbarous people inhabit-ing the Mexican Andes, placed be-side the beautiful forms producedunder the sky of Greece and Italy.” “The revenues of the Academyof Fine Arts at Mexico amount to125,000 francs , of which the go-vernment gives 60,000, the body ofMexican miners nearly 25,000, the consulado, or association of mer-chants of the capital, more than1500. 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 number ofbeautiful edifices are to be seen atMexico! nay, even in provincialtowns like Guanaxato and Quere-taro! These monuments, whichfrequently cost a million and a mil-lion and a half of francs , wouldappear to advantage in the finest |Spaltenumbruch|streets of Paris, Berlin, and Peters-burg. M. Tolsa, professor of sculp-ture at Mexico, was even able tocast an equestrian statue of King Charles the Fourth; a work which,with the exception of the MarcusAurelius at Rome, surpasses inbeauty and purity of stile everything which remains in this way inEurope. Instruction is communi-cated gratis at the Academy of FineArts. It is not confined alone tothe drawing of landscapes andfigures; they have had the goodsense to employ other means forexciting the national industry. Theacademy labours successfully to in-troduce among the artisans a tastefor elegance and beautiful forms.Large rooms, well lighted by Ar-gand’s lamps, contain every even-ing some hundreds of young peo-ple, of whom some draw fromrelievo 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 prejudicesof the nobility against the casts areso inveterate) rank, colour, andrace is confounded: we see the In-dian and the Mestizo sitting besidethe white, and the son of a poor ar-tisan in emulation with the childrenof the great lords of the country. Itis a consolation to observe, that un-der every zone the cultivation ofscience and art establishes a certainequality among men, and obliteratesfor a time, at least, all those pettypassions of which the effects are soprejudicial to social happiness. “Since the close of the reign of Charles the Third, and under that
* 8334l. sterling. 5208l sterling. Trans. 41,670l. and 62,505l. Trans.
|140| |Spaltenumbruch|of Charles the Fourth, the study ofthe physical sciences has made greatprogress, not only in Mexico, but ingeneral in all the Spanish colonies.No European government has sacri-ficed greater sums to advance theknowledge of the vegetable kingdomthan the Spanish government. Three botanical expeditions, in Peru, NewGrenada, and New Spain, under thedirection of MM. Ruiz and Pavon,Don Jose Celestino Mutis, and MM. Sesse and Mociño, have cost the statenearly two millions of francs *.Moreover, botanical gardens havebeen established at Manilla and theCanary islands. The commissiondestined to draw plans of the canalof los Guines was also appointed toexamine the vegetable productions ofthe island of Cuba. All these re-searches, conducted during twentyyears in the most fertile regions of the new continent , have not onlyenriched science with more thanfour thousand new species of plants,but have also contributed much todiffuse a taste for natural historyamong the inhabitants of the coun-try. The city of Mexico exhibits avery interesting botanical gardenwithin the very precincts of theviceroy’s palace. Professor Cer-vantes gives annual courses there,which are very well attended. This savant possesses, besides his herbals,a rich collection of Mexican mine-rals. M. Mociño, whom we justnow mentioned as one of the coad-jutors of M. Sesse, and who haspushed his laborious excursions from |Spaltenumbruch|the kingdom of Guatimala to thenorth-west coast or island of Van-couver and Quadra; and M. Eche-veria, a painter of plants and ani-mals, whose works will bear a com-parison with the most perfect pro-ductions of the kind in Europe, areboth of them natives of New Spain.They had both attained a distin-guished rank among savans and ar-tists before quitting their country.
The principles of the new che-mistry, which is known in the Spa-nish colonies by the equivocal appel-lation of new philosophy (nuevafilosofia), are more diffused in Mex-ico than in many parts of the penin-sula. A European traveller cannotundoubtedly but be surprised tomeet in the interior of the country,on the very borders of California,with young Mexicans who reason onthe decomposition of water in theprocess of amalgamation with freeair. The School of Mines possessesa chemical laboratory; a geologicalcollection, arranged according to thesystem of Werner; a physical cabi-net, in which we not only find thevaluable instruments of Ramsden,Adams, Le Noir, and Louis Ber-thoud, but also models executed inthe capital even, with the greatestprecision, and from the finest woodin the country. The best mineralo-gical work in the Spanish languagewas printed at Mexico, I mean theManual of Oryctognosy, composedby M. del Rio, according to theprinciples of the school of Freyberg,in which the author was formed.
* 83,304l. sterling. Trans. The public is only yet put in possession of the discoveries of the botanical expeditionof Peru and Chili. The great herbals of M. Sesse, and the immense collection of draw-ings of Mexican plants executed under his eye, arrived at Madrid in 1803. The publica-tion of both the Flora of New Spain and the Flora of Santa Fe de Bogota is expected withimpatience. The latter is the fruit of 40 years researches and observations by the cele-brated Mutis, one of the greatest botanists of the age.
|141| |Spaltenumbruch|The first Spanish translation of La-vater’s Elements of Chemistry wasalso published at Mexico. I citethese insulated facts because theygive us the measure of the ardourwith which the exact sciences arebegun to be studied in the capi-tal of New Spain. This ardour ismuch greater than that with whichthey addict themselves to the stu-dy of languages and ancient litera-ture.*
“Instruction in mathematics isless carefully attended to in theuniversity of Mexico than in theSchool of Mines. The pupils ofthis last establishment go fartherinto analysis; they are instructed inthe antegral and differential calculi.On the return of peace and free in-tercourse with Europe, when astro-nomical instruments (chronometers,sextants, and the repeating circles of Borda) shall become more common,young men will be found in themost remote parts of the kingdomcapable of making observations, andcalculating them after the most re-cent methods. I have already indi-cated in the analysis of my maps theadvantage which might be drawn bythe government from this extraor-dinary aptitude in constructing a |Spaltenumbruch|map of the country. The tastefor astronomy is very old in Mexico.Three distinguished men, Velasquez, Gama, and Alzate, did honour totheir country towards the end of thelast century. All the three made agreat number of astronomical obser-vations, especially of eclipses of thesatellites of Jupiter. Alzate, theworst informed of them, was thecorrespondent of the Academy ofSciences at Paris. Inaccurate as anobserver, and of an activity fre-quently impetuous, he gave himselfup to too many objects at a time.He is entitled to the real merit, how-ever, of having excited his country-men to the study of the physicalsciences. The Gazetta de Littera-tura, which he published for a longtime at Mexico, contributed singu-larly to give encouragement andimpulsion to the Mexican youth. “The most remarkable geome-trician produced by New Spain sincethe time of Siguenza was Don Joac-quin Velasquez Cardinas y Leon.All the astronomical and geodesicallabours of this indefatigable savant bear the stamp of the greatest pre-cision. He was born on the 21stJuly, 1732, in the interior of thecountry, at the farm of Santiago
* This is as much as to say that taste is rather at a low ebb among them, and thatimagination is in a somewhat similar state; for wherever taste and imagination flourish,an admiration for the ancients is seen to prevail. The observation of Humboldt mayperhaps receive a much more extensive application; and it may peculiarly be applied tothe whole of America. I have seen it asserted that there are whole states in the unionwhere a classical seminary of any kind is not to be found. It would be rash to say thatthe faculties of men transplanted to America gradually assimilate to those of the abori-gines, who are stated by M. Humboldt to be destitute of taste, but excellently adapted forscience. Should we not rather say that every age has its favourite study, which it culti-vates almost to the neglect of every other? At one time it is all commenting and com-paring manuscripts:— “And A’s deposed and B with pomp restored:” at another, the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle divide the world between them; fromthat a transition is made to poetry, and no man can be great without producing an epicpoem or a handsome volume of sonnets; and in the present age almost every thing butthe refuse of talent carefully preserved in the cells of some fat old university, seems em-ployed, more or less, in physical science. Trans.
|142| |Spaltenumbruch|Acebedocla, near the Indian villageof Tizicapan; and he had the merit,we may say, of forming himself. Atthe age of four he communicated thesmall pox to his father, who died ofthem. An uncle, parish priest ofXaltocan, took care of his educa-tion, and placed him under the in-struction of an Indian of the nameof Manuel Asentzio; a man ofgreat natural strength of mind, andwell versed in the knowledge of theMexican history and mythology. Velasquez learned at Xaltocan seve-ral Indian languages, and the use ofthe hieroglyphical writings of theAztecs. It is to be regretted that hepublished nothing on this very in-teresting branch of antiquity. Placedat Mexico in the Tridentine college,he found neither professor nor booksnor instruments*. With the smallassistance which he could obtain, hefortified himself in the study of themathematics and the ancient lan-guages. A lucky accident threwinto his hands the works of Newtonand Bacon. He drew from the onea taste for astronomy, and from theother an acquaintance with the truemethods of philosophising. Whilepoor and unable to find any instru-ment even in Mexico, he set him-self, with his friend M. Guadalaxara(now professor of mathematics inthe Academy of Painting), to con-struct telescopes and quadrants. Hefollowed at the same time the pro-fession of advocate, an occupation |Spaltenumbruch|which at Mexico, as well as else-where, is much more lucrative thanthat of looking at the stars. Whathe gained by his professional labourswas laid out in purchasing instru-ments in England. After beingnamed professor in the university,he accompanied the visitador Don Jose de Galvez in his journey toSonora. Sent on a commission toCalifornia, he profited by the sere-nity of the sky in that peninsula tomake a great number of astronomi-cal observations. He first observedthere that in all the maps, for cen-turies, through an enormous errorof longitude, this part of the newcontinent had always been markedseveral degrees farther west than itreally was. When the Abbe Chappe, more celebrated for hiscourage and his zeal for the sciencesthan for the accuracy of his labours,arrived in California, he found theMexican astronomer already estab-lished there. Velasquez had con-structed for himself in Mimosaplanks an observatory at St. Anne.Having already determined the po-sition of this Indian village, he in-formed the Abbe Chappe that themoon’s eclipse on the 18th June,1769, would be visible in California.The French astronomer doubted thetruth of this assertion, till the eclipseactually took place. Velasquez byhimself made a very good observa-tion of the transit of Venus overthe disk of the sun on the 3d June,
* From this we may discover that the professors of this university are not behind thoseof some others in the praise-worthy custom of considering their chairs as sinecures. Trans. The Count de Galvez, before obtaining the ministry of the Indies, travelled throughthe northern part of New Spain with the title of visitador. This name is given to personsemployed by the court to procure information as to the state of the colonies. Theirjourney (visita) has generally no other effect than that of counterbalancing for some timethe power of the viceroys and the audiencias, of receiving an infinity of memoirs, peti-tions, and projects, and of signalizing their stay by the introduction of some new impost.The people expect the arrival of the visitadores with the same impatience which they af-terwards display for their departure.
|143| |Spaltenumbruch|1769. He communicated the re-sult, the very morning of the tran-sit, to the Abbe Chappe, and to theSpanish astronomers Don VicenteDoz, and Don Salvador de Medina.The French traveller was surprisedat the harmony between the obser-vation of Velasquez and his own.He was no doubt astonished tomeet in California with a Mexican,who, without belonging to any aca-demy, and without having ever leftNew Spain, was able to observeas well as the academicians. In1773 Velasquez executed the greatgeodesical undertaking, and towhich we shall again return inspeaking of the drain of the lakes ofthe valley of Mexico. The mostessential service which this indefati-gable man rendered to his countrywas the establishment of the Tribu-nal and the School of Mines, theplans for which he presented to thecourt. He finished his laboriouscareer on the 6th March, 1786,while first director-general of the Tribunal de Mineria, and enjoyingthe title of Alcalde del Corte hono-rario.
“After mentioning the laboursof Alzate and Velasquez, it wouldbe unjust to pass over the name of Gama, the friend and fellow la-bourer of the latter. Without for-tune, and compelled to support anumerous family by a troublesomeand almost mechanical labour un-known and neglected during his lifeby his fellow citizens*, who loadedhim with eulogies after his death, Gama became by his own unassisted |Spaltenumbruch|efforts an able and well informedastronomer. He published severalmemoirs on eclipses of the moon; onthe satellites of Jupiter, on the al-manac and chronology of the an-cient Mexicans, and on the climateof New Spain; all of which an-nounce a great precision of ideasand accuracy of observation. If Ihave allowed myself to enter intothese details on the literary merit ofthree Mexican savans, it is merelyfor the sake of proving from theirexample, that the ignorance whichEuropean pride has thought properto attach to the Creoles is neitherthe effect of the climate nor of awant of moral energy; but that thisignorance, where it is still observ-able, is solely the effect of the insu-lation, and the defects in the socialinstitutions of the colonies.” “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 unequallydistributed in Mexico than in the capitania general of Caraccas, theHavanah, and especially Peru. AtCaraccas, the heads of the richestfamilies possess a revenue of 200,000livres. In the island of Cuba wefind revenues of more than 6 or700,000 francs . In these two in-dustrious colonies agriculture hasfounded more considerable fortunesthan has been accumulated by theworking of the mines in Peru. AtLima an annual revenue of 80,000
* The celebrated navigator Alexander Malaspina, during his stay at Mexico, observedalong with Gama. He recommended him with much warmth to the court, as is provedby the official letters of Malaspina, preserved in the archives of the viceroy. 8334l. sterling. Trans. 25,002l. or 29,169l. sterling. Trans.
|144| |Spaltenumbruch|francs is very uncommon.a I knowin reality of no Peruvian family inthe possession of a fixed and sure re-venue of 130,000 francs.b But inNew Spain there are individualswho possess no mines, whose reve-nue amounts to a million of c francs.The family of the Count de la Va-lenciana, for example, possessesalone, on the ridge of the Cordillera,a property worth more than 25 mil-lions of francs,d without includingthe mine of Valenciana near Guan-axuato, which, communibus annis, yields a nett revenue of a millionand a half of livres.e This family,of which the present head, theyoung Count de Valenciana, is dis-tinguished for a generous characterand a noble desire of instruction,is only divided into three branches;and they possess altogether, even inyears when the mine is not very lu-crative, more than 2,200,000 francsof revenue.f The Count de Regla, whose youngest son, the Marquisde San Christobal,g distinguishedhimself at Paris for his physical andphysiological knowledge, construct-ed at the Havanah, at his own ex-pence, in acajou and cedar (cedrella)wood, two vessels of the line of thelargest size, which he made a pre-sent of to his sovereign. It was theseam of la Biscaina, near Pachuca,which laid the foundation of thefortune of the house of Regla. Thefamily of Fagoaga, well known forits beneficence, intelligence, andzeal for the public good, exhibitsthe example of the greatest wealthwhich was ever derived from a |Spaltenumbruch|mine. A single seam which thefamily of the Marquis of Fagoagapossesses in the district of Sombrereteleft in five or six months, all chargesdeducted, a nett profit of 20 mil-lions of francs.h
“From these data one wouldsuppose capitals in the Mexican fa-milies infinitely greater than whatare really observed. The deceasedCount de la Valenciana, the first ofthe title, sometimes drew from hismine alone, in one year, a nett re-venue of no less than six millions oflivres.i This annual revenue, dur-ing the last twenty-five years of hislife, was never below from two tothree millions of livres;k and yetthis extraordinary man, who camewithout any fortune to America,and who continued to live withgreat simplicity, left only behindhim at his death, besides his mine,which is the richest in the world,ten millions in property and capi-tal.l This fact, which may be re-lied on, will not surprise those whoare acquainted with the interiormanagement of the great Mexicanhouses. Money rapidly gained isas rapidly spent. The working ofmines becomes a game in whichthey embark with unbounded pas-sion. The rich proprietors of mineslavish immense sums on quacks,who engage them in new under-takings in the most remote pro-vinces. 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 bad
a 3333l. sterling. Trans. b 5417l. sterling. Trans. c 41,670l. sterling. Trans. d 1,041,750l. sterling. Trans. e 62,505l. sterling. Trans. f 91,674l. sterling. Trans. g M. Terreros (this is the name by which this modest savant is known in France)preferred for a long time the instruction which his abode at Paris enabled him to pro-cure, to the great fortune which he could only enjoy living in Mexico.h 833,400l. sterling. Trans. i 250,020l. sterling. Trans. k From 83,340l. to 125,010l. Trans. l 416,700l. sterling. Trans.
|145| |Spaltenumbruch|success of a rash project may absorbin a few years all that was gainedin working the richest seams. Wemust 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 straitenedwith a revenue of half a million,m though he display no other luxurythan that of numerous yokes ofmules.
“The mines have undoubtedlybeen the principal sources of thegreat fortunes of Mexico. Manyminers have laid out their wealth inpurchasing land, and have addictedthemselves with great zeal to agri-culture. But there is also a con-siderable number of very powerfulfamilies who have never had theworking of any very lucrative mines.Such are the rich descendants of Cortez, or the Marquis del Valle. The Duke of Monteleon, a Neapo-litan lord, who is now the head ofthe house of Cortez, possesses su-perb estates in the province of Oax-aca, near Toluca, and at Cuernavaca.The nett produce of his rents is ac-tually no more than 550,000 frances,n the king having deprived the dukeof the collection of the alcavalasand the duties on tobacco. Theordinary expenses of managementamount to more than 125,000francs.o However, several gover-nors of the marquesado have be-come singularly wealthy. If thedescendants of the great conquis-tador would only live in Mexico,their revenue would immediatelyrise to more than a million and ahalf.p “To complete the view of theimmense wealth centered in the |Spaltenumbruch|hands of a few individuals in NewSpain, which may compete withany thing in Great Britain, or theEuropean possessions in Hindostan,I shall add several exact statementsboth of the revenues of the Mexicanclergy, and the pecuniary sacrificesannnually made by the body of mi-ners (cuerpo de mineria) for theimprovement of mining. This lastbody, formed by a union of theproprietors of mines, and represent-ed by deputies who sit in the Tri-bunal de Mineria, advanced in threeyears, between 1784 and 1787, asum of four millions of francsq toindividuals who were in want ofthe necessary funds to carry ongreat works. It is believed in thecountry that this money has notbeen very usefully employed (parahabilitar); but its distributionproves the generosity and opulenceof those who are able to make suchconsiderable largesses. A Europeanreader will be still more astonishedwhen I inform him of the extraordi-nary fact, that the respectable familyof Fagoagas lent, a few years ago,without interest, a sum of morethan three millions and a half offranks r to a friend, whose fortunethey were in the belief would bemade by it in a solid manner; andthis sum was irrevocably lost in anunsuccessful new mining undertak-ing. The architectural works whichare carried on in the capital ofMexico for the embellishment of thecity are so expensive, that notwith-standing the low rate of wages, thesuberb edifice constructed by orderof the Tribunal de Mineria for theSchool of Mines will cost at leastthree millions of francs,s of whichtwo millions were in readiness be-
m 20,835l. sterling. Trans. n 22,98l. sterling. Trans. o 5208l. sterling. Trans. p 62,505l. sterling. Trans. q 106,680l. sterling. Trans. r 145,945l.s 125,010l. sterling. Trans.
|146| |Spaltenumbruch|fore the foundation was laid. Tohasten the construction, and par-ticularly to furnish the students im-mediately with a proper laboratoryfor metallic experiments on theamalgamation of great masses ofminerals (beneficio de patio), thebody of Mexican miners contributedmonthly, in the year 1803 alone,the sum of 50,000 livres.t Such isthe facility with which vast projectsare executed in a country wherewealth is divided among a smallnumber of individuals.
“This inequality of fortune isstill more conspicuous among theclergy, of whom a number sufferextreme poverty, while others pos-sess revenues which surpass those ofmany of the sovereign princes ofGermany. The Mexican clergy,less numerous than is believed inEurope, is only composed of tenthousand individuals, the half of |Spaltenumbruch|whom are regulars who wear thecowl. If we include lay brothersand sisters, or servants (legos, do-nados y criados de los conventos), all those who are not in orders, wemay estimate the clergy at 13 or14,000 individuals.u Now the an-nual revenue of the eight Mexicanbishops in the following list amountsto a sum total of 2,695,000 francs:x
Revenues of the Arch-bishop of Mexico 130,000
Bishop of la Puebla 110,000
Valladolid 100,000
Guadalaxara 90,000
Durango 35,000
Monterey 80,000
Yucatan 20,000
Oaxaca 18,000
Sonora 6,000

t 2083l. sterling.u The number of monks of St. Francis in Spain amounts to 15,600, more than allthe ecclesiastics of the kingdom of Mexico. The clergy in the peninsula exceed 228,000individuals. For every thousand inhabitants there are 20 ecclesiastics, while in NewSpain there are not above two to the thousand. The following is a specification of theclergy in several of the intendancies, according to the enumeration in 1793:
In the intendancy of laPuebla, 667 {secular ecclesiastics or clerigos, and} 881 regulars.
Valladolid 293 . . . 298
Guanaxuato 225 . . . 197
Oaxaca 306 . . . 342
In the city of Mexico 550 . . . 1646
Including in the enumeration the Donados, or lay brothers, the convents of the capitalcontain more than 2,500 individuals.—Author. The clergy of the peninsula, according to M. de La Borde, from whom M. de Hum-boldt elsewhere professes to take his information regarding Spain, amounts to 147,657individuals; and, according to M. Townsend, who cites the returns made to the Spa-nish government, they amount to 118,625. M. de La Borde estimates the populationof Spain at 11,000,000, and he states the proportion of the clergy to the population as 1 : 69; though\( \frac{11,000,000}{147,657} \)= 74,497, say 74\( \frac{1}{2} \), and not 69. But the estimate of 228,000 clergy, and a corresponding proportion of 20 in the thou-sand, or 1 in 50 to the population, is in every way much beyond the truth. M. de Humboldt having found from M. de la Borde that the proportion between the clergy andpopulation in Madrid was 20 : 1,000, has been led to extend the same proportion over
x 112,300l. sterling. Trans. y This, at the rate of conversion which the author lays down in a note in thefollowing page, namely five francs five sous per double piastre, does not amount tothe sum of 2,695,000, but 2,829,750 francs = 117,915l.—Trans.
|147| “The bishop of Sonora, the poor-est of them all, does not draw tithes.He is paid, like the bishop of Pana-ma, immediately by the king (deCaxas reales). His income amountsonly to the 20th part of that of thebishops of Valladolid and Mechoa-can; and, what is truly distressingin the diocese of an archbishopwhose revenue amounts to the sumof 650,000 francs,z there are cler-gymen of Indian villages whoseyearly income does not exceed fiveor six hundred francs.a The bi-shop and chapter of Valladolid sent,at different times, to the king as avoluntary contribution, particularlyduring the last war against France,the sum of 810,000 francs.b Thelands of the Mexican clergy (bienesraices) do not exceed the value of12 or 15 millions of francs; c butthe clergy possess immense capitalshypothecated on the property ofindividuals. The whole of thesecapitals (capitales de Capellanias yobras pias, fondos lotales de Com-munidades religiosas), of which weshall give a detail in the sequel,amounts to the sum of 44 millionsand a half of double piastres,d or233,625,000 francs.e Cortez, fromthe very commencement of the con- |Spaltenumbruch|quest, dreaded the great opulenceof the clergy in a country whereecclesiastical discipline is difficultto maintain. He says very franklyin a letter to Charles the Fifth,“that he beseeches his majesty to“send out to the Indies religieux “and not canons, because the lat-“ter display an extravagant luxury,“leave great wealth to their natu-“ral children, and give great scan-“dal to the newly converted In-“dians.” This advice, dictated bythe frankness of an old soldier, wasnot followed at Madrid. We havetranscribed this curious passage froma work published several years agoby a cardinal.f It is not for usto accuse the conqueror of NewSpain of predilection for the regularclergy, or antipathy towards thecanons. “The rumour spread up anddown Europe of the immensity ofthe Mexican wealth has given riseto very exaggerated ideas relative tothe abundance of gold and silveremployed in New Spain in plate,furniture, kitchen utensils, and har-ness. A traveller, whose imagina-tion has been heated by stories ofkeys, locks, and hinges of massysilver, will be very much surprised
all Spain. Yet he afterwards, in the Statistical Analysis, states it as a peculiar meritin M. de La Borde, that he had first proved that the proportion of Spanish clergy to thepopulation was less than that of the French clergy to the population before the revolution,which was 460,078 : 25,000,000=1 : 54,444, say 54\( \frac{4}{10} \) (and not 1 : 52, as La Borde calculates:) but a clergy of 228,000 in a population of 11 millions would be morenumerous in proportion than that of France before the revolution.—Trans. z 27,085l. sterling. Trans. a From 20l. to 25l. sterling. Trans. b 33,752l. sterling. Trans. c From 500,040l. to 625,050 sterling. Trans. d 13,485,453l. sterling. Trans. e I have followed the data contained in the Representacion de los vecinos de Val-ladolid al Excellentissimo Senor Virey (dated 24th October, 1805), a manuscript memoirof great value, I compute in the course of this work the double piastre at 5 livres5 sous. Its intrinsic value is 5 livres 8⅓ sous. We must not confound the pezo, which is sometimes called pezo sencillo, or commercial piastre, which is a fictitiousmoney, with the double piastre of America, or te duro, or te pezo duro. The doublepiastre contains 20 reals of vellon, or 170 quartos, or 680 maravedis, while the perosencillo, which is equal to 3 livres 15 sous, contains only 15 reals of vellon, or 510maravedis.f Archbishop Lorenzana.
|148| |Spaltenumbruch|on his arrival at Mexico at seeingno more of the precious metals em-ployed for domestic uses there thanin Spain, Portugal, and the rest ofthe south of Europe; and he willbe as much astonished at seeing inMexico, Peru, or at Santa Fe, peo-ple of the lowest order barefootedwith enormous silver spurs on, or atfinding silver cups and plates a littlemore common there than in Franceand England. The surprise of thetraveller will cease when he reflectsthat porcelain is very rare in thesenewly civilized regions, that thenature of the roads in the mountainsrenders the carriage of it extremelydifficult; and that in a countryof little commercial activity, it isequally indifferent whether a fewhundred piastres be possessed inspecie or in plate. Notwithstand-ing, however, the enormous diffe-rence of wealth between Peru andMexico, considering merely thefortunes of the great proprietors, Iam inclined to believe that there ismore true comfort at Lima than atMexico. The inequality of fortunesis much less in the former; and ifit is very rare, as we have alreadyobserved, to find individuals therewho possess a revenue of 50 or60,000 francs,g we meet, however,with a great number of mulattoartisans and free negros, who, bytheir industry alone, procure muchmore than the necessaries of life.Capitals of 10 and 15000 h piastresare very common among this class,while the streets of Mexico swarmwith from twenty to thirty thou-sand wretches (Saragates, Guachi-nangos), of whom the greatestnumber pass the night sub dio, andstretch themselves out to the sunduring the day with nothing but a |Spaltenumbruch|flannel covering. These dregs ofthe people bear much analogy to theLazaroni of Naples. Lazy, care-less, and sober like them, theGuachinangos have nothing, how-ever, ferocious in their character, andthey never ask alms; for if theywork one or two days in the week,they earn as much as will purchasetheir pulque, or some of the duckswith which the Mexican lakes arecovered, which are roasted in theirown fat. The fortune of the Sara-gates seldom exceeds two or threereals, while the lower people ofLima, more addicted to luxury andpleasure, and perhaps also more in-dustrious, frequently spend two orthree piastres in one day. Onewould say that the mixture of theEuropean and the negro every whereproduces a race of men more activeand more assiduously industriousthan the mixture of the whites withthe Mexican Indian.
“The kingdom of New Spain is,of all the European colonies underthe torrid zone, that in which thereare the fewest negros. We may al-most say that there are no slaves.We may go through the whole cityof Mexico without seeing a blackcountenance. The service of nohouse is carried on with slaves. Inthis point of view especially, Mexicopresents a singular contrast to theHavanah, Lima, and Caraccas.From exact information procuredby those employed in the enumera-tion of 1793, it appears that in allNew Spain there are not six thou-sand negros, and not more thannine or ten thousand slaves, ofwhom the greatest number belongto the ports of Acapulco and VeraCruz, or the warm regions of thecoasts (tierras calientes). The slaves
g 2,083l. or 2,500l. sterling. Trans. h If single or commercial piastres = 1560l. and 2340l. sterling. Trans.
|149| |Spaltenumbruch|are four times more numerous inthe capitania general of Caraccas,which does not contain the sixthpart of the population of Mexico.The negros of Jamaica are to thoseof New Spain in the proportionof 250 to 1! In the West Indiaislands, Peru, and even Caraccas,the progress of agriculture and in-dustry in general depends on theaugmentation of negros. In theisland of Cuba, for example, wherethe annual exportation of sugar hasrisen in twelve years from 400,000to 1,000,000 quintals between 1792and 1803 nearly 55,000l slaveshave been introduced. But inMexico the increase of colonial |Spaltenumbruch|prosperity is nowise occasioned by amore active slave trade. It is notabove twenty years since Mexicansugar was known in Europe; VeraCruz, at present, exports more than120,000 quintals; and yet the pro-gress of sugar cultivation which hastaken place in New Spain since therevolution of St. Domingo has notperceptibly increased the number ofslaves. Of the 74,000 negros an-nually furnished byAfricato theequinoxial regions of America and Asia, and which are worth in thecolonies the sum of 111,000,000francs,k not above 100 land on thecoast of Mexico.”

l According to the custom-house reports of the Havanah, of which I possess acopy, the introduction of negros, from 1799 to 1803, was 34,500, of whom 7 percent. die annually.k 4,625,370l. sterling. Trans.