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Alexander von Humboldt: „From the Baron Humboldt’s ‚Political essay on the kingdom of 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-19-neu> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel From the Baron Humboldt’s ‚Political essay on the kingdom of New-Spain‘
Jahr 1812
Ort St. Louis, Missouri
Nachweis
in: Louisian Gazette 4:179 (23. Januar 1812), S. [1].
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua (mit lang-s); Spaltensatz.
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-19-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 1
Spaltenanzahl: 3
Zeichenanzahl: 5586

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From the Baron Humboldt’s “Politi-cal essay on the kingdom of New-Spain.”

“The Indian cultivator is poor,but he is free. His ſtate is evengreatly preferable to that of the pea-|Spaltenumbruch|ſantry of the north of Europe.There are neither corvees nor villa-nage in New-Spain, and thenumber of ſlaves is next to nothing.Sugar is chiefly the produce of freehands. There the principal objects of agriculture, are not the producti-ons to which European luxury hasaſſigned a valuable and arbitrary val-ue, but cereal gramina, nutritiveroots, and the agave, the vine of theIndians. The appearance of thecountry proclaims to the travellerthat the ſoul nouriſhes him who cul-tivates it, and that the true proſperityof the Mexican people neither de-pends on the accidents of foreigncommerce, nor on the unruly poli-ticks of Europe. In Mexico, the beſt cultivatedfields—thoſe which recal to themind of the traveller, the beautifulplains of France—are thoſe whichextend from Salamanca towardsSiloe, Guanaxato, and the Villa deLeon, and which ſurround the rich-eſt mines of the known world.Wherever metallick ſeams havebeen diſcovered in the moſt unculti-vated parts of the Cordilleras, on theinſulated and deſert table lands, theworking of mines, far from imped-ing the cultivation of the ſoil, hasbeen ſingularly favourable to it.Travelling along the ridge of the Andes, or the mountainous part ofMexico, we every where ſee themoſt ſtriking examples of the bene-ficial influence of the mines on agri-culture. Were it not for the eſtab-liſhments formed for the workingof the mines, how many placeswould have remained deſert—howmany diſtricts uncultivated, in thefour intendencies of Guanaxuato,Zacatecas, San Luis Potoſi and Du-rango, between the parallels of 21and 25 degrees, where the moſt con-ſiderable metallic wealth of New-Spain is to be found? While the coaſt, expoſed to theviolent effect of the ſolar heat, was,as it continues to be, the ſeat of diſ-eaſe, we cannot wonder that thehigher regions were preferred, as a-bodes, by the old population of A-merica, and by their ſucceſſors.The valley in which the city ofMexico ſtands, is upwards of 6580feet above the level of the ſea—it isof an oval form, encompaſſed on allſides by mountains, and contains ſe-veral lakes. The largeſt is ſalt—for-merly it ſurrounded the city, whichwas approached only by cauſeways,conſtructed in the water—but at pre-ſent the extent of this lake is dimin-iſhed, and the city is now on theland, at ſome diſtance from the wa-ters edge. The circumference ofthe valley is 67 leagues. Mexico is undoubtedly one of thefinest cities ever built by Europeansin either hemiſpheres. With the ex-ception of St. Peterſburg, Berlin,Philadelphia, and ſome quarters ofWeſtminſter, there does not exiſt acity of the ſame extent, which canbe compared to the capital of NewSpain for the uniform level of theground on which it ſtands, for the re-gularity and breadth of the ſtreets,and the extent of the public places.The architecture is generally of apure ſtyle, and there are even edifi-ces of very beautiful ſtructure. Theexteriour of the houſes is not loadedwith ornaments. The baluſtrades and gates are allof Biſcay iron, ornamented withbronze; and the houſes, inſtead ofroofs, have terraces like thoſe in It-aly and other ſouthern countries. Mexico has been very much em-belliſhed, ſince the reſidence of theAbbe Chappe there, in 1769. How-ever, it muſt be agreed, that notwith-ſtanding the progreſs of the artswithin theſe laſt thirty years, it ismuch leſs from the grandeur andbeauty of the monuments, than|Spaltenumbruch|from the breadth and ſtraitneſs ofthe ſtreets—and much leſs from itsedifices, than from its uniform reg-ularity, its extent and population,that the capital of New Spain at-tracts the admiration of Europeans. The preſent population of Mexicois eſtimated at 135 to 140,000 indivi-duals. It probably conſiſts of
2,500 white Europeans.
65,000 white Creoles.
83,000 indigenous [copper-coloured]
25,500 Meſtizoes, mixture of whitesand Indians
10,000 Mulattoes.
137,000 inhabitants.
“There are conſequently in Mex-ico 69,500 men of colour, and 67,500whites; but a great number of theMeſtizoes are almoſt as white as theEuropeans and Spaniſh Creoles! “Among the colonies ſubject tothe king of Spain, Mexico occupiesat preſent the firſt rank, both on ac-count of its favorable poſition forcommerce, with Europe and Aſia.We ſpeak here merely of the politi-cal value of the country, conſideringit in its actual ſtate of civilization,which is very ſuperior to that of theother Spaniſh poſſeſſions. Manybranches of agriculture have un-doubtedly attained a higher degreeof perfection in the Carraccas thanin New Spain. The fertility of theſoil is greater in the provinces ofCumana, of New Barcelona, andVenezuela; and it is greater on thebanks of the Lower Orinoco, and inthe northern part of New Grenada,than in the kingdom of Mexico, ofwhich ſeveral regions are barren,deſtitute of water, and incapable ofvegetation. But on conſidering thegreatneſs of the population of Mexi-co, the number of conſiderable Ci-ties in the proximity of one another;the enormous value of the metallickproduce, and its influence on thecommerce of Europe and Aſia; inſhort on examining the imperfectſtate of cultivation obſervable in thereſt of Spaniſh America, we aretempted to juſtify the preferencewhich the court of Madrid has longmanifeſted for Mexico, above itsother colonies.”