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Alexander von Humboldt: „Political Essay in the Kingdom of New Spain, containing researches relative to the geography of Mexico, the extent of ist surface, and its political division into intendancies, &c. &c. With physical sections and maps, founded on astronomical observations, and trigonometrical and barometrical measurements. Translated from the original French, by John Black. Vols. I and II. New-York. Riley, 1811. 8vo.“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <> [abgerufen am 17.04.2024].

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Titel Political Essay in the Kingdom of New Spain, containing researches relative to the geography of Mexico, the extent of ist surface, and its political division into intendancies, &c. &c. With physical sections and maps, founded on astronomical observations, and trigonometrical and barometrical measurements. Translated from the original French, by John Black. Vols. I and II. New-York. Riley, 1811. 8vo.
Jahr 1811
Ort New York City, New York
in: The Medical Repository 3 (November 1811–Januar 1812), S. 264–287; 3 (Februar–April 1812), S. 348–362.
Sprache Englisch
Typografischer Befund Antiqua (mit lang-s); Auszeichnung: Kursivierung; Fußnoten mit Asterisken und Kreuzen; Schmuck: Initialen, Kapitälchen.
Textnummer Druckausgabe: II.76
Dateiname: 1809-Voyage_de_MM-20-neu
Seitenanzahl: 39
Zeichenanzahl: 87533

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Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, containingresearches relative to the geography of Mexico, the extentof its surface, and its political division into intendancies,&c. &c. By Alexander De Humboldt. With phy-sical sections and maps, founded on astronomical observa-tions, and trigonometrical and barometrical measurements.Translated from the original French, by John Black. Vols. I and II. New-York. Riley, 1811. 8vo.

FEW travellers have visited the Spanish dominions inAmerica, under circumstances so favourable as Baron Humboldt. Few, indeed, have availed themselves so suc-cessfully of the opportunities they enjoyed; and fewer stillcan be found who unite in themselves the private fortune,the public patronage, the moral demeanour, the strength ofconstitution, the intrepidity of spirit, and the accommoda-ting manners, the indefatigable industry, and the generalscience which so eminently distinguish this individual. And |265|although the history and dissertations of Clavigero, havedisclosed a great body of information concerning Mexico,as may be seen in our vol. 8, p. 282—396, yet a great dealmore is presented in the pages of the work now before us:particularly of the modern events, and of the more recentstate of things. We notice, with much satisfaction, a work treating ex-pressly of that section of North America which lies conti-guous to the territory of the United States, and extendsfrom the southern and western limits thereof, along theGulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, almost to the footof the Peruvian Andes. It may be considered as a sequelto the description of Caraccas by Mr. Depons, reviewedin our vol. 10, p. 182: to the Essays on the Natural His-tory of Paraguay, by captain d’Azara, noticed in our vol.9, p. 64: to the History of Chili, by the Abbè Molina,commented on in our vol. 12, p. 257: to the description ofthe Isthmus of Darien, by Mr. Hill, contained in our vol.8, p. 128: to the Voyage to Statenland, and several placesin the South Sea, by William Moulton, in our vol. 9, p. 51:to the Voyage to Brazil, by Mr. Lindley, and the descrip-tion of Rio Janeiro, by Mr. Tuckey, in our same vol. p.195 and 287: to a Voyage to the Caribbee Islands, and theinterior provinces of South America, by Dr. Le Blond, inour vol. 10, p. 65; and to some other tracts and disquisi-tions, occasionally introduced. The work opens with a learned introduction concerningthe geography of the country. After which, the subsequentmatter is distributed into four books; the first of whichtreats of the extent and physical aspect of New Spain, withthe influence of the inequalities of the soil on the climate,productions, commerce, and military defence. The secondexamines the general population, and the different casts orraces of the inhabitants. The third contains a particularstatistical survey of the intendancies, or local governments,of which this kingdom is composed, with their respectiveextent and population. And the fourth is occupied with anaccount of the various productions of the soil, and of theprecious metals procured from the bowels of the earth bymining. Although some of the details of Baron H. are ratherprolix and tedious, we nevertheless admire the extent andprofundity of his research. And indeed, we could wish |266|that he would give a display equally luminous of every re-gion on the terraqueous globe. We regret that for the rea-sons stated in his note of the 27th June, 1804, and printedin our vol. 8, p. 96, this estimable traveller should havebeen hurried back to Europe, and prevented from viewingthat portion of Fredish-America which lies to the north-ward and eastward of Philadelphia. The author has enriched geography and geology with views in profile of the country situated between the twooceans which wash the opposite shores of America. Theseare additions of great value to the common maps, whichgive us but bird’s eye views. His explanation of the ver-tical section he has delineated of the region between VeraCruz and Acapulco, is so interesting, that we extract itentire.

VI. Physical View of the Oriental Declivity of the TableLand of Anahuac.

“The horizontal projections known by the name of geo-graphical maps, give but a very imperfect idea of the ine-qualities of surface and physiognomy of a country. Theundulations of the surface (mouvemens du terrain,) the formof the mountains, their relative height, and the rapidity ofthe declivities, can only be completely represented in verti-cal sections. A map drawn up on the ingenious plan ofM. Clerc, supplies to a certain degree the place of a reli-evo: and lines drawn on a plane which has but two dimen-sions may produce the same effect as a model in relievo, ifthe extent of ground represented is not too great, and if it isthoroughly known in all its parts. But the difficulties arealmost insurmountable when the horizontal projection em-braces a hilly country of a surface of several thousandsquare leagues. “In the most inhabited region of Europe, for example,in France, Germany, or England, the plains which are theseat of cultivation are only elevated, in general, a hundred,* or two hundred metres above one another. Their absoluteheights are too inconsiderable to have any sensible influenceon the climate. Hence an accurate knowledge of theseelevations is much less interesting to the cultivator than to
* About 328 feet.—Trans. About 656 feet.
|267|the naturalist; and hence also, in the maps of Europe, thegeographers merely indicate the most elevated chains ofmountains. But in the equinoxial region of the new conti-nent, particularly in the kingdoms of New Grenada, Quito,and Mexico, the temperature of the atmosphere, its state ofdryness or humidity, the kind of cultivation followed by theinhabitants, all depend on the enormous elevation of theplanes which stretch along the ridges of the Cordilleras.The geological constitution of these countries is an objectequally important for the statesman and the naturalist; fromwhence it follows that the imperfection of our graphicalmethods is much more sensible in a map of New Spain thanin a map of France. Hence, to give a complete idea ofthe countries examined by me of which the soil possessesso extraordinary a configuration, I have been compelled torecur to methods hitherto unattempted by geographers, be-cause the most simple ideas are usually those which occurthe last.
“I have represented whole countries, vast extents of ter-ritory in vertical projections, in the manner in which thesection of a mine or canal is drawn. The principles onwhich similar physical views ought to be constructed aredetailed in my Essay on Geological Pasigraphy. As theplaces of which it is important to know the absolute heightare rarely to be found on the same line, the section is com-posed of several planes, which differ in their direction, orrather of one plane, which exhibits the average parallel lineof direction on which the perpendiculars fall. In the lastcase the distances, exhibited by the physical map differ fromthe absolute distances, particularly when the mean directionof the points whose height and position have been determi-ned deviates considerably from the direction of the plane ofprojection. In sections of whole countries, as in sections of canals,the scale of distances cannot be equal to the scale of eleva-tions. If we were to attempt to give the same magnitudethese scales, we should be forced either to make the draw-ings of an immoderate length, or to adopt a scale of eleva-tion so small that the most remarkable inequalities of thesoil would become insensible. I have indicated on the plateby two arrows the heights which the Chimborazo and thecity of Mexico would have, if the physical view were sub-jected to the same standard in all its dimensions. We see |268|that in this case an elevation of 500 metres* would not occu-py in the drawing more than the space of a millimetre. But in employing for itinerary distances the scale of eleva-tions exhibited in the plates 6, 7, 8, which is nearly 270metres to the centimetre,§ a plate would be requisite ofmore than 15 metres in length, to represent the extent ofcountry comprised between the meridians of Mexico andVera Cruz! Hence from this inequality of scales, myphysical maps, as well as the sections of canals and roads,drawn up by engineers, do not exhibit the true declinationsof the soil, but these declinations, according to the natureof the projections employed, appear more rapid in the de-signs than they are in nature. This inconvenience is in-creased if the plains of a great elevation are of very smallextent, or if they are separated by deep and narrow valleys.It is from the proportion which the scales of distance andelevation bear to one another that the effect produced bythe section of a country principally depends. I shall notenter here into a minute discussion of the principles follow-ed by me in this kind of map. Every graphical methodshould be subject to rules, and it appeared to me so muchthe more necessary to point out some of these rules in thisplace, as the imitations of my views recently published arearbitrary projections on planes abounding with curves, ofwhich nothing indicates the direction in relation to thegreat circles of the sphere. “Physical maps in vertical projections can only be con-structed on knowing, for the points through which the planof projection passes, the three coordinates of longitude, la-titude, and elevation above the level of the ocean; and it isonly in uniting barometrical measurements with the resultsof astronomical observations, that the section of a countrycan be drawn. This kind of projection will become morefrequent in proportion as travellers shall addict themselvesmore assiduously to barometrical observations. But fewprovinces of Europe at this day offer the necessary mate-rials for constructing views analagous to those published byme of equinoxial America. “The construction of the sections, plates 6, 7 and 8, areabsolutely uniform. The scales are the same in all the three
* About 1640 feet.—Trans. .03937 of an inch.—ib. About 885feet.—ib. § .39371 of an inch.—ib. About 55 feet.—ib.
|269|views; the scales of distance are to those of height nearlyas one to twenty-four. The three maps indicate the natureof the rocks which compose the surface of the soil. Thisknowledge is interesting to agriculturalists; and it is alsouseful to engineers employed in constructing roads or canals.
“I have been blamed for not exhibiting in these sectionsthe superposition or situation of the secondary or primitivestrata, their inclination or their direction. I had particularreasons for not indicating these phenomena. I possess inmy itineraries all the necessary geological materials forforming what are usually called mineralogical maps. Agreat number of these materials were published by me inmy recent work on the measurement of the Cordillera ofthe Andes; but on mature examination I adopted the re-solution of separating entirely the geological sections whichdisplay the superposition of rocks from the physical viewswhich indicate inequalities of surface. It is very difficult,I had almost said impossible to construct a geological sec-tion of an extensive country, if this section must be subject-ed to a scale of elevation. A stratum of gypsum of onemetre* thick is often more interesting to a geologist thanan enormous mass of amygdaloid or porphyry; for the ex-istence of these very slender strata, and the manner in whichthey lie, throw light on the relative antiquity of formations.How then shall we trace the section of entire provinces, ifthe magnitude of the scale is to be such as to exhibit massesso inconsiderable? How shall we indicate in a narrow val-ley, in that of Papagayo, for example, (plate 7,) in a spaceof one or two millimetres of breadth, which the valley oc-cupies in the drawing, the different formations which reposeon one another? Those who have reflected on graphicalmethods, and endeavoured to improve them, will feel, likemyself, that these methods can never unite every advan-tage. A map, for instance, overcharged with signs, be-comes confused, and loses its principal advantage, the powerof conveying at once a great number of relations. The na-ture of the rocks and their mutual superposition interest thegeologist much more than the absolute elevation of forma-tions and thickness of strata. It is sufficient if a geologicalsection expresses the general aspect of the country, and itis only in freeing it from scales of height and distance that
* 39.371 inches. Trans. A millimetre contains .03937 of an inch. ib.
|270|it can indicate luminously the phenomena of stratification,which it is of importance for geologists to know.
“The physical view of the eastern declivity of New Spainis composed of three sections, which I have distinguishedby different colours. The cities of Mexico, and la Pueblade los Angeles, and the small hamlet of Cruz Blanca, situa-ted between Perote and las Vigas, are the points in whichthe intersection of the three planes of projection is made.I have added the longitude and latitude of these points, themedium direction of each section, and its length in Frenchleagues of twenty-five to the degree. “The two great volcanoes on the east of the valley of Te-nochtitlan, the Pic d’Orizaba, and the Cofre de Perote,were placed in the drawing according to their true longi-tudes. We have represented them as they appear when athick fog covers their base, and when their summits areseen above the clouds. Notwithstanding the enormousbreadth of these colossal mountains, we have not dared torepresent their whole contours, on account of the great ine-quality of the scales of height and distance. These volca-noes would have disfigured the view, rising like so manyslender columns above the plain. I have endeavoured torepresent very exactly the strange form, I had almost saidthe particular physiognomy, of the four great mountains ofthe Cordillera of Anahuac; and I flatter myself that thosewho travelled from Vera Cruz to Mexico, and who havebeen struck with the wonderful aspect of these majesticmountains, will perceive that the contours are exhibitedwith precision in this plate, and in No. 9 and 10. “That the reader may fix in his mind some important factsof physical geography, we have marked on the two sides ofthe views, near the scales of elevation, the height of theChimborazo, and of several mountains of the Alps andPyrenees; that of the limit of perpetual snows under the equator, under the parallel of Quito, and the 45° of latitude;the middle temperature of the air at the foot and on theslope of the Cordilleras; and, lastly, the elevations at whichcertain Mexican plants begin to be seen, or cease to vege-tate in the mountainous part of the country. Several ofthese phenomena are even repeated in all the maps; a repe-tition analogous to what all the thermometer scales formerlyexhibited, which indicated, though very inaccurately, themaximum and minimum of temperature observed under |271|such or such a zone. I believed that these sections, whichhave some analogy with the large view in my Geography ofplants, might perhaps contribute to propagate the study ofthe natural history of the globe.

VII. Physical View of the Western Declivity of theTable-Land of New Spain.

“This and the preceding view, and the section of thevalley of Tenochtitlan, (plate 8) are drawn up all three ac-cording to the principles laid down by me in discussing thesection of the eastern slope of the Cordilleras. I have fra-med on the same scale plates 7 and 8, that they may all beunited at pleasure into one, which will then extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea, and which will developto the geologist the extraordinary conformation of thewhole country. “It may be necessary to observe to those who wish tounite the sections 7 and 8, in cutting the two vertical scaleson which the heights of Puy-de-Dôme and Vesuvius aremarked, that the planes of projection of these sections in-tersect each other at right angles, in the centre of the city ofMexico. The medium direction of the first section, whichis itself composed of different planes, is from east to west;the medium direction of the second, the road from Mexicoto Acapulco, is from S. S. W. to N. N. W. The prolon-gation of the first section would extend nearly by Pascuaroand Zapotlan, to the Villa de la Purificacion. This planeprolonged to the west would terminate on the shores of theSouth Sea, between Cape Corrientes, and the port de laNavidad. As New Spain swells out singularly in thiswestern direction, it would follow that the descent of theCordillera, from the valley of Tenochtitlan to the plains ofthe intendancy of Guadalaxara, would be twice the lengthof the road from Mexico to Acapulco, sketched in plate 7.The barometrical measurements which I made betweenValladolid, Pascuaro, Ario, and Ocambaro, prove, that intracing this transversal section in the direction of the paral-lels of 19 or 20 degrees, the central plain would preservethe great elevation of 2,000 metres* for more than sixtyleagues to the west of the city of Mexico, while, in the di-
* 6.560 feet. Trans.
|272|rection of the section, No. 7, the plane never reaches thiselevation, after leaving the valley of Tenochtitlan towardsthe S. S. W.
“Yet a section directed from east to west, from VeraCruz to the small port de la Navidad, is far from giving ajuster idea of the geological constitution of New Spainthan the re-union of my two sections, No. 7 and 8. A sim-ple consideration of the true direction of the Cordillera of Anahuac is sufficient to prove what I advance. The cen-tral chain of the mountains runs from the province of Oax-aca to that of Durango, from the S. E. to the N W.; con-sequently, the plane of projection, to be perpendicular to thelongitudinal axis of the Cordillera, should not be placed par-allel to the equator, but drawn from the N. E. to the S. W.By reflecting on the particular structure and limits of thegroup of mountains, in the neighbourhood of the capital ofMexico, we shall find that the reunion of the two sections,No. vii. and viii. gives a less imperfect representation ofthe conformation of the country than we should be temptedto believe from purely theoretical ideas. In this mountain-ous region between the 19° and 20° of latitude, nothing an-nounces a longitudinal crest. There are none of those par-allel chains which geologists always admit in their works,and which geographers represent in the most arbitrary man-ner, in their maps of the two continents, like ranges of ele-vated dikes. The Cordillera of Anahuac increases towardsthe north, from whence the inclined planes formed by theeastern and western declivities are not parallel to one an-other in their middle direction. This direction is almostN. and S. along the coast of the gulf of Mexico, while it isS. E. and N. W. in the declivity opposite the Great Ocean.Hence the sections, to be perpendicular to the lines of de-clivity, cannot be in the same plane of projection.

VII. Physical View of the Central Table-Land ofNew Spain.

“The section of the road leading from Mexico to themines of Guanaxuato, the richest of the known world, wasdrawn up under my eye at Mexico, by M. Raphael Dava-los, a pupil of the school of mines, and a very zealous youngman. This drawing displays to the naturalist the great ele-vation of the table-land of Anahuac, which extends to the |273|north much beyond the torrid zone. The extraordinaryconfiguration of the Mexican soil recalls the elevated plainsof central Asia. It would be interesting to continue mysection from Guanaxuato to Durango and Chihuahua, par-ticularly to Santa Fe in New Mexico. For the table-landof Anahuac, as we shall hereafter prove, preserves towardsthe north for an extent of more than two hundred leaguesmore than 2,000* and for an extent of five hundred leaguesmore than 800 metres of absolute elevation.” The observing and enterprising traveller does not rest hisinquiries here. He states, with exact method and singularability the nine projects which have been formed for facili-tating intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,and superseding thereby the necessity of hazardous and cir-cuitous voyages through the Straits of Magellan, or aroundCape Horn. The view he presents of these ways and modesof communication are so plain and striking, that we insertthe passage in his own words. “1. Under the 54° 37′ of north latitude, in the parallelof Queen Charlotte’s Island, the sources of the river ofPeace, or Ounigigah, approach to within seven leagues ofthe sources of the Tacoutche-Tesse, supposed the same withthe river of Colombia. The first of these rivers dischargesitself into the Northern Ocean, after having mingled its wa-ters with those of the Slave Lake, and the river Mackenzie.The second river, Colombia, enters the Pacific Ocean, nearCape Disappointment, to the south of Nootka Sound, ac-cording to the celebrated voyager Vancouver, under the 46°19′ of latitude. The Cordillera, or chain of the StonyMountains, abounding in coal, was found by M. Fiedler tobe elevated in some places 3,520 English feet, or 550 toisesabove the neighbouring plains. It separates the sources ofthe rivers of Peace and Colombia. According to Macken-zie’s account, who passed this Cordillera in the month ofAugust, 1793, it is practicable enough for carriages, and themountains appear of no very great elevation. To avoidthe great winding of the Colombia, another communicationstill shorter might be opened from the sources of the Ta-coutche-Tesse to the Salmon River, the mouth of which isto the east of the Princess Royal Islands, in the 52° 23′ oflatitude. Mackenzie rightly observes, that the governmentwhich should open this communication between the twooceans, by forming regular establishments in the interior of
* 6,560 feet. Trans. 2,624 feet. ib. 2,624 feet. ib.
|274|the country, and at the extremities of the rivers, would getpossession of the whole fur trade of North America, fromthe 48° of latitude to the pole, excepting a part of the coastwhich has been long included in Russian America. Canada,from the multitude and course of its rivers, presents facili-ties for internal commerce similar to those of Oriental Sibe-ria. The mouth of the river Colombia seems to invite Eu-ropeans to found a fine colony there; for its banks affordfertile land in abundance, covered with superb timber. Itmust be allowed, however, that notwithstanding the examin-ation by Mr. Broughton, we still know but a very small partof Colombia, which, like the Severn and the Thames, ap-pears of a disproportionate contraction as it leaves the coast.Every geographer who carefully compares Mackenzie’smaps with Vancouver’s will be astonished that the Colombiain descending from these Stony Mountains, which we can-not help considering as a prolongation of the Andes ofMexico, should traverse the chain of mountains which ap-proach the shore of the Great Ocean, whose principal sum-mits are Mount St. Helen and Mount Rainier. But M.Malte Brun has started important doubts concerning theidentity of the Tacoutche-Tesse and the Rio Colombia.He even presumes that the former discharges itself into thegulf of California; a bold supposition, which would give tothe Tacoutche-Tesse a course of an enormous length. Itmust be allowed that all that part of the west of North Ame-rica is still but very imperfectly known.
“In the 50° of latitude, the Nelson River, the Saskasha-wan and the Missouri, which may be regarded as one ofthe principal branches of the Mississippi, furnish equal faci-lities of communication with the Pacific Ocean. All theserivers take their rise at the foot of the Stony Mountains.But we have not yet sufficient acquaintance with the natureof the ground through which the communication is proposedto be established, to pronounce upon the utility of theseprojects. The journey of Captain Lewis, at the expense ofthe Anglo-American government, on the Mississippi andthe Missouri, may throw considerable light on this interest-ing problem. “2. Under the 40° of latitude, the sources of the Rio delNorte, or Rio Bravo, a considerable river which flows intothe gulf of Mexico, are only separated from the sources ofthe Rio Colorado by a mountainous tract of from twelve tothirteen leagues of breadth. This tract is the continuation |275|of the Cordillera of the Cranes, which stretches towardsthe Sierra Verde and the lake of Timpanogos, celebratedin the Mexican history. The Rio S. Rafael and the RioS. Xavier are the principal sources of the river Zaguana-nas, which, with the Rio de Nabajoa, forms the Rio Colo-rado: the latter has its embouchure in the gulf of Califor-nia. These regions, abounding in rock salt, were exam-ined in 1777 by two travellers full of zeal and intrepidity,monks of the order of St. Francis, Father Escatante andFather Antonio Velez. But however interesting the RioZaguananas and the Rio del Norte may one day becomefor the internal commerce of this northern part of NewSpain, and however easy the carriage may be across themountains no communication will ever result from it com-parable to that opened directly from sea to sea. “3. The isthmus of Tehuantepec comprises, under the16° of latitude, the sources of the Rio Huasacualco, whichis discharged into the gulf of Mexico, and the sources ofthe Rio de Chimalapa. The waters of this last river mixwith those of the Pacific Ocean near the Barra de S. Fran-cisco. I consider here the Rio del Passo as the principalsource of the river Huasacualco, although the latter onlytakes its name at the Passo de la Fabrica, after one of itsarms, which comes from the mountains de los Mexes,unites with the Rio del Passo. We shall examine after-wards the possibility of cutting a canal of from six to se-ven leagues in the forests of Tarifa. We shall merely ob-serve here, that since 1798, a road has been openedwhich leads by land from the port of Tehuantepec, to theEmbarcadero de la Cruz, (a road completed in 1800,) theRio Huasacualco forms, in reality, a commercial commu-nication between the oceans. During the course of thewar with the English, the indigo of Guatimala, the mostprecious of all known indigoes, came by the way of thisisthmus to the port of Vera Cruz, and from thence to Eu-rope. “4. The great lake of Nicaragua communicates not onlywith the lake of Leon, but also on the east, by the river ofSan Juan, with the Sea of the Antilles. The communica-tion with the Pacific Ocean would be effected in cutting acanal across the isthmus which separates the lake from thegulf of Papagayo. On this strait isthmus are to be foundthe volcanic and isolated summits of Bombacho, (at 11°7′ of latitude,) of Grenada, and of the Papagayo, (at 10° |276|50′ of latitude.) The old maps point out a communica-tion by water as existing across the isthmus from the laketo the Great Ocean. Other maps, somewhat newer, repre-sent a river under the name of Rio Partido, which givesone of its branches to the Pacific Ocean, and the other tothe lake of Nicaragua; but this divided stream does notappear on the last maps published by the Spaniards andEnglish. “There are in the archives of Madrid several French andEnglish memoirs, on the possibility of the junction of thelake of Nicaragua with the Pacific Ocean. The com-merce carried on by the English on the coast of Mosquitoshas greatly contributed to give celebrity to this project ofcommunication between the two seas. In none of the me-moirs which have come to my knowledge is the principalpoint, the height of the ground in the isthmus, sufficientlycleared up. “From the kingdom of New Grenada to the environs ofthe capital of Mexico, there is not a single mountain, a sin-gle level, a single city, of which we know the elevationabove the level of the sea. Does there exist an uninter-rupted chain of mountains in the provinces of Veraguaand Nicaragua? Has this Cordillera, which is supposed tounite the Andes of Peru to the mountains of Mexico, itscentral chain to the west or the east of the lake of Nica-ragua? Would not the isthmus of Papagayo rather presenta hilly tract than a continued cordillera? These are pro-blems whose solution is equally interesting to the states-man and the geographical naturalist? “There is no spot on the globe so full of volcanoes as thispart of America, from the 11° or 13° of latitude; but donot these conical summits form groups which, separatelyfrom one another, rise from the plan itself? We ought notto be astonished that we are ignorant of these very import-ant facts; we shall soon see that even the height of themountains which traverse the isthmus of Panama is not yetknown. Perhaps the communication of the lake of Nica-ragua with the Pacific Ocean would be carried on by thelake of Leon, by means of the river Tosta, which, on theroad from Leon to Realexo, descends from the volcano ofTelica. In fact, the ground appears there very little ele-vated. The account of the voyage of Dampier leads useven to suppose that there exists no chain of mountains between the lake of Nicaragua and the South Sea. “The |277|coast of Nicoya,” says this great navigator, “is low, andcovered at full tide. To arrive from Realexo to Leon, wemust go twenty miles across a country flat and coveredwith mangle trees.” The city of Leon itself is situated ina savanna. There is a small river which, passing nearRealexo, might facilitate the communication between thelatter port and that of Leon. From the west bank of thelake of Nicaragua there are only four marine leagues tothe bottom of the gulf of Papagayo, and seven to that ofNicoya, which navigators call la Caldera. Dampier saysexpressly that the ground between la Caldera and the lakeis a little hilly, but for the greatest part level and like a sa-vanna. “The coast of Nicaragua is almost inaccessible in themonths of August, September and October, on account ofthe terrible storms and rains; in January and February,on account of the furious north-east and east-north-eastwinds, called Papagayos. This circumstance is exceed-ingly inconvenient for navigation. The port of Tehuan-tepec, on the isthmus of Guasacualco, is not more favouredby nature; it gives its name to the hurricanes which blowfrom the northwest, and which frighten vessels from land-ing at the small ports of Sabinas and Ventosa. 5. The isthmus of Panama was crossed for the first timeby Vasco Nunez de Bilboa, in 1513. Since this memo-rable epocha in the history of geographical discoveries, theproject of a canal has occupied every mind; and yet atthis day, after the lapse of 300 years, there neither exists asurvey of the ground, nor an exact determination of thepositions of Panama and Porto-bello. The longitude ofthe first of these two ports has been found with relation toCarthagena; the longitude of the second has been fixedfrom Guayaquil. The operations of Fidalgo and Malas-pina are undoubtedly deserving of very great confidence;but errors are insensibly multiplied, when by chronome-trical operations from the isle of Trinidad to Porto-bello,and from Lima to Panama, one position becomes depen-dent on another. It would be important to carry thetime directly from Panama to Porto-bello, and thus to con-nect the operations in the South Sea with those which theSpanish government has carried on in the Atlantic Ocean.Perhaps MM. Fidalgo, Tiscar, and Noguera, may oneday, advance with their instruments to the southern coastof the isthmus, while MM. Colmenares, Isasviravill, and |278|Quartara, shall carry their operations to the northern coast.To form an idea of the uncertainty which still prevails asto the form and breadth of the isthmus, (for example to-wards Nata,) we have only to compare the maps of Lopezwith those of Arrowsmith, and with the more recent onesof the Deposito Hydrografico of Madrid. The riverChagre, which flows into the sea of the Antilles to the westof Porto-bello, presents, notwithstanding its sinuosities andits rapids, great facility for commerce; its breadth is 120toises at its mouth, and 20 toises near Cruces, where it be-gins to be navigable. It requires four or five days at pre-sent to ascend the Rio Chagre from its mouth to Cruces.If the waters are very high, the current must be struggledwith for ten or twelve days. From Cruces to Panamamerchandise is transported on the backs of mules for aspace of five small leagues. The barometrical heights re-lated in the travels of Ulloa lead me to suppose that thereexists in the Rio Chagre, from the sea of the Antilles tothe Embarcadero, or Venta de Cruces, a difference of le-vel of from 35 to 40 toises. This must appear a verysmall difference to those who have ascended the Rio Cha-gre; they forget that the force of the current depends asmuch on a great accumulation of water near the sources,as on the general descent of the river; that is to say, ofthe descent of the Rio Chagre above Cruces. On compa-ring the barometrical survey of Ulloa with that made bymyself in the river of Magdalen, we perceive that the ele-vation of Cruces above the ocean, far from being small, is,on the contrary, very considerable. The fall of the Rio dela Madelena from Honda to the dyke of Mahates, nearBarrancas, is nearly 170 toises;* and this distance never-theless is not as we might suppose four times, but eighttimes, greater, than that of Cruces at the fort of Chagre. “The engineers in proposing to the court of Madrid thatthe river Chagre should serve for establishing a communi-cation between the two oceans, have projected a canal fromthe Venta de Cruces to Panama. This canal would haveto pass through a hilly tract of the height of which we arecompletely ignorant. We only know that, from Cruces,the ascent is at first rapid, and that there is then a descentfor several hours towards the South Sea. It is very asto-nishing that, in crossing the isthmus, neither La Conda-
* 1088 feet. Trans.
|279|mine nor Don George Juan and Ulloa had the curiosity toobserve their barometer, for the sake of informing us whatis the height of the most elevated point on the route to thecastle of Chagre at Panama. These illustrious savans so-journed three months in that interesting region for thecommercial world; but their stay has added little to theold observations which we owe to Dampier and to Wafer.However, it appears beyond a doubt that we find the prin-cipal Cordillera, or rather a range of hills that may be re-garded as a prolongation of the Andes of New Grenada,towards the South Sea, between Cruces and Panama. Itis from thence that the two oceans are said to be discerni-ble at the same time, which would only require an absoluteheight of 290 metres. However, Lionel Wafer com-plains that he could not enjoy this interesting spectacle.He assures us, moreover, that the hills which form thecentral chain are separated from one another by valleyswhich allow free course for passage of the rivers. If thislast assertion be founded, we might believe in the possibi-lity of a canal from Cruces to Panama, of which the navi-gation would only be interrupted by a very few locks.
“There are other points where, according to memoirsdrawn up in 1528, the isthmus has been proposed to becut, for example in joining the sources of the rivers calledCaimito and Rio Grande, with the Rio Trinidad. Theeastern part of the isthmus is the narrowest, but the groundappears to be also most elevated there. This is at leastwhat has been remarked in the frightful road travelled bythe courier from Porto-bello to Panama, a two days jour-ney, which goes by the village of Pequeni, and is full ofthe greatest difficulties. “In every age and climate, of two neighbouring seas, theone has been considered as more elevated than the other.Traces of this vulgar opinion are to be found among theancients. Strabo relates, that in his time the gulf of Co-rinth near Lechaeum was believed to be above the level ofthe sea of Cenchreae. He is of opinion that it would bevery dangerous to cut the isthmus of the Peloponesus inthe place where the Corinthians, by means of particularmachines, had established a portage. In America, theSouth Sea is generally supposed to be higher at the isth-mus of Panama than the Atlantic Ocean. After a strug-
947 Engliſh feet. Trans.
|280|gle of several days against the current of the Rio Chagre,we naturally believe the ascent to be greater than the des-cent from the hills near Cruces to Panama. Nothing infact, can be more treacherous than the estimates which weare apt to form of the difference of level on a long and easydescent. I could hardly believe my own eyes at Peru,when I found by means of a barometrical measurement,that the city of Lima was 91 toises* higher than the portof Callao. An earthquake must cover entirely the rockof the isle San Lorenzo with water before the ocean canreach the capital of Peru. The idea of a difference oflevel between the Atlantic and South Sea has been combatedby Don George Juan, who found the height of the columnof mercury the same at the mouth of the Chagre and atPanama.
“The imperfection of the meteorological instruments thenin use, and the want of every sort of thermometrical correc-tion of the calculation of heights might also give rise todoubts. These doubts have acquired additional forcesince the French engineers in the expedition to Egypt,found the Red Sea six toises higher than the Mediterra-nean. Till a geometrical survey be executed in the isth-mus itself, we can only have recourse to barometrical mea-surements. Those made by me at the mouth of the RioSinu in the Atlantic Sea, and on the coast of the SouthSea in Peru, prove, with every allowance for temperature,that if there is a difference of level between the two seas, itcannot exceed six or seven metres. “When we consider the effect of the current of rotation, which carries the waters from east to west, and accumu-lates them towards the coast of Costa Ricca and Veragua,we are tempted to admit, contrary to the received opinion,that the Atlantic is a little higher than the South Sea.Trivial causes of a local nature, such as the configurationof the coast, currents and winds, (as in the straits of Babel-mandel,) may trouble the equilibrium which ought neces-sarily to exist between all the parts of the ocean. As thetides rise at Porto-bello to a third part of a metre, and atPanama to four or five metres,§ the levels of the two neigh-bouring seas ought to vary with the different establishmentsof the ports. But these trivial inequalities, far from ob-
* 582 feet.—Trans. 38 feet.—Ib. 19 or 22 feet.—Ib. 13 inches.—Ib. § 13 or 16 feet.—Ib.
|281|structing hydraulical operations, would even be favourablefor sluices.
“We cannot doubt that if the isthmus of Panama wereonce burst by some similar catastrophe to that which open-ed the column of Hercules, the current of rotation in placeof ascending towards the gulf of Mexico, and issuingthrough the canal of Bahama, would follow the same pa-rallel from the coast of Paria to the Philippine islands.The effect of this opening, or new strait, would extendmuch beyond the banks of Newfoundland, and wouldeither occasion the disappearance or diminish the celerityof the Hotwater River, known by the name of Gulf Stream,which leaving Florida on the north-east, flows in the 43°of latitude to the east, and especially the south-east towardsthe coast of Africa. Such would be the effects of an in-undation analogous to that of which the memory has beenpreserved in the traditions of the Samothracians. Butshall we dare to compare the pitiful works of man with ca-nals cut by nature herself, with straits like the Hellespontand the Dardanelles! Strabo appears inclined to believe that the sea will oneday open the isthmus of Suez. No such catastrophe canbe expected in the isthmus of Panama, unless enormousvolcanic convulsions, very improbable in the actual state ofrepose of our planet, should occasion extraordinary revo-lutions. A tongue of land lengthened out from east to westin a direction almost parallel to that of the current of rota-tion escapes, as it were, the shock of the waves. The isth-mus of Panama would be seriously threatened, if it ex-tended from south to north, and was situated between theport of Carthago and the mouth of the Rio San Juan, if thenarrowest part of the new continent lay betwen the 10° andthe 11° of latitude. “The navigation of the river Chagre is difficult, both onaccount of its sinuosities and the celerity of the current,frequently from one to two metres per second.* The si-nuosities, however afford a counter current, by means ofwhich the small vessels called bongos, and chatas, ascendthe river, either with oars, poles, or towing. Were thesesinuosities to be cut, and the old bed of the river to bedried up, this advantage would cease, and it would be in-finitely difficult to arrive from the North Sea to Cruces.
* From 3.28 to 6.56 feet. Trans.
|282| “From all the information which I could procure relatingto this isthmus, while I remained at Carthagena and Gua-yaquil, it appears to me, that the expectation of a canal ofseven metres* in depth, and from twenty-two to twenty-eight metres in breadth, which, like a pass or a strait,should go from sea to sea, and admit the vessels whichsail from Europe to the East Indies, ought to be complete-ly abandoned. The elevation of the ground would forcethe engineer to have recourse either to subterraneous gal-leries, or to the system of sluices; and the merchandisedestined to pass the isthmus of Panama could only there-fore be transported in flat-bottomed boats unable to keepthe sea. Entrepots at Panama and Portobello would berequisite. Every nation which wished to trade in thisway would be dependent on the masters of the isthmus andcanal; and this would be a very great inconvenience forthe vessels despatched from Europe. Supposing then thatthis canal were cut, the greatest number of these vesselswould probably continue their voyage round Cape Horn.We see that the passage of the Sound is still frequented,notwithstanding the existence of the Eyder canal, whichconnects the ocean with the Baltic sea. “It would be otherwise with the productions of western America, or the goods sent from Europe to the coast ofthe Pacific Ocean. These goods would cross the isthmusat less expense, and with less danger, particularly in timeof war, than in doubling the southern extremity of the newcontinent. In the present state of things the carriage ofthree quintals on mule-back from Panama to Porto-bellocosts from three to four piasters, (from 12s. 6d. to 16s. 8d.)But the uncultivated state in which the government allowsthe isthmus to remain is such, that the carriage of the cop-per of Chili, the quinquina of Peru, and the 60 or 70,000vanegas of cacao annually exported by Guayaquil, acrossthis neck of land, requires many more beasts of burthenthan can be procured, so that the slow and expensive navi-gation round Cape Horn is preferred. “In 1802 and 1803, when the Spanish commerce wasevery where harassed by the English cruizers, a great partof the cacao was carried across the kingdom of New Spain,and embarked at Vera Cruz for Cadiz. They preferredthe passage from Guayaquil to Acapulco, and a land
* 22 feet 11 inches.—Trans. From 72 feet 2 inches, to 91 feet 10 inches.—ib.
|283|journey of a hundred leagues from Acapulco to Vera Cruz,to the danger of a long navigation by Cape Horn, and thedifficulty of struggling with the current along the coasts ofPeru and Chili. This example proves, that, if the construc-tion of a canal across the isthmus of Panama, or that of Guasa-cualco, abounds with too many difficulties from the multi-plicity of sluices, the commerce of America would gainthe most important advantages from good causeways carriedfrom Tehuantepec to the Embarcadero de la Cruz, andfrom Panama to Porto-bello. It is true that in the isthmus,the pasturage to this day is very unfavourable to the nour-ishment and multiplication of cattle; but it would be easyin so fertile a soil to form savannas, by cutting down forests,or to cultivate the paspalum purpureum, the milium nigri-cans and particularly the medicago sativa, which growsabundantly in Peru in the warmest districts. The intro-duction of camels would be still a surer means of diminish-ing the expense of carriage. These land ships, as they arecalled by the orientals, hitherto exist only in the provinceof Caraccas, and were brought there from the Canary isl-ands by the Marquis de Toro.
“Moreover, no political consideration should oppose theprogress of population, agriculture, commerce and civiliza-tion, in the isthmus of Panama. The more this neck ofland shall be cultivated, the more resistance will it opposeto the enemies of the Spanish government. The eventswhich took place at Buenos Ayres prove the advantages ofa concentrated population in the case of an invasion. Ifany enterprising nation wished to become possessed of theisthmus, it could do so with the greatest ease at present,when good and numerous fortifications are destitute of armsto defend them. The unhealthiness of the climate, thoughnow much diminished at Porto-bello, would alone opposegreat obstacles to any military undertaking in the isthmus.It is from St. Charles de Chiloe, and not from Panama,that Peru can be attacked. It requires from three to fivemonths to ascend from Panama to Lima. But the whaleand cachalot fishery, which in 1803 drew 60 English vesselsto the South Sea, and the facilities for the Chinese com-merce and the furs of Nootka Sound, are baits of a veryseductive nature. They will draw, sooner or later, themasters of the ocean to a point of the globe destined by na- |284|ture to change the face of the commercial system of na-tions. “6. To the south-east of Panama, following the coast ofthe Pacific Ocean, from Cape S. Miguel to Cape Corientes,we find the small port and bay of Cupica. The name ofthis bay has acquired celebrity in the kingdom of NewGrenada, on account of a new plan of communication be-tween the two seas. From Cupica, we cross, for five orsix marine leagues, a soil quite level and proper for a canal,which would terminate at the Embarcadero of the RioNaipi. This last river is navigable, and flows below thevillage of Zitara into the great Rio Atrato, which itselfenters the Atlantic Sea. A very intelligent Biscayan pilot,M. Gogueneche, was the first who had the merit of turningthe attention of government to the bay of Cupica, whichought to be for the new continent what Suez was formerlyfor Asia. M. Gogueneche proposed to transport the cacaoof Guayaquil, by the Rio Naipi to Carthagena. The sameway offers the advantage of a very quick communicationbetween Cadiz and Lima. Instead of despatching couriersby Carthagena, Santa Fe, and Quito, or by Buenos Ayresand Mendoza, good quick sailing packet-boats should besent from Cupica to Peru. If this plan were carried intoexecution, the viceroy of Lima would have no longer towait five or six months for the orders of his court. Besidesthe environs of the Bay of Cupica abounds with excellenttimber fit to be carried to Lima. We might almost saythat the ground between Cupica and the mouth of the Atrato is the only part of all America in which the chain of the Andes is entirely broken. “7. In the interior of the province of Choco, the smallravine (Quebrada) de la Raspadura, unites the neighbour-ing sources of the Rio de Noanama, called also Rio SanJuan, and the small river Quito. The latter, the Rio An-dageda and the Rio Zitara, form the Rio d’Atrato whichdischarges itself into the Atlantic Ocean, while the Rio SanJuan flows into the South Sea. A monk of great activity, curé of the village of Novita, employed his parishioners todig a small canal in the ravine de la Raspadura, by meansof which, when the rains are abundant, canoes loaded withcacao pass from sea to sea. This interior communicationhas existed since 1788, unknown in Europe. The small |285|canal of Raspadura unites, on the coasts of the two oceans,two points 75 leagues distant from one another. “8. In the 10° of south latitude, two or three days jour-ney from Lima, we reach the banks of the Rio Guallaga,(or Huallaga,) by which we may, without doubling CapeHorn, arrive at the banks of the grand Para in Brazil.The sources even of the Rio Huanuco, which runs intothe Guallaga, are only four or five leagues distant from thesource of the Rio Huaura, which flows into the PacificOcean. The Rio Xauxo, also, which contributes to formthe Apuremac and the Ucayale, has its rise near the sourceof the Rio Rimac. The height of the Cordillera, and thenature of the ground, render the execution of a canal im-possible; but the construction of a commodious road, fromthe capital of Peru to the Rio de Huanaco, would facili-tate the transport of goods to Europe. The great riversUcayale and Guallaga would carry in five or six weeks theproductions of Peru to the mouth of the Amazons, andto the neighbouring coasts of Europe, while a passage offour months is requisite to convey the same goods to thesame point, in doubling Cape Horn. The cultivation ofthe fine regions situated on the eastern declivity of the An-des, and the prosperity and wealth of their inhabitants, de-pend on the free navigation of the river of the Amazons.This liberty, denied by the court of Portugal to the Spani-ards, might have been acquired in the sequel to the eventswhich preceded the peace of 1801. “9. Before the coast of the Patagonians was sufficientlyknown, the Gulf of St. George, situated between the 45°and the 47° of south latitude, was supposed to enter so farinto the interior of the country, as to communicate with thearms of the sea which interrupt the continuity of the west-ern coast, that is to say, with the coast opposite to the archi-pelago of Chayamapu. Were this supposition founded onsolid basis, the vessels destined for the South Sea mightcross South America 7° to the north of the Straits of Ma-gellan, and shorten their route more than 700 leagues. Inthis way, navigators might avoid the dangers which, not-withstanding the perfection of nautical science, still accom-pany the voyage round Cape Horn and along the Patagoniancoast, from Cape Pilares to the parallel of the Chonos isl-ands, These ideas, in 1790, occupied the attention of thecourt of Madrid. M. Gil Lemos, viceroy of Peru, an up- |286|right and zealous administrator, equipped a small expedi-tion under the orders M. Moraleda, to examine the south-ern coast of Chili. I saw the instructions that he receivedat Lima, which recommended to him the greatest secrecyin case he should be happy enough to discover a communi-cation between the two seas. But M. Moraleda discover-ed in 1794, that the Estero de Aysen, visited before him in1763 by the jesuits, fathers Jose Garcia and Juan Vicuna,was of all the arms of the sea that in which the waters of theocean advance the farthest towards the east. Yet it is buteight leagues in length, and terminates at the isle de laCruz, where it receives a small river, near a hot spring.Hence the canal of Aysen, situated in the 45° 28′ of lati-tude, is still 88 leagues distant from the Gulf of St. George.This gulf was exactly surveyed by the expedition of Malas-pina. In the year 1746 a communication was, in the samemanner, suspected in Europe between the bay of St. Julien(latitude 50° 53′) and the Great Ocean. “I have sketched in one plate the nine points which appearto afford means of communication between the two oceans,by the junction of neighbouring rivers, either by canals orcarriage-roads between the places where the rivers becomenavigable. These sketches are not of equal accuracy, as-tronomically considered; but I wished to save the readerthe labour of seeking in several maps what may be con-tained in one; and it is the duty of the government whichpossesses the finest and most fertile part of the globe toperfect what I have merely hinted at in this discussion.Two Spanish engineers, MM. Le Maur, drew up superbplans of the canal de los Guines, projected for traversingthe whole island of Cuba, from Batabano to the Havannah.A similar survey of the isthmus of Guasacualco, the lakeNicaragua, of the country between Cruces and Panama,and between Cupica and the Rio Naipi, would direct thestatesman in his choice, and enable him to decide if it isat Mexico or Darien that this undertaking should be exe-cuted; an undertaking calculated to immortalize a govern-ment occupied with the true interests of humanity. “The long circumnavigation of South America wouldthen be less frequent; and a communication would beopened for the goods which pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea. The time is past “when Spain, througha jealous policy, refused to other nations a thoroughfare |287|through the possessions of which she so long kept the world inignorance.” Those who are at present at the head of thegovernment are enlightened enough to give a favourable re-ception to the liberal ideas proposed to them: and the pre-sence of a stranger is no longer regarded as a danger forthe country. “Should a canal of communication be opened between thetwo oceans, the productions of Nootka Sound and of Chinawill be brought more than 2,000 leagues nearer to Europeand the United States. Then only can any great changesbe effected in the political state of Eastern Asia, for thisneck of land, the barrier against the waves of the AtlanticOcean, has been for many ages the bulwark of the indepen-dence of China and Japan.” |348| Humboldt’s Travels, continued. In continuation of the review of this important work, welay before our readers a short quotation, from which theywill learn that in ascending from the level of the ocean togreat heights in the atmosphere, there is a succession ofclimates resembling those experienced in passing from the equator towards the poles. “We have thus sketched a view of the Cordilleras ofNew Spain. We have remarked that the coasts alone ofthis vast kingdom possess a warm climate adapted for theproductions of the West Indies. The intendancy of VeraCruz, with the exception of the plain which extends fromPerote to the Pic d’Orizaba, Yucatan, the coast of Oaxaca,the maratime provinces of New Santander and Texas, thenew kingdom of Leon, the province of Cohahuila, the un-cultivated country called Bolson de Mapini, the coast ofCalifornia, the western part of Sonora, Cinaloa, and NewGallicia, the southern regions of the intendancies of Valla-dolid, Mexico, and La Puebla, are low grounds intersect-ed with very inconsiderable hills. The mean temperatureof these plains, of those at least situated within the tropics,and whose elevation above the level of the sea does not ex-ceed 300* metres, is from 25° to 26° of the centigradethermometer; that is to say, from 8° to 9° greater than themean heat of Naples. “These fertile regions, which the natives call Tierras ca-lientes, produce in abundance sugar, indigo, cotton, and ba-nanas. But when Europeans, not seasoned to the climate,remain in these countries for any time, particularly in popu-lous cities, they become the abode of the yellow fever,known by the name of black vomiting, or vomito prieto.
* 984 feet. Trans. 77° of Fahrenheit. Trans. From 14° to 16° of Fahrenheit. Trans.
|349|The port of Acapulco, and the valleys of Papagayo and Pe-regrino, are among the hottest and unhealthy places of theearth. On the eastern coast of New Spain, the great heatsare occasionally interrupted by strata of cold air, brought bythe winds from Hudson’s Bay towards the parallels of theHavannah and Vera Cruz. These impetuous winds blowfrom October to March; they are announced by the extra-ordinary manner in which they disturb the regular recurrenceof the small atmospherical tides, or horary variations of thebarometer; and they frequently cool the air to such a de-gree that at Havannah the centigrade thermometer descendsto 0°, and at Vera Cruz to 16°; a prodigious fall forcountries in the torrid zone.
“On the declivity of the Cordillera, at the elevation of 12or 1500** metres, there reigns perpetually a soft springtemperature, which never varies more than four or five de-grees, (seven or nine of Fahrenheit.) The extremes ofheat and cold are there equally unknown. The nativesgive to this region the name of Tierras templadas, in whichthe mean heat of the whole year is from 20° to 21°.* Suchis the fine climate of Xalappa, Tasco, and Chilpansingo,three cities celebrated for their great salubrity, and the abun-dance of fruit trees which grow in their neighbourhood.Unfortunately, this mean height of 1,300 metres is theheight to which the clouds ascend above the plains adjoin-ing to the sea; from which circumstance these temperateregions, situated on the declivity, (for example, the envi-rons of the city of Xalappa,) are frequently enveloped inthick fogs. “It remains for us to speak of the third zone, known by thedenomination of Tieras frias. It comprehends the plainselevated more than 2,200 metres above the level of the o-cean, of which the mean temperature is under 17°.§ In thecapital of Mexico, the centigrade thermometer has beenknown to fall several degrees below the freezing point;but this is a very rare phenomenon; and the winters are usu-ally as mild there as at Naples. In the coldest season, themean heat of the day is from 13° to 14.° In summer the
32° of Fahrenheit. Trans. 60° of Fahrenheit. Trans. ** From 3,936 to 4,920 feet. Trans. * From 68° to 70° of Fahrenheit. Trans. 4,264 feet. Trans. 7,217 feet. Trans. § 62° of Fahrenheit. Trans. From 55° to 70° of Fahrenheit. Trans.
|350|thermometer never rises in the shade above 24°. Themean temperature of the whole table-land of Mexico is ingeneral 17°** which is equal to the temperature of Rome.Yet this same table-land, according to the classification ofthe natives, belongs, as we have already stated to the Tier-ras frias; from which we may see that the expressions, hotor cold, have no absolute value. At Guayaquil, under aburning sky, the people of colour complain of excessivecold, when the centigrade thermometer suddenly sinks to24°,* while it remains the rest of the day at 30°.
“But the plains more elevated than the valley of Mexico,for example, those whose absolute height exceeds 2,500 me-tres, possess, within the tropics, a rude and disagreeableclimate, even to an inhabitant of the north. Such are theplains of Toluca, and the heights of Guchilaque, where, du-ring a great part of the day, the air never heats to morethan 6° or 8°,§ and the olive tree bears no fruit, thoughit is cultivated successfully a few hundred metres lower inthe valley of Mexico. “All these regions called cold enjoy a mean temperatureof from 11° to 13°, equal to that of France and Lombardy.Yet the vegetation is less vigorous, and the European plantsdo not grow with the same rapidity as in their natal soil.The winters, at an elevation of 2,500 metres, are not ex-tremely rude; but the sun has not sufficient power in sum-mer over the rarefied air of these plains to accelerate thedevelopement of flowers, and to bring fruits to perfect ma-turity. This constant equality, this want of a strong ephe-meral heat, imprints a peculiar character on the climate ofthe higher equinoctial regions. Thus the cultivation ofseveral vegetables succeeds worse on the ridge of the Mex-ican Cordilleras than in plains situated to the north of thetropic, though frequently the mean heat of these plains isless than that of the plains between the 19° and 22° oflatitude.” Nothing has been a more trite and erroneous subject ofvulgar remark than the ignorance of the lazy Dons. Thissilly cant has been imitated in our country from the English.
75° of Fahrenheit. Trans. ** 62° of Fahrenheit. Trans. * 75° of Fahrenheit. Trans. 86° of Fahrenheit. Trans. 8,201 feet. Trans. § 43° or 46° of Fahrenheit. Trans. From 51° to 55° of Fahrenheit. Trans.
|351|It has been so frequently repeated and so widely pro-pagated, that many of our honest patriots sincerely believethe Spaniards are by a great difference their inferiors.This is a miserable, and unworthy prejudice. A moderateinquiry will evince that New Spain, has produced a fullproportion of respectable observers and of valuable writ-ings. And we may say without hesitation, that the Naturalhistory of the American Provinces, subject to CastilianMonarchs, has been more particularly studied, than in theUnited States. And as to public spirit and patronage, ithas been manifested in the endowments of learned institu-tions, and in the encouragement of scientific men, to an ex-tent of which, no parallel exists in our state of Society.
We copy the author’s description of the liberality andmunificence of the government, as well for the purpose ofcorrecting some of the existing mistakes, as with the desireof encouraging our legislatures, associations and wealthy in-dividuals to imitate such noble examples: “No city of the new continent, without even exceptingthose of the United States, can display such great and solidscientific establishments as the capital of Mexico. I shallcontent myself here with naming the School of Mines, di-rected by the learned Elhuyar, to which we shall returnwhen we come to speak of the mines; the Botanic Gar-den; and the Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Thisacademy bears the title of Academia de los Nobles Artes deMexico. It owes its existence to the patriotism of severalMexican individuals, and to the protection of the minister Galvez. The government assigned it a spacious building,in which there is a much finer and more complete collectionof casts than is to be found in any part of Germany. Weare astonished on seeing that the Apollo of Belvidere, thegroup of Laocoon, and still more colossal statues, havebeen conveyed through mountainous roads at least as nar-row as those of St. Gothard; and we are surprised atfinding these masterpieces of antiquity collected togetherunder the torrid zone, in a table-land higher than the con-vent of the great St. Bernard. The collection of castsbrought to Mexico cost the king 200,000 francs.* The re-mains of the Mexican sculpture, those colossal statues ofbasaltes and porphyry, which are covered with Aztec hie-roglyphics, and bear some relation to the Egyptian andHindoo style, ought to be collected together in the edifice
* 8334l ſterling. Trans.
|352| of the academy, or rather in one of the courts which belongto it. It would be curious to see these monuments of thefirst cultivation of our species, the works of a semibarba-rous people inhabiting the Mexican Andes, placed besidethe beautiful forms produced under the sky of Greece andItaly. “The revenues of the Academy of Fine Arts at Mexicoamount to 125,000 francs,* of which the government gives60,000, the body of Mexican miners nearly 25,000, the consulado, or association of merchants of the capital, morethan 1,500. It is impossible not to perceive the influenceof this establishment on the taste of the nation. This in-fluence is particularly visible in the symmetry of the build-ings, in the perfection with which the hewing of stone isconducted, and in the ornaments of the capitals and stuccorelievos. What a number of beautiful edifices are to beseen at Mexico! nay, even in provincial towns like Guana-xuato and Queretaro! These monuments, which frequent-ly cost a million and a million and a half of francs, wouldappear to advantage in the finest streets of Paris, Berlin,and Petersburgh. M. Tolsa, professor of sculpture atMexico, was even able to cast an equestrian statue of King Charles the Fourth; a work which, with the exception ofthe Marcus Aurelius at Rome, surpasses in beauty andpurity of style every thing which remains in this wayin Europe. Instruction is communicated gratis at theAcademy of Fine Arts. It is not confined alone to thedrawing of landscapes and figures; they have the goodsense to employ other means for exciting the national in-dustry. The academy labours successfully to introduceamong the artisans a taste for elegance and beautiful forms.Large rooms, well lighted by Argand’s lamps, contain eve-ry evening some hundreds of young people, of whom somedraw from relievo or living models, while others copydrawings of furniture, chandeliers, or other ornaments inbronze. In this assemblage (and this is very remarkablein the midst of a country where the prejudices of the no-bility against the casts are so inveterate) rank, colour, andrace is confounded: we see the Indian and the Mestizo sitting beside the white, and the son of a poor artisan inemulation with the children of the great lords of the coun-
* 5,208l. ſterling. Trans. 41,670l. and 62,505l. Trans.
|353|try. It is a consolation to observe, that under every zonethe cultivation of science and art establishes a certain equali-ty among men, and obliterates for a time, at least, all thosepetty passions of which the effects are so prejudicial to so-cial happiness.
“Since the close of the reign of Charles the Third, andunder that of Charles the Fourth, the study of the physicalsciences has made great progress, not only in Mexico, butin general in all the Spanish colonies. No Europeangovernment has sacrificed greater sums to advance theknowledge of the vegetable kingdom than the Spanish gov-ernment. Three botanical expeditions in Peru, New Gra-nada, and New Spain, under the direction of MM. Ruiz and Pavon, Don Jose Celestino Mutis, and MM. Sesse and Mocino, have cost the state near two millions offrancs.* Moreover, botanical gardens have been establish-ed at Manilla and the Canary islands. The commissiondestined to draw plans of the canal of los Guines, was alsoappointed to examine the vegetable productions of the islandof Cuba. All these researches, conducted during twenty yearsin the most fertile regions of the new continent, have notonly enriched science with more than four thousand newspecies of plants, but have also contributed much to dif-fuse a taste for natural history among the inhabitants of thecountry. The city of Mexico exhibits a very interestingbotanical garden within the very precincts of the viceroy’spalace. Professor Cervantes gives annual courses there,which are very well attended. This savant possesses, be-sides his herbals, a rich collection of Mexican minerals.M. Mocino, whom we just now mentioned as one of thecoadjutors of M. Sesse, and who has pushed his laboriousexcursions from the kingdom of Guatimala to the north-west coast or island of Vancouver and Quadra; and M. Echeveria, a painter of plants and animals, whose workswill bear a comparison with the most perfect productionsof the kind in Europe, are both of them natives of New-Spain. They had both attained a distinguished rankamong savans and artists before quitting their country. “The principles of the new chemistry, which is knownin the Spanish colonies by the equivocal appellation of newphilosophy, (nueva filosofia,) are more diffused in Mexi-
* 83,340l. ſterling. Trans.
|354|co than in many parts of the peninsula. A European tra-veller cannot undoubtedly but be surprised to meet in theinterior of the country, on the very borders of California,with young Mexicans who reason on the decomposition ofwater in the process of amalgamation with free air. TheSchool of Mines possesses a chemical laboratory: a geo-logical collection, arranged according to the system of Wer-ner; a physical cabinet, in which we not only find the val-uable instruments of Ramsden, Adams, Le Noir, and Louis Berthoud, but also models executed in the capital,even with the greatest precision, and from the finest woodin the country. The best mineralogical work in the Spa-nish language was printed at Mexico, I mean the Manuelof Oryctognosy, composed by M. del Rio, according tothe principles of the school of Freyberg, in which the au-thor was formed. The first Spanish translation of Lavoi-sier’s Elements of Chemistry was also published at Mexico.I cite these insulated facts because they give us the measureof the ardour with which the exact sciences are begun tobe studied in the capital of New Spain. This ardour ismuch greater than that with which they addict themselvesto the study of languages and ancient literature.
“Instruction in mathematics is less carefully attended toin the university of Mexico than in the School of Mines.The pupils of this last establishment go farther into analy-sis; they are instructed in the integral and differential cal-culi. On the return of peace and free intercourse withEurope, when astronomical instruments (chronometers,sextants, and the repeating circles of Borda) shall becomemore common, young men will be found in the most re-mote parts of the kingdom capable of making observations,and cultivating them after the most recent methods. Ihave already indicated in the analysis of my maps the ad-vantage which might be drawn by the government fromthis extraordinary aptitude in constructing a map of thecountry. The taste for astronomy is very old in Mexico.Three distinguished men, Velasquez, Gama, and Alzate,did honour to their country towards the end of the last cen-tury. All the three made a great number of astronomicalobservations, especially of eclipses of the satellites of Ju-piter. Alzate, the worst informed of them, was the corre-spondent of the Academy of Sciences at Paris. Inaccurateas an observer, and of an activity frequently impetuous, he |355|gave himself up to too many objects at a time. We havealready discussed in the geographical introduction the me-rits of his astronomical labours. He is entitled to the realmerit, however, of having excited his countrymen to thestudy of the physical sciences. The Gazetta de Litteratu-ra, which he published for a long time at Mexico, contri-buted singularly to give encouragement and impulsion tothe Mexican youth.” That Intendancy of New Spain which lies contiguous tothe territory of the United States, is that of Saint LouisPotosi. It is highly gratifying to acquire correct informa-tion of this neighbouring region, about which, we haveheretofore known so little. Its extent and jurisdiction arepourtrayed in Vol. 2. p. 182 and seq. The natural positionand civil arrangement of this vast region are described in amanner too interesting to the Fredish citizen to be passedover. We therefore insert it, as it forms the tenth articleof his statistical analysis. “This intendancy comprehends the whole of the north-east part of the kingdom of New Spain. As it borderseither on desert countries, or countries inhabited by wan-dering and independent Indians, we may say that its nor-thern limits are hardly determined. The mountainoustract called the Bolson de Mapimi includes more than 3,000square leagues, from which the Apachis sally out to attackthe colonists of Cohahuila and New Biscay. Indented in-to these two provinces, and bounded on the north by thegreat Rio del Norte, the Bolson de Mapimi is sometimesconsidered as a country not conquered by the Spaniards,and sometimes as composing a part of the intendancy ofDurango. I have traced the limits of Cohahuila and Tex-as, near the mouth of the Rio Puerco, and towards thesources of the Rio de San Saba, as I found them indicat-ed in the special maps preserved in the archives of the vice-royalty, and drawn up by engineers in the Spanish service.But how is it possible to determine territorial limits inimmense savannas, where the farms are from 15 to 20leagues distant from one another, and where almost no traceof cultivation is any where to be found? “The intendancy of San Luis Potosi comprehends partsof a very heterogeneous nature, the different denominationsof which have given great room for geographical errors.It is composed of provinces, of which some belong to the |356| Provincias internas, and others to the kingdom of NewSpain Proper. Of the former there are two immediatelydepending on the commandant of the Provincias internas; the two others are considered as Provincias internas delVireynato. These complicated and unnatural divisions areexplained in the following table:
  • The intendant of San Luis Potosi governs:
  • A. In Mexico Proper:
  • The Province of San Luis, which extends fromthe Rio de Panuco to the Rio de Santander, andwhich comprehends the important mines of Char-cas, Potosi, Ramos, and Catorce.
  • B. In the Provincias internas del Vireynato:
  • 1. The new kingdom of Leon.
  • 2. The colony of New Santander.
  • C. In the Provincias internas de la Comandancia generalOriental.
  • 1. The province of Cohahuila.
  • 2. The province of Texas.
“It follows from what we have already said on the latestchanges which have taken place in the organization of the Comandancia general of Chihuahua, that the intendancyof San Luis now includes, besides the province of Potosi,all which goes under the denomination of Provincias inter-nas Orientales. A single intendant is consequently at thehead of an administration which includes a greater surfacethan all European Spain. But this immense country, gift-ed by nature with the most precious productions, and si-tuated under a serene sky in the temperate zone, towardsthe borders of the tropic, is, for the greatest part, a wilddesert, still more thinly peopled than the governments ofAsiatic Russia. Its position on the eastern limits of NewSpain, the proximity of the United States, the frequencyof communication with the colonists of Louisiana, and agreat number of circumstances which I shall not endeavourhere to develop, will probably soon favour the progress ofcivilization and prosperity in these vast and fertile regions. “The intendancy of San Luis comprehends more than230 leagues of coast, an extent equal to that from Genoato Reggio in Calabria. But all this coast is without com-merce and without activity, with the exception of a few |357|small vessels, which come from the West Indies to lay inprovisions either at the Bar of Tampico, near Panuco, orat the anchorage of New Santander. That part which ex-tends from the mouth of the great Rio del Norte to theRio Sabina is almost still unknown, and has never been ex-amined by navigators. It would be of great importance,however, to discover a good port in this northern extremi-ty of the gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, the eastern coastof New Spain offers everywhere the same obstacles, a wantof depth for vessels drawing more than 38 decimetres* ofwater, bars at the mouths of the rivers, necks of land, andlong islots, of which the direction is parallel to that of thecontinent, and which prevent all access to the interior ba-sin. The shore of the provinces of Santander and Texas,from the 21° to the 29° of latitude, is singularly festooned,and presents a succession of interior basins, from four tofive leagues in breadth, and 40 to 50 in length. They goby the name of lagunas, or salt water lakes. Some of them(the Laguna de Tamiagua, for example) are completelyshut in. Others, as the Laguna Madre, and the Lagunade San Bernardo, communicate by several channels withthe ocean. The latter are of great advantage for a coast-ing trade, as coasting vessels are there secure from thegreat swells of the ocean. It would be interesting for geo-logy to examine on the spot if these lagunas have beenformed by currents penetrating far into the country by ir-ruptions, or if these long and narrow islots, ranged parallelto the coast, are bars which have gradually risen above themean level of the waters. “Of the whole intendancy of San Luis Potosi, only thatpart which adjoins the province of Zacatecas, in which arethe rich mines of Charcas, Guadalcazar, and Catorce, is acold and mountainous country. The bishopric of Mon-tery, which bears the pompous title of New Kingdom ofLeon, Cohahuila, Santander, and Texas, are very low re-gions; and there is very little undulation of surface inthem. This soil is covered with secondary and alluvialformations. They possess an unequal climate, extremelyhot in summer, and equally cold in winter, when the northwinds drive before them columns of cold air from Canadatowards the torrid zone. “Since the cession of Louisiana to the United States,the bounds between the province of Texas and the county
* 12 Feet 5 6-10 Inches.
|358| of Natchitoches (a county which is an integral part of theconfederation of American republics) have become thesubject of a political discussion, equally tedious and un-profitable. Several members of the Congress of Washing-ton were of opinion that the territory of Louisiana mightbe extended to the left bank of the Rio bravo del Norte.According to them, “all the country called by the Mexi-cans the province of Texas anciently belonged to Louisiana.Now the United States ought to possess this last provincein the whole extent of rights in which it was possessed byFrance before its cession to Spain; and neither the new de-nominations introduced by the viceroys of Mexico, northe progress of population from Texas towards the east,can derogate from the lawful titles of the congress.” Dur-ing these debates, the American government did not fail fre-quently to adduce the establishment that M. de Lasale, aFrenchman, formed about the year 1685 near the bay ofSt. Bernard, without having appeared to encroach on therights of the crown of Spain. “But on examining carefully the general map which Ihave given of Mexico and the adjacent countries on theeast, we shall see that there is still a great way from thebay of St. Bernard to the mouth of the Rio del Norte.Hence the Mexicans very justly allege in their favour, thatthe Spanish population of Texas is of a very old date, andthat it was brought, in the early periods of the conquest,by Linares, Revilla and Camargo, from the interior ofNew Spain; and that M. de Lasale, on disembarking tothe west of the Mississippi, found Spaniards at that timeamong the savages whom he endeavoured to combat. Atpresent, the intendant of San Luis Potosi considers the RioMermentas, or Mexicana, which flows into the Gulf ofMexico to the east of the Rio de Sabina, as the easternlimit of the province of Texas, and consequently of hiswhole intendancy. “It may be useful to observe here, that this dispute as tothe true boundaries of New Spain can only become of im-portance when the country, brought into cultivation by thecolonists of Louisiana, shall come in contact with the terri-tory inhabited by Mexican colonists; when a village of theprovince of Texas shall be constructed near a village of thecounty of the Opeloussas. Fort Clayborne, situated nearthe old Spanish mission of the Adayes (Adaes or Adaisses, |359|on the Red River, is the settlement of Louisiana whichapproaches nearest to the military posts (presidios) of theprovince of Texas; and yet there are nearly 68 leaguesfrom the presidio of Nacogdoch to Fort Clayborne. Vaststeppes, covered with gramina, serve for common boun-daries between the American confederation and the Mexi-can territory. All the country to the west of the Missis-sippi, from the Ox River to the Rio Colorado of Texas isuninhabited. These steppes, partly marshy, present ob-stacles very easily overcome. We may consider them asan arm of the sea which separates adjoining coasts, butwhich the industry of new colonists will soon penetrate.In the United States the population of the Atlantic pro-vinces flowed first towards the Ohio and the Tennessee,and then towards Louisiana. A part of this fluctuatingpopulation will soon move farther to the westward. Thevery name of Mexican territory will suggest the idea ofproximity of mines; and on the banks of the Rio Mer-mentas the American colonist will already in imaginationpossess a soil abounding in metallic wealth. This error,diffused among the lower people, will give rise to new emi-grations; and they will only learn very late that the famousmines of Catorce, which are the nearest to Louisiana, arestill more than 300 leagues distant from it. “Several of my Mexican friends have gone the roadfrom New Orleans to the capital of New Spain. Thisroad, opened by the inhabitants of Louisiana, who cometo purchase horses in the provincias internas, is more than540 leagues in length, and is consequently equal to the dis-tance from Madrid to Warsaw. This road is said to bevery difficult from the want of water and habitations; butit presents by no means the same natural difficulties as mustbe overcome in the tracks along the ridge of the Cordille-ras from Santa Fe in New Granada to Quito, or fromQuito to Cusco. It was by this road of Texas that an in-trepid traveller, M. Pagés, captain in the French navy,went in 1767 from Louisiana to Acapulco. The detailswhich he furnishes relative to the intendancy of San LuisPotosi, and the road from Queretaro to Acapulco, whichI travelled thirty years afterwards, display great precisionof mind and love of truth; but, unfortunately, this travel-ler is so incorrect in the orthography of Mexican and Span-ish names, that we can with difficulty find out from his de- |360|scriptions the places through which he passed. The roadfrom Louisiana to Mexico presents very few obstacles un-til the Rio del Norte, and we only begin from the Saltilloto ascend towards the table-land of Anahuac. The declivi-ty of the Cordillera is by no means rapid there; and wecan have no doubt, considering the progress of civilizationin the new continent, that land communication will becomegradually very frequent between the United States andNew Spain. Public coaches will one day roll on fromPhiladelphia and Washington to Mexico and Acapulco. “The three counties of the state of Louisiana, or NewOrleans, which approach nearest to the desert country con-sidered as the eastern limit of the province of Texas, are,reckoning from south to north, the counties of the Attacap-pas, of the Opeloussas, and of the Nachitoches. The la-test settlements of Louisiana are on a meridian which istwenty-five leagues east from the mouth of the Rio Mer-mentas. The most northern town is Fort Clayborne ofNatchitoches, seven leagues east from the old situation ofthe mission of the Adayes. To the north-east of Clay-borne is the Spanish Lake, in the midst of which there is agreat rock covered with stalactites. Following this lake tothe south-south-east, we meet in the extremities of this finecountry, brought into cultivation by colonists of Frenchorigin, first, with the small village of St. Landry, threeleagues to the north of the sources of the Rio Mermentas;then the plantation of S. Martin; and, lastly, New Iberia,on the river Teche, near the canal of Bontet, which leads tothe lake of Tase. As there is no Mexican settlement be-yond the eastern bank of the Rio Sabina, it follows thatthe uninhabited country which separates the villages ofLouisiana from the missions of Texas amounts to morethan 1,500 square leagues. The most southern part ofthese savannas, between the bay of Carcusin and the bayof la Sabina, presents nothing but impassable marshes.The road from Louisiana to Mexico goes therefore fartherto the north, and follows the parallel of the 32d degree.From Natchez travellers strike to the north of the lakeCataouillou, by Fort Clayborne of Natchitoches; and fromthence they pass by the old situation of the Adayes to Chi-chi, and the fountain of Father Gama. An able engineer,M. Lafond, whose map throws much light on these coun-tries, observes, that eight leagues north from the post of |361|Chichi there are hills abounding in coal, from which a sub-terraneous noise is heard at a distance like the discharge ofartillery. Does this curious phenomenon announce a dis-engagement of hydrogen produced by a bed of coal in astate of inflammation? From the Adayes the road of Mex-ico goes by San Antonio de Bejar, Loredo, (on the banksof the Rio grande del Norte,) Saltillo, Charcas, San LuisPotosi, and Queretaro, to the capital of New Spain. Twomonths and a half are required to travel over this vast ex-tent of country, in which, from the left bank of the Riogrande del Norte to Natchitoches we continually sleep sub dio. “The most remarkable places of the intendancy of SanLuis are: San Luis Potosi, the residence of the intendant, situat-ed on the eastern declivity of the table-land of Anahuac,to the west of the sources of the Rio de Panuca. The ha-bitual population of this town is 12,000. Nuevo Santander, capital of the province of the samename, does not admit the entry of vessels drawing morethan from eight to ten palmas * of water. The village of Sotto la Marina, to the east of Santander, might becomeof great consequence to the trade of this coast could theport be remedied. At present the province of Santander isso desert, that fertile districts of ten or twelve squareleagues were sold there in 1802 for ten or twelve francs. Charcas, or Santa Maria de las Charcas, a very con-siderable small town, the seat of a diputacion de Minas. Catorce, or la Purissima Concepcion de Alamos de Ca-torce, one of the richest mines of New Spain. The Real de Catorce, however, has only been in existence since 1773,when Don Sebastian Coronado and Don Bernabe Antoniode Zepeda discovered these celebrated seams, which yieldannually the value of more than from 18 to 20 millions offrancs.* Montery, the seat of a bishop, in the small kingdom ofLeon. Linares, in the same kingdom, between the Rio Tigreand the great Rio Bravo del Norte.
* From 5 1.2 to 6.878 feet. Trans. * From 730,460l. to 833,500l. ſterling. Trans.
|362| Monclova, a military post, (presidio,) capital of the pro-vince of Cohahuila, and residence of a governor. San Antonio de Bejar, capital of the province of Texas,between the Rio de los Nogales and the Rio de San An-tonio.” According to the calculations of this traveller, the totalpopulation of New Spain amounts to 5,837,100 persons:of whom 2,500,000 are Indigenes or Indians; 1,100,000are whites or Spaniards of the European and Creole races;6,100 African negroes; and 1,231,000 of the mixed bloodof Mestizos, Mulattoes, Lamboes, and their varieties.As these numbers however are not the result of a regularcensus, they are to be received as approximations only,and as such, liable to considerable uncertainty. His history of the banana, manioc and maize, in thatwork are beautiful disquisitions of a botanical and agricul-tural kind. And the abundant harvest of wheat which thetable-land of Mexico can afford, are matters of importantconsideration to the political economists of the UnitedStates, when they reflect on the quantity of that grain andof the flour prepared from it, which may be exported fromVera Cruz, and Acapulco when these roads shall be im-proved, and their government amended.