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THE

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE,

AND

LITERARY MISCELLANY.

JANUARY 1818.

ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS.

AFFAIRS OF SPANISH AMERICA. and opening, on a liberal footing, these

extensive countries to the commerce The commotions by which Europe and manufactures of Europe. Contemhas been shaken for nearly the last plating the advantages which must thirty years, have excited such deep inevitably result from the indepenand universal interest, that, during dence of the Spanish colonies, the these eventful times, the inhabitants of struggle in which they are now enthis agitated spot have neither had gaged appears to excite the most leisure nor inclination to inquire mi- lively sympathy in this country, and nutely into the affairs of other coun- since, by the re-establishment of peace tries, their attention having been in Europe, we have leisure for inwholly absorbed by revolutions which quiry and speculation, there prevails more immediately affected their own a general desire for information rehappiness and peace. It has happen- garding these extensive regions, now ed, however, by a singular coinci- unhappily the scene of intestine dence, that, at the time when the re- commotions. For the purpose of gravolutionary spirit appears to have tifying this laudable spirit of curiosispent its force in Europe, a similar ty, we shall briefly submit to our readspirit of resistance to established autho- ers a geographical sketch of those rity should have been kindled through- colonies, with such notices of their out the Spanish provinces of America, principal towns, rivers, and most imand that the scene of commotion portant products, as will enable them should thus have been in a manner to appreciate the different military only shifted from the Old to the statements which are, from time to New World. The changes which time, circulated in the journals of the have taken place in the remote de- day, and from the positions of the pendencies of Spain, will unquestion- hostile armies contending for the posably be attended by the most import- session of the country, to form some ant and beneficial consequences, de- rational conclusions as to the nature stroying, as they must do, root and of the operations which they are care branch, that system of monopoly, rying on. Such a digest of facts may, which enthralled the industry of na- we hope, in every view, prove useful tions, and consigned to neglect the to our readers, by saving them the most precious resources of nature, * trouble of tedious researches for in

formation, which, with all their labour, they may not at last be able to

obtain. Chili in many parts abounds in the finest iron. But a law existed prohibit ca occupy the vast tract of country

The Spanish possessions in Americ ing any person from working it, because it interfered with the import of iron from the and 37° 48' of N. Lat. and extend a

comprised between 41° 43' of S. Lat. mother country. Upon the same princi. ple, wine was prohibited from being made bout 5000 miles from north to south. in Mexico.

They lie partly in North and partly in South America, and are divided About one-half of this extensive into the following general govern- country is situated within the tropics, ments, namely,

while the other half lies within the 1. The viceroyalty of Mexico.

temperate zone. It is well known, 2. The government of Guatimala. however, that the influence of geo3. The government of Porto Rico. graphical position on the climate of 4. The government of the Caraccas, any country, is modified by another 5. The viceroyalty of New Grenada, in- cause of equally powerful operation,

cluding the new kingdom of Grena- namely, the height of the ground ac da and Quito.

bove the level of the sea, and that the 6. The viceroyalty of Pern.

continent of America is distinguish7. The viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres. ed by its general and prodigious ele8. The government of Chili. 9. The government of the Havannah, in- vation ; nor does the land in Mexicluding the Floridas.

co rise in abrupt and mountainous

ridges. On the contrary, it has been 1. Mexico, or New Spain, generale estimated, that about three-fifths of the ly designates that extensive country country is spread out in extensive plains which is bounded to the N. and S. of from 6000 to 8000 feet in height. by the 38th and 10th parallels of N. In travelling into the interior, either Lat, which, on the E. and S.E. has from Acapulco, on the coast of the the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Pacifie, or from Vera Cruz on the Mexico, and on the W. is bounded eastern shore, the land rises to its by the Pacific Ocean. Among the heightgradually, and the whole country Spanish colonies, Mexico occupies un- is laid out in vast and uniform plains, doubtedly the first rank, both on ac- which, from their forming so perfect count of its great population-the a level, have received the denominanumber of considerable cities which tion of Table Land. These plains it contains its territorial wealth, and rise to the height of 6000 and 8000 the enormous value of its inetallic feet above the level of the surroundproduce.

ing seas, which is equal to some of the Before the introduction of the new highest summits of the Alps, such as administration of the country in 1776, Mount Cenis, St Gothard, or the great Mexico, or New Spain, was divided St Bernard. in the following manner:

From this singular form of the 1. The kingdom of Mexico.

ground, it happens, that the coasts a2. The kingdom of New Galicia. lone possess a hot climate, adapted 3. The new kingdom of Leon.

for the productions of the West In4. The colony of Santander.

dies. The mean temperature of the 5. The province of Texas.

plains which lie within the tropics, 6. The province of Cohahuila.

and which are not elevated above the 7. The province of New Biscay.

level of the sea more than 984 feet, 8. The province of Sonora.

is about 77° of Fahrenheit, or about 9. The province of New Mexico.

16° above the mean heat of Naples. 10. The Californias.

The climate of these tropical countries, These ancient divisions are still more especially in the cities, is exfrequently used in the country; . At ceedingly fatal to Europeans, who are present, New Spain is divided into liable, on their first landing, to the the following twelve intendencies and terrible malady of the yellow-fever. three provinces.

The western declivity of the Cordille1. The province of New Mexico. ra of Mexico, and the shores of the 2. The intendency of New Biscay. South Sea from Acapulco, to the 3. and 4. New and Old California. ports of Colima and San Blas, are a5. Intendency of Sonora.

mong the hottest and most unhealthy 6. San Luis Potosi.

places in the south. The port of Aca7. Zacatecas.

pulco, more especially, is frequently 8. Guadalaxara.

fatal to visitors landing from Europe, 9. Guanaxuato.

or to merchants who descend from the 10. Valladolid, or Mechoacan. 11. Mexico.

cool and salubrious temperature of the 12. Puebla.

Table Land, to breathe the hot and 13. Vera Cruz.

tainted atmosphere of the coast. 14. Oaxaca.

On the declivity of the Andes, at 15. Merida.

the height of from 4000 to 6000 feet, there reigns perpetually a soft spring continual ascent and descent, and temperature, which never varies more every instant the traveller arrives than 7° or go of Fahrenheit; the from a cold climate, to regions excesmean heat of the whole year is from sively hot. On the contrary, of the 639 to 70°.

250 miles from Mexico to the port The third division of the climate of Vera Cruz, the greater part becomprehends the plains which are longs to the great central plain, which elevated 7000 feet above the level of extends, with little interruption, from the sea. This is the height of the the 18th to the 40th degree of N. lat. a city of Mexico, and in summer the distance nearly equal to thatof the town thermometer seldom rises above 75°, of Lyons from the tropic of Cancer. while in winter it ranges between 656 The rest of the road is a continued and 70°. The mean temperature of and laborious descent. To such of our the whole Table Land is 62', which is readers as consider this singular conabout equal to the temperature of Rome. figuration of the ground, it must be The plains, which rise above the obvious, that a country so elevated, height of 8000 feet, possess, though and to be reached only by a contiwithin the tropics, a rude and disa- nued ascent through difficult roads, greeable climate, even to an inhabi- must abound in defensive military tant of the north.

positions, and that, with the least deTowards the west, the descent from gree of skill on the part of its defenthe Table Land is much more steep ders, it could not be conquered but at than towards the east. Setting out such an expence of blood, as no state from the eity of Mexico, which is could afford to lavish away in its pursituated at nearly an equal distance chase. from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Mexico, from its position between towards the east, on the road to Vera Europe and Asia, appears admirably Cruz, the traveller advances 180 miles adapted for carrying on an extensive before a single valley oceurs, of which commerce with both continents, five the bottom does not rise 3280 feet a- or six weeks being sufficient for combove the level of the sea. In the op- municating with either, while the posite direction from Mexico to Aca- country, from its diversified climate, pulco, the road descends the same would yield the various produce both depth in the space of 50 miles. The of the warm and temperate regions, Eastern declivity of the Andes is so and would thus supply in abundance regular and uniform, that when once the materials of an extensive exchange the traveller begins to descend from with other countries. The mountains the great central plain, he continues contain ores of every kind of metal, his descent until he arrives at the and there are abundant mines, not eastern coast. The western coast is only of the precious metals, but also furrowed by four very remarkable of copper, lead, tin, alum, vitriol, and longitudinal valleys, of which the re- different sorts of precious stones. spective heights above the level of the Among the forest trees are the cedar, sea are 3217, 1685, 557, 518 feet. Brazil wood, mahogany, and every The road towards Asia from Mexico sort of timber either for use or ornathus differs from the road towards ment. Europe. For the space of about 220 The following is an account of the miles, the distance in a straight line most remarkable towns in Mexico or from Mexico to Acapulco, there is a New Spain :

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INTENDENCY of MEXICO.
Population 1,511,800.
Extent of surface in quare

leagues 5,927

137,000 7470 feet.

5000
4000

Mexico, the Capital
Tescuco
Acapulco
Queretaro, celebrated

for the beauty of its
edifices, its aque-
duct, and cloth ma-
nufactures

35,000 | 6489

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Durango
Chihuahua
San Juan del Rio
Nombre de Dios
Pasquiaro
Saltillo
Santa Rosa de Cosigui-

12,000
11,600
10,200

6800
5600
6000

riachi

10,000

[graphic]

PROVINCE OF NEW MEXICO. Santa Fe, to the east Population 40,200.

of the great river del Extent of surface in square Norte

3600 leagues 5709.

Taos

8900 The New Californias contain a po- Caraccas are included five other subpulation of about 25,000, who live in ordinate provinces or governments, scattered settlements and villages. namely, the province of Venezuela in

In no part of Spanish America has the centre; the government of Mathe flame of civil commotion raged racaibo on the west ; Guiana

on the more fiercely than in Mexico. The south ; the government of Cumana insurgents who took up arms against on the east ; and the island of Margathe dominion of the mother-country, retta on the north-east. It is boundamounted at one period to about ed on the north from the Cape de 40,000. Advancing upon the ca- Vela, to the point of Paria by the pital with a commanding force, they Carribean Sea; on the east by the were foiled by the prudence and ac- Atlantic; on the south by Dutch tivity of Venegas the governor, who, Guiana ; and on the west by the kingpursuing them in their retreat, at last dom of Santa Fé. From its position, succeeded in dispersing them, and in which is between the 12th degree of N. seizing the ringleaders, who, with lat. and the equinoctial line, this counvast numbers of other unfortunate try might be expected to be subject to persons embarked in the same cause, a scorching sun, and to be scarcely haperished miserably on the scaffold. bitable on account of its excessive The insurgents thus failing in the heat. In many parts, however, more efforts of regular war, dispersed in especially towards the interior, the small guerilla parties, occupying all heat is tempered by the elevation the avenues and roads, and ha- of the ground, so that the inhabirassing their enemies by every mode tants enjoy a pleasant medium beof irregular annoyance. The accounts tween the opposite extremes of heat received of the state of this country and cold. They are indebted for this are exceedingly imperfect; but if they singularity of temperature to a chain can at all be relied on, the royalist are of the Andes of moderate height, and mies seem, for the present, to have in breadth generally from about 20 triumphed over their enemies. to 10 leagues, which traverses the

In the southern provinces the insur- whole extent of their country, wind rection against the dominion of themo- ing in a direction generally from ther-country, was carried on with vari- E. to W., and finally loses itself in the ous fortune;

but, ultimately, the advan- island of Trinidad. The elevation of tage appears to have been on the side of this chain varies in different parts, theinsurgents. Their forces, according and those inequalities of surface to the accounts received, have been give rise to such varieties of temoften beaten and dispersed. But the perature, that numerous diversities of spirit of resistance never appears to the vegetable tribes, which in other have been crushed. The insurgent countries grow to maturity under very armies have always rallied, and at pre- different degrees of latitude, are sent they have taken the field with brought together and flourish in this recruited strength, and have, in dif- more favoured spot. To the north of ferent points, gained the most signal these mountains, in the great valley victories over their opponents. In of the Orinoco, by which river they the Caraccas, of which we shall now are bounded to the south, immense give a brief account, they have been plains stretch out on a dead level for successful in repeated battles against several hundreds of miles; and here the royal troops ; and, as a proof that the heat is intense, sometimes risthis is no rain boast, they are in possesc ing to 115 degrees of Fahrenheit. sion of some of the most important On these plains grows a tall and rank places of the country.

herbage, on which numerous herds of In the extensive province of the cattle are fed, and these constitute the

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