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The second volume of the translation took us about half way through the subject of agriculture, comprehending, together with introductory remarks on its improved state, a description of those vegetable productions of New Spain on which the inbabitants chiefly subsist--the banana or plantain tree, the cassava root, maize, and several kinds of European grain. The portion of the translation which we now proceed to consider, opens with an account of plants supplying raw materials for inanufactures and commerce. The cultivation of these colonial commodities appears to be considerably on the increase ; not fewer than half a million of arrobas of sugar (the arroba is equal to something more than 25lbs.) being annually exported from Vera Cruz. Besides giving a short account of the importation of the sugar cane from the Canary Islands into St. Domingo, and thence into Cuba and New Spain, M. Humboldt auyerts to those
those circumstances of elevation and temperature which, in this latter country, render its cultivation more or less flourishing; and expresses his conviction that the small West India islands, notwithstanding their favourable position for trade, will not be long able to sustain a competition with the continental colonies. This conviction is founded, partly, on the Mexi. can sugar being almost entirely manufactured by free Indians, instead of Negro slaves; and partly on the enormous capitals possessed by the Mexican proprietors. At present, however, by far the greatest part of the sugar produced in New Spain is consumed in the country: the quantity so consumed being estimated at more than 16 millions of kilogrammes (upwards of 35 millions lbs. avoirdupois), while the quantity exported does not much exceed six millions of kilogrammes, -á sum which does not amount to a thirtieth part of what is esported from the whole of the American islands.
The produce of cotton in New Spain is inconsiderable ; and until machines are introduced for separating the cotton from the seed, the price of carriage is likely to continue a great obstacle to its further increase. Flax and hemp might be advantageously cultivated: but, unenlightened as to its true interests, says M. Humboldt, the government of Spain has always preferred seeing the people clothed with cotton purchased at Manilla and Canton, or imported at Cadiz by English vessels, to the protection of the manufactures of New Spain.' The use of coffee is still rare in Mexico; and the cocoa-tree (the cultivation of which had made considerable progress in the time of Montezuma) is now almost abandoned. Cocoa seeds, however, are still used as a sort of inferior coin,--a sous being represented by six grains. Vanilla is another plant which passed from the Aztecs to the Spaniards. It was a favourite aromatic ingredient in the Mexican chocolate. By the Spaniards, however, its use in chocolate is discontinued, and they merely deal in it as an article of commerce. Considering the excessive price of this production, the neglect it meets with in New Spain is surprising: for though it grows spontaneously between the tropics, wherever there is heat, shade, and much humidity, the only places where it is cultivated for the purpose of supplying Europe, are in the two intendancies of Oaxaca and' Vera Cruz.' As M. Humboldt appears to have paid very minute attention to the mode of its cultivation, we shall select an extract from his account of it.
• The natives of Misantla collect the vanilla in the mountaies and forests of Quilate. The plant is in flower in the months of February and March. The harvest is bad, if at this period the north winds are frequent and accompanied with much rain. The flower drops without yielding fruit if the humidity is too great. An extreme drought is equally hurtful to the growth of the plant. However, no insect attacks the green fruit, on account of the milk it contains. They begin to cut it in the months of March and April, after the sub-delegate has proclaimed that the harvest is permitted to the Indians : it continues to the end of June. The natives who remain eight successive days in the forests of Quilate, sell the vanilla fresh and yellow to the gente de razon, i. e. the whites, mestizoes and mulattos, who alone know the beneficio de la baynilla, namely, the manner of drying it with care, giving it a silvery lustre, and sorting it for transportation into Europe. The yellow fruits are spread out in cloths, and kept exposed to the sun for several hours. When sufficiently heated, they are wrapped up in woollen cloths for evaporation, when the vanilla blackens, and they conclude with exposing it to be dried from the morning to the evening in the heat of the sun."
It is with the goodness of this commodity as with that of the quinquina, which not only depends on the species of cinchona from which it proceeds, but also on the height of the country, the exposure of the tree, the period of the harvest, and the care employed in drying the bark. The commerce of both the.vanilla and quinquina is in the hands of a few
persons called habilitadores, because they advance money to the cosecheros, i. e. to the Indians employed in the vest, who are in this way under the direction of undertakers. The latter draw almost the whole profit of this branch of Mexican industry. The competition among the purchasers is
much less at Misantla and Colipa, as a long experience is necessary to guard against deception in the purchase of prepared vanilla. A single stained pod (munchada) may occasion the loss of a whole chest in the passage from America to Europe.'
The cultivation of tobacco affords a striking example of those oppressive restrictions, which have so long been permitted to disgrace the Spanish commercial code. Since the establishment of the royal farmi in 1764, not only is a special permission indispensable to obtain the privilege of planting it, and the cultivator obliged to dispose of it to the farm at a government price, but the plantation of it is limited to a few
towns in the intendancy of Vera Cruz. Whatever tobacco is found beyond these districts, is rooted up by officer's who tra. vel the country under the title of guardas de tabuci. In couge. quence of this enlightened regulation, several provinces, which once enjoyed a remarkable degree of prosperity, have become desolate and depopulated; and New Spain, so far from exporting its own tobacco, draws annually weariy 10,000 -Ibs. from the Havannah.
Having disposed of his plants, M. Humboldt procee is to throw a cursery glance over the animal kingdom. The most
interesting section of this part of his work, we think, relates to' the rearing of the cochineal
. The quantity annually exported from Vera Cruz may be averageil at about 40,000 arrón bas. It appears that the insect was more extensively to be met with in New Spain before the conquest than it is at present, and that its decrease is to be ascribed, partly to the vextions to which the natives were exposed in the cultivation of it, but principally to the spirit of monopoly: Our author has collected a variety of particulars respecting both the mealy or fine, and the cotton, or wild cochineal. Wbile the former is covered with a white powder, the latter is enveloped in a thick cotton; and though the metamorphoses of the two insects are the same, the plants on which they propagate are essentially different. To prevent the mixture of the two kinds (the wild cochineal depriving the fine one of all nburishment) nopaleries are established. As soon as the young plants are in a condition to maintain the cochineal,
the proprietor of the nopalery purchases branches or joints of the tuna or nopal de Castilla, laden with small cochineals (semilla) recently hatched. These branches destitute of roots, and separated from the trunks, preserve their juice for several months. They are sold for about three franks the hundred in the market of Oaxaca. The Indians preserve the semilla of the cochineal for twenty days in caverns, or in the interior of their huts, and after this period they expose the young coccus open
air. The branches to which the insect is attached, are suspended under a shed covered with a straw roof. The growth of the cochineal is so rapid, that even in the months of August and September, we find mothers already big before the young are hatched. These mothers cochineals are placed in nests, made of a species of tillandsia, called paxtle. They are carried in these nests two or three leagues from the village, and distributed in the nopaleries, where the young plants receive the semella. The laying of the mother-cochineal lasts from thirteen to fifteen days. If the situation of the plantation is not very elevated, the first harvest may
be expected in less than four months. It is observed, that in a climate more cold than temperate, the colour of the cochineal is equally beautiful, but that the harvest is much later. In the plain, the mother-cochineals grow to a greater size, but they meet with more enemies in the inpumerable VOL. VIII.
quantity of insects (xicaritas, perritos, aradores, agujas, armadillos, culebiitas', lizards, rats, and birds, by which they are devoured. Mach care is necessary in cleaning the branches of the nopals. The Indian women make use of a squirrel, or a stag's tail for that purpose; they squat down for hours together beside one plant ; and notwithstanding the ex: cessive price of the cochineal, it is to be doubted if this cultivation would be profitable, in countries where the time and labour of man might be turned to account; and the cotton or wild cochineal which gets into the nopaleries, and the male of which, according to the observation of Mr. Alzate, is not much snialler than the male of the mealy or fine cochipeal, does much injury to the nopals; and accordingly the Indians kill it wherever they find it, though the colour which it yields is very solid and very beautiful. It appears that not only the fruits, but also the green branches of several species of coccus will dye cotton, violet and red, and that the colour of the cochineal is not entirely owing to a process of animalization of the vegetable juices in the body of the insect,'
• At the period of the harvests the Indians kill the mother-cochineals, which are collected on a wooden plate called chilcalpetl, by throwing them into boiling water, or heaping them up by beds in the sun, or placing them on mats in the same ovens of a circular form (temaxcalli), which are used for vapour and hot air baths, of which we have already spoken.* The last of these methods, which is least in use, preserves the whitish powder on the body of the insect, which raises its price at Vera Cruz and Cadiz Purchasers prefer the white cochineal, because it is less subject to be fraudulently mixed with parcels of gum, wood, maize, and - red earth. There exist in Mexico very ancient laws (of the years 1592 and 1594) for the prohibition of the falsification of cochineal. Since 1760 they have even been under the necessity of establishing in the town of Oaxaca a jury of veadores, who examine the bags (zurrenes) previous to their being sent out of the province. They appoint the cochineal ex. posed to sale to have the grain separated, that the Indians may not introduce extraneous matter in those agglutinated masses called bodoques. But all these means are insufficient for the prevention of fraud. However, that which is practised in Mexico by the tiangueros or zanganos (falcificadore) is inconsiderable in comparison of that which is practised on this commodity in the ports of the Peninsula, and in the rest of Europe.'
Towards the conclusion of this chapter, M. Humboldt gives a table of the comparative value of tithes in the dioceses of Mexico, Puebla de los Angeles, Valladolid de Mechoacan, Daxaca, Guadalaxara, and Durango,-taking two series of years, from 1771 to 1780, and from 1780 to 1789. In ihe former scries the tithes in these six dioceses amounted to upwards of 2,800,000l. sterling, in the latter to upwards of 4,015,000l. Thus the augmentation in the last ten years is nearly two-fifths of the whole produce: a circumstance which plainly indicates the rapid increase of national wealth, and
* See vol. ii. p. 349. M. Alzate who bas given a good plate of the temazcalli Ga. zeta de Literatura de Mexico, t. iji. p. 252) asserts, that the ordinary heat of the vapour in which the Indian bathes himself is 66 deg. centrigade (150 deg. of Fahrenb.)
proves that the working of the mines is gradually giving place to the labours of agriculture. The obstructions which still impede its' progress are nearly the same as those which have operated so perniciously in Spain In both countries, the landed property is in the hands of a few powerful fansilies; and in both, extensive tracts are condemned to the pastarage of cattle and to perpetual sterility.'
The subject of the next chapter, which concludes the fourth section of the work, and extends nearly to the termi. nation of the third volume, relates to the mines of New Spain. Commencing his examination with a few historical remarks, our author proceeds to take a general view of the mines as grouped into districts, and to discuss the geological constitution of the country. He adverts to the salubrious elevation at which most of the metalliferous beds are found, when compared with those of South America. A copious description is given of the minerals from which the silver is extracted ; and much information is afforded, relative to the most consis derable of the mining operations, especially at the district of Guanaxuato, which, though but little celebrated, claims to be considered as the ' Potosi of the Northern hemisphere.' One of the greatest inconveniences observable in these works, and indeed in almost every other mining establishment in New Spain, is the want of lateral communications between the various galleries. Each pit is worked separately; and the extracted ore, instead of being accumulated in convenient places of assemblage,' is carried up the steps on the backs of native Indians (tenateros, as they are called), many thousands of whom are constantly employed in this laborious service.
• These tenateros,' it is added, carry the minerals in bags (costalus) made of the thread of the pité. To prevent their shoulders from being hurt for the miners are generally naked to the middle), they place a woollen coveriog (frisada) under this bag. We meet in the mines with files of fifty or sixty of the se porters, among whom there are men above, sixty, and boys of ten or twelve years of age. In ascending the stairs, they throw their body forwards, and rest on a staff
, which is generally not more than three decemetres in length (about a foot).' They walk in a zig-zag direction, because they have found from long experience ( as they affirm), that their respiration is less impeded, when they traverse ob. liquely the current of air which enters the pits from without. We cannot sufficiently admire the rauscular strength of the Indian and Mestizoe tena. teros of Guanaxuato, especially when we feel ourselves oppressed with fatigue in ascending from the bottom of the mine of Valenciana. The tenateios cost the proprietors of Valenciana more than 15,000 livres tour.. nois (6241. sterling) weekly; and they reckon that three men destined to carry the minerals to the places of assemblage, are for one employed workman who blows up the gangue by means of powder. These enormous expences could perhaps be diminished more than two thirds, if the