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year 1530. A Spanish lady, Maria d'Escobar, carried a wheat,
few grains to Lima, and their produce was distributed
for three years among the new colonists, each receiving
twenty or thirty seeds. At Quito the first European
corn was sown near the convent of St Francis by Father
Jose Rixi, a native of Flanders ; and the monks still
show, as a precious relic, the earthen vessel in which
the original wheat came from Europe. " Why," asks
our author, " have not men preserved every where the
names of those who, in place of ravaging the earth, have
enriched it with plants useful to the human race 1"

The temperate region appears most favourable to the
cultivation of the cerealia, or nutritive grasses known to




Scarcity of

CHAP. XXV. the ancients, namely, wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye.
In the equinoctial part of Mexico they are nowhere
•^rown in plains of which the elevation is under 2625
feet; and on tlie declivity of the cordilleras between
Vera Cruz and Acapulco they commence at the height
of 3937. At Xalapa wheat is raised solely for the
straw ; for there it never produces seed, although in
Guatimala grain ripens at smaller elevations.

Were the soil of New Spain watered by more frequent
showers, it would be one of the most fertile portions of
the globe. In the equinoctial districts of that country
there are only two seasons, — the wet, from June or
July to September or October, and the dry, which lasts
eight months. The rains, accompanied with electrical
explosions, commence on the eastern coast, and proceed
Avestward, so that they begin fifteen or twenty days
sooner at Vera Cruz than on the central plains. Some-
times they are seen, mixed with sleet and snow, in the
elevated parts during November, December, and Jan-
uary, but they last only a few days. It is seldom that
the inhabitants have to complain of humidity, and the
excessive drought which prevails from June to Septem-
ber compels them in many parts to liave recourse to
artificial irrigation. In places not watered in this
manner, the soil yields pasturage only till March or
April, after which the south wind destroys the grass.
Tiiis cliange is more felt wlien the preceding year has
been unusually dry, and the wheat suffers greatly in
May. The rains of June, however, revive the vegeta-
tion, and the fields immediately resume their verdure.

In lands carefully cultivated the produce is surprising,
cspecmlly in those which are watered. In the most
fertile part of the table-land between Q,ueretaro and
Leon, the wheat-harvest is 35 and 40 for 1 ; and several
farms can even reckon on 60 or GO for 1. At Cho-
lulo the common return is from 30 to 40, but it fre-
quently exceeds from 70 to 80 for 1. In the valley of
Mexico maize yields 200, and wheat 18 or 20. The
mean produce of the whole country may be stated at 20


Great pro-


or 25 for 1. M. Abad, a canon of the metropolitan cuap.^cxv
church of Valladolid de Mechoacan, took at random j^earrDnj-
from a field of wheat forty plants, when he found that duce.
each seed had produced forty, sixty, and even seventy
8talks. The number of grains which the ears contained
frequently exceeded 100 or 120, and the average amount
appeared to be 90. Some even exhibited 160. A few
of the elevated tracts, however, are covered with a kind
of clay impenetrable by the roots of herbaceous plants,
and others are arid and naked, in, which the cactus and
other prickly shrubs alone vegetate.

The following table exhibits the mean produce of the Comparative
cereal plants in different countries of both continents : — '

In France, from 5 to 6 grains for 1.

In Hungary, Croatia, and Sclavonia, from 8 to 10 grains.

In La Plata, 12 grains.

In the northern part of Mexico, 17 grains.

In equinoctial Mexico, 24 grains.

In the province of Pasto in Santa Fe, 25 grains.

In the plain of Caxamarca in Peru, 18 to 20 grains.

The Mexican wheat is of the very best quality, and Quality of
equals the finest Andalusian. At Havannah it enters into ^*^^^'-
competition with that of the United States, which is
considered inferior to it ; and when greater facilities are
afforded for exportation it will l)ecome of the highest
importance to Europe. In Mexico grain can hardly be
preserved longer than two or three years ; but the causes
of this decay have not been sufficiently investigated.

Rye and barley, which resist cold better than wheat. Rye and
are cultivated on the highest regions, but only to a small '"^ ®^'
extent. Oats do not answer well in New Spain, and are
very seldom seen even in the mother-country, where the
horses are fed on barley.

The potato appeal's to have been introduced into Potatoes
Mexico nearly at the same period as the cereal grasses
of the Old Continent. It is certain that it was not known
there before the arrival of the Spaniards, at,which epoch
it was in use in Chili, Peru, Quito, and New Grenada.
It is supposed by botanists that it grows spontaneously
in the mountainous regions ; but our author asserts that



Source of
Uie potato.

Products of
the higher

CHAP.xxv. this opinion is erroneous, and that the plant in question
is nowhere to he found uncultivated in any part of the
Cordilleras witliin the tropics. According to Molina it
is a native of all the fields of Chili, where another species,
the Solarinni cari, still unknown in Europe, and even in
Quito and Mexico, is grown ; and M. Humboldt seems
to consider that country as tlie original source of it. It
is stated that Sir Walter Raleigh found it in Virginia in
1584 ; and a question arises, whetiier it arrived there
from the north, or from Chili, or some other of the
Spanish colonies. Our traveller seems to consider it
not improbable that it had been (conveyed from some of
the Spanish colonies by the English themselves.

The phmts cultivated in the highest and coldest parts
of the Andes and IMexican cordilleras are potatoes, the
Tropa'olum esculentum, and the Chenopodium quinoa.
The first of these are an important object in the latter
country, as they do not require much humidity. The
Mexicans and Peruvians preserve them for a series of
years, by destroying their power of germinating by ex-
posure to frost, and afterwards drying them, — a practice
which our author thinks might be followed with advan-
tage in Europe. He also recommends obtaining the
seeds of the potatoes cultivated at Quito and Santa Fe,
which are a foot in diameter, and superior in quality to
those in the Old Continent. It is unnecessary to expa-
tiate on the advantages derived from this invaluable root,
the use of which now extends from the extremity of
Africa to Lapland, and from the southern regions of
America to Labrador.

The New World is very rich in plants witli nutritive
roots. Next to the manioc and tlie potato, the most
important arc the oai, the batate, and the igname. The
first of these (Oxalis tuherosa) grows in the cold and
temperate parts of the cordilleras. The igname (Diosco-
rva alata) appears proper to all the equinoctial regions
of tiie ghjbe. Of tlie batate (^Convolvulus batatas), several
varieties arc raised. Tlie cacomite, a species of Tigridia,
tlie root of which yields a nutritive farina ; numerou.«



varieties of love-apples {Solarium lycopersicum) ; the CHAP. XXV
earth pistachio or man! {Arachis hypogaa) ; and different
species of pimento {Capsicum), are the other useful
plants cultivated there.

The Mexicans now have all the culinary vegetables Culinary
and fruit-trees of Europe ; but it has become difficult to v^g^'^'^'^eu.
determine which of the former they possessed before
the arrival of the Spaniards. It is certain, however
that they had onions, haricots, gourds, and several
varieties of Cicer ; and in general, if we conside,r the
garden-stuffs of the Aztecs, and the great number of
farinaceous roots cultivated in Mexico and Peru, we
shall see that they were not so poor in alimentary
plants as some maintain.

The central table-land of New Spain produces the European
ordinary fruits of Europe in the greatest abundance ; fruits.
and the traveller is surprised to see the tables of the
wealthy inhabitants loaded with the vegetable produc-
tions of both continents in the most perfect state. Before
the invasion of the Spaniards, Mexico and the Andes
presented several fruits having a great resemblance to
those of Europe. The mountainous part of South
America has a cherry, a nut, an apple, a mulberry, a
strawberry, a rasp, and a gooseberry, which are peculiar
to it. Oranges and citrons, which are now cultivated
there, appear to have been introduced, although a small
wild orange occurs in Cuba and on the coast of Terra
Firma. The olive-tree answers perfectly in New Spain,
but exists only in very small numbers.

Most civilized nations procure their drinks from the Common
plants which constitute their principal nourishment, and "^"""^^
of which the roots or seeds contain saccharine and amy-
laceous matter. There are few tribes, indeed, which
cultivate these solely for the purpose of preparing bever-
ages from them ; but in the New Continent we find a
people, who not only extracted liquors from tlie maize,
the manioc, and bananas, but who raise a shrub of the
family of the ananas for the express purpose of converting
its juice into a spiritous liquor. This plant, the maguey





Mode of
the jiiice.


Agave hemp.

(Agnvr Americana), is extensively reared as far as the
Aztec languau^e extends. The finest plantations of it
seen hy our traveller were in the valley of Tolucca and
on the plains of Cholula. It yields the saccharine juice
at the period of inflorescence only, the approach of which
is anxiously oh.served. Near the latter place, and be-
tween Tolucca and Cacanumacan, a maguey eight years
old gives signs of developing its flowers. The bundle of
central leaves is now cut, the wound is gradually en-
larged and covered with the foliage, which is drawn
close and tied at the top. In this wound the vessels
seem to deposite the juice that would naturally have
gone to expand the blossoms. It continues to run two
or three months, and the Indians draw from it three or
four times a-day. A very vigorous plant occasionally
v^ields the quantity of 464 cubic inches a-day for four
Or five months. Tiiis is so much the more astonishing,
that the plantations are usually in the most arid and
steril ground. In a good soil the agave is ready for
being cut at the age of five years ; but in poor land the
harvest cannot be expected in less than eighteen.

This juice or honey has an agreeable acid taste, and
easily ferments on account of the sugar and mucilage
which abound in it. This process, which is accelerated
by adding a little old pulque, ends in three or four days ;
and the result is a liquor resembling cider, but with a
very unpleasant smell like that of putrid meat. Euro-
peans who can reconcile themselves to the scent prefer
the pulque to every other liquor, and it is considered as
stomachic, invigorating, and nutritive. A very intoxi-
cating brandy, called mexical, is also obtained from it, and
in some districts is manufactured to a great extent.

The leaves of the agave also supply the place of hemp
and the papyrus of the Egyptians. The paper on which
the ancient Mexicans painted their hieroglypliical figures
was made of tiieir fibres macerated and disposed in layers.
The prickles which terminate them formerly served as
pins and nails to the Indians, and tlie priests pierced their
arms and breasts witii them in their acts of expiation.


The vine is cultivated in Mexico, but in so small a CHAP.XXV.
quantity that wine can hardly be considered as a product yj^g^^
of that country ; but the mountainous parts of New
Spain, Guatimala, New Grenada, and Caraccas, are so
well adapted for its growth, that at some future period
tliey will probably supply the whole of North America.

Of colonial commodities, or productions which furnish Sugar cane,
raw materials for the commerce and manufacturing in-
dustry of Europe, New Spain affords most of those pro-
cured from the West Indies. The cultivation of the
sugar-cane has of late years been carried to such an
extent, that the exportation of sugar from Vera Cruz
amounts to more than half a million of arrobas, or
12,680,000 lb. avoird. ; which, at three piasters the
arroba, arc equal to 8,000,000 francs, or £318,760
sterling. It was conveyed by the Spaniards from the
Canary Islands into St Domingo, from whence it was
subsequently carried into Cuba and the province just
named. Although the mean temperature best suited to
it is 75° or 77°, it may yet be successfully reared in
places of which the annual warmth does not exceed 66
or 68° ; and as on great table-lands the heat is increased
by the reverberation of the earth, it is cultivated in
Mexico to the height of 4921 feet, and in favourable ex-
posures thrives even at an elevatian of 6562. The
greatest part of the sugar produced in New Spain is
consumed in the country, and the exportation is very
insignificant compared with that of Cuba, Jamaica, or
St Domingo.

Cotton, flax, and hemp, are not extensively raised, cotton nnd
and very little coffee is used in the country. Cocoa, coffee.
vanilla, jalap, and tobacco, are cultivated ; but of the
latter there is a considerable importation from Havannah.
Indigo is not produced in sufficient quantity for home

Since the middle of the sixteenth century, oxen. Domestic
horses, sheep, and hogs, introduced by the conquerors, i"!"!"!.-^
Iiave multiplied surprisingly in all parts of New Spain,
and more especially in the vast savannahs of the provin-



CHAP.XXV. cias internas. The exportation of hides is considerable,
as is that of liorses and mules.

Poultry. Our common poultry have only of late years begun

to thrive in Mexico ; but there is a great variety of
native gallinaceous birds in tliat country, such as the
turkey, the hocco or curassow (^Crax nigra, C. globicera,
C./>aMjri), penelopes, and pheasants. The Guinea fowl
and common duck are also reared ; but the goose is
nowhere ta be seen in the Spanish colonies.

Siikworma The cultivation of the silkworm has never been
extensively tried, although many parts of that continent
seem favourable to it. An enormous quantity of wax
is consumed in the festivals of the church ; and not-
withstanding that a large proportion is collected in the
country, much is imported from Havannah. Cochineal
is obtained to a considerable amount.

Fearla Although pearls were formerly found in great abun-

dance in various parts of America, the fisheries have
now almost entirely ceased. The western coast of
Mexico abounds in caclialots or spermaceti-whales [Phy-
seter inacrociphulus) ; but the natives have hitherto left
the pursuit of these animals to Europeans.



Mines of New Spain.

Mining Districts — Metalliferous Veins and Beds — Geological Re-
lations of the Ores — Produce of the Mines — Recapitulation.

The mines of Mexico have of late years engaged the chap.xxvi
attention and excited the enterprise of the English in a Mines o7
more than ordinary degree. The subject is therefore Mexico.
one of mucli interest ; but as later information may be
obtained in several works, and esjiecially in Ward's
" Mexico in 1827," it is unnecessary to follow our
author in all his details.

Long before the voyage of Columbus, the natives of Native
Mexico were acquainted with the uses of several metals, the'meta^I"
and had made considerable proficiency in the various
operations necessary for obtaining them in a pure state.
Cortes, in the historical account of his expedition, states
that gold, silver, copper, lead, and tin, were publicly
sold in the great market of Tenochtitlan. In all the
large towns of Anahuac gold and silver vessels were
manufactured, and the foreigners, on their first advance
to Tenochtitlan, could not refrain from admiring the
ingenuity of the Mexican goldsmiths. The Aztec tribes Le^itJ and
extracted lead and tin from the veins of Tlachco, and
obtained cinnabar from the mines of Chilapan. From
copper, found in the mountains of Zacutollan and Co-
huixco, they manufactured their arms, axes, chisels, and
other imjjlements. With the use of iron they seem to
have been unacquainted ; but they contrived to give



K umber of

CHAP. XXVI. the requisite hardness to their tools hy mixing a portion
~~ of tin with tlie copper of wliieh they were composed.

At tlie period when Humboldt visited New Spain, it
contained nearly 500 places celebrated for the metallic
treasures in their vicinity, and comprehending nearly
T5000 mines. These were divided into 37 districts, under
the direction of an equal number of councils (^Dipiita-
ciones de m'meria), as follows : —


1. Mining' District ofGuanaxuato.


2. Zacatecas. I 4. Fresnillo.

3. Sombrerete. 5. Sierra (ie Pinos.


6. Catorce.

7. Potosi.

8. Charcas.

I 9. Ojocaliente.

I 10. San Nicolas de Croix.

11. Pacliuca.

12. El Doctor.
\'A. Ziniapan.
14. Tasco.



15. Zacualpan.

If). Siiltepec.

17. Temascaltepec.


Bolanos. I 20. Hostotipaquillo.

19. Asientos de Ibarra.

21. Cliibuahua.

22. Parral.

23. Guarisamey.


24. Cosi^rniriachi.

25. Batopilas.

2fi. .alamos.

27. Copala.

28. Cosala.

29. San Franrisco Xavier de la



30. Guadalupe dft la Pnerta.

31. Santissima Trinidad de Pe-
na Blanra.

32. San Francisco Xavier de


33. Anpaufrueo.

34. Injjiiaran.


135. Zitaquaro.
3B. TIalpujahua.


37. Oaxaca.




Several Mines.


Three Mines.


One Mine.

In the present state of the country tlie veins are the Productive
most productive, and tlie minerals disposed in beds or ''""^
masses are very rare. The former are chiefly in primi-
tive or transition rocks, rarely in secondary deposites
In the Old Continent granite, gneiss, and mica-slate,
form the central ridges of the mountain-chains ; but in
the Cordilleras of America these rocks seldom appear
externally, being covered by masses of porphyry, green-
stone, amygdaloid, basalt, and other trap-formations.
The coast of Acapulco is composed of granite ; and as
we ascend towards the table-land of Mexico, we see it
pierce the porphyry for the last time between Zumpango
and Sopilote. Farther to the east, in the province of
Oaxaca, granite and gneiss are visible in the high plains
which are of great extent, traversed by veins of gold.

Tin has not yet been observed in the granites of
Mexico. In the mines of Comanja syenite contains a
seam of silver ; while the vein of Guanaxuato, the
richest in America, crosses a primitive clay-slate passing
into talc-slate. The porphyries of Mexico are for the
most part eminently rich in gold and silver. They are Gold, silver
all characterized by tlie presence of hornblende and the ''"'
absence of quartz. Common felspar is of rare occur-
rence, but the glassy variety is frequently observed in
them. The rich gold-mine of Viilalpando, near Gua-
naxuato, traverses a porphyry, of which the basis is
allied to clinkstone, and in which hornblende is ex-
tremely rare. The veins of Zimapan intersect porphy-
ries, having a greenstone basis, and contain a great
variety of interesting minerals, such as filirous zeolite,
etilbite, grammatite, pycnite, native sulphur, fluor,



Variety of

CiiAP.XXVi barytes, corky aslicstus, green garnets, carbonate and

chroniate of lead, orpinient, chrysoprasc, and fire-opal.
Silver ores. Among the transition rocks containing ores of silver,

may be mentioned the limestone of tlie Real del Car-
donal, Xaeala, and Lonio del Toro, to the north of
Zimapan, In Mexico graywacke is also rich in metals.

Tlie silver-mines of the Real de Catorce, as well as
those of El Doctor and Xaschi, near Zimapan, traverse
Alpine limestone, which rests on a conglomerate with
siliceous cement. In that and the Jura limestone are
contained the celebrated silver-mines of Tasco and
Tehuilotepec, in the intendancy of Mexico ; and in calcareous rocks the metalliferous veins display
the greatest wealth.

It thus appears that the cordilleras of Mexico contain
veins in a great variety of rocks, and that the deposites
which furnish almost all tlie silver exported from Vera
Cruz are primitive slate, graywacke, and Alpine lime-
stone. The mines of Potosi in Buenos Ayres are con-
tained in primitive clay-slate, and the richest of those of
Peru in Alpine limestone. Our author here observes,
that there is scarcely a variety of rock which has not in
some country been found to contain metals, and that
the richness of the veins is for the most part totally
independent of the nature of the beds which they

Great advantage is derived in working the Mexican
mines, from the circumstance that the most important
of them are situated in temperate regions where the
climate is favourable to agriculture. Guanaxuato is
placed in a ravine, the bottom of which is somewhat
lower than the level of the lakes of the valley of
Mexico. Zacatecas and the Real de Catorce are a little
hig'her ; but the mildness of the air at these towns,
which are surrounded l)y the richest mines in the
world, is a contrast to the cold and disagreeable atmo-
sphere of tlie Peruvian districts.

The produce of the Mexican mines is very unequally
pportioned. The 2,500,000 marks, or l,6il,015 troy

ous sitiuition
ot mines.



pounds of silver, annually exported to Europe and CHAP.XXVI.
Asia from Vera Cruz and Aciipulco, are drawn from a Annuiir
very small number. Guanaxuato, Zacatecas, and Ca- exportation,
torce, supply more than the half; and the vein of
Guanaxuato alone yields more than a fourth part of the
whole silver of Mexico, and a sixth of the produce of
all America. The following is the order in which the
richest mines of New Spain are placed, with reference to
the quantity obtained from them : —

Guanaxuato, in the intendancy of" the same name.
Catorce, in the intendancy of San Luis PotosL
Zacatecas, in the intendancy of the same name.
Real del Monte, in the intendancy of Mexico.
Bolanos, in the intendancy of Guadalaxara.
Guarisamey, in the intendancy of Durani^o.
Sorabrerete, in tlie intendancy of Zacatecas.
Ta.sco, in the intendancy of Mexico.
Batopilas, in the intendancy of Durango.
Zimapan, in the intendancy of Mexico.
Fresnillo, in the intendancy of Zacatecas.
Ramos, in tlie intendancy of San Luis Potosi.
Parral, in tlie intendancy of Durango.

The veins of Tasco, Sultepec, Tlapujahua, and Pa- Earliest
chuca, were first wrought by the Spaniards. Those of mines.
Zacatecas were next commenced, and that of San
Barnabe was begun in 1548. The principal one in
Guanaxuato was discovered in 1558. As the total pro-
duce of all in Mexico, until the beginning of the
eighteenth century, never exceeded 369,844 troy pounds
of gold and silver yearly, it must be concluded, that
during the sixteenth little energy was employed in
drawing forth their stores.

The silver extracted in the thirty-seven districts was Silver.
deposited in the provincial treasuries established in the
chief places of the intendancies ; and from the reports
of these offices the quantity furnished by the different
parts of the country may be determined. The following
is an account of the receipts of eleven of these boards
from the year 1785 to 1789 : —


CHAP. XXVI. ' Marks of Silver.

„ — ' , Guanaxiiato, 2.4f;!l,O<>0

'Ifverfor S^" ^'''^ ^"t«si, 1,515,000

four years. Zacatecas, 1,205,000

^ Mexico, 1,055,000

Diiraniro, 922,000

Rosario, CWiOOO

Giiadala.xara,.., 509,000

Pachuca, 455.000

Bolanos, 364.000

Sombrerete 320,000

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