Alexander von Humboldt, Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, trans. John Black (1811)

 

Section 1. The Progress of Population

It is certain, however, that this population has made the most extraordinary progress. The augmentation of tithes, of the Indian capitation, and of all the duties on consumption, the progress of agriculture and civilization, the aspect of a country covered with the newly constructed houses, announce a rapid increase in every part of the kingdom. How are we to conceive then that social institutions can be so defective and a government so iniquitous as to pervert the order of nature, and prevent the progressive multiplication of our species in a fertile soil and temperate climate? Happy the portion of the globe where a peace of three centuries has almost effaced the very recollection of the crimes produced by the fanaticism and insatiable avarice of the first conquerors!

In order to draw up a table of the population in 1803, and to exhibit numbers as near to the truth as possible, it was necessary to augment the result of the last enumeration with that part of the inhabitants omitted from the lists, and with the excess of births above the burials. I wished rather to adopt a number below the actual population, than to hazard suppositions which might appear extravagant. I have therefore lowered the estimated number of inhabitants omitted from the general census, and in place of a sixth adopted a tenth.

As to the progressive augmentation of the population since 1793 to the epoch of my journey, I have fixed it from sufficient data. Through the particular kindness with which I was honored by the Archbishop of Mexico, I was enabled to enter into minute investigations on the relation between the births and deaths, according to the difference of climates of the central table land and the regions adjacent to the coast. Several parish priests interested in the solution of so important a problem as the augmentation of diminution of our species, engaged in a very laborious undertaking. They communicated to me the number of baptisms and burials, yearly from 1752 to 1802. From the whole of these minute registers, which I have preserved, it appears that the proportion of the births to the deaths is nearly as 170:100.

It appears that on the high plain of the Cordillera the excess of births is greater than towards the coast, or in the very warm regions. At Panuco, where the climate is as hot as at Vera Cruz, the number of births from 1793 to 1802 was 1,224, and the number of deaths, 988. We have here the unfavorable proportion of 100 to 123. Heat alone is not the cause of this great mortality. In climates very warm, and at the same time very dry the human species enjoys a longevity perhaps greater than what we observe in the temperate zones. This is especially the case whenever the temperature and climate are excessively variable. The Europeans who transport themselves at an age somewhat advanced into the equinoctial part of the Spanish colonies attain there for the most part to a great and happy old age. At Vera Cruz, in the midst of the epidemic black vomitings, the natives and strangers seasoned for several years to the climate enjoy the most perfect health.

In general, the coasts and plains of equatorial America should be looked upon as healthy, notwithstanding the excessive heat of the sun. Individuals come to maturity, particularly those who approach to old age, have little to fear from these regions, of which the unhealthiness has been unjustifiably exaggerated. The chief mortality is among the children and young people, particularly where the climate is at once very warm and very humid. Tertian fevers are the scourge of these countries, adorned by nature with the most vigorous vegetation and rich in every useful production. This scourge is so much the more cruel, as the natives abandon in the most shocking manner all those who are affected. The children especially fall victims to this neglect. In these hot and humid regions the mortality is so great that the population makes no sensible progress, while in the cold regions of New Spain (and these regions compose the greatest part of the kingdom) the proportion of the births to the deaths is as 190 to 100 or even 200 to l00.

In general, we observe everywhere on the globe that the population augments with a prodigious rapidity in countries still thinly inhabited, with an eminently fertile soil, a soft and equal temperature, and particularly where there is a robust race of men incited by nature to marriage at a very early age. The data which we have taken for the proportion of the births to the deaths, and of both to the whole population, prove that if the order of nature were not inverted from time to time by some extraordinary cause the population of New Spain would double every nineteen years. In France the population would double in 214 years if no war or no contagious disease were to diminish the annual excedent of the births. Such is the difference between countries already very populous, and those which have yet but a nascent industry.

The only true sign of a real and permanent increase of population is an increase in the means of subsistence. This increase is evident in Mexico, and appears to indicate a much more rapid progress of population than has been supposed in deducing the population of 18O3 from the imperfect enumeration of 1793. In a catholic country the ecclesiastical tenths are, as it were, the thermometer by which we may judge of the state of agriculture, and these tenths have doubled in less than 24 years.

All these considerations suffice to prove that in admitting 5,800,000 inhabitants for the kingdom of Mexico at the end of the year 18O3 I have taken a number which, far from being exaggerated, is probably much below the existing population. No public calamity has afflicted the country since the enumeration of 1793. If we add a tenth for the individuals not included in the enumeration, and two tenths for the progress of population in ten years, we suppose an excess of births which is less by one-half than the result of the parish registers. According to this supposition the number of inhabitants would double every 36 or 40 years. Yet well informed persons who have attentively observed the progress of agriculture, increase of villages and cities, and the augmentation of all the revenues of the crown depending on the consumption of commodities, are tempted to believe that the population of Mexico has made a much more rapid progress. I am far from pronouncing on so delicate a matter. It is enough for me to have exhibited a detail of the materials hitherto collected, which may lead to accurate results.

 

Section 2. The Indians

I could not fail to interest the reader by a minute description of the manners, character and physical and intellectual state of those indigenous inhabitants of Mexico. The general interest displayed in Europe for the remains of the primitive population of the new continent has its origin in a moral cause which does honor to humanity. The history of the conquest of America presents the picture of an unequal struggle between nations far advanced in arts and others in the very lowest degree of civilization. The unfortunate race of Aztecs, escaped from the carnage, appeared destined to annihilation under an oppression of several centuries. We have difficulty in believing that nearly two millions and a half of aborigines could survive such lengthened calamities. Such is the interest which the misfortune of a vanquished people inspires, that it renders us frequently unjust towards the descendants of the conquerors.

To give an accurate idea of the indigenous inhabitants of New Spain, it is not enough to paint them in their actual state of degradation and misery; we must go back to a remote period when, governed by its own laws, the nation could display its proper energy; and we must consult the hieroglyphic paintings, buildings of hewn stone, and works of sculpture still in preservation which, though they attest the infancy of the arts, bear a striking analogy to several monuments of the most civilized people. The nature of this work does not permit us to enter into such details, however interesting they may be, both for the history and the psychological study of our species. We shall merely point out here a few of the most prominent features of the immense picture of American indigenous population.

The Indians of New Spain bear a general resemblance to those who inhabit Canada, Florida, Peru and Brazil. They have the same swarthy and copper color, flat and smooth hair, small beard, squat body, long eye with the corner directed upwards towards the temples, prominent cheek bones, thick lips, and an expression of gentleness in the mouth strongly contrasted with a gloomy and severe look. An European, when he decides on the great resemblance among the copper-colored races, is subject to a particular illusion. He is struck with a complexion so different from our own, and the uniformity of this complexion conceals for a long time the diversity of individual features. The new colonist can hardly at first distinguish the indigenous, because his eyes are less fixed on the gentle, melancholic or ferocious expression of the countenance than on the red coppery color and dark, luminous and coarse and glossy hair.

The Indians of New Spain generally attain a pretty advanced age. Peaceable cultivators, collected these six hundred years in villages, they are not exposed to the accidents of the wandering life of the hunters and warriors. Accustomed to uniform nourishment of an almost entirely vegetable nature, the Indians would undoubtedly attain a very great longevity if their constitution were not weakened by drunkenness. Their intoxicating liquors are rum, a fermentation of maize and the root of the jatropha, and especially pulque, the wine of the country. The vice of drunkenness is, however, less general among the Indians than is generally believed. In the forests of Guiana and on the banks of the Orinoco we saw Indians who showed an aversion for the brandy which we made them taste. There are several Indian tribes, very sober, whose fermented beverages are too weak to intoxicate. In New Spain drunkenness is most common among the Indians who inhabit the valley of Mexico and the environs of Puebla and Tlaxcala, wherever the maguey or agave are cultivated on a great scale. The police in the city of Mexico send round tumbrils to collect the drunkards to be found stretched out in the streets. These Indians, who are treated like dead bodies, are carried to the principal guard house. In the morning iron ring is put round their ankles and they are made clear the streets for three days. On letting them go on the fourth day, they are sure to find several of them in the course of the week. The excess of liquors is also very injurious to the health of the lower people in the warm countries on the coast which grow sugar cane. It is to be hoped that this evil will diminish as civilization makes more progress among a caste of men whose bestiality is not much different from that of the brutes.

Travelers who merely judge from the physiognomy Of -the Indians are tempted to believe that it is rare to see old men among them. In fact, without consulting parish registers which in warm regions are devoured by the termites every twenty or thirty years, it is very difficult to form any idea of the age of Indians. They themselves (I allude to, the poor laboring Indian) are completely ignorant of it. Their heads never become grey. It is infinitely more rare to find an Indian than a Negro with grey hairs, and the want of beard gives the former a continual air of youth. The skin of tile Indians is also less subject to wrinkles. It is by no means uncommon to see in Mexico, in the temperate zone half way up the Cordillera, natives, and especially women, reach a hundred years of age. This old age is generally comfortable, for the Mexican and Peruvian Indians preserve their muscular strength to the last.

The copper-colored Indians enjoy one great physical advantage which is undoubtedly owing to the great simplicity in which their ancestors lived for thousands of years. They are subject to almost no deformity. I never saw a hunchbacked Indian, and it is extremely rare to see any of them who squint or are lame in the arm or leg. In the countries where the inhabitants suffer from the goiter, this affection of the thyroid gland is never observed among the Indians and seldom among the mestizos. When we examine savage hunters or warriors we are tempted to believe that they are all well made, because those who have any natural deformity either perish from fatigue or are exposed by their parents. But the Mexican and Peruvian Indians are agriculturists who can only be compared with the class of European peasantry. We can have no doubt then that the absence of natural deformities among them is the effect of their mode of life and of the constitution peculiar to their race.

As to the moral faculties of the Indians, it is difficult to appreciate them with justice if we only consider this long oppressed caste in their present state of degradation. The better sort of Indians, among whom a certain degree of intellectual culture might be supposed, perished in great part at the commencement of the Spanish conquest, the victims of European ferocity. The Christian fanaticism broke out in a particular manner against the Aztec priests who observed the meridian shade in the gnomons and regulated the calendar. All those who inhabited the teocalli or houses of God, who might be considered as the depositories of the historical, mythological and astronomical knowledge of the country were exterminated. The monks burned the hieroglyphic paintings by which every kind of knowledge was transmitted from generation to generation. The people, deprived of these means of instruction, were plunged in an ignorance so much the deeper as the missionaries were unskilled in the Mexican languages and could substitute few new ideas in place of the old. The Indian women who had preserved any share of fortune chose rather to ally with the conquerors than to share the contempt in which the Indians were held. The Spanish soldiers were eager for these alliances as very few European women had followed the army. The remaining natives then consisted only of the most indigent race, poor cultivators, artisans, among whom were a great number of weavers, porters who were used like beasts of burden, and especially of those dregs of the people, those crowds of beggars who bore witness to the imperfection of the social institutions and the existence of feudal oppression, and who in the time of Cortes filled the streets of all the great cities of the Mexican empire. How shall we judge, from these miserable remains of a powerful people, of the degree of cultivation to which it had risen from the twelfth to the sixteenth century and of the intellectual development of which it is susceptible? If all that remained of the French or German nation were a few poor agriculturists, could we read in their features that they belonged to nations which had produced a Descartes and Clairaut, a Kepler and a Liebnitz?

When we consider attentively what is related in the letters of Cortes, the memoirs of Bernal Diaz written with admirable naivete, and other contemporary historians as to the state of the inhabitants of Mexico, Texcoco, Cholollan [Choloyan?] and Tlaxcala in the time of Montezuma II, we think we perceive the portrait of the Indians of our own time. We see the same nudity in the warm regions, the same form of dress in the central table land, and the same habits in domestic life. How can any great change take place in the Indians when they are kept insulated in villages in which the whites dare not settle, when the difference of language places an almost unsurmountable barrier between them and the Europeans, when they are oppressed by magistrates chosen through political considerations from their own number, and in short, when they can only expect moral and civil improvement from a man who talks to them of mysteries, dogmas and ceremonies, of the end of which they are ignorant.

I do not mean to discuss here what the Mexicans were before the Spanish Conquest; this interesting subject has been already entered upon in the commencement of this chapter. When we consider that they had an almost exact knowledge of the duration of the year, that they intercalated at the end of their great cycle of 104 years with more accuracy than the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, we are tempted to believe that this progress is not the effect of the intellectual development of the Americans themselves, but that they were indebted for it to their communication with some very cultivated nations of central Asia. The Toltecs appeared in New Spain in the seventh and the Aztecs in the twelfth century; and they immediately drew up the geographical map of the country traversed by them, constructed cities, highways, dikes, canals and immense pyramids very accurately designed. Their feudal system, their civil and military hierarchy, were already so complicated that we must suppose a long succession of political events before the establishment of the singular concatenation of authorities of the nobility and clergy, and before a small portion of the people, themselves the slaves of the Mexican sultan, could have subjugated the great mass of the nation. We have examples of theocratical forms of government in South America in which despotism was concealed under the appearance of a gentle and patriarchal government. But in Mexico small colonies, wearied of tyranny, gave themselves republican constitutions. Now it is only after long popular struggles that these free constitutions can be formed. The existence of republics does not indicate a very recent civilization. How is it possible to doubt that a part of the Mexican nation had arrived at a certain degree of cultivation, when we reflect on the care with which their hieroglyphical books were composed, and when we recollect that a citizen of Tlaxcala, in the midst of the tumults of war took advantage of the facility offered him by our Roman alphabet to write in his own language five large volumes on the history of a country of which he deplored the subjection?

In the portrait which we draw of the different races of men composing the population of New Spain, we shall merely consider the Mexican Indian in his actual state. The Mexican Indian is grave, melancholic and silent so long as he is not under the influence of intoxicating liquors. This gravity is particularly remarkable in Indian children, who at the age of four or five display much more intelligence and maturity than white children. The Mexican loves to throw a mysterious air over the most indifferent actions. The most violent passions are never painted in his features; and there is something frightful in seeing him pass all at once from absolute repose to a state of violent and unrestrained agitation. The Peruvian Indian possesses more gentleness of manners; the energy of the Mexican degenerates into harshness. These differences may have their origin in the different religions and different governments of two countries in former times. This energy is displayed particularly by the inhabitants of Tlaxcala. In the midst their present degradation, the descendants of those republicans are still to be distinguished by a certain haughtiness of character, inspired by the memory of their former grandeur.

The Americans, like other nations who have long groaned under a civil and military despotism, adhere to their customs, manners and opinions with extraordinary obstinacy. I say opinions, for the introduction of Christianity has produced almost no other effect on the Indians of Mexico than to substitute new ceremonies, the symbols of a gentle and humane religion, to the ceremonies of a sanguinary worship. This change from old to new rites was the effect of constraint and not of persuasion, and was produced by political events alone. In the new continent as well as in the old, half-civilized nations were accustomed to receive from the hands of the conqueror new laws and new divinities; the vanquished Indian gods appeared to them to yield to the gods of the strangers. In such a complicated mythology as that of the Mexicans, it was easy to find out an affinity between their divinities and the divinity of the east. The ritual books composed by the Indians at the beginning of the conquest, of which I possess several fragments, evidently show that at that period Christianity was confounded with the Mexican mythology; the Holy Ghost is identified with the sacred eagle of the Aztecs. The missionaries not only tolerated, they even favored to a certain extent this amalgamation of ideas by means of which the Christian worship was more easily introduced among the natives. They persuaded them that the gospel had, in very remote times, been already preached in America; and they investigated its traces in the Aztec ritual with ardor.

These circumstances explain why the Mexican Indians, notwithstanding the obstinacy with which they adhere to whatever is derived from their fathers, have so easily forgotten their ancient rites. Dogma has not succeeded to dogma, but ceremony to ceremony. The natives know nothing of religion but the exterior forms of worship. Fond of whatever is connected with a prescribed order of ceremonies, they find in the Christian religion particular enjoyments. The festivals of the church, 'the fireworks with which they are accompanied, the processions mingled with dances and whimsical disguises, are a most fertile source of amusement for the lower Indians. In these festivals the national character is displayed in all its individuality. Everywhere the Christian rites have assumed the shades of the country where they have been transplanted.

Accustomed to a long slavery under the domination of their own sovereigns as well as under that of the first conquerors, the natives of Mexico patiently suffer the vexations to which they are frequently exposed from the whites. They oppose to them only a cunning veiled under the deceitful appearances of apathy and stupidity. As the Indian can very rarely revenge himself on the Spaniards, he delights in making a common cause with them for the oppression of his own fellow citizens. Harassed for ages and compelled to a blind obedience, he wishes to tyrannize in his turn. The Indian villages are governed by magistrates of the copper-colored race; and an Indian alcalde exercises his power with so much the greater severity because he is sure of being supported by the priest or the Spanish subdelegado. Oppression produces everywhere the same effects, it everywhere corrupts the morals.

After examining the physical constitution and intellectual faculties of the Indians, it remains for us to give a rapid survey of their social state. The history of the lower classes of a people is the relation of the events which, in creating at the same time a great inequality of fortune, enjoyment and individual happiness, have gradually placed e nation under the tutory and control of the other. We shall seek in vain this relation in the annals of history. They transmit to us the memory of the great political revolutions, wars, conquests and the other scourges which have afflicted humanity; but they tell us nothing of the more or less deplorable lot of the poorest and most numerous class of society. The cultivator freely enjoys the fruits of his labor in only a very small part of Europe; and we are forced to own that this civil liberty is not so much the result of an advanced civilization, as the effect of those violent crises during which one class or one state has taken advantage of the dissensions of the other. The true perfection of social institutions depends no doubt on information and intellectual cultivation; but the concatenation of the springs which move a state is such that in one part of the nation this cultivation may make a very remarkable progress without the situation of the lower orders becoming more improved. Almost tile whole north of Europe confirms this sad experience. There are countries there where, notwithstanding the boasted civilization of the higher classes of society, the peasant still lives in the same degradation under which he groaned three or four centuries ago. We should think higher, perhaps, of the situation of the Indians were we to compare it with that of the peasants of Courland, Russia and a great part of the north of Germany.

The Indians whom we see scattered throughout the cities and spread especially over the plains of Mexico, whose number (without including those of mixed blood) amounts to two millions and a half, are either descendants of the old peasantry or the remains of a few great Indian families who, disdaining alliance with the Spanish conquerors, preferred rather to cultivate with their hands the fields which were formerly cultivated for them by their vassals. This diversity has a sensible influence on the political state of the natives, and divides them into tributary and noble or cacique Indians. The latter, by the Spanish laws, ought to participate in the privileges of the Castilian nobility. But in their present situation this is merely an illusory advantage. It is now difficult to distinguish, from their exterior, the caciques from those Indians whose ancestors in the time of Montezuma II constituted the lower caste of the Mexican nation. The noble, from the simplicity of his dress and mode of living and from the aspect of misery which he loves to exhibit, is easily confounded with the tributary Indian. The latter shows to the former a respect which indicates the distance prescribed by the ancient constitutions of the Aztec hierarchy. The families who enjoy the hereditary rights of cacicazgo, far from protecting the tributary caste of the natives, more frequently abuse their power and their influence. Exercising the magistracy in the Indian villages, they levy the capitation tax; they not only delight in becoming the instruments of the oppressions of whites, but they also make use of their power and authority to extort small sums for their own advantage. Well-informed intendants, who have bestowed much attention for a long time to the detail of this Indian administration, assured me that the oppressions of the caciques bore very heavy on the tributary Indians. Moreover, the Aztec nobility display the same vulgarity of manners and the same want of civilization with the lower Indians. They remain, as it were, in the same state of insulation; examples of native Mexicans, enjoying the cacicazgo, following the sword or the law are infinitely rare. We find more Indians in ecclesiastical functions, particularly in that of parish priest -the solitude of the convent appears to have attractions only for the young Indian girls.

When the Spaniards made the conquest of Mexico they found the people in that state of abject submission and poverty which everywhere, accompanies despotism and feudality. The emperor, princes, nobility and clergy alone possessed the most fertile lands; the governors of provinces indulged with impunity in the most severe exactions; and the cultivator was everywhere degraded. The highways swarmed with mendicants; and the want of large quadrupeds forced thousands of Indians to perform the functions of beasts of burden, and to transport the maize, cotton, hides and other commodities which the more remote provinces sent by way of tribute to the capital. The conquest rendered the state of the lower people still more deplorable. The cultivator was torn from the soil and dragged to the mountains where the working of the mines commenced; and a great number of Indians were obliged to follow the armies and to carry, without sufficient nourishment or repose, through mountainous woods, burdens which exceeded their strength. All Indian property, whether in land or goods, was conceived to belong to the conqueror. This atrocious principle was even sanctioned by a law which assigns to the Indians a small portion of ground around the newly constructed churches.

The court of Spain seeing that the new continent was depopulating very rapidly took measures beneficial in appearance, but which the avarice and cunning of the conquerors contrived to direct against the very people whom they were intended to relieve. The system of encomienda was introduced. The Indians, whose liberty had in vain been proclaimed by Queen Isabella, were till then slaves of the whites who appropriated them to themselves indiscriminately. By the establishment of encomienda, slavery assumed a more regular form. To terminate the quarrels among the conquistadores, the remains of the conquered people were shared out; and the Indians, divided into tribes of several hundreds of families, had masters named to them in Spain from among the soldiers who had acquired distinction during the conquest, and from among the people of the law sent out by the court as a counterpoise to the usurping power of the generals. A great number of the finest encomiendas were distributed among the monks, and religion, which from its principles ought to favor liberty, was itself degraded in profiting by the servitude of the people. This partition of the Indians attached them to the soil, and their work became the property of the encomenderos. The slave frequently took the family name of his master. Hence, many Indian families bear Spanish names without their blood having been in the least degree mingled with the European. The court of Madrid imagined that it had bestowed protectors on the Indians; it only made the evil worse and gave a more systematic form to oppression.

Such was the state of the Mexican cultivators in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the eighteenth their situation assumed progressively a better appearance. The families of the conquistadores are partly extinguished, and the encomiendas, considered as fiefs, were not redistributed. The viceroys, and especially the audiencias, watched over the interests of the Indians, and their liberty and, in some provinces, even their ease of circumstances have been gradually augmenting. It was King Charles III especially who, by measures equally wise and energetic, became the benefactor of the Indians. He annulled the encomiendas; and he prohibited the repartimientos, by which the corregidores arbitrarily constituted themselves the creditors and consequently the masters of the industry of the natives, by furnishing them at extravagant prices with horses, mules and clothes. The establishment of intendancies was a memorable epoch for Indian prosperity. The minute vexations to which the cultivator was incessantly exposed from the subaltern Spanish and Indian magistracy have singularly diminished under the active superintendance of the intendants; and the Indians begin to enjoy advantages which laws, gentle and humane in general, afforded them but of which they were deprived of in ages of barbarity and oppression. The first choice of the persons to whom the court confided the important places of intendant or governor of a province was extremely fortunate. Among the twelve who shared the administration of the country in 1804, there was not one whom the public accused of corruption or want of integrity.

Mexico is the country of inequality. Nowhere does there exist such a fearful difference in the distribution of fortune, civilization, cultivation of the soil and population. The interior of the country contains four cities which are not more than one or two days journey distant from one another and possess a population of 35,000, 67,000, 70,000 and 135,000. The central table land from Puebla to Mexico and from thence to Salamanca and Celaya, is covered with villages and hamlets like the most cultivated parts of Lombardy. To the east and west of this narrow strip succeed tracts of uncultivated ground on which cannot be found ten or twelve persons to the square league. The capital and several other cities have scientific establishments which will bear a comparison with those of Europe. The architecture of the public and private edifices, the elegance of the furniture, the equipages, the luxury and dress of the women, the tone of society, all announce a refinement t which the nakedness, ignorance and vulgarity of the lower people form the most striking contrast. This immense inequality of fortune does not only exist among the caste of whites, it is even discoverable among the Indians.

The Mexican Indians, when we consider them en masse, offer a picture of extreme misery. Banished into the most barren districts, indolent from nature and more still from their political situation, the natives live from hand to mouth. We should seek almost in vain among them for individuals who enjoy anything like a certain mediocrity of fortune. Instead, however, of a comfortable independency, we find a few families whose fortune appears so much the more colossal as we least expect it among the lowest class of the people. In the intendancies of Oaxaca and Valladolid, in the valley of Toluca, and especially in the environs of Puebla, we find several Indians who conceal considerable wealth under an appearance of poverty. When I visited the small city of Cholula, an old Indian woman was buried there who left to her children plantations of agave worth more than 360,000 francs [15,000 pounds]. These plantations are the vineyards and sole wealth of the country. However, there are no caciques at Cholula; the Indians there are all tributary and distinguished for their great sobriety and their gentle and peaceable manners. The manners of the Cholulans exhibit a singular contrast to those of their neighbors of Tlaxcala, of whom a great number pretend to be the descendants of the highest titled nobility and who increase their poverty by a litigious disposition and a restless and turbulent turn of mind.

The Indians are exempted from every sort of indirect impost. They pay no alcabala, and the law allows them full liberty for the sale of their productions. The supreme council of finances of Mexico, called the Junta superior de Real Hacienda, endeavored from time to time, especially within these last five or six years, to subject the Indians to the alcabala. We must hope that the court of Madrid, which in all times has endeavored to protect this unfortunate race, will preserve to them their immunity so long as they shall continue subject to the direct impost of the tributo. This impost is a real capitation tax, paid by male Indians between the ages of ten and fifty. The tribute is not the same in all the provinces of New Spain, and it has been diminished within the last two hundred years. In 1601 the Indian paid nearly 23 francs [19s 2d]. It was gradually reduced in some intendancies to 15 and even to 5 francs. In the bishopric of Michoacán and in the greatest part of Mexico the capitation amounts at present to 11 francs [9s 2d]. Besides, the Indians pay a parochial duty of 10 francs for baptism, 20 francs for a certificate of marriage and 20 francs for interment.

If the legislation of Queen Isabella and Charles V appears to favor the Indians with regard to imposts, it has deprived them of the most important rights enjoyed by the other citizens. In an age when it was formally discussed if the Indians were rational beings, it was conceived granting there a benefit to treat them like minors, to put them under the perpetual tutory of the whites, and to declare null every act signed by a native and every obligation which he contracted beyond the value of 15 francs. These laws are maintained in full vigor; and they place insurmountable barriers between the Indians and the other castes, with whom all intercourse is almost prohibited. Thousands of inhabitants can enter no contract which is binding; condemned to a perpetual minority, they become a charge to themselves and the state in which they live.

I cannot better finish the political view of the Indians of New Spain than by laying before the reader an extract from a memoir, presented by the bishop and chapter of Michoacán to the king in 1799, which breathes the wisest views and the most liberal ideas. This respectable bishop (Fray Antonio de San Miguel), whom I had the advantage. of knowing personally and who terminated his useful and laborious life at the advanced age of 8o, represents to the monarch that in the actual state of things the moral improvement of the Indian is impossible if the obstacles which oppose the progress of national industry are not removed. He confirms the principles which he lays down by several passages from the works of Montesquieu and Bernardin de Saint Pierre. These citations can hardly fail to surprise us from the pen of a prelate belonging to the regular clergy, who passed a part of his life in convents, and who filled an episcopal chair on the shores of the South Sea.

"The population of New Spain," says the bishop towards the end of his memoir, "is composed of three classes of men; whites or Spaniards, Indians, and castes. I suppose the Spaniards to compose the tenth part of the whole mass. In their hands almost all the property and all the wealth of the kingdom are centered. The Indians and the castes cultivate the soil; they are in the service of the better sort of people; and they live by the work of their hands. Hence there results between the Indians and the whites that opposition of interests and that mutual hatred which universally takes place between those who possess, all and those who possess nothing, between masters and those who live in servitude. Thus we see, on the one hand the effects of envy and discord, deception, theft, and the inclination to prejudice the interests of the rich; and on the other, arrogance, severity and the desire of taking every moment advantage of the helplessness of the Indian. I am not ignorant that these evils everywhere spring from a great inequality of condition. But in America they are rendered still more terrific because there exists no intermediate state; we are rich or miserable, noble or degraded by the laws or the force of opinion. …

"Now, Sire, what attachment can the Indian have to the government, despised and degraded as he is, and almost without property and without hope of ameliorating his existence? He is merely attached to social life by a tie which affords him no advantage. Let not your majesty believe that the dread of punishment alone is sufficient to preserve tranquillity in this country; there must be other motives, there must be more powerful motives. If the new legislation which Spain expects with impatience do not occupy itself with the situation of the Indians and people of color, the influence which the clergy possess over the hearts of these unfortunate people, however great it may be, will not be sufficient to contain them in the submission and respect due to their sovereign.

"Let the odious personal impost of the tributo be abolished; and let the infamy which unjust laws have attempted to stamp on the people of color be at an end; let them be declared capable of filling every civil employment which does not require a special title of nobility; let a proportion of the demesnes of the crown which are uncultivated be granted to the Indians and the castes; let an agrarian law be passed for Mexico similar to that of the Asturias and Galicia, by which the poor cultivator is permitted to bring in, under certain conditions, the land which the great proprietors have left so many ages uncultivated to the detriment of the national industry; let full liberty be granted to the Indians, the castes and the whites to settle in villages which at present belong only to one of these classes; let salaries be appointed for all judges and all magistrates of districts; these, Sire, are the six principal points on which the felicity of the Mexican people depends."

We might have hoped that the administrations of three enlightened viceroys, animated with the most noble zeal for the public good, the Conde de Revillagigedo, Don Teodoro de Croix, and Don Miguel de Azanza, would have produced some happy changes in the political state of the Indians, but these hopes have been frustrated. The power of the viceroys has been singularly diminished of late; they are fettered in all their measures, not only by the junta of finances and by the high court of justice, but also by the government in the mother country which possesses the mania of wishing to govern in the greatest detail provinces at the distance of two thousand leagues, the physical and moral state of which are unknown to them. The philanthropists affirm that it is happy for the Indians that they are neglected in Europe because sad experience has proved that the most part of the measures adopted for their relief have produced an opposite effect. The lawyers who detest innovations, and the creole proprietors who frequently find their interest in keeping the cultivator in degradation and misery, maintain that we must not interfere with the natives because on granting them more liberty the white would have everything to fear from the vindictive spirit and arrogance of the Indian race. The language is always the same whenever it is proposed to allow the peasant to participate in the rights of a free man and a citizen. I have heard the same arguments repeated in Mexico, Peru and the kingdom of New Granada which in several parts of Germany, Poland, Livonia, and Russia are opposed to the abolition of slavery among the peasants.

Recent examples ought to teach us how dangerous it is to allow the Indians to form a status in statu, to perpetuate their insulation, barbarity of manners, misery, and consequently motives of hatred against the other castes. These very stupid, indolent Indians who suffer themselves patiently to be lashed at the church doors, appear cunning, active, impetuous and cruel whenever they act in a body in popular disturbances. It may be useful to relate a proof of this assertion. The great revolt in 1781 very nearly deprived the king of Spain of all the mountainous part of Peru. José Gabriel Tupac-Amaru appeared at the head of an Indian army before the walls of Cuzco. The son of a cacique, José Gabriel was carefully educated at Lima. He returned to the mountains after having in vain solicited a title of nobility from the court of Spain. His spirit of vengeance drove him to excite the highland Indians, irritated against the corregidor, to insurrection. The people acknowledged him as a descendant of their true sovereigns and as one of the children of the sun. The young man took advantage of the popular enthusiasm which he had excited by the symbols of the ancient grandeur of the empire of Cuzco; he frequently bound round his forehead the imperial fillet of the Incas, and he artfully mingled Christian ideas with the memorials of the worship of the sun.

In the commencement of this campaigns he protected ecclesiastics and Americans of all colors. As he only broke out against the Europeans, he even made a party among the mestizos and the creoles; but the Indians, distrusting the sincerity of their new allies, soon began a war of extermination against everyone not of their own race. This insurrection, which appears to me very little known in Europe, lasted nearly two years.

The horrors exercised by the natives of Peru towards the whites in 1781 and 1782 in the Cordillera of the Andes were repeated in part twenty years after in the trifling insurrections which took place in the plain of Riobamba. It is therefore of the greatest importance, even for the security of the European families established for ages in the continent of the new world, that they should interest themselves in the Indians and rescue them from their present barbarous, abject and miserable condition.

 

Section 3. Whites, Negroes, Castes

Amongst the inhabitants of pure origin the whites would occupy the second place, considering them only in the relation of number. They are divided into whites born in Europe and descendants of Europeans born in the Spanish colonies of America or in the Asiatic islands. The former bear the name of chapetón or gachupín, and the second that of criollo. The Spanish laws allow the same rights to all whites, but those who have the execution of the laws endeavor to destroy an equality which shocks the European pride. The government, suspicious of the creoles, bestows the great places exclusively on the natives of old Spain. For some years back they have received from Madrid even the most trifling employments in the administration of the customs and the tobacco revenue. At an epoch when everything tended to a uniform relaxation in the springs of the state, the system of venality made an alarming progress. For the most part it was by no means a suspicious and distrustful policy, it was pecuniary interest alone which bestowed all employments on Europeans. The result has been a jealousy and perpetual hatred between the chapetones and the creoles. The most miserable European, without education and without intellectual cultivation, thinks himself superior to the whites born in the new continent. He knows that, protected by his countrymen and favored by chances common enough in a country where fortunes are as rapidly acquired as they are lost, he may one day reach places to which t he access is almost interdicted to the natives, even to those distinguished for their talents, knowledge and moral qualities. The natives prefer the denomination of Americans to that of creoles. Since the peace of Versailles, and in particular since the year 1789, we frequently hear proudly declared "I am not a Spaniard, I am an American!"—words which betray the workings of a long resentment. In the eye of the law every white creole is a Spaniard; but the abuse of the laws, the false measures of the colonial government, the example of the United States of America, and the influence of the opinions of the age, have relaxed the ties which formerly united more closely the Spanish creoles to the European Spaniards. A wise administration may re-establish harmony, calm their passions and resentments, and yet preserve for a long time the union among the members of one and the same great family scattered over Europe and America.

The Spanish laws prohibit all entry into the American possessions to every European not born in the peninsula. The words European and Spaniard are becoming synonymous in Mexico and Peru. The inhabitants of the remote provinces have therefore a difficulty in conceiving that there can be Europeans who do not speak their language, and they consider this ignorance a mark of low extraction because everywhere around them all except the very lowest class of the people speak Spanish. Better acquainted with the history of the sixteenth century than with that of our own times, they imagine that Spain continues to possess a decided preponderance over the rest of Europe. To them the peninsula appears the very center of European civilization. It is otherwise with the Americans of the capital. Those of them who are acquainted with French or English literature fall easily into a contrary extreme, and have a more unfavorable opinion of the mother country than the French had at a time when communication was less frequent between Spain and the rest of Europe. They prefer strangers from other countries to the Spaniards, and they flatter themselves with the idea that intellectual cultivation has made more rapid progress in the colonies than in the peninsula.

This progress is indeed very remarkable in Havana, Lima, Santa Fe, Quito, Popayán and Caracas. Of all these great cities Havana bears the greatest resemblance to those of Europe in customs, refinements of luxury and the tone of society. However, notwithstanding the efforts Of the Patriotic Society of the Island of Cuba which encourages the sciences with the most generous zeal, they prosper very slowly in a country where cultivation and the price of colonial produce engross the whole attention of the inhabitants. The study of mathematics, chemistry, mineralogy and botany is more general at Mexico, Santa Fe and Lima. We everywhere observe a great intellectual activity, and among the youth a wonderful facility of seizing the principles of science. It is said that this facility is still more remarkable among the inhabitants of Quito and Lima than at Mexico and Santa Fe. The former appear to possess more versatility of mind and a more lively imagination; while the Mexicans and the natives of Santa Fe have the reputation of greater perseverance in their studies.

No city of the new continent, without even excepting those of the United States, can display such great and scientific establishments as the capital of Mexico. I content myself here with naming the School of Mines which we shall return when we come to speak of the mines, the Botanic Garden and the Academy of Painting and Sculpture. This academy owes its existence to the patriotism of several Mexicans and to the protection of the minister José de Gálvez, Marqués de la Sonora. The government assigned it a spacious building in which there is a much finer and more complete collection of casts than is to be found in any part of Germany. We are astonished on seeing that the Appollo of the Belvedere, the Laocoon, and still more colossal statues, have been conveyed through narrow mountainous roads, and we are surprised at finding these masterpieces of antiquity collected together under the torrid zone in a table land higher than the convent of the great St. Bernard. The collection of casts brought to Mexico cost the king 200,000 francs [8,3341 pounds]. The remains of the Mexican sculpture, those colossal statues of basalt and porphyry which are covered with Aztec hieroglyphics, ought to be collected together in the academy, or rather in one of the courts which belong to it. It would be curious to see the works of a semi-barbarous people inhabiting the Mexican Andes placed beside the beautiful forms produced under the sky of Greece and Italy.

If, in the present state of things, the caste of whites is the only one in which we find anything like intellectual cultivation, it is also the only one which possesses great wealth. This wealth is unfortunately still more unequally distributed in Mexico than in Caracas, Havana, and especially Peru. At Caracas , the heads of the richest families possess a revenue of 200,000 livres [8,334 pounds]. In the island of Cuba we find revenues of more than 6 or 700,000 francs [25,000 or 29,169 pounds]. In these two industrious colonies agriculture has founded more considerable fortunes than has been accumulated by the working of the mines in Peru. At Lima an annual revenue of 80,000 francs is very uncommon [3,333 pounds]. I know in reality of no Peruvian family in the possession of a fixed and sure revenue of 130,000 francs [5,417 pounds]. But in New Spain there are individuals who possess no mines, whose revenue amounts to a million of francs [41,670 pounds]. The family of the Conde de Valenciana, for example, possesses property worth more than 25 millions of francs [1,041,750 pounds], without including the mine of Valenciana near Guanajuato which, communibus annis, yields a net revenue of a million and a half of livres. This family is only divided into three branches, and they possess altogether, even in years when the mine is not very lucrative, more than 2,200,000 francs of revenue [91,674 pounds]. The family of Fagoaga, well known for its beneficence, intelligence, and zeal for the public good, exhibits the example of the greatest wealth which was ever derived from a mine. A single seam in the district of Sombrerete gave in five or six months, all charges deducted, a net profit of 2o millions of francs [833,400 pounds].

From these data one would suppose capital in the Mexican families infinitely greater than what is really observed. The deceased Conde de Valenciana, the first of the title, sometimes drew from his mine alone, in one year, a net revenue of no less than six millions of livres [250,000 pounds]. This annual revenue during the last twenty five years of his life was never below from two to three million livres [84,000-125,000 pounds]; and yet this extraordinary man, who came without any fortune to America and who continued to live with great simplicity, left behind him at his death, besides his mine which is the richest in the world, only ten millions in property and capital. This fact, which may be relied on, will not surprise those who are acquainted with the interior management of the great Mexican houses. Money rapidly gained is as rapidly spent. The working of mines becomes a game in which they embark with unbounded passion. The rich proprietors of mines lavish immense sums on quacks who engage them in new undertakings in the most remote provinces. In a country where the Works are conducted on such an extravagant scale that the pit of a mine frequently requires two millions of francs to pierce, the failure of a rash project may absorb in a few years all that was gained in working the richest seams. We must add, that from the internal disorder which prevails in the greatest part of the great houses of both old and New Spain, the head of a family is not unfrequently straitened with a revenue of half a million, though he display no other luxury than that of numerous yokes of mules

The mines have undoubtedly been the principal sources of the great fortunes of Mexico. Many miners have laid out their wealth in purchasing land and have addicted themselves with great zeal to agriculture. But there is also a considerable number of very powerful families who have never had the working of any lucrative mines. Such are the rich descendants of Cortés. The Duke of Monteleone, a Neapolitan lord who is now the head of the house of Cortés, possesses superb estates in the province of Oaxaca, near Toluca, and at Cuernavaca. The net produce of his rents is actually no more than 550,000 francs [23,000 pounds], the king having deprived the duke of the collection of the alcabala and the duties on tobacco. However, several governors of the marquesado have become singularly wealthy. If the descendants of the great conquistador would only live in Mexico, their revenue would immediately rise to more than a million and a half [62,500 pounds].

To complete the view of the immense wealth centered in the hands of a few individuals in New Spain, which may compete with anything in Great Britain or the European possessions in Hindustan, I shall add several exact statements both of the revenues of the Mexican clergy and the pecuniary sacrifices annually made by the body of miners for the improvement of mining. This last body, formed by a union of the proprietors of mines and represented by deputies who sit in the Tribunal de Mineria, advanced in three years, 1784-1787, a sum of four millions Of francs [66,680 pounds] to individuals who were in want of the necessary funds to carry on great works. It is believed in the country that this money has not been very usefully employed, but its distribution proves the generosity and opulence of those who are capable of such considerable largess. A European reader will be still more astonished when I inform him that a few years ago the respectable family of Fagoaga lent more than three millions and a half of francs [45,845 pounds] without interest to a friend, whose fortune they were in the belief would be made by it in a solid manner; and this sum was irrevocably lost in an unsuccessful new mining undertaking. The architectural works which are carried on in the capital of Mexico are so expensive that, notwithstanding the low rate of wages, the superb edifice constructed by order of the Tribunal de Mineria for the School of Mines will cost at least three millions of francs [125,000 pounds], of which two millions were in readiness before the foundation was laid. To hasten the construction, and particularly to furnish the students immediately with a proper laboratory for metallic experiments, the body of Mexican miners contributed monthly in the year 1803 alone, the sum Of 50,000 livres [2,083 pounds]. Such, is the facility with which vast projects are executed in a country where wealth is divided among a small number of individuals.

This inequality of fortune is still more conspicuous among the clergy, of whom a number suffer extreme poverty while others possess revenues which surpass those of many of the sovereign princes of Germany. The Mexican clergy, less numerous than is believed in Europe, is only composed of ten thousand individuals, half of whom are regulars. If we include lay brothers and sisters, or servants, we may estimate the clergy at 13 or 14,000 individuals. Now the annual revenue of the eight Mexican bishops in the following list amounts to a sum total of 2,829,000 francs:

Bishoprics Revenue in Double Piastres

Mexico 130,000

Puebla 110,000

Valladolid 100,000

Guadalajara 90,000

Durango 35,000

Monterey 30,000

Yucatan 20,000

Oaxaca 18,000

Sonora 6,000

539,000 [117,915 pounds]

The bishop of Sonora, the poorest of them all, does not draw tithes. He is paid, like the bishop of Panama, immediately by the king. What is truly distressing is that in the diocese of an archbishop whose revenue amounts to the sum of 650,000 francs there are clergymen of Indian villages whose yearly income does not exceed five or six hundred francs. The lands of the Mexican clergy do not exceed the value of 12 or 15 millions of francs [500,000-625,000 pounds], but the clergy possesses immense capital hypothecated on the property of individuals. The whole of this capital amounts to the sum of 44 millions and a half of double piastres [13,500,000 pounds].

The rumor spread up and down Europe of the immensity of the Mexican wealth has given rise to very exaggerated ideas relative to the abundance of gold and silver employed in New Spain in plate, furniture, kitchen utensils and harness. A traveler, whose imagination has been heated by stories of keys, locks and hinges of massy silver, will be very much surprised on his arrival at Mexico at seeing no more of the precious metals employed for domestic uses there than in Spain, Portugal and the rest of the south of Europe; and he will be as much astonished at seeing in Mexico, Peru or at Santa Fe people of the lowest order barefooted with enormous silver spurs on, or at finding silver cups and plates a little more common there than in France and England. The surprise of the traveler will cease when he reflects that porcelain is very rare in tile, newly civilized regions, that the nature of the roads in the mountains renders the carriage of it extremely difficult, and that in a country of little commercial activity it is equally indifferent whether a few hundred piastres be possessed in specie or in plate. Notwithstanding, however, the enormous difference of wealth between Peru and Mexico, considering merely the fortunes of the great proprietors, I am inclined to believe that there is more true comfort at Lima than at Mexico. The inequality of fortune is much less in the former; we meet with a great number of mulatto artisans and free Negroes who by their industry alone procure much more than the necessaries of life. Capital of l0 and 15,000 piastres [1,560-2,340 pounds] is very common among this class, while the streets of Mexico swarm with from twenty to thirty thousand wretches of whom the greatest number pass the night sub dio and stretch themselves out to the sun during the day with nothing but a flannel covering. Lazy, careless and sober, they have nothing ferocious in their character and they never ask alms; for if they work one or two days in the week they earn as much as will purchase their pulque or some of the ducks with which the Mexican lakes are covered, which are roasted in their own fat. Their fortune seldom exceeds two or three reals, while the lower people of Lima, more addicted to luxury and pleasure and perhaps also more industrious, frequently spend two or three piastres in one day. One would say that the mixture of the European and the Negro everywhere produces a race of men more active and more assiduously industrious than the mixture of the whites with the Mexican Indian.

The kingdom of New Spain is, of all the European colonies under the torrid zone, that in which there are the fewest Negroes. We may almost say that there are no slaves. We may go through the whole city of Mexico without seeing a black countenance. The service of no house is carried on with slaves. From this point of view Mexico presents a singular contrast to Havana, Lima and Caracas. From information in the enumeration of 1793 it appears that in all New Spain there are not six thousand Negroes and not more than nine or ten thousand slaves, of whom the greatest number belong to the ports of Acapulco and Vera Cruz or the warm regions of the coasts. The slaves are four times more numerous in Caracas which does not contain a sixth of the population of Mexico. The Negroes of Jamaica are to those of New Spain in the proportion of 250 to 1! In the West India islands, Peru and even Caracas, the progress of agriculture and industry in general depends on the augmentation of Negroes. In the island of Cuba, for example, where the annual exportation of sugar has risen in twelve years from 400,000 to 1,000,000 quintals, between 1792 and 1803 nearly 55,000 slaves have been introduced. But in Mexico the increase of colonial prosperity is nowise occasioned by a more active slave trade, and the progress of sugar cultivation which has taken place in New Spain has not perceptibly increased the number of slaves. Of the 74,000 negroes annually furnished by Africa to America and Asia, not above 100 land on the coast of Mexico.

To complete the table of the elements of which the Mexican population is composed, it remains for us to point out rapidly the differences of caste which spring from the mixture of the pure races with one another. These castes constitute a mass almost as considerable as the Mexican Indians. We may estimate the total of the individuals of mixed blood at nearly 2,400,000. From a refinement of vanity, the inhabitants of the colonies have enriched their language with terms for the finest shades of the colors which result from the degeneration of the primitive color. It may be useful to explain these denominations because they have been confounded by many travelers and because this confusion frequently causes no small embarrassment to those who read Spanish works on the American possessions.

The son of a white (creole or European) and a native of copper color is called mestizo. His color is almost a pure white, and his skin is of a particular transparency. The small beard and small hands and feet, and a certain obliquity of the eyes, are more frequent indications of the mixture of Indian blood than the nature of the hair. If a mestiza marry a white man, the second generation differs hardly in anything from the European race. As very few Negroes have been introduced into New Spain, the mestizos probably compose 7/8 of the whole castes. They are generally accounted of a much more mild character than the mulattos, descended from whites and Negresses, who are distinguished for the violence of their passions and a singular volubility of tongue. The descendants of Negroes and Indian women bear the strange name of Chino, Chinese. On the coast of Caracas and, as appears from the laws, even in New Spain, they ate called zambos. This last denomination is now principally limited to the descendants of a Negro and a female mulatto, or a Negro and a Chinese female. From these common zambos they distinguish the zambos prietos who descend from a Negro and a female zamba. From the mixture of a white man with a mulatto comes the cast of ciuarterón. When a female cuarter6n marries a European or creole, her son bears the name of quinteron. A new alliance with a white banishes to such a degree the remains of color that the children of a white and a quinterón are white also.

In a country governed by whites, the families reputed to have the least mixture of Negro or mulatto blood are also naturally the most honored. In Spain it is almost a title of nobility to descend neither from Jews nor Moors. In America the greater or less degree of whiteness of skin decides the rank which man occupies in society. A white who rides barefooted on horseback thinks he belongs to the nobility of the country. Color establishes even a certain equality among men who, as is universally the case where civilization is either little advanced or in a retrograde state, take a particular pleasure in dwelling on the prerogatives of race and origin. When a common in an disputes with one of the titled lords of the country, he is frequently heard to say, "Do you think me not so white as yourself?" This may serve to characterize the state and source of the actual aristocracy. It becomes, consequently, a very interesting business for the Public vanity to estimate accurately the fractions of European blood which belong to the different castes.

It often happens that families suspected of being of mixed blood demand from the high court of justice a declaration that they belong to the whites. These declarations are not always corroborated by the judgment of the senses. We see very swarthy mulattoes who have had the address to get themselves "whitened" (this is the vulgar expression). When the color of the skin is too repugnant to the judgment demanded, the petitioner is contented with an expression somewhat problematical—"that such or such individuals may consider themselves as whites."

The reader will no doubt desire to have a discussion of what is the influence of this mixture of races on the general well-being of society? And what is the degree of enjoyment and individual happiness which a man of cultivated mind can procure amidst such a collision of interests, prejudices and feelings?

When a European transports himself into these distant regions of the new continent, he feels oppressed at every step with the influence which the colonial government has for centuries exercised over the minds of the inhabitants. A well-informed man, who merely interests himself in the intellectual development of the species, suffers less perhaps than the man who is endowed with great sensibility. The former institutes a comparison with the mother country; from maritime communication he procures books and instruments; he sees with ecstasy the progress which the exact sciences have made in the great cities of Spanish America; and the contemplation of nature in all her grandeur and the astonishing variety of her productions, indemnifies his mind for the privations to which his position condemns him. But the man of sensibility must seek in the Spanish colonies for everything agreeable in life within himself alone. It is in this way that isolation and solitude have their attractions for him if he wishes to enjoy peaceably the advantages afforded by the excellence of the climate, the aspect of a never-fading verdure, and the political calm of the new world. While I freely give these ideas to the World, I am not censuring the moral character of the inhabitants of Mexico or Peru; nor do I say that the people of Lima are Worse than those of Cadiz. I am rather inclined to believe what many other travelers have observed before me, that the Americans are endowed by nature with a gentleness of manners rather approaching to effeminacy, as the energy of several European nations easily degenerates into harshness. The want of sociability so universal in the Spanish colonies and the hatreds which divide the castes of greatest affinity, the effects of which shed a bitterness over the life of the colonists, are solely due to the political principles by which these regions have been governed since the sixteenth century. A government, aware of the true interests of humanity, will be able to diffuse information and instruction, and by extinguishing gradually the monstrous inequality of rights and fortunes, will succeed in augmenting the physical prosperity of the colonists; but it will find immense difficulties to overcome before rendering the inhabitants sociable, and teaching them to consider themselves mutually in the light of fellow citizens.

Let us not forget that in the United States society is formed in a very different manner from what it is in Mexico and the other continental regions of the Spanish colonies. Penetrating into the Alleghany mountains, the Europeans found immense forests in which a few tribes of hunters wandered up and down, attached by no tie to an uncultivated soil. At the approach of the new colonists, the natives gradually retired towards the western savannas in the neighborhood of the Mississippi and the Missouri. In this manner free men of the same race and the same origin became the first elements of a new people.

In New Spain and Peru, if we except the missions, the colonists nowhere returned to the state of nature. Fixing themselves in the midst of agricultural nations, who them. selves lived under governments equally complicated and despotic, the Europeans took advantage of the preponderancy of their civilization, their cunning, and the authority they derived from the conquest. This particular situation, and the mixture of races of which the interests are diametrically opposite, became an inexhaustible source of hatred and disunion. In proportion as the descendants of the Europeans became more numerous than those sent over directly by the mother country, the white race divided into two parties, of which the ties of blood cannot heal the resentments. The colonial government from a mistaken policy wished to take advantage of these dissensions. The greater the colony, the greater the suspicion of the administration. According to the ideas which unfortunately have been adopted for ages, these distant regions are considered as tributary to Europe. Authority is there distributed not in the manner which the public interest requires, but according as the dread of seeing a too rapid increase in the prosperity of the inhabitants seems to dictate. Seeking security in civil dissensions, in the balance of power, and in a complication of all the springs of the great political machine, the mother country foments incessantly the spirit of party and hatred among the castes and constituted authorities. From this state of things arises a rancor which disturbs the enjoyments of social life.