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every thing facilitates the acquisition of subterraneous wealth.”
Our author drops many interesting suggestions on the mines.
“The working of the mines has long been regarded as one of the principal causes of the depopulation of America. It will be difficult to call in question, that at the first epoch of the conquest, and even in the seventeenth century, many Indians perished from the excessive labour to which they were compelled in the mines. They perished withoutposterity, as thousands of African slaves annually perish in the West Indian plantations, from fatigue, defective nourishment, and want of sleep. In Peru, at least in the most southern part, the country is depopulated by the mines, because the barbarous law of the mita is yet in existence, which compels the Indians to remove from their homes into distant provinces, where hands are wanted for extracting the subterraneous wealth. But it is not so much the labour as the sudden change of climate, which renders the mita so pernicious to the health of the Indians. This race of men have not the flexibility of organization for which the Europeans are so eminently distinguished. The health of a copper-coloured man suffers infinitely when he is transported from a warm to a cold climate, particularly when he is forced to descend from the elevation of the Cordilleras into those narrow and humid valleys, where all the miasmata of the neighbouring regions appear to be deposited.
“In the kingdoms of New Spain, at least within the last thirty or forty years, the labour of the mines is free; and there remains no trace of the mita, though a justly celebrated author" has advanced the contrary. No where does the lower people enjoy, in greater security, the fruit of their labour, than in the mines of Mexico, no law forces the lndian to choose this species of labour, or to prefer one mine to another; and when he is displeased with the proprietor of the mine, he may offer his services to another master, who may pay, perhaps, more regularly. These unquestionable facts are very little known in Europe. The number of persons employed in subterraneous operations, who are divided into several classes [Barenares, Faeneros, Tamatelyos, Bareteros] vloes not exceed, in the whole kingdom of
New Spain, 28 or 30,000. Hence there is not more than one hundredth part of the whole population immediately employed in the mines. “The mortality among the miners of Mexico is not much greater than what is observed among the other classes. We may easily be convinced of this, by examining the bills of mortality in the different parishes of Guanaxuato and Zacatecas. This is a phenomenon, so much the more remarkable, as the miner in several of these mines, is exposed to a temperature 6° above the mean temperatures of Jamaica and Pondicherry. I found the centigrade thermometer at 34°4 at the bottom of the mine of Valenciana (en los planes) a perpendicular depth of 513 metres, while at the mouth of the pit, in the open air, the same thermometer sinks in winter to 4° or 5°S above 0. The Mexican miner is, consequently, exposed to a change of temperature of more than 30.*|| But this enormous heat of the Valenciana mine is not the effect of a great number of men and lights collected into a small space; it is much more owing to local and geological causes, which we shall afterwards examine. “It is curious to observe how the Mestizoes and Indians employed in carrying minerals on their back, who go by the name of Temateros, remain continually loaded for six hours with a weight of from 225 to 350 pounds, and constantly exposed to a very high temperature, ascending eight or ten times successively, without intermission, stairs of 1800 steps. The appearance of these robust and laborious men would have operated a change in the opinions of the Raynals and Pauws, and a number of other authors, however estimable in other respects, who have been pleased to declaim against the degeneracy of our species in the torrid zone. This occupation of Temateros is accounted unhealthy, if they enter more than three times a week into the mines. But the labour which ruins most rapidly the robustest constitutions is that of the Barenadores, who blow up the rock with powder. These men rarely pass the age of 35, if from a thirst of gain they continue their severe labour for the whole week. They generaliy pass no more than five or six years at this occupation, and then betake themselves to other employments less injurious to health. “From five to six thousand persons are:
ii. p. 373.
employed in the amalgamation of the minerals, or the preparatory labour. A great number of these individuals pass their lives in walking barefooted over heaps of brayed metal, moistened and mixed with muriate of soda, sulphate of iron, and oxid of mercury, by the contact of the atmospherick air and the solar rays. It is a remarkable phenomenon to see these men enjoy the most perfect health. The physicians, who practise in places where there are mines, unanimously assert, that the nervous affections, which might be attributed to the effect of an absorption of oxid of mercury, very rarely occur. At Guanaxuato part of the inhabitants drink the very water in which the amalgamation has been purified [aqua de lavaderos] without feeling any injury from it. This fact has often struck Europeans, not intimately acquainted with the principles of chymistry. The water is, at first, of a grayish-blue colour, and contains in suspension black oxid of mercury, and small globules of native mercury, and amalgamation of silver. This metallick mixture gradually precipitates, and the water becomes limpid. It can neither dissolve the oxid of mercury nor the muriate of mercury, which is one of the most insoluble salts which we know. The mules are very fond of this water, because it contains a little muriate of soda in dissolution.”
We shall now direct our attention to the character and condition of the Indians, generally, a race of men, in our opinion, much more injured than our author seems willing to allow. Nevertheless, whether they have cause to rejoice in the prospect of a political revolution, we cannot pretend to determine. Happy should we be did circumstances allow us to flatter ourselves that that portion of the human race which is appointed to inhabit these countries, would benefit, as we wish them, by such an occurrence. The following extracts contain matter of mingled gratification and sorrow; that Mexico should have taken so small a share in the slave trade, we rejoice; but, to see wras maintained by Christian missionaries, is much
more afflictive than the contemplation of those scenes of distress which Africa was formerly compelled to witness almost incessantly.
“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. In this point of view, especially, Mexico presents a singular contrast to the Havanna, Lima, and Caraccas. From exact information procured by those employed 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 coast [tierras calientes.] The slaves are four times more numerous in the capitania general of Caraccas, which does not contain the sixth part of the population of Mexico. The negroes of Jamaica are to those of New Spain in the proportion of 250 to one / In the West India islands, Peru and even Caraccas, 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 no wise occasioned by a more active slave trade. It is not above twenty years since Mexican sugar was known in Europe; Vera Cruz, at present exports more than 120,000 quintals; and yet the progress of sugar cultivation which has taken place in New Spain since the revolution of St. Domingo has not perceptibly increased the number of slaves. Of the 74,000 negroes annually furnished by Africa to the equinoxial regions of America and Asia, and which are worth, in the colonies, the sum of 111,000,000 francs,f not above 100 land on the coast of Mexico.
“By the laws there can be no Indian slaves in the Spanish colonies; and yet, by a singular abuse, two species of wars very different in appearance give rise to a state very much like that of the African
* According to the customhouse reports of the Havanna, of which I possess a copy, the introduction of negroes, from 1799 to 1803, was 34,500, of whom 7 per cent die
annually. † 4,625,379 sterling.
slave. The missionary monks of South America make, from time to time, incursions into the countries possessed by peaceable tribes of Indians, whom they call savages [Indios bravos) because they have not learned to make the sign of the cross like the equally naked Indians of the missions [Indios reducidos.] In these nocturnal incursions, dictated by the most culpable fanaticism, they lay hold of all whom they can surprise, especially children, women, and old men. They separate, without pity, children from their mothers, lest they should concert together as to the means of escape. The monk who is chief of this expedition, distributes the young people among the Indians of his mission who have the most contributed to the success of the Eutrudos. On the Orinoco, and on the banks of the Portuguese Rio Negro, these prisoners bear the name of Poitos; and they are treated like slaves till they are of an age to marry. The desire of having Poitos and making them work for eight or ten years, induces the Indians of the missions to excite the monks to these incursions, which the bishops have generally had the good sense to blame, as the means of attaching odium to religion and its ministers. In Mexico the prisoners taken in the petty warfare which is carried on almost without interruption, on the frontiers of the provincias internas experience a much more unhappy fate than the Poitos. They are generally of the nation of the Mecos or Apaches, and they are dragged to Mexico, where they languish in the dungeons of a correction house [La Kordada]. Their ferocity is increased by solitude and despair. Transported to Vera Cruz and the island of Cuba, they soon perish, like every savage Indian removed from the high, table land into the lower, and consequently hotter regions. These Mecos prisoners sometimes break from their dungeons, and commit the most atrocious cruelties in the surrounding countries. It is high time that the government interested itself in these unfortunate persons, whose number is small, and their situation so much the easier to be ameliorated.”
What is the condition of the Indians already under the Spanish government, we learn from our author in different parts of his work.
“The Indians, or copper-coloured race, are rarely to be found in the north of New Spain, and are hardly to be met with in the provincias internas. History gives us several causes for this phenomenon.
When the Spaniards made the conquest of Mexico, they found very few inhabitants in the countries situated beyond the par rallel of 20°. These provinces were the abode of the Chichimecks and Otomites, two pastoral nations, of whom thin hordes were scattered over a vast territory. Agriculture and civilisation, as we have already observed, were concentrated in the plains south of the river of Santiago, especially between the valley of Mexico and the province of Oaxaca. “From the 7th to the 13th century, population seems in general to have continually flowed towards the south. From the regions situated to the north of the Rio Gila issued forth those warlike nations who successively inundated the country of Anahuack. We are ignorant whether that was their primitive country, or whether they came originally from Asia or the northwest coast of America, and traversed the savannas of Nabajoa and Moqui, to arrive at the Rio Gila. The hieroglyphical tables of the Aztecks have transmitted to us the memory of the principal epochs of the great migrations. among the Americans. This migration bears some analogy to that which, in the fifth century, plunged Europe in a state of barbarism, of which we yet feel the fatal effects in many of our social institutions. However, the people who traversed Mexico, left behind them traces of cultivation and civilisation. The Toultecks appeared first, in the year 640, the Chichimecks in 1170, the Nahualtecks in 1178, the Acolhues and Aztecks in 1196. The Toultecks introducd the cultivation of maize and cotton; they built cities, made roads, and constructed those great pyramids which are yet admired, and of which the faces are very accurately laid out. They knew the use of hieroglyphical paintings; they could found metals, and cut the hardest stones; and they had a solar year more perfect than that of the Greeks and Romans. The form of their government indicated that they were the descendants of a people who had experienced great vicissitudes in their social state. But where is the source of that cultivation 2 where is the country from which the Toultecks and Mexicans issued 2 “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 colour, flat and smooth hair, small beard, squat body, long eye, with the corner directed upwards towards the temples, prominent
cheekbones, thick lips, and an expression
of gentleness in the mouth, strongly contrasted with a gloomy and severe look. The American race, after the hyperborean race, is the least numerous; but it occupies the greatest space on the globe. Over a million and a half of square leagues, from the Terra del Fuego islands to the river St. Laurence and Baring's Straits, we are struck, at the first glance, with the general resemblance in the features of the inhabitants. We think we perceive that they all descend from the same stock, notwithstanding the enormous diversity of language which separates them from one another.” “In the forests of Guiana, especially near the sources of the Oronoco, are several tribes of a whitish complexion, the Guaicas, Guajaribs, and Arigues, of whom several robust individuals, exhibiting no symptom of the asthenical malady which characterizes albinos, have the appearance of true Mestizoes. Yet these tribes have never mingled with Europeans, and are surrounded with other tribes of a dark brown hue.” “The Mexican Indians, when we consider them en masse, offer a picture of extreme misery. Banished into the most barren districts, and indolent from nature, and more still from their political situation, the natives live only from hand to mouth. We should seek almost in vain among them for individuals who enjoy any thing 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 the great city of la Puebla de los Angeles, we find several Indians, who, under an appearance of poverty, conceal considerable wealth. When I visited the small city of Cholula, an old Indian woman was buried there, who left to her children plantations of maguey [agave] worth more than 360,000 francs." These plantations are the vineyards and sole wealth of the country. However, there are no caciques at Cholula; and 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 neighbours of Tlascala, 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.— Among the most wealthy Indian families at Cholula, are the Axcotlan, the Sarmi
* A 15,000 sterling.
entos, and Romeros; at Guaxocingo, the Sochipiltecatl; and, especially, the Tecuanouegues in the village de los Reyes. Each of these families possess a capital of from 800,000 to 1,000,000 of livres.f They enjoy, as we have already stated, great consideration among the tributary Indians; but they generally go barefooted, and cowered with a Mexican tunick of coarse texture and a brown colour, approaching to black, in the same way as the very lowest of the Indians are usually dressed.”
Of negroes, this country contains very few: of creoles it contains many; and these, we conjecture, are destined to become the ruling powers, when the convulsive struggle is over. From these extracts our readers may form their opinion on the contents of this work. It would have been, at any time, an accession to our stock of information; but the present momentimparts to it an importance in which it is altogether unrivalled. The subject has never been so scientifically treated. But the present volumes do not contain the natural history, or other philosophical illustrations: they are to be sought elsewhere.
If we were criticising the labours of a translator who had been allowed full leisure to execute his task, and revise it with diligence, we should think it our duty to complain of many offences against propriety, which occur in these volumes: but it seems that haste has domineered over talent on this occasion. We know not whether to censure with severity the translator who undertakes more than he can perform, or to wish him a greater allowance of time on the next occasion: but of this we are certain, that maugre the commands of his master the bookseller, his labour would have been more honourable to his abilities had he carefully reinspected it, before it was committed to the press. The platcs annexed to this edition, equally bear marks of hurry: those who have scen the originals will bestow but moderate commendation on these translations. SEVERAL years having elapsed since the first volume of this translation was published, we almost despaired of its continuance; but we were glad to perceive that our fears were unfounded, and to have it in our power to announce its completion. The present volume, like the former, consists of a number of unconnected treatises on different branches of natural history, the chief interest of which depends on the microscopical observations for which the author is so justly celebrated. We shall mention the subjects of the different articles in the order in which they stand, enlarging on some of the most curious of them. The first essay is on the formation of different kinds of wood, elm, beech, willow, alder, &c. accompartied by plates of the appearances which they exhibit, when highly magnified; the principal object being to point out the relative size and situation of the perpendicular vessels, as affected by the annual growth of the tree. We have next some observations on the herring, particularly on its food; and afterward an essay on the ant. In his account of the latter, the author combats some epinions which have been generally adopted respecting it, and which still form a part of the popular belief. He was led to conclude “that the ant, as well as the weevil and other minute animals (in these cold regions) does, in the winter season, lie without motion, and does not ke any nourishment; and that the collections of food which ants are observed to make, and to heap together in their nests, during the summer season, is for no other purpose than to feed their young.” This opinion is rendered very pro
FROM THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
The Select Works of Antony Van Leeuwenhoek, containing his Microscopical Discoveries in many of the Works of Nature. Translated from the Dutch and Latin Editions published by the Author. By Samuel Hoole. Vol. 2d. 4to. 21.2s. Boards.
bable, by many of the facts which are adduced. Respecting the bodies vulgarly called ant’s eggs, it is remarked, that they are found nearly as large as the ant itself, and, therefore, must have grown after they left the body of the parent. This consideration led the author to examine more particularly into their nature, when he found them to be maggots, in which the rudiments of the future animal may be perceived; the proper eggs are much smaller, and may be detected in great numbers in the nests. It is for the supply of these maggots that the old ants carry food during the summer, the maggots being themselves incapable of motion. M. Leeuwenhoek conjectures that the food is first received into the stomach of the ant, and there undergoes some change, which renders it more proper for the support of the young animal. This, altogether, forms one of the most curious articles in the volume, and announces information, which has not, perhaps, been sufficiently noticed by subsequent naturalists. An amusing paper occurs respecting the flea. As soon as the young worm leaves the egg, it spins for itself a web, in which it lies for some time quite concealed; and it appears that there is an immediate necessity for this process, because a minute insect of the mite kind exists, which would prey on the worm, if it had not this protection. Perhaps no animal exhibits a greater display of curious mechanism; and the author seems to have examined and described it with the most minute accuracy. The succeeding observations are on the seeds of some different kinds of trees, on the generation of eels, and on the eye of the