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neglected. With difficulty we can find a few of these trees in the environs of Colima, and on the banks of the Guasacualco. The cocoa plantations in the Province of Tabasco are very inconsiderable ; and Mexico draws all the cocoa necessary for its consumption from the Kingdom of Guatimala, Maracaybo, Caracas, and Guayaquil. This consumption appears to amount annually to 30,000 fanegas, of the weight of 50 kilogrammes each.* The Abbe Hervas maintains that the whole of Spain consumes 90,000 fanegas. t The result of this estimate, which appears to me too low, is, that Spain only consumes the third part of the coffee annually imported into Europe. But according to the enquiries made by me on the spot, from 1799 to 1803, I found the annual exportation of coffee to be,
Fanegas. In the Provinces of Venezuela and Maracaybo 145,000 In the Province of New Andalusia (Cumana)
18,000 In the Province of New Barcelona
5,000 In the Kingdom of Quito, from the Port of
of} 60,000 Guayaquil
The value of these eleven millions and a half of kilogrammes of cocoa, amounts in Europe in time of peace, estimating the fanega at only 40 piastres, to the sum of 45,600,000
* 110 lb. avoird, Trans.
livres tournois. * In the Spanish Colonies, cho. colate is not considered an object of luxury, but of prime necessity. It is, in fact, a very healthy and nutritive aliment, and is of particular assistance to travellers.
The chocolate prepared at Mexico is of a superior quality, because the commerce of Vera Cruz and Acapulco, brings into New Spain the famous cocoa of Soconusco, (Xoconochco) from the coast of Guatimala; the cocoa of Gualan from the gulph of Honduras near Omoa ; of Uritucu near St. Sebastian, in the province of Caracas”; of Capiriqual in the province of New Barcelona; and of Esmeralda in the kingdom of Quito.
In the time of the Aztec kings, cocoa seeds were made use of as money in the great mar. ket of Tlatelolco, as shells were in the Maldivian Islands. The cocoa of Soconusco, cultivated at the eastern extremity of the Mexican Empire, was used for chocolate, and the small seed called Tlalcacahuatl. The kinds of infe. rior quality were used for money. “Knowing," says Cortez in his first letter to the Emperor Charles the V., “that in the province of
Malinaltebeque, there was gold in abundance, “I engaged the Lord Montezuma to esta“blish there a farm for your Majesty. He “ went to work with so much zeal, that in
* 1,900,1521. sterling. Trans.
“ less than two months, sixty fanegas of maize « and ten of beans were already sown. Two “ thousand cacap trees (cocoa) were also plant
ed, yielding a fruit similar to the almond, “ which is sold after being ground. This “ fruit is in such estimation, that throughout « all the country it is used as money, and
employed in purchases in the markets and every
where else *." The cocoa is still made use of as a sort of inferior coin in Mexico; and as the smallest coin of the Spanish Colonies is a demi-real (un medio) equal to twelve sous, the common people find the employment of cocoa as a circulating medium, extremely convenient. A sou is represented by six grains.
The use of vanilla passed from the Aztecs to the Spaniards. The Mexican chocolate, as we have already observed, was perfumed with several aromatics, among which the pod of the vanilla occupied the first place. At this day the Spaniards deal in this precious production, for the purpose of selling it to the other European nations. The Spanish cho cholate contains no vanilla ; and there is even à prejudice at Mexico, that this perfume is hurtful to the health, especially to those whose nervous system is very irritable.
They say quite gravely that the vanilla occasions ner
* Lorenzana, p. 91. $26. Clavigero, i. p. 4; ü. p. 209; iv. p. 207.
vous disorders (la baynilla da pasmo). A few years ago the same thing was said of the use of coffee, which begins however to spread among the natives.
When we consider the excessive price at which the vanilla has constantly been sold in Europe, we are astonished at the negligence of the inhabitants of Spanish America, who neglect the cultivation of a plant, which nature spontaneously produces between the tropics, almost wherever there is heat, shade, and much humidity. All the vanilla consumed in Europe comes from Mexico, by the way of Vera Cruz alone. It is produced on an extent of ground of a few square leagues. There is not a doubt, however, that the coast of Caracas, and even the Havannah, might carry on a very considerable trade. We found in the course of our herborizations very aromatic pods of vanilla, exceedingly aromatic, and of an extraordinary size, in the mountains of Caripe, on the coast of Paria; in the fine valley of Bordones near Cumana; in the environs of Portocabello and Guaiguaza; in the forests of Turbaco near Carthagena; in the province of Jaen, on the banks of the river Amazons; and in Guayana at the foot of the granite rocks, which form the great cataracts of the Orinoco. The inhabitants of Xalapa, who carry on the commerce of the fine Mexican vanilla of
Misantla, were struck with the excellence of that brought by M. Boupland from the Orinoco, gathered by us in the woods which surround the Raudal de Maypure. Vanilla plants are to be found in the Island of Cuba, (Epidendrum Vanilla) on the coast of Bahia, Honda, and at Mariel. That of St. Domingo has a very long fruit, but is not very odoriferous; for frequently great humidity, while it is favourable to the vegetation, is unfavourable to the developement of the aromatic. However, botanical travellers must not judge of the quality of the vanilla, from the odour which it gives out in the forests of America, for this odour is in a great measure owing to the flower, which in the deep and humid vallies of the Andes, is sometimes four or five centimetres in length.*
The author of the Philosophical History of the East and West Indies t, complains of being unable to procure satisfactory information respecting the cultivation of the vanilla in Mexico. He did not even know the districts where it was produced. Having been on the spots, I was able to obtain more accurate and detailed
* From an inch and a half, to 2 inches. Trans.
+ Raynal, t. ii. p. 68. $ 16. Thiery de Menonville, de la Culture du Nopal, p. 142. A small quantity of vanilla is also cultivated in Jamaica, in the parishes of St. Anne and St. Mary. Brown, p. 326.