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Plants supplying raw materials for manufactures and com
merce.-Rearing of cattle.--Fisheries.--Agricultural produce estimated from the value of the tithes.
Although the Mexican agriculture, like the agriculture' of every country which supplies the wants of its own population, is principally directed towards alimentary plants; New Spain, however, is not less rich in those commodities exclusively called Colonial ; that is to say, in the productions which supply raw materials for the commerce and manufacturing industry of Europe. That vast kingdom unites, in this point of view, the advantages of New England with those of the West India Islands. It is beginning in a particular manner to enter into competition with these islands, now that the civil war of St. Domingo, and the devastation of the French sugar colonies have rëndered the cultivation of colonial commodities more profitable on the continent of Ame
rica. It is even observable that in Mexico this species of cultivation has made a much more considerable progress than that of corn. In these climates, the same extent of ground, for example, an acre of 5368 square metres *, yields to the cultivator from 80 to 100 francs in wheat, 250 francs in cotton, and 450 francs in sugar.f The difference in the value of the produce being then so enormous, we ought by no means to wonder that the Mexican colonist gives to colonial commodities a preference over barley and wheat. But this predilection will never disturb the equilibrium which has hitherto existed between the different branches of agriculture, because, fortunately, a great part of New Spain, situated under a climate more cold than temperate, is unfit for the production of sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, and cotton.
The cultivation of the sugar-cane has made such rapid progress within these last years, that the exportation of sugar at the port of Vera Cruz actually amounts to more than
* 57,780 square feet. Trans.
† This estimate is looked upon as the most exact by the colonists of Louisiana near New Orleans. They calculate on 20 bushels of wheat, 250 pounds of cotton, and 1000 pounds of sugar per acre. This is the mean produce; but it may be easily conceived that these results must be modified by a number of local circumstances.
half a million of arrobas, or 6,250,000 kilogrammes ", which at three piastres the arroba, is equal to seven millions and a half of francs.t We have already observed that the ancient Mexicans were only acquainted with the sirop of honey, that of the metl (agave) and the sugar of maize cane. The sugar-cane, cultivated from the remotest antiquity in the East Indies, in Chinat, and in the South Sea Islands, was imported by the Spaniards, from the Canary Islands into the Island of St. Domingo, from whence it was successively introduced into the Island of Cuba and New Spain. Peter D’Atienza planted the first sugar-canes about the year 1520 g in the environs of the town of Conception de la Vega. Gonzalo de Velosa constructed the first cylinders; and in 1535, more than 30 sugar works were already established in the island of St. Domingo, of which many were served by a hundred Negro slaves,
* 13,793,750 lb. avoird. Trans. † 312,525l. sterling. Trans.
# I am even tempted to believe that the process used by us in the making of sugar, has been brought from Oriental Asia. I recognized at Lima, in Chinese paintings representing the arts and trades, cylinders placed horizontally, and put in motion by a mill, cauldrons and purifying apparatus such as are now to be seen in the West Indies.
§ Not in 1506, as is generally said.Oviedo, who came to America, in 1513, says expressly, that he saw the first sugar works established at St. Domingo. (Historia natural de Indias, lib. iv. 0. 8.)