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of our travels in the antient kingdom of Michoacan, which is part of the intendancy of Valladolid, heard any mention made of it. The abbe Clavigero* relates, that a physician of the late king of Tzintzontzan, communicated the knowledge of this remedy to the religious missionaries of the expedition of Cortez. Does there really exist a root, which under the name of Mechoacan, is exported from Vera Cruz, or does this remedy, which is the same as the jetịcucu of Marcgrave t, come from the coast of Brazil ? It appears even, that antiently, the true jalap was called Mechoacan, and that by one of those mistakes so frequent in the history of medicines, the denomination has been afterwards transferred to the root of another plant.
The cultivation of Mexican tobacco, might become a branch of agriculture of the very highest importance, if the trade in it were free; but since the introduction of the monopoly, or since the establishment of the royal farm, (el estanco real de Tabaco) by the Visitador Don Joseph de Galvez, in 1764, not only a special permission is necessary to plant tobacco, and the cultivator obliged to sell it to the farin, at a price arbitrarily fixed according to the worth
* Storia antica di Messico, t. ii. p. 212.
+ Linn. Mat. Medica, 1749, p. 28. Murray Apparatus medicantinum, t. i. p. 62.
of the produce; but the cultivation is even limited solely to the environs of the towns of Orizaba and Cordoba, and the partidos of Huatusco and Songolica, situated in the intendancy of Vera Cruz. Officers with the title of guardas de tabaco, travel the country for the purpose of pulling up whatever tobacco they find planted beyond those districts which we have named, and fining those farmers who think proper to cultivate what is necessary for their own consumption. It was believed the contraband trade would be diminished, by limiting the cultivation to an extent of four or five square leagues. Before the establishment of the farm, the intendancy of Guadalaxara, and especially the partidos of Autlan, Ezatlan, and Ahuzcatlan, Tepic, Santixpac, and Acaponeta, were celebrated for the abundance and excellent quality of the tobacco which they produced. These forinerly happy and flourishing countries, have been decreasing in population since the plantations were transferred to the eastern slope of the Cordillera.
The Spaniards first obtained their knowledge of tobacco in the West India Islands. The word, adopted by all the nations of Europe, belongs to the language of Hayti or St. Domingo: for the Mexicans called the plant yell, and the Peruvians sayri.* The Indians,
* Hernandez, lib. v. č. 51. p. 173. Clavigero, t. č. p. 227.
in Mexico and Peru, smoked tobacco, and
Garcilasso, lib.ii. c. 25. The ancient Mexicans used to recommend tobacco as an excellent remedy for the tooth-ache, colds, and colics. The Caraibs used mashed tobacco-leaves, as a counter-poison. In our journey on the Orinoco, we saw mashed tobacco successfully applied to the bite of venemous serpents.
After the famous Bejuco del Guaco, the knowledge of which we owe to M. Mutis, tobacco is undoubtedly, the most active counterpoison of America. The cultivation of tobacco has been propagated with so great rapidity, that in 1559, it began to be sown in Portugal, and in the beginning of the 17th century it was planted in the East Indies. Beckmann's Geschicte der Erfindungen, b. iii. p. 366.
sons in easy circumstances used tobacco alone; for we see at this day, that the use is entirely unknown to the Indians of pure extraction, because they almost all descend from the lowest class of the Aztec nation. *
At Vera Cruz, the quantity of tobacco produced in the districts of Orizaba and Cordova, is estimated at eight or ten thousand tereios, (at 8 arrobas) equal to 1,600,000, or 2,000,000 of pounds; but this estimate appears to be a great deal too low. The king pays for the pound of tobacco to the cultivator 27 reals, that is to say, 21 sous for the kilogramme. We shall see in the sequel of this work, and from data which I extracted from official papers, that the farm of Mexico of tobacco and snuff, is annually sold in the country even for more than 38 millions of
francs t, and that it yields to the king a . net profit of more than 20 millions of livres
tournois. I This consumption of tobacco in New Spain, must appear enormous, especially when we consider, that from a population of 5,800,000 souls, we must deduct two millions and a half of Indians who never smoke. In Mexico, the farm is an object of much greater importance to the public revenue than in
* See vol. i. ch. vi. p. 155.
833,4001. sterling. - Trans.
Peru, because in the former, the number of whites is greater; and the custom of smoking cegars is much more general, and is even practised by women and children. In France, where, according to the researches of Mr. Fabre de l’Aude, there are eight millions of inhabitants who use tobacco, the total consumption is more than forty millions of pounds; but the value of the foreign tobacco imported only amounted, in 1787, to 14,142,000 livres tournois. *
New Spain, far from exporting its own tobacco, draws annually nearly 56,000 pounds from the Havannah. The vexations which the planters experience, added to the preference given to the cultivation of coffee, have, however, 'much diminished the produce of the farm at Cuba. At this day, that island scarcely supplies 150,000 arrobas ; whereas before 1794, in good years, the crop was estimated at 315,000 arrobas, (7,875,000 pounds t) of which 160,000 arrobas were consumed in the island, and 128,000 sent to Spain.
This branch of colonial industry, is of the very greatest importance, even in its actual state of monopoly
'* Peuchet, p. 315 and 409.
+ Raynal, (t. iii. p. 268.) only estimated the produce at 4,675,000 pounds. Virginia produced annually, before 1775, more than 55,000 'hogsheads, or 35 millions of pounds of tobacco. Jefferson, p. 323.