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stuff feels rough, like certain Indian silks, which are equally the produce of very different silk-worms, from that of the mulberry.
In the provinces of Mechoacan, and in the mountains of Santa Rosa to the north of Guanaxuato, bags of an 'oval form, resembling the nests of the Orialus (Troupiales), and the Caciques, are seen suspended from different kinds of trees, and especially the branches of the Arbutus Madroño. These bags called capullos de madroño, are the work of a great number of caterpillars of the Bombyx de Fabricius kind, who live in society, and spin together. Each capullo is from 18 to 20 centimetres in length, by 21 in breadth. * They are of a brilliant whiteness, and formed in beds, which may be separated from one another, The interior beds are the most slender, and of an extraordinary transparency. The matter of which these large bags is formed resembles Chinese paper : the tissue is so dense that the threads which are pasted transversely over one another, are scarcely perceivable. I found a great number of these capullos de madroño, on descending the coffre de Perote towards las Vigas at an absolute height of 3200 metres. † It is
It is possible * From 7 to 7 inches, by 84 inches. Trans. † 10,498 feet English. Trans,
to write on the interior beds without making them undergo any sort of preparation. ; It is a true natural paper, of which the antient Mexicans knew the use, pasting together several beds, for the formation of a white and glossy pasteboard. We brought by the courier living caterpillars of the bombyx madroño from Santa Rosa to Mexico : they are of an olive colour, approaching to black and covered with hair, and their length is from 25 to 28 millimetres. * We did not see their metamorphosis, but we perceived that notwithstanding the beauty and extraordinary lustre of this madroño silk, it would be almost impossible to employ it to any advantage on account of the difficulty which would be experienced in winding it. As several caterpillars work together, their threads cross and entangle with one another. I have thought proper to enter into these details, because persons more zealous than well informed, have lately turned the attention of the French Government towards the indigenous silk of Mexico.
Wax is an object of the highest importance to a county where much magnificence prevails in the exterior worship. An enormous quantity is consumed in the festivals of the church, both in the capital, and in the chapels of the smallest
* From .98 of an inch, to 1.1 inch. Trans.
Indian villages. The hives are extremely productive in the peninsula of Yucatan, especially in the environs of the port of Campeachy, which, in 1803, exported 582 arrobas of wax, for Vera Cruz. They reckon from 6 to 7 hundred hives in one colmenar. This wax
of Yucatan is the produce of a bee peculiar to the New Continent, which is said to be destitute of a sting, no doubt because the sting is weak and not very sensible. From this circumstance in the Spanish colonies the name of little angels (angelitos), has been given to the bees described by M. M. Illiger, Jurine, and Latreille, under the name of Melipone and Trigone. I know not if the bee of Campeachy differs from the Melipona Fasciata, found by M. Bonpland on the eastern slope of the Cordille
It is certain that the wax of the American bees is more difficult to whiten, than the wax of the domestic bees of Europe. New Spain draws annually nearly 25,000 arrobas of wax from the Havannah, the value of which amounts to more than 2 millions of livres Tournois. t A very small part how
* See the insects collected in the course of our expedition, and described by M. Latreille in our Recueil d'observations de Zoologie et d'Anatomie Comparée, t. i..
† 83,3401. sterling. Trans.
ever of this wax of the island of Cuba, is the produce of the wild Trigones which ocсиру
the trunks of the Cedrela Odorata ; the greatest part is procured from the bee of the north of Europe (Apis Mellifica,) the cultivation of which has been very much on the increase since 1772. The island of Cuba exported in 1803, including the contraband, 42,670 arrobas of wax.
The price of an arroba then amounted to 20 or 21 piastres ; but the mean price in time of peace is only 15 piastres, or 75 livres Tournois. . In America, the neighbourhood of the sugar plantations is very prejudicial to the bees. These insects are so exceedingly greedy of honey that they drown themselves in the juice of the cane, which puts them into a state of inaction and intoxication when they drink it
The rearing of the cochineal, (Grana Nochiztli,) is of great antiquity in New Spain ; and it is probable that it goes beyond the incursions of the Toltec tribes. In the time of the dynasty of Aztec kings, the cochineal was more general than at present. There were nopaleries not only in Mixtecapan (la Misteca), and in the province of Huaxyacac (Oaxaca), but also in the intendancy of Puebla, in the
* £3 2 6 sterling. Trans.
environs of Cholula and Huejotzingo. The vexations to which the natives were exposed in the beginning of the conquest, and the low price at which the encomenderos forced the cultivators to sell the co. chineal, occasioned this branch of Indian industry to be every where neglected, except. ing in the intendancy of Oaxaca. It is scarcely 40 years since the peninsula of Yucatan still possessed considerable nopaleries. In a single night, all the nopals, on which the cochineal lives, were
cut down. The Indians pretend that the government took this violent resolution to raise the value of a commodity, of which they wished to secure the exclusive property to the inhabitants of Misteca. On the other hand, the whites maintain that the natives, irritated and discontented with the price fixed by the merchants on the cochineal, came to a general understanding, to destroy at once, both the insect and the nopals.
The quantity of cochineal which the intendancy of Oaxaca furnishes to Europe, may be estimated, communibus. annis, including the three sorts, grana, granilla, and polvos de grana, at 4000 zurrones, or 32,000 arrobas, which, calculating the arroba at 75 double piastres, amounts to 2,400,000 piastres, or