« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
from astronomical observations, and geodaaesical or barometrical measurements made on the spot. I shall endeavour to give a succinct analysis of the materials which I had at command, reserving, however, the purely astronomical details for the collection of observations and measurements which I publish conjointly with M. Oltmanns. In following this course, the different parts of my work, the statistical account of Mexico, the historical relation of my journey in the tropics, and the astronomical volume, will all serve, I flatter myself, to prove that a desire of accuracy and the love of truth have been my guides during the course of my expedition. May my feeble labours contribute something to dispel the darkness which for so many ages has covered the geography of one of the finest regions of the earth!
I. REDUCED MAP OF THE KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN.
I DREw up this map at the Royal School of Mining (Real Seminario de Mineria) in the year 1803, a short time after my departure from the city of Mexico. M. d’Elhuyar, director of this school, had long been collecting facts regarding the position of the mines of New Spain, and the thirty-seven districts into which they are divided, under the denomination of Deputaciones de Minas. He was
GEOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION. iii
desirous of having a detailed map, on which the most interesting mines were marked, constructed for the use of the supreme college, called Tribunal de Mineria. A labour of this nature was in fact very necessary, both for the administration of the country, and for those who wish to know its national industry. In vain do we seek in the greater number of maps published in Europe for the name of the city of Guanaxuato, which contains 70,000 inhabitants; or for that of the celebrated mines of Bolaños, Sombrerete, Batopilas, and Zimapan. None of the maps which have hitherto appeared show the position of the Real de Catorce in the intendancy of San Luis Potosi, a mine from which there is annually drawn nearly 20 millions of francs" of silver; and which, from its proximity to the Rio del Norte, appears already to have tempted the cupidity of several colonists recently established in Louisiana. Having begun to calculate the greater number of my astronomical observations, that I might have some fixed points on which others could be established, and having at my disposal a considerable number of materials and manuscript maps, I conceived the idea of extending the plan which I had at first formed. Instead of merely inserting in my map the names of three hundred places known for considerable mining undertakings, I proposed to unite together all the materials which I could procure, and to discuss the differences of position which these heterogeneous materials every instant presented. We ought not to be surprised at the uncertainty which prevails in the geography of Mexico, when we consider the fetters which have arrested the progress of civilization, not only in the colonies, but also in the mother country; and especially when we consider the long peace enjoyed by these countries since the commencement of the sixteenth century. In Hindostan, the wars with Hyder Ally and Tippoo Sultan, the continual marches of armies, . and the necessity of seeking the shortest communication, have singularly contributed to augment geographical information. And yet an accurate acquaintance with Hindostan, a country visited by the most active nations of Europe, does not extend farther back than thirty or forty years. I ought to have foreseen, that, notwithstanding the most assiduous labour during three or four months, I could only give a very imperfect map of Mexico, compared with the maps of the most civilized countries of Europe. This idea, however, did not discourage me. When I considered the advantages afforded me by my individual situation, I had to flatter myself that my work, notwithstanding the important faults which might disfigure it, would still be preferable to what has yet been offered to the public on the geography of New Spain.
* 833,400l. sterling. Trans.
It will be said, without doubt, that it is yet too soon to draw up general maps of a vast kingdom for which exact data are wanting. Put, for the same reason we should, with the exception of he province of Quito and the United States, publish 'no map of the interior of continental America. For the same reason, also, we should not yet construct maps of mony parts of Europe, of Spain for example, or Poland, countries in which, on surfaces of more than 1600 square leagues, there is not to be found a single place whose position has been fixed by astronomical means. It is not yet fifteen years since, in the centre of Germany there were hardly twenty places the longitude of which was determined with certainty to within a sixth or an eighth part of a degree.
In the part of New Spain situated to the north of the parallel of 24°, in the provinces called Internas (in New Mexico, in the government of Cohahuila, and in the intendancy of New Biscay). the geographer is reduced to form combinations from the journals of routes. The sea being at a great distance from the most inhabited part of these countries, he has no means to connect together places situated in the interior of a vast continent, with points on the coast a little better known. Hence, beyond the city of Durango, we wander as it were in a desert, notwithstanding the show of manuscript maps. There are not more resources to be found than Major Rennel possessed for draw
ing up maps of the interior of Africa. It is otherwise in the part of Mexico contained between the ports of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, and between the capital of Mexico and the Real" of Guanaxuato. In this region, traversed by me from the month of March, 1803, to the month of February, 1804, a region the most cultivated and best inhabited of the kingdom, there are to be found a sufficient number of points of which the position is astronomically determined. It is to be wished that a traveller, versed in the practice of observations, and provided with a sextant, or a small repeating circle of reflection, a chronometer, an achromatic telescope and a portable barometer for measuring the height of mountains, should travel in three directions over the north of the kingdom of New Spain. He should direct his course, 1st. from the city of Guanaxuato to the presidio of Santa Fe, or to the village of Taos in New Mexico; 2d. from the mouth of the Rio del Norte, which pours its waters into the gulph of Mexico, to the sea of Cortez, particularly to the junction of the Rio Colorado and the Rio Gila; and, 3d. from the city of Mazatlan, in the province of Cinaloa, to the city of Alta Mira, on the left bank of the Rio de Panuco. The first of these three journies would be the
most important, the easiest to execute, and that in
* The word Roal indicates a place where mines are worked.