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neighbours of Tlascala, of whom a great number pretend to be the descendants of the highest titled' nobility, and who increase their poverty by a litigious disposition and a restless and turbulent turn of mind. Among the most wealthy Indian families at Cholula are the Axcotlan, the Sarmientos and Romeros; at Guaxocingo, the Sochipiltecatl; and especially the Tecuanouegues in the village de los Reyes. Each of these families possesses a ca. pital of from 800,000 to 1,000,000 of livres ". They enjoy, as we have already stated, great consideration among the tributary Indians; but they generally go barefooted, and covered with a Mexican tunic of coarse texture and a brown colour, approaching to black, in the same way as the very lowest of the Indians are usually dressed. The Indians are exempted from every sort of indirect impost. They pay no alcavala ; and the law allows them full liberty for the sale of their productions. The supreme council of finances of Mexico, called the Junta superior de Real Hacienda, endeavoured from time to time, especially within these last five or six years, to subject the Indians to the alcavala. We must hope that the court of Madrid, which in all times has endeavoured to protect this unfortunate race, will preserve to them their immunity so long as they shall continue subject to the direct impost of the
* From 33,330l. to 41,670), sterling. Trans.
tributos. This impost is a real capitation tax, paid by the male Indians between the ages of ten and fifty. The tribute is not the same in all the provinces of New Spain; and it has been diminished within the last two hundred years. In 1601, the Indian paid yearly 32 reals of plata of tributo, and four reals of servicio real, in all nearly 23 francs". It was gradually reduced in some intendancies to 15 and even to fivef francs. In the bishopric of Mechoacan, and in the greatest part of Mexico, the capitation amounts at present to 11 francs S. Besides, the Indians pay a parochial duty (derechos parroquiales) of 10 francs for baptism, 20 francs for a certificate of marriage, and 20 francs for interment. We must also add to these 62 francs, which the church levies as an impost on every individual, from 25 to 30 francs for offerings which are called voluntary, and which go under the names of cargos de cofradías, responsos and misas para sacar animas ||.
* 19s. 2d. Trans. + 12s. 6d. and 4s.2d. Trans.
! Compendio de la historia de la Real Hacienda de Nueva España, a manuscript work presented by Don Joacquin Maniau, in 1793, to the secretary of state Don Diego de Gardoqui, of which there is a copy in the archives of the viceroyalty.
§ 9s. 2d. Trans. *
| The Spanish clergy seem to have been perfectly disposed to make the Indians pay pretty well beforehand in earthly treasure for the heavenly felicity (cterna dicha) they communicated to them. But what were these trifles when
If the legislation of Queen Isabella and the Emperor Charles V. appears to favour the Indians with regard to imposts, it has deprived them, on the other hand, of the most important rights enjoyed by the other citizens. In an age when it was formally discussed if the Indians were rational beings, it was conceived granting them a benefit to treat them like minors, to put them under the perpetual tutory of the whites, and to declare null every act signed by a native of the copper-coloured race, and every obligation which he contracted beyond the value of 15 francs. These laws are maintained in full vigour; and they place insurmountable barriers between the Indians and the other casts, with whom all intercourse is almost prohibited. Thousands of inhabitants can enter into no contract which is binding (no pueden tratar y contratar); and condemned to a perpetual minority, they become a charge to themselves and the state in which they live. I cannot better weighed in the balance with the immensity of the benefits imported by the catholic arms into these provinces : “El feliz tiempo,” exclaims the reverend Father Gumila, “para tantos millones de Indios, como yá, por la Bondad de Dios, se han salvado, y salvan (aunque infeliz para los que aun estan en su ciega ignorancia, ociegamente resisten a la luz evangelica) empezo desde que las armas catholicas tomaron possession de las principales provincias de aquellos dos vastos imperios, y prosiegue hasta ahora, creciendo siempre en todos angulos del
Nuevo mundo la luz de la Santa Fe, para eterna dicha de aquellos infelices hijos d'Adan (vol. i. p. 74.) Trans.
finish the political view of the Indians of New Spain than by laying before the reader an extract from a memoir presented by the bishop and chapter of Mechoacan * to the king, in 1799, which breathes the wisest views and the most liberal ideas. This respectable bishopf, whom I had the advantage of knowing personally, and who terminated his useful and laborious life at the advanced age of 80, represents to the monarch, that in the actual state of things the moral improvement of the Indian is impossible, if the obstacles are not removed which oppose the progress of national industry. He confirms the principles which he lays down by several passages from the works of Montesquieu and Bernardin de St. Pierre. These citations can hardly fail to surprise us from the pen of a prelate belonging to the regular clergy, who passed a part of his life in convents, and who filled an episcopal chair on the shores of the South Sea. “The population of New Spain,” says the bishop towards the end of his memoir, “is composed of three classes of men, whites or Spaniards, Indians, and castes. I suppose the Spaniards to compose the tenth part of the whole mass. In their hands almost all the property and all the wealth of the kingdom are centered. The Indians and the castes cultivate the soil; they are in the service of the better sort of people; and they live by the work of their hands. Hence there results between the Indians and the whites that opposition of interests, and that mutual hatred, which universally takes place between those who possess all and those who possess nothing, between masters and those who live in servitude. Thus we see, on the one hand, the effects of envy and discord, deception, theft, and the inclination to prejudice the interests of the rich; and on the other, arrogance, severity, and the desire of taking every moment advantage of the helplessness of the Indian. I am not ignorant that these evils every where spring from a great inequality of condition. But in America they are rendered still more terrific, because there exists no
* Informe del Obispo y Cabildo eclesiastico de Valladolid de Mechoacan al Rey sobre Jurisdiccion y Ymunidades del Clero Americano. This report, which I possess in manuscript, containing more than 10 sheets, was drawn up on the occasion of the famous Cedula real of the 25th October 1795, which permitted the secular judge to try the delittos enormes of the clergy. The Sala del crimen, persuaded of their right, treated the priests with severity, and cast them into the same prisons with the lowest classes of the people. In this struggle, the audiencia ranged themselves on the side of the clergy. Disputes of jurisdiction are very common in distant countries. They are pursued with so much the greater keenness, as the European policy from the first discovery of the new world has always considered the disunion of casts, of families, and constituted authorities, the surest means of preserving the colonies in a dependence on the mother country.
t Fray Antonio de San Miguel, monk of St. Jerome de Corvan, native of the Montañas de Santander.