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Valenciana, the first of the title, sometimes drew from his mine alone, in one year, a nett revenue of no less than six millions of livres *. This annual revenue, during the last twenty-five years' of his life, was never below from two to three millions of livrest; and yet this extraordinary man, who came without any fortune to America, and who continued to live with great simplicity, left only behind him at his death, besides his mine, which is the richest in the world, ten millions in property and capital f. This fact, which may be relied on, will not surprise those who are acquainted with the interior management of the great Mexican houses. Money rapidly gained is as rapidly spent. The working of mines becomes a game in which they embark with unbounded passion. The rich proprietors of mines lavish im. mense sums on quacks, who engage them in new undertakings in the most remote provinces. In a country where the works are conducted on such an extravagant scale, that the pit of a mine frequently requires two millions of francs to pierce, the bad success of a rash project may absorb in a few
years all that was gained in working the richest seams. We must add, that from the internal disorder which prevails in the greatest part of the
* 250,0201. sterling. Trans.
From 83,3401. to 125,0101. Trans.
great houses of both Old and New Spain, the head of a family is not unfrequently straitened with a revenue of half a million*, though he display no other luxury than that of numerous yokes of mules.
The mines have undoubtedly been the principal sources of the great fortunes of Mexico. Many miners have laid out their wealth in purchasing land, and have addicted themselves with great zeal to agriculture. But there is also a considerable number of very powerful families who have never had the working of any very lucrative mines. Such are the rich descendants of Cortez or the Marquis del Valle. The Duke of Monteleon, a Neapolitan lord, who is now the head of the house of Cortez, possesses superb estates in the province of Oaxaca, near Toluca, and at Cuernavaca. The nett produce of his rents is actually no more than 550,000 francst, the king having deprived the duke of the collection of the alcavalas and the du. ties on tobacco. The ordinary expenses of ma. nagement amount to more than 125,000 francst. However, several governors of the marquesado have become singularly wealthy. If the descend. ants of the great conquistador would only live in Mexico, their revenue would immediately rise to more than a million and a half 6.
* 20,8351. sterling. Trans.
+ 22,9181. sterling. Trans. $ 62,5031. sterling. Trans.
To complete the view of the immense wealth centered in the hands of a few individuals in New Spain, which may compete with any thing in Great Britain, or the European possessions in Hindostan, I shall add several exact statements both of the revenues of the Mexican clergy, and the pecuniary sacrifices annually made by the body of miners (cuerpo de mineria) for the improvement of mining. This last body, formed by a union of the proprietors of mines, and represented by depu ies who sit in the Tribunal de Mineria, advanced in three years, between 1784 and 1787, a sum of four millions of francs* to individuals who were in want of the necessary funds to carry on great works. It is believed in the country that this money has not been very usefully employed (para habilitar); but its distribution proves the generosity and opulence of those who are able to make such considerable largesses. A European reader will be still more astonished when I inform him of the extraordinary fact, that the respectable family of Fagoagas lent, a few years ago, without interest, a sum of more than three millions and a half of francst to a friend, whose fortune they were in the belief would be made by it in a solid manner; and this sum was irrevocably lost in an unsuccessful new mining undertaking. The architectural works which are carried on in the ca.
* 166,6801, sterling. Trans.
pital of Mexico for the embellishment of the city are so expensive, that notwithstanding the low rate of wages, the superb edifice constructed by order of the Tribunal de Mineria for the School of Mines will cost at least three millions of francs*, of which two millions were in readiness before the foundation was laid. To hasten the construction, and particularly to furnish the students immediately with a proper laboratory for metallic experi. ments on the amalgamation of great masses of minerals (beneficio de patio), the body of Mexican miners contributed monthly, in the year 1803 alone, the sum of 50,000 livrest. Such is the facility with which vast projects are executed in a country where wealth is divided among a small number of individuals.
This inequality of fortune is still more conspicuous among the clergy, of whom a number suffer extreme poverty, while others possess revenues which surpass those of many of the sovereign princes of Germany. The Mexican clergy, less numerous than is believed in Europe, is only composed of ten thousand individuals, the half of whom are regulars who wear the cowl. If we include lay brothers and sisters, or servants (legos, donados y criados de los conventos), all those who are not in orders, we may estimate the clergy
* 125,010l. sterling. Trans,
+ 20831. sterling.
at 13 or 14,000 individu ls*. Now the annual revenue of the eight Mexican bishops in the fol
* The number of monks of St. Francis in Spain amounts to 15,600, more than all the ecclesiastics of the kingdom of Mexico. The clergy in the peninsula exceed 228,000 individuals. For every thousand inhabitants there are 20 ecclea siastics, while in New Spain there are not above two to the thousand. The following is a specification of the clergy in several of the intendancies, according to the enumeration in 1793; In the intendancy of la secular ecclesiastics Puebla, 667 | or clerigos, and i
881 regulars. Valladolid 293
298 Guanaxuato 225
197 Oaxaca 306
342 In the city of Mexico 550
1646 Including in the enumeration the Donados, or lay brothers, the convents of the capital contain more than 2,500 individuals.Author.
The clergy of the peninsula, according to M. de La Borde, from whom M. de Humboldt elsewhere professes to take his information regarding Spain, amounts to 147,657 individuals; and according to M Townsend, who cites the returns made to the Spanish government, they amount to 119,625. M. de La Borde estimates the population of Spain at 11,000,000, and he states the proportion of the clergy to the population as
11,000,000 1:69; though
= 74,497, say 74}, and not 69.
147,057 But the estimate of 228,000 clergy, and a corresponding proportion of 20 in the thousand, or 1 in 50 to the population, is in every way much beyond the truth. M. de Humboldt having found from M. de la Borde that the proportion between the clergy and population in Madrid was 20 : 1,000,