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cil We must own that three centuries later, notwithstanding the civilization of a more enlightened age, the rich proprietors in America have less timorous consciences even on death-bed. In our days, it is not the devotees but the philosophers who call in question the justice of slavery ! But the small influence which the empire of philosophy has always had induces us to believe that it would have been better for suffering humanity had this sort of scepticism still been preserved among believers". However, the slaves, who fortunately are in very small numbers in Mexico, are there, as in all the other Spanish possessions, somewhat more under the protection of the laws than the negros of the other European colonies. These laws are always interpreted in favour of liberty. The government wishes to see the number of freemen increased. A slave, who by his industry has procured a little money, may compel his master to give him his liberty on paying the moderate sum of 1500 or 2000 livrest. Liberty cannot be refused to a negro on the pretext that he cost the triple of the sum, or that he possesses a particular talent for some lucrative employment. A slave who has been cruelly used acquires on that account his freedom by the law, if the judge do justice to the cause of the oppressed; but it may be easily conceived that this beneficent law must be frequently eluded. I saw, however, even in Mexico, in the month of July, 1803, an example of two negros to whom the magistrate, who exercised the functions of alcalde de corte, gave their liberty, because their mistress, a lady from the islands, had wounded them all over the body with scissars, pins, and knives. In the course of this shocking process, the lady was accused of having, with a key, knocked out the teeth of the slaves when they complained of a fluxion in the gums, which prevented them from working. The Roman matrons were not more ingenious in their punishments. Barbarity is the same in all ages, when men can indulge their passions without restraint, and when governments tolerate an order of things contrary to the laws of nature, and, consequently, to the welfare of society. We have enumerated the different races of men who, at present, constitute the population of New Spain. On glancing our eyes over the physical views or sections which we have drawn up of this country, we see that the greater part of a nation of six millions of inhabitants may be considered as highlanders. On the table-land of Anahuac, whose elevation surpasses at least twice that of the clouds which in summer are suspended over our heads, are assembled together copper-coloured men from the north-west part of North America, Europeans, and a few negros from the coasts of Bonny, Calabar, and Melimbo. When we consider that what we now call Spaniards is a mixture of Alani and other Tartar hordes with the Visi. goths and ancient inhabitants of Iberia; when we also consider the striking analogy between the most part of the European languages, the Sanscrit, and the Persic; and, in short, when we reflect on the Asiatic origin of the pastoral tribes who have been pouring into Mexico since the seventh century, we are almost tempted to believe, that from one and the same centre, though by roads diametrically opposite, have issued part of those nations, who, wandering about for a long time, and after making, as it were, the tour of the globe, meet once more on the ridge of the Mexican Cordilleras. To complete the table of the elements of which the Mexican population is composed, it remains for us to point out rapidly the differences of cast which spring from the mixture of the pure races with one another. These casts constitute a mass almost as considerable as the Mexican Indians. We may estimate the total of the individuals of . mixed blood at nearly 2,400,000. From a refinement of vanity, the inhabitants of the colonies
* Had M. de Humboldt been acquainted with the history of the endeavours in this country to abolish the slave trade, he would have found that these endeavours were principally made by men whom he would call devotees, who acted under the influence of religious motives. The sect of quakers in particular, and this ought to cover a multitude of their absurdities, were always staunch enemies to slavery. Trans.
+ 02l, or 83l, sterling. Trans.
have enriched their language with terms for the finest shades of the colours which result from the degeneration of the primitive colour. It may be so much the more useful to explain these denominations*, as they have been confounded by many travellers, and as this confusion frequently causes no small embarrassment to those who read Spanish works on the American possessions. The son of a white (Creole or European), and a native of copper-colour, is called Mestizo. His colour is almost a pure white; and his skin is of a particular transparency. The small beard and small hands and feet, and a certain obliquity of the eyes, are more frequent indications of the mixture of Indian blood than the nature of the hair. If a Mestiza marry a white man, the second generation differs hardly in any thing from the European race. As very few negros have been introduced into New Spain, the Mestizos probably compose 4 of the whole casts. They are generally accounted of a much more mild character than the mulattoes, descended from whites and negresses, who are distinguished for the violence of their passions and a singular volubility of tongue. The descendants of negros and Indian women bear at Mexico, Lima, and even at the Havanah, the strange name of Chino, Chinese.
* Sobre el Clima de Lima, por el Doctor Unanue, p. xlviii. a work printed in Peru, in 1806.
On the coast of Caraccas, and, as appears from the laws, even in New Spain, they are called cambos. This last denomination is now principally limited to the descendants of a negro and a female mulatto, or a negro and a Chinese female. From these common zambos, they distinguish the sanbos prietos, who descend from a negro and a female zamba. From the mixture of a wilite man with a mulatto comes the cast of quarterons. When a female quarteron marries a European or creole, her son bears the name of quinteron. A new alliance with a white banishes to such a degree the remains of colour, that the children of a white and female quinteron are white also. The casts of Indian or African blood preserve the odour pe. culiar to the cutaneous transpiration of those two primitive races. The Peruvian Indians, who in the middle of the night distinguish the different races by their quick sense of smell, have formed three words to express the odour of the European, the Indian American, and the negro: they call the first pecuña, the second posco", and the third grajo. Moreover, the mixtures, in which the colour of the children becomes deeper than that of their mother, are called salta-atras, or back-leaps.
In a country governed by whites, the families reputed to have the le st mixture of negro or mulatto blood are also naturally the most honoured.
* Old word of the Qquichua language.