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tion from the Rio de Chimalapa: in their present state they produce a little indigo and cochineal of a superior quality. - - Before setting on foot in the islands of Cuba and Pinos, the felling of cedar and acajou wood (cedrela odorata and swietenia mahogany) the dock-yards of the Havannah drew their wood for ship-building from the thick forest which covers the northern slope of the Cerros de Petapa and Tarifa. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec was at that time very much frequented, and the ruins of several houses which are still to be seen on the two banks of the river Huasacualco are to be dated back to that period. The cedar and acajou wood was embarked at the Bodegas de Malpasso. To avoid the seven, rapids of the Rio de Passo, a new port (desembarcadero) was established in 1798, at the mouth of the Rio Saravia: the salt provisions (tasajo) of Tehuantepec, the indigo of Guatimala, and the cochineal of Oaxaca, were conveyed by this way to Vera Cruz and the Havannah. A road has been opened from Tehuantepee by Chihuitan, Llano Grande, Sánta. Maria, Petapa, and Guchicovi, to the new port of la Cruz. They reckon this road 34 leagues. The productions destined for the Havannah do not descend to the mouth of the Rio Huasacualco, or to the small fort of that name, because they
are afraid of exposing their canoes to the north winds, during the long passage from the bar of Huasacualco to the port of Vera Cruz. They disembark the goods at the Passo de la Fabrica; and from thence they are conveyed on the backs of mules, by the village of Acayucan to the banks of the river San Juan, where they are again embarked in large canoes and, transported by the bar of Tlacatalpan to the port of Vera Cruz. - - - For some years the roads from Tarifa and Petapan, have been encumbered by trunks of cedar trees, needlessly cut down by order of some commissaries of the royal marine. These trunks, the finest in the forest, are rotting, and no person thinks of transporting them to the Havannah. The inhabitants of the Spanish colonies are accustomed to measures like these without any result; and they attribute them to the facility with which all projects, are undertaken. and abandoned by the ministry. A short time before my residence on the banks of the Orinoco, commissados del rey ascended the river to the mouth of the Rio Carony, for the pupose of cutting down all the trees which might be useful, in ship-building. They measured their diameter and height, and marked so great a number of trunks of Cedrela, Laurus, and Caesalpinia, that all the dockyards of Europe could not have made use of
them in ten years; but no tree was ever cut down; and this long and laborious labour produced no other effect than an increase of expence to government. If it should be proved by new investigation, that the cutting of a canal in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec would not be advantageous, the government should at least encourage the inhabitants of that province to improve the road by the Portillo de Petapa, to the new port of la Cruz. Part of the productions of the kingdom of Guatimala, those of the intendancy of Oaxaca and Tehuantepec might come at all times by this way to Vera Cruz. In 1804 at my departure from New Spain the carriage of goods on the backs of mules from Tehuantepec to Vera Cruz by Oaxaca, amounted to 30 piastres per load”; and the muleteers took three months in going a road which is not 75 leagues in a straight line. In conveying the productions by the way of the Isthmus and the river of Huasacualco, the load would only cost 16 piastrest of carriage; and as they take only ten days from the Passo de la Fabrica to Vera Cruz, nearly 70 days are gained on the whole passage. The consulado of Vera Cruz, which has displayed the most praiseworthy zeal for the opening of this new road for internal commerce, abolished in 1803 the duty of 5 per cent. to which all goods embarked on the Rio Huasacualco were subject. This duty was known by the absurd denomination of hot-country duty (derecho de tierra caliente). I have thought it important to publish in the greatest detail every thing relative to the projected communications between the two seas. The topography of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is altogether unknown in Europe; and from authorities which I have quoted, we cannot doubt that this point of the globe deserves no less the attention of government than the Rio Chamaluzon, the Lake of Nicaragua, the Isthmus of Panama, the Bay of Cupica, and the ravin de la Raspadura at Choco. . . The foreign commerce of New Spain, from
* 6l. 6s. Ster. Trans. + 3l. 7s. 10d. Trans.
the position of the coasts, is naturally composed of the commerce of the South Sea, and that of the Atlantic Ocean. The ports on the eastern coast are Campeche, Huasacualco, Vera Cruz, Tampico, and Nuevo Santander; if we may give the name of ports to roads surrounded with shallows, or mouths of rivers shut by bars, and presenting a very slight shelter from the fury of the north winds. We have already in the third chapter," detailed the physical causes which give a particular character to the Mexican coast opposite to Europe. We have also spoken of the fruitless endeavours which have been
made since 1524, to discover a safer port than Vera Cruz. The vast shore which stretches from Nuevo Santander to the north and northwest, is still very little known, and we may repeat in our days, what Cortez wrote to the emperor Charles the 5th, three years after the taking of Tenochtitlan, “that there remains to be discovered the secret of the coast which extends from the Rio de Panuco to Florida.” " For centuries, almost all the maritime commerce of New Spain has been concentrated at Vera Cruz. When we bestow a glance on the chart of that port, we see that the pilots of Cortez's squadron were right in comparing the port of Vera Cruz to a pierced bag. The Island of Sacrifices, near which the vessels remain in quarantine, and the sandbanks of Arecise del Medio, Isla Verde, Anegada de dentro, Blanquilla, Galleguilla and Gallega, form, with the continent between the Punta Gorda, and the small cape Mocombo, a sort of creek, which is open to the north-west; and when the north winds (los nortes) blow with all their force, the vessels at anchor before the castle of San Juan d’Ulua, lose their anchors and are driven to the east. After getting out of the channel which separates the Island of Sacrifices from the Isla Verde, they are in 24 hours driven by the winds as far as the port of Campeche. Eighteen years
* Cartas de Cortez, p. 340 and 382.