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national prejudices of the north and south of Europe. These prejudices nourish the rivalry which we observe between the merchants of Mexico and Vera Cruz. Near to the seat of government, the former know how to avail themselves of their central position. A viceroy who arrives in New Spain, finds himself placed among the different parties of the lawyers, clergy, proprietors of mines, and the merchants of Vera Cruz and Mexico. Each party aims at rendering its adversaries suspected, by accusing them of a restless and innovating disposition, and a secret desire of independence and political liberty. Unhappily, the mother country has hitherto believed its security consisted in the internal dissensions of the colonies; and far from quieting individual animosities, it saw with satisfaction the origin of that rivalship between the natives and the Spaniards, between the whites who inhabit the coast, and those who are fixed on the table land of the interior. If the port of Vera Cruz, although it presents but a bad anchorage among sand-banks, annually receives four or five hundred vessels, the port of Acapulco ", which is one of the finest in the known world, on the other hand scarcely receives the number of ten. The commercial
* See vol. i. p. 85, and vol. ii. p. 186.
activity of Acapulco is confined to the Manilla galeon, known by the improper name of China ship (nao), to the coasting trade with Guatimala, Zacatula, and San Blas, and to four or five vessels annually dispatched to Guayaquil and Lima. The distance from the coast of China, the monopoly of the Philippine company, and the extreme difficulty of ascending against the current and winds towards the coast of Peru, impede the commerce of the western part of Mexico. The port of Acapulco forms an immense basin cut in granite rocks, open towards the southsouth-west, and possessing from east to west more than 6,000 metres in breadth. " I have seen few situations in either hemisphere of a more savage aspect, I would say at the same time more dismal and more romantic. The masses of rocks bear in their form a strong resemblance to the dentilated crest of Montserrat in Catalonia. They are composed of granite of a large grain, like that of Fichtelberg and Carlsbad in Germany. This granite is stratified, but the banks are irregularly inclined, sometimes to the south and sometimes to the south-east. This rocky coast is so steep that a vessel of the line may almost touch it without running the smallest danger, because there is every where from 10 to 12 fathoms water. * 19,685 feet. Trans.
The small island of Roqueta or Grifo is so placed that we may enter the port of Acapulco by two passes, of which the straitest, called Boca Chica forms a channel from west to east, containing, between the point of Pilar and that of Grifo, only 240 metres" in breadth. The second pass, or the Boca Grande, comprised between the island de la Roqueta and the Punta de la Bruxa, has an opening of a mile and a half. In the interior of the creek we every where meet with from twenty-four to thirty-three fathoms of water. They distinguish vulgarly the port sproperly so called, and the great creek called Bahia, where the sea is strongly felt from the south-west on account of the breadth of the Boca Grande. This port comprehends the most western part of la Bahia, between Playa Grande and L’Ensemada de Santa Lucia. Vessels find there, close by the land, an excellent anchorage, in from six to ten fathoms water. We anchored there with the frigate Orue, in the month of March 1808, thirty-three days after our departure from Guayaquil.
On examining the narrow isthmus which separates the port of Acapulco from the Bay de la Langosta de la Abra de San Nicolas, one would almost say that nature wished to form in this place a third pass similar to those of the Boca Grande and the Boca Chica. This isthmus, which is at most 400 metres * in breadth, is very interesting in a geological point of view. We climbed up naked rocks of a strange form; they were scarcely 60 metres of elevation f, and appeared to be torn by the prolonged action of earthquakes which are frequent on that coast. It is observed at Acapulco that the shakes take three different directions, sometimes coming from the west by the isthmus of which we are speaking, sometimes from the north-west, as if they were from the volcano de Colima, and sometimes coming from the south. The earthquakes which are felt in the direction of the south are attributed to submarine volcanoes; for they see here, what I often observed at night in the Callao of Lima, that the sea becomes suddenly agitated, in a most alarming manner, in calm and serene weather, when not a breath of wind is blowing. The Bay of Acapulco contains in its vast extent, but one shallow, which is not 40 metres in depth f, and which has the name of St. Anne, because it was found out in 1781, by the unexpected loss of the ship Santa Ana, belonging to the trade of Lima. Las Baaas, which are * 1312 feet. Trans.
* 787 feet. Trans,
stones that we skimmed at our entry through the Boca Grande, the Farallon del Obispo, and the small island of San Lorenzo near the Punta de Icacos are not in the least dangerous, because they are visible shelves. These masses of rock, which we approach without fear of touching, may be considered as fragments of the old coast. South-east from the Punta de la Bruxa is the small port of the Marqués. It forms a bay of a mile in breadth, and is at its entry from 18 to 20 fathoms, and in the interior, from eight to ten fathoms in depth. This bay is not frequented on account of its proximity to the port of Acapulco. It is a wild and solitary place, in which, however, we should soon see a populous city, if it were situated on the eastern coast of New Spain. The landing of the ports of Realesco, Sonzonate, Acapulco, and San Blas, is very dangerous in winter, that is to say, during the rainy season, which lasts on all the western coast of America", * With the exception of Guayaquil, where the rains last from the month of December till April and May. It pours down in torrents at Guayaquil, while a great drought prevails, not only at Panama, but also to the north of Cape St. Francis at Atacamez. I shall have occasion to treat in another place of these contrasts in the seasons between the Cordilleras and the coasts, and frequently the different points of the same coast. It is sufficient to state in this place that in general it is not true that under the tropics the rainy and
dry seasons succeed each other every where, agreeably to the laws observed in the West India islands.