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most abundant metals of the celebrated vein called the veta grande, are prismatic black silver (sprödglaserz), sulphuret of silver, or vitreous silver, mixed with native and black silver.
The intendancy of Zacatecas contains the mines of Fresnillo and those of Sombrerete. The former are very feebly wrought, and are situated in an insulated group of mountains which rise above the plains of the central table-land. These plains are covered with porphyritic formations; but the metalliferous group itself is composed of grauwacke. According to the observation of M. Sonneschmidt, the rock is traversed there by an innumerable quantity of veins, rich in gray and green hornsilver.'.
The mines of Sombrerete have become celebrated from the immense riches of the vein of the veta negra, which in the space of a few months left to the family of Fagoaga (Marques del Apartado) a net profit of more than 834,0001. The greater part of these veins are found in a compact limestone, which, like that of Sauceda, contains flint-slate and lydian stone. The deep red silver is particularly abundant in this district of mines. It has been seen to form the whole mass of veins more than three feet in width. Near Sombrerete the mountains of secondary calcareous formation rise much above the porphyritic mountains. The Cerro di Papareton appears to be inore than 11,000 feet above the level of the sea.
CHAPTER XIII. .
Intendancy of San Luis Potosi-extent-climate-territorial division-towns-mines—wealth of the mine of Catorce.
This intendancy comprehends the whole of the north-east part of the kingdom of New Spain. As it borders either on desert countries, or countries inhabited by wandering and independent Indians, we may say that its northern limits are hardly determined.
Of the whole intendancy of San Luis Potosi, only that part which adjoins the province of Zacatecas, in which are the rich mines of Charcas, Guadalcazar, and Catorce, is a cold and mountainous country. The bishopric of Monterey, which bears the pompous title of New Kingdom of Leon, Cohahuila, Santander, and Texas, are very low regions; and there is very little undulation of surface in them. They possess an unequal climate, extremely hot in summer, and equally cold in winter when the north winds drive before them columns of cold air from Canada towards the torrid zone.
The intendancy of San Luis Potosi comprehends parts of a very heterogeneous nature, the different denominations of which have given great room for geographical errors. It is composed of provinces, of which some belong to the Provincias internas, and others to the kingdom of New Spain Proper. Of the former there are two immediately depending on the commandant of the Provincias internas; the two others are considered as Provincias internas del Vireynato. These complicated and unnatural divisions are explained in the following table:
The intendant of San Luis Potosi governs, A. In Mexico Proper:
The Province of San Luis, which extends from the Rio de Panuco to the Rio de Santander, and which comprehends the important mines of Charcas, Potosi, Ramos, and Catorce. B. In the Provincias internas del Vireynato : : 1. The New Kingdom of Leon. . 2. The colony of New Santander. C. In the Provincias internas de la Commandancia "'. general Oriental : . ). The province of Cohahuila. 2. The province of Texas.
It follows, from what we have already said on the latest changes which have taken place in the organization of the Commandancia general of Chihuahua, that the intendancy of San Luis now includes, besides the province of Potosi, all which goes under the denomination of Provincias internas Orientales. A single intendant is consequently at the head of an administration which includes a greater surface than all European Spain. But this immense country, gifted by nature with the most precious productions, and situated under a serene sky in the temperate zone, towards the borders of the tropic, is, for the greatest part, a wild desert, still more thinly peopled than the governments of Asiatic Russia. Its position on the eastern limits of New Spain, the proximity of the United States, the frequency of communication with the colonists of Louisiana, and a great number of circumstances which I shall not endeavour here to develope, will probably soon favour the progress of civilization and prosperity in these vast and fertile regions.
The intendancy of San Luis comprehends more than 690 miles of coast, an extent equal to that from Genoa to Reggio in Calabria. But all this coast is without commerce and without activity, with the exception of a few small vessels, which come from the West Indies to lay in provisions either at the Bar of Tampico, near Panuco, or at the anchorage of New Santander.
The most remarkable places of the intendancy of San Luis are:
San Luis Potosi, the residence of the intendant, situated on the eastern declivity of the tableland of Anahuac, to the west of the sources of the Rio de Panuca. The habitual population of this town is 12,000.
Nuevo Santander, capital of the province of the saine name, does not admit the entry of vessels drawing inore than from eight to ten palmas * of water. The village of Sotto la Marina, to the east of Santander, might become of great consequence to the trade of this coast, if the port could be improved. At present the province of Santander is so desert, that fertile districts of 90 or 100 square miles were sold there in 1802 for eight or ten shillings.
Charcas, or Santa Maria de las Charcas, a very considerable small town, the seat of a diputacion de Minas.
Catorce, or la Purissima Concepción de Alamos de Catorce, one of the richest mines of New Spain. The Real de Catorce, however, has only been in existence since 1773, when Don Sebastian Coronado and Don Bernabe Antonio de Zepeda discovered these celebrated veins, which yield annually the value of more than from 700,0001. to 800,0001. sterling.