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and of the northern lakes; and yet no idea has ever been entertained for ages of supplying the wants of agriculture and interior navigation. From a remote period there was a small canal (sanja) from the lake of Tezcuco to the lake of San Christobal. A lock of four metres * of fall would have admitted canoes from the capital to the latter of these lakes; and the canals of M. Mier would have even conducted them to the village of Huehuetoca. In this manner a communication would have' been established from the south bank of the lake of Chalco to the northern bounds of the valley, for an extent of more than 80,000 metres f. Men of the best information, animated with the noblest patriotic zeal, have had the courage to propose these measuresI; but the government, by rejecting the best conceived projects for such a length of time, seems to be resolved to consider the water of the Mexican lakes merely as a destructive element, from which the environs of the capital must be freed, and to which no other course ought to be permitted than that towards the Atlantic Ocean..
Now that the canal of Tezcuco, by order of the viceroy Don Josef de Iturrigaray, is to be opened, there will remain no obstacle to a free navi.
* 13 feet. Trans.
+ 262,468 feet. Trans. I M. Velasquez, for example, at the end of his Informe sobre el Desague (MS.).
gation through the large and beautiful valley of Tenochtitlan. Corn and the other productions of the districts of Tula and Guautitlan will come by water to the capital. The carriage of a mule load, estimated at 300 pounds weight, costs from Huehuetoca to Mexico five reals* or four francst. It is computed that when the naviga. tion will be set on foot, the freight of an Indian canoe of 15,000 pounds burden will not be more than four or five piastres I, so that the carriage of 300 pounds (which make a carga) will only cost nine sous g. Mexico, for example, will get lime at six or seven piastres || the cart load (car. retada), while the present price is from 10 to 12 piastres 1.
But the most beneficial effect of a navigable canal from Chalco to Huehuetoca will be expe. rienced in the commerce of the interior of New Spain, known by the name of Comercio de tierra adentro, which goes in a straight line from the capital to Durango, Chihuahua, and Santa Fe, in New Mexico. Huehuetoca may here.
* A double piastre contains 8 reals de Plata, and in works on the Spanish colonies and America, Pesos fuertes, and Reales de Plata, are always understood.
+ 4 francs =3s. 4d., but according to the data of our author 5 reals amount only to 28. 8 d. Trans.
$ 175. 6d. or 1l. 1s. 10d. sterling. Trans. $ 41d. Trans. . || 1l. os. 3d. or 1l. 10s. 7d. Trans. . From 21. 38. gd. to 21. 128. 6d. Trans.
after become the emporium of this important trade, in which fron fifty to sixty thousand beasts of burden (recuas) are constantly employed. The muleteers (arrieros) of New Biscay and Santa Fe fear nothing so much in the whole road of 500 leagues as the journey from Huebretoca to Mexico. The roads in the northwest part of the valley, where the basaltic amygdaloid is covered with a large stratum of clay, are almost impassable in the rainy season. Many mules perish in them. Those which stand out cannot recover from their fatigues in the environs of the capital, where there is no good pasturage and no large commons (eridos), which Huehuetoca would easily supply. It is only by remaining some length of time in countries where all commerce is carried on by caravans, either of camels or mules, that we can correctly appreciate the influence of the objects under discussion on the prosperity and comfort
of the inhabitants. i The lakes situated in the southern part of the · valley of Tenochtitlan throw off from their sur
face miasmata of sulphuretted hydrogen, which become sensible in the streets of Mexico every time the south wind blows. This wind is therefore considered in the country as extremely unhealthy. The Aztecs in their hieroglyphical writings represented it by a death's head. The lake of Xochimilco is partly filled with plants of the family of the junci and cyperoides, which vegetate at a smalhdepth under a bed of stagnating water. It has been recently proposed* to the government to cut a navigable canal in a straight line from the small town of Chalco to Mexico, a canal which would be shorter by a third than the present one; and it has at the same time been projected to drain the basins of the lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco, and sell the ground, -which from having been for centuries washed with fresh water is uncommonly fertile. - The centre of the lake of Chalco being somewhat deeper than the lake of Tezcuco, its water will never be completely drawn off. Agriculture and the salubrity of the air will be equally improved by the execution of M. Castera's project; for the south extremity of the valley possesses in general the soil best adapted for cultivation. The carbonate and muriate of soda are less abundant from the continual filtrations occasion. ed by the numerous rills which descend from the Cerro d'Axusco, the Guarda, and the vol. ·canos. It must not, however, be forgotten that the draining of the two lakes will have a tendency to increase still farther the dryness of the atmosphere in a valley where the hygrometer of Deluct frequently descends to fifteen. This
* Informe de Don Ignacio Castera (MS.), folio 14.
+ The temperature of the air being 230 centigrades, the 15. of Deluc's hygrometer are equivalent to 42° of the hy
evil is inevitable, if no attempt is made to connect these hydraulical operations with some general system; the multiplying at the same time canals of irrigation, forming reservoirs of water for times of drought, and constructing sluices for the sake of counteracting the different pressures of the inequality of levels, and for receiving and withholding the increases of the rivers. These reservoirs of water distributed at suitable elevations might be employed at the same time in cleaning and working periodically the streets of the capital,
In the epocha of a nascent civilization, gigantic projects are much more seductive than more simple ideas of easier execution. Thus, in place of establishing a system of small canals for the interior navigation of the valley, the minds of the inhabitants have been bewildered since the time of the viceroy Count Revillagigedo with vague speculations on the possibility of a communication by water between the capital and the port of Tampico. Seeing the water of the lakes descend by the mountains of Nochistongo into the Rio de Tula (called also Rio de Moctezuma,) and by the Rio de Panuco into the gulf of Mexico, they entertain the hope of
grometer of Saussure. The cause of this extreme dryness is discussed by me in the Tableau physique des regions equinociales, annexed to my Essai sur la geographie des plantes, page 98.