Page images

ANALYSIS. } VIII. Intendancy of Merida.

of calcarious rock between the clefts of which it had flowed, rises above the level of the salt water.

The Indians of this intendancy speak the Maya language, which is extremely guttural, and of which there are four tolerably complete diction. aries by Pedro Beltan, Andres de Avendano, Fray Antonio de Ciudad-Real, and Luis de Vil. lalpando. The peninsula of Yucatan was never subject to the Mexican or Aztec kings. However, the first conquerors Bernal Diaz, Hernandez de Cordova, and the valorous Juan de Grixalva, were struck with the advanced civilization of the inhabitants of this peninsula. They found houses built of stone cemented with lime, pyramidal edifices (teocallis) which they compared to Moorish mosques, fields enclosed with hedges, and the people clothed, civilized, and very different from the natives of the island of Cuba*. Many ruins, particularly of sepulchral monuments (guacas ), are still to be discovered to the east of the small central chain of mountains. Several Indian tribes have preserved their independence

* Bernal Diaz adjudged the palm of superior civilization to the natives of Yucatan, because he found“ sus verguenças cubiertas.Tuvimos los, says he, por hombres mas de razon que a los Indios de Cuba. Why? porque andavan los de Cuba con sus verguenças de fuera! Hist. Verd. folio 2. col.-3. Trans.


ANALYSIS. } VIII. Intendancy of Merida.

in the southern part of this hilly district, which is almost inaccessible from thick forests and the luxuriance of the vegetation.

The province of Merida, like all the countries of the torrid zone, of which the surface does not rise more than 1300 metres* above the level of the sea, yields only for the sustenance of the inhabitants maize, jatropha, and dioscorea roots, but no European grain. The trees which furnish the famous Campeche wood (hæmatosylon campechi. anum L.) grow in abundance in several districts of this intendancy. The cutting (cortes de palo Campeche) takes place annually on the banks of the Rio Champoton, the mouth of which is south from the town of Campeche, within four leagues of the small village of Lerma. It is only with an extraordinary permission from the intendant of Merida, who bears the title of governor captaingeneral, that the merchant can from time to time cut down Campeche wood to the east of the mountains nearthe bays of Ascension, Todos los Santos, and El Espirito Santo, In these creeks of the eastern coast the English carry on an extensive and lucrative contraband trade. The Campeche wood, after being cut down, must dry for a year before it can be sent to Vera Cruz, the Havannah, or Cadiz. The quintal of this dried wood (palo

* 4261 feet. Trans.

STATISTICAL? VIII. Intendancy of Merida.

· ANALYSIS. } de tinta) is sold at Campeche for two piastres, to two piastres and a half * (from 10 f. 50 c. to 12 f. 88 c.). The hæmotoxylon, so abundant in Yucatan and the Honduras coast, is also to be found scattered throughout all the forests of equinoxial America, wherever the mean temperature of the air is not below 22° f of the centigrade thermometer. The coast of Paria, in the province of New Andalusia, may one day carry on a considerable trade in Campeche and Brazil (cæsalpinia) wood, which it produces in great abundance.

The most remarkable places of the intendancy of Merida are :

Population. Merida de Yucatan, the capital, ten leagues in the interior of the country, in an arid plain. The small port of Merida is called Sizal, to the west of Chaboana, opposite a sand bank, nearly twelve leagues in length. - 10,000

Campeche, on the Rio de San Francisco, with a port which is not very secure. Vessels are obliged to anchor a good way from the shore. In the Maya language, cam signifies serpent, and pechethelittle

[ocr errors]

STATISTICAL) VII. Intendancy of Merida.
ANALYSIS. } vu. Intendancy of Merida.

insect (acarus), called by the Spaniards
garapata, which penetrates the skin,
and occasions a smart pain. Between
Campeche and Merida are two very
considerable Indian villages called
Xampolan and Equetchecan. The ex-
portation of wax of Yucatan is one of
the most lucrative branches of trade.
The habitual population of the town is 6,000

Valladolid, a small town, of which the environs produce abundance of cotton of an excellent quality. This cotton, however, brings a poor price, because it has the disadvantage of adhering very much to the grain. They cannot clean it (despepitar, or desmorar) in the country; and two thirds of its value is absorbed in freight, on account of the weight of the grain.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

This province, situated under the burning sun of the tropics, extends along the Mexican gulf, from the Rio Baraderas (or de los Lagartos) to the great river of Panuco, which rises in the metalliferous mountains of San Luis Potosi. Hence this intendancy includes a very considerable part of the eastern coast of New Spain. Its length, from the bay of Terminos near the island of Carmen to the small port of Tampico, is 210 leagues, while its breadth is only in general from 25 to 28 leagues. It is bounded on the east by the peninsula of Merida; on the west by the intendancies of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Mexico; and on the north by the colony of New Santander.

A glance bestowed on the 5th and 6th plates accompanying this work will show the extraordinary conformation of this country, which was formerly comprehended under the denomination of Cuetlachtlan. There are few regions in the new continent where the traveller is more struck with the assemblage of the most opposite climates. All the western part of the intendancy of Vera

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »