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exposed to all the impetuosity of the winds. It would, perhaps, be prudent to preserve this castle as the only place in which the archives, bars of silver, and coin, could be placed, and the person of the viceroy could be in safety, in the first moments of a popular commotion. The commotions (motinos) of the 12th February 1608, 15th January 1624 and I692, are still in remembrance at Mexico. In the last of these, the Indians, from want of maize, burned the palace of the viceroy Don Gaspar de Sandoval, Count of Galvez, who took refuge in the garden of the convent of St. Francis. But it was only in those times that the protection of the monks was equivalent to the security of a fortified castle.
To terminate the description of the valley of Mexico, it remains for us to give a rapid hydrographical view of this country so intersected with lakes and small rivers. This view, I flatter myself, will be equally interesting to the naturalist and the civil engineer. We have already said, that the surface of the four principal lakes occupies nearly a tenth of the valley, or 22 square leagues. The lake of Xochimileo (and Cholco) contains 6t, the lake of Tezcuco 10TV, San Christobal Stv, and Zumpango 1?V square leagues (of 25 to the equatorial degree). The valley of Teuochtitlan, or Mexico, is a basin surrounded by a circular wall of porphyry mountains of great elevation. This basin, of which the bottom is elevated 2277 metres* above the level of the sea, resembles, on a small scale, the vast basin of Bohemia, and (if the comparison is not too bold) the valleys of the Mountains of the Moon, described by MM. Herschel and Schroeter. All the humidity furnished by the Cordilleras which surround the plain of Tenochtitlan is collected in the valley. No river issues out of it, if we except the small brook (aroyo) of Tequisquiac, which, in a ravine of small breadth, traverses the northern chain of the mountains, to throw itself into the Rio de Tula, or Moteuczoma.
The principal supplies of the lakes of the valley of Tenochtitlan are, 1. the rivers of Papalotla, Tezcuco, Teotihuacan, and Tepeyacac (Guadalupe), which pour their waters into the lake of Tezcuco; 2. the rivers of Pachuco and Guautitlan (Quauhtitlari), which flow into the lake of Zumpango. The latter of these rivers (the Rio de Guautitlan) has the longest course; and its* volume of water is more considerable than that of all the other supplies put together.
The Mexican lakes, which are so many natural recipients, in which the torrents deposit the waters of the surrounding mountains, rise by stages, in proportion to their distance from the centre of the valley, or the site of the capital.
* 7468 feet. Tram. Vol. ii, a
After the lake of Tezcuco, the city of Mexico is the least elevated point of the whole valley. According to the very accurate survey of MM. Velasquez and Castera, the Plaza Mayor of Mexico, at the south corner of the viceroy's palace, is one Mexican vara, one foot, and one inch* higher than the mean level of the lake of Tezcuccf, which again is four varas and eight inches lower than the lake of San Christobal, whereof the northern part is called the lake of Xaltocan*. In this northern part, on two small islands, the villages of Xaltocan and Tonanitla are situated. The lake of San Christobal, properly so called, is separated from that of Xaltocan by a very ancient dike which leads to the villages of San Pablo and San Tomas de Chiconautla. The most northern lake of the valley of Mexico, Zumpango (Tzompango), is 10 varas 1 foot 6 inches higher than the mean level of the lake of Tezcucof. A dike (la Calzada de la Cruz, del Rey) divides the lake of Zumpango into two basins, of which the most western bears the name of Laguna de Zitlaltepec, and the most eastern the name of Laguna de Coyotepec. The lake of Chalco is at the southern extremity of the valley. It contains the pretty little village ofXico, founded on a small island; and it is separated from the lake of Xochimilco by the Calzada de San Pedro de Tlahua, a narrow dike which runs from Tuliagualco to San Francisco Tlaltengo. The level of the fresh-water lakes of Chalco and Xochimilco is only 1 vara 11 inches higher than the Plaza Mayor of the capital*. I thought that these details might be interesting to civil engineers wishing to form an exact idea of the great canal (Desague) of Huehuetoca.
* According to the classical work of M. Ciscar ,(Sobre los ttuevos pesos y medidas decimales), the Castilian vara is to the toise s= 0,5130 : 1,1963, aad a toise = 2,3316 varas. Don Jorge Juan estimated a Castilian vara at three feet of Burgos, and ever}' foot of Burgos contains 123 lines two thirds of the pied da Roi. The court of Madrid ordered in 1783 the corps of sea artillery to make use of the measure of varas, and the corps of land artillery the French toise, a difference of which it would be difficult to point out the utility.—Compendio de Matematicas de Don Francisco Xavier Rovira, torn. iv. p. 57 and 63, The Mexican vara is equal to 0n, 839.
f The manuscript materials of which I have availed myself in the compilation of this notice are, 1. the minute plans drawn up in 1802, by orders of the dean of the High Court of Justice (Decano de la Real Audiencia de Mexico), Don Cosme de Mier y Trespalacoios; 2. the memoir presented by Don Juan Diaz de la Calle, second secretary of state at Madrid in 1646, to King Philip IV.; 3. The instructions transmitted by the venerable Palafox, bishop of la Puebla and viceroy of New Spain, in i642, to his successor the viceroy Count de Salvatierra (Marques de Sobroso); 4. a memoir which Cardinal de Lorenzana, then archbishop of Mexico, presented to the viceroy Buccarelli; 5. a notice drawn up by the Tribunal de Cuentas of Mexico; 6. a memoir drawn up by orders of the Count de Revillagigedo; and 7> the Informe de Velasquez. I ought also to mention here the curious work of Zepeda, Historia del Desague,. printed at Mexico. 1 have twice myself examined the canal ©f Huehuetoca, once in August 1803, and the second time from the 9th to the 12th January, 1804, in the company of the viceroy Don Jose de Iturrigaray, whose kindness and frankness of procedure towards me I cannot speak in too high terms of. (See note D at the end of this work).
* The elevation of the Plaza Mayor, therefore, above Tezcuco is 47.245 inches, and that of San Christobal 11 feet 8.863 inches. Trans.
f 29 feet 1 inch 888. Trans. * 3 feet 9 inches. Trans. f 39.371 inches. Tram
The difference of elevation of the four great reservoirs of water of the valley of Tenochtitlan was sensibly felt in the great inundations to which the city of Mexico for a long series of ages has been exposed. In all of them the sequence of the phenomena has been uniformly the same. The lake of Zumpango, swelled by the extraordinary increases of the Rio deGuautitlan, and the influxes from Pachuca, flows over into the lake of San Christobal, with which the Cientgas of Tepejuelo and Tlapanahuiloya communicate. The lake of San Christobal bursts the dike which separates it from the lake of Tezcuco. Lastly, the water of this last basin rises in level from the accumulated influx more than a metref, and traversing the saline grounds of San Lazaro, flows with impetuosity into the streets of Mexico. Such is the general progress of the inundations: they proceed from the north and the north-west.