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companied with much rain. The flower drops without yielding fruit if the humidity is too great. An extreme drought is equally hurtful to the growth of the plant. However no insect attacks the green fruit, on account of the milk it contains. They begin to cut it in the months of March and April, after the sub-delegate has proclaimed that the harvest is permitted to the Indians: it continues to the end of June. The natives who remain eight successive days in the forests of Quilate, sell the vanilla fresh and yellow to the gente de razon, i. e. the whites, mes izoes and mulattos, who alone know the beneficio de la baynilla, namely, the manner of drying it with care, giving it a silvery lustre, and sorting it for transportation into Europe. The yellow fruits are spread out on cloths, and kept exposed to the sun for several hours. When sufficiently heated, they are wrapped up in woollen cloths for evaporation, when the vanilla blackens, and they conclude with exposing it to be dried from the morning to the evening in the heat of the sun.
The method of preparing the vanilla at Colipa is much superior to the beneficio em, ployed at Misantla. It is asserted that on unpacking the vanilla at Cadiz, not more than six per cent. is found to be damaged in that of Colipa, while in that of Misantla the quan,
tity of rotten or damaged pods amounts to at least the double. This last variety is more difficult to dry, because its fruit is larger and more aqueous than that of Colipa, which is produced in savannahs, and not in the mountains, and is called baynilla de acaguales. When the rainy season does not permit the inhabitants of Misantla and Colipa to expose the vanilla to the rays of the sun, they are obliged to recur to an artificial heat, till it have acquired a blackish colour, and is covered with silvery spots (manchas plateadas) They form by means of small reeds a frame which they suspend by cords, and cover with woollen cloth, and on which they spread the pods. The fire is placed below, but at a considerable distance. The pods are dried by agitating slightly the frame, and gradually heating the reeds and the cloth. Much care and long experience is necessary to succeed in drying sufficiently the vanilla in this way, which is called beneficio de poscoyol. The loss is generally very great when artificial heat is employed.
At Misantla, the fruits of the vanilla are collected into packets called mazos : contains 50 pods, consequently a thousand (millar) twenty mazos. Although the whole of the vanilla which enters into commerce appears to be the produce of a single species of epidendrum (Tlilxochitl,) yet the fruit is
nevertheless divided into four different classes. The nature of the soil, the humidity of the air, and the heat of the sun, have all a singular influence on the size of the pod, and the quantity of oily and aromatic parts contained in it. The four classes of vanilla are the following, beginning with those of a superior quality: baynilla fina in which the grande fina and the chica fina or mancuerna are again distinguished; the zacate ; the rezacate, and the basura. Each class is easily recognized in Spain from the manner in which the pacquets are made up. The grande fica is in general 22 centimetres in length*, and each mazo weighs at Misantla ten ounces and a half, and at Colipa from nine to ten ounces.
The chica fina is five centimetres shorter than the former, and is purchased one half cheaper. The zacate is a very long vanilla, extremely slender and very acqueous.
The basura, of which a pacquet contains a hundred pods, serves only to fill the bottom of the packages sent to Cadiz. The worst quality of the Misantla vanilla is called baynilla cimarona (wild) or baynilla palo ; it is very slender and almost destitute of juice. A sixth variety the baynilla pompona has a very large and beautiful fruit. It has been several times sent to Europe, and by means of the Genoese merchants into
the Levant; but as its odour is different from the vanilla called grande fina it has never hitherto had any sale.
We see from what has been stated respecting the vanilla that it is with the goodness of this commodity as with that of the quinquina, which not only depends on the species of cinchona from which it proceeds, but also on the height of the country, the exposure of the tree, the period of the harvest, and the care employed in drying the bark. The commerce of both the vanilla and quinquina is in the hands of a few persons called habilitadores because they advance money to the cosecheros, i. e. to the Indians employed in the harvest, who are in this way under the direction of undertakers. The latter draw almost the whole profit of this branch of Mexican industry. The competition among the purchasers is so much less at Misantla and Colipa, as a long experience is necessary to guard against deception in the purchase of prepared vanilla. A single stained pod (manchada) may occasion the loss of a whole chest in the passage from America to Europe. The blemishes which are thus discovered either in the pod or the stalk (garganta) are designated by particular names (mojo negro, mojo blanco, garro.) A prudent purchaser examines over and over the pacquets which he sends in the same chest.
The habilitadores have purchased for the last twelve years, the thousand of vanilla of the first class at an average price of 25 or 35 piastres; the thousand of zacate at ten, and of rezacate at four piastres. In 1803 the price of the grande fina was 50, and the zacate 15 piastres. The purchasers far from paying the Indians in ready money, supply them in barter, and at a very high price, with brandy, cocoa, wine and more especially with cotton cloth manufactured at Puebla. In this barter consists part of the profits of these monopolists.
The district of Papantla, formerly an Alcaldid mayor, is situated 18 leagues to the north of Misantla; it produces very little vanilla, and that little is besides badly dried, though very aromatic. The Indians of Papantla as well as those of Nautla, are accused of introducing themselves furtively into the forests of Quilate for the sake of collecting the fruit of the epidendrum planted by the natives of Misantla. In the intendancy of Oaxaca, the village of Teutila is celebrated for the superior quality of the vanilla produced in the neighbouring forests. It appears that this variety was the first which was introduced into Spain in the sixteenth century; for even at this day the baynilla de Teutila is considered at Cadiz as preferable to every other. It is indeed dried with much care, being pricked with pins and suspended by