Page images
PDF
EPUB

in Mexico and Peru smoked tobacco, and used it ground into snuff. The great lords at the court of Montezuma, used to smoke tobacco as a narcotic, not only for the afternoon siesto, but to procure sleep in the morning immediately after breakfast, as is still the practice in many parts of equinoctial America. The dried leaves of the yetl were rolled up into cigares, and put into tubes of silver, wood, or reed; and frequently they mixed with it the resin of the liquidambar styraciflua, and other aromatic matters. The tube was held in one hand, and with the other the nose was stopt up, so that the smoke of the tobacco might be the more easily swallowed. Several persons were even contented with drawing in the smoke by the nose. Although the picietl (nicotiana rustica) was much cultivated in the antient Anahuac, it appears however that per

p. 227. Garcilasso, Lib. ii. c. 25. The ancient Mexicans used to recommend tobacco as an excellent remedy for the tooth-ache, colds and colics. The Caraibs used mashed tobacco leaves as a counter-poison. In our journey on the Orinoco, we saw mashed tobacco successfully applied to the bite of venomous serpents. After the famous Bejuco del Guaco, the knowledge of which we owe to M. Mutis, tobacco is undoubtedly the most active counterpoison of America. The cultivation of tobacco has been propagated with so great rapidity, that in 1559 it began to be sown in Portugal, and in the beginning of the 17th century it was planted in the East Indies. Beckmann's Geschicte der Erfindungen, B. iii. p. 366.

[ocr errors]

sons in easy circumstances used tobacco alone; for we see at this day that the use is entirely unknown to the Indians of pure extraction, because they almost all descend from the lowest class of the Aztec nation*. At Vera Cruz, the quantity of tobacco produced in the districts of Orizaba and Cordova, is estimated at eight or ten thousand tercios, (at 8 arrobas) equal to 1,600,000 or 2,000,000 of pounds; but this estimate appears to be a great deal too low. The king pays for the pound of tobacco to the cultivator 24 reals, that is to say 21 sous for the kilogramme. We shall see in the sequel of this work, and from data which I extracted from official papers, that the farm of Mexico of tobacco and snuff, is annually sold in the country even for more than 38 millions of francst, and that it yields to the king a net profit of more than 20 millions of livres tournoisi. This consumption of tobacco in New Spain must appear enormous, especially when we consider that from a population of 5,800,000 souls, we must deduct two millions and a half of Indians who never smoke. In Mexico the farm is an object of much greater importance to the public revenue than in

* See Vol. i. ch. vi. p. 155. + 1,583,460l. sterling. Trans. i 833,400l. sterling. Trans.

Peru, because in the former the number of whites is greater, and the custom of smoking cegars is much more general, and is even practised by women and children. In France, where according to the researches of Mr. Fabre de l'Aude, there are eight millions of inhabitants who use tobacco, the total consumption is more than forty millions of pounds; but the value of the foreign tobacco imported, only amounted in 1787 to 14,142,000 livres tournois*. New Spain far from exporting its own tobacco, draws annually nearly 56,000 pounds from the Havannah. The vexations which the planters experience, added to the preference given to the cultivation of coffee, have however much diminished the produce of the farm at Cuba. At this day that Island scarcely supplies 150,000 arrobas, whereas before 1794, in good years, the crop was estimated at 315,000 arrobas, (7,875,000 poundst) of which 160,000 arrobas were consumed in the Island, and 128,000 sent to Spain. This branch of colonial industry is of the very greatest importance, even in its actual state of monopoly

* Peuchet, p. 315 and 409.

+ Raynal, (T. iii. p. 268.) only estimated the produce at 4,675,000 pounds. Virginia produced annually before 1775 more than 55,000 hogsheads, or 35 millions of pounds of tobacco. Jefferson, p. 323.

and constraint. La renta de tabaco of the peninsula, yields a net revenue of six millions of piastres, a revenue arising in a great measure from the sale of the tobacco of the Island of Cuba sent to Seville. The magazines of this c ty sometimes contain stores of 18 or 19 millions of pounds of snuff, the value of which amounts to the exorbitant sum of 200 millions of livres”. . The cultivation of Indigo, which is very general in the kingdom of Guatimala, and in the province of Caracas, is very much neglected in Mexico. The plantations along the western coast, are not even sufficient for the few manufactures of home cotton cloth. Indigo is annually imported from the kingdom of Guatimala, where the total produce of the plantations amounts to the value of 12 millions of livres. This substance as to which Mr. Beckman has made such learned researches, was known to the Greeks and Romans under the mame of indicum. The word anil, which has passed into the Spanish language, is derived from the Arabian word miz or nil. Hernandez speaking of the Mexican indigo calls it aniz. The Greeks in the time of Dioscorides, drew indigo from Gedrozia; and in the 13th century Marco Polo carefully described the mode of its preparation in Hindostan. Raynal is wrong

* 8,334,000l. sterling. Trans.

[ocr errors]

when he maintains that the Europeans introduced the cultivation of that valuable plant into America. Several species of indigofera are peculiar to the New Continent. Ferdinand Columbus in the life of his father, mentions indigo among the productions of the Island of Hayti. Hernandez describes the process by which the natives of Mexico separated the fecula from the juice of the plant, a process different from that now em•ployed. The small cakes of indigo dried by fire were called mohuitli or tlewohuilli. The plant was even designated by the name Xiuhquilipitzahuac. Hernandez" proposed to the court to introduce the cultivation of indigo into the southern part of Spain. I know not if his counsel was followed, but it is certain that indigo was very common in Malta, till towards the end of the 17th century. The species of indigofera from which indigo is at this day procured in the colonies, are: The indigofera tinctoria, I. anil, I. disperma, and I. argerstea, as is proved by the most antient hieroglyphical paintings of the Mexicans; even thirty years after the conquest, the Spaniards who had not yet found out the materials for making ink, wrote with indigo, as is proved

Hernander, Lib. iv. c. 12, p. 108. Clavigero, ii. 189. Beckmann, l.c. IV. 474-532. Berthollet, Elements'ae l'art

[ocr errors]

dela teinture, ii. 37. v.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »