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CHAPTER VI.

Diversity of casts.Indians or indigenous Americans.—Their number and their migrations.—Diversity of languages.^Degree of civilization of the Indians.

The Mexican population is composed of the same elements as the other Spanish colonies. They reckon seven races: l. The individuals born in Europe, vulgarly called Gachupines ,• 2. the Spanish Creoles, or whites of European extraction born in America; 3. the Mestizos, descendants of whites and Indians; 4. the Mulattos, descendants of whites and negros; 5. the Zambos, descendants of negros and Indians; 6. the Indians, or copper-coloured indigenous race; and 7- the African negros. Abstracting the subdivisions there are four casts: the whites, comprehended under the general name of Spaniards, the negros, the Indians, and the men of mixed extraction, from Europeans, Africans, American Indians, and Malays; for from the frequent communication between Acapulco and the Philippine islands, many individuals of Asiatic origin, both Chinese and Malays, have settled in New Spain.

A very general prejudice exists in Europe that an exceeding small number of the copper-coloured race, or descendants of the ancient Mexicans, remain at this day. The cruelty of the Europeans has entirely extirpated the old inhabitants of the West Indies. The continent of America, however, has witnessed no such horrible result. The number of Indians in New Spain exceeds two millions and a half, including only those who have no mixture of European or African blood. What is still more consolatory, and we repeat it, is, that the indigenous population, far from declining, has been considerably on the increase for the last fifty years, as is proved by the registers of capitation or tribute.

In general the Indians appear to form two-fifths of the whole population of Mexico. In the four intendancies of Guanaxuato, Valladolid, Oaxaca, and la Puebla, this population amounts even to three-fifths. The enumeration of 1793 gave the following result.

Karnes of intendancies. Total population. Number of Indians,

Guanaxuato . 398,000 . 175,000

Valladolid .290,000 . 119,000

Puebla . . 638,000 . 416,000

Oaxaca . . 411,000 . 363,000

From this table it appears that in the intendancy of Oaxaca, of 100 individuals 88 were Indians So great a number of indigenous inhabitants undoubtedly proves the antiquity of the cultivation of this country. Accordingly, we find near Oaxaca remaining monuments of Mexican architecture, which prove a singularly advanced state of civilization.

The Indians, or copper-coloured race, are rarely to be found in the north of New Spain, and are hardly to be met with in the provincias internas. History gives us several causes for this phenomenon. When the Spaniards made the conquest of Mexico, they found very few inhabitants in the countries situated beyond the parallel of 20°: These provinces were the abode of the Chichimecks and Otomites, two, pastoral nations, of whom thin hordes were scattered over a vast territory. Agriculture and civilization, as we have already observed, were concentrated in the plains south of the river of Santiago, especially between the valley of Mexico and the province of Oaxaca.

From the 7th to the 13th century, population seems in general to have continually flowed towards the south. From the regions situated to the north of the Rio Gila issued forth those warlike nations who successively inundated the country of Anahuac. We are ignorant whether that was their primitive country, or whether they came originallyfrom Asia or the north-west coast of America, and traversed the savannas of Nabajoa and Moqui, to arrive at the Rio Gila. The hieroglyphical tables of the Aztecs have transmitted to us the memory of the principal epochs of the great migrations among the Americans. This migration bears some analogy to that which, in the fifth century, plunged Europe in a state of barbarism, of which we yet feel the fatal effects in many of our social institutions. Howeve^ the people who traversed Mexico left behind them traces of cultivation and civilization. The Toultecs appeared, first, in the year 648/the Chichimecks in 1170, the Nahualtecs in 1178, the Acolhues and Aztecs in 1 ly6. The Toultecs introduced the cultivation of maize and cotton; they built cities, made roads, and constructed those great pyramids which are yet admired, and of which the faces are very accurately laid out. They knew the use of hieroglyphical paintings; they could found metals, and cut the hardest stones; and they had a solar year more perfect than that of the Greeks and Romans. The form of their government indicated that they were the descendants of a people who had experienced great vicissitudes in their social state. But where is the source of that cultivation? where is the country from which the Toultecs and Mexicans issued? Tradition and historical hieroglyphics name Huehuetlapallan, Tollan, and Aztlan, as the first residence of these wandering nations. There are no remains at this day of any ancient civilization of the human species to the north of the Rio Gila, or in the northern regions travelled through by Hearne, Fidler, and Mackenzie. But on the north-west coast, between Nootka and Cook river, especially under the 57° of north latitude, in Norfolk Bay and Cox Canal, the natives display a decided taste for hieroglyphical paintings*. M.FIeurieu,aman of distinguished learning, sup. poses !Iiat these people might be the descendants of some Mexican colony, which, at the period of the conquest, took refuge in those northern re. gions. This ingenious opinion will appear less probable if we consider the great distance which these colonists would have to travel, and reflect that^the Mexican cultivation did not extend beyond the S!0° of latitude. I am rather inclined to believe, that, on the migration of the Toultecs and Aztecs to the south, some tribes remained on the coasts of New Norfolk and New Cornwall, while the rest continued their course southwards. "We can conceive how people, travelling en masse, for example, the Ostrogoths and Alani, were able to pass from the Black Sea into Spain; but how could we believe that a portion of these people were able to return from west to east, at an epoqua when other hordes had already occupied their first abodes on the banks of the Don or the Bonsthenes?

* Voyage de Marchand, torn. I. p. 258, 201, 375; Dixon, p. 33'2. A harp represented in the hieroglyphical paintings of the inhabitants of the north-west coast of America, is an object at least as remarkable as the famous harp on the torabs of the kings of Thebes. #

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