Page images
PDF

in the capital of Mexico. These results of M. Oltmannsare contained in the table of geographical positions. No doubt can remain as to the oblique distances; but the want of observations of azimuths gives a little uncertainty to the reduction of the perpendiculars or differences in latitude and longitude. We shall return to this subject in the analysis of the map of the environs of Mexico.

The seventeen positions fixed by M. Ferrer in the environs of Vera Cruz depend on the longitude of that port. That longitude having been supposed by me 10° 45' farther west than the Spanish astronomer indicates, I have reduced to the meridian of Paris the longitudes published by M. Ferrer, adding 8° 4?' 15-; for that observer calculated the lunar distances, from the Knowledge of Times, at an epoqua when Cadiz was believed to lie 8° 36' 30* to the west of Paris. I have for the same reason changed the absolute longitudes of Xalappa, the Cofre de Perotte, and the Pic d'Orizaba. M. Ferrer, for instance, places the latter at 90° 48' c2Sa of west longitude from Cadiz, while from the same meridian he fixes Vera Cruz at 89° 41' 45".

OLD AND NEW CALIFORNIA.

PROVINCIAS ITERNAS.

The north-west part of New Spain, the coast of California, and of what the English call New Albion, contain many points determined by the most exact geodesical and astronomical operations of Quadra, Galeano, and Vancouver. Few European charts are better established than those of Western America, from Cape Mendocino to Queen Charlotte's Straits.

Cortez, after setting on foot two voyages of discovery in 1532, under Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Diego Becerra, and Hernando de Griscalva, examined himself in 1533 the coast of California, and the gulf which has since very justly borne the name of the sea of Cortez*. In 1542 the intrepid Juan Rodriguez Cobrillo pushed as far north as 44° of latitude; the Sandwich Islands were discovered by Juan Gae0tan ; and in 1582 Francisco Gali discovered the north-west coast of America under 51 30' of latitude; so that long before the intrepid Cook made this part of the great ocean to be known, which cost him his life, the same regions had been visited by Spanish navigators. But very often the rapid p romulgation of discoveries does not depend upon him who makes them. Yet the merit of a private citizen is independent of the false policy of a government, which from an ignorance of its own interest would prevent a nation from enjoying the glory which it has earned. But this subject, equally delicate and interesting, has been treated with great discernment, in the historical intraduction to the voyage of Marchand, and in the introduction to the account of the Spanish expeditions undertaken for the discovery of the Straits of Fuca.

* Gomara Hist. cap. 12.

The observation of the transit of Venus in 176*9, occasioned the voyage of MM. Chappe, Doz, and Velasquez, three astronomers, of whom the first was a Frenchman, the second a Spaniard, and the third a Mexican, and, what is more, the pupil of a very intelligent Indian of the village of Xaltocan. Before, however, the arrival of these astronomers in California, the true latitudes of Cape San Lucas and the mission of St. Rose had already been found by Don Miguel Costanzo, at present general of brigade and head of the corps of engineers. This respectable officer, who displays the greatest zeal for the geography of the country, found by gnomons and English octants of a very perfect construction, San Jose to be 23° 2' 0"; and Cape San Lucas, 22° 48' 10". Till then it was believed, as is proved by the chart of Alzate, that San Jose lay in 22° 0' of latitude.

The detail of the observations of the Abbe Chappe does not inspire much confidence. Provided with a large quadrant of three feet radius, Chappe found the latitude of San Jose by Arcturus 23° 4' \"; by Antares, 23° 3' 12". The medium of all the stellar observations differs from the result of the passages of the sun through the meridian by 31". There are some of the solar observations which differ from one another riS/. M. Cassini, however, calls them " very exact and very accordant*". I cite these examples, not for the sake of discrediting astronomers who have so many titles to our esteem, but to prove that a sextant of five inches radius would have been more useful to the Abbe Chappe than his quadrant of three feet radius, difficult both to place and to verify. Don Vicente Doz placed San Jose at 23° 5' 15" latitude. The longitude of this celebrated village in the annals of astronomy was deduced from the transit of Venus, and from the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites, observed by Chappe, and compared with the tables of Wargentin. M. Cassini fixed it by a medium at 7h 28' 10', or 112° 2' 30". Father Hell adopted 7h 37' 57* for San Jose. The longitude which results from Chappe's observations is 3° 12' farther east than the one adopted in 1768 in the map of Alzate t. M. Velasquez too, the Mexican astronomer, constructed a small observatory in the village of St. Anne, where he observed by himself the transit of Venus, communicating the result of his observation to M. Chappe and Don Vicente Doz. This result, published by M. de Cassini, agrees very well with the manuscript observations which I procured at Mexico, and might serve to determine the longitude of St. Anne. Moreover, M. Velasquez, before the arrival of the Abbe Chappe, knew the enormous error in the longitude of California; he had observed eclipses of Jupiter's satellites in 1768 at the mission of Santa Rosa*; and he communicated to the European astronomers the true longitude before they had time to make the slightest observations.

* Voyage en Californie, p. 106.

f Nouvelle Carte de rAm6rique Septentrionale, dediee si l'Academie Royale des Sciences de Paris par Don Joseph Antoine de Alzate et Ramiret, 1768.

The position of Cape San Lucas, called in Cortez's time Santa de San Jago f, has been determined by the Spanish navigators. I found in manuscripts \ preserved in the archives of the vice

* Estado de la Geografia de la Nueva Espaiia y modo de perfeccionar la por Don Jose Antonio de Alzate (Periodico de Mexico, Diciembre 1772, No. 7, p. 55.)

f Mapa de California por Domingo de Castillo, 1541.

% M. Aranza, viceroy of Mexico, employed M. Casasola, lieutenant de frigate of the royal marine, to unite in four manuscripts whatever was connected with the navigations performed to the north of California, under the viceroys Bucarelli, Florez, and Revillagigedo. These works consist, 1st, in an atlas of twenty-six maps drawn up from the observations of MM. Perez, Canisarez, Galeano, Anadra, and Malaspina; 2d, in a large folio volume, entitled, 'Compendio historico de las Navegaciones sobre las costas septentrionales de California ordenado en 1799 en la ciudad de Mexico; 3d, in the voyage to the north-west coast of America, performed by Don Juan Francisco dela Bodegay Quadra, commanding the frigates Sta. Gertrudis, Aranzasa, Princesa, and thegoellette Activa, 1792; and, 4th, in a Riconociemiento de los quatros Establecimientos Russos al Norte de la California en 1788, a curious expedition executed by order of the viceroy Florez, and described hy.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »