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figure, of which the memory is still recent among us. This plate alone should suggest important considerations to those who superintend the pros. perity and tranquillity of the colonies. The dread of a future evil is undoubtedly in itself a motive of no great dignity; but it is a powerful motive of vigilance and activity for great political bodies, as well as for simple individuals.
The Spanish possessions in America are divided into nine great governments, which may be regarded as independent of one another. Of these nine governments, five, viz, the viceroyalties of Peru and of New Grenada, the capitanias gene. rales of Guatimule, of Portorico, and of Caraccas, are wholly comprised in the torrid zone; the four other divisions, viz. the viceroyalties of Mexico and Buenos Ayres, the capitanias generales of Chili and Havannah, including the Floridas, are composed of countries of which a great part is situated without the tropics, that is to say, in the temperate zone. We shall afterwards see that this position alone does not determine the nature of the productions of these fine regions. The union of several physical causes, such as the great height of the Cordilleras, their enormous masses, the number of plains, elevated more than from two to three thousand metres * above the level of the ocean, give to a part of the equinoxial regions a temperature adapted to the cultivation of the wheat and fruit trees of Europe. The geographical latitude has small influence on the fertility of a country, where, on the ridge and declivity of the mountains, nature exhibits a union of every climate. . Among the colonies subject to the king of Spain, Mexico occupies at present the first rank, both on account of its territorial wealth, and on account of its favourable position for commerce with Europe and Asia. We speak here merely of the political value of the country, considering it in its actual state of civilization, which is very superior to that of the other Spanish possessions. Many branches of agriculture have undoubtedly attained a higher degree of perfection in the province of Caraccas than in New Spain. The fewer mines a colony has, the more the industry of the inhabitants is turned towards the productions of the vegetable kingdom. The fertility of the soil is greater in the provinces of Cumana, of New Barcelona, and Venezuela ; and it is greater on the banks of the lower Orinoco, and in the northern part of New Grenada, than in the king. domn of Mexico, of which several regions are barren, destitute of water, and incapable of vegetation. But on considering the greainess of the population of Mexico, the number of considerable cities in the proximity of one another, the enormous value of the metallic produce, and its influence on the commerce of Europe and Asia ; in short, on ex
* From 6561 to 9842 feet. Trans.
amining the imperfect state of cultivation observable in the rest of Spanish America we are tempted to justify the preference which the court of Madrid has long manifested for Mexico above its other colonies.
Thede nomination of New Spain designates, in general, the vast extent of country over which the viceroy of Mexico exercises his power. Using the word in this sense, we are to consider as northern and southern limits the parallels of the 38th and 10th degrees of latitude. But the captain-general of Guatimala, considered as administrator, depends very little on the viceroy of New Spain. The kingdom of Guatimala contains, according to its political division, the governments of Costa Rica and of Nicaragria. It is conterminous with the kingdom of New Grenada, , to which Darien and the isthmus of Panama belong. Whenever in the course of this work we use the denominations of New Spain and Mexico, we exclude the captania-general of Guatimalı, a country extremely fertile, well peopled, compared with the rest of the Spanish possessions, and so much the better cultivated as the soil, convulsed by volcanos, contains almost no metallic mines. We consider the intendancies of Alerida and Oaxaca as the most southern, and at the same time the most eastern parts of New Spain. The confines which separate Mexico from the kingdom of Guatimala are washed by the Great Ocean to the
east of the port of Tehuantepec, near la Barra de Tonala. They terminate on the shore of the Atlantic, near the bay of Honduras.
The name of New Spain was at first only given in the year 1518 to the province of Yucatan, where the companions in arms of Grijalva were astonished at the cultivation of the fields and the beauty of the Indian edifices. Cortez, in his first letter to the emperor Charles V. in 1520, employs the denomination of New Spain for the whole empire of Montezuma. This empire, if we may believe Solis, extended from Panama to New California. But we learn from the diligent researches of a Mexican historian, the abbé Clavigero*, that Montezuma the sultan of Tenochtitlan had a much smaller extent of country under his dominion. His kingdom was bounded towards the eastern coast by the rivers of Guasacualco and Tuspan, and towards the western coast by the plains of Socom nusco, and the port of Zacatula. On looking into my general map of New Spain, divided into in. tendancies, it will be found, that according to these limits, the empire of Montezuma included only the intendancies of V'era Cruz, Oaxaca, la Puebla, Mexico, and Valladolid. I think its area may be estimated at 15,000 square leagues.
Towards the beginning of the 16th century, the
* Dissertazione sopra i confini di Anahuac. See Storia antica del Messico. T. IV. p. 265.
river of Santiugo separated the agricultural nations of Mexico and Mechoacan from the barbarous and pastoral hordes called Otomites and Cicimecs. These savages frequently carried their incursions as far as Tula, a town situated near the northern bank of the valley of Tenochtitlan. They occupied the plains of Zelaya and Salamanca, now admired for their fine cultivation, and the multitude of farms scattered over their surface.
Neither should the denomination of Anahuac be confounded with that of New Spain. Before the conquest all the country between the 14th and 21st degrees of latitude was included under the name of Anahuac. Besides the Aztec empire of Montezuma, the small republics of Tlaxcallan and Cholollan, the kingdoms of Tezcuco (or Acolhoacan) and Niechuacan, which comprised part of the intendancy of Valladolid, belonged to the ancient nuhuac.
Even the name Mexico is of Indian origin. It signifies in the Aztec language the habitation of the God of war, called Mezitli or Huitzilo. pochtli. It appears, however, that before the year 1530 the city was more commonly called Tenochtitlan than Mexico. Cortez*, who had made very little progress in the language of the country, called the capital, through coriuption,
* Historia de Nueva España, por Lorenzana (Mexico, 1770, p. 1.)