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informs us, that there are many old men among the Patagonians with beards, though they are short, and by no means bushy. On comparing this assertion with the facts collected by Marchand, Mears, and especially M. Volney, in the northern temperate zone, we are tempted to believe that the Indians have more and more beard in proportion to their distance from the equator. However, this apparent want of beard is by no means peculiar to the American race; for many. hordes of Eastern Asia, and especially several tribes of African negros, have so little beard that we should be almost tempted to deny entirely its existence. The negros of Congo and the Caribs, two eminently robust races, and frequently of a colossal 'stature, prove that to look upon a beardless chin as a sure sign of the degeneration and physical weakness of the human species is a mere physiological dream. We forget that all which has been observed in the Caucasian race does not equally apply to the Mongol or American race, or to the African negros.
The Indians of New Spain, those at least subject to the European domination, generally attain a pretty advanced age. Peaceable cultivators, and collected these six hundred years in villages, they are not exposed to the accidents of the wandering life of the hunters and warriors of the Mississipi and the savannas of the Rio Gila. Accustomed to uniform nourishmeat of an almost entirely vegetable nature, that of their maize and cereal gramina, the Indians would undoubtedly attain a very great longevity if their constitution were not weakened by drunkenness.: Their intoxicating liquors are rum, a fermentation of maize and the root of the jatropha, and especially the wine of the country, made of the juice of the agave americana, called pulque. This last liquor, of which we shall have occasion to speak in the following book, is even nutritive, on account of the undecomposed sugar which it contains. Many Indians addicted to pulque take for a long time very little solid nourishment. When taken with moderation it is very salutary, and by fortifying the stomach, assists the functions of the gastric system.
The vice of drunkenness is, however, less com- . mon among the Indians than is generally believed. 1
Those Europeans who have travelled to the east of the Alleghany mountains, between the Ohio and the Missoury, will with difficulty believe that, in the forests of Guiana, and on the banks of the Orinoco, we saw indians who shewed an aversion for the brandy which we made them taste. There are several Indian tribes, very sober, whose fermented beverages are too weak to intoxicate. In New Spain drunkenness is most common among the Indians who inhabit the valley of Mexico, and the environs of Puebla and Tlascala, wherever the maguey or agave are cultivated on a great scale.
The police in the city of Mexico sends round tumbrils, to collect the drunkards to be found
stretched out in the streets. These Indians, who are treated like dead bodies, are carried to the principal guard-house. In the morning an iron ring is put round their ancles, and they are made to clear the streets for three days. On letting them go on the fourth day, they are sure to find several of them in the course of the week. The excess of liquors is also very injurious to the health of the lower people in the warm countries on the coast which grow sugar-cane. It is to be hoped that this evil will diminish, as civilization makes more progress among a cast of men whose bestiality is not much different from that of the brutes.
Travellers who merely judge from the physiognomy of the Indians are tempted to believe that it is rare to see old men among them. In fact, without consulting parish registers, which in warm regions are devoured by the termites every twenty or thirty years, it is very difficult to form any idea of the age of Indians: they themselves (I allude to the poor labouring Indian) are completely ignorant of it. Their head never becomes grey. It is infinitely more rare to find an Indian than a negro with grey hairs, and the want of beard gives the former a continual air of youth*. The skin of the Indians is also less
* This account differs from that of Ulloa, who says expressly that the symptoms of old age among the Indians are subject to wrinkles. It is by no means uncommon to see in Mexico, in the temperate zone half way up the Cordillera, natives, and especially women, reach a hundred years of age. This old age is generally comfortable; for the Mexican and Peruvian Indians preserve their muscular strength to the last. While I was at Lima the Indian Hilario Pari died at the village of Chiguata, four leagues distant from the town of Arequipa, at the age of 149. He remained united in marriage for 90 years to an Indian of the name of Andrea Alea Zar, who attained the age of 117. This old Peruvian went, at the age of 130, from three to four leagues daily on foot. He became blind 13 years before his death, and left behind him of 19 children but one daughter, of 77 years of age.
grey hairs and a beard: pero hay dos señales que manifiestan quando son de edad muy abanzada: la una las canas, y la otra las barbas. The whole passage runs thus, “ Son per le general de larga vida, aunque dificil de averiguar el numero de sus años; pero hay dos señales que manifiestan quando son de edad muy abanzada; la una las canas, y la otra las barbas: aquellas no empiezcan à parecer hasta que estan en 70 años ò cerca de ellas: estas otras hasta que passan de 60, y siempre son pocas; y asi quando se ven del todo encanecidos, y que las pocas barbas le estan igualmente, se jusga que pasan de un siglo.'' (Noticias Americanas, p. 323.) The accuracy of Ulloa, and the opportunities which he had of observing every variety of Indian race, are very universally known. Father Gumilla gives an account somewhat similar to Ulloa's. Trans.
The copper-coloured Indians enjoy one great physical advantage, which is undoubtedly owing to the great simplicity in which their ancestors lived for thousands of years. They are subject to almost no deformity. I never saw a hunchbacked Indian; and it is extremely rare to see any of them who squint, or are lame in the arm or leg. In the countries where the inhabitants suffer from the goitre, this affection of the thyroid gland is never observed among the Indians, and seldom among the Mestizoes. Martin Salmeron, the famous Mexican giant, belongs to the last class, though erroneously said to be an Indian, whose height is 2,224 metres, or six feet ten inches, and 9 lines of Paris *. He is the son of a Mestizo, who married an Indian woman of the village of Chilapa el Grande, near Chilpansingo t.
When we examine savage hunters or warriors we are tempted to believe that they are all well made, because those who have any natural deformity either perish from fatigue or are exposed
* 87,521 inches, or 7 feet 34 inches. Trans,
+ Such is the real size of this giant, the best proportioned whom I have ever seen. He is an inch taller than the giant of Torneo, seen at Paris in 1735. The American Gazettes make Salmeron 7 feet i inch of Paris measure. Gazetta de Goatimala, 1800. Agosto, Anvales de Madrid, t. IV. No. 12. The human species appears to vary from 2 feet 4 inches to 7 feet 5 inches, or from om, 757 to 2m, 459, (Schreber Manm. t. I. p. 27.)