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commencement of the conquest, dreaded the great opulence of the clergy in a country where ecclesiastical discipline is difficult to maintain. He says very frankly in a letter to Charles the Fifth, so that he beseeches his majesty to send out to the Indies religieus and not canons, because the latter display an extravagant luxury, leave great wealth to their natural children, and give great scandal to the newly converted Indians.” This advice, dictated by the frankness of an old soldier, was not followed at Madrid. We have transcribed this curious passage from a work published several years ago by a cardinal*. It is not for us to accuse the conqueror of Nev Spain of predilection for t'e regular clergy, or antipathy towards the canons.
The rumour spread up and down Europe of the immensity of the Mexican wealth has given rise to very exaggerated ideas relative to the abundance of gold and silver employed iu New Spain in plate, furniture, kitchen utensils, and harness. A traveller, whose imagination has been heated by
We must not confound the pero, which is sometimes called pezo sencillo or commercial piastre, which is a fictitious money, with the double piastre of America, or te duro, or te pezo duro. The double piastre contains 20 reals of vellon, or 170 quartos, or 680 maravedis, while the pezo sencillo, which is equal to 3 livres à 5 sous, contains only 15 reals of yellop, or 510 maravedis.
stories of keys, locks, and hinges of massy silver, will be very much surprised on his arrival at Mexico at seeing no more of the precious metals employed for domestic uses there than in Spain, Portugal, and the rest of the south of Europe ; and he will be as much astonished at seeing in Mexico, Peru, or at Santa Fe, people of the lowest order barefooted with enormous silver spurs on, or at finding silver cups and plates a little more common there than in France and England. The surprise of the traveller will cease when he reflicts that porcelain is very rare in these newly civilized regions, that the nature of the roads in the moun. tains renders the carriage of it extremely difficult; and that in a country of little commercial activity, it is equally indifferent whether a few hundred piastres be possessed in specie or in plate. Notwithstanding, however, the enormous difference of wealth between Peru and Mexico, considering merely the fortunes of the great proprietors, I am inclined to believe that there is more true comfort at Lima than at Mexico. The inequality of for. tunes is much less in the former; and if it is very rare, as we have already observed, to find indivi. duals there who possess a revenue of 50 or 60,000 francs*, we meet, however, with a great number of mulatto artisans and free negros, who, by their industry alone, procure much more than the ne.
* 2,0831. or 2,500l. sterling. Trans.
cessaries of life. Capitals of 10 and 15000 piastres* are very common among this class, while the streets of Mexico swarm with from twenty to thirty thousand wretches (Saragates, Guachinangos), of whom the greatest number pass the night sub dio, and stretch themselves out to the sun during the day with nothing but a flannel covering. These dregs of the people bear much analogy to the Lazaroni of Naples. Lazy, careless, and sober like them, the Guachinangos have nothing, however, ferocious in their character, and they never ask alms; for if they work one or two days in the week, they earn as much as will purchase their pulque, or some of the ducks with which the Mexican lakes are covered, which are roasted in their own fat. The fortune of the Saragates sel. dom exceeds two or three reals, while the lower people of Lima, more addicted to luxury and pleasure, and perhaps also more industrious, frequently spend two or three piastres in one day. One would say that the mixture of the European and the negro every where produces a race of men more active and more assiduously industrious than the mixture of the whites with the Mexican Indian.
The kingdom of New Spain is, of all the Eu. ropean colonies under the torrid zone, that in
* If single or commercial piastres=15601. and 23401, sterling. Trans.
which there are the fewest negros. We may al. most say that there are no slaves. We may go through the whole city of Mexico without seeing a black countenance. The service of no house is carried on with slaves. In this point of view especially, Mexico presents a singular contrast to the Havanah, Lima, and Caraccas. From exact informacion procured by those employed in the enumeration of 1793, it appears that in all New Spain there are not six thousand negros, and not more than nine or ten thousand slaves, of whom the greatest number belong to the ports of Acapulco and Vera Cruz, or the warm regions of the coasts (tierras calientes). The slaves are four times more numerous in the capitania general of Caraccas, which dies not contain the sixth part of the population of Mexico. The negros of Jamaica are to those of New Spain in the propor. tion of 250 to i! In the West India islands, Peru, and even Caracas, the progress of agriculture and incustry in general depends on the augmentation of negros, in the island of Cuba, for example, where the annual exportation of sugar has risca in twelve years from 400,000 to 1,000,000 quintals, bei ween 1794 and 1803 nearly 55,000* slaves have been introduced. But in Mexico the increase
* According to the custom-house reports of the Havanah, of which I possess a copy, the introduction of negros, from 1799 to 1803, was 34,500, of whom i per cent. die annually.
of colonial prosperity is nowise occasioned by a more active slave trade. It is not above twenty years since Mexican sugar was known in Europe; Vera Cruz, at present, exports more than 120,000 quintals; and yet the progress of sugar cultivation which has taken place in New Spain since the revolution of St. Domingo has not perceptibly in. creased the number of slaves. Of the 74,000 negros annually furnished by Africa to the equi. noxial regions of America and Asia, and which are worth in the colonies the sum of 111,000,000 francs*, not above 100 land on the coast of Mexico.
By the laws there can be no Indian slaves in the Spanish colonies; and yet by a singular abuse, two species of wars very different in appearance give rise to a state very much like that of the African slave. The missionary monks of South America make from time to time incursions into: the countries possessed by peaceable tribes of Indians, whom they call savages (Indios bravos), because they have not learned to make the sign of the cross like the equally naked Indians of the missions (Indios reducidos). In these nocturnal incursions, dictated by the most culpable fanaticism, they lay hold of all whom they can surprise, especially children, women, and old men. They separate without pity children from their mothers,
* 4,625,3701. sterling. Trans.