Page images
PDF
EPUB

examine the southern coast of Chili. I saw the instructions that he received at Lima, which re. commended to him the greatest secrecy in case he should be happy enough to discover a communi. cation between the two seas. But M. Moraleda discovered in 1793, that the Estero de Aysen, visi ed before him in 1763 by the Jesuits, fathers Jose Garcia and Juan Vicuñ, was of all the arms of the sea that in which the waters of the ocean advance the farthest towards the east. Yet it is but eight leagues in length, and terminates at the isle de la Cruz, where it receives a small river, near a hot spring. Hence the canal of Aysen, situated in the 43° 28' of latitude, is still 88 leagiles distant from the Gulf of St. George. This gulf was exactly surveyed by the expedition of Malaspina. In the year 1746 a communication was, in the same manner, suspected in Europe between the bay of St. Julien (latitude 50° 53') and the Great Ocean.

I have sketched in one plate the nine points which appear to afford means of communication between

Viage al Reconocimiento de los Islus de Chiloe, 1786; the other comprehends the Reconocimiento del Archipelago de los Chonos y Costa occidentul Patagonica, 1732 - 1736. Curious and interesting extracts might be published from these journals, which contain details regarding the cities de los Cesares and de l'Arguello, which are said to have been founded in 1554, and are placed by apocryphal accounts between 42' and go of south latitude.

the two oceans, by the junction of neighbouring rivers, either by canals or carriage-roads between the places where the rivers become navigable. These sketches are not of equal accuracy, astronomically considered; but I wished to save the reader the labour of seeking in several maps what may be contained in one; and it is the duty of the government which possesses the finest and most fertile part of the globe to perfect what I have merely hinted at in this discussion. Two Spanish engineers, MM. Le Maur, drew up superb plans of the canal de los Guines, projected for traversing the whole island of Cuba, from Batabuno to the Havannah. A similar survey of the isthmus of Guasucualco, the lake Nicaragua, of the country between Cruces and Panama, and between Cupica and the Rio Naipi, would direct the statesman in his choice, and enable him to decide, if it is at Mexico or Darien that this undertaking should be executed; an undertaking calculated to immortalize a government occupied with the true interests of humanity.

The long circumnavigation of South America would then be less frequent; and a communication would be opened for the goods which pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Sea. The time is past * “ when Spain, through a jealous policy,

* M. de Fleurieu, in his learned notes on the Voyage de Marchand. T. I. p. 566.

mmo

res

CO

[ocr errors]

,

refused to other nations a thoroughfare through the possessions of which she so long kept the world in ignorance.” Those who are at present at the head of the government are enlightened enough to give a favourable reception to the liberal ideas proposed to them; and the presence of a stranger is no longer regarded as a danger for the country.

Should a canal of communication be opened between the two oceans, the productions of Nootka Sound and of China will be brought more than 2000 leagues nearer to Europe and the Uni ed States. Then only can any great changes be effected in the political state of Eastern Asia, for this neck of land, the barrier against the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, has been for many ages the bulwark of the independence of China and Japan.

CHAPTER IIT.

Physical aspect of the kingdom of New Spain compared with that

of Europe and South America.Inequalities of the soil.-Influence of these inequalities on the climate, cultivation, and military defence of the country.-State of the coasts,

We have hitherto considered the vast extent and the boundaries of the kingdom of New Spain. We have examined its relations with the other Spanish po, essions, and the advantages which the configuration of its coasts afford for communicaLions between the Atlantic and the South Seas.. Let us now give a physical view of the country; and consider for a while the inequalities of its soil, and the ii fluence of that inequality on the climate, cultivation, and military defence of Mexico. We shall merelt exhibit general results. The details of natural history are foreign to statistics; but we cannot forin an exact idea of the territorial wealth of a state, without knowing the structure of its mountains, the height of the great interior plains, and the temperature proper for those regions, in which the climates succeed, as it were, by strata, one above another.

When we take a general view of the whole surface of Mexico, we see that one lialf is situated under the burning sky of the tropics, and the other belongs to the temperate zone. The latter

One

contains 60,000 square leagues, and comprehends the provincias internas, both those which are under the immediate administrati in of the viceroy of Mexico (for example, the ni'w kingdom of Leon, and the province of New Santander ;, and those governed by a particular commandant-ge. neral. The influence of this commandant extends over the intendancies of Du ango and Sonora, and the provinces of Cohahu la, Texas, and New Mexico, regions thinly inhabited, which go all under the designation of provincius internas de la commendancia general, to distinguish them from the provincias internas del vireyncto. - On the one hand, small portions of the northern provinces of Sonora and New Santander pass the tropic of Cancer; and on the other, the southern intendancies of Guadalaxara, Zacatecas, and S. Luis de Potosi (particularly the environs of the celebrated mines of Catorce) extend a little to the north of this limit * We know, however, that the physical climate of a country does not altogether depend on its distance from the pole, but also on its elevation above the level of the sea, proximity to the ocean, configuration, and a great number of other local circumstances. Hence, of

* There is an oversight in the original in this place; for the fact is literally the reverse. The northern provinces of Sonora and New Santander stretch as far north as 38", and part of the southern intendancies of Guadalaxara, Zacatecas, and S. Luis de Potosi, lie south of the tropic of Cancer. Trans.

VOL. 1.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »