Page images

the statistical account of Truxillo, has even since declared that this bold assertion was merely founded on a supposititious calculation, from the enumeration of so many ruined towns, since the epoch of the conquest. These ruins appeared to him demonstrative of an immense population in Peru at a remote period. It frequently happens, however, that the examination of an erroneous opinion leads to some important truth. Father Cisneros, on rummaging in the archives of the sixteenth century, discovered that the viceroy Toledo, very justly regarded as the Spanish legislator of Peru, reckoned in 1575, in the ex. amination of the kingdom which he made in person from Tumbez to Chuquisagua (which is nearly the present extent of Peru), only about a million and a half of Indians.

Nothing in general is more vague than the judgment which we form of the population of a newly discovered country. The celebrated Cook estimated the number of inhabitants of Oteheite at 100,000; the protestant missionaries of Great Britain suppose a population of 49,000 souls ; Captain Wilson reduces it to 16,000; and M. Turnbull has attempted to prove that the real number of inhabitants does not exceed 5,000. I cannot allow myself to believe that these differences are the effect of a progressive depopulation. The maladies with which the civilized nations of Europe infected these once happy countries must,

no doubt, have caused a depopulation ; but it could never have been so rapid as to carry off in forty years nineteen-twentieth parts of the inhabitants *.

We have already mentioned that the environs of the capital of Mexico, and perhaps all the countries under the domination of Montezuma, were probably much more populous formerly than

* Captain Cook may have somewhat exaggerated the num. ber of inhabitants of Otaheite; but when we consider that he did not form his estimate so much from conjectural circumstances as from having seen the whole population of the island, drawn to the coast by the novel appearance of the strangers, pass, as it were, in review before him, we shall be perhaps rather inclined to acquiesce in this estimate. We shall be the more induced to this when we consider how near soldiers or sailors, accustomed to form rapid estimates of the numbers of masses of men, often approach to the truth. Besides Captain Cook was in general extremely sober and moderate in his judgments.

That the population, then, has declined prodigiously is almost certain ; and it is no less certain, that whatever produced the physical alteration in the inhabitants related by Vancouver, must have contributed in no small degree to the decline. This navigator, as is well known, twice visited the island. In the first voyage when he accompanied Cook, the beauty of the inhabitants, particularly the females, was universally remarked; but in the last voyage, in which were several of those who had been, as well as Vancouver, of the former, they all agreed that the appearance of the people was totally changed, and they did not discover a single woman in thc island who was not deformed and ugly... Trans.

at present* ; but this great population was concentrated in a very small space. We observe (and the observation is consoling for humanity) that not only has the number of Indians been on the increase for the last century, but that the whole of the vast region which we designate by the general name of New Spain is much better inhabited at present than it was before the arrival of the Europeans. The first of these assertions is proved by the state of the capitation which we shall afterwards give; and the last is founded on a vesy simple consideration. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Otomites, and other barbarous people, occupied the countries situated to the north of the rivers Panuco and Santiago ; but since an improved cultivation of the soil and civilization have advanced towards New Biscay and the provincias internas, the population has increased there with the rapidity every where remarked where a nation of shepherds is replaced by agricultural colonists f.

* Clavigero, Storia antica di Messico, t. I. p. 36.

+ The author may be very probably in the right; yet it is but an indifferent proof that the population of the whole kingdom has increased, because, in those places where shepherds have given place to agriculturists, the population has been rapidly increasing. By a similar mode of reasoning, it may be concluded that the population of Britain is on the decline, because the population of the highlands of Scotland, converted from agriculture to sheep farming, is on the decline. Trans. VOL. 1.


Politico-economical investigations, grounded on exact numbers, were very unusual in Spain even before Campomanes, and the minister Count Flo. rida Blanca. We are not then to be astonished that the archives of the viceroyalty of Mexico contain no enumeration before 1794, when the Count de Revillagigedo, one of the wisest and most active administrators, had resolution enough to undertake it. In the operations regarding the population of Mexico, by order of the viceroy Pedro Cebrian Count de Fuenclara, in 1742, the numbur of families only was estimated; and what has been preserved to us by Villa Señor is both incomplete and inaccurate. Those who know the difficulties of an enumeration in the most cultivated countries of Europe, who know that the economists assigned only eighteen millions of inhabitants to all France, and that it has been even recently disputed if the true population of Paris * were 500,000 or 800,000, will easily imagine what powerful obstacles are to be overcome in a country, where those who are employed are little skilled in such kind of statis:ical researches. Hence the viceroy Revillagigedo was unable to terminate his undertaking; and it appears that the enumeration was not completed in the two intend


* La population habituelle de cette grande capitale paroît être de 547,000 habitans. Peuchet, Stat. de la France, p. 93.

ancies of Guadalaxara and Vera Cruz, and in the small province of Cohahuila.

The following is a state of the population * of New Spain, from the notices transmitted by the intendants and governors of provinces to the vice. roy, previous to the 12th May, 1794:

Names of the intendancies and goverpinents in POPULATION which the enumeration was completed in of the intendo

ancies and go of the capitals 1793.

vernments. Mexico

1,162,806 112,926 Puebla .

560,443 52,717 Tlascala .

59,177 3,357 Oaxaca ,


19,069 Valladolid

289,314 17,093 Guanaxuato

397,924 32,098 San Luis Potosi

242,280 8,571 Zacatecas .

118,027 25,495 Durango .

122,866 11,027 Sonora

93,396 Nuevo Mexico

30,953 The two Californias

12,666 Yucatan

358,261 28,392


Total population of New Spain deduced from the enumeration of

1793 . . . 13,865,529. In a report to the king, Count de Revillagigedo estimated the intendancy of Guadalaxara at 485,000 Intendancy of Vera Cruz at 120,000 618,000 Province of Cohahuila at 13,000) Approximative result of the enumeration in 1793

. . 4,493,529inhabitants.

* I publish this state from a copy preserved in the ar- :: chives of the viceroy. I observed that other copies in circulation in the country contain different numbers; for example, 638,771 souls for the intendancy of la Puebla, including the ancient republic of Tlascala.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »