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month of November 1803, was nearly 4560 metres *.
The Sierra Nevada, or Iztaccihuatl, is only a few metres higher than Mount Blanc; but the Popocatepetl surpasses Mount-Blanc 625 metrest in height. Besides, the plain which extends from the city of Mexico to the foot of the volcanos is itself more elevated than the summit of Mountd'Or, and the famous passages of the lesser St. Bernard, Mount Cenis, Simplon, and the ports of Gavarnie and Cavarere.
It was between these two volcanos of la Puebla that Cortes passed with his troop and six thousand Tlascaltecs, on his first expedition against the city of Mexico. During this severe march, the valorous Diego Ordaz, to give the natives a proof of his courage, attempted to reach the summit of the Popocatepetl. Though he did not succeed in his under taking I, the emperor Charles V. gave him permission to enter a volcano in his coat of arms. I will not now agitate the question which is so often the subject of dispute at Mexico, namely, whether Francisco Montano, after the taking of the capital, in 1552, drew the sulphur employed in tbe fabrication of powder from the
* 14956 feet. Truns. † 2050 feet. Trans.
Cartas de Cortes, p. 318 and 350; Clavigero, III. p. 68, and 162.
crater of Popocatepetl, or from some lateral crevice.
X. PICTURESQUE VIEW OF THE PIC D'ORIZABA.
The Pic d'Orizaba, on the position of which Mr. Arrowsmith and other geographers have thrown so much confusion in their maps, is as celebrated among navigators as the Pic of Teneriffe, the Silla of Caraccas, the Table Mountain, or the Pic S. Elie. I have drawn it as it appears in the road from Xalappa to the village of Oatepec (Huatepeque', near the Barro de Santiago. From this station nothing is discovered but the part which is covered with perpetual snow. The first plane of my drawing is a thick forest of liquidambar styraciflua, melastomes, strawberry trees, and pipers. It is very remarkable that the two largest Mexican volcanios, the Popocatepetl and the Citlaltepetl, have both the crater inclined to the south-east. We find in general, that in the equino&ial region of New Spain the mountains decline most rapidly towards the gulf of Mexico, and that the ridges of rocks are most frequently directed from the N. W. to the S. E. For the better di tincti n of active from extinguished volcanos, I have ventured to add a small column of smoke to the drawings of the Pic d'Orizaba and the great volcano of Puebla, though I never observed any smuke either from Xalappa or Mexico.
M. Bompland and myself saw a mass of ashes and very dense vapours issue from the mouth of the Popocatepetl on the 24th January, 1804, in the plain of Tetimpa, near San Nicholas de los Ranchos, where we made a geodesical survey of the volcano. The Pic of Orizaba, called also by the Indians Pojauhtecatl or Zeuctepetl, had its strongest eruptions between 1545 and 1566.
Eight years before my arrival at Mexico M. Ferrer measured the Citlaltepetl, in taking angles of altitude at a great distance from the summit of the volcano, near l’Encero. He gives it, in a me. moir inserted in the transactions of the society of Philadelphia, the height of 5450 metres * My measurement makes it 155 metres t lower. This measurement was taken in a small plain near Xalappa, where the angle of elevation of the summit is only 30 43' 48". However, notwithstanding the extraordinary constancy of refractions in the tropics, and notwithstanding all the care which I took during the whole course of the expedition, I do not entertain the belief that I have been able to ascertain the height of a single American mountain, as accurately as the height of several moun. tains of Europe were ascertained by the geodesical operations of MM. Tralles, Delambre, Zach and Oriani. It is with these delicate operations, as with the chemical analysis of minerals; they are
* 17876 feet. Trans.
never executed with great precision, but when we enjoy complete tranquillity, and the leisure which a traveller can seldom find in distant climates.
XI. PLAN OF THE PORT OF ACAPULCO.
The commerce of New Spain has but two openings, the ports of Vera Cruz and Acapulco. By the former the commerce is carried on with Europe, the coast of Caraccas, the Havannah, the United States, and Jamaica. The latter is the central point of the South Sea and Asiatic commerce. It receives the vessels which come from the Philippine Islands, Peru, Guayaquil, Panama, and the north-west coast of North Ame. rica.
It would be difficult to find two harbours which exhibit so great a contrast. The port of Acapulco appears an immense basin, dug by the hand of man, while the port of Vera Cruz does not even deserve the name of road. It is a disagreeable anchorage among shallows.
The plan which I now give of the port of Acapulco was never published, though many copies of it exist in America. It was taken in 1791, by the officers embarked with Malaspina, in the corvettes Descubierta and Atrevida. I suppose that the drawing was executed in the Deposito Hydrografico of Madrid. This drawing agrees very well with another plan of Malaspina, of more than a metre * in length, which I examined at Acapulco while I was there in 1803.
The longitude which I assign to the port of Acapulco is greater than what is adopted in the Voyage of la Sutil and Mexicana to the Straits of Fuca. But according to a posterior memoir inserted in the almanack of Cadiz, the astronomers of the Deposito Hydrografico of Madrid now adopt a position for Acapulco much more western than mine. It is the same with what my chronometer gave,on reducing Acapulco to Mexico, and neglecting the lunar distances observed on the 27th and 28th of March, 1803.
M. Espinosa found Acapulco west from Paris, by transference of time from the port of San Blast, 102° 17' 21"; by two satellites of Jupiter, observ
* 39.371 inches. Trans.
+ It must be remarked, that the longitude of San Blas is only founded on two celestial observations, a satellite compared with the tables, and a lunar eclipse. The results of these two observations differ in an arc of 5' 45". The memoir of M. Espinosa affords an instructive example of the extreme prudence requisite in the use of the chronometer, if the chronometrical longitudes be not verified by other observations purely celestial. In Malaspina's' expedition, four of Arnold's chronometers gave to port Mulgrave, to within 9', the same longitude of 142° 38' 57"; and yet it has been proved by lunar distances that the true longitude is 142° 0' 27'. The four chronometers had all changed their diurnal motion at the same time.