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only to bear in mind, that notwithstanding the flourishing state of the Mexican mines, the king has never sold to the miners more than three or four thousand quintals of powder per annum*; while a single mine, that of Valenciana, requires from 15. to 16 hundred. It appears from the researches made by me, that the quantity of powder manufactured at the expence of the king, is to that sold fraudulently in the proportion of 1 to 4. As in the interior of New Spain, the nitrate of potash and şulphur are every where to be had in abundance, and the contraband manufactyrer can afford to sell powder to the miner at 18 sous tournois the pound, the government ought either to diminish the price of the produce of the manufactory, or throw the trade in powder entirely open. How is it · possible to prevent fraud in a country of an immense extent, in mines at a distance from towns, and dispersed on the ridge of the Cordilleras, in the midst of the wildest and most solitary situations ?
The royal manufactory of powder, the only one in Mexico, is situated near Santa Fe, in the valley of Mexico, about three leagues from the capital, surrounded with hills of argillous brescia, which contain fragments of trap por
* İn 1801, only 255,455 lb.; in 1802, 339,921 lb.-See p. 201 and 234 of this Volume.
phyry. The buildings, which are very beautiful, were, constructed in 1780 from the plans of M. Costanzo, the head of the corps of engineers, in a narrow valley which supplies in abundance the necessary water for setting hydraulical wheels in motion, and through which the aqueduct of Santa Fe passes. All the parts of the machines, and chiefly the wheels are disposed with great intelligence. It is to be wished however that the sieves necessary to make the grain, were either moved by water or by horses. Eighty mestizo boys, paid at the rate of 26 sous per day, are employed in this work. The buildings of the old powder manufactory, established near the castle of Chapultepec, are only used at present to refine nitrate of potash. Sulphur which abounds in the volcanoes of Orizaba and Puebla, in the province of San Luis near Colima, and especially in the intendancy of Guadalaxara, where the rivers bring down considerable masses of it, mixed with fragments of pumice stone, comes quite purified from the town of San Luis Potosi. There was made in the royal powder manufactory of Santa Fe in 1801, more than 786,000 pounds, of which part is exported for the Havannah. It is to be regretted that this fine edifice, where in general more than half a million of pounds of powder is preserved, is not provided with an electrical
conductor. During my stay in New Spain, there were only two conductors in that vast country, which were constructed at La Puebla by orders of an enlightened administrator, the Count de la Cadena, notwithstanding the imprecations of the Indians, and a parcel of ignorant monks.
While mentioning the powder manufactory of Santa Fe, I ought not to pass under silence a historical fact which is repeated in several works, although it rests on no very solid foundation. It is said that the valiant Diego Ordaz, penetrated the crater of the volcano of Popocatepetl, for the purpose of procuring sulphur, and by that means enabled the Spaniards to manufacture the powder which was required for the siege of the city of Mexico. The falsity of this assertion is proved by the very letters, which the general in chief addressed to the Emperor Charles the Fifth. When the united army of Spaniards and Tlascaltecs, in the month of October, 1519, marched from Cholula to Tenochtitlan, it crossed the Cordillera of Ahualco, which unites the Sierra Nevada, or the Iztaccihuatl, to the volcanic summit of Popocatipetl. The Spaniards followed nearly the same track, which the courier al Mexico takes in his way to Puebla, by Mecamera which is traced on the map of the valley of Tenochtitlan. The army suffered
both from the cold, and the extreme impetuosity of the winds, which constantly prevail on this table land. Cortez speaking of this march to the Emperor, expresses himself in the following manner* : “ Seeing smoke issue from a very elevated “ mountain, and wishing to make to your royal “ excellency a minute report of whatever this “ country contains of wonderful, I chose from “ among my companions in arms, ten of the “ most courageous, and I ordered them to as“ cend the summit, and to discover the secret " of the smoke (el secreto de aquel humo), and “ to tell me how and whence it issued.”.
Bernal Diaz affirms that Diego Ordaz was of that expedition, and that that captain attained the very brink of the crater. He may have happened to boast of it afterwards, for it is related by other historians, that the Emperor gave him permission to place a volcano in his arms. Lopez de Gomarat, who composed his history from the accounts of the conquistadores and religious missionaries, does not name Ordaz as the chief of the expedition; but he vaguely asserts that two Spaniards measured with the eye, the size of the crater. However Cortez expressly says, “ that his people “ ascended very high; that they saw much smoke
* Lorenzana, p. 70. Clavigero, T. iii. p. 68.
+ Gomara. Conquista de Mexico, (Medina del Campo, 553) fol. 38.
“ issue out; but that none of them could reach
the summit of the volcano, on account of " the enormous quantity of snow with which 6 it was covered, the rigour of the cold, and
the clouds of ashes which enveloped the "! travellers." A horrible noise which they heard on approaching the summit, determined them immediately to turn back. We see from the account of Cortez, that the expedition of Ordaz had no view of extracting sulphur from the volcano, and that neither be nor his companions saw the crater in 1519. “ They brought 66 back," says Cortez, “ only snow and pieces of «ice, the appearance of which astonished us very 6much, because this country is under the 20% “ of latitude, in the parallel of the island Es“ pañola (Saint Domingo), and consequently « according to the opinion of the pilots ought ch to be very warm.” - We see from the third and fourth letter of Cortez to the Emperor, that that general after the taking of Mexico, ordered other attempts to be made for the discovery of the summit of the volcano, which appeared the more to fix his attention, as the natives assured him that no mortal was permitted to approach that situation of bad spirits. After two unsuccesful attempts, the Spaniards at length succeeded in 1522, in seeing the crater of the Popocatepetl. It appeared to them three fourths of