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a league in circumference, and they found on the brink of the precipice, a small quantity of sulphur, which had been deposited there by the vapours. Speaking of the tin of Tasco, which was used in founding the first cannon, Cortez* relates, “ that he is in no want of “ sulphur for the manufacture of powder, be“ cause a Spaniard drew some from a moun“ tain which perpetually smokes by descending, " tied to a rope, to the depth of from 70 to “ 80 fathoms.” He adds, that this manner of procuring sulphur was very dangerous, and on that account it would be better to procure it from Seville. · A document preserved in the family of the Montaños, and which Cardinal Lorenzana affirms he once had in his hands, proves that the Spaniard of whom Cortez speaks, was named Francisco Montaño. Did that intrepid man really enter into the crater itself of the Popocatepetl, or did he extract the sulphur as several persons in Mexico. suppose, from a lateral crevice of the volcano? We shall discuss this question in another work, when giving the geological description of New Spain. M. Alzatet
* De alli (de la sierra que da humo), entrando un Español setenta y ochenta brazas, atado a la bocca abajo, se ha sacado (el azufre), que hasta ahora nos hemos sustenido, Loranzana, p. 380.) + Gazeta de Literatura de Mexico, 1789, p. 52.
with very little foundation affirms that Diego Ordaz, extracted sulphur from the crater of the old volcano of Tuctli, to the east of the lake of Chalco, near the Indian village of Tuliahualco. The makers of contraband powder no doubt procure sulphur there; but Cortez expressly designates the Popocatepetl by the phrase “ the “ mountain which constantly smokes.” However this matter be, it is certain that after the rebuilding of the city of Tenochtitlan, and not during the siege as Solis affirms*, the soldiers of the army of Cortez ascended the summit of the Popocatepetlt, where nobody has since been. Had Condaminet known the absolute elevation of this volcano, which I found to be 5400 metress, he would not have, believed himself the first who ascended the ridge of the Cordilleras, to the height of 4800 metres! above the level of the ocean. The expeditions of Ordaz and Montaño, naturally lead us to mention the intrepidity of Blas de Iñena a Dominican monk, who in an osier basket provided with a spoon and an iron bucket, was let down by a chain to the depth of 140 fa
* Solis, Conquista de Mexico, p. 142. + Lorenzand, p. 318.
| Bouguer, mesure de la terre, p. 167. La Condamine, Voyage, p. 58.
§ 17,716 feet. Trans. n 15,747 feet. Trans
x11.] KINGDOM OF NEW. SPAIN. 477 thoms, in the crater of the volcano of Grenada, called the Cerro de Messaya, situated near the lake of Nicaragua, for the purpose of extracting the lava which he believed to be gold, He lost his iron bucket, which was melted with the excessive heat, and he had no small difficulty in saving himself. In 1551, Juan Alvarez, dean of the chapter of the town of Leon, obtained formal permission* from the court of Madrid “to open the volcano, and collect “the gold which it contains.” It must be allowed that no physical traveller from a zeal for science has engaged in our days in such hazardous enterprizes as those which were attempted in the beginning of the sixteenth century for the purpose of extracting sulphur or gold from the mouth of flaming volcanoes.
We shall conclude the article of the manufactures of New Spain with mentioning the working of gold and the coining of money which considered merely in the relation of industry, and mechanical improvement, are objects every way worthy of attention. There are few countries in which a more considerable number of large pieces of wrought plate, vases and church ornaments are apr in Mexico. The smallest towns have gold and silver smiths in whose shops workmen of
* Gomara, Historia de las Indias, fol. 112.
all casts, whites, mestizoes and Indians are employed. The academy of fine arts, and the schools for drawing in Mexico and Xalapa have very much contributed to diffuse a taste for beautiful antique forms. Services of plate to the value of a hundred and fifty, or two hundred thousand francs, have been lately manufactured at Mexico, which for elegance and fine workmanship may rival the finest work of the kind ever executed in the most civilized parts of Europe. The quantity of precious metals which between 1798 and 1802 was converted into plate at Mexico, amounted at an average to 385 marcs of gold and 26,803 marcs of silver per annum *. The wrought plate of which the fifth is exacted, was declared at the mint as follows:
* Castille weight. It may be useful to observe, that wherever the contrary is not expressly ndicated the word marc in this work means the marc of Castille.
The mint of Mexico, which is the largest and richest in the whole world, is a building of a very simple architecture belonging te the palace of the viceroys. This establishment; under the direction of the Marquis de San Roman * an enlightened administrator, and a friend to the arts, contains little or nothing remarkable with respect to the improvement of the machinery or chemical processes; but it well deserves to engage the attention of travellers from the order, activity and economy which prevail in all the operations, of coining, This interest is enhanced by other considera. tions which are even obvious to those who do not turn their attention to speculations of political administration. In fact it is imposé sible to go over this small building without recollecting that more than ten thousand millions of livres tournois † has issued from it in less than three hundred years, and without reflecting on the powerful influence of these treasures on the destinies of the nations of Europe,
The mint of Mexico was established fourteen years after the destruction of old Tenochtitlan, under the first viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, by à royal cedula of the
* Vez Superintendente de ta real casa de moneda. # Upwards of £408,000,000 Sterling. Trans.