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Indians are not only accustomed to live on their flesh, when in want of the buffalo, but they also use them in their warlike excursions. In the same manner as maize is cultivated by several African tribes who are totally ignorant of the manner in which they acquired that plant, the horse is at present found in a domestic state to the north of the sources of the Missouri among several Indian tribes who never before the expedition of Captain Clarke, had had any communication with the whites. Fortunately for the colonists of Sonora and New Mexico, the use of fire arms, 0 common among the savages of eastern Canada, has not yet spread among the Indians in the neighbourhood of the Rio del Norte.
The Mexican troop of the presidios is exposed to continual fatigues. The soldiers of which it is composed are all natives of the northern part of Mexico. They are tall and very robust mountaineers, equally accustomed to the rigors of winter, and the heat of the sun in summer. Constantly under arms, they pass their lives on horseback, and perform marches of eight or ten days through deserts, with no other provisions than the flour of maize, which they mix with water when they come to a spring or a marsh on VOL. IV.
the road. I have been assured by, intelligent officers, that it would be difficult to find in Europe a troop of greater activity in its motions, more impetuous in battle, and more accustomed to privations than the cavalry of the presidios. If this cavalry cannot always prevent the incursions of the Indians, it is because they have to do with an enemy who with the utmost address know how to avail themselves of the smallest inequalities of ground, and who have been accustomed for ages to all the stratagems of petty warfare.
The provincial militia of New Spain, of which the force amounts to more than twenty thousand men, is better armed than that of Peru, which for want of fire arms is in part obliged to exercise with wooden muskets. The formation of militia in the Spanish Colonies is not owing to the military spirit of the nation, but to the vanity of a small number of families, the heads of which aspire to the titles, of Colonels, and Brigadiers. The distribution of patentsand military rank has become a fertile source of revenue, not so much to the government as to those administrators who possess great influence with the ministry. The rage for titles, by which the beginning and decline of civilization is every where characterised, has rendered this traffic extremely
lucrative. In travelling over the chain of the Andes, one is surprized to see on the ridge of the mountains, in small provincial towns all the merchants transformed into colonels, captains, and serjeant majors of militia. As the rank of colonel gives the tratamiento, or the title of Señoria*, which is repeated incessantly in familiar conversation, we may conceive that it contributes the more to the happiness of domestic life, and the creoles make the greatest sacrifices of fortune to obtain it. Sometimes these militia officers are to be seen in full uniform, and decorated with the royal order of Charles III., gravely sitting in their shops, and entering into the most trifling detail in the sale of their goods. They display a singular mixture of ostentation and simplicity of manners, at which the European trą. veller is not a little astonished.
'Till the period of the independence of the United States of North America, the Spanish government never thought of increasing the number of troops in the Colonies. The first colonists in the New Continent were soldiers; the first generations knew no profession more honourable and lucrative than that of arms; and from this military enthusiasm, the Spaniards displayed an energy of character, inferior to * La Senoria, V. S., vulgarly ussia.
nothing in the history of the crusades. When the subjected Indian bore with patience the yoke imposed on him, and when they became tranquil possessors of the treasures of Peru and Mexico, the colonists were no longer tempted by new conquests, and the warlike spirit insensibly declined. From that period, a peaceful rural life was preferred to the tumult of arms; the fertility of the soil, the abundance of subsistence, and the beauty of the climate, contributed to soften the manners of the people; and the same countries which in the first part of the sixteenth century, presented nothing but the afflicting spectacle of wars and pillage, enjoyed under the Spanish dominion a peace of two centuries and a half.
The internal tranquillity of Mexico has been rarely disturbed since the year 1596, when, under the viceroyship of the Count de Monterey, the power of the Castillians was secured from the peninsula of Yucatan, and the gulph of Tehuantepec, to the sources of the Rio del Norte, to the coast of New California. Disturbances among the Indians took place in 1601, 1609, 1624, and 1692; in the last of these commotions, the palace of the viceroy, the residence of the mayor, and the public prisons, were burned by the Indians; and the Cuint de Galve * the viceroy, found security
* Don Gaspar de Sandoval, Conde de Galve.
only in the protection of the monks of Saint Francis. Notwithstanding these disturbances occasioned by the want of subsistence, the Court of Madrid did not think it necessary to increase the military force of New Spain. In those times, when the union was closer between the Mexican and European Spaniards, the suspicions of the Mother Country were solely directed against the Indians and mestizoes. The number of white creoles was so small, that on that very account, they were generally induced to make a common cause with the Europeans. To that state of things we are to attribute the tranquillity of the Spanish Colonies, at the period when the possession of Spain was disputed by foreign princes on the death of Charles the Second. The Mexicans, governed at that period, first by a descendant of Montezuma, and afterwards by an Archbishop of Mechoacan, remained tranquil spectators of the great struggle between the houses of France and Austria ; the Colonies patiently followed the fortune of the Mother Country; and the successors of Philip the Fifth, only began to dread the spirit of independence, which was manifested in New England in 1643*, when a great confederation of free states was formed in North America.
* Robertson, Vol. iv, p. 307.