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embarked on the Rio Huasacualco were subject. This duty was known by the absurd denomination of hot-country duty (derecho de tierra caliente). I have thought it important to publish in the greatest detail every thing relative to the projected communications between the two seas. The topography of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is altogether unknown in Europe; and from authorities which I have quoted, we cannot doubt that this point of the globe deserves no less the attention of government than the Rio Chamaluzon, the Lake of Nicaragua, the Isthmus of Panama, the Bay of Cupica, and the ravin de la Raspadura at Choco.
The foreign commerce of New Spain, from the position of the coasts, is naturally composed of the commerce of the South Sea, and that of the Atlantic Ocean.. The ports on the eastern coast are Campeche, Huasacualco, Vera Cruz, Tampico, and Nuevo Santander; if we may give the name of ports to roads surrounded with shallows, or mouths of rivers shut by bars, and presenting a very slight shelter from the fury of the north winds. We have already in the third chapter * detailed the physical causes which givea particular character to the Mexican coast opposite to Europe. We have also spoken of the fruitless endeavours which have been made since 1524, to discover a safer port than
* Vol. i. p. 80.
Vera Cruz. The Fast shore which stretches from Vnero Santander to the north and north west, is still very little known, and we may repeat in our days, what Cortez wrote to the emperor Charles the 5th, three years after the taking of Tenochtitlan, “ that there remains to be discovered the secret of the coast which extends fromn the Rio de Panuco to Florida *.”
For centuries, almost all the maritime commerce of New Spain has been concentrated at Vera Cruz. When we bestow a glance on the chart of that port, we see that the pilots of Cortei's squadron were right in comparing the port of Vera Cruz to a pierced bag. The Island of Sacrifices, near which the vessels remain in guarantine, and the sandbanks of Arecife del Medio, Isla Verde, Anegada de dentro, Blanguilla, Galleguilla and Gallega, form with the continent between the Punta Gorda, and the small cape Mocombo, a sort of creek, which is open to the north west; and when the north winds (los nortes) blow with all their force, the vessels at anchor before the castle of San Juan d'Ulua, lose their anchors and are driven to the east. After getting out of the channel which separates the Island of Sacrifices from the Isla Verde, they are in 24 hours driven by the winds as far as the port of Campeche. Eighteen years
* Cartas de Cortez, p. 340 and 382.
ago, la Castilla, a ship of the line, moored by nine cables to the bastion of the castle of Ulua, tore off in a tempest, the bronze rings which were fixed to the wall of the bastion; and it struck on the coast, in the very port, near the sand bank of los Hornos, to the west of the Punta Mocambo. It was by an extraordinary fatality, in this vessel, that the great quadrant was lost, which was used in the observations of the unfortunate Chappe, and which was re-demanded by the Academy of Sciences of Paris, to verify its divisions. The good anchorage in the port of Vera Cruz is between the castle of Ulua, the town, and the sand banks of La Lavandera. Near the castle we find six fathoms water; but the channel by which the port is entered, is hardly four fathoms in depth, and 380 metres * in breadth.
The principal objects of exportation at Vera Cruz are according to the declarations at the customs, taking an average of several years of peace : Gold and silver in ingots, or converted into
coin or wrought plate, to the value of seven
teen millions of piastrest. Cochineal (grana, granilla, and polvos de
grana) nearly four thousand zurrones, or four hundred thousand kilogrammes, to the value
of two millions four hundred thousand pi
astres*. Sugar, five millions and a half of kilo
grammes, one million, three hundred thousand
piastres t. Flour, to the value of three hundred thousand
piastres 1. Mexican indigo, eighty thousand kilogram
mes, value two hundred and eighty thousand
piastres g. Salted provisions, dry legumes, and other
eatables, one hundred thousand piastres ||. Tanned hides, eighty thousand piastres q. Sarsaparilla, ninety thousand piastres ** Vanilla, sixty thousand piastres ft. Jalap, one hundred and twenty thousand
kilogrammes, sixty thousand piastres II. Soap, fifty thousand piastres $ $. Campeachy wood, forty thousand piastres || 11
* & 504,000 Sterling. Trans.
9 € 16,800 Sterling. Trans.
Pimento of Tabasco, thirty thousand pi
The indigo of Guatimala, and the cocoa of Guayaquil, are in time of war very important objects for the commerce of Vera Cruz. We do not name them however, in this table, because we wished to confine it to the indigenous productions of New Spain.
The importation of Vera Cruz includes the following articles : linen and cotton, and woollen cloth, and silks, (ropas) to the value of nine millions, two hundred thousand piastres f. Paper, three hundred thousand reams, a mil
lion of piastres I. Brandy, thirty thousand hogsheads, (barri
ques), a million of piastres. Cocoa, eighty thousand fanegas, a million of
piastres. Mercury, eight hundred thousand kilogram
mes, six hundred and fifty thousand piastres $. Iron, two millions and a half of kilogrammes,
six hundred thousand piastres ll. Steel, six hundred thousand kilogrammes,
two hundred thousand piastres .
* £6,900 Sterling. Trans.