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" of a maritime war haye fettered the commerce “ of Vera Cruz, so that its activity was much “ less than it was in the former year.”
Vera Cruz, 28th of January,
From these tables of the commerce of Vera Cruz published by the Consulado, on adding the goods imported on account of government to those which are the object of mercantile speculation, we find,
of Vera Cruz.
Exportation | 57,947,000 304,221,750 20,922,000
|(9,147,000 48,021,750 5,368,000
109,840,500 81,658,500 28,182,000/ 120,618,750
Total commerce 82,047,000*/ 430,746,750 43,897,000+1 230,459,250
The one of these years exhibits an extraordinary commercial activity, because after a long maritime war, Europe began to enjoy the benefits of peace; and the other presents a less brilliant view, because from the month of June the dread of an approaching war put a stop to the exportation of the precious metals and agricultural produce of New Spain.
- * £16,856,870 ster. Trans.
† 69,218,370 ster. Trans.
The Consulado of Vera Cruz counts among its members men equally distinguished for their knowledge and their patriotic zeal. It acts both as a court of Justice (tribunal) in disputed commercial cases, and as an administrative council entrusted with the maintenance of the port and roads, hospitals, the police of the town, and whatever relates to the progress of commerce. This council is composed of a prior, two consuls, an assessor, a syndic and nine councillors. They decide litigious causes gratis on verbal declarations, and without any intervention of lawyers. To the activity of the Consulado of Vera Cruz we owe the undertaking of the road of Perote; which in 1803 cost per league more than 480,000 francs*, the amelioration of the hospitals, and the construction of a beautiful giratory light-house, executed: after the plan of the celebrated astronomer, M., Mendoza y Rios, at London. . This light-house consists of a very elevated tower, placed at the extremity of the castle of San Juan d'Ulia, which with the lantern cost nearly half a million of francst. The lamps with a current of air and furnished with reflectors, are fixed on a triangle which turns by means of clock work, so, that the light disappears whenever the machine pre
* £ 19,200 Sterling. Trans.
sents one of its sharp angles to the entry of the port. At my departure from Vera Cruz, the Consulado were occupied with two new projects of equal utility, the supplying the town with potable water, and the construction of a mole, which advancing in the form of a pier may resist the shock of the waves. We had occasion to examine the former of these projects when treating of the dike of the Rio de Xamapa*. . In all parts of Spanish America there is a decided antipathy between the inhabitants of the plains or warm regions, and the inhabitants of the table land of the Cordilleras. The European traveller is forcibly struck with this antipathy, whether he ascends the river Magdalen for Carthagena at Santa Fe de Bogota, or climbs the chain of the Andes in his way from Guayaquil to Quito, from Piura and Truxillo to Caxamarca, or from Vera Cruz to the capital of Mexico. The inhabitants of the coast accuse the mountaineers of coldness and want of vivacity; and the inhabitants of the table land reproach those of the coast with levity and inconstancy in their undertakings. One would almost say that nations of a different origin have settled in the same province; for a small extent of ground unites besides the climate and productions all the
* See Vol. II. p. 266.
national prejudices of the north and south of Europe. These prejudices nourish the rivalry which we observe between the merchants of México and Vera Cruz. ' Near to the seat of government, the former know how to avail themselves of their central position. A viceroy who arrives in New Spain, finds himself placed among the different parties of the lawyers, clergy, proprietors of mines, and the merchants of Vera Cruz and Mexico. Each party aims at rendering its adversaries suspected, by accusing them of a restless and innovating disposition, and a secret desire of independence and political liberty. Unhappily the mother country has hitherto believed its security consisted in the internal dissensions of the colonies : and far from quieting individual animosities, it saw with satisfaction the origin of that rivalship between the natives and the Spaniards, between the whites who inhabit the coast and those who are fixed on the table land of the interior.
If the port of Vera Cruz, although it presents but a bad anchorage among sand banks annually receives four or five hundred vessels, the port of Acapulco* which is one of the finest in the known world, on the other hand scarcely receives the number of ten. The commercial
* See Vol. I. p. 85, and Vol. II. p. 186.
activity of Acapulco is confined to the Manilla galeon, known by the improper name of China ship (nao), to the coasting trade with Guatimala, Zacatula, and San Blas, and to four or five vessels annually dispatched to Guayaquil and Lima. The distance from the coast of China, the monopoly of the Philippine company, and the extreme difficulty of ascending against the current and winds towards the coast of Peru, impede the commerce of the western part of Mexico. .
The port of Acapulco forms an immense basi cut in granite rocks open towards the south south west, and possessing from east to west more than 6,000 metres in breadth*. I have seen few situations in either hemisphere of a more savage aspect, I would say at the same time more dismal and more romantic. The masses of rocks bear in their form a strong resemblance to the dentilated crest of Montserrat in Catalonia. They are composed of granite of a large grain like that of Fichtelberg and Carlsbad in Germany. This granite is stratified, but the banks are irregularly inclined, sometimes to the south and sometimes to the south east. This rocky coast is so steep that a vessel of the line may almost touch it without running the smallest danger, because there is every where from 10 to 12 fathoms water.
** 19,685 feet.