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98 l POLITICAL ESSAY ON THE [soon ‘Iv.

in a memoir presented by the municipal body of
the town ‘of Valladolid de Mechoacan, to the king,

in the month of October 1805, on the occasion

of passing an edict, relative to the property of the

olergy. According to this memoir, a copy of
which I have before me, we must add to these

24- millions of piastres, three millions for

-the produce of cochineal, vanilla, jalap, pi-
mento of Tabasco; sarsaparilla which pay no
tithes; and 2 millions for sugar and indigo,

which yield only to the clergy a duty of
4< per cent. If we adopt these data, we
shall find that the total agricultural produce
amounts annually to 29 millions of piastres,

or to more than 14~5 millions of francs *,

which, reducing them to a natural measure,
and taking for basis the actual price of
wheat in Mexico, 15 francs for 10 myria-
grammes of wheat 1‘, are equal to 96 millions
ofmyriagr-ammes of wlzea§i The mass of pre-
cious metals annually extracted from the mines
of the kingdom of New Spain, scarcely represent
74< millions ry‘ myriagrammes of wheat, which
proves the interesting fact, that the value of the
gold and silver of the Mexican mines is bless,
by almost a fourth, than the value of the terri-

torial produce.

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The cultivation of the soil, notwithstanding the fetters with which it is every where shackled, has lately made a more considerable progress, on. account of the immense capitals laid out in land, by families enriched either by the commerce of Vera Cruzl and Acapulco, 01‘ by the working of the mines. The Mexican clergy scarcely possess land (bienes raices) to the value of two or three millions of piastres; but the capitals which couvents, chapters, reli

gious societies, an_d hospitals have laid opt in
lands o nt t h f i illions of

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pies res, or more .11. QT. H1. 90$ 0 1_v
tournois. The following edview of these
capitals, called capitales de y obras
dc la jurisdiccion ordinaria, extracted from an
oflicial paper * : '

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Piastres.
Archbishoprick of Mexico - - — - 9,000,000
Bishoprick of. Puebla, — - - - - 6,500,000
Bishoprick of |Valladolid (very accurate valuation) 4,500,000
Bishoprick of Guadalaxara - - - - 3,000,000
Bishopricks of Durango, Monterey, and Sonora 1,000,000 ‘
Bishop_ricks of Oaxaca and M erida -' - 2,000,000
Obras Pius of the regular Clergy - - - 2,500,000
Endowments of Churches and Communities of p
Monks and Nuns 1 } 16,000,000
44,500,000
.-;, " ~ ‘A-,,

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100 ' POLITICAL ESSAY on THE [noon XV

This immense sum in the hands of the land proprietors, (haciendados) and hypothecated on real property, was on the point of being withdrawn from the Mexican agriculture in 1804. The ministry of Spain not knowing how a national bankruptcy brought on by the superabun.

dance of {paper money (vales) could possibly

be avoided, ventured upon a very hazardous

operation. A royal decree was issued on the Qtith December 1804, appointing not only the estates of the\Mexican clergy to be sold, but also all the capitals belonging to ecclesiastics, to be recovered and sent into Spain, to be there applied in extinctionof the royal paper (cawa dc consolidacion dc wales reales). The council of finance, in which the viceroy presides, and which bears the title of Junta Superior de Real Hacienda, instead of opposing this decree, and representing to the Sovereign the injury which its execution would occasion to the agriculture and prosperity of the inhabitants, began boldlv to levy the money. The resistance however, was so strong on the part of the proprietors, that, from May 1805 to June 1806, not more than the comparatively small sum of 1,200,000 piastres could be recovered. It is to be hoped that Ministers, well informed as to the true interests of the state, will have since put an end to an operation, the fatal effects of which would have been at last severely felt.

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When we read the excellent work on agrarian laws, presented to the council of Castille in 1795 "‘, we perceive that notwithstanding the difference of climate and other local circum

stances, Mexican agriculture is fettered by the
same political causes which have impeded the
progress of industry in the,Peninsula. All the
vices. of the feudal governmenthave passed from
the one hemisphere to the other ; and in Mexico
these fabuses have been so much the more
dangerous in their. effects, as it has been more
diflicult to the supreme authority to remedy the
evil, and display its energy at an immense dis-
tance. The property of New Spain, like that
of Old Spain, is in a great measure in the hands
of a few powerful families, who have gradually
absorbed the smaller estates. In America, as
well as Europe, large commons arecondemrled
to the pasturage of cattle, and to_perpetual ste-
rility. V As to the clergy and their influence on
society, the;-two continents are not in the same
circumstances ; for the clergy are much less
numerous in Spanish America, thanin the ‘Pen-,
insula. The religious missionaries have there
contributed to extend _the progress of agricul-

ture arnopg barbarous tribes. The introduction

*M. de Laborde has given a translation of this Memoir, ‘in the fourth volume of his Itineraire descriptif de l'Espagne,, p. 10s_294. 1

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of mayorgggos, and the degradation and extreme
poverty of the Indians, are more prejudicial to
industry than the mortmain of the clergy. “

The ancient legislature of Castille prohibited
convents from possessing real property; and al-
though this wise law has been frequently in.
fringed, the clergy could not acquire very con-
siderable property in a country where devotion
does not exercise the same empire over the mind
as in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Since the sup-
pression of the order of the Jesuits, few estates
belong to the Mexican clergy; and their real
wealth, as we have already stated, consists in
tithes and capitals laid out on the farms of small
cultivators. ' These capitals are usefullydirected,
and increase the productive power of the national
labour. 4-

It is surprizing to see that the greatest number of the convents founded since the 16th cen. tury in every -part of Spanish America, are all crowded together ‘in towns. Had‘ they been spread throughout the country, and placed_ on the ridges of the Cordilleras, they might have possessed that salutary influence on cultivation, of which the efiects have been felt on the North of Europe, on the banks of the Rhine, and on the mountains of the Alps. Those who have studied ‘history, know that in the timeiof Philip the Second, the monks were no longer like those of the 9th century. The luxury of towns, and

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