Travels in North America, From Modern Writers
by William Bingley
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The difficulties of the navigation made it expedient for them to leave the canoes at some distance below the junction of the Columbia with Lewis's river, after which they prosecuted their journey on horseback. Proceeding in an easterly direction, they arrived, on the seventh of May, within sight of the Rocky Mountains, and saw the tops of these mountains completely covered with snow. Anxious, however, to cross them as early as they could, they lost no time in recovering their horses from the Chopunnish Indians, and in extracting their stores from the hiding places in the ground. Still it was necessary for them to encamp for a few weeks, that they might occupy themselves in hunting, and that the health of the invalids might be reinstated.

Here Captains Lewis and Clarke practised physic among the natives, as one means of supplying themselves with provisions. Their stock of merchandise was reduced so low, that they were obliged to cut off the buttons from their clothes, and to present them, with phials and small tin boxes, as articles of barter with the Indians; and, by means of these humble commodities, they were enabled to procure some roots and bread, as provision during their passage over the Rocky Mountains, which they commenced on the tenth of June.

Towards the middle of June the fall of the rivers showed that the great body of snow on the mountains was at last melted; and they ventured to leave their encampment, against the advice of several of the Indians. They, however, soon found that they had been premature in their motions; for, on the higher grounds, there was no appearance whatever of vegetation. The snow, which covered the whole country, was indeed sufficiently hard to bear the horses, but it was still ten or twelve feet deep; so that a further prosecution of their journey was, at present, impossible; and the travellers, after having deposited, in this upper region, their baggage, and such provisions as they could spare, reluctantly traced back their steps to the plain. There they remained ten days; and, on the 26th, they again began to ascend the lofty ridge; the snow on which had, in the interval, melted nearly four feet, leaving still a depth of six or seven. They now implicitly followed the steps of their guides, who traversed this trackless region with a kind of instinctive sagacity: these men never hesitated respecting the path, and were never embarrassed. In three days they once more reached the stream which, in their former journey, they had named Traveller's Rest Creek.

Here Captains Lewis and Clarke agreed to separate, for the purpose of taking a more comprehensive survey of the country in their journey homeward. It was considered desirable to acquire a further knowledge of the Yellow-stone, a large river which flows from the south-west, more than one thousand miles before it reaches the Missouri; and it was of importance to ascertain, more accurately than they had hitherto done, the course of Maria's river.

The separation took place on the 3d of July; and Captain Lewis, holding on an eastern course, crossed a large stream which flowed towards the Columbia, and which had already been named Clarke's river. On the 18th of July he came to Maria's river, the object of his search; and he continued for several days, his route along its northern bank. After having ascertained the course of this river, he again set out on his journey homeward, that he might not lose the opportunity of returning before the winter.

He and his companions were only four in number; and, in one part of their journey, they had an alarming intercourse with a party of Indians. Not very long after this they embarked on the Missouri; and, with the aid of their oars and the current, they proceeded at the rate of between sixty and eighty miles a day. On the 7th of August they reached the mouth of the Yellow-stone river, the place of rendezvous, appointed with Captain Clarke. Here, by a note stuck upon a pole, they were informed that he had accomplished his voyage along that river, and would wait for them lower down the Missouri.

Captain Clarke, on quitting the central encampment at Traveller's Rest Creek, had marched in a southerly direction, and had traversed a distance of one hundred and sixty-four miles, to the head of Jefferson's river. This journey was performed, on horseback, and in six days, over a country by no means difficult; so that, in future, the passage of this elevated region will be divested of a considerable portion of its terrors. He also discovered that the communication between the Upper Missouri and the Yellow-stone river, was attended with little trouble; for Gallatin's river, one of the tributary streams of the Missouri, approaches within eighteen miles of the Yellow-stone, and, at a place, where the latter is completely navigable.

Being unable to find wood of sufficient magnitude for the formation of canoes, Captain Clarke and his men were obliged to proceed on horseback, about one hundred miles down the side of this river. At length they succeeded in constructing boats, and sailed down the remainder of this stream with great rapidity. On the 27th, at the distance of two hundred miles from the Rocky Mountains, they beheld that elevated region for the last time. The Yellow-stone being easy of navigation, they reached the place of rendezvous earlier than they had expected.

The whole party being now assembled below the conflux of the Yellow-stone and Missouri rivers, they prosecuted the remainder of their voyage together; experiencing, in the prospect of home, and in the ease with which they descended the river, a compensation for all their fatigues; and receiving the visits of various tribes of Indians who resided upon its banks.

The greatest change which was experienced by them, in their southward progress, was that of climate. They had passed nearly two years, in a cool, open country, and they were now descending into wooded plains, eight or ten degrees further to the south, but differing in heat much more than is usual in a correspondent distance in Europe. They were likewise greatly tormented by musquitoes.

On landing at La Charrette, the first village on this side of the United States, they were joyfully received by the inhabitants, who had long abandoned all hopes of their return. On the 23d of September they descended the Mississippi to St. Louis, which place they reached about noon; having, in two years and nine months, completed a journey of nearly nine thousand miles.

* * * * *

At St. Louis we shall resume the narrative of Mr. Pike, who, in the month of July, 1806, set out from that place on an expedition westward, through the immense territory of Louisiana, towards New Spain. The chief objects of this expedition were to arrange an amicable treaty between the Americans and Indians of this quarter; and to ascertain the direction, extent, and navigation, of two great rivers, known by the names of Arkansaw and Red River.

Eighteenth Day's Instruction.


Narrative of Mr. Pike's Journey from St. Louis, through Louisiana, to Santa Fe, New Spain.

The party engaged in this expedition, were Mr. Pike and another lieutenant, a surgeon, a serjeant, two corporals, sixteen private soldiers, and one interpreter. They had, under their charge, some chiefs of the Osage and Pawnee nations, who, with several women and children, had been redeemed from captivity, and now, to the number of fifty-one, were about to be restored to their friends.

They set out from St. Louis on the 15th of July, 1806, and proceeded, in two boats, up the Missouri. About six miles from the village of St. Charles, they passed a hill of solid coal, so extensive that it would probably afford fuel sufficient for the whole population of Louisiana.

Mr. Pike says that, every morning, he was awaked by the lamentations of the savages who accompanied him. These invariably began to cry about day-light, and continued to do so for an hour. On enquiry respecting this practice, he was informed that it was customary, not only with persons who had recently lost their friends; but also with others who called to mind the loss of some friend, dead long before. They seemed to be extremely affected: tears ran down their cheeks, and they sobbed bitterly; but, when the hour was expired, they, in a moment, ceased their cries, and dried their cheeks.

In their progress up the river, the Indians walked along the banks, and, every night, encamped near the boats. On the 28th the boats reached the mouth of the Osage river. For some distance the southern shore of the Missouri had been hilly, and covered with trees; and on the north were low bottoms and heavy timber. The soil was rich, and well adapted for cultivation.

They entered the Osage, and encountered few difficulties in their voyage up that river. From the shores, the hunters amply supplied the whole party with provisions; deer, turkeys, geese, and game of different kinds.

From the mouth of the Osage to that of the Gravel river, a distance of one hundred and eighteen miles, the banks of the former are covered with timber, which grows in a rich soil. Low hills, with rocks, alternately border the eastern and western shores: the lower grounds have excellent soil, and the whole adjacent country abounds in game. From the Gravel-river to the Yungar, the Osage continues to exhibit the appearance of a fertile and well-timbered country.

The Indians joined their friends on the 15th, after which Mr. Pike and his party proceeded alone. On the ensuing day they passed the mouth of the Grand Fork, which was nearly as wide as the Osage; and, soon afterwards, reached the villages of the Osage Indians. The country adjacent to these villages is extremely beautiful. Three branches of the river wind round them, giving to their vicinity the advantages of wood and water, and, at the same time, those of an extensive prairie, crowned with rich and luxuriant grass and flowers, diversified by rising swells and sloping lawns.

The Osage Indians, in language, habits, and many of their customs, differ little from other tribes which inhabit the country near the Missouri and Mississippi. They raise great quantities of corn, beans, and pumpkins; and all the agricultural labour is performed by women. The government is vested in a few of the chiefs, whose office is, in most instances, hereditary; but these never undertake any affair of importance, without first assembling the warriors, and proposing the subject for discussion in council. The Osage Indians are divided into classes: those of the principal class are warriors and hunters; and the others are cooks and doctors. The last exercise the function of priests or magicians; and, by pretended divinations, interpretations of dreams, and magical performances, they have great influence in the councils of the nation: they also exercise the office of town-criers. Many old warriors assume the profession of cooks: these do not carry arms, and are supported by the public, or by particular families to which they are attached.

When a stranger enters the Osage village, he is received, in a patriarchal style, at the lodge of the chief. He is then invited, by all the great men of the village, to a feast. The cooks proclaim the feast, in different parts of the village, "Come and eat: such a one gives a feast, come and partake of his bounty." The dishes are generally boiled sweet corn, served up in buffalo grease; or boiled meat and pumpkins.

From the Osage villages, Mr. Pike, and his men, accompanied by several Indians, proceeded, on horseback, in a somewhat westerly direction, towards the river Arkansaw. In some places the country was hilly, and commanded beautiful prospects. The wild animals were so numerous, that Mr. Pike, standing on one of the hills, beheld, at a single view, buffaloes, elks, deer, and panthers. Beyond this they passed through numerous herds of buffaloes, elks, and other animals. In many places the country was very deficient in water.

On the 17th of September they reached a branch of the Kanzes river, the water of which was strongly impregnated with salt, as was that of many of the creeks. At some distance beyond this river, they were met by a party of Pawnee Indians; one of whom wore a scarlet coat, and had two medals: each of the others had a buffalo robe thrown over his naked body.

From the eastern branch of the Kanzes river, to the village of the Pawnee Indians, the prairies are low, the grass is high, the country abounds in saline places, and the soil appears to be impregnated with particles of nitre and of common salt. The immediate borders of the river near the village, consist of lofty ridges; but this is an exception to the general appearance of the country.

The Pawnees reside on the rivers Platte and Kanzes. They are divided into three tribes. Their form is slender, and their cheeks bones are high. They are neither so brave nor so honest as their more northern neighbours. Their government, like that of the Osage Indians, is an hereditary aristocracy; but the power of the chiefs is extremely limited. They cultivate the soil and raise corn and pumpkins: they also breed horses, and have vast numbers of excellent animals. The houses or huts of the Pawnees are circular, except at the part where the door is placed; and, from this part, there is a projection of about fifteen feet. The roofs are thatched with grass and earth, and have, at the top, an aperture for the smoke to pass out: the fire is always made on the ground, in the middle of the hut. In the interior there are, round the walls, many small and neat apartments, constructed of wicker-work: these are the sleeping places of the different members of the family. The Pawnees are extremely addicted to gaming, and have, for that purpose, a smooth piece of ground, about one hundred and fifty yards in length, cleared at each end of their village.

On Monday, the 29th of September, Mr. Pike held a grand council with the Pawnees; at which were present not fewer than four hundred warriors. Some attempts were made, by the chief, to prevent the further progress of the travellers; but Mr. Pike says, that they were not to be deterred by any impediments that could be opposed to them by a band of savages.

Proceeding onward they came to several places which had evidently been occupied by Spanish troops; and they were desirous of tracing the course along which these troops had marched; but the marks of their footsteps had been effaced by the numerous herds of buffaloes, which abound in this part of the country.

On the 18th of October, the travellers crossed the Arkansaw. From the Pawnee town, on the Kanzes river, to the Arkansaw, the country may be termed mountainous; and it contains a vast number of buffaloes. In the vicinity of this river it is, in many places, low and swampy.

The travellers were occupied several days in cutting down trees and constructing canoes. During this time the hunters killed several buffaloes, elks, and other animals. When the canoes were completed, Mr. Pike dispatched Lieutenant Wilkinson, and three men, down the river, with letters to the United States; and himself and the rest of his men proceeded, on horseback, up the side of the river. On the 29th of October, a considerable quantity of snow fell, and ice floated along the current. Three days after this, they observed a numerous herd of wild horses. When within about a quarter of a mile of them, the animals approached, making the earth tremble, as if under a charge of cavalry. They stopped; and, among them, were seen some beautiful bays, blacks, and greys, and, indeed, horses of all colours. The next day the party endeavoured to catch some of them, by riding up, and throwing nooses over them. The horses stood, neighing and whinnying, till the assailants approached within thirty or forty yards; but all attempts to ensnare them were vain.

Buffaloes were so numerous, that Mr. Pike says he is confident there were, at one time, more than three thousand within view. Through all the region which the party had hitherto traversed, they had not seen more than one cow-buffalo; but now the whole face of the country appeared to be covered with cows. Numerous herds of them were seen nearly every day.

The course of the travellers still lay along the banks of the river; which, in this part of the country, were covered with wood on both sides; but no other species of trees were observed than cotton-wood. On the 15th of November, a range of mountains was seen, at a great distance, towards the right: they appeared like a small blue cloud; and the party, with one accord, gave three cheers, to what they considered to be the Mexican mountains.

On the 22d, a great number of Indians were seen in the act of running from the woods, towards the strangers. Mr. Pike and his men advanced to meet them; and observing that those in front, extended their hands, and appeared to be unarmed, he alighted from his horse. But he had no sooner done this, than one of the savages mounted the horse, and rode off with it. Two other horses were taken away in a similar manner; but, when tranquillity was restored, these were all afterwards recovered. This was a war-party of the Grand Pawnees, who had been in search of an Indian nation called Jetans; but, not finding them, they were now on their return. They were about sixty in number, armed partly with guns, and partly with bows, arrows, and lances. An attempt was made to tranquillize them, by assembling them in a circle, offering to smoke with them the pipe of peace, and presenting them with tobacco, knives, fire-steels, and flints. With some difficulty they were induced to accept these presents, for they had demanded many more; and, when the travellers began to load their horses, they stole whatever they could carry away.

A few days after this, Mr. Pike and his men reached the Blue Mountain, which they had seen on the 15th; and, with great difficulty, some of them ascended it. Along the sides, which were, in many places, rocky, and difficult of ascent, grew yellow and pitch pine-trees, and the summit was several feet deep in snow.

From the entrance of the Arkansaw into the mountains, to its source, it is alternately bounded by perpendicular precipices, and small, narrow prairies. In many places, the river precipitates itself over rocks, so as to be at one moment visible only in the foaming and boiling of its waters, and at the next disappearing in the chasms of the overhanging precipices. The length of this river is one thousand nine hundred and eighty-one miles, from its junction with the Mississippi to the mountains; and thence to its source one hundred and ninety-two; making its total length two thousand one hundred and seventy-three miles. With light boats it is navigable all the way to the mountains. Its borders may be termed the terrestrial paradise of the wandering savages. Of all the countries ever visited by civilized man, there probably never was one that produced game in greater abundance than this.

By the route of the Arkansaw and the Rio Colorado of California, Mr. Pike is of opinion that a communication might be established betwixt the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The land-carriage, at the utmost, would not exceed two hundred miles; and this might be rendered as easy as along the public highways over the Alleghany Mountains. The Rio Colorado is, to the great Gulf of California, what the Mississippi is to the Gulf of Mexico; and is navigable for ships of considerable burden.

The travellers left the vicinity of the Arkansaw on the 30th of November; and, though the ground was covered with snow, and they suffered excessively from the cold, they still persevered in their journey, and in their labour of examining and ascertaining the courses of the rivers. They killed a great number of buffaloes and turkeys. Steering their course in a south-westerly direction, for the head of the Red river, one of the party found a camp which had been occupied by at least three thousand Indians: it had a large cross in the middle. They subsequently found many evacuated camps of Indians.

On the 18th of December, they came to a stream, about twenty-five yards in width, which they erroneously supposed to be a branch of the Red river. Its current flowed with great rapidity, and its bed was full of rocks. On ascending this river, to examine its source, it was found to run close to the mountains, in a narrow and rocky channel; and to have its banks bordered with pine-trees, cedar, and other kinds of timber. The whole party suffered extremely from cold; their clothing being frozen stiff, and their limbs considerably benumbed.

Their situation, on Christmas-day, was not very enviable. All the food they possessed, was buffalo-flesh, without salt. Before this time, they had been accustomed to some degree of comfort, and had experienced even some enjoyments: but now, at the most inclement season of the year, and eight hundred miles distant from the frontiers of the United States, not one person was properly clad for the winter; many were even without blankets, having cut them up for socks and other articles; and all were obliged to lie down at night, upon the snow or wet ground, one side burning and the other frozen. For shoes and clothing they were obliged to adopt a miserable substitute in raw buffalo hides.

In their further progress, they suffered excessive hardships for several days. Food became so scarce, that they were obliged to separate into eight different parties, in order to procure subsistence. The roads were so mountainous, stony, and slippery, that it was with the greatest difficulty the horses could be prevented from stumbling; and many of them fell. In one instance, the whole party were four days without food; and some of them had their feet frozen. At length, they were obliged to leave the horses; and each man had to carry a heavy load, and, at the same time, to march through snow two feet and half deep. Several of the men, unable to keep pace with the rest, were left behind.

On the 27th of January, Mr. Pike observed, at a distance, a large river, which he imagined to be the Red river; and, on the 30th, he reached its banks. This, afterwards, proved to be the Rio del Norte. They proceeded along its banks, for about eighteen miles; and, at length, came to a spot, where they established a temporary residence, whilst they sent men to assist, and collect together the unfortunate stragglers who had been left in the rear.

The region they had traversed betwixt the Arkansaw and the Rio del Norte, was covered with mountains and small prairies. From the Missouri to the head of the Osage river, a distance of about three hundred miles, Mr. Pike says that the country will admit of a numerous, extensive, and compact population. From the Osage to the rivers Kanzes, La Platte, and Arkansaw, the country could sustain only a limited population; but the inhabitants might, with advantage, rear cattle, horses, sheep, and goats.

On the 16th of February, whilst Mr. Pike and one of his men were hunting, in the vicinity of their residence, they observed, at a distance, two horsemen, armed with lances. They proved to be a Spanish dragoon and an Indian, who had been sent from Santa Fe, a town of New Spain, about four days before. On the 17th, some of the stragglers arrived: several of them had lost the joints of their toes, by the intensity of the frost, and were rendered cripples for life.

The Spanish dragoon and Indian had returned to Santa Fe; and the report which they made of the appearance of the strangers, induced the governor to send out fifty dragoons, and fifty mounted militia, for the purpose of ascertaining their state and numbers. In an interview which took place with the commanders of these troops, Mr. Pike learnt that the river, on the bank of which he had encamped, was the Rio del Norte, and not the Red river, as he had imagined. The officers stated to him that a hundred mules and horses had been sent to convey him, his men, and baggage, to Santa Fe; and that the governor was anxious to see them in that town, to receive an explanation respecting their business on his frontiers.

Mr. Pike and some of his men accompanied the officers to Santa Fe, while others were left behind, to wait the arrival of those who had not yet come up.

In their progress, they were treated, in all the villages, with the utmost hospitality. On their march, they were frequently stopped by women, who invited them into their houses to eat; and, in every place where they halted, there was a contest who should be their hosts. Those that had suffered by having their limbs frozen, were conducted home by old men, who caused their daughters to dress the sores, and to provide for them victuals and drink; and, at night, they gave them the best bed in the house.

In the evening of the 3d of March, Mr. Pike reached Santa Fe. This city, the capital of New Mexico, is situated along the banks of a small creek, which issues from the mountains, and runs westward to the Rio del Norte. It is about a mile in length, and not more than three streets in width. The houses are, generally, only one story high, and have flat roofs. There are, in Santa Fe, two churches, the magnificence of whose steeples forms an extraordinary contrast to the miserable appearance of the other buildings. On the north side of the town is a square, constructed for soldiers' houses, each flank of which contains from a hundred and twenty to a hundred and forty. The public square is in the centre of the town. On one side of it is the palace or government-house, with the quarters for the guards; and the other sides are occupied by the houses of the clergy, and public officers. Most of the houses have sheds before them, which occasion the streets to be very narrow. The number of inhabitants in Santa Fe, is supposed to be about four thousand five hundred.

On Mr. Pike and his men entering this town, the crowd assembled to view them was excessively great: and, indeed, their extremely miserable appearance seems to have excited much curiosity. This may easily be accounted for. After they had left the Arkansaw, they had been obliged to carry all their baggage on their backs; and, consequently, the useful were preferred to the ornamental articles. The ammunition, tools, leather-leggings, boots, and moccasins, had been considered absolutely requisite. They had left behind their uniform clothing; and, when they entered Santa Fe, Mr. Pike was dressed in a pair of blue trowsers, moccasins, a blanket-coat, and a red cap. His men had leggings, cloths round their waists, and leather coats: there was not a hat among the whole party. This appearance was extremely mortifying to them all, especially as soldiers; and it made no very favourable impression on the people of Santa Fe. They were asked, by many of the common people, whether they had lived in houses, or in camps, like the Indians; or whether, in their country, the people wore hats.

They were conducted to the government-house, where they dismounted. On entering it they were conducted through various rooms, the floors of all which were covered with the skins of buffaloes, bears, or other animals. Here they underwent an examination, by the governor, respecting their objects and number. The conference terminated amicably; but the governor informed Mr. Pike that he must be conducted to Chihuahua, a town in the province of New Biscay, and upwards of three hundred leagues distant.

Nineteenth Day's Instruction.


The Spanish possessions in North America, extend from the isthmus of Darien, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, to the distance of more than two thousand two hundred miles. One half of them is situated under the burning sky of the tropics, and the other belongs to the temperate zone. Their whole interior forms an immense plain, elevated from six to eight thousand feet above the level of the adjacent seas. The chain of mountains which constitutes this vast plain, is a continuation of that which, under the name Andes, runs through South America. They are, in general, little interrupted by valleys, and, for the most part, their declivity is very gentle. In consequence of this elevation, the Mexican provinces, situated under the torrid zone, enjoy a cold rather than a temperate climate. The interior provinces, in the temperate zone, have, like the rest of North America, a climate essentially different from that of the same parallels in the European continent. A remarkable inequality prevails between the temperature of the different seasons: German winters succeed to Neapolitan and Sicilian summers.

This country suffers many inconveniences from a want of water, and particularly of navigable rivers. The Rio del Norte and the Rio Colorado are almost the only rivers of any importance. The lakes with which Mexico abounds, are merely the remains of immense basins of water, which appear to have formerly existed on the high and extensive plains of the Cordilleras. The largest of these, the Lake of Chapala, contains nearly one hundred and sixty square leagues, and is about twice as large as the lake of Constance.

A great portion of high land, in the interior of New Spain, is destitute of vegetation; and some of the loftiest summits are clad with perpetual snow. This country is not so much disturbed by earthquakes as several parts of South America; for, in the whole of New Spain there are only five volcanos; Orizaba, Popocatepetl, Tuxtla, Jorullo, and Colima.

The volcano of Jorullo, in the province of Valladolid, was formed during the night of the 29th of September, 1759. The great catastrophe, in which this mountain rose from the earth, and by which a considerable space of ground changed its appearance, is, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary physical revolutions in the history of the earth. Geology points out parts of the ocean, where, at recent periods, near the Azores, in the Egean Sea, and to the south of Iceland, small volcanic islands have arisen above the surface of the water; but it gives no example of the formation, amidst a thousand small burning cones, of a mountain of scoria, near seventeen hundred feet in height, above the adjoining plain. Till the middle of the year 1759, fields cultivated with sugar-canes and indigo occupied the extent of ground between the two brooks called Cultamba and San Pedro. In the month of June, a subterraneous noise was heard. Hollow sounds of most alarming description, were accompanied by frequent earthquakes, which succeeded one another for fifty or sixty days, to the great consternation of the inhabitants. From the beginning of September every thing seemed to announce the complete re-establishment of tranquillity; when, in the night between the 28th and 29th, the subterraneous noises recommenced. The affrighted Indians fled to the mountains; and a tract of ground, from three to four square miles in extent, which goes by the name of Malpays, rose up in the shape of a bladder. The bounds of this convulsion are still distinguishable in the fractured strata. The Malpays, near its edges, is only about forty feet above the old level of the plain; but the convexity of the ground thus thrown up, increases progressively, towards the centre, to an elevation of more than five hundred and twenty feet.

The persons who witnessed this astonishing catastrophe, assert that flames were seen to issue forth, for an extent of more than half a square league; that fragments of burning rocks were thrown up to prodigious heights; and that, through a thick cloud of ashes, illumined by the volcanic fire, the softened surface of the earth was seen to swell up like an agitated sea. The rivers of Cultamba and San Pedro precipitated themselves into the burning chasms. The decomposition of the water contributed to invigorate the flames, which were distinguishable at a vast distance. Eruptions of mud, and other substances, indicated that subterraneous water had no small share in producing this extraordinary revolution. Thousands of small cones, from six to nine feet in height, called by the Indians "hornitos," or ovens, issued forth from the Malpays. Each small cone is a "fumorola," from which a thick vapour ascends; and in many of them a subterraneous noise is heard, which appears to announce the proximity of a fluid in ebullition. In the midst of the ovens six large masses, elevated from one thousand three hundred to one thousand six hundred and forty feet above the old level of the plains, sprung up from a chasm. The most elevated of these is the great volcano of Jorullo. It is continually burning, and has thrown up an immense quantity of scorified and basaltic lavas, containing fragments of primitive rocks. These great eruptions of the central volcano continued till the month of February, 1760. In the following year they became gradually less frequent. The Indians, frightened at the horrible noises of the new volcano, had abandoned all the villages, within seven or eight leagues of it. They, however, gradually became accustomed to them, and returned to their cottages. So violent were the eruptions of this mountain, that the roofs of houses in Queretaro, though at a distance of more than forty-eight leagues, in a straight line from the scene of explosion, were sometimes covered with ashes.

The Mexican population consists of seven races, 1. Individuals born in Europe; 2. Creoles, or Whites of European extraction, born in America; 3. Mesti zos, or descendants of whites and Indians; 4. Mulattoes, descendants of whites and negroes; 5. Zambos, descendants of negroes and Indians; 6. Indians, or the copper-coloured indigenous race; and, 7. African negroes.

The number of Indians, including those only who have no mixture of European or African blood, are more than two millions and a half in number; and these appear to constitute about two-fifths of the whole population of Mexico. They bear a general resemblance to the Indians of Canada, Florida, Peru, and Brazil: they have a similar swarthy and copper-coloured skin, smooth hair, little beard, squat body, long eyes, with the corners directed upward towards the temples, prominent cheek bones, and thick lips. There is a great diversity in their language, but they appear to have been all descendants from the same original stock.

It is probable that these Indians would live to a great age, did they not often injure their constitution by drunkenness. Their intoxicating liquors are rum, a fermentation of maize, and the root of the jatropha; and especially a wine which is made from the juice of the great American aloe. The police, in the city of Mexico, sends round tumbrils, to collect such drunkards as are found lying in the streets. These are treated like dead bodies, and are carried to the principal guard-house. The next morning an iron ring is put round each of their ancles, and, as a punishment, they are made to cleanse the streets for three days.

The Mexican Indian, when not under the influence of intoxicating liquors, is grave, melancholic, and silent. The most violent passions are never depicted in his features; and it is sometimes frightful to see him pass, at once, from a state of apparent repose, to the most violent and unrestrained agitation. It is stated that these Indians have preserved, from their ancestors, a particular relish for carving in wood and stone; and that it is astonishing to see what they are able to execute with a bad knife, on the hardest wood. Many Indian children, educated in the college of the capital, or instructed at the academy of painting, founded by the king of Spain, have considerably distinguished themselves, but without leaving the beaten track pursued by their forefathers; they chiefly display great aptitude in the arts of imitation; and in the purely mechanical arts.

The Spanish inhabitants and the Creoles are noted for hospitality, generosity, and sobriety; but they are extremely deficient in energy, patriotism, enterprise, and independence of character. The women have black eyes and hair, and fine teeth: they are of dark colour, full habit of body, and have, in general, bad figures. They usually wear short jackets and petticoats, high-heeled shoes, and no head-dress. As an upper garment they have a silk wrapper, which, when they are in the presence of men, they affect to bring over their faces. In the towns on the frontiers and adjacent to the sea-coast, many of the ladies wear gowns, like those of our country-women. The lower classes of men are generally dressed in broad-brimmed hats, short coats, large waistcoats, smallclothes open at the knees, and a kind of boot or leather wrapper bound round the leg, and gartered at the knee. The spurs of the gentlemen are clumsy: they are ornamented with raised work; and the straps are embroidered with gold and silver thread. The Spanish Americans are always ready to mount their horses; and the inhabitants of the interior provinces pass nearly half their day on horseback. In the towns, and among the higher ranks, the men dress in the European style.

The amusements of this people are music, singing, dancing, and gambling: the latter is, indeed, officially prohibited; but the prohibition is not much attended to. At every large town there is a public walk, where the ladies and gentlemen meet and sing songs. The females have fine voices, and sing French, Italian, and Spanish music, the whole company joining in chorus. In their houses the ladies play on the guitar, and accompany this instrument with their voices. They either sit on the carpet cross-legged, or loll on a sofa: to sit upright, on a chair, appears to put them to great inconvenience.

Both in eating and drinking the Spanish Americans are remarkably temperate. Early in the morning those of the higher class have chocolate. At twelve they dine on meat, fowls, and fish; after which different kinds of confectionary are placed on the table; they drink a few glasses of wine, sing a few songs, and then retire to take their siesta or afternoon nap. The latter is a practice common both to rich and poor: the consequence of it is that, about two o'clock, every day, the windows and doors of the town are all closed, the streets are deserted, and the stillness of midnight reigns throughout. At four they rise, wash and dress, and prepare for the dissipation of the evening. About eleven o'clock refreshments are offered; but few take any thing except a little wine and water and candied sugar.

The commerce of New Spain, with Europe and the United States, is carried on through the port of Vera Cruz only; and with the East Indies and South America, through that of Acapulco. But all the commercial transactions, and all the productions and manufactures, are subjected to such severe restrictions, that they are at present of little importance to the prosperity of the country. Were the various bays and harbours of Mexico and California to be opened to the trade of the world; and were correct regulations to be adopted, New Spain might become both wealthy and powerful. Many parts of the country abound in iron ore, yet iron and steel articles, of every description, are brought from Europe; for the manufacturing or working of iron is here strictly prohibited. This occasions the requisite utensils of husbandry, arms, and tools, to be enormously dear; and forms a great check to the progress of agriculture, and to improvements in manufactures.

The ancient Mexicans preserved the memory of events by figures painted on skins, cloth, or the bark of trees. These hieroglyphical and symbolical characters, being considered by the ignorant and bigoted Spaniards to be monuments of idolatry, the first bishop of Mexico destroyed as many of them as could be collected. In consequence of this barbarous procedure, the knowledge of remote events was lost, except what could be derived from tradition, and from some fragments of those paintings which eluded the search of the monks.

With regard to the public edifices of the Mexicans: their temples were merely mounds of earth faced with stone; and it is probable that their other public buildings were equally rude. The ancient natives bestowed little attention on agriculture, and were strangers to the use of money; but their ornaments of gold and silver indicated considerable ingenuity. They were acquainted with the manufacture of paper, of coarse cotton-cloth, glass, and earthenware; and they possessed the arts of casting metals, of making mosaic work with shells and feathers, of spinning and weaving the hair of animals, and of dying with indelible colours.

The religion of the ancient Mexicans, like that of all unenlightened nations, seems to have been founded chiefly on fear; and consisted of a system of gloomy rites and practices, the object of which was to avert the evils that they suffered or dreaded. They had some notion of an invisible supreme Being; but their chief anxiety was to deprecate the wrath of certain imaginary malignant spirits, whom they regarded as the enemies of mankind. They worshipped idols, formed of wood and stone; and decorated their temples with the figures of serpents, tigers, and other destructive animals. They believed in the immortality of the soul; but their notions of a future state may be collected from their funeral rites: the bodies, or the ashes of the deceased, were generally buried with whatever was judged necessary for their accommodation or comfort in the other world, where it was believed they would experience the same desires, and be engaged in the same occupations, as in this. The religion established by the Spaniards is the Roman Catholic; and it is computed that one-fifth part of the Spanish inhabitants are ecclesiastics, monks, and nuns.

The Spanish government in America is vested in officers called viceroys, who represent the person of their sovereign; and who possess his royal prerogatives, within the precincts of their own territories. In its present state, New Spain is divided into twelve intendancies, and three districts, which are called provinces[2].


[2] For particulars respecting the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, see "Biographical Conversations on Eminent Voyagers," p. 59 to 73.

Twentieth Day's Instruction.


Narrative of Mr. PIKE'S Journey from Santa Fe to Montelovez.

Mr. Pike and his men were escorted from Santa Fe by a Spanish officer, and a troop of soldiers. On Thursday, the 5th of March, they arrived at a village called St. Domingo. The inhabitants of this place were about a thousand in number; and the chiefs were distinguished by canes, with silver heads and black tassels. Mr. Pike was permitted to visit the church; and he was much astonished to find, enclosed in mud-brick walls, many rich paintings, and a statue of the patron saint, as large as life, and elegantly ornamented with gold and silver.

On the ensuing day, the party marched down the eastern side of the Rio del Norte, the snow being still a foot deep. Near the village of Albuquerque, they observed that the inhabitants were beginning to open the canals, for the purpose of letting in the water of the river, to fertilize the lands. They saw men, women, and children engaged in the joyful labour, which was to crown, with rich abundance, their future harvest, and to ensure them plenty for the ensuing year. A little below Albuquerque, the Rio del Norte was four hundred yards wide, but not more than three feet deep.

In their journey southward, they passed through several villages. One of these, called Sibilleta, was in the form of a regular square, appearing, on the outside, like an immense mud-wall. All the doors and windows faced the interior of the square; and it was the neatest and most regular village Mr. Pike had ever seen.

Beyond this village, the party met a caravan, consisting of three hundred men, escorted by an officer and thirty-five or forty troops, who were proceeding, with about fifteen thousand sheep, to the different provinces. They afterwards met a caravan of fifty men, and about two hundred horses, laden with traffic, for New Mexico. On the 21st of March they arrived at the Passo del Norte: the road now led them through a rough and mountainous country; and passing through Carracal, and some other villages, they reached Chihuahua on the 2d of April.

They were conducted into the presence of the commanding-officer of the place, before whom Mr. Pike underwent an examination, as he had previously done at Santa Fe. He was treated with great apparent respect, and was offered both assistance and money. He afterwards visited in the houses of some of the principal inhabitants. At the house of the governor, when wine was put on the table, after dinner, the company was entertained with songs in the French, Italian, Spanish, and English languages.

There are, at Chihuahua, and in its vicinity, fifteen mines; thirteen of silver, one of gold, and one of copper; the furnaces for all of which are in the suburbs of the town, and present, except on Sundays, volumes of smoke, rising in every direction. Chihuahua is surrounded by piles of cinders, from ten to fifteen feet in height. In the public square, stand the church, the royal treasury, the town-house, and the richest shops; and, at the western extremity of the town, are two other churches, an hospital, and the military academy. About a mile south of the town, is a large aqueduct. The principal church of Chihuahua is a most superb edifice: its whole front is covered with statues of saints; figures of different saints are set in niches of the wall; and the windows, doors, &c. are ornamented with sculpture. The decorations in the interior are said to be immensely rich. On the south of the town is a public walk, formed by three rows of trees, the branches of which nearly form a junction over the heads of the passengers below. At different distances, there are seats for persons to repose themselves upon; and at each end of the walks, are circular seats, on, which, in the evenings, the inhabitants amuse themselves in singing to the music of guitars. This city contains about eleven thousand inhabitants.

After a residence, in Chihuahua, of somewhat more than three weeks, Mr. Pike received an intimation that he and his men would be escorted out of the country. Accordingly, on the 28th of April, he was accompanied, towards the frontier, by a Spanish officer. Near Chihuahua they passed a small ridge of mountains, and then encamped in a hollow. At the distance of about fifty miles they reached the river Florida; on the banks of which are many important settlements, and well-timbered lands. One of the plantations on this river, extended thirty leagues; and had been valued at three hundred thousand dollars.

The country through which they now passed was mountainous. On the 11th of May, they reached Mauperne, a village situated at the foot of the mountains, and near which eight or nine valuable copper-mines were worked; but the mass of the people were in a starving and wretched state. The proprietor of the mines, however, gave the travellers an elegant repast.

They pursued their march three miles further, to a station, on a little stream, which flowed through gardens, and formed a terrestrial paradise. Here they remained all day, and at night slept under the shade of the fig-trees. In the morning, Mr. Pike was awakened by the singing of the birds, and the perfume of the trees around. This place, however, was no doubt rendered the more interesting to the travellers, in consequence of their having previously suffered much inconvenience from want of water.

On the 20th, they arrived at the Hacienda of Polloss, a handsome place, at which the Marquis de San Miguel, a wealthy nobleman, who possessed extensive property in this part of New Spain, usually passed the summer. The Hacienda of Polloss is a square enclosure of about three hundred feet: the building is no more than one story high; but some of the apartments are very elegantly furnished. In the centre of the square is a fountain, which throws out water from eight spouts. There is also, at this place, a handsome church, which, with its ornaments, is said to have cost at least twenty thousand dollars. The inhabitants are about two thousand in number.

Montelovez, situated on the banks of a small stream, is about a mile in length. It has two public squares, seven churches, some powder-magazines, mills, a royal hospital, and barracks. The number of inhabitants is about three thousand five hundred. This city is ornamented with public walks, columns, and fountains; and is one of the handsomest places in New Spain[3].

South-west from Montelovez stands Durango, the chief city of the province of Biscay. In the vicinity of this place are many rich and valuable mines; and the soil is so fertile as to produce abundant crops of wheat, maize, and fruit. The climate is mild and healthy. Durango contains about twelve thousand inhabitants; and has four convents and three churches.

A Description of the City of Mexico.

This magnificent city is the capital of New Spain, and the residence of the viceroy. In its situation it possesses many important advantages. Standing on an isthmus, which is washed on one side by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other by the South-sea, it might possess a powerful influence over the political events which agitate the world. A king of Spain, resident at this capital, might, in six weeks, transmit his orders to Europe, and, in three weeks, to the Philippine islands in Asia. There are, however, difficulties to be encountered, arising from the unfavourable state of the coasts, and the want of secure harbours. During several months in the year, these coasts are visited by tempests. The hurricanes, also, which occur in the months of September, October, and March, and which sometimes last for three or four successive days, are very tremendous.

Mexico was originally founded in the lake of Tezcuco; and, at the time when the Spaniards first invaded America, it was a magnificent capital. Cortez, describing it in the year 1520, says, that it was in the midst of a salt-water lake, which had its tides, like the ocean; and that, from the city to the continent, there was a distance of two leagues. Four dikes or embankments, each two lances broad, led to the city. The principal streets were narrow: some of them had navigable canals running along them, furnished with bridges, wide enough for ten men on horseback, to pass at the same time. The market-place was surrounded with an immense portico, under which were sold all sorts of merchandise, eatables, ornaments made of gold, silver, lead, pewter, precious stones, bones, shells, and feathers; earthenware, leather, and spun cotton. In some places were exposed to sale hewn stone, tiles, and timber for building; in others game; and, in others, roots, garden-stuff, and fruit. There were houses where barbers shaved the head, with razors made of obsidian, a volcanic substance not much unlike bottle-glass; and there were others, resembling our apothecary-shops, where prepared medicines, unguents, and plasters were sold. The market abounded with so many things, that Cortez was unable to name them all. To avoid confusion, every species of merchandise was sold in a separate place. In the middle of the great square was a house, which he calls L'Audiencia; and in which ten or twelve persons sate every day, to determine any disputes which might arise respecting the sale of goods.

The city was divided into four quarters: this division is still preserved, in the limits assigned to the quarters of St. Paul, St. Sebastian, St. John, and St. Mary; and the present streets have, for the most part, the same direction as the old ones. But what gives to this city a peculiar and distinctive character is, that it is entirely on the continent, between the extremities of the two lakes of Tezcuco and Chalco. This has been occasioned by the gradual draining of the great lake, and the consequent drying up of the waters around the city. Hence Mexico is now two miles and half from the banks of the former, and five miles and half from those of the latter.

Adorned with numerous teocallis, (or temples,) like so many Mahometan steeples, surrounded with water and embankments, founded on islands covered with verdure, and receiving, hourly, in its streets, thousands of boats, which vivified the lake, the ancient Mexico, according to the accounts of the first conquerors, must have resembled some of the cities of Holland, China, or the Delta of Lower Egypt.

As reconstructed by the Spaniards, it exhibits, at the present day, perhaps a less vivid, though a more august and majestic appearance, than the ancient city. With the exception of Petersburg, Berlin, Philadelphia, and some quarters of Westminster, there does not exist a place of the same extent, which can be compared to the capital of New Spain, for the uniform level of the ground on which it stands, for the regularity and breadth of the streets, and the extent of its public places. The architecture is, for the most part, in a pure style; and many of the edifices are of a very beautiful structure. The exterior of the houses is not loaded with ornaments. Two sorts of hewn stone, give to the Mexican buildings an air of solidity, and sometimes even of magnificence. There are none of those wooden balconies and galleries to be seen, which so much disfigure all the European cities in both the Indies. The balustrades and gates are all of iron, ornamented with bronze; and the houses, instead of roofs, have terraces, like those in Italy, and other southern countries of the old continent.

Mexico has, of late, received many additional embellishments. An edifice, for the School of Mines, which was built at an expence of more than L.120,000 sterling, would adorn the principal places of Paris or London. Two great palaces have been constructed by Mexican artists, pupils of the Academy of Fine Arts. One of these has a beautiful interior, ornamented with columns.

But, notwithstanding the progress of the arts, within the last thirty years, it is much less from the grandeur and beauty of the monuments, than from the breadth and straightness of the streets; and much less from its edifices, than from its uniform regularity, its extent and position, that the capital of New Spain attracts the admiration of Europeans. M. De Humboldt had successively visited, within a very short space of time, Lima, Mexico, Philadelphia, Washington, Paris, Rome, Naples, and the largest cities of Germany; and notwithstanding unavoidable comparisons, of which several might be supposed disadvantageous to the capital of Mexico, there was left on his mind, a recollection of grandeur, which he principally attributed to the majestic character of its situation, and the beauty of the surrounding scenery.

In fact, nothing can present a more rich and varied appearance than the valley of Mexico, when, in a fine summer morning, a person ascends one of the towers of the cathedral, or the adjacent hill of Chapoltepec. A beautiful vegetation surrounds this hill. From its summit, the eye wanders over a vast plain of richly-cultivated fields, which extend to the very feet of colossal mountains, that are covered with perpetual snow, The city appears as if washed by the waters of the lake of Tezcuco, whose basin, surrounded by villages and hamlets, brings to mind the most beautiful lakes of the mountains of Switzerland. Large avenues of elms and poplars lead, in every direction, to the capital; and two aqueducts, constructed over arches of great elevation, cross the plain, and exhibit an appearance equally agreeable and interesting.

Mexico is remarkable for its excellent police. Most of the streets have broad pavements; and they are clean, and well lighted. Water is, every where, to be had; but it is brackish, like the water of the lake. There are, however, two aqueducts, by which the city receives fresh-water, from distant springs. Some remains of the dikes or embankments, are still to be seen: they, at present, form great paved causeys, across marshy ground; and, as they are considerably elevated, they possess the double advantage, of admitting the passage of carriages, and restraining the overflowings of the lake. This city has six principal gates; and is surrounded by a ditch, but is without walls.

The objects which chiefly attract the attention of strangers, are 1. The Cathedral, which is partly in the Gothic style of architecture, and has two towers, ornamented with pilasters and statues, of very beautiful symmetry. 2. The Treasury, which adjoins to the palace of the viceroys: from this building, since the beginning of the 16th century, more than 270 millions sterling, in gold and silver coin, have been issued. 3. The Convents. 4. The Hospital, or rather the two united hospitals, of which one maintains six hundred, and the other eight hundred children and old people. 5. The Acordada, a fine edifice, of which the prisons are spacious and well aired. 6. The School of Mines. 7. The Botanical Garden, in one of the courts of the viceroy's palace. 8. The edifices of the University and the Public Library, which, however, are very unworthy of so great and ancient an establishment. 9. The Academy of Fine Arts.

Mexico is the see of an archbishop, and contains twenty-three convents for monks, and fifteen for nuns. Its whole population is estimated at one hundred and forty thousand persons.

On the north-side of the city, near the suburbs, is a public walk, which forms a large square, having a basin in the middle, and where eight walks terminate.

The markets of Mexico are well supplied with eatables; particularly with roots and fruit. It is an interesting spectacle, which may be enjoyed every morning at sunrise, to see these provisions, and a great quantity of flowers, brought by Indians, in boats, along the canals. Most of the roots are cultivated on what are called chinampas, or "floating gardens." These are of two sorts: one moveable, and driven about by the winds, and the other fixed and attached to the shore. The first alone merit the denomination of floating-gardens.

Simple lumps of earth, in lakes or rivers, carried away from the banks, have given rise to the invention of chinampas. The floating-gardens, of which very many were found by the Spaniards, when they first invaded Mexico, and of which many still exist in the lake of Chalco, were rafts formed of reeds, rushes, roots, and branches of underwood. The Indians cover these light and well connected materials with a black mould, which becomes extremely fertile. The chinampas sometimes contain the cottage of the Indian, who acts as guard for a group of floating gardens. When removed from one side of the banks to the other, they are either towed or are pushed with long poles. Every chinampa forms an oblong square about three hundred feet in length, and eighteen or nineteen feet broad. Narrow ditches, communicating symmetrically between them, separate these squares. The mould fit for cultivation rises about three feet above the surface of the surrounding water. On these chinampas are cultivated beans, peas, pimento, potatoes, artichokes, cauliflowers, and a great variety of other vegetables. Their sides are generally ornamented with flowers, and sometimes with hedges of rose-bushes. The promenade in boats, around the chinampas of the river Istracalco, is one of the most agreeable amusements that can be enjoyed in the environs of Mexico. The vegetation is extremely vigorous, on a soil which is continually refreshed with water.

The Hill of Chapoltepec, near Mexico, was chosen by the young viceroy Galvez, as the site of a villa for himself and his successors. The castle has been finished externally, but the apartments were not completed when M. de Humboldt was here. This building cost the king of Spain more than L.62,000 sterling.

With respect to the two great lakes, Tezcuco and Chalco, which are situated in the valley of Mexico, one is of fresh water, and the other salt. They are separated by a narrow range of mountains, which rise in the middle of the plain; and their waters mingle together, in a strait between the hills. On both these lakes there are numerous towns and villages, which carry on their commerce with each other in canoes, without touching the continent.


[3] From this place, Mr. Pike was conducted, through St. Antonio, in a north-westerly direction, to the territories of the United States; and he terminates the account of his travels at Natchitoches, on the southern bank of the Red river.

Twenty-first Day's Instruction.


A Description of some of the most important Places in Mexico.

In an easterly direction from the city of Mexico lies Tlascala, a town, which, two hundred years ago, at the time of the Spanish invasion, had a numerous population, and was in a wealthy and flourishing state. The inhabitants of this place were implacable enemies of the Mexicans, and aided the Spaniards in the conquest of their country. It is now, however, little more than a village, containing about three thousand inhabitants. Some parts of the ancient walls still remain, and are composed of alternate strata of brick and clay.

Six leagues south-west from Tlascala, and in the midst of a delightful valley, watered by a river which runs south-west to the Pacific Ocean, stands Puebla, the capital of an intendancy, and the see of a bishop. It is a large and regularly built manufacturing town, notorious for the profligacy of its inhabitants.

Cholula, once a sacred Indian town, to which pilgrimages were frequent, but now a mean village, is not far from Puebla. This place is, at present, remarkable only for a curious monument of antiquity, a pyramid which consists of four stages, and is about one hundred and seventy-seven feet in perpendicular height, and one thousand four hundred and twenty-three feet at the base. Its structure appears to consist of alternate strata of bricks and clay. In the midst of this pyramid there is a church, where mass is, every morning, celebrated by an ecclesiastic of Indian extraction, whose residence is on the summit.

Eastward of the intendancy of Puebla is that of Vera Cruz. This district is enriched with various natural productions, extremely valuable both in a commercial and economical view. The sugar-cane grows here in great luxuriance: chocolate, tobacco, cotton, sarsaparilla, are all abundant; but the indolence of the inhabitants is so great, and all their wants are so easily supplied, by the natural fertility of the soil, that the country does not produce one half of what, under good management, it might be made to produce. The sugar and cotton plantations are chiefly attended to; but the progress made in these is not great.

The chief city of the province is Vera Cruz; a sea-port, the residence of the governor, and the centre of the Spanish West Indian and American commerce. This city is beautifully and regularly built; but on an arid plain, destitute of water, and covered with hills of moving sand, that are formed by the north winds, which blow; with impetuosity, every year, from October till April. These hills are incessantly changing their form and situation: they are from twenty to thirty feet in height; and, by the reflection of the sun's rays upon them, and the high temperature which they acquire during the summer months, they contribute much to increase the suffocating heat of the atmosphere.

The houses in Vera Cruz are chiefly built of wood; for no stone whatever is found in the vicinity of the place. The public edifices are constructed of materials obtained from the bottom of the ocean: the stony habitations of a kind of marine animals called madrepores. The town is of great extent; and is surrounded by a wall, and defended by a kind of citadel, which stands on an adjacent rocky island. The harbour is well protected; but the entrance into it is so narrowed by rocks, that only one ship can pass at a time.

On the annual arrival of the flota, or fleet of merchant-vessels from Old Spain, Vera Cruz is crowded, from all parts of the adjacent country; and a kind of fair is opened, which lasts many weeks. The principal inhabitants are merchants, but very few of them reside wholly in the town; for the heat of the climate, the stagnant water in the vicinity of the place, and the bad quality of the water used for drinking, are the cause of yellow fever and numerous other diseases.

The churches of Vera Cruz are much decorated with silver ornaments. In the dwelling houses, the chief luxury consists of porcelain and other Chinese articles. The whole number of inhabitants is estimated at about thirteen thousand. They are, in general, proud and indolent. The women, few of whom are handsome, live much in retirement.

During the rainy season, the marshes south of the town are haunted by alligators. Sea-fowl of various kinds are here innumerable; and the musquitoes, at certain seasons of the year, are very troublesome. Earthquakes are not unfrequent. The north winds are so tremendous as often to drive vessels on shore: these gales sometimes load the walls with sand; and so much inconvenience is occasioned by them, that, during their continuance, ladies are excused by the priests from going to mass.

The richest merchants of this place have country-houses at Xalapa, a town, in a romantic situation, about twenty leagues distant. Here they enjoy a cool and agreeable retreat from the arid climate and noxious exhalations of Vera Cruz. In the vicinity of Xalapa, thick forests of styrax, piper, melastomata, and ferns resembling trees, afford the most delightful promenades imaginable.

The intendancy of Vera Cruz contains, within its limits, two colossal summits; one of which, the volcano of Orizaba, is of great height, and has its top inclined towards the south-east, by which the crater is visible to a considerable distance. The other summit, the Coffre de Perote, according to M. de Humboldt's measurement, is one thousand three hundred feet higher than the Pic of Tenerife. It serves as a land-mark to vessels approaching Vera Cruz. A thick bed of pumice-stone environs this mountain. Nothing at the summit announces a crater; and the currents of lava observable between some adjacent villages, appear to be the effects of an ancient explosion.

The small volcano of Tuxtla is about four leagues from the coast, and near an Indian village, called Saint Jago di Tuxtla. The last eruption of this volcano took place on the 2d of March, 1793; and, during its continuance, the roofs of houses at Oaxaca, Vera Cruz, and Perote, were covered with volcanic ashes. At Perote, fifty-seven leagues distant, the subterraneous noises resembled heavy discharges of artillery.

In the northern part of the intendancy of Vera Cruz, and two leagues from the village of Papantla, there is a pyramidal edifice of great antiquity. It is in the midst of a forest; and the Indians, for more than two centuries, succeeded in concealing, from the knowledge of the Spaniards, this object of ancient veneration. It was accidentally discovered, by a party of hunters, about thirty years ago. The materials that have been employed in its construction are immense stones cemented with mortar; and it is remarkable for its general symmetry, for the polish of its stones, and the great regularity of their form. Its base is an exact square, each side being eighty-two feet in length. The perpendicular height is about sixty feet. This monument, like all the Mexican teocallis or temples, is composed of several stages. Six are still distinguishable, and a seventh appears to be concealed by the vegetation, with which the sides are covered. A great stair of fifty-seven steps, conducts to the top, where human victims were formerly sacrificed; and, on each side of the great stair, is a small one. The facing of the stories is adorned with hieroglyphics, in which serpents and alligators, carved in relief, are still discernible. Each story contains a great number of square niches, symmetrically distributed.

On the coast of the Pacific Ocean, and at the distance of about three hundred miles south-west from Vera Cruz, stands Acapulco, the great western sea-port of Mexico. This place is the principal emporium for the Indian trade over the Pacific Ocean. The harbour is commodious, capable of containing several hundred ships, and defended by a strong castle. The town itself is mean and ill-built, but extremely populous. Earthquakes are here of such frequent occurrence, that the houses are all very slightly constructed; and the climate, also, is extremely unhealthy. These circumstances occasion most of the principal merchants to reside in the adjacent country, at all times except when business demands their attention in the town.

Several vessels, called "galleons," laden with the precious metals, and with merchandise of other kinds, are every year sent, from this port, to Manila, in the Philippine islands; and others return, laden with the valuable productions of the East Indies. On the arrival of the latter, the town becomes populous and gay; and is then filled with the wealthiest merchants of Mexico and Peru. Such, however, is the general dread of its unhealthiness, that these do not sleep within the walls, but reside chiefly in tents in its vicinity.

At some distance east of Acapulco, in a beautiful and populous valley, stands the town of Guaxaca or Oaxaca; distinguished by the magnificence of its situation, the temperature and salubrity of its climate, the excellence of its soil, and its general majestic appearance. The streets are wide, straight, and well paved; and the houses are chiefly built of stone. The churches and monasteries are numerous, and richly decorated. On one side of the great square is the town-house, which is constructed with stone of a sea-green colour. The bishop's palace and the cathedral form two other sides of the same square: they are surrounded by arcades, as a shelter against both the sun and the rain. In the suburbs of Guaxaca are gardens, and plantations of cactus or prickly pear-trees, on which great numbers of cochineal insects feed. Guaxaca is not only watered by a beautiful river, but is abundantly supplied, by aqueducts, with pure water from the adjacent mountains. Its population, including Indians, mulattoes, and negroes, amounts to about twenty-four thousand persons.

The intendancy of Yucatan forms a peninsula, about a hundred leagues in length, between the bays of Campeachy and Honduras. A ridge of low hills extends along it, from south-west to north-east; and, between this ridge and the Bay of Campeachy, the dry and parched soil produces logwood in great abundance and of excellent quality. For nearly five months, during the rainy season, the low grounds are partially inundated: in February the waters are dried up; and, throughout the remainder of the year, there is scarcely any stream to be found. Hence the inhabitants can only be supplied with fresh water by pits and wells. The eastern coast of Yucatan is so shallow and muddy, that large vessels cannot approach within four leagues of the shore. The chief productions of this peninsula are maize, cotton, indigo, and logwood.

The governor resides at a small inland town called Merida, situated on an arid plain, and containing about six thousand inhabitants. The principal sea-port is Campeachy, near the north-west extremity of the peninsula. This town has a good dock, and a fort which protects both the place and the harbour. The houses are chiefly built of stone. Campeachy has some cotton manufactories, and a trade in wax and salt; but its chief trade is in logwood.

Honduras is an important province, south of Yucatan. Its climate is superior to that of most other parts of America, within the torrid zone. With the exception of a few months in the year, it is refreshed by regular sea-breezes. The periodical rains are here excessively heavy. The dry season is usually comprehended within the months of April, May, and June; and the sun, during this time, is excessively powerful. This province is about three hundred and ninety miles in length, from east to west, and consists of mountains, valleys, and plains, watered by many rivers. Honduras abounds in honey, wax, cotton, corn, fruit, and dyeing woods. It has some gold and silver mines; and its pastures feed great numbers of sheep and cattle. Its vineyards yield grapes twice in the year; but, from indolence and want of cultivation, many parts of it have become desert.

There is a British settlement at a place called Balize, near the mouth of a river of the same name. This town is immediately open to the sea; and, though in a low situation, the groups of lofty cocoa-nut trees, and the thickly-interspersed and lively foliage of the tamarind trees, contribute to give a picturesque and pleasing effect to the dwellings of the inhabitants. The number of houses, of all descriptions, is about two hundred; and many of them, particularly such as are the property of the most opulent merchants, are spacious, commodious, and well finished. They are built of wood, and are generally raised eight or ten feet from the ground, on pillars of mahogany. The stores and offices are always on the lower, and the dining and sleeping apartments on the upper story. Every habitation, likewise, has its upper and lower piazzas, which are indispensably necessary in hot climates. Balize stands at the edge of a swamp many miles in extent, which prevents nearly all intercourse with the interior of the country.

The principal articles at present imported from Europe into Honduras, are linens, printed cottons, muslins of the most costly manufacture, negro clothing, broadcloths, hosiery, hats, shoes, boots, earthen and glass wares, silver and plated goods, hardware, and cutlery: salted provisions, from Britain or America, are also in continual demand for the food of the slaves.

Few countries possess greater commercial advantages, in an agricultural view, than this. The productions of the West Indian islands, might all unquestionably be cultivated here, as well as most others which are grown within the tropics. But the cutting of logwood and mahogany is the chief occupation of the British settlers. The banks of the river Balize have long been occupied by mahogany-cutters, even to the distance of two hundred miles from its mouth.

About thirty miles up the Balize, on its banks, are found what are denominated the Indian hills. These are small eminences, which are supposed to have been raised by Indians over their dead; human bones, and fragments of a coarse kind of earthenware, being frequently dug up from them.

Nicaragua is a Spanish province, between Honduras and the isthmus of Darien. It is about eighty leagues in length and fifty in breadth; and consists, for the most part, of high and wooded mountains, some of which are volcanic. The valleys are watered by many streams, but only one of these is of any importance. This is the river Yare, which runs, from west to east, through the northern part of the province. The most important productions of Nicaragua are timber, cotton, sugar, honey, and wax. The chief town is Leon de Nicaragua, a place of considerable trade, situated near the north-west border of the lake of Nicaragua; and in a sandy plain, at the foot of a volcanic mountain, several leagues from the sea.

* * * * *

From New Spain we must return northward, for the purpose of describing the British dominions of Nova Scotia and Canada.

Twenty-second Day's Instruction.



Is a province bounded on the east by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on the south by the Atlantic, and on the west by the United States. It is somewhat more than two hundred miles long, and one hundred and seventy miles broad. The southern division is a peninsula of triangular form, having an isthmus not more than thirty miles in breadth. Nova Scotia is divided into counties, and subdivided into townships; and, in the whole, contains somewhat more than fifty thousand inhabitants.

The climate is unhealthy. During a considerable part of the year, the maritime and lower districts are enveloped in fog. The cold of winter is intense, and the heat of summer excessive. The soil is various. In many parts it is thin, barren, gravelly, and covered with forests: in others, especially on the borders of the rivers, it is fertile and agreeable. Some of the tracts yield hemp and flax; but the inhabitants have not hitherto made much progress in agriculture. Nova Scotia has many bays and harbours; but much of the coast is bordered with dangerous rocks. Great numbers of cod-fish are caught in some of the bays, and in many parts of the sea adjacent to the coast.

Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, was built about the year 1749. It is now a flourishing town on the sea-coast, and has an excellent harbour, accessible at all seasons of the year, and with depth of water and anchorage sufficient for the largest vessels. The town is about two miles in length, and a quarter of a mile in width; and is laid out in oblong squares, and in streets that run parallel or at right angles to each other. It is defended by forts of timber, and contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants. At its northern extremity is the royal arsenal, which is well built, and amply supplied with naval stores.


Is an extensive but thinly-peopled district, lying between the same parallels of latitude as France and England, but in a climate infinitely more severe. During winter the frost is intense, and the surface of the ground is covered with snow to the depth of several feet. In many parts of the country, however, the summers are hot and pleasant.

The boundaries of Canada are, the United States on the south; the Atlantic Ocean, Labrador, and Hudson's Bay, on the east and north; and a wild and undescribed region on the west. This country is divided into two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada: the executive power in each province is vested in a governor; and a legislative council and an assembly are appointed for each, having power, with the consent of the governor, to make laws. In the legislative council of Lower Canada, there are fifteen members; and in that of Upper Canada seven; and the appointments are for life. In the assembly of Lower Canada there are fifty members; and in that of Upper Canada sixteen: these are chosen by the freeholders and do not continue in office longer than four years.

Canada was originally discovered by Sebastian Cabot, a navigator sent out by the English about the year 1497; but in the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was colonized by the French, who kept possession of it till the year 1763, when it fell into the hands of the British, to whom it still belongs. The long possession of this country by the French, has occasioned the French language to be chiefly spoken: it has also occasioned the prevailing religion to be Roman Catholic. The British government permits a toleration of all religions; but by far the greatest number of inhabitants are catholics. The clergy of the church of England, in both provinces, are only twelve in number, including the bishop of Quebec; whereas, those of the church of Rome amount to one hundred and twenty, including a bishop, and three vicars-general.

The whole number of inhabitants is considered to be about two hundred thousand, of whom fifty thousand are Indians. "Essentially a Frenchman, (says Mr. Hall,) the Canadian is gay, courteous, and contented. If the rigours of the climate have somewhat chilled the overflowing vivacity derived from his parent stock, he has still a sufficient portion of good spirits and loquacity. To strangers and travellers he is invariably civil; and he seems to value their good word beyond their money. He is considered parsimonious, because all his gains arise from his savings, and he is satisfied with the humblest fare." The Canadians have a great antipathy to the inhabitants of the United States. At this day, many even of the better informed among them believe that the American government is constantly plotting the ruin of Canada.

Whilst Canada was in the hands of the French, the commerce of the country was chiefly confined to the fisheries and fur-trade: agriculture was neglected, and extensive tracts of fertile soil lay uncultivated. But the English have both peopled and improved a very considerable portion of territory; and the trade is now of much importance. The Canadians export to Britain and to different British establishments, wheat and other grain, biscuit, beef, pork, butter, salmon, oil, timber, hemp, and various other articles. In many parts of both Canadas the soil is well adapted for the production of grain. Tobacco also thrives well in it; and culinary vegetables arrive at great perfection. The forests produce beech-trees, oaks, elms, ash, pine, sycamore, chesnut, and walnut; and a species of maple-tree, from the juice of which sugar is made, abounds throughout the country.

Many extensive tracts in Canada are covered with lakes and marshes; and the country is intersected by numerous rivers, some of which are navigable to considerable distances. Of the lakes, the most important are lake Superior, lake Huron, lake Michigan, lake Ontario, and lake Erie. These are adjacent to the territory of the United States. Lake Winipic is an expanse of water, more than two hundred and fifty miles in length, situated about the 53d degree of north latitude. The largest and noblest river in Canada is the St. Lawrence, which flows from lake Ontario, past the two towns of Montreal and Quebec, and falls into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This river meets the tide four miles from the sea; and to this place it is navigable for large vessels.

A Description of Quebec.

This city, the capital of Canada, stands at the northern extremity of a strip of high land, which follows the course of the river St. Lawrence, as far as the mouth of the Charles. The basis of these heights is a dark slate rock, of which most of the buildings in the town are constructed. Cape Diamond terminates the promontory, with a bold precipice towards the river. This rock derives its name from numerous transparent crystals, which are found upon it; and which are so abundant that, after a shower of rain, the ground glitters with them.

The Lower Town of Quebec is built at the foot of the heights; and the Upper Town occupies their crest. The former, snug and dirty, is the abode of persons engaged in trade, and of most of the lower classes: the latter, lofty and cold, is the seat of government, and the principal residence of the military.

With few exceptions, the houses in Quebec are built of stone. The roofs of the better sort are covered with sheets of iron or tin, and those of an inferior description, with boards. On the roofs ladders are usually placed, near the garret-windows, for the purpose of the chimney-sweepers ascending, on the outside, to clean the chimneys: for, in this country boys do not go up the chimneys, as in England; but two men, one at the top and the other at the bottom, sweep them, by pulling up and down a bundle of twigs or furze, tied to a rope.

The streets of the Lower Town are, for the most part, narrow and irregular. St. Peter's street is the best paved, and the widest of the whole. It contains several good and substantial houses, which are chiefly occupied by merchants and traders; but, from the colour of the stone of which the houses are constructed, and of the iron roofs, all the streets of Quebec have a heavy and gloomy appearance.

A street, called Mountain Street, which leads to the Upper Town, winds, in a serpentine direction, from the market-place up the hill, and terminates near the Upper Town market-place. This street, in winter, is extremely dangerous. The quantity of snow and ice, which here accumulate in large masses, renders it necessary for the inhabitants to wear outer shoes, that are shod with iron spikes. The boys of Quebec have a favourite amusement, in lying at full length with their breast upon a small kind of sledge, and sliding along the snow, from the top of the hill to the bottom: they glide down with astonishing velocity; yet, with their feet, they can guide or stop themselves, at pleasure.

The shops or stores of the traders in the Lower Town, do not exhibit any of that diversified and pleasing appearance which is so remarkable in London. Here the stranger sees nothing but heavy stone buildings, gloomy casements, and iron-cased shutters, painted red. If any show is made at the window, it is with paltry articles of cooking, earthen and hardware: there is, however, a tolerable display of bear-skins, seal-skins, foxes-tails, and buffalo-robes.

The taverns in Quebec are numerous; yet a stranger is much surprised to find only two houses which deserve that high-sounding appellation. This arises from the vanity that possesses all our trans-Atlantic brethren, to designate their paltry public-houses or spirit-shops, by the more dignified title of "tavern;" for through the whole of America, every dirty hole, where a few glasses of rum, gin, or whisky, are sold, is so called.

Of the public buildings in Quebec, the most important is the government-house, or castle of St. Louis, a large, plain, stone edifice, which forms one side of an open place or square, called the parade. Its front resembles that of a country gentleman's house in England; and the interior contains comfortable family apartments. The furniture is inherited and paid for by the successive owners. Opposite to the government-house stand the English cathedral church, and the court-house, both handsome buildings of modern construction. The other sides of the parade are formed by the Union Hotel, and a row of buildings which form the commencement of St. Louis Street.

The Upper Town is by far the most agreeable part of Quebec: its streets are not, indeed, remarkable for width, but many of them are well paved. In the Upper Town the heat, during summer, is not so intense as in the Lower Town; nor, in winter, though the cold is much severer, is it, as a residence, so dreary and uncomfortable.

There are, in Quebec, several catholic charitable institutions. Of these, the principal is the "Hotel Dieu," founded in 1637, for the accommodation and relief of poor sick people: it is under the management of a superior and thirty-six nuns. The "General Hospital," which stands at a little distance from the town, is a somewhat similar institution; and is governed by a superior and forty-three nuns. In the admission of patients into each of these establishments, no distinction is made, as to catholics or protestants. The Ursuline convent, founded in 1639, for the education of female children, stands within the city, and has a considerable appearance of wealth. Among the ornaments of the chapel are the skull and bones of a missionary, who had been murdered by the Indians for attempting their conversion.

About two miles from the town is a break in the line of cliffs, which forms a little recess, called Wolf's Cove. A steep pathway leads thence to the heights of the plains of Abram. On these plains are still to be seen, in the turf, traces of field-works, which were thrown up by the British army, in the celebrated siege of Quebec; and a stone is pointed out as that on which General Wolf expired.

The markets of Quebec are well supplied with every thing that the country affords; and, in general, at a very cheap rate. In the autumn, as soon as the river betwixt the town and the island of Orleans, is frozen over, an abundance of provisions is received from that island. The Canadians, at the commencement of winter, kill the greatest part of their stock, and carry it to market in a frozen state. The inhabitants of the towns supply themselves, at this season, with butcher's meat, poultry, and vegetables, to serve them till spring. These are kept in garrets or cellars; and, so long as they continue frozen, their goodness is preserved. Before they are prepared for the table, they are laid for some hours in cold water, to be thawed. In wintertime, milk is brought to market in large frozen cakes.

Great quantities of maple-sugar are sold, in Quebec, at about half the price of West India sugar. The manufacturing of this article takes place in the spring. The sap or juice, after it has been drawn from the trees, is boiled, and then poured into shallow dishes, where it takes the form of a thick and hard cake. Maple-sugar is very hard; and, when used, is scraped with a knife, as, otherwise, it would be a long time in dissolving.

The fruit of Canada is not remarkable either for excellence or cheapness. Strawberries and raspberries are, however, brought to market in great abundance: they are gathered on the plains, at the back of Quebec, and in the neighbouring woods, where they grow wild, in the utmost luxuriance. Apples and pears are chiefly procured from the vicinity of Montreal. Walnuts and filberts are by no means common; but hickory-nuts and hazel-nuts are to be obtained in all the woods.

The climate of Lower Canada is subject to violent extremes of heat and cold. At Quebec, the thermometer, in summer, is sometimes as high as 103 degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer; and, in winter, is at 36 degrees below 0. The average of summer heat is, in general, from 75 to 80 degrees; and the mean of the cold, in winter, is about 0.

From Christmas to Lady-day the weather is remarkably clear and fine; the sky is of an azure blue colour, and seldom obscured by fogs or clouds; and the frost is not often interrupted by falls of snow or rain. These advantages render a Canadian winter so agreeable, that the inhabitants, from sudden alterations of the weather, are never under the necessity of changing their style of dress, unless it be to discard their greatcoats and fur-caps, which, in consequence of the powerful warmth of the sun, is sometimes necessary. In the early part of the winter there is always much snow.

The spring, summer, and autumn of Canada, are all comprised within the five months of May, June, July, August, and September. The rest of the year may be considered as winter. During the month of October, the weather is sometimes pleasant, but nature has then put on her gloomy mantle; and the chilling blasts, from the north-west, remind the Canadians of the approach of snow and ice. November and April are the two most disagreeable months of the year: in one of these the snow is beginning to fall, and in the other it is going away.

MR. HALL'S Journey from Quebec to Montreal.

MR. HALL was in Canada during the summer of 1816; and, on the 28th of July, he left Quebec, on a journey to Montreal. He deviated somewhat from the usual road, that he might pass by the Jacques Cartier bridge, six or seven miles above the ferry. Here the river falls wildly down, betwixt its wooded shores; and, after forming several cascades, foams through a narrow channel, which seems cut out of the solid rock, to receive it. The rock, which constitutes its bed, is formed into regular platforms, descending, by natural steps, to the edge of the torrent. The Jacques Cartier is a river famous for its salmon, which are caught of large size, and in great abundance, below the bridge. At the foot of this bridge stands a little inn, where the angler may have his game cooked for supper, and where he may sleep in the lull of the torrent, below his chamber-window. After quitting this neighbourhood, the scenery of the St. Lawrence becomes flat and uniform. The road follows the direction of the river, sometimes running along the cliff, which once embanked it, and sometimes descending to the water's edge.

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