Imágenes de páginas

the scenery is heightened by the effect of a law, that whoever builds a farm-house, must likewise erect a church.

In prosecuting his journey, Mr. B. performed a distance of nearly fifty miles in one day, without the mules having once tasted food or water on the way. Puebla de los Angelos, the next city in the route, does not yield to any in America; it now contains about 90,000 inhabitants; and here the necessaries of life, and most of its luxuries (fish excepted), are to be had at a reasonable rate. The wealth of the religious establishments, and the pomp of their ceremonies, are unrivaled; while the ignorance of the clergy is most deplorable; so that the word Britannicos conveyed to their minds the idea that our travellers were not Christians-a belief which is universally entertained throughout this country. The windows of many churches and monasteries in Puebla are formed of a single large slab of very hard and transparent alabaster, which admits a mild pure light, resembling the best effect of moonlight; scarcely a shadow is perceptible. It is found a few leagues from the city, and blocks of it could be transported to Vera Cruz at a trifling expense: thence exported, it would certainly be a valuable commodity in England, France, and particularly in Italy. The police in this city seems to be good and well regulated. Handsome hackney-coaches, drawn by mules, are standing ready for hire in the great square..

Puebla was formerly celebrated for its manufactory of coarse woollen cloths, but this has now fallen off. No clay fit for the fabrication of porcelain or fine earthenware is said to be found in Mexico; but this city excels in the coarse red ware, and the glass it produces is good.-Proceeding onward, Mr. B. fell in with the pyramid of Cholleda, constructed of unburnt brick and clay, and whose basis is more extensive than that of the great pyramid of Egypt. In his representation of this edifice, as also on another occasion, Mr. Humboldt is accused of inaccuracy. The country immediately around Mexico resembles the worst parts of Lincolnshire; but the city itself well repaid, by its magnificent appearance, the fatigue Mr. Bullock had undergone, to arrive there; unfortunately, however, owing to the șixteen years of revolutionary warfare, the furniture and internal decorations of most of the houses, ill accord with their splendid exterior. The period of its greatest splendour, wealth, and luxury, may be placed within one century from its conquest by Cortez. The clergy have suffered less than the rest of the inhabitants ; and the religious processions of Rome, or any other city of Europe, lose much in the comparison with those that take place here; but the newly-arrived European is shocked at the idea of kneeling on the boards, which form the floors of the churches, and are left loose to receive the bodies of the dead-for this is the place of burial; whilst in no part of New Spain is it customary to erect any monument, to point out the place of interment. The beggars, throughout this metropolis (as in every other Catholic country), are most numerous, disgusting, and importunate. A national establishment for affording temporary relief to persons in pecuniary distress, has long been founded in Mexico, under the protection of the government, from

with us.

which great advantage has been derived to the poor, as the public functionary of this institution has no interest of his own to serve, and as it prevents the great facility with which stolen property is disposed of among us. Not one landscape nor architectural painter remains in this vast city; and the only few artists are those who copy religious subjects for the churches, and some who attempt portraits; but they are deplorably bad. I saw no traces of the occupation of the sculptor in marble: but an equestrian statue of Charles V., erected about twenty years since, is a fine specimen of casting, which would not disgrace the labour of Michael Angelo, Cellini, or John of Bologna. The theatre is a good building, and of considerable size: the front of the boxes is scarcely raised a foot from the floor, so that the wholelength figures of the ladies are seen to much more advantage than 3: The distress of the state is now so urgent, that it has been found necessary to discontinue the expense even of the botanical garden : a few intelligent gardeners from the north of our island, would soon acquire fortunes in the neighbourhood of Mexico. As this country, owing to Spanish policy, is three hundred years behind Europe in every species of refinement, the machinery, it may be supposed, is of the most clumsy and awkward description; which is particularly apparent in the operations carried on at the mint. Rubies appear to be the only jewels worth importing from Mexico. The manufactory of gold and silver lace is carried on in the greatest perfection. Tailors here make great profit, as clothes are 300 per cent. dearer than in England, and are seldom well made. A good confectioner from this country would soon make a fortune. The price of shaving is 1000 per cent, dearer than in England, and equals half a physician's fee. Cabinet work is very inferior and expensive; the saw is still unknown; the solid trees make each but one board. The construction of sawing-mills in the woods near Tolluca would be productive of great profit. They make excellent beaver hats in the capital, as well as in some of the provinces. · Their tanned leather is very indifferent, though the country produces abundance of fine bark; and skins are cheap. Perhaps from linen not being in use among the lower classes, it may be difficult to procure the material for the best paper,

otherwise the manufacture of it here would be very advantageous. The making of cutlery and hardware of any kind is scarcely attempted; what is done is wretchedly executed. Our blue-and-white earthenware is in great request. Our manufacturers of soft goods, of almost every description, except fine woollen cloths, will find a considerable market in New Spain. In woollen cloth, the fineness of the fabric seems to be an inferior consideration to the shining surface. Cotton stockings are now in demand. I believe a few of our dashing milliners, with a tolerable stock in trade, would soon realize a property, either here or at Xalapa, and by introducing British manufactures, where they are at present little known, add considerably to their consumption; but the people must recover from the effects of their struggle for independence, before they can purchase expensive luxuries. There are no optical instruments made in Mexico; nor is there an artist who can repair even a common barometer. Cast iron is

almost unknown in New Spain. English beer and porter are in great request, and often sold at four or five dollars the bottle; the bottle itself is sold in Mexico at half a dollar, and in the provinces, at a whole one. Medical and surgical knowledge is less cultivated here than in Europe. An able oculist would be a valuable acquisition and blessing in Mexico. At the execution of a criminal who was strángled, the behaviour of the populace was most decorous; which Mr. Bullock attributes to the religious feelings of all who were present. Mexico

possesses a fine breed of light, active, spirited little horses, which are used only for the saddle; the horsemen are extremely expert; the ladies of the city of Mexico seldom appear on horseback; when they do, they are seated in a clumsy, box-like saddle, placed on the right side, which prevents them from sitting in a graceful manner. A good, handsome horse may be purchased for twelve or fifteen pounds; some are sold for two hundred pounds, or more: trotting is considered a defect. Of the mules, which are used for draught, some are near eighteen hands high, and of proportionate strength. A fine breed of pigs is kept by several persons of wealth, as an article of trade, in the city of Mexico; and the care and attention paid to their cleanliness and comfort, far exceed any thing I have seen elsewhere. A very curious and diminutive species of wild dog is found in the mountains to the north-east of Durrango: they are only eight or nine inches long; in form, something like a greyhound; with a large high projecting forehead, long ears, and a long tail; they burrow in the ground, and are said to feed on grass and other vegetable substances. Mexico produces an animal which seems to connect the wolf, fox, and dog: it is called the Cocyotie, and is about two-thirds of the size of the wolf, which it greatly resembles in size and colour; the smell of them is stronger and more disagreeable than that of the fox. Mr. B. has ascertained, that humming-birds feed on insects,-a circumstance which has been hitherto questioned. The climate of this country is exceedingly fine and salubrious, except near the sea-shore. Of the vegetable productions, their beauty. variety, and flavour, no European can form a just idea: some cypress trees were seen no less than sixty feet in circumference. From the fermented juice of the great American aloe (Agava Americana), is made the favourite liquor called Pulque.

The Indians, Mr. Bullock represents as the “ most courteous, gentle, and unoffending creatures in existence;" simple, amiable, and ingenious, they greatly excel in modeling and working in wax; they seem always gratified with any little attention from Europeans. Their neat, simple residences, (in the warmer parts mere birdcages,) have often afforded me much pleasure; their bed, a mat spread on the floor, or a net suspended from the ceiling, a few earthen vessels and calibashes, with the stone for preparing their tortillos, or bread of Indian corn, form the bulk of their goods. The rude figure or print of a saint, and generally a few toys of earthenware, serve as ornaments, and constitute their finery: yet I have never seen a people more happy or contented; they are strongly prejudiced in favour of their own customs: at a festal dance in a church, in honour of Saint Mark's Day, they displayed great skill in the performance of their several parts; when, habited in the old costume, they represented some occurrence in the time of Montezuma. Mr. Bullock likewise witnessed some very dexterous feats, exactly the same as those exhibited before Cortez, on his first arrival. Mexico still possesses many subjects of study for the antiquarian; sculptured idols are to be found in many parts of the city. A peculiarity common to most of the Mexican statues may be remarked ; that some of them have teeth of a white china-like substance, while the eyes of others are of different-coloured stones.

The government displayed great liberality in forwarding Mr. Bullock's researches; and even the priests contributed their assistance. Whilst one of the idols was being disinterred, several of the populace wished to be informed whether the English, whom they considered to be non-Christians, worshipped the same gods as the Mexicans did before their conversion. On another occasion, an old Indian remarked, “ It is true, we have three very good Spanish gods, but we might still have been allowed to keep a few of those of our ancestors.” And I was informed, that chaplets of flowers had been placed on the figure by natives who had stolen thither, unseen, in the evening, for that purpose.

Among the most striking remains of antiquity are the magnificent ruins of Tezcuco : near them is the bath of Montezuma, cut in the living porphyry rock with the most mathematical precision, and standing out like a martin's nest from the side of a house. This is but one object out of innumerable others which cover a mountain that has never been noticed by any writer. At Huexotla is a remarkable bridge with a pointed arch, 'nearly forty feet high, said to have been built by the Indians before the conquest. The pyramids of San Juan de Teotihuacan vie with the pyramids of Egypt; and there can be little doubt, Mr. Bullock thinks, that, at the time of the conquest by Cortez, these immense structures were in the same state in which they are now. What a subject for contemplation!-a people whose customs, costume, religion, and architecture, strongly resembled those of an enlightened nation of Africa, which may be said to have ceased to exist twenty centuries before this continent was discovered ! Who now can solve this difficulty?

The silver mines, one of which was granted by the government to Mr. Bullock, being now almost entirely neglected, and the processes therein employed belonging to the infancy of science, we shall enter into no details on the subject.' This article having been extended to rather an unusual length, we have to regret that it is not in our power to insert the directions with which the author concludes his interesting volume, given by Dr. James Copland, which preserved the health of Mr. Bullock during the whole of his perilous journey; and which cannot be too closely followed by all whom necessity or choice may lead to a tropical climate. A Voyage to India. By James Wallace.-8vo. pp. 166. T. and G.

Underwood, Fleet-street. The pride of exhibiting learning is not more common than hazard

It exists in two kinds of people—those who know nothin.


and those who know something. Those who know nothing are proud from folly; and those who know something are proud that they have just tasted the Pierian spring.

The writer before us is obviously a good kind of man, determined gré malgré, to discharge at the public a book of some description or other. The consequence is, that what a great philosopher has observed, may be eminently applied to him, That the writers of modern travels inform us of nothing that we did not know before. He who never travels, as he who never reads, sees the world only in himself. Mr. Wallace, as we have already said, is full of bon hommie, and we are sorry to hurt his feelings; but, really, if every person is to publish accounts of all his ordinary “ sayings and doings," like our traveller, the great evil of great books will be so enlarged, that it will be necessary to build libraries on a Brobdignag scale, for their reception. In order to prove that, in saying this, we are not too severe, we give the following extract:

“At the call to breakfast, I went in, although I had little inclination for the meal, to take my seat at table along with the rest; but I found few others there ; few, out of our number, had made their appearance, and even these few, as soon as the eating articles were produced, and the caterer had commenced sending them round, got up and made their exit rather hurriedly. I followed very soon, for I found things far from being right, and, like the others, took the way to my cot, into which I tumbled in a most pitiable condition. All Friday it continued to blow, and all that day, I, and many others, were, as we supposed, in a state of greater misery than ever mortal was before. The moment we raised our head from the pillow, such horrible sensations ensued, that we were glad instantly to get it down again. Some, who fought against their feelings, and got out of bed, had scarcely reached the floor, when a roll of the vessel sent them tumbling to the other side of the cabin ; and before they had time to recover themselves, another roll would send them as quickly and roughly back again ; and thus tumbled and bumped about, they were glad to get into their softer and safer births again. Others, who got the length of beginning to dress, in the attempt to draw on a stocking, or in any other act which occupied both hands, and put the body on rather a ticklish balance, were thrown down with such violence, that for some days afterwards they had cause to remember it."

As apothecaries undergo examination before they are allowed to vend medicines for the body, we could wish that some kind of board were established for analyzing the qualifications of those who presume to be venders of medicine for the mind. In the meanwhile, we cannot but conclude with the friendly offer to Mr. Wallace, 'of an Indian Tale, in return for his Indian Voyage. It is related by the sage Lockman, that being one day asked by Saadi, from what sources he drew his knowledge, –“From the blind,” replied the philosopher, “who never plant their feet till they have tried the firmness of the soil. I observed before I reasoned, and I reasoned before I wrote.”

Narrative of a Pedestrian Journey through Russia and Siberian Tar

tary, from the Frontiers of China to the Frozen Sea and Kamtchatka ; performed during the Years 1820, 1821, 1822, and 1823.

By Capt. John Dundas Cochrane.—8vo. pp. 564. Murray. CAPT. COCHRANE, one of that family distinguished for genius, enterprize, and eccentricity, has made the most extraordinary journey ever made by man; and published, relative to it, one of the most curious and interesting books. ' Fearless of consequences, he left the

« AnteriorContinuar »