Chapter V



AGRICULTURE in Mexico was in the same advanced state as the other arts of social life. In few countries, indeed, has it been more respected. It was closely interwoven with the civil and religious institutions of the nation. There were peculiar deities to preside over it; the names of the months and of the religious festivals had more or less reference to it. The public taxes, as we have seen, were often paid in agricultural produce. All, except the soldiers and great nobles, even the inhabitants of the cities, cultivated the soil. The work was chiefly done by the men; the women scattering the seed, husking the corn, and taking part only in the lighter labours of the field.

There was no want of judgment in the management of their ground. When somewhat exhausted, it was permitted to recover by lying fallow. Its extreme dryness was relieved by canals, with which the land was partially irrigated; and the same end was promoted by severe penalties against the destruction of the woods, with which the country, as already noticed, was well covered before the Conquest. Lastly, they provided for their harvests ample granaries, which were admitted by the conquerors to be of admirable construction. In this provision we see the forecast of civilised man.

Amongst the most important articles of husbandry, we may notice the banana, whose facility of cultivation and exuberant returns are so fatal to habits of systematic and hardy industry. Another celebrated plant was the cacao, the fruit of which furnished the chocolate,- from the Mexican chocolatl,- now so common a beverage throughout Europe. The vanilla, confined to a small district of the sea-coast, was used for the same purposes, of flavouring their food and drink, as with us. The great staple of the country, as, indeed, of the American continent, was maize, or Indian corn, which grew freely along the valleys, and up the steep sides of the Cordilleras to the high level of the talbleland. The Aztecs were as curious in its preparation, and as well instructed in its manifold uses, as the most expert New England housewife. Its gigantic stalks, in these equinoctial regions, afford a saccharine matter, not found to the same extent in northern latitudes, and supplied the natives with sugar little inferior to that of the cane itself, which was not introduced among them till after the Conquest. But the miracle of nature was the great Mexican aloe, or maguey, whose clustering pyramid of flowers, towering above their dark coronals of leaves, were seen sprinkled over many a broad acre of the tableland. As we have already noticed, its bruised leaves afforded a paste from which paper was manufactured; its juice was fermented into an intoxicating beverage, pulque, of which the natives, to this day, are excessively fond; its leaves further supplied an impenetrable thatch for the more humble dwellings; thread, of which coarse stuffs were made, and strong cords, were drawn from its tough and twisted fibres; pins and needles were made of the thorns at the extremity of its leaves; and the root, when properly cooked, was converted into a palatable and nutritious food. The agave, in short, was meat, drink, clothing, and writing materials for the Aztec! Surely, never did Nature enclose in so compact a form so many of the elements of human comfort and civilisation!

It would be obviously out of place to enumerate in these pages all the varieties of Plants, many of them of medicinal virtue, which have been introduced from Mexico into Europe. Still less can I attempt a catalogue of its flowers, which, with their variegated and gaudy colours, form the greatest attraction of our greenhouses. The opposite climates embraced within the narrow latitudes of New Spain have given to it, probably, the richest and most diversified Flora to be found in any country on the globe. These different products were systematically arranged by the Aztecs, who understood their properties, and collected them into nurseries, more extensive than any then existing in the Old World. It is not improbable that they suggested the idea of those "gardens of plants" which were introduced into Europe not many years after the Conquest.

The Mexicans were as well acquainted with the mineral, as with the vegetable treasures of their kingdom. Silver, lead, and, tin they drew from the mines of Tasco; copper from the mountains of Zacotollan. These were taken, not only from the crude masses on the surface, but from veins wrought in the solid rock, into which they opened extensive galleries. In fact, the traces of their labours furnished the best indications for the early Spanish miners. Gold, found on the surface, or gleaned from the beds of rivers, was cast into bars, or, in the form of dust, made part of the regular tribute of the southern provinces of the empire. The use of iron, with which the soil was impregnated, was unknown to them. Notwithstanding its abundance, it demands so many processes to prepare it for use, that it has commonly been one of the last metals pressed into the service of man. The age of iron has followed that of brass, in fact as well as in fiction.

They found a substitute in an alloy of tin and copper; and, with tools made of this bronze, could cut not only metals, but, with the aid of a siliceous dust, the hardest substances, as basalt, porphyry, amethysts, and emeralds. They fashioned these last, which were found very large, into many curious and fantastic forms. They cast, also, vessels of gold and silver, carving them with their metallic chisels in a very delicate manner. Some of the silver vases were so large, that a man could not encircle them with his arms. They imitated very nicely the figures of animals, and, what was extraordinary, could mix the metals in such a manner, that the feathers of a bird, or the scales of a fish, should be alternately of gold and silver. The Spanish goldsmiths admitted their superiority over themselves in these ingenious works.

They employed another tool, made of itztli, or obsidian, a dark transparent mineral, exceedingly hard, found in abundance in their hills. They made it into knives, razors, and their serrated swords. It took a keen edge, though soon blunted. With this they wrought the various stones and alabasters employed in the construction of their public works and principal dwellings. I shall defer a more particular account of these to the body of the narrative, and will only add here, that the entrances and angles of the buildings were profusely ornamented with images, sometimes of their fantastic deities, and frequently of animals. The latter were executed with great accuracy. "The former," according to Torquemada, "were the hideous reflection of their own souls. And it was not till after they had been converted to Christianity, that they could model the true figure of a man." The old chronicler's facts are well founded, whatever we may think of his reasons. The allegorical phantasms of his religion, no doubt, gave a direction to the Aztec artist, in his delineation of the human figure; supplying him with an imaginary beauty in the personification of divinity, itself. As these superstitions lost their hold on his mind, it opened to the influences of a purer taste; and, after the Conquest, the Mexicans furnished many examples of correct, and some of beautiful portraiture.

Sculptured images were so numerous, that the foundations of the cathedral in the Plaza Mayor, the great square of Mexico, are said to be entirely composed of them. This spot may, indeed, be regarded as the Aztec forum,- the great depository of the treasures of ancient sculpture, which now he hid in its bosom. Such monuments are spread all over the capital, however, and a new cellar can hardly be dug, or foundation laid, without turning up some of the mouldering relics of barbaric art. But they are little heeded, and, if not wantonly broken in pieces at once, are usually worked into the rising wall, or supports of the new edifice! Two celebrated bas-reliefs of the last Montezuma and his father, cut in the solid rock in the beautiful groves of Chapoltepec, were deliberately destroyed, as late as the last century, by order of the government! The monuments of the barbarian meet with as little respect from civilised man, as those of the civilised man from the barbarian.

The most remarkable piece of sculpture yet disinterred is the great calendar stone, noticed in the preceding chapter. It consists of dark porphyry, and in its original dimensions, as taken from the quarry, is computed to have weighed nearly fifty tons. It was transported from the mountains beyond Lake Chalco, a distance of many leagues, over a broken country intersected by water-courses and canals. In crossing a bridge which traversed one of these latter, in the capital, the supports gave way, and the huge mass was precipitated into the water, whence it was with difficulty recovered. The fact, that so enormous a fragment of porphyry could be thus safely carried for leagues, in the face of such obstacles, and without the aid of cattle,- for the Aztecs had no animals of draught,- suggests to us no mean ideas of their mechanical skill, and of their machinery; and implies a degree of cultivation little inferior to that demanded for the geometrical and astronomical science displayed in the inscriptions on this very stone.

The ancient Mexicans made utensils of earthenware for the ordinary purposes of domestic life, numerous specimens of which still exist. They made cups and vases of a lackered or painted wood, impervious to wet, and gaudily coloured. Their dyes were obtained from both mineral and vegetable substances. Among them was the rich crimson of the cochineal, the modern rival of the famed Tyrian purple. It was introduced into Europe from Mexico, where the curious little insect was nourished with great care on plantations of cactus, since fallen into neglect. The natives were thus enabled to give a brilliant colouring to the webs, which were manufactured of every degree of fineness from the cotton raised in abundance throughout the warmer regions of the country. They had the art, also, of interweaving with these the delicate hair of rabbits and other animals, which made a cloth of great warmth as well as beauty, of a kind altogether original; and on this they often laid a rich embroidery of birds, flowers, or some other fanciful device.

But the art in which they most delighted was their plumaje, or feather-work. With this they could produce all the effect of a beautiful mosaic. The gorgeous plumage of the tropical birds, especially of the parrot tribe, afforded every variety of colour; and the fine down of the humming-bird, which revelled in swarms among the honeysuckle bowers of Mexico, supplied them with soft aerial tints that gave an exquisite finish to the picture. The feathers, pasted on a fine cotton web, were wrought into dresses for the wealthy, hangings for apartments, and ornaments for the temples. No one of the American fabries excited such admiration in Europe, whither numerous specimens were sent by the Conquerors. It is to be regretted that so graceful an art should have been suffered to fall into decay.

There were no shops in Mexico, but the various manufactures and agricultural products were brought together for sale in the great market-places of the principal cities. Fairs were held there every fifth day, and were thronged by a numerous concourse of persons, who came to buy or sell from all the neighbouring country. A particular quarter was allotted to each kind of article. The numerous transactions were conducted without confusion, and with entire regard to justice, under the inspection of magistrates appointed for the purpose. The traffic was carried on partly by barter, and partly by means of a regulated currency, of different values. This consisted of transparent quills of gold dust; of bits of tin, cut in the form of a T; and of bags of cacao, containing a specified number of grains. "Blessed money," exclaims Peter Martyr, "which exempts its possessors from avarice, since it cannot be long hoarded, nor hidden under ground!"

There did not exist in Mexico that distinction of castes found among the Egyptian and Asiatic nations. It was usual, however, for the son to follow the occupation of his father. The different trades were arranged into something like guilds; having each a particular district of the city appropriated to it, with its own chief, its own tutelar deity, its peculiar festivals, and the like. Trade was held in avowed estimation by the Aztecs. "Apply thyself, my son," was the advice of an aged chief, "to agriculture, or to feather-work, or some other honourable calling. Thus did your ancestors before you. Else, how would they have provided for themselves and their families? Never was it heard, that nobility alone was able to maintain its possessor." Shrewd maxims, that must have sounded somewhat strange in the ear of a Spanish hidalgo!

But the occupation peculiarly respected was that of the merchant. It formed so important and singular a feature of their social economy, as to merit a much more particular notice than it has received from historians. The Aztec merchant was a sort of itinerant trader, who made his journeys to the remotest borders of Anahuac, and to the countries beyond, carrying with him merchandise of rich stuffs, jewelry, slaves, and other valuable commodities. The slaves were obtained at the great market of Azcapotzalco, not many leagues from the capital, where fairs were regularly held for the sale of these unfortunate beings. They were brought thither by their masters, dressed in their gayest apparel, and instructed to sing, dance, and display their little stock of personal accomplishments, so as to recommend themselves to the purchaser. Slave-dealing was an honourable calling among the Aztecs.

With this rich freight, the merchant visited the different provinces, always bearing some present of value from his own sovereign to their chiefs, and usually receiving others in return, with a permission to trade. Should this be denied him, or should he meet with indignity or violence, he had the means of resistance in his power. He performed his journeys with a number of companions of his own rank, and a large body of inferior attendants who were employed to transport the goods. Fifty or sixty pounds were the usual load for a man. The whole caravan went armed, and so well provided against sudden hostilities, that they could make good their defence, if necessary, till reinforced from home. In one instance, a body of these militant traders stood a siege of four years in the town of Ayotlan, which they finally took from the enemy. Their own government, however, was always prompt to embark in a war on this ground, finding it a very convenient pretext for extending the Mexican empire. It was not unusual to allow the merchants to raise levies themselves, which were placed under their command. It was, moreover, very common for the prince to employ the merchants as a sort of spies, to furnish him information of the state of the countries through which they passed, and the dispositions of the inhabitants towards himself.

Thus their sphere of action was much enlarged beyond that of a humble trader, and they acquired a high consideration in the body politic. They were allowed to assume insignia and devices of their own. Some of their number composed what is called by the Spanish writers a council of finance; at least, this was the case in Tezcuco. They were much consulted by the monarch, who had some of them constantly near his person; addressing them by the title of "uncle," which may remind one of that of primo, or "cousin," by which a grandee of Spain is saluted by his sovereign. They were allowed to have their own courts, in which civil and criminal cases, not excepting capital, were determined; so that they formed an independent community, as it were, of themselves. And, as their various traffic supplied them with abundant stores of wealth, they enjoyed many of the most essential advantages of an hereditary aristocracy.

That trade should prove the path to eminent political preferment in a nation but partially civilised, where the names of soldier and priest are usually the only titles to respect, is certainly an anomaly in history. It forms some contrast to the standard of the more polished monarchies of the Old World, in which rank is supposed to be less dishonoured by a life of idle ease or frivolous pleasure, than by those active pursuits which promote equally the prosperity of the state and of the individual. If civilisation corrects many prejudices, it must be allowed that it creates others.

We shall be able to form a better idea of the actual refinement of the natives, by penetrating into their domestic life, and observing the intercourse between the sexes. We have fortunately the means of doing this. We shall there find the ferocious Aztec frequently displaying all the sensibility of a cultivated nature; consoling his friends under affliction, or congratulating them on their good fortune, as on occasion of a marriage, or of the birth or the baptism of a child, when he was punctilious in his visits, bringing presents of costly dresses and ornaments, or the more simple offering of flowers, equally indicative of his sympathy. The visits, at these times, though regulated with all the precision of Oriental courtesy, were accompanied by expressions of the most cordial and affectionate regard.

The discipline of children, especially at the public schools, as stated in a previous chapter, was exceedingly severe. But after she had come to a mature age, the Aztec maiden was treated by her parents with a tenderness from which all reserve seemed banished. In the counsels to a daughter about to enter into life, they conjured her to preserve simplicity in her manners and conversation, uniform neatness in her attire, with strict attention to personal cleanliness. They inculcated modesty as the great ornament of a woman, and implicit reverence for her husband; softening their admonitions by such endearing epithets, as showed the fulness of a parent's love.

Polygamy was permitted among the Mexicans, though chiefly confined, probably, to the wealthiest classes. And the obligations of the marriage vow, which was made with all the formality of a religious ceremony, were fully recognised, and impressed on both parties. The women are described by the Spaniards as pretty, unlike their unfortunate descendants of the present day, though with the same serious and rather melancholy cast of countenance. Their long black hair, covered, in some parts of the country, by a veil made of the fine web of the pita, might generally be seen wreathed with flowers, or among the richer people, with strings of precious stones, and pearls from the Gulf of California. They appear to have been treated with much consideration by their husbands; and passed their time in indolent tranquillity, or in such feminine occupations as spinning, embroidery and the like; while their maidens beguiled the hours by the rehearsal of traditionary tales and ballads.

The woman partook equally with the men of social festivities and entertainments. These were often conducted on a large scale, both as regards the number of guests and the costliness of the preparations. Numerous attendants, of both sexes, waited at the banquet. The halls were scented with perfumes, and the courts strewed with odoriferous herb and flowers, which were distributed in profusion among the guests, as they arrived. Cotton napkins and ewers of water were placed before them, as they took their seats at the board; for the venerable ceremony of ablution, before and after eating, was punctiliously observed by the Aztecs. Tobacco was then offered to the company, in pipes, mixed up with aromatic substances, or in the form of cigars, inserted in tubes of tortoise-shell or silver. They compressed the nostrils with the fingers, while they inhaled the smoke, which they frequently swallowed. Whether the women, who sat apart from the men at table, were allowed the indulgence of the fragrant weed as in the most polished circles of modern Mexico, is not told us. It is a curious fact, that the Aztecs also took the dried leaf in the pulverised form of snuff.

The table was well provided with substantial meats, especially game; among which the most conspicuous was the turkey, erroneously supposed, as its name imports, to have come originally from the East. These more solid dishes were flanked by others of vegetables and fruits, of every delicious variety found on the North American continent. The different viands were prepared in various ways, with delicate sauces and seasoning, of which the Mexicans were very fond. Their palate was still further regaled by confections and pastry, for which their maize-flour and sugar supplied ample materials. One other dish, of a disgusting nature, was sometimes added to the feast, especially when the celebration partook of a religious character. On such occasions a slave was sacrificed, and his flesh elaborately dressed, formed one of the chief ornaments of the banquet. Cannibalism, in the guise of an Epicurean science, becomes even the more revolting.

The meats were kept warm by chafing-dishes. The table was ornamented with vases of silver, and sometimes gold, of delicate workmanship. The drinking-cups and spoons were of the same costly materials, and likewise of tortoise-shell. The favourite beverage was the chocolatl, flavoured with vanilla and different spices. They had a way of preparing the froth of it, so as to make it almost solid enough to be eaten, and took it cold. The fermented juice of the maguey, with a mixture of sweets and acids, supplied also various agreeable drinks of different degrees of strength, and formed the chief beverage of the elder part of the company.

As soon as they had finished their repast, the young people rose from the table, to close the festivities of the day with dancing. They danced gracefully, to the sound of various instruments, accompanying their movements with chants of a pleasing, though somewhat plaintive character. The older guests continued at table, sipping pulque, and gossiping about other times, till the virtues of the exhilarating beverage put them in good humour with their own. Intoxication was not rare in this part of the company, and, what is singular, was excused in them, though severely punished in the younger.

The Aztec character was perfectly original and unique. It was made up of incongruities apparently irreconcilable. It blended into one the marked peculiarities of different nations, not only of the same place of civilisation, but as far removed from each other as the extremes of barbarism and refinement. It may find a fitting parallel in their own wonderful climate, capable of producing, on a few square leagues of surface, the boundless variety of vegetable forms which belong to the frozen regions of the North, the temperate zone of Europe, and the burning skies of Arabia and Hindostan!

1. This latter grain, according to Humboldt, was found by the Europeans in the New World, from the South of Chili to Pennsylvania; (Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 408;) he might have added, to the St. Lawrence. Our Puritan fathers found it in abundance on the New England coast, wherever they landed. See Morton, New England's Memorial, (Boston, 1826,) p. 68.--­Gookin, Massachusetts Historical Collections, chap. 3.

2. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 31.
      "Admirable example for our times," exclaims the good father, "when women are not only unfit for the labors of the field, but have too much levity to attend to their own household!"

3. A striking contrast also to the Egyptians, with whom some antiquaries are disposed to iden­tify the ancient Mexicans. Sophocles notices the effeminacy of the men in Egypt, who stayed at home tending the loom, while their wives were employed in severe labors out of doors.
                  "Ω παντ εκεινω τοις εν Αιγυπτω νομοις
                  Φυσον κατεικασθεντε και βιου τροφας.
                  Εκεο γαρ οι μεν αρσενεςκατα στεγας
                  Θακουσιν ιστουργουντες αι δε συννομος
                  Ταξω βιου τροφεια ποσυνουσ αει."
                              SOPHOCL., Œdip. Col., v. 337-341.

4. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 32.--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II. pp. 153-155.
      "Jamas padeciéron hambre," says the former writer, "sino en pocas ocasiones." If these famines were rare, they were very distressing, however, and lasted very long. Comp. Ixtlil­xochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 41, 71, et alibi.

5. Oviedo considers the musa an imported plant; and Hernandez, in his copious catalogue, makes no mention of it at all. But Humboldt, who has given much attention to it, concludes, that, if some species were brought into the country, others were indigenous. (Essai Politique, tom. II. pp. 382-388.) If we may credit Clavigero, the banana was the forbidden fruit, that tempted our poor mother Eve! Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 49, nota.

6. Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.--Hernandez, de Historiâ Plantarum Novæ Hispaniæ, (Matriti, 1790,) lib. 6, cap. 87.

7. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 8, cap. 13, et alibi.

8. Carta del. Lic. Zuazo, MS.
                  He extols the honey of the maize, as equal to that of the bees. (Also Oviedo, Hist. Na­tural de las Indias, cap. 4, ap. Barcia, tom. I.) Hernandez, who celebrates the manifold ways in which the maize was prepared, derives it from the Haytian word, mahiz. Hist. Plantarum, lib. 6, cap. 44, 45.

9. And is still, in one spot at least, San Angel,--three leagues from the capital. Another mill was to have been established, a few years since, in Puebla. Whether this has actually been done I am ignorant. See the Report of the Committee on Agriculture to the Senate of the United States, March 12, 1838.

10. Before the Revolution, the duties on the pulque formed so important a branch of revenue, that the cities of Mexico, Puebla, and Toluca alone, paid $817,739 to government. (Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 47.) It requires time to reconcile Europeans to the peculiar flavor of this liquor, on the merits of which they are consequently much divided. There is but one opinion among the natives. The English reader will find a good account of its manufacture in Ward's Mexico, vol. II. pp. 55-60.

11. Hernandez enumerates the several species of the maguey, which are turned to these mani­fold uses, in his learned work, De Hist. Plantarum. (Lib. 7, cap. 71 et seq.) M. de Humboldt considers them all varieties of the agave Americana, familiar in the southern parts, both of the United States and Europe. (Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 487 et seq.) This opinion has brought on him a rather sour rebuke from our countryman, the late Dr. Perrine, who pronounces them a distinct species from the American agave; and regards one of the kinds, the pita, from which the fine thread is obtained, as a totally distinct genus. (See the Report of the Committee on Agriculture.) Yet the Baron may find authority for all the properties ascribed by him to the maguey, in the most accredited writers, who have resided more or less time in Mexico. See, among others, Hernandez, ubi supra.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 2; lib. 11, cap. 7.--Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 3, cap. 19.--Carta del Lic. Zuazo, MS. The last, speaking of the maguey, which produces the fermented drink, says expressly, "De lo que queda de las dichas hojas se aprovechan, como de lino mui delgado, ó de Olanda, de que hacen lienzos mui primos para vestir, é bien delgados." It cannot be denied, however, that Dr. Perrine shows himself intimately acquainted with the structure and habits of the tropical plants which, with such patriotic spirit, he proposed to introduce into Florida.

12. The first regular establishment of this kind, according to Carli, was at Padua, in 1545. Lettres Améric., tom. I, chap. 21.

13. P. Martyr, De Orbe Novo, Decades, (Compluti, 1530,) dec. 5, p. 191.--Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 3.--Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. III. pp. 114-125.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 34. "Men wrought in brass," says Hesiod, "when iron did not exist."
                  Χαλκω δ εργαζοντο μελας δ ουκ εσκε σιδηρος.
                              HESIOD, Εργα και Ημεραι.
      The Abbé Raynal contends that the ignorance of iron must necessarily have kept the Mexicans in a low state of civilization, since without it "they could have produced no work in metal, worth looking at, no masonry nor architecture, engraving, nor sculpture." (History of the Indies, Eng. trans., vol. III. b. 6.) Iron, however, if known, was little used by the Ancient Egyptians, whose mighty monuments were hewn with bronze tools, while their weapons and domestic utensils were of the same material, as appears from the green color given to them in their paintings.

14. Gama, Descripcion, Parte 2, pp. 25-29.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., ubi supra.

15. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 15-17.--Boturini, Idea, p. 77.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., loc. cit.
      Herrera, who says they could also enamel, commends the skill of the Mexican goldsmiths in making birds and animals with movable wings and limbs, in a most curious fashion. (Hist. General, dec. 2. lib. 7, cap. 15.) Sir John Maundeville, as usual,
                                    "with his hair on end.
                        At his own wonders,"
notices the "gret marvayle" of similar pieces of mechanism, at the court of the grand Chane of Cathay. See his Voiage and Travaile, chap. 20.

16. Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 11.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 34.--­Gama, Descripcion, Parte 2, pp. 27, 28.

17. "Parece, que permitia Dios, que la figura de sus cuerpos se asimilase á la que tenian sus almas, por el pecado, en que siempre permanecian." Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 34.

18. Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II. p. 195.

19. Gama, Descripcion, Parte 1, p. 1. Besides the plaza mayor, Gama points out the Square of Tlatelolco, as a great cemetery of ancient relics. It was the quarter to which the Mexicans re­treated, on the siege of the capital.

20. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 34.--Gama, Descripcion, Parte 2, pp. 81-83.
      These statues are repeatedly noticed by the old writers. The last was destroyed in 1754, when it was seen by Gama, who highly commends the execution of it. Ibid.

21. This wantonness of destruction provokes the bitter animadversion of Martyr, whose en­lightened mind respected the vestiges of civilization wherever found. "The conquerors," he says, "seldom repaired the buildings that were defaced. They would rather sack twenty stately cities, than erect one good edifice." De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 10.

22. Gama, Descripcion, Parte 1, pp. 110-114.--Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 40.
      Ten thousand men were employed in the transportation of this enormous mass, ac­cording to Tezozomoc, whose narrative, with all the accompanying prodigies, is minutely transcribed by Bustamante. The Licentiate shows an appetite for the marvellous, which might excite the envy of a monk of the Middle Ages. (See Descripcion, nota, loc. cit.) The English traveller, Latrobe, accommodates the wonders of nature and art very well to each other, by suggesting that these great masses of stone were transported by means of the mastodon, whose remains are occasionally disinterred in the Mexican Valley. Rambler in Mexico, p. 145.

23. A great collection of ancient pottery, with various other specimens of Aztec art, the gift of Messrs. Poinsett and Keating, is deposited in the Cabinet of the American Philosophical So­ciety, at Philadelphia. See the Catalogue, ap. Transactions, vol. III, p. 510.

24. Hernandez, Hist. Plantarum, lib. 6, cap. 116.

­ 25. Carta del Lic. Zuazo, MS.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 15.--Boturini, Idea, p. 77.
      It is doubtful how far they were acquainted with the manufacture of silk. Carli supposes that what Cortés calls silk was only the fine texture of hair, or down, mentioned in the text. (Lettres Améric., tom. I. let. 21.) But it is certain they had a species of caterpillar, unlike our silkworm, indeed, which spun a thread that was sold in the markets of ancient Mexico. See the Essai Politique, (tom. III. pp. 66-69,) where M. de Humboldt has collected some inter­esting facts in regard to the culture of silk by the Aztecs. Still, that the fabric should be a matter of uncertainty at all shows that it could not have reached any great excellence or ex­tent.

26. Carta del Lic. Zuazo, MS.--Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 37.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 18-21.--Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 1, cap. 15.--Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramu­sio, tom. III. fol. 306.
      Count Carli is in raptures with a specimen of feather-painting which he saw in Stras­bourg. "Never did I behold any thing so exquisite," he says, "for brilliancy and nice gradation of color, and for beauty of design. No European artist could have made such a thing." (Let­tres Améric., let. 21, note.) There is still one place, Patzquaro, where, according to Busta­mante, they preserve some knowledge of this interesting art, though it is practised on a very limited scale, and at great cost. Sahagun, ubi supra, nota.

27. "O felicen monetam, quæ suavem utilemque præbet humano generi potum, et a tartareâ peste avaritiæ suos immunes servat possessores, quod suffodi aut diu servari nequeat!" De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 4.--(See, also, Carta de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 100 et seq.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 8, cap. 36.--Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 3, cap. 8.--­Carta del Lic. Zuazo, MS.) The substitute for money throughout the Chinese empire was equally simple in Marco Polo's time, consisting of bits of stamped paper, made from the inner bark of the mulberry-tree. See Viaggi di Messer Marco Polo, gentil' huomo Venetiano, lib. 2, cap. 18, ap. Ramusio, tom. II.

28. "Procurad de saber algun oficio honroso, como es el hacer obras de pluma y otros oficios mecánicos...... Mirad que tengais cuidado de lo tocante á la agricultura...... En ninguna parte he visto que alguno se mantenga por su nobleza." Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 6, cap. 17.

29. Col. de Mendoza, ap. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. I. Pl. 71; vol. VI. p. 86.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 41.

30. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 4, 10-14.

31. Ibid., lib. 9, cap. 2.

32. Ibid., lib. 9, cap. 2, 4.
      In the Mendoza Codex is a painting, representing the execution of a cacique and his fam­ily, with the destruction of his city, for maltreating the persons of some Aztec merchants. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. I. Pl. 67.

33. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 41.
      Ixtlilxochitl gives a curious story of one of the royal family of Tezcuco, who offered, with two other merchants, otros mercaderes, to visit the court of a hostile cacique, and bring him dead or alive to the capital. They availed themselves of a drunken revel, at which they were to have been sacrificed, to effect their object. Hist. Chich. MS., cap. 62.

34. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 2, 5.
      The ninth book is taken up with an account of the merchants, their pilgrimages, the re­ligious rites on their departure, and the sumptuous way of living on their return. The whole presents a very remarkable picture, showing they enjoyed a consideration, among the half-­civilized nations of Anahuac, to which there is no parallel, unless it be that possessed by the merchant-princes of an Italian republic, or the princely merchants of our own.

35. Sahagun, Hist de Nueva España, lib. 6, cap. 23-37.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
      These complimentary attentions were paid at stated seasons, even during pregnancy. The details are given with abundant gravity and minuteness by Sahagun, who descends to partic­ulars, which his Mexican editor, Bustamante, has excluded, as somewhat too unreserved for the public eye. If they were more so than some of the editor's own notes, they must have been very communicative indeed.

36. Zurita, Rapport, pp. 112-134.
      The Third Part of the Col. de Mendoza (Antiq. of Mexico, vol. I.) exhibits the various in­genious punishments devised for the refractory child. The flowery path of knowledge was well strewed with thorns for the Mexican tyro.

37. Zurita, Rapport, pp. 151-160.
      Sahagun has given us the admonitions of both father and mother to the Aztec maiden, on her coming to years of discretion. What can be more tender than the beginning of the mother's exhortation? "Hija mia muy amada, muy querida palomita: ya has oido y notado las palabras que tu señor padre te ha dicho; ellas son palabras preciosas, y que raramente se dicen ni se oyen, las quales han procedido de las entrañas y corazon en que estaban atesoradas; y to muy amado padre bien sabe que eres su hija, engendrada de él, eres su sangre y su carne, y sabe Dios nuestro señor que es así; aunque eres muger, é imágen de tu padre ¿ que mas te puedo decir, hija mia, de lo que ya esta dicho?" (Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 6, cap. 19.) The reader will find this interesting document, which enjoins so much of what is deemed most es­sential among civilized nations, translated entire in the Appendix, Part 2, No. 1.

38. Yet we find the remarkable declaration, in the counsels of a father to his son, that, for the mul­tiplication of the species, God ordained one man only for one woman "Nota, hijo mio, lo que te digo, mira que el mundo ya tiene este estilo de engendrar y multiplicar, y para esta ge­neracion y multiplicacion, ordenó Dios que una muger usase de un varon, y una varon de una muger." Ibid. lib. 6, cap. 21.

39. Ibid., lib. 6, cap. 21-23; lib. 8, cap. 23.--Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 305.--Carta del Lic. Zuazo, MS.

40. As old as the heroic age of Greece, at least. We may fancy ourselves at the table of Penelope, where water in golden ewers was poured into silver basins for the accommodation of her guests, before beginning the repast.
                  "Χερνιβα δ αμφιπολος προχοω επεχευε φερουσα
                  Καλη χρυσειη, υπερ αργυρεοιο λεβητος,
                  Νιψασθαι παρα δε ξεστην ετανυσσε τραπεζαν."
                              ΟΔΥΣΣ. Α.
The feast affords many other points of analogy to the Aztec, inferring a similar stage of civ­ilization in the two nations. One may be surprised, however, to find a greater profusion of the precious metals in the barren isle of Ithaca, than in Mexico. But the poet's fancy was a richer mine than either.

41. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 6, cap. 22.
      Amidst some excellent advice of a parent to his son, on his general deportment, we find the latter punctiliously enjoined not to take his seat at the board till he has washed his face and hands, and not to leave it till he has repeated the same thing, and cleansed his teeth. The di­rections are given with a precision worthy of an Asiatic. "Al principio de la comida labarte has las manos y la boca, y donde te juntares con otras á comer, no te sientes luego; mas antes tomarás el agua y la jícara para que se laben los otros, y echarles has agua á los manos, y des­pues de esto, cojerás lo que se ha caido por el suelo y barrerás el lugar de la comida, y tambien despues de comer lavarás te las manos y la boca, y limpiarás los dientes." Ibid., loc. cit.

42. Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 4, cap. 37.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II. p. 227.
      The Aztecs used to smoke after dinner, to prepare for the siesta, in which they indulged themselves as regularly as an old Castilian.--Tobacco, in Mexican yetl, is derived from a Haytian word, tobaco. The natives of Hispaniola, being the first with whom the Spaniards had much intercourse, have supplied Europe with the names of several important plants.--To­bacco, in some form or other, was used by almost all the tribes of the American continent, from the North-west Coast to Patagonia. (See McCulloh, Researches, pp. 91-94.) Its mani­fold virtues, both social and medicinal, are profusely panegyrized by Hernandez, in his Hist. Plantarum, lib. 2, cap. 109.

43. This noble bird was introduced into Europe from Mexico. The Spaniards called it gallopavo, from its resemblance to the peacock. See Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, (tom. III. fol. 306); also Oviedo, (Rel. Sumaria, cap. 38,) the earliest naturalist who gives an account of the bird, which he saw soon after the Conquest, in the West Indies, whither it had been brought, as he says, from New Spain. The Europeans, however, soon lost sight of its origin, and the name "turkey" intimated the popular belief of its Eastern origin. Several eminent writers have maintained its Asiatic or African descent; but they could not impose on the sagacious and better in­structed Buffon. (See Histoire Naturelle, Art. Dindon.) The Spaniards saw immense numbers of turkeys in the domesticated state, on their arrival in Mexico, where they were more com­mon than any other poultry. They were found wild, not only in New Spain, but all along the continent, in the less frequented places, from the North-western territory of the United States to Panama. The wild turkey is larger, more beautiful, and every way an incomparably finer bird, than the tame. Franklin, with some point, as well as pleasantry, insists on its pref­erence to the bald eagle, as the national anthem. (See his Works, vol. X. p. 63, in Sparks's ex­cellent edition.) Interesting notices of the history and habits of the wild turkey may be found in the Ornithology both of Buonaparte and of that enthusiastic lover of nature, Audubon, vox Meleagris, Gallopavo.

44. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 4, cap. 37; lib. 8, cap. 13; lib. 9, cap. 10-14.--Torque­mada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.--Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.
      Father Sahagun has gone into many particulars of the Aztec cuisine, and the mode of preparing sundry savory messes, making, all together, no despicable contribution, to the noble science of gastronomy.

45. The froth, delicately flavored with spices and some other ingredients, was taken cold by it­self. It had the consistency almost of a solid; and the "Anonymous Conqueror" is very care­ful to inculcate the importance of "opening the mouth wide, in order to facilitate deglutition, that the foam may dissolve gradually, and descend imperceptibly, as it were, into the stomach." It was so nutritious that a single cup of it was enough to sustain a man through the longest day's march. (Fol. 306.) The old soldier discusses the beverage con amore.

46. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 4, cap. 37; lib. 8, cap. 13.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.--Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.

47. Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 8.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 14, cap. II.
      The Mexican nobles entertained minstrels in their houses, who composed ballads suited to the times, or the achievements of their lord, which they chanted, to the accompaniment of instruments, at the festivals and dances. Indeed, there was more or less dancing at most of the festivals, and it was performed in the court-yards of the houses, or in the open squares of the city. (Ibid., ubi supra.). The principal men had, also, buffoons and jugglers in their service, who amused them, and astonished the Spaniards by their feats of dexterity and strength; (Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 28;) also Clavigero, (Stor. del Messico, tom. II, pp. 179-186,) who has designed several representations of their exploits, truly surprising. It is natural that a people of limited refinement should find their enjoyment in material, rather than intellectual pleasures, and, consequently, should excel in them. The Asiatic nations, as the Hindoos and Chinese, for example, surpass the more polished Europeans in displays of agility and legerdemain.

48. "Y de esta manera pasaban gran rato de la noche, y se despedian, é iban á sus casas, unos alabando la fiesta, y otros murmurando de las demasías, y excesos; cosa mui ordinaria en los que á semejantes actos se juntan." Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 9, cap. 10-14.