Brookes’ Universal Gazetteer, page 496
Click on the image to view a larger, bitmap (.bmp) image suitable for printing.

HOME PAGE ... REFERENCE PAGE ... THIS GAZETTEER’S PAGE



Click on the image above for a larger, bitmap image suitable for printing.


MEX    496    MEX

ambitious to throw additional lustre on their own
exploits; on the other, religious and sensible men
directing with noble ardour the arms of eloquence
against the cruelty of the first colonists. Both
parties were equally interested in exaggerating
the flourishing condition of the newly discovered
countries. At all events, the extensive ruins of
towns and villages that are met with in the 18.
and 20. of latitude in the interior of Mexico, seem
to prove that the population of this single part of
the kingdom was once far superior to what it is
now. Yet it must be remarked that these ruins are
dispersed over a space that, relatively speaking, is
but very limited.

To a great degree of muscular strength, the
copper-coloured natives add the advantage of be-
ing seldom or never subject to any deformity.
M. Humboldt assures us that he never saw
7 a
' â– inch-back Indian, and that they very seldom
squint, or are met with either lame or wanting
the use of their arms. In those countries where
the inhabitants suffer from the goitre, this affec-
tion of the thyroid gland is never observed among
he Indians,and rarely among the Mestizoes. The
Indians of New Spain, and especially the won;en,
generally live to an advanced age. Their hair,
it is said, never turns grey, and they preserve all
their strength till the period of their death. In
respect of the moral faculties of the indigenous
Mexicans, it is difficult to form a just estimate of
them, if we consider this unhappy nation almost
in the only light in which there has been an op-
portunity of viewing it by intelligent travellers,
as sinking under long oppression, and depressed
almost to the lowest pitch of degradation.

In his present condition, the Mexican Indian
is grave, melancholy, and taciturn, as long as he
is not under the influence of intoxicating liquors.
This gravity is particularly remarkable in the
children of Indians, who at the early age of four
or five years display infinitely greater intelligence
and developement of mind than the children of
whites. They delight in throwing an air of mys-
tery over their most trifling remarks. Not a pas-
sion manifests itself in their features. At all
times sombre, there is something terrific in the
change, when he passes all at once from a state
of absolute repose to violent and ungovernable
agitation. The energy ofhis character, to which
every shade of softness is unknown, habitually
degenerates into ferocity. This is especially the
case with the inhabitants of Tlascala. In the
midst of t.heir degradation, the descendants of
these republicans are still distinguished by a cer-
tain haughtiness with which they are inspired by
the remembrance of their former greatness.

The Mexicans have preserved a particular
taste for nainting and for the art of carving. on
stone and wood. It is truly astonishing to see
what they are capable of executing with a bad
knife upon the hardest wood and stone. They
exercise themselves in painting the images, and
carving the statues of saints; but from a religious
principle, they have continued to servilely infl-
ate for 310 years, the models which the Europe-
ans brought with them at the period of the origi-
nal conquest. In Mexico as well as Hindoostan,
the faithful are not allowed to make the smallest
Change in their idols ; every thing connected with
iiie rites of the Aztecs was subjected to immuta-
ble laws:    It is on this very account that the

Christian images have preserved in some degree,
that stiffness and hardness of feature which char-
scterised the hieroglyphical pictures of the age of

Montezuma. They dispiay a great deal of apti
tude for the exercise of the arts of imitation, and
still greater for those of a purely mechanical na
ture.

When an Indian has attained a certain de^ee
of cultivation, he shows great facility in acquiring
information, a spirit of accuracy and precision,
and a particular tendency to subtilize, or to seize
on the minutest differences in objects that are
to be compared with each other. He reasons
coldly and with method ; but he does not evince
that activity of imagination, that lively freshness
of sentiment, that art of producing, which charac-
terises the people of Europe and many tribes of
African negroes. The music and dancing of the
indigenous natives partake of that want of cheer-
fulness which is so peculiar to them. Their
singing is of a melancholy description. More vi-
vacity, how
7ever, is observed in their women than
in their men ; but they share the evils of that
state of subjection to which the sex is condemned
among most of those nations where civilization is
still imperfect In the dance women take no part;
they are merely present for the sake of offering
to the dancers the fermented drinks which they
themselves had prepared.

The Mexican Indians have likewise peserved
the same taste for flowers that Cortez noticed in
his time. We are astonished to discover this
taste, which doubtless indicates a taste for the
beautiful, among the people in whom a sanguina-
ry worship, and the frequency of human sacrifices
appears to have extinguished every feeling con-
nected with sensibility of mind and the softer af-
fections. In the great market of Mexico, the na-
tive does not even sell fish, or ananas, or vegeta-
bles, or fermented liquor, without his shop being
decked out with flowers, which are renewed every
succeeding day. The Indian shop-keeper appears
seated behind a perfect entrenchment of verdure
and every thing around him wears an air of the
most refined elegance.

The Indian hunters, such as the Meeos, the
Apaches, and the Lipans, whom the Spaniards
comprehend under the denomination of
Indios
bravos,
and whose hordes in their incursions which
are often made during night, infest the frontiers
of New Biscay, Sonora, and New Mexico, evince
more activity of mind, and more strength of
character, than the agricultural Indians. Some
tribes have even languages, the mechanism oi
which appears to prove the existence of ancient
civilization. They have great difficulty in learn-
ing the European idioms, w
7hile, at the same time
they express themselves in their own with an ex-
treme degree of facility. These same Indian
chiefs, whose gloomy taciturnity astonishes the
observer, will hold a discourse of several hours,
whenever any strong interest rouses them ta



lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

lllllllll

llll|llll|l

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

1

0 1

1 1

2 1

3 1

4

iA ifamii    itjc


PREVIOUS PAGE ... NEXT PAGE

This page was written in HTML using a program
written in Python 3.2