Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures


3. These 11,756 leagues constitute the most deserted region of an administrative unit that is very depopulated as it is. They have no more than at most 42,000 inhabitants, for the most part whites, descendants of European Spaniards who subsist on pastures and corn, which they cultivate in scattered tenant farms. The climate is hot; the earth is covered with secondary formations of limestone, very fertile however, especially in Nuevo Santander. The eastern part of the province of Texas through which the present day road from Potosi to Natchitotches passes is savanna. The coast is poor, without a known port, full of shallow spots, and lined with little islands inhabited by independent Indians. Mr. Diriaco Cevallos, officer of the Spanish navy, known in France for his impressive astronomical observations, was sent in 1803 to the Golf to draw a map of the coast from Huasacualcos to the mouth of the Colorado in Texas. He began his work in the south, but the alarm caused by the cession of Louisiana caused the viceroy to send him to the Mississippi to serve as a geographer of the Marquis of Casacolvo. He was assigned by the court to see if could discover a port in the area near the mouth of the Rio del Norte. The cities of Monterey, Linares, Monclova, Mier, and Gigedo remain all within the province of Potosi at the bank of the Rio del Norte. The part that Your Excellence is asking for has only the small miserable city of S. Antonio de Bejar. People know about vestiges of silvery Galena (lead sulphide), copper, and iron. But no mine has ever been exploited, as the immense riches of the Zacatecas, Catrce, and Charcas mountains have occupied the attention of the natives The proximity of the mines of Catorce, which were discovered in 1773 (mines that produce 3 to 4 million piasters in silver annually) might appear inauspicious. But one must not forget that Charcas and Catorce are located on the eastern branch of Sierra Madre, whose western branch extends into the Sonora. These rich mines of Catorce, the muriate of silver, are at least 1,000 toises above the sea, whereas the lands in question are near the sea level. The picture of the 11,756 leagues that I am tracing is not bright, but let’s take into account that this is a virgin and uninhabited land. The Spaniards of Mexico who have populated these northern lands since the ancient times of Tenochtitlan have had no reason to expand and abandon the immense areas more like the Climate of Europe and yielding metal resources. The Indians, in contrast, withdrew to the North where they live like Arab shepherds and everywhere where the European has presented them the hope of spoils, as Bedouin thieves.
(Moheit, pp.307-308, originally French). In the instances when texts are only available in French, the translations into English are by Frank Baron.

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