AZTEC AGRICULTURE-MECHANICAL ARTS
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. 11. 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.
" 12Ic&vi exeivw TO!'; & Aiyvnupvopots
4'UQLV icaTeixaa0eVTe Kai piou Tpoo6S. Eicei yap of pev apoevrsicara UTeyaq Oaicou`aty iaTOUPYOUVTES - ai 8t avvvopos Ta1;w piou TPOOEia rzosuvous'aei." SOPHOCL., (EDIP. COI.., v. 337-341.
4 Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 32.-Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. 11. pp. 153-155.
"Jamas padecieron hambre," says the former writer, "sino en pocas ocasiones." If these famines were rare, they were very distressing, however, and lasted very long. Comp. lxtlilxochitl, 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. 11. pp. 382-388.) If we may credit Clavigero, the banana was the forbidden fruit, that tempted our poor mother Eve! Stor. del Messico, tom. 1. p. 49, nota.
6 Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.-Hernandez, de Historic Plantarum Novx Hispanix, (Matriti, 1790,) lib. 6, cap. 87.
7 Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva Espana, 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 Indios, 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 pulgueformed so important a branch of revenue, that the cities of Mexico, Puebla, and Toluca alone, paid $817,739 to government. (Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. 11. 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. 11. 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 agaveAmericana, familiar in the southern parts, both of the United States and Europe. (Essai Politique, tom. 11. 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 Espafia, lib. 9, cap. 2; lib. 11, cap. 7.-Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 3, cap. 19.-Carts del Lic. Zuazo, MS. The last, speaking of the maguey, which produces the fermented drink, says expressly, "De to que queda de las dichas hojas se aprovechan, como de lino mui delgado, o de Olanda, de que hacen lienzos mui primos para vestir, e 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 Americ., 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."
XaXiciu S' tp'ya~0VTO - peXa; 6' ovx iUKE ai6TIpos. HESioo, "Epya Kai "Hpepai.
The Abbe 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 Espafia, 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 a la que tenian sus almas, por el pecado, en que siempre permanecian." Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 34.
18 Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. 11. 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 Cortes calls silk was only the fine texture of hair, or down, mentioned in the text. (Lettres Am6ric., 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 Espafia, lib. 9, cap. 18-21.-Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 1, cap. 15.-Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. 111. 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 Americ., 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, qux suavem utilemque prxbet humano generi potum, et a tartare3 peste avaritix suos immunes servat possessores, quod suffodi aut diu servari nequeat!" De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 4.-(See, also, Carta de Cortes, ap. Lorenzana, p. 100 et seq.-Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva Espafia, lib. 8, cap. 36.-Toribio, Hist. de Ins 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 "Procured de saber algun officio bonroso, como es el hater obras de pluma y otros oficios mecanicos...... Mirad que tengais cuidado de to tocante a la agriculture...... En ninguna parte he visto que alguno se mantenga per su nobleza." Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva Espafia, 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 Espana, 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.
View of theAztec Civilization - 113
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 othermerchants, 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 Espana, 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 halfcivilized 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 Espana, 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.
Sahagon 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 to senor padre to ha dicho; ellas son palabras preciosas, y que raramente se dicen ni se oyen, las quales ban procedido de las entranas y corazon en que estaban atesoradas; y to muy amado padre bien sabe que eres so hija, engendrada de 61, eres so sangre y so carne, y Babe Dios nuestro senor que es asi; aunque eres muger, e imagen de to padre t que mas to puedo decir, hija mia, de to que ya esta dicho?" (Hist. de Nueva Espana, 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 multiplication, ordeno. Dios que una muger usase de un varon, y on 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.
"Xepvtpa 6' dppinoXoq npoXoqu eneXaue 0epouaa Kaki, XpuaEiT,1, beep apyupaoio kepTYco;, NiyaaBat" nap& 8e 4sa-ciw eTf&vuaae zp&rzECav." OAT££. A.
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 Espafia, 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 to juntares con otras a comer, no to sientes luego; mas antes tomaras el agua y la jicara para que se laben los otras, y echarles has agua a los manos, y despues de esto, cojeras to que se ha caido par el suelo y barreras el lugar de la comida, y tambien despues de comer lavaras to las manos y la boca, y limpiaras los dientes." Ibid., loc. cit.
42 Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. fol. 306.-Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva Espaiia, 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 yeti, 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 Meleagns, Gallopavo.
44 Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva Espafia, 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. 111. 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 Espafia, lib. 4, cap. 37; lib. 8, cap. 13.-Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.-Rel. d' un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. 111. fol. 306.
47 Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 8.-Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 14, cap. 11. 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, 6 iban 5 sus casas, unos al-abando la fiesta, y otros murmurando de ]as demasias, y excesos; coca mui ordinaria en los que a semejantes actos se juntan." Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 13, cap. 23.-Sahagun, pursuit de Nueva Espafia, lib. 9, cap. 10-14. o