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sults from the observations and experiments of our Author, is, that the water of the river, at a distance of three leagues from the mountain, is not so impregnated with salt as at the place where it receives the saline particles: no more--and until Mr. Bowles has proved, that during the course of these three leagues, the falts, which have disappeared, have not been deposed, nor formed into new combinations, nor affected by quantities of fresh water running into the river by streams, rivulets, canals or torrents, his conclusion with respect to their decomposition cannot be admitted. Had he mixed with these waters, at the distance abovementioned, a solution of silver, this would have been the furest method of deciding the question. If he made, in effect, this experiment, he has not thought proper to mention it. The other reasons alleged by our Author in favour of the decomposition in question, are so weak and inconclufive, that we lhall pass them over in silence.
There is also perhaps too much precipitation in the conclufion our Author deduces from ansther fact, which cannot be denied, because he was an ocular witness of it, and because it is publicly known in Spain : The fact is, the decomposition of saltpetre by the means of the fal gemmæ of Cordova alone. This decomposition is so ascertained, that, according to MR. BOWLES, the Goldsmiths of Madrid employ no other aqua fortis than that which is drawn from saltpetre by this process. From this our Author concludes, that if, after a proper chymical inquiry, no vitriolic acid is found in the gem-salt of Cordova, the separation or disengagement of the nitrous acid of saltpetre by the intervention of this falt, would overturn all that famous theory concerning the nature of the three acids, which is the great master-key of chymistry. We shall not, at present, enter into a refutation of this conclusion: this is not our business, though we, by no means, think the observation of Mr. Bowles either just or unanswerable. The theory of the three acids is nothing more than a series of facts, well ascertained, not relative to the nature but to the combinatory action of acids; and these facts, in similar cafes, can never be destroyed by other facts, because nature never varies, but always produces the same effects in the same circumstances. New experiments may discover unknown circumstances, which shew, that cases and facts, which we considered as similar, are not really so. But we have no occasion even for this reasoning in the present case. It is sufficient to observe, that nitre wants no more than a certain degree of heat and division in order to its decomposition, and the separation or disengagement of its acid in closed vessels; and that by mixing with this falt any kind of earth, even an earth absolutely destitute of the vitriolic acid, the nitrous acid may be extracted from it. The decompofition, therefore, of which MR. Bowles speaks, OO 2
may be effected by the fal gemma of Cordova when mingled with a certain portion of earth; and it is highly probable that this fosile salt, like many others, contains earthy parts in no small quantity. Nay, supposing it exempt from earthy parts, it rnight, perhaps, produce the decomposition in question by the mere intermixture of its parts with those of the falıpetre, without any action of the marine acid in this operation. Mr. B. oucht to have considered, that the marine acid of the fal gemme cannot unite itself with the fixed alkali of nitre, because it is it. self united with a fixed alkali, which is its natural basis.
These flight inadvertencies are not pointed out to diminish the esteem that is due to the work of Mr. Bowles, which is highly recommendable on account of the curious materials, and the great number of interesting observations, with which it abounds. Among others, the Naturalists will read, certainly, with great pleasure, our Author's ample and curious account of the cinnabar mine of Almaden- the mine of Guadalcanal, and many of the other articles, of which we gave an enumeration in our last Appendix. This work in reality is the first general and accurate inventory, hitherto published of the natural productions of Spain; and, indeed, works of this kind are real treasures for Princes and Ministers, who have sense and virtue enough to make use of them. If instead of blundering oue stupid manifestoes, and involving his subjects in an unprovoked war, without any visible motive but the iniquitous desire of rapine, or a Glly complaisance for the perfidious Gaul, of whom he has so often been the dupe, the Spanish monarch would work his mines, cultivate his country, render his people industrious, and consequently happy, he would then shew the man and the patriot in the king : characters so rarely united in our days!
AR T. XIII. Correspondance de Fernand Cortes avec l'Empereur Charles-Quint sur la
Conquéte de Mexique, &c.--Letters of Fernando Cortes to the Emperoi Charles V. concerning the Conquest of Mexico, translated from the original Spanish by the Viscount de FLAVIGNY, Knight of the Royal and Military Order of St. Lewis. 'izmo. Paris. 1778. Price ? Livres. HE character and conduct of Cortes form one of those
contradictions, that give pain, and a kind of vexation, to a generous mind. The man was rather mild and humane, than fanguinary and cruel; and yet the prejudices of his time, and the barbarous dictates of a superstitious priesthood, to which he submitted with all the tranquillity of a deluded conscience and all the reluctance of a good beart, led him to actions that make humanity shudder. These horrid deeds of Spanish perfidy and
cruelty are well known; they have long excited the indignation of all candid and generous minds; but if we dare cast an eye of conjecture into the dark receffes of futurity, the time, we fear, is coming, when every violation, even the most unprovoked, of honour, justice, equity and good faith, will be contemplated without horror, as ordinary things. We have only to open our eyes on the shameless perfidy of the same court that murdered the Mexicans, and the frontless iniquity of the Gallic Carthaginian, of whom that court has been so often the dupe, and we Thall then see that this conjecture is not entirely groundless.
However that may be, the relation of Cortes, notwithstanding the infamous celebrity of the facts which it contains, is truly interesting. It is comprehended in three letters, written to Charles V: without any answer from that Prince ; so that M. de Flavigny, to whom the Public is much indebted for their publication, has rather improperly called them a Correspondence. Nothing, indeed, can surpass the modesty and simplicity with which these letters are composed. Their manner is a sentimental proof of the veracity of their Author. It does not appear that he had the smallest reflex view turned towards himself in the course of his relation; it does not even appear that he either altered facts, or modified circumstances, to redeem his name from the execration of succeeding ages. His accounts of murders, assassinations, and perfidious stratagems, bis enumeration of the victims that fell in Mexico, to the thirst of gold, covered with a bloody veil of religion, are minute, accurate, infernal. In a word, ihese letters are intitled to a place anjong the valuable records of history and literature. They were four in number, but the first has been millaid; fo that M. de Flavigny could only translate the three last, which, alone, have been published in Spain, by the Archbishop of Toledo, who was formerly Archbishop of Mexico.- A few extracts will give our Readers some idea of the contents and manner of these letters.
It is well known, that, without the affistance of the vile Indians of Ttlascala (which our Author calls Tascalteta), who persevered in their fidelity and attachment to Cortes, the Spaniards would never have finished the conquest of Mexico. The noble resolution of that unfortunate people' (the Mexicans) to perish, rather than survive their defeat and outlive their independence, appears from the following paffage in one of these
letters: I represented to them, says Cories, that every day my troops killed many of them, and destroyed a part of their city, -that in case they persevered in their obstinacy, I would not order hoftilities to cease, until their city and its inhabitants were totally destroyed. - They acknowledged the truth of what I faid, but at the same time declared, that they were all determined to die, in order to put an end to us; they told me that I might
see, how their terrasses, their streets, and their public places fwarmed with people, and that they had reckoned, that by facrificing frove and-twenty thousand Mexicans to procure the death of one Spaniard, we should be the first destroyed. They observed farther, that, all the roads that led to Mexico being ruined, and rendered impassable, we should be obliged to retreat by water--that we Should soon want provisions, and fresh water, and thus, if we escaped from the dangers of war, would perish by hunger and thirst.'
Their notion was not groundless: in a little time famine destroyed a considerable number of Spaniards whom the sword had spared. But Cortes persevered, and no obstacle or discouraging circumstance, not even objects the most naturally adapted to inspire terror and dismay, could vanquish his conftancy of mind, or turn him from the execution of his purpose. Mexico had charms every way proper to inflame the lust of avarice, rapine and conquest. These letters of Cortes give us still a more pompous idea of the opulence and luxury of Mexico and its Emperor, than we receive from the descriptions of the late eminent historian of America and his predecessors. We may judge of this by the following description of the court of Montezuma.
« Montezuma's court was every morning frequented by fix hundred Caciques or Lords, whose attendants filled several of the inner courts, and even the great street which was terminated by the palace. When the Emperor dined, the whole court was entertained at the fame time, and every attendant or servant received his portion: there were lodges open for all who were inclined to eat or drink. Four hundred different dishes were served up at the Emperor's table every day; all the productions of land and water were sought after with ardour, that his Majefty might be regaled with unexampled profufion. As the country is cold, each dish ħad its particular chafing dish, and they were all served up at once in a spacious room magnificently bung and furnished, Montezuma placed himself at one end of the room in a small arm-chair of leather, of exquisite workmanthips-he sent a portion of every dish, of which he ate him
enable was served in another apartment;-the dishes, pans, and chafing-dishes, which had. been once used, never made their appeahance a second time. The Emperor changed his clothes four times a day, and never put on the same twice.'
We have no circumstantial account, in these letters, of the death of Montezuma. Cortes only tells us, that this unfortunate Prince, when he became his prisoner, and his friend too, at least in appearance, went out by his order to suppress the mutiny of the revolted Indians, and the very moment he had
addressed himself to them from the battlements of his palace, he received a blow of a stone, which was so violent, that in three days it put an end to his life. The scenes of carnage that followed upon this were terrible. Despair seized upon the Mexicans, and the Spanish tygers redoubled their barbarous efforts to subdue them. It appears that Cortes suffered deeply during this odious scene; and if any thing can hinder us from detefting a man that led on these tygers to fuch abominable exploits, it must be the sentiments he discovers, in the passage of these letters that follows:
• We reduced them (the Mexicans) to such an extremity, that they had no sculking place or retreat but behind the dead bodies of their fellow-citizens. -The Indians who were our friends, made such a dreadful flaughter among them, both by land and water, that there were above forty thousand Mexicans killed, or taken prisoners. On that day the piercing cries of the women and children were heard at a distance, and were sufficient to melt the hardest heart: wę were more intent on restraining the barbarity of the Indians our auxiliaries, than in combating the enemy. After presenting to your fancy all the cruel abominations of which a depraved nature is capable, your Imperial Majesty would Aill be as unable to comprehend, as I am to describe, the effects of the barbarity of those American nations. Our allies made, that day, a horrible carnage and a considerable booty: we could neither prevent the massacre nor the plunder ; for we were scarcely nine hundred Spaniards against an hundred and fifty thousand Indians. I foresaw what actually happened, and our inability to prevent it. I had retarded the execution of our design to proceed by storm, as I apprehended nothing so much as the consequences of taking the place by force.'
If the Reader is desirous to know, what opinion Cortes (who with all his faults was a man of veracity and honour) had of the Spanish Bishops of his times, who differed little, if at all, from those of the present age, he will find it given with frankness to the Spanish Monarch in the following terms: - If your Majesty (fays Cortes to Charles V.) sends us Bithops, they will employ themselves intirely in heaping donations on their creatures : they will grasp at employments for their children (natural we suppose from what follows, rather than spiritual); they will squander away their riches in vain pomp, and in the irregularities of a scandalous and licentious life; their manners will disqualify them from converting to the faith those Mexicans who reflect, and compare the conduct of our Priests and Ecclefiaftics, with the austerity, the self-denial, and regular lives of the Ministers of the American idols, who punish with death the members of their fraternity for the smallest faults. If the Mexicans knew, that they, whom we call Ministers of the living God,