The latter possess one hundred and fifty Conventual establishments, divided as follows:
A number certainly inadequate to the spiritual wants of a population of seven millions, and yet too small to be proprietors of estates worth at least ninety millions of dollars, according to the annexed valuation:
|Real property in town and country,||$18,000,000|
|Churches, houses, convents, curates, dwellings, furniture, jewels, precious vessels, &c.||52,000,000|
|Floating capital—together with other funds—and the capital required to produce the sum received by them annually in alms,||20,000,000|
The real property is estimated to have been worth at least 25 per cent, more, previous to the Revolution, and, to this enhanced value must be added about $115,000,000 of capital, founded on contribuciones and "derechos reales," or imposts to which they were entitled, on the property of the country.
The value of their churches, the extent of their city property, the power they possess as lenders, and the quantity of jewels, precious vessels, and golden ornaments, will raise the above statement, I am confident, to nearer $100,000,000 than ninety, or to a sum about eighty-eight millions less than it was before the outbreak of the war of Independence; at which period, the number of ecclesiastics is estimated to have been 10,000 or 13,000, including the lay-brotherhood and the subordinates of the church.
During the royal Government, the influence of these rich proprietors must necessarily have been exceedingly great. It was the policy of the Spanish cabinet to cherish the temporalities of the Mexican Church. The mayorazgos or rights of primogeniture, forced the younger sons either into the profession of arms or of religion; and it was requisite that ample provision should be made for them in secure and splendid establishments. Thus, all the lucrative and easy benefices came into the hands of Span--
- Vide Otero, p. 38,39, 42