Page:Mexico as it was and as it is.djvu/445

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measure. The wheat, it will be perceived, is greater than any of the other grains; and this is the reverse of what usually occurs throughout the rest of Mexico.[1]

The mills for grinding flour are few and primitive; and although, as we have seen, all sorts of vegetables and fruits, from the potatoe to the vine, fig and pines, may be readily cultivated; and although the same extent of ground will produce about three times as much wheat as England, and returns maize one hundred and fifty fold; yet every species of agriculture seems to be abandoned that is not merely and absolutely necessary to support existence. Pasturage here, as well as throughout most of the Spanish settlements, appears to be the great object of the farmer; and he derives his profits from it in the easiest manner, by the sale either of his beeves and horses, or of their fat and hides.

The following table will give you the total number of cattle, of all descriptions, for the year 1831:[2]

Black cattle, 216,727
Horses, 32,201
Mules, 2,844
Asses, 177
Sheep, 153,455
Goats, 1,873
Swine, 839

In addition to these, there are numbers at large which are not marked as belonging to any of the jurisdictions, missions, haciendas or towns; and are hunted, lassoed and slain, to prevent their interference with the pasturage of the more useful cattle. But from all this vast multitude but little advantage is gained, except in the hides and tallow. Butter and cheese are almost unknown, and the dairy consequently altogether neglected. A fat ox is worth $5; a cow $5; a horse, for the saddle, $10; a mare $5; a sheep $2 and a mule is worth $10.

In former times, it was not unusual to find a thousand head of cattle driven to the city of Mexico from the large estates on the Pacific; and although the practice is still continued, yet it is not to the extent as formerly. During the first few years after the opening of the ports, the trade with California was but trifling. The amount of exports was then estimated, at about thirty thousand hides and seven thousand quintals of tallow, with some trifling cargoes to San Blas, being not more than $130,000 in total value; but within a few years past the trade has considerably increased, and a brisk intercourse has been conducted, almost entirely by Americans, with the Sandwich Islands. There is but small internal commerce, and although it forms part of the Mexican Republic, it is almost entirely cut off and isolated from the great mass of the nation.

Besides a genial climate, and an exceedingly prolific soil. Upper California has several of the best harbors on the Western Coast of America.

Monterey, which was recently taken possession of by Commodore Jones, in the most impromptu manner, is tolerably safe, though but an open roadstead. San Diego has a good and secure anchorage. San Pedro is an extensive bay, with good holding ground, but almost totally unknown. San Juan has an anchorage of five fathoms throughout the bay, and San Francisco, (a narrow arm of the sea, penetrating far inland, by a safe and deep channel,) forms one of the most capacious and secure harbors in the world. It is perfectly shielded from every wind, and the largest frigates may ride in safety on its bosom.

  1. Forbes, 268
  2. Forbes, 285