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- Equinoctial Regions of America - 4/104 -


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1.I.2. EQUINOCTIAL PLANTS COLLECTED IN MEXICO, IN THE ISLAND OF CUBA, IN THE PROVINCES OF CARACAS, CUMANA, AND BARCELONA, ON THE ANDES OF NEW GRENADA, QUITO, AND PERU, AND ON THE BANKS OF THE RIO NEGRO, THE ORINOCO, AND THE RIVER AMAZON.

M. Bonpland has in this work given figures of more than forty new genera of plants of the torrid zone, classed according to their natural families. The methodical descriptions of the species are both in French and Latin, and are accompanied by observations on the medicinal properties of the plants, their use in the arts, and the climate of the countries in which they are found.

1.I.3. MONOGRAPHY OF THE MELASTOMA, RHEXIA, AND OTHER GENERA OF THIS ORDER OF PLANTS.

Comprising upwards of a hundred and fifty species of melastomaceae, which we collected during the course of our expeditions, and which form one of the most beautiful ornaments of tropical vegetation. M. Bonpland has added the plants of the same family, which, among many other rich stores of natural history, M. Richard collected in his interesting expedition to the Antilles and French Guiana, and the descriptions of which he has communicated to us.

1.I.4. ESSAY ON THE GEOGRAPHY OF PLANTS, ACCOMPANIED BY A PHYSICAL TABLE OF THE EQUINOCTIAL REGIONS, FOUNDED ON MEASURES TAKEN FROM THE TENTH DEGREE OF NORTHERN TO THE TENTH DEGREE OF SOUTHERN LATITUDE.

I have endeavoured to collect in one point of view the whole of the physical phenomena of that part of the New Continent comprised within the limits of the torrid zone from the level of the Pacific to the highest summit of the Andes; namely, the vegetation, the animals, the geological relations, the cultivation of the soil, the temperature of the air, the limit of perpetual snow, the chemical constitution of the atmosphere, its electrical intensity, its barometrical pressure, the decrement of gravitation, the intensity of the azure colour of the sky, the diminution of light during its passage through the successive strata of the air, the horizontal refractions, and the heat of boiling water at different heights. Fourteen scales, disposed side by side with a profile of the Andes, indicate the modifications to which these phenomena are subject from the influence of the elevation of the soil above the level of the sea. Each group of plants is placed at the height which nature has assigned to it, and we may follow the prodigious variety of their forms from the region of the palms and arborescent ferns to those of the johannesia (chuquiraga, Juss.), the gramineous plants, and lichens. These regions form the natural divisions of the vegetable empire; and as perpetual snow is found in each climate at a determinate height, so, in like manner, the febrifuge species of the quinquina (cinchona) have their fixed limits, which I have marked in the botanical chart belonging to this essay.

1.I.5. OBSERVATIONS ON ZOOLOGY AND COMPARATIVE ANATOMY.

I have comprised in this work the history of the condor; experiments on the electrical action of the gymnotus; a treatise on the larynx of the crocodiles, the quadrumani, and birds of the tropics; the description of several new species of reptiles, fishes, birds, monkeys, and other mammalia but little known. M. Cuvier has enriched this work with a very comprehensive treatise on the axolotl of the lake of Mexico, and on the genera of the Protei. That naturalist has also recognized two new species of mastodons and an elephant among the fossil bones of quadrupeds which we brought from North and South America. For the description of the insects collected by M. Bonpland we are indebted to M. Latreille, whose labours have so much contributed to the progress of entomology in our times. The second volume of this work contains figures of the Mexican, Peruvian, and Aturian skulls, which we have deposited in the Museum of Natural History at Paris, and respecting which Blumenbach has published observations in the 'Decas quinta Craniorum diversarum gentium.'

1.I.6. POLITICAL ESSAY ON THE KINGDOM OF NEW SPAIN, WITH A PHYSICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL ATLAS, FOUNDED ON ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS AND TRIGONOMETRICAL AND BAROMETRICAL MEASUREMENTS.

This work, based on numerous official memoirs, presents, in six divisions, considerations on the extent and natural appearance of Mexico, on the population, on the manners of the inhabitants, their ancient civilization, and the political division of their territory. It embraces also the agriculture, the mineral riches, the manufactures, the commerce, the finances, and the military defence of that vast country. In treating these different subjects I have endeavoured to consider them under a general point of view; I have drawn a parallel not only between New Spain, the other Spanish colonies, and the United States of North America, but also between New Spain and the possessions of the English in Asia; I have compared the agriculture of the countries situated in the torrid zone with that of the temperate climates; and I have examined the quantity of colonial produce necessary to Europe in the present state of civilization. In tracing the geological description of the richest mining districts in Mexico, I have, in short, given a statement of the mineral produce, the population, the imports and exports of the whole of Spanish America. I have examined several questions which, for want of precise data, had not hitherto been treated with the attention they demand, such as the influx and reflux of metals, their progressive accumulation in Europe and Asia, and the quantity of gold and silver which, since the discovery of America down to our own times, the Old World has received from the New. The geographical introduction at the beginning of this work contains the analysis of the materials which have been employed in the construction of the Mexican Atlas.

1.I.7. VIEWS OF THE CORDILLERAS, AND MONUMENTS OF THE INDIGENOUS NATIONS OF THE NEW CONTINENT.* (*Atlas Pittoresque, ou Vues des Cordilleres, 1 volume folio, with 69 plates, part of which are coloured, accompanied by explanatory treatises. This work may be considered as the Atlas to the historical narrative of the travels.)

This work is intended to represent a few of the grand scenes which nature presents in the lofty chain of the Andes, and at the same time to throw some light on the ancient civilization of the Americans, through the study of their monuments of architecture, their hieroglyphics, their religious rites, and their astrological reveries. I have given in this work a description of the teocalli, or Mexican pyramids, and have compared their structure with that of the temple of Belus. I have described the arabesques which cover the ruins of Mitla, the idols in basalt ornamented with the calantica of the heads of Isis; and also a considerable number of symbolical paintings, representing the serpent-woman (the Mexican Eve), the deluge of Coxcox, and the first migrations of the natives of the Aztec race. I have endeavoured to prove the striking analogies existing between the calendar of the Toltecs and the catasterisms of their zodiac, and the division of time of the people of Tartary and Thibet, as well as the Mexican traditions on the four regenerations of the globe, the pralayas of the Hindoos, and the four ages of Hesiod. In this work I have also included (in addition to the hieroglyphical paintings I brought to Europe), fragments of all the Aztec manuscripts, collected in Rome, Veletri, Vienna, and Dresden, and one of which reminds us, by its lineary symbols, of the kouas of the Chinese. Together with the rude monuments of the aborigines of America, this volume contains picturesque views of the mountainous countries which those people inhabited; for example, the cataract of Tequendama, Chimborazo, the volcano of Jorullo and Cayambe, the pyramidal summit of which, covered with eternal ice, is situated directly under the equinoctial line. In every zone the configuration of the ground, the physiognomy of the plants, and the aspect of lovely or wild scenery, have great influence on the progress of the arts, and on the style which distinguishes their productions. This influence is so much the more perceptible in proportion as man is farther removed from civilization.

I could have added to this work researches on the character of languages, which are the most durable monuments of nations. I have collected a number of materials on the languages of America, of which MM. Frederic Schlegel and Vater have made use; the former in his Considerations on the Hindoos, the latter in his Continuation of the Mithridates of Adelung, in the Ethnographical Magazine, and in his Inquiries into the Population of the New Continent. These materials are now in the hands of my brother, William von Humboldt, who, during his travels in Spain, and a long abode at Rome, formed the richest collection of American vocabularies in existence. His extensive knowledge of the ancient and modern languages has enabled him to trace some curious analogies in relation to this subject, so important to the philosophical study of the history of man. A part of his labours will find a place in this narrative.

Of the different works which I have here enumerated, the second and third were composed by M. Bonpland, from the observations which he made in a botanical journal. This journal contains more than four thousand methodical descriptions of equinoctial plants, a ninth part only of which have been made by me. They appear in a separate publication, under the title of Nova Genera et Species Plantariem. In this work will be found, not only the new species we collected, which, after a careful examination by one of the first botanists of the age, Professor Willdenouw, are computed to amount to fourteen or fifteen hundred, but also the interesting observations made by M. Bonpland on plants hitherto imperfectly described. The plates of this work are all engraved according to the method followed by M. Labillardiere, in the Specimen Planterum Novae Hollandiae, a work remarkable for profound research and clearness of arrangement.

After having distributed into separate works all that belongs to astronomy, botany, zoology, the political description of New Spain, and the history of the ancient civilization of certain nations of the New Continent, there still remained many general results and local descriptions, which I might have collected into separate treatises. I had, during my journey, prepared papers on the races of men in South America; on the Missions of the Orinoco; on the obstacles to the progress of society in the torrid zone arising from the climate and the strength of vegetation; on the character of the landscape in the Cordilleras of the Andes compared with that of the Alps in Switzerland; on the analogies between the rocks of the two hemispheres; on the physical constitution of the air in the equinoctial regions, etc. I had left Europe with the firm intention of not writing what is usually called the historical narrative of a journey, but to publish the fruit of my inquiries in works merely descriptive; and I had arranged the facts, not in the order in which they successively presented themselves, but according to the relation they bore to each other. Amidst the overwhelming majesty of Nature, and the stupendous objects she presents at every step, the traveller is little disposed to record in his journal matters which relate only to himself, and the ordinary details of life.

I composed a very brief itinerary during the course of my excursions on the rivers of South America, and in my long journeys by land. I regularly described (and almost always on the spot) the


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