The New atlas
Travels and Voyages
Europe, Asia, Africa and America,
Thro' the most Renowned Parts of the
From England to the Dardanelles, thence to Constantinople, Aegypt, Palestine, or the Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Persia, East-India, China, Tartary, Muscovy, and by Poland; the German Empire, Flanders and Holland, to Spain and the West-Indies; with a brief Account of Aethiopia, and the Pilgrimages to Mecha and Medina in Arabia, containing what is Rare and Worthy of Remarks in those vast Countries; relating to Building, Antiquities, Religion, Manners, Customs, Princes, Courts, or Affairs Military and Civil, or whatever else of any kind is worthy of Note.
Performed by an English Gentleman, in Nine Years Travel and Voyages, more exact than Ever.
LONDON, Printed for J. Cleave in Chanchery-Lane near Serjeant's Inn, and A. Roper at the Black Boy in Fleet-street, 1698.
PUBLISHED FOR J. Cleave
PUBLISHED FOR A. Roper
1.1. CHAP. IX.
Of the Piramids of Aegypt, and other Buildings and memorable Antiquities; of the Catacombs, where the Municesare. The River Nile, and the Creatures found therein, &c,
HAving taken a view of Caire, I was desirous to see those Wonders of the World so much every where discoursed of, viz. The Piramids of Aegppt. These are seated on a Sandy Plain; two of them are shut, but the third, which is biggest is open, and seated very near the other, two or three Leagues from New Caire. This is a vast Artificial Monument, built mostly of Stones of a Prodigious bigness, though they differ in that, for in Reason, we cannot suppose, that so many Stones of an equal bigness should be found for the supplying so stupendious a Work; yet the smallest are a Foot thick, and 2 Foot in length; some 3 Foot thick, 6 long, and 4 broad: The highth of the greatest of these is 520 Foot, and each Face in breadth 682 Foot.
The Ascent consists of between 200 and 210 Steps; the Top, to those that are below, appears like the point of a Spire, though on the top there is a Platform of 24 Foot square, and is paved only [Page 61] with 12 Stones, some of which are broken, or rather worn out by time; and from thence you have a Prospect of Old Caire, Boulack, the Ruins of the Ancient famed Memphis, the Mountains and Desarts of Aegypt; but it requires a strong Head to look down to the bottom, where Men and Cattle seem no bigger than Crows, and a good Arm cannot throw a Stone beyond the Foundation, for it will light upon some part of the Work; there were formerly Steps on every side, but Time, the Consumer of all things, has wasted and crumbled several of the Stones, so that in some parts there are dreadful Precipices, therefore Strangers take with them a Guide, who is used to Ascend, and it is their safest way: They as it were clamber up the Steps, being of that heighth, that they are forced to use their Hands and Knees, some 3 Foot, and others less; there is a Room by the way to rest and refresh one, in which are divers Images, Sculptures, and other Contrivances, according to the manner of the Ancients, and near the bottom you enter into a descending Alley 30 Paces long, and 3 Foot high, so that one must stoop very low; at the end of this there is a place to creep through like a little Wicket, which is even with the Ground; and this brings you into another little Alley like the former, only in this you must ascend, and this Alley ends in two others; that on the right Hand has no inclination, and leads to a vaulted Chamber 18 Foot long, and 12 broad; at the entrance into this Alley is a very deep Well, or Pit, though destitute of Water, in which are divers Caves, entering at the bottom, by the sides, and into this one must be let with Ropes, having a lighted Torch or Tapour, for it is exceeding Dark, which you must take care to secure, by reason of the great number of Bats that are bred, and flutter about that dark aboad; wherefore the more Prudent carry Tinderboxes along with them, to rekindle the extinguish'd Light: Opposite to the last Alley, there is another that begins so high in the Wall, that we were constrained to climb up [Page 62] to it, but to make amends, we found it much higher and broader than the rest; and having walked 70 Paces, still ascending, a spacious Room disclosed it self, which was 33 Foot long, and 16 broad, paved with 9 entire Stones, the length of them equal to the breadth of the Room; the Walls are of a curious Porphery, and at one end there is an empty Tomb of a very hard Stone, between 7 and 8 Foot long, and between 3 and 4 Foot broad, but broken about the Edges by such as visited the place, to carry with them as a Token. This Tomb is held to be made for the same Pharaoh that was over-whelmed in the Red-Sea, pursuing the Israelites.
The Piramid standing nearest to this is little, in comparison of it, being only 150 Foot, and each of the Sides or Faces 200 Foot broad: The common opinion is, that it was built by a beautiful Woman, called Rhodope, who was Aesop's fellow Slave in Aegypt, with whom the King became Enamour'd, and she got so much Money by her Love Intrigues, as defrayed the Charges of building it. The third is little inferiour to the first, for it is 510 Foot in heighth, and the breadth of each Face is 630 Foot, being a manner a Quadrilatrial Figure, as are the rest.
There is to be observed the Ruins of an Ancient Temple, before each of them, and a huge Idol of Stone standing very near those ruinated Structures, about 26 Foot high, and in all, proportionable, where they say, Oracles were delivered of old; but the Cheat now appears plain, for in the Head of it there is a deep hole, wherein a Man may easily hide himself; and here, no doubt, the Priest was placed who gave the Oracle to delude the People, his Noise coming through holes made in the Nostrils of the Idol; and so we may conclude of the rest, who with Ambiguous Answers, abused those that came to enquire future Events, or to be resolved in doubtful Matters. This Colessus is cut in a Rock, representing a Woman.
From hence we Travelled to a large Village, called Sacara, the Burying-place of the Ancient Aegyptians, in which there are Catacombs, or Sepulcheral Vaults. These are distinct Subteraneous Chambers built of square Stone; and in these are the Bodies that are called the Mummies of Aegypt, where a Moor is the Master of them, to open them for such as will give him Money, the entrance otherways being covered with Sand; the opening is above, through which one must go, and so down by a Ladder, or with a Rope; they were heretofore full of Bodies of the Ancient Aegyptians, so skilfully Embalmed, that they were, perhaps, preserved 3 or 4000 Years, with their Epitaphs in Letters of Gold on Cloth; their Coffins were enriched with Hierogliphicks, and the Figures of the Deceased in Relievo, and many Images, much Gold, and Jewels, were found with the Bodies; but the covetousness of the Moors and Turks, and the curiosity of the Franks, who purchase them of the former at a dear Rate, have almost exhausted them, though 'tis believed there are some that were never opened, and that the Moors conceal them out of Avarice, to take out what is precious, and raise the price of such Rarities to a higher Rate: Being let down in one of these Vaults, I saw many parts of Bodies, but little entire, they being much broken and mangled by such as had, out of Curiosity, carried away pieces of them.
This place is full of Piramids, but most of them very small, unless one that never was finished, which, if compleated, had been near in bigness, to the largest I have mentioned, proportionable to the Basis; there are in it, Ascending and Descending Alleys, at the end of which are 3 Rooms; but it not being finished as the rest, as to what it might have been is but Conjecture; some hold that this mighty Work ceased when Alexander the Great seized on Aegypt, and the Greeks wrested the Kingdom from the Race of the Ancient Aegyptian Kings.
On the other side of the Nile, opposite to this place, are to be seen the Ruins of the Ancient Memphis, where the Aegyptian Kings held their Court; but Time, and the spoiling Hand of War, has made it as Troy, a heap of Ruins: It seems to have been exceeding large, and extended along the River, till you come over-against Old Caire, so that although I spent many Hours in viewing these Ruins, I could find nothing of Note, but pieces of Pillars, and Images, the low Foundations of what seem to have been Ancient Temples, and little else Remarkable.
Returning towards Caire, I came to Maltherea, 3 Miles distant from the City, where are a great many curious shading Orange-Trees, and a delicious Spring of Water, which is said to have been the abiding place of the Blessed Virgin, when she fled with our Saviour into Aegypt: There are likewise Mirtle, and Lemon-Trees, that render the place very pleasant. This Spring and Joseph's Well in Caire, are all the Springs of Water I could see or hear of in Aegypt. That Well is of a prodigious Depth, cut in a solid Rock 106 Foot deep, yet so broad and winding are the Steps, that two Oxen may go down to the bottom, where, in a Hole, is a very curious Spring, and that Water is held precious; near it are some remains of Pharaoh's Pallace, and a Room called Joseph's Hall, adorned with Gold and Azure, and many Pillars, also his Steward's House, remarkable for 12 Columns of Thebaick Marble. Near to this there is a dreadful Prison, in which, it is held, that Patriarch was cast, upon the false Accusation of his Mistress; this consists of several Dungeons cut of the Rock, and if Tradition be true, his case in that place could not but be lamentable, for it appears very Dismal and Loathsome.
The common received opinion that it Rains not in Aegypt is groundless; the Showers fall seldomer, and less violently than in other places, so that a great part of the Country is dry and barren Sand; [Page 65] the chief Fertility is occasioned by the melting of the Snow from the Mountains, and the overflowing the River Nile, of which famous River, I come now to speak more particularly.
This River has its source near the Mountains of the Moon, or Jews Mountains in Aethiopia, where it is very small, but gathers many Rivers in long running, which makes it swell much; it runs through the length of Aegypt, having its course from South to North, discharging it self into the Mediterranean Sea, by two Mouths, making a Triangular Isle, by the Greeks called Delta, because it resembles the Greek Δ; these Mouths are Navigable for large Vessels; for though it has others, they are less, and can properly be called no other than Rivulets; It is broader than theSeine, and for the most part glides smoothly, unless where its Cataracts make it rage and foam, by its falling from a great heighth; when it overflows it appears like a little Sea, the Water is naturally thick and muddy, but they have a way to Clarifie it, by running it through Vessels filled with white Earth, and then it is very wholesome. Most of the Cities, Towns, and Villages, are Scituate on its Banks, or very near it, for the conveniency of Water, which is precious in that Country, for there are so many Villages, that you have scarce passed one, but you come at another. This River abounds not much with Fish, and there is but one good sort found at Caire, called a Variole, but there are a vast number of Crocodiles in it, who, no doubt, devour the Fish; this is an Amphibeous Creature, living at pleasure in the Water, or on Land; the Head of it is flat above and below, and the Eyes or it indifferently big, and very darkish; they have a long sharp Snout, with long sharp Teeth, but no Tongue to be perceived; the Body large, and all of a bigness; the Back covered with high Scales, like the Heads of large Nails, of a greenish colour, so hard, that they are Proof against a Halbert; their Tailes are very long, covered over with Scales, but the Belly is white, and pretty tender; [Page 66] it has four short Legs, with five Claws on the foremost Feet, and but four on the hinder. It grows as long as it Lives, and some are about 20 Foot from Head to Tail; these great ones many times snap young Children at Land, and sometimes put up their Noses, and pull People out of their Boats in the River; so that many go with Spikes to prevent their putting up their Noses; and it is dangerous to swim, where their haunts are: But that they Weep when they have taken their Prey, is, for what I could find, a Fable.
To take these Creatures, they make a great many Pits by the River side, and cover them with rotten Sticks, so that passing over, the Sticks give way, and they fall in; then Men let down a Rope with a running Nooze, to muzzle their Snouts, and so they draw them up, and kill them for their Skins, which they sell to Strangers at good Rates: None but the Moors will Eat of their Flesh.
There is also in the River a Hyppopotamuses, or Sea-Horse, and is of a tawney Colour, the hinder part like a Bouffler, though its Legs are short, yet very thick; it has the muzzle of an Ox, and some are about the bigness of a Camel: its Head resembles that of a Horse, and is very great, but the Eyes are small; the Ears little; the Neck thick; the Tail like an Elephant's; in the lower Jaw it has four Teeth half a Foot long, two of them are crooked, and as big as the Horn of an Ox in circumference.
This famous River mainly fertilises Aegypt, and without it, it would be desolate; nay, if it should fail but one Year to overflow, there would be a Famine in the Land, which some hold it did for seven Years, when the mighty Famine happen'd in Joseph's time, restrained by an Almighty Power; but seeing that Famine extended to others Land., this may be but Conjectural; when it Ebbs it leaves a fat nitreous Slime, that greatly enriches the Land, and makes it produce plentifully. They have few Fruit-Trees, and no Wine; for the small quantity of Grapes found, are thick rhined, producing little [Page 67] Juyce. The chief Trees are, the Fig-Trees of Pharo, the true Sycamore, Cassa, Papyrus, Colocasse, Orange, Lemon and Myrtle Trees, but these three last are mostly brought thither; they have great store of Onions, and other Roots; also plenty of Corn, and divers sorts of fine Fowls, as Yellow Birds, wild Turtles, Pidgeons, and Larks; and indeed Aegypt may be rightly termed an Earthly Paradise, did not the Oppression of their Governors much abate the Peoples pleasure, but that is very great, as in other parts of the Ottoman Empire.
At the cutting of the Khalis, or Sluyce of the Nile, there is a great Festival held, and triumphant Shows by Land and Water, with much rejoycing for many Days, and whereas the Ancient Aegyptians used to Sacrifice a Boy and a Girl taken by lot, to their fancied God of the River; but the Turks abolished that ill Custom, and instead thereof, place on each side, in the Night, the resemblance of a Man and a Woman in Fire, by fixing Lamps very dexterously to represent their Figures.
Aegypt, as other Countries under the Turkish Government, consists of a mixed People, of divers Nations, as Turks, Jews, Arabs, Franks, Armenians, Greeks, Moors, and the Ancient Inhabitants, who have liberty to exercise their Religion as they please, but have Mulcts set upon them, for the Turks care not what they do in that nature, so they can screw Money out of them, they being, next to theJews, the most covetous of all People. The Chief Government under the Grand Signior is in the Hands of a Bassa, who has his Sub Bassa's: The great Men of the Country are called Beys, who often bring his Head into danger, if he displeases them, by their sending complaints to the Ottoman Port: And thus having given you an account of the most considerable rarities of Aegypt, as to what I saw there, &c. I shall further entertain you with my Travels to Palestine, or the Holy-Land.
1.2. CHAP. XXIII.
My Arrival at Mexico; a Descriptien of that famed City, what it has been, and what at present it is; the manner of Building; nature of its Inhabitants; Riches, and plenty of the Mountains, Lakes, and places about it, &c.
AFter a tedious Journey, being Arrived at the great City of Mexico, the Head of the Northern Spanish Indies, I shall have occasion to speak more particularly of it, than of other places I passed through, as to what it now is, and in general as to what it has been, in its most flourishing splendor.
This City is large in Compass, and stands on two Lakes, which some have concluded to be but one, because of their nearness and Communication [Page 201] of their Waters, but they appear different in three things particularly; viz. one ebbs and flows by the force of the North-Wind, and the other does not; the Water of the one is Sweet, the other is Salt and Brackish; one has great store of Fish, and the other is destitute of any, though they have both their source or Springs that feed them from the great Mountain that overlooks the City. The Houses in this City are Built more stately, especially those of the Nobility and Gentry, than in other places; the Vice-Roy of the Mexacanian Province has his Palace here, and so has the Arch-Bishop. The Churches are many, Founded mostly on the Heathen Temples, which were in the flourishing state of the City, very numerous, and had Pyramides in the Midst of a vast height, on which the Idols stood, to whom they offered Humane Blood in Sacrifice, and sprinkled the Walls and Pillars of the Idol-Altar with it; there are in the City several Spacious Streets, and great Markets, affording all sorts of Provisions and other Necessaries. The Lakes by reason of the abundance of Boats and Canoes that Trade on them, furnish the City with store of plenty, especially with multitudes of Fowl and Fish taken there, the former being allured by a certain Oily tough Scum on the Water, which they eat as Food; besides there are many Trading Towns on the Banks where the Boats take in Loading, and constantly supply the City. The Monasteries and Nunneries are a graceful Ornament to the rest, their being almost of all the Orders. The Churches have Curious Spires, with Guilded Crosses on their Tops and the whole Fabrick's Built with Stone of rare Architecture. Water comes almost into all parts of the City, by small Conduits, for though the Streets were formerly watered by Channels from the Lake, they are now mostly stopped up, and firm Ground made where Houses are Built; for after the Conquest, Cortez divided the Ground where the Houses had been Consumed [Page 202] by Fire, or void spaces, were some to the Indians, and some to the Spaniards, and free Leave was given by Proclamation, for every one to come in and Build, so that it was soon Rebuilt; but since the Spaniards have in a manner dispossessed the Indians of their part; for though many Live in the City, yet are they obliged to hire the Houses at dear Rates, that were formerly by Grant from the Court of Spain, their lawful Patrimonies, or Inheritance. The Spaniards Built their Houses in their own Fashion, and the Indians theirs according to the custom of the Countrey. Cortez Built his where King Montezumas's stately Palace stood, which in the Siege had been consumed with Fire, and a vast number of Wild Beasts of all sorts that he kept there in Wooden Cages Burnt in it, lamentably roaring and howling as the Fire approached them; and this House is the most stately in the City, being the Seat of the Vice-Roy of all the Province, and is called the Palace of the Marquess d' Valla, for that Title the King of Spain conferred on Cortez, after he had obtained his amazing Victories, over such a mighty Nation, considering his Forces were but a handful of Spaniards; but that which seemed in all humane probability to give him success were the Bullets, and Chain-Shot, proceeding from his Thundring Artillery, for the Indians unacquainted with such Engines, took their roaring and breathing flame to be the Voice of the Angry Gods that fought against them, and when the Shot made Lanes among them, they took them for their Thunderbolts, or destroying Angels, sent as Messengers of their vengeance, to cut them off, not thinking any thing in nature could be of so violent a force, as to beat down Ranks of Men before them with such swiftness that the Eye could scarce trace the Deaths they gave. This, and the Spaniards Armour proof against their Arrows, made their Courage stoop and languish though otherways a Valiant people, as appears by their disputing it in [Page 203] the City from Street to Street, and fortifying themselves with intrenchments as they Retreated, tho' by the Sword, Pestilence, and Famine, 10000 or more, lay Dead within the Walls. In this War Montezuma was Slain by his own Subjects, against their Wills, for being taken Prisoner, when multitudes of Indians assaulted the Palace, where Cortez and his Spaniards were, he was constrained to go to a Ballcony, or Battlement, to desire his Subjects to desist, and come to a Parley, when one of the inraged multitude not knowing him in the hurry, struck him with a sharp Flint on the Temples, which wounded him so much that he fell down, and soon after Died; yet at that time Cortez was forced to retire out of the City, to strengthen himself in Flaxcallan, and at his second time took it, by the help of the Vergantines, or Vessels he Besieged it with, on the side of the Lake, which stopping up all passage for Relief, Famine, and its attendant Pestilence, proved their worst Enemy, yet submitted they not, but disputed it, as I have said, till Quahutimo C—their New King, seeing things brought to the last extreamity, endeavouring to fly by way of the Lake, was surprized by the Spanish Vessels, and made Prisoner, at that time by Cortez's perswasion (who would not give him his Wish to kill him, tho' he desired it,) Commanded his Men to lay down their Arms, and then about 60000 came out of their strength and submitted, have Lived a long time on the Flesh of the Slain; yet Famine notwithstanding had so pinched them, that they looked like the shadows of Men, Lean, Meager, and very Gastly.
Over again the Palace, they Built Arched Docks, to lay up the Vergantines, in perpetual memory of the notable Service they had done; but they are mostly wasted by Time; and other Vessels Trading on the Lake are in the wet Season laid up there. However this Great City is sometimes unhealthful, for as much as there arises at certain [Page 204] times a noysom Vapour from the Lake, and at those times the Winds blow little to purge the Air, because of the Inclosure of Mountains. The Spaniards a long time stood on their Guard, after the taking of Mexico, the Citizens keeping 2000 Horse and Arms, for Horse-Men, always to be in a readiness when the Trumpet should sound; but by what they have consumed of the Indians in their Mines, and in working on the Lake, in making great Intrenchments, other Works, and particularly, by their Cruelty, they have so far exhausted them, that those Forces are laid aside, and they live secure without fear of surprize; for the City lies open in most parts, and in all defenceless, except the strength of the Inhabitans being destitute of Bullwarks and other considerable Fortifications, tho' an exceeding Rich City, and the Lading of 20 or more Ships are brought yearly to it, by the way of the North Sea, containing the best and Richest Commodities of Spain, and other parts of Christendom, bought up by the Spaniards to this purpose, and from the South-Sea it Trafficks with Perue; it Trades also with several Eastern Nations, by way of the Pilipinas.
Money is daily Coined in the Mint to a great value, the Silver being brought on Mules from the Mines of St.Lewis de Saccatecas, about 80 Leagues more Northward, and beyond them the Spaniards by Conquest, and the voluntary submission of the Natives, have gained the possession of very large Countries. There is in this City a University, which was formerly only a School. The Officers here are as in the great Cities of Spain, and it is Computed to have in the City and Suburbs 50000 Houses, and to the latter, called Guadalupe, the Indians are mostly confined. The Spaniards Styling themselves absolute Conquerors and Disposers of their Persons and Fortunes, being very proud and insulting over them, a Conqueror among them being termed a Title of Honour, so that the most Beggarly among the Spaniards [Page 205] will proudly boast to be descended from one of the first Conquerors, and Style himself a Don, though he has not one Foot of Land in Possession. There are many fair Gardens and Orchards about this City, with pleasant Summer-Fountains, and other things suitable for recreation in them.
The Buildings are with Stone and Brick, but not high, to prevent their being shaken, and overthrown by Earthquakes, that often happen in this Country. In the narrowest Streets 3 Coaches may go abrest, and in the broadest 6; They keep a vast number of Coaches here, some account them 15000. those of the Nobility and Gentry very stately, overlayed with Gold or Silver, and the Corners embolished with Precious Stone, Ivory, or Mother-pearl, the Lining and Seats are Cloth of Gold, Silver, or East-India Silks. The Shops are every where stored with Rich Merchandize, and by this you may guess at their Riches and dexterity in Workmanship. A ViceRoy of Mexico,Anno 1625. sent the then King of Spain the representation of a Poppinsay, a Bird bigger than a Phesant of Meltal, and Precious Stones, so artificially placed, as to represent us several Colours, and all parts very lively, and it was estimated at half a Million of Duccats. In the Church belonging to the Cloyster of Dominican, is a Silver Lamp, curiously wrought, with 300 Branches, beside 100 little Lamps for Oyl set in it, each of different Workmanship, valued at 400000 Duccats, and with such like curious Works are the Streets made Rich and Beautiful from the Shops of Goldsmiths. The Spanish Women are here very Beautiful, and take a far greater liberty than allowed in Spain, in Gaming, Drinking, and making Visits; nay, they will from their Windows, or Ballconies, invite Strangers as they pass the Streets, to play at Primera, and other Games, and such as accept the offer are plentifully Feasted with Wine, Sweet-meats, [Page 206] and other Dainties, though this sometimes prove fatal, for the Spaniards though so far removed, have not altogether forgot the imbred Jealousie of their Spanish Ancestors, who brought it out of Spain with them. Many of the Spaniards Marry with the Indian Women, and beget a race called Mollotos, of a Tawney Complection; nor spare they to take away the Indian's Wives, if they like them better than their own; they boast themselves to the poor credulous Natives to be the Valiantest and most Accomplish'd Men in the World, and that all Nations Tremble at the Name of a Spaniard, and by this, and other Artifices, they keep them in great awe and subjection, assuring them, that no Nation under Heaven is able to deliver them out of their Hands, or in Battel to stand before them.
As for the Spaniards Attire, the Fashion alters not here, but it is with the better sort excessive Rich, and the meanest will go as Fine as possible, though other Necessities crave the sparing of it. The best Silks, Damask, Cloath of Gold and Silver, Embroideries of Pearl and Precious Stones, are commonly worn amongst them: nay, among Trades-people, a Blackamoor, or Tawney Young Maid, will make a hard shift to be in the Fashion, with a Neck-Lace or Chain of Gold, Bracelets of Pearl, and Ear-bobs of large Pearl or Precious Stone; and though their Garments are very Rich, yet they overlay them with Gold, Silver-Lace, or Embroidery of Gold and Silver, and these sort of Wenches are allowed or wincked at to be Curtizans or Common Women, to satisfie the Spaniniards Venery, to which they are insatiably given, and they have allways change of Apparel, especially for Summer and Winter, though the Winter here consists only in terrible Rains, and the overflowing of Lakes and Rivers, with innundations, occasioning many times the Destruction of Houses, People, and Cattel, and continues some Months. They are here very Superstitious, [Page 207] both Spaniards and Indians, for at the invitation of the Priests they make excessive Offerings to the Shrines of Saints, as Crowns of Gold, Bracelets, Precious Stones, Vessels of Silver and Gold, so that the Monasteries and Churches may well be said to enjoy the Profits and Pleasures of a Golden World; for their Revenues, or yearly Incomes, are more than in any part of Europe; nor do these Ecclesiasticks tie themselves to the strictness of the Rules of their Orders, but pass away the time in divers Recreations. They have pleasant Gardens, Fountains, Baths, Musick, and plenty of Provision to Excess, so that this exuberiance or super abounding of this Country, has corrupted the Manners of the begging Friars, and rendred them as stately as petty Princes, particularly, their Superiors, who scarcely give place to any. Their Lodgings are stately, and the Roofs of their Cloysters and Churches adorned with Mosaick Work and Guildings of Gold; some Altars are of Massive Gold, others of Silver, Pillars of Brazil, and Marble of little esteem among them; and this Glorious shew of Pomp and Grandure draws the poor Indians to Admire and Adore them, though before their Heathen Temples were very Magnificent, but not comparable to these. They have Tabernacles of Gold and Silver, Christial, and other precious things to enshrine and carry the Host about in Procession; so that I may well say, the Riches of the greatest King or Potentate I have yet spoken of, may in some degree of Magnificence fall short of what I saw here, if I take the Clergy among the Laity.
In the Market-Place of this City, which is very Spacious, there are Arched Piazza's, and Shops furnished with Costly Wares, and before their Shops are all manner of curious Fruits Sold, that the Country affords; the Arches of the ViceRoy's Palace, with the Walks of the House, and the Garden, belonging to it, takes up almost one side of the Market; at the end of it is the principal [Page 208] Prison, strongly Built of Stone, and next it the Beautiful Street called La Pateria, or theGoldsmiths-street; where are to be seen the value of many Millions in Plate and Jewels. The Street of St. Augustin is very fair, where they Trade mostly in Silks. Tabuca is the longest and broadest, where mostly are Shops vending Iron-ware, Brass, and Steel, made into things fit for use and Service, and this is of very stately Building. In the Street Del Aquilla, the Houses of the Gentry are mostly seated. It is called so from an Eagle of Stone placed there, upon the Conquest of the City. There is a kind of a Park, or void place, shaded with Trees, where the Gallants and Ladies with their Trains and Equipages air themselves in the Evening, and here much mischief is done by quarels, upon the account of Jealousie in Courtship, and hundreds of Swords at a time have been drawn, to Revenge or rescue a Revenger, and carry him off to Sanctuary, where being once Lodged, he is out of the power of the Law; yet after all, the Lake at present much undermines the City, for that the Springs permit but of few Cellars; in laying in Dead Bodies the Coffins are half covered with Water, and many of the stately Buildings sink, so that they are forced often to repair their Foundations, by laying new ones on the old, that seem as it were to be swallowed up in a quicksand.
This City has but 3 ways to come into it by Causey, the one is from the West, and that is a Mile and half long; another from the North, containing 3 Miles; on the East there is no entrance by Land, but on the South the Causey is 5 Miles in length, and by this last way Cortez entred when he made his Conquest of it.
About this City, as well as in other places, are divers kinds of delicate Fruits, as the Nuchili of divers Colours, a Fruit which eaten, stains like Black-Cherries, and colours the Urine as red as Blood, so that Strangers unacquainted with its [Page 209] quality, really fancy they void Blood; this put the Spaniards into great frights at their first coming, and their Physicians being ignorant of the Operation applied Remedies to stanch Blood, till the Indians gave them to understand better; the skin of them are thick, and full of small prickles, which touching the Lips stick in them, and make them for a time stick together, so that the Voice will faulter, but this skin is easily pealed off, and then the Fruit appears of a Scarlet Red. There are also Apples, Pears, Quinces, Pomegranets, Musk-mellions, Chess-Nuts, Wall-Nuts, Figs, Lemons, Oranges, Citron, and abundance of other Fruits, known in Europe. But one Tree more Admirable than the rest, not known amongst us, the Metel, which they Plant and dress as they do their Vines. It hath near 40 kinds of Leaves growing on it, which serve for divers uses; for, when very tender, they make Conserves of them, when more grown, Paper, Flax, Mantles, Shoes, Mats, Girdles, and Cordage; on other Leaves grow Prickles so strong, that placing them in Frames of Wood they make saws of them; from the Root there cometh a Juice like unto Syrrup, which by heat is made into Sugar; they make of it also Vinegar, and a sort of Wine, that stupifies the Indians to Drunkenness. The Rhin'd roasted heals Sores and Ulcers, applying Poltisces to them; and from the uppermost Branches distills a Gum, which dissolved in Wine, Antidotes Poyson: And to conclude with this City, there is nothing in or about it wanting, to make it happy; but the Temper of the people, who are restless, in a Countrey flowing with all Delights Nature or Art can afford them in any degree.