hardly be called—abreast of the celebrated castle of San Juan de Ulua, and within full view of the sea wall, and the numerous towers, cupolas, and the batteries of the city. Low shores and bunks lay on either hand, and the Island of Sacrificios just broke the watery horizon to the east.
After reading the above, you will not expect me to say much in description of La Villa Rica della Vera Cruz.
Regularly and even beautifully built, with fine open streets, a noble spacious square, and many churches—the principal channel through which the riches of New Spain are poured into the Old World—Vera Cruz is deserted in its appearance, and forbidding, from the utterly steril character of the shore on which it is based, and the flights of unclean birds which perch upon its roofs and churches, and hover round its walls. Mammon is the sole god of the city which is called after the symbol of our faith; and here the bones of thousands of his worshippers whiten in the sands. The population has dwindled down from sixteen thousand to five thousand souls; and every year, a large proportion of the new inhabitants, or the foreign arrivals, whether from the cool table land above or from beyond sea, are carried off by that terrible malady the "black vomit."
The season when the vomito displays its greatest virulence is commonly from August to October. This year, it had never ceased to carry off newcomers, even during the cool months following the preceding rainy season, and already in January it had made considerable ravages At the time we thus came within its power, forty deaths a day were reported, and it was supposed many more actually occurred.
The intense heats of the climate, augmented by the high walls of the city, and the rise of the sand hills—together with the stagnant waters in the neighbouring lagoons—are supposed to be the nurses of this terribly malignant and subtile form of bilious fever, to which experience has proved that the unacclimated is exposed, though he breathe the infected atmosphere but a