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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/133

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. Ill ration of Mexico,* in which they are situated, it being the principal seat of Muteczuma's power. This Pro- vince is in the form of a circle, surrounded on all sides by lofty and rugged mountains ; its level surface com- prises an area of about seventy leagues in circumference, including two lakes, that overspread nearly the whole valley, being navigated by boats more than fifty leagues round. One of these lakes contains fresh, and the other^ which is the larger of the two, salt water. On one side of the lakes, in the middle of the valley, a range of high- lands divides them from one another, with the exception of a narrow strait which lies between the highlands and the lofty sierras. This strait is a bow-shot wide, and connects the two lakes ; and by this means a trade is carried on between the cities and other settlements on the lakes in canoes without the necessity of travelling by land. As the salt lake rises and falls with its tides like the sea, during the time of high water it pours into the other lake with the rapidity of a powerful stream and on the other hand, when the tide has ebbed, the water runs from the fresh into the salt lake. This great city of Temixtitan [Mexico] is situated in this salt lake, and from the main land to the denser parts of it, by whichever route one chooses to enter, the dis- tance is two leagues. There are four avenues or en- trances to the city, all of which are formed by artificial causeways, two spears' length in width. The city is as large as Seville or Cordova ; its streets, I speak of the principal ones, are very wide and straight; some of these, and all the inferior ones, are half land and half v/ater,

  • Cortes applies this name to the Province in which the city, called by him

Temixtitan, more properly Tenochtitlan, but now Mexico, was situated. See Humboldt, Nouv. Esp. 1. i. c. i.