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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/437

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CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 415 I was employed for several days, it proved fruitless on account of the hills of sand that shifted their posi- tion every little while, and overspread the country.* It pleased our Lord, however, that at the present time, two leagues from that port, a very good site was found, comprising all the requisite qualities for a town, as it contained much wood, water and pasturage, except that there was no stone suitable for building within a con- venient distance. Not far from this place a lake was discovered, which I caused to be explored with a canoe to ascertain whether it communicated with the sea, or whether boats could come up by means of it to the pro- posed town. I found that a river flowed from this lake into the sea, and that at the mouth of the river there was a fathom of water and more ; so that by clearing out the lake, which was much obstructed with trees, boats could come up and discharge at the very houses of the town. Seeing the conveniences of the situation, and the neces- sity of some change for the benefit of the shipping, I caused the town of Medellin, which was twenty leagues inland, in the province of Tatalptetelco, to be transferred to it ; and accordingly nearly the whole of its population have already removed and built their houses at that place. Orders have been given for clearing out the lake, and establishing a board of trade ; and although there will be some delay in discharging the ships, on account of the necessity for ascending with boats the distance of two leagues to the lake, the shipping will be secure from all danger. I consider it certain that this town

  • The present city of Vera Cruz is built on the ground adjudged by Cortes as

unsuitable for a town. Humboldt, in describing it, mentions the hills of moving sand {.des collines de sable mouvant) around the city, which he says change their form and situation every year, and contribute very much to increase the sufTo- eating heat of the air in the city. — Nouv. Esp. 277, 4to. ed.