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William Robertson, The Works of William Robertson. Vol. 7. The History of America, books 5-8. [1840]

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William Robertson, The Works of William Robertson, D.D. To which is Prefixed, An Account of the Life and Writings of the Author, by Dugald Stewart. In Eight volumes. (London: T. Cadell, 1840). Vol. 7. The History of America, books 5-8. https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2780

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About this Title:

This is vol. 7 of an 8 volume edition of The Works of William Robertson (1840). It contains his major works of history: The History of Scotland (1759) in vols. 1 and 2; A View of the Progress of Society in Europe in vol 3; The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (1769) in vols. 3-5; The History of America (1777), vols. 6-8; and An Historical Disquisition concerning Ancient India (1791) in vol. 8.

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Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WORKS of WILLIAM ROBERTSON, D.D. to which is prefixed, AN ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE AND WRITINGS OF THE AUTHOR,
by DUGALD STEWART, F.R.S. Edin.
IN EIGHT VOLUMES.
VOL. VII.
HISTORY OF AMERICA.
LONDON:
PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, STRAND;
longman, orme, brown, green, & longmans; w. t. clarke; j. m. richardson; hatchard & son; j. g. f. & j. rivington; j. bohn; j. carpenter; duncan & malcolm; whittaker & co.; simpkin, marshall, & co.; w. h. allen & co.; e. hodgson; bigg & son; t. bumpus; j. dowding; j. bain; smith, elder, & co.; h. washbourne; j. templeman; houlston & stoneman; w. h. reid; r. mackie; h. g. bohn; james bohn; f. macpherson; w. morrison; g. routledge; j. bickers; l. booth; c. dolman: and j. parker, oxford: and j. & j. j. deighton, cambridge.
1840.
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]

THE

HISTORY

of

AMERICA.

to which is subjoined,

A DISQUISITION ON ANCIENT INDIA.

BY WILLIAM ROBERTSON, D.D.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, STRAND;

longman, orme, brown, green, & longmans; w. t. clarke; j. m. richardson; hatchard & son; j. g. f. & j. rivington; j. bohn; j. carpenter; duncan & malcolm; whittaker & co.; simpkin, marshall, & co.; w. h. allen & co.; e. hodgson; bigg & son; t. bumpus; j. dowding; j. bain; smith, elder, & co.; h. washbourne; j. templeman; houlston & stoneman; w. h. reid; r. mackie; h. g. bohn; james bohn; f. macpherson; w. morrison; g. routledge; j. bickers; l. booth; c. dolman: and j. parker, oxford: and j. & j. j. deighton, cambridge.

1840.

Edition: current; Page: [iv] Edition: current; Page: [1]

The Works of William Robertson, D.D. Vol. VII

THE

HISTORY

of

AMERICA.

BOOK V.

1518.When Grijalva returned to Cuba, he found the armament destined to attempt the conquest of that rich country which he had discovered,Preparations of Velasquez for invading New Spain. almost complete. Not only ambition, but avarice, had urged Velasquez to hasten his preparations; and, having such a prospect of gratifying both, he had advanced considerable sums out of his private fortune towards defraying the expence of the expedition. At the same time, he exerted his influence as governor, in engaging the most distinguished persons in the colony to undertake the service.a At a time when the spirit of the Spanish nation was adventurous to excess, a number of soldiers, eager to embark in any daring enterprise, soon appeared. But it was not so easy to find a person qualified to take the command in an expedition of so much importance; and the character of Velasquez, who had the right of nomination, greatly increased the difficulty of the choice. Though of most aspiring ambition, and not destitute of talents Edition: current; Page: [2] for government,BOOK V.lf1681-07_figure_001.jpg he possessed neither such courage, nor such vigour and activity of mind, as to undertake in person the conduct of the armament which he was preparing. In this embarrassing situation, he formed the chimerical scheme, not only of achieving great exploits by a deputy, but of securing to himself the glory of conquests which were to be made by another. In the execution of this plan, he fondly aimed at reconciling contradictions. He was solicitous to choose a commander of intrepid resolution, and of superior abilities, because he knew these to be requisite in order to ensure success; but, at the same time, from the jealousy natural to little minds, he wished this person to be of a spirit so tame and obsequious, as to be entirely dependent on his will. But when he came to apply those ideas in forming an opinion concerning the several officers who occurred to his thoughts as worthy of being intrusted with the command, he soon perceived that it was impossible to find such incompatible qualities united in one character. Such as were distinguished for courage and talents were too high spirited to be passive instruments in his hands. Those who appeared more gentle and tractable, were destitute of capacity, and unequal to the charge. This augmented his perplexity and his fears. He deliberated long, and with much solicitude, and was still wavering in his choice, when Amador de Lares, the royal treasurer in Cuba, and Andres Duero, his own secretary, the two persons in whom he chiefly confided, were encouraged by this irresolution to propose a new candidate, and they supported their recommendation with such assiduity and address, that, no less fatally for Velasquez than happily for their country, it proved successful.b

He appoints Cortes commander.The man whom they pointed out to him was Fernando Cortes. He was born at Medellin, a small town Edition: current; Page: [3] in Estremadura, in the year one thousand four hundred and eighty-five, and descended from a family of noble blood, but of very moderate fortune. Being originally destined by his parents to the study of law, as the most likely method of bettering his condition, he was sent early to the university of Salamanca, where he imbibed some tincture of learning. But he was soon disgusted with an academic life, which did not suit his ardent and restless genius, and retired to Medellin, where he gave himself up entirely to active sports and martial exercises. At this period of life, he was so impetuous, so overbearing, and so dissipated, that his father was glad to comply with his inclination, and send him abroad as an adventurer in arms. There were in that age two conspicuous theatres, on which such of the Spanish youth as courted military glory might display their valour; one in Italy, under the command of the Great Captain; the other in the New World. Cortes preferred the former, but was prevented by indisposition from embarking with a reinforcement of troops sent to Naples. Upon this disappointment he turned his views towards America, whither he was allured by the prospect of the advantages which he might derive from the patronage of Ovandoc, the governor of Hispaniola, who was his kinsman. When he landed at St. Domingo, in one thousand five hundred and four, his reception was such as equalled his most sanguine hopes, and he was employed by the governor in several honourable and lucrative stations. These, however, did not satisfy his ambition; and, in the year one thousand five hundred and eleven, he obtained permission to accompany Diego Velasquez in his expedition to Cuba. In this service he distinguished himself so much, that, notwithstanding some violent contests with Velasquez, occasioned by trivial events, unworthy of remembrance, he was at Edition: current; Page: [4] length taken into favour, and received an ample concession of lands and of Indians, the recompense usually bestowed upon adventurers in the New World.d

Though Cortes had not hitherto acted in high command, he had displayed such qualities in several scenes of difficulty and danger, as raised universal expectation, and turned the eyes of his countrymen towards him, as one capable of performing great things. The turbulence of youth, as soon as he found objects and occupations suited to the ardour of his mind, gradually subsided, and settled into a habit of regular indefatigable activity. The impetuosity of his temper, when he came to act with his equals, insensibly abated, by being kept under restraint, and mellowed into a cordial soldierly frankness. These qualities were accompanied with calm prudence in concerting his schemes, with persevering vigour in executing them, and with, what is peculiar to superior genius, the art of gaining the confidence and governing the minds of men. To all which were added the inferior accomplishments that strike the vulgar, and command their respect; a graceful person, a winning aspect, extraordinary address in martial exercises, and a constitution of such vigour as to be capable of enduring any fatigue.

As soon as Cortes was mentioned to Velasquez by his two confidents, he flattered himself that he had at length found what he had hitherto sought in vain, a man with talents for command, but not an object for jealousy. Neither the rank nor the fortune of Cortes, as he imagined, was such that he could aspire at independence. He had reason to believe that, by his own readiness to bury ancient animosities in oblivion, as well as his liberality in conferring several recent favours, he had already gained the Edition: current; Page: [5] good will of Cortes, and hoped, by this new and unexpected mark of confidence, that he might attach him for ever to his interest.

Soon becomes jealous of him.Cortes, receiving his commission with the warmest expressions of respect and gratitude to the governor, immediately erected his standard before his own house,October 23. appeared in a military dress, and assumed all the ensigns of his new dignity. His utmost influence and activity were exerted in persuading many of his friends to engage in the service, and in urging forward the preparations for the voyage. All his own funds, together with what money he could raise by mortgaging his lands and Indians, were expended in purchasing military stores and provisions, or in supplying the wants of such of his officers as were unable to equip themselves in a manner suited to their rank.e Inoffensive, and even laudable as this conduct was, his disappointed competitors were malicious enough to give it a turn to his disadvantage. They represented him as aiming already, with little disguise, at establishing an independent authority over his troops, and endeavouring to secure their respect or love by his ostentatious and interested liberality. They reminded Velasquez of his former dissensions with the man in whom he now reposed so much confidence, and foretold that Cortes would be more apt to avail himself of the power, which the governor was inconsiderately putting in his hands, to avenge past injuries, than to requite recent obligations. These insinuations made such impression upon the suspicious mind of Velasquez, that Cortes soon observed some symptoms of a growing alienation and distrust in his behaviour, and was advised by Lares and Duero to hasten his departure, before these should become so confirmed, as to break out with open violence. Fully sensible of this danger, he urged forward his preparations with Edition: current; Page: [6] such rapidity, that he set sail from St. Jago de Cuba on the eighteenth of November, Velasquez accompanying him to the shore, and taking leave of him with an appearance of perfect friendship and confidence, though he had secretly given it in charge to some of Cortes’ officers, to keep a watchful eye upon every part of their commander’s conduct.f

Endeavours to deprive him of his commission,Cortes proceeded to Trinidad, a small settlement on the same side of the island, where he was joined by several adventurers, and received a supply of provisions and military stores, of which his stock was still very incomplete. He had hardly left St. Jago, when the jealousy which had been working in the breast of Velasquez grew so violent, that it was impossible to suppress it. The armament was no longer under his own eye and direction; and he felt, that as his power over it ceased, that of Cortes would become more absolute. Imagination now aggravated every circumstance, which had formerly excited suspicion: the rivals of Cortes industriously threw in reflections which increased his fears; and, with no less art than malice, they called superstition to their aid, employing the predictions of an astrologer in order to complete the alarm. All these, by their united operation, produced the desired effect. Velasquez repented bitterly of his own imprudence, in having committed a trust of so much importance to a person whose fidelity appeared so doubtful, and hastily dispatched instructions to Trinidad, empowering Verdugo, the chief magistrate there, to deprive Cortes of his commission. But Cortes had already made such progress in gaining the esteem and confidence of his troops, that, finding officers as well as soldiers equally zealous to support his authority, he soothed or intimidated Verdugo, and was permitted to depart from Trinidad without molestation.

Edition: current; Page: [7]

From Trinidad Cortes sailed for the Havana, in order to raise more soldiers and to complete the victualling of his fleet.and to lay him under arrest. There several persons of distinction entered into the service, and engaged to supply what provisions were still wanting; but, as it was necessary to allow them some time for performing what they had promised, Velasquez, sensible that he ought no longer to rely on a man of whom he had so openly discovered his distrust, availed himself of the interval, which this unavoidable delay afforded, in order to make one attempt more to wrest the command out of the hands of Cortes. He loudly complained of Verdugo’s conduct, accusing him either of childish facility, or of manifest treachery, in suffering Cortes to escape from Trinidad. Anxious to guard against a second disappointment, he sent a person of confidence to the Havana, with peremptory injunctions to Pedro Barba, his lieutenant-governor in that colony, instantly to arrest Cortes, to send him prisoner to St. Jago, under a strong guard, and to countermand the sailing of the armament until he should receive farther orders. He wrote likewise to the principal officers, requiring them to assist Barba in executing what he had given him in charge. But before the arrival of this messenger, a Franciscan friar of St. Jago had secretly conveyed an account of this interesting transaction to Bartholomew de Olmedo, a monk of the same order, who acted as chaplain to the expedition.

Cortes defeats his schemes, and continues his preparations.Cortes, forewarned of the danger, had time to take precautions for his own safety. His first step was to find some pretext for removing from the Havana Diego de Ordaz, an officer of great merit, but in whom, on account of his known attachment to Velasquez, he could not confide in this trying and delicate juncture. He gave him the command of a vessel, destined to take on board some provisions in a small harbour beyond Cape Antonio, and thus made sure Edition: current; Page: [8] of his absence, without seeming to suspect his fidelity. When he was gone, Cortes no longer concealed the intentions of Velasquez from his troops; and as officers and soldiers were equally impatient to set out on an expedition, in preparing for which most of them had expended all their fortunes, they expressed their astonishment and indignation at that illiberal jealousy, to which the governor was about to sacrifice, not only the honour of their general, but all their sanguine hopes of glory and wealth. With one voice they entreated that he would not abandon the important station to which he had such a good title. They conjured him not to deprive them of a leader whom they followed with such well-founded confidence, and offered to shed the last drop of their blood in maintaining his authority. Cortes was easily induced to comply with what he himself so ardently desired. He swore that he would never desert soldiers who had given him such a signal proof of their attachment, and promised instantly to conduct them to that rich country, which had been so long the object of their thoughts and wishes. This declaration was received with transports of military applause, accompanied with threats and imprecations against all who should presume to call in question the jurisdiction of their general, or to obstruct the execution of his designs.

The amount of his forces.Every thing was now ready for their departure: but though this expedition was fitted out by the united effort of the Spanish power in Cuba; though every settlement had contributed its quota of men and provisions; though the governor had laid out considerable sums, and each adventurer had exhausted his stock, or strained his credit, the poverty of the preparations was such as must astonish the present age, and bore, indeed, no resemblance to an armament destined for the conquest of a great empire. The fleet consisted of eleven vessels; the largest of a hundred tons, which Edition: current; Page: [9] was dignified by the name of Admiral; three of seventy or eighty tons, and the rest small open barks. On board of these were six hundred and seventeen men; of which five hundred and eight belonged to the land service, and a hundred and nine were seamen or artificers. The soldiers were divided into eleven companies, according to the number of the ships; to each of which Cortes appointed a captain, and committed to him the command of the vessel while at sea, and of the men when on shore.g As the use of fire-arms among the nations of Europe was hitherto confined to a few battalions of regularly-disciplined infantry, only thirteen soldiers were armed with musquets, thirty-two were cross-bowmen, and the rest had swords and spears. Instead of the usual defensive armour, which must have been cumbersome in a hot climate, the soldiers wore jackets quilted with cotton, which experience had taught the Spaniards to be a sufficient protection against the weapons of the Americans. They had only sixteen horses, ten small field-pieces, and four falconets.h

Feb. 10.With this slender and ill-provided train did Cortes set sail,1519. to make war upon a monarch whose dominions were more extensive than all the kingdoms subject to the Spanish crown.His departure from Cuba. As religious enthusiasm always mingled with the spirit of adventure in the New World, and, by a combination still more strange, united with avarice, in prompting the Spaniards to all their enterprises, a large cross was displayed in their standards, with this inscription, Let us follow the cross, for under this sign we shall conquer.

So powerfully were Cortes and his followers animated with both these passions, that no less eager to plunder the opulent country whither they were bound, than zealous to propagate the Christian faith among its inhabitants, they set out, not with the solicitude Edition: current; Page: [10] natural to men going upon dangerous services, but with that confidence which arises from security of success, and certainty of the divine protection.

Touches at Cozumel;As Cortes had determined to touch at every place which Grijalva had visited, he steered directly towards the island of Cozumel; there he had the good fortune to redeem Jerome de Aguilar, a Spaniard, who had been eight years a prisoner among the Indians. This man was perfectly acquainted with a dialect of their language, understood through a large extent of country, and, possessing besides a considerable share of prudence and sagacity, proved extremely useful as an interpreter.March 4. From Cozumel, Cortes proceeded to the river of Tabasco,and at Tabasco. in hopes of a reception as friendly as Grijalva had met with there, and of finding gold in the same abundance; but the disposition of the natives, from some unknown cause, was totally changed. After repeated endeavours to conciliate their good will, he was constrained to have recourse to violence. Though the forces of the enemy were numerous, and advanced with extraordinary courage, they were routed with great slaughter, in several successive actions. The loss which they sustained, and still more the astonishment and terror excited by the destructive effect of the fire-arms, and the dreadful appearance of the horses, humbled their fierce spirits, and induced them to sue for peace. They acknowledged the King of Castile as their sovereign, and granted Cortes a supply of provisions, with a present of cotton garments, some gold, and twenty female slaves.i

Arrives at St. Juan de Ulua.Cortes continued his course to the westward, keeping as near the shore as possible, in order to observe the country; but could discover no proper place for landing,April 2. until he arrived at St. Juan de Ulua.k As Edition: current; Page: [11] he entered this harbour, a large canoe, full of people, among whom were two who seemed to be persons of distinction, approached his ship with signs of peace and amity. They came on board without fear or distrust, and addressed him in a most respectful manner, but in a language altogether unknown to Aguilar. Cortes was in the utmost perplexity and distress at an event of which he instantly foresaw all the consequences, and already felt the hesitation and uncertainty with which he should carry on the great schemes which he meditated, if, in his transactions with the natives, he must depend entirely upon such an imperfect, ambiguous, and conjectural mode of communication, as the use of signs. But he did not remain long in this embarrassing situation; a fortunate accident extricated him, when his own sagacity could have contributed little towards his relief. One of the female slaves, whom he had received from the cazique of Tabasco, happened to be present at the first interview between Cortes and his new guests. She perceived his distress, as well as the confusion of Aguilar; and, as she perfectly understood the Mexican language, she explained what they had said in the Yucatan tongue, with which Aguilar was acquainted. This woman, known afterwards by the name of Doña Marina, and who makes a conspicuous figure in the history of the New World, where great revolutions were brought about by small causes and inconsiderable instruments, was born in one of the provinces of the Mexican empire. Having been sold as a slave in the early part of her life, after a variety of adventures she fell into the hands of the Tabascans, and had resided long enough among them to acquire their language, without losing the use of her own. Though it was both tedious and troublesome to converse by the intervention of two different interpreters, Cortes was so highly pleased with having Edition: current; Page: [12] discovered this method of carrying on some intercourse with the people of a country into which he was determined to penetrate, that, in the transports of his joy, he considered it as a visible interposition of Providence in his favour.l

Lands his troops.He now learned that the two persons whom he had received on board of his ship were deputies from Teutile and Pilpatoe, two officers intrusted with the government of that province, by a great monarch, whom they called Montezuma; and that they were sent to enquire what his intentions were in visiting their coast, and to offer him what assistance he might need, in order to continue his voyage. Cortes, struck with the appearance of those people, as well as the tenour of the message, assured them, in respectful terms, that he approached their country with most friendly sentiments, and came to propose matters of great importance to the welfare of their prince and his kingdom, which he would unfold more fully, in person, to the governor and the general. Next morning, without waiting for any answer, he landed his troops, his horses, and artillery; and, having chosen proper ground, began to erect huts for his men, and to fortify his camp. The natives, instead of opposing the entrance of those fatal guests into their country, assisted them in all their operations with an alacrity of which they had ere long good reason to repent.

His first interview with the Mexicans.Next day, Teutile and Pilpatoe entered the Spanish camp with a numerous retinue; and Cortes, considering them as the ministers of a great monarch, entitled to a degree of attention very different from that which the Spaniards were accustomed to pay to the petty caziques, with whom they had intercourse in the isles, received them with much formal ceremony. He informed Edition: current; Page: [13] them, that he came as ambassador from Don Carlos of Austria, King of Castile, the greatest monarch of the East, and was intrusted with propositions of such moment, that he could impart them to none but the Emperor Montezuma himself, and therefore required them to conduct him, without loss of time, into the presence of their master. The Mexican officers could not conceal their uneasiness at a request which they knew would be disagreeable, and which they foresaw might prove extremely embarrassing to their sovereign, whose mind had been filled with many disquieting apprehensions, ever since the former appearance of the Spaniards on his coasts. But, before they attempted to dissuade Cortes from insisting on his demand, they endeavoured to conciliate his good-will by entreating him to accept of certain presents, which, as humble slaves of Montezuma, they laid at his feet. They were introduced with great parade, and consisted of fine cotton cloth, of plumes of various colours, and of ornaments of gold and silver to a considerable value, the workmanship of which appeared to be as curious as the materials were rich. The display of these produced an effect very different from what the Mexicans intended. Instead of satisfying, it increased the avidity of the Spaniards, and rendered them so eager and impatient to become masters of a country which abounded with such precious productions, that Cortes could hardly listen with patience to the arguments which Pilpatoe and Teutile employed to dissuade him from visiting the capital; and, in a haughty determined tone, he insisted on his demand of being admitted to a personal audience of their sovereign. During this interview, some painters, in the train of the Mexican chiefs, had been diligently employed in delineating, upon white cotton cloths, figures of the ships, the horses, the artillery, the soldiers, and whatever Edition: current; Page: [14] else attracted their eyes, as singular. When Cortes observed this, and was informed that these pictures were to be sent to Montezuma, in order to convey to him a more lively idea of the strange and wonderful objects now presented to their view, than any words could communicate, he resolved to render the representation still more animated and interesting, by exhibiting such a spectacle as might give both them and their monarch an awful impression of the extraordinary prowess of his followers, and the irresistible force of their arms. The trumpets, by his order, sounded an alarm; the troops, in a moment, formed in order of battle; the infantry performed such martial exercises as were best suited to display the effect of their different weapons; the horse, in various evolutions, gave a specimen of their agility and strength; the artillery, pointed towards the thick woods which surrounded the camp, were fired, and made dreadful havoc among the trees. The Mexicans looked on with that silent amazement which is natural when the mind is struck with objects, which are both awful and above its comprehension. But, at the explosion of the cannon, many of them fled, some fell to the ground, and all were so much confounded at the sight of men whose power so nearly resembled that of the gods, that Cortes found it difficult to compose and reassure them. The painters had now many new objects on which to exercise their art, and they put their fancy on the stretch, in order to invent figures and symbols to represent the extraordinary things which they had seen.

Negotiations with Montezuma.Messengers were immediately dispatched to Montezuma with those pictures, and a full account of every thing that had passed since the arrival of the Spaniards, and by them Cortes sent a present of some European curiosities to Montezuma, which, though of no great value, he believed would be acceptable on account of Edition: current; Page: [15] their novelty. The Mexican monarchs, in order to obtain early information of every occurrence in all the corners of their extensive empire, had introduced a refinement in police, unknown, at that time, in Europe. They had couriers posted at proper stations along the principal roads; and as these were trained to agility by a regular education, and relieved one another at moderate distances, they conveyed intelligence with surprising rapidity. Though the capital in which Montezuma resided was above a hundred and eighty miles from St. Juan de Ulua, Cortes’s presents were carried thither, and an answer to his demands was received in a few days. The same officers who had hitherto treated with the Spaniards were employed to deliver this answer; but as they knew how repugnant the determination of their master was to all the schemes and wishes of the Spanish commander, they would not venture to make it known until they had previously endeavoured to soothe and mollify him.His presents. For this purpose, they renewed their negotiation, by introducing a train of a hundred Indians, loaded with presents sent to him by Montezuma. The magnificence of these was such as became a great monarch, and far exceeded any idea which the Spaniards had hitherto formed of his wealth. They were placed on mats spread on the ground, in such order as shewed them to the greatest advantage. Cortes and his officers viewed, with admiration, the various manufactures of the country; cotton stuffs so fine, and of such delicate texture, as to resemble silk; pictures of animals, trees, and other natural objects, formed with feathers of different colours, disposed and mingled with such skill and elegance, as to rival the works of the pencil in truth and beauty of imitation. But what chiefly attracted their eyes, were two large plates of a circular form, one of massive gold representing the sun, the other of Edition: current; Page: [16] silver, an emblem of the moon.m These were accompanied with bracelets, collars, rings, and other trinkets of gold; and, that nothing might be wanting which could give the Spaniards a complete idea of what the country afforded, with some boxes filled with pearls, precious stones, and grains of gold unwrought, as they had been found in the mines or rivers. Cortes received all these with an appearance of profound veneration for the monarch by whom they were bestowed.Forbids Cortes to approach his capital. But when the Mexicans, presuming upon this, informed him, that their master, though he desired him to accept of what he had sent as a token of regard for that monarch whom Cortes represented, would not give his consent that foreign troops should approach nearer to his capital, or even allow them to continue longer in his dominions, the Spanish general declared, in a manner more resolute and peremptory than formerly, that he must insist on his first demand, as he could not, without dishonour, return to his own country, until he was admitted into the presence of the prince whom he was appointed to visit in the name of his sovereign. The Mexicans, astonished at seeing any man dare to oppose that will, which they were accustomed to consider as supreme and irresistible, yet afraid of precipitating their country into an open rupture with such formidable enemies, prevailed with Cortes to promise, that he would not move from his present camp, until the return of a messenger, whom they sent to Montezuma for farther instructions.n

State of the Mexican empire at that period.The firmness with which Cortes adhered to his original proposal, should naturally have brought the negotiation between him and Montezuma to a speedy issue, as it seemed to leave the Mexican monarch no choice, but either to receive him with confidence as a friend, or to oppose him openly as an enemy. The Edition: current; Page: [17] latter was what might have been expected from a haughty prince in possession of extensive power. The Mexican empire, at this period, was at a pitch of grandeur to which no society ever attained in so short a period. Though it had subsisted, according to their own traditions, only a hundred and thirty years, its dominion extended from the North to the South sea, over territories stretching, with some small interruption, above five hundred leagues from east to west, and more than two hundred from north to south, comprehending provinces not inferior in fertility, population, and opulence, to any in the torrid zone. The people were warlike and enterprising; the authority of the monarch unbounded, and his revenues considerable. If, with the forces which might have been suddenly assembled in such an empire, Montezuma had fallen upon the Spaniards while encamped on a barren unhealthy coast, unsupported by any ally, without a place of retreat, and destitute of provisions, it seems to be impossible, even with all the advantages of their superior discipline and arms, that they could have stood the shock, and they must either have perished in such an unequal contest, or have abandoned the enterprise.

Character of the monarch.As the power of Montezuma enabled him to take this spirited part, his own dispositions were such as seemed naturally to prompt him to it. Of all the princes who had swayed the Mexican sceptre, he was the most haughty, the most violent, and the most impatient of control. His subjects looked up to him with awe, and his enemies with terror. The former he governed with unexampled rigour; but they were impressed with such an opinion of his capacity, as commanded their respect; and, by many victories over the latter, he had spread far the dread of his arms, and had added several considerable provinces to his dominions. But though his talents might be suited Edition: current; Page: [18] to the transactions of a state so imperfectly polished as the Mexican empire, and sufficient to conduct them while in their accustomed course, they were altogether inadequate to a conjuncture so extraordinary, and did not qualify him either to judge with the discernment, or to act with the decision, requisite in such a trying emergence.

His perplexity and terror upon the arrival of the Spaniards.From the moment that the Spaniards appeared on his coast, he discovered symptoms of timidity and embarrassment. Instead of taking such resolutions as the consciousness of his own power, or the memory of his former exploits, might have inspired, he deliberated with an anxiety and hesitation which did not escape the notice of his meanest courtiers. The perplexity and discomposure of Montezuma’s mind upon this occasion, as well as the general dismay of his subjects, were not owing wholly to the impression which the Spaniards had made by the novelty of their appearance and the terror of their arms. Its origin may be traced up to a more remote source. There was an opinion, if we may believe the earliest and most authentic Spanish historians, almost universal among the Americans, that some dreadful calamity was impending over their heads, from a race of formidable invaders who should come from regions towards the rising sun, to overrun and desolate their country. Whether this disquieting apprehension flowed from the memory of some natural calamity which had afflicted that part of the globe, and impressed the minds of the inhabitants with superstitious fears and forebodings, or whether it was an imagination accidentally suggested by the astonishment which the first sight of a new race of men occasioned, it is impossible to determine. But as the Mexicans were more prone to superstition than any people in the New World, they were more deeply affected by the appearance of the Spaniards, whom their credulity instantly Edition: current; Page: [19] represented as the instruments destined to bring about this fatal revolution which they dreaded. Under those circumstances, it ceases to be incredible that a handful of adventurers should alarm the monarch of a great empire, and all his subjects.o

Continues to negotiate.Notwithstanding the influence of this impression, when the messenger arrived from the Spanish camp with an account that the leader of the strangers, adhering to his original demand, refused to obey the order enjoining him to leave the country, Montezuma assumed some degree of resolution; and, in a transport of rage, natural to a fierce prince unaccustomed to meet with any opposition to his will, he threatened to sacrifice those presumptuous men to his gods. But his doubts and fears quickly returned; and, instead of issuing orders to carry his threats into execution, he again called his ministers to confer and offer their advice. Feeble and temporising measures will always be the result when men assemble to deliberate in a situation where they ought to act. The Mexican counsellors took no effectual measure for expelling such troublesome intruders, and were satisfied with issuing a more positive injunction, requiring them to leave the country; but this they preposterously accompanied with a present of such value, as proved a fresh inducement to remain there.

Anxiety and apprehensions of the Spaniards.Meanwhile, the Spaniards were not without solicitude, or a variety of sentiments, in deliberating concerning their own future conduct. From what they had already seen, many of them formed such extravagant ideas concerning the opulence of the country, that, despising danger or hardships, when they had in view treasures which appeared to be inexhaustible, they were eager to attempt the conquest. Others, estimating the power of the Mexican empire by its Edition: current; Page: [20] wealth, and enumerating the various proofs which had occurred of its being under a well-regulated administration, contended, that it would be an act of the wildest frenzy to attack such a state with a small body of men, in want of provisions, unconnected with any ally, and already enfeebled by the diseases peculiar to the climate, and the loss of several of their number.p Cortes secretly applauded the advocates for bold measures, and cherished their romantic hopes, as such ideas corresponded with his own, and favoured the execution of the schemes which he had formed. From the time that the suspicions of Velasquez broke out with open violence in the attempts to deprive him of the command,Schemes of Cortes. Cortes saw the necessity of dissolving a connection which would obstruct and embarrass all his operations, and watched for a proper opportunity of coming to a final rupture with him. Having this in view, he had laboured by every art to secure the esteem and affection of his soldiers. With his abilities for command, it was easy to gain their esteem; and his followers were quickly satisfied that they might rely, with perfect confidence, on the conduct and courage of their leader. Nor was it more difficult to acquire their affection. Among adventurers, nearly of the same rank, and serving at their own expence, the dignity of command did not elevate a general above mingling with those who acted under him. Cortes availed himself of this freedom of intercourse, to insinuate himself into their favour; and by his affable manners, by well-timed acts of liberality to some, by inspiring all with vast hopes, and by allowing them to trade privately with the nativesq, he attached the greater part of his soldiers so firmly to himself, that they almost forgot that the armament had been fitted out by the authority, and at the expence, of another.

Edition: current; Page: [21]

During those intrigues, Teutile arrived with the present from Montezuma, and, together with it, delivered the ultimate order of that monarch to depart instantly out of his dominions;His address in carrying them on. and when Cortes, instead of complying, renewed his request of an audience, the Mexican turned from him abruptly, and quitted the camp with looks and gestures which strongly expressed his surprise and resentment. Next morning, none of the natives, who used to frequent the camp in great numbers, in order to barter with the soldiers, and to bring in provisions, appeared. All friendly correspondence seemed now to be at an end, and it was expected every moment that hostilities would commence. This, though an event that might have been foreseen, occasioned a sudden consternation among the Spaniards, which emboldened the adherents of Velasquez not only to murmur and cabal against their general, but to appoint one of their number to remonstrate openly against his imprudence in attempting the conquest of a mighty empire with such inadequate force, and to urge the necessity of returning to Cuba, in order to refit the fleet and augment the army. Diego de Ordaz, one of his principal officers, whom the malecontents charged with this commission, delivered it with a soldierly freedom and bluntness, assuring Cortes that he spoke the sentiments of the whole army. He listened to this remonstrance without any appearance of emotion; and as he well knew the temper and wishes of his soldiers, and foresaw how they would receive a proposition fatal at once to all the splendid hopes and schemes which they had been forming with such complacency, he carried his dissimulation so far as to seem to relinquish his own measures in compliance with the request of Ordaz, and issued orders that the army should be in readiness next day to re-embark for Cuba. As soon as this was known, the Edition: current; Page: [22] disappointed adventurers exclaimed and threatened; the emissaries of Cortes, mingling with them, inflamed their rage; the ferment became general; the whole camp was almost in open mutiny; all demanding with eagerness to see their commander. Cortes was not slow in appearing; when, with one voice, officers and soldiers expressed their astonishment and indignation at the orders which they had received. It was unworthy, they cried, of the Castilian courage, to be daunted at the first aspect of danger, and infamous to fly before any enemy appeared. For their parts, they were determined not to relinquish an enterprise, that had hitherto been successful, and which tended so visibly to spread the knowledge of true religion, and to advance the glory and interest of their country. Happy under his command, they would follow him with alacrity through every danger, in quest of those settlements and treasures which he had so long held out to their view; but, if he chose rather to return to Cuba, and tamely give up all his hopes of distinction and opulence to an envious rival, they would instantly choose another general to conduct them in that path of glory, which he had not spirit to enter.

Cortes, delighted with their ardour, took no offence at the boldness with which it was uttered. The sentiments were what he himself had inspired, and the warmth of expression satisfied him that his followers had imbibed them thoroughly. He affected, however, to be surprised at what he heard, declaring that his orders to prepare for embarking were issued from a persuasion that this was agreeable to his troops; that, from deference to what he had been informed was their inclination, he had sacrificed his own private opinion, which was firmly bent on establishing immediately a settlement on the sea coast, and then on endeavouring to penetrate into the interior part of the country; that now he was convinced of his error; and, as he Edition: current; Page: [23] perceived that they were animated with the generous spirit which breathed in every true Spaniard, he would resume, with fresh ardour, his original plan of operation, and doubted not to conduct them, in the career of victory, to such independent fortunes as their valour merited. Upon this declaration, shouts of applause testified the excess of their joy. The measure seemed to be taken with unanimous consent; such as secretly condemned it being obliged to join in the acclamations, partly to conceal their disaffection from their general, and partly to avoid the imputation of cowardice from their fellow-soldiers.r

Establishes a form of civil government.Without allowing his men time to cool or to reflect, Cortes set about carrying his design into execution. In order to give a beginning to a colony, he assembled the principal persons in his army, and by their suffrage elected a council and magistrates in whom the government was to be vested. As men naturally transplant the institutions and forms of the mother-country into their new settlements, this was framed upon the model of a Spanish corporation. The magistrates were distinguished by the same names and ensigns of office, and were to exercise a similar jurisdiction. All the persons chosen were most firmly devoted to Cortes, and the instrument of their election was framed in the king’s name, without any mention of their dependence on Velasquez. The two principles of avarice and enthusiasm, which prompted the Spaniards to all their enterprises in the New World, seem to have concurred in suggesting the name which Cortes bestowed on his infant settlement. He called it, The rich town of the true cross.s

Resigns his commission,The first meeting of the new council was distinguished by a transaction of great moment. As soon as it assembled, Cortes applied for leave to enter; Edition: current; Page: [24] and, approaching with many marks of profound respect, which added dignity to the tribunal, and set an example of reverence for its authority, he began a long harangue, in which, with much art, and in terms extremely flattering to persons just entering upon their new function, he observed, that as the supreme jurisdiction over the colony which they had planted was now vested in this court, he considered them as clothed with the authority, and representing the person of their sovereign; that, accordingly, he would communicate to them what he deemed essential to the public safety, with the same dutiful fidelity as if he were addressing his royal master; that the security of a colony settled in a great empire, whose sovereign had already discovered his hostile intentions, depended upon arms, and the efficacy of these upon the subordination and discipline preserved among the troops; that his right to command was derived from a commission granted by the governor of Cuba; and as that had been long since revoked, the lawfulness of his jurisdiction might well be questioned; that he might be thought to act upon a defective, or even a dubious title; nor could they trust an army which might dispute the powers of its general, at a juncture when it ought implicitly to obey his orders; that, moved by these considerations, he now resigned all his authority to them, that they, having both right to choose, and power to confer full jurisdiction, might appoint one in the king’s name, to command the army in its future operations; and as for his own part, such was his zeal for the service in which they were engaged, that he would most cheerfully take up a pike with the same hand that laid down the general’s truncheon, and convince his fellow-soldiers, that, though accustomed to command, he had not forgotten how to obey. Having finished his discourse, he laid the commission from Velasquez upon the table, and, after Edition: current; Page: [25] kissing his truncheon, delivered it to the chief magistrate, and withdrew.

and is chosen chief justice and captain-general.The deliberations of the council were not long, as Cortes had concerted this important measure with his confidents, and had prepared the other members with great address, for the part which he wished them to take. His resignation was accepted; and as the uninterrupted tenour of their prosperity under his conduct afforded the most satisfying evidence of his abilities for command, they, by their unanimous suffrage, elected him chief justice of the colony, and captain-general of its army, and appointed his commission to be made out in the king’s name, with most ample powers, which were to continue in force until the royal pleasure should be farther known. That this deed might not be deemed the machination of a junto, the council called together the troops, and acquainted them with what had been resolved. The soldiers, with eager applause, ratified the choice which the council had made; the air resounded with the name of Cortes, and all vowed to shed their blood in support of his authority.

Asserts his authority with vigour.Cortes, having now brought his intrigues to the desired issue, and shaken off his mortifying dependence on the governor of Cuba, accepted of the commission, which vested in him supreme jurisdiction, civil as well as military, over the colony, with many professions of respect to the council, and gratitude to the army. Together with this new command, he assumed greater dignity, and began to exercise more extensive powers. Formerly he had felt himself to be only the deputy of a subject; now he acted as the representative of his sovereign. The adherents of Velasquez, fully aware of what would be the effect of this change in the situation of Cortes, could no longer continue silent and passive spectators of his actions. They exclaimed openly against the proceedings of the Edition: current; Page: [26] council as illegal, and against those of the army as mutinous. Cortes, instantly perceiving the necessity of giving a timely check to such seditious discourse by some vigorous measure, arrested Ordaz, Escudero, and Velasquez de Leon, the ringleaders of this faction, and sent them prisoners aboard the fleet, loaded with chains. Their dependents, astonished and overawed, remained quiet; and Cortes, more desirous to reclaim than to punish his prisoners, who were officers of great merit, courted their friendship with such assiduity and address, that the reconciliation was perfectly cordial; and, on the most trying occasions, neither their connection with the governor of Cuba, nor the memory of the indignity with which they had been treated, tempted them to swerve from an inviolable attachment to his interest.t In this, as well as his other negotiations, at this critical conjuncture, which decided with respect to his future fame and fortune, Cortes owed much of his success to the Mexican gold, which he distributed with a liberal hand both among his friends and his opponents.u

His friendship courted by the Zempoallans.Cortes, having thus rendered the union between himself and his army indissoluble, by engaging it to join him in disclaiming any dependence on the governor of Cuba, and in repeated acts of disobedience to his authority, thought he might now venture to quit the camp in which he had hitherto remained, and advance into the country. To this he was encouraged by an event no less fortunate than seasonable. Some Indians having approached his camp in a mysterious manner, were introduced into his presence. He found that they were sent with a proffer of friendship from the cazique of Zempoalla, a considerable town at no great distance; and from their answers to a variety of questions which he put to them, according to his Edition: current; Page: [27] usual practice in every interview with the people of the country, he gathered, that their master, though subject to the Mexican empire, was impatient of the yoke, and filled with such dread and hatred of Montezuma, that nothing could be more acceptable to him than any prospect of deliverance from the oppression under which he groaned. On hearing this, a ray of light and hope broke in upon the mind of Cortes. He saw that the great empire which he intended to attack was neither perfectly united, nor its sovereign universally beloved. He concluded, that the causes of disaffection could not be confined to one province, but that in other corners there must be malecontents, so weary of subjection, or so desirous of change, as to be ready to follow the standard of any protector. Full of those ideas, on which he began to form a scheme, that time, and more perfect information concerning the state of the country, enabled him to mature, he gave a most gracious reception to the Zempoallans, and promised soon to visit their cazique.x

Marches to Zempoalla.In order to perform this promise, it was not necessary to vary the route which he had already fixed for his march. Some officers, whom he had employed to survey the coast, having discovered a village named Quiabislan, about forty miles to the northward, which, both on account of the fertility of the soil, and commodiousness of the harbour, seemed to be a more proper station for a settlement than that where he was encamped, Cortes determined to remove thither. Zempoalla lay in his way, where the cazique received him in the manner which he had reason to expect; with gifts and caresses, like a man solicitous to gain his good will; with respect approaching almost to adoration, like one who looked up to him as a deliverer. From him he learned many particulars with respect to the character of Montezuma, and the circumstances Edition: current; Page: [28] which rendered his dominion odious. He was a tyrant, as the cazique told him with tears, haughty, cruel, and suspicious; who treated his own subjects with arrogance, ruined the conquered provinces by excessive exactions, and often tore their sons and daughters from them by violence, the former to be offered as victims to his gods; the latter, to be reserved as concubines for himself or favourites. Cortes, in reply to him, artfully insinuated, that one great object of the Spaniards in visiting a country so remote from their own, was to redress grievances, and to relieve the oppressed; and having encouraged him to hope for this interposition in due time, he continued his march to Quiabislan.

Builds a fort.The spot which his officers had recommended as a proper situation, appeared to him to be so well chosen, that he immediately marked out ground for a town. The houses to be erected were only huts; but these were to be surrounded with fortifications, of sufficient strength to resist the assaults of an Indian army. As the finishing of those fortifications was essential to the existence of a colony, and of no less importance in prosecuting the designs which the leader and his followers meditated, both in order to secure a place of retreat, and to preserve their communication with the sea, every man in the army, officers as well as soldiers, put his hand to the work, Cortes himself setting them an example of activity and perseverance in labour. The Indians of Zempoalla and Quiabislan lent their aid; and this petty station, the parent of so many mighty settlements, was soon in a state of defence.y

Concludes a formal alliance with several caziques.While engaged in this necessary work, Cortes had several interviews with the caziques of Zempoalla and Quiabislan; and availing himself of their wonder and astonishment at the new objects which they daily beheld, Edition: current; Page: [29] he gradually inspired them with such a high opinion of the Spaniards, as beings of a superior order, and irresistible in arms, that, relying on their protection, they ventured to insult the Mexican power, at the very name of which they were accustomed to tremble. Some of Montezuma’s officers having appeared to levy the usual tribute, and to demand a certain number of human victims, as an expiation for their guilt in presuming to hold intercourse with those strangers whom the emperor had commanded to leave his dominions, instead of obeying the order, the caziques made them prisoners, treated them with great indignity, and, as their superstition was no less barbarous than that of the Mexicans, they prepared to sacrifice them to their gods. From this last danger they were delivered by the interposition of Cortes, who manifested the utmost horror at the mention of such a deed. The two caziques having now been pushed to an act of such open rebellion, as left them no hope of safety but in attaching themselves inviolably to the Spaniards, they soon completed their union with them, by formally acknowledging themselves to be vassals of the same monarch. Their example was followed by the Totonaques, a fierce people who inhabited the mountainous part of the country. They willingly subjected themselves to the crown of Castile, and offered to accompany Cortes, with all their forces, in his march towards Mexico.z

His measures to procure a confirmation of his authority by the king.Cortes had now been above three months in New Spain; and though this period had not been distinguished by martial exploits, every moment had been employed in operations, which, though less splendid, were more important. By his address in conducting his intrigues with his own army, as well as his sagacity in carrying on his negotiations with Edition: current; Page: [30] the natives, he had already laid the foundations of his future success. But, whatever confidence he might place in the plan which he had formed, he could not but perceive that as his title to command was derived from a doubtful authority, he held it by a precarious tenure. The injuries which Velasquez had received were such as would naturally prompt him to apply for redress to their common sovereign; and such a representation, he foresaw, might be given of his conduct, that he had reason to apprehend, not only that he might be degraded from his present rank, but subjected to punishment. Before he began his march, it was necessary to take the most effectual precautions against this impending danger. With this view he persuaded the magistrates of the colony at Vera Cruz to address a letter to the king, the chief object of which was to justify their own conduct in establishing a colony independent on the jurisdiction of Velasquez. In order to accomplish this, they endeavoured to detract from his merit, in fitting out the two former armaments under Cordova and Grijalva, affirming that these had been equipped by the adventurers who engaged in the expeditions, and not by the governor. They contended that the sole object of Velasquez was to trade or barter with the natives, not to attempt the conquest of New Spain, or to settle a colony there. They asserted that Cortes and the officers who served under him had defrayed the greater part of the expence in fitting out the armament. On this account, they humbly requested their sovereign to ratify what they had done in his name, and to confirm Cortes in the supreme command by his royal commission. That Charles might be induced to grant more readily what they demanded, they give him a pompous description of the country which they had discovered; of its riches, the number of its inhabitants, their civilization and arts; they relate the progress Edition: current; Page: [31] which they had already made in annexing some parts of the country, situated on the sea-coast, to the crown of Castile: and mention the schemes which they had formed, as well as the hopes which they entertained, of reducing the whole to subjection.a Cortes himself wrote in a similar strain; and, as he knew that the Spanish court, accustomed to the exaggerated representations of every new country by its discoverers, would give little credit to their splendid accounts of New Spain, if these were not accompanied with such a specimen of what it contained, as would excite a high idea of its opulence, he solicited his soldiers to relinquish what they might claim as their part of the treasures which had hitherto been collected, in order that the whole might be sent to the king. Such was the ascendant which he had acquired over their minds, and such their own romantic expectations of future wealth, that an army of indigent and rapacious adventurers was capable of this generous effort, and offered to their sovereign the richest present that had hitherto been transmitted from the New World.b Portocarrero and Montejo, the chief magistrates of the colony, were appointed to carry this present to Castile, with express orders not to touch at Cuba in their passage thither.c

A conspiracy against Cortes.While a vessel was preparing for their departure, an unexpected event occasioned a general alarm. Edition: current; Page: [32] Some soldiers and sailors, secretly attached to Velasquez, or intimidated at the prospect of the dangers unavoidable in attempting to penetrate into the heart of a great empire with such unequal force, formed the design of seizing one of the brigantines, and making their escape to Cuba, in order to give the governor such intelligence as might enable him to intercept the ship which was to carry the treasure and dispatches to Spain. This conspiracy, though formed by persons of low rank, was conducted with profound secrecy; but at the moment when every thing was ready for execution, they were betrayed by one of their associates.

He destroys his fleet.Though the good fortune of Cortes interposed so seasonably on this occasion, the detection of this conspiracy filled his mind with most disquieting apprehensions, and prompted him to execute a scheme which he had long revolved. He perceived that the spirit of disaffection still lurked among his troops; that, though hitherto checked by the uniform success of his schemes, or suppressed by the hand of authority, various events might occur which would encourage and call it forth. He observed, that many of his men, weary of the fatigue of service, longed to revisit their settlements in Cuba; and that, upon any appearance of extraordinary danger, or any reverse of fortune, it would be impossible to restrain them from returning thither. He was sensible that his forces, already too feeble, could bear no diminution, and that a very small defection of his followers would oblige him to abandon the enterprise. After ruminating often, and with much solicitude, upon those particulars, he saw no hope of success but in cutting off all possibility of retreat, and in reducing his men to the necessity of adopting the same resolution with which he himself was animated, either to conquer or to perish. With this view, he determined to destroy Edition: current; Page: [33] his fleet; but as he durst not venture to execute such a bold resolution by his single authority, he laboured to bring his soldiers to adopt his ideas with respect to the propriety of this measure. His address in accomplishing this was not inferior to the arduous occasion in which it was employed. He persuaded some that the ships had suffered so much by having been long at sea, as to be altogether unfit for service; to others he pointed out what a seasonable reinforcement of strength they would derive from the junction of a hundred men, now unprofitably employed as sailors; and to all he represented the necessity of fixing their eyes and wishes upon what was before them, without allowing the idea of a retreat once to enter their thoughts. With universal consent the ships were drawn ashore, and, after stripping them of their sails, rigging, iron works, and whatever else might be of use, they were broke in pieces. Thus, from an effort of magnanimity, to which there is nothing parallel in history, five hundred men voluntarily consented to be shut up in an hostile country, filled with powerful and unknown nations, and, having precluded every means of escape, left themselves without any resource but their own valour and perseverance.d

Nothing now retarded Cortes; the alacrity of his troops and the disposition of his allies were equally favourable. All the advantages, however, derived from the latter, though procured by much assiduity and address, were well nigh lost in a moment, by an indiscreet sally of religious zeal, which, on many occasions, precipitated Cortes into actions inconsistent with the prudence that distinguishes his character. Though hitherto he had neither time nor opportunity to explain to the natives the errors of their own superstition, Edition: current; Page: [34] or to instruct them in the principles of the Christian faith, he commanded his soldiers to overturn the altars and to destroy the idols in the chief temple of Zempoalla, and in their place to erect a crucifix and an image of the Virgin Mary. The people beheld this with astonishment and horror; the priests excited them to arms; but such was the authority of Cortes, and so great the ascendant which the Spaniards had acquired, that the commotion was appeased without bloodshed, and concord perfectly re-established.e

Advances into the country.Cortes began his march from Zempoalla on the sixteenth of August, with five hundred men, fifteen horse, and six field-pieces. The rest of his troops, consisting chiefly of such as, from age or infirmity, were less fit for active service, he left as a garrison in Villa Rica, under the command of Escalante, an officer of merit, and warmly attached to his interest. The cazique of Zempoalla supplied him with provisions, and with two hundred of those Indians called tamemes, whose office, in a country where tame animals were unknown, was to carry burdens, and to perform all servile labour. They were a great relief to the Spanish soldiers, who hitherto had been obliged, not only to carry their own baggage, but to drag along the artillery by main force. He offered likewise a considerable body of his troops, but Cortes was satisfied with four hundred; taking care, however, to choose persons of such note as might prove hostages for the fidelity of their master. Nothing memorable happened in his progress, until he arrived on the confines of Tlascala. The inhabitants of that province, a warlike people, were implacable enemies of the Mexicans, and had been united in an ancient alliance with the caziques of Zempoalla. Though less civilized than the subjects of Montezuma, they were advanced in improvement far beyond the rude Edition: current; Page: [35] nations of America, whose manners we have described. They had made considerable progress in agriculture; they dwelt in large towns; they were not strangers to some species of commerce; and in the imperfect accounts of their institutions and laws, transmitted to us by the early Spanish writers, we discern traces both of distributive justice and of criminal jurisdiction, in their interior police. But still, as the degree of their civilization was incomplete, and as they depended for subsistence not on agriculture alone, but trusted for it in a great measure to hunting, they retained many of the qualities natural to men in this state. Like them they were fierce and revengeful; like them, too, they were high-spirited and independent. In consequence of the former, they were involved in perpetual hostilities, and had but a slender and occasional intercourse with neighbouring states. The latter inspired them with such detestation of servitude, that they not only refused to stoop to a foreign yoke, and maintained an obstinate and successful contest in defence of their liberty against the superior power of the Mexican empire, but they guarded, with equal solicitude, against domestic tyranny; and, disdaining to acknowledge any master, they lived under the mild and limited jurisdiction of a council elected by their several tribes.

His war with the Tlascalans.Cortes, though he had received information concerning the martial character of this people, flattered himself that his professions of delivering the oppressed from the tyranny of Montezuma, their inveterate enmity to the Mexicans, and the example of their ancient allies the Zempoallans, might induce the Tlascalans to grant him a friendly reception. In order to dispose them to this, four Zempoallans of great eminence were sent ambassadors, to request, in his name, and in that of their cazique, that they would permit the Spaniards to pass through the territories of the Edition: current; Page: [36] republic in their way to Mexico. But, instead of the favourable answer which was expected, the Tlascalans seized the ambassadors, and, without any regard to their public character, made preparations for sacrificing them to their gods. At the same time they assembled their troops, in order to oppose those unknown invaders, if they should attempt to make their passage good by force of arms. Various motives concurred in precipitating the Tlascalans into this resolution. A fierce people, shut up within its own narrow precincts, and little accustomed to any intercourse with foreigners, is apt to consider every stranger as an enemy, and is easily excited to arms. They concluded, from Cortes’s proposal of visiting Montezuma in his capital, that, notwithstanding all his professions, he courted the friendship of a monarch whom they both hated and feared. The imprudent zeal of Cortes, in violating the temples in Zempoalla, filled the Tlascalans with horror; and, as they were no less attached to their superstition than the other nations of New Spain, they were impatient to avenge their injured gods, and to acquire the merit of offering up to them as victims those impious men who had dared to profane their altars; they contemned the small number of the Spaniards, as they had not yet measured their own strength with that of those new enemies, and had no idea of the superiority which they derived from their arms and discipline.

August 30.Cortes, after waiting some days, in vain, for the return of his ambassadors, advanced into the Tlascalan territories.Success of it. As the resolutions of people who delight in war are executed with no less promptitude than they are formed, he found troops in the field ready to oppose him. They attacked him with great intrepidity, and, in the first encounter, wounded some of the Spaniards, and killed two horses; a loss, in their situation, of great moment, because it was irreparable. Edition: current; Page: [37] From this specimen of their courage, Cortes saw the necessity of proceeding with caution. His army marched in close order; he chose the stations where he halted with attention, and fortified every camp with extraordinary care. During fourteen days he was exposed to almost uninterrupted assaults, the Tlascalans advancing with numerous armies, and renewing the attack in various forms, with a degree of valour and perseverance to which the Spaniards had seen nothing parallel in the New World. The Spanish historians describe those successive battles with great pomp, and enter into a minute detail of particulars, mingling many exaggerated and incredible circumstancesf, with such as are real and marvellous. But no power of words can render the recital of a combat interesting, where there is no equality of danger; and when the narrative closes with an account of thousands slain on the one side, while not a single person falls on the other, the most laboured descriptions of the previous disposition of the troops, or of the various vicissitudes in the engagement, command no attention.

Some singular circumstances in it.There are some circumstances, however, in this war, which are memorable, and merit notice, as they throw light upon the character both of the people of New Spain, and of their conquerors. Though the Tlascalans brought into the field such numerous armies as appear sufficient to have overwhelmed the Spaniards, they were never able to make any impression upon their small battalion. Singular as this may seem, it is not inexplicable. The Tlascalans, though addicted to war, were, like all unpolished nations, strangers to military order and discipline, and lost in a great measure the advantage which they might have derived from their numbers, and the impetuosity of their attack, by their constant solicitude to carry off Edition: current; Page: [38] the dead and wounded. This point of honour, founded on a sentiment of tenderness natural to the human mind, and strengthened by anxiety to preserve the bodies of their countrymen from being devoured by their enemies, was universal among the people of New Spain. Attention to this pious office occupied them even during the heat of combatg, broke their union, and diminished the force of the impression which they might have made by a joint effort.

Not only was their superiority in number of little avail, but the imperfection of their military weapons rendered their valour in a great measure inoffensive. After three battles, and many skirmishes and assaults, not one Spaniard was killed in the field. Arrows and spears, headed with flint or the bones of fishes, stakes hardened in the fire, and wooden swords, though destructive weapons among naked Indians, were easily turned aside by the Spanish bucklers, and could hardly penetrate the escaupiles, or quilted jackets, which the soldiers wore. The Tlascalans advanced boldly to the charge, and often fought hand to hand. Many of the Spaniards were wounded, though all slightly, which cannot be imputed to any want of courage or strength in their enemies, but to the defect of the arms with which they assailed them.

Notwithstanding the fury with which the Tlascalans attacked the Spaniards, they seem to have conducted their hostilities with some degree of barbarous generosity. They gave the Spaniards warning of their hostile intentions; and as they knew that their invaders wanted provisions, and imagined, perhaps, like the other Americans, that they had left their own country because it did not afford them subsistence, they sent to their camp a large supply of poultry and maize, desiring them to eat plentifully, Edition: current; Page: [39] because they scorned to attack an enemy enfeebled by hunger, and it would be an affront to their gods to offer them famished victims, as well as disagreeable to themselves to feed on such emaciated prey.h

When they were taught by the first encounter with their new enemies, that it was not easy to execute this threat; when they perceived, in the subsequent engagements, that, notwithstanding all the efforts of their own valour, of which they had a very high opinion, not one of the Spaniards was slain or taken, they began to conceive them to be a superior order of beings, against whom human power could not avail. In this extremity, they had recourse to their priests, requiring them to reveal the mysterious causes of such extraordinary events, and to declare what new means they should employ in order to repulse those formidable invaders. The priests, after many sacrifices and incantations, delivered this response: That these strangers were the offspring of the sun, procreated by his animating energy in the regions of the east; that, by day, while cherished with the influence of his parental beams, they were invincible; but by night, when his reviving heat was withdrawn, their vigour declined, and faded like the herbs in the field, and they dwindled down into mortal men.i Theories less plausible have gained credit with more enlightened nations, and have influenced their conduct. In consequence of this, the Tlascalans, with the implicit confidence of men who fancy themselves to be under the guidance of heaven, acted in contradiction to one of their most established maxims in war, and ventured to attack the enemy, with a strong body, in the night-time, in hopes of destroying them when enfeebled and surprised. But Cortes had greater vigilance and discernment than to be deceived by the Edition: current; Page: [40] rude stratagems of an Indian army. The sentinels at his out-posts, observing some extraordinary movement among the Tlascalans, gave the alarm. In a moment the troops were under arms, and, sallying out, dispersed the party with great slaughter, without allowing it to approach the camp. The Tlascalans, convinced by sad experience that their priests had deluded them, and satisfied that they attempted in vain, either to deceive or to vanquish their enemies, their fierceness abated, and they began to incline seriously to peace.

The Tlascalans disposed to peace.They were at a loss, however, in what manner to address the strangers, what idea to form of their character, and whether to consider them as beings of a gentle or of a malevolent nature. There were circumstances in their conduct which seemed to favour each opinion. On the one hand, as the Spaniards constantly dismissed the prisoners whom they took, not only without injury, but often with presents of European toys, and renewed their offers of peace after every victory; this lenity amazed people, who, according to the exterminating system of war known in America, were accustomed to sacrifice and devour without mercy all the captives taken in battle, and disposed them to entertain favourable sentiments of the humanity of their new enemies. But, on the other hand, as Cortes had seized fifty of their countrymen who brought provisions to his camp, and, supposing them to be spies, had cut off their handsk; this bloody spectacle, added to the terror occasioned by the fire-arms and horses, filled them with dreadful impressions of the ferocity of their invaders.l This uncertainty was apparent in their mode of addressing the Spaniards. “If,” said they, “you are divinities of a cruel and savage nature, we present to you five Edition: current; Page: [41] slaves, that you may drink their blood and eat their flesh. If you are mild deities, accept an offering of incense and variegated plumes. If you are men, here is meat, and bread, and fruit to nourish you.”mConcluded. The peace which both parties now desired with equal ardour, was soon concluded. The Tlascalans yielded themselves as vassals to the crown of Castile, and engaged to assist Cortes in all his future operations. He took the republic under his protection, and promised to defend their persons and possessions from injury or violence.

Advantages of it to the Spaniards.This treaty was concluded at a seasonable juncture for the Spaniards. The fatigue of service among a small body of men, surrounded by such a multitude of enemies was incredible. Half the army was on duty every night, and even they whose turn it was to rest, slept always upon their arms, that they might be ready to run to their posts on a moment’s warning. Many of them were wounded, a good number, and among these Cortes himself, laboured under the distempers prevalent in hot climates, and several had died since they set out from Vera Cruz. Notwithstanding the supplies which they received from the Tlascalans, they were often in want of provisions, and so destitute of the necessaries most requisite in dangerous service, that they had no salve to dress their wounds, but what was composed with the fat of the Indians, whom they had slain.n Worn out with such intolerable toil and hardships, many of the soldiers began to murmur, and, when they reflected on the multitude and boldness of their enemies, more were ready to despair. It required the utmost exertion of Cortes’s authority and address to check this spirit of despondency in its progress, and to reanimate his followers with their wonted sense of their own superiority over the enemies with whom Edition: current; Page: [42] they had to contend.o The submission of the Tlascalans, and their own triumphant entry into the capital city, where they were received with the reverence paid to beings of a superior order, banished, at once, from the minds of the Spaniards, all memory of past sufferings, dispelled every anxious thought with respect to their future operations, and fully satisfied them that there was not now any power in America able to withstand their arms.p

Cortes solicitous to gain their confidence;Cortes remained twenty days in Tlascala, in order to allow his troops a short interval of repose after such hard service. During that time he was employed in transactions and enquiries of great moment with respect to his future schemes. In his daily conferences with the Tlascalan chiefs, he received information concerning every particular relative to the state of the Mexican empire, or to the qualities of its sovereign, which could be of use in regulating his conduct, whether he should be obliged to act as a friend or as an enemy. As he found that the antipathy of his new allies to the Mexican nation was no less implacable than had been represented, and perceived what benefit he might derive from the aid of such powerful confederates, he employed all his powers of insinuation in order to gain their confidence. Nor was any extraordinary exertion of these necessary. The Tlascalans, with the levity of mind natural to unpolished men, were, of their own accord, disposed to run from the extreme of hatred to that of fondness. Every thing in the appearance and conduct of their guests, was to them matter of wonder.q They gazed with admiration at whatever the Spaniards did, and, fancying them to be of heavenly origin, were eager not only to comply with their demands, but to anticipate their wishes. Edition: current; Page: [43] They offered, accordingly, to accompany Cortes in his march to Mexico, with all the forces of the republic, under the command of their most experienced captains.

which he had almost lost by his rash zeal.But, after bestowing so much pains on cementing this union, all the beneficial fruits of it were on the point of being lost, by a new effusion of that intemperate religious zeal with which Cortes was animated, no less than the other adventurers of the age. They all considered themselves as instruments employed by heaven to propagate the Christian faith, and the less they were qualified, either by their knowledge or morals, for such a function, they were more eager to discharge it. The profound veneration of the Tlascalans for the Spaniards, having encouraged Cortes to explain to some of their chiefs the doctrines of the Christian religion, and to insist that they should abandon their own superstitions, and embrace the faith of their new friends, they, according to an idea universal among barbarous nations, readily acknowledged the truth and excellence of what he taught; but contended, that the Teules of Tlascala were divinities no less than the God in whom the Spaniards believed; and as that being was entitled to the homage of Europeans, so they were bound to revere the same powers which their ancestors had worshipped. Cortes continued, nevertheless, to urge his demand in a tone of authority, mingling threats with his arguments, until the Tlascalans could bear it no longer, and conjured him never to mention this again, lest the gods should avenge on their heads the guilt of having listened to such a proposition. Cortes, astonished and enraged at their obstinacy, prepared to execute by force, what he could not accomplish by persuasion, and was going to overturn their altars and cast down their idols with the same violent hand as at Zempoalla, if father Bartholomew de Olmedo, chaplain to the expedition, had not checked his inconsiderate impetuosity. He represented Edition: current; Page: [44] the imprudence of such an attempt in a large city newly reconciled, and filled with people no less superstitious than warlike; he declared, that the proceeding at Zempoalla had always appeared to him precipitate and unjust; that religion was not to be propagated by the sword, or infidels to be converted by violence; that other weapons were to be employed in this ministry; patient instruction must enlighten the understanding, and pious example captivate the heart, before men could be induced to abandon error, and embrace the truth.r Amidst scenes, where a narrow-minded bigotry appears in such close union with oppression and cruelty, sentiments so liberal and humane soothe the mind with unexpected pleasure; and at a time when the rights of conscience were little understood in the Christian world, and the idea of toleration unknown, one is astonished to find a Spanish monk of the sixteenth century among the first advocates against persecution, and in behalf of religious liberty. The remonstrances of an ecclesiastic, no less respectable for wisdom than virtue, had their proper weight with Cortes. He left the Tlascalans in the undisturbed exercise of their own rites, requiring only that they should desist from their horrid practice of offering human victims in sacrifice.

Advances to Cholula.Cortes, as soon as his troops were fit for service, resolved to continue his march towards Mexico, notwithstanding the earnest dissuasives of the Tlascalans, who represented his destruction as unavoidable, if he put himself in the power of a prince so faithless and cruel as Montezuma. As he was accompanied by six thousand Tlascalans, he had now the command of forces which resembled a regular army.October 13. They directed their course towards Cholula; Montezuma, who had at length consented to admit the Spaniards into his presence, having informed Cortes, that he had Edition: current; Page: [45] given orders for his friendly reception there. Cholula was a considerable town, and, though only five leagues distant from Tlascala, was formerly an independent state, but had been lately subjected to the Mexican empire. This was considered by all the people of New Spain as a holy place, the sanctuary and chief seat of their gods, to which pilgrims resorted from every province, and a greater number of human victims were offered in its principal temple than even in that of Mexico.s Montezuma seems to have invited the Spaniards thither, either from some superstitious hope that the gods would not suffer this sacred mansion to be defiled, without pouring down their wrath upon those impious strangers, who ventured to insult their power in the place of its peculiar residence; or from a belief that he himself might there attempt to cut them off with more certain success, under the immediate protection of his divinities.

The severity of his procedure there.Cortes had been warned by the Tlascalans, before he set out on his march, to keep a watchful eye over the Cholulans. He himself, though received into the town with much seeming respect and cordiality, observed several circumstances in their conduct which excited suspicion. Two of the Tlascalans, who were encamped at some distance from the town, as the Cholulans refused to admit their ancient enemies within its precincts, having found means to enter in disguise, acquainted Cortes, that they observed the women and children of the principal citizens retiring in great hurry every night; and that six children had been sacrificed in the chief temple, a rite which indicated the execution of some warlike enterprise to be approaching. At the same time, Marina the interpreter received information from an Indian woman of distinction, whose confidence she had gained, that the Edition: current; Page: [46] destruction of her friends was concerted; that a body of Mexican troops lay concealed near the town; that some of the streets were barricaded, and in others pits or deep trenches were dug, and slightly covered over, as traps into which the horses might fall; that stones or missive weapons were collected on the tops of the temples, with which to overwhelm the infantry; that the fatal hour was now at hand, and their ruin unavoidable. Cortes, alarmed at this concurring evidence, secretly arrested three of the chief priests, and extorted from them a confession, that confirmed the intelligence which he had received. As not a moment was to be lost, he instantly resolved to prevent his enemies, and to inflict on them such dreadful vengeance as might strike Montezuma and his subjects with terror. For this purpose, the Spaniards and Zempoallans were drawn up in a large court, which had been allotted for their quarters near the centre of the town; the Tlascalans had orders to advance; the magistrates, and several of the chief citizens were sent for, under various pretexts, and seized. On a signal given, the troops rushed out, and fell upon the multitude, destitute of leaders, and so much astonished, that the weapons dropping from their hands, they stood motionless, and incapable of defence. While the Spaniards pressed them in front, the Tlascalans attacked them in the rear. The streets were filled with bloodshed and death. The temples, which afforded a retreat to the priests and some of the leading men, were set on fire, and they perished in the flames. This scene of horror continued two days; during which, the wretched inhabitants suffered all that the destructive rage of the Spaniards or the implacable revenge of their Indian allies could inflict. At length the carnage ceased, after the slaughter of six thousand Cholulans, without the loss of a single Spaniard. Cortes then released the magistrates, and, reproaching Edition: current; Page: [47] them bitterly for their intended treachery, declared, that as justice was now appeased, he forgave the offence, but required them to recall the citizens who had fled, and re-establish order in the town. Such was the ascendant which the Spaniards had acquired over this superstitious race of men, and so deeply were they impressed with an opinion of their superior discernment, as well as power, that, in obedience to this command, the city was in a few days filled again with people, who, amidst the ruins of their sacred buildings, yielded respectful service to men whose hands were stained with the blood of their relations and fellow-citizens.t

October 29.From Cholula, Cortes advanced directly towards Mexico, which was only twenty leagues distant.Advances towards Mexico. In every place through which he passed, he was received as a person possessed of sufficient power to deliver the empire from the oppression under which it groaned; and the caziques or governors communicated to him all the grievances which they felt under the tyrannical government of Montezuma, with that unreserved confidence which men naturally repose in superior beings. When Cortes first observed the seeds of discontent in the remote provinces of the empire, hope dawned upon his mind; but when he now discovered such symptoms of alienation from their monarch near the seat of government, he concluded that the vital parts of the constitution were affected, and conceived the most sanguine expectations of overturning a state, whose natural strength was thus divided and impaired. While those reflections encouraged the general to persist in his arduous undertaking, the soldiers were no less animated by observations more obvious to their capacity. In descending from the mountains of Chalco, across which the road lay, the vast plain of Mexico opened gradually to their Edition: current; Page: [48] view. When they first beheld this prospect, one of the most striking and beautiful on the face of the earth;First view of it. when they observed fertile and cultivated fields, stretching farther than the eye could reach; when they saw a lake resembling the sea in extent, encompassed with large towns, and discovered the capital city rising upon an island in the middle, adorned with its temples and turrets; the scene so far exceeded their imagination, that some believed the fanciful descriptions of romance were realized, and that its enchanted palaces and gilded domes were presented to their sight; others could hardly persuade themselves that this wonderful spectacle was any thing more than a dream.u As they advanced, their doubts were removed, but their amazement increased. They were now fully satisfied that the country was rich beyond any conception which they had formed of it, and flattered themselves that at length they should obtain an ample recompense for all their services and sufferings.

The irresolution of Montezuma.Hitherto they had met with no enemy to oppose their progress, though several circumstances occurred which led them to suspect that some design was formed to surprise and cut them off. Many messengers arrived successively from Montezuma, permitting them one day to advance, requiring them on the next to retire, as his hopes or fears alternately prevailed; and so wonderful was this infatuation, which seems to be unaccountable on any supposition but that of a superstitious dread of the Spaniards, as beings of a superior nature, that Cortes was almost at the gates of the capital, before the monarch had determined whether to receive him as a friend, or to oppose him as an enemy. But, as no sign of open hostility appeared, the Spaniards, without regarding the fluctuations of Montezuma’s sentiments, continued their Edition: current; Page: [49] march along the causeway which led to Mexico through the lake, with great circumspection and the strictest discipline, though without seeming to suspect the prince whom they were about to visit.

His first interview with the Spaniards.When they drew near the city, about a thousand persons, who appeared to be of distinction, came forth to meet them, adorned with plumes, and clad in mantles of fine cotton. Each of these, in his order, passed by Cortes, and saluted him according to the mode deemed most respectful and submissive in their country. They announced the approach of Montezuma himself, and soon after his harbingers came in sight. There appeared first two hundred persons in an uniform dress, with large plumes of feathers, alike in fashion, marching two and two, in deep silence, barefooted, with their eyes fixed on the ground. These were followed by a company of higher rank, in their most showy apparel, in the midst of whom was Montezuma, in a chair or litter richly ornamented with gold, and feathers of various colours. Four of his principal favourites carried him on their shoulders, others supported a canopy of curious workmanship over his head. Before him marched three officers with rods of gold in their hands, which they lifted up on high at certain intervals, and, at that signal, all the people bowed their heads, and hid their faces, as unworthy to look on so great a monarch. When he drew near, Cortes dismounted, advancing towards him with officious haste, and in a respectful posture. At the same time Montezuma alighted from his chair, and, leaning on the arms of two of his near relations, approached with a slow and stately pace, his attendants covering the street with cotton cloths, that he might not touch the ground. Cortes accosted him with profound reverence, after the European fashion. He returned the salutation, according to the mode of his country, by touching the earth with his hand, and Edition: current; Page: [50] then kissing it. This ceremony, the customary expression of veneration from inferiors towards those who were above them in rank, appeared such amazing condescension in a proud monarch, who scarcely deigned to consider the rest of mankind as of the same species with himself, that all his subjects firmly believed those persons, before whom he humbled himself in this manner, to be something more than human. Accordingly, as they marched through the crowd, the Spaniards frequently, and with much satisfaction, heard themselves denominated teules, or divinities. Nothing material passed in this first interview. Montezuma conducted Cortes to the quarters which he had prepared for his reception, and immediately took leave of him, with a politeness not unworthy of a court more refined. “You are now,” says he, “with your brothers in your own house; refresh yourselves after your fatigue, and be happy until I return.x” The place allotted to the Spaniards for their lodging was a house built by the father of Montezuma. It was surrounded by a stone wall, with towers at proper distances, which served for defence as well as for ornament, and its apartment and courts were so large, as to accommodate both the Spaniards and their Indian allies. The first care of Cortes was to take precautions for his security, by planting the artillery so as to command the different avenues which led to it, by appointing a large division of his troops to be always on guard, and by posting sentinels at proper stations, with injunctions to observe the same vigilant discipline as if they were within sight of an enemy’s camp.

His idea of the Spaniards.In the evening, Montezuma returned to visit his guests with the same pomp as in their first interview, and brought presents of such value, not only to Cortes Edition: current; Page: [51] and to his officers, but even to the private men, as proved the liberality of the monarch to be suitable to the opulence of his kingdom. A long conference ensued, in which Cortes learned what was the opinion of Montezuma with respect to the Spaniards. It was an established tradition, he told him, among the Mexicans, that their ancestors came originally from a remote region, and conquered the provinces now subject to his dominion; that after they were settled there, the great captain who conducted this colony returned to his own country, promising, that, at some future period, his descendants should visit them, assume the government, and reform their constitution and laws; that, from what he had heard and seen of Cortes and his followers, he was convinced that they were the very persons whose appearance the Mexican traditions and prophecies taught them to expect; that accordingly he had received them, not as strangers, but as relations of the same blood and parentage, and desired that they might consider themselves as masters in his dominions, for both himself and his subjects should be ready to comply with their will, and even to prevent their wishes. Cortes made a reply in his usual style, with respect to the dignity and power of his sovereign, and his intention in sending him into that country; artfully endeavouring so to frame his discourse, that it might coincide as much as possible with the idea which Montezuma had formed concerning the origin of the Spaniards. Next morning, Cortes and some of his principal attendants were admitted to a public audience with the emperor. The three subsequent days were employed in viewing the city; the appearance of which, so far superior in the order of its buildings and the number of its inhabitants to any place the Spaniards had beheld in America, and yet so little resembling the structure Edition: current; Page: [52] of an European city, filled them with surprise and admiration.

Mexico, or Tenuchtitlan, as it was anciently called by the natives, is situated in a large plain, environed by mountains of such height, that, though within the torrid zone, the temperature of its climate is mild and healthful. All the moisture which descends from the high grounds is collected in several lakes, the two largest of which, of about ninety miles in circuit, communicate with each other. The waters of the one are fresh, those of the other brackish. On the banks of the latter, and on some small islands adjoining to them, the capital of Montezuma’s empire was built. The access to the city was by artificial causeways, or streets, formed of stones and earth, about thirty feet in breadth. As the waters of the lake during the rainy season overflowed the flat country, these causeways were of considerable length. That of Tacuba, on the west, extended a mile and a half; that of Tepeacay, on the north-west, three miles; that of Cuoyacan, towards the south, six miles. On the east there was no causeway, and the city could be approached only by canoes.z In each of these causeways were openings at proper intervals, through which the waters flowed, and over these beams of timber were laid, which being covered with earth, the causeway or street had every where an uniform appearance. As the approaches to the city were singular, its construction was remarkable. Not only the temples of their gods, but the houses belonging to the monarch, and to persons of distinction, were of such Edition: current; Page: [53] dimensions, that, in comparison with any other buildings which had been hitherto discovered in America, they might be termed magnificent. The habitations of the common people were mean, resembling the huts of other Indians. But they were all placed in a regular manner, on the banks of the canals which passed through the city, in some of its districts, or on the sides of the streets which intersected it in other quarters. In several places were large openings or squares, one of which, allotted for the great market, is said to have been so spacious, that forty or fifty thousand persons carried on traffic there. In this city, the pride of the New World, and the noblest monument of the industry and art of man, while unacquainted with the use of iron, and destitute of aid from any domestic animal, the Spaniards, who are most moderate in their computations, reckon that there were, at least, sixty thousand inhabitants.a

Their dangerous situation.But how much soever the novelty of those objects might amuse or astonish the Spaniards, they felt the utmost solicitude with respect to their own situation. From a concurrence of circumstances, no less unexpected than favourable to their progress, they had been allowed to penetrate into the heart of a powerful kingdom, and were now lodged in its capital, without having once met with open opposition from its monarch. The Tlascalans, however, had earnestly dissuaded them from placing such confidence in Montezuma as to enter a city of such peculiar situation as Mexico, where that prince would have them at mercy, shut up as it were in a snare, from which it was impossible to escape. They assured them that the Mexican priests had, in the name of the gods, counselled their sovereign to admit the Spaniards into Edition: current; Page: [54] the capital, that he might cut them off there, at one blow, with perfect security.b They now perceived, too plainly, that the apprehensions of their allies were not destitute of foundation; that, by breaking the bridges placed at certain intervals on the causeways, or by destroying part of the causeways themselves, their retreat would be rendered impracticable, and they must remain cooped up in the centre of a hostile city, surrounded by multitudes sufficient to overwhelm them, and without a possibility of receiving aid from their allies. Montezuma had, indeed, received them with distinguished respect. But ought they to reckon upon this as real, or to consider it as feigned? Even if it were sincere, could they promise on its continuance? Their safety depended upon the will of a monarch in whose attachment they had no reason to confide; and an order flowing from his caprice, or a word uttered by him in passion, might decide irrevocably concerning their fate.c

Solicitude and perplexity of Cortes.These reflections, so obvious as to occur to the meanest soldier, did not escape the vigilant sagacity of their general. Before he set out from Cholula, Cortes had received advice from Villa Ricad that Qualpopoca, one of the Mexican generals on the frontiers, having assembled an army, in order to attack some of the people whom the Spaniards had encouraged to throw off the Mexican yoke, Escalante had marched out with part of the garrison to support his allies; that an engagement had ensued, in which, though the Spaniards were victorious, Escalante, with seven of his men, had been mortally wounded, his horse killed, and one Spaniard had been surrounded by the enemy, and taken alive; that the head of this unfortunate captive, after being carried in triumph to different cities, in order to convince the people that Edition: current; Page: [55] their invaders were not immortal, had been sent to Mexico.e Cortes, though alarmed with this intelligence, as an indication of Montezuma’s hostile intentions, had continued his march. But as soon as he entered Mexico, he became sensible that, from an excess of confidence in the superior valour and discipline of his troops, as well as from the disadvantage of having nothing to guide him, in an unknown country, but the defective intelligence which he had received from people with whom his mode of communication was very imperfect, he had pushed forward into a situation where it was difficult to continue, and from which it was dangerous to retire. Disgrace, and perhaps ruin, was the certain consequence of attempting the latter. The success of his enterprise depended upon supporting the high opinion which the people of New Spain had formed with respect to the irresistible power of his arms. Upon the first symptom of timidity on his part, their veneration would cease, and Montezuma, whom fear alone restrained at present, would let loose upon him the whole force of his empire. At the same time, he knew that the countenance of his own sovereign was to be obtained only by a series of victories, and that nothing but the merit of extraordinary success could screen his conduct from the censure of irregularity. From all these considerations, it was necessary to maintain his station, and to extricate himself out of the difficulties in which one bold step had involved him, by venturing upon another still bolder. The situation was trying, but his mind was equal to it; and, after revolving the matter with deep attention, he fixed upon a plan no less extraordinary than daring. He determined to seize Montezuma in his palace,Resolves to seize Montezuma. and to carry him as a prisoner to the Spanish quarters. From the superstitious veneration of the Mexicans for Edition: current; Page: [56] the person of their monarch, as well as their implicit submission to his will, he hoped, by having Montezuma in his power, to acquire the supreme direction of their affairs; or, at least, with such a sacred pledge in his hands, he made no doubt of being secure from any effort of their violence.

His manner of executing this.This he immediately proposed to his officers. The timid startled at a measure so audacious, and raised objections. The more intelligent and resolute, conscious that it was the only resource in which there appeared any prospect of safety, warmly approved of it, and brought over their companions so cordially to the same opinion, that it was agreed instantly to make the attempt. At his usual hour of visiting Montezuma, Cortes went to the palace, accompanied by Alvarado, Sandoval, Lugo, Velasquez de Leon, and Davila, five of his principal officers, and as many trusty soldiers. Thirty chosen men followed, not in regular order, but sauntering at some distance, as if they had no object but curiosity; small parties were posted at proper intervals, in all the streets leading from the Spanish quarters to the court; and the remainder of his troops, with the Tlascalan allies, were under arms, ready to sally out on the first alarm. Cortes and his attendants were admitted without suspicion, the Mexicans retiring, as usual, out of respect. He addressed the monarch in a tone very different from that which he had employed in former conferences, reproaching him bitterly as the author of the violent assault made upon the Spaniards by one of his officers, and demanded public reparation for the loss which they had sustained by the death of some of their companions, as well as for the insult offered to the great prince whose servants they were. Montezuma, confounded at this unexpected accusation, and changing colour, either from consciousness of guilt, or from feeling the indignity Edition: current; Page: [57] with which he was treated, asserted his own innocence with great earnestness, and, as a proof of it, gave orders instantly to bring Qualpopoca and his accomplices prisoners to Mexico. Cortes replied, with seeming complaisance, that a declaration so respectable left no doubt remaining in his own mind, but that something more was requisite to satisfy his followers, who would never be convinced that Montezuma did not harbour hostile intentions against them, unless, as an evidence of his confidence and attachment, he removed from his own palace, and took up his residence in the Spanish quarters, where he should be served and honoured as became a great monarch. The first mention of so strange a proposal bereaved Montezuma of speech, and almost of motion. At length, indignation gave him utterance, and he haughtily answered, “That persons of his rank were not accustomed voluntarily to give up themselves as prisoners; and were he mean enough to do so, his subjects would not permit such an affront to be offered to their sovereign.” Cortes, unwilling to employ force, endeavoured alternately to soothe and to intimidate him. The altercation became warm, and having continued above three hours, Velasquez de Leon, an impetuous and gallant young man, exclaimed with impatience, “Why waste more time in vain? Let us either seize him instantly, or stab him to the heart.” The threatening voice and fierce gestures with which these words were uttered, struck Montezuma. The Spaniards, he was sensible, had now proceeded so far, as left him no hope that they would recede. His own danger was imminent, the necessity unavoidable. He saw both, and, abandoning himself to his fate, complied with their request.

Montezuma carried to the Spanish quarters;His officers were called. He communicated to them his resolution. Though astonished and afflicted, they presumed not to question the will of their Edition: current; Page: [58] master, but carried him in silent pomp, all bathed in tears, to the Spanish quarters. When it was known that the strangers were conveying away the emperor, the people broke out into the wildest transports of grief and rage, threatening the Spaniards with immediate destruction, as the punishment justly due to their impious audacity. But as soon as Montezuma appeared with a seeming gaiety of countenance, and waved his hand, the tumult was hushed; and upon his declaring it to be of his own choice that he went to reside for some time among his new friends, the multitude, taught to revere every intimation of their sovereign’s pleasure, quietly dispersed.f

Thus was a powerful prince seized by a few strangers in the midst of his capital, at noonday, and carried off as a prisoner without opposition or bloodshed. History contains nothing parallel to this event, either with respect to the temerity of the attempt, or the success of the execution; and were not all the circumstances of this extraordinary transaction authenticated by the most unquestionable evidence, they would appear so wild and extravagant, as to go far beyond the bounds of that probability which must be preserved even in fictitious narrations.

received with apparent respect;Montezuma was received in the Spanish quarters with all the ceremonious respect which Cortes had promised. He was attended by his own domestics, and served with his usual state. His principal officers had free access to him, and he carried on every function of government as if he had been at perfect liberty. The Spaniards, however, watched him with the scrupulous vigilance which was natural in guarding such an important prizeg, endeavouring at the same time to soothe and reconcile him to his situation, Edition: current; Page: [59] by every external demonstration of regard and attachment. But from captive princes the hour of humiliation and suffering is never far distant. Qualpopoca, his son,subjected to cruel indignities. and five of the principal officers who served under him, were brought prisoners to the capital, in consequence of the orders which Montezuma had issued.Dec. 4. The emperor gave them up to Cortes, that he might enquire into the nature of their crime, and determine their punishment. They were formally tried by a Spanish court-martial; and, though they had acted no other part than what became loyal subjects and brave men, in obeying the orders of their lawful sovereign, and in opposing the invaders of their country, they were condemned to be burnt alive. The execution of such atrocious deeds is seldom long suspended. The unhappy victims were instantly led forth. The pile on which they were laid was composed of the weapons collected in the royal magazine for the public defence. An innumerable multitude of Mexicans beheld, in silent astonishment, the double insult offered to the majesty of their empire, an officer of distinction committed to the flames by the authority of strangers, for having done what he owed in duty to his natural sovereign; and the arms provided by the foresight of their ancestors for avenging public wrongs, consumed before their eyes.

But these were not the most shocking indignities which the Mexicans had to bear. The Spaniards, convinced that Qualpopoca would not have ventured to attack Escalante without orders from his master, were not satisfied with inflicting vengeance on the instrument employed in committing that crime, while the author of it escaped with impunity. Just before Qualpopoca was led out to suffer, Cortes entered the apartment of Montezuma, followed by some of his officers, and a soldier carrying a pair of fetters; and, Edition: current; Page: [60] approaching the monarch with a stern countenance, told him, that as the persons who were now to undergo the punishment which they merited, had charged him as the cause of the outrage committed, it was necessary that he likewise should make atonement for that guilt; then, turning away abruptly, without waiting for a reply, commanded the soldier to clap the fetters on his legs. The orders were instantly executed. The disconsolate monarch, trained up with an idea that his person was sacred and inviolable, and considering this profanation of it as the prelude of immediate death, broke out into loud lamentations and complaints. His attendants, speechless with horror, fell at his feet, bathing them with their tears; and bearing up the fetters in their hands, endeavoured, with officious tenderness, to lighten their pressure. Nor did their grief and despondency abate, until Cortes returned from the execution, and, with a cheerful countenance, ordered the fetters to be taken off. As Montezuma’s spirits had sunk with unmanly dejection, they now rose into indecent joy; and, with an unbecoming transition, he passed at once from the anguish of despair to transports of gratitude and expressions of fondness towards his deliverer.

Reasons of Cortes’ conduct.In those transactions, as represented by the Spanish historians, we search in vain for the qualities which distinguish other parts of Cortes’ conduct. To usurp a jurisdiction which could not belong to a stranger, who assumed no higher character than that of an ambassador from a foreign prince, and, under colour of it, to inflict a capital punishment on men whose conduct entitled them to esteem, appears an act of barbarous cruelty. To put the monarch of a great kingdom in irons, and, after such an ignominious treatment, suddenly to release him, seems to be a display of power no less inconsiderate than wanton. According to the Edition: current; Page: [61] common relation, no account can be given either of the one action or the other, but that Cortes, intoxicated with success, and presuming on the ascendant which he had acquired over the minds of the Mexicans, thought nothing too bold for him to undertake, or too dangerous to execute. But, in one view, these proceedings, however repugnant to justice and humanity, may have flowed from that artful policy which regulated every part of Cortes’ behaviour towards the Mexicans. They had conceived the Spaniards to be an order of beings superior to men. It was of the utmost consequence to cherish this illusion, and to keep up the veneration which it inspired. Cortes wished that shedding the blood of a Spaniard should be deemed the most heinous of all crimes; and nothing appeared better calculated to establish this opinion, than to condemn the first Mexicans who had ventured to commit it to a cruel death, and to oblige their monarch himself to submit to a mortifying indignity, as an expiation for being accessory to a deed so atrocious.h

1520.The rigour with which Cortes punished the unhappy persons who first presumed to lay violent hands upon his followers, seems accordingly to have made all the impression that he desired.The power which Cortes acquired. The spirit of Montezuma was not only overawed, but subdued. During six months that Cortes remained in Mexico, the monarch continued in the Spanish quarters, with an appearance of as entire satisfaction and tranquillity, as if he had resided there, not from constraint, but through choice. His ministers and officers attended him as usual. He took cognizance of all affairs; every order was issued in his name. The external aspect of government appearing the same, and all its ancient forms being scrupulously observed, the people were so little sensible of any change, that they Edition: current; Page: [62] obeyed the mandates of their monarch with the same submissive reverence as ever. Such was the dread which both Montezuma and his subjects had of the Spaniards, or such the veneration in which they held them, that no attempt was made to deliver their sovereign from confinement; and though Cortes, relying on this ascendant which he had acquired over their minds, permitted him not only to visit his temples, but to make hunting excursions beyond the lake, a guard of a few Spaniards carried with it such a terror as to intimidate the multitude, and secure the captive monarch.i

Thus, by the fortunate temerity of Cortes in seizing Montezuma, the Spaniards at once secured to themselves more extensive authority in the Mexican empire than it was possible to have acquired in a long course of time by open force; and they exercised more absolute sway in the name of another than they could have done in their own. The arts of polished nations, in subjecting such as are less improved, have been nearly the same in every period. The system of screening a foreign usurpation, under the sanction of authority derived from the natural rulers of a country, the device of employing the magistrates and forms already established as instruments to introduce a new dominion, of which we are apt to boast as sublime refinements in policy peculiar to the present age, were inventions of a more early period, and had been tried with success in the West, long before they were practised in the East.

Use which he makes of it.Cortes availed himself to the utmost of the powers which he possessed by being able to act in the name of Montezuma. He sent some Spaniards, whom he judged best qualified for such commissions, into different parts of the empire, accompanied by persons of distinction, whom Montezuma appointed to attend Edition: current; Page: [63] them both as guides and protectors. They visited most of the provinces, viewed their soil and productions, surveyed with particular care the districts which yielded gold or silver, pitched upon several places as proper stations for future colonies, and endeavoured to prepare the minds of the people for submitting to the Spanish yoke. While they were thus employed, Cortes, in the name and by the authority of Montezuma, degraded some of the principal officers in the empire, whose abilities or independent spirit excited his jealousy, and substituted in their place persons less capable or more obsequious.

One thing still was wanting to complete his security. He wished to have such command of the lake as might ensure a retreat, if, either from levity or disgust, the Mexicans should take arms against him, and break down the bridges or causeways. This, too, his own address, and the facility of Montezuma, enabled him to accomplish. Having frequently entertained his prisoner with pompous accounts of the European marine and art of navigation, he awakened his curiosity to see those moving palaces which made their way through the water without oars. Under pretext of gratifying this desire, Cortes persuaded Montezuma to appoint some of his subjects to fetch part of the naval stores which the Spaniards had deposited at Vera Cruz to Mexico, and to employ others in cutting down and preparing timber. With their assistance, the Spanish carpenters soon completed two brigantines, which afforded a frivolous amusement to the monarch, and were considered by Cortes as a certain resource, if he should be obliged to retire.

Montezuma acknowledges himself a vassal of Spain.Encouraged by so many instances of the monarch’s tame submission to his will, Cortes ventured to put it to a proof still more trying. He urged Montezuma to acknowledge himself a vassal of the King of Castile, to hold his crown of him as superior, and Edition: current; Page: [64] to subject his dominions to the payment of an annual tribute. With this requisition, the last and most humbling that can be made to one possessed of sovereign authority, Montezuma was so obsequious as to comply. He called together the chief men of his empire, and, in a solemn harangue, reminding them of the traditions and prophecies which led them to expect the arrival of a people sprung from the same stock with themselves, in order to take possession of the supreme power, he declared his belief that the Spaniards were this promised race; that, therefore, he recognized the right of their monarch to govern the Mexican empire; that he would lay his crown at his feet, and obey him as a tributary. While uttering these words, Montezuma discovered how deeply he was affected in making such a sacrifice. Tears and groans frequently interrupted his discourse. Overawed and broken as his spirit was, it still retained such a sense of dignity, as to feel that pang which pierces the heart of princes when constrained to resign independent power. The first mention of such a resolution struck the assembly dumb with astonishment. This was followed by a sudden murmur of sorrow, mingled with indignation, which indicated some violent irruption of rage to be near at hand. This Cortes foresaw, and seasonably interposed to prevent it, by declaring that his master had no intention to deprive Montezuma of the royal dignity, or to make any innovation upon the constitution and laws of the Mexican empire. This assurance added to their dread of the Spanish power, and to the authority of their monarch’s example, extorted a reluctant consent from the assembly.k The act of submission and homage was executed with all the formalities which the Spaniards were pleased to prescribe.l

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Montezuma, at the desire of Cortes, accompanied this profession of fealty and homage with a magnificent present to his new sovereign;The amount of the treasure collected by the Spaniards. and, after his example, his subjects brought in very liberal contributions. The Spaniards now collected all the treasure which had been either voluntarily bestowed upon them at different times by Montezuma, or had been extorted from his people under various pretexts; and having melted the gold and silver, the value of these, without including jewels and ornaments of various kinds, which were preserved on account of their curious workmanship, amounted to six hundred thousand pesos. The soldiers were impatient to have it divided,Division of it, and the discontent it occasioned. and Cortes complied with their desire. A fifth of the whole was first set apart as the tax due to the king. Another fifth was allotted to Cortes as commander in chief. The sums advanced by Velasquez, by Cortes, and by some of the officers, towards defraying the expence of fitting out the armament, were then deducted. The remainder was divided among the army, including the garrison of Vera Cruz, in proportion to their different ranks. After so many defalcations, the share of a private man did not exceed a hundred pesos. This sum fell so far below their sanguine expectations, that some soldiers rejected it with scorn, and others murmured so loudly at this cruel disappointment of their hopes, that it required all the address of Cortes, and no small exertion of his liberality, to appease them. The complaints of the army were not altogether destitute of foundation. As the crown had contributed nothing towards the equipment or success of the armament, it was not without regret that the soldiers beheld it sweep away so great a proportion of the treasure purchased by their blood and toil. What fell to the share of the general appeared, according to the ideas of wealth in the sixteenth century, an enormous sum. Some of Cortes’ favourites had secretly Edition: current; Page: [66] appropriated to their own use several ornaments of gold, which neither paid the royal fifth, nor were brought into account as part of the common stock. It was, however, so manifestly the interest of Cortes at this period to make a large remittance to the king, that it is highly probable those concealments were not of great consequence.

Reasons why gold was found in such small quantities.The total sum amassed by the Spaniards bears no proportion to the ideas which might be formed, either by reflecting on the descriptions given by historians of the ancient splendour of Mexico, or by considering the productions of its mines in modern times. But, among the ancient Mexicans, gold and silver were not the standards by which the worth of other commodities was estimated; and destitute of the artificial value derived from this circumstance, were no farther in request than as they furnished materials for ornaments and trinkets. These were either consecrated to the gods in their temples, or were worn as marks of distinction by their princes and some of their most eminent chiefs. As the consumption of the precious metals was inconsiderable, the demand for them was not such as to put either the ingenuity or industry of the Mexicans on the stretch, in order to augment their store. They were altogether unacquainted with the art of working the rich mines with which their country abounded. What gold they had was gathered in the beds of rivers, native, and ripened into a pure metallic state.m The utmost effort of their labour in search of it was to wash the earth carried down by torrents from the mountains, and to pick out the grains of gold which subsided; and even this simple operation, according to the report of the persons whom Cortes appointed to survey the provinces where there was a prospect of finding mines, they performed very Edition: current; Page: [67] unskilfully.n From all those causes, the whole mass of gold in possession of the Mexicans was not great. As silver is rarely found pure, and the Mexican art was too rude to conduct the process for refining it in a proper manner, the quantity of this metal was still less considerable.o Thus, though the Spaniards had exerted all the power which they possessed in Mexico, and often with indecent rapacity, in order to gratify their predominant passion, and though Montezuma had fondly exhausted his treasures, in hopes of satiating their thirst for gold, the product of both, which probably included a great part of the bullion in the empire, did not rise in value above what has been mentioned.p

Montezuma inflexible with respect to religion.But however pliant Montezuma might be in other matters, with respect to one point he was inflexible. Though Cortes often urged him, with the importunate zeal of a missionary, to renounce his false gods, and to embrace the Christian faith, he always rejected the proposition with horror. Superstition among the Mexicans was formed into such a regular and complete system, that its institutions naturally took fast hold of the mind; and while the rude tribes in other parts of America were easily induced to relinquish a few notions and rites, so loose and arbitrary as hardly to merit the name of a public religion, the Mexicans adhered tenaciously to their mode of worship, which, however barbarous, was accompanied with such order and solemnity as to render it an object of the highest veneration. Cortes, finding all his attempts ineffectual to shake the constancy of Montezuma, was so much enraged at his obstinacy, that in a transport of zeal he led out his soldiers to throw down the idols in the grand temple by force. But the priests taking arms in defence of their altars, and the people crowding Edition: current; Page: [68] with great ardour to support them, Cortes’ prudence overruled his zeal, and induced him to desist from his rash attempt, after dislodging the idols from one of the shrines, and placing in their stead an image of the Virgin Mary.q

Schemes of the Mexicans to destroy the Spaniards.From that moment the Mexicans, who had permitted the imprisonment of their sovereign, and suffered the exactions of strangers without a struggle, began to meditate how they might expel or destroy the Spaniards, and thought themselves called upon to avenge their insulted deities. The priests and leading men held frequent consultations with Montezuma for this purpose. But as it might prove fatal to the captive monarch to attempt either the one or the other by violence, he was willing to try more gentle means. Having called Cortes into his presence, he observed, that now, as all the purposes of his embassy were fully accomplished, the gods had declared their will, and the people signified their desire, that he and his followers should instantly depart out of the empire. With this he required them to comply, or unavoidable destruction would fall suddenly on their heads. The tenour of this unexpected requisition, as well as the determined tone in which it was uttered, left Cortes no room to doubt that it was the result of some deep scheme concerted between Montezuma and his subjects. He quickly perceived that he might derive more advantage from a seeming compliance with the monarch’s inclination, than from an ill-timed attempt to change or to oppose it; and replied with great composure, that he had already begun to prepare for returning to his own country; but as he had destroyed the vessels in which he arrived, some time was requisite for building other ships. This appeared reasonable. A number of Mexicans were sent to Vera Cruz to cut down timber, and some Spanish carpenters Edition: current; Page: [69] were appointed to superintend the work. Cortes flattered himself that during this interval he might either find means to avert the threatened danger, or receive such reinforcements as would enable him to despise it.

Anxiety and danger of Cortes.Almost nine months were elapsed since Portocarrero and Montejo had sailed with his dispatches to Spain; and he daily expected their return with a confirmation of his authority from the king. Without this, his condition was insecure and precarious; and after all the great things which he had done, it might be his doom to bear the name and suffer the punishment of a traitor. Rapid and extensive as his progress had been, he could not hope to complete the reduction of a great empire with so small a body of men, which by this time diseases of various kinds had considerably thinned; nor could he apply for recruits to the Spanish settlements in the islands, until he received the royal approbation of his proceedings.

The arrival of a new armament,While he remained in this cruel situation, anxious about what was past, uncertain with respect to the future, and, by the late declaration of Montezuma, oppressed with a new addition of cares, a Mexican courier arrived with an account of some ships having appeared on the coast. Cortes, with fond credulity, imagining that his messengers were returned from Spain, and that the completion of all his wishes and hopes was at hand, imparted the glad tidings to his companions, who received them with transports of mutual gratulation. Their joy was not of long continuance. A courier from Sandoval, whom Cortes had appointed to succeed Escalante in command at Vera Cruz, brought certain information that the armament was fitted out by Velasquez, governor of Cuba, and, instead of bringing the aid which they expected, threatened them with immediate destruction.

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fitted out by Velasquez,The motives which prompted Velasquez to this violent measure are obvious. From the circumstances of Cortes’ departure, it was impossible not to suspect his intention of throwing off all dependence upon him. His neglecting to transmit any account of his operations to Cuba, strengthened this suspicion, which was at last confirmed beyond doubt, by the indiscretion of the officers whom Cortes sent to Spain. They, from some motive which is not clearly explained by the contemporary historians, touched at the island of Cuba, contrary to the peremptory orders of their general.r By this means Velasquez not only learned that Cortes and his followers, after formally renouncing all connection with him, had established an independent colony in New Spain, and were soliciting the king to confirm their proceedings by his authority; but he obtained particular information concerning the opulence of the country, the valuable presents which Cortes had received, and the inviting prospects of success that opened to his view. Every passion which can agitate an ambitious mind; shame, at having been so grossly overreached; indignation at being betrayed by the man whom he had selected as the object of his favour and confidence; grief, for having wasted his fortune to aggrandize an enemy; and despair of recovering so fair an opportunity of establishing his fame and extending his power, now raged in the bosom of Velasquez. All these, with united force, excited him to make an extraordinary effort in order to be avenged on the author of his wrongs, and to wrest from him his usurped authority and conquests. Nor did he want the appearance of a good title to justify such an attempt. The agent whom he sent to Spain with an account of Grijalva’s voyage, had met with a most favourable reception; and from the specimens which Edition: current; Page: [71] he produced, such high expectations were formed concerning the opulence of New Spain, that Velasquez was authorized to prosecute the discovery of the country, and appointed governor of it during life, with more extensive power and privileges than had been granted to any adventurer from the time of Columbus.s Elated by this distinguishing mark of favour, and warranted to consider Cortes not only as intruding upon his jurisdiction, but as disobedient to the royal mandate, he determined to vindicate his own rights, and the honour of his sovereign, by force of arms.tunder the command of Narvaez. His ardour in carrying on his preparations was such as might have been expected from the violence of the passions with which he was animated; and in a short time an armament was completed, consisting of eighteen ships, which had on board fourscore horsemen, eight hundred foot soldiers, of which eighty were musketeers, and a hundred and twenty cross-bowmen, together with a train of twelve pieces of cannon. As Velasquez’s experience of the fatal consequence of committing to another what he ought to have executed himself, had not rendered him more enterprising, he vested the command of this formidable body, which, in the infancy of the Spanish power in America, merits the appellation of an army, in Pamphilo de Narvaez, with instructions to seize Cortes and his principal officers, to send them prisoners to him, and then to complete the discovery and conquest of the country in his name.

The proceedings of Narvaez.After a prosperous voyage, Narvaez landed his men, without opposition, near St. Juan de Ulua.April. Three soldiers, whom Cortes had sent to search for mines in that district, immediately joined him. By this accident he not only received information concerning the progress and situation of Cortes, but as these soldiers had made some progress in the knowledge Edition: current; Page: [72] of the Mexican language, he acquired interpreters, by whose means he was enabled to hold some intercourse with the people of the country. But, according to the low cunning of deserters, they framed their intelligence with more attention to what they thought would be agreeable, than to what they knew to be true, and represented the situation of Cortes to be so desperate, and the disaffection of his followers to be so general, as increased the natural confidence and presumption of Narvaez. His first operation, however, might have taught him not to rely on their partial accounts. Having sent to summon the governor of Vera Cruz to surrender, Guevara, a priest whom he employed in that service, made the requisition with such insolence, that Sandoval, an officer of high spirit, and zealously attached to Cortes, instead of complying with his demands, seized him and his attendants, and sent them in chains to Mexico.

Cortes deeply alarmed.Cortes received them not like enemies, but as friends, and, condemning the severity of Sandoval, set them immediately at liberty. By this well-timed clemency, seconded by caresses and presents, he gained their confidence, and drew from them such particulars concerning the force and intentions of Narvaez, as gave him a view of the impending danger in its full extent. He had not to contend now with half-naked Indians, no match for him in war, and still more inferior in the arts of policy, but to take the field against an army in courage and martial discipline equal to his own, in number far superior, acting under the sanction of royal authority, and commanded by an officer of known bravery. He was informed that Narvaez, more solicitous to gratify the resentment of Velasquez than attentive to the honour or interest of his country, had begun his intercourse with the natives, by representing him and his followers as fugitives and outlaws, guilty of rebellion against their own Edition: current; Page: [73] sovereign, and of injustice in invading the Mexican empire; and had declared that his chief object in visiting the country was to punish the Spaniards who had committed these crimes, and to rescue the Mexicans from oppression. He soon perceived that the same unfavourable representations of his character and actions had been conveyed to Montezuma, and and that Narvaez had found means to assure him, that, as the conduct of those who kept him under restraint was highly displeasing to the king his master, he had it in charge not only to rescue an injured monarch from confinement, but to reinstate him in the possession of his ancient power and independence. Animated with this prospect of being set free from subjection to strangers, the Mexicans in several provinces began openly to revolt from Cortes, and to regard Narvaez as a deliverer no less able than willing to save them. Montezuma himself kept up a secret intercourse with the new commander, and seemed to court him as a person superior in power and dignity to those Spaniards whom he had hitherto revered as the first of men.u

His deliberations concerning his own conduct.Such were the various aspects of danger and difficulty which presented themselves to the view of Cortes. No situation can be conceived more trying to the capacity and firmness of a general, or where the choice of the plan which ought to be adopted was more difficult. If he should wait the approach of Narvaez in Mexico, destruction seemed to be unavoidable; for, while the Spaniards pressed him from without, the inhabitants, whose turbulent spirit he could hardly restrain with all his authority and attention, would eagerly lay hold on such a favourable opportunity of avenging all their wrongs. If he should abandon the capital, set the captive monarch at liberty, and march out to meet the enemy, he must Edition: current; Page: [74] at once forego the fruits of all his toils and victories, and relinquish advantages which could not be recovered without extraordinary efforts, and infinite danger. If, instead of employing force, he should have recourse to conciliating measures, and attempt an accommodation with Narvaez, the natural haughtiness of that officer, augmented by consciousness of his present superiority, forbade him to cherish any sanguine hope of success. After revolving every scheme with deep attention, Cortes fixed upon that which in execution was most hazardous, but, if successful, would prove most beneficial to himself and to his country; and, with the decisive intrepidity suited to desperate situations, determined to make one bold effort for victory under every disadvantage, rather than sacrifice his own conquests and the Spanish interest in Mexico.

His negotiations with the followers of Narvaez.But though he foresaw that the contest must be terminated finally by arms, it would have been not only indecent, but criminal, to have marched against his countrymen, without attempting to adjust matters by an amicable negotiation. In this service he employed Olmedo, his chaplain, to whose character the function was well suited, and who possessed, besides, such prudence and address as qualified him to carry on the secret intrigues in which Cortes placed his chief confidence. Narvaez rejected, with scorn, every scheme of accommodation that Olmedo proposed, and was with difficulty restrained from laying violent hands on him and his attendants. He met, however, with a more favourable reception among the followers of Narvaez, to many of whom he delivered letters, either from Cortes or his officers, their ancient friends and companions. Cortes artfully accompanied these with presents of rings, chains of gold, and other trinkets of value, which inspired those needy adventurers with high ideas of the wealth that he had acquired, Edition: current; Page: [75] and with envy of their good fortune who were engaged in his service. Some, from hopes of becoming sharers in those rich spoils, declared for an immediate accommodation with Cortes. Others, from public spirit, laboured to prevent a civil war, which, whatever party should prevail, must shake, and perhaps subvert, the Spanish power, in a country where it was so imperfectly established. Narvaez disregarded both, and, by a public proclamation, denounced Cortes and his adherents rebels and enemies to their country. Cortes, it is probable, was not much surprised at the untractable arrogance of Narvaez; and, after having given such a proof of his own pacific disposition as might justify his recourse to other means, he determined to advance towards an enemy whom he had laboured in vain to appease.

Marches against him.He left a hundred and fifty men in the capital, under the command of Pedro de Alvarado, an officer of distinguished courage,May. for whom the Mexicans had conceived a singular degree of respect. To the custody of this slender garrison he committed a great city, with all the wealth he had amassed, and, what was of still greater importance, the person of the imprisoned monarch. His utmost art was employed in concealing from Montezuma the real cause of his march. He laboured to persuade him that the strangers who had lately arrived were his friends and fellow-subjects; and that, after a short interview with them, they would depart together, and return to their own country. The captive prince, unable to comprehend the designs of the Spaniard, or to reconcile what he now heard with the declarations of Narvaez, and afraid to discover any symptom of suspicion or distrust of Cortes, promised to remain quietly in the Spanish quarters, and to cultivate the same friendship with Alvarado which he had uniformly maintained with him. Cortes, with seeming confidence in this Edition: current; Page: [76] promise, but relying principally upon the injunctions which he had given Alvarado to guard his prisoner with the most scrupulous vigilance, set out from Mexico.

Number of his troops.His strength, even after it was reinforced by the junction of Sandoval and the garrison of Vera Cruz, did not exceed two hundred and fifty men. As he hoped for success chiefly from the rapidity of his motions, his troops were not encumbered either with baggage or artillery. But as he dreaded extremely the impression which the enemy might make with their cavalry, he had provided against this danger with the foresight and sagacity which distinguish a great commander. Having observed that the Indians in the province of Chinantla used spears of extraordinary length and force, he armed his soldiers with these, and accustomed them to that deep and compact arrangement which the use of this formidable weapon, the best, perhaps, that ever was invented for defence, enabled them to assume.

Continues to negotiate as he advanced.With this small but firm battalion, Cortes advanced towards Zempoalla, of which Narvaez had taken possession. During his march, he made repeated attempts towards some accommodation with his opponent. But Narvaez requiring that Cortes and his followers should instantly recognise his title to be governor of New Spain, in virtue of the powers which he derived from Velasquez; and Cortes refusing to submit to any authority which was not founded on a commission from the emperor himself, under whose immediate protection he and his adherents had placed their infant colony, all these attempts proved fruitless. The intercourse, however, which this occasioned between the two parties, proved of no small advantage to Cortes, as it afforded him an opportunity of gaining some of Narvaez’s officers by liberal presents, of softening others by a semblance of Edition: current; Page: [77] moderation, and of dazzling all by the appearance of wealth among his troops, most of his soldiers having converted their share of the Mexican gold into chains, bracelets, and other ornaments, which they displayed with military ostentation. Narvaez and a little junto of his creatures excepted, all the army leaned towards an accommodation with their countrymen. This discovery of their inclination irritated his violent temper almost to madness. In a transport of rage, he set a price upon the head of Cortes, and of his principal officers; and, having learned that he was now advanced within a league of Zempoalla with his small body of men, he considered this as an insult which merited immediate chastisement, and marched out with all his troops to offer him battle.

Attacks Narvaez in the night,But Cortes was a leader of greater abilities and experience than, on equal ground, to fight an enemy so far superior in number, and so much better appointed. Having taken his station on the opposite bank of the river de Canoas, where he knew that he could not be attacked, he beheld the approach of the enemy without concern, and disregarded this vain bravade. It was then the beginning of the wet seasonx, and the rain had poured down, during a great part of the day, with the violence peculiar to the torrid zone. The followers of Narvaez, unaccustomed to the hardships of military service, murmured so much at being thus fruitlessly exposed, that, from their unsoldier-like impatience, as well as his own contempt of his adversary, their general permitted them to retire to Zempoalla. The very circumstance which induced them to quit the field, encouraged Cortes to form a scheme, by which he hoped at once to terminate the war. He observed, that his hardy veterans, though standing under the torrents, which continued to fall, without a single Edition: current; Page: [78] tent, or any shelter whatsoever to cover them, were so far from repining at hardships which were become familiar to them, that they were still fresh and alert for service. He foresaw that the enemy would naturally give themselves up to repose after their fatigue, and that, judging of the conduct of others by their own effeminacy, they would deem themselves perfectly secure at a season so unfit for action. He resolved, therefore, to fall upon them in the dead of night, when the surprise and terror of this unexpected attack might more than compensate the inferiority of his numbers. His soldiers, sensible that no resource remained but in some desperate effort of courage, approved of the measure with such warmth, that Cortes, in a military oration which he addressed to them before they began their march, was more solicitous to temper than to inflame their ardour. He divided them into three parties. At the head of the first he placed Sandoval; intrusting this gallant officer with the most dangerous and important service, that of seizing the enemy’s artillery, which was planted before the principal tower of the temple, where Narvaez had fixed his head-quarters. Christoval de Olid commanded the second, with orders to assault the tower, and lay hold on the general. Cortes himself conducted the third and smallest division, which was to act as a body of reserve, and to support the other two as there should be occasion. Having passed the river de Canoas, which was much swelled with the rains, not without difficulty, the water reaching almost to their chins, they advanced in profound silence, without beat of drum, or sound of any warlike instrument; each man armed with his sword, his dagger, and his Chinantlan spear. Narvaez, remiss in proportion to his security, had posted only two sentinels to watch the motions of an enemy whom he had such good cause to dread. One of these was Edition: current; Page: [79] seized by the advanced guard of Cortes’ troops; the other made his escape, and, hurrying to the town with all the precipitation of fear and zeal, gave such timely notice of the enemy’s approach, that there was full leisure to have prepared for their reception. But, through the arrogance and infatuation of Narvaez, this important interval was lost. He imputed this alarm to the cowardice of the sentinel, and treated with derision the idea of being attacked by forces so unequal to his own. The shouts of Cortes’ soldiers, rushing on to the assault, convinced him at last that the danger which he despised was real. The rapidity with which they advanced was such, that only one cannon could be fired, before Sandoval’s party closed with the enemy, drove them from their guns, and began to force their way up the steps of the tower. Narvaez, no less brave in action than presumptuous in conduct, armed himself in haste, and by his voice and example animated his men to the combat. Olid advanced to sustain his companions; and Cortes himself rushing to the front, conducted and added new vigour to the attack. The compact order in which this small body pressed on, and the impenetrable front which they presented with their long spears, bore down all opposition before it.and overcomes him. They had now reached the gate, and were struggling to burst it open, when a soldier having set fire to the reeds with which the tower was covered, compelled Narvaez to sally out. In the first encounter he was wounded in the eye with a spear, and, falling to the ground, was dragged down the steps, and, in a moment, clapped in fetters. The cry of victory resounded among the troops of Cortes. Those who had sallied out with their leader now maintained the conflict feebly, and began to surrender. Among the remainder of his soldiers, stationed in two smaller towers of the temple, terror and confusion prevailed. The darkness was so great, that they Edition: current; Page: [80] could not distinguish between their friends and foes. Their own artillery was pointed against them. Wherever they turned their eyes, they beheld lights gleaming through the obscurity of night, which, though proceeding only from a variety of shining insects, that abound in moist and sultry climates, their affrighted imaginations represented as numerous bands of musqueteers advancing with kindled matches to the attack. After a short resistance, the soldiers compelled their officers to capitulate, and before morning all laid down their arms, and submitted quietly to their conquerors.

The effects of this victory.This complete victory proved more acceptable, as it was gained almost without bloodshed, only two soldiers being killed on the side of Cortes, and two officers, with fifteen private men, of the adverse faction. Cortes treated the vanquished not like enemies, but as countrymen and friends, and offered either to send them back directly to Cuba, or to take them into his service, as partners in his fortune, on equal terms with his own soldiers. This latter proposition, seconded by a seasonable distribution of some presents from Cortes, and liberal promises of more, opened prospects so agreeable to the romantic expectations which had invited them to engage in this service, that all, a few partisans of Narvaez excepted, closed with it, and vied with each other in professions of fidelity and attachment to a general, whose recent success had given them such a striking proof of his abilities for command. Thus, by a series of events no less fortunate than uncommon, Cortes not only escaped from perdition which seemed inevitable, but, when he had least reason to expect it, was placed at the head of a thousand Spaniards, ready to follow wherever he should lead them. Whoever reflects upon the facility with which this victory was obtained, or considers with what sudden and unanimous transition the followers Edition: current; Page: [81] of Narvaez ranged themselves under the standard of his rival, will be apt to ascribe both events as much to the intrigues as to the arms of Cortes, and cannot but suspect that the ruin of Narvaez was occasioned no less by the treachery of his own followers, than by the valour of the enemy.y

The Mexicans take arms against the Spaniards.But, in one point, the prudent conduct and good fortune of Cortes were equally conspicuous. If, by the rapidity of his operations after he began his march, he had not brought matters to such a speedy issue, even this decisive victory would have come too late to have saved his companions whom he left in Mexico. A few days after the discomfiture of Narvaez, a courier arrived with an account that the Mexicans had taken arms, and, having seized and destroyed the two brigantines, which Cortes had built in order to secure the command of the lake, and attacked the Spaniards in their quarters, had killed several of them, and wounded more, had reduced to ashes their magazine of provisions, and carried on hostilities with such fury, that, though Alvarado and his men defended themselves with undaunted resolution, they must either be soon cut off by famine, or sink under the multitude of their enemies. This revolt was excited by motives which rendered it still more alarming. On the departure of Cortes for Zempoalla, the Mexicans flattered themselves, that the long-expected opportunity of restoring their sovereign to liberty, and of vindicating their country from the odious dominion of strangers, was at length arrived; that while the forces of their oppressors were divided, and the arms of one party turned against the other, they might triumph with greater facility over both. Consultations were held, and schemes formed with this intention. The Spaniards in Mexico, conscious of Edition: current; Page: [82] their own feebleness, suspected and dreaded those machinations. Alvarado, though a gallant officer, possessed neither that extent of capacity, nor dignity of manners, by which Cortes had acquired such an ascendant over the minds of the Mexicans, as never allowed them to form a just estimate of his weakness or of their own strength. Alvarado knew no mode of supporting his authority but force. Instead of employing address to disconcert the plans, or to soothe the spirits of the Mexicans, he waited the return of one of their solemn festivals, when the principal persons in the empire were dancing, according to custom, in the court of the great temple; he seized all the avenues which led to it, and, allured partly by the rich ornaments which they wore in honour of their gods, and partly by the facility of cutting off at once the authors of that conspiracy which he dreaded, he fell upon them, unarmed and unsuspicious of any danger, and massacred a great number, none escaping but such as made their way over the battlements of the temple. An action so cruel and treacherous filled not only the city, but the whole empire with indignation and rage. All called aloud for vengeance; and regardless of the safety of their monarch, whose life was at the mercy of the Spaniards, or of their own danger in assaulting an enemy who had been so long the object of their terror, they committed all those acts of violence of which Cortes received an account.

He marches back to the capital.To him the danger appeared so imminent, as to admit neither of deliberation nor delay. He set out instantly with all his forces, and returned from Zempoalla with no less rapidity than he had advanced thither. At Tlascala he was joined by two thousand chosen warriors. On entering the Mexican territories, he found that disaffection to the Spaniards was not confined to the capital. The principal inhabitants Edition: current; Page: [83] had deserted the towns through which he passed; no person of note appearing to meet him with the usual respect; no provision was made for the subsistence of his troops; and though he was permitted to advance without opposition, the solitude and silence which reigned in every place, and the horror with which the people avoided all intercourse with him, discovered a deep-rooted antipathy, that excited the most just alarm. But implacable as the enmity of the Mexicans was, they were so unacquainted with the science of war, that they knew not how to take the proper measures, either for their own safety or the destruction of the Spaniards. Uninstructed by their former error in admitting a formidable enemy into their capital, instead of breaking down the causeways and bridges, by which they might have inclosed Alvarado and his party, and have effectually stopped the career of Cortes,June 24. they again suffered him to march into the city without molestation, and to take quiet possession of his ancient station.

Improper conduct of Cortes.The transports of joy with which Alvarado and his soldiers received their companions cannot be expressed. Both parties were so much elated, the one with their seasonable deliverance, and the other with the great exploits which they had achieved, that this intoxication of success seems to have reached Cortes himself; and he behaved on this occasion neither with his usual sagacity nor attention. He not only neglected to visit Montezuma, but embittered the insult by expressions full of contempt for that unfortunate prince and his people. The forces of which he had now the command appeared to him so irresistible, that he might assume a higher tone, and lay aside the mask of moderation, under which he had hitherto concealed his designs. Some Mexicans, understood the Spanish language, heard the contemptuous words which Cortes uttered, and, reporting Edition: current; Page: [84] them to their countrymen, kindled their rage anew. They were now convinced that the intentions of the general were equally bloody with those of Alvarado, and that his original purpose in visiting their country, had not been, as he pretended, to court the alliance of their sovereign, but to attempt the conquest of his dominions.The violent hostility of the Mexicans. They resumed their arms with the additional fury which this discovery inspired, attacked a considerable body of Spaniards who were marching towards the great square in which the public market was held, and compelled them to retire with some loss. Emboldened by this success, and delighted to find that their oppressors were not invincible, they advanced next day, with extraordinary martial pomp, to assault the Spaniards in their quarters. Their number was formidable, and their undaunted courage still more so. Though the artillery pointed against their numerous battalions, crowded together in narrow streets, swept off multitudes at every discharge; though every blow of the Spanish weapons fell with mortal effect upon their naked bodies, the impetuosity of the assault did not abate. Fresh men rushed forward to occupy the places of the slain, and, meeting with the same fate, were succeeded by others no less intrepid and eager for vengeance. The utmost efforts of Cortes’ abilities and experience, seconded by the disciplined valour of his troops, were hardly sufficient to defend the fortifications, that surrounded the post where the Spaniards were stationed, into which the enemy were more than once on the point of forcing their way.

Distress of the Spaniards.Cortes beheld, with wonder, the implacable ferocity of a people who seemed, at first, to submit tamely to the yoke, and had continued so long passive under it. The soldiers of Narvaez, who fondly imagined that they followed Cortes to share in the spoils of a conquered empire, were astonished to find that they were Edition: current; Page: [85] involved in a dangerous war, with an enemy whose vigour was still unbroken, and loudly execrated their own weakness, in giving such easy credit to the delusive promises of their new leader.z But surprise and complaints were of no avail. Some immediate and extraordinary effort was requisite to extricate themselves out of their present situation. As soon as the approach of evening induced the Mexicans to retire, in compliance with their national custom of ceasing from hostilities with the setting sun, Cortes began to prepare for a sally next day, with such a considerable force as might either drive the enemy out of the city, or compel them to listen to terms of accommodation.

Cortes attacks them without success.He conducted, in person, the troops destined for this important service. Every invention known in the European art of war, as well as every precaution suggested by his long acquaintance with the Indian mode of fighting, were employed to ensure success. But he found an enemy prepared and determined to oppose him. The force of the Mexicans was greatly augmented by fresh troops, which poured in continually from the country, and their animosity was in no degree abated. They were led by their nobles, inflamed by the exhortations of their priests, and fought in defence of their temples and families, under the eye of their gods, and in presence of their wives and children. Notwithstanding their numbers, and enthusiastic contempt of danger and death, wherever the Spaniards could close with them, the superiority of their discipline and arms obliged the Mexicans to give way. But in narrow streets, and where many of the bridges of communication were broken down, the Spaniards could seldom come to a fair rencounter with the enemy, and, as they advanced, were exposed to showers of arrows and stones from the tops of the houses. Edition: current; Page: [86] After a day of incessant exertion, though vast numbers of the Mexicans fell, and part of the city was burnt, the Spaniards, weary with the slaughter, and harassed by multitudes which successively relieved each other, were obliged at length to retire, with the mortification of having accomplished nothing so decisive as to compensate the unusual calamity of having twelve soldiers killed, and above sixty wounded. Another sally, made with greater force, was not more effectual, and in it the general himself was wounded in the hand.

Montezuma slain.Cortes now perceived, too late, the fatal error into which he had been betrayed by his own contempt of the Mexicans, and was satisfied that he could neither maintain his present station in the centre of an hostile city, nor retire from it without the most imminent danger. One resource still remained; to try what effect the interposition of Montezuma might have to soothe or overawe his subjects. When the Mexicans approached next morning to renew the assault, that unfortunate prince, at the mercy of the Spaniards, and reduced to the sad necessity of becoming the instrument of his own disgrace, and of the slavery of his peoplea, advanced to the battlements in his royal robes, and with all the pomp in which he used to appear on solemn occasions. At sight of their sovereign, whom they had long been accustomed to honour, and almost to revere as a god, the weapons dropped from their hands, every tongue was silent, all bowed their heads, and many prostrated themselves on the ground. Montezuma addressed them with every argument that could mitigate their rage, or persuade them to cease from hostilities. When he ended his discourse, a sullen murmur of disapprobation ran through the ranks; to this succeeded reproaches and threats; and the fury of the multitude rising in a moment above Edition: current; Page: [87] every restraint of decency or respect, flights of arrows and volleys of stones poured in so violently upon the ramparts, that before the Spanish soldiers appointed to cover Montezuma with their bucklers had time to lift them in his defence, two arrows wounded the unhappy monarch, and the blow of a stone on his temple struck him to the ground. On seeing him fall, the Mexicans were so much astonished, that, with a transition not uncommon in popular tumults, they passed in a moment from one extreme to the other, remorse succeeded to insult, and they fled with horror, as if the vengeance of heaven were pursuing the crime which they had committed. The Spaniards, without molestation, carried Montezuma to his apartments, and Cortes hastened thither to console him under his misfortune. But the unhappy monarch now perceived how low he was sunk; and, the haughty spirit which seemed to have been so long extinct, returning, he scorned to survive this last humiliation, and to protract an ignominious life, not only as the prisoner and tool of his enemies, but as the object of contempt or detestation among his subjects. In a transport of rage, he tore the bandages from his wounds, and refused, with such obstinacy, to take any nourishment, that he soon ended his wretched days, rejecting with disdain all the solicitations of the Spaniards to embrace the Christian faith.

New conflicts.Upon the death of Montezuma, Cortes having lost all hope of bringing the Mexicans to an accommodation, saw no prospect of safety but in attempting a retreat, and began to prepare for it. But a sudden motion of the Mexicans engaged him in new conflicts. They took possession of a high tower in the great temple which overlooked the Spanish quarters, and placing there a garrison of their principal warriors, not a Spaniard could stir without being exposed to their missile weapons. From this post it was necessary Edition: current; Page: [88] to dislodge them at any risk; and Juan de Escobar, with a numerous detachment of chosen soldiers, was ordered to make the attack. But Escobar, though a gallant officer, and at the head of troops accustomed to conquer, and who now fought under the eyes of their countrymen, was thrice repulsed. Cortes, sensible that not only the reputation, but the safety of his army depended on the success of this assault, ordered a buckler to be tied to his arm, as he could not manage it with his wounded hand, and rushed with his drawn sword into the thickest of the combatants. Encouraged by the presence of their general, the Spaniards returned to the charge with such vigour, that they gradually forced their way up the steps, and drove the Mexicans to the platform at the top of the tower. There a dreadful carnage began, when two young Mexicans of high rank, observing Cortes as he animated his soldiers by his voice and example, resolved to sacrifice their own lives in order to cut off the author of all the calamities which desolated their country. They approached him in a supplicant posture, as if they had intended to lay down their arms, and, seizing him in a moment, hurried him towards the battlements, over which they threw themselves headlong, in hopes of dragging him along, to be dashed in pieces by the same fall. But Cortes, by his strength and agility, broke loose from their grasp, and the gallant youths perished in this generous, though unsuccessful, attempt to save their country.b As soon as the Spaniards became masters of the tower, they set fire to it, and, without farther molestation, continued the preparations for their retreat.

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The Spaniards abandon the city.This became the more necessary, as the Mexicans were so much astonished at the last effort of the Spanish valour, that they began to change their whole system of hostility, and, instead of incessant attacks, endeavoured, by barricading the streets, and breaking down the causeways, to cut off the communication of the Spaniards with the continent, and thus to starve an enemy whom they could not subdue. The first point to be determined by Cortes and his followers was, whether they should march out openly in the face of day, when they could discern every danger, and see how to regulate their own motions, as well as how to resist the assaults of the enemy; or, whether they should endeavour to retire secretly in the night? The latter was preferred, partly from hopes that their national superstition would restrain the Mexicans from venturing to attack them in the night, and partly from their own fond belief in the predictions of a private soldier, who, having acquired universal credit by a smattering of learning, and his pretensions to astrology, boldly assured his countrymen of success, if they made their retreat in this manner. They began to move, towards midnight, in three divisions. Sandoval led the van; Pedro Alvarado, and Velasquez de Leon, had the conduct of the rear; and Cortes commanded in the centre, where he placed the prisoners, among whom were a son and two daughters of Montezuma, together with several Mexicans of distinction, the artillery, the baggage, and a portable bridge of timber, intended to be laid over the breaches in the causeway. They marched in profound silence along the causeway which led to Tacuba, because it was shorter than any of the rest, and lying most remote from the road towards Tlascala and the sea-coast, had been left more entire by the Mexicans. They reached the first breach in it without Edition: current; Page: [90] molestation, hoping that their retreat was undiscovered.

Attacked by the Mexicans.But the Mexicans, unperceived, had not only watched all their motions with attention, but had made proper dispositions for a most formidable attack. While the Spaniards were intent upon placing their bridge in the breach, and occupied in conducting their horses and artillery along it, they were suddenly alarmed with a tremendous sound of warlike instruments, and a general shout from an innumerable multitude of enemies; the lake was covered with canoes; flights of arrows and showers of stones poured in upon them from every quarter; the Mexicans rushing forward to the charge with fearless impetuosity, as if they hoped in that moment to be avenged for all their wrongs. Unfortunately, the wooden bridge, by the weight of the artillery, was wedged so fast into the stones and mud, that it was impossible to remove it. Dismayed at this accident, the Spaniards advanced with precipitation towards the second breach. The Mexicans hemmed them in on every side, and though they defended themselves with their usual courage, yet, crowded together as they were on a narrow causeway, their discipline and military skill were of little avail, nor did the obscurity of the night permit them to derive great advantage from their fire-arms, or the superiority of their other weapons. All Mexico was now in arms; and, so eager were the people on the destruction of their oppressors, that they who were not near enough to annoy them in person, impatient of the delay, pressed forward with such ardour, as drove on their countrymen in the front with irresistible violence. Fresh warriors instantly filled the place of such as fell. The Spaniards, weary with slaughter, and unable to sustain the weight of the torrent that poured in upon them, began to give way. In a moment the confusion was universal; Edition: current; Page: [91] horse and foot, officers and soldiers, friends and enemies, were mingled together; and while all fought, and many fell, they could hardly distinguish from what hand the blow came.

Their disasters,Cortes, with about a hundred foot soldiers and a few horse, forced his way over the two remaining breaches in the causeway, the bodies of the dead serving to fill up the chasms, and reached the main land. Having formed them as soon as they arrived, he returned with such as were yet capable of service, to assist his friends in their retreat, and to encourage them, by his presence and example, to persevere in the efforts requisite to effect it. He met with part of his soldiers, who had broke through the enemy, but found many more overwhelmed by the multitude of their aggressors, or perishing in the lake; and heard the piteous lamentations of others, whom the Mexicans, having taken alive, were carrying off in triumph to be sacrificed to the god of war. Before day, all who had escaped assembled at Tacuba. But, when the morning dawned, and discovered to the view of Cortes his shattered battalion, reduced to less than half its number, the survivors dejected, and most of them covered with wounds, the thoughts of what they had suffered, and the remembrance of so many faithful friends and gallant followers who had fallen in that night of sorrowc, pierced his soul with such anguish, that while he was forming their ranks, and issuing some necessary orders, his soldiers observed the tears trickling from his eyes, and remarked, with much satisfaction, that while attentive to the duties of a general, he was not insensible to the feelings of a man.

and loss.In this fatal retreat many officers of distinction perishedd, and among these Velasquez de Leon, who Edition: current; Page: [92] having forsaken the party of his kinsman, the governor of Cuba, to follow the fortune of his companions, was, on that account, as well as for his superior merit, respected by them as the second person in the army. All the artillery, ammunition, and baggage, were lost; the greater part of the horses, and above two thousand Tlascalans, were killed, and only a very small portion of the treasure which they had amassed was saved. This, which had been always their chief object, proved a great cause of their calamity; for many of the soldiers having so overloaded themselves with bars of gold as rendered them unfit for action, and retarded their flight, fell, ignominiously, the victims of their own inconsiderate avarice. Amidst so many disasters, it was some consolation to find that Aguilar and Marina, whose function as interpreters was of such essential importance, had made their escape.e

Difficult retreat of the Spaniards.The first care of Cortes was to find some shelter for his wearied troops; for, as the Mexicans infested them on every side, and the people of Tacuba began to take arms, he could not continue in his present station. He directed his march towards the rising ground, and, having fortunately discovered a temple situated on an eminence, took possession of it. There he found not only the shelter for which he wished, but, what what was no less wanted, some provisions to refresh his men; and though the enemy did not intermit their attacks throughout the day, they were with less difficulty prevented from making any impression. During this time Cortes was engaged in deep consultation with his officers, concerning the route which they ought to take in their retreat. They were now on the west side of the lake. Tlascala, the only place where they could hope for a friendly reception, Edition: current; Page: [93] lay about sixty-four miles to the east of Mexicof; so that they were obliged to go round the north end of the lake before they could fall into the road which led thither. A Tlascalan soldier undertook to be their guide, and conducted them through a country, in some places marshy, in others mountainous, in all ill-cultivated and thinly peopled. They marched for six days with little respite, and under continual alarms, numerous bodies of the Mexicans hovering around them, sometimes harassing them at a distance with their missile weapons, and sometimes attacking them closely in front, in rear, in flank, with great boldness, as they now knew that they were not invincible. Nor were the fatigue and danger of those incessant conflicts the worst evils to which they were exposed. As the barren country through which they passed afforded hardly any provisions, they were reduced to feed on berries, roots, and the stalks of green maize; and at the very time that famine was depressing their spirits and wasting their strength, their situation required the most vigorous and unremitting exertions of courage and activity. Amidst those complicated distresses, one circumstance supported and animated the Spaniards. Their commander sustained this sad reverse of fortune with unshaken magnanimity. His presence of mind never forsook him; his sagacity foresaw every event, and his vigilance provided for it. He was foremost in every danger, and endured every hardship with cheerfulness. The difficulties with which he was surrounded seemed to call forth new talents; and his soldiers, though despairing themselves, continued to follow him with increasing confidence in his abilities.

Battle of Otumba.On the sixth day they arrived near to Otumba, not far from the road between Mexico and Tlascala. Edition: current; Page: [94] Early next morning they began to advance towards it, flying parties of the enemy still hanging on their rear; and, amidst the insults with which they accompanied their hostilities, Marina remarked that they often exclaimed with exultation, “Go on, robbers; go to the place where you shall quickly meet the vengeance due to your crimes.” The meaning of this threat the Spaniards did not comprehend, until they reached the summit of an eminence before them. There a spacious valley opened to their view, covered with a vast army, extending as far as the eye could reach. The Mexicans, while with one body of their troops they harassed the Spaniards in their retreat, had assembled their principal force on the other side of the lake; and marching along the road which led directly to Tlascala, posted it in the plain of Otumba, through which they knew Cortes must pass. At the sight of this incredible multitude, which they could survey at once from the rising ground, the Spaniards were astonished, and even the boldest began to despair. But Cortes, without allowing leisure for their fears to acquire strength by reflection, after warning them briefly that no alternative now remained but to conquer or to die, led them instantly to the charge. The Mexicans waited their approach with unusual fortitude. Such, however, was the superiority of the Spanish discipline and arms, that the impression of this small body was irresistible; and whichever way its force was directed, it penetrated and dispersed the most numerous battalions. But while these gave way in one quarter, new combatants advanced from another, and the Spaniards, though successful in every attack, were ready to sink under those repeated efforts, without seeing any end of their toil, or any hope of victory. At that time Cortes observed the great standard of the empire, which was carried before the Mexican general, advancing; and fortunately recollecting to Edition: current; Page: [95] have heard, that on the fate of it depended the event of every battle, he assembled a few of his bravest officers, whose horses were still capable of service, and placing himself at their head, pushed forward towards the standard with an impetuosity which bore down every thing before it. A chosen body of nobles, who guarded the standard, made some resistance, but were soon broken. Cortes with a stroke of his lance, wounded the Mexican general, and threw him to the ground. One of the Spanish officers alighting, put an end to his life, and laid hold of the imperial standard. The moment that their leader fell, and the standard, towards which all directed their eyes, disappeared, an universal panic struck the Mexicans, and, as if the bond which held them together had been dissolved, every ensign was lowered, each soldier threw away his weapons, and all fled with precipitation to the mountains. The Spaniards, unable to pursue them far, returned to collect the spoils of the field, which were so valuable, as to be some compensation for the wealth which they had lost in Mexico; for in the enemy’s army were most of their principal warriors, dressed out in their richest ornaments, as if they had been marching to assured victory. Next day, to their great joy, they entered the Tlascalan territories.g

July 8.But, amidst their satisfaction in having got beyond the precincts of an hostile country,Reception of the Spaniards in Tlascala. they could not look forward without solicitude, as they were still uncertain what reception they might meet with from allies, to whom they returned in a condition very different from that in which they had lately set out from their dominions. Happily for them, the enmity of the Tlascalans to the Mexican name was so inveterate, their desire to avenge the death of their countrymen so vehement, and the ascendant which Cortes had Edition: current; Page: [96] acquired over the chiefs of the republic so complete, that, far from entertaining a thought of taking any advantage of the distressed situation in which they beheld the Spaniards, they received them with a tenderness and cordiality which quickly dissipated all their suspicions.

New deliberations of Cortes.Some interval of tranquillity and indulgence was now absolutely necessary; not only that the Spaniards might give attention to the cure of their wounds, which had been too long neglected, but in order to recruit their strength, exhausted by such a long succession of fatigue and hardships. During this, Cortes learned that he and his companions were not the only Spaniards who had felt the effects of the Mexican enmity. A considerable detachment which was marching from Zempoalla towards the capital, had been cut off by the people of Tepeaca. A smaller party, returning from Tlascala to Vera Cruz, with the share of the Mexican gold allotted to the garrison, had been surprised and destroyed in the mountains. At a juncture when the life of every Spaniard was of importance, such losses were deeply felt. The schemes which Cortes was meditating rendered them peculiarly afflictive to him. While his enemies, and even many of his own followers, considered the disasters which had befallen him as fatal to the progress of his arms, and imagined that nothing now remained but speedily to abandon a country which he had invaded with unequal force, his mind, as eminent for perseverance as for enterprise, was still bent on accomplishing his original purpose, of subjecting the Mexican empire to the crown of Castile. Severe and unexpected as the check was which he had received, it did not appear to him a sufficient reason for relinquishing the conquests which he had already made, or against resuming his operations with better hopes of success. The colony at Vera Cruz was not only safe, but had remained unmolested. Edition: current; Page: [97] The people of Zempoalla and the adjacent districts had discovered no symptoms of defection. The Tlascalans continued faithful to their alliance. On their martial spirit, easily roused to arms, and inflamed with implacable hatred of the Mexicans, Cortes depended for powerful aid. He had still the command of a body of Spaniards, equal in number to that with which he had opened his way into the centre of the empire, and had taken possession of the capital; so that with the benefit of greater experience, as well as more perfect knowledge of the country, he did not despair of quickly recovering all that he had been deprived of by untoward events.

The measures he takes.Full of this idea, he courted the Tlascalan chiefs with such attention, and distributed among them so liberally the rich spoils of Otumba, that he was secure of obtaining whatever he should require of the republic. He drew a small supply of ammunition and two or three field-pieces from his stores at Vera Cruz. He dispatched an officer of confidence with four ships of Narvaez’s fleet to Hispaniola and Jamaica, to engage adventurers, and to purchase horses, gunpowder, and other military stores. As he knew that it would be vain to attempt the reduction of Mexico, unless he could secure the command of the lake, he gave orders to prepare, in the mountains of Tlascala, materials for building twelve brigantines, so as they might be carried thither in pieces ready to be put together, and launched when he stood in need of their service.h

Mutinous spirit of his troops.But while, with provident attention, he was taking those necessary steps towards the execution of his measures, an obstacle arose in a quarter where it was least expected, but most formidable. The spirit of discontent and mutiny broke out in his own army. Many of Narvaez’s followers were planters rather than soldiers, and had accompanied him to New Spain with Edition: current; Page: [98] sanguine hopes of obtaining settlements, but with little inclination to engage in the hardships and dangers of war. As the same motives had induced them to enter into their new engagements with Cortes, they no sooner became acquainted with the nature of the service, than they bitterly repented of their choice. Such of them as had the good fortune to survive the perilous adventures in which their own imprudence had involved them, happy in having made their escape, trembled at the thoughts of being exposed a second time to similar calamities. As soon as they discovered the intention of Cortes, they began secretly to murmur and cabal, and waxing gradually more audacious, they, in a body, offered a remonstrance to their general against the imprudence of attacking a powerful empire with his shattered forces, and formally required him to lead them back directly to Cuba. Though Cortes, long practised in the arts of command, employed arguments, entreaties, and presents, to convince or to soothe them; though his own soldiers, animated with the spirit of their leader, warmly seconded his endeavours; he found their fears too violent and deep-rooted to be removed, and the utmost he could effect was to prevail with them to defer their departure for some time, on a promise that he would, at a more proper juncture, dismiss such as should desire it.

Means he employs to revive their confidence.That the malecontents might have no leisure to brood over the causes of their disaffection, he resolved instantly to call forth his troops into action. He proposed to chastise the people of Tepeaca for the outrage which they had committed; and, as the detachment which they had cut off happened to be composed mostly of soldiers who had served under Narvaez, their companions, from the desire of vengeance, engaged the more willingly in this war.August. He took the command in person, accompanied by a numerous body of Tlascalans, and in the space of a few weeks, Edition: current; Page: [99] after various encounters, with great slaughter of the Tepeacans, reduced that province to subjection. During several months, while he waited for the supplies of men and ammunition which he expected, and was carrying on his preparations for constructing the brigantines, he kept his troops constantly employed in various expeditions against the adjacent provinces, all of which were conducted with an uniform tenour of success. By these, his men became again accustomed to victory, and resumed their wonted sense of superiority; the Mexican power was weakened; the Tlascalan warriors acquired the habit of acting in conjunction with the Spaniards; and the chiefs of the republic delighted to see their country enriched with the spoils of all the people around them, and astonished every day with fresh discoveries of the irresistible prowess of their allies, declined no effort requisite to support them.

Strengthened by several reinforcements.All those preparatory arrangements, however, though the most prudent and efficacious which the situation of Cortes allowed him to make, would have been of little avail, without a reinforcement of Spanish soldiers. Of this he was so deeply sensible, that it was the chief object of his thoughts and wishes; and yet his only prospect of obtaining it from the return of the officer whom he had sent to the isles to solicit aid, was both distant and uncertain. But what neither his own sagacity nor power could have procured, he owed to a series of fortunate and unforeseen incidents. The governor of Cuba, to whom the success of Narvaez appeared an event of infallible certainty, having sent two small ships after him with new instructions, and a supply of men and military stores, the officer whom Cortes had appointed to command on the coast, artfully decoyed them into the harbour of Vera Cruz, seized the vessels, and easily persuaded the soldiers to follow the standard of a more able leader than him Edition: current; Page: [100] whom they were destined to join.i Soon after, three ships of more considerable force came into the harbour separately. These belonged to an armament fitted out by Francisco de Garay, governor of Jamaica, who, being possessed with the rage of discovery and conquest which animated every Spaniard settled in America, had long aimed at intruding into some district of New Spain, and dividing with Cortes the glory and gain of annexing that empire to the crown of Castile. They unadvisedly made their attempt on the northern provinces, where the country was poor, and the people fierce and warlike; and after a cruel succession of disasters, famine compelled them to venture into Vera Cruz, and cast themselves upon the mercy of their countrymen.October 28. Their fidelity was not proof against the splendid hopes and promises which had seduced other adventurers; and, as if the spirit of revolt had been contagious in New Spain, they likewise abandoned the master whom they were bound to serve, and enlisted under Cortes.k Nor was it America alone that furnished such unexpected aid. A ship arrived from Spain, freighted by some private merchants with military stores, in hopes of a profitable market in a country, the fame of whose opulence began to spread over Europe. Cortes eagerly purchased a cargo which to him was invaluable, and the crew, following the general example, joined him at Tlascala.l

From those various quarters, the army of Cortes was augmented with a hundred and eighty men, and twenty horses, a reinforcement too inconsiderable to produce any consequence which would entitle it to have been mentioned in the history of other parts of the globe. But in that of America, where great revolutions were brought about by causes which seemed to bear no proportion to their effects, such Edition: current; Page: [101] small events rise into importance, because they were sufficient to decide with respect to the fate of kingdoms. Nor is it the least remarkable instance of the singular felicity conspicuous in many passages of Cortes’ story, that the two persons chiefly instrumental in furnishing him with those seasonable supplies, should be an avowed enemy who aimed at his destruction, and an envious rival who wished to supplant him.

Number of his forces.The first effect of the junction with his new followers was to enable him to dismiss such of Narvaez’s soldiers as remained with reluctance in his service. After their departure, he still mustered five hundred and fifty infantry, of which fourscore were armed with muskets or cross-bows, forty horsemen, and a train of nine field-pieces.m At the head of these, accompanied by ten thousand Tlascalans and other friendly Indians, Cortes began his march towards Mexico, on the twenty-eighth of December, six months after his disastrous retreat from that city.n

Preparations of the Mexicans for their defence.Nor did he advance to attack an enemy unprepared to receive him. Upon the death of Montezuma, the Mexican chiefs, in whom the right of electing the emperor was vested, had instantly raised his brother, Quetlavaca, to the throne. His avowed and inveterate enmity to the Spaniards would have been sufficient to gain their suffrages, although he had been less distinguished for courage and capacity. He had an immediate opportunity of showing that he was worthy of their choice, by conducting, in person, those fierce attacks which compelled the Spaniards to abandon his capital; and, as soon as their retreat afforded him any respite from action, he took measures for preventing their return to Mexico, with prudence equal to the spirit which he had displayed Edition: current; Page: [102] in driving them out of it. As, from the vicinity of Tlascala, he could not be unacquainted with the motions and intentions of Cortes, he observed the storm that was gathering, and began early to provide against it. He repaired what the Spaniards had ruined in the city, and strengthened it with such new fortifications as the skill of his subjects was capable of erecting. Besides filling his magazines with the usual weapons of war, he gave directions to make long spears headed with the swords and daggers taken from the Spaniards, in order to annoy the cavalry. He summoned the people in every province of the empire to take arms against their oppressors; and, as an encouragement to exert themselves with vigour, he promised them exemption from all the taxes which his predecessors had imposed.o But what he laboured with the greatest earnestness was, to deprive the Spaniards of the advantages which they derived from the friendship of the Tlascalans, by endeavouring to persuade that people to renounce all connection with men, who were not only avowed enemies of the gods whom they worshipped, but who would not fail to subject them at last to the same yoke, which they were now inconsiderately lending their aid to impose upon others. These representations, no less striking than well founded, were urged so forcibly by his ambassadors, that it required all the address of Cortes to prevent their making a dangerous impression.p

But while Quetlavaca was arranging his plan of defence, with a degree of foresight uncommon in an American, his days were cut short by the small-pox. This distemper, which raged at that time in New Spain with fatal malignity, was unknown in that quarter of the globe, until it was introduced by the Europeans, and may be reckoned among the greatest Edition: current; Page: [103] calamities brought upon them by their invaders. In his stead the Mexicans raised to the throne Guatimozin, nephew and son-in-law of Montezuma, a young man of such high reputation for abilities and valour, that, in this dangerous crisis, his countrymen, with one voice, called him to the supreme command.q

1521.As soon as Cortes entered the enemy’s territories,Cortes advances towards Mexico. he discovered various preparations to obstruct his progress. But his troops forced their way with little difficulty, and took possession of Tezeuco, the second city of the empire, situated on the banks of the lake about twenty miles from Mexico.r Here he determined to establish his head-quarters, as the most proper station for launching his brigantines, as well as for making his approaches to the capital. In order to render his residence there more secure, he deposed the cazique or chief, who was at the head of that community, under pretext of some defect in his title, and substituted in his place a person whom a faction of the nobles pointed out as the right heir of that dignity. Attached to him by this benefit, the new cazique and his adherents served the Spaniards with inviolable fidelity.s

His operations slow and cautious.As the preparations for constructing the brigantines advanced slowly under the unskilful hands of soldiers and Indians, whom Cortes was obliged to employ in assisting three or four carpenters who happened fortunately to be in his service, and as he had not yet received the reinforcement which he expected from Hispaniola, he was not in a condition to turn his arms directly against the capital. To have attacked, at this period, a city so populous, so well prepared for defence, and in a situation of such peculiar strength, must have exposed his troops to inevitable destruction. Edition: current; Page: [104] Three months elapsed before the materials for the brigantines were finished, and before he heard any thing with respect to the success of the officer whom he had sent to Hispaniola. This, however, was not a season of inaction to Cortes. He attacked successively several of the towns situated around the lake; and, though all the Mexican power was exerted to obstruct his operations, he either compelled them to submit to the Spanish crown, or reduced them to ruins. The inhabitants of other towns he endeavoured to conciliate by more gentle means; and, though he could not hold any intercourse with them but by the intervention of interpreters, yet, under all the disadvantage of that tedious and imperfect mode of communication, he had acquired such thorough knowledge of the state of the country, as well as of the dispositions of the people, that he conducted his negotiations and intrigues with astonishing dexterity and success. Most of the cities adjacent to Mexico were originally the capitals of small independent states; and some of them having been but lately annexed to the Mexican empire, still retained the remembrance of their ancient liberty, and bore with impatience the rigorous yoke of their new masters. Cortes having early observed symptoms of their disaffection, availed himself of this knowledge to gain their confidence and friendship. By offering with confidence to deliver them from the odious dominion of the Mexicans, and by liberal promises of more indulgent treatment, if they would unite with him against their oppressors, he prevailed on the people of several considerable districts, not only to acknowledge the King of Castile as their sovereign, but to supply the Spanish camp with provisions, and to strengthen his army with auxiliary troops. Guatimozin, on the first appearance of defection among his subjects, exerted himself with vigour to prevent or to punish their Edition: current; Page: [105] revolt; but, in spite of his efforts, the spirit continued to spread. The Spaniards gradually acquired new allies, and with deep concern he beheld Cortes arming against his empire those very hands which ought to have been active in its defence; and ready to advance against the capital at the head of a numerous body of his own subjects.t

While, by those various methods, Cortes was gradually circumscribing the Mexican power in such a manner that his prospect of overturning it seemed neither to be uncertain nor remote, all his schemes were well nigh defeated, by a conspiracy no less unexpected than dangerous. The soldiers of Narvaez had never united perfectly with the original companions of Cortes, nor did they enter into his measures with the same cordial zeal. Upon every occasion that required any extraordinary effort of courage or of patience, their spirits were apt to sink; and now, on a near view of what they had to encounter, in attempting to reduce a city so inaccessible as Mexico, and defended by a numerous army, the resolution even of those among them who had adhered to Cortes when he was deserted by their associates, began to fail. Their fears led them to presumptuous and unsoldier-like discussions concerning the propriety of their general’s measures, and the improbability of their success. From these they proceeded to censure and invectives, and at last began to deliberate how they might provide for their own safety, of which they deemed their commander to be totally negligent. Antonio Villefaña, a private soldier, but bold, intriguing, and strongly attached to Velasquez, artfully fomented this growing spirit of disaffection. His quarters became the rendezvous of the malecontents, where, after many consultations, they could discover Edition: current; Page: [106] no method of checking Cortes in his career but by assassinating him and his most considerable officers, and conferring the command upon some person who would relinquish his wild plans, and adopt measures more consistent with the general security. Despair inspired them with courage. The hour for perpetrating the crime, the persons whom they destined as victims, the officers to succeed them in command, were all named; and the conspirators signed an association, by which they bound themselves, with most solemn oaths, to mutual fidelity. But, on the evening before the appointed day, one of Cortes’ ancient followers, who had been seduced into the conspiracy, touched with compunction at the imminent danger of a man whom he had long been accustomed to revere, or struck with horror at his own treachery, went privately to his general, and revealed to him all that he knew. Cortes, though deeply alarmed, discerned at once what conduct was proper in a situation so critical. He repaired instantly to Villefaña’s quarters, accompanied by some of his most trusty officers. The astonishment and confusion of the man at this unexpected visit anticipated the confession of his guilt. Cortes, while his attendants seized the traitor, snatched from his bosom a paper containing the association, signed by the conspirators. Impatient to know how far the defection extended, he retired to read it, and found there names which filled him with surprise and sorrow. But, aware how dangerous a strict scrutiny might prove at such a juncture, he confined his judicial enquiries to Villefaña alone. As the proofs of his guilt were manifest, he was condemned after a short trial, and next morning he was seen hanging before the door of the house in which he had lodged. Cortes called his troops together, and having explained to them the atrocious purpose of the conspirators, as well as the justice of the punishment inflicted on Villefaña, Edition: current; Page: [107] he added, with an appearance of satisfaction, that he was entirely ignorant with respect to all the circumstances of this dark transaction, as the traitor, when arrested, had suddenly torn and swallowed a paper, which probably contained an account of it, and under the severest tortures possessed such constancy as to conceal the names of his accomplices. This artful declaration restored tranquillity to many a breast that was throbbing, while he spoke, with consciousness of guilt and dread of detection; and by this prudent moderation Cortes had the advantage of having discovered, and of being able to observe, such of his followers as were disaffected; while they, flattering themselves that their past crime was unknown, endeavoured to avert any suspicion of it, by redoubling their activity and zeal in his service.u

His singular preparations for building brigantines.Cortes did not allow them leisure to ruminate on what had happened; and, as the most effectual means of preventing the return of a mutinous spirit, he determined to call forth his troops immediately to action. Fortunately, a proper occasion for this occurred, without his seeming to court it. He received intelligence that the materials for building the brigantines were at length completely finished, and waited only for a body of Spaniards to conduct them to Tezeuco. The command of this convoy, consisting of two hundred foot soldiers, fifteen horsemen, and two field-pieces, he gave to Sandoval, who, by the vigilance, activity, and courage which he manifested on every occasion, was growing daily in his confidence, and in the estimation of his fellow-soldiers. The service was no less singular than important; the beams, the planks, the masts, the cordage, the sails, the iron-work, and all the infinite variety of articles requisite for the construction of thirteen brigantines, were to be carried sixty miles over land, through a Edition: current; Page: [108] mountainous country, by people who were unacquainted with the ministry of domestic animals, or the aid of machines, to facilitate any work of labour. The Tlascalans furnished eight thousand tamenes, an inferior order of men destined for servile tasks, to carry the materials on their shoulders, and appointed fifteen thousand warriors to accompany and defend them. Sandoval made the disposition for their progress with great propriety, placing the tamenes in the centre, one body of warriors in the front, another in the rear, with considerable parties to cover the flanks. To each of these he joined some Spaniards, not only to assist them in danger, but to accustom them to regularity and subordination. A body so numerous, and so much encumbered, advanced leisurely, but in excellent order; and in some places, where it was confined by the woods or mountains, the line of march extended above six miles. Parties of Mexicans frequently appeared hovering around them on the high grounds; but perceiving no prospect of success in attacking an enemy continually on his guard, and prepared to receive them, they did not venture to molest him; and Sandoval had the glory of conducting safely to Tezeuco a convoy, on which all the future operations of his countrymen depended.x

Receives a new reinforcement.This was followed by another event of no less moment. Four ships arrived at Vera Cruz from Hispaniola, with two hundred soldiers, eighty horses, two battering cannon, and a considerable supply of ammunition and arms.y Elevated with observing that all his preparatory schemes, either for recruiting his own army, or impairing the force of the enemy, had now produced their full effect, Cortes, impatient to begin the siege in form, hastened the launching of the brigantines. To facilitate this, he had employed Edition: current; Page: [109] a vast number of Indians, for two months, in deepening the small rivulet which runs by Tezeuco into the lake, and in forming it into a canal near two miles in lengthz; and though the Mexicans, aware of his intentions, as well as of the danger which threatened them, endeavoured frequently to interrupt the labourers, or to burn the brigantines, the work was at last completed.a On the twenty-eighth of April,The brigantines launched. all the Spanish troops, together with the auxiliary Indians, were drawn up on the banks of the canal; and, with extraordinary military pomp, rendered more solemn by the celebration of the most sacred rites of religion, the brigantines were launched. As they fell down the canal in order, Father Olmedo blessed them, and gave each its name. Every eye followed them with wonder and hope, until they entered the lake, when they hoisted their sails, and bore away before the wind. A general shout of joy was raised, all admiring that bold inventive genius which, by means so extraordinary that their success almost exceeded belief, had acquired the command of a fleet, without the aid of which Mexico would have continued to set the Spanish power and arms at defiance.b

Dispositions for the siege.Cortes determined to attack the city from three different quarters; from Tepeaca on the north side of the lake, from Tacuba on the west, and from Cuyocan towards the south. Those towns were situated on the principal causeways which led to the capital, and intended for their defence. He appointed Sandoval to command in the first, Pedro de Alvarado in the second, and Christoval de Olid in the third; allotting to each a numerous body of Indian auxiliaries, together with an equal division of Spaniards, who, by the junction of the troops from Hispaniola, Edition: current; Page: [110] amounted now to eighty-six horsemen, and eight hundred and eighteen foot soldiers; of whom one hundred and eighteen were armed with muskets or cross-bows. The train of artillery consisted of three battering cannon, and fifteen field-pieces.c He reserved for himself, as the station of greatest importance and danger, the conduct of the brigantines, each armed with one of his small cannon, and manned with twenty-five Spaniards.

May 10.As Alvarado and Olid proceeded towards the posts assigned them, they broke down the aqueducts which the ingenuity of the Mexicans had erected for conveying water into the capital, and by the distress to which this reduced the inhabitants, gave a beginning to the calamities which they were destined to suffer.d Alvarado and Olid found the towns of which they were ordered to take possession deserted by their inhabitants, who had fled for safety to the capital, where Guatimozin had collected the chief force of his empire, as there alone he could hope to make a successful stand against the formidable enemies who were approaching to assault him.

Mexicans attack the brigantines.The first effort of the Mexicans was to destroy the fleet of brigantines, the fatal effects of whose operations they foresaw and dreaded. Though the brigantines, after all the labour and merit of Cortes in forming them, were of inconsiderable bulk, rudely constructed, and manned chiefly with landsmen, hardly possessed of skill enough to conduct them, they must have been objects of terror to a people unacquainted with any navigation but that of their lake, and possessed of no vessel larger than a canoe. Necessity, however, urged Guatimozin to hazard the attack; and hoping to supply by numbers what he wanted in force, he assembled such a multitude of canoes as covered the Edition: current; Page: [111] face of the lake. They rowed on boldly to the charge, while the brigantines, retarded by a dead calm, could scarcely advance to meet them.Repulsed. But, as the enemy drew near, a breeze suddenly sprung up; in a moment the sails were spread, the brigantines, with the utmost ease, broke through their feeble opponents, overset many canoes, and dissipated the whole armament with such slaughter, as convinced the Mexicans, that the progress of the Europeans in knowledge and arts rendered their superiority greater on this new element, than they had hitherto found it by land.e

Singular plan of conducting the siege.From that time Cortes remained master of the lake, and the brigantines not only preserved a communication between the Spaniards in their different stations, though at considerable distance from each other, but were employed to cover the causeways on each side, and keep off the canoes, when they attempted to annoy the troops as they advanced towards the city. Cortes formed the brigantines in three divisions, appointing one to cover each of the stations from which an attack was to be carried on against the city, with orders to second the operations of the officer who commanded there. From all the three stations he pushed on the attack against the city with equal vigour; but in a manner so very different from the conduct of sieges in regular war, that he himself seems afraid it would appear no less improper than singular, to persons unacquainted with his situation.f Each morning his troops assaulted the barricades which the enemy had erected on the causeways, forced their way over the trenches which they had dug, and through the canals where the bridges were broken down, and endeavoured to penetrate into the heart of the city, in hopes of obtaining some decisive advantage, Edition: current; Page: [112] which might force the enemy to surrender, and terminate the war at once; but when the obstinate valour of the Mexicans rendered the efforts of the day ineffectual, the Spaniards retired in the evening to their former quarters. Thus their toil and danger were, in some measure, continually renewed; the Mexicans repairing in the night what the Spaniards had destroyed through the day, and recovering the posts from which they had driven them. But necessity prescribed this slow and untoward mode of operation. The number of his troops was so small, that Cortes durst not, with a handful of men, attempt to make a lodgment in a city where he might be surrounded and annoyed by such a multitude of enemies. The remembrance of what he had already suffered by the ill-judged confidence with which he had ventured into such a dangerous situation, was still fresh in his mind. The Spaniards, exhausted with fatigue, were unable to guard the various posts which they daily gained; and though their camp was filled with Indian auxiliaries, they durst not devolve this charge upon them, because they were so little accustomed to discipline, that no confidence could be placed in their vigilance. Besides this, Cortes was extremely solicitous to preserve the city as much as possible from being destroyed, both because he destined it to be the capital of his conquests, and wished that it might remain as a monument of his glory. From all these considerations, he adhered obstinately, for a month after the siege was opened, to the system which he had adopted. The Mexicans, in their own defence, displayed valour which was hardly inferior to that with which the Spaniards attacked them. On land, on water, by night and by day, one furious conflict succeeded to another. Several Spaniards were killed, more wounded, and all were ready to sink under the toils of unintermitting service, which were rendered Edition: current; Page: [113] more intolerable by the injuries of the season, the periodical rains being now set in with their usual violence.g

Endeavours to take the city by storm.Astonished and disconcerted with the length and difficulties of the siege, Cortes determined to make one great effort to get possession of the city, before he relinquished the plan which he had hitherto followed, and had recourse to any other mode of attack. With this view, he sent instructions to Alvarado and Sandoval to advance with their divisions to a general assault, and took the command in person of that posted on the causeway of Cuyocan.July 3. Animated by his presence, and the expectation of some decisive event, the Spaniards pushed forward with irresistible impetuosity. They broke through one barricade after another, forced their way over the ditches and canals, and, having entered the city, gained ground incessantly, in spite of the multitude and ferocity of their opponents. Cortes, though delighted with the rapidity of his progress, did not forget that he might still find it necessary to retreat; and in order to secure it, appointed Julian de Alderete, a captain of chief note in the troops which he had received from Hispaniola, to fill up the canals and gaps in the causeway as the main body advanced. That officer, deeming it inglorious to be thus employed, while his companions were in the heat of action and the career of victory, neglected the important charge committed to him, and hurried on inconsiderately, to mingle with the combatants. The Mexicans, whose military attention and skill were daily improving, no sooner observed this, than they carried an account of it to their monarch.

RepulsedGuatimozin instantly discerned the consequence of the error which the Spaniards had committed, and, with admirable presence of mind, prepared to take Edition: current; Page: [114] advantage of it. He commanded the troops posted in the front to slacken their efforts, in order to allure the Spaniards to push forward, while he dispatched a large body of chosen warriors through different streets, some by land, and others by water, towards the great breach in the causeway, which had been left open. On a signal which he gave, the priests in the principal temple struck the great drum consecrated to the god of war. No sooner did the Mexicans hear its doleful solemn sound, calculated to inspire them with contempt of death, and enthusiastic ardour, than they rushed upon the enemy with frantic rage. The Spaniards, unable to resist men urged on no less by religious fury than hope of success, began to retire, at first leisurely, and with a good countenance; but as the enemy pressed on, and their own impatience to escape increased, the terror and confusion became so general, that when they arrived at the gap in the causeway, Spaniards and Tlascalans, horsemen and infantry, plunged in promiscuously, while the Mexicans rushed upon them fiercely from every side, their light canoes carrying them through shoals which the brigantines could not approach. In vain did Cortes attempt to stop and rally his flying troops; fear rendered them regardless of his entreaties or commands. Finding all his endeavours to renew the combat fruitless, his next care was to save some of those who had thrown themselves into the water; but while thus employed, with more attention to their situation than to his own, six Mexican captains suddenly laid hold of him, and were hurrying him off in triumph; and though two of his officers rescued him at the expence of their own lives, he received several dangerous wounds before he could break loose.with considerable loss. Above sixty Spaniards perished in the rout; and what rendered the disaster more afflicting, forty of these fell alive Edition: current; Page: [115] into the hands of an enemy never known to shew mercy to a captive.h

Those who were taken sacrificed to the god of war.The approach of night, though it delivered the dejected Spaniards from the attacks of the enemy, ushered in, what was hardly less grievous, the noise of their barbarous triumph, and of the horrid festival with which they celebrated their victory. Every quarter of the city was illuminated; the great temple shone with such peculiar splendour, that the Spaniards could plainly see the people in motion, and the priests busy in hastening the preparations for the death of the prisoners. Through the gloom, they fancied that they discerned their companions by the whiteness of their skins, as they were stripped naked, and compelled to dance before the image of the god to whom they were to be offered. They heard the shrieks of those who were sacrificed, and thought that they could distinguish each unhappy victim, by the well-known sound of his voice. Imagination added to what they really saw or heard, and augmented its horror. The most unfeeling melted into tears of compassion, and the stoutest heart trembled at the dreadful spectacle which they beheld.i

New schemes and efforts of the Mexicans.Cortes, who, besides all that he felt in common with his soldiers, was oppressed with the additional load of anxious reflections natural to a general on such an unexpected calamity, could not, like them, relieve his mind by giving vent to its anguish. He was obliged to assume an air of tranquillity, in order to revive the spirit and hopes of his followers. The juncture, indeed, required an extraordinary exertion of fortitude. The Mexicans, elated with their victory, sallied out next morning to attack him in his quarters. But they did not rely on the efforts of their own arms alone. They sent the heads of the Spaniards whom Edition: current; Page: [116] they had sacrificed, to the leading men in the adjacent provinces, and assured them that the god of war, appeased by the blood of their invaders, which had been shed so plentifully on his altars, had declared with an audible voice, that in eight days’ time those hated enemies should be finally destroyed, and peace and prosperity re-established in the empire.

Cortes deserted by many of his Indian allies.A prediction uttered with such confidence, and in terms so void of ambiguity, gained universal credit among a people prone to superstition. The zeal of the provinces, which had already declared against the Spaniards augmented; and several which had hitherto remained inactive, took arms, with enthusiastic ardour, to execute the decree of the gods. The Indian auxiliaries who had joined Cortes, accustomed to venerate the same deities with the Mexicans, and to receive the responses of their priests with the same implicit faith, abandoned the Spaniards as a race of men devoted to certain destruction. Even the fidelity of the Tlascalans was shaken, and the Spanish troops were left almost alone in their stations. Cortes, finding that he attempted in vain to dispel the superstitious fears of his confederates by argument, took advantage from the imprudence of those who had framed the prophecy, in fixing its accomplishment so near at hand, to give a striking demonstration of its falsity. He suspended all military operations during the period marked out by the oracle. Under cover of the brigantines, which kept the enemy at a distance, his troops lay in safety, and the fatal term expired without any disaster.k

He regains their friendship,Many of his allies, ashamed of their own credulity, returned to their station. Other tribes, judging that the gods who had now deceived the Mexicans, had decreed finally to withdraw their protection from them, joined his standard; and such was the levity of a Edition: current; Page: [117] simple people, moved by every slight impression, that in a short time after such a general defection of his confederates, Cortes saw himself, if we may believe his own account, at the head of a hundred and fifty thousand Indians. Even with such a numerous army,and adopts a new system of attack. he found it necessary to adopt a new and more wary system of operation. Instead of renewing his attempts to become master of the city at once, by such bold but dangerous efforts of valour as he had already tried, he made his advances gradually, and with every possible precaution against exposing his men to any calamity similar to that which they still bewailed. As the Spaniards pushed forward, the Indians regularly repaired the causeways behind them. As soon as they got possession of any part of the town, the houses were instantly levelled with the ground. Day by day, the Mexicans, forced to retire as their enemies gained ground, were hemmed in within more narrow limits. Guatimozin, though unable to stop the career of the enemy, continued to defend his capital with obstinate resolution, and disputed every inch of ground. The Spaniards not only varied their mode of attack, but, by orders of Cortes, changed the weapons with which they fought. They were again armed with the long Chinantlan spears, which they had employed with such success against Narvaez; and, by the firm array in which this enabled them to range themselves, they repelled, with little danger, the loose assault of the Mexicans: incredible numbers of them fell in the conflicts which they renewed every day.l While war wasted without, famine began to consume them within, the city. The Spanish brigantines, having the entire command of the lake, rendered it almost impossible to convey to the besieged any supply of provisions by water. The immense number of his Indian auxiliaries enabled Cortes to shut up the avenues to the city by Edition: current; Page: [118] land. The stores which Guatimozin had laid up were exhausted by the multitudes which had crowded into the capital to defend their sovereign and the temples of their gods. Not only the people, but persons of the highest rank, felt the utmost distresses of famine. What they suffered, brought on infectious and mortal distempers, the last calamity that visits besieged cities, and which filled up the measure of their woes.m

Courage and constancy of Guatimozin.But, under the pressure of so many and such various evils, the spirit of Guatimozin remained firm and unsubdued. He rejected, with scorn, every overture of peace from Cortes; and, disdaining the idea of submitting to the oppressors of his country, determined not to survive its ruin. The Spaniards continued their progress.July 27. At length all the three divisions penetrated into the great square in the centre of the city, and made a secure lodgment there. Three-fourths of the city were now reduced, and laid in ruins. The remaining quarter was so closely pressed, that it could not long withstand assailants, who attacked it from their new station with superior advantage, and more assured expectation of success. The Mexican nobles, solicitous to save the life of a monarch whom they revered, prevailed on Guatimozin to retire from a place where resistance was now vain, that he might rouse the more distant provinces of the empire to arms, and maintain there a more successful struggle with the public enemy. In order to facilitate the execution of this measure, they endeavoured to amuse Cortes with overtures of submission, that, while his attention was employed in adjusting the articles of pacification, Guatimozin might escape unperceived. But they made this attempt upon a leader of greater sagacity and discernment than to be deceived by their arts. Cortes, suspecting their intention, and aware of what Edition: current; Page: [119] moment it was to defeat it, appointed Sandoval, the officer on whose vigilance he could most perfectly rely, to take the command of the brigantines, with strict injunctions to watch every motion of the enemy. Sandoval, attentive to the charge, observing some large canoes crowded with people rowing across the lake with extraordinary rapidity, instantly gave the signal to chase. Garcia Holguin, who commanded the swiftest sailing brigantine, soon overtook them, and was preparing to fire on the foremost canoe, which seemed to carry some person whom all the rest followed and obeyed. At once the rowers dropped their oars,He is taken prisoner. and all on board, throwing down their arms, conjured him with cries and tears to forbear, as the emperor was there. Holguin eagerly seized his prize, and Guatimozin, with a dignified composure, gave himself up into his hands, requesting only that no insult might be offered to the empress or his children. When conducted to Cortes, he appeared neither with the sullen fierceness of a barbarian, nor with the dejection of a supplicant. “I have done,” said he, addressing himself to the Spanish general, “what became a monarch. I have defended my people to the last extremity. Nothing now remains but to die. Take this dagger,” laying his hand on one which Cortes wore, “plant it in my breast, and put an end to a life which can no longer be of use.”n

August 13.As soon as the fate of their sovereign was known, the resistance of the Mexicans ceased;The city surrenders. and Cortes took possession of that small part of the capital which yet remained undestroyed. Thus terminated the siege of Mexico, the most memorable event in the conquest of America. It continued seventy-five days, hardly one of which passed without some extraordinary effort of one party in the attack, or of the other in the defence of Edition: current; Page: [120] a city, on the fate of which both knew that the fortune of the empire depended. As the struggle here was more obstinate, it was likewise more equal, than any between the inhabitants of the Old and New Worlds. The great abilities of Guatimozin, the number of his troops, the peculiar situation of his capital, so far counterbalanced the superiority of the Spaniards in arms and discipline, that they must have relinquished the enterprise, if they had trusted for success to themselves alone. But Mexico was overturned by the jealousy of neighbours who dreaded its power, and by the revolt of subjects impatient to shake off its yoke. By their effectual aid, Cortes was enabled to accomplish what, without such support, he would hardly have ventured to attempt. How much soever this account of the reduction of Mexico may detract, on the one hand, from the marvellous relations of some Spanish writers, by ascribing that to simple and obvious causes which they attribute to the romantic valour of their countrymen, it adds, on the other, to the merit and abilities of Cortes, who, under every disadvantage, acquired such an ascendant over unknown nations, as to render them instruments towards carrying his schemes into execution.o

Smallness of the booty, and disappointment of the Spaniards.The exultation of the Spaniards, on accomplishing this arduous enterprise, was at first excessive. But this was quickly damped by the cruel disappointment of those sanguine hopes, which had animated them amidst so many hardships and dangers. Instead of the inexhaustible wealth which they expected from becoming masters of Montezuma’s treasures, and the ornaments of so many temples, their rapaciousness could only collect an inconsiderable booty amidst ruins and desolation.p Guatimozin, aware of his impending Edition: current; Page: [121] fate, had ordered what remained of the riches amassed by his ancestors to be thrown into the lake. The Indian auxiliaries, while the Spaniards were engaged in conflict with the enemy, had carried off the most valuable part of the spoil. The sum to be divided among the conquerors was so small, that many of them disdained to accept of the pittance which fell to their share, and all murmured and exclaimed; some, against Cortes and his confidents, whom they suspected of having secretly appropriated to their own use a large portion of the riches which should have been brought into the common stock; others, against Guatimozin, whom they accused of obstinacy, in refusing to discover the place where he had hidden his treasure.

Guatimozin tortured.Arguments, entreaties, and promises were employed in order to soothe them, but with so little effect, that Cortes, from solicitude to check this growing spirit of discontent, gave way to a deed which stains the glory of all his great actions. Without regarding the former dignity of Guatimozin, or feeling any reverence for those virtues which he had displayed, he subjected the unhappy monarch, together with his chief favourite, to torture, in order to force from them a discovery of the royal treasures, which it was supposed they had concealed. Guatimozin bore whatever the refined cruelty of his tormentors could inflict, with the invincible fortitude of an American warrior. His fellow-sufferer, overcome by the violence of the anguish, turned a dejected eye towards his master, which seemed to implore his permission to reveal all that he knew. But the high-spirited prince, darting on him a look of authority mingled with scorn, checked his weakness by asking, “Am I now reposing on a bed of flowers?” Overawed by the reproach, the favourite persevered in his dutiful silence, and expired. Cortes, ashamed of a scene so horrid, rescued the royal victim from the Edition: current; Page: [122] hands of his torturers, and prolonged a life reserved for new indignities and sufferings.q

All the provinces of the empire submit.The fate of the capital, as both parties had foreseen, decided that of the empire. The provinces submitted one after another to the conquerors. Small detachments of Spaniards marching through them without interruption, penetrated in different quarters to the great southern ocean, which, according to the ideas of Columbus, they imagined would open a short as well as easy passage to the East Indies, and secure to the crown of Castile all the envied wealth of those fertile regionsr;Cortes forms schemes of new discoveries, and the active mind of Cortes began already to form schemes for attempting this important discovery.s

He did not know, that during the progress of his victorious arms in Mexico, the very scheme, of which he began to form some idea, had been undertaken and accomplished.which are completed by Magellan. As this is one of the most splendid events in the history of the Spanish discoveries, and has been productive of effects peculiarly interesting to those extensive provinces which Cortes had now subjected to the crown of Castile, the account of its rise and progress merits a particular detail.

Ferdinand Magalhaens, or Magellan, a Portuguese gentleman of honourable birth, having served several years in the East Indies, with distinguished valour, under the famous Albuquerque, demanded the recompense which he thought due to his services, with the boldness natural to a high-spirited soldier. But as his general would not grant his suit, and he expected greater justice from his sovereign, whom he knew to be a good judge and a generous rewarder of merit, he quitted India abruptly, and returned to Lisbon. In order to induce Emanuel to listen more Edition: current; Page: [123] favourably to his claim, he not only stated his past services, but offered to add to them by conducting his countrymen to the Molucca or spice islands, by holding a westerly course; which, he contended, would be both shorter and less hazardous than that which the Portuguese now followed by the cape of Good Hope, through the immense extent of the eastern ocean. This was the original and favourite project of Columbus, and Magellan founded his hopes of success on the ideas of that great navigator, confirmed by many observations, the result of his own naval experience, as well as that of his countrymen in their intercourse with the East. But, though the Portuguese monarchs had the merit of having first awakened and encouraged the spirit of discovery in that age, it was their destiny, in the course of a few years, to reject two grand schemes for this purpose, the execution of which would have been attended with a great accession of glory to themselves, and of power to their kingdom. In consequence of some ill-founded prejudice against Magellan, or of some dark intrigue which contemporary historians have not explained, Emanuel would neither bestow the recompense which he claimed, nor approve of the scheme which he proposed; and dismissed him with a disdainful coldness intolerable to a man conscious of what he deserved, and animated with the sanguine hopes of success peculiar to those who are capable of forming or of conducting new and great undertakings. In a transport of resentment,1517. Magellan formally renounced his allegiance to an ungrateful master, and fled to the court of Castile, where he expected that his talents would be more justly estimated. He endeavoured to recommend himself, by offering to execute, under the patronage of Spain, that scheme which he had laid before the court of Portugal, the accomplishment of which, he knew, would wound the Edition: current; Page: [124] monarch against whom he was exasperated in the most tender part. In order to establish the justness of his theory, he produced the same arguments which he had employed at Lisbon; acknowledging, at the same time, that the undertaking was both arduous and expensive, as it could not be attempted but with a squadron of considerable force, and victualled for at least two years. Fortunately, he applied to a minister who was not apt to be deterred, either by the boldness of a design, or the expence of carrying it into execution. Cardinal Ximenes, who at that time directed the affairs of Spain, discerning at once what an increase of wealth and glory would accrue to his country by the success of Magellan’s proposal, listened to it with a most favourable ear. Charles V., on his arrival in his Spanish dominions, entered into the measure with no less ardour, and orders were issued for equipping a proper squadron at the public charge, of which the command was given to Magellan, whom the king honoured with the habit of St. Jago and the title of captain-general.t

Hisvoyage.On the tenth of August, one thousand five hundred and nineteen, Magellan sailed from Seville with five ships, which, according to the ideas of the age, were deemed to be of considerable force, though the burden of the largest did not exceed one hundred and twenty tons. The crews of the whole amounted to two hundred and thirty-four men, among whom were some of the most skilful pilots in Spain, and several Portuguese sailors, in whose experience, as more extensive, Magellan placed still greater confidence. After touching at the Canaries, he stood directly south towards the equinoctial line along the coast of America, but was so long retarded by tedious calms, and spent so much time in searching every bay and inlet for Edition: current; Page: [125] that communication with the southern ocean which he wished to discover, that he did not reach the river de la Plata till the twelfth of January. That spacious opening through which its vast body of water pours into the Atlantic allured him to enter; but, after sailing up it for some days, he concluded, from the shallowness of the stream and the freshness of the water, that the wished-for strait was not situated there, and continued his course towards the south. On the thirty-first of March he arrived in the port of St. Julian, about forty-eight degrees south of the line, where he resolved to winter. In this uncomfortable station he lost one of his squadron, and the Spaniards suffered so much from the excessive rigour of the climate, that the crews of three of his ships, headed by their officers, rose in open mutiny, and insisted on relinquishing the visionary project of a desperate adventurer, and returning directly to Spain. This dangerous insurrection Magellan suppressed, by an effort of courage no less prompt than intrepid, and inflicted exemplary punishment on the ringleaders. With the remainder of his followers, overawed but not reconciled to his scheme, he continued his voyage towards the south, and at length discovered, near the fifty-third degree of latitude, the mouth of a strait, into which he entered, notwithstanding the murmurs and remonstrances of the people under his command. After sailing twenty days in that winding dangerous channel, to which he gave his own name, and where one of his ships deserted him, the great southern ocean opened to his view, and with tears of joy he returned thanks to heaven for having thus far crowned his endeavours with success.u

But he was still at a greater distance than he imagined from the object of his wishes. He sailed Edition: current; Page: [126] during three months and twenty days, in an uniform direction towards the north-west, without discovering land. In this voyage, the longest that had ever been made in the unbounded ocean, he suffered incredible distress. His stock of provisions was almost exhausted, the water became putrid, the men were reduced to the shortest allowance with which it was possible to sustain life, and the scurvy, the most dreadful of all the maladies with which seafaring people are afflicted, began to spread among the crew. One circumstance alone afforded them some consolation; they enjoyed an uninterrupted course of fair weather, with such favourable winds, that Magellan bestowed on that ocean the name of Pacific, which it still retains. When reduced to such extremity that they must have sunk under their sufferings, they fell in with a cluster of small but fertile islands,March 6. which afforded them refreshments in such abundance, that their health was soon re-established. From these isles, which he called de los Ladrones, he proceeded on his voyage, and soon made a more important discovery of the islands now known by the name of the Philippines. In one of these he got into an unfortunate quarrel with the natives, who attacked him with a numerous body of troops well armed; and, while he fought at the head of his men with his usual valour,April 26. he fell by the hands of those barbarians, together with several of his principal officers.

The expedition was prosecuted under other commanders. After visiting many of the smaller isles scattered in the eastern part of the Indian ocean, they touched at the great island of Borneo,Nov. 8. and at length landed in Tidore, one of the Moluccas, to the astonishment of the Portuguese, who could not comprehend how the Spaniards, by holding a westerly course, had arrived at that sequestered seat of their most valuable commerce, which they themselves had discovered by Edition: current; Page: [127] sailing in an opposite direction. There, and in the adjacent isles, the Spaniards found a people acquainted with the benefits of extensive trade, and willing to open an intercourse with a new nation. They took in a cargo of the precious spices, which are the distinguished production of these islands; and with that, as well as with specimens of the rich commodities yielded by the other countries which they had visited, the Victory, which, of the two ships that remained of the squadron, was most fit for a long voyage, set sail for Europe,January, 1522. under the command of Juan Sebastian del Cano. He followed the course of the Portuguese, by the Cape of Good Hope; and, after many disasters and sufferings, he arrived at St. Lucar on the seventh of September, one thousand five hundred and twenty-two, having sailed round the globe in the space of three years and twenty-eight days.x

Though an untimely fate deprived Magellan of the satisfaction of accomplishing this great undertaking, his contemporaries, just to his memory and talents, ascribed to him not only the honour of having formed the plan, but of having surmounted almost every obstacle to the completion of it; and, in the present age, his name is still ranked among the highest in the roll of eminent and successful navigators. The naval glory of Spain now eclipsed that of every other nation; and, by a singular felicity, she had the merit, in the course of a few years, of discovering a new continent, almost as large as that part of the earth which was formerly known, and of ascertaining, by experience, the form and extent of the whole terraqueous globe.

The Spaniards were not satisfied with the glory of having first encompassed the earth; they expected to derive great commercial advantages from this new Edition: current; Page: [128] and boldest effort of their maritime skill. The men of science among them contended, that the spice islands, and several of the richest countries in the East, were so situated as to belong of right to the crown of Castile, in consequence of the partitions made by Alexander VI. The merchants, without attending to this discussion, engaged eagerly in that lucrative and alluring commerce, which was now open to them. The Portuguese, alarmed at the intrusion of such formidable rivals, remonstrated and negotiated in Europe, while in Asia they obstructed the trade of the Spaniards by force of arms. Charles V., not sufficiently instructed with respect to the importance of this valuable branch of commerce, or distracted by the multiplicity of his schemes and operations, did not afford his subjects proper protection. At last, the low state of his finances, exhausted by the efforts of his arms in every part of Europe, together with the dread of adding a new war with Portugal to those in which he was already engaged, induced him to make over his claim of the Moluccas to the Portuguese, for three hundred and fifty thousand ducats. He reserved, however, to the crown of Castile the right of reviving its pretensions on repayment of that sum; but other objects engrossed his attention, and that of his successors; and Spain was finally excluded from a branch of commerce in which it was engaging with sanguine expectations of profit.y

Though the trade with the Moluccas was relinquished, the voyage of Magellan was followed by commercial effects of great moment to Spain. Philip II., in the year one thousand five hundred and sixty-four, reduced those islands which he discovered in the eastern ocean to subjection, and established settlements there; between which and the kingdom of New Spain a regular intercourse, the nature of which Edition: current; Page: [129] shall be explained in its proper place, is still carried on. I return now to the transactions in New Spain.

An order to supersede Cortes,At the time that Cortes was acquiring such extensive territories for his native country, and preparing the way for future conquests, it was his singular fate not only to be destitute of any commission or authority from the sovereign whom he was serving with such successful zeal, but to be regarded as an undutiful and seditious subject. By the influence of Fonseca, Bishop of Burgos, his conduct in assuming the government of New Spain was declared to be an irregular usurpation, in contempt of the royal authority; and Christoval de Tapia received a commission empowering him to supersede Cortes, to seize his person, to confiscate his effects, to make a strict scrutiny into his proceedings, and to transmit the result of all the enquiries carried on in New Spain to the council of the Indies, of which the Bishop of Burgos was president. A few weeks after the reduction of Mexico, Tapia landed at Vera Cruz, with the royal mandate to strip its conqueror of his power, and to treat him as a criminal. But Fonseca had chosen a very improper instrument to wreak his vengeance on Cortes. Tapia had neither the reputation nor the talents that suited the high command to which he was appointed.which he eludes. Cortes, while he publicly expressed the most respectful veneration for the emperor’s authority, secretly took measures to defeat the effect of his commission; and having involved Tapia and his followers in a multiplicity of negotiations and conferences, in which he sometimes had recourse to threats, but more frequently employed bribes and promises, he at length prevailed upon that weak man to abandon a province which he was unworthy of governing.z

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Applies again to the court,But, notwithstanding the fortunate dexterity with which he had eluded this danger, Cortes was so sensible of the precarious tenure by which he held his power, that he dispatched deputies to Spain, with a pompous account of the success of his arms, with farther specimens of the productions of the country,May 15., and with rich presents to the emperor, as the earnest of future contributions from his new conquests; requesting, in recompense for all his services, the approbation of his proceedings, and that he might be intrusted with the government of those dominions, which his conduct, and the valour of his followers, had added to the crown of Castile. The juncture in which his deputies reached the court was favourable. The internal commotions in Spain, which had disquieted the beginning of Charles’s reign, were just appeased.a The ministers had leisure to turn their attention towards foreign affairs. The account of Cortes’ victories filled his countrymen with admiration. The extent and value of his conquests became the object of vast and interesting hopes. Whatever stain he might have contracted, by the irregularity of the steps which he took in order to attain power, was so fully effaced by the splendour and merit of the great actions which this had enabled him to perform, that every heart revolted at the thought of inflicting any censure on a man, whose services entitled him to the highest marks of distinction. The public voice declared warmly in favour of his pretensions, and Charles arriving in Spain about this time, adopted the sentiments of his subjects with a youthful ardour. Notwithstanding the claims of Velasquez, and the partial representations of the Bishop of Burgos,and is appointed captain-general and governor of New Spain. the emperor appointed Cortes captain-general and governor of New Spain, judging that no person was so capable of maintaining the royal authority, or of establishing Edition: current; Page: [131] good order both among his Spanish and Indian subjects, as the victorious leader whom the former had long been accustomed to obey, and the latter had been taught to fear and to respect.b

His schemes and arrangements.Even before his jurisdiction received this legal sanction, Cortes ventured to exercise all the powers of a governor, and, by various arrangements, endeavoured to render his conquest a secure and beneficial acquisition to his country. He determined to establish the seat of government in its ancient station, and to raise Mexico again from its ruins; and having conceived high ideas concerning the future grandeur of the state of which he was laying the foundation, he began to rebuild its capital on a plan which hath gradually formed the most magnificent city in the New World. At the same time, he employed skilful persons to search for mines in different parts of the country, and opened some which were found to be richer than any which the Spaniards had hitherto discovered in America. He detached his principal officers into the remote provinces, and encouraged them to settle there, not only by bestowing upon them large tracts of land, but by granting them the same dominion over the Indians, and the same right to their service, which the Spaniards had assumed in the islands.

Insurrections of the Mexicans, and cruelty of the Spaniards.It was not, however, without difficulty, that the Mexican empire could be entirely reduced into the form of a Spanish colony. Enraged and rendered desperate by oppression, the natives often forgot the superiority of their enemies, and ran to arms in defence of their liberties. In every contest, however, the European valour and discipline prevailed. But, fatally for the honour of their country, the Spaniards sullied the glory redounding from these repeated Edition: current; Page: [132] victories by their mode of treating the vanquished people. After taking Guatimozin, and becoming masters of his capital, they supposed that the King of Castile entered on possession of all the rights of the captive monarch, and affected to consider every effort of the Mexicans to assert their own independence, as the rebellion of vassals against their sovereign, or the mutiny of slaves against their master. Under the sanction of those ill-founded maxims, they violated every right that should be held sacred between hostile nations. After each insurrection, they reduced the common people, in the provinces which they subdued, to the most humiliating of all conditions, that of personal servitude. Their chiefs, supposed to be more criminal, were punished with greater severity, and put to death in the most ignominious or the most excruciating mode, that the insolence or the cruelty of their conquerors could devise. In almost every district of the Mexican empire, the progress of the Spanish arms is marked with blood, and with deeds so atrocious, as disgrace the enterprising valour that conducted them to success. In the country of Panuco, sixty caziques or leaders, and four hundred nobles, were burnt at one time. Nor was this shocking barbarity perpetrated in any sudden sally of rage, or by a commander of inferior note. It was the act of Sandoval, an officer whose name is entitled to the second rank in the annals of New Spain, and executed after a solemn consultation with Cortes; and to complete the horror of the scene, the children and relations of the wretched victims were assembled, and compelled to be spectators of their dying agonies.c It seems hardly possible to exceed in horror this dreadful example of severity; but it was followed by another, which affected the Mexicans still more sensibly, as it gave them a most feeling proof of their own degradation, Edition: current; Page: [133] and of the small regard which their haughty masters retained for the ancient dignity and splendour of their state. On a slight suspicion, confirmed by very imperfect evidence, that Guatimozin had formed a scheme to shake off the yoke, and to excite his former subjects to take arms, Cortes, without the formality of a trial, ordered the unhappy monarch, together with the caziques of Tezeuco and Tacuba, the two persons of greatest eminence in the empire, to be hanged; and the Mexicans, with astonishment and horror, beheld this disgraceful punishment inflicted upon persons, to whom they were accustomed to look up with reverence, hardly inferior to that which they paid to the gods themselves.d The example of Cortes and his principal officers encouraged and justified persons of subordinate rank to venture upon committing greater excesses. Nuno de Guzman, in particular, stained an illustrious name by deeds of peculiar enormity and rigour, in various expeditions which he conducted.e

First object of industry among the conquerors.One circumstance, however, saved the Mexicans from farther consumption, perhaps from one as complete as that which had depopulated the islands. The first conquerors did not attempt to search for the precious metals in the bowels of the earth. They were neither sufficiently wealthy to carry on the expensive works, which are requisite for opening those deep recesses, where nature has concealed the veins of gold and silver, nor sufficiently skilful to perform the ingenious operations by which those precious metals are separated from their respective ores. They were satisfied with the more simple method, practised by the Indians, of washing the earth carried down rivers and torrents from the mountains, and collecting the grains of native metal deposited there. The rich Edition: current; Page: [134] mines of New Spain, which have poured forth their treasures with such profusion on every quarter of the globe, were not discovered for several years after the conquest.f1552, &c. By that time, a more orderly government and police were introduced into the colony; experience, derived from former errors, had suggested many useful and humane regulations for the protection and preservation of the Indians; and though it then became necessary to increase the number of those employed in the mines, and they were engaged in a species of labour more pernicious to the human constitution, they suffered less hardship or diminution than from the ill-judged, but less extensive, schemes of the first conquerors.

Their poverty.While it was the lot of the Indians to suffer, their new masters seemed not to have derived any considerable wealth from their ill-conducted researches. According to the usual fate of first settlers in new colonies, it was their lot to encounter danger, and to struggle with difficulties; the fruits of their victories and toils were reserved for times of tranquillity, and reaped by successors of greater industry, but of inferior merit. The early historians of America abound with accounts of the sufferings and of the poverty of its conquerors.g In New Spain, their condition was rendered more grievous by a peculiar arrangement. When Charles V. advanced Cortes to the government of that country, he at the same time appointed certain commissioners to receive and administer the royal revenue there, with independent jurisdiction.h These men, chosen from inferior stations in various departments of public business at Madrid, were so much elevated with their promotion, that they thought they were called to act a part of the first consequence. Edition: current; Page: [135] But being accustomed to the minute formalities of office, and having contracted the narrow ideas suited to the sphere in which they had hitherto moved,1524. they were astonished, on arriving in Mexico, at the high authority which Cortes exercised, and could not conceive that the mode of administration, in a country recently subdued and settled, must be different from what took place in one where tranquillity and regular government had been long established. In their letters, they represented Cortes as an ambitious tyrant, who, having usurped a jurisdiction superior to law, aspired at independence, and by his exorbitant wealth and extensive influence might accomplish those disloyal schemes which he apparently meditated.i These insinuations made such deep impression upon the Spanish ministers, most of whom had been formed to business under the jealous and rigid administration of Ferdinand, that, unmindful of all Cortes’ past services, and regardless of what he was then suffering in conducting that extraordinary expedition, in which he advanced from the lake of Mexico to the western extremities of Hondurask, they infused the same suspicions into the mind of their master, and prevailed on him to order a solemn inquest to be made into his conduct, with powers to the licentiate Ponce de Leon, intrusted with that commission, to seize his person,1525. if he should find that expedient, and send him prisoner to Spain.l

Cortes returns to Spain.The sudden death of Ponce de Leon, a few days after his arrival in New Spain, prevented the execution of this commission. But as the object of his appointment was known, the mind of Cortes was deeply wounded with this unexpected return for services, which far exceeded whatever any subject of Spain had rendered to his sovereign. He endeavoured, Edition: current; Page: [136] however, to maintain his station, and to recover the confidence of the court. But every person in office, who had arrived from Spain since the conquest, was a spy upon his conduct, and with malicious ingenuity gave an unfavourable representation of all his actions. The apprehensions of Charles and his ministers increased.1528. A new commission of enquiry was issued, with more extensive powers, and various precautions were taken in order to prevent or to punish him, if he should be so presumptuous as to attempt what was inconsistent with the fidelity of a subject.m Cortes beheld the approaching crisis of his fortune with all the violent emotions natural to a haughty mind, conscious of high desert, and receiving unworthy treatment. But though some of his desperate followers urged him to assert his own rights against his ungrateful country, and with a bold hand to seize that power which the courtiers meanly accused him of covetingn, he retained such self-command, or was actuated with such sentiments of loyalty, as to reject their dangerous counsels, and to choose the only course in which he could secure his own dignity, without departing from his duty. He resolved not to expose himself to the ignominy of a trial, in that country which had been the scene of his triumphs; but, without waiting for the arrival of his judges, to repair directly to Castile, and commit himself and his cause to the justice and generosity of his sovereign.o

His reception there.Cortes appeared in his native country with the splendour that suited the conqueror of a mighty kingdom. He brought with him a great part of his wealth, many jewels and ornaments of great value, several curious productions of the countryp, and was attended by some Mexicans of the first rank, as well Edition: current; Page: [137] as by the most considerable of his own officers. His arrival in Spain removed at once every suspicion and fear that had been entertained with respect to his intentions. The emperor, having now nothing to apprehend from the designs of Cortes, received him like a person whom consciousness of his own innocence had brought into the presence of his master, and who was entitled, by the eminence of his services, to the highest marks of distinction and respect. The order of St. Jago, the title of Marquis del Valle de Guaxaca, the grant of an ample territory in New Spain, were successively bestowed upon him; and as his manners were correct and elegant, although he had passed the greater part of his life among rough adventurers, the emperor admitted him to the same familiar intercourse with himself, that was enjoyed by noblemen of the first rank.q

Settlement of the government in New Spain.But, amidst those external proofs of regard, symptoms of remaining distrust appeared. Though Cortes earnestly solicited to be reinstated in the government of New Spain, Charles, too sagacious to commit such an important charge to a man whom he had once suspected, peremptorily refused to invest him again with powers which he might find it impossible to control.1530. Cortes, though dignified with new titles, returned to Mexico with diminished authority. The military department, with powers to attempt new discoveries, was left in his hands; but the supreme direction of civil affairs was placed in a board, called the audience of New Spain. At a subsequent period, when, upon the increase of the colony, the exertion of authority more united and extensive became necessary, Antonio de Mendoza, a nobleman of high rank, was sent thither as viceroy, to take the government into his hands.

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This division of power in New Spain proved, as was unavoidable, the source of perpetual dissension, which embittered the life of Cortes, and thwarted all his schemes.New schemes of Cortes. As he had now no opportunity to display his active talents but in attempting new discoveries, he formed various schemes for that purpose, all of which bear impressions of a genius that delighted in what was bold and splendid. He early entertained an idea, that, either by steering through the gulf of Florida along the east coast of North America, some strait would be found that communicated with the western ocean; or that, by examining the isthmus of Darien, some passage would be discovered between the North and South Seas.r But, having been disappointed in his expectations with respect to both, he now confined his views to such voyages of discovery as he could make from the ports of New Spain in the South sea. There he fitted out successively several small squadrons, which either perished in the attempt, or returned without making any discovery of moment. Cortes, weary of intrusting the conduct of his operations to others, took the command of a new armament in person, and, after enduring incredible hardships, and encountering dangers of every species,1536. he discovered the large peninsula of California, and surveyed the greater part of the gulf which separates it from New Spain. The discovery of a country of such extent would have reflected credit on a common adventurer; but it could add little new honour to the name of Cortes, and was far from satisfying the sanguine expectations which he had formed.s Disgusted with ill success, to which he had not been accustomed, and weary of contesting with adversaries to whom he considered it as a disgrace Edition: current; Page: [139] to be opposed, he once more sought for redress in his native country.

1540.But his reception there was very different from that which gratitude, and even decency,His death. ought to have secured for him. The merit of his ancient exploits was already, in a great measure, forgotten, or eclipsed by the fame of recent and more valuable conquests in another quarter of America. No service of moment was now expected from a man of declining years, and who began to be unfortunate. The emperor behaved to him with cold civility; his ministers treated him sometimes with neglect, sometimes with insolence. His grievances received no redress; his claims were urged without effect; and, after several years spent in fruitless application to ministers and judges, an occupation the most irksome and mortifying to a man of high spirit, who had moved in a sphere where he was more accustomed to command than to solicit, Cortes ended his days on the second of December, one thousand five hundred and forty-seven, in the sixty-second year of his age. His fate was the same with that of all the persons who distinguished themselves in the discovery or conquest of the New World. Envied by his contemporaries, and ill requited by the court which he served, he has been admired and celebrated by succeeding ages. Which has formed the most just estimate of his character, an impartial consideration of his actions must determine.

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THE

HISTORY

of

AMERICA.

BOOK VI.

1523.From the time that Nuñez de Balboa discovered the great Southern ocean,Schemes for discovering Peru; and received the first obscure hints concerning the opulent countries with which it might open a communication, the wishes and schemes of every enterprising person in the colonies of Darien and Panama, were turned towards the wealth of those unknown regions. In an age when the spirit of adventure was so ardent and vigorous, that large fortunes were wasted, and the most alarming dangers braved, in pursuit of discoveries merely possible, the faintest ray of hope was followed with an eager expectation, and the slightest information was sufficient to inspire such perfect confidence, as conducted men to the most arduous undertakings.a

unsuccessful for some time;Accordingly, several armaments were fitted out in order to explore and take possession of the countries to the east of Panama, but under the conduct of leaders whose talents and resources were unequal to the attempt.b As the excursions of those adventurers did Edition: current; Page: [141] not extend beyond the limits of the province to which the Spaniards have given the name of Tierra Firme,BOOK VI.lf1681-07_figure_001.jpg a mountainous region covered with woods, thinly inhabited, and extremely unhealthy, they returned with dismal accounts concerning the distresses to which they had been exposed, and the unpromising aspect of the places which they had visited. Damped by these tidings, the rage for discovery in that direction abated; and it became the general opinion, that Balboa had founded visionary hopes, on the tale of an ignorant Indian, ill understood, or calculated to deceive.

1524.But there were three persons settled in Panama,undertaken by Pizarro, Almagro, and Luque. on whom the circumstances which deterred others made so little impression, that, at the very moment when all considered Balboa’s expectations of discovering a rich country, by steering towards the east, as chimerical, they resolved to attempt the execution of his scheme. The names of those extraordinary men were Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and Hernando Luque. Pizarro was the natural son of a gentleman of an honourable family by a very low woman, and, according to the cruel fate which often attends the offspring of unlawful love, had been so totally neglected in his youth by the author of his birth, that he seems to have destined him never to rise beyond the condition of his mother. In consequence of this ungenerous idea, he set him, when bordering on manhood, to keep hogs. But the aspiring mind of young Pizarro disdaining that ignoble occupation, he abruptly abandoned his charge, enlisted as a soldier, and, after serving some years in Italy, embarked for America, which, by opening such a boundless range to active talents, allured every adventurer, whose fortune was not equal to his ambitious thoughts. There Pizarro early distinguished himself. With a temper of mind no less daring than the constitution of his body was robust, he was foremost in Edition: current; Page: [142] every danger, patient under the greatest hardships, and unsubdued by any fatigue. Though so illiterate that he could not even read, he was soon considered as a man formed to command. Every operation committed to his conduct proved successful, as, by a happy but rare conjunction, he united perseverance with ardour, and was as cautious in executing, as he was bold in forming his plans. By engaging early in active life, without any resource but his own talents and industry, and by depending on himself alone in his struggles to emerge from obscurity, he acquired such a thorough knowledge of affairs, and of men, that he was fitted to assume a superior part in conducting the former, and in governing the latter.c

Almagro had as little to boast of his descent as Pizarro. The one was a bastard, the other a foundling. Bred, like his companion, in the camp, he yielded not to him in any of the soldierly qualities of intrepid valour, indefatigable activity, or insurmountable constancy in enduring the hardships inseparable from military service in the New World. But in Almagro these virtues were accompanied with the openness, generosity, and candour, natural to men whose profession is arms; in Pizarro, they were united with the address, the craft, and the dissimulation of a politician, with the art of concealing his own purposes, and with sagacity to penetrate into those of other men.

Hernando de Luque was an ecclesiastic, who acted both as priest and schoolmaster at Panama, and, by means which the contemporary writers have not described, had amassed riches that inspired him with thoughts of rising to greater eminence.

Terms of their association.Such were the men destined to overturn one of the most extensive empires on the face of the earth. Their Edition: current; Page: [143] confederacy for this purpose was authorized by Pedrarias, the governor of Panama. Each engaged to employ his whole fortune in the adventure. Pizarro, the least wealthy of the three, as he could not throw so large a sum as his associates into the common stock, engaged to take the department of greatest fatigue and danger, and to command in person the armament which was to go first upon discovery. Almagro offered to conduct the supplies of provisions and reinforcements of troops, of which Pizarro might stand in need. Luque was to remain at Panama to negotiate with the governor, and superintend whatever was carrying on for the general interest. As the spirit of enthusiasm uniformly accompanied that of adventure in the New World, and by that strange union both acquired an increase of force, this confederacy, formed by ambition and avarice, was confirmed by the most solemn act of religion. Luque celebrated mass, divided a consecrated host into three, and, reserving one part to himself, gave the other two to his associates, of which they partook; and thus, in the name of the Prince of Peace, ratified a contract of which plunder and bloodshed were the objects.d

Their first attempt.The attempt was begun with a force more suited to the humble condition of the three associates, than to the greatness of the enterprise in which they were engaged.Nov. 14. Pizarro set sail from Panama with a single vessel, of small burden, and a hundred and twelve men. But in that age, so little were the Spaniards acquainted with the peculiarities of climate in America, that the time which Pizarro chose for his departure was the most improper in the whole year; the periodical winds which were then set in, being directly adverse to the course which he proposed to steer.e After beating about for seventy days, with Edition: current; Page: [144] much danger and incessant fatigue, Pizarro’s progress towards the south-east was not greater than what a skilful navigator will now make in as many hours.1525. He touched at several places on the coast of Tierra Firme, but found every where the same uninviting country which former adventurers had described; the low grounds converted into swamps by an overflowing of rivers; the higher, covered with impervious woods; few inhabitants, and those fierce and hostile. Famine, fatigue, frequent rencounters with the natives, and, above all, the distempers of a moist, sultry climate, combined in wasting his slender band of followers.Attended with little success. The undaunted resolution of their leader continued, however, for some time, to sustain their spirits, although no sign had yet appeared of discovering those golden regions to which he had promised to conduct them. At length he was obliged to abandon that inhospitable coast, and retire to Chuchama, opposite to the pearl islands, where he hoped to receive a supply of provisions and troops from Panama.

But Almagro having sailed from that port, with seventy men, stood directly towards that part of the continent where he hoped to meet with his associate. Not finding him there, he landed his soldiers, who, in searching for their companions, underwent the same distresses, and were exposed to the same dangers, which had driven them out of the country. Repulsed at length by the Indians in a sharp conflict, in which their leader lost one of his eyes by the wound of an arrow, they likewise were compelled to reimbark. Chance led them to the place of Pizarro’s retreat, where they found some consolation in recounting to each other their adventures, and comparing their sufferings.June 24. As Almagro had advanced as far as the river St. Juan, in the province of Popayan, where both the country and inhabitants appeared with a more promising aspect, that dawn of better fortune was Edition: current; Page: [145] sufficient to determine such sanguine projectors not to abandon their scheme, notwithstanding all that they had suffered in prosecuting it.f

1526.Almagro repaired to Panama, in hopes of recruiting their shattered troops.They resume the undertaking. But what he and Pizarro had suffered, gave his countrymen such an unfavourable idea of the service, that it was with difficulty he could levy fourscore men.g Feeble as this reinforcement was, Almagro took the command of it, and, having joined Pizarro, they did not hesitate about resuming their operations. After a long series of disasters and disappointments, not inferior to those which they had already experienced, part of the armament reached the bay of St. Matthew, on the coast of Quito, and landing at Tacamez, to the south of the river of Emeraulds, they beheld a country more champaign and fertile than any they had yet discovered in the Southern ocean, the natives clad in garments of woollen or cotton stuff, and adorned with several trinkets of gold and silver.

But, notwithstanding those favourable appearances, magnified beyond the truth, both by the vanity of the persons who brought the report from Tacamez, and by the fond imagination of those who listened to them, Pizarro and Almagro durst not venture to invade a country so populous with a handful of men, enfeebled by fatigue and diseases. They retired to the small island of Gallo, where Pizarro remained with part of the troops, and his associate returned to Panama, in hopes of bringing such a reinforcement as might enable them to take possession of the opulent territories, whose existence seemed to be no longer doubtful.h

Pizarro recalled by the governor of Panama.But some of the adventurers, less enterprising or less hardy than their leaders, having secretly conveyed Edition: current; Page: [146] lamentable accounts of their sufferings and losses to their friends at Panama, Almagro met with an unfavourable reception from Pedro de los Rios, who had succeeded Pedrarias in the government of that settlement. After weighing the matter with that cold economical prudence which appears the first of all virtues to persons whose limited faculties are incapable of conceiving or executing great designs, he concluded an expedition attended with such certain waste of men to be so detrimental to an infant and feeble colony, that he not only prohibited the raising of new levies, but dispatched a vessel to bring home Pizarro and his companions from the island of Gallo. Almagro and Luque, though deeply affected with those measures, which they could not prevent, and durst not oppose, found means of communicating their sentiments privately to Pizarro, and exhorted him not to relinquish an enterprise that was the foundation of all their hopes, and the only means of re-establishing their reputation and fortune, which were both on the decline. Pizarro’s mind, bent with inflexible obstinacy on all its purposes, needed no incentive to persist in the scheme.Persists in his designs. He peremptorily refused to obey the governor of Panama’s orders, and employed all his address and eloquence in persuading his men not to abandon him. But the incredible calamities to which they had been exposed were still so recent in their memories, and the thoughts of revisiting their families and friends, after a long absence, rushed with such joy into their minds, that when Pizarro drew a line upon the sand with his sword, permitting such as wished to return home to pass over it, only thirteen of all the daring veterans in his service had resolution to remain with their commander.i

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This small, but determined band, whose names the Spanish historians record with deserved praise, as the persons to whose persevering fortitude their country is indebted for the most valuable of all its American possessions, fixed their residence in the island of Gorgona. This, as it was farther removed from the coast than Gallo, and uninhabited, they considered as a more secure retreat, where, unmolested, they might wait for supplies from Panama, which they trusted that the activity of their associates would be able to procure. Almagro and Luque were not inattentive or cold solicitors, and their incessant importunity was seconded by the general voice of the colony, which exclaimed loudly against the infamy of exposing brave men, engaged in the public service, and chargeable with no error but what flowed from an excess of zeal and courage, to perish, like the most odious criminals, in a desert island. Overcome by those entreaties and expostulations, the governor at last consented to send a small vessel to their relief. But that he might not seem to encourage Pizarro to any new enterprise, he would not permit one landman to embark on board of it.

Hardships he endured.By this time, Pizarro and his companions had remained five months in an island, infamous for the most unhealthy climate in that region of America.k During all this period, their eyes were turned towards Panama, in hopes of succour from their countrymen; but, worn out at length with fruitless expectations, and dispirited with suffering hardships of which they saw no end, they, in despair, came to a resolution of committing themselves to the ocean on a float, rather than continue in that detestable abode. But, on the arrival of the vessel from Panama, they were transported with such joy, that all their sufferings were forgotten. Their hopes revived, and, with a rapid Edition: current; Page: [148] transition, not unnatural among men accustomed, by their mode of life, to sudden vicissitudes of fortune, high confidence succeeding to extreme dejection, Pizarro easily induced not only his own followers, but the crew of the vessel from Panama, to resume his former scheme with fresh ardour. Instead of returning to Panama, they stood towards the southeast; and, more fortunate in this than in any of their past efforts, they, on the twentieth day after their departure from Gorgona, discovered the coast of Peru.Discovers Peru. After touching at several villages near the shore, which they found to be nowise inviting, they landed at Tumbez, a place of some note, about three degrees south of the line, distinguished for its stately temple, and a palace of the incas, or sovereigns of the country.l There the Spaniards feasted their eyes with the first view of the opulence and civilization of the Peruvian empire. They beheld a country fully peopled, and cultivated with an appearance of regular industry; the natives decently clothed, and possessed of ingenuity so far surpassing the other inhabitants of the New World, as to have the use of tame domestic animals. But what chiefly attracted their notice, was such a show of gold and silver, not only in the ornaments of their persons and temples, but in several vessels and utensils for common use, formed of those precious metals, as left no room to doubt that they abounded with profusion in the country. Pizarro and his companions seemed now to have attained to the completion of their most sanguine hopes, and fancied that all their wishes and dreams of rich domains, and inexhaustible treasures, would soon be realized.

Returns to Panama.But, with the slender force then under his command, Pizarro could only view the rich country of which he hoped hereafter to obtain possession. He Edition: current; Page: [149] ranged, however, for some time along the coast, maintaining every where a peaceable intercourse with the natives, no less astonished at their new visitants, than the Spaniards were with the uniform appearance of opulence and cultivation which they beheld.1527. Having explored the country as far as was requisite to ascertain the importance of the discovery, Pizarro procured from the inhabitants some of their llamas, or tame cattle, to which the Spaniards gave the name of sheep, some vessels of gold and silver, as well as some specimens of their other works of ingenuity, and two young men, whom he proposed to instruct in the Castilian language, that they might serve as interpreters in the expedition which he meditated. With these he arrived at Panama, towards the close of the third year from the time of his departure thence.m No adventurer of the age suffered hardships or encountered dangers which equal those to which he was exposed during this long period. The patience with which he endured the one, and the fortitude with which he surmounted the other, exceed whatever is recorded in the history of the New World, where so many romantic displays of those virtues occur.

1528.Neither the splendid relation that Pizarro gave of the incredible opulence of the country which he had discovered,New schemes of the associates. nor his bitter complaints on account of that unseasonable recall of his forces, which had put it out of his power to attempt making any settlement there, could move the governor of Panama to swerve from his former plan of conduct. He still contended, that the colony was not in a condition to invade such a mighty empire, and refused to authorize an expedition which he foresaw would be so alluring that it might ruin the province in which he presided, by an Edition: current; Page: [150] effort beyond its strength. His coldness, however, did not in any degree abate the ardour of the three associates; but they perceived that they could not carry their scheme into execution without the countenance of superior authority, and must solicit their sovereign to grant that permission which they could not extort from his delegate. With this view, after adjusting among themselves, that Pizarro should claim the station of governor, Almagro that of lieutenant-governor, and Luque the dignity of bishop in the country which they purposed to conquer, they sent Pizarro as their agent to Spain, though their fortunes were now so much exhausted by the repeated efforts which they had made, that they found some difficulty in borrowing the small sum requisite towards equipping him for the voyage.n

Pizarro sent to Spain to negotiate:Pizarro lost no time in repairing to court, and new as the scene might be to him, he appeared before the emperor with the unembarrassed dignity of a man conscious of what his services merited; and he conducted his negotiations with an insinuating dexterity of address, which could not have been expected either from his education or former habits of life. His feeling description of his own sufferings, and his pompous account of the country which he had discovered, confirmed by the specimens of its productions which he exhibited, made such an impression both on Charles and his ministers, that they not only approved of the intended expedition, but seemed to be interested in the success of its leader.neglects his associates, Presuming on those dispositions in his favour, Pizarro paid little attention to the interest of his associates. As the pretensions of Luque did not interfere with his own, he obtained for him the ecclesiastical dignity to which he aspired. For Almagro, he claimed only the command of the fortress which should be erected at Edition: current; Page: [151] Tumbez. To himself he secured whatever his boundless ambition could desire. He was appointed governor, captain-general,July 26. and adelantado of all the country which he had discovered,and procures the supreme command to himself. and hoped to conquer, with supreme authority, civil as well as military; and with full right to all the privileges and emoluments usually granted to adventurers in the New World. His jurisdiction was declared to extend two hundred leagues along the coast to the south of the river St. Jago; to be independent of the governor of Panama; and he had power to nominate all the officers who were to serve under him. In return for those concessions, which cost the court of Spain nothing, as the enjoyment of them depended upon the success of Pizarro’s own efforts, he engaged to raise two hundred and fifty men, and to provide the ships, arms, and warlike stores requisite towards subjecting to the crown of Castile the country of which the government was allotted him.

Slender force he was able to raise.Inconsiderable as the body of men was which Pizarro had undertaken to raise, his funds and credit were so low that he could hardly complete half the number;1529. and after obtaining his patents from the crown, he was obliged to steal privately out of the port of Seville, in order to elude the scrutiny of the officers who had it in charge to examine, whether he had fulfilled the stipulations in his contract.o Before his departure, however, he received some supply of money from Cortes, who, having returned to Spain about this time, was willing to contribute his aid towards enabling an ancient companion, with whose talents and courage he was well acquainted, to begin a career of glory similar to that which he himself had finished.p

He landed at Nombre de Dios, and marched across the isthmus to Panama, accompanied by his three Edition: current; Page: [152] brothers Ferdinand, Juan, and Gonzalo, of whom the first was born in lawful wedlock, the two latter, like himself, were of illegitimate birth, and by Francisco de Alcantara, his mother’s brother. They were all in the prime of life, and of such abilities and courage, as fitted them to take a distinguished part in his subsequent transactions.

1530.On his arrival at Panama, Pizarro found Almagro so much exasperated at the manner in which he had conducted his negotiation,His reconciliation with Almagro. that he not only refused to act any longer in concert with a man by whose perfidy he had been excluded from the power and honours to which he had a just claim, but laboured to form a new association, in order to thwart or to rival his former confederate in his discoveries. Pizarro, however, had more wisdom and address than to suffer a rupture so fatal to all his schemes to become irreparable. By offering voluntarily to relinquish the office of adelantado, and promising to concur in soliciting that title, with an independent government, for Almagro, he gradually mitigated the rage of an open-hearted soldier, which had been violent, but was not implacable. Luque, highly satisfied with having been successful in all his own pretensions, cordially seconded Pizarro’s endeavours. A reconciliation was effected, and the confederacy renewed on its original terms, that the enterprise should be carried on at the common expence of the associates, and the profits accruing from it should be equally divided among them.q

Their armament.Even after their re-union, and the utmost efforts of their interest, three small vessels, with a hundred and eighty soldiers, thirty-six of whom were horsemen, composed the armament which they were able to fit out. But the astonishing progress of the Spaniards in America had inspired them with such ideas Edition: current; Page: [153] of their own superiority, that Pizarro did not hesitate to sail with this contemptible force to invade a great empire.1531. Almagro was left at Panama, as formerly,February. to follow him with what reinforcement of men he should be able to muster. As the season for embarking was properly chosen, and the course of navigation between Panama and Peru was now better known, Pizarro completed the voyage in thirteen days; though, by the force of the winds and currents, he was carried above a hundred leagues to the north of Tumbez, the place of his destination, and obliged to land his troops in the bay of St. Matthew.Lands in Peru. Without losing a moment, he began to advance towards the south, taking care, however, not to depart far from the sea-shore, both that he might easily effect a junction with the supplies which he expected from Panama, and secure a retreat in case of any disaster, by keeping as near as possible to his ships. But as the country in several parts on the coast of Peru is barren, unhealthful, and thinly peopled; as the Spaniards had to pass all the rivers near their mouth, where the body of water is greatest, and as the imprudence of Pizarro, in attacking the natives when he should have studied to gain their confidence, had forced them to abandon their habitations; famine, fatigue, and diseases of various kinds, brought upon him and his followers calamities hardly inferior to those which they had endured in their former expedition. What they now experienced corresponded so ill with the alluring description of the country given by Pizarro, that many began to reproach him, and every soldier must have become cold to the service, if, even in this unfertile region of Peru, they had not met with some appearances of wealth and cultivation, which seemed to justify the report of their leader.April 14. At length they reached the province of Coaque; and, having surprised the principal settlement of the natives, they Edition: current; Page: [154] seized their vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, to the amount of thirty thousand pesos, with other booty of such value, as dispelled all their doubts, and inspired the most desponding with sanguine hopes.r

His measures for obtaining a reinforcement.Pizarro himself was so much delighted with this rich spoil, which he considered as the first fruits of a land abounding with treasure, that he instantly dispatched one of his ships to Panama with a large remittance to Almagro; and another to Nicaragua, with a considerable sum, to several persons of influence in that province, in hopes of alluring adventurers by this early display of the wealth which he had acquired. Meanwhile, he continued his march along the coast, and, disdaining to employ any means of reducing the natives but force, he attacked them with such violence in their scattered habitations, as compelled them either to retire into the interior country, or to submit to his yoke. This sudden appearance of invaders, whose aspect and manners were so strange, and whose power seemed to be so irresistible, made the same dreadful impression as in other parts of America. Pizarro hardly met with resistance until he attacked the island of Puna, in the bay of Guayaquil. As that was better peopled than the country through which he had passed, and its inhabitants fiercer and less civilized than those of the continent, they defended themselves with such obstinate valour, that Pizarro spent six months in reducing them to subjection. From Puna he proceeded to Tumbez, where the distempers which raged among his men compelled him to remain for three months.s

Receives some, and continues to advance.While he was thus employed, he began to reap advantage from his attention to spread the fame of his first success to Coaque. Two different detachments Edition: current; Page: [155] arrived from Nicaragua, which, though neither exceeded thirty men, he considered as a reinforcement of great consequence to his feeble band, especially as the one was under the command of Sebastian Benalcazar, and the other of Hernando Soto, officers not inferior in merit and reputation to any who had served in America.1532. From Tumbez he proceeded to the river Piura, and,May 16. in an advantageous situation, near the mouth of it, he established the first Spanish colony in Peru, to which he gave the name of St. Michael.

As Pizarro continued to advance towards the centre of the Peruvian empire, he gradually received more full information concerning its extent and policy, as well as the situation of its affairs at that juncture. Without some knowledge of these, he could not have conducted his operations with propriety; and without a suitable attention to them, it is impossible to account for the progress which the Spaniards had already made, or to unfold the causes of their subsequent success.

State of the Peruvian empire.At the time when the Spaniards invaded Peru, the dominions of its sovereigns extended in length, from north to south, above fifteen hundred miles along the Pacific ocean. Its breadth, from east to west, was much less considerable, being uniformly bounded by the vast ridge of the Andes, stretching from its one extremity to the other. Peru, like the rest of the New World, was originally possessed by small independent tribes, differing from each other in manners, and in their forms of rude policy. All, however, were so little civilized, that, if the traditions concerning their mode of life, preserved among their descendants, deserve credit, they must be classed among the most unimproved savages of America. Strangers to every species of cultivation or regular industry, without any fixed residence, and unacquainted with those Edition: current; Page: [156] sentiments and obligations which form the first bonds of social union, they are said to have roamed about naked in the forests, with which the country was then covered, more like wild beasts than like men. After they had struggled for several ages with the hardships and calamities which are inevitable in such a state, and when no circumstance seemed to indicate the approach of any uncommon effort towards improvement, we are told that there appeared, on the banks of the lake Titiaca, a man and woman of majestic form, clothed in decent garments. They declared themselves to be children of the sun, sent by their beneficent parent, who beheld with pity the miseries of the human race, to instruct and to reclaim them. At their persuasion, enforced by reverence for the divinity in whose name they were supposed to speak, several of the dispersed savages united together, and, receiving their commands as heavenly injunctions, followed them to Cuzco, where they settled, and began to lay the foundations of a city.

Manco Capac and Mama Ocollo, for such were the names of those extraordinary personages, having thus collected some wandering tribes, formed that social union, which, by multiplying the desires, and uniting the efforts of the human species, excites industry, and leads to improvement. Manco Capac instructed the men in agriculture, and other useful arts. Mama Ocollo taught the women to spin and to weave. By the labour of the one sex, subsistence became less precarious; by that of the other, life was rendered more comfortable. After securing the objects of first necessity in an infant state, by providing food, raiment, and habitations, for the rude people of whom he took charge, Manco Capac turned his attention towards introducing such laws and policy as might perpetuate their happiness. By his institutions, which shall be more particularly explained hereafter, the Edition: current; Page: [157] various relations in private life were established, and the duties resulting from them prescribed with such propriety, as gradually formed a barbarous people to decency of manners. In public administration, the functions of persons in authority were so precisely defined, and the subordination of those under their jurisdiction maintained with such a steady hand, that the society in which he presided soon assumed the aspect of a regular and well-governed state.

Thus, according to the Indian tradition, was founded the empire of the incas, or lords, of Peru. At first its extent was small. The territory of Manco Capac did not reach above eight leagues from Cuzco. But within its narrow precincts he exercised absolute and uncontrolled authority. His successors, as their dominions extended, arrogated a similar jurisdiction over the new subjects which they acquired; the despotism of Asia was not more complete. The incas were not only obeyed as monarchs, but revered as divinities. Their blood was held to be sacred, and, by prohibiting intermarriages with the people, was never contaminated by mixing with that of any other race. The family, thus separated from the rest of the nation, was distinguished by peculiarities in dress and ornaments, which it was unlawful for others to assume. The monarch himself appeared with ensigns of royalty reserved for him alone, and received from his subjects marks of obsequious homage and respect, which approached almost to adoration.

But, among the Peruvians, this unbounded power of their monarchs seems to have been uniformly accompanied with attention to the good of their subjects. It was not the rage of conquest, if we may believe the accounts of their countrymen, that prompted the incas to extend their dominions, but the desire of diffusing the blessings of civilization, and the knowledge of the arts which they possessed, among the barbarous people Edition: current; Page: [158] whom they reduced. During a succession of twelve monarchs, it is said that not one deviated from this beneficent character.t

When the Spaniards first visited the coast of Peru, in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-six, Huana Capac, the twelfth monarch from the founder of the state, was seated on the throne. He is represented as a prince distinguished not only for the pacific virtues peculiar to the race, but eminent for his martial talents. By his victorious arms the kingdom of Quito was subjected, a conquest of such extent and importance as almost doubled the power of the Peruvian empire. He was fond of residing in the capital of that valuable province, which he had added to his dominions; and, notwithstanding the ancient and fundamental law of the monarchy against polluting the royal blood by any foreign alliance, he married the daughter of the vanquished monarch of Quito. She bore him a son named Atahualpa, whom, on his death at Quito, which seems to have happened about the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-nine, he appointed his successor in that kingdom, leaving the rest of his dominions to Huascar, his eldest son, by a mother of the royal race. Greatly as the Peruvians revered the memory of a monarch who had reigned with greater reputation and splendour than any of his predecessors, the destination of Huana Capac concerning the succession appeared so repugnant to a maxim coeval with the empire, and founded on authority deemed sacred, that it was no sooner known at Cuzco than it excited general disgust. Encouraged by those sentiments of his subjects, Huascar required his brother to renounce the government of Quito, and to acknowledge him as his lawful superior. But it had been the first care of Atahualpa to gain a Edition: current; Page: [159] large body of troops which had accompanied his father to Quito. These were the flower of the Peruvian warriors, to whose valour Huana Capac had been indebted for all his victories. Relying on their support, Atahualpa first eluded his brother’s demand, and then marched against him in hostile array.

Thus the ambition of two young men, the title of the one founded on ancient usage, and that of the other asserted by the veteran troops, involved Peru in civil war, a calamity to which, under a succession of virtuous princes, it had hitherto been a stranger. In such a contest the issue was obvious. The force of arms triumphed over the authority of laws. Atahualpa remained victorious, and made a cruel use of his victory. Conscious of the defect in his own title to the crown, he attempted to exterminate the royal race, by putting to death all the children of the sun descended from Manco Capac, whom he could seize either by force or stratagem. From a political motive, the life of his unfortunate rival Huascar, who had been taken prisoner in a battle which decided the fate of the empire, was prolonged for sometime, that, by issuing orders in his name, the usurper might more easily establish his own authority.u

Favourable to the progress of Pizarro.When Pizarro landed in the bay of St. Matthew, this civil war raged between the two brothers in its greatest fury. Had he made any hostile attempt in his former visit to Peru in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-seven, he must then have encountered the force of a powerful state, united under a monarch, possessed of capacity as well as courage, and unembarrassed with any care that could divert him from opposing his progress. But at this time, the two competitors, though they received early accounts of the arrival and violent proceedings of the Edition: current; Page: [160] Spaniards, were so intent upon the operations of a war, which they deemed more interesting, that they paid no attention to the motions of an enemy, too inconsiderable in number to excite any great alarm, and to whom, it would be easy, as they imagined, to give a check when more at leisure.

He avails himself of it, and advances.By this fortunate coincidence of events, whereof Pizarro could have no foresight, and of which, from his defective mode of intercourse with the people of the country, he remained long ignorant, he was permitted to carry on his operations unmolested, and advanced to the centre of a great empire before one effort of its power was exerted to stop his career. During their progress, the Spaniards had acquired some imperfect knowledge of this struggle between the two contending factions. The first complete information with respect to it, they received from messengers whom Huascar sent to Pizarro, in order to solicit his aid against Atahualpa, whom he represented as a rebel and an usurper.x Pizarro perceived at once the importance of this intelligence, and foresaw so clearly all the advantages which might be derived from this divided state of the kingdom, which he had invaded, that, without waiting for the reinforcement which he expected from Panama, he determined to push forward, while intestine discord put it out of the power of the Peruvians to attack him with their whole force, and while, by taking part, as circumstances should incline him, with one of the competitors, he might be enabled with greater ease to crush both. Enterprising as the Spaniards of that age were in all their operations against Americans, and distinguished as Pizarro was among his countrymen for daring courage, we can hardly suppose, that, after having proceeded hitherto slowly, and with much caution, he would have changed at once his system of operation, Edition: current; Page: [161] and have ventured upon a measure so hazardous, without some new motive or prospect to justify it.

State of his forces.As he was obliged to divide his troops, in order to leave a garrison in St. Michael, sufficient to defend a station of equal importance as a place of retreat in case of any disaster, and as a port for receiving any supplies which should come from Panama, he began his march with a very slender and ill-accoutred train of followers. They consisted of sixty-two horsemeny, and a hundred and two foot-soldiers, of whom twenty were armed with cross-bows, and three with muskets. He directed his course towards Caxamalca, a small town at the distance of twelve days’ march from St. Michael, where Atahualpa was encamped with a considerable body of troops. Before he had proceeded far, an officer dispatched by the inca met him with a valuable present from that prince, accompanied with a proffer of his alliance, and assurances of a friendly reception at Caxamalca. Pizarro, according to the usual artifice of his countrymen in America, pretended to come as the ambassador of a very powerful monarch, and declared that he was now advancing with an intention to offer Atahualpa his aid against those enemies who disputed his title to the throne.z

Ideas of the Peruvians concerning their designs.As the object of the Spaniards in entering their country was altogether incomprehensible to the Peruvians, they had formed various conjectures concerning it, without being able to decide whether they should consider their new guests as beings of a superior nature, who had visited them from some beneficent motive, or as formidable avengers of their crimes, and enemies to their repose and liberty. The continual professions of the Spaniards that they came to enlighten them with the knowledge of truth, and lead them in the way of happiness, favoured the former Edition: current; Page: [162] opinion; the outrages which they committed, their rapaciousness and cruelty, were awful confirmations of the latter. While in this state of uncertainty, Pizarro’s declaration of his pacific intentions so far removed all the inca’s fears, that he determined to give him a friendly reception. In consequence of this resolution, the Spaniards were allowed to march in tranquillity across the sandy desert between St. Michael and Motupè, where the most feeble effort of an enemy, added to the unavoidable distresses which they suffered in passing through that comfortless region, must have proved fatal to them.a From Motupè they advanced towards the mountains which encompassed the low country of Peru, and passed through a defile so narrow and inaccessible, that a few men might have defended it against a numerous army. But here, likewise, from the same inconsiderate credulity of the inca, the Spaniards met with no opposition, and took quiet possession of a fort erected for the security of that important station. As they now approached near to Caxamalca, Atahualpa renewed his professions of friendship; and, as an evidence of their sincerity, sent them presents of greater value than the former.

Arrive at Caxamalca.On entering Caxamalca, Pizarro took possession of a large court, on one side of which was a house which the Spanish historians call a palace of the inca, and on the other a temple of the sun, the whole surrounded with a strong rampart or wall of earth. When he had posted his troops in this advantageous station, he dispatched his brother Ferdinand and Hernando Soto to the camp of Atahualpa, which was about a league distant from the town. He instructed them to confirm the declaration which he had formerly made of his pacific disposition, and to desire an interview with the inca, that he might explain more fully the intention of the Spaniards in visiting his country. Edition: current; Page: [163] They were treated with all the respectful hospitality usual among the Peruvians in the reception of their most cordial friends, and Atahualpa promised to visit the Spanish commander next day in his quarters. The decent deportment of the Peruvian monarch, the order of his court, and the reverence with which his subjects approached his person and obeyed his commands, astonished those Spaniards, who had never met in America with any thing more dignified than the petty cazique of a barbarous tribe. But their eyes were still more powerfully attracted by the vast profusion of wealth which they observed in the inca’s camp. The rich ornaments worn by him and his attendants, the vessels of gold and silver in which the repast offered to them was served up, the multitude of utensils of every kind formed of those precious metals, opened prospects far exceeding any idea of opulence that an European of the sixteenth century could form.

Perfidious scheme of Pizarro.On their return to Caxamalca, while their minds were yet warm with admiration and desire of the wealth which they had beheld, they gave such a description of it to their countrymen, as confirmed Pizarro in a resolution which he had already taken. From his own observation of American manners during his long service in the New World, as well as from the advantages which Cortes had derived from seizing Montezuma, he knew of what consequence it was to have the inca in his power. For this purpose he formed a plan as daring as it was perfidious. Notwithstanding the character that he had assumed of an ambassador from a powerful monarch, who courted an alliance with the inca, and in violation of the repeated offers which he had made to him of his own friendship and assistance, he determined to avail himself of the unsuspicious simplicity with which Atahualpa relied on his professions, and to seize the person of the inca during the interview to which he had invited him. Edition: current; Page: [164] He prepared for the execution of his scheme with the same deliberate arrangement, and with as little compunction, as if it had reflected no disgrace on himself or his country. He divided his cavalry into three small squadrons, under the command of his brother Ferdinand, Soto, and Benalcazar; his infantry were formed in one body, except twenty of most tried courage, whom he kept near his own person to support him in the dangerous service which he reserved for himself; the artillery, consisting of two field-piecesb, and the cross-bowmen, were placed opposite to the avenue by which Atahualpa was to approach. All were commanded to keep within the square, and not to move until the signal for action was given.

Nov. 16.Early in the morning the Peruvian camp was all in motion.Visited by the inca. But as Atahualpa was solicitous to appear with the greatest splendour and magnificence in his first interview with the strangers, the preparations for this were so tedious, that the day was far advanced before he began his march. Even then, lest the order of the procession should be deranged, he moved so slowly, that the Spaniards became impatient, and apprehensive that some suspicion of their intention might be the cause of this delay. In order to remove this, Pizarro dispatched one of his officers with fresh assurances of his friendly disposition. At length the inca approached. First of all appeared four hundred men, in an uniform dress, as harbingers to clear the way before him. He himself, sitting on a throne or couch adorned with plumes of various colours, and almost covered with plates of gold and silver enriched with precious stones, was carried on the shoulders of his principal attendants. Behind him came some chief officers of his court, carried in the same manner. Several bands of singers and dancers accompanied this cavalcade; and the whole plain was covered Edition: current; Page: [165] with troops, amounting to more than thirty thousand men.

Strange harangue of Father Valverde.As the inca drew near the Spanish quarters, Father Vincent Valverde, chaplain to the expedition, advanced with a crucifix in one hand, and a breviary in the other, and in a long discourse explained to him the doctrine of the creation, the fall of Adam, the incarnation, the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the appointment of St. Peter as God’s vicegerent on earth, the transmission of his apostolic power by succession to the popes, the donation made to the King of Castile by Pope Alexander of all the regions of the New World. In consequence of all this, he required Atahualpa to embrace the Christian faith, to acknowledge the supreme jurisdiction of the pope, and to submit to the King of Castile as his lawful sovereign; promising, if he complied instantly with this requisition, that the Castilian monarch would protect his dominions, and permit him to continue in the exercise of his royal authority; but if he should impiously refuse to obey this summons, he denounced war against him in his master’s name, and threatened him with the most dreadful effects of his vengeance.

Reply of the inca.This strange harangue, unfolding deep mysteries, and alluding to unknown facts, of which no power of eloquence could have conveyed at once a distinct idea to an American, was so lamely translated by an unskilful interpreter, little acquainted with the idiom of the Spanish tongue, and incapable of expressing himself with propriety in the language of the inca, that its general tenour was altogether incomprehensible to Atahualpa. Some parts in it, of more obvious meaning, filled him with astonishment and indignation. His reply, however, was temperate. He began with observing, that he was lord of the dominions over which he reigned by hereditary succession; and added, that he could not conceive how a foreign Edition: current; Page: [166] priest should pretend to dispose of territories which did not belong to him; that if such a preposterous grant had been made, he, who was the rightful possessor, refused to confirm it; that he had no inclination to renounce the religious institutions established by his ancestors; nor would he forsake the service of the sun, the immortal divinity whom he and his people revered, in order to worship the God of the Spaniards, who was subject to death; that with respect to other matters contained in his discourse, as he had never heard of them before, and did not now understand their meaning, he desired to know where the priest had learned things so extraordinary. “In this book,” answered Valverde, reaching out to him his breviary. The inca opened it eagerly, and turning over the leaves, lifted it up to his ear: “This,” says he, “is silent; it tells me nothing;” and threw it with disdain to the ground. The enraged monk, running towards his countrymen, cried out, “To arms, Christians, to arms; the word of God is insulted; avenge this profanation on those impious dogs.”c

Pizarro attacks the Peruvians,Pizarro, who, during this long conference, had with difficulty restrained his soldiers, eager to seize the rich spoils of which they had now so near a view, immediately gave the signal of assault. At once the martial music struck up, the cannon and muskets began to fire, the horse sallied out fiercely to the charge, the infantry rushed on sword in hand. The Peruvians, astonished at the suddenness of an attack which they did not expect, and dismayed with the destructive effect of the fire-arms, and the irresistible impression of the cavalry, fled with universal consternation on every side, without attempting either to annoy the enemy, or to defend themselves. Pizarro, at the head of his chosen band, advanced directly towards the inca; and though his nobles crowded Edition: current; Page: [167] around him with officious zeal, and fell in numbers at his feet, while they vied one with another in sacrificing their own lives, that they might cover the sacred person of their sovereign, the Spaniards soon penetrated to the royal seat; and Pizarro,and seizes the inca. seizing the inca by the arm, dragged him to the ground, and carried him as a prisoner to his quarters. The fate of the monarch increased the precipitate flight of his followers. The Spaniards pursued them towards every quarter, and with deliberate and unrelenting barbarity continued to slaughter wretched fugitives, who never once offered to resist. The carnage did not cease until the close of day. Above four thousand Peruvians were killed. Not a single Spaniard fell, nor was one wounded but Pizarro himself, whose hand was slightly hurt by one of his own soldiers, while struggling eagerly to lay hold on the inca.d

The plunder of the field was rich beyond any idea which the Spaniards had yet formed concerning the wealth of Peru; and they were so transported with the value of the acquisition, as well as the greatness of their success, that they passed the night in the extravagant exultation natural to indigent adventurers on such an extraordinary change of fortune.

Dejection of the inca.At first the captive monarch could hardly believe a calamity which he so little expected to be real. But he soon felt all the misery of his fate, and the dejection into which he sunk was in proportion to the height of grandeur from which he had fallen. Pizarro, afraid of losing all the advantages which he hoped to derive from the possession of such a prisoner, laboured to console him with professions of kindness and respect, that corresponded ill with his actions. By residing among the Spaniards, the inca quickly discovered their ruling passion, which, indeed, they were nowise solicitous to conceal, and, by applying to Edition: current; Page: [168] that, made an attempt to recover his liberty. He offered as a ransom what astonished the Spaniards, even after all they now knew concerning the opulence of his kingdom.His offer of a ransom. The apartment in which he was confined was twenty-two feet in length and sixteen in breadth; he undertook to fill it with vessels of gold as high as he could reach. Pizarro closed eagerly with this tempting proposal, and a line was drawn upon the walls of the chamber, to mark the stipulated height to which the treasure was to rise.

Atahualpa, transported with having obtained some prospect of liberty, took measures instantly for fulfilling his part of the agreement, by sending messengers to Cuzco, Quito, and other places, where gold had been amassed in largest quantities, either for adorning the temples of the gods, or the houses of the inca, to bring what was necessary for completing his ransom directly to Caxamalca. Though Atahualpa was now in the custody of his enemies, yet so much were the Peruvians accustomed to respect every mandate issued by their sovereign, that his orders were executed with the greatest alacrity. Soothed with hopes of recovering his liberty by this means, the subjects of the inca were afraid of endangering his life by forming any other scheme for his relief; and though the force of the empire was still entire, no preparations were made, and no army assembled, to avenge their own wrongs or those of their monarch.e The Spaniards remained in Caxamalca tranquil and unmolested.The Spaniards visit different provinces. Small detachments of their number marched into remote provinces of the empire, and, instead of meeting with any opposition, were every where received with marks of the most submissive respect.f

Almagro arrives with a reinforcement.Inconsiderable as those parties were, and desirous as Pizarro might be to obtain some knowledge of the Edition: current; Page: [169] interior state of the country, he could not have ventured upon any diminution of his main body,December. if he had not about this time received an account of Almagro’s having landed at St. Michael with such a reinforcement as would almost double the number of his followers.g The arrival of this long-expected succour was not more agreeable to the Spaniards than alarming to the inca. He saw the power of his enemies increase; and as he knew neither the source whence they derived their supplies, nor the means by which they were conveyed to Peru, he could not foresee to what a height the inundation that poured in upon his dominions might rise.1533. While disquieted with such apprehensions,Huascar put to death. he learned that some Spaniards, in their way to Cuzco, had visited his brother Huascar in the place where he kept him confined, and that the captive prince had represented to them the justice of his own cause, and, as an inducement to espouse it, had promised them a quantity of treasure greatly beyond that which Atahualpa had engaged to pay for his ransom. If the Spaniards should listen to this proposal, Atahualpa perceived his own destruction to be inevitable; and suspecting that their insatiable thirst for gold would tempt them to lend a favourable ear to it, he determined to sacrifice his brother’s life, that he might save his own; and his orders for this purpose were executed, like all his other commands, with scrupulous punctuality.h

The Spaniards make a division of the spoil.Meanwhile, Indians daily arrived at Caxamalca from different parts of the kingdom, loaded with treasure. A great part of the stipulated quantity was now amassed, and Atahualpa assured the Spaniards, that the only thing which prevented the whole from being brought in, was the remoteness of the provinces where it was deposited. But such vast piles of gold Edition: current; Page: [170] presented continually to the view of needy soldiers, had so inflamed their avarice, that it was impossible any longer to restrain their impatience to obtain possession of this rich booty. Orders were given for melting down the whole, except some pieces of curious fabric, reserved as a present for the emperor. After setting apart the fifth due to the crown, and a hundred thousand pesos as a donative to the soldiers which arrived with Almagro, there remained one million five hundred and twenty-eight thousand five hundred pesos to Pizarro and his followers. The festival of St. James,July 25. the patron saint of Spain, was the day chosen for the partition of this enormous sum, and the manner of conducting it strongly marks the strange alliance of fanaticism with avarice, which I have more than once had occasion to point out as a striking feature in the character of the conquerors of the New World. Though assembled to divide the spoils of an innocent people, procured by deceit, extortion, and cruelty, the transaction began with a solemn invocation of the name of Godi, as if they could have expected the guidance of heaven in distributing those wages of iniquity. In this division above eight thousand pesos, at that time not inferior in effective value to as many pounds sterling in the present century, fell to the share of each horseman, and half that sum to each foot soldier. Pizarro himself, and his officers, received dividends in proportion to the dignity of their rank.

The effect of it.There is no example in history of such a sudden acquisition of wealth by military service, nor was ever a sum so great divided among so small a number of soldiers. Many of them, having received a recompense for their services far beyond their most sanguine hopes, were so impatient to retire from fatigue and danger, in order to spend the remainder of their days Edition: current; Page: [171] in their native country in ease and opulence, that they demanded their discharge with clamorous importunity. Pizarro, sensible that from such men he could expect neither enterprise in action nor fortitude in suffering, and persuaded that wherever they went the display of their riches would allure adventurers, less opulent, but more hardy, to his standard, granted their suit without reluctance, and permitted above sixty of them to accompany his brother Ferdinand, whom he sent to Spain with an account of his success, and the present destined for the emperor.k

The inca demands his liberty in vain.The Spaniards having divided among them the treasure amassed for the inca’s ransom, he insisted with them to fulfil their promise of setting him at liberty. But nothing was farther from Pizarro’s thoughts. During his long service in the New World, he had imbibed those ideas and maxims of his fellow-soldiers, which led them to consider its inhabitants as an inferior race, neither worthy of the name, nor entitled to the rights, of men. In his compact with Atahualpa, he had no other object than to amuse his captive with such a prospect of recovering his liberty as might induce him to lend all the aid of his authority towards collecting the wealth of his kingdom. Having now accomplished this, he no longer regarded his plighted faith; and, at the very time when the credulous prince hoped to be replaced on his throne, he had secretly resolved to bereave him of life. Many circumstances seem to have concurred in prompting him to this action, the most criminal and atrocious that stains the Spanish name, amidst all the deeds of violence committed in carrying on the conquest of the New World.

He and the Spaniards mutually jealous.Though Pizarro had seized the inca, in imitation of Cortes’ conduct towards the Mexican monarch, he did not possess talents for carrying on the same Edition: current; Page: [172] artful plan of policy. Destitute of the temper and address requisite for gaining the confidence of his prisoner, he never reaped all the advantages which might have been derived from being master of his person and authority. Atahualpa was, indeed, a prince of greater abilities and discernment than Montezuma, and seems to have penetrated more thoroughly into the character and intentions of the Spaniards. Mutual suspicion and distrust accordingly took place between them. The strict attention with which it was necessary to guard a captive of such importance, greatly increased the fatigue of military duty. The utility of keeping him appeared inconsiderable; and Pizarro felt him as an incumbrance, from which he wished to be delivered.l

Almagro and his followers demand his life.Almagro and his followers had made a demand of an equal share in the inca’s ransom; and though Pizarro had bestowed upon the private men the large gratuity which I have mentioned, and endeavoured to soothe their leader by presents of great value, they still continued dissatisfied. They were apprehensive, that, as long as Atahualpa remained a prisoner, Pizarro’s soldiers would apply whatever treasure should be acquired, to make up what was wanting of the quantity stipulated for his ransom, and, under that pretext, exclude them from any part of it. They insisted eagerly on putting the inca to death, that all the adventurers in Peru might thereafter be on an equal footing.m

Motives which induced Pizarro to consent.Pizarro himself began to be alarmed with accounts of forces assembling in the remote provinces of the empire, and suspected Atahualpa of having issued orders for that purpose. These fears and suspicions were artfully increased by Philippillo, one of the Indians, Edition: current; Page: [173] whom Pizarro had carried off from Tumbez, in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-seven, and whom he employed as an interpreter. The function which he performed admitting this man to familiar intercourse with the captive monarch, he presumed, notwithstanding the meanness of his birth, to raise his affections to a coya, or descendant of the sun, one of Atahualpa’s wives; and, seeing no prospect of gratifying that passion during the life of the monarch, he endeavoured to fill the ears of the Spaniards with such accounts of the inca’s secret designs and preparations, as might awaken their jealousy, and incite them to cut him off.

While Almagro and his followers openly demanded the life of the inca, and Philippillo laboured to ruin him by private machinations, that unhappy prince inadvertently contributed to hasten his own fate. During his confinement he had attached himself with peculiar affection to Ferdinand Pizarro and Hernando Soto, who, as they were persons of birth and education superior to the rough adventurers with whom they served, were accustomed to behave with more decency and attention to the captive monarch. Soothed with this respect from persons of such high rank, he delighted in their society. But in the presence of the governor he was always uneasy and overawed. This dread soon came to be mingled with contempt. Among all the European arts, what he admired most was that of reading and writing; and he long deliberated with himself whether he should regard it as a natural or acquired talent. In order to determine this, he desired one of the soldiers, who guarded him, to write the name of God on the nail of his thumb. This he shewed successively to several Spaniards, asking its meaning; and, to his amazement, they all, without hesitation, returned the same answer. At length Pizarro entered; and, on presenting Edition: current; Page: [174] it to him, he blushed, and, with some confusion, was obliged to acknowledge his ignorance. From that moment, Atahualpa considered him as a mean person, less instructed than his own soldiers; and he had not address enough to conceal the sentiments with which this discovery inspired him. To be the object of a barbarian’s scorn, not only mortified the pride of Pizarro, but excited such resentment in his breast as added force to all the other considerations which prompted him to put the inca to death.n

His trial.But, in order to give some colour of justice to this violent action, and that he himself might be exempted from standing singly responsible for the commission of it, Pizarro resolved to try the inca with all the formalities observed in the criminal courts of Spain. Pizarro himself, and Almagro, with two assistants, were appointed judges, with full power to acquit or to condemn; an attorney-general was named to carry on the prosecution in the king’s name; counsellors were chosen to assist the prisoner in his defence; and clerks were ordained to record the proceedings of court. Before this strange tribunal, a charge was exhibited still more amazing. It consisted of various articles; that Atahualpa, though a bastard, had dispossessed the rightful owner of the throne, and usurped the regal power; that he had put his brother and lawful sovereign to death; that he was an idolater, and had not only permitted, but commanded, the offering of human sacrifices; that he had a great number of concubines; that since his imprisonment he had wasted and embezzled the royal treasures, which now belonged of right to the conquerors; that he had incited his subjects to take arms against the Spaniards. On these heads of accusation, some of which are so ludicrous, others so absurd, that the effrentery Edition: current; Page: [175] of Pizarro, in making them the foundation of a serious procedure, is not less surprising than his injustice, did this strange court go on, to try the sovereign of a great empire, over whom it had no jurisdiction. With respect to each of the articles, witnesses were examined; but as they delivered their evidence in their native tongue, Philippillo had it in his power to give their words whatever turn best suited his malevolent intentions. To judges predetermined in their opinion, this evidence appeared sufficient.He is condemned, They pronounced Atahualpa guilty, and condemned him to be burnt alive. Friar Valverde prostituted the authority of his sacred function to confirm this sentence, and by his signature, warranted it to be just. Astonished at his fate, Atahualpa endeavoured to avert it by tears, by promises, and by entreaties, that he might be sent to Spain, where a monarch would be the arbiter of his lot. But pity never touched the unfeeling heart of Pizarro. He ordered him to be led instantly to execution; and, what added to the bitterness of his last moments, the same monk who had just ratified his doom, offered to console, and attempted to convert, him. The most powerful argument Valverde employed to prevail with him to embrace the Christian faith, was a promise of mitigation in his punishment. The dread of a cruel death extorted from the trembling victim a desire of receiving baptism. The ceremony was performed; and Atahualpa, instead of being burnt,and executed. was strangled at the stake.o

Several Spaniards protest against it.Happily for the credit of the Spanish nation, even among the profligate adventurers which it sent forth to conquer and desolate the New World, there were persons who retained some tincture of the Castilian generosity and honour. Though, before the trial of Edition: current; Page: [176] Atahualpa, Ferdinand Pizarro had set out for Spain, and Soto was sent on a separate command at a distance from Caxamalca, this odious transaction was not carried on without censure and opposition. Several officers, and among those some of the greatest reputation and most respectable families in the service, not only remonstrated, but protested against this measure of their general, as disgraceful to their country, as repugnant to every maxim of equity, as a violation of public faith, and an usurpation of jurisdiction over an independent monarch, to which they had no title. But their laudable endeavours were vain. Numbers, and the opinion of such as held every thing to be lawful which they deemed advantageous, prevailed. History, however, records even the unsuccessful exertions of virtue with applause; and the Spanish writers, in relating events where the valour of their nation is more conspicuous than its humanity, have not failed to preserve the names of those who made this laudable effort to save their country from the infamy of having perpetrated such a crime.p

Dissolution of government and order in Peru.On the death of Atahualpa, Pizarro invested one of his sons with the ensigns of royalty, hoping that a young man without experience might prove a more passive instrument in his hands, than an ambitious monarch, who had been accustomed to independent command. The people of Cuzco, and the adjacent country, acknowledged Manco Capac, a brother of Huascar, as inca.q But neither possessed the authority which belonged to a sovereign of Peru. The violent convulsions into which the empire had been thrown, first by the civil war between the two brothers, and then by the invasion of the Spaniards, had not only deranged the order of the Peruvian government, but almost dissolved its frame. When they beheld Edition: current; Page: [177] their monarch a captive in the power of strangers, and at last suffering an ignominious death, the people in several provinces, as if they had been set free from every restraint of law and decency, broke out into the most licentious excesses.r So many descendants of the sun, after being treated with the utmost indignity, had been cut off by Atahualpa, that not only their influence in the state diminished with their number, but the accustomed reverence for that sacred race sensibly decreased. In consequence of this state of things, ambitious men in different parts of the empire aspired to independent authority, and usurped jurisdiction to which they had no title. The general who commanded for Atahualpa in Quito, seized the brother and children of his master, put them to a cruel death, and, disclaiming any connection with either inca, endeavoured to establish a separate kingdom for himself.s

Pizarro advances to Cuzco.The Spaniards, with pleasure, beheld the spirit of discord diffusing itself, and the vigour of government relaxing among the Peruvians. They considered those disorders as symptoms of a state hastening towards it dissolution. Pizarro no longer hesitated to advance towards Cuzco, and he had received such considerable reinforcements, that he could venture, with little danger, to penetrate so far into the interior part of the country. The account of the wealth acquired at Caxamalca operated as he had foreseen. No sooner did his brother Ferdinand, with the officers and soldiers to whom he had given their discharge after the partition of the inca’s ransom, arrive at Panama, and display their riches in the view of their astonished countrymen, than fame spread the account with such exaggeration through all the Spanish settlements on the South sea, that the governors of Edition: current; Page: [178] Guatimala, Panama, and Nicaragua, could hardly restrain the people under their jurisdiction from abandoning their possessions, and crowding to that inexhaustible source of wealth which seemed to be opened in Peru.t In spite of every check and regulation, such numbers resorted thither, that Pizarro began his march at the head of five hundred men, after leaving a considerable garrison in St. Michael, under the command of Benalcazar. The Peruvians had assembled some large bodies of troops to oppose his progress. Several fierce encounters happened. But they terminated like all the actions in America; a few Spaniards were killed or wounded; the natives were put to flight with incredible slaughter. At length Pizarro forced his way to Cuzco, and took quiet possession of that capital. The riches found there, even after all that the natives had carried off and concealed, either from a superstitious veneration for the ornaments of their temples, or out of hatred to their rapacious conquerors, exceeded in value what had been received as Atahualpa’s ransom. But as the Spaniards were now accustomed to the wealth of the country, and it came to be parcelled out among a greater number of adventurers, this dividend did not excite the same surprise, either from novelty, or the largeness of the sum that fell to the share of each individual.u

During the march to Cuzco, that son of Atahualpa whom Pizarro treated as inca died; and as the Spaniards substituted no person in his place, the title of Manco Capac seems to have been universally recognised.x

Quito conquered by Benalcazar.While his fellow-soldiers were thus employed, Benalcazar, governor of St. Michael, an able and enterprising officer, was ashamed of remaining inactive, Edition: current; Page: [179] and impatient to have his name distinguished among the discoverers and conquerors of the New World. The seasonable arrival of a fresh body of recruits from Panama and Nicaragua, put it in his power to gratify this passion. Leaving a sufficient force to protect the infant settlement intrusted to his care, he placed himself at the head of the rest, and set out to attempt the reduction of Quito, where, according to the report of the natives, Atahualpa had left the greatest part of his treasure. Notwithstanding the distance of that city from St. Michael, the difficulty of marching through a mountainous country covered with woods, and the frequent and fierce attacks of the best troops in Peru, commanded by a skilful leader, the valour, good conduct, and perseverance of Benalcazar surmounted every obstacle, and he entered Quito with his victorious troops. But they met with a cruel mortification there. The natives, now acquainted to their sorrow with the predominant passion of their invaders, and knowing how to disappoint it, had carried off all those treasures, the prospect of which had prompted them to undertake this arduous expedition, and had supported them under all the dangers and hardships wherewith they had to struggle in carrying it on.y

Alvarado’s expedition.Benalcazar was not the only Spanish leader who attacked the kingdom of Quito. The fame of its riches attracted a more powerful enemy. Pedro de Alvarado, who had distinguished himself so eminently in the conquest of Mexico, having obtained the government of Guatimala as a recompense for his valour, soon became disgusted with a life of uniform tranquillity, and longed to be again engaged in the bustle of military service. The glory and wealth acquired by the conquerors of Peru heightened this passion, Edition: current; Page: [180] and gave it a determined direction. Believing, or pretending to believe, that the kingdom of Quito did not lie within the limits of the province allotted to Pizarro, he resolved to invade it. The high reputation of the commander allured volunteers from every quarter. He embarked with five hundred men, of whom above two hundred were of such distinction as to serve on horseback. He landed at Puerto Viejo, and, without sufficient knowledge of the country, or proper guides to conduct him, attempted to march directly to Quito, by following the course of the river Guayaquil, and crossing the ridge of the Andes towards its head. But in this route, one of the most impracticable in all America, his troops endured such fatigue in forcing their way through forests and marshes on the low grounds, and suffered so much from excessive cold when they began to ascend the mountains, that before they reached the plain of Quito, a fifth part of the men and half their horses died, and the rest were so much dispirited and worn out, as to be almost unfit for service.z There they met with a body, not of Indians, but of Spaniards, drawn in hostile array against them. Pizarro having received an account of Alvarado’s armament, had detached Almagro with some troops to oppose this formidable invader of his jurisdiction; and these were joined by Benalcazar and his victorious party. Alvarado, though surprised at the sight of enemies whom he did not expect, advanced boldly to the charge. But, by the interposition of some moderate men in each party, an amicable accommodation took place; and the fatal period, when Spaniards suspended their conquests to imbrue their hands in the blood of their countrymen, was postponed a few years. Alvarado engaged to return to his government, upon Almagro’s paying him a hundred thousand pesos to defray the expence of his Edition: current; Page: [181] armament. Most of his followers remained in the country; and an expedition, which threatened Pizarro and his colony with ruin, contributed to augment its strength.a

1534.By this time Ferdinand Pizarro had landed in Spain.Honours conferred on Pizarro and Almagro. The immense quantities of gold and silver which he importedb, filled the kingdom with no less astonishment than they had excited in Panama and the adjacent provinces. Pizarro was received by the emperor with the attention due to the bearer of a present so rich as to exceed any idea which the Spaniards had formed concerning the value of their acquisitions in America, even after they had been ten years masters of Mexico. In recompense of his brother’s services, his authority was confirmed with new powers and privileges, and the addition of seventy leagues, extending along the coast, to the southward of the territory granted in his former patent. Almagro received the honours which he had so long desired. The title of adelantado, or governor, was conferred upon him, with jurisdiction over two hundred leagues of country, stretching beyond the southern limits of the province allotted to Pizarro. Ferdinand himself did not go unrewarded. He was admitted into the military order of St. Jago, a distinction always acceptable to a Spanish gentleman, and soon set out on his return to Peru, accompanied by many persons of higher rank than had yet served in that country.c

Beginning of dissensions between Pizarro and Almagro.Some account of his negotiations reached Peru before he arrived there himself. Almagro no sooner learned that he had obtained the royal grant of an independent government, than, pretending that Cuzco, Edition: current; Page: [182] the imperial residence of the incas, lay within its boundaries, he attempted to render himself master of that important station. Juan and Gonzalez Pizarro prepared to oppose him. Each of the contending parties was supported by powerful adherents, and the dispute was on the point of being terminated by the sword, when Francis Pizarro arrived in the capital. The reconciliation between him and Almagro had never been cordial. The treachery of Pizarro in engrossing to himself all the honours and emoluments, which ought to have been divided with his associate, was always present in both their thoughts. The former, conscious of his own perfidy, did not expect forgiveness; the latter, feeling that he had been deceived, was impatient to be avenged; and, though avarice and ambition had induced them not only to dissemble their sentiments, but even to act in concert while in pursuit of wealth and power, no sooner did they obtain possession of these, than the same passions which had formed this temporary union gave rise to jealousy and discord. To each of them was attached a small band of interested dependents, who, with the malicious art peculiar to such men, heightened their suspicions, and magnified every appearance of offence. But with all those seeds of enmity in their minds, and thus assiduously cherished, each was so thoroughly acquainted with the abilities and courage of his rival, that they equally dreaded the consequences of an open rupture. The fortunate arrival of Pizarro at Cuzco, and the address mingled with firmness which he manifested in his expostulations with Almagro and his partisans, averted that evil for the present. A new reconciliation took place; the chief article of which was, that Almagro should attempt the conquest of Chili; and if he did not find in that province an establishment adequate to his merit and expectations, Pizarro, by way of indemnification, should yield up Edition: current; Page: [183] to him a part of Peru. This new agreement, though confirmed with the same sacred solemnities as their first contract, was observed with as little fidelity.d

June 12.Soon after he concluded this important transaction,Regulations of Pizarro. Pizarro marched back to the countries on the sea-coast, and as he now enjoyed an interval of tranquillity, undisturbed by any enemy, either Spanish or Indian, he applied himself with that persevering ardour, which distinguishes his character, to introduce a form of regular government into the extensive provinces subject to his authority. Though ill qualified by his education to enter into any disquisition concerning the principles of civil policy, and little accustomed by his former habits of life to attend to its arrangements, his natural sagacity supplied the want both of science and experience. He distributed the country into various districts; he appointed proper magistrates to preside in each; and established regulations concerning the administration of justice, the collection of the royal revenue, the working of the mines, and the treatment of the Indians, extremely simple, but well calculated to promote the public prosperity. But though, for the present, he adapted his plan to the infant state of his colony, his aspiring mind looked forward to its future grandeur.Foundation of Lima. He considered himself as laying the foundation of a great empire, and deliberated long, and with much solicitude, in what place he should fix the seat of government. Cuzco, the imperial city of the incas, was situated in a corner of the empire, above four hundred miles from the sea, and much farther from Quito, a province of whose value he had formed a high idea. No other settlement of the Peruvians was so considerable as to merit the name of a town, or to allure the Spaniards to fix their residence in it. But, in marching through Edition: current; Page: [184] the country, Pizarro had been struck with the beauty and fertility of the valley of Rimac, one of the most extensive and best cultivated in Peru. There, on the banks of a small river, of the same name with the vale which it waters and enriches, at the distance of six miles from Callao, the most commodious harbour in the Pacific ocean, he founded a city which he destined to be the capital of his government.1535. He gave it the name of Ciudad de los Reyes,January 18. either from the circumstance of having laid the first stone at that season when the church celebrates the festival of the Three Kings, or, as is more probable, in honour of Juana and Charles, the joint sovereigns of Castile. This name it still retains among the Spaniards, in all legal and formal deeds; but it is better known to foreigners by that of Lima, a corruption of the ancient appellation of the valley in which it is situated. Under his inspection, the buildings advanced with such rapidity, that it soon assumed the form of a city, which, by a magnificent palace that he erected for himself, and by the stately houses built by several of his officers, gave, even in its infancy, some indication of its subsequent grandeur.e

Almagro invades Chili.In consequence of what had been agreed with Pizarro, Almagro began his march towards Chili; and, as he possessed in an eminent degree the virtues most admired by soldiers, boundless liberality and fearless courage, his standard was followed by five hundred and seventy men, the greatest body of Europeans that had hitherto been assembled in Peru. From impatience to finish the expedition, or from that contempt of hardship and danger acquired by all the Spaniards who had served long in America, Almagro, instead of advancing along the level country on the coast, chose to march across the mountains by Edition: current; Page: [185] a route that was shorter indeed, but almost impracticable. In this attempt his troops were exposed to every calamity which men can suffer, from fatigue, from famine, and from the rigour of the climate in those elevated regions of the torrid zone, where the degree of cold is hardly inferior to what is felt within the polar circle. Many of them perished; and the survivors, when they descended into the fertile plains of Chili, had new difficulties to encounter. They found there a race of men very different from the people of Peru, intrepid, hardy, independent, and in their bodily constitution, as well as vigour of spirit, nearly resembling the warlike tribes in North America. Though filled with wonder at the first appearance of the Spaniards, and still more astonished at the operations of their cavalry and the effects of their fire-arms, the Chilese soon recovered so far from their surprise, as not only to defend themselves with obstinacy, but to attack their new enemies with more determined fierceness, than any American nation had hitherto discovered. The Spaniards, however, continued to penetrate into the country, and collected some considerable quantities of gold; but were so far from thinking of making any settlement amidst such formidable neighbours, that, in spite of all the experience and valour of their leader, the final issue of the expedition still remained extremely dubious, when they were recalled from it by an unexpected revolution in Peru.f The causes of this important event I shall endeavour to trace to their source.

An insurrection of the Peruvians.So many adventurers had flocked to Peru from every Spanish colony in America, and all with such high expectations of accumulating independent fortunes at once, that, to men possessed with notions so Edition: current; Page: [186] extravagant, any mention of acquiring wealth gradually, and by schemes of patient industry, would have been not only a disappointment, but an insult. In order to find occupation for men who could not with safety be allowed to remain inactive, Pizarro encouraged some of the most distinguished officers who had lately joined him, to invade different provinces of the empire, which the Spaniards had not hitherto visited. Several large bodies were formed for this purpose; and about the time that Almagro set out for Chili, they marched into remote districts of the country. No sooner did Manco Capac,Its rise, the inca, observe the inconsiderate security of the Spaniards in thus dispersing their troops, and that only a handful of soldiers remained in Cuzco, under Juan and Gonzalez Pizarro, than he thought that the happy period was at length come for vindicating his own rights, for avenging the wrongs of his country, and extirpating its oppressors. Though strictly watched by the Spaniards, who allowed him to reside in the palace of his ancestors at Cuzco, he found means of communicating his scheme to the persons who were to be intrusted with the execution of it. Among people accustomed to revere their sovereign as a divinity, every hint of his will carries the authority of a command; and they themselves were now convinced, by the daily increase in the number of their invaders, that the fond hopes which they had long entertained of their voluntary departure were altogether vain. All perceived that a vigorous effort of the whole nation was requisite to expel them, and the preparations for it were carried on with the secrecy and silence peculiar to Americans.

and progress.After some unsuccessful attempts of the inca to make his escape, Ferdinand Pizarro happening to arrive at that time in Cuzco,1536. he obtained permission from him to attend a great festival which was to be Edition: current; Page: [187] celebrated a few leagues from the capital. Under pretext of that solemnity, the great men of the empire were assembled. As soon as the inca joined them, the standard of war was erected; and in a short time all the fighting men, from the confines of Quito to the frontier of Chili, were in arms. Many Spaniards, living securely on the settlements allotted them, were massacred. Several detachments, as they marched carelessly through a country which seemed to be tamely submissive to their dominion, were cut off to a man. An army amounting, if we may believe the Spanish writers, to two hundred thousand men, attacked Cuzco, which the three brothers endeavoured to defend with only one hundred and seventy Spaniards. Another formidable body invested Lima, and kept the governor closely shut up. There was no longer any communication between the two cities; the numerous forces of the Peruvians spreading over the country, intercepted every messenger; and as the parties in Cuzco and Lima were equally unacquainted with the fate of their countrymen, each boded the worst concerning the other, and imagined that they themselves were the only persons who had survived the general extinction of the Spanish name in Peru.g

Siege of Cuzco.It was at Cuzco, where the inca commanded in person, that the Peruvians made their chief effort. During nine months they carried on the siege with incessant ardour, and in various forms; and though they displayed not the same undaunted ferocity as the Mexican warriors, they conducted some of their operations in a manner which discovered greater sagacity, and a genius more susceptible of improvement in the military art. They not only observed the advantages which the Spaniards derived from their discipline and their weapons, but they endeavoured to imitate the Edition: current; Page: [188] former, and turned the latter against them. They armed a considerable body of their bravest warriors with the swords, the spears, and bucklers, which they had taken from the Spanish soldiers whom they had cut off in different parts of the country. These they endeavoured to marshal in that regular compact order, to which experience had taught them that the Spaniards were indebted for their irresistible force in action. Some appeared in the field with Spanish muskets, and had acquired skill and resolution enough to use them. A few of the boldest, among whom was the inca himself, were mounted on the horses which they had taken, and advanced briskly to the charge like Spanish cavaliers, with their lances in the rest. It was more by their numbers, however, than by those imperfect essays to imitate European arts and to employ European arms, that the Peruvians annoyed the Spaniards.h In spite of the valour, heightened by despair, with which the three brothers defended Cuzco, Manco Capac recovered possession of one half of his capital; and, in their various efforts to drive him out of it, the Spaniards lost Juan Pizarro, the best beloved of all the brothers, together with some other persons of note. Worn out with the fatigue of incessant duty, distressed with want of provisions, and despairing of being able any longer to resist an enemy whose numbers daily increased, the soldiers became impatient to abandon Cuzco, in hopes either of joining their countrymen, if any of them yet survived, or of forcing their way to the sea, and finding some means of escaping from a country which had been so fatal to the Spanish name.i While they were brooding over those desponding thoughts, which their officers laboured in vain to dispel, Almagro appeared suddenly in the neighbourhood of Cuzco.

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The accounts transmitted to Almagro concerning the general insurrection of the Peruvians, were such as would have induced him, without hesitation,Arrival of Almagro, and motives of his conduct. to relinquish the conquest of Chili, and hasten to the aid of his countrymen. But in this resolution he was confirmed by a motive less generous, but more interesting. By the same messenger who brought him intelligence of the inca’s revolt, he received the royal patent creating him governor of Chili, and defining the limits of his jurisdiction. Upon considering the tenour of it, he deemed it manifest beyond contradiction, that Cuzco lay within the boundaries of his government, and he was equally solicitous to prevent the Peruvians from recovering possession of their capital, and to wrest it out of the hands of the Pizarros. From impatience to accomplish both, he ventured to return by a new route; and, in marching through the sandy plains on the coast, he suffered, from heat and drought, calamities of a new species, hardly inferior to those in which he had been involved by cold and famine on the summits of the Andes.

1537.His arrival at Cuzco was in a critical moment.His operations. The Spaniards and Peruvians fixed their eyes upon him with equal solicitude. The former, as he did not study to conceal his pretensions, were at a loss whether to welcome him as a deliverer, or to take precautions against him as an enemy. The latter, knowing the points in contest between him and his countrymen, flattered themselves that they had more to hope than to dread from his operations. Almagro himself, unacquainted with the detail of the events which had happened in his absence, and solicitous to learn the precise posture of affairs, advanced towards the capital slowly, and with great circumspection. Various negotiations with both parties were set on foot. The inca conducted them on his part with much address. At first he endeavoured to gain the Edition: current; Page: [190] friendship of Almagro; and, after many fruitless overtures, despairing of any cordial union with a Spaniard, he attacked him by surprise with a numerous body of chosen troops. But the Spanish discipline and valour maintained their wonted superiority. The Peruvians were repulsed with such slaughter, that a great part of their army dispersed, and Almagro proceeded to the gates of Cuzco without interruption.

Takes possession of Cuzco.The Pizarros, as they had no longer to make head against the Peruvians, directed all their attention towards their new enemy, and took measures to obstruct his entry into the capital. Prudence, however, restrained both parties for some time from turning their arms against one another, while surrounded by common enemies, who would rejoice in the mutual slaughter. Different schemes of accommodation were proposed. Each endeavoured to deceive the other, or to corrupt his followers. The generous, open, affable temper of Almagro gained many adherents of the Pizarros, who were disgusted with their harsh domineering manners. Encouraged by this defection, he advanced towards the city by night, surprised the sentinels, or was admitted by them, and, investing the house where the two brothers resided, compelled them, after an obstinate defence, to surrender at discretion. Almagro’s claim of jurisdiction over Cuzco was universally acknowledged, and a form of administration established in his name.k

Civil war, and first success of Almagro;Two or three persons only were killed in this first act of civil hostility; but it was soon followed by scenes more bloody. Francis Pizarro having dispersed the Peruvians who had invested Lima, and received some considerable reinforcements from Hispaniola and Nicaragua, ordered five hundred men, under the command Edition: current; Page: [191] of Alonso de Alvarado, to march to Cuzco, in hopes of relieving his brothers, if they and their garrison were not already cut off by the Peruvians. This body, which, at that period of the Spanish power in America, must be deemed a considerable force, advanced near to the capital before they knew that they had any enemy more formidable than Indians to encounter. It was with astonishment that they beheld their countrymen posted on the banks of the river Abancay to oppose their progress. Almagro, however, wished rather to gain than to conquer them, and by bribes and promises endeavoured to seduce their leader. The fidelity of Alvarado remained unshaken; but his talents for war were not equal to his virtue. Almagro amused him with various movements, of which he did not comprehend the meaning, while a large detachment of chosen soldiers passed the river by night,July 12. fell upon his camp by surprise, broke his troops before they had time to form, and took him prisoner, together with his principal officers.l

but he does not improve his advantages.By the sudden rout of this body, the contest between the two rivals must have been decided, if Almagro had known as well how to improve as how to gain a victory. Rodrigo Orgoñez, an officer of great abilities, who having served under the Constable Bourbon, when he led the imperial army to Rome, had been accustomed to bold and decisive measures, advised him instantly to issue orders for putting to death Ferdinand and Gonzalo Pizarros, Alvarado, and a few other persons whom he could not hope to gain, and to march directly with his victorious troops to Lima, before the governor had time to prepare for his defence. But Almagro, though he discerned at once the utility of the counsel, and though he had courage to have carried it into execution, suffered Edition: current; Page: [192] himself to be influenced by sentiments unlike those of a soldier of fortune grown old in service, and by scruples which suited not the chief of a party who had drawn his sword in civil war. Feelings of humanity restrained him from shedding the blood of his opponents; and the dread of being deemed a rebel, deterred him from entering a province which the king had allotted to another. Though he knew that arms must terminate the dispute between him and Pizarro, and resolved not to shun that mode of decision, yet, with a timid delicacy preposterous at such a juncture, he was so solicitous that his rival should be considered as the aggressor, that he marched quietly back to Cuzco, to wait his approach.m

Distress of Pizarro.Pizarro was still unacquainted with all the interesting events which had happened near Cuzco. Accounts of Almagro’s return, of the loss of the capital, of the death of one brother, of the imprisonment of the other two, and of the defeat of Alvarado, were brought to him at once. Such a tide of misfortunes almost overwhelmed a spirit which had continued firm and erect under the rudest shocks of adversity. But the necessity of attending to his own safety, as well as the desire of revenge, preserved him from sinking under it.His artful conduct. He took measures for both with his wonted sagacity. As he had the command of the sea-coast, and expected considerable supplies both of men and military stores, it was no less his interest to gain time, and to avoid action, than it was that of Almagro to precipitate operations, and bring the contest to a speedy issue. He had recourse to arts which he had formerly practised with success; and Almagro was again weak enough to suffer himself to be amused with a prospect of terminating their differences by some amicable accommodation. By varying his overtures, and shifting his ground as often as Edition: current; Page: [193] it suited his purpose, sometimes seeming to yield to every thing which his rival could desire, and then retracting all that he had granted, Pizarro dexterously protracted the negotiation to such a length, that, though every day was precious to Almagro, several months elapsed without coming to any final agreement. While the attention of Almagro, and of the officers with whom he consulted, was occupied in detecting and eluding the fraudulent intentions of the governor, Gonzalo Pizarro and Alvarado found means to corrupt the soldiers to whose custody they were committed, and not only made their escape themselves, but persuaded sixty of the men who formerly guarded them to accompany their flight.n Fortune having thus delivered one of his brothers, the governor scrupled not at one act of perfidy more to procure the release of the other. He proposed, that every point in controversy between Almagro and himself should be submitted to the decision of their sovereign; that, until his award was known, each should retain undisturbed possession of whatever part of the country he now occupied; that Ferdinand Pizarro should be set at liberty, and return instantly to Spain, together with the officers whom Almagro purposed to send thither to represent the justness of his claims. Obvious as the design of Pizarro was in those propositions, and familiar as his artifices might now have been to his opponent, Almagro, with a credulity approaching to infatuation, relied on his sincerity, and concluded an agreement on these terms.o

His preparations for war.The moment that Ferdinand Pizarro recovered his liberty, the governor, no longer fettered in his operations by anxiety about his brother’s life, threw off every disguise which his concern for it had obliged Edition: current; Page: [194] him to assume. The treaty was forgotten; pacific and conciliating measures were no more mentioned; it was in the field he openly declared, and not in the cabinet; by arms, and not by negotiation; that it must now be determined who should be master of Peru. The rapidity of his preparations suited such a decisive resolution.1538. Seven hundred men were soon ready to march towards Cuzco. The command of these was given to his two brothers, in whom he could perfectly confide for the execution of his most violent schemes, as they were urged on, not only by the enmity flowing from the rivalship between their family and Almagro, but animated with the desire of vengeance, excited by recollection of their own recent disgrace and sufferings. After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the mountains in the direct road between Lima and Cuzco, they marched towards the south, along the coast, as far as Nasca, and then turning to the left, penetrated through the defiles in that branch of the Andes which lay between them and the capital. Almagro, instead of hearkening to some of his officers, who advised him to attempt the defence of those difficult passes, waited the approach of the enemy in the plain of Cuzco. Two reasons seem to have induced him to take this resolution. His followers amounted hardly to five hundred, and he was afraid of weakening such a feeble body by sending any detachment towards the mountains. His cavalry far exceeded that of the adverse party, both in number and discipline; and it was only in an open country that he could avail himself of that advantage.

His army marches to Cuzco.The Pizarros advanced without any obstruction but what arose from the nature of the desert and horrid regions through which they marched. As soon as they reached the plain, both factions were equally impatient to bring this long-protracted contest to an issue. Though countrymen and friends, Edition: current; Page: [195] the subjects of the same sovereign, and each with the royal standard displayed; and though they beheld the mountains that surrounded the plain in which they were drawn up covered with a vast multitude of Indians, assembled to enjoy the spectacle of their mutual carnage, and prepared to attack whatever party remained master of the field; so fell and implacable was the rancour which had taken possession of every breast, that not one pacific counsel, not a single overture, towards accommodation proceeded from either side. Unfortunately for Almagro, he was so worn out with the fatigues of service, to which his advanced age was unequal, that, at this crisis of his fate, he could not exert his wonted activity; and he was obliged to commit the leading of his troops to Orgoñez, who, though an officer of great merit, did not possess the same ascendant, either over the spirit or affections of the soldiers, as the chief whom they had long been accustomed to follow and revere.

April 26.The conflict was fierce, and maintained by each party with equal courage.Almagro defeated, On the side of Almagro were more veteran soldiers, and a larger proportion of cavalry; but these were counterbalanced by Pizarro’s superiority in numbers, and by two companies of well-disciplined musketeers, which, on receiving an account of the insurrection of the Indians, the emperor had sent from Spain.p As the use of fire-arms was not frequent among the adventurers in Americaq, hastily equipped for service, at their own expence, this small band of soldiers, regularly trained and armed, was a novelty in Peru, and decided the fate of the day. Wherever it advanced, the weight of a heavy and well-sustained fire bore down horse and foot before it; and Orgoñez, while he endeavoured to rally and animate his troops, having received a dangerous wound, the rout became general. The barbarity of Edition: current; Page: [196] the conquerors stained the glory which they acquired by this complete victory. The violence of civil rage hurried on some to slaughter their countrymen with indiscriminate cruelty; the meanness of private revenge instigated others to single out individuals as the objects of their vengeance. Orgoñez, and several officers of distinction, were massacred in cold blood; above a hundred and forty soldiers fell in the field; a large proportion, where the number of combatants was few, and the heat of the contest soon over. Almagro, though so feeble that he could not bear the motion of a horse, had insisted in being carried in a litter to an eminence which overlooked the field of battle. From thence, in the utmost agitation of mind, he viewed the various movements of both parties, and at last beheld the total defeat of his own troops, with all the passionate indignation of a veteran leader long accustomed to victory. He endeavoured to save himself by flight,and taken. but was taken prisoner, and guarded with the strictest vigilance.r

The Indians, instead of executing the resolution which they had formed, retired quietly after the battle was over; and in the history of the New World there is not a more striking instance of the wonderful ascendant which the Spaniards had acquired over its inhabitants, than that, after seeing one of the contending parties ruined and dispersed, and the other weakened and fatigued, they had not courage to fall upon their enemies, when fortune presented an opportunity of attacking them with such advantage.s

New expeditions.Cuzco was pillaged by the victorious troops, who found there a considerable booty, consisting partly of the gleanings of the Indian treasures, and partly of the wealth amassed by their antagonists from the Edition: current; Page: [197] spoils of Peru and Chili. But so far did this, and whatever the bounty of their leader could add to it, fall below the high ideas of the recompense which they conceived to be due to their merit, that Ferdinand Pizarro, unable to gratify such extravagant expectations, had recourse to the same expedient which his brother had employed on a similar occasion, and endeavoured to find occupation for this turbulent assuming spirit, in order to prevent it from breaking out into open mutiny. With this view, he encouraged his most active officers to attempt the discovery and reduction of various provinces which had not hitherto submitted to the Spaniards. To every standard erected by the leaders who undertook any of those new expeditions, volunteers resorted, with the ardour and hope peculiar to the age. Several of Almagro’s soldiers joined them; and thus Pizarro had the satisfaction of being delivered both from the importunity of his discontented friends, and the dread of his ancient enemies.t

Almagro tried,Almagro himself remained for several months in custody, under all the anguish of suspense. For, although his doom was determined by the Pizarros from the moment that he fell into their hands, prudence constrained them to defer gratifying their vengeance, until the soldiers who had served under him, as well as several of their own followers in whom they could not perfectly confide, had left Cuzco. As soon as they set out upon their different expeditions, Almagro was impeached of treason, formally tried, and condemned to die. The sentence astonished him;condemned, and, though he had often braved death with un-launted spirit in the field, its approach under this ignominious form appalled him so much, that he had recourse to abject supplications, unworthy of his Edition: current; Page: [198] former fame. He besought the Pizarros to remember the ancient friendship between their brother and him, and how much he had contributed to the prosperity of their family; he reminded them of the humanity with which, in opposition to the repeated remonstrances of his own most attached friends, he had spared their lives when he had them in his power; he conjured them to pity his age and infirmities, and to suffer him to pass the wretched remainder of his days in bewailing his crimes, and in making his peace with heaven. The entreaties, says a Spanish historian, of a man so much beloved, touched many an unfeeling heart, and drew tears from many a stern eye. But the brothers remained inflexible. As soon as Almagro knew his fate to be inevitable, he met it with the dignity and fortitude of a veteran.and put to death. He was strangled in prison, and afterwards publicly beheaded. He suffered in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and left one son, by an Indian woman of Panama, whom, though at that time a prisoner in Lima, he named as successor to his government, pursuant to a power which the emperor had granted him.u

1539.As, during the civil dissensions in Peru, all intercourse with Spain was suspended,Deliberations of the court of Spain concerning the state of Peru. the detail of the extraordinary transactions there did not soon reach the court. Unfortunately for the victorious faction, the first intelligence was brought thither by some of Almagro’s officers, who left the country upon the ruin of their cause; and they related what had happened, with every circumstance unfavourable to Pizarro and his brothers. Their ambition, their breach of the most solemn engagements, their violence and cruelty, were painted with all the malignity and exaggeration of party hatred. Ferdinand Pizarro, who arrived soon after, and appeared in court with extraordinary Edition: current; Page: [199] splendour, endeavoured to efface the impression which their accusations had made, and to justify his brother and himself by representing Almagro as the aggressor. The emperor and his ministers, though they could not pronounce which of the contending factions was most criminal, clearly discerned the fatal tendency of their dissensions. It was obvious, that while the leaders, intrusted with the conduct of two infant colonies, employed the arms which should have been turned against the common enemy in destroying one another, all attention to the public good must cease; and there was reason to dread that the Indians might improve the advantage which the disunion of the Spaniards presented to them, and extirpate both the victors and vanquished. But the evil was more apparent than the remedy. Where the information which had been received was so defective and suspicious, and the scene of action so remote, it was almost impossible to chalk out the line of conduct that ought to be followed; and before any plan that should be approved of in Spain could be carried into execution, the situation of the parties, and the circumstances of affairs, might alter so entirely as to render its effects extremely pernicious.

Vaca de Castro sent thither with ample powers.Nothing therefore remained but to send a person to Peru, vested with extensive and discretionary power, who, after viewing deliberately the posture of affairs with his own eyes, and enquiring upon the spot into the conduct of the different leaders, should be authorized to establish the government in that form which he deemed most conducive to the interest of the parent state, and the welfare of the colony. The man selected for this important charge was Christoval Vaca de Castro, a judge in the court of royal audience at Valladolid; and his abilities, integrity, and firmness, justified the choice. His instructions, though ample, were not such as to fetter Edition: current; Page: [200] him in his operations. According to the different aspect of affairs, he had power to take upon him different characters. If he found the governor still alive, he was to assume only the title of judge, to maintain the appearance of acting in concert with him, and to guard against giving any just cause of offence to a man who had merited so highly of his country. But if Pizarro were dead, he was intrusted with a commission that he might then produce, by which he was appointed his successor in the government of Peru. This attention to Pizarro, however, seems to have flowed rather from dread of his power, than from any approbation of his measures; for, at the very time that the court seemed so solicitous not to irritate him, his brother Ferdinand was arrested at Madrid, and confined to a prison, where he remained above twenty years.x

1540.While Vaca de Castro was preparing for his voyage, events of great moment happened in Peru.Pizarro divides Peru among his followers. The governor, considering himself, upon the death of Almagro, as the unrivalled possessor of that vast empire, proceeded to parcel out its territories among the conquerors; and had this division been made with any degree of impartiality, the extent of country which he had to bestow was sufficient to have gratified his friends, and to have gained his enemies. But Pizarro conducted this transaction, not with the equity and candour of a judge attentive to discover and to reward merit, but with the illiberal spirit of a party leader. Large districts, in parts of the country most cultivated and populous, were set apart as his own property, or granted to his brothers, his adherents, and favourites. To others, lots less valuable and inviting were assigned. The followers of Almagro, amongst whom were many of the original Edition: current; Page: [201] adventurers to whose valour and perseverance Pizarro was indebted for his success, were totally excluded from any portion of those lands, towards the acquisition of which they had contributed so largely. As the vanity of every individual set an immoderate value upon his own services, and the idea of each concerning the recompense due to them rose gradually to a more exorbitant height in proportion as their conquests extended, all who were disappointed in their expectations exclaimed loudly against the rapaciousness and partiality of the governor. The partisans of Almagro murmured in secret, and meditated revenge.y

Progress of the Spanish arms.Rapid as the progress of the Spaniards in South America had been since Pizarro landed in Peru, their avidity of dominion was not yet satisfied. The officers to whom Ferdinand Pizarro gave the command of different detachments, penetrated into several new provinces, and though some of them were exposed to great hardships in the cold and barren regions of the Andes, and others suffered distress not inferior amidst the woods and marshes of the plains, they made discoveries and conquests which not only extended their knowledge of the country, but added considerably to the territories of Spain in the New World. Pedro de Valdivia re-assumed Almagro’s scheme of invading Chili, and, notwithstanding the fortitude of the natives in defending their possessions, made such progress in the conquest of the country, that he founded the city of St. Jago, and gave a beginning to the establishment of the Spanish dominion in that province.zRemarkable expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro. But of all the enterprises undertaken about this period, that of Gonzalo Pizarro was the most remarkable. The governor, who seems to have resolved that no person in Peru should possess any station of distinguished eminence or authority but those of his own family, Edition: current; Page: [202] had deprived Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, of his command in that kingdom, and appointed his brother Gonzalo to take the government of it. He instructed him to attempt the discovery and conquest of the country to the east of the Andes, which, according to the information of the Indians, abounded with cinnamon and other valuable spices. Gonzalo, not inferior to any of his brothers in courage, and no less ambitious of acquiring distinction, eagerly engaged in this difficult service. He set out from Quito at the head of three hundred and forty soldiers, near one half of whom were horsemen; with four thousand Indians to carry their provisions. In forcing their way through the defiles, or over the ridges of the Andes, excess of cold and fatigue, to neither of which they were accustomed, proved fatal to the greater part of their wretched attendants.Hardships they endure. The Spaniards, though more robust, and inured to a variety of climates, suffered considerably, and lost some men; but when they descended into the low country, their distress increased. During two months it rained incessantly, without any interval of fair weather long enough to dry their clothes.a The immense plains upon which they were now entering, either altogether without inhabitants, or occupied by the rudest and least industrious tribes in the New World, yielded little subsistence. They could not advance a step but as they cut a road through woods, or made it through marshes. Such incessant toil, and continual scarcity of food, seem more than sufficient to have exhausted and dispirited any troops. But the fortitude and perseverance of the Spaniards in the sixteenth century were insuperable. Allured by frequent but false accounts of rich countries before them, they persisted in struggling on, until they reached the banks of the Coca or Napo, one of the large rivers whose waters Edition: current; Page: [203] pour into the Maragnon, and contribute to its grandeur. There, with infinite labour, they built a bark, which they expected would prove of great utility, in conveying them over rivers, in procuring provisions, and in exploring the country. This was manned with fifty soldiers, under the command of Francis Orellana, the officer next in rank to Pizarro. The stream carried them down with such rapidity, that they were soon far ahead of their countrymen, who followed slowly and with difficulty by land.

Deserted by Orellana.At this distance from his commander, Orellana, a young man of an aspiring mind, began to fancy himself independent, and transported with the predominant passion of the age, he formed the scheme of distinguishing himself as a discoverer, by following the course of the Maragnon, until it joined the ocean, and by surveying the vast regions through which it flows. This scheme of Orellana’s was as bold as it was treacherous. For, if he be chargeable with the guilt of having violated his duty to his commander, and with having abandoned his fellow-soldiers in a pathless desert, where they had hardly any hopes of success, or even of safety, but what were founded on the service which they expected from the bark; his crime is, in some measure, balanced by the glory of having ventured upon a navigation of near two thousand leagues, through unknown nations, in a vessel hastily constructed, with green timber, and by very unskilful hands, without provisions, without a compass, or a pilot. But his courage and alacrity supplied every defect.Sails down the Maragnon. Committing himself fearlessly to the guidance of the stream, the Napo bore him along to the south, until he reached the great channel of the Maragnon. Turning with it towards the coast, he held on his course in that direction. He made frequent descents on both sides of the river, sometimes seizing by force of arms the provisions of the fierce Edition: current; Page: [204] savages seated on its banks; and sometimes procuring a supply of food by a friendly intercourse with more gentle tribes. After a long series of dangers, which he encountered with amazing fortitude, and of distresses which he supported with no less magnanimity, he reached the oceanb, where new perils awaited him. These he likewise surmounted, and got safe to the Spanish settlement in the island of Cubagua; from thence he sailed to Spain. The vanity natural to travellers who visit regions unknown to the rest of mankind, and the art of an adventurer, solicitous to magnify his own merit, concurred in prompting him to mingle an extraordinary proportion of the marvellous in the narrative of his voyage. He pretended to have discovered nations so rich, that the roofs of their temples were covered with plates of gold; and described a republic of women so warlike and powerful, as to have extended their dominion over a considerable tract of the fertile plains which he had visited. Extravagant as those tales were, they gave rise to an opinion, that a region abounding with gold, distinguished by the name of El Dorado, and a community of Amazons, were to be found in this part of the New World; and such is the propensity of mankind to believe what is wonderful, that it has been slowly and with difficulty that reason and observation have exploded those fables. The voyage, however, even when stripped of every romantic embellishment, deserves to be recorded, not only as one of the most memorable occurrences in that adventurous age, but as the first event which led to any certain knowledge of the extensive countries that stretch eastward from the Andes to the ocean.c

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No words can describe the consternation of Pizarro, when he did not find the bark at the confluence of the Napo and Maragnon, where he had ordered Orellana to wait for him.Distress of Pizarro. He would not allow himself to suspect that a man, whom he had intrusted with such an important command, could be so base and so unfeeling, as to desert him at such a juncture. But imputing his absence from the place of rendezvous to some unknown accident, he advanced above fifty leagues along the banks of the Maragnon, expecting every moment to see the bark appear with a supply of provisions.1541. At length he came up with an officer whom Orellana had left to perish in the desert, because he had the courage to remonstrate against his perfidy. From him he learned the extent of Orellana’s crime, and his followers perceived at once their own desperate situation, when deprived of their only resource. The spirit of the stoutest-hearted veteran sunk within him, and all demanded to be led back instantly. Pizarro, though he assumed an appearance of tranquillity, did not oppose their inclination. But he was now twelve hundred miles from Quito; and in that long march the Spaniards encountered hardships greater than those which they had endured in their progress outward, without the alluring hopes which then soothed and animated them under their sufferings. Hunger compelled them to feed on roots and berries, to eat all their dogs and horses, to devour the most loathsome reptiles, and even to gnaw the leather of their saddles and sword-belts. Four thousand Indians, and two hundred and ten Spaniards, perished in this wild disastrous expedition, which continued near two years; and, as fifty men were aboard the bark with Orellana, only fourscore got back to Quito. These were naked like savages, and so emaciated with famine, or worn out with fatigue, Edition: current; Page: [206] that they had more the appearance of spectres than of men.d

Number of malecontents in Peru.But, instead of returning to enjoy the repose which his condition required, Pizarro, on entering Quito, received accounts of a fatal event that threatened calamities more dreadful to him than those through which he had passed. From the time that his brother made that partial division of his conquests which has been mentioned, the adherents of Almagro, considering themselves as proscribed by the party in power, no longer entertained any hope of bettering their condition. Great numbers in despair resorted to Lima, where the house of young Almagro was always open to them, and the slender portion of his father’s fortune, which the governor allowed him to enjoy, was spent in affording them subsistence. The warm attachment with which every person who had served under the elder Almagro devoted himself to his interests, was quickly transferred to his son, who was now grown up to the age of manhood, and possessed all the qualities which captivate the affections of soldiers.Consider young Almagro as their leader. Of a graceful appearance, dexterous at all martial exercises, bold, open, generous, he seemed to be formed for command; and as his father, conscious of his own inferiority, from the total want of education, had been extremely attentive to have him instructed in every science becoming a gentleman; the accomplishments which he had acquired heightened the respect of his followers, as they gave him distinction and eminence among illiterate adventurers. In this young man the Almagrians found a point of union which they wanted, and, looking up to him as their head, were ready to undertake any thing for his advancement. Nor was affection for Almagro their Edition: current; Page: [207] only incitement; they were urged on by their own distresses. Many of them, destitute of common necessariese, and weary of loitering away life, a burden to their chief, or to such of their associates as had saved some remnant of their fortune from pillage and confiscation, longed impatiently for an occasion to exert their activity and courage, and began to deliberate how they might be avenged on the author of all their misery.Conspire against the life of Pizarro, Their frequent cabals did not pass unobserved; and the governor was warned to be on his guard against men who meditated some desperate deed, and had resolution to execute it. But, either from the native intrepidity of his mind, or from contempt of persons whose poverty seemed to render their machinations of little consequence, he disregarded the admonitions of his friends. “Be in no pain,” said he carelessly, “about my life; it is perfectly safe, as long as every man in Peru knows that I can in a moment cut off any head which dares to harbour a thought against it.” This security gave the Almagrians full leisure to digest and ripen every part of their scheme; and Juan de Herrada, an officer of great abilities, who had the charge of Almagro’s education, took the direction of their consultations, with all the zeal which this connection inspired, and with all the authority which the ascendant that he was known to have over the mind of his pupil gave him.

and kill him.On Sunday, the twenty-sixth of June, at mid-day, the season of tranquillity and repose in all sultry climates, Herrada, at the head of eighteen of the most determined conspirators, sallied out of Almagro’s house in complete armour; and, drawing their swords, as they advanced hastily towards the governor’s palace, cried out, “Long live the king, but let the tyrant die!” Their associates, warned of their motions Edition: current; Page: [208] by a signal, were in arms at different stations ready to support them. Though Pizarro was usually surrounded by such a numerous train of attendants as suited the magnificence of the most opulent subject of the age in which he lived, yet, as he was just risen from table, and most of his domestics had retired to their own apartments, the conspirators passed through the two outer courts of the palace unobserved. They were at the bottom of the staircase before a page in waiting could give the alarm to his master, who was conversing with a few friends in a large hall. The governor, whose steady mind no form of danger could appal, starting up, called for arms, and commanded Francisco de Chaves to make fast the door. But that officer, who did not retain so much presence of mind as to obey this prudent order, running to the top of the staircase, wildly asked the conspirators what they meant, and whither they were going? Instead of answering, they stabbed him to the heart, and burst into the hall. Some of the persons who were there threw themselves from the windows; others attempted to fly; and a few drawing their swords followed their leader into an inner apartment. The conspirators, animated with having the object of their vengeance now in view, rushed forward after them. Pizarro, with no other arms than his sword and buckler, defended the entry, and, supported by his half-brother Alcantara, and his little knot of friends, he maintained the unequal contest with intrepidity worthy of his past exploits, and with the vigour of a youthful combatant. “Courage,” cried he, “companions! we are yet enow to make those traitors repent of their audacity.” But the armour of the conspirators protected them, while every thrust they made took effect. Alcantara fell dead at his brother’s feet; his other defenders were mortally wounded. The governor, so weary that he could hardly wield Edition: current; Page: [209] his sword, and no longer able to parry the many weapons furiously aimed at him, received a deadly thrust full in his throat, sunk to the ground, and expired.

Almagro acknowledged as his successor.As soon as he was slain, the assassins ran out into the streets, and, waving their bloody swords, proclaimed the death of the tyrant. Above two hundred of their associates having joined them, they conducted young Almagro in solemn procession through the city, and, assembling the magistrates and principal citizens, compelled them to acknowledge him as lawful successor to his father in his government. The palace of Pizarro, together with the houses of several of his adherents, were pillaged by the soldiers, who had the satisfaction at once of being avenged on their enemies, and of enriching themselves by the spoils of those through whose hands all the wealth of Peru had passed.f

New appearances of discord.The boldness and success of the conspiracy, as well as the name and popular qualities of Almagro, drew many soldiers to his standard. Every adventurer of desperate fortune, all who were dissatisfied with Pizarro, and, from the rapaciousness of his government in the latter years of his life, the number of malecontents was considerable, declared, without hesitation, in favour of Almagro, and he was soon at the head of eight hundred of the most gallant veterans in Peru. As his youth and inexperience disqualified him from taking the command of them himself, he appointed Herrada to act as general. But, though Almagro speedily collected such a respectable force, the acquiescence in his government was far from being general. Pizarro had left many friends to whom his memory was dear; the barbarous assassination of a Edition: current; Page: [210] man to whom his country was so highly indebted, filled every impartial person with horror. The ignominious birth of Almagro, as well as the doubtful title on which he founded his pretensions, led others to consider him as an usurper. The officers who commanded in some provinces refused to recognise his authority, until it was confirmed by the emperor. In others, particularly at Cuzco, the royal standard was erected, and preparations were begun in order to revenge the murder of their ancient leader.

Arrival of Vaca de Castro,Those seeds of discord, which could not have lain long dormant, acquired great vigour and activity, when the arrival of Vaca de Castro was known. After a long and disastrous voyage, he was driven by stress of weather into a small harbour in the province of Popayan; and proceeding from thence by land, after a journey no less tedious than difficult, he reached Quito. In his way he received accounts of Pizarro’s death, and of the events which followed upon it.who assumes the title of governor. He immediately produced the royal commission appointing him governor of Peru, with the same privileges and authority; and his jurisdiction was acknowledged without hesitation by Benalcazar, adelantado or lieutenant-general for the emperor in Popayan, and by Pedro de Puelles, who, in the absence of Gonzalo Pizarro, had the command of the troops left in Quito. Vaca de Castro not only assumed the supreme authority, but shewed that he possessed the talents which the exercise of it at that juncture required. By his influence and address he soon assembled such a body of troops, as not only to set him above all fear of being exposed to any insult from the adverse party, but enabled him to advance from Quito with the dignity that became his character. By dispatching persons of confidence to the different settlements in Peru, with a formal notification of his arrival and of his commission, he communicated to his countrymen Edition: current; Page: [211] the royal pleasure with respect to the government of the country. By private emissaries, he excited such officers as had discovered their disapprobation of Almagro’s proceedings, to manifest their duty to their sovereign by supporting the person honoured with his commission. Those measures were productive of great effects. Encouraged by the approach of the new governor, or prepared by his machinations, the loyal were confirmed in their principles, and avowed them with greater boldness; the timid ventured to declare their sentiments; the neutral and wavering, finding it necessary to choose a side, began to lean to that which now appeared to be the safest, as well as the most just.g

Conduct of Almagro.Almagro observed the rapid progress of this spirit of disaffection to his cause; and in order to give an effectual check to it before the arrival of Vaca de Castro, he set out at the head of his troops for Cusco,1542. where the most considerable body of opponents had erected the royal standard, under the command of Pedro Alvarez Holguin. During his march thither, Herrada, the skilful guide of his youth, and of his counsels, died; and from that time his measures were conspicuous for their violence, but concerted with little sagacity, and executed with no address. Holguin, who, with forces far inferior to those of the opposite party, was descending towards the coast at the very time that Almagro was on his way to Cuzco, deceived his unexperienced adversary by a very simple stratagem, avoided an engagement, and effected a junction with Alvarado, an officer of note, who had been the first to declare against Almagro as an usurper.

Progress of Vaca de Castro.Soon after, Vaca de Castro entered their camp with the troops which he brought from Quito, and erecting the royal standard before his own tent, he declared, Edition: current; Page: [212] that, as governor, he would discharge in person all the functions of general of their combined forces. Though formed by the tenour of his past life to the habits of a sedentary and pacific profession, he at once assumed the activity and discovered the decision of an officer long accustomed to command. Knowing his strength to be now far superior to that of the enemy, he was impatient to terminate the contest by a battle. Nor did the followers of Almagro, who had no hopes of obtaining a pardon for a crime so atrocious as the murder of the governor, decline that mode of decision.Sept. 16. They met at Chupaz, about two hundred miles from Cuzco, and fought with all the fierce animosity inspired by the violence of civil rage, the rancour of private enmity, the eagerness of revenge, and the last efforts of despair.Defeats Almagro. Victory, after remaining long doubtful, declared at last for Vaca de Castro. The superior number of his troops, his own intrepidity, and the martial talents of Francisco de Carvajal, a veteran officer formed under the great captain in the wars of Italy, and who on that day laid the foundation of his future fame in Peru, triumphed over the bravery of his opponents, though led on by young Almagro with a gallant spirit, worthy of a better cause, and deserving another fate. The carnage was great in proportion to the number of the combatants. Many of the vanquished, especially such as were conscious that they might be charged with being accessory to the assassination of Pizarro, rushing on the swords of the enemy, chose to fall like soldiers, rather than wait an ignominious doom. Of fourteen hundred men, the total amount of combatants on both sides, five hundred lay dead on the field, and the number of the wounded was still greater.h

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If the military talents displayed by Vaca de Castro, both in the council and in the field, surprised the adventurers in Peru,Severity of his proceedings. they were still more astonished at his conduct after the victory. As he was by nature a rigid dispenser of justice, and persuaded that it required examples of extraordinary severity to restrain the licentious spirit of soldiers so far removed from the seat of government, he proceeded directly to try his prisoners as rebels. Forty were condemned to suffer the death of traitors, others were banished from Peru. Their leader, who made his escape from the battle, being betrayed by some of his officers, was publicly beheaded in Cuzco; and in him the name of Almagro, and the spirit of the party, was extinct.i

Consultations of the emperor concerning his dominions in America.During those violent convulsions in Peru, the emperor and his ministers were intently employed in preparing regulations, by which they hoped not only to re-establish tranquillity there, but to introduce a more perfect system of internal policy into all their settlements in the New World. It is manifest from all the events recorded in the history of America, that, rapid and extensive as the Spanish conquests there had been, they were not carried on by any regular exertion of the national force, but by the occasional efforts of private adventurers. After fitting out a few of the first armaments for discovering new regions, the court of Spain, during the busy reigns of Ferdinand and of Charles V., the former the most intriguing prince of the age, and the latter the most ambitious, was encumbered with such a multiplicity of schemes, and involved in war with so many nations of Europe, that he had not leisure to attend to distant and less interesting objects. The care of prosecuting discovery, or of attempting conquest, was abandoned to individuals; and with such ardour did men push forward in this Edition: current; Page: [214] new career, on which novelty, the spirit of adventure, avarice, ambition, and the hope of meriting heaven, prompted them with combined influence to enter, that in less than half a century almost the whole of that extensive empire which Spain now possesses in the New World, was subjected to its dominion. As the Spanish court contributed nothing towards the various expeditions undertaken in America, it was not entitled to claim much from their success. The sovereignty of the conquered provinces, with the fifth of the gold and silver, was reserved for the crown; every thing else was seized by the associates in each expedition as their own right. The plunder of the countries which they invaded served to indemnify them for what they had expended in equipping themselves for the service, and the conquered territory was divided among them, according to rules which custom had introduced, as permanent establishments which their successful valour merited. In the infancy of those settlements, when their extent as well as their value was unknown, many irregularities escaped observation, and it was found necessary to connive at many excesses. The conquered people were frequently pillaged with destructive rapacity, and their country parcelled out among its new masters in exorbitant shares, far exceeding the highest recompense due to their services. The rude conquerors of America, incapable of forming their establishments upon any general or extensive plan of policy, attentive only to private interest, unwilling to forego present gain from the prospect of remote or public benefit, seem to have had no object but to amass sudden wealth, without regarding what might be the consequences of the means by which they acquired it. But when time at length discovered to the Spanish court the importance of its American possessions, the necessity of new-modelling their whole frame became obvious, and in place of the maxims and Edition: current; Page: [215] practices prevalent among military adventurers, it was found requisite to substitute the institutions of regular government.

One evil in particular called for an immediate remedy. The conquerors of Mexico and Peru imitated the fatal example of their countrymen settled in the islands, and employed themselves in searching for gold and silver with the same inconsiderate eagerness. Similar effects followed. The natives employed in this labour by masters, who in imposing their tasks had no regard either to what they felt or to what they were able to perform, pined away and perished so fast, that there was reason to apprehend that Spain, instead of possessing countries peopled to such a degree as to be susceptible of progressive improvement, would soon remain proprietor only of a vast uninhabited desert.

The emperor and his ministers were so sensible of this, and so solicitous to prevent the extinction of the Indian race, which threatened to render their acquisitions of no value, that from time to time various laws, which I have mentioned, had been made for securing to that unhappy people more gentle and equitable treatment. But the distance of America from the seat of empire, the feebleness of government in the new colonies, the avarice and audacity of soldiers unaccustomed to restraint, prevented these salutary regulations from operating with any considerable influence. The evil continued to grow, and at this time the emperor found an interval of leisure from the affairs of Europe to take it into attentive consideration.The persons with whom he advises. He consulted not only with his ministers and the members of the council of the Indies, but called upon several persons who had resided long in the New World, to aid them with the result of their experience and observation. Fortunately for the people of America, among these was Bartholomew de las Casas, who happened to be then at Madrid on a mission from Edition: current; Page: [216] a chapter of his order at Chiapa.k Though, since the miscarriage of his former schemes for the relief of the Indians, he had continued shut up in his cloister, or occupied in religious functions, his zeal in behalf of the former objects of his pity was so far from abating, that, from an increased knowledge of their sufferings, its ardour had augmented. He seized eagerly this opportunity of reviving his favourite maxims concerning the treatment of the Indians. With the moving eloquence natural to a man on whose mind the scenes which he had beheld had made a deep impression, he described the irreparable waste of the human species in the New World, the Indian race almost totally swept away in the islands in less than fifty years, and hastening to extinction on the continent with the same rapid decay. With the decisive tone of one strongly prepossessed with the truth of his own system, he imputed all this to a single cause, to the exactions and cruelty of his countrymen, and contended that nothing could prevent the depopulation of America, but the declaring of its natives to be freemen, and treating them as subjects, not as slaves. Nor did he confide for the success of this proposal in the powers of his oratory alone. In order to enforce them, he composed his famous treatise concerning the destruction of Americal, in which he relates, with many horrid circumstances, but with apparent marks of exaggerated description, the devastation of every province which had been visited by the Spaniards.

His solicitude to introduce a general reformation of government.The emperor was deeply afflicted with the recital of so many actions shocking to humanity. But as his views extended far beyond those of Las Casas, he perceived that relieving the Indians from oppression was but one step towards rendering his possessions in the New World a valuable acquisition, and would be of little avail, unless he could circumscribe the power Edition: current; Page: [217] and usurpations of his own subjects there. The conquerors of America, however great their merit had been towards their country, were mostly persons of such mean birth, and of such an abject rank in society, as gave no distinction in the eye of a monarch. The exorbitant wealth with which some of them returned gave umbrage to an age not accustomed to see men in inferior condition elevated above their level, and rising to emulate or to surpass the ancient nobility in splendour. The territories which their leaders had appropriated to themselves were of such enormous extentm, that, if the country should ever be improved in proportion to the fertility of the soil, they must grow too wealthy and too powerful for subjects. It appeared to Charles that this abuse required a remedy no less than the other, and that the regulations concerning both must be enforced by a mode of government more vigorous than had yet been introduced into America.

New regulations for this purpose.With this view he framed a body of laws, containing many salutary appointments with respect to the constitution and powers of the supreme council of the Indies; concerning the station and jurisdiction of the royal audiences in different parts of America; the administration of justice; the order of government, both ecclesiastical and civil. These were approved of by all ranks of men. But together with them were issued the following regulations, which excited universal alarm, and occasioned the most violent convulsions: “That as the repartimientos, or shares of land, seized by several persons appeared to be excessive, the royal audiences are empowered to reduce them to a moderate extent; that, upon the death of any conqueror or planter, the lands and Indians granted to him shall not descend to his widow or children, but return to the crown; that the Indians Edition: current; Page: [218] shall henceforth be exempted from personal service, and shall not be compelled to carry the baggage of travellers, to labour in the mines, or to dive in the pearl fisheries; that the stated tribute due by them to their superior shall be ascertained, and they shall be paid as servants for any work they voluntarily perform; that all persons who are or have been in public offices, all ecclesiastics of every denomination, all hospitals and monasteries, shall be deprived of the lands and Indians allotted to them, and these be annexed to the crown; that every person in Peru, who had any criminal concern in the contests between Pizarro and Almagro, should forfeit his lands and Indians.”n

His ministers remonstrate against them.All the Spanish ministers who had hitherto been intrusted with the direction of American affairs, and who were best acquainted with the state of the country, remonstrated against those regulations, as ruinous to their infant colonies. They represented, that the number of Spaniards who had hitherto emigrated to the New World was so extremely small, that nothing could be expected from any effort of theirs towards improving the vast regions over which they were scattered; that the success of every scheme for this purpose must depend upon the ministry and service of the Indians, whose native indolence and aversion to labour no prospect of benefit or promise of reward could surmount; that the moment the right of imposing a task, and exacting the performance of it, was taken from their masters, every work of industry must cease, and all the sources from which wealth began to pour in upon Spain must be stopped for ever. But Charles, tenacious at all times of his own opinions, and so much impressed at present with the view of the disorders which reigned in America, that he was willing to hazard the application even of a dangerous remedy, persisted in his resolution of Edition: current; Page: [219] publishing the laws. That they might be carried into execution with greater vigour and authority, he authorized Francisco Tello de Sandoval to repair to Mexico, as visitador or superintendent of that country, and to co-operate with Antonio de Mendoza, the viceroy, in enforcing them.A viceroy appointed for Peru. He appointed Blasco Nuñez Vela to be governor of Peru, with the title of viceroy;1543. and, in order to strengthen his administration, he established a court of royal audience in Lima, in which four lawyers of eminence were to preside as judges.o

Effects of the regulations in New Spain:The viceroy and superintendent sailed at the same time; and an account of the laws which they were to enforce reached America before them.1544. The entry of Sandoval into Mexico was viewed as the prelude of general ruin. The unlimited grant of liberty to the Indians affected every Spaniard in America without distinction, and there was hardly one who might not, on some pretext, be included under the other regulations, and suffer by them. But the colony in New Spain had now been so long accustomed to the restraints of law and authority, under the steady and prudent administration of Mendoza, that, how much soever the spirit of the new statutes was detested and dreaded, no attempt was made to obstruct the publication of them by any act of violence unbecoming subjects. The magistrates and principal inhabitants, however, presented dutiful addresses to the viceroy and superintendent, representing the fatal consequences of enforcing them. Happily for them, Mendoza, by long residence in the country, was so thoroughly acquainted with its state, that he knew what was for its interest, as well as what it could bear; and Sandoval, though new in office, displayed a degree of moderation seldom possessed by persons just entering upon the exercise of power. They engaged Edition: current; Page: [220] to suspend, for some time, the execution of what was offensive in the new laws, and not only consented that a deputation of citizens should be sent to Europe, to lay before the emperor the apprehensions of his subjects in New Spain with respect to their tendency and effects, but they concurred with them in supporting their sentiments. Charles, moved by the opinion of men whose abilities and integrity entitled them to decide concerning what fell immediately under their own view, granted such a relaxation of the rigour of the laws as re-established the colony in its former tranquillity.p

in Peru.In Peru, the storm gathered with an aspect still more fierce and threatening, and was not so soon dispelled. The conquerors of Peru, of a rank much inferior to those who had subjected Mexico to the Spanish crown, farther removed from the inspection of the parent state, and intoxicated with the sudden acquisition of wealth, carried on all their operations with greater licence and irregularity than any body of adventurers in the New World. Amidst the general subversion of law and order, occasioned by two successive civil wars, when each individual was at liberty to decide for himself, without any guide but his own interest or passions, this turbulent spirit rose above all sense of subordination. To men thus corrupted by anarchy, the introduction of regular government, the power of a viceroy, and the authority of a respectable court of judicature, would of themselves have appeared formidable restraints, to which they would have submitted with reluctance. But they revolted with indignation against the idea of complying with laws, by which they were to be stripped at once of all they had earned so hardly, during many years of service Edition: current; Page: [221] and suffering. As the account of the new laws spread successively through the different settlements, the inhabitants ran together, the women in tears, and the men exclaiming against the injustice and ingratitude of their sovereign in depriving them, unheard and unconvicted, of their possessions. “Is this,” cried they, “the recompense due to persons, who, without public aid, at their own expence, and by their own valour, have subjected to the crown of Castile territories of such immense extent and opulence? Are these the rewards bestowed for having endured unparalleled distress, for having encountered every species of danger in the service of their country? Whose merit is so great, whose conduct has been so irreproachable, that he may not be condemned by some penal clause in regulations, conceived in terms as loose and comprehensive as if it had been intended that all should be entangled in their snare? Every Spaniard of note in Peru has held some public office, and all, without distinction, have been constrained to take an active part in the contest between the two rival chiefs. Were the former to be robbed of their property because they had done their duty? Were the latter to be punished on account of what they could not avoid? Shall the conquerors of this great empire, instead of receiving marks of distinction, be deprived of the natural consolation of providing for their widows and children, and leave them to depend for subsistence on the scanty supply they can extort from unfeeling courtiers?q We are not able now, continued they, to explore unknown regions in quest of more secure settlements; our constitutions debilitated with age, and our bodies covered with wounds, are no longer fit for active service; but still we possess vigour sufficient to assert our just rights, and we will not tamely suffer them to be wrested from us.”r

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By discourses of this sort, uttered with vehemence, and listened to with universal approbation, their passions were inflamed to such a pitch,An insurrection prevented by the moderation of Castro. that they were prepared for the most violent measures; and began to hold consultations in different places, how they might oppose the entrance of the viceroy and judges, and prevent not only the execution but the promulgation of the new laws. From this, however, they were diverted by the address of Vaga de Castro, who flattered them with hopes, that, as soon as the viceroy and judges should arrive, and had leisure to examine their petitions and remonstrances, they would concur with them in endeavouring to procure some mitigation in the rigour of laws which had been framed without due attention either to the state of the country, or to the sentiments of the people. A greater degree of accommodation to these, and even some concessions on the part of government, were now become requisite to compose the present ferment, and to soothe the colonists into submission, by inspiring them with confidence in their superiors. But, without profound discernment, conciliating manners, and flexibility of temper, such a plan could not be carried on. The viceroy possessed none of these.The spirit of disaffection increased by the viceroy. Of all the qualities that fit men for high command, he was endowed only with integrity and courage; the former harsh and uncomplying, the latter bordering so frequently on rashness or obstinacy, that in his situation they were defects rather than virtues.March 4. From the moment that he landed at Tumbez, Nuñez Vela seems to have considered himself merely as an executive officer, without any discretionary power; and, regardless of whatever he observed or heard concerning the state of the country, he adhered to the letter of the regulations with unrelenting rigour. In all the towns through which he passed, the natives were declared to be free, every person in public office was deprived Edition: current; Page: [223] of his lands and servants; and, as an example of obedience to others, he would not suffer a single Indian to be employed in carrying his own baggage in his march towards Lima. Amazement and consternation went before him as he approached; and so little solicitous was he to prevent these from augmenting, that, on entering the capital, he openly avowed that he came to obey the orders of his sovereign, not to dispense with his laws. This harsh declaration was accompanied with what rendered it still more intolerable, haughtiness in deportment, a tone of arrogance and decision in discourse, and an insolence of office grievous to men little accustomed to hold civil authority in high respect. Every attempt to procure a suspension or mitigation of the new laws, the viceroy considered as flowing from a spirit of disaffection that tended to rebellion. Several persons of rank were confined, and some put to death, without any form of trial. Vaca de Castro was arrested, and, notwithstanding the dignity of his former rank, and his merit, in having prevented a general insurrection in the colony, he was loaded with chains, and shut up in the common gaol.s

The male-contents choose Gonzalo Pizarro to be their leader.But however general the indignation was against such proceedings, it is probable the hand of authority would have been strong enough to suppress it, or to prevent it bursting out with open violence, if the malecontents had not been provided with a leader of credit and eminence to unite and direct their efforts. From the time that the purport of the new regulations was known in Peru, every Spaniard there turned his eyes towards Gonzalo Pizarro, as the only person able to avert the ruin with which they threatened the colony. From all quarters, letters and addresses were sent to him, conjuring him to stand forth Edition: current; Page: [224] as their common protector, and offering to support him in the attempt with their lives and fortunes. Gonzalo, though inferior in talents to his other brothers, was equally ambitious, and of courage no less daring. The behaviour of an ungrateful court towards his brothers and himself, dwelt continually on his mind. Ferdinand a state prisoner in Europe, the children of the governor in custody of the viceroy, and sent aboard his fleet, himself reduced to the condition of a private citizen in a country, for the discovery and conquest of which Spain was indebted to his family; these thoughts prompted him to seek for vengeance, and to assert the rights of his family, of which he now considered himself as the guardian and the heir. But as no Spaniard can easily surmount that veneration for his sovereign which seems to be interwoven in his frame, the idea of marching in arms against the royal standard filled him with horror. He hesitated long, and was still unresolved, when the violence of the viceroy, the universal call of his countrymen, and the certainty of becoming soon a victim himself to the severity of the new laws, moved him to quit his residence at Chuquisaca de la Plata, and repair to Cuzco. All the inhabitants went out to meet him, and received him with transports of joy as the deliverer of the colony. In the fervour of their zeal, they elected him procurator-general of the Spanish nation in Peru, to solicit the repeal of the late regulations. They empowered him to lay their remonstrances before the royal audience in Lima, and, upon pretext of danger from the Indians, authorized him to march thither in arms. Under sanction of this nomination Pizarro took possession of the royal treasure, appointed officers, levied soldiers, seized a large train of artillery, which Vaca de Castro had deposited in Gumanga, and set out for Lima, as if he had been advancing against a public enemy. Disaffection Edition: current; Page: [225] having now assumed a regular form, and being united under a chief of such distinguished name, many persons of note resorted to his standard; and a considerable part of the troops, raised by the viceroy to oppose his progress, deserted to him in a body.t

Dissensions of the viceroy and court of audience.Before Pizarro reached Lima, a revolution had happened there, which encouraged him to proceed with almost certainty of success. The violence of the viceroy’s administration was not more formidable to the Spaniards of Peru, than his overbearing haughtiness was odious to his associates, the judges of the royal audience. During their voyage from Spain, some symptoms of coldness between the viceroy and them began to appear.u But as soon as they entered upon the exercise of their respective offices, both parties were so much exasperated by frequent contests, arising from interference of jurisdiction and contrariety of opinion, that their mutual disgust soon grew into open enmity. The judges thwarted the viceroy in every measure, set at liberty prisoners whom he had confined, justified the malecontents, and applauded their remonstrances. At a time when both departments of government should have united against the approaching enemy, they were contending with each other for superiority. The judges at length prevailed.The viceroy imprisoned. The viceroy, universally odious, and abandoned even by his own guards, was seized in his palace,Sept. 18. and carried to a desert island on the coast, to be kept there until he could be sent home to Spain.

Views of Pizarro.The judges, in consequence of this, having assumed the supreme direction of affairs into their own hands, issued a proclamation suspending the execution of the obnoxious laws, and sent a message to Pizarro, requiring him, as they had already granted whatever he Edition: current; Page: [226] could request, to dismiss his troops, and to repair to Lima, with fifteen or twenty attendants. They could hardly expect that a man so daring and ambitious would tamely comply with this requisition. It was made, probably, with no such intention, but only to throw a decent veil over their own conduct; for Cepeda, the president of the court of audience, a pragmatical and aspiring lawyer, seems to have held a secret correspondence with Pizarro, and had already formed the plan, which he afterwards executed, of devoting himself to his service. The imprisonment of the viceroy, the usurpation of the judges, together with the universal confusion and anarchy consequent upon events so singular and unexpected, opened new and vast prospects to Pizarro. He now beheld the supreme power within his reach. Nor did he want courage to push on towards the object which fortune presented to his view. Carvajal, the prompter of his resolutions, and guide of all his actions, had long fixed his eye upon it as the only end at which Pizarro ought to aim. Instead of the inferior function of procurator for the Spanish settlements in Peru, he openly demanded to be governor and captain-general of the whole province, and required the court of audience to grant him a commission to that effect. At the head of twelve hundred men, within a mile of Lima, where there was neither leader nor army to oppose him, such a request carried with it the authority of a command. But the judges, either from unwillingness to relinquish power, or from a desire of preserving some attention to appearances, hesitated, or seemed to hesitate, about complying with what he demanded.He assumes the government. Carvajal, impatient of delay, and impetuous in all his operations, marched into the city by night, seized several officers of distinction obnoxious to Pizarro, and hanged them without the formality of a trial. Next morning the court of audience issued a Edition: current; Page: [227] commission in the emperor’s name, appointing Pizarro governor of Peru, with full powers, civil as well as military, and he entered the town that day with extraordinary pomp, to take possession of his new dignity.x

October 28.But amidst the disorder and turbulence which accompanied this total dissolution of the frame of government,The viceroy recovers his liberty. the minds of men, set loose from the ordinary restraints of law and authority, acted with such capricious irregularity, that events no less extraordinary than unexpected followed in a rapid succession. Pizarro had scarcely begun to exercise the new powers with which he was invested, when he beheld formidable enemies rise up to oppose him. The viceroy having been put on board a vessel by the judges of the audience, in order that he might be carried to Spain under custody of Juan Alvarez, one of their own number; as soon as they were out at sea, Alvarez, either touched with remorse, or moved by fear, kneeled down to his prisoner, declaring him from that moment to be free, and that he himself, and every person in the ship, would obey him as the legal representative of their sovereign. Nuñez Vela ordered the pilot of the vessel to shape his course towards Tumbez, and, as soon as he landed there, erected the royal standard, and resumed his functions of viceroy. Several persons of note, to whom the contagion of the seditious spirit which reigned at Cuzco and Lima had not reached, instantly avowed their resolution to support his authority.y The violence of Pizarro’s government, who observed every individual with the jealousy natural to usurpers, and who punished every appearance of disaffection with unforgiving severity, soon augmented the number of the viceroy’s adherents, as Edition: current; Page: [228] it forced some leading men in the colony to fly to him for refuge. While he was gathering such strength at Tumbez, that his forces began to assume the appearance of what was considered as an army in America, Diego Centeno, a bold and active officer, exasperated by the cruelty and oppression of Pizarro’s lieutenant-governor in the province of Charcas, formed a conspiracy against his life, cut him off, and declared for the viceroy.z

1545.Pizarro, though alarmed with those appearances of hostility in the opposite extremes of the empire,Pizarro marches against him. was not disconcerted. He prepared to assert the authority to which he had attained, with the spirit and conduct of an officer accustomed to command, and marched directly against the viceroy, as the enemy who was nearest as well as most formidable. As he was master of the public revenues in Peru, and most of the military men were attached to his family, his troops were so numerous, that the viceroy, unable to face them, retreated towards Quito. Pizarro followed him; and in that long march, through a wild mountainous country, suffered hardships and encountered difficulties, which no troops but those accustomed to serve in America could have endured or surmounted.a The viceroy had scarcely reached Quito, when the vanguard of Pizarro’s forces appeared, led by Carvajal, who, though near fourscore, was as hardy and active as any young soldier under his command. Nuñez Vela instantly abandoned a town incapable of defence, and, with a rapidity more resembling a flight than a retreat, marched into the province of Popayan. Pizarro continued to pursue; but finding it impossible to overtake him, returned to Quito. From thence he dispatched Carvajal to oppose Centeno, who was growing formidable in the southern provinces of the empire, and he Edition: current; Page: [229] himself remained there to make head against the viceroy.b

The viceroy defeated,By his own activity, and the assistance of Benalcazar, Nuñez Vela soon assembled four hundred men in Popayan. As he retained, amidst all his disasters, the same elevation of mind, and the same high sense of his own dignity, he rejected with disdain the advice of some of his followers, who urged him to make overtures of accommodation to Pizarro, declaring that it was only by the sword that a contest with rebels could be decided.1546. With this intention he marched back to Quito. Pizarro, relying on the superior number, and still more on the discipline and valour of his troops, advanced resolutely to meet him.January 18. The battle was fierce and bloody, both parties fighting like men who knew that the possession of a great empire, the fate of their leaders, and their own future fortune, depended upon the issue of that day. But Pizarro’s veterans pushed forward with such regular and well-directed force, that they soon began to make impression on their enemies. The viceroy, by extraordinary exertions, in which the abilities of a commander and the courage of a soldier were equally displayed, held victory for some time in suspense.and slain. At length he fell, pierced with many wounds; and the rout of his followers became general. They were hotly pursued. His head was cut off, and placed on the public gibbet in Quito, which Pizarro entered in triumph. The troops assembled by Centeno were dispersed soon after by Carvajal, and he himself compelled to fly to the mountains, where he remained for several months concealed in a cave. Every person in Peru, from the frontiers of Popayan to those of Chili, submitted to Pizarro; and by his fleet, under Pedro de Hinojosa, he had not only the unrivalled Edition: current; Page: [230] command of the South sea, but had taken possession of Panama, and placed a garrison in Nombre de Dios, on the opposite side of the isthmus, which rendered him master of the only avenue of communication between Spain and Peru, that was used at that period.c

Pizarro advised to assume the sovereignty of Peru;After this decisive victory, Pizarro and his followers remained for some time at Quito; and during the first transports of their exultation, they ran into every excess of licentious indulgence, with the riotous spirit usual among low adventurers upon extraordinary success. But amidst this dissipation, their chief and his confidents were obliged to turn their thoughts sometimes to what was serious, and deliberated with much solicitude concerning the part that he ought now to take. Carvajal, no less bold and decisive in council than in the field, had from the beginning warned Pizarro, that in the career on which he was entering, it was vain to think of holding a middle course; that he must either boldly aim at all, or attempt nothing. From the time that Pizarro obtained possession of the government of Peru, he inculcated the same maxim with greater earnestness. Upon receiving an account of the victory at Quito, he remonstrated with him in a tone still more peremptory. “You have usurped (said he, in a letter written to Pizarro on that occasion,) the supreme power in this country, in contempt of the emperor’s commission to the viceroy. You have marched in hostile array against the royal standard; you have attacked the representative of your sovereign in the field, have defeated him, and cut off his head. Think not that ever a monarch will forgive such insults on his dignity, or that any reconciliation with him can be cordial or sincere. Depend no longer on the precarious favour of Edition: current; Page: [231] another. Assume yourself the sovereignty over a country, to the dominion of which your family has a title founded on the rights both of discovery and conquest. It is in your power to attach every Spaniard in Peru of any consequence inviolably to your interest by liberal grants of lands and of Indians, or by instituting ranks of nobility, and creating titles of honour similar to those which are courted with so much eagerness in Europe. By establishing orders of knighthood, with privileges and distinctions resembling those in Spain, you may bestow a gratification upon the officers in your service, suited to the ideas of military men. Nor is it to your countrymen only that you ought to attend; endeavour to gain the natives. By marrying the coya, or daughter of the sun next in succession to the crown, you will induce the Indians, out of veneration for the blood of their ancient princes, to unite with the Spaniards in support of your authority. Thus, at the head of the ancient inhabitants of Peru, as well as of the new settlers there, you may set at defiance the power of Spain, and repel with ease any feeble force which it can send at such a distance.” Cepeda, the lawyer, who was now Pizarro’s confidential counsellor, warmly seconded Carvajal’s exhortations, and employed whatever learning he possessed in demonstrating, that all the founders of great monarchies had been raised to preeminence, not by the antiquity of their lineage, or the validity of their rights, but by their own aspiring valour and personal merit.d

but chooses to negotiate with the court of Spain.Pizarro listened attentively to both, and could not conceal the satisfaction with which he contemplated the object that they presented to his view. But, happily for the tranquillity of the world, few men possess that superior strength of mind, and extent of Edition: current; Page: [232] abilities, which are capable of forming and executing such daring schemes, as cannot be accomplished without overturning the established order of society, and violating those maxims of duty which men are accustomed to hold sacred. The mediocrity of Pizarro’s talents circumscribed his ambition within more narrow limits. Instead of aspiring at independent power, he confined his views to the obtaining from the court of Spain a confirmation of the authority which he now possessed; and, for that purpose, he sent an officer of distinction thither, to give such a representation of his conduct, and of the state of the country, as might induce the emperor and his ministers, either from inclination or from necessity, to continue him in his present station.

Consultations of the Spanish ministers.While Pizarro was deliberating with respect to the part which he should take, consultations were held in Spain, with no less solicitude, concerning the measures which ought to be pursued in order to re-establish the emperor’s authority in Peru. Though unacquainted with the last excesses of outrage to which the malecontents had proceeded in that country, the court had received an account of the insurrection against the viceroy, of his imprisonment, and the usurpation of the government by Pizarro. A revolution so alarming called for an immediate interposition of the emperor’s abilities and authority. But as he was fully occupied at that time in Germany, in conducting the war against the famous league of Smalkalde, one of the most interesting and arduous enterprises in his reign, the care of providing a remedy for the disorders in Peru devolved upon his son Philip, and the counsellors whom Charles had appointed to assist him in the government of Spain during his absence. At first view, the actions of Pizarro and his adherents appeared so repugnant to the duty of subjects towards their sovereign, that the Edition: current; Page: [233] greater part of the ministers insisted on declaring them instantly to be guilty of rebellion, and on proceeding to punish them with exemplary rigour. But when the fervour of their zeal and indignation began to abate, innumerable obstacles to the execution of this measure presented themselves. The veteran bands of infantry, the strength and glory of the Spanish armies, were then employed in Germany. Spain, exhausted of men and money by a long series of wars, in which she had been involved by the restless ambition of two successive monarchs, could not easily equip an armament of sufficient force to reduce Pizarro. To transport any respectable body of troops to a country so remote as Peru appeared almost impossible. While Pizarro continued master of the South sea, the direct route by Nombre de Dios and Panama was impracticable. An attempt to march to Quito by land, through the new kingdom of Granada, and the province of Popayan, across regions of prodigious extent, desolate, unhealthy, or inhabited by fierce and hostile tribes, would be attended with insurmountable danger and hardships. The passage to the South sea by the straits of Magellan was so tedious, so uncertain, and so little known in that age, that no confidence could be placed in any effort carried on in a course of navigation so remote and precarious. Nothing then remained but to relinquish the system which the ardour of their loyalty had first suggested, and to attempt by lenient measures what could not be effected by force. It was manifest, from Pizarro’s solicitude to represent his conduct in a favourable light to the emperor, that, notwithstanding the excesses of which he had been guilty, he still retained sentiments of veneration for his sovereign. By a proper application to these, together with some such concessions as should discover a spirit of moderation and forbearance in government, there was still room Edition: current; Page: [234] to hope that he might be yet reclaimed, or the ideas of loyalty natural to Spaniards might so far revive among his followers, that they would no longer lend their aid to uphold his usurped authority.

Gasca appointed to repair to Peru as president.The success, however, of this negotiation, no less delicate than it was important, depended entirely on the abilities and address of the person to whom it should be committed. After weighing with much attention the comparative merit of various persons, the Spanish ministers fixed, with unanimity of choice, upon Pedro de la Gasca, a priest in no higher station than that of counsellor to the inquisition. Though in no public office, he had been occasionally employed by government in affairs of trust and consequence, and had conducted them with no less skill than success; displaying a gentle and insinuating temper, accompanied with much firmness; probity, superior to any feeling of private interest; and a cautious circumspection in concerting measures, followed by such vigour in executing them, as is rarely found in alliance with the other. These qualities marked him out for the function to which he was destined. The emperor, to whom Gasca was not unknown, warmly approved of the choice, and communicated it to him in a letter, containing expressions of good-will and confidence, no less honourable to the prince who wrote, than to the subject who received it. Gasca, notwithstanding his advanced age and feeble constitution, and though, from the apprehensions natural to a man, who, during the course of his life, had never been out of his own country, he dreaded the effects of a long voyage, and of an unhealthy climatee, did not hesitate a moment about complying with the will of his sovereign.His moderation. But as a proof that it was from this principle alone he acted, he refused a bishopric which was offered to him, in Edition: current; Page: [235] order that he might appear in Peru with a more dignified character; he would accept of no higher title than that of president of the court of audience in Lima; and declared that he would receive no salary on account of his discharging the duties of that office. All he required was, that the expence of supporting his family should be defrayed by the public; and, as he was to go like a minister of peace, with his gown and breviary, and without any retinue but a few domestics, this would not load the revenue with any enormous burden.f

The powers committed to him.But while he discovered such disinterested moderation with respect to whatever related personally to himself, he demanded his official powers in a very different tone. He insisted, as he was to be employed in a country so remote from the seat of government, where he could not have recourse to his sovereign for new instructions on every emergence, and as the whole success of his negotiations must depend upon the confidence which the people with whom he had to treat could place in the extent of his powers, that he ought to be invested with unlimited authority; that his jurisdiction must reach to all persons and to all causes; that he must be empowered to pardon, to punish, or to reward, as circumstances and the behaviour of different men might require; that in case of resistance from the malecontents, he might be authorized to reduce them to obedience by force of arms, to levy troops for that purpose, and to call for assistance from the governors of all the Spanish settlements in America. These powers, though manifestly conducive to the great objects of his mission, appeared to the Spanish ministers to be inalienable prerogatives of royalty, which ought not to be delegated to a subject, and they refused to grant them. Edition: current; Page: [236] But the emperor’s views were more enlarged. As, from the nature of his employment, Gasca must be intrusted with discretionary power in several points, and all his efforts might prove ineffectual, if he was circumscribed in any one particular, Charles scrupled not to invest him with authority to the full extent that he demanded. Highly satisfied with this fresh proof of his master’s confidence, Gasca hastened his departure, and, without either money or troops, set out to quell a formidable rebellion.g

July 27.On his arrival at Nombre de Dios, he found Herman Mexia,His arrival at Panama. an officer of note, posted there, by order of Pizarro, with a considerable body of men, to oppose the landing of any hostile forces. But Gasca appeared in such pacific guise, with a train so little formidable, and with a title of no such dignity as to excite terror, that he was received with much respect. From Nombre de Dios he advanced to Panama, and met with a similar reception from Hinojosa, whom Pizarro had intrusted with the government of that town, and the command of his fleet stationed there. In both places he held the same language, declaring that he was sent by their sovereign as a messenger of peace, not as a minister of vengeance; that he came to redress all their grievances, to revoke the laws which had excited alarm, to pardon past offences, and to re-establish order and justice in the government of Peru. His mild deportment, the simplicity of his manners, the sanctity of his profession, and a winning appearance of candour, gained credit to his declarations. The veneration due to a person clothed with legal authority, and acting in virtue of a royal commission, began to revive among men accustomed for some time to nothing more respectable than an usurped jurisdiction. Hinojosa, Mexia, and several other officers of distinction, to each of whom Gasca Edition: current; Page: [237] applied separately, were gained over to his interest, and waited only for some decent occasion of declaring openly in his favour.h

Violent proceedings of Pizarro.This the violence of Pizarro soon afforded them. As soon as he heard of Gasca’s arrival at Panama, though he received, at the same time, an account of the nature of his commission, and was informed of his offers not only to render every Spaniard in Peru easy concerning what was past, by an act of general oblivion, but secure with respect to the future by repealing the obnoxious laws; instead of accepting with gratitude his sovereign’s gracious concessions, he was so much exasperated on finding that he was not to be continued in his station as governor of the country, that he instantly resolved to oppose the president’s entry into Peru, and to prevent his exercising any jurisdiction there. To this desperate resolution he added another highly preposterous. He sent a new deputation to Spain to justify this conduct, and to insist, in name of all the communities in Peru, for a confirmation of the government to himself during life, as the only means of preserving tranquillity there. The persons intrusted with this strange commission, intimated the intention of Pizarro to the president, and required him, in his name, to depart from Panama and return to Spain. They carried likewise secret instructions to Hinojosa, directing him to offer Gasca a present of fifty thousand pesos, if he would comply voluntarily with what was demanded of him; and if he should continue obstinate, to cut him off, either by assassination or poison.i

Gasca gains his fleet.Many circumstances concurred in pushing on Pizarro to those wild measures. Having been once accustomed to supreme command, he could not bear Edition: current; Page: [238] the thoughts of descending to a private station. Conscious of his own demerit, he suspected that the emperor studied only to deceive him, and would never pardon the outrages which he had committed. His chief confidents, no less guilty, entertained the same apprehensions. The approach of Gasca without any military force excited no terror. There were now above six thousand Spaniards settled in Peruk; and, at the head of these, he doubted not to maintain his own independence, if the court of Spain should refuse to grant what he required. But he knew not that a spirit of defection had already begun to spread among those whom he trusted most. Hinojosa, amazed at Pizarro’s precipitate resolution of setting himself in opposition to the emperor’s commission, and disdaining to be his instrument in perpetrating the odious crimes pointed out in his secret instructions, publicly recognised the title of the president to the supreme authority in Peru. The officers under his command did the same. Such was the contagious influence of the example, that it reached even the deputies who had been sent from Peru; and at the time when Pizarro expected to hear either of Gasca’s return to Spain, or of his death, he received an account of his being master of the fleet, of Panama, and of the troops stationed there.

1547.Irritated almost to madness by events so unexpected, he openly prepared for war;Pizarro resolves on war. and in order to give some colour of justice to his arms, he appointed the court of audience in Lima to proceed to the trial of Gasca, for the crimes of having seized his ships, seduced his officers, and prevented his deputies from proceeding in their voyage to Spain. Cepeda, though acting as a judge in virtue of the royal commission, did not scruple to prostitute the dignity of his function by finding Gasca guilty of treason, and condemning Edition: current; Page: [239] him to death on that account.l Wild and even ridiculous as this proceeding was, it imposed on the low illiterate adventurers, with whom Peru was filled, by the semblance of a legal sanction warranting Pizarro to carry on hostilities against a convicted traitor. Soldiers accordingly resorted from every quarter to his standard, and he was soon at the head of a thousand men, the best equipped that had ever taken the field in Peru.

Preparations of Gasca.Gasca, on his part, perceiving that force must be employed in order to accomplish the purpose of his mission, was no less assiduous in collecting troops from Nicaragua, Carthagena, and other settlements on the continent; and with such success, that he was soon in a condition to detach a squadron of his fleet, with a considerable body of soldiers, to the coast of Peru.April. Their appearance excited a dreadful alarm: and though they did not attempt for some time to make any descent, they did more effectual service by setting ashore in different places persons who dispersed copies of the act of general indemnity, and the revocation of the late edicts; and who made known every where the pacific intentions, as well as mild temper, of the president. The effect of spreading this information was wonderful. All who were dissatisfied with Pizarro’s violent administration, all who retained any sentiments of fidelity to their sovereign, began to meditate revolt. Some openly deserted a cause which they now deemed to be unjust. Centeno,Insurrection of Centeno, leaving the cave in which he lay concealed, assembled about fifty of his former adherents, and with this feeble half-armed band advanced boldly to Cuzco. By a sudden attack in the night time, in which he displayed no less military skill than valour, he rendered himself master of that capital, though Edition: current; Page: [240] defended by a garrison of five hundred men. Most of these having ranged themselves under his banners, he had soon the command of a respectable body of troops.m

against whom Pizarro marches,Pizarro, though astonished at beholding one enemy approaching by sea, and another by land, at a time when he trusted to the union of all Peru in his favour, was of a spirit more undaunted, and more accustomed to the vicissitudes of fortune, than to be disconcerted or appalled. As the danger from Centeno’s operations was the most urgent, he instantly set out to oppose him. Having provided horses for all his soldiers, he marched with amazing rapidity. But every morning he found his force diminished, by numbers who had left him during the night; and though he became suspicious to excess, and punished without mercy all whom he suspected, the rage of desertion was too violent to be checked. Before he got within sight of the enemy at Huarina, near the lake Titiaca, he could not muster more than four hundred soldiers. But these he justly considered as men of tried attachment, on whom he might depend. They were indeed the boldest and most desperate of his followers, conscious, like himself, of crimes for which they could hardly expect forgiveness, and without any hope but in the success of their arms.October 20. With these he did not hesitate to attack Centeno’s troops, though double to his own in number. The royalists did not decline the combat. It was the most obstinate and bloody that had hitherto been fought in Peru.and defeats him. At length the intrepid valour of Pizarro, and the superiority of Carvajal’s military talents, triumphed over numbers, and obtained a complete victory. The booty was immensen, and the treatment of the vanquished cruel. By this signal success the reputation of Pizarro was re-established; Edition: current; Page: [241] and being now deemed invincible in the field, his army increased daily in number.o

But events happened in other parts of Peru, which more than counterbalanced the splendid victory at Huarina. Pizarro had scarcely left Lima, when the citizens, weary of his oppressive dominion, erected the royal standard, and Aldana, with a detachment of soldiers from the fleet, took possession of the town. About the same timep,Gasca lands at Peru. Gasca landed at Tumbez with five hundred men. Encouraged by his presence, every settlement in the low country declared for the king. The situation of the two parties was now perfectly reversed; Cuzco and the adjacent provinces were possessed by Pizarro; all the rest of the empire, from Quito southward, acknowledged the jurisdiction of the president. As his numbers augmented fast, Gasca advanced into the interior part of the country. His behaviour still continued to be gentle and unassuming; he expressed, on every occasion, his ardent wish of terminating the contest without bloodshed. More solicitous to reclaim than to punish, he upbraided no man for past offences, but received them as a father receives penitent children returning to a sense of their duty. Though desirous of peace, he did not slacken his preparations for war.Advances towards Cuzco. He appointed the general rendezvous of his troops in the fertile valley of Xauxa, on the road to Cuzco.q There he remained for some months, not only that he might have time to make another attempt towards an accommodation with Pizarro, but that he might train his new soldiers to the use of arms, and accustom them to the discipline of a camp, before he led them against a body of victorious veterans. Pizarro, intoxicated Edition: current; Page: [242] with the success which had hitherto accompanied his arms, and elated with having again near a thousand men under his command, refused to listen to any terms, although Cepeda, together with several of his officers, and even Carvajal himselfr, gave it as their advice to close with the president’s offer of a general indemnity, and the revocation of the obnoxious laws.s Gasca having tried in vain every expedient to avoid imbruing his hands in the blood of his countrymen,Dec. 29. began to move towards Cuzco, at the head of sixteen hundred men.

Both parties prepare for battle.Pizarro, confident of victory, suffered the royalists to pass all the rivers which lie between Guamanga and Cuzco without opposition,1548. and to advance within four leagues of that capital, flattering himself that a defeat in such a situation as rendered escape impracticable would at once terminate the war. He then marched out to meet the enemy, and Carvajal chose his ground, and made the disposition of the troops with the discerning eye and profound knowledge in the art of war conspicuous in all his operations.April 9. As the two armies moved forwards slowly to the charge, the appearance of each was singular. In that of Pizarro, composed of men enriched with the spoils of the most opulent country in America, every officer and almost all the private men, were clothed in stuffs of silk, or brocade, embroidered with gold and silver; and their horses, their arms, their standards, were adorned with all the pride of military pomp.t That of Gasca, though not so splendid, exhibited what was no less striking. He himself, accompanied by the Archbishop of Lima, the Bishops of Quito and Cuzco, and a great number of ecclesiastics, marching along the lines, blessing the men, and encouraging them to a resolute discharge of their duty.

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When both armies were just ready to engage, Cepeda set spurs to his horse, galloped off, and surrendered himself to the president.Pizarro deserted by his troops, Garcilasso de la Vega, and other officers of note, followed his example. The revolt of persons in such high rank struck all with amazement. The mutual confidence, on which the union and strength of armies depend, ceased at once. Distrust and consternation spread from rank to rank. Some silently slipped away, others threw down their arms, the greatest number went over to the royalists. Pizarro, Carvajal, and some leaders, employed authority, threats, and entreaties, to stop them, but in vain. In less than half an hour, a body of men, which might have decided the fate of the Peruvian empire, was totally dispersed. Pizarro, seeing all irretrievably lost, cried out in amazement to a few officers who still faithfully adhered to him, “What remains for us to do?” “Let us rush,” replied one of them, “upon the enemy’s firmest battalion, and die like Romans.” Dejected with such a reverse of fortune, he had not spirit to follow this soldierly counsel, and, with a tameness disgraceful to his former fame,taken, he surrendered to one of Gasca’s officers. Carvajal, endeavouring to escape, was overtaken and seized.

and put to death.Gasca, happy in this bloodless victory, did not stain it with cruelty. Pizarro, Carvajal, and a small number of the most distinguished or notorious offenders, were punished capitally. Pizarro was beheaded on the day after he surrendered. He submitted to his fate with a composed dignity, and seemed desirous to atone by repentance for the crimes which he had committed. The end of Carvajal was suitable to his life. On his trial he offered no defence. When the sentence adjudging him to be hanged was pronounced, he carelessly replied, “One can but die once.” During the interval between the sentence and execution, he discovered no sign either of remorse Edition: current; Page: [244] for the past, or of solicitude about the future; scoffing at all who visited him, in his usual sarcastic vein of mirth, with the same quickness of repartee and gross pleasantry as at any other period of his life. Cepeda, more criminal than either, ought to have shared the same fate; but the merit of having deserted his associates at such a critical moment, and with such decisive effect, saved him from immediate punishment. He was sent, however, as a prisoner to Spain, and died in confinement.u

In the minute detail which the contemporary historians have given of the civil dissensions that raged in Peru, with little interruption, during ten years, many circumstances occur so striking, and which indicate such an uncommon state of manners, as to merit particular attention.

No mercenary soldiers in the civil wars of Peru.Though the Spaniards who first invaded Peru were of the lowest order in society, and the greater part of those who afterwards joined them were persons of desperate fortune, yet in all the bodies of troops brought into the field by the different leaders who contended for superiority, not one man acted as a hired soldier, that follows his standard for pay. Every adventurer in Peru considered himself as a conqueror, entitled, by his services, to an establishment in that country which had been acquired by his valour. In the contests between the rival chiefs, each chose his side as he was directed by his own judgment or affections. He joined his commander as a companion of his fortune, and disdained to degrade himself by receiving the wages of a mercenary. It was to their sword, not to pre-eminence in office, or nobility of birth, that most of the leaders whom they followed were indebted for their elevation; and each of their adherents hoped, by the same means, to open a Edition: current; Page: [245] way for himself to the possession of power and wealth.x

Armies immensely expensive;But though the troops in Peru served without any regular pay, they were raised at immense expence. Among men accustomed to divide the spoils of an opulent country, the desire of obtaining wealth acquired incredible force. The ardour of pursuit augmented in proportion to the hope of success. Where all were intent on the same object, and under the dominion of the same passion, there was but one mode of gaining men, or of securing their attachment. Officers of name and influence, besides the promise of future establishments, received in hand large gratuities from the chief with whom they engaged. Gonzalo Pizarro, in order to raise a thousand men, advanced five hundred thousand pesos.y Gasca expended in levying the troops which he led against Pizarro nine hundred thousand pesos.z The distribution of property, bestowed as the reward of services, was still more exorbitant.and immense rewards to individuals. Cepeda, as the recompense of his perfidy and address, in persuading the court of royal audience to give the sanction of its authority to the usurped jurisdiction of Pizarro, received a grant of lands which yielded an annual income of a hundred and fifty thousand pesos.a Hinojosa, who, by his early defection from Pizarro, and surrender of the fleet to Gasca, decided the fate of Peru, obtained a district of country affording two hundred thousand pesos of yearly value.b While such rewards were dealt out to the principal officers, with more than royal munificence, proportional shares were conferred upon those of inferior rank.

Their profusion and luxury.Such a rapid change of fortune produced its natural effects. It gave birth to new wants, and new desires. Edition: current; Page: [246] Veterans, long accustomed to hardship and toil, acquired of a sudden a taste for profuse and inconsiderate dissipation, and indulged in all the excesses of military licentiousness. The riot of low debauchery occupied some; a relish for expensive luxuries spread among others.c The meanest soldier in Peru would have thought himself degraded by marching on foot; and, at a time when the prices of horses in that country were exorbitant, each insisted on being furnished with one before he would take the field. But though less patient under the fatigue and hardships of service, they were ready to face danger and death with as much intrepidity as ever; and, animated by the hope of new rewards, they never failed, on the day of battle, to display all their ancient valour.

Ferocity with which their contests were carried on;Together with their courage, they retained all the ferocity by which they were originally distinguished. Civil discord never raged with a more fell spirit than among the Spaniards in Peru. To all the passions which usually envenom contests among countrymen, avarice was added, and rendered their enmity more rancorous. Eagerness to seize the valuable forfeitures expected upon the death of every opponent, shut the door against mercy. To be wealthy was of itself sufficient to expose a man to accusation, or to subject him to punishment. On the slightest suspicions, Pizarro condemned many of the most opulent inhabitants in Peru to death. Carvajal, without searching for any pretext to justify his cruelty, cut off many more. The number of those who suffered by the hands of the executioner was not much inferior to what fell in the fieldd; and the greater part was condemned without the formality of any legal trial.

and want of faith.The violence with which the contending parties treated their opponents was not accompanied with its Edition: current; Page: [247] usual attendants, attachment and fidelity to those with whom they acted. The ties of honour, which ought to be held sacred among soldiers, and the principle of integrity, interwoven as thoroughly in the Spanish character as in that of any nation, seem to have been equally forgotten. Even regard for decency, and the sense of shame, were totally lost. During their dissensions, there was hardly a Spaniard in Peru who did not abandon the party which he had originally espoused, betray the associates with whom he had united, and violate the engagements under which he had come. The viceroy, Nuñez Vela, was ruined by the treachery of Cepeda, and the other judges of the royal audience, who were bound by the duties of their function to have supported his authority. The chief advisers and companions of Gonzalo Pizarro’s revolt were the first to forsake him, and submit to his enemies. His fleet was given up to Gasca by the man whom he had singled out among his officers to intrust with that important command. On the day that was to decide his fate, an army of veterans, in sight of the enemy, threw down their arms without striking a blow, and deserted a leader who had often conducted them to victory. Instances of such general and avowed contempt of the principles and obligations which attach man to man, and bind them together in social union, rarely occur in history. It is only where men are far removed from the seat of government, where the restraints of law and order are little felt, where the prospect of gain is unbounded, and where immense wealth may cover the crimes by which it is acquired, that we can find any parallel to the levity, the rapaciousness, the perfidy and corruption prevalent among the Spaniards in Peru.

Gasca devises employment for his soldiers.On the death of Pizarro, the malecontents in every corner of Peru laid down their arms, and tranquillity seemed to be perfectly re-established. But two very Edition: current; Page: [248] interesting objects still remained to occupy the president’s attention. The one was to find immediately such employment for a multitude of turbulent and daring adventurers, with which the country was filled, as might prevent them from exciting new commotions. The other, to bestow proper gratifications upon those to whose loyalty and valour he had been indebted for his success. The former of these was in some measure accomplished, by appointing Pedro de Valdivia to prosecute the conquest of Chili; and by empowering Diego Centeno to undertake the discovery of the vast regions bordering on the river de la Plata. The reputation of those leaders, together with the hopes of acquiring wealth, and of rising to consequence in some unexplored country, alluring many of the most indigent and desperate soldiers to follow their standards, drained off no inconsiderable portion of that mutinous spirit which Gasca dreaded.

His division of the country among his followers.The latter was an affair of greater difficulty, and to be adjusted with a more attentive and delicate hand. The repartimientos, or allotments of lands and Indians, which fell to be distributed, in consequence of the death or forfeiture of the former possessors, exceeded two millions of pesos of yearly rent.e Gasca, when now absolute master of this immense property, retained the same disinterested sentiments which he had originally professed, and refused to reserve the smallest portion of it for himself. But the number of claimants was great; and, whilst the vanity or avarice of every individual fixed the value of his own services, and estimated the recompense which he thought due to him, the pretensions of each were so extravagant, that it was impossible to satisfy all. Gasca listened to them one by one, with the most patient attention; and, that he might have leisure to weigh the comparative merit of their several Edition: current; Page: [249] claims with accuracy, he retired, with the Archbishop of Lima and a single secretary, to a village twelve leagues from Cuzco. There he spent several days in allotting to each a district of lands and number of Indians, in proportion to his idea of their past services and future importance. But that he might get beyond the reach of the fierce storm of clamour and rage, which he foresaw would burst out on the publication of his decree, notwithstanding the impartial equity with which he had framed it, he set out for Lima, leaving the instrument of partition sealed up, with orders not to open it for some days after his departure.

August 24.The indignation excited by publishing the decree of partition was not less than Gasca had expected.The discontent it occasions. Vanity, avarice, emulation, envy, shame, rage, and all the other passions which most vehemently agitate the minds of men when both their honour and their interest are deeply affected, conspired in adding to its violence. It broke out with all the fury of military insolence. Calumny, threats, and curses, were poured out openly upon the president. He was accused of ingratitude, of partiality, and of injustice. Among soldiers prompt to action, such seditious discourse would have been soon followed by deeds no less violent; and they already began to turn their eyes towards some discontented leaders, expecting them to stand forth in redress of their wrongs. By some vigorous interpositions of government, a timely check was given to this mutinous spirit, and the danger of another civil war was averted for the present.f

1549.Gasca, however, perceiving that the flame was suppressed rather than extinguished,Re-establishes order and government, laboured with the utmost assiduity to soothe the malecontents, by bestowing large gratuities on some, by promising repartimientos, Edition: current; Page: [250] when they fell vacant, to others, and by caressing and flattering all. But that the public security might rest on a foundation more stable than their good affection, he endeavoured to strengthen the hands of his successors in office, by re-establishing the regular administration of justice in every part of the empire. He introduced order and simplicity into the mode of collecting the royal revenue. He issued regulations concerning the treatment of the Indians, well calculated to protect them from oppression, and to provide for their instruction in the principles of religion, without depriving the Spaniards of the benefit accruing from their labour.1550. Having now accomplished every object of his mission, Gasca, longing to return again to a private station, committed the government of Peru to the court of audience,Feb. 1. and set out for Spain.and sets out for Spain. As, during the anarchy and turbulence of the four last years, there had been no remittance made of the royal revenue, he carried with him thirteen hundred thousand pesos of public money, which the economy and order of his administration enabled him to save, after paying all the expences of the war.

His reception there.He was received in his native country with universal admiration of his abilities, and of his virtue. Both were, indeed, highly conspicuous. Without army, or fleet, or public funds; with a train so simple, that only three thousand ducats were expended in equipping himg, he set out to oppose a formidable rebellion. By his address and talents he supplied all those defects, and seemed to create instruments for executing his designs. He acquired such a naval force as gave him the command of the sea. He raised a body of men able to cope with the veteran bands which gave law to Peru. He vanquished their leader, on whose arms victory had Edition: current; Page: [251] hitherto attended, and in place of anarchy and usurpation, he established the government of laws, and the authority of the rightful sovereign. But the praise bestowed on his abilities was exceeded by that which his virtue merited. After residing in a country where wealth presented allurements which had seduced every person who had hitherto possessed power there, he returned from that trying station with integrity not only untainted, but unsuspected. After distributing among his countrymen possessions of greater extent and value than had ever been in the disposal of a subject, in any age or nation, he himself remained in his original state of poverty; and, at the very time when he brought such a large recruit to the royal treasury, he was obliged to apply, by petition, for a small sum to discharge some petty debts which he had contracted during the course of his service.h Charles was not insensible to such disinterested merit. Gasca was received by him with the most distinguishing marks of esteem, and being promoted to the bishopric of Palencia, he passed the remainder of his days in the tranquillity of retirement, respected by his country, honoured by his sovereign, and beloved by all.

Notwithstanding all Gasca’s wise regulations, the tranquillity of Peru was not of long continuance. In a country where the authority of government had been almost forgotten during the long prevalence of anarchy and misrule, where there were disappointed leaders ripe for revolt, and seditious soldiers ready to follow them, it was not difficult to raise combustion. Several successive insurrections desolated the country for some years. But as those, though fierce, were only transient storms, excited rather by the ambition and turbulence of particular men, than by general or public motives, the detail of them is not the object of Edition: current; Page: [252] this history. These commotions in Peru, like every thing of extreme violence, either in the natural or political body, were not of long duration; and by carrying off the corrupted humours which had given rise to the disorders, they contributed in the end to strengthen the society which at first they threatened to destroy. During their fierce contests, several of the first invaders of Peru, and many of those licentious adventurers whom the fame of their success had allured thither, fell by each other’s hands. Each of the parties, as they alternately prevailed in the struggle, gradually cleared the country of a number of turbulent spirits, by executing, proscribing, or banishing their opponents. Men less enterprising, less desperate, and more accustomed to move in the path of sober and peaceable industry, settled in Peru; and the royal authority was gradually established as firmly there as in the other Spanish colonies.

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THE

HISTORY

of

AMERICA.

BOOK VII.

As the conquest of the two great empires of Mexico and Peru forms the most splendid and interesting period in the history of America, a view of their political institutions, and a description of their national manners, will exhibit the human species to the contemplation of intelligent observers in a very singular stage of its progress.a

Mexico and Peru more polished than other parts of America.When compared with other parts of the New World, Mexico and Peru may be considered as polished states. Instead of small, independent, hostile tribes, struggling for subsistence amidst woods and marshes, strangers to industry and arts, unacquainted with subordination, and almost without the appearance of regular government, we find countries of great extent subjected to the dominion of one sovereign, the inhabitants collected together in cities, the wisdom and foresight of rulers employed in providing for the maintenance and security of the people, the empire of laws in some measure established, the authority of Edition: current; Page: [254] religion recognised, many of the arts essential to life brought to some degree of maturity,BOOK VII.lf1681-07_figure_001.jpg and the dawn of such as are ornamental beginning to appear.

The inferiority to the nations of the ancient continent.But if the comparison be made with the people of the ancient continent, the inferiority of America, in improvement, will be conspicuous, and neither the Mexicans nor Peruvians will be entitled to rank with those nations which merit the name of civilized. The people of both the great empires in America, like the rude tribes around them, were totally unacquainted with the useful metals, and the progress which they had made in extending their dominion over the animal creation was inconsiderable. The Mexicans had gone no farther than to tame and rear turkeys, ducks, a species of small dogs, and rabbits.b By this feeble essay of ingenuity, the means of subsistence were rendered somewhat more plentiful and secure, than when men depend solely on hunting; but they had no idea of attempting to subdue the more robust animals, or of deriving any aid from their ministry in carrying on works of labour. The Peruvians seem to have neglected the inferior animals, and had not rendered any of them domestic except the duck; but they were more fortunate in taming the llama, an animal peculiar to their country, of a form which bears some resemblance to a deer, and some to a camel, and is of a size somewhat larger than a sheep. Under the protection of man, this species multiplied greatly. Its wool furnished the Peruvians with clothing, its flesh with food. It was even employed as a beast of burden, and carried a moderate load with much patience and docility.c It was never used for draught; and the breed being confined to the mountainous country, its service, if we may judge by incidents which occur in Edition: current; Page: [255] the early Spanish writers, was not very extensive among the Peruvians in their original state.

In tracing the line by which nations proceed towards civilization, the discovery of the useful metals, and the acquisition of dominion over the animal creation, have been marked as steps of capital importance in their progress. In our continent, long after men had attained both, society continued in that state which is denominated barbarous. Even with all that command over nature which these confer, many ages elapse, before industry becomes so regular as to render subsistence secure; before the arts which supply the wants and furnish the accommodations of life are brought to any considerable degree of perfection, and before any idea is conceived of various institutions requisite in a well-ordered society. The Mexicans and Peruvians, without knowledge of the useful metals, or the aid of domestic animals, laboured under disadvantages which must have greatly retarded their progress, and, in their highest state of improvement, their power was so limited, and their operations so feeble, that they can hardly be considered as having advanced beyond the infancy of civil life.

View of the institutions and manners of each.After this general observation concerning the most singular and distinguishing circumstance in the state of both the great empires in America, I shall endeavour to give such a view of the constitution and interior police of each, as may enable us to ascertain their place in the political scale, to allot them their proper station between the rude tribes in the New World, and the polished states of the ancient, and to determine how far they had risen above the former, as well as how much they fell below the latter.

Imperfect information concerning those of Mexico.Mexico was first subjected to the Spanish crown. But our acquaintance with its laws and manners is not, from that circumstance, more complete. What I have remarked concerning the defective and inaccurate Edition: current; Page: [256] information on which we must rely with respect to the condition and customs of the savage tribes in America, may be applied likewise to our knowledge of the Mexican empire. Cortes, and the rapacious adventurers who accompanied him, had not leisure or capacity to enrich either civil or natural history with new observations. They undertook their expedition in quest of one object, and seem hardly to have turned their eyes towards any other. Or if, during some short interval of tranquillity, when the occupations of war ceased, and the ardour of plunder was suspended, the institutions and manners of the people whom they had invaded drew their attention, the enquiries of illiterate soldiers were conducted with so little sagacity and precision, that the accounts given by them of the policy and order established in the Mexican monarchy are superficial, confused, and inexplicable. It is rather from incidents which they relate occasionally, than from their own deductions and remarks, that we are enabled to form some idea of the genius and manners of that people. The obscurity in which the ignorance of its conquerors involved the annals of Mexico, was augmented by the superstition of those who succeeded them. As the memory of past events was preserved among the Mexicans by figures painted on skins, on cotton cloth, on a kind of pasteboard, or on the bark of trees, the early missionaries, unable to comprehend their meaning, and struck with their uncouth forms, conceived them to be monuments of idolatry which ought to be destroyed, in order to facilitate the conversion of the Indians. In obedience to an edict issued by Juan de Zummaraga, a Franciscan monk, the first Bishop of Mexico, as many records of the ancient Mexican story as could be collected were committed to the flames. In consequence of this fanatical zeal of the monks who first visited New Edition: current; Page: [257] Spain (which their successors soon began to lament), whatever knowledge of remote events such rude monuments contained was almost entirely lost, and no information remained concerning the ancient revolutions and policy of the empire, but what was derived from tradition, or from some fragments of their historical paintings that escaped the barbarous researches of Zummaraga.d From the experience of all nations it is manifest, that the memory of past transactions can neither be long preserved, nor be transmitted with any fidelity, by tradition. The Mexican paintings, which are supposed to have served as annals of their empire, are few in number, and of ambiguous meaning. Thus, amidst the uncertainty of the former, and the obscurity of the latter, we must glean what intelligence can be collected from the scanty materials scattered in the Spanish writers.e

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According to the account of the Mexicans themselves, their empire was not of long duration.Origin of the Mexican monarchy Their country, as thay relate, was originally possessed, rather than peopled, by small independent tribes, whose mode of life and manners resembled those of the rudest savages which we have described. But, about a period corresponding to the beginning of the tenth century in the Christian æra, several tribes moved in successive migrations from unknown regions towards the north and north-west, and settled in different provinces of Anahuac, the ancient name of New Spain. These, more civilized than the original inhabitants, began to form them to the arts of social life. At length, towards the commencement of the thirteenth century, the Mexicans, a people more polished than any of the former, advanced from the border of the Californian gulf, and took possession of the plains adjacent to the great lake near the centre of the country. After residing there about fifty years they founded a town, since distinguished by the name of Mexico, which, from humble beginnings, soon grew to be the most considerable city in the New World. The Mexicans, long after they were established in their new possessions, continued, like other martial tribes in America, unacquainted with regal dominion, Edition: current; Page: [259] and were governed in peace, and conducted in war, by such as were entitled to pre-eminence by their wisdom or their valour. But among them, as in other states whose power and territories become extensive, the supreme authority centred at last in a single person; and when the Spaniards, under Cortes, invaded the country, Montezuma was the ninth monarch in order who had swayed the Mexican sceptre, not by hereditary right, but by election.

very recent.Such is the traditional tale of the Mexicans concerning the progress of their own empire. According to this, its duration was very short. From the first migration of their parent tribe, they can reckon little more than three hundred years. From the establishment of monarchical government, not above a hundred and thirty years, according to one accountf, or a hundred and ninety-seven, according to another computationg, had elapsed. If, on one hand, we suppose the Mexican state to have been of higher antiquity, and to have subsisted during such a length of time as the Spanish accounts of its civilization would naturally lead us to conclude, it is difficult to conceive how, among a people who possessed the art of recording events by pictures, and who considered it as an essential part of their national education, to teach their children to repeat the historical songs which celebrated the exploits of their ancestorsh, the knowledge of past transactions should be so slender and limited. If, on the other hand, we adopt their own system with respect to the antiquities of their nation, it is no less difficult to account either for that improved state of society, or for the extensive dominion to which their empire had attained, when first visited by the Spaniards. The infancy of nations is so long, and, even when every circumstance is favourable to their Edition: current; Page: [260] progress, they advance so slowly towards any maturity of strength or policy, that the recent origin of the Mexicans seems to be a strong presumption of some exaggeration, in the splendid descriptions which have been given of their government and manners.

Facts which prove their progress in civilization.But it is not by theory or conjectures that history decides with regard to the state or character of nations. It produces facts as the foundation of every judgment which it ventures to pronounce. In collecting those which must regulate our opinion in the present enquiry, some occur that suggest an idea of considerable progress in civilization in the Mexican empire, and others which seem to indicate that it had advanced but little beyond the savage tribes around it. Both shall be exhibited to the view of the reader, that, from comparing them, he may determine on which side the evidence preponderates.

The right of property fully established.In the Mexican empire, the right of private property was perfectly understood, and established in its full extent. Among several savage tribes, we have seen, that the idea of a title to the separate and exclusive possession of any object was hardly known; and that among all it was extremely limited and ill-defined. But in Mexico, where agriculture and industry had made some progress, the distinction between property in land and property in goods had taken place. Both might be transferred from one person to another by sale or barter; both might descend by inheritance. Every person who could be denominated a freeman had property in land. This, however, they held by various tenures. Some possessed it in full right, and it descended to their heirs. The title of others to their lands was derived from the office or dignity which they enjoyed; and when deprived of the latter, they lost possession of the former. Both these modes of occupying land were deemed noble, and peculiar to citizens of the highest class. The tenure, by which Edition: current; Page: [261] the great body of the people held their property was very different. In every district a certain quantity of land was measured out in proportion to the number of families. This was cultivated by the joint labour of the whole; its produce was deposited in a common storehouse, and divided among them according to their respective exigencies. The members of the calpulle, or associations, could not alienate their share of the common estate; it was an indivisible permanent property, destined for the support of their families.i In consequence of this distribution of the territory of the state, every man had an interest in its welfare, and the happiness of the individual was connected with the public security.

The number and greatness of their cities.Another striking circumstance, which distinguishes the Mexican empire from those nations in America we have already described, is the number and greatness of its cities. While society continues in a rude state, the wants of men are so few, and they stand so little in need of mutual assistance, that their inducements to crowd together are extremely feeble. Their industry at the same time is so imperfect, that it cannot secure subsistence for any considerable number of families settled in one spot. They live dispersed, at this period, from choice as well as from necessity, or, at the utmost, assemble in small hamlets on the banks of the river which supplies them with food, or on the border of some plain left open by nature, or cleared by their own labour. The Spaniards, accustomed to this mode of habitation among all the savage tribes with which they were hitherto acquainted, were astonished, on entering New Spain, to find the natives residing in towns of such extent as resembled those of Europe. In the first fervour of their admiration, they compared Zempoalla, though a town only of the second or third Edition: current; Page: [262] size, to the cities of greatest note in their own country. When, afterwards, they visited in succession Tlascala, Cholula, Tacuba, Tezeuco, and Mexico itself, their amazement increased so much, that it led them to convey ideas of their magnitude and populousness bordering on what is incredible. Even when there is leisure for observation, and no interest that leads to deceive, conjectural estimates of the number of people in cities are extremely loose, and usually much exaggerated. It is not surprising, then, that Cortes and his companions, little accustomed to such computations, and powerfully tempted to magnify, in order to exalt the merit of their own discoveries and conquests, should have been betrayed into this common error, and have raised their descriptions considerably above truth. For this reason, some considerable abatement ought to be made from their calculations of the number of inhabitants in the Mexican cities, and we may fix the standard of their population much lower than they have done; but still they will appear to be cities of such consequence, as are not to be found but among people who have made some considerable progress in the arts of social life.k From their accounts, we can hardly suppose Mexico, the capital of the empire, to have contained fewer than sixty thousand inhabitants.

The separation of professions.The separation of professions among the Mexicans is a symptom of improvement no less remarkable. Arts, in the early ages of society, are so few and so simple, that each man is sufficiently master of them all, to gratify every demand of his own limited desires. The savage can form his bow, point his arrows, rear his hut, and hollow his canoe, without calling in the aid of any hand more skilful than his own. Time must have augmented the wants of men, and ripened their ingenuity, before the productions of art became Edition: current; Page: [263] so complicated in their structure, or so curious in their fabric, that a particular course of education was requisite towards forming the artificer to expertness in contrivance and workmanship. In proportion as refinement spreads, the distinction of professions increases, and they branch out into more numerous and minute subdivisions. Among the Mexicans, this separation of the arts necessary in life had taken place to a considerable extent. The functions of the mason, the weaver, the goldsmith, the painter, and of several other crafts, were carried on by different persons. Each was regularly instructed in his calling. To it alone his industry was confined; and, by assiduous application to one object, together with the persevering patience peculiar to Americans, their artisans attained to a degree of neatness and perfection in work, far beyond what could have been expected from the rude tools which they employed. Their various productions were brought into commerce; and by the exchange of them in the stated markets held in the cities, not only were their mutual wants suppliedl, in such orderly intercourse as characterizes an improved state of society, but their industry was daily rendered persevering and inventive.

The distinction of ranks.The distinction of ranks established in the Mexican empire is the next circumstance that merits attention. In surveying the savage tribes of America, we observed, that consciousness of equality, and impatience of subordination, are sentiments natural to man in the infancy of civil life. During peace, the authority of a superior is hardly felt among them, and even in war it is but little acknowledged. Strangers to the idea of property, the difference in condition resulting from the inequality of it is unknown. Birth or titles confer no pre-eminence; it is only by personal merit Edition: current; Page: [264] and accomplishments that distinction can be acquired. The form of society was very different among the Mexicans. The great body of the people was in a most humiliating state. A considerable number, known by the name of mayeques, nearly resembling in condition those peasants who, under various denominations, were considered, during the prevalence of the feudal system, as instruments of labour attached to the soil. The mayeques could not change their place of residence without permission of the superior on whom they depended. They were conveyed, together with the lands on which they were settled, from one proprietor to another; and were bound to cultivate the ground, and to perform several kinds of servile work.m Others were reduced to the lowest form of subjection, that of domestic servitude, and felt the utmost rigour of that wretched state. Their condition was held to be so vile, and their lives deemed to be of so little value, that a person who killed one of those slaves was not subjected to any punishment.n Even those considered as freemen were treated by their haughty lords as beings of an inferior species. The nobles, possessed of ample territories, were divided into various classes, to each of which peculiar titles of honour belonged. Some of these titles, like their lands, descended from father to son in perpetual succession. Others were annexed to particular offices, or conferred during life as marks of personal distinction.o The monarch, exalted above all, enjoyed extensive power, and supreme dignity. Thus the distinction of ranks was completely established, in a line of regular subordination, reaching from the highest to the lowest member of the community. Each of these knew what he could claim, and what he owed. Edition: current; Page: [265] The people, who were not allowed to wear a dress of the same fashion, or to dwell in houses of a form similar to those of the nobles, accosted them with the most submissive reverence. In the presence of their sovereign, they durst not lift their eyes from the ground, or look him in the face.p The nobles themselves, when admitted to an audience of their sovereign, entered barefooted, in mean garments, and, as his slaves, paid him homage approaching to adoration. This respect, due from inferiors to those above them in rank, was prescribed with such ceremonious accuracy, that it incorporated with the language, and influenced its genius and idiom. The Mexican tongue abounded in expressions of reverence and courtesy. The style and appellations used in the intercourse between equals, would have been so unbecoming in the mouth of one in a lower sphere, when he accosted a person in higher rank, as to be deemed an insult.q It is only in societies, which time and the institution of regular government have moulded into form, that we find such an orderly arrangement of men into different ranks, and such nice attention paid to their various rights.

Their political constitution.The spirit of the Mexicans, thus familiarized and bended to subordination, was prepared for submitting to monarchical government. But the descriptions of their policy and laws, by the Spaniards who overturned them, are so inaccurate and contradictory, that it is difficult to delineate the form of their constitution with any precision. Sometimes they represent the monarchs of Mexico as absolute, deciding according to their pleasure, with respect to every operation of the state. On other occasions, we discover the traces of established customs and laws, framed in order to circumscribe the power of the crown; and we meet with rights and privileges of the Edition: current; Page: [266] nobles, which seem to be opposed as barriers against its encroachments. This appearance of inconsistency has arisen from inattention to the innovations of Montezuma upon the Mexican policy. His aspiring ambition subverted the original system of government, and introduced a pure despotism. He disregarded the ancient laws, violated the privileges held most sacred, and reduced his subjects of every order to the level of slaves.r The chiefs, or nobles of the first rank, submitted to the yoke with such reluctance, that, from impatience to shake it off, and hope of recovering their rights, many of them courted the protection of Cortes, and joined a foreign power against their domestic oppressor.s It is not, then, under the dominion of Montezuma, but under the government of his predecessors, that we can discover what was the original form and genius of Mexican policy. From the foundation of the monarchy to the election of Montezuma, it seems to have subsisted with little variation. That body of citizens, which may be distinguished by the name of nobility, formed the chief and most respectable order in the state. They were of various ranks, as has been already observed, and their honours were acquired and transmitted in different manners. Their number seems to have been great. According to an author accustomed to examine with attention what he relates, there were in the Mexican empire thirty of this order, each of whom had in his territories about a hundred thousand people; and, subordinate to these, there were about three thousand nobles of a lower class.t The territories belonging to the chiefs of Tezeuco and Tacuba were hardly inferior in extent to those of the Mexican monarch.u Each of these possessed Edition: current; Page: [267] complete territorial jurisdiction, and levied taxes from their own vassals. But all followed the standard of Mexico in war, serving with a number of men in proportion to their domain, and most of them paid tribute to its monarch as their superior lord.

In tracing those great lines of the Mexican constitution, an image of feudal policy, in its most rigid form, rises to view, and we discern its three distinguishing characteristics, a nobility possessing almost independent authority, a people depressed into the lowest state of subjection, and a king intrusted with the executive power of the state. Its spirit and principles seem to have operated in the New World in the same manner as in the ancient. The jurisdiction of the crown was extremely limited. All real and effective authority was retained by the Mexican nobles in their own hands, and the shadow of it only left to the king. Jealous to excess of their own rights, they guarded with the most vigilant anxiety against the encroachments of their sovereigns. By a fundamental law of the empire, it was provided that the king should not determine concerning any point of general importance without the approbation of a council, composed of the prime nobility.x Unless he obtained their consent, he could not engage the nation in war, nor could he dispose of the most considerable branch of the public revenue at pleasure; it was appropriated to certain purposes, from which it could not be diverted by the regal authority alone.y In order to secure full effect to those constitutional restraints, the Mexican nobles did not permit their crown to descend by inheritance, but disposed of it by election. The right of election seems to have been originally vested in the whole body of nobility, but was afterwards committed to six electors, of whom Edition: current; Page: [268] the chiefs of Tezeuco and Tacuba were always two. From respect for the family of their monarchs, the choice fell generally upon some person sprung from it. But as the activity and valour of their prince were of greater moment to a people perpetually engaged in war, than a strict adherence to the order of birth, collaterals of mature age, or of distinguished merit, were often preferred to those who were nearer the throne in direct descent.z To this maxim in their policy, the Mexicans appear to be indebted for such a succession of able and warlike princes, as raised their empire, in a short period, to that extraordinary height of power which it had attained when Cortes landed in New Spain.

Power and splendour of their monarchs.While the jurisdiction of the Mexican monarchs continued to be limited, it is probable that it was exercised with little ostentation. But as their authority became more extensive, the splendour of their government augmented. It was in this last state that the Spaniards beheld it; and, struck with the appearance of Montezuma’s court, they describe its pomp at great length, and with much admiration. The number of his attendants, the order, the silence, and the reverence with which they served him; the extent of his royal mansion, the variety of its apartments allotted to different officers, and the ostentation with which his grandeur was displayed, whenever he permitted his subjects to behold him, seem to resemble the magnificence of the ancient monarchies in Asia, rather than the simplicity of the infant states in the New World.

Order of their government.But it was not in the mere parade of royalty that the Mexican potentates exhibited their power; they manifested it more beneficially in the order and regularity with which they conducted the internal administration and police of their dominions. Complete Edition: current; Page: [269] jurisdiction, civil as well as criminal, over its own immediate vassals, was vested in the crown. Judges were appointed for each department; and if we may rely on the account which the Spanish writers give of the maxims and laws upon which they founded their decisions with respect to the distribution of property and the punishment of crimes, justice was administered in the Mexican empire with a degree of order and equity resembling what takes place in societies highly civilized.

Provision for the support of it.Their attention in providing for the support of government was not less sagacious. Taxes were laid upon land, upon the acquisitions of industry, and upon commodities of every kind exposed to sale in the public markets. These duties were considerable, but not arbitrary or unequal. They were imposed according to established rules, and each knew what share of the common burden he had to bear. As the use of money was unknown, all the taxes were paid in kind, and thus not only the natural productions of all the different provinces in the empire, but every species of manufacture, and every work of ingenuity and art, were collected in the public storehouses. From those the emperor supplied his numerous train of attendants in peace, and his armies during war, with food, with clothes, and ornaments. People of inferior condition, neither possessing land nor engaged in commerce, were bound to the performance of various services. By their stated labour, the crown-lands were cultivated, public works were carried on, and the various houses belonging to the emperor were built and kept in repair.a

Their police.The improved state of government among the Mexicans is conspicuous, not only in points essential to the being of a well-ordered society, but in several regulations of inferior consequence with respect to police. Edition: current; Page: [270] The institution which I have already mentioned, of public couriers, stationed at proper intervals, to convey intelligence from one part of the empire to the other, was a refinement in police not introduced into any kingdom of Europe at that period. The structure of the capital city in a lake, with artificial dykes, and causeways of great length, which served as avenues to it from different quarters, erected in the water, with no less ingenuity than labour, seems to be an idea that could not have occurred to any but a civilized people. The same observation may be applied to the structure of the aqueducts, or conduits, by which they conveyed a stream of fresh water, from a considerable distance, into the city, along one of the causeways.b The appointment of a number of persons to clean the streets, to light them by fires kindled in different places, and to patrole as watchmen during the nightc, discovers a degree of attention which even polished nations are late in acquiring.

Their arts.The progress of the Mexicans in various arts is considered as the most decisive proof of their superior refinement. Cortes, and the early Spanish authors, describe this with rapture, and maintain, that the most celebrated European artists could not surpass or even equal them in ingenuity and neatness of workmanship. They represented men, animals, and other objects, by such a disposition of various-coloured feathers, as is said to have produced all the effects of light and shade, and to have imitated nature with truth and delicacy. Their ornaments of gold and silver have been described to be of a fabric no less curious. But in forming any idea, from general descriptions, concerning the state of arts among nations imperfectly polished, we are extremely ready to err. In examining the works of people whose advances in improvement are nearly the same with our own, we Edition: current; Page: [271] view them with a critical, and often with a jealous eye. Whereas, when conscious of our own superiority, we survey the arts of nations comparatively rude, we are astonished at works executed by them under such manifest disadvantages, and, in the warmth of our admiration, are apt to represent them as productions more finished than they really are. To the influence of this illusion, without supposing any intention to deceive, we may impute the exaggeration of some Spanish authors, in their accounts of the Mexican arts.

It is not from those descriptions, but from considering such specimens of their arts as are still preserved, that we must decide concerning their degree of merit. As the ship in which Cortes sent to Charles V. the most curious productions of the Mexican artisans, which were collected by the Spaniards when they first pillaged the empire, was taken by a French corsaird, the remains of their ingenuity are less numerous than those of the Peruvians. Whether any of their works with feathers, in imitation of painting, be still extant in Spain, I have not learned; but many of their ornaments in gold and silver, as well as various utensils employed in common life, are deposited in the magnificent cabinet of natural and artificial productions, lately opened by the King of Spain; and I am informed by persons on whose judgment and taste I can rely, that these boasted efforts of their art are uncouth representations of common objects, or very coarse images of the human and some other forms, destitute of grace and propriety.e The justness of these observations is confirmed by inspecting the wooden prints and copper-plates of their paintings, which have been published by various authors. In them every figure of men, of quadrupeds, or birds, as well as every representation of inanimated Edition: current; Page: [272] nature, is extremely rude and awkward.f The hardest Egyptian style, stiff and imperfect as it was, is more elegant. The scrawls of children delineate objects almost as accurately.

But however low the Mexican paintings may be ranked, when viewed merely as works of art, a very different station belongs to them, when considered as the records of their country, as historical monuments of its policy and transactions; and they become Edition: current; Page: [273] curious as well as interesting objects of attention. The noblest and most beneficial invention of which human ingenuity can boast, is that of writing. But the first essays of this art, which hath contributed more than all others to the improvement of the species, were very rude, and it advanced towards perfection slowly, and by a gradual progression. When the warrior, eager for fame, wished to transmit some knowledge of his exploits to succeeding ages; when the gratitude of a people to their sovereign prompted them to hand down an account of his beneficent deeds to posterity; the first method of accomplishing this, which seems to have occurred to them, was to delineate, in the best manner they could, figures representing the action of which they were solicitous to preserve the memory. Of this, which has very properly been called picture-writingg, we find traces among some of the most savage tribes of America. When a leader returns from the field, he strips a tree of its bark, and with red paint scratches upon it some uncouth figures which represent the order of his march, the number of his followers, the enemy whom he attacked, the scalps and captives which he brought home. To those simple annals he trusts for renown, and soothes himself with hope that by their means he shall receive praise from the warriors of future times.h

Compared with those awkward essays of their savage countrymen, the paintings of the Mexicans may be considered as works of composition and design. They were not acquainted, it is true, with any other method of recording transactions, than that of delineating the objects which they wished to represent. But they could exhibit a more complex series Edition: current; Page: [274] of events in progressive order, and describe, by a proper disposition of figures, the occurrences of a king’s reign from his accession to his death; the progress of an infant’s education from its birth until it attain to the years of maturity; the different recompenses and marks of distinction conferred upon warriors, in proportion to the exploits which they had performed. Some singular specimens of this picture-writing have been preserved, which are justly considered as the most curious monuments of art brought from the New World. The most valuable of these was published by Purchas in sixty-six plates. It is divided into three parts. The first contains the history of the Mexican empire under its ten monarchs. The second is a tribute-roll, representing what each conquered town paid into the royal treasury. The third is a code of their institutions, domestic, political, and military. Another specimen of Mexican painting has been published in thirty-two plates, by the present Archbishop of Toledo. To both is annexed a full explanation of what the figures were intended to represent, which was obtained by the Spaniards from Indians well acquainted with their own arts. The style of painting in all these is the same. They represent things, not words. They exhibit images to the eye, not ideas to the understanding. They may, therefore, be considered as the earliest and most imperfect essay of men in their progress towards discovering the art of writing. The defects in this mode of recording transactions must have been early felt. To paint every occurrence was, from its nature, a very tedious operation; and, as affairs became more complicated, and events multiplied in any society, its annals must have swelled to an enormous bulk. Besides this, no objects could be delineated but those of sense; the conceptions of the mind had no corporeal form; and as long as picture-writing could not convey Edition: current; Page: [275] an idea of these, it must have been a very imperfect art. The necessity of improving it must have roused and sharpened invention, and the human mind holding the same course in the New World as in the Old, might have advanced by the same successive steps, first, from an actual picture to the plain hieroglyphic; next, to the allegorical symbol; then to the arbitrary character; until, at length, an alphabet of letters was discovered, capable of expressing all the various combinations of sound employed in speech. In the paintings of the Mexicans we, accordingly, perceive, that this progress was begun among them. Upon an attentive inspection of the plates, which I have mentioned, we may observe some approach to the plain or simple hieroglyphic, where some principal part or circumstance in the subject is made to stand for the whole. In the annals of their kings, published by Purchas, the towns conquered by each are uniformly represented in the same manner by a rude delineation of a house; but in order to point out the particular towns which submitted to their victorious arms, peculiar emblems, sometimes natural objects, and sometimes artificial figures, are employed. In the tribute roll, published by the Archbishop of Toledo, the house, which was properly the picture of the town, is omitted, and the emblem alone is employed to represent it. The Mexicans seem even to have made some advances beyond this, towards the use of the more figurative and fanciful hieroglyphic. In order to describe a monarch, who had enlarged his dominions by force of arms, they painted a target ornamented with darts, and placed it between him and those towns which he subdued. But it is only in one instance, the notation of numbers, that we discern any attempt to exhibit ideas which had no corporeal form. The Mexican painters had invented artificial marks, or signs of convention, for this purpose. By means of Edition: current; Page: [276] these, they computed the years of their kings’ reigns, as well as the amount of tribute to be paid into the royal treasury. The figure of a circle represented unit, and, in small numbers, the computation was made by repeating it. Larger numbers were expressed by a peculiar mark, and they had such as denoted all integral numbers, from twenty to eight thousand. The short duration of their empire prevented the Mexicans from advancing farther in that long course which conducts men from the labour of delineating real objects, to the simplicity and ease of alphabetic writing. Their records, notwithstanding some dawn of such ideas as might have led to a more perfect style, can be considered as little more than a species of picture-writing, so far improved as to mark their superiority over the savage tribes of America; but still so defective, as to prove that they had not proceeded far beyond the first stage in that progress which must be completed before any people can be ranked among polished nations.i

Their mode of computing time.Their mode of computing time may be considered as a more decisive evidence of their progress in improvement. They divided their year into eighteen months, each consisting of twenty days, amounting in all to three hundred and sixty. But as they observed that the course of the sun was not completed in that time, they added five days to the year. These, which were properly intercalary days, they termed supernumerary or waste; and as they did not belong to any month, no work was done, and no sacred rite performed on them; they were devoted wholly to festivity and pastime.k This near approach to philosophical accuracy is a remarkable proof that the Mexicans had bestowed some attention upon enquiries and speculations, to which men in a very rude state never turn their thoughts.l

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Such are the most striking particulars in the manners and policy of the Mexicans, which exhibit them to view as a people considerably refined.Facts indicating a small progress in civilization. But from other circumstances, one is apt to suspect that their character, and many of their institutions, did not differ greatly from those of the other inhabitants of America.

Their wars continual and ferocious.Like the rude tribes around them, the Mexicans were incessantly engaged in war, and the motives which prompted them to hostility seem to have been the same. They fought, in order to gratify their vengeance, by shedding the blood of their enemies. In battle they were chiefly intent on taking prisoners, and it was by the number of these that they estimated the glory of victory. No captive was ever ransomed or spared. All were sacrificed without mercy, and their flesh devoured with the same barbarous joy as among the fiercest savages. On some occasions it arose to even wilder excesses. Their principal warriors covered themselves with the skins of the unhappy victims, and danced about the streets, boasting of their own valour, and exulting over their enemies.m Even in their civil institutions we discover traces of that barbarous disposition which their system of war inspired. The four chief counsellors of the empire were distinguished by titles, which could have been assumed only by a people who delighted in blood.n This ferocity of character prevailed among all the nations of New Spain. The Tlascalans, the people of Mechoacan, and other states at enmity with the Mexicans, delighted equally in war, and treated their prisoners with the same cruelty. In proportion as mankind combine in social union, and live under the influence of equal laws and regular policy, their manners soften, Edition: current; Page: [278] sentiments of humanity arise, and the rights of the species come to be understood. The fierceness of war abates, and even while engaged in hostility, men remember what they owe one to another. The savage fights to destroy, the citizen to conquer. The former neither pities nor spares, the latter has acquired sensibility which tempers his rage. To this sensibility the Mexicans seem to have been perfect strangers, and among them war was carried on with so much of its original barbarity, that we cannot but suspect their degree of civilization to have been very imperfect.

Their funeral rites.Their funeral rites were not less bloody than those of the most savage tribes. On the death of any distinguished personage, especially of the emperor, a certain number of his attendants were chosen to accompany him to the other world; and those unfortunate victims were put to death without mercy, and buried in the same tomb.o

Their agriculture imperfect.Though their agriculture was more extensive than that of the roving tribes who trusted chiefly to their bow for food, it seems not to have supplied them with such subsistence as men require when engaged in efforts of active industry. The Spaniards appear not to have been struck with any superiority of the Mexicans over the other people of America in bodily vigour. Both, according to their observation, were of such a feeble frame as to be unable to endure fatigue, and the strength of one Spaniard exceeded that of several Indians. This they imputed to their scanty diet, on poor fare, sufficient to preserve life, but not to give firmness to their constitution. Such a remark could hardly have been made with respect to any people furnished plentifully with the necessaries of life. The difficulty which Cortes found in procuring subsistence for his small body of soldiers, who were often constrained to live on the spontaneous productions of the Edition: current; Page: [279] earth, seems to confirm the remark of the Spanish writers, and gives no high idea of the state of cultivation in the Mexican empire.p

A further proof of this.A practice that was universal in New Spain appears to favour this opinion. The Mexican women gave suck to their children for several years, and during that time they did not cohabit with their husbands.q This precaution against a burdensome increase of progeny, though necessary, as I have already observed, among savages, who, from the hardships of their condition, and the precariousness of their subsistence, find it impossible to rear a numerous family, can hardly be supposed to have continued among a people who lived at ease and in abundance.

Doubts concerning the extent of the empire.The vast extent of the Mexican empire, which has been considered, and with justice, as the most decisive proof of a considerable progress in regular government and police, is one of those facts in the history of the New World which seems to have been admitted without due examination or sufficient evidence. The Spanish historians, in order to magnify the valour of their countrymen, are accustomed to represent the dominion of Montezuma as stretching over all the provinces of New Spain from the Northern to the Southern ocean. But a great part of the mountainous country was possessed by the Otomies, a fierce uncivilized people, who seem to have been the residue of the original inhabitants. The provinces towards the north and west of Mexico were occupied by the Chichemecas, and other tribes of hunters. None of these recognised the Mexican monarch as their superior. Even in the interior and more level country, there were several cities and provinces which had never submitted to the Mexican yoke. Tlascala, though Edition: current; Page: [280] only twenty-one leagues from the capital of the empire, was an independent and hostile republic. Cholula, though still nearer, had been subjected only a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards. Tepeaca, at the distance of thirty leagues from Mexico, seems to have been a separate state, governed by its own laws.r Mechoacan, the frontier of which extended within forty leagues of Mexico, was a powerful kingdom, remarkable for its implacable enmity to the Mexican name.s By these hostile powers the Mexican empire was circumscribed on every quarter, and the high ideas which we are apt to form of it from the description of the Spanish historians should be considerably moderated.

Little intercourse among its several provinces.In consequence of this independence of several states in New Spain upon the Mexican empire, there was not any considerable intercourse between its various provinces. Even in the interior country, not far distant from the capital, there seem to have been no roads to facilitate the communication of one district with another; and when the Spaniards first attempted to penetrate into its several provinces, they had to open their way through forests and marshes.t Cortes, in his adventurous march from Mexico to Honduras, in 1525, met with obstructions, and endured hardships little inferior to those with which he must have struggled in the most uncivilized regions of America. In some places he could hardly force a passage through impervious woods, and plains overflowed with water. In others he found so little cultivation, that his troops were frequently in danger of perishing by famine. Such facts correspond ill with the pompous description which the Spanish writers give of Mexican police and industry, and convey an idea of a country nearly similar to that possessed by the Indian tribes in Edition: current; Page: [281] North America. Here and there a treading or a warpath, as they are called in North America, led from one settlement to anotheru; but generally there appeared no sign of any established communication, few marks of industry, and fewer monuments of art.

Farther proof of this.A proof of this imperfection in their commercial intercourse, no less striking, is their want of money, or some universal standard by which to estimate the value of commodities. The discovery of this is among the steps of greatest consequence in the progress of nations. Until it has been made, all their transactions must be so awkward, so operose, and so limited, that we may boldly pronounce that they have advanced but a little way in their career. The invention of such a commercial standard is of such high antiquity in our hemisphere, and rises so far beyond the æra of authentic history, as to appear almost coeval with the existence of society. The precious metals seem to have been early employed for this purpose; and from their permanent value, their divisibility, and many other qualities, they are better adapted to serve as a common standard than any other substance of which nature has given us the command. But in the New World, where these metals abound most, this use of them was not known. The exigencies of rude tribes, or of monarchies imperfectly civilized, did not call for it. All their commercial intercourse was carried on by barter, and their ignorance of any common standard by which to facilitate that exchange of commodities which contributes so much towards the comfort of life, may be justly mentioned as an evidence of the infant state of their policy. But even in the New World the inconvenience of wanting some general instrument of commerce began to be felt, and some efforts were making towards supplying that defect. The Mexicans, among Edition: current; Page: [282] whom the number and greatness of their cities gave rise to a more extended commerce than in any other part of America, had begun to employ a common standard of value, which rendered smaller transactions much more easy. As chocolate was the favourite drink of persons in every rank of life, the nuts or almonds of cacao, of which it is composed, were of such universal consumption, that, in their stated markets, these were willingly received in return for commodities of small price. Thus they came to be considered as the instrument of commerce, and the value of what one wished to dispose of was estimated by the number of nuts of the cacao which he might expect in exchange for it. This seems to be the utmost length which the Americans had advanced towards the discovery of any expedient for supplying the use of money; and if the want of it is to be held, on one hand, as a proof of their barbarity, this expedient for supplying that want should be admitted, on the other, as an evidence no less satisfying, of some progress which the Mexicans had made in refinement and civilization, beyond the savage tribes around them.

Doubts concerning the state of their cities.In such a rude state were many of the Mexican provinces, when first visited by their conquerors. Even their cities, extensive and populous as they were, seem more fit to be the habitation of men just emerging from barbarity, than the residence of a polished people. The description of Tlascala nearly resembles that of an Indian village. A number of low straggling huts, scattered about irregularly, according to the caprice of each proprietor, built with turf and stone, and thatched with reeds, without any light but what they received by a door, so low that it could not be entered upright.x In Mexico, though, from the peculiarity of its situation, the disposition of Edition: current; Page: [283] the houses was more orderly, the structure of the greater part was equally mean.Temples, Nor does the fabric of their temples, and other public edifices, appear to have been such as entitled them to the high praise bestowed upon them by many Spanish authors. As far as one can gather from their obscure and inaccurate descriptions, the great temple of Mexico, the most famous in New Spain, which has been represented as a magnificent building, raised to such a height, that the ascent to it was by a flight of a hundred and fourteen steps, was a solid mass of earth, of a square form, faced partly with stone. Its base on each side extended ninety feet, and, decreasing gradually as it advanced in height, it terminated in a quadrangle of about thirty feet, where were placed a shrine of the deity, and two altars, on which the victims were sacrificed.y All the other celebrated temples of New Spain exactly resembled that of Mexico.z Such structures convey no high idea of progress in art and ingenuity; and one can hardly conceive that a form more rude and simple could have occurred to a nation in its first efforts towards erecting any great work.

and other public buildings.Greater skill and ingenuity were displayed, if we may believe the Spanish historians, in the houses of the emperor, and in those of the principal nobility. There, some elegance of design was visible, and a commodious arrangement of the apartments was attended to. But if buildings corresponding to such descriptions had ever existed in the Mexican cities, it is probable that some remains of them would still be visible. From the manner in which Cortes conducted the siege of Mexico, we can, indeed, easily account for the total destruction of whatever had any appearance of splendour in that capital. But as only two centuries and a half have elapsed since the conquest Edition: current; Page: [284] of New Spain, it seems altogether incredible that, in a period so short, every vestige of this boasted elegance and grandeur should have disappeared; and that in none of the other cities, particularly in those which did not suffer by the destructive hand of the conquerors, there are any ruins which can be considered as monuments of their ancient magnificence.

Even in a village of the rudest Indians, there are buildings of greater extent and elevation than common dwelling-houses. Such as are destined for holding the council of the tribe, and in which all assemble on occasions of public festivity, may be called stately edifices, when compared with the rest. As, among the Mexicans, the distinction of ranks was established, and property was unequally divided, the number of distinguished structures in their towns would, of course, be greater than in other parts of America. But these seem not to have been either so solid or magnificent as to merit the pompous epithets which some Spanish authors employ in describing them. It is probable that, though more ornamented, and built on a larger scale, they were erected with the same slight materials which the Indians employed in their common buildingsa, and time, in a space much less than two hundred and fifty years, may have swept away all remains of them.b

From this enumeration of facts, it seems, upon the whole, to be evident, that the state of society in Mexico was considerably advanced beyond that of the savage tribes which we have delineated. But it is no less manifest, that with respect to many particulars, the Spanish accounts of their progress appear to be highly embellished. There is not a more frequent or a more fertile source of deception in describing the manners and arts of savage nations, or of such as are imperfectly civilized, than that of applying to them the Edition: current; Page: [285] names and phrases appropriated to the institutions and refinements of polished life. When the leader of a small tribe, or the head of a rude community, is dignified with the name of king or emperor, the place of his residence can receive no other name but that of his palace; and whatever his attendants may be, they must be called his court. Under such appellations they acquire, in our estimation, an importance and dignity which does not belong to them. The illusion spreads, and, giving a false colour to every part of the narrative, the imagination is so much carried away with the resemblance, that it becomes difficult to discern objects as they really are. The Spaniards, when they first touched on the Mexican coast, were so much struck with the appearance of attainments in policy and in the arts of life, far superior to those of the rude tribes with which they were hitherto acquainted, that they fancied they had at length discovered a civilized people in the New World. This comparison between the people of Mexico and their uncultivated neighbours, they appear to have kept constantly in view, and observing with admiration many things which marked the pre-eminence of the former, they employ in describing their imperfect policy and infant arts, such terms as are applicable to the institutions of men far beyond them in improvement. Both these circumstances concur in detracting from the credit due to the descriptions of Mexican manners by the early Spanish writers. By drawing a parallel between them and those of people so much less civilized, they raised their own ideas too high. By their mode of describing them, they conveyed ideas to others no less exalted above truth. Later writers have adopted the style of the original historians, and improved upon it. The colours with which de Solis delineates the character and describes the actions of Montezuma, the splendour of his court, the laws and Edition: current; Page: [286] policy of his empire, are the same that he must have employed in exhibiting to view the monarch and institutions of a highly-polished people.

But though we may admit, that the warm imagination of the Spanish writers has added some embellishment to their descriptions, this will not justify the decisive and peremptory tone with which several authors pronounce all their accounts of the Mexican power, policy, and laws, to be the fictions of men who wished to deceive, or who delighted in the marvellous. There are few historical facts that can be ascertained by evidence more unexceptionable than may be produced in support of the material articles in the description of the Mexican constitution and manners. Eye-witnesses relate what they beheld. Men who had resided among the Mexicans, both before and after the conquest, describe institutions and customs which were familiar to them. Persons of professions so different that objects must have presented themselves to their view under every various aspect; soldiers, priests, and lawyers, all concur in their testimony. Had Cortes ventured to impose upon his sovereign, by exhibiting to him a picture of imaginary manners, there wanted not enemies and rivals who were qualified to detect his deceit, and who would have rejoiced in exposing it. But, according to the just remark of an author, whose ingenuity has illustrated, and whose eloquence has adorned, the history of Americac, this supposition is in itself as improbable as the attempt would have been audacious. Who among the destroyers of this great empire was so enlightened by science, or so attentive to the progress and operations of men in social life, as to frame a fictitious system of policy so well combined and so consistent, as that which they delineate, in their accounts of the Mexican government? Where could Edition: current; Page: [287] they have borrowed the idea of many institutions in legislation and police, to which, at that period, there was nothing parallel in the nations with which they were acquainted? There was not, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, a regular establishment of posts for conveying intelligence to the sovereign of any kingdom in Europe. The same observation will apply to what the Spaniards relate, with respect to the structure of the city of Mexico, the regulations concerning its police, and various laws established for the administration of justice, or securing the happiness of the community. Whoever is accustomed to contemplate the progress of nations, will often, at very early stages of it, discover a premature and unexpected dawn of those ideas, which give rise to institutions that are the pride and ornament of its most advanced period. Even in a state as imperfectly polished as the Mexican empire, the happy genius of some sagacious observer, excited or aided by circumstances unknown to us, may have introduced institutions which are seldom found but in societies highly refined. But it is almost impossible that the illiterate conquerors of the New World should have formed in any one instance a conception of customs and laws beyond the standard of improvement in their own age and country. Or if Cortes had been capable of this, what inducement had those by whom he was superseded to continue the deception? Why should Corita, or Motolinea, or Acosta, have amused their sovereign or their fellow-citizens with a tale purely fabulous?

Religion of the Mexicans.In one particular, however, the guides whom we must follow have represented the Mexicans to be more barbarous, perhaps, than they really were. Their religious tenets, and the rites of their worship, are described by them as wild and cruel in an extreme degree. Religion, which occupies no considerable place in the thoughts of a savage, whose conceptions Edition: current; Page: [288] of any superior power are obscure, and his sacred rites few as well as simple, was formed, among the Mexicans, into a regular system, with its complete train of priests, temples, victims, and festivals. This, of itself, is a clear proof that the state of the Mexicans was very different from that of the ruder American tribes. But, from the extravagance of their religious notions, or the barbarity of their rites, no conclusion can be drawn with certainty concerning the degree of their civilization. For nations, long after their ideas begin to enlarge, and their manners to refine, adhere to systems of superstition founded on the crude conceptions of early ages. From the genius of the Mexican religion we may, however, form a most just conclusion with respect to its influence upon the character of the people. The aspect of superstition in Mexico was gloomy and atrocious. Its divinities were clothed with terror, and delighted in vengeance. They were exhibited to the people under detestable forms, which created horror. The figures of serpents, of tigers, and of other destructive animals, decorated their temples. Fear was the only principle that inspired their votaries. Fasts, mortifications, and penances, all rigid, and many of them excruciating to an extreme degree, were the means employed to appease the wrath of their gods, and the Mexicans never approached their altars without sprinkling them with blood drawn from their own bodies. But, of all offerings, human sacrifices were deemed the most acceptable. This religious belief, mingling with the implacable spirit of vengeance, and adding new force to it, every captive taken in war was brought to the temple, was devoted as a victim to the deity, and sacrificed with rites no less solemn than cruel.d The Edition: current; Page: [289] heart and head were the portion consecrated to the gods; the warrior, by whose prowess the prisoner had been seized, carried off the body to feast upon it with his friends. Under the impression of ideas so dreary and terrible, and accustomed daily to scenes of bloodshed rendered awful by religion, the heart of man must harden and be steeled to every sentiment of humanity. The spirit of the Mexicans was, accordingly unfeeling, and the genius of their religion so far counterbalanced the influence of policy and arts, that, notwithstanding their progress in both, their manners, instead of softening, became more fierce. To what circumstances it was owing that superstition assumed such a dreadful form among the Mexicans, we have not sufficient knowledge of their history to determine. But its influence is visible, and produced an effect that is singular in the history of the human species. The manners of the people in the New World who had made the greatest progress in the arts of policy, were, in several respects, the most ferocious, and the barbarity of some of their customs exceeded even those of the savage state.

Petensions of Peru to a high antiquityThe empire of Peru boasts of a higher antiquity than that of Mexico. According to the traditionary accounts collected by the Spaniards, it had subsisted four hundred years, under twelve successive monarchs. But the knowledge of their ancient story,uncertain. which the Peruvians could communicate to their conquerors, must have been both imperfect and uncertain.e Like the other American nations, they were totally unacquainted with the art of writing, and destitute of the only means by which the memory of past transactions can be preserved with any degree of accuracy. Even among people to whom the use of letters is known, the æra where the authenticity of history commences is much posterior to the introduction of writing. Edition: current; Page: [290] That noble invention continued every where to be long subservient to the common business and wants of life, before it was employed in recording events, with a view of conveying information from one age to another. But in no country did ever tradition alone carry down historical knowledge, in any full continued stream, during a period of half the length that the monarchy of Peru is said to have subsisted.

Defects in their records by quipos.The quipos, or knots on cords of different colours, which are celebrated by authors fond of the marvellous, as if they had been regular annals of the empire, imperfectly supplied the place of writing. According to the obscure description of them by Acostaf, which Garcilasso de la Vega has adopted with little variation and no improvement, the quipos seem to have been a device for rendering calculation more expeditious and accurate. By the various colours different objects were denoted, and by each knot a distinct number. Thus an account was taken, and a kind of register kept, of the inhabitants in each province, or of the several productions collected there for public use. But as by these knots, however varied or combined, no moral or abstract idea, no operation or quality of the mind could be represented, they contributed little towards preserving the memory of ancient events and institutions. By the Mexican paintings and symbols, rude as they were, more knowledge of remote transactions seems to have been conveyed, than the Peruvians could derive from their boasted quipos. Had the latter been even of more extensive use, and better adapted to supply the place of written records, they perished so generally, together with other monuments of Peruvian ingenuity, in the wreck occasioned by the Spanish conquest, and the civil wars subsequent to it, that no accession of light or knowledge comes from them. All the zeal of Garcilasso de la Vega, Edition: current; Page: [291] for the honour of that race of monarchs from whom he descended, all the industry of his researches, and the superior advantages with which he carried them on, opened no source of information unknown to the Spanish authors who wrote before him. In his Royal Commentaries, he confines himself to illustrate what they had related concerning the antiquities and institutions of Perug; and his illustrations, like their accounts, are derived entirely from the traditionary tales current among his countrymen.

Very little credit, then, is due to the minute details which have been given of the exploits, the battles, the conquests, and private character of the early Peruvian monarchs. We can rest upon nothing in their story as authentic, but a few facts so interwoven in the system of their religion and policy, as preserved the memory of them from being lost; and upon the description of such customs and institutions as continued in force at the time of the conquest, and fell under the immediate observation of the Spaniards. By attending carefully to these, and endeavouring to separate them from what appears to be fabulous, or of doubtful authority, I have laboured to form an idea of the Peruvian government and manners.

Origin of their civil policy.The people of Peru, as I have already observed,h had not advanced beyond the rudest form of savage life, when Manco Capac, and his consort Mama Ocollo, appeared to instruct and civilize them. Who these extraordinary personages were, whether they imported their system of legislation and knowledge of arts from some country more improved, or, if natives of Peru, how they acquired ideas so far superior to those of the people whom they addressed, are circumstances with respect to which the Peruvian tradition conveys no information. Manco Capac and his consort, taking advantage of the propensity in the Edition: current; Page: [292] Peruvians to superstition, and particularly of their veneration for the sun, pretended to be children of that glorious luminary, and to deliver their instructions in his name, and by authority from him. The multitude listened and believed. What reformation in policy and manners the Peruvians ascribe to those founders of their empire, and how, from the precepts of the inca and his consort, their ancestors gradually acquired some knowledge of those arts, and some relish for that industry, which renders subsistence secure and life comfortable, hath been formerly related. Those blessings were originally confined within narrow precincts; but in process of time, the successors of Manco Capac extended their dominion over all the regions that stretch to the west of the Andes from Chili to Quito, establishing in every province their peculiar policy and religious institutions.

Founded in religion.The most singular and striking circumstance in the Peruvian government, is the influence of religion upon its genius and laws. Religious ideas make such a feeble impression on the mind of a savage, that their effect upon his sentiments and manners is hardly perceptible. Among the Mexicans, religion, reduced into a regular system, and holding a considerable place in their public institutions, operated with conspicuous efficacy in forming the peculiar character of that people. But in Peru, the whole system of policy was founded on religion. The inca appeared not only as a legislator, but as the messenger of heaven. His precepts were received not merely as the injunctions of a superior, but as the mandates of the deity. His race was to be held sacred; and in order to preserve it distinct, without being polluted by any mixture of less noble blood, the sons of Manco Capac married their own sisters, and no person was ever admitted to the throne who could not claim it by such a pure descent. To those children of the sun, for that was Edition: current; Page: [293] the appellation bestowed upon all the offspring of the first inca, the people looked up with the reverence due to beings of a superior order. They were deemed to be under the immediate protection of the deity from whom they issued, and by him every order of the reigning inca was supposed to be dictated.

Two remarkable effects of this.From those ideas two consequences resulted. The authority of the inca was unlimited and absolute, in the most extensive meaning of the words. Whenever the decrees of a prince are considered as the commands of the divinity, it is not only an act of rebellion, but of impiety, to dispute or oppose his will.The absolute power of the inca. Obedience becomes a duty of religion; and as it would be profane to control a monarch who is believed to be under the guidance of heaven, and presumptuous to advise him, nothing remains but to submit with implicit respect. This must necessarily be the effect of every government established on pretensions of intercourse with superior powers. Such accordingly was the blind submission which the Peruvians yielded to their sovereigns. The persons of highest rank and greatest power in their dominions acknowledged them to be of a more exalted nature; and in testimony of this, when admitted into their presence, they entered with a burden upon their shoulders, as an emblem of their servitude, and willingness to bear whatever the inca was pleased to impose. Among their subjects, force was not requisite to second their commands. Every officer intrusted with the execution of them was revered, and, according to the account of an intelligent observer of Peruvian mannersi, he might proceed alone from one extremity of the empire to another without meeting opposition; for, on producing a fringe from the royal borla, an ornament of the head peculiar to the reigning inca, the lives and fortunes of the people were at his disposal.

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Another consequence of establishing government in Peru on the foundation of religion was, that all crimes were punished capitally.All crimes punished capitally. They were not considered as transgressions of human laws, but as insults offered to the deity. Each, without any distinction between such as were slight and such as were atrocious, called for vengeance, and could be expiated only by the blood of the offender. Consonantly to the same ideas, punishment followed the trespass with inevitable certainty, because an offence against heaven was deemed such a high enormity as could not be pardoned.k Among a people of corrupted morals, maxims of jurisprudence so severe and unrelenting, by rendering men ferocious and desperate, would be more apt to multiply crimes than to restrain them. But the Peruvians, of simple manners and unsuspicious faith, were held in such awe by this rigid discipline, that the number of offenders was extremely small. Veneration for monarchs, enlightened and directed, as they believed, by the divinity whom they adored, prompted them to their duty; the dread of punishment which they were taught to consider as unavoidable vengeance inflicted by offended heaven, withheld them from evil.

Mild genius of their religion.The system of superstition on which the incas ingrafted their pretensions to such high authority, was of a genius very different from that established among the Mexicans. Manco Capac turned the veneration of his followers entirely towards natural objects. The sun, as the great source of light, of joy, and fertility in the creation, attracted their principal homage. The moon and stars, as co-operating with him, were entitled to secondary honours. Wherever the propensity in the human mind to acknowledge and to adore some superior power takes this direction, and is employed in contemplating the order and beneficence Edition: current; Page: [295] that really exist in nature, the spirit of superstition is mild. Wherever imaginary beings, created by the fancy and the fears of men, are supposed to preside in nature, and become the objects of worship, superstition always assumes a more severe and atrocious form. Of the latter we have an example among the Mexicans, of the former among the people of Peru. The Peruvians had not, indeed, made such progress in observation or enquiry, as to have attained just conceptions of the Deity; nor was there in their language any proper name or appellation of the Supreme Power, which intimated, that they had formed any idea of him as the Creator and Governor of the world.l But by directing their veneration to that glorious luminary, which, by its universal and vivifying energy, is the best emblem of divine beneficence, the rites and observances which they deemed acceptable to him were innocent and humane. They offered to the sun a part of those productions which his genial warmth had called forth from the bosom of the earth, and reared to maturity. They sacrificed, as an oblation of gratitude, some of the animals which were indebted to his influence for nourishment. They presented to him choice specimens of those works of ingenuity which his light had guided the hand of man in forming. But the incas never stained his altars with human blood, nor could they conceive that their beneficent father the sun would be delighted with such horrid victims.m Thus the Peruvians, unacquainted with those barbarous rites which extinguish sensibility, and suppress the feelings of nature at the sight of human sufferings, were formed by the spirit of the superstition which they had adopted, to a national character more gentle than that of any people in America.

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The influence of this superstition operated in the same manner upon their civil institutions,Its influence on civil policy, and tended to correct in them whatever was adverse to gentleness of character. The dominion of the incas, though the most absolute of all despotisms, was mitigated by its alliance with religion. The mind was not humbled and depressed by the idea of a forced subjection to the will of a superior; obedience, paid to one who was believed to be clothed with divine authority, was willingly yielded, and implied no degradation. The sovereign, conscious that the submissive reverence of his people flowed from their belief of his heavenly descent, was continually reminded of a distinction which prompted him to imitate that beneficent power which he was supposed to represent. In consequence of those impressions, there hardly occurs in the traditional history of Peru any instance of rebellion against the reigning prince, and, among twelve successive monarchs, there was not one tyrant.

and on their military system.Even the wars in which the incas engaged were carried on with a spirit very different from that of other American nations. They fought not, like savages, to destroy and to exterminate; or, like the Mexicans, to glut blood-thirsty divinities with human sacrifices. They conquered, in order to reclaim and civilize the vanquished, and to diffuse the knowledge of their own institutions and arts. Prisoners seem not to have been exposed to the insults and tortures which were their lot in every other part of the New World. The incas took the people whom they subdued under their protection, and admitted them to a participation of all the advantages enjoyed by their original subjects. This practice, so repugnant to American ferocity, and resembling the humanity of the most polished nations, must be ascribed, like other peculiarities which we have observed in the Edition: current; Page: [297] Peruvian manners, to the genius of their religion. The incas, considering the homage paid to any other object than to the heavenly powers which they adored as impious, were fond of gaining proselytes to their favourite system. The idols of every conquered province were carried in triumph to the great temple at Cuzcon, and placed there as trophies of the superior power of the divinity who was the protector of the empire. The people were treated with lenity, and instructed in the religious tenets of their new masterso, that the conqueror might have the glory of having added to the number of the votaries of his father the sun.

Peculiar state of property.The state of property in Peru was no less singular than that of religion, and contributed, likewise, towards giving a mild turn of character to the people. All the lands capable of cultivation were divided into three shares. One was consecrated to the sun, and the product of it was applied to the erection of temples, and furnishing what was requisite towards celebrating the public rites of religion. The second belonged to the inca, and was set apart as the provision made by the community for the support of government. The third and largest share was reserved for the maintenance of the people, among whom it was parcelled out. Neither individuals, however, nor communities, had a right of exclusive property in the portion set apart for their use. They possessed it only for a year, at the expiration of which a new division was made, in proportion to the rank, the number, and exigencies of each family. All those lands were cultivated by the joint industry of the community. The people, summoned by a proper officer, repaired in a body to the fields, and performed their common task, while songs and musical instruments Edition: current; Page: [298] cheered them to their labour.p By this singular distribution of territory,Effects of this. as well as by the mode of cultivating it, the idea of a common interest, and of mutual subserviency, was continually inculcated. Each individual felt his connection with those around him, and knew that he depended on their friendly aid for what increase he was to reap. A state thus constituted may be considered as one great family, in which the union of the members was so complete, and the exchange of good offices so perceptible, as to create stronger attachment, and to bind man to man in closer intercourse, than subsisted under any form of society established in America. From this resulted gentle manners, and mild virtues unknown in the savage state, and with which the Mexicans were little acquainted.

Inequality of ranks.But, though the institutions of the incas were so framed as to strengthen the bonds of affection among their subjects, there was great inequality in their condition. The distinction of ranks was fully established in Peru. A great body of the inhabitants, under the denomination of yanaconas, were held in a state of servitude. Their garb and houses were of a form different from those of freemen. Like the tamemes of Mexico, they were employed in carrying burdens, and in performing every other work of drudgery.q Next to them in rank were such of the people as were free, but distinguished by no official or hereditary honours. Above them were raised those whom the Spaniards call orejones, from the ornaments worn in their ears. They formed what may be denominated the order of nobles, and, in peace as well as war, held every office of power or trust.r At the head of all were the children of the sun, who, by their high descent and peculiar privileges, were as much exalted Edition: current; Page: [299] above the orejones, as these were elevated above the people.

State of arts.Such a form of society, from the union of its members, as well as from the distinction in their ranks, was favourable to progress in the arts. But the Spaniards, having been acquainted with the improved state of various arts in Mexico, several years before they discovered Peru, were not so much struck with what they observed in the latter country, and describe the appearances of ingenuity there with less warmth of admiration. The Peruvians, nevertheless, had advanced far beyond the Mexicans, both in the necessary arts of life, and in such as have some title to the name of elegant.

Improved state of agriculture.In Peru, agriculture, the art of primary necessity in social life, was more extensive, and carried on with greater skill than in any part of America. The Spaniards, in their progress through the country, were so fully supplied with provisions of every kind, that in the relation of their adventures we meet with few of those dismal scenes of distress occasioned by famine, in which the conquerors of Mexico were so often involved. The quantity of soil under cultivation was not left to the discretion of individuals, but regulated by public authority, in proportion to the exigencies of the community. Even the calamity of an unfruitful season was but little felt; for the product of the lands consecrated to the sun, as well as those set apart for the incas, being deposited in the tambos, or public storehouses, it remained there as a stated provision for times of scarcity.s As the extent of cultivation was determined with such provident attention to the demands of the state, the invention and industry of the Peruvians were called forth to extraordinary exertions by certain defects peculiar to their climate and soil. All the vast rivers Edition: current; Page: [300] that flow from the Andes take their course eastward to the Atlantic ocean. Peru is watered only by some streams which rush down from the mountains like torrents. A great part of the low country is sandy and barren, and never refreshed with rain. In order to render such an unpromising region fertile, the ingenuity of the Peruvians had recourse to various expedients. By means of artificial canals, conducted with much patience and considerable art from the torrents that poured across their country, they conveyed a regular supply of moisture to their fields.t They enriched the soil by manuring it with the dung of sea-fowls, of which they found an inexhaustible store on all the islands scattered along their coasts.u In describing the customs of any nation thoroughly civilized, such practices would hardly draw attention, or be mentioned as in any degree remarkable; but in the history of the improvident race of men in the New World, they are entitled to notice, as singular proofs of industry and of art. The use of the plough, indeed, was unknown to the Peruvians. They turned up the earth with a kind of mattock of hard wood.x Nor was this labour deemed so degrading as to be devolved wholly upon the women. Both sexes joined in performing this necessary work. Even the children of the sun set an example of industry, by cultivating a field near Cuzco with their own hands; and they dignified this function by denominating it their triumph over the earth.y

Their buildings.The superior ingenuity of the Peruvians is obvious, likewise, in the construction of their houses and public buildings. In the extensive plains which stretch along the Pacific ocean, where the sky is perpetually serene, and the climate mild, their houses were very Edition: current; Page: [301] properly of a fabric extremely slight. But in the higher regions, where rain falls, where the vicissitude of seasons is known, and their rigour felt, houses were constructed with greater solidity. They were generally of a square form, the walls about eight feet high, built with bricks hardened in the sun, without any windows, and the door low and straight. Simple as these structures were, and rude as the materials may seem to be of which they were formed, they were so durable, that many of them still subsist in different parts of Peru, long after every monument that might have conveyed to us any idea of the domestic state of the other American nations has vanished from the face of the earth. But it was in the temples consecrated to the sun, and in the buildings destined for the residence of their monarchs, that the Peruvians displayed the utmost extent of their art and contrivance. The descriptions of them by such of the Spanish writers as had an opportunity of contemplating them, while, in some measure, entire, might have appeared highly exaggerated, if the ruins which still remain did not vouch the truth of their relations. These ruins of sacred or royal buildings are found in every province of the empire, and by their frequency demonstrate that they are monuments of a powerful people, who must have subsisted, during a period of some extent, in a state of no inconsiderable improvement. They appear to have been edifices various in their dimensions: some of a moderate size, many of immense extent, all remarkable for solidity, and resembling each other in the style of architecture. The temple of Pachacamac, together with a palace of the inca, and a fortress, were so connected together as to form one great structure, above half a league in circuit. In this prodigious pile, the same singular taste in building is conspicuous, as in other works of the Peruvians. As they were unacquainted with the use Edition: current; Page: [302] of the pulley, and other mechanical powers, and could not elevate the large stones and bricks which they employed in building to any considerable height, the walls of this edifice, in which they seem to have made their greatest effort towards magnificence, did not rise above twelve feet from the ground. Though they had not discovered the use of mortar or of any other cement in building, the bricks or stones were joined with so much nicety, that the seams can hardly be discerned.z The apartments, as far as the distribution of them can be traced in the ruins, were ill-disposed, and afforded little accommodation. There was not a single window in any part of the building; and as no light could enter but by the door, all the apartments of largest dimension must either have been perfectly dark, or illuminated by some other means. But with all these, and many other imperfections that might be mentioned in their art of building, the works of the Peruvians which still remain must be considered as stupendous efforts of a people unacquainted with the use of iron, and convey to us a high idea of the power possessed by their ancient monarchs.

Their public roads,These, however, were not the noblest or most useful works of the incas. The two great roads from Cuzco to Quito, extending in an uninterrupted stretch above fifteen hundred miles, are entitled to still higher praise. The one was conducted through the interior and mountainous country, the other through the plains on the sea-coast. From the language of admiration in which some of the early writers express their astonishment when they first viewed those roads, and from the more pompous description of later writers, who labour to support some favourite theory concerning America, one might be led to compare this work of the incas to the famous military ways Edition: current; Page: [303] which remain as monuments of the Roman power; but in a country where there was no tame animal except the llama, which was never used for draught, and but little as a beast of burden, where the high roads were seldom trod by any but a human foot, no great degree of labour or art was requisite in forming them. The Peruvian roads were only fifteen feet in breadtha, and in many places so slightly formed, that time has effaced every vestige of the course in which they ran. In the low country little more seems to have been done, than to plant trees or to fix posts at certain intervals, in order to mark the proper route to travellers. To open a path through the mountainous country was a more arduous task. Eminences were levelled, and hollows filled up, and for the preservation of the road it was fenced with a bank of turf. At proper distances, tambos, or storehouses, were erected for the accommodation of the inca and his attendants, in their progress through his dominions. From the manner in which the road was originally formed in this higher and more impervious region, it has proved more durable; and though, from the inattention of the Spaniards to every object but that of working their mines, nothing has been done towards keeping it in repair, its course may still be traced.b Such was the celebrated road of the incas; and even from this description, divested of every circumstance of manifest exaggeration, or of suspicious aspect, it must be considered as a striking proof of an extraordinary progress in improvement and policy. To the savage tribes of America, the idea of facilitating communication with places at a distance had never occurred. To the Mexicans it was hardly known. Even in the most civilized countries in Europe, men Edition: current; Page: [304] had advanced far in refinement, before it became a regular object of national police to form such roads as render intercourse commodious. It was a capital object of Roman policy to open a communication with all the provinces of their extensive empire, by means of those roads which are justly considered as one of the noblest monuments both of their wisdom and their power. But during the long reign of barbarism, the Roman roads were neglected or destroyed; and at the time when the Spaniards entered Peru, no kingdom in Europe could boast of any work of public utility that could be compared with the great roads formed by the incas.

and bridges.The formation of those roads introduced another improvement in Peru equally unknown over all the rest of America. In its course from south to north, the road of the incas was intersected by all the torrents which roll from the Andes towards the Western ocean. From the rapidity of their course, as well as from the frequency and violence of their inundation, these were not fordable. Some expedient, however, was to be found for passing them. The Peruvians, from their unacquaintance with the use of arches, and their inability to work in wood, could not construct bridges either of stone or timber. But necessity, the parent of invention, suggested a device which supplied that defect. They formed cables of great strength, by twisting together some of the pliable withs or osiers, with which their country abounds; six of these cables they stretched across the stream parallel to one another, and made them fast on each side. These they bound firmly together by interweaving smaller ropes so close, as to form a compact piece of network, which being covered with branches of trees and earth, they passed along it with tolerable security.c Proper persons were appointed to attend at each bridge, to Edition: current; Page: [305] keep it in repair, and to assist passengers.d In the level country, where the rivers became deep and broad and still, they are passed in balzas, or floats; in the construction as well as navigation of which, the ingenuity of the Peruvians appears to be far superior to that of any people in America. These had advanced no farther in naval skill than the use of the paddle, or oar; the Peruvians ventured to raise a mast, and spread a sail, by means of which their balzas not only went nimbly before the wind, but could veer and tack with great celerity.e

Mode of refining silver ore.Nor were the ingenuity and art of the Peruvians confined solely to objects of essential utility. They had made some progress in arts, which may be called elegant. They possessed the precious metals in greater abundance than any people of America. They obtained gold in the same manner with the Mexicans, by searching in the channels of rivers, or washing the earth in which particles of it were contained. But in order to procure silver, they exerted no inconsiderable degree of skill and invention. They had not, indeed, attained the art of sinking a shaft into the bowels of the earth, and penetrating to the riches concealed there; but they hollowed deep caverns on the banks of rivers and the sides of mountains, and emptied such veins as did not dip suddenly beyond their reach. In other places, where the vein lay near the surface, they dug pits to such a depth, that the person who worked below could throw out the ore, or hand it up in baskets.f They had discovered the art of smelting and refining this, either by the simple application of fire, or, where the ore was more stubborn, and impregnated with foreign substances, by placing it in small ovens or furnaces, on Edition: current; Page: [306] high grounds, so artificially constructed, that the draught of air performed the function of a bellows, an engine with which they were totally unacquainted. By this simple device, the purer ores were smelted with facility, and the quantity of silver in Peru was so considerable, that many of the utensils employed in the functions of common life were made of it.g Several of those vessels and trinkets are said to have merited no small degree of estimation, on account of the neatness of the workmanship, as well as the intrinsic value of the materials. But as the conquerors of America were well acquainted with the latter, but had scarcely any conception of the former, most of the silver vessels and trinkets were melted down, and rated according to the weight and fineness of the metal in the division of the spoil.

Works of elegance.In other works of mere curiosity or ornament their ingenuity has been highly celebrated. Many specimens of those have been dug out of the guacas, or mounds of earth, with which the Peruvians covered the bodies of the dead. Among these are mirrors of various dimensions, of hard shining stones highly polished; vessels of earthenware of different forms; hatchets, and other instruments, some destined for war, and others for labour. Some were of flint, some of copper, hardened to such a degree by an unknown process, as to supply the place of iron on several occasions. Had the use of those tools formed of copper been general, the progress of the Peruvians in the arts might have been such, as to emulate that of more cultivated nations. But either the metal was so rare, or the operation by which it was hardened so tedious, that their instruments of copper were few, and so extremely small, that they seem to have been employed only in slighter works. But even to such a circumscribed use of this imperfect metal, the Peruvians Edition: current; Page: [307] were indebted for their superiority to the other people of America in various arts.h The same observation, however, may be applied to them, which I formerly made with respect to the arts of the Mexicans. From several specimens of Peruvian utensils and ornaments, which are deposited in the royal cabinet of Madrid, and from some preserved in different collections in other parts of Europe, I have reason to believe that the workmanship is more to be admired on account of the rude tools with which it was executed, than on account of its intrinsic neatness and elegance; and that the Peruvians, though the most improved of all the Americans, were not advanced beyond the infancy of arts.

An imperfect civilization.But notwithstanding so many particulars, which seem to indicate a high degree of improvement in Peru, other circumstances occur that suggest the idea of a society still in the first stages of its transition from barbarism to civilization.No cities but Cuzco. In all the dominions of the incas, Cuzco was the only place that had the appearance, or was entitled to the name, of a city. Every where else, the people lived mostly in detached habitations, dispersed over the country, or, at the utmost, settled together in small villages.i But until men are brought to assemble in numerous bodies, and incorporated in such close union as to enjoy frequent intercourse, and to feel mutual dependence, they never imbibe perfectly the spirit, or assume the manners, of social life. In a country of immense extent, with only one city, the progress of manners, and the improvement either of the necessary or more refined arts, must have been so slow, and carried on under such disadvantages, that it is more surprising the Peruvians should have advanced so far in refinement, than that they did not proceed farther.

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In consequence of this state of imperfect union, the separation of professions in Peru was not so complete as among the Mexicans.No perfect separation of professions. The less closely men associate, the more simple are their manners, and the fewer their wants. The crafts of common and most necessary use in life do not, in such a state, become so complex or difficult, as to render it requisite that men should be trained to them by any particular course of education. All the arts, accordingly, which were of daily and indispensable utility, were exercised by every Peruvian indiscriminately. None but the artists employed in works of mere curiosity, or ornament, constituted a separate order of men, or were distinguished from other citizens.k

Little commercial intercourse.From the want of cities in Peru, another consequence followed. There was little commercial intercourse among the inhabitants of that great empire. The activity of commerce is coeval with the foundation of cities; and from the moment that the members of any community settle in considerable numbers in one place, its operations become vigorous. The citizen must depend for subsistence on the labour of those who cultivate the ground. They, in return, must receive some equivalent. Thus mutual intercourse is established, and the productions of art are regularly exchanged for the fruits of agriculture. In the towns of the Mexican empire, stated markets were held, and whatever could supply any want or desire of man was an object of commerce. But in Peru, from the singular mode of dividing property, and the manner in which the people were settled, there was hardly any species of commerce carried on between different provincesl, and the community was less acquainted with that active intercourse, which is at once a bond of union, and an incentive to improvement.

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But the unwarlike spirit of the Peruvians was the most remarkable, as well as the most fatal defect in their character.mUnwarlike spirit of the Peruvians. The greater part of the rude nations of America opposed their invaders with undaunted ferocity, though with little conduct or success. The Mexicans maintained the struggle in defence of their liberties with such persevering fortitude, that it was with difficulty the Spaniards triumphed over them. Peru was subdued at once, and almost without resistance; and the most favourable opportunities of regaining their freedom, and of crushing their oppressors, were lost through the timidity of the people. Though the traditional history of the Peruvians represents all the incas as warlike princes, frequently at the head of armies, which they led to victory and conquest, few symptoms of such a martial spirit appear in any of their operations subsequent to the invasion of the Spaniards. The influence, perhaps, of those institutions which rendered their manners gentle, gave their minds this unmanly softness; perhaps, the constant serenity and mildness of the climate may have enervated the vigour of their frame; perhaps some principle in their government, unknown to us, was the occasion of this political debility. Whatever may have been the cause, the fact is certain; and there is not an instance in history of any people so little advanced in refinement, so totally destitute of military talents and enterprise. This character hath descended to their posterity. The Indians of Peru are now more tame and depressed than any people of America. Their feeble spirits, relaxed in lifeless inaction, seem hardly capable of any bold or manly exertion.

But, besides those capital defects in the political state of Peru, some detached circumstances and facts occur in the Spanish writers, which discover a considerable remainder of barbarity in their manners. A cruel Edition: current; Page: [310] custom, that prevailed in some of the most savage tribes, subsisted among the Peruvians. On the death of the incas, and of other eminent persons, a considerable number of their attendants was put to death, and interred around their guacas, that they might appear in the next world with their former dignity, and be served with the same respect. On the death of Huana Capac, the most powerful of their monarchs, above a thousand victims were doomed to accompany him to the tomb.n In one particular, their manners appear to have been more barbarous than those of most rude tribes. Though acquainted with the use of fire in preparing maize and other vegetables for food, they devoured both flesh and fish perfectly raw, and astonished the Spaniards, with a practice repugnant to the ideas of all civilized people.o

Other dominions of Spain in America.But though Mexico and Peru are the possessions of Spain in the New World, which, on account both of their ancient and present state, have attracted the greatest attention; her other dominions there are far from being inconsiderable, either in extent or value. The greater part of them was reduced to subjection during the first part of the sixteenth century, by private adventurers, who fitted out their small armaments either in Hispaniola or in Old Spain: and were we to follow each leader in his progress, we should discover the same daring courage, the same persevering ardour, the same rapacious desire for wealth, and the same capacity for enduring and surmounting every thing in order to attain it, which distinguished the operations of the Spaniards in their greater American conquests.A brief survey of them. But, instead of entering into a detail, which, from the similarity of the transactions, would appear almost a repetition of what has been already related, I shall satisfy myself with such a view Edition: current; Page: [311] of those provinces of the Spanish empire in America, which have not hitherto been mentioned, as may convey to my readers an adequate idea of its greatness, fertility, and opulence.

Such as are adjacent to the empire of Mexico.I begin with the countries contiguous to the two great monarchies, of whose history and institutions I have given some account, and shall then briefly describe the other districts of Spanish America. The jurisdiction of the viceroy of New Spain extends over several provinces, which were not subject to the dominion of the Mexicans.Cinaloa, Sonora, &c. The countries of Cinaloa and Sonora, that stretch along the east side of the Vermilion sea, or gulf of California, as well as the immense kingdoms of New Navarre and New Mexico, which bend towards the west and north, did not acknowledge the sovereignty of Montezuma, or his predecessors. These regions, not inferior in magnitude to all the Mexican empire, are reduced, some to a greater, others to a less degree of subjection to the Spanish yoke. They extend through the most delightful part of the temperate zone; their soil is, in general, remarkably fertile, and all their productions, whether animal or vegetable, are most perfect in their kind. They have all a communication either with the Pacific ocean, or with the gulf of Mexico, and are watered by rivers which not only enrich them, but may become subservient to commerce. The number of Spaniards settled in those vast countries, is indeed extremely small. They may be said to have subdued rather than to have occupied them. But, if the population in their ancient establishments in America shall continue to increase, they may gradually spread over those provinces, of which, however inviting, they have not hitherto been able to take full possession.

Rich mines.One circumstance may contribute to the speedy population of some districts. Very rich mines, both of gold and silver, have been discovered in many of Edition: current; Page: [312] the regions which I have mentioned. Wherever these are opened, and worked with success, a multitude of people resort. In order to supply them with the necessaries of life, cultivation must be increased, artisans of various kinds must assemble, and industry as well as wealth will be gradually diffused. Many examples of this have occurred in different parts of America, since they fell under the dominion of the Spaniards. Populous villages and large towns have suddenly arisen amidst uninhabited wilds and mountains; and the working of mines, though far from being the most proper object towards which the attention of an infant society should be turned, may become the means both of promoting useful activity,A recent and remarkable discovery. and of augmenting the number of people. A recent and singular instance of this has happened, which, as it is but little known in Europe, and may be productive of great effects, merits attention. The Spaniards settled in the provinces of Cinaloa and Sonora had been long disturbed by the depredations of some fierce tribes of Indians. In the year 1765, the incursions of those savages became so frequent and so destructive, that the Spanish inhabitants, in despair, applied to the Marquis de Croix, Viceroy of Mexico, for such a body of troops as might enable them to drive those formidable invaders from their places of retreat in the mountains. But the treasury of Mexico was so much exhausted by the large sums drawn from it, in order to support the late war against Great Britain, that the viceroy could afford them no aid. The respect due to his virtues accomplished what his official power could not effect. He prevailed with the merchants of New Spain to advance about two hundred thousand pesos for defraying the expence of the expedition. The war was conducted by an officer of abilities; and, after being protracted for three years, chiefly by the difficulty of pursuing the Edition: current; Page: [313] fugitives over mountains, and through defiles which were almost impassable, it terminated, in the year 1771, in the final submission of the tribes, which had been so long the object of terror to the two provinces. In the course of this service, the Spaniards marched through countries into which they seem not to have penetrated before that time, and discovered mines of such value, as was astonishing even to men acquainted with the riches contained in the mountains of the New World. At Cineguilla, in the province of Sonora, they entered a plain of fourteen leagues in extent, in which, at the depth of only sixteen inches, they found gold in grains of such a size, that some of them weighed nine marks, and in such quantities, that in a short time, with a few labourers, they collected a thousand marks of gold in grains, even without taking time to wash the earth that had been dug, which appeared to be so rich, that persons of skill computed that it might yield what would be equal in value to a million of pesos.Probable effects of this. Before the end of the year 1771, above two thousand persons were settled in Cineguilla, under the government of proper magistrates, and the inspection of several ecclesiastics. As several other mines, not inferior in richness to that of Cineguilla, have been discovered, both in Sonora and Cinaloap, it is probable that these neglected and thinly-inhabited provinces may soon become as populous and valuable as any part of the Spanish empire in America.

California, its state,The peninsula of California, on the other side of the Vermilion sea, seems to have been less known to the ancient Mexicans than the provinces which I have mentioned. It was discovered by Cortes in the year 1536.q During a long period it continued to be so little frequented, that even its form was unknown, and in most charts it was represented as an island, Edition: current; Page: [314] not as a peninsula.r Though the climate of this country, if we may judge from its situation, must be very desirable, the Spaniards have made small progress in peopling it. Towards the close of the last century, the Jesuits, who had great merit in exploring this neglected province, and in civilizing its rude inhabitants, imperceptibly acquired a dominion over it as complete as that which they possessed in their missions in Paraguay, and they laboured to introduce into it the same policy, and to govern the natives by the same maxims. In order to prevent the court of Spain from conceiving any jealousy of their designs and operations, they seem studiously to have depreciated the country, by representing the climate as so disagreeable and unwholesome, and the soil as so barren, that nothing but a zealous desire of converting the natives could have induced them to settle there.s Several public-spirited citizens endeavoured to undeceive their sovereigns, and to give them a better view of California;and probability of its improving. but in vain. At length, on the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Spanish dominions, the court of Madrid, as prone at that juncture to suspect the purity of the order’s intentions, as formerly to confide in them with implicit trust, appointed Don Joseph Galvez, whose abilities have since raised him to the high rank of minister for the Indies, to visit that peninsula. His account of the country was favourable; he found the pearl fishery on its coasts to be valuable, and he discovered mines of gold of a very promising appearance.t From its vicinity to Cinaloa and Sonora, it is probable, that, if the population of these provinces shall increase in the manner which I have supposed, California may, by degrees, receive from them such a recruit of inhabitants, as to be Edition: current; Page: [315] no longer reckoned among the desolate and useless districts of the Spanish empire.

Yucatan and Honduras.On the east of Mexico, Yucatan and Honduras are comprehended in the government of New Spain, though anciently they can hardly be said to have formed a part of the Mexican empire. These large provinces, stretching from the bay of Campeachy beyond cape Gracias á Dios, do not, like the other territories of Spain in the New World, derive their value either from the fertility of their soil, or the richness of their mines: but they produce in greater abundance than any part of America, the logwood-tree, which, in dyeing some colours, is so far preferable to any other material, that the consumption of it in Europe is considerable, and it has become an article in commerce of great value. During a long period, no European nation intruded upon the Spaniards in those provinces, or attempted to obtain any share in this branch of trade. But, after the conquest of Jamaica by the English, it soon appeared that a formidable rival was now seated in the neighbourhood of the Spanish territories. One of the first objects which tempted the English settled in that island, was the great profit arising from the logwood trade, and the facility of wresting some portion of it from the Spaniards.Their decline, Some adventurers from Jamaica made the first attempt at cape Catoche, the south-east promontory of Yucatan, and, by cutting logwood there, carried on a gainful traffic. When most of the trees near the coast in that place were felled, they removed to the island of Trist, in the bay of Campeachy, and, in later times, their principal station has been in the bay of Honduras. The Spaniards, alarmed at this encroachment, endeavoured by negotiation, remonstrances, and open force, to prevent the English from obtaining any footing on that part of the American continent. But, after struggling against it for more than a century, the disasters Edition: current; Page: [316] of last war extorted from the court of Madrid a reluctant consent to tolerate this settlement of foreigners in the heart of its territories.u The pain which this humbling concession occasioned, seems to have prompted the Spaniards to devise a method of rendering it of little consequence, more effectual than all the efforts of negotiation or violence. The logwood produced on the west coast of Yucatan, where the soil is drier, is, in quality, far superior to that which grows on the marshy grounds where the English are settled.and revival. By encouraging the cutting of this, and permitting the importation of it into Spain without paying any dutyx, such vigour has been given to this branch of commerce, and the logwood which the English bring to market has sunk so much in value, that their trade to the bay of Honduras has gradually declinedy since it obtained a legal sanction; and, it is probable, will soon be finally abandoned. In that event, Yucatan and Honduras will become possessions of considerable importance to Spain.

Costa Rica and Veragua.Still farther east than Honduras lie the two provinces of Costa Rica and Veragua, which likewise belong to the viceroyalty of New Spain; but both have been so much neglected by the Spaniards, and are apparently of such small value, that they merit no particular attention.

Chili.The most important province depending on the viceroyalty of Peru is Chili. The incas had established their dominion in some of its northern districts; but in the greater part of the country, its gallant and high-spirited inhabitants maintained their independence. The Spaniards, allured by the fame of its opulence, early attempted the conquest of it under Diego Almagro; and, after his death, Pedro de Valdivia resumed the design. Both met with fierce opposition. Edition: current; Page: [317] The former relinquished the enterprise in the manner which I have mentioned.z The latter, after having given many displays, both of courage and military skill, was cut off, together with a considerable body of troops under his command. Francisco de Villagra, Valdivia’s lieutenant, by his spirited conduct, checked the natives in their career, and saved the remainder of the Spaniards from destruction. By degrees, all the champaign country along the coast was subjected to the Spanish dominion. The mountainous country is still possessed by the Puelches, Araucos, and other tribes of its original inhabitants, formidable neighbours to the Spaniards; with whom, during the course of two centuries, they have been obliged to maintain almost perpetual hostility, suspended only by a few intervals of insecure peace.

Excellence of its climate and soil.That part of Chili, then, which may properly be deemed a Spanish province, is a narrow district, extending along the coast from the desert of Atacamas to the island of Chiloe, above nine hundred miles. Its climate is the most delicious in the New World, and is hardly equalled by that of any region on the face of the earth. Though bordering on the torrid zone, it never feels the extremity of heat, being screened on the east by the Andes, and refreshed from the west by cooling sea-breezes. The temperature of the air is so mild and equable, that the Spaniards give it the preference to that of the southern provinces in their native country. The fertility of the soil corresponds with the benignity of the climate, and is wonderfully accommodated to European productions. The most valuable of these, corn, wine, and oil, abound in Chili, as if they had been native to the country. All the fruits imported from Europe attain to full maturity there. The animals of our hemisphere not only multiply, but improve in this Edition: current; Page: [318] delightful region. The horned cattle are of larger size than those of Spain. Its breed of horses surpasses, both in beauty and spirit, the famous Andalusian race, from which they sprung. Nor has nature exhausted her bounty on the surface of the earth; she has stored its bowels with riches. Valuable mines of gold, of silver, of copper, and of lead, have been discovered in various parts of it.

Cause of its being neglected by the Spaniards.A country distinguished by so many blessings, we may be apt to conclude, would early become a favourite station of the Spaniards, and must have been cultivated with peculiar predilection and care. Instead of this, a great part of it remains unoccupied. In all this extent of country, there are not above eighty thousand white inhabitants, and about three times that number of negroes and people of a mixed race. The most fertile soil in America lies uncultivated, and some of its most promising mines remain unwrought. Strange as this neglect of the Spaniards to avail themselves of advantages, which seemed to court their acceptance, may appear, the causes of it can be traced. The only intercourse of Spain with its colonies in the South sea, was carried on during two centuries by the annual fleet to Puerto Bello. All the produce of these colonies was shipped in the ports of Callao, or Arica in Peru, for Panama, and carried from thence across the isthmus. All the commodities which they received from the mother country were conveyed from Panama to the same harbours. Thus both the exports and imports of Chili passed through the hands of merchants settled in Peru. These had of course a profit on each; and, in both transactions, the Chilese felt their own subordination; and having no direct intercourse with the parent state, they depended upon another province for the disposal of their productions, as well as for the supply of their wants. Under such discouragements, population could Edition: current; Page: [319] not increase, and industry was destitute of one chief incitement. But now that Spain, from motives which I shall mention hereafter,Prospect of its improvement. has adopted a new system, and carries on her commerce with the colonies in the South sea, by ships which go round cape Horn, a direct intercourse is opened between Chili and the mother-country. The gold, the silver, and the other commodities of the province, will be exchanged in its own harbours for the manufactures of Europe. Chili may speedily rise into that importance among the Spanish settlements to which it is entitled by its natural advantages. It may become the granary of Peru, and the other provinces along the Pacific ocean. It may supply them with wine, with cattle, with horses, with hemp, and many other articles for which they now depend upon Europe. Though the new system has been established only a few years, those effects of it begin already to be observed.a If it shall be adhered to with any steadiness for half a century, one may venture to foretel, that population, industry, and opulence will advance in this province with rapid progress.

Provinces of Tucuman and Rio de la Plata.To the east of the Andes, the provinces of Tucuman and Rio de la Plata border on Chili, and like it were dependent on the viceroyalty of Peru. These regions of immense extent stretch in length from north to south above thirteen hundred miles, and in breadth more than a thousand.Northern and southern division. This country, which is larger than most European kingdoms, naturally forms itself into two great divisions, one on the north, and the other on the south of Rio de la Plata. The former comprehends Paraguay, the famous missions of the Jesuits and several other districts. But as disputes have long subsisted between the courts of Spain and Portugal, concerning its boundaries, which, it is probable, will be soon finally ascertained, either amicably or by the decision of the sword, I choose to Edition: current; Page: [320] reserve my account of this northern division, until I enter upon the history of Portuguese America, with which it is intimately connected; and, in relating it, I shall be able, from authentic materials, supplied both by Spain and Portugal, to give a full and accurate description of the operations and views of the Jesuits, in rearing that singular fabric of policy in America, which has drawn so much attention, and has been so imperfectly understood. The latter division of the province contains the governments of Tucuman and Buenos Ayres, and to these I shall at present confine my observations.

View of the latter.The Spaniards entered this part of America by the river de la Plata; and though a succession of cruel disasters befell them in their early attempts to establish their dominion in it, they were encouraged to persist in the design, at first by the hopes of discovering mines in the interior country, and afterwards by the necessity of occupying it, in order to prevent any other nation from settling there, and penetrating by this route into their rich possessions in Peru. But, except at Buenos Ayres, they have made no settlement of any consequence in all the vast space which I have mentioned. There are, indeed, scattered over it, a few places on which they have bestowed the name of towns, and to which they have endeavoured to add some dignity, by erecting them into bishoprics; but they are no better than paltry villages, each with two or three hundred inhabitants. One circumstance, however, which was not originally foreseen, has contributed to render this district, though thinly peopled, of considerable importance. The province of Tucuman, together with the country to the south of the Plata, instead of being covered with wood like other parts of America, forms one extensive open plain, almost without a tree. The soil is a deep fertile mould, watered by many streams descending from the Andes, Edition: current; Page: [321] and clothed in perpetual verdure. In this rich pasturage, the horses and cattle imported by the Spaniards from Europe have multiplied to a degree which almost exceeds belief. This has enabled the inhabitants not only to open a lucrative trade with Peru, by supplying it with cattle, horses, and mules, but to carry on a commerce no less beneficial, by the exportation of hides to Europe. From both, the colony has derived great advantages. But its commodious situation for carrying on contraband trade has been the chief source of its prosperity. While the court of Madrid adhered to its ancient system, with respect to its communication with America, the river de la Plata lay so much out of the course of Spanish navigation, that interlopers, almost without any risk of being either observed or obstructed, could pour in European manufactures in such quantities, that they not only supplied the wants of the colony, but were conveyed into all the eastern districts of Peru. When the Portuguese in Brazil extended their settlements to the banks of Rio de la Plata, a new channel was opened, by which prohibited commodities flowed into the Spanish territories, with still more facility, and in greater abundance. This illegal traffic, however detrimental to the parent state, contributed to the increase of the settlement, which had the immediate benefit of it, and Buenos Ayres became gradually a populous and opulent town. What may be the effect of the alteration lately made in the government of this colony, the nature of which shall be described in the subsequent book, cannot hitherto be known.

Other territories of Spain.All the other territories of Spain in the New World, the islands excepted, of whose discovery and reduction I have formerly given an account, are comprehended under two great divisions; the former denominated the kingdom of Tierra Firme, the provinces of which stretch along the Atlantic, from the eastern frontier Edition: current; Page: [322] of New Spain to the mouth of the Orinoco; the latter, the new kingdom of Granada, situated in the interior country. With a short view of these I shall close this part of my work.

Darien.To the east of Veragua, the last province subject to the viceroy of Mexico, lies the isthmus of Darien. Though it was in this part of the continent that the Spaniards first began to plant colonies, they have made no considerable progress in peopling it. As the country is extremely mountainous, deluged with rain during a good part of the year, remarkably unhealthful, and contains no mines of great value, the Spaniards would probably have abandoned it altogether, if they had not been allured to continue by the excellence of the harbour of Puerto Bello on the one sea, and that of Panama on the other. These have been called the keys to the communication between the north and south sea, between Spain and her most valuable colonies. In consequence of this advantage, Panama has become a considerable and thriving town. The peculiar noxiousness of its climate has prevented Puerto Bello from increasing in the same proportion. As the intercourse with the settlements in the Pacific ocean is now carried on by another channel, it is probable that both Puerto Bello and Panama will decline, when no longer nourished and enriched by that commerce to which they were indebted for their prosperity, and even their existence.

Carthagena and Santa Martha.The provinces of Carthagena and Santa Martha stretch to the eastward of the isthmus of Darien. The country still continues mountainous, but its valleys begin to expand, are well watered, and extremely fertile. Pedro de Heredia subjected this part of America to the crown of Spain, about the year 1532. It is thinly peopled, and, of course, ill cultivated. It produces, however, a variety of valuable Edition: current; Page: [323] drugs, and some precious stones, particularly emeralds. But its chief importance is derived from the harbour of Carthagena, the safest and best fortified of any in the American dominions of Spain. In a situation so favourable, commerce soon began to flourish. As early as the year 1544, it seems to have been a town of some note. But when Carthagena was chosen as the port in which the galeons should first begin to trade on their arrival from Europe, and to which they were directed to return, in order to prepare for their voyage homeward, the commerce of its inhabitants was so much favoured by this arrangement, that it soon became one of the most populous, opulent, and beautiful cities in America. There is, however, reason to apprehend that it has reached its highest point of exaltation, and that it will be so far affected by the change in the Spanish system of trade with America, which has withdrawn from it the desirable visits of the galeons, as to feel at least a temporary decline. But the wealth now collected there will soon find or create employment for itself, and may be turned with advantage into some new channel. Its harbour is so safe, and so conveniently situated for receiving commodities from Europe, its merchants have been so long accustomed to convey these into all the adjacent provinces, that it is probable they will still retain this branch of trade, and Carthagena continue to be a city of great importance.

Venezuela.The province contiguous to Santa Martha on the east, was first visited by Alonso de Ojeda, in the year 1499b; and the Spaniards, on their landing there, having observed some huts in an Indian village built upon piles, in order to raise them above the stagnated water which covered the plain, were led to bestow upon it the name of Venezuela, or Little Venice, by Edition: current; Page: [324] their usual propensity to find a resemblance between what they discovered in America, and the objects which were familiar to them in Europe. They made some attempts to settle there, but with little success. The final reduction of the province was accomplished by means very different from those to which Spain was indebted for its other acquisitions in the New World. The ambition of Charles V. often engaged him in operations of such variety and extent, that his revenues were not sufficient to defray the expence of carrying them into execution. Among other expedients for supplying the deficiency of his funds, he had borrowed large sums from the Velsers of Augsburg, the most opulent merchants at that time in Europe. By way of retribution for these, or in hopes, perhaps, of obtaining a new loan, he bestowed upon them the province of Venezuela, to be held as an hereditary fief from the crown of Castile, on condition that within a limited time they should render themselves masters of the country, and establish a colony there. Under the direction of such persons, it might have been expected that a settlement would have been established on maxims very different from those of the Spaniards, and better calculated to encourage such useful industry as mercantile proprietors might have known to be the most certain source of prosperity and opulence. But, unfortunately, they committed the execution of their plan to some of those soldiers of fortune with which Germany abounded in the sixteenth century. These adventurers, impatient to amass riches, that they might speedily abandon a station which they soon discovered to be very uncomfortable, instead of planting a colony in order to cultivate and improve the country, wandered from district to district, in search of mines, plundering the natives with unfeeling rapacity, or oppressing them by the imposition of intolerable tasks. In the course Edition: current; Page: [325] of a few years, their avarice and exactions, in comparison with which those of the Spaniards were moderate, desolated the province so completely, that it could hardly afford them subsistence, and the Velsers relinquished a property, from which the inconsiderate conduct of their agents left them no hope of ever deriving any advantage.c When the wretched remainder of the Germans deserted Venezuela, the Spaniards again took possession of it; but, notwithstanding many natural advantages, it is one of their most languishing and unproductive settlements.

Caraccas and Cumana.The provinces of Caraccas and Cumana are the last of the Spanish territories on this coast; but, in relating the origin and operations of the mercantile company, in which an exclusive right of trade with them has been vested, I shall hereafter have occasion to consider their state and productions.

New Kingdom of Granada.The New Kingdom of Granada is entirely an inland country, of great extent. This important addition was made to the dominions of Spain about the year 1536, by Sebastian de Benalcazar and Gonzalo Ximenes de Quesada, two of the bravest and most accomplished officers employed in the conquest of America. The former, who commanded at that time in Quito, attacked it from the south; the latter made his invasion from Santa Martha on the north. As the original inhabitants of this region were farther advanced in improvement than any people in America but the Mexicans and Peruviansd, they defended themselves with great resolution and good conduct. The abilities and perseverance of Benalcazar and Quesada surmounted all opposition, though not without encountering many dangers, and reduced the country into the form of a Spanish province.

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The New Kingdom of Granada is so far elevated above the level of the sea, that though it approaches almost to the equator, the climate is remarkably temperate. The fertility of its valleys is not inferior to that of the richest districts in America, and its higher grounds yield gold and precious stones of various kinds. It is not by digging into the bowels of the earth that this gold is found; it is mingled with the soil near the surface, and separated from it by repeated washing with water. This operation is carried on wholly by negro slaves; for though the chill subterranean air has been discovered, by experience, to be so fatal to them, that they cannot be employed with advantage in the deep silver mines, they are more capable of performing the other species of labour than Indians. As the natives in the New Kingdom of Granada are exempt from that service, which has wasted their race so rapidly in other parts of America, the country is still remarkably populous. Some districts yield gold with a profusion no less wonderful than that in the vale of Cineguilla, which I have formerly mentioned, and it is often found in large pepitas, or grains, which manifest the abundance in which it is produced. On a rising ground near Pamplona, single labourers have collected in a day what was equal in value to a thousand pesos.e A late governor of Santa Fé brought with him to Spain a lump of pure gold, estimated to be worth seven hundred and forty pounds sterling. This, which is, perhaps, the largest and finest specimen ever found in the New World, is now deposited in the royal cabinet of Madrid. But without founding any calculation on what is rare and extraordinary, the value of the gold usually collected in this country, particularly in the provinces of Popayan and Choco, is of considerable amount. Its towns are populous and flourishing. The number Edition: current; Page: [327] of inhabitants in almost every part of the country daily increases. Cultivation and industry of various kinds begin to be encouraged, and to prosper. A considerable trade is carried on with Carthagena, the produce of the mines, and other commodities, being conveyed down the great river of St. Magdalene to that city. On another quarter, the New Kingdom of Granada has a communication with the Atlantic by the river Orinoco; but the country which stretches along its banks towards the east is little known, and imperfectly occupied by the Spaniards.

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THE

HISTORY

of

AMERICA.

BOOK VIII.

View of the policy and trade of the Spanish colonies.After tracing the progress of the Spaniards in their discoveries and conquests during more than half a century, I have conducted them to that period when their authority was established over almost all the vast regions in the New World still subject to their dominion. The effect of their settlements upon the countries of which they took possession, the maxims which they adopted in forming their new colonies, the interior structure and policy of these, together with the influence of their progressive improvement upon the parent state, and upon the commercial intercourse of nations, are the objects to which we now turn our attention.

Depopulation of America the first effect of them.The first visible consequence of the establishments made by the Spaniards in America, was the diminution of the ancient inhabitants, to a degree equally astonishing and deplorable. I have already, on different occasions, mentioned the disastrous influence under which the connection of the Americans with the people of our hemisphere commenced, both in the Edition: current; Page: [329] islands and in several parts of the continent,BOOK VIII.lf1681-07_figure_001.jpg and have touched upon various causes of their rapid consumption. Wherever the inhabitants of America had resolution to take arms in defence of their liberty and rights, many perished in the unequal contest, and were cut off by their fierce invaders. But the greatest desolation followed after the sword was sheathed, and the conquerors were settled in tranquillity.Causes of this in the islands, and some parts of the continent. It was in the islands, and in those provinces of the continent which stretch from the gulf of Trinidad to the confines of Mexico, that the fatal effects of the Spanish dominion were first and most sensibly felt. All these were occupied either by wandering tribes of hunters, or by such as had made but small progress in cultivation and industry. When they were compelled by their new masters to take up a fixed residence, and to apply to regular labour; when tasks were imposed upon them disproportioned to their strength, and were exacted with unrelenting severity, they possessed not vigour either of mind or of body to sustain this unusual load of oppression. Dejection and despair drove many to end their lives by violence. Fatigue and famine destroyed more. In all those extensive regions, the original race of inhabitants wasted away; in some it was totally extinguished. In Mexico, where a powerful and martial people distinguished their opposition to the Spaniards by efforts of courage worthy of a better fate, great numbers fell in the field; and there, as well as in Peru, still greater numbers perished under the hardships of attending the Spanish armies in their various expeditions and civil wars, worn out with the incessant toil of carrying their baggage, provisions, and military stores.

In New Spain and Peru.But neither the rage nor cruelty of the Spaniards was so destructive to the people of Mexico and Peru, as the inconsiderate policy with which they established their new settlements. The former were temporary Edition: current; Page: [330] calamities, fatal to individuals: the latter was a permanent evil, which, with gradual consumption, wasted the nation. When the provinces of Mexico and Peru were divided among the conquerors, each was eager to obtain a district, from which he might expect an instantaneous recompense for all his services. Soldiers, accustomed to the carelessness and dissipation of a military life, had neither industry to carry on any plan of regular cultivation, nor patience to wait for its slow but certain returns. Instead of settling in the valleys occupied by the natives, where the fertility of the soil would have amply rewarded the diligence of the planter, they chose to fix their stations in some of the mountainous regions, frequent both in New Spain and in Peru. To search for mines of gold and silver, was the chief object of their activity. The prospects which this opens, and the alluring hopes which it continually presents, correspond wonderfully with the spirit of enterprise and adventure that animated the first emigrants to America in every part of their conduct. In order to push forward those favourite projects, so many hands were wanted, that the service of the natives became indispensably requisite. They were accordingly compelled to abandon their ancient habitations in the plains, and driven in crowds to the mountains. This sudden transition from the sultry climate of the valleys to the chill penetrating air peculiar to high lands in the torrid zone; exorbitant labour, scanty or unwholesome nourishment, and the despondency occasioned by a species of oppression to which they were not accustomed, and of which they saw no end, affected them nearly as much as their less industrious countrymen in the islands. They sunk under the united pressure of those calamities, and melted away with almost equal rapidity.a In consequence of this, together Edition: current; Page: [331] with the introduction of the small-pox, a malady unknown in America, and extremely fatal to the nativesb, the number of people both in New Spain and Peru was so much reduced, that in a few years the accounts of their ancient population appeared almost incredible.c

Not the result of any system of policy;Such are the most considerable events and causes which, by their combined operation, contributed to depopulate America. Without attending to these, many authors, astonished at the suddenness of the desolation, have ascribed this unexampled event to a system of policy no less profound than atrocious. The Spaniards, as they pretend, conscious of their own inability to occupy the vast regions which they had discovered, and foreseeing the impossibility of maintaining their authority over a people infinitely superior to themselves in number, in order to preserve the possession of America, resolved to exterminate the inhabitants, and, by converting a great part of the country into a desert, endeavoured to secure their own dominion over it.d But nations seldom extend their views to objects so remote, or lay their plans so deep; and, for the honour of humanity, we may observe, that no nation ever deliberately formed such an execrable scheme. The Spanish monarchs, far from acting upon any such system of destruction, were uniformly solicitous for the preservation of their new subjects. With Isabella, zeal for propagating the Christian faith, together with the desire of communicating the knowledge of truth, and the consolations of religion, to people destitute of spiritual light, were more than ostensible motives for encouraging Columbus to attempt his discoveries. Upon his success, she endeavoured to fulfil her pious purpose, and Edition: current; Page: [332] manifested the most tender concern to secure not only religious instruction, but mild treatment, to that inoffensive race of men subjected to her crown.e Her successors adopted the same ideas; and, on many occasions, which I have mentioned, their authority was interposed, in the most vigorous exertions, to protect the people of America from the oppression of their Spanish subjects. Their regulations for this purpose were numerous, and often repeated. They were framed with wisdom, and dictated by humanity. After their possessions in the New World became so extensive, as might have excited some apprehensions of difficulty in retaining their dominion over them, the spirit of their regulations was as mild as when their settlements were confined to the islands alone. Their solicitude to protect the Indians seems rather to have augmented as their acquisitions increased: and from ardour to accomplish this, they enacted, and endeavoured to enforce the execution of laws, which excited a formidable rebellion in one of their colonies, and spread alarm and disaffection through all the rest. But the avarice of individuals was too violent to be controlled by the authority of laws. Rapacious and daring adventurers, far removed from the seat of government, little accustomed to the restraints of military discipline while in service, and still less disposed to respect the feeble jurisdiction of civil power in an infant colony, despised or eluded every regulation that set bounds to their exactions and tyranny. The parent state, with persevering attention, issued edicts to prevent the oppression of the Indians; the colonists, regardless of these, or trusting to their distance for impunity, continued to consider and treat them as slaves. The governors themselves, and other officers employed in the colonies, several of whom were as indigent and rapacious as the adventurers Edition: current; Page: [333] over whom they presided, were too apt to adopt their contemptuous ideas of the conquered people; and, instead of checking, encouraged or connived at their excesses. The desolation of the New World should not then be charged on the court of Spain, or be considered as the effect of any system of policy adopted there. It ought to be imputed wholly to the indigent and often unprincipled adventurers, whose fortune it was to be the conquerors and first planters of America, who, by measures no less inconsiderate than unjust, counteracted the edicts of their sovereign, and have brought disgrace upon their country.

nor the effect of religion.With still greater injustice have many authors represented the intolerating spirit of the Roman catholic religion, as the cause of exterminating the Americans, and have accused the Spanish ecclesiastics of animating their countrymen to the slaughter of that innocent people, as idolators and enemies of God. But the first missionaries who visited America, though weak and illiterate, were pious men. They early espoused the defence of the natives, and vindicated their character from the aspersions of their conquerors, who, describing them as incapable of being formed to the offices of civil life, or of comprehending the doctrines of religion, contended, that they were a subordinate race of men, on whom the hand of nature had set the mark of servitude. From the accounts which I have given of the humane and persevering zeal of the Spanish missionaries, in protecting the helpless flock committed to their charge, they appear in a light which reflects lustre upon their function. They were ministers of peace, who endeavoured to wrest the rod from the hands of oppressors. To their powerful interposition the Americans were indebted for every regulation tending to mitigate the rigour of their fate. The clergy in the Spanish settlements, regular as well as secular, are still considered Edition: current; Page: [334] by the Indians as their natural guardians, to whom they have recourse under the hardships and exactions to which they are too often exposed.f

The number of the Indians still remaining.But, notwithstanding the rapid depopulation of America, a very considerable number of the native race still remains both in Mexico and Peru, especially in those parts which were not exposed to the first fury of the Spanish arms, or desolated by the first efforts of their industry, still more ruinous. In Guatimala, Chiapa, Nicaragua, and the other delightful provinces of the Mexican empire, which stretch along the South sea, the race of Indians is still numerous. Their settlements in some places are so populous, as to merit the name of cities.g In the three audiences into which New Spain is divided, there are at least two millions of Indians; a pitiful remnant, indeed, of its ancient population, but such as still forms a body of people superior in number to that of all the other inhabitants of this extensive country.h In Peru several districts, particularly in the kingdom of Quito, are occupied almost entirely by Indians. In other provinces they are mingled with the Spaniards, and in many of their settlements are almost the only persons who practise the mechanic arts, and fill most of the inferior stations in society. As the inhabitants both of Mexico and Peru were accustomed to a fixed residence, and to a certain degree of regular industry, less violence was requisite in bringing them to some conformity with the European modes of civil life. But wherever the Spaniards settled among the savage tribes of America, their attempts to incorporate with them have been always fruitless, and often fatal to the natives. Impatient of restraint, and disdaining labour as a mark of servility, they either abandoned their original seats, and sought for independence in mountains and forests inaccessible to their oppressors, or perished when reduced Edition: current; Page: [335] to a state repugnant to their ancient ideas and habits. In the districts adjacent to Carthagena, to Panama, and to Buenos Ayres, the desolation is more general than even in those parts of Mexico and Peru of which the Spaniards have taken most full possession.

General ideas of the policy of Spain in its colonies.But the establishments of the Spaniards in the New World, though fatal to its ancient inhabitants, were made at a period when that monarchy was capable of forming them to best advantage. By the union of all its petty kingdoms, Spain was become a powerful state, equal to so great an undertaking. Its monarchs, having extended their prerogatives far beyond the limits which once circumscribed the regal power in every kingdom in Europe, were hardly subject to control, either in concerting or in executing their measures. In every wide-extended empire, the form of government must be simple, and the sovereign authority such, that its resolutions may be taken with promptitude, and may pervade the whole with sufficient force. Such was the power of the Spanish monarchs, when they were called to deliberate concerning the mode of establishing their dominion over the most remote provinces which had ever been subjected to any European state. In this deliberation, they felt themselves under no constitutional restraint, and that, as independent masters of their own resolves, they might issue the edicts requisite for modelling the government of the new colonies, by a mere act of prerogative.

Early interposition of the regal authority.This early interposition of the Spanish crown, in order to regulate the policy and trade of its colonies, is a peculiarity which distinguishes their progress from that of the colonies of any other European nation. When the Portuguese, the English, and French took possession of the regions in America which they now occupy, the advantages which these promised to yield were so remote and uncertain, that their colonies were Edition: current; Page: [336] suffered to struggle through a hard infancy, almost without guidance or protection from the parent state. But gold and silver, the first productions of the Spanish settlements in the New World, were more alluring, and immediately attracted the attention of their monarchs. Though they had contributed little to the discovery, and almost nothing to the conquest of the New World, they instantly assumed the function of its legislators; and having acquired a species of dominion formerly unknown, they formed a plan for exercising it, to which nothing similar occurs in the history of human affairs.

All power and property vested in the crown.The fundamental maxim of Spanish jurisprudence, with respect to America, is to consider what has been acquired there as vested in the crown, rather than in the state. By the bull of Alexander VI., on which, as its great charter, Spain founded its right, all the regions that had been, or should be discovered, were bestowed as a free gift upon Ferdinand and Isabella. They and their successors were uniformly held to be the universal proprietors of the vast territories, which the arms of their subjects conquered in the New World. From them all grants of land there flowed, and to them they finally returned. The leaders who conducted the various expeditions, the governors who presided over the different colonies, the officers of justice, and the ministers of religion, were all appointed by their authority, and removable at their pleasure. The people who composed infant settlements were entitled to no privileges independent of the sovereign, or that served as a barrier against the power of the crown. It is true, that when towns were built, and formed into bodies corporate, the citizens were permitted to elect their own magistrates, who governed them by laws which the community enacted. Even in the most despotic states, this feeble spark of liberty is not extinguished. But in Edition: current; Page: [337] the cities of Spanish America, this jurisdiction is merely municipal, and is confined to the regulation of their own interior commerce and police. In whatever relates to public government, and the general interest, the will of the sovereign is law. No political power originates from the people. All centres in the crown, and in the officers of its nomination.

All the new dominions of Spain subjected to two viceroys.When the conquests of the Spaniards in America were completed, their monarchs, in forming the plan of internal policy for their new dominions, divided them into two immense governments, one subject to the viceroy of New Spain, the other to the viceroy of Peru. The jurisdiction of the former extended over all the provinces belonging to Spain in the northern division of the American continent. Under that of the latter was comprehended whatever she possessed in South America. This arrangement, which, from the beginning, was attended with many inconveniences, became intolerable when the remote provinces of each viceroyalty began to improve in industry and population. The people complained of their subjection to a superior, whose place of residence was so distant, or so inaccessible, as almost excluded them from any intercourse with the seat of government. The authority of the viceroy over districts so far removed from his own eye and observation, was unavoidably both feeble and ill directed. As a remedy for those evils, a third viceroyalty has been established in the present century, at Santa Fé de Bogota, the capital of the New Kingdom of Granada, the jurisdiction of which extends over the whole kingdom of Tierra Firme and the province of Quito.iTheir powers. Those viceroys not only represent the person of their sovereign, but possess his regal prerogatives within the precincts of their own governments, in their utmost extent. Like him, they exercise supreme authority Edition: current; Page: [338] in every department of government, civil, military, and criminal. They have the sole right of nominating the persons who hold many offices of the highest importance, and the occasional privilege of supplying those which, when they become vacant by death, are in the royal gift, until the successor appointed by the king shall arrive. The external pomp of their government is suited to its real dignity and power. Their courts are formed upon the model of that at Madrid, with horse and foot guards, a household regularly established, numerous attendants, and ensigns of command, displaying such magnificence as hardly retains the appearance of delegated authority.k

Courts of audience.But as the viceroys cannot discharge in person the functions of a supreme magistrate in every part of their extensive jurisdiction, they are aided in their government by officers and tribunals similar to those in Spain. The conduct of civil affairs in the various provinces and districts, into which the Spanish dominions in America are divided, is committed to magistrates of various orders and denominations; some appointed by the king, others by the viceroy, but all subject to the command of the latter, and amenable to his jurisdiction. The administration of justice is vested in tribunals, known by the name of audiences, and formed upon the model of the court of chancery in Spain. These are eleven in number, and dispense justice to as many districts, into which the Spanish dominions in America are divided.l The number of judges in the court of audience is various, according to the extent and importance of their jurisdiction. The station is no less honourable than lucrative, and is commonly filled by persons of such abilities and merit as render this tribunal extremely respectable. Both civil and criminal causes come under their cognizance, and for each peculiar judges are set apart. Edition: current; Page: [339] Though it is only in the most despotic governments that the sovereign exercises in person the formidable prerogative of administering justice to his subjects,Their jurisdiction. and, in absolving or condemning, consults no law but what is deposited in his own breast; though in all the monarchies of Europe judicial authority is committed to magistrates, whose decisions are regulated by known laws and established forms; the Spanish viceroys have often attempted to intrude themselves into the seat of justice, and, with an ambition which their distance from the control of a superior rendered bold, have aspired at a power which their master does not venture to assume. In order to check an usurpation which must have annihilated justice and security in the Spanish colonies, by subjecting the lives and property of all to the will of a single man, the viceroys have been prohibited, in the most explicit terms, by repeated laws, from interfering in the judicial proceedings of the courts of audience, or from delivering an opinion, or giving a voice, with respect to any point litigated before them.m In some particular cases, in which any question of civil right is involved, even the political regulations of the viceroy may be brought under the review of the court of audience, which, in those instances, may be deemed an intermediate power, placed between him and the people, as a constitutional barrier, to circumscribe his jurisdiction. But as legal restraints on a person who represents the sovereign, and is clothed with his authority, are little suited to the genius of Spanish policy, the hesitation and reserve with which it confers this power on the courts of audience are remarkable. They may advise, they may remonstrate; but, in the event of a direct collision between their opinion and the will of the viceroy, what he determines must be carried into execution, and nothing remains for them Edition: current; Page: [340] but to lay the matter before the king and the council of the Indies.n But to be entitled to remonstrate, and inform against a person, before whom all others must be silent, and tamely submit to his decrees, is a privilege which adds dignity to the courts of audience. This is farther augmented by another circumstance. Upon the death of a viceroy, without any provision of a successor by the king, the supreme power is vested in the court of audience resident in the capital of the viceroyalty; and the senior judge, assisted by his brethren, exercises all the functions of the viceroy while the office continues vacant.o In matters which come under the cognizance of the audiences, in the course of their ordinary jurisdiction, as courts of justice, their sentences are final in every litigation concerning property of less value than six thousand pesos; but when the subject in dispute exceeds that sum, their decisions are subject to review, and may be carried by appeal before the royal council of the Indies.p

Council of the Indies.In this council, one of the most considerable in the monarchy for dignity and power, is vested the supreme government of all the Spanish dominions in America. It was first established by Ferdinand, in the year 1511, and brought into a more perfect form by Charles V.,Its power. in the year 1524. Its jurisdiction extends to every department, ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial. All laws and ordinances relative to the government and police of the colonies originate there, and must be approved of by two-thirds of the members, before they are issued in the name of the king. All the offices, of which the nomination is reserved to the crown, are conferred in this council. To it each person employed in Edition: current; Page: [341] America, from the viceroy downwards, is accountable. It reviews their conduct, rewards their services, and inflicts the punishments due to their malversations.q Before it is laid whatever intelligence, either public or secret, is received from America; and every scheme of improving the administration, the police, or the commerce of the colonies, is submitted to its consideration. From the first institution of the council of the Indies, it has been the constant object of the catholic monarchs to maintain its authority, and to make such additions, from time to time, both to its power and its splendour, as might render it formidable to all their subjects in the New World. Whatever degree of public order and virtue still remains in that country, where so many circumstances conspire to relax the former, and to corrupt the latter, may be ascribed, in a great measure, to the wise regulations and vigilant inspection of this respectable tribunal.r

Casa de la Contratacion.As the king is supposed to be always present in his council of the Indies, its meetings are held in the place where he resides. Another tribunal has been instituted, in order to regulate such commercial affairs as required the immediate and personal inspection of those appointed to superintend them. This is called casa de la contratacion, or the house of trade, and was established in Seville, the port to which commerce with the New World was confined, as early as the year 1501.Its functions. It may be considered both as a board of trade, and as a court of judicature. In the former capacity, it takes cognizance of whatever relates to the intercourse of Spain with America, it regulates what commodities should be exported thither, and has the inspection of such as are received in return. It decides concerning the departure of the Edition: current; Page: [342] fleets for the West Indies, the freight and burden of the ships, their equipment and destination. In the latter capacity, it judges with respect to every question, civil, commercial, or criminal, arising in consequence of the transactions of Spain with America; and in both these departments its decisions are exempted from the review of any court but that of the council of the Indies.s

Such is the great outline of that system of government, which Spain has established in her American colonies. To enumerate the various subordinate boards and officers employed in the administration of justice, in collecting the public revenue, and in regulating the interior police of the country; to describe their different functions, and to enquire into the mode and effect of their operations, would prove a detail no less intricate than minute and uninteresting.

Firstobject, to secure an exclusive trade.The first object of the Spanish monarchs was to secure the productions of the colonies to the parent state, by an absolute prohibition of any intercourse with foreign nations. They took possession of America by right of conquest, and, conscious not only of the feebleness of their infant settlements, but aware of the difficulty in establishing their dominion over regions so extensive, or in retaining so many reluctant nations under the yoke, they dreaded the intrusion of strangers; they even shunned their inspection, and endeavoured to keep them at a distance from their coasts. This spirit of jealousy and exclusion, which at first was natural, and, perhaps, necessary, augmented as their possessions in America extended, and the value of them came to be more fully understood. In consequence of it, a system of colonizing was introduced, to which there had hitherto been nothing similar among mankind. In the ancient world, it was not uncommon to send forth colonies. But they were Edition: current; Page: [343] of two kinds only. They were either migrations, which served to disburden a state of its superfluous subjects, when they multiplied too fast for the territory which they occupied; or they were military detachments, stationed as garrisons, in a conquered province. The colonies of some Greek republics, and the swarms of northern barbarians which settled in different parts of Europe, were of the first species. The Roman colonies were of the second. In the former, the connection with the mother-country quickly ceased, and they became independent states. In the latter, as the disjunction was not complete, the dependence continued.Regulations for that purpose. In their American settlements, the Spanish monarchs took what was peculiar to each, and studied to unite them. By sending colonies to regions so remote, by establishing in each a form of interior policy and administration, under distinct governors, and with peculiar laws, they disjoined them from the mother-country. By retaining in their own hands the rights of legislation, as well as that of imposing taxes, together with the power of nominating the persons who filled every department of executive government, civil or military, they secured their dependence upon the parent state. Happily for Spain, the situation of her colonies was such, as rendered it possible to reduce this new idea into practice. Almost all the countries which she had discovered and occupied, lay within the tropics. The productions of that large portion of the globe are different from those of Europe, even in its most southern provinces. The qualities of the climate and of the soil naturally turn the industry of such as settle there into new channels. When the Spaniards first took possession of their dominions in America, the precious metals which they yielded were the only object that attracted their attention. Even when their efforts began to take a better direction, they employed themselves almost Edition: current; Page: [344] wholly in rearing such peculiar productions of the climate, as, from their rarity or value, were of chief demand in the mother-country. Allured by vast prospects of immediate wealth, they disdained to waste their industry on what was less lucrative, but of superior moment. In order to render it impossible to correct this error, and to prevent them from making any efforts in industry which might interfere with those of the mother-country, the establishment of several species of manufactures, and even the culture of the vine, or olive, are prohibited in the Spanish coloniest, under severe penalties.u They must trust entirely to the mother-country for the objects of primary necessity. Their clothes, their furniture, their instruments of labour, their luxuries, and even a considerable part of the provisions which they consume, were imported from Spain. During a great part of the sixteenth century, Spain, possessing an extensive commerce and flourishing manufactures, could supply with ease the growing demands of her colonies, from her own stores. The produce of their mines and plantations was given in exchange for these. But all that the colonies received, as well as all that they gave, was conveyed in Spanish bottoms. No vessel belonging to the colonies was ever permitted to carry the commodities of America to Europe. Even the commercial intercourse of one colony with another was either absolutely prohibited, or limited by many jealous restrictions. All that America yields flows into the ports of Spain; all that it consumes must issue from them. No foreigner can enter its colonies without express permission; no vessel of any foreign nation is received into their harbours; and the pains of death, with confiscation of moveables, are denounced against every inhabitant who presumes to trade with Edition: current; Page: [345] them.x Thus the colonies are kept in a state of perpetual pupillage; and, by the introduction of this commercial dependence, a refinement in policy of which Spain set the first example to European nations, the supremacy of the parent state hath been maintained over remote colonies during two centuries and a half.

Slow progress of population from Europe.Such are the capital maxims to which the Spanish monarchs seem to have attended in forming their new settlements in America. But they could not plant with the same rapidity that they had destroyed; and from many concurring causes, their progress has been extremely slow, in filling up the immense void which their devastations had occasioned. As soon as the rage for discovery and adventure began to abate, the Spaniards opened their eyes to dangers and distresses, which at first they did not perceive, or had despised. The numerous hardships with which the members of infant colonies have to struggle; the diseases of unwholesome climates, fatal to the constitution of Europeans; the difficulty of bringing a country, covered with forests, into culture; the want of hands necessary for labour in some provinces, and the slow reward of industry in all, unless where the accidental discovery of mines enriched a few fortunate adventurers, were evils universally felt and magnified. Discouraged by the view of these, the spirit of migration was so much damped, that sixty years after the discovery of the New World, the number of Spaniards in all its provinces is computed not to have exceeded fifteen thousand.y

Discouraged by the state of property,The mode in which property was distributed in the Spanish colonies, and the regulations established with respect to the transmission of it, whether by descent or by sale, were extremely unfavourable to population. In order to promote a rapid increase of Edition: current; Page: [346] people in any new settlement, property in land ought to be divided into small shares, and the alienation of it should be rendered extremely easy.z But the rapaciousness of the Spanish conquerors of the New World paid no regard to this fundamental maxim of policy; and, as they possessed power, which enabled them to gratify the utmost extravagance of their wishes, many seized districts of great extent, and held them as encomiendas. By degrees they obtained the privilege of converting a part of these into mayorasgos, a species of fief, introduced into the Spanish system of feudal jurisprudencea, which can neither be divided nor alienated. Thus a great portion of landed property, under this rigid form of entail, is withheld from circulation, and descends from father to son unimproved, and of little value either to the proprietor or to the community. In the account which I have given of the reduction of Peru, various examples occur of enormous tracts of country occupied by some of the conquerors.b The excesses in other provinces were similar; for as the value of the lands which the Spaniards acquired was originally estimated according to the number of Indians which lived upon them, America was in general so thinly peopled, that only districts of great extent could afford such a number of labourers as might be employed in the mines with any prospect of considerable gain. The pernicious effects of those radical errors in the distribution and nature of property in the Spanish settlements, are felt through every department of industry, and may be considered as one great cause of a progress in population so much slower than that which has taken place in better constituted colonies.c

and the nature of their ecclesiastical policy.To this we may add, that the support of the enormous and expensive fabric of their ecclesiastical establishment, Edition: current; Page: [347] has been a burden on the Spanish colonies, which has greatly retarded the progress of population and industry. The payment of tithes is a heavy tax on industry; and if the exaction of them be not regulated and circumscribed by the wisdom of the civil magistrate, it becomes intolerable and ruinous. But, instead of any restraint on the claims of ecclesiastics, the inconsiderate zeal of the Spanish legislators admitted them into America in their full extent, and at once imposed on their infant colonies a burden which is in no slight degree oppressive to society, even in its most improved state. As early as the year 1501, the payment of tithes in the colonies was enjoined, and the mode of it regulated by law. Every article of primary necessity, towards which the attention of new settlers must naturally be turned, is subjected to that grievous exaction.d Nor were the demands of the clergy confined to articles of simple and easy culture. Its more artificial and operose productions, such as sugar, indigo, and cochineal, were soon declared to be titheablee; and thus the industry of the planter was taxed in every stage of its progress, from its rudest essay to its highest improvement. To the weight of this legal imposition, the bigotry of the American Spaniards has made many voluntary additions. From their fond delight in the external pomp and parade of religion, and from superstitious reverence for ecclesiastics of every denomination, they have bestowed profuse donatives on churches and monasteries, and have unprofitably wasted a large proportion of that wealth, which might have nourished and given vigour to productive labour in growing colonies.

Various orders of people in the colonies.But so fertile and inviting are the regions of America, which the Spaniards have occupied, that, notwithstanding all the circumstances which have checked Edition: current; Page: [348] and retarded population, it has gradually increased, and filled the colonies of Spain with citizens of various orders. Among these, the Spaniards who arrive from Europe,Chapetones the first. distinguished by the name of chapetones, are the first in rank and power. From the jealous attention of the Spanish court to secure the dependence of the colonies on the parent state, all departments of consequence are filled by persons sent from Europe; and, in order to prevent any of dubious fidelity from being employed, each must bring proof of a clear descent from a family of old Christians, untainted with any mixture of Jewish or Mahomedan blood, and never disgraced by any censure of the inquisition.f In such pure hands, power is deemed to be safely lodged, and almost every public function, from the viceroyalty downwards, is committed to them alone. Every person who by his birth, or residence in America, may be suspected of any attachment or interest adverse to the mother-country, is the object of distrust to such a degree, as amounts nearly to an exclusion from all offices of confidence or authority.g By this conspicuous predilection of the court, the chapetones are raised to such pre-eminence in America, that they look down with disdain on every other order of men.

Creoles the second.The character and state of the creoles, or descendants of Europeans settled in America, the second class of subjects in the Spanish colonies, have enabled the chapetones to acquire other advantages, hardly less considerable than those which they derive from the partial favour of government. Though some of the creolian race are descended from the conquerors of the New World; though others can trace up their pedigree to the noblest families in Spain; though many are possessed of ample fortunes; yet, by the enervating influence of a sultry climate, by the rigour Edition: current; Page: [349] of a jealous government, and by their despair of attaining that distinction to which mankind naturally aspire, the vigour of their minds is so entirely broken, that a great part of them waste life in luxurious indulgencies, mingled with an illiberal superstition still more debasing. Languid and unenterprising, the operations of an active extended commerce would be to them so cumbersome and oppressive, that in almost every part of America, they decline engaging in it. The interior traffic of every colony, as well as any trade which is permitted with the neighbouring provinces, and with Spain itself, is carried on chiefly by the chapetonesh; who, as the recompense of their industry, amass immense wealth, while the creoles, sunk in sloth, are satisfied with the revenues of their paternal estates.

Rivalship between these.From this stated competition for power and wealth between those two orders of citizens, and the various passions excited by a rivalship so interesting, their hatred is violent and implacable. On every occasion, symptoms of this aversion break out, and the common appellations which each bestows on the other are as contemptuous as those which flow from the most deep-rooted national antipathy.i The court of Spain, from a refinement of distrustful policy, cherishes those seeds of discord, and foments this mutual jealousy, which not only prevents the two most powerful classes of its subjects in the New World from combining against the parent state, but prompts each, with the most vigilant zeal, to observe the motions and to counteract the schemes of the other.

A mixed race forms the third order of citizens.The third class of inhabitants in the Spanish colonies is a mixed race, the offspring either of an European and a negro, or of an European and Indian, the former called mulattoes, the latter mestizos. As Edition: current; Page: [350] the court of Spain, solicitous to incorporate its new vassals with its ancient subjects, early encouraged the Spaniards settled in America to marry the natives of that country, several alliances of this kind were formed in their infant colonies.k But it has been more owing to licentious indulgence than to compliance with this injunction of their sovereigns, that this mixed breed has multiplied so greatly as to constitute a considerable part of the population in all the Spanish settlements. The several stages of descent in this race, and the gradual variations of shade until the African black, or the copper colour of America, brighten into an European complexion, are accurately marked by the Spaniards, and each distinguished by a peculiar name. Those of the first and second generations are considered and treated as mere Indians and negroes; but in the third descent, the characteristic hue of the former disappears; and in the fifth, the deeper tint of the latter is so entirely effaced, that they can no longer be distinguished from Europeans, and become entitled to all their privileges.l It is chiefly by this mixed race, whose frame is remarkably robust and hardy, that the mechanic arts are carried on in the Spanish settlements, and other active functions in society are discharged, which the two higher classes of citizens, from pride or from indolence, disdain to exercise.m

Negroes form the fourth order.The negroes hold the fourth rank among the inhabitants of the Spanish colonies. The introduction of that unhappy part of the human species into America, together with their services and sufferings there, shall be fully explained in another place; here they are mentioned chiefly in order to point out a peculiarity in their situation under the Spanish dominion. In several of their settlements, particularly in New Edition: current; Page: [351] Spain, negroes are mostly employed in domestic service. They form a principal part in the train of luxury, and are cherished and caressed by their superiors, to whose vanity and pleasures they are equally subservient. Their dress and appearance are hardly less splendid than that of their masters, whose manners they imitate, and whose passions they imbibe.n Elevated by this distinction, they have assumed such a tone of superiority over the Indians, and treat them with such insolence and scorn, that the antipathy between the two races has become implacable. Even in Peru, where negroes seem to be more numerous, and are employed in field-work as well as domestic service, they maintain their ascendant over the Indians, and the mutual hatred of one to the other subsists with equal violence. The laws have industriously fomented this aversion, to which accident gave rise, and, by most rigorous injunctions, have endeavoured to prevent every intercourse that might form a bond of union between the two races. Thus, by an artful policy, the Spaniards derive strength from that circumstance in population which is the weakness of other European colonies, and have secured, as associates and defenders, those very persons who elsewhere are objects of jealousy and terror.o

The Indians form the last order of citizens.The Indians form the last and the most depressed order of men in the country which belonged to their ancestors. I have already traced the progress of the Spanish ideas with respect to the condition and treatment of that people; and have mentioned the most important of their more early regulations, concerning a matter of so much consequence in the administration of their new dominions. But since the period to which I have brought down the history of America, Edition: current; Page: [352] the information and experience acquired during two centuries have enabled the court of Spain to make such improvements in this part of its American system, that a short view of the present condition of the Indians may prove both curious and interesting.

Their present condition.By the famous regulations of Charles V., in 1542, which have been so often mentioned, the high pretensions of the conquerors of the New World, who considered its inhabitants as slaves to whose service they had acquired a full right of property, were finally abrogated. From that period, the Indians have been reputed freemen, and entitled to the privileges of subjects. When admitted into this rank, it was deemed just that they should contribute towards the support and improvement of the society which had adopted them as members. But as no considerable benefit could be expected from the voluntary efforts of men unacquainted with regular industry, and averse to labour, the court of Spain found it necessary to fix and secure, by proper regulations, what it thought reasonable to exact from them.Tax imposed on them. With this view, an annual tax was imposed upon every male, from the age of eighteen to fifty; and, at the same time, the nature as well as the extent of the services which they might be required to perform, was ascertained with precision. This tribute varies in different provinces; but if we take that paid in New Spain as a medium, its annual amount is nearly four shillings a head; no exorbitant sum in countries where, as at the source of wealth, the value of money is extremely low.p The right of levying this tribute likewise varies. In America, every Indian is either an immediate vassal of the crown, or depends upon some subject to whom the district in which he resides has been granted for a limited time, under the denomination of an encomienda. Edition: current; Page: [353] In the former case, about three-fourths of the tax is paid into the royal treasury; in the latter, the same proportion of it belongs to the holder of the grant. When Spain first took possession of America, the greater part of it was parcelled out among its conquerors, or those who first settled there, and but a small portion reserved for the crown. As those grants, which were made for two lives onlyq, reverted successively to the sovereign, he had it in his power either to diffuse his favours by grants to new proprietors, or to augment his own revenue by valuable annexations.r Of these, the latter has been frequently chosen; the number of Indians now depending immediately on the crown is much greater than in the first stage after the conquest, and this branch of the royal revenue continues to extend.

The services demanded.The benefit arising from the services of the Indians, accrues either to the crown, or to the holder, of the encomienda, according to the same rule observed in the payment of tribute. Those services, however, which can now be legally exacted, are very different from the tasks originally imposed upon the Indians. The nature of the work which they must perform is defined, and an equitable recompense is granted for their labour. The stated services demanded of the Indians may be divided into two branches. They are either employed in works of primary necessity, without which society cannot subsist comfortably, or are compelled to labour in the mines, from which the Spanish colonies derive their chief value and importance. In consequence of the former, they are obliged to assist in the culture of maize, and other grain of necessary consumption; in tending cattle; in erecting edifices of public utility; in building bridges; and in forming Edition: current; Page: [354] high roadss; but they cannot be constrained to labour in raising vines, olives, and sugar-canes, or any species of cultivation, which has for its object the gratification of luxury, or commercial profit.t In consequence of the latter, the Indians are compelled to undertake the more unpleasant task of extracting ore from the bowels of the earth, and of refining it by successive processes, no less unwholesome than operose.u

The mode of exacting these.The mode of exacting both these services is the same, and is under regulations framed with a view of rendering it as little oppressive as possible to the Indians. They are called out successively in divisions, termed mitas, and no person can be compelled to go but in his turn. In Peru, the number called out must not exceed the seventh part of the inhabitants in any district.x In New Spain, where the Indians are more numerous, it is fixed at four in the hundred.y During what time the labour of such Indians as are employed in agriculture continues, I have not been able to learn.z But in Peru, each mita, or division, destined for the mines, remains there six months; and while engaged in this service, a labourer never receives less than two shillings a day, and often earns more than double that sum.a No Indian, residing at a greater distance than thirty miles from a mine, is included in the mita, or division employed in working itb; nor are the inhabitants of the low country exposed now to certain destruction, as they were at first, when under the dominion of the conquerors, by compelling them to remove from that Edition: current; Page: [355] warm climate to the cold elevated regions where minerals abound.c

How governed.The Indians who live in the principal towns are entirely subject to the Spanish laws and magistrates; but in their own villages they are governed by caziques, some of whom are the descendants of their ancient lords, others are named by the Spanish viceroys. These regulate the petty affairs of the people under them, according to maxims of justice transmitted to them by tradition from their ancestors. To the Indians this jurisdiction, lodged in such friendly hands, affords some consolation; and so little formidable is this dignity to their new masters, that they often allow it to descend by hereditary right.d For the further relief of men so much exposed to oppression, the Spanish court has appointed an officer in every district, with the title of Protector of the Indians. It is his function, as the name implies, to assert the rights of the Indians; to appear as their defender in the courts of justice; and, by the interposition of his authority, to set bounds to the encroachments and exactions of his countrymen.e A certain portion of the reserved fourth of the annual tribute is destined for the salary of the caziques and protectors; another is applied to the maintenance of the clergy employed in the instruction of the Indians.f Another part seems to be appropriated for the benefit of the Indians themselves, and is applied for the payment of their tribute in years of famine, or when a particular district is affected by any extraordinary local calamity.g Besides this, provision is made by various laws, that hospitals shall be founded in every new settlement for the reception of Indians.h Such hospitals have Edition: current; Page: [356] accordingly been erected, both for the indigent and infirm, in Lima, in Cuzco, and in Mexico, where the Indians are treated with tenderness and humanity.i

Such are the leading principles in the jurisprudence and policy by which the Indians are now governed in the provinces belonging to Spain. In those regulations of the Spanish monarchs, we discover no traces of that cruel system of extermination, which they have been charged with adopting; and if we admit that the necessity of securing subsistence for their colonies, or the advantages derived from working the mines, give them a right to avail themselves of the labour of the Indians, we must allow, that the attention with which they regulate and recompense that labour, is provident and sagacious. In no code of laws is greater solicitude displayed, or precautions multiplied with more prudent concern for the preservation, the security, and the happiness of the subject, than we discover in the collection of the Spanish laws for the Indies. But those later regulations, like the more early edicts which have been already mentioned, have too often proved ineffectual remedies against the evils which they were intended to prevent. In every age, if the same causes continue to operate, the same effects must follow. From the immense distance between the power intrusted with the execution of laws, and that by whose authority they are enacted, the vigour even of the most absolute government must relax, and the dread of a superior, too remote to observe with accuracy, or to punish with dispatch, must insensibly abate. Notwithstanding the numerous injunctions of the Spanish monarch, the Indians still suffer on many occasions, both from the avarice of individuals, and from the exactions of the magistrates, who ought to have protected them; unreasonable tasks are imposed; the term of their labour is prolonged beyond the period Edition: current; Page: [357] fixed by law, and they groan under many of the insults and wrongs which are the lot of a dependent people.k From some information on which I can depend, such oppression abounds more in Peru than in any other colony. But it is not general. According to the accounts, even of those authors who are most disposed to exaggerate the sufferings of the Indians, they, in several provinces, enjoy not only ease, but affluence; they possess large farms; they are masters of numerous herds and flocks; and, by the knowledge which they have acquired of European arts and industry, are supplied not only with the necessaries, but with many luxuries of life.l

Ecclesiastical constitution of the colonies.After explaining the form of civil government in the Spanish colonies, and the state of the various orders of persons subject to it, the peculiarities in their ecclesiastical constitution merit consideration. Notwithstanding the superstitious veneration with which the Spaniards are devoted to the holy see, the vigilant and jealous policy of Ferdinand early prompted him to take precautions against the introduction of the papal dominion in America.Restraints on the papal jurisdiction. With this view, he solicited Alexander VI. for a grant to the crown of the tithes in all the newly-discovered countriesm, which he obtained on condition of his making provision for the religious instruction of the natives. Soon after, Julius II. conferred on him, and his successors, the right of patronage, and the absolute disposal of all ecclesiastical benefices there.n Both these pontiffs, unacquainted with the value of what he demanded, bestowed those donations with an inconsiderate liberality, which their successors have often lamented, and wished to recall. In consequence of those grants, the Spanish monarchs have become in effect the heads of Edition: current; Page: [358] the American church. In them the administration of its revenues is vested. Their nomination of persons to supply vacant benefices is instantly confirmed by the pope. Thus, in all Spanish America, authority of every species centres in the crown. There no collision is known between spiritual and temporal jurisdiction. The king is the only superior, his name alone is heard of, and no dependence upon any foreign power has been introduced. Papal bulls cannot be admitted into America, nor are they of any force there, until they have been previously examined, and approved of by the royal council of the Indieso; and if any bull should be surreptitiously introduced, and circulated in America without obtaining that approbation, ecclesiastics are required not only to prevent it from taking effect, but to seize all the copies of it, and transmit them to the council of the Indies.p To this limitation of the papal jurisdiction, equally singular, whether we consider the age and nation in which it was devised, or the jealous attention with which Ferdinand and his successors have studied to maintain it in full forceq, Spain is indebted, in a great measure, for the uniform tranquillity which has reigned in her American dominions.

Form and endowments of the church in the Spanish colonies.The hierarchy is established in America in the same form as in Spain, with its full train of archbishops, bishops, deans, and other dignitaries. The inferior clergy are divided into three classes, under the denomination of curas, doctrineros, and missioneros. The first are parish priests in those parts of the country where the Spaniards have settled. The second have the charge of such districts as are inhabited by Indians subjected to the Spanish government, and living under its protection. The third are employed in Edition: current; Page: [359] instructing and converting those fiercer tribes, which disdain submission to the Spanish yoke, and live in remote or inaccessible regions, to which the Spanish arms have not penetrated. So numerous are the ecclesiastics of all those various orders, and such the profuse liberality with which many of them are endowed, that the revenues of the church in America are immense. The Romish superstition appears with its utmost pomp in the New World. Churches and convents there are magnificent; and richly adorned; and on high festivals, the display of gold and silver, and precious stones, is such as exceeds the conception of an European.r An ecclesiastical establishment so splendid and extensive, is unfavourable, as has been formerly observed, to the progress of rising colonies; but in countries where riches abound, and the people are so delighted with parade, that religion must assume it, in order to attract their veneration, this propensity to ostentation has been indulged, and becomes less pernicious.

Pernicious effects of monastic institutions.The early institution of monasteries in the Spanish colonies, and the inconsiderate zeal in multiplying them, have been attended with consequences more fatal. In every new settlement, the first object should be to encourage population, and to incite every citizen to contribute towards augmenting the number and strength of the community. During the youth and vigour of society, while there is room to spread, and sustenance is procured with facility, mankind increase with amazing rapidity. But the Spaniards had hardly taken possession of America, when, with a most preposterous policy, they began to erect convents, where persons of both sexes were shut up, under a vow to defeat the purpose of nature, and to counteract the first of her laws. Influenced by a misguided piety, which ascribes transcendant merit to a state of celibacy, Edition: current; Page: [360] or allured by the prospect of that listless ease, which, in sultry climates, is deemed supreme felicity, numbers crowd into those mansions of sloth and superstition, and are lost to society. As none but persons of Spanish extract are admitted into the monasteries of the New World, the evil is more sensibly felt, and every monk or nun may be considered as an active person withdrawn from civil life. The impropriety of such foundations in any situation where the extent of territory requires additional hands to improve it, is so obvious, that some catholic states have expressly prohibited any person in their colonies from taking the monastic vows.s Even the Spanish monarchs, on some occasions, seem to have been alarmed with the spreading of a spirit so adverse to the increase and prosperity of their colonies, that they have endeavoured to check it.t But the Spaniards in America, more thoroughly under the influence of superstition than their countrymen in Europe, and directed by ecclesiastics more bigoted and illiterate, have conceived such a high opinion of monastic sanctity, that no regulations can restrain their zeal; and, by the excess of their ill-judged bounty, religious houses have multiplied to a degree no less amazing than pernicious to society.u

Character of ecclesiastics in Spanish America;In viewing the state of colonies, where not only the number but influence of ecclesiastics is so great, the character of this powerful body is an object that merits particular attention. A considerable part of the secular clergy in Mexico and Peru are natives of Spain. As persons long accustomed, by their education, to the retirement and indolence of academic life, are more incapable of active enterprise, and less disposed to strike into new paths, than any order of men, Edition: current; Page: [361] the ecclesiastical adventurers by whom the American church is recruited, are commonly such, as, from merit or rank in life, have little prospect of success in their own country.of the seculars; Accordingly, the secular priests in the New World are still less distinguished than their brethren in Spain for literary accomplishments of any species; and though, by the ample provision which has been made for the American church, many of its members enjoy the ease and independence which are favourable to the cultivation of science, the body of secular clergy has hardly, during two centuries and a half, produced one author whose works convey such useful information, or possess such a degree of merit, as to be ranked among those which attract the attention of enlightened nations.of the regulars. But the greatest part of the ecclesiastics in the Spanish settlements are regulars. On the discovery of America, a new field opened to the pious zeal of the monastic orders; and, with a becoming alacrity, they immediately sent forth missionaries to labour in it. The first attempt to instruct and convert the Americans was made by monks; and, as soon as the conquest of any province was completed, and its ecclesiastical establishment began to assume some form, the popes permitted the missionaries of the four mendicant orders, as a reward for their services, to accept of parochial charges in America, to perform all spiritual functions, and to receive the tithes, and other emoluments of the benefice, without depending on the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese, or being subject to his censures. In consequence of this, a new career of usefulness, as well as new objects of ambition, presented themselves. Whenever a call is made for a fresh supply of missionaries, men of the most ardent and aspiring minds, impatient under the restraint of a cloister, weary of its insipid uniformity, and fatigued with the irksome repetition of its frivolous functions, offer their service with eagerness, Edition: current; Page: [362] and repair to the New World in quest of liberty and distinction. Nor do they pursue distinction without success. The highest ecclesiastical honours, as well as the most lucrative preferments in Mexico and Peru, are often in the hands of regulars; and it is chiefly to the monastic orders that the Americans are indebted for any portion of science which is cultivated among them. They are almost the only Spanish ecclesiastics, from whom we have received any accounts, either of the civil or natural history of the various provinces in America. Some of them, though deeply tinged with the indelible superstition of their profession, have published books which give a favourable idea of their abilities. The natural and moral history of the New World, by the Jesuit Acosta, contains more accurate observations, perhaps, and more sound science, than are to be found in any description of remote countries published in the sixteenth century.

Dissolute manners of some of them.But the same disgust with monastic life, to which America is indebted for some instructors of worth and abilities, filled it with others of a very different character. The giddy, the profligate, the avaricious, to whom the poverty and rigid discipline of a convent are intolerable, consider a mission to America as a release from mortification and bondage. There they soon obtain some parochial charge; and far removed, by their situation, from the inspection of their monastic superiors, and exempt, by their character, from the jurisdiction of their diocesanx, they are hardly subjected to any control. According to the testimony of the most zealous catholics, many of the regular clergy in the Spanish settlements are not only destitute of the virtues becoming their profession, but regardless of that external decorum and respect for the opinion of mankind, which preserve a semblance of Edition: current; Page: [363] worth where the reality is wanting. Secure of impunity, some regulars, in contempt of their vow of poverty, engage openly in commerce, and are so rapaciously eager in amassing wealth, that they become the most grievous oppressors of the Indians, whom it was their duty to have protected. Others, with no less flagrant violation of their vow of chastity, indulge with little disguise in the most dissolute licentiousness.y

Various schemes have been proposed for redressing enormities so manifest and so offensive. Several persons, no less eminent for piety than discernment, have contended, that the regulars, in conformity to the canons of the church, ought to be confined within the walls of their cloisters, and should no longer be permitted to encroach on the functions of the secular clergy. Some public-spirited magistrates, from conviction of its being necessary to deprive the regulars of a privilege bestowed at first with good intention, but of which time and experience had discovered the pernicious effects, openly countenanced the secular clergy in their attempts to assert their own rights. The Prince d’Esquilache,1618. Viceroy of Peru under Philip III., took measures so decisive and effectual for circumscribing the regulars within their proper sphere, as struck them with general consternation.z They had recourse to their usual arts. They alarmed the superstitious, by representing the proceedings of the viceroy as innovations fatal to religion. They employed all the refinements of intrigue, in order to gain persons in power; and, seconded by the powerful influence of the Jesuits, who claimed and enjoyed all the privileges which belonged to the mendicant orders in America, they made a deep impression on a bigoted prince, and a weak ministry. The ancient practice was tolerated. The abuses which it occasioned Edition: current; Page: [364] continued to increase, and the corruption of monks, exempt from the restraints of discipline, and the inspection of any superior, became a disgrace to religion. At last, as the veneration of the Spaniards for the monastic orders began to abate, and the power of the Jesuits was on the decline,June 23. Ferdinand VI. ventured to apply the only effectual remedy,1757. by issuing an edict, prohibiting regulars of every denomination from taking the charge of any parish with the cure of souls; and declaring, that on the demise of the present incumbents, none but secular priests, subject to the jurisdiction of their diocesans, shall be presented to vacant benefices.a If this regulation is carried into execution with steadiness in any degree proportional to the wisdom with which it is framed, a very considerable reformation may take place in the ecclesiastical state of Spanish America, and the secular clergy may gradually become a respectable body of men. The deportment of many ecclesiastics, even at present, seems to be decent and exemplary, otherwise we can hardly suppose that they would be held in such high estimation, and possess such a wonderful ascendant over the minds of their countrymen throughout all the Spanish settlements.

Small progress in converting the Indians to Christianity.But whatever merit the Spanish ecclesiastics in America may possess, the success of their endeavours in communicating the knowledge of true religion to the Indians, has been more imperfect than might have been expected, either from the degree of their zeal, or from the dominion which they had acquired over that people. For this, various reasons may be assigned. The first missionaries, in their ardour to make proselytes, admitted the people of America into the Christian church, without previous instruction in the doctrines of religion, and even before they themselves had acquired such knowledge of the Indian Edition: current; Page: [365] language, as to be able to explain to the natives the mysteries of faith, or the precepts of duty. Resting upon a subtile distinction in scholastic theology, between that degree of assent which is founded on a complete knowledge and conviction of duty, and that which may be yielded when both these are imperfect, they adopted this strange practice, no less inconsistent with the spirit of a religion which addresses itself to the understanding of men, than repugnant to the dictates of reason. As soon as any body of people, overawed by dread of the Spanish power, moved by the example of their own chiefs, incited by levity, or yielding from mere ignorance, expressed the slightest desire of embracing the religion of their conquerors, they were instantly baptized. While this rage of conversion continued, a single clergyman baptized in one day above five thousand Mexicans, and did not desist until he was so exhausted by fatigue, that he was unable to lift his hands.b In the course of a few years, after the reduction of the Mexican empire, the sacrament of baptism was administered to more than four millions.c Proselytes adopted with such inconsiderate haste, and who were neither instructed in the nature of the tenets to which it was supposed they had given assent, nor taught the absurdity of those which they were required to relinquish, retained their veneration for their ancient superstitions in full force, or mingled an attachment to its doctrines and rites with that slender knowledge of Christianity which they had acquired. These sentiments the new converts transmitted to their posterity, into whose minds they have sunk so deep, that the Spanish ecclesiastics, with all their industry, have not been able to eradicate them. The religious institutions of their ancestors are still remembered and Edition: current; Page: [366] held in honour by many of the Indians, both in Mexico and Peru; and whenever they think themselves out of reach of inspection by the Spaniards, they assemble and celebrate their idolatrous rites.d

But this is not the most unsurmountable obstacle to the progress of Christianity among the Indians. The powers of their uncultivated understandings are so limited, their observations and reflections reach so little beyond the mere objects of sense, that they seem hardly to have the capacity of forming abstract ideas, and possess not language to express them. To such men the sublime and spiritual doctrines of Christianity must be, in a great measure, incomprehensible. The numerous and splendid ceremonies of the popish worship catch the eye, please, and interest them; but when their instructors attempt to explain the articles of faith, with which those external observances are connected, though the Indians may listen with patience, they so little conceive the meaning of what they hear, that their acquiescence does not merit the name of belief. Their indifference is still greater than their incapacity. Attentive only to the present moment, and engrossed by the objects before them, the Indians so seldom reflect upon what is past, or take thought for what is to come, that neither the promises nor threats of religion make much impression upon them; and while their foresight rarely extends so far as the next day, it is almost impossible to inspire them with solicitude about the concerns of a future world. Astonished equally at their slowness of comprehension, and at their insensibility, some of the early missionaries pronounced them a race of men so brutish, as to be incapable of understanding the first principles of religion. A council held at Lima decreed, that, on account of this Edition: current; Page: [367] incapacity, they ought to be excluded from the sacrament of the eucharist.e Though Paul III., by his famous bull, issued in the year 1537, declared them to be rational creatures, entitled to all the privileges of Christiansf, yet, after the lapse of two centuries, during which they have been members of the church, so imperfect are their attainments in knowledge, that very few possess such a portion of spiritual discernment, as to be deemed worthy of being admitted to the holy communion.g From this idea of their incapacity and imperfect knowledge of religion, when the zeal of Philip II. established the inquisition in America, in the year 1570, the Indians were exempted from the jurisdiction of that severe tribunalh, and still continue under the inspection of their diocesans. Even after the most perfect instruction, their faith is held to be feeble and dubious; and though some of them have been taught the learned languages, and have gone through the ordinary course of academic education with applause, their frailty is still so much suspected, that few Indians are either ordained priests, or received into any religious order.i

Productions of the Spanish colonies:From this brief survey, some idea may be formed of the interior state of the Spanish colonies. The various productions with which they supply and enrich the mother-country, and the system of commercial intercourse between them, come next in order to be explained. If the dominions of Spain in the New World had been of such moderate extent as bore a due proportion to the parent state, the progress of her colonizing might have been attended with the same benefit as that of other nations. But when, in less than half a century, her inconsiderate rapacity had seized on countries larger than all Europe, her Edition: current; Page: [368] inability to fill such vast regions with a number of inhabitants sufficient for the cultivation of them was so obvious, as to give a wrong direction to all the efforts of the colonists. They did not form compact settlements, where industry, circumscribed within proper limits, both in its views and operations, is conducted with that sober persevering spirit, which gradually converts whatever is in its possession to a proper use, and derives thence the greatest advantage. Instead of this, the Spaniards, seduced by the boundless prospect which opened to them, divided their possessions in America into governments of great extent. As their number was too small to attempt the regular culture of the immense provinces which they occupied rather than peopled, they bent their attention to a few objects, that allured them with hopes of sudden and exorbitant gain, and turned away with contempt from the humbler paths of industry, which lead more slowly, but with greater certainty, to wealth and increase of national strength.

from their mines.Of all the methods by which riches may be acquired, that of searching for the precious metals is one of the most inviting to men who are either unaccustomed to the regular assiduity with which the culture of the earth and the operations of commerce must be carried on, or who are so enterprising and rapacious as not to be satisfied with the gradual returns of profit which they yield. Accordingly, as soon as the several countries in America were subjected to the dominion of Spain, this was almost the only method of acquiring wealth which occurred to the adventurers by whom they were conquered. Such provinces of the continent as did not allure them to settle, by the prospect of their affording gold and silver, were totally neglected. Those in which they met with a disappointment of the sanguine expectations they had formed, were abandoned. Even the value of the Edition: current; Page: [369] islands, the first fruits of their discoveries, and the first object of their attention, sunk so much in their estimation, when the mines which had been opened in them were exhausted, that they were deserted by many of the planters, and left to be occupied by more industrious possessors. All crowded to Mexico and Peru, where the quantities of gold and silver found among the natives, who searched for them with little industry and less skill, promised an unexhausted store, as the recompense of more intelligent and persevering efforts.

Discovery of those of Potosi and Sacotecas.During several years, the ardour of their researches was kept up by hope, rather than success. At length, the rich silver mines of Potosi, in Peru, were accidentally discovered in the year 1545k, by an Indian, as he was clambering up the mountain, in pursuit of a llama which had strayed from his flock. Soon after, the mines of Sacotecas, in New Spain, little inferior to the other in value, were opened. From that time successive discoveries have been made in both colonies, and silver mines are now so numerous, that the working of them, and of some few mines of gold in the provinces of Tierra Firme, and the New Kingdom of Granada, has become the capital occupation of the Spaniards, and is reduced into a system no less complicated than interesting. To describe the nature of the various ores, the mode of extracting them from the bowels of the earth, and to explain the several processes by which the metals are separated from the substances with which they are mingled, either by the action of fire, or the attractive powers of mercury, is the province of the natural philosopher or chymist, rather than of the historian.

Riches which they yield.The exuberant profusion with which the mountains of the New World poured forth their treasures astonished mankind, who had been accustomed hitherto Edition: current; Page: [370] to receive a penurious supply of the precious metals from the more scanty stores contained in the mines of the ancient hemisphere. According to principles of computation, which appear to be extremely moderate, the quantity of gold and silver that has been regularly entered in the ports of Spain, is equal in value to four millions sterling annually, reckoning from the year 1492, in which America was discovered, to the present time. This, in two hundred and eighty-three years, amounts to eleven hundred and thirty-two millions. Immense as this sum is, the Spanish writers contend, that as much more ought to be added to it, in consideration of treasure which has been extracted from the mines, and imported fraudulently into Spain, without paying duty to the king. By this account, Spain has drawn from the New World a supply of wealth amounting, at least, to two thousand millions of pounds sterling.l

Spirit to which this gives rise.The mines, which have yielded this amazing quantity of treasure, are not worked at the expence of the crown or of the public. In order to encourage private adventurers, the person who discovers and works a new vein, is entitled to the property of it. Upon laying his claim to such a discovery before the governor of the province, a certain extent of land is measured off, and a certain number of Indians allotted him, under the obligation of his opening the mine within a limited time, and of his paying the customary duty to the king, for what it shall produce. Invited by the facility with which such grants are obtained, and encouraged by some striking examples of success in this line of adventure, not only the sanguine and the bold, but the timid and diffident, enter upon it with astonishing ardour. With vast objects always in view, fed continually with hope, and Edition: current; Page: [371] expecting every moment that fortune will unveil her secret stores, and give up the wealth which they contain to their wishes, they deem every other occupation insipid and uninteresting. The charms of this pursuit, like the rage for deep play, are so bewitching, and take such full possession of the mind, as even to give a new bent to the natural temper. Under its influence the cautious become enterprising, and the covetous profuse. Powerful as this charm naturally is, its force is augmented by the arts of an order of men known in Peru by the cant name of searchers. These are commonly persons of desperate fortune, who, availing themselves of some skill in mineralogy, accompanied with the insinuating manner and confident pretensions peculiar to projectors, address the wealthy and the credulous. By plausible descriptions of the appearances which they have discovered of rich veins hitherto unexplored; by producing, when requisite, specimens of promising ore; by affirming, with an imposing assurance, that success is certain, and that the expence must be trifling, they seldom fail to persuade. An association is formed; a small sum is advanced by each copartner; the mine is opened; the searcher is intrusted with the sole direction of every operation; unforeseen difficulties occur; new demands of money are made; but, amidst a succession of disappointments and delays, hope is never extinguished, and the ardour of expectation hardly abates. For it is observed, that if any person once enter this seducing path, it is almost impossible to return; his ideas alter, he seems to be possessed with another spirit; visions of imaginary wealth are continually before his eyes, and he thinks, and speaks, and dreams of nothing else.m

Fatal effects of it.Such is the spirit that must be formed, wherever the active exertions of any society are chiefly employed Edition: current; Page: [372] in working mines of gold and silver. No spirit is more adverse to such improvements in agriculture and commerce, as render a nation really opulent. If the system of administration in the Spanish colonies had been founded upon principles of sound policy, the power and ingenuity of the legislator would have been exerted with as much ardour, in restraining its subjects from such pernicious industry, as is now employed in alluring them towards it. “Projects of mining,” says a good judge of the political conduct of nations, “instead of replacing the capital employed in them, together with the ordinary profit of stock, commonly absorb both capital and profit. They are the projects, therefore, to which, of all others, a prudent lawgiver, who desired to increase the capital of his nation, would least choose to give any extraordinary encouragement, or to turn towards them a greater share of that capital than would go to them of its own accord. Such, in reality, is the absurd confidence which all men have in their own good fortune, that wherever there is the least probability of success, too great a share of it is apt to go to them of its own accord.”n But in the Spanish colonies, government is studious to cherish a spirit which it should have laboured to depress, and, by the sanction of its approbation, augments that inconsiderate credulity, which has turned the active industry of Mexico and Peru into such an improper channel. To this may be imputed the slender progress which Spanish America has made, during two centuries and a half, either in useful manufactures, or in those lucrative branches of cultivation, which furnish the colonies of other nations with their staple commodities. In comparison with the precious metals, every bounty of nature is so much despised, that this extravagant idea of their value has mingled with the idiom of language in America, and Edition: current; Page: [373] Spaniards settled there denominate a country rich, not from the fertility of its soil, the abundance of its crops, or the exuberance of its pastures, but on account of the minerals which its mountains contain. In quest of these, they abandon the delightful plains of Peru and Mexico, and resort to barren and uncomfortable regions, where they have built some of the largest towns which they possess in the New World. As the activity and enterprise of the Spaniards originally took this direction, it is now so difficult to bend them a different way, that although, from various causes, the gain of working mines is much decreased, the fascination continues, and almost every person who takes any active part in the commerce of New Spain or Peru, is still engaged in some adventure of this kind.o

Other commodities of the Spanish colonies.But though mines are the chief object of the Spaniards, and the precious metals which these yield form the principal article in their commerce with America; the fertile countries which they possess there abound with other commodities of such value or scarcity, as to attract a considerable degree of attention. Cochineal is a production almost peculiar to New Spain, of such demand in commerce, that the sale is always certain, and yet yields such profit, as amply rewards the labour and care employed in rearing the curious insects of which this valuable drug is composed, and preparing it for the market. Quinquina, or Jesuits’ bark, the most salutary simple, perhaps, and of most restorative virtue, that providence, in compassion to human infirmity, has made known unto man, is found only in Peru, to which it affords a lucrative branch of commerce. The indigo of Guatimala is superior in quality to that of any province in America, and cultivated to a considerable extent. Cacao, though not peculiar to the Spanish colonies, attains to its Edition: current; Page: [374] highest state of perfection there, and, from the great consumption of chocolate in Europe, as well as in America, is a valuable commodity. The tobacco of Cuba, of more exquisite flavour than any brought from the New World; the sugar raised in that island, in Hispaniola, and in New Spain, together with drugs of various kinds, may be mentioned among the natural productions of America, which enrich the Spanish commerce. To these must be added an article of no inconsiderable account, the exportation of hides; for which, as well as for many of those which I have enumerated, the Spaniards are more indebted to the wonderful fertility of the country, than to their own foresight and industry. The domestic animals of Europe, particularly horned cattle, have multiplied in the New World with a rapidity which almost exceeds belief. A few years after the Spaniards settled there, the herds of tame cattle became so numerous, that their proprietors reckoned them by thousands.p Less attention being paid to them, as they continued to increase, they were suffered to run wild, and spreading over a country of boundless extent, under a mild climate, and covered with rich pasture, their number became immense. They range over the vast plains which extend from Buenos Ayres, towards the Andes, in herds of thirty or forty thousand; and the unlucky traveller who once falls in among them, may proceed several days before he can disentangle himself from among the crowd that covers the face of the earth, and seems to have no end. They are hardly less numerous in New Spain, and in several other provinces: they are killed merely for the sake of their hides; and the slaughter at certain seasons is so great, that the stench of their carcasses, which are left in the field, would infect the air, if large packs of wild dogs, and vast flocks of gallinazos, or American vultures, the Edition: current; Page: [375] most voracious of all the feathered kind, did not instantly devour them. The number of those hides exported in every fleet to Europe is very great, and is a lucrative branch of commerce.q

Almost all these may be considered as staple commodities peculiar to America, and different, if we except that last mentioned, from the productions of the mother country.

Advantages which Spain derives from her colonies.When the importation into Spain of those various articles from her colonies first became active and considerable, her interior industry and manufactures were in a state so prosperous, that, with the product of these, she was able both to purchase the commodities of the New World, and to answer its growing demands. Under the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella, and Charles V., Spain was one of the most industrious countries in Europe. Her manufactures in wool, and flax, and silk, were so extensive, as not only to furnish what was sufficient for her own consumption, but to afford a surplus for exportation. When a market for them, formerly unknown, and to which she alone had access, opened in America, she had recourse to her domestic store, and found there an abundant supply.r This new employment must naturally have added vivacity to the spirit of industry. Nourished and invigorated by it, the manufactures, the population, and wealth of Spain, might have gone on increasing in the same proportion with the growth of her colonies. Nor was the state of the Spanish marine at this period less flourishing than that of its manufactures. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, Spain is said to have possessed above a thousand merchant shipss, a number probably far superior to that of any nation in Europe in that age. By the Edition: current; Page: [376] aid which foreign trade and domestic industry give reciprocally to each other in their progress, the augmentation of both must have been rapid and extensive, and Spain might have received the same accession of opulence and vigour from her acquisitions in the New World, that other powers have derived from their colonies there.

Why she does not now derive the same.But various causes prevented this. The same thing happens to nations as to individuals. Wealth, which flows in gradually, and with moderate increase, feeds and nourishes that activity which is friendly to commerce, and calls it forth into vigorous and well-conducted exertions; but when opulence pours in suddenly, and with too full a stream, it overturns all sober plans of industry, and brings along with it a taste for what is wild, and extravagant, and daring, in business or in action. Such was the great and sudden augmentation of power and revenue, that the possession of America brought into Spain; and some symptoms of its pernicious influence upon the political operations of that monarchy soon began to appear. For a considerable time, however, the supply of treasure from the New World was scanty and precarious; and the genius of Charles V. conducted public measures with such prudence, that the effects of this influence were little perceived. But when Philip II. ascended the Spanish throne, with talents far inferior to those of his father, and remittances from the colonies became a regular and considerable branch of revenue, the fatal operation of this rapid change in the state of the kingdom, both on the monarch and his people, was at once conspicuous. Philip, possessing that spirit of unceasing assiduity, which often characterises the ambition of men of moderate talents, entertained such a high opinion of his own resources, that he thought nothing too arduous for him to undertake. Shut up himself in the solitude of the Escurial, he troubled and annoyed Edition: current; Page: [377] all the nations around him. He waged open war with the Dutch and English; he encouraged and aided a rebellious faction in France; he conquered Portugal, and maintained armies and garrisons in Italy, Africa, and both the Indies. By such a multiplicity of great and complicated operations, pursued with ardour during the course of a long reign, Spain was drained both of men and money.ad 1611. Under the weak administration of his successor, Philip III., the vigour of the nation continued to decrease, and sunk into the lowest decline, when the inconsiderate bigotry of that monarch expelled at once near a million of his most industrious subjects, at the very time when the exhausted state of the kingdom required some extraordinary exertion of political wisdom to augment its numbers, and to revive its strength. Early in the seventeenth century, Spain felt such a diminution in the number of her people, that, from inability to recruit her armies, she was obliged to contract her operations. Her flourishing manufactures were fallen into decay. Her fleets, which had been the terror of all Europe, were ruined. Her extensive foreign commerce was lost. The trade between different parts of her own dominions was interrupted, and the ships which attempted to carry it on were taken and plundered by enemies whom she once despised. Even agriculture, the primary object of industry in every prosperous state, was neglected, and one of the most fertile countries in Europe hardly raised what was sufficient for the support of its own inhabitants.

Rapid decline of its trade;In proportion as the population and manufactures of the parent state declined, the demands of her colonies continued to increase. The Spaniards, like their monarchs, intoxicated with the wealth which poured in annually upon them, deserted the paths of industry, to which they had been accustomed, and repaired with eagerness to those regions from which Edition: current; Page: [378] this opulence issued. By this rage of emigration, another drain was opened, and the strength of the colonies augmented by exhausting that of the mother country. All those emigrants, as well as the adventurers who had at first settled in America, depended absolutely upon Spain for almost every article of necessary consumption. Engaged in more alluring and lucrative pursuits, or prevented by restraints which government imposed, they could not turn their own attention towards establishing the manufactures requisite for comfortable subsistence. They received, as I have observed in another place, their clothing, their furniture, whatever ministers to the ease or luxury of life, and even their instruments of labour, from Europe. Spain, thinned of people, and decreasing in industry, was unable to supply their growing demands. She had recourse to her neighbours. The manufactures of the Low Countries, of England, of France, and of Italy, which her wants called into existence, or animated with new vivacity, furnished in abundance whatever she required. In vain did the fundamental law, concerning the exclusion of foreigners from trade with America, oppose this innovation. Necessity, more powerful than any statute, defeated its operation, and constrained the Spaniards themselves to concur in eluding it. The English, the French, and Dutch, relying on the fidelity and honour of Spanish merchants, who lend their names to cover the deceit, send out their manufactures to America, and receive the exorbitant price for which they are sold there, either in specie, or in the rich commodities of the New World. Neither the dread of danger, nor the allurement of profit, ever induced a Spanish factor to betray or defraud the person who confided in himt; and that probity, which is the pride and distinction of the nation, contributes Edition: current; Page: [379] to its ruin. In a short time, not above a twentieth part of the commodities exported to America was of Spanish growth or fabric.u All the rest was the property of foreign merchants, though entered in the name of Spaniards. The treasure of the New World may be said henceforward not to have belonged to Spain. Before it reached Europe, it was anticipated as the price of goods purchased from foreigners. That wealth which, by an internal circulation, would have spread through each vein of industry, and have conveyed life and movement to every branch of manufacture, flowed out of the kingdom with such a rapid course, as neither enriched nor animated it. On the other hand, the artisans of rival nations, encouraged by this quick sale of their commodities, improved so much in skill and industry, as to be able to afford them at a rate so low, that the manufactures of Spain which could not vie with theirs, either in quality or cheapness of work, were still farther depressed. This destructive commerce drained off the riches of the nation faster and more completely than even the extravagant schemes of ambition carried on by its monarchs. Spain was so much astonished and distressed, at beholding her American treasures vanish almost as soon as they were imported, that Philip III., unable to supply what was requisite in circulation, issued an edict, by which he endeavoured to raise copper-money to a value in currency nearly equal to that of silverx; and the lord of the Peruvian and Mexican mines was reduced to a wretched expedient, which is the last resource of petty impoverished states.

Thus the possessions of Spain in America have not proved a source of population and of wealth to her, in the same manner as those of other nations. In the countries of Europe, where the spirit of industry subsists in full vigour, every person settled in Edition: current; Page: [380] such colonies as are similar in their situation to those of Spain, is supposed to give employment to three or four at home in supplying his wants.y But wherever the mother country cannot afford this supply, every emigrant may be considered as a citizen lost to the community, and strangers must reap all the benefit of answering his demands.

increased by the mode of regulating its intercourse with America.Such has been the internal state of Spain from the close of the sixteenth century, and such her inability to supply the growing wants of her colonies. The fatal effects of this disproportion between their demands and her capacity of answering them, have been much increased by the mode in which Spain has endeavoured to regulate the intercourse between the mother country and the colonies. It is from her idea of monopolizing the trade with America, and debarring her subjects there from any communication with foreigners, that all her jealous and systematic arrangements have arisen. These are so singular in their nature and consequences as to merit a particular explanation. In order to secure the monopoly at which she aimed, Spain did not vest the trade with her colonies in an exclusive company, a plan which has been adopted by nations more commercial, and at a period when mercantile policy was an object of greater attention, and ought to have been better understood. The Dutch gave up the whole trade with their colonies, both in the East and West Indies, to exclusive companies. The English, the French, the Danes, have imitated their example with respect to the East Indian commerce; and the two former have laid a similar restraint upon some branches of their trade with the New World. The wit of man cannot, perhaps, devise a method for checking the progress of industry and population in a new colony more effectual than this. The interest of the colony, and of the Edition: current; Page: [381] exclusive company, must, in every point, be diametrically opposite; and as the latter possesses such advantages in this unequal contest, that it can prescribe at pleasure the terms of intercourse, the former must not only buy dear and sell cheap, but must suffer the mortification of having the increase of its surplus stock discouraged by those very persons to whom alone it can dispose of its productions.z

This confined to one port in Spain.Spain, it is probable, was preserved from falling into this error of policy, by the high ideas which she early formed concerning the riches of the New World. Gold and silver were commodities of too high a value to vest a monopoly of them in private hands. The crown wished to retain the direction of a commerce so inviting; and, in order to secure that, ordained the cargo of every ship fitted out for America to be inspected by the officers of the casa de contratacion in Seville, before it could receive a licence to make the voyage; and that, on its return, a report of the commodities which it brought should be made to the same board, before it could be permitted to land them. In consequence of this regulation, all the trade of Spain with the New World centred originally in the port of Seville, and was gradually brought into a form, in which it has been conducted, with little variation, from the middle of the sixteenth century almost to our own times. For the greater security of the valuable cargoes sent to America, as well as for the more easy prevention of fraud, the commerce of Spain with its colonies is carried on by fleets, which sail under strong convoys. These fleets, consisting of two squadrons, one distinguished by the name of the galeons, the other by that of the flota, are equipped annually. Formerly they took their departure from Seville; but as the port of Cadiz has been found more commodious, they have sailed from it since the year 1720.

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Carried on by the galeonsThe galeons destined to supply Tierra Firme, and the kingdoms of Peru and Chili, with almost every article of luxury, or necessary consumption, that an opulent people can demand, touch first at Carthagena, and then at Puerto Bello. To the former, the merchants of Santa Martha, Caraccas, the New Kingdom of Granada, and several other provinces, resort. The latter is the great mart for the rich commerce of Peru and Chili. At the season when the galeons are expected, the product of all the mines in these two kingdoms, together with their other valuable commodities, is transported by sea to Panama. From thence, as soon as the appearance of the fleet from Europe is announced, they are conveyed across the isthmus, partly on mules, and partly down the river Chagre, to Puerto Bello. This paltry village, the climate of which, from the pernicious union of excessive heat, continual moisture, and the putrid exhalations arising from a rank soil, is more fatal to life than any perhaps in the known world, is immediately filled with people. From being the residence of a few negroes and mulattoes, and of a miserable garrison relieved every three months, Puerto Bello assumes suddenly a very different aspect, and its streets are crowded with opulent merchants from every corner of Peru, and the adjacent provinces. A fair is opened, the wealth of America is exchanged for the manufactures of Europe; and, during its prescribed term of forty days, the richest traffic on the face of the earth is begun and finished, with that simplicity of transaction and that unbounded confidence which accompany extensive commerce.aand flota. The flota holds its course to Vera Cruz. The treasures and commodities of New Spain, and the depending provinces, which were deposited at Puebla de los Angeles, in expectation of its arrival, are carried thither; and the commercial Edition: current; Page: [383] operations of Vera Cruz, conducted in the same manner with those of Puerto Bello, are inferior to them only in importance and value. Both fleets, as soon as they have completed their cargoes from America, rendezvous at the Havanna, and return in company to Europe.

Bad effects of this arrangement.The trade of Spain with her colonies, while thus fettered and restricted, came necessarily to be conducted with the same spirit, and upon the same principles, as that of an exclusive company. Being confined to a single port, it was of course thrown into a few hands, and almost the whole of it was gradually engrossed by a small number of wealthy houses, formerly in Seville, now in Cadiz. These, by combinations, which they can easily form, may altogether prevent that competition which preserves commodities at their natural price; and by acting in concert, to which they are prompted by their mutual interest, they may raise or lower the value of them at pleasure. In consequence of this, the price of European goods in America is always high, and often exorbitant. A hundred, two hundred, and even three hundred per cent are profits not uncommon in the commerce of Spain with her colonies.b From the same engrossing spirit it frequently happens, that traders of the second order, whose warehouses do not contain a complete assortment of commodities for the American market, cannot purchase from the more opulent merchants such goods as they want, at a lower price than that for which they are sold in the colonies. With the same vigilant jealousy that an exclusive company guards against the intrusion of the free trader, those overgrown monopolists endeavour to check the progress of every one whose encroachments they dread.c This restraint of the American commerce to one port, not Edition: current; Page: [384] only affects its domestic state, but limits its foreign operations. A monopolist may acquire more, and certainly will hazard less, by a confined trade which yields exorbitant profit, than by an extensive commerce in which he receives only a moderate return of gain. It is often his interest not to enlarge, but to circumscribe the sphere of his activity; and, instead of calling forth more vigorous exertions of commercial industry, it may be the object of his attention to check and set bounds to them. By some such maxim, the mercantile policy of Spain seems to have regulated its intercourse with America. Instead of furnishing the colonies with European goods in such quantity as might render both the price and the profit moderate, the merchants of Seville and Cadiz seem to have supplied them with a sparing hand, that the eagerness of competition amongst customers, obliged to purchase in a scanty market, might enable the Spanish factors to dispose of their cargoes with exorbitant gain. About the middle of the last century, when the exclusive trade to America from Seville was in its most flourishing state, the burthen of the two united squadrons of the galeons and flota did not exceed twenty-seven thousand five hundred tons.d The supply which such a fleet could carry must have been very inadequate to the demands of those populous and extensive colonies, which depended upon it for all the luxuries, and many of the necessaries of life.

Remedies proposed.Spain early became sensible of her declension from her former prosperity; and many respectable and virtuous citizens employed their thoughts in devising methods for reviving the decaying industry and commerce of their country. From the violence of the remedies proposed, we may judge how desperate and fatal the malady appeared. Some, confounding a violation of police with criminality against the state, Edition: current; Page: [385] contended that, in order to check illicit commerce, every person convicted of carrying it on should be punished with death, and confiscation of all his effects.e Others, forgetting the distinction between civil offences and acts of impiety, insisted that contraband trade should be ranked among the crimes reserved for the cognisance of the inquisition; that such as were guilty of it might be tried and punished, according to the secret and summary form in which that dreadful tribunal exercises its jurisdiction.f Others, uninstructed by observing the pernicious effects of monopolies in every country where they have been established, have proposed to vest the trade with America in exclusive companies, which interest would render the most vigilant guardians of the Spanish commerce against the encroachment of the interlopers.g

Besides these wild projects, many schemes better digested and more beneficial, were suggested. But under the feeble monarchs, with whom the reign of the Austrian line in Spain closed, incapacity and indecision are conspicuous in every department of government. Instead of taking for their model the active administration of Charles V., they affected to imitate the cautious procrastinating wisdom of Philip II., and, destitute of his talents, they deliberated perpetually, but determined nothing. No remedy was applied to the evils under which the national commerce, domestic as well as foreign, languished. These evils continued to increase; and Spain, with dominions more extensive and more opulent than any European state, possessed neither vigour, nor moneyh, nor industry. At length, the violence of a great national convulsion roused the slumbering genius of Edition: current; Page: [386] Spain. The efforts of the two contending parties in the civil war, kindled by the dispute concerning the succession of the crown at the beginning of this century, called forth, in some degree, the ancient spirit and vigour of the nation. While men were thus forming, capable of adopting sentiments more liberal than those which had influenced the councils of the monarchy during the course of a century, Spain derived from an unexpected source the means of availing itself of their talents. The various powers who favoured the pretensions either of the Austrian or Bourbon candidate for the Spanish throne, sent formidable fleets and armies to their support; France, England, and Holland remitted immense sums to Spain. These were spent in the provinces which became the theatre of war. Part of the American treasure, of which foreigners had drained the kingdom, flowed back thither. From this æra, one of the most intelligent Spanish authors dates the revival of the monarchy; and, however humiliating the truth may be, he acknowledges, that it is to her enemies his country is indebted for the acquisition of a fund of circulating specie, in some measure adequate to the exigencies of the public.i

Step towards improvement by the Bourbon monarchs,As soon as the Bourbons obtained quiet possession of the throne, they discerned this change in the spirit of the people, and in the state of the nation, and took advantage of it; for although that family has not given monarchs to Spain remarkable for superiority of genius, they have all been beneficent princes, attentive to the happiness of their subjects, and solicitous to promote it. It was, accordingly, the first object of Philip V. to suppress an innovation which had crept in during the course of the war, and had overturned the whole system of the Spanish commerce with America. The English and Dutch, by their Edition: current; Page: [387] superiority in naval power, having acquired such command of the sea, as to cut off all intercourse between Spain and her colonies, Spain,by excluding foreigners from trade with Peru; in order to furnish her subjects in America those necessaries of life, without which they could not exist, and as the only means of receiving from thence any part of their treasure, departed so far from the usual rigour of its maxims as to open the trade with Peru to her allies the French. The merchants of St. Malo, to whom Louis XIV. granted the privilege of this lucrative commerce, engaged in it with vigour, and carried it on upon principles very different from those of the Spaniards. They supplied Peru with European commodities at a moderate price, and not in stinted quantity. The goods which they imported were conveyed to every province of Spanish America, in such abundance as had never been known in any former period. If this intercourse had been continued, the exportation of European commodities from Spain must have ceased, and the dependence of the colonies on the mother country have been at an end.1713. The most peremptory injunctions were therefore issued, prohibiting the admission of foreign vessels into any port of Peru or Chilik, and a Spanish squadron was employed to clear the South sea of intruders, whose aid was no longer necessary.

by checking contraband trade,But though, on the cessation of the war, which was terminated by the treaty of Utrecht, Spain obtained relief from one encroachment on her commercial system, she was exposed to another, which she deemed hardly less pernicious. As an inducement that might prevail with Queen Anne to conclude a peace, which France and Spain desired with equal ardour, Philip V. not only conveyed to Great Britain the assiento,particularly of the English assiento company. or contract for supplying the Spanish colonies with Edition: current; Page: [388] negroes, which had formerly been enjoyed by France, but granted it the more extraordinary privilege of sending annually to the fair of Puerto Bello a ship of five hundred tons, laden with European commodities. In consequence of this, British factories were estatablished at Carthagena, Panama, Vera Cruz, Buenos Ayres, and other Spanish settlements. The veil with which Spain had hitherto covered the state and transactions of her colonies was removed. The agents of a rival nation, residing in the towns of most extensive trade, and of chief resort, had the best opportunities of becoming acquainted with the interior condition of the American provinces, of observing their stated and occasional wants, and of knowing what commodities might be imported into them with the greatest advantage. In consequence of information so authentic and expeditious, the merchants of Jamaica, and other English colonies who traded to the Spanish main, were enabled to assort and proportion their cargoes so exactly to the demands of the market, that the contraband commerce was carried on with a facility and to an extent unknown in any former period. This, however, was not the most fatal consequence of the assiento to the trade of Spain. The agents of the British South Sea Company, under cover of the importation which they were authorized to make by the ship sent annually to Puerto Bello, poured in their commodities on the Spanish continent, without limitation or restraint. Instead of a ship of five hundred tons, as stipulated in the treaty, they usually employed one which exceeded nine hundred tons in burthen. She was accompanied by two or three smaller vessels, which, mooring in some neighbouring creek, supplied her clandestinely with fresh bales of goods, to replace such as were sold. The inspectors of the fair, and officers of the revenue, gained by exorbitant presents, Edition: current; Page: [389] connived at the fraud.l Thus, partly by the operations of the company, and partly by the activity of private interlopers, almost the whole trade of Spanish America was engrossed by foreigners.1737. The immense commerce of the galeons, formerly the pride of Spain, and the envy of other nations, sunk to nothing, and the squadron itself reduced from fifteen thousand to two thousand tonsm, served hardly any purpose but to fetch home the royal revenue arising from the fifth on silver.

Guarda-costas employed for this purpose.While Spain observed those encroachments, and felt so sensibly their pernicious effects, it was impossible not to make some effort to restrain them. Her first expedient was to station ships of force, under the appellation of guarda-costas, upon the coasts of those provinces to which interlopers most frequently resorted. As private interest concurred with the duty which they owed to the public, in rendering the officers who commanded those vessels vigilant and active, some check was given to the progress of the contraband trade, though in dominions so extensive, and so accessible by sea, hardly any number of cruisers was sufficient to guard against its inroads in every quarter. This interruption of an intercourse, which had been carried on with so much facility, that the merchants in the British colonies were accustomed to consider it almost as an allowed branch of commerce, excited murmurs and complaints. These authorized, in some measure, and rendered more interesting by several unjustifiable acts of violence committed by the captains of the Spanish guarda-costas,1739. precipitated Great Britain into a war with Spain; in consequence of which the latter obtained a final release from the assiento, and was left at liberty to regulate the commerce of her colonies, without being restrained by any engagement with a foreign power.

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The use of registerships introduced.As the formidable encroachments of the English on their American trade, had discovered to the Spaniards the vast consumption of European goods in their colonies, and taught them the advantage of accommodating their importations to the occasional demand of the various provinces, they perceived the necessity of devising some method of supplying their colonies, different from their ancient one of sending thither periodical fleets. That mode of communication had been found not only to be uncertain, as the departure of the galeons and flota was sometimes retarded by various accidents, and often prevented by the wars which raged in Europe; but long experience had shown it to be ill adapted to afford America a regular and timely supply of what it wanted. The scarcity of European goods in the Spanish settlements frequently became excessive; their price rose to an enormous height; the vigilant eye of mercantile attention did not fail to observe this favourable opportunity; an ample supply was poured in by interlopers from the English, the French, and Dutch islands; and when the galeons at length arrived, they found the markets so glutted by this illicit commerce, that there was no demand for the commodities with which they were loaded. In order to remedy this, Spain has permitted a considerable part of her commerce with America to be carried on by registerships. These are fitted out, during the intervals between the stated seasons when the galeons and flota sail, by merchants in Seville or Cadiz, upon obtaining a licence from the council of the Indies, for which they pay a very high premium, and are destined for those ports in America where any extraordinary demand is foreseen or expected. By this expedient, such a regular supply of the commodities, for which there is the greatest demand, is conveyed to the American market, that the interloper is no longer Edition: current; Page: [391] allured by the same prospect of excessive gain, or the people in the colonies urged by the same necessity to engage in the hazardous adventures of contraband trade.

The galeons abolished.In proportion as experience manifested the advantages of carrying on trade in this mode, the number of register-ships increased; and at length, in the year 1748, the galeons, after having been employed upwards of two centuries, were finally laid aside. From that period there has been no intercourse with Chili and Peru but by single ships, dispatched from time to time as occasion requires, and when the merchants expect a profitable market will open. These ships sail round cape Horn, and convey directly to the ports in the South sea the productions and manufactures of Europe, for which the people settled in those countries were formerly obliged to repair to Puerto Bello or Panama. These towns, as has been formerly observed, must gradually decline, when deprived of that commerce to which they owed their prosperity. This disadvantage, however, is more than compensated by the beneficial effects of this new arrangement, as the whole continent of South America receives new supplies of European commodities with so much regularity, and in such abundance, as must not only contribute greatly to the happiness, but increase the population of all the colonies settled there. But as all the register-ships destined for the South seas must still take their departure from Cadiz, and are obliged to return thithern, this branch of the American commerce, even in its new and improved form, continues subject to the restraints of a species of monopoly, and feels those pernicious effects of it, which I have already described.

Schemes for reviving commerce.Nor has the attention of Spain been confined to regulating the trade with its more flourishing colonies; Edition: current; Page: [392] it has extended likewise to the reviving commerce in those settlements where it was neglected, or had decayed. Among the new tastes which the people of Europe have acquired, in consequence of importing the productions of those countries which they conquered in America, that for chocolate is one of the most universal. The use of this liquor made with a paste, formed of the nut or almond of the cacao-tree, compounded with various ingredients, the Spaniards first learned from the Mexicans; and it has appeared to them, and to the other European nations, so palatable, so nourishing, and so wholesome, that it has become a commercial article of considerable importance. The cacao-tree grows spontaneously in several parts of the torrid zone; but the nuts of the best quality, next to those of Guatimala, on the South sea, are produced in the rich plains of Caraccas, a province of Tierra Firme. In consequence of this acknowledged superiority in the quality of cacao in that province, and its communication with the Atlantic, which facilitates the conveyance to Europe, the culture of the cacao there is more extensive than in any district of America. But the Dutch, by the vicinity of their settlements in the small islands of Curazoa and Buen Ayre, to the coast of Caraccas, gradually engrossed the greatest part of the cacao trade. The traffic with the mother country for this valuable commodity ceased almost entirely; and such was the supine negligence of the Spaniards, or the defects of their commercial arrangements, that they were obliged to receive from the hands of foreigners this production of their own colonies, at an exorbitant price.By establishing the company of Caraccas. In order to remedy an evil no less disgraceful than pernicious to his subjects, Philip V., in the year 1728, granted to a body of merchants an exclusive right to the commerce with Caraccas and Cumana, on condition of their employing, at their own expence, a Edition: current; Page: [393] sufficient number of armed vessels to clear the coast of interlopers. This society, distinguished sometimes by the name of the company of Guipuscoa, from the province of Spain in which it is established, and sometimes by that of the company of Caraccas, from the district of America to which it trades, has carried on its operations with such vigour and success, that Spain has recovered an important branch of commerce, which she had suffered to be wrested from her, and is plentifully supplied with an article of extensive consumption at a moderate price. Not only the parent state, but the colony of Caraccas, has derived great advantages from this institution; for although, at the first aspect, it may appear to be one of those monopolies, whose tendency is to check the spirit of industry, instead of calling it forth to new exertions, it has been prevented from operating in this manner by several salutary regulations, framed upon foresight of such bad effects, and of purpose to obviate them. The planters in the Caraccas are not left to depend entirely on the company, either for the importation of European commodities, or the sale of their own productions. The inhabitants of the Canary islands have the privilege of sending thither annually a registership of considerable burden; and from Vera Cruz, in New Spain, a free trade is permitted in every port comprehended in the charter of the company. In consequence of this, there is such a competition, that, both with respect to what the colonies purchase, and what they sell, the price seems to be fixed at its natural and equitable rate. The company has not the power of raising the former, or of degrading the latter at pleasure; and accordingly, since it was established, the increase of culture, of population, and of live stock, in the province of Caraccas, has been very considerable.o

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Enlargement of commercial ideas in Spain.But as it is slowly that nations relinquish any system which time has rendered venerable, and as it is still more slowly that commerce can be diverted from the channel in which it has long been accustomed to flow, Philip V., in his new regulations concerning the American trade, paid such deference to the ancient maxim of Spain, concerning the limitation of all importation from the New World to one harbour, as to oblige both the register-ships which returned from Peru, and those of the Guipuscoan company from Caraccas, to deliver their cargoes in the port of Cadiz. Since his reign, sentiments more liberal and enlarged begin to spread in Spain. The spirit of philosophical enquiry, which it is the glory of the present age to have turned from frivolous or abstruse speculations, to the business and affairs of men, has extended its influence beyond the Pyrenees. In the researches of ingenious authors, concerning the police or commerce of nations, the errors and defects of the Spanish system with respect to both met every eye, and have not only been exposed with severity, but are held up as a warning to other states. The Spaniards, stung with the reproaches of these authors, or convinced by their arguments, and admonished by several enlightened writers of their own country, seem at length to have discovered the destructive tendency of those narrow maxims, which, by cramping commerce in all its operations, have so long retarded its progress. It is to the monarch now on the throne that Spain is indebted for the first public regulation formed in consequence of such enlarged ideas.

Establishment of regular packet-boats.While Spain adhered with rigour to her ancient maxims concerning her commerce with America, she was so much afraid of opening any channel, by which an illicit trade might find admission into the colonies, that she almost shut herself out from any intercourse with them, but that which was carried on by her annual Edition: current; Page: [395] fleets. There was no establishment for a regular communication of either public or private intelligence, between the mother country and its American settlements. From the want of this necessary institution, the operations of the state, as well as the business of individuals, were retarded or conducted unskilfully, and Spain often received from foreigners her first information with respect to very interesting events in her own colonies. But though this defect in police was sensibly felt, and the remedy for it was obvious, that jealous spirit with which the Spanish monarchs guarded the exclusive trade, restrained them from applying it. At length Charles III. surmounted those considerations which had deterred his predecessors, and in the year 1764 appointed packet-boats to be dispatched on the first day of each month, from Coruña to the Havanna or Porto Rico. From thence letters are conveyed in smaller vessels to Vera Cruz and Puerto Bello, and transmitted by post through the kingdoms of Tierra Firme, Granada, Peru, and New Spain. With no less regularity packet-boats sail once in two months to Rio de la Plata, for the accommodation of the provinces to the east of the Andes. Thus provision is made for a speedy and certain circulation of intelligence throughout the vast dominions of Spain, from which equal advantages must redound to the political and mercantile interest of the kingdom.p With this new arrangement a scheme of extending commerce has been more immediately connected. Each of the packet-boats, which are vessels of some considerable burden, is allowed to take in half a loading of such commodities as are the product of Spain, and most in demand in the ports whither they are bound. In return for these they may bring home to Coruña an equal quantity of American productions.q Edition: current; Page: [396] This may be considered as the first relaxation of those rigid laws, which confined the trade with the New World to a single port, and the first attempt to admit the rest of the kingdom to some share in it.

Free trade permitted to several provinces.It was soon followed by one more decisive. In the year 1765, Charles III. laid open the trade to the windward islands, Cuba, Hispaniola, Porto Rico, Margarita, and Trinidad, to his subjects in every province of Spain. He permitted them to sail from certain ports in each province, which are specified in the edict, at any season, and with whatever cargo they deemed most proper, without any other warrant than a simple clearance from the custom-house of the place whence they took their departure. He released them from the numerous and oppressive duties imposed on goods exported to America, and in place of the whole substituted a moderate tax of six in the hundred on the commodities sent from Spain. He allowed them to return either to the same port, or to any other where they might hope for a more advantageous market, and there to enter the homeward cargo, on payment of the usual duties. This ample privilege, which at once broke through all the fences which the jealous policy of Spain had been labouring, for two centuries and a half, to throw round its commercial intercourse with the New World, was soon after extended to Louisiana, and to the provinces of Yucatan and Campeachy.r

Beneficial effects of it.The propriety of this innovation, which may be considered as the most liberal effort of Spanish legislation, has appeared from its effects. Prior to the edict in favour of the free trade, Spain derived hardly any benefit from its neglected colonies in Hispaniola, Porto Rico, Margarita, and Trinidad. Its commerce with Cuba was inconsiderable, and that of Yucatan Edition: current; Page: [397] and Campeachy was engrossed almost entirely by interlopers. But as soon as a general liberty of trade was permitted, the intercourse with those provinces revived, and has gone on with a rapidity of progression, of which there are few examples in the history of nations. In less than ten years the trade of Cuba has been more than tripled. Even in those settlements where, from the languishing state of industry, greater efforts were requisite to restore its activity, their commerce has been doubled. It is computed, that such a number of ships is already employed in the free trade, that the tonnage of them far exceeds that of the galeons and flota, at the most flourishing æra of their commerce. The benefits of this arrangement are not confined to a few merchants, established in a favourite port. They are diffused through every province of the kingdom; and, by opening a new market for their various productions and manufactures, must encourage and add vivacity to the industry of the farmer and artificer. Nor does the kingdom profit only by what it exports; it derives advantage likewise from what it receives in return, and has the prospect of being soon able to supply itself with several commodities of extensive consumption, for which it formerly depended on foreigners. The consumption of sugar in Spain is perhaps as great, in proportion to the number of its inhabitants, as that of any European kingdom. But though possessed of countries in the New World, whose soil and climate are most proper for rearing the sugar cane; though the domestic culture of that valuable plant in the kingdom of Granada was once considerable; such has been the fatal tendency of ill-judged institutions in America, and such the pressure of improper taxes in Europe, that Spain has lost almost entirely this branch of industry, which has enriched other nations. This commodity, which has now become an article of primary necessity in Europe, Edition: current; Page: [398] the Spaniards were obliged to purchase of foreigners, and had the mortification to see their country drained annually of great sums on that account.s But if that spirit, which the permission of free trade has put in motion, shall persevere in its efforts with the same vigour, the cultivation of sugar in Cuba and Porto Rico may increase so much, that in a few years, it is probable, that their growth of sugars may be equal to the demand of the kingdom.

Free trade permitted between the colonies.Spain has been induced, by her experience of the beneficial consequences resulting from having relaxed somewhat of the rigour of her ancient laws with respect to the commerce of the mother country with the colonies, to permit a more liberal intercourse of one colony with another. By one of the jealous maxims of the old system, all the provinces situated on the South seas were prohibited, under the most severe penalties, from holding any communication with one another. Though each of these yields peculiar productions, the reciprocal exchange of which might have added to the happiness of their respective inhabitants, or have facilitated their progress in industry, so solicitous was the council of the Indies to prevent their receiving any supply of their wants, but by the periodical fleets from Europe, that, in order to guard against this, it cruelly debarred the Spaniards in Peru, in the southern provinces of New Spain, in Guatimala, and the New Kingdom of Granada, from such a correspondence with their fellow-subjects, as tended manifestly to their mutual prosperity. Of all the numerous restrictions devised by Spain for securing the exclusive trade with her American settlements, none perhaps was more illiberal, none seems to have been more sensibly felt, or to have produced more hurtful effects. This grievance, coeval with the settlements of Spain in the countries situated on the Edition: current; Page: [399] Pacific ocean, is at last redressed. In the year 1774, Charles III. published an edict, granting to the four great provinces which I have mentioned the privilege of a free trade with each other.t What may be the effects of opening this communication between countries destined by their situation for reciprocal intercourse, cannot yet be determined by experience. They can hardly fail of being beneficial and extensive. The motives for granting this permission are manifestly no less laudable, than the principle on which it is founded is liberal; and both discover the progress of a spirit in Spain, far elevated above the narrow prejudices and maxims on which her system for regulating the trade, and conducting the government of her colonies, was originally founded.

New regulations concerning the government of the colonies.At the same time that Spain has been intent on introducing regulations, suggested by more enlarged views of policy, into her system of American commerce, she has not been inattentive to the interior government of her colonies. Here, too, there was much room for reformation and improvement; and Don Joseph Galvez, who has now the direction of the department for Indian affairs in Spain, has enjoyed the best opportunities, not only of observing the defects and corruption in the political frame of the colonies, but of discovering the sources of those evils. After being employed seven years in the New World on an extraordinary mission, and with very extensive powers, as inspector-general of New Spain; after visiting in person the remote provinces of Cinaloa, Sonora, and California, and making several important alterations in the state of the police and revenue; he began his ministry with a general reformation of the tribunals of justice in America.Reformation of the courts of justice. In consequence of the progress of population and wealth in the colonies, Edition: current; Page: [400] the business of the courts of audience has increased so much, that the number of judges of which they were originally composed, has been found inadequate to the growing labours and duties of the office, and the salaries settled upon them have been deemed inferior to the dignity of the station. As a remedy for both, he obtained a royal edict, establishing an additional number of judges in each court of audience, with higher titles, and more ample appointments.u

New distribution of government.To the same intelligent minister Spain is indebted for a new distribution of government in its American provinces. Even since the establishment of a third viceroyalty in the New Kingdom of Granada, so great is the extent of the Spanish dominions in the New World, that several places subject to the jurisdiction of each viceroy were at such an enormous distance from the capitals in which they resided, that neither their attention, nor their authority, could reach so far. Some provinces subordinate to the viceroy of New Spain lay above two thousand miles from Mexico. There were countries subject to the viceroy of Peru still farther from Lima. The people in those remote districts could hardly be said to enjoy the benefit of civil government. The oppression and insolence of its inferior ministers they often feel, and rather submit to these in silence, than involve themselves in the expence and trouble of resorting to the distant capitals, where alone they can find redress.New viceroyalty, Aug. 1776, on Rio de la Plata. As a remedy for this, a fourth viceroyalty has been erected, to the jurisdiction of which are subjected the provinces of Rio de la Plata, Buenos Ayres, Paraguay, Tucuman, Potosi, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Charcas, and the towns of Mendoza and St. Juan. By this well-judged arrangement, two advantages are gained. All the inconveniences occasioned by the remote situation of those provinces, which had been Edition: current; Page: [401] long felt, and long complained of, are, in a great measure, removed. The countries most distant from Lima are separated from the viceroyalty of Peru, and united under a superior, whose seat of government at Buenos Ayres will be commodious and accessible. The contraband trade with the Portuguese, which was become so extensive, as must have put a final stop to the exportation of commodities from Spain to her southern colonies, may be checked more thoroughly, and with greater facility, when the supreme magistrate, by his vicinity to the places in which it is carried on, can view its progress and effects with his own eyes. Don Pedro Zevallos, who has been raised to this new dignity, with appointments equal to those of the other viceroys, is well acquainted both with the state and the interest of the countries over which he is to preside, having served in them long, and with distinction. By this dismemberment, succeeding that which took place at the erection of the viceroyalty of the New Kingdom of Granada, almost two third parts of the territories, originally subject to the viceroys of Peru are now lopped off from their jurisdiction.

New government in provinces of Sonora, &c.The limits of the viceroyalty of New Spain have likewise been considerably circumscribed, and with no less propriety and discernment. Four of its most remote provinces, Sonora, Cinaloa, California, and New Navarre, have been formed into a separate government. The Chevalier de Croix, who is intrusted with this command, is not dignified with the title of viceroy, nor does he enjoy the appointments belonging to that rank; but his jurisdiction is altogether independent on the viceroyalty of New Spain. The erection of this last government seems to have been suggested not only by the consideration of the remote situation of those provinces from Mexico, but by attention to the late discoveries made there which I Edition: current; Page: [402] have mentioned.x Countries containing the richest mines of gold that have hitherto been discovered in the New World, and which, probably, may arise into great importance, required the immediate inspection of a governor, to whom they should be specially committed. As every consideration of duty, of interest, and of vanity, must concur in prompting those new governors to encourage such exertions as tend to diffuse opulence and prosperity through the provinces committed to their charge, the beneficial effects of this arrangement may be considerable. Many districts in America, long depressed by the languor and feebleness natural to provinces which compose the extremities of an overgrown empire, may be animated with vigour and activity, when brought so near the seat of power as to feel its invigorating influence.

Attempts to reform domestic policy.Such, since the accession of the princes of the house of Bourbon to the throne of Spain, has been the progress of their regulations, and the gradual expansion of their views with respect to the commerce and government of their American colonies. Nor has their attention been so entirely engrossed by what related to the more remote parts of their dominions, as to render them neglectful of what was still more important, the reformation of domestic errors and defects in policy. Fully sensible of the causes to which the declension of Spain from her former prosperity ought to be imputed, they have made it a great object of their policy to revive a spirit of industry among their subjects, and to give such extent and perfection to their manufactures, as may enable them to supply the demands of America from their own stock, and to exclude foreigners from a branch of commerce which has been so fatal to the kingdom. This they have endeavoured to accomplish, by a variety of edicts issued since the peace of Utrecht. Edition: current; Page: [403] They have granted bounties for the encouragement of some branches of industry; they have lowered the taxes on others, they have either entirely prohibited, or have loaded with additional duties, such foreign manufactures as come in competition with their own; they have instituted societies for the improvement of trade and agriculture; they have planted colonies of husbandmen in some uncultivated districts of Spain, and divided among them the waste fields; they have had recourse to every expedient devised by commercial wisdom, or commercial jealousy, for reviving their own industry, and discountenancing that of other nations. These, however, it is not my province to explain, or to enquire into their propriety and effects. There is no effort of legislation more arduous, no experiment in policy more uncertain, than an attempt to revive the spirit of industry where it has declined, or to introduce it where it is unknown. Nations, already possessed of extensive commerce, enter into competition with such advantages, derived from the large capitals and extensive credit of their merchants, the dexterity of their manufacturers, and the alertness acquired by habit in every department of business, that the state which aims at rivalling or supplanting them, must expect to struggle with many difficulties, and be content to advance slowly. If the quantity of productive industry, now in Spain, be compared with that of the kingdom under the last listless monarchs of the Austrian line, its progress must appear considerable, and is sufficient to alarm the jealousy, and to call forth the most vigorous efforts of the nations now in possession of the lucrative trade which the Spaniards aim at wresting from them. One circumstance may render those exertions of Spain an object of more serious attention to the other European powers. They are not to be ascribed wholly to the influence of the crown and its ministers. The sentiments Edition: current; Page: [404] and spirit of the people seem to second the provident care of their monarchs, and to give it greater effect. The nation has adopted more liberal ideas, not only with respect to commerce, but domestic policy. In all the later Spanish writers, defects in the arrangements of their country concerning both are acknowledged, and remedies proposed, which ignorance rendered their ancestors incapable of discerning, and pride would not have allowed them to confess.y But after all that the Spaniards have done, much remains to do. Many pernicious institutions and abuses, deeply incorporated with the system of internal policy and taxation, which has been long established in Spain, must be abolished before industry and manufactures can recover an extensive activity.

Contraband trade.Still, however, the commercial regulations of Spain with respect to her colonies are too rigid and systematical to be carried into complete execution. The legislature that loads trade with impositions too heavy, or fetters it by restrictions too severe, defeats its own intention, and is only multiplying the inducements to violate its statutes, and proposing a high premium to encourage illicit traffic. The Spaniards, both in Europe and America, being circumscribed in their mutual intercourse by the jealousy of the crown, or oppressed by its exactions, have their invention continually on the stretch how to elude its edicts. The vigilance and ingenuity of private interest discover means of effecting this, which public wisdom cannot foresee, nor public authority prevent. This spirit, counteracting that of the laws, pervades the commerce of Spain with America in all its branches; and from the highest departments in government descends to the lowest. The very officers appointed to check contraband trade are often employed as instruments in carrying it on; and the boards instituted to restrain Edition: current; Page: [405] and punish it, are the channels through which it flows. The king is supposed, by the most intelligent Spanish writers, to be defrauded, by various artifices, of more than one half of the revenue which he ought to receive from Americaz; and as long as it is the interest of so many persons to screen those artifices from detection, the knowledge of them will never reach the throne. “How many ordinances,” says Corita, “how many instructions, how many letters from our sovereign, are sent in order to correct abuses, and how little are they observed, and what small advantage is derived from them! To me the old observation appears just, that where there are many physicians, and many medicines, there is a want of health; where there are many laws, and many judges, there is want of justice. We have viceroys, presidents, governors, oidors, corregidors, alcaldes, and thousands of alguacils abound every where; but, notwithstanding all these, public abuses continue to multiply.a” Time has increased the evils which he lamented as early as the reign of Philip II. A spirit of corruption has infected all the colonies of Spain in America. Men far removed from the seat of government; impatient to acquire wealth, that they may return speedily from what they are apt to consider as a state of exile in a remote unhealthful country; allured by opportunities too tempting to be resisted, and seduced by the example of those around them; find their sentiments of honour and of duty gradually relax. In private life they give themselves up to a dissolute luxury, while in their public conduct they become unmindful of what they owe to their sovereign and to their country.

Trade between New Spain and the Philippines.Before I close this account of the Spanish trade in America, there remains one detached, but important branch of it to be mentioned. Soon after his accession Edition: current; Page: [406] to the throne, Philip II. formed a scheme of planting a colony in the Philippine islands, which had been neglected since the time of their discovery; and he accomplished it by means of an armament fitted out from New Spain.b1564. Manila, in the island of Luconia, was the station chosen for the capital of this new establishment. From it an active commercial intercourse began with the Chinese, and a considerable number of that industrious people, allured by the prospect of gain, settled in the Philippine islands under the Spanish protection. They supplied the colony so amply with all the valuable productions and manufactures of the East, as enabled it to open a trade with America, by a course of navigation, the longest from land to land on our globe. In the infancy of this trade, it was carried on with Callao, on the coast of Peru; but experience having discovered the impropriety of fixing upon that as the port of communication with Manila, the staple of the commerce between the East and West was removed from Callao, to Acapulco, on the coast of New Spain.

After various arrangements, it has been brought into a regular form. One or two ships depart annually from Acapulco, which are permitted to carry out silver to the amount of five hundred thousand pesosc; but they have hardly any thing else of value on board; in return for which, they bring back spices, drugs, china, and japan wares, calicoes, chintz, muslins, silks, and every precious article with which the benignity of the climate, or the ingenuity of its people, has enabled the East to supply the rest of the world. For some time the merchants of Peru were admitted to participate in this traffic, and might send annually a ship to Acapulco, to wait the arrival of the vessels from Manila, and receive a proportional share of the commodities which they imported. At length, the Edition: current; Page: [407] Peruvians were excluded from this trade by most rigorous edicts, and all the commodities from the East reserved solely for the consumption of New Spain.

In consequence of this indulgence, the inhabitants of that country enjoy advantages unknown in the other Spanish colonies. The manufactures of the East are not only more suited to a warm climate, and more showy than those of Europe, but can be sold at a lower price; while, at the same time, the profits upon them are so considerable, as to enrich all those who are employed, either in bringing them from Manila, or vending them in New Spain. As the interest both of the buyer and seller concurred in favouring this branch of commerce, it has continued to extend, in spite of regulations concerted with the most anxious jealousy to circumscribe it. Under cover of what the laws permit to be imported, great quantities of India goods are poured into the markets of New Spaind; and when the flota arrives at Vera Cruz from Europe, it often finds the wants of the people already supplied by cheaper and more acceptable commodities.

There is not, in the commercial arrangements of Spain, any circumstance more inexplicable than the permission of this trade between New Spain and the Philippines, or more repugnant to its fundamental maxim of holding the colonies in perpetual dependence on the mother country, by prohibiting any commercial intercourse that might suggest to them the idea of receiving a supply of their wants from any other quarter. This permission must appear still more extraordinary, from considering that Spain herself carries on no direct trade with her settlements in the Philippines, and grants a privilege to one of her American colonies, which she denies to her subjects in Europe. It is probable, that the colonists who originally took possession of the Philippines, having Edition: current; Page: [408] been sent out from New Spain, begun this intercourse with a country which they considered, in some measure, as their parent state, before the court of Madrid was aware of its consequences, or could establish regulations in order to prevent it. Many remonstrances have been presented against this trade, as detrimental to Spain, by diverting into another channel a large portion of that treasure which ought to flow into the kingdom, as tending to give rise to a spirit of independence in the colonies, and to encourage innumerable frauds, against which it is impossible to guard, in transactions so far removed from the inspection of government. But as it requires no slight effort of political wisdom and vigour to abolish any practice which numbers are interested in supporting, and to which time has added the sanction of its authority, the commerce between New Spain and Manila seems to be as considerable as ever, and may be considered as one chief cause of the elegance and splendour conspicuous in this part of the Spanish dominions.

Public revenue from America.But, notwithstanding this general corruption in the colonies of Spain, and the diminution of the income belonging to the public, occasioned by the illicit importations made by foreigners, as well as by the various frauds of which the colonists themselves are guilty in their commerce with the parent state, the Spanish monarchs receive a very considerable revenue from their American dominions. This arises from taxes of various kinds, which may be divided into three capital branches. The first contains what is paid to the king, as sovereign, or superior lord of the New World: to this class belongs the duty on the gold and silver raised from the mines, and the tribute exacted from the Indians; the former is termed by the Spaniards the right of signiory, the latter is the duty of vassalage. The second branch comprehends the numerous duties upon commerce, which accompany Edition: current; Page: [409] and oppress it in every step of its progress, from the greatest transactions of the wholesale merchant, to the petty traffic of the vender by retail. The third includes what accrues to the king, as head of the church, and administrator of ecclesiastical funds in the New World. In consequence of this, he receives the first fruits, annates, spoils, and other spiritual revenues, levied by the apostolic chamber in Europe; and is entitled likewise to the profit arising from the sale of the bull of cruzado. This bull, which is published every two years, contains an absolution from past offences by the pope, and, among other immunities, a permission to eat several kinds of prohibited food during Lent, and on meagre days. The monks employed in dispersing those bulls extol their virtues with all the fervour of interested eloquence; the people, ignorant and credulous, listen with implicit assent; and every person in the Spanish colonies, of European, creolian, or mixed race, purchases a bull, which is deemed essential to his salvation, at the rate set upon it by government.e

Its amount.What may be the amount of those various funds, it is almost impossible to determine with precision. The extent of the Spanish dominions in America, the jealousy of government, which renders them inaccessible to foreigners, the mysterious silence which the Spaniards are accustomed to observe with respect to the interior state of their colonies, combine in covering this subject with a veil, which it is not easy to remove. But an account, apparently no less accurate than it is curious, has lately been published of the royal revenue in Spain, from which we may form some idea with respect to what is collected in the other provinces. According to that account, the crown does not receive, from all the departments of taxation in New Spain, above a million of our money, Edition: current; Page: [410] from which one half must be deducted as the expence of the provincial establishment.f Peru, it is probable, yields a sum not inferior to this; and if we suppose that all the other regions of America, including the islands, furnish a third share of equal value, we shall not, perhaps, be far wide from the truth, if we conclude that the net public revenue of Spain, raised in America, does not exceed a million and a half sterling. This falls far short of the immense sums to which suppositions, founded upon conjecture, have raised the Spanish revenue in America.g It is remarkable, however, upon one account. Spain and Portugal are the only European powers who derive a direct revenue from their colonies. All the advantage that accrues to other nations, from their American dominions, arises from the exclusive enjoyment of their trade: but beside this, Spain has brought her colonies to contribute towards increasing the power of the state; and, in return for protection, to bear a proportional share of the common burden.

Accordingly, the sum which I have computed to be the amount of the Spanish revenue from America, arises wholly from the taxes collected there, and is far from being the whole of what accrues to the king from his dominions in the New World. The heavy duties imposed on the commodities exported from Spain to Americah, as well as what is paid by those which she sends home in return; the tax upon the negro-slaves, with which Africa supplies the New World, together with several smaller branches of finance, bring large sums into the treasury, the precise extent of which I cannot pretend to ascertain.

Expence of administration.But if the revenue which Spain draws from America be great, the expence of administration in her colonies bears proportion to it. In every department, even of her domestic police and finances, Spain has Edition: current; Page: [411] adopted a system more complex, and more encumbered with a variety of tribunals, and a multitude of officers, than that of any European nation, in which the sovereign possesses such extensive power. From the jealous spirit with which Spain watches over her American settlements, and her endeavours to guard against fraud in provinces so remote from inspection, boards and officers have been multiplied there with still more anxious attention. In a country where the expence of living is great, the salaries allotted to every person in public office must be high, and must load the revenue with an immense burden. The parade of government greatly augments the weight of it. The viceroys of Mexico, Peru, and the New Kingdom of Granada, as representatives of the king’s person, among people fond of ostentation, maintain all the state and dignity of royalty. Their courts are formed upon the model of that at Madrid, with horse and foot guards, a household regularly established, numerous attendants, and ensigns of power, displaying such pomp as hardly retains the appearance of a delegated authority. All the expence incurred by supporting the external and permanent order of government is defrayed by the crown. The viceroys have, besides, peculiar appointments, suited to their exalted station. The salaries fixed by law are, indeed, extremely moderate; that of the viceroy of Peru is only thirty thousand ducats; and that of the viceroy of Mexico, twenty thousand ducats.i Of late they have been raised to forty thousand.

These salaries, however, constitute but a small part of the revenue enjoyed by the viceroys. The exercise of an absolute authority extending to every department of government, and the power of disposing of many lucrative offices, afford them many opportunities of accumulating wealth. To these, Edition: current; Page: [412] which may be considered as legal and allowed emoluments, large sums are often added by exactions, which, in countries so far removed from the seat of government, it is not easy to discover, and impossible to restrain. By monopolising some branches of commerce, by a lucrative concern in others, by conniving at the frauds of merchants, a viceroy may raise such an annual revenue as no subject of any European monarch enjoys.k From the single article of presents made to him on the anniversary of his name-day, which is always observed as a high festival, I am informed that a viceroy has been known to receive sixty thousand pesos. According to a Spanish saying, the legal revenues of a viceroy are known, his real profits depend upon his opportunities and his conscience. Sensible of this, the kings of Spain, as I have formerly observed, grant a commission to their viceroys only for a few years. This circumstance, however, renders them often more rapacious, and adds to the ingenuity and ardour wherewith they labour to improve every moment of a power, which they know is hastening fast to a period; and, short as its duration is, it usually affords sufficient time for repairing a shattered fortune, or for creating a new one. But even in situations so trying to human frailty, there are instances of virtue that remains unseduced. In the year 1772, the Marquis de Croix finished the term of his viceroyalty in New Spain with unsuspected integrity; and, instead of bringing home exorbitant wealth, returned with the admiration and applause of a grateful people, whom his government had rendered happy.

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NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

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Edition: current; Page: [469]

SHORT ACCOUNT OF WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THE LETTER SENT TO THE EMPEROR, MENTIONED IN THE PREFACE, PAGE VII.

This letter is dated July 6th, 1519. Cortes in his second dispatch takes notice that it was sent off on the 16th of July.

The great object of the persons who wrote this letter, is to justify their own conduct in establishing a colony independent on the jurisdiction of Velasquez. With this view they endeavour to detract from his merit, in fitting out the two former armaments under Cordova and Grijalva, representing these as equipped by the adventurers who engaged in the expedition, not by the governor. They labour likewise to depreciate the services of Cordova and Grijalva, in order to exalt the merit of their own exploits.

They contend, that the sole object of Velasquez was to trade or barter with the natives, not to attempt the conquest of New Spain, or the establishment of a colony there. This is frequently mentioned by B. Diaz del Castillo, c. 19. 41, 42, &c. But if Velasquez had not conquest and settlement in view, there seems to have been no reason for equipping such a considerable armament.

They assert, that Cortes defrayed the greatest part of the expence of fitting out the armament. But this does not agree with the account of his slender fortune given by Gomara, Cron. c. 7. and B. Diaz, c. 20, or what I have mentioned Note III. Vol. II.

They take notice, that though considerable numbers were wounded in their different encounters with the people of Tabasco, not one of them died, and all recovered in a short time. This seems to confirm what I have observed Vol. II. p. 38, concerning the imperfection of the offensive weapons of the Americans.

They give some account of the manners and institutions of the Mexicans. It is very short, and as they had resided but a short time in the country, and had but little intercourse with the natives, it is both defective and inaccurate. They describe minutely, and with great horror, the human sacrifices offered by the Mexicans to their deities, and affirm that some of their number were eyewitnesses of those barbarous rites.

They subjoin to their letter a catalogue and description of the presents sent to the emperor. That published by Gomara, Cron. c. 29. seems to have been copied from it, and Pet. Martyr describes many of the articles in his treatise De Insulis nuper inventis, p. 354, &c.

end of the second volume.
Edition: current; Page: [470]

London:

Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode,

New-Street-Square.

b

B. Diaz, c. 19. Gomara, Chron. c. 7. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. c. 11.

d

Gomara, Chron. c. 1, 2, 3.

f

Gomara, Chron. c. 7. B. Diaz, c. 20.

h

B. Diaz, c. 19.

k

B. Diaz, c. 31—36. Gomara, Chron. c. 18—23. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. c. 11. &c.

l

B. Diaz, c. 37, 38, 39. Gomara, Chron. c. 25, 26. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 4.

n

B. Diaz, c. 39. Gomara, Chron. c. 27. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 5, 6.

o

Cortes, Relazione Seconda, ap. Ramus. iii. 234, 235. Herrera, dec. 2. ib. iii. c. 1. lib. v. c. 11. lib. vii. c. 6. Gomara, Chron. c. 66. 92. 144.

p

B. Diaz, c. 40.

r

B. Diaz, c. 40, 41, 42. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 6, 7.

s

Villa rica de la vera cruz.

t

B. Diaz, c. 42, 43. Gomara, Chron. c. 30, 31. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 7.

u

B. Diaz, c. 44.

x

B. Diaz, c. 41. Gomara, Chron. c. 28.

y

B. Diaz, c. 45, 46. 48. Gomara, Chron. c. 32, 33. 37. Herrera, dec. il. lib. v. c. 8, 9.

z

B. Diaz, c. 47. Gomara, Chron. 35, 36. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 9, 10, 11.

a

In this letter it is asserted, that though a considerable number of Spaniards have been wounded in their various encounters with the people of Tabasco, not one of them died, and all had recovered in a very short time. This seems to confirm what I observe in p. 360., concerning the imperfection of the offensive weapons used by the Americans. In this letter, the human sacrifices offered by the Mexicans to their deities are described minutely, and with great horror; some of the Spaniards, it is said, had been eye-witnesses of those barbarous rites. To the letter is subjoined a catalogue and description of the presents sent to the emperor. That published by Gomara, Chron. c. 29., seems to have been copied from it. Pet. Martyr describes many of the articles in his treatise De Insulis nuper inventis, p. 354., &c.

c

B. Diaz, c. 54. Gomara, Chron. c. 40.

d

Relaz. di Cortes. Ramus. iii. 225. B. Diaz, c. 57, 58. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 14.

e

B. Diaz, c. 41, 42. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 3, 4.

g

B. Diaz, c. 65.

h

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. c. 6. Gomara, Chron. c. 47.

i

B. Diaz, c. 66.

k

Cortes, Relaz. Ramus. iii. 228. C. Gomara, Chron. c. 48.

m

B. Diaz, c. 70. Gomara, Chron. c. 47. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. c. 7.

n

B. Diaz, c. 62. 65.

o

Cortes, Relaz. Ramus. iii. 229. B. Diaz, c. 69. Gomara, Chron. c. 51.

p

Cortes, Relaz. Ramus. iii. 230. B. Diaz, c. 72.

r

B. Diaz, c. 77. p. 54. c. 83. p. 61.

s

Torquemada, Monar. Ind. i. 281, 282. ii. 291. Gomara, Chron. c. 61. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 2.

t

Cortes, Relaz. Ramus. iii. 231. B. Diaz, c. 83. Gomara, Chron. c. 64. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 1, 2. See Note XII.

x

Cortes, Relaz. Ram. iii. 232—235. B. Diaz, c. 83—88. Gomara, Chron. c. 64, 65. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 3, 4, 5.

y

I am indebted to M. Clavigero for correcting an error of importance in my description of Mexico. From the east, where Tezeuco was situated, there was no causeway, as I have observed; and yet, by some inattention on my part, or on that of the printer, in all the former editions one of the causeways was said to lead to Tezeuco. M. Clavigero’s measurement of the length of these causeways differs somewhat from that which I have adopted from F. Torribio. Clavig. ii. p. 72.

z

F. Torribio, MS.

a

Cortes, Relaz. Ram. iii. 239. D. Relaz. della gran Città di Mexico, per un Gentilhuomo del Cortese. Ram. ibid. 304. E. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 14., &c.

b

B. Diaz, c. 85, 86.

c

Ibid. c. 94.

d

Cortes, Relaz. Ram. iii. 235. C.

e

B. Diaz, c. 93, 94. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. viii. c. 1.

f

B. Diaz, c. 95. Gomara, Chron. c. 83. Cortes, Relaz. Ram. iii. p. 235, 236. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. viii. c. 2, 3.

i

Cortes, Relaz. p. 236. E. B. Diaz, c. 97, 98, 99.

l

Cortes, Relaz. 238. D. B. Diaz, c. 101. Gomara, Chron. c. 92. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. x. c. 4.

m

Cortes, Relaz. p. 236. F. B. Diaz, c. 102, 103. Gomara, Chron. c. 90.

n

B. Diaz, c. 103.

o

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ix. c. 4.

r

B. Diaz, c. 54, 55. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. v. c. 14. Gomara, Chron. c. 96.

s

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iii. c. 11.

x

Hakluyt, vol. iii. 467. De Laet, Descr. Ind. Occid. 221.

y

Cortes, Relaz. 242. D. B. Diaz, c. 110—125. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ix. c. 18., &c. Gomara, Chron. c. 97., &c.

z

B. Diaz, c: 126.

b

M. Clavigero has censured me with asperity for relating this gallant action of the two Mexicans, and for supposing that there were battlements round the temple of Mexico. I related the attempt to destroy Cortes on the authority of Her. dec. ii. lib. x. c. 9., and of Torquemada, lib. iv. c. 69. I followed them likewise in supposing the uppermost platform of the temple to be encompassed by a battlement or rail.

c

Noche triste is the name by which it is still distinguished in New Spain.

e

Cortes, Relaz. p. 248. B. Diaz, c. 128. Gomara, Chron. c. 109. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. x. c. 11, 12.

f

Villa Señor Teatro Americano, lib. ii. c. 11.

g

Cortes, Relaz. p. 219. B. Diaz, c. 128. Gomara, Chron. c. 110. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. x. c. 12, 13.

h

Cortes, Relaz. p. 253. E. Gomara, Chron. c. 117.

i

B. Diaz, c. 131.

k

Cortes, Relaz. 253. F. B. Diaz, c. 133.

l

B. Diaz, c. 136.

m

Cortes, Relaz. 255. E.

n

Relaz. 256. A. B. Diaz, c. 137.

o

Cortes, Relaz. p. 253. E. 254. A. B. Diaz, c. 140.

p

B. Diaz, c. 129. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. x. c. 14. 19.

q

B. Diaz, c. 130.

r

Villa Senora, Theatro Americano, i. 156.

s

Cortes, Relaz. 256., &c. B. Diaz, c. 137. Gomara, Chron. c. 121. Herrera, dec. iii. c. 1.

t

Cortes, Relaz. 256—260. B. Diaz, c. 137—140. Gomara, Chron. c. 122, 123. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 1, 2.

u

Cortes, Relaz. 283. C. B. Diaz, c. 146. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 1.

x

Cortes, Relaz. 260. C. E. B. Diaz, c. 140.

y

Cortes, Relaz. 259. F. 262. D. Gomara, Chron. c. 129.

a

B. Diaz, c. 140.

b

Cortes, Relaz. 266. C. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 5. Gomara, Chron. c. 129.

c

Cortes, Relaz. 266. C.

d

Cortes, Relaz. 267. B. B. Diaz, c. 150. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 13.

e

Cortes, Relaz. 267. C. B. Diaz, c. 150. Gomara, Chron. c. 131. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 17.

f

Cortes, Relaz. 270. F.

g

B. Diaz, c. 151.

h

Cortes, Relaz. p. 273. B. Diaz, c. 152. Gomara, Chron. c. 138. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 20.

k

B. Diaz, c. 153. Gomara, Chron. c. 138.

l

Cortes, Relaz. p. 275. C. 276. F. B. Diaz, c. 153.

m

Cortes, Relaz. 276. E. 277. F. B. Diaz, c. 155. Gomara, Chron. c. 141.

n

Cortes, Relaz. 279. B. Diaz, c. 156. Gomara, Chron. c. 142. Herrera dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 7.

p

The gold and silver, according to Cortes, amounted only to 120,000 pesos, Relaz. 280. A., a sum much inferior to that which the Spaniards had formerly divided in Mexico.

q

B. Diaz, c. 157. Gomara, Chron. c. 146. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 8. Torquem. Mon. Ind. i. 574.

r

Cortes, Relaz. 280. D., &c. B. Diaz, c. 157.

s

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 17. Gomara, Chron. c. 149.

t

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. ii. c. 19. lib. iv. c. 9. Gomara, Hist. c. 91. Dalrymple’s Collect. of Voyages to the South Pacific Ocean, vol. i. p. 1., &c.

u

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. iv. c. 10. lib. ix. c. 10., &c. Gomara, Hist. c. 92. Pigafetta, Viaggio ap. Ramus. ii. p. 352., &c.

x

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. i. c. 3. 9. lib. iv. c. 1. Gomara, Chron. c. 93., &c. Pigafetta, ap. Ramus. ii. p. 361., &c.

y

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. vi. c. 5., &c. dec. iv. lib. v. c. 7., &c.

z

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iii. c. 16. dec. iv. c. 1. Cortes, Relaz. 281. E. B. Diaz, c. 158.

a

Hist. of Charles V. vol. ii. b. iii. p. 119.

b

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 3. Gomara, Chron. c. 164, 165. B. Diaz, c. 167, 168.

c

Cortes, Relaz. 291. C. Gomara, Chron. c. 155.

d

Gomara, Chron. c. 170. B. Diaz, c. 177. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. c. 9. See Note XXVI.

e

Herrera, dec. iv. et v. passim.

f

Herrera, dec. viii. lib. x. c. 21.

g

Cortes, Relaz. 283. F. B. Diaz, c. 209.

h

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 3.

i

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. v. c. 14.

l

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. c. 14, 15.

m

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. c. 15. dec. iv. lib. ii. c. 1. lib. iv. c. 9, 10. B. Diaz, c. 172. 196. Gomara, Chron. c. 166.

n

B. Diaz, c. 194.

o

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. viii.

q

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. i. lib. vi. c. 4. B. Diaz, c. 196. Gomara, Chron. c. 192.

r

Cortes, Relaz. Ram. iii. 294. B.

s

Herrera, dec. v. lib. viii. c. 9, 10. dec. viii. lib. vi. c. 14. Venegas, Hist. of Californ. i. 125. Lorenzana, Hist. p. 322., &c.

b

Calancha, Coronica, p. 100.

c

Herrera, dec. i. y ii. passim, dec. iv. lib. vi. c. 107. Gomara, Hist. c. 144. Zarate, lib. iv. c. 9.

d

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. vi. c. 13. Zarate, lib. i. c. 1.

e

Herrera, dec. iv. lib. ii. c. 8. Xerez, p. 179.

f

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. c. 11, 12. See Note XXX.

g

Zarate, lib. i. c. 1.

h

Xeres, 181. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. viii. c. 13.

i

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. x. c. 2, 3. Zarate, lib. i. c. 2. Xeres, 181. Gomara, Hist. c. 109.

l

Calancha, p. 103.

m

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. x. c. 3—6. dec. iv. lib. ii. c. 7, 8. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 10—14. Zarate, lib. i. c. 2. Benzo, Hist. Novi Orbis, lib. iii. c. 1.

n

Herrera, dec. iv. lib. iii. c. 1. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 14.

o

Herrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. c. 9.

p

Id. Ibid. lib. vii. c. 10.

q

Herrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. c. 9. Zarate, lib. i. c. 3. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 14.

r

Herrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. c. 9. lib. ii. c. 1. Xeres, 182.

s

P. Sancho, ap. Ramus. iii. p. 371. F. Herrera, dec. iv. lib. vii. c. 18. lib. ix. c. 1. Zarate, lib. ii. c. 2, 3. Xeres, p. 182., &c.

t

Cieca de Leon, Chron. c. 44. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. x. c. 4. dec. v. lib. iii. c. 17.

u

Zarate, lib. i. c. 15. Vega, i. lib. ix. c. 12. and 32—40. Herrera, dec. v. lib. i. c. 2. lib. iii. c. 17.

x

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 3.

z

Herrera, dec. v. lib. i. c. 3. Xeres, p. 189.

b

Xeres, p. 194.

e

Xeres, 205.

g

Xeres, 204. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 1, 2.

h

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 6. Gomara, Hist. c. 115. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 2.

i

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 3.

k

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 38.

l

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4.

m

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 7. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 7. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4.

n

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 38.

o

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 7. Xeres, p. 233. Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 36, 37. Gomara, Hist. c. 117. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4.

p

Vega, ii. lib. i. c. 37. Xeres, i. 235. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 5.

q

Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 7.

r

Herrera, dec. v. lib. ii. c. 12. lib. iii. c. 5.

s

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 8. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 3, 4.

t

Gomara, Hist. c. 125. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 1. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 5.

x

Herrera, dec. v. lib. v. c. 2.

y

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 9. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 9. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iv. c. 11, 12. lib. v. c. 2, 3. lib. vi. c. 3.

a

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 10—13. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 1, 2. 9., &c. Gomara, Hist. c. 126., &c. Remesal, Hist. Guatimal. lib. iii. c. 6. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. c. 1, 2. 7, 8.

c

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 3. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 19. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. c. 13.

d

Zarate, lib. ii. c. 13. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 19. Benzo, lib. iii. c. 6. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vii. c. 8.

e

Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. c. 12. lib. vii. c. 13. Calancha, Coronica, lib. i. c. 37. Barneuvo, Lima Fundada, ii. 294.

f

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 1. Gomara, Hist. c. 131. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 20. Ovalle, Hist. &c. de Chili, lib. iv. c. 15., &c. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. c. 9. lib. x. c. 1., &c.

g

Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 28. Zarate, lib. iii. c. 3. Cieca de Leon, c. 82. Gomara, Hist. c. 135. Herrera, dec. v. lib. viii. c. 5.

i

Herrera, dec. v. lib. viii. c. 4.

k

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 4. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 29. 31. Gomara, Hist. c. 134. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. ii. c. 1—5.

l

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 6. Gomara, Hist. c. 138. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 32. 34. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. ii. c. 9.

m

Herrera, dec. vi. lib. ii. c. 10, 11.

n

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 8. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. ii. c. 14.

o

Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iii. c. 9. Zarate, lib. iii. c. 9. Gomara, Hist. c. 140. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 35.

p

Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iii. c. 8.

q

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 8.

r

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 11, 12. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 36—38. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iii. c. 10—12. lib. iv. c. 1—6.

s

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 11. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 38.

t

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 12. Gomara, Hist. c. 141. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iv. c. 7.

u

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 12. Gomara, Hist. c. 141. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 39. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. iv. c. 9. lib. v. c. 1.

x

Gomara, Hist. c. 142. Vega, ii. lib. ii. c. 40. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. viii. c. 10, 11. lib. x. c. 1.

y

Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 2. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. viii. c. 5.

z

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 13. Ovalle, lib. ii. c. 1., &c.

a

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 2.

c

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 4. Gomara, Hist. c. 86. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 4. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. xi. c. 2—5. Rodriguez, El Maranon y Amazonas, lib. i. c. 3.

d

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 2—5. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 3, 4, 5. 14. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. viii. c. 7, 8. lib. ix. c. 2—5. dec. vii. lib. iii. c. 14. Pizar. Varones Illustr. 349., &c.

f

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 6—8. Gomara, Hist. c. 144, 145. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 5—7. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. x. c. 4—7. Pizarro, Var. Illust. p. 183.

g

Benzon, lib. iii. c. 9. Zarate, lib. iv. c. 11. Gomara, c. 146, 147. Herrera, dec. vi. lib. x. c. 1, 2, 3. 7., &c.

h

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 12—19. Gomara, c. 148. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 11—18. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. i. c. 1, 2, 3. lib. iii. c. 1—11.

i

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 21. Gomara, c. 150. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. iii. c. 12. lib. vi. c. 1.

k

Remesal, Hist. de Chiapa, p. 146.

l

Ibid. p. 192. 199.

n

Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vi. c. 5. Fernandez, Hist. lib. i. c. 1, 2.

o

Zarate, lib. iii. c. 24. Gomara, c. 151. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 20.

p

Fernandez, Hist. lib. i. c. 3, 4, 5. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 21, 22. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. v. c. 7. lib. vii. c. 14, 15. Torquem. Mond. Ind. lib. v. c. 13.

q

Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vii. c. 14, 15.

r

Gomara, c. 152. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vi. c. 10, 11. Vega, ii. lib. iii. c. 20. 22. lib. iv. c. 3, 4.

s

Zarate, lib. iv. c. 23, 24, 25. Gomara, c. 153—155. Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 4, 5. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 6—10.

t

Zarate, lib. v. c. 1. Gomara, c. 156, 157. Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 4—12. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 12—17. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. vii. c. 18., &c. lib. viii. c. 1—5.

u

Gomara, c. 171.

x

Zarate, lib. v. c. 8—10. Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 13—19. Gomara, c. 159—163. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 18—25. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. viii. c. 10—20.

y

Zarate, lib. v. c. 9. Gomara, c. 165. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 28. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. viii. c. 15.

z

Zarate, lib. v. c. 18. Gomara, c. 169. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. ix. c. 27.

b

Zarate, lib. v. c. 15, 16—24. Gomara, c. 167. Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 25—28. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 34. 40. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. viii. c. 16. 20—27.

c

Zarate, lib. v. c. 31, 32. Gomara, c. 170. Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 33, 34. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 51—54. Herrera, dec. vii. lib. x. c. 12. 19—22. dec. viii. lib. i. c. 1—3. Benzon, lib. iii. c. 12.

d

Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 40. Fernandez, lib. i. c. 34. lib. ii. c. 1. 49. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. ii. c. 10.

e

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 17.

f

Zarate, lib. vi. c. 6. Gomara, c. 174. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 14—16. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 1. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. i. c. 4., &c.

g

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 16—18.

h

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 21., &c. Zarate, lib. vi. c. 6, 7. Gomara, c. 175. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 3.

i

Zarate, lib. vi. c. 8. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 33, 34. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. ii. c. 9, 10.

k

Herrera, dec. viii. lib. iii. c. 1.

l

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 55. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 7. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. iii. c. 6.

m

Zarate, lib. vi. c. 13—16. Gomara, c. 180, 181. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 28. 64., &c.

o

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 2, 3. Gomara, c. 181. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 18., &c. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 79. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. iv. c. 1, 2.

p

Zarate, lib. vi. c. 17.

q

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 9. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 77. 82.

s

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 6. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 27.

t

Zarate, lib. vi. c. 11.

u

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 6, 7, 8. Gomara, c. 185, 186. Vega, ii. lib. v. c. 30. &c. Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 86., &c. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. iv. c. 14., &c.

x

Vega, ii. lib. iv. c. 38. 41.

y

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 54.

z

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 10. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. v. c. 7.

a

Gomara, c. 164.

b

Vega, ii. lib. vi. c. 3.

c

Herrera, dec. v. lib. ii. c. 3. dec. viii. lib. viii. c. 10.

e

Vega, ii. lib. vi. c. 4.

f

Zarate, lib. vii. c. 9. Gomara, c. 187. Vega, ii. lib. vii. c. 1., &c. Fernandez, p. 11. lib. i. c. 1., &c. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. iv. c. 17., &c.

g

Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 18.

h

MS. penes, me.

b

Herrera, dec. xi. lib. vii. c. 12.

c

Vega, i. lib. viii. c. 16. Zarate, lib. i. c. 14.

d

Acosta, lib. vi. c. 7. Torquem. Proem. lib. ii. iii. c. 6. lib. xiv. c. 6.

e

In the first edition, I observed that in consequence of the destruction of the ancient Mexican paintings, occasioned by the zeal of Zummaraga, whatever knowledge they might have conveyed was entirely lost. Every candid reader must have perceived that the expression was inaccurate; as, in a few lines afterwards, I mention some ancient paintings to be still extant. M. Clavigero, not satisfied with laying hold of this inaccuracy, which I corrected in the subsequent editions, labours to render it more glaring, by the manner in which he quotes the remaining part of the sentence. He reprehends with great asperity the account which I gave of the scanty materials for writing the ancient history of Mexico. Vol. i. Account of Writers, p. xxvi. Vol. ii. 380. My words, however, are almost the same with those of Torquemada, who seems to have been better acquainted with the ancient monuments of the Mexicans than any Spanish author whose works I have seen. Lib. xiv. c. 6. M. Clavigero himself gives a description of the destruction of ancient paintings in almost the same terms I have used; and mentions, as an additional reason of there being so small a number of ancient paintings known to the Spaniards, that the natives have become so solicitous to preserve and conceal them, that it is “difficult, if not impossible, to make them part with one of them.” Vol. i. 407. ii. 194. No point can be more ascertained than that few of the Mexican historical paintings have been preserved. Though several Spaniards have carried on enquiries into the antiquities of the Mexican empire, no engravings from Mexican paintings have been communicated to the public, except those by Purchas, Gemelli Carreri, and Lorenzana. It affords me some satisfaction, that in the course of my researches, I have discovered two collections of Mexican paintings which were unknown to former enquirers. The cut which I published is an exact copy of the original, and gives no high idea of the progress which the Mexicans had made in the art of painting. I cannot conjecture what could induce M. Clavigero to express some dissatisfaction with me for having published it without the same colours it has in the original painting, p. xxix. He might have recollected, that neither Purchas, nor Gemelli Carreri, nor Lorenzana, thought it necessary to colour the prints which they have published, and they have never been censured on that account. He may rest assured, that though the colours in the paintings in the imperial library are remarkably bright, they are laid on without art, and without “any of that regard to light and shade, or the rules of perspective,” which M. Clavigero requires. Vol. ii. 378. If the public express any desire to have the seven paintings still in my possession engraved, I am ready to communicate them. The print published by Gemelli Carreri, of the route of the ancient Mexicans when they travelled towards the lake on which they built the capital of their empire, (Churchill, vol. iv. p. 481.,) is the most finished monument of art brought from the New World; and yet a very slight inspection of it will satisfy every one, that the annals of a nation conveyed in this manner, must be very meagre and imperfect.

f

Acost. Hist. lib. vii. c. 8., &c.

g

Purchas, Pilgr. iii. p. 1068., &c.

h

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 18.

i

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 15. Torquem. Mon. Ind. lib. xiv. c. 7. Corita, MS.

l

Cortes, Relaz. ap. Ramus. iii. 239., &c. Gomara, Chron. c. 79. Torquem. lib. xiii. c. 34. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 15., &c.

m

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 17. Corita, MS.

n

Ibid. dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 7.

o

Ibid. dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 15. Corita, MS.

p

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 14.

r

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 14. Torquem. lib. ii. c. 69.

s

Ibid. dec. ii. lib. v. c. 10, 11. Torquem. lib. iv. c. 49.

t

Ibid. dec. ii. lib. viii. c. 12.

u

Torquem. lib. ii. c. 57. Corita, MS.

x

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 19. lib. iv. c. 16. Corita, MS.

y

Ibid. dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 17.

z

Acosta, lib. vi. c. 24. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 13. Corita, MS.

a

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 13. dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 16, 17. See Note LI.

c

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. viii. c. 4. Torribio, MS.

d

Relaz. di Cort. Ramus. iii. 294. F.

f

As a specimen of the spirit and style in which M. Clavigero makes his strictures upon my History of America, I shall publish his remarks upon this passage. “Thus far Robertson; to whom we answer, first, That there is no reason to believe that those rude works were really Mexican; secondly, That neither do we know whether those persons in whose judgment he confides, may be persons fit to merit our faith, because we have observed that Robertson trusts frequently to the testimony of Gage, Correal, Ibañez, and other such authors, who are entirely undeserving of credit; thirdly, It is more probable that the arms of copper, believed by those intelligent judges to be certainly oriental, are really Mexican.” Vol. ii. 391. When an author, not entirely destitute of integrity or discernment, and who has some solicitude about his own character, asserts that he received his information concerning any particular point from persons “on whose judgment and taste he can rely;” a very slender degree of candour, one should think, might induce the reader to believe that he does not endeavour to impose upon the public by an appeal to testimony altogether unworthy of credit. My information concerning the Mexican works of art deposited in the King of Spain’s cabinet, was received from the late Lord Grantham, ambassador extraordinary from the court of London to that of Madrid, and from Mr. Archdeacon Waddilove, chaplain to the embassy; and it was upon their authority that I pronounced the coat of armour, mentioned in the note, to be of oriental fabric. As they were both at Madrid in their public character when the first edition of the History of America was published, I thought it improper at that time to mention their names. Did their decision concerning a matter of taste, or their testimony concerning a point of fact, stand in need of confirmation, I might produce the evidence of an intelligent traveller, who, in describing the royal cabinet of Madrid, takes notice that it contains “specimens of Mexican and Peruvian utensils, vases, &c. in earthen-ware, wretched both in taste and execution.” Dillon’s Travels through Spain, p. 77. As Gage composed his Survey of New Spain with all the zeal and acrimony of a new convert, I have paid little regard to his testimony with respect to points relating to religion. But as he resided in several provinces in New Spain, which travellers seldom visit, and as he seems to have observed their manners and laws with an intelligent eye, I have availed myself of his information with respect to matters where religious opinion could have little influence. Correal I have seldom quoted, and never rested upon his evidence alone. The station in which Ibanez was employed in America, as well as the credit given to his veracity by printing his Reyno Jesuitico among the large collection of documents published (as I believe by authority) at Madrid, ad 1767, justifies me for appealing to his authority.

g

Divine Legat. of Moses, iii. 73.

h

Sir W. Johnson, Philos. Transact. vol. lxiii. p. 143. Mém. de la Hontan, ii. 191. Lafitau, Mœurs des Sauv. ii. 43.

k

Acosta, lib. vi. c. 2.

l

The Mexican mode of computing time, and every other particular relating to their chronology, have been considerably elucidated by M. Clavigero, vol. i. 288.; vol. ii. 225., &c. The observations and theories of the Mexicans concerning those subjects discover a greater progress in speculative science than we find among any people in the New World.

m

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 15. Gomara, Chron. c. 217.

o

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 18. Gomara, Chron. c. 202.

p

Relaz. ap. Ramus. iii. 306. A. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 17. dec. ii. lib. vi. c. 16.

q

Gomara, Chron. c. 208. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. iv. c. 16.

r

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. x. c. 15. 21. B. Diaz, c. 130.

s

Ibid. dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 10.

t

B. Diaz, c. 166. 176.

u

Herrera, dec. iii. lib. vii. c. 8.

x

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. c. 12.

y

Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vii. c. 17.

c

M. l’Abbé Raynal, Hist. Philos. et Polit. &c. iii. 127.

d

Cortes, Relaz. ap. Ramus. iii. 240., &c. B. Diaz, c. 82. Acosta, lib. v. c. 13., &c. Herrera, dec. iii. lib. ii. c. 15., &c. Gomara, Chron. c. 80., &c. See Note LIX.

f

Hist. lib. vi. c. 8.

g

Lib. l. c. 10.

h

Ante, Book VI. p. 156., &c.

i

Zarate, lib. i. c. 13.

k

Vega, lib. ii. c. 6.

l

Acosta, lib. v. c. 3.

n

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iv. c. 4. Vega, lib. v. c. 12.

o

Ibid. dec. v. lib. iv. c. 8.

p

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iv. c. 2. Vega, lib. v. c. 5.

q

Herrera, dec. v. lib. iii. c. 4. lib. x. c. 8.

r

Ibid. dec. v. lib. iv. c. 1.

s

Zarate, lib. i. c. 14. Vega, lib. i. c. 8.

t

Zarate, lib. i. c. 4. Vega, lib. v. c. 1. y 24.

u

Acosta, lib. iv. c. 37. Vega, lib. v. c. 3. See Note LXII.

x

Zarate, lib. i. c. 8.

y

Vega, lib. v. c. 2.

a

Cieca, c. 60.

b

Xeres, p. 189. 191. Zarate, lib. i. c. 13, 14. Vega, lib. ix. c. 13. Bouguer, Voyage, p. 105. Ulloa, Entretenimientos, p. 365.

d

Sancho, ap. Ram. iii. 376. B. Zarate, lib. i. c. 14. Vega, lib. iii. c. 7, 8. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iv. c. 3, 4.

e

Ulloa, Voy. i. 67., &c.

f

Ramus. iii. 414. A.

g

Acosta, lib. iv. c. 4, 5. Vega, i. lib. viii. c. 25. Ulloa, Entreten. 258.

h

Ulloa, Voy. tom. i. 381., &c. Id. Entreten. p. 369., &c.

i

Zarate, lib. i. c. 9. Herrera, dec. v. lib. vi. c. 4.

k

Acosta, lib. vi. c. 15. Vega, lib. v. c. 9. Herrera, dec. v. lib. iv. c. 4.

l

Vega, lib. vi. c. 8.

m

Xeres, 190. Sancho, ap. Ram. iii. 372. Herrera, dec. v. lib. i. c. 3.

n

Acosta, lib. v. c. 7.

o

Xeres, p. 190. Sancho, Ram. iii. 372. C. Herrera, dec. v. lib. i. c. 3.

q

Ante, Book V. p. 138.

s

Venegas, Hist. of California, i. 26.

t

Lorenzano, 349, 350.

u

Treaty of Paris, Art. xviii.

x

Real Cedula, Campomanes, iii. 145.

z

Ante, Book VI. p. 189., &c.

a

Campomanes, ii. 157.

b

Vol. I. Book II. p. 142.

c

Civedo y Banos, Hist. de Venezuela, p. 11., &c.

d

Vol. II. Book IV. p. 329., &c.

e

Piedrahita, Hist. del N. Reyno, p. 481. MS. penes me.

a

Torquemada, i. 613.

b

B. Diaz, c. 124. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. x. c. 4. Ulloa, Entreten. 206.

c

Torquem. 615. 642, 643. See Note LXVIII.

i

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 23. 255.

k

Ulloa, Voy. i. 432. Gage, 61.

m

Recop. lib. ii. tit. xv. l. 35. 38. 44. lib. iii. tit. iii. l. 36, 37.

n

Solorz. de Jure Ind. lib. iv. c. 3. n. 40, 41. Recop. lib. ii. tit. xv. l. 36. lib. iii. tit. iii. l. 34. lib. v. tit. ix. l. 1.

o

Recop. lib. ii. tit. xv. l. 57., &c.

p

Ibid. lib. v. tit. xiii. l. 1., &c.

q

Recop. lib. ii. tit. ii. l. 1, 2., &c.

r

Solorz. de Jure Ind. lib. iv. c. 12.

s

Recop. lib. ix. tit. i. Veitia, Norte de la Contratacion, lib. i. p. 1.

u

B. Ulloa, Rétab. des Manuf. &c. p. 206.

x

Recopil. lib. ix. tit. xxvii. l. 1. 4. 7., &c.

z

Dr. Smith’s Inquiry, ii. 166.

a

Recop. lib. iv. tit. iii. l. 24.

b

Ante, Book VI. p. 245.

d

Recop. lib. i. tit. xiv. l. 2.

e

Id. ibid. l. 3 y 4.

f

Recopil. lib. ix. tit. xxvi. l. 15, 16.

h

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 27. 251. Voy. de Frezier, 227.

i

Gage’s Survey, p. 9. Frezier, 226.

k

Recopil. lib. vi. tit. i. l. 2. Herrera, dec. i. lib. v. c. 12. dec. iii. lib. vii. c. 2.

l

Voy. de Ulloa, i. p. 27.

m

Ibid. i. 29. Voy. de Bouguer, p. 104. Melendez, Thesoros Verdaderos, i. 354.

n

Gage, p. 56. Voy. de Ulloa, i. 451.

o

Recopil. lib. vii. tit. v. l. 7. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. vii. c. 12. Frezier, 244.

p

See Note LXXIX. Recopil. lib. vi. tit. v. l. 42. Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 461.

q

Recopil. lib. vi. tit. viii. l. 48. Solorz. de Jure Ind. lib. ii. c. 16.

s

Recop. lib. vi. tit. xiii. l. 19. Solorz. de Jure Ind. ii. lib. i. c. 6, 7. 9.

t

Recop. lib. vi. tit. xiii. l. 8. Solorz. lib. i. c. 7. N°. 41., &c.

x

Recop. lib. vi. tit. xii. l. 21.

y

Recopil. lib. vi. l. 22.

a

Ulloa, Entreten. 265, 266.

b

Recopil. lib. vi. tit. xii. l. 3.

c

Recopil. lib. vi. tit. xii. l. 29. tit. i. l. 13. See Note LXXXIII.

d

Solorz. de Jure Ind. lib. i. c. 26. Recopil. lib. vi. tit. vii.

e

Solorz. lib. i. c. 17. p. 201. Recopil. lib. vi. tit. vi.

f

Recop. lib. vi. tit. v. l. 30. tit. xvi. l. 12—15.

g

Ibid. lib. vi. tit. iv. l. 13.

h

Ibid. lib. i. tit. iv. l. 1., &c.

i

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 429. 509. Churchill, iv. 496.

l

Gage’s Survey, p. 85. 90. 104. 119., &c.

m

Bulla Alex. VI. ad 1501, ap. Solorz. de Jure Ind. ii. p. 498.

n

Bulla Julii II. 1508, ap. Solorz. de Jure Ind. ii. 509.

o

Recopil. lib. i. tit. ix. l. 2. and Autos del Consejo de las Indias, clxi.

p

Recop. lib. i. tit. vii. l. 55.

q

Ibid. lib. i. passim.

r

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 430.

s

Voy. de Ulloa, ii. 124.

t

Herrera, dec. v. lib. ix. c. 1, 2. Recop. lib. i. tit. iii. l. 1, 2. tit. iv. c. 2. Solorz. lib. iii. c. 23.

x

Avendaño, Thes. Indic. ii. 253.

a

Real Cedula, MS penes me.

b

P. Torribio, MS. Torquem. Mon. Ind. lib. xvi. c. 6.

c

Torribio, MS. Torquem. lib. xvi. c. 8.

d

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 341. Torquem. lib. xv. c. 23. lib. xvi. c. 28. Gage, 171.

e

Torquem. lib. xvi. c. 20.

f

Id. ibid. c. 25. Garcia, Origen, 311, &c.

g

Voy. de Ulloa, i. 343.

h

Recop. lib. vi. tit. i. l. 35.

i

Torquem. lib. xvii. c. 13. See Note LXXXVIII.

k

Fernandez, p. i. lib. xi. c. 11.

l

Uztariz, Theor. y Pract. de Commercia, c. 3. Herrera, dec. viii. lib. xi. c. 15. See