« AnteriorContinuar »
6. the arts with which they were acquainted; 7. their religious ideas and inftitutions; 8. fuch fingular and detached customs as are not reducible to any of the former heads. Under these heads he has collected almost every particular concerning the American tribes, which the reader can form a wish to know. Though he claims not perhaps the merit of being a practifed naturalift, he has availed himself with much advantage of the ftores amaffed by that clafs of writers, and has formed from them a picture more ftriking and complete than is to be found in the original authors: We are forry that this very interefting part of the work, confifting of an infinite variety of particulars, admits no abridgement, by which we might gratify the curiofity of our readers; we therefore refer them to the Hiftory, where they will find their trouble repaid with much pleasure and instruction.
The inhabitants of Cuba, ambitious to diftinguish themfelves by fome enterprize of importance, and guided by the opinion of Columbus, who always maintained that the moft valuable discoveries were to be expected by failing toward the Weit, had dispatched, at different times, two fmall fquadrons to explore the regions in the bays of Honduras and Campeachy, before they equipt the armament intended for the conquest of Mexico. Thefe fquadrons difcovered and failed along a great part of the coaft of Yucatan, and returned to Cuba with fuch favourable accounts of the country and inhabitants, as infpired Velfaquez, governor of that fettlement, with the moft ardent defire to add these territories to the dominions of Spain. He accordingly fitted out, at his own expence and that of the colony, a small fleet, confifting of eleven ships, the largest of which did not exceed 100 tons; and embarked on board of it 617 men, 508 of whom were soldiers. Thirteen only of these foldiers were armed with muskets; 32 had cross-bows, and the reft, fwords and fpears. Their artillery confifted of 10 fmall field pieces, drawn by 16 horfes. With this contemptible armament did Fernando Cortes, on whom Velasquez had conferred the fupreme command, fet fail in order to conquer an empire 500 leagues in length, and 200 in breadth.
Cortes held a courfe directly weft toward the coaft of Yucatan, and penetrating to the bottom of the bay of Campeachy, landed at St. Juan de Ulua on the third day of April, in the year 1519. Montezuma, emperor of Mexico, had got intelligence of the Spaniards in their former expeditions, and had iffued orders refpe&ting the conduct of his governors in that quarter, in cafe they fhould receive any future vifit from thefe ftrangers. Accordingly, before Cortes had time to land his troops, the governor of the adjacent province, attended by E 2
fome perfons of eminence, came on board, and informed him that they were fent by Montezuma to demand his reasons for vifiting their country, and to offer him any affiftance which might be neceffary for profecuting his voyage. Cortes affured them that he approached their coafts with the most friendly intentions; that he came as ambaffador from don Carlos, king of Caftile, the greatest monarch of the Eaft; and was entrufted with propofals of fuch moment, that he could impart them to none but Montezuma himself.' During this interview, fome painters in the train of the Mexican chiefs were employed in delineating on cotton cloths, figures of the ships, horfes, artillery, and whatever attracted their attention, in order to convey them to the emperor. Cortes, with much addrefs, feized this opportunity of conquering the imaginations of the Mexicans before he should attack them with his forces. He immediately landed his troops. The trumpets founded an alarm; and the foldiers were ordered to perform fuch exercises as were beft adapted to display the effect of their arms. The Mexicans ftood filent and motionless with amazement; but when Cortes pointed his artillery towards the thick woods which furrounded his camp, and when they heard the explosions and saw the havoc made by the fhot among the trees, they were perfe&ly confounded; fome of them fell to the ground, and all of them confidered the Spaniards as a race of beings superior to men, and little inferior to the gods themfelves.
After various rencounters with the natives in the course of his march to Mexico, the capital of the empire, in which the latter were always repulfed with great lofs, while the Spaniards fuffered very little damage, Cortes finally reached that city.
Montezuma received Cortes with much respect, and afforded him every accommodation his capital would fupply. The latter, notwithstanding, soon began to be uneafy in his fituation. Every advantage was on the fide of the Mexicans, except military difcipline, and the ufe of fire arms. They were extremely numerous, their refources were great; and as their reverence for the Spaniards would gradually abate in proportion to their acquaintance with them, it was not to be expected that with fuch a handful of men, Cortes could long maintain his ground. In this critical conjuncture he adopted the bold meafure of feizing the emperor in his palace, and of carrying him captive to the Spanish quarters. He wished to retain the perfon of Montezuma as a fecurity for the peaceable behaviour of his fubjects, and to difconcert their operations in cafe they fhould attempt any act of violence. He had fcarcely projected
this daring plan, before he executed it without refiftance, and foon after prevailed with his prifoner to acknowledge himself a, vaffal of the king of Castile.
These repeated indignities at laft rouzed the Mexicans to a degree of fury. They preffed the Spaniards fo closely on every; fide, and regarded fo little the dangers to which they were expofed, that Cortes plainly perceived he could not long repel their attacks. In this fituation he had recourfe to the authority of the emperor. He perfuaded that monarch to prefent himself on the fortifications, dreffed in his royal robes, in or-, der to command his fubjects to defift from hoftilities. At the
ght of Montezuma every act of violence ceased, and the people stood filent, with reverence and attention. But when they heard him enjoin forbearance and fubmiflion, their refentment kept no bounds. They attacked him with ftones and other miffile weapons, fo that all the power and dexterity. of the Spaniards were infufficient to protect him. The wounds he received on this occafion, added to the depreffion of mind arifing from the defperate ftate of his affairs, in a few days put a . period to his life, in fpite of all the efforts of Cortes to confole him.
Matters were now advanced to a crifis paft all hope of accommodation; and Cortes determined to conquer Mexico, or die in the attempt. Having therefore received a reinforcement of 180 men and zo horfes, he laid fiege to the city. The Mexicans defended their capital feventy-five days, and during that time, exhibited every fpecimen of courage and conduct which could be expected from men little acquainted with military discipline, and terrified by the dreadful explosion of fire arms. The Spaniards, however, prevailed, and, along with the capital, fubjected the empire to the crown of Caftile, without having received aid or encouragement of any fort from the monarch to whofe dominions they made fuch a valuable addition.
From the time that Nugnez Balboa, governor of Darien, had difcovered the Pacific Ocean in the year 1517, no attempt had been made to explore the western coaft of America towards the fouth, and, of course, the extenfive and opulent empire of Peru ftill remained unknown. At length, in the year 1530, Francifco Pizarro, affifted by Diego de Almagro, and Hernando Luque, all inhabitants of Panama, undertook this enterprize; and their efforts were crowned with fuccefs. Before he engaged in this expedition, Pizarro returned to Spain, in order to try what affiftance he could procure from the crown towards equipping the armament it required. But though Charles and his minifters were abundantly lavish in their praifes
of the heroic fpirit he difplayed; and approved in the ftrongest terms of his defign, they would not confent to afford him any aid. All he could obtain was to be appointed governor and captain-general of the country which he should difcover; and though he was to conquer for the benefit of the king of Caftile, he was left to find the means of conqueft in his own refources.
After expending all his fortune, and ftretching to the utmoft his own credit and that of his friends, the armament he could procure feemed altogether inadequate to the purpose he had in view. It confifted only of three fmall fhips, in which were embarked 180 foldiers, 36 of whom were horsemen. But fuch was the spirit of enterprize, and the rage of conquest, in the fixteenth century, that even with this moft contemptible force, Pizarro did not hesitate to invade an empire 1500 miles in length,
This bold adventurer, following the example of his countryman Cortes, in his expedition against Mexico, pretended, on his landing in the Peruvian dominions, that he was animated with the moft amicable difpofition, had come as ame baffador from a great monarch of the Eaft, and was invested with a commiffion of fuch importance, that he could communicate it only to the emperor himself. Deceived by these artful affurances of the perfidious Spaniard, the Peruvians permitted him to march without moleftation through the heart of their country, till he arrived at Caxa Malca, near which the Inca then had pitched his camp. At this place he demanded an interview, and knowing well the advantage which Cortes derived from having in cuftody the perfon of Montezuma, he determined, at his firft audience, to feize in like manner the perfon of Atahualpa, emperor of Peru.
Early in the morning, (of the day of the audience) the Peruvian camp was all in motion. But as Atahualpa was folicitous to appear with the greatest fplendor and magnificence in his firft interview with the ftrangers, the preparations for this were fo tedious, that the day was far advanced before he began his march. Even then, left the order of the proceffion thould be deranged, he moved fo lowly, that the Spaniards became impatient and apprehenfive that some suspicion of their intention might be the cause of this delay. In order to remove this, Pizarro dispatched one of his of ficers with fresh affurances of his friendly difpofition. At length the Inca approached. First of all appeared four hundred men, in an uniform drefs, as harbingers to clear the way before him. He himself, fitting on a throne or couch, adorned with plumes of various colours, and almoft covered with plates of gold and filver enriched with precious ftones, was carried on the fhoulders of his principal attendants. Behind him came fome chief officers of his court, carried in the fame manner. Several bands of fingers and dancers accompanied this cavalcade; and the whole plain was
covered with troops, amounting to more than thirty thousand
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 difcourfe explained to him the doctrine of the creation, the fall of Adam, the incarnation, the fufferings and refurrection of Jefus Chrift, the ap pointment of St. Peter as God's vicegerent on earth, the tranfmif
on of his apoftolic power by fucceffion to the popes, the donation made to the king of Caftile by pope Alexander of all the regions in the new world. In confequence of all this, he required Atahualpa to embrace the Chriftian faith, to acknowledge the fupreme jurifdiction of the pope, and to fubmit to the king of Caftile as his lawful fovereign; promifing, if he complied instantly with this requifition, that the Caftilian monarch would protect his dominions, and permit him to continue in the exercise of his royal authority; but if he fhould impiously refufe to obey this fummons, he denounced war against him in his master's name, and threatened him with the most dreadful effects of his vengeance.
This firange harangue, unfolding deep myfteries, and alluding to unknown facts, of which no power of eloquence could have conveyed at once a diftinct idea to an American, was fo lamely tranflated by an unfkilful interpreter, little acquainted with the idiom of the Spanish tongue, and incapable of expreffing himself with propriety in the language of the Inca, that its general tenor was altogether incomprehenfible to Atahualpa. Some parts in it, of more obvious meaning, filled him with aftonishment and indignation. His reply, however, was temperate. He began with obferving, that he was lord of the dominions over which he reigned by hereditary fucceffion; and added, that he could not conceive how a foreign prieft fhould pretend to difpofe of territories which did not belong to him; that if fuch a prepofterous grant had been made, he, who was the rightful poffeffor, refufed to confirm it; that he had no inclination to renounce the religious inftitutions established by his ancestors; nor would he forfake 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 fubject to death; that with respect to other matters contained in his difcourfe, as he had never heard of them before, and did not now understand their meaning, he defired to know where he had learned things fo extraordinary. "In this book," anfwered Valverde, reaching out to him his breviary. The Inca opened it eagerly, and turning over the leaves, lifted it to his ear: "This," fays he, "is filent; it tells me nothing;" and threw it with disdain to the ground. The enraged monk, running towards his countrymen, cried out, “To arms, Chriftians, to arms; the word of God is infuited; avenge this profanation on thofe impious dogs."
Pizarro, who, during this long conference, had with difficulty reftrained his foldiers, eager to feize the rich fpoils of which they had now fo near a view, immediately gave the fignal of afault. At once the martial mufic ftruck up, the cannon and mufkets began to fire, the horse fallied out fiercely to the charge, the infantry rushed on fword in hand., The Peruvians, alonifhed at the fuddennefs of an attack which they did not expect, and difmayed with the deftructive effects of the fire-arms, and the irrefiftible impreffion of the cavalry, fled with univerfal confternation on every fide, without attempting either to annoy the enemy, or to defend themselves. E 4