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Wilson, T / Peter Parley's Tales About America and Australia
"From that spot" exclaimed one
of the Indian guides, pointing to the height above them "may be seen the
great sea of which you are in search."

When Balboa heard this, he commanded his men to halt, and forbade any
one to stir from his place. He was resolved to be the first European who
should look upon that sea, which he had been the first to discover.

Accordingly he ascended the mountain height alone, and when he reached
the summit he beheld the wide sea glittering in the morning sun.

Balboa called to his little troop to ascend the height and look upon the
glorious prospect; and they joined him without delay.

"Behold, my friends," said he, "the reward of all our toils, a sight
upon which the eye of Spaniard never rested before."

He now took possession of the sea-coast and the surrounding country in
the name of the king of Spain.

He then had a tree cut down, and made into the form of a cross, and
planted it on the spot from which he had first beheld the sea. He also
made a mound by heaping up large stones upon which he carved the names
of the king of Spain.

The Indians saw all this done, and while they helped to pile the stones
and set up the cross, they little thought that they were assisting to
deprive themselves of their homes and their country.

You remember the noble reproof of Canute in the "History of England," to
his flatterers, when they assured him that even the waves of the sea
would obey him: but this arrogant and weak minded Spaniard waded into
the waves of the great Pacific Ocean, up to his knees, and absurdly took
possession of it in the name of the Spanish monarch.

[Illustration]

Balboa was some time employed in fighting with the Indian tribes that
inhabited the sea-coast, and in hunting them with blood-hounds.

He soon made these helpless people submit. From them he got some
further accounts of the rich country which the Indian prince had
mentioned, and which proved afterwards to be Peru.

He now quitted the shores of the Pacific Ocean on his return across the
mountains of Darien. His route homewards was different from that which
he had before pursued, and the sufferings of his troops much greater.

Often they could find no water, the heat having dried up the pools and
brooks. Many died from thirst, and those who survived, although loaded
with gold, were exhausted for want of food; for the poor Indians brought
gold and jewels, instead of food, as peace offerings to the Spaniards.

At length, after much slaughter of the Indians that dwelt in the
mountains, and burning of the villages, Balboa and his troops arrived at
Darien; having robbed the Indians of all the gold and silver they could
find. The Spaniards at Darien received with great delight and praise the
news of his success and discovery--a discovery gained at the expense of
much unnecessary cruelty and injustice.

He now despatched a ship to Spain, with the news of his discovery, and
by it he sent part of the gold he had carried off from the different
Indian tribes.

A few days before this ship reached Spain a new governor had been sent
out, by name Padrarias Davila, to take Balboa's place, and with orders
to punish Balboa for his conduct to Enciso.

But when he arrived at Darien, and saw how much the discoverer of the
Pacific was beloved by all the Spaniards of the settlement he hesitated
through fear, and finally resolved to defer the execution of the orders
which he had brought with him.

Davila permitted Balboa to depart from Darien for the purpose of
building brigantines with a view to navigate and explore the Pacific
Ocean. Three years had elapsed since he discovered this ocean, and with
joy he now prepared to build the ships which were to be the first
belonging to Europeans to sail upon it.

Balboa having overcome all his difficulties, had the satisfaction of
seeing two brigantines finished and floating on a river which they
called the Balsas.

As soon as they had been made ready for sea, he embarked with some of
his followers, and sailing down the river, was the first to launch into
the ocean that he had been the first to discover. But his death was now
about to put a stop to his further discoveries.

The new governor, Davila, who was a bad and cruel man, and envious of
Balboa, on account of the discoveries he had made, had long resolved to
put him to death.

The time having, as he thought, arrived, which was favourable for his
villanous design, he sent for Balboa to return, and on his arrival he
had him seized by one of his early friends and followers, Franciso
Pizarro, and then, after throwing him into prison, he ordered him to be
put to death by having his head cut off.

This unjust sentence was executed, and Balboa, after a mock trial, was
publicly beheaded, in the 48th year of his age.




CHAPTER X.

PARLEY TELLS OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO.


Not long after this another expedition sailed from Cuba, under the
command of Cordova, to make further discoveries on the new continent.

The first land they saw proved to be the eastern cape of that large
peninsula which you see in the map projecting into the gulf of Mexico,
and which still retains its original name of Yucatan.

As they approached the shore, five canoes came off full of people
decently clad in cotton garments; this excited the wonder of the
Spaniards, who had found every other part they had yet visited,
possessed by naked savages.

Cordova endeavoured to gain their good-will by presents, but perceived
they were preparing to attack him; and, as his water began to fail, he
sailed further along the coast in hopes of procuring a supply, but not a
single river did he find all along that coast till he came to Potonchon,
in the bay of Campeachy, which is on the western side of the peninsula.

Here Cordova landed all his troops, in order to protect the sailors
while filling their casks; but, notwithstanding, the natives rushed down
upon them with such fury and in such numbers, that forty-seven of the
Spaniards were killed upon the spot, and one man only of the whole body
escaped unhurt.

Cordova, though wounded in twelve places, led off his wounded men with
great presence of mind and fortitude, and with much difficulty they
reached their ships, and hastened back to Cuba. Cordova died of his
wounds soon after his arrival.

Notwithstanding the ill success of this expedition, another was shortly
after fitted out under the command of Grijalva, a young man of known
merit and courage. He directed his course to the bay of Campeachy, to
the part from which Cordova had returned, and as they advanced they saw
many villages scattered along the coast, in which they could distinguish
houses of stone that appeared white and lofty at a distance.

In the warmth of their admiration, they fancied these to be cities,
adorned with towers and pinnacles; and one of the soldiers happening to
remark that this country resembled Spain in appearance, Grijalva, with
universal applause, called it New Spain; the name which still
distinguishes this extensive and opulent province of the Spanish
dominions.

They landed to the west of Tabasco, where they were received with the
respect due to superior beings; the people perfumed them as they landed
with incense of gum copal, and presented to them offerings of the
choicest delicacies of their country.

They were extremely fond of trading with their new visitants, and in six
days, the Spaniards obtained ornaments of gold, and of curious
workmanship, to the amount of fifteen thousand pesoes, an immense sum,
in exchange for European toys of small price.

They learned from the natives that they were the subjects of a great
monarch, whose dominions extended over that and many other provinces.

Grijalva now returned with a full account of the important discoveries
he had made, and with all the treasure he had acquired by trafficking
with the natives.

The favourable account of New Spain brought by Grijalva, determined
Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, seriously to undertake the conquest of
that country, but as he did not wish to take the command himself, he
endeavoured to find a person who would act under his directions.

After much deliberation he fixed upon Fernando Cortez, a man of restless
and ardent spirit, on whom he had conferred many benefits; but these
Cortez soon forgot, and was no sooner invested with the command than he
threw off the authority of Velasquez altogether.

The greatest force that could be collected for the conquest of a great
empire, amounted to no more than five hundred and eight men, only
thirteen of whom were armed with muskets; thirty-two were cross-bowmen,
and the rest had swords and spears; they had only sixteen horses, and
ten small field-pieces.

With such a slender and ill provided force did Cortez set sail to make
war upon a monarch whose dominions were more extensive than all the
kingdoms subject to the Spanish crown.

On his voyage Cortez first landed on the island of Cozumel, where he
redeemed from slavery Jerome de Aguilar, a Spaniard, who had been eight
years a prisoner among the Indians, and having learned the Yucatan
language (which is spoken in all those parts), proved afterwards
extremely useful as an interpreter.

He then proceeded to the river of Tabasco, where the disposition of the
natives proved very hostile, and they showed the most determined
resistance; but the noise of the artillery, the appearances of the
floating fortresses which brought the Spaniards over the ocean, and the
horses on which they fought, all new objects to the natives, inspired
them with astonishment mingled with terror; they regarded the Spaniards
as gods, and sent them supplies of provisions, with a present of some
gold and twenty female slaves.

Cortez here learned that the native sovereign, who was called Montezuma,
reigned over an extensive empire, and that thirty vassals, called
caziques, obeyed him; that his riches were immense, and his power
absolute. No more was necessary to inflame the ambition of Cortez, and
the avarice of his followers.

He then proceeded along the coast till he came to St. Juan de Ulua,
where, having laid the foundation of Vera Cruz, he caused himself to be
elected Captain-general of the new colony.

Here he was visited by two native caziques, whose names were Teutile and
Pilpatoe, who entered his camp with a numerous retinue, and informed
him that they were persons entrusted with the government of that
province by a great monarch, whom they called Montezuma, and that they
were sent to inquire what his intentions were in visiting their coast,
and to offer him what assistance he might need.

Cortez received them with much formal ceremony, and informed them that
he came from Don Carlos of Austria, the greatest monarch of all the
east, with propositions of such moment, that he could impart them to
none but the emperor himself; and requested them to conduct him, without
loss of time, into the presence of their master.

Messengers were immediately despatched to Montezuma, with a full account
of everything that had passed.

The Mexican monarch, in order to obtain early information, had couriers
posted along the road, and the intelligence was conveyed by a very
curious contrivance called picture writing, persons being employed to
represent, in a series of pictures, everything that passed, which was
the Mexican mode of writing: Teutile and Pilpatoe were employed to
deliver the answer of their master, but as they knew how repugnant it
was to the wishes and schemes of the Spanish commander, they would not
make it known till they had first endeavoured to soothe and pacify him.
For this purpose they introduced a train of a hundred Indians loaded
with presents sent to him by Montezuma.

The magnificence of these far exceeded any idea which the Spaniards had
formed of his wealth.

They were placed on mats spread on the ground, in such order as showed
them to the greatest advantage. Cortez and his officers viewed with
admiration the various manufactures of the country. Cotton stuffs so
fine as to resemble silk. Pictures of animals, trees, and other natural
objects, formed with feathers of different colours, disposed with such
skill and elegance, as to resemble, in truth and beauty of imitation,
the finest paintings. But what chiefly attracted their eyes were two
large plates of circular form; one of massive gold, representing the
sun, the other of silver, an emblem of the moon. These were accompanied
with bracelets, collars, rings, and other trinkets of gold, and with
several boxes filled with pearls, precious stones, and grains of gold
unwrought, as they had been found in the mines or rivers.

Cortez received all these with an appearance of profound respect for the
monarch by whom they were bestowed; but when the Mexican informed him
that their master 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 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 princes whom he
was appointed by his sovereign to visit.

He first caused all his vessels to be burnt, in order to cut off the
possibility of retreat, and to show his soldiers that they must either
conquer or perish. He then penetrated into the interior of the country,
drew to his camp several caziques, hostile to Montezuma, and induced
these native princes to assist him.

After surmounting every obstacle he arrived with his army in sight of
the immense lake on which was built the city of Mexico, the capital of
the empire.

In descending from the mountains of Chalco, the vast plain of Mexico
opened gradually to their view, displaying a prospect the most striking
and beautiful: fertile and cultivated fields, stretched out further than
the eye could reach, a lake resembling the sea in extent, encompassed
with large towns, and the capital city rising upon an island, adorned
with temples and turrets.

Many messengers arrived one after another from Montezuma, one day
permitting them to advance, on the next requiring them to retire, as his
hopes or fears alternately prevailed, and so wonderful was his
infatuation that Cortez was almost at the gates of the capital before
the monarch had determined whether to receive him as a friend or oppose
him as an enemy, but as no signs of hostility appeared, the Spaniards
continued their march along the causeway which led to Mexico through the
lake with great circumspection, though without seeming to suspect the
prince whom they were about to visit.

When they drew near the city, about a thousand persons who appeared to
be of distinction, came out to meet them, adorned with plumes and clad
in mantles of fine cotton.

Each of these as they passed Cortez, saluted him according to the mode
of their country; they announced the approach of Montezuma himself, and
soon his harbingers came in sight.

There appeared first two hundred persons in uniform dresses, with large
plumes of feathers, marching two and two in deep silence, barefooted,
with their eyes fixed on the ground.

Then followed a company of higher rank, in their most shewy apparel. In
the midst of these 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 on high at
certain intervals.

[Illustration]

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, Cortez dismounted advancing towards him in
respectful posture; at the same time Montezuma alighted from his chair,
and leaning on the arm of two of his nearest relations, approached him
with a slow and stately pace, his attendants covering the way with
cotton cloths, that he might not touch the ground.

Cortez 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 then kissing it.

This condescension, in so proud a monarch, made all his subjects believe
that the Spaniards were something more than human.

Montezuma conducted Cortez to the quarters which he had ordered for his
reception, and immediately took his leave, with a politeness not
unworthy of a court more refined.

"You are now," said he, "with your brothers, in your own house: refresh
yourselves after your fatigue, and be happy until I return."

The place allotted for the Spaniards was a magnificent palace built by
the father of Montezuma. It was surrounded by a stone wall with towers,
and its apartments and courts were so large as to accommodate both the
Spaniards and their Indian allies.

The first care of Cortez was to take precautions for his security, by
planting artillery so as to command the different avenues which led to
it, and posting sentinels at proper stations, with orders to observe the
greatest vigilance.

In the evening Montezuma returned to visit his guests, with the same
pomp as in their first interview, and brought presents of great value
not only to Cortez and his officers, but even to the private men. A long
conference ensued, in which Cortez, in his usual style, magnified the
power and dignity of his sovereign.

Next morning Cortez and some of his principal attendants were admitted
to a public audience of the emperor; the three following days were
employed in viewing the city, the appearance of which was so far
superior to any place the Spaniards had beheld in America, and yet so
little resembling the structure of an European city, that it filled them
with surprise and admiration.

Mexico, or Tenuchtitlan, as it was anciently called, is situated on some
small islands, near one side of a large lake, which is ninety miles in
circumference. The access to the city was by artificial causeways or
streets, formed of stones and earth, about thirty feet in breadth. These
causeways were of considerable length: that on the west extended a mile
and a half; that on the north-west three miles, and that towards the
south six miles. On the east, the city could only be approached by
canoes.

Not only the temples of their Gods, but the palaces belonging to the
monarch, and to persons of distinction, were of such dimensions that
they might be termed magnificent.

But, however the Spaniards might be amused or astonished at these
objects, they felt the utmost anxiety with respect to their situation.

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; but they had pushed forward into a
situation where it was difficult to continue, and from which it was
impossible to retire without disgrace and ruin.

They could not, however, doubt of the hostility of the Mexicans, more
especially as, on his march, Cortez received advice from Vera Cruz,
where he had left a garrison, that a Mexican general had marched to
attack the rebels whom the Spaniards had encouraged to revolt against
Montezuma, and that the commander of the garrison had marched out with
some of his troops to support the rebels, that an engagement had ensued,
in which, though the Spaniards were victorious, the Spanish general with
seven of his men, had been mortally wounded, his horse killed, and one
Spaniard taken alive, and that the head of his unfortunate captive had
been sent to Mexico, after being carried in triumph to different cities
in order to convince the people that their invaders were not immortal.

In this trying situation, he fixed upon a plan no less extraordinary
than daring; he determined to seize Montezuma in his palace and to carry
him a prisoner to the Spanish quarters. This he immediately proposed to
his officers, who, as it was the only resource in which there appeared
any safety, warmly approved of it, and it was agreed instantly to make
the attempt.

At his usual hour of visiting Montezuma, Cortez went to the palace,
accompanied by 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: the
remainder of his troops continued under arms, ready to sally out on the
first alarm.

Cortez and his attendants were admitted without suspicion, the Mexicans
retiring, as usual, out of respect.

He now addressed the monarch in a tone very different from that which he
had employed on former occasions, and a conversation ensued, very much
resembling that between the wolf and the lamb, in the fable, which you
no doubt remember.

Cortez bitterly reproached him as the author of the violent assault made
by the Mexican general upon the Spaniards, and with having caused the
death of some of his companions.

Montezuma, with great earnestness, asserted his innocence, but Cortez
affected not to believe him, and proposed that, as a proof of his
sincerity, he should remove from his own palace, and take up his
residence in the Spanish quarters.

The first mention of so strange a proposal almost bereaved Montezuma of
speech; at length he haughtily answered "That persons of his rank were
not accustomed voluntarily to give themselves up as prisoners, and were
he mean enough to do so, his subjects would not permit such an affront
to be offered to their sovereign."

Cortez now endeavoured to soothe, and then to intimidate him, and in
this way the altercation continued three hours, when Velasquez de Leon,
an impetuous young man exclaimed, "Why waste more time in vain? Let us
seize him instantly, or stab him to the heart." The threatening voice
and fierce gesture with which these words were uttered, struck Montezuma
with a sense of his danger, and abandoning himself to his fate, he
complied with their request: his officers were called, he communicated
to them his resolution. Though astonished and affected, they presumed
not to question the will of their master, but carried him in silent
pomp, all bathed in tears, to the Spanish quarters.

Cortez at first pretended to treat Montezuma with great respect, but
soon took care to let him know that he was entirely in his power. Being
thus master of the person of the monarch, he demanded that the Mexican
general who had attacked the Spaniards, his son, and five of the
principal officers who served under him, should be brought prisoners to
Mexico, and delivered into his hands.

As Cortez wished that the shedding the blood of a Spaniard should
appear the most heinous crime that could be committed, he then ordered
these brave men, who had only acted as became loyal subjects in opposing
the invaders of their country, to be burnt alive, before the gates of
the imperial palace.

The unhappy victims were led forth, and laid on a pile composed of the
weapons collected in the royal magazine for the public defence.

During this cruel execution, Cortez entered the apartments of Montezuma,
and caused him to be loaded with irons, in order to force him to
acknowledge himself a vassal of the king of Spain. The unhappy prince
yielded, and was restored to a semblance of liberty on presenting the
fierce conqueror with six hundred thousand marks of pure gold, and a
prodigious quantity of precious stones.

The Mexicans driven to desperation, all at once flew to arms, and made
so sudden and violent an attack that all the valour and skill of Cortez
was scarcely sufficient to repel them.

The Spaniards now found themselves enclosed in a hostile city, the
whole population of which was exasperated to the highest pitch against
them, and without some extraordinary exertion they were inevitably
undone. Cortez therefore made a desperate sally, but after exerting his
utmost efforts for a whole day, was obliged to retreat to his quarters
with the loss of twelve men killed, and upwards of sixty wounded; Cortez
himself was wounded in the hand.

The Spanish general now betook himself to the only resource which was
left, namely, to try what effect the interposition of Montezuma would
have to soothe and overawe his subjects.

[Illustration]

When the Mexicans approached next morning to renew the assault, that
unfortunate prince, who was now reduced to the sad necessity of becoming
the instrument of his own disgrace, and of the slavery of his people,
advanced to the battlements in his royal robes, and with all the pomp in
which he used to appear on solemn occasions. At the sight of their
sovereign, whom they had long been accustomed to reverence almost as a
god, the Mexicans instantly forebore their hostilities; and many
prostrated themselves on the ground; but when he addressed them in
favour of the Spaniards, and made use of all the arguments he could
think of to mitigate their rage, they testified their resentment with
loud murmurings, and at length broke forth with such fury, that before
the soldiers appointed to guard Montezuma had time to cover him with
their shields, he was wounded with two arrows and a blow on the temple
with a stone struck him to the ground.

On seeing him fall, the Mexicans instantly fled with the utmost
precipitation, and Montezuma was conveyed to his apartments, whither
Cortez followed in order to console him; but as the unhappy monarch now
perceived that he was become an object of contempt even to his own
subjects, his haughty spirit revived, and scorning to prolong his life
after this last humiliation, he tore the bandages from his wounds, in a
transport of rage, and refusing to take any nourishment, he soon ended
his wretched days; refusing with disdain all the solicitations of the
Spaniards to embrace the Christian faith.

The Mexicans having chosen his son Guatimozin emperor, attacked the head
quarters of Cortez with the utmost fury, and, in spite of the advantages
of fire-arms, forced the Spaniards to retire, which alone saved them
from destruction. Their rear guard was cut to pieces, and suffered
severely during the retreat, which lasted six days.

The Spaniards, however, having received fresh troops from Spain,
defeated the Mexicans, and took Guatimozin prisoner, and in the end
succeeded in totally subjugating this vast empire.

Guatimozin, before he was taken prisoner, being aware of his impending
fate, had ordered all his treasures to be thrown into the lake, and he
was now put to the torture, on suspicion of having concealed his
treasure. This was done by laying him on burning coals; but he bore
whatever the cruelty of his tormentors could inflict, with the
invincible fortitude of an American warrior. One of his chief
favourites, his fellow sufferer, being overcome by the violence of the
anguish, turned a dejected eye towards his master, which seemed to
implore his permission to reveal all he knew. But the high spirited
prince darted on him a look of authority mingled with scorn, and checked
his weakness by asking, "Am I reposing on a bed of flowers?"

Overawed by the reproach, he persevered in dutiful silence and expired.

Cortes, utterly regardless of what crimes and cruelties he committed,
added largely to the Spanish territory and revenue. But Spain was always
ungrateful. Pizarro was murdered; Columbus died of a broken heart, and
Balboa the death of a felon; so what could Cortez expect? He fell into
neglect and poverty when his work was done. One day he forced his way
through the crowd that had collected about the carriage of the
sovereign, mounted the door-step, and looked in. Astonished at so gross
a breach of etiquette, the monarch demanded to know who he was? "I am a
man," replied Cortez, "who has given you more provinces than your
ancestors left you cities!"




CHAPTER XI.

PARLEY RELATES HOW PIZARRO DISCOVERED AND CONQUERED PERU.


Peru, when first discovered by the Spaniards, was a large and
flourishing empire, including two kingdoms, Peru, and Quito, and
extended over nearly half of the widest part of the South American
Continent, as you will see if you look into the map, Brazil occupying
the other half of the wide part.

It had been governed by a long succession of Emperors, who were called
the Incas of Peru.

On the 14th of Nov. 1524, three Spanish adventurers whose names were
Francisco Pizarro, in early life a feeder of swine, Diego de Almagro,
and Hernando Luque, set sail from Panama for the discovery of Peru.

Panama was a new settlement which the Spaniards had formed on the
western side of the Isthmus of Darien, on the shores of the Pacific
Ocean.

Pizarro had only a single ship and one hundred and twenty men, to
undertake this discovery, and so little was he acquainted with the
climate of America, that the most improper season of the whole year was
chosen for his departure; the periodical winds which were then set in,
being directly opposite to the course he proposed to steer.

He spent two years in sailing from Panama to the northern extremity of
Peru, a voyage which is now frequently performed in a fortnight.

At Tumbez, a place about three degrees south of the line, Pizarro and
his companions feasted their eyes with the first view of the opulence
and civilization of the Peruvian empire.

This place was distinguished for its stately temple, and for one of the
palaces of the Incas, or sovereigns of the country.

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
the several vessels and utensils of common use, as left them no room to
doubt that these metals abounded in the greatest profusion.

Having explored the country sufficiently to satisfy his own mind,
Pizarro hastened back to Panama, and from thence to Spain, where he
obtained from Charles the Fifth the most liberal concessions, himself
being made chief governor of all the countries he should subdue;
Almagro, king's lieutenant, and Luque being appointed first bishop of
Peru.

Thus encouraged, Pizarro returned to Panama, whence he soon after sailed
with three small vessels, containing only one hundred and eighty-six
soldiers, and arrived at the Bay of St. Matthew; he then advanced by
land as quickly as possible towards Peru.

When Pizarro landed in the bay of St. Matthew, a civil war was raging
with the greatest fury between Atahualpa, who was then seated on the
throne of Peru, and his brother.

This contest so much engaged the attention of the Peruvians, that they
never once attempted to check the progress of the Spaniards, and Pizarro
determined to take advantage of these dissensions.

He directed his course towards Caxamalia, 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, despatched by the Inca, met him
with valuable presents from that prince, accompanied with a proffer of
his alliance, and his assurance of a friendly reception at Caxamalia.

Pizarro, according to the usual artifice of his countrymen, pretended to
come as the ambassador of a powerful monarch, to offer his aid against
those enemies who disputed his title to the throne.

The Peruvians were altogether unable to comprehend the object of the
Spaniards in entering their country, whether they should consider them
as beings of a superior nature, who had visited them from some
beneficent motive, as the Spaniards wished them to believe, or whether
they were sent as evil demons to punish them for their crimes, as the
rapaciousness and cruelty of the Spaniards led them to apprehend.

Pizarro's declaration of his pacific intentions, however, so far removed
all the Inca's fears, that he determined to give him a friendly
reception.

In consequence of this the Spaniards were allowed to march across a
sandy desert, which lay in their way to Metupe, where the smallest
efforts of an opposing enemy might have proved fatal to them, and then
through a defile so narrow, that a few men might have defended it
against a numerous army; but here, likewise, they met with no
opposition.

Pizarro, having reached Caxamalia with his followers, sent messengers,
inviting Atahualpa to visit him in his quarters, which he readily
promised. On the return of these messengers, they gave such a
description of the wealth which they had seen, as determined Pizarro to
seize upon the Peruvian monarch, in order that he might more easily
come at the riches of his kingdom.

The next day the Inca approached Caxamalia, without suspicion of
Pizarro's treachery; but, as he drew near the Spanish quarters, Vincent
Valverde, chaplain to the expedition, advanced with a crucifix in one
hand and a breviary in the other, and, in a long discourse, attempted to
convert him to the Roman Catholic faith.

This the monarch declined, avowing his resolution to adhere to the
worship of the sun; at the same time wished to know where the priest had
learned these extraordinary things he had related. "In this book!"
answered Valverde, reaching out his breviary.

The Inca opened it eagerly, and turning over the leaves, raised it to
his ear, "This," said 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 the profanation
of these impious dogs!"

Pizarro immediately gave the signal of assault, which ended in the
destruction of four thousand Peruvians, without the loss of a single
Spaniard. The plunder was rich beyond any idea which even the conquerors
had yet formed concerning the wealth of Peru. The Inca, who was taken
prisoner, quickly discovered that the ruling passion of the Spaniards
was the desire of gold; he offered therefore to recover his liberty by a
splendid ransom.

[Illustration]

The apartment in which he was confined was twenty-two feet long, by
sixteen in breadth; this he undertook to fill with vessels of gold as
high as he could reach.

Pizarro closed with the proposal, and a line was drawn upon the walls of
the chamber, to mark the stipulated height to which the treasure was to
rise.

During this confinement, Atahualpa 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
kindness to the captive monarch.

Soothed with this respect, he delighted in their society; but in the
presence of the governor he was always uneasy and overawed, and this
dread soon became 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 it was a
natural or an 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 showed successively to several Spaniards,
asking its meaning, and to his amazement, they all, without hesitation
returned the same answer. At length Francisco Pizarro entered, and on
presenting it to him, he blushed, and with some confusion was obliged to
acknowledge that he could not read.

From that moment Atahualpa considered him as a mean person, less
instructed than his own soldiers, nor could he conceal the sentiments of
contempt with which this discovery inspired him. He, however, performed
his part of the contract, and the gold which his subjects brought in,
was worth three or four hundred thousand pounds sterling.

When they assembled to divide the spoils of this innocent people,
procured by deceit, extortion, and cruelty, the transaction began with a
solemn invocation to Heaven, as if they expected the guidance of God in
distributing the wages of iniquity. In this division, eight thousand
pesoes, at that time equal in value to 10,000 sterling, of the present
day, fell to the share of each soldier: Pizarro and his officers
received shares in proportion to the dignity of their rank.

The Spaniards having divided the treasure among them, the Inca insisted
that they should fulfil their promise of setting him at liberty. But the
Spaniards, with unparalleled treachery and cruelty had now determined to
put him to death; an 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. In order to give some colour of
justice to this outrage, Pizarro resolved to try the Inca, according to
the forms of the criminal courts of Spain, and having constituted
himself chief judge, charges the most absurd, and even ridiculous, were
brought against him; but, as his infamous judges had predetermined, he
was found guilty, and condemned to be burnt alive.

Atahualpa, astonished at his fate, endeavoured to avert it by tears, by
promises, and by entreaties; but pity never touched the unfeeling heart
of Pizarro. He ordered him to be led instantly to execution, and the
cruel priest, after having prostituted his sacred office to confirm the
wicked sentence, offered to console, and attempted to convert him.

The dread of a cruel death, extorted from the trembling victim his
consent to be baptized. The ceremony was performed; and Atahualpa,
instead of being burnt alive, was strangled at the stake.

Pizarro then proceeded in his career of cruelty and rapacity, till, in
ten years, he subdued the whole of this great empire, and divided it
among his followers.

In making the division, he allotted the richest and finest provinces to
himself and his favourites, giving the less valuable to Almagro and his
friends.

This partiality highly offended Almagro, who thought his claims equal to
Pizarro's, and this led to open hostilities; when Almagro being taken
prisoner, he was beheaded in prison by order of Pizarro.

Soon after this, Pizarro himself was assassinated in his palace by a
party of Almagro's friends, headed by the son of Almagro, in revenge for
the death of his father.

Some time before this, the cruel and bigoted priest, Val de Viridi, had
been beaten to death with the butt end of muskets, in the island of
Puma, at the instigation of Almagro.

Thus retributive justice, in the end, overtook these unjust and cruel
men.

[Illustration]




CHAPTER XII.

PARLEY DESCRIBES THE NATURAL BEAUTIES OF AMERICA.


Let us now leave for a while the cruel Spaniards, and talk about the
beauties of nature, in these new discovered countries.

In these extensive regions, every thing appeared new and wonderful; not
only the inhabitants, but the whole face of nature was totally different
from anything that had been seen in Europe.

Grand ridges of mountains, numerous volcanoes, some of them, though
under the Equator, covered with perpetual snows. Noble rivers, whose
course, in several instances, exceeds three thousand miles.

Here are found the palm-tree, the cedar, the tamarind, the guaiacum,
the sassafras, the hickory, the chestnut, the walnut of many different
kinds, the wild cherry (sometimes a hundred feet high), and more than
fifty different sorts of oak.

The plane, of which there are two kinds, one found in Asia, which is
called the oriental plane: that found in America is called the
occidental plane; but the Americans call it button-wood, or sycamore.
Its foliage is richer, and its leaves of a more beautiful green than the
oriental. It grows to a great size.

The cypress is perhaps the largest of the American trees; it is a more
than a hundred and twenty feet high; and the diameter of the trunk at
forty or fifty feet from the ground is sometimes eight or ten feet.

Another tree of gigantic magnitude is the wild cotton or Cuba tree. A
canoe made from the single trunk of this tree has been know to contain a
hundred persons.

Above all these in beauty is the majestic magnolia which shoots up to
the height of more than a hundred feet; its trunk perfectly straight,
surmounted by a thick expanded head of pale green foliage, in the form
of a cone.

From the centre of the flowery crown which terminates each of its
branches, a flower of the purest white arises, having the form of a
rose, from six to nine inches in diameter.

To the flower succeeds a crimson cone; this, in opening, exhibits round
seeds of the finest coral red, surrounded by delicate threads, six
inches long.

Here, every plant and tree displays its most majestic form.

Upon the shady banks of the Madelina there grows a climbing plant which
the botanists call Aristolochia, the flowers of which are four feet in
circumference, and children amuse themselves with covering their heads
with them as hats.

The Banana which grows in all the hot parts of America, and furnishes
the Indians with the chief part of their daily food, producing more
nutritious substance, in less space, and with less trouble than any
other known plant.

[Illustration]

It is here that the ground produces the sugar-cane, the coffee, and the
cocoa-nut from which is produced the chocolate.



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