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that, oftentimes, they have had no need to drive their enemies to flight with swords or arrows, but have done the same only with dogs, placed in the fore-part of their battle, and letting them slip with their watchword and privy token; whereupon, the barbarians, stricken with fear, by reason of the cruel countenances of their mastiffs, with their desperate boldness, and unaccustomed howling and barking, have disparckled at the first onset, and brake their array."
A breed of these animals is still preserved in the Spanish islands; and during the Maroon war, in the island of Jamaica 1795), many of them were procured from Cuba for the purpose of hunting down the negroes. Vasco, after subjugating the province of Darien and extending the authority of the Spaniards on all sides around him, was executed as a traitor to his prince, through the jealousy and villainy of an ambitious rival. The governors and leaders, who had tasted the sweets of the new world, frequently disputed the legality of the commission which was to deprive them of their authority; and as each of them, during their sway, had formed a party for himself, by permitting peculation, and by conniving at the enormities committed against the Indians, a sharp contest generally took place, which terminated in the death of one or other of the chiefs, either in open war, or by means of private intrigue.
But to return to the adventures of the conqueror of Mexico:—Cortes had established a colony upon the coast, and he
“ Determined, in person, to understand what was reported of so great a king, as he had heard Montezuma was, and what rumour went of so huge and vast a city. Cortes' thoughts and purpose being understood, the inhabitants of Zempoall, bordering upon Montezuma, who, by violence, yielded him subjection, yet being deadly enemies unto him, consulting together, went unto Cortes, as the Hædui and Sequani, after the Helvetians were vanquished, came humbling themselves unto the emperor, for the insolent and outragious tyranny of Ariduistius, king of the Germans; so did the Zempoalenses complain of Montezuma, and much more grievously, in that, besides the heavy tributes of other provincial revenues, which they yearly give, they were compelled to give unto Montezuma slaves; and, for want of them, to give him some of their own children instead of tribute, to be sacrificed to their gods.”
The Zempoalenses promised to give Cortes pledges of their fidelity, and to furnish him with auxiliary forces, consisting of the most valiant and courageous warriors, to subdue their oppressor and restore liberty to the provinces over which he exercised unlimited rule. Nor did they entertain a single doubt of the victory, because they thought that “ Cortes and his consorts were sent from heaven," particu
larly, as they had, in a previous war with a neighbouring prince, given battle to and defeated forty thousand men. when their own numbers were not more than five hundred, In these engagements, the cavalry were of infinite use, for, as they advanced to the attack, the natives imagined the horse and his rider to be but one animal, and fled with terror from so dreadful a monster. Cortes departed from his colony of Vera Cruz with three hundred footmen, fifteen horsemen, and four hundred auxiliary Zempoalenses; but, previously to setting out, he commanded all his ships to be destroyed, under pretence that they were rotten, but, in reality, to prevent any hopes of safety from retreat. After a march of several days, through the territories of tributary chiefs, where they were well entertained, he entered the dominions of the Tascaltecanes, a warlike people, and deadly enemies to Montezuma as well as staunch defenders of their liberty. Cortes, with proper caution, sent two horsemen before the rest, who discovered an ambush of four thousand men, who were soon defeated without any loss on the part of the Spaniards, except two horses. On the following day, they were again drawn into ambush, and were attacked by about one hundred thousand men.
The auxiliary troops behaved with great valour, and they fought with doubtful success, from an hour before noon until the evening; but the thunder of the artillery, and the destruction it caused, as well as the appearance of the horsemen, compelled the enemy to retreat. For this treachery Cortes swept the surrounding plains, dealing destruction wherever he came, burning the villages and slaughtering the inhabitants. But, at the first twilight, before morning, the Tascaltecans attacked the camp to the number of one hundred and fifty thousand men, and, after an encounter of four hours, were forced to take flight and return to their homes.
“The enemy being put to flight, Cortes, like a tyger great with young, marcheth forth against these traitors, who, here and there, were now returned to their houses. So, wasting, destroying, taking or killing all he met, he came unto a town of 3,000 houses, (as they report), and above, all which he destroyed with fire and sword.”.
His terrible vengeance filled them with dread, and they sued for peace; but, shortly after it was granted, fifty of the chief nobility came unarmed to the camp, under colour of friendship, to act as spies. The penetrating eye of Cortes, however, soon imagined the imposition, and sent them back to their prince, each with his right hand dismembered. Another attack was made by the Indians, which also failed; and Cortes, availing himself of the unprotected state of the city of Tascalteca, took possession of it in the night, and received the submission of the inhabitants. After defeating the machinations of his enemies, Cortes advanced upon Mexico : the emperor offered tribute or any thing the Spaniards might require, if they would not approach the imperial city. But Cortes was not to be diverted from his purpose; he boldly went forward, his army increasing as he marched. When the Spaniards first landed on the continent, they found the nations bordering on the coast rude and barbarous: their astonishment must, therefore, have been great, to behold the cities they now passed through having houses built of stone, and defended by walls and towers! The city of Amaquemaca contained twenty thousand houses; and the king of that place, who was subject to Montezuma, feasted them daintily and plentifully, and “ gave his guests 3,000 castellanes of gold and jewels, and 40 slaves." Every step they took presented new wonders to their admiring sight. The city of Irtapalapa was situated partly in a salt lake and partly on the land, access being had by means of a stone causeway “ two spears' length in breadth,” and about two leagues in length, yet perfectly straight.
“ Two cities, founded partly in the water, join to one side of that bridge. On the other side standeth one, whereof the first they meet with, who go that way, is called Mesiqualcingo; the second is Coluacana, and the third is called Vuichilabasco. They say the first consisteth of more than 3,000 houses, the second of 6,000, and the third of 4,000, all of them furnished with turreted and sumptuous idol temples.”
The city of Tenusutau, the capital of Montezuma, contained sixty thousand houses, placed in the centre of a salt lake, and, every way, about two leagues from the main land.
“ The lake, day and night, is plyed with boats going and returning. For they go by stone bridges made by hand, four leagues, as from the four sides, for the most part joined together and solid, yet, for a long space, open and divided, with beams laid over those parts, underpropped by posts, whereby the flowing and ebbing waters may have a passage, and whereby they may easily be drawn up if any danger appear."
By this causeway, a thousand men came from the city to meet Cortes, and saluted him, touching the earth with the right hand, and then kissing that part which had touched the earth, in token of reverence. Here may immediately be traced the salaam of the Asiatic.
“ All these were noblemen of the court; behind them the king himself, so much desired, cometh now at length. The king went in
the middle of the bridge, and the rest of the people on the sides, orderly following in equal distances one from another, and all barefooted. Two princes, whereof the one was his brother, the other, one of the peers, lord of Irtapalapa, taking the king, Montezuma, drew him by the arms, not that he needed such help, but it is their manner so to reverence their kings, that they may seem to be upheld and supported by the strength of the nobility.”
Cortes dismounted from his horse to embrace the king, but was prevented by the princes, as they considered it “an heinous matter to touch the king.” The whole retinue gave the Spaniards the accustomed salutation, and then again fell into their ranks.
“ Cortes turning to the king, took a chain from his own neck, (which he wore), of small value, and put it about the king's neck. For they were counterfeits of glass, of divers colours, partly diamonds, partly pearl, and partly carbuncles and all of glass, yet the present liked Montezuma well. Montezuma requited him with two other chains of gold and precious stones, with shells of gold, and golden crevises, hanging at them."
The ceremony of meeting finished, the whole party, accompanied by the Spaniards, returned to the city and passed by the towers of sacrifice where human victims were offered to the idols. At length, they came to the palace “finely decked with princely ornaments.” There, Cortes was placed on a throne of gold by the king, who commanded that his followers should be fed with every delicacy and comfortably lodged. Soon after, Montezuma sent, as a present, six thousand garments intermixed with gold and most lively colours of Gossampine cotton, and a considerable quantity of gold and silver. Here, again, we find a similitude to the customs of the Asiatics, in giving “ changes of raiment."
Montezuma resigned his kingdom and its dependencies into the hands of the victorious Spaniard; but Cortes, fearing the multitude that surrounded him, contrived to get the king into his power and bound him with fetters. The indignity offered to the person of the monarch bowed his spirit, and though he was shortly relieved from his chains yet he conceived himself unworthy of again resuming the sovereignty of the people, and, therefore, took up his abode with the haughty Spaniard. The descriptions of the power and state of Montezuma, together with the commercial habits of the people, their immense wealth, idolatrous worship, and great progress in the arts and sciences, would excite doubts whether they were not the exaggerations of the Spaniards to enhance the value of their conquest, had they not been attested by many impartial witnesses; and proofs, even to this day, are not wanting to the accuracy of their statements. Some of their buildings were of so great an extent, and erected with such perfect regularity, that no palace in Spain could be compared to the meanest of seventy stone or marble houses, built by the curious art of Mexican architects, with variegated pavements, and pillars of jasper-stone, or white transparent marble. The chief temple is described as large as a town of 500 houses, fortified with high stone walls and compassed about with many towers, built after the manner of a strong castle. Every district or parish had its temple appropriated to the service of a particular idol, in the same manner as churches in Catholic countries are dedicated to one of the saints; and these idols were propitiated by yearly offerings of human flesh, according to the ability or wealth of the sacrificer. At the coronation of Montezuma, it is said that thirty thousand victims were immolated before the great marble idol.
" These sacrifices are not slain by cutting of the throat, but by thrusting a knife through the short ribs near unto the heart, so that their heart is pulled out to be sacrificed while they be yet living, and behold their own miserable condition ; with the blood which is next unto the heart they anoint their god's lips, but burn the heart itself, who thereby suppose the displeasure of their gods to be appeased, and this prodigious act the priests persuade the people to be acceptable service to their idols. But many will demand, and that rightly, what they do with the flesh and members of those miserable sacrifices ? Oh wicked, yawning, and gaping, oh loathsome provocation to vomit; as the Jews sometimes eat the lambs which were sacrificed by the old law, so do they eat man's flesh, casting only away the hands, feet, and bowels.
The sacrificial stone is still in being, as well as the most celebrated of the Mexican deities, before whom thousands of victims had been sacrificed in their horrid and sanguinary worship. This idol was recently dug up for the inspection of an English traveller : upwards of three hundred years had passed since its burial, during which time the Spanish clergy have been constantly endeavouring to impress upon the minds of the natives an abhorrence of their former rites, yet, on this occasion, chaplets of flowers were placed on the disgusting figure by Indians, who had stolen thither unperceived in the darkness of the evening. Cortes commanded that the images should be thrown down and destroyed, and, in the course of a few years, scarcely any traces of them remained'; nor was the demolition confined to the idols alone, for almost every statue and painting met with a similar fate. The foundation of the first Christian church which was erected in Mexico was composed entirely of idols and statues, and so eager were the Spaniards to remove