Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ferocious in war as the Aztecs themselves, upon upon, the Spaniards and their faithful friends, being defeated, after a single unsuccessful the Tlascalans, proceeded to climb the rugged effort to surprise the Spanish camp by night, sierra which encircles the valley of Mexico. sent an embassy to the victors, asking for a The description given by Prescott, of the apsupension of hostilities, and inviting them to pearance which it presented to the eyes of the

Tlascala, where they were welcomed in a man- wondering strangers, is vivid and enticing. ner as hospitable as their first reception had After a toilsome march of two or three days, proved violent, and from this time forward the they (the Spaniards) arrived in sight of the gallant mountaineers—"as faithful and gener- promised land, lying at their feet in its belt of ous in friendship as they were fearless in war" dark porphyry, and resplendent in the pure - became the most devoted allies of the Span- and lucid atmosphere of the tropics. It was iards. With six thousand Tlascalan warriors a scene of extraordinary beauty, blooming with as allies, the Spanish army next marched to rich cultivation, adorned with noble sheets of the beautiful city of Cholula, where they re- water, and stately forests of oak and cedar, and ceived a friendly reception; which, however, gemmed with white towers of towns and vilas they soon discovered, was only intended as lages-some nestling amid the luxuriant foliage a snare to lead them to certain ruin. In this of the woods, and others appearing to float emergency, Cortez owed his preservation, and upon the blue surface of the lakes. So striking that of his army, to the devotion of his Tlascalan was the spectacle, and such a promise of power allies, who discovered the plot, and gave them and prosperity did it display, that the feebler information by which they were enabled to spirits among the invaders were ready to counteract it. While indulging in the warm- abandon their enterprise in the very crisis of est professions of friendship, the Cholulans its fate; and it required all the energy and were secretly preparing a force to overwhelm resolution of their leader to restore their conthe invaders. The only hope of Cortez, in this fidence. Having succeeded in renovating the trying situation, was to draw them into prema- zeal of his adherents, Cortez now marched his ture action, without exposing his men; and in army down the southern slope of the valley, pursuit of this intention, he requested the Cho- and they proceeded without opposition to Ajotlulans to supply him with two thousand of zinco, a city lying at the southern extremity of their number, to assist him in the transporta- the lake of Chalco; and here they were visited tion of his supplies and baggage. This was and welcomed by the King of Tezcuco, foracceded to; and when they were all at length merly the ally, but now the greatest vassal of assembled, Cortez turned to the caciques, and, the Mexican Emperor. Under this honorable in a tone of great severity, reproved them for escort Cortez pursued his way towards the city their duplicity. Before they could regain their of Mexico, the surface of the lake being filled self-possession, a heavy fire was opened upor with canoes, and the shores with human bethe panic-stricken Cholulans, and a desperate ings, during his progress. After several halts, charge made upon them by the exasperated the Spanish army at length arrived at the Spaniards. This general slaughter, which city of their destination. The feelings of the could only be excused on the plea of urgent Aztecs—accustomed only to conquer and subnecessity, had the anticipated effect of drawing due—may be better imagined than described ; the Cholulan soldiers from their posts, and, nor were those of their invaders entirely free aided by the warlike Tlascalans, who had en- from the misgivings incidental to their situacamped without the city, Cortez accomplished tion. a decisive victory, for which he was indebted. When they drew near the city, about a equally to the vigilance and honesty of the thousand persons, seemingly of distinction, apTlascalans, and to the bravery of his own proached to meet them, adorned with plumes, troops, seconded by the exertions of his allies. and clad in mantles of fine cotton. Each in

Several days elapsed, when Cortez quitted his order, in passing Cortez, saluted him acCholula, and entered the hereditary dominions cording to the custom of the country. These of the Aztec race. Here his Totonac allies, were but forerunners of Montezuma himself, who had heretofore rendered him essential whose train shortly afterwards appeared in service, unwilling to brave the anger of an sight. First of all came two hundred persons, offended sovereign, became anxious to return uniformly clad with large plumes, alike in to their province, and were honorably dismissed shape and color, marching two and two, bareby Cortez. A plan having been hastily agreed / footed, and in deep silence, with their eyes fixed on the ground. Then came a company higher of seeming ingratitude, which we will not here in rank, and more showy in apparel, in the pause to canvass. In an enemy's country midst of whom was Montezuma, supported many things appear excusable on the score of upon the shoulders of four attendants, in a policy, which, under different circumstances, chair or litter, richly ornamented with gold would bring disgrace upon the head of the and various colored feathers, while others perpetrator. About this time it happened that supported above his head a canopy of cu- an attack was made, by some of Montezuma's rious workmanship. Before him marched people, upon one of the detachments which three officers with rods of gold in their hands, Cortez had left behind, and Cortez, believing it which they lifted up on high at certain inter- to have been instigated by the Emperor him. vals, and at that signal all the people bowed self, had the latter put in chains; but repenttheir heads, and hid their faces, as unworthy to | ing himself of this act, committed in a moment look upon so great a monarch. When he drew of passion, he had them removed, and did everynear, Cortez, dismounting with officious haste: thing in his power to soothe his royal captive, accosted him with a profound reverence, after but in vain. The self-respect and peace of mind the European fashion, which was returned by of Montezuma were gone forever. Shortly afMontezuma, who had approached, leaning on ter this humiliation, he swore allegiance to the arms of two attendants, by touching the Spain, and one of the Mexican temples was earth with his hand, and then kissing it-after assigned the Spaniards as a place of worthe custom of his country. This token of con- ship. The idols were accordingly removed, descension, amounting almost to reverence, and mass publicly performed. These proceedfrom so proud a monarch, caused the people to ings infuriated the Aztecs to such a degree, that look upon their visitors as divinities. Nothing Montezuma warned the Spaniards to depart; material passed during this first interview. but Cortez only made use of this advice and Montezuma conducted Cortez to the quarters information to put himself in a state of defence. which he had prepared for his reception, and At this crisis, an armament, with a powerful immediately took leave of him with a polite force, arrived at Villa Rica, di-patched by Veness not unworthy of a court more refined.* | lasquez, who, intent upon his former purpose,

Commodious quarters were furnished them, had sent Pamphilo de Narvaez, a brave but and they were frequently visited by the Empe- arrogant leader, to supersede Cortez. On ror, and supplied with every comfort by the learning this, Cortez formed the hasty determicitizens. Thus received and treated, the situa- nation to make Narvaez a prisoner, trusting to tion of Cortez, had he entered the dominions of the dislike entertained towards him in the the Aztecs under different auspices, would Spanish army, for the reconciliation of his folhave left him nothing to desire; but the posi- lowers. He therefore set out from Mexico, tion of the Spaniards, few in number, and in accompanied by seventy chosen men, whose the heart of an enemy's country, was anything number was increased by the drawing in of but one of security; and having heard rumors several detachments upon the route, and enterof Montezuma's duplicity, and fearing a sur ing the camp of Narvaez, in the night, took prise, he visited the Emperor, accompanied by him and his attendants prisoners, with but a some of his principal officers and a guard, and trifling loss of life. Next morning, the main informed him that he should be under the ne body, no doubt well pleased at the exchange, cessity of making him a hostage for the good went over to Cortez, and the united forces faith of his subjects. At first, the proposal that passed on to Mexico without opposition. Montezuma should take up his residence in the In the mean time a change had taken place quarters of the Spaniards, was received with in the aspect of affairs at the capital. Pedro indignation by the proud chieftain ; but his de Alvarado, the leader whom Cortez had left superstitious terrors had deprived his character in command, had massacred six hundred nobles of that firmness which had been considered as in the temple of Huitzilopotchli, without any one of his attributes in former times, and he apparent object, and thus added to the longreluctantly suffered himself to be made, in all smothered feelings of the natives. An attack but the name, a prisoner. Various excuses was commenced upon the Spaniards after the have been made, on the part of historians, in return of Cortez, which lasted for six days behalf of Cortez, for the commission of this act without intermission, and during which some

deeds of valor were performed on both sides. * Dr. Robertson.

The Spaniards having experienced much an

noyance from the enemy stationed in the great which encumbered the trench, and the army, temple of Huitzilopotchli, which overlooked their although assaulted on every side, slowly purposition, it was carried, sword in hand, by a sued its retreat, until it had gained the third body of three hundred soldiers, led by Cortez moat, when it was discovered that the rear himself, who was foremost wherever the fray guard was making no progress, and Cortez was thickest. But the losses of the besiegers hastened with a small body to their assistance. were supplied fast as they fell, while those of | They were hemmed in completely by the Aztecs, the Spaniards remained unsupplied. Seeing and would have been already cut off, had it his danger, Cortez at length persuaded Monte- not been for the exertions of the fierce Alvarazuma to make favorable terms with the peo- | do, who, though wounded and unhorsed, conple: but no sooner did the unfortunate En- | tinued to rally his disordered ranks. He himperor make known his wishes from the ram- self only escaped by leaping the trench, to the parts of the besieged palace, whither he went amazement of all who witnessed the attempt; clad in his royal robes, and attended by his and the spot was long afterwards known as whole retinue, than he was assailed by a volley Alvarado's Leap. This memorable affair was of missiles, and a storm of execrations. The designated most appropriately as the Noche injuries thus received were not mortal, but Triste. the grief and mortification occasioned by this Upon only one occasion after this did Cortez reception had crushed completely the proud meet with serious opposition, in his march to spirit of the royal captive, and he expired Tlascala. Upon surmounting the ridge comshortly after of a broken heart.

manding the Valley of Otompan, or Otumba, Thus situated, having met with severe losses, they were beset by the inhabitants of the surand being once more threatened with insubor- rounding country in such numbers that the dination Cortez determined on cutting his way plain appeared to be filled to the very horizon through the enemy to Tlascala, where he in- with weapons, banners and waving plumes. tended to recruit his shattered ranks; and on A bloody and desperate battle ensued, but the the night of the 1st of July, 1520, according to Spaniards, infuriated by the cruelties which Prescott, a night memorable for its terrors in they had witnessed, fought like tigers, and at the annals of New Spain, the besieged army, length the overthrow of their adversaries was after hearing mass, marched forth in deep complete. Never was victory achieved by silence from the palace of Axayacatl, and, more desperate exertions, and, on the succeedhaving traversed the city apparently unob- ing day the Spaniards passed the frontier of served, arrived in safety upon the causeway of | Tlascala. Taculaya-a road about two miles in length, Finding that the Tlascalans remained faithintersected by three wide moats or trenches, ful to him under all reverses, and being greatly which were crossed without difficulty by means strengthened by reinforcements sent from Spain of a portable bridge, constructed by Cortez's to his assistance, Cortez resolved once more to orders. But in the mean time the alarm was attempt the conquest of the city of Mexico. given ; the great Mexican war drum was Returning, therefore, without opposition, acsounded from the summit of Huitzilopotchli; companied by a large body of Tlascalan and the dashing of oars was heard rapidly advanc-Cholulan warriors, in addition to his own forces, ing through the stillness of the tropical night; he traversed the sierra, and on New-Year's the lake was covered by a rush of innumerable eve, fixed his head-quarters at the royal city of canoes; and the Aztec warriors on both sides | Tezcuco, whose king and citizens fled at the impetuously scaled the causeway. But the approach of the invaders. Cuitlahua, brother Spaniards were not yet disconcerted, but and successor to Montezuma, had died in the fought their way steadily to the second gap in interim; and Guatemozin, a chieftain of indothe dike, when it was discovered that the por- mitable courage, and the determined and imtable bridge was missing, and, on inquiry, it placable enemy of the Spanish race, had sucwas ascertained that the passage of the arcil. ceeded to the throne. After conquering in suclery had wedged it so firmly in the earth, as to cession some of the most powerful cities in the render its extrication impossible. A disorderly | Valley, and receiving farther reinforcements rush was made through the shallow water, from Villa Rica, Cortez returned to Tezcuco, upon the receipt of this intelligence, and many where he found everything prepared for the lives were lost. A passage was, however, soon siege. He had now a force of nine hundred effected over the carriages, rubbish and bodies Spanish soldiers, eighty-seven of whom were horsemen, and a hundred and eighteen muske- diers, and Guatemozin himself having fallen teers. He had, moreover, construeted twelve by accident into their hands, the Aztecs, on brigantine, or small sailing craft, which had the 16th of August, 1521, signified their entire been built at Tlascala, and afterwards taken submission, having resisted until, at least, one to pieces, and transported by a body of Indians hundred and twenty thousand of their number across the mountains. This fleet, small as, in had perished, leaving but thirty or forty thouour estimation, it appears, must have created sand, weakened by disease and wounds, and upon the minds of the astonished Mexicans a disheartened by their reverses, to evacuate the powerful impression.

desolated city, once the scene of so much barEverything being at length arranged, the baric pomp and splendor. armament moved forward, and after several The joy of the conquerors at the final comdays employed in skirmishing, the city being pletion of the conquest, was much dampened closely invested, both by land and water, Cortez | by the limited amount of the treasures which issued commands for a general assault, which were found ; their imaginations had pictured however, did not produce any particular ad- the city as being filled with inexhaustible vantages, and several incursions, afterwards wealth ; and the awaking from their dreams of made, were attended with similar results. wealth and grandeur, was like the shock of an The impatience of his followers, at length, earthquake. The truth is, Guatemozin, aware grew to be such, that Cortez was induced, of his impending fate, had ordered all the against his better judgment, to make another wealth amassed by his ancestors to be thrown grand attempt to carry the city by assault. into the lake; and, though put to the torture, In this affair, several separate expeditions for he refused to tell where it was concealed. the same purpose met with a bloody repulse, He was afterwards hanged by his captors; and and with difficulty effected their retreat, with though, on several occasions, the natives made the loss of nearly a hundred men, sixty of attempts to shake off the bondage imposed whom were taken alive by the enemy. upon them, in every case the arms of the Spa

Elated by their success, the Aztecs gave freeniards predominated. vent to their rejoicings, and the priests openly | An attempt was made by influential persons announced the solemn promise of the gods of to deprive Cortez of his hard-earned positions ; Anahuac, that, within eight days more, the but the Emperor Charles, of Spain, admiring destruction of their sacrilegious invaders should the talents which had achieved so complete a be complete. So discouraging did this an- triumph, constituted Cortez Captain-General nouncement prove, that the majority of the and Governor of New Spain. The malice of Indian auxiliaries quitted the camp; some his enemies, however, continued to circulate withdrawing to a short distance, others taking false rumors, respecting his character, at court; up their homeward route. But when the and in order to silence them, he proceeded to eight days had elapsed, and the falsehood of the presence of his Sovereign, accompanied by the priests had become manifest, they returned; a numerous and splendid retinue, and was and the Spaniards, wrought up to a pitch of honored with a reception befitting that of one frenzy by the sight of the frequent sacrifices of of higher rank. On his return, however, to their countrymen, which were consummated New Spain, he found himself shorn of all upon the summits of the temples, became eager authority, save the command of the military for a renewal of hostilities.

forces. He projected, subsequently, several The details of the next attempt are so revolt-expeditions, in one of which he discovered ing, that we may well be excused the repetition California ;* but private jealousy was still at of the horrors which transpired up to the time work to effect his ruin, and he once more sought of the surrender of the city into the hands of the his native country for redress, only to find the victorious Spaniards. The plan of Cortez was Emperor's demeanor changed, and every aveto destroy, as he advanced, every building nue firmly closed against him. which could be made a post for defence; and He finished his days on the 2d of Decem this resolve was so thoroughly carried into ber, 1547, aged sixty-two. effect, that at length seven-eighths of the city had become a ruinous and blackened waste-l * There were severa, expeditions fitted out for the sul. the palace of Guatemozin being among the jugation of Florida, in the years 1512, 1528, and 1539, by

Ponce de Leon, Pamphilo de Narvaez and De Soto; but the edifices destroyed! Famine and pestilence

latter was the only one that was at all successful. That fearfully aided the swords of the Spanish sol. of Ponce de Leon was undertaken in a spirit of romantic

MEN OF BLOOD:

A LEAF FROM THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

This leaf is furnished by Mr. J. Barker, in his . dence in sending a correct list of the slain to work on “The People.” We desire that every my agent in London. This precaution was upgrowing American should be made thoroughly

more necessary, because the list sent to the

English minister stated that only fourteen hunacquainted with the price at which their liber

dred and fifty were killed. ties were purchased, that they may place upon “In this way I should lose one hundred and them the par value at least, and refuse to part sixty thousand and fifty florins. According to with them for anything less than cost. Mr. the account of the lord of the treasury, there Barker. shows us here one small contract in the would come to me only four hundred and eightytransaction. He says :

three florins instead of six hundred and forty

three thousand five hundred florins, which I “In their war with the Americans in 1776 |

have a right to demand according to our agreeand 1777, the English tyrants employed a num ment. ber of soldiers belonging to the Prince of Hesse "• You will understand how seriously my Cassel. The English tyrants engaged to give the

finances would be effected by an error in the Prince of Hesse Cassel so much a piece for every

calculation, and you will therefore take the

utmost pains to prove that your list is correct soldier of his who was killed in their service.

and that his is wrong. The British court obIt will be seen from the following letter, that jects that there were a hundred wounded, for this Prince of Hesse Cassel, this foreign Aris whom they ought not to pay the price of dead tocrat, was as reckless of the lives of his sol- men; but I hope that you remember the advice I diers, nay, was as eager, in fact, to convert their

gave you on your departure from Cassel, and life and blood into gold, as the English tyrants the

that you have not attempted to restore to life

those who could be saved only by depriving who hired his soldiers were to annihilate the them of a leg or an arm. Life would be a friends of liberty in America. The following fatal present to them, and I am sure that they is a part of a letter he wrote to Hohendroff would prefer to die with glory, rather than to with respect to the fate of the men whom he live mutilated and not in a condition to serve

| me. I do not wish them to be sacrificed; you had hired out to the British Aristocrats. It

must be humane, my dear Baron ; but you shows with what coolness, or rather with what

hat can hint to the surgeons that a maimed man pleasure, he could hear of the death of his is a disgrace to their skill, and that it is a deed soldiers, when contemplating the sums he was of charity to permit a warrior to die when he is entitled to receive in consideration of their not in a condition to fight. Farther, I am about death:

to send you numerous recruits ; do not spare

them! remember that glory excels all things. ""BARON HOHENDROFF:-1 received at Rome, Glory is true riches. You think, then, only of on my return from Naples, your letter of honor and reputation; but this reputation must the 27th of December last. I learned with be gained amid danger. Remember, that of inexpressible pleasure the courage displayed three hundred Lacedemonians who defended by my troops at Trenton; and you cannot the.defile of Thermopylæ, not one returned. imagine my joy at reading, that of nineteen - Finally be careful to avoid any decisive hundred and fifty Hessians who were engaged action; for it is against my interests that this in the battle, only three hundred escaped. war should terminate. I am about making There were just sixteen hundred and fifty slain, arrangements at Naples for the large Italian and I cannot sufficiently commend your pru

opera."?

adventure, characteristic of nearly all the proceedings of the middle ages. There was an old tradition that a fountain existed at a certain part of the American Continent, which possessed the remarkable property of conferring eternal youth and beauty upon all who should bathe in, or taste of, its waters. The people inhabiting this favored region were pictured as being gifted with almost superhuman beauty, and their strength, far from diminishing, never decayed. Believing implicitly in this legend, Leon fitted out a small squadron, and set sail to discover the quarter where those precious waters were supposed to be

concealed; but the result proved no more successful than the expeditions in search of El Dorado, and after discovering, on Easter Day, a vast land, to which he gave the name of Florida, from the Spanish name of that festival Pasqua de Flores, and attempting to found there a settlement, which the hostility of the Indians prevented him from accomplishing, he returned in discouragement to Puerto Rico. The expedition of Narvaez, consisting of four hundred men from the Island of Cuba, was never heard of.

« AnteriorContinuar »