Imagens da página

their own diminutive force—too far advanced, as they now were, for succor to reach them—they felt that they had done rashly in throwing themselves into the midst of so furmidable an empire, and were filled with gloomy forebodings of the result. Their comrades in the camp soon caught the infectious spirit of despondency, which was not lessened as night came on; and they beheld the watch fires of the Peruvians lighting up the sides of the mountains, and glittering in the darkness as thick,' says one who saw them, as the stars in heaven.'

“ Yet there was one bosom in that little host which was not touched with the feeling either of fear or dejection. That was Pizarro's; who secretly rejoiced that he had now brought matters to the issue for which he had so long panted.”

After encouraging his troops, this determined man summoned his officers in council, and laid his plan before them, which was to seize the Inca on his visit, and make him prisoner in the face of his army! It became apparent that there was no alternative. To fight, to fly, or to remain long inactive, were alike fatal ; and the plan was determined on. The Plaza, occupied by the Spaniards,



“Was defended on its three sides by low ranges of buildings, consisting of spacious halls, with wide doors or vomitories opening into the square. In these halls he stationed his cavalry in two divisions--one under his brother Hernando, and the other under De Soto. The infantry he placed in another of the buildings, reserving 20 men to act with himself as occasion might require. All received orders to wait, at their posts, the arrival of the Inca. After his entrance into the great square, they were still to remain under cover, till the signal was given by the discharge of a gun, when they were to cry their war cries, to rush out in a body from their covert, and putting the Peruvians to the sword, bear off the person of the Inca.

• It was not long before sunset, when the van of the royal procession entered the gates of the city. First came some hundreds of the menials, employed to clear the path from every obstacle, and singing songs of triumph as they came, ' which, in our ears,' says one of the conquerors, sounded like the songs of hell.' Then followed other bodies of different ranks, and dressed in different liveries. Some wore a showy staff, checkered white and red like the squares of a chessboard ; others were clad in pure white, bearing banners or maces of silver or copper; and the guards, together with those in immediate attendance on the prince, were distinguished by a rich azure livery and a profusion of gay ornaments, while the large pendants attached to the ears distinguished the Peruvian noble. * Elevated high above bis vassals came the Inca Atahuallpa, borne on

sedan or open litter, on which was a sort of throne made of massive gold of inestimable value. The palanquin was lined with the richly-colored plumes of tropical birds, and studded with shining plates of gold and silver. The monarch's attire was richer than on the preceding evening. Round his neck was suspended a collar of emeralds of uncommon size and brilliancy. His short hair was decorated with golden ornaments, and the imperial burla encircled his temples. The bearing of the Inca was sedate and dignified; and from his lofty station he looked down on the multitudes below with an air of composure, like one accustomed to command.

" As the leading files of the procession entered the great square, larger-says an old chronicler—than any square in Spain, they opened to the right and left

for the royal retinue to pass. Every thing was conducted with admirable order. The monarch was perunitted to traverse the Plaza in silence, and not a Spaniard was to be seen. When some five or six thousand of his people had entered the place, Atahuallpa halted, and turning round with an inquiring look, demanded, 'Where are the strangers ?'”

At this moment a Dominican friar, Father Valverde, afterwards Bishop of Cusco, coming forward with a Bible in one hand and a crucifix in the other, began to explain the principles of the Christian faith to the Inca. Atahualpa listened patiently to the discourse, until he began to compre

hend that the drift of it was to persuade him to resign his sceptre and change his religion.

“I will be no man's tributary,” said he, “ I am greater than any prince upon earth. Your emperor may be a great prince ; I do not doubt it, when I see that he has sent his subjects so far across the water! and I am willing to hold him as a brother. As for the Pope, of whom you speak, he must be crazy to talk of giving away countries that do not belong to him. For my faith, I will not change it. Your own God, as you say, was put to death by the very men he created. But mine,' he continued, pointing to his deily, then, alas! sinking in glory behind the mountains, my God still lives in the heavens, and looks down on his children.'

" He then demanded of Valverde by what authority he said these things. The friar pointed to the book which he held as his authority. Atahuallpa taking it, turned over the pages a moment; then, as the insult he had received probably flashed across his mind, he threw it down with vehemence, and exclaimed, • Tell your comrades that they shall give me an account of their doings in my land. I will not go from here till they have made me full satisfaction for all the wrongs they have committed.'

• The friar, openly scandalized by the indignity offered to the sacred volume, stayed only to pick it up, and hastening to Pizarro, informed him of what had been done, exclaiming, at the same time, Do you not see, that while we stand here wasting our breath in talking with this dog, full of pride as he is, the fields are filling with Indians ? Set on at once-I absolve you.' Pizarro saw that the hour had come. He waved a white scarf in the air, the appointed signal. The fatal gun was fired from the fortress. Then, springing into the square, the Spanish captain and his followers shouted the old war-cry of St. Jago, and at them.' It was answered by the battle-cry of every Spaniard in the city, as, rushing from the avenues of the great halls in which they were concealed, they poured into the Plaza, horse and foot, each in his own dark column, and threw themselves into the midst of the Indian crowd."

The results of this terrible onslaught, after half an hour's hard fighting, was the slaughter of from 2,000 to 10,000 Indians, and the capture of the Inca, without the loss of a Spaniard. Thus fell the Indian empire; for it seems to have been a consequence of the singular form of government, that the loss of the Inca totally disorganised the government as well as the army, which dispersed at once, and the conquest was in effect completed. The subsequent events, whereby the power of the Spaniards became consolidated in the country, are fraught with interest and instruction. Almost every man concerned in the scene of violence and rapine was overtaken by a just and terrible retribution, more particularly those concerned in the murder of the unfortunate Inca. After he had engaged to pay, and actually made over, gold and silver to the extent of $15,000,000 or $20,000,000, about the sum recently exacted by England of the Chinese, he perished miserably by the Gerrote, a victim to the policy of his conqueror. The arrival of Almagro with large reinforcements in the camp of Pizarro, soon after the immolation of the Inca, gave the means for prosecuting the plunder of the cities. After attempting, by the installation of Manco Capac as Inca, to control the people and subject them to his will, Pizarro returned to the coast and founded the city of Lima, where he was assassinated in 1541, nine years after the seizure of the Inca. Thenceforth the story is mostly of strife among the Spanish chiefs. A civil war between Almagro and Hernando Pizarro ended in the defeat and execution of the former, who had fallen prisoner to his old enemy; and the return of the latter to Spain, where he was thrown into prison, and remained there twenty years, and when released lived several years, completing the age of one hundred years. He was succeeded in the government of Cusco by Gonzalo Pizarro, who, expelling the incapable viceroy, Nunez, established himself in the government. Gonzalo was, however, infe

[ocr errors][merged small]

rior to his brothers in firmness of purpose and extensiveness of views, being mainly indebted to his lieutenant Carbajal for his success. Carbajal was one of the most remarkable characters drawn out by the peculiar operations of the Spaniards in that age of the world. Although a monster of cruelty, he wins our admiration at his undaunted courage, his great sagacity, knowledge of men, and constancy of purpose. In his early life he entered the army, and served forty years in the Italian wars, where he witnessed the capture of Francis I. at Pavia. With booty obtained at the sack of Rome, he sought the new world, and for services under Pizarro was rewarded with a grant of land in Cusco. When the Viceroy Nunez was sent out to enforce those odious ordinances, which called forth the resistance of the colonists, headed by Gonzalo Pizarro, Carbajal, then eighty years old, joined Gonzalo, and his determined valor, steadiness of purpose, and sagacious advice, were mainly instrumental in placing Pizarro at the head of the government. He was noted for his inexorable severity towards those who, in the continual change of parties among the Spaniards, fell in his hands, as renegades to their party. These were promptly executed. When Pizarro, on the death of the Viceroy Nunez, became master of Peru, Carbajal advised him to cast off his allegiance to Spain, marry Coya, the female representative of the Incas, and proclaim himself king. For enterprise of such a nature, Gonzalo was, however, not capable. Yet it was the only sound policy under the circumstances, standing as they did in the attitude of rebellion to the crown; but he could not divine the future with the undaunted gaze of the veteran Carbajal The Spanish government soon sent out a most able man, Pedro de la Gasca as viceroy, an ecclesiastic of great mind but humble deportment. He arrived without arms. By the moderation of his conduct, the good sense of his proclamation, and having in the “ king's name a tower of strength,” he soon won over the adherents of Pizarro, who had been prepared to resist force but not argument and clemency. As soon as Carbajal read the proclamations of de Gasca and witnessed their essect, his sagacious mind rightly estimated their true position, and he counselled Pizarro to accept the terms offered him. As, however, that chief was incapable of carrying out the advices of Cabajal on a previous occasion, so was he incapable of understanding his present position, and he proceeded to arm. Meanwhile, the adherents of Pizarro, affected by the proclamation of de Gasca, deserted in scores. His gallant army, which had been organised at great expense, “melted away like the inist," and he became bewildered by misfortune.

Carbajal, who made a jest of every thing, even the misfortunes that pinched him sharpest, when told of the desertion of his comrades, amused himself by humming the words of a popular ditty :

• The wind blows the hair's off my head, mother,

Two at a time it blows them away.' Gonzalo retired into Chili, and having organized a force, he, through the exertions of Carbajal, defeated the royal forces in a great battle, at Huarino, and entered Cusco in triumph. Gasca being joined by Valdivia, one of the best captains of Peru, advanced against Pizarro, and Carbajal advised a retreat; but Pizarro persisted in maintaining his ground, while he rejected until too late the proposal of Carbajal, to defend the bridge by which Gasca was approaching. As Gasca advanced, Pizarro had cause to distrust the fidelity of his followers ; and as the armies confronted each other, his chief officers and men began to desert in squadrons, and the army speedily disbanded without fighting.


Pizarro, amidst the general wreck, found himself left with only a few cavaliers who disdained to fly. Stunned by the unexpected reverse of fortune, the unhappy chief could hardly comprehend his situation. • What remains for us ?' said he to Acosta, one of those who still adhered to bim • Fall on the enemy, since nothing else is left,' answered the iron-hearted soldier, and die like Romaps.' • Better to die like Christians,' replied his commander; and slowly turning bis horse, be rode off in the direction of the royal army.

* In this general wreck of their fortunes, Francisco de Carbajal fared no better tlian his chief. As he saw the soldiers deserting their posts, and going over to the enemy one after another, he coolly hummed the words of his favorite old ballad

• The wind blows the hairs off my head, mother!'" When he found himself alone, the stout old warrior attempted to escape; his aged horse broke down under him, and he was seized by some of his own followers, who hoped to make better terms for themselves by surrendering him; and they hurried him off to the quarters of Gasca.

The convoy was soon swelled by a number of common file from the royal army, some of whom had long arrears to settle with the prisoner ; and not content with heaping reproaches and imprecations on his head, they now threatened to proceed to acts of violence, which Carbajal, far from deprecating, seemed rather to court, as the speediest way of ridding himself of life. When he approached the President's head-quarters, Centeno, who was near, rebuked the disorderly rabble, and compelled them to give way. Carbajal on seeing this, with a respectful air demanded to whom he was indebted for this courteous protection. To which his ancient comrade replied, “ Do you not know me—Diego Centeno !” “I crave your pardon," said the veteran sarcastically, alluding to his long flight in the Charcas and his recent defeat at Huarino; "it is so long since I have seen anything but your back that I had forgotten your face.” Pizarro was condemned to be beheaded, and Carbajal to be drawn and quartered. “No mercy was shown him who had shown none to others." Carbajal, when he heard his doom, remarked, “ They can but kill me.” Many visited him to upbraid him, and he indulged his caustic humor freely at their expense.


whose life Carbajal had formerly spared, was profuse in his professions to serve him. Carbajal cut him short, exclaiming, “and what service can you do me? can you set me free ? If you cannot do that, you can do nothing. IfI spared your life, as you say, it was probably because I did not think it worth while to take it.Some pious persons wished him to see a priest and unburthen his conscience. “But of what use would that be ?” asked Carbajal, “ I have nothing that lies heavy on my conscience, unless it be, indeed, the debt of half a real to a shopkeeper in Seville, which I forgot to рау

before leaving the country !" Hardened as was the old soldier, he was clearly not of a nature sufficiently stern to make a banker of the present day. He was carried to execution in a kind of basket drawn by mules. When thrust into it, he exclaimed, “ cradles for infants and a cradle for the old man too, it seems." He died at the age of 84, with the fires of youth glowing fiercely and unquenchably in his bosom." He looked on life as a farce, though he too often made it a tragedy.” Pizarro was shortly after beheaded, at 42 years of age, being the youngest of the Pizarros; and his death closed the fate of the remarkable family that had conquered the country, and given one of its richest jewels to the crown of Spain.

Gasca, after settling the country, leaving it prosperous and tranquil, returns to Spain, and, resigning his command, retired to his episcopal functions.

Thus far the history of that interesting country is brought down by the graphic pen of Mr. Prescott. The story is told in a manner more agrecable

than is usually encountered in the historic page ; and the reader is impressed with the authenticity of the statements contained in the narrative.

By these means detailed, the Spaniards became possessed of a country of great wealth and vast importance. But, like all the rich possessions that have fallen to their lot, it was miserably misused. Its wealth was squandered; its people oppressed; its vast public works allowed to go to decay, and its great natural advantages utterly neglected. Peru, after three centuries of Christian rule of the Spaniards, is in a far worse condition than at the end of three centuries of the Pagan rule of the Incas. Although no accurate or approximate statement of the numbers of the people at the time of the conquest has been given, yet such data as have been handed down show that the population has been frightfully diminished. Probably the whole population, at present 1,500,000, is not one-tenth of the number under the last of the Incas. The chief causes of the depopulation have been the massacres by the Spaniards, suicides of the natives to escape the horrible oppression to which they have been exposed, the deaths produced by the involuntary service called “mita,” exacted from the natives beyond their strength, smallpox, scarlet fever, &c. The mita has been supposed to have swept off four times as many as all the other causes together. Its abolition, of late years, has already produced recuperative effects on the population. For two hundred years the Indians submitted with exemplary patience to the horrible tyranny of their oppressors. In 1780 a more oppressive exaction of taxes roused a general opposition, which, headed by Tupac Amaru, threatened seriously the Spanish power, and might have succeeded, but for the treachery of an Indian, who betrayed the chief into the power of the Spaniards, and without a leader the Indians dispersed. This war resulted, however, in the abolition of a most oppressive tax. When the Spanish war of Independence took place, the natives fought occasionally on the side of the patriots, but had no clear idea of the objects of the war. Its effects were to supply them arms and teach them their use, and also the manufacture of gunpowder, with the materials of which the hills abound. The time is now fast approaching when the miserable Spanish race will be scourged from the country they have so long cursed with their presence, and the descendants of the ancient Incas will, after a lapse of three centuries, resume the sway of their fathers. It has only been the diminution of the numbers of the Indians that has thus far saved the Spaniards; and, therefore, in some sense, their very tyranny has been the means of prolonging it.

According to a late traveller, Dr. Von Tschudi, and other authorities, nothing can be more deplorable, in a physical or moral sense, than the present condition of the Spanish population of Peru. The population of Lina, in 1842, is given at 53,000, divided into five classes : 1st. White Creoles, 20,000; 2d. Indians, 5,300; 3d. Mixed races, Negroes, &c., 24,000; 4th. Slaves, 4,700 ; 5th. Ecclesiastics, 900. Dr. Tschudi gives nineteen different heads of the mixed races, all of whom, although in the lowest depths of degradation, look upon the Indians as brutes.” The white creoles are an effeminate, idle race, and exist there, apparently, but on the sufferance of the Indians.

Events are now transpiring in Mexico which will terminate Spanish dominion there forever ; and we may hope that Peruvian disenthralment will follow Mexican emancipation in at least as short a period as its subjugation followed the conquests of Cortez, three hundred years since.

« AnteriorContinuar »