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regular policy, their manners soften, fentiments of humanity arise, and the rights of the fpecies come to be understood. The fierceness of war abates, and even while engaged in hoftility, men remember what they own one to another. The savage fights to destroy, the citizen to conquer. The former neither pities nor spares, the latter has acquired sensibility which tempers his rage. To this sensibility the Mexicans seem to have been perfect ftrangers, and among them war was carried on with so much of its original barbarity, that we cannot but suspect their degree of civiliza. tion to have been very imperfect.
Their funeral rites.
Their funeral rites were not less bloody than those of the most savage tribes. On the death of any distinguished personage, especially of the Emperor , a certain number of his attendants were chosen to accompany him to the other world, and those unfortunate victims were put to death without mercy, and buried in the same tomb. h)
Their agriculture imperfe&t.
Though their agriculture was more extenfive than that of the roving tribes who trusted
h) Herrera, dec. 3. lib. ii. c. 18. Gom, Chron, C. 202.
chiefly to their bow for food, it seems not to have supplied them with such fubfiftance as men require when engaged in efforts of active industry. The Spaniards appear not to have been struck with any superiority of the Mexicans over the other people of America in bodily vigour. Both, according to their observation, were of such a feeble frame as to be unable to endure fatigue , and the ftrength of one Spapiard exceeded that of several Indians. This they imputed to their scanty diet,, on poor fare, fufficient to preserve life, but not to give firmness to the constitution.
Such a remark could hardly have been made with respect to any people furnished plentifully with the neceffaries of life. The difficulty which Cortes found in procuring subfiftence for his small body of soldiers, who were often constrained to live on the spontaneous productions of the earth, seems to confirm the remark of the Spanish writers, and gives no high idea of the ftate of cultivation in the Mexican empire. i)
A farther proof of this.
A practice that was universal in New Spain appears to favour this opinion. The Mexican women gave suck to their children for several
i) Relat, ap. Ramus. ij. 306. A. Herrera , dec. 3. lib. 4. C, 17..
dey 2, lib. v'
years, and during that time they did not cohas bit with their husbands. k) This precaution against a burdensome increase of progeny, though necessary, as I have already observed, among favages, who, from the hardships of their condition, and the precariousness of their fubfiftence, find it impollible to rear a pumerous family, can hardly be supposed to have continued among a people who lived at ease and in abundance.
Doubts concerning the extent of the empire.
The vast extent of the Mexican empire, which has been considered, and with justice , as the moft decifive proof of a considerable progress in regular government and police, is one of those facts in the history of the New World which seems to have been admitted without due examination or fufficient evidence. The Spanish biftorians, in order to ma goify the valour of their countrymen, are accuftomed to represent the dominion of Montezuma as ftretching over all the provinces of New Spain from the North to the Southern Ocean. But a great part of the mountainous country was possefied by the Otomies, a fierce nocivilized people who seem to have been the reside of the original inhabitants. The provinces tocuards the north and west of Mexico were ocwpied by the Chanecas, and other tribes of 1 Guz. Chư:
debt z. lib, ir, o, Ib.
hunters. None of those recognized the Mexi-
was a powerful kingdom, remarkable for its implacable enmity to the Mexican name. m) By thefe hoftile powers the Mexican empire was circumscribed on every quarter, and the high ideas which we are apt to from of it from the description of the Spanish historians, should be considerably moderated.
Litle intercourse among its several provinces.
In consequence of this independence of several states in New Spain upon the Mexican empire, there was not any considerable intercourse between its various provinces. Even
1) Herrera, dec. 3. lib. X. C. 15. 21. B. Diaz, f. 130. m) Herrera, dec. 3. lib. ii. 6. IO.
in the interior country, not far distant from the capital, there seem to have been no roads to facilitate the communication of one district with another; and when the Spaniards first attempted to penetrate into it, they had to open their way through forests and marshes. n) Cortes , in his adventurous march from Mexico to Honduras in 1525 , met with obstructions, and endured hardships, little inferior to those with which he must have struggled in the most uncivilized regions of America. In some places, he could hardly force a pastage through impervious woods, and plains overflowed with water. In others he found so little cultivation, that his troops were frequently in danger of perishing by famine.
Such facts correspond ill with the pompous description which the Spanish writers give of Mexican police and industry, and convey an idea of a country nearly fimilar to that pofleffed by the Indian tribes in North America. Here and there a trading or a war path, as they are called in North America, led from one settlement to another, o) but generally there appeared no sign of any established communication, few marks of industry, and no monument of art.
Farther proof of this. A proof of this imperfection in their commercial intercourse no less striking , is their