Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

led by the worst and baseft of all motives, the love of gold, to abuse the advantages the new regions presented to them. The Spaniards, making religion the pretext for their conduet, behaved in almost every place with the most shocking inhumanity. Ferdinando Cortes, with eleven ships and 617 men, refolved to explore the continent of South America. He found the empire of Mexico in a state of great prosperity and fplendour, and considerably advanced in civilization. As the use of fire arms was not then become common, thirteen only of his soldiers were armed with mutkets, thirty-two were cross-bow men, and the rest had fwords and spears. They wore jackets quilted with cotton, which they found a sufficient defence against the weapons of the Mexicans. They had fixteen horses, and ten small field pieces. With this force Cortes went forth to conquer dominions more extensive than all the kingdoms then subject to the Spanish crown. Montezuma, the emperor of the Mexicans, received the Spaniards as if they had been a fuperior order of beings; but he was soon unhappily convinced how much he had over-rated them. Cortes, taking advantage of a flight provocation, seized the emperor, put him in irons, and carried bim off a prisoner to his camp. He was afterwards, when offering to mediate between his own subjects and the Spaniards, pụt to death by one of his own people. The opposition of the Mexicans was feeble and fruitless : the cruelties exercised by their enemies against the royal family, broke their fpirits,

and and Cortes became master of the whole empire, A. D. 1527.

• In the same year, Diego el Almagra and Fran

cis Pizarro, with 950 foot soldiers and 60 horsemen, landed in Peru, a large and flourishing empire, whose inhabitants were mild and timid, governed by an ancient race of monarchs called Incas. The Inca Atabalipa received the Spaniards with much respect; they required him to embrace the Christian faith, and to surrender all his dominions to the emperor Charles Vth, who had obtained a grant of them from the Pope. The proposal not being understood, the innocent monarch was seized by Pizarro, and his troops massacred multitudes of the unresisting people upon the spot. The empire was plundered of its gold and precious ftones ; and Atabalipa being fufpected of concealing part of his treasures, was tried as a criminal, and burnt at the stake. The perpetrators of these atrocities met with the fate they deserved. D’Almagro was sain in a dispute between him and Pizarro, who was soon after afsaffinated by the party of his rival. The Spaniards discovered the filver mines of Potosi, which they compelled the Peruvians to work. This weakly race was foon destroyed by such severe labour, and the mines were afterwards wrought by the negroes of Africa.

weri

[ocr errors]

The Spanish settlements in South America belong to the king, and not to the state. They are

governed

governed by three Viceroys of Mexico, Peru, and Terra Ferma, who exercise supreme, civil, and military authority over the provinces.

:. A few years after the discovery of South America by Columbus, North America was discovered by Sebastian Cabot, in 1499. He was a native of Venice, and employed by the court of England. No attempts were made to plant colonies there till about a century afterwards, when Sir Walter Ralegh, a distinguished soldier and sailor, an accomplifhed seholar, and one of the brightest ornaments of his age, planted the colony of Virginia, so named in honour of Queen Elizabeth. New York and Pensylvania were in the hands of the Dutch, till conquered by the English in the reign of Charles II., who granted the latter province to William Penn, a man of the greatest probity and active benevolence. In his character and conduct we see a complete contrast to Cortez and Pizarro. He treated the natives of his province with kindness; obtained territory from them not by violence and war, but by purchase and full consent. His name is often repeated among the American tribes, as the benefactor of their ancestors.

Among English navigators of more recent times, we distinguish Captains Carteret and Wallis, who in the year 1766 discovered, in the South Seas, the beautiful island of Otaheite.. In 1768, Captain Cook, accompanied by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr. Solander, visited that ifland for the purpose of

observing

obferving the transit of the planet Venus over the dilk of the fun, and made several accurate observations on the climate, soil, productions, and inhabitants. Captain Cook continued his voyage, discovered the Society Islands, and Oheterea, and made an accurate survey of the coasts of New Zealand, New Holland, and New Guinea. In the year 1772, this skilful and adventurous navigator undertook a second voyage, for the purpose of making discoveries in the southern polar regions, but was stopped in his progress by vast shoals of ice, in latitude 71° 10' south, and longitude 106° 51' west. He afterwards discovered New Caledonia, and a large and dreary iland, which he called South Georgia, with various capes, and lofty snow clad coasts, to the most southern part of which he gave the name of the Southern Thule, as the land nearest to the south pole hitherto ascertained. He made the circuit of the vast southern ocean in such a manner as to afcertain that no continent exifted in that direction, except so near the pole as to be inaccessible by Tips. He performed his voyage from England, of three years and eightcen days, throughout all climates from 52 degrees north latitude to 71 south, with the loss of only one man by fickness. The health of the crew was preserved by the great humanity of the captain, and his attention to every circumstance that could promote fobriety, cleanliness, and regularity.

From 1776 to 1779, Captains Cook and Clarke,

in the ships Resolution and Discovery, were engaged in a voyage in search of a north-west passage between the continents of Asia and America. Cook discovered the Sandwich Islands, whence he proceeded to explore the north-west coast of America ; and on his return from that coast, he was unhappily killed in a quarrel with the natives on the island of Owhyhee, October 14th, 1779. His death was lamented not only in his native country, but in all parts of Europe, where his great merit and public services to the cause of navigation were well known. This voyage ascertained the western boundaries of the great continent of America, and proved, that no practicable passage exists between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans towards the north. The means by which the conquest of the New World was achieved, were not so much owing to superior strength and courage as to the use of fire arms. If the natives had been in poffeffion of gunpowder and iron, the Spaniards must have resorted to other methods to effect their purpose. Their fears would have induced them to respect the rights of mankind ; whilst their avarice would have prompted them to resort to the pacific measures of commerce.

The advantages resulting from the discovery and the colonization of the New World, have been nearly all reaped by the Europeans. They have increased their skill in the art of navigation, and confirmed their fpirit of adventure. They have obtained a more extensive acquaintance with the

works

« ElőzőTovább »