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HISTORY OF COLONIZATION.
In order to avoid frequent interruptions in the course of the narrative, it nas been deemed advisable to reserve the account of the principa. European colonies for the close of the volume, and thus to bring before the reader one of the most remarkable features in modern history. The discovery of a new world gave an extraordinary impulse to emigration, and produced one of the most striking series of events in the annals of mankind. The subject naturally divides itself into two great parts-the European colonies in the western, and those in the eastern world ; and to the former we shall first direct our attention.
SECTION I.-The Establishment of the Spaniards in Mexico. IMMEDIATELY after the discovery of America, the first Spanish colony was established in Hispaniola, better known by the more modern name of St. Domingo. The queen Isabella had given strict orders to protect the Indians, and had issued a proclamation prohibiting the Spaniards from compelling them to work. The natives, who considered exemption from toil as supreme felicity, resisted every attempt to induce them to labor for hire, and so many Spaniards fell victims to the diseases peculiar to the climate, that hands were wanting to work the mines or till the soil. A system of compulsory labor was therefore adopted almost by necessity, and it was soon extended, until the Indians were reduced to hopeless slavery. The mines of Hispaniola, when first discovered, were exceedingly productive, and the riches acquired by the early adventurers attracted fresh crowds of greedy but enterprising settlers to its shores. The hardships to which the Indians were subjected, rapidly decreased their numbers, and in the same proportion diminished the profits of the adventurers. It was therefore resolved to seek new settlements; the island of Puerto Rico was annexed to the Spanish dominions, and its unfortunate inhabitants were subjected to the same cruel tyranny as the natives of Hispaniola. The island of Cuba was next conquered; though it is seven hundred miles in length, and was then densely populated, such was the unwarlike character of the inhabitants, that three hundred Spaniards were sufficient for its total subjugation.
More important conquests were opened by the intrepidity of Balboa, who had founded a small settlement on the isthmus of Darien.
At length the Spaniards began to prepare an expedition for establishing their empire on the American continent. An armament was organized in Cuba, and the command intrusted to Fernando Cortez, a commander possessing great skill and bravery, but avaricious and cruel even beyond the general average of his countrymen at that period. On the 2d of April, 1519, this bold adventurer entered the harbor of St. Juan de Uloa, on the coast of Yucatan. By means of a female captive, he was enabled to open communications with the natives ; and they, instead of opposing the entrance of these fatal guests into their country, assisted them in all their operations with an alacrity of which they too soon had reason to repent. The Mexicans had attained a pretty high degree of civilization; they had a regular government, a system of law, and an established priesthood; they recorded events by a species of picture-writing, not so perfect as the Egyptian system of hieroglyphics, but which, nevertheless, admitted more minuteness and particularity than is generally imagined; their architectural structures were remarkable for their strength and beauty; they had advanced so far in science as to construct a pretty accurate calendar; and they possessed considerable skill, not only in the useful, but also in the ornamental arts of life. Cortez saw that such a nation must be treated differently from the rude savages in the islands; he therefore concealed his real intentions, and merely demanded to be introduced to the sovereign of the country, the emperor Montezuma.
The Indian caziques were unwilling to admit strangers possessed of such formidable weapons as muskets and artillery into the interior of their country; and Montezuma, who was of a weak and cowardly disposition, was still more reluctant to receive a visit from strangers, of whose prowess he had received an exaggerated description. He therefore resolved to temporize, and sent ambassadors to Cortez with rich presents, declining the proposed interview. But these magnificent gifts served only to increase the rapacity of the Spaniards. Cortez resolved to temporize ; he changed his camp into a permanent settlement, which subsequently grew into the city of Vera Cruz, and patiently watched from his intrenchments the course of events. He had not long continued in this position, when he received an embassy from the Zempoallans, a tribe which had been long discontented with the government of Monte
He immediately entered into a close alliance with these disaffected subjects, and sent an embassy to Spain to procure a ratification of his powers, and set fire to his fleet, in order that his companions, deprived of all hope of escape, should look for safety only in victory. Having completed his preparations, he marched through an unknown country to subdue a mighty empire, with a force amounting to five hundred foot, fifteen horsemen, and six pieces of artillery. His first hostile encounter was with the Tlascalans, the most warlike race in Mexico; their country was a republic, under the protection of the empire, and they fought with the fury of men animated by a love of freedom. But nothing could resist the superiority which their firearms gave the Spaniards; the Tlascalans, after several defeats, yielded themselves as vassals to the crown of Spain, and engaged to assist Cortez in all his future operations. Aided by six thousand of these new allies, he advanced to Cholula, a town of great importance, where, by Montezuma's order, he was received with open professions of friendship, while plans were secretly devised for his destruction. Cortez discovered the plot, and punished it by the massacre of six thousand of the citizens the rest were so terrified, that, at the command of the Spaniard, they returned to their usual occupations, and treated with the utmost respect the men whose hands were stained with the blood of their countrymen.
As a picture of national prosperity long since extinct, we shall here insert the description given by Cortez in his despatches to the Spanish monarch of the ancient city of Tlascala, which still exists, though much decayed : “ This city is so extensive, so well worthy of admiration, that although I omit much that I could say of it, I feel assured that the little I shall say will be scarcely credited, since it is larger than Granada, and much stronger, and contains as many fine houses and a much larger population than that city did at the time of its capture; and it is much better supplied with the products of the earth, such as corn, and with fowls and game, fish from the rivers, various kinds of vegetables, and other excellent articles of food. There is in this city a market, in which every day thirty thousand people are engaged in buying and selling, besides many other merchants who are scattered about the city. The market contains a great variety of articles both of food and clothing, and all kinds of shoes for the feet; jewels of gold and silver, and precious stones, and ornaments of feathers, all as well arranged as they can possibly be found in any public squares or markets in the world. There is much earthenware of every style and a good quality, equal to the best of Spanish manufacture. Wood, coal, edible and medicinal plants, are sold in great quantities. There are houses where they wash and shave the heads as barbers, and also for baths. Finally, there is found among them a well-regulated police ; the people are rational and well disposed, and altogether greatly superior to the most civilized African nation."
From Cholula, Cortez advanced toward the city of Mexico, and had almost reached its gates before the feeble Montezuma had determined whether he should receive him as a friend or as an enemy. After some hesitation, Montezuma went forth to meet Cortez, with all the magnificence of barbarous parade, and granted the Spaniards a lodging in the capital.
But notwithstanding his apparent triumph, the situation of Cortez was one of extraordinary danger and perplexity. He was in a city surrounded by a lake, the bridges and causeways of which might easily be broken ; and his little band, thus cut off from all communication with its allies, must then have fallen victims to superior numbers. To avert this danger, he adopted the bold resolution of seizing Montezuma as a hostage for his safety, and he actually brought him a prisoner to the Spanish quarters. Under pretence of gratifying the monarch's curiosity to see the structure of European vessels, the Spaniards built two brigantines, and launched them on the lake, thus securing to themselves the means of retreat in case of any reverse of fortune.
The ostensible pretext for this act of violence was that a cazique, named Qualpopoca, had slain several Spaniards in the city of Nautecal or Almeira. The account which Cortez gives of the transaction is too singular to bo omitted, especially as his despatches are utterly unknown in this country. It will be seen that he never gives Montezuma, or as he writes his name, Muteczuma the title of king or emperor, but speaks of him as if his right to royalty had been sacrificed from the moment that the Spaniards had landed in his country.
The offending cazique, Qualpopoca, was brought to the capital, as our readers are probably aware, and, with his followers, was burnt alive. Cortez tells this part of the story with much naïveté : “ So they were publicly burnt in a square of the city, without creating any disturbance; and on the day of their execution, as they confessed that Muteczuma had directed them to kill the Spaniards, I caused him to be put in irons, which threw hini into great consternation.” All this was manifestly done merely from the motives above intimated, amely, “to subserve the interests of your majesty and our own security ;" yet Cortez had some apprehension lest he might offend royal sympathies, and so, in respect of his demeanor toward Montezuma, he writes to the emperor :
“ Such was the kindness of my treatment toward him, and his own contentment with his situation, that when at different times I tempted him with the offer of his liberty, begging that he would return to his palace, he as often replied that he was well pleased with his present quarters, and did not wish to leave them, as he wanted nothing that he was accustomed to enjoy in his own palace; and that in case he went away, there would be reason to fear the importunities of the local gov. ernors, his vassals, might lead him to act against his own wishes, and in opposition to your majesty, while he desired in every possible manner to promote your majesty's service ; that so far he had informed them what he desired to have done, and was well content to remain where he was; and should they wish to suggest anything to him, he could answer that he was not at liberty, and thus excuse himself from attending to them."
Cortez thus describes the original city of Mexico, which he soon afterward totally destroyed : “ This great city of Temixtitan (Mexico) is situated in this salt lake, and from the main land to the denser parts of it, by whichever route one chooses to enter, the distance is two leagues. There are four avenues or entrances to the city, all of which are formed by artificial causeways, two spears' length in width. The city is as large as Seville or Cordova ; its streets (I speak of the principal ones) are very wide and straight; some of them, and all the inferior ones, are half land and half water, and are navigated by canoes.
This city has many public squares, in which are situated the markets and other places for buying and selling. There is one square twice as large as that of the city of Salamanca, surrounded by porticoes, where are daily assembled more than sixty thousand souls, engaged in buying and selling; and where are found all kinds of merchandise that the world affords, embracing the necessaries of life, as, for instance, articles of food, as well as jewels of gold and silver, lead, brass, copper, tin, precious stones, bones, shells, snails, and feathers. There are also exposed for sale wrought and unwrought stone, bricks burnt and unburnt, timber hewn and unhewn, of different sorts.
Every kind of merchandise is sold in a particular street or quarter assigned to it exclusively, and thus the best order is preserved. They sell everything by number or measure ; at least so far we have not observed them to sell anything by weight. There is a building in the great square that is used as an audience-house, where ten or twelve persons, who are magistrates, sit and decide all controversies that arise in the market, and order delinquents to be punished. In the same square there are other persons who go constantly about among the people, observing what is sold, and the measures used in selling; and they have been seen to break measures that were not true. This great city contains a large number of temples, or houses for their idols, very handsome edifices, which are situated in the different districts and the suburbs : in the principal ones religious persons of each particular sect are constantly residing, for whose use beside the houses containing the idols there are other convenient habitations. All these persons dress in black, and never cut or comb their hair from the time they enter the priesthood until they leave it; and all the sons of the principal inhabitants, both nobles and respectable citizens, are placed in the temples, and wear the same dress from the age of seven or eight years until they are taken out to be married ; which occurs more frequently with the first-born who inherit estates than with the others. The priests are debarred from female society, nor is any woman permitted to enter the religious houses. They also abstain from eating certain kinds of food, more at some seasons of the year than others. Among these temples there is one which far surpasses all the rest, whose grandeur of architectural details no human tongue is able to describe ; for within its precincts, surrounded by a lofty wall, there is room enough for a town of five hundred families. Around the interior of this enclosure there are handsome edifices, containing large halls and corridors, in which the religious persons attached to the temple reside. There are full forty towers, which are lofty and well built, the largest of which has fifty steps leading to its main body, and is higher than the tower of the principal church at Seville. The stone and wood of which they are constructed are so well wrought in every part, that nothing could be better done, for the interior of the chapels containing the idols consists of curious imagery, wrought in stone, with plaster ceilings, and woodwork carved in relief, and painted with figures of monsters and other objects. All these towers are the burial-places of the nobles, and every chapel in them is dedicated to a particular idol, to which they pay their devotions."
But danger impended over Cortez from an unexpected quarter. The governor of Cuba, anxious to share in the plunder of Mexico, of whose wealth, great as it really was, he had received very exaggerated statements, sent a new armament, under the command of Narvaez, to deprive the conqueror of the fruits of his victory. Cortez, leaving a small garrison in Mexico, marched against Narvaez, and by a series of prudent operations, not only overcame him, but induced his followers to enlist under his own banners. This reinforcement was particularly valuable at a time when the Mexicans, weary of Spanish cruelty and tyranny, had resolved to make the most desperate efforts for expelling the invaders. Scarcely had Cortez returned to Mexico, when his quarters were attacked with desperate fury; and though thousands of the assailants were slain, fresh thousands eagerly hurried forward to take their place. At length Cortez brought out Montezuma in his royal robes on the ramparts, trusting that his influence over his subjects would induce them to suspend hostilities. But the unfortunate emperor was mortally wounded by a missile flung by one of his own subjects; and Cortez, having done