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these other favorite pictures, to the noble art which he had loved with a love which cares and
and sick ness could not quench, and that will ever be remembered 6 with his better fame. Thus occupied, he remained so long abstracted and motionless that Mathisio, who was on the watch, thought it right to awaken him from his reverie. On being spoken to, he turned round and complained that he was ill. The doctor felt his pulse, and pronounced him in a fever. Again the afternoon sun was shining over the great walnut-tree full into the gallery. From this pleasant spot, filled with the fragrance of the garden and the murmur of the fountain, and bright with glimpses of the golden Vera, they carried him to the gloomy chamber of his sleepless nights, and laid him on the bed from which he was to rise no more.
VIEW OF MEXICO FROM THE SUMMIT OF
PRESCOTT's “SPANISH CONQUEST OF MEXICO."
These scenes from Mexican history are taken from Prescott's “Spanish Conquest of Mexico.” The conquests of Spain in the western hemisphere were very extensive, and were principally made during the sixteenth century, the great era of Spanish glory. The exploits of her commanders in the Western World, while not devoid of cruelty, were full of adventure and romantic daring. These remarks apply especially to Cortez, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, whose career was marked by thrilling scenes and “moving incidents.” Spain has now lost nearly all her possessions in the western hemisphere. The student should remember that the Spanish settlement of Florida was made before the English settlements
of Roanoke Island and Jamestown. 1 THEIR progress was now comparatively easy, and they
marched forward with a buoyant step, as they felt they
were treading the soil of Montezuma. They had not advanced far when, turning an angle of the Sierra, they suddenly came on a view which more than compensated the toils of the preceding day. It was that of the valley of Mexico, or Tenochtitlan, as more commonly called by the natives, which, with its picturesque assemblage of water, woodland, and cultivated plains, its shining cities and shadowy hills, was spread out like some gay and gorgeous panorama before them. In the highly rarefied 2 atmosphere of these upper regions, even remote objects have a brilliancy of coloring and a distinctness of outline which seem to annihilate distance. Stretching far away at their feet were seen noble forests of oak, sycamore, and cedar, and beyond, yellow fields of maize, and the towering maguey, intermingled with orchards and blooming gardens; for flowers, in such demand for their religious festivals, were even more abundant in this populous valley than in other parts of Anahuac. In the center of the 3 great basin were beheld the lakes, occupying then a much larger portion of its surface than at present, their borders thickly studded with towns and hamlets; and in the midst—like some Indian empress with her coronal of pearls—the fair city of Mexico, with her white towers and pyramidal temples, reposing, as it were, on the bosom of the waters—the far-famed “ Venice of the Aztecs." High over all rose the royal hill of Chapultepec, the residence of the Mexican monarchs, crowned with the same grove of gigantic cypresses which at this day fling their broad shadows over the land. In the distance, beyond the 4 blue waters of the lake, and nearly screened by intervening foliage, was seen a shining speck, the rival capital of Tezcuco; and still farther on, the dark belt of porphyry, girdling the valley around, like a rich setting which Nature had devised for the fairest of her jewels. Such was
the beautiful vision which broke on the
of the conquerors. And even now, when so sad a change has come over the scene; when the stately forests have been laid low, and the soil, unsheltered from the fierce radiance of a tropical sun, is in many places abandoned to sterility; when the waters have retired, leaving a broad and ghastly margin white with the incrustation of salts, while the cities and hamlets on their borders have moldered into ruins; even now that desolation broods over the landscape, so indestructible are the lines of beauty which Nature has traced on its features, that no traveler, however cold, can gaze on them with any other emotions than 5 those of astonishment and rapture. What, then, must have been the emotions of the Spaniards, when, after working their toilsome way into the upper air, the cloudy tabernacle parted before their eyes, and they beheld these fair scenes in all their pristine magnificence and beauty! It was like the spectacle which greeted the eyes of Moses from the summit of Pisgah, and in the warm glow of their feelings they cried out, “ It is the promised land !”
SPAIN IN THE AGE OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA.
PRESCOTT's “HISTORY OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA."
It was during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella that the foundations of Spanish greatness were laid. The Moors were completely prostrated, the Spanish power was consolidated, and Spain began that career of greatness which lasted until the latter part of the sixteenth century. The good Queen Isabella was the friend and patron of Columbus. How was Charles V, Emperor of Germany,
related to Ferdinand and Isabella? 1 The extraordinary circumstances of the country tended
naturally to nourish the lofty, romantic qualities, and the
somewhat exaggerated tone of sentiment, which always
in all its splendors in the war of Granada.
had not faded away in Spain, as in most other lands. It was fostered, in time of peace, by the tourneys, jousts, and other warlike pageants which graced the court of Isabella. It gleamed out, as we have seen, in the Italian campaigns under Gonsalvo de Cordova, and shone forth right gentle war,” says Navagiero, in a passage too pertinent to be omitted, "in which, as fire-arms were comparatively little used, each knight had the opportunity of passed without some feat of arms and valorous exploit. showing his personal prowess; and rare was it that a day The nobility and chivalry of the land all thronged there 2 her whole court, breathed courage into every heart.
Queen Isabella, who attended with There was scarce a cavalier who was not enamored of some one or other of her ladies, the witness of his achievements, and who, as she presented him his weapons, or some token of her favor, admonished him to bear himself like a true knight, and show the strength of his not have been more than a match for the stoutest adverthen,” exclaims the chivalrous Venetian, “ that he would sary; or who would not sooner have lost his life a thousaid to have been achieved by love rather than by arms." The Spaniard was a knight-errant, in its literal sense
« This was a
to gather renown.
passion by his valiant deeds. What knight so
sand times than return dishonored by the lady love. In truth,” he concludes, “ this conquest
of his may be
roving over seas
on which no bark had ever ventured among islands and continents where no civilized
man ha ever trodden, and which fancy peopled with all the ma vels and drear enchantments of romance ; courting da ger in every form, combating everywhere, and
where victorious. The very odds presented by the defenseless natives among whom he was cast—" a thousand of whom,” to quote the words of Columbus, “were not equal to three Spaniards”—was in itself typical of his profession; and the brilliant destinies to which the meanest adventurer was often called, now carving out with his good sword some “El Dorado” more splendid than fancy had dreamed of, and now overturning some old barbaric dynasty, were full as extraordinary as the wildest chimeras which Ariosto ever sang, or Cervantes
satirized. 4 His countrymen who remained at home, feeding greedily on the reports of his adventures, lived almost equally in an atmosphere of romance. A spirit of chivalrous enthusiasm penetrated the very depths of the nation, swelling the humblest individual with lofty aspirations, and a proud consciousness of the dignity of his nature. “The princely disposition of the Spaniards," says a foreigner of the time, “ delighteth me much, as well as the gentle nurture and noble conversation, not merely of those of high degree, but of the citizen, peasant, and common laborer." What wonder that such sentiments should be found incompatible with sober, methodical habits of business, or that the nation indulging them should be seduced from the humble paths of domestic industry to a brilliant and bolder career of adventure! Such consequences became too apparent in the following reign.
5 The glories of the age of Charles V must find their true source in the measures of his illustrious predeces
It was in their court that Boscan, Garcilasso, Mendoza, and the other master spirits were trained, who molded Castilian literature into the new and more classical forms of later times. It was under Gonsalvo de