Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

riage to the dukes of Monteleone, who also retained possession of his immense estates in Mexico up to the recent revolutions in the New World.

CHAP. VI.

CONQUEST OF PERU.

NEW EFFORTS OF THE SPANIARDS. - COMBINATION OF PIZARRO,

ALMAGRO, AND LUQUE. FIRST ATTEMPT OF PIZARRO ON PERU. HIS FAILURE. SUCCEEDS IN VISITING THAT COUNTRY. HIS NEGOTIATIONS IN SPAIN. INVADES PERU. SEIZES THE INCA. THE SPANIARDS OBTAIN AN IMMENSE TREASURE. THE INCA PUT TO DEATH, ALMAGRO INVADES CHILI. SUFFERINGS OF THE SPANIARDS. - REVOLT OF THE PERUVIANS. --CIVIL WAR BETWEEN ALMAGRO AND PIZARRO. -ALMAGRO DEFEATED AND PUT TO DEATH. VALDIVIA PENETRATES TO THE SOUTHERN BORDERS OF CHILI. EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF VADILLO.-BENALCAZAR CONQUERS QUITO. - EXPEDITION OF ALVARADO. -GONZALEZ PIZARRO MARCHES IN SEARCH OF THE CINNAMON COUNTRY. DIFFICULTIES OF THE MARCH. — GONZALEZ REACHES THE CINNAMON COUNTRY, AND RASHLY EXPLORES TOWARDS THE EAST.-SUFFERINGS OF THE EXPEDITION.FRANCISCO DE ORELLANA EMBARKS ON THE MARAGNON. DESCENDS THAT RIVER TO THE OCEAN. HE PROPAGATES STORIES OF EL DORADO AND NATIONS OF AMAZONS.

FATE OF ORELLANA, RETURN OF GONZALEZ PIZARRO TO QUITO. REBELLION OF ALMAGRO'S PARTY. - DEATH OF FRANCISCO PIZARRO,

The success of Cortez almost realised the expectations formed respecting the riches of the New World, and revived the declining spirit of adventure. By his sagacious policy, his promptitude, and his courage, he had achieved the first conquest of which the Spaniards could justly boast in that quarter of the globe. Instead of confining his ambition to the establishment of a colony, or to the discovery of new and fertile regions, he attacked and overturned a mighty empire, celebrated by every Indian tribe for its power and civilisation, and capable of yielding an ample revenue. The conquest of Mexico

[ocr errors]

fully proved the vast disproportion that existed in respect to courage, strength, and armour, between the American and European warrior. The armour and the discipline of the Spaniards completely secured them from the assaults of their feeble enemies; who, on the other hand, knew not how to resist a volley of musquetry or a charge of horsemen. The superstitious dread with which the Indians were impressed by the superiority of the Spaniards increased the advantages from which it sprung. From these circumstances, and from the deceitful conduct of Cortez, who always announced himself as an ambassador, the bearer of a friendly message, must be ascribed the fall of Mexico, and not to the remissness or misconduct of Montezuma. Cortez, with his handful of followers, defeated repeatedly the brave Tlascalans, who had successfully defied all the efforts of Mexico to subdue them; he routed at Otumba an immense army of Mexicans, collected at a time when that people had in a great measure lost their fear and were animated by the most bitter hatred of the Spaniards. It cannot be reasonably supposed, therefore, that any political calculations of the Mexican prince could have provided for a conjuncture so extraordinary as the arrival of the Spaniards; or that his prudence could have averted the consequences of an event, all the circumstances of which lay so far beyond his experience, or even his conception.

The facility with which so great a conquest had been effected, excited the Spanish adventurers to nobler exploits than those to which they had been hitherto accustomed. It taught them to rely more confidently on their own strength and the kindness of fortune. When Balboa, after crossing the Isthmus of Darien, had reached Panama, on the South Sea, he there received intelligence of a great nation situated far to the south, possessing the precious metals in abundance, and advanced in the arts of civilised life. These flattering indications of Peru tempted the enterprise of many. But that vast tract of country lying between the settlements at Panama and the northern provinces of Peru, to which the Spa

[ocr errors]

niards gave the name of Tierra Firma, presented so many obstacles to their progress, as to defeat completely all their attempts to penetrate across it. Fruitless marches under continual and heavy rains, in a singularly noxious climate, and through dark forests rendered nearly impervious by the tangled underwood, so broke the health and sunk the spirits of the few who survived such efforts, as to damp the ardour of discovery towards the south ; and even hope almost ceased to look in that direction.

Yet among the Spaniards settled at Panama there were three men whose spirits were proof against discouragement. These were Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and Hernando Luque. The first of these was the natural son of a gentleman, whose name he assumed. He received no education, but was bred up at Truxillo in Estremadura, in the mean employment of a swineherd. The natural energy, however, of young Pizarro's character soon drove him to seek a more active and varied occupation. The wars of Italy offered him a field in which he enlarged his experience and developed his talents. After serving some years in that country, he embarked for America, the grand rendezvous of the bold and needy, where he took a conspicuous part in the disastrous expedition of Hojeda. Almagro was a brave and open-hearted soldier, used to command, and sufficiently ambitious, but neither politic nor designing enough to engage singly in any schemes of aggrandizement. Luque was a wealthy ecclesiastic, who ardently desired to be the spiritual chief of some extensive countries won by the toils of another. Such were the men who combined to overturn the empire of Peru. Each engaged to risk his whole fortune in the adventure: Pizarro, who was the least wealthy of the three, offered to take the post of danger, and to command the armament fitted out for the daring enterprise.

A single vessel, having on board a hundred and twelve men, was all that could be equipped for an expedition from which such important results were expected. Pi

zarro, unacquainted with the navigation of the seas which he intended to cross, commenced his voyage at a season of the year when the winds were directly opposed to his progress southwards.

He touched at several points on the coast of Tierra Firma, but he found every where an uninviting country, covered with swamps and impervious forests. The fatigues of the voyage, the scarcity of provisions, and the maladies peculiar to the climate, reduced considerably the numbers of his followers, who, notwithstanding the example afforded them by the resolution of their leader, gave way to feelings of discouragement and despair. Almagro, who followed Pizarro with a small reinforcement, was equally unsuccessful. At length, having united the feeble remnants of their forces, they withdrew to the little island of Gallo, whence Almagro returned to Panama, to collect fresh troops and make the necessary provisions for a new campaign. But notwithstanding all the precautions of the leaders, the complaints and distresses of the soldiers, who had endured such sufferings in the late expedition, found their way into the colony. It may be easily imagined that the most respectable inhabitants of the new settlements were averse to enterprises, which from their nature held out particular inducements to persons of desperate character and fortune. The waste of life and reckless profligacy of manners which usually attended these wild adventures were not always compensated by a rich harvest of pillage. The expectations held out by Pizarro had miserably failed. So odious had his schemes of conquest become at Panama, that ballads were circulated among the people, in which he was styled the butcher; and Almagro, whose office it was to prepare supplies for his colleague, was called the drover. Pedro de los Rios, the new governor of Panama, obeyed the impulse of popular indignation, and not only prohibited the adventurers from raising recruits within his jurisdiction, but also sent a vessel to the island of Gorgona, where Pizarro had now established himself, to bring back those of his followers who had survived the influence of a peculiarly

[ocr errors]

unhealthy climate. Pizarro drew a line with his sword in the sand, and ordered those who were willing to depart and to relinquish the hopes of splendid conquests to cross it. All accepted the offer but twelve men. With these resolute adherents he remained upon the island, where he endured for some months all the miseries of want and exposure to the weather. At length a vessel arrived from Panama with succours; and Pizarro, whose courage was rather provoked than subdued by the hardships he had undergone, immediately determined to direct his course again to Peru. A voyage of only twenty days brought him within sight of that long-sought country. He touched at several places on the coast; and the Spaniards were no less astonished than gratified by the proofs they saw of industry and opulence among the people. But they had not force sufficient to make a settlement; and having satisfied themselves as to the wealth of the Peruvian empire, they returned in 1527 to Panama. Three years had nearly elapsed since the first expedition was fitted out for the conquest of Peru, and the funds of the associates were now quite exhausted by the expenses of their fruitless efforts. Yet they were far from abandoning an enterprise which they wanted means to prosecute. Their prospects were now brightened by a promising though tardy gleam of success; and hope took the office of calculation.

Pizarro proceeded to Spain, to solicit from the crown of Castile permission to conquer the empire of Peru ; and all his demands were acceded to. He was appointed governor and captain-general of all the country which he should conquer, for an extent of two hundred leagues to the south of the river St. Iago. Before he left Spain, he received a supply of money from Cortez, who, having already amassed great wealth by his achievements in the New World, was willing to assist an old comrade who was about to commence a similar career. * His maternal uncle Francisco de Alcantara, and his three brothers,

* Perhaps there existed some family connection between Cortez and Pizarro. The mother of the former was named Catalina Pizarro.

« ForrigeFortsett »