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ing an enemy always on his guard, they did not venture to molest them. Sandoval had the glory of conducting safely to Tezcuco a convoy on which all the future operations of his countrymen depended. The joy occasioned by the safe arrival of the convoy was encreased by the arrival of four ships from Hispaniola, with two hundred soldiers, eighty horses, two battering cannon, and a fresh supply of arms and ammunition. Elevated with this additional strength, Cortes was impatient to begin the siege in form, and hastened the launching of the brigantines. He employed a vast number of Indians for two months in deepening a small creek that emptied into the lake, so as to form a canal two miles in length. The Mexicans aware of the danger that threatened them, endeavoured to interrupt the labourers, or to burn the brigantines, but in vain: the work was at last compleated. On the twentyeighth of April, 1521, all the Spanish troops with the auxi. liary Indians, were drawn up on the banks of the canal; and with great military pomp, rendered more solemn by the celebration of religious rites, the brigantines were launched. As they passed down the canal, father Olmedo blessed them, and gave to each a name. Every eye followed them with wonder and hope, until they entered the lake, when they hoisted their sails, and bore away before the wind. A general shout of joy was raised; all admiring that bold inventive genius, which by means so extraordinary had acquired the command of a fleet, without the aid of which, Mexico would have set power and arms at defi. all CCs Cortes prepared to attack the city from three different quarters, from Tezcuco on the east side of the lake, from Tacuba on the west, and from Cuyocan towards the south. Those towns were situated on the principal causeways which led to the capital, and intended for their defence. Sandoval commanded in the first, Pedro de Alvarado in the second, and Christoval de Olid in the third; allotting to each a numerous body of Indian auxiliaries, together with an equal division of Spaniards, who, by the junction of the troops from Hispaniola amounted to eighty-six horse. men, and eight hundred and eighteen foot-soldiers; of
* whom one hundred and eighteen were armed with muskets or cross bows. Their train of artillery was three battering cannon, and fifteen field-pieces. He reserved for himself, as the station of the greatest importance and danger, the conduct of the brigantines, each aimed with one of his small cannon, and manned with twenty-five Spaniards. o As Alvarado and Olid proceeded to the posts assigned them, they broke down the aqueducts which the Mexicans had erected to convey water into the capital, and was the beginning of the distresses which the inhabitants were destined to suffer. The towns which they were ordered to take possession of, were deserted by the inhabitants, who had fled for safety to the capital, where Guatimozin had collected the chief force of his empire, as the only place where he could hope to make a successful stand against such formidable enemies, who were approaching to assault him. The first effort of the Mexicans was to destroy the brigantines, the fatal effects of whose operations they foresaw and dreaded. Necessity urged Guatimozin to hazard an attack: he assembled such a multitude of canoes as covered the face of the lake, hoping to overwhelm them With numbers. They rowed on boldly to the charge, While the brigantines retarded by a dead calm, could scarcely advance to meet them. But as the enemy drew near, a breeze suddenly sprung up, in a moment the sails were $pread, and the brigantines, with irresistible impetuosity, broke through their feeble opponents; overset many of their canoes, and dispersed the whole armament with such slaughter, as convinced the Mexicans, that their enemies Were as formidable on this new element as they had found them on land. Cottes after this remained absolute master of the lake, and the brigantines preserved a communication between the Spaniards in their different stations, though at a considerable distance from each other, and at the same time °overed the causeways, keeping off the canoes when they *\tempted to annoy the troops as they advanced towards the city. The Mexicans, in their own defence, displayed such valour as was hardly inferior to that with which the Spaniards attacked them. On land, on water, by night and by day, one furious conflict succeeded another. Several WOL. I. N
Spaniards were killed, more wounded, and all were ready to sink under the toils of unremitting service, which had become more intolerable by the injuries of the season; the periodical rains having set in with their usual violence. Cortes, astonished at the difficulties and length of the siege, determined to make one great effort to get posses. sion of the city, before he relinquished the plan which he had hitherto proposed. With this view he sent instructions to Alvarado and Sandoval, to advance with their divisions to a general assault, and took the command in person of that posted on the causeway of Cuyocan. Animated by his presence, and expecting some decisive event, the Spaniards pressed forward with irresistible impetuosity. They broke down one barricade after another, forced their way over the ditches and canals, and having entered the city, they gained ground incessantly, notwith: standing the multitude and ferocity of their enemies. Cortes, though delighted with the rapidity of his progress, did not forget that he might find it necessary to make a retreat; and in order to secure it, appointe Julian de Alderete, a captain of chief note in the troops which he had received from Hispaniola, to fill up the canals and gaps, in the causeway, as the main body advanced. That officer thinking it beneath him to be thus employed, while his companions were in the heat of action, and in full career of victory, neglected the important charge, and hurried on to join his companions in armS. The Mexicans, whose military skill was daily improv: ing, no sooner observed this, than they carried an account of it to their monarch. Guatimozin instantly discerned the consequences of the error which the Spaniards had committed, and with admirable presence of mind, propared to take advantage of it. He commanded the troops posted in the front to slacken their efforts, that the Spa. niards might be allured to push forwards, while he dio patched a large body of chosen warriors through differen: streets, some by land, and others by water, towaro the great breach in the causeway which had been lest open. On a signal given, the priests in the principal temple, struck the great drum consecrated to the god of war. No
sooner did the Mexicans hear its doleful solemn sound, calculated to inspire them with a contempt of death, than they rushed upon the enemy with frantic rage. The Spaniards, unable to resist men urged on by religious fury, began to retire at first in good order; but, as the enemy pressed on, the terror and confusion became general ; so that when they arrived at the gap in the causeway, Spaniards and Tlascalans, horsemen and infantry, plunged in promiscuously, while the Mexicans rushed in upon them fiercely from every side, their light canoes carrying them over shoals where the brigantines could not approach. In vain did Cortes attempt to rally his forces: fear rendered them regardless of his entreaties or commands. Finding all his endeavours to renew the combat fruitless, his next care was to save those who had thrown themselves into the water; but while he was thus employed with more attention to their situation than his own, six Mexican captains suddenly laid hold of him, and were hurrying him off in triumph ; and, though two of his officers rescued him at the expense of their lives, he received several dan£erous wounds, before he could disengage himself. About sixty Spaniards perished in this encounter: and, what rendered the disaster still more afflicting, forty of these fell alive into the hands of an enemy never known to shew mercy to a captive. Night, though it delivered the Spaniards from the attacks of the enemy, ushered in what was no less grievous: the noise of their barbarous triumph, and the horrid festival with which they celebrated their victory. Every quar“r of the city was illuminated: the great temple shone With peculiar splendour; so that the Spaniards could plainly see the people in motion, and the priests busy in astening the death of the prisoners. They fancied they °ould discover their companions by the whiteness of their *kins, as they were stripped naked to dance before the *Age of the god, to whom they were offered. They heard the shrieks of those who were sacrificed, *nd thought they could distinguish each unhappy victim by the sound of his voice. Imagination added to, and aug*ented the horror. The most unfeeling melted into tears of compassion, and the stoutest heart trembled at the adful spectacle which they beheld.
Cortes, who felt in common with his soldiers, was oppressed with an additional load of anxious reflections, natural to a general on such an unexpected calamity; he could not like them, relieve his mind by giving vent to its anguish. He was obliged to assume an air of tranquillity, in order to revive the drooping spirits and hopes of his followers. The juncture, indeed, required an extraordinary exertion of courage. The Mexicans elated with their victory, sallied out next morning to attack him in his quarters. But they did not rely on the efforts of their own arms alone. They sent the heads of the Spaniards whom they had sacrificed, to the leading men in the adjacent provinces, and assured them that the god of war, appeased by the blood of the invaders, which had been shed so plentifully on his altars, had declared, with an audible voice, that in eight days time, those hated enemies should be finally destroyed, and peace and prosperity established in the empire. This prediction being uttered without any ambiguity, gained universal credit among the natives; several of the provinces, which had hitherto remained inactive, took up arms with enthusiastic ardour; even the Tlascalans were led to relax in their fidelity, and Cortes and his Spaniards were almost left alone in their stations. Cortes, finding that he attempted in vain to dispel the superstitious fears of his confederates, took advantage of the imprudence of those who had framed the prophecy, in fixing its accomplishment so near at hand, to give them a striking demonstration of its falsity. He suspended all military operations during the period marked out by the oracle; and, under cover of the brigantines, his troops lay in safety : the enemy was kept at a distance, and the fatal term expired without any disaster. His allies, ashamed of their own credulity, returned to their station. Other tribes now veered about, from a belief that the gods had deceived the Mexicans, and had decreed finally to withdraw their protection from them: such was the levity of this simple race of men. In a short time, according to the account of Cortes, he was at the head of a hundred and fifty thousand Indians. Notwithstanding this large addition of strength, he found it necessary to adopt a more wary system of operations.