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He now made his advances gradually, and was more cautious of exposing his men to similar calamities which they still bewailed. As soon as they got possession of any part of the town, the houses were instantly destroyed. Famine now began to rage amongst the Mexicans: the brigantines prevented all supplies coming to their relief by water, and the Indian auxiliaries enabled Cortes to shut up the avenues of the city; not only the common people, but persons of the highest rank felt the utmost distresses of want. These sufferings were succeeded by infectious and mortal distempers: the last calamity that visits besieged cities, and which filled up the measure of their woes. Guatimozin notwithstanding all these various and pressing evils, remained firm and unsubdued. He rejected with scorn every overture of peace with Cortes; disdaining the idea of submitting to the oppressors of his country, and was determined not to survive its ruin. The Spaniards at length with all their divisions, made a secure lodgement in the centre of the city. Three fourths were now laid in ruins. The remaining quarter was so closely pressed that it could not long withstand assailants, who now attacked them with superior advantage, and a more assured prospect of success. The Mexican nobles, solicitous to save the life of a monarch whom they revered, prevailed on Guatimozin to retire from a place, where Resistance was now in vain; that he might rouze the more distant provinces, and maintain there a more successful war, with the public enemy. To facilitate the execution of this measure, they sought to gain time by endeavouring to amuse Cortes with overtures of peace. But they made this attempt upon a leader of greater sagacity and discernment than to be deceived by their arts. Cortes suspecting their intention, and aware of what moment it was best to defeat it, appointed Sandoval, on whose vigilance he could most perfectly rely, to take the command of the brigantines, with strict injunctions to watch every motion of the enemy. Sandoval, attentive to the charge, observing some large canoes crowded with people, rowing across the lake, with uncommon rapidity, instantly gave the signal to chace. Garcia Holguin who commanded the slectest brigantine, soon overtook them, and was preparing to fire on the foremost canoe, which seemed to carry some person whom all the rest followed and obeyed. At once the rowers dropped their oars, and throwing down their arms, conjured him with cries and tears to forbear, as the emperor was there. Holguin eagerly seized his prize, and Guatimozin with a dignified composure gave himself up into his hands, requesting only that no insult might be offered to the empress or his children. When conducted to Cortes, he appeared worthy of a better fate: he discovered none of the sullen fierceness of the barbarian, nor the dejection of a supplicant. “I have done,” said he addressing himself to the Spanish general, “what became a monarch; I have de“ fended my people to the last extremity: nothing now “ remains but to die;....take this dagger,” laying his hand on one Cortes wore, “plant it in my breast, and put an “ end to a life that can no longer be of use.” As soon as the fate of their sovereign was known, all resistance on the part of the Mexicans ceased; and Cortes took possession of the remaining part of the city. Thus terminated the siege of Mexico, the most memorable event in the conquest of America. It continued seventy-five days, not one of which passed without some extraordinary effort of one party in attacking, or of the other in defending, a city, on the fate of which both parties knew that of the empire depended. As the struggle here was more obstinate, it was likewise more equal, than any between the inhabitants of the Old and New Worlds. The great abilities of Guatimozin, the number of his troops, the peculiar situation of his capital, so far counterbalanced the superiority of the Spaniards in arms, and discipline, that they must have relinquished the enterprize if they had trusted to themselves alone. But Mexico was overturned by the jealousy of neighbours, who dreaded its power, and by the revolt of subjects impatient to throw off the yoke. By their effectual aid Cortes was enabled to accomplish what, without such support, he would hardly have ventured to attempt. Great merit is due to the abilities of Cortes, who under every disadvantage, acquir ed such an ascendancy over unknown nations, as to render them instruments towards carrying his schemes into exo cution. The exultation of the Spaniards, on accomplishing this arduous enterprize was at first excessive. But this W*
quickly damped by the disappointment of those sanguine hopes, which had animated them amidst so many hardships and dangers. Instead of the inexhaustible wealth which they expected from becoming masters of Montezuma's treasures, and the ornaments of so many temples, they could only collect an inconsiderable booty, amidst ruins and desolation. According to the account of Cortes, the whole amount was only 120,000 pesos, a sum far inferior to that which the Spaniards had formerly divided in Mexico. This sum, when divided among the conquerors, was so small, that many of them disdained the pittance that fell to their share. Guatimozin aware of his impending fate, had ordered what had remained of the riches amassed by his ancestors, to be thrown into the lake. Cortes from an anxious desire to check the growing discontent among his followers, gave way to a deed which stained the glory of all his great actions. Without regarding the former dignity of Guatimozin, or feeling any reverence for those virtues which he had displayed, he subjected the unhappy monarch, together with his chief favourite, to torture, in order to enforce them to a discovery of the royal treasures, which it was supposed they had concealed. Guatimozin bore whatever the refined cruelty of his tormentors could inflict, with invincible fortitude. His fellow sufferer, overcome by the violence of the anguish, turned a dejected inquiring eye towards his master, and seemed to implore his permission to reveal all that he knew. But the high spirited prince, darting on him a look of authority, mingled with scorn, checked his weakness, by asking, “Am I now reposing on a bed of “flowers?” Overawed by the reproach, he persevered in his dutiful silence, and expired. Cortes ashamed of a scene so horrid, rescued the royal victim from the hands of his torturers, and prolonged a life reserved for new indignities, and sufferings. The provinces now submitted to the conquerors. Small detachments of Spaniards marched through them, without interruption, and penetrated in different quarters, to the great southern ocean, which according to the ideas of Columbus, they imagined would open a short and easy passage to the East Indies.
The active mind of Cortes began already to form schemes for attempting this important discovery. He was ignorant that this very scheme had been undertaken and accomplished, during the progress of his victorious arms in Mexico. Ferdinand Magellan a Portuguese gentleman of honorable birth, having received ill treatment from his general and sovereign, in a transport of resentment formally renounced his allegiance to an ungrateful master, and fled to the court of Castile, in hopes that his worth would be more justly estimated. He revived Columbus's original and favourite project, of discovering a passage to India by a western course. Cardinal Ximenes listened to it with a most favourable ear. Charles V. on his arrival in his Spanish dominions entered into the measure with no less ardour, and orders were issued for equipping a proper squadron at the public charge, of which the command was given to Magellan, whom the king honored with the habit of St. Jago, and the title of captain-general. On the tenth of August, 1519, Magellan sailed from Seville, with five ships, which were deemed at that time of considerable force; though the largest of them did not exceed one hundred and twenty tons burden: the crew of the whole amounted to two hundred and thirty four men, including some of the most skilful pilots in Spain, and, several Portuguese sailors, in whom Magellan placed the most confidence. After touching at the Canaries, he stood directly south, towards the equinoctial line along the coast of America. He did not reach the river De la Plata till the twelfth of January, 1520. That spacious body of water allured him to enter into it, but after sailing for some days he concluded, from the shallowness of the stream, and its freshness, that the wished for strait was not situated there. On the thirty first of March he arrived at the port of St. Julian, at about forty eight degrees of south latitude, where he resolved to winter. In this uncomfortable station he lost one of his squadron, and the Spaniards suffered so much from the inclemency of the climate, that the crews of three of the ships, headed by their officers, rose in open mutiny, and insisted on relinquishing the visionary project of a desperate adventurer, and returning directly to Spain.
This dangerous insurrection Magellan wisely suppressed, by an effort of courage, no less prompt than intrepid; and inflicted exemplary punishment on the ringleaders. With the remainder of his followers, overawed but not reconciled to his scheme, he continued his voyage towards the south, and at length discovered near the fifty third degree of latitude, the mouth of a strait, into which he entered, notwithstanding the murmurs of the people under his command. After sailing twenty days in that winding and dangerous channel, to which he gave his own name, and where one of his ships deserted him, the great southern ocean opened to his view; and with tears of joy, he returned thanks to heaven, for having thus far crowned his endeavours with success. He continued to sail in a north west direction three months and twenty days, without discovering land; in this voyage, the longest that had ever been made in the unbounded ocean, he suffered incredible distress. His stock of provisions was almost exhausted, the water became Putrid, the men were reduced to the shortest allowance, with which it was possible to sustain life; and the scurvy began to spread among them. One circumstance alone afforded consolation. They enjoyed an uninterrupted Succession of fair weather, with such favourable winds, that Magellan bestowed on that ocean the name of Pacific, which it still retains. They would have soon sunk under their sufferings, had they not discovered and fell in with a cluster of islands, whose fertility afforded them refreshments in such abundance, that their health was soon re-established. From these isles to which he gave the name of De los Ladrones, he proceeded on his voyage, and soon made a more important discovery of the islands now known by the name of the Philifflines; in one of these he got into an unfortunate quarrel with the natives, who attacked him with a numerous body of troops well armed ; and while he fought at the head of his men with his usual valour, he fell by the hands of those barbarians, together with several of his principal officers. Other officers took the command, and after touching at several other islands in the Indian ocean, they at length landed at Tidore one of the Moluccas, to the astonishment of the Portuguese, who could not comprehend how the Spaniards, by holding a westerly course, had ar