Page images

wanting in the actions of the latter proofs of a weak and vacillating spirit, somewhat at variance with the character described by his biographers: as these however will be better shown by the sequel, we proceed with the narrative.

Having assisted to the utmost in destroying the city of Mexico, Ixtlilxochitl now thought fit to rebuild it, and accordingly employed 100,000 masons to complete the task. About the same time Cortez sent information of what had happened to the Emperor Ferdinand, and received in return a vessel bearing a cargo of ammunition and holy friars, and his master's approval of all that he had done. Cortez then informed Ixtlilxochitl, that in the name of the emperor he conferred upon him and his successors three provinces, Otumba, Ptzenheohuac, and Cholula; to which gracious speech Ixtlilxochitl replied, that they already belonged to him and his successors, with many other provinces. Cortez, according to our author, was struck with the truth of what his friend had said, and answered not a single word.

Shortly after this, several noblemen, who had escaped from Mexico, hearing that their emperor had been tortured, took up arms against the Spaniards, but were appeased, though with great difficulty, by the prince: several fell into the hands of Cortez, who condemned most of them to the gibbet; but being somewhat of a Utilitarian, he caused the remainder to be thrown to the dogs. Among the latter was Cuanecoxtzin, the brother of Ixtlilxochitl; and this prince, being naturally displeased, caused his people to drag off the animals.

A large party of Spaniards had been placed in a town called Pamico, to prevent the inhabitants from revolting, and causing fresh difficulties to the conquerors; but the garrison, instead of conciliating the citizens, pillaged their houses, seized their valuables, and in fact put upon them every insult and injury that could be devised.

The Paysician were not a people to submit long to this treatment, like most of the Mexicans they were of a fierce and resolute temper, and by no means well inclined to the Spanish yoke; accordingly they rose suddenly upon the oppressors, and in one night killed nearly 400 Christians. Cortez despatched Sandoval and Ixtlilxochitl to subdue and punish the rebels; their force consisted of 150 Spaniards and 50,000 natives, with which they defeated the Mexicans in two engagements, and arrived at the town in time to save about 100 Spaniards, who were to have been sacrificed the next day. The allies took a large number of prisoners, 450 of whom were burned to death by order of Cortez.

In the middle of the year 1524, the Pope's Vicar, Martin de



Valence, and two priests entered the country of Chicuacen and Teepuk for the purpose of converting and baptizing the natives : they were the first by whom the evangelical law was promulgated among the natives. Immediately Ixtlilxochitl and his brother Quatemoc heard of their mission, they despatched messengers to supply them with all they required, and to invite them to Tezcuco. On their arrival in this town, the princes came forth to meet them, and conducted them to apartments in the royal palace which had been set aside for their use. Ixtlilxochitl supplied them with ornaments and tapestry for the chapel; and having set up a small crucifix and a figure of the Virgin, they celebrated mass and chaunted vespers for the first time in that country.

Cortez and the Spaniards assisted at the ceremony as well as the principal Indian chiefs; and Father Pedro de Gante having explained the nature of his faith, Ixtlilxochitl demanded to be baptized. He received the name of Fernando, Cortez standing as his godfather, after which, Cohuanacotzin and the principal nobles received the outward forms of that faith to which they had for some time belonged. The queen, Tlacoxhuabzin, the mother of our hero, was however bigoted in her idolatry, and refused to become a Christian: she took refuge in a temple, and when her son followed in the hope of prevailing with her, she bitterly reproached him with his defection from his country and gods. Even the meek spirit of the new convert took fire at last, and entering furiously into the temple, he declared that he would cause her to be burned alive. This and other filial remonstrances prevailed at last over the obdurate old lady, and she became a Christian, under the name of Marie. She was the first Mexican female baptized.

In the month of October the expedition of Ibuera's commenced. Ixtlilxochitl joined Cortez with a force of about 20,000 men, leaving his kingdom in the custody of Joqunquani, one of his officers; while Cortez appointed Alonza de Estrada and Rodrigo de Albornos governors of Mexico in his absence. Scarcely had the expedition departed, when the new governors discovered several dangerous conspiracies among their countrymen the disaffection spread through the whole of the Spaniards, and they vented their spleen on the unoffending natives, maltreating and defrauding them in every possible manner, till the sufferers ended the matter by rising and killing every Christian they could find. The priests, who had tried in vain to prevent the Spaniards from ill-treating the natives, now tried as vainly to appease the insurgents. The latter declared that Cortez had left the town with their countrymen and princes merely that he might treacherously destroy them; while the Spaniards

were in great wrath with the churchmen for having taken the part of the Mexicans. On one occasion, a pious monk having in his sermon reproved the Spaniards for their backslidings the brutal soldiers rose against the old man, and would have cast him out of the pulpit, but for the interventions of Martin de Valence, who exhorted them not to reduce themselves to the level of barbarians. These tidings soon overtook Ixtlilxochitl, who directed, that if the holy fathers were not well treated in their present residence, they should retire to Tezcuco, where a guard should protect them day and night, and every preparation be made for their convenience; Cortez, to put a stop to the outrages, despatched two officers to supersede the actual governors, but this remedy only increased the disorder, for the old governors resisted the authority of the absent general, and commenced a civil war, There are few antitheses that have no one point of resemblance, and accordingly, both parties agreed in pillaging and insulting the Mexicans.

Meanwhile Cortez and his party pursued their journey. So long as they remained in the countries where the recent transactions were known, but little difficulty was experienced; for the people, obedient to their sovereign, Ixtlilxochitl, provided them with every requisite in abundance. But as they travelled farther from the capital, the natives appeared less submissive to their monarch, and by no means favourable to the Spaniards. Hence the greatest distress was experienced, and food and water became so scarce that many of the allies perished of famine. At length they arrived in a country where they were so entirely unknown that the inhabitants burst into laughter at the sight of the Spaniards. Finding however that the new comers meant them no harm, they brought an abundance of provisions and other presents both to Cortez and the princes.

Leaving this hospitable province, they journeyed towards Aealan, to gain which they were compelled to pass through a dense forest, which occupied many days in the passage. Here the sufferings of the allies were dreadful; even the princes were in danger of starvation, while the Spaniards, having supplied themselves with maize, had abundance of provisions not only for themselves but their horses. The conduct of the natives in this distress is a singular proof of their simple but devoted loyalty. While the Spaniards were feeding their horses, the Mexicans watched around, picked up the grains which fell to the ground, and, though famishing themselves, presented the food to their princes.

In the month of February, 1525, the travellers arrived at Teotilac, celebrated as the scene of one of the basest of those acts of

treachery which characterized the Mexican war. It was the period for the celebration of the festival carnival; and in accordance with ancient usage the princes and their subjects made preparations for the enjoyment of the day. It was a time of unusual rejoicing, in consequence of the termination of the sufferings they had sustained through the journey; and the two kings, Quatemoc and Cohuanacotzin, stood jesting together on recent events. They were joined by Tetlepanquetputzin, and afterwards by an officer of high rank, named Temelotzin. Cortez, seeing them conversing cheerfully together, conceived that they must be hatching plots against the Spaniards; and our author naively remarks, "The thief believes all men to be thieves." Being unable to understand them himself, Cortez employed a man named Costemoxi to act as his spy, and repeat all that the princes said. It may be well to observe here that this man was afterwards tortured by order of Ixtlilxochitl, and declared to the last that the words he repeated were the same he had heard, and were of a nature perfectly harmless. Be this as it may, Cortez pretended that they had been laying a plot for the assassination of the Spaniards, and the next morning he caused them all to be arrested and hanged. Quautemoctzin (Guatemozin) was the first; then Tetlepanquetputzin and the whole of his suite, and Cohuanacotzin was the last. As this prince was dragged to execution the intelligence of the murder of his brothers was conveyed to Ixtlilxochitl he flew at once to his quarters, led out his people, and was on the point of attacking the Spaniards, when Cortez became aware of his danger. The extremity of the case demanded great concessions; the general hastened to cut down the last sufferer, and ran forth alone to meet the infuriated Mexicans. The natives would have torn him to pieces, but their prince restrained them, and Cortez by a skilful address appeased his deeply injured adversary. The pretext of Cortez that he believed the princes to be planning his destruction was evidently a mere subterfuge to stay the wrath of Ixtlilxochitl: the real motive for this as well as many other acts that might at first seem inexplicable may be traced to his fixed determination utterly to destroy the royal family of the conquered country, in the hope that, all traces of former freedom being removed, he might become the sole master of that vast empire, without danger of opposition or revolt. But Ixtlilxochitl would appear to have had no inducement to submit patiently to this merciless extirpation of his family; the force under his command was sufficient to have annihilated at once the handful of Spaniards by whom these suicides were perpetrated, nor does he appear at all likely to have been influenced by a slavish fear of his allies. It is therefore most probable, either

that he wished the destruction of his brothers, in the hope of succeeding to the throne, or that Cortez had gained so complete an ascendancy over the weaker mind of his friend that the latter was unable to act in direct opposition to the will of the Spaniard. Be this as it may, they were speedily reconciled, and concluded their journey without further disagreements. The ill-fated Cohuanacotzin, who had been cut down by Cortez, died soon after of the injuries he had received.

Ixtlilxochitl next proceeded to take the necessary measures for handing his name down to posterity, well aware that nothing he had hitherto done would deserve so lasting an honour. His plans were extremely simple and primitive: they consisted in desiring the king of Apochputan to employ his artists in carving the figure of the aspirant for immortality on a vast rock in the neighbourhood of the town, where it is said to be visible to this day, and in the arms and costume which the prince then wore.

And let not the reader smile at this artless mode of perpetuating renown, nor wonder that our hero should desire to hand down a name defiled with fratricide and treason. If our author may be believed, these sinister actions arose from praiseworthy motives: he slaughtered his countrymen that he might save them from death; he excited war that he might introduce peace; and in short the whole of his existence was to wade to heaven through a sea of blood.

After thus stamping his image on the most remote province of his empire, Ixtlilxochitl and his friends retraced their steps towards the capital. But great mortifications awaited his arrival: the three governors, whom he had left in charge of his three principal cities, had not treated the people with the consideration due to the subjects of so great a monarch on the contrary they had shown, like Cassius, a grievous tendency to an itching palm; and what was still worse, they had imitated their master in an inclination to oblige the Spaniards at the expense of their countrymen, propensities which caused our hero the greatest uneasiness. They had not only plundered the natives of all their jewels and valuables, and appropriated them to their own use, but had given many of the most respectable inhabitants as slaves to the conquerors. Among these unfortunates were a few of Ixtlilxochitl's inexhaustible stock of brothers. The prince was now so accustomed to see his family hanged and burned, that the disposal of a few into slavery does not seem to have made much impression on his mind. In fact our author, having described at great length the building of a church by his ancestors, closes his narrative rather abruptly, without even informing his readers whether he punished the refractory governors,

« EelmineJätka »