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known perils, they pressed resolutely on, with nothing but an occasional murmur of discontent, which the address of their leader found no difficulty in allaying, and certainly without any symptom of faint-heartedness.

As they toilsomely climbed

up the steep mountain-path, encumbered with blackened scoriæ and broken masses of lava, that told of volcanic fires hidden under their dazzling mantles of snow, that might at any moment break out and

sweep
them
away

in their resistless fury, and saw in the distant horizon that ocean, that connected them with the world they had left, gradually diminishing to a faint blue line, and at last entirely disappearing from their straining sight, not one cheek_grew pale, not one eye was suffused with unmanly tears. What bounds should we set to our admiration of qualities like these, if they had only been exerted in the cause of truth, philanthropy, and religion, and not been dedicated to the service of sordid cupidity, selfish ambition, and ruthless bigotry?

The same effect will be produced in regard to the estimate, which we are now able to form, of the capacity and resources of Cortés. He seems to us to be a greater man than we had ever before supposed. Putting the moral element, the question of right and wrong, entirely aside, we cannot refuse a constant tribute of admiration to the qualities of mind and character which he displays; to his sagacity, his forecast, his sound judgment, his fertility of invention, his inflexible resolution, his natural eloquence, and that mixture of dignity and affability which won at once the respect and attachment of his grim followers, who would not have brooked, for an hour, the authority of a leader who did not vindicate his claim to command by native superiority. We see in him the virtues alike of the soldier and the commander. Upon him the success of the enterprise rests, and the responsibility of a leader weighs heavily upon his brow, and banishes sleep from his lids ; and yet, when the trumpet sounds, we find him gallantly fighting with his own hand, where the strife is most deadly, and the danger most pressing, deciding more than one battle by his own personal prowess ; never elated by good fortune, never disheartened by reverses ; counterfeiting a cheerfulness when he has it not, and inspiring a confidence which he does not feel. He forms his plans with cautious deliberation, and executes them with lightning-like rapidity. By a brilliant coup-de-main, he surprises Narvaez in his bed, and crushes his formidable opposition at a single blow ; and that, too, with a mere handful of followers, badly clothed, imperfectly armed, and wasted by hunger and forced marches. The sagacity, with which he perceived the great assistance that might be derived from the use of brigantines upon the lake of Mexico, shows the prophetic eye of a great military genius ; and the plan, which he subsequently devised, and put into successful execution, of having thirteen vessels of war constructed at Tlascala, taken to pieces, transported sixty miles, across the mountains, on the shoulders of men, and then reconstructed and launched upon the lake, –a stupendous and unparalleled achievement, - is a proof of the highest fertility of invention, of resolute energy,

and indomitable perseverance. The wary skill, too, with which he made his approaches to the devoted capital, preparatory to its final siege, the line of circumvallation which he gradually drew around it by his successive conquests, the wise disposition he made of his forces, all argue a military capacity of the highest order, which, had it been displayed upon the grander stage, and with the ampler means of European warfare, would have won such laurels as the “ Great Captain " himself might have been proud to wear.

One of the most remarkable things in the conquest of Mexico is the short space of time in which it was accomplished. As this is a consideration which a reader is very likely to overlook in the interest of the narrative, we have thought it expedient to give a summary of the dates of the principal events, that it may be more distinctly presented to the mind. The Spaniards landed in Mexico on the twentyfirst day of April, 1519. Some months are spent upon the coast, in founding the colony at Vera Cruz, and in friendly intercourse with the natives at Cempoalla. They begin their march to Mexico on the sixteenth day of August. They enter the city of Tlascala on the twenty-third day of September. They arrive at the city of Mexico on the eighth day of November, and pass the winter there. About the middle of May, 1520, Cortés leaves Mexico to encounter the forces of Narvaez, and returns there in triumph on the twenty-fourth day of June. On the first day of July, the Spaniards evacuate the city of Mexico. The battle of Otumba is fought on the eighth day of July; and in a few days after, the victorious Spaniards reach the friendly city of Tlascala. The remainder of the summer and the autumn are passed in wars with the neighbouring tribes, in various preparations, and in waiting for reinforcements. They set out from Tlascala, on their return to the city of Mexico, on the twenty-eighth day of December, and enter Tezcuco on the thirty-first day of the same month. Some months are spent in reducing various places bordering on the lake, preparatory to the siege of the capital. The brigantines are launched on the lake on the twenty-eighth day of April, 1521, and the siege soon after begins. The city is captured, and Guatemozin taken prisoner, on the thirteenth day of August of the same year, which completes the conquest. Thus, in little more than two years, was a large and powerful empire, covering a space twice as large as New England, added to the crown of Spain by a handful of adventurers, indifferently armed and equipped, and fighting at their own charges. What parallel can history, furnish to this?

The nature of the enterprise, and the small number of conspicuous persons engaged in it, give the historian but a limited range for the delineation of character. With the exception of Doña Marina, whose gentle and feminine traits shine out from the scenes of blood and violence in which she appears, like “a sunbeam on a stormy sea,” and whose amiable qualities have caused her name and memory to be cherished with equal fondness by the descendants of the conquerors and the conquered, our attention is almost wholly absorbed by the two principal personages on each side, Montezuma and Cortés, so unlike in character and in fortune.

No one can look without a feeling of compassionate interest upon the portrait of the Indian Emperor, prefixed to the second volume, which, if not authentic, at least deserves to be so. It has the melancholy expression of one who feels himself unequal to the duties which have been imposed upon him by the hand of Destiny. We read in that drooping brow, and in that “ dejected havior of the visage,” a consciousness, that the fortunes of the Aztec race, once so flourishing and palmy, had, in his person, fallen “ into the sear, the yellow leaf,” — that that star of empire, which had so proudly blazed upon the western sky, was now to go down in darkness and blood. He seems to have been one of those characters, not uncommon in history, who, in ordinary times, succeed in giving to others the impression of qualities which they do not possess, by the aid which they derive from the circumstances of their position, and the fortunate accidents of their lot; as a strong man can easily appear brave, and a rich man cheaply acquires the reputation of generosity. Called in the prime of life to occupy the throne of a great empire, commanding large armies, and wielding extensive military resources, aided, too, by the divinity that hedged his person and office in the eyes of his subjects, he makes his name a word of terror throughout the whole extent of Mexico, - at which the boldest cheek turns pale, and the stoutest heart throbs with uncomfortable apprehensions. The Spaniards are everywhere told of his military prowess, his irresistible power, the haughty severity of his manners, the terrors of his awakened wrath. Every thing that we hear leads us to expect a character of the heroic stamp, — resolute of purpose, prompt in action, - who would oppose to the progress of the invaders a courage as fiery, and a constancy of purpose as inflexible, as their own. Yet when peril assails him in an unprecedented form, and he falls upon times that try the temper of his soul ; when his palace is darkened by rumors of the mysterious beings that have landed upon the coast, and are marching, in spite of all opposition and resistance, towards the capital ; we find him timid, irresolute, vacillating, and short-sighted ; an object alternately. of pity and contempt. He is ever halting between two opinions ; now taking counsel of his hopes, and now of his fears ; losing in weak indecision the golden moments of opportunity ; looking in vain in the oracles of destiny for that support which he should have found in the manly promptings of his own breast ; and at last adopting that hallway course, which was of all others the most impolitic, since it revealed at once his weakness and his wealth. The reader will find a peculiar interest in all the details which Mr. Prescott has given us of the life, character, and habits of this monarch, and especially in the personal anecdotes recorded of him, while a captive in the hands of the Spaniards. The impression which they leave upon us is that of delicacy, genileness, courtesy, and generosity, — of more of the Christian virtues than dwelt in the stern bosom of his Catholic rival; and that, if he was a weak sovereign, he was endowed

“ With all good grace to grace a gentleman."
No. 122.

25

VOL. LVIII.

The following is Mr. Prescott's beautiful skétch of the closing hours of the unfortunate monarch.

“ The Indian monarch had rapidly declined, since he had received his injury, sinking, however, quite as much under the anguish of a wounded spirit, as under disease. He continued in the same moody state of insensibility as that already described ; holding little communication with those around him, deaf to consolation, obstinately rejecting all medical remedies as well as nourishment. Perceiving his end approach, some of the cava. liers present in the fortress, whom the kindness of his manners had personally attached to him, were anxious to save the soul of the dying prince from the sad doom of those who perish in the darkness of unbelief. They accordingly waited on him, with father Olmedo at their head, and in the most earnest manner implored him to open his eyes to the error of his creed, and consent to be baptized. But Montezuma whatever may have been suggested to the contrary seems never to have faltered in his hereditary faith, or to have contemplated becoming an apostate ; for surely he merits that name in its most odious application, who, whether Christian or Pagan, renounces his religion without conviction of its falsehood. Indeed, it was a too implicit reliance on its oracles, which had led him to give such easy

confidence to the Spaniards. His intercourse with them had, doubtless, not sharpened his desire to embrace their communion ; and the calamities of his country he might consider as sent by his gods to punish him for his hospitality to those who had desecrated and destroyed their shrines.

“When father Olmedo, therefore, kneeling at his side, with the uplifted crucifix, affectionately besought him to embrace the sign of man's redemption, he coldly repulsed the priest, exclaiming, • I have but a few moments to live; and will not, at this hour, desert the faith of my fathers.' One thing, however, seemed to press heavily on Montezuma's mind. This was the fate of his children, especially of three daughters, whom he had by his two wives; for there were certain rites of marriage, which distinguished the lawful wife from the concubine. Calling Cortés to his bedside, he earnestly commended these children to his care,

the most precious jewels that he could leave him.' He be. sought the general to interest his master, the Emperor, in their behalf, and to see that they should not be left destitute, but be allowed some portion of their rightful inheritance. Your lord will do this,' he concluded, if it were only for the friendly offices I have rendered the Spaniards, and for the love I have shown them, though it has brought me to this condition ! But for this I bear them no ill-will.' Such, according to Cortés him

as

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