« ÎnapoiContinuați »
it here to show that there is no person, of what station or dignity sor ever, but is punished some time or other, either publicly or privately, especially if he has been the cause of other people's sufferings and misfortunes. The king, towards the latter end of his days, caused his castle of Plessis-les-Tours to be encompassed with great bars, of iron, in the form of a grate, and at the four corners of the house four watchtowers of iron, strong, massy, and thick, to be built. . The grates were without the wall, on the other side of the ditch, and went to the bottom Several spikes of iron were fastened into the wall, set as thick by one another as was possible. He placed likewise ten bowmen in the ditches to shoot at any man that durst approach the castle till the opening of the gate; ordered they should lie in the ditehes, but retire into the watch-towers upon occasion. He was sensible enough that this fortification was too weak to keep out an army or any great body of men, but he had no fear of such ; his great apprehension was, that some of the nobility of his kingdom having intelligence within should attempt to make themselves masters of the castle by night, and having possessed themselves of it, partly by affection, partly by force, should deprive him of the regal authority, and take upon themselves the administration's of public affairs, upon pretence he was incapable of business, and no i longer fit to govern. The gate of du Plessis was never opened, nor; the drawbridge let down, before eight in the morning, at which time the courtiers were let in; and the captains ordered their guards totheir several posts, with a main guard in the middle of the court, as in a town upon the frontiers that vas closely besieged. Nor was any person admitted to enter but by the wicket, and those only by the king's order, unless it were the steward of his household, and such officers as were not admitted into the presence.
Is it possible then to keep a prince (with any regard to his quality): more strictly confined than he kept himself? The cages made for other people were about eight foot square; and he (though so great a monarch) had but a small square of the court of the castle to walk in, and seldom made use of that, but generally kept himself in the gallery, out of which he went into the chambers, and from thence, to mass, but not through the court. Who can deny but he was a sufferer, as well as his neighbours ? considering his being locked up, guarded, afraid of his own children and relations, and changing every d#5 thuse very servants whom he had brought up and advanced; and
though they owed all their preferment to him, yet he durst not trust any of them, but shut himself up in those strange chains and inclosures, If the place where he confined himself was larger than a common prison, his quality was as much greater than a common prisoner's. It may
be urged that other princes have been more given to jealousy than he, but it was not in our time, and perhaps their wisdom was not so eminent nor their subjects so good. They, too, might probably be tyrants and bloody-minded, but our king never did any person a mischief who had not offended him first. I have not recorded these things purely to represent our master as a suspicious and mistrustful prince, but to show, that by the patience which he expressed in his sufferings (like those which he inflicted on other people), they may be looked upon, in my judgment, as a punishment which God inflicted upon him in this world, in order to deal more mercifully with him in the next, as well in those things before mentioned as in the distempers of his body, which were great and painful, and much dreaded by him before they came upon him; and likewise that those princes, who are his successors, may learn by this example to be more tender and indulgent to their subjects, and less severe in their punishments than our master had been. I will not accuse him, or say I ever saw a better prince, for though he oppressed his subjects himself, he would never see them injured by any. body else.
In hunting, his eagerness and pain were equal to his pleasure, for his chase was the stag, which he always run down. He rose very early in the morning, rode sometimes a great way to his dogs, and would not leave his sport let the weather be never so bad; and when he came home at night was always very weary, and generally in a violent passion with some of his courtiers or huntsmen, for hunting is a sport not always to be managed according to the master's direction ; yet, in the opinion of most people, he understood it as well as any man of his time. He was continually at his sports, lying up and down in the country villages as his recreations led him, till he was interrupted by the war.
153.-THE LAST OF THE INCAS.
WILLIAM H. PRESCOTT. [The author of the Histories of · Ferdinand and Isabella,' and of the * Conquest of Mexico,' is a living American writer, who has taken the very highest rank as an historian. Mr. Prescott was born in 1796, the son of an eminent lawyer of Salem. He has won his reputation under physical difficulties; for, having lost one of his eyes by an accident while at Harvard College, the sight of the other has at various periods so failed him that he has been either wholly unable to pursue his studies, or has pursued them under no common disadvantages. The defect of his sight was at last compensated by the strength of his will ; and he made himself master of a vast mass of information from Spanish sources for his · History of Ferdinand and Isabella,' by having the works read to him. Johnson said that Milton could not write history with the eyes of others; but Prescott accomplished this task. Of late years his sight has been partially recovered. The following extract from the Conquest of Mexico,' describing the treacherous capture of the last Inca by the invaders of Peru, may be fitly introduced by another passage from the same work:
“It is not easy at this time to comprehend the impulse given to Europe by the discovery of America. It was not the gradual acquisition of some bordér territory, a province, or a kingdom that had been gained; but a new world that was now thrown open to the European. The races of animals, the mineral treasures, the vegetable forms, and the varied aspects of nature, man in the different phases of civilization, filled the mind with entirely new sets of ideas, that changed the habitual current of thought and stimulated it to indefinite conjecture. The eagerness to explore the wonderful secrets of the new hemisphere became so active, that the principal cities of Spain were, in a manner, depopulated, as emigrants thronged one after another to take their chance upon the deep. It was a world of romance that was thrown open ; for, whatever might be the luck of the adventurer, his reports on his return were tinged with a colouring of romance that stimulated still higher the sensitive fancies of his countrymen, and nourished the chimerical sentiments of an age of chivalry. They listened with attentive ears to tales of Amazons, which seemed to realize the classic legends of antiquity, to stories of Patagonian giants, to flaming pic.
tures of an El Dorado, where the sands sparkled with gems, and golden pebbles as large as birds' eggs were dragged in nets out of the rivers.
Yet that the adventurers were no impostors, but dupes, too easy dupes of their own credulous fancies, is shown by the extravagant character of their enterprizes: by expeditions in search of the magical Fountain of Health, of the golden Temple of Doboyba, of the golden sepulchres of Yenu--for gold was ever floating before their distempered vision, and the name of Castilla del Oro, (Golden Castile,) the most unhealthy and unprofitable region of the Isthmus, held out a bright promise to the unfortunate settler, who too frequently instead of gold found there only his grave.
“In this realm of enchantment all the accessories served to maintain the illusion. The simple natives, with their defenceless bodies and rude
weapons, were no match for the European warrior armed to the teeth in mail. The odds were as great as those found in any legend of chivalry, where the lance of the good knight overturned hundreds at a touch. The perils that lay in the discoverer's path, and the sufferings he had to sustain, were scarcely inferior to those that beset the knight errant. Hunger, and thirst, and fatigue, the deadly effluvia of the morass, with its swarms of venomous insects, the cold of mountain snows, and the scorching sun of the tropics,-these were the lot of every cavalier who came to seek his fortunes in the New World. It was the reality of romance. The life of the Spanish adventurer was one chapter more, and not the least remarkable, in the chronicles of knight errantry.
The character of the warrior took somewhat of the exaggerated colouring shed over his exploits. Proud and vain-glorious, swelled with lofty anticipations of his destiny, and an invincible confidence in his own resources, no danger could appal and no toil could tire him. The greater the danger, indeed, the higher the charm ; for his soul revelled in exeitement, and the enterprize without peril wanted that spur of romanee which was necessary to rouse his energies into action. Yet in the motives of action meaner influences were strangely mingled with the loftier, the temporal with the spiritual. Gold was the incentive and the recompense, and in the pursuit of it his inflexible nature rarely hesitated as to the means. His courage was sullied with cruelty, the cruelty that flowed equally, strange as it may seem, from his avarice
and his religion; religion as it was understood in that age--the religion of the Crusader. It was the convenient cloak for a multitude of sins, which covered them even from himself. The Castilian, too proud for hypocrisy, committed more cruelties in the name of religion than were ever practised by the pagan idolater or the fanatical Moslem. The burning of the infidel was a sacrifice acceptable to Heaven, and the conversion of those who survived amply atoned for the foulest offences. It is a melancholy and mortifying consideration that the most uncompromising spirit of intolerance—the spirit of the Inquisitor at home, and of the Crusader abroad should have emanated from a religion which preached peace upon earth and good-will towards man!
“ What a contrast did these children of Southern Europe present to the Anglo-Saxon races, who scattered themselves along the great northern division of the western hemisphere! For the principle of action with these latter was not avarice, nor the more specious pretext of proselytism ; but independence-independence, religious and political. To secure this, they were content to earn a bare subsistence by a life of frugality and toil. They asked nothing from the soil but the reasonable returns of their own labour. No golden visions threw a deceitful halo around their path, and beckoned them onwards through seas of blood to the subversion of an unoffending dynasty. They were content with the slow but steady progress of their social polity. They patiently endured the privations of the wilderness, watering the tree of liberty with their tears and with the sweat of their brow, till it took deep root in the land and sent up its branches high towards the hea vens, while the communities of the neighbouring continent, shooting up into the sudden splendours of a tropical vegetation, exhibited, even in their prime, the sure symptoms of decay.
It would seem to have been especially ordered by Providence that the discovery of the two great divisions of the American hemisphere should fall to the two races best fitted to conquer and colonize them. Thus the northern section was consigned to the Anglo-Saxon race, whose orderly industrious habits found an ample field for development under its colder skies and on its more rugged soil ; while the southern portion, with its rich tropical products and treasures of mineral wealth, held out the most attractive bait to invite the enterprize of the Spaniard. How different might have been the result, if the bark of Columbus had taken a more northerly direction, as he at one time