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entry, the nobles of the court asked per- as unconcerned as though a single false mission from Alverado, whom he had step would not dash him to instant deleft in his place, to amuse their captive struction. When the ropes were so far monarch by performing before him with untwisted that they almost reached the this dance. This was granted. The ground, some other actors, who had nobles dressed themselves in the richest mounted on the frame, threw themselves ornaments and began the dance; but off, and slid down along the ropes to the when they were thoroughly wearied by earth, amid the applause of the spectathe motion, the treacherous Spaniards, tors. unable to resist their desire for obtaining The Mexicans did not paint, like other the costly jewels of the Mexicans, sud- nations, merely for the purpose of predenly fell upon them, and massacred serving the form of persons or things them all. This barbarous act was the which must soon pass away, or of affordcause of the subsequent misfortunes of ing pleasure by the representation of the the Spaniards; for the natives, driven beautiful, the grand, or the terrific. to fury by the loss of their beloved chiefs, Their painting was their writing. By rose upon their murderers, and expelled means of this art they represented their. them from the city, as we have before history, their religious rites, their laws, related.

and everything which they deemed The greatest and most celebrated of worthy of being recorded for the instrucall the Mexican games was that called tion of their descendants.

This manner the Flyers. They first sought out the of writing was, to be sure, very imperloftiest tree in the forest, stripped it of fect, but it answered all the purposes to its branches and bark, and set it up in which it was applied. They wrote on some public square. On the top they paper which they made of the bark or fixed a sort of movable cap or cylinder, leaves of certain plants. Had all the from which hung a square frame, made paintings of the Mexicans been preof four planks. Between the cap and served, we should have had a complete frame they fastened four strong ropes, history of the nation, from the earliest long enough to reach to the ground, period to the arrival of the Spaniards. passing through four holes in the planks. But the zeal of the Catholic priests was These ropes they twisted round the tree, the cause of the destruction of almost all until their ends were nearly up to the these valuable records. Suspecting that frame. Four men, who were called the they contained the idolatrous precepts of flyers, disguised like eagles, herons, and the Mexican religion, they thought that other birds, ascended the tree by means they could best promote the cause of the of a rope which was laced about it from true religion by destroying all the writop to bottom, and took hold of the endstings of the natives. Accordingly, they

The force with which they collected them with the greatest dili-. swung off from the frame caused it to gence, and burnt them in the public turn round, and as it turned, the ropes square, to the great grief of the Mexiwhich were twisted around the tree began to unroll, and of course. became The way in which they painted proper longer at every revolution. All this time names was rather curious, and showed the wooden

cap continued to turn round, at least some talent for punning. All being fastened to the frame; but, never- Mexican names have some meaning; theless, a man kept dancing upon it, and therefore they had only to paint the waving a flag or beating a little drum, things which are signified by the name,

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and join them to the figure of a man, or to be undertaken, several artists collected a man's head. Thus the name of their

together, and each took his share of the second king was Chimalpopora, which design. They labored with the utmost

, means a smoking shield. To represent care and diligence, sometimes spending

a whole day in choosing and placing properly a single feather. When all the parts were finished, they brought them together, and united them, so as 10 form a picture of wonderful beauty. The colors were brighter than any

that art could produce, and the feathers, as they were turned to the light, glittered with surpassing splendor. It is said that Mexican artists have been able to imitate exactly, by means of feathers, some of the best productions of the European

painters. it, therefore, they painted a shield with

CHAPTER XVIII. smoke issuing from it. In like manner, if we had to express the name of Church- Rcligion.Marriages and funerals.Governill, or Crowninshield, we should paint

ment.- War.- Medicine and surgery.-Gena church on a hill, or a shield with a

eral character and probable destiny of the Mexi

can Indians. crown in the middle. But the Mexicans had another sort of

The religion of the Mexicans was paintings, if so they may be called, cruel, like themselves. They believed formed entirely by means of feathers, in a vast number of gods, who presided selected from the plumage of the most over every part of the world. There beautiful birds. The art consisted in dis. was the god of the air, a god of the day posing the feathers so as to form a picture,

and night, another of games sports, exact in the nicest shade. They were &c. They also worshipped the sun and

But the deity whom the Mexicans most venerated was Mexitli, the god of war; their city was named after him, and in his honor the great temple, of which we have given some account in a former chapter, was erected. Besides this, there were a great many other temples dedicated to the worship of their numberless deities. It is said that there were no less than two thousand such buildings in the city of Mexico.

But the place where the worship of the gods was most cultivated, was the city of Cholula, a few miles to the south

east of Mexico. Here was the famous fastened firmly on the canvass with pyramid of Cholula, to which pilgrims glue. When any work of this sort was repaired from all parts of the empire. It



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was built of bricks and clay, and on the was spared, and he was declared free, top was a small temple, with the image amid the applause of the spectators. of a god, and an altar on which sacrifices When a young man had arrived at a were offered to him.

The idol was proper age to marry, a suitable wife was burned by the Spaniards, and the temple singled out for him, and the astrologers thrown down; but the pyramid still re- were consulted to know whether the mains, though much decayed. At a match would be prosperous. If they distance it looks like a little mountain. returned a favorable answer, the parents

As the gods of the Mexicans were so of the bride, after giving her a good deal many in number, they must have had a of good advice, carried her in a litter to multitude of priests to perform the holy the house of the bridegroom, accomparites which were necessary to gain their nied by a crowd of friends with music favor. There are supposed to have been and torches. The parents of the brideno less than a million in the whole em- . groom stood at the door, ready to receive pire. But they did not attend only to them. The couple were seated on a religious duties. It was their office to beautiful mat, and were united by tying educate the young, to appoint festivals, the corners of their garments together. and to take care of the picture-writings. After this simple ceremony they were They possessed nearly all the learning declared husband and wife. Å feast of the nation, and composed all the was set before the company, after which painted books. The chief priest was a dance in the court-yard of the house, elected from the highest nobles, and it lively conversation, and good wishes on was necessary he should be a man of the part of the guests, closed the scene. unspotted character and great learning. Funerals were performed with great

The sacrifices of the Mexicans were solemnity. When a man died, four old of the most horrible kind. The victims men were chosen to have the direction which they offered were human beings. of the funeral rites. They first sprinAll prisoners taken in war, criminals, kled his head with water, and then and sometimes children, were sacrificed clothed the body in a dress correspondto their bloody deities. The wretched ing to his profession or character in life. victim was


upon the altar, and while If he had been a soldier, they dressed five men were employed in holding him, him in the habit of Meritli, the god of the high priest with a sharp knife made war; if a merchant, in the dress of the a deep gash in his breast, and tore out god of merchants ; if a drunkard, in that his heart, yet warm and beating, and of the god of wine ; and so on. The held it up in his bloody hand before the body was then laid on a funeral pile, face of his god! They had another and near it a jar of water for him to method of sacrificing, equally bloody, drink on his journey, and a little dog to though not so revolting. It resembled lead him. They then set fire to the very much the gladiatorial contests of pile. When the body was consumed, the Romans. Two of the bravest pris- they collected the ashes into a vase, into oners of war were armed with a sword which they put a little gem, saying that and shield, and compelled to fight on a it would serve him for a heart in the stage in view of a crowd of spectators. next world. They buried this vase in When one was slain, another was put in a deep pit, and mourned for the dead his place, and so on, until the required eighty days. number had been sacrificed. When any The Mexicans believed that after one proved five times victorious, his life death the souls of those that died in




battle went to the palace of the sun; a not setting a good example. But old place of endless delight, where they spent men, after they had arrived at the age four years in the enjoyment of all the of seventy years, were allowed to drink pleasures that this glorious deity had pro- as much as they pleased; for they said vided for this favored class. After this, that it was a pity to deprive them of they supposed that these happy spirits this pleasure, when it could do them no went to animate clouds, and birds of harm. Slanderers were punished by beautiful feathers and sweet song; but having a part of their lip cut off

, and thus always at liberty to rise again to sometimes also of their ears, to show the heaven or descend to the earth, carolling danger of speaking or listening to evil. songs of praise to their glorious benefac- We have before said that the Mexitor. The souls of children, and of those cans were a nation of warriors. They who died of wounds, went to a paradise believed that all who died in battle enbeneath the earth, the residence of the joyed the greatest happiness hereafter, god of water. Here, in cool retreats they and therefore the prospect of such a passed their hours in calm and placid death had nothing terrible in it. enjoyment, undisturbed by the cares and The armor which the soldiers wore vexations of the world. For those who . to defend themselves from the weapons died of other diseases, a place of utter of the enemy, consisted of a thick coat darkness was set apart. The spirits of cotton, which covered the body and sent hither suffered no punishment, and received no pleasure; they were as though they had ceased to exist. With such a creed, it is no wonder that the Mexicans became a nation of warriors.

The government of the Mexicans was a pure despotism; the power of the monarch was absolute. When one king died, another was immediately elected by the nobles, from the royal family, to fiil his place. After the new king had been solemnly installed, and had taken an oath to govern according to the religion and laws of his ancestors, he made an expedition to obtain prisoners to sacrifice at his coronation. A reign thus barbarously commenced could not long part of the legs and arms; a helmet or be peaceable. In fact, the Mexican headpiece, made to imitate the head of a la kings were always engaged in fighting tiger, in order to inspire terror into their with their enemies or in oppressing their enemies; and a shield made of strong subjects.

interwoven with thick cotton The laws which they made were very threads.

Almost all crimes were pun- The weapons of attack were bows ished with death. Young persons who and arrows, slings, spears, and swords. were guilty of getting drunk were put to All these, except the last, were very death; but the nobles in a much more much like those used in our armies at cruel manner than the common people; the present day. The sword of the for they said the former sinned more in Mexicans was very different from that



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used by the soldiers of our modern We have now given a short account times.

of the history, manners and customs of The standards of the Mexicans were the ancient Mexicans. Their character formed of gold and beautiful feathers; you can easily estimate, from what we each company had its particular stand- have told you concerning them. You ard, which they preserved with great must not imagine, however, that, like

But the grand ensign of the em- the Indians of some parts of the United pire was an object of especial venera- States, they are entirely extinct. Though tion; when this was lost

, all hope of much reduced by the cruelty and oppresvictory was given up, and the soldiers ' sion of their conquerors, yet they still threw down their arms and fled. We form much the largest class of inhabihave already told how Cortez took ad- tants in the Mexican republic. Perhaps vantage of this feeling in the natives, the long period of their slavery and deand thus saved his little army.

gradation has been intended by a just Since the people of Anahuac were so Providence as a punishment for their often engaged in war, it seems natural own cruelty toward their conquered enethat they should have a good knowledge mies. But, now that they have been of medicine and surgery. This, how- declared free citizens of a great and inever, was not the case. The remedies dependent republic, with the same rights of their physicians consisted mostly of a and privileges as their former masters, we few simple medicines obtained from may hope that the night of their huherbs. They understood the art of miliation is passed, and that a brighter blood-letting, and used for the purpose day is about to dawn on the minds of sharp lancets made of a sort of flint. the poor degraded Mexicans, than ever But their grand specific for all kinds of shone even on the first glorious years sickness was the vapor-bath. It was of the reign of Montezuma. built of unburnt bricks, very much in the form of a dome. It was about six feet high and thirty round. At one side was an entrance, large enough to allow

House-Building a man to enter by creeping on his hands and knees. Opposite to the entrance What a strange thing it would be if was a small furnace, which was joined we had no houses to live in, and were to the bath by a kind of soft stone, easily forced to sleep on the tops of trees, in heated. When a person was about to caves, or among the clefts and crannies take the bath, a fire was kindled in the of rocks and mountains !

Many ages furnace, by which the soft stones were ago, mankind, then in a savage state, made hot. Then, taking off all his were obliged to make use of such wild clothes except his girdle, he entered, retreats; they had not learned to build and threw water on the heated stones. houses ; and were, in this respect, not so .A cloud of steam at once filled the bath, well off as the birds, which, you know, and the patient stretched himself on a mostly manage to build a nice warm mat or cushion, which was spread in the nest, in which they bring up their

young centre of the room, to enjoy the soft and The first houses were, in all probability, copious perspiration into which he was cut out of the sides of crags or banks; instantly thrown. This vapor-bath often after this it was found, perhaps, more proved an effectual remedy for some of advantageous to build them of branches their most obstinate diseases.

of trees, set up on end, and leaning to

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