THE TEZCUCANS- THEIR GOLDEN AGE- ACCOMPLISHED PRINCES-
DECLINE OF THEIR MONARCHY
THE reader would gather but an imperfect notion of the
civilisation of Anahuac, without some account of the Acolhuans, or
Tezcucans, as they are usually cared; a nation of the same great
family with the Aztecs, whom they rivalled in power, and surpassed
in intellectual culture and the arts of social refinement.
Fortunately, we have ample materials for this in the records left by
Ixtlilxochitl, a lineal descendant of the royal line of Tezcuco, who
flourished in the century of the Conquest. With every opportunity
for information he combined much industry and talent, and, if his
narrative bears the high colouring of one who would revive the faded
glories of an ancient, but dilapidated house, he has been uniformly
commended for his fairness and integrity, and has been followed
without misgiving by such Spanish writers as could have access to
his manuscripts. I shall confine myself to the prominent features of
the two reigns which may be said to embrace the golden age of Tezcuco;
without attempting to weigh the probability of the details, which I
will leave to be settled by the reader, according to the measure of
The Acolhuans came into the Valley, as we have seen, about the
close of the twelfth century, and built their capital of Tezcuco on
the eastern borders of the lake, opposite to Mexico. From this point
they gradually spread themselves over the northern portion of Anahuac,
when their career was cheeked by an invasion of a kindred race, the
Tepanecs, who, after a desperate struggle, succeeded in taking their
city, slaying their monarch, and entirely subjugating his kingdom.
This event took place about 1418; and the young prince,
Nezahualcoyotl, the heir to the crown, then fifteen years old, saw his
father butchered before his eyes, while he himself lay concealed among
the friendly branches of a tree, which overshadowed the spot. His
subsequent history is full of romantic daring and perilous escapes.
Not long after his flight from the field of his father's blood,
the Tezcucan prince fell into the hands of his enemy, was borne off in
triumph to his city, and was thrown into a dungeon. He effected his
escape, however, through the connivance of the governor of the
fortress, an old servant of his family, who took the place of the
royal fugitive, and paid for his loyalty with his life. He was at
length permitted, through the intercession of the reigning family in
Mexico, which was allied to him, to retire to that capital, and
subsequently to his own, where he found a shelter in his ancestral
palace. Here he remained unmolested for eight years, pursuing his
studies under an old preceptor, who had had the care of his early
youth, and who instructed him in the various duties befitting his
At the end of this period the Tepanec usurper died, bequeathing
his empire to his son, Maxtla, a man of fierce and suspicious
temper. Nezahualcoyotl hastened to pay his obeisance to him, on his
accession. But the tyrant refused to receive the little present of
flowers which he laid at his feet, and turned his back on him in
presence of his chieftains. One of his attendants, friendly to the
young prince, admonished him to provide for his own safety, by
withdrawing, as speedily as possible, from the palace, where his
life was in danger. He lost no time, consequently, in retreating
from the inhospitable court, and returned to Tezcuco. Maxtla, however,
was bent on his destruction. He saw with jealous eye the opening
talents and popular manners of his rival, and the favour he was
daily winning from his ancient subjects.
He accordingly laid a plan for making away with him at an
evening entertainment. It was defeated by the vigilance of the
prince's tutor, who contrived to mislead the assassins, and to
substitute another victim in the place of his pupil. The baffled
tyrant now threw off all disguise, and sent a strong party of soldiers
to Tezcuco, with orders to enter the palace, seize the person of
Nezahualcoyotl, and slay him on the spot. The prince, who became
acquainted with the plot through the watchfulness of his preceptor,
instead of flying, as he was counselled, resolved to await his
enemy. They found him playing at ball, when they arrived, in the court
of his palace. He received them courteously and invited them in, to
take some refreshments after their journey. While they were occupied
in this way, he passed into an adjoining saloon, which excited no
suspicion, as he was still visible through the open doors by which the
apartments communicated with each other. A burning censer stood in the
passage, and, as it was fed by the attendants, threw up such clouds of
incense as obscured his movements from the soldiers. Under this
friendly veil he succeeded in making his escape by a secret passage,
which communicated with a large earthen pipe formerly used to bring
water to the palace. Here he remained till nightfall, when, taking
advantage of the obscurity, he found his way into the suburbs, and
sought a shelter in the cottage of one of his father's vassals.
The Tepanec monarch, enraged at this repeated disappointment,
ordered instant pursuit. A price was set on the head of the royal
fugitive. Whoever should take him, dead or alive, was promised,
however humble his degree, the hand of a noble lady, and an ample
domain along with it. Troops of armed men were ordered to scour the
country in every direction. In the course of the search, the cottage
in which the prince had taken refuge was entered. But he fortunately
escaped detection by being hid under a heap of maguey fibres used
for manufacturing cloth. As this was no longer a proper place for
concealment, he sought a retreat in the mountainous and woody district
lying between the borders of his own state and Tlascala.
Here he led a wretched wandering life, exposed to all the
inclemencies of the weather, hiding himself in deep thickets and
caverns, and stealing out at night to satisfy the cravings of
appetite; while he was kept in constant alarm by the activity of his
pursuers, always hovering on his track. On one occasion he sought
refuge from them among a small party of soldiers, who proved
friendly to him, and concealed him in a large drum around which they
were dancing. At another time, he was just able to turn the crest of a
hill, as his enemies were climbing it on the other side, when he
fell in with a girl who was reaping chian,- a Mexican plant, the
seed of which was much used in the drinks of the country. He persuaded
her to cover him up with the stalks she had been cutting. When his
pursuers came up, and inquired if she had seen the fugitive, the
girl coolly answered that she had, and pointed out a path as the one
he had taken. Notwithstanding the high rewards offered, Nezahualcoyotl
seems to have incurred no danger from treachery, such was the
general attachment felt to himself and his house. "Would you not
deliver up the prince, if he came in your way?" he inquired of a young
peasant who was unacquainted with his person. "Not I," replied the
other. "What, not for a fair lady's hand, and a rich dowry beside?"
rejoined the prince. At which the other only shook his head and
laughed. On more than one occasion, his faithful people submitted to
torture, and even to lose their lives, rather than disclose the
place of his retreat.
However gratifying such proofs of loyalty might be to his
feelings, the situation of the prince in these mountain solitudes
became every day more distressing. It gave a still keener edge to
his own sufferings to witness those of the faithful followers who
chose to accompany him in his wanderings. "Leave me," he would say
to them, "to my fate! Why should you throw away your own lives for one
whom fortune is never weary of persecuting?" Most of the great
Tezcucan chiefs had consulted their interests by a timely adhesion
to the usurper. But some still clung to their prince, preferring
proscription, and death itself, rather than desert him in his
In the meantime, his friends at a distance were active in measures
for his relief. The oppressions of Maxtla, and his growing empire, had
caused general alarm in the surrounding states, who recalled the
mild rule of the Tezcucan princes. A coalition was formed, a plan of
operations concerted, and, on the day appointed for a general
rising, Nezahualcoyotl found himself at the head of a force
sufficiently strong to face his Tepanec adversaries. An engagement
came on, in which the latter were totally discomfited; and the
victorious prince, receiving everywhere on his route the homage of his
joyful subjects, entered his capital, not like a proscribed outcast,
but as the rightful heir, and saw himself once more enthroned in the
halls of his fathers.
Soon after, he united his forces with the Mexicans, long disgusted
with the arbitrary conduct of Maxtla. The allied powers, after a
series of bloody engagements with the usurper, routed him under the
walls of his own capital. He fled to the baths, whence he was
dragged out, and sacrificed with the usual cruel ceremonies of the
Aztecs; the royal city of Azcapotzalco was razed to the ground, and
the wasted territory was henceforth reserved as the great
slavemarket for the nations of Anahuac. These events were succeeded by
the remarkable league among the three powers of Tezcuco, Mexico, and
Tlacopan, of which some account has been given in a previous chapter.
The first measure of Nezahualcoyotl, on returning to his
dominions, was a general amnesty. It was his maxim, "that a monarch
might punish, but revenge was unworthy of him." In the present
instance, he was averse even to punish, and not only freely pardoned
his rebel nobles, but conferred on some, who had most deeply offended,
posts of honour and confidence. Such conduct was doubtless politic,
especially as their alienation was owing, probably, much more to
fear of the usurper, than to any disaffection towards himself. But
there are some acts of policy which a magnanimous spirit only can
The restored monarch next set about repairing the damages
sustained under the late misrule, and reviving, or rather
remodelling the various departments of government. He framed a
concise, but comprehensive, code of laws, so well suited, it was
thought, to the exigencies of the times, that it was adopted as
their own by the two other members of triple alliance.
He divided the burden of government among a number of departments,
as the council of war, the council of finance, the council of justice.
This last was a court of supreme authority, both in civil and criminal
matters, receiving appeals from the lower tribunals of the
provinces, which were obliged to make a full report, every four
months, or eighty days, of their own proceedings to this higher
judicature. In all these bodies, a certain number of citizens were
allowed to have seats with the nobles and professional dignitaries.
There was, however, another body, a council of state, for aiding the
king in the despatch of business, and advising him in matters of
importance, which was drawn altogether from the highest order of
chiefs. It consisted of fourteen members; and they had seats
provided for them at the royal table.
Lastly, there was an extraordinary tribunal, called the council of
music, but which, differing from the import of its name, was devoted
to the encouragement of science and art. Works on astronomy,
chronology, history, or any other science, were required to be
submitted to its judgment before they could be made public. This
censorial power was of some moment, at least with regard to the
historical department, where the wilful perversion of truth was made a
capital offence by the bloody code of Nezahualcoyotl. Yet a Tezcucan
author must have been a bungler, who could not elude a conviction
under the cloudy veil of hieroglyphics. This body, which was drawn
from the best instructed persons in the kingdom, with little regard to
rank, had supervision of all the productions of art, and of the
nicer fabrics. It decided on the qualifications of the professors in
the various branches of science, on the fidelity of their instructions
to their pupils, the deficiency of which was severely punished, and it
instituted examinations of these latter. In short it was a general
board of education for the country. On stated days, historical
compositions, and poems treating of moral or traditional topics,
were recited before it by their authors. Seats were provided for the
three crowned heads of the empire, who deliberated with the other
members on the respective merits of the pieces, and distributed prizes
of value to the successful competitors.
The influence of this academy must have been most propitious to
the capital, which became the nursery not only of such sciences as
could be compassed by the scholarship of the period, but of various
useful and ornamental arts. Its historians, orators, and poets were
celebrated throughout the country. Its archives, for which
accommodations were provided in the royal palace, were stored with the
records of primitive ages. Its idiom, more polished than the
Mexican, was indeed the purest of all the Nahuatlac dialects; and
continued, long after the Conquest, to be that in which the best
productions of the native races were composed. Tezcuco claimed the
glory of being the Athens of the Western World.
Among the most illustrious of her bards was the emperor
himself,- for the Tezcucan writers claim this title for their chief,
as head of the imperial alliance. He, doubtless, appeared as a
competitor before that very academy where he so often sat as a critic.
But the hours of the Tezcucan monarch were not all passed in idle
dalliance with the Muse, nor in the sober contemplations of
philosophy, as at a later period. In the freshness of youth and
early manhood, he led the allied armies in their annual expeditions,
which were certain to result in a wider extent of territory to the
empire. In the intervals of peace he fostered those productive arts
which are the surest sources of public prosperity. He encouraged
agriculture above all; and there was scarcely a spot so rude, or a
steep so inaccessible, as not to confess the power of cultivation. The
land was covered with a busy population, and towns and cities sprung
up in places since deserted, or dwindled into miserable villages.
From resources thus enlarged by conquest and domestic industry,
the monarch drew the means for the large consumption of his own
numerous household, and for the costly works which he executed for the
convenience and embellishment of the capital. He fined it with stately
edifices for his nobles, whose constant attendance he was anxious to
secure at his court. He erected a magnificent pile of buildings
which might serve both for a royal residence and for the public
offices. It extended, from east to west, twelve hundred and
thirty-four yards; and from north to south, nine hundred and
seventy-eight. It was encompassed by a wall of unburnt bricks and
cement, six feet wide and nine high for one half of the circumference,
and fifteen feet high for the other half. Within this enclosure were
two courts. The outer one was used as the great marketplace of the
city; and continued to be so until long after the Conquest. The
interior court was surrounded by the council chambers and halls of
justice. There were also accommodations there. for the foreign
ambassadors; and a spacious saloon, with apartments: opening into
it, for men of science and poets, who pursued their studies in this
retreat, or met together to hold converse under its marble porticos.
In this quarter, also, were kept the public archives; which fared
better under the Indian dynasty than they have since under their
Adjoining this court were the apartments of the king, including
those for the royal harem, as liberally supplied with beauties as that
of an eastern sultan. Their walls were incrusted with alabasters,
and richly tinted stucco, or hung with gorgeous tapestries of
variegated feather-work. They led through long arcades, and through
intricate labyrinths of shrubbery, into gardens, where baths and
sparkling fountains were overshadowed by tall groves of cedar and
cypress. The basins of water were well stocked with fish of various
kinds, and the aviaries with birds glowing in all the gaudy plumage of
the tropics. Many birds and animals, which could not be obtained
alive, were represented in gold and silver so skillfully as to have
furnished the great naturalist Hernandez with models.
Accommodations on a princely scale were provided for the
sovereigns of Mexico and Tlacopan, when they visited the court. The
whole of this lordly pile contained three hundred apartments, some
of them fifty yards square. The height of the building is not
mentioned. It was probably not great; but supplied the requisite
room by the immense extent of ground which it covered. The interior
was doubtless constructed of fight materials, especially of the rich
woods, which, in that country, are remarkable, when polished, for
the brilliancy and variety of their colours. That the more solid
materials of stone and stucco were also liberally employed, is
proved by the remains at the present day; remains which have furnished
an inexhaustible quarry for the churches and other edifices since
erected by the Spaniards on the site of the ancient city.
We are not informed of the time occupied in building this
palace; but two hundred thousand workmen, it is said, were employed on
it! However this may be, it is certain that the Tezcucan monarchs,
like those of Asia, and ancient Egypt, had the control of immense
masses of men, and would sometimes turn the whole population of a
conquered city, including the women, into the public works.- The
most gigantic monuments of architecture which the world has
witnessed would never have been reared by the hands of freemen.
Adjoining the palace were buildings for the king's children,
who, by his various wives, amounted to no less than sixty sons and
fifty daughters. Here they were instructed in all the exercises and
accomplishments suited to their station; comprehending, what would
scarcely find a place in a royal education on the other side of the
Atlantic,- the arts of working in metals, jewelry, and feather-mosaic.
Once in every four months, the whole household, not excepting the
youngest, and including all the officers and attendants on the
king's person, assembled in a grand saloon of the palace, to listen to
a discourse from an orator, probably one of the priesthood. The
princes, on this occasion, were all dressed in nequen, the coarsest
manufacture of the country. The preacher began by enlarging on the
obligations of morality, and of respect for the gods, especially
important in persons whose rank gave such additional weight to
example. He occasionally seasoned his homily with a pertinent
application to his audience, if any member of it had been guilty of
a notorious delinquency. from this wholesome admonition the monarch
himself was not exempted, and the orator boldly reminded him of his
paramount duty to show respect for his own laws. The king, so far from
taking umbrage, received the lesson with humility: and the audience,
we are assured, were often melted into tears by the eloquence of the
Nezahualcoyotl's fondness for magnificence was shown in his
numerous villas, which were embellished with all that could make a
rural retreat delightful. His favourite residence was at
Tezcotzinco; a conical hill about two leagues from the capital. It was
laid out in terraces, or hanging gardens, having a flight of steps
five hundred and twenty in number, many of them hewn in the natural
porphyry. In the garden on the summit was a reservoir of water, fed by
an aqueduct that was carried over hill and valley, for several
miles, on huge buttresses of masonry. A large rock stood in the
midst of this basin, sculptured with the hieroglyphics representing
the years of Nezahualcoyotl's reign and his principal achievements
in each. On a lower level were three other reservoirs, in each of
which stood a marble statue of a woman, emblematic of the three states
of the empire. Another tank contained a winged lion, cut out of the
solid rock, bearing in his mouth the portrait of the emperor. His
likeness had been executed in gold, wood, feather-work, and stone, but
this was the only one which pleased him.
From these copious basins the water was distributed in numerous
channels through the gardens, or was made to tumble over the rocks
in cascades, shedding refreshing dews on the flowers and odoriferous
shrubs below. In the depths of this fragrant wilderness, marble
porticos and pavilions were erected, and baths excavated in the
solid porphyry. The visitor descended by steps cut in the living
stone, and polished so bright as to reflect like mirrors. Towards
the base of the hill, in the midst of cedar groves, whose gigantic
branches threw a refreshing coolness over the verdure in the sultriest
seasons of the year, rose the royal villa, with its light arcades
and airy halls, drinking in the sweet perfumes of the gardens. Here
the monarch often retired, to throw off the burden of state, and
refresh his wearied spirits in the society of his favourite wives,
reposing during the noontide heats in the embowering shades of his
paradise, or mingling, in the cool of the evening, in their festive
sports and dances. Here he entertained his imperial brothers of Mexico
and Tlacopan, and followed the hardier pleasures of the chase in the
noble woods that stretched for miles around his villa, flourishing
in all their primeval majesty. Here, too, he often repaired in the
latter days of his life, when age had tempered ambition and cooled the
ardour of his blood, to pursue in solitude the studies of philosophy
and gather wisdom from meditation.
It was not his passion to hoard. He dispensed his revenues
munificently, seeking out poor, but meritorious objects, on whom to
bestow them. He was particularly mindful of disabled soldiers, and
those who had in any way sustained loss in the public service; and, in
case of their death, extended assistance to their surviving
families. Open mendicity was a thing he would never tolerate, but
chastised it with exemplary rigour.
It would be incredible, that a man of the enlarged mind and
endowments of Nezahualcoyotl should acquiesce in the sordid
superstitions of his countrymen, and still more in the sanguinary
rites borrowed by them from the Aztecs. In truth, his humane temper
shrunk from these cruel ceremonies, and he strenuously endeavoured
to recall his people to the more pure and simple worship of the
ancient Toltecs. A circumstance produced a temporary change in his
conduct. He had been married some years, but was not blessed with
issue. The priests represented that it was owing to his neglect of the
gods of his country, and that his only remedy was to propitiate them
by human sacrifice. The king reluctantly consented, and the altars
once more smoked with the blood of slaughtered captives. But it was
all in vain; and he indignantly exclaimed, "These idols of wood and
stone can neither hear nor feel; much less could they make the heavens
and the earth, and man, the lord of it. These must be the work of
the all-powerful, unknown God, Creator of the universe, on whom
alone I must rely for consolation and support."
He then withdrew to his rural palace of Tezcotzinco, where he
remained forty days, fasting and praying at stated hours, and offering
up no other sacrifice than the sweet incense of copal, and aromatic
herbs and gums. At the expiration of this time, he is said to have
been comforted by a vision assuring him of the success of his
petition. At all events, such proved to be the fact; and this was
followed by the cheering intelligence of the triumph of his arms in
a quarter where he had lately experienced some humiliating reverses.
Greatly strengthened in his former religious convictions, he now
openly professed his faith, and was more earnest to wean his
subjects from their degrading superstitions, and to substitute
nobler and more spiritual conceptions of the Deity. He built a
temple in the usual pyramidal form, and on the summit a tower nine
stories high, to represent the nine heavens; a tenth was surmounted by
a roof painted black, and profusely gilded with stars on the
outside, and incrusted with metals and precious stones within. He
dedicated this to "the unknown God, the Cause of causes." It seems
probable, from the emblem on the tower, as well as from the complexion
of his verses, as we shall see, that he mingled with his reverence for
the Supreme the astral worship which existed among the Toltecs.
Various musical instruments were placed on the top of the tower, and
the sound of them, accompanied by the ringing of a sonorous metal
struck by a mallet, summoned the worshippers to prayers at regular
seasons. No image was allowed in the edifice, as unsuited to the
"invisible God"; and the people were expressly prohibited from
profaning the altars with blood, or any other sacrifice than that of
the perfume of flowers and sweet-scented gums.
The remainder of his days was chiefly spent in his delicious
solitudes of Tezcotzinco, where he devoted himself to astronomical
and, probably, astrological studies, and to meditation on his immortal
destiny,- giving utterance to his feelings in songs, or rather
hymns, of much solemnity and pathos. At length, about the year 1470,
Nezahualcoyotl, full of years and honours, felt himself drawing near
his end. Almost half a century had elapsed since he mounted the throne
of Tezcuco. He had found his kingdom dismembered by faction, and bowed
to the dust beneath the yoke of a foreign tyrant. He had broken that
yoke; and breathed new life into the nation, renewed its ancient
institutions, extended wide its domain; had seen it flourishing in all
the activity of trade and agriculture, gathering strength from its
enlarged resources, and daily advancing higher and higher in the great
march of civilisation All this he had seen, and might fairly attribute
no small portion of it to his own wise and beneficent rule. His long
and glorious day was now drawing to its close; and he contemplated the
event with the same serenity which he had shown under the clouds of
its morning and in its meridian splendour.
A short time before his death, he gathered around him those of his
children in whom he most confided, his chief counsellors, the
ambassadors of Mexico and Tlacopan, and his little son, the heir to
the crown, his only offspring by the queen. He was then not eight
years old; but had already given, as far as so tender a blossom might,
the rich promise of future excellence.
After tenderly embracing the child, the dying monarch threw over
him the robes of sovereignty. He then gave audience to the
ambassadors, and when they had retired, made the boy repeat the
substance of the conversation. He followed this by such counsels as
were suited to his comprehension, and which when remembered through
the long vista of after years, would serve as lights to guide him in
his government of the kingdom. He besought him not to neglect the
worship of "the unknown God," regretting that he himself had been
unworthy to know him, and intimating his conviction that the time
would come when he should be known and worshipped throughout the land.
He next addressed himself to that one of his sons in whom he
Placed the greatest trust, and whom he had selected as the guardian of
the realm. "From this hour," he said to him, "you will fill the
place that I have filled, of father to this child; you will teach
him to live as he ought; and by your counsels he will rule over the
empire. Stand in his place, and be his guide, till he shall be of
age to govern for himself." Then, turning to his other children, he
admonished them to live united with one another, and to show all
loyalty to their prince, who, though a child, already manifested a
discretion far above his years. "Be true to him," he added, "and he
will maintain you in your rights and dignities."
Feeling his end approaching, he exclaimed, "Do not bewail me
with idle lamentations. But sing the song of gladness, and show a
courageous spirit, that the nations I have subdued may not believe you
disheartened, but may feel that each one of you is strong enough to
keep them in obedience!" The undaunted spirit of the monarch shone
forth even in the agonies of death. That stout heart, however,
melted as he took leave of his children and friends, weeping
tenderly over them, while he bade each a last adieu. When they had
withdrawn, he ordered the officers of the palace to allow no one to
enter it again. Soon after he expired, in the seventy-second year of
his age, and the forty-third of his reign.
Thus died the greatest monarch and, perhaps, the best who ever sat
upon an Indian throne. His character is delineated with tolerable
impartiality by his kinsman, the Tezcucan chronicler. "He was wise,
valiant, liberal; and, when we consider the magnanimity of his soul,
the grandeur and success of his enterprises, his deep policy, as
well as daring, we must admit him to have far surpassed every other
prince and captain of this New World. He had few failings himself, and
rigorously punished those of others. He preferred the public to his
private interest; was most charitable in his nature, often buying
articles at double their worth of poor and honest persons, and
giving them away again to the sick and infirm. In seasons of
scarcity he was particularly bountiful, remitting the taxes of his
vassals, and supplying their wants from the royal granaries. He put no
faith in the idolatrous worship of the country. He was well instructed
in moral science, and sought, above all things, to obtain light for
knowing the true God. He believed in one God only, the Creator of
heaven and earth, by whom we have our being, who never revealed
himself to us in human form, nor in any other; with whom the souls
of the virtuous are to dwell after death, while the wicked will suffer
pains unspeakable. He invoked the Most High, as Him by whom we live,
and 'Who has all things in himself.' He recognised the Sun for his
father, and the Earth for his mother. He taught his children not to
confide in idols, and only to conform to the outward worship of them
from deference to public opinion. If he could not entirely abolish
human sacrifices, derived from the Aztecs, he, at least, restricted
them to slaves and captives."
I have occupied so much space with this illustrious prince that
but little remains for his son and successor, Nezahualpilli. I have
thought better, in our narrow limits, to present a complete view of
a single epoch, the most interesting in the Tezcucan annals, than to
spread the inquiries over a broader, but comparatively barren field.
Yet Nezahualpilli, the heir to the crown, was a remarkable person, and
his reign contains many incidents, which I regret to be obliged to
pass over in silence.
Nezahualpilli resembled his father in his passion for astronomical
studies, and is said to have had an observatory on one of his palaces.
He was devoted to war in his youth, but, as he advanced in years,
resigned himself to a more indolent way of life, and sought his
chief amusement in the pursuit of his favourite science, or in the
soft pleasures of the sequestered gardens of Tezcotzinco. This quiet
life was ill suited to the turbulent temper of the times, and of his
Mexican rival, Montezuma. The distant provinces fell off from their
allegiance; the army relaxed its discipline; disaffection crept into
its ranks; and the wily Montezuma, partly by violence, and partly by
stratagems unworthy of a king, succeeded in plundering his brother
monarch of some of his most valuable domains. Then it was that he
arrogated to himself the title and supremacy of emperor, hitherto
borne by the Tezcucan princes, as head of the alliance. Such is the
account given by the historians of that nation, who in this way,
explain the acknowledged superiority of the Aztec sovereign, both in
territory and consideration, on the landing of the Spaniards.
These misfortunes pressed heavily on the spirits of Nezahualpilli.
Their effect was increased by certain gloomy prognostics of a near
calamity which was to overwhelm the country. He withdrew to his
retreat, to brood in secret over his sorrows. His health rapidly
declined; and in the year 1515, at the age of fifty-two, he sunk
into the grave; happy, at least, that, by his timely death, he escaped
witnessing the fulfilment of his own predictions, in the ruin of his
country, and the extinction of the Indian dynasties, for ever.
In reviewing the brief sketch here presented of the Tezcucan
monarchy, we are strongly impressed with the conviction of its
superiority, in all the great features of civilisation, over the
rest of Anahuac. The Mexicans showed a similar proficiency, no
doubt, in the mechanic arts, and even in mathematical science. But
in the science of government, in legislation, in the speculative
doctrines of a religious nature, in the more elegant pursuits of
poetry, eloquence, and whatever depended on refinement of taste and
a polished idiom, they confessed themselves inferior, by resorting
to their rivals for instruction, and citing their works as the
masterpieces of their tongue. The best histories, the best poems,
the best code of laws, the purest dialect, were all allowed to be
What was the actual amount of the Tezcucan civilisation, it is
not easy to determine, with the imperfect light afforded us. It was
certainly far below anything which the word conveys, measured by a
European standard. In some of the arts, and in any walk of science,
they could only have made, as it were, a beginning. But they had
begun in the right way, and already showed a refinement in sentiment
and manners, a capacity for receiving instruction, which, under good
auspices, might have led them on to indefinite improvement.
Unhappily, they were fast falling under the dominion of the warlike
Aztecs. And that people repaid the benefits received from their more
polished neighbours by imparting to them their own ferocious
superstition, which, falling like a mildew on the land, would soon
have blighted its rich blossoms of promise, and turned even its
fruits to dust and ashes.
1. For a criticism on this writer, see the Postscript to this Chapter.
2. See Chapter First of this Introduction, p. 20.
3. Ixtlilxochitl, Relaciones, MS., No. 9.--Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 19.
4. The adventures of the former hero are told with his usual spirit by Sismondi (Républiques Italiennes, chap. 79). It is hardly necessary, for the latter, to refer the English reader to Chambers's "History of the Rebellion of 1745"; a work which proves how thin is the partition in human life, which divides romance from reality.
5. Ixtlilxochitl, Relaciones, MS., No. 10,
6. Idem, Relaciones, MS., No. 10.--Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 20-24.
7. Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 25. The contrivance was effected by means of an extraordinary personal resemblance of the parties; a fruitful source of comic,--as every reader of the drama knows,--though rarely of tragic interest.
8. It was customary, on entering the presence of a great lord, to throw aromatics into the censer. "Hecho en el brasero incienso, y copal, que era use y costumbre donde estaban los Reyes y Señores, cada vez que los criados entraban con mucha reverencia y acamiento echaban sahumerio en el brasero; y así con este perfume se obscurecia algo la sala." Ixtlilxochitl, Relaciones, MS., No. 11.
9. Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 26.--Relaciones, MS., No. 11.--Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 2, cap. 47.
10. "Nezahualcoiotzin le dixo, que si viese á quien buscaban, si lo iría á denunciar? respondió, que no; tornándole á replicar diciéndole, que harìa mui mal en perder una muger hermosa, y lo demas, que el rey Maxtla prometia, el mancebo se rió de todo, no haciendo caso ni de lo uno, ni de lo otro." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 27.
11. Ibid., MS., cap. 26, 27.--Relaciones, MS., No. 11.--Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 2, cap. 47, 48.
12. Ixtlilxochitl, MSS., ubi supra.--Veytia, ubi supra.
13. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 28-31.--Relaciones, MS., No. 11--Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 2, cap. 51-54.
14. See page 23 of this volume. [end of Chapter I]
15. "Que venganza no es justo la procuren los Reyes, sino castigar al que lo mereciere." MS., de Ixtlilxochitl.
16. See Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 247.
Nezahualcoyotl's code consisted of eighty laws, of which thirty-four only have come down to us, according to Veytia. (Hist. Antig., tom. III. p. 224, nota.) Ixtlilxochitl enumerates several of them. Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 38, and Relaciones, MS., Ordenanzas.
17. Nowhere are these principles kept more steadily in view than in the various writings of our adopted countryman, Dr. Lieber, having more or less to do with the theory of legislation. Such works could not have been produced before the nineteenth century.
18. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 36.--Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 3, cap. 7.
According to Zurita, the principal judges, at their general meetings every four month constituted also a sort of parliament or córtes, for advising the king on matters of state. See his Rapport, p. 106; also Ante, p. 40.
19. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 36.--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. II. p. 137.--Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 3, cap. 7.
"Concurrian á este consejo las tres cabezas del imperio, en ciertos dias, á oir cantar las poesías históricas antiguas y modernas, para instruirse de toda su historia, y tambien cuando habia algun nuevo invento en cualquiera facultad, para examinarlo, aprobarlo, ó reprobarlo. Delante de las sillas de los reyes habia una gran mesa cargada de joyas de oro y plata, pedrería, plumas, y otras cosas estimables, y en los rincones de la sala muchas de mantas de todas calidades, para premios de las habilidades y estímulo de los profesores, las cuales alhajas repartian los reyes, en los dias que concurrian, á los que se aventajaban en el ejercicio de sus facultades." Ibid.
20. Veytia, Hist. Antig., lib. 3, cap. 7.--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 247.
The latter author enumerates four historians, some of much repute, of the royal house of Tezcuco, descendants of the great Nezahualcoyotl. See his Account of Writers, tom. I. pp. 6-21.
21. "En la ciudad de Tezcuco estaban los Archivos Reales de todas las cosas referidas, por haver sido la Metrópoli de todas las ciencias, usos, y buenas costumbres, porque los Reyes que fuéron de ella se preciáron de esto." (Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., Prólogo.) It was from the poor wreck of these documents, once so carefully preserved by his ancestors, that the historian gleaned the materials, as he informs us, for his own works.
22. "Aunque es tenida la lengua Mejicana por materna, y la Tezcucana por mas cortesana y pulida." (Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.) "Tezcuco," says Boturini, "donde los Señores de la Tierra embiaban á sus hijos para aprehender lo mas pulido de la Lengua Nàhautl, la Poesía, Filosofia Moral, la Theología Gentilica, la Astronomía, Medicina, y la Historia." Idea, p.142.
23. "Compuso LX. cantares," says the author last quoted, "que quizas tambien havrán perecido en las manos incendiarias de los ignorantes." (Idea, p. 79.) Boturini had translations of two of these in his museum, (Catálogo, p. 8,) and another has since come to light
24. Difficult as the task may be, it has been executed by the hand of a fair friend, who, while she has adhered to the Castilian with singular fidelity, has shown a grace and flexibility in her poetical movements, which the Castilian version, and probably the Mexican original, cannot boast. See both translations in Appendix, Part 2, No. 2.
25. Numerous specimens of this may be found in Condé's "Dominacion de los Arabes en España." None of them are superior to the plaintive strains of the royal Abderahman on the solitary palm-tree, which reminded him of the pleasant land of his birth. See Parte 2, cap. 9.
26. "Io tocaré cantando
El músico instrumento sonoroso,
Tú de flores gozando
Danza, y festeja á Dios que es poderoso;
O gozemos de esta gloria,
Porque la humana vida es transitoria."
MS. DE IXTLILXOCHITL.
The sentiment, which is common enough, is expressed with uncommon beauty by the English poet, Herrick;
"Gather the rosebud while you may,
Old Time is still a flying;
The fairest flower that blooms to-day,
To-morrow may be dying."
And with still greater beauty, perhaps, by Racine;
"Rions, chantons, dit cette troupe impie;
De fleurs en fleurs, de plaisirs en plaisirs,
Promenons nos désirs.
Sur 1'avenir insensé qui se fie.
De nos ans passagers le nombre est incertain.
Hâtons-nous aujourd'hui de jouir de la vie;
Qui sait si nous serous demain?"
ATHALIE, ACTE 2.
It is interesting to see under what different forms the same sentiment is developed by different races, and in different languages. It is an Epicurean sentiment, indeed, but its universality proves its truth to nature.
27. Some of the provinces and places thus conquered were held by the allied powers in common; Tlacopan, however, only receiving one fifth of the tribute. It was more usual to annex the vanquished territory to that one of the two great states, to which it lay nearest. See Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 38.--Zurita, Rapport, p. 11.
28. Ixtlilxoclitl, Hist. Chich, MS., cap. 41. The same writer in another work, calls the population of Tezcuco, at this period, double of what it was at the Conquest; founding his estimate on the royal registers, and on the numerous remains of edifices still visible in his day, in places now depopulated. "Parece en las historias que en este tiempo, antes que se destruyesen, havia doblado mas gente de las que halló al tiempo que vino Cortés, y los demas Españoles: porque yo hallo en los padrones reales, que el menor pueblo tenia 1100 vecinos, y de allí para arriba, y ahora no tienen 200 vecinos, y aun en algunas partes de todo punto se han acabado...... Como se hecha de ver en las ruinas, hasta los mas altos montes y sierras tenian sus sementeras, y casas principales para vivir y morar." Relaciones, MS., No. 9.
29. Torquemada has extracted the particulars of the yearly expenditure of the palace from the royal account-book, which came into the historian's possession. The following are some of the items, namely; 4,900,300 fanegas of maize; (the fanega is equal to about one hundred pounds;) 2,744,000 fanegas of cacao; 8000 turkeys; 1300 baskets of salt; besides an incredible quantity of game of every kind, vegetables, condiments, &c. (Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap 53.) See, also, Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 35.
30. There were more than four hundred of these lordly residences. "Así mismo hizo edificar muchas casas y palacios para los señores y cavalleros, que asistian en su corte, cada uno conforme á la calidad y méritos de su persona, las quales llegáron á ser mas de quatrocientas casas de señores y cavalleros de solar conocido." Ibid., cap. 38.
31. Ibid., cap. 36. "Esta plaza cercada de portales, y tenia así mismo por la parte del poniente otra sala grande, y muchos quartos á la redonda, que era la universidad, en donde asistian todos los poetas, históricos, y philósophos del reyno, divididos en sus claves, y academias, conforme era la facultad de cada uno, y así mismo estaban aquí los archivos reales."
32. This celebrated naturalist was sent by Philip II. to New Spain, and he employed several years in compiling a voluminous work on its various natural productions, with drawings illustrating them. Although the government is said to have expended sixty thousand ducats in effecting this great object, the volumes were not published till long after the author's death. In 1651 a mutilated edition of the part of the work relating to medical botany appeared at Rome. The original MSS. were supposed to have been destroyed by the great fire in the Escurial, not many years after. Fortunately, another copy, in the author's own hand, was detected by the indefatigable Muñoz, in the library of the Jesuits' College at Madrid, in the latter part of the last century; and a beautiful edition, from the famous press of Ibarra, was published in that capital, under the patronage of government, in 1790. (Hist. Plantarum, Præfatio.--Nic. Antonio, Bibliotheca Hispana Nova, (Matriti, 1790,) tom. II. p. 432.)
The work of Hernandez is a monument of industry and erudition, the more remarkable f as being the first on this difficult subject And after all the additional light from the labors later naturalists, it still holds its place as a book of the highest authority, for the perspicui(Y fidelity, and thoroughness, with which the multifarious topics in it are discussed.
33. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 36.
34. "Some of the terraces on which it stood," says Mr. Bullock, speaking of this palace, "are still entire, and covered with cement, very hard, and equal in beauty to that found in ancient Roman buildings..... The great church, which stands close by, is almost entirely built of the materials taken from the palace, many of the sculptured stones from which may be seen in the walls, though most of the ornaments are turned inwards. Indeed, our guide informed us, that whoever built a house at Tezcuco made the ruins of the palace serve as his quarry." (Six Months in Mexico, chap. 26.) Torquemada notices the appropriation of the materials to the same purpose. Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 45.
35. Ixtlilxochitl, MS., ubi supra.
36. Thus, to punish the Chalcas for their rebellion, the whole population were compelled, women as well as men, says the chronicler so often quoted, to labor on the royal edifices, for four years together; and large granaries were provided with stores for their maintenance, in the mean time. Idem. Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 46.
37. If the people in general were not much addicted to polygamy, the sovereign, it must be confessed,--and it was the same, we shall see, in Mexico,--made ample amends for any self-denial on the part of his subjects.
38. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 37.
39. The Egyptian priests managed the affair in a more courtly style, and, while they prayed that all sorts of kingly virtues might descend on the prince, they threw the blame of actual delinquencies on his ministers; thus, "not by the bitterness of reproof," says Diodorus, "but by the allurements of praise, enticing him to an honest way of life." Lib. 1, cap. 70.
40. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 42.
41. "Quinientos y veynte escalones." Davilla Padilla, Historia de la Provincia de Santiago, (Madrid, 1596,) lib. 2, cap. 81.
This writer, who lived in the sixteenth century, counted the steps himself. Those which were not cut in the rock were crumbling into ruins, as, indeed, every part of the establishment was even then far gone to decay.
42. On the summit of the mount, according to Padilla, stood an image of a coyotl,--an animal resembling a fox,--which, according to tradition, represented an Indian famous for his fasts. It was destroyed by that stanch iconoclast, Bishop Zumarraga, as a relic of idolatry. (Hist. de Santiago, lib. 2, cap. 81.) This figure was, no doubt, the emblem of Nezahualcoyotl himself, whose name, as elsewhere noticed, signified "hungry fox."
43. "Hecho de un peña un leon de mas de dos brazas de largo con sus alas y plumas: estaba hechado y mirando á la parte del oriente, en cuia boca asomaba un rostro, que era el mismo retrato del Rey." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 42.
44. Bullock speaks of a "beautiful basin, twelve feet long by eight wide, having a well five feet by four, deep in the centre," &c., &c. Whether truth lies in the bottom of this well is not so clear. Latrobe describes the paths as "two singular basins, perhaps two feet and a half in diameter, not large enough for any monarch bigger than Oberon to take a duck in." (Comp. Six Months in Mexico, chap. 26; and Rambler in Mexico, let. 7.) Ward speaks much to the same purpose, (Mexico in 1827, (London, 1828,) vol. II. p. 296,) which agrees with verbal accounts I have received of the same spot.
45. "Gradas hechas de la misma peña tan bien gravadas y lizas que parecian espejos." (Ixtlilxochitl, MS., ubi supra.) The travellers just cited notice the beautiful polish still visible in the porphyry.
46. Padilla saw entire pieces of cedar among the ruins, ninety feet long, and four in diameter. Some of the massive portals, he observed, were made of a single stone. (Hist. de Santiago, lib. 11, cap. 81.) Peter Martyr notices an enormous wooden beam, used in the construction of the palaces of Tezcuco, which was one hundred and twenty feet long by eight feet in diameter! The accounts of this and similar huge pieces of timber were so astonishing, he adds, that he could not have received them except on the most unexceptionable testimony. De Orbe Novo, dec. 5, cap. 10.
47. It is much to be regretted that the Mexican government should not take a deeper interest in the Indian antiquities. What might not be effected by a few hands drawn from the idle garrisons of some of the neighbouring towns, and employed in excavating this ground, "the Mount Palatine" of Mexico! But, unhappily, the age of violence has been succeeded by one of apathy.
48. "They are, doubtless," says Mr. Latrobe, speaking of what he calls, "these inexplicable ruins,"--"rather of Toltec than Aztec origin, and, perhaps, with still more probability, attributable to a people of an age yet more remote." (Rambler in Mexico, let. 7.) "I am of the opinion," says Mr. Bullock, "that these were antiquities prior to the discovery of America and erected by a people whose history was lost even before the building of the city of Mexico.--Who can solve this difficulty?" (Six Months in Mexico, ubi supra.) The reader who takes Ixtlilxochitl for his guide will have no great trouble in solving it. He will find here, as he might, probably, in some other instances, that one need go little higher than the Conquest, for the origin of antiquities, which claim to be coeval with Phœnicia and Ancient Egypt.
49 Zurita, Rapport, p. 12.
50. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 43.
51. Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 43.
52. Idem, ubi supra.
53. "En traje de cazador, (que lo acostumbraba á hacer muy de ordinario,) saliendo á solas, y disfrazado para que no fuese conocido, á reconocer las faltas y necesidad que havia en la república para remediarlas." Idem, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 46.
54. "Un hombresillo miserable, pues quita á los hombres lo que Dios á manos llenas les da." Ibid., loc. cit.
55. Ibid., cap. 46.
56. "Porque las paredes oian." (Ibid.) A European proverb among the American Aborigines looks too strange, not to make one suspect the hand of the chronicler.
57. "Le dijo, que con aquello poco le bastaba, y viviria bien aventurado; y é1, con toda la máquina que le parecia que tenia arto, no tenia nada; y así lo despidió." Ibid.
59. "Verdaderamente los Dioses que io adoro, que son ídolos de piedra que no hablan, ni sienten, no pudiéron hacer ni formar la hermosura del cielo, el sol, luna, y estrellas que lo hermosean, y dan luz á la tierra, rios, aguas, y fuentes, árboles, y plantas que la hermosean, las gentes que la poseen, y todo lo criado; algun Dios muy poderoso, oculto, y no conocido es el Criador de todo el universo. El solo es él que puede consolarme en mi afliccion, y socorrerme en tan grande angustia como mi corazon siente." MS. de Ixtlilxochitl.
60. MS. de Ixtlilxochitl.
The manuscript here quoted is one of the many left by the author on the antiquities of his country, and forms part of a voluminous compilation made in Mexico by father Vega, in 1792, by order of the Spanish government. See Appendix, Part 2, No. 2.
61. Al Dios no conocido, causa de las causas." MS. de Ixtlilxochitl.
62. Their earliest temples were dedicated to the Sun. The Moon they worshipped as his wife, and the Stars as his sisters. (Veytia, Hist. Antig., tom. 1, cap. 25.) The ruins still existing at Teotihuacan, about seven leagues from Mexico, are supposed to have been temples, raised by this ancient people, in honor of the two great deities. Boturini, Idea, p. 42.
63. MS. de Ixtlilxochitl.
"This was evidently a gong," says Mr. Ranking, who treads with enviable confidence over the "suppositos cineres," in the path of the antiquary. See his Historical Researches on the Conquest of Peru, Mexico, &c., by the Mongols, (London, 1827,) p. 310.
64. "Toda la redondez de la tierra es un sepulcro: no hay cosa que sustente que con título de piedad no la esconda y entierre. Corren los rios, los arroyos, las fuentes, y las aguas, y ningunas retroceden para sus alegres nacimientos: aceleranse con ansia para los vastos dominios de Tlulóca [Neptuno], y cuanto mas se arriman á sus dilatadas márgenes, tanto mas van labrando las melancólicas urnas para sepultarse. Lo que fué ayer no es hoy, ni lo de hoy se afianza que será mañana."
65. Aspiremos al cielo, que allí todo es terno y nada se corrompe."
66. "El horror del sepulcro es lisongera cuna para é1, y las funestas sombras, brillantes luces para los astros."
The original text and a Spanish translation of this poem first appeared, I believe, in a work of Granados y Galvez. (Tardes Americanas, (México, 1778,) p. 90 et seq.) The original is in the Otomie tongue, and both, together with a French version, have been inserted by M. Ternaux-Compans in the Appendix to his translation of Ixtlilxochitl's Hist. des Chichimêques (tom. I. pp. 359-367.) Bustamante, who has, also, published the Spanish version in his Galería de Antiguos Príncipes Mejicanos, (Puebla, 1821, (pp. 16, 17),) calls it the "Ode of the Flower," which was recited at a banquet of the great Tezcucan nobles. If this last, however, be the same mentioned by Torquemada, (Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 45,) it must have been written in the Tezcucan tongue; and, indeed, it is not probable that the Otomie, an Indian dialect, so distinct from the languages of Anahuac, however well understood by the royal poet, could have been comprehended by a miscellaneous audience of his countrymen.
67. An approximation to a date is the most one can hope to arrive at with Ixtlilxochitl, who has entangled his chronology in a manner beyond my skill to unravel. Thus, after telling us that Nezahualcoyotl was fifteen years old when his father was slain in 1418, he says he died at the age of seventy-one, in 1462. Instar omnium. Comp. Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 18, 19, 49.
68. MS. de Ixtlilxochitl,--also, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 49.
69. "No consentiendo que haya sacrificios de gente humana, que Dios se enoja de ello, castigando con rigor á los que lo hicieren; que el dolor que llevo es no tener luz, ni conocimiento, ni ser merecedor de conocer tan gran Dios, el qual tengo por cierto que ya que los presentes no lo conozcan, ha de venir tiempo en que sea conocido y adorado en esta tierra." MS. de Ixtlilxochitl.
70. Idem, ubi supra; also Hist. Chich., cap. 40.
71. Hist. Chich., cap. 49.
72. "Solia amonestar á sus hijos en secreto que no adorasen á aquellas figuras de ídolos, y que aquello que hiciesen en público fuese solo por cumplimiento." Ibid.
73. Idem, ubi supra.
74. The name Nezahualpilli signifies "the prince for whom one has fasted,"--in allusion, no doubt, to the long fast of his father previous to his birth. (See Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 45.) I have explained the meaning of the equally euphonious name of his parent, Nezahualcoyotl. (Ante, ch. 4.) If it be true, that
"Cæsar or Epaminondas
Could ne'er without names have been known to us."
it is no less certain that such names as those of the two Tezcucan princes, so difficult to be pronounced or remembered by a European, are most unfavorable to immortality.
75. "De las concubinas la que mas privó con el rey, fué la que llamaban la Señora de Tula, no por linage, sino porque era hija de un mercader, y era tan sabia que competia con el rey y con los mas sabios de su reyno, y era en la poesía muy aventajada, que con estas gracias y dones naturales tenia al rey muy sugeto á su voluntad de tal manera que lo que queria alcanzaba de é1, y así vivia sola por sí con grande aparato y magestad en unos palacios que el rey le mandó edificar." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 57.
76. Ibid., cap. 67.
The Tezcucan historian records several appalling examples of his severity;--one in particular, in relation to his guilty wife. The story, reminding one of the tales of an Oriental harem, has been translated for the Appendix, Part 2, No. 3. See also Torquemada, (Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 66,) and Zurita (Rapport, pp. 108, 109). He was the terror, in particular, of all unjust magistrates. They had little favor to expect from the man who could stifle the voice of nature in his own bosom, in obedience to the laws. As Suetonius said of a prince who had not his virtue, "Vehemens et in coercendis quidem delictis immodicus." Vita Galbæ, sec. 9.
77. Torquemada saw the remains of this, or what passed for such, in his day. Monarch. Ind., lib. 2, cap. 64.
78. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 73, 74.
This sudden transfer of empire from the Tezcucans, at the close of the reigns of two of their ablest monarchs, is so improbable, that one cannot but doubt if they ever possessed it,--at least, to the extent claimed by the patriotic historian. See Ante, Chap. 1, note 25, and the corresponding text.
79. Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 72.
The reader will find a particular account of these prodigies, better authenticated than most miracles, in a future page of this History.
80. Ibid., cap. 75.--Or, rather, at the age of fifty, if the historian is right, in placing his birth, as he does, in a preceding chapter, in 1465. (See cap. 46) It is not easy to decide what is true, when the writer does not take the trouble to be true to himself.
81. His obsequies were celebrated with sanguinary pomp. Two hundred male and one hundred female slaves were sacrificed at his tomb. His body was consumed, amidst a heap of jewels, precious stuffs, and incense, on a funeral pile; and the ashes, deposited in a golden urn, were placed in the great temple of Huitzilopotchli, for whose worship the king, notwithstanding the lessons of his father, had some partiality. Ibid.