Chapter VI 
ACCOUNT OF MONTEZUMA- STATE OF HIS EMPIRE- STRANGE PROGNOSTICS-
EMBASSY AND PRESENTS- SPANISH ENCAMPMENT
WE must now take leave of the Spanish camp in the tierra caliente, and transport ourselves to the distant capital of Mexico, where no little sensation was excited by the arrival of the wonderful strangers on the coast. The Aztec throne was filled at that time by Montezuma the Second, nephew of the last, and grandson of a preceding monarch. He had been elected to the regal dignity in 1502, in preference to his brothers, for his superior qualifications, both as a soldier and a priest,- a combination of offices sometimes found in the Mexican candidates, as it was, more frequently, in the Egyptian. In early youth he had taken an active part in the wars of the empire, though of late he had devoted himself more exclusively to the services of the temple; and he was scrupulous in his attentions to all the burdensome ceremonial of the Aztec worship. He maintained a grave and reserved demeanour, speaking little and with prudent deliberation. His deportment was well calculated to inspire ideas of superior sanctity.
Montezuma displayed all the energy and enterprise in the commencement of his reign, which had been anticipated from him. His first expedition against a rebel province in the neighbourhood was crowned with success, and he led back in triumph a throng of captives for the bloody sacrifice that was to grace his coronation. This was celebrated with uncommon pomp. Games and religious ceremonies continued for several days, and among the spectators who flocked from distant quarters were some noble Tlascalans, the hereditary enemies of Mexico. They were in disguise, hoping thus to elude detection. They were recognised, however, and reported to the monarch. But he only availed himself of the information to provide them with honourable entertainment, and a good place for witnessing the games. This was a magnanimous act, considering the long cherished hostility between the nations.
In his first years, Montezuma was constantly engaged in war, and frequently led his armies in person. The Aztec banners were seen in the furthest provinces of the Gulf of Mexico, and the distant regions of Nicaragua and Honduras. The expeditions were generally successful; and the limits of the empire were more widely extended that at any preceding period.
Meanwhile the monarch was not inattentive to the interior concerns of the kingdom. He made some important changes in the courts of justice; and carefully watched over the execution of the laws, which he enforced with stern severity. He was in the habit of patrolling the streets of his capital in disguise, to make himself personally acquainted with the abuses in it. And with more questionable policy, it is said, he would sometimes try the integrity of his judges by tempting them with large bribes to swerve from their duty, and then call the delinquent to strict account for yielding to the temptation.
He liberally recompensed all who served him. He showed a similar munificent spirit in his public works, constructing and embellishing the temples, bringing water into the capital by a new channel, and establishing a hospital, or retreat for invalid soldiers, in the city of Colhuacan.
These acts, so worthy of a great prince, were counterbalanced by others of an opposite complexion. The humility, displayed so ostentatiously before his elevation, gave way to an intolerable arrogance. In his pleasure-houses, domestic establishment, and way of living, he assumed a pomp unknown to his predecessors. He secluded himself from public observation, or, when he went abroad, exacted the most slavish homage; while in the palace he would be served only, even in the most menial offices, by persons of rank. He, further, dismissed several plebeians, chiefly poor soldiers of merit, from the places they had occupied near the person of his predecessor, considering their attendance a dishonour to royalty. It was in vain that his oldest and sagest counsellors remonstrated on a conduct so impolitic.
While he thus disgusted his subjects by his haughty deportment, he alienated their affections by the imposition of grievous taxes. These were demanded by the lavish expenditure of his court. They fell with peculiar heaviness on the conquered cities. This oppression led to frequent insurrection and resistance; and the latter years of his reign present a scene of unintermitting hostility, in which the forces of one half of the empire were employed in suppressing the commotions of the other. Unfortunately there was no principle of amalgamation by which the new acquisitions could be incorporated into the ancient monarchy, as parts of one whole. Their interests, as well as sympathies, were different. Thus the more widely the Aztec empire was extended, the weaker it became, resembling some vast and ill-proportioned edifice, whose disjointed materials having no principle of cohesion, and tottering under their own weight, seem ready to fall before the first blast of the tempest.
In 1516, died the Tezcucan king, Nezahualpilli, in whom Montezuma lost his most sagacious counsellor. The succession was contested by his two sons, Cacama and Ixtlilxochitl. The former was supported by Montezuma. The latter, the younger of the princes, a bold, aspiring youth, appealing to the patriotic sentiment of his nation, would have persuaded them that his brother was too much in the Mexican interests to be true to his own country. A civil war ensued, and ended by a compromise, by which one half of the kingdom, with the capital, remained to Cacama, and the northern portion to his ambitious rival. Ixtlilxochitl became from that time the mortal foe of Montezuma.
A more formidable enemy still was the little republic of Tlascala, lying midway between the Mexican Valley and the coast. It had maintained its independence for more than two centuries against the allied forces of the empire. Its resources were unimpaired, its civilisation scarcely below that of its great rival states, and for courage and military prowess it had established a name inferior to none other of the nations of Anahuac.
Such was the condition of the Aztec monarchy, on the arrival of Cortes;- the people disgusted with the arrogance of the sovereign; the provinces and distant cities outraged by fiscal exactions; while potent enemies in the neighbourhood lay watching the hour when they might assail their formidable rival with advantage. Still the kingdom was strong in its internal resources, in the will of its monarch, in the long habitual deference to his authority,- in short, in the terror of his name, and in the valour and discipline of his armies, grown grey in active service, and well drilled in all the tactics of Indian warfare. The time had now come when these imperfect tactics and rude weapons of the barbarian were to be brought into collision with the science and enginery of the most civilised nations of the globe.
During the latter years of his reign, Montezuma had rarely taken part in his military expeditions, which he left to his captains, occupying himself chiefly with his sacerdotal functions. Under no prince had the priesthood enjoyed greater consideration and immunities. The religious festivals and rites were celebrated with unprecedented pomp. The oracles were consulted on the most trivial occasions; and the sanguinary deities were propitiated by hecatombs of victims dragged in triumph to the capital from the conquered or rebellious provinces. The religion, or, to speak correctly, the superstition of Montezuma proved a principal cause of his calamities.
In a preceding chapter I have noticed the popular traditions respecting Quetzalcoatl, that deity with a fair complexion and flowing beard, so unlike the Indian physiognomy, who, after fulfilling his mission of benevolence among the Aztecs, embarked on the Atlantic Sea for the mysterious shores of Tlapallan. He promised, on his departure, to return at some future day with his posterity, and resume the possession of his empire. That day was looked forward to with hope or with apprehension, according to the interest of the believer, but with general confidence throughout the wide borders of Anahuac. Even after the Conquest, it still lingered among the Indian races, by whom it was as fondly cherished, as the advent of their king Sebastian continued to be by the Portuguese, or that of the Messiah by the Jews.
A general feeling seems to have prevailed in the time of Montezuma, that the period for the return of the deity, and the full accomplishment of his promise, was near at hand. This conviction is said to have gained ground from various preternatural occurrences, reported with more or less detail by all the most ancient historians. In 1510, the great lake of Tezcuco, without the occurrence of a tempest, or earthquake, or any other visible cause, became violently agitated, overflowed its banks, and, pouring into the streets of Mexico, swept off many of the buildings by the fury of the waters. In 1511, one of the turrets of the great temple took fire, equally without any apparent cause, and continued to burn in defiance of all attempts to extinguish it. In the following years, three comets were seen; and not long before the coming of the Spaniards a strange light broke forth in the east. It spread broad at its base on the horizon, and rising in a pyramidal form tapered off as it approached the zenith. It resembled a vast sheet or flood of fire, emitting sparkles, or, as an old writer expresses it, "seemed thickly powdered with stars." At the same time, low voices were heard in the air, and doleful wailings, as if to announce some strange, mysterious calamity! The Aztec monarch, terrified at the apparitions in the heavens, took council of Nezahualpilli, who was a great proficient in the subtle science of astrology. But the royal sage cast a deeper cloud over his spirit, by reading in these prodigies the speedy downfall of the empire.
Such are the strange stories reported by the chroniclers, in which it is not impossible to detect the glimmerings of truth. Nearly thirty years had elapsed since the discovery of the islands by Columbus, and more than twenty since his visit to the American continent. Rumours, more or less distinct, of this wonderful appearance of the white men, bearing in their hands the thunder and the lightning, so like in many respects to the traditions of Quetzalcoatl, would naturally spread far and wide among the Indian nations. Such rumours, doubtless, long before the landing of the Spaniards in Mexico, found their way up the grand plateau, filling the minds of men with anticipations of the near coming of the period when the great deity was to return and receive his own again.
When tidings were brought to the capital of the landing of Grijalva on the coast, in the preceding year, the heart of Montezuma was filled with dismay. He felt as if the destinies which had so long brooded over the royal line of Mexico were to be accomplished, and the sceptre was to pass away from his house for ever. Though somewhat relieved by the departure of the Spaniards, he caused sentinels to be stationed on the heights; and when the Europeans returned under Cortes, he doubtless received the earliest notice of the unwelcome event. It was by his orders, however, that the provincial governor had prepared so hospitable a reception for them. The hieroglyphical report of these strange visitors, now forwarded to the capital, revived all his apprehensions. He called without delay a meeting of his principal counsellors, including the kings of Tezcuco and Tlacopan, and laid the matter before them.
There seems to have been much division of opinion in that body. Some were for resisting the strangers at once, whether by fraud, or by open force. Others contended, that, if they were supernatural beings, fraud and force would be alike useless. If they were, as they pretended, ambassadors from a foreign prince, such a policy would be cowardly and unjust. That they were not of the family of Quetzalcoatl was argued from the fact, that they had shown themselves hostile to his religion; for tidings of the proceedings of the Spaniards in Tabasco, it seems, had already reached the capital. Among those in favour of giving them a friendly and honourable reception was the Tezcucan king, Cacama.
But Montezuma, taking counsel of his own ill-defined apprehensions, preferred a half-way course,- as usual, the most impolitic. He resolved to send an embassy, with such a magnificent present to the strangers, as should impress them with high ideas of his grandeur and resources; while at the same time, he would forbid their approach to the capital. This was to reveal, at once, both his wealth and his weakness.
While the Aztec court was thus agitated by the arrival of the Spaniards, they were passing their time in the tierra caliente, not a little annoyed by the excessive heats and suffocating atmosphere of the sandy waste on which they were encamped. They experienced every alleviation that could be derived from the attentions of the friendly natives. These, by the governor's command, had constructed more than a thousand huts or booths of branches and matting which they occupied in the neighbourhood of the camp. Here they prepared various articles of food for the tables of Cortes and his officers, without any recompense; while the common soldiers easily obtained a supply for themselves, in exchange for such trifles as they brought with them for barter. Thus the camp was liberally provided with meat and fish dressed in many savoury ways, with cakes of corn, bananas, pine-apples, and divers luscious vegetables of the tropics, hitherto unknown to the Spaniards. The soldiers contrived, moreover, to obtain many little bits of gold, of no great value, indeed, from the natives; a traffic very displeasing to the partisans of Velasquez, who considered it an invasion of his rights. Cortes, however, did not think it prudent in this matter to baulk the inclinations of his followers.
At the expiration of seven, or eight days at most, the Mexican embassy presented itself before the camp. It may seem an incredibly short space of time, considering the distance of the capital was near seventy leagues. But it may be remembered that tidings were carried there by means of posts, as already noticed, in the brief space of four-and-twenty hours; and four or five days would suffice for the descent of the envoys to the coast, accustomed as the Mexicans were to long and rapid travelling. At all events, no writer states the period occupied by the Indian emissaries on this occasion as longer than that mentioned.
The embassy, consisting of two Aztec nobles, was accompanied by the governor, Teuhtlile, and by a hundred slaves, bearing the princely gifts of Montezuma. One of the envoys had been selected on account of the great resemblance which, as appeared from the painting representing the camp, he bore to the Spanish commander. And it is a proof of the fidelity of the painting, that the soldiers recognised the resemblance, and always distinguished the chief by the name of the "Mexican Cortes."
On entering the general's pavilion, the ambassadors saluted him and his officers, with the usual signs of reverence to persons of great consideration, touching the ground with their hands and then carrying them to their heads, while the air was filled with clouds of incense, which rose up from the censers borne by their attendants. Some delicately wrought mats of the country (petates) were then unrolled, and on them the slaves displayed the various articles they had brought. They were of the most miscellaneous kind; shields, helmets, cuirasses, embossed with plates and ornaments of pure gold; collars and bracelets of the same metal, sandals, fans, panaches and crests of variegated feathers, intermingled with gold and silver thread, and sprinkled with pearls and precious stones; imitations of birds and animals in wrought and cast gold and silver, of exquisite workmanship; curtains, coverlets, and robes of cotton, fine as silk, of rich and various dyes, interwoven with feather-work that rivalled the delicacy of painting. There were more than thirty loads of cotton cloth in addition. Among the articles was the Spanish helmet sent to the capital, and now returned filled to the brim with grains of gold. But the things which excited the most admiration were two circular plates of gold and silver, "as large as carriage-wheels." One, representing the sun, was richly carved with plants and animals,- no doubt, denoting the Aztec century. It was thirty palms in circumference, and was valued at twenty thousand pesos de oro. The silver wheel, of the same size, weighed fifty marks.*
* Robertson cites Bernal Diaz as reckoning the value of the silver plate at 20,000 pesos or about L 5000. (History of America, vol. ii. note 75.) But Bernal Diaz speaks only of the value of the gold plate, which he estimates at 20,000 pesos de oro, a different affair from the pesos, dollars, or ounces of silver, with which the historian confounds them. As the mention of the peso de oro will often recur in these pages, it will be well to make the reader acquainted with its probable value. Nothing more difficult than to ascertain the actual value of the currency of a distant age; so many circumstances occur to embarrass the calculation, besides the general depreciation of the precious metals, such as the adulteration of specific coins and the like. Senior Clemencin, the secretary of the Royal Academy of History, in the sixth volume of its Memorias, has computed with great accuracy the value of the different denominations of the Spanish currency at the close of the fifteenth century, the period just preceding that of the conquest of Mexico. He makes no mention of the peso de oro in his tables. But he ascertains the precise value of the gold ducat, which will answer our purpose as well. (Memorias de la Real Academia de Historia [Madrid, 1821], tom. vi. *Ilust. 20.) Oviedo, a contemporary of the Conquerors, informs us that the peso de oro and the castellano were of the same value, and that was precisely one third greater than the value of the ducat. (Hist. del Ind., lib. 6, cap. 8, ap. Ramusio, Navigationi et Viaggi [Venetia, 1565], tom. iii.) Now the ducat, as appears from Clemencin, reduced to our own currency, would be equal to eight dollars and seventy-five cents. The peso de oro, therefore, was equal to eleven dollars and sixty-seven cents, or two pounds, twelve shillings, and sixpence sterling. Keeping this in mind, it will be easy for the reader to determine the actual value in pesos de oro, of any sum that may be hereafter mentioned.
When Cortes and his officers had completed their survey, the ambassadors courteously delivered the message of Montezuma. "It gave their master great pleasure," they said, "to hold this communication with so powerful a monarch as the King of Spain, for whom he felt the most profound respect. He regretted much that he could not enjoy a personal interview with the Spaniards, but the distance of his capital was too great; since the journey was beset with difficulties, and with too many dangers from formidable enemies, to make it possible. All that could be done, therefore, was for the strangers to return to their own land, with the proofs thus afforded them of his friendly disposition."
Cortes, though much chagrined at this decided refusal of Montezuma to admit his visit, concealed his mortification as he best might, and politely expressed his sense of the emperor's munificence. "It made him only the more desirous," he said, "to have a personal interview with him. He should feel it, indeed, impossible to present himself again before his own sovereign, without having accomplished this great object of his voyage; and one, who had sailed over two thousand leagues of ocean, held lightly the perils and fatigues of so short a journey by land." He once more requested them to become the bearers of his message to their master, together with a slight additional token of his respect.
This consisted of a few fine Holland shirts, a Florentine goblet, gilt and somewhat curiously enamelled, with some toys of little value,- a sorry return for the solid magnificence of the royal present. The ambassadors may have thought as much. At least, they showed no alacrity in charging themselves either with the present. or the message; and, on quitting the Castilian quarters, repeated their assurance that the general's application would be unavailing.
The splendid treasure, which now lay dazzling the eyes of the Spaniards, raised in their bosoms very different emotions, according to the difference of their characters. Some it stimulated with the ardent desire to strike at once into the interior, and possess themselves of a country which teemed with such boundless stores of wealth. Others looked on it as the evidence of a power altogether too formidable to be encountered with their present insignificant force. They thought, therefore, it would be most prudent to return and report their proceedings to the governor of Cuba, where preparations could be made commensurate with so vast an undertaking. There can be little doubt as to the impression made on the bold spirit of Cortes, on which difficulties ever operated as incentives rather than discouragements to enterprise. But he prudently said nothing,- at least in public,- preferring that so important a movement should flow from the determination of his whole army, rather than from his own individual impulse.
Meanwhile the soldiers suffered greatly from the inconveniences of their position amidst burning sands and the pestilent effluvia of the neighbouring marshes, while the venomous insects of these hot regions left them no repose, day or night. Thirty of their number had already sickened and died; a loss that could in be afforded by the little band. To add to their troubles, the coldness of the Mexican chiefs had extended to their followers; and the supplies for the camp were not only much diminished, but the prices set on them were exorbitant. The position was equally unfavourable for the shipping, which lay in an open roadstead, exposed to the fury of the first norte which should sweep the Mexican Gulf.
The general was induced by these circumstances to despatch two vessels, under Francisco de Montejo, with Alaminos for his pilot, to explore the coast in a northerly direction, and see if a safer port and more commodious quarters for the army could not be found there.
After the lapse of ten days the Mexican envoys returned. They entered the Spanish quarters with the same formality as on the former visit, bearing with them an additional present of rich stuffs and metallic ornaments, which, though inferior in value to those before brought, were estimated at three thousand ounces of gold. Besides these, there were four precious stones of a considerable size, resembling emeralds, called by the natives chalchuites, each of which, as they assured the Spaniards, was worth more than a load of gold, and was designed as a mark of particular respect for the Spanish monarch. Unfortunately they were not worth as many loads of earth in Europe.
Montezuma's answer was in substance the same as before. It contained a positive prohibition for the strangers to advance nearer to the capital; and expressed the confidence, that, now they had obtained what they had most desired, they would return to their own country without unnecessary delay. Cortes received this unpalatable response courteously, though somewhat coldly, and, turning to his officers, exclaimed, "This is a rich and powerful prince indeed; yet it shall go hard, but we will one day pay him a visit in his capital!"
While they were conversing, the bell struck for vespers. At the sound, the soldiers, throwing themselves on their knees, offered up their orisons before the large wooden cross planted in the sands. As the Aztec chiefs gazed with curious surprise, Cortes thought it a favourable occasion to impress them with what he conceived to be a principal object of his visit to the country. Father Olmedo accordingly expounded, as briefly and clearly as he could, the great doctrines of Christianity, touching on the atonement, the passion, and the resurrection, and concluding with assuring his astonished audience, that it was their intention to extirpate the idolatrous practices of the nation, and to substitute the pure worship of the true God. He then put into their hands a little image of the Virgin with the infant Redeemer, requesting them to place it in their temples instead of their sanguinary deities. How far the Aztec lords comprehended the mysteries of the Faith, as conveyed through the double version of Aguilar and Marina, or how well they perceived the subtle distinctions between their own images and those of the Roman Church, we are not informed. There is a reason to fear, however, that the seed fell on barren ground; for, when the homily of the good father ended, they withdrew with an air of dubious reserve very different from their friendly manners at the first interview. The same night every hut was deserted by the natives, and the Spaniards saw themselves suddenly cut off from supplies in the midst of a desolate wilderness. The movement had so suspicious an appearance, that Cortes apprehended an attack would be made on his quarters, and took precautions accordingly. But none was meditated.
The army was at length cheered by the return of Montejo from his exploring expedition, after an absence of twelve days. He had run down the Gulf as far as Panuco, where he experienced such heavy gales, in attempting to double that headland, that he was driven back, and had nearly foundered. In the whole course of the voyage he had found only one place tolerably sheltered from the north winds. Fortunately, the adjacent country, well watered by fresh running streams, afforded a favourable position for the camp; and thither, after some deliberation, it was determined to repair.
1. His name suited his nature; Montezuma, according to Las Casas, signifying, in the Mexican, "sad or severe man." Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 120.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 70.--Acosta, lib. 7, cap. 20.--Col. de Mendoza, pp. 13-16; Codex Tel.-Rem., p. 143, ap. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. VI.
2. For a full account of this prince, see Book I., chap. 6.
3. The address is fully reported by Torquemada, (Monarch. Ind., lib. 3, cap. 68,) who came into the country little more than half a century after its delivery. It has been recently republished by Bustamante. Tezcuco en los Últimos Tiempos, (México, 1826,) pp. 256-258.
4. Acosta, lib. 7, cap. 22.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 8, Prólogo, et cap. 1.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 3, cap. 73, 74, 81.--Col. de Mendoza, pp. 14, 85, ap. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. VI.
5. Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. I. pp. 267, 274, 275.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 70-76.--Acosta, lib. 7, cap. 21.
6. Ante, Book I., chap. 3, pp. 38, 39, and note 6.
7. Tezozomoc, Crón. Mexicana, MS., cap. 107--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 1.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 14; lib. 6, cap. 24.--Codex Vaticanus, ap. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. VI.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, lib. 8, cap. 7.--Ibid., MS., lib. 12, cap. 3, 4.
8. "Tenia por cierto," says Las Casas of Montezuma, "segun sus prophetas ó agoreros le avian certificado, que su estado é rriquezas y prosperidad avia de perezer dentro de pocos años por çiertas gentes que avian de venir en sus dias, que de su felicidad lo derrocase, y por esto vivia siempre con temor y en tristeça y sobresaltado." Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 120.
9. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--The Interpreter of the Codex Tel.-Rem. intimates that this scintillating phenomenon was probably nothing more than an eruption of one of the great volcanoes of Mexico. Antiq. of Mexico, vol. VI. p. 144.
10. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 1.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Acosta, lib. 7, cap. 23.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 5, cap. 5.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 74.
11. I omit the most extraordinary miracle of all,--though legal attestations of its truth were furnished the Court of Rome, (see Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. I. p. 289,)--namely, the resurrection of Montezuma's sister, Papantzin, four days after her burial, to warn the monarch of the approaching ruin of his empire. It finds credit with one writer, at least, in the nineteenth century! See the note of Sahagun's Mexican editor, Bustamante, Hist. de Nueva España, tom. II. p. 270.
12. Lucan gives a fine enumeration of such prodigies witnessed in the Roman capital in a similar excitement. (Pharsalia, lib. 1, v. 523, et seq.) Poor human nature is much the same everywhere. Machiavelli has thought the subject worthy of a separate chapter in his Discourses. The philosopher intimates a belief even in the existence of beneficent intelligences who send these portents as a sort of premonitories, to warn mankind of the coming tempest. Discorsi sopra Tito Livio, lib. 1, cap. 56.
13. Las Casas, Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 120.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 80.--Idem, Relaciones, MS.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 3, 4.--Tezozomoc, Crón. Mexicana, MS., cap. 108.
14. Tezozomoc, Crón. Mexicana, MS., loc. cit.--Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 80.
15. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 39.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 27, ap. Barcia, tom. II.
16. Ante, Book 1, Chap. 2, p. 29.
17. From the chequered figure of some of these colored cottons, Peter Martyr infers, the Indians were acquainted with chess! He notices a curious fabric made of the hair of animals, feathers, and cotton thread, interwoven together. "Plumas illas et concinnant inter cuniculorum villos interque gosampij stamina ordiuntur, et intexunt operose adeo, ut quo pacto id faciant non bene intellexerimus." De orbe Novo, (Parisiis, 1587,) dec. 5, cap. l0.
18. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 39.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 1.--Las Casas, Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 120.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 27, ap. Barcia, tom. II.--Carta de Vera Cruz, MS.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 5, cap. 5.
Robertson cites Bernal Diaz as reckoning the value of the silver plate at 20,000 pesos, or about £5,000. (History of America, Vol. II. note 75.) But Bernal Diaz speaks only of the value of the gold plate, which he estimates at 20,000 pesos de oro, a different affair from the pesos, dollars, or ounces of silver, with which the historian confounds them. As the mention of the peso de oro will often recur in these pages, it will be well to make the reader acquainted with its probable value.
19. "Cierto cosas de ver!" exclaims Las Casas, who saw them with the Emperor Charles V. in Seville, in 1520. "Quedáron todos los que viéron aquestas cosas tan ricas y tan bien artifiçiadas y ermosísimas como de cosas nunca vistas," &c. (Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 120.) "Muy hermosas"; says Oviedo, who saw them in Valladolid, and describes the great wheels more minutely; "todo era mucho de ver!" (Hist. de las Indias, MS., loc. cit.) The inquisitive Martyr, who examined them carefully, remarks, yet more emphatically, "Si quid unquam honoris humana ingenia in huiuscemodi artibus sunt adepta, principatum iure merito ista consequentur. Aurum, gemmasque non admiror quidem, quâ industriâ, quó studio superet opus materiam, stupeo. Mille figuras et facies mille prospexi quæ scribere nequeo. Quid oculos hominum suâ pulchritudine æque possit allicere meo iudicio vidi nunquam." De Orbe Novo, dec. 4, cap. 9.
20. Las Casas, Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 121.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 39.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 80.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 27, ap. Barcia, tom. II.
21. Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 40.
22. Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.--Las Casas, Hist. de las Indias, MS., lib. 3, cap. 121.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 40, 41.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 5, cap. 6.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 29, ap. Barcia, tom. II.