Chapter VIII 
MARCH RESUMED- VALLEY OF MEXICO- IMPRESSION ON THE SPANIARDS-
CONDUCT OF MONTEZUMA- THEY DESCEND INTO THE VALLEY
EVERYTHING being now restored to quiet in Cholula, the allied army
of Spaniards and Tlascalans set forward in high spirits, and resumed
the march on Mexico. The road lay through the beautiful savannas and
luxuriant plantations that spread out for several leagues in every
direction. On the march they were met occasionally by embassies from
the neighbouring places, anxious to claim the protection of the
white men, and to propitiate them by gifts, especially of gold, for
which their appetite was generally known throughout the country.
Some of these places were allies of the Tlascalans, and all showed
much discontent with the oppressive rule of Montezuma. The natives
cautioned the Spaniards against putting themselves in his power by
entering his capital; and they stated, as evidence of his hostile
disposition, that he had caused the direct road to it to be blocked
up, that the strangers might be compelled to choose another, which,
from its narrow passes and strong positions, would enable him to
take them at great disadvantage.
The information was not lost on Cortes, who kept a strict eye on
the movements of the Mexican envoys, and redoubled his own precautions
against surprise. Cheerful and active, he was ever where his
presence was needed, sometimes in the van, at others in the rear,
encouraging the weak, stimulating the sluggish, and striving to kindle
in the breasts of others the same courageous spirit which glowed in
his own. At night he never omitted to go the rounds, to see that every
man was at his post. On one occasion his vigilance had well nigh
proved fatal to him. He approached so near a sentinel that the man,
unable to distinguish his person in the dark, levelled his crossbow at
him, when, fortunately, an exclamation of the general, who gave the
watchword of the night, arrested a movement which might else have
brought the campaign to a close, and given a respite for some time
longer to the empire of Montezuma.
The army came at length to the place mentioned by the friendly
Indians, where the road forked, and one arm of it was found, as they
had foretold, obstructed with large trunks of trees and huge stones
which had been strewn across it. Cortes inquired the meaning of this
from the Mexican ambassadors. They said it was done by the emperor's
orders, to prevent their taking a route which, after some distance,
they would find nearly impracticable for the cavalry. They
acknowledged, however, that it was the most direct road; and Cortes,
declaring that this was enough to decide him in favour of it, as the
Spaniards made no account of obstacles, commanded the rubbish to be
cleared away. The event left little doubt in the general's mind of the
meditated treachery of the Mexicans. But he was too politic to
betray his suspicions.
They were now leaving the pleasant champaign country, as the
road wound up the bold sierra which separates the great plateaus of
Mexico and Puebla. The air, as they ascended, became keen and
piercing; and the blasts, sweeping down the frozen sides of the
mountains, made the soldiers shiver in their thick harness of
cotton, and benumbed the limbs of both men and horses.
They were passing between two of the highest mountains on the
North American continent, Popocatepetl, "the hill that smokes," and
Iztaccihuatl, or "white woman,"- a name suggested, doubtless, by the
bright robe of snow spread over its broad and broken surface. A
puerile superstition of the Indians regarded these celebrated
mountains as gods, and Iztaccihuatl as the wife of her more formidable
neighbour. A tradition of a higher character described the northern
volcano as the abode of the departed spirits of wicked rulers, whose
fiery agonies in their prison-house caused the fearful bellowings
and convulsions in times of eruption.
The army held on its march through the intricate gorges of the
sierra. The route was nearly the same as that pursued at the present
day by the courier from the capital to Puebla, by the way of Mecameca.
It was not that usually taken by travellers from Vera Cruz, who follow
the more circuitous road round the northern base of Iztaccihuatl, as
less fatiguing than the other, though inferior in picturesque
scenery and romantic points of view. The icy winds, that now swept
down the sides of the mountains, brought with them a tempest of arrowy
sleet and snow, from which the Christians suffered even more than
the Tlascalans, reared from infancy among the wild solitudes of
their own native hills. As night came on, their sufferings would
have been intolerable, but they luckily found a shelter in the
commodious stone buildings which the Mexican government had placed
at stated intervals along the roads for the accommodation of the
traveller and their own couriers.
The troops, refreshed by a night's rest, succeeded, early on the
following day, in gaining the crest of the sierra of Ahualco, which
stretches like a curtain between the two great mountains on the
north and south. Their progress was now comparatively easy, and they
marched forward with a buoyant step, as they felt they were treading
the soil of Montezuma.
They had not advanced far, when, turning an angle of the sierra,
they suddenly came on a view which more than compensated the toils
of the preceding day. It was that of the Valley of Mexico, or
Tenochtitlan, as more commonly called by the natives; which, with
its picturesque assemblage of water, woodland, and cultivated
plains, its shining cities and shadowy hills, was spread out like some
gay and gorgeous panorama before them. In the highly rarefied
atmosphere of these upper regions, even remote objects have a
brilliancy of colouring and distinctness of outline which seem to
annihilate distance. Stretching far away at their feet were seen noble
forests of oak, sycamore, and cedar, and beyond, yellow fields of
maize and the towering maguey, intermingled with orchards and blooming
gardens; for flowers, in such demand for their religious festivals,
were even more abundant in this populous valley than in other parts of
Anahuac. In the centre of the great basin were beheld the lakes,
occupying then a much larger portion of its surface than at present;
their borders thickly studded with towns and hamlets, and, in the
midst,- like some Indian empress with her coronal of pearls,- the fair
city of Mexico, with her white towers and pyramidal temples, reposing,
as it were, on the bosom of the waters,- the far-famed "Venice of
the Aztecs." High over all rose the royal hill of Chapoltepec, the
residence of the Mexican monarchs, crowned with the same grove of
gigantic cypresses which at this day fling their broad shadows over
the land. In the distance beyond the blue waters of the lake, and
nearly screened by intervening foliage, was seen a shining speck,
the rival capital of Tezcuco, and, still further on, the dark belt
of porphyry, girding the Valley around, like a rich setting which
Nature had devised for the fairest of her jewels.
Such was the beautiful vision which broke on the eyes of the
Conquerors. And even now, when so sad a change has come over the
scene; when the stately forests have been laid low, and the soil,
unsheltered from the fierce radiance of a tropical sun, is in many
places abandoned to sterility; when the waters have retired, leaving a
broad and ghastly margin white with the incrustation of salts, while
the cities and hamlets on their borders have mouldered into ruins;-
even now that desolation broods over the landscape, so
indestructible are the lines of beauty which Nature has traced on
its features, that no traveller, however cold, can gaze on them with
any other emotions than those of astonishment and rapture.
What, then, must have been the emotions of the Spaniards, when,
after working their toilsome way into the upper air, the cloudy
tabernacle parted before their eyes, and they beheld these fair seenes
in all their pristine magnificence and beauty! It was like the
spectacle which greeted the eyes of Moses from the summit of Pisgah,
and, in the warm glow of their feelings, they cried out, "It is the
But these feelings of admiration were soon followed by others of a
very different complexion; as they saw in all this the evidences of
a civilisation and power far superior to anything they had yet
encountered. The more timid, disheartened by the prospect, shrunk from
a contest so unequal, and demanded, as they had done on some former
occasions, to be led back again to Vera Cruz. Such was not the
effect produced on the sanguine spirit of the general. His avarice was
sharpened by the display of the dazzling spoil at his feet; and, if he
felt a natural anxiety at the formidable odds, his confidence was
renewed, as he gazed on the lines of his veterans, whose
weather-beaten visages and battered armour told of battles won and
difficulties surmounted, while his bold barbarians, with appetites
whetted by the view of their enemy's country, seemed like eagles on
the mountains, ready to pounce upon their prey. By argument, entreaty,
and menace, he endeavoured to restore the faltering courage of the
soldiers, urging them not to think of retreat, now that they had
reached the goal for which they had panted, and the golden gates
were open to receive them. In these efforts he was well seconded by
the brave cavaliers, who held honour as dear to them as fortune; until
the dullest spirits caught somewhat of the enthusiasm of their
leaders, and the general had the satisfaction to see his hesitating
columns, with their usual buoyant step, once more on their march
down the slopes of the sierra.
With every step of their progress, the woods became thinner;
patches of cultivated land more frequent; and hamlets were seen in the
green and sheltered nooks, the inhabitants of which, coming out to
meet them, gave the troops a kind reception. Everywhere they heard
complaints of Montezuma, especially of the unfeeling manner in which
he carried off their young men to recruit his armies, and their
maidens for his harem. These symptoms of discontent were noticed
with satisfaction by Cortes, who saw that Montezuma's "Mountain
throne," as it was called, was indeed seated on a volcano, with the
elements of combustion so active within, that it seemed as if any hour
might witness an explosion. He encouraged the disaffected natives to
rely on his protection, as he had come to redress their wrongs. He
took advantage, moreover, of their favourable dispositions to
scatter among them such gleams of spiritual light as time and the
preaching of Father Olmedo could afford.
He advanced by easy stages, somewhat retarded by the crowd of
curious inhabitants gathered on the highways to see the strangers, and
halting at every spot of interest or importance. On the road he was
met by another embassy from the capital. It consisted of several Aztec
lords, freighted, as usual, with a rich largess of gold, and robes
of delicate furs and feathers. The message of the emperor was
couched in the same deprecatory terms as before. He even
condescended to bribe the return of the Spaniards, by promising, in
that event, four loads of gold to the general, and one to each of
the captains, with a yearly tribute to their sovereign. So effectually
had the lofty and naturally courageous spirit of the barbarian monarch
been subdued by the influence of superstition!
But the man whom the hostile array of armies could not daunt,
was not to be turned from his purpose by a woman's prayers. He
received the embassy with his usual courtesy, declaring, as before,
that he could not answer it to his own sovereign, if he were now to
return without visiting the emperor in his capital. It would be much
easier to arrange matters by a personal interview than by distant.
negotiation. The Spaniards came in the spirit of peace. Montezuma
would so find it, but, should their presence prove burdensome to
him, it would be easy for them to relieve him of it.
The Aztec monarch, meanwhile, was a prey to the most dismal
apprehensions. It was intended that the embassy above noticed should
reach the Spaniards before they crossed the mountains. When he learned
that this was accomplished, and that the dread strangers were on their
march across the valley, the very threshold of his capital, the last
spark of hope died away in his bosom. Like one who suddenly finds
himself on the brink of some dark and yawning gulf, he was too much
bewildered to be able to rally his thoughts, or even to comprehend his
situation. He was the victim of an absolute destiny, against which
no foresight or precautions could have availed. It was as if the
strange beings, who had thus invaded his shores, had dropped from some
distant planet, so different were they from all he had ever seen, in
appearance and manners; so superior- though a mere handful in numbers-
to the banded nations of Anahuac in strength and science, and all
the fearful accompaniments of war! They were now in the valley. The
huge mountain-screen, which nature had so kindly drawn around it for
its defence, had been overleaped. The golden visions of security and
repose, in which he had so long indulged, the lordly sway descended
from his ancestors, his broad imperial domain, were all to pass
away. It seemed like some terrible dream,- from which he was now,
alas! to awake to a still more terrible reality.
In a paroxysm of despair he shut himself up in his palace, refused
food, and sought relief in prayer and in sacrifice. But the oracles
were dumb. He then adopted the more sensible expedient of calling a
council of his principal and oldest nobles. Here was the same division
of opinion which had before prevailed. Cacama, the young king of
Tezcuco, his nephew, counselled him to receive the Spaniards
courteously, as ambassadors, so styled by themselves, of a foreign
prince. Cuitlahua, Montezuma's more warlike brother, urged him to
muster his forces on the instant, and drive back the invaders from his
capital, or die in its defence. But the monarch found it difficult
to rally his spirits for this final struggle. With downcast eye and
dejected mien he exclaimed, "Of what avail is resistance when the gods
have declared themselves against us! Yet I mourn most for the old
and infirm, the women and children, too feeble to fight or to fly. For
myself and the brave men around me, we must bare our breasts to the
storm, and meet it as we may!" Such are the sorrowful and
sympathetic tones in which the Aztec emperor is said to have uttered
the bitterness of his grief. He would have acted a more glorious
part had he put his capital in a posture of defence, and prepared,
like the last of the Palaeologi, to bury himself under its ruins.
He straightway prepared to send a last embassy to the Spaniards,
with his nephew, the lord of Tezcuco, at its head, to welcome them
The Christian army, meanwhile, had advanced as far as Amaquemecan,
a well-built town of several thousand inhabitants. They were kindly
received by the cacique, lodged in large commodious stone buildings,
and at their departure presented, among other things, with gold to the
amount of three thousand castellanos. Having halted there a couple
of days, they descended among flourishing plantations of maize and
of maguey, the latter of which might be called the Aztec vineyards,
towards the lake of Chalco. Their first resting-place was Ajotzinco, a
town of considerable size, with a great part of it then standing on
piles in the water. It was the first specimen which the Spaniards
had seen of this maritime architecture. The canals, which
intersected the city instead of streets, presented an animated scene
from the number of barks which glided up and down, freighted with
provisions and other articles for the inhabitants. The Spaniards
were particularly struck with the style and commodious structure of
the houses, built chiefly of stone, and with the general aspect of
wealth, and even elegance which prevailed there.
Though received with the greatest show of hospitality, Cortes
found some occasion for distrust in the eagerness manifested by the
people to see and approach the Spaniards. Not content with gazing at
them in the roads, some even made their way stealthily into their
quarters, and fifteen or twenty unhappy Indians were shot down by
the sentinels as spies. Yet there appears, as well as we can judge
at this distance of time, to have been no real ground for such
suspicion. The undisguised jealousy of the court, and the cautions
he had received from his allies, while they very properly put the
general on his guard, seem to have given an unnatural acuteness, at
least in the present instance, to his perceptions of danger.
Early on the following morning, as the army was preparing to leave
the place, a courier came, requesting the general to postpone his
departure till after the arrival of the king of Tezcuco, who was
advancing to meet him. It was not long before he appeared, borne in
a palanquin or litter, richly decorated with plates of gold and
precious stones, having pillars curiously wrought, supporting a canopy
of green plumes, a favourite colour with the Aztec princes. He was
accompanied by a numerous suite of nobles and inferior attendants.
As he came into the presence of Cortes, the lord of Tezcuco
descended from his palanquin, and the obsequious officers swept the
ground before him as he advanced. He appeared to be a young man of
about twenty-five years of age, with a comely presence, erect and
stately in his deportment. He made the Mexican salutation usually
addressed to persons of high rank, touching the earth with his right
hand, and raising it to his head. Cortes embraced him as he rose, when
the young prince informed him that he came as the representative of
Montezuma, to bid the Spaniards welcome to his capital. He then
presented the general with three pearls of uncommon size and lustre.
Cortes, in return, threw over Cacama's neck a chain of cut glass,
which, where glass was a rare as diamonds, might be admitted to have a
value as real as the latter. After this interchange of courtesies, and
the most friendly and respectful assurances on the part of Cortes, the
Indian prince withdrew, leaving the Spaniards strongly impressed
with the superiority of his state and bearing over anything they had
hitherto seen in the country.
Resuming its march, the army kept along the southern borders of
the lake of Chalco, overshadowed at that time by noble woods, and by
orchards glowing with autumnal fruits, of unknown names, but rich
and tempting hues. More frequently it passed through cultivated fields
waving with the yellow harvest, and irrigated by canals introduced
from the neighbouring lake; the whole showing a careful and economical
husbandry, essential to the maintenance of a crowded population.
Leaving the main land, the Spaniards came on the great dike or
causeway, which stretches some four or five miles in length, and
divides lake Chalco from Xochimilco on the west. It was a lance in
breadth in the narrowest part, and in some places wide enough for
eight horsemen to ride abreast. It was a solid structure of stone
and lime, running directly through the lake, and struck the
Spaniards as one of the most remarkable works which they had seen in
As they passed along, they beheld the gay spectacle of
multitudes of Indians darting up and down in their light pirogues,
eager to catch a glimpse of the strangers, or bearing the products
of the country to the neighbouring cities. They were amazed, also,
by the sight of the chinampas, or floating gardens,- those wandering
islands of verdure, to which we shall have occasion to return
hereafter,- teeming with flowers and vegetables, and moving like rafts
over the waters. All round the margin, and occasionally far in the
lake, they beheld little towns and villages, which, half concealed
by the foliage, and gathered in white clusters round the shore, looked
in the distance like companies of wild swans riding quietly on the
waves. A scene so new and wonderful filled their rude hearts with
amazement. It seemed like enchantment; and they could find nothing
to compare it with, but the magical pictures in the Amadis de Gaula.
Few pictures, indeed, in that or any other legend of chivalry, could
surpass the realities of their own experience. The life of the
adventurer in the New World was romance put into action. What
wonder, then, if the Spaniard of that day, feeding his imagination
with dreams of enchantment at home, and with its realities abroad,
should have displayed a Quixotic enthusiasm,- a romantic exaltation of
character, not to be comprehended by the colder spirits of other
Midway across the lake the army halted at the town of
Cuitlahuac, a place of moderate size, but distinguished by the
beauty of the buildings,- the most beautiful, according to Cortes,
that he had yet seen in the country. After taking some refreshment
at this place, they continued their march along the dike. Though
broader in this northern section, the troops found themselves much
embarrassed by the throng of Indians, who, not content with gazing
on them from the boats, climbed up the causeway, and lined the sides
of the roads. The general, afraid that his ranks might be
disordered, and that too great familiarity might diminish a salutary
awe in the natives, was obliged to resort not merely to command but
menace, to clear a passage. He now found, as he advanced, a
considerable change in the feelings shown towards the government. He
heard only of the pomp and magnificence, nothing of the oppressions of
Montezuma. Contrary to the usual fact, it seemed that the respect
for the court was greatest in its immediate neighbourhood.
From the causeway, the army descended on that narrow point of land
which divides the waters of the Chalco from the Tezcucan lake, but
which in those days was overflowed for many a mile, now laid bare.
Traversing this peninsula, they entered the royal residence of
Iztapalapan, a place containing twelve or fifteen thousand houses,
according to Cortes. It was governed by Cuitlahua, the emperor's
brother, who, to do greater honour to the general, had invited the
lords of some neighbouring cities, of the royal house of Mexico,
like himself, to be present at the interview. This was conducted
with much ceremony, and, after the usual presents of gold and delicate
stuffs, a collation was served to the Spaniards in one of the great
halls of the palace. The excellence of the architecture here, also,
excited the admiration of the general, who does not hesitate, in the
glow of his enthusiasm, to pronounce some of the buildings equal to
the best in Spain. They were of stone, and the spacious apartments had
roofs of odorous cedar-wood, while the walls were tapestried with fine
cottons stained with brilliant colours.
But the pride of Iztapalapan, on which its lord had freely
lavished his care and his revenues, was its celebrated gardens. They
covered an immense tract of land; were laid out in regular squares,
and the paths intersecting them were bordered with trellises,
supporting creepers and aromatic shrubs, that loaded the air with
their perfumes. The gardens were stocked with fruit-trees, imported
from distant places, and with the gaudy family of flowers which belong
to the Mexican Flora, scientifically arranged, and growing luxuriant
in the equable temperature of the tableland. The natural dryness of
the atmosphere was counteracted by means of aqueducts and canals, that
carried water into all parts of the grounds.
In one quarter was an aviary, filled with numerous kinds of birds,
remarkable in this region both for brilliancy of plumage and of
song. The gardens were intersected by a canal communicating with the
lake of Tezcuco, and of sufficient size for barges to enter from the
latter. But the most elaborate piece of work was a huge reservoir of
stone, filled to a considerable height with water, well supplied
with different sorts of fish. This basin was sixteen hundred paces
in circumference, and was surrounded by a walk, made also of stone,
wide enough for four persons to go abreast. The sides were curiously
sculptured, and a flight of steps led to the water below, which fed
the aqueducts above noticed, or, collected into fountains, diffused
a perpetual moisture.
Such are the accounts transmitted of these celebrated gardens,
at a period when similar horticultural establishments were unknown
in Europe; and we might well doubt their existence in this
semi-civilised land, were it not a matter of such notoriety at the
time, and so explicitly attested by the invaders. But a generation had
scarcely passed after the Conquest before a sad change came over these
scenes so beautiful. The town itself was deserted, and the shore of
the lake was strewed with the wreck of buildings which once were its
ornament and its glory. The gardens shared the fate of the city. The
retreating waters withdrew the means of nourishment, converting the
flourishing plains into a foul and unsightly morass, the haunt of
loathsome reptiles; and the water-fowl built her nest in what had once
been the palaces of princes!
In the city of Iztapalapan, Cortes took up his quarters for the
night. We may imagine what a crowd of ideas must have pressed on the
mind of the Conqueror, as, surrounded by these evidences of
civilisation, he prepared, with his handful of followers, to enter the
capital of a monarch, who, as he had abundant reason to know, regarded
him with distrust and aversion. This capital was now but a few miles
distant, distinctly visible from Iztapalapan. And as its long lines of
glittering edifices, struck by the rays of the evening sun, trembled
on the dark blue waters of the lake, it looked like a thing of fairy
creation, rather than the work of mortal hands. Into this city of
enchantment Cortes prepared to make his entry on the following
1. "Andauamos," says Diaz, in the homely, but expressive Spanish proverb, "la barba sobre el ombro." Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 86.
2. Ibid., ubi supra.--Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 70.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 41.
3. "Llamaban al volcan Popocatépetl, y á la sierra nevada Iztaccihuatl, que quiere decir la sierra que humea, y la blanca muger." Camargo, Hist. de Tlascala, MS.
4. "La Sierra nevada y el volcan los tenian por Dioses; y que el volcan y la Sierra nevada eran marido y muger." Ibid., MS.
5. Gomara, Crónica, cap. 62.
"Ætna Giganteos nunquam tacitura triumphos,
Enceladi bustum, qui saucia terga revinctus
Spirat inexhaustum flagranti pectore sulphur."
CLAUDIAN, De Rapt. Pros., lib. 1, v. 152.
6. The old Spaniards called any lofty mountain by that name, though never having given signs of combustion. Thus, Chimborazo was called a volcan de nieve, or "snow volcano"; (Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. I, p. 162;) and that enterprising traveller, Stephens, notices the volcan de agua, "water volcano," in the neighborhood of Antigua Guatemala. Incidents of Travel in Chiapas, Central America, and Yucatan, (New York, 1841,) vol. I. chap. 13.
7. Mont Blanc, according to M. de Saussure, is 15,670 feet high. For the estimate of Popocatepetl, see an elaborate communication in the Revista Mexicana, tom. II. No. 4.
8. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 70.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 5.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 78.
The latter writer speaks of the ascent as made when the army lay at Tlascala, and of the attempt as perfectly successful. The general's letter, written soon after the event, with no motive for misstatement, is the better authority. See, also, Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 6, cap. 18.--Rel. d'un gent., ap. Ramusio, tom. III. p. 308.--Gomara, Cronica, cap. 62.
9 Rel. Ter. y Quarta de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, pp. 318, 380.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 3, lib. 3, cap. 1.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 41.
M. de Humboldt doubts the fact of Montaño's descent into the crater, thinking it more probable that he obtained the sulphur through some lateral crevice in the mountain. (Essai Politique, tom. I. p. 164.) No attempt--at least, no successful one--has been made to gain the summit of Popocatepetl, since this of Montaño, till the present century. In 1827 it was reached in two expeditions, and again in 1833 and 1834. A very full account of the last, containing many interesting details and scientific observations, was written by Federico de Gerolt, one of the party, and published in the periodical already referred to. (Revista Mexicana, tom. I. pp. 461-482.) The party from the topmost peak, which commanded a full view of the less elevated Iztaccihuatl, saw no vestige of a crater in that mountain, contrary to the opinion usually received.
10. Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. IV. p. 17.
11. The lake of Tezcuco, on which stood the capital of Mexico, is 2277 metres, nearly 7500 feet, above the sea. Humboldt, Essai Politique, tom. II. p. 45.
12. It is unnecessary to refer to the pages of modern travellers, who, however they may differ in taste, talent, or feeling, all concur in the impressions produced on them by the sight of this beautiful valley.
13. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 41.
It may call to the reader's mind the memorable view of the fair plains of Italy which Hannibal displayed to his hungry barbarians, after a similar march through the wild passes of the Alps, as reported by the prince of historic painters. Livy, Hist., lib. 21, cap. 35.
14. Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., ubi supra.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 3.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 64.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 5.
15. A load for a Mexican tamane was about fifty pounds, or eight hundred ounces. Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. III. p. 69, nota.
16. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 12.--Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 73.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 3.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 64.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 5.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 87.
17. This was not the sentiment of the Roman hero.
"Victrix causa Diis placuit, sed victa Catoni!"
LUCAN, lib. 1, v. 128.
18. Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 13.--Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 44.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 63.
19. "El señor de esta provincia y pueblo me dió hasta quarenta esclavas, y tres mil castellanos; y dos dias que alli estuye nos proveyó may cumplidamente de todo lo necessario para nuestra comida." Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 74.
20. "De todas partes era infinita la gente que de un cabo é de otro concurrian á mirar á los Españoles, é maravillábanse mucho de los ver. Tenian grande espacio é atencion en mirar los caballos; decian, 'Estos son Teules,' que quiere decir Demonios." Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 45.
21. Cortés tells the affair coolly enough to the emperor. "É aquella noche tuve tal guarda, que assí de espías, que venian por el agua en canoas, como de otras, que por la sierra abajaban, á ver si habia aparejo para executar suvoluntad, amaneciéron casi quince, ó veinte, que las nuestras las habian tomado, y muerto. Por manera que pocas bolviéron á dar su respuesta de el aviso que venian á tomar." Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 74.
22. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 75.--Gomara, Crónica, cap. 64.--Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 85.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 5.
"Llegó con el mayor fausto, y grandeza que ningun señor de los Mexicanos auiamos visto traer, . . . . y lo tuuímos por muy gran cosa: y platicámos entre nosotros, que quando aquel Cacique traia tanto triunfo, que haria el gran Monteçuma?" Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 87.
23. "Nos quedámos admirados," exclaims Diaz, with simple wonder, "y deziamos que parecia á las casas de encantamento, que cuentan en libro de Amadis!" (Ibid., loc. cit.) An edition of this celebrated romance in its Castilian dress had appeared before this time, as the prologue to the second edition of 1521 speaks of a former one in the reign of the "Catholic Sovereigns." See Cervantes, Don Quixote, ed. Pellicer, (Madrid, 1797,) tom. I., Discurso Prelim.
24. "Una ciudad, la mas hermosa, aunque pequeña, que hasta entonces habiamos visto, assí de muy bien obradas Casas, y Torres, como de la buena órden, que en el fundamento de ella habia por ser armada toda sobre Agua." (Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ap. Lorenzana, p. 76.) The Spaniards gave this aquatic city the name of Venezuela, or little Venice. Toribio, Hist. de los Indios, MS., Parte 2, cap. 4.
25. M. de Humboldt has dotted the conjectural limits of the ancient lake in his admirable chart of the Mexican Valley. (Atlas Géographique et Physique de la Nouvelle Espagne, (Paris, 1811,) carte 3.) Notwithstanding his great care, it is not easy always to reconcile his topography with the itineraries of the Conquerors, so much has the face of the country been changed by natural and artificial causes. It is still less possible to reconcile their narratives with the maps of Clavigero, Lopez, Robertson, and others, defying equally topography and history.
26. Several writers notice a visit of the Spaniards to Tezcuco on the way to the capital. (Torquemada, Monarch. Ind., lib. 4, cap. 42.--Solís, Conquista, lib. 3, cap. 9.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 4.--Clavigero, Stor. del Messico, tom. III. p. 74.) This improbable episode--which, it may be remarked, has led these authors into some geographical perplexities, not to say blunders--is altogether too remarkable to have been passed over in silence, in the minute relation of Bernal Diaz, and that of Cortés, neither of whom alludes to it.
27. "É me diéron," says Cortés, "hasta tres, ó quarto mil Castellanos, y algunas Esclavas, y Ropa, é me hiciéron muy buen acogimiento." Rel. Seg., ap. Lorenzana, p. 76.
28. "Tiene el Señor de ella unas Casas nuevas, que aun no están acabadas, que son tan buenas como las mejores de España, digo de grandes y bien labradas." Ibid., p. 77.
29. The earliest instance of a Garden of Plants in Europe is said to have been at Padua, in 1545. Carli, Lettres Américaines, tom. I. let. 21.
30. Rel. Seg. de Cortés, ubi supra.--Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 2, lib. 7, cap. 44.--Sahagun, Hist. de Nueva España, MS., lib. 12, cap. 13.--Oviedo, Hist. de las Ind., MS., lib. 33, cap. 5.--Bernal Diaz, Hist. de la Conquista, cap. 87.
31. "There Aztlan stood upon the farther shore;
Amid the shade of trees its dwellings rose,
Their level roofs with turrets set around,
And battlements all burnished white, which shone
Like silver in the sunshine. I beheld
The imperial city, her far-circling walls,
Her garden groves and stately palaces,
Her temples mountain size, her thousand roofs;
And when I saw her might and majesty,
My mind misgave me then."
SOUTHEY'S MADOC, Part 1, canto 6.