Page images

of net-work, over which they passed with tolerable security.

The Peruvians had made also some progress in the arts. They had discovered the method of smelting and refining the silver ore which they found in the channels or dug for in the earth. They made mirrors by highly polishing hard shining stones ; vessels of earthen ware of different forms; hatchets and other instruments, some destined for war, and others for labour.

Notwithstanding so many particulars, which seem to indicate an high degree of civilization, other circumstances occur that suggest the idea of a society still in the first stages of its improvement. In all the dominions of the incas, Cuzco was the only place that had the appearance or was entitled to the name of a city: Every where else the people lived mostly in detached habitations, dispersed over the country or settled in small villages. Of course, the separation of professions in Peru was not so complete as among the Mexicans. The less closely men associate, the more simple are their manners, and the fewer their wants. All the arts, accord. ingly, which were of daily and indispensable utility, were exercised by every Peruvian indiscriminately. None but artists employed in works of mere curiosity or ornament constituted a separate order of men, or were distinguished from other citizens. Another consequence resulting from the want of cities, was the little commercial intercourse among the inhabitants of that great empire. But the unwarlike spirit of the Peruvians was the most remarkable as well as the most fatal defect in their character. By this, Peru was subdued at once, and almost without resistance; and the most favoura


ble opportunities of regaining their freedom, and of crushing their oppressors, were lost through the timidity of the people. This character hath descended to their posterity : the Indians of Peru are now more tame and depressed than any people of America.

The cruel custom that prevailed in some of the most savage tribes, subsisted also among the Peruvians. On ihe death of the incas, a considerable number of their attendants were put to death and interred around them, that they might appear in the next world with their former dignity, and be served with proper respect.

On the death of Huana-Capac, the most powerful of their monarchs, above a thousand victims were doomed to accompany

him to the tomb..


[ocr errors][merged small]


Vim of the other Spanish Possessions and Con

quests in the New World. Cinaloa. New Navarre.. Now Merico. Chili. Tacréman. Rio de la Plata. Terra Firma. Nero Granada. Galleons. Effect of the Spanish Settlements with regard to the Colonies. Depapulation with respect to Spain. Idleness and Poverty. Register-Ships. Trade of Acapulco. Revenue.

sessions of Spain in the New World which have attracted the greatest attention, yet her other dominions there are far from being inconsiderable either in extént or value. The greater part of them was reduced to şubjection during the first part of the sixteenth century by private adventurers, who fitted out their small armaments either in Hispaniola or in Old Spain: and if our limits would allow us to follow each leader in his progress, we should discover the same daring courage, the same persevering ardour, the same rapacious desire of wealth, and the same capacity of enduring and surmounting every thing in order to attain it, which distinguished the operations of the Spaniards in their greater American conquests: Instead, however, of entering into a detail of this kind, it will be right to give a brief description of those provinces of Spanish America which have not hitherto been mentioned, The jurisdiction of the viceroy of New Spain



extends over several provinces which were not subject to the dominion of the Mexicans. The countries of Cinaloa and Sonara, that stretch along the east side of the Gulf of California, as well as the immense kingdoms of New Navarre and New Mexico, which bend towards the west and north, and did not acknowledge the sovereignty of Montezuma or his predeces; , are reduced, some to a greater, others to a less degree of subjection to the Spanish yoke. They extend through the most delightful part of the temperate zone, and have a communication either with the Pacific Ocean or with the Gulf of Mexico, and are watered by rivers which not only enrich them but may become subservient to com

The number of Spaniards settled in these provinces is extremely small; but from the rich mines that have been discovered, opened, and worked with success, they are becoming more populous, and may soon be as valuable as any part of the Spanish empire of America,

The peninsula of California was discovered by Cortes in the year 1536, but the Spaniards have made little progress in peopling it. Don Joseph Galvez, who was sent by the court of Spain to visit it, brought a very favourable account: he found the pearl fishery on its coasts to be valuable, and he discovered mines of gold of a very promising appearance. From its vicinity to Cinaloa and Sonara, California may, perhaps, hereafter be no longer regarded among the desolate and almost useless districts of the Spanish empire. On the east of Mexico, Yucatan and Honduras are comprehended in the government of New Spain. They stretch from the Bay of Campeachy beyond Cape Gracias a Dios, and derive their value principally from the lagwood tree, which for the purposes of dyeing




has become an article in commerce of great value. Still farther east than Honduras lie the two provinces of Costa Riga and Veragua, which are of but small value, and merit no particular attention.

The most important province depending on the viceroyalty of Peru is Chili, the inhabitants of which were, in a great measure, independent of the incas, and for a considerable time successfully resisted the arms of the Spaniards. The mountainous parts of the country are still possessed by tribes of the original inhabitants, who are formidable neighbours to the Spaniards, with whom, during the course of two centuries, they have been obliged to maintain almost perpetual hostility.

That part of Chili which may be properly deemed a Spanish province, is a narrow district extended along the coast from the desert of Atacamas to the island of Chiloe; above 900 miles. Its climate is the most delicious in the New World. The soil is very fertile, and accommodated to European productions : among these are corn, wine, and oil. All the fruits imported from Europe attain to full maturity there, and the animals of our hemisphere multiply and improve, Nor has Nature exhausted her bounty on the surface of the earth; she has stored its bowels in various parts with mines of gold, of silver, of copper, and of lead:

To the east of the Andes, the provinces of Tucuman and Rio de la Plata border on Chili, and stretch from north to south 1300 miles, and in breadth more than a thousand. This country forms itself into two great divisions, one on the north and the other to the south of Rio de la Plata. The former comprehends Paraguay, the famous missions of the Jesuits, and several other districts.


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »