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JUN 2 41027 
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BY THE REV. JLEAy^STkir^Ti, \ [ 





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A M E Bit G -M: 

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• • • • « 

• • • < •• • 


*\» •• •• ml • 

• • • • • 







Twenty-six lyears had elapsed since Colum- book 
bus conducted the people of Europe to the 

New World. During that period the Spa- wimp^ti 
niards had made great progress in exploring wmthm 
its various regions. They had visited all the ^'"^'^^ 
islands scattered in different clusters through 
that part of the ocean which flows in between 
North and South America. They had sailed 
along the eastern coast of the continent, frcmi 
the river De la Plata to the bottom of the 
Mexican Gulf, and had found that it stretched 
without interruption through this vast portion 
of the globe. They had discovered the great 
Southern Ocean, which opened new prospects 
in that quarter. They had acquired spme 



knowledge of the coast of Florida^ which led 
them to observe the continent as it extended 
in an opposite direction ; and though they 
pushed their discoveries no farther towards the 
north, other nations had visited those parts 
which they neglected. The English, in a voy- 
age, the motives and success of which shall be 
related in another part of this History, had 
sailed along the coast of America from Lia- 
brador to the confines of Florida; and the 
Portuguese, in quest of a shorter passage to the 
East-Indies, had ventured into the northern 
seas, and viewed the same regions.* Thus, 
at the period where I have chosen to take a 
view of the state of the New World, its extent 
was known almost from its northern extremity 
to thirty-five degrees south of the equator. 
The countries which stretch from thence to 
the southern boundary of America, the great 
empire of Peru, and the interior state of the 
extensive dominions subject to the sovereigns 
of Mexico, were still undiscovered. 

The vast 
extent of 
the New 

When we contemplate the NeW World, the 
first circumstance that strikes us is its immense 
extent. It was not a small portion of the earth, 
so inconsiderable that it might have escaped 
the observation or research of former ages. 


* Herrera, dec. 1. lib. vi. c. 16. 


which Columbus discovered. He made known 
a new hemisphere, larger than either Europe, 
or Asia, or Africa, the three noted divisions of 
the ancient continent, and not much inferior 
in dimensions to a third part of the habitable 

America is remarkable, not only for its 
magnitude, but for its position. It stretches 
from the northern polar circle to a high south- 
em latitude, above fifteen hundred miles be- 
yond the farthest extremity of the old conti- 
nent on that side of the line. A country of 
such extent passes through all the climates 
capable of becoming the habitation of man, 
and fit for yielding the various productions pe- 
culiar either to the temperate or to the torrid 
regions of the earth. 

Next to the extent of the New World, the Owndob. 
grandeur of the objects which it presents to aenteto 

view is most apt to strike the eye of an observer. 
Nature seems here to have carried on her ope- 
rations upon a larger scale, and with a bolder 
hand, and to have distinguished the features of 
this country by a peculiar magnificence. The ^*f ™*«**" 
mountains in America are much superior in 
height to those in the other divisions of the 
globe. Even the plain of Quito, which may be 
considered as the base of the Andes, is elevated 
farther above the sea than the top of the Pyre- 




nees. This stupendous ridge of the Andes, no 
less remarkable for extent than elevation, rises 
in different places more than (jne-third above 
the Peak of 'Teneriffe, the highest land in the 
ancient hemisphere. The Andes may literally 
be said to hide their heads in the clouds ; the. 
storms often roU, and the thunder burets below 
their sun^mits, which, though exposed to the 
rays of the sun in the centre of the torrid zone, 
are covered with everlasting snows.* 

RiTcrt, From these lofty mountains descend rivers, 
proportionably large, with which the streams in 
the ancient continent are not to be compared, 
either for length of course, or the vast body of 
water which they roll towards the ocean. The 
Maragnon, the Orinoco, the Plata in South 
America, the Mississippi and St Laurence in 
North America, flow in such spacious chan- 
nels, that, long before they feel the influence 
of the tide, they resemble arms of the sea ra- 
ther than rivers of fresh water, t 

Lakes. The lakes of the New World are no less 
conspicuous for grandeur than its moutitains 
and rivers. There is nothing in other parts 
of the globe which resembles the prodigious 
chain of lakes in North America. They may 

* See Note I. Page 347. f See Nots II. Page 348. 



properly be termed inland seas of fresh water ; 
and even those of the second or third class in 
magnitude are of larger circuit (the Caspian 
Sea excepted) than the greatest lake of the 
ancient continent. 

The New World is of a form extremely fa- ^J^JJ^^ 
vourable to commercial intefcoufse. When a comae*, 
continent is formed, like Africa, of one vast 
solid mass, unbroken by arms of the sea pene- 
trating into it» interior parts, with few large 
rivers, and those at a considerable distance 
from each other, the greater part of it seems 
destined to remain for ever uncivilized, and to 
be debarred from any active or enlarged com- 
munication with the rest of mankind. When, 
like Europe, a continent is opened by inlets of 
the ocean of great extent, such as the Medi- 
terranean and Baltic ; or when, like Asia, its 
coast is broken by deep bays advancing far 
into the country, such as the Black Sea, the 
Gulfs of Arabia, of Persia, of Bengal, of Siam, 
and of Leotang ; when the surrounding seas 
are filled with large and fertile islands, and 
the continent itself watered with a variety of 
navigable rivers, those regions may be said to 
possess whatever can facilitate the progress of 
their inhabitants in commerce and improve- 
ment. In all these respects, America may 
bear a comparison with the other quarters of 
the globe. The Gulf of Mexico, which flows 


in between North and South America, may be 
considered as a Mediterranean Sea, which 
opens a maritime commerce with all the fer- 
tile countries by which it is encircled. The 
islands scattered in it are inferior only to 
those in the Indian Archipelago, in number, 
in magnitude, and in value. As we stretch 
along the northern division of the American 
J hemisphere, the Bay of Chesapeak presents a 
spacious inlet, which conducts the navigator 
far into the interior parts of provinces no less 
fertile than extensive j and if ever the pro- 
gress of culture and population shall mitigate 
the extreme rigour of the climate in the 
more northern districts of America, Hudson's 
Bay may become as subservient to commer- 
cial intercourse in that quarter of the globe, 
as the Baltic is in Europe. The other great 
portion of the New World is encompassed on 
every side by the sea, except one narrow 
neck which separates the Atlantic from the 
Pacific Ocean ; and though it be not opened 
by spacious bays or arms of the sea, its interior 
parts are rendered accessible by a number of 
large rivers, fed by so many auxiliary streams, 
flowing in such various directions, that, almost 
without any aid from the hand of industry 
and art, an inland navigation may be carried 
on through all the provinces, from the river 
De la Plata to the Gulf of Paria. Nor is this 
bounty of nature confined to the southern di- 



vision of America: its northern continent 
abounds no less in rivers which are navigable 
almost to their sources ; and by its immense 
chain of lakes» provision is made for an inland 
communication, more extensive and commo- 
dious than in any quarter of the globe. The 
countries stretching from the Gulf of Darien 
on one side» to that of California on the other, 
which form the chain that binds the two parts 
of the American continent together, are not 
destitute of peculiar advantages. Their coast 
on one side is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, 
on the other by the Pacific. Some of their 
rivers flow into the former, some into the 
latter, and secure to them all the commercial 
benefits that may result from a communication 
with both. 

But what most distinguishes America from 
other parts of the earth, is the peculiar tempe- 
rature of its climate, and the different laws to 
which it is subject with respect to the distribu- 
tion of heat and cold. We cannot determine 
with precision the portion of heat felt in any 
part of the globe, merely by measuring its dis- 
tance from the equator. The climate of a 
country is affected, in some degree, by its ele- 
vation above the sea, by the extent of conti- 
nent, by the nature of the soil, the height of 
adjacent mountains, and many other circum* 
stances. The influence of these, however, is, 

turaof iti 




nance of 


from various causes, less considerable in the 
greater part of the ancient continent; and 
from knowing the position of any country 
there, we can pronounce with greater certain- 
ty, what will be the warmth of its climate, and 
the nature of its productions. 

The maxims which are founded upon ob- 
servation of our hemisphere, will not apply to 
the other. In the New World, cold predomi- 
nates. The rigour of the frigid zone extends 
over half of those regions, which should be 
temperate by their position. Countries where 
the grape and the % should ripen, are buried 
und^r snow one-half of the year j and lands 
situated in the same parallel with the most 
fertile and best cultivated provinces in Europe, 
are chilled with perpetual frosts, which almost 
destroy the power of vegetation. * As we ad- 
vance to those parts of America which lie in 
the same parallel with provinces of Asia and 
Africa, blessed with an uniform enjoyment of 
such gepial warmth as is most friendly to life 
and to Vegetation, the dominion of cold conti- 
nues to be felt, and winter reigns, though dur- 
ing a short period, with extreme severity. If 
we proceed along the American continent into 
the torrid zone, we shall find the cold preva- 

* See Note III. Page 349. 



lent in the New World extending itself also to book 
this region of the globe, and mitigating the -_ \j' 
excess of its fervour. While the negro on the 
coast of Africa is scorched with unremitting 
heat, the inhabitant of Fern breadies an air 
equally mild and temperate, and is perpetually 
shaded under a canc^y of grey clouds, which 
intercepts the fierce beams of the sun, without 
obstructing his friendly influence.* Along the 
eastern coast of America, the climate, though 
more similar to that of the torrid zone in other 
parts of the earth, is nevertheless considerably 
milder than in those countries of Asia and 
Africa which lie in the same latitude. If from 
the southern tropic we continue our progress 
to the extremity of the American continent, 
we meet with frozen seas, and countries hor- 
rid, barren, and scarcely habitable for cold, 
much sooner than in the north.t 

Various causes combine in rendering the CmucsoT 
climate of America so extremely different from ^^^ 
that of the ancient continent. Though the 
utmost extent of America towards the north 
be not yet discovered, we know that it advan- 

* Yoyage de Ulloa, torn, i, p. 453. Anson'a Voyif e, 
p. 184. 

f Anion's Voyage, p. 74. ; and Voyage de Quiros, chez 
Hist, de Gen. des Voyages, torn. sir. p. 83. Richard, Hist. 
Natur. de FAir, ii, S05> &c. 


BOOK ces much nearer to the pole than either Europe 
or Asia. Both these liave large seas to the 
north, which are open during part of the year ; 
and even when covered with ice» the wind that 
blows over them is less intensely cold than 
that which. blows over land in the same high 
latitudes. But in America the land stretches 
from the river St Laurence towards the pole, 
and spreads out immensely to the west. A 
chain of enormous mountains, covered with 
snow and ice, runs through all this dreary 
region. The wind, in passing over such an 
extent of high and frozen land, becomes so 
impregnated with cold, that it acquires a pierc- 
ing keenness, which it retains in its progress 
through warmer climates, and it is not entirely 
mitigated until it reach the Gulf of Mexico. 
Over all the continent of North America, a 
north-westerly wind and excessive cold are 
synonynious terms. Even in the most sultiy 
weather, the moment that the wind veers to 
that quarter, its penetrating influence is felt in 
a transition from heat to cold no less violent 
than sudden. To this powerful cause we may 
ascribe the extraordinary^ dominion of cold, and 
its violent inroads into the southern provinces 
in that part of the globe.* 

* Charlevoix, Hut. de Nov. Fr. iii. 165. Hist, Generate 
Voyagei , torn. xt. 215, &c. 



Other causes, no less remarkable, ditninidi sook 
the active power of heat in those parts of the 
American continent which lie between the 
tropics. In all that portion of the globe, the 
wind blows in an invariable direction from east 
to west. As this wind holds its course across 
the ancient continent, it arrrv^es at the coun- 
tries which stretch along the western shores of 
Africa, inflamed with all the fiery particles 
which it hath collected from the sultry plains 
of Asia, and the burning sands in the African 
deserts. The coast of AfHca is, accordingly, 
the region of the earth which feels the most 
fervent heat, and is exposed to the unmitigated 
ardour of the torrid zone. But this same wind 
which brings such an accession of warmth to 
the countries lying between the river of Sene- 
gal and Caffraria, traverses the Atlantic Ocean 
before it reaches the American shore. It is 
cooled in its passage over this vast body of 
water, and is felt as a refreshing gale along the 
coast of Brasil* and Guiana, rendering these 
countries, though among the warmest in Ame- 
rica, temperate, when compared with those 
which lie opposite to them in Africa.t As this 
wind advances in its course across America, it 
meets with immense plains, covered with im- 
penetrable forests, or occupied by large rivers. 

« See Notx IV. Page 849. f See Non Y. Page $5% 


BOOK marshes, and stagnating waters, where it can 
Wp-y^/ recover no considerable degree of heat. At 
length it arrives at the Andes, which run from 
north to south through the whole continent. 
In passing over their elevated and frozen sum- 
mits, it is so thoroughly cooled, that the grea- 
ter part of the countries beyond them hardly 
feel the ardour to which they seem exposed by 
their situation.* In the other provinces of 
America, from Tierra Firm^ westward to the 
Mexican empire, the heat of the climate is 
tempered, in some places, by the elevation of 
the land above the sea, in others, by their ex- 
traordinary humidity, and in all, by the enor- 
mous mountains scattered over this tract. The 
islands of America in the torrid zone are either 
small or mountlainous, and are fanned alter- 
nately by refreshing sea and land breezy. 

The causes of the extraordinary cold towards 
the southern limits of America, and in the seas 
beyond it, cannot be ascertained in a manner 
equally satisfying. It was long supposed that 
a vast continent, distinguished by the name of 
Terra Aus&alis Incognita^ lay between the 
southern extremity of America and the Ant- 

» Acosta, Hilt. Novi Orbis, Ub. ii. c. 11. Buffon, Hist. 
NttureUc, &c. torn. ii. 512, ftc. ix. 107, &c. Osbom'i 
Collect of Voyages, ii. p. 868. 


arctic pole. The same principles which ac- 
count for the extraordinary d^ree of cold in 
the northern regions of America^ were em- 
ployed in order to explain that which is felt at 
Cape Horn and the adjacent countries. The 
immense extent of the southern continent, and 
the large rivers which it poured into the ocean, 
were mentioned and admitted by philosophers 
as causes sufficient to occasion the unusual 
sensation of cold, and the still more uncom- 
mon appearances of frozen seas in that region 
of the globe. But the imaginary continent to 
which such influence was ascribed having been 
searched for in vain, and the space which it^ 
was supposed to occupy having been found to 
be an open sea, new conjectures must be 
formed with respect to the causes of it tem- 
perature of climate, so extremely different 
from that which we experience in countries 
removed at the same distance from the oppo- 
site pole.* 

After contemplating those permanent and Condition 
characteristic qualities of the American conti- disooTered. 
nent, which arise from the peculiarity of its 
situation and the disposition of its parts, the 
next object that merits attention is its condi- 
tion when first discovered, as far as that de- 

* See Note VI. Page 353. 



BOOK pended upon the industry and operations of 
man. The effects of human ingenuity and la- 
bour are more extensive and considerable, than 
even our own vanity is apt at first to imagine. 
When we survey the face of the habitable 
globe, no small part of that fertility and beauty 
which we ascribe to the hand of nature, is 
the work of man. His efforts, when continued 
through a succession of ages, change the ap- 
pearance and improve the qualities of the 
earth. As a great part of the ancient conti- 
nent has long been occupied by nations far 
advanced in arts and industry, our eye is ac- 
customed to view the earth in that form which 
it assumes when rendered fit to be the resi- 
dence of a numerous race of men, and to sup- 
ply them with nourishment. 

Rude and BuT iu the New World, the state of man- 
el. ^* kind was ruder, and the aspect of nature ex- 
tremely different. Throughout all its vast 
regions, there were only two monarchies re- 
markable for extent of territory, or distinguish- 
ed by any progress in improvement. The rest 
of this continent was possessed by small inde- 
pendent tribes, destitute of arts and industry, 
and neither capable to correct the defects, nor 
desirous to meliorate the condition of that part 
of the earth allotted to them for their habi- 
tation. Countries occupied by such people, 
were almost in the same state as if they had 


be^n without inhabitants.' Immense forests ^^^ 
covered a great part of the uncultivated earth ; 
and as the hand of industry had not taught the 
rivers to run in a proper channel, or drained 
off the stagnating water, many of the most 
fertile plains were overflowed with inunda- 
tions, or converted into marshes. In the 
southerti provinces, where the warmth of the 
sun, the moisture of the climate, and the fer- 
tility of the soil, combine in calling forth the 
most vigorous powers of vegetation, the woods 
are so choked with its rtok luxuriance as to 
be almost impervious, and the surface of the 
ground is hid from the eye under a thick cover- 
ing of shrubs and herbs and weeds. In this 
state of wild unassisted nature, a great part of 
the large provinces in South America, which 
extend from the bottom of the Andes to the 
sea, still remain. The European colonies have 
cleared and cultivated a few spots along the 
coast, but the original race of inhabitants, as 
rude and indolent as ever, have done nothing 
to open or improve a country, possessing al- 
most every advantage of situation and climate. 
As we advance towards the northern provinces 
of America, nature continues to wear the same 
uncultivated aspect, and in proportion as the 
rigour of the climate increases, appears more 
desolate and horrid. Tliere, the forests, though 
not encumbered with the same exuberance of 
vegetation, are of immense extent ; prodigious 



^?v^ marshes overspread the plains, and few marks 
^_r-yVi^ appear of human activity in any attempt to 
cultivate or embellish the earth. No wonder 
that the colonies sent from Europe were asto- 
nished at their first entrance into the New 
World. It appeared to them waste, solitary, 
and uninviting. When the English began to 
settle in America, they termed the c6untries 
of which they took possession. The Wilderness. 
Nothing but their eager expectation of finding 
mines of gold, could have induced the Spa- 
niards to penetrate through the woods and 
marshes of America, where, at every step, they 
observed the extreme difference between the 
uncultivated face of nature, and that which it 
acquires under the forming hand of industry 
and art.* 


Unwhob- The labour and operations of man not only 
improve and embellish the earth, but render it 
more wholesome and friendly to life. When 
any region lies neglected and destitute of cul- 
tivation, the air stagnates in the woods, putrid 
exhalations arise from the waters j the surface 
of the earth, loaded with rank vegetation, feels 
not the purifying influence of the sun or of the 
wind ; the malignity of the distempers natural 
to the climate increases, and new maladies no 

♦ See Note VIL Page 9ff7. 


* Gomara, Hist, c.20.22. Oviedo, Hist. Kb.ii. c. 13:. 
lib. V. c 10. P. Mart. Epist. 54^5. Decad. p. 176. 


less noxious are engendered* Acoordingiy, all 
the provinces of America, when first discover- 
ed, were found to be remarkably unhealthy* 
This the Spaniards experienced in every expe- 
dition into the New World, whether destined 
for conquest or settlement. Though, by the 
natural constitution of their bodies^ their habi* 
tual temperance, and the persevering vigour of 
their minds, they were as much formed as any 
pe<^le in Europe for active service in a sultry 
climate, they felt severely the fatal and perni- 
cious qualities of those uncultivated regions 
through which they marched, or where they 
endeavoured to plant colonies. Great num- 
bers were cut oiF by the unknown and violent 
diseases with whid) they were infected. Such 
as survived the destructive rage of these ma- 
ladies, were not exempted from the noxious 
influence of the climate. They returned to 
Europe, according to the description of the 
early Spanish historians, feeble, emaciated, 
with languid looks, and complexions of such a 
skkly yellow colour, as indicated the unwhole- 
some, temperature of the countries where they 
had resided.* 



The uocultivated state of the New World 
afiected not only the temperature of the air, 
ite animals, but the qualities of its productions. The prin* 
ciple of life seems to have been less active and 
vigorous there, than in the ancient cpntijoent* 
Notwithstanding the vast extent of America^ 
and the variety of its climates, the di&rent 
species of animals peculiar to it are much fewer 
in' proportion, than those of the other hemi- 
sphere. In the islands, there were only four 
kinds of quadrupeds known, the lai^eat of 
which did not exceed the size of a rabbit. On 
the continent, the variety was greater ; and 
though the individuals of each kind could not 
fail of multiplying exceedingly, when almost 
unmolested by men, who were neither so nu* 
merous, nor so united in society, as to be for« 
midable enemies to the animal creation, the 
number of di$;tinct species must still be consi* 
dered as extremely small. Of two hundred 
different kinds of animals spread over the face 
of the earth, only about one-third existed in 
America at the time of its discovery.^ Nature 
was not only less proline in the New World, 
but she appears likewise to have been less vi- 
gorous in her productions. The animals ori- 
ginally belonging to this quarter of the globe 
appear to be of an inferior race, neither so 

* Buffim, Hist. NatureUe> torn, ix, p. 86. 



robost; nor so fierce, as those of the other con- book 
tinent America gives birth to no creature of 
such bulk as to be compared with the elephant 
or rhinoceros^ or that equals the lion and tiger 
in strength and ferocity.* The r<f;;^of firasil, 
die largest quadruped of the ravenous tribe ill 
the New Worlds is not larger than a calf df six 
monllis old* The Puma and Jaguar^ its fiercest 
beasts of prey, which Europeans have inaccu- 
rately denominated lions and tigers, possess 
neither the undaunted courage o£ the Airmer, 
nor the ravenous cruelty of the lattent They 
are inactive and timid, hardly formidable to 
man, and often turn their backs upon the 
least appearance of resistance.^ The same 
qualities in the cUmate of America, which' 
stinted the growth and enfeebled the spirit of 
its native animals, have proved pernicious to 
such as have OGtigrated into it voluntarily from 
the other conianent, or have been transported 
thither by the £urope^s.§ The bears, the 

" * See NoTi VIII. Page 358. 

f BufFon, Hist. Natur. torn. ix. p. 87. Margfavii, Hist. 
Brat.Braail, p.ffi9» 

X Bttffon, Hist. Natur. ix. 13. 203. Acosta, Hist. lib. it. 
e* 94f. PisoBtft Hist. p. 6. Herrera, dec. 4. Hb. It. c* 1. 
lib. X. c. 13. 

$ Churchill^ T. p. 691. (h^alle, Hdat. of ChiU, Church, 
iii. p. 10. Sommario dc Ovi<ido> c. 14—22. Voyage du 
Des Marchais, iii. 299. 


wolves, the deer of America, are not equal in 
size to those of the Old World.*. Most of the 
domestic animals with which the Europeans 
have stored the provinces wherein they settled, 
have degenerated, with respect either to bulk 
or quality, in a country whose temperature 
and soil seem to be less favourable to the 
strength and perfection of the animal crea-. 

Insects and The sam« causes which checked the growth 
^^ ^ and the vigour of the more noble animals, were 
friendly to the propagation and increase of rep- 
tiles and insects. Though this is not peculiar 
to the New World, and those odious tribes,. 
nourished by heat, moisture, and corruption^ 
infest every part of the torrid zone ; they mul- 
tiply faster, perhaps, in America, and grow to 
a more monstrous bulk. As this country is, 
on the whole, less cultivated, and less peopled,^ 
than the other quarters of the earth, the active 
principle of life wastes its force in productions 
of this inferior form. The air is often darken- 
ed with clouds of insects, and the ground co- 
vered with shocking and noxious reptiles. The 
country around Porto-Bello swarms with to2ula 

♦ BuflToD, Hist. Natur. ix. 103. Kalm'g Travels,,, i. 102. 
Biet. Voy. de France Equinox, p. 339. 
t See Note IX. Page 360. 


in such multitudes, as hide the surface of the 
«aith. At Guyaquil, snakes and vipers are 
hardly less numerous. Carthagena is infested 
with numerous flocks of bats, which annoy not 
only the cattle 'but the inhabitants.* In the 
islands, legions of ants have, at different times, 
consumed every vegetable production,! and 
left the earth entirely bare, as if it had been 
burnt with fire. The damp forests, and rank 
soil of the countries on the banks o£ the Ori- 
noco and Maragnon, teem with almost evtry 
offensive and poisonous creature, which the 
power of a sultry sun can quicken into life.t 

The birds of the New World are not distin- Bii4«. 
guished by qualities so conspicuous and cha- 
racteristical, as those which we have observed 
in its quadrupeds. Birds are more indepen- 
dent of man, and less affected by the changes 
which his industry and labour make upon the 
state of the earth. They have a greater pro- 
tpensity to migrate from one country to ano- 
ther, and can gratify this instinct of their na- 

* Voyage -de UUoa^^ torn. L p. 89. Id. p. 147. Her- 
reray dec. 11. lib. iii. c. 3. 19. 

f See Note X. Page S60. 

t yoye^e de Condamine, p. 167. Gumilla, iii. 120, &c. 
Hist, gener.^des Voyages, xiv. 317. Dumont, Memoires sur 
la Louisiane, u 108. Sommario de Oviedoi c $2 — 62. 



BOOK tare withaut difficulty or danger. Hence the 
number of birds commop to both continents is 


much greater than that of quadrupeds; and 
even such as are peculiar to America nearly 
resemble those with which mankind were ac- 
quainted in similar regions of the ancient hemi* ' 
sphere. The Am^ican birds of the torrid 
zone, like those of the same climate in Ask 
and Africa, are decked in plumage whieli 
dazzles the eye with the beanty of its colours ; 
but nature, satisfied with clothing them in this 
gay dress, has denied most of tfaem^ that melody 
of sound, and variety of notes,, nirhieh catch and 
delight the ear. The birds of the temperate 
climates there, in the same manner as in our 
continent, are less splendid in their ai^pearaaee; 
jbut, in compensation for that defect, they hare 
voices of greater compass, and more mdlodjbus. 
In some districts of America, the unwholesome 
temperature of the air seems to be un&vouralile 
even to this part of the creation. The mimber 
of birds is less than in other countries, and tiie 
traveller is struck with the amazing solitude 
and silence of its forests.* It is remarkable, 
however, that America, where the quadrupeds 

♦ Bourgucr, Voy. au Perou, 17- Chanvalou, Voyage h la 
Martinique, p. 96. Warren's Descript. Sorhiam. Osbom's 
Collect, ii. 924. Lettres Edif. xxiy. p. SSS. Charlcv. Hi«t. 
de la Nouvi France, in. 155. 



«re so dwnrfish and dastardlyp should produce book 
^eCandoTf which is entitled to pre-eminence 
over all the flying tribe» in bulk, in strength, 
md in courage.* 

The soil in a continent so extensive as Arne* ^^ 
rica, must of course be extremely various. In 
each of its proyinces» we find some distinguish* 
ing peculiarities ; the description of which be- 
longs to those who write their particular history. 
In general we may observe, that the moisture 
and cold which predominate so remarkably in 
all pcuts of America, must have great influence 
upon the nature of its soil ; countries lying in 
the same paraUel with those regions which ' 
never feel the extreme rigour of winter in the 
ancient continent, are frozen over in America 
during a great part of the year* Chilled by 
this intense cold, the ground never acquires 
warmth suflScient to ripen the fruits which are 
found in the corresponding parts of the other 
continent. If we wish to rear in America the 
productions which abound in any particular 
district of the ancient world, we must advance 
several degrees nearer to the line than in the 
other hemisphere, as it requires such an increase 

I* Voyage de Ulloa, i.363, Voyagfe de Condamine, 175. 
Buffon, BkL Nat« zri. IS^. Voyage du Deft Marchaity iif. 



of heat to counterbalance the natural frigidity 
of the soil and climate.* At the Cape of Good 
Hope, several of the plants and fruits peculiar 
to the countries within the tropics, are culti- 
vated with success ; whereas, at St Augustine, 
in Florida, and Charlestown, in South Caro- 
lina, though considerably nearer the line, they 
cannot be brought to thrive with equal certain- 
ty.t But, if allowance be made for this diver- 
sity in the degree of heat, the soil of America 
is naturally as rich and fertile as in any part of 
the earth. As the country was thinly inhabit- 
ed, and by a people of little industry, who had 
none of the domestic animals which civilized 
nations rear in such vast numbers, the earth 
was not exhausted by their consumption. The 
vegetable productk>ns to which the fertility of 
the soil gave birth, often remained untouched, 
and being suffered to corrupt on its surface, re- 
turned with increase into its bosom.4: As trees 
and plants derive a great part of their nourish- 
ment from air and water, if they were not des- 
troyed by man and other anim^ds, they would 
render to the earth more, perhaps, than they 
take from it, and feed rather than impoverish 
it. Thus the unoccupied soil of America may 
have gone on enriching for many ages. The 

♦ See Note XI. Page 361. f See Note XII. Page 361. 
t Buffon, Hist. Natur. i. 242. Kalm, i. 151. 



vast number as well as eiwirmous size of tHe ^^^ 
trees in America^ indicate the extraordinary 
vigour of the soil in its native state. When 
the Europeans first began to cultivate the New 
World, they were astonished at the luxuriant 
power of vegetation in its virgin mould ; and 
in several j^ces the ingenuity of the planter is 
still employed in diminishing and wasting its 
superfluous fertility, in order to bring it down 
to a state fit for profitable culture** 

Having thus surveyed ihe state of the New How wm 
World at the time of its discovery, and consi- p«o^? 
dered the peculiar ^satures and qualities which 
dislinguish and characterize it, the next in- 
quiry that merits attention is, How was Ame- 
rica peopled? By what course did mankind 
migrate from the one continent to the other? 
and in what quarter is it most probable that a 
communication was opened between them ? 

We know, with infaUible certainly, that all ^^"^ 
the human rafce spring from the same source, <»^>t 
and that the descendants oi one man, under 
the protection as well as in obedience to the 
command of Heaven, miiltiplied and rej^enish* 

* Charlevoix, Hist, de Nour. Fran. iii. 405. Voyage du 
Des Marchais, ill. 929* Lery i^. de Bfy^ part iii. p. 174* 
See Note XIIL Page 362. 


BOOK ed the eafth. But neither the annals nor the 
traditions of nations reaeh back to those re- 
mote ages, in which they took possesKsion of the 
di£fereiit countries wh^e they are now settled. 
We cannot trace the branches of this first fa« 
mdy, or point out with certainty the time and 
manner Jq which they divided and spread over 
the &ce €^ the globe* Even among the moet 
enlightened people^ the p^iod of authentic 
history is extremely short; and every thing 
prior to that is fabulous op obscure. It is not 
surprising, then, that the unlettered inhabitants 
of America^ who have no solicitude about fu* 
tority, and little curiosity concerning what is 
past, should be altogether unacquainted with 
their own original. The people on the twor 
opposite coasts of America, vho occupy those 
countries in America which approach nearest 
to the ancient continent, are so remarkably 
rud^ that it is altogether vain to se^ch among 
them for such information as might discover 
the place from whence they came, or the an- 
cestors of whom they are descended.* What- 
ever light has been thrown on this subject, 
is derived, not from the natives of America, 
but from the inquisitive genius of their con- 

^ * Venegsa's HisU «f Cslifonia, i. 60. 




HISTOE7 or amebica; «7 

WfiEv die people of Europe unexpeetedfy Boot 
dsBcovered a New World, removed at a vast 
distance fiotn every part of the anctent conti* 
neot which was then known, md filled with in« 
habitants whose appearance and manners 6if' 
fered rraaarkably from the rest of the human 
species, the question concerning their origmal 
became naturally an object of curiosity and at- 
tention« The theories and speculatkms of in- 
genious men with respect to this mhjeeU would 
£11 many volumes ; but ane often so wild and 
ehimerical, that I should oflfer an insult to the 
understanding of my readers, if I attempted 
dither minutely to enumerate or to refute them. 
Some have presumptuously imagined, that the 
peoj^ of America were not the c^kpting of the 
same oommon parent wilii the rest of mankind, 
but that th^ i^rmed a separate race of men, 
distingnishable by pecuMar features in the con- 
stituti(m of their bodies, as wMl as in the diar-* 
acteristio qualities cf tbejr minds. Others con- 
tend, diat they are descended fi'om some rem- 
nant of the antediluvian inhabitants of the 
earth, who survived the deluge which swept 
away the greatest part of the human species in 
the days of Noah ; and preposterously suppose 
rode, uncivilized tribes, scattered over an un« 
cultivated. ecmtinent, to be the most ancient 
race of people on the earth. There is hardly 
any nation, from the north tc^ the south pole, to 
which some antiquary, in the extravagance of 


BOOK conjeekme, has not ascribed the honour of peo- 
pling America. The Jews, the Canaanites, the 
Phoenicians, the Carthagenians, the Greeks, 
the Scythians in ancient times, are supposed to 
have settled in this western world. The Chi- 
nese, the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Welsh, 
the Spaniards, are said to have sent colonies 
thither in later ages, at different periods, and 
(HI various occasicHis* Zealous advocates stand 
forth to support the respective claims of those 
people ; and though they rest upon no better 
£3undation than the casual resemblance of some 
customs, or the supposed affinity between a few 
words in their different languages, much erudi- 
tion and more zeal have been employed, to lit- 
tle purpose, in defence of the opposite systems. 
Those regions of conjecture and controversy 
belong not to the historian. His is a more li- 
mited province, confined to what is established 
by certain or highly probable evidence. Be- 
yond this I shall not venture, in o£fering a few 
observations, which may contribute to throw 
some light upon this curious and much agitated 

Ought not 1, There are authors' who have endeavoured 

founded on by mere conjecture to account for the peopling 

]^^^^ of America. Some have supposed that it was 

originally united to the ancient continent, and 

disjoined from it by the shock of an earthquake^ 

or the irruption of a deluge. Others have ima- 



gined, that some vessel being fcaced from its book 
course by the violence of a westerly wind> might 
be driven by accident towards the Ammcan 
coast, and have given a beginning to popula- 
tion in that desolate continent.* But with 
ri^pect to all those systems, it is vain either 
to reason or inquire, because it is impossible to 
come to any decision. Such events as they 
suppose are barely possible, and may have hap- 
pened. That they ever did happen, we have 
no evidence, either from the clear testimony of 
history, or from the obscure intimations of tra- 

2. NoTmNG can be more frivolous or uncer- ««" 
tain than the attempts to discover the original of 
of the Americans, merely by tracing the re^ 
semblance between their manners and those of 
any ^particular people in the ancient continent. 
If we suppose two tribes, though placed in the 
most remote regions of the globe, to live in a 
climate nearly of the same temperabire, to be 
in the same state of society, and to resemUe 
each other in the degree of their improvement, 
they must feel the same wants, and exert the 
same endeavours^ to supply tbem. The same 
objects will allure, the same passions wUl ani- 

* Parson's Remains of Japhet, p. 240. Ancient Univers. 
Hist. vol. XX. p. 164. P. Fejjoo, Teatro Critico, t<«i. r. 
p. S04^ &c. Acosta, Hist. Moral. Novi Orbis^lib. i. c 16. 19^ 


800E inate tbem, and the dame i^as and lebtimests 
will arise in their minds^ The character and 
occupations of the hunter in America* must be 
little different from those of an Asiatic who 
depends for subsistence on, the chase^ A tribe 
of savages on the banks of the Danube^ must 
nearly resemble one upon the plains washed 
by the Mississippi* Instead then of presuming 
from this similarity, that there is any affinity 
between themi we should only conclude, that 
the disposition and manners of men are formed 
by their situation, and arise from the state of 
society in which they live. The moment that 
begins to vary, the character of a people must 
chai]^. In proportion asl it advances in im- 
provement, their manners refine, their powers 
and talents are called forth. In evevy part of 
the earthy the progress of man hath been ilearly 
the same j and we can trace him ib his career 
from the rude simplicity of savage life, until 
he attains the industry, the arts, and the* ele- 
gance of polished society. There is nothing 
wonderful then in tbeinmilitude between the 
Aaittricam' and the barbarous nation^t of our 
continent. Had Lafitau, Garda, and many 
other authors. irtitaided to this^ they would not 
have perplexed a subject winch they pretend 
to illustrate, by their fruitless endeavours to 
establish an affinity between various races of 
people in the old and new continents, upon 
no other evidence than snch a resemblance in. 



their tnaaoers as necessarily arises from the ^^^ 
similarity of their conditioiu There are, it is 
true, amoi^ every people, some customs which, 
as they do not flow from any natural want or 
desire peculiar to their situation, may be deno- 
minated usages of arbitrary institution. If be- 
tween two nations settled in remote parts of 
the earth, a perfect agreement with respect to 
any of these should be discovered, one might 
be led to suqpect that they were connected by 
some affinity. If, for example, a nation were 
found in America that consecrated the seventh 
day to religious worship and rest, we might 
justly suppose that it had derived its knowr 
ledge of liiis usage, which is of arbitrary insti- 
tution, from the Jews. But, if it were disco- 
vered that another nation celebrated the first 
appeanuice of every new moon with extroor^ 
dinary demonstrations of joy, we should not 
be entitled to conclude that* the observation 
of this montUy festival, was borrowed from the 
Jews, but ought to consider it oeierely as the 
exin*e8sion of that joy which is natural to man 
on the return of the planet wfaicb guides and 
cheers him in the. night, Tlie> msta&ces of 
customs, meoely arbitrary, commoi io the in* 
habitants of bpth hemiapbeces, are^ indeed, so 
few and so equivocal, that no theory eoncem* 
ing the population, of thft; New World oi^m 
to be founded upon tliem. . 


BOOK 3. The theories which have been formed 
with respect to the original of the Americans, 

orofrdi- from obscrvation of their religious rites and 
practices, are no less fanciful, and destitute 
of solid foundation. When the religious opi- 
nions of any people are neither the result of 
rational inquiry, nor derived from the instruc- 
tions of revelation, they must needs be wild 
and extravagant. Barbarous nations are in- 
capable of the former, and have not been bless- 
ed with the advantages arising from the latter. 
Still, however, the human mind, even where 
its operations appear most wild and capricious, 
holds a course so regular, that in every age 
and country the dominion of particular pas- 
sions will be attended with similar effects. 
The savage of Europe or America, when filled 
with superstitious dread of invisible beings, or 
with inquisitive solicitude to penetrate into the 
events of ftiturity, trembles alike with fear, or 
glows with impatience. He has recourse to 
rites and practices of the same kind, in order 
to avert the vengeance which he supposes to 
be impending over him, or to divine the secret 
which is the object of his curiosity. Accord- 
ingly, the ritual of superstition in one conti- 
nent seems, in many particulars, to be a tran- 
script of that established in the other, and 
both authorize similar institutions, sometimes 
so frivolous as to excite pify» sometimes sa 
bloody and barbarous as to create horror. But 


without supposing any consanguinity betweeil book 
such distant nations, or imagining that their 
religious ceremonies were conveyed by tradi- 
tion from the one to the other, we may ascribe 
this uniformity, which, in many instances, 
seern^ very amazing, to the natural operation 
of superstition and enthusiasm upon the weak- 
ness of the human mind. 

4. We may lay it down as a certain prin- ^2^**^ 
ciple in this inquiry, that America was not a^iyn*- 
peopled by any nation of the ancient conti- T^^^^ 
nent, which had made considerable progress 
in civilization. The inhabitants of the New 
World were in a state of society so extremely 
rude, as to be unacquainted with those arts 
which are the first essays of human ingenuity 
in its advance towards improvement. Even 
the. most cultivated nations of America were 
strangers to many of those simple inventions 
which were almost coeval with so.ciety in 
other parts of the world, and were known in 
the earliest periods of civil life with which we 
have any acquaintance. From this it is mani- 
fest, that the tribes which originally migrated 
to America, came off from nations which must 
have been no less barbarous than their poste- 
rity, at the tinje when they were first disco- 
vered by the Europeans. For, although the 
elegant and refined arts may decline or perish, 
amidst the violent shocks of those revolutions 

VOL. ir. c 




and disasters to which nations are exposed^ tbe 
necessary arts of life, when once they hare 
been introduced among any people, are never 
lost. None aSihe vicissitudes m human affiiini 
affect these, aiid they continue to be practised 
as long as the race of men exists* If ev^ die 
use of iron had been known to the parages of 
America, or to their. progenit<»fs j if ever they 
had employed a plough, a loom, or a forge, 
the utility of these inventions would have pre- 
served them, and it is impossible that they 
should have been abandoned or forgotten. 
We may conclude, then, that the Americans 
sprung from some pec^le, who were themselves 
in ^uch an early and unimproved stage of so- 
ciety, as to be unacquainted with all those 
necessary arts which continued to be unknown 
among their posterity when first viidted by the 

nor from 
the south- 
ern regions 
of our eon- 

5. It appears no less evident, that America 
was not peopled by any colony from the more 
southern nations of the ancient oMtinetit. 
None of the rude tribes settled in that part 
of our hemisphere can be supposed to have 
visited a country so remote. They possessed 
neither enterprise, nor ingenuity, nor power^ 
that conld prempt them to undertake, or en- 
able them to perform, such a distant voyage* 
That the more civilised ,nations in Asia or 
Africa are not the progenitors of the Ameri- 


tans tt mztaSesti not only from the obwnrationi book 
which I have already made concerning their 
ignorance of the most simple and necessary 
$s% bttt from . an additionid dnnmstance. 
Whenerer any peofde have experienced the 
idrantages which men enjoy by tbeii dominioa 
ovet the inferior aninuls^ they can neither 
subsist without the nourishment which these 
afibrd, nonearry on amy oossidexvUe ofenAioa 
m&^penAeBt of thdr miiiistry mod labour* Ac* 
l^rdtnglyv the first; tare of the SpaniBrds, when 
they d^tdted ih ibmerica, was to stock it with 
all tiie doihestie airimala of Eurbpe ; and if, 
prior to thein^ the Tyrians, the Carthaginians^ 
the Chinese^ or any othn pdished people, had 
taken possession cdT that contkienty we should 
hfit^ found there the animals peculiar to those 
l^giom^of the globe wbere they were^origmdly 
suited. In all Amerida, howeTer, there is not 
one aftifnat^ tame or wild, which properly be* 
IcMigs to the warm> or evear the more tempe* 
rate totudtries of the aneidnt cooftinent. The 
camel, the droMsedafy, the hors^ the cow, 
v^ett M tmuii niiknown in America as the 
elepbant or the )»»« From whidi it is ob^ 
vlou^ that the people who first settled in the 
western world did Hot isdue from the coontries 
where those animdis abound, and where men, 
from having been long accustomed to their 
aid, would naturally consider it^ not only as 
beneficial, but as indispensably necessary to the 

u I 


improvement, and even the preservation, of 
civil society. 

The two Q^ From considering the animals with wbicJb 

continents ^ i v 

seem to America is stored, we may conchide that the 
ne^stto nearest point of contact between the old a^d 
to^? Ae »ew continents is tbwards the northern extre- 
north. luity of both, and= that there the.ccmimunicar 
tion was opened, and the intercourse carried 
on between them. All the extensiViC countries 
in America which lie within the tropics, or 
approach near to them, are filled mth indige- 
nous animals of various kinds, entirely difkr 
rent from those in the corresponding regio^is 
of the anci^it continent. But the northern 
provinces of the New World abound with 
many of the wild animals which are common 
in such parts of our hemisphere as lie in » 
similar situation. The b^u*, the wolf, the fojc, 
the hare, the deer, the roebuck, the elk, and 
several other species, frequent the forests of 
North America no less than those in. the north 
of Europe and Asia.* It seems to be evident, 
then, that the two continents approach each 
other in this quarter, and are either united, or 
so nearly adjacent, that these animals might 
pass from the one to the other. 

* Buffon, Hist* Nat. ix, p. 97, &c. 


7. The actual vicinity of the two continents 
is so clearly established by nuxlern discoveries, 
that the chief difficulty with respect to the 
peopling of America is removed. While those 
immense regions which stretch eastward from 
the river Oby to the sea of Kamchatka were 
unknown or imperfectly explored, the north-- 
east extremities of our hemisphere were sup- 
posed to be so far distant from any part of the 
New World, that it was not easy to amt&vt 
how any communication should have been 
carried on between them. But the Russians, 
having subjected the western part of Siberia to 
their empire, gradually extended their know* 
ledge of that vast country, by advancing to* 
wards the east into unknown'provinces. These 
were discovered by hunters in their excursions 
after game, or by soldiers employed in levying 
the taxes ; and the court of Moscow estimated 
the importance of those countries, only by the 
small addition which they made to its reveoiae. 
At length Peter the Great ascended the Rus- 
sian throne. His enlightened, comprehensive 
mind, intent upon every circumstance that 
could aggrandize his empire, or render his 
reign illustrious, discerned consequences of 
those ^scoveries which had escaped the obser- 
vation of his ignorant predecessors. He per- 
ceived, that in proportion as the regions of Asia 
extended towards the east, they must approach 
nearer to America; that the communication 

98 H^nxmr or AMERICA. 

BOOK between the two contiineiitB, which had long 
been searched for in vam» would probably be 
found in this quarter ; and that by opening it» 
some part of the wealth and csommerce of the 
western worhl might be made to flow into hie 
dominions by a new channel. Such an object 
miited a genius that deUghted in grand schemes. 
I Peter drew up instructions with his own hand 
for proseoittng this design, and gave orders for 
carrying it into execution.* 

.His successors adopted his ideas, and pur- 
,sued his plan. The officers whom the Ruesian 
court employed in this service, had to struggle 
with so many difficulties, that their progress 
was exta^mely sbw. Encouraged by some 
faint traditions among the people of Siberia, 
concerning a successfiil vbyage in the year one 
tiiousand six huncfred and foirty<*eigbt, round 
the north<*east promontory of Asia, they at- 
tempted to follow the same course. Vessels 
were fitted out, with this view, at diffisrent 
times, from the rivers I^eim and Koij^ma ; but 
in a frozen ocean, which natm'e seemis pot to 
&av6 destined for navigation, they were expose 
ed to many disasters, without being able to ac«- 
complish their purpose. No vessel fitted out 

* Muller, Voyages et Decouvertes par les Kusses, toin.i. 
p. 4| 8k 141. 


msTOBj or JMmicA. , 39 

hy the Riwsian cwrt eynT doHbled this forBai- booic 
daU«> Cqpf : * we are i9d«b|:ed &r what i^ Wryw^ 
koown of tboae extr Qwei regions of Ash, to the 
(Hflcoveriae made m e^wsiaos by land. In i^l 
tho9e pro¥uio^ ii» opinion prevaila» ths^ th^rf 
are ewntiies of gi^mt ^xtmt apd i9erti}ity» 
which He ait 00 eo»uder«liile distaoiee from the^r 
^wn eoa^^ These the Russiaas tms^Moed to 
be p»rt of America ; and 9evef al cirowistances 
eoocurred, not only in oonfirmiiig the«i in this 
bel^£ but in persuading them that some por- 
tion of that continent c wld not be very remote. 
Tree^of vaiimis kinds unknown in those naked 
r^^m of Asia, ei?e driven npcMn the coaat by 
an easterly, wind. By the same wind, floating 
ioe is brought thither in a few days ) flights of 
};m^^ fMrrive annually from the same qnartfs* ; 
and a imdition abtws anumg the inhabitants, 
ef an intereouiise formerly carded on with 3giw 
cowutries aitnated to ti»e east^ 

ArrcE weighing ail these paitipnlars,. and 
comparing (^9 position of the countries in Asia 
wfaidii had bew discovered, with such parts in 
the north-w^t of America 9» were already 
known, the Busman court £pif med a plan, which 
would have hardly occurred to a nation leas 
accustomed to engage ia arduous undertakings. 

* See Note XiV. Page $02. 


BOOK and to contend with great difficulties. Ordew 
were issued to build two vessels at the small 
village of Ochotz, situated on the sea of Kam« 
chatka» to sail on a voyage of discovery. 
Though that dreary uncidtivated region fur- 
nished nothing that could be of use in con- 
structing them, but some larch trees ; though 
not only the iron, the cordage, the sails, and 
all the numerous articles requisite for their 
equipment, but the provisions for victualling 
them, were to be carried through the immense 
deserts of Siberia, down rivers of difficult navi- 
gation, and along roads almost impassable,, the 
mandate of the sovereign, and the perseverance 
of the people, at last surmounted every obstacle. 
1741. Two vessels were finished, and, under the com- 
mand of the Captains Behring and Tschirikow, 
sailed from Kamchatka, in quest of the New 
World, in a quarter where it had never been 
approached. They shaped theiir course towards 
the east ; and though a storm soon separated 
the vessels, which never rejoined, and many 
disasters befel them, the expectations from the 
voyage were not altogether frustrated. Each 
of the commanders discovered land, which to 
them appeared to be part of the American con- 
tinent ; and, according to their observaticms, it 
seems to be situated within a few degrees of 
the north-west coast of California. Each set 
some of his people ashore : but in one place the 
inhabitants fled as the Russians approached ; 



in another, they carried off those who landed^ book 
and destroyed their boats. The violence of the 
weather, and the distress of their crews, oblig- 
ed both captains to quit this inhospitable coast* 
In their return they touched at several islands, 
wMch stretch in a chain from east to west be* 
tween the country which they had discovered 
and the coast of Asia. They had some inter- 
course with the natives, who seemed to them 
to resemble the North Americans. They pre- 
sented to the Russians the calumet, or pipe of 
peace, which is a symbol of friendship univer- 
sal among the peojde of North America, and 
an usage of arbitrary institution, peculiar to 

Thouoh the islands of this New Archipelago 
have been frequented since that time by the 
Russian hunters, the court of St Petersburgh, 
during a period of more than forty years, seems 
to have relinqui^ed every thought of prose- 
cuting discoveries in that quarter. But in the 
year one thousand seven hundred and sixty- 
eight, it was unexpectedly resumed. The 
soverei^ who had been lately seated on the 
throne of Peter the Great, possessed the ge^ 
nius and talents of her illustrious predecessor. 
During the operations of the most arduous and 
extensive war in which the Russian empire 
was ever engaged, she formed schemes and 
executed undertakings, to which more limited 


BOOK abifittes would have been incapable of attend^ 
^j^f^.^^ ing but amidst the leisure of pacific times# A 
new voyage of discovery from the eastern 
extremity of Asia was planned, and Captain 
Krenitzin and Lieutenant Leva9heff were ap« 
pointed to comnjiand the two vessels fitted out 
for that purpose. In their voyage outward 
they held nearly the i$ame coui^se with the 
former navigators, they touched at the same 
islands, observed their situation and produc*- 
tions more carefully, and discovered several 
new islsmds, with which Behring and Tschiri*^ 
kow had not fallen ia. Though they did not 
proceed so far to the east aa to revisk the 
country which Behring and Tschirikow supr 
posed to be part of the American continent, 
yet, by returning in a course comidembly to 
the north of theirs, they corrected 9omt capi^ 
tal mistakes into whu^h their predei^ssors had 
fallen, and have contributed to facilitate the 
progress of future navigators in those seas** 

Thus the possibility of a communication be- 
tween the cpntinents in this quarter re^ts no 
longer upon mere conjecture, but is established 
by undoubted evideiiM.t , Some trU)e» or some 
. families of wandering Twtars, fjmn the xestletf 

* See NoTK X¥. I^ge S63. 

t M^Ol^'s V^gragc^, ton* i, 2^ ic 9ff7. 276. 

mSTMlY OF AUniCiu 48 

i^irit peculmr to their nee, might mignite to book 
the newest islands, and, rude as their know* 
ledge of navigatiou wa#, might, by passing 
from one to the other, reach at length the 
coast of America^ and give a beginning to 
population in that continent The distance 
between the Marian or X4adrone Ldands and 
the nearest land in Asia, is greater than that 
between the part of America which the Rus* 
sdans discovered, and the coast of Kmnehatlca ; 
and yet the inhabitants of those islands are 
maniiestlj of Asiatic extract If, notwithstand- 
ing their remote situation, we admit that the 
Marian Islands were peopled from our conti-* 
nent, distance alone is no reason why we 
should hesitate about admitting that the Ame« 
ricans may derive their original from the same 
source* It is probaUe thaut future navigators 
in those seas, by steering farther to the north, 
may find that the continent of America ap- 
proaches still nearar to Asia. According to 
the information of the barbarous people who 
inhabit the country about the north-east pro- 
montory of Asia, there lies, off the coast, a 
small island, to which they sail in less than a 
day. From that they cmi descry a large con^ 
tinent, whteh, aoi^ording to their description, 
is covered with forests, and possessed by peo- 
ifle whose language they do not understand.* 

* MuUsrs YoyngBM et Decouv. i. 166. 




BOOK By them they are supplied with the skins of 
martens, an animal unknown in the northern 
parts of Siberia, and which is never found but 
in countries abounding with trees. If we 
could rely on this account, we might conclude 
that the American continent is separated from 
oUrs only by a narrow strait, and all the diffi- 
culties with respect to the communication be- 
tween them would vanish. What could be 
offered only as a conjecture when this History 
was first publishe!d, is now known to be certain. 
The near approach of the two continents to 
each other has been discovered and traced in a 
voyage undertaken upon principles so pure and 
so liberal, and conducted with so much profes- 
sional skill, as reflect lustre upon the reign of 
the sovereign by whom it was planned, and do 
honour to the officers entrusted with the exe- 
cution of it.* 

Another It is Hkewisc evident from recent discove- 

^^"^" ries, that an intercourse between our continent 

^tJT^ and America might be carried on with no less 

facility from the north-west extremities of 

A. D. 83a Europe. As early as the ninth century, the 

Norwegians discovered Greenland, and planted 

colonies there. The communication with that 

country, after a long interruption, was renewed 

in the last century. Some Lutheran and Mora- 

• See Note XVL Page S65. 



vian missioHaries, prompted by zeal for propa- boos. 
, gating the Christian faith, have ventured to \_ Vr 
settle in this frozen and uncultivated r^ion.^ 
To them we are indebted for much curious in- 
formation with respect to its nature and inha^ 
bitants. We learn, that the north-west coast 
of Greenland is separated from America by a 
very narrow strait ; that, at the bottom of the 
bay into which this strait conducts, it is highly 
probable that they are united ;t that the inha- 
bitants of the two countries have some inter- 
course with one another ; that the Esquimaux 
of America perfectly resemble the Green- 
landers in their aspect, dress, and mode of liv- 
ing ; that some sailors who had acquired the 
knowledge of a few words in the Greenlandish 
language, reported that these were understood 
by the Esquimaux ; that, at length, a Moravian a.d.i764. 
missionary, well acquainted with the language 
of Greenland, having visited the country of 
the Esquimaux, found, to his astonishment, 
that they spoke the same language with the 
Greenlanders j that they were in every respect 
the same people, and he was accordingly re- 
ceived and entertained by them as a friend 
and a brother, t 

* Crantz's Hist, of GreenK i. 242. 244. Prevot. Hist. 
Gen. des Voyages, torn, xv; 152. not. (96). 
t Eggede, p.2,S. 
X Craiitz'0 Hist, of GreenL p. 261 > 262. 

Ml RtfirrOBY 6T AM£ftlCA. 

^^^ By these decisive fttcts, not only the eonsati' 
gtiinitj of «he Esquimaux ^nd Oreenlanders is 
e^khliishidj but th^ possibilitj of peopling 
Anteiica from the north of Europe is demon- 
strated. If the Norwegiiiiis, in a harb&rous 
age, when science had not begun to dawn in 
the north of Europe^ poss^sed such naval skill 
as to open a communication with Greenland, 
their ancestors, as much addicted to roving by 
sea as the Tartars are to wandering by land, 
might, at some more remote period, accomplish 
the same voyage, and settle a colony there, 
whose descendants might, in progress of time, 
migrate into America. But if, instead of ven- 
turing to sail directly from their own coast to 
Greenland, we snppose that the Norwegians 
held a more cautious course, and advanceiA 
from Shetland to the Feroe Islands, and ftcnA 
them to Iceland,* in all which they had planted 
colonies ; their progress may have be^n so gra- 
dual, that this navigation cannot be consider- 
ed as either longer or more hazardous, than 
those voyages which that hardy and enterptig^ 
ing race of men is known to have performed in 
every age. 

^P««w>iy 8. Though it be possible that America may 
from the have received its first inhabitants from our con- 
tinent, either by the north-west of Europe or 
the north-east of Asia, there seems to be good 
reason for supposing that the progenitors ^f all 



the American nations, from Cape Horn to the bo<mc 
southern confines of Labrador, migrated from 
the latter rather than the former. The Esqui* 
maux are the only people in America, who, in 
their aspect or character, bear any resemblance 
to the northern Europeans. They are mani* 
fesdy a race of men distinct from all the na- 
tions of the American continent, in language, 
in disposition, and in habits of life. Their ovu 
ginal, then, may watrantably be traced up to 
that source which I have pointed oat. But 
amcHig all the other inhabitants of America, 
there is such a striking similitude in the form 
of their bodies and the qualities of their minds, 
that, notwithstanding the diversities occasioned 
by the influence of climate, or unequal progress 
m improvement, we must pronounce them to 
be descended from one source. There may be 
a variety in the shades, but we can everywhere 
trace the same original colour. Each tribe has 
something peculiar which distinguishes it, but 
if) all of them we discern certain features com- 
mon to the whole race. It is remarkable, that 
in every peculiarity, whether in their persons 
or dispositions, which characterize the Ameri* 
cans, they have some resemblance to the rude 
tribes scattered over the north-east of Asia, 
but almost none to the nations settled in the 
northern extremities of Europe. We may, 
therefore, refer them to the former origin, and 
conclude that their Asiatic progenitors, having 




BOOK settled in those parts of America where the 
Russians have discovered the proximity of the 
two continents, spread gradually over its vari- 
ous regions. This account of the progress of 
population in America coincides with the tradi- 
tions of the Mexicans concerning their own 
origin, which, imperfect as they are, were pre- 
served with more accuracy, and merit greater 
credit, than those of any people in the New 
World. According to them, their ancestors 
came from a remote country, situated to the 
north-west of Mexico. The Mexicans point 
out their various stations as they advanced 
from this into the interior provinces ; and it is 
precisely the same route which they must have 
held, if they had been emigrants from Asia. 
The Mexicans, in describing the appearance of 
their progenitors, dieir manners and habits of 
life at that period, exactly delineate those of 
the rude Tartars from whom I suppose them 
to have sprung.* 

Thus have I finished a Disquisition which 
has been deemed of so much importance, that 
it would have been improper to omit it in 
writing the history of America. I have ven- 

♦ Acosta, Hist. Nat. & Mor. lib. vii. c. 2, &c. Garcia, 
Origen de los Indios, lib. v. c. S. Torquemada, Monar. Ind. 
lib. i. c. 2, &c. Boturini Benaduci, Idea de una Hist, de la 
Amer. Septentr. § xvii. p. 127. 




tured to inquire, but without presuming to book 
decide. Satisfied with offering conjectures, I 
pretend not to establish any system. When 
an investigation is, from its nature, so intri- 
cate and obscure, that it is impossible to ar- 
rive at conclusions which are certain, there 
may be some merit in pointing out such as are 

The condition and character of the American coodiiioo 
nations at the time when they became known teroftiM 
to the Europeans, deserve more attentive con- 
sideration than the inquiry concerning their 
original. The latter is merely an object of 
curiosity ; the former is one of the most impor- 
tant as well as instructive researches which can 
occupy the philosopher or historian. In order 
to complete the history of the human mind, 
and attain to a perfect knowledge of its nature 
and operations, we must contemplate man in 
all those various situations wherein he has been 
placed. We must follow him in his progress 
through the different stages of society, as he 
gradually advances from the infant state of 
civil life towards its maturity and decline. We 
must observe, at each period, how the faculties 
of his understanding unfold ; we must attend to 
the efforts of his active powers, watch the vari- 

* Memoires sur la Louisiane, par Dumont, tom.i. p. 119. 


Oils movements of desire and affection, as they 
rise in his breast, and mark whither they tend, 
and with what ardour they are exerted. The 
philosophers and historians of ancient Greece 
and Rome, our guides in this as well as every 
other disquisition, had only a limited view of 
this subject, as they had hardly any opportu- 
nity of surveying man in his rudest and most 
early state. In all those regions of the earth 
with which they were well acquainted, civil so- 
ciety had made considerable advances, and na- 
tions had finished a good part of their career 
before they began to observe them* The Scy- 
thians and Germans, the rudest people of whom 
any ancient author has transmitted to us an au- 
thentic account, possessed flocks and herds, had 
acquired property of various kinds, and, when 
compared with mankind in their primitive state, 
may be reckoned to have attained to a grieat 
degree of civilization. 

^rorSthan ^^"^ *^® discovcry of the New World en- 
in any put laTgcd the Sphere of contemplation, and pre- 
sented nations to our view, m stages of their 
progress much less advanced than those where- 
in they have been observed in our continent 
In America, man appears under the rudest 
form in which we can conceive him to subsist. 
We behold communities just beginning to 
unite, and may exa^line the sentiments and 
actions cf human beings in the infancy of social 



life, while they feel but imperfectly the force book 
of its ties, and have scarcely relinquished their 
native liberty. That state of primeval simpli- 
city, which was known in our continent only 
by the fanciful description of poets, reaUy «x« 
isted in the other. The greater part of its in- 
habitants were strangers to industry and labour, 
ignorant of arts, imperfectly acquainted with 
the nature of property, and enjoying, almost 
without restriction or controul, the blessings 
which flowed spontaneously from the bounty 
of nature. There were only two nations in this 
vast continent which had emerged from this 
rude state, and had made any considerable pro- 
gress in acquiring the ideas, and adopting the 
institutions, which belong to polished societies* 
Their government and manners will fall natu- 
rally under our review in relating the discovery 
and conquest of the Mexican and Peruvian 
empires ; and we shall have there an opportu- 
nity of contemplating the Americans in the 
state of highest improvement to which they 
ever attained. 

At present, our attention and researches nut inqui. 
shall be turned to the small independent tribes ^ the ' 
which occupied every other part of America. 
Among these, though with some diversity in 
their character, their manners, and institutions, 
the state of society was nearly similar, and so ex- 
tremely rude, that the denomination of savage 

est tribes- 

^ I 



may be applied to them all. In a general his- 
tory of America, it would be highly improper 
to describe the condition of each petty com- 
munity, or to investigate every minute circum- 
stance Mrhich contributes to form the character 
of its members. Such an inquiry would lead 
to details of immeasurable and tiresome extent. 
The qualities belonging to the people of all the 
different tribes have such a near resemblance, 
that they may be painted with the same fea- 
tures. Where any circumstances seem to con- 
stitute a diversity in their character and man- 
ners worthy of attention, it will be sufficient to 
point these out as they occur, and to inquire 
into the cause of such peculiarities^ 

of obtain- 
ing infor- 

It is extremely difficult to procure satisfying 
and authentic information concerning nations 
while they remain uncivilized. To discover 
their true character under this rude form, and 
to select the features by which they are distin- 
guished, requires an observer possessed of no 
less impartiality than discernment. For, in' 
every stage of society, the faculties, the senti- 
Bients, and desires of men, are so accommodate 
ed to their own state, that they become stan- 
dards of excellence to themselves, they affix the 
idea of perfection and happiness to those at- 
tainments which resemble their own, and where- 
ever the objects and enjoyments to which they 
have been accustomed are wanting,, confidently 


pronounce a people to be barbarous and miser* 
able. Hence the mutual contempt with which 
the members of communities, unequal in their 
degrees of improvement, r^ard each other. 
Polished nations, conscious of the advantages 
which they derive from their knowledge and 
arts, are apt to view rude nations with peculiar 
scorn, and, in the pride of superiority, will 
hardly allow either their occupations, their feel- 
higs, or their pleasures, to be worthy of men. 
It has seldom been the lot of communities, in 
their early and unpolished state, to fall under 
the observation of persons endowed with force 
of mind superior to vulgar prejudices, and ca- 
pable of contemplating man, under whatever 
aspect he appears, with a candid and discern* 
ing eye. 

The Spaniards, who first visited America, ^l^*?*^" 
and who had opportunity of beholding its va* the fintob^ 
rious tribes while entire and unsubdued, and 
before any change had been made in their ideas 
or manners by intercourse with a race of men 
much advanced beyond them in improvement, 
were far from possessing the qualities requisite 
for observing the striking spectacle presented 
to their view. Neither the age in which they 
lived, nor the nation to which they belonged, 
had made such progress in true science, as in- 
spires enlarged and liberal sentiments. The 
conquerors of the New World were mostly illi- 



terate adventurers, destitute of all the ideai» 
which should have directed them in contem- 
plating objects so extremely different from 
those with which they were acquainted. Sur- 
rounded continually with danger, or struggling 
with hardships, they had little leisure, and less 
capacity, for any speculative inquiry. Eager 
to take possession of a country of such extent 
and opulence, and happy in finding it occupied 
by inhabitants so incapable to defend it, they 
hastily pronounced them to be a wretched or- 
der of men, formed merely for servitude ; and 
were more employed in computing the profits 
of their labour, than in inquiring into the ope- 
rations of their minds, or the reasons of their 
customs and institutions. The persons who 
penetrated at subsequent periods into the inte- 
rior provinces, to which the knowledge and de- 
vastations of the first conquerors did not reach, 
were generally of a similar character ; brave 
and enterprising in an high degree, but so un- 
informed as to be little qualified either for ob- 
serving or describing what they beheld. 

and iheir 
prejudices ; 

Not only the incapacity, but the prejudices 
of the Spaniards, render their accounts of the 
people of America extremely defective. Soon 
after they planted colonies in their new con- 
quests, a difference in opinion arose with re- 
spect to the treatment of the natives. One 
party, solicitous to render their servitude per- 



petual, represented them as a brutish, obstinate ^^^^ 
race, incapable either of acquiring religious 
knowledge, or of being trained to the functions 
of social life. The other, full of pious concern 
for their conversion, contended, that, though 
rude and ignorant, they were gentle, affection- 
ate, docile, and by proper instructions and re* 
gulations might be formed gradually into good 
Christians and useful citizens. This contro- 
versy, as I have already related, was carried on 
with all the warmth which is natural, when at- 
tention to interest on the one hand, and reli- 
gious zeal on the other, animate the disputants. 
Most of the laity espoused the former opinion; 
all the eqclesiastics were advocates for the lat- 
ter ; and we shall uniformly find, that, accord- 
ingly as an author belonged to either of these 
parties, he is apt to magnify the virtues or ag- 
gravate the defects of the Americans far be- 
yond the truth. Those repugnant accounts 
increase the difficulty of attaining a perfect 
knowledge of their character, and render it 
necessary to peruse all the descriptions of them 
by Spanish writers with distrust, and to receive 
their information with some grains of allow- 

Almost two centuries elapsed afler the dis- ^ ^'^^ 
covery of America, before the manners of its of phikao- 
inhabitants attracted, in any considerable de- 
gree, the attention of philosophers. At length 



BOOK they discovered, that the contemplatioti of the 
condition and character of the Americans, in 
their original state, tended to complete our 
knowledge of the human species ; might enable 
us to fill up a considerable chasm in the history 
of its progress ; and lead to speculations no 
less curious than important. They entered 
upon this new field of study with great ardour ; 
but, instead of throwing light upon the sub- 
ject, they have contributed, in some degree, to 
involve it in additional obscurity. Too impa- 
tient to inquire, they hastened to decide ; and 
began to erect systems, when they should have 
been searching for facts on which to establish 
their foundations. Struck with the appearance 
of degeneracy in the human species throughout 
the New World, and astonished at beholding a 
vast continent occupied by a naked, feeble, 
and ignorant race of men, some authors, of 
great name, have maintained that this part of 
the globe had but lately emerged from the sea, 
and become fit for the residence of man ; that 
every thing in it bore marks of a recent origi- 
nal ; and that its inhabitants, lately called into 
existence, and still at the beginning of their 
career, were unworthy to be compared with 
the people of a more ancient and improved 
continent.* Others have imagined, that, un- 

* M. de Buffon, Hist. Nat. iii. 484, &c. ix. 103. 114. 


der the influence of an unkindly climate, whidi ^^^ 
checks and enervates the principle of life, man ^^yw 
never attained in America the perfection which 
belongs to his nature, but remained an animal 
of an inferior order, defective in the vigour of 
his bodily frame, and destitute of sensibility, 
as well as of force, in the operations of his 
mind.* In opposition to both these, other 
philosophers have supposed that man arrives 
at his highest dignity and excellence long 
before he reaches a state of refinement ; and, 
in the rude simplicity of savage life^ displays 
an elevation of sentiment, an independence of 
mind, and a warmth of attachment, for which 
it is vain to search among the members of 
polished societies.t They seem to consider 
that as the most perfect state of man, which is 
the least civilized. They describe the manners 
of the rude Americans with such rapture, as if 
they proposed them for models to the rest of 
the species. These contradictory theories have 
been proposed with equal confidence, and un- 
common powers of genius and eloquence have 
been exerted, in order to clothe them with an 
appearance of truth. 

As all those circumstances concur in ren- 
dering an inquiry into the state of the rude 

* M. de P. Recherches Philos. su^ les Amerio. pasmm. 
f M. Rou8«9au. 


BOOK nations in America intricate and obscure, it is 

IV. . . 

necessary to carry it on with caution. Wlien 
guided in our researches by the intelligent ob- 
servations of the few philosophers who have 
visited this part of the globe, we may venture 
to decide. When obliged to have recourse to 
the superficial remarks of vulgar travellers, of 
sailors, traders, buccaneers, and missionaries, 
we must often pause, and, comparing detached 
facts, endeavour to discover what they wanted 
sagacity to observe. Without indulging con- 
jecture, or betraying a propensity to either sys- 
tem, we must study with equal care to avoid 
the extremes of extravagant admiration, or of 
supercilious contempt for those manners which 
we describe. 

Me^ob- In order to conduct this inquiry with greater 
the inquiry, accuraoy, it should be rendered as simple as 
possible. Man existed as an individual before 
he became a member of a community ; and 
the qualities which belong to him under his 
former capacity should be known, before we 
proceed to examine those which arise from the 
latter relation. This is peculiarly necessary in 
investigating the manners of rude nations. 
Their political union is so incomplete, their 
civil institutions and regulations so few, so 
simple, and of such slender authority, that men 
in this state ought to be viewed rather as inde- 
pendent agents, than as members of a regular 



society. Hie character of a savage results 
almost entirely from his sentiments or feelings 
as an individual, and is but little influenced by 
his imperfect subjection to government and 
order. I shall conduct my researches con- 
cerning the manners of the Americans in this 
natural order, proceeding gradually from what 
is simple to what is more complicated. 

I SHALL consider, I. The bodily constitution 
of the Americans in those regions now under 
review. IL Tbp qualities of their minds. 
III. Their domestic state. IV. Their politi- 
cal state and institutions. V. Their system of 
War, and public security. VI. The arts with 
which they were acquainted. VII. Their reli- 
gious ideas and institutions. VIII. Such sin- 
gular detached customs as are not reducible to 
any of the former heads. IX. I shall conclude 
with a general review and estimate of their 
virtues and defects. 

I. The bodily constitution of the Ameri- V^ ~»- 


cans.— *The human body is less afiected by oftheir 
climate than that of any other animal. Some 
animals are confined to a particular region of 
the globe, and cannot exist beyond it ; others, 
though they may be brought to bear the inju- 
ries of a climate foreign to them, cease to mul- 
tiply when carried out of that district which 
nature destined to be their mansion. Even 


BOOK such as seem capable of being naturalized in 
various climates, feel the effect of every, re- 
move from their proper station, and gradually 
dwindle and degenerate from the vigour and 
perfection peculiar to thieir species. Man is 
the only living creature whose frame is at once 
so hardy and so flexible, that he can spread 
over the whole earth, become the inhabitant 
of every region, and thrive and multiply under 
every climate. Subject, however, to the ge- 
neral law of nature, the human body is not 
entirely exempt from the operation of climate ; 
and when exposed to the extremes either of 
heat or cold, its size or vigour diminishes. 

for&r The first appearance of the inhabitants of 
the New World filled the discoverers with such 
astonishment, that they were apt to imagine 
them a race of men different from those of the 
other hemisphere. Their complexion is of a 
reddish brown, nearly resembling the colour of 
copper.* The hair of their heads is always 
black, long, coarse, and uncurled. They have 
no beard, and every part of their body is 
perfectly smooth. Their persons are of a full 
size, extremely straight, and well propor- 
tioned, t Their features are regular, though 

• Oviedo, Sommario, p, 46. D, Life of Columbus, c. 24. 
t See Note XVII. Page 372. 


often distorted by absurd endeavours to im- 
prove the beauty of their natural form, or to 
(render their aspect more dreadful to their 
enemies. In the islands, where four-footed Mowfc«- 
animals were both few and small, and the 
earth yielded her productions almost sponta- 
neously, the constitution of the natives, nei* 
ther braced by the active exercises of the 
chase, nor invigorated, by the labour of culti- 
vation, was extremely feeble and languid. On 
the continent, where the forests abound with 
game of various kinds, and the chief occupa- 
tion of many tribes was to pursue it, the hu- 
man frame acquired greater firmness. Still, 
however^ the Americans were more remark- 
able for agility than strength. They resem- 
bled beasts of prey, rather than animals formed 
for labour.* They were not only averse to 
toil, but incapable of it; and when roused 
by force from their native indolence, and com- 
palled to work, they sunk under tasks which 
the people of the other continent would have 
performed with ease.t This feebleness'of con- 
stitution was universal among the inhabitants 
of those regions in America which we are sur- 

* See Note XVIII. Page 573. 

t Oviedo, Som. p. 51. C. Voy. de Correal, ii. ISS. 
Wafer's Description, p. 131. 


BOOK veying, and may be considered as character- 
istic of the species there.* 

The beardless countenance and smooth skin 
of the American seems to. indicate a defect of 
vigour, occasioned by some vice in his frame. 
He is destitute of one sign of manhood and of 
strength. This peculiarity, by which the in- 
habitants of the New World are distinguished 
from the people of all other nations, cannot be 
attributed, as some travellers have supposed, 
to their mode of subsistence.t For though 
the food of many Americans be extremely in- 
sipid, as they are altogether unacquainted 
with the use of salt, rude tribes in other parts 
of the earth have subsisted on aliments equally 
simple, without this mark of degradation, or 
any apparent symptom of a diminution in their 

L«8 appe- ^g jjj^ external form of the Americans leads 


us to suspect that there is some natural debi- 
lity in their frame, the smallness of their appe- 
tite for food has been mentioned by many 
authors as a confirmation of this suspicion. 

* B. Las Casas, Brev. Relac. p. 4/. Torquem. Monar. 
i. 580. Oviedo, Sommario, p. 41. Histor. lib. ni. c 6. 
Herrera, dec. 1. lib. ix. c. 5. Siraon, p. 41. 

t Charlev. Hist, de Nouv. Fr. iii. 310. 



The quantity of food which men consume book 
varies according to the temperature of the 
climate in which they Uve, the degree of acti- 
vity which they exert, and the natural vigour 
of their constitutions* Under the enervating 
beat of, the torrid zone, and when men pass 
their days in indolence and ease, they require 
less nourishment than the active inhabitants of 
temperate or cold countries. But neither the 
warmth of their climate, nor their extreme 
laziness, will account for the uncommon de- 
fect of appetite among the Americans. The 
Spaniards were astonished with observing this, 
not only in the islands, but in several parts of 
the continent. The constitutional temperance 
of the natives far exceeded, in their opinion, 
the abstinence of the most mortified hermits;* 
while, on tlie other hand, the appetite of the 
Spaniards appeared to the Americans insatiably 
voracious ; and they afiirmed, that one Spa- 
niard devoured more food in a day than was 
sufficient for ten Americans.t 

A PROOF of some feebleness in their frame, ^^»^^ 

msiics of 

still more striking, is the insensibility of the dmn. 
Americans to the charms of beauty, and the 

* Ramusio, iii. 304<. F. 306. A. Simon Conquista, &c. 
p. 39. Hakluyt, iii. 468. 508. 
f Herrera, dec. 1. lib. ii. c. 16. 



BOOK emineace have laid hold on this as sufficient to 
>^ jr 1 . account for what is peculiar in the coastitu- 
tiou of its inhjabitants. They rest on physical 
causes alone» and consider the feeble frame 
and languid desire of the Americans^ as con- 
sequences of the temperament of that portion 
of the globe which they occupy. But the in- 
fluences of political and moral causes ought 
not to have been overlooked. These operate 
with no less effect than that on which many 
philosophers rest as a full explanation of the 
singular appearances which have been men- 
tioned. Wherever the state of society is such 
as to create many wants and desires, which 
cannot be satisfied without regular exertions 
of industry, the body, accustomed to labour, 
becomes robust and patient of fatigue. In a 
m(Ke simple state, where the demands of men 
are so few and so moderate, that they may be 
gratified, almost without any efibrt, by the 
spontaneous productions of nature, the powers 
of the body are not called forth, nor can they 
attain their proper strength. The natives of 
Chili and of North America, the two temperate 
regions in the New World, who live by hunt- 
ing, may be deemed an active and vigorous 
race, when compared with the inhabitants of 
the isles, or of those parts of the continent 
where hardly any labour is requisite to procure 
subsistence. The exertions of a hunter are 
not, however, so regular, or so continued, as 



those of persons employed in the culture of ®J^* 
the earth, or in the various arts of civilized 
life; and though his agility may be greater 
than theirs, his strength is on the whole in- 
ferior. If another direction were given to the 
active powers of man in the New World, and 
his force augmented by exercise, he might ac- 
quire a degree of vigour which he does not in 
bis present state possess. The truth of this is 
confirmed by experience. Wherever the Ame- 
ricans have been gradually accustomed to hard 
labour, their constitutions become robust, and 
they have been found capable of performing 
such tasks, as seemed not only to exceed the 
powers of such a feeble frame as has been 
deemed peculiar to their country, but to equal 
any effort of the natives either of Africa or of 

The same reasoning will apply to what has 
been observed concerning their slender de- 
mand for food. As a proof that this should be 
ascribed as much to their extreme indolence, 
and often total want of occupation, as to any 
thing peculiar in the physical structure of 
their bodies, it has been observed, that in those 
districts where the people of America are ob- 
liged to exert any unusual effort of activity. 

See Note XIX. Page 373. 


BOOK in order to procure subsistence, or wherever 
they are employed in severe labour, their ap- 
petite is not inferior to that of other men, and,, 
in some places, it has struck observers as re- 
markably voracious.* 

The operation of political and moral causes 
is still more conspicuous, in modifying the 
degree of attachment between the sexes. In 
a state of high civilization, this passion, in- 
flamed by restraint, refined by delicacy, and 
cherished by fashion, occupies and engrosses 
the heart. It is no longer a simple instinct 
of nature ; sentiment heightens the ardour of 
desire, and the most tender emotions of which 
our frame is susceptible, sooth and agitate the 
soul. This description, however, applies only 
to those, who, by their situation, are exempted 
from the cares and labours of life. Among 
persons of inferior order, who are doomed by 
their condition to incessant toil, the dominion 
of this passion is less violent ; their solicitude 
to procure subsistence, and to provide for the 
first demand of nature, leaves little leisure for 
attending to its second call. But if the nature 
of the intercourse between the sexes varies so 
much in persons of difierent rank in polished 

* Gumilla, ii. 12. 70. 247. Lafitau, i* 515. Ovalle, 
Church, ii. 81. Muratori, i. 295. 

mSTOftY OF AttERICA. 69 

societies, the condition of man, while he re- ^^^^« 
mains uncivilized, must occasion a variation v^^y"^/ 
still more apparent. We may well suppose, 
that amidst the hardships, the dangers, and the 
simplicity of savage life, where subsistence is 
always precarious, and often scanty, where 
men are almost continually engaged in the pur- 
suit of their enemies, or in guarding against 
their attacks, and where neither dress nor re- 
serve are employed as arts of female allure- 
ment, that the attention of the Americans to 
their women would be extremely feeble, with- 
out imputing this solely to any physical defect 
or degradation in their frame. 

It is accordingly observed, that in those 
countries of America, where, from the fertility 
of the soil, tlxe mildnessof the climate, or some 
farther advances which the natives have made 
in improvement, the means of subsistence are 
more abundant, and the hardships of savage 
life are less severely felt, the animal passion of 
the sexes becomes more ardent. Striking ex- 
amples of this occur among some tribes seated 
on the banks of great rivet's well stored with 
food, among others who are masters of hunting 
grounds abounding so much with game, that 
they have a regular and plentiful supply of 
nourishment with little labour. The superior 
degree of security and affluence which these 
tribes etijoy, is followed by their natural effects. 



BOOK The passions imi^nted in the human frame by 
the hand- of nature, acquire additional force^; 
hew tastes and desires arefprmed; the women, 
as thejr are more valued and admired, become 
more attentive to dress and ornament; the 
men, beginning to feel how much of their own 
happii^ss depends upon theiPf Qo longer dis- 
dain the arts of witining their £ivour and affec- 
tion. The intercourse of the sexes becomes 
very different from that which takes place 
among their ruder countrymen ; and as hardly 
any restraint is imposed on the gratification of 
desire, either by religion, or laws* or decency, 
the dissolution of their manners is excessive.* 

None of 

NoxwiTHSTANpiN0 the feeble m^e of the 
Americans, hardly any of them are deformed, 
or mutilated, or defective in any of their senses. 
AU travellers have been struck with this cir- 
cumstance, and have celd>rated the uniform 
symmetry and perfection of their external 
figure. Some aulliors search for the cause of 
this appearance in their physical condition. 
As the parents are not exhausted or over- 
fatigued with hard labour, they suj^ose that 
their children are born vigorous and sound. 
They imagine, that in the liberty of savage 


* Biet, 389. Ckarlev. iii. 423. 
Louimae, L 155. 

Dumont. Mem. sur 


life, the human body, naked and unconfined sook' 
from its earliest age, preserves its natural 
form; and that all its limbs and members 
acquire a juster proportion than when fetter*, 
ed with artificial restraints, which gtint its 
growth and distort its shape.* Skmiething, 
without doubt, may be ascribed to the opera- 
tion of these causes ; but the true reasons of 
this apparent advantage, which is common to 
all savage nations, lie deeper, and are closely 
interwoven with the nature and genius of that 
state. The infancy of man is so long and so 
helpless, that it is extremely difficult to rear 
children among rude nations. Their means 
of subsistence are not only scanty, but preca-* 
rious* Such as live by hunting, must range 
over extensive countries, and shift often from 
place to place. The care of children, as well 
as every other laborious task, is devolved upon 
the women. The distresses and hardships of 
the savage life, which are often such as can 
hardly be supported by persons in ftdl vigour, 
must be fatal to those of more tender age. 
Afraid of undertaking a task so laborious, wd 
of such long duration, as that of rearing their 
ofi^ring, the women, in some parts of Amef-y v./ ' ^■ 
rica, procure frequent abortions by the use oi P^^^^-' • 
certain herbs, and extinguish the first sparks 

* Pi«o, p. 6. 


BOOK of that life which they are unable to cherish.* 
Sensible that only stout and well-formed chil<- 
dren have force of constitution to stru^le 
through such an hard infancy, other nations 
abandon or destroy such of their progeny as 
appear feeble or defective, as unworthy of at* 
tention.t Even when they endeavour to rear 
all their children without distinction, so great 
a proportion of the whole number perishes 
under the rigorous treatment which must be 
their lot in the savage state, that few of thcMse 
who laboured under any original frailty attain 
the age of manhood.t Thus, in polished so- 
cieties, where the means of subsistence are 
secured with certainty, and acquired with 
ease i where the talents of the mind are often 
of more importance than the powers of the 
body ; children are preserved notwithstanding 
their defects or deformity, and grow up to be 
useful citizens. In rude nations, such persons 
are either cut off as soon as they are bom, or, 
becoming a burden to themselves and to the 
community, cannot long protract their lives. 
But in those provinces of the New World, 
where, by the establishment of the Europeans, 

* Ellis's Voyage to Hudson's Bay, 198. Herrera, dec, 7. 
lib. ix. c. 4. 

t Gumilla, Hist. ii. 234. Techo's Hist, of Paraguay, &e. 
Churchill's Collect vi. 108. 

i Creuxii Hist. Canad. p«57. 



more regular provisicHi has been made for the book 
subsistence of its inhabitants, and they are 
restrained from laying violent hands on their 
childrra, the Americans are so far from being 
eminent for any superior perfection in their 
form, that one should rather suspect smne pe* 
culiar imbecility in the race, from the extra* 
ordinary number of individuals who are de- 
formed, dwarfish, mutilated, blind, or deaf.* 

How feeble soever the constitution of the Umibmuty 

of tfaar ap- 

Americans may be, it is remarkable, that there 
is less variety in the human fi>rm throughout 
the New World, than in the anciept continent. 
When Columbus and the other discoverers first 
visited the different countries of America which 
lie within the torrid zone, they naturally ex- 
pected to find people of the same complexion 
with those in the corresponding regions of the 
other hemisphere. To their amazement, how- 
ever, they discovered that America contained 
no negroes ;f and the cause of this singular 
appearance became as much the object of cu- 
riosity, as the fact itself was of wonder. In 
what part or membrane of the body that hu- 
mour resides which tinges the complexion of 
the negro with a deep black, it is the business 

* Voyage dc Ulloa, i. 232- f P« Martyr, dec. p. 71. 


BOOK of anatomists to inquire and describe. Ttie 
powerful operation of heat appears manifestly 
to be the cause which produces this striking 
variety in the human species. All Europe, a 
great part of Asia, and the temperate countries 
of Africa, are inhabited by men of a white com- 
plexion. All the torrid zone in Africa, some 
of the warmer regions adjacent to it, and seve- 
ral countries in Asia, are filled with people of 
a deep black colour. If we survey the nations 
of our continent, making our progress from 
cold and temperate countries towards those 
parts which are exposed to the influence of 
vehement and unremitting heat, we shall find, 
that the extreme whiteness of their skin soon 
begins to diminish; that its colour deepens gra- 
dually as we advance; and after passing through 
all the successive gradations of shade, termi- 
nates in an uniform unvarying black. But in 
America, where the agency of heat is checked 
and abated by various causes, which I have al- 
ready explained, the climate seems to be desti- 
tute of that force which produces such wonder- 
ful effects on the human frame. The colour of 
the natives of the torrid zone in America, is 
hardly of a deeper hue than that of the people 
in the more temperate parts of their continent. 
Accurate observers, who had an opportunity of 
viewing the Americans in very different cli- 
mates, and in provinces far removed from each 


other» bave been struck with the amaziiig skai- book 
lacity of their figure and Mfect.* 

But though the hand of nature baa deviated 
so little fiiom one staodard in fashioning the 
human form in America, the creation of ftncy 
bath been various and extravagant. The same 
fables that were current in the ancient conti- 
nent, have been revived with respect to the 
New World, and America too has been pec^led 
v^th human beings of moastroua and fantastic 
appearance. The inhabitants of certain pro- 
vinces were described to be pigmies of tiiree 
feet high ; those of others, to be giants of an 
enormcNis size* Some travellers published ac- 
ccHWts of people with only one eye ; others pre- 
tended to have discovered men without heads, 
whose eyes and mouths were planted in their 
breasts. The variety of nature in her produc* 
tions is indeed so great, that it is presumptuous 
to set bounds to her fertility, and to reject in- 
discriininately every relation that does not per- 
. fectly accord with our own limited observation 
and experience.. But the other extreme, of 
yielding a hasty assent, on the slightest evi- 
dence, to whatever has the appearance of being 
strange and marveUous, is still more unbecom- 
ing a philosophical inquirer ; as, in every pe- 

♦ See Note XX. Page »T*. 


^j'v.^ nod, men are more apt to be betrayed into 
error by their weakness in believing tpo much, 
than by their arrogance in believing too little. 
In propcMtion as science extends, and nature is 
examined with a discerning eye, the wonders 
which amused ages of ignorance disappear. 
The tales of credulous travellers concerning 
America are forgotten ; the monsters which 
they describe have been searched for in vain j 
and those provinces where they pretend to have 
found inhabitants of singular forms, are now 
known to be possessed by people nowise diffe- 
rent from the other Americans. 

Though those relations may, without discus- 
sion, be rejected as fabulous, there are other 
accounts of varieties in the human species in 
some parts of the New World, which rest upon 
better evidence and merit more attentive exa- 
mination. This variety has been particularly 
observed in three different districts. The first 
of these is situated in the Isthmus of Darien, 
near the centre of America. Lionel Wafer, a 
traveller possessed of more curiosity and intel- 
ligence than we should have expected to find 
in an associate of Buccaneers, discovered there 
a race of men, few in number, but of a singular 
make. They are of low stature, according to 
his description, of a feeble frame, incapable of 
enduring fatigue. Their colour is a dead milk 
white ; not resembling that of fair people 



among Europeans, but without any ttncture of book 
a blush or sanguine complexion. Their skin 
is covered with a fine hairy down of a chalky 
white ; the hair of their heads, their eye-brows, 
and eye-lashes, are of the same hue. Their 
eyes are of a singular form, and so weak, that 
they can hardly bear the light of the sun ; but 
they see clearly by moon Jight, and are most 
active and gay in the night.* No race similar 
to this has been discovered in any other part of 
America. CorteSy indeed, found some peraons 
exactly resembling the white people of Darien, 
among the rare and monstrous aninuds which 
Montezuma had collected.t But as the power 
of the Mexican empire extended to ilie pro- 
vinces bordering on the Isthmus of Darien, 
they were probably brought thence. Singular 
as the appearance of those people may be, they 
cannot be considered as constituting a distinct 
species. Among the negroes of Africa, as well 
as the natives of the Indian islands^ nature 
sometimes produces a small number of indivi- 
duals, with all the characteristic features and 
qualities of the whijte people of Darien. The 
former are called Albinos by the Portuguese, 
the latter Kackerlakes by the Dutch. In Da- 
rien the parents of those Whites are of the same 

* Wafer, Descript. of Isth. ap. Dampicr, iii. p. S46. 
f Cortes ap. Ramus, iii. p. 241. E. 


BOOK cc^our with the other natives of the country ; 
and this observation applies equally to the ano- 
malous progeny of the negroes and Indians. 
The same mother who produces some children 
of a colour that does not belong to the race, 
brings forth the rest with the complexion pecu- 
liar to her country.* One conclusion may then 
be formed with respect to the people described 
by Wafer, the Albinos and the Kackerlakes ; 
they are a degenerated breed, not a separate 
class of men ; and from some disease or defect 
of their parents, the peculiar colour and debili- 
ty which mark their degradation are transmit- 
ted to them. As a decisive proof of this, it has 
been observed, that neither the white people of 
Darien, nor the Albinos of Africa, propagate 
their race ; their children are of the colour and 
temperament peculiar to the natives of their re- 
spective countries.t 

The second district that is occupied by 
inhabitants difiering in appearance from the 
other people of America, is situated in a high 
northern latitude, extending from the coast of 
Labrador towards the pole, as far as the coun- 
try is habitable. The people scattered over 

* Margrav. Hist. Rer. Nat. Bras. lib. viii, c. 4. 

t Wafer, p. 348. Demanet, Hist, de 1' Afrique, ii. 234. 
Recherch. Philos. sur les Amcr. ii. 1, *c. Note XXI. 
Page 375. "* 


those dreary regions, are known to the Earo^ book 
peans by the name of Esquimaux. They them- 
selves, With that idea of tl^ir own «u|>eriority 
which consoles the rud^t and most wretched 
nations, assume the name of iCera&V or Men. 
They are of a middle size, and robust, with 
heads of a disproportioned bulk, and feet as 
remarkably small. Their complexion, though 
swarthy, by being continually exposed to the 
rigour of a cold climate, inclines to the Euro- 
pean white rather than to the copper colour of 
America, and the men have beards which are 
sometimes busby and long.* From these marks 
of distinction, as well as from one still less equi- 
vocal, the affinity of their language to that of 
the Greenlanders, which I have already men* 
tioned, we may conclude, with s<Mne decree of 
confidence^ that the Esquimaux are a race dif* 
fereht from the rest of the Americans. 

Wb cannot decide with equal certainty con- 
cerning the inhabitants of the third district, 
situated at the southern extremity of America. 
These are the famous Patagonians, who^ dur- 
ing two centuries and a half, have afibrded a 
subject of controversy to the learned, and an 

"» EUis's Voy. to Huds. Bay» p. ISl. 139. De la Pothe- 
rie, torn. i. p. 79. Wales'^ Joum. of a Voy. to Churchill 
River, Phil. Trans, vol. Ix. 109^ 




BOOK object of wonder to the vulgar. Tliey are 
supposed to be one of the wandering tribes, 
which occupy that vast but least known region 
of America, which extends from the river de 
la Plata to the Straits of Magellan. Their 
proper station is in that part of the interior 
country which lies on the banks of the river 
Negro J but in the hunting season, they often 
roam as far as the straits which separate l^erra 
del Fuego from the main land. The first ac- 
counts of this people -were brought to Europe 
by the companions of Magellan,* who de- 
scribed them as a gigantic race, above eight 
feet high, and . of strength in proportion to 
their enormous size. Among several tribes of 
animals, a disparity in bulk as considerable 
may be observed. Some large breeds of horses 
and dogs exceed the more diminutive races in 
stature and strength, as far as the Patagonian 
is supposed to rise above the usual standard of 
the human body. But animalsf attain the 
highest perfection of their species, only in 
mild climates, or where they find the most 
nutritive food in greatest abundance. It is not 
then in the uncultivated waste of the Magel- 
lanic regions, and among a tribe of improvident 
savages, that we should expect to find man 
possessing the highest honours of his race, and 

* Falkner's Description of P«tagonia> p. 102. 


distinguiflfaed by a soperiority of size and vi- boor 
gour, far beyond what he has reached in any -_ \r 
other part of the earth. The most explicit and 
unexceptionable evidence is requisite, in order 
to establish a fact repugnant to those general 
principles and laws, which seem to aflfect the 
human frame in every other instance, and to 
decide with rei^ect to its nature and qualities. 
Such evidence has not hitherto been produced. 
Though several persons, to whose testimony 
great respect is due, have visited this part of 
America since the time of Magellan, and have 
bad interviews with the natives ; though some 
have affirmed, that such as they saw were of 
gigantic stature, and others have formed the 
same concluaion from measuring their foot- 
steps, or from viewing the skeletons of their 
dead j yet their accounts vary from each other 
in so many essential points, and are mingled 
with so many circumstances manifestly false 
or fabulous, as detract much from their credit. 
On the other hand, some navigators, and those 
among the most eminent of their order for dis- 
cernment and accuracy, have asserted that the 
natives of Patagonia^ with whom they had in- 
tercourse, though stout and well made, are not 
of such extraordinary size as to be distinguish- 
ed from the rest of the human species** The 

♦ See Note XXU." Page 375! 


existence of this gigantic rtee df m^Q Beema» 
then, td be one cf those points in natural hi^*- 
toryt ^h ]!<eEip«ct ta which a cautious inquirer 
will hesitate^ afocl will choose to suspend his 
assent, until more complete evidence shall de- 
cide» wheUier he ought to admit a iactt seem- 
ingly kicot^istent with what reason and expe* 
rience ^ave discovered concerning the struc^ 
ture aod condition of ittaa, in all the various 
situations in which he has been observed* 

Their state 
of health. 

Ik order to form a complete idea with re- 
tqpect to the constitution of the inhabttafiCs of 
this and the other hemisphere, we should at- 
tend not only to the make and vigour of tbeir 
bodies^ but consider what degree of health 
they enjoy, and to what period of longevity 
they usually arrive. In the &miplicity of thoc^. 
savage state, when man is not impressed with 
Idbour, or ^[lervsted by luxury, or disquieted 
with care, we are apt to im^ine that bis life 
will flow on almost untrmibled by disease or 
suffering, until l|is days be terminated in ex- 
treme old age, by the gradcid decays of na- 
ture. We find, accordingly, among the Ame- 
ricans, a^ well as among other rude people^ 
perscms, whose decrqiit and sbrrvdled form 
seems to indicate an extraordinary length of 
life. But as most of them are unacquainted 
with the art of numbering, and all of them as 
forgetful of what is past, as they are impro- 



vident of what is to come, it is impossible to 
ascertain their age with any degree of pre- 
cision.* It is evident that the period of their 
longevity must vary considerably, according to 
the diversity of climates, and their different 
modes of subsistence. They seem, however, 
to be every-where exempt from many of the 
distempers which afflict polished nations. None 
of the maladies which are the immediate off* 
spring of luxury, ever visited them ; and they 
hav6 no names in their languages by which to 
distinguish this numerous train of adventitious 

But whatever be the situation in which man 
is placed, he is born to suffer; and his dis- 
eases, in the'SaVage state, though fewer in 
number, are like those of the animals whom 
he nearly resembles in his mode of life, more 
violent and more fatal. If luxury engenders 
and nourishes distempers of one ^cies, the 
rigour and distresses of savage h'fe bring on 
those of another. As men in this state are 
wonderfully improvident, and their means of 
subsistence precarious, they often pass firona 
extreme want to exuberant plenty, according 
to the/ vicissitudes <tf fortune in the chase, or 

• Ulloa, Notic. Amteric. 823. Bancroft, Nat. Biit. of 
Gttiana, 334. 


in consequence of the various degrees of abun- 
dance with which the earth affords to them its 
productions^ in different seasons. Their incon- 
s^iderate gluttony in the one situation, and their 
severe abstinence in the other, are equally 
pernicious^ For though the human constitu- 
tion may be accustomed by habit, like that df 
animals of prey, to tolerate long famine, and 
then to gorge voraciously, it is not a little 
affected by such sudden and violent transitions. 
The strength and vigour of savages are at some 
seasons impaired by what they suffer from a 
scarcity of food ; at others, they are afHicted 
with disorders arising from indigestion and a 
superfluity of gross aliment These are so com- 
mon, that they may be considered as the um- 
voidable consequence of their BOode of subsistp 
ing, and cut off considerable numbers in the 
prime of life. They are likewise extremely 
subject to consumptions, to pleuritic^ asthma- 
tic, and paralytic disorders,* brought on by the 
immoderate hardships and fatigue which tbey. 
endure in bunting and in war ; or owing to the 
inclemency of the seasons to which they are 
continually exposed. In the savage state, 
hardships and fatigue violently assault the con- 
stitution. In polished societies, intemperance 

♦ Charlev. N. Fran. iii. 364. Lafitau, ii. 360. De la 
Potherie, ii. 37. 


undermifles it. It is not easy to determine 
which o£ them operates with most fatal effect^ 
or tends most to abridge human life. The in- 
fluence of the former is certainly most exten- 
sive. The pernicious consequences of luxury 
reach only a few members in any community ; 
the distresses of savage life are felt by all. As 
&r as I can judge, after very minute inquiry, 
ijbe general period of human life is shorter 
among savages than in well regulated and in- 
dustrious societies* 

One dreadful malady, the severest scourge 
with which, in this life, offended Heaven chas- 
tens the indulgence of criminal desire, seems 
to have been peculiar to the Americans. By 
communicating it to their conquerors, they 
have not only amply avenged their own wrongs, 
but by adding this calamity to those which 
formerly imbittered human life, they have, 
perhaps, more than counterbalanced all the 
benefits which Europe has derived from the 
discovery of the New Worlds This distemper, 
from the country in which it first raged, or 
from the people by whom it was supposed to 
have been spread over Europe, has been some- 
times called the Neapolitan, and sometimes the 
JPrench disease. At its first appearance, the 
infection was so malignant, its symptoms so 
violent, its operation so rapid and fatal, as to 
baffle all the efforts of medical skill. Astonish- 


ment and terror aceompanied this imkiiowtt 
affliction in its progress^ and men began to 
dread the extinction of the human race by sndk 
a cruel visitation. Experience, and the inge* 
nuity of physicians, gradually discovered reme* 
dies of such virtue as to cure or to mitigate the 
evil. During the course of two centuries and 
a half, its virulenee seems to have abated con^ 
siderably. At length, in the saiM manner with 
the leprosy, which raged in Europe for some 
centuries, it may waste its force and disappear ; 
and in some happier age, this western infection, 
like that from the East, maybe known only by 

Poi^and II. Aftbr Considering what appears to be 
^^kidl peculiar in the bodily constitution of the Ame* 
ricans, our a(;tention is naturally turned to- 
wards the powers and qualities of their minds. 
As the individual advances from the ignorance 
and imbecility of the infant state to vigour 
and maturity of understanding, something simu 
lar to this may be observed in the progress of 
the i^ecies. With respect to it, too, there is a 
period of infancy, during which several powers 
of the mind are not unfolded, and all are feeble 
and defective in their operation. In the early 
ages of society, while the condition of man is 

* See NoTB XXIII. Fage S77. 



simile wad rode, his tmaon k bttt Kttle eier- Rook 
ci^ed^ and bi$ desires move withia a yery sar* 
rovr Bphece. Hence arise two remarkaUe ctuk 
racterifitics of the humw miod in this state. 
Its ioteUeetual povers are ei^tieinely limited ) 
its emotions and c^Bxts are ftw and languid* 
Both these distinctions an eonspieiious among 
the rudest and moat tinimpnived of the Ame* 
tioMi tribes, and consttiiite a striking part of 
thek deseiiption* 

What, amoqg polished sattons, is called spe* 
culative reasoning or researchf is altogether t>«/«^ 
unknown in the rude state of society, and never 
becomes the occupation or amusement of the 
human faculties^ until man be so far im]Hroved 
as to have secured, with c^tainty, the meaM 
of subsistence, as well as the possession of lei^ 
sure and tranquillity. The thoughts and atteo«* 
tion of a savage are confined within the small 
circle of objects immediately conducive^ to His 
preservation or enjoyment Evesry thing boi^ 
yond that, escapes his observation, or h pen- 
fectly indifierent to him^ Like a mere animal, 
what is before his eyes interests and affiscts 
hint} what is out of sight, or at a distance^ 
makes little impression.* There are several 
people in America, whose limited understand- 

^ Ulloa, Noticias Americ. S8S. 


ings seem nbt to be capable of forming an 
arrangement for futurity; neither their solici- 
tude nor their foresight extend so far. They 
follow blindly the impulse of the appetite 
which they feel, but are entirely regardless of 
distant consequences, and even of those remov- 
ed in the least degree from immediate appre- 
hension. While they highly prize such things 
as serve for present use, or minister to present 
enjoyment, they set no value upon those which 
are not the object of some immediate want.* 
When, on the approach of the evening, a Carib- 
bee feels himself disposed to go to rest, no 
consideration will tempt him to sell his ham- 
mocks But, in the mornings when he is sally^ 
ing out to the business <h* pastime of the day, 
he will part with it for the slightest toy that 
catches his fancy, t At the close of winter, 
while the impression of what he has suffered 
from the rigour of the climate is fresh in the 
mind of the North American, he sets himself 
with vigour to prepare materials for erecting 
a comfortable hut to protect him against the 
inclemency of the succeeding season ; but, as 
soon as the weather becomes mild, he forgets 
/(vhat is pasl^ abandons his work, and never 

* Venegas, Hist, of Calif, i. 66. Supp. Church. ColL 
w^ 693. Borde, Descr. des Caraibes, p. 16. Ellis' Voy, 194!. 
t iabat, Voyages, ii. 11*, 115. Tertre, iu 385* 


thinks of it more, until the return of cold com- boor 

. IV. 

pels bitn, when too late, to resume it.* 

If, in concerns the most interesting, and 
seemingly the most simple, the reason of man^ 
while rude and destitute gf culture, diflers so 
little frdm the thoughtfess levity of children, 
or the improvident instinct of animals, its ex- 
ertions in other directions cannot be very con- 
siderable. The objects towards which reason 
turns, and the disquisitions in which it engages, 
must depend upon the state in which man is 
placed, and are suggested by his necessities 
and desires. Disquisitions, which appear the 
most necessary and important to men in one 
state of society) never occur to those in ano- 
ther. Among civilized nations, arithmetic, or 
the art of numbering, is deemed an essential 
and elementary science ; and in our continent, 
the invention and use of it reaches back to ai 
period so remote as is beyond the knowledge 
of history. But among savages, who have no 
property to estimate, no boarded treasures to 
count, no variety of objects or multiplicity of 
ideas to enumerate, arithmetic is a superfluous 
and useless art. Accordingly, among some 
tribes in America it seems to be quite un- 
known. There ^re many who cannot reckon 

* Adair's Hist, of Amer. InjdiaDS, 417. 


^^OK farther than three ; and have no denomiiiaiibti 
to distinguish any nnoiber above it.* Several 
can proceed as far as ten, others to twenty. 
When they would convey an idea e£ any nutn* 
ber beyond these> they point to the hair of 
their head, intimating that it is equal to t^m^ 
or with wonder declare it to be so great that it 
cannot be reckoned.t Not only the Amtth 
cans, but all nations, while exlremcly rude, 
se«n to be unacquainted with the art of com* 
putation.t As soon, however, as they acquire 
such acquaintance or connexion with a variety 
of objects, that there is frequent occasion to 
combine or divide them, their knowledge rf 
numbers increases ; so that the state of this art 
among any people, may be considered as ofl© 
standard by which to estimate the degree of 
their improvement. The Iroquois, in North 
America, as they are much more civBized than 
Jthe rude inhabitants of Br^il, Paraguay, or 
Guiana, have likewise made greater advance! 
in this respect ; though even their arithmetio 
does not extend beyondra thousand, as in their 
petty transactions they have no occasion fof 

* Condam. p. 67. Stadias ap. de Bry, ix, 128. Lei7« 
ibid. 251 . Biet, 362. Lettr. Edif. 23. 314. 

f Dumont Louis, i. 187. Herrera, dec. 1. lib.iii. c. S. 
Biet, 396. Borde, 6* 

i This is the case with the Greenlanders, Crantz, i. 225. 
and with KamtchatkadaleB, M. I'Abbl Chapp4, iii. 17* 


any higher nufldber.* The Cherdcee^ a less sock 
considerable nation on the^same continent, can 
reckon only as far as a hundred, and to that 
extent. have nsbnes for the several numbers; 
the smaller tribes in their neighbourhood can 
rise no higher than ten.t 

In other respects, the exercise of the under* no abstract 
standing amoi^ rude nations is still more 
limited. The first ideas of every human beii^ 
must be such as he receives by the senses* 
But in the mind of man, while in the savage 
state, there seem to be hardly any ideas but 
what enter by this avenue. The objects around 
him are |)resented to his eye. Such as may 
be subservient to his use, or can gratify any 
of his appetites, attract his notice ; he views 
the rest without curiosity or attention. Satis- 
fied with considering them under that simple 
mode in which they appear to him as sepa-* 
rate and detached, he neither combines them 
so as to form general classes, nor contemplates 
their qualities apart from the subject in which 
they inhere, nor bestows a thought upon the 
operations of his own mind concerning them. 
Thus he is unacquainted with all the ideas 

* Charlev. Nouv. Franc, iii. 402. 
f Adair's Hist of Amer. Indians, 77. See Note XXIV. 
Page 878. 

92 HisraRY OF America. 

which have been denominated universal^ or 
abstract, or of reflection. The rartge of his 
understanding must, of course, be very con- 
iitied, and his reasoning powers be employed 
merely on what is sensible. This is so re- 
markably the case with the ruder nations of 
America, that their language (as we shall after- 
wards find) have not a word to express any 
thing but what is material or corporeaK TtTnes 
spaccj substance, and a thousand other terms, 
which represent abstract and universal ideas, 
are altogether unknown to them.* A naked 
savage, cowering over the fij'e in his miserable 
cabin, or stretched under a few branches 
which afford him a temporary shelter, has as 
little inclination as capacity £3r useless specu* 
lation. His thoughts extend not beyond what 
relates to animal life ; and when they are not 
directed towards some of its concerns, his 
mind is totally inactive. In situations where 
no extraordinary effort either of ingenuity or 
labour is requisite, in order to satisfy the simple 
demands of nature, the powers of the mind <su*e 
so seldom roused to any exertion, that the ra* 
tional faculties continue almost dprmant and 
unexercised. The nutnerous tribes scattered 
over the rich plains of South America, the 
inhabitants of some of the islands, and of se- 

* Condam. p. 54. 


veral fertUe regions on the continent, come *^* 
under tbis description. Their vacant counte- * 
nance, their staring unexpressive eye, their 
listless inattention, and total ignorance of sub- 
jects which seem to be the first which should 
occupy the thoughts of rational beings, made 
such impression upon the Spaniards, when 
they first beheld those rude people, that they 
ccmsidered them as animals of an inferior or* 
der, and could not believe that they bekmg- 
ed to the human species.* It required the 
authority of a papal buji to counteract this (^i* 
aion, and to conyince them that the Amen* 
cans were capable of the functions, and entit* 
led to the privileges of humanity .t Since that 
time, persons more enlightened and impartial 
than the discoverers or conquerors of America, 
have had an opportunity of contemplating the 
most savage of its inhabitants, and they have 
been astonished and humbled with observing, 
how nearly man, in this condition, approaches 
to the brute creation. But in severer climates, 
where subsistence cannot be procured with the 
same ease, where men must unite more closely, 
and act with greater concert, necessity calls 
forth their talents, and sharpens their inven- 
ticm, so that the intellectual powers are more 

* Herrera, dec. 2. lib., ii. c. 15. 
f Torquem. Mon. Ind. iii. 198. 


BOOK exercised and improved. The North Ameri- 
s^py^ can tribes and the natives of Chili, who inhabH 
the temperate regions in the two great districts 
of America, are people of cultivated and en- 
larged understandings, when viewed in compa- 
rison with some of those seated in the islands, 
or on the banks of the Maragnon and Orinoco. 
Their occupations are more various, their sys- 
tem of policy, as well as of war, more complex, 
their arts more numerous. But even among 
them, the intellectual powers are extremely 
limited in their operations, and unless when 
turned directly to those objects which interest 
a savage, ar6 held in no estimation. Both the 
North Americans and Chilese, when not en- 
gaged in some of the functions belonging to a 
warrior or hunter, loiter away their time in 
thoughtless indolence, unacquainted with any 
other subject worthy of their attention, or ca- 
pable of occupying their minds.* If even 
among them reason is so much circumscribed 
in its exertions, and never arrives, in its highest 
attainments, at the knowledge of those gene- 
ral principles and maxims which serve as the 
foundation of science, we may conclude, that 
the intellectual powers of man in the savage 
state are destitute of their proper object, and 

* Lafitau, ii.2. 


HISTOBT OF idifimiCA. 95 

€a(mot acquire any considerable degree of vi- 

goar and enlargement. 

Fbom the same causes^ the active efioita of ^1^^ 
the mind are few, and, <m most occasions, the mind 
lati^uid. If w€ examine into the motives bnguid. 
wbidi rouse men to activity in civili^d life, 
and prompt them to persevere in &tiguing 
exertions of their ingenuity or strength, we 
i^all find that they arise chiefly from acquired 
wants and appedtes. These are numerous and 
importunate; they keep the mind in perpe- 
tual agitation f and, in order to gratify them, 
kvention must be always on the stretch, and 
industry must be incessantly employed. But 
the desires of simple nature are few, and where 
I favourable dimate yields almost spontaneous* 
ly what suffices to gratify them, they scarcely 
stir the soul^ or excite any violent emotioiu 
Hence the people of several tribes in America 
waste their life in a listl^s indolence. To be' 
free from occupation, seems to be ^1 the en* 
joyment towarib which they aspire. They will 
ccoitinue whole days stretched out in their 
hammocks, or seated on the earth in perfect 
icKeMss» without, changing thdr potfUire, or 
raising, their eyes from the ground, or utter* 
iag a single word.* 

* Bouguer, Voy. au Perou, 102. Borde, 15. 




Such is their aversion tolabour, that neither 
the hope of future good, nor the apprehension 
of future evil, can surmount it. They appear 
equally indifferent to both, discovering little 
solicitude, and taking no precautions to avoid 
the one, or to secure the other. The cravings 
of hunger may rouse them ; but as they devour, 
with little distinction y whatever will appease 
it$ instinctive demands, the exertions which 
these occasion are of short duration. Desti- 
tute of ardour as well as variety of desire, they 
feel not the force of those powerful springs, 
which give vigour to the movements of the 
mind, and urge the patient hand of industry 
to persevere in its efforts. Man, in some parts 
of America, appears in a form so rude, that 
we can discover no effects of his activityi and 
the principle of understanding which should 
direct it, seems hardly to be unfolded. Like 
the other animals, he has no fixed residence ; 
he has erected no habitation to shelter him 
from the' inclemency of the weather ; he has 
taken no measures for securing certain sub- 
sistence ; he neither sows nor reaps j but 
roams about, as led in search of the plants and 
fruits which the earth brings forth in succes- 
sion^ and in quest of the game which he kills 
in the forests, or of the fish which he catches 
in the rivers. 



This description, however, applies only to 
some tribes. Man caniiot continue long in 
this state of feeble and uninformed infancy. 
He was made for industry and action, and the 
powers of his nature, as well as the necessity 
of his condition, urge him to fulfil his destiny. 
Accordingly, among most of the American 
nations, especially those seated in rigorous 
climates, some efforts are emjdoyed, and some 
previous precautions are taken, for securing 
subsistence. The career of regular industfy 
is begun, and the laborious arm has made the 
first essays of its power. Still, however, the 
improvident and slothful genius of the savage 
state predominates. Even among those more 
improved tribes, labour is deemed ignominious 
and degrading. It is only to work of a cer- 
tain kind that a man will deign to put his 
hand. The greater part is devolved entirely 
upon the women. One-half of the community 
remains inactive, while the other is oppressed 
with the multitude and variety of its occupa- 
tions. Thus their industry is partial, and the 
foresight which regulates it is no less limited. 
A remarkable instance of this occurs in the 
chief arrangement with respect to their man- 
ner of living. They depend for their subsist- 
ence, during one part of the year, on fishing ; 
during another, on hunting ; during a third, 
on the produce of their agriculture. Though 
experience has taught them to foresee the re- 



turn of those various seasons, and to make 
some provision for the respective exigencies 
of each, they either want sagacity to propor- 
tion this provision to their consumption, or are 
so incapable of any command over their appe- 
tites, that from their inconsiderate waste they 
often feel the calamities of famine as severely 
as the rudest of the savage tribes. What they 
suffer one year, does not augment their indus- 
try, or render them more provident to prevent 
similar distresses.* This inconsiderate thought- 
lessness about futurity, the effect of ignorance 
and the cause of sloth, accompanies and cha- 
racterizes man in every stage of savage life ^t 
and, by a capricious singularity in his opera- 
tions, he is then least solicitous about supply- 
ing his wants, when the means of satisfying 
them are most precarious, and procured with 
the greatest difficulty.1: 

d^iti^ III. After viewing the bodily constitution of 
the AmericaQS, and contemplating the powers 
of their minds, we are led^ in the natursd order 
of inquiry, to consider them as united together 

♦ Charlev. N. Fr. iii. SS8. Lettr. Edif. 2S. 298. Dc- 
script. of N. France, Osborn's Collect, ii. 880. De la Po- 
therie, ii. 63. 

t Bancroft's Nat. Hist, of Guiana, 326. 333. 

t Sec Note XXV. Page 378. 



in society. Hitherto our researches have been 
confined to the operations of understanding 
respecting themselves as individuals, now they 
will extend to the degree of their sensibility 
and affection towards their species. 

The cbmestic state is the first and most sim- 
j^e form of human association. The union of 
the sexes, among different animals, is of longer 
or shorter duration in proportion to the ease or 
difficulty of rearing their ofi&pring. Among 
those tribes where tfie season of infancy is shorty 
and the young soon acquire vigour or agility, 
no permanent union is formed. Nature com- 
mits the care of training up the offiprmg to the 
mother alone i and her tenderness, without any 
other assistance, is equal to the task. But 
where the state of infancy is long and helpless, 
and the joint assiduity of both parents is requi- 
site in tending their feeUe progeny, there a 
more intimate connexion takes place, and con- 
tinues until the purpose of nature be accom- 
plished^ and the new race grow up to full matu* 
rity. As the infancy of man is more feeble and 
helpless than that of any other animal, and he 
is dependent, during a much longer period, on 
the care and foresight of his parents, the union 
between husband and wife c&ine early to be 
considered, not only as a solemn, but as a per- 
manent contract. A general starte of promis- 
cuous intercourse between the sexes never 


existed but in the imagination of poets. In the 
infancy of society, when men, destitute of arts 
and industry, lead a hard precarious life, the 
rearing of their progeny demands the attention 
and efforts of both parents j and if their union 
had not been formed and continued with this 
view, the race could not have been preserved. 
Accordingly, in America, even among the 
rudest tribes, a regular union between husband 
and wife was universal, and the rights of mar* 
riage were understood and recognized. In 
those districts where subsistence was scanty* 
and the difficulty of maintaining a family was 
great, the man confined himself to one wife* 
In warmer and more fertile provinces, the faci- 
lity of procuring food concurred with the influ- 
ence of climate in inducing the inhabitants to 
increase the number of their wives.* In some 
countries, the marriage union subsisted during 
life ; in others, the impatience of the Ameri- 
caris under restraint of any species, together 
with their natural levity and caprice, prompted 
them to dissolve it on very slight pretexts, and 
often without assigning any cause.t 

* Lettr. Edif. 23. 318. Lafitau, Moeurs, i. 554f. Lery 
ap. de Bry, iii. 234. Journal de Grillet et Bechamel, p. 88. 

t Lafitau, i. 580. Joutel, Journ. Histor. 345. Lozano, 
Dedcr. del Gran Chaco, 70. Hennepin, Mceurs des Sau- 
Tages, p. 30. 33. 


But in whatever light the Americans con- 
sidered the obligation of this contract, either as 
perpetual, or only as temporary, the condition 
of women was equally humiliating and miser- 
able. Whether man has been improved by the 
progress of arts and civilization in society, is a 
question which, in the wantonness of disputa- 
tion, has been agitated among philosophers. 
That women are indebted to the refinements of 
polished manners for a happy change in their 
state, is a point which can admit o( no doubt. 
To despise and to degrade the female sex, is 
the characteristic of the savage state in every 
part of the globe. Man, proud of excelling in 
strength and in courage, the chief marks of pre- 
eminence among rude people, treats woman, as 
an inferior, with disdain. The Americans, per- 
haps from that coldness and insensibility which 
has been considered as peculiar to their consti- 
tution, add neglect and harshness to contempt. 
The most intel%ent travellers have been struck 
with this inattention of the Americans to their 
women. It is not, as I have already observed, 
by a studied display of tenderness and attach- 
ment, that the American endeavours to gain 
the heart of the woman whom he wishes to 
marry. Marriage itself, instead of being an 
union of affection and interests between equals, 
becomes, among them, the unnatural conjunc- 
tion of a master with his slave. It is the ob- 
servation of an author, whose opinions are de- 


BOOK servedly of great weight, that wherever wives 
are purchased^ their condition is extremely^ de- 
pressed.* They become the property and the 
slaves of those who buy them. In whatever 
part of the globe this custom prevails, the ob*. 
servation holds. In countries where refine- 
ment has made some progress, women, when 
purchased, are excluded from society, shut up 
in sequestered apartments, and kept under the 
vigilant guard of their masters. In ruder na* 
tions, they are degraded to the meanest func* 
tions. Among many people of America, the 
marriage-contract is property a purchase. The 
man buys his wife of her parents. Though un- 
acquainted with (lie use of money, or with such 
commerdal transactions as take place in more 
improved society, he knows how to give an 
equivalent for any object which he desires to 
possess. In some places, the suitor devotes bis 
service for a certain time to the parents of the 
maid whom he courts ; in others, he hunts for 
them occasionally, or assists in cultivatmg th&r 
fields, and forming their canoes i in others, he 
offers presents of such things as are deemed most 
valuable on account of their usefulness or rari- 
ty.t In return for these, he receives his wife ; 

* Sketches of Hist, of Man, i. 184. 
t Lafitou, Moeurs, &c. i. 560, Ac. Charlev. iii. 285, &c. 
Herrera, dec. 4. lib. iv. c 7. Dumont, ii. 156. 


and this circumstance, added to the low estima- book 

• IV 

tion of women among savages, leads him to con- 
sider her as a female servant whom he has pur* 
chased, and whom he has a title to treat as an 
inferior. In all unpolished nations, it is true, 
the functions in domestic economy which fall 
naturally to the share of women, are so many, 
that they are subjected to hard labour, and^nust 
bear more than their full portion of the com- 
mon burden. But in America their condition 
is so peculiarly grievous, and their depression 
so complete, that servitude is a name too mild 
to describe their wretched state. A wife, 
among most tribes, is no better than a beast of 
burden, destined to every office of labour and 
fatigue. While the men loiter out the day in 
sloth, or spend it in amusement, the women 
are condemned to incessant toil. Tasks are 
imposed upon them without pity, and services 
kre received without complaisance cnr grati- 
tude.* Every circumstance reminds women 
of this mortifying inferiority. They must ap- 
proach their lords with reverence ;, they must 
regard them as more exalted beings, and are 
not permitted to eat in their presence.t There 

* Tertre, ii. 382. Borde, Relat. des Moeurs des Caraibes, 
p. 21. Biety 857. Condamme, p. 110. Fermin, i. 79. 

t Gmnilla, i. 15S. Barrere, 164. Labat, Voy. iL 78. 
ChanvaloDy 51. Tertre, ii. SOO. 


are districts in America where this dotninion 
is so grievous, and so sensibly felt, that some 
women, in a wild emotion of maternal tender- ' 
ness, have destroyed their female children in 
their infancy, in order to deliver them from 
that intolerable bondage to which they knew 
they were doomed.* Thus the first institution 
of social life is perverted. That state of do- 
mestic union towards which nature leads the 
human species, in order to soften the heart to 
gentleness and humanity, is rendered so un- 
equal, as to establish a cruel distinction be- 
tween the sexes, which forms the one to be 
harsh and unfeeling, and humbles the other to 
servility and subjection. 

Their wo- Jx is owiug, pcrhaps, in some measure to 

men not _ , /. , - i • i 

proUfic. this state of depression, that women in rude 
nations are far from being prolific.! The vi- 
gour of their constitution is exhausted by ex- 
cessive fatigue, and the wants and distressies of 
savage life are so numerous, as to force them 
to take various precautions in order to pre- 
vent too rapid an increase of their progeny. 
Among wandering tribes, or such as depend 
chiefly upon hunting for subsistence, the mo- 
ther cannot attempt to rear a second child, 
until the first has attained such a degree of 

* Gumilla, ii. 233. 238. Herrera, dec. 7. lib. ix. c. 4. 
t Lafitauy ]. 590. Charlevoix, iii. 304. 



vigour as to be in some measure independent of book 
her care. From this motive it is the universal 
practice of the American women to suckle 
their children during several years;* and as 
they seldom marry early, the period of their 
fertility is over before they can finish the long 
but necessary attendance upon two or three 
ciuldren.t Among some of the least polished 
tribes, whose industry and foresight do not 
extend so far as to make any regular provision 
for their own subsistence, it is a maxim not to 
burden themselves with rearing more than two 
children ^t and no such numerous families as 
are frequent in civilized societies, are to be 
found among men in the savage state. § When 
twins are born, one of them commonly is 
abandoned, because the mother is not equal to 
the task of rearing both.H When a mother 
dies while she is nursing a child, all hope of 
preserving its life fails, and it is buried toge- 
ther with her in the same grave.^ As the 

* Herrera, dec. 6. lib. i. c. 4. 

f Charley, iii. 303. Dumont, Mem. sur Loiusiane, ii. 
270. Denys, Hist. Natur. de TAmerique, &c, ii. 365. 
Charley. Hist, de Parag. ii. 422. 

% Techo's Account of Paraguay, &c. ; Church. Collect, 
vi. 108. Lett. Edif. 24f. 200. Lozano, Descr. 92. 

§ Maccleur's Journal, 63. 

II Lett. Edif. x. 200. See Note XXVI. Page 384. 

f Charley, iii. 368. Lett. Edif. x. 200. P. Melch. Her- 
tiandeZ) Menior, de Cheriqui, Colbert. Collect. Orig. Pap. 1 . 



BOOK parents are frequently exposed to want by their 
own improvident indolence, the difficulty of 
sustaining their children becomes so great, that 
it is not uncommon to abandon or destroy 
them.* Thus their experience of the difficulty 
of training up an infant to maturity, amidrt 
the hardships of savage life, often stifles the 
voice of nature among the Americans, and 
suppresses the strong emotidns of parental ten- 

Parental BuT, though ueccssity compels the inhabi- 

and*^ tants of AmcHca thus to set bounds to the in* 
^*^' crease of their families, they are not deficient 
in affection and attachment to their offspring. . 
They feel the power of this instinct in its full 
force; and as long as their progeny continue 
feeble and helpless, no people exceed them in 
tenderness and care.t But in rude nations, 
the dependence of children upon their parents 
is of shorter continuance than in polished so- 
cieties. When men must be trained to the 
various functions of civil life by previous dis- 
cipline and education ; when the knowledge of 
abstruse sciences must be taught, and dexte- 
rity in intricate arts must be acquired, b^ore a 
young man is prepared to begin his career of 

* Vttiegas, Hist of Californ. i. 82. 
t GumOla, i. 211. Biet, 390. 



action, the attentive feelings of a parent are ^^^ 
not confined to the years of infancy, but ex- 
tend to ^wliat is more remote, the establishment 
of his child in the woiid. Even then his 8(^« 
dtode does not terminate. His protection 
may still be requisite, and his wisdom and ex- 
perience still prove useful guides. Thus a per- 
manent connexion is formed ^ parental tender- 
ness is exercised, and filial respect returned, 
throiughout the whole course of life. But in 
the simplicity of the savage state, the afl^tion 
c£ parents, like the instinctive fondness of ani- 
mals, ceases almost entirely as soon as their 
oflSspring attain maturity. Little instruction 
fits them for that mode of life to which they 
are destined. The parents, as if their duty 
were accomplished when they have conducted 
their children through the helpless years of 
inlfoncy, leave them afterwards at entire li- 
berty. Even in their tender age, they seldom 
advise or admonish, they never chide or chas- 
tise them. They suffer them to be absolute 
masters of their own actions.* In an Ameri- 
can hut, a father, a mother, and their poste- 
rity, live together like persons assembled by 
accident, without seeming to feel the obliga- 
tion of the duties mutually arising from this 

* Charlev. iii. 272. Biet, S90. GumHla, i. 212. Lh- 
fitau, i. 602. Creuxii Hist. Canad. p. 71 • Fernandez, 
Kelac. Hist, de los Cheqmt. 33. 


BOOK connexion.* As filial love is not cherished by 


the continuance of attention or good offices, 
the recollection of benefits received in early 
infancy is too faint to excite it. Conscious of 
their own liberty, and impatient of restraint, 
the youth of America are accustomed to ^ct as 
if they were totally independent. Their pa- 
rents are not objects of greater regard than 
other persons. They treat them always with 
neglect, and often with such harshness and in- 
solence, as to fill those who have been witnesses 
of their conduct with horror.t Thus the ideas 
which seem to be natural to man in his savage 
state, as they result necessarily from his cir- 
cumstances and condition in that period of his 
progress, affect the two capital relations in do- 
mestic life. They render the union between 
husband and wife unequal. They shorten the 
duration, and weaken the force, of the con- 
nexion between parents and children. 

?^^!^ IV. From the domestic state of the Ameri- 

cans, the transition to the consideration of their 
civil government and political institutions is 
natural. In every inquiry concerning the ope- 

♦ Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. iii. 273. 

t Gumilla, i. 212. Tertre, ii. 376. Charlev. Hist, de 
N. France, iii. 309. Charlev. Hist, de Parag. i. 115. Lo- 
zano, bescript. del Gran Chaco, p. 68. 100, 101. Ter- 
nandez, Relac. Histor. de los Chequit. 426. 


rations of men when united together in society, ^y * 
the first object of attention should be their 
mode of subsistence. Accordingly as that 
varies, their laws and policy must be difierent. 
The institutions suited to the ideas and exi- 
gencies of tribes which subsist chiefly by fish- 
ing or hunting, and which have as yet acquired 
but an imperfect conception of any species of 
property, will be much more simple than those 
which must take place when the earth is adti- 
vated with regular industry, and a right of pro- 
perty, not only in its productions, but in the 
sml itself, is completely ascertained. 

All the people of America, now under re- JJjJ^ 
view, belong to the former class. But though 
they may s^ be comprehended un'der the ge- 
neral denomination of savage^ the advances 
which they had made in the art of procuring 
to themselves a certain and plentiful subsist- 
ence, were very unequal. On the extensive 
plains of South America, man appears in one 
of the rudest states in which he has been ever 
observed, or, perhaps, can exist. Several tribes 
depend entirely upon the bounty of nature for 
subsistence. They discover no solicitude, they 
employ little foresight, they scarcely exert any 
industry, to secure what is necessary for their 
support. The Topayers of Brasil, the Guaxeros 
of Tierra Firm^, the Caiguas, the Mosos, and 


BOOK several other people of Paraguay, are unao 
>^. ! ^ y quainted with every species of cultivation. 
They neither ^ow nor plant. Even the culture 
of the manioc, of which cassada bread is made, 
is an art too intricate, for their ingeauity, or 
too fatiguing to their indolence. The roots 
which the earth produces spontaneously, the 
fruits, the berries, and the seeds, which they 
gather in the woods, together with lizards and 
other reptiles, which multiply amazingly with 
the heat of the climate in a fat soil, moistened 
by frequent rains, supply them with food dur- 
By eahmg. ing some part of the year.* At othfer times 
they subsist by fishing ; and nature seems to 
i>ave indulged the laziness of the South Ame- 
rican tribes by the liberality with which she 
ministers, in this way, to llieir wants. The 
vast rivers of that region in America abound 
with an infinite variety of the most delicate 
fish. The lakes and marshes formed by the 
annual overflowing of the waters, are filled with 
all the different species, where they remain 
shut up, as in natural reservoirs, for the use of 

♦ Nieuhoff, Hist, of Brasil; Church. Coll. ii. 134. Si- 
mon, Conquista de Tierra Firmfe, p, 166. Techo, Account 
of Paraguay, &c. ; Church, vi. 78. Lettr. Edif. 23. 384. 
10. 190. Loeano, Descrip. del Gran Chaco. p. 81. Ribas,^ 
Histor. de los Triumfos, &c. p.7. 



the inbabitantsi* They swarm in such shoals, book 
that in some places diey are catcbed without 
art or industiy.* In others, the natives have 
discovered a method of infecting the water 
with the juice of certain plants, by which the 
fish are so intoxicated, that they float on the 
surface, and are taken with the hand.t Some 
tribes have ingenuity enough to preserve them 
without salt, by drying or smoking them upon 
hurdles over a slow fire.t The prolific quality 
of the rivers in South America induces many 
of the natives to resort to their banks, and to 
depend almost entirely for nourishment on 
what their waters supply with such profusion.^ 
In this part of the globe, hunting seems not to 
have been the first employment of men, or the 
first effort of their invention and labour to ob- 
tain food* They were fishers before they be- 
came hunters ; and as the occupations of the 
former do not call for equal exertions of acti- 
vity or talents with those of the latter, people 
in tliat state appear to possess neither the same 
degree of enterprise nor of ingenuity. The 
petty nations adjacent to the Maragnon and 

♦ See Note XXVII. Page 384. 
f See Note XXVIIJ. Page 885. 
t Condam. 159. GumiUa, ii. 37. Lettr. Edif. 14>. 199. 
23. 328. Acugna, Relat. de la Rit. dei Amaz. 138. 
§ Barrere^ Relat. de Fr. Equin. p. 155. 




Orinoco^ are manifestly the most inactive and 
least intelligent of all the Americans. 

By hunt- None but tribes contiguous to great rivers 
™^* can sustain themselves in this mannen The 

greater part of the American nations, dispersed 
over the forests with which their country b 
covered, do not pi:ocure subsistence with the 
same facility. For although these forests, es- 
pecially in the southern continent of America, 
are stored plentifully with game,* considerable 
efforts of activity and ingenuity are requisite 
in pursuit of it. Necessity incited the natives 
to the one, and taught them the other. Hunt- 
ing became their principal occupation ; and as 
it called forth strenuous exertions of courage, 
of force, and of invention, it was deemed no 
less honourable than necessary. This occupa- 
tion was peculiar to the men. They were 
trained to it from their earliest youth. A bold 
and dexterous hunter ranked next in fame to 
the distinguished warrior, and an alliance with 
the former is often courted in preference to 
one with the latter.t Hardly any device, 
which the ingenuity of man has discovered for 
ensnaring or destroying wild animals, was un- 

♦ P. Martyr, Decad. p. 324. Gumilla, ii- 4, &c. 
Acugna, i« 156. 
t . Charlev. Histoire de la N. France, iii. 115. 



known to the Americans. Whfle engaged in 
this favourite exercise, they shake off the indo- 
lence peculiar to their nature, the latent powers 
and vigour of their minds are roused, and they 
become active, persevering, and indefatigable. 
Their sagacity in finding their prey, and their 
address in killing it, are equal. Their reason 
and their senses being constantly directed to- 
wards this one object, the former displays such 
fertility of invention, and the latter acquire 
such a degree of acuteness, as appear almost 
increildble. They discern the footsteps of a 
wild beast, which escape every other eye, and 
can follow them with certainty through the 
pathless forest. If they attack their game 
openly, their arrow seldom errs from the 
mark j* if they endeavour to circumvent it by 
art, it is almost impossible to avoid their toils* 
Among several tribes, their young men were 
not permitted to marry, until they had given 
such proofs of their skill in hunting as put it 
beyond doubt that they were capable of pro- 
viding for a family. Their ingenuity, always 
on the stretch, and sharpened by emulation as 
well as necessity, has struck out many inven- 
tions, which greatly facilitate success in the 
chase. The most singular of these is the dis-.v 

* Biet, Voy.* de France Equin. 357. Davies' Discov. 
of the River of Araaz. Purchas, iv. p. 1^7* 


BOOK covery of a poison in which they dijp the arrows 
v,^^ L^ employed in hunting. The slightest wound 
with those envenomed shafts is mortid. If 
they only pierce the skin, the blood fixes 'and 
congeals in a moment, and the strongest ani- 
mal falls motionless to the ground* . Nor does 
this poison, notwithstanding its violence and 
subtlety, infect the flesh of the animal wfaicfa it 
kills. That may be eaten with perfect safety, 
and retain its native relish and qualities. All 
the nations situated upon the banks of the 
Maragnon and Orinoco are acquainted with 
this composition, the chief ingredient in which 
is the juice ^extracted from the root of the 
curare^ a species of withe.* In other parts rf 
America, they employ the juice of the numch^ 
niUe for the same purpose, and it operates with 
no less fatal activity. To people possessed of 
those secrets, the bow is a more destructive 
weapon than the mudket, and, in their d:ilful 
hands, does great execution among the birds 
and beasts which abound in the forests of Ame- 

By agricui- But the life of a hunter gradually leads man 
to a state more advanced. The chase, even 
where prey is almndant, and the dexterity of 

* Gumiilai ii. 1, &c. Condam. 208. Recherch. Philos. 
ii. 239. Bancroft's Nat. Hiit. of Guiana^ 281^ &c. 


tbe hunter much improved, a£brd$ but an uu* ^^'^ 
certain maintenance, and at some seasons it 
must be suspended altogether. If a savage 
trusts to his bow alone for food, he and his 
family wtll be often reduced to extreme dis- 
tress.* Hardly any region of the earth fur- 
nishes man spontaneously with what his wants 
require* In the mildest climates, and most 
fertile soils, his own industry and foresight 
must be exerted, in some degree, to secure a 
r^ular supply of food. Their experience of 
this surmounts the abhorrence of labour natural 
to savage nations, and compels them to have 
recourse to culture, as subsidiary to hunting* 
In particular situations, some smaQ tribes may 
subsist by fishing, independent of any produc* 
tion of the earth raised by dieir own industry. 
Bat Uirou^out all America, we scarcely meet 
with any nation of hunters which does not 
practise some species of cultivation. 

The agriculture of the Americans, however, i*v . 
is neither extensive nor laborious. As game oftiMir 
and fish are their principal food, all they aim ^*'*^ 
at, by cultivation, is to supply any occasional 
defect of these. In the southern continent of 
America, the natives confined their industry 
to rearing a few plants, which, in a rich soil 

* See Note XXIX. Page 886. 



BOOK and warm dimate, were easily trained to ma- 
turity. The chief of these is maizey welt 
known in Europe by the name of Turkey or 
Indian wheat, a grain extremely prolific, c£ 
simple culture, agreeable to the taste, and af- 
fording a strong hearty nourishment. The 
second is the manioc^ which grows to the 
size of a large shrub, or small tree, and pro- 
duces roots somewhat resembling parsnips. 
After carefully squeezing out the juice, these, 
roots are grated down to a fine powder, and 
formed into thin cakes, called Cassada bread, 
. which, though insipid to the taste, proves no 
contemptible food.*^ As the juice of the ma- 
nioc is a deadly poison, son^e authors have 
celebrated the ingenuity of the Americans, 
in converting a noxious plant into wholesome 
nourishment. But it should rather be consi- 
dered as one of the desperate expedients for 
procuring subsistence, to which neciessity re- 
duces rude nations ; or, perhaps, men were 
led to the use of it by a progress, in which 
there is nothing marvellous. One species of 
manioc is altogether free of any poisonous 
quality, and may be eaten without any prepa- 

♦ Sloane, Hist, of Jam. Introdact. p, 18. Labat, i. 394. 
Acosta, Hist. Ind. Occid. Natur. lib. iv. c. 17. Ulloa, i. 62. 
Aublet, Mem. 8ur le Magnioc. Hist, des Plantes, torn. ii. 
p. 65f &c. 


ration but that of roasting it in the embers, book 
This, it is probable, was first used by the Ame- >vv^ 
ricans as food ; and necessity having gradually 
taught them the art of separating its perni- 
cious juice from the other species, they have 
by experience found it to be more prolific as 
well as more nourishing** The third is the 
plantain^ which, though it rises to the height 
of a tree, is of such quick growth, that in less 
than a year it rewards the industry of the 
cultivator with its fruit This, when roasted, 
supplies the place of i}read, and is both palat- 
able and nourishing.! The fourth is the po- 
tatOf whose culture and qualities are too well 
known to need any description. The fifth is 
pimentOf a small tree, yielding a strong aro- 
matic spice. The Americans, who, like other 
inhabitants of warm climates, delight in what- 
ever is hot and of poignant flavour, dfeem this 
seasoning a neeessary of life, and mingle it 
copiously with every kind of food they take.t 

Such are the various productions, which 
were the. chief object of culture among the 
hunting tribes on the continent of America ; 

* Martyr, Decad. 301. Labat. i. 411. Gumilla, iii. 192. 
Machucha Milic. Indiana, 164. See Notb XXX. Page 

t See Notb XXXI. Page 387. 

X Gumilla, iii. 171. Acosta, lib. iv. c. 20. 


BOOK and with a moderate exertion of active and 


provident industry, these might have yielded 
a full supply to the wants of a numerous 
people. But men, accustomed to the free and 
vagrant life of hunters, are incapable of regu- 
lar application to labour, and consider agri- 
culture as a secondary and inferior occupa- 
tion. Accordingly, the provision for subsist* 
ence, arising from cultivation, was so limited 
and scanty among the Americans, that, upon 
any accidental failure of their usual success in 
hunting, they were often reduced to extreme 

In the islands, the mode of subsisting was 
considerably different. None of the large ani* 
mals which abound oh the continent were 
known there. Only four species of quadru- 
peds, besides a kind of small dumb dog, exist- 
ed in the islands, the biggest of which did not 
exceed the size of a rabbit.* To hunt such 
diminutive prey, was an occupation which re- 
quired no eflTort either of activity or courage. 
The chief employment of a hunter in the isles 
was to kill birds, which on the continent are 
deemed ignoble game, and left chiefly to the 
pursuit of boys.t This want of animals, as 

* Oviedo, lib. xii. in proem. 

t Ribas, Hist de lbs Triumf. p. 13. De la Potherie, 
ii.SS. iii. 20. 


well as their pecuUar situation^ led the idand- 
en to depend principally upon fishing for their 
subsistence.* Their rivers, and the sea with 
which they are surrounded, supplied them with 
this species of food. At some particular sea* 
sons, turtle, crabs, and other shell-fish, abound- 
ed in such numbers, that the natives could 
support themselves with a facility in which 
their indolence delighted.t At other times 
they ate lizards, and various reptiles of odious 
forms4 To fishing, the inhabitants of the 
islands added some degree of agriculture. 
Maize, § manioc, and other plants, were culti- 
vated in the same manner as on the continent. 
But aU the fruits of their industry, together Tn^ «r^ 
with what their soil and climate produced 
{spontaneously, afforded them but a scanty 
maintenance. Though their demands for food 
were very sparing, they hardly raised what was 
sufficient for their own consumption. If a few 
. Spaniards settled in any district, such a small 
addition of supernumerary mouths soon ex- 
hausted their scanty stores, and brought on a 

* Oriedoy lib. xiii. c. 1. Gomara, Hist, Gener. c*28. 
t Gomara» Hist. Gener. c. 9. Labat, ii. 221, Ac. 
j: Oviedo, lib. xiii. c. S. 
§ See Note XXXII. PageS87. 


Two circumstances, common to all the sa^ 

vage nations of America, concurred with 
^o causes those which I have already mentioned, not 
perfection, ouly iu rendering their agriculture imperfect, 
but in circumscribing their power in all their 
operations : They had no tame animals ; and 
they were unacquainted with the useful me- 

rf*^i^* In other parts of the globe, man, in his 
animals. rudest statc, appears as lord of the creation, 
giving law to various tribes of animals, which 
he has tamed, and reduced to subjection. The 
Tartar follows his prey on the horse which 
he has reared ; or tends his, numerous herds, 
which furnish him both with food and cloth* 
ing : the Arab has rendered the camel docile, 
and avails himself of its persevering strength : 
the Laplander has formed the rein-deer to be 
subservient to his will ; and even the people of 
Kamtchatka have trained their dogs to labour. 

I ' This command over the inferior creatures is 

one of the noblest prerogatives of man, and 
among the greatest efforts of his wisdom and 

i power. Without this, his dominion is incom- 

plete. He is a monarch who has no subjects ; 
a master without servants, and must perform 
every operation by the strength of his own arm. 
Such was the condition of all the rude nations 
i ^ in America. Their reason was so little improv- 

' ed, or their union so incomplete, that they 


seem not to have been conscious of the supe* boor 
riority of their nature, and 8u£fered all the ani- 
mal creation to retain its liberty, without esta* 
blishing their own authority over any one spe- 
cies. Most of the animals, indeed, which have 
been rendered domestic in our continent, do 
not exist in the New World j but those peculiar 
to it are neither so fierce nor so formidable, as 
to have exempted them from servitude. There 
are some animals of the same species in both 
continents. But the rein-deer, which has been 
tamed and broken to the yoke in the one he- 
misphere, runs wif d in the other. The bison of 
America is manifestly of the same species with 
the homed cattle of the other hemisphere.* 
The latter, even among the rudest nations in 
our continent, have been rendered domestic ; 
and, in consequence of his dominion over them, 
man can accomplish works of laboxir with greater 
facility, and has made a great addition to his 
means of subsistence. The inhabitants of many 
regions of the New World, where the bison 
abounds, might have derived the same advan- 
tages from it. It is not of a nature so indo- 
cile, but that it might have been trained to be 
as subservient to man as our cattle.t But a 

* BufFon, Artie. Bison. 

t NouF* Decouverte par Hem^epin^ p. 192. Kalm, 



BOOK savage^ in that ttncultivated state wfa^'cdn the 
Americans were discovered, is the enemy of the 
other animals, not their superior. He wastes 
and destroys, but knows not how to multiply 
or to govern them.* 

This, perhaps, is the most notable distinction 
between the inhabitants of the Ancient and 
New Worlds, and a high pre-^eminence of dvi-^ 
lized men above such as continue rude. The 
greatest operations of man, in changing and 
improving the face of nature, as well as l|b 
most considerable effi>rts in cultivating the 
earth, are accomplished by means of the aid 
which he receives from the animals whom he 
has tamed, and employs in labour. It is by 
their strength that he subdues the stubborn soil, 
and converts the desert or marsh into a fruitful 
field. But man, in his civilized state, is so 
accustomed to the service of the domestic ani* 
mals, that he seldom reflects upon the vast be- 
nefits which he derives from it. If we were to 
suppose him, even when most improved, to be 
deprived of their useful ministry, his empire 
over nature must in some measure cease, and 
he would remain a feeble animal, at a loss how 
to subsist^ and incapable of attempting such 

• Boffon, Hitt. Nat. ix. 85. Hist. Philofl. ot Polit. des 
Etablifsem. des £urop. dans les deux lodes, vi. 364. 



arduous undertakjugs as their assistance eoaUes ^ook 
him to execute with ease. 

It is a doubtful point, whether the dominion 
of man over the animal creation, or his acquir- 
ing the use of metals, has contributed most to 
extend his power. The era of this important 
discovery is unknown, and in our hemisi^iere 
very remote. It is only by tradition, or by 
digging up some rude instruments of our fore- 
fktbers, that we leara that mankind were ori- 
ginally unacquainted with the use of metals, and 
endeavoured to supply the want of them by 
employing flints, shells, bones, and other hard 
substances, for the same purposes which metals 
serve among polished nations. Nature com- 
pletes the formation of some metals. Gold, 
silver, and copper, are found in their perfect 
state in the clefts of rocks, in the sides of 
mountains, or the channels of rivers. These 
were accordingly the metals first known, and 
"first applied to use. But iron, the most ser- 
viceable of all, and to which man is most 
indebted, is never discovered in its perfect 
form; its gross and stubborn ore must feel 
twice the force of fire, and go through two 
laborious processes, before it become fit for 
use. Man was long acquainted with the other 
metals before he acquired the art of fabricat- 
ing iron, or attained such ingenuity as to per- 
fect an invention, to which he is indebted for 

134 aiSTORT or AMEHICA. 

those instruments wherewith he subdues th# 
earth, and commands all its inhabitants. But 
in this, as well as in many other respects, the 
inferiority of the Americans was conspicuous. 
All the savage tribes scattered over the conti- 
nent and islands, were totally unacquainted 
with the metals which their soil produces in 
great abundance, if we except some trifling 
quantity of gold, which they picked up in the 
torrents that descended from their mountains, 
and formed into ornaments. Their devices to 
supply this want of the serviceable metals, wecf 
extremely rude and awkward. The most sim- 
ple operation was to them an undertaking of 
immense difficulty and labour. To fell a tr^ 
with no other instruments than hatchets of 
stone, was employment for a month.* To 
form a canoe into shape, and to hollow it, con- 
sumed years ; and it frequently b^an to rot 
before they were able to finish it*t Their 
operations in agriculture were equally slow and 
defective. In a country covered with woods 
of the hardest timber, the clearing of a small 
field destined for culture required the united 
efibrts of a tribe, and was a lyork of much time 
and great toiL This was the business of the 
men, and their indolence was satisfied with 

« Gumillft, iii, 196. 

t Borde, Relet, des Caraibes, p. 22. 

HisrrcmT of America. 125 

performing it in a very slovenly manner. * The ^^00% 
labour of cultivation ivas left to the women^ 
who, after digging, or rather stirring the field, 
with wooden mattocks, and stakes hardened in 
the fire, sowed or planted it ; but they were 
more indebted for the increase to the fertility 
of the soil, than to their own rude industry.* 

Agriculture, even when the strength of 
man is seconded by that of the animals which 
he has subjected to the yoke, ancf his power 
iaugmen ted by the use of the various instnir 
ments with which the discovery of metals has 
furnished him, is still a work of great labour ; 
and it is with the sweat of his brow that he 
renders the earth fertile. It is not wonderftil^ 
thetii that people destitute of both these advan- 
tages should have made so little progress .in 
cultivation, that th^y must be considered as 
depending for subsistence on fishing and hunt- 
ing, rather than on the fruits of their owq la- 

From this description of the mode of sub- PoUtjVatiB* 
sisiing among the rude American tribes, the n^ing'^hJ^ 
form and genius of their political instituti<ms 
may be deduced, and we are enabled to trace 

* Gumilla, iii. 166, &c. Lettr. Edif. xii. 10. 

1C6 BisTonr of ajicesica. 

BOOK yariotit circumstances of distinction between 


tliem and more civilized nations. 


1. Divided 1. Thby wwe divided into small indepem 
dent communities* While hunting is the chief 
source of subsistence, a vast extent of territory 
is requtsitefor supflorting a small number of peo« 
pie. In proportion as men multiply and unite, 
the wild animals, dn which they depend for food, 
diminish, or fly. at a greater distance from the 
haunts of their enemy. Th^ increase of a so- 
ciety in this state is limited by its own nature^ 
and the members of it must either disperse, 
like the game which they pursue, or fall iipcto 
some better method of procuring food than by 
huntings Beasts of prey are by nature soU^ 
tary and unsocial ; they go not forth to the 
chase in herds, but delight in those recesses of 
the forest where they can roam and destroy un- 
disturbed. A nation of hunters resembles them 
both in occupation and in genius. They can- 
not form into large communities, because it 
would be impossible to find subsistence ; and 
they must drive to a distance every rival who 
may encroach oh those domains which they 
consider as their own. This was the state of 
all the American tribes ; the numbers in each 
were inconsiderable, though scattered over 
countries of great extent j they were far re- 
moved from one another, and engaged in per- 


petual hostilities or rivalship.* In Amencsi, 
the word nation is not of the same import at 
in other parts of the globe. It is i^lied to 
small societies, not exceeding, perhaps, two or 
three hundred persons, but occupying pro* 
vinces greater than some kingdoms in Europe. 
The country of Gukma, though of larger 
extent than the kingdom of France, and di- 
vided among a great number of nations, did 
not contain above twenty-five thousand inha* 
bitants.t In the provinces which border on 
Ae Orinoco, one may travel several hundred 
miles in difierent directi<ms, without finding 
a single hut, or observing the footsteps of a 
human creature, t In North. America, where 
the climate is more rigorous, and the soil less 
fertile, the desolation is still greater. Hiere, 
journeys of some hundred leagues have been 
made through uninhabited plains and forests. S 
As long as hunting continues to be the chief 
employment of man, to which he trusts for 
subsistence^ he can hardly be said to have oc- 
cupied the earth. II 

* Lozanoy Deicrip. del Gran Chaco, 59. 62. Fernandez, 
Relac. HUt. de log Chequit. 162. 

f Voyages de Marchaia, W. S5S. 

i 6iimma,ii.l01. 

$ M.Fabrj, quoted by Bafib&,iii. 488. Lafitau, iL 179. 
Boasu, TraTels through Louisiana, i. 111. See Note 
XXXIIL Page 388. 

n See NoTS XXXIV. Page ^89. 



BOOK a. Nations whieh depend upon bucting are, 
in a great measure, strangers to the idea of 

Idea of 

unac property. As the animals on which the hun- 
^the ter feeds sae not bred under his inspection, 
nor nourished by his care, he can claiid no 
right to them, while they run wild in the 
forest. Where game is so plentiful that it 
may be catcfaed with little trouble, men never 
dream of appropriating what is of small value, 
or of easy acquisition. Where it is so rare, 
that the labour or danger of the chase requires 
the united efibrts of a tribe, or village, what is 
killed is a common stock, belonging equally 
to all, who, by their skill or their cours^e, 
have ccmtributed to the success c^ the excur- 
sion. The forest, or hunting-grounds, are 
deemed the property of the tribe, from which 
it has a title to exclude every rival nation. 
But no individual arrogates a right to any dis- 
trict of these, in preference to his fellow-citi- 
zens. They belong alike to all ; and thither, 
as to a general and undivided store, all repair 
in quest of sustenance. The same principles 
by which they regulate their chief occupation, 
extend to that which is subordinate. Even 
agriculture has not introduced among them a 
complete idea of property. As the men hunt, 
the women labour together, and after they have 
shared the toils of the seed-time, they enjoy the 


harvMti in common.^* Among some tribes, the ^^^ 
increase of their cultivated lands is deposited 
in a public granary, and divided among them 
at stated times, according to their wants.t 
Among others, though they lay up separate 
stores, they do not acquire such an exclusive 
light of property, that they can enjoy super- 
fluity, while thme around them sufier want.t 
Thus the distinctions arising from the inequality 
of possessions are unknown. The terms rich or 
^ar enter not into their language, and being 
strangers to property, they are unacquainted 
with what is the great object of laws and po- 
licy, as well as the chief motive which induced 
mankind to establish the various arrangements 
of regular govemment.§ 

3. People in this state retain a high sense of Higii wnte 
equality and independence. Wherever the idea andiiMk. 
of property is not established, there can be no p**"^"**^ 
distinction among men, but what" arises from 
personal qualities. These can be ccmspicuous 
only on such occasions as call them forth into 
exertion. In times of danger, or in affiurs of 

*^ Dr Ferguson's Essay, 125. 

t Gumilla, i. 265. Brickell, Hist of N. Carol. 827. 
See Note XXXV. Page S90. 

% Denys, Hist. Natur. ii. 392, 89S. 

§ P. Martyr, dec. p. 45. Veneg. Hist, of Californ. i. 66. 
Lery, Navig. in BrasU, c. 17. 
VOL. ir. I 


intricacy, the wisdom and experience of age are 
consulted; and prescribe the measures which 
ought to be pursued. When a tribe of savages 
takes the field against the enemies of their 
country, the warrior of most approved courage 
leads the youth to the combat.* If they go 
forth in a body to the chase, the most expert 
and adventurous hunter is foremost, and di- 
rects their motions. But during seasons of 
tranquillity and inaction, when there is no oc- 
casion to display those talents, all pre-eminence 
ceases. Every circumstance indicates that all 
the members of the community are on a level. 
They are clothed in the same simple garb. 
They feed on the same plain fare. Their 
houses and furniture are exactly similar. No 
distinction can arise from the inequality of 
possessions. Whatever forms dependence on 
one part, or constitutes superiority on the 
other, is unknown. All are freemen, all feel 
themselves to be such, and assert with firmness 
the rights which belong to that condition.t 
This sentiment of independence is imprinted 
so deeply in their nature, that no change of 
condition can eradicate it, and bend their 
minds to servitude. Accustomed to be abso- 

* Acosta, Hist. lib. vi. c. 19, Stadius, Hist. BrasD, \\b. 
ii. c. 13. De Bry, iii. p, 1 10. Biet, 361 . 
t Labat, vi. 124. Brickell, Hist, of Carol. 310. 





lute masters of their own conduct, they disdain 
to execute the orders of another ; and having 
never known controul, they will not submit to 
correction.^ Many of the Americans, when 
they found that they were treated as slaves by 
the Spaniards, died of grief; many destroyed 
themselves in despair.t 

4. Among people in this state, government &»wy 
can assume little authority, and the sense of 
civil subordination must remain very imperfect. 
While the idea of property is unknown, or in- 
completely conceived ; while the spontaneous 
productions of the earth, as well as the fruits 
of industry, are considered as belonging to the 
public stock, there can hardly be any such sub- 
ject of difference or discussion among the mem- 
bers of the same community, as will require 
the hand of authority to interpose in order to 
adjust it. Where the right of separate and 
exclusive possession is not introduced, the 
great object of Jaw and jurisdiction does not 
exist. When the members of a tribe are called 
into the field, either to invade the territories of 
their enemies or to repel their attacks ; when 

♦ See NoTB XXXVL Page 391. 

t Oviedo, lib. iii. c. 6. p. 97- Vega, Conquist. de la 
Florida, i. SO. ii. 416. Labat, ii. 1S8. Benzo, Hi«t. Nqy. 
Orb. lib. iv. c. 25. 


they are engaged together in the toil and dan- 
ger« of the chase, they then perceive that they 
are part of a political body. They are con- 
scious of their own connexion with the com- 
panions in conjunction with whom they act ; 
and they follow and reverence such as excel in 
conduct and valour. But, during the intervals 
between such common efforts, they seem scarce- 
ly to feel the ties of political union.* No visi- 
ble form of government is established. The 
names of magistrate and subject are not in use. 
Every one seems to enjoy his natural indepen- 
dence almost entire. If a scheme of public 
utility be proposed, the members of the com- 
munity are left at liberty to choose whether 
they will or will not assist in carrying it into 
execution. No statute imposes any service as 
a duty, no compulsory laws obUge them to per- 
form it. All their resolutions are voluntary, 
and flow from the impulse of their own minds.t 
The first step towards establishing a public ju- 
risdiction has not been taken in those rude so- 
cieties. The right of revenge is left in private 
hands.t If violence is committed, or blood is 
shed, the community does not assume the power 

* Lozano, Descr. del Gran Chaco, 93. Melendez Te- 
foros Verdaderos, ii. 23. See Note XXXVII. Page 392. 
t Charlev. Hist. N. France, iii. 266. 268. 
t Herrera, d<ec. 8. lib. iv. c. 8. 


either of inflicting or of moderating the punish- ^^^^ 
ment It belongs to the family and friends of 
tifie person injured or slain to avenge the wrong, 
or to accept of the reparation offered by the 
aggressor. If the elders interpose, it is to ad* 
vise, not to decide, and it is seldom their coun- 
sels are listened to ; for as it is deemed pusil- 
lanimous to suffer an offender to escape with 
impunity, resentment is implacable and ever- 
lasting.* The object of government among 
savages is rather foreign than domestic. They 
do not aim at maintaining interior order and 
police by public regulations, or the exertions 
of any permanent authority, but labour to pre- 
serve such union among the members of their 
tribe, that ,they may watch the motions of their 
enemies, and act against them with concert 2lnd 

Such was the form of political order esta- To what 

I • people 

bushed among the greater part of the Ameri- th(»e de. 
can nations. In this state were almost all the ^^!^ 
tribes spread over the provinces extending east- 
ward of the Mississippi, from the mouth of the 
St Laurence to the confines of Florida. In a 
similar condition were the people of Brasil, the 
inhabitants of Chili, several tribes in Paraguay 

* Charlev. Hist. K. France, iii. 271, 272. Lafit i. 486. 
CaAsani, Hist, de Nuevo Reyno de Granada, 226. 


and Guiana, and in the countries which stretch 
from the mouth of the Orinoco to the penin* 
sula of Yucatan. Among such an infinite num* 
her of petty associations, there may be pecu* 
liarities which constitute a distinction, and 
mark the various degrees of their civilization 
and improvernent. But an attempt to trace 
and enumerate these would be vain, as they 
have not been observed by persons capable of 
discerning the minute and delicate circum- 
stances, which serve to discriminate nations re« 
sembling one another in their general charac- 
ter and features. The description which I 
have given of the political institutions that took 
place among those rude tribes in America, con- 
cerning which we have received most complete 
information, will apply, with little variation, to 
every people, both in it3 northern and southern 
division, who have advanced no farther in civi- 
lization than to add some slender degree of 
agriculture to fishing and hunting. 

Imperfect as those institutions may appear, 
several tribes were not so far advanced in their 
political progress. Aitoong all those petty na^ 
tions which trusted for subsistence entirely to 
fishing and hunting, without any species of cul- 
tivation, the union was so incomplete, and their 
sense of mutual dependence so feeble, that 
hardly any appearance of government or order 
can be discerned in their proceedings. Their 


wants are few, their objects of pursuit simple^ 
they form into separate tribes, and act together 
£roni instinct, halnt, or conveniency, rather 
than from any formal concert and association. 
To this class belong the Califomians, several 
of the small nations in the extensive country 
of Paraguay, some of the people on the banks 
of the Orinoco, and on the river St Magdalene, 
in the New Kingdom of Granada.* 

Bi/T though among these last mentioned sooMifw. 
tribes there was hardly any shadow of regular ^mtmm 
government, and even among those which I 
first described its authority is slender and con- 
fined within narrow bounds, there were, how<- 
ever, some places in America where govern- 
ment was carried far beyond the degree of 
perfection which seems natural to rude nations. 
In surveying the political operations of man, 
either in his savage or civilized state, we dis- 
cover singular and eccentric institutions, which 
start as it were from their station, and fly ofi" 
so wide, that we labour uh vain to bring them 
within the general laws of any system, or to 
account for them by those principles which 
influence other communities in a similar situa- 

* Venegas, i. 68. Lettr. Edif. ii. 176. Techo, Hist, of 
Parag. ; Churchill, vi. 7a. Hist. Gen. des Voyagci, xiv. 


wanner To> 


tion. Some instances of this occur among 
those people of America, whom I have includ* 
ed under the common denomination of saoage. 
These are so curious and important, that I shall 
describe them, and attempt to explain their 

Ptaticuiar- Ijj tijg jje^ World, as well as in other parts 

ly in some ' , * 

of^ of the globe, cold or temperate countries ap- 
pear to be the favourite seat of freedom and 
independence. There the mind, like the body, 
is firm and vigorous. There men, conscious of 
their own dignity, and capable of the greatest 
efforts in asserting it, aspire to independence, 
and their stubborn spirits stoop with reluctance 
to llie yoke of servitude. In warmer climates^ 
by whose influence the whole frame is so much 
enervated, that present pleasure is the supreme 
ftlicity, and mere repose is enjoyment, men 
acquiesce, almost without a struggle, in the 
dominion of a superior. Accordingly, if we 
proceed from north to south along the conti- 
nent of America, we shall find the power of 
those vested with authority gradually increas- 
ing, and the spirit of the people becoming 
more tame and passive. In Florida, the autho- 
rity of the sachems, caziques, or chiefs, was 
not only permanent, but hereditary. They 
were distinguished by peculiar ornaments, they 
enjoyed prerogatives of various kinds, and 
were treated by their subjects with that reve- 


rence which people accustomed to subjection 
pay to a master.* Among the NatcheZy a 
powerful tribe now extinct, formerly situated 
on the banks of the Mississippi, a difference of 
rank took place, with which the northern tribes 
were altogether unacquainted. Some families 
were reputed noble, and enjoyed hereditary 
dignity. The body of the people was const* 
dered as vile, and formed only for subjection. 
This distinction was marked by appdlations 
which intimated the high elevation of the one 
state, and the ignominious 'depression of the 
other. The former were called Respectable ; 
the latter, the Stinkards. The great Chief, in 
whom the supreme authority was vested, is re- 
puted to be a being oS superior nature, the 
brother of the sun, the sole object of their wor- 
ship. They approach this great chief with 
religious veneration, and honour him as the 
representative of their deity. His will is a law 
to which all submit with implicit obedience. 
The lives of his subjects are so absolutely at 
his disposal, that if any one has incurred his 
displeasure, the offender comes with profound 
humility, and offers him his head. Nor does 

* Cardenas y Cano Ensayo ChronoL a la Hist, de Flo- 
rida, p. 46. Le Moyne de Morgues Icones Floridae, ap. 
deBry, p. 1.4*, &c. Charlev. Hist. N. Fi'ance, iii. 467> 


®^^^ the dominion of the chiefs end with their 
w^y^^ lives : their principal officers, their favourite 
wives, together with many domestics of infe- 
rior rank, are sacrificed at their tombs, that 
they may be attended in the next world by 
the same persons who served them in this ; and 
such is the reverence in which they are held, 
that those victims welcome death with exulta- 
tion, deeming it a recompense of their fidelity^ 
and a mark of distinction, to be selected to 
accompany their deceased master.* Thus a 
perfect despotism, with its full train of super- 
stition, arrogance, and cruelty, is established 
among the Natchez ; and by a singular fatality, 
that people has tasted of the worst calamities 
incident to polished nations, though they them- 
selves are not far advanced beyond the tribes 
around them in civility and improvement. In 
bkn^ Hispaniola, Cuba, and the larger islands^ their 
caziques or chiefs possessed extensive power. 
The dignity was transmitted by hereditary 
right from father to son. Its honours and 
prerogatives were considerable. Their sub- 
jects paid great respect to the caziques, and 
executed their orders without hesitation or 
reserve.t They were distii^uished by peculiar 

* Dtimont, Memoir. Hist, sur Louisiane, i. 175. Charl. 
Hist. N. France, iii. 419, &c. Lettr. Edif. 20. 106. 111. 

t Herrera, dec. 1. lib. i. c. 16. lib. iii. c. 44. p. 88. Life 
of Columbus, ch. 32. 


dmaments, and in order t6 preserve or aug- *^* 
ment the veneration of the people, they had 
the address to call in the aid of superstition 
to uphold their authority. They delivered 
their mandates as the oracles of heaven, and 
pretended to possess the power of regulating 
the seasons, and of dispensing rain or sunshine, 
according as their subjects stood in' need of 

In some parts of the southern continent, the ^ ^««* 
]H>wer of the cazigues seems to have been as 
extensive as in the hies. In Bogota, which is 
now a province of the New Kingdom of Gra- 
nada, there was settled a nation, more consi- 
derable in number, and more improved in the 
various arts of life, than any in America except 
the Mexicans and Peruvians. The people of 
Bogota subsisted chiefly by agriculture. The 
idea of property was introduced among them, 
and its rights, secured by laws, handed down 
by tradition, and observed with great care.* 
They lived in towns, which may be termed 
large when compared with those in other parts 
of America. They were clothed in a decent 
manner, and their houses may be termed com* 
modious, when compared with those of the 

t Piedrahita, Hist, de las Conquist. del N. Reyoo de 
Gran. p. 46. 


BOOK small tribes around them. The effects' of thi« 


uncommon civilization were conspicuous. Go- 
vernment had assumed a regular form. A 
jurisdiction was established, which took cog- 
nizance of different crimes, and punished them 
with rigour. A distinction of ranks was 
known : their chief, to whom the Spaniards 
gave the title of Monarch, and who merited 
that name on account of his splendour as well 
as power, reigned with absolute authority. 
He was attended by officers of various condi- 
tions ; he never appeared in public without a 
numerous retinue ; he was carried in a sort of 
palanquin with much pomp, and harbingers 
went before him to sweep the road and strew 
it with flowers. This uncommon pomp was 
supported by presents or taxes received from 
his subjects, to whom their prince was such an 
object of veneration, that none of them pre- 
sumed to look him directly in the face, or ever 
approached him but with an averted counte- 
nance.* There were other tribes on the same 
continent, among which, though far less ad- 
vanced than the people of Bogota in their 
progress towards refinement, the freedom and 
independence, natural to man in his savage 

* Herrera, dec. 6. lib. i. c. 2. lib. v. c. 56. Piedrahita, 
c. 5. p. 25, &c. Gomara, Hist. c. 72. 


Itate, was much abridged^ aod their caziques book 
had assumed ^Ltensive authority. 


It is not easy to point out the circumstancest 2S^^ 
or to discover the causes, which contributed to guhr ap. 
introduce and establish among each of those 
people a form of government so different from 
that of the tribes around them, and so repug* 
nant to the genius of rude nations. If the per- 

^ sons who had an opportunity of observing them 
in their original state had been more attentive 
and more discerniog, we might have received 
information from their conquerors sufficient to 
guide us in this inquiry. If the transactions of 
people, unacquainted with the use of lettws, 
were not involved in impenetrable obscurity, 
we might have derived some information from 
this domestic source^ But as nothing satis&c- 
tory can be gathered, either from the accounts 
of the Spaniards or from their own traditions, 
we must have recourse to conjectures, in order 
to explain the irregular appearances in the po« 
litical atate of the people whom I have meu** 
timied. As all those tribes which had lost 
their native liberty and independence were 
seated in the torrid zone, or in countries ap- 
preaching to it, the climate may be supposed 
to have had some influence in forming their 
minds to that servitude, which seems to be the 
destiny of man in those regions of the globe. 

" But though the influence of pUmate, more 


BOOK powerful than that of any other natural catise^ 
is not to be overlooked ; that alone cannot be 
admitted as a solution of the point in question* 
The operations of men are so complex, that 
we must not attribute the form which they as* 
sume to the force of a single principle or cause. 
Although despotism be confined in America 
to the torrid zone» and to the warm regions 
bordering upon it, I have already observed that 
these countries contain various tribes, some of 
which possess a high degree of freedom, and 
others are altogether unacquainted with the re* 
straints of govermnent. The indolence and ti- 
midity peculiar to the inhabitants of the islands^ 
render them so incapable of the sentiments or 
effi)rt» necessary for maintaining independence, 
that there is no occasion to search for any 
other cause of their tame submission to the 
will of a superior. The subjection of the 
Natchez, and of the people of Bogota, seems 
to have been the consequence of a difference 
in their state from that of the other Ameri- 
cans. They were settled nations, residing 
constantly in one place. Hunting was not 
the chief occupation of the former, and the 
latter seem hardly to have trusted to it for 
any part of their subsistence. Both had made 
such progress in agriculture and arts, that the 
idea of property was introduced in some de- 
gree in the one community, and fully esta- 
blished in the other. Among people in this 


3tate, avarice and ambition have acquired ob* 
jects^ and have begun to exert their power; 
views of interest allure the selfish ; the desire 
of pre-eminence excites the enterprising ; do« 
minion is courted by both ; and passions un- 
known to man in his savage state, prompt 
the interested and ambitious to encroach on 
the rights of their fellow-citizens. Motives, 
with which rude nations are equally unac* 
qualnted, induce the people to submit tamely 
to the usurped authority of their superiors. 
But even among nations in this state, the spirit 
of. subjects could not have been rendered so 
obsequious, or the power of rulers so un* 
bounded, without the intervention of super- 
stition. By its fatal influence, the human 
mind, in every stage of its progress, is de- 
pressed, and its native vigour and indepen- 
dence subdued. Whoever can acquire the 
direction of this formidable engine, is secure 
of dominion avei his species. Unfortunately 
for the people whose institutions are the sub- 
ject of inquiry, this power was in the hands of 
their chiefs. The caziques of the isles could 
put what responses they pieced into the 
mouths of their Cemis or gods ; and it was by 
their interposition, and in their name, that 
they imposed any tribute or burden on their 
people.* The same power and prerogative 

* Herrera, decl. lib. iii. c. 3r 



was exercised by the great chief of the Nat^ 
chez, as the principal minister as well as the 
representative of the Sun, their deity. The 
respect which the people of Bogota paid to 
their monarchs was likewise inspired by reli- 
gion, and the heir-apparent of the kingdom 
was educated in the innermost recess of their 
principal temple, under such austere disci- 
pline, and with such peculiar rites, as tended 
to fill his subjects with high sentiments con- 
cerning the sanctity of his character, and the 
dignity of his station.* Thus superstition, 
which, in the rudest period of society, is either 
altogether unknown, or wastes its force in 
childish unmeaning practices, had acquired 
such an ascendant over those people of Ame- 
rica, who had made some little progress to- 
wards refinement, that it became the chief in- 
strument of bending their minds to an untime- 
ly servitude, aud subjected them, in the begin- 
ning of their political career, to a despotism 
hardly less rigorous than that which awaits na- 
tions in the last stage of their corruption and 

S^wlL"* ^- After examining the political institu- 
tions of the rude nations in America, the 
next object of attention is their art of war, or 

♦ Piedrahita,p.27, 


th^r provision for public security and defence. 
The small tribes dispersed over America are 
not only independent and unconnected, but 
engaged in perpetual hostilities with one an- 
other.* Though mostly strangers to the idea 
of separate property vested in any individual, 
the rudest of the American nations are well 
acquainted with the rights of each community 
to its own domains. This right they hold to 
be perfect and exclusive, entitling the pos- 
sessor to oppose the encroachment of neigh- 
bouring tribes. As it i$ of the utmost con- 
sequence to prevent them from destroying or 
disturbing the game in their hunting grounds, 
they guard this national property with a jea^ 
lous attention. But as their territories are 
extensive, and the boundaries of them not ex- 
actly ascertained, innumerable subjects of dis- 
pute arise, which seldom terminate without 
bloodshed. Even in this simple and primitive 
state of society, interest is a source of discord, 
and oflen prompts savage tribes to take arms, 
in order to repel or punish such as encroach on 
the forests or plains, to which they trust for 

But interest is not either the most freqnent . 
or the most powerfld motive of the incessant •i^nm 



* Ribas, Hist, de los Triumf. p. 9. 

146 blSTOllY OF AM£ftlCA. 

BOOK hoatilities among rude nations. These must 
be imputed to the passtoh of revenge, which 

rages with such violence in the breast of sa- 
vages, that eagerness to gratify it may be con- 
sidered as the distinguishing characteristic of 
men in their uncivilized state. Circumstances 
of powerAil influence, both in the interior go- 
vernment of rude tribes, and in their external 
operations against foreign enemies, concur in 
cherishing and adding strength to a passion 
fatal to the general tranquillity. When the 
right of redressing his own wrongs is left in 
the hands of every individual, injuries are felt 
with exquisite sensibility, and vengeance exer* 
cised with unrelenting rancour. No time can 
obliterate the memory of an offence ; and it is 
seldom that it can be expiated but . by the 
blood of the o^nder. In carrjdng on their 
public wars, savage nations are influenced by 
the same ideas, and animated with the same 
spirit, as in prosecuting private vengeance. 
Fran the In Small commuuities, every man is touched 
with the injury or affiont offered to the body 
<^ which he is a member, as if it were a per- 
sonal attack upon his own honour or safety. 
The desire of revenge is communicated from 
breast to breast, and soon kindles into rage. 
As feeble societies can take the field only in 
small parties, each warrior is conscious of the 
importance of his own arm, and feels that to 

q>irit of 


it is coimnitted a considerable portion of the ^^k 
public vengeMCie. War, which between ex- 

tensive kingdoms i& carried on with little ani- 
mosity, is prosecuted by small tribes with all 
the TsbKour of a private quarrel. The resent* 
ment of nations is as implacable as that of in- 
tlividuals. It may be dissembled or suppressed, H«icedic 
but is never extinguished; and often, when Sa^ 
least expected or dreaded* it bursts out with 
redoubled fury.* When polished nations have 
obtained the glory of victoiy, or have acquired 
an addition of territory, they may terminate a 
war with honour. But savages are not satis- 
fied until they extirpate the community which 
is the object of Ikeir hatred. They fight, not 
to conquer, but to destroy* If they engage 
in hostilities, it is with a resolution never to 
see the face of the enemy in peace, but to 
I»*osecute the quarrel with immortal emnity.t 
The desire of vengeance is the first, and almost 
the only principle, which a savage instils into 
the minds of his children.]: This grows up 

• Boucbery Hi«t. Nat de N. France* p. 93. Charlev. 
Hist, de N. Fr«&ce^ lii, 215. 251. Lery up. de Bry, Ui. 20i. 
Creittii Hist. Canad. p. 72. Lozano» Descr. del Gran 
Chacoy 25. Hennep. Moeurs des Sauv. 40. 

t Charlev. Hist. N. Pr. iii. 251. Colden, i. 108. ii. 126, 
Barrere, p. 170. 173. 

X Charlev. Hist. N.Fr. iii. S26. Lery i^. de Biy^ iii, 8S€. 
Xiossaoo> Hist de Parng. L 14<4. 


BOOK ^ith him as he advances in life ; and as hi^ 


attention is directed to few objects, it acquires 
a degree of force unknown among men whose 
passions are dissipated and weakened by the 
variety of their occupations and pursuits. The 
desire of vengeance, which takes possession of 
the heart of savages, resembles the instinctive 
rage of an animal, rather than the passion 
of a man. It turns, with undisceming fury, 
even against inanimate objects. If hurt acci- 
dentally by a stone, they often seize it in a 
transport of anger, and endeavour to wreak 
their vengeance upon it.* If struck with an 
arrow in a battle, they will tear it from the 
wound, break and bite it with their teeth, and 
dash it on the ground.t With respect to their 
enemies, the rage of vengeance knows no 
bounds.^ When under the dominion of this 
passion, man becomes the most cruel of all 
animals. He neither pities, nor for^ves, nor 

The force of this passion is so well under- 
stood by the Americans themselves, that they 
always apply to it, in order to excite their 
people to take arms. If the elders of any 
tribe attempt to rouse their youth from sloth, 

♦ Lcry ap. de Bry, iii, 190. 

t Lery ap. de Bry, iii. 208. Herrera, dec. i. lib. vi. c. «- 



if a chief wishes to allure a band* of warriors to book 
follow him in invading an enemy^s country, 
the most persuasive topics of their martial elo- 
quence are drawn from revenge. <* The bones 
of our countrymen/' say they, " lie uncover- 
ed; their bloody bed has not been washed 
clean. Their spirits cry against us ; they must 
be appeased. Let us go and devour the people 
by whom they were slain. Sit no longer inac- 
tive upon your mats ; lift the hatchet, console 
the spirits of the dead, and tell them that they 
shall be avenged."* 

Animated with such exhortations, the youth na 
snatch their arms in a transport of fiiry, raise 
the song of war, and bum with impatience to 
embrue their hands in the blood of their ene- 
mies. Private chiefs often assemble small par- 
ties, and invade a hostile tribe, without con- 
sulting the rulers of the community. A single 
warrior, prompted by caprice or revenge, will 
take the field alone, and march several hun- 
dred miles to surprise and cut off a straggh'ng 
enemy .t The exploits of a noted warrior, in 
such solitary excursions, often form the chief 
part in the history of an American campaign ;t 

* Charley. Hist. N- Fr. iii, 216, 217. Lery ap. de Bry, 
t See Note XXXVIII, Page 393. 
t See Note XXXIX. Page S93. . 


iRooisi and thmr elders connive at lucfa irregular sal* 
%J^ MeB, M they tend to cherish a martial spirit, 
and aecuitom their people to enterprise and 
danger.* But when a war is national, and 
undertaken by public authority, the dclibe- 
rations are formal and slow. The elders as- 
semble, they deliver thdir opinions in solemn 
speeches, they weigh with maturity the Mture 
<tf the enterprise, and balance its bem^ial or 
disadvantageous consequences with no incon- 
siderable portion of political discernment or 
sagacity. Their priests and soothsayers are 
consulted, and sometimes they ask the advice 
even of their women, t If the determination 
be for war, they prepare for it with much cere- 
mony. A leader ofkt% to conduct the expe* 
ditioh, and is accepted. But no man is con- 
strained to follow him i the resolution of the 
' community to commence hostilities imposes no 
obligation upon any member to take part in 
the war. Bach individual is still master of his 
own conduct, and his engagement in the ser- 
vice is perfectly voluntary.t 

Mfideof The maxims by which they regulate their 
"^^ military operations, though extremely different 

* BoMu, i. 140. Lery ap. de Bry, 215. Hennepin, 
Moeurs des Sauv. 41. Lafitau, ii. 169. 
t Charlev, Hist. N. Fr.215. «68. Biet, 367. 380. 
i Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. 217, 218. 


firtm thoie which take place among more dvi- book 
U«ed and populoiis nations, are well suited to 
their own political state, and the nature of the 
country in which they act. They never take 
the field in numerous bodies, as it would re- 
quire a greater effort of foresight and industry 
than is usual am<H^ savages, to provide fbr 
their subsistence, during a march of some hun- 
dred milea through dreary forests, or during a 
long voyage upon their l^es and rivers. Their 
annies are not encumbered with baggage or 
military stores. Each warrior, besides his arms, 
carries a mat and a small bag of pounded maize, 
and with these is completely equipped for any 
service. While at ,a distance from the enemy^s 
frontier, they disperse through the woods, and 
support themselves with the gaose which they 
kill, or the fish which they catch. As they 
af^roach nearer to the territories of the nation 
which they intend to attack, they collect their 
troops, and advance with greater caution. Even 
in their hottest and most active wars, th^ pro- 
ceed whoUy by stratagem and ambuscade. They 
place not tiieir glory in attacking their enemies 
with apm force. To surprise and destroy is 
the greatest merit of a commander, and the 
highest pride of his followers. War and hunt- 
ing are their only occupations, and they con- 
duct both with the same spirit and the same 
arts. They follow the track of their enemies 
through the forest. They endeavour to disco- 


^9^^ veritheir haants, theyiurk in some thicket n«ar 
to the0e» and, with the patience of a sportsman 
lymg in i wait for game, will continue in their 
station day after day, until they can rush upon 
their prey when most seoire, and least able to 
re^at thetn. If they meet no strag^dng party 
of the enemy, they, advance towards their vil- 
lages^ but with wch. solicitude to conceal their 
own approach, that they dBbeii creep on their 
hands and feet through the woods, and paint 
their skins of the same colour with the wither- 
ed leaves, in order to avoid detection** If so 
fortunate as to remain unobserved, they set on 
fire the enensies'. huts in the dead of night, and 
massacre the inhabitants, as they fly naked and 
defenceless from the flames. If they hope to 
effect a retr^t without being pursued, they 
carry off some prisoners, whom they reserve for 
a more dreadful fkte. But if, notwithstanding 
all their address and precautions, they find 
that their motions are discovered, that the ene* 
my has taken the alarm, and is prepared to 
oppose them, they usually deem it most prudent 
to retire. They regard it as extreme folly to 
meet an enemy who is on his guard, upon equal 
terms, or, to give battle in an open field. The 
most distinguished success is a disgrace to a 

♦ Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. iii. 237,238. H«nnep. Moeurs 
des Sauv, p. 59. 


leader, if it has been purchased with any con- boo« 
sideraUe loss of his followers,* and they never -u, ^^^r 
boast of a victory, if stained with the Mood <^ 
their own countrymen.t To fall in battle, in- 
stead of being reckoned an honourable death, " ' 
is a misfortune which subjects the memory of 
a warrioi" to the imputation of rashness or im- 

TnissystAn of war was universal in Ameri-> Notowii^ 
ca ; and the small uncivilized tribes, diqiersed ZTi 
through all its diflerent regions and climates^ ^^^"^^"'^ 
display more craft than boldness in carrying on 
their hostilities. Struck with this conduct, so 
q^posite to the ideas and maxims of Europeans, 
several authors contend that it flows from a 
feeble and dastardly i^irit peculiai* to the Ame- 
ricans, which is incapable of any generous or 
manly exertion. § But when we reflect that 
many of these tribes, on occasions which Call 
for extraordinary efforts, not only defend them- 
selves with obstinate resolution, but attack their 
enemies with the most daring courage, and that 
they possess fortitude of mind superior to the 

* See Note XL. Page ^93. 

t Charlev. Hist- N, Fr. iii. 2S8. 307. Biet, 381. Lafi- 
tau, Moeun des Sauy. ii. 24^. 

t Charlev. iii. 376- See Note XLI. Page 394. 

§ Recherches Phiios. sur les Americ. i. 115. Vojrage 
de March. W. 410. 


ffoos. aense of danger or the fear of death, we must 
ascribe their habitual caution •to some other 
cause than constitutional timidity.* The num<- 
ber of. men in each tribe is so small, the diffi* 
culty of rearing new members amidst the hard- 
ships and dangers of savage life so great, that 
the life of a citizen is extremely precious, and 
the preservation of it becomes a capital object 
in their policy. Had the point of honour been 
the same among the feeble American tribes as 
amcHig the powetiul nations of £urope; had 
they been taught to court fame or victory in 
contempt of danger and death, they must have 
been ruined by maxims so ill adapted to their 
condition. But wherever their communities 
are more populous, so that they can act with 
considerable force, and can sustain the loss of 
several of their members without being sen- 
sibly weakened, the military operations of the 
Americans more nearly resemble those of other 
nations. The Brasilians, as well as the tribes 
situated upon the banks of the river De la 
Plata, often take the field in such numerous 
bodies as deserve the name of armies.! They 
defy their enemies to the combat, engage in 
regular battles, and maintain the conflict with 

* Lafitaui Moeurs des Sauv. ii. 248, 249. Charkv. N. 
Fr. iii, 307. 
t Fabri Veriss. Descrip. Indiae ap. de Brjr, vii. 42. 

of €ratf Of 


that deqpefate ferocity, whidi is natural to man >^k 
mho^ having no idea of war but that of exter- 
minating their enemies, never give or take 
quarter.* In the powerful empires of Mexico 
and Peru, great armies were assembled, fre- 
quent battles were fought, and the theory as 
wdl as practice of war were different from 
what took place in those petty societies which 
assume the name of nations. 

But though vigilance and attention are the 
qualities chiefly requisite, where the object of 
war is to deceive and to surprise ; and though 
the Americans, when acting singly, display an 
amazix^ degree of address in concealing their 
own motions, and discovering those of an 
enemy, yet it is remarkable, that, when they 
take the field in parties, they can seldom be 
brought to observe the precautions most essen- 
tial to their own security. Such is the diffi- 
culty of accustoming savages to subordination, 
or to act in concert ; such is their impatience 
under restraint, and such their caprice and 
presumption, that it is rarely they can be 
brought to conform themselves to the counsels 
and directions of their leaders. They never 
station sentinels around the place where they 
rest at night ; and after marching some bun- 

« See NoTB XLU. Page 3^5. 





dred miles to surprise an enemy, are often sur* 
prised themselves, and cut off, while sunk in 
as profound sleep as if they .were not within 
reach of danger.* 

If, notwithstanding this negligence and se* 
curity, which often frustrate their most artful 
schemes, they catch the enemy unprepared, 
they rush upon them with the utmost ferocity, 
and tearing off the scalps of all those who fall 
victims 'to their rage,t they carry home those 
strange trophies in triumph. These they pre- 
serve as monuments, not only of their own 
prowess, but of the vengeance which their 
arm >has inflicted upon the people who were 
objects of public resentment. 1^ They are still 
more solicitous to seize prisoners. During 
their retreat, if they hope to eflfect it unmo- 
lested, the prisoners are commonly exempt 
from any insult, and treated witii some degree 
of humanity, though guarded with the most 
strict attention. 

^'^SoT' ^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ temporary suspension, the 

«8. rage of the conquerors rekindles with new 

fury. As soon as they approach their own 

* Charlcv. N. Fr. iii. 236, 237. Lettr. Edif. 17. 308/ 
20. 130. Lafit. Moeura, 247. Lahontan, iL 176. 
t See Note XLIIL Page 395. 
i Lafit. Moeurs, ii. 256. 


frontier, some of their number are despatched 
to inform their countrymen with respect to the 
success of the expedition. Then the prisoners 
begin to feel the wretchedness of their condi- 
tion. The women of the village, together 
with the youth who have not attained to the 
age of bearing arms, assemble, and formii^ 
themselves into two lines, through which the 
prisoners must pass, beat and bruise them with 
sticks or stones in a cruel manner.* After 
this first gratification of their rage against their 
enemies, follow lamentations for the loss of 
such of their own countrymen as have fallen 
in the service, accompanied with words and 
actions which seem to express the utmost an- 
guish and grief. But in a moment, upon a 
signal given, their tears cease ; they pass, with 
a sudden and unaccountable transition, from 
the depths of sorrow to transports of joy ; 
and begin to celebrate their victory with all 
the wild exultation of a barbarous triumph.t 
The fate of the prisoners remains still unde- 
cided. The old men deliberate concerning it. 
Some are destined to be tortured to death, in 
order to satiate the revenge of the conquerors; 
some to replace the members which the com- 
munity has lost in that or former wars. They 

* Ldiontan, ii. 184*. ' 

t Chttrtey. Hist. N. Fr. iii. 241. Lafit. Moeur«, ii. 264. 


HISTORY or Alf£Rl€A. 


who are reserved for this milder fate, are led 
to the huts of those whose friends have been 
killed. The women meet them at the door* 
and if they receive theoii their su^rings are 
at an end. They ane adopted into the family, 
and according to their phrase, are seated uJkmi 
ibe mat of the deceased. They assume his 
name, they hold <lie same rank, and are treat- 
ed thenceforward with all the tenderness due 
to a father, a brother, a husband, or a friend* 
But if, either from«cilprice or an unrelenting 
desire of revenge, the women of any family 
refuse to accept of the prisoner who is offered 
to them, his doom is fixed. No power can 
then save him from torture and death. 


their fate^ 

and foiti- 
tude under 

While their lot is in suspense, the prisoners 
themselves appear altogether unconcerned 
about what may befal them. They talk, they 
eat, they sleep, as if they were perfectly at 
ease, and no danger impending. When the 
fatal sentence is intimated to them, they de- 
ceive it with an unaltered countenance, raise 
their death-song, and prepare to ^sufier like 
men. Their conquerors assemble as to a so* 
lemn festival, resolved to put the fortitude of 
the cslptive to the utmosit proof. A stene en* 
sues, the bare description of which is enough 
to chill the heart with horror, wherever men 
have been accustomed, by milder inatttutions, 
to respect their species, and to melt into ten- 


demess at tlie sight of human safferii^^B^ The book 
prisoners are tied naked to a stake, but so as to 
be at liberty to move round it. All who are 
present, men, women, and children, rush upon 
them like furies. Every species of torture is 
applied that the rancour of revenge ean mvent* 
ScMne bum their limbs with red-hot irons, some 
mangle their bodies with knives, others tear 
their flesh from their bones, pluck out their 
nails by the roots, and rend and twist their 
sinews. They vie with one another in refine- 
ments of torture. Nothing sets bounds to their 
rage but the dread of abridging the duration 
of their vengeance by hastening the death of 
the sufferers ; and such is their cruel ingenuity 
in tormenting, that, by avoiding industriously 
to hurt any vital part, they often prolong this 
scene of anguish for several days. In spite of 
all that they suffer, the victims continue to 
chant their. death»song with a firm voice, they 
boast of their own exploits, they insult their 
tormentors for their want of skill in avenging 
their friends and relations, they warn them of 
the vengeance which awaits them on account 
of what they are now doing, and excite their 
ferocity by the most provoking reproaches and 
threats. To dii^Uy undaunted foititude in 
such dreadful situations, is the noblest triumph 
of a warrior. To avoid the trial by a volun^ 
taiy death, or to shrink under it, is deemed 
infamous and cowardly. If any one betray 



symptoms of timidity, his tormentors often des- 
patch him at once with contempt, as unworthy 
of being treated like a man.* Animated with 
those ideas, they endure, without a groan, what 
it seems almost impossible that human nature 
should sustain. They appear to be not only 
insensible of pain, but to court it. " Forbear,*' 
said an aged chief of the Iroquois, when his 
insults had provoked one of his tormentors to 
wound him with a knife, " forbear these stabs 
of your knife, and rather let me die by fire, that 
those dogs, your allies, from beyond the sea, 
may learn by my example to suffer like men.'^t 
This magnanimity, of which there are frequent 
instances among the American warriors, in- 
stead of exciting admiration, or calling forth 
sympathy, exasperates the fierce spirits of their 
torturers to fresh acts of cruelty .t We^iy, at 
length, of contending with men whose con- 
stancy of mind they cannot vanquish, some 
chief, in a rage, puts, a period to their suf- 
ferings, by despatching them with his dagger 
or club.§ 

* De la Potherie, ii. 2S7. m. 4A. 

f Golden, Hist, of Five Nations, i. 200. 

:( Voyages de Lahont. i. 236. r. 

§ Charlev. Hist. N. Fran. iii. 243, &c. 385. Lafit. 
Moeurs, iL 265* Creuxii Hist. Canad. p. 73. Hennep. 
Moeurs des Sauv. p. 64, &c. Lahont. i. ^3, &c Tertre, 
ii. 405. De la Potherie, ii. 22, Sec. 


This barbarous scene is often succeeded by 
one no less shocking. As it is impossible to 
appease the fell spirit of revenge which rages 
in the heart of a savage," this frequently 
prompts the Americans to devour those un» 
happy persons who have been the victims of 
their cruelty. In the ancient world, tradition 
has preserved the piemory of barbarous na- 
tions of cannibals, who fed on human flesh. 
But in every part of the New World there 
were people to whom this custom was iamiliar. 
It prevailed in the southern continent,* in 
several of the islands,! and in various districts 
of North America.^ Even in those parts, 
where circumstances, with which we are un- 
acquainted, had in a great measure abolished 
this practice, it seems formerly to have been 
so well known, that it is incorporated into the 
idiom of their language. Among the Iroquois, 
the phrase by which they express their resolu- 
tion of making war against an enemy is, '^ Let 
us go and eat that nation.'^ If they solicit the 
aid of a neighbouring tribe, they invite it to 
" eat broth made of the flesh of their ene- 

*■ Stadius ap. de Bry, iii. 12S. Lery, ibid. 210. Biet, 
384. Lettr. Edif, 2S..S41. Piso, 8. Condamine, M. 97. 
Ribas, Hist, de los Triumf. 4<7S. 

t Life of Columb. 529. Mart. Dec. p. 18. Tertre, ii. 

% Dumont, Mem. i. 2^. Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. i. 259. 
ii. 14. iii. 21. De la Potherie; iiL 50.- 
VOL. II. L , 


BOOK mies/'* Nor Was the pt^ttice pecuH<tf to rode 
v^pyl^/ ufipc^ished tribes j the priacipte from which it 
took rise is so deefidy footed in the tniiKls of 
the Americaniii that it subsisted in Mexico, 
one of the civilized empires in the New World ; 
and relics of it may be discovered among the 
more mild inhabitants of Peru. It wias not 
scarcity of food, as some authors imagine, and 
the importunate cravings of hunger, which 
forced the Americans to those horrid repasts 
on their fellow-creatures. Human ^esh was 
never used as common food in d-tty country, 
and the various relations concerning people 
who reckoned it among the stated means of 
subsistence, flow from the credulity and mis- 
takes of travellers. The rancour of revenge 
first prompted men to this barbarous action.t 
The fiercest tribes devoured none but prisoners 
taken in war, or such as they regarded as ene^ 
mies.t Women and children, who were not 
the objects of enmity, if not cut off in the fury 
of their first inroad into an hostile country, sel- 
dom suffered by the deliberate effects of their 
revenge. S 

* Charkv. Hist N. Fr. iii. fi08, 309. Lettir. £di£ «S. 
p. 277. De la Pdtberie, 11,298. See Note XLIV. PageS9e. 

t Biet, 383. Blanco, Conversion de Piritu, p. 28. Ban- 
croft, Nat. Hfait of Guiana, p. 259, &c. 

t See Note XLV. Page 396. 

§ Biet, 382. Bandini, Tita di Amerigo, 84. Tmrfej 
405. Fermin, Descrip. de Sarin, i. 54f. 


Titfi {)eoi4e of South America gratify ibeir book 
feveiige in a manner somewhat different, but 
with no less unrelenting rso^cour. Their pri- 
soners, after meeting at their first entrance with 
the same rough reception as among the North 
Americans,* are not only exempt from injury, 
but treated with the greatest kindness* They 
are feasted and caressed, and some beautiful 
young women are appointed to attend and so- 
tebe them. It is not easy to account for this 
part 1^ their conduct, unless we impute it to a 
Mfinement in cruelty. For, while they seem 
studious to attach the captives to life, by sup- 
plying them with every enjoyment that can 
render it agreeable, their doom is irrevocably 
fixed. Oh a day appcmited, the victorious tribe 
assembles, the prisoner is brought forth with 
great soletanity, he views the preparations for 
the Sacrifice with as much indifference as if he 
himself were not the victim, and, meeting his 
fate with undaunted firmness, is despatched with 
a singte biow« The moment he falls, the wo- 
men seize the body, and dress it for the feast. 
They besmear dbeir children with the blood, 
in order to kindle in tilieir bosoms a hatred of 
their enemies, Whidi is never extinguished ) and 
all jmn in feeding upon the flesh with amazing 

* Sladius ap. de Bry, iii. p. 40. 123. 


greediness and exultation.* To devour the 
body of a slaughtered eijemy, they deem the 
most com'plete and exquisite gratification of re- 
venge. Wherever this practice prevails, cap- 
tives never escape death, but they are not t<Mr- 
tured with the same cruelty as among tribes 
which are less accustomed to such horrid 
feasts, t 

As the constancy of every American warrior 
may be put to such severe proof, the great ob- 
ject of military education and discipline in the 
New World, is to form the mind to sustain it 
When nations carry on war with open force, 
defy their enemies to the combat, and vanquish 
them by the superiority of their skill or courage, 
soldiers are trained to be active, vigorous, an4 
enterprising. But in America, where the ge- 
nius and maxims of war are extremely different, 
passive fortitude is the quality in highest esti- 
mation. Accordingly, it is early the study of 
the Americans to acquire sentiments and ha- 
bits, which will enable them to behave like 
men, when their resolution shall be put to the 
proof. As the youth of other nations exercise 
themselves in feats of activity and force, those 
of America vie with one another in exhibitions 

* Stadius ap. de Bry, iiL 128, &c. Lery, ibid. 210. 
t See Note XL VI. Page 397. 


of their patience under suflferings. They har- ROok 
den their nerves by those voluntary trials, and 
gradually accustom themselves to endure the 
sharpest pain without complaining* A boy 
and girl will bind their naked arms together, 
and place a burning coal between them, in or- 
der to try who first discovers such id^atience 
as to shake it off.* All the trials customary 
in America, when a youth is admitted into the 
class of warriors, or when a warrior is promot- 
ed to the dignity of captain or chief, are ac- 
commodated to this idea of manliness. Tliey 
are not disphys of valour, but of patience ; 
they are not exhibitions of their ability to of- 
fend, but of their capacity to suffer. Among 
the tribes on the banks of the Orinoco, if a 
warrior aspires to the rank of captain, his pro- 
bation begins with a long fast, more rigid Uian 
any ever observed by the most abstemious her- 
mit. At the close of this the chiefs assemble ; 
each gives him three lashes with a large whip, 
applied so vigorously, that^ his body is almost 
flayed, and if he betrays the least symptom of 
impatience, or even sensibility, he is disgraced 
for ever, and rejected as unworthy of the ho- 
nour to which he aspires. - After some interval, 
the constancy of the candidate is proved by a 
more excruciating trial. He is laid in a ham- 

♦ Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. iii.,307. 


MOK mock with his hands bound jfast, and an innu- 
merable multitude of venomous ants, whose 
Inte occasions exquisite pain, and produces a 
violent inflammation, are thrown; upon him. 
The judges of his merit stand around the ham- 
mock, aji»d, while these cruel insects fasten upon 
the most sensible parts of his body, a sigh, a 
groan, an involuntary motion expressive of 
what he suffers, would exclude him for ever 
from the rank of captain. Even after this evi- 
dence of his fortitude, it is not deemed to be 
completely ascertained, but must stand another 
test more. dreadful than any he has hitherto un- 
dergone. He is again suspended in his ham^ 
mock, and covered with leaves of the palmetto. 
A fijfe of stiukii^ herbs is kindled underneath, 
so as he may feel its h^t, and be imvolved in 
it3 smoke. Though scorched and almost sufib- 
cated, he must continue to endure with the 
same patient insensibility. Many perish in this 
rude essay of their firmness and courage, but 
such as go throi^h it with api^use, receive 
the ensigns of their new dignity with much 
solemnity, and are ever after regarded as lead- 
ers of approved resolution, whofite behaviour, in 
the most trying situations, will do honour to 
their country.* In North America, the pre- 
vious trial of a warrior is neither so formal nor 

* GuBailla, ii. 296, &c. Biet, S76, Ac. 


<o sevei^ ; tfaoiigh even there, before t youth •^^^ 
13 permitted to bear arms, bis patience add for^ 
titude are proved by blows, by fire, and by in** 
suits, more intolerable to a haughty spirit thau 

The amazing steadiness with which the 
Americans endure the most exquisite torments, 
has induced soine authors to suppose that, from 
the peculiar feebleness of their frame, their sen» 
sibility is not so acute as that of other people ; 
as women, and persons of a relaxed habit, are 
observed to be less afiected with pain than ro- 
bust men, whose nerves are more firmly braced. 
But the constitution of the Americans is not so 
different, in its texture, from that of the rest of 
the human species, as to account fi^r this diver- 
sity in their behaviour. It flows from a prin- 
ciple of honour, instilled eaily, and cultivated 
with such care, as to inspire man in his rudest 
state with an heroic magnanimity, to which 
philosophy hath endeavoured, in vain, to form 
him, when more highly improved and pcrfished. 
This invincible constancy he has been taught 
to consider as the chief distinction of a man, 
and the highest attainment of a warrior. The 
ideas which influence his conduct, and the pas- 
sions which take possession of his heart, are 

♦ Charlev. Hist. N, Fr. iii. 219. 


few. They operate of course with more deci- 
sive effect, than when the mind is crowded with 
a multiplicity of objects, or distracted by the 
variety of its pursuits ; and when every motive 
that acts with any force in forming the senti- 
ments of a savage, prompts him to suffer with 
, dignity, he will bear what might seem to be 
impossible for human patience to sustain. But 
wherever the fortitude of the Americans is not 
roused to exertion by their ideas of honour, 
theit feelings of pain are the same with those 
of the rest of mankind.* Nor is that patience 
under sufferings, for which the Americans have 
been so justly celebrated, an universal attain- 
ment. The constancy of many of the victims 
is overcome by the agonies of torture. Their 
weakness and lamentations complete the. tri- 
umph of their enemies, and reflect disgrace 
upon their own country.t 

Wasted by ^ The perpetual hostilities carried on among 
tu^JwT^ the American tribes, are productive of very 
fatal effects. Even in seasons c£ public tran- 
quillity, their imperfect industry does not sup- 
ply them with any superfluous store of pro- 
visions ^ but when the irruption of an enemy 

♦ See Note XLVII. Page 398. 
t Charlev. Hwt. N. Fr. Jii. 248. 385. De la Potherie, 
iii. 48. 


desolates their cultivated lands, or disturbs 
them in their hunting excursions, such a cala- 
mity reduces a community, naturally improvi- 
dent and destitute of resources, to extreme 
want. All the people of the district that is 
invaded, are frequently forced to take refuge 
in woods or mountains, which can afibrd them 
little subsistence, and where many of them 
perish. Notwithstanding their excessive cau- 
tion in conducting their military operations, 
and the solicitude of every leader to preserve 
the lives of his followers, as the rude tribes in 
America seldoiti enjoy any interval of peace, 
the loss of men among them is considerable in 
proportion to the degree of population. Thus 
famine and the sword combine in thinning 
their numbers. All their communities are 
feeble, and nothing now remains of several 
nations, which were once considerable, but the 
namew* * 

Seksibus of this continual decay, there dre Recruit 
tribes which endeavour to recruit their national t^"^^^ 
force when exhausted, by adopting prisoners «*?p*»»« 
taken in war, and by this expedient prevent 
their total extinction.^ The practice, however, 
is not universally received. Resentment' ope- 

* Charlev. Hist. N. Fr. iii. 902, 203. 429. Gumilla, ii. 
227, &c. 


BOOK ratei^ more powerfiilly among s^vaget^ than 
v,^p^^ ooQBideiations of policy. Far the greater part 
of their captives was anciently saorificed to 
their vengeance, atid it is only since their 
numbers began to decline fast, diat they have 
generally adopted ipilder maxims. But such 
as they do naturalize, renounce for ever their 
native tribe, and assume the manners as well 
as passions of the people by whom they are 
adopted,* so entirety, that they often join them 
in expeditions against their own countrymen. 
Such a sudden transition, and so repugnant to 
one of the most powerful instincts implanted 
by nature, would be deemed strange among 
many people ^ but among the members of 
small communiti^, where national enmity is 
violent ^d d^ep-rooted, it has the appearance 
of being still more unaocountable. It seems, 
however, to result naturally from the pqnciplea 
upon which war is carried on in America. 
When nations aim at exterminating their ene- 
mies, no excl^ange of prisoners can ever take 
place* From the moment one is made a pri- 
soner, hip country and his friends consider bim 
as dead.t He hap incurred indelible disgrace 
by suffering himself to be surprised or to be 
t^ken by a^ enemy j and were be to return 

• Charlev. Hist. N. Fr, iii. 245, &c. Lafit. ii, 308. 
t See Note XL VIII, Page 398. 



home, after suqh a staiii upon his honoiirt hit mn»k 
nearest relations would not receive or even 
acknowledge that they knew him.* Some 
tribes w^e still more ngid» and if a prisoner 
retixmedf the infamy which he had brought on 
his country was expiated by putting him in* 
stantly to death.t As tb^ unfortunate captive 
is thus an outcast from his bwn country, and 
the iiies which bound him to it are irreparably 
iirolcen, he feels less reluctance in forming a 
new conneafion with pec^e, who, as an evi- 
dence of their friendly sentiments, not only 
deliv^ him from a cruel death, but ofier to 
admit him to all the rights of a feUow-citizen. 
The perfect similarity of manners among 
savage nations facilitates and completes the 
u^iion, and induces a captive to tranaf^ not 
only his allegiance, but his affection, to the 
community into the bosom of which he is re« 

But tbou^ war be the chief occupation of 'nieirmfo. 
men in their rude state, and to excel in it ^eir war to po* 
highest distinction and pride, their infhriority S^"*" 
is always manifest when they engage in compe- 
tition with polished nations. Destitute of that ' 
foresight which discerns and provides for re^ 

* Lahont. ii. 185, 186. 

X Henrera, dec* 3. lib. iv. c. 16. p« 173. 


mote events, strangers to the union and mutual 
confidence requisite in forming any extensive 
plan of operations, and incapable of the subor- 
dination no less requisite in carrying such plans 
into execution, savage nations may astonish a 
disciplined enemy by their valour, but seldom- 
prove formidable to him by their conduct ; and 
whenever the contest is of long continuance, 
must yield to superior art.* The empires of 
Peru and Mexico, though their progress in 
civilization, when measured by the European 
' or Asiatic standards, was inconsiderable, ac- 
quired such an ascendency over the rude tribes 
around them, that they subjected most of them 
with great facility to their power. When the 
people of Europe overran the various pro- 
vinces of America, this superiority was still, 
more conspicuous. Neither the courage nor 
number of the natives could repel a handful 
of invaders. The alienation and enmity pre- 
valent among barbarians, prevented them from 
uniting in any common scheme of defence, and 
while each tribe fought separately, all were 

Their arts. VI. The arts of rudc uatious unacquainted 
with the use of metals, hardly merit any atten- 
tion on their own account, but are worthy of 

* See Note XLIX. Page 399. 


some notice, as far as they serve to displky the book 
genius and manners ot man in this stage of his 
progress. The first distress a savage must feel, 
will arise from the manner in which his body 
is afiectedi by the beat, or cold, or moisture, of 
llie climate under which he lives ; and his first !>■«>■ 
care will be to provide some covering for his 
own defence. In the warmer and more mild 
climates of America, none of the rude tribes 
were clothed. To most of them, nature had 
not even suggested any idea of impropriety in 
being altogether uncovered.* As, under a mild 
climate, there was little need of any defence 
from the injuries of the air, and their extreme 
indolence shunned every species of labour to 
which it was not urged by absolute necessity, 
all the inhabitants of the isles, and a consi-^ 
derable part of the people on the continent, 
remained in this state of naked simplicity. 
Others were satisfied with some slight cover- 
ing, such as decency required; But though 
naked, they were not unadorned. They dress- 
ed their hair in many different forms. They 
fastened bits of gold, or shells, or shining 
stones, in their ears, their noses, and cheeks.t 
They stained their skins with a great variety 

* Lery, Navigat. ap. de Bry, iii. p. 164. Life of Colum- 
bus, c. 24. Venegas, Hist, of Califora. p. 70. 
t Lery ap. de Bry, iii, p. 165. Lettr. Edif. 20. 223. 

i^4f itISTOR V OF AH£Ri€ A . 

BOOK ^ fisgare^ ; and they fipefit much time, attd 


submitted to gi^eat ^aiti, in ornamenting their 
persons in this fantastic manner. VaUilT; 
however, which finds endless occupation ibt 
ingenuity and invention, in i^ations where 
dress has become a complex and intricate ait, 
is circumscribed within so narrow bounds^ 
and confined to so few articles among naked 
savages, that they are tiot satisfied with those 
simple decorations, and have a wonderful pro- 
pensity to alter the natural form of their bodie&» 
in order to render it (as they imagine) more 
perfect and beautiful. This practice was uni- 
versal among the rudest of the Aqierican 
tribes. Their operations for that purpose 
begin as soon as an infant is born. By com- 
pressing tjbe bones of the skull, while still soft 
and flexible, some flatten the crown of tbeit 
heads ; some squeeze them into the shape of a 
cone ; others mould them as much as possible 
into a square figure ; * and they <^en endan*- 
ger the lives of their posterity, by their violent 
and absurd efibrts to derange the plan of na* 
ture, or to improve upon her designs. But in 
all their attempts either to adorn or to new- 

« Oviedo, Hist. Kb. iii. c.5. UDoa, i. S29. Voyage de 

I^abat, ii. 72. Charlevoix, iii. 323. Gumilla, i. 197, &c. 

Acugna, Relat. de la Riv. dea Amaz. ii. 83. Lawson's 
Voyage to Carolina, p. 33. 


ffiodel their persons, it seems to have been less ^^m 
t^ object of the Americtns to please, or to 
appear beautiful, than to give an air of dignity 
and terror to their aspect. Their attention to 
dress had more reference to war than to gal* 
kufitry. The di^rence in rank and estimation 
between the two sexes was so great, as seems 
to have eRtinguished, in some measure^ dieir 
solicitude to appes^ mutually amiable. The 
man deemed it beneath him to adorn his per- 
son, tot the sake of one <hi whom he was accus- 
tomed to look down as a slave. It was when 
die warrior had in view to enter the council of 
his nation, or to take the field against its ene- 
mies, that he assumed his choicest ornaments, 
and decked his person with the nicest care.* 
The decorations of the women were few and 
simple ; whatever was precious or splendid was 
reserved for the men. In several tribes, the 
women were obliged to spend a considerable 
part of their time every day in adorning and 
painting their husbands, and could bestow 
little attention upon ornamenting themselves. 
Among a race of men so haughty as to despise, 
or so cold as to neglect them, die women na- 
turally became careless and slovenly, and the 
love of finery and show, which has been 

* Wafer's Voyage, p. 142. Lery ap. de Bry, iii, 167. 
CharleT. Hist. N. Fran. fii..216. tt2. 



BOOK deemed their favourite passion, was codfiiied 
^^Mi \^' chiefly to the other sex.* To deck his person 
was the distinction c^ a warrior, as well as one 
of his most serious occupations.t In one part 
of their dress, which, at first sight, appears 
the most singular and capricious/ the Ameri- 
cans have discovered considerable sagacity ia 
providing against the chief inconveniences of 
their climate, which is often sultry and moist 
to excess. All the different tribes which re- 
main unclothed, are accustomed to anoint and 
rub their bodies with the grease of animals, 
with viscous gums, and with oils of different 
kinds. By this, they check that profuse per- 
spiration, wliich, in the torrid zone, wastes the 
vigour of the frame, and abridges the period 
of human life. By this, too, they provide 
a defence against the extreme moisture dur- 
ing the rainy season. 1: They likewise, at cer- 
tain seasons, temper paint of diiferent colours 
with those unctuous substances, and bedaub 
themselves plentifully with that composition. 
Sheathed with this impenetrable varnish, their 
skins are not only protected from the pene- 
trating heat of the sun, but as all the innu- 

* Charlev. Hist, de la Nouv, Fran. iii. 278. 327. Lafit. 
ii. 53. Kalm's Voyage, iii. 273. Lery ap. de Biy, iii. 169, 
170. Purch. Pilgr. iv. 1287. Ribas, Hist, de los Triumf. 

t See Note L. Page 899. J See Note LI. Page 400. 


merable tribes of insects have an antipathy to book 
the smell of taste of that mixture, they jare de* 
livered from their teasing persecution, which, 
amidst forests and marshes, especially in the 
wanner r^ons, would have been altogether 
intolerable in ^ state of perfect nakedness.* 

The next object to dress dmt will engage bm 
the att^ation of a savage, is to prepare some ***^ 
habitation which may affi>rd him shelter by 
day, and a retreat at night Whatever is con- 
nected with his ideas of personal dignity, what* 
ever bears any reference to his military cha- 
racter, the savage warrior deems an object of 
importance. Whatever relates only to peace- 
able and inactive, life, he views with indiffer- 
ence. Hence, though finically attentive to 
dress, he is little solicitous about the elegance 
or disposition of his habitation. Savage na- 
tions, far from that state of improvement in 
which the mode of living is considered as a 
mark of distinction, and unacquainted with 
those wants which require a variety of accom- 
modation, regulate the construction of their 
houses according to their limited ideas of ne- 
cessity. Some of the American tribes were so 
extremely rude, and had advanced so little 

* Labat, ii. 93. Gumilla, i. 190. 202. Baocroft, Nat. 
Hist, of Guiana, 81. 280. 



beyond the primeval simplicky of natere, that 
they had no houses at all. During the day, liiey 
take shelter from the scorching rays of the son 
undet thick trefes ; at night, they form a shed 
with their branches and leaves.* In the rainy 
season they retire into cot^es, formed by the 
hand of nature, or hollowed out by their own 
industry.t Others, who have no fixed abode, 
and roam through the forest in quest of game, 
sojourn in temporary huts, which they erect 
with little labour, and abandon without imy 
concern. The inhabitants of those vast plains 
which are deluged by the overflowing of riv«rs, 
during the heavy rains that fall periodicaUy 
between the tropics, raise bouses upon piles 
fastened in the ground, or place them among 
the boughs of trees, and are thus safe amidst 
that wide extended inundation which sur- 
rounds them.t Such were the first essays of 
the rudest Americans towards providing them- 
selves with habitations. But even among tribes 
which are more improved, and whose residence 
is become altogether fixed, the structure of 

* See Note LII. Page 400. 

+ Lettres Edif. v. 273. Venega», HiBt. of Cidifor. i. 76. 
Lozano, Descrip. del. Gran Chaco, p. 56. Lettres Edif. 
ii. 176. Gumilla, i. 385. Bancroft, Nat. Hist, of Guiana, 

X Gumilla, i. 225. Herrera, dec. 1. lib.ix. c.6. Oviedo, 
Sommar. p. 53. C. 



their houses » extremely mean and simfrfe. i^^ 
Tliey are wretidied huts, sometiai^s of an ob« 
long and sometimes of a circular fbrm, intend- 
ed merdly for shelter, with no view to de- 
gance, «id little attentkn to cotaveniencj. 
The doors are so low that it is necessary to 
bmd or. to creep on the hands and feet in 
order td enter them. They are without win- 
dows, and have a large hole in the middle of 
the roof, to convey out the smeke. To follow 
travellers in other minute circumstances of 
their descrq»tioas, is not only beneath the dig* 
nity of history, but would be foreign to the ob* 
ject of my researches* One circumstance me- 
rits attention, as it is singular, and illustrates 
the character of the peof^. Some of their 
houses are so large as to contain accommoda- 
tion for fourscore or a hundred persons. These 
are built for the reception of different families, 
which dwell together under the same roof,* 
and often around a common fire, without sepa- 
rate apartments, or any kind of screen or parti- 
tion between the spaces which they respective- 
ly occupy.^ As soon as men have acquired dis- 
tinct ideas oi properly ; or when they are so 
much attached to their females, as to watch 
them with care and jealousy ; families, of 
course, divide and settie in separate houses, 

* See Note Lill. Page 401. 



BOOK \irhere tbey can secure and guard whatever 


they wish to pireserve. This singular mode of 
habitation among several people of America, 
may therefore be considered, not only as the 
effect of their imperfect notions concerning 
property, but as a proof of inattention and in- 
difference towards their women. If they had 
not beien accustomed to perfect equality, such 
%n arrangement could not have taken place. 
If their sensibility had been s^t to have taken 
alarm, they would not have trusted the virtue 
of their women amidst the temptatioos and op- 
portunities of such a promiscuous intercourse. 
At the same time, the perpetual concord which 
reigns in habitations where so many families 
are crowded together, is surprising, and ai9S>rds 
a striking evidence that they must be people of 
either a very gentle, or of a very phlegmatic 
temper, who, in such a situation, are unac- 
quainted with animosity, brawling, and dis- 

TheiranM. Afteb making some provision for his dress 
and habitation, a savage will perceive the ne- 
cessity of preparing proper arms with which to 
assault ora-epel an enemy. This, accordingly, 

* Joum. de Grillet et Bechamel dans la Goyane, p. 65* 
Lafit. Moeurs, ii. 4. Torquem. Monarq. i. 24*7. Journal^ 
Hist, de Joutel, 217. Lery, Hist. Brasil. ap. de Bry, iii. 
538. Lozano, Descr. del Gran Chaco, 67. 


has early exercised the ingenuity and invention 
of all rude nations. The first offensive weapons 
were doubtless siich as chance presented, and 
the furst efforts of art to improve upon these, 
were extremely awkward and simple. Clubs 
made of some heavy wood, stakes hardened in 
the fire, lances whose heads were armed with 
flint or the bones of some animal, are weapons 
known to the rudest nations. AH these, how- 
ever, were of use only in close encounter. But 
men wished to annoy their enemies while at a 
distance, and the bow and arrow is the most 
early invention for this purpose. This weapon 
* is in the hands of people whose advances in 
improvement are extremely inconsiderable, and 
is familiar to the inhabitants of every quar- 
ter of the globe. It is remarkable, however, 
that some tribes in America, were so destitute 
of art and ingenuity, that they had not attain- 
ed to the discovery of this simple invention,* 
and seem to have been unacquainted with the 
use of any missive weapon. The sling, though 
in its construction not more complex than the 
bow, and among many nations of equal anti- 
quity, was little known to the people of North 
America,! or the islands, but appears to have 
been used by a few tribes in the southern con- 

* Piedrahita, Conq. del Nuevo Reyno, ix. 12. 

f Naufr. de AW. Nun. Cabeza de Baca, c. x. p. 12. 


BOOK tinent.* The people in some provinces of 
Chilli and those of Patagoniai towards the 
southern extremity of America, use a weapon 
peculiar to themselves. They fasten stones, 
about the size of a fist, to each end of a leather 
thong of eight feet in length, and swinging 
these round their heads, throw them with such 
dexterity, that they seldom miss the object at 
which they aim.t 

Their do- Am«ng pcoplc who had hardly any occupa- 
utenaUs. tiou but War or hunting, the chief exertions 
of their invention,^ as well as industry, were 
naturally directed towards these objects. With* 
respect to every thing else, tHeir wants and de- 
sires were so limited, that their invention was 
not upon the stretch. As theit food and habi- 
tations are perfectly simple, their domestic 
utensils are few and rude. Some of the south- 
ern tribes had discovered the art of forming 
vessels of earthen ware, and baking them in 
the son so as they could endure the fire. In 
North America, they hollowed a piece of hard 
wood into the form of a kettle, and filling it 
with water, brought it to boil by putting red- 
hot stones into it.§ These vessels they used in 

* Piedrah. p. 16. See Note LIV. Page 402. 
t Ovalle's' Relation of Chili ; Church. Collect, iii. 82. 
Falkner's Descript, of Patagoa. p. ISO* 
t See Note LV. Page 402. 
§ Charlev. Hist. N. Fran. iii. 332. 


preparing part of iJieir prOvisioos ; and this 
may be considered as a step towards refinenoeat 
and luxury, for men in their rudest state were P*?^*, 
not acquainted with any method of dressing 
their victuals but by roasting them on the fire ; 
and among several tribes in America, this is 
the only species of cookery yet known.* But 
the masterpiece of art among the savages of ^^^' 
America, is the construction of their canoes. 
An Esquimaux^ shut up in his boat of whale- 
bone, covered with the skins of seals^ can 
brave that stormy ocean, on which the barren- 
ness of his countiy compels him to depend for 
the chief part of his subsistence.! The people 
of Canada venture upon their rivers and lakes 
in boats made of the bark of trees^ and so tight 
that two men CBXk carry them, wherever shal- 
lows or cataracts obstruct the navigation.^ In 
these frail vessels they undertake and aoccun- 
pHsh long voyages.^ The inhabitants of the 
isles, and of the southern continent, form their 
canoes by hollowing the trunk of a large tree, 
with infinite labour j and though in appearance 
they are extremely awkward and unwieldy, 
they paddle and steer them with such dexte- 
rity, that Europeans, well acquainted with all 
the improvements in the science of navigation, 

* See Note LVI. Page 403. f EHis* Voy. 133. 

t See Note LVII. Page 403. § Lafit. Mceure, &c. ii. 213. 


have been aitonished at the rapidity of their 
motion, and the quickness of their evolutions. 
Their pirogues, or war-boats, are so large as to 
carry forty or fifty men ; their canoes employ- 
ed in fishing and in short voyages are less capa- 
cious.* The form as well as materials of all 
these various kinds of vessels, is well adapted 
to the service for which they are destined ; and 
the more minutely they* are examined, the 
mechanism of their structure, as well as neat- 
ness of their fabric, will appear the more sur- 

But, in every attempt towards industry 
(iiey apply amoug the Americans, one striking quality in 
to labour, ^j^^jj^ character is conspicuous. They apply to 
work without ardour, carry it on with little 
activity, and, like children, are easily diverted 
from it. Even in operations which seem the 
* most interesting, and where the most powerful 

motives urge them to vigorous exertions, they 
labour with a languid listlessness. Their work 
advances under their hand with such slowness, 
that an eye-witness compares it to the imper- 
ceptible prc^ess of vegetation.t They will 
spend so many years in forming a canoe, that 
it often begins to rot with age before they finish 

♦ Labat, Voyages^ ii. 91, &c, 131. 
t Gmnilla, ii. 297. 


it. They will suflfer one part of a roof to decay 
and perish, before they complete the oAer.* 
The slightest manual operation consumes an 
amazing length of time, and what in polished 
nations would hardly be an effi>rt of industry, 
is among savages an arduous undertaking. 
This slowness of the Americans in executing 
works of every kind, may be imputed to vari- 
ous causes. Among savages, who do not de- 
pend for subsistence upon the effi>rts of regular 
industry, time is of so little importance, that 
they set no value upon it ; and provided they 
can finish a design, they never regard how long 
they are employed about it. Hie tools which 
they employ are so awkward and defective, 
that every work in which they engage must 
necessarily be tedious. The hand of the most 
industrious and skilful artist, were it furnished 
with no better instrument than a stone hatchet, 
a shell, or the bone of some animal, would find 
it difficult to perfect the most simple work. It 
is by length of labour that, fie must endeavour 
to supply his defect of power. But above all, 
the cold phlegmatic temper peculiar to the 
Americans, renders their operations languid. 
It is almost impossible to rouse them from that 
.habitual indolence in which they are sunk ; and 
unless when engaged in war or hunting, they 

^ Borde, Relftt. des Caraibes, p. 22. 


186 HISTORY OF AmcmcA. 

BOOK, seem iocapable of exerting any vigorous ^flbrt. 
-1^ \^' Their ardpiir of application is not so great as 
fb call forth xthat inventive spirit which sug- 
gests expedients for facilitating and abridging 
labour. They will return to a task day after 
day, but all their methods of executing it are 
tedious and operose.* Even since the -Euro- 
peans have communicated to them the know- 
ledge of their instrumentSi and taught them to 
imitate their arts, the peculiar genius of the 
Americans is conspicuous in every attempt 
they make. They may be patient and assidu- 
ous in labour, they can copy with a servile and 
minute accuracy, but discover little invention, 
and np talents for despatch. In spite of instruct 
tion and example, the spirit of the race predo- 
minates ; their motions are natur^dfy tardy, aad 
it is in vain to urge them to quicken their pace. 
Among the S^niards in America, the work qf 
an Indim is a phrase by which they describe 
any thing, in the execution of whidi an im- 
mense time has been employed, aiad mocii la- 
bour wasted.t 

Their reii- VII. No circumstauce respeeting rude na- 

^^* tions has been the object of greater curiosity 

than their religious tenets and rites ; and none. 

* See Noi^i: LVIII. Page 404. 

t Voyages de tJUoa, i. 335. Lettr. Edif. &c. 15. 348. 



perhaps, has been so imperfectly understood, 
or represented with so little fidelity. Priests 
and missionaries are the persons who have had ^S|% 
the best opportunities of carrying on this in- inthbin- 
quiry, among the most uncivilized of the Ame- ^"^' 
rican tribes. Their minds, engrossed by the 
doctrines of their own religion, and habituated 
to its institutions^ are apt to discover some- 
thing which resembles those objects of their 
veneration, in the opinions and rites of every 
people. Whatever they contemplate, they view 
through one medium, and draw and accommo- 
date it to their own system. They study to 
reconcile the institutions which fall under their 
observation, to their own creed, not to enplain 
them according to the rude notions of the peo- 
ple themselves. They ascribe to them ideas 
which they are incapable of forming, and sup- 
pose them to be acquainted with principles and 
factSy which it is impossible that they should 
know. Hence, some missionaries have been 
induced to believe, that even among the most 
barbarous nations in America, they had disco- 
vered traces, no less distinct than amazing, of 
their acquaintance with the sublime mysteries 
and peculiar institutions of Christianity. From 
their own interpretation of certain expressions 
and ceremonies, they have concluded that these 
people had some knowledge of the doctrine of 
the Trinity, of the incarnation of the Son of 
God, of his expiatory sacrifice, of the virtue of 


the cross, and of the eflScacy of the sacra- 
ments.* In such unintelligent and credulous 
guides we can place little confidence. 

But, even when we make our choice of 
conductors with the greatest care, we must 
not follow them with implicit faith. An in- 
. quiry into the religious notions of rud^ nations 
is involved in peculiar intricacies, and we must 
often pause in order to separate the facts which 
our informers relate, from the rea£;onings with 
which they are accompanied, or the theories 
which they build upon them. Several pious 
writers, more attentive to. the importance of 
the subject than to the condition of the people 
whose sentiments they were endeavouring to 
discover, have bestowed much unprofitable 
labour in researches of this nature.! 

Confined to There are two fundamental doctrines, upon 

two articles. , . . /• 

which the whole system of religion, as far as 
it can be discovered by the light of nature, 
is established. The one respects the being of 
a God J the other, the immortality of the soul. 
To discover the ideas of the uncultivated na- 
tions under our review with regard to those 

* Venegas, i..88. 92. Torqaemada, ii. 445. Garcia, 
Origen, 122. Herrera, dec. 4. lib.ix. c. 7. dec. 5. lib.iv. 

t See Note LIX. Page 404-. 




iflaportaDt points, is not only an object of curi- 
osity, but may afiR>rd instruction. To these 
two articles I shall confine my researches, leav- 
ing subordinate opinions, and the detail of 
local superstitions, to more minute inquirers. 
Whoever has had any opportunity of examin* tim 
ing into the religious opinions of persons in the ^ ^^^ 
inferior ranks o^life, even in the most enlight- 
ened and civilized nations, will find that their 
system of belief is derived from instruction, not 
discovered by inquiry. That numerous part 
of the human species, whose lot is labour, 
whose principal and almost sole occupation is 
to secure subsistence, views the arrangement 
and operations of nature with little reflection, 
and has neither leisure nor capacity for enter- 
ing into that path of refined and intricate spe- 
culation, which conducts to the knowledge of 
the principles of natural religion. In the early 
and most rude periods of savage life, such dis- " 
quisitions are altogether unknown. When the 
intellectual powers are just beginning to un- 
fold, and their first feeble exertions are directed 
towards a few objects of primary necessity and 
use ; when the faculties of the mind are so 
limited, as not to have formed abstract or gene- 
ral ideas ; i^hen language is so barren, as to be 
destitute of names to distinguish any thing that 
is not perceived by some of the senses ; it is 
preposterous to expect that mjin should be 
capable of tracing with accuracy the relation 


BOOK betireen cause and effect; or to suppose that 
he should rise from the contemplation of the 
one to the knowledge of the other, and form 
just conceptions of a Deity, as the Creatw and 
Governor of the universe* The idea of crea* 
tion is so familiar wherever the mind is enlarge 
ed by science, and illuminated with revelation, 
that we seldom reflect how profcHind and ab« 
struse this idea is, or consider what progress 
man must have made in observation and re- 
search, before he could arrive at any knowle^e 
of this elementary principle in religion. Ac- 
cordingly, several tribes have been discovered 
in America, which have no idea whatever of a 
Supreme Being, and no rites of religious wor* 
ship. Inattentive to that magnificent spectacle 
of beauty and order presented to their view ; 
unaccustomed to reflect either upon what they 
themselves are, or to inquire who is the author 
of their existence,-«**men, in their savage state, 
pass their days like the aaimals around them, 
without knowledge or veneration of any supe- 
rior power. Some rude tribes have not in their 
language any name for the Deity, nor have the 
most accurate observers been able to discover 
any practice or institution which seemed to 
imply that they recognized his authority, or 
were solicitous to obtain his favour.* It is 

* Biet, 539. Lery ap. de Bry, iii. 221. Nieuhoff; 
Church. Coll. ii. 132. Lettr. Edif. 2. 177. Id. 12, IS. 

Htst^RY or AManicA. 191 

however oxAy among men in the m<Mt uncnlti- 
Tated state of nature, and while their intellec* 
taal faculties are so feeble and limited as hard*^ 
ly to ^evate tbem above the irrational creation, 
that we dfflcover this total insensibility to the 
impressians of any invisible power. 

But the human mind, formed for religion, 
soon opens to the reception of ideas, which are 
destined, when corrected and refined, to be the 
great source of consolation amidst the calami* 
ties of lifoi Among some of the American 
tribes, stili in the infancy of improvement, we 
discern apprehensions of some invisible and 
powerful beings. These apprehensions are ori- 
ginally indistinct and perplexed,* , and seem to 
be suggested rather by the dread of impending 
evils, than to flow from gratitude for blessings 
received. While nature holds on her course 
with uniform and undiisturbed regularity, men 
enjoy the benefits resulting from it, without in« 
qniiing concerning its cause. But every de- 

Venegas, i. S7- Lozano, Descript. del Gran Chaco, 59. 
Fernand. Mission, de Chequit. 39. Gumilla, ii. 156. 
Rochrfort> Hi«t. dts AntiUes, p. 468. Margrave, Hist, in 
Append, de C^ilien^ibus, 286. UUoa, Notic. Americ. 335, 
&c. Barrere, 218, 219. Harcourt, Voyage to Guiana; 
Porch. Pilgr. iv. p. 1273. Account of Brasil, by a Portu- 
gaese ; Ibid. p. 1289. Jones's Journal, p. 59. See Note 
LX. Page 405. 



BOOK viatioD from this regular course roases and as* 
toDisbes them. When they befadd events to 
which they are not accustomed^ they search 
for the reasons of them with eager curiosity. 
Their understanding is unable to penetrate into 
these; but imagination/ a more forward and 
ardent faculty of the mind, decides without 
hesitation. It ascribes the extraordinary oc- 
currences in nature to the influence of invisible 
beings, and supposes that the thunder, the hur- 
ricane, and the earthquake, are effects df their 
interposition. Some such confused notion of 
spiritual or invisible power, superintending over 
those natural calamities which frequently deso* 
late the earth, and terrify its inhabitants, may 
be traced aqiong many rude nations.* But 
besides this, the disasters and dangers of savage 
life are so many, and men oflten.find themselves 
in situations so formidable, that the mind, sen- 
sible of its own weakness, has no resource but 
in the guidance and protection of wisdom and 
power superior to what is human. Defected 
with calamities which oppress him, and exposed 
to dangers which he cannot repel, the savage 
no longer relies upon himself; he feels his own 
impotence, and sees no prospect of being extri- 
cated but by the interposition of some unseen 
arm. Hence, in all unenlightened nations, the 

* See Note LXI. Page 405. 

HlSTORt OF AMtHlCA. 108 

first rites or practices which bear any resera- mo^ 
blance to acts of religion, have it for their ob^ 
ject to avert evils which men suffer or dread. 
The Manitom or OkkU of the North Ameri* 
cans were amulets or charms, which they ima* 
gf ned to be of such virtue, as to preserve the 
persons who reposed confidence in them from 
every disastrous event, or they were consider- 
td as tutelary spirits, whose ^d they might im* 
plore in circumstances of distress.* The CemU 
c£ the islanders were reputed by them to be the 
authors o£ every calamity that afflicts the human 
race ; they were represented under the most 
frightful forms, and r^igious homage was paid 
to them with Ho other view than to appease 
these furious deities^t Even among those tribes 
whose religious system was more enlarged, and 
who had formed some concepticm of benevo- 
lent beings which ddighted in conferring be- 
nefits, as well as of malicious powers prone to 
inflict evil, superstition still appears as the oS^ 
ffpring of fear, and all its efibrts were employed 
to avert calamities. They were persuaded that 
their good deities, prompted by the beneficence 
of their nature, would bestow every blessing in 

• Charier. N. Fr. iii. S4S, &c. Creuxii Hist. Canad. 
p. 8S^ &c. 
t Oviedo, lib. iii. c 1. p. 111. P. Martyr, dec. p. 103, 


MfiWW* J: Wd. *h(E}ir Qffiy :a«xiety WW ta/5JooA 
^od <^|if e$9|^ tl»ft wrftth of thje ppw»s^ vhoo^ 
tbey : tegfoiij^ as the eneffues of mfiDktn4.* ^ 

Si^^fi were Ihe i^qperf^^ct ^nQ^pti0ii«. of the 
^e^t^ pE^rt^:of th^ AoiieficaQs with reapect to 
kbe.ii)t;eqK>sitio99 qf 'mmi\^ s^gwtfif att^Bucbb 
j)|rP9S|t ui^iversaiLy, was the meaa a,i(id.iUU>jend 
Aiy<i9t' P^i their superpt^pqs. Were ili^e itp trace 
^tacl^ t^^ . id^ffl, qf otl&er . aations tP tbjLt ^ rude 
§tfitisi)i, which histo;^ first preseqtsi (l^ 
l^^w, w^ -^tiiQuld discover ^ surprii^^ rei^env 
j[>IWQe in their teoQt^ and practices^; and should 
\j^ cpityipp^, that) in similar cirfi^ti^stancefib 
;th9 fa^^s oif tlie hQnifin mind hold nearlj 
, Ihe same ^^oii^-se in-tbeir progire^sy ^d arrive at 
almqij; tHfE^ same qQuclusions. ^Xba impressidos 
pf fear. :afff|/ conspsliQuAus in aU tbe^fysteois of 
i»up^stitipn formed in tW situaifei&n. The cbosjt 
exalted nqtipns of menrrise no hi^^etr than to a 
perplexed fqpprehensioniof certain henigs, whose 
power^ though superndtural, is limited as well 
as partiaL 

SrJS^i- But, among other tribes, -which have been 
mty in their lougcr uuitcd, or havc made greater progress 

notions. -—————-_— ,-JL__^_^^»_«.«-—»— 

* Tertre, ii. S66. Borde, p. U, State of Virginia, by 
a Native, book iii. p, i32, SS. Damonti i* 165. Bancrcrft, 
Kat. Hist, of Guiana, 309. % 


ID itaprovemenf^ we diacdm -aotike feeble poiot> sook 
ie^ tovards more just and adequate concept 
ttour 6f the power th&t presides in nature. 
Th^ seen^ to perceive that there most be soikie 
universal cause to whom bHI things are indebted 
for their being. If we may judge by some of 
thek' expressions^ they appear to acknowledge 
a divine power to be the maker of the worl^ 
»id the disposed of alt events. They denomi«> 
nake htm the Great S^jririt* Biit these ideais 
aiefaint and tonfwe4 and when they attempt 
to ebqrlaiil them» it is manifest, that amoi^ 
them the word ymit has a meaning very di£* 
ferent from that in which we employ it» smd 
that they have no conception of any deity but 
what is corporeal. They believe their gods to 
be of the human form, though of a nature more 
excdlent than man, and retail sudi wild inco* 
herent fables ccmceming their functions and 
operatioiiSy as are altogether unworthy of a 
place bfi history.' Even anH)ng these tribes, 
tbere is^ na established form of puUic worship f 
there ane no temples erected in honour of ihetr 
deities ; and no ministers peculiarly consecrat- 
ed to their service. They have the knowledge 
however, of several superstitions ceremonies 
and practices handed down to them by tradi- 

♦ Charley. N. Fr. iii. 343. Sagard, Voj. du Pays des 
HuroDs, 226. 


BOOK tion, and to these* they have recourse with a 
childish credulity, when roused by any emer<* 
gence from their usual insensibilit}^ and excit^^ 
ed to acknowledge the power, and to implore 
the protection of superior beings.* 

Syiceni The tribe of the ^h^atchez, and the people of 

nJ^^. Bogota, had advanced beyond the other uncul- 
tivated nations of America in their ideas of re- 
ligion as well as in their political institutions ; 
aqd it is no less dilBicult to explain the cause 
of this distinction, than of that wbiph we have 
already considered. The Sun was the chief 
object of religious worship among the Natchez. 
In their temples, which were constructed with 
some magnificence, and decorated with various 
ornaments, according to their mode of archi- 
tecture, they preserved a perpetual fire, as the 
purest emblem of their divinity. Ministers 
were appointed to watch and feed this sacred 
flame. The first function of the great chief of 
the nation, every morning, was an act of obei- 
sance to the sun ; and, festivals returned at 
stated seasons, which were celebrated by the 
whole community with solemn but unbloody 
rites.t This is the most refined species of su- 

* Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 345. Golden, i. 17. 
t Dumont^ i. 168, &c. Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 417, Set. 420- 
Lafitou, i. 167. 



perstition known in America, and, perhaps, one 
of the most natural as well as most seducing. 
The sun is the apparent source of the joy, fer- 
tility, and life, diffiised through nature; and 
while the human mind, in its earlier essays to- 
wards inquiry, contemplates and admires his 
universal and animating energy, its admiration 
is apt to stop short at what is visible, without 
reaching to the unseen cause ; and pays that 
adoration to the most glorious and beneficial 
work of God, which is due only to him who 
formed it. As fire is the purest and most ac- 
tive of the elements, and in some of its quali- 
ties and effects resembles the sun, it was, not 
improperly, chosen to be the emblem of his 
powerful operation. The ancient Persians, a 
people far superior, in every respect, to that 
rude tribe whose rites I am describing, found- 
ed their religious system on similar principles, 
and established a form of public worship, less 
gross and exceptionable than that of any people ' 
Restitute of guidance from revtslation. This 
surprising coincidence in sentiment between 
two nations, in such difilerent states of improve- 
ment, is one of the many singular and unac- 
countable circumstances which occur in the 
history of human affairs. 

Among the people of Bogota, the sun and 
moon were, likewise, the chief objects of vene- 
ration. Their system of religion was more re- 


gular and complete, though less pu^e, than that ' 
of the Natchez. They had temples, altars, 
priests, sacrifices, and that long train of cere- 
monies, which siqiecstition introduces wherever 
she has fully established her dominion over the 
minds of men. But the rites of their worship 
were cruel and bloody* They offered human 
victims to their deities, and many of their prac- 
tices nearly resembled the barbarous institu- 
tions of the Mexicans, the genius of which we 
shall have an opportunity of considering more 
attentively in its proper place.* 

Their ideas WiTH rcspcct to the othcr great doctrine of 
tibe^^ religion, concerning the immortality of the 
^^ soul, the sentimirats of the Americans were 
more united: The 'human mind, eVen when 
least impioved and invigorated by culture^ 
shrinks from the thoughts of annihilation, and 
looks forward with hope and expectation to a 
state of future existence. Tliis sentiment, re- 
sulting from a secret consciousness of its own 
dignity, from an instinctive longing after im- 
mortality, is universal, and may be deemed 
natural. Upon this are founded the most ex- 
alted hopes of man in his highest state of im- 

* Piedrahita, Coiiq. del N. fieyno, p. 17. Herrera, 
dee. 6. lib. v. e.6« 


provement ; nor his nature vifhhieM from him 
tliis soodiing conaolattQO« in the most early and 
fude period of his progress^ We can trace 
this ofMnion from one extremity of America 
to the oih&, in some regions mere faint and 
obscure, in others more pnfectly developed, 
hut nowhere unknown. The most unciviiized 
of its savage tribes do not apprehend death as 
the extinction of. being. All entertain hopes* 
of a future and more happy state, where they 
shaU be for ever exempt from the calamities 
which imbitter human life in ^its present con- 
dition: This future state they conceive to be 
a delightful country, blessed with perpetual 
spring, whose forests abound with game, whose 
rivers swaim with fish, whwe fSunine is never 
felt, and uninterrupted plenty shall be enjoyed 
without labour or toil. But as men, in form* 
ing their first imperfect ideas concerning the' 
invisible world, wppose that there tkny shall 
continue to feel the same desires, and to be 
engaged in the same occupatimis, as in the 
present wmld ; they naturally ascribe eminence 
and distinction, in that state, to the same qua- 
lities and talents which are here the object of 
their esteem. The Americans, accordingly, 
allotted the highest place, in their country of 
spirits, to the skilful hunter, to the adventu- 
rous and successful warrior, and to such as had 
tortured the greatest number of captives, and 



TOOK i devoured their flesh.* These notiam were w j 

prevalent) that they gave rise to an universal' 

lioduoe custom, which is at once the strongest evidence 


bury mm, that the Americans believe in a future state, 
S^dl^L ^^ t^6 best illustration of what they expect 
there. As they im^ne, that departed spirits 
begin their career anew in the world whither 
they are gone, that their friends may not enter 
upon it defenceless and unprovided, they bury 
together with the bodies of the dead, their bow 
their arrows, and other weapons used in hunt* 
ingor war.; they deposite in their tombs the 
skins or stu£& of which they make garments, 
Indian corn,, manioc, venison, domestic uten- 
sils, and whatever is reckoned among the ne- 
cessaries in their simple mode of life, t In 
some provinces, upon the decease of a cazique 
or chiei^ a certain number of his wives, of his 
favourites, and of his slaves, were put to death, 
and interied together with him, that he might 
appear with the same dignity in his future 
station, and be waited upon by the same at- 
tendants4 This persuasion is so deep-rooted, 

♦ Lery ap. de Bry, iii. 222, Charlev. N. Fr. iii. S51, Ac. 
De la Potberie, ii. *5, &c, iii. 5. 

t Chronica de Cieca de Leon, c. 28. €ktgard» 28S. 
Creux. Hist Canad. p. 91. Rochefort, Ukt. des Antilles, 
568. Biet, S91. De la Potherie, ii. 44. iii. 8. Blanco, 
Convers. de Piritu, p. 85. 

t Dumont, Louisiane, i. 208, Sec Oviedo, lib. v. c. 8. 
Gomara,Hist.Geii.c.28. P. Mart, decad. 804. Charlev. 


ffiSrmiT OF AMERICA. 901 

that maoiy of the decMsed person's rotainers book 
offer themsdves as voluntary victims, and court 
the privil^e of accompanying their departed 
master, as an high distinction. It has heen 
found difficult, on some occasions, to set 
bounds to this enthusiasm of affectionate duty, 
and to reduce the train of a favourite leader 
to such a number as the tribe could aflford to 

Among the Americans, as well as other un- 
civilized nations, many of the rites and obser- 
vances which bear some resemblance to acts 
of religion, have no connexion with devotion^ 
but proceed from a fond desire of prying into 
futurity. The human mind is most apt to feel, 
and to discover this vain curiosity, when its 
own powers are most feeble and ^uninformed. 
Astonished with occurrences, of which it is 
unable to comprehend the cause, it naturally 
fancies, that there is something mysterious and 
wonderful in their origin. Alarmed at events 
of which it cannot discern the issue or the 
consequences, it has recourse to other means 
of discovering them, than tiie exercise of its 

N. Fr. iil. 421. Herreniy dec I . lib. iii. c. S. P. Mdchior 
Hernandez, Memor. de Cherlqui; ColL Orig, Paperty i. 
Chron. de Cieea de Lesn, c 9S. 
«SefNpTBLXIL Page 406. . , . . 


belongs to 
tfaeir phy- 

ai9T0RY OF Aftt£RI«A* 

own aiagacity. Wherever su^ntition is so 
eatablisbed as to form a regular systear, ths3 
desire of penetrating into the secrets of futu* 
rity is Gonnicted with, it* Divination becomes 
a religious act. Priests, as the .ministers of 
Heaven^ pretend to deliver its oracles to men. 
They axe the only soothsayers, augurs, and 
amgicians^ who profess the sacred and impor- 
tant art of disclosing what is hid from other 

But,. among rude nations, who pay no vene- 
ration to any superintending power, and who 
have no estaUished rites or ministers of reli- 
gion, th^T curiosity to discover what is future 
wd unknown, is cherished by a different prin- 
ciple, and. derives strength from^ another al- 
Uwee. . As the diseases of men in the savage 
state are, as has been alr^y observed, like 
• those of the animal creation, few, but extr^ilely 
violent, their impatirace imder what th^y suf- 
fer,, and solicitude for the recovery; of health, 
soon I inspired them with extrac»'dinary xeve- 
r^ice for Auch as pretended to ui^derstand the 
nature of their maladies, and to be possessed 
of knowledge sufficient to preserve or deli- 
ver them from their sudden and •fatal effects. 
These ignorant pretenders, however, were such 
utter strangers to the structure of the human 
frame, as to be equally unacquainted with 
the causes of its dis([»rd«^^ and the mabner 



in "Vffhich they will terminate. Superstition^ 
mingled frequently with some portion of craft, 
supplied what they wanted in science. They 
imputed the origin of diseases to supernatural 
influence, and prescribed or performed a va- 
riety of mysterious rites, which they gave out 
to be of such efficacy as to remove the most 
dangerous and invleterate maladies. The cre- 
dulity and love of the marvellous, natural to 
uninformed men, favoured the deception, and 
prepared them to be the dupes of those impos- 
tors. Among savages, their first physicians 
are a kind of conjurors or wizards, who boast 
that they know what is past, and can fbretel 
what is to come. Incantations, sorcery, and 
mummeries of diverse kinds, no less strange 
than frivolous, are the means which they em- 
ploy to expel the imaginary causes of malig- 
nity ;* and, relying upon the efficacy of these, 
they predict witli confidence what will be the 
fate of their deluded pati^^ts. Thus super- 
stition, in its earliest form, flowed from the 
solicitude of man to be delivered from present 
distress, not from his dread of evils awaiting 
him in a future life, and was originally inr 
grafted on medicine, not on religion. One 
of the first and most intelligent historians of 

* P. Melch. Hernandez, Memorial de Cheriqur; CoUef^l. 
Orig. Pap. i. 


America! was struck with this alliance between 
the art of divination and that of physic, among 
the people of Hispaniola.* But this was not 
peculiar to them. The Alesis, the Piayas^ the 
AutmoinSf or whatever was the distinguishing 
name of their diviners and charmers in other 
parts of America, were all the physicians of 
their respective tribes, in the same manner as 
the Buhitos of Hispaniola. As their function 
led them to apply to the human mind when 
enfeebled by sickness, and as they found it, in 
that season of dejection, prone to be alarmed 
with imaginary fears, or amused with vain 
hopes, they easily induced it to rely with im- 
plicit confidence on the virtue of their spells^ 
and the certainty of their predictions, t 

^raduaUy WHENEVER mcu ackuowledgc the reality of 
supernatural power and discernment in one 
instance, they have a propensity to. admit it in 
others. The Americans did not long suppose 
the efficacy of conjuration to be confined to 
one subject. They had recou^e to it in every 
situation of danger or distress. When the 
events of war were peculiarly disastrous, when 

♦ Oyiedo, lib. v. c. 1. 

t Herrera, dec. i. lib. iii. c. 4. Ogborne, Coll. ii. 860. 
Dumont, i. 169, &c. Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 361. 364, &c. 
LawBon, N. Carol. 214. Ribas> Triumf. p. 17. Biet, 386. 
DclaPotherie,ii.35, &c. 


they met with unforeseen disappointnoients in 
huntings when inundations or drought threa- 
tened their crops with destruction, they called 
upon their conjurers to b^in their iocanta^ 
tions, in order to discover the causes of those 
calamities, or to foretel what would be their 
issue.* Their confidence in this delusive art 
gradually increased, and manifested itself in 
all the oiccurrences of life. When involved in 
any difficulty, or about to enter upon any trans- 
action of moment^ every individual regularly 
consulted the sorcerer, and depended upon his 
instructions to extricate him from the former, 
as well as to direct his conduct in the latter. 
Even among the rudest tribes in America, su- 
perstition appears in this form, and divination 
is an art in high esteem. Long before man 
bad acquired such knowledge of a deity as in- 
spires reverence, and leads to adoration, we 
observe him stretching out a presumptuous 
hand to draw aside that veil with which Provi- 
dence kindly conceals its purposes from human 
knowledge; and we find him labouring with 
fruitless anxiety to penetrate into the myste- 
ries of the divine administration. To discern 
and to worship a superintending power, is an 

♦ Charlev. N. Fran. iii. S. Dumont, i. 173. Fernand. 
Relftc. de lod Chequit p. 40. Lozano, ^4. Margrave, 


BOOK eridtece of' the ^largement and msltcoriiy of 
^J -^1^ the butiian imderstanding } a Taih desire of 
prying into futurity, is the error of its^ infancy, 
and a proof of its weakness. 

Fkom this weakness .proceeded likewise the 
£iith of th^ Americans in dreams, their obser« 
vation of omens, their attention to the chirping 
of birds aiid the cries of animals^ oU which 
they suppose to be indicatiohs of future events ; 
and if any one of these prognostics is deemed 
unfavourable, they instantly abandon the pup 
suit of those measures on which they are most 
eagerly bent.* 

Detached VIIL BuT if wc would form a complete idea 
"^^^^^^"^ of the uncultivated nations of America^ we 
nrast not pMs uncAserved some singular cus- 
tomsy which, though universal and character* 
istic, could not be reduced, with propriety, to 
any of the articles into which I have divided 
my inquiry concerning their manners. 

i|Ove rf Among savages, in every part erf the globe, 

the love of dancing is a favourite passion. ASr 
during a great part of their time, they languish 

* Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 96i. 35S. Stadius ap. de Bty, iii. 
190. Creuxii Hist. Canad. 84<. Techo^ Hist, of Parag.; 
Church. Coll. vi. 37. De la Potherie, iii. 6. 

HisTomr OF mSMiCA. juy 

m a state df imctiMty and iniiokfflcei' 'widioiit 
any occiipstkm to rouse or interest tbem, thfj 
delight, imivecsally ia a< pastime whicb* <Mdl8 
forth the active poweis of their natuve into 
exercise. The Spaniards, when they first 
visited Airieriea, were astonished at the fond- 
jiesfl of the hativies for dancing, and fcieheld 
with wondra a people, cold and unammated in 
moat of their other puteuits, kindle into iifd, 
and exert themselves l^th ardour, afs often as 
this favourite amusement recurred. Among 
them^ indeed, dancing ought not to be deno- 
minated an amusahent It is 3 serious and 
important occupation, which mingles in every 
ckrcurrence of public or private life. If any 
intercourse be necessary between two Ame- 
rican tribesf the ambassadors of the one ap- 
proach in a< solemn dance, and present the ca-^ 
lumet or einblehi of peace; the sachems of the 
other receive it with the same ceremony.* K 
war is denounced against an enemy, it is by a 
danoe, expressive of the resentment which 
they feel, and c^ the vengeance which they 
meditate, t If the wrath of their gods is to be 
appeased, or their beneficence to be celebrat- 
ed ; if tiiey rqoice at the birth of a ^hild, or 

♦ De la Potherie, Hist. ii. 17, &c. Charlev. N. Tr. iii. 
211. 297. La Kontan, i. 100. 187. Hennepin, Decou. 

t Charlev. N. Fr. iii- 298. LaEtau, i. 523. 




BOOK mourn the death of a friend/ they have dances 
qsproprialed to each of these sttuationsy and 
suited to the different sentiments with which 
they are then animated. If a person is india- 
posedy a dance is prescribed as the most effec* 
tual means of restoring him to health ; and if 
he himself cannot endure the fatigue of such 
an exercise, the physician or conjurer performs 
it in his name, as if the virtue of his activity 
could be transferred to his patient.t 

All their dances are imitations of some ac« 
tion ; and though the music by which they are 
regulated is extremely simple and tiresome to 
the ear by its dull monotony, some of their 
dances appear wonderfully expressive and ani- 
mated. The war-dance is, perhaps, the most 
striking. It is the representation of a com- 
plete American campaign. The dq)arture of 
the warriors from their village, their march into 
the enemy's country, the caution with which 
they encamp, the address with which they sta- 
tion some of their party in ambush, the manner 
of surprising the enemy, the noise and ferocity 
of the combat, the scalping of those who are 
slain, the seizing of prisoners, the triumphant 

' * Joutely 343. Gomaray.Hist. Gen. c. 19Q. 

t Denjrs, Hist. Nat. Ids. Brickell, S72. DelaPotherie, 
ii. 86. 



return of the conquerors, and the torture of 
the victims^ are successively exhibited. The 
performers enter with such enthusiastic ardour 
into their several parts ; their gestures, their 
countenance, their voice, are so wild, and so 
well adapted to tlieir various situations, that 
Europeans can hardly believe it to be a mimic 
scene, or view it without emotions of fear and 

But however expressive s^ome of the Ameri- 
can dances may be, there is one circumstance 
in them remarkable, and connected with the 
character of the race. The songs, the daqces, 
the amusements of other nations, expressive of 
the sentiments which animate their hearts, are 
oflen adapted to display or excite that sensibili* 
ty which mutually attaches the sexes. Among 
some people, such is the ardour of this passion, 
that love is almost the sole object of festivity 
and joy ; and as rude nations are strangers to 
deh'cacy, and unaccustomed to disguise any 
emotion of their minds, their dances are often 
extremely wanton and indecent. Such is the 
Calenda, of which the natives of Africa are so 
passionately fond ;t and such the feats of the 

* De la; Potherte, ii. 116. Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 297. La- 
fitau, L523. 

f Adanson, Voyage to Senegal, iii. 287. Labat, Vbyag. 
iv.463. Sloane, Hist. Nat.of Jam. Introd. p.4d« Fermin, 
Descript. de Surin. i. 139. 




dancing girls^ which the Afiiatica contemplate 
with so much avidity of desire^ ^ut, atnoiDg 
the Americana^ more cold and indifferent to 
their females, frotn causes which I have already 
explainedi the passion of love mangles but little 
with their festivals and paattmea. Their songiB 
and dances are mostly solemn and martial j 
they are connected with some of the serious 
and important affairs of life ;* and having im> 
relation to love or gallantry, are seldom com- 
mon to the two sexes, but executed by the 
men and women apart.! If, on soine occa* 
sions, the women are permitted to join in the 
festival, the character of the entertainment is 
still the same, and no movement or gesture is 
expressive of attachment, or encour^gea fami*- 

An immoderate love of play, especially at 
games of hazard, which seems to' be natural to 
all people unaccustomed to the occupationa <^ 
regular industry, is likewise universal amoqg 
the Americans. The same causes, which so 
often prompt persona in civilized life, who ar# 

* Descript. of N. Fraatce ; 08b<mie» Col. ii. 88S. Chae- 
l€¥. N. Ff • iii. 84?. 

t Wafer's Account of Istfamus, &c. 169. h&ry ap. de 
Bry, iiL 177. Loeano, Hist, de Parag. i. 149. HerreE% 
dec 2. lib. vii. c. 8. dec. ♦• lib. x. c. 4. Sot Note LXIII. 
Page 406. 

t Barrere, Fr. Equin. p. 191. 


at their ease, to have recourse to this pastime, 
render it the delight of the savage. The for* 
mer are independent of labour, the latter do 
sot feel the necessity of it ; and as both are 
unemployed, they run with transport to what- 
ever is iotenesttng enough to stir and to agi- 
tate their minds. Hence the Americans, who 
at other times are so indifferent, so phlegmatic^ 
so silent, and animated with so few desires, as 
soon as they engage in play become rapacious, 
impatient, noisy, and almost fiantic with eager* 
Hess. Their fursr, their domestic utensils, their 
dothes, their arms, are staked at the gaming- 
table, and when all is lost, high as their sense 
of independence is, m a wild emotion of des- 
pair or of hope, they will often risk their per- 
sonal liberty upon a single cast.* Among 
several tribes, such gaming parties frequently 
recur, and become their most acceptable en- 
tertainment at every great festival. Supers 
stition, which is apt to take hold of those pas-> 
sions which are most v^orous^ finequenUy lends 
its aid to confirm and strengthen this favourite 
inclination. Their conjurors are accustomed 
to prescribe a solemn match at play, as one of 
the most efficacious methods of appeasing their 
gods, or of restoring the sick to health.t 

* Charier. N. FrAii. iiL 261. SIS. Lafil«i> ii. S98, *c. 
RHhm, Triomf. 15. BrickeH, dS& 
t Charlev. N. Fran. iiL 262. 



From causes similar to those which render 
them fond of play, the Americam are ex- 
and for tremefy addicted to drtmkenness. Ifc seems to 
have been one of the first exertions of hatnan 
ingenuity to discover some composition of an 
intoxicating quality ; and there is hardly any 
nation so rude, or so destitute of invention, as 
not to have succeeded in this fatal research. 
The most barbarous of the American tribes 
have been so unfortunate as to attain this art ; 
and even those which are so deficient in know- 
ledge, as to be unacquainted with the ndethod 
of giving an inebriating strength to liquors by 
fermentation, can accomplish the same end by 
other means. The people of the islands of 
North America, and of California, used, for 
this purpose, the smoke of tobacco, drawn up 
with a certain instrument into the nostrils, the 
fumes of which ascending to the brain^ they felt 
all the transports and phrenzy of intoxication.* 
In almost every other part of the New World, 
the natives possessed the art of extracting aii 
intoxicating liquor from maize or the manioc 
root, the same substances which they convert 
into bread. The operation* by which they eflfect 
this nearly resembles the common one of brew- 
ing, but with this difference, that in place of 

* OviedoV Hist ap. Ramud. iii. 113. . Veaeglui, i. 68. 
Naufrag. de Cabeza de Baca^ cap. 26. See Notr LXIV. 
Page 406. 


^est^ they use a naaseous infusion of a certain book 
quantity of maize or manioc chewed bj their 
women. The saliva excites a vigorous fermen- 
tation, and in a few days the liquor becomes fit 
€m drinking. It is not disagreeable to the taste, 
and when swallowed in large quantities, is of 
an intoxicating quality.* This is the general 
beverage of the Amaicans, which they distin- 
guish by various names, and for which they feel 
such a violent and insatiable desire, as it is not 
^asy, either to conceive or describe. Among 
polished nations, where a succession of various 
functions and amusements keq)s the mind in 
continual occupation, the desire for strong 
drink is regulated in a great measure by the 
climate, and increases or diminishes according 
to the variations of its temperature. In warm 
regions, the delicate and sensible frame of the 
inhabitants does not require the stimulation of 
fermented liquors. In colder countries, the 
constituti(m of the natives, more robust and 
more sluggish, stands in need of generous 
liquors to quicken and animate it. But among 
savages, the desire of something that is of 
power to intoxicate, is in every situation the 
same. All the people of America, if we except 
some small tribes near the Straits of Magellan, 
whether natives of the torrid zone, or inhabi- 

♦ Stadius ap, de Bry, iiL IIL Lery, ibid. 175. 


BOOK tants of its more temperate rtgiimBf or placed 
by a harder fate in the sev^e climates towardi 
its northera or southern extremity^ appear to 
be equally under the dominion of tUs appe^ 
tite.* Such a similarity of taste, among people 
in such different aituations, mutt be ascribed 
to the influence of some moral cause, and 
cannot be considered as the effect of ai^ phy- 
sical or constitutional want While engaged 
in war or in the chase, the savage is often in 
the most interesting situations, and all the 
powers of his nature are roused to the most vi* 
gorous exertions. But those animating scenes 
are succeeded by long intervals of repose, dur- 
ing which the warrior meets with nothing that 
he deems of sufficient dignity or importance te 
merit his attention. He languishes and mopes 
in this season of indolence. The posture of 
his body is an emblem of the state of his mind. 
In one climate, cowering over the fire in his 
cabin ; in another, stretched under the shade 
of some tree, he* dozes away his time in deep^ 
or in an unthinking joyless inactivity, not &r 
removed from it. As strong liquors awake 
him from this torpid state, give a brisker mo- 

* Gumilla, i. 257. Lozano, Descn del Gran Chaco, 5(5. 
103. Ribas, 8. UUoa, i. 249. 337. Marchai8,.iv. 436. 
Fernandez, Mission, de los Chequit. 35. Barrere, p, 203. 
Blanco, Conrera. de Piritu, 31. 



lion to his ipiri4»» and eiriivefl him more tho* 
rmigblj than either dancing or g»mti^ hia 
lav^oCthemisaxceastvet A 8av«ge^ whea not 
ejigi^ed in action* is a pranve melancholy ani- 
mal i but as soon as he taates, <Nr has a pro- 
spect of tasting, the intoxicating draiigfatf ha 
becomes gay and frolicsome.* Whatever be 
the occasion or pretext on which the Ajneri- 
cttus aasemblet the meeting always terminates 
in a debauch. Many of their festivals have 
no oth^ ob^tt and they welcome the return 
of tbem with transports of joy. As they are 
qot accustomed to restrain any appetite, tliey 
sat no bounds to this. The riot often conti* 
Dues without intermission several days; and 
whatever may be the fatal effe^ of their ex<r 
cess, they never cease. from driidcing as long 
^ one drop of li<pior remains. The persons 
of greatest eminence, the most distinguished 
warriors, and the chiefs most renowned fof 
their wiadom> have no greater command of 
themselves than the most obscure member of 
the community. Their eagerness for present 
enjoyment renders them blind to its fatal con* 
sequences } and those very men» who in other 
situations seem to possess a force of mind more 
than human, are in this instance inferior to 
children in foresight, as well as consideration^ 

* Melendez Tesoros Verda^ iiu 869. 


BOOK and mere riaves of brutal appetife.* When 
their passions, naturally strong, are heightened 
and inflamed by drink, they are guilty of the 
most enormous outrages, and the festivity sel- 
dom concludes without deeds of violence or 

But, amidst this wild debauch, there is one 
circumstance remarkable ; the women, in most 
of the American tribes, are not permitted to 
partake of it. t Their province is to prepare 
the liquor, to serve it about to the guests, and 
to take care of their husbands and friends, 
when their reason is oveqpowered. Tliis ex- 
clusion of the women from an enjoyment so 
highly valued by savages, may be justly con- 
sidered as a mark of their inferiority, and as 
an additional evidence of that contempt with 
which they were treated in the New World. 
The people of North America, when first dis- 
covered, were not acquainted with any intoxi- 
cating drink ; but as the Europeans early 
found it their interest to supply them with spi- 
rituous liquors, drunkenness soon became as 
universal among them as among their country- 
men to the south ; and their women having 

• Ribas, 9. UUoa, i. 338. 

t Lettr. Edif. ii. 178. Torqueoiada^ Mod, Ind. i, 339. 

t fice Note LXV. Page 407-' 



acquired this new taste, indulge it with as little b^« 
decency and moderation as the men.* 

It were endless to enumerate all the detach- put to 
ed customs which have excited the wonder of J^jjj 
travellers in America ; but I cannot omit one 
seemingly as singular as any that has been 
mentioned. When their parents and other re- 
lations become old, or labour under any dis- 
temper which their slender knowledge of the 
bealing art cannot remove, the Americans cut 
short their days with a violent hand, in order 
to be relieved from the burden of supporting 
and tending them. This practice prevailed 
a:mong the ruder tribes in every part of the 
continent, from Hudson's Bay to the river De 
la Plata ; and however shocking it may be to 
those sentiments of tenderness and attachment, 
which, in civilized life, we are apt to consider 
as congenial with our frame, the condition of 
man in the savage state leads and reconciles 
him to it. The same hardships and difficulty 
of procuring subsistence, which deter savages, 
in some cases, from rearing their children, 
prompt them to destroy the aged and infirm. 
The declining state of the one is as helpless as 
the infancy of the other. The former are no 

* Hutchinson, Hist, of Massachus. 469. Lafitau, ii. 125. 
Sagard, 146. 



5^^ less uaable than the latter to perforin the ftmc- 
tions that belong to a warrior or buntert or t^^ 
endure, those various distresses in which sava- 
ges are so often involved, by tbeir o^ want of 
foresight and industry. Their relations feel 
this ; andr incapable of attending to the wanta 
or weaknesses of others, their impatience un« 
der an additional burden prompts them to ex-- 
tinguish that life which they find ii dificult to 
sustain. This is not regarded as a deed of 
cruelty, but as an act of mercy. An Amen-* 
can, broken with years and infirmities, con* 
scious that he can no longer depend on the aid 
^ those around him, places himself contented- 
ly in his grave ; and it is by the hands of bis 
children or nearest relations that the thong ia 
pulled, or the blow inflicted, which releasee 
him for ever from the sorrows of life.* 

of their 

IX* After contemplating the rude Ameri- 
can tribes in such various lights ; after faking 
a view of their customs and manners from so 
many different stations, nothing remains but 
to f<»*m a general estimate of their character^ 
compared with that of more polidied nations* 
A human being, as he comes originally from 
the hand of nature, is everywhere the same. 

* Gassani, Hist, de N. ReyiK> de Gran. p. 300. Pit o, 
p. 6. Ellis, Voy. 191. Gumilla, i. 333. 


At hk first appearanoe in the state of infancy^ book 
whether it be among the rudest savages or in 
the most civilized nation, we can discera no 
quality whkh marks any distinction or supe« 
riority. The capacity of improvemart. seems 
to be the same j and the talents he may after* 
wards acquire, as well as the virtues he owy 
be rendered capable of exercising, depend, in 
a great measure, upon the state of society in 
which he is placed. To this state his mind 
naturally accommodates itself and from it re« 
ceives discipline and culture. In proportion 
to the wants which* it accustoms a human be* 
ing to feel, and the functions in which these 
engage him, his intellectual powers are called 
forth. According to the connexions which it 
establishes between him and- the rest of bis 
qpecies, the affections of his heart are exerted. 
It is only by attending to this great principle, 
that we can discover what is the character of 
man in every different period of bis progress. 

If we apply it to savage life, and measure the 
attainments of the human mind in that state 
by this standard, we shall find, according to an 
observatk>tt which I have already made, that 
t)\e intelleetual powers of man must be ex- 
tremely limited in their operations. They are 
conned within the narrow sphere of what be 
deems necessary for supjrfying his own wants. 
Whatever has not some relation to these, nei^ 



BOOK titer attraicts his attention, nor is the object or 
his inquiries. But however narrow the bounds 
oiay be within which the knowledge of a savage 
is circumscribed, he possesses thoroughly that 
small pc»lion which he has attained. It was 
not communicated to him by formal instruc- 
tion ; he does not attend to it as a matter of 
mere 8|)eculation and curiosity ; it is the re- 
sult of his own observation, the fruit of h» 
own experience, and accommodated to his con- 
dition and exigencies. While employed in 
the active occupations of war or of hunting, 
he often finds himself in difficult and perilous 
situations, from which the efforts .of his own 
sagacity must extricate him. He is frequently 
engaged in measures, where every step depends 
upon his own ability to decide ; where he. must 
rely solely upon his own penetration to discern 
the dangers to which he is exposed, and upon 
his own wisdom in providing against them. 
In consequence of this, he feels the knowledge 
which he possesses, and the efforts which he 
■*■■ makes; and, either in deliberation or action, 

rests on himself alone. 

PoHiieai As the talcuts of individuals are exercised 

and improved by such exertions, much politi- 
cal wisdom is said to be displayed in conduct- 
ing the affairs of their small communities. 
The council of old men in an American tribe, 
deliberating upon its interests, and determin- 



ing with respect to peace or war^ has been com- ^^^^ 
pared to the senate in more polished republics* 
The proceedings of the former, we are told^ 
are often no less formal and sagacious than 
those of the latter. Great political vrisdom is 
exhibited in pondering the various measures 
proposed, and in balancing their probable ad- 
vantages against the evils of which they may 
be productive. Much address^ and eloquence 
are employed by the leaders, who aspire at ac« 
quiring such confidence with their countrymen 
as to have an ascendant in those assemblies** 
But, among savage tribes, the field for dis- 
playing political talents cannot be extensive. 
Where the idea of private property is incom- 
plete, and no criminal jurisdiction ia establish- 
ed, there is hardly any function of internal 
government to exercise. Where there is no 
commerce, and scarcely any intercourse among 
separate tribes ; where enmity is implacable, 
and hostilities are carried on almost without 
intermission ^ there will be few points of pub- 
lic concern to adjust with their neighbours ; 
and that department of their affairs which may 
be denominated foreign, cannot be so intricate 
as to require much refined policy in conduct- 
ing it. Where individuals are so thoughtless 
and improvident as seldom to take effectual 

♦ Charley. N. Fr. iii. 269, &c. 


BOOK precautions for self-preservation, it is vain to 
'^^ Ij^' expect that public mesisures and deliberations 
will be regulated by the contemplation of re- 
mote events. It is the genius of savages to 
act from the impulse of present passion. Tb^ 
have neither foresight nor temper to form com* 
plicated arrangeimeiits with respect to their fu«^ 
tore conduct. Tt^e consultations of the Ame- 
ricans, indeed, are po frequent, std their nego* 
ciations are so many,* and so long protracted; 
as to give their proceedings an extraordinary ^ 
aspect of wisdom. But this is not owing so 
mnch to the depth of their schemes, as to the 
coldness and phlegm of their temper, which 
render them slow in determining.t If we ex- 
cept the celebrated league that united thd 
Five Nations in Canada into a federal republic^ 
which shall be' considered in its proper place^ 
we can discern few such traces of political wis- 
dom among the rude American tribes, as dis- 
cover any great degree of foresight, or extent 
of intellectual abilities. Even among them, we 
shall find public measures more fi'equently di- 
rected by the impetuous ferocity of their youths 
than regulated by the experience and wisdom 
of their old men. 

♦ See NoTB LXVI. Page 407. 
t Chariev. N. Fr. iii. 271. 


As the coodttion of man in the savage state 
is unfavourable to the progress of the under* 
standing, it has a tendency likewise^ in some 
respects, to check the exercise of affection, and 
to render the heart contracted. The strongest 
ieeling in the mind of a savage, is a sense of 
his own independence. He has sacrificed so 
small a portion of his natural liberty by beconu 
ing a member of society, that he remains, in 
a great degree, the sole master of his own ac* 
tions.* He oflen takes his resolutions alone, 
without consulting, or ieeling any connexion 
with the persons around him. In many of his 
operations, he stands as much detached from 
the rest of his species, as if he had formed no 
union with them. Conscbus how little he de* 
pends upcm other men, he is apt to view them 
with a careless indifference. Even the force of 
his mind contributes to increase this uncon* 
cern ; and as he looks not beyond himself in 
deliberating with respect to the part which he 
should act, his solicitude about the conse* 
• canoes of it seldom ext^^ farther. He pur« 
sues his own career, and indulges his own fmcy, 
without i»|uiring or regarding whether what 
he does be agreeable or offensive to others, 
whetiber they may derive benefit or receive 
liurt from it. Hence the ungovernable caprice 

* Fernandee^ Iff tiuiaa. de los Cbequit. S3. 

' 46 



^^^^ of savages, their impatience under any species 
v^py^ of restraint, their inability to suppress or mode- 
rate any inclination, the scorn or neglect with 
which they receive advice, their high estima- 
tion of themselves, and their contempt of other 
men. Among them, the pnde of independence 
produces almost the same effects with inter^t* 
edness in a more advanced state of society : it 
refers every thing to a man himself; it leads 
him to be indifierent about the manner in 
which his actions may affect other men ; and 
renders the gratification of his own wishes the 
measure and end of conduct. 

Hardness To the samc cause may be imputed the hard* 
**^ ness of heart, and insensibility, remarkable ia 
all savage nations. Their minds, roused only 
by strong emotions, are little susceptible o£ 
gentle, delicate, or tender a£fection6.* Their 
union is so incomplete, that each individual 
acts as if he retained all his natural rights en- 
tire and undiminished. If a favour is confer- 
red upon him, or any beneficial service is per- 
formed on his account, he receives it with 
much satisfaction, because it contributes to 
his enjoyment ; but this sentiment extends not 
beyond himself; it excites no sense of obliga- 
tion ; he jfipther feels gratitude, nor thinks of 

* Charley. N. Fr. iii. 309. 


making any return.* Even among persons the book 
most dosely connected, the exchange of those \,^yl^ 
good offices which sftxengthen attachment, moU 
lify the heart, arid sweeten the intercourse of 
life, is not frequent. The high ideas of inde- 
pefidenee among the Americans nourish a sul* 
len reserve, which keeps them at a distance 
from e^ach other. .The nearest relations are 
mutually afraid to make any demand, or to soli* 
cit any service,! lest it should be considered by 
the other as imposing a burden, or laying a re* 
straint upon his will. 

I HAVE already remarked the influence of iMa»«Wp 
this bard unf(^eling temper upon domestic life, 
with respect to the connexion between hus- 
band and wife, as well as that between parents 
and children. Its effects are no less conspi- 
cuous, in the performance of those mutual 
offices of ' tenderness which the infirmities of 
our nature frequetitly exact. Among some 
tribes, when any of their number are seized 
with any violent disease, they are generally 
abandoned by all around them, who, careless 
of their recovery, fly in the utmost consterna- 
tion from the supposed danger of infection, t 

* Oviedo, Hist. lib. xvi. c. 2. See Note LXVII. Page 
408. t De la Potherie, iiL 28. 

i Lettre de P. Cataneo ap. Muratori Christian, i. 309. 
Tertre, ii. ^lO. LcKsano, 100. Hcrrera, dec. 4. lib. yiii. 



But even where they are not thus deserted^ 
the cold indifference with which they are at- 
tended can afford them little consolation. No 
look of sympathy, no soothing expressions, no 
officious services, contribute to alleviate the 
distress of the sufferers, or to make them for- 
get what they endure.* Their nearest relations 
will often refuse to submit to the smallest in- 
conveniency, or to part with the least trifle, 
however much it may tend to their accommo- 
dation or relief.t So little is the breast of a 
savage susceptible of those sentiments which 
prompt men to that feeling attention which 
mitigates the calamities of human life, that, in 
some provinces of America, the Spaniards have 
found it necessary to enforce the common 
duties of humanity by positive laws, and to 
oblige husbands and wives, parents and chil- 
dren, under severe penalties, to take care of 
each other during their sickness, t The same 
harshness of temper is still more conspicuous 
in their treatment of the animal creation. Prior 
to their intercourse with the people of Europe, 
\he North Americans had some tame dogs, 
which accompanied them in their hunting ex- 

c. 5. dec. 5. lib. iv. c. 2. Falkner's Descript. of Patagonia, 

* Gumilla, i. 329. Lozano, 100. 

t Garcia Origen, Sec. 90. Herrera, dec. 4. lib. riii. c. 5. 

t Cogulludo, Hist, de Yucathan, p. 300. 

mSTOftY or AMERICA. «27 

cursionsy and served them with all the ardour 
and fidelity peculiar to the species. But, in- 
stead of that fond attachment which the hunter 
natiirally feels towards those useful companions 
of his toils, they requite their services with 
neglect, seldom feed, and never caress them.* 
In other provinces the Americans have become 
acquainted with the domestic animals of Eu- 
rope, and avail themselves of their service ; but 
it is universally observed that they always treat 
them harsh]y,t and never employ any method, 
either for breaking or managing them, but 
force and cruelty. In every part of the de- 
portment of man in his savage state, whether 
towards his equals of the human species, or 
towards the animals below him, we recognize 
the same character, and trace the operations of 
a mind intent on its own gratifications, and 
regulated by its own caprice, with little atten- 
tion or sensibility to the sentiments and feel- 
ings of the beings around him. 

After explaining how unfavourable the Tadtur- 
savage state is to the cultivation of the under- ^ 
standing, and to the improvement of the heart, 
I should not have thought it necessary to men- 
tion what may be deemed its lesser defects, if 

* Charlev. N. Fr. iii. 119. 3S7. 
f Ulloa, Notic. American* SI 2. 


the character of nations, as well as of irtdhi- 
duals, were not often more distinctly tnarked 
by circumstainces apparently trivial than by 
those of greater moment. A savage, frequent- 
ly placed in situations of danger and distress, 
depending on himself alone, and wrapped up 
in his own thoughts and schemes, is a serious 
melancholy animal. His attention to others is 
small. The range of his own ideas is narrow. 
Hence that taciturnity which is so disgusting 
to men accustomed to the open intercourse of 
social conversation. When they are not en- 
gaged in action, the Americans often sit whole 
days in one posture, without opening their 
lips.* When they go forth to war, or to the 
chase, they usually march in a line at some 
distance from one another, and without ex- 
changing a word. The same profound silence 
is observed when they row together in a canoe.t 
It is only when they are animated by intoxi- 
cating liquors, or roused by the jollity of the 
festival and dance, that they become gay and 

Cunning. To the Same causes may be imputed the re- 
fined cunning with which they form and exe- 
cute their schemes. Men who are not habi- 
tuated to a liberal communication of their own 

* Voyage de Bouguer, 102. f Gharlev. iii. 340. 



sentiments and wishes, are apt to be so dis- book 
trustful, as to place little confidence in others. 

and to have recourse to an insidious craft in 
accomplishing their own purposes. In civiliz- 
ed life, those persons who, by their situations, 
have but a few objects of pursuit on which 
their minds incessantly dwell, are most re- 
markable for low artifice in carrjring on their 
little projects* Among savages, whose views 
are equally confined, and their attention no 
less persevering, those circumstances must ope- 
rate still more powerfully, and gradually ac- 
custom them to a disingenuous subtlety in all 
their transactions. The force of this is in- 
creased by habits which they acquire in carry- 
ing on the two most interesting operations 
wherein they are engaged. With them war is 
a system of craft, in which they trust for suc- 
cess tQ stratagem more than to open force, and 
have their invention continually on the stretch 
to circumvent and surprise their enemies. As 
hunters, it is their constant object to ensnare, 
in order that they may destroy. Accordingly, 
art and cunning have been universally observ- 
ed as distinguishing characteristics of all sava- 
ges. The people of the rude tribes of America 
are remarkable for their artifice and duplicity. 
Impenetrably secret in forming their measures, 
they pursue them with a patient undeviating 
attention ; and there is no refinement of dissi- 
mulation which they cannot employ, in order 




to ensure success. The natives of Peru were 
engaged above thirty years, in concerting the 
plan of that insurrection which took place un- 
der the vice-royalty of the Marquis de Villa- 
Garcia ; and though it was communicated to a 
great number of persons, in all different ranks, 
no indication of it ever transpired during that 
long period ; no man betrayed his trust, or by 
an unguarded look, or rash word, gave rise to 
any suspicion of what was intended.* The 
dissimulation and craft of individuals is no less 
remarkable than that of nations. When set 
upon deceiving, they wrap themselves up so 
artificially, that it is impossible to penetrate in- 
to their intentions, or to detect their designs.! 


dent spirit 

But if there be defects or vices peculiar to 
the savage state, there are likewise virtues 
which it inspires, and good qualities to the 
exercise of which it is friendly. The bonds of 
society sit so loose 'upon the members of the 
more rude American tribes, that they hardly 
feel any restraint. Hence the spirit of inde- 
pendence, which is the pride of a savage, and 
which he considers as the unalienable preroga- 
tive of man. Incapable of controul, and dis- 
daining to acknowledge any superior, his mind. 

* Voyage de Ulloa, ii. 309. 

t Gumilla, i. 162. Charley, iii. 109. 


tliough limited in its powers, and erring in book 
many of its pursuits, acquires such elevation ^^^^^^ 
by the consciousness of its own freedom, that 
he acts on some occasions with astonishing 
force, and perseverance, and dignity. 

As independence nourishes this high spirit Fortkndt. 
among savages, the perpetual wars in which 
they are engaged call it forth into action. 
Such long intervals of tranquillity as are fre- 
quent in polished societies, are unknown in the 
savage state. Their enmities, as I have ob- 
served, are implacable and immortal. The 
valour of the young men is never allowed to . 
rust in inaction. The hatchet is always in 
their hand, either for attack or defence. Even 
in their hunting excursions, they must be on 
their guard against surprise from the hostile 
tribes by which they are siurounded. Accus* 
tomed to continual alarms, they grow familiar 
with danger ; courage becomes an habitual 
virtue, resulting naturally from their situation, 
and strengthened by constant exertions. The 
mode of displaying fortitude may not be the 
same in small and rude communities, as in 
more powerful and civilized states. Their sys- 
tem of war, and standard of valour, may be 
formed upon different principles, but in no situ- 
ation does the human mind rise more superior 
to the sense of danger, or the dread of death, 
than in its most simple and uncultivated state. 



Another virtue remarkable among savages^ 
is attachment to the community of which they 
are members. From the nature <^ their poli- 
tical union, one might expect this tie to be ex- 
tremely feeble. But there are circumstances 
which render the influence, even of their loose 
mode of association, very powerful. The Ame- 
rican tribes are small : combined against their 
neighbours, in prosecution of ancient enmities, 
or in avenging recent injuries, their interests 
and operations are neither numerous nor com- 
plex. These are objects^ which the unculti- 
vated understanding of a savage can compre- 
hend. His heart is capaUe of forming con- 
nexions which are so Httle diffused. He assents 
with warmth to public measures, dictated by 
passions similar to those' which direct his own 
conduct. Hence the ardour with which indi- 
viduals undertake the. most perilous $ervice9 
when the community deems it necessary. 
Hence their fierce and deep-rooted antipathy 
to the public enemies. Hence their zeal for 
the honour of their tribe, and that love of their 
country, which prompts them to brave danger 
that it may triumph, and to endure the most 
exquisite torments, without a groan, that it 
may not be disgraced. 

sadsfacdon Thus, in eveiT situation where a human 
own oondi- being can be placed, even in the most unfa- 
vourable, there are virtues which peculiarly 


beloBg to it ; there are affections which it calls book 
forth ; there is a species of happiness which it 
yields. Nature, with most beneficent inten* 
tion, conciliates and forms the mind to its con* 
dition ; the ideas and wishes of man extend not 
beyond that state of society to which he is 
habituated. What it presents as objects of con- 
templation or enjoyment, fills and satisfies his 
mind, and he can hardly conceive any other 
mode of life to be pleasant, or even tolerable. 
The Tartar, accustomed to roam over exten* 
sive plains, and to subsist on the product of his 
herds, imprecates upon his enemy, as the 
greatest of all curses, that he may be con« 
demned to reside in one place^ and to be 
nourished with the top of a weed. The rude 
Americans, fond of their own pursuits, and 
satisfied with their own lot, are equally unable 
to comprehend the intention or utility of the 
various accommodations, which, in more po- 
lished society, are deemed essential to the 
comfort of life. Far from complaining of their 
own situation, or viewing that of men in a 
more improved state with admiration or envy, 
they regard themselves as the standard of ex- 
cellence, as beings the best entitled, as well as 
the most perfectly qualified, to enjoy real hap- 
piness. Unaccustomed to any restraint upon 
their will or their actions, they behold with 
amazement the inequality of rank, and the 
subordination which takes place in civilized 



life, and consider the voluntary submission i^f 
one man to another, as a renunciation^ no less 
base than unaccountable, of the first distinc- 
tion of humanity. Void of foresight, as well 
as free from care themselves, and delighted 
with that state of indolent security, they won- 
der at the anxious precautions, the unceasing 
industry, and complicated arrangements of 
Europeans, in guarding against distant evils, 
or providing for future wants ; and they often 
exclaim against their preposterous folly, in thus 
multiplying the troubles and increasing the 
labour of life.* This preference of their own 
manners is conspicuous on every occasion. 
Even the names by which the various nations 
wish to be distinguished, are assumed from 
this idea of their own pre-eminence. The ap- 
pellation which the Iroquois give to themselves 
is, the chief of men.\ Caraibe^ the original 
name of the fierce inhabitants of the Wind- 
ward Islands, signifies, the warlike people.t 
The Cherokees, from an idea of their own su- 
periority, call the Europeans Nothings, or the 
accursed race, and assume to themselves the 
name of the beloved people.^ The same prin- 
ciple regulated the notions of the other Ame- 

* Charley. N. Fr. iii. 308. Lahontan, ii. 97. 

f Coldan, i. S. 

X Rochefort, Hist des Antilles^ 4e55. 

§ Adair, Hist, of Amer. Indians, p. 82. 


licans concerning the Europeans ; for although, book 
at first, they were filled with astonishment at 
their arts, and with dread of their power, they 
soon came to abate their estimation of men 
whose maxims of life were so difierent from 
their own. Hence they called them the froth 
qfthe seOf men without father or mother. They 
supposed, that either they had no country of 
their own, and therefore invaded that which 
belonged to others ;* or that, being destitute of 
the necessaries of life at home, they were 
obliged to roam over the ocean, in order to rob 
such as were more amply provided. 

Men, thus satisfied with their condition, are 
far from any inclination to relinquish their own 
habits, or to adopt those of civilized life. The 
transition is too violent to be suddenly made. 
Even where endeavours have been used to 
wean a savage from his own customs, and to 
render the accommodations of polished society 
^miliar to him ; even where he has been allow- 
ed to taste of those pleasures, and has been 
honoured with those distinctions, which are 
the chief objects of our desire, he droops and 
languishes under the restraint of laws and 
forms, he seizes the first opportunity of break- 
ing loose from them, and returns with transport 

* Benzon. Hift. Novi Orbit, lib, iii. c, 21. 



to the forest or the wild, where he can enjoy a 
careless and uncontrolled freedom** 

Thus I have finished a laborious delineation 
of the character and manners of the uncivilized 
tribes scattered over the vast continent of Ame- 
rica. In this, I aspire not at rivalling the great 
masters who have painted and adorned savage 
life, either in boldness of design, or in the glow 
and beauty of their colouring. I am satisfii^ed 
with the more humble merit of having per- 
sisted with patient industry, in viewing my 
subject in many various lights, and collecting 
from the most accurate observers such detach- 
ed, and often minute features, ^ as might enable 
me to exhibit a portrait that resembles the ori- 

General Before I closc this part of mv work, one 

caution » 

withreipect observation more is necessary, in order to jus- 
^ '*"' tify the conclusions 'which I have formed, or 


to prevent the mistakes into which such as 
examine them may falL In contemplating the 
inhabitants of a country so widely extended as 
America, great attention should be paid to the 
diversity of climates under which they are 
placed. The influence of this I have pointed 
put with respect to several important particu- 

* Charlev. N. Fr. Hi. 322. 



iars whidi iaye been the object of research ; 9^^* 
but even where it has not been mentioned, it 
ought, not to be overlooked. The provinces of 
America are of such different temperament, 
that this alone is sufficient to constitute a dis- 
tinction between their inhabitants. In every 
part of the earth where man exists, the power 
of climates operates, with decisive influence, 
upon his condition and character. In those 
countries which approach near to the extremes 
of heat or cold, this influence is so conspicuous 
as to strike every eye. Whether we consider 
man merely as an animal, or as being ei^dowed 
with rational powers which fit him for activity 
and speculation, we shall find that he has uni- 
formly attained the greatest perfection of which 
his nature is capable, in the temperate regions 
of the globe. There his constitution is most 
vigorous, his organs most acute, and his form 
most beaiitiful. . There, too, he possesses a 
superior extent of capacity, greater fertility of 
imagination, more enterprising courage, and a 
sensibility of heart which gives birth to desires 
not only ardent but persevering. Ih this fa- 
vourite situation he has displayed the utmost 
efforts of his geniu^, in literature, in policy, in 
commerce, in war, and in all the arts which im- 
prove or embellish life** 

* Dr Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society, 
part iii. c. 1. 


BOOK Xhis powerful operation of climate is felt 
most sensibly by rude nations, atid produces 
greater effects than in societies more improved. 
The talents of civilized men are continually 
exerted in rendering their own condition more 
comfortable ; and, by their ingenuity and in- 
ventions, they can, in a great measure, supply 
the defects, and guard against the inconve- 
niences of any climate. But the improvident 
savage is affected by every circumstance pecu- 
liar to his situation. He takes no precaution 
either to mitigate or improve it. Like a plant 
or an animal, he is formed by the climate un- 
der which he is placed, and feels the full force 
of its influence. 

In surveying the rude nations of America, 
this natural distinction between the inhabitants 
of the temperate and torrid zones is very re- 
markable. They may, accordingly, be divided 
into two great classes. The one comprehends 
all the North Americans, from the river St 
Laurence to the Gulf of Mexico, together with 
the people of Chili, and a few small tribes to- 
wards the extremity of the southern continent. 
To the other belong all the inhabitants of the 
islands, and those settled in the various pro- 
vinces which extend from the Isthmus of 
• Darien almost to the southern confines of 
Brasil, along the east side of the Andes. In 
the former, which comprehends all the regions. 


of the temperate zone that in America are in- 
habited, the human species appears manifestly 
to be more perfect. The natives are more 
robust, more active, more intelligent, and 
more coumgeous. They possess, in the most 
eminent degree, that force of mind and love 
of independence, which I have pointed out 
as the chief virtues of man in his savage state* 
They have defended their liberty with perse- 
vering fortitude against the Europeans, who 
subdued the other rude nations of America 
with the greatest ease* The natives of the 
temperate zone are the only people in the New 
World who are indebted for their freedom 
to their own valour. The North Americans, 
though long encompassed by three formidable 
European powers, still retain part of their ori- 
ginal possessions, and continue to exist as 
independent nations. The people of Chili, 
though early invaded, still maintain a gallant 
contest with the Spaniards, and have set 
bounds to their encroachments; whereas, in 
the warmer regions, men are more feeble in 
their frame, less vigorous in the efforts of their 
mind, of a gentle but dastardly spirit, more 
enslaved by pleasure, and more sunk in indo- 
lence. Accordingly, it is in the torrid zone 
that the Europeans have most completely esta- 
blished their dominion over America ; the most 
fertile and desirable provinces in it are sub- 
jected to their yoke j and if several tribes there 



BOOK still enjoy independence, it is either because 
^^* they have never been attacked by an enemy 
already satiated with conquest, and possessed 
of larger territories than he was able to occupy, 
or because they have been saved from oppres- 
sion by their remote and inaccessible situa- 

Conspicuous as this distinction may appear 
between the inhabitants of those different re- 
gions, it is not, however, universal. Moral 
and political causes, as I have formerly ob- 
served, afiect the disposition and character of 
individuals, as well as nations, still more power- 
fully than the influence of climate. There 
are, accordingly, some tribes, in various parts 
of the torrid zone, possessed of courage, high 
spirit, and the love of independence, in a de- 
gree hardly inferior to the natives of more 
temperate climates. We are too little ac- 
quainted with the history of those people, to 
be able to trace the several circumstances in 
their progress and condition, to which they 
are indebted for this remarkable prei-eminence* 
The fact, nevertheless, is certain. As early as 
the first voyage of Columbus, he received in- 
formation that several of the islands were in- 
habited by the Caribbees^ a fierce race of men, 
nowise resembling their feeble and timid neigh- 
bours. In his second expedition to the New 
World, he found this information to be just. 


and was himself a witness of their intrepid 
valour.* The same character they have main- 
tained invariably in all subsequent contests 
with the people of Europe ;t and, even in our 
own times, we have seen them make a gallant 
Btand in defence of the last territory which 
the rapacity of their invaders had left in their 
possession^ Some nations in Brasil were no 
less eminent for vigour of mind and bravery 
in war.§ The people of the Isthmus of Darien 
boldly met the Spaniards in the field, and fre- 
quently repelled those formidable invaders. 11 
Other instances might be produced. It is not 
by attending to any single cause or principle, 
liow powerful and extensive soever its influ- 
ence may appear, that we can explain the - 
actions, or account for the character of men. 
Even the law of climate, more universal, per- 
haps, in its operation than any that affects the 
human species, cannot be applied, in judging 
of their conduct, without many exceptions. 

* Life of Columbus, c. 47, 48. See Note LXVIIL 
Page 408. 

f Bochefort, Hist, des Antilles, 53h 
* i See Note LXIX. Page 409. 

§ Lery ap. de Bry, iii. 207, &c. 

II Herrera, dec. 1. lib. x. c. 15, &c. ; dec. 2. passim* 








When Grijalva returned to Cuba, he found 
the armament destined to attempt the con- 
quest of that rich country which he had dis- pJ^ 
covered, almost complete. Not only ambition, ^ona ot 
but avarice, had urged Velasquez to hasten foTi^ 
his preparations ; and having such a prospect ^^^ 
of gratifyihg both, he had advanced consider- 
able sums out of his priiote fortune towards 
defraying the expense of the expedition. At 
the same time, he exerted his influence as go- 
vernor, in engaging the most distinguished per- 
sons in the colony to undertake the service.* 

* See Note LXX. Page 410. 



At a time when the spirit of the Spanish na- 
tion was adventurous to excess, a number of 
soldiers, eager to embark in any daring enter- 
prise, soon appeared. But it was not so easy 
to find a person qualified to take the command 
in an expedition of so much importance ; and 
the character of Velasquez, who had the right 
of nomination, greatly increased the difficulty 
of the choice. Though of most aspiring ambi- 
tion, and not destitute of talents for govern- 
ment, he possessed neither such courage, nor 
«uch vigour and activity of mind, as to under- 
take in person the conduct of the armament 
which he was preparing. In this embarrassing 
situation^ he formed the chimerical scheme, 
not only of achieving great exploits by a de- 
puty, but of securing to himself the glory of 
conquests which were to be made by another. 
In the execution of this plan, he fondly aimed 
at reconciling contradictions. He was solicit 
tons to choose a commander of intrepid reso- 
lution, and of superior abilities, because h& 
knew these to be requisite in order to ensure 
success ; but, at th^ same time, from the jea- 
lousy natural to little minds, he wished this 
person to be of a spirit so tame and obsequi- 
ous, as to be entirely dependent on his will. 
But when, he came to apply those ideas in 
forming an opinion concerning the several 
officers who occurred to his thoughts as wor- 
thy of being entrusted with the command, he 


Soon perceived that it was impossible to find 
such incompatible qualities united in one cha* 
racter. Such as were distinguished for cou- ^^^^ 
rage and talents^ were too high-spirited to be 
passive instruments in his hands. Those who 
appeared more gentle and tractable, were des- 
titute of capacity, and unequal to the charger 
This augmented his perplexity and his fears. 
He deliberated long, and with much solicitude, 
and was still wavering in his choice, when 
Amador de Lares, the royal treasurer in Cuba, 
and Andres Duero, his own secretary, the 
two persons in whom he chiefly confided, were 
encouraged by this irresolution to propose a 
new candidate, and they supported their re- 
commendation with such assiduity and address,, 
that, no less fatally for Velasquez than happily 
for their country, it proved successful.* 

The matt whom they pointed out to him was Hf «?- 
Peniando Cortes. He was born at Medellin, cortescom' 
a small town in Estremadura, in the year one 
thousand four hundred and eighty-five, and 
descended from a family of noble blood, but 
of very moderate fortune. Being originally 
destined by hijs jpareAts to the study oClaw, as 
the most likely method^ of bettering his con- 

* B. Diaz> c. 19. Gomara, Cron. c. 7* Herrera, dec 2, 
libtiii. c. 12. 


dition, he was sent early to the university of 
_ Salamanca, where he imbibed some tincture of 
ws. learning. • But he was soon disgusted with an 
academic life, which did not suit his ardent and 
restless genius, and retired to Medellin, where 
he gave himself up entirely to active sports and 
martiar exercises. At this period of life, he 
was so impetuous, so overbearing, and so dis- 
sipated, that his father was glad to comply 
with his inclination, and send him abroad as 
an adventurer in arms. There were in that 
age two conspicuous theatres, on which such 
of the Spanish youth as courted military glory 
might display their valour ; one in Italy, under 
the command of the Great Captain ; the other 
in the New World. Cortes preferred the for- 
mer, but was prevented by indisposition from 
embarking with a reinforcement of troops sent 
to Naples. Upon this disappointment he turn- 
ed his views towards America, whether he was 
allured by the prospect of the advantages which 
he might derive from the patronage of Ovan- 
. do,* the governor of Hispaniola, who -was his 
kinsman. When he landed at St Domingo in 
one thousand five hundred and four, his recep- 
tion was such as equalled his fnost sanguine 
hopes, and he was employed by the governor 
in several honourable and lucrative stations. 

* See Note LXXI. JPage 415. 


These, however^ did not satisfy his ambition ; 
and in the year one thousand five hundred and 
eleven he Obtained permission to accompany i^i^ 
Diego Velasquez in bis expedition to Cuba» 
In this service he distinguished himself so 
much, that notwithifttanding some violent con- 
tests with Velasquez, occasioned by trivial 
events unworthy of remembrance, he was at 
length taken into favour, and received an ample 
concession of lands and of Indians, the recom- 
pense usually bestowed upon adventurers in 
the New World.* 

Though Cortes bad not hitherto acted in 
high command, he had displayed such qualities 
in several scenes of difficulty and danger, as 
raised universal expectation, and turned the 
eyes of ibis countrymen towasds him, as oile 
capable of performing great things. The tur- 
bulence of youth, as soon as he found objects 
and occupations suited to the ardour of his 
mind, gradually subsided, and settled into a 
habit of regular indefatigable activity. The 
impetuosity of his temper, when he came to 
act with his equals, insensibly abated, by being 
kept under restraint, and mellowed into a cor- 
dial soldierly frankness. These qualities were 
accompanied with calm 'prudence in concert- 

* Gomara, Cron. c. 1, 2, S. 


ing hi* schemes, with persevering vigour iit 
executing them, and with what is peculiar to 
1^18* superior genius, the art of gaining the confi- 
dence and governing the minds of men. To 
all which w^re added the inferior accomplish- 
ments that strike the vulgar, and command 
their respect; a graceful person, a winning 
aspect, extraordinary address in martial exer-^ 
cises, and a constitution of such vigour as to 
be capable of enduring any fatigue., 

As soon as Cortes was mentioned to Velas- 
quez by his two confidants, he flattered him- 
self that be had at length found what he had 
hitherto sought in vain, a man with talents for 
command, but not sm object £ov jealousy. 
Neither the rank nor the fortune of Cortes, as 
he imagined, were such that he could aspire at 
independence. He had reason to believe that 
by his own readiness to bury ancient animosi- 
ties in oblivion, as well as his liberality in con- 
ferring several recent favours, he had already 
gained the good-will of Cortes, and hoped, by 
this new and unexpected mark of confidence, 
that he might attach him for ever to his inte- 

Soon be- Cortes, receiving his commission with the 

lousof^ warmest expressions of respect and gratitude 
to the governor, immediately erected his stan- 
dard before his own house, appeared in a mili- 

Oct 23. 


tary dress, and assumed all the ensigns of his book 
new dignity. His utmost influence and acti- ^J,^^ 
vity were exerted in persuading many of his i«i«- 
friends to engage in the service, and in urging 
forward the preparations for the voyage. All 
his own funds, together with what money he 
could raise by mortgaging his lands and In* 
dians, were expended in purchasing military 
stores and provisions, or in supplying the wants 
of such of his officers as were unable to equip 
themselves in u manner suited to their rank.* 
Inoflensive, and even laudable as this conduct 
was, his disappointed competitors were mali- 
cious enough to ff^ve it a turn to his disadvan- 
tage. They represented him as aiming already, 
with little disguise, at estaiblishing an indepen- 
dent authority over his troops, and endeavour- 
ing to secure their respect or |ove by his osten- 
tatious and interested liberality. They re- 
minded Velasquez of his former dissensions 
with the man in whom he now reposed so much 
confidence^ and foretold that Cortes would be 
more apt to avail himself of the power which 
the governor was inconsiderately putting in his 
hands, to avenge past injuries, than to requite 
recent obligation?. These insinuations made 
such impression upon the suspicious mind of 
Velasquez, that Cortes soon observed some 

^ See NoTS LXXII. Page 415. 

«50 mSTORY or ABfERICl. 

symptoms of a growing alienation and distrust 
in his behaviour, and was advised by Lares and 
1518. Duero to hasten his departure, before these 
should become so confirmed as to break out 
with open violence. Fully sensible of this 
danger, he urged forward his preparations with 
such rapidity, that he set sail from St Jago 
de Cuba on the eighteenth of November, Ve- 
lasquez accompanying him to the shore, and 
taking leave of him with an appearance of per- 
fect friendship and confidence, though he had 
' secretly given it in charge to some of Cortes^s 
officers, to keep a watchful eye upon every part 
of their commander's conduct.* 

Endeavours CoRTEs proceeded to Trinidad, a small set- 

to depnye 

him of his tlement on the same side of the island, where 
^°^ he was joined by several adventurers, and re- 
ceived a supply of provisions and military 
stores, of which his stock was still very incom* 
plete. He had hardly left St Jago, when the 
jealousy which had been working in the breast 
of Velasquez grew so violent, that it was im- 
possible to suppress it. The armament was no 
longer under his own eye and direction; and 
he felt, that as- his power over it ceased, that 
of Cortes would become more absolute. Ima- 
gination now aggravated every circumstance 

* Gomarsy Croa, c. 7. B. Diaz, c, 20. 


which had formerly excited suspicion : the ri* book 

vals of Cortes industriously threw in reflections \^'^cf 

which increased his fears } and with no less art ^sis. 

than malice they called superstition to their 

aid, emptying tbe predictions of an astrologer 

in order to complete the alarm. All thecle, by 

their united operation, produced the desired 

effect. Velasquez repented bitterly of his own 

imprudence, in having committed a trust of so 

much importance to a person whose fidelity 

appeared so doubtful, and hastily despatched 

instructions to Trinidad, empowering Verdu« 

go, the chief magistrate there, to deprive Cor* 

tea of his commission. But Cortes had already 

made such progress in gaining the esteem and 

confidence of his troops, that, finding officers as 

well as soldiers equally zealous to support his 

authority, he soothed or intimidated Verdugo, 

and was permitted to depart from Trinidad 

without molestation. 

From Trinidad Cortes sailed for the Ha- •ndioky 
vana, in order to raise more soldiers, and to armt 
complete the victualling of his fleet. There 
several persons of distinction entered into the 
service, and engaged to supply what provisions 
were still wanting ; but as it was necessary to 
allow them some time fi:>r performing what 
they had promised, Velasquez, sensible that he 
ought no longer to rely on a man of whom he 
had so openly discovered his distrust, availed 

252 msToitY OF America. 

himself of the interval which this unavoidable 
delay afibrded, in order to make one attempt 
\5i8. more to wrest the command out of the hands 
of Cortes. He loudly complained of Verdu- 
go's conduct, accusing him either of childish 
facility or of manifest treachery, in suffering 
Cortes to escape from Trinidad. Anxious to 
guard against a second disappointment, he sent 
a person of confidence to the Havana, with pe<» 
remptory injunctions to Pedro Barba, his lieu^ 
tenant-governor in that colony, instantly to 
arrest Cortes, to send him prisoner to St Jago 
under a strong guard, and to countermand the 
sailing of the armament until he should re«* 
ceive farther orders. He wrote likewise to the 
principal officers, requiring them to assist 
Barba in executing what he had given him in 
charge. But before the arrival of his mes* 
senger, a Franciscan friar of St Jago had se- 
cretly conveyed an account of this interest- 
ing transaction to Bartholomew de Olmedo, a 
monk of the same order, who acted as chap- 
lain to the expedition. 

'cortade- CoRTEs, forewarned of the dans^er, had time 

feats his ' , • /» « o » 

schemes, to take prccautions for ms own safety. His 
^^' first step was to find some pretext for removing 
from the Havana Diego de Ordaz, an officer 
of great merit, but in whom, on account of his 
known attachment to Velasquez, he could not 
confide in this trying and delicate juncture* 




He gave him the command of a vessel des« 
tined to take on board some provisions in a 
small harbour beyond Cape Antonio, and thus i^i<- 
made sure of his absence, ivithout seeming to 
suspect his fidelity. When he was gone. Cor- 
tes no longer concealed the intentions of Ve» 
lasquez from his troops ; and as officers and 
soldiers were equally impatient to set out on 
.an expedition, in preparing for which most of 
them had expended all their fortunes, they 
expressed their astonishment and indignation 
at that illiberal jealousy^ to which the gover- 
nor was about to sacrifice, not only the honour 
of their general, but all their sanguine hopes of 
glory and wealth. With, one voice they en.- 
treated that he would not abandon the impor* 
tant station to which he had such a good title. 
They conjured him not to deprive them of a 
leader whom they followed with such well- 
founded confidence, and offered to shed the 
last drop of their blood in maintaining his au* 
thority. Cortes.was.easily induced to comply 
with what he himself so ardently desired. He 
swore that he would never desert soldiers who 
had given him such a signal proof of their 
attachment, and promised instantly to conduct 
them to that rich country, which had been so 
long the object of their thoughts and wishes. 
This declaration was received with transports 
of military applause, accompanied with threats 
and imprecations against all who should pre- 


sume to call in question the jurisdiction of 
their general, or to obstruct the execution of 
i5i8. jiis designs. 

^^^ Every thing was now ready for their depar- 

his forces, turc ; but, though this expedition was fitted, 
out by the united efforts of the Spanish power 
in Cuba ; though every settlement had contri- 
buted its quota of men and provisions ; though 
the governor had laid out considerable sums, 
and each adventurer had exhausted his stock, 
or strained his credit, the poverty of the pre- 
parations was such as must astonish the present 
age, and bore, indeed, no resemblance to an 
armament destined for the conquest of a great 
empire. The fleet consisted of eleven vessels ; 
the largest of a hundred tons, which was dig- 
nified by the ttame of Admiral ; three of se« 
venty or eighty tons, and the rest small open 
barks. On board of these were six hundred 
and seventeen men ; of which five hundred 
and eight belonged to the land service, and a 
hundred and nine were seamen or artificers. 
The soldiers were divided into eleven com- 
panies, according to the number of the ships ; 
to. each of which Cortes appointed a captain, 
and committed to him the command of the 
vessel while at sea,^ and of the men when on 
shore.* As the use of fire-arms among the 

* See Nou LXXIII. Page 416. 


nations of Europe was hitherto confined to a • book 
few battalions of reguhurly disciplined infantry^ ^^ r^ 
only thirteen soldiers were armed with muskets, liis. 
thirty-two were cross-bowmen» and the rest had 
swords and spears. Instead of the usual de- 
fensive armour, which must have been cumber- 
some in a hot climate, the soldiers wore jackets 
quilted with cotton, which experience had 
taught the Spaniards to be a sufficient protec- 
tion against the weapons of the Americans. 
They had only sixteen horses, ten small field- 
pieces, and four falconets.* 

With this slender and ill-provided train did ^, '^ 
Cortes set sau, to make war upon a monarch Hisdeptf. 
whose dominions were more extensive than all c^^ 
the kingdoms subject to the Spanish crown* 
As religious enthusiasm always mingled with 
the spirit of adventure in the New World, and, 
by a combination still more strange, united 
with avarice, in prompting the Spaniards to all 
their enterprises, a large cross was displayed 
in their standards, with this inscripticm. Let 
usfoBqfw the cross, for under Ms sign we shaH 

So powerfully were Cortes and his followen 
animated with both these passions, that no less 

* B. Diaz, c. 19. 






eager to plunder the opulent country whither 
they were bound, than zealous to propagate 
the Christian faith among its inhabitants, they 
set out, not with the solicitude natural to men 
going upon dangerous services, but with that 
confidence which arises from security of suc- 
cess, and certainty of the divine protection. 

Touches at 

andat Ta- 

As Cortes had determined to touch at every 
place which Grijalva had visited, he steered 
directly towards the island of Cozumel : there 
he had the good fortune to redeem Jerome de 
Agifilar, a Spaniard, who had been eight years 
a prisoner among the Indians. This nmn was 
perfectly acquainted with a dialect of their 
language, understood through a large extent 
of country, and possessing besides a conader- 
able share of prudence and sagacity, proved 
extremely useful as an interpreter. From 
Cozumel Cortes proceeded to the river of Ta- 
basco, in hopes of a reception as friendly as 
Grijalva had met with there, and of finding 
gold in the same abundance ; but the disposi- 
tion of the natives, from some unknown cause, 
was totally changed. After repeated endea- 
vours to conciliate][their good-will, he was con- 
strained to have recourse to violence. Though 
tlie forces of the enemy were numerous, and 
advanced with extraordinary courage, they 
were routed with great slaughter, in several 
successive actions. The loss which they sus- 


aiSTOSY or AMERICl. 257 

tained, and still more the astonishment and 
terror excited by the destructive efiect of the 
fire-arms, and the dreadful appearance of the i^i^- 
horses, humbled their fierce spirits, and induced 
them to sue for peace. They acknowledged the 
King of Castile as their sovereign, and granted 
Cortes a supply of provisions, with a present of 
cotton garments, some gold, and twenty female 

CoKTES continued his course to the west- f"r«"*J 

St Juan de 

ward, keeping as near the shore as possible, in uituu 
order to observe the country ; but could dis- 
cover no proper place for landing, until he 
arrived at St Juan de Ulua.t As he entered ^p^ 2. 
this harbour, a large canoe full of people, 
among whom were two who seemed to be per- 
sons of distinction, approached his ship with 
signs of peace and amity^ They came on 
board without fear or distrust, and addressed 
him in a most respectful manner,, but in a lan- 
guage altogether unknown to Aguilar. Cortes 
was in the utmost perplexity and distress, at an 
event of whicb be instantly foresaw all the con- 
sequences, and already felt the hesitation and 
uncertainty with which he should carry on the 

♦ See Note LXXIV. Page 416. 
t B, Diaz, c. 31—36. Gomara, GrOH. g. 18—23. Her- 
rera, dec. 2. lib. iv. c; 1 !• &c* 


great schemes which he meditated, if, in his 
transactions with the natives, he must depend 
1^19- entirely upon such an imperfect, ambiguous* 
and conjectural mode of communication as 
the use of signs. But he did not remain long 
in his embarrassing situation ; a fortunate ac- 
cident extricated him, when his own sagacity 
Could have contributed little towards his relief 
One of the female slaves, whorti he had receiv-. 
ed from the cazique of Tabasco, happened to 
be present at the first interview between Cor- 
tes and his new guests. She perceived his dis<- 
tress, as well as the confusion of Aguilar ; and 
as she perfectly understood the Mexican laa* 
guage, she explained what they had said in the 
Yucatan tongue, with which Aguilar was ac- 
quainted. This woman, known afterwards hy 
the name of Donna Marina, and who nAkes a 
conspicuous figure in the history of the New 
World, where great revolutions ^ere brought 
about by small causes and inconsiderable in- 
struments, was bom in one of the provinces o€ 
the Mexican empire. Having been sold as a 
slave in the early part of her life, after a variety 
of adventures she fell into the hands of the 
Tabascans, and had resided long enough among 
them to acquire their language, without losing 
the use of her own. Though it was both tedi- 
ous and troublesome to converse by the inter- 
vention of two different interpreters, Cortes 
was so highly pleased with having discovered 



this tnefthod of canying oq some intercourse 
with the people of a country into which he was 
determined to pen€tratet that in the transports i^'isi 
of his joy he considered it as a visible interpo* 
sition of Providence in his favour.* 

He now learned that the two persons whom 
he had received on board of his ship were de« 
puties from Teutile and Hlpatoe, two officers 
entrusted with the government of that province 
by a great mcHiarch^ whom they called Monte* 
zuma ^ and that they were sent to inquire what 
his intentions were in visiting their coast, and 
to ofifer him what assistance he might need, in 
order to continue his voyage. Cortes, struck 
with the appearance of those people, as well as 
the tenor of the message, assured them, in re- 
spectful terms, that he approached their coun- 
try with most friendly sentiments, and came to 
propose matters of great importance to the weU 
^re of their prince and his kingdom^ which he 
wtould unfold more fully, in person, to the 
governor and the general. Next morning, 
without waiting for any answer, he landed his 
troops, his horses, and artillery ; and having 
chosen proper ground, began to erect huts for 
his men, and to fortify his camp. The natives. 

* B. Diaz, c. 37, 38, 39. Gomara, Cron. c. 25, 26. Her- 
vera, dec. 2. lib. y. c. 4. 


BOOK instead of opposing the entrance of those fatal 
\^^«^ guests into their country, assisted them: in all 
WW.' their operations, with an alacrity of which they 
had ere long good reason to repent* 

His first Next day Teutile and Pilpatoe entered the 

interview •' * , _ 

with the Spanish camp with a numerous retinue, and 
exicans. (^^jj^^g Considering them 3S the miniaters of a 
great monarch, entitled to a degree of attention 
very different from that which the Spaniards 
were accustomed to pay to the petty caziques 
with whom they had intercourse in the isles^ 
received them with much formal ceremony* 
He informed them,, that he came as ambas- 
sador from Don Carlos of Austria, King of 
Castile, the greatest monarch of the East, and 
was entrusted with propositions of such mo- 
ment, that he could impart them to none but 
the Emperor Montezuma himself, smd there- 
fore required them to conduct him,, without 
loss of time, into the presence of their master. 
The Mexican officers could not conceal their 
utieasiness at a request, which they knew would 
be disagreeable, and which they foresaw might 
prove extremely embarrassing to their sove- 
reign, whose mind had been filled with many 
disquietir^ apprehensions, ever since the for- 
mer appearance of the Spaniards on his coasts. 
But before they attempted to dissuade Cortes 
from insisting on this demand, they endeavour- 
ed to conciliate his good-will, by entreating 




^im to accept of certain presents, which, as 
humble slaves of Montezuma, they laid at his 
feet They were introduced with great parade, i*>»« 
and consisted of fine cotton cloth, of plumes of 
various colours, and of ornaments of gold and 
silver "to a considerable value ; the workman- 
ship of which appeared to be as curious as the 
piatemls were rich. The display of these pro- 
duced an effect very different from what the 
Mexicans intended. Instead of satisfying, it 
increased the avidity of the Spaniards, and 
rendered them so eager and impatient to be« 
^ome masters of a country which abounded 
with such precious productions, that Cortes 
icould haffdly listen with patience to the argu- 
ments which Filpatoe and Teutile employed 
to dissuade him from visiting the capital, and 
in a haughty determined tone he insisted on 
his demand, of being admitted to a personal 
audience of their sovereign. During this in- 
terview, some painters, m die train of the 
Mexican chiefs, bad been diligently employ- 
ed in delineating, upon white cotton cloths, 
figui*es of the ships, the horses, the artillery, 
the soldiers, and whatever else attracted their 
eyes as singular. When Cortes observed this, 
and was informed that. these pictures were to 
be sent to Montezuma, in order to convey to 
bim a more lively idea of the strange and won- 
derful objects now presented to their view^ 


than any words could commuQicate, fae re- 
solved to render the representation still more 
1510. animated and interesting, by exhibiting such 
a spectacle as might give both them and their 
monarch an awftil impression of the extraor- 
dinary prowess of his followers, and the irre- 
sistible forcje of their arms. The trumpets, by 
his order, sounded an alarm ; the troops, in a 
moment, formed in order of battle, the infantry 
performed such martial exercises ais were best 
faulted to display the e£Sect of their different 
weapons ; the horse, in various evolutions, 
gave a specimen of their agility and strength.} 
the artillery, pointed towards the thick woods 
which surrounded the camp, were fired, and 
made dreadful havoc among the trees* The 
Mexicans looked on with that silent amaze- 
ment which is natural, when the mind is struck 
with objects which are botii awful and above 
its comprehension. But, at the explosion of 
the cannon* many of them fled, some fell to 
the ground, and all were so much confounded 
at the sight of men whose power so nearly 
resembled that of the gods, that Cortes found 
it difBcult to compose and reassure them. The 
painters had now many new objects on which 
to exercise their art, and they put their fancy 
on the stretch in order to invent figures and 
sjnnbols to represent the extraordinary things 
which they had seen. 


Messengers were immediately despatched 
to Montezuma with those pictures, and a full 
account of every thing that had passed since ^s\o. 
the arrival of the Spaniards, and by them Cor- ^JJ^ 
tes sent a present of some European curiosities Momefo. 
to Montezuma, which, though of no great "^ 
value, he believed would be acceptable on ac- 
count of their novelty. The Mexican mo- 
Barchs» in order to obtain early information of 
every occurrence in all the comers of their 
extensive empire, had introduced a refinement 
in police, unknown, at that time, in Europe. 
They had couriers posted at proper stations 
along the principal roads ; and as these were 
trained to agility by a regular education, and 
relieved one another at moderate distances, 
they conveyed intelligence with surprising 
rapidity. Though the capital in which Monte- 
zuma resided was above an hundred and eighty 
miles from St Juan de Ulua, Cortes's presents 
were carried thither, and an answer to his de- 
mands was received in a few days. The same 
officers who had hitherto treated with the Spa- 
niards, were employed to deliver this answer ; 
but as they knew bow repugnant the determi- 
nation of their master was to all the schemes 
and wishes of the Spanish commander, they 
would not venture to make it known until they 
had previously endeavoured to soothe and 
mollify him. For this purpose they renewed His| 
their negociation, by introducing a train of a 


hundred Indians, loaded with presents sent to 
him by Montezuitia. The magnificence of 
^51^. these wa« such as became a great monarch, 
and far exceeded any idea which the Spaniards 
had hitherto formed of his wealth. They were 
placed on mats spread on the ground,, in such 
order as shewed them to the greatest advan- 
tage. Cortes and his officers viewed, with 
admiration, the various manufactures of the 
country ; cotton stuffs so fine, and of such de- 
licate texture, as to resemble silk ; pictures of 
animals, trees, and other natural objects, form- 
ed with feathers of different colours, disposed 
and mingled with such skill and elegance, as to 
rival the works of the pencil in truth and beau- 
ty of imitation. But what chidly attracted 
their eyes, were two large plates of a circular 
form, one of massive gold representing the sun, 
the other of silver, an emblem of the moon.* 
These w£re accompanied with bracelets, cel- 
lars, rings, and other trinkets of gold ; and 
that nothing might be wanting which could 
give the Spaniards a complete idea of what the 
<!ountry afforded, with some boxes filled with 
pearls, precious stones, and grains of gold un- 
wrought, as they had been found in the mines 
^r rivers. Cortes received all these with an 
appearance of profound veneration for the mo- 

* See NoxE LXXV, Page 417. 



aarch by whom they were bestowed. But 
whan the Mexicans, presuming upon this, in- 
formed him, that their master, though he de- '^^^ 
sired him to accept of what he had sent as a Forbids 
token of regard for that monarch whom Cortes appimch 
represented, would not give his consent that ****^p'*^ 
foreign troops should approach nearer to his 
capital, or even allow them to continue longer 
in his dominions, the Spanish general declared, 
in a manner more resolute and peremptory 
than formerly, that he must insist on his first 
demand, as he could not, without dishonour, 
return to his own country, until he was admit- 
ted into the presence of the prince whom he 
was appointed to visit in the name of his sove- 
reign. The Mexicans, astonished at seeing 
any man dare to oppose that will, which they 
were accustomed to consider as supreme and 
irresistible, yet afraid of precipitating their 
country into an open rupture with such formi- 
dable enemies, prevailed with Cortes to pro- 
mise, that he would not move from his present 
camp, until the return of a messenger whom 
they sent to Montezuma for farther instruc- 

The firmness with which Cortes adhered state of ti» 
to his original proposal, should naturally have to^l^t 

that period. 

* B. Diaz, c. 39, Gomara, Cron. c. 27. Herrera, dec. 2. 
lib. V* c. 5, 6. 


brought the negociatioh between him and 
Montezuma to a speedy issue, as it seemed 
1519. to leave the Mexican monarch no choice, but 
either to receive him with confidence as a 
friend, or to oppose him openly as an enemy. 
The latter was what might have been expected 
from a haughty prince in possession of exten- 
sive power. The Mexican empire, at this 
period, was at a pitch of grandeur to which 
no society ever attained in so short a period. 
Though it had subsisted, according to their 
own traditions, only a hundred and thirty 
years, its dominion extended from the North 
to the South Sea, over territories stretching, 
with some small interruption, above five hun- 
dred leagues from east to west, and more 
than two hundred &om north to south, com- 
prehending provinces not inferior in fertility, 
population, and opulence, to any in the torrid 
zone. The people were warlike and enterpris- 
ing; the authority of the monarch unbounded, 
and his revenues cmisiderable. If, with the 
forces which might have been suddenly assem- 
bled in such an empire, Montezuma had fallen 
npon the Spaniards while encamped on a bar- 
ren unhealthy coast, unsupported by any ally, 
without a place of retreat, and destitute of 
provisions, it seems to be impossible, xcven with 
all the advantages of their superior discipline 
and arms, that they could have stood the 
^hock, and they must either have perished in 



such an unequal contest, or have abandoned 
the enterprise. 


As the power of Montezuma enabled him to chanctcr 
taka this spirited part, his own dispositions narch. 
were such as seemed naturally to prompt him 
to it. Of all the princes who had swayed the 
Mexican sceptre, he was the most haughty, 
the most violent, apd the most' impatient of 
controuL His subjects looked up to him with 
awe, and his enemies with terror. The former 
he governed with unexampled rigour; but 
they were impressed with such an opinion oC 
bis capacity, as commanded their respect ; 
and, by many victories over the latter, he had 
spread far the dread of his arms, and had 
added several considerable provinces to his 
dominions. But though his talents might be 
suited to the transactions of a state so imper- 
fectly polished as the Mexican empire, and 
sufficient to conduct them while in their ac* 
customed course, they were altogether inade- 
quate to a conjuncture so extraordinary, and 
did not qualify him either to judge with the 
discernment, or to act with the decision requi- 
site in such a trying emergence. 

From the moment that the Spaniards appear- ^.^^ 
kd on his coast, he discovered symptoms of ti- terror upoA 
midity and embarrassment. Instead of taking of the spa- 
such resolutions as the consciousness of his own "^""^ 


power, or the memory of his former exploits, 
might have inspired, he deliberated with an 
1519. anxiety and hesitation which did not escape the 
notice of his meanest courtiers. The perplexity 
and discomposure of Montezuma's mind upon 
this occasion, as well as the general dismay of 
his subjects, were not owing wholly to the im- 
pression which the Spaniards had made by the 
novelty of their appearance, and the terror of 
their arms. Its origin may be traced up to a 
more remote source. There was an opinion, if 
we may believe the earliest and most authentic 
Spanish historians, almost universal among the 
Americans, that some dreadful calamity was 
impending over their heads, from a race of for- 
midable invaders, who should come from regions 
towards the rising sun, to overrun and desolate 
their country. Whether this disquieting appre- 
hension flowed from the memory of some natu- 
ral calamity which had. afflicted that part of the 
globe, and impressed the minds of the inhabi- 
tants with supjerstitious fears and forebodings, 
or whether it was an imagination accidentally 
suggested by the astonishment which the first 
sight of a new race of men occasioned, it is im-* 
possible to determine. But as the Mexican^ 
were more prone to superstition than any people 
in the New World, they were more deeply aflect- 
ed by the appearance of the Spaniards, whom 
their credulity instantly represented as the iri- 
s.trument destined to bring about this fatal revo- 



lotion which thev dreaded. Under those cir- 


cumstanceSy it ceases to be incredible that a 
handful of adventurers should alarm the mo- ^^i^ 
narch of a great empire, and all his subjects.* 

Notwithstanding the influence of this im- continues 
pression, when the messenger arrived from the cu^^ 
Spanish camp with an account that the leader 
of the strangers, adhering to his original de- 
mand, refused to obey the order enjoining him 
to leave the countiy, Montezuma assumed some 
degree of resolution, and, in a transport of rage 
natural to a fierce prince unaccustomed to meet 
with any opposition to his will, he threatened 
to sacrifice those presumptuous men to his gods. 
But his doubts and fears quickly returned, and 
instead of issuing orders to carry his threats 
into execution, he again called his ministers to 
confer and ofier their advice. Feeble and tem- 
porizing measures will always be the result 
when men assemble to deliberate in a situation 
where they ought to act. The Mexican coun- 
sellors took no effectual measure for expelling 
such troublesome intruders, and were satisfied 
with issuing a more positive injunction, requir- 
ing them to leave the country ; but this they 

* Cortes Relatione Seconda, ap. Ramus, iii. 234^ 2S5. 
Herrera, dec. 2. lib. iii. c. 1. lib, ▼. c. 11. lib. ▼!!. c. 6. 
Gomara^ Cron. c. 66. 92. 144'. 


preposterously accompanied with a present of 
such value, as proved fresh inducement to re« 
1519. main there. 

Anxiety Meanwhile, the Spaniards were not without 

hLsfonstf solicitude, or a variety of sentiments, in deli- 
^^' berating concerning their own future conduct. 
From what they had already seen, many of them 
formed such extravagant ideas concerning the 
opulence of the country, that, despising danger 
or hardships, when they had in view treasures 
whiph appeared to be ineiihaustible, they were 
eager to attempt the conquest. Others, esti- 
mating the power of the Mexican empire by 
its wealth, and enumerating the various proofs . 
which had occurred of its being under a wdU* 
regulated administration, contended, that it 
would be an act of the wildest frenzy to attack 
such a state with a small body of men, in want 
. of provisions, unconnected with any ally, and 
already enfeebled by the diseases peculiar to 
the climate, and the loss of several of their 
number.* Cortes secretly applauded the ad- 
vocates for bold measures, and cherished their 
romantic hopes, as such ideas corresponded 
with his own, and favoured the execution of 
the schemes which he had formed. From the 
time that the suspicions of Velasquez broke out 

* B. Diaz, c. 40. 



with open violence in the attempts to deprive 
him of the command, Cortes saw the necessity 
of dissolving a connexion which would obstruct 
and embarrass all his operations, and watched 
for a proper opportunity of coming to a final 
rapture with him. Having this in view, he 
had laboured by every art to secure the esteem 
and affection of his soldiers. With his abilities 
for comtnand, it was easy to gain their esteem } 
and his followers were quickly satisfied that 
they might yely, with perfect confidence, on 
the conduct and courage of their leader. Nor 
was it more difficult to acquire their affection. 
Among adventurers, nearly of the same rank, 
and serving at their own expense, the dignity 
of command did not elevate a general above 
mingling with those who acted under him. 
Cortes availed himself of thia freedom of inter* 
course, to insinuate himself into their favour, 
and by his affable manners, by well-timed acts 
of liberality to some, by inspiring all with vast 
hopes, and by allowing them to trade privately 
with the natives,^ he attached the greater part 
of his soldiers so firmly to himself, that they 
almost forgot that the armament had been fit- 
ted out by the authority, and at the expense of 

* See Note LXXVL Page 418. 



During those intrigues, Teutile arrived with 
the present from Montezuma, and, together 
with it, delivered the ultimate order of that mo- 
narch to depart instantly out of his dominions ; 
and when Cortes^ instead of complying, renew- 
ed his request of an audience, the Mexican 
turned from him abruptly, and quitted the camp 
with looks and gestures which strongly express- 
ed his surprise and resentment. Next morning, 
none of the natives, who used to frequent the 
camp in great numbers, in order to barter with 
the soldiers, and to bring in provisions, appear- 
ed. All friendly correspondence seemed now 
to be at an end, and it was expected every mo- 
ment that hostilities would commence. This, 
though an event that might have been foreseen, 
occasioned a sudden consternation among the 
Spaniards, which emboldened the adherents of 
Velasquez not only to murmur and cabal against 
their general, but to appoint one of their num- 
ber to remonstrate openly against his impru- 
dence in attempting the conquest of a mighty 
empire with such inadequate force, and to urge 
the necessity of returning to Cuba, in order to 
refit the fleet and augment the army. Diego 
de Ordaz, one of his principal officers, whom 
the malecontents charged with this commis- 
sion, delivered it with a soldierly freedom and 
bluntness, assuring Cortes that he spoke the 
sentiments of the whole army. He listened to 
this remonstrance without any appearance of 



emotion, and as he well knew the temper and 
wishes of his soldiers, and foresaw how they 
would receive a proposition fatal at once to all ^^i^- 
the splendid hopes and schemes whidi they 
had been forming with such complacency, he 
carried his dissimulation so far as to seem to 
relinquish his own measures in compliance 
with the request of Ordaz, and issued orders 
that the army should be in readiness next day 
to re-embark for Cuba. As soon as this was 
known, the disappointed adventurers exclaim- 
ed and threatened ; the emissaries of Cortes, 
mingling with them, inflamed their rage ; the 
ferment became general ; the whole camp was 
almost in open mutiny -, all demanding with 
eagerness to see their commander. Cortes 
was not slow in appearing; when, with one 
voice, officers and soldiers expressed their asto- 
nishment and indignation at the orders which 
they had received. It was unworthy, they 
cried, of the Castilian courage, to be daunted 
at the first aspect of danger, and infamous to 
fly before any enemy appeared. For their 
parts, they were determined not to relinquish 
an enterprise that had hitherto been success- 
ful, and which tended so visibly to spread the 
knowledge of true religion, and to advance the 
glory and interest of their country. Happy 
under his command, they would follow him 
with alacrity through every danger, in quest 
of those settlements and treasures which he 
VOL. ir. s 

.274b JUSTORT ap AMERiCU. 

liad flo long hdd out to their vidw $ bat if he 
chose rather to xetum to Coba, and tattel^ 
m9. ;give: op all his hopes of distinction and opu- 
lence to ka envious rivalj» they would instantly 
choose another general to ccHiduct them in 
that path of glory which he had not spirit to 

Cortes, delighted with their ardour, took 
no offence at the boldness with which it was 
uttered* The sentiments were what he him- 
self had inspimd, and the warmth of expression 
satisfied him that his followers had imbibed 
them thoroughly* He affected, however, to 
be surprised at what he heard, declaring that 
his orders to prepare for embarking were issued 
from a persuasion that this was agreeable to 
his troops; that, from deference to what he 
had been informed was their inoUnatioe, he 
had sacrificed his own private opinion, which 
was firmly bent on establishing immediatdy a 
settlement on the sea-coast, and then on en- 
deavouring to penetrate into the interior part 
of the country ; that now he was convinced 
of his error ; and as he perceived that they 
were animated with the generous spirit which 
breathed in every true Spai^iard, he would re- 
sume, with fresh ardour, his original plan of 
-operation, and doubted not to conduct themi 
in the career of victory, to such independent 
fortunes as their valour merited. Upon this 


d^aratian, shouts of applaine testified the ex-* 
cess of their joy. The measure aeeined to be 
taken with unanimous Cjonaent; such as se* i^ia 
cretly condemned it being obliged to join in 
the acclamations, partly to conceal their dis* 
affection from their general, and partly to 
avoid the imputation c^ cowardice fnom their 

Without allowing bis men time to cool or £<teUiib« 

to reflect, Cortes set about carrying his des%n gIva go- 

into execution. In order to gii^e a beginning 

to a colony, he ^issemUied the principal per* 

sons in bis army, and by their suffirage elected 

a <x>uncil and magistrates, in whom the govern^K 

ment was to be vested. As men naturally 

transplant the institutions and &mm of the 

mother«coufitry into tlmr new settlements^ 

this was framed upon the model of a Spanish 

corporation. The magistrates were distio* 

guisfaed by the same names and ensigns of 

office^ and were to exercise a similar jumdic* 

tioh. Ml the persons chosen were most^firmly 

devoted to Cortes, and the instrument of their 

Section was framed in the king's name, witht 

out any mention of their dependence on Ve* 

lasquez. The two principles of avarice and 

^thusiasm, which prompted the Spaniards to 

* B. Diaz, c. 40^ 41, 4^. Herrera, dec. £. lib. v. c. 6, 7. 




all their enterprise in the New World, seem 
to have concurred in suggesting the name 
which Cortes bestowed on his infant settle- 
ment. He called it, The rick tiwn qfthe true 

his com- 

The first meeting of the new council was 
distinguished by a transaction of great mo- 
ment. As soon as it assembled, Cortes applied 
for leave to enter ; and approaching with many 
marks of profound respect, which added dig- 
nity to the tribunal, and set an example of 
reverence for its authority, he began a long 
harangue, in which, with much art, and in 
terms extremely flattering to persons just en- 
tering upon their new function, he observed, 
that as the supreme jurisdiction over the colony 
which they had planted was now vested in this 
court, he considered them as clothed with the 
authority, and representing the person of their 
sovereign; that accordingly he would com- 
municate to them what he deemed essential to 
the public safety, with the same dutifiil fidelity 
as if he were addressing his royal master } that 
the security of a colony settled in a great em- 
pire, whose sovereign had already discovered 
his hostile intentions, depended upon arms, 
and the efiicacy of these upon the subordina- 

* Villa rica de la vera Cruz. 


tion and discipline preserved among the troops ; 
that his right to command was derived from a 
commission granted by the governor of Cuba ; i^i^- 
and as that had been long since revoked, the 
lawfulness of his jurisdiction might well be 
questioned ; that he might be thought to act 
upon a defective, or even a dubious title ; nor 
could they trust an army, which might dispute 
the powers of its general at a juncture when 
it ought implicitly to obey his orders ; that, 
moved by these considerations, he now resign- 
ed all his authority to them, that they, havii^ 
both right to choose, and power to confer full 
jurisdiction, might appoint one, in the king's 
name, to command the army in its future ope- 
rations ; and as for his own part, such was bis 
zeal for the service in which they were en- 
gaged, that he would most cheerfully take up 
a pike with the same hand that laid down the 
general's truncheon, and convince his fellow- 
soldiers, that though accustomed to command, . 
he had not forgotten how to obey. Having 
finished his discourse, he laid the commission 
from Velasquez upon the table, and after kiss- 
ing his truncheon, delivered it to the chief ma-^ 
gistrate, and withdrew. 

The deliberations of the council were not andischo. 

long, as Cortes had concerted this important Ju^ceimd 

measure with his confidants, and had prepared «*^ 
the other members, with great address, for the 


BOOK part which he wished them to take. His re- 
^p/.^^ aigoation was accepted j and as the uninter*- 
1519. rupted tenour of their prosperity tinder his 
conduct afforded the most satisfying evidence 
of his abilities for command, they, by their 
unanimous suffrage, dected him chiefs-justice 
of the colony, and captain-general of its army, 
and appointed his commission to be made out 
in the king's name, with most ample powers, 
which were to continue in force until the royal 
pleasure should be farther known. That this 
deed might not be deemed the machination of 
a junto, the council called together the troops, 
and acquainted them with what had been re- 
solved. The soldiers, with eager applause, ra- 
tified the choice which the council hacl made ; 
the air resounded with the name of Cortes, and 
all vowed to shed their blood in support of his 

Anertshifl CoRT£s haviug now brought his intrigues to 
^^^ur. *^® desired issue, and shaken off his mortifying 
dependence on the governor of Cuba, accepted 
of the commission which vested in him supreme 
jurisdiction, civil as well as military, over the 
colony, with many professions of respect to the 
' council, and gratitude to the army. Together 

with his new command, he assumed greater 
dignity, and began to exercise more extensive 
powers. Formerly he had felt himself to be 
only the deputy of a subject j now he acted 


as the representative of his sovereign. The 
adherents of Velasquez, fully aware of what 
would be the effect of this change in the situa- 15'ia 
tion of Cortes, could no longer continue silent 
and passive spectators of his actions. They 
exclaimed openly against the proceedings of 
the council as illegal, and against those of the 
army as mutinous. Cortes, instantly perceiv- 
ing the necessity of giving a timely check to 
such seditious discourse by some vigorous mea- 
sure, arrested Ordaz, Escudero, and Velasquez 
de Leon, the ringleaders of this faction, and 
sent them prisoners aboard the fleet, loaded 
with chains. Their dependants, astonished 
and overawed, remained quiet ; and Cortes, 
more desirous to reclaim than to punish his 
prisoners, who were officers of great merit, 
courted their friendship With such assiduity 
and address, that the reconciliation was per- 
fectly cordial ; and on the most trying occa- 
sions, neither their connexion with the gover* 
nor of Cuba, nor the memory of the indignity 
with which they had been treated, tempted 
thelm to swerve from an inviolable attachment 
to his interest.* In this,^ as well as his other 
negociations at this critical conjuncture, which 
decided with respect to his future fame and 

♦ B. Diaz, C.42, 43. Goroara, Cron. c. 30, 31. Her- 
rera, dec. 2. lib. v. c. 7. 


BOOK fortune, Cortes owed much of his success to 


v^^,^^ the Mexican gold, which he distributed with a 
1519. liberal hand both among his friends and iiis 

His friend- Cortes having thus rendered ilie union be- 
ed b^tfae tween himself and his army indissoluble, by en- 
^P*^' gaging it to join him in disclaiming any depen- 
dence on the governor of Cuba, and in repeat- 
ed acts of disobedience to his authority, thought 
he might now venture to quit the camp in 
which he had hitherto remained, and advance 
into the country. To this he was encouraged 
by an event no less fortunate than seasonable. 
Some Indians having approached his camp in 
a mysterious manner, were introduced into his 
presence. He found that they were sent with 
a proffer of friendship from the cazique of 
Zempoalla, a considerable town at no great dis- 
tance ; and from their answers to a variety of 
questions which he put to them, according to 
his usual practice in every interview with the 
people of the country, he gathered, that their 
master, though subject to the Mexican empire, 
was impatient of the yoke, and filled with such 
dread and hatred of Montezuma, that nothing 
could be more acceptable to him than any pros- 
pect of deliverance from the oppression under 

* B. Diaz, c. 44. 


which he groaned. On hearing this, a ray of 
light and hope broke in upon the mind of Cortes. 
He saw that the great empire which he intend- i^i»- 
ed to attack was neither perfectly united, nor 
its sovereign universally beloved. He conclud- 
ed, that the causes of disaffection could not be 
confined to one province, but that in other 
comers there must be malecontents, so weary 
of subjection, or so desirous of change, as to 
be ready to follow the standard of any protec- 
tor. Full of those ideas, on which he began 
to form a scheme, that time, and more perfect 
information concerning the state of the coun- 
try enabled him to mature, he gave a most 
gracious reception to the Zempoallans, and 
promised soon to visit their cazique.* 

In order to perform this promise, it ifras ^^2u 
not necessary to vary the route which he had 
already fixed for his march. Some officers, 
whom he had employed to survey the coast, 
having discovered a village named Quiabislan, 
about forty miles to the northward, which, 
both on account of the fertility of the soil and 
commodiousness of the harbour, seemed to be 
a more proper station for a settlement than 
that where he was encamped, Cortes deter* 
mined to remove thither. Zempoalla lay in 

* B. Diaz, c. 41. Grnnara, Cron. c. 28. 


his way, where the cazique received him in 
the manner which he had reason to expect — 
1519. with gifls and caresses, like a man solicitous to 
gain his good-will ; with respect approaching 
almost to adoration, like one who looked up to 
him as a deliverer. From him he learned many 
particulars with respect to the character of 
Mpntezuma, and the circupistances which ren- 
dered his dominion odious. He was a tyrant, 
as the cazique told him with tears, haughty, 
cruel, and suspicious ; who treated his own 
subjects with arrogance, ruined the conquered 
provinces by excessive exactions, and oflen 
tore their sons and daughters from them by 
violence ; the former, to be offered as victims 
to his gods i the latter, to be reserved as con- 
cubines for himself or favourites. Cortes, in 
reply to him, artfully insinuated, that one great 
object of the Spaniards in visiting a country 
so remote from their own, was to redress griev- 
ances, and to reheve the* oppressed ; and hav- 
ing encouraged him to hope for this interpo- 
sition in due time, he continued his march to 

Builds a The spot which his officers had recommend- 

ed as a proper situation, appeared to him to be 
so well chosen, that he immediately marked 
out ground for a town. The houses to be 
erected were only huts; but these were to 
be surrounded with fortifications, of sufficient 




strength to resist the assaults of an Indian book ' 
army. As the finishing of those fortifications ^j- *-^^ 
was essential to the existence of a colony, and wi«* 
of no less impoitance in prosecuting the de« 
signs which the leader and his followers medi* 
tated, both in order to secure a place of retreat, 
and to preserve their communication with the 
sea, every man in the army, officers as well as 
soldiers, put his hand to the work, Cortes hint- 
self setting them an example of activity and 
perseverance in labour. The Indians of Zem* 
poalla and Quiabislan lent their aid ; and this 
petty station, the parent of so many mighty 
settlements, was soon in a state of defence.* 

While engaged in this necessary work. Cor- condades 
tes had several interviews with the caziques ila^wi^ 
of Zempoalla and Quiabislan; and availing ^|^^ 
himself of their wonder and astonishment at 
the new objects which they daily beheld, he 
gradually inspired them with such an high opi- 
nion of the Spaniards, as beings of a superior 
order, and irresistible in arms, that, relying on 
their protection, they ventured to insult the 
Mexican power, at the very name of which 
they were accustomed to tremble. Some of 
Montezuma's officers having appeared to levy 

* B. Diaz, c. 45, 46. 48. Gomara, Cron. c* 32, 33. 37. 
Henrcra, dec.^. lib. v. c. 8, 9. 


the usual tribute, and to demand a. cem 
number of human victims as an expiatioDi 
M19* their guilt in presuming to hold intercoura 
with those strangers whom the Emperor k 
commanded to leave his dominions, instead of 
obeying the order, the caziques made them pii 
soners, treated them with great indignity ^d 
as their superstition was no less barbarous than 
that of the Mexicans, they prepared to sacri- 
fice them to their gods. From this last danger 
they were delivered by the interposition of 
Cortes, who manifested the utmost horror at 
the mention of such a deed. The two caziques 
having now been pushed to an act of such open 
rebellion, as left them no hope of safety \>\it in 
attaching themselves inviolably to the Spa- 
niards, they soon completed their uniofH with 
them, by formally acknowledging themselves 
to be yassals of the same monarch. Their ex- 
ample was followed by the Totonaques, a fierce 
people who inhabited the mountainous part of 
the country. They willingly subjected them- 
selves to the crown of Castile, and oflfered to 
accompany Cortes, with all their {otk^j in his 
march towards Mexico.* 

Cortes had now been above three months 
in New Spain ; and though this period had not 

* B. DiaZ) c. 47. Gomara, Cron. Sd> 36. Herrera, dec. 
2. lib. v.c. 9,10, 11. 


b^n distinguished by martial exploits, every 
moment had been employed in operations, 
which, though less splendid, were more impor- 
tant. By his address in conducting his in- 
trigues with his own army, as well as his saga- 
city in carrying on his negociations with the na^ ^^^^^^ 
tives, he had already laid the foundations of his by <ie 
future success. But whatever confidence he 
might place in the plan which he had formed, 
he could not but perceive, that as his title to 
command was derived from a doubtful autho- 
rity, he held it by a precarious tenure. The 
injuries which Velasquez had received, were 
such as would naturally prompt him to apply 
for redress to their common sovereign j and 
such a representation, he foresaw, might be 
given of his conduct, that he had reason to 
apprehend, not only that he might be degrad- 
ed from his present rank, but subjected to pu- 
nishment. Before he began his march, it was 
necessary to take the most effectual precautions 
against this impending danger. With this 
view he persuaded the magistrates of the* colo- 
ny at Vera Cruz to address a letter to the 
King, the chief object of which was to justify 
their own conduct in establishing a colony in- 
dependent on the jurisdiction of Velasquez. 
In order to accomplish this, they endeavoured 
to detract from his merit in fitting out the 
two former armaments under Cordova and 
Grijalya, affirming that these had been equip- 


BOOK ped by the adventurers who engaged in the 
expeditions, and not by the governor. They 

1519. contended that the sole object of Velasquez 
was to trade or barter with the natives, not to 
attempt the conquest of New Spain, orto settle 
a colony there. They asserted that Cortes, and 
the officers who served under him, had defray-^- 
ed the greater part of the expense in fitting out 
the armament. On this account, they humbly 
requested their sovereign to ratify what they 
had done in his name^ and to confirm Cortes 
in the supreme command by his royal commit* 
sion. That Charles might be induced to grant 
more readily what they demanded, they gave 
him a pompous description of the couotiy 
which they bad discovered ; of its riches, the 
number of its inhabitants, their dvilization and 
arts ; they related the progress which they had 
already made, in annexing some parts of the 
country situated on the sea-coast to the crown 
of Castile ; and mentioned the schemes which 
they had formed, as well as the hopes which 
they entertained, of reducing the whole to sub<- 
jection.* Cortes himself wrote in a similar 

* In thig letter it is asserted, that though a considerable 
number of Spani^ds had been wounded in their various 
eneounters with the people of Tabasco, not one of them 
died, and all had recovered in a very short time. This 
seems to confirm what I observe in p. 297. concerning the 
imperfection of the offensive weapons used by the Ameri- 


Mrain ; and as he knew that the Spanish cour^ 
accustomed to the exaggerated representations 
of every new country by its discoverers, would i«i»- 
give little credit to their splendid accounts of 
New Spain, if these were not accompanied 
with such a specimen of what it contained as 
would excke an high idea of its opulence, he 
solicited his soldiers to relinquish what they 
might claim as their part of the treasures which 
iiad hitherto been collected, in order that the 
whole might be sent to the King. Such was 
the ascendant which he had acquired over their 
minds, and such their own romantic expecta* 
tions of fiiture wealth, that an army of indigent 
and rapacious adventurers was capable of this 
generous eiSRirt, and offered to their sovereign 
the richest present that had hitherto been trans** 
mitted from the New World.* Portocarrero and 
Montejo, the chief magistrates of the colony^ 
were appointed to carry this present to Castile, 

oaniB. la tkis letter^ the human tacrifices offered by the 
Mexicans to their deities are described minutely, and with 
great horror ; some of the Spaniards, it is said, had been 
eye-witnesses of those barbarous rites. To the letter is 
subjoined a catalogue and description of the presents sent 
to the Emperor. That publisked by Gomara, Cron. c. 29. 
•eema to have been copied from it. Pet. Martyr describes 
many of the articles in his treatise * De Insulis nuper inven- 
til/ p. 854, &c. 
* See Note LXXVII. Page 4ia. 


BOOK ^ith express orders not to touch at Cuba in 
\^»yi^,# their passage thither.* 


A«oiu|unu While a vessel was preparing for their de- 
Vu^^ parture, an unexpected event occasioned a 
general alarm. Some soldiers and sailors, se- 
cretly attached to Velasquez, or intimidated 
at the prospect of the dangers unavoidable iu 
attempting to penetrate into the heart of a 
great empire with such unequal force, formed 
the design of seizing one of the brigantines» 
and making their escape to Cuba, in order to 
give the governor such intelligence as might 
enable him to intercept the ship which was to 
carry the treasure and despatches to Spain. 
This conspiracy, though formed by persons of 
low rank, was conducted with profound secre- 
cy ; but at the moment when every thing was 
ready for execution, ihey were betrayed by one 
of their associates. 

Hedestroys Though the good fortuuc of Cortcs inter- 
posed so seasonably on this occasion, the de- 
tection of this conspiracy filled his mind with 
most disquieting apprehensions, and prompted 
him to execute a scheme which he had long 
revolved. He perceived that the spirit of dis- 
affection still lurked among his troops ; that 

* B. Diaz, c. 54. Gomara, Cron. c. 40. 


thougb hitberto checked by the uniform suc- 
cess of his schemes, or suppressed by the hand 
of authority, various events might occur which ^^^^• 
would encourage and call it forth. He ob- 
served, that many of his men, weary of the 
fatigue of service, longed to revisit their settle- 
ments in Cuba; and that upon any appear- 
ance of extraordinary danger, or any reverse 
of fortune^ it would be impossible to restrain 
them from returning thither. He was sensible 
that his forces, already too feeble, could bear 
no diminution, and that a very small defection 
of his followers would oblige him to abandon 
the enterprise. After ruminating often, and 
•with much solicitude, upon those particulars, 
he saw no hope of success but in cutting off 
all possibility of retreat, and in reducing his 
men to the necessity of adopting the same 
resolution with which he himself was animat- 
ed, either to conquer or to perish. With this 
view, he determined to destroy his fleet ; but 
as he durst not venture to execute such a bold 
resolution by his single authority, he laboured 
to bring his soldiers to adopt his ideas with re- 
spect to the propriety of this measure. His 
address in accomplishing this was not inferior 
to the arduous occasion in which it was em- 
ployed. He persuaded some, that the ships 
had suffered so much by having been long at 
sea, as to be altogether unfit for service ; to 
others he pointed out what a seasonable rein- 



300K forcevient of strength they would derive from 
}^f0^\^^^ the junction of an hundred men, now unpro- 
>5i9* fitdbly employed as sailors ; and to all he re- 
presented the necessity of fixing their eyes and 
wishes upon what was before them, without 
allowing the idea of a retreat once to f nter 
their thoughts. With universal consent the 
shipi^ were drawn ashore, and after stripping 
them of their sails, rigging, irou works, and 
whatever else might be of use, they were broke 
in pieces. Thus, from an effort of magnanir 
mity to which there is nothing parallel in his- 
tory, five hundred men voluntarily consented 
to be shut up in a hostile country, filled with 
powerful and unknown nations ; and havipg 
precluded every means of escape, left them? 
selves without any resource but their own va- 
lour and perseverance.* 

Nothing now retarded Cortes j the alacrity 
of his troops and the disposition of his allies 
were equally favourable. All the advantages^ 
however, derived from the latter, though prpr 
cured by much assiduity and address, were 
well nigh lost in a moment, by an indiscreet 
sally of religious zeal, which, on ipany occa^ 
sions, precipitated Cortes into actiotas incon- 

* Relat. di Cort^ ; Ramus, iii. 225. B. Diaz, c. 57, 58' 
Herrera, dec. 2. lib. t. c. 1*. 


sistent with the prudence that distinguishes 
his character. Though hitherto he had nei- 
ther time nor opportunity to explain to the '^i^* 
natives the errors of their own superstition, or 
to instruct them in the principles of the Chris- 
tian faith, he commanded his soldiers to over- 
turn the altars and to destroy the idols in the 
chief temple of Zempoalla, and in their place 
to erect a crucifix and an image of the Virgin 
Mary. The people beheld this with astonish- 
ment and horror ; the priests excited them to 
arms j but such was the authority of Cortes, 
and so great the ascendant which the Spaniards 
had acquired, that the commotion was appeas- 
ed without bloodshed, and concord perfectly 

Cortes began his march from Zempoalla Advaiicc* 
on the sixteenth of August, with five hundred ^nti^. 
men, fifteen horse, and six field-pieces. The 
rest of his troops, consisting chiefly of such as 
from age or infirmity were less fit for active 
service, he left as a garrison in Villa Rica, 
under the command of Escalante, an officer of 
merit, and warmly attached to his interest. 
The cazique of Zempoalla supplied him with 
provisions, and with two hundred of those 
Indians called Tamemes, whose office, in a 

* B. Diaz, c. 41, 42, Herrera, dec 2, Mb, v. c. 3r 4. 


TOuhtrj where tame animals were unknownv 
was to carry burdens^ and to perform all ser- 
1519. vile labour. They were a great relief to the 
Spanish soldiers, who hitherto had been obliged 
not only to carry their own baggage, but to 
drag along the artillery by main force. He offer- 
ed likewise a considerable body of his troops, 
but Cortes was satisfied with four hundred ; 
taking caxe^ however, to choose persons of 
^uch note as might prove hostages for the 
fidelity of their master. Nothing memorable 
happened in his progress, imtil he arrived on 
the confines of Tlascala. The inhabitants of 
that province, a warlike people, were implac- 
able enemies of the Mexicans, and had bees 
united in an ancient alliance with the caziques 
of Zempoalla. Though less civilized than the 
subjects of Montezuma, they were advanced 
in improvement far beyond the rude nations of 
America, whose manners we have described. 
They had made considerable progress in agri- 
culture ; th«y dwelt in large towns ; they were 
pot strangers to some species of commerce ; 
and in the imperfect accounts of their institu- 
tions and laws, transmitted to us by the early 
Spanish writers, we discern traces both of dis- 
tributive justice and of criminal juri3diction in 
their interior police. But still, as the degree 
of their civilization was incomplete, and as 
they depended for subsistence, not on agricul- 
ture alone, but trusted for it in a great mea- 



sure to hunting, they retained many of the 
qualities natural to men in this state. Like 
them, they were fierce and revengeful ; like 
them, too, they were high-spirited and inde- 
pendent. In consequence of the former, they 
were involved in perpetual hostilities, and had 
but a slender and 'Occasional intercourse with 
neighbouring states. The latter inspired them 
with such detestation of servitude, that they 
not only refused to stoop to a foreign yoke, 
and maintained an obstinate and successful 
contest in defence of their liberty against the 
superior power of the Mexican empire, but 
they guarded with equal solicitude against do- 
mestic tyranny ; and disdaining to acknow- 
iedge any master, they lived under the mild 
and limited jurisdiction of a council elected by 
their several tribes. 

Cortes, though he had received information ^*^X 
concerning the martial character of this people, Tiasoaians. 
flattered himself that his professions of deliver- 
ing the oppressed from the tyranny of Monte- 
zuma, their inveterate enmity to the Mexicans, 
and the example of their ancient allies the 
Zempoallans, might induce the Tlasealans to 
grant him a friendly reception. In order to 
dispose them to this, four Zempoallans of great 
eminence were sent ambassadors, to request, in 
his name, and in that of their cazique, that 
they would permit the Spaniards to pass through 


%he territories of the republic, in their way to 
Mexico, But instead of the favourable answer 
1519. which was expected, the Tlascalans seized the 
ambassadors^ and without any regard to their 
public character, made preparations {(xc sacri- 
ficing them to their gods. At the same time^ 
they assembled their troops, in order to oppose 
those unknown invaders, if they should attempt 
to make their passage good by force of arms. 
Various motives concurred in precipitating the 
Tlascalans into this resolution. A fierce people^ 
shut up within its own narrow precincts, and 
little accustomed to any intercourse with fo* 
reigners, is apt to consider every stranger as 
an enemy, and is easily excited to arms. They 
concluded, from Cortes'* proposal of visiting 
Montezuma in his capital, that, notwithstand- 
ing all his professions, he courted the friend- 
ship of a monarch whom they both hated and 
feared. The imprudent zeal of Cortes in vio- 
lating the temples in Zempoalla, filled the 
Tlascalans with horror j and as they were no 
less attached to their superstition than the 
other nations of New Spain, they were impa- 
tient to avenge their injured gods, and to ac- 
quire the merit of offering up to them, as vic- 
tims, those impious men who had dared to 
prcrfane their altars : they contemned the small 
number of the Spaniards, as they had not yet 
measured their own strength with that of these 
new enemies, and had no idea of the superi- 


Y»rity which they derived from their arms and 


CoRTES) after waiting some days, in vain, Aug. 5a 
for the return of his ambassadors, advanced h.^^^ 
into the Tlascalan territories. As the resolch 
tions of people who delight in war are execut* 
ed With no less promptitude than they are 
formed, he found troops in the field ready to 
oppose hfin. They attacked him with great 
intrepidity, and, in the first encounter, wound- 
ed some of the Spaniards, and killed two 
horses 4 a los$, in their situation, of great mo- 
ment, because it was irreparable. From this 
specimen *•£ their courage, Cortes saw the ne- 
cessity of proceeding with caution. His army 
marched in close order ^ he chose the stations 
where be halted, with attention, and fortified 
every camp with extraordinary care. During 
fourteen days he was exposed to almost unin- 
terrupted assaults, the Hascalans advancing 
with numerous armies, and renewing the attack 
in various forms, with a degree of valour and 
perseverance to which the Spaniards had seen 
nothing parallel in the New World. The 
Spanish historians describe those successive 
battles with great pomp, and enter into a mi- 
nute detail of particulars, mingling many ex- 
s^gerated and incredible circumstances * with 

* See Note LXXVIIL Page 418. 




such as are real and marvellous. But no power 
of words can render the recital of a combat in- 
teresting, where there is no equality of danger ; 
and when the narrative closes with an account 
of thousands slain on the one side, while not a 
single person falls on the other, the most la* 
boured descriptions of the previous disposition 
of the troops, or of the various vicissitudes in 
the engagement, command no atteption. 

Some sin- 
gvilar cir- 
in it. 

There are some circumstances, however, in 
this war, which are memorable, and merit no* 
tice, as they throw light upon the character 
both of the people of New Spain, and of their 
conquerors. Though the Tiascalaw brought 
into the field such numerous armies as appear 
sufficient to have overwhelmed the Spaniards, 
they were never able to make any impression 
upon their small battalion. Singular as this 
may seem, it is not inexplicable. The Tlas- 
calans, though addicted to war, were, like all 
unpolished nations, strangers to military order 
and discipline, and lost in a great measure 
the advantage which they might have derived 
from their numbers, and the impetuosity of 
their attack, by their constant solicitude to 
carry off the dead and wounded. This point 
of honour, founded on a sentiment of tender- 
ness natural to the human mind, and strength- 
ened by anxiety to preserve the bodies of their 


countrymen from being devoured by their ene- 
mies, was universal among the people of New 
Spain. Attention to this pious office occupied ?^^^' 
them even during the heat of combat,* broke 
their union, and diminished the force of the 
impression which they might have made by a 
joint efibrt 

Not only was their superiority in number ol 
little avail, but the imperfection of their mill- 
tary weapons rendered their valour in a great 
measure inofiensive. After three battles, and 
many skirmishes and assaults, not one Spaniard 
was killed in the field. Arrows and spears, 
headed with ilint or the bones of fishes, stakes 
hardened in the fire, and wooden swords, 
though destructive weapons among naked In- 
dians, were easily turned. aside by the Spanish 
bucklers, and could hardly penetrate the e^- 
caupikSf or quilted jackets, which the soldiers 
wore. The Tlascalans advanced boldly to the 
charge, and often fought hand to hand. Many 
of the Spaniards were wounded, though all 
slightly, which cannot be imputed to any want 
of courage or strength in their enemies, but to 
the defect of the arms with which they assailed 

* B. Diaz, c. 65. 

i^98 HisTORr or aacoiica. 

Notwithstanding the fury with which the 
Tlascalans attacked the Spaniards, they seemed 
1519. to have conducted their hostih'ties with some 
degree of barbarous generosity. They gave the 
Spaniards warning of their hostile intentions, 
and as they knew that their invaders wanted 
provisions, and imagined, perhaps, like the 
other Americans, that they had left their own 
country because it did not afford them subsist- 
ence, they sent to their camp a large supply 
of poultry and maize, desiring them to eat 
plentifully, because they scorned to attack an 
enemy enfeebled by hunger ; and it would be 
an affront to their gods to offer them famished 
victims, as well as disagreeable to themselves 
to feed on such emaciated prey.* 

When they were taught by the first encoun- 
ter with their new enemies, tliat it was not easy 
to execute this threat ; when they perceived, 
in the subsequent engagements, that notwith* 
standing all the efibrts of their own valour, of 
which they had a very high opinion, not one of 
the Spaniards was slain or taken, they began to 
conceive them to be a superior order of beings, 
against whom human power could not avail. 
In this extremity they had recourse to their 
priests, requiring them to reveal the mysterious 

* Herrera, dec. 2. lib. vi. c. 6. Gomara, Croii. c. 47> 


cftuses of «uch extraordinary eveots, and to de« 
dare what new means they should employ in or- 
der to repulse those formidable invaders. The 1^19. 
priests, after many sacrifices and incantations, 
delivered this response :«— That these strangers 
were the offspring of the sun, procreated by his 
animating energy in the regions of the east ; 
that, by day,^ -while cherished with the influence 
of his parental beams, they were invincible ; 
but by night, when his reviving heat was with- 
drawn, their vigour declined and faded like the 
herbs in the field, and they dwindled down iU'- 
to mortal men.* Theories less plausible have 
gained credit with more enlightened nations, 
and have influenced their conduct. In conse- 
quence of this, the Tlascalans, with the implicit 
confldence of men who fancy themselves to be 
under the guidance of Heaven, acted in con- 
tradiction to one of their most established 
maxims in war, and ventured to attack the 
enemy with a strong body in the night-time, 
in hopes of destroying them when enfeebled 
and surprised. But Cortes had greater vigi- 
lance and discernment than to be deceived by 
the rude stratagems of an Indian army. The 
sentinels at his out-posts, observing some ex- 
traordinary movement among the Tlascalans, 

♦ B. Diaz, c. 66. 


gave the. alarm. In a moment the troops were 
under arms, and sallying out, dispersed the 
15J9. party with great slaughter, without allowing it 
to approach the camp. The Tlascalans, con- 
vinced by sad experience that their priests had 
deluded them, and satisfied that they attempt- 
ed in vain, either to deceive or to vanquish 
their enemies, their fierceness abated, and they 
began to incline seriously to peace. 

The TW They were at a loss, however, in what raan- 
poMd to ner to address the strangers, what idea to form 
^**^ of their character, and whether to consider 
them as beings of a gentle or of a malevolent 
nature. There were circumstances in their 
conduct which seemed to favour each opinion. 
On the one hand, as the Spaniards constantly 
dismissed the prisoners whom they took, not 
only without injury, but oflen with presents of 
European toys, and renewed their offers of 
peace after every victory ; this lenity amazed, 
people, who, according to the exterminating 
system of war known in America, were accus- 
tomed to sacrifice and devour without mercy 
all the captives taken in battle, and disposed 
them to entertain favourable sentiments of the 
humanity of their new enemies. But, on the 
other hand, as Cortes had seized fifty of their 
countrymen who brought provisions to his 
camp, and, supposing them to be spies, had cut 


off their hands ;* this bloody spectacle, added 
to the terror occasioned by the fire-arms and 
horses, filled them with dreadful impressions of *^^^- 
the ferocity of their invaders.t This uncer- 
tainty was apparent in the mode of addressing 
the Spaniards. " If," said they, " you are 
divinities of a cruel and savage nature, we pre- 
sent to you five slaves, that you may, drink their 
blood and eat their flesh. If you are mild 
deities, accept an' offering of incense and varie- 
gated plumes. If you are men, here is meat, 
and bread, and fruit, to nourish you.*'1: The 
peace, which both parties now desired with 
equal ardour, was soon concluded. The Tlas- concluded. 
calans yielded themselves as vassals to the 
crown of Castile, and engaged to assist Cortes 
in all his future operations. He toek the re- 
public under his protection, and promised to 
defend their persons and possessions from in- 
jury or violence* 

This treaty was concluded at a seasonable Adv»ntag« 

*' of it to the 

juncture for the Spaniards. The fatigue of ser- Spaniards. 
vice among a small body of men, surrounded 
by such a multitude of enemies, was incredible. 

* Cortes, Relat.; Ramus, ili. 228. C. Gomara, Cron. c.48. 
t See Note LXXIX. Page 420. 
% B. Diaz, c. 70. Gomara, Cron. c. 47. Herrera, dec. 2. 
lib. vi. c. 7. 


Half the army was on duty every night, and 
even they whose turn it was to rest, slept always 
1519. iipon their arms, that they might be ready to 
run to their posts on a moment's warning. 
Many of them were wounded ; a good number, 
and among these Cortes himself, laboured un- 
der the distempers prevalent in hot climates^ 
and several Had died since they set out from 
Vera Cruz. Notwithstanding the supplies 
which they received from the Tlascalans, they 
were often in want of provisions, and so desti- 
tute of the necessaries most requisite in dan^ 
gerous service, that they had no salve to dress 
their wounds, but. what was composed with the 
fat of the Indians whom they had slain.* 
Worn out with such intolerable toil and bard- 
ships, many of the soldiers began to mtirmur, 
and, when they reflected on the multitude and 
boldness of their enemies, more were ready to 
despair. It required the utmost exertion of 
Cortes*s authority and address to check this 
spirit of despondency in its progress, and to re- 
animate his followers with their wonted sense 
of their own superiority over the enemies with 
whom they bad to contend.t The submission 
of the Tlascalans, and their own triumphant 

* B. Diaz, c. 62. 65. 

t Cortefi, Relat. ; Ramus, iii. 229. B. Diaz^ c. 69. Go* 
mara, Cron. c. 51. 


(BDtry into the capital city, where they were re« 90ok 
ceived with the xeverence paid to beings of a y ^^^^ 
superior order, banished, at once, from the 1^19. 
minds of the Spaniards, all memory of past suf- 
ferings, dispelled every anxious thought with 
respect to their future operations, and fully sa- 
tisfied them that there was not now any power 
in America able to withstand their arms.* 

Cortes remained twenty days in Tlascala, in Cortessou. 
order to allow his troops a short interval of re« ^thdr 
pose after such hard service. During that time *^^**"^5 
he was employed in transactions and inquiries 
of great moment with respect to his future 
schemes. In his daily conferences with the 
Tlascalan chiefs, he received information con- 
cerning every particular relative to the state of 
the Mexican empire, or to the qualities of its 
sovereign, which could be of^ use in regulating 
his conduct, whether he should be obliged to 
act as a friend or as an enemy. As he found 
that the antipathy of his new allies to the Mexi- 
can nation was no less. implacable than had 
been represented, and perceived what benefit 
he might derive from the aid of such powerful 
confederates, he employed all his powers of in«^ 
sinuation in order to gain their confidence. 
Nor was any extraordinary exertion of these 

* Cortes, Relat. ; Ramus, iii.230. B. Diaz, c. 72. 



necessary. The Tlascakinfs, with the levity of 
mind natural to unpolished men, were, of their 
r5i9. own accord, disposed to run from the extreme 
of hatred to that of fondness. Every thing in 
the appearance and conduct of their guests was 
to them matter of wonder.* They gazed with 
admiration at whatever the Spaniards did, and 
fancying them to be of heavenly origin, were 
eager not only to comply with their demands, 
but to anticipate their wishes. They offered, 
accordingly, to accompany Cortes in his march 
to Mexico, with all the forces of the republic, 
under the command of their most experienced 

which he But, after bestowing so much pains on ce- 
lortbyhb menting this union, all the beneficial fruits of 
it were on the point of being lost, by a new 
efiusion of that intemperate religious zeal with 
which Cortes was animated, no less than the 
other adventurers of the age. They all consi" 
dered themselves^ as instruments employed by 
Heaven to propagate the Christian faid), and 
the less they were qualified, either by their 
knowledge or morals, for such a function, 
Aey were more eager to discharge it. The 
profound veneration of the Tlascdans for the 
Spaniards, having encouraged Cortes to explain 

* See Note LXXX. Page 421. 

rash zeal. 


to some of their' chiefs the doctrines of the 
Christian religion, and to insist that they should 
abandon their own superstitions, and embrace ^s\9, 
the faith of their new iriends, they, according 
to an idea universal among barbarous nations^ 
readily acknowledged the truth and excellence 
of what he taught ; but contended, that the 
Teule& of TIascala were divinities no less than 
the God in whom the Spaniards believed ; and 
as that Being was entitled to the homage of 
Europeans, so they were bound to revere the 
same powers which their ancestors had wor- 
shipped^ Cortes continued, nevertheless, to 
urge his demand in a tone of authority, ming- 
ling threats with his arguments, until the Tlas- 
calans could bear it no lonfger, and conjured 
him never to mention this again, lest the gods 
^should avenge on their heads the guilt of hav- 
ing listened to suieh a proposition. Cortes^ as- 
tonished and enraged at their obstinacy, pre- 
pared to execute by force what he could not 
accomplish by persuasion, and was going to 
overturn their altars, and cast down their idols 
with the same violent hand as at Zempoalla, if 
Father Bartholomew de Olmedo, chaplain to 
the expedition, had not checked his inconside- 
rate impetuosity* He represented the impru- 
dence of suoh an attempt in a large city newly 
reconciled, and filled with people no less super- 
stitious than warlike; he declared, that the 
proceeding at Zempoalla had always appeared 

VOL. II. u 


to bim precipitate and unjust; that religioii 
was not to be prj^gated by the swords or in- 
1^19- iidels to be converted by violence ; that o^er 
weapoos.were to be employed in this ministry; 
patient instruction must enlighten the under- 
standing, and pious e^tample captivate the 
heart, before men could be induced to aban^ 
don eritor, and embrace the truths* Amidst 
scenes, where a narrow-minded bigotry ap- 
pears in such close uni^i with oppression and 
cruelty^ saitiments so liberal and humane 
soothe tihe mind with unexpected pleastire ; 
and at a time when the rights of conscience 
were little understood in the Christian worlds 
and the idea of toleration uiiktiown» one i» as- 
tonished to find a Spanish monk of the six* 
teenth ceirtury amopg the first fuivQcates against 
persecution, and in^ behalf of religious liberty. 
The remonstrances of an ecclesiastic no Jesfi^ 
respectable for wisdom than virtue had their 
proper weight with Cortes. He left the Tlas- 
<!alans in the undisturbed exercise <^ their owa 
rites, requiring only that they should desist 
from their horrid practice of ofiering human 
victims in sacrifice. 

AdTanccs CoRTES, as soou as his troops were fit for 

to Cholula. . ■ . ■ ^ 

service, resolved to continue his march towards 

* B. Diaz, c, 77. p. 54?. c. 83. p. 61- 


Mexico, notwitfastaiicfiog the earnest dmva^ 
sfves of the Tlascalans, who represented bis 
destruction as nnavoidable^ if he put himseif )5i9. 
in the power of a prince so faithless and cruel 
as Montezuma. As he was accompanied by 
six thousand Tlascalans, he had now the com- 
mand of forces which resembled a regular 
army. They directed their course towards Oct 13. 
Cholula ; Monteeuma, who had at length con- 
sented to admit the Spaniards into his pre* 
sence, having informed Cortes^ that he had 
given orders for bis friendly reception there* 
Cholula was a considerable towii> and though 
only five leagues distant from Tlascala, was 
formerly an independent state, but had been 
lately subjected to the Mexican empire. This 
was considered by all the people of New Spain, 
as a holy place, the sanctuary and chief seat of 
their gods, to which pilgrims resorted from 
every province, and a greater number of hu- 
man victims were Offered in its principal tem- 
ple than even in that of Mexico** Montezuma 
teems to have invited the Spaniards thither, 
either from some superstitious hope that the* 
gods would not suffer this sacred mansion to 
be defiled, without pouring down their wrath 
upon those impious strangers, who ventured to 

* Torquemada, Monar. lad. 1. 2S1, 282. ii. 291. Go- 
m^ra, Cron# c. 61. Henrera, dec. 2. lib. vii. c. 2. 




insult their power in the place of its peculiar 
residence; or from a belief that he himself 
might there attempt to cut them off with more 
certain suecess, under thie immediate protecr 
tion of his divinities. 

TTie seve- 
rity of his 

Cortes bad been warned^ by the TIascalans,; 
before he set out on his march, to keep a 
watchful eye over the Cholulans. He himself, 
though received into the town with much 
seeming respect and cordiality, observed se- 
veral circumstances in their conduct which ex- 
cited suspicion. Two of the Tlascalans, who 
were encamped at some dbtanee from the 
towii, as the Cholulans refused to admit their 
ancient enemies within its precincts, having 
found means to enter in disguise, acquainted 
Cortes, that they observed the women and 
children of the principal citizens retiring in 
great hurry every night ; and that six children 
had been saicrificed in the chief templcj a rite 
which indicated the execution of some warlike 
enterprise to be approaching. At the same 
time, Marina the interpreter received infor- 
mation from an Indian woman of distinction, 
whose confidence she had gained, that the de- 
struction of her friends was concerted ; that 
a body of Mexican troops lay concealed near 
the town ; that some of the streets were bar- 
ricaded, and in others, pits or deep trenches 
were dug, and slightly covered over, as traps 


into whidh th6 horses might fall ; that stones 
or missive weapons were collected on the tops 
of the temples, with which to overwhelm the i^^^- 
infantry ; that the fatal hour was now at hand, 
and their ruin unavoidable. Cortes, alarmed 
at this concurring evidence, secretly arrested 
three of the chief priests, and extorted from 
them a confession that confirmed the intelli- 
gence which he had received. As not a mo- 
ment was to be lost, he instantly resolved to 
prevent his enemies, and to inflict on them 
such dreadful vengeance as might strike Mon- 
tezuma and his subjects with terror. For this 
purpose, the Spaniards and Zempoallans were 
drawn up in a large court, which had been 
allotted for their quarters, near the centre of 
the town ; the Tlascalans had orders to ad- 
vance^ the magistrates, and several of the 
chief citizens were sent for, under various pre- 
texts, and seized. On a signal given, the 
troops rushed out, and fell upon the multitude, 
destitute of leaders, and so much astonished, 
that the weapons dropping from their hands, 
they stood motionless, and incapable of de- 
fence. While the Spaniards pressed them in 
front, the Tlascalans attacked them in the rear. 
The streets were filled with bloodshed and 
death. The temples, which afforded a retreat 
to the priests and seme of the leading men, 
were set on fire, and they perished in the 
flames. This scene of horror continued two 




days ; during which the wretched inhabitant* 
suffered all that the destructive rage of the 
Spaniards, of the implacable revenge of their 
Indian allies, could inflict. At length the car- 
nage ceased, after the slaughter of six thou^ 
sand Cholulans^ without the loss of a sin^e 
Spaniard* Cortes then released the magiSi- 
trates, and reproaching them bitterly for their 
intended treachery, declared, that as justice 
was now appeased, he forgave the ofience, but 
required them to recal the citizens, who had 
fled, and re-establish order in the town. Sudi 
was the ascendant which the Spaniards had 
acquired over ihisi superstitious, race of m^n, 
and so deeply were they impressed with an 
opinion of their superior discernment, as welt 
as power, that, in obedienee to this commaiM}, 
the city was in a few days filled again witli 
people, who, atnidst the ruins of their sacred 
buildings, yielded respectful service to men 
whose hands were stained with the blood of 
their relations adod fellQW-citi^ens.'^ 

Oct. 29. Fmm Cholula^ Cortes advanced directly to*^ 

Advances in*-. i • i i -i 

towards wards Mexico, which was omy twenty leagues 
distant. In every fdace thofough; wl^cb he 


* Cortes, Relat. Riamus. iii. 231. B; Diaz, c. 8S. Go- 
mara, Cron. c. 64. Herrera^ dec. 2. lib. vii. c. 1, 2. See 
NoteLXXXI. Paj^4i2X. 


passed, be was recdved as a person possessed book 
of sufficient power to deliver the empire irom ^p^^l^»^ 
tbe oppression under which it groaned; and i^is* 
the caziques or governors communicated to 
him all the grievances which they felt under 
tbe tyrannical government of Montezuma, 
with th^ unreserved confidence which men 
naturaUy repose in superior, beings. When 
Cortes first observed l3ie seeds of discontent in 
the remote provinces of the empire, hope 
dawned upon bis mind ; but when he now dds* 
covered such symptoms of alienation fixym 
their monarch near the seat of government, he 
concluded that the vital parts of tbe constitu* ' 
tion were afiected, and conceived the most 
sanguine expectations of overturning a state, 
wbose natural strength was thus divided and 
knpaired. While those reflections encouraged 
the general to persist in his arduous uncbertak- 
iaagv the soldiers were no letis animated by ob* 
servations more obviow to their edacity.. Iiai 
descending from iJie mountains c^ Chalco^ 
across which the road lay, the vast plain of 
Mexico opened graduaUy to their view. When Km view 
they first behdd this prospect, one of the most 
striking and beautiful on the face of the earth ; 
when they observed fertile and cultivated fields, 
stretching farther than the eye could reach ; 
when they saw a lake resembling the sea in ex- 
tent, encompassed with large towns, and dis- 
covered the capital city rising upon an island 




in the middle, adorned with its temples and 
turrets ; the scene so far exceeded their ima- 
giqatioa, that some believed the fanciful de- 
scriptions of romance were realized, and that 
Its enchanted palaces and gilded domes were 
presented to their sight ; others could hardly 
pexsiiade themselves that this wonderful spec- 
tacle was any thing more than a dream.* As 
they advanced, their doubts were removed, but 
their amazement increased. They were now 
fully satisfied that the country was rich beyond 
any conception which they had formed of it, 
and flattered themselves that at length they 
should obtain an ample recompense for all their 
services and sufferings. 

solutioii of 

Hitherto they had met with no enemy to 
oppose their progress, though several circum- 
stances occurred which led them to suspect 
that some design Was formed to surprise and 
cut them off. Many messengers arrived auc- 
cessively from Montezuma, permitting them 
one day to advance, requiring them on the 
next to retire, as his hopes or fears alternately 
prevailed ; and so wonderful was this infatua^ 
tion^ which seems to be unaccountable on any 
supposition but that of a superstitious dread <rf 
the Spaniards, as beings of a superior nature^ 

* See Note LXXXII. Page 422. 


ikat Cortes was almost at the gates of the capi- 
tal, before the monarch bad determined whe- 
ther to receive him as a friend, or to oppose 1519. 
him as an enemy. But as no sign of open 
hostility appeared, the Spaniards, without re- 
garding the fluctuations of Montezuma's senti-* 
ments, continued their march along the cause- 
way which led to Mexico through the lake, 
with great circumspection and the strictest dis- 
cipline, though without seeming to suspect the 
prince whom they were about to visit. 

When they drew near the city, about a titou- his fint 
sand persons, who appeared to be of distinction, ^^^^ 
came forth to meet them, adorned with plumes, spanwrfi. 
and clad in mantles of fine cotton. Each of 
these, in his order, passed by Cortes, and salut- 
ed him according to the mode deemed most ' 
respectful and submissive in their country^ 
They announced the approach of Montezuma 
himself, and soon after his harbingers came in 
sight. There appieared first two hundred per# 
^ns in ai\ uniform dress, with large plumes of 
feathers, alike in fashion, marching two and 
two, in deep silence, bare-footed, with their 
eyes fixed on the ground. These were follow- 
ed by a company of higher rank, in their most 
showy apparel, in the midst of whom was Mon- 
tezuma, in a chair or litter richly ornamented 
with gold, and feathers of various colours. 
Tour of his principal favourites carried him on 


BOOK their shoulders, others supported a canopy of 
^ljt/^l/ carious workmanslup over his head. Before 
Ui9- bim marched three officers with rods of gold in 
their hands, which they lifted up on high at 
certain intervals, and at that signal all the 
people bowed their heads, and hid their faces^ 
as unworthy to look on so great a monarch. 
When he drew near, Cortes dismounted, ad* 
vancing towards him with officious haste, and 
in a respectful posture. At the same time 
Montezuma alighted from his chair, and lean«* 
ing on the arms of two of his near relations, 
approached with a slow and stately pace, .his 
attendants covering the street with cotton 
cloths,: that he might not touch the ground. 
Cortes accosted him with profound reverence, 
after the European fa^ion. ^ He returned the 
salutation, according to the mode of his coun- 
try, by touching the earth with h». hand, and 
dien kiting it. This ceremony, the customary 
expression of veneration £rom inferiors towards 
those who were above them in rank, appeiffed 
smch amazing condescension in a proud mo- 
narch, who scarcdy deigned to consider the 
rest of mankind as q£ the same species with 
himself, that all his subjects £rmly believed 
those persons, before whom he humbled him- 
self in this man^ner, to be something more than 
human*. Accordingly, as they marched throij^ 
the crowd, the Spanis^ds frequendy, and with 
much satisfaction, heard thein^elves denomi- 


nated Teuks, or divinities. No thing material ^^^^ 
passed in this first interview. Montezuma con^ v^yW 
ducted Cortes to the quarters which he had ^^^^ 
prepared for his reception, and immediately 
took leave of him, with a politeness not uxt-» 
worthy o£ a court more refined. " You are 
now," says he, " with your brothers in your 
own house ; refresh yomselves after your fa* 
t%ue, and be happy until I return."* The 
place allotted to the Spaniards for their lodging 
was a house built by the fisither of Montezuma. 
It was surrounded by a stone wall, with towers 
at proper distances, which served for defence 
as well as for arnament, and its apartments and 
<;ourts were so large, as to accommodate bortb 
the Spaniards and their Indian allies. The 
first care of Cortes was to take precautions for 
bb security, by planting the artillery so a& to 
command the different avennes whidiiled to it, 
by appointing a large division of his troops to 
be alwajs on guard, and by posting sentiada 
at propcar stations, with ix^unctkins to observe 
the same v^yant discipline as if they wece 
within sight of an enenny's casnp. 

I» the evening, Mofntezama returned to visit ^'^^** 
his gaests with tike same porafi as in their first Spaniards. 

* Cartes, Relat. Ram. lii. 232—235. B. Diaz, c. 83— S8. 
^nmva, Cron. c.64fyS5» Herf #va, dee. d^ lib. vii. c. 3, 4>, 5. 


interview, and brought presents of such value, 
not only to Cortes and to his officers, but even 
1519. to the private men, as proved the liberality of 
the monarch to be suitable to the opulence of 
his kingdom. A long conference ensued, in 
which Cortes learned what was the opinion of 
Montezuma with respect to the Spaniards. It 
was an established tradition, he told him, among 
the Mexicans, that their ancestors came ori- 
ginally from a remote region, and* conquered 
the provinces now subject to his dominion; 
that after they were settled there, the great 
captain who conducted this colony returned to 
his own country, promising, that at some fu- 
ture period his descendants should visit them, 
assume the government, and reform their con- 
stitution and laws ; that from what he had 
heard and seen of Cortes and his followers, he 
was convinced that they were the very persons 
whose appearance the Mexican traditions and 
prophecies taught them to expect ; that ac- 
cordingly he had received them, not as stran- 
gers^ but as relations of the same blood and 
parentage ; and' desired that they might consi- 
der themselves as masters in his dominions, for 
both himself and his subjects should be ready 
to comply with their will, and even to prevent 
their wishes. Cortes made a reply in his usual 
style, with respect to the dignity and power of 
his sovereign, and his intention in sending him 
into that country ; artfully endeavouring so to 


frahie his disoourse, that it might coincide as 
much as possible with the idea which Monte- 
zuma had. formed concerning the origin of the '^^^^ 
Spaniards. Next morning, Cortes and some 
of his principal attendants were admitted to a 
public audience of the Emperor. The three 
subsequent days were employed in viewing the 
city ; the appearance of which, so far superior 
in the order of its buildings and the number of 
its inhabitants to any place the Spaniards had 
beheld in America, and yet so little resembling 
the structure of an European city, filled them 
with surprise and admiration* 

Mexico, or Tenuchtitlan^ as it was anciently 
called by the natives, is situated in a large 
plain, environed by mountains of such height, 
that, though within the torrid zone, the tem- 
perature of its climate is mild and healthful. 
All the moisture which descends from the high 
grounds is collected in several lakes, the two 
largest of which, of about ninety miles in cir- 
cuit, communicate with each other. The wa- 
ters of the one are fresh, those of the other 
brackish. On the banks of the latter, and on. 
some small islands adjoining to them, the ca- 
pital of Montezuma's empire was built. The 
access to the city was by artificial causeways 
or streets formed of stones and earth, about 
thirty feet in breadth. As the waters of the 
lake during the rainy season overflowed the flat 





country, these causeways were of considen^ 
length. That of Tacuba, on the west, extendi 
ed a mile and a half; that of Tepeaca,* on 
the north- west, three miles j that of Cuoyacan, 
towards the south, six miles. On the east 
there was no causeway, and the cHy could be 
approached only by canoes.t In each of these 
ca\iseways were openings at proper intervals^ 
through which the waters flowed, and over 
these beams of timber were laid, which being 
covered with earth, the causeway or street had 
everywhere an uniform appearance. As the 
approaches to the city were singular, its con- 
struction was remarkable. Not only the tern- 
pies of their gods» but the houses belonging to 
the monarch, and to persons of distinctioD, 
were of such dimensions, that, in comparison 
with any other buildings which had been hither* 
to discovered in America, they might be term- 
ed magnificent The habitations of the com- 

* I am indebted to M. Clavigero for correGting an error 
of importance in my de«cription of Mexico. From the east* 
where Tezeuco was situated, there was no causeway, as I 
have observed, and yet by some inattention on my part, or 
on that of the printer, in all the former editions one of the 
causeways was said to lead to Tezeuco. M. Clavigerd't 
measurement of the length of these causeways differs soiihe- 
what from that which I have adopted from F* Torribio. 
Clavig. ii. p. 72. 

t F. Torribio. MS. 


Aon people were mean, resembliog the huts of *ook 
other Indians. But they were all placed in a \_ ^^^t' 
regular manner, on the banks of the canals ^^i^* 
which passed through the city, in some of its 
districts, or on the sides of the streets which 
intersected it in other quarters. In several 
places were large openings or squares, one of 
which, allotted for the great market, is said to 
have been so spacious, that forty or fifty thou- 
sand persons carried on traffic there. In this 
city, the pride of the New World, and the no- 
blest monument of the industry and art of man, 
while unacquainted with the use of iron, and 
destitute of aid from any domestic animal, the 
Spaniards who are most moderate in their com- 
putations reckon, that there were at least sixty 
thousand inhabitants.* 

But how much soever the novelty of those iiieir dan- 
objects might amuse or astonish the Spaniards, fti^^ 
they felt the utmost solicitude with respect to 
their own situation. From a concurrence of 
circumstances, no less unexpected than favour- 
able to their progress, they had been allowed to 
penetrate into the heart of a powerful kingdom, 
and were now lodged in its capital, without hav- 

« Cortes, Relat. Rap), iii. 239. D. Relat. della gran 
Citta de Mexico, par un Gentelhuomo del Cortese. Rem. 
ibid. SO*. E, Herrera, dec. 2. lib. vii. c. 14-, &c, 



iiig once met with open opposition from it» mo- 
narch. The Tlascalans, however, had earnest- 
1519. ly dissuaded them from placing such confidence 
in Montezuma as to enter a city of such pe- 
culiar situation as Mexico, where that prince 
would have them at mercy, shut up as it were 
in a snare, from which it was impossible to 
escape. They assured them that Uie Mexican 
priests had, in the name of the god&, counselled 
their sovereign to admit the Spaniards into the 
capital, that he might cut them off there at one 
blow with perfect security.* They now per- 
ceived too plainly, that the apprehensions of 
their allies were not destitute of foundation ; 
that, by breaking the bridges placed at certain 
intervals on the causeways, or by destroying 
part of the causeways themselves, their retreat 
would be rendered impracticable, and they 
must remain cooped up in the centre of a hos- 
tile city, surrounded by multitudes sufficient to 
overwhelm them, and without a possibility of 
receiving aid from their allies^ Montezuma 
had, indeed, received them with distinguished 
respect. But ought they to reckon upon this 
as real, or to consider it as feigned ? Even if 
it were sincere, could they promise on its con- 
tinuance? Their safety depended upon the 
will of a monarch in whose attachment they 

♦ B. Diaz, c. 85, 86. 


had no reason to confide ; and an order flowing book 
from his caprice, or a word uttered by him in \^ \y 
passion, might decide irrevocably conc^ning i^i^- 
their fate.** 

These reflections, so obvious as to occur to 
the meanest soldier, did not escape, the vigilant ^i^gj^ct 
sagacity of their general. Before he set out ^°"*^ 
from Cholula, Cortes had received advice from 
Villa Rica,t that Qualpopoca, one of the Mexi- 
can generals on the frontiers, having assembled 
an army in order to attack some of the people 
whom the Spaniards had encouraged to throw 
off the Mexican yoke, £scalante had marched 
out with part of the garrison to support his al- 
lies ; that an engagement had ensued, in which, 
though the Spaniards were victorious, Esca- 
lante, with seven of bis men, had been mortally 
wounded, his horse killed, and one Spaniard 
had been surrounded by the enemy and taken ' 
alive ; that the head of this unfortunate cap- 
tive, after being carried in triumph to different 
cities, in order to convince the people that their 
invaders were not immortal, had been sent to 
Mexico^t Cortes, though alarmed with this 

* B. Diaz, c. 94. 

t Cortes^ Relat. Ram. iii. 235. C. 
X B. Diaz, c. 93, 94. Herrera, dec.2» lib. viii. c. 1. 
VOL* !!• X 


intelligence, as an indication of Montezuma's 
hostile intentions, had continued his march. 
1519. But as soon as he entered Mexico, he became 
sensible, that, from an excess of confidence in 
the superior valour and discipline of his troops, 
as well as from the disadvantage of having no- 
thing to guide him in an unknown country, but 
the dfefective intelligence which he bad receiv- 
ed from people with whom his mpde of com- 
munication was very imperfect, he had pushed 
forward into a situation, where it was difficult 
to continue, and from which it was dangerous 
to retire. Disgrace, and perhaps ruin, was the 
certain consequence of attempting the latter. 
The success of his enterprise depended upon 
supporting the high opinion which the people 
of New Spain had formed with respect to the 
irresistible power of his arms. Upon the first 
symptom of timidity on his part, their venera- 
tion would cease, and Montezuma, whom fear 
alone restrained at present, would let loose 
upon him the whole force of his empire. At 
the same time he knew, that the countenance 
of his own sovereign was to be obtained only 
By a series of victories, and that nothing but 
the merit of extraordinary success could screen 
his conduct from the censure of irregularity. 
From all these considerations, it was necessary 
to maintain his station, and to extricate hidiself 
out of the difficulties in which one bold step 
had involved him, by venturing upon another 



Still bolder. The situation was tiying, but his 
mind was equal to it ; and after rerolving the 
matter with deep attention, he fixed upon a i^i^- 
plan no less extraordinary than daring. He ^^^^ 
determined to seize Montezuma in his palace, 
and to carry him as a prisoner to the Spanish 
quarters. From the superstitious veneration of 
the Mexicans for the person of their monarch, 
as well as their implicit submission to his will, 
iie hoped, by having Montezuma in his power, 
to acquire the supreme direction of their afiairs ; 
or, at least, with such a sacred pledge in his 
hands, he made no doubt of being secure from 
any effort of their violence. 

This he immediately proposed to his officers. His i 
The timid startled at a measure so audacious, ^^^b^ 
and raised objections. The more intelhgent 
and resolute, conscious that it was the only 
resource in which there appeared any prospect 
of safety, warmly approved of it, and brought 
over their companions so cordially to the same 
opinion, that it was agreed instantly to make 
the attempt. At his usual hour of visiting 
Montezuma, Cortes went to the palace, accom- 
panied by Alvarado, Sandoval, Lugo, Velas- 
quez de Leon, and Davila, five of his principal 
officers, and as many trusty soldiers. Thirty 
chosen men followed, not in regular order, but 
sauntering at some distance, as if they had Ho 
object but curiosity ; small parties were posted 

324 MISl'ORY Ot AM£RICil. 

BOOK at proper intervals, in all the streets leading 
\,0»/.,^ from the Spanish quarters to the court ; and 
1519. the remainder of his troops, with the Tlascdan 
allies, were under arms ready to sally out on 
the first alarm. Cortes and his attendants 
were admitted without suspicion ; the Mexi- 
cans retiring, as usual, out of respect. He 
addressed the monarch in a tone very different 
from that which he had employed in former 
conferences, reproaching him bitterly as the 
author of the violent assault made upon the 
Spaniards by one of his officers, and demanded 
public reparation for the loss which they had 
sustained by the death of some of their compa- 
nions, as well as for the insult offered to the 
great prince whose servants they were. Mon- 
tezuma, confounded at this unexpected accu- 
sation, and changing colour, either from con- 
sciousness of guilt, or from feeling the indig* 
nity with which he was treated, asserted his 
own innocence with great earnestness, and, as 
a proof of it, gave orders instantly to bring 
Qualpopoca and his accomplices prisoners to 
Mexico. Cortes replied, with seeming com- 
plaisance, that a declaration so respectable left 
no doubt remaining in his own mind, but that 
something more was requisite to satisfy his fol- 
lowers, who would never be convinced that 
Montezuma did not harbour hostile intentions 
against them, unless, as an evidence of his con- 
fidence and attachment, he removed from his 



own palace, and took up his residence in the book 
Spanish quarters, where he should be ^rved 

and honoured as became a great monarch* i^i<^i 
The first mention of so strange a proposal 
bereaved Montezuma of speech, and almost of 
motion. At length, indignation gave him 
utterance, and he haughtily answered, *^ Hiat 
persons of his rank were not accustomed yolun* 
tarily to give up themselves as prisoners ; and 
were he^ mean enough to do so, his subjects 
would not permit such an afiront to be offered 
to their sovereign." Cortes, unwilling to em- 
ploy force, endeavoured alternately to sooth 
and to intimidate him. The altercation be- 
came warm ; and having continued above three 
hours, Velasquez de Leon, an impetuous and 
gsllant young man, exclaimed with impatience, 
" Why waste more time in vain ? Let us either 
seize him instantly, or stab him to the heart." 
The threatening voice and fierce gestures with 
which these words were uttered, struck Mon* 
tezuma. The Spaniards, he was sensible, had 
now proceeded so far, as left him no hope that 
they would recede. His own danger was im- 
minent, the necessity unavoidable. He saw 
both, and abandoning himself to his fate, com- 
plied with their request. 

His officers were called. He communicated Momjezu- 
to them his resolution. Though astonished and to the 
afflicted, they presumed not to question the will ^J^. 


BOOK of their master, but carried him in silent pomp, 
y^tm,^^^^ all bsikhed in tears, to the Spanish quarters. 
1*19. When it was known that the strangers were 
conveying away the Emperor, the people broke 
out into the wildest transports of grief and 
^ . rage, threatening the Spaniards with imme- 
diate destruction, as the punishment justly due 
to their impious audacity. But as soon as 
Montezuma appeared with a seeming gaiety of 
countenance, and waved his hand, the tumult 
was hushed ; and upon his declaring it to be of 
his own choice that he went to reside for some 
time among his 'new friends, the multitude, 
taught to revere every intimation of their sove- 
reign's pleasure, quietly dispersed.* 

Thus was a powerful prince seized by a ftw 
strangers in the midst of his capital, at noon- 
day, and carried off as a prisoner without oppo- 
sition or bloodshed. History contains nothing 
parallel to this event, either with respect to the 
temerity of the attempt, or the success of the 
execution ; and were not all the circun^stances 
of this extraordinary transaction authenticated 
by the most unquestionable evidence, they 
would appear so wild and extravagant, as to 
go far beyond the bounds of that probability 

* B. Diaz, c. 95. Gomara, Cron. c. 83. Cortes, Relat. 
Ram. iii. p. ^5, 236. Herrera, dec. 2. lib. riii. c. 2, 3. 


which must be preserved even in fictitious nar« 


Montezuma was received in the Spanish Rfceived 
quarters with all the ceremonious respectwhich rtat^S^. 
Cortes had promised. He was attended by his 
own domestics, and served with his usual state. 
His principal officers had free access to him, 
and he carried on every function of govern- 
ment as if he had been at perfect liberty. The 
Spaniards, however, watched him with the 
scrupulous vigilance which was natural in 
guarding such an important prize,* endeavour- 
ing at the same time to sooth and reconcile 
him to his situation, by every external demon- 
stration of regard and attachment. But from 
captive princes the hour of humiliation and 
suffering is never far distant. Qualpopoca, subjected 
his son, and five of the principal officers whq indignitiefl. 
served under him, were brought prisoners to 
the capital, in consequence of the orders which Dec. 4. 
Montezuma had issued. The Emperor gave 
them up to Cortes, that he might inquire into 
the nature of theu* crime, and determine their 
punishment. They were formally tried by a 
Spanisdi court-martial; and though they had 
acted no other part than what became loyal 
subjects and brave men, in obeying the orders 

♦ Sec NoTB LXXXIII. Page 422. 


of their lawful savereign, smd in opposing the 
invaders of their country, they were condemn- 
1519. ed to be burnt alive. The execution of such 
atrocious deeds is seldom long suspended. 
The unhappy victims were instkntly led forth. 
The pile on which they were laid was compos- 
ed of the weapons collected in the royal maga* 
zine for the public defence. An innumerable 
multitude of Mexicans beheld, in sil^oit asto- 
nishment, the double insult offered to the ma- 
jesty of their empire j an officer of distinction 
committed to the flames by the authority of 
strangers, for having done what be owed in 
duty to his natural sovereign ^ and the arms 
provided by the foresight of their ancestors for 
avenging public wrongs, consumed before their 

But these were not the most shocking indig- 
nities which the Mexicans had to bear. The 
Spaniards, convinced that Qualpopoca would 
not have ventured to attack Escalante without 
orders from his master, were not satisfied with 
inflicting vengeance on the instrument em- 
ployed in committing that crime, while the 
author of it escaped with impunity. Just be- 
fore Qualpopoca was led out to sufier, Cortes 
entered the apartment of Montezuma, followed 
by some of his officers, and a soldier carrying a 
pair of fetters ; and approaching the monarch 
with a stem countenance, told him, that as the 


persons who were now to undergo the puninh* *^* 
ment which they merited, had charged him as w«y^»^ 
the cause of the outrage committed, it was i5i9. 
necessary that he likewise should make atone^ 
ment for that guilt ; then turning away abrupt- 
ly, without waiting for a reply, commanded 
the soldiers to clap the fetters on his legs* The 
orders were instantly executed. The discon- 
solate monarch, trained up with an idea that 
his person was sacred and inviolable, and' con- 
sidering this profanation of it as the prelude of 
immediate death, broke out into loud lamenta- 
tions and complaints. His attendants, speech- 
less with horror, fell at his feet, bathing them 
with their tears ; and bearing up the fetters in 
their hands, endeavoured with officious tender- 
ness to lighten their pressure. Nor did their 
grief and despondency abate until Cortes re- 
turned from the execution, and with a cheerful 
countenance ordered the fetters to be taken off. 
A& Montezuma's spirits had sunk with unmanly 
dejection, they now rose into indecent joy; 
and with an unbecoming transition, he passed 
at once from the anguish of despair, to trans- 
ports of gratitude and expressions of fondness 
towards his deliverer. 

Ik those transactions, as represented by the R«w»« of 
Spanish historians, we search in vain foi' the conOuct. 
' qualities which distinguish other parts of Cor- 
tes's conduct. To usurp a jurisdiction which 


BOOK could not belong to a stranger, who assumed 
^1^- ',_j- no higher character than that of an ambassador 
1519. from a foreign prince, and, under colour of it, 
to inflict a capital punishment on men whose 
conduct entitled them to esteem, appears an 
act of barbarous cruelty. To put the monarch 
of a great kingdom in irons, and, after such 
ignominious treatment, suddenly to release him, 
seems to be a display of power no less inconsi- 
derate than wanton. According to the com- 
mon relation, no account can be given either of 
the one action or the other, but that Cortes, 
intoxicated with success, and presuming on the 
ascendant which he had acquired over the 
minds of the Mexicans, thought nothing too 
bold for him to undertake, or too dangerous to 
execute. But, in one view, these proceedings, 
however repugnant to justice and humanity, 
may have flowed from that artful policy which 
regulated every part of Cortes*s behaviour to- 
wards the Mexicans. They had conceived the 
Spaniards to be an order of beings superior to 
men. It was of the utmost consequence to 
cherish this illusion, and to keep up the vene-* 
ration which it inspired. Cortes wished that 
shedding the blood of a Spaniard should be 
deemed the most heinous of all crimes ; and 
nothing appeared better calculated to esta- 
blish this opinion, than to condemn the first 
Mexicans who had ventured to commit it to a 
cruel death, and to oblige their monarch him- 


self to submit to a mortifyiog indignity, as an ^^^ 
expiation for being accessory to a deed so atro* ^,^0^^^ 

The riirour with which Cortes punished the i^^* 

1 1 /» 11.- The power 

unhappy persons who first presumed to lay vio^ wfaich cor. 
lent hands upon his followers, seems according- S"*'^^ 
ly to have made all the impression that he de- 
sired. The spirit of Montezuma was not only 
overawed, but subdued. During six mo^sths 
that Cortes remained in Mexico, the monarch 
continued in the Spanish quarters, with an ap- 
pearance of as entire satisfaction and tranquil* 
lity, as if he had resided there not from con- 
straint, but through choice. His ministers and 
officers attended him as usual. He took cog- 
nizance of all affiiirs ; every order was issued in 
his name. The external aspect of government 
appearing the same, and all its ancient forms 
being scrupulously deserved, the people were 
so little semible of any change, that they obey- 
ed the mandates of their monarch with the 
same submissive reverence as ever. Such was 
the dread which both Montezuma and his sub- 
jects had of the Spaniards, or such the venera- 
tion in which they held them, that no attempt ' 
was made to deliver their sovereign from con- 
finement i and though Cortes, relying on this 

♦ See Note LXXXIV. Page 42S. 





ascendant which he had acquired over their 
minds, permitted him not only to visit his tem- 
ples, but to make hunting excursions beyond 
the lake, a guard of a few Spaniards carried 
with it such a terror as to intimidate the muU 
titude, and secure the captive monarch.* 

Thus, by the fortunate temerity of Cortes i» 
seizing Montezuma, the Spaniards at once ^- 
cured to themselves more extensive authority 
in the Mexican empire than it was possible 
to have acquired in a long course of time by 
open force ; and ^they exercised more absolute 
sway in the name of another than they could 
have done in their own. The arts of polished 
nations, in subjecting such as are less improv- 
ed, have been nearly the same in every period. 
The system of screening a foreign usurpation, 
under the sanction of authority derived from 
the natural rulers of a country ; the device of 
employing the magistrates and forms already 
established as instruments to introduce a new 
dominion, of which we are apt to boast as 
sublime refinements in policy peculiar to the 
present age, were inventions of a more early 
period, and had been tried with success in the 
West, long before they were practised in the 

* Cortes, Relat. p. 996. £. B. Diaz, c. 97, 98, 99. 


Cortes availed himself to the utmost of the 
power which he possessed by being able to 
act in the name of Montezuma. He sent som6 isaoi 
Spaniards, whom he judged best. qualified for he'^w 
such commissions, into different parts of the ^^'^ 
empire, accompanied by persons of distinction, 
whom Montezuma appointed to attend them 
both as guides and protectors. They visited 
most of the provinces, viewed their soil and 
productions, surveyed with particular care the 
districts which yielded gold or silver, pitched 
upon several places as proper stations for fui- 
tare colonies, and endeavoured to prepare the 
minds of the people for submitting to the Spa- 
nish yoke. While they were thus employed, 
Cortes, in the name and by the authority of 
Montezuma, degraded some of the principal 
officers in the empire, whose abilities or inde- 
pendent spirit excited his jealousy, and substi- 
tuted in their place perscms less capable or 
more obsequious. 

One thing still was wanting to complete his 
security. He wished to have such command 
of the lake as mi^t ensure a retreat, if, either 
from levity or disgust, the Mexicans should 
take arms against him, and break down the 
bridges or causeways. This, too, his own ad^ 
dress, and the facility of Montezuma* enabled 
him to accomplish. Having frequently enter- 
tained his prisoner with pompous accounts of 


the Europeafl marine and art of navigation, tie 
awakened his curiosity to see those moving pa- 
i5sa laces, which made theil* way through the water 
without oars. Under pretext of gratifying this 
desire, Cortes persuaded Montezuma to appoint 
some of his subjects to fetch part of the naval 
stores which the Spaniards had deposited at 
Vera Cruz to Mexico, and to employ others in 
cutting down and preparing timber. With 
' their assistance, the Spanish carpenters soon 
completed two brigantines, which afforded a 
frivolous amusement to the monarch, and were 
considered by Cortes as a certain resource, if 
he should be obliged to retire. 

Monte- Encouragsd by SO mafiy instances of the 

sunui ac- 

knowledges mouarch's tame submission to his will, Cortes 
^^^J ventured to put it to a proof still more trying. 
He urged Montezuma to acknowledge himself 
a vassal of the King of Castile, to hdd his crown 
of him as superior, and to subject his dominions 
to the payment of an annual tribute. With this 
requisition, the last and most humbling that can 
be made to one possessed of sovereign autho- 
rity, Montezuma was so obsequious as to com- 
ply. He called together the chief men of his 
empire, and in a solemn harangue, reminding 
them of the traditions and prophecies which 
led them to expect the arrival of a people 
sprung from the same stock with themselves, in 
order to take possession of liie supreme power. 



he declared his belief that the Spaniards were 
,this promised race ; that therefore he recogniz- 
ed the right of their monarch to govern the isVo. 
Mexican empire ; that he would lay his crown 
at his feet, and obey him 9S a tributary. While 
uttering these words, Montezuma discovered 
how deeply he was a£fected in making such a 
sacrifice. Tears and groans frequently inter^ 
rupted his discourse. Overawed and broken 
as his spirit was, it still retained such a sense of 
dig'uity, as to feel that pang which pierces the 
heart of princes when constrained to resign in* 
dependent power. The first mention of such a 
resolution struck the assembly dumb with asto- 
nishment. This was followed by a sudden 
murmur of sorrow, mingled with indigna- 
tion, which indicated some violent erupticm 
of rage to be near at hand. This Cortes fore- 
saw, and seasonably interposed to prevent it, 
by declaring that his master had no intention 
to deprive Montezuma of the royal dignity, 
or to make any innovation upon the con- 
stitution and laws of the Mexican empire. 
This assurance, added to their dread of the 
l^anish power, and to the authority of their 
monarch's example, extorted a reluctant con- 
sent from the assembly.* The act of submis- 
sion and homage was executed with all the for- 

* See Note LXXXV. Page 484. 



SS6 BJsnNmY OF America. 

B<M)K maKttes which the Spaniards were pleased to 
>mm^^ prescribe.* 

The Montezuma, at the desire of Cortes, accom- 

^"ta^^L^ panied this profession of fealty and homage 
JJ^^'^y with a magnificent present to his new sove- 
n»rd8. reign ; and after his example, his subjects 
brought in veiy liberal contributions. The 
Spaniards now collected all the treasure which 
had been either voluntarily bestowed upon 
them at different times by Montezuma, or had 
been extorted from his people under various 
pretexts ; and having melted the gold and sil- 
ver, the value of these, without including jewels 
and ornaments of various kinds, which wefe 
preserved on account of their curious work- 
manship, amounted to six hundred thousand 
pesos. The soldiers were impatient to have it 
divided, and Cortes complied with their desire. 
i^I^^oif ^ ^^ ^^ *^® whole was first set apart as the 
discontent tax due to the King. Another fifth was allot- 
^occasion- ^^ ^^ Cortcs as comouuider in chief. The 
sums advanced by Velasquez, by Cortes, and 
by some of the officers, towards defi*aying the 
expense of fitting out the armament, were then 
deducted. The remainder was divided amoc^ 
the army, including the garrison of Vera Cru2> 

* Cortes, Relat. 238. D. B. Diaz, c. 101. Gomara, 
Cron. c. 92. Henrera, dep. S. lib. 9C. c 4. 




in proportion to their diSkxeot. ranks* Aftcv » ^^^ 
many defsilcations, the share of a priirate man 
did not exceed a hundred pesos. This sum fell 
so far below their sanguine eacpectations» that 
^me soldiers rejected it with scorn, and others 
murmured so loudly at this cruel disiq>poiiit- 
ment of their hopes^ that it required aU thie ad« 
dress of Cortes, and no small estation of his 
liberality, to appease tl^m. The complaints 
of the army were not altogether destitute of 
foiindation. As the crown had contributed 
nothing towards the equifmient or success of 
the armament^ it was not without regtet that 
the scrfdiers beheld it sweep away so great a 
proportion of the treasure purchased by their 
blood and toil. What fell to the share of Uie 
general appeared, according to the ideas of 
wealth in the sixte^ith century, an enormous 
sum* Some of Cortes's £Bivourites had secretly 
appn^riated to their own use seraral omamrat? 
of gold, which neither paid the royal fifth, nor 
were brought into account as part of the com^ 
mon stock* It was, however, so manifestly the 
interest of Cortea at this period to make alarge 
remittance to the King^ that it it highly pro* 
bable those concealments were not of great 

The total ^sum amassed by the Spaniards ^^m 
bears no proportion to the ideas which might ^J^^ 
be formed, either by reflecting on the desK^rip• "»^. . 




BOOK tioM given by historians of the ancient spkii^ 
^^^^.^^ dour of Mexico, or by considering the prodnc- 
15^. lions of its mines in modern times. But anaong 
the aodent Mexicans, gold and silver were not 
tibe standards by which the worth of other 
commcfdities was estimated ; and, destitute of 
the artificial value derived from this cireuufi* 
stance, were no farther in request than as they 
furnished, materials for ornaments and trinkets. 
The^ were either consecrated to the gods in 
their teftiples, or were worn as marks of distinc- 
tion by their princes and some of their most 
eminent chiefi. As the consuniption of the 
precious n^etals was inconsiderable, the de- 
mand for them was not such as to put ieither 
the ingenuity or industry of the Mexicans on 
the stretch, in order to augment their store* 
They were altogether unacquainted with the 
art of working the rich mines with which their 
country abounded. What gold they had was 
gathered in the beds of rivers, native, and 
ripened into a pure metallic state.* The ut- 
ujiost eflfort of their labour in search of it was 
to wash the earth carried down by torrents 
from the mountains, and to pick out the grains 
of gold which subsided ; and even this simple 
operation, according to the report of the p©r. 

* Cortes, Relat, p. 236. F. B. Diaz, c. 102, 103. Go- 
mara, Cron. c.90. 

X£3T0llT OF AMERICA. 339 

sons whom Cortes appointed to survey the book 
provinces where there was a prospect of finding s^-y^ 
mines, they performed very unskilfully.* From 1520. 
all those causes, the whole mass of gold in pos- 
session of the Mexicans was not great. As 
silver is rarely found pure, and the Mexicail 
art was too rude to conduct the process for 
refining it in a proper manner, the quantity of 
this metal was still less considerable.t Thus, 
though the Spaniards had exerted all the power 
which they possessed in Mexico, and often with 
indecent rapacity, in order to gratify their pre-* 
dominant passion, and though Montezuma had 
fondly exhausted his treasures, in hopes of 
satiating their thirst for gold, the product of 
both, which probably included a great part of 
the bullion in the empire, did not rise in value 
above what has been mentioned^ 

But however pliant Montezuma might be in Mcmteitt. 
Other matters, with respect to one pomt he was bie with 
mflexible. Though Cortes often urged him, "^^^^ 
with the importunate zeal of a missionary, to 
renounce his false gods, and to embrace the 
Christian faith, he always rejected the propo- 
sition with horror. Superstition, among the 
Mexicans, was formed into such a regular and 

* B. Diaz, c. 103. t Herrera, dec. 2. lib. ix. c. 4. 

t See Note LXXXVI. Page 425. 


BOOK complete system, that its institDtiona nfttutiiUy 
^^^^ ^ took J&at hold of the mind ; and whde the rude 
1590- tribes in other parts of America were, easily 
induced to relinquish a few notipna and ritesi 
so loose and arbitrary as hardly to merit the 
name of a public reUgion^ the Mexicans ad- 
Wed tenaciously to their mode of worship, 
which,, however barii>arotts, was accompanied 
with such order and solemnity as to render it 
an object of the highest veneration^ Cortes^ 
finding all his attempts ineffectual to shake the 
constancy of Montezuma^ was so much ea- 
raged at his obstinacy, that in a transport of 
aeal he led out his soldiers, to throw down the 
idols in the great temple by force* But the 
priests taking arms in defence of their altsrsi 
and the people crowding with great ardour to 
support them, Cortes's prudence overruled hk 
zeal, and induced him to desist from his rash 
attempt, after dislodging the idols &am one of 
the shrines, and placing in their stead aa image 
of the Virgin Mary.* 

2?M^r^ From that moment the Mexicans, w1k> had 

cvis to de- permitted the imprisonment of their sovereign, 

spraurds. and sufl^red the exactions of strangers without 

a Juggle, begftn to meditate how they miglrt 

expel or destroy the Spaniards, and thought 

♦ See Note LXXXVIL Paje 425. 



themsdves called upon to avenge tfadr insulted 
deities. The priests and leading men held 
frequent ooosuhations with Montezuma for i^ 
this purpose. But as it might prove fatal to 
the captive monarch to attempt either the one 
or the other by violence, he was willing to try 
more gentle means. Having called Cortes 
into his presence, he observed, that now, as 
all the purposes of his embassy were fully ac- 
complished, the gods had declared their will, 
and the people signified their desire, that he 
and his fcdlowens should instantly depart out 
of the empire. With this he required them 
to comply, or unavoidable destruction would 
fall suddenly on their heads. The tenour of 
this unexpected requisition, as well as the de* 
termined tone in which it was uttered, left 
Cortes no room to doubt that it was the result 
of some deep scheme concerted between Mon<- 
tezuma and his subjects. He quickly per- 
ceived, that he might derive more advant^^ 
from a seeming compliance with the monarch's 
mdination, than from an ill-timed attempt 
to change or to oppose it ; and replied, with 
great composure, that he had already begun 
to prepare for returning to his own country ; 
but as he had destroyed the vessels in which 
he arrived, some time was requisite.for buikU 
ing other ships. This appeared reasonable. 
A number of Mexicans were sent to Vera 
Cruz to cut down timber, and some Spanish 



^r|>enters wer^ appointed to superintend the 
work. Cortes flattered himself, that during 
159a this interval he might either f&id means to 
avert the threatened danger, or receive snch 
reinforcements as would enable him to despise 

AMwty Almost nine months were elapsed since 

of Cortes. Portocarrcro and Montejo had sailed with his 
• ' despatches to Spaing and he daily expected 

their return with a confirmation of his autho- 
rity from the King. Without this, his con- 
dition was insecure and precarious } and after 
all the great things which he had don^ at 
might be his doom to bear the name and suffer 
the punishment of a traitor. Rapid and ex* 
tensive as his progress had been, he could not 
hope to complete the reduction of a great em* 
pire with so small a body of men, which by 
this time diseases of various kinds had consider- 
ably thinned ; nor could he apply for recruits 
to the Spanish settlements in the islands, until 
he received the royal approbation of his pro-^ 

^nieamirai While he remained in this cruel situation, 

of a new • t i . • v 

amament, auxious about wbat was past, uncertain witb 
respect to the future, and, by the late declai' 
ration of Montezuma, oppressed with a new 
addition of cares, a Mexican courier arrived 
with an account of some ships having appear- 


ed on die jcoast. Cortes, with fond credulity, 
imaginii^ that his meflsaagers were returned 
from Spain, aiid that the completion of all his ^520. 
.wishes and hopes was at hand, imparted the 
glad .tidings to his companions, who. received 
them with transports of mutual gratulation. 
Their joy was not of long continuance. »A 
courier from Sandoval, ^wbom Cortes had ap- 
pointed to succeed Escalante in command at 
Vera Cruz, brought certain information that * 

the armament was fitted out by Velasquez, 
governor of Cuba, and instead of bringing the 
aid which they expected, threatened them with 
immediate destructicoi. 

The motives which prompted Velasquez to fittedoutby 
this violMit measure are obvious. Frokn the 
circumstances of Cortes's departure, it was im<* 
possible not to suspect his intention of throw- 
ing off all dependance upon him. His neglect- 
ing to transmit any account of his operations 
to Cuba, strengthened this suspicion, which 
was at last confirmed beyond doubt, by the in- 
discretion of the bfiicers whom Cortes sent to 
Spain. They, from some motive which is not 
cleariy explained by the contemporary histo- 
rians, touched at the island of Cuba, contrary 
to the peremptory orders of their general.* 

* B. Diaz, c. 54, 55. Herrera, dec, 2. lib. v. c. 14. Go- 
mara, Croii.c.96. 


BOOK By this memi Velasquez not only leamed that 
\^/ a^ Cortes and his followers, after foroMdly re- 
15M. noundng all connexion ^ith him, bad eefca^ 
blished aa independent colony in New Spaio, 
and were soliciting the King to confinn their 
proceedings by his authority; but he obtain* 
ed particular informaticm concerning the opu- 
lence of the country, the valuable presents 
which Cortes had received, and the inviting 
prospects of success that opened to his view. 
Every passion which can agitate an ambitious 
mind ; shame, at having been bo grossly over- 
reached ; indignation, st being betrayed by 
the man whom he had selected as d)e oia§ed; 
of his favour and confidence ; grief, for having 
wasted hb fortune to: aggrandize an enemy ; 
and despair of recovering so fair an opportu* 
nity of establishing bis £ime and extemUng bis 
power, now raged in the bosom of Velasquez. 
AU these, with united ibtce, elicited him to 
make an extraordinary eflbrt, in order to be 
avenged on the author of his wrongs, and to 
"wrest from him his usurped authority and con- 
quests. Nor did he want the appeariince of a 
good title to justify such' an attempt* The 
^ent whom he sent to Spain with an account 
of Orijalva's voyage, had met with a most fa* 
vourable reception ; and from the specimens 
which he produced, such high expectations 
were formed concerning the opulence of New 
Spain, that Velasquez was authorized to pro- 


tocate the discovery of the country, and ap- book 
pmntcd governor of it during life, with more ^^>r^w 
extensive power and privileges than ^had beett ^^^ 
granted to any adventurer from the time df Ov 
lumbus.* Elated by this distinguishing mark 
of favour, and warranted to consider Cortes 
not only as intruding upon his jurisdiction, but 
as disobedient to the royal mandate, he deter- 
mined to ^vindicate his own rights, and the 
honour of his sovereign, by force of arms.t 
His ardour in carrying on his preparations was "^^^^ 
such as might have been expected from the ofNarvae*, 
violence of the passions with which he was 
animated; and in a short time an armament 
was completed, consisting of eighteen ships, 
which had on board fourscore horsemen, eight 
hundred foot soldiers, of which eighty were 
musketeers, and an hundred and twenty cross- 
bow men, together with a train of twelve pieces 
of cannon. As Velasquez's experience oi^ the 
fatal consequence of committing to another 
what he ought to have executed himself, bad 
not rendered him more enterprising, he vested 
the command of this formidable body, which, 
in the infancy of the Spanish power in Ame- 
rica, merits the appellation of an army, in 
Pampbilo de Narvaez, with instructions to 

* Herrera, dec. 2* lib* iii. c. 11. 
t See Note LXXX VIII. Page 428. 


seize Cortjts and bis principal officers, to send 
them prisoners to him, and then to complete 
159a the discovery and conquest of the country in 
his name. 




Note I. p. 4'. 

Xh£ height of the most elevated point in the Pyrer 
nees is, according to M. Cassini, six thousand six 
hundred and forty-six feet. The height of the moun- 
tain Giemmi, in the canton of Berne, is ten thousand 
one hundred and ten feet. The height of the Peak of 
Teneriffe, according to the measuronent of P. Feuille, 
is thirteen thousand one hundred and serenty-eight feet« 
The height of Chimborazzo, the most elevated point of 
the Andes, is twenty thousand two hundred and eighty 
feet; no less than seven thousand one hundred and two 
feet above th&highest mountain in the ancient continent. 
Voyf^ de D. Juan Ulloa; Observations Astron. et 
Physiq. torn. ii. p. 114. The line of congelation on 
Chimborazzo, or that part of the mountain which is 
covered perpetually with snow, is nd less than. two 
thousand four hundred feet from its summit PtevoU 
Hist. Gener. des Voyages, vol. xiii^ p. 636. 


Note IL p. 4^ 

As a particular description makes a stronger impres- 
sion than general assertiori% I shall give one of Rio de 
la Plata by an eye-witness, P. Cattaneo, a Modenese 
Jesuit, who landed at Buenos Ayres in 1749, and thus 
represents what he felt when such new objects were 
first presented to his view. " While I resided in Eu- 
rope, and read in books of history or geography that 
the mouth of the river de la Plata was an hundred and 
fifty miles in breadth, I considered it as an exaggera- 
tion, because in this hemisphere we have no example 
of such vast rivers. When I approached its moutb, I 
had the most vehement desire to ascertain the truth 
with my own eyes ; and I have found the matter to be 
exactly as it was represented. This I deduce parti- 
cularly from one circumstance : When we took oar 
departure fix>m Monte- Video, a fort situated^ more 
dian a hundred mfiles from the moutb of the river, and 
where its breadth is cmisiderably diminished, we sailed 
a complete day before we discovered th^ land on the 
opposite bank of die. river ; and when we were in the 
*middle of tlie channel, we could not discern land on 
eidier side., and saw nothing but the sky and water, as 
if we had bewi in some great ocean. Indeed we' 
should have taken it to be sea, if the fresh water of the 
river, which was turbid like the Po, had not satisfied 
us that it was a river. Moreover, at Bueios Ayres, 
another hundred miles up the river, and where it h 
still much narrower, it is not <mly imposrible to dis- 
cern the opposite coast, which is indeed very low and 
flat, but one cannot perceive the houses <»* the tops of 
the steeples in the Portuguese settlemi^nt at Colonia 


9U the other side of the river/' Lettera prima, pub- 
lished by Muratori, II Christianesimo Felicd, &c. i. 
p. 257- 

Note IIL p. 8. 

NxwFouiniLAND» part of Nova Scotia, and Canada, 
are the countries which lie in the same parallel of lati* 
tnde with the kingdom of France; and in every part 
of these the water of the rivers is firozen daring winter 
to the thickness of several feet; the earth is ^vered 
with snow as deep; almost all the birds fly, during 
that season, from a climate where they could not live. 
The country of the Esquimaux, part of Labrador, and 
the oonntrieft on the south of Hudson's Bay, are in the 
same parallel with Great Britain; and yet in all these 
the cold is so intense, that even the industry of Euro-* 
peafts has not attempted cultivation. 

Note IV. p. II. 

AcosTA IS the first philosopher, as fisur a« I know, 
who endeavoured to account for the different degrees 
of heat in the old and new continents, by the agency 
of the winds which blow in each. Hist. Moaral. Sec. 
Ub. iu aadciii. M. de Buffon adofrts this theory, and 
has not only improved it by new observations, but has 
employed his amamog powerit of descriptive dioquence 
in embdlishing and placing it in the most striking 
lig^t. Some remarks may be added, which t^id to ^ 
illustrate moate fully a doctrine of much importance 


in every inquiry concerning the temperature of Yarictt 

Whek a cold wind blows over land^ it must in b 
passage rob the surface of some of its beat. B/ 
means of this, the coldness of the wind is abated 
But if it continue to blow in the same directioiiy it 
will come, by degrees, to pass over a'surfiM^e nbeadj 
cooled, and will suffer no longer any abatemeat of 
its own keenness. Thus, as it adyances over a large 
tract of land, it brings on all the severity of intoise 

> Let the same wind blow over aa extensive and 
deep sea; the superficial water must be immediately 
cooled to a certain degree, and the wind piopoitionaUy 
warmed. But the superficial and colder water becom- 
ing specifically heavier than the warmer water bdow 
it, descends; what is warmer supplies its plao^ wfaidi, 
as it comes to be cooled in its turn, continues to warn 
the air which passes over it, or to diminish its cold. 
This change of the superficial water and saocesave 
ascent of that which is warmer, and the consequent 
successive abatem^it of coldness in the air, is aided 
by the agitation caused in the sea by the mechanical 
action of the wind, and also by the motion of the tides. 
, This will go on, and the rigour of the wind will con- 
tinue to diminish, until the whole water is so fiss cooled 
that the water on the sur&ce is no longer removed (rem 
the action of the wind, fast enough to hinder it from 
being arrested by^frost. Whenever the sur&ce freezes, 
the wind is no longer wanped by the water from be- 
low, jEund it goes on with undiminished cold. 


' FnoM those principles may be explained tht severity 
of winter frosts in extensive continents ; their mildness 
in small islands; and the superior rigour of winter in 
those parts of North America with which w^ are best 
acquainted. In the north-west parts of Europe, the 
severity of winter is mitigated by t^e west winds, Which 
usually blow in the months of November, December, 
and part of January. ' • - 

On the other hand, when a warm wind blows over 
land, it heats the surface, which must therefore cease 
to abate the fervour of the wind. But the same wind 
blowing over water, agitates it, brings up the colder 
water from below, and thus is continually losing some^ 
what of its own heat» 

: But the great power of the sea to. mitigate the heat 
of the wind or air passing over it, proceeds from the 
following circumstance ; — that on account of the trans- 
parency of the sea, its surface cannot be heated to a 
great d^ree by the sun's rays ; whereas the ground, 
subjected to their influence, very soon acquires great 
heat. When, therefore, the wind blows over a torrid 
continent, it is soon raised to a heat almost intolerable ; 
but during its passage over an extensive ooean, it is 
gradually cooled; so that on its arrival at the farthest 
shore, it is again fit for respiration. 

Those principles will account for the sultry heats 
of large continents in the torrid zone; for the mild 
climate of islands in the same latitude; and for the 
superior warmth in summer which large continents, 
situated in the temperate or colder zones of the earth, 
enjoy, when compared with that of islands. Hie 



keat of n climate dqpends not ooly upon the inune- 
diate effect of the sun's rays, but on ihm continued 
operation on the effect which they have fbnnerly 
produced^ and which remains for some time in the 
ground. This is the reason why the day is warmert 
about two in the afternoon, the summer warmest about 
the middle of July, and the winter cohiest about the 
ttiddle of January. 

The forests which cover America, and hinder the 
sunbeams from heating the ground, are a great cauae 
of the temperate climate in the equatorial parts. The 
ground not being heated, cannot heat the air; and 
the leaves, which receive the rays intercepted from the 
ground, have not a mass of matter sufficient to absorb 
heat enough for this purpose. Besides, it is a known 
fiict, that the vegetative power of a plant occaaions a 
perspiration from the leaves in proportion to the heat 
to which th^ are exposed ; and, from the nature of 
eviqporation, this perspiration produces a cold in the 
leaf proportional to the persfHration. Thus the eBect 
of the leaf in heating the air in contact with it, ia 
prodigiously diminished. For those observation^ 
which vthrow much additional light on this curious 
subject, I am indebted to my ingenious friend, Mr 
JRobison, professor of natural philosophy in the uni* 
versity of Edinburgh. 

NoteV.|>. 11. 

Thd climate of Brasil has been described by two 
eminent naturalists, Piso and Margrave, who observed 
U with a philosophical accuracy for which we search 


in Tain in the accounts of many other provinces in 
America. Both represent it as temperate and mild, 
when compared with the climate ef Africa. They 
ascribe this chiefly to the refreshing wind which blowa 
continually from the sea* The air is not only cool,, 
but ehilly through the night, in so much that the 
liatives kindle fires every evening in their huts ; Piso 
de Medicina Brasiliensi, lib. i. p. 1. &c. Margravius 
Hifitor. Rerum Natural. Brasilia^, lib. viii. c. 3. p. 264l 
Nieuhc^, who resided long in Brasil, confirms their 
descripti<Mv; Churchill's Collection, vol. ii. p. 26. 
Gumillay n^o wi^ a missionary many years among 
the Indians upon the river Orinoco, gives a similar 
descrq)tiim of the temperature of the climate there ; 
Hist, de rOrenoque, tom. i. p. 26. P. Acugna felt a 
very considerable d^ree of cold in the countries on 
the banks of the river An^azons ; Relat. vol. ii. p. 56. 
M. Biety who lived a considerable time in Cayenne, 
gives a similar account of the temperature of that cli- 
mate, and ascribes it to the same cause; Voyage de 
la France £quinox, p. 330. Nothing can be more- 
difierent from these descriptions than that of the burn- 
ing heat of the African coast given by Mv Adanson ; 
Voyage to Senegal, passim*. 

Note VI. p. 13. 

Two Frenrfi frigates were sent upon a voyage of 
discovery in the year 1739. In latitude 44° south, 
th^ began to feel a considerable degree of cold. In 
latitude 48% they met with islands of floating ice; 
Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, tomt ii. 
p. 2569 &c. Dr Halley fell in with ice in latitude 59° ; 

VOL^.n. z 

S54 irOtfiS AK0 ItLUdlr&ATIdN*. 

Id. torn. i. p. 47. Commodore Byron, when o>ii the 
eoai^ of Patagonia^ latitude 50^ SS' fioufh, or the AU 
teenth of December, which i« midisiimmer in that part 
of the globe, the twenty-lirst of December being the 
longest day there, eomp^#es the climate to that of Eng*' 
tand in the middle of winter; Voyages by Hawkes- 
worth, i. Q5. Mr Banks havbig knded on Terra del 
Fuego, in the Bay of Good Success^ ktitade 55% on 
the sixteenth of January, which correspond to the 
month of July in our hemisphere, two of his atten- 
dants died in one night of extreme cold, and all the 
party were in the most imminent dupger of perishing; 
Id. ii. 51 9 32, "By the fourteenth of March, eorres^ 
ponding to September in our hemisphere, winter was 
set in with rigour, atid the mountains were covered 
with snow ; Ibid. 72. Captain Cook, in his t^o jage 
towards the South Pole, furnishes new and striJdng 
instances of the extraordinary predominance of coid 
in this region of the globe. ** Who would bare 
thought (says he) that an island of no greater extent 
than seventy leagues in circuit, Mtuated between the 
latitude of 54^ and SS"^, should, iifthe very height of 
summer, be in a manner wholly covered, many fathoms 
deep, with frozen snow; but more especially the S. W. 
coast? The very summits of the lofty mountains were 
cased with snow and ice; but the quantity that lay in 
the valleys is incredible^ and at the bottom of the 
bays the coast was terminated by a wall of ice of con- 
siderable height;'* Vol* iL p. 217. 

In some places of th^ ancient contineaat, an extra* 
ordinary degree of cold prevails in very low latitudes* 
Mr Bogle, in his embassy to the court of the DeW 
Lama, passed the winter of the year 1774r at Cham- 


aanping^ in latitude Sl"^ S9' N. He ofteA foond the 
thernKxmeter in his room twenty-nine degrees under 
the freezipg point by Fahrenheit's scale ; and in the 
middle of April the standing waters w«re all frozen, 
and heary showers of snow frequently &U. The extra- 
ordinary elevation of the country seems to be the cause 
of this excessire cold. In travelling from Indostan to 
Thibet, the ascent to the summk of the Boutan moun* 
tains is very great, but the descent on the other side ia 
not in equal proportion. The kingdom of Thibet 
is an elevated region, extiremely bare and desolate; 
Account of Thibet, by Mr Stewart, read in the Royal 
Society, p. 7« The extraordinary ccdd in low lati- 
tudes in America cannot be accounted for by the 
same cause. Those regions are not remarkable for 
elevation. Some of them are countries depressed and 

The most obvious and probable cause of the superior 
degree of cold towards the southern extranity of Ame-' 
rica, seems to be the form of the continent there. Its 
breadth graduidly decreases as it stretches from St 
Antonio southwards, and from the Bay of St Julian to 
the Straits of Magellan its dimensions are much con* 
tracted. On the east and west sides it is washed by 
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. From its southern 
point it is probable that a great extent of sea, without 
any c(msidenible tract of land, reaches to the Antarctic 
pole. In whichever of these directions the wind blows, 
it is cooled before it approaches the Magellanic r^ona 
by passii^ over a vast body of water ; nor is the land 
there of such extent, that it can recover any consider* 
able degree of heat in its progress over it. These cir- 
cumstances concur in rendering the temperature cf 


the air in diis district of America more similar to that 
of an insular, than to that of a continental climate, 
and hinder it from acquiring the same degree of sum- 
mer heat with places in Europe and Asia in a corres- 
ponding northern latitude^ The north wind is the 
only one that reaches this part of America, after blow- 
ing over a great continent. But from an attentive 
survey of its position, this will be found to hare a ten- 
dency rather to diminish than augment the degree of 
heatv The southern extremity of America is properly 
the termination of the immense ridge of die Ande% 
which stretches* nearly in a direct line from north to 
south, through the whole extent of the continent The 
most sultry regions in South America, Guiana, Brasi/^ 
Paraguay, and Tucuman, lie many degrees to the east 
of the Magellanic regions. The level country of Peru^ 
which enjoys the tropical heats, is situated consider- 
ably to the west of them. The north wind then, 
though it blows over land, does not bring to the 
southern extremity of America an increase of heat 
collected in its passage over torrid r^ions; but before 
it arrives there, it must have swept along the summits 
of the Andes, and comes impregnated with the cold of 
that frozen region* 

Though it be now demonstrated that there is no 
southern continent in that region of the globe which 
it was supposed to occupy, it appears to be certain 
from Captain Cook's discoveries, that there is a large 
tract of land near the soulh pole^ which is the source 
of most of the ice spread over the vast Southern Ocean ; 
Vol. ii. p. 2S0. 2S9, &c. Whether the influence of 
this remote frozen continent may reach the southern 


extremity of America, and a£fect its climate, is jin in- 
quiry not unworthy of attention* 

Note VIL p. 16. 

M. CoNDAMiKE is one of the latestand most accao* 
rate observers of the Ulterior state of South' America. 
^< After desoMiding &om the Andes, (says he)^ one be- 
holds a vast and uniform prospect of water and verdure, 
'^ and nothing more. One treads upon the' earth, but 
does not -see it; as it is so entirely covered with luxu- 
riant plants, weeds, and shrubs, that it would require 
a considerable degree of labour to clear it for the space 
of a foot ;" Relation abreg^ d'tm Voyage, &c. p. 48. 
One of the singularities in the forests is a sort of osiers, 
or withes, called bejucosbj the Spaniards, Uanes by the 
French, and nibbes by the Indians, which are .usually 
employed as ropes in America. This is one of the 
parasitical plants, which twists about the trees it meets 
with, and rising above their highest branches, its ten- 
drils descend perpendicularly, strike into the ground, 
take root, rise up around another tree^ and thus mount 
and descend ^temately. Other tendrils are carried 
obliquely by the wind, or some ^accident, and form a 
confusion of interwoven cordage, which resembles the 
rigging of a ship ; Bancroft, Nat Hist, of Guiana, 
99. These withes are often as thick as the arm of a 
man ; lb. p. 75. M. Bouguer's account of the fm'ests 
in Peru, perfectly resembles this description^ Voyage 
au Peru, p. 16. Oviedo gives a similar description of 
the forests in other parts of America-; Hist. lib. ix. 
p. 144. D. The country of the Moxos is so much 
•verflowedf - that they are obliged to reside on the 


flummit of soine rku^ groond during some part of 
the year, and have no communication with their oons'' 
trymeo at any distance ; Lettres Edifiantes, torn. x. 
p. 187. Garcia gives a full and just description of the 
rivers, lakes, woods, and marshes, in those countries of 
America which lie between the tropics ; Origan de los 
Indies, lib. iL c« 5. {4, 5. The incredible hardships 
to which Gonzalez Pizano waft exposed in attempting 
to march into die country to the east of . the Andesy 
omvey a very striking idea nf that part of Adu^rica in 
its original vncnltivaied state; GarciL de la Vega, 
Royal. Conuaent. of Fern, part ii* book iii. c. 2'-«^. 

Note VIIL p. 19. 

The animals of Ameriea seem not feo have been 
always of a siate inferior to those in other <]uarters <^ 
the globe. From antlara of the moosendeer whidi 
have been found in America, it appears to have been 
an animal of great size. Near the banks of the Ohio^ 
a considerable number of bones of an immei»e magni- 
tiftde hav^e beoi found. The place where this discovery 
has been made Hes about one hundred and ninety miles 
below the junction^ of the river Scioto with the Ohio. 
It is about four miles distant from the banks of the 
latter, on the aide of the marsh called the Sak Lidc. 
The bonea He in vast quantities about five or six feet 
under ground, and the stratum is visible in the bank 
on the edge of the Lick; Jomnal &f Colonel George 
Crt^lan^ MS. penes me. This spot seems to be acoct- 
rately laid down by Evans in his map. These bones 
must have belonged to animals of enormous bulk; and 
naturalists being acquainted with no liraig creatare of 



such size) were at first inclined to think that they were 
mineral substances. Upon reoeiving a greater num- 
ber of specimens, and after inspecting them more nar- 
cowly, they npre now allowed to be the bon^s of an 
unimaL As the eleptemt i^ the largest known qua- 
^uped, and the tusks whic^ were found nearly re- 
seaabledy both in fonn and quality, the tusks of an 
elq^hant) it was conduded that the ^ar^cas^ deposited 
on the Ohio ware of that species. But IDr Hunter, 
Gf» df (the persiHis of our age b^st qualified tp decide 
with respect to Ihis povat, hailing accurately ewmined 
several pmrcels of tusksf and grinders^ 4Uid jaw«4Kmes, 
aent from the C^io to London, gives it as bis opmcoi, 
4|akal^ tjiey did not beloi^ to an elephant, but to some 
imgs caitdivorous animal of an unknown ^)eci«s ; Phil. 
Toaasact. toI. Iviii. p^ Si. Bones of the same l^nd, 
tend as -rediarkaible lor their aise, have been found Aeiur 
ihe mouths of tbe great rivers Qby, Jenifseia, and 
L^ia» in IKbena ; Strattrenbtf^f DescripUfm t^Norih 
mnd East Parts ^Europe aHd Asia^ .p. M2, .&c The 
elephant seems to be GCtnfined in his range io ithe (tor- 
rid zcme, and never multiplies beyond it. In jmoh 
fooid regions as those ibcwdering on ike f!roBen.8cK,ilie 
could not live. The existence of such ki^ge' ailimal^ 
in America might open a wide field for oonfectiihe. 
The more we contemplate the face of nature, and con« 
sider the variety of her productions, the more we must 
be satisfied, that astonishing changes have been made 
in the terraqueous globe by convulsions and revolu- 
tions, of which no aeooimt is .preserved in history. 


Note IX. p. 20. 

• This degeneracy of the domestic European animals 
in America may be imputed to «ome of tkese causes. 
In the Spanish settlements, which are situated either 
within ihe torrid zone, or in countries bordering upon 
it, die increase of heat, and diversity of food, prevent 
sheep and homed- cattle from attaining the same size 
as in Europe. They seldom become so &t, and tlieir 
flesh is not so juicy, or of such delicate flavour. In 
North America, where the climate* is more favour- 
able, and similar to that of Europe^'^the quality x)f the 
grasses which spring op naturally in their pasture- 
grounds is not good; Mitchell, p. 161, Agriculture 
is- still so much in its infancy, that arti6cial food for 
cattle is not raised in any quantity. During a winter, 
long in many provinces, and rigorous in all, no proper 
€are is taken of theirt^attle. The general treatment 
of their horses and homed cattle is injudicious and 
iiArah in all the EngUsh colcmies. These circumstan- 

. ecu contribute more, perhaps, than any thing peculiar 
in the quality of thedimate^ to the degeneracy of breed 

j|n. the horses, cows, and she^, of many of the North 

. )Ahierican provinces^ 

' Note X. p. 21. 

In the year 1518, the island of Hispaniola was 
afflicted with a dreadful visitation of those destructive 
insects, the particulars of which Herrera describes, 
and mentions a singular instance of the superstition of 
the Spanish planters. After trying various methods 


•of extenninatijDg the ants, thej resolved to implore 
IM'otection of the saints; but as the calamity was new, 
"they were at a loss to find out the saint who cotild 
give them the most effectual aid. They cast lots in 
order to discov^ the patron whom they should invoke. 
The lots decided in favour of St Saturninus. They 
celebrated his festival with great solemnity, and im- 
mediately, adds the historian, the calamity began to 
abate; Herrera, dec. 2. lib.iii. c. 15. p. 107. 

Note XL p. 24. 

The author of Recherches Philosophiques sur les 
Americains, supposes this difference in heat to be equal 
to twelve degrees, and that a place thirty degrees from 
the equator in the old continent is as warm as one 
situated eighteen degrees from it in America, torn. i. 
p. 1 1 . Dr Mitchell,' after observations carried on dur- 
ing thirty years, contends that the difference is equal to 
fourteen or fifteen degrees of latitude ; Present State, 
fcc. p. 257. 

NoteXII. p. 24. 

January Sd, 1765, Mr Bertram, near the head of 
St John's river, in East Florida, observed a frost so 
intense, that in one night the ground was frozen an 
inch thick upon the banks of the river. The limes, 
citrons, and banana trees, at St Augustin, were de- 
.'Stroyed ; Bertram's Journal, p. 20. Other instances 
of the extraordinary operations of cold in the southern 
provinces of Morth America, are collected by Dr 


Mitchell; Present State, p. 206, &c. Fdomaij 7th, 
1747, the froBt at Charlestown was so intense, that a 
{iers^n having 'Carried tivo quajrt battles of hot water 
to bed, in the monns^ they were split to pieces, and 
jthe water converted into solid hmp^ of ice. In a 
litchen, where lliere was a fire, the water in ajar, in 
whidh there was m large live ed$ was froisen to the 
bottom* Almost all the (grange and oUvie fa^eos w&ce 
destroyed; I>escripU]On of South Carodioa, Svo. liwd. 

Note XIII. p. 25. 

A utMAMKABhE instance of this occurs in Dutch 
•Guiana, a oountry everywhere level, and so low, that 
during the rainy seasons it i» usually coveited with 
wceter near two feet in height llbis rcnd^s Ae soil 
3o rich, that on the aurface^ for twelve niches in di^th, 
it is a stntufli cipet&ct joianure, and as such has been 
transported to Barbadoes. On the banks of the Ease- 
quebo, thirty crops of ratan canes have b^en raised 
successively ; whereas in the West-Indian islands not 
more than two is ever expected from the richest land. 
The expedients by which the planters endeavour to 
diminish this excessive fertility of soil are various; 
Bancroft, Nat. Hiat. ofGaiiana, p. JO, &c. 

Note XIV. p. S9. 

MviXEB seems to h|ive believed, without sufficient 
evidence, that the Cape had been doubled^ tc»n. i. 
p. 11, &c.; and the Imperial Academy of St Peters- 


burgli givie sbme countenance to it, by the manner in 
which Tschukaiskoi*nos$ is laid down m tibeir charts. 
But i am assured, from undoubted authority, that no 
Russian vessel has ever saUed round that cape; and 
as the country of Tschuiki is not subject to the Rns* 
sian ^mpine, it is very imperfectly known. 

Note XV. p. 42. 

Were this the place £}r entering into a long and 
intricate geographical disquisition, many curious ob- 
servations might arise from ccmiparkig the accounts of 
the two Russian voyages and the charts of their respec- 
tive navigations. One remark is applicable to both. 
We cannot rely with absolute certainty on the position 
which they assign to several of the plac^ whidi they 
visited. The weather was so extremely foggy, that 
1h^ seldom saw the sun or stars ; and the position of 
the islands and supposed continents was commonly 
d^ermined by reckoning, not by observation. Belui 
ring and Tschirikow proceeded much farther towards 
the east than Kraiitzin. 'Die land discovered by 
Behring, which he imagined to be part of the Ame- 
rican oontijient, is in the 236th degree of longitude 
from th« first meridian in the Isle of Ferro, and in 58^ 
28'* of latitude. Tsdiirikow oame upon the same coast 
in longit. 241% latit. 86''; MuUer, i. 248, 249. The 
former must have ad^^nced BO degrees from l:fae Port . 
of Petropawlowski, from which he took his departure, 
and ^t^ latter 65 degrees. But from the chart of 
Krenitan's voyage, it appeals th«t he did not sail 
farther towards the east dian the 208th degree, and 
•nly 32 degrees from Petropawlowski. In 1741, Beh 


ring and Tschirikow, both in going aild returhtng, 
held a course which was mostly to the south of that 
chain of islands which they discovered ; and observing 
the mountainous and rugged aspect of the head*-lands 
which they descried towards the north, they supposed 
them to be promontories belonging to some part of the 
American continent, which, as they fancied, stretched 
as &r south as the latitude 56. In this manner they 
are laid down in the chart published by MuUer, and 
likewise in a manuscript chart drawn by a mate of 
Behring's ship, communicated to me by Mr Professor 
Robison. But in 1769 Krenitzin, after wintering in 
the island Alaxa, stood so far towards the north in his 
return, that his course lay through the middle of what 
Behring and Tschirikow had supposed to be a conti- 
nent, which he found to be an open sea; and that 
they had mistaken rocky isles for the head-lands of a 
continent It is probable, that the countries disco- 
vered in 1741, towards the east, do not belong to the 
American continent, but are only a continuation of 
the chain of islands. The number of volcanoes in this 
region of the globe is remarkable. There are several 
in Kamtchatka, and not oAe of the islands, great or 
small, as far as the Russian navigation extends, is 
without them. Many are actually burning, and the 
mountains in all bear marks of having been once in a 
state of eruption. Were I disposed to admit such 
conjectures as have found place in other inquiries con- 
cerning the peopling of America^ I might suppose that 
this part of the earth having manifestly suffered vio- 
lent convulsions from earthquakes and volcanoes, an 
isthmus, which, may have formerly united Asia to 
America, has been broken, and formed into a cluster 
49f islands by die $hock; 


It is singular, that at the very time the I^ussian 
nayigators were attempting to make discoveries in. the 
north-west of America, the Spaniards were prose- 
cuting the same design from another quarter. In 
1769, two small vessels sailed from Loretto in Cali- 
fornia to explore the. coasts of the country to the north 
of that peninsula. They advanced no farther than the 
port of Monte- Rey in latitude 36^ But, in several 
successive expeditions fitted out from the port of St 
Bias in New Galicia, the Spaniards have advanced as 
far as the latitude 58 ; Gazeta de Madrid^ March 19.. 
and May 14. 1776. But as the journals of those voy- 
ages have not yet been published, I cannot compare 
their progress with that of the Russians, or shew how 
near the navigators of the two nations have approadi- 
ed to each other. It is to be hoped, that the enlight^ 
ened minister who has now the direction of American 
affairs in Spain, will not withhold this information 
from the public. 

Note XVI. p. 4^. 

Our knowledge of the vicinity of the two continents^ 
of Asia and America, which'was very imperfect when 
I published the History of America in. the year 1777, 
is now.cqoEnplete. Mr Coxe's Accomit.of the .Russian 
Discoveries between Asia asid J^mGns^ {jrinted in the 
year 1780, contains mahy jcurious and important facts 
with respect to the various attempts of the Russians 
to open a communication with the New World; ; The 
history of the great Voyage of Discovery, begun by 
Captain Cook in 1776, and completed by Captains 


Qerk and Gore, published in the year ITSO^ commu- 
nicates all the information that the curiosity of man- 
kind could desire with regard to this subject. 

At my request, my friend Mr Playfair, Professor 
of Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh, has 
compared the narratiye and charts of those iilustrioas 
navigators, with the more imperfect relations and maps 
of the Russians. The result of this comparison I com^ 
riiunicate in his own words^ with much greater confi- 
dence in his scientific accuracy, than I could have 
T^itured to place in any observations which I myself 
might have made upon the subject. 

^ The discoveries bf Captain Cook in his last voyage 
have confirmed the conclusions which Dr Robertson 
had drawn, and have connected together the &cts from 
which tihey were deduced. They have now rendered 
it certain that Behring and Tschirikow touched on the 
coast of America in 1741. The former discovered 
land in lat. 58*" 28', and about 236** east fi*om Ferro. 
He has given such a description of the Bay in which 
he anchored, and the high mountain to the westward 
of it, which he calls St Mias, that thou^ the account 
of his voyage is much abridged in the English transla- 
tion, C^)tain Cook recognized the plac6 as he sailed 
along the western coast of America in the year 1778. 
The Isk of St Hermogenes, near the niouth of Cook's 
River, Schumann's Isles on die coast of Alashka, and 
Fc^gy Isle^ retain in Captain Cook's chart the names 
which they had received firom the Russian navigator; 
Cook's Voy. vol.ii. p. 34>7. 


^ TscHiBiKow csme upon tke same coast about 
^^ SO' tntthet soath than Bebring^ near the Motwt-v 
Edgecumbe of Captain Coofc. 

(( With regard to Krenitziii, we kam.froin Coxe^a 
Account of the Russian Discoveries, that he sailed 
from the mouth of the Kamtchatha river with two 
ships in the year 1 76S. With his own ship he reached 
the island Oondashk% in which there had been a 
Russian settlement since the year 1762, where he 
wintered, probably in the same harbour or bay where 
Captain Cook afterwards anchored. The other ship 
wintered at Alaahka, which was supposed to be an 
island, thoi^h it be in &ct a part of the American 
continent. Krenitzin accordingly returned without 
knowing that either of his ships had been on the ooast 
of America; and this is the more surprising, because 
Captain Cook has informed us that Alashka is under- 
stood to be a great continent, both by the Russians 
and the natives at Oonolashka. 

<< According to Krenitnn^ the ship which had 
wintered at Alashka had hardly sailed W to the east^ 
ward of the harbour ^f St Peter and St Paul in 
Kamtchatka; but, according to the more accurate 
charts of Captain Cook, it had sailed Ho less than 
S?"" 17' to the eastward of that ba^bour. There is 
nearly the same mistake of 5^ in the longitude which 
Krenitzin assigns to Ooncdashka. It ia remarkable 
enough, that in the chart of those seaa put into the 
hand of Captain Cook hy the Russians on that island^ 
there was an error of the same kind^ and very nemrly 
of the same extent. 



*^ But what is of most ooDsequence to be remarked 
on the sobject is» that the diacoTeries of Captain Coo]i 
have fully verified Dr Robertson's conjecture, << that it 
is probable that future navigators in those seas> by 
steering ferther to the north than Behring and Tschi* 
rikow or Krenitzin had done, may find that the conti* 
nent of America approaches still nearer to that of Asia;*' 
VoL ii« p. 43. It has accordingly been found that 
these two continents, which in the parallel of 55^, or 
that of the southern extremity of Alashka, are about 
four hundred leagues asunder, a{^roach continually to 
one another as they stretch together toward the north, 
until, within less than a degree from the polar circle, 
they are terminated by two capes, only thirteen leagues 
distant. The east cape of Asia is in latitude 66^ 6% 
and in longitude 190^ 22' east from Greenwich; the 
western extranity of America, or Prince of Wales' 
Cape^ is in latitude 65^ 46', and in longitude 191° 45% 
Nearly in the middle of the narrow strait (Behring^s 
Strait) which separates these capes, are the two islands 
of St Diomede, firom which both continents may be 
seen. Captain King informs us, that as he was saiKng 
through this strait, July 5. 1 779, the fog having cleared 
asrayy he enjoyed the pleasure of seeing frcHn the ship 
the continents of Asia and America at the same mo- 
ment, together with the islands of St Diomede lying 
between them,- Cook's Voy. vol. iii. p. 244. 

, « Beyond this point the strait opeos towards the 
Arctic Sea, and the coasts of Asia and America diverge 
so &st from one another, that in the parallel of 69° 
they are more than one hundred leagues asunder; lb* 
p. 277. To the south of the strait Aere are a number 
of islands, Clerk's, King^s, Anderson's, &c. which, ^ 


well a» those of St Diomede, diajr have frcilitated the 
migratioiis of the aatiTes from the one oonllnent to the 
other* Captaiii Cook, however, on die author!^ of the 
Rossians at Ocmolaahka, and for other good reascms, 
haOs diminished the number c^ islands which bad been 
inserted in former diarts of the northern Archipelago. 
He has also placed Alashka, or the promontory which 
stretches from the continent of America S. W. towards 
Kamtchatka, at the distance of five degrees of longi- 
tude &rther from the coast of Asia than it was reckon^ 
ed by the Russian navigators. 

" Tub geography of the Old and New World is 
therefore equally indebted to the discoveries made in 
this memorable voyage ; and as many errors have been 
corrected, and many deficiencies supplied by means of 
these discoveries, so the accuracy of some former ob- 
servations has been established. The basis of the map 
of the Russian empire, as far as regarded Kamtchatka 
and the country of the Tschutzki, was the position of 
four places, Yakutsh, Ochotz, Bolcheresk, and Petro- 
pawlowski, which had been determined by the astro- 
_ nomer Krassilnicow in the year 174f4; Nov. Comment. 
Petrop. vol. iii. p. 465, &c. But the accuracy of his 
observations was contested by Mw Engel, and M. Robert 
de Vaugondy; Coxe, Append, i. No. 2. p. 267. 272; 
and the former of these geographers ventured to take 
away no less than 28 degrees from the longitude which, 
on the £dth of Krassilnicow's observations, was assigned 
to the eastern boundary of the Russian empire. With 
how little reason this was done, will appear from consi- 
dering that our ^^tish navigators, having determined 
the position of Petropa^«'low8ki by a great number of 
very accurate observations, found the longitude of that 
VOL. II. A a 


port 158^ 43^ £• from Greenwich^ and its latitiide 
SS^ V; agreeing, the first to less than sev^a minutes, 
and the second to less than half a minute, with the 
oalculations of the Russian astronomer: a eoincidenoe 
which, in the situatiosi of so remote a place, does not 
leave an uncortmnty of more than four Eogli^ miles, 
and which, for the ciedit of seia;ide, deserves to be par- 
ticularly remarked. The chief error in the Russian 
maps has been, in not extending the boundaries of that 
empire sufficiently towards the east. For as there was 
nothing to connect the land of the Tsehutzki and the 
north-east point of Asia with those places whereof the 
position had been carefuUy ascertained, except the im- 
perfect accounts of Behring's and Synd's v&yskge^y con- 
siderable errors could not fidl to be introduced, and 
that point was laid down as not more than 2S^ 2' east 
of the meridian of Pelaropawlowski ; Coxe, App. i. 
No. 2.* By the observations of Captain King, the.dif^ 
ference of longitude between Petropawlowski and the 
East Cape is 31^ 9'; that is, 8^ 7^ greater than it was 
supposed to be by the Russian gec^aphera." — It ap- 
pears from Cook's and King^s Yoy. iii. p. 272. that the 
continents of Asia and America are usually joined toge- 
ther by ice during winiter. Mr Samwell confirms this 
account of his superior officer. ^ At this places viz. 
near the latitude of 66^ N. the two coasts are only thir- 
teen leagues asunder, and about midway between them 
lie two islands, the distance from which to either shore 
is short of twenty miles. At this place the natives of 
Asia could find no difficulty in passing over to the op- 
posite coast, which is in sight of iheir own. That in 
a course of years such an event would happen, either 
through design or accident, cannot admit of a doiibt. 
The canoes which we saw among die Tschutaki were 


capable of pefforming a much longer voyage ; aiid, 
however rude they may have been at some distant pe- 
riod, we can scarcely suppose them unequal to a passage 
of six or seven leagues. People might have been car- 
ried over by accident on floating pieces of ice. They 
might also have travelled across on sledges or on foot; 
for we have rtason to believe that the strait is entirely 
firoaen .over in the winter; so that, during that season, 
the continents, with respect to the communication be- 
tween them, may be considered as one land ;" Letter 
from Mr Samwell, Scots Magazine for 1788, p.6(H. 
It is probable that this interesting portion of geogra- 
fikical knowledge will, in the course of a few years, 
receive farther improvement. Soon after the publica- 
tion of Captain Cook's last voyage, the great and en- 
lightened Sovereign of Russia, attentive to every thing 
that may contribute to extend the bounds of science, 
or to render it more accurate, formed the plan of a 
new voyage of discovery, in order to explore those 
.parts of the ocean lying between Asia and America 
which Captain Cook did not visit, to. examine more 
accurately the isjands which stretch from one continent 
almost to the other, to survey the north-east coast of 
the. Russian empire, from the mouth of the Kovyma 
or Kolyma, to the North Cape, and to settle, by as- 
tronomical observations, the position of each place 
worth notice. The conduct of this important enter- 
prise is committed to Captain Billings, an English 
officer in the Russian service, of whose abilities for 
that station it will be deemed the best evidence, that 
he accompanied Captain Cook in his last voyage. To 
render the expedition more extensively useful, an emi- 
nent naturalist is appointed to attend Captain Billings. 
Six years will bo requisite for accomplishing the pur- 


poses of the voyage ; Coxe, Supplement to Russian 
Discoveries, p. 27, &c. 

Note XVIL p. 60. 

Few travellers have had such opportunity of observ- 
ing the natives of America, in its various districts, as 
Don* Antonio UUoa. In a work lately published by 
him, he thus describes the eharacteristicat features of 
the race : " A very small forehead, covered with hair 
towards its extremities, as far as the middle of the eye- 
brows; little eyes; a thin nose, small and bending to- 
wards the upper lip ; the countenance broad ; the ears 
large ; the hair very black, lank, and coarse ; the Ihnbs 
well turned, the feet small, the body of just proportion, 
and altogether smooth and free from hair, until old age, 
when they acquire some beard, but never on the cheeks;'^ 
Noticjas Amerieanas, &c. p. S07. M. le Chevalier de 
Pinto, who resided several years in a part of America 
which UUoa never visited, gives a sketch of the gene- 
ral aspect of the Indians there. <<They are all of 
coppeV colour, with some diversity of shade, not in 
proportion to their distance from the equator, but ac- 
cording to the degree of elevation of the territory 
which they inhabit. Those who live in a high coun- 
try are fairer than those in the Qiarshy low lands on 
the coast. Their face is round, farther r«noved, per- 
haps, than that of any people from an oval shape. 
Their forehead is small, the extremity of their ears 
far from the face, their lips thick, their nose flat, 
their eyes black, or of a chesnut colour, small, but 
capable of discerning objects at a great distance. 
Their hair is always thick and deek^ and without any 


tendency to curL They hav^ no hair on any part o£ 
their body but the head. At the first aspect, a South- 
ern American appears to be mild and innocent, but 
on a more attentive view, one discovers in his counte- 
nance something wild, distrustfiil, and sullen ;" MS. 
penes me. The two portraits, drawn by hands very 
difikrent from those of .common travellers, iiave a near 

Note XVIIL p. 61. 

Amazing accounts are given of the persevering 
speed of the Americans. ' Adair relates the adven- 
tures of a Chikkasah Warrior, who run through woods 
and over mountains, three hundred computed miles, 
in a day and ^,half and two jiights; Hist, of Amen 
Ind. 396. 

Note XIX. p. 67. 

M. GoniN L£ Jeune, who resided ^fteen years 
among the Indians of Peru and Quito, and twenty 
years in the French colony of Cayenne, in which 
there is a constant intercourse with the Galibis and 
other tribes on the Orinoco, observes, that the vigour 
of constitution among the Americans is exactly in pro- 
portion to their habits pf labour. The Indians, in 
warm climates, such as those on the coasts of the 
.South Sea, on the river of Amazons, and the river 
Orinoco, are not to^be compared for strength .with 
those in cold countries ; and yet, says h^, boats daily 
fiet out from Para, a Portuguese settlement on the 


river Amazons, to ascend diat river against the va- 
pidity of the stream, and with the same crew they 
proceed to San Pablo, which is eight hundred leagues 
distant. No crew of white people, or even of negroes^ 
would be foiHid equal to a taA of 9ich persevering 
&tigue, as the Portuguese have experienced, and yet 
the Indians, being accustomed to this labour from 
their infancy, perform it ; MS. penes me. 

Note XX. p. 75. 

Don Antonio Ulloa, who virited a great part of 
Peru and Chili, the kingdom of New Granada, and 
several of the provinces bordeting on the Mexican 
Gulf, while employed in the same service with the 
French mathematicians during the space of ten years, 
and who afterwards had an opportunity of viewing 
the North Americans, asserts, << that if we have seen 
one American, we may be said to have seen them all, 
their colour and make are so nearly the same;" Notic. 
Americanas, p. 308. A more early observer, Pedro 
de Cieca dej^eon, one of the conquerors of Peru, who 
had likewise traversed many provinces of America^ 
affirms, that the people, men and women, although 
there is such a multitude of tribes or nations as to be 
almost innumerable, and such diversity of climates, 
j^ppear nevertheless like the children of one &ther and 
mother; Chronica del' Peru, parte i. c. 19. There 
is, no doubt, a certain combination of features, and 
peculiiifity of aspect, which forms what may be called 
an Eurc^an or Asiatic countenance. There mxtst 
likewise be one that may be denominated American, 
common to the whole race. This may be supposed to 



Strike the traveller at first flighty while not only the 
various shades which distinguish peo{ile of difFeiPent 
regions, but the peculiar features which discriminate 
individuals, escape the notice of a transient observer. 
But when persons who had resided so long among the 
Americans concur in bearing testimony to the similar 
rity of thdr appearance in every climate^ we may con- 
clude that it is more remarkable than that of any other 
race. See likewise Garcia, Origen de los Indios, p. Siu 
^4i2» Torquemada, Monarch. Indiana, iL 571. 

Note XXI. p. 78. 

M. L£ Chevalixr D£ Pinto obseTves, that^ in the 
interior parts of Brasil^ he had been informed that 
-some persons resembling the white people of Darien 
have been found; but that the breed did not continue, 
and their children became like other Americans. This 
race, however, is very imperfectly known ; MS. penes 

Note XXII. p. 81. 

The testimonies of different travellers concerning 
Ac Patagonians, have been collected and stated with 
a considerable degree of accuracy by the author of 
Recherches Philosophiques, &c. tom. i. 281, &c. iiL 
181, &C. Since the publication of his work, several 
navigators have visited the Magellanic regions, and, 
like their predecessors, difier very widely in their ac- 
Gomits of its inhabitants. By Commodore Byron and 
jiis crew, who sailed through the Straits in 1764, the 


common rize of the Patagonians was Estimated to be 
eight feet, and many of them much taller; Philos. 
Transact, vol* iviL p. 78. By Captains Wallis and 
Carteret, who actually measured them in 1766, they 
were found to be from six feet to six feet five and seven 
inches in height; Phil. Tnms. vol. be. p. 22. Tbese^ 
however, seem to have been the very people whose 
size had been rated so high in the year 1764; for 
several of them had beads and red baize of the same 
kind with what had been put on board Captdh Wal- 
lis's ship, and he naturally concluded that they had 
got these from Mr Byron; Hawkesw. i. In 1767 
they were again measured by M. Bougainville, whose 
account differs little from that of Captain Wallis; 
Voy. 129. To these I shall add a testimony of ^eat 
weight. In tlie year 1762, Son Bernardo Ib^gnez de 
Echavarri accompanied tjie Marquis de Valdfelirios to 
Buenos Ayres, and resided there several years. He 
is a very intelligent author, and his r^utation for ve- 
racity unimpeached among his countrymen. In speak- 
ing of the country towards the southern extremity of 
America, *^ By what Indians," says he, *< is it possess- 
ed? Not certainly by the fabulous Patagonians, who 
are supposed to occupy this district. I have from 
many eye-witnesses, who have lived among those Indi- 
ans, and traded much wLtli them, e true and accurate 
description of their persons. They are of the same 
stature with Spaniards. I never saw one who rose in 
height two varus and two or threa inches," i.e. about 
80 or 81.332 inches English, if Echavarri makes his 
computation according to the vara of Madrid. This 
agrees nearly with the measurement of Captain Wal- 
lis; Reyno Jesuitico, 238. Mr Falkner, who resided 
^s a missionary forty years in the. southern parts of 


Ameriea, says, that <^ the Patagonians, or Puelches, 
are a large-bodied people; but I never heard of that 
g^antic race which others have mentioBed, though I 
have seen persons of all the different tribes of South- 
em Indians;" Introd. p. 26. M» Dobrizhoffer, a Je* 
suit, who resided eighteen years in Paraguay, and who 
hftd seen great numbers of the various tribes which 
inhal»t the countries situated upon the Straits of Ma- 
gellan, confirms, in eveiy point, the testimony of his 
brother-missionary Falkner^ Dobrizhc^er enters into 
scHne detail witli respect to the opinions of several 
authors, concerning the stature of the Patagonians. 
Having mentioned the reports of some early travellers 
with regard to the extraordinary size of some bones 
found on that coast, which were supposed to be hu- 
man, and having endeavoured to shev^ that these bones 
belonged to some large marine or land animal, he 
concludes, ^< de hisce ossibus crede quicquid libuerit, 
dummodo, me suasore, Patagones pro gigantibus de- 
sinas habere;" Historia de Abissonibus, vol. ii. p. 19, 

Note XXIII. p. 86. 

Antonio Sanchez Ribeiro, a learned and inge- 
nious physician, published a dissertation in the year 
1765, in which he endeavours to prove, that this dis- 
ease was not introduced from America, but took its 
rise in Europe, and was brought on by an epidemical 
and malignant disorder. Did I choose to enter into a 
•disquisition on this subject, which I should not have 
mentimied if it had not been intimately connected 
with this part of my inquiries, it would not be difficult 
to point out some mistakes with respect to the &cts 


upon which he founds, as well as some errors in the 
consequences which he draws from them. The rapid 
eommimication of this disease from Spain over Europe^ 
seems however to resemble the progress of an epidemic, 
rather than that of a disease transmitted by infectioR^ 
The first mention of it is in the year 1493, and bef<»re 
the year 1497 it had made its appearance in most 
oountries of Europe, with sUch alarming symptoms as 
rendered it necessary for the civil magistrate to inters 
pose, in order to check its career. — Since the publi- 
cation of this work, a second edition of Dr Sanchez's 
Dissertation has been communicated to me. It ccm- 
tains several additional fiicts in confirmation of his 
opinion, which is supported with such plausible argu- 
ihents, as render it a subject of inquiry well desarving 
the attention of learned physicians. 

NotfiXXIV. p. 91. 

The people of Otaheite have no denomination for 
any number above two hundred, which is sufficient 
for their transactions; Voyages by Hawkeaworth, iL, 

Note XXV. p. 98. 

As the view which I have givoi of rude nations k 
extremely d^erent from that exhibited by very respec- 
table authors, it may be proper to produce some of the 
many authorities on which I found my description. 
The manners of the savi^e tribes in America bftve 
never been viewed by p^sons more capable of ob- 


serving them with discernment, dian the philosophers 
employed by France and Spain, in the year 1735,' to 
determine the figure of the earth. M. Bouguer, 
D. Atitonio d'UMoa, and D. Joi:ge Juan, resided long 
among the natives of the least ciTilized provinces ia 
Peru. M. de la Cmidamine had not only the same 
advantages with them for observation, but, in his 
Aroyage down the Maragnon, he had an opportunity of 
inspecting the state of the various nations seated on its 
banks, in its vast course across the continent of South 
America. There is a wonderful resemblance in their 
arepresentation of the character of the Americans. 
« They are all extremely indolen^'* says M. Bouguer; 
** they are stupid r; they pass whole days sitting ill the 
«ame place, without moving, or speaking a single word* 
It is not easy to describe the degree of their indiflfei^nce 
for wealth and all its advantages. One does not well 
.know what motive to propose to them, when one would 
persuade them to perform any service. It is vain to 
offer them money,; they answer, that they are not 
Jiungry ;'* Voyage an Perou, p. 102. ** If one con- 
siders them as men, the narrowness of their under^ 
standing seems to be incompatible wifh the excellence 
of the soul. Their imbecility is so visible, that one 
can hardly form an idea of them different from what 
one has of the brutes. Nothing disturbs the tranquil- 
lity of their souls, equally ins^sible to disasters and to 
prosperity. Though half-naked, they are as contented 
as a monarch in his ihost splendid array. Riches do not 
attract them in the smallest degree, ailKl the authority 
or dignities to which they may aspire are'so little the- 
objects of their amlntion, that an Indian will receive 
with the same indifference the office of a judge (alcade) 
or that of a hangman, if deprived of the former and ap- 


pointed to the latter. Nothing can move or change 
them. Interest has no power over them, and they 
oftoi xefhse to perform a small service, though certain 
of a great recomp^ise. Fear makes no impression 
upon them, and respect as little. Their dispositioh is 
so singular that there is no method of influenciug them, 
no means of rousing them irom that indiflference which 
b proof against all the endeavours of the wisest persons; 
no expedient which can induce them to abandon that 
gross ignorance, or lay aside that careless n^igence, 
which disconcert the prudoice and disa{^int the care 
of such as are attentive to iheir welfare;" Voyage 
d'UUoa, tom« L Sd5. SS6. Of those singular qualities 
he^ produces many extraordinary instances, p. 3S6 — 
347. ^' Insensibility," ^ays M. de la Condamine, << h 
the bans of the American character. \ leave others 
to determine, whether this should be dignified with the 
name of apathy, or disgraced with that of stupidity. It 
arises, without doubt, from the small number of their 
ideas, which do not extMid beyond their wants. Glut- 
tons even to voracity, when they have wherewithal to 
satisfy their appetite. Temperate, when necessity 
obliges them, to such a degree, that they can endure 
want without seeming to desire any thing. Pusillani- 
mous and cowardly to excess, unless when they are 
rendered desperate by drunkenness. Averse to labour, 
indifferent to every motive of glory, honour, or grati- 
tude; occupied entirely by the object that is present, 
and always determined by it alone, without any solici- 
tude about futurity; incapable of foresight or of reflec- 
tion ; abandoning themselves, when under no restraint, 
to a puerile joy, which they express by frisking about, 
and immoderate fits of laughter; without object or 
design, they pass their life without thinking, and grow 


old without advancing beyond childhood, of which 
they retain all the detects. If this description were 
applicable only to the Indians in some provinces- of, 
Peru, who are slaves in every respect but the name, 
one might believe, that this degree of degeneracy was 
occasioned by the servile dependence to which they are 
reduced; the example <yf the modern Greeks being 
proof how far servitude may degrade the human spe- 
cies. But the Indians in die missions of the Jesuits, 
and the savages who still enjoy unimpaired liberty, 
being as limited in their faculties, not to say as stupid 
as the other, one cannot observe, without humiliaticm, 
diat man, when abandoned to simple nature, and de- 
prived <^ the advantages resulting from education and 
society, diifiers but littk from' the brute creation;" 
Voyage de la Riv. de Amaz. 52, 5S. M. de Chanvar 
Ion, an intelligent and philosophical observer, who 
visited Martinico in 1751, and resided there six years, 
gives the following description of the Caraibs : << It is 
not the red colour of their complexion, it is not the 
singularity of their features, which constitutes the chief 
difference between them and us. It is their excessive 
simplicity ; it is the limited degree of their faculties. 
Their reason is not more enlightened or more provi- 
dent than the instinct of brutes. The reason of the 
most gross peasants, that of the negroes brought up in 
the parts of Africa most remote from intercourse with 
Europeans, is such, that we discover appearances of 
intelligence, which, though imperfect, is capable of in- 
crease. But of this the understanding of the Caraibs 
seems to be hardly susceptible. If sound philosophy 
and religion did not afford us their light, if we were to 
decide according to the first impression which the view 
of that people makes upon the mind, we should be dis- 


posed to believe that they do not belong to the same 
species with us. Their stupid eyes are the true .mir- 
ror of their souls; it appears to be without fiinctions. 
Their indolence is extreme ; they have never the least 
solicitude about the moment which is to succeed that 
which is present;" Voyage a la Martinique, p. 44, 45. 
51. M. de la Borde, Tertre, and Rochefort, confirm 
this description. ^^ The characteristics of the Califor- 
nians," says P. Yenegas, « as well as of all other Indi- 
ans, are stupidity and insensibility ; want of knowledge 
and reflection ; inconstancy, impetuo^ty, and blindness 
of appetite; an excessive sloth, andal^rrence of all 
labour and fatigue; an excessive love of pleasure and 
amusement of every kind, however trifling or brutal ; 
pusillanimity; and, in fine, a mosit wreU^ed want of 
every thing which constitutes the real man, and ren« 
ders him rational, inventive^ tractable, and useful to 
himself and society. It is not easy for E^ropeansi 
who never were out of their own country, to conceive 
an adequate idea of those people ; for, even in the least 
firequented corners of the globe, there is not a natk)n 
so stupid, of such contracted ideas, and so weak both 
in body and mind, as the unhappy CaUfornians. 
Their understanding cqfmprehendb little more than 
what th^ see; abstract ideas, a»d much less a chain 
of reasoning, being &r beyond their power; so that 
they scarce ever improve their first ideas, and these are 
in general false or at least inadequate. It is in vun to 
represent to them any future advantages which.will re- 
sult to them frcm doing or abstaining from this or that 
particular immediately present ; the relation of means 
and ends being beyond the stretch of their faculties. 
Nor have they the least notion of pursuing sa^ inten-^ 
tions as will procure themselves some future good, or 


guiurd them against future erils* Tbeir will is propor- 
tional to their faculties, and all their passions move in 
a very narrow sphere. Ambition they have none, and 
are more desirous of being accounted strong than va- 
liant. The objects qf ambition with us, honour, fame^ 
reputation, titles, posts, and distinctions of superiority^ 
are unknown among them ; so that this powerful spring 
of action, the caiiise of so much seei^ing good and reid 
evil in the world, has no power here. This dispositikm 
of mind, as it gives them up to an aTpa/apg languor and 
lassitude, tbeir lives fleeting away in a perpetual inacti- 
vity and detestation of labour, so it likewise induces 
them to be attracted by the first object which their 
own fancy, or the persuasion of another, places before 
them; and at the same time renders them as prone to 
alter their resolutions with the same fadlity. They 
look with indifference upon any kindness done them; 
nor is even the bare remembrance of it to b<d expected 
from them. In a word, the unhappy mortals may be 
compared to children, in whom the developement of 
reason is not completed. They may indeed be called 
a nation who never arrive at manhood ;" Hist.. o£ 
California, Engl. Tran^l. i. 64. 67. Mr Ellis gives a 
similar account of the want of foresight and ineonaft- 
derate disposition of the people adjacent to Hudson's 
Bay ; Voyage p. 194, 19& 

The incapacity of the Amerioans is so remarkable^ 
that negroes from all the different provinces of Africa 
are observed to be more .capable of improving by in- 
struction. They acquire the knowledge of several 
particulars which the Americans cannot, comprehend. 
Hence the negroes, though slaves, value themselves as 
a superior order of beings, and look, down upon the 



Am^ricaiis with contempt, as void of capacity and of 
rational discernment ; Ulloa, Notic. Americ. 522^ 323v 

Note XXVL p. 105. 

DoBBizHOFFER, the last traveller I know who has 
resided among any tribe of the ruder Americans, has 
ex:plained so fully the various reasons which have in- 
duced their womeii to suckle their children long, and 
never to undertake rearing such as were feeUe or dis- 
torted, and even to destroy a considerable number of 
their o£&pring, as to throw great light on the observa- 
tions I have made, p. 71, 72 ; Hist, de Abissonibus, 
vol. ii. p. 107. 221. So deeply were these ideas im- 
printed in the minds of the Americans, that the Peru- 
vians, a civilized people, when compared with the bar- 
barous tribes whose manners I am describing, retain- 
ed them ; and even their intercourse with the Spaniards 
has not been able to root them out. When twins are 
bom in any family, it is still considered as an ominous 
event, and the parents have recourse to rigorous acts 
of mortification, in order to avert the calamities with 
which they are threatened. When a child is bom 
with any deformity, they will not, if they can possibly 
avoid it, bring jt to be bi^tized, and it is with difScul- 
ty they can be brought to rear it ; Arriaga, Extirpac. 
de la Idolat del Pera, p. 32, 3S. 

Note XXVII. p. ill. 

The number of the fish in the rivers of South 
America is so extraordinary, as to merit particular 


notice. << In the Maragnon (says P. Aeugna) fis^ arr 
so plentiful, that, without any art^^thiey may take tfaem^ 
with the hands;" p, 138. " In the Orinoco (says P.. 
GumHla), besides an infinite* variety^ of other fish, tior-v 
toise or tixrtle abound in snch numbers, that I cannot 
find words to express it. I doubt not but thst such bb^ 
pead my account wiU accuse me of exaggeration ;' but 
I can affirm that it is as difficult Co count them, as to 
count the sands on the bank»^ of that river. One majr 
judge of their number by the amazing consumption of 
them; for all the nations contiguous to the river, and 
even many who are at a distance, flock thither at the 
season of breeding,, and not only find sustenance dur<- 
ing that time, but carry off great numbers both of the 
turtles and of their eggs," &c. Hist, de TOrenoque, 
ii. c. 22. p. 59. M. de la Condamine confirms theii; 
accounts, p. 159L 

Note XXVIII. p. 111.. 

Piso describes two of titese plants, the Curunmpe^ 
and the Guajana-^ Titnbo. It is remarkable, that though 
they have this f^tal efiect upon fishes^ they are so far 
firom being noxious to the human species, that diey 
are used in' medicine with success. Piso, lib. iv. c. 88.. 
Bancroft mentions anodiery^ the Hiarree, a small quan- 
tity of which is sufficient to inebriate all* the fish to a' 
considerable distimce^ so that in a few minutes tfaejr 
float motionless on the surface of the water, and are 
taken with ease. Nat. Hist. o£ Guian% p. 106^ 

VOL. lU B b* 



Note XXIX. p. 115. 

Remabkaue inoltfices occur of the calamities 
which rttde nations m£fer by fiunine. Alvar Nugnez 
Cabeca de Vaea, one of the most gallant and virtuous 
of the Spanish adventurers, resided almost nine years . 
among the savages of Florida* They were unacquaint^ 
ed with every qiecies of agriculture. Their subsistaiee- 
was ppor and precarious. ^* They live chiefly (says 
he) upon roots of difiersnt plants, which they procure 
with great difficult, wandering from place to place m 
search of them. Sometimes diey kill game, sometimes 
diey oatch fish, but in such small quantities, diat their 
hunger is so extreme as compels them to eat spsders^ 
the eggs of ants, worms, lizards, serpents, a kind of. 
unctuous earth; and I am persuaded, that if in this 
country there were any stones, they would swallow 
these. They preserve the bones oi fishes and serpents, 
which they grind into powder, and eat. The only 
season when they do not suffer much from famine, is 
when a certain fruit, w^iich he calls Tuttas, is ripe. 
This is the same with the QpunUet^ or prickly pear, of 
a reddish and yellow colour^ with a sweet insipid taste. 
They are sometoes obUged to travel fin* boim their 
usual place of residence, in order to find them ;" Nau- 
fragios, c. xviii. p. 20, 21, 22. In another place he 
observes, that they are frequently reduced to pass two 
or three days without food, c. xxiv. p. 27. 

Note XXX. p. 117. 

M. Fermin has given an accurate description of the 
two species of manioc, widi an account of its culture. 

to whidi he has tulded some experiments, in order to 
ascertain the poisonous qoi^ties of the juice extracted 
from that species which he calls the bitter cassava. 
Among the Spaniards, it is known by the name of 
Yuca bravd. Descr. de Surin. torn* i. p. 66. 

NotkXXXL p. 117. 

The plantain is found in Asia and Africa, as well 
as in America. Oviedo contends, that it is not an 
indigenous plant of the New World, but was intro* 
dttced into the island of Hispaniola, in the year 1516, 
by Father Thomas de Berlanga, «nd that he trans- 
planted it from the Canary Islsmds, whither the ori- 
ginal slips had been brought from the £ast*>Indies. 
Oviedo, lib. viii. c. 1. But the opinion of Acosta and 
other naturalists, who reckon it an American plant, 
seems to be better founded. Acosta, Hist. Kat. lib. iv. 
21. It was cultivated by rude tribes in America, who 
hlid little intercourse with the Spaniards, and who 
were destitute of that ingenuity which disposes men 
to borrow what is useful from foreign nations. Ou- 
miUa, iii. 186. Wafer^s Voyage, p. 87. 

Note XXXII. p. 119. 

It is remarkable, that AcoSta^ one of the most accu- 
rate and best informed writers concerning the West- 
Indies, affirms, that maize, though cultivated on the 
continent, was not known in the islands, the inhabi- 
tants of which had none but cassada bread. Hi^t. 
Nat. lib. iv« c. 16. Bnt P. Martyr, in the first book of 


hift first Decad, which was written in the year 14-95, 
upon the return of Columbus from his first voyage, 
expressly mentions maize as a plant which the islanders 
cultivated, and of which they made bread, p. 7. Go- 
mara likewise asserts, that they were acquainted with 
the culture of maize. Hist. Gener. cap. 28. Oviedo 
describes maize without any intimation of its being a 
plant that was not natural to Hispaniola. Lib. vii. c. I. 

Note XXXIII. p. 127. 

New Holland, a country which formerly was only 
known,, has liately been visited by intelligent observers. 
It lies in a region-of the globe where it must enjoy a 
very favourable climate^ as it stretches from the 10th 
to the SSth degree of northern latitude. It is of great 
extent, and from its square form must be much more 
than equal to all Europe. The people who inhabit 
the various parts of it appear to be of one race. They 
are evidently ruder than most of the Americans, and 
have made still less progress in improvement and the 
arts of life. There is not the least appearance of cvir 
tivation in any part of this vast region. The inhabi- 
tants are extremely few, so that the country appears 
almost desolate. Their tribes are still more inconsi- 
derable than those of America. They depend for sub- 
sistence almost entirely on fishing. They do not settle 
in one place, but roam about in quest of food. Both 
sexes go stark-naked. Their habitations,, utensils, &c. 
are more simple and rude than those of the Americans* 
Voyages, by Hawkeswortfa, iii. 622„ &c. This, per- 
haps, is the country where man. has been discovered in 
the earliest stage of his progress ; and it exhibits a 


miserable specimen of his condition and powers in that 
uncultivated state. If this country shall be more fulljr 
explored by future navigators, the comparison of the 
manners of its inhabitants -vnth those of tihe Americans 
will prove an instructive article in the history of the 
human species. 

Note XXXIV. p. 127. 

P. Oabriel Marest, who travelled from liis station 
among the Illinois to Machillimakinac, thus describes 
the face of the country : — ^ We have inarched twelve 
days without meeting a single human creature. Some- 
times we found ourselves in Tast meadows, of which 
we could not see tlie boundaries, through which there 
flowed many brooks and rivers, but without any path 
to conduct us. Sometimes we were obliged to open a 
passage across thick forests, through bushes and un<- 
derwood filled with briers and thorns. Sometimes we 
had t6 pass through deep marshes, in which we sunk 
up to the middle. After being fatigued through the 
day, we had the earth for our bed, or a few leaves, 
exposed to the wind, the rain, and all the injuries of 
the air ;" Lettr. Edifiantes, ii. 360. Dr Brickell, in 
an excursion from North Carolina towards the moun- 
tains, A. D. 1730, traveHed fifteen days without meet- 
ing with a human creature. Nat. Hist, of North Caro- 
Ena, 'S99. Diego de Ordas, in attempting to make a 
settlement in South America, a. d. 15S2, marched fifty 
days through a country without one inhabitant. Her- 
rera, dec. S. lib. L ell. 



NcxebXXXV. p,l29. 

I STEOKGLY susp<9Gt that a community of goods, imd 
an undivided store, are known only among tiie rude^ 
tribes of hunters ; and. that as soon as. any spepies of 
agriculture or regular industry is known, the idea of 
an exclusive right of property to the fruits of them is 
introduced. I am confirmed in this opinion by ac- 
counts which I have received concerning the state of 
pi^apettY among the Indiajss in very different regions 
of America* << The idea of the nativ^^ of Brasil con- 
cerning property is» that if any person cultivate a fields 
he alone ought to enjoy the produce of it, and no other 
has a title to pretend to it* If an individual or family 
go arhunting or fishing, what is caught belongs to ik^ 
individual or to the family, and they coiiAmuniqate 4V> 
part of it to any but to their cazique, or to such of 
their kindred as happen to be indigos ed. Xf any per-* 
son in the village come to their hut, he may sit down 
fireely, and eat without asking liberty. But this is the 
consequence of their general principle of hospitality ; 
for I never observed any partition of the increase of 
their fields, or the produce of the chase, which I could 
consider as the result of any idea concerning a comr 
munity pf goods. On the contrary, they are so much 
attached to what they deem to be their jHx>perty, that 
it would be extremely dangerp^s to encroach upon iU 
As far-as I have seen or can learn, tb^e is not one 
tribe of Indians in South America, among whom thai 
qommunity of goods which has been so highly extolled 
is known. The circumstance in th^ goyeminei^t of the 
Jesuits, most irksome to the Indians of Paraguay, was 
the community of goods which those fathers intro- 


daced. This was repugnant to the original ideas of 
the Indians. They were acquainted with the rights 
of private exclusive property, and they submitted with 
impatience to regulations which destroyed them ;" M. 
le ChevaL de Finto, M& penes me. << Actual pdsses-* 
4iion (says a missionary who resided several years among 
the Indians of the Five Nations) gives a right to the 
soil, but whenever a possessor sees fit to quit it, ano* 
ther has as good right to take it as he who left it. 
This law, or custom, respects not only the particular 
spot on which he erects his house, but also his plant- 
ing goound. If a man has prepared a particular spot 
of ground, on which he designs in future to build or 
plant, no man has a right to incommode him, much 
less to the fruit of his labours, until it appears that he 
voluntarily gives up his views. But I never heard of 
any formal conveyance from one Indian to another in 
dieir natural state. The limits of every canton are cir-^ 
cumscribed ; that is, they are allowed to hunt as far 
as such a river on this hand, and such a mountain gh 
the other. This area is occupied and improved by 
individuals and their fiimilies. Individuals, not the 
community, have the use and profit of their own 1b« 
hours, or success in hunting;*' MS. of Mr Gideon 
Hawley, ^^7i€5 me. 

Note XXXVI. p.isi. 

This ££Perence of temper between the Americans 
and negroes is so remarkable, that it is a proverbial 
saying in the French islands, <* Regarder un sauvage 
de travers, c'est le battre ; le battre, c'est le tuer ; battre 
un negre, c'est le nourrir ;'* Tertre^ ii. 490. 


NoteXXXVIL p.132. 

The description of lihe political state of the people 
4of Cinaloa perfectly resembles that of the inhabitants of 
North America. <^ They have neither laws nor kmgs 
^says A missionary who resided long among them) to 
punish any crime. Nor is there among them any spe- 
cies of atiiihority, or political government, to restrain 
them in any part of their conduct It is true, that they 
acknowledge .certain caziques, who are heads of their 
families or villages, but their authority appears chiefly 
in war, .and the expeditions against their enemies. This^ 
authority the caziques obtain not by hereditary right, 
but by their valour in war, or by the power and num- 
'ber of their families and relations. Sometimes they 
pwe their pre-eminence to their eloquence in display- 
ing their own exploits;" Ribas, Hist de las Triumph. 
&c. p. 11. The state of the Chiquitosin South Ame- 
rica is nearly the same» . ^' They have no regular form 
of government or civil life, but in matters of public 
concern they listen to the advice of their old men, and 
usually follow it. The dignity of cazique is not he* 
reditary, but conferred according to merit, as the re- 
ward of valour in war. The union among them is 
Imperfect TTieir society resembles a republic without 
any head, in which every man is master of himself, and, 
upon the least disgust, separates from tihose with whom 
he seemed to be connected;" Relacion Historical de 
las Missionesdelos Chiquitos, por P. Juan Patr. Fer- 
nandez, p. 32, 33. Thus, under very different climates, 
when nations are in a similar state of society, their in- 
stitutions and civil govemmjeut assume the same forixu 


Note XXXVIIL p. 149. 

'" I HAVE known the Indians (says a person well ac- 
^aainted with their mode of life) to go a thousand miles 
for the purpose of revenge, in pathless woods, over hills 
and mountains, through huge cane-swamps, exposed to 
the extremities of heat and cold, the vicissitude of sea^- 
SODS, to iiung^ and thirst Such is their over-boiling 
revenge&d temper, that they utterly contemn all those 
things as imaginary trifles, if they are so happy as to 
get the scalp of the murderer, or enemy, to satisfy the 
craving ghosts of their deceased relations ;" Adair's 
Hist, of Amer. Indians, p. ISO- 

Note XXXIX. p.U9- 

In the account of the great war betweoi the Algon- 
qiiins and Iroquois, the achievements of Piskaret, a 
famous chief of the Algonquins, performed mostly by 
himself alone, or with one or two companions, make a 
capital figure. De la Potherie, i. 297, &c. Colden's 
Hist, of Five Nations, 125, &c. 

Note XL. p. 153. 

.The life of an unfortunate leader is often in danger^ 
and he is always degraded from the rank which he had 
acquired by his former exploits. Adair^ p. 388. 



Note XLI. p*> 153. 

As the ideas of the North Americans, with respect 
to the mode of carrying on war, are generally known, 
I have founded my observations chiefly npon the testi- 
mony of the authors who describe them. But the same 
maxims took place among other nations in the New 
World. A judicious missionary has giren a view of 
the military operations of the people in Gran Chaco, 
in South America, perfectly similar to those of the 
Iroquois. <<They are much addicted to war (says 
he), which they carry on fiiequent]y among themselves, 
but perpetually against the Spaniards. But they may 
rather be called thieves than soldiers, for they never 
make head against the Spaniards, unless when they can 
assault them by stealth, or have guarded against any 
mischance by spies, who may be called indefatigable. 
They will watch the settlements of the Spaniards for 
one, two, or three years, observing by night every thing 
diat passes with the utmost solicitude, whether they may 
expect resistance or not, and until they are perfectly se- 
cure of the event, they will not venture upon an attack ; 
so that when they do give the assault, they are certain 
of success, and free from all danger. These spies, in 
order that they may not be observed, will creep on all- 
four like cats in the night; but if they are discovered, 
make their escape with much dexterity. But, although 
they never choose to hce the l^aniards, if they be sur- 
rounded in any place whence they cannot escape, they 
will fig^t with deqierate valour, and sdl their lives very 
dear ;" Lozano, Descript. del Gran Chaco, p. 78. 


Note XLIl. p. 155. 

Lery, who was an eye-witness of the proceedings of 
the ToupinamboSf a Brasilian tribe, in a war against 
a powerful nation of their enemies^ describes their 
t;ourage and ferocity in very striking terms. Ego cum 
Gallo altero^ paiilo curiosius, magno noatropertenlo (si 
enim ab hostibus capti aut lesi fuias^us, devorationi 
fiussemits devoti), barbaros nostros in militiam euntes 
^mitari voloi. Hiy niuHero MOO capita, cum hostibns 
ad littus deoertarunt, tanta ferocitate^ ut vel rabidos el 
jRuriosos quosque superarent. Cum primnm hostes con* 
qtexere, in ma^os atque editos ululatus perruperunt. 
Haec gens adeo fera est et truculenta, ut tantisper dma 
▼irium vel tantiilum restat, continue dimicent, fbgam* 
que nxinquam capessant. Quod a natura illis inditum 
esse reor. Testor intexea me, qui non serael, turn 
peditum turn equitum copias ingentes, in aciem instruc* 
tas hie oontpexi, tanta nunquam yoluptate vid^adis 
peditum kgionibus armis fulg^itibus, quanta turn pug^ 
nantibiis istis percnsaum feisse, Lery, Hist. Navigat 
in Brasil. ap. de Bry, iii. 207, 208, 209. 

Note XLIIL p. 156. 

It was originally the practice of the Americans, as 
w«U as of other tavage nations^ to cut off the heads of 
the enemies wboia they slew, and to carry them away 
m trophies* But, aa they found tbcae cumbersome in 
their retreat^ "which Ihey ahKays make very rapidiy^ 
«ad often through a vast exl^mt of country, they 
became 8«tisfied with tearing ofF their scalpa. Thia 



custom, though most prevalent in North America, 
was not unknownamong the southern tribes. Lozano, 
p. 7^- 

Note XLIV. p. 162. 

The terms of the war-song seem to be dictated hj 
the same fierce spirit of revenge. << I go to war to re- 
venge the death of my brothers ; I shall kill ; I shall 
extenninate; I shall bum my enemies ; I shall bring 
away slaves; I shall devour their heart, dry their flesh, 
drink their blood; I shall tear off their scalps, and 
mf^e cups of dieir skulls.'' Bossu's Travels through 
Louisiana, vol. L p., 102. I am informed, by persons 
on whose testimony I can rely, that as the number of 
people in the Indian tribes has decreased so much, 
almost none of their prisoners are now put to death. 
It is considered as better policy to spare and to adqpt 
them. Those dreadful scenes which I have described 
occur now so rarely, that missionaries and traders who 
have resided long among the Indians, never were wit- 
nesses to them* 

Note XLV. p. 162. 

All the travellers who have visited the most uncivi- 
lized of the American tribes a^ee in this. It is con- 
finned by two remarkable circumstances, which oc- 
curred in the conquest of different provinces* In the 
expedition of Narvaez into Florida in the year 1528, 
the Spaniards were reduced to such extreme 'distress 
by fiunine, that, in order to preserve their own lives, 



they ate such of their companions as happened to die. 
This appeared so shocking to the natives, who were 
accustomed to devour none but prisoners, that it filled 
them with horror and indignation against the Spaniards. 
Torquemada, Monarch. Ind. ii. p. 584. Nauiragios de 
Alv. Nugnez Cabeca de Vaca, c. xiv. p. 15. During 
the siege of Mexico,, though the Mexicans devoured 
with greediness the Spaniards and Tlascakns "whom 
they took prisoners, the utmost rigour of the famine 
which they 8n£Eered could not induce them to touch the 
dead bodies of their own countrymen. Bern. Diaz del 
Castillo, Conquist de la N. £spagna> p. 156* 

Note XLVI. p. 164. 

Many singular circumstances concerning the treat- 
ment of prisoners among the people of Brasil, are con- 
tained in the narrative of Stadias, a German officer in 
the service of the Portuguese, published in the yean 
1556. He was taken prisoner by the Taupinambos^ 
and remained in captivity nine years. He was often 
present at those horrid festivals which he describes, and 
was destined himself to the same cruel fate with other 
prisoners. But he saved his life by extraordinary 
efforts of courage and address. De Bry, iii. p. 34, &c. 
M. de Lery, who accompanied M. de Villagagnoa in 
his. expedition to Brasil, in the year 1556, and who re- 
sided some time in that country, agrees with Stadius 
in every circumstance of importance. He was fre- 
quently an eye-witness of the manner in which the 
Brasilians treated their prisoners. De Bry, iii. 210. 
Several striking particulars omitted by them, are men- 

898 moVes and illtjstrations. 

tioned by a Poriugiiese author. Putchasy Pilgr. m 

Note XLVII. p. ld«. 

Thoi/gh I have followed that c^inion ooaeeming 
the apathy of the Americans, which appeared to me 
most rational, and supported by the authority of the 
most respectable authors, other theories have been 
formed with regard to it, by writers of great eminoice. 
D. Ant. UUoa, in a late work, contends that the tex- 
ture of the skin and bodily habit of the Americans is 
such, that they are less sensible of pain than the rest of 
mankind. He produces several proofs of this, firom the 
manner in which they endure the most cruel chirurgi- 
cal operations, &c. Noticias Americanas, p. 313, 514. 
The same observation has been made by surgeons in' 
Brasil. An Indian, they say, never complains under 
pain, and will bear the amputation of a leg or arm 
without uttering A single groan. MS. penes me. 

, Note XLVIIL p. 170. 

This is an idea natural to all rude nations. Among 
the Romans, in the early periods of their* common* 
wealth, it was a maxim that a prisoner, <* turn deeessisse 
videtur cum captus est." Digest, lib. xhx. tit. 15. c 
1 8. And afterwards, when the progress of refinement 
rendered them more indulgent widi respett to this ar- 
ticle, they were obliged to employ two fictions of law 
to secure the property, and permit the return of a cap- 


tive; tiie one by the Lex Corndia, and the other by 
the Jos Fostliminii. Heinec. Elem* Jun Civ* sec. brd* 
Pand» iu p. 294. Among the negroes the same ideas 
prevail* No ransom was ever accepted for a prisoner* 
As soon as one is taken in war, he is reputed to be 
dead ; and he is so in effect to his country and his &* 
mily* Voy. du ChevaL des Mardbais, i. p..369» 

Note XLIX. p. 172- 

The people of Chili, the most gallant and high* 
spirited of all the Americans, are the only exception - 
to this observation. They attack their enemies in the 
open field; their troops are ranged in regular order; 
their battalions advance to the chaij^ge, not only with 
courage, but with discipline* The North Americans, 
though many of them have substituted the European 
fire-arms in place of their own bows and arrows, still 
adhere to their ancient maxims of war, and carry it 
on according to dieir own peculiar system* But the 
Chilese nearly resemble the warlike nations of Europe 
and Asia in their military operations* Ovalle's ReU« 
tion of Chili ; Church* Coll. iii* p* 71* Lozano, Hist. 
Parag. i. I**, 145. 

Note L* p. 17fi. 

HsRKiKA gives a remarkable proof of this. In 
Yucatan, the men are so solicitous about dicsr dress, 
that they carry about with them mirrors, probably 
m^de of stone, like those of the Mexicans, Dec. iv. lib* 
iii. c« 8. in which tibey delight to view themselves; 



but the women never use tbem, Dec. m lib* stl c. S. 
He takes notice^ that among the fierce tribe of d»e 
Punches^ in the New Kingdom of Granada, none but 
distinguished warriors were permitted either to pierce 
their lips and to wear green stones in them, or to 
adorn their heads with plumes of feathers, Dec. vii» 
lib. ix. c. 4. In spme provinces of Peru, though tbmt 
empire had made considerable progress in civilization, 
the state of women was little improved. All the toil 
of cultivation and domestic work was devolved upon 
them, and they were not permitted to wear bracelets, 
or other ornaments, with which the men were fond of 
decking themselves. Zarate, Hist, de Peru, i. p. 15, 

Note LI. p. 17G. 

I HAVE ventured to call this mode of anointing and 
painting their bodies, the dress of the Americans^ 
This is agreeable to their own idiom. As they never 
stir abroad if they are not completely anointed, they 
excuse themselves when in this situation, by. sayings 
that they cannot appear because they are naked* Gur 
milla. Hist de FOrenoque, i. 191. 

Note LII. p«i?8. 

Some tribes in the province of Cinaloa, on the Gulf 
d£ California, seem to be among the rudest people of 
America united in the social state. They neither cul-* 
tivate nor sow; they have no houses in which they 
reside. Those in the inland country subsist by hunt- 


ing; thofle on the sea-ccmst chiefly by fidhifig* Bodi 
depend upon the spontaneous productions of the earth, 
fruits, plants, and roots of irarious lands* In the rainy 
season, as they have no balxtations to afford them 
shelter, they gather bundles of reeds, or strong grass, 
and binding them together at one end, they open them 
at the other, and fitting them to dieir heads, they are 
covered as with a large ci^, whidi like a penl>-house 
throws off the rain, and will keep them dry for several 
hours* During the warm season, they form a shed 
with the branches of trees, which protects them from 
the sultry rays of the sun. When exposed to cold, 
they make large fires, round which they sleep in the 
open air. Historia de los Triumphos de Nuestra 
Santa F^ entre Gentes las mas barbaras, &c. por P. 
And. Perez de Ribas, p. 7, &c. 

KoTisLIII. p. 179. 

These houses resemble barns. <* We have mea- 
sured some which were a hundred and fifty pacea 
long, and twenty paces broad. Above a hundred per- 
sons resided in some of them;" Wilson's Account of 
Guiana; Purch. Pilgr. vol. iv. p. 1263. Ibid. 1291. 
<< The Indian houses," says Mr Barrere, <^ have a 
most wretched appearance, and are a striking image 
of the rudeness of early times. Their huts are com- 
monly built on some rising ground, or on the banks 
of a river, huddled sometimes together, sometimes 
stra^ling, and always witlunit any order. Hieir 
aspect is melancholy and disagreeable. One sees no- 
thing but what is hideous and savage. The uncul- 
tivated fields have no gaiety. The silence which reign» 

VOL. II. c c 


thcrt, ttnicM when ioterrapted by ike disagreeabls 
iMtos of birds, or cries of wild beasts, is extremely 
dismal f Relat. de la France Equin. p« 146. 

Note LIV. p. 182. 

Some tribes in South America can send their ar« 
rows to a great distance, and with considerable force, 
without the aid of the bow. They make use of a 
hollow reed, about nine feet long, and an inch thick, 
which is called a Sarbacane. In it they lodge a small 
arrow, with some unspun cotton wound about its great 
end; this confines the air, so that they can blow it 
with astonishing' rapidity, and a sure aim, to the dis^ 
tance of above a hundred paces. These small arrows 
are always poisoned. Fermin, Descr. de Surin. i. 55* 
Bancroft's Hist, of Guiana, p. 281, &c. The Sarba- 
cane is much used in some parts of the East-Indies. 

Note LV. p. 182. 

I MIGHT produce many instances of this, but shall 
satisfy myself with one, taken from the • Esquimaux. 
^ Their greatest ingenuity (says Mr Ellis) is shown in 
the structure of th^r bows, made commonly of three 
pieces of wood, each making part of the same arch, 
very nicely and exactly joined together. They are 
commonly of fir or larch ; and as this wants strength 
and elasticity, thefr supply both by bracing the back 
of the bow with a kind of thread, or line, made of the 
sinews of their de^, and the bow-string of the same 
materials* To make them draw more stiffly, they dip 


them into wat^, which causes both the back of the 
bow. and the string to contract, and consequently 
gives it the greater force ; and as they practise from 
dieir youth, th^ shoot with very great dexterity ;** 
Voyage to Hudson's Bay, p. 138. 

NoTi LVL p. 18$. 

Necessity is the great prompter and guide of man- 
kind in their inventions. There is, however, such 
inequality in some parts of their progress, and some 
nations get so far the start of others in circumstanceft 
nearly similar, that we must ascribe this to some events 
in their story, or to some peculiarity in their situation, 
with which we are unacquaint^. The people in the 
island of Otaheite^ lately discovered in the South Sea, 
far excel most of the Americans in the knowledge and 
practice of the arts of ingenuity, and yet they had not 
invented any method of boiling water; and having no 
vessel that would bear the fire, they had no more idea 
that water could be made hot, than that it could be 
made solid. Voyages by Hawkesworth, i. 466. 4S4. 

Note LVII. p. 1S3. 

One of diese boats, which could carry nine men, 
weighed only sixty pounds. Gosnal, Relat, des Voy. 
a la Virgin.; Rec. de Voy. au Nord, torn. v. p. 40?^ 


Note LVIII. p. 166- 

A HEHARKABLE proof of this ig produced by UUoo. 
In weaving hammocks, coverlets, and other coarse 
cloths, which they are accustomed to manu&cture, 
their industry has discovered no more expeditious me- 
thod than to take up thread after thread, and after 
counting and sorting them each time, to pass the woof 
between themf so that in finishing a small piece of 
those stuffs, they frequently spend more than two years. 
Voyage, i. SS6. Bancroft gives the same description 
of the Indians of Guiana, p. 255. According to Adair, 
the ingenuity and despatch of- the North American In- 
dians are not greater, p. 4>22. From one of the engra- 
vings of the Mexican paintings in Purchas, vol. iii. 
p. 1106. I -think it ^probable that the people of Mex;- 
ico were unacquainted with any better or more expedi- 
tious mode of weaving. A loom was an inventt<m be- 
yond the ingenuity of the mo^ improved Americans.. 
Jn all their works they advance so slowly, that one of 
thar artists is two months at a tobacco^pe with hik 
knife befinre he finishes ita Adair, p. 423% 

NoteLIX. p. 188. 

The article of. religion in P. Lafitau's Mceurs des 
Sauvages, extends to 347 tedious pages in quarto. 


NoteLX. p. 191* 

I HAVE referred the reader to sereral of the authors 
-who describe the most uncivilked nations in America. 
Their testimony 18 uniform. That of P. Bibas concer- 
ning the people of Cinaloa, coincides with the rest. *^ I 
was extremdly attentiye (says he), daring the years I 
^ resided among than, rto ascertain whether they were to 
he considered as idolaters ; and it may be affim^ed with 
the most perfect exactness, that though among some of 
them there may be traces of idolatry, yet others have 
not the least knowledge of iGod, or even of any false 
<deity, nor pay any formal adoration to the Supreme 
Being who exercises dominion over the world ; nor 
have they any conception of the providence of a Crea- 
tor or Governor, from whom they expect in t^e next 
life the reward of their ^ood, or the punishment of 
their evil deeds. Neither do they publicly join in 
any act of divine worship;" Ribas, Triumphos, &a 
p. 16. 

Note LXL p. 192. 

The people of Brasil were so *much affrighted by 
thunder, which is frequent and awful in their country, 
as well as in other parts of the torrid zone, that it was 
not only the object of religious reverence, but the 
most expressive name in their language for the Deity 
was Taupan^ the same by which they distinguished 
thunder. Piso de Medec. Brasil. p. 8. NieuhofF; 
Church. ColL ii. p. 132. 


NotE LXIL p. sou 

Bt die accoimC which M. Damont, En eye-witness, 
gives of the fiineral of the great ddef of the Natdiez, 
it ^)pean» that the feelings <fi the persons who sutfered 
on that occasion were very different. Some solicited 
the honour with eagerness ; others laboured to avoid 
their doom, and several saved their lives by flymg to 
the woods* As die Indian Brahmins give an intoxi«- 
eating draught to the wom^t who are to be burnt to- 
other with the bodies of their husbands, which ren* 
ders them insensible of their approaching fate, the 
Natchez obliged their victims to swallow several lar^e 
pills of tobacco, which produce a similar efifect. Mem. 
iie Louis, i. 227. 

Note LXIH. p. 210. 

On some occasions, particularly in dances instituted 
far the recovery of persons whp iire indisposed, they 
are extremely licentious and indecent. De la Potherie 
Hist &c. ii. p. 42. Charlev. N. Fr. iii. p. 319. But 
the nature of their dances is commonly such as I have 

Note LXIV. p. 212. 

TwE Othomacaas, a tribe seated on the 'banks of the 
Orinoco, employ for the same purpose a composition 
which they call Yupa* It is formed of the seeds of an 
unknown plant reduced to powder, and certain shells 

burnt and pulverized Tlie dSbCU of thi% irhieu drawB 
up into the nofitrilt, are so violent, that they resemble 
madness rather than intoxicattOD. . Gmnillay L 286. 

Now LXV. p* 21S. 

Tbovgu this observmtioii holds ime among the 
greater part of the ^soathem tribes, there ane some iA 
vfhkik the intemperance of the wonwn is as exisessive 
as that of the men. Bancroft's Nat Hist. o£ Guiana, 
p. 275. 

Nore LXVI. p. 232. 

£v£K in the most intelligent writers coneeitiing the 
manners of the Amerieans, one meets with inconsis^ 
Usxt and inexplicable circnmstanees. The Jesuit Char^- 
levoix, who, in consequence of the contmversy between 
his order and that of the Fnmciscaas, with respect to 
the talents and abilities of die North Amexicatis, is 
disposed to represent their intellectiial as well as moral 
qualities in the most favourable light, asserts, that 
they are engaged in continual negociations with their 
neighbours, and conduct these with the most refined 
address^ At the saipe time he adds, << that it behoves 
their envoys or plenipotentiaries to exert their abilities 
avd eloquence; for if the terms which they offer are 
not accepted of, they had need to stand on their 
guard. It frequently happ^s^ that a blow with a 
hatchet is the only return givai to their propoaitiotis. 
. The envoy is not out of danger, even if he is sofortu- 
jif^ as to avoid the stroke; be may expect to b^ pur- 



sued, and if Uken, to be burnt;'' Hist K Fr. iii. 351. 
. What .occurs, toL ii. p. 394. concerning the manner 
in which the Tlasealans treated the ambassadors firom 
Zempoalla, corresponds with the fact related by Char-, 
levoix. Men capable of such acts of violence, seem 
to be unacquainted with the first . principles upon 
which the intercourse between nations is founded; 
and instead of the perpetual negociations which Char- 
levcmc mentions, it seems almost impossible that there 
should be any correspondence whatever among diem. 

Note LXVII. p. 225. 

It is a remark of Tacitus concerning the Germans, 
<< Gaudent muneribus, sed nee data imputant, nee 
aoceptis obl^;antur ;'' C. 21. An author who had a 
good opportunity of observing the principle which 
leads savages neither to express gralitude for favours 
which diey had received, nor to expect any return for 
such as they bestowed, thus explains their ideas : << If, 
say they, you give me this, it is because you have no 
need of it yourself; and as for me, I never part with 
that which I think necessary to me." Memoire sur ies 
Galibis; Hist, des Plantes de k Giiiane Fran9oise par 
M. Aublet, tom. ii. p. 110. 

Note LXVIIL p. 241. 

Am). Bernalbes, the contemporary and friend of 
Columbus, has preserved some circumstances con- 
cerning the bravery of the Caribbees, which are not 
mentioned by Don Ferdinand Columbus, or the other 


iiistorians of that period^ wfacHie woiks have been 
published. A Caribbean canoe, with four men,, two 
women, and a boy, fell in unexpectedly with the fleet 
of Columbus in his second voyage, as it was steering 
through their islands. At first they were struck almost 
stupid with astonishment at such a strange spectacle, 
and hardly moved from the spot for above an hours^ 
A Spanish bark, with twenty-five men, advanced to^ 
wards ^em, and the fleet gradually surrounded them^ 
so as to cut off their communication with the shore. 
<^ When they saw that it was impossible to escape 
(says the historian), they seized their arms with un- 
daunted resolution, and began the attack. I use the 
expression, with undaunted resolution^ for they were 
few, and beheld a vast number ready to assault them. 
They wounded jseverai of the Spaniards, although 
they had targets, as well as other defensive armour ; 
and even after their canoe was overset, it was with no 
little difficulty and danger that part of them were 
taken, as they continued to defend themselves, and to 
use their bows with great d^cterity while swimming in 
the sea;" Hist, de D. Fern, y Ysab. MSS, c. 119. 

Note LXIX. p. 24fl. 

A PBOBABLE conjecture may be formed with respect 
to the cause of the distinctioil in character between the 
Caribbees and the inhabitants of the larger islands. 
The former appear manifestly to be a separate race. 
Their langu£^e is totally difierent from that of thmr 
neighbours in the large islands. They themselves have 
a tradition, that their ancestors came originally from 
some part of the continent, and having conquered and 



extennmated the anoient iniiabitant% took possesiion 
of their lands, and of their women. Rochefort, 384. 
TertK^ 566. Hence they call themsdiTes Ba/mtree^ 
which signifies, a man come from beyond sea. Labat. 
vi. ISI. Accordingly, the Caribbees still nse two 
disttiict languages, one peculiar to the men, and the 
other to the women. Tertre, S6i. The language of 
the men has nothing commoB with that Bpohok in the 
large islands. The dialect of the wom» consUerably 
resembles it. Labat. 1S9. This strongly confirms the 
tradition which I have mentioned. The Caribbees 
themselires imagine, that they were a colony from the 
GaliUSf a powerfid nation of Ouiana, in South Ame- 
rica. Tertre, 561. Rochefort, S48. But as their 
fierce manners apjMroach nearer to those of the people 
in the northern continent, than to those of the natives 
of South America ; and as their language has likewise 
some affinity to that spoken in Florida, their origin 
should be deduced rather fitim the fi>rmer than from 
the latter. Labat. 128, &c. Herrera, dec. i. lib. ix. 
c. 4. In their. wars, they still observe their ancient 
practice of destroying all the males^ and preserving the 
womei;:! either for servitude or for breeding. 

Note LXX. p. 243. 

Our knowledge of die events which happened in 
the conquest of New Spain, is derived fcatn sources of 
information more original and audientic than that of 
any transaction in the history of America. The letters 
of Cortes to the Emperor Charles V. are an historical 
monument, not only first in order of time, but of the 
greatest authenticity and lvalue. As Cortes early as- 


fttmed a ccHiiiiiiind independent of Velasquez, it be- 
came necemtary to convey such an account of his 
operations to Madrid, as might procure him the ap*- 
probation of his sovereign. 

Th£ first of his despatches has never been made 
public. It was s^t from Vera Cru2, July 16. 1519. 
As I imagined that it might not r^ch the Emperor 
until he arrived in Germany) for which he set out 
«arly in the year 151^0 in order to receive the Imperial 
crown, I made diligent search for a copy of this des- 
patch, both in Spain and in Germany, but without 
success* This, however, is of less consequence) as it 
'could not contain any thing very material, bdng writ- 
ten so soon after Cortes arrived in New Spain. But, 
in searching for the letter from Cortes, a copy of one 
from the colony of Vera Cruz to the Emperor has been 
discovered in the Imperial library at Vienna. Of this 
I have given some account in its pr<:^er place, p. 285. 
of this volume. The second deiq>atch, dated October 
50. 1520, was published at Seville, a. d. 1522, and 
the third and fourth soon after they were received. A 
Latin translation of them appeared in Germany, a. n. 
1532. Ramusio soon after made them more generally 
known, by inserting them in his valuable collection. 
They contain a regular and minute history 6f the ex- 
pedition, with tnaity curious ptlrticulars concerning the 
policy and manners of the Mexicans. l1)e work does 
honour to Cortes; the style is simple and perspicuous; 
but as it was manifestly his interest to represent his 
own actions in the fairest light, bis victories are pro- 
bably exaggerated, his losses diminished^ and his acts 
0f rigour and violence softened. 


The next in order is the Cronica de la Nueva 
Espagna, by Francisco Lopez de Gomara, published 
A* o. 1554. Gomara's historical merit is considerable. 
His mode of narration is clear, flowing, always agree- 
able, and sometimes elegant. But he is frequently in- 
' accurate and credulous; and as he was the domestic * 
chaplain of Cortes after his return from New Spain, 
and probably composed his work at his desire, it is 
muiifest that he labours to magnify the merit of his 
hero, and to conceal or extenuate such transactions 
418 were un&vourable to his character. Of this Her- 
rera accuses him in one instance, Dec. 2. lib. iii. c. 2. 
and it is not once only that this is conspicuous. He 
writes, however, with so much freedom concerning 
several measures of the Spanish court, that the copies 
both of his Historia de las Indias, and of his Cronica, 
were called in by decree of the Council of the Indies, 
and they were long considered as prohibited books jn 
Spain ; it is only of late that license to print them has 
been granted. Pinelo, Biblioth. 58j9. 

The Chronicle dT Gomara induced Bemal Diaz 
del Castillo to compose his Historia Verdadera de la 
Conquista de la Nueva Espagna. He had been an 
adventurer in each of the expeditions to New Spain, 
and was the companion of Cortes in all his battles and 
perils. When he found that neither he himself, nor 
many of his fellow-soldiers, were once mentioned by 
Gomara, but that the fame of all their exploits was 
ascribed to Cortes, the gallant vet^an laid hold of his 
pen with indignation, and composed his true history. 
It contains a prolix, minute,^ confused narrative of all 
Cortes's operations, in such a rude vulgar style as 
might be expected from an illiterate soldier. But as 


he relates transactions of which he was witness, and in 
which he performed a considerable part, his account 
bears all the marks of authenticity, and is accompanied 
with such a pleasant naivete^ with such interesting de- 
tails, with such amusing vanity, and yet so pardonaUe 
in an old soldier who had been (as he boasts) in a 
hundred and nineteen batdes, as renders bis book <me 
of the most singular that is to be found in any lan- 

Pet. Martyr ab Angleria, in a treatise De Insulis 
nuper inventis, added to his Decades .de Rebus Ocea- 
nicis et Novo Orbe, gives some account of Cortes's 
expedition. But he proceeds no farther than to relate 
what happened after his first landing. This work, 
which is brief and sligh^ seems to contain the infor- 
mation transmitted by Cortes in his first despatches, 
embellished with several particulars communicated to 
the author by the officers who brought the letters from 

But the book to which the greater part of modeni 
historians have had recourse for information concern- 
ing the conquest of Kew Spain, is Historia de la 
Conquista de Mexico, por D. Antonio de Solis, first 
published a. d. 1684. I know no author in any lan- 
guage whose literary fame has risen so far beyond his 
real merit. De Solis is reckoned by his countrymen 
one of the purest writers in the Castilian tongue ; and 
if a foreigner may venture to give his opinion concern- 
ing a matter of whidbi Spaniards alone are qualified 
to judge, he is entitled to that praise. But though his 
language be correct, his taste in composition is far 
from being just. His periods are so much laboured 


fts to be often bUS, and sometimei tnmid ; the %«fei 
which he employs by way of ornament are Ireqaenl2y 
trite or improper, and his observations sop^-fidaL 
These blemishes, however, might ea^Iy be overlookedf 
if he were not defective with respect to all the great 
qualities of an historian. Destitute of that patient iu'^ 
dustry in research whidi conducts to the knowledge of 
truth ; a stranger to that impartiality which weighs 
evidence with cool attention ; and ever eager to esta* . 
blish his favourite system of exalting the character of 
Cortcu into that of a perfect hero, exempt from error, 
and adorned with every virtue ; he is l^ss solicitous to 
discover what was true than to relate what might ap- 
pear splendid. When he attempts any critic^ dis* 
cussion, his reasonings are fallacious, and founded 
upon an imperfect view of %;ts* Though he some** 
times quotes the despatches of Cortes, he seems not to 
have consulted them ; and though he sets out with 
some censure on Gbmara, he frequently prefers his 
authority, the most doubtful of any, to dnit of the 
other contemporary historians. 
But of all the Spanish writers, Herrera furnishes 
the fullest and most accurate information concerning 
the conquest of Mexico, a^ well as every other transac- 
tion of America. The industry and attention idth 
which he consulted not only the books, but the origin 
nal papers and public records, which tended to throw 
any light up<m the subject of his inquiries were so 
great, and he usually judges of the evidence before 
him with so much impartiality mxd candour» that his 
Decads may be ranked among the most judicious and 
useful historical collections. If, by attempting to re» 
late the various occurrences in the New World in a 


strict chronological order, the arrangement of events 
in his work had not been rendered so perplexM, dis- 
connected, and obscure, that it is an unpleasant task 
to collect from d^rent parts of his book, and piece 
together the detached shreds of a story, he might justly 
have been ranked among the most eminent historians 
of his country. He gives an account of (iie materials 
from which he composed his work, Decad. 6. lib. iii. 
c. 1^. 

Note LXXL p. 246. 

Cortes purposed to have gone in the train of Ovan- 
do when he set out for his government in the year. 
1502, but was detained by an accident. As he was 
attempting in a dark night to scramble up to the win- 
dow of a lady's bed-chamber, with whcxn he carried 
on an intrigue, an old waU, on the top of which he 
had mounted, gave way, and he was so much bruised 
by the &11 as to be unfit for the voyage. Gomara» 
Cronica de la Nueva Espagna, cap. 1. 

NoTjiLXXIL p. £49. 

Cqrtbs had two thousand pesos in the hands of 
Andrew Duero, and he borron^ fcmr tfaoasaii^ 
These sums are dbout equal in value to fifteen hnn«- 
dred pounds sterling ; but -as the porice of 'C^eiy thing 
was extrevoely bi^ in America, they made but a scasK 
ty stock when applied towards the equipment of a mir 
litary wpedition. Herrera, dec. 2. Wa. iii. c. 2. B. 
Diftj, c. 90. 

46 - 


Note LXXIII. p- 254. 

The names of those gfdlant officers, which will often 
occur in the subsequ^it story, were Juan Velasquez de 
Lecm, Alooso Hernandez Portocarrero, Francisco de 
Montejo, Christoval de Olid, Juan de Escalante^ Fran- 
cisco de Morla, Pedro de Alvarado, Francisco de 
Salceda, Juan de Escobar, Gines de Nortes. Cortes 
himself commanded the Capitana, or Admiral. Fran* 
Cisco de Orozco, an officer formed in the wars of Italy, 
had the command of the artillery* The experienced 
Alaminos acted as chief pilot* 

Note LXXIV. p. 257. 

In those different cdnflicts, the Spaniards lost only 
two men, but had a considerable number wounded* 
Though there be no occasion for recourse to any. su- 
pernatural cause to account either for the greatness oi 
their victories or the smallness of their loss, the l^»a- 
nish historians fail not to ascribe both to the patro- 
nage €& St Jago, the tutelar saint of their country, 
who, as they relate, fought at the head of their coun- 
trymen, and by his prowess gave a turn to the fate of 
the battle* . Gomara is the first who mentions this 
apparition of St James. It is amusing to observe the 
embarrassment of B* Diaz del Castillo, occasioned by 
the stru^le between his superstition and bis veracity. 
The former disposed him to believe this miracle, the 
latter re^ti^ined him from attesting it* ^< I acknow- 
ledge," says he, « that all our exploits and victories 
are owing to our Lord Jesus Christ, and that in this 


battle there wa& such a number of Indians to every 
one of us, that if each had thrown a handful of earth 
they might have buried us, if by the great mercy of 
God we had not been protected. It may be that the 
person whom Oomara mentions as having appeared 
on a mottled grey horse, was the glorious apostle Sig* 
nor San Jago or Signor San Pedro, and that I, as 
being a sinner, was not worthy to see him. This I 
know, that I saw Francisco de Morla on such a horsey 
bul^ as an unworthy transgressor, did not deserve to 
see any of the holy apostles. It may have been the 
will of Crod that it was so as Gomara relates, but until 
I read his Chronicle I never heard among any of the 
conquerors that such a thing had happen^" Cap* 

Note LXXV. p. 264. 

Sevebal Spanish historians relate this occurrence 
in such terms as if they wished it should be believed, 
that the Indians, loaded with the presents, had carried 
them from the capital in the same short space of time 
that the couriers performed that journey. This is in- 
credible, and Gomara mentiwis a circumstance which 
shows that nothing extraordinary happened on this 
occasion. This rich present had been prepared for 
Grijalva, when he touched at th^ same place some 
months before, and was now ready to be delivered, as 
soon as Montezuma sent orders for that purpose. Go- 
mara, Cron. c. xxvii. p. 28. 

According to B. Diaz del Castillo, the value of the 
silver plate representing the moon, was alone above 
VOL. II. D d 



twenty thousand pesos, about five thousand pounds 

Note LXXVL p. 271. 

This private trafSc ivas directly contrary to flie 
instructions of Velasquez, who enjoined, that what- 
ever was acquired by trade should be thrown faito the 
common stock. But it appears, that the soldiers had 
each a private assortment of toys, and other goods 
proper for the Indian trade, and Cortes gained their 
favour by encouraging this under-hand barter. B. 
Diaz, c. 41. 

Note LXXVII. p. 287. 

GoMARA has published a catalogue of the various 
articles of which this present consisted. Cron. c. 49. 
P. Mart}rr ab Angleria, who saw them after they weie 
brought to %>ain, and who seems to have examined 
them with great attenlicHi, gives a description of each, 
which is curious, as it conveys some idea of the pro- 
gress which the Mexicans had made in several arts of 
elegance. De InsuMs niqper inventiS| p. 554, &c. 

Note LXXVIIL p. 295. 

There is no circumstance in the history of the 
conquest of America which is more questionably than 
die account of the numerous armies brought into the 


£eld against the Spaniards* As the war with the re- 
public of Tlascala, though of short duration, was one 
of the most considerable which the Spaniards waged 
in America^ the account given of the Tlascalan armies 
merits .some attention. The only (luthentic informa- 
tion concerning this, is derived from three authors. 
Cdrtes, in his second despatch to the Emperor, dated 
at Segura de la Frontera, October SO. 1520, thus esti- 
mates the number of their troops : In the first battle 
6000; in the second battle 100^000; in the third 
battle 150,000. Relat ap. Ramus, iii. 228. Bernal 
Diaz del Castillo, who was an €^e-witnes8^ an4 en- 
gaged in all the actions of this war, thus reckons their 
numbers : in the first battle 3000, p. 43. ; in the second 
battle 6000, ibid. ; in the third battle 50,000, p. 45* 
Gomara, who was Cortes's chaplain after his return to 
Spain, and published his Cfonipa in 1552, follows the 
computatioii of Cortes, except in the second battle, 
wh^re he reckons the TlascaUi^s i^ 80,000, p. 49. It 
was manifestly the interest jo£ Cortes to magnify his 
own daAgers and exploits. For it was only by t^e 
merit of extraordinary servi^i^es, that he could hope 
to atone for his irregular conduct in assuming an in- 
dependent command. B. Diaz, though abimdantly dis- 
posed io place his own prowes$, and that of his fellow- 
conquerors, in the most advantageous point of lights 
had not the same temptation to exaggerate; and it 
is probable that his account of the numbers approaches 
nearer to the truth. The assembling of an army of 
150,000 men require many previous arrangements, 
and such provisions for their subsistence as seems to 
be beyond the foresight of Americans. The degree 
of cultivation in Tlascala does not seem to have been 
so great, as to have furnished such a vast army with 


provisions. Though this province was so much better 
cultivated than other r^ons of New Spain, that it 
was called tke country of breads yet the Spaniards in 
their march suffered such want^ that they were obliged 
to subsist npon^Tunas, a species of fruit which grows 
wild in the I fields. Herr^ra, dec. ii. lib. vi. c« 5» p. 

IToTE LXXIX. p. sal. 

These unhappy victims are Said to be persons of dis- 
. tinction. It seems improbable that «o great a number 
as fifty shpuld be employed as spies. So many pri- 
smiere had been taken iuul dkumss^ and the Tlaaca-^ 
lans had sent so many messages to the Spanish quarters, 
that there appears to be no reason for hazarding the 
lives of so many considerable people, in order to pro* 
cure information about the position and state of their 
camp. The baibarous manner in which Cortes treated 
a people unacquakited with the laws of war established 
amcMig polished nations, appears -so shocking to the 
later Spanish wrfters» that they diminish the number 
of those whom he puniidied «o -cruelly. Herrera says, 
that he cut off the hands o( seven, and the thumbs of 
some more ; Dee. ii. lib. ii. c. 8. De Solis rdates, that 
the hands of fourteen or fifteen were cut off, and the 
thumbs of all the rest; Lib. ii. c. 20. But Cortes 
himself, Relat. p. 228. b. and after him Gomara, c. 48. 
^rm, that the hands of all the fifty were cut off. 


Note LXXX. p. S04, 

The horses were objects of the greatest astonish*- 
m^t to all the people of New S^ain. At first they 
imagined the horse and his rider, like the Centaurs of 
the ancients, to be some monstrous animal of a terrible 
form ; and supposing that their food was the same as 
that of men, brought flesh and bread to nourish them« 
Even after thejr' discovered their mistake, they believed 
the horses devoured men in battle, and when they 
neighed, thought diat they were demanding their 
prey. It was not the interest of the Spaniards to 
amdeceive them. Herrera, dec. ii. lib. vi. ell. 

Note LXXXI. p. SIO. 

According to Bart, de las Casas, there was no rea- 
son for this massacre, and it was an act of wanton 
cruelty, perpetrated merely to strike terror into the 
people of New Spain. Relac. de la Destruyc. p. 17. 
Ac. But the zeal of Las Casas often leads him to ex- 
aggerate. In opposition to him, Bern. DiaZj c. 83. 
asserts, that the first missionaries sent into New Spain 
by the Emperor made a judicial inquiry into this tran- 
saction ; and having examined the priests and elders of 
Choltila, found that there was-a real conspiracy to cut 
off the Spaniards, and that the account given by Cortes 
*was exactly true. As it was the object of Cortes at that 
time, and manifestly his interest, to gainr the good-will 
of Montesuma, it is improbable that he should have 
taken a step which tended so visibly to alienate him 
from the Spaniards, if he had not believed it to be ne* 


cessary for his own pr^ervation. At the same time^ the 
Spaniards who served in America had such contempt 
for the natives, and thought them so little entitled to 
the common rights of men, that Cortes might hold the 
Cholulans to be guilty upon slight and imperfect evi- , 
4ence. The severity of the punishmept was certainly 
excessive and atrocious. 

Note LXXXIL p. 312. 

This description is taken almost literaUy from Ber- 
nal Diaz del Castillo, who was so unacquainted with th^ 
art of composition, as to be incapable of embellishing 
his narrative* He relates in a simple and rude style 
what passed in his own mind, and that of his fellow- 
soldiers, on that occasion ; *^ and let it not be thought 
strange," says he, ^^ that I should write in this manner 
of what then happened; for it oii^ht to be considered, 
that it is one thing to relate, another to have beheld 
things that were never before seen, or h^rd, or spoken 
of among men.'' Cap. 86. p. 64. b. 

Note LXXXIII. p. 327. 

B. Diaz del Castillo gives us some idea of the fatigue 
and hardships they underwent in performing this, and 
other parts of duty. During the nine months that they 
remained in Mexico, every man, without any distincticffi 
between officers and soldiers, slept on his arms in his 
quilted jacket and gorget. They lay on mats, or straw 
spread on the floor, and each was obliged to hold him* 
self as alert as if he had been on guard. << This,'* adds 


be^ ^ became so habitaal to me, that even now, in my 
advanced age, I always sleep in my clothes, and never 
in any bed. When I visit my Encomienday I reckon 
it suitable to my rank to have a bed carried along 
with my other baggage, but I never go into it; but, 
according to custom, I He in my clothes, and walk fre* 
quently during the night into the open air to view the 
stars, as I was wont when in service." Cap. 108. 

NoteLXXXIV. p. 331. 

Cortes himself, in his second despatch to the Em^ 
peror, does net explain the motives which induced him 
either to condemn Qualpopoca to the flames, or to put 
Montezuma in irons. Ramus, iii. 236. B.' Diaz is 
silent with respect to his reasons for the former ; and 
the only cause he assigns for the latter was, that he 
might meet with no interruption in executing the sen-' 
tence pronounced against QuaIp(^)oca; c. xcv. p. 75. 
But as Montezuma was his prisoner, and absolutely in 
his power, he had no reason to dread him ; and the in- 
sult offered to that monarch could have no effect but 
to irritate him unnecessarily. Oomara supposes that 
Cortes had no other object than to occupy Montezuma 
Mrith hiaown distress and sufferings, that he might give 
less attention to what befel Qualpopoca ; Cron. c. 89. 
Herrera adopts the same opinion ; Dec. ii. lib. viii. <j. 9. 
Bet it seems ah odd expedient, in order to make a per- 
son bear one injury, to load him with another that is 
greater* De Solis imagines, that Cortes had nothing 
else in view than to intimidate Montezuma, so that he 
might make no attempt to rescue the victims from their 
fate ; but the spirit of that monarch was so submissive, 



and be bad so tamely gi^en^ iip^ tbe priscHiers to tbe 
.disposal of Cortes, tbat he had no cause to apprehend 
any cqf)position from him.. If the explanation which I 
have attempted to fi^e of Cortes's proceedings on this 
occasioU'be not admitted, it appears to me, that therjr 
must be reckoned among the wanton and barbarous, 
acts of oppression which occur too often in the history 
of the conquest of America. 

Note LXXXV. p. 3S5. 

De SoLis asserts, lib. ir. c. S. that the proposition^ 
of doing homa^ to th& Kin£ of .%)ain came from 
Montezuma himself, and was made in order to induce 
the Spaniards to depart out of his dominions. He de- 
scribes his conduct on this occasion, as if it had been 
founded upon a scheme of profound policy, and exe- 
cuted with such refined address as to deceive Cortes 
himself. But there is no hint, or circumstance in th^. 
C(mtemporary historians^ Cortes, Diaz, or Gomara, to 
justify this theory. Montezuma^ on other occasions,, 
discovered no such extent o£ art and abilities.. The 
anguish which he felt in performing this humbling 
ceremony jis natural, if we suppose it to have beep in* 
voluntary. But, according to the theory of De Solis^ 
which sui^ses that Montezuma was executing what 
he himself had proposed, to have assumed an appear- 
ance of sorrow would have been preposterous, and 
inconsistent with his <Mvn design of deceiving the 


Nora LXXXVL p- SS9. 

In several of die proviticeiE^ the Spaniards, with all 
their industry and influence, could collect no gold. In 
others, they procured only a few trinkets of small value. 
Montezuma assured Cortes, that the present which he 
offered to the King of Castile, after doing homage, con- 
sisted of all the treasure amassed by his father ; and 
told him that he had already distributed the rest of his 
gold and jewek among the Spaniards. B. Diaz, c. 104. 
Gomara relates, that all the silver collected amounted 
to 500 marks. Cron. c. 93. This agrees with the ac- 
count given by Cortes, that the royal fifth of silver was 
100 mnrlcfi^ Relat 339. B. So that the sum total of 
silver was Only 4000 ounces, at the rate of eight ounces 
a mark, which demonstrates the proportion of silver to 
gold to have been exceedingly small. 

NoteLXXXVII. P.S40.' 

D£ Sous, lib. iv. c. 1. calk in question the truth of 
tkus transaction, from no bett^ reason than that it was 
fnoonsistent with that prudence which distinguishes 
the character of Cortes. But he ought to have re* 
collected the impetuosity of his zeal at Tiascala, which 
Was no less imprudent. He asserts, that the evidence 
for it rests upon the testimony of B. Diaz del Castillo, 
of Gk>niara, and of Herrera. They all concur, indeed^ 
in meiitioniBg this incondderate step which Cortes 
took; and they had good reason to do so, for Cortes 
himself relates this ^Lploit in his secpnd 'despatch to 
the Emperor, and seems to glory in it. Cort. Relate 

VOL. ir. E e 


Ramus, iii. 140. D. This is one instance, among 
many, of De Solis's having consulted with little atten- 
tion the letters of Corses to Charles V., from which 
the most authentic^ information with r^peet to his 
operations must be derived. 

Note LXXXVIII. p. 345. 

Herbera and De Solis suppose that Velasquez was 
encouraged to equip this armament against Cortes by 
the accounts which he received from Spain concerning 
the reception of the agents sent by the colony of Vera 
Cruzy and the warmth with which Fonseca, Bishop of 
Burgos, had espoused his interest, ^nd condfimiuad the 
proceedings of Cortes. Herrera, dec. 2. lib. ix. c. 18. 
De Solis, lib. iv. c. 5. But the chronological order of 
events refutes this supposition. Portocarrero and 
Montejo sailed from Vera Cruz, July 26. 1519. Her- 
rera, dec. 2. lib. v. c. 4. They landed at St Lucar in 
October, according to Herrera, Ibid. But P. Martyr^ 
who attended the court at that time, and communicat- 
ed every occurrence of moment to his correspondents 
day by day, mentions, the arrival of these agents for 
the first time in December, and speaks of it as a recent 
event. , Epist. 650. . All the historians agree^ that the 
agents of Cortes had their first audience of the Empe- 
ror at Tordesillas, when he went to that ;town to visit 
his mother in his way to St Jago de Compostelhu 
Herrera, dec 2. lib. v. c. 4. De Solis, lib. iv. c. 5. 
But the Emperor set out from VaUadoUd for Torde^ 
sillas on the Ilth of Mardi 1520; and P. Martyr 
mentions his having seen at that time the presents 
made to Charles, Epist. 665. The armament under 


Narvaez sailed from Cuba in April 1520. It is mani- 
fest then that Velasquez could not receive any account 
of what passed in this interview ad: Tordesillas, previous 
to his hostile preparations against Cortes. His real 
motives seem to b^ those which I have mentioned. 
The patent appointing him Adelantado of New Spain, 
with such extensive powers, bears d^te November IS. 
1519. Herrera, dec. 2. lib. iii. c. II. He might re- 
ceive it about the beginning of January. Gomara 
takes notice, that as soon as this patent was delivered 
to him, he began to equip a fleet and levy forces. 
Cron. c. 96. 


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