In this general wreck of their fortunes, Francisco de Carbajal fared no better than his chief. As he saw the soldiers deserting their posts and going over to the enemy, one after another, he coolly hummed the words of his favorite old ballad,—
"The wind blows the hairs off my head, mother!"
But when he found the field nearly empty, and his stout-hearted followers vanished like a wreath of smoke, he felt it was time to provide for his own safety. He knew there could be no favor for him; and, putting spurs to his horse, he betook himself to flight with all the speed he could make. He crossed the stream that flowed, as already mentioned, by the camp, but, in scaling the opposite bank, which was steep and stony, his horse, somewhat old, and oppressed by the weight of his rider, who was large and corpulent, lost his footing and fell with him into the water. Before he could extricate himself, Carbajal was seized by some of his own followers, who hoped, by such a prize, to make their peace with the victor, and hurried off towards the president's quarters.
The convoy was soon swelled by a number of the common file from the royal army, some of whom had long arrears to settle with the prisoner; and, not content with heaping reproaches and imprecations on his head, they now threatened to proceed to acts of personal violence, which Carbajal, far from deprecating, seemed rather to court, as the speediest way of ridding himself of life.35 When he approached the president's quarters, Centeno, who was near, rebuked the disorderly rabble, and compelled them to give way. Carbajal, on seeing this, with a respectful air demanded to whom he was indebted for this courteous protection. To which his ancient comrade replied, "Do you not know me? Diego Centeno!" "I crave your pardon," said the veteran, sarcastically alluding to his long flight in the Charcas, and his recent defeat at Huarina; "it is so long since I have seen any thing but your back, that I had forgotten your face!" 36
Among the president's suite was the martial bishop of Cuzco, who, it will be remembered, had shared with Centeno in the disgrace of his defeat. His brother had been taken by Carbajal, in his flight from the field, and instantly hung up by that fierce chief, who, as we have had more than one occasion to see, was no respecter of persons. The bishop now reproached him with his brother's murder, and, incensed by his cool replies, was ungenerous enough to strike the prisoner on the face. Carbajal made no attempt at resistance. Nor would he return a word to the queries put to him by Gasca; but, looking haughtily round on the circle, maintained a contemptuous silence. The president, seeing that nothing further was to be gained from his captive, ordered him, together with Acosta, and the other cavaliers who had surrendered, into strict custody, until their fate should be decided.37
Gasca's next concern was to send an officer to Cuzco, to restrain his partisans from committing excesses in consequence of the late victory, if victory that could be called, where not a blow had been struck. Every thing belonging to the vanquished, their tents, arms, ammunition, and military stores, became the property of the victors. Their camp was well victualled, furnishing a seasonable supply to the royalists, who had nearly expended their own stock of provisions. There was, moreover, considerable booty in the way of plate and money; for Pizarro's men, as was not uncommon in those turbulent times, went, many of them, to the war with the whole of their worldly wealth, not knowing of any safe place in which to bestow it. An anecdote is told of one of Gasca's soldiers, who, seeing a mule running over the field, with a large pack on his back, seized the animal, and mounted him, having first thrown away the burden, supposing it to contain armour, or something of little worth. Another soldier, more shrewd, picked up the parcel, as his share of the spoil, and found it contained several thousand gold ducats! It was the fortune of war.38
Thus terminated the battle, or rather rout, of Xaquixaguana. The number of killed and wounded—for some few perished in the pursuit-was not great; according to most accounts, not exceeding fifteen killed on the rebel side, and one only on that of the royalists! and that one by the carelessness of a comrade.39 Never was there a cheaper victory; so bloodless a termination of a fierce and bloody rebellion! It was gained not so much by the strength of the victors as by the weakness of the vanquished. They fell to pieces of their own accord, because they had no sure ground to stand on. The arm, not nerved by the sense of right, became powerless in the hour of battle. It was better that they should thus be overcome by moral force than by a brutal appeal to arms. Such a victory was more in harmony with the beneficent character of the conqueror and of his cause. It was the triumph of order; the best homage to law and justice.
Execution Of Carbajal—Gonzalo Pizarro Beheaded—Spoils Of Victory- Wise Reforms By Gasca—He Returns To Spain- His Death And Character
It was now necessary to decide on the fate of the prisoners; and Alonso de Alvarado, with the Licentiate Cianca, one of the new Royal Audience, was instructed to prepare the process. It did not require a long time. The guilt of the prisoners was too manifest, taken, as they had been, with arms in their hands. They were all sentenced to be executed, and their estates were confiscated to the use of the Crown. Gonzalo Pizarro was to be beheaded, and Carbajal to be drawn and quartered. No mercy was shown to him who had shown none to others. There was some talk of deferring the execution till the arrival of the troops in Cuzco; but the fear of disturbances from those friendly to Pizarro determined the president to carry the sentence into effect the following day, on the field of battle.1
When his doom was communicated to Carbajal, he heard it with his casual indifference. "They can but kill me," he said, as if he had already settled the matter in his own mind.2 During the day, many came to see him in his confinement; some to upbraid him with his cruelties; but most, from curiosity to see the fierce warrior who had made his name so terrible through the land. He showed no unwillingness to talk with them, though it was in those sallies of caustic humor in which he usually indulged at the expense of his hearer. Among these visitors was a cavalier of no note, whose life, it appears, Carbajal had formerly spared, when in his power. This person expressed to the prisoner his strong desire to serve him; and as he reiterated his professions, Carbajal cut them short by exclaiming,—"And what service can you do me? Can you set me free? If you cannot do that, you can do nothing. If I spared your life, as you say, it was probably because I did not think it worth while to take it."
Some piously disposed persons urged him to see a priest, if it were only to unburden his conscience before leaving the world. "But of what use would that be?" asked Carbajal. "I have nothing that lies heavy on my conscience, unless it be, indeed, the debt of half a real to a shopkeeper in Seville, which I forgot to pay before leaving the country!" 3
He was carried to execution on a hurdle, or rather in a basket, drawn by two mules. His arms were pinioned, and, as they forced his bulky body into this miserable conveyance, he exclaimed,—-"Cradles for infants, and a cradle for the old man too, it seems!" 4 Notwithstanding the disinclination he had manifested to a confessor, he was attended by several ecclesiastics on his way to the gallows; and one of them repeatedly urged him to give some token of penitence at this solemn hour, if it were only by repeating the Pater Noster and Ave Maria. Carbajal, to rid himself of the ghostly father's importunity, replied by coolly repeating the words, "Pater Noster," "Ave Maria"! He then remained obstinately silent. He died, as he had lived, with a jest, or rather a scoff, upon his lips.5
Francisco de Carbajal was one of the most extraordinary characters of these dark and turbulent times; the more extraordinary from his great age; for, at the period of his death, he was in his eighty-fourth year;—an age when the bodily powers, and, fortunately, the passions, are usually blunted; when, in the witty words of the French moralist, "We flatter ourselves we are leaving our vices, whereas it is our vices that are leaving us." 6 But the fires of youth glowed fierce and unquenchable in the bosom of Carbajal.
The date of his birth carries us back towards the middle of the fifteenth century, before the times of Ferdinand and Isabella. He was of obscure parentage, and born, as it is said, at Arevalo. For forty years he served in the Italian wars, under the most illustrious captains of the day, Gonsalvo de Cordova, Navarro, and the Colonnas. He was an ensign at the battle of Ravenna; witnessed the capture of Francis the First at Pavia; and followed the banner of the ill-starred Bourbon at the sack of Rome. He got no gold for his share of the booty, on this occasion, but simply the papers of a notary's office, which, Carbajal shrewdly thought, would be worth gold to him. And so it proved; for the notary was fain to redeem them at a price which enabled the adventurer to cross the seas to Mexico, and seek his fortune in the New World. On the insurrection of the Peruvians, he was sent to the support of Francis Pizarro, and was rewarded by that chief with a grant of land in Cuzco. Here he remained for several years, busily employed in increasing his substance; for the love of lucre was a ruling passion in his bosom. On the arrival of Vaca de Castro, we find him doing good service under the royal banner; and at the breaking out of the great rebellion under Gonzalo Pizarro, he converted his property into gold, and prepared to return to Castile. He seemed to have a presentiment that to remain where he was would be fatal. But, although he made every effort to leave Peru, he was unsuccessful, for the viceroy had laid an embargo on the shipping.7 He remained in the country, therefore, and took service, as we have seen, though reluctantly, under Pizarro. It was his destiny.
The tumultuous life on which he now entered roused all the slumbering passions of his soul, which lay there, perhaps unconsciously to himself; cruelty, avarice, revenge. He found ample exercise for them in the war with his countrymen; for civil war is proverbially the most sanguinary and ferocious of all. The atrocities recorded of Carbajal, in his new career, and the number of his victims, are scarcely credible. For the honor of humanity, we may trust the accounts are greatly exaggerated; but that he should have given rise to them at all is sufficient to consign his name to infamy.8
He even took a diabolical pleasure, it is said, in amusing himself with the sufferings of his victims, and in the hour of execution would give utterance to frightful jests, that made them taste more keenly the bitterness of death! He had a sportive vein, if such it could be called, which he freely indulged on every occasion. Many of his sallies were preserved by the soldiery; but they are, for the most part, of a coarse, repulsive character, flowing from a mind familiar with the weak and wicked side of humanity, and distrusting every other. He had his jest for every thing,—for the misfortunes of others, and for his own. He looked on life as a farce,—though he too often made it a tragedy.
Carbajal must be allowed one virtue; that of fidelity to his party. This made him less tolerant to perfidy in others. He was never known to show mercy to a renegade. This undeviating fidelity, though to a bad cause, may challenge something like a feeling of respect, where fidelity was so rare.9
As a military man, Carbajal takes a high rank among the soldiers of the New World. He was strict, even severe, in enforcing discipline, so that he was little loved by his followers. Whether he had the genius for military combinations requisite for conducting war on an extended scale may be doubted; but in the shifts and turns of guerilla warfare he was unrivalled. Prompt, active, and persevering, he was insensible to danger or fatigue, and, after days spent in the saddle, seemed to attach little value to the luxury of a bed.10
He knew familiarly every mountain pass, and, such were the sagacity and the resources displayed in his roving expeditions, that he was vulgarly believed to be attended by a familiar.11 With a character so extraordinary, with powers prolonged so far beyond the usual term of humanity, and passions so fierce in one tottering on the verge of the grave, it was not surprising that many fabulous stories should be eagerly circulated respecting him, and that Carbajal should be clothed with mysterious terrors as a sort of supernatural being,—the demon of the Andes!
Very different were the circumstances attending the closing scene of Gonzalo Pizarro. At his request, no one had been allowed to visit him in his confinement. He was heard pacing his tent during the greater part of the day, and when night came, having ascertained from Centeno that his execution was to take place on the following noon, he laid himself down to rest. He did not sleep long, however, but soon rose, and continued to traverse his apartment, as if buried in meditation, till dawn. He then sent for a confessor, and remained with him till after the hour of noon, taking little or no refreshment. The officers of justice became impatient; but their eagerness was sternly rebuked by the soldiery, many of whom, having served under Gonzalo's banner, were touched with pity for his misfortunes.
When the chieftain came forth to execution, he showed in his dress the same love of magnificence and display as in happier days. Over his doublet he wore a superb cloak of yellow velvet, stiff with gold embroidery, while his head was protected by a cap of the same materials, richly decorated, in like manner, with ornaments of gold.12 In this gaudy attire he mounted his mule, and the sentence was so far relaxed that his arms were suffered to remain unshackled. He was escorted by a goodly number of priests and friars, who held up the crucifix before his eyes, while he carried in his own hand an image of the Virgin. She had ever been the peculiar object of Pizarro's devotion; so much so, that those who knew him best in the hour of his prosperity were careful, when they had a petition, to prefer it in the name of the blessed Mary.
Pizarro's lips were frequently pressed to the emblem of his divinity, while his eyes were bent on the crucifix in apparent devotion, heedless of the objects around him. On reaching the scaffold, he ascended it with a firm step, and asked leave to address a few words to the soldiery gathered round it. "There are many among you," said he, "who have grown rich on my brother's bounty, and my own. Yet, of all my riches, nothing remains to me but the garments I have on; and even these are not mine, but the property of the executioner. I am without means, therefore, to purchase a mass for the welfare of my soul; and I implore you, by the remembrance of past benefits, to extend this charity to me when I am gone, that it may be well with you in the hour of death." A profound silence reigned throughout the martial multitude, broken only by sighs and groans, as they listened to Pizarro's request; and it was faithfully responded to, since, after his death, masses were said in many of the towns for the welfare of the departed chieftain.
Then, kneeling down before a crucifix placed on a table, Pizarro remained for some minutes absorbed in prayer; after which, addressing the soldier who was to act as the minister of justice, he calmly bade him "do his duty with a steady hand" He refused to have his eyes bandaged, and, bending forward his neck, submitted it to the sword of the executioner, who struck off the head with a single blow, so true that the body remained for some moments in the same erect posture as in life.13 The head was taken to Lima, where it was set in a cage or frame, and then fixed on a gibbet by the side of Carbajal's. On it was placed a label, bearing,-"This is the head of the traitor Gonzalo Pizarro, who rebelled in Peru against his sovereign, and battled in the cause of tyranny and treason against the royal standard in the valley of Xaquixaguana." 14 His large estates, including the rich mines in Potosi, were confiscated; his mansion in Lima was razed to the ground, the place strewed with salt, and a stone pillar set up, with an inscription interdicting any one from building on a spot which had been profaned by the residence of a traitor.
Gonzalo's remains were not exposed to the indignities inflicted on Carbajal's, whose quarters were hung in chains on the four great roads leading to Cuzco. Centeno saved Pizarro's body from being stripped, by redeeming his costly raiment from the executioner, and in this sumptuous shroud it was laid in the chapel of the convent of Our Lady of Mercy in Cuzco. It was the same spot where, side by side, lay the bloody remains of the Almagros, father and son, who in like manner had perished by the hand of justice, and were indebted to private charity for their burial. All these were now consigned "to the same grave," says the historian, with some bitterness, "as if Peru could not afford land enough for a burial- place to its conquerors." 15
Gonzalo Pizarro had reached only his forty-second year at the time of his death,—being just half the space allotted to his follower Carbajal. He was the youngest of the remarkable family to whom Spain was indebted for the acquisition of Peru. He came over to the country with his brother Francisco, on the return of the latter from his visit to Castile. Gonzalo was present in all the remarkable passages of the Conquest. He witnessed the seizure of Atahuallpa, took an active part in suppressing the insurrection of the Incas, and especially in the reduction of Charcas. He afterwards led the disastrous expedition to the Amazon; and, finally, headed the memorable rebellion which ended so fatally to himself. There are but few men whose lives abound in such wild and romantic adventure, and, for the most part, crowned with success. The space which he occupies in the page of history is altogether disproportioned to his talents. It may be in some measure ascribed to fortune, but still more to those showy qualities which form a sort of substitute for mental talent, and which secured his popularity with the vulgar.
He had a brilliant exterior; excelled in all martial exercises; rode well, fenced well, managed his lance to perfection, was a first-rate marksman with the arquebuse, and added the accomplishment of being an excellent draughtsman. He was bold and chivalrous, even to temerity; courted adventure, and was always in the front of danger. He was a knight- errant, in short, in the most extravagant sense of the term, and, "mounted on his favorite charger," says one who had often seen him, "made no more account of a squadron of Indians than of a swarm of flies."16
While thus, by his brilliant exploits and showy manners, he captivated the imaginations of his countrymen, he won their hearts no less by his soldier-like frankness, his trust in their fidelity,—too often abused,-and his liberal largesses; for Pizarro, though avaricious of the property of others, was, like the Roman conspirator, prodigal of his own. This was his portrait in happier days, when his heart had not been corrupted by success; for that some change was wrought on him by his prosperity is well attested. His head was made giddy by his elevation; and it is proof of a want of talent equal to his success, that he knew not how to profit by it. Obeying the dictates of his own rash judgment, he rejected the warnings of his wisest counsellors, and relied with blind confidence on his destiny. Garcilasso imputes this to the malignant influence of the stars.17 But the superstitious chronicler might have better explained it by a common principle of human nature; by the presumption nourished by success; the insanity, as the Roman, or rather Grecian, proverb calls it, with which the gods afflict men when they design to ruin them.18
Gonzalo was without education, except such as he had picked up in the rough school of war. He had little even of that wisdom which springs from natural shrewdness and insight into character. In all this he was inferior to his elder brothers, although he fully equalled them in ambition. Had he possessed a tithe of their sagacity, he would not have madly persisted in rebellion, after the coming of the president. Before this period, he represented the people. Their interests and his were united. He had their support, for he was contending for the redress of their wrongs. When these were redressed by the government, there was nothing to contend for. From that time, he was battling only for himself. The people had no part nor interest in the contest. Without a common sympathy to bind them together, was it strange that they should fall off from him, like leaves in winter, and leave him exposed, a bare and sapless trunk, to the fury of the tempest?
Cepeda, more criminal than Pizarro, since he had both superior education and intelligence, which he employed only to mislead his commander, did not long survive him. He had come to the country in an office of high responsibility. His first step was to betray the viceroy whom he was sent to support; his next was to betray the Audience with whom he should have acted; and lastly, he betrayed the leader whom he most affected to serve. His whole career was treachery to his own government. His life was one long perfidy.
After his surrender, several of the cavaliers, disgusted at his coldblooded apostasy, would have persuaded Gasca to send him to execution along with his commander; but the president refused, in consideration of the signal service he had rendered the Crown by his defection. He was put under arrest, however, and sent to Castile. There he was arraigned for high-treason. He made a plausible defence, and as he had friends at court, it is not improbable he would have been acquitted; but, before the trial was terminated, he died in prison. It was the retributive justice not always to be found in the affairs of this world.19
Indeed, it so happened, that several of those who had been most forward to abandon the cause of Pizarro survived their commander but a short time. The gallant Centeno, and the Licentiate Carbajal, who deserted him near Lima, and bore the royal standard on the field of Xaquixaguana, both died within a year after Pizarro. Hinojosa was assassinated but two years later in La Plata; and his old comrade Valdivia, after a series of brilliant exploits in Chili, which furnished her most glorious theme to the epic Muse of Castile, was cut off by the invincible warriors of Arauco. The Manes of Pizarro were amply avenged.
Acosta, and three or four other cavaliers who surrendered with Gonzalo, were sent to execution on the same day with their chief; and Gasca, on the morning following the dismal tragedy, broke up his quarters and marched with his whole army to Cuzco, where he was received by the politic people with the same enthusiasm which they had so recently shown to his rival. He found there a number of the rebel army who bad taken refuge in the city after their late defeat, where they were immediately placed under arrest. Proceedings, by Gasca's command, were instituted against them. The principal cavaliers, to the number of ten or twelve, were executed; others were banished or sent to the galleys. The same rigorous decrees were passed against such as had fled and were not yet taken; and the estates of all were confiscated. The estates of the rebels supplied a fund for the recompense of the loyal.20 The execution of justice may seem to have been severe; but Gasca was willing that the rod should fall heavily on those who had so often rejected his proffers of grace. Lenity was wasted on a rude, licentious soldiery, who hardly recognized the existence of government, unless they felt its rigor.
A new duty now devolved on the president,—that of rewarding his faithful followers,—not less difficult, as it proved, than that of punishing the guilty. The applicants were numerous; since every one who had raised a finger in behalf of the government claimed his reward. They urged their demands with a clamorous importunity which perplexed the good president, and consumed every moment of his time.
Disgusted with this unprofitable state of things, Gasca resolved to rid himself of the annoyance at once, by retiring to the valley of Guaynarima, about twelve leagues distant from the city, and there digesting, in quiet, a scheme of compensation, adjusted to the merits of the parties. He was accompanied only by his secretary, and by Loaysa, now archbishop of Lima, a man of sense, and well acquainted with the affairs of the country. In this seclusion the president remained three months, making a careful examination into the conflicting claims, and apportioning the forfeitures among the parties according to their respective services. The repartimientos, it should be remarked, were usually granted only for life, and, on the death of the incumbent, reverted to the Crown, to be reassigned or retained at its pleasure.
When his arduous task was completed, Gasca determined to withdraw to Lima, leaving the instrument of partition with the archbishop, to be communicated to the army. Notwithstanding all the care that had been taken for an equitable adjustment, Gasca was aware that it was impossible to satisfy the demands of a jealous and irritable soldiery, where each man would be likely to exaggerate his own deserts, while he underrated those of his comrades; and he did not care to expose himself to importunities and complaints that could serve no other purpose than to annoy him.
On his departure, the troops were called together by the archbishop in the cathedral, to learn the contents of the schedule intrusted to him. A discourse was first preached by a worthy Dominican, the prior of Arequipa, in which the reverend father expatiated on the virtue of contentment, the duty of obedience, and the folly, as well as wickedness, of an attempt to resist the constituted authorities,—topics, in short, which he conceived might best conciliate the good-will and conformity of his audience.
A letter from the president was then read from the pulpit. It was addressed to the officers and soldiers of the army. The writer began with briefly exposing the difficulties of his task, owing to the limited amount of the gratuities, and the great number and services of the claimants. He had given the matter the most careful consideration, he said, and endeavored to assign to each his share, according to his deserts, without prejudice or partiality. He had, no doubt, fallen into errors, but he trusted his followers would excuse them, when they reflected that he had done according to the best of his poor abilities; and all, he believed, would do him the justice to acknowledge he had not been influenced by motives of personal interest. He bore emphatic testimony to the services they had rendered to the good cause, and concluded with the most affectionate wishes for their future prosperity and happiness. The letter was dated at Guaynarima, August 17, 1548, and bore the simple signature of the Licentiate Gasca.21
The archbishop next read the paper containing the president's award. The annual rent of the estates to be distributed amounted to a hundred and thirty thousand pesos ensayados;22 a large amount, considering the worth of money in that day,—in any other country than Peru, where money was a drug.23
The repartimientos thus distributed varied in value from one hundred to thirty-five hundred pesos of yearly rent; all, apparently, graduated with the nicest precision to the merits of the parties. The number of pensioners was about two hundred and fifty; for the fund would not have sufficed for general distribution, nor were the services of the greater part deemed worthy of such a mark of consideration.24
The effect produced by the document, on men whose minds were filled with the most indefinite expectations, was just such as had been anticipated by the president. It was received with a general murmur of disapprobation. Even those who had got more than they expected were discontented, on comparing their condition with that of their comrades, whom they thought still better remunerated in proportion to their deserts. They especially inveighed against the preference shown to the old partisans of Gonzalo Pizarro—as Hinojosa, Centeno, and Aldana-over those who had always remained loyal to the Crown. There was some ground for such a preference; for none had rendered so essential services in crushing the rebellion; and it was these services that Gasca proposed to recompense. To reward every man who had proved himself loyal, simply for his loyalty, would have frittered away the donative into fractions that would be of little value to any.25
It was in vain, however, that the archbishop, seconded by some of the principal cavaliers, endeavored to infuse a more contented spirit into the multitude. They insisted that the award should be rescinded, and a new one made on more equitable principles; threatening, moreover, that, if this were not done by the president, they would take the redress of the matter into their own hands. Their discontent, fomented by some mischievous persons who thought to find their account in it, at length proceeded so far as to menace a mutiny; and it was not suppressed till the commander of Cuzco sentenced one of the ringleaders to death, and several others to banishment. The iron soldiery of the Conquest required an iron hand to rule them.
Meanwhile, the president had continued his journey towards Lima; and on the way was everywhere received by the people with an enthusiasm, the more grateful to his heart that he felt he had deserved it. As he drew near the capital, the loyal inhabitants prepared to give him a magnificent reception. The whole population came forth from the gates, led by the authorities of the city, with Aldana as corregidor at their head. Gasca rode on a mule, dressed in his ecclesiastical robes. On his right, borne on a horse richly caparisoned, was the royal seal, in a box curiously chased and ornamented. A gorgeous canopy of brocade was supported above his head by the officers of the municipality, who, in their robes of crimson velvet, walked bareheaded by his side. Gay troops of dancers, clothed in fantastic dresses of gaudy-colored silk, followed the procession, strewing flowers and chanting verses as they went, in honor of the president. They were designed as emblematical of the different cities of the colony; and they bore legends or mottoes in rhyme on their caps, intimating their loyal devotion to the Crown, and evincing much more loyalty in their composition, it may be added, than poetical merit.26 In this way, without beat of drum, or noise of artillery, or any of the rude accompaniments of war, the good president made his peaceful entry into the City of the Kings, while the air was rent with the acclamations of the people, who hailed him as their "Father and Deliverer, the Saviour of their country!" 27
But, however grateful was this homage to Gasca's heart, he was not a man to waste his time in idle vanities. He now thought only by what means he could eradicate the seeds of disorder which shot up so readily in this fruitful soil, and how he could place the authority of the government on a permanent basis. By virtue of his office, he presided over the Royal Audience, the great judicial, and, indeed, executive tribunal of the colony; and he gave great despatch to the business, which had much accumulated during the late disturbances. In the unsettled state of property, there was abundant subject for litigation; but, fortunately, the new Audience was composed of able, upright judges, who labored diligently with their chief to correct the mischief caused by the misrule of their predecessors.
Neither was Gasca unmindful of the unfortunate natives; and he occupied himself earnestly with that difficult problem,—the best means practicable of ameliorating their condition. He sent a number of commissioners, as visitors, into different parts of the country, whose business it was to inspect the encomiendas, and ascertain the manner in which the Indians were treated, by conversing not only with the proprietors, but with the natives themselves. They were also to learn the nature and extent of the tributes paid in former times by the vassals of the Incas.28
In this way, a large amount of valuable information was obtained, which enabled Gasca, with the aid of a council of ecclesiastics and jurists, to digest a uniform system of taxation for the natives, lighter even than that imposed on them by the Peruvian princes. The president would gladly have relieved the conquered races from the obligations of personal service; but, on mature consideration, this was judged impracticable in the present state of the country, since the colonists, more especially in the tropical regions, looked to the natives for the performance of labor, and the latter, it was found from experience, would not work at all, unless compelled to do so. The president, however, limited the amount of service to be exacted with great precision, so that it was in the nature of a moderate personal tax. No Peruvian was to be required to change his place of residence, from the climate to which he had been accustomed, to another; a fruitful source of discomfort, as well as of disease, in past times. By these various regulations, the condition of the natives, though not such as had been contemplated by the sanguine philanthropy of Las Casas, was improved far more than was compatible with the craving demands of the colonists; and all the firmness of the Audience was required to enforce provisions so unpalatable to the latter. Still they were enforced. Slavery, in its most odious sense, was no longer tolerated in Peru. The term "slave" was not recognized as having relation to her institutions; and the historian of the Indies makes the proud boast,—it should have been qualified by the limitations I have noticed, —that every Indian vassal might aspire to the rank of a freeman.29
Besides these reforms, Gasca introduced several in the municipal government of the cities, and others yet more important in the management of the finances, and in the mode of keeping the accounts. By these and other changes in the internal economy of the colony, he placed the administration on a new basis, and greatly facilitated the way for a more sure and orderly government by his successors. As a final step, to secure the repose of the country after he was gone, he detached some of the more aspiring cavaliers on distant expeditions, trusting that they would draw off the light and restless spirits, who might otherwise gather together and disturb the public tranquillity; as we sometimes see the mists which have been scattered by the genial influence of the sun become condensed, and settle into a storm, on his departure.30
Gasca had been now more than fifteen months in Lima, and nearly three years had elapsed since his first entrance into Peru. In that time, he had accomplished the great objects of his mission. When he landed, he found the colony in a state of anarchy, or rather organized rebellion under a powerful and popular chief. He came without funds or forces to support him. The former he procured through the credit which he established in his good faith; the latter he won over by argument and persuasion from the very persons to whom they had been confided by his rival. Thus he turned the arms of that rival against himself. By a calm appeal to reason he wrought a change in the hearts of the people; and, without costing a drop of blood to a single loyal subject, he suppressed a rebellion which had menaced Spain with the loss of the wealthiest of her provinces. He had punished the guilty, and in their spoils found the means to recompense the faithful. He had, moreover, so well husbanded the resources of the country, that he was enabled to pay off the large loan he had negotiated with the merchants of the colony, for the expenses of the war, exceeding nine hundred thousand pesos de oro.31 Nay, more, by his economy he had saved a million and a half of ducats for the government, which for some years had received nothing from Peru; and he now proposed to carry back this acceptable treasure to swell the royal coffers.32 All this had been accomplished without the cost of out-fit or salary, or any charge to the Crown except that of his own frugal expenditure.33 The country was now in a state of tranquillity. Gasca felt that his work was done; and that he was free to gratify his natural longing to return to his native land.
Before his departure, he arranged a distribution of those repartimientos which had lapsed to the Crown during the past year by the death of the incumbents. Life was short in Peru; since those who lived by the sword, if they did not die by the sword, too often fell early victims to the hardships incident to their adventurous career. Many were the applicants for the new bounty of government; and, as among them were some of those who had been discontented with the former partition, Gasca was assailed by remonstrances, and sometimes by reproaches couched in no very decorous or respectful language. But they had no power to disturb his equanimity; he patiently listened, and replied to all in the mild tone of expostulation best calculated to turn away wrath; "by this victory over himself," says an old writer, "acquiring more real glory, than by all his victories over his enemies." 34
An incident occurred on the eve of his departure, touching in itself, and honorable to the parties concerned. The Indian caciques of the neighboring country, mindful of the great benefits he had rendered their people, presented him with a considerable quantity of plate in token of their gratitude. But Gasca refused to receive it, though in doing so he gave much concern to the Peruvians, who feared they had unwittingly fallen under his displeasure.
Many of the principal colonists, also, from the same wish to show their sense of his important services, sent to him, after he had embarked, a magnificent donative of fifty thousand gold castellanos. "As he had taken leave of Peru," they said, "there could be no longer any ground for declining it." But Gasca was as decided in his rejection of this present, as he had been of the other. "He had come to the country," he remarked, "to serve the king, and to secure the blessings of peace to the inhabitants; and now that, by the favor of Heaven, he had been permitted to accomplish this, he would not dishonor the cause by any act that might throw suspicion on the purity of his motives." Notwithstanding his refusal, the colonists contrived to secrete the sum of twenty thousand castellanos on board his vessel, with the idea, that, once in his own country, with his mission concluded, the president's scruples would be removed. Gasca did, indeed, accept the donative; for he felt that it would be ungracious to send it back; but it was only till he could ascertain the relatives of the donors, when he distributed it among the most needy.35
Having now settled all his affairs, the president committed the government, until the arrival of a viceroy, to his faithful partners of the Royal Audience; and in January, 1550 he embarked with the royal treasure on board of a squadron for Panama. He was accompanied to the shore by a numerous crowd of the inhabitants, cavaliers and common people, persons of all ages and conditions, who followed to take their last look of their benefactor, and watch with straining eyes the vessel that bore him away from their land.
His voyage was prosperous, and early in March the president reached his destined port. He stayed there only till he could muster horses and mules sufficient to carry the treasure across the mountains; for he knew that this part of the country abounded in wild, predatory spirits, who would be sorely tempted to some act of violence by a knowledge of the wealth which he had with him. Pushing forward, therefore, he crossed the rugged Isthmus, and, after a painful march, arrived in safety at Nombre de Dios.
The event justified his apprehensions. He had been gone but three days, when a ruffian horde, after murdering the bishop of Guatemala, broke into Panama with the design of inflicting the same fate on the president, and of seizing the booty. No sooner were the tidings communicated to Gasca, than, with his usual energy, he levied a force and prepared to march to the relief of the invaded capital. But Fortune—or, to speak more correctly, Providence—favored him here, as usual; and, on the eve of his departure, he learned that the marauders had been met by the citizens, and discomfited with great slaughter. Disbanding his forces, therefore, he equipped a fleet of nineteen vessels to transport himself and the royal treasure to Spain, where he arrived in safety, entering the harbor of Seville after a little more than four years from the period when he had sailed from the same port.36
Great was the sensation throughout the country caused by his arrival. Men could hardly believe that results so momentous had been accomplished in so short a time by a single individual,—a poor ecclesiastic, who, unaided by government, had, by his own strength, as it were, put down a rebellion which had so long set the arms of Spain at defiance!
The emperor was absent in Flanders. He was overjoyed on learning the complete success of Gasca's mission; and not less satisfied with the tidings of the treasure he had brought with him; for the exchequer, rarely filled to overflowing, had been exhausted by the recent troubles in Germany. Charles instantly wrote to the president, requiring his presence at court, that he might learn from his own lips the particulars of his expedition. Gasca, accordingly, attended by a numerous retinue of nobles and cavaliers,—for who does not pay homage to him whom the king delighteth to honor?—embarked at Barcelona, and, after a favorable voyage, joined the Court in Flanders.
He was received by his royal master, who fully appreciated his services, in a manner most grateful to his feelings; and not long afterward he was raised to the bishopric of Palencia,—a mode of acknowledgment best suited to his character and deserts. Here he remained till 1561, when he was promoted to the vacant see of Siguenza. The rest of his days he passed peacefully in the discharge of his episcopal functions; honored by his sovereign, and enjoying the admiration and respect of his countrymen.37
In his retirement, he was still consulted by the government in matters of importance relating to the Indies. The disturbances of that unhappy land were renewed, though on a much smaller scale than before, soon after the president's departure. They were chiefly caused by discontent with the repartimientos, and with the constancy of the Audience in enforcing the benevolent restrictions as to the personal services of the natives. But these troubles subsided, after a very few years, under the wise rule of the Mendozas,—two successive viceroys of that illustrious house which has given so many of its sons to the service of Spain. Under their rule, the mild yet determined policy was pursued, of which Gasca had set the example. The ancient distractions of the country were permanently healed. With peace, prosperity returned within the borders of Peru; and the consciousness of the beneficent results of his labors may have shed a ray of satisfaction, as it did of glory, over the evening of the president's life.
That life was brought to a close in November, 1567, at an age, probably, not far from the one fixed by the sacred writer as the term of human existence.38 He died at Valladolid, and was buried in the church of Santa Maria Magdalena, in that city, which he had built and liberally endowed. His monument, surmounted by the sculptured effigy of a priest in his sacerdotal robes, is still to be seen there, attracting the admiration of the traveller by the beauty of its execution. The banners taken from Gonzalo Pizarro on the field of Xaquixaguana were suspended over his tomb, as the trophies of his memorable mission to Peru.39 The banners have long since mouldered into dust, with the remains of him who slept beneath them; but the memory of his good deeds will endure for ever.40
Gasca was plain in person, and his countenance was far from comely, He was awkward and ill-proportioned; for his limbs were too long for his body,—so that when he rode, he appeared to be much shorter than he really was.41 His dress was humble, his manners simple, and there was nothing imposing in his presence. But, on a nearer intercourse, there was a charm in his discourse that effaced every unfavorable impression produced by his exterior, and won the hearts of his hearers.
The president's character may be thought to have been sufficiently portrayed in the history already given of his life. It presented a combination of qualities which generally serve to neutralize each other, but which were mixed in such proportions in him as to give it additional strength. He was gentle, yet resolute; by nature intrepid, yet preferring to rely on the softer arts of policy. He was frugal in his personal expenditure, and economical in the public; yet caring nothing for riches on his own account, and never stinting his bounty when the public good required it. He was benevolent and placable, yet could deal sternly with the impenitent offender; lowly in his deportment, yet with a full measure of that self-respect which springs from conscious rectitude of purpose; modest and unpretending, yet not shrinking from the most difficult enterprises; deferring greatly to others, yet, in the last resort, relying mainly on himself; moving with deliberation,—patiently waiting his time; but, when that came, bold, prompt, and decisive.
Gasca, was not a man of genius, in the vulgar sense of that term. At least, no one of his intellectual powers seems to have received an extraordinary development, beyond what is found in others. He was not a great writer, nor a great orator, nor a great general. He did not affect to be either. He committed the care of his military matters to military men; of ecclesiastical to the clergy; and his civil and judicial concerns he reposed on the members of the Audience. He was not one of those little great men who aspire to do every thing themselves, under the conviction that nothing can be done so well by others. But the president was a keen judge of character. Whatever might be the office, he selected the best man for it. He did more. He assured himself of the fidelity of his agents, presided at their deliberations; dictated a general line of policy, and thus infused a spirit of unity into their plans, which made all move in concert to the accomplishment of one grand result.
A distinguishing feature of his mind was his common sense,—the best substitute for genius in a ruler who has the destinies of his fellow-men at his disposal, and more indispensable than genius itself. In Gasca, the different qualities were blended in such harmony, that there was no room for excess. They seemed to regulate each other. While his sympathy with mankind taught him the nature of their wants, his reason suggested to what extent these were capable of relief, as well as the best mode of effecting it. He did not waste his strength on illusory schemes of benevolence, like Las Casas, on the one hand; nor did he countenance the selfish policy of the colonists, on the other. He aimed at the practicable,—the greatest good practicable.
In accomplishing his objects, he disclaimed force equally with fraud. He trusted for success to his power over the convictions of his hearers; and the source of this power was the confidence he inspired in his own integrity. Amidst all the calumnies of faction, no imputation was ever cast on the integrity of Gasca.42 No wonder that a virtue so rare should be of high price in Peru.
There are some men whose characters have been so wonderfully adapted to the peculiar crisis in which they appeared, that they seem to have been specially designed for it by Providence. Such was Washington, in our own country, and Gasca in Peru. We can conceive of individuals with higher qualities, at least with higher intellectual qualities, than belonged to either of these great men. But it was the wonderful conformity of their characters to the exigencies of their situation, the perfect adaptation of the means to the end, that constituted the secret of their success; that enabled Gasca so gloriously to crush revolution, and Washington still more gloriously to achieve it.
Gasca's conduct on his first coming to the colonies affords the best illustration of his character. Had he come backed by a military array, or even clothed in the paraphernalia of authority, every heart and hand would have been closed against him. But the humble ecclesiastic excited no apprehension; and his enemies were already disarmed, before he had begun his approaches. Had Gasca, impatient of Hinojosa's tardiness, listened to the suggestions of those who advised his seizure, he would have brought his cause into jeopardy by this early display of violence But he wisely chose to win over his enemy by operating on his conviction.
In like manner, he waited his time for making his entry into Peru. He suffered his communications to do their work in the minds of the people, and was careful not to thrust in the sickle before the harvest was ripe.
In this way, wherever he went, every thing was prepared for his coming; and when he set foot in Peru, the country was already his own.
After the dark and turbulent spirits with which we have been hitherto occupied, it is refreshing to dwell on a character like that of Gasca. In the long procession which has passed in review before us, we have seen only the mail-clad cavalier, brandishing his bloody lance, and mounted on his war-horse, riding over the helpless natives, or battling with his own friends and brothers; fierce, arrogant, and cruel, urged on by the lust of gold, or the scarce more honorable love of a bastard glory. Mingled with these qualities, indeed, we have seen sparkles of the chivalrous and romantic temper which belongs to the heroic age of Spain. But, with some honorable exceptions, it was the scum of her chivalry that resorted to Peru, and took service under the banner of the Pizarros. At the close of this long array of iron warriors, we behold the poor and humble missionary coming into the land on an errand of mercy, and everywhere proclaiming the glad tidings of peace. No warlike trumpet heralds his approach, nor is his course to be tracked by the groans of the wounded and the dying. The means he employs are in perfect harmony with his end. His weapons are argument and mild persuasion. It is the reason he would conquer, not the body. He wins his way by conviction, not by violence. It is a moral victory to which he aspires, more potent, and happily more permanent, than that of the blood-stained conqueror. As he thus calmly, and imperceptibly, as it were, comes to his great results, he may remind us of the slow, insensible manner in which Nature works out her great changes in the material world, that are to endure when the ravages of the hurricane are passed away and forgotten.
With the mission of Gasca terminates the history of the Conquest of Peru. The Conquest, indeed, strictly terminates with the suppression of the Peruvian revolt, when the strength, if not the spirit, of the Inca race was crushed for ever. The reader, however, might feel a natural curiosity to follow to its close the fate of the remarkable family who achieved the Conquest. Nor would the story of the invasion itself be complete without some account of the civil wars which grew out of it; which serve, moreover, as a moral commentary on preceding events, by showing that the indulgence of fierce, unbridled passions is sure to recoil, sooner or later, even in this life, on the heads of the guilty.
It is true, indeed, that the troubles of the country were renewed on the departure of Gasca. The waters had been too fearfully agitated to be stilled, at once, into a calm; but they gradually subsided, under the temperate rule of his successors, who wisely profited by his policy and example. Thus the influence of the good president remained after he was withdrawn from the scene of his labors; and Peru, hitherto so distracted, continued to enjoy as large a share of repose as any portion of the colonial empire of Spain. With the benevolent mission of Gasca, then, the historian of the Conquest may be permitted to terminate his labors, - with feelings not unlike those of the traveller who, having long journeyed among the dreary forests and dangerous defiles of the mountains, at length emerges on some pleasant landscape smiling in tranquillity and peace.
Augustin de Zarate—a highly respectable authority, frequently cited in the later portion of this work—was Contador de Mercedes, Comptroller of Accounts, for Castile. This office he filled for fifteen years; after which he was sent by the government to Peru to examine into the state of the colonial finances, which had been greatly deranged by the recent troubles, and to bring them, if possible, into order.
Zarate went out accordingly in the train of the viceroy Blasco Nunez, and found himself, through the passions of his imprudent leader, entangled, soon after his arrival, in the inextricable meshes of civil discord. In the struggle which ensued, he remained with the Royal Audience; and we find him in Lima, on the approach of Gonzalo Pizarro to that capital, when Zarate was deputed by the judges to wait on the insurgent chief, and require him to disband his troops and withdraw to his own estates. The historian executed the mission, for which he seems to have had little relish, and which certainly was not without danger. From this period, we rarely hear of him in the troubled scenes that ensued. He probably took no further part in affairs than was absolutely forced on him by circumstances; but the unfavorable bearing of his remarks on Gonzalo Pizarro intimates, that, however he may have been discontented with the conduct of the viceroy, he did not countenance, for a moment, the criminal ambition of his rival. The times were certainly unpropitious to the execution of the financial reforms for which Zarate had come to Peru. But he showed so much real devotion to the interests of the Crown, that the emperor, on his return, signified his satisfaction by making him Superintendent of the Finances in Flanders.
Soon after his arrival in Peru, he seems to have conceived the idea of making his countrymen at home acquainted with the stirring events passing in the colony, which, moreover, afforded some striking passages for the study of the historian. Although he collected notes and diaries, as he tells us, for this purpose, he did not dare to avail himself of them till his return to Castile. "For to have begun the history in Peru," he says, "would have alone been enough to put my life in jeopardy; since a certain commander, named Francisco de Carbajal, threatened to take vengeance on any one who should be so rash as to attempt the relation of his exploits, —-far less deserving, as they were, to be placed on record, than to be consigned to eternal oblivion." In this same commander, the reader will readily recognize the veteran lieutenant of Gonzalo Pizarro.
On his return home, Zarate set about the compilation of his work. His first purpose was to confine it to the events that followed the arrival of Blasco Nunez; but he soon found, that, to make these intelligible, he must trace the stream of history higher up towards its sources. He accordingly enlarged his plan, and, beginning with the discovery of Peru, gave an entire view of the conquest and subsequent occupation of the country, bringing the narrative down to the close of Gasca's mission. For the earlier portion of the story, he relied on the accounts of persons who took a leading part in the events. He disposes more summarily of this portion than of that in which he himself was both a spectator and an actor; where his testimony, considering the advantages his position gave him for information, is of the highest value.
Alcedo in his Biblioteca Americana, MS., speaks of Zarate's work as "containing much that is good, but as not entitled to the praise of exactness." He wrote under the influence of party heat, which necessarily operates to warp the fairest mind somewhat from its natural bent. For this we must make allowance, in perusing accounts of conflicting parties. But there is no intention, apparently, to turn the truth aside in support of his own cause; and his access to the best sources of knowledge often supplies us with particulars not within the reach of other chroniclers. His narrative is seasoned, moreover, with sensible reflections and passing comments, that open gleams of light into the dark passages of that eventful period. Yet the style of the author can make but moderate pretensions to the praise of elegance or exactness; while the sentences run into that tedious, interminable length which belongs to the garrulous compositions of the regular thoroughbred chronicler of the olden time.
The personalities, necessarily incident, more or less, to such a work, led its author to shrink from publication, at least during his life. By the jealous spirit of the Castilian cavalier, "censure," he says, "however light, is regarded with indignation, and even praise is rarely dealt out in a measure satisfactory to the subject of it." And he expresses his conviction that those do wisely, who allow their accounts of their own times to repose in the quiet security of manuscript, till the generation that is to be affected by them has passed away. His own manuscript, however, was submitted to the emperor; and it received such commendation from this royal authority, that Zarate, plucking up a more courageous spirit, consented to give it to the press. It accordingly appeared at Antwerp, in 1555, in octavo; and a second edition was printed, in folio, at Seville, in 1577. It has since been incorporated in Barcia's valuable collection; and, whatever indignation or displeasure it may have excited among contemporaries, who smarted under the author's censure, or felt themselves defrauded of their legitimate guerdon, Zarate's work has taken a permanent rank among the most respectable authorities for a history of the time.
The name of Zarate naturally suggests that of Fernandez, for both were laborers in the same field of history. Diego Fernandez de Palencia, or Palentino, as he is usually called, from the place of his birth, came over to Peru, and served as a private in the royal army raised to quell the insurrections that broke out after Gasca's return to Castile. Amidst his military occupations, he found leisure to collect materials for a history of the period, to which he was further urged by the viceroy, Mendoza, Marques de Canete, who bestowed on him, as he tells us, the post of Chronicler of Peru. This mark of confidence in his literary capacity intimates higher attainments in Fernandez than might be inferred from the humble station that he occupied. With the fruits of his researches the soldier-chronicler returned to Spain, and, after a time, completed his narrative of the insurrection of Giron.
The manuscript was seen by the President of the Council of the Indies, and he was so much pleased with its execution, that he urged the author to write the account, in like manner, of Gonzalo Pizarro's rebellion, and of the administration of Gasca. The historian was further stimulated, as he mentions in his dedication to Philip the Second, by the promise of a guerdon from that monarch, on the completion of his labors; a very proper, as well as politic, promise, but which inevitably suggests the idea of an influence not altogether favorable to severe historic impartiality. Nor will such an inference be found altogether at variance with truth; for while the narrative of Fernandez studiously exhibits the royal cause in the most favorable aspect to the reader, it does scanty justice to the claims of the opposite party. It would not be meet, indeed, that an apology for rebellion should be found in the pages of a royal pensioner; but there are always mitigating circumstances, which, however we may condemn the guilt, may serve to lessen our indignation towards the guilty. These circumstances are not to be found in the pages of Fernandez. It is unfortunate for the historian of such events, that it is so difficult to find one disposed to do even justice to the claims of the unsuccessful rebel. Yet the Inca Garcilasso has not shrunk from this, in the case of Gonzalo Pizarro; and even Gomara, though living under the shadow, or rather in the sunshine, of the Court, has occasionally ventured a generous protest in his behalf.
The countenance thus afforded to Fernandez from the highest quarter opened to him the best fountains of intelligence,—at least, on the government side of the quarrel. Besides personal communication with the royalist leaders, he had access to their correspondence, diaries, and official documents. He industriously profiled by his opportunities; and his narrative, taking up the story of the rebellion from its birth, continues it to its final extinction, and the end of Gasca's administration. Thus the First Part of his work, as it was now called, was brought down to the commencement of the Second, and the whole presented a complete picture of the distractions of the nation, till a new order of things was introduced, and tranquillity was permanently established throughout the country.
The diction is sufficiently plain, not aspiring to rhetorical beauties beyond the reach of its author, and out of keeping with the simple character of a chronicle, The sentences are arranged with more art than in most of the unwieldy compositions of the time; and, while there is no attempt at erudition or philosophic speculation, the current of events flows on in an orderly manner, tolerably prolix, it is true, but leaving a clear and intelligible impression on the mind of the reader. No history of that period compares with it in the copiousness of its details; and it has accordingly been resorted to by later compilers, as an inexhaustible reservoir for the supply of their own pages; a circumstance that may be thought of itself to bear no slight testimony to the general fidelity, as well as fulness, of the narrative.—The Chronicle of Fernandez, thus arranged in two parts, under the general title of Historia del Peru, was given to the world in the author's lifetime, at Seville, in 1571 in one volume, folio, being the edition used in the preparation of this work.