[Footnote 29: Carta de Carvajal al Emperador, Ms. - Montesinos, Annales, Ms., anos 1539 et 1541. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 7, cap. 1. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 76 et alibi.] Pizarro, strengthened by the arrival of fresh adventurers, now turned his attention to the remoter quarters of the country. Pedro de Valdivia was sent on his memorable expedition to Chili; and to his own brother Gonzalo the governor assigned the territory of Quito, with instructions to explore the unknown country towards the east, where, as report said, grew the cinnamon. As this chief, who had hitherto acted but a subordinate part in the Conquest, is henceforth to take the most conspicuous, it may be well to give some account of him.
Little is known of his early life, for he sprang from the same obscure origin with Francisco, and seems to have been as little indebted as his elder brother to the fostering care of his parents. He entered early on the career of a soldier; a career to which every man in that iron age, whether cavalier or vagabond, seems, if left to himself, to have most readily inclined. Here he soon distinguished himself by his skill in martial exercises, was an excellent horseman, and, when he came to the New World, was esteemed the best lance in Peru. *30
[Footnote 30: The cavalier Pizarro y Orellana has given biographical notices of each of the brothers. It requires no witchcraft to detect that the blood of the Pizarros flowed in the veins of the writer to his fingers' ends. Yet his facts are less suspicious than his inferences.] In talent and in expansion of views, he was inferior to his brothers. Neither did he discover the same cool and crafty policy; but he was equally courageous, and in the execution of his measures quite as unscrupulous. He had a handsome person, with open, engaging features, a free, soldier-like address, and a confiding temper, which endeared him to his followers. His spirit was high and adventurous, and, what was equally important, he could inspire others with the same spirit, and thus do much to insure the success of his enterprises. He was an excellent captain in guerilla warfare, an admirable leader in doubtful and difficult expeditions; but he had not the enlarged capacity for a great military chief, still less for a civil ruler. It was his misfortune to be called to fill both situations.
Gonzalo Pizarro's Expedition. - Passage Across The Mountains. - Discovers The Napo. - Incredible Sufferings. - Orellana Sails Down The Amazon. - Despair Of The Spaniards. - The Survivors Return To Quito.
Gonzalo Pizarro received the news of his appointment to the government of Quito with undisguised pleasure; not so much for the possession that it gave him of this ancient Indian province, as for the field that it opened for discovery towards the east, - the fabled land of Oriental spices, which had long captivated the imagination of the Conquerors. He repaired to his government without delay, and found no difficulty in awakening a kindred enthusiasm to his own in the bosoms of his followers. In a short time, he mustered three hundred and fifty Spaniards, and four thousand Indians. One hundred and fifty of his company were mounted, and all were equipped in the most thorough manner for the undertaking. He provided, moreover, against famine by a large stock of provisions, and an immense drove of swine which followed in the rear *1
[Footnote 1: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. - Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 2. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 1, 2. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. - Montesinos, Annales, ano 1539. Historians differ as to the number of Gonzalo's forces, - of his men, his horses, and his hogs. The last, according to Herrera, amounted to no less than 5000; a goodly supply of bacon for so small a troop, since the Indians, doubtless, lived on parched corn, coca, which usually formed their only support on the longest journeys.]
It was the beginning of 1540, when he set out on this celebrated expedition. The first part of the journey was attended with comparatively little difficulty, while the Spaniards were yet in the land of the Incas; for the distractions of Peru had not been felt in this distant province, where the simple people still lived as under the primitive sway of the Children of the Sun. But the scene changed as they entered the territory of Quixos, where the character of the inhabitants, as well as of the climate, seemed to be of another description. The country was traversed by lofty ranges of the Andes, and the adventurers were soon entangled in their deep and intricate passes. As they rose into the more elevated regions, the icy winds that swept down the sides of the Cordilleras benumbed their limbs, and many of the natives found a wintry grave in the wilderness. While crossing this formidable barrier, they experienced one of those tremendous earthquakes which, in these volcanic regions, so often shake the mountains to their base. In one place, the earth was rent asunder by the terrible throes of Nature, while streams of sulphurous vapor issued from the cavity, and a village with some hundreds of houses was precipitated into the frightful abyss! *2
[Footnote 2: Zarate states the number with precision at five hundred houses. "Sobrevino vn tan gran Terremoto, con temblor, i tempestad de Agua, i Relampagos, i Raios, i grandes Truenos, que abriendose la Tierra por muchas partes, se hundieron quinientas Casas." (Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2.) There is nothing so satisfactory to the mind of the reader as precise numbers; and nothing so little deserving of his confidence.] On descending the eastern slopes, the climate changed; and, as they came on the lower level, the fierce cold was succeeded by a suffocating heat, while tempests of thunder and lightning, rushing from out the gorges of the sierra, poured on their heads with scarcely any intermission day or night, as if the offended deities of the place were willing to take vengeance on the invaders of their mountain solitudes. For more than six weeks the deluge continued unabated, and the forlorn wanderers, wet, and weary with incessant toil, were scarcely able to drag their limbs along the soil broken up and saturated with the moisture. After some months of toilsome travel, in which they had to cross many a morass and mountain stream, they at length reached Canelas, the Land of Cinnamon. *3 They saw the trees bearing the precious bark, spreading out into broad forests; yet, however valuable an article for commerce it might have proved in accessible situations, in these remote regions it was of little worth to them. But, from the wandering tribes of savages whom they had occasionally met in their path, they learned that at ten days' distance was a rich and fruitful land abounding with gold, and inhabited by populous nations. Gonzalo Pizarro had already reached the limits originally proposed for the expedition. But this intelligence renewed his hopes, and he resolved to push the adventure farther. It would have been well for him and his followers, had they been content to return on their footsteps.
[Footnote 3: Canela is the Spanish for cinnamon.]
Continuing their march, the country now spread out into broad savannas terminated by forests, which, as they drew near, seemed to stretch on every side to the very verge of the horizon. Here they beheld trees of that stupendous growth seen only in the equinoctial regions. Some were so large, that sixteen men could hardly encompass them with extended arms! *4 The wood was thickly matted with creepers and parasitical vines, which hung in gaudy-colored festoons from tree to tree, clothing them in a drapery beautiful to the eye, but forming an impenetrable network. At every step of their way, they were obliged to hew open a passage with their axes, while their garments, rotting from the effects of the drenching rains to which they had been exposed, caught in every bush and bramble, and hung about them in shreds. *5 Their provisions, spoiled by the weather, had long since failed, and the live stock which they had taken with them had either been consumed or made their escape in the woods and mountain passes. They had set out with nearly a thousand dogs, many of them of the ferocious breed used in hunting down the unfortunate natives. These they now gladly killed, but their miserable carcasses furnished a lean banquet for the famishing travellers; and, when these were gone, they had only such herbs and dangerous roots as they could gather in the forest. *6
[Footnote 4: This, allowing six feet for the spread of a man's arms, would be about ninety-six feet in circumference, or thirty-two feet in diameter; larger, probably, than the largest tree known in Europe. Yet it falls short of that famous giant of the forests mentioned by M. de Humboldt as still flourishing in the intendancy of Oaxaca, which, by the exact measurement of a traveller in 1839, was found to be a hundred and twelve feet in circumference at the height of four feet from the ground. This height may correspond with that of the measurement taken by the Spaniards. See a curious and learned article on Forest-trees in No. 124 of the North American Review.] [Footnote 5: The dramatist Molina, in his play of "Las Amazonas en las Indias," has devoted some dozen columns of redondillas to an account of the sufferings of his countrymen in the expedition to the Amazon. The poet reckoned confidently on the patience of his audience. The following verses describe the miserable condition to which the Spaniards were reduced by the incessant rains.
"Sin que el Sol en este tiempo Su cara ver nos permita, Ni las nubes taberneras Cessen de echamos encima Dilubios inagotables, Que hasta el alma nos bautizan. Cayeron los mas enfermos, Porque las ropas podridas Con el eterno agua va, Nos dexo en las carnes vivas."]
[Footnote 6: Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 2. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6, 7. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 2.
The last writer obtained his information, as he tells us, from several who were present in the expedition. The reader may be assured that it has lost nothing is coming through his hands.]
At length the way-worn company came on a broad expanse of water formed by the Napo, one of the great tributaries of the Amazon, and which, though only a third or fourth rate river in America, would pass for one of the first magnitude in the Old World. The sight gladdened their hearts, as, by winding along its banks, they hoped to find a safer and more practicable route. After traversing its borders for a considerable distance, closely beset with thickets which it taxed their strength to the utmost to overcome, Gonzalo and his party came within hearing of a rushing noise that sounded like subterranean thunder. The river, lashed into fury, tumbled along over rapids with frightful velocity, and conducted them to the brink of a magnificent cataract, which, to their wondering fancies, rushed down in one vast volume of foam to the depth of twelve hundred feet! *7 The appalling sounds which they had heard for the distance of six leagues were rendered yet more oppressive to the spirits by the gloomy stillness of the surrounding forests. The rude warriors were filled with sentiments of awe. Not a bark dimpled the waters. No living thing was to be seen but the wild tenants of the wilderness, the unwieldy boa, and the loathsome alligator basking on the borders of the stream. The trees towering in wide-spread magnificence towards the heavens, the river rolling on in its rocky bed as it had rolled for ages, the solitude and silence of the scene, broken only by the hoarse fall of waters, or the faint rustling of the woods, - all seemed to spread out around them in the same wild and primitive state as when they came from the hands of the Creator.
[Footnote 7: "Al cabo de este largo camino hallaron que el rio hazia vn salto de una pena de mas de dozientas bracas de alto: que hazia tan gran ruydo, que lo oyeron mas de seys leguas antes que llegassen a el." (Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, nb. 3, cap. 3.) I find nothing to confirm or to confute the account of this stupendous cataract in later travellers, not very numerous in these wild regions. The alleged height of the falls, twice that of the great cataract of the Tequendama in the Bogota, as measured by Humboldt, usually esteemed the highest in America, is not so great as that of some of the cascades thrown over the precipices in Switzerland. Yet the estimates of the Spaniards, who, in the gloomy state of their feelings, were doubtless keenly alive to impressions of the sublime and the terrible, cannot safely be relied on.]
For some distance above and below the falls, the bed of the river contracted so that its width did not exceed twenty feet. Sorely pressed by hunger, the adventurers determined, at all hazards, to cross to the opposite side, in hopes of finding a country that might afford them sustenance. A frail bridge was constructed by throwing the huge trunks of trees across the chasm, where the cliffs, as if split asunder by some convulsion of nature, descended sheer down a perpendicular depth of several hundred feet. Over this airy causeway the men and horses succeeded in effecting their passage with the loss of a single Spaniard, who, made giddy by heedlessly looking down, lost his footing and fell into the boiling surges below.
Yet they gained little by the exchange. The country wore the same unpromising aspect, and the river-banks were studded with gigantic trees, or fringed with impenetrable thickets. The tribes of Indians, whom they occasionally met in the pathless wilderness, were fierce and unfriendly, and they were engaged in perpetual skirmishes with them. From these they learned that a fruitful country was to be found down the river at the distance of only a few days' journey, and the Spaniards held on their weary way, still hoping and still deceived, as the promised land flitted before them, like the rain bow, receding as they advanced. At length, spent with toil and suffering, Gonzalo resolved to construct a bark large enough to transport the weaker part of his company and his baggage. The forests furnished him with timber; the shoes of the horses which had died on the road or been slaughtered for food, were converted into nails; gum distilled from the trees took the place of pitch, and the tattered garments of the soldiers supplied a substitute for oakum. It was a work of difficulty; but Gonzalo cheered his men in the task, and set an example by taking part in their labors. At the end of two months a brigantine was completed, rudely put together, but strong and of sufficient burden to carry half the company, - the first European vessel that ever floated on these inland waters.
Gonzalo gave the command to Francisco de Orellana, a cavalier from Truxillo, on whose courage and devotion to himself he thought he could rely. The troops now moved forward, still following the descending course of the river, while the brigantine kept alongside; and when a bold promontory or more impracticable country intervened, it furnished timely aid by the transportation of the feebler soldiers. In this way they journeyed, for many a wearisome week, through the dreary wilderness on the borders of the Napo. Every scrap of provisions had been long since consumed. The last of their horses had been devoured. To appease the gnawings of hunger, they were fain to eat the leather of their saddles and belts. The woods supplied them with scanty sustenance, and they greedily fed upon toads, serpents, and such other reptiles as they occasionally found. *8
[Footnote 8: "Yeruas y rayzes, y fruta siluestre, sapos, y culebras, y otras malas sauandijas, si las auia por aquellas montanas que todo les hazia buen estomago a los Espanoles; que peor les yua con la falta de cosas tan viles." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 4 - Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 7. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 3, 4. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.]
They were now told of a rich district, inhabited by a populous nation, where the Napo emptied into a still greater river that flowed towards the east. It was, as usual, at the distance of several days' journey; and Gonzalo Pizarro resolved to halt where he was and send Orellana down in his brigantine to the confluence of the waters to procure a stock of provisions, with which he might return and put them in condition to resume their march. That cavalier, accordingly, taking with him fifty of the adventurers, pushed off into the middle of the river, where the stream ran swiftly, and his bark, taken by the current, shot forward with the speed of an arrow, and was soon out of sight. Days and weeks passed away, yet the vessel did not return; and no speck was to be seen on the waters, as the Spaniards strained their eyes to the farthest point, where the line of light faded away in the dark shadows of the foliage on the borders. Detachments were sent out, and, though absent several days, came back without intelligence of their comrades. Unable longer to endure this suspense, or, indeed, to maintain themselves in their present quarters, Gonzalo and his famishing followers now determined to proceed towards the junction of the rivers. Two months elapsed before they accomplished this terrible journey, - those of them who did not perish on the way, - although the distance probably did not exceed two hundred leagues; and they at length reached the spot so long desired, where the Napo pours its tide into the Amazon, that mighty stream, which, fed by its thousand tributaries, rolls on towards the ocean, for many hundred miles, through the heart of the great continent, - the most majestic of American rivers.
But the Spaniards gathered no tidings of Orellana, while the country, though more populous than the region they had left, was as little inviting in its aspect, and was tenanted by a race yet more ferocious. They now abandoned the hope of recovering their comrades, who they supposed must have miserably perished by famine or by the hands of the natives. But their doubts were at length dispelled by the appearance of a white man wandering half-naked in the woods, in whose famine-stricken countenance they recognized the features of one of their countrymen. It was Sanchez de Vargas, a cavalier of good descent, and much esteemed in the army. He had a dismal tale to tell.
Orellana, borne swiftly down the current of the Napo, had reached the point of its confluence with the Amazon in less than three days; accomplishing in this brief space of time what had cost Pizarro and his company two months. He had found the country altogether different from what had been represented; and, so far from supplies for his country men, he could barely obtain sustenance for himself. Nor was it possible for him to return as he had come, and make head against the current of the river; while the attempt to journey by land was an alternative scarcely less formidable. In this dilemma, an idea flashed across his mind. It was to launch his bark at once on the bosom of the Amazon, and descend its waters to its mouth. He would then visit the rich and populous nations that, as report said, lined its borders, sail out on the great ocean, cross to the neighbouring isles, and return to Spain to claim the glory and the guerdon of discovery. The suggestion was eagerly taken up by his reckless companions, welcoming any course that would rescue them from the wretchedness of their present existence, and fired with the prospect of new and stirring adventure, - for the love of adventure was the last feeling to become extinct in the bosom of the Castilian cavalier. They heeded little their unfortunate comrades, whom they were to abandon in the wilderness! *9
[Footnote 9: This statement of De Vargas was confirmed by Orellana, as appears from the language of the royal grant made to that cavalier on his return to Castile. The document is preserved entire in the Munoz collection of Mss.
"Haviendo vos ido con ciertos companeros un rio abajo a buscar comida, con la corriente fuistes metidos por el dicho rio mas de 200 leguas donde no pudistes dar la buelta e por esta necesidad e por la mucha noticia que tuvistes de la grandeza e riqueza de la tierra, posponiendo vuestro peligro, sin interes ninguno por servir a S. M. os aventurastes a saber lo que havia en aquellas provincias, e ansi descubristes e hallastes grandes poblaciones." Capitulacion con Orellana, Ms.]
This is not the place to record the circumstances of Orellana's extraordinary expediton. expedition. He succeeded in his enterprise. But it is marvellous that he should have escaped shipwreck in the perilous and unknown navigation of that river. Many times his vessel was nearly dashed to pieces on its rocks and in its furious rapids; *10 and he was in still greater peril from the warlike tribes on its borders, who fell on his little troop whenever he attempted to land, and followed in his wake for miles in their canoes. He at length emerged from the great river; and, once upon the sea, Orellana made for the isle of Cubagua; thence passing over to Spain, he repaired to court, and told the circumstances of his voyage, - of the nations of Amazons whom he had found on the banks of the river, the El Dorado which report assured him existed in the neighbourhood, and other marvels, - the exaggeration rather than the coinage of a credulous fancy. His audience listened with willing ears to the tales of the traveller; and in an age of wonders, when the mysteries of the East and the West were hourly coming to light, they might be excused for not discerning the true line between romance and reality. *11 [Footnote 10: Condamine, who, in 1743, went down the Amazon, has often occasion to notice the perils and perplexities in which he was involved in the navigation of this river, too difficult, as he says, to be undertaken without the guidance of a skilful pilot. See his Relation Abregee d'un Voyage fait dans l'Interieur de l'Amerique Meridionale. (Maestricht, 1778.)]
[Footnote 11: It has not been easy to discern the exact line in later times, with all the lights of modern discovery. Condamine, after a careful investigation, considers that there is good ground for believing in the existence of a community of armed women, once living somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Amazon, though they have now disappeared. It would be hard to disprove the fact, but still harder, considering the embarrassments in perpetuating such a community, to believe it. Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale, p. 99, et seq.]
He found no difficulty in obtaining a commission to conquer and colonize the realms he had discovered. He soon saw himself at the head of five hundred followers, prepared to share the perils and the profits of his expedition. But neither he, nor his country, was destined to realize these profits. He died on his outward passage, and the lands washed by the Amazon fell within the territories of Portugal. The unfortunate navigator did not even enjoy the undivided honor of giving his name to the waters he had discovered. He enjoyed only the barren glory of the discovery, surely not balanced by the iniquitous circumstances which attended it. *12
[Footnote 12: "His crime is, in some measure, balanced by the glory of having ventured upon a navigation of near two thousand leagues, through unknown nations, in a vessel hastily constructed, with green timber, and by very unskilful hands, without provisions, without a compass, or a pilot." (Robertson, America, (ed. London, 1796,) vol. III. p. 84.) The historian of America does not hold the moral balance with as unerring a hand as usual, in his judgment of Orellana's splendid enterprise. No success, however splendid, in the language of one, not too severe a moralist,
"Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime."]
One of Orellana's party maintained a stout opposition to his proceedings, as repugnant both to humanity and honor. This was Sanchez de Vargas and the cruel commander was revenged on him by abandoning him to his fate in the desolate region where he was now found by his countrymen. *13 [Footnote 13: An expedition more remarkable than that of Orellana was performed by a delicate female, Madame Godin, who, in 1769, attempted to descend the Amazon in an open boat to its mouth. She was attended by seven persons, two of them her brothers, and two her female domestics. The boat was wrecked, and Madame Godin, narrowly escaping with her life, endeavoured with her party to accomplish the remainder of her journey on foot. She saw them perish, one after another, of hunger and disease, till she was left alone in the howling wilderness. Still, like Milton's lady in Comus, she was permitted to come safely out of all these perils, and, after unparalleled sufferings, falling in with some friendly Indians, she was conducted by them to a French settlement. Though a young woman, it will not be surprising that the hardships and terrors she endured turned her hair perfectly white. The details of the extraordinary story are given in a letter to M. de la Condamine by her husband, who tells them in an earnest, unaffected way that engages our confidence. Voyage dans l'Amerique Meridionale, p. 329, et seq.] The Spaniards listened with horror to the recital of Vargas, and their blood almost froze in their veins as they saw themselves thus deserted in the heart of this remote wilderness, and deprived of their only means of escape from it. They made an effort to prosecute their journey along the banks, but, after some toilsome days, strength and spirits failed, and they gave up in despair!
Then it was that the qualities of Gonzalo Pizarro, as a fit leader in the hour of despondency and danger, shone out conspicuous. To advance farther was hopeless. To stay where they were, without food or raiment, without defence from the fierce animals of the forest and the fiercer natives, was impossible. One only course remained; it was to return to Quito. But this brought with it the recollection of the past, of sufferings which they could too well estimate, - hardly to be endured even in imagination. They were now at least four hundred leagues from Quito, and more than a year had elapsed since they had set out on their painful pilgrimage. How could they encounter these perils again! *14 [Footnote 14: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 5. - Herrera, Hist. General dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 8. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143.
One must not expect from these wanderers in the wilderness any exact computation of time or distance, destitute, as they were, of the means of making a correct observation of either.]
Yet there was no alternative. Gonzalo endeavoured to reassure his followers by dwelling on the invincible constancy they had hitherto displayed; adjuring them to show themselves still worthy of the name of Castilians. He reminded them of the glory they would for ever acquire by their heroic achievement, when they should reach their own country. He would lead them back, he said, by another route, and it could not be but that they should meet somewhere with those abundant regions of which they had os so often heard. It was something, at least, that every step would take them nearer home; and as, at all events, it was clearly the only course now left, they should prepare to meet it like men. The spirit would sustain the body; and difficulties encountered in the right spirit were half vanquished already!
The soldiers listened eagerly to his words of promise and encouragement. The confidence of their leader gave life to the desponding. They felt the force of his reasoning, and, as they lent a willing ear to his assurances, the pride of the old Castilian honor revived in their bosoms, and every one caught somewhat of the generous enthusiasm of their commander. He was, in truth, entitled to their devotion. From the first hour of the expedition, he had freely borne his part in its privations. Far from claiming the advantage of his position, he had taken his lot with the poorest soldier; ministering to the wants of the sick, cheering up the spirits of the desponding, sharing his stinted allowance with his famished followers, bearing his full part in the toil and burden of the march, ever showing himself their faithful comrade, no less than their captain. He found the benefit of this conduct in a trying hour like the present.
I will spare the reader the recapitulation of the sufferings endured by the Spaniards on their retrograde march to Quito. They took a more northerly route than that by which they had approached the Amazon; and, if it was attended with fewer difficulties, they experienced yet greater distresses from their greater inability to overcome them. Their only nourishment was such scanty fare as they could pick up in the forest, or happily meet with in some forsaken Indian settlement, or wring by violence from the natives. Some sickened and sank down by the way, for there was none to help them. Intense misery had made them selfish; and many a poor wretch was abandoned to his fate, to die alone in the wilderness, or, more probably, to be devoured, while living, by the wild animals which roamed over it.
At length, in June, 1542, after somewhat more than a year consumed in their homeward march, the way-worn company came on the elevated plains in the neighbourhood of Quito. But how different their aspect from that which they had exhibited on issuing from the gates of the same capital, two years and a half before, with high romantic hope and in all the pride of military array! Their horses gone, their arms broken and rusted, the skins of wild animals instead of clothes hanging loosely about their limbs, their long and matted locks streaming wildly down their shoulders, their faces burned and blackened by the tropical sun, their bodies wasted by famine and sorely disfigured by scars, - it seemed as if the charnel-house had given up its dead, as, with uncertain step, they glided slowly onwards like a troop of dismal spectres! More than half of the four thousand Indians who had accompanied the expedition had perished, and of the Spaniards only eighty, and many of these irretrievably broken in constitution, returned to Quito. *15
[Footnote 15: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 143. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 15. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 7, lib. 3, cap. 14.
The last historian, in dismissing his account of the expedition, passes a panegyric on the courage and constancy of his countrymen, which we must admit to be well deserved.
"Finalmente, Goncalo Picarro entro en el Quito, triunfando del valor, i sufrimiento, i de la constancia, recto, e immutable vigor del animo, pues Hombres Humanos no se hallan haver tanto sufrido ni padecido tantas desventuras.' Ibid., ubi supra.]
The few Christian inhabitants of the place, with their wives and children, came out to welcome their countrymen. They ministered to them all the relief and refreshment in their power; and, as they listened to the sad recital of their sufferings, they mingled their tears with those of the wanderers. The whole company then entered the capital, where their first act - to their credit be it mentioned - was to go in a body to the church, and offer up thanksgivings to the Almighty for their miraculous preservation through their long and perilous pilgrimage. *16 Such was the end of the expedition to the Amazon; an expedition which, for its dangers and hardships, the length of their duration, and the constancy with which they were endured, stands, perhaps, unmatched in the annals of American discovery.
[Footnote 16: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 5.]
The Almagro Faction. - Their Desperate Condition. - Conspiracy Against Francisco Pizarro. - Assassination Of Pizarro. - Acts Of The Conspirators. - Pizarro's Character
When Gonzalo Pizarro reached Quito, he received tidings of an event which showed that his expedition to the Amazon had been even more fatal to his interests than he had imagined. A revolution had taken place during his absence, which had changed the whole condition of things in Peru. In a preceding chapter we have seen, that, when Hernando Pizarro returned to Spain, his brother the marquess repaired to Lima, where he continued to occupy himself with building up his infant capital, and watching over the general interests of the country. While thus employed, he gave little heed to a danger that hourly beset his path, and this, too, in despite of repeated warnings from more circumspect friends.
After the execution of Almagro, his followers, to the number of several hundred, remained scattered through the country; but, however scattered, still united by a common sentiment of indignation against the Pizarros, the murderers, as they regarded them, of their leader. The governor was less the object of these feelings than his brother Hernando, as having been less instrumental in the perpetration of the deed. Under these circumstances, it was clearly Pizarro's policy to do one of two things; to treat the opposite faction either as friends, or as open enemies. He might conciliate the most factious by acts of kindness, efface the remembrance of past injury, if he could, by present benefits; in short, prove to them that his quarrel had been with their leader, not with themselves, and that it was plainly for their interest to come again under his banner. This would have been the most politic, as well as the most magnanimous course; and, by augmenting the number of his adherents, would have greatly strengthened his power in the land. But, unhappily, he had not the magnanimity to pursue it. It was not in the nature of a Pizarro to forgive an injury, or the man whom he had injured. As he would not, therefore, try to conciliate Almagro's adherents, it was clearly the governor's policy to regard them as enemies, - not the less so for being in disguise, - and to take such measures as should disqualify them for doing mischief. He should have followed the counsel of his more prudent brother Hernando, and distributed them in different quarters, taking care that no great number should assemble at any one point, or, above all, in the neighbourhood of his own residence.
But the governor despised the broken followers of Almagro too heartily to stoop to precautionary measures. He suffered the son of his rival to remain in Lima, where his quarters soon became the resort of the disaffected cavaliers. The young man was well known to most of Almagro's soldiers, having been trained along with them in the camp under his father's eye, and, now that his parent was removed, they naturally transferred their allegiance to the son who survived him.
That the young Almagro, however, might be less able to maintain this retinue of unprofitable followers, he was deprived by Pizarro of a great part of his Indians and lands, while he was excluded from the government of New Toledo, which had been settled on him by his father's testament. *1 Stripped of all means of support, without office or employment of any kind, the men of Chili, for so Almagro's adherents continued to be called, were reduced to the utmost distress. So poor were they, as is the story of the time, that twelve cavaliers, who lodged in the same house, could muster only one cloak among them all; and, with the usual feeling of pride that belongs to the poor hidalgo, unwilling to expose their poverty, they wore this cloak by turns, those who had no right to it remaining at home. *2 Whether true or not, the anecdote well illustrates the extremity to which Almagro's faction was reduced. And this distress was rendered yet more galling by the effrontery of their enemies, who, enriched by their forfeitures, displayed before their eyes all the insolent bravery of equipage and apparel that could annoy their feelings.
[Footnote 1: Carta de Almagro, Ms.]
[Footnote 2: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 8, cap. 6.] Men thus goaded by insult and injury were too dangerous to be lightly regarded. But, although Pizarro received various intimations intended to put him on his guard, he gave no heed to them. "Poor devils!" he would exclaim, speaking with contemptuous pity of the men of Chili; "they have had bad luck enough. We will not trouble them further." *3 And so little did he consider them, that he went freely about, as usual, riding without attendants to all parts of the town and to its immediate environs. *4
[Footnote 3: Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144.]
[Footnote 4: Garcilasso, Com Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6.] News now reached the colony of the appointment of a judge by the Crown to take cognizance of the affairs of Peru. Pizarro, although alarmed by the intelligence, sent orders to have him well entertained on his landing, and suitable accommodations prepared for him on the route. The spirits of Almagro's followers were greatly raised by the tidings. They confidently looked to this high functionary for the redress of their wrongs; and two of their body, clad in suits of mourning, were chosen to go to the north, where the judge was expected to land, and to lay their grievances before him.
But months elapsed, and no tidings came of his arrival, till, at length, a vessel, coming into port, announced that most of the squadron had foundered in the heavy storms on the coast, and that the commissioner had probably perished with them. This was disheartening intelligence to the men of Chili, whose "miseries," to use the words of their young leader, "had become too grievous to be borne." *5 Symptoms of disaffection had already begun openly to manifest themselves. The haughty cavaliers did not always doff their bonnets, on meeting the governor in the street; and on one occasion, three ropes were found suspended from the public gallows, with labels attached to them, bearing the names of Pizarro, Velasquez the judge, and Picado the governor's secretary. *6 This last functionary was peculiarly odious to Almagro and his followers. As his master knew neither how to read nor write, all his communications passed through Picado's hands; and, as the latter was of a hard and arrogant nature, greatly elated by the consequence which his position gave him, he exercised a mischievous influence on the governor's measures. Almagro's poverty-stricken followers were the objects of his open ridicule, and he revenged the insult now offered him by riding before their young leader's residence, displaying a tawdry magnificence in his dress, sparkling with gold and silver, and with the inscription, "For the Men of Chili," set in his bonnet. It was a foolish taunt; but the poor cavaliers who were the object of it, made morbidly sensitive by their sufferings, had not the philosophy to despise it. *7
[Footnote 5: "My sufferings," says Almagro, in his letter to the Royal Audience of Panama, "were enough to unsettle my reason." See his Letter in the original, Appendix, No. 12.]
[Footnote 6: "Hizo Picado el secreptario del Marquez mucho dano a muchos, porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no savia ler ni escrivir fiavase del y no hacia mas de lo que el le aconsejava y ansi hizo este mucho mal en estos rreinos, porque el que no andava a su voluntad sirviendole aunque tuviese meritos le destruya y este Picado fue causa de que los de Chile tomasen mas odio al marquez por donde le mataron. Porque queria este que todos lo reverenciasen, y los de chile no hazian caso del, y por esta causa los perseguia este mucho, y ansi vinieron a hazer lo que hizieron los de Chile." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Also Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
[Footnote 7: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 6. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 2.]
At length, disheartened by the long protracted coming of Vaca de Castro, and still more by the recent reports of his loss, Almagro's faction, despairing of redress from a legitimate authority, determined to take it into their own hands. They came to the desperate resolution of assassinating Pizarro. The day named for this was Sunday, the twenty-sixth of June, 1541. The conspirators, eighteen or twenty in number, were to assemble in Almagro's house, which stood in the great square next to the cathedral, and, when the governor was returning from mass, they were to issue forth and fall on him in the street. A white flag, unfurled at the same time from an upper window in the house, was to be the signal for the rest of their comrades to move to the support of those immediately engaged in the execution of the deed. *8 [Footnote 8: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
These arrangements could hardly have been concealed from Almagro, since his own quarters were to be the place of rendezvous. Yet there is no good evidence of his having taken part in the conspiracy. *9 He was, indeed, too young to make it probable that he took a leading part in it. He is represented by contemporary writers to have given promise of many good qualities, though, unhappily, he was not placed in a situation favorable for their development. He was the son of an Indian woman of Panama; but from early years had followed the troubled fortunes of his father, to whom he bore much resemblance in his free and generous nature, as well as in the violence of his passions. His youth and inexperience disqualified him from taking the lead in the perplexing circumstances in which he was placed, and made him little more than a puppet in the hands of others. *10
[Footnote 9: Yet this would seem to be contradicted by Almagro's own letter to the audience of Panama, in which he states, that, galled by intolerable injuries, he and his followers had resolved to take the remedy into their own hands, by entering the governor's house and seizing his person. (See the original in Appendix, No. 12.) It is certain, however, that in the full accounts we have of the affair by writers who had the best means of information, we do not find Almagro's name mentioned as one who took an active part in the tragic drama. His own letter merely expresses that it was his purpose to have taken part in it with the further declaration, that it was simply to seize, not to slay, Pizarro; - a declaration that no one who reads the history of the transaction will be very ready to credit.]
[Footnote 10: "Mancebo virtuoso, i de grande Animo, i bien ensenado: i especialmente se havia exercitado mucho en cavalgar a Caballo, de ambas sillas, lo qual hacia con mucha gracia, i destreca, i tambien en escrevir, i leer, lo qual hacia mas liberalmente, i mejor de lo que requeria su Profesion. De este tenia cargo, como Aio, Juan de Herrada." Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 6.]
The most conspicuous of his advisers was Juan de Herrada, or Rada, as his name is more usually spelt, - a cavalier of respectable family, but who, having early enlisted as a common soldier, had gradually risen to the highest posts in the army by his military talents. At this time he was well advanced in years; but the fires of youth were not quenched in his bosom, and he burned with desire to avenge the wrongs done to his ancient commander. The attachment which he had ever felt for the elder Almagro he seems to have transferred in full measure to his son; and it was apparently with reference to him, even more than to himself, that he devised this audacious plot, and prepared to take the lead in the execution of it.
There was one, however, in the band of conspirators who felt some compunctions of conscience at the part he was acting, and who relieved his bosom by revealing the whole plot to his confessor. The latter lost no time in reporting it to Picado, by whom in turn it was communicated to Pizarro. But, strange to say, it made little more impression on the governor's mind than the vague warnings he had so frequently received. "It is a device of the priest," said he; "he wants a mitre." *11 Yet he repeated the story to the judge Velasquez, who, instead of ordering the conspirators to be seized, and the proper steps taken for learning the truth of the accusation, seemed to be possessed with the same infatuation as Pizarro; and he bade the governor be under no apprehension, "for no harm should come to him, while the rod of justice," not a metaphorical badge of authority in Castile, "was in his hands." *12 Still, to obviate every possibility of danger, it was deemed prudent for Pizarro to abstain from going to mass on Sunday, and to remain at home on pretence of illness.
[Footnote 11: "Pues un dia antes un sacerdote clerigo llamado Benao fue de noche y avisso a Picado el secreptario y dixole manana Domingo quando el marquez saliere a misa tienen concertado los de Chile de matar al marquez y a vos y a sus amigos. Esto me a dicho vno en confision para que os venga a avisar. Pues savido esto Picado se fue luego y lo conto al marquez y el le rrespondio. Ese clerigo obispado quiere." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
[Footnote 12: "El Juan Velazquez le dixo. No tema vuestra senoria que mientras yo tuviere esta vara en la mano nadie se atrevera." Pedro Pizarro, Descub, y Conq., Ms.]
On the day appointed, Rada and his companions met in Almagro's house, and waited with anxiety for the hour when the governor should issue from the church. But great was their consternation, when they learned that he was not there, but was detained at home, as currently reported, by illness. Little doubting that their design was discovered, they felt their own ruin to be the inevitable consequence, and that, too, without enjoying the melancholy consolation of having struck the blow for which they had incurred it. Greatly perplexed, some were for disbanding, in the hope that Pizarro might, after all, be ignorant of their design. But most were for carrying it into execution at once, by assaulting him in his own house. The question was summarily decided by one of the party, who felt that in this latter course lay their only chance of safety. Throwing open the doors, he rushed out, calling on his comrades "to follow him, or he would proclaim the purpose for which they had met." There was no longer hesitation, and the cavaliers issued forth, with Rada at their head, shouting, as they went, "Long live the king! Death to the tyrant!" *13 [Footnote 13: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. - Naharro, Rel. Sumaria, Ms. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms., 15 de Julio, 1541.]
It was the hour of dinner, which, in this primitive age of the Spanish colonies, was at noon. Yet numbers, roused by the cries of the assailants, came out into the square to inquire the cause. "They are going to kill the marquess," some said very coolly; others replied, "It is Picado." No one stirred in their defence. The power of Pizarro was not seated in the hearts of his people.
As the conspirators traversed the plaza, one of the party made a circuit to avoid a little pool of water that lay in their path. "What!" exclaimed Rada, "afraid of wetting your feet, when you are to wade up to your knees in blood!" And he ordered the man to give up the enterprise and go home to his quarters. The anecdote is characteristic. *14 [Footnote 14: "Gomez Perez por haver alli agua derramada de una acequia, rodeo algun tanto por no mojarse; reparo en ello Juan de Rada, y entrandose atrevido por e agua le dijo: i Bamos a banarnos en sangre humana, y rehusais mojaros los pies en agua? Ea volveos. hizolo volver y no asistio al hecho.' Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541.] The governor's palace stood on the opposite side of the square. It was approached by two courtyards. The entrance to the outer one was protected by a massive gate, capable of being made good against a hundred men or more. But it was left open, and the assailants, hurrying through to the inner court, still shouting their fearful battle-cry, were met by two domestics loitering in the yard. One of these they struck down. The other, flying in all haste towards the house, called out, "Help, help! the men of Chili are all coming to murder the marquess!"
Pizarro at this time was at dinner, or, more probably, had just dined. He was surrounded by a party of friends, who had dropped in, it seems, after mass, to inquire after the state of his health, some of whom had remained to partake of his repast. Among these was Don Martinez de Alcantara, Pizarro's half-brother by the mother's side, the judge Velasquez, the bishop elect of Quito, and several of the principal cavaliers in the place, to the number of fifteen or twenty. Some of them, alarmed by the uproar in the court-yard, left the saloon, and, running down to the first landing on the stairway, inquired into the cause of the disturbance. No sooner were they informed of it by the cries of the servant, than they retreated with precipitation into the house; and, as they had no mind to abide the storm unarmed, or at best imperfectly armed, as most of them were, they made their way to the a corridor that overlooked the gardens, into which they easily let themselves down without injury. Velasquez, the judge, the better to have the use of his hands in the descent, held his rod of office in his mouth, thus taking care, says a caustic old chronicler, not to falsify his assurance, that "no harm should come to Pizarro while the rod of justice was in his hands"! *15 [Footnote 15: "En lo qual no paresce haver quebrantado su palabra, porque despues huiendo (como adelante se dira) al tiempo, que quisieron matar al Marques, se hecho de vna Ventana abajo, a la Huerta, llevando la Vara en la boca." Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 7.
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente de Valverde a la Audiencia de Panama, Ms., desde Tumbez, 15 Nov. 1541. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 145.]
Meanwhile, the marquess, learning the nature of the tumult, called out to Francisco de Chaves, an officer high in his confidence, and who was in the outer apartment opening on the staircase, to secure the door, while he and his brother Alcantara buckled on their armour. Had this order, coolly given, been as coolly obeyed, it would have saved them all, since the entrance could easily have been maintained against a much larger force, till the report of the cavaliers who had fled had brought support to Pizarro. But unfortunately, Chaves, disobeying his commander, half opened the door, and attempted to enter into a parley with the conspirators. The latter had now reached the head of the stairs, and cut short the debate by running Chaves through the body, and tumbling his corpse down into the area below. For a moment they were kept at bay by the attendants of the slaughtered cavalier, but these too, were quickly despatched; and Rada and his companions, entering the apartment, hurried across it, shouting out, "Where is the marquess? Death to the tyrant!" Martinez de Alcantara, who in the adjoining room was assisting his brother to buckle on his mail, no sooner saw that the entrance to the antechamber had been gained, than he sprang to the doorway of the apartment, and, assisted by two young men, pages of Pizarro, and by one or two cavaliers in attendance, endeavoured to resist the approach of the assailants. A desperate struggle now ensued. Blows were given on both sides, some of which proved fatal, and two of the conspirators were slain, while Alcantara and his brave companions were repeatedly wounded. At length, Pizarro, unable, in the hurry of the moment, to adjust the fastenings of his cuirass threw it away, and enveloping one arm in his cloak, with the other seized his sword, and sprang to his brother's assistance. It was too late; for Alcantara was already staggering under the loss of blood, and soon fell to the ground. Pizarro threw himself on his invaders, like a lion roused in his lair, and dealt his blows with as much rapidity and force, as if age had no power to stiffen his limbs. "What ho!" he cried, "traitors! have you come to kill me in my own house?" The conspirators drew back for a moment, as two of their body fell under Pizarro's sword; but they quickly rallied, and, from their superior numbers, fought at great advantage by relieving one another in the assault. Still the passage was narrow, and the struggle lasted for some minutes, till both of Pizarro's pages were stretched by his side, when Rada, impatient of the delay, called out, "Why are we so long about it? Down with the tyrant!" and taking one of his companions, Narvaez, in his arms, he thrust him against the marquess. Pizarro, instantly grappling with his opponent, ran him through with his sword. But at that moment he received a wound in the throat, and reeling, he sank on the floor, while the swords of Rada and several of the conspirators were plunged into his body. "Jesu!" exclaimed the dying man and, tracing a cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent down his head to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his existence. *16 [See Assassination Of Pizarro: He traced a cross with his finger on the bloody floor and bent his head down to kiss it, when a stroke, more friendly than the rest, put an end to his existence.]
[Footnote 16: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. - Naharro, Relacion Sumaria, Ms. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6. - Carta de la Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms., 15 de Julio, 1541. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., ubi supra. - Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1541.
Pizarro y Orellana seems to have no doubt that his slaughtered kinsman died in the odor of sanctity. - "Alli le acabaron los traidores enemigos, dandole cruelissimas heridas, con que acabo el Julio Cesar Espanol, estando tan en si que pidiendo confession con gran acto de contricion, haziendo la senal de la Cruz con su misma sangre, y besandola murio." Varones Ilustres, p. 186.
According to one authority, the mortal blow was given by a soldier named Borregan, who, when Pizarro was down, struck him on the back of the head with a water-jar, which he had snatched from the table. (Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 6.) Considering the hurry and confusion of the scene, the different narratives of the catastrophe, though necessarily differing in minute details have a remarkable agreement with one another.]
The conspirators, having accomplished their bloody deed, rushed into the street, and, brandishing their dripping weapons, shouted out, "The tyrant is dead! The laws are restored! Long live our master the emperor, and his governor, Almagro!" The men of Chili, roused by the cheering cry, now flocked in from every side to join the banner of Rada, who soon found himself at the head of nearly three hundred followers, all armed and prepared to support his authority. A guard was placed over the houses of the principal partisans of the late governor, and their persons were taken into custody. Pizarro's house, and that of his secretary Picado, were delivered up to pillage, and a large booty in gold and silver was found in the former. Picado himself took refuge in the dwelling of Riquelme, the treasurer; but his hiding-place was detected, - betrayed, according to some accounts, by the looks, though not the words, of the treasurer himself, - and he was dragged forth and committed to a secure prison. *17 The whole city was thrown into consternation, as armed bodies hurried to and fro on their several errands, and all who were not in the faction of Almagro trembled lest they should be involved in the proscription of their enemies. So great was the disorder, that the Brothers of Mercy, turning out in a body, paraded the streets in solemn procession, with the host elevated in the air, in hopes by the presence of the sacred symbol to calm the passions of the multitude.
[Footnote 17: "No se olvidaron de buscar a Antonio Picado, i iendo en casa del Tesorero Alonso Riquelme, el mismo iba diciendo: No se adonde esta el Senor Picado, i con los ojos le mostraba, i le hallaron debaxo de la cama." Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7.
We find Riquelme's name, soon after this, enrolled among the municipality of Lima, showing that he found it convenient to give in his temporary adhesion, at least, to Almagro. Carta de la Justicia y Regimiento de la Ciudad de los Reyes, Ms.]
But no other violence was offered by Rada and his followers than to apprehend a few suspected persons, and to seize upon horses and arms wherever they were to be found. The municipality was then summoned to recognize the authority of Almagro; the refractory were ejected without ceremony from their offices, and others of the Chili faction were substituted. The claims of the new aspirant were fully recognized; and young Almagro, parading the streets on horseback, and escorted by a well-armed body of cavaliers, was proclaimed by sound of trumpet governor and captain-general of Peru.
Meanwhile, the mangled bodies of Pizarro and his faithful adherents were left weltering in their blood. Some were for dragging forth the governor's corpse to the market-place, and fixing his head upon a gibbet. But Almagro was secretly prevailed on to grant the entreaties of Pizarro's friends, and allow his interment. This was stealthily and hastily performed, in the fear of momentary interruption. A faithful attendant and his wife, with a few black domestics, wrapped the body in a cotton cloth and removed it to the cathedral. A grave was hastily dug in an obscure corner, the services were hurried through, and, in secrecy, and in darkness dispelled only by the feeble glimmering of a few tapers furnished by these humble menials, the remains of Pizarro, rolled in their bloody shroud, were consigned to their kindred dust. Such was the miserable end of the Conqueror of Peru, - of the man who but a few hours before had lorded it over the land with as absolute a sway as was possessed by its hereditary Incas. Cut off in the broad light of day, in the heart of his own capital, in the very midst of those who had been his companions in arms and shared with him his triumphs and his spoils, he perished like a wretched outcast. "There was none even," in the expressive language of the chronicler "to say, God forgive him!" *18
[Footnote 18: "Murio pidiendo confesion, i haciendo la Cruz, sin que nadie lijese, Dios te perdone." Gomara, Hist de las Ind., cap. 144. Ms. de Caravantes. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 8. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
A few years later, when tranquillity was restored to the country, Pizarro's remains were placed in a sumptuous coffin and deposited under a monument in a conspicuous part of the cathedral. And in 1607, when time had thrown its friendly mantle over the past, and the memory of his errors and his crimes was merged in the consideration of the great services he had rendered to the Crown by the extension of her colonial empire, his bones were removed to the new cathedral, and allowed to repose side by side with those of Mendoza, the wise and good viceroy of Peru. *19 [Footnote 19: "Sus huesos encerrados en una caxa guarnecida de terciopelo morado con passamanos de oro que yo he visto." Ms. de Caravantes.] Pizarro was, probably, not far from sixty-five years of age at the time of his death; though this, it must be added, is but loose conjecture, since there exists no authentic record of the date of his birth. *20 He was never married; but by an Indian princess of the Inca blood, daughter of Atahuallpa and granddaughter of the great Huayna Capac, he had two children, a son and a daughter. Both survived him; but the son did not live to manhood. Their mother, after Pizarro's death, wedded a Spanish cavalier, named Ampuero, and removed with him to Spain. Her daughter Francisca accompanied her, and was there subsequently married to her uncle Hernando Pizarro, then a prisoner in the Mota del Medina. Neither the title nor estates of the Marquess Francisco descended to his illegitimate offspring. But in the third generation, in the reign of Philip the Fourth, the title was revived in favor of Don Juan Hernando Pizarro, who, out of gratitude for the services of his ancestor, was created Marquess of the Conquest, Marques de la Conquista, with a liberal pension from government. His descendants, bearing the same title of nobility, are still to be found, it is said, at Truxillo, in the ancient province of Estremadura, the original birthplace of the Pizarros. *21
[Footnote 20: Ante, Book 2, chap. 2, note 1.]
[Footnote 21: Ms. de Caravantes. - Quintana, Espanoles Celebres, tom. II., p. 417.
See also the Discurso, Legal y Politico, annexed by Pizarro y Orellana to his bulky tome, in which that cavalier urges the claims of Pizarro. It is in the nature of a memorial to Philip IV in behalf of Pizarro's descendants, in which the writer, after setting forth the manifold services of the Conqueror, shows how little his posterity had profited by the magnificent grants conferred on him by the Crown. The argument of the Royal Counsellor was not without its effect.] Pizarro's person has been already described. He was tall in stature, well-proportioned, and with a countenance not unpleasing. Bred in camps, with nothing of the polish of a court, he had a soldier-like bearing, and the air of one accustomed to command. But though not polished, there was no embarrassment or rusticity in his address, which, where it served his purpose, could be plausible and even insinuating. The proof of it is the favorable impression made by him, on presenting himself, after his second expedition - stranger as he was to all its forms and usages - at the punctilious court of Castile.
Unlike many of his countrymen, he had no passion for ostentatious dress, which he regarded as an incumbrance. The costume which he most affected on public occasions was a black cloak, with a white hat, and shoes of the same color; the last, it is said, being in imitation of the Great Captain, whose character he had early learned to admire in Italy, but to which his own, certainly, bore very faint resemblance. *22 [Footnote 22: Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru. lib. 4, cap. 9.
The portrait of Pizarro, in the viceregal palace at Lima, represents him in a citizen's dress, with a sable cloak, - the capa y espada of a Spanish gentleman. Each panel in the spacious sala de los Vireyes was reserved for the portrait of a viceroy. The long file is complete, from Pizarro to Pezuela; and it is a curious fact, noticed by Stevenson, that the last panel was exactly filled when the reign of the viceroys was abruptly terminated by the Revolution. (Residence in South America, vol. I. p. 228.) It is a singular coincidence that the same thing should have occurred at Venice, where, if my memory serves me, the last niche reserved for the effigies of its doges was just filled, when the ancient aristocracy was overturned.] He was temperate in eating, drank sparingly, and usually rose an hour before dawn. He was punctual in attendance to business, and shrunk from no toil. He had, indeed, great powers of patient endurance. Like most of his nation, he was fond of play, and cared little for the quality of those with whom he played; though, when his antagonist could not afford to lose, he would allow himself, it is said, to be the loser; a mode of conferring an obligation much commended by a Castilian writer, for its delicacy. *23 [Footnote 23: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 9.] Though avaricious, it was in order to spend and not to hoard. His ample treasures, more ample than those, probably, that ever before fell to the lot of an adventurer, *24 were mostly dissipated in his enterprises, his architectural works, and schemes of public improvement, which, in a country where gold and silver might be said to have lost their value from their abundance, absorbed an incredible amount of money. While he regarded the whole country, in a manner, as his own, and distributed it freely among his captains, it is certain that the princely grant of a territory with twenty thousand vassals, made to him by the Crown, was never carried into effect; nor did his heirs ever reap the benefit of it. *25
[Footnote 24: "Hallo, i tuvo mas Oro, i Plata, que otro ningun Espanol de quantos han pasado a Indias, ni que ninguno de quantos Capitanes han sido por el Mundo." Gomara Hist. de las Ind., cap. 144.]
[Footnote 25: Ms. de Caravantes. - Pizarro y Orellana, Discurso Leg. y Pol., ap. Varones Ilust. Gonzalo Pizarro, when taken prisoner by President Gasca, challenged him to point out any quarter of the country in which the royal grant had been carried into effect by a specific assignment of land to his brother. See Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 2, lib. 5, cap. 36.] To a man possessed of the active energies of Pizarro, sloth was the greatest evil. The excitement of play was in a manner necessary to a spirit accustomed to the habitual stimulants of war and adventure. His uneducated mind had no relish for more refined, intellectual recreation. The deserted foundling had neither been taught to read nor write. This has been disputed by some, but it is attested by unexceptionable authorities. *26 Montesinos says, indeed, that Pizarro, on his first voyage, tried to learn to read; but the impatience of his temper prevented it, and he contented himself with learning to sign his name. *27 But Montesinos was not a contemporary historian. Pedro Pizarro, his companion in arms, expressly tells us he could neither read nor write; *28 and Zarate, another contemporary, well acquainted with the Conquerors, confirms this statement, and adds, that Pizarro could not so much as sign his name. *29 This was done by his secretary - Picado, in his latter years - while the governor merely made the customary rubrica or flourish at the sides of his name. This is the case with the instruments I have examined, in which his signature, written probably by his secretary, or his title of Marques, in later life substituted for his name, is garnished with a flourish at the ends, executed in as bungling a manner as if done by the hand of a ploughman. Yet we must not estimate this deficiency as we should in this period of general illumination, - general, at least, in our own fortunate country. Reading and writing, so universal now, in the beginning of the sixteenth century might be regarded in the light of accomplishments; and all who have occasion to consult the autograph memorials of that time will find the execution of them, even by persons of the highest rank, too often such as would do little credit to a schoolboy of the present day.
[Footnote 26: Even so experienced a person as Munoz seems to have fallen into this error. On one of Pizarro's letters I find the following copy of an autograph memorandum by this eminent scholar: - Carta de Francisco Pizarro, su letra i buena letra.]
[Footnote 27: "En este viage trato Pizarro de aprender a leer; no le dio su viveza lugar a ello; contentose solo con saber firmar, de lo que se veia Almagro, y decia, que firmar sin saber leer era lo mismo que recibir herida, sin poder darla. En adelante firmo siempre Pizarro por si, y por Almagro su Secretario." Montesinos, Annales, Ms., ano 1525.] [Footnote 28: "Porque el marquez don Francisco Picarro como no savia ler ni escrivir." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms]
[Footnote 29: "Siendo personas," says the author, speaking both of Pizarro and Almagro, "no solamente, no leidas, pero que de todo punto no sabian leer, ni aun firmar, que en ellos fue cosa de gran defecto. . . . . . Fue el Marques tan confiado de sus Criados, i Amigos, que todos los Despachos, que hacia, asi de Governacion, como de Repartimientos de Indios, libraba ha ciendo el dos senales, en medio de las quales Antonio Picado, su Secretario, firmaba el nombre de Francisco Picarro." Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 9.]
Though bold in action and not easily turned from his purpose, Pizarro was slow in arriving at a decision. This gave him an appearance of irresolution foreign to his character. *30 Perhaps the consciousness of this led him to adopt the custom of saying 'No," at first, to applicants for favor; and afterwards, at leisure, to revise his judgment, and grant what seemed to him expedient. He took the opposite course from his comrade Almagro, who, it was observed, generally said "Yes," but too often failed to keep his promise. This was characteristic of the careless and easy nature of the latter, governed by impulse rather than principle. *31 [Footnote 30: This tardiness of resolve has even led Herrera to doubt his resolution altogether; a judgment certainly contradicted by the whole tenor of his history. "Porque aunque era astuto, i recatado, por la maior parte fue de animo suspenso, i no mui resoluto." Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 7, cap. 13.]
[Footnote 31: "Tenia por costumbre de quando algo le pedian dezir siempre de no. esto dezia el que hazia por no faltar su palabra, y no obstante que dezia no, correspondia con hazer lo que le pedian no aviendo inconvenimente. . . . . . Don Diego de Almagro hera a la contra que a todos dezia si, y con pocos lo cumplia." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
It is hardly necessary to speak of the courage of a man pledged to such a career as that of Pizarro. Courage, indeed, was a cheap quality among the Spanish adventurers, for danger was their element. But he possessed something higher than mere animal courage, in that constancy of purpose which was rooted too deeply in his nature to be shaken by the wildest storms of fortune. It was this inflexible constancy which formed the key to his character, and constituted the secret of his success. A remarkable evidence of it was given in his first expedition, among the mangroves and dreary marshes of Choco. He saw his followers pining around him under the blighting malaria, wasting before an invisible enemy, and unable to strike a stroke in their own defence. Yet his spirit did not yield, nor did he falter in his enterprise.
There is something oppressive to the imagination in this war against nature. In the struggle of man against man, the spirits are raised by a contest conducted on equal terms; but in a war with the elements, we feel, that, however bravely we may contend, we can have no power to control. Nor are we cheered on by the prospect of glory in such a contest; for, in the capricious estimate of human glory, the silent endurance of privations, however painful, is little, in comparison with the ostentatious trophies of victory. The laurel of the hero - alas for humanity that it should be so! - grows best on the battle-field. This inflexible spirit of Pizarro was shown still more strongly, when, in the little island of Gallo, he drew the line on the sand, which was to separate him and his handful of followers from their country and from civilized man. He trusted that his own constancy would give strength to the feeble, and rally brave hearts around him for the prosecution of his enterprise. He looked with confidence to the future, and he did not miscalculate. This was heroic, and wanted only a nobler motive for its object to constitute the true moral sublime.
Yet the same feature in his character was displayed in a manner scarcely less remarkable, when, landing on the coast and ascertaining the real strength and civilization of the Incas, he persisted in marching into the interior at the head of a force of less than two hundred men. In this he undoubtedly proposed to himself the example of Cortes, so contagious to the adventurous spirits of that day, and especially to Pizarro, engaged, as he was, in a similar enterprise. Yet the hazard assumed by Pizarro was far greater than that of the Conqueror of Mexico, whose force was nearly three times as large, while the terrors of the Inca name - however justified by the result - were as widely spread as those of the Aztecs. It was doubtless in imitation of the same captivating model, that Pizarro planned the seizure of Atahuallpa. But the situations of the two Spanish captains were as dissimilar as the manner in which their acts of violence were conducted. The wanton massacre of the Peruvians resembled that perpetrated by Alvarado in Mexico, and might have been attended with consequences as disastrous, if the Peruvian character had been as fierce as that of the Aztecs. *32 But the blow which roused the latter to madness broke the tamer spirits of the Peruvians. It was a bold stroke, which left so much to chance, that it scarcely merits the name of policy. [Footnote 32: See Conquest of Mexico, Book 4, chap 8.]
When Pizarro landed in the country, he found it distracted by a contest for the crown. It would seem to have been for his interest to play off one party against the other, throwing his own weight into the scale that suited him. Instead of this, he resorted to an act of audacious violence which crushed them both at a blow. His subsequent career afforded no scope for the profound policy displayed by Cortes, when he gathered conflicting nations under his banner, and directed them against a common foe. Still less did he have the opportunity of displaying the tactics and admirable strategy of his rival. Cortes conducted his military operations on the scientific principles of a great captain at the head of a powerful host. Pizarro appears only as an adventurer, a fortunate knight-errant. By one bold stroke, he broke the spell which had so long held the land under the dominion of the Incas. The spell was broken, and the airy fabric of their empire, built on the superstition of ages, vanished at a touch. This was good fortune, rather than the result of policy.
Pizarro was eminently perfidious. Yet nothing is more opposed to sound policy. One act of perfidy fully established becomes the ruin of its author. The man who relinquishes confidence in his good faith gives up the best basis for future operations. Who will knowingly build on a quicksand? By his perfidious treatment of Almagro, Pizarro alienated the minds of the Spaniards. By his perfidious treatment of Atahuallpa, and subsequently of the Inca Manco, he disgusted the Peruvians. The name of Pizarro became a by-word for perfidy. Almagro took his revenge in a civil war; Manco in an insurrection which nearly cost Pizarro his dominion. The civil war terminated in a conspiracy which cost him his life. Such were the fruits of his policy. Pizarro may be regarded as a cunning man; but not, as he has been often eulogized by his countrymen, as a politic one. When Pizarro obtained possession of Cuzco, he found a country well advanced in the arts of civilization; institutions under which the people lived in tranquillity and personal safety; the mountains and the uplands whitened with flocks; the valleys teeming with the fruits of a scientific husbandry; the granaries and warehouses filled to overflowing; the whole land rejoicing in its abundance; and the character of the nation, softened under the influence of the mildest and most innocent form of superstition, well prepared for the reception of a higher and a Christian civilization. But, far from introducing this, Pizarro delivered up the conquered races to his brutal soldiery; the sacred cloisters were abandoned to their lust; the towns and villages were given up to pillage; the wretched natives were parcelled out like slaves, to toil for their conquerors in the mines; the flocks were scattered, and wantonly destroyed; the granaries were dissipated; the beautiful contrivances for the more perfect culture of the soil were suffered to fall into decay; the paradise was converted into a desert. Instead of profiting by the ancient forms of civilization, Pizarro preferred to efface every vestige of them from the land, and on their ruin to erect the institutions of his own country. Yet these institutions did little for the poor Indian, held in iron bondage. It was little to him that the shores of the Pacific were studded with rising communities and cities, the marts of a flourishing commerce. He had no share in the goodly heritage. He was an alien in the land of his fathers. The religion of the Peruvian, which directed him to the worship of that glorious luminary which is the best representative of the might and beneficence of the Creator, is perhaps the purest form of superstition that has existed among men. Yet it was much, that, under the new order of things, and through the benevolent zeal of the missionaries, some glimmerings of a nobler faith were permitted to dawn on his darkened soul. Pizarro, himself, cannot be charged with manifesting any overweening solicitude for the propagation of the Faith. He was no bigot, like Cortes. Bigotry is the perversion of the religious principle; but the principle itself was wanting in Pizarro. The conversion of the heathen was a predominant motive with Cortes in his expedition. It was not a vain boast. He would have sacrificed his life for it at any time; and more than once, by his indiscreet zeal, he actually did place his life and the success of his enterprise in jeopardy. It was his great purpose to purify the land from the brutish abominations of the Aztecs, by substituting the religion of Jesus. This gave to his expedition the character of a crusade. It furnished the best apology for the Conquest, and does more than all other considerations towards enlisting our sympathies on the side of the conquerors.
But Pizarro's ruling motives, so far as they can be scanned by human judgment, were avarice and ambition. The good missionaries, indeed, followed in his train to scatter the seeds of spiritual truth, and the Spanish government, as usual, directed its beneficent legislation to the conversion of the natives. But the moving power with Pizarro and his followers was the lust of gold. This was the real stimulus to their toil, the price of perfidy, the true guerdon of their victories. This gave a base and mercenary character to their enterprise; and when we contrast the ferocious cupidity of the conquerors with the mild and inoffensive manners of the conquered, our sympathies, the sympathies even of the Spaniard, are necessarily thrown into the scale of the Indian. *33
[Footnote 33: The following vigorous lines of Southey condense, in a small compass, the most remarkable traits of Pizarro. The poet's epitaph may certainly be acquitted of the imputation, generally well deserved, of flattery towards the subject of it.
"For A Column At Truxillo.
"Pizarro here was born; a greater name The list of Glory boasts not. Toil and Pain, Famine, and hostile Elements, and Hosts Embattled, failed to check him in his course, Not to be wearied, not to be deterred, Not to be overcome. A mighty realm He overran, and with relentless arm Slew or enslaved its unoffending sons, And wealth and power and fame were his rewards. There is another world, beyond the grave, According to their deeds where men are judged. O Reader! if thy daily bread be earned By daily labor, - yea, however low, However wretched, be thy lot assigned, Thank thou, with deepest gratitude, the God Who made thee, that thou art not such as he."]
But as no picture is without its lights, we must not, in justice to Pizarro, dwell exclusively on the darker features of his portrait. There was no one of her sons to whom Spain was under larger obligations for extent of empire; for his hand won for her the richest of the Indian jewels that once sparkled in her imperial diadem. When we contemplate the perils he braved, the sufferings he patiently endured, the incredible obstacles he overcame, the magnificent results he effected with his single arm, as it were, unaided by the government, - though neither a good, nor a great man in the highest sense of that term, it is impossible not to regard him as a very extraordinary one.
Nor can we fairly omit to notice, in extenuation of his errors, the circumstances of his early life; for, like Almagro, he was the son of sin and sorrow, early cast upon the world to seek his fortunes as he might. In his young and tender age he was to take the impression of those into whose society he was thrown. And when was it the lot of the needy outcast to fall into that of the wise and the virtuous? His lot was cast among the licentious inmates of a camp, the school of rapine, whose only law was the sword, and who looked on the wretched Indian and his heritage as their rightful spoil.
Who does not shudder at the thought of what his own fate might have been, trained in such a school? The amount of crime does not necessarily show the criminality of the agent. History, indeed, is concerned with the former, that it may be recorded as a warning to mankind; but it is He alone who knoweth the heart, the strength of the temptation, and the means of resisting it, that can determine the measure of the guilt
Movements Of The Conspirators. - Advance Of Vaca De Castro - Proceedings Of Almagro. - Progress Of The Governor. - The Forces Approach Each Other. - Bloody Plains Of Chupas. - Conduct Of Vaca De Castro.
The first step of the conspirators, after securing possession of the capital, was to send to the different cities, proclaiming the revolution which had taken place, and demanding the recognition of the young Almagro as governor of Peru. Where the summons was accompanied by a military force, as at Truxillo and Arequipa, it was obeyed without much cavil. But in other cities a colder assent was given, and in some the requisition was treated with contempt. In Cuzco, the place of most importance next to Lima, a considerable number of the Almagro faction secured the ascendency of their party; and such of the magistracy as resisted were ejected from their offices to make room for others of a more accommodating temper. But the loyal inhabitants of the city, dissatisfied with this proceeding, privately sent to one of Pizarro's captains, named Alvarez de Holguin, who lay with a considerable force in the neighbourhood; and that officer, entering the place, soon dispossessed the new dignitaries of their honors, and restored the ancient capital to its allegiance.
The conspirators experienced a still more determined opposition from Alonso de Alvarado. one of the principal captains of Pizarro, - defeated, as the reader will remember, by the elder Almagro at the bridge of Abancay, - and now lying in the north with a corps of about two hundred men, as good troops as any in the land. That officer, on receiving tidings of his general's assassination, instantly wrote to the Licentiate Vaca de Castro, advising him of the state of affairs in Peru, and urging him to quicken his march towards the south. *1
[Footnote 1: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 13. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 7. - Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. - Carta del Maestro, Martin de Arauco, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
This functionary had been sent out by the Spanish Crown, as noticed in a preceding chapter, to cooperate with Pizarro in restoring tranquillity to the country, with authority to assume the government himself, in case of that commander's death. After a long and tempestuous voyage, he had landed, in the spring of 1541, at the port of Buena Ventura, and, disgusted with the dangers of the sea, preferred to continue his wearisome journey by land. But so enfeebled was he by the hardships he had undergone, that it was full three months before he reached Popayan, where he received the astounding tidings of the death of Pizarro. This was the contingency which had been provided for, with such judicious forecast, in his instructions. Yet he was sorely perplexed by the difficulties of his situation. He was a stranger in the land, with a very imperfect knowledge of the country, without an armed force to support him, without even the military science which might be supposed necessary to avail himself of it. He knew nothing of the degree of Almagro's influence, or of the extent to which the insurrection had spread, - nothing, in short, of the dispositions of the people among whom he was cast.
In such an emergency, a feebler spirit might have listened to the counsels of those who advised to return to Panama, and stay there until he had mustered a sufficient force to enable him to take the field against the insurgents with advantage. But the courageous heart of Vaca de Castro shrunk from a step which would proclaim his incompetency to the task assigned him. He had confidence in his own resources, and in the virtue of the commission under which he acted. He relied, too, on the habitual loyalty of the Spaniards; and, after mature deliberation, he determined to go forward, and trust to events for accomplishing the objects of his mission.
He was confirmed in this purpose by the advices he now received from Alvarado; and without longer delay, he continued his march towards Quito. Here he was well received by Gonzalo Pizarro's lieutenant, who had charge of the place during his commander's absence on his expedition to the Amazon. The licentiate was also joined by Benalcazar, the conqueror of Quito, who brought a small reinforcement, and offered personally to assist him in the prosecution of his enterprise. He now displayed the royal commission, empowering him, on Pizarro's death, to assume the government. That contingency had arrived, and Vaca de Castro declared his purpose to exercise the authority conferred on him. At the same time, he sent emissaries to the principal cities, requiring their obedience to him as the lawful representative of the Crown, - taking care to employ discreet persons on the mission, whose character would have weight with the citizens. He then continued his march slowly towards the south. *2 [Footnote 2: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6, lib. 10, cap. 4. - Carta de Benalcazar al Emperador, desde Cali, Ms., 20 Septiembre, 1542. Benalcazar urged Vaca de Castro to assume only the title of Judge, and not that of Governor, which would conflict with the pretensions of Almagro to that part of the country known as New Toledo and bequeathed to him by his father "Porque yo le avise muchas veces no entrase en la tierra como Governador, sino como Juez de V. M que venia a desagraviar a los agraviados, porque todos lo rescibirian de buena gana." Ubi supra.] He was willing by his deliberate movements to give time for his summons to take effect, and for the fermentation caused by the late extraordinary events to subside. He reckoned confidently on the loyalty which made the Spaniard unwilling, unless in cases of the last extremity, to come into collision with the royal authority; and, however much this popular sentiment might be disturbed by temporary gusts of passion, he trusted to the habitual current of their feelings for giving the people a right direction. In this he did not miscalculate; for so deep-rooted was the principle of loyalty in the ancient Spaniard, that ages of oppression and misrule could alone have induced him to shake off his allegiance. Sad it is, but not strange, that the length of time passed under a bad government has not qualified him for devising a good one.
While these events were passing in the north, Almagro's faction at Lima was daily receiving new accessions of strength. For, in addition to those who, from the first, had been avowedly of his father's party, there were many others who, from some cause or other, had conceived a disgust for Pizarro, and who now willingly enlisted under the banner of the chief that had overthrown him.
The first step of the young general, or rather of Rada, who directed his movements, was to secure the necessary supplies for the troops, most of whom, having long been in indigent circumstances, were wholly unprepared for service. Funds to a considerable amount were raised, by seizing on the moneys of the Crown in the hands of the treasurer. Pizarro's secretary, Picado, was also drawn from his prison, and interrogated as to the place where his master's treasures were deposited. But, although put to the torture, he would not - or, as is probable, could not - give information on the subject; and the conspirators, who had a long arrear of injuries to settle with him, closed their proceedings by publicly beheading him in the great square of Lima. *3
[Footnote 3: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. - Carta de Fray Vicente Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms.]
Valverde, Bishop of Cuzco, as he himself assures us, vainly interposed in his behalf. It is singular, that, the last time this fanatical prelate appears on the stage, it should be in the benevolent character of a supplicant for mercy. *4 Soon afterwards, he was permitted, with the judge, Velasquez, and some other adherents of Pizarro, to embark from the port of Lima. We have a letter from him, dated at Tumbez, in November, 1541; almost immediately after which he fell into the hands of the Indians, and with his companions was massacred at Puna. A violent death not unfrequently closed the stormy career of the American adventurer. Valverde was a Dominican friar, and, like Father Olmedo in the suite of Cortes, had been by his commander's side throughout the whole of his expedition. But he did not always, like the good Olmedo, use his influence to stay the uplifted hand of the warrior. At least, this was not the mild aspect in which he presented himself at the terrible massacre of Caxamalca. Yet some contemporary accounts represent him, after he had been installed in his episcopal office, as unwearied in his labors to convert the natives, and to ameliorate their condition; and his own correspondence with the government, after that period, shows great solicitude for these praiseworthy objects. Trained in the severest school of monastic discipline, which too often closes the heart against the common charities of life, he could not, like the benevolent Las Casas, rise so far above its fanatical tenets as to regard the heathen as his brother, while in the state of infidelity; and, in the true spirit of that school, he doubtless conceived that the sanctity of the end justified the means, however revolting in themselves. Yet the same man, who thus freely shed the blood of the poor native to secure the triumph of his faith, would doubtless have as freely poured out his own in its defence. The character was no uncommon one in the sixteenth century. *5 [Footnote 4: "Siendo informado que andavan ordenando la muerte a Antonio Picado secretario del Marques que tenian preso, fui a Don Diego e a eu Capitan General Joan de Herrada e a todos sus capitanes, i les puse delante el servicio de Dios i de S. M. i que bastase en lo fecho por respeto de Dios, humillandome a sus pies porque no lo matasen: i no basto que luego dende a pocos dias lo sacaron a la plaza desta cibdad donde le cortaron la cabeza." Carta de Fray Vicente de Valverde, desde Tumbez, Ms] [Footnote 5: "Quel Senor obispo Fray Vicente de Balverde como persona que jamas ha tenido fin ni zelo al servicio de Dios ni de S. M. ni menos en la conversion de los naturales en los poner e dotrinar en las cosas de nuestra santa fee catholica, ni menos en entender en la paz e sosiego destos reynos, sino a sus intereses propios dando mal ejemplo a todos." (Carta de Almagro a la Audiencia de Panama, Ms. , 8 de Nov. 1541.) The writer, it must be remembered was his personal enemy.]
Almagro's followers, having supplied themselves with funds, made as little scruple to appropriate to their own use such horses and arms, of every description, as they could find in the city. And this they did with the less reluctance, as the inhabitants for the most part testified no good-will to their cause. While thus employed, Almagro received intelligence that Holguin had left Cuzco with a force of near three hundred men, with which he was preparing to effect a junction with Alvarado in the north. It was important to Almagro's success that he should defeat this junction. If to procrastinate was the policy of Vaca de Castro, it was clearly that of Almagro to quicken operations, and to bring matters to as speedy an issue as possible; to march at once against Holguin, whom he might expect easily to overcome with his superior numbers; then to follow up the stroke by the still easier defeat of Alvarado, when the new governor would be, in a manner, at his mercy. It would be easy to beat these several bodies in detail, which, once united, would present formidable odds. Almagro and his party had already arrayed themselves against the government by a proceeding too atrocious, and which struck too directly at the royal authority, for its perpetrators to flatter themselves with the hopes of pardon. Their only chance was boldly to follow up the blow, and, by success, to place themselves in so formidable an attitude as to excite the apprehensions of government. The dread of its too potent vassal might extort terms that would never be conceded to his prayers.
But Almagro and his followers shrunk from this open collision with the Crown. They had taken up rebellion because it lay in their path, not because they had wished it. They had meant only to avenge their personal wrongs on Pizarro, and not to defy the royal authority. When, therefore, some on the more resolute, who followed things fearlessly to their consequences, proposed to march at once against Vaca de Castro, and, by striking at the head, settle the contest by a blow, it was almost universally rejected; and it was not till after long debate that it was finally determined to move against Holguin, and cut off his communication with Alonso de Alvarado.
Scarcely had Almagro commenced his march on Xauxa, where he proposed to give battle to his enemy, than he met with a severe misfortune in the death of Juan de Rada. He was a man somewhat advanced in years; and the late exciting scenes, in which he had taken the principal part, had been too much for a frame greatly shattered by a life of extraordinary hardship. He was thrown into a fever, of which he soon after died. By his death, Almagro sustained an inestimable loss; for, besides his devoted attachment to his young leader, he was, by his large experience, and his cautious though courageous character, better qualified than any other cavalier in the army to conduct him safely through the stormy sea on which he had led him to embark.
Among the cavaliers of highest consideration after Rada's death, the two most aspiring were Christoval de Sotelo, and Garcia de Alvarado; both possessed of considerable military talent, but the latter marked by a bold, presumptuous manner, which might remind one of his illustrious namesake, who achieved much higher renown under the banner of Cortes. Unhappily, a jealousy grew up between these two officers; that jealousy, so common among the Spaniards, that it may seem a national characteristic; an impatience of equality, founded on a false principle of honor, which has ever been the fruitful source of faction among them, whether under a monarchy or a republic.
This was peculiarly unfortunate for Almagro, whose inexperience led him to lean for support on others, and who, in the present distracted state of his council, knew scarcely where to turn for it. In the delay occasioned by these dissensions, his little army did not reach the valley of Xauxa till after the enemy had passed it. Almagro followed close, leaving behind his baggage and artillery that he might move the lighter. But the golden opportunity was lost. The rivers, swollen by autumnal rains, impeded his pursuit; and, though his light troops came up with a few stragglers of the rear-guard, Holguin succeeded in conducting his forces through the dangerous passes of the mountains, and in effecting a junction with Alonso de Alvarado, near the northern seaport of Huaura. Disappointed in his object, Almagro prepared to march on Cuzco, - the capital, as he regarded it, of his own jurisdiction, - to get possession of that city, and there make preparations to meet his adversary in the field. Sotelo was sent forward with a small corps in advance. He experienced no opposition from the now defenceless citizens; the government of the place was again restored to the hands of the men of Chili, and their young leader soon appeared at the head of his battalions, and established his winter-quarters in the Inca capital.
Here, the jealousy of the rival captains broke out into an open feud. It was ended by the death of Sotelo, treacherously assassinated in his own apartment by Garcia de Alvarado. Almagro, greatly outraged by this atrocity, was the more indignant, as he felt himself too weak to punish the offender. He smothered his resentment for the present, affecting to treat the dangerous officer with more distinguished favor. But Alvarado was not the dupe of this specious behaviour. He felt that he had forfeited the confidence of his commander. In revenge, he laid a plot to betray him; and Almagro, driven to the necessity of self-defence, imitated the example of his officer, by entering his house with a party of armed men, who, laying violent hands on the insurgent, slew him on the spot. *6 [Footnote 6: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 10 - 14. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind., cap. 147. Declaracion de Uscategui, Ms. - Carta de Barrio Nuevo, Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 6 lib. 10, cap. 13; dec. 7 lib. 3 cap. 1, 5.] This irregular proceeding was followed by the best consequences. The seditious schemes of Alvarado perished with him. The seeds of insubordination were eradicated, and from that moment Almagro experienced only implicit obedience and the most loyal support from his followers. From that hour, too, his own character seemed to be changed; he relied far less on others than on himself, and developed resources not to have been anticipated in one of his years; for he had hardly reached the age of twenty-two. *7 From this time he displayed an energy and forecast, which proved him, in despite of his youth, not unequal to the trying emergencies of the situation in which it was his unhappy lot to be placed. [Footnote 7: "Hico mas que su edad requeria, porque seria de edad de veinte i dos anos." Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 4, cap. 20.] He instantly set about providing for the wants of his men, and strained every nerve to get them in good fighting order for the approaching campaign. He replenished his treasury with a large amount of silver which he drew from the mines of La Plata Saltpetre, obtained in abundance in the neighbourhood of Cuzco, furnished the material for gunpowder. He caused cannon, some of large dimensions, to be cast under the superintendence of Pedro de Candia, the Greek, who, it may be remembered, had first come into the country with Pizarro, and who, with a number of his countrymen, - Levantines, as they were called, - was well acquainted with this manufacture. Under their care, fire-arms were made, together with cuirasses and helmets, in which silver was mingled with copper, *8 and of so excellent a quality, that they might vie, says an old soldier of the time, with those from the workshops of Milan. *9 Almagro received a seasonable supply, moreover, from a source scarcely to have been expected. This was from Manco, the wandering Inca, who, detesting the memory of Pizarro, transferred to the young Almagro the same friendly feelings which he had formerly borne to his father; heightened, it may be, by the consideration that Indian blood flowed in the veins of the young commander. From this quarter Almagro obtained a liberal supply of swords, spears, shields, and arms and armour of every description, chiefly taken by the Inca at the memorable siege of Cuzco. He also received the gratifying assurance, that the latter would support him with a detachment of native troops when he opened the campaign.