« ZurückWeiter »
eye of a prophet. His avarice was of that shortsighted kind which defeats itself. He had sacrificed the chivalrous Balboa just as that officer was opening to him the conquest of Peru, and he would now have quenched the spirit of enterprise, that was taking the same direction, in Pizarro and his associates.
Not long after this, in the following year, he was succeeded in his government by Don Pedro de los Rios, a cavalier of Cordova. It was the policy of the Castilian crown to allow no one of the great colonial officers to occupy the same station so long as to render himself formidable by his authority. It had, moreover, many particular causes of disgust with Pedrarias. The functionary sent out to succeed him was fortified with ample instructions for the good of the colony, and especially of the natives, whose religious conversion was urged as a capital object, and whose personal freedom was unequivocally asserted, as loyal vassals of the crown. It is but justice to the Spanish government to admit that its provisions were generally guided by a humane and considerate policy, which was as regularly frustrated by the cupidity of the colonist and the capricious cruelty of the conqueror. The few remaining years of Pedrarias were spent in petty squabbles, both of a personal and official nature; for he was still continued in office, though in one of less consideration than that which he had hitherto filled. He survived but a few years, leaving behind him a reputation not to be envied, of one who united a pusillanimous spirit with uncontrollable passions, but who displayed, notwithstanding, a certain energy of character, or, to speak more correctly, an impetuosity of purpose, which might have led to good results had it taken a right direction. Unfortunately, his lack of discretion was such that the direction he took was rarely of service to his country or to himself.
namá, destrozados y gastados que ya no tenian haciendas para tornar con provisiones y gentes que todo lo habian gastado, el dicho Pedrarias de Avila les dijo, que ya el no queria mas hacer compañia con ellos en los gastos de la armada, que si ellos querian volver á su costa, que lo hiciesen; y 'ansi como gente que habia perdido todo lo que tenia y tanto habia trabajado, acordaron de tornar á proseguir su jornada y dar fin á las vidas y haciendas que les quedaba, 6 descubrir aquella tierra, y ciertamente ellos tubieron grande constancia y animo." Relacion del primer Descub., MS.
3 This policy is noticed by the sagacious Martyr: “De mutandis namque plærisque gubernatoribus, ne longa nimis imperii assuetudine insolescant, cogitatur, qui præcipue non fuerint prouinciarum domitores, de hisce ducibus namque alia ratio ponderatur." (De Orbe Novo (Parisiis, 1587), p. 498.) One cannot but regret that the philosopher who took so keen an interest in the successive revelations of the different portions of the New World should have died before the empire of the Incas was disclosed to Europeans. He lived to .earn and to record the wonders of
Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezuma;
Having settled their difficulties with the governor, and obtained his sanction to their enterprise, the confederates lost no time in making the requisite preparations for it. Their first step was to execute the memorable contract which served as the basis of their future arrangements; and, as Pizarro's name appears in this, it seems probable that that chief had crossed over to Panamá so soon as the favorable disposition of Pedrarias had been secured. The instrument, after
4 In opposition to most authorities,-but not to the judicious Quintana - I have conformed to Montesinos, in placing the execution of
invoking in the most solemn manner the names of the Holy Trinity and Our Lady the Blessed Virgin, sets forth that whereas the parties have full authority to discover and subdue the countries and provinces lying south of the Gulf, belonging to the empire of Peru, and as Fernando de Luque had advanced the funds for the enterprise in bars of gold of the value of twenty thousand pesos, they mutually bind themselves to divide equally among them the whole of the conquered territory. This stipulation is reiterated over and over again, particularly with reference to Luque, who, it is declared, is to be entitled to one-third of all lands, repartimientos, treasures of every kind, gold, silver, and precious stones,—to one-third even of all vassals, rents, and emoluments arising from such grants as may be conferred by the crown on either of his military associates, to be held for his own use, or for that of his heirs, assigns, or legal representative.
The two captains solemnly engage to devote themselves exclusively to the present undertaking until it is accomplished; and in case of failure in their part of the covenant they pledge themselves to reimburse Luque for his advances, for which all the property they possess shall be held responsible, and this declaration is to be a sufficient warrant for the execution of judgment against them, in the same manner as if it had proceeded from the decree of a court of justice.
The commanders, Pizarro and Almagro, made oath,
the contract at the commencement of the second, instead of the first expedition. This arrangement coincides with the date of the instrument itself, which, moreover, is reported in extenso by no ancient writer whom I have consulted except Montesinos.
in the name of God and the Holy Evangelists, sacredly to keep this covenant, swearing it on the missal, on which they traced with their own hands the sacred emblem of the cross. To give still greater efficacy to the compact, Father Luque administered the sacrament to the parties, dividing the consecrated wafer into three portions, of which each one of them partook; while the by-standers, says an historian, were affected to tears by this spectacle of the solemn ceremonial with which these men voluntarily devoted themselves to a sacrifice that seemed little short of insanity.s
The instrument, which was dated March 1oth, 1526, was subscribed by Luque, and attested by three respectable citizens of Panamá, one of whom signed on behalf .of Pizarro, and the other for Almagro; since neither of these parties, according to the avowal of the instrument, was able to subscribe his own name.6
Such was the singular compact by which three obscure individuals coolly carved out and partitioned among themselves an empire of whose extent, power, and resources, of whose situation, of whose existence even, they had no sure or precise knowledge. The positive and unhesitating manner in which they speak of the grandeur of this empire, of its stores of wealth, so conformable to the event, but of which they could have really known so little, forms a striking contrast with the general skepticism and indifference manifested
5 This singular instrument is given at length by Montesinos. (Annales, MS., año 1526.) It may be found in the original in Appendix No. 6.
6 For some investigation of the fact, which has been disputed by more than one, of Pizarro's ignorance of the art of writing, see book 4. chap. 5, of this History.
by nearly every other person, high and low, in the community of Panamá.
The religious tone of the instrument is not the least remarkable feature in it, especially when we contrast this with the relentless policy pursued by the very men who were parties to it in their conquest of the country. “In the name of the Prince of Peace,” says the illustrious historian of America, “they ratified a contract of which plunder and bloodshed were the objects.' The reflection seems reasonable. Yet, in criticising what is done, as well as what is written, we must take into account the spirit of the times. The invocation of Heaven was natural, where the object of the under taking was in part a religious one. Religion entered more or less into the theory, at least, of the Spanish conquests in the New World. That motives of a baser sort mingled largely with these higher ones, and in different proportions according to the character of the individual, no one will deny. And few are they that have proposed to themselves a long career of action without the intermixture of some vulgar personal motive,-fame, honors, or emolument. Yet that religion furnishes a key to the American crusades, however
The epithet of loco, or "madman," was punningly bestowed on Father Luque, for his spirited exertions in behalf of the enterprise : Padre Luque è loco, says Oviedo of him, as if it were synonymous. Historia de las Indias Islas e Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano, MS., Parte 3, lib. 8, cap. I. 8 Robertson, America, vol. iii. p. 5.
9" A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ," says the great bard of Reason. A fair criticism will apply the same rule to action as to writing, and, in the moral estimate of conduct, will take largely into account the spirit of the age which prompted it.