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on a sentiment of tenderness natural to the human mind, strengthened by an anxiety to preserve the bodies of their countrymen from being devoured by their enemies.
Attention to this pious office occupied them during the heat of combat, broke their union, and lessened the force of the impression which they might have made by a joint cffort The imperfection of their offensive weapons rendered their valour of little avail. After three battles and many skirmishes and assaults, not one Spaniard was slain. Arrows and spears headed with flint, or the bones of fishes, and wooden swords, though destructive weapons among naked Indians, were easily turned asizle by the Spanish bucklers, and could hardly penetrate the quilted jackels worn by the soldiers...
Though the. Tlascalans attacked the Spaniards with sury, yet they seemed to be actuated by a barbarous geneTosity They gave the Spaniards notice of their hostile in. tentions; and as they knew they wanted provisions, and imagined, like other Americans, that they had left their own country because it did not afford them subsistence; they sent to their camp a large supply of poultry and
znaize, desiring them lo eat plentifully, because they (scorned to attack an enemy enfeebled by hunger; as it
would also be an affront to their gods to offer them fa. mished victims, as well as disagreeable to themselves to
feed upon such emaciated prey. .. After the first onset, finding they could not put this
Threat into execution, and that no withstanding the utmost efforts of their valour, that not one Spaniard was slain :
They began to alter their opinion, and concluded they - were a superior order of beings, against whom all human
power.could no: prevail. In this extreniity they consulted a laeir priests, who after many sacrifices and incantations, Å delivered this answer. “That as these strangers were ...“ the offspring of the sun, they were invincible only when “ cherished by his beams; but that at night when his
warming influence was withdrawn, they became like ll other men, and were easily subdued.” Opinions less plau, 1'sible, have gained credit with more enlightened nations.
In consequence of this, the Tlascalans acted in contra. be digtion to one of their established maxims in war, and ven- gured to attack the enemy in the night, in hopes of destroy
ing then, when weak and off their guarş. But Cortes had more discernment than to be surprized or deceived by the
ride strafagems of an Indian army. The cenuinels at the otit-posts, observing an uncommon niovement in the 11dian army, gave the alarm. In a munient the troops were under arins, and sallying ont, dispersed them with great slaughter, without allowing them to approach the camp.
Convinced by sad experience their priests had deceived them, and satisfied that it was in vain to attempt to de. ceive, or vanquish such powerful enemics, their fierceDess began to abate, and they were seriously inclined to peace. They were, however, at a loss in what manner they should address the strangers; what idea to form of their character, and whether to consider them as beings of a gentle or inalevolent nature. There were circunstances in their conduct that seemed to favour each opinion. The Spaniards had constantly dismissed their prisoners with presents of European (oys
This appeared extraordinary to inen who were used to Carry on an exterminating war, and who sacriticed and de. voured without mercy, their capiires taken in ballle. On the other hand, Cories bad cut off the hands of fifiy of the natives who came to the camp with provisions, and wliom he took to be spies. This contrariety of conduct occasion. ed that doubt and unceriainty which appeared in their acidress : “ 11," said they', " you are divinities of a cruel and K Savage nature, we present to you five slaves, that you " may drink their blood, and eat then flesh. If you are * mild deities, accept an offering of incense and valley'ated bi plumes, If you are man, here is bread and fruit io nou. o rish you." The peace was soon conclucled; ile Tluscalans yielded themselves as vassals to the crown of Cas. tite, and engaged to assist Cortes in all his future opere. tions. He took the republic under his protection, and promised to protect their persons and properly from injuTy and violence.
The profound veneration of the Tlascalans, encouraged Cortes to insist upon their abandoning their own superstitions, and that they should embrace the catholic faith. They were willing to acknuwledge the truth and excellence of what he taught, but contended that their gods were diviniiies no less deserving of adoration, than the gods of the Spaniards : and earnestly requested him not to urge them any further upon a subject, with which they could not in any manner yicld a compiance
Cortes enraged at their obstinacy, was preparing to urge by force, what he could not accomplish by persuasion ; and was going to overturn their altars, and throw down their idols, if father Bartholomew de Olmedo, chaplain to the expedition, had not checked his inconsiderate impetuosity. He represented the imprudence of such an attempt; and that religion was not to be propagated by the sword, nor infidels to be converted by violence; that other weapons were to be employed in their ministry, that patient instruction must enlighten the understanding, and pious example captivate the heart, before men could be brought to embrace the great truths of the christian religion. That a monk in the sixteenth century, when the idea of toleration was unknown, and when the rights of conscience were little understood, should be among the first advocates against persecution, and appear in beball of religious liberty, is really astonishing, and the mind is soothed with unexpected pleasure, to find such humane and liberal sentiments avowed in those dark ages of superstition.
The remonstrances of Olmedo had their proper weight with Cortes; he left the Tlascalans to the undisturbed exercise of their own rites, requiring only that they should desist from their horrid practice of offering human victims in sacrifice.
Cortes as soon as the troops were fit for service, re. 1 solved lo continue his march towards Mexico, not with. standing the earnest dissuasives of the Tascalans, who represented Montezuma as a faithless and cruel prince, who waited for an opportunity to destroy him.
Accompanied by six thousand Tlascalans, they, on the thirteenth of October, 1519, directed their course toward Cholula ; Montezuma, who had at length consented to admit the Spaniards into his presence, informed Cortes that he had given orders for his friendly reception there. Choo Jula was a considerable town, and though only five leagues distant from Tlascala, was formerly an indepen. dent state : but had lately been subjected to the Mexican empire.
This was considered by all the natives as a holy place, the sanctuary of their gods, to which devotees resort. ed from every province, and a greater number of huznan victims were offered in its temple, than in that of Mexico..
It was strongly suspected that Montezuma, either frona superstitious hope, that the gods would there revenge the insults with which the Spaniards every where treated them, or that he might have a greater certainty of success, as being under the protection of his gods. The event shewed these suspicions were not ill founded.
Cortes, who had been warned by the Tlascalans to keep a watchful eye upon the Cholulans, though received into the town with much seeining respect and cordiality, soon observed several circumstances in their conduct, which ex. cited suspicion. Two of the Tlascalans, who were en. camped at some distance from the town, and who were not admitted by their ancient enemies within their precincts, found means to enter in disguise, and informed Cortes that they observed the children of the principal citizens retiring in great haste every night, and that six children had been sacrificed in the chief temple ; a rite that indicated the execution of some warlike enterprize was near at hand. At the same time, Marina the interpreter, receive ed information from an Indian woinan of distinction, vhose confidence she had gained, that the destruction of her friends was concerted; that a body of Mexican troops lay concealed near the town; that some of the streets were barricadoed, and in others pits and decp trenches were dug, and slightly covered over, into which the horse might fall, that stones and missile weapons were collect: ed on the tops of the temples, with which to overwhelm the infantry ; that the fatal hour was now at hand, and their ruin unavoidable. ;
Cortes alarmed at this concurring evidence, secretly arrested three of theʻchief priests; from these he extorted a confession that confirmed the intelligence he had receive ed. He therefore intsantly resolved to prevent his enemies effecting their designs ; and to inflict such an exemplary vengeance, as would strike Montezuma and his subjects vith terror.
The Spaniards and Zempoallans were drawn up in a large square, which had been allotted them for quarters, near the centre of the town: the Tlascalans had orders to advance ; the magistrates and chief citizens were sent for under various pretexts, seized and confined. On a signal given, the troops rushed out, and fell upon the multitude who were destitute of leaders, and so much astonished that the weapons fell from their hands, while they slood m
tionless, incapable of defence. As the Spaniards pressed thein in front, the Tlascalans attacked them in the rear. The streets were filled with bloodshed and death. The temples, which afforded a retreat to the priests, and some of the leading natives, were set on fire, and they perished in the flames. This scene of horror continued iwo days; at length the carnage ceased, after the slaughter of six thousand Cholulans, without the loss of a single Spaniard.
Cortes then released the magistrates, reproaching them bitterly for their intended treachery ; declaring that as justice was now appeased, he forgave the offence; but required them to recall the citizens who had fled, and re. store order in the town
Such was the ascendancy which the Spaniards had acquired over these superstitious people, and so deeply were they impressed with an opinion that they were more than mortals, that they immediately obeyed the command. The city was in a few days repeopled, who amidst the ruin of their sacred buildings yielded respectful service to men who had embrued their hands in the blood of their relations and friends.
From Cholula, Cortes advanced directly towards Mexico, which was only twenty leagues distant. As they passed through the country, the soldiers were greatly animated as they descended from the mountains of Chalco, across which the road lay : the vast plain of Mexico opened to their view. When they first beheld this pros. pect, one of the most striking and beautiful on the face of the earth, when they observed fertile and cultivated fields, stretching farther than the eye could reach; when they saw, a lake resembling the sea in extent, and discovered the capital city rising upon an island in the middle, adorned with its temples and turrets, che scene so far exceeded their imagination, that some were induced to believe the fanciful descriptions of romance were realized, and that its enchanted palaces and gilded domes were presented to their sight; others could hardly be persuaded that this wonderful spectacle was any thing more than a dream.
A3 they advanced, their doubts were removed, but their amazement increased. They were now fully satisfied that the country was rich, beyond what they had conceived ; and flattered themselves that they should soon obtain an ample reward for all their services and sufferings.