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Modern History:




Universal History


Containing the History of the Incas, and the Religion,

Government, Cuftoms, and Manners, of the ancient


HE origin of nations is so involved in obscurity, that Account of little can be related with certainty, respecting the the ancient

earlier periods, and remoter ages, of the most civilized Peruvians. people, that has any pretensions to antiquity. What fables are intermixed with the histories of Rome and Athens! Even the origin of modern nations, though posterior to the use of letters, hath its difficulties, and every day furnishes matter of debate among antiquaries: how, therefore, can we expect to find truth unmixed with fallhood and absurdity, in the accounts given by the barbarous natives of the origin of those kingdoms and empires, whose subversion afforded the first inlet to the enlightening beams of science, and the bright dawn diffused over every object, by the use of those characters invented happily to carry our ideas to pofterity, with the same precision they occured to our own minds? Accordingly we find, that nothing can be more improbable, fuperftitious, and ridiculous, than the account given of the Peruvians, before they were reduced by their Incas to a regular form of government, unless we except the means by MOD. HIST. VOL. XXXIX,




which this extraordinary change, and revolution of manners,
was effected. The genealogy of the sovereigns savours strong-
ly of that adulation ever paid to the rulers of the world, who
are often inferior to the brute creation; while they are re-
garded by their indiscriminating subjects as something above
human. Garcilaso de la Vega, the most authentic historian
of Peru, himself descended, by the mother, from the royal
line, lavishes his praises on the Incas, as the civilizers and
humanizers of a barbarous people, who wandered about like
the beasts of the fields, without laws, government, or the
least idea of virtue or rational religion. Perhaps he intended
to compliment the regal dignity at the expence of human na-
ture; certain it is, that the horrible picture he has drawn of.
the ancient Peruvians, before the foundation of their monar-
chy, is the highest panegyric on the conduct of the Incas.
If we may credit this writer, the ancestors of the Peruvians
were savages, distinguished from the brute creation only by
speech, and the human form; they were fierce, ignorant, and
cruel, almost beyond belief. We shall begin with their re-
ligion, if that term may be applied to such abominable su-
perstitious institutions, every way suitable to their corrupt
manners, and grovelling notions.

The ancient Peruvians, like the negroes on the coast of
Africa, bad a multiplicity of gods; almost every object that
presented itself was raised into a deity. Nations, provinces,
tribes, families, and individuals, had their peculiar gads; the
Peruvians not being able to comprehend how the same deity
should be able to attend to the various actions of different
persons. Herbs, flowers, trees, Thrubs, caves, rivers, and all
kinds of animals, were worshipped by this savage people,
who sacrificed to those material gods not only their enemies,
but their own children. Mountains. were adored for their
height, trees for their shade, tigers for their ferocity, other
animals for other qualities, and many for their power of doing
mischief. Garcilaso confirms the account of Blas Valera, who
relates, that the inhabitants of the mountains of the Andes
were man-eaters, and sacrificed their fellow creatures and even
their children to serpents, whom they deified. Prisoners taken
in war were immediately quartered and divided for the benefit
of the captors, or sold in the shambles. Should any person
of distinction happen to have fallen into the hands of this
favage tribe, they stripped him of his garments, tied him to a
Atake, cut him in pieces with knives and sharp stones, pared
off all the fleshy muscular parts, and sprinkling the bye-ftanders
with the blood, eat up the flesh with the utmost greediness,
before the eyes of the unhappy victim, regarding his excru-


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ciating anguish as the most delicious sauce. The women wet their nipples with the blood, that their infant children might partake of the fhocking sacrifice. All this was performed by way of religious offering; and when the wretched victim exa pired in agonies, the remainder of his flesh and bowels were devoured with a more solemn and filent reverence. “ Such," says Garcilaso, “ was the manner of these brutes, because the government of the Incas was not received into their country." Nor need we indeed be astonished at the profound veneration with which their race of princes was regarded, if the people ascribed to them the changes wrought on their manners.

The government of the ancient Peruvians was equally Manners. barbarous with their religion. There was no regular system of policy; a few families lived together in caves, rocks, and forests, and roamed for their prey over the country like wild beasts. Neither the arts of building, sowing, planting, or cloathing themselves, were known to these barbarians. Nature produced sufficient for their wants, in the spontaneous roots, fruits, and herbs, of the earth; and the only luxury known, was that of feeding upon the flesh of their fellow creatures. Sometimes a ruler started up among the Peruvians, and then they were reduced for a while to a kind of societies. Whoever had courage or policy enough to acquire a superiority, might easily cyrannize over the whole, and treat them as flaves. When this kind of despotism was established, the situation of the Peruvians became still more wretched; no change was wrought in their manners, and they lost their liberty. Their daughters and wives became the property of the tyrant; even their lives were sacrificed to his caprice, and their skins employed in covering drums, to regale the ears of this monster of cruelty. In other parts they lived without lords, passing their days like so many sheep in all simplicity; not that virtue moderated their nature, but thac stupidity rendered them equally insensible to gcod and evil. Even their barbarity was the result of their inienfibility. It was no way shocking to them to dispose of the flesh of their prisoners in the shambles, and fatien children, in order to be served up as delicacies to table. Lust unrestrained by laws, customs, or natural decency, was a ruling paffion among the Peruvians, who propagated like beasts without discrimination, and gratified their appetites with the first woman that offered. Where there was no regular society, there could scarce be any idea of those refined pallons of love and friendship, which are the result of communication and mutual converse. No regard was paid to kindred, or affinity of blood, in the grasi


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