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W. H. PRESCOTT: 1796-1859.
Prescott, a celebrated American historian, ranks with Robertson as a
master of the art of narrative, while he excels him in the variety of his illustrative researches. His works are The History of Ferdinand and Isabella, The Conquest of Mexico, The Conquest of Peru, and The History of Philip II. of Spain.
FATAL VISIT OF THE INCA TO PIZARRO
IN THE CITY OF CAXAMALCA,
From The Conquest of Peru. It was not long before sunset when the van of the royal procession entered the gates of the city.
Elevated high above his vassals came the Inca Atahuallpa, borne on a sedan or open litter, on which was a sort of throne made of massive gold of inestimable value. The palanquin was lined with the richly-coloured plumes of tropical birds, and studded with shining plates of gold and silver. Round his neck was suspended a collar of emeralds, of uncommon size and brilliancy. His short hair was decorated with golden ornaments, and the imperial borla encircled his temples. The bearing of the Inca was sedate and dignified ; and from his lofty station he looked down on the multitudes below with an air of composure, like one accustomed to command.
As the leading files of the procession entered the great square, larger, says an old chronicler, than any square in Spain, they opened to the right and left for the royal retinue to pass. Everything was conducted with admirable order. The monarch was permitted to traverse the plaza in silence, and not a Spaniard was to be seen.
When some five or six thousand of his people had entered the place, Atahuallpa halted, and, turning round with an inquiring look, demanded, “Where are the strangers ?'
At this moment Fray Vicente de Valverde, a Dominican friar, Pizarro's chaplain, and afterwards Bishop of Cuzco, came forward with his breviary, or, as other accounts say, a Bible in one hand, and a crucifix in the other, and approaching the Inça, told him that he came by order of his commander to expound to him the doctrines of the true faith, for which purpose the Spaniards had
come from a great distance to his country. The friar then explained, as clearly as he could, the mysterious doctrine of the Trinity, and, ascending high in his account, began with the creation of man, thence passed to his fall, to his subsequent redemption by Jesus Christ, to the crucifixion, and the ascension, when the Saviour left the apostle Peter as his vicegerent upon earth. This power had been transmitted to the successors of the apostle, good and wise men, who, under the title of Popes, held authority over all powers and potentates on earth. One of the last of these Popes had commissioned the Spanish emperor, the most mighty monarch in the world, to conquer and convert the natives in this western hemisphere; and his general, Francisco Pizarro, had now come to execute this important mission. The friar concluded with beseeching the Peruvian monarch to receive him kindly; to abjure the errors of his own faith, and embrace that of the Christians now proffered to him, the only one by which he could hope for salvation; and, furthermore, to acknowledge himself a tributary of the Emperor Charles the Fifth, who, in that event, would aid and protect him as his loyal vassal.
Whether Atahuallpa possessed himself of every link in the curious chain of argument by which the monk connected Pizarro with St Peter, may be doubted. It is certain, however, that he must have had very incorrect notions of the Trinity, if, as Garcilasso states, the interpreter Felipillo explained it by saying, that the Christians believed in three Gods and one God, and that made four. But there is no doubt he perfectly comprehended that the drift of the discourse was to persuade him to resign his sceptre and acknowledge the supremacy of another.
The eyes of the Indian monarch flashed fire, and his dark brow grew darker, as he replied : ‘I will be no man's tributary ! greater than any prince upon earth. Your emperor may be a great prince ; I do not doubt it, when I see that he has sent his subjects so far across the waters; and I am willing to hold him as a brother. As for the Pope of whom you speak, he must be crazy to talk of giving away countries which do not belong to him. For my faith,' he continued, 'I will not change it. Your own God, as you say, was put to death by the very men whom he created. But mine,' he concluded, pointing to his deity—then, alas ! sinking in glory behind the mountains my god still lives in the heavens, and looks down on his children.'
He then demanded of Valverde by what authority he had said
these things. The friar pointed to the book which he held as his authority. Atahuallpa, taking it, turned over the pages a moment, then, as the insult he had received probably flashed across his mind, he threw it down with vehemence, and exclaimed : 'Tell your comrades that they shall give me an account of their doings in my land. I will not go from here till they have made me full satisfaction for all the wrongs they have committed.'
The friar, greatly scandalised by the indignity offered to the sacred volume, stayed only to pick it up, and hastening to Pizarro, informed him of what had been done, exclaiming at the same time: “Do you not see that while we stand here wasting our breath in talking with this dog, full of pride as he is, the fields are filling with Indians ? Set on at once ; I absolve you.' Pizarro saw that the hour had come. He waved a white scarf in the air, the appointed signal. The fatal gun was fired from the fortress. Then springing into the square, the Spanish captain and his followers shouted the old war-cry of “St Jago and at them!'
It was answered by the battle-cry of every Spaniard in the city, as, rushing from the avenues of the great halls in which they were concealed, they poured into the plaza, horse and foot, each in his own dark column, and threw themselves into the midst of the Indian crowd. The latter, taken by surprise, stunned by the report of artillery and muskets, the echoes of which reverberated like thunder from the surrounding buildings, and blinded by the smoke which rolled in sulphureous volumes along the square, were seized with a panic. They knew not whither to fly for refuge from the coming ruin. Nobles and commoners-all were trampled down under the fierce charge of the cavalry, who dealt their blows right and left, without sparing; while their swords, flashing through the thick gloom, carried dismay into the hearts of the wretched natives, who now, for the first time, saw the horse and his rider in all their terrors. They made no resistance--as, indeed, they had no weapons with which to make it. Every avenue to escape was closed, for the entrance to the square was choked up with the dead bodies of men who had perished in vain efforts to fly; and such was the agony of the survivors under the terrible pressure of their assailants, that a large body of Indians, by their convulsive struggles, burst through the wall of stone and dried clay which formed part of the boundary of the plaza ! It fell, leaving an opening of more than a hundred paces, through which multitudes now found their way into the country, still hotly pursued by the cavalry, who, leaping the fallen rubbish, hung on the rear of the fugitives, striking them down in all directions.
Meanwhile the fight, or rather massacre, continued hot around the Inca, whose person was the great object of the assault. His faithful nobles, rallying about him, threw themselves in the way of the assailants, and strove, by tearing them from their saddles, or at least by offering their own bosoms as a mark for their vengeance, to shield their beloved master. It is said by some authorities that they carried weapons concealed under their clothes. If so, it availed them little, as it is not pretended that they used them. But the most timid animal will defend itself when at bay. That they did not so in the present instance, is proof that they had no weapons to use. Yet they still continued to force back the cavaliers, clinging to their horses with dying grasp, and as one was cut down, another taking the place of his fallen comrade with a loyalty truly affecting.
The Indian monarch, stunned and bewildered, saw his faithful subjects falling round him without hardly comprehending his situation. The litter on which he rode heaved to and fro, as the mighty press swayed backwards and forwards; and he gazed on the overwhelming ruin, like some forlorn mariner, who, tossed about in his bark by the furious elements, sees the lightning's flash and hears the thunder bursting around him, with the consciousness that he can do nothing to avert his fate. At length, weary with the work of destruction, the Spaniards, as the shades of evening grew deeper, felt afraid that the royal prize might, after all, elude them ; and some of the cavaliers made a desperate attempt to end the affray at once by taking Atahuallpa’s life. But Pizarro, who was nearest his person, called out with stentorian voice : 'Let no one, who values his life, strike at the Inca ;' and stretching out his arm to shield him, received a wound on the hand from one of his
n—the only wound received by a Spaniard in the action. The struggle now became fiercer than ever round the royal litter. It reeled more and more, and at length several of the nobles who supported it having been slain, it was overturned, and the Indian prince would have come with violence to the ground, had not his fall been broken by the efforts of Pizarro and some other of the cavaliers, who caught him in their arms. The imperial borla was instantly snatched from his temples by a soldier named Estete, and the unhappy monarch, strongly secured, was removed to a neighbouring building, where he was carefully guarded.
All attempt at resistance now ceased. The fate of the Inca soon spread over town and country. The charm which might have held the Peruvians together was dissolved. Every man thought only of his own safety. Even the soldiery encamped on the adjacent fields took the alarm, and, learning the fatal tidings, were seen flying in every direction before their pursuers, who in the heat of triumph shewed no touch of mercy. At length night, more pitiful than man, threw her friendly mantle over the fugitives, and the scattered troops of Pizarro rallied once more at the sound of the trumpet in the bloody square of Caxamalca.
SIR EDWARD BULWER LYTTON: 1805.
Bulwer Lytton has obtained distinction in almost every department
of literature-in poetry, the drama, the historical romance, domestic novel, philosophical essay, and political disquisition—but it is on his novels that his fame chiefly rests. Of his numerous works of fiction, the more important are the historical romances, entitled The Last Days of Pompeii, Rienzi, Harold, The Last of the Barons, and his tales of English life, The Caxtons, My Novel, and What Will He do with It? His Lady of Lyons and Richelieu are among the most popular of modern English plays. Lytton entered parliament in 1831. He received a baronetcy in 1835, and in 1858 he joined the administration of Lord Derby as Secretary for Colonial Affairs.
THE PARISH STOCKS. From My Novel.
"There has never been occasion to use them since I've been in the parish,' said Parson Dale.
“What does that prove ?' quoth the Squire sharply, and looking the Parson full in the face.
*Prove !' repeated Mr Dale, with a smile of benign, yet too conscious superiority— What does experience prove ?'
“That your forefathers were great blockheads, and that their descendant is not a whit the wiser.'
Squire,' replied the Parson, although that is a melancholy conclusion, yet if you mean it to apply universally, and not to the family of the Dales in particular, it is not one which my candour as a reasoner, and my humility as a mortal, will permit me to challenge.'