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emotion-the love of the beautiful-is one that should escape the censure, even of the mere man of policy. The war was renewed. The work of desolation advanced. The Mexicans struggled on, in spite of famine and other woes. Their provisions were exhausted. They lived on rats and reptiles, on the mucilaginous weeds and scum which floated upon the lake. Verily, their resolution was worthy of that ancient Spanish town, which, in the wars of Rome, opposed itself, through like perils and necessities, to the conquests of the great Scipio. One more effort was made by Cortés to subdue the resolution of Guatemozin. But in vain. The stubborn Prince forbade that any of his followers should hereafter, on pain of death, speak of surrender. The answer of the Mexicans, for which the Spaniards waited two days, was spoken with their weapons, in a general sortie. Their strength was not equal to their fury. The attempt betrayed their impotence--they recoiled from the dreadful fire of artillery and musketry from causeway and brigantine, which received their columns-recoiled and shrunk back into the yet secure quarters of the capital, wearied and fainting with their futile endeavors.
These were not destined long be secure. The work of demolition went forward. Cortés, with all the inflexibility of a destroying angel, steadily pursued his plan for making sure his footsteps. The citadel whence he drove the savages, was immediately cast down by his pioneers. Palace, and temple, and dwelling, shared the same fate. Daily, with this labor before them, the several divisions of the Spanish entered the departments of the city which were assigned them for destruction. Their progress was slow, but terribly certain. The very slowness of the operation, as it betrayed the patience of the invader, declared his unyielding determination. Vainly did the Aztecs rage from their high places where they yet lingered. Their lordly edifices were tumbled into the canals before their eyes. Dry land occupied the place of water. Ruin raised his mutilated front where stood the consecrated tower. There was fighting still, daily and continued struggles, but it was / without effects, save where it helped on the invader. Weeks were consumed in these struggles and these labors, and the Aztecs were as unyielding as the Spaniards. We should occupy too much space to attempt the description of even the most terrible of their conflicts. Devoted as they were
to death, they might well fight to desperation. The ordinary means of subsistence had long since failed them. They gnawed the bark of trees, the roots of the earth—they drank brackish water from the lakes. Pestilence followed in the train of famine. They sickened and died in the highways, their bodies lying, unburied and putrifying, in court yard and canal. The famishing survivors looked like spectres, but without the power to affright. Their dwellings presented yet more appalling sights. While some were struggling in the agonies of death, others were festering in corruption. Women and children perishing of hunger, men mangled in battle, and crawling from sight, on the approach
the invader, as it were, in the very mockery of But, impotent as they were, and in all this suffering, the Aztecs breathed nothing of submission. They had imbibed the indomitable spirit of their monarch, and the people were as one man. The women shared their spirit, and, standing by their feeble warriors in battle, prepared their slings, supplied their stones and arrows, and confronted all danger at their sides, with the constancy of a temper that already knew the worst.
At length, the invaders reached the market place of Mexico, a vast inclosure covering many an acre. They had gained it after a dreadful struggle. They had passed the single canal which lay in their way. They had won the huge teocalli of the Aztec war god, and consigned its sanctuary to the flames. These successes were not of easy achievement. The defence of these shrines called forth all the spirit of superstition and patriotism. They fought as in the best days of their valour: but they fought against the fates. The genius of the invader mocked their struggles, as impotent against his fortune. They could only howl in piteous lamentations, as, baffling their skill and valour, and defying their deities, they beheld the conquerors firing the consecrated dwellings of gods to whom they had vainly given their faith and confidence.
The young Emperor of the Aztecs, meanwhile, remained courageous and immovable. His capital was in ruin before his
eyes. His nobles and subjects were dying around him. The limits of his reign were so narrowed that he might stretch forth his hand, and on every side feel the superior presence of the foe. But he was still unconquered. When Cortés, in the hope that his extremities might induce his
submission, persuaded one of his noble captives to bear to Guatemozin proposals to that effect, the stern young monarch, at once commanded the sacrifice of the messenger. Thus baffled in his desire to save and to spare what remained of the city and its defenders, Cortés resolved upon a general assault. The fleet and army prepared to co-operate. While the latter penetrated the city, the brigantines were ordered to batter the houses near the water. At this mo. ment some overtures were made by the Aztecs for accommodation. “Why,” said some of the chiefs, stretching forth their emaciated arms to him as he entered their precincts“Why,"
," said they, "are you slow. Why not put an end to our miseries!" Cortés, moved by the piteous appeal, replied, “I wish not to destroy but save you. Why is your master obstinate? Why will he not treat with me? I wish for this—a single hour will suffice for me to crush him and his people.” But the fierce young monarch could not be persuaded to a conference. He remembered the fate of Montezuma, and distrusted the faith of the Spaniards. Chagrined at an obstinacy which at once baffled his humanity and policy, Cortés ordered the assault. His confederate tribes were unleashed for the conflict, and he penetrated the last hold of the Aztec warriors. They were ready to receive him-their most able bodied warriors in the van, covering their feeble and crippled comrades. The women mingled in their ranks, in the streets, and on the house tops, looking a fury in their eyes, which, it was lucky for the Spaniards, could be declared in no more formidable manner. The fury of men and women was alike impotent. In vain did they rain their arrows—in vain did they hurl their missiles upon the invader. They were sent by feeble sinews. Famine, which had failed to subdue their souls, had most effectually sapped the vigor of their arms. But when did men fight more valiantly, and with so little loss of resolution, from the conviction of its fruitlessness? The inequality of power was too great between themselves and the invaders. While the Spanish arquebusiers poured in their deadly fire on one hand, the brigantines replied by successive vollies on another. The besieged, hemmed in on every side, girt by death, opposed themselves in vain to the torrent. The carnage was horrible; the ground was heaped with slain, and the maddened combatants could only meet in conflict by climbing over the mortal mounds which havoc had raised between
them. The narrative, as given by Mr. Prescott, is a terrible one. We had marked it for extract, as a fair specimen of his writing, but our space will not suffer its insertion. Enough that, when sated with slaughter, the Spanish retreat was sounded. Forty thousand men are said to have perished in the work of that one dreadful day.
Such conflicts must soon terminate. No courage, no resolve or resource, can stand them long. The next day, which was the 13th of August, 1521, a day memorable as the close of this dreadful struggle, Cortés prepared to renew the assault. But, willing to afford one more chance of escape to the wretched Aztecs, he sent another message to Guatemozin. The answer was, "Guatemozin is ready to die where he is—he will hold no interview with the Spaniard. It is for him to work his pleasure." "Away, then, said the stern conqueror, "away to your countrymen, and let them prepare for death. The hour is come!" He nevertheless postponed the assault for several hours, in the hope that some change might be induced in the inflexible spirit of the Indian. He seemed reluctant to urge the last desperate measures against so brave an enemy. But his troops murmured at the delay. Rumours were spread that the Aztec monarch was preparing to escape across the lake, and the Spanish General reluctantly gave the signal for the assault. This was, in other words, the signal for massacre. Cortés placed himself upon an azotea, which commanded the scene of operations. The Spaniards found their enemy huddled together in a confused crowd of all ages and sexes, in masses so dense, as to seem designed less for the purpose of combat, than to facilitate the expected carnage. The causeways were crowded to the water. Some had climbed the terraces; others feebly supported themselves against the walls of the buildings.
the buildings. Their garments were squalid and tattered, and the famine glaring from their eyes, only served to heighten the spectral ferocity of their expression. They possessed the ancient spirit but not its strength, and met the assailants with a flight of arrows. But these feebly seconded their hate. They fell ineffectual from the padded coats of the Spaniards. Then followed the crash of more potent implements of war—the peals of cannon, the sharp, rattling discharge of fire arms, and the shouts, hellish and infuriate, of the herds of Spanish allies, exulting in the near accomplishment of their long contemplated hope of ven
geance. Why attempt the description of the horrible scene that followed. Why show the last hopeless struggle of the Aztecs, butchered on the causeways, or gasping in the overwhelming waters in which they sunk on either hand. The battle raged equally on lake and land. The last hope of the lordly race of Tenochtitlan, was extinguished in the bloody horrors of that day. It was at its close when Guatemozin was taken. Bravely, indeed, with a stern resolution worthy of the greatest times and people, had this gallant Indian clung to the falling fortunes of his country. He had done all that man could do in the circumstances under which he stood. He was no mere savage;—but, with the indomitable obstinacy of one, he united large resources of civilization, and superior powers of intellect and observation. His defence of the capital had been singularly adapted, in most respects, to his own and the condition of his enemy. As we have seen, it was unavailing. It was only then that he attempted flight, and this attempt inay have contemplated the safety of his wife and followers rather than his own-may have contemplated nothing less than future struggles with the invader, in other places of security and strength. He was not the Roman fool,
"to die by his own sword,” so long as there were hopes of good battle, yet in reserve for his countrymen. In the moment of danger and captivivity, he betrayed no apprehension. His surrender was much more dignified than that of Santa Anna at Jacinto. When his piragua was encountered by the brigantine of Garci Holquin, and the Spaniards were about to fire, he was the first to rise, armed with buckler and maquahuitl, in defiance to the assailants. But the cry of his followers declared him to be their lord. They could implore mercy for him, hav. ing no prayer for themselves. The Spanish captain arrested the fire of his soldiers. At this command, the young monarch lowered his weapons. “I am Guatemozin," he exclaimed, "lead me to Malinche, (Cortés.) I am his prisoner. Let no harm come to my wife and followers.” When Holquin told him to command the people in the other canoes to surrender, he replied, with a dejected air,—“It is not necessary. They will
fight no longer, when they see that their prince is taken." The fight ceased from that moment. In the conquest of Guatemozin, that of Tenochtitlan was complete.