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He had been the soul of his empire. It was now a corse, at the mercy of the Spaniard.
When brought into the presence of Cortés, Guatemozin betrayed no sort of apprehension. Emotion he must have shown. His deportment was dignified and modest. As Cortés came forward to receive him, he broke the silence by saying, “I have done all that I could for the defence of my people. I am your prisoner. Deal with me as you list. Dispatch me with this”-laying his hand upon the hilt of a poniard in the General's belt—"and rid me of life at once." Cortés could appreciate the noble character of his captive. "Fear nothing," he replied; "you shall be treated with honor. You have defended your capital like a bráve warrior. A Spaniard knows how to respect the valor of his enemy!"
This assurance was unhappily forfeited in the sequel. It is the reproach of Cortés that his noble captive fell victim to suspicions, which do not seem to have been justly founded. He was kept, in a sort of honorable captivity, for some time after the conquest. But, insurrections among his countrymen were laid to his charge. He was put to the torture, and subsequently executed, professing his innocence, reproaching Cortés for his perfidy, and dying like a Prince. Whether the charge were true, or not, the better nature of Cortés, when time was allowed for reflection, recoiled at the cruel severity of his proceedings. His conscience smote him for the too ready credence he had given to the accusation,-for the too stern penalty with which he had visited the supposed criminal. He suffered bitterly from a natural remorse, which, while it testifies to his consciousness of crime, at least equally declares the acuteness and justness of his sensibilities, and, we trust, the merit of his repentance.
Thus fell the wondrous empire of the Aztecs,-an empire of the greatest magnificence, great numbers, and immense resources,-an empire' upheld by crime, and maintained by cruel wars,—stained by the most shocking rites and governed by the most relentless tyranny,—the wonder of its own people,—the terror of its neighbors,--the admiration of the European. Its destiny was fulfilled by the stranger, as shadowed out by its own traditions. The great drama which began with the fall of Montezuma, by the hands of his subjects, was carried out to stern completion by the sacrifice of the nobler Guatemozin, to the suspicions of the conqueror. And here our narrative might properly conclude. The tri29
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umph of our hero is complete. The object of the grand action which makes the glory of his career, is attained. He is at the summit of his conquests. There is no point of elevation, yet beyond, attainable, which is desirable for him to reach. The further survey presents him in less favorable lights,--shows him struggling against injustice, and finally its victim. The last days of a great man, “fallen from his high estate," have something mournful in them, particularly if he shall have been one accustomed to command. Yet, a biographical propriety hurries us forward. A few paragraphs must suffice to close a history, the leading events of which have been already absorbed in the narrative.
Of the subsequent career of Cortés, in fixing the civil power of Mexico, and in extending and making sure his conquests, it will be enough in this place to say, that they prove his resources as a statesman to have been quite as remarkable as those which he had shown in the character of the conqueror. He secured the submission of the country, suppressed insurrection, rebuilt the capital, and, by well conceived expeditions explored its remotest provinces. When this difficult work was all complete, he returned to Spain, where he found a most brilliant reception. His presence confirmed his conquest over his enemies, who were numerous in that quarter. All jealousy of his designs was set at rest. The Emperor ennobled him, and with the title of “Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca," conferred upon him a princely domain in Mexico. But the future government of the country he had won, was not confided to his hands. In his respect, the suspicious policy of Spain differed in no particular from what it had been in the case of Columbus. Greatness is very apt to be distrusted, the moment it ceases to be necessary to conquest,--the moment its achievements and discoveries are sure. A military command was given him. He was named Captain-General of New Spain and of the coasts of the South Sea,-a dignity which simply conferred upon him the privilege of making new conquests—if he could. He subsequently married into a noble house and returned to Mexico, where he was regarded with distrust by the authorities. His eager and proud spirit did not suffer him to remain long in unperformance. He fitted out new expeditions, which were only partially successful. He returned to Castile, where he was received with coldness by the Emperor. His offence was two-fold. He had claims
upon the crown, and he was no longer fortunate. We pass over the melancholy history of entreaty met with indifference, and complaint answered with impatience. The fate of Cortés, in seeking justice, is a story which is often read. The aged veteran was thrust aside to make way for younger spirits. The monarch found it easier not to acknowledge obligations which he could not repay; and, after a fruitless prosecution of his claims for three years, Cortés determined to abandon them and return once more to Mexico. But mortification and disappointment had impaired his health.
He was not permitted to re-visit the scene of his conquests, - but, taken with a mortal illness, while making preparations for his voyage, he died near Seville, on the 2d December, 1547, in the sixty-third year of his age. He met his end with the same composure with which he had gone into battle,- he made his will, a remarkable document,--confessed his sins, received the holy sacrament, and yielded himself meekly, and with humble confidence, into the hands of his Maker. We read his character in his story. It has been our purpose to make this speak for itself,
to select and bring out the prominent performances of his life, and educe the moral of his life from its successive scenes and performances. What is wanting to our analysis must be supplied by that of Mr. Prescott, to whose delightful history, we trust, we have shown the way to numerous readers.
Art. VII.-Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition,
comprising a description of a Tour through Texas, and across the great South-Western Prairies, the Comanche, Cagua Hunting Grounds ; with an account of the sufferings from want of food, losses-from hostile Indians, and final capture of the Texans, and their march, as prisoners, to the city of Mexico. With Illustrations and a Map. By GEORGE WILKINS KENDALL. In two volumes. New. York. Harper & Brothers. 1844.
NEITHER poet nor prose writer can describe with accuracy in the natural world, what is taken at second hand. Scenes and objects must have been noted by the eye of taste and close observation, before clear impressions of them can be conveyed in language. Without such personal examination, vain are the attempts of the narrative writer to describe accurately, graphically or justly. He must approach his task, also, free from the influence of local and national prejudices; he must be a lover of his race, and a lover of truth; his style must be free and graceful; striking or pleasing incidents which have occurred to him in the course of his travels, may be related; customs and institutions discussed; and occasional episodes, when they serve to illustrate the subject, do not detract from the unity of plan of such composition.
The object of the writer of a book of travels is, or should be, two-fold - first to interest, and secondly to instruct his readers; to describe scenes vividly, and to philosopbize and moralize with the air and feelings of a friend, rather than the authority of a master. He is supposed to have himself visited the country he undertakes to describe ; has witnessed the operation of novel institutions and laws; has seen society under various aspects, and has acquired new and perhaps important facts in the history of his race. He does not wish to withhold from the world the information he has acquired in his wanderings, but is ready to impart it for the gratification and benefit of society. This is a just and liberal spirit, worthy of the scholar and philanthropist; and if he execute his task with skill, he is entitled to thanks and praise exactly in proportion to the merits of his production. These we render to Mr. Kendall, the author of the work entitled “the Santa Fe Expedition,” with pleasure. He has published a book which will be generally read, in America and Eng
land, with much interest,-a work equally creditable to his head and heart. The style is easy and flowing,- just what, in narrative writing, it should be,-always rising and falling with the subject; and, in some striking descriptions, which are scattered here and there throughout the work, attaining to a considerable degree of pathos and even eloquence. We notice, what we always like to see in works of the kind, an earnest and truth-loving spirit, great candor and honesty in the expression of opinions, and, without overlooking what is due to the taste of the reader in an age somewhat fastidious, a disposition rather to be faithful than fine. We see, in a word, no vehement striving after effect, but the narrative flows on in an easy, agreeable, familiar epistolary style. Its chief merit consists in introducing us to a people, upon our own continent, whose customs, institutions and manners are at present but little known, and which ought to be better understood,—and in throwing around the history and usages of that people a peculiar interest. It is well known that Mr. Kendall was for a long time a prisoner in Mexico, subjected there to the most cruel treatment. Every one is anxious to know whether he endured his sufferings with a philosophic spirit, and whether the indignation awakened in his breast by the tyranny and heartlessness of his captors and their government, has materially influenced the judgment he formed of men and things, customs and institutions. We are happy to be able to say that his strictures are, under the circumstances of the case, distinguished by a spirit of great moderation. - The feelings of the man, deeply roused as they are, and ought to be, by vivid recollections of the outrageous wrongs he suffered, are sometimes apparent on the page he has written, but they do not interfere essentially with the duties of the author. On the contrary, few writers who have had such serious cause to be angry,-few who have endured, at the hands of their fellow men, indignities and injuries so well calculated to embitter a whole life,-have manifested so forbearing and generous a temper, when speaking of those who, in their wantonness, caused them. Some may be sceptical on this head, and may be disposed to ask, if it be true, how it has happened? To which we may reply, that something is doubtless attributable to the buoyancy of youth, which, in the enjoyment of present prosperity, is apt, if not to forget the calamities of the past, at least to dwell upon them with little bitterness; but more still, to the con