Page images

to the last ; Peru, in which the repartos of avaricious monopolising magistrates stripped the poor Indians of their little substance ; Peru, for whose inexhaustible silver mines in the bowels of mount Potosi, the odious and infamous conscription of the mita was ordained and preserved.

Tupac Amaru, in the first place, endeavored to procure some mitigation of these unparalleled burdens, by gaining the cooperation of several eminent dignitaries in the church, led by the bishop of Cuzco, a noble Peruvian of the family of Moscoso, and using their influence with the government in behalf of the oppressed Indians. Yet foreseeing that persuasion would avail but little with their avaricious and cruel masters, he set about paving the way for the employment of other means of redress, by assiduously courting popularity among his countrymen, exhibiting himself as the protector of the injured, alleviating the sufferings of the distressed by pecuniary aid, and thus gradually leading the whole nation to regard him as the descendant and rightful representative of their ancient sovereigns.

In the meantime they, who sympathised in the miseries of the Indians, urged upon the advisers of the crown the necessity of a reform in the internal administration of the country, in such strong terms, and expressed so decided a belief that some fearful political crisis was impending, that the court began to listen to their representations. Accordingly, two noble Peruvians, Don Ventura Santelices, and Don Blas Tupac Amaru, were successively called to Spain, to aid the Council of the Indies in devising means to meliorate the lot of the Indians. Probably they would have succeeded, had not they prematurely perished, by chance or by assassination, the one at Madrid, the other on his passage back to Peru.

Tupac Amaru now came forward in person, and made new exertions to procure a peaceful change in the condition of the Indians. But his zeal only served to draw upon him the animosity of the petty despots of the provinces, who lorded it over his subject race. The corregidores, seeing that the failure of Santelices, and of Don Blas Tupac Amaru, had not cooled the Inca's ardor, nor subdued his courage, now doubled the burdens of his countrymen, and thinking thereby to crush the rising spirit of resistance, pushed their tyranny beyond the utmost verge of human endurance.

Their madness hastened the crisis, which they strove to avert. The Indians grew desperate, and now first breaking forth into determined insurrection, rallied around the name of the Inca. The commencement of the revolution was signalised by an act of vengeance, performed in all the solemnities of law, and therefore the better calculated to strike terror into the hearts of the Spaniards, and to arouse the courage of the Peruvians. Don Antonio Arriaga, corregidor of Tinta, was infamous for the cruelty and rapacity, which he exercised on the Indians of his province. Tupac Amaru brought him to Tungasuca, under pretext of a sedition, and there instituting his trial with his own official registers, caused him to be condemned as a public robber, and executed on the gallows, in the name of the king of Spain, on the 10th of November, 1780. The mita, repartos, the alcavala, all the odious forms of taxation and bondage were abolished from this instant, and the flames of civil war enkindled in Peru.

Tupac Amaru was cautious and wary in the introductory scenes of the revolution, because he wished to conciliate the timid of his nation, by shunning the appearance of absolute rebellion, and to lull his enemies into security, by making them regard his proceedings in the light of a mere local tumult, that he might strike the more surely for the independence of Peru. Hence, all his proclamations, his decrees, and the other formalities attendant on the opening of his insurrection, were couched in the name of the king. Adhering to this plan, and pretending to be in the execution of the king's mandates, he passed rapidly into the province of Quispicancha, with the intention of causing the corregidor Cabrera, to undergo the fate of Arriaga. Cabrera, anticipating his purpose, escaped by a hasty flight, leaving his rich magazines and the treasures of the government to be distributed, like the spoils of Arriaga, among the insurgent Indians. By these movements, the neighboring provinces were now thrown into general consternation, and Tupac Amaru actively extended the flame, disseminating his edicts, wherein, calling on the names of the Incas and of liberty, he sought to awaken the national enthusiasm of the Peruvians.

There is one passage of our author, in this connexion, which deserves to be transferred entire to our pages.


Honor, justice, and all public and private interest,' are his words, exacted of the Spanish Americans, that, rousing from their weak, abscure, inglorious repose, they should have made common cause with Tupac Amaru. The new system of oppression invented by the minister Galvez, placed them, as it were, on the same level with the Indians, and it was notorious that his visiter general, Areche, would exempt them from none of the vexations, for which he was commissioned. The limited resources of the Spaniards, at a time when their exhausted treasury had to sustain the weight of war with England ; the heroic example displayed by the patriots of North America, in resisting a power bent on widening the base of its despotism ; finally, the well founded expectation, that the South Americans would have the assistance of the British, moved by the bitterness of revenge; these motives would seemn adequate to have called out the energies of the most cold and servile.

But they were too much fainiliarised to injustice, too well broken under the yoke of slavery, and above all, too ignorant of their inalienable rights. They chose to sacrifice opportunity to sloth, honor to servitude, and their country to prejudice. Content, at most, to murmur in the secrecy of their hearts, they were outwardly emulous to gain merit and distinction by consolidating the power of their oppressors. Tom. iii. p. 267.

Such were the feelings of the Spanish Americans; but Tupac Ainaru aroused another spirit in the breasts of his native countrymen. The consternation soon spread to the city of Cuzco, and measures were taken to oppose the Inca's progress. A body of troops under the command of the generals Escajadilla and Landa marched forth, and uniting with those of Quispicancha, formed a corps of about six hundred men, Spaniards, creoles, and Indians, which encamped at Sangarara, not far from Cuzco. They were immediately attacked by a much superior body of Indians, and compelled to take refuge in the church. Tupac Amaru proposed to them to submit on honorable terms, which were disdainfully rejected by the Spaniards.

In the mean time, the situation of the besieged was rendered hopeless by an unexpected accident. Their powder magazine exploded, and blew off a part of the roof of the church, and opened a large breach in one of its sides. Still these determined men maintained their resolution, with all the heroism of that rapacity, to which their nation owes its wonderful triumphs and conquests. The same breach served as a means of deriving benefit from their misfortune. Discharging a cannon through it, they killed seven of the Indians immediately about the person of Tupac Amaru. The preponderance of this chief then manifested itself, and obliged them to throw open the doors of the church, and trust their fate to the chance of desperation. p. 269.

But the attempt to force a way through the surrounding multitude of Indians failed. Of six hundred and four combatants, who had occupied the church, all, including Escajadilla and Landa, died heroically sword in hand, except about sixty creoles and Indians.

The result of this renconter was of the utmost consequence to the Inca. Success had now crowned his arms, and he dexterously took advantage of the respect and terror, which it inspired. In most places, where the intelligence reached, nothing was now heard among the Indians, but acclamations on the deliverer of Peru. He therefore assumed the symbols of the ancient grandeur of his progenitors, and bound around his temples the imperial borla of the Incas.* Elated by his recent triumphs, after an ineffectual attempt on Cuzco, he directed the principal division of his forces towards Puno. He himself, having received letters from his wife, informing him that his exploits had excited attention in Lima, and that it was therefore necessary to collect all his strength, retraced his steps towards Tinta.

The expedition against Puno was unsuccessful. The Indians displayed the greatest resolution and obstinacy in their attack on the former, because, if they succeeded in the capture of Puno, there would be nothing to interrupt their march towards the important city of La Paz. Many skirmishes took place between them and the Spanish forces in that quarter, commanded by Don Joaquin de Orellana, in which the Indians, although vastly superior in numbers, were generally worsted by the equal courage, superior arms, and more exact discipline of the Europeans. In one engagement, the Indians, to the number of five thousand, were beaten by about eight hundred Spaniards. They penetrated, however, to Puno, and besieged Orellana in his capital, eighteen thousand Indians occupying the eminences which commanded the district; but they were finally repulsed by Orellana. Accordingly, exaspetated rather than disheartened by defeat, they suddenly turned away from Puno, and poured themselves like a torrent over the unprotected province of Chucuito.

* The borla was a kind of tasselled fillet or fringe of red wool, worn upon the middle of the forehead by the reigning Inca.- Fresier's Travels, p. 272,

No province adhered to Tupac Amaru more entirely than Chayanta. This arose from the commotion in which it was already involved, in consequence of certain events, which it is time we should relate. There lived in Chayanta an Indian, named Tomas Catari, who felt the liveliest sensibility to the wrongs of his countrymen, and before the rising of Tupac Amaru, had protested against some extraordinary acts of oppression and rapacity, perpetrated by the corregidor Don Joaquin de Aloz. Placing no confidence in the Audience of Charcas, which was notoriously corrupt, Catari carried his complaints directly to the viceroy. Buenos Ayres was at this time governed by Don Juan de Vertiz, a man of unimpeachable integrity, and of mild, pacific, and amiable virtues. He saw with disgust the abuses which custom authorised, but could afford no other relief, than to order the Royal Audience to examine the matter judicially. Catari returned to his province, concealing his dissatisfaction, and giving out in mysterious language, that redress was about to be afforded by a superior power. His real object was to prepare his nation to shake off the yoke, which now bowed their necks to the earth.

Shortly after his return, Catari was thrown into prison by Aloz, under the false pretext of his having killed a minion of the government, named Bernal. The Indians immediately released him by force. From that time forward, he constantly underwent the greatest vicissitudes of fortune, at one moment persecuted by Aloz, at another protected by the Indians. While his exertions were suspended by imprisonment, his brothers Damaso and Nicolas Catari zealously promoted his designs. The Indians were to assemble in the village of Pocoata, to prepare the conscription list for the mita of Potosi. Aloz, apprehending the meeting might end in some popular tumult, hastily collected a guard of two hundred men for his defence on the occasion ; but Damaso, nevertheless, demanded the release of his brother Tomas, who was then confined in the jail of Chuquisaca. This demand brought on an altercation, in the course of which Aloz shot an Indian with his pistol. The incensed Indians instantly marched from

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »