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and when we recollect that a citizen of Tlascala, in the midst of the tumults of war, took advantage of the facility offered him by our Roman al; habet to write in his own language five large volumes on the history of a country of which he deplored the subjection?
We shall not here attempt to resolve the problem, however important it may be for history, whether the Mexicans of the 15th century were more civilized than the Peruvians, or whether, if both had been abandoned to themselves, they would have made more rapid advances towards intellectual cultivation than they have done under the domination of the Spanish clergy. Neither shall we examine whether, notwithstanding the despotism of the Aztec princes, the improvement of the individual found fewer obstacles in Mexico than in the empire of the Yncas. In the latter the legislator wished only to influence the people en masse ; and by subjecting them to a monastic obedience, and treating them like machines, he compelled them to undertake works, the regularity
French inch, consequently 7 and 10 centimetres are only .9552 and 1.3645 French square inches, and nothing like 100 and 150 square inches. In the same way a decimetre being only as 3.24835 : 12 of a French foot, 63 decimetres make 5.97 and not 60 square feet French. Some mistake must therefore be either in the metrical or common measures here assigned, er in both. Trans.
and magnitude of which astonish us as much as the perseverance of those who directed them. If we analyse the mechanism of this Peruvian theo. cracy, generally too much exalted in Europe, we shall find that wherever people are divided into casts, of which each can only follow a certain species of labour, and wherever the inhabitants possess no particular property, and labour merely for the benefit of the community, canals, roads, aqueducts, pyramids, and immense constructions will also be found; but that the people preserving for thousands of years the same appearance of external comfort make almost no advances in moral cultivation, which is the result of individual liberty alone.
In the portrait which we draw of the different races of men composing the population of New Spain, we shall merely consider the Mexican Indian in his actual state. We perceive in him neither that mobility of sensation, gesture, or feature, nor that activity of mind for which several nations of the equinoxial regions of Africa are so advantageously distinguished. There cannot exist a more marked contrast than that between the impetuous vivacity of the Congo negro, and the apparent flegm of the Indian. From a feeling of this contrast the Indian women not only prefer the negros to the men of their own race, but also to the Europeans. The Mexican Indian is grave,.
melancholic, and silent*, so long as he is not under the influence of intoxicating liquors. This gravity is particularly remarkable in Indian children, who at the age of four or five display much more intelligence and maturity than u hite children. The Mexican loves to throw a mysterious air over the most indifferent actions. The most violent passions are never painted in his features; and there is something frightful in seeing him pass all at once from absolute repose to a state of violent and unrestrained agitation. The Peruvian Indian possesses more gentleness of manners; the energy of the Mexican degenerates into harshness. These differences may have their origin in the different religions and different governments of the two countries in former cimes. This energy is displayed particularly
* It is difficult to reconcile altogether this account of the Indian taciturnity with that given by Ulloa in his Noticias Americanas. He first describes the savage Indians as “largos en los discursos, repitiendo muchas vezes la misma cosa, y durarian el dia entero sin añadir nada à lo que dixeron al principio, si no les procurasse cortar." “ En este modo de perorar con presuncion, he continues, fundan tambien su ciencia, y la habilidad con que sobresalen a las otras personas Europeas con quienes tratan, persuadendose à que los inducen a franquearles lo que desean con su grande eloquencia." This may be thought to apply only to the savage Indians ; but he adds, “ Los Indios reducidos son lo mismo en sus discursos, largos, cansados, è importunos hasta el extremo; y si el lenguage no fuese distinto, podria creerse que un Indio del Peru hablaba en el Norte o al contrario." (p. 334). Trans.
by the inhabitants of Tlascala. In the midst of their present degradation, the descendants of those republicans are still to be distinguished by a certain haightin:-ss of character, inspired by the memory of t'eir former grandeur.
The Americans, like the Hindoos and other nations who have long groaned under a civil and military despotism, adhere to their customs, manners, and opinions, with extraordinary obstinacy. I say opinions, for the introduction of chri tianity has produced almost no other effect on the Indians of Mexico than to substitute new ceremonies, the symbols of a gentle and humane religion, to the ceremonies of a sanguinary worship. This change from old to new rites was the effect of constraint and not of persuasion, and was produced by political events alone. In the new continent, as well as in the old, half civilized nations were accustomed to receive from the hands of the conqueror new laws and new divinities; and the vanquished Indian gods appeared to them to yield to the gods of the strangers*. In such a complicated mytho
* The Indians appear to have been not at all contented with their gods, and to have wished only to get well rid of them at the arrival of the Spaniards. Such at least were the sentiments of the principal Indians in New Spain, if we may believe Acosta. When an old Indian chief was asked by a reverend father why they had thrown up their own religion without either proof or investigation or dispute, and adopted that of Christ in its place? “We did not act so inconsiderately," he re
logy as that of the Mexicans, it was easy to find out an affinity between the divinities of Aztlan and the divinity of the east.
Cortez even very artfully took advantage of a popular tradition, ac- , cording to which the Spaniards were merely the descendants of king Quitzalcoatl, who left Mexico for countries situated in the east, to carry among them civilization and laws. The ritual books composed by the Indians in hieroglyphics at the beginning of the conquest, of which I possess several fragments, evidently show that at that period christianity was confounded with the Mexican mythology: the Holy Ghost is identified with the sacred eagle of the Aztecs. The missionaries not only tolerated, they even favoured to a certain extent, this amalgamation of ideas, by means of which the christian worship was more easily introduced among the natives*. They persuaded
plied, “ as you seem to imagine, for we were so wearied and discontented with our gods that we had deliberated about leaving them in good earnest, and adopting others" (porque le hago saber, que estavamos ya tan cansados y descontentos, con las co sas que los y dolos nos mandavan, que aviamos tratado de dexarlos y tomar otra ley). Acosta, p. 357. Trans.
* The missionaries do not seem to have concerned themselves much about the motives from which the Indians became christians. Their great object was to get as many baptised as possible, after which all was safe ; and they were very much concerned when a parting soul could not be snatched from hell for want of a drop of water in the place at the critical moment. (Ay! no una gota en cl rancho, Gumilla, II. 21).