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Cacamazin, after the capture of Montezuma revolted, and withdrew himself both from his authority and that of your majesty, notwithstanding his previous submission. Montezuma in vain issued his orders to him, and I to as little purpose sent to him in your majesty's name; he constantly replied that we might core ourselves if we wished to give him orders, and that we should then see what services he had to perform. Not being able to obtain any thing from him, either by command or entreaty, and knowing that he was guarded by a numerous and warlike body of soldiers, I consulted with Montezuma on the measures proper to be pursued for punishing his rebellion.
Montezuma declared that there would be great danger in attempting to seize openly by force, a powerful cacique who had an army under his command, but that it might be done by means of stratagem, which would be more easy, as he had in his pay some men of distinction who were on terms of intimacy with Cacamazin. Montezuma indeed pursued his measures so well, that these men, who were devoted to his service, persuaded Cacamazin to meet them at one of his houses, situated on the border of the lake, under pretence of conferring with him on the state of public affairs, having previously placed in readiness several canoes filled with soldiers, in case Cacamazin should attempt to defend hiinself. During the conference the men employed by Montezuma seized him, and without being discovered by his people, forced him into a canoe, and brought him to me at Temixtitlan. I had him put in irons and securely confined; after which, on advising with Montezuma, I appointed his brother Cucuscazin to his government, and ordered all the nobles and inhabitants of the province to obey him as their cacique. My orders in this respect were punctually executed, and I have had no cause to complain of his conduct.
Some days after the imprisonment of Cacamazin, Montezuma assembled all the caciques of the city and its vicinity in his apartment. When they were convened he sent for me and thus addressed them in my presence. “ Brothers, and friends! for a long time your ancestors, were subject to my progenitors, as you also have been to me. We always treated you with favour and distinction, and you have always served us with loyalty well know, from the traditions of our ancestors, that we were not aborigines of this country, but that our forefathers were brought hither by a king who left them. That this monarch, returning long after, either for the purpose of taking back his subjects, or of reigning over them, found our ancestors, who in the mean time had greatly multiplied, so opposed to either of these views that he quitted them, and returned to his country, threatening to send an army against them sufficient to compel them to submit to his rule. Hitherto our ancestors and ourselves have expected them in vain; but from what we are told by this chief, of the king his
master, who sent him hither, and by comparing the quarter from whence he came with that announced by our ancient predictions, I am convinced, and you must also be so, that he comes hither as the representative of that master whom we have so long expected. Since then our ancestors failed in rendering to their sovereign that obedience which they owed him, let us do it, and thank the Gods that they have permitted that arrival to take place in our days which our predecessors looked for so long in vain. Obey then, hereafter, this great king, your natural sovereign, and the chief who represents him as you have hitherto obeyed me. Pay to him those taxes which you have till now paid to me, and serve him as you have served me. By doing this you will not only do your duty, but will give me the greatest pleasure possible.”
Montezuma pronounced this discourse with tears and sighs. His nobles participated in his feelings so far that they were at first unable to reply; and all the Spaniards present were moved with compassion. After some minutes silence, the caciques replied, that they had ever considered him as their master, and had always promised to execute his orders; that in consequence they consented to submit to the king of Spain, and pledged themselves in general, and each one individually, as good and loyal subjects, to do whatever I should require of them, to pay all the taxes which I should demand, and to serve my master as they had served him. This act of submission was drawn up by a notary public, and signed by all of them in presence of a number of Spaniards who were witnesses.
When this agreement was completed I informed Montezuma that I had occasion for a supply of gold to complete different works that had been undertaken for your majesty's service, and requested him to send messengers in his name to the several caciques for that purpose, and that I would at the same time send some Spaniards to them in mine to persuade them to comply with my master's wishes in this respect, and furnish him with a proof of their loyalty. I then persuaded him to set the example himself.
The Spaniards, whom I selected for the purpose, having been separated by Montezuma into divisions of two or five, he sent them under escorts of his own people to all the provinces and large cities of his empire, some of which were from eighty to one hundred leagues from Mexico, with orders to the caciques to fill a certain measure, which I gave them, with gold. His orders were punctually obeyed, and the amount required sent to me in jewels, ornaments, and thin plates of gold and silver.
On melting what was proper for the crucible, the king's fifth was found to amount to upwards of thirty-two thousand four hundred gold crowns, without taking into the estimate the gold and
silver ornaments, plumes, precious stones* and other valuable effects which I have reserved for your majesty, and which are worth at least one hundred thousand ducats.
These ornaments, independently of the materials are of inestimable value for the novelty and singularity of their forms. No prince in the world can have in his possession any thing like them, as by Montezuma's orders every production of nature, both of the sea and the land, was imitated either in gold, silver, precious stones, or feathers, with the utmost accuracy. He has
* The most valuable of these were probably the calchihuis. Bernal Diaz in giving an account of the first embassy from Montezuma to Cortez, at St. Juan de Alloa, enumerates among the presents made him on that occasion, “four jewels, called calchihuis, resembling emeralds, most highly valued by the Mexicans.” The two noblemen who came upon the embassy, declared to Cortez, that these rich jewels, each of which exceeded in value a load of gold, were intended for the emperor.” B. Diaz,
In a speech of Montezuma to Cortez, the same writer makes that monarch say—" I will give you for your emperor, some most valuable jewels, named calchihuis, each of which is worth two loads of gold; I will also send three tubes used for 'shooting darts or pellets, so richly adorned with jewels, that he will be pleased to see them.” B. Diaz, p. 171.
"When this was done,” (the gold presented by Montezuma, assorted and melted,) “another present was received from Montezuma, so rich that it was worthy of admiration, exclusive of the jewels called calchihuis, the ornamented* tubes covered with jewels and pearls, the beautiful embroideries of pearls and feathers, and the penaches and plumage, a recital whereof would be endless.” B. Diaz, p. 172.
† That the Mexicans and some of the adjoining nations had attained to a very high degree of perfection in many of the arts, more particularly the working of the finer metals and in weaving, is fully proved; not only by writers cotemporary with the conquest, but by some specimens of their skill still remaining.
B. Diaz, in his account of the expedition of Grijalva to Yucatan, says, that the Indians of the river Tabasco, presented that chieftain with some golden toys made in the form of birds and lizards. Keating's Diaz. p. 17. After a battle fought by Cortez with the same Indians, he was visited by a number of chiefs from the peighbouring districts, “who brought with them presents of gold wrought into various forms, some resembling the human face, others of animals, birds and beasts, such as lizards, dogs, and ducks. Diaz, p. 49.
In the first embassy to Cortez from Montezuma, among the presents, were a plate of gold of the size of a carriage wheel, representing the sun, admirably wrought, and said to be worth upwards of twenty thousand crowns; a larger one, equally wrought, of silver, representing the moon;
. . thirty pieces of wrought gold, representing ducks, very well executed; others in the forms of deers, dogs, lions, tigers, and apes; twelve arrows, a bow with the cord; two rods, like those borne by officers of jus
• These tubes were the sabarcanes hereafter mentioned by Cortez, as among the curious and rare articles which he had reserved for the emperor; they were used by the Mexicans for shooting birds.
also had executed, after models which I gave him, images, crucifixes, medals, ornaments and necklaces in the European fashions.
There likewise belongs to your majesty, the fifth of the silver plate and dishes which I have had made by the artists of this tice, five palms long: ten collars, and many other ornaments, all of fine gold, and cast or moulded work. After these were produced, plumes of feathers represented in gold, others of silver, together with fans of the same materials, beautiful penaches of green feathers, &c. Diaz, p. 57.
“Here were the shops and manufactories of all their gold and silver smiths, whose works in these metals and in jewellery, when they were brought to Spain, surprized our ablest artists. Their painters we may also judge of by what we now see; for there are three Indians in Mexico, Marcos de Aquins, Juan de la Cruz, and Crespillo, who, if they had lived with Apelles in ancient times, or were compared with Michael Angelo or Berrugiete in modern times, would not be held inferior to them. Their fine manufactures of cotton and feathers, were principally brought from the province of Costitlan. The women of the family of Montezuma, also, of all ranks, were extremely ingenious in these works, and constantly employed; as was a certain description of females who lived together in the manner of nuns. Diaz. p. 143.
I saw, says the author of the American Letters, at Strasburgh, in 1760, in the possession of Father Le Fevre, a Jesuit, and a man of great respectability, a very ancient Mexican fan, made of linen as fine as the most beautiful muslin known. On it were depicted a number of figures forming a Mosaic. Never have I beheld any thing so beautiful, both for the art with which the native and splendid colours of the feathers were disposed, as for the beauty of the design. No artist in Europe could have done as well; these feathers were those of the beautiful bird Ciricon.Lettere Americane.
Cortez, on his return to Madrid, having married for his second wife Juana, the daughter of the count d’Aguilar, among other things, presented her with five emeralds, wrought by the Indians, which were estimated at one hundred thousand sequins. The first was cut in the form of a rose, the leaves of which were perfectly formed. The second had the shape of a little horn. The third represented a fish, whose eyes were of gold. The fourth was a bell, and had a large oblong pearl for a clapper; and the fifth was shaped like a little cup, with a golden foot. Four little chains of gold were suspended to it, the ends of which were united in a pearl, that served as a knob. Some Genoese merchants, who were at Madrid, offered for the last alone, forty thousand sequins. These jewels, says Ramusio, were at that time the most beautiful that had ever been seen. Cortus Americanas.
It is said, adds the French translator, in a note to this passage, that Cortez, having accompanied Charles the fifth on his expedition against Algiers, the galley, on board of which he was, was overtaken by a storm, when he lost these valuable jewels. The handkerchief in which he had bound them around him, not having been well secured, they fell into the mud (probably as he was going on shore,) and could never afterwards be found. Idem.
Among many things known to the Mexicans, of which we are ignorant, was the art of spinning the fur of the hare or rabbit. We have attempted to imitate them, but we have never been able to attain the perfection of their work. From the account left us by one of the companions of Cor.
country, amounting to upwards of a hundred marks of silver besides a great number of pieces of cotton extremely beautiful, both in colour and workmanship, some tapestry hangings for the churches and the royal apartments, coverlets made of cotton or the finest wool, and twelve sarbarcanest superbly painted and ornamented; all which are presents from Montezuma to your majesty.
It would require more talents and time than I have, to give à complete description of Mexico, as regards its extent; the manners and customs of the inhabitants, its police, and the many singular things which it contains, and if my account should prove incorrect, the fault will be found to consist in my having said too little instead of too much. We every day see something so surprising, that we can scarcely believe our own eyes, so that it would not be very singular if, in my account of so remote a country, I should not obtain full credit, though it is my duty to communicate to my sovereign, nothing but the real truth. tez, we are informed that the Mexicans spun the hair from the belly of the hare or rabbit, to the greatest perfection; that they dyed it of various colours, and made cloth of it, resembling our silk, and that the colours were even unchangeable by ley. Idem.
I venture to assert, says Count Carli, that the art of dying was carried to a much higher pitch of perfection in America, than it was at the same period in Europe, notwithstanding our chemical acquirements. Lettere Americane.
The French mathematicians could not comprehend how these nations, (the Mexicans and Peruvians) could have succeeded in making statues of gold and silver at one cast that were hollow within, thin and delicate. I have seen one of them in which no soldering could be perceived. The octagon plates have excited equal admiration, each end of which was of a different metal, that is, gold and silver alternately, without being joined by the least solder. Fish, also cast in moulds, whose scales were intermingled with gold and silver; parrots, who moved their heads, tongues and wings, and figures of monkies, who performed various actions, such as spinning thread, eating apples, &c. These Indians were well acquainted with the art of enamelling, and of working all kinds of precious stones. Among the first presents sent to Cortez by Montezuma, was a helmet of plated gold, circled with bells, and ornamented on the top with emeralds, panaches, and large plumes, at the end of which, golden meshes were suspended. French translator's note to Lettere Americane.
Count Carli says, that the Mexicans and Peruvians also mixed gold with copper, and gave to this composition a degree of hardness, so as to enable them to make hatchets of it that were very useful. Lettere Americane.
Mirrors of a particular kind of beautiful metal, very wbite, and as bril. liant as silver, formed a part of the rich presents sent by Montezuma the first time to Cortez. They were set in gold. Perhaps they were of platina, and if so they must have known the secret of melting and working it. French translator's note to Lettere Americane.
Bernal Diaz says, that in one of the Mexican temples there was a figure which had eyes of the polished substance, whereof their mirrors are made. Keating's Diaz, p. 146.
† Sabarcane, a long hollow tube, made use of by the Indians to blow arrows through.