THE MAKING OF THE NATIONS
AUTHOR OF "SOUTH AMERICA" IN BLACK'S SERIES OF COLOUR BOOKS, "MODERN ARGENTINA," "MODERN CHILE," ETC.
WITH THIRTY-TWO FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS, ETC., AND MAPS AND PLANS IN THE TEXT
ADAM & CHARLES BLACK LONDON MCMXIII
The history of a continent such as South America, confined to the limits of a single volume of moderate size, must of necessity contain some elements of mere survey. Nevertheless, since in no other but a condensed form could the respective strides achieved by the various nations of this continent be satisfactorily judged and compared, the author is encouraged to hope that this small work may fill in one of the most obvious of the many gaps in the English versions of South American history. He has endeavoured to lay stress on the trend of the authorities and peoples in question rather than to emphasize the rigid succession of Governors and Presidents. In the same way, since space has had to be considered, it was thought desirable to introduce at any length only those personalities notable for their actions and intrinsic influence, leaving in the background those others whose only claim to the interest of posterity lies in the weight of the office they held.
I. THE CONTINENT IN PRE-SPANISH DAYS 1
II. COLUMBUS 14
III. THE SPANISH CONQUISTADORES 26
IV. THE DISCOVERY AND EARLY HISTORY OF BRAZIL 36
V. THE CONQUEST OF PERU 47
VI. SPANIARD AND NATIVE 56
VII. THE COLONIZATION OF THE SOUTH 64
VIII. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN COLONIES 74
IX. FOREIGN RAIDS ON THE SPANISH COLONIES 83
X. FOREIGN RAIDS ON PORTUGUESE COLONIES 95
XI. THE COLONY OF PERU 110
XII. THE COLONY OF CHILE 121
XIII. THE COLONIES OF PARAGUAY AND THE RIVER PLATE 130
XIV. THE NORTHERN COLONIES 142
XV. THE LAST DAYS OF EMPIRE 151
XVI. THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE—I 159
XVII. THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE—II 176
XVIII. BRAZIL: FROM COLONY TO EMPIRE 185
XIX. THE EMPIRE OF BRAZIL 201
XX. FROM EMPIRE TO REPUBLIC 211
XXI. MODERN BRAZIL 220
XXII. THE INDEPENDENCE OF SPANISH AMERICA 228
XXIII. THE REPUBLIC OF PERU 237
XXIV. THE REPUBLIC OF PARAGUAY 245
XXV. THE PARAGUAYAN WAR 255
XXVI. THE REPUBLIC OF CHILE 264
XXVII. THE REPUBLICS OF THE RIVER PLATE 272
XXVIII. THE NORTHERN REPUBLICS 283
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PRINTED SEPARATELY FROM THE TEXT.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS Frontispiece
TO FACE PAGE
MANCO-CAPAC COLLECTING HIS PEOPLE FOR THE WORK OF BUILDING THE CITY OF CUZCO 5
DIEGO DE ALMAGRO 12
JORGE CABRAL 16
COLUMBUS LANDING IN AMERICA 37
VASCO DA GAMA 44
THE DEFEAT OF THE PERUVIANS OUTSIDE CUZCO 49
PIZARRO AND ATAHUALPA 53
DEATH OF ATAHUALPA 60
BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS 76
FRANCISCO PIZARRO 80
SECTIONS OF A SLAVE-SHIP 85
OLINDA DE PERNAMBUCO 92
FERDINAND MAGELLAN 101
DUTCH VESSELS SAILING THROUGH THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN 108
DUTCH AND SPANISH VESSELS ENGAGED OFF CALLAO 116
AN ISLAND PASSAGE OF THE RIVER AMAZON 144
BRITISH WARSHIPS UNDER ANSON'S COMMAND PLUNDERING PAYTA 156
SIMON BOLIVAR 164
DON FRANCISCO SOLANO LOPEZ 173
PEDRO I., EMPEROR OF BRAZIL 193
THE OPENING OF THE SENATE HOUSE, RIO DE JANEIRO 196
PALACE AND GREAT SQUARE IN RIO DE JANEIRO 205
PEDRO II., EMPEROR OF BRAZIL 208
THOMAS, TENTH EARL OF DUNDONALD, G.C.B. 261
BERNARDO O'HIGGINS 268
STATUE OF GENERAL MANUEL BELGRANO 277
BRIGADIER-GENERAL BARTOLOME MITRE 284
PRINTED IN THE TEXT.
MAP OF SOUTH AMERICA, SHOWING THE DISTRICTS OF THE ABORIGINAL TRIBES AT THE TIME OF THE SPANISH CONQUEST 9
A PERUVIAN CASSE-TETE AND A PIPE OF PEACE 50
THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN, CUZCO 53
INDIAN HUTS ON THE RIVER CHIPURANA 54
THE STRAITS OF MAGELLAN, AS KNOWN AT THE TIME OF CORDOVA'S VOYAGE 91
PEASANTS OF ST. MICHAEL PROCEEDING TO DEL GADO 158
ARMS OF THE EMPIRE OF BRAZIL 192
ARMS OF UNITED KINGDOMS OF PORTUGAL, THE ALGARVES, AND BRAZIL 192
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, RIO DE JANEIRO 197
SKETCH-MAP OF SOUTH AMERICA 293
THE CONTINENT IN PRE-SPANISH DAYS
The discovery of South America stands as one of the most dramatic events in history. From the time of its occurrence until the present so deeply has this event impressed itself on men's minds that the previous state of the Continent has been a somewhat neglected topic. The Incas and their civilization, it is true, have attracted no small share of attention to themselves, and the subject has become more or less familiar to the average English reader through the medium of the work of Prescott, who has been followed by a number of later writers, many of whom have dealt very exhaustively with this subject. Yet, after all, the Incas, for all their historical importance, occupied but a very small portion of the territories of the Southern Continent. Beyond the western fringe of the Continent which was theirs by heritage, or by conquest, were other lands—mountainous in parts, level in others, where the great river basins extended themselves—which were the chosen hunting and fishing grounds of an almost innumerable number of tribes.
The degree of civilization, or, more accurately speaking, of savagery which characterized these as a whole necessarily varied to a great extent in the case of each particular tribe. Nevertheless, from the comparatively high culture of the Incas down to the most intellectually submerged people of the forests and swamps, there were certain characteristics held in common by all. This applied not only to a marked physical likeness which stamped every dweller in the great Continent, but to customs, religious ceremonies, and government as well. Concerning the origin of the South American Indians interminable disputes have now raged for generations, but that in the case of all the various tribes the origin was the same has never, I think, been controverted. The most common theory concerning the origin of the South Americans is that this was Mongolian.
This idea would certainly seem one of the most feasible of the many put forward. Those who have delved sufficiently deeply into the matter have found many striking analogies in customs, religious ceremonies, and even in language between the inhabitants of South America and those of Eastern Asia; and there are even those who assert that the similarity between the two peoples extends to the designs on domestic pottery. The majority of those who have devoted themselves to this subject of the South American aborigines have been obliged to work largely in the dark. Considering the great extent of the ruins bequeathed by the Incas to the later ages, it might be thought curious that so few precise data are available. The reason for this lies in the zeal which the conquistadores displayed in the stamping out of the various pagan religions. No sooner had the Spaniards obtained possession of the chief cities of the Incas than every symbol, image, or, indeed, any object suggestive of sun-worship or anything of the kind, was smashed into fragments, and every trace of its significance so far as possible obliterated.
There is no doubt that in the course of this wholesale destruction a multitude of objects perished which would have given an historical clue to much of what now remains doubtful. It is owing to this obliterative enthusiasm that such scanty historical knowledge exists concerning the earlier period of the Inca race, and of that highly civilized nation which preceded the later Children of the Sun.
It is, moreover, largely on account of this vagueness and uncertainty that some curiously wild theories have been propounded concerning the origin of the South Americans, and more especially of the Incas. Thus, in 1843, George Jones, a writer who had indulged in some extraordinarily enthusiastic researches, published a work the object of which was to prove that not only the Mexicans, but all the tribes of Southern America, were the descendants of some old Tyrians who, fleeing from their enemies, abandoned Phoenicia and, sailing westward, landed in Central America, some 332 years before the birth of Christ! It must be admitted that the structure—even though it is purely of the imagination—thus built up by the fertile author is sufficiently ingenious, and the number of Biblical data, similarities, and general phenomena, which he has brought to bear on the subject are impressive, if not convincing.
Peru was admittedly the richest country of South America, so far as historical relics are concerned. Yet even here it is difficult in the extreme to glean any accurate information concerning the actual primitive inhabitants of the country. Astonishingly little tradition of any kind exists, and the little to be met with is rendered comparatively valueless by the vivid imagination of the Indian; thus this period cannot be considered as historical in the real sense of the word. A number of relics, it is true, prove the existence of an early form of civilization, the most numerous being found, as would naturally be expected when the nature of the country is considered, in the valleys and the coasts. These relics take the forms of food substances and kitchen utensils, and are known as "kitchen-middens," and beyond these rude fireplaces have been found.
In 1874 the skeleton of a tall man was discovered in a volcanic layer which is supposed to have belonged to a later period. The dwelling in which it was found showed a distinct advance in civilization. It was constructed of rocks joined together by means of clay, and roofed with plaited straw. One of the most notable objects found by the side of this man was a well-fashioned cotton purse, filled with wheat and other grain. In various neighbourhoods remnants of pottery and cloth gave evidence of these later stages. After this it is supposed that a great invasion of Peru occurred, and that the race which preceded the Incas took possession of the land.
It will be most fitting to deal first of all with the Incas, the most highly civilized race of the Continent. The head-quarters of this nation were to be found in Peru and Bolivia. The capital of the whole Empire was Cuzco, a town situated at some distance to the north of Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is generally held to have been the cradle of the race, and it is in this neighbourhood and on the shores of the lake that some of the most notable of the Inca ruins are to be met with.
There is no doubt that the great majority of these stupendous monuments of a former age were not the actual handiwork of the Incas. It is now considered practically certain that these Incas, themselves enlightened and progressive, were merely using the immense structures both of material masonry and of theoretical civilization left behind by a previous race whom the Children of the Sun had conquered and subdued. It is not improbable that this race was that of the Aymaras; in any case it is certain that the Empire of the Incas was not of old standing, and that they had not occupied the countries they held for more than a few hundred years before the advent of the Spaniards.
The Incas possessed a very definite theory concerning the origin of their tribe. Sun-worshippers, they loved to think that they themselves were descended from a chance fragment of that terrible and blazing luminary. Thus their religion had it that the first Inca was a child of the Sun who came down to earth in company with his sister-wife. The spot they chose was an island on Lake Titicaca. Here they alighted in all their brilliancy, and the Indians of the neighbourhood gathered about them and fell at their feet, receiving them as rulers with infinite gratitude. This first Inca, whatever may have been his real origin, was undoubtedly known as Manco-Capac, and his sister-wife was known as Mama-Oclle. Manco-Capac represented the first of a dynasty of thirteen Emperors, the last of whom suffered at the hands of Pizarro. Until the end of their race these Incas had retained a considerable degree of the sacred character with which tradition had invested the first of their line. The person of the Emperor was, indeed, worshipped as a demi-god. Justified by tradition, he had the privilege of marrying his sister. It is curious to remark here the resemblance in the customs of the Incas and the Pharaos.
An alternative theory of the origin of the Inca race, although not authoritative, is worthy of note. W.B. Stevenson, in a work published in 1825, states that a curious tradition was related to him by the Indians in various parts of Peru. According to this the progenitor of the royal Incas was an Englishman who was found stranded on the coast by a certain cacique of the name of Cocapac! The cacique took the stranger to his home, and the Englishman married the chieftain's daughter. From this union sprang a boy, Ingasman Cocapac, and a girl, Mama-Oclle. These were both of fair complexion and hair.
Shortly after the birth of these children their parents died, and the boy and girl were left in the care of their grandfather, Cocapac. The nature of this latter appears to have been extraordinarily calculating and astute. He saw in the children a phenomenal opportunity for the glorification of his family. First of all he instructed the youngsters for years in the playing of their parts; then, when adult, he took them to Cuzco and posted them on the side of a mountain of that important district. After this he went among the tribesmen, and announced that the Sun-god had sent two of his children to govern the race as a special mark of his favour. The Indians streamed out to the point he indicated as their resting-place, and, sure enough, they found the strangers at the spot.
To the chagrin of Cocapac, however, the tribesmen refused to accept them in the light of gods; on the contrary, they condemned the pair as a wizard and a witch, and banished them from the neighbourhood. Cocapac, undaunted by this failure, accompanied his grandchildren, and repeated his performance on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Here complete success marked the attempt: the young people were received by the Indians with enthusiasm as the children of their god, and, once established, the belief spread all round, until it included all the centre of the Inca Empire, not excepting the once sceptical Cuzco. To quote from Stevenson:
"Thus," said the Indians, "was the power of the Incas established, and many of them have said that, as I was an Englishman, I was of their family. When H.B.M. ship Breton was at Callao, some of the officers accompanied me one Sunday afternoon to the Alameda at Lima. On our way we were saluted by several Indians from the mountains, calling us their countrymen and their relations, begging at the same time that we would drink some chicha with them."
It is unnecessary to point out the dubiousness of this theory! For all the obvious difficulties in the way of credibility, the main story has a certain convincing ring, if for no other reason than the utterly prosaic attempt at an explanation of the alleged miraculous and mystical episode of the native mythology.
In the course of time the Inca Empire had sent its wave of influence and dominion to roll widely to the north and to the south. In the north its government extended beyond Quito; in the south its progress had been arrested by the warrior Indians of Southern Chile, the Araucanians on the banks of the River Maule.
On the whole, the rule of the Incas over the conquered races was beneficent, and these latter, sensible of the advantages offered them, were quite willing to weld themselves into the common Empire. Almost the sole respect in which they showed themselves merciless was in the manner in which their religious sacrifices were carried out. The Sun frequently proved himself greedy of human blood, and he was never stinted by his priests; human life, indeed, in the more populous centres was held rather more cheaply than is usual among people who had attained to the civilization of the Incas.
In the Civil Government every symptom of this kind was absent. Indeed, the methods of the Inca Government, on the whole, were of the benevolent order; at the same time laws applying to the conduct of the populace were in many respects stringent, and were wont to be carried out to the letter. A number of socialistic doctrines were embodied in these strange constitutions of the past. The work of the people was mapped out for them, and, although it may be said with justice that no poverty existed, this very admirable state of affairs was frequently brought about by the enforcing of labour on the would-be idle.
The lands of the Inca Kingdom from frontier to frontier were divided into three classes of territory. The first was the property of the Sun—that is to say, the proceeds of its harvests were applied to the temples, priests, and all the other requirements of religion. The land appertaining to the second category was the property of the Royal Family; and the third belonged to the people. It is interesting to note in connection with this system of land distribution that in the later centuries the Jesuits in Paraguay adopted a very similar procedure, and divided their lands into three sections which corresponded exactly with those of the Incas. Thus, according to these regulations, every inhabitant of the Inca Empire was a landowner. This, however, merely in a limited sense, for, although the land was his to work, he was not permitted to obtain any advantage from its possession other than that which he obtained by his own labour, and, as has been explained, the refraining from work was a heavily punishable offence. When the spirit in which these laws were framed is taken into consideration, it is not surprising that no man was allowed to sell his land, a procedure which would, of course, have rendered the general working of the community inoperative. The land, in fact, represented a loan from the State which lasted the lifetime of the agriculturist.
Perhaps the civilization of the Incas and of their predecessors is most of all evident in the industrial monuments which they have left behind them. In irrigation they had little or nothing to learn from the most advanced European experts of the time. Many of their aqueducts, indeed, showed an astonishing degree both of ingenuity and of labour. The nature of the country across which it was necessary to construct these was, of course, sufficiently mountainous to test the powers of the most capable engineer. The Inca roads, in many respects, rivalled their aqueducts. From the point of view of the modern highway, it is true that they may be considered as somewhat slender and unimportant affairs. Certainly in the absence of any wheeled traffic no surface of the kind as was necessary in Europe and Asia was to be met with here. Provided that the road stretched in an uninterrupted length along the peaks, valleys, and chasms of the rugged mountain country, no question of close and intricate pavement was concerned, since for the troops of pack-llamas anything of the kind was quite superfluous. Thus, as imposing structures, these highways impress the modern traveller but little. Nevertheless, they served their purpose efficiently, and extended themselves in triumph over one of the most difficult road-making countries in the world.
This road network of the Incas spread itself little by little from the central portion of the Empire to the far north and south; for during the comparatively short imperial status of the race their rule had extended itself steadily. They were in many respects a people possessed of the true colonizing instincts. Their able and liberal Government was of a kind which could not fail to be appreciated by the tribes which they had conquered. Indeed, the various sections of these subjugated Indians appear to have become an integral part of the Inca Empire in a remarkably short time.
In their conquest the rulers appear to have strained every point to effect this end. Thus they were not averse from time to time to receive into their temples new and strange gods which their freshly made subjects had been in the habit of worshipping. These were received among the deities of older standing, and were wont to be acknowledged, and so, after a short while, were considered as foreign no longer.
A nation of which far less has been heard, but which in many respects resembled the Incas, was that of the Chibchas. The Chibchas inhabited the country which had for its centre the valley of the Magdalena River. The country of this tribe, as a matter of fact, is now part of the Republic of Colombia; thus the Chibchas were situated well to the north of the Inca Empire. The religion of these people closely resembled that of the more southern Children of the Sun. Like these others, they worshipped the masculine Sun and the female Moon, and a certain number of deities in addition.
The Chibchas have left some ruins of temples behind them, although these are not of the same magnitude as the Inca edifices. They were an agricultural people, and, in addition, were skilled in weaving and in the manufacture of pottery; they were, moreover, supposed to have been clever workers in gold. The costume of the race showed very similar tastes to those of their more southern brethren. The men of rank wore white or dyed cotton tunics, and the women mantles fastened by means of golden clasps. The warlike splendour of the men was characteristically picturesque, their chief decorations being breast-plates of gold and magnificent plumes for the head. They, too, employed as weapons darts, bows and arrows, clubs, lances, and slings. The fate of the Chibchas was, of course, the same as that of the Incas. Their bodies decked with their brilliant feathers and pomp sank into the mire of despond, never again to attain to their former state.
This very brief study of the Incas and Chibchas concludes the civilized elements of the Aboriginal South American. To the east of the Andes were a number of tribes, all of which were, to a greater or lesser degree, still in a state of sheer savagery. Near the eastern frontier of the Inca Empire resided such peoples as the Chiriguanos, Chunchos, Abipones, Chiquitos, Mojos, Guarayos, Tacanas; while to the north were similar tribes, such as the Ipurines, Jamamaries, Huitotos, Omaguas. These appear to have absorbed some crude and vague forms of the Inca religion, and were addicted to the worship of the Sun, but more frequently of the Moon.
On the east of the Continent, ranging from the territory which is now known as Misiones in Argentina, and Southern Paraguay to the north-east of the Continent, were various branches of the great Guarani family, a nation that some consider should be more correctly known as Tupis, and whose northernmost section are known as Caribs. It is impossible to attempt to give an account of the very great number of the tribes which went to make up this powerful and great nation. Many of these remain to the present day, and sixteen are still accounted for in the comparatively insignificant district of the Guianas alone.
It is, indeed, only feasible to deal with the main characteristics of these various peoples—mostly forest-dwellers. Naturally enough, the tribesmen were hunters and fishers. The majority were given to paint their bodies and to pierce their ears, noses, and lower lips, in order to insert reeds, feathers, and similar savage ornaments. In the more tropical forest regions the blowpipe constituted one of the most formidable weapons. Bows and arrows were in general use, the points of these latter being of bone or hardened wood. The barbs of the spears were similarly contrived, many of these weapons being beautifully decorated in the more northern territories. The greater part of these tribes still remain in the forest districts of the Continent.
In Chile and in the River Plate Provinces an entirely different type of Indian prevailed; great warriors these, for the most part, who roamed the plains of the River Plate Provinces, or, like the Araucanians, lived a turbulent and fierce existence among the forests and mountains of the far south to the west of the Andes Chain.
It was these Southern Indians who disputed the soil with the Spaniards with the courage and ferocity that frequently spilled the Castillian blood in torrents on the mountains or plains. To the end, indeed, they remained unconquered, and death was almost invariably preferred to submission to the hated white invaders of their land.
Even here prevailed the socialism which so strongly characterized the races of the centre and north of the Continent. Despotism was unknown, and even the chieftain, in the proper sense of the word, had no existence. In times of war an elder was chosen, it is true, but with the laying down of the weapons he became again one of the people, and was lost in their ranks. Such crude organization as existed was left to the hands of a Council of Elders. There is no doubt that witch-doctors attained to a certain degree of power, but even this was utterly insignificant as compared with that which was wont to be enjoyed by the savage priests of Central Africa.
Taken as a whole, the Indians of Southern America represented some of the most simple children who ever lived in the lap of Nature. Unsophisticated, credulous, and strangely wanting in reasoning powers and organized self-defence, they fell ready victims to the onslaughts of the Spaniards, who burst with such dramatic unexpectedness on their north-eastern shores.
Columbus was admittedly a visionary. It was to the benefit of his fellow Europeans and to the detriment of the South American tribes that to his dreams he joined the practical side of his nature. Certainly the value of imagination in a human being has never been more strikingly proved than by the triumph of Columbus.
The enthusiasm of the great Genoese was of the kind which has tided men over obstacles and difficulties and troubles throughout the ages. He was undoubtedly of the nervous and highly-wrought temperament common to one of his genius. He loved the dramatic. There are few who have not heard the story of the egg with the crushed end which stood upright. But there are innumerable other instances of the demonstrative powers of Columbus. For instance, when asked to describe the Island of Madeira, he troubled not to utter a word in reply, but snatched up a piece of writing-paper and, crumpling it by a single motion of his hand, held it aloft as a triumphant exhibition of the island's peaks and valleys.
Fortunately for the adventurers of his period, his belief in his mission was unshakable. It was, of course, a mere matter of chance that Columbus should have found himself in the service of the Spaniards when he set out upon his voyage which was to culminate in the discovery of the New World. He himself had been far more concerned with the Portuguese than with their eastern neighbours. Indeed, until the discovery of America, the Spaniards, fully occupied with the expulsion of the Moors from within their frontiers in Europe, could give but little attention to the science of navigation.
The Portuguese, on the other hand, had for a considerable period been specializing in seamanship. From his castle at Faro, on the southernmost shores of Portugal, where Prince Henry the Navigator had founded his maritime school, that royal scientist had watched with pride the captains whom he had trained as they sailed their vessels over the gold and blue horizon of the Far South, and had exultantly drunk in on their return the tales of new shores and of oceans ploughed for the first time; of spices, riches men, and beasts, all new and strange, and, all appealing strongly to the imagination of the learned Prince, who only restrained himself with difficulty from plunging into the unknown.
It was with men such as these of Prince Henry's with whom the Genoese had been brought into contact on his first visit to Portugal. That he had been received by this set as one of themselves is sufficiently evidenced by the fact of his marriage with a daughter of Bartholomew Perestrello. It was naturally, therefore, to the Portuguese Government that Columbus first applied for the assistance in men and ships which were to bear him to the land which he so fiercely promised.
As has been said, there is no doubt that Columbus was a visionary who possessed a large amount of practical knowledge and experience, from which the indulgence in these visions sprang. That his theories were the result of something more than the merest speculation is certain. Maritime legend and lore were rife in Genoa and the Mediterranean, and certainly abounded in Portugal under the benevolent and strenuous encouragement of Prince Henry the Navigator. That some vague echoes of the feats performed by the Norsemen and others who had long before won their way to the Western Continent had penetrated to these parts of Europe there is no doubt. Columbus, moreover, had stayed for many months at one of those half-way houses between Europe and the western mainland, Porto Santo, and the neighbouring Island of Madeira.
His father-in-law was at the time Governor of the lesser island, that of Porto Santo. In such a spot as this the requirements of Columbus were naturally few, and he had gained a livelihood with ease by the making of maps. His father was a carder of wool at Genoa, and young Christopher, rebelling at the monotony of this trade, commenced his maritime life before he was fifteen years old.
It was doubtless while at Porto Santo that Columbus had thought out his theories, aided by not a little evidence of the material order, such as floating logs and other objects, which had sailed, wind and current borne, from the unknown lands across the Atlantic. Columbus, of course, was not actually the first to feel convinced of the possibility of gaining India by sailing to the West; the theory had been held by Aristotle, Seneca, Strabo, and others. The sole mistake Columbus made in his calculations was concerning the size of the world. He had overestimated the extent of the Continent of Asia, and underestimated the extent of the Atlantic Ocean; he seems to have been convinced that a very few days' sailing to the west of Madeira would bring him to the shores of India. It was this error in calculation that undoubtedly was responsible for many long and agonizing hours spent on the actual voyage.
Columbus's proposals, it is true, were received with a certain interest by the Portuguese; but for the jealousy of some officials it is very probable that he would, in the first instance, have seen his cherished plans carried into effect. As it was, a vessel was secretly fitted out, and was sent in command of a rival navigator to test the theories of Columbus. After a while the ship returned, battered and worn, having discovered nothing beyond a series of exceptionally violent tempests.
This attempt was in any case destined to prove equally adverse to the fortunes of Columbus. Had it succeeded, he would have undoubtedly been deprived of the credit which should have been his by right; since it failed, the venture was considered to have proved the fallacy of Columbus's theories. When, disgusted with experiences such as these, Columbus left Portugal and took up his residence near the Court of Spain in company with this great idea of his, which followed him everywhere, and was in a sense bigger than himself, he met with an equal lack of success in the first instance. Queen Isabella was sympathetic, but her cautious husband Ferdinand showed himself cold. Dreading the utter destruction of his plans, Columbus determined to wash his hands of the Iberian Peninsula and its over-cautious rulers and statesmen.
He was actually on his way to England, whither one of his brothers had already preceded him, when a message from the Court of Spain caused him to hasten back. It is possible that the Court had been in a haggling mood, and had given the discoverer credit for a similar phase; at all events, it was not until his person was almost out of reach that the now complaisant authorities called him back.
Ferdinand himself had given his consent, although in a grudging fashion. Isabella, however, proved herself enthusiastic, and it was she who signed the bargain with the famous Genoese, which gave a continent to the Royal Family of Spain. The signing of the bargain, however, did not necessarily end the friction. The authorities were now fully prepared to recognize Columbus as their messenger to the unknown world; but they were reluctant in the extreme that the intrepid navigator should be carried in too comfortable or costly a fashion. In the end Columbus, conceding that half a fleet was better than no ships, gave way and took what was offered him. He himself as Admiral was given charge of the Santa Maria, the largest vessel, while two diminutive craft, the Pinta and the Nina, made up this very humble fleet. Nevertheless, Columbus now had his desire; he had obtained in the main all that he had asked, although some of it in a lesser degree.
The concessions granted to Columbus for his first voyage were that he was to be made Admiral of the seas and countries to be discovered, a dignity which was to descend to his heirs; that he was to become Viceroy of all those islands and continents; to have the tenth part of the profits of the total undertaking; to be made sole mercantile judge; to have the right to contribute one-eighth part of the expenses of all the maritime ventures, and in return to be given an eighth part of the profits.
He carried with him a letter from Ferdinand and Isabella to any chance sovereign whom he might meet, which ran to this effect:
"Ferdinand and Isabella to King ... The Sovereigns having heard that he and his subjects entertain great love for them and for Spain. They are, moreover, informed that he and his subjects very much wish to hear news from Spain, and send therefore their Admiral, Christopher Columbus, who will tell them that they are in good health and perfect prosperity."
Prester John, who was still considered to be ruling in some mystical fashion over an imaginary country, might have welcomed this species of circular communication. It was certainly wasted on the inhabitants of Hispaniola, who were considerably more concerned with their own health and prosperity than with that of Ferdinand and Isabella, and who certainly had more reason when the adventurers had once landed.
So to a certain extent armed and prepared against any chance that he might encounter, Columbus set sail from Spain on August 3, 1492.
Much has been said concerning the character of the crews with which he had been provided. It is true the American natives were destined in the first instance, by some peculiarly hard stroke of fortune, to make their acquaintance with Europeans largely through the intermediary of criminals. It is often held to have been one of the greatest hardships of Columbus that his ships should have been manned so largely by desperadoes and malefactors pardoned especially in order to take part in the expedition. In the peculiar circumstances of his first and exceptionally daring adventure the nature of his crew became of great and even of vital importance. It is certain, however, that Columbus himself obviously suffered no permanent discouragement on account of the men of his first crew, for he subsequently advocated the transportation of criminals to the Indies, and, further, urged that any person having committed a crime (with the exception of those of heresy, lese majeste, and treason) should have the option of ordinary imprisonment, or of going out at his own expense to Hispaniola to serve under the orders of the Admiral.
These edicts were actually brought into force, and although Columbus some years afterwards bitterly complained of the type of European whom he found at Hispaniola, there is no doubt that he himself was largely responsible for their presence. Nevertheless, speaking generally, Columbus was not alone in being served by this species of retainer, for the custom, borrowed from the Portuguese, was a general one, and where volunteers failed, their places were supplied by the dregs of the prisons. One of the principal charges brought against Columbus was that, in addition to his alleged maltreatment of his own men, he had refrained from baptizing Indians, and this because he had desired slaves rather than Christians. He was accused, moreover, of having made many slaves in order to send them to Castile. Of course, there is no doubt whatever as to the truth of this latter charge; but Columbus was not alone in this respect—indeed, at that time there was no single adventurer who had penetrated to these new regions without making slaves whenever the opportunity arose. And it may be said in common fairness to the individual explorers that no other method was understood, and that this procedure was considered entirely legitimate.
It is unnecessary to enter here into the troubles and tribulations of Columbus's first voyage. The details of the men's discontent and of the leader's courage, persistence, and strategy have been the subject of thousands of works. The great contrition, moreover, of his mutinous crew, when after five weeks' sailing they sighted land, and their sudden admiration and almost worship of the great navigator, afford too familiar a subject to be dealt with here. Suffice to say that Columbus took possession of this first land—the island which he believed to form part of a continent—in the name of the Crown of Castile and Leon, christening this herald of a new world San Salvador.
For a while the shock of this triumph appears to have deadened all other considerations, but only for a while. Columbus, like every other navigator of the period, had gone out in search of glory, and of gilded glory for preference. The very first thought, therefore, which took possession of the minds of both the Admiral and his men, when the first exultation had died away in favour of more practical affairs, was that of gold. To this end they cruised about the new seas, visiting Cuba, Haiti (or Hispaniola), and other islands.
After a while Columbus discovered some traces of the coveted metal, but these to his heated imagination were mere chance fragments of the golden mountains and valleys which lay somewhere beyond. It was time, he determined, to seek for further assistance. Leaving a small company of the Spaniards in the Island of Haiti, the inhabitants of which had proved themselves friendlily disposed, he sailed for Europe, taking with him such specimens of the New World as he thought would chiefly appeal to the Spanish Court. Among this merchandise were samples of the products of the Western Islands, small nuggets of gold, and human merchandise in the way of captive Indians.
When his heavily-laden ships arrived in Spain the entire nation broke out into thunders of acclamation. Queen Isabella received him with even more than her accustomed amount of graciousness, while the coldness which had characterized Ferdinand's attitude towards him had now become altered to fervent enthusiasm.
The Court of Spain, convinced of the value of these new possessions, lost no time in applying to Pope Alexander VI. for his sanction of their dominion over the New World. This the Pope granted, drawing the famous line from Pole to Pole, which was to serve as a dividing line between the colonies of Spain and Portugal.
Columbus, in the meanwhile, was preparing for his second voyage. Naturally enough, this was conducted under very different auspices from the first. It was now a proud fleet which, favoured by the trade winds, ploughed its way to the south-west, manned by a numerous, influential, and in many cases aristocratic, company. The advent of this second fleet to Haiti brought about the first of the innumerable collisions between the Europeans and the natives of America. Of the garrison which Columbus had left in the island none remained. There was scarcely a trace, moreover, of the existence of the rough fort which had been constructed. The manner of the natives had altered; they received the new-comers with marked evidences of fear and distrust.
After a while the truth came out. Some members of the European garrison had taken upon themselves to maltreat the natives, and these, resenting this, had turned upon their aggressors and slaughtered them to a man, after which they had burned the fort to the ground. In order to inculcate the necessary terror into the unfortunate inhabitants a fearful revenge was wreaked on them by Columbus's men, and the unhappy people of Haiti paid for their act in floods of blood and tears. This continued until the Indians became for the time being thoroughly cowed. Subsequently they were set to work to dig for gold and other metals in order to enrich the pioneers.
As time went on the natives were ground down more and more, and set to tasks for which they were temperamentally quite unsuited. Death became rife among their ranks, and the hardships endured drove them to open rebellion. The armour and weapons of the Spaniards rendered any attempts of the kind abortive, and massacres and torturing completed the enslaving process of the wretched race.
Communication between the New and Old World was at that time, of course, slow and precarious in the extreme. Nevertheless, tidings of what was going on in the island of Hispaniola at length found their way to the ears of Ferdinand and Isabella. To these were added a number of reports, for the most part fabricated by Columbus's enemies, of the tyranny of the Admiral and of his ill-treatment of Spaniards of good birth. Columbus, leaving his brother Bartholomew in charge of the new dominions, returned to Spain, confronted his enemies, and was able to refute the accusations brought against him. As regards the allegations of ill-treatment of the Spaniards this was easily enough disproved; as regards the Indians the matter was not so simple, for, to do them justice, Ferdinand and Isabella were keenly anxious to prevent any tyranny or ill-treatment of their new and remote subjects.
Columbus, having regained the confidence of his Sovereigns, started on his third voyage in the beginning of 1496. On this occasion he discovered Trinidad, coasted along the borders of Guiana, and saw for the first time the Islands of Cubagua and Margarita. In Haiti the Admiral found a discontented community. His two brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, had become unpopular with the Spaniards, who were chafing beneath their authority. The arrival of Columbus caused a temporary lull in the disputes, but after a while the power of the malcontents grew steadily, and their accounts of what was to the fore in Haiti, although wilfully garbled and exaggerated, began to bear weight with the Royal Family of Spain.
Columbus, in the first instance, had stipulated for the sole command of the fleets of the New World. This was well enough in theory, but in practice the concession was almost immediately broken into. Other expeditions started out from Spain to the New World. Alonso Ojeda, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, now came out in command of an expedition of his own. In his company was Amerigo Vespucci, whose graphic and fanciful account of his own particular doings resulted eventually in the naming of the entire continent after him. In 1499 Alonso Nino led an expedition out from Spain, followed shortly after by another commanded by Pinzon. In the meantime Brazil was being explored by the great Portuguese, Pedro Alvarez Cabral.
To return to Columbus, the glory of the great navigator had now waned. As the years intervened between the date of his great feat and his less glorious present, his record became stale and forgotten, while the power and influence of his enemies grew. In the year 1500 Columbus was sent to Spain—in chains this time. On his arrival Ferdinand and Isabella, shocked at this state of affairs, endeavoured to make some minor reparation to the greatest man of his age. They were nevertheless firm in refusing to allow him to continue as Governor of Hispaniola and the new territories, and to this post was appointed Nicolas de Ovando.
This latter took out the first really imposing expedition which had set sail for Hispaniola. The welfare of the Indians had been strictly committed to his charge by Ferdinand and Isabella. Numerous humane laws had been drawn up for the protection of the natives, and these, it was intended, should be rigidly enforced. Nevertheless, the thousands of miles of intervening ocean rapidly deprived these of any semblance of authority, and the misery and mortality of the men of Hispaniola continued unabated.
Although to a certain extent deserted and discredited, Columbus determined to make one more desperate effort to draw himself clear of the oblivion which was now enveloping him. With a fleet of four small vessels he set sail from Cadiz on May 9, 1502. Perhaps on this occasion his mortification was greater than ever before. Ovando, the Governor, would have nothing to do with him. Having suffered shipwreck and numerous other calamities besides, the great navigator, embittered and downcast, turned the bows of his ships towards Spain. On landing he learned of the death of Queen Isabella, the only person of influence who had shown him a consistent friendship. Realizing now that his influence and chances had finally departed, he retired into seclusion in the neighbourhood of Vallodolid, where he died in his sixtieth year on May 20, 1506.
THE SPANISH CONQUISTADORES
The pioneer conquistadores of South America afford an interesting study. Such men as those who took their lives in their hands and sailed out into the unknown were actuated by two motives—the love of adventure and the desire of gain. There is no doubt that the second consideration by far outweighed the first. A man of the period left Spain or Portugal for the New World for one cogent reason only, to seek his fortune. If he won fame in the achievement of this, so much the better. Indeed, as a matter of fact, it was generally impossible to achieve the one without the other, although this fame might frequently have its shield sullied and blackened by a number of wild and terrible acts; for circumstances tended to make the conquistador what he almost invariably became, a daring being who let the lives of no others stand in the way of his own interests.
He was not, as was the case with corresponding officials of a later epoch, sent out on an accurately defined mission for which his emoluments were definitely fixed and guaranteed by the Home Government. The conquistador nearly always risked much of his own before he set sail from his native land. A man was seldom given a Governorship, even of an unknown region in the New World, unless he showed himself prepared to finance in part an expedition which should be of sufficient importance to furnish the new territory with men and live-stock, and everything else of the kind.
The conquistador, in fact, was generally the active partner in an enterprise which was largely commercial. Sometimes his sleeping partners were the merchants of Spain; sometimes it was the King himself who joined in the venture; at others it was both King and merchants who jointly assisted the pioneer. But it was very seldom that an adventurer of the kind succeeded in obtaining an important concession unless he were prepared to subsidize it heavily from his own pocket.
We may instance Pedro de Mendoza. It was the part he had played in the sack of Rome which enabled this wealthy adventurer to organize the great expedition which set sail for the Provinces of the River Plate. Here we have the curious anomaly of the Church being robbed by a mercenary, and the money obtained by the loot employed in an object which was ostensibly in the interests of the Church in the New World. In order to satisfy the public nearer home, it is true that the conquistadores were almost invariably accompanied by priests; but once well without the jurisdiction of Rome, Spain, and Portugal, they took very good care that the priests should not interfere in their concerns. Having been accepted as a guarantee of good faith, their sphere of utility had ended with the arrival in the New World so far as the conquistadores were concerned. Many of them became active participants in the wild deeds of the conquistadores. Did they, on the other hand, show themselves desirous of protesting, the more reckless pioneers made strenuous attempts to muzzle their eloquence.
When the spirit of the age and the circumstances in which these adventurers sailed to the South-West are considered, many of the atrocities committed are less to be wondered at than would otherwise be the case. It may be taken for granted, in the first place, that the temperament of these men was sufficiently wild and reckless to cause them to embark in any extraordinarily perilous enterprise of the kind. With all they had in the world sunk in the venture, they would move heaven and earth, and squander countless human beings, before admitting defeat. The failure of Indian labour meant financial ruin; this was frequently staved off at the cost of thousands and tens of thousands of lives. Such characteristics as these were by no means confined to the Spaniards and Portuguese. We have some terribly vivid examples of it on the part of the Welzers, the German merchant princes who contracted with Charles V. to subdue and settle Venezuela. Sir Clements Markham relates that the first Governor of the new colony, an official of the name of Alfinger, came out with a strong force in 1530. On his marches he would employ many hundreds of native porters; these men were chained together in long lines, each slave having a ring round his neck made fast to the chain. When one of the slaves was too ill or too exhausted to proceed any farther, Alfinger had the unfortunate wretch's head severed from his body, so that the body dropped away from the chain without the march being hindered. It is difficult to imagine a more callous or atrocious proceeding than this, but undoubtedly financial considerations lay at the bottom of it. The thing was done, perhaps, pour encourager les autres, and certainly many a poor staggering wretch marched on mile after mile, when under ordinary circumstances he would have dropped exhausted at an earlier stage. Thus the last atom of physical energy was wrenched by terror from the slaves—a species of economy which, if worked out wholesale, may have proved sufficiently profitable from their owner's point of view!
Long even after the passing of the pioneer conquistadores the methods of the Spanish Court encouraged abuses of authority and many acts of tyranny. Officials, such as Governors and even Viceroys, were wont to pay certain sums down for the transference of the tenure of office, and it was then their task to wring as much from the governed territory as possible in order that they might retire from the New World to the Old the owners of vast fortunes.
To expect fair government under conditions such as these was to conceive human beings on a higher plane than that on which they are wont to be planned. Indeed, notwithstanding the atrocities and financial iniquities which were rife throughout Spanish and Portuguese Colonies, to imagine the various officials as necessarily inhuman and criminal is, of course, absurd. Many of these were men of talent, and of merciful and gentle disposition; but in many even of these cases the altogether extraordinary influence and atmosphere of the Southern Continent ended by driving them to acts from which in Europe they would have shrunk whole-heartedly. The dispositions of the men were not invariably at fault; but the system under which they worked was never anything else.
It is time, however, to forsake generalization, and to return to the Spanish pioneers who first colonized Haiti, and then set foot on the mainland itself. In the ill-fated island the drama, begun with the advent of the Spaniards, was being continued in deeper and bloodier shades. The royal edicts came pompously out from Spain, commanding that the welfare of the Indians should be the first consideration on the part of the Colonial Government; but the thunder of such edicts, worn out by the voyage, died away ere they reached the island. Ovando, it is true, made some endeavours to act up to the spirit of these enactments; but in view of the condition of the labour market and the clamourings of the settlers it was, humanly speaking, impossible to carry this out.
As time went on both settlers and Governors accustomed themselves to treat the aborigines rather as beasts of burden than as men, and they were hunted, slain, or driven to labour with as little compunction as if they had been pack-mules. The slightest sign of revolt was wont to be punished by an outlet of blood which left the unfortunate folk cowering in deeper terror and despair than before. The utter misery of the Indians may be imagined when the measures they took to free themselves are taken into consideration, for in the end they adopted the plan of committing suicide as the only means of cheating the rapacity of their white oppressors. Native families, and even entire villages, found gloomy consolation in a self-sought death. Even in this they were not invariably successful. Perhaps never has the irony of fate been more strongly illustrated than in the tale that is told of one large slave-owner and his human chattels.
These latter, having come to the end of their endurance, had determined to follow the example of so many in the neighbourhood, and to do away with themselves in a body. The Spaniard, however, received notice of the intention of these people in time. Hastening to the spot, he came upon them just as they were preparing to effect their end. He was undoubtedly a crafty being, this. Proceeding into the midst of the distraught folk, he called for a rope. This, he explained, was in order that he, too, might hang himself and thus accompany the Indians to the next world, where they would thus still remain his slaves. The ruse proved entirely successful. The credulous Indians became, as it were, horrified back to life at the idea; they abandoned the attempt upon their lives, and continued in sorrowful despair to serve their Spanish owner.
In 1509 Ovando sailed back to Spain, and some return was made to Columbus's family for the part he had played in the discovery of the new Colonies. His son, Diego, came out, having been endowed with the titles of Viceroy and Admiral. Thus the Court of Spain had at last conceded some of the privileges which had been so effectually won by his father. It is certain enough that the experiences of Diego's generation were very different from those of his father's. The new Commander took up his residence in state in Haiti, where he lived with great pomp and style. The Indians, however, it is said, suffered more under his Governorship than had been their lot under that of his predecessor.
The tide of conquest was flowing past the islands, and beginning to spend itself on the continent. In 1508 began the actual colonization of the Spanish Main. The first territories to which the Spaniards made their way were those which gave on the Gulf of Darien. Here a companion of Columbus in his second voyage, Alonso de Ojeda, was given the district extending from the Cape de la Vela to the Gulf of Uraba, and this territory was termed the Land of New Andalusia. Another adventurer, Nicuesa, came as his neighbour, holding the Governorship of the coast from the Gulf of Uraba to the Cape Gracias a Dios. These two conquistadores, although as jealous of each other as was usual with almost all these pioneer explorers, joined forces against the Indians, whom they attempted to subdue by means of an iron hand rather than by a silk glove. The Indians, however, proved themselves of a very warlike disposition, and the joint forces of the Spaniards were unable to crush the power of the aborigines. After a while the leaders were obliged to withdraw their forces from the district they had occupied.
Some while afterwards Nunez de Balboa took charge of Uraba. On his arrival he found that matters on the Gulf of Darien had reached a desperate pitch. As the fortunes of the Spaniards had waned, the confidence of the Indians had increased. There is no doubt that the majority of men would have recoiled from the task which faced Balboa when he found himself at the head of a number of starving Spaniards, scarcely able to maintain their precarious foothold in a hostile country.
Balboa gathered together the despairing remnants, and contrived to put fresh heart into his men. He then turned to the Indians, and won their esteem by his considerate treatment. He proved himself, in fact, in every respect an able and successful leader. It was in 1512 that he set out on his famous expedition across the Isthmus, and won his way to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It was certainly not the least dramatic moment in the history of early America when Balboa, in a frenzy of joy, seized the flag of Castile, and, holding it aloft, plunged his body into the waters of the ocean, claiming it for his King. As was the fate of so many able men of that period, it was not long before Balboa was superseded. The fine governmental structure he had built up was very soon wrecked by his successor and superior, Pedrarias. Friendly communication with the Indians was ruthlessly broken off. The natives were chased unmercifully by bloodhounds, and numbers slain.
Balboa, chafing beneath a situation which must have been keenly distressing to him, was suspected by Pedrarias, and arrested. The Bishop, Quevado, however, intervened in favour of the single-minded ex-Governor; a reconciliation of a kind was patched up, and, in order to strengthen this, Balboa was officially betrothed to the daughter of Pedrarias—a purely political move this, since Balboa was already united to the dusky daughter of Careta, an aboriginal chief. There is matter for the novelist here and to spare; few situations can be found which hold more possibilities. In this case they led to the death of Balboa, which would probably have happened irrespective of the strange situation in which he found himself. The cause, however, was merely renewed jealousy on the part of the Governor. Balboa had prepared a further expedition of discovery, so thoroughly, indeed, that the suspicions of Pedrarias were again needlessly aroused. A mock trial brought about a real catastrophe, which ended in the beheading of Balboa in 1547, at the age of forty-two.
In the meanwhile much had been happening in the neighbourhood. Charles V. found himself in some danger of running short of men in the face of these tremendous additions to his empire. He farmed out a portion of these new Colonies, contracting with the Welzers, merchant princes of Augsberg, in Germany, to take charge of and to extend the settlements in that part of the continent which is now known as Venezuela.
An official of the name of Alfinger was appointed as the first Governor of this new settlement. He is said to have practised the most barbarous cruelties on the unfortunate Indians, some of which have already been referred to. Alfinger was succeeded by other officials of his nationality, who are said to have proved themselves somewhat less cruel rulers. But, on the whole, this colonizing scheme of the Welzers proved a dreary failure; they had little interest in the permanent occupation of the country, and sought merely for the gold and precious metals. Thus, with the knowledge that their occupation would be shortlived, they forced the Indians to ever more strenuous labours than those to which they were accustomed even at the hands of the Spaniards. In the end the country became depopulated. The Welzers shrugged their shoulders, and admitted that their utility was at an end in that district. With this the Spaniards took possession of the country once again.
Gonzalo Jimines de Quesada now became prominent as a conquistador in the territory to the north of Peru, known then as New Granada. Quesada himself, although he lacked nothing of the courage and determination (frequently of a merciless order) of the average conquistador, was undoubtedly endowed with certain attributes which were possessed by very few of these hardy pioneers. For one thing he was scholarly; he had been given an elaborate education, and knew well how to put it to the best purposes. Quesada led an expedition up the Magdalena River. He had for companion Benalcazar. They approached the country from the south, occupied Popagan and Pasto, and founded Guayaquil. They also penetrated the Valley of Curacua and Bogota, and thus traversed the whole Province. This brought them into contact with the Chibcha Indians. In the end these unfortunate beings were completely subdued, their civilization destroyed, and they themselves divided as slaves among the Spaniards.
Quesada, accompanied by a band of mercenary Indians, started on his journey in order to seek for gold. He was, in the first place, received in a friendly way by the natives; but in the end these, dreading the greed which the invaders took no trouble to conceal, attacked them. The warfare between the Spaniards and the natives commenced, with the conquest of the natives as the result, as given above. It has already been explained that many of the characteristics of the Incas and of the Chibchas were curiously alike. In history this extended even to the fate of the respective Royal Families. Pizarro slew Atahualpa; Quesada was even more thorough. For not only did he destroy the Prince of the Chibchas, but the whole of the Royal Family as well.
These acts do not appear to have lain very heavily on the conscience of Quesada, if fruitful years be any test. The tough old conquistador lived to the age of eighty, expiring in the year 1579. In 1597 it is said that his body was taken to Bogota Cathedral.
THE DISCOVERY AND EARLY HISTORY OF BRAZIL
It still remains a point of dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese nations as to who was the discoverer of Brazil. There is, moreover, Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo Vespucci may be said to have been more successful in his accounts of his voyages than in the feats which he actually accomplished. To have succeeded on such slender foundation in causing an entire Continent to be christened by his name was in itself no mean performance, and this was probably his greatest claim to distinction.
Some historians take him more seriously than this. Southey, for one, appears to accept Vespucci very much at his own valuation, and states that the honour of having formed the first settlement in Brazil is due to Amerigo Vespucci.
The Spaniards claim this distinction for their famous seaman, Vicente Pinzon. Pinzon sailed from Spain in December, 1499. He shaped a more southerly course than any previous navigator in the Spanish service, and he appears to have made his landfall in the neighbourhood of Pernambuco. He went ashore, it would seem, at a spot he named Cape Consolation, and of this he took possession in the name of the Spanish Crown. His voyage, however, appears to have had very little practical result, for almost immediately afterwards he returned to Europe, and no steps seem to have been taken by the Spanish Court for the colonization of the land which he had discovered.
The Portuguese, for their part, assert that the territories of Brazil were first sighted by their great navigator, Pedro Alvarez Cabral. The discovery was in one sense something of an accident. It was necessary for the seamen who were setting their course for the East Indies to steer well to the west, in order to avoid the zones of calms which prevail in the neighbourhood of the African coast. Cabral appears to have steered so boldly into the west that he fell in with the coast of Brazil. This was in 1500. Word of this event was sent to Portugal, and the enterprising little kingdom, at that time at the height of her maritime power, made preparations to colonize the country.
The auspices under which the Spaniards and the Portuguese arrived in the New World were curiously different. The Spaniards were frankly in quest of gold, and in many cases ransacked the fertile agricultural lands in search of minerals which were non-existent. The Portuguese, on the other hand, had no reason to suspect the presence of precious metals in their new colony, and it was in the first instance for its vegetable products that the land, so rich in minerals, became famed.
It was only natural that the pioneer Portuguese should have been struck with the admirable quality of the valuable Brazilian woods. Shipments of timber were the first to be sent from the new colony to the Mother Country. It was from this very wood that Portuguese South America took its name, since much of it, being of a brilliant red colour, was known in the Portuguese language as "brasa."
Just about this time the Portuguese fitted out the most imposing fleet which had ever left their shores. It was commanded by one of the greatest of Portuguese explorers, Vasco da Gama, and was destined to sail round the Cape of Good Hope to the Indies—the new and marvellous land of spices. The fleet was worthy of its commander; it was made up of no fewer than thirteen vessels, and was manned by some 1,200 men.
With pomp and ceremony this imposing Armada sailed away from the blue waters of the Tagus, and, rounding the sunlit bluff, stood away to the south. It made the Canaries in the usual way, passed the Cape Verde Islands, and struck out to the west, lighting on the Brazilian coast in latitude 17 deg. south—that is to say, not far from the spot where stands the present town of Bahia. From this point Vasco da Gama sailed southward, keeping touch with the coast. He eventually established communication with the Indians, who were, as was usual in these latitudes, quite naked, their bodies being painted, and who wore great bones in their ears and in their slit lips and noses.
A criminal, one of the type which seems to have been brought out for purposes such as this, was landed in order to dwell among the natives, to test their temper and habits—a somewhat precarious profession this! After a while the fleet sailed from the place they named Port Seguro, leaving two of these criminals or degradados—professional pioneers—behind. These "were seen lamenting and crying upon the beach, and the men of the country comforting them, demonstrating that they were not a people devoid of pity."
This was the scene which presented itself to the eyes of the more fortunate mariners as they sailed away. Nevertheless, the criminals seem to have survived. No small advertisement, this, of the courtesy of the Indian tribe, for the people composing it must have belonged to one of the coastal races who afterwards were grimly famed for their ferocity.
As a matter of fact, human instruments of the kind, which, it must be admitted, were of small merit, played no small part in the colonization of Brazil. In some respects these unfortunate folk were undoubtedly useful. They resembled the candles carried by underground miners. If the candle continued to burn, all was well; but if the candle went out, there was obviously danger in the air. Quite a number of these human candles went out in the course of the early Iberian explorations. In a sense there was sufficient justice in this, since they were criminals whose offences had been usually those of murder and violence. If, therefore, they escaped in the first instance with their lives, their penitence had been consummated, and they were free to take advantage of the land.
People of this kind had been set ashore to pave the way for their betters in Africa and in India, and this system was now extended to Brazil. When friendly relations were once established, it may be imagined that the influence of these criminals upon the savages was not of the best. According to Southey: "The Europeans were weaned from that human horror at the blood-feasts of the savages, which, ruffians as they were, they had at first felt, and the natives lost that awe and veneration for the superior races, which might have proved so greatly to their advantage."
In 1503 the Portuguese sent out an important expedition under Duarte Coelho. This leader explored the country in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Bahia. After this he proceeded southwards, and landed men in order to establish a small colony.
The first really important attempt at colonizing the country was undertaken by Martin Affonso de Souza. This navigator set out from Portugal in command of many ships and men. Like Coelho, he struck the Brazilian coast at Bahia; but, instead of proceeding to the south, as his predecessor had done, he remained for some while at the spot. It is said that when De Souza landed he fell in with a Portuguese of the name of Correia. This worthy is supposed to have formed one of Cabral's expedition. For some reason or other he was marooned at that place. The Indians, instead of slaying him, had conceived a great veneration for this white man, who had, as it were, dropped from the clouds into their midst. The marooned sailor had become a kind of professional adviser, whose counsel was sought by the natives on every important occasion. Many of the early navigators maintain that the comparatively easy colonization of this portion of the Brazilian coast was due to the presence of the much-esteemed Correia.
Bahia rapidly became the most important of these early Portuguese settlements. In the first instance it was, of course, extremely difficult for the few bands of daring Portuguese to make any practical impression on the huge slice of coast which had fallen to their share. The experiences of the first colonists, moreover, were destined to differ considerably from those of the pioneer Spaniards. The latter had their field of exploration practically to themselves. The Portuguese, on the other hand, found rivals in the South Seas almost as soon as the prows of their ships had pierced the waters. The Dutch eventually were destined to become by far the most formidable of these; but in the first instance the chief friction occurred with the French.
Just at this period the Gallic sailors awoke to a strong interest in Brazil, and the French vessels carried numbers of warlike and industrial adventurers to the tropical shores. Even before 1530 a French factory had been established at Pernambuco, but a circumstance of far greater importance was that these French rovers discovered the magnificent harbour of Rio de Janeiro, sailed into the narrow entrance between the lofty peaks, and founded a colony there before the Portuguese had obtained the opportunity of a permanent footing in that place.
The leader of these troops was Nicolas Durant de Villegagnon, and his men comprised a number of Huguenots who were abandoning France. Villegagnon's own character appears to have been complex and curious in the extreme. He was apparently a true blade of the old swashbuckling type; he employed religion for such ends as he might have in view at the moment, regarding its tenets cynically, tongue in cheek. Thus he came out in command of the Huguenots, ostensibly himself a Huguenot; but his convictions appear to have changed on various occasions, and he is seen now as their abettor, now as their oppressor. In the end he clearly showed himself antagonistic to the convictions of his followers, and took to denouncing them as heretics. With the exception of this leader, the circumstances and motives of the expedition were somewhat similar to those which caused the first emigration of the English Puritans to North America.
Once established in Rio de Janeiro, the Huguenots succeeded in making friends with the Indians of the neighbourhood, who became their firm allies and proved of great assistance to the French in their struggles against the Portuguese, who came down in force to evict the intruders. The Huguenots were defeated in 1560 by Mem de Sa, the third Governor of Brazil; but, although dispersed for a while, the power of the invaders was by no means broken. Shortly afterwards they came together again, and succeeded in establishing themselves more firmly than before in the place. They were again fiercely attacked by the Portuguese, but the number of islands in the bay afforded excellent points of defence, and it was not until 1567 that the Portuguese sea and land forces combined were able to expel the last Frenchmen from the mountains which lay about the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. This, as a matter of fact, was merely a foretaste of much of the active and aggressive competition in matters of colonization from which the Portuguese were destined to suffer.
Before arriving at the subject of the predatory expeditions of the various nations in South America, it would be as well to consider the initial methods taken by the early Portuguese settlers. In the first instance the partition of so vast an extent of territory among so small a number of colonists was necessarily effected in a crude and tentative fashion. The great colony was divided into capitaneas, or counties, each of which possessed a coast-line of 150 miles. A Governor was appointed to each capitanea. As was perhaps natural, the powers of each of these officials, more or less isolated as each was, grew rapidly—to such an extent, indeed, that the home authorities in Portugal became anxious to curb the occasional eccentricities of some of the more despotic of these. In order to effect this, Thome de Souza was made Captain-General of Brazil, and was sent out to that country provided with numerous officials and troops. He established his headquarters at Bahia, and the size of the town increased in consequence. In 1572 Brazil was divided into two governmental areas, Bahia being recognized as the capital of the north, and Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the southern portion. This division, however, only lasted for five years. Brazil in the meanwhile was becoming populous, and had taken its place as the largest among the regular Portuguese colonies throughout the world.
It was not long before the jealousies between the Spanish and Portuguese led to various outbreaks and to troubles on the frontiers. From a purely practical point of view, there is no doubt whatever that such bickerings were a sheer absurdity, since the territories at the disposal of both nations were far too great to be effectively dealt with by any forces which either the Spanish or Portuguese could introduce into the Continent. As it was, the era was one of moulding and experiments. Even at the present day it would seem difficult to decide whether many of these latter have proved themselves definite successes or undoubted failures. The general conditions of the New World at this period are well worthy of note.
No doubt South America has been more widely experimented upon in the colonizing sense than any other Continent. The methods of the Spaniards and Portuguese were by no means similar throughout. Indeed, the principles adopted by the four greatest colonizing nations of the age—the Spanish, the Portuguese, the English, and the Dutch—were all distinguished from each other by various important features.
The British, where they came into contact with dark-skinned races of inferior vigour and individual power, made a point of holding aloof, so far as the more important social points were concerned. Thus in India and in Africa the gulf between the white and the black has continued unbridged. The representatives of the British have remained as a governing race, relying upon the strict justice of their rule for its preservation. They have refrained from interference in the thousand jealousies and caste regulations with which the East Indies were, and are, honeycombed, becoming active only when oppression became barefaced. These officials, that is to say, have made a point of respecting the religions of the various tribes, and have even encouraged them to continue unmolested.
As a result, the Governors, as a body, won the respect, and even the reverence, of a great mass of the populace, but gained comparatively little actual and personal affection. They were subjected to the jealousy of the fakirs in India, of the witch-doctors in Africa, and of other dusky fanatics who had been accustomed to oppress the rank and file of the populace before the advent of the European civilization.
The Dutch pursued a policy very similar to that of the English. They were essentially just in their rule, and they won the wholesale respect of the subject races. Their methods of governing, however, were usually more severe than those of the British, and as a rule the discipline they enforced was considerably stronger. This has been evidenced in Africa and elsewhere.
The Iberian system of colonization was in general totally different. Even the Spaniards, far less spontaneously genial than the Portuguese, encouraged an intimacy between their colonists and the subject races of a kind unknown in the Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic circles. It is true that in the first instance the Spaniards slaughtered hundreds of thousands of natives. But these wholesale killings were on account of no social convictions; they were merely the result of an overpowering greed for gold and of too harsh a method of enforcing labour. The colour question, as between Spaniard and native, scarcely ruffled the social surface of the colonies. This was not altogether to be wondered at when the antecedents of these bold Spanish colonial pioneers are taken into consideration.
A dusky tide from Africa had flooded the half of Spain, and had remained there for centuries, until the southern Spaniard, who lived in the midst of Moorish conquerors, tolerantly treated and allowed almost entire religious freedom, forgot the hostility towards his traditional enemy, and became oblivious of questions of colour. So much so was this the case that the Christian services were wont, after a time, to be conducted in Arabic, a system which evoked horrified protests from Bishops in other parts. Be that as it may, it is certain that the Spaniards had, with the sole exception of the Portuguese, been more concerned with the African races and dark blood than any other nation in Europe. Thus, once in South America, although the actual helplessness of the Indians was immediately remarked and taken advantage of, no question of inferiority from a mere racial point of view arose. The Indian went to the wall, not because he was an Indian, but because his powers were less than those of the European who had invaded his lands.
If this was the case with the Spaniard, it was far more marked in the case of the Portuguese. In some respects, perhaps, no nation colonized with quite the same amount of enthusiasm as this. Its pioneers once definitely settled in the country, whichever it might be, there arose no question of looking upon the new conquest as a place to be resided in for a certain number of years and no more. The Portuguese went to the east and to the south-west to make themselves part and parcel of the soil of the country they had annexed. To this end they mingled from the very start with the natives, and inter-married with an entire want of restraint with the Indian women.
Thus from the very inception of the Portuguese colonial era we are confronted with a race of half-castes, and we see the forces brought about by a mixture of blood and climatic conditions working more powerfully in the Portuguese colonies than in any others. The result was, in one sense, the formation of a new race, and an almost complete absence of rebellion and native unrest in those parts where genuine civilization had been attempted. That the race as a whole lost its European vigour and its northern principles was inevitable. This was the price of peace.
The subject is one into which climatic influence enters largely. Many of the districts of Brazil were not, and are not, in the least suited as a permanent place of residence for the white man. Were an attempt to be made to populate such places as these by Europeans, it could only be done by means of a continual change of inhabitants. That is to say, each resident, having spent a certain number of years in the spot, must be succeeded by another in order to preserve the integrity and vigour of the race.
Portugal, with an extraordinary generosity, flung her handful of white colonists into the vast lands she had discovered, and hoped by this means to raise the leaven of the whole. In India, as exemplified in Goa, the result has met with scant success. In Brazil, however, where the proportion of white to black was greater, a race of intellect and culture has been developed, although occasionally subject to the mental paroxysms of the dwellers in the tropics. In any case it may be said that the colour question has never existed in Brazil—so far, at all events, as the Indian is concerned. It was necessarily in evidence to a certain extent upon the first introduction of the negro slave, but even here the question has become of less and less importance, until, at the present day, the negro has in Brazil probably a more congenial resting-place than anywhere else in the world.
It must never be forgotten that these remarks as regards the Spanish colonies, and to almost as great an extent as regards the Portuguese, apply to the general run of the population. The majority of the leaders, both social and political, in all the South American colonies have been in the first instance, and have continued, men of good blood, and generally of ancient lineage, who have floated along with the rest, until they met with the inevitable current which bore them to the topmost of the new social layers. And once there, having been found the most fitting, they have remained.
THE CONQUEST OF PERU
The story of Pizarro and the Incas has been told many hundreds of times, yet owing to the sheer audacity of which its elements are composed it would seem to retain its interest almost unimpaired. That a mere handful of men should have banded themselves together to conquer a nation which counted its subjects by the hundred thousand, and which could claim a civilization that included great armies, remains almost beyond belief. The Incas themselves, moreover, were a conquering race, and their troops had marched to the north and to the south in their thousands, conquering nations less important than their own, and thus adding to the extent of the one formidable Empire of the Southern Continent.
Yet the downfall of these armies in this victorious State was achieved by less than two hundred European soldiers, led by the two fearless adventurers, Francisco Pizarro and Diego Almagro. These, accompanied by Hernando Luques, had begun to explore the neighbourhood of Panama in 1524. Every member of the force, it may be taken for granted, had a keen nose for gold, and it was not long before they came across some treasure of the kind which determined the leaders to possess themselves the country where the metal was to be found.
At this period the number of men commanded by Pizarro and Almagro was fewer even than the band with which they entered Peru. When it came to the knowledge of the Spaniards that the country of their desire was in reality so formidable an Empire, Pizarro sailed to Spain in search of reinforcements, and returned accompanied by his brothers and by a force of 180 men. It was on Pizarro's arrival in America that the first serious breach occurred between Almagro and himself. This was brought about by the arrangements which Pizarro had concluded in Spain, and in which Almagro considered, doubtless rightfully, he had not been fairly dealt with by his partner.
After a while a truce was patched up between the pair, and in 1531 an expedition, carried in three small vessels, set sail for the South. The troops were landed on the Peruvian coast, and they marched inland, defeating such small forces as endeavoured to oppose their progress. The valour and greed of the little army were every day becoming more deeply stirred by the trophies of gold and silver which they captured as they went. Fate was fighting strongly in favour of these desperate Spaniards. No circumstances could have been better adapted to successful invasion than those which obtained when Pizarro and Almagro entered the country, although these adventurous spirits knew nothing of this at the time. The land was divided against itself, for the first time in the comparatively short Inca history. Atahualpa and Huasca, the two sons of the recently dead Inca, Huana Capac, were engaged in a fierce struggle for the throne.
This in itself was something of a shock to the devout subjects of the Inca race, looking as they did upon the Imperial Children of the Sun as superhuman beings. It was thus a war of demigods waged by doubting and diffident mortals. The arrival of the Spaniards increased, of course, the drama of the situation. At the period of their advent Huasca was obtaining the worst of the struggle, and, seeing the possibility of salvation in the arrival of the newcomers, he sent to these beseeching their help. It can be imagined with what avidity Pizarro seized upon this pretext to enter into the domestic affairs of the nation. Atahualpa unconsciously helped to play the fate of the unfortunate Inca race still further into the hands of the Spaniards. Learning of the warlike might of the white man, he also sent an embassy of friendship to Pizarro, and a little later, in 1532, he started out in order to effect his first meeting with the strangers. This took place at Caxamalca.
In an evil moment for himself Atahualpa had determined to do his utmost to impress these foreigners from overseas with the evidence of his wealth and power. His body was covered with golden plates, armour, and decorations which shone with a strange brilliance as they flashed back the rays of the sun from its worshipper. He was attended, moreover, by a chosen company of nobles, whose adornments, although by comparison less splendid, were sufficient to cause the Spaniards' eyes to start from their heads with wonder and freshly-awakened lust.
Had the Inca come as a humble suppliant, the fate of the nation might have been postponed, if not altogether altered. The appearance of these resplendent beings signalled its instant doom. As Atahualpa was borne on his litter of state towards where Pizarro stood expectant in front of his soldiers, a priest strode forward, and, approaching him, urged him heatedly to embrace the religion of the Cross.
It is certain that the Inca understood nothing whatever of what was going on. What might have been his state of mind when he was handed the breviary is unknown; in any case he flung it to the ground. This was the signal for the attack on the part of the Spaniards. Drawing their swords, they flung themselves furiously upon the altogether unprepared Indians, slaying thousands of their numbers. Pizarro himself, hacking and striking as he went, fought his way to the Inca's litter of state, and it was his own hand which dragged the unfortunate ruler from his golden chair. The next moment he was guarding his captive fiercely from the chance blows which were rained upon the dusky monarch by the Spaniards who went charging by. He knew well enough the value of the Inca alive and captive in his hands. It was for this reason alone that he warded off the blows which his men would have dealt the fallen Child of the Sun.
The main onslaught had now died away. The field of the massacre was covered with the bodies of the dead and dying Peruvians; the rest had fled. Pizarro lost no time in improving the occasion from a financial point of view. A gallant knight, Fernando de Soto, was sent to the marvellous city of Cuzco—authorized both by the Inca and Pizarro—to despoil the temples of their treasures. Thus enormous hoards of gold and silver were obtained from the sacred buildings and from Atahualpa's loyal subjects as his ransom.
Even here Pizarro showed his want of good faith, for when the treasure demanded had been given up and amassed, he still retained the person of the Inca. Matters of policy and personal dislike soon sealed the fate of this latter. In 1533 he was tried for his life. After a parodied performance of justice he was executed, although Fernando de Soto and a number of other Spaniards protested vigorously against the act.
From a purely political point of view it is likely enough that the crime was profitable; in any case it sent a shock throughout the bounds of the Inca Empire from which its dusky inhabitants never afterwards fully recovered. There was now no powerful claimant to the Inca throne. The wrongs suffered by the race at the hands of the Spaniards need not cover the fact that the Indians themselves frequently proved capable of tyrannical and sanguinary acts. Thus on the news of Atahualpa's capture his enraged adherents had slain Huasca, who by that time had become a prisoner in their hands.
Pizarro now determined to take an active share in the government of the country. Placing a son of Atahualpa's on the throne, and having received reinforcements of men and arms, he marched throughout the Province at the head of 500 men, carrying with him the puppet King upon whom he placed great hopes. The latter disappointed these, since he died in the course of the expedition. In some respects this was doubly unfortunate for Pizarro, as there now remained one clear claimant to the throne of the Children of the Sun—Manco Capac, the brother of Huasca.
Manco Capac was by no means prepared to yield tamely to the situation. For a considerable time very little was effected on either side. The Incas were slowly recovering from the shocks and tribulations which they had undergone; the Spaniards, on the other hand, found their attention occupied by the unexpected arrival of a Spanish expedition commanded by Pedro de Alvarado. This leader had performed his part in the conquest of Mexico, and had now hastened to the South in order to ascertain what chances of enrichment were to be met with in the land, the reputation of which was now spreading itself abroad. For a while it looked very much as if open warfare would result between the rival parties. In the end, however, Pizarro consented to buy the departure of Alvarado, and this leader retired heavy in pocket. On the whole his visit had not proved unprofitable to the astute Pizarro, since many of Alvarado's men had remained in Peru to throw in their lot with him.