Page images
[blocks in formation]


[Continued.] The state of South America, during her colonial relations to Spain, next demands attention. The conquerors of this vast territory, who settled within its limits, were exceedingly few. The European emi. gration to it in no subsequent period was large ; and such were the moral and physical circumstances of the community that its natural increase was far less than the salubrity of the climate would have indicated. And so dreadful was the havoc of human life in the abori. ginal nations that the descendants of their conquerors have not yet in three centuries swelled to their original number.

To form a just estimate of the intellectual and moral state of South America while under the Spanish yoke, we must glance at the cha. racter of the first Spanish inhabitants—at the policy of the parent state—and at the means adopted to make that system effective. Those who emigrated from Spain to the new world were, in general, men neither of family, fortune, nor education. If we except the viceroys, their staffs, the judges, the land and naval officers, there were none that had the least pretensions to gentlemanly deportment or good edu. cation. They were bands of fortune-hunters, few of whom had ever ascended to the middle walks of life in the country they left; and as they were without liberal feelings, extensive views, and enlightened principles in the land of their nativity, they could not import them to the land of their adoption. Pizarro, the famous conqueror of the most densely peopled portion of South America, was almost totally igno. rant of letters. This is also true of most of his coadjutors, and of the great mass of his barbarous followers. The fierce and unpolished character of those hardy adventurers, who invaded the incarial domi. nions, was exhibited in their mutual feuds and bloodshed before their common enemy was subdued. Of these we shall find the most deplo. rable evidence in an abstract from the early history of Peru.

After Pizarro had conquered the forces of the inca, and taken Cusco, his capital, he sent forces under his brother to subdue other

VOL. XI.-Jan., 1840. 1


provinces. This reduced the garrison to one hundred and seventy

Around these gathered more than two hundred thousand natives, with an intention to overpower and crush them.

The garrison resisted this flood for nine months; and, when on the very point of being overwhelmed by that constantly accumulating mass, Almagro, another Spanish leader, made his appearance near the garrison.

So hostile was he to his despairing brethren that the Indians for some time expected his assistance. When their success with him became doubtful, they suddenly attacked him ; but he had no sooner dread. fully routed them, than he turned his arms against the forces of Pizarro, and was equally successful against the well-disciplined Spaniards. Shortly after the conqueror of Peru met in bloody conflict the forces of Almagro, triumphed over them, and, after a mock trial of their leader, put that brave man to an ignominious death. The family and friends of Almagro never rested till their hands were im. brued in the blood of Pizarro. The son of the former was then placed at the head of the government, where he sustained himself but for a short period before the arrival from Spain of Vaca de Castro. This officer, having been appointed to tranquilize the tumultuous and contending partisans in the new world, and to assume the government of Peru, landed at Quito, (1542.) Before he reached Cusco he met the young Almagro, at the head of all his best forces. The battle was dreadful. Though the force on both sides was small, of the fourteen hundred who fought one thousand were left bleeding on the field.' The lately arrived governor triumphed. Almagro and forty of his partisans were put to death, and many others for ever banished.

By these terrible movements the torch of civil conflict was extinguished but for a brief period; it was soon rekindled by the brother of the deceased Pizarro, to blaze with a more fearful glare. This chief collected and arrayed the party opposed to the governor, met him in the field, and in a bloody action crushed his power.

After the Spaniards, in many similar struggles, had alternately been each other's murderers and victims, the crown of Spain sent Padro de la Gasca, with unlimited power, to establish order in this distracted community. This great man, whose movements were marked with no less prudence than vigor, found scope here for all his amazing energies. He first addressed himself to those noble prin. ciples which are the bond and bliss of the social system, but found in that rude mass little susceptibility of the legitimate emotions he would raise. Finally, he found himself coerced, by the force of circumstances, either ignominiously to abandon his public charge, or meet his reckless countrymen in the field of blood. For the latter he accordingly prepared, though with the greatest reluctance. Pizarro led the opposing force; but no sooner were the armies in array for conflict than several of his ablest officers and bravest troops galloped over to Gasca. This decided the otherwise dubious fate of the day, 80 that all the enemies of Gasca fell into his hands. This prosperous result, however, effected no change in the noble mind of this true pa. triot.

The same moderation which graced his movements when his enemies were the majority shed its mild light on all his public acts when their power was annihilated. He pardoned all his enemies whose existence was not inconsistent with the tranquillity of the state,


so that none perished but Pizarro and a few of his obstinate adhe. rents.

The bloody picture of the first European society here drawn on this epitomized page is a terrible index to its mental and moral character. This semi-barbarous character of these first Spanish settlers transfused through the successive generations of their descendants a most malign influence.

By adverting to the policy of the parent state toward these colo. nies, we shall see how exactly it was adapted to perpetuate and aug. ment that influence :

It was the policy of Spain to shut out from South America every kind of knowledge incompatible with blind obedience to foreign sway. An historian of considerable respectability, Mr. Zavala, has enumerated the six following particulars as characteristics of the colonial system: 1. Terror, inspired by the immediate punishment of the slightest symptoms of dissatisfaction, without the least opportunity of inquiring for what reason, or by what hand the blow was inflicted. 2. Deep ignorance, which shut out from the public mind whatever the govern. ment deemed inexpedient for it to know. 3. A religious education, which inculcated the most degrading superstition. 4. The strictest seclusion from all foreign intercourse which might improve the colo. nies in their civil, religious, or commercial knowledge. 5. The most domineering system of monopoly, extending to land, offices, and com.

6. A standing army, not for the defence of the people which supported it, but to awe them into acquiescence in whatever might be the royal pleasure.

That there were many universities, colleges, seminaries, and schools in South America is sufficiently notorious. And the existence of many of these, from a very early period of European settlement here, may seem to refute the above allegations against the crown of Spain. But when the purposes are known for which these institutions were established, their existence will give to these allegations the most ample support. Though these seats of learning were founded on the same general plan of those in the parent state, they were encumbered with restrictions originating in the narrow policy of a foreign despot. The branches taught in the highest of these institutions were the theology of the Catholic Church, the philosophy of the schools, the ancient code of Roman laws, and Spanish jurisprudence. This course of studies was not merely defective in the branches it included, but directly blighting to the noblest powers of genius. These institutions only professed to make lawyers and theologians. Medicine was committed to less learned hands; and the art of surgery, important as it is, was almost totally unknown. The sciences of chimistry, mathe. matics, and natural philosophy, as taught in our best-regulated insti. tutions, were not only neglected as useless, but absolutely prohibited as dangerous to the state. It was the policy of Spain to array the study of theology in the most powerful attractives; for such is Romanism, that it would not only never interfere with the plans of the crown, but would give to these plans the greatest stability and efficiency. Nor could the Spanish power have been shaken in South America had the priesthood remained faithful to their transatlantic sovereign.

But the very means to which the crown resorted to secure that fide. lity contributed most to annihilate it. Spain took care to fill the most lucrative and authoritative offices in the church by dignitaries from home, or by such as were connected by the strongest ties to the parent state. The curates and friars foresaw that these dignitaries would adhere to the royal cause in the event of a struggle; that this would displace them from their seats, and leave them vacant for the lower orders in the sacred office. The most active movers in the revolution perceived and encouraged this ambition in the clerical orders. Their eagerness to rise to offices of profit in the state, and to seats of honor in the ehurch, blinded them to the dreadful reaction which was at the door. It prevented their foreseeing that it was in the very nature of those revolutionary principles, whieh would shake the highest authorities of their church, to continue their operation till they had laid their own power in the dust. But though this deep-laid scheme of the lord of the Indies" issued in subverting the political superstructure to which it tended to give stability, it did this only by the force of remarkably coneurring event

So far as the highest institutions of the land could exert an agency in imbuing the whole mass of educated mind with the principles of absolute submission to despotic sway, so far the system of South American education gave durability to slavery. But, not content with thus cramping genius by confining it to the learned trifles and ex. ploded superstition of the darkest ages of the world, the civil authority was ever ready to concur with the Inquisition, where that court was established, to extend the list of prohibited books, till this catalogue of interdicted authors swept aside some of the finest political and religious works in the English language.

Hence the amazing sway of ignorance and prejudice over this people during the lapse of three of the brightest centuries that ever rolled over the world. A late writer observes, “ that the reformers of South American education, who nobly stepped forward after the revolution to remodel the ancient system, found the colleges and universities cen. turies behind such institutions in other parts of the enlightened world ; that the natural sciences, which are the noblest monuments of gifted minds, were scarcely glanced at in them; that the intricate and delusive dialectics of the schoolmen occupied the most improvable period of the student's course; and that so few were the branches to be learned, and so barren the books placed before the learner, that it is impossible to imagine how effectually several years of intellectual labor could be thrown away! The deep-rooted and wide-spread prejudice which has long existed in Spain against female education was strengthened in South America by the system of Spanish policy toward this continent. Not even the elements of what deserves to be called an education were allowed to women, The small degree of tuition afforded to some in the most favored allotments was given under circumstances highly deleterious to the purposes of life. The school. houses were convents, and the teachers were nuns. In this dismal sepulchre of immured fanatics it was impossible the pupils should not become imbued with the mysterious spirit of the cloister.

Such an education, tinged with this ghostly spirit, instead of furnishing qualifications for the active duties of life, in the responsible relations of sisters, wives, and mothers, tended to blunt the suscepti. bilities, paralyze the energies, and deaden the sympathies of nature. Though such an education is obviously at war with every social rela. tion in life, it is impossible to conceive the extent of its blighting influence where it has obtained for centuries, without personal observation. Those who have here witnessed its actual developments in real life have felt that the most thrilling descriptions of the master minds of the age have not furnished a too highly wrought picture of the im. portance of a good female education.

But such a one as was allowed to young ladies in these colonies was admirably adapted to the policy of their sovereign. In all parts of Spanish America the system of Romanism was an object on which the eye of government was immutably fixed. Churches and chapels were erected, in the very infancy of society, in that massive and imposing style which had been common in the Catholic states of Europe. And among the first public buildings which arose on the southern continent were the hermitages, convents, and seminaries, which were located in the midst of the

most beautiful and romantic scenery with which the new world is adorned. The pope exercised his spiritual jurisdiction through the crown of Spain, and from the parent state furnished America with the most ample supply of all grades of eccle. siastics. The colonies soon supplied themselves with the lower orders, but continued up to the revolution to receive from Europe their bishops and higher dignitaries.

In all seats of learning, and at every post of office, the Catholic religion was guarded with a no less vigilant circumspection than the rights of the crown. Indeed, the diffusion of Christianity was repeatedly avowed as the paramount object both of the conquest of these countries, and the continued control over the colonies. That this pretension was contemporaneous with the first invasion of South America the slightest reference to the movements of Pizarro will clearly de. monstrate.

When Pizarro and Almagro entered on the execution of the purpose they had formed to explore and conquer a portion of the new world, they took with them Luque, a priest. After (in 1524) they had sailed from Panama, with one hundred and twelve men, they discovered Chili ; met with various delays and reverses, and came to Peru; the glittering white in which the natives were clad, the gold and silver orna. ments and utensils which they displayed, so enraptured the vision of these adventurers that they determined on a speedy invasion. This they accomplished in their second expedition, which was made with three vessels. When they had again reached Peru, they found it at war with Quito. Atahualpa, the reigning inca of Peru, sent messen. gers to Pizarro to obtain his assistance against the enemy of Peru. The Spanish adventurer seized on this proposal with the greatest avidity, and hastened to the interior, where the inca and his troops were encamped. Pizarro first sent to Atahualpa, informing him that he was an ambassador, sent by a powerful sovereign from beyond the ocean, to assist him against his enemies. The inca approached the Spaniards with all the ceremony and pomp of eastern royalty. Seated on his throne, which was adorned with gold, purple, and the richest plumage, he was borne by four of his officers, preceded by four hun.

« PreviousContinue »