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The History Of The Conquest Of Peru by William H. Prescott

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Parte 1 lib. 5, cap. 11.]

The like course was pursued with reference to the other
requisitions of the government. All the mines in the kingdom
belonged to the Inca. They were wrought exclusively for his
benefit, by persons familiar with this service, and selected from
the districts where the mines were situated. *23 Every Peruvian
of the lower class was a husbandman, and, with the exception of
those already specified, was expected to provide for his own
support by the cultivation of his land. A small portion of the
community, however, was instructed in mechanical arts; some of
them of the more elegant kind, subservient to the purposes of
luxury and ornament. The demand for these was chiefly limited to
the sovereign and his Court; but the labor of a larger number of
hands was exacted for the execution of the great public works
which covered the land. The nature and amount of the services
required were all determined at Cuzco by commissioners well
instructed in the resources of the country, and in the character
of the inhabitants of different provinces. *24

[Footnote 23: Garcilasso would have us believe that the Inca was
indebted to the curacas for his gold and silver, which were
furnished by the great vassals as presents. (Com. Real., Parte
1, lib. 5, cap. 7.) This improbable statement is contradicted by
the Report of the Royal Audience, Ms., by Sarmiento, (Relacion,
Ms., cap. 15,) and by Ondegardo, (Rel. Prim., Ms.) who all speak
of the mines as the property of the government, and wrought
exclusively for its benefit. From this reservoir the proceeds
were liberally dispensed in the form of presents among the great
lords, and still more for the embellishment of the temples.]

[Footnote 24: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 13 -
16. - Ondegardo, Rel. Prim. et Seg., Mss.]

This information was obtained by an admirable regulation, which
has scarcely a counterpart in the annals of a semi-civilized
people. A register was kept of all the births and deaths
throughout the country, and exact returns of the actual
population were made to government every year, by means of the
quipus, a curious invention, which will be explained hereafter.
*25 At certain intervals, also, a general survey of the country
was made, exhibiting a complete view of the character of the
soil, its fertility, the nature of its products, both
agricultural and mineral, - in short, of all that constituted the
physical resources of the empire. *26 Furnished with these
statistical details, it was easy for the government, after
determining the amount of requisitions, to distribute the work
among the respective provinces best qualified to execute it. The
task of apportioning the labor was assigned to the local
authorities, and great care was taken that it should be done in
such a manner, that, while the most competent hands were
selected, it should not fall disproportionately heavy on any. *27

[Footnote 25: Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6. -
Pedro Pizarro, Relacion del Descubrimiento y Conquista de los
Reynos del Peru, Ms.

"Cada provincia, en fin del ano, mandava asentar en los quipos,
por la cuenta de sus nudos, todos los hombres que habian muerto
en ella en aquel ano, y por el consiguiente los que habian
nacido, y por principio del ano que entraba, venian con los
quipos al Cuzco." Sarmiento, Relacion Ms., cap. 16.]

[Footnote 26: Garcilasso, Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 14.]

[Footnote 27: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Sarmiento, Rel., Ms.,
cap. 15.

"Presupuesta y entendida la dicha division que el Inga tenia
hecha de su gente, y orden que tenia puesta en el govierno de
ella, era muy facil haverla en la division y cobranza de los
dichos tributos; porque era claro y cierto lo que a cada uno
cabia sin que hubiese desigualdad ni engano." Dec. de la Aud.
Real., Ms.]

The different provinces of the country furnished persons
peculiarly suited to different employments, which, as we shall
see hereafter, usually descended from father to son. Thus, one
district supplied those most skilled in working the mines,
another the most curious workers in metals, or in wood, and so
on. *28 The artisan was provided by government with the
materials; and no one was required to give more than a stipulated
portion of his time to the public service. He was then succeeded
by another for the like term; and it should be observed, that all
who were engaged in the employment of the government - and the
remark applies equally to agricultural labor - were maintained,
for the time, at the public expense. *29 By this constant
rotation of labor, it was intended that no one should be
overburdened, and that each man should have time to provide for
the demands of his own household. It was impossible - in the
judgment of a high Spanish authority - to improve on the system
of distribution, so carefully was it accommodated to the
condition and comfort of the artisan. *30 The security of the
working classes seems to have been ever kept in view in the
regulations of the government; and these were so discreetly
arranged, that the most wearing and unwholesome labors, as those
of the mines, occasioned no detriment to the health of the
laborer; a striking contrast to his subsequent condition under
the Spanish rule. *31

[Footnote 28: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 15. - Ondegardo,
Rel. Seg., Ms.]

[Footnote 29: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 5.]

[Footnote 30: "Y tambien se tenia cuenta que el trabajo que
pasavan fuese moderado, y con el menos riesgo que fuese posible.
. . . . . . Era tanta la orden que tuvieron estos Indios, que a
mi parecer aunque mucho se piense en ello Seria dificultoso
mejorarla conocida su condicion y costumbres." Ondegardo, Rel.
Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 31: "The working of the mines," says the President of
the Council of the Indies, "was so regulated that no one felt it
a hardship, much less was his life shortened by it." (Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 15) It is a frank admission for a Spaniard.]

A part of the agricultural produce and manufactures was
transported to Cuzco, to minister to the immediate demands of the
Inca and his Court. But far the greater part was stored in
magazines scattered over the different provinces. These spacious
buildings, constructed of stone, were divided between the Sun and
the Inca, though the greater share seems to have been
appropriated by the monarch. By a wise regulation, any
deficiency in the contributions of the Inca might be supplied
from the granaries of the Sun. *32 But such a necessity could
rarely have happened; and the providence of the government
usually left a large surplus in the royal depositories, which was
removed to a third class of magazines, whose design was to supply
the people in seasons of scarcity, and, occasionally, to furnish
relief to individuals, whom sickness or misfortune had reduced to
poverty; thus, in a manner, justifying the assertion of a
Castilian document, that a large portion of the revenues of the
Inca found its way back again, through one channel or another,
into the hands of the people. *33 These magazines were found by
the Spaniards, on their arrival, stored with all the various
products and manufactures of the country, - with maize, coca,
quinua, woollen and cotton stuffs of the finest quality, with
vases and utensils of gold, silver, and copper, in short, with
every article of luxury or use within the compass of Peruvian
skill. *34 The magazines of grain, in particular, would
frequently have sufficed for the consumption of the adjoining
district for several years. *35 An inventory of the various
products of the country, and the quarters whence they were
obtained, was every year taken by the royal officers, and
recorded by the quipucamayus on their registers, with surprising
regularity and precision. These registers were transmitted to the
capital, and submitted to the Inca, who could thus at a glance,
as it were, embrace the whole results of the national industry,
and see how far they corresponded with the requisitions of
government. *36

[Footnote 32: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 34. -
Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

"E asi esta parte del Inga no hay duda sino que de todas tres era
la mayor, y en los depositos se parece bien que yo visite muchos
en diferentes partes, e son mayores e mas largos que no los de su
religion sin comparasion." Idem, Rel. Seg., Ms.]

[Footnote 33: "Todos los dichos tributos y servicios que el Inga
imponia y llevaba como dicho es eran con color y para efecto del
govierno y pro comun de todos asi como lo que se ponia en
depositos todo se combertia y distribuia entre los mismos
naturales." Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

[Footnote 34: Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 15.

"No podre decir," says one of the Conquerors, "los depositos.
Vide de rropas y de todos generos de rropas y vestidos que en
este reino se hacian y vsavan que faltava tiempo para vello y
entendimiento para comprender tanta cosa, muchos depositos de
barretas de cobre para las minas y de costales y sogas de vasos
de palo y platos del oro y plata que aqui se hallo hera cosa
despanto." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]

[Footnote 35: For ten years, sometimes, if we may credit
Ondegardo, who had every means of knowing. "E ansi cuando no era
menester se estaba en los depositos e habia algunas vezes comida
de diez anos. . . . . . Los cuales todos se hallaron Ilenos
cuando Ilegaron los Espanoles desto y de todas las cosas
necesarias para la vida humana" Rel. Seg., Ms.]

[Footnote 36: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

"Por tanta orden e cuenta que seria dificultoso creerlo ni darlo
a entender como ellos lo tienen en su cuenta e por registros e
por menudo lo manifestaron que se pudiera por estenso." Idem,
Rel. Seg., Ms.]
Such are some of the most remarkable features of the Peruvian
institutions relating to property, as delineated by writers who,
however contradictory in the details, have a general conformity
of outline. These institutions are certainly so remarkable, that
it is hardly credible they should ever have been enforced
throughout a great empire, and for a long period of years. Yet
we have the most unequivocal testimony to the fact from the
Spaniards, who landed in Peru in time to witness their operation;
some of whom, men of high judicial station and character, were
commissioned by the government to make investigations into the
state of the country under its ancient rulers.

The impositions on the Peruvian people seem to have been
sufficiently heavy. On them rested the whole burden of
maintaining, not only their own order, but every other order in
the state. The members of the royal house, the great nobles,
even the public functionaries, and the numerous body of the
priesthood, were all exempt from taxation. *37 The whole duty of
defraying the expenses of the government belonged to the people.
Yet this was not materially different from the condition of
things formerly existing in most parts of Europe, where the
various privileged classes claimed exemption - not always with
success, indeed - from bearing part of the public burdens. The
great hardship in the case of the Peruvian was, that he could not
better his condition. His labors were for others, rather than
for himself. However industrious, he could not add a rood to his
own possessions, nor advance himself one hair's breadth in the
social scale. The great and universal motive to honest industry,
that of bettering one's lot, was lost upon him. The great law of
human progress was not for him. As he was born, so he was to
die. Even his time he could not properly call his own. Without
money, with little property of any kind, he paid his taxes in
labor. *38 No wonder that the government should have dealt with
sloth as a crime. It was a crime against the state, and to be
wasteful of time was, in a manner, to rob the exchequer. The
Peruvian, laboring all his life for others, might be compared to
the convict in a treadmill, going the same dull round of
incessant toil, with the consciousness, that, however profitable
the results to the state, they were nothing to him.

[Footnote 37: Garcilasso. Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 15.]

[Footnote 38: "Solo el trabajo de las personas era el tributo que
se dava, porque ellos no poseian otra cosa." Ondegardo, Rel.
Prim., Ms.]
But this is the dark side of the picture. If no man could become
rich in Peru, no man could become poor. No spendthrift could
waste his substance in riotous luxury. No adventurous schemer
could impoverish his family by the spirit of speculation. The
law was constantly directed to enforce a steady industry and a
sober management of his affairs. No mendicant was tolerated in
Peru. When a man was reduced by poverty or misfortune, (it could
hardly be by fault,) the arm of the law was stretched out to
minister relief; not the stinted relief of private charity, nor
that which is doled out, drop by drop, as it were, from the
frozen reservoirs of "the parish," but in generous measure,
bringing no humiliation to the object of it, and placing him on a
level with the rest of his countrymen. *39

[Footnote 39: "Era tanta la orden que tenia en todos sus Reinos y
provincias, que no consentia haver ningun Indio pobre ni
menesteroso, porque havia orden i formas para ello sin que los
pueblos reciviesen vexacion ni molestia, porque el Inga lo suplia
de sus tributos." (Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.) The Licentiate
Ondegardo sees only a device of Satan in these provisions of the
Peruvian law, by which the old, the infirm, and the poor were
rendered, in a manner, independent of their children, and those
nearest of kin, on whom they would naturally have leaned for
support; no surer way to harden the heart, he considers, than by
thus disengaging it from the sympathies of humanity; and no
circumstance has done more, he concludes, to counteract the
influence and spread of Christianity among the natives. (Rel.
Seg., Ms.) The views are ingenious, but, in a country where the
people had no property, as in Peru, there would seem to be no
alternative for the supernumeraries, but to receive support from
government or to starve.]

No man could be rich, no man could be poor, in Peru; but all
might enjoy, and did enjoy, a competence. Ambition, avarice, the
love of change, the morbid spirit of discontent, those passions
which most agitate the minds of men, found no place in the bosom
of the Peruvian. The very condition of his being seemed to be at
war with change. He moved on in the same unbroken circle in
which his fathers had moved before him, and in which his children
were to follow. It was the object of the Incas to infuse into
their subjects a spirit of passive obedience and tranquillity, -
a perfect acquiescence in the established order of things. In
this they fully succeeded. The Spaniards who first visited the
country are emphatic in their testimony, that no government could
have been better suited to the genius of the people; and no
people could have appeared more contented with their lot, or more
devoted to their government. *40

[Footnote 40: Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 12, 15. - Sarmiento, Relacion,
Ms., cap. 10]

Those who may distrust the accounts of Peruvian industry will
find their doubts removed on a visit to the country. The
traveller still meets, especially in the central regions of the
table-land, with memorials of the past, remains of temples,
palaces, fortresses, terraced mountains, great military roads,
aqueducts, and other public works, which, whatever degree of
science they may display in their execution, astonish him by
their number, the massive character of the materials, and the
grandeur of the design. Among them, perhaps the most remarkable
are the great roads, the broken remains of which are still in
sufficient preservation to attest their former magnificence.
There were many of these roads, traversing different parts of the
kingdom; but the most considerable were the two which extended
from Quito to Cuzco, and, again diverging from the capital,
continued in a southern direction towards Chili.

One of these roads passed over the grand plateau, and the other
along the lowlands on the borders of the ocean. The former was
much the more difficult achievement, from the character of the
country. It was conducted over pathless sierras buried in snow;
galleries were cut for leagues through the living rock; rivers
were crossed by means of bridges that swung suspended in the air;
precipices were scaled by stairways hewn out of the native bed;
ravines of hideous depth were filled up with solid masonry; in
short, all the difficulties that beset a wild and mountainous
region, and which might appall the most courageous engineer of
modern times, were encountered and successfully overcome. The
length of the road, of which scattered fragments only remain, is
variously estimated, from fifteen hundred to two thousand miles;
and stone pillars, in the manner of European milestones, were
erected at stated intervals of somewhat more than a league, all
along the route. Its breadth scarcely exceeded twenty feet. *41
It was built of heavy flags of freestone, and in some parts, at
least, covered with a bituminous cement, which time has made
harder than the stone itself. In some places, where the ravines
had been filled up with masonry, the mountain torrents, wearing
on it for ages, have gradually eaten a way through the base, and
left the superincumbent mass - such is the cohesion of the
materials - still spanning the valley like an arch! *42

[Footnote 41: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.

"Este camino hecho por valles ondos y por sierras altas, por
montes de nieve, por tremedales de agua y por pena viva y junto a
rios furiosos por estas partes y ballano y empedrado por las
laderas, bien sacado por las sierras, deshechado, por las penas
socavado, por junto a los Rios sus paredes, entre nieves con
escalones y descanso, por todas partes limpio barrido
descombrado, lleno de aposentos, de depositos de tesoros, de
Templos del Sol, de Postas que havia en este camino." Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 60.]

[Footnote 42: "On avait comble les vides et les ravins par de
grandes masses de maconnerie. Les torrents qui descendent des
hauteurs apres des pluies abondantes, avaient creuse les endroits
les moins solides, et s'etaient fraye une voie sous le chemin, le
laissant ainsi suspendu en l'air comme un pont fait d'une seule
piece." (Velasco, Hist. de Quito, tom. l. p. 206.) This writer
speaks from personal observation, having examined and measured
different parts of the road, in the latter part of the road, in
the latter part of the last century. The Spanish scholar will
find in Appendix, No. 2., an animated description of this
magnificent work, and of the obstacles encountered in the
execution of it, in a passage borrowed from Sarmiento, who saw it
in the days of the Incas.]

Over some of the boldest streams it was necessary to construct
suspension bridges, as they are termed, made of the tough fibres
of the maguey, or of the osier of the country, which has an
extraordinary degree of tenacity and strength. These osiers were
woven into cables of the thickness of a man's body. The huge
ropes, then stretched across the water, were conducted through
rings or holes cut in immense buttresses of stone raised on the
opposite banks of the river, and there secured to heavy pieces of
timber. Several of these enormous cables, bound together, formed
a bridge, which, covered with planks, well secured and defended
by a railing of the same osier materials on the sides, afforded a
safe passage for the traveller. The length of this aerial bridge,
sometimes exceeding two hundred feet, caused it, confined, as it
was, only at the extremities, to dip with an alarming inclination
towards the centre, while the motion given to it by the passenger
occasioned an oscillation still more frightful, as his eye
wandered over the dark abyss of waters that foamed and tumbled
many a fathom beneath. Yet these light and fragile fabrics were
crossed without fear by the Peruvians, and are still retained by
the Spaniards over those streams which, from the depth or
impetuosity of the current, would seem impracticable for the
usual modes of conveyance. The wider and more tranquil waters
were crossed on balsas - a kind of raft still much used by the
natives - to which sails were attached, furnishing the only
instance of this higher kind of navigation among the American
Indians. *43

[Footnote 43: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 7.
A particular account of these bridges, as they are still to be
seen in different parts of Peru, may be found in Humboldt. (Vues
des Cordilleres, p. 230, et seq.) The balsas are described with
equal minuteness by Stevenson. Residence in America, vol. II. p.
222. et seq.]

The other great road of the Incas lay through the level country
between the Andes and the ocean. It was constructed in a
different manner, as demanded by the nature of the ground, which
was for the most part low, and much of it sandy. The causeway
was raised on a high embankment of earth, and defended on either
side by a parapet or wall of clay; and trees and odoriferous
shrubs were planted along the margin, regaling the sense of the
traveller with their perfumes, and refreshing him by their
shades, so grateful under the burning sky of the tropics. In the
strips of sandy waste, which occasionally intervened, where the
light and volatile soil was incapable of sustaining a road, huge
piles, many of them to be seen at this day, were driven into the
ground to indicate the route to the traveller. *44

[Footnote 44: Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 60. - Relacion del
Primer Descubrimiento de la Costa y Mar del Sur, Ms.

This anonymous document of one of the early Conquerors contains a
minute and probably trustworthy account of both the high roads,
which the writer saw in their glory, and which he ranks among the
greatest wonders of the world.]

All along these highways, caravansaries, or tambos, as they were
called, were erected, at the distance of ten or twelve miles from
each other, for the accommodation, more particularly, of the Inca
and his suite, and those who journeyed on the public business.
There were few other travellers in Peru. Some of these buildings
were on an extensive scale, consisting of a fortress, barracks,
and other military works, surrounded by a parapet of stone, and
covering a large tract of ground. These were evidently destined
for the accommodation of the imperial armies, when on their march
across the country. - The care of the great roads was committed
to the districts through which they passed, and a large number of
hands was constantly employed under the Incas to keep them in
repair. This was the more easily done in a country where the
mode of travelling was altogether on foot; though the roads are
said to have been so nicely constructed, that a carriage might
have rolled over them as securely as on any of the great roads of
Europe. *45 Still, in a region where the elements of fire and
water are both actively at work in the business of destruction,
they must, without constant supervision, have gradually gone to
decay. Such has been their fate under the Spanish conquerors,
who took no care to enforce the admirable system for their
preservation adopted by the Incas. Yet the broken portions that
still survive, here and there, like the fragments of the great
Roman roads scattered over Europe, bear evidence to their
primitive grandeur, and have drawn forth the eulogium from a
discriminating traveller, usually not too profuse in his
panegyric, that "the roads of the Incas were among the most
useful and stupendous works ever executed by man." *46

[Footnote 45: Relacion del Primer Descub., Ms. - Cieza de Leon,
Cronica, cap. 37. - Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 11. -
Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 9, cap. 13.]

[Footnote 46: "Cette chaussee, bordee de grandes pierres de
taille, puet etre comparee aux plus belles routes des Romains que
j'aie vues en Italie, en France et en Espagne . . . . . . Le
grand chemin de l'Inca, un des ouvrages les plus utiles, et en
meme temps des plus gigantesques que les hommes aient execute."
Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, p. 294.]

The system of communication through their dominions was still
further improved by the Peruvian sovereigns, by the introduction
of posts, in the same manner as was done by the Aztecs. The
Peruvian posts, however, established on all the great routes that
conducted to the capital, were on a much more extended plan than
those in Mexico. All along these routes, small buildings were
erected, at the distance of less than five miles asunder, *47 in
each of which a number of runners, or chasquis, as they were
called, were stationed to carry forward the despatches of
government. *48 These despatches were either verbal, or conveyed
by means of quipus, and sometimes accompanied by a thread of the
crimson fringe worn round the temples of the Inca, which was
regarded with the same implicit deference as the signet ring of
an Oriental despot. *49

[Footnote 47: The distance between the posthouses is variously
stated; most writers not estimating it at more than three fourths
of a league. I have preferred the authority of Ondegardo, who
usually writes with more conscientiousness and knowledge of his
ground than most of his contemporaries.]

[Footnote 48: The term chasqui, according to Montesinos,
signifies "one that receives a thing." (Me. Antiguas, Ms., cap.
7) But Garcilasso, a better authority for his own tongue, says it
meant "one who makes an exchange." Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6,
cap. 8.]

[Footnote 49: "Con vn hilo de esta Borla, entregado a uno de
aquellos Orejones, governaban la Tierra, i proveian lo que
querian con maior obediencia, que en ninguna Provincia del Mundo
se ha visto tener a las Provissiones de su Rei." Zarate, Conq.
del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 9.]

The chasquis were dressed in a peculiar livery, intimating their
profession. They were all trained to the employment, and
selected for their speed and fidelity. As the distance each
courier had to perform was small, and as he had ample time to
refresh himself at the stations, they ran over the ground with
great swiftness, and messages were carried through the whole
extent of the long routes, at the rate of a hundred and fifty
miles a day. The office of the chasquis was not limited to
carrying despatches. They frequently brought various articles
for the use of the Court; and in this way, fish from the distant
ocean, fruits, game, and different commodities from the hot
regions on the coast, were taken to the capital in good
condition, and served fresh at the royal table. *50 It is
remarkable that this important institution should have been known
to both the Mexicans and the Peruvians without any correspondence
with one another; and that it should have been found among two
barbarian nations of the New World, long before it was introduced
among the civilized nations of Europe. *51

[Footnote 50: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 18. - Dec. de la
Aud. Real., Ms.

If we may trust Montesinos, the royal table was served with fish,
taken a hundred leagues from the capital, in twenty-four hours
after it was drawn from the ocean! (Men. Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2,
cap. 7.) This is rather too expeditious for any thing but

[Footnote 51: The institution of the Peruvian posts seems to have
made a great impression on the minds of the Spaniards who first
visited the country; and ample notices of it may be found in
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 15. - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. -
Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 5. - Conq. i
Pob. del Piru, Ms., et auct. plurimis.

The establishment of posts is of old date among the Chinese, and,
probably, still older among the Persians. (See Herodotus, Hist.,
Urania, sec. 98.) It is singular, that an invention designed for
the uses of a despotic government should have received its full
application only under a free one. For in it we have the germ of
that beautiful system of intercommunication, which binds all the
nations of Christendom together as one vast commonwealth.]
By these wise contrivances of the Incas, the most distant parts
of the long-extended empire of Peru were brought into intimate
relations with each other. And while the capitals of
Christendom, but a few hundred miles apart, remained as far
asunder as if seas had rolled between them, the great capitals
Cuzco and Quito were placed by the high roads of the Incas in
immediate correspondence. Intelligence from the numerous
provinces was transmitted on the wings of the wind to the
Peruvian metropolis, the great focus to which all the lines of
communication converged. Not an insurrectionary movement could
occur, not an invasion on the remotest frontier, before the
tidings were conveyed to the capital, and the imperial armies
were on their march across the magnificent roads of the country
to suppress it. So admirable was the machinery contrived by the
American despots for maintaining tranquillity throughout their
dominions! It may remind us of the similar institutions of
ancient Rome, when, under the Caesars, she was mistress of half
the world.

A principal design of the great roads was to serve the purposes
of military communication. It formed an important item of their
military policy, which is quite as well worth studying as their

Notwithstanding the pacific professions of the Incas, and the
pacific tendency, indeed, of their domestic institutions, they
were constantly at war. It was by war that their paltry territory
had been gradually enlarged to a powerful empire. When this was
achieved, the capital, safe in its central position, was no
longer shaken by these military movements, and the country
enjoyed, in a great degree, the blessings of tranquillity and
order. But, however tranquil at heart, there is not a reign upon
record in which the nation was not engaged in war against the
barbarous nations on the frontier. Religion furnished a plausible
pretext for incessant aggression, and disguised the lust of
conquest in the Incas, probably, from their own eyes, as well as
from those of their subjects. Like the followers of Mahomet,
bearing the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, the
Incas of Peru offered no alternative but the worship of the Sun
or war.

It is true, their fanaticism - or their policy - showed itself in
a milder form than was found in the descendants of the Prophet.
Like the great luminary which they adored, they operated by
gentleness more potent than violence. *52 They sought to soften
the hearts of the rude tribes around them, and melt them by acts
of condescension and kindness. Far from provoking hostilities,
they allowed time for the salutary example of their own
institutions to work its effect, trusting that their less
civilized neighbours would submit to their sceptre, from a
conviction of the blessings it would secure to them. When this
course failed, they employed other measures, but still of a
pacific character; and endeavoured by negotiation, by
conciliatory treatment, and by presents to the leading men, to
win them over to their dominion. In short, they practised all
the arts familiar to the most subtle politician of a civilized
land to secure the acquisition of empire. When all these
expedients failed, they prepared for war.

[Footnote 52: "Mas se hicieron Senores al za." Ondegardo, Rel.
Prim., principio por mana, que por fuer- Ms.]

Their levies were drawn from all the different provinces; though
from some, where the character of the people was particularly
hardy, more than from others. *53 It seems probable that every
Peruvian, who had reached a certain age, might be called to bear
arms. But the rotation of military service, and the regular
drills, which took place twice or thrice in a month, of the
inhabitants of every village, raised the soldiers generally above
the rank of a raw militia. The Peruvian army, at first
inconsiderable, came, with the increase of population, in the
latter days of the empire, to be very large, so that their
monarchs could bring into the field, as contemporaries assure us,
a force amounting to two hundred thousand men. They showed the
same skill and respect for order in their military organization,
as in other things. The troops were divided into bodies
corresponding with out battalions and companies, led by officers,
that rose, in regular gradation, from the lowest subaltern to the
Inca noble, who was intrusted with the general command. *54

[Footnote 53: Idem, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

[Footnote 54: Gomara, Cronica, cap. 195 - Conq. i Pob. del Piru,

Their arms consisted of the usual weapons employed by nations,
whether civilized or uncivilized, before the invention of powder,
- bows and arrows, lances, darts, a short kind of sword, a
battle-axe or partisan, and slings, with which they were very
expert. Their spears and arrows were tipped with copper, or,
more commonly, with bone, and the weapons of the Inca lords were
frequently mounted with gold or silver. Their heads were
protected by casques made either of wood or of the skins of wild
animals, and sometimes richly decorated with metal and with
precious stones, surmounted by the brilliant plumage of the
tropical birds. These, of course, were the ornaments only of the
higher orders. The great mass of the soldiery were dressed in
the peculiar costume of their provinces, and their heads were
wreathed with a sort of turban or roll of different-colored
cloths, that produced a gay and animating effect. Their
defensive armor consisted of a shield or buckler, and a close
tunic of quilted cotton, in the same manner as with the Mexicans.
Each company had its particular banner, and the imperial
standard, high above all, displayed the glittering device of the
rainbow, - the armorial ensign of the Incas, intimating their
claims as children of the skies. *55

[Footnote 55: Gomara, Cronica, ubi supra. - Sarmiento, Relacion,
Ms., cap. 20. - Velasco, Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp. 176-179.

This last writer gives a minute catalogue of the ancient Peruvian
arms, comprehending nearly every thing familiar to the European
soldier, except fire-arms. - It was judicious in him to omit

By means of the thorough system of communication established in
the country, a short time sufficed to draw the levies together
from the most distant quarters. The army was put under the
direction of some experienced chief, of the blood royal, or, more
frequently, headed by the Inca in person. The march was rapidly
performed, and with little fatigue to the soldier; for, all along
the great routes, quarters were provided for him, at regular
distances, where he could find ample accommodations. The country
is still covered with the remains of military works, constructed
of porphyry or granite, which tradition assures us were designed
to lodge the Inca and his army. *56

[Footnote 56: Zarate, Conq. del Peru, lib. 1, cap. 11. -
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 60.

Condamine speaks of the great number of these fortified places,
scattered over the country between Quito and Lima, which he saw
in his visit to South America in 1737; some of which he has
described with great minuteness. Memoire sur Quelques Anciens
Monumens du Perou, du Tems des Incas, ap. Histoire de l'Academie
Royale des Sciences et de Belles Lettres, (Berlin, 1748,) tom.
II. p. 438.]

At regular intervals, also, magazines were established, filled
with grain, weapons, and the different munitions of war, with
which the army was supplied on its march. It was the especial
care of the government to see that these magazines, which were
furnished from the stores of the Incas, were always well filled.
When the Spaniards invaded the country, they supported their own
armies for a long time on the provisions found in them. *57 The
Peruvian soldier was forbidden to commit any trespass on the
property of the inhabitants whose territory lay in the line of
march. Any violation of this order was punished with death. *58
The soldier was clothed and fed by the industry of the people,
and the Incas rightly resolved that he should not repay this by
violence. Far from being a tax on the labors of the husbandman,
or even a burden on his hospitality, the imperial armies
traversed the country, from one extremity to the other, with as
little inconvenience to the inhabitants, as would be created by a
procession of peaceful burghers, or a muster of holiday soldiers
for a review.

[Footnote 57: "E ansi cuando," says Ondegardo, speaking from his
own personal knowledge, "el Senor Presidente Gasca passo con la
gente de castigo de Gonzalo Pizarro por el valle de Jauja, estuvo
alli siete semanas a lo que me acuerdo, se hallaron en deposito
maiz de cuatro y de tres y de dos anos mas de 15 hanegas junto al
camino, e alli comio la gente, y se entendio que si fuera
menester muchas mas no faltaran en el valle en aquellos
depositos, conforme a la orden antigua, porque a mi cargo estubo
el repartirlas y hacer la cuenta para pagarlas." Rel. Seg., Ms.]

[Footnote 58: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Cieza de
Leon, Cronica, cap. 44. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 14.]

From the moment war was proclaimed, the Peruvian monarch used all
possible expedition in assembling his forces, that he might
anticipate the movements of his enemies, and prevent a
combination with their allies. It was, however, from the neglect
of such a principle of combination, that the several nations of
the country, who might have prevailed by confederated strength,
fell one after another under the imperial yoke. Yet, once in the
field, the Inca did not usually show any disposition to push his
advantages to the utmost, and urge his foe to extremity. In
every stage of the war, he was open to propositions for peace;
and although he sought to reduce his enemies by carrying off
their harvests and distressing them by famine, he allowed his
troops to commit no unnecessary outrage on person or property.
"We must spare our enemies," one of the Peruvian princes is
quoted as saying, "or it will be our loss, since they and all
that belongs to them must soon be ours." *59 It was a wise maxim,
and, like most other wise maxims, founded equally on benevolence
and prudence. The Incas adopted the policy claimed for the
Romans by their countryman, who tells us that they gained more by
clemency to the vanquished than by their victories. *60

[Footnote 59: "Mandabase que en los mantenimientos y casas de los
enemigos se hiciese poco dano, diciendoles el Senor, presto seran
estos nuestros como los que ya lo son; como esto tenian conocido,
procuraban que la guerra fuese la mas liviana que ser pudiese."
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 14.]

[Footnote 60: "Plus pene parcendo victis, quam vincendo imperium
auxisse.' Livy, lib. 30, cap. 42.]

In the same considerate spirit, they were most careful to provide
for the security and comfort of their own troops; and, when a war
was long protracted, or the climate proved unhealthy, they took
care to relieve their men by frequent reinforcements, allowing
the earlier recruits to return to their homes. *61 But while thus
economical of life, both in their own followers and in the enemy,
they did not shrink from sterner measures when provoked by the
ferocious or obstinate character of the resistance; and the
Peruvian annals contain more than one of those sanguinary pages
which cannot be pondered at the present day without a shudder.
It should be added, that the beneficent policy, which I have been
delineating as characteristic of the Incas, did not belong to
all; and that there was more than one of the royal line who
displayed a full measure of the bold and unscrupulous spirit of
the vulgar conqueror.

[Footnote 61: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 18.]
The first step of the government, after the reduction of a
country, was to introduce there the worship of the Sun. Temples
were erected, and placed under the care of a numerous priesthood,
who expounded to the conquered people the mysteries of their new
faith, and dazzled them by the display of its rich and stately
ceremonial. *62 Yet the religion of the conquered was not treated
with dishonor. The Sun was to be worshipped above all; but the
images of their gods were removed to Cuzco and established in one
of the temples, to hold their rank among the inferior deities of
the Peruvian Pantheon. Here they remained as hostages, in some
sort, for the conquered nation, which would be the less inclined
to forsake its allegiance, when by doing so it must leave its own
gods in the hands of its enemies. *63

[Footnote 62: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 14.]

[Footnote 63: Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 12. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 12.]

The Incas provided for the settlement of their new conquests, by
ordering a census to be taken of the population, and a careful
survey to be made of the country, ascertaining its products, and
the character and capacity of its soil. *64 A division of the
territory was then made on the same principle with that adopted
throughout their own kingdom; and their respective portions were
assigned to the Sun, the sovereign, and the people. The amount of
the last was regulated by the amount of the population, but the
share of each individual was uniformly the same. It may seem
strange, that any people should patiently have acquiesced in an
arrangement which involved such a total surrender of property.
But it was a conquered nation that did so, held in awe, on the
least suspicion of meditating resistance, by armed garrisons, who
were established at various commanding points throughout the
country. *65 It is probable, too, that the Incas made no greater
changes than was essential to the new arrangement, and that they
assigned estates, as far as possible, to their former
proprietors. The curacas, in particular, were confirmed in their
ancient authority; or, when it was found expedient to depose the
existing curaca, his rightful heir was allowed to succeed him.
*66 Every respect was shown to the ancient usages and laws of the
land, as far as was compatible with the fundamental institutions
of the Incas. It must also be remembered, that the conquered
tribes were, many of them, too little advanced in civilization to
possess that attachment to the soil which belongs to a cultivated
nation. *67 But, to whatever it be referred, it seems probable
that the extraordinary institutions of the Incas were established
with little opposition in the conquered territories. *68

[Footnote 64: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 13, 14. - Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 15.]

[Footnote 65: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 19.]

[Footnote 66: Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap.

[Footnote 67: Sarmiento has given a very full and interesting
account of the singularly humane policy observed by the Incas in
their conquests, forming a striking contrast with the usual
course of those scourges of mankind, whom mankind are wise enough
to requite with higher admiration, even, than it bestows on its
benefactors. As Sarmiento, who was President of the Royal
Council of the Indies, and came into the country soon after the
Conquest, is a high authority, and as his work, lodged in the
dark recesses of the Escurial, is almost unknown, I have
transferred the whole chapter to Appendix, No. 3.]

[Footnote 68: According to Velasco, even the powerful state of
Quito, sufficiently advanced in civilization to have the law of
property well recognized by its people, admitted the institutions
of the Incas "not only without repugnance, but with joy." (Hist.
de Quito, tom. II. p. 183.) But Velasco, a modern authority,
believed easily, - or reckoned on his readers' doing so.]

Yet the Peruvian sovereigns did not trust altogether to this show
of obedience in their new vassals; and, to secure it more
effectually, they adopted some expedients too remarkable to be
passed by in silence. - Immediately after a recent conquest, the
curacas and their families were removed for a time to Cuzco.
Here they learned the language of the capital, became familiar
with the manners and usages of the court, as well as with the
general policy of government, and experienced such marks of favor
from the sovereign as would be most grateful to their feelings,
and might attach them most warmly to his person. Under the
influence of these sentiments, they were again sent to rule over
their vassals, but still leaving their eldest sons in the
capital, to remain there as a guaranty for their own fidelity, as
well as to grace the court of the Inca. *69

[Footnote 69: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 12;
lib. 7, cap. 2.]

Another expedient was of a bolder and more original character.
This was nothing less than to revolutionize the language of the
country. South America, like North, was broken up into a great
variety of dialects, or rather languages, having little affinity
with one another. This circumstance occasioned great
embarrassment to the government in the administration of the
different provinces, with whose idioms they were unacquainted.
It was determined, therefore, to substitute one universal
language, the Quichua, - the language of the court, the capital,
and the surrounding country, - the richest and most comprehensive
of the South American dialects. Teachers were provided in the
towns and villages throughout the land, who were to give
instruction to all, even the humblest classes; and it was
intimated at the same time, that no one should be raised to any
office of dignity or profit, who was unacquainted with this
tongue. The curacas and other chiefs, who attended at the
capital, became familiar with this dialect in their intercourse
with the Court, and, on their return home, set the example of
conversing in it among themselves. This example was imitated by
their followers, and the Quichua gradually became the language of
elegance and fashion, in the same manner as the Norman French was
affected by all those who aspired to any consideration in
England, after the Conquest. By this means, while each province
retained its peculiar tongue, a beautiful medium of communication
was introduced, which enabled the inhabitants of one part of the
country to hold intercourse with every other, and the Inca and
his deputies to communicate with all. This was the state of
things on the arrival of the Spaniards. It must be admitted,
that history furnishes few examples of more absolute authority
than such a revolution in the language of an empire, at the
bidding of a master. *70

[Footnote 70: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 35; lib. 7, cap. 1, 2.
- Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. - Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 55.

"Aun la Criatura no hubiese dejado el Pecho de su Madre quando le
comenzasen a mostrar la Lengua que havia de saber; y aunque al
principio fue dificultoso, e muchos se pusieron en no quere
deprender mas lenguas de las suyas propias, los Reyes pudieron
tanto que salieron con su intencion y ellos tubieron por bien de
cumplir su mandado y tan de veras se entendio en ello que en
tiempo de pocos anos se savia y usaba una lengua en mas de mil y
doscientas leguas." Ibid., cap. 21.]

Yet little less remarkable was another device of the Incas for
securing the loyalty of their subjects. When any portion of the
recent conquests showed a pertinacious spirit of disaffection, it
was not uncommon to cause a part of the population, amounting, it
might be, to ten thousand inhabitants or more, to remove to a
distant quarter of the kingdom, occupied by ancient vassals of
undoubted fidelity to the crown. A like number of these last was
transplanted to the territory left vacant by the emigrants. By
this exchange, the population was composed of two distinct races,
who regarded each other with an eye of jealousy, that served as
an effectual check on any mutinous proceeding. In time, the
influence of the well-affected prevailed, supported, as they
were, by royal authority, and by the silent working of the
national institutions, to which the strange races became
gradually accustomed. A spirit of loyalty sprang up by degrees
in their bosoms, and, before a generation had passed away, the
different tribes mingled in harmony together as members of the
same community. *71 Yet the different races continued to be
distinguished by difference of dress; since, by the law of the
land, every citizen was required to wear the costume of his
native province. *72 Neither could the colonist, who had been
thus unceremoniously transplanted, return to his native district.
For, by another law, it was forbidden to any one to change his
residence without license. *73 He was settled for life. The
Peruvian government prescribed to every man his local habitation,
his sphere of action, nay, the very nature and quality of that
action. He ceased to be a free agent; it might be almost said,
that it relieved him of personal responsibility.

[Footnote 71: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms. - Fernandez, Hist. del
Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 11.]

[Footnote 72: "This regulation," says Father Acosta, "the Incas
held to be of great importance to the order and right government
of the realm." lib. 6, cap. 16.]

[Footnote 73: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]

In following out this singular arrangement, the Incas showed as
much regard for the comfort and convenience of the colonist as
was compatible with the execution of their design. They were
careful that the mitimaes, as these emigrants were styled, should
be removed to climates most congenial with their own. The
inhabitants of the cold countries were not transplanted to the
warm, nor the inhabitants of the warm countries to the cold. *74
Even their habitual occupations were consulted, and the fisherman
was settled in the neighbourhood of the ocean, or the great
lakes; while such lands were assigned to the husbandman as were
best adapted to the culture with which he was most familiar. *75
And, as migration by many, perhaps by most, would be regarded as
a calamity, the government was careful to show particular marks
of favor to the mitimaes, and, by various privileges and
immunities, to ameliorate their condition, and thus to reconcile
them, if possible, to their lot. *76

[Footnote 74: "Trasmutaban de las tales Provincias la cantidad de
gente de que de ella parecia convenir que saliese, a los cuales
mandaban pasar a poblar otra tierra del temple y manera de donde
salian, si fria fria, si caliente caliente, en donde les daban
tierras, y campos, y casas, tanto, y mas como dejaron."
Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 19.]

[Footnote 75: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 76: The descendants of these mitimaes are still to be
found in Quito, or were so at the close of the last century,
according to Velasco, distinguished by this name from the rest of
the population. Hist. de Quito, tom.l. p. 175.]

The Peruvian institutions, though they may have been modified and
matured under successive sovereigns, all bear the stamp of the
same original, - were all cast in the same mould. The empire,
strengthening and enlarging at every successive epoch of its
history, was, in its latter days, but the development, on a great
scale, of what it was in miniature at its commencement, as the
infant germ is said to contain within itself all the
ramifications of the future monarch of the forest. Each
succeeding Inca seemed desirous only to tread in the path, and
carry out the plans, of his predecessor. Great enterprises,
commenced under one, were continued by another, and completed by
a third. Thus, while all acted on a regular plan, without any of
the eccentric or retrograde movements which betray the agency of
different individuals, the state seemed to be under the direction
of a single hand, and steadily pursued, as if through one long
reign, its great career of civilization and of conquest.

The ultimate aim of its institutions was domestic quiet. But it
seemed as if this were to be obtained only by foreign war.
Tranquillity in the heart of the monarchy, and war on its
borders, was the condition of Peru. By this war it gave
occupation to a part of its people, and, by the reduction and
civilization of its barbarous neighbours, gave security to all.
Every Inca sovereign, however mild and benevolent in his domestic
rule, was a warrior, and led his armies in person. Each
successive reign extended still wider the boundaries of the
empire. Year after year saw the victorious monarch return laden
with spoils, and followed by a throng of tributary chieftains to
his capital. His reception there was a Roman triumph. The whole
of its numerous population poured out to welcome him, dressed in
the gay and picturesque costumes of the different provinces, with
banners waving above their heads, and strewing branches and
flowers along the path of the conqueror. The Inca, borne aloft
in his golden chair on the shoulders of his nobles, moved in
solemn procession, under the triumphal arches that were thrown
across the way, to the great temple of the Sun. There, without
attendants, - for all but the monarch were excluded from the
hallowed precincts, - the victorious prince, stripped of his
royal insignia, barefooted, and with all humility, approached the
awful shrine, and offered up sacrifice and thanksgiving to the
glorious Deity who presided over the fortunes of the Incas. This
ceremony concluded, the whole population gave itself up to
festivity; music, revelry, and dancing were heard in every
quarter of the capital, and illuminations and bonfires
commemorated the victorious campaign of the Inca, and the
accession of a new territory to his empire. *77

[Footnote 77: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 11,
17; lib. 6 cap. 55. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., cap. 16.]

In this celebration we see much of the character of a religious
festival. Indeed, the character of religion was impressed on all
the Peruvian wars. The life of an Inca was one long crusade
against the infidel, to spread wide the worship of the Sun, to
reclaim the benighted nations from their brutish superstitions,
and impart to them the blessings of a well-regulated government.
This, in the favorite phrase of our day, was the "mission" of the
Inca. It was also the mission of the Christian conqueror who
invaded the empire of this same Indian potentate. Which of the
two executed his mission most faithfully, history must decide.

Yet the Peruvian monarchs did not show a childish impatience in
the acquisition of empire. They paused after a campaign, and
allowed time for the settlement of one conquest before they
undertook another; and, in this interval, occupied themselves
with the quiet administration of their kingdom, and with the long
progresses, which brought them into nearer intercourse with their
people. During this interval, also, their new vassals had begun
to accommodate themselves to the strange institutions of their
masters. They learned to appreciate the value of a government
which raised them above the physical evils of a state of
barbarism, secured them protection of person, and a full
participation in all the privileges enjoyed by their conquerors;
and, as they became more familiar with the peculiar institutions
of the country, habit, that second nature, attached them the more
strongly to these institutions, from their very peculiarity.
Thus, by degrees, and without violence, arose the great fabric of
the Peruvian empire, composed of numerous independent and even
hostile tribes, yet, under the influence of a common religion,
common language, and common government, knit together as one
nation, animated by a spirit of love for its institutions and
devoted loyalty to its sovereign. What a contrast to the
condition of the Aztec monarchy, on the neighbouring continent,
which, composed of the like heterogeneous materials, without any
internal principle of cohesion, was only held together by the
stern pressure, from without, of physical force! - Why the
Peruvian monarchy should have fared no better than its rival, in
its conflict with European civilization, will appear in the
following pages.

Chapter III:

Peruvian Religion. - Deities. - Gorgeous Temples. - Festivals. -
Virgins Of The Sun. - Marriage.

It is a remarkable fact, that many, if not most, of the rude
tribes inhabiting the vast American continent, however disfigured
their creeds may have been in other respects by a childish
superstition, had attained to the sublime conception of one Great
Spirit, the Creator of the Universe, who, immaterial in his own
nature, was not to be dishonored by an attempt at visible
representation, and who, pervading all space, was not to be
circumscribed within the walls of a temple. Yet these elevated
ideas, so far beyond the ordinary range of the untutored
intellect, do not seem to have led to the practical consequences
that might have been expected; and few of the American nations
have shown much solicitude for the maintenance of a religious
worship, or found in their faith a powerful spring of action.
But, with progress in civilization, ideas more akin to those of
civilized communities were gradually unfolded; a liberal
provision was made, and a separate order instituted, for the
services of religion, which were conducted with a minute and
magnificent ceremonial, that challenged comparison, in some
respects, with that of the most polished nations of Christendom.
This was the case with the nations inhabiting the table-land of
North America, and with the natives of Bogota, Quito, Peru, and
the other elevated regions on the great Southern continent. It
was, above all, the case with the Peruvians, who claimed a divine
original for the founders of their empire, whose laws all rested
on a divine sanction, and whose domestic institutions and foreign
wars were alike directed to preserve and propagate their faith.
Religion was the basis of their polity, the very condition, as it
were, of their social existence. The government of the Incas, in
its essential principles, was a theocracy.

Yet, though religion entered so largely into the fabric and
conduct of the political institutions of the people, their
mythology, that is, the traditionary legends by which they
affected to unfold the mysteries of the universe, was exceedingly
mean and puerile. Scarce one of their traditions - except the
beautiful one respecting the founders of their royal dynasty - is
worthy of note, or throws much light on their own antiquities, or
the primitive history of man. Among the traditions of importance
is one of the deluge, which they held in common with so many of
the nations in all parts of the globe, and which they related
with some particulars that bear resemblance to a Mexican legend.

[Footnote 1: They related, that, after the deluge, seven persons
issued from a cave where they had saved themselves, and by them
the earth was repeopled. One of the traditions of the Mexicans
deduced their descent, and that of the kindred tribes, in like
manner, from seven persons who came from as many caves in Aztlan.
(Conf. Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 19; lib. 7, cap. 2. - Ondegardo, Rel.
Prim., Ms.) The story of the deluge is told by different writers
with many variations, in some of which it is not difficult to
detect the plastic hand of the Christian convert.]

Their ideas in respect to a future state of being deserve more
attention. They admitted the existence of the soul hereafter, and
connected with this a belief in the resurrection of the body.
They assigned two distinct places for the residence of the good
and of the wicked, the latter of which they fixed in the centre
of the earth. The good they supposed were to pass a luxurious
life of tranquillity and ease, which comprehended their highest
notions of happiness. The wicked were to expiate their crimes by
ages of wearisome labor. They associated with these ideas a
belief in an evil principle or spirit, bearing the name of Cupay,
whom they did not attempt to propitiate by sacrifices, and who
seems to have been only a shadowy personification of sin, that
exercised little influence over their conduct. *2

[Footnote 2: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las
Ind., cap. 123. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap.
2, 7.

One might suppose that the educated Peruvians - if I may so speak
- imagined the common people had no souls, so little is said of
their opinions as to the condition of these latter in a future
life, while they are diffuse on the prospects of the higher
orders, which they fondly believed were to keep pace with their
condition here.]

It was this belief in the resurrection of the body, which led
them to preserve the body with so much solicitude, - by a simple
process, however, that, unlike the elaborate embalming of the
Egyptians, consisted in exposing it to the action of the cold,
exceedingly dry, and highly rarefied atmosphere of the mountains.
*3 As they believed that the occupations in the future world
would have great resemblance to those of the present, they buried
with the deceased noble some of his apparel, his utensils, and,
frequently, his treasures; and completed the gloomy ceremony by
sacrificing his wives and favorite domestics, to bear him company
and do him service in the happy regions beyond the clouds. *4
Vast mounds of an irregular, or, more frequently, oblong shape,
penetrated by galleries running at right angles to each other,
were raised over the dead, whose dried bodies or mummies have
been found in considerable numbers, sometimes erect, but more
often in the sitting posture, common to the Indian tribes of both
continents. Treasures of great value have also been occasionally
drawn from these monumental deposits, and have stimulated
speculators to repeated excavations with the hope of similar
good-fortune. It was a lottery like that of searching after
mines, but where the chances have proved still more against the
adventurers. *5

[Footnote 3: Such, indeed, seems to be the opinion of Garcilasso,
though some writers speak of resinous and other applications for
embalming the body. The appearance of the royal mummies found at
Cuzco, as reported both by Ondegardo and Garcilasso, makes it
probable that no foreign substance was employed for their

[Footnote 4: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms

The Licentiate says, that this usage continued even after the
Conquest; and that he had saved the life of more than one
favorite domestic, who had fled to him for protection, as they
were about to be sacrificed to the Manes of their deceased lords.
Ibid., ubi supra.]

[Footnote 5: Yet these sepulchral mines have sometimes proved
worth the digging. Sarmiento speaks of gold to the value of
100,000 castellanos, as occasionally buried with the Indian
lords; (Relacion, Ms., cap. 57;) and Las Casas - not the best
authority in numerical estimates - says that treasures worth more
than half a million of ducats had been found, within twenty years
after the Conquest, in the tombs near Truxillo. (Oeuvres, ed.
par Llorente, (Paris, 1822,) tom. II. p. 192.) Baron Humboldt
visited the sepulchre of a Peruvian prince in the same quarter of
the country, whence a Spaniard in 1576 drew forth a mass of gold
worth a million of dollars! Vues des Cordilleres, p. 29.]

The Peruvians, like so may other of the Indian races,
acknowledged a Supreme Being, the Creator and Ruler of the
Universe, whom they adored under the different names of
Pachacamac and Viracocha. *6 No temple was raised to this
invisible Being, save one only in the valley which took its name
from the deity himself, not far from the Spanish city of Lima.
Even this temple had existed there before the country came under
the sway of the Incas, and was the great resort of Indian
pilgrims from remote parts of the land; a circumstance which
suggests the idea, that the worship of this Great Spirit, though
countenanced, perhaps, by their accommodating policy, did not
originate with the Peruvian princes. *7

[Footnote 6: Pachacamac signifies "He who sustains or gives life
to the universe." The name of the great deity is sometimes
expressed by both Pachacamac and Viracocha combined. (See
Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 6. - Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 21.) An
old Spaniard finds in the popular meaning of Viracocha, "foam of
the sea," an argument for deriving the Peruvian civilization from
some voyager from the Old World. Conq. i Pob. de. Piru, Ms.]

[Footnote 7: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq. Ms. - Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 27.

Ulloa notices the extensive ruins of brick, which mark the
probable site of the temple of Pachacamac, attesting by their
present appearance its ancient magnificence and strength.
Memoires Philosophiques, Historiques, Physiques, (Paris, 1787,)
trad. Fr., p. 78.]

The deity whose worship they especially inculcated, and which
they never failed to establish wherever their banners were known
to penetrate, was the Sun. It was he, who, in a particular
manner, presided over the destinies of man; gave light and warmth
to the nations, and life to the vegetable world; whom they
reverenced as the father of their royal dynasty, the founder of
their empire; and whose temples rose in every city and almost
every village throughout the land, while his altars smoked with
burnt offerings, - a form of sacrifice peculiar to the Peruvians
among the semi-civilized nations of the New World. *8

[Footnote 8: At least, so says Dr. McCulloh; and no better
authority can be required on American antiquities. (Researches,
p. 392.) Might he not have added barbarous nations. also?]

Besides the Sun, the Incas acknowledged various objects of
worship in some way or other connected with this principal deity.
Such was the Moon, his sister-wife; the Stars, revered as part of
her heavenly train, - though the fairest of them, Venus, known to
the Peruvians by the name of Chasca, or the "youth with the long
and curling locks," was adored as the page of the Sun, whom he
attends so closely in his rising and in his setting. They
dedicated temples also to the Thunder and Lightning, *9 in whom
they recognized the Sun's dread ministers, and to the Rainbow,
whom they worshipped as a beautiful emanation of their glorious
deity. *10

[Footnote 9: Thunder, Lightning, and Thunderbolt, could be all
expressed by the Peruvians in one word, Illapa. Hence some
Spaniards have inferred a knowledge of the Trinity in the
natives! "The Devil stole all he could," exclaims Herrera, with
righteous indignation. (Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 5.)
These, and even rasher conclusions, (see Acosta, lib. 5, cap.
28,) are scouted by Garcilasso, as inventions of Indian converts,
willing to please the imaginations of their Christian teachers.
(Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 5, 6; lib. 3, cap. 21.)
Imposture, on the one hand, and credulity on the other, have
furnished a plentiful harvest of absurdities, which has been
diligently gathered in by the pious antiquary of a later

[Footnote 10: Garcilasso's assertion, that these heavenly bodies
were objects of reverence as holy things, but not of worship,
(Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 2, cap. 1, 23,) is contradicted by
Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms., - Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms., -
Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4, - Gomara, Hist.
de las Ind., cap. 121, - and, I might add, by almost every writer
of authority whom I have consulted. It is contradicted, in a
manner, by the admission of Garcilasso himself, that these
several objects were all personified by the Indians as living
beings, and had temples dedicated to them as such, with their
effigies delineated in the same manner as was that of the Sun in
his dwelling. Indeed, the effort of the historian to reduce the
worship of the Incas to that of the Sun alone is not very
reconcilable with what he else where says of the homage paid to
Pachacamac, above all, and to Rimac, the great oracle of the
common people. The Peruvian mythology was, probably, not unlike
that of Hindostan, where, under two, or at most three, principal
deities, were assembled a host of inferior ones, to whom the
nation paid religious homage, as personifications of the
different objects in nature.]
In addition to these, the subjects of the Incas enrolled among
their inferior deities many objects in nature, as the elements,
the winds, the earth, the air, great mountains and rivers, which
impressed them with ideas of sublimity and power, or were
supposed in some way or other to exercise a mysterious influence
over the destinies of man. *11 They adopted also a notion, not
unlike that professed by some of the schools of ancient
philosophy, that every thing on earth had its archetype or idea,
its mother, as they emphatically styled it, which they held
sacred, as, in some sort, its spiritual essence. *12 But their
system, far from being limited even to these multiplied objects
of devotion, embraced within its ample folds the numerous deities
of the conquered nations, whose images were transported to the
capital, where the burdensome charges of their worship were
defrayed by their respective provinces. It was a rare stroke of
policy in the Incas, who could thus accommodate their religion to
their interests. *13

[Footnote 11: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.

These consecrated objects were termed huacas, - a word of most
prolific import; since it signified a temple, a tomb, any natural
object remarkable for its size or shape, in short, a cloud of
meanings, which by their contradictory sense have thrown
incalculable confusion over the writings of historians and

[Footnote 12: "La orden por donde fundavan sus huacas que ellos
llamavan a las Idolatrias hera porque decian que todas criava el
sol i que les dava madre por madre que mostravan a la tierra,
porque decian que tenia madre, i tenian le echo su vulto i sus
adoratorios, i al fuego decian que tambien tenia madre i al mais
i a las otras sementeras i a las ovejas iganado decian que tenian
madre, i a la chocha ques el brevaje que ellos usan decian que el
vinagre della hera la madre i lo reverenciavan i llamavan mama
agua madre del vinagre, i a cada cosa adoravan destas de su
manera." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]

[Footnote 13: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.

So it seems to have been regarded by the Licentiate Ondegardo.
"E los Idolos estaban en aq1 galpon grande de la casa del Sol, y
cada Idolo destos tenia su servicio y gastos y mugeres, y en la
casa del Sol le iban a hacer reverencia los que venian de su
provincial para lo qual e sacrificios que se hacian proveian de
su misma tierra ordinaria e muy abundantemente por la misma orden
que lo hacian quando estaba en la misma provincia, que daba gran
autoridad a mi parecer e aun fuerza a estos Ingas que cierto me
causo gran admiracion." Rel. Seg., Ms.]

But the worship of the Sun constituted the peculiar care of the
Incas, and was the object of their lavish expenditure. The most
ancient of the many temples dedicated to this divinity was in the
Island of Titicaca, whence the royal founders of the Peruvian
line were said to have proceeded. From this circumstance, this
sanctuary was held in peculiar veneration. Every thing which
belonged to it, even the broad fields of maize, which surrounded
the temple, and formed part of its domain, imbibed a portion of
its sanctity. The yearly produce was distributed among the
different public magazines, in small quantities to each, as
something that would sanctify the remainder of the store. Happy
was the man who could secure even an ear of the blessed harvest
for his own granary! *14

[Footnote 14: Garcilasso. Com. Real, Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 25.]
But the most renowned of the Peruvian temples the pride of the
capital, and the wonder of the empire, was at Cuzco, where, under
the munificence of successive sovereigns, it had become so
enriched, that it received the name of Coricancha, or "the Place
of Gold." It consisted of a principal building and several
chapels and inferior edifices, covering a large extent of ground
in the heart of the city, and completely encompassed by a wall,
which, with the edifices, was all constructed of stone. The work
was of the kind already described in the other public buildings
of the country, and was so finely executed, that a Spaniard, who
saw it in its glory, assures us, he could call to mind only two
edifices in Spain, which, for their workmanship, were at all to
be compared with it. *15 Yet this substantial, and, in some
respects, magnificent structure, was thatched with straw!

[Footnote 15: "Tenia este Templo en circuito mas de quatro
cientos pasos, todo cercado de una muralla fuerte, labrado todo
el edificio de cantera muy excelente de fina piedra, muy bien
puesta y asentada, y algunas piedras eran muy grandes y
soberbias, no tenian mezcla de tierra ni cal, sino con el betun
que ellos suelen hacer sus edificios, y estan tan bien labradas
estas piedras que no se les parece mezcla ni juntura ninguna. En
toda Espana no he visto cosa que pueda comparar a estas paredes y
postura de piedra, sino a la torre que llaman la Calahorra que
esta junto con la puente de Cordoba, y a una obra que vi en
Toledo, cuando fui a presentar la primera parte de mi Cronica al
Principe Dn Felipe." Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24]

The interior of the temple was the most worthy of admiration. It
was literally a mine of gold. On the western wall was emblazoned
a representation of the deity, consisting of a human countenance,
looking forth from amidst innumerable rays of light, which
emanated from it in every direction, in the same manner as the
sun is often personified with us. The figure was engraved on a
massive plate of gold of enormous dimensions, thickly powdered
with emeralds and precious stones. *16 It was so situated in
front of the great eastern portal, that the rays of the morning
sun fell directly upon it at its rising, lighting up the whole
apartment with an effulgence that seemed more than natural, and
which was reflected back from the golden ornaments with which the
walls and ceiling were everywhere incrusted. Gold, in the
figurative language of the people, was "the tears wept by the
sun," *17 and every part of the interior of the temple glowed
with burnished plates and studs of the precious metal. The
cornices, which surrounded the walls of the sanctuary, were of
the same costly material; and a broad belt or frieze of gold, let
into the stonework, encompassed the whole exterior of the
edifice. *18

[Footnote 16: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms - Cieza de Leon, Cronica,
cap. 44, 92.

"La figura del Sol, muy grande, hecha de oro obrada muy
primamente engastonada en muchas piedras ricas." Sarmiento,
Relacion, Ms., cap. 24.]

[Footnote 17: "I al oro asimismo decian que era lagrimas que el
Sol llorava." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]

[Footnote 18: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24. - Antig. y
Monumentos del Peru, Ms.

"Cercada junto a la techumbre de una plancha de oro de palmo i
medio de ancho i lo mismo tenian por de dentro en cada bohio o
casa i aposento." (Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.) "Tenia una cinta
de planchas de oro de anchor de mas de un palmo enlazadas en las
piedras." Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]
Adjoining the principal structure were several chapels of smaller
dimensions. One of them was consecrated to the Moon, the deity
held next in reverence, as the mother of the Incas. Her effigy
was delineated in the same manner as that of the Sun, on a vast
plate that nearly covered one side of the apartment. But this
plate, as well as all the decorations of the building, was of
silver, as suited to the pale, silvery light of the beautiful
planet. There were three other chapels, one of which was
dedicated to the host of Stars, who formed the bright court of
the Sister of the Sun; another was consecrated to his dread
ministers of vengeance, the Thunder and the Lightning; and a
third, to the Rainbow, whose many-colored arch spanned the walls
of the edifice with hues almost as radiant as its own. There
were besides several other buildings, or insulated apartments,
for the accommodation of the numerous priests who officiated in
the services of the temple. *19

[Footnote 19: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 24. - Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 21. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y
Conq., Ms.]

All the plate, the ornaments, the utensils of every description,
appropriated to the uses of religion, were of gold or silver.
Twelve immense vases of the latter metal stood on the floor of
the great saloon, filled with grain of the Indian corn; *20 the
censers for the perfumes, the ewers which held the water for
sacrifice, the pipes which conducted it through subterraneous
channels into the buildings, the reservoirs that received it,
even the agricultural implements used in the gardens of the
temple, were all of the same rich materials. The gardens, like
those described, belonging to the royal palaces, sparkled with
flowers of gold and silver, and various imitations of the
vegetable kingdom. Animals, also, were to be found there, -
among which the llama, with its golden fleece, was most
conspicuous, - executed in the same style, and with a degree of
skill, which, in this instance, probably, did not surpass the
excellence of the material. *21

[Footnote 20: "El bulto del Sol tenian mui grande de oro, i todo
el servicio desta casa era de plata i oro, i tenian doze horones
de plata blanca que dos hombres no abrazarian cada uno quadrados,
i eran mas altos que una buena pica donde hechavan el maiz que
havian de dar al Sol, segun ellos decian que comiese." Conq. i
Pob. del Piru, Ms.

The original, as the Spanish reader perceives, says each of these
silver vases or bins was as high as a good lance, and so large
that two men with outspread arms could barely encompass them! As
this might, perhaps, embarrass even the most accommodating faith,
I have preferred not to become responsible for any particular

[Footnote 21: Levinus Apollonius, fol. 38. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 3, cap. 24. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y
Conq., Ms.

"Tenian un Jardin que los Terrones eran pedazos de oro fino y
estaban artificiosamente sembrado de maizales los quales eran oro
asi las Canas de ello como las ojas y mazorcas, y estaban tan
bien plantados que aunque hiciesen recios bientos no se
arrancaban. Sin todo esto tenian hechas mas de veinte obejas de
oro con sus Corderos y los Pastores con sus ondas y cayados que
las guardaban hecho de este metal; havia mucha cantidad de
Tinajas de oro y de Plata y esmeraldas, vasos, ollas y todo
genero de vasijas todo de oro fino; por otras Paredes tenian
esculpidas y pintadas otras mayores cosas, en fin era uno de los
ricos Templos que hubo en el mundo." Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms.,
cap. 24.]

If the reader sees in this fairy picture only the romantic
coloring of some fabulous El Dorado, he must recall what has been
said before in reference to the palaces of the Incas, and
consider that these "Houses of the Sun," as they were styled,
were the common reservoir into which flowed all the streams of
public and private benefaction throughout the empire. Some of
the statements, through credulity, and others, in the desire of
exciting admiration, may be greatly exaggerated; but, in the
coincidence of contemporary testimony, it is not easy to
determine the exact line which should mark the measure of our
skepticism. Certain it is, that the glowing picture I have given
is warranted by those who saw these buildings in their pride, or
shortly after they had been despoiled by the cupidity of their
countrymen. Many of the costly articles were buried by the
natives, or thrown into the waters of the rivers and the lakes;
but enough remained to attest the unprecedented opulence of these
religious establishments. Such things as were in their nature
portable were speedily removed, to gratify the craving of the
Conquerors, who even tore away the solid cornices and frieze of
gold from the great temple, filling the vacant places with the
cheaper, but - since it affords no temptation to avarice - more
durable, material of plaster. Yet even thus shorn of their
splendor, the venerable edifices still presented an attraction to
the spoiler, who found in their dilapidated walls an
inexhaustible quarry for the erection of other buildings. On the
very ground once crowned by the gorgeous Coricancha rose the
stately church of St. Dominic, one of the most magnificent
structures of the New World. Fields of maize and lucerne now
bloom on the spot which glowed with the golden gardens of the
temple; and the friar chants his orisons within the consecrated
precincts once occupied by the Children of the Sun. *22

[Footnote 22: Miller's Memoirs, vol. II. pp. 223, 224.]

Besides the great temple of the Sun, there was a large number of
inferior temples and religious houses in the Peruvian capital and
its environs, amounting, as is stated, to three or four hundred.
*23 For Cuzco was a sanctified spot, venerated not only as the
abode of the Incas, but of all those deities who presided over
the motley nations of the empire. It was the city beloved of the
Sun; where his worship was maintained in its splendor; "where
every fountain, pathway, and wall," says an ancient chronicler,
"was regarded as a holy mystery." *24 And unfortunate was the
Indian noble who, at some period or other of his life, had not
made his pilgrimage to the Peruvian Mecca.

[Footnote 23: Herrera, Hist. General, dec 5, lib. 4, cap. 8.
"Havia en aquella ciudad y legua y media de la redonda
quatrocientos y tantos lugares, donde se hacian sacrificious, y
se gastava mucha suma de hacienda en ellos." Ondegardo, Rel.
Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 24: "Que aquella ciudad del Cuzco era casa y morada de
Dioses, e ansi no habia en toda ella fuente ni paso ni pared que
no dixesen que tenia misterio." Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]

Other temples and religious dwellings were scattered over the
provinces; and some of them constructed on a scale of
magnificence, that almost rivalled that of the metropolis. The
attendants on these composed an army of themselves. The whole
number of functionaries, including those of the sacerdotal order,
who officiated at the Coricancha alone, was no less than four
thousand. *25

[Footnote 25: Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.

An army, indeed, if, as Cieza de Leon states, the number of
priests and menials employed in the famous temple of Bilcas, on
the route to Chili, amounted to 40,000! (Cronica, cap. 89.)
Every thing relating to these Houses of the Sun appears to have
been on a grand scale. But we may easily believe this a clerical
error for 4,000.]

At the head of all, both here and throughout the land, stood the
great High-Priest, or Villac Vmu, as he was called. He was
second only to the Inca in dignity, and was usually chosen from
his brothers or nearest kindred. He was appointed by the
monarch, and held his office for life; and he, in turn, appointed
to all the subordinate stations of his own order. This order was
very numerous. Those members of it who officiated in the House
of the Sun, in Cuzco, were taken exclusively from the sacred race
of the Incas. The ministers in the provincial temples were drawn
from the families of the curacas; but the office of high-priest
in each district was reserved for one of the blood royal. It was
designed by this regulation to preserve the faith in its purity,
and to guard against any departure from the stately ceremonial
which it punctiliously prescribed. *26

[Footnote 26: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 27. - Conq i Pob.
del Piru, Ms.

It was only while the priests were engaged in the service of the
temples, that they were maintained, according to Garcilasso, from
the estates of the Sun. At other times, they were to get their
support from their own lands, which, if he is correct, were
assigned to them in the same manner as to the other orders of the
nation. Com Real., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 8]

The sacerdotal order, though numerous, was not distinguished by
any peculiar badge or costume from the rest of the nation.
Neither was it the sole depository of the scanty science of the
country, nor was it charged with the business of instruction, nor
with those parochial duties, if they may so be called, which
bring the priest in contact with the great body of the people, -
as was the case in Mexico. The cause of this peculiarity may
probably be traced to the existence of a superior order, like
that of the Inca nobles, whose sanctity of birth so far
transcended all human appointments, that they in a manner
engrossed whatever there was of religious veneration in the
people. They were, in fact, the holy order of the state.
Doubtless, any of them might, as very many of them did, take on
themselves the sacerdotal functions; and their own insignia and
peculiar privileges were too well understood to require any
further badge to separate them from the people.
The duties of the priest were confined to ministration in the
temple. Even here his attendance was not constant, as he was
relieved after a stated interval by other brethren of his order,
who succeeded one another in regular rotation. His science was
limited to an acquaintance with the fasts and festivals of his
religion, and the appropriate ceremonies which distinguished
them. This, however frivolous might be its character, was no
easy acquisition; for the ritual of the Incas involved a routine
of observances, as complex and elaborate as ever distinguished
that of any nation, whether pagan or Christian. Each month had
its appropriate festival, or rather festivals. The four
principal had reference to the Sun, and commemorated the great
periods of his annual progress, the solstices and equinoxes.
Perhaps the most magnificent of all the national solemnities was
the feast of Raymi, held at the period of the summer solstice,
when the Sun, having touched the southern extremity of his
course, retraced his path, as if to gladden the hearts of his
chosen people by his presence. On this occasion, the Indian
nobles from the different quarters of the country thronged to the
capital to take part in the great religious celebration.

For three days previous, there was a general fast, and no fire
was allowed to be lighted in the dwellings. When the appointed
day arrived, the Inca and his court, followed by the whole
population of the city, assembled at early dawn in the great
square to greet the rising of the Sun. They were dressed in
their gayest apparel, and the Indian lords vied with each other
in the display of costly ornaments and jewels on their persons,
while canopies of gaudy feather-work and richly tinted stuffs,
borne by the attendants over their heads, gave to the great
square, and the streets that emptied into it, the appearance of
being spread over with one vast and magnificent awning. Eagerly
they watched the coming of their deity, and, no sooner did his
first yellow rays strike the turrets and loftiest buildings of
the capital, than a shout of gratulation broke forth from the
assembled multitude, accompanied by songs of triumph, and the
wild melody of barbaric instruments, that swelled louder and
louder as his bright orb, rising above the mountain range towards
the east, shone in full splendor on his votaries. After the usual
ceremonies of adoration, a libation was offered to the great
deity by the Inca, from a huge golden vase, filled with the
fermented liquor of maize or of maguey, which, after the monarch
had tasted it himself, he dispensed among his royal kindred.
These ceremonies completed, the vast assembly was arranged in
order of procession, and took its way towards the Coricancha. *27

[Footnote 27: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Sarmiento, Relacion,
Ms., cap. 27.

The reader will find a brilliant, and not very extravagant,
account of the Peruvian festivals in Marmontel's romance of Les
Incas. The French author saw in their gorgeous ceremonial a
fitting introduction to his own literary pageant Tom. I. chap. 1
- 4.]

As they entered the street of the sacred edifice, all divested
themselves of their sandals, except the Inca and his family, who
did the same on passing through the portals of the temple, where
none but these august personages were admitted. *28 After a
decent time spent in devotion, the sovereign, attended by his
courtly train, again appeared, and preparations were made to
commence the sacrifice. This, with the Peruvians, consisted of
animals, grain, flowers, and sweet-scented gums; sometimes of
human beings, on which occasions a child or beautiful maiden was
usually selected as the victim. But such sacrifices were rare,
being reserved to celebrate some great public event, as a
coronation, the birth of a royal heir, or a great victory. They
were never followed by those cannibal repasts familiar to the
Mexicans, and to many of the fierce tribes conquered by the
Incas. Indeed, the conquests of these princes might well be
deemed a blessing to the Indian nations, if it were only from
their suppression of cannibalism, and the diminution, under their
rule, of human sacrifices. *29

[Footnote 28: "Ningun Indio comun osaba pasar por la calle del
Sol calzado; ni ninguno, aunque fuese mui grand Senor, entrava en
las casas del Sol con zapatos." Conq. i Pob. del Piru, Ms.]

[Footnote 29: Garcilasso de la Vega flatly denies that the Incas
were guilty of human sacrifices; and maintains, on the other
hand, that they uniformly abolished them in every country they
subdued, where they had previously existed. (Com. Real., Parte
1, lib. 2, cap. 9, et alibi.) But in this material fact he is
unequivocally contradicted by Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 22,
- Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms., - Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, Ms.,
lib. 2, cap. 8, - Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 5, 8, - Cieza de
Leon, Cronica, cap. 72, - Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms., - Acosta,
lib. 5, cap. 19, - and I might add, I suspect, were I to pursue
the inquiry, by nearly every ancient writer of authority; some of
whom, having come into the country soon after the Conquest, while
its primitive institutions were in vigor, are entitled to more
deference in a matter of this kind than Garcilasso himself. It
was natural that the descendant of the Incas should desire to
relieve his race from so odious an imputation; and we must have
charity for him, if he does show himself, on some occasions,
where the honor of his country is at stake, "high gravel blind."
It should be added, in justice to the Peruvian government, that
the best authorities concur in the admission, that the sacrifices
were few, both in number and in magnitude, being reserved for
such extraordinary occasions as those mentioned in the text.]

At the feast of Raymi, the sacrifice usually offered was that of
the llama; and the priest, after opening the body of his victim,
sought in the appearances which it exhibited to read the lesson
of the mysterious future. If the auguries were unpropitious, a
second victim was slaughtered, in the hope of receiving some more
comfortable assurance. The Peruvian augur might have learned a
good lesson of the Roman, - to consider every omen as favorable,
which served the interests of his country. *30

[Footnote 30: "Augurque cum esset, dicere ausus est, optimis
auspiciis ea geri, quae pro reipublicae salute gererentur."
Cicero, De Senectute.

This inspection of the entrails of animals for the purposes of
divination is worthy of note, as a most rare, if not a solitary,
instance of the kind among the nations of the New World, though
so familiar in the ceremonial of sacrifice among the pagan
nations of the Old.]

A fire was then kindled by means of a concave mirror of polished
metal, which, collecting the rays of the sun into a focus upon a
quantity of dried cotton, speedily set it on fire. It was the
expedient used on the like occasions in ancient Rome, at least
under the reign of the pious Numa. When the sky was overcast,
and the face of the good deity was hidden from his worshippers,
which was esteemed a bad omen, fire was obtained by means of
friction. The sacred flame was intrusted to the care of the
Virgins of the Sun, and if, by any neglect, it was suffered to go
out in the course of the year, the event was regarded as a
calamity that boded some strange disaster to the monarchy. *31 A
burnt offering of the victims was then made on the altars of the
deity. This sacrifice was but the prelude to the slaughter of a
great number of llamas, part of the flocks of the Sun, which
furnished a banquet not only for the Inca and his Court, but for
the people, who made amends at these festivals for the frugal
fare to which they were usually condemned. A fine bread or cake,
kneaded of maize flour by the fair hands of the Virgins of the
Sun, was also placed on the royal board, where the Inca,
presiding over the feast, pledged his great nobles in generous
goblets of the fermented liquor of the country, and the long
revelry of the day was closed at night by music and dancing.
Dancing and drinking were the favorite pastimes of the Peruvians.
These amusements continued for several days, though the
sacrifices terminated on the first. - Such was the great festival
of Raymi; and the recurrence of this and similar festivities gave
relief to the monotonous routine of toil prescribed to the lower
orders of the community. *32

[Footnote 31: "Vigilemque sacraverat ignem, Excubias divum

Plutarch, in his life of Numa, describes the reflectors used by
the Romans for kindling the sacred fire, as concave instruments
of brass, though not spherical like the Peruvian, but of a
triangular form.]

[Footnote 32: Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 28, 29. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 23.]

In the distribution of bread and wine at this high festival, the
orthodox Spaniards, who first came into the country, saw a
striking resemblance to the Christian communion; *33 as in the
practice of confession and penance, which, in a most irregular
form, indeed, seems to have been used by the Peruvians, they
discerned a coincidence with another of the sacraments of the
Church. *34 The good fathers were fond of tracing such
coincidences, which they considered as the contrivance of Satan,
who thus endeavoured to delude his victims by counterfeiting the
blessed rites of Christianity. *35 Others, in a different vein,
imagined that they saw in such analogies the evidence, that some
of the primitive teachers of the Gospel, perhaps an apostle
himself, had paid a visit to these distant regions, and scattered
over them the seeds of religious truth. *36 But it seems hardly
necessary to invoke the Prince of Darkness, or the intervention
of the blessed saints, to account for coincidences which have
existed in countries far removed from the light of Christianity
and in ages, indeed, when its light had not yet risen on the
world. It is much more reasonable to refer such casual points of
resemblance to the general constitution of man, and the
necessities of his moral nature. *37

[Footnote 33: "That which is most admirable in the hatred and
presumption of Sathan is, that he not onely counterfeited in
idolatry and sacrifices, but also in certain ceremonies, our
sacraments, which Jesus Christ our Lord instituted, and the holy
Church uses, having especially pretended to imitate, in some
sort, the sacrament of the communion, which is the most high and
divine of all others." Acosta, lib. 5, cap. 23.]

[Footnote 34: Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4. -
Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

"The father of lies would likewise counterfeit the sacrament of
Confession, and in his idolatries sought to be honored with
ceremonies very like to the manner of Christians." Acosta, lib.
5, cap. 25.]

[Footnote 35: Cieza de Leon, not content with many marvellous
accounts of the influence and real apparition of Satan in the
Indian ceremonies, has garnished his volume with numerous
wood-cuts representing the Prince of Evil in bodily presence with
the usual accompaniments of tail, claws, &c., as if to reenforce
the homilies in his text! The Peruvian saw in his idol a god.
His Christian conqueror saw in it the Devil. One may be puzzled
to decide which of the two might lay claim to the grossest

[Footnote 36: Piedrahita, the historian of the Muyscas, is
satisfied that this apostle must have been St. Bartholomew, whose
travels were known to have been extensive. (Conq. de Granada,
Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 3.) The Mexican antiquaries consider St.
Thomas as having had charge of the mission to the people of
Anahuac. These two apostles, then, would seem to have divided
the New World, at least the civilized portions of it, between
them. How they came, whether by Behring's Straits, or directly
across the Atlantic, we are not informed. Velasco - a writer of
the eighteenth century! - has little doubt that they did really
come. Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp. 89, 90.]

[Footnote 37: The subject is illustrated by some examples in the
"History of the Conquest of Mexico," vol. III., Appendix, No. 1.;
since the same usages in that country led to precisely the same
rash conclusions among the Conquerors.]

Another singular analogy with Roman Catholic institutions is
presented by the Virgins of the Sun, the "elect," as they were
called, *38 to whom I have already had occasion to refer. These
were young maidens, dedicated to the service of the deity, who,
at a tender age, were taken from their homes, and introduced into
convents, where they were placed under the care of certain
elderly matrons, mamaconas, who had grown grey within their
walls. *39 Under these venerable guides, the holy virgins were
instructed in the nature of their religious duties. They were
employed in spinning and embroidery, and, with the fine hair of
the vicuna, wove the hangings for the temples, and the apparel
for the Inca and his household. *40 It was their duty, above all,
to watch over the sacred fire obtained at the festival of Raymi.
From the moment they entered the establishment, they were cut off
from all connection with the world, even with their own family
and friends. No one but the Inca, and the Coya or queen, might
enter the consecrated precincts. The greatest attention was paid
to their morals, and visitors were sent every year to inspect the
institutions, and to report on the state of their discipline. *41
Woe to the unhappy maiden who was detected in an intrigue! By
the stern law of the Incas, she was to be buried alive, her lover
was to be strangled, and the town or village to which he belonged
was to be razed to the ground, and "sowed with stones," as if to
efface every memorial of his existence. *42 One is astonished to
find so close a resemblance between the institutions to find so
close a resemblance between the institutions of the American
Indian, the ancient Roman, and the modern Catholic! Chastity and
purity of life are virtues in woman, that would seem to be of
equal estimation with the barbarian and with the civilized. - Yet
the ultimate destination of the inmates of these religious houses
was materially different.

[Footnote 38: Llamavase Casa de Escogidas; porque las escogian. o
por Linage, o por Hermosura." Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1,
lib. 4, cap. 1.]

[Footnote 39: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.

The word mamacona signified "matron"; mama, the first half of
this compound word, as already noticed, meaning "mother." See
Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.]

[Footnote 40: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms.]

[Footnote 41: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms.]

[Footnote 42: Balboa, Hist. du Perou, chap. 9. - Fernandez, Hist.
del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 11. - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 3.
According to the historian of the Incas, the terrible penalty was
never incurred by a single lapse on the part of the fair
sisterhood; though, if it had been, the sovereign, he assures us,
would have "exacted it to the letter, with as little compunction
as he would have drowned a puppy." (Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4,
cap. 3.) Other writers contend, on the contrary, that these
Virgins had very little claim to the reputation of Vestals. (See
Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Gomara, Hist. de las Ind.,
cap. 121.) Such imputations are common enough on the inhabitants
of religious houses, whether pagan or Christian. They are
contradicted in the present instance by the concurrent testimony
of most of those who had the best opportunity of arriving at
truth, and are made particularly improbable by the superstitious
reverence entertained for the Incas.]

The great establishment at Cuzco consisted wholly of maidens of
the royal blood, who amounted, it is said, to no less than
fifteen hundred. The provincial convents were supplied from the
daughters of the curacas and inferior nobles, and, occasionally,
where a girl was recommended by great personal attractions, from
the lower classes of the people. *43 The "Houses of the Virgins
of the Sun" consisted of low ranges of stone buildings, covering
a large extent of ground, surrounded by high walls, which
excluded those within entirely from observation. They were
provided with every accommodation for the fair inmates, and were
embellished in the same sumptuous and costly manner as the
palaces of the Incas, and the temples; for they received the
particular care of government, as an important part of the
religious establishment. *44

[Footnote 43: Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq., Ms. - Garcilasso,
Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 1.]

[Footnote 44: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 5. - Cieza de Leon,
Cronica, cap. 44.]

Yet the career of all the inhabitants of these cloisters was not
confined within their narrow walls. Though Virgins of the Sun,
they were brides of the Inca, and, at a marriageable age, the
most beautiful among them were selected for the honors of his
bed, and transferred to the royal seraglio. The full complement
of this amounted in time not only to hundreds, but thousands, who
all found accommodations in his different palaces throughout the
country. When the monarch was disposed to lessen the number of
his establishment, the concubine with whose society he was
willing to dispense returned, not to her former monastic
residence, but to her own home; where, however humble might be
her original condition, she was maintained in great state, and,
far from being dishonored by the situation she had filled, was
held in universal reverence as the Inca's bride. *45

[Footnote 45: Dec. de la Aud. Real., Ms. - Garcilasso, Com.
Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap.4. - Montesinos, Mem Antiguas, Ms.,
lib 2, cap. 19.]

The great nobles of Peru were allowed, like their sovereign, a
plurality of wives. The people, generally, whether by law, or by
necessity stronger than law, were more happily limited to one.
Marriage was conducted in a manner that gave it quite as original
a character as belonged to the other institutions of the country.
On an appointed day of the year, all those of a marriageable age
- which, having reference to their ability to take charge of a
family, in the males was fixed at not less than twenty-four
years, and in the women at eighteen or twenty - were called
together in the great squares of their respective towns and
villages, throughout the empire. The Inca presided in person
over the assembly of his own kindred, and taking the hands of the
different couples who were to be united, he placed them within
each other, declaring the parties man and wife. The same was
done by the curacas towards all persons of their own or inferior
degree in their several districts. This was the simple form of
marriage in Peru. No one was allowed to select a wife beyond the
community to which he belonged, which generally comprehended all
his own kindred; *46 nor was any but the sovereign authorized to
dispense with the law of nature - or at least, the usual law of
nations - so far as to marry his own sister. *47 No marriage was
esteemed valid without the consent of the parents; and the
preference of the parties, it is said, was also to be consulted;
though, considering the barriers imposed by the prescribed age of
the candidates, this must have been within rather narrow and
whimsical limits. A dwelling was got ready for the new-married
pair at the charge of the district, and the prescribed portion of
land assigned for their maintenance. The law of Peru provided for
the future, as well as for the present. It left nothing to
chance. - The simple ceremony of marriage was followed by general
festivities among the friends of the parties, which lasted
several days; and as every wedding took place on the same day,
and as there were few families who had not some one of their
members or their kindred personally interested, there was one
universal bridal jubilee throughout the empire. *48

[Footnote 46: By the strict letter of the law, according to
Garcilasso, no one was to marry out of his own lineage. But this
narrow rule had a most liberal interpretation, since all of the
same town, and even province, he assures us, were reckoned of kin
to one another. Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 4, cap. 8.]

[Footnote 47: Fernandez, Hist. del Peru, Parte 2, lib. 3, cap. 9.
This practice, so revolting to our feelings that it might well be
deemed to violate the law of nature, must not, however, be
regarded as altogether peculiar to the Incas, since it was
countenanced by some of the most polished nations of antiquity.]

[Footnote 48: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms - Garcilasso, Com. Real.,
Parte lib. 6, cap. 36. - Dec. de la Aud Real., Ms. - Montesinos,
Mem Antiguas, Ms., lib. 2, cap. 6.]

The extraordinary regulations respecting marriage under the Incas
are eminently characteristic of the genius of the government;
which, far from limiting itself to matters of public concern,
penetrated into the most private recesses of domestic life,
allowing no man, however humble, to act for himself, even in
those personal matters in which none but himself, or his family
at most, might be supposed to be interested. No Peruvian was too
low for the fostering vigilance of government. None was so high
that he was not made to feel his dependence upon it in every act
of his life. His very existence as an individual was absorbed in
that of the community. His hopes and his fears, his joys and his
sorrows, the tenderest sympathies of his nature, which would most
naturally shrink from observation, were all to be regulated by
law. He was not allowed even to be happy in his own way. The
government of the Incas was the mildest, - but the most searching
of despotisms.

Chapter IV:

Education. - Quipus. - Astronomy. - Agriculture. - Aqueducts. -
Guano. - Important Esculents.

"Science was not intended for the people; but for those of
generous blood. Persons of low degree are only puffed up by it,
and rendered vain and arrogant. Neither should such meddle with
the affairs of government; for this would bring high offices into
disrepute, and cause detriment to the state." *1 Such was the
favorite maxim, often repeated, of Tupac Inca Yupanqi, one of the
most renowned of the Peruvian sovereigns. It may seem strange
that such a maxim should ever have been proclaimed in the New
World, where popular institutions have been established on a more
extensive scale than was ever before witnessed; where government
rests wholly on the people; and education - at least, in the
great northern division of the continent - is mainly directed to
qualify the people for the duties of government. Yet this maxim
was strictly conformable to the genius of the Peruvian monarchy,
and may serve as a key to its habitual policy; since, while it
watched with unwearied solicitude over its subjects, provided for
their physical necessities, was mindful of their morals, and
showed, throughout, the affectionate concern of a parent for his
children, it yet regarded them only as children, who were never
to emerge from the state of pupilage, to act or to think for
themselves, but whose whole duty was comprehended in the

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