Inca, A History, Part Five

History Of The Conquest Of Peru

Introduction. View Of The Civilization Of The Incas.

Author: Prescott, William H.

Part V

Peruvian Sheep. - Great Hunts. - Manufactures. - Mechanical Skill. -

Architecture. - Concluding Reflections.

A nation which had made such progress in agriculture might be reasonably

expected to have made, also, some proficiency in the mechanical arts, -

especially when, as in the case of the Peruvians, their agricultural economy

demanded in itself no inconsiderable degree of mechanical skill. Among most

nations, progress in manufactures has been found to have an intimate

connection with the progress of husbandry. Both arts are directed to the same

great object of supplying the necessaries, the comforts, or, in a more refined

condition of society, the luxuries of life; and when the one is brought to a

perfection that infers a certain advance in civilization, the other must

naturally find a corresponding development under the increasing demands and

capacities of such a state. The subjects of the Incas, in their patient and

tranquil devotion to the more humble occupations of industry which bound them

to their native soil, bore greater resemblance to the Oriental nations, as the

Hindoos and Chinese, than they bore to the members of the great Anglo-Saxon

family, whose hardy temper has driven them to seek their fortunes on the

stormy ocean, and to open a commerce with the most distant regions of the

globe. The Peruvians, though lining a long extent of sea-coast, had no

foreign commerce.

They had peculiar advantages for domestic manufacture in a material

incomparably superior to any thing possessed by the other races of the Western

continent. They found a good substitute for linen in a fabric which, like the

Aztecs, they knew how to weave from the tough thread of the maguey. Cotton

grew luxuriantly on the low, sultry level of the coast, and furnished them

with a clothing suitable to the milder latitudes of the country. But from the

llama and the kindred species of Peruvian sheep they obtained a fleece adapted

to the colder climate of the table-land, "more estimable," to quote the

language of a well-informed writer, "than the down of the Canadian beaver, the

fleece of the brebis des Calmoucks, or of the Syrian goat." ^1

[Footnote 1: Walton, Historical and Descriptive Account of the Peruvian Sheep,

(London, 1811,) p. 115. This writer's comparison is directed to the wool of

the vicuna, the most esteemed of the genus for its fleece.]

Of the four varieties of the Peruvian sheep, the llama, the one most

familiarly known, is the least valuable on account of its wool. It is

chiefly employed as a beast of burden, for which, although it is somewhat

larger than any of the other varieties, its diminutive size and strength

would seem to disqualify it. It carries a load of little more than a hundred

pounds, and cannot travel above three or four leagues in a day. But all this

is compensated by the little care and cost required for its management and

its maintenance. It picks up an easy subsistence from the moss and stunted

herbage that grow scantily along the withered sides and the steeps of the

Cordilleras. The structure of its stomach, like that of the camel, is such

as to enable it to dispense with any supply of water for weeks, nay, months

together. Its spongy hoof, armed with a claw or pointed talon to enable it

to take secure hold on the ice, never requires to be shod; and the load laid

upon its back rests securely in its bed of wool, without the aid of girth or

saddle. The llamas move in troops of five hundred or even a thousand, and

thus, though each individual carries but little, the aggregate is

considerable. The whole caravan travels on at its regular pace, passing the

night in the open air without suffering from the coldest temperature, and

marching in perfect order, and in obedience to the voice of the driver. It

is only when overloaded that the spirited little animal refuses to stir, and

neither blows nor caresses can induce him to rise from the ground. He is as

sturdy in asserting his rights on this occasion, as he is usually docile and

unresisting. ^2

[Footnote 2: Ibid., p. 23, et seq. - Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib.

8, cap. 16. - Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 41.

Llama, according to Garcilasso de la Vega, is a Peruvian word signifying

"flock." (Ibid., ubi supra.) The natives got no milk from their domesticated

animals; nor was milk used, I believe, by any tribe on the American


The employment of domestic animals distinguished the Peruvians from the

other races of the New World. This economy of human labor by the

substitution of the brute is an important element of civilization, inferior

only to what is gained by the substitution of machinery for both. Yet the

ancient Peruvians seem to have made much less account of it than their

Spanish conquerors, and to have valued the llama, in common with the other

animals of that genus, chiefly for its fleece. Immense herds of these "large

cattle," as they were called, and of the "smaller cattle," ^3 or alpacas, were

held by the government, as already noticed, and placed under the direction

of shepherds, who conducted them from one quarter of the country to another,

according to the changes of the season. These migrations were regulated with

all the precision with which the code of the mesta determined the migrations

of the vast merino flocks in Spain; and the Conquerors, when they landed in

Peru, were amazed at finding a race of animals so similar to their own in

properties and habits, and under the control of a system of legislation which

might seem to have been imported from their native land. ^4

[Footnote 3: Ganado maior, ganado menor.]

[Footnote 4: The judicious Ondegardo emphatically recommends the adoption of

many of these regulations by the Spanish government, as peculiarly suited to

the exigencies of the natives. "En esto de los ganados parescio haber hecho

muchas constituciones en diferentes tiempos e algunas tan utiles e

provechosas para su conservacion que conven dria que tambien guardasen

agora." Rel. Seg., Ms.]

But the richest store of wool was obtained, not from these domesticated

animals, but from the two other species, the huanacos and the vicunas, which

roamed in native freedom over the frozen ranges of the Cordilleras; where not

unfrequently they might be seen scaling the snow-covered peaks which no

living thing inhabits save the condor, the huge bird of the Andes, whose

broad pinions bear him up in the atmosphere to the height of more than twenty

thousand feet above the level of the sea. ^5 In these rugged pastures, "the

flock without a fold" finds sufficient sustenance in the ychu, a species of

grass which is found scattered all along the great ridge of the Cordilleras,

from the equator to the southern limits of Patagonia. And as these limits

define the territory traversed by the Peruvian sheep, which rarely, if ever,

venture north of the line, it seems not improbable that this mysterious

little plant is so important to their existence, that the absence of it is

the principal reason why they have not penetrated to the northern latitudes

of Quito and New Granada. ^6

[Footnote 5: Malte-Brun, book 86.]

[Footnote 6: Ychu, called in the Flora Peruana Jarava; Class, Monandria

Digynia. See Walton, p. 17]

But, although thus roaming without a master over the boundless wastes

of the Cordilleras, the Peruvian peasant was never allowed to hunt these wild

animals, which were protected by laws as severe as were the sleek herds that

grazed on the more cultivated slopes of the plateau. The wild game of the

forest and the mountain was as much the property of the government, as if it

had been inclosed within a park, or penned within a fold. ^7 It was only on

stated occasions, at the great hunts, which took place once a year, under the

personal superintendence of the Inca or his principal officers, that the game

was allowed to be taken. These hunts were not repeated in the same quarter

of the country oftener than once in four years, that time might be allowed

for the waste occasioned by them to be replenished. At the appointed time,

all those living in the district and its neighbourhood, to the number, it

might be, of fifty or sixty thousand men, ^8 were distributed round, so as to

form a cordon of immense extent, that should embrace the whole country which

was to be hunted over. The men were armed with long poles and spears, with

which they beat up game of every description lurking in the woods, the

valleys, and the mountains, killing the beasts of prey without mercy, and

driving the others, consisting chiefly of the deer of the country, and the

huanacos and vicunas, towards the centre of the wide-extended circle; until,

as this gradually contracted, the timid inhabitants of the forest were

concentrated on some spacious plain, where the eye of the hunter might range

freely over his victims, who found no place for shelter or escape.

[Footnote 7: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim., Ms.]

[Footnote 8: Sometimes even a hundred thousand mustered, when the Inca hunted

in person, if we may credit Sarmiento. "De donde haviendose ya juntado

cinquenta o sesenta mil Personas o cien mil si mandado les era." Relacion,

Ms., cap. 13.]

The male deer and some of the coarser kind of the Peruvian sheep were

slaughtered; their skins were reserved for the various useful manufactures

to which they are ordinarily applied, and their flesh, cut into thin slices,

was distributed among the people, who converted it into charqui, the dried

meat of the country, which constituted then the sole, as it has since the

principal, animal food of the lower classes of Peru. ^9

[Footnote 9: Ibid., ubi supra.

Charqui; hence, probably, says McCulloh, the term "jerked," applied to

the dried beef of South America. Researches, p. 377.]

But nearly the whole of the sheep, amounting usually to thirty or forty

thousand, or even a larger number, after being carefully sheared, were

suffered to escape and regain their solitary haunts among the mountains. The

wool thus collected was deposited in the royal magazines, whence, in due time,

it was dealt out to the people. The coarser quality was worked up into

garments for their own use, and the finer for the Inca; for none but an Inca

noble could wear the fine fabric of the vicuna. ^10

[Footnote 10: Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms. loc. cit. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica,

cap. 81. - Garcilasso, Com. Real. Parte 1, lib. 6, cap. 6.]

The Peruvians showed great skill in the manufacture of different articles

for the royal household from this delicate material, which, under the name of

vigonia wool, is now familiar to the looms of Europe. It was wrought into

shawls, robes, and other articles of dress for the monarch, and into carpets,

coverlets, and hangings for the imperial palaces and the temples. The cloth

was finished on both sides alike; ^11 the delicacy of the texture was such as

to give it the lustre of silk; and the brilliancy of the dyes excited the

admiration and the envy of the European artisan. ^12 The Peruvians produced

also an article of great strength and durability by mixing the hair of animals

with wool; and they were expert in the beautiful feather-work, which they held

of less account than the Mexicans from the superior quality of the materials

for other fabrics, which they had at their command. ^13

[Footnote 11: Acosta, lib. 4, cap. 41.]

[Footnote 12: "Ropas finisimas para los Reyes, que lo eran tanto que parecian

de sarga de seda y con colores tan perfectos quanto se puede afirmar."

Sarmiento, Relacion, Ms., cap. 13]

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

"Ropa finissima para los senores Ingas de lana de las Vicunias. Y cierto

fue tan prima esta ropa, como auran visto en Espana: por alguna que alla fue

luego que se gano este reyno. Los vestidos destos Ingas eran camisetas desta

opa: vnas pobladas de argenteria de oro, otras de esmeraldas y piedras

preciosas: y algunas de plumas de aues: otras de solamente la manta. Para

hazer estas ropas, tuuiero y tienen tan perfetas colores de carmesi, azul,

amarillo, negro, y de otras suertes: que verdaderamente tienen ventaja a las

de Espana." Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 114.]

The natives showed a skill in other mechanical arts similar to that

displayed by their manufacturers of cloth. Every man in Peru was expected to

be acquainted with the various handicrafts essential to domestic comfort. No

long apprenticeship was required for this, where the wants were so few as

among the simple peasantry of the Incas. But, if this were all, it would

imply but a very moderate advancement in the arts. There were certain

individuals, however, carefully trained to those occupations which minister to

the demands of the more opulent classes of society. These occupations, like

every other calling and office in Peru, always descended from father to son.

^14 The division of castes, in this particular, was as precise as that which

existed in Egypt or Hindostan. If this arrangement be unfavorable to

originality, or to the development of the peculiar talent of the individual,

it at least conduces to an easy and finished execution by familiarizing the

artist with the practice of his art from childhood. ^15

[Footnote 14: Ondegardo, Rel. Prim. et Seg., Mss. - Garcillaso, Com. Real.,

Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 7, 9, 13.]

[Footnote 15: At least, such was the opinion of the Egyptians, who referred to

this arrangement of castes as the source of their own peculiar dexterity in

the arts. See Diodorus Sic., lib. 1, sec. 74.]

The royal magazines and the huacas or tombs of the Incas have been found

to contain many specimens of curious and elaborate workmanship. Among these

are vases of gold and silver, bracelets, collars, and other ornaments for the

person; utensils of every description, some of fine clay, and many more of

copper; mirrors of a hard, polished stone, or burnished silver, with a great

variety of other articles made frequently on a whimsical pattern, evincing

quite as much ingenuity as taste or inventive talent. ^16 The character of the

Peruvian mind led to imitation, in fact, rather than invention, to delicacy

and minuteness of finish, rather than to boldness or beauty of design.

[Footnote 16: Ulloa, Not. Amer., ent. 21. - Pedro Pizarro, Descub. y Conq.,

Ms. - Cieza de Leon, Cronica, cap. 114. - Condamine, Mem. ap. Hist. de l'Acad.

Royale de Berlin, tom. II. p. 454-456.

The last writer says, that a large collection of massive gold ornaments

of very rich workmanship was long preserved in the royal treasury of Quito.

But on his going there to examine them, he learned that they had just been

melted down into ingots to send to Carthagena, then besieged by the English!

The art of war can flourish only at the expense of all the other arts.]

That they should have accomplished these difficult works with such tools

as they possessed, is truly wonderful. It was comparatively easy to cast and

even to sculpture metallic substances, both of which they did with consummate

skill. But that they should have shown the like facility in cutting the

hardest substances, as emeralds and other precious stones, is not so easy to

explain. Emeralds they obtained in considerable quantity from the barren

district of Atacames, and this inflexible material seems to have been almost

as ductile in the hands of the Peruvian artist as if it had been made of clay.

^17 Yet the natives were unacquainted with the use of iron, though the soil

was largely impregnated with it. ^18 The tools used were of stone, or more

frequently of copper. But the material on which they relied for the execution

of their most difficult tasks was formed by combining a very small portion of

tin with copper. ^19 This composition gave a hardness to the metal which seems

to have been little inferior to that of steel. With the aid of it, not only

did the Peruvian artisan hew into shape porphyry and granite, but by his

patient industry accomplished works which the European would not have ventured

to undertake. Among the remains of the monuments of Cannar may be seen

movable rings in the muzzles of animals, all nicely sculptured of one entire

block of granite. ^20 It is worthy of remark, that the Egyptians, the

Mexicans, and the Peruvians, in their progress towards civilization, should

never have detected the use of iron, which lay around them in abundance; and

that they should each, without any knowledge of the other, have found a

substitute for it in such a curious composition of metals as gave to their

tools almost the temper of steel; ^21 a secret that has been lost - or, to

speak more correctly, has never been discovered - by the civilized European.

[Footnote 17: They had turquoises, also, and might have had pearls, but for

the tenderness of the Incas, who were unwilling to risk the lives of their

people in this perilous fishery! At least, so we are assured by Garcilasso,

Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 23.]

[Footnote 18: "No tenian herramientas de hierro in azero." Ondegardo, Rel.

Seg., Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec. 5, lib. 4, cap. 4.]

[Footnote 19: M. de Humboldt brought with him back to Europe one of these

metallic tools, a chisel, found in a silver mine opened by the Incas not far

from Cuzco. On an analysis, it was found to contain 0.94 of copper, and 0.06

of tin. See Vues des Cordilleres, p. 117.]

[Footnote 20: "Quoiqu'il en soit," says M. de la Condamine, "nous avons vu en

quelques autres ruines des ornemens du meme granit, qui representoient des

mufles d'animaux, dont les narines percees portoient des anneaux mobiles de la

meme pierre." Mem. ap. Hist. de l'Acad. Royale de Berlin, tom. II. p. 452.]

[Footnote 21: See the History of the Conquest of Mexico, Book 1, chap. 5.]

I have already spoken of the large quantity of gold and silver wrought

into various articles of elegance and utility for the Incas; though the amount

was inconsiderable, in comparison with what could have been afforded by the

mineral riches of the land, and with what has since been obtained by the more

sagacious and unscrupulous cupidity of the white man. Gold was gathered by

the Incas from the deposits of the streams. They extracted the ore also in

considerable quantities from the valley of Curimayo, northeast of Caxamarca,

as well as from other places; and the silver mines of Porco, in particular,

yielded them considerable returns. Yet they did not attempt to penetrate into

the bowels of the earth by sinking a shaft, but simply excavated a cavern in

the steep sides of the mountain, or, at most, opened a horizontal vein of

moderate depth. They were equally deficient in the knowledge of the best

means of detaching the precious metal from the dross with which it was united,

and had no idea of the virtues of quicksilver, - a mineral not rare in Peru, -

as an amalgam to effect this decomposition. ^22 Their method of smelting the

ore was by means of furnaces built in elevated and exposed situations, where

they might be fanned by the strong breezes of the mountains. The subjects of

the Incas, in short, with all their patient perseverance, did little more than

penetrate below the crust, the outer rind, as it were, formed over those

golden caverns which lie hidden in the dark depths of the Andes. Yet what

they gleaned from the surface was more than adequate for all their demands.

For they were not a commercial people, and had no knowledge of money. ^23 In

this they differed from the ancient Mexicans, who had an established currency

of a determinate value. In one respect, however, they were superior to their

American rivals, since they made use of weights to determine the quantity of

their commodities, a thing wholly unknown to the Aztecs. This fact is

ascertained by the discovery of silver balances, adjusted with perfect

accuracy, in some of the tombs of the Incas. ^24

[Footnote 22: Garcilasso, Com. Real., Parte 1, lib. 8, cap. 25.]

[Footnote 23: Ibid., Parte 1, lib. 5, cap. 7; lib. 6, cap. 8. - Ondegardo,

Rel. Seg., Ms.

This, which Bonaparte thought so incredible of the little island of Loo

Choo, was still more extraordinary in a great and flourishing empire like

Peru; - the country, too, which contained within its bowels the treasures that

were one day to furnish Europe with the basis of its vast metallic currency.]

[Footnote 24: Ulloa, Not. Amer., ent. 21.]

But the surest test of the civilization of a people - at least, as sure

as any - afforded by mechanical art is to be found in their architecture,

which presents so noble a field for the display of the grand and the

beautiful, and which, at the same time, is so intimately connected with the

essential comforts of life. There is no object on which the resources of the

wealthy are more freely lavished, or which calls out more effectually the

inventive talent of the artist. The painter and the sculptor may display

their individual genius in creations of surpassing excellence, but it is the

great monuments of architectural taste and magnificence that are stamped in a

peculiar manner by the genius of the nation. The Greek, the Egyptian, the

Saracen, the Gothic, - what a key do their respective styles afford to the

character and condition of the people! The monuments of China, of Hindostan,

and of Central America are all indicative of an immature period, in which the

imagination has not been disciplined by study, and which, therefore, in its

best results, betrays only the ill-regulated aspirations after the beautiful,

that belong to a semi-civilized people.

The Peruvian architecture, bearing also the general characteristics of an

imperfect state of refinement, had still its peculiar character; and so

uniform was that character, that the edifices throughout the country seem to

have been all cast in the same mould. ^25 They were usually built of porphyry

or granite; not unfrequently of brick. This, which was formed into blocks or

squares of much larger dimensions than our brick, was made of a tenacious

earth mixed up with reeds or tough grass, and acquired a degree of hardness

with age that made it insensible alike to the storms and the more trying sun

of the tropics. ^26 The walls were of great thickness, but low, seldom

reaching to more than twelve or fourteen feet in height. It is rare to meet

with accounts of a building that rose to a second story. ^27

[Footnote 25: It is the observation of Humboldt. "Il est impossible

d'examiner attentivement un seul edifice du temps des Incas, sans reconnoitre

le meme type dans tous les autres qui couvrent le dos des Andes, sur une

longueur de plus de quatre cent cinquante lieues, depuis mille jusqu'a quatre

mille metres d'elevation au-dessus du niveau de l'Ocean. On dirait qu'un seul

architecte a construit ce grand nombre de monumens." Vues des Cordilleres, p.


[Footnote 26: Ulloa, who carefully examined these bricks, suggests that there

must have been some secret in their composition, - so superior in many

respects to our own manufacture, - now lost. Not. Amer., ent. 20.]

[Footnote 27: Ibid., ubi supra.]

The apartments had no communication with one another, but usually opened

into a court; and, as they were unprovided with windows, or apertures that

served for them, the only light from without must have been admitted by the

doorways. These were made with the sides approaching each other towards the

top, so that the lintel was considerably narrower than the threshold, a

peculiarity, also, in Egyptian architecture. The roofs have for the most part

disappeared with time. Some few survive in the less ambitious edifices, of a

singular bell-shape, and made of a composition of earth and pebbles. They are

supposed, however, to have been generally formed of more perishable materials,

of wood or straw. It is certain that some of the most considerable

stone-buildings were thatched with straw. Many seem to have been constructed

without the aid of cement; and writers have contended that the Peruvians were

unacquainted with the use of mortar, or cement of any kind. ^28 But a close,

tenacious mould, mixed with lime, may be discovered filling up the interstices

of the granite in some buildings; and in others, where the well-fitted blocks

leave no room for this coarser material, the eye of the antiquary has detected

a fine bituminous glue, as hard as the rock itself. ^29

[Footnote 28: Among others, see Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 15. - Robertson, History

of America, (London, 1796,) vol. III. p. 213.]

[Footnote 29: Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms. - Ulloa, Not. Amer., ent. 21.

Humboldt, who analyzed the cement of the ancient structures at Cannar,

says that it is a true mortar, formed of a mixture of pebbles and a clayey

marl. (Vues des Cordilleres, p. 116.) Father Velasco is in raptures with an

"almost imperceptible kind of cement" made of lime and a bituminous substance

resembling glue, which incorporated with the stones so as to hold them firmly

together like one solid mass, yet left nothing visible to the eye of the

common observer. This glutinous composition, mixed with pebbles, made a sort

of Macadamized road much used by the Incas, as hard and almost as smooth as

marble. Hist. de Quito, tom. I. pp. 126-128.]

The greatest simplicity is observed in the construction of the

buildings, which are usually free from outward ornament; though in some the

huge stones are shaped into a convex form with great regularity, and adjusted

with such nice precision to one another, that it would be impossible, but for

the flutings, to determine the line of junction. In others, the stone is

rough, as it was taken from the quarry, in the most irregular forms, with the

edges nicely wrought and fitted to each other. There is no appearance of

columns or of arches; though there is some contradiction as to the latter

point. But it is not to be doubted, that, although they may have made some

approach to this mode of construction by the greater or less inclination of

the walls, the Peruvian architects were wholly unacquainted with the true

principle of the circular arch reposing on its key-stone. ^30

[Footnote 30: Condamine, Mem. ap. Hist. de l'Acad. Royale de Berlin, tom. II.

p. 448. - Antig. y Monumentos del Peru, Ms. - Herrera, Hist. General, dec.

5, lib 4, cap. 4. - Acosta, lib. 6, cap. 14. - Ulloa, Voyage to S. America,

vol. I. p 469. - Ondegardo, Rel. Seg., Ms.]

The architecture of the Incas is characterized, says an eminent

traveller, "by simplicity, symmetry and solidity." ^31 It may seem

unphilosophical to condemn the peculiar fashion of a nation as indicating

want of taste, because its standard of taste differs from our own. Yet there

is an incongruity in the composition of the Peruvian buildings which argues

a very imperfect acquaintance with the first principles of architecture.

While they put together their bulky masses of porphyry and granite with the

nicest art, they were incapable of mortising their timbers, and, in their

ignorance of iron, knew no better way of holding the beams together than

tying them with thongs of maguey. In the same incongruous spirit, the

building that was thatched with straw, and unilluminated by a window, was

glowing with tapestries of gold and silver! These are the inconsistencies

of a rude people, among whom the arts are but partially developed. It might

not be difficult to find examples of like inconsistency in the architecture

and domestic arrangements of our Anglo-Saxon, and, at a still later period,

of our Norman ancestors.

[Footnote 31: "Simplicite, symetrie, et solidite, voila les trois caracteres

par lesquels se distinguent avantageusement tous les edifices peruviens.'

Humboldt, Vues des Cordilleres, p. 115.]

Yet the buildings of the Incas were accommodated to the character of the

climate, and were well fitted to resist those terrible convulsions which

belong to the land of volcanoes. The wisdom of their plan is attested by the

number which still survive, while the more modern constructions of the

Conquerors have been buried in ruins. The hand of the Conquerors, indeed, has

fallen heavily on these venerable monuments, and, in their blind and

superstitious search for hidden treasure, has caused infinitely more ruin than

time or the earthquake. ^32 Yet enough of these monuments still remain to

invite the researches of the antiquary. Those only in the most conspicuous

situations have been hitherto examined. But, by the testimony of travellers,

many more are to be found in the less frequented parts of the country; and we

may hope they will one day call forth a kindred spirit of enterprise to that

which has so successfully explored the mysterious recesses of Central America

and Yucatan.

[Footnote 32: The anonymous author of the Antig. y Monumentos del Peru, Ms.,

gives us, at second hand, one of those golden traditions which, in early

times, fostered the spirit of adventure. The tradition, in this instance, he

thinks well entitled to credit. The reader will judge for himself.

"It is a well-authenticated report, and generally received, that there is

a secret hall in the fortress of Cuzco, where an immense treasure is

concealed, consisting of the statues of all the Incas, wrought in gold. A

lady is still living, Dona Maria de Esquivel, the wife of the last Inca, who

has visited this hall, and I have heard her relate the way in which she was

carried to see it.

"Don Carlos, the lady's husband, did not maintain a style of living

becoming his high rank. Dona Maria sometimes reproached him, declaring that

she had been deceived into marrying a poor Indian under the lofty title of

Lord or Inca. She said this so frequently, that Don Carlos one night

exclaimed, 'Lady! do you wish to know whether I am rich or poor? You shall

see that no lord nor king in the world has a larger treasure than I have.'

Then covering her eyes with a handkerchief he made her turn round two or three

times, and, taking her by the hand, led her a short distance before he removed

the bandage. On opening her eyes, what was her amazement! She had gone not

more than two hundred paces, and descended a short flight of steps, and she

now found herself in a large quadrangular hall, where, ranged on benches round

the walls, she beheld the statues of the Incas, each of the size of a boy

twelve years old, all of massive gold! She saw also many vessels of gold and

silver. 'In fact,' she said, 'it was one of the most magnificent treasures in

the whole world!'"]

I cannot close this analysis of the Peruvian institutions without a few

reflections on their general character and tendency, which, if they involve

some repetition of previous remarks, may, I trust, be excused, from my desire

to leave a correct and consistent impression on the reader. In this survey,

we cannot but be struck with the total dissimilarity between these

institutions and those of the Aztecs, - the other great nation who led in the

march of civilization on this western continent, and whose empire in the

northern portion of it was as conspicuous as that of the Incas in the south.

Both nations came on the plateau, and commenced their career of conquest, at

dates, it may be, not far removed from each other. ^33 And it is worthy of

notice, that, in America, the elevated region along the crests of the great

mountain ranges should have been the chosen seat of civilization in both


[Footnote 33: Ante, chap. 1.]

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