Abbildungen der Seite

those estates which formerly belonged to his family, and which he himself might, or ought to have possessed.

2. This, with other causes of chagrin, which he daily experienced, determined him to leave Spain. The resource, in those cases, is generallyto repair to America; and his remaining friends procured him an establishment at Lima, that was not only lucrative in itself, but afforded him great opportunities of trading to the Manillas from Acapulco, and to Europe by means of the galleons, which sailed between Lima and Old Spain.

3. In a few years after his arrival in Peru, he found himself in a very affluent and desirable situation. The income which arose from his office and mercantile pursuits, was quite suffi. cient to defray the charges of living in a sumptuous and magnificent style, and by which he enjoyed all the pleasures that a country, favoured by the most powerful influences of the sun, can afford.

1. For this purpose, he bought an elegant villa near the city of Cruso, about 180 miles from Lima, to which he frequently retired. It was situated on a plain, that, by a gentle descent to the westward, terminated on the banks of the lake Titiaca. To the eastward, at five miles distance, was seen part of the chain of lofty mountains which is called the Andes ; and the intervening space was filled by lofty woods, with plains between, so disposed as to make a very picturesque appearance. This district was perfectly adapted, either for the diversion of shooting, or other pleasures of contemplation ; and here Mendez usually amused himself with one or the other, as inclination prompted him.

5. An illiberal prejudice has, in too many instances, fixed upon nations the odium which the crimes of individuals have merited. The Spaniards are said to be cruel, because a set of wretches, whose vices had rendered their fortunes desperate in Europe, were banished upon a kind of forlorn expedition, to make discoveries upon a new continent.

6. The event surpassed expectation ; and those men, whom the fear of punishment had not kept within bounds, when in Europe, did not scruple in America to commit the most horrid crimes. But they perpetrated these crimes not more or less because they were Spaniards, but because they were bad men. Had they been Englishmen, who is there so hardy as to pretend that they would have been more humane? It is a degradation from human nature to say, that a cruel, perfidious, or an unprincipled nation exists; and the case is sufficiently deplorable,

[ocr errors]


when we are obliged to confess, that in all nations there are too many individuals who deserve those epithets.

7. The seeds of humanity and good sense were so strongly implanted in the mind of Mendez, that neither example nor argument could prevail on him to look upon slaves in any other light than as men; and, as men in misfortune, he concluded they had a right to his attention and regard. Sentiments like these could not fail of producing their effect. With pleasure he saw that those poor people, whom fortune had placed under his command, were possessed of hearts capable of glowing with the sincerest gratitude for the smallest indulgencemindulgences which their hard lot had taught them how to value; and they, on the contrary, inured to and expecting severe usage, almost adored the man who treated them in so different a man

and whose benevolence seemed to be interested in all their little concerns.

8. Love and gratitude wrought more powerfully among his slaves, than the fear of punishment ever does among those who are subjected to masters less intelligent and humane. No punishment was ever heard of amongst them but one, and that appeared so dreadful, that it was more than sufficient to keep the most refractory in awe. This was less than a dismission from his service; and they who were incapable of judging of any thing else, could yet readily perceive the disadvantage of exchanging his service for that of another.

9. Mendez had occasion to increase the number of his slaves : he repaired to the usual market at Lima, purchased as many as he intended, and was passing by the rest, when he heard the strokes of a whip at a small distance. He turned and observed a Spaniard who was severely lashing a Peruvian, who seemed to be between fifty and sixty years of age. This sight, though afflicting to Mendez, was too common to have engaged his particular attention, if the behaviour of the sufferer had not been too remarkable to be overlooked.

10. He regarded his tormentor with a kind of fixed contempt, that seemed to absorb his other ideas, and, at least to appearance, rendered him insensible even of pain. My friend,' said Mendez to the Spaniard, 'what has the man done, that you must punish him in the market-place ?' He will not acknowledge me bis master,' replied the Spaniard, overheated with rage, and the diabolical exercise he had been at, he does not deserve to live. I will let you know,' continued he, turning to the slave, whose calm intrepidity ad-ded fuel to his passion, 'I will let you know that all men

were not born free, and that dogs like you ought to rejoice to serve.'

11. The slave took no other notice than by a smile, so sarcastic, that the Spaniard could not but feel his inferiority to the very man whom he was loading with injuries. • Is he to be sold?' demanded Mendez— Yes, if any body will buy him, replied the other, but he so contrives to give such saucy and impertinent answers to all who speak to him, that though I have brought him here three successive market days, I stand no more chance of selling him than at first.' • What are his faults,' demanded Mendcz, that you are so particularly intent upon selling him ? 'Why, to tell you the truth,' answered the Spaniard, “he is a very good slave, and can do very well if he will; but he is not broke to servitude and slavery yet, and I do not like the trouble, that is all ; so, if you like him, you shall have him a bargain.'

12. Mendez then accosted the slave, and asked him if he was willing to serve him. • To serve you!' replied the slave, in a tone in which surprise and derision were united ;

are you willing to serve me? God and nature have made us equa!: why should I become your slave? I must submit to force ; but never, never will I consent to serve the detested race of those who overthrew the Incas, my progenitors. Oh, Atabalipa! and ye immortal shades who now reside in bliss with the sun your father, hear me, ye renowned spirits! I pant to be with you, that I may see in the Book of Fate the plagues, the tenfold curses, that are preparing for the perfidious and blood thirsty Spaniards ! May the swift vengeance of heaven overtake them, and exterminate the devoted race !!

13. Mendez shuddered with horrour at his imprecation, but, notwithstanding, interrupted him. If, as you say, you must submit to force, you must consent that the man who calls himself your master, do transfer his right to me. Perhaps the change may be to your advantage ; worse it can scarcely be.' So saying, he paid the Spaniard his demand, and delivered Harmona, for that was the name of the slave, in charge to his servants, to be taken home among his other servants.

14. Mendez dined that day at the Viceroy's, and stayed rather late ; but the next morning he ordered Harmona to be brought to him. He entered, and Mendez commanded his ser vants to retire. • Harmona," said he, • I was yesterday apprized of your unhappy fortune, by a gentleman at the Vicepoy's, who informed me that you were the chief of a party of

Consider your

Indians at war with us, and that your company had been taken prisoners, and publicly sold.

15. I have long been of opinion ihat, by mild methods, your clans might be brought to think better of the Spaniards in general, and that a mutual treaty of amity would tend much to promote the welfare of both nations. But private opinion, and private influence, can avail but little against general customs and prejudices, however ill-founded : yet, though I can but little promote the general good, it is a pleasure, a happiness to me, when an opportunity occurs of alleviating the distresses of particulars. From this instant you are free. self as no longer in slavery.'

16. Description is unequal to the task of conveying an adequate idea of Harmona's look and appearance, while Mendez was speaking. He seemed the statue of amazement; and when Mendez was silent, he appeared as if he had just awoke from a dream. Is it possible,' exclaimed he, the tear of affection stealing down his cheek, is it possible that a Spaniard can think and feel for the woes of a Peruvian ? Have they sympathetic hearts ? Ah, no! it cannot be! Heaven, to show that nothing is beyond its power, has formed one benevolent and humane! Forgive me, then, ye illustrious shades ! ye mighty dead ! if I forget your wrongs, and love that one Spaniard !

17. • Hear me, Harmona, interrupted Mendez, 'mankind is every where the same ; the bad are intermixed with the good, and their number is but too considerable ; yet we are not thence to conclude that all are bad. It was unhappy for Peru and Mexico, that the Spaniards who conquered them, were des. titute of humanity ; but, believe me, the rest of the nation hold them in detestation and abhorrence ; lay aside your prejudices, and permit me to assure you, that there are hundreds amongst us, who would be glad to do you that good office you so much admire in me.'

18. The mind of the Peruvian was open to conviction, and he acquiesced in the sentiments of Mendez He staid at Lima a short time, and then became impatient to return to his own country. Mendez offered to provide him with conveniences for the journey, but he would accept of nothing more than a Peruvian habit, with a fowling piece and some ammunition. « Farewell!' said he, taking his benefactor by the hand, • I shall never see you again, but I shall always remember


with love and gratitude. The infants of our nation shall lisp your name, and it shall be repeated to our venerable fathers, when we sacrifice at the Rock of Morsan.' He parted, with a heart sur

charged with affection, and left Mendez to the enjoyment of that satisfaction, which arises from the exercise of virtue.

19. At the beginning of the following year, Mendez was at his country house near Cusco. One morning, as he was riding alone through the vast tract of wood, which covers the foot of the Andes, he strayed beyond his usual limits, and found himself in a grove, the beauty of which enchanted him. The eye was captivated with a profusion of vivid plants, unknown to colder climates : the orange, plantain, and the beauteous anana, diffused an enlivening fragrance; and at a distance, through the trees, appeared a cascade, which, after foaming over a rocky descent, was precipitated into a lake below. The sublime and beautiful were united in this pleasing scene, and Mendez felt his affection expand to the immense Author of Nature. That animating enthusiasm of which great minds alone are capable, that admits the soul as it were, into an immediate converse with the Deity, had taken possession of his faculties.

O thou, immortal source of loveliness,
How shall I speak thy praise : thou great perfection !
How infinite! beyond that narrow grasp
Of all created being-The universe,
The vast expanded frame of animation,
All, all united, never can express
Thy boundless attributes! For thou thyself,

Thou only know'st, and canst declare thy praise ! 20. As Mendez repeated these lines, ten armed Peruvians rushed out of a thicket and seized him. They immediately killed his mule, and threw the carcass into the lake ; and afte tying the hands of Mendez, they led him away in triumpb, through a variety of passes, into the inmost recesses of the mountains. They travelled till evening, when they at length arrived at a cultivated plain of about four leagues in circumference, which was quite environed with lofty mountains. The tribes came forth to meet them. They testified their joy at an accident which afforded a captive Spaniard to sacrifice at the tomb of Quimato. They led him with shouts and clamours to their temple. It was a rude edifice, built with stones of an enormous magnitude. The unhappy Mendez was stretched upon the altar; and the priest, with a ferocious and malignant joy, prepared the fatal knife. 21. Wretch!' said the hoary murderer,

now shalt thou feel some of those intolerable pangs which thy accursed race have inflicted on the children of the sun; now shall thy sinews shrink from the scorching flames, and thy flesb quiver beneath

« ZurückWeiter »