Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

wårs, which lasted for more than forty-five years, and in which millions of human beings were sacrificed to the demon of war; the slaughter and ravages produced by the jealousy and ambition of Cæsar and Pompey; the terrible desolations and carnage produced throughout Asia and Africa by Mahomet and his ferocious disciples, while they were laying waste cities without number, and cutting in pieces all the enemies of Islamism; the commotions, assassinations, murders, and contests which happened during the reign of the Roman Emperors; the pillage of Rome by the barbarous Alaric, when the streets and houses were deluged with blood, the buildings enveloped in flames, the monuments of ancient grandeur overturned and the soldiery raged and ravaged with all the ferocity of infernal demons; the irruption of the Goths and Vandals, who rushed like a torrent into the Roman Empire, who respected neither rank, age nor sex, who covered the earth with carnage, and whose route was uniformly marked with desolation and with blood; the incursions of the Scythians who rushed with irresistible impulse on western Europe, exterminating the inhabitants wherever they came, and threatening almost total destruction to the human race; the ravages of Jenghis Khan, the most bloody conqueror that ever, existed, who, in twenty-two years, destroyed fifteen millions of human beings, and transformed their countries into hideous deserts; the mad expeditions of the Crusaders, who went forth by millions along the eastern parts of Europe, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the inhabitants of Asia; the ferocious and fiendlike wars of the Turks against Christian nations—these, and thousands of similar scenes of atrocity and plunder which have entailed misery and destruction on hundreds of millions of the human race, are to be attributed to the insatiable lust of covetousness, when pandering to the purposes of ambition and worldly aggrandizement.

In the wars of modern times, and in the numerous expeditions which have been undertaken for the discovery and colonization of new countries, the same avaricious principles have been almost uniformly dis

played. No 'sooner' had Columbus discovered a pors tion of the Western World than the cursed love of gold began to absorb the whole attention of his followers. No desire to confer benefits on the natives, who almost adored them, seems ever to have entered their breasts*;» but, on the other hand, they displayed every species of perfidy, inhumanity and injustice; and, inflicted every kind of cruelty on the Indians if they could but 'extort from them the golden treasures they possessed. As if the acquisition of gold had been the great end of human existence, their whole faculties and exertions were directed to this object. They went from one part of the island on which they had landed to another; they sailed eastward and westward, and from one island to another; and wherever they went, their sole inquiry was for the mountains and vales where gold was to be obtained. The island Hispaniola was the earliest settlement of the Spaniards in the New World, on account of the quantity of gold it supplied. · They forced its inhabitants, as so many slaves, to dig this object of their avarice out of the bowels of the earth, and when the source of it was dried up, they exterminated the natives by a series of barbarities more shocking than ever before disgraced the history of man. Of two millions of inhabitants which the island contained when discovered by Columbus in 1492, scarcely -150 were alive in 1545, only about fifty years afterwards. The conquest of Mexico by Cortez and his followers, impelled by an insatiable lust for gold, was accompanied with horrors, atrocities and slaughters more dreadful and revolting than almost any other scenes recorded in the annals of our race. To prepare the way for enjoying the plunder they had in view, the unoffending Indians were butchered by thousands, and their towns laid in ruins.

Throughout the whole of their progress, their route was marked with perfidy, injustice, carnage and deeds of atrocious cruelty. On one occasion, sixty Caciques or leaders of the Mexican empire, and 400 nobles were burned alive with the utmost coolness and deliberation, and to complete the horrors of the scene, the children and relations of the wretched victims were assembled

and compelled to be spectators of their dying agonies. On another occasion, when the inhabitants of the city of Mexico were celebrating a festival, and all the people, particularly the nobles, were dressed in their richest decorations, under the pretence of an intended conspiracy-the Spaniards, in order to glut their avarice, fell upon the unthinking Mexicans, slaughtered 2000 of the nobles, and stripped their dead bodies of all their valuable ornaments. Every right was violated which is generally held sacred even by hostile nations. On

every trivial occasion the Indians were massacred in great numbers, their lands apportioned among the Spaniards, the inhabitants reduced to slaves, and forced to work without payment at all their public works, while the officers distributed into different provinces, faithfully imitated their avaricious commander in all his excesses and barbarities. In the siege of Mexico alone, no less than a hundred thousand of the natives fell by the sword, besides those who perished by famine and other causes connected with warfare. And all these revolting scenes were produced in violation of every moral principle, merely to gratify the unbounded desires of sordid minds for the unsatisfying treasures of gold and silver. And while they had the effrontery and impiety to elevate the standard of the Cross and to implore the God of armies to assist them in their conquests, no means were ever used to meliorate either the physical or moral condition of those whom they had so cruelly plundered. But God, whose laws they . had so wantonly violated, caused them to suffer a just retribution, as å punishment for their enormities and their avaricious desires. For numbers of them were butchered by the enraged Mexicans in their retreat from the capital, and those who were taken alive were carried off in triumph to the temples and sacrificed with all the cruelties which revenge could invent, to the God of war,—while their companions at a distance, heard their dismal screams and piteous lamentations. Many of them so overloaded themselves with bars of gold as retarded their flight, so that they fell ignominiously, the victims of their abominable avarice, and a great part

of the gold and treasures they expected from their çonquests, was commanded by their enemies to be thrown into the lake. Such are the effects of the operation of that detestable passion which has so long degraded the character of man, and which tramples under foot every principle of virtue, and every dictate of justice and humanity.

The same atrocities were committed, and the same execrable propensities displayed in the expedition of Pizarro and his followers for the conquest of Peru. In order to glut their avarice by plundering the golden treasures of this country, the basest treachery, and the most cold blooded cruelties, were exercised. Under profession of amity, they seized upon the Inca or Emperor of the country, who had received them in a friendly manner, and had commanded his attendants to offer the strangers no injury; and butchered, with deliberate and unrelenting fury, above 4,000 of his attendants, who never offered the least resistance ; after which they passed the night in the most extravagant exultation, at the greatness of the plunder they had acquired from the bodies of the slain. The Inca, in order to regain his liberty, promised them as many vessels of gold as would fill an apartment twenty-two feet long, sixteen wide and eight high ; and after having despatched messengers throughout his kingdom to collect the promised treasures, he had fulfilled his engagement-they not long after, under the most ridiculous pretences, condemned him to be burned alive. The booty they obtained by such atrocious deeds, amounted to more than two millions of pounds sterling. The day appointed for the partition of this enormous sum was the festival of St. James, the patron saint of Spain ; and, although assembled to divide the spoils of an innocent people, procured by deceit, extortion, and cruelty, they had the impiety and audacity to commence the transaction with a solemn invocation of the name of God, as if they had expected the benediction of Heaven in distributing those wages of iniquity. Such was the commencement and such the progress of the expedition by which the empire of Peru was subjugated

to the dominion of Spain. A curse has rested upon the wealth which was thus procured; and the nation that sanctioned such injustice and atrocities, has, in the just providence of God, suffered the punishment due to its cruelties and avarice. Instead of being enriched by such treasures, it has been impoverished. That very wealth which its inhabitants so ardently desired, and for the acquisition of which they violated every principle of religion and morality, laid the foundation of Spanish indolence, checked the increase of population, prevented the exertions of industry in the improvement of agriculture, manufactures and commerce, which are the only true sources of wealth, and has reduced their country from one of the most powerful and wealthy of European kingdoms, to a state of comparative poverty. The wars which have, of late years, been carried on in that country, and in its former colonies, and the commotions and massacres which are at this moment taking place, may be considered as part of the punishment for national offences, inflicted by Him who“ visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation”-thus, by a kind of retributive justice, avenging the many innocent nations which were ravaged by their forefathers on the continent of Amer. ica.

Another mode in which Covetousness has displayed its malignity is, the Traffic in slaves. Among the circumstances connected with this trade, are found whatever is dark in treachery, odious in cruelty, or horrible in war,—whatever afflicts the body or degrades and tortures the soul. It is a traffic which has suffocated thousands of human beings in the cells of a floating dungeon, plunged ten thousands into a watery grave, and doomed the survivors to long years of captivity and sorrow, under the lash of relentless task-masters--a traffic which has produced wars and massacres of every description, torn asunder the most endearing ties, trampled under foot every dictate of justice and humanity, transformed civilized men into infernal fiends, and embodied in it whatever has been feared or imagined in the cup of human woe. Yet this infernal traffic

« AnteriorContinuar »