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Title: Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by the Native Religions of Mexico and Peru
Author: Réville, Albert
Language: English
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    ON THE

    IN APRIL AND MAY, 1884.





    [_All Rights reserved._]

    178, STRAND.





    Importance of the history of Religion                               1

    The religions of Mexico and Peru, and the special importance
    of studying them                                                    7

    Journey to another planet                                           8

    Parallelism of religious history in the New World and in
    the Old                                                             9

    Central America and Mexico, and the authorities as to their
    history and religion                                               14

    Area and general character of this civilization                    18

    The Mayas                                                          20

    Toltecs, Chichimecs and Aztecs                                     24

    The Aztec empire                                                   29

    Character of the religious conceptions common to Central
    America and Mexico                                                 35

    The serpent-god and the American cross                             38

    Estimate of the character and significance of the parallelisms
    observed                                                           39




    The Sun and Moon                                                   45

    The pyramidal Mexican temples                                      47

    The great temple of the city of Mexico                             48

    The narrative of Bernal Diaz; and the two great Aztec deities,
    Uitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca                                    51

    Mythical significance of Uitzilopochtli                            54

    Significance of Tezcatlipoca                                       60

    The serpent-god Quetzalcoatl, god of the east wind                 62

    Netzalhuatcoyotl, the philosopher-king of Tezcuco                  69

    Number of Mexican deities                                          70

    Tlaloc, god of rain                                                71

    Centeotl, goddess of maize                                         72

    Xiuhtecutli, god of fire                                           74

    The Mexican Venus                                                  75

    Other deities                                                      76

    The Tepitoton                                                      77

    Mictlan, god of the dead                                           78

    Summary and reflections                                            79




    Recapitulation                                                     85

    Original meaning of sacrifice                                      86

    Human sacrifices and cannibalism                                   87

    Importance attached to the suffering of the victims                90

    Tragic and cruel character of the Mexican sacrifices               91

    The victims of Tezcatlipoca and Centeotl                           93

    The children of Tlaloc                                             96

    The roasted victims of the god of fire                             97

    Mexican asceticism                                                 99

    Mexican "communion"                                               101

    Religious ethics                                                  102

    The priesthood                                                    106

    Convents, monks and nuns of ancient Mexico                        109

    Mexican cosmogonies                                               112

    The great jubilee                                                 116

    The future life                                                   118

    Conversion of the Mexicans                                        121

    The Inquisition                                                   122

    Conclusion                                                        123




    The Peru of the Incas                                             127

    Cortes and Pizarro                                                131

    The Inca hierocracy                                               132

    The Quipos                                                        134

    Authorities for the history and religion of Peru                  136

    Garcilasso el Inca de la Vega                                     137

    Peruvian civilization                                             139

    Huayna Capac's taxation                                           142

    Social, political and military organization of Peru               143

    Education                                                         152

    Material well-being                                               153

    The legend of the Incas: Manco Capac and Mama Ogllo               156

    Were the Incas really the sole civilizers of Peru?                159

    Succession of the Incas and character of their rule               160

    Free-thinking Incas                                               161

    Huayna Capac's departure from traditional maxims                  166




    Recapitulation                                                    171

    Atahualpa and Pizarro                                             172

    Father Valverde's discourse                                       174

    Atahualpa's imprisonment and death                                176

    Inca pretenders                                                   179

    Worship of the Sun and Moon                                       182

    Viracocha, god of fertilizing showers                             184

    His consort, Mama Cocha                                           186

    Old Peruvian hymn                                                 187

    Pachacamac, god of internal fire                                  188

    The myth of Pacari Tambo                                          191

    Cuycha, the rainbow                                               194

    Chasca, the planet Venus                                          194

    Worship of fire                                                   195

    Worship of the thunder                                            196

    Worship of esculent plants                                        197

    Worship of animals                                                198

    The Huacas                                                        199

    Peruvian priesthood                                               202

    The Virgins of the Sun                                            204

    Punishment of faithless nuns                                      206

    Independent parallelisms, illustrated by the "couvade"            208




    Peruvian temples                                                  215

    Sacrifices                                                        218

    Columns of the Sun                                                222

    Hymns                                                             223

    Religious dances                                                  224

    The four great festivals                                          225

    Chasing the evil spirit                                           227

    Occasional and minor festivals                                    229

    Eclipses                                                          230

    Sorcerers and priests                                             230

    Moral significance of the Peruvian religion                       232

    Communion, baptism and sacerdotal confession                      233

    Various ideas as to the future life                               235

    Supay, the god of the departed                                    237

    Conversion of the Peruvians                                       239

    Are the origins of the American civilizations to be sought in
    the Old World?                                                    241

    Real significance and importance of analogies observed            243

    Sacrifice                                                         245

    Three stages of religious faith: animistic nature-worship,
    anthropomorphic polytheism and spiritual monotheism               246

    The genesis of the temple                                         249

    Primitive independence and subsequent mutual interpenetration
    of religion and morals                                            250

    Human nature invincibly religious                                 252

    The guiding principle                                             254

    Farewell                                                          255


    P. 16, _note_, under _Acosta_, add, "E[dward] G[rimstone]'s
    translation was edited, with notes, for the Hakluyt Society, by
    Clements R. Markham, in 1880."

    P. 17, _note_, lines 4 and 5, to "English translation" add "in

       "   lines 8 and 9, for "Ixtilxochitl" read "Ixtlilxochitl."

       "   line 7 from below, for "note" read "notes."

    P. 32, line 10 from below, for "bases" read "basis."

    P. 34, line 1, for "lama" read "llama."

    P. 35, last line, insert "and" after "America."

    P. 77, _note_, last line, for "caps." read "capp."

    P. 92, line 9 from below, omit "to" before "which."

    P. 113, _note_, last line, for "Chichemeca" read "Chichimeca."

    P. 129, line 3, for "East to West" read "West to East."

    P. 224, _note_, for "_Rivero y Tschudi_, l.c." read "_Rivero y
    Tschudi_: Antigüedades Peruanas: Viena, 1851." N. B. An English
    translation of this work by F. L. Hawks appeared at New York
    in 1853.




My first duty is to acknowledge the signal honour which the Hibbert
Trustees have done me in inviting me to follow such a series of eminent
men as the previous occupiers of this Chair, and to address you, in the
free and earnest spirit of truth-loving and impartial research, on those
great questions of religious history which so justly pre-occupy the
chosen spirits of European society. Our age is not, as is sometimes
said, an age of positive science and of industrial discoveries alone,
but also, and in a very high degree, an age of criticism and of history.
It is to history, indeed, more than to anything else, that it looks for
the lights which are to guide it in resolving the grave difficulties
presented by the problems of the hour, in politics, in organization, and
in social and religious life. Penetrated more deeply than the century
that preceded it by the truth that the development of humanity is not
arbitrary, that the law of continuity is no less rigorously applicable
to the successive evolutions of the human mind than to the animal and
vegetable transformations of the physical world, it perceives that the
present can be no other than the expansion of germs contained in the
past; it attempts to pierce to the very essence of spiritual realities
by investigating the methods and the laws of their historical
development; it strives, here as elsewhere, to separate the permanent
from the transient, the substance from the accident, and is urged on in
these laborious researches by no mere dilettante curiosity, but rather
by the hope of arriving at a more accurate knowledge of all that is
true, all that is truly precious, all that can claim, as the pure truth,
our deliberate adhesion and our love. And in the domain of Religion,
more especially, we can never lose our confidence that, if historical
research may sometimes compel us to sacrifice illusions, or even beliefs
that have been dear to us, it gives us in return the right to walk in
the paths of the Eternal with a firmer step, and reveals with growing
clearness the marvellous aspiration of humanity towards a supreme
reality, mysterious, nay incomprehensible, and yet in essential affinity
with itself, with its ideal, with its all that is purest and sublimest.
The history of religion is not only one of the branches of human
knowledge, but a prophecy as well. After having shown us whence we come
and the path we have trodden, it shadows forth the way we have yet to
go, or at the very least it effects the orientation by which we may know
in which direction it lies.

Gentlemen, in these Lectures I shall be loyal to the principles of
impartial scholarship to which I understand this Chair to be
consecrated. Expect neither theological controversy nor dogmatic
discussion of any kind from me. It is as a historian that I am here, and
as a historian I shall speak. Only let me say at once, that, while
retaining my own very marked preferences, I place religion itself, as a
faculty, an attribute, a tendency natural to the human mind, above all
the forms, even the most exalted, which it has assumed in time and
space. I can conceive a _Templum Serenum_ where shall meet in that love
of truth, which at bottom is but one of the forms of love of God, all
men of upright heart and pure will. To me, religion is a natural
property and tendency, and consequently an innate need of the human
spirit. That spirit, accidentally and in individual cases, may indeed be
deprived of it; but if so, it is incomplete, mutilated, crippled. But
observe that the recognition of religion itself (in distinction from the
varied forms it may assume), as a natural tendency and essential need of
the human mind, implies the reality of its object, even if that sacred
object should withdraw itself from our understanding behind an
impenetrable veil, even could we say nothing concerning it save this one
word: IT IS! For it would be irrational to the last degree to lay down
the existence of such a need and such a tendency, and yet believe that
the need corresponds to nothing, that the tendency has no goal.
Religious history, by bringing clearly into light the universality, the
persistency and the prodigious intensity of religion in human life, is
therefore, to my mind, one unbroken attestation to God.

And now it remains for me to express my lively regret that I am unable
to address you in your own tongue. I often read your authors: I profit
much by them. But I have emphatically not received the gift of tongues.
By such an audience as I am now addressing, I am sure to be understood
if I speak my mother-tongue; but were I to venture on mutilating yours,
I should instantly become completely unintelligible! Let me throw
myself, then, upon your kind indulgence.


I am about to speak to you on a subject little known in general, though
it has already been studied very closely by specialists of great
merit--I mean the religions professed in Mexico and Peru when, in the
sixteenth century, a handful of Spanish adventurers achieved that
conquest, almost like a fairy tale, which still remains one of the most
extraordinary chapters of history. But I shall perhaps do well at the
outset briefly to explain the very special importance of these now
vanished religions.

The intrinsic interest of all the strange, original, dramatic and even
grotesque features that they present to the historian, is in itself
sufficiently great; for they possessed beliefs, institutions, and a
developed mythology, which would bear comparison with anything known to
antiquity in the Old World. But we have another very special and weighty
reason for interesting ourselves in these religions of a
demi-civilization, brusquely arrested in its development by the European

To render this motive as clear as possible, allow me a supposition.
Suppose, then, that by a miracle of human genius we had found means of
transporting ourselves to one of the neighbouring planets, Mars or Venus
for example, and had found it to be inhabited, like our earth, by
intelligent beings. As soon as we had satisfied the first curiosity
excited by those physical and visible novelties which the planetary
differences themselves could not fail to produce, we should turn with
re-awakened interest to ask a host of such questions as the following:
Do these intelligent inhabitants of Mars or Venus reason and feel as we
do? Have they history? Have they religion? Have they politics, arts,
morals? And if it should happen that after due examination we found
ourselves able to answer all these questions affirmatively, can you not
imagine what interest there would be in comparing the history, politics,
arts, morals and religion of these beings with our own? And if we found
that the same fundamental principles, the same laws of evolution and
transformation, the same internal logic, had asserted itself in Mars, in
Venus and on the Earth, is it not clear that the fact would constitute a
grand confirmation of our theories as to the fundamental identity of
spiritual being, the conditions of its individual and collective
genesis--in a word, the universal character of the laws of mind?

And now consider this. For the Europeans of the early sixteenth century,
America, especially continental America, was absolutely equivalent to
another planet upon which, thanks to the presaging genius of Christopher
Columbus, the men of the Old World had at last set foot. At first they
only found certain islands inhabited by men of another type and another
colour than their own, still close upon the savage state. But before
long they had reason to suspect that immense regions stretched to the
west of the archipelago of the Antilles; they ventured ashore, and
returned with a vague notion that there existed in the interior of the
unknown continent mighty empires, whose wealth and military organization
severed them widely indeed from the poor tribes of St. Domingo or Cuba,
whom they had already discovered and had so cruelly oppressed. It was
then that a bold captain conceived the apparently insane project of
setting out with a few hundred men to conquer what passed for the
richest and most powerful of these empires. His success demanded not
only all his courage, but all his cold cruelty and absolute
unscrupulousness, together with those favours which fortune sometimes
reserves for audacity. At any rate he succeeded, and the rumours that
had inflamed his imagination turned out to be true. On his way he came
upon great cities, upon admirably cultivated lands, upon a complete
social and military organization. He saw an unknown religion display
itself before his eyes. There were temples, sacrifices, magnificent
ceremonies. There were priests, there were convents, there were monks
and nuns. To his profound amazement, he noticed the cross carved upon a
great number of religious edifices, and saw a goddess who bore her
infant in her arms. The natives had rites which closely recalled the
Christian baptism and the Christian communion. As for our captain,
neither he nor his contemporaries could see anything in all this parade
of a religion, now so closely approaching, now so utterly remote, from
their own, but a gigantic ruse of the devil, who had led these unhappy
natives astray in order to secure their worship. But for us, who know
that the devil cannot help us to the genesis of ancient mythologies and
ancient religions--who know likewise that the social and religious
development of Central America was in the strictest sense native and
original, and that all attempts to bring it into connection with a
supposed earlier intercourse with Asia or Europe have failed--the
question presents itself under a very different aspect. In our Old
World, the natural religious development of man has produced myths and
mythologies, sacrificial rites and priesthoods, temples, ascetics, gods
and goddesses; and on the basis of the Old World's experience we might
already feel entitled to say, "Such are the steps and stages of
religious evolution; such were the processes of the human spirit before
the appearance of the higher religions which are in some sort grafted
upon their elder sisters, and have in their turn absorbed or
spiritualized them." But there would still be room to ask whether all
this development had been natural and spontaneous, whether successive
imitations linking one contiguous people to another had not transformed
some local and isolated phenomenon into an apparently general and
international fact--much as took place with the use of tea or
cotton--without our being compelled to recognize any necessary law of
human development in it. But what answer is possible to the argument
furnished by the discovery of the new planet--I mean to say of America?
How can we resist this evidence that the whole organism of mythologies,
gods, goddesses, sacrifices, temples and priesthoods, while varying
enormously from race to race and from nation to nation, yet, wherever
human beings are found, develops itself under the same laws, the same
principles and the same methods of deduction; that, in a word, given
human nature anywhere, its religious development is reared on the same
identical bases and passes through the same phases?

Mr. Max Müller, one of my most honoured masters, and one of those who
have best deserved the gratitude of the learned world, has declared,
with equal justice and penetration, in his Preface to Mr. Wyatt Gill's
"Myths and Songs," that the possibility of studying the Polynesian
mythology is to the historian what an opportunity of spending a time in
the midst of the plesiosauri and the megatherions would be to the
zoologist, or of walking in the shade of the vast arborescent ferns that
lie buried under our present soil to the botanist. Polynesian mythology
has in fact preserved, down to our own day, the pre-historic ages. And,
similarly, the religions of Mexico and Peru (for the empire of the Incas
held the same surprises and the same lessons in store for its explorers
as that of Montezuma had done) has enabled history to carry to the
point of demonstration its fundamental thesis of the natural
development, in subjection to fixed laws, of the religious tendency in
man. All those curious resemblances, amidst the differences which we
shall also bring out, between the religious history of the New World and
that of the Old, are not at bottom any more extraordinary than the fact
that, in spite of the differences of physical type which separated the
natives from their conquerors, they none the less saw with eyes, walked
on feet, ate with a mouth and digested with a stomach.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall begin our study with Mexico. But a few preliminary
ethnographical remarks are indispensable. I spare you the catalogue of
the numerous sources and documents from which a detailed knowledge of
the Mexican religion may be drawn.[1] Such a list is in place in a book
rather than in a lecture. I will only direct your attention to the noble
collection made in 1830 by one of your own compatriots, Lord
Kingsborough, under the title of "Antiquities of Mexico," a work of
extreme importance, which reproduces, in facsimile or engravings, the
monuments and ruins of ancient Mexico;[2] and the very remarkable work
of Mr. H. H. Bancroft, "Native Races of the Pacific States of North


The region with which we are now to occupy ourselves comprises the space
bounded on the South by the Isthmus of Panama, washed East and West by
the oceans, and determined, roughly speaking, towards the North by a
line starting from the head of the Gulf of California, and sweeping
round to the mouths of the Mississippi with a curve that takes in
Arizona and Southern Texas. In our day, this southern portion of North
America is broken into two great divisions, the first and most southern
of which is known collectively as Central America, and embraces the
republics of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, San Salvador
and Panama. The great peninsula of Yucatan, which is now Mexican,
formerly belonged to this group of Central American peoples. The second
portion of the territory we are to study corresponds to the present
republic of Mexico. I shall presently explain the sense in which it
might be called the Mexican empire in the time of Fernando Cortes. For
the present, let me ask you to remember that we are now about to speak,
in a general and preliminary manner, of the region which pretty closely
corresponds to the present Central America and Mexico.

To begin with, we treat these two districts as a single whole, because
the Europeans found them inhabited by a race which was divided, it is
true, into several varieties, but was distinguished clearly from the
Red-skins on the North, and still more from the Eskimos, and alone of
the native races of North America had proved itself capable of rising by
its own strength to a veritable civilization. The general physical type
of the race is marked by a very brown skin, a medium stature, low brow,
black coarse hair, prominent jaw, heavy lips, thick eyebrows, and a
nose generally large and often hooked. The noble families as a rule had
a clearer complexion. The women are thick-set and squab, but not without
grace in their movements. In their youth they are sometimes very pretty,
but they fade early. We must leave it to ethnological specialists to
decide whether this type is not the result of previous crossings.

So much is certain, that at an epoch the date of which it is impossible
to fix, but which must have been remote, this race, cut off from all the
world by the sea and the profoundest savagery, developed a civilization
_sui generis_, to which the traditional reminiscences of the natives
and a series of most remarkable ruins, discovered especially in Central
America, bear witness. For it is in this southern district that we find
the monumental ruins of Palenque, of Chiapa, of Uxmal, of Utatlan, and
of other places, the list of which has again begun to receive additions
in recent years. When the Spaniards conquered the New World, the centre
of this civilization had shifted further north, to Mexico proper, to the
city of Mexico, to Tezcuco and to Cholula. But the consciousness that
the Mexican civilization was affiliated to that of the isthmic region
had by no means been lost. It was a nation or race called Maya, the name
of which seems to indicate that it considered itself indigenous, and the
proper centre of which lay in Yucatan, that produced this American
civilization--capable of organizing states and priesthoods, of rearing
immense palaces, of carving stone in great perfection and with a true
artistic sense, and of realizing a high degree of physical well-being.
There is reason to believe, however, that this civilization, resembling
in some respects that of ancient Canaan, had more refinement in its
pursuit of material comfort than vigour in its morality. A certain
effeminacy, and even the endemic practice of odious vices, appears to
have early enervated it. When the Spaniards arrived in America, wars and
devastating invasions had shattered the old and powerful monarchies of
the central region and reduced the great monuments of antiquity to
ruins, and that too so long ago that the natives themselves, while
retaining a certain civilization, had lost all memory of the ancient
cities and the ancient palaces that the Europeans rescued from oblivion.
We may still see figured amongst the monuments of Mexico those beautiful
ruins of Palenque, where stretches a superb gallery, vaulted with the
broad ogives that recal the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra; while
at Tehuantepec an immense temple has been discovered, hollowed out of a
huge rock, like certain temples in India. The cultivation of maize was
to this region what that of wheat was to Egypt and Mesopotamia, or of
rice to India and China, the material condition, namely, of a precocious
civilization. For, as has been remarked, the primitive civilizations
could not be developed except where an abundant cereal raised man above
immediate anxiety for his subsistence, and rescued him from the
all-engrossing fatigues and the dangerous uncertainties of the hunter's

This Maya race, having adopted the agricultural and sedentary life,
multiplied so greatly as to send out many swarms of colonists towards
the North, where the _Nahuas_, that is to say, "the skilled ones" or
"experts" (for so the emigrants from the Maya land were called), found
men of the same race as themselves, to whom they imparted their superior
knowledge. They kept on pushing northwards, established themselves on
the great plateau of Anahuac, or "lake country," where the city of
Mexico is situated, and advanced up to the somewhat indefinite limit
opposed to their progress by the Red-skins. This migratory movement
towards the North was evidently not the affair of a day. It must have
continued for centuries; and during its process the Maya civilization
may have experienced great developments and undergone numerous
modifications; so that, without venturing to pronounce categorically
upon a problem yet unsolved, I should myself be inclined to ascribe to
a population, which either consisted of bands of emigrant Mayas or was
affected by this Nahua movement, those "Mounds" which still throw their
galling defiance at the modern methods of research, powerless to explain
their origin in regions which have since been under the reign of the
most absolute savagery.

However this may be, the movement by which in a remote antiquity the
peoples of Central America ascended towards the North, carrying with
them their relative civilization to Mexico and even beyond, was reversed
at the epoch of our Middle Ages by a migration in the opposite
direction. In this case it was the peoples of the northern regions that
tended to beat back upon the South. They invaded, conquered and brought
into subjection the peoples who had established themselves along the
path followed by the previous migrations; and it is probably to
invasions of this description that we must ascribe the fall of the
ancient Maya society of the isthmic region. But the civilization of
which it had sown the germs was not dead. Nay, the peoples who descended
upon the South had in great measure themselves adopted it; and in the
invaded districts there remained groups and nuclei of Nahua populations
who maintained its principles, its arts and its spirit, to which their
conquerors readily conformed. The last conquerors had been established
as masters in the Mexican district for more than a century when the
Spaniards arrived there. They were the _Aztecs_. They had conquered or
shattered what was called the _Chichimec_ empire, which in its turn had
destroyed, some centuries earlier, the _Toltec_ empire. But it would be
a mistake to think of three successive empires, Toltec, Chichimec and
Aztec, one supplanting the other in the same way as the Frankish empire,
for example, took the place of that of Rome, which in its turn had
replaced divers others more ancient yet. What really took place was what

The prolonged migrations of the Nahuas towards the North had not spread
civilization uniformly amongst all the tribes encountered on the route.
Thus, down to the sixteenth century, there still existed in the heart of
Mexico tribes very little removed from the savage state, such as the
Otomis or "wanderers;" whereas, in other districts, the Nahuas had
established themselves on a footing of acknowledged supremacy and
developed a brilliant civilization. Thus they founded at the extreme
north of the present Mexico the ancient city of Tulan or Tullan, the
name of which passed into that of its inhabitants, the _Toltecs_, and
this latter, in its turn, became the designation of everything graceful,
elegant, artistically refined and beautiful. Ethnographically, it simply
indicates the most brilliant foci of the civilization imported from
Central America. In fact, there never was a Toltec empire at all, but
simply a confederation of the three cities of Tullan, Colhuacan and
Otompan, all of which may be regarded as Toltec in the social sense
which I have just described. Many other small states existed outside
this confederation. It was destroyed by the revolt or invasion of more
northern tribes, hitherto held in vassalage and looked down upon as
belonging to a lower level of culture and manners. These tribes received
or assumed the name of _Chichimecs_ or "dogs," which may have been a
term of contempt converted into a title of honour, like that of the
_Gueux_ of the Low Countries. Thus arose a Chichimec confederation, of
which Colhuacan (the name given for a time to Tezcuco), Azcapulzalco,
the capital of the Tepanecs, and Tlacopan, were the principal cities. At
Tezcuco the Toltec element was still powerful. Cholula, a sacred city,
remained essentially Toltec, and in general the Chichimecs readily
adopted the superior civilization of the Toltecs. This was so much the
case that Tezcuco became the seat of an intellectual and artistic
development, in virtue of which the Europeans called it the Athens of
Mexico. It was from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, according
to the historians, that what may be called the Chichimec era lasted.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Aztecs--that is to say
_the white flamingos_ or _herons_ (from _aztatl_), the last comers from
the North, who had long been a poor and wretched tribe, and on reaching
Anahuac had been obliged to accept the suzerainty of Tezcuco--began to
assume great importance. They had founded, under the name of
Tenochtitlan, upon an island that is now united to the mainland, the
city which was afterwards called Mexico. But originally the name of
Mexico belonged to the quarter of the city which was dedicated to the
god of war, Mextli. At once warlike and commercial, the Aztecs grew in
numbers, wealth and military power; they saved Tezcuco from the dominion
of the Tepanecs, who tried to bring the whole Chichimec confederation
into subjection; presently they threw off all vassalage, and in the
fifteenth century they stood at the head of the new confederation which
took the place of that of the Chichimecs, and of which Mexico, Tezcuco
and Tlacopan (or Tacuba), were the three capitals.

There was no Mexican empire, then, at the moment when Fernando Cortes
disembarked near Vera Cruz, but there was a federation. On certain days
of religious festivity a solemn public dance was celebrated in Mexico,
in which the sovereign families of the three states, together with their
subjects of the highest rank, took part. It began at noon before the
palace of the Mexican king. They stood three and three. The king of
Mexico led the dance, holding with his right hand the king of Tezcuco,
and with his left the king of Tlacopan, and the three confederate
sovereigns or emperors thus symbolized for several hours the union of
their three states by the harmonious cadence of their movements.[4]


The widely-spread error that makes Montezuma, the Mexican sovereign that
received Fernando Cortes, the absolute master of the whole district of
the present Mexico, is explained by the fact, that of the three
confederate states that of the Aztecs was by far the strongest, most
warlike and most dreaded. It was constantly extending its dominion by
means of a numerous, disciplined and admirably organized army, and
little by little the other two states were constantly approaching the
condition of vassalage. The Aztecs were no more recalcitrant to
civilization than the Chichimecs, but they were ruder, more
matter-of-fact and more cruel. They did no sacrifices to the Toltec
graces, but developed their civilization exclusively on its utilitarian
and practical side. They were no artists, but essentially warriors and
merchants. And even their merchants were often at the same time spies
whom the kings of Mexico sent into the countries they coveted, to study
their resources, their strength and their weakness. Their yoke was hard.
They raised heavy tributes. Their policy was one of extreme
centralization, and, without destroying the religion of the peoples
conquered by their arms, they imposed upon them the worship and the
supremacy of their own national deities. Their warlike expeditions bore
a pronounced religious character. The priests marched at the head of the
soldiers, and bore Aztec idols on their backs. On the eve of a battle
they kindled fresh fire by the friction of wood; and it was they who
gave the signal of attack. These wars had pillage and conquest as their
object, but also and very specially the capture of victims to sacrifice
to the Aztec gods. For the Aztecs pushed the superstitious practice of
human sacrifice to absolute frenzy. It was to these horrible sacrifices
that they attributed their successes in war and the prosperity of their
empire. If they experienced a check or had suffered any disaster, they
redoubled their blood-stained offerings. But note this trait, so
essentially pagan and in such perfect accord with the polytheistic ideas
of the ancient world--they sacrificed to the gods of the conquered
country too, to show them that it was not against them they were
contending, and that the new régime would not rob them of the homage to
which they were accustomed. The Aztec deities were not _jealous_. They
confined themselves to vindicating their own pre-eminence. After each
fresh conquest, the Aztecs raised a temple at Mexico bearing the name of
the conquered country, and thither they transported natives of the place
to carry on the worship after their own customs. It seems that they did
not consider even this precaution enough; for they constructed a special
edifice near the great temple of Mexico, where the supreme deities of
the Aztec people were enthroned, and there they shut up the idols of the
conquered countries. This was to prevent their escape, should the desire
come over them to return to their own peoples and help them to

All this will explain how it was that Fernando Cortes found numerous
allies against Montezuma's despotism amongst the native peoples. For it
is an error, generally received indeed, but contradicted by history,
that the Spanish captain decided the fate of so redoubtable an empire,
and of a city so vigorously defended as Mexico, with the sole aid of his
thousand Europeans.

For the rest, we are forced to acknowledge that the Aztecs had developed
their civilization, in its political and material aspects, in a way that
does the greatest credit to their sagacity. Property was organized on
the individual and hereditary basis for the noble families, and on the
collective basis for the people, divided into communities. The taxes
were raised in kind, according to fixed rules. Numbers of slaves were
charged with the most laborious kinds of work. The merchants, assembled
in the cities, formed a veritable _tiers-état_ which exercised a growing
political influence. There were markets, the abundance and wealth of
which stupefied the Spaniards. The luxury of the court and of the great
families was dazzling. No one dared to address the sovereign save with
lowered voice, and--strange custom in our eyes!--no one appeared before
him save with naked feet and clad in sordid garments, in sign of
humility. Mexico had been joined to the mainland by causeways, along
which an aqueduct conveyed the pure waters of distant springs to the
city. The irrigation works in the country were numerous and in good
repair. The streets were cleansed by day and lighted at night,
advantages in which none of the European capitals rejoiced in the
sixteenth century. And finally, for we cannot dwell indefinitely upon
this subject, let us note the excellent roads that stretched from Mexico
to the limits of the Aztec empire and the confederated states. Along
these roads the sovereigns of Mexico had established, at intervals of
two leagues, courier posts for the transmission of important news to
them. Montezuma heard of the disembarkment of Fernando Cortes three days
after it took place.

And now imagine that this people was always averse to navigation--was
ignorant of use of iron, knowing only of gold, silver and copper--had no
beast of traction or burden, neither horse, nor ass, nor camel, nor
elephant, nor even the llama of Peru--was without writing (for though we
find a kind of hieroglyph on the monuments of Mexico and Central
America, yet the system was not of the smallest avail for ordinary
life)--and, finally, had no money except an inconsiderable number of
silver crosses and cacao berries, the mass of exchanges being effected
by barter! On the other hand, they worked in stone with admirable skill.
In their knives and lance and arrow heads, made of obsidian, they
achieved remarkable perfection, and they excelled in the art of
supplying the place of writing by pictures, painted on a kind of aloe
paper or on cotton stuffs, representing the persons or things as to
which they desired to convey information.

Such, then, is the singular people that Spain was destined to conquer in
the sixteenth century, and whose civilization, though modified by the
special Aztec spirit, rested after all upon the same bases that had
sustained the more ancient civilization of Central America. And this is
equally true of the religion, which, with all the varieties impressed
upon it by the special genius or inclinations of the diverse peoples,
reveals itself as resting upon one common basis, from the Isthmus of
Panama to the Gulf of California and the mouths of the Rio del Norte.


One of the fundamental traits of this regional religion, then, is the
pre-eminence of the Sun, regarded as a personal and animated being, over
all other divinities. At Guatemala, amongst the Lacandones, he was
adored directly, without any images. Amongst their neighbours the Itzas,
not far from Vera Paz, he was represented as a round human head
encircled by diverging rays and with a great open mouth. This symbol,
indeed, was very widely spread in all that region. Often the Sun is
represented putting out his tongue, which means that he lives and
speaks. For in the American hieroglyphics, a protruded tongue, or a
tongue placed by the side of any object, is the emblem of life. A
mountain with a tongue represents a volcano. The Sun was generally
associated with the Moon as spouse, and they were called _Grandfather_
and _Grandmother_. In Central America, and in the territory of Mexico,
may be observed a number of stone columns which are likewise statues;
but the head is generally in the middle, and is so overlaid with
ornaments or attributes, that it is not very easy to discover it. These
are _Sun-columns_. As he traced the shadow of these monoliths upon the
soil day after day, the Sun appeared to be caressing them, loving them,
taking them as his fellow-workers in measuring the time. These same
columns were also symbols of fructifying power. Often the Sun has a
child, who is no other than a doublet of himself, but conceived in human
form as the civilizer, legislator and conqueror, bearing diverse names
according to the peoples whose hero-god and first king he is represented
as being. And for that matter, if we had but the time, we might long
dwell on the myths of Yucatan, of Guatemala (amongst the Quichés), of
Honduras, and of Nicaragua. By the side of the Sun and Moon, grandfather
and grandmother, there were a number of great and small deities (some of
them extremely vicious), and amongst others a god of rain, who was
called Tohil by the Quichés and Tlaloc at Mexico, where he took his
place amongst the most revered deities. His name signifies "noise,"
"rumbling." Amongst the Quichés he had a great temple at Utatlan,
pyramidal in form, like all others in this region of the world, where he
was the object of a "perpetual adoration" offered him by groups of from
thirteen to eighteen worshippers, who relieved each other in relays day
and night.

Human sacrifice was practised by all these peoples, though not to such
an extent as amongst the Aztecs, for they only resorted to it on rare
occasions. It was especially girls that they immolated, with the idea of
giving brides to the gods. They were to exercise their conjugal
influence in favourably disposing their divine consorts towards the
sacrificers. In this connection we find a tragi-comic story of a young
victim whose forced marriage was not in the least to her taste, and who
threatened to pronounce the most terrible maledictions from heaven upon
her slaughterers. Her threats had so much effect that they let her go,
and procured another and less recalcitrant bride for the deity.[6]

Finally, we will mention a most characteristic deity (whom we shall
presently recognize at Mexico under yet another name), variously known
as Cuculkan (bird-serpent), Gucumatz (feathered-serpent),
Hurakan--whence our "hurricane"--Votan (serpent), &c. He is always a
serpent, and generally feathered or flying. He is a personification of
the wind, especially of the east wind, which brings the fertilizing
rains in that district. Almost everywhere he is credited with gentle and
beneficent dispositions, and therefore with a certain hostility to human
sacrifice. It was this deity, in one of his forms, who was worshipped in
the sacred island of Cozumel, situated close to Yucatan, to which
pilgrimages were made from great distances. It was there that the
Spaniards, to their great surprise, first observed a cross surmounting
the temple of this god of the wind. This was the starting-point of the
legend according to which the Apostle Thomas had of old evangelized
America. It is a pure illusion. The pagan cross of Central America and
Mexico is nothing whatever but the symbol of the four cardinal points of
the compass from which blow the four chief winds.

Such is the common religious basis, which we have simply sketched in its
most general outlines, and upon which the more elaborate and sombre
religion of the Aztecs, which we shall examine at our next meeting, was
reared. Pray observe that we find in this group of connected beliefs and
worships something quite analogous to the polytheism of the ancient
world. The only notable difference is, that the god of Heaven, Dyaus,
Varuna, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, or (in China) Tien, does not occupy the same
pre-eminent place in the American mythology that he takes in its
European and Asiatic counterparts. For the rest, the processes of the
human spirit are absolutely identical in the two continents. In both
alike it is the phenomena of nature, regarded as animated and conscious,
that wake and stimulate the religious sentiment and become the objects
of the adoration of man. At the same time, and in virtue of the same
process of internal logic, these personified beings come to be regarded
more and more as possessed of a nature superior in power indeed, but in
all other respects closely conforming, to that of man. If
nature-worship, with the animism that it engenders, shapes the first
law to which nascent religion submits in the human race,
anthropomorphism furnishes the second, disengaging itself ever more and
more completely from the zoomorphism which generally serves as an
intermediary. This is so _everywhere_. And thus we may safely leave to
ethnologists the task of deciding whether the whole human race descends
from one original couple or from many; for, spiritually speaking,
humanity in any case is one. It is one same spirit that animates it and
is developed in it; and this, the incontestable unity of our race, is
likewise the only unity we need care to insist on. Let us recognize it,
then, since indeed it imposes itself upon us, and let us confess that
the gospel did but anticipate the last word of science in proclaiming
universal fraternity.

And here, Gentlemen, we reach one of those grand generalizations which
must finally win over even those who are still inclined to distrust the
philosophical history of religions as a study that destroys the most
precious possessions of humanity. In setting forth the intellectual and
moral unity of mankind, everywhere directed by the same successive
evolutions and the same spiritual laws, it brings into light the great
principle of _human brotherhood_. In demonstrating that these
evolutions, in spite of all the influences of ignorance, of selfishness
and of grossness, converge towards a sublime, ideal goal, and are no
other than the mysterious but mighty and unbroken attraction to that
unfathomable Power of which the universe is the visible expression, it
founds on a basis of reason the august sentiment of the _divine
fatherhood_. Brother-men and one Father-God!--what more does the thinker
need to raise the dignity of our nature, the promises of the future, the
sublimity of our destiny, into a region where the inconstant waves of a
superficial criticism can never reach them? Such is the vestibule of the
eternal Temple; and in approaching the sanctuary--albeit I may not know
the very title by which best to call the Deity who reigns in it--I bow
my head with that union of humility and of filial trust which
constitutes the pure essence of religion.

But from these general considerations we must return to our more
immediate subject. At our next meeting, Gentlemen, we are to study the
special beliefs and mythology of ancient Mexico.




It will be my task to-day to give an account of the Mexican mythology
and religion, resting as it does on the foundation common to the peoples
of Central America, but inspired by the sombre, utilitarian,
matter-of-fact, yet vigorous and earnest, genius of the Aztecs. You will
remember that this name belongs to the warlike and commercial people
that enjoyed, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, a military and
political supremacy in the region that is now called Mexico, after the
Aztec capital of that name.


To begin with, we must note that the ancient Central-American cultus of
the Sun and Moon, considered as the two supreme deities, was by no
means renounced by the Aztecs. Ometecutli (i.e. _twice Lord_) and
Omecihuatl (_twice Lady_), or in other words supreme Lord and Lady, are
the designations under which they are always indicated in the first rank
in the religious formulæ. All the Mexicans called themselves "children
of the Sun," and greeted him every morning with hymns and with trumpet
peals, accompanied with offerings. Four times by day and four times by
night, priests who were attached to the various temples addressed their
devotions to him. And yet he had no temple specially consecrated to him.
The fact was that all temples were really his, much as in our own
Christian civilization all the churches are raised in honour of God,
though particular designations are severally given to them. The Sun was
the _teotl_ (i.e. the god) _par excellence_. I am informed that to this
very day the inhabitants of secluded parts of Mexico, as they go to
mass, throw a kiss to the sun before entering the church.

Notwithstanding all this, we have to observe that, by an inconsistency
which again has its analogies in other religions, the cultus of the
supreme deity and his consort was pretty much effaced in the popular
devotions and practices by that of divinities who were perhaps less
august, and in some cases were even derived from the substance of the
supreme deity himself, but in any case seemed to stand nearer to
humanity than he did. More especially, the national deities of the
Aztecs, the guardians of their empire, whose worship they instituted
wherever their arms had triumphed, practically took the first place. It
is with these national deities that we are now to make acquaintance, and
we cannot do better than begin with the two great deities of the city of
Mexico, whose colossal statues were enthroned on its principal temple.

But first we must form some notion of what a Mexican temple was.

The word "temple," if held to imply an enclosed and covered building, is
very improperly applied to the kind of edifice in question. Indeed, a
Mexican temple (and the same may be said of most of the sanctuaries of
Central America) was essentially a gigantic altar, of pyramidal form,
built in several stages, contracting as they approached the summit. The
number of these retreating stories or terraces might vary. There were
never less than three, but there might be as many as five or six, and in
Tezcuco some of these quasi-pyramids even numbered nine. The one that
towered over all the rest in the city of Mexico was built in five
stages. It measured, at its base, about three hundred and seventy-five
feet in length and three hundred in width, and was over eighty feet
high. At a certain point in each terrace was the stair that sloped
across the side of the pyramid to the terrace above; but the successive
ascents were so arranged that it was necessary to make the complete
circuit of the edifice in order to mount from one stage to another, and
consequently the grand processions to which the Mexicans were so much
devoted must have encircled the whole edifice from top to bottom, like a
huge living serpent, before the van could reach the broad platform at
the top, and this must have added not a little to the picturesque effect
of these religious ceremonies. Such an erection was called a _teocalli_
or "abode of the gods." The great teocalli of Mexico commanded the four
chief roads that parted from its base to unite the capital to all the
countries beneath the sceptre of its rulers. It was the palladium of the
empire, and, as at Jerusalem, it was the last refuge of the defenders of
the national independence.

The teocalli which Fernando Cortes and his companions saw at Mexico, and
which the conqueror razed to the ground, to replace it by a Catholic
church, was not of any great antiquity. It had been constructed
thirty-four years before, in the place of another much smaller one that
dated from the time when the Aztecs were but an insignificant tribe; and
it seems that frightful human hecatombs had ensanguined the foundations
of this more recent teocalli. Some authorities speak of seventy-two or
eighty thousand victims, while more moderate calculations reduce the
number to twenty thousand, which is surely terrible enough. In front of
the temple there stretched a spacious court some twelve hundred feet
square. All around were smaller buildings, which served as habitations
for the priests, and store-houses for the apparatus of worship, as well
as arsenals, oratories for the sovereign and the grandees of the
empire, chapels for the inferior deities and so on. Amongst these
buildings was the temple in which, as I have said, the gods of the
conquered peoples were literally imprisoned. In another the Spaniards
could count a hundred and thirty-six thousand symmetrically-piled
skulls. They were the skulls of all the victims that had been sacrificed
since the foundation of the sanctuary. And, by a contrast no less than
monstrous, side by side with this monument of the most atrocious
barbarism there were halls devoted to the care of the poor and sick, who
were tended gratuitously by priests.[7] What a tissue of contradictions
is man!

But the Aztec religion does not allow us to dwell upon the note of
tenderness. In the centre of the broad platform at the summit stood the
_stone of sacrifices_, a monolith about three feet high, slightly ridged
on the surface. Upon this stone the victim was stretched supine, and
while sundry subordinate priests held his head, arms and feet, the
sacrificing pontiff raised a heavy knife, laid open his bosom with one
terrific blow, and tore out his heart to offer it all bleeding and
palpitating to the deity in whose honour the sacrifice was performed.
And here you will recognize that idea, so widely spread in the two
Americas, and indeed almost everywhere amongst uncivilized peoples, that
the heart is the epitome, so to speak, of the individual--his soul in
some sense--so that to appropriate his heart is to appropriate his whole

Finally, there rose on the same platform a kind of chapel in which were
enthroned the two chief deities of the Aztecs, Uitzilopochtli and
Tezcatlipoca.[8] And here I will ask you to accompany Captain Bernal
Diaz in the retinue of his chief, Fernando Cortes, to whom the king
Montezuma himself had seen fit to do the honours of his "cathedral."
For, as you are aware, Montezuma, divided between a rash confidence and
certain apprehensions which I shall presently explain, received Cortes
for a considerable time with the utmost distinction, lodged him in one
of his palaces, and did everything in the world to please him. This,
then, is the narrative of Bernal Diaz:[9]

    "Montezuma invited us to enter a little tower, where in a kind
    of chamber, or hall, stood what appeared like two altars covered
    with rich embroidery." (What Bernal Diaz compared to altars were
    the two _Teoicpalli_ (or _seats of the gods_), which were wooden
    pedestals, painted azure blue and bearing a serpent's head at
    each corner).... "The first [idol], placed on the right, we were
    told represented Huichilobos, their god of war" (this was as
    near as Bernal Diaz could get to Uitzilopochtli), "with his face
    and countenance very broad, his eyes monstrous and terrible; all
    his body was covered with jewels, gold and pearls of various
    sizes.... His body was girt with things like great serpents,
    made with gold and precious stones, and in one hand he held a
    bow, and arrows in the other. And another little idol who stood
    by him, and, as they said, was his page, carried a short lance
    for him, and a very rich shield of gold and jewels. And
    Huichilobos had his neck hung round with faces of Indians, and
    what seemed to be the hearts of these same Indians, made of
    gold, or some of them of silver, covered with blue gems; and
    there stood some brasiers there, containing incense made with
    copal and the hearts of three Indians who had been slain that
    same day; and they were burning, and with the smoke and incense
    they had made that sacrifice to him; and all the walls of this
    oratory were so bathed and blackened with cakes of blood, as was
    the very ground itself, that the whole exhaled a very foul

    "Carrying our eyes to the left we perceived another great mass,
    as high as Huichilobos. Its face was like a bear's, and its
    shining eyes were made of mirrors called Tezcat. Its body was
    covered with rich gems like that of Huichilobos, for they said
    that they were brothers. And this Tescatepuca" (the mutilated
    form under which Bernal Diaz presents Tezcatlipoca) "was the god
    of hell" (this is another mistake, for Tezcatlipoca was a
    celestial deity).... "His body was surrounded with figures like
    little imps, with tails like serpents; and the walls were so
    caked and the ground so saturated with blood, that the
    slaughterhouses of Castile do not exhale such a stench; and
    indeed we saw the hearts of five victims who had been
    slaughtered that same day.... And since everything smelt of the
    shambles, we were impatient to escape from the foul odour and
    yet fouler sight."


Such was the impression made upon a Spanish soldier and a good Catholic
by the sight of the two chief deities of the Mexican people. To him
they were simply two abominable inventions of Satan. Let us try to go a
little further below the surface.

Uitzilopochtli signifies _Humming-bird to the left_, from _Uizilin_
(Humming-bird), and _opochtli_ (to the left). The latter part of the
name is probably due to the position we have just seen noticed to the
left of the other great deity, Tezcatlipoca. But why Humming-bird? What
can there be in common between this graceful little creature and the
monstrous idol of the Aztecs? The answer is given by the American
mythology, in which the Humming-bird is a divine being, the messenger of
the Sun. In the Aztec language it is often called the "sunbeam" or the
"sun's hair." This charming little bird, with the purple, gold and topaz
sheen of its lovely plumage, as it flits amongst the flowers like a
butterfly, darts out its long tongue before it to extract their juices,
with a burring of its wings like the humming of bees, whence it derives
its English name. Moreover, it is extremely courageous, and will engage
with far larger birds than itself in defence of its nest. In the
northern regions of Mexico, the humming-bird is the messenger of
spring, as the swallow is with us. At the beginning of May, after a cold
and dry season that has parched the soil and blighted all verdure, the
atmosphere becomes pregnant with rain, the sun regains his power, and a
marvellous transformation sets in. The land arrays itself, before the
very eyes, with verdure and flowers, the air is filled with perfumes,
the maize comes to a head, and hosts of humming-birds appear, as if to
announce that the fair season has returned. We may lay it down as
certain that the humming-bird was the object of a religious cultus
amongst the earliest Aztecs, as the divine messenger of the Spring, like
the wren amongst our own peasantry, the plover amongst the Latins, and
the crow amongst many tribes of the Red-skins. It was the emissary of
the Sun.

It was in this capacity, and under the law of anthropomorphism to which
all the Mexican deities were subject, that the divine humming-bird, as a
revealing god, the protector of the Aztec nation, took the human form
more and more completely in the religious consciousness of his
worshippers. And indeed the Mexican mythology gives form to this idea
that the divine humming-bird (of which those on earth were but the
relatives or little brothers) was a celestial man like an Aztec of the
first rank, in the following legend of his incarnation.

Near to Coatepec, that is to say the Mountain of Serpents,[10] lived the
pious widow _Coatlicue_ or _Coatlantona_ (the ultimate meaning of which
is "female serpent"). One day, as she was going to the temple to worship
the Sun, she saw a little tuft of brilliantly coloured feathers fall at
her feet. She picked it up and placed it in her bosom to present as an
offering to the Sun. But when she was about to draw it forth, she knew
not what had come upon her. Soon afterwards she perceived that she was
about to become a mother. Her children were so enraged that they
determined to kill her, but a voice from her womb cried out to her,
"Mother, have no fear, for I will save thee, to thy great honour and my
own great glory." And in fact Coatlicue's children failed in their
murderous attempt. In due time Uitzilopochtli was born, grasping his
shield and lance, with a plume of feathers shaped like a bird's beak on
his head, with humming-birds' feathers on his left leg, and his face,
arms and legs barred with blue. Endowed from his birth with
extraordinary strength, while still an infant he put to death those who
had attempted to slay his mother, together with all who had taken their
part. He gave her everything he could take from them; and after
accomplishing mighty feats on behalf of the Aztecs, whom he had taken
under his protection, he re-ascended to heaven, bearing his mother with
him, and making her henceforth the goddess of flowers.[11]

You will be struck by the analogy between this myth and more than one
Greek counterpart. There is the same method of reducing to the
conditions of human life, and concentrating at a single point of time
and space, a permanent or regularly recurrent and periodic natural
phenomenon. Uitzilopochtli, the humming-bird, has come from the Sun with
the purpose of making himself man, and he has therefore taken flesh in
an Aztec woman, Coatlicue, the serpent, who is no other than the spring
florescence, and therefore the Mexican Flora. It is not only amongst the
Mexicans that the creeping progress of the spring vegetation, stretching
along the ground towards the North, has suggested the idea of a divine
serpent crawling over the earth. The Athenian myth of Erichthonius is a
conception of the same order. The celestial humming-bird, then,
offspring of the Sun, valiant and warlike from the day of his birth,
champion of his mother, plundering and ever victorious, is the symbol
instinctively seized on by the Aztec people; for it, too, had sprung
from humble beginnings, had been despised and menaced by its neighbours,
and had grown so marvellously in power and in wealth as to have become
the invincible lord of Anahuac. Uitzilopochtli had grown with the Aztec
people. He bears, amongst other surnames, that of Mextli, the warrior,
whence the name of Mexico. He protects his people and ever extends the
boundaries of its empire. And thus, in spite of his bearing the name of
a little bird, his statue as an incarnate deity had become colossal. Yet
the Aztecs did not lose the memory of his original minuteness of
stature. Did you observe, in the account given by Bernal Diaz, that
there stood at the feet of the huge idol another quite small one, that
served, according to the Spanish Captain, as his page? This was the
_Uitziton_, or "little humming-bird," called also the _Paynalton_, or
the "little quick one," whose image was borne by a priest at the head of
the soldiers as they charged the enemy. On the day of his festival, too,
he was borne at full speed along the streets of the city. He was,
therefore, the diminutive Uitzilopochtli, or, more correctly speaking,
the Uitzilopochtli of the early days, the portable idol of the still
wandering tribe; and in fidelity to those memories, as well as to
preserve the warlike rite to the efficacy of which they attached so much
value, the Aztecs had kept the small statue by the side of the great

To sum up: Uitzilopochtli was a derivative form or determination of the
Sun, and specifically of the Sun of the fair season. He had three great
annual festivals. The first fell in May, at the moment of the return of
the flowering vegetation. The second was celebrated in August, when the
favourable season unfolded all its beauty. The third coincided with our
month of December. It was the beginning of the cold and dry season. On
the day of this third festival they made a statue in Uitzilopochtli's
likeness, out of dough concocted with the blood of sacrificed infants,
and, after all kinds of ceremonies, a priest pierced the statue with an
arrow. Uitzilopochtli would die with the verdure, the flowers and all
the beauteous adornments of spring and summer. But, like Adonis, like
Osiris, like Atys, and so many other solar deities, he only died to live
and to return again.[12]

It was now his brother Tezcatlipoca who took the direction of the world.
His name signifies "Shining Mirror." As the Sun of the cold and sterile
season, he turned his impassive glance upon all the world, or gazed into
the mirror of polished crystal that he held in his hand, in which all
the actions of men were reflected. He was a stern god of judgment, with
whose being ideas of moral retribution were associated. He was therefore
much dreaded. Up to a certain point he reminds us of the Vedic Varuna.
His statue was made of dark obsidian rock, and his face recalled that of
the bear or tapir. Suspended to his hair, which was plaited into a tail
and enclosed in a golden net, there hung an ear, which was likewise made
of gold, towards which there mounted flocks of smoke in the form of
tongues. These were the prayers and supplications of mortals. Maladies,
famines and death, were the manifestations of Tezcatlipoca's justice.
Dry as the season over which he presided, he was not easily moved. And
yet he was not absolutely inexorable. The ardent prayers, the sacrifices
and the supplications of his priests might avert the strokes of his
wrath. But in spite of all, he was pre-eminently the god of austere law.
And this is why he was regarded as the civilizing and organizing deity
of the Aztecs. It was he who had established the laws that governed the
people and who watched over their observance. In this capacity he made
frequent journeys of inspection, like an invisible prefect of police,
through the city of Mexico, to see what was going on there. Stone seats
had been erected in the streets for him to rest upon on these
occasions, and no mortal would have dared to occupy them. At the same
time a terrible and cruel subtlety in the means he employed to
accomplish his ends was attributed to him; and the legend about him,
which is far less brilliant than that of his brother Uitzilopochtli, led
several Europeans to believe that he was simply an ancient magician who
had spread terror around him by his sorceries. All this we see
exemplified in his conflicts with a third great deity whom we shall next
describe. In any case we may define Tezcatlipoca as another
determination of the Sun, and specifically of the winter Sun of the
cold, dry, sterile season.[13]

The third great deity is Quetzalcoatl, that is to say "the feathered
serpent," or "the serpent-bird;" and it is specially noteworthy, in
connection with the elevated rank which he occupied in the Mexican
pantheon, that he was not an Aztec deity, but one of the ancient gods of
the invaded country. He was in fact a Toltec deity, and we recognize in
his name, as well as in the special notes in the legend concerning him,
that god of the wind whom we know already in Central America under the
varying names of Cuculcan, Hurakan, Gucumatz, Votan and so forth. He is
almost always a serpent, and a serpent with feathers. His temple at
Mexico departed altogether from the pyramidal type that we have
described. It was dome-shaped and covered. The entrance was formed by a
great serpent-mouth, wide open and showing its fangs, so that the
Spaniards thought it represented a gate of hell. Quetzalcoatl's priests
were clothed in white, whereas the ordinary garb of the Mexican priests
was black. There was something mysterious and occult about the
priesthood of this deity, as though it were possessed of divine secrets
or promises, the importance of which it would be dangerous to
undervalue. A special aversion to human sacrifice, and especially to the
frightful abuse of the practice amongst the Aztecs, was attributed to
this god and his priests, in passive protest, as it were, against the
sanguinary rites to which the Aztecs attributed the prosperity of their

The legend of Quetzalcoatl, as the Aztecs transmitted it to the
Spaniards, is a motley concatenation of euhemerized myths. Its
historical basis is the continuous retreat of the Toltecs before the
northern invaders, with their god Tezcatlipoca. This latter deity
becomes a magician, cunning and malicious enough to get the better of
the gentle Quetzalcoatl on every occasion. I regret that time will not
allow me to tell in detail of the combat between Tezcatlipoca and
Quetzalcoatl. The latter was a sovereign who lived long ago at Tulla,
the northern focus of Toltec civilization. Under his sceptre men lived
in great happiness and enjoyed abundance of everything. He had taught
them agriculture, the use of the metals, the art of cutting stone, the
means of fixing the calendar; and being opposed to the sacrifice of
human victims--note this--he had advised their replacement by the
drawing of blood from the tongue, the lips, the chest, the legs, &c.
Tezcatlipoca succeeded by his enchantments in destroying this rule of
peace and prosperity, and forced Quetzalcoatl to quit Tulla, which
thereupon fell in ruins. He then pursued him into Cholula, the ancient
sacred city of the Toltecs, in which he had sought refuge, and in which
he had again made happiness and abundance reign. Finally, he forced him
to quit the continent altogether, and embark in a mysterious vessel not
far from Vera Cruz, near to the very spot where Cortes disembarked.
Since then Quetzalcoatl had disappeared; "But wait!" said his priests,
"for he will return." This expectation of Quetzalcoatl's return
furnishes a kind of parallel to the Messianic hope, or more closely yet
to the early Christian expectation of the _parousia_ or "second coming"
of the Christ. For when he returned, it would be to punish his enemies,
to chastise the wicked, the oppressors and the tyrants. And that is why
the Aztecs dreaded his return, and why they had not dared to proscribe
his cultus, but, on the contrary, recognized it and carried it on. And
if you would know the real secret of the success of Fernando Cortes in
his wild enterprize--for, after all, the Mexican sovereign could easily
have crushed him and his handful of men, by making a hecatomb of them
before they had had time to entrench themselves and make allies--you
will find it in the fact that Montezuma, whose conscience was oppressed
with more crimes than one, had a very lively dread of Quetzalcoatl's
return; and when he was informed that at the very point where the
dreaded god had embarked, to disappear in the unknown East, strange and
terrible beings had been seen to disembark, bearing with them fragments
of thunderbolts, in tubes that they could discharge whenever they
would--some of them having two heads and six legs, swifter of foot than
the fleetest men--Montezuma could not doubt that--it was Quetzalcoatl
returning, and instead of sending his troops against Cortes, he
preferred to negotiate with him, to allow him to approach, and to
receive him in his own palace. And although doubts soon asserted
themselves in his mind, yet he long retained, perhaps even to the last,
a superstitious dread of Cortes, that enabled the latter to secure a
complete ascendancy over him. This, I repeat, was the secret of the bold
Spaniard's success; nor can we ever understand the matter rightly unless
we take into consideration the significance of this worship of
Quetzalcoatl that the Aztecs had continued to respect, though all the
while flattering themselves that their own god, Tezcatlipoca, would be
able once more to protect them against his ancient adversary. Years
after the conquest, Father Sahagun had still to answer the question of
the natives, who asked him what he knew of the country of

What, then, was the fundamental significance of this feathered Serpent
that so pre-occupied the religious consciousness of the Aztecs?

He was not the Sun. The Sun does not disappear in the East. He was a god
of the wind, as Father Sahagun perfectly well understood, but of that
wind in particular that brings over the parched land of Mexico the tepid
and fertilizing exhalations of the Atlantic. And this is why
Tezcatlipoca, the god of the cold and dry season, rather than
Uitzilopochtli, is his personal enemy. It is towards the end of the dry
season that the fertilizing showers begin to fall on the eastern shores,
and little by little to reach the higher lands of the interior. The
flying Serpent, then, the wind that comes like a huge bird upon the air,
bringing life and abundance with it, is a benevolent deity who spreads
prosperity wherever he goes. But he does not always breathe over the
land, and does not carry his blessed moisture everywhere. Tezcatlipoca
appears. The lofty plateaux of Tulla, of Mexico and of Cholula, are the
first victims of his desolating force. Quetzalcoatl withdraws ever
further and further to the East, and at last disappears in the great

Such is the natural basis of the myth of Quetzalcoatl, and the
justification of my remark that we find in him the pendant of those
deities, serpents and birds in one, who were adored in Central America,
and who answered, like Quetzalcoatl, to the idea of the Atlantic wind.
He was, in truth, the ancient deity that the Nahuas or Mayas of the
civilized immigrations brought with them when they settled in Anahuac
and still further North. Like all the other gods of these regions,
Quetzalcoatl had assumed the human shape more and more completely. We
still possess, especially in the Trocadero Museum at Paris, great blocks
of stone on which he is represented as a serpent covered with feathers,
coiled up and sleeping till the time comes for him to wake. But there
are also statues of him in human form, save that his body is surmounted
by a bird's head, with the tongue projected. Now in the Mexican
hieroglyphie this bird's head, with the tongue put out, is no other than
the symbol of the wind. Hence, too, his names of _Tohil_ "the hummer" or
"the whisperer," _Ehecatl_ "the breeze," _Nauihehecatl_ "the lord of the
four winds," &c. The naturalistic meaning of Quetzalcoatl, then, cannot
admit of the smallest doubt.

It is probably to the more gentle and humane religious tendency which
was kept alive by the priesthood of this deity, that we must attribute
the attempted reform of the king of Tezcuco, Netzalhuatcoyotl (the
fasting coyote), who has been called the Mexican Solomon. He was a poet
and philosopher as well as king, and had no love either of idolatry or
of sanguinary sacrifices. He had a great pyramidal teocalli of nine
stages erected in his capital for the worship of the god of heaven, to
whom he brought no offerings except flowers and perfumes. He died in
1472, and, as far as we can see, his reformation made no progress. The
ever-increasing preponderance of the Aztecs was as unfavourable as
possible to this humane and spiritual tendency in religion.[15] Yet one
loves to dwell upon the fact, that even in the midst of a religion
steeped in blood, a protest was inspired by the sentiment of humanity,
linked, as it should always be, with the progress of religious thought.


We must now proceed with our review of the Mexican deities, but I must
be content with indicating the most important amongst them; for without
admitting, with Gomara--who registered many names and epithets belonging
to one and the same divinity as indicating so many distinct
beings--that their number rose to two thousand, we find that the most
moderate estimate of the historians raises them to two hundred and
sixty. We shall confine ourselves, then, to the most significant.

The importance of rain in the regions of Mexico, so marked in the myths
we have already considered, prepares us to find amongst the great gods
the figure of Tlaloc, whose name signifies "the nourisher," and who was
the god of rain. He was believed to reside in the mountains, whence he
sent the clouds. He was also the god of fecundity. Lightning and thunder
were amongst his attributes, and his character was no more amiable than
that of the Mexican deities in general. His cultus was extremely cruel.
Numbers of children were sacrificed to him. His statues were cut in a
greenish white stone, of the colour of water. In one hand he held a
sceptre, the symbol of lightning; in the other, a thunderbolt. He was a
cyclops; that is to say, he had but one eye, which shows that he must be
ultimately identified as an ancient personification of the rainy sky,
whose one eye is the sun. His huge mouth, garnished with crimson teeth,
was always open, to signify his greed and his sanguinary tastes. His
wife was _Chalchihuitlicue_, "the lady Chalchihuit," whose name is
identical with that of a soft green jade stone that was much valued in
Mexico. Her numerous offspring, the Tlalocs, probably represent the
clouds. Side by side with the hideous sacrifices of which Tlaloc's
festival was the occasion, we may note the grotesque ceremony in which
his priests flung themselves pell-mell into a pond, imitating the action
and the note of frogs. This is but one of a thousand proofs that in the
rites intended to conciliate the nature-gods, it was thought well to
reproduce in mimicry the actions of those creatures who were supposed to
be their favourites or chosen servants. The frogs were manifestly loved
by the god of the waters, and to secure his good graces his priests, as
was but natural, transformed themselves into frogs likewise. It was with
this cultus especially that the symbol of the Mexican cross was
connected, as indicating the four points of the horizon from which the
wind might blow.

_Centeotl_ was another great deity, a kind of Mexican Ceres or Demeter.
She was the goddess of Agriculture, and very specially of maize. Indeed,
her name signifies "maize-goddess," being derived from _centli_ (maize)
and _teotl_ (divine being). Sometimes, however, inasmuch as this goddess
had a son who bore the same name as herself, Centeotl stands for a male
deity. The female deity is often represented with a child in her arms,
like a Madonna. This child, who is no other than the maize itself, grows
up, becomes an adult god, and is the masculine Centeotl. The feminine
Centeotl, moreover, bears many other names, such as _Tonantzin_ (our
revered mother), _Cihuatcoatl_ (lady serpent), and very often _Toci_ or
_Tocitzin_ (our grandmother). She was sometimes represented in the form
of a frog, the symbol of the moistened earth, with a host of mouths or
breasts on her body. She had also a daughter, _Xilonen_, the young
maize-ear, corresponding to the Persephone or Kore of the Greeks. Her
face was painted yellow, the colour of the maize. Her character, at
least amongst the Aztecs, had nothing idyllic about it, and we shall
have to return presently to the frightful sacrifices which were
celebrated in her honour.

Next comes the god of Fire, _Xiuhtecutli_ (the Lord Fire), a very
ancient deity, as we see by one of his many surnames, _Huehueteotl_ (the
old god). He is represented naked, with his chin blackened, with a
head-dress of green feathers, carrying on his back a kind of serpent
with yellow feathers, thus combining the different fire colours. And
inasmuch as he looked across a disk of gold, called "the looking-plate,"
we may ask whether his primitive significance was not very closely
allied to that of Tezcatlipoca, the shining mirror of the cold season.
Sacrifice was offered to him daily. In every house the first libation
and the first morsel of bread were consecrated to him. And finally, as
an instance of the astounding resemblance that is forced upon our
attention between the religious development of the Old World and that of
the New, only conceive that in Mexico, as in ancient Iran and other
countries of Asia and Europe, the fire in every house must be
extinguished on a certain day in every year, and the priest of
Xiuhtecutli kindled fire anew by friction before the statue of his god.
You are aware that this rite, with which so many customs and
superstitions are connected, rests on the idea that Fire is a divine
being, of celestial and pure origin, which is shut up in the wood, and
which is contaminated in the long run by contact with men and with human
affairs. Hence it follows that in order for it to retain its virtues, to
continue to act as a purifier and to spread its blessings amongst men,
it must be brought down anew, from time to time, from its divine

The Aztecs also had a Venus, a goddess of Love, who bore the name of
_Tlazolteotl_ (the goddess of Sensuality).[17] At Tlascala she was known
by the more elegant name of _Xochiquetzal_ (the flowery plume). She
lived in heaven, in a beautiful garden, spinning and embroidering,
surrounded by dwarfs and buffoons, whom she kept for her amusement. We
hear of a battle of the gods of which she was the object. Though the
wife of Tlaloc, she was loved and carried off by Tezcatlipoca. This
probably gives us the clue to her mythic origin. She must have been the
aquatic vegetation of the marsh lands, possessed by the god of waters,
till the sun dries her up and she disappears. The legend about her is
not very edifying. It was she--to mention only a single feat--who
prevailed over the pious hermit Yappan, when he had victoriously
resisted all other temptations. After his fall he was changed into a
scorpion; and that is why the scorpion, full of wrath at the memory of
his fall and fleeing the daylight, is so poisonous and lives hidden
under stones.[18]

We have still to mention _Mixcoatl_, the cloud-serpent, whose name
survives to our day as the designation of water-spouts in Mexico, and
who was specially worshipped by the still almost savage populations of
the secluded mountain districts,--_Omacatl_, "the double reed," a kind
of Momus, the god of good cheer, who may very well be a secondary form
of Tlaloc, and who avenged himself, when defrauded of due homage, by
interspersing hairs and other disagreeable objects amongst the
viands,--_Ixtlilton_, "the brown," a sort of Esculapius, the healing
god, whose priest concocted a blackish liquid that passed as an
efficacious remedy for every kind of disease,--_Yacatecutli_, "the lord
guide," the god of travellers and of commerce, whose ordinary symbol was
the stick with a carved handle carried by the Mexicans when on a
journey, who was sedulously worshipped by the commercial and middle
classes of Mexico, and in connection with whom we may note that every
Mexican, when travelling, would be careful to fix his stick in the
ground every evening and pay his respectful devotions to it,[19]--and,
finally, _Xipe_, "the bald," or "the flayed," the god of goldsmiths,
probably another form of Uitzilopochtli (whose festival coincided with
his), deriving his name apparently from the polishing process to which
gold (no doubt regarded as belonging to the substance of the sun) had to
undergo to give it the required brilliance, and to whose hideous cultus
we shall have to return in our next Lecture.

I must now be brief, and will only speak further of the _Tepitoton_,
that is to say, the "little tiny ones," minute domestic idols, the
number of which was incalculable. They insensibly lower to the level of
animism and fetishism that religion which, as we have seen, bears
comparison in its grander aspects with the most renowned mythologies of
the ancient world. I must, however, allow myself a few words on the god
_Mictlan_, the Mexican Hades or Pluto. His name properly signifies
"region of the North;" but inasmuch as the North was regarded as the
country of mist, of barrenness and of death, his name easily passed into
the designation of the subterranean country of the dead. The Germanic
_Helle_ has a similar history, for it was first localized in the wintry
North and then carried underground. Mictlan, like Hades, was used as a
name alike for the sojourn and for the god of the dead. This deity had a
consort who bore divers names, and he also had at his command a number
of genii or servants, called _Tzitzimitles_, a sort of malicious demons
held in great dread by the living. Of course both Mictlan and his wives
are always represented under a hideous aspect, with huge open mouths, or
rather jaws, often in the act of devouring an infant.[20]

At last we have done! In the next Lecture we shall penetrate to the very
heart of this singular religion, as we discuss its terrible sacrifices,
its institutions, and its doctrines concerning this world and the life
to come. And here, again, we shall find cause for amazement in the
striking analogies it presents to the rites and institutions of other
religions much nearer home. Meanwhile, observe that in examining the
purely mythological portion of the subject which we have passed in
review to-day, we have seen that there is not a single law manifested by
the mythologies of the ancient world, which had not its parallel
manifestations in Mexico before it was discovered by the Europeans. The
great gods, derived from a dramatized nature--animism, with the
fetishism that springs from it, occupying the basement, if I may so
express myself, beneath these mythological conceptions--in the midst of
all a tendency manifested from time to time towards a purer and more
spiritual conception of the adorable Being--all re-appears and all is
combined in Mexico, even down to something like an incarnation, and the
hope of the coming of the god of justice and of goodness who will
restore all things. Indeed, I know not where else one could look for so
complete a résumé of what has constituted in all places, now the
smallness and wretchedness, now the grandeur and nobleness, of that
incomprehensible and irresistible factor of human nature which we call
_religion_. The "eternally religious" element in man had stamped its
mark upon the unknown Mexico as upon all other lands; and when at last
it was discovered, evidence might have been found, had men been able to
appreciate it, that there too, however frightfully misinterpreted, the
Divine breath had been felt.

It is the spiritually-minded who must learn the art of discerning the
spirit wherever it reveals itself; and when the horrors rise up before
us of which religion has more than once in the course of history been
the cause or the pretext, and we are almost tempted to ask whether this
attribute of human nature has really worked more good than ill in the
destinies of our race, we may remember that the same question might be
asked of all the proudest attributes of our humanity. Take polity or the
art of governing human societies. To what monstrous aberrations has it
not given birth! Take science. Through what lamentable and woful errors
has it not pursued its way! Take art. How gross were its beginnings, and
how often has it served, not to elevate man, but to stimulate his vilest
and most degrading passions! Yet, who would wish to live without
government, science or art?

Let us apply the same test to religion. The horrors it has caused cannot
weigh against the final and overmastering good which it produces; and
its annals, too often written in blood, should teach us how to guide it,
how to purify it from all that corrupts and debases it. We shall see at
the close of our Lectures what that directing, normalizing, purifying
principle is that must hold the helm of religion and guide it in its
evolution. Meanwhile, let no imperfection, no repulsiveness--nay, no
atrocity even--blind us to the ideal value of what we have been
considering, any more than we should allow the disasters that spring
from the use of fire to make us cease to rank it amongst the great
blessings of our earthly life.




In our last Lecture we passed in review the chief gods and goddesses of
ancient Mexico, and you might see how, in spite of very characteristic
differences, the Mexican mythology obeys the same law of formation that
manifests itself among the peoples of the Old World, thereby proving
once more that the religious development of humanity is not arbitrary,
that it proceeds in every case under the direction of the inherent and
inalienable principles of the human mind.

To-day we are to complete the internal study of the Mexican religion, by
dealing with its sacrifices, its institutions, and its eschatological
and cosmogonical doctrines. We begin with those sacrifices of which I
have already spoken as so numerous and so horrible.


We have some little difficulty in our times, familiar as we are with
spiritual conceptions of God and the divine purposes, in comprehending
the extreme importance which sacrifices, offerings, gifts to the divine
being, assumed in the eyes of peoples who were still enveloped in the
darkness of polytheism and idolatry. And perhaps we may find it more
difficult yet to realize the primitive object and intention of these
sacrifices. There can be no doubt that they were originally suggested by
the idea that the divine being, whatever it may have been--whether a
natural object, an animal, or a creature analogous to man--liked what we
like, was pleased with what pleases us, and had the same tastes and the
same proclivities as ours. This is the fundamental idea that urged the
polytheistic peoples along the path of religious anthropomorphism.

This principle once established, and the object being to secure the
goodwill and the protection of the divine beings, what could be more
natural than to offer them the things in which men themselves took
pleasure, such as viands, drinks, perfumes, handsome ornaments, slaves
and wives? We must not carry back to the origins of sacrifice the
meta-physical and moral ideas which did not really appear until much
later. And since the necessity of eating, and the pleasure of eating
choice food, take a foremost rank in the estimation of infant peoples,
it is not surprising that the food-offering was the most frequent and
the most important amongst them, so as in some sort to absorb all the

And here we are compelled to bow before a fact which cannot possibly be
disputed, namely, that traces of the primitive sacrifice of human
victims meet us everywhere. And this shows that cannibalism, which is
now restricted to a few of the savage tribes who have remained closest
to the animal life, was once universal to our race. For no one would
ever have conceived the idea of offering to the gods a kind of food
which excited nothing but disgust and horror amongst men.

This being granted, two rival tendencies must be reckoned with. In the
first place, moral development, with its influence on religious ideas,
worked towards the suppression of the horrible custom of human
sacrifice, whilst at the same time extirpating the taste and desire for
human flesh. For we must not forget that where cannibalism still reigns,
human flesh is regarded as the most delicious of foods; and the Greek
mythology has preserved legends and myths that are connected with the
very epoch at which human sacrifices first became an object of horror to
gods and men. But, in the second place, in virtue of the strange
persistency of rites and usages connected with religion, human
sacrifices prevailed in many places when cannibalism had completely
disappeared from the habits and tastes of the population. Thus the
Semites of Western Asia and the Çivaïte Hindus, the Celts, and some of
the populations of Greece and Italy, long after they had renounced
cannibalism, still continued to sacrifice human beings to their deities.

And this gives us the clue to a third phase, which was actually
realized in Mexico before the conquest. Cannibalism, in ordinary life,
was no longer practised. The city of Mexico underwent all the horrors of
famine during the siege conducted by Fernando Cortes. When the Spaniards
finally entered the city, they found the streets strewn with corpses,
which is a sufficient proof that human flesh was not eaten even in dire
extremities. And, nevertheless, the Aztecs not only pushed human
sacrifices to a frantic extreme, but they were _ritual cannibals_, that
is to say, there were certain occasions on which they ate the flesh of
the human victims whom they had immolated.

This practice was connected with another religious conception, grafted
upon the former one. Almost everywhere, but especially amongst the
Aztecs, we find the notion that the victim devoted to a deity, and
therefore destined to pass into his substance and to become by
assimilation an integral part of him, is already co-substantial with
him, has already become part of him; so that the worshipper in his turn,
by himself assimilating a part of the victim's flesh, unites himself in
substance with the divine being. And now observe that in all religions
the longing, whether grossly or spiritually apprehended, to enter into
the closest possible union with the adored being is fundamental. This
longing is inseparable from the religious sentiment itself, and becomes
imperious wherever that sentiment is warm; and this consideration is
enough to convince us that it is in harmony with the most exalted
tendencies of our nature, but may likewise, in times of ignorance, give
rise to the most deplorable aberrations.

Note this, again, that immolation or sacrifice cannot be accomplished
without suffering to the victim. Yet more: the immense importance of
sacrifice in the inferior religions raises the mere rite itself to a
position of unrivalled efficacy as gauged by the childlike notions that
have given it birth, so that at last it acquires an intrinsic and
magical virtue in the eyes of the sacrificers. They have lost all
distinct idea as to how their sacrifice gives pleasure to the gods, but
they retain the firm belief that as a matter of fact, it is the
appointed means of acting upon their dispositions and modifying their
will. The civilized Greeks and Romans no longer believed that their gods
ate the flesh of the sacrifices, but this did not prevent their
continuing them as the indispensable means of appeasing the wrath or
conciliating the favour of the deities. To such a length was this
carried in India and Iran, that sacrifice finally came to be regarded as
a cosmic force, a creative act. The gods themselves sacrificed as a
means of creation, or of modifying the existing order of the world. This
idea of the intrinsic and magical virtue of sacrifice naturally re-acted
on the importance attached to the sufferings of the victim so
inseparably connected with it, until the latter came to be regarded as
amongst the prime conditions of an efficacious sacrifice. For the rest,
I need not do more than mention the notions of substitution, of
compensation, and of renunciation on the part of the sacrificer, which
so readily attach themselves to the idea of sacrifice, and represent its
moral aspects.

Now all these considerations will help us to understand both the fearful
intensity and the special significance of the practice of human
sacrifice established among the Aztecs. And here I must ask you to
harden your hearts for a few moments while I conduct you through this
veritable chamber of horrors.

The Mexican sacrifices were, in truth, of the most frightful
description. It was an axiom amongst the Aztecs that none but human
sacrifices were truly efficacious. They were continually making war in
order to get a supply of victims. They regarded the victim, when once
selected, as a kind of incarnation of the deity who was ultimately to
consume his flesh, or at any rate his heart. They retained the practice
of cannibalism as a religious rite, and, as though they had had some of
the Red-skins' blood in their veins, they refined upon the tortures
which they forced those victims, whom they had almost adored the moment
before, to undergo at last.

These victims were regularly selected a considerable time in advance.
They were vigilantly watched, but in other respects were well cared for
and fed with the choicest viands--in a word, fattened. There was not a
single festival upon which at least one of these victims was not
immolated, and in many cases great numbers of them were flung upon the
"stone of sacrifices," where the priests laid their bosoms open, tore
out their hearts, and placed them, as the epitome of the men themselves,
in a vessel full of burning rezin or "copal," before the statue of the
deity. Some few of these sacrifices it is my duty to describe to you.

For example: To celebrate the close of the annual rule of Tezcatlipoca,
which fell at the beginning of May, they set apart a year beforehand the
handsomest of the prisoners of war captured during the preceding year.
They clothed him in a costume resembling that of the image of the god.
He might come and go in freedom, but he was always followed by eight
pages, who served at once as an escort and a guard. As he passed, I will
not say that the people either knelt or did not kneel before him, for in
Mexico the attitude expressive of religious adoration was that of
squatting down upon the haunches. As he passed, then, the people
squatted all along the streets as soon as they heard the sound of the
bells that he carried on his hands and feet. Twenty days before the
festival, they redoubled their care and attention. They bathed him,
anointed him with perfume, and gave him four beautiful damsels as
companions, each one bearing the name of a goddess, and all of them
instructed to leave nothing undone to make their divine spouse as happy
as possible. He then took part in splendid banquets, surrounded by the
great Mexican nobles. But the day before the great festival, they placed
him and his four wives on board a royal canoe and carried them to the
other side of the lake. In the evening the four goddesses quitted their
unhappy god, and his eight guardians conducted him to a lonely
_teocalli_, a league distant, where he was flung upon the stone of
sacrifices and his heart torn from his bosom. He must disappear and die
with the god whom he represented, who must now make way for
Uitzilopochtli. This latter deity likewise had his human counterpart,
who had to lead a war-dance in his name before being sacrificed. He had
the grotesque privilege of choosing the hour of his own immolation, but
under the condition that the longer he delayed it the less would his
soul be favoured in the abode of Uitzilopochtli. For we must note that
in the Mexican order of ideas, though the flesh of the victims was
destined to feed the gods to whom they were sacrificed, their souls
became the blessed and favoured slaves or servants of these same gods.

Centeotl, or Toci, the goddess of the harvest, had her human sacrifices
also, but in this case a woman figured as protagonist. She, too, was
dressed like the goddess, and entrusted to the care of four midwives,
priestesses of Centeotl, who were commissioned to pet and amuse her. A
fortnight before the festival, they celebrated "the arm dance" before
her, in which the dancers, without moving their feet, perpetually raised
and lowered their arms, as a symbol of the vegetation fixed at its
roots, but moving freely above. Then she had to take part in a mock
combat, after which she received the title of "image of the mother of
the gods." The day before her execution, she went to pay what was called
her "farewell to the market," in which she was conducted to the market
of Mexico, sowing maize all along the street as she went, and reverenced
by the people as Toci, "our grandmother." But the following midnight she
was carried to the top of a teocalli, perched upon the shoulders of a
priest, and swiftly decapitated. Then they flayed her without loss of
time. The skin of the trunk was chopped off, and a priest, wrapping
himself in the bleeding spoil, traversed the streets in procession, and
made pretence of fighting with soldiers who were interspersed in the
cortége. The skin of the legs was carried to the temple of Centeotl, the
son, where another priest made himself a kind of mask with it, to
represent his god, and sacrificed four captives in the ordinary way.
After this, the priest, accompanied by some soldiers, bore the hideous
shreds to a point on the frontier, where they were buried as a talisman
to protect the empire.

The festivals of Tlaloc, god of rain, were perhaps yet more horrible. At
one of them they sacrificed a number of prisoners of war, one upon
another, clothed like the god himself. They tore out their hearts in the
usual way, and then carried them in procession, enclosed in a vase, to
throw them into a whirlpool of the lake of Mexico, which they imagined
to be one of the favoured residences of the aquatic deity. But it was
worse still at the festival of this same Tlaloc which fell in February.
On this occasion a number of young children were got together, and
decked with feathers and precious stones. They put wings upon them, to
enable them to fly up, and then placed them on litters, and bore them
through the city in grand procession and with the sound of trumpets. The
people, says Sahagun,[21] could not choose but weep to see these poor
little ones led off to the sacrifice. But if the children themselves
cried freely, it was all the better, for it was a sign that the rain
would be abundant.[22]

I will not try your nerves by dwelling much longer on this dismal
subject, though there is no lack of material. At the feast of Xipe, "the
flayed," for example, whole companies of men were wrapped in the skins
of sacrificed captives, and engaged in mock battles in that costume. But
the only further instance I am compelled to mention is connected with
the festival of the god of fire, Xiuhtecutli, which was celebrated with
elaborate ceremonies. At set of sun, all who had prisoners of war or
slaves to offer to the deity brought forward their victims, painted
with the colours of the god, danced along by their side, and shut them
up in a building attached to the teocalli of Fire. Then they mounted
guard all round, singing hymns. At midnight, each owner entered and
severed a lock of the hair of his slave or slaves, to be carefully
preserved as a talisman. At daybreak they brought out the victims and
led them to the foot of the temple stair. There the priests took them
upon their shoulders and carried them up to the higher platform, where
they had prepared a great brazier of burning embers. Here each priest
flung his human burden upon the fire, and I leave you to imagine the
indescribable scene that ensued. Nor is this all. The same priests,
armed with long hooks, fished out the poor wretches before they were
quite roasted to death, and despatched them in the usual fashion on the
stone of sacrifices.[23]

It was after these offerings of private devotion that family and
friendly gatherings were held, at which a part of the victim's flesh was
eaten, under the idea that by thus sharing the food of the deity his
worshippers entered into a closer union with him. We ought, however, to
note that a master never ate the flesh of his own slave, inasmuch as he
had been his guest, and as it were a member of his family. He waited
till his friends returned his attention.


Human sacrifice, Gentlemen, appears to have been a universal practice;
but wherever the human sympathies developed themselves rapidly, it was
early superseded by various substituted rites which it was supposed
might with advantage replace it. Such were flagellation, mutilation of
some unessential part of the body, or the emission of a certain quantity
of blood. This last practice, in particular, might be regarded as an act
of individual devotion, a gift made to the gods by the worshipper
himself out of his own very substance. The priesthood of Quetzalcoatl,
who had little taste for human sacrifices, seem to have introduced this
method of propitiating the gods by giving them one's own blood; and the
practice of drawing it from the tongue, the lips, the nose, the ears or
the bosom, came to be the chief form of expression of individual piety
and penitence in Central America and in Mexico. The priests in
particular owed it to their special character to draw their blood for
the benefit of the gods, and nothing could be stranger than the refined
methods they adopted to accomplish this end. For instance, they would
pass strings or splinters through their lips or ears and so draw a
little blood. But then a fresh string or a fresh splinter must be added
every day, and so it might go on indefinitely, for the more there were,
the more meritorious was the act; nor can we doubt that the idea of the
suffering endured enhancing the merit of the deed itself, was already
widely spread in Mexico. There was a system of Mexican _asceticism_,
too, specially characterized by the long fasts which the faithful, and
more particularly the priests, endured. Indeed, fasting is one of the
most general and ancient forms of adoration. It rests, in the first
place, on an instinctive feeling that a man is more worthy to present
himself before the divine beings when fasting than when stuffed with
food; and, in the second place, on the fact that fasting is shown by
experience to promote dreams, hallucinations, extasies and so forth,
which have always been considered as so many forms of communication with
the deity.[24] It was only later that fasting became the sign and index
of mourning, and therefore of sincere repentance and profound sorrow.
Mexico had its solitaries or hermits, too, who sought to enter into
closer communion with the gods by living in the desert under conditions
of the severest asceticism. Are we not once more tempted to exclaim that
there is nothing new under the sun?

But the devotees of the ancient Mexican religion had other methods of
uniting themselves substantially and corporeally with their gods; and in
accordance with the notions which we have seen were accredited by their
religion, they had developed a kind (or kinds) of _communion_ from
which, with a little theology, a regular doctrine of transubstantiation
might have been drawn.

Thus, at the third great festival in honour of Uitzilopochtli
(celebrated at the time of his death), they made an image of the deity
in dough, steeped it in the blood of sacrificed children, and partook of
the pieces.[25] In the same way the priests of Tlaloc kneaded statuettes
of their god in dough, cut them up, and gave them to eat to patients
suffering from the diseases caused by the cold and wet.[26] The
statuettes were first consecrated by a small sacrifice. And so, too, at
the yearly festival of the god of fire, Xiuhtecutli, an image of the
deity, made of dough, was fixed in the top of a great tree which had
been brought into the city from the forest. At a certain moment the tree
was thrown down, on which of course the idol broke to pieces, and the
worshippers all scrambled for a bit of him to eat.

It has been asked how far any moral idea had penetrated this religion,
the repulsive aspects of which we have been describing. The question is
a legitimate one. I believe, Gentlemen, that in studying the religious
origins of the different peoples of the earth, we shall come to the
conclusion that the fusion of the religious and moral life--which has
long been an accomplished fact for us, especially since the Gospel, so
that we cannot admit the possibility of uniting immorality and piety for
a single instant--is not primitive, but is due to the development of the
human spirit, and to healthier, more complete and more religious ideas
concerning the moral law. At the beginning of things, and in our own day
amongst savages, nay, even amongst the most ignorant strata of the
population in civilized countries, it is obvious that religion and
morals have extremely little to do with each other. Some authors,
accordingly, in the face of all the monstrous cruelty, selfishness and
inhumanity of the Mexican religion, have concluded that no element of
morality entered into it at all, but that all was self-seeking and

This is an exaggeration. We have seen that amongst the nature-gods of
Mexico there was one, Tezcatlipoca, who was looked upon as the austere
guardian of law and morals. If we are to believe Father Sahagun,--and
even if we allow for strong suspicions as to the accuracy of his
translations of the prayers and exhortations uttered under certain
circumstances by parents and priests,--it is evident that the Mexicans
were taught to consider a decent and virtuous life as required by the
gods. Indeed, they had a system of confession, in which the priest
received the statement of the penitent, laid a penance on him, and
assured him of the pardon of the gods. Generally the penitents delayed
their confession till they were advanced in age, for relapses were
regarded as beyond the reach of pardon.[27] It would be nearer the truth
to say that the religious ethics of the Mexicans had entered upon that
path of dualism[28] by which alone, in almost every case, the normal
synthesis or rational reconciliation of the demands of physical nature
and the moral life has been ultimately reached. For inasmuch as fidelity
to duty often involves a certain amount of suffering, the suffering
comes to be regarded as the moral act itself, and artificial sufferings
are voluntarily incurred under the idea that they are the appointed
price of access to a higher and more perfect life, in closer conformity
with the divine will. The cruel rites which entered into the very tissue
of the Mexican religion could hardly fail to strengthen the same ascetic
tendency, by encouraging the idea that pain itself was pleasant to the
eyes of the gods. But the truth is that in this matter we can discern no
more than tendencies. There are symptoms of men's minds being busy with
the relation of the moral to the religious life, but no fixed or
systematic conclusions had been reached. It might, perhaps, have been
otherwise in the sequel, and these tendencies might ultimately have
taken shape in corresponding theories and doctrines, had not the Spanish
conquest intervened to put an end for ever to the evolution of the
Mexican religion.

I have frequently spoken of the Mexican priests, and the time has now
come for dwelling more explicitly on this priesthood.

It was very numerous, and had a strong organization reared on an
aristocratic basis, into which political calculations manifestly
entered. The noblest families (including that of the monarch) had the
exclusive privilege of occupying the highest sacerdotal offices. The
priests of Uitzilopochtli held the primacy. Their chief was sovereign
pontiff, with the title of _Mexicatl-Teohuatzin_, "Mexican lord of
sacred things," and _Teotecuhtli_, "divine master." Next to him came the
chief priest of Quetzalcoatl, who had no authority, however, except over
his own order of clergy. He lived as a recluse in his sanctuary, and the
sovereign only sent to consult him on certain great occasions; whereas
the primate sat on the privy council and exercised disciplinary powers
over all the other priests in the empire. Every temple and every
quarter had its regular priests. No one could enter the priesthood until
he had passed satisfactorily through certain tests or examinations
before the directors of the _Calmecac_, or houses of religious
education, of which we shall speak presently. The power of the clergy
was very great. They instructed youth, fixed the calendar, preserved the
knowledge of the annals and traditions indicated by the hieroglyphics,
sang and taught the religious and national hymns, intervened with
special ceremonies at birth, marriage and burial, and were richly
endowed by taxes raised in kind upon the products of the soil and upon
industries. Every successful aspirant to the priesthood, having passed
the requisite examinations, received a kind of unction, which
communicated the sacred character to him. All this indicates a
civilization that had already reached a high point of development; but
the indelible stain of the Mexican religion re-appears every moment even
where it seems to rise highest above the primitive religions: amongst
the ingredients of the fluid with which the new priest was anointed was
the blood of an infant!

The priests' costume in general was black. Their mantles covered their
heads and fell down their sides like a veil. They never cut their hair,
and the Spaniards saw some of them whose locks descended to their knees.
Probably this was a part of the solar symbolism. The rays of the Sun are
compared to locks of hair, and we very often find the solar heroes or
the servants of the Sun letting their hair grow freely in order that
they may resemble their god. Their mode of life was austere and sombre.
They were subject to the rules of a severe asceticism, slept little,
rose at night to chant their canticles, often fasted, often drew their
own blood, bathed every night (in imitation of the Sun again), and in
many of the sacerdotal fraternities the most rigid celibacy was
enforced. You will see, then, that I did not exaggerate when I spoke of
the belief that the gods were animated by cruel wills and took pleasure
in human pain as having launched the Mexican religion on a path of a
systematic dualism and very stern asceticism.[29]

But the surprise we experience in noting all these points of resemblance
to the religious institutions of the Old World, perhaps reaches its
culminating point when we learn that the Mexican religion actually had
its convents. These convents were often, but not always, places of
education for both sexes, to which all the free families sent their
children from the age of six or nine years upwards. There the boys were
taught by monks, and the girls by nuns, the meaning of the
hieroglyphics, the way to reckon time, the traditions, the religious
chants and the ritual. Bodily exercises likewise had a place in this
course of education, which was supposed to be complete when the children
had reached the age of fifteen. The majority of them were now sent back
to their families, while the rest stayed behind to become priests or
simple monks. For there were religious orders, under the patronage of
the different gods, and convents for either sex. The monastic rule was
often very severe. In many cases it involved abstinence from animal
food, and the people called the monks of these severer orders
_Quaquacuiltin_, or "herb-eaters." There were likewise associations
resembling our half-secular, half-ecclesiastical fraternities. Thus we
hear of the society of the "_Telpochtiliztli_," an association of young
people who lived with their families, but met every evening at sunset to
dance and sing in honour of Tezcatlipoca. And, finally, we know that
ancient Mexico had its hermits and its religious mendicants.[30] The
latter, however, only took the vow of mendicancy for a fixed term. These
are the details which led von Humboldt and some other writers to believe
that Buddhism must have penetrated at some former period into Mexico.
Not at all! What we have seen simply proves that asceticism, the war
against nature, everywhere clothes itself in similar forms, suggested by
the very constitution of man; and there is certainly nothing in common
between the gentle insipidity of Buddha's religion and the sanguinary
faith of the Aztecs.

The girls were under a rule similar to that of the boys. They led a hard
enough life in the convents set apart for them, fasting often, sleeping
without taking off their clothes, and (when it was their turn to be on
duty) getting up several times in the night to renew the incense that
burned perpetually before the gods. They learned to sew, to weave, and
to embroider the garments of the idols and the priests. It was they who
made the sacred cakes and the dough idols, whose place in the public
festivals I have described to you. At the age of fifteen, the same
selection took place among the girls as among the boys. Those who stayed
in the convent became either priestesses, charged with the lower
sacerdotal offices, or directresses of the convents set aside for
instruction, or simple nuns, who were known as _Cihuatlamacasque_, "lady
deaconesses," or _Cihuaquaquilli_, "lady herb-eaters," inasmuch as they
abstained from meat. The most absolute continence was rigorously
enforced, and breach of it was punished by death.[31]

One cannot but ask whether a priesthood so firmly organized, in which
was centred the whole intellectual life and all that can he called the
science of Mexico, had not elaborated any higher doctrines or cosmogonic
theories such as we owe to the priesthoods of the Old World, especially
when we know that they regulated the calendar, which presupposes some
astronomical conceptions.

But here we enter upon a region that has not yet been methodically
reclaimed by the historians. We have often enough been presented with
Mexican cosmogonies, but the fundamental error of all these expositions
is, that they present as a fixed and established body of doctrine what
was in reality a very loose and unformed mass of traditions and
speculations. The sponsors of these cosmogonies agree neither as to
their number nor their order of succession, and it is obvious that a
mistaken zeal to bring them as near as possible to the Biblical
tradition has been at work. An attempt has even been made to find a
Mexican Noah, coming out of the ark, in a fish-god emerging from a kind
of box floating on the waters.[32]

One thing, however, is certain, namely, that these cosmogonies are not
Aztec. The Aztec deities proper play no part in them. We may therefore
suppose that they are of Central American origin, or are due to that
priesthood of Quetzalcoatl which continued its silent work in the depths
of its mysterious retreats. The contradictions of our authorities as to
the number and order of these cosmogonies suggest the idea that their
arrangement one after another is no more than a harmonizing attempt to
bring various originally distinct cosmogonies into connection with each
other. The fact is that others yet are known, in addition to those which
have taken their place in what we may call the classical list
established by Humboldt and Müller.[33] In this classical list there
are five ages of the world, separated from each other by universal
cataclysms, something after the fashion of the successive creations of
the school of Cuvier. Each of these ages is called a Sun, and, according
to the elements that preponderate during their respective courses, they
are called, 1st, the Sun of the Earth; 2nd, the Sun of Fire; 3rd, the
Sun of the Air; and 4th, the Sun of Water. The fifth Sun, which is the
present one, has no special name. We cannot enter upon the details
concerning each of these Suns, and they are not very interesting in any
case. They contain confused reminiscences of primitive life, of the
ancient populations of Anahuac, of old and bygone worships, but nothing
particularly characteristic or original. The only specially striking
feature in this mass of cosmogonic traditions is the sense of the
instability of the established order alike of nature and society which
pervades them. What was it that inspired the Mexicans with this feeling?
Perhaps the mighty destructive forces for which tropical countries,
equatorial seas and volcanic regions, so often furnish a theatre, had
shaken confidence in the permanence of the physical constitution of the
world. Perhaps the numerous political and social revolutions, the
frequent successions of peoples, rulers and subjects in turn, had
accustomed the mind to conceive and anticipate perpetual changes, of
which the successive ages of the world were but the supreme expression;
and finally, perhaps that quasi-messianic expectation of the return of
Quetzalcoatl, to be accompanied by a complete renewal of things, may
have given an additional point of attachment to this belief in the
caducity of the whole existing order. What is certain is that this
sentiment itself was very widely spread. It served as a consolation to
the peoples who were crushed beneath the cruel yoke of the Aztecs. They
might well cherish the thought that all this would not last for ever;
and even the Aztecs themselves had no unbounded confidence in the
stability of their empire. The Spaniards profited greatly by this vague
and all but universal distrust. After their victory they made much of
pretended prodigies that had shadowed it forth, and even of prophecies
that had announced it.[34] But the state of mind of the populations
concerned being given, at whatever moment the Spaniards had arrived they
would have been able to appeal to auguries of a like kind, by dint of
just giving them that degree of precision and clearness which usually
distinguishes predictions that are recorded after their fulfilment!

A further proof that the Mexican religion helped to spread this sense of
the instability of things is furnished by the grand jubilee festival
which was celebrated every fifty-two years in the city of Mexico and
throughout the empire. The Mexican cycle, marking the coincidence of
four times thirteen lunar and four times thirteen solar years,[35]
counted two-and-fifty years, and was called a "sheaf of years." Now
whenever the dawn of the fifty-third year drew near, the question was
anxiously put, whether the world would last any longer, and preparations
were made for the great ceremony of the _Toxilmolpilia_, or "binding up
of years." The day before, every fire was extinguished. All the priests
of the city of Mexico marched in procession to a mountain situated at
two leagues' distance. The entire population followed them. They watched
the Pleiades intently. If the world was to come to an end, if the sun
was never to rise again, the Pleiades would not pass the zenith; but the
moment they passed it, it was known that a new era of fifty-two years
had been guaranteed to men. Fire was kindled anew by the friction of
wood. But the wood rested on the bosom of the handsomest of the
prisoners, and the moment it was lighted the victim's body was opened,
his heart torn out, and both heart and body burned upon a pile that was
lit by the new fire. No sooner did the people, who had remained on the
plain below, perceive the flame ascend, than they broke into delirious
joy. Another fifty-two years was before the world. More victims were
sacrificed in gratitude to the gods. Brands were lighted at the sacred
flame on the mountain, from which the domestic fires were in their turn
kindled, and swift couriers were despatched with torches, replaced
continually on the route, to the very extremities of the empire. It was
in the year 1507, twelve years before Cortes disembarked, that the
Toxilmolpilia was celebrated for the last time. In 1559, although the
mass of the natives had meanwhile been converted to Roman Catholicism,
the Spanish government had to take severe measures to prevent its

We have far firmer footing, then, than is furnished by the shifting
ground of the cosmogonies, when we insist upon the general prevalence of
the feeling that the world might veritably come to an end as it had done
before. Beyond this there was nothing fixed or generally accepted. Much
the same might be said of the future life. The Mexicans believed in
man's survival after death. This we see from the practice of putting a
number of useful articles into the tomb by the side of the corpse, after
first breaking them, so that they too might die and their spirits might
accompany that of the departed to his new abodes. They even gave him
some Tepitoton, or little household gods, to take with him, and as a
rule they killed a dog to serve as his guide in the mysterious and
painful journey which he was about to undertake. Sometimes a very rich
man would go so far as to have his chaplain slaughtered, that he might
not be deprived of his support in the other world. But in all this there
is nothing to distinguish the Mexican religion from the beliefs that
stretched over the whole of America, and there is no indication that any
moral conception had as yet vivified and hallowed the prospect beyond
the grave. The mass of ordinary mortals remained in the sombre, dreary,
monotonous realm of Mictlan; for in Mexico, as in Polynesia, a really
happy immortality was a privilege reserved for the aristocracy. There
were several paradises, including that of Tlaloc, and above all the
"mansion of the Sun," destined to receive the kings, the nobles and the
warriors. There they hunt, they dance, they accompany the sun in his
course, they can change themselves into clouds or humming-birds. An
exception is made, however, irrespective of social rank, in favour of
warriors who fall in battle and women who die in child-bed, as well as
for the victims sacrificed in honour of the celestial deities and
destined to become their servants. So, too, the paradise of Tlaloc, a
most beauteous garden, is opened to all who have been drowned (for the
god of the waters has taken them to himself), to all who have died of
the diseases caused by moisture, and to the children who have been
sacrificed to him. We recognize in these exceptions an unquestionable
tendency to introduce the idea of justice as qualifying the desolating
doctrine of aristocratic privilege; and probably this principle of
justice would have become preponderant, here as elsewhere, had not the
destinies of the Mexican religion been suddenly broken off. Nor is it
easy to explain the asceticism and austerities of which we have spoken,
except on the supposition that those who practised them all their lives
believed they were thereby acquiring higher rights in the future life.
It must be admitted, however, that it is not in its doctrine of a future
life that the Mexican religion reached its higher developments.

We must postpone till we have examined the Peruvian religion, which
presents so many analogies to that of Mexico, while at the same time
differing from it so considerably, the final considerations suggested by
the strange compound of beliefs, now so barbarous and now so refined,
which we have passed in review. Spanish monks, as we all know, succeeded
within a few years in bringing the populations who had submitted to the
hardy conquerors within the pale of their Church. It was no very
difficult task. The whole past had vanished. The royal families, the
nobility, the clergy, all had perished. Faith in the national gods had
been broken by events. The new occupants laid a grievous yoke upon the
subject peoples, whom they crushed and oppressed with hateful tyranny;
but we must do the Franciscan monks, who were first on the field in the
work of conversion, the justice of testifying that they did whatever in
them lay to soften the fate of their converts and to plead their cause
before the Court of Spain. Nor were their efforts always unsuccessful.
They were rewarded by the unstinted confidence and affection of the
unhappy natives, who found little pity or comfort save at the hands of
the good Fathers. Let us add that many of the peoples, especially those
from whom the human tithes of which we have spoken had been exacted by
the Aztecs, were sensible of the humane and charitable aspects of a
religion that repudiated these hideous sacrifices in horror, and raised
up the hearts of the oppressed by its promises of a future bliss
conditioned by neither birth nor social rank.[37]

But the worthy monks could not give what they had not got. And the
religious education which they gave their converts reflected only too
faithfully their own narrow and punctilious monastic spirit, itself
almost as superstitious, though in another way, as what it supplanted.
Nay, more: in spite of the best dispositions on either side, it was
inevitable that the ancient habits and beliefs should long maintain
themselves, though more or less shrouded beneath the new orthodoxy. In
1571, the terrible Inquisition of Spain came and established itself in
Mexico to put an end to this state of things; and alas! it found as
many heretics as it could wish to show that it had not come for nothing.
And when the natives saw the fearful tribunal at work, when the fires of
the _autos-da-fé_ were kindled on the plain of Mexico and consumed by
tens or hundreds the victims condemned by the Holy Office, do you
suppose that the new converts felt well assured in their own hearts that
the God of the Gospel was, after all, much better than Uitzilopochtli
and Tezcatlipoca?[38]

But we are stepping beyond the domain of history we have marked out for
ourselves. The religion of Mexico is dead, and we cannot desire a
resurrection for it. But the memory it has left behind is at once
mournful and instructive. It has enriched history with its confirmatory
evidence as to the genesis, the power and the tragic force of religion
in human nature; and he who inspects its annals, now so poetical and now
so terror-laden, pauses in pensive thought before the grotesque but
imposing monument which thrills him with admiration even while he
recoils with horror.




We pass to-day from North to South America; and as in the former we
confined ourselves to the district which presented the Europeans of the
sixteenth century with the unlooked-for spectacle of a native
civilization and religion in an advanced stage of development, so in the
latter we shall specially study that other indigenous civilization,
likewise supported and patronized by a very curious and original
religion, which established itself along the Cordilleras on the
immensely long but comparatively narrow strip of land between those
mountains and the ocean. Peru, like Mexico, was the country of an
organized solar religion; but the former, even more than the latter,
displays this religion worked into the very tissues of a most remarkable
social structure, with which it is so completely identified as not to be
so much as conceivable without it. The empire of the Incas is one of the
most complete and absolute theocracies--perhaps the very most complete
and absolute--that the world has seen. But in order to get a clear idea
of what the Peruvian religion was, we must first say a word as to the
country itself, its physical constitution and its history.

The Peru of the Incas, as discovered and conquered by the Spaniards,
transcended the boundaries of the country now so called, inasmuch as it
included the more ancient kingdom of Quito (corresponding pretty closely
to the modern republic of Ecuador), and extended over parts of the
present Chili and Bolivia. We learn from our ordinary maps that this
whole territory was narrowly confined between the mountains and the sea.
Observe, however, that it was nearly two thousand five hundred miles in
length, four times as long as France, and that its breadth varied from
about two hundred and fifty to about five hundred miles. From West to
East it presents three very different regions. 1. A strip along the
coast where rain hardly ever falls, but where the night dews are very
heavy and the produce of the soil tropical. 2. The _Sierra_ formed by
the first spurs of the Cordilleras, and already high enough above the
level of the sea to produce the vegetation of the temperate regions.
Here maize was cultivated on a large scale, and great herds of vicunias,
alpacas and llamas were pastured. And here we may note a great point of
advantage enjoyed by Peru over Mexico; for the llama, though not very
strong, serves as a beast of burden and traction, its flesh is well
flavoured and its wool most useful. 3. The _Montaña_, consisting of a
region even yet imperfectly known, over which extend unmeasured forests,
the home of the jaguar and the chinchilla, of bright-plumed birds and of
dreaded serpents. Above these forests stretch the dizzy peaks and the
volcanos. The most remarkable natural phenomenon of the country is the
lake Titicaca, about seven times as great as the lake of Geneva, not
far distant from the ancient capital Cuzco, and serving, like Anahuac,
the lake district of Mexico, as the chief focus of Peruvian civilization
and religion. The mysterious disappearance beneath the ground of the
river by which it empties itself, stimulated yet further the
myth-forming imagination of the dwellers on its shores.

There is a remarkable difference between the ways in which the two
civilizations of which we are speaking formed and consolidated
themselves in Mexico and Peru respectively. We have seen that in Mexico
the state of things to which the Spanish conquest put an end was the
result of a long series of revolutions and wars, in which successive
peoples had ruled and served in turn; and the Aztecs had finally seized
the hegemony, while adopting a civilization the origins of which must be
sought in Central America. In Peru things had followed a more regular
and stable course. The dynasty of the Incas had maintained itself for
about six centuries as the patron of social progress and of a remarkably
advanced culture. Starting from its native soil on the shores of Lake
Titicaca, and long confined in its authority to Cuzco and its immediate
territory, this family had finally succeeded in indefinitely extending
its dominion between the mountains and the sea, sometimes by successful
wars and sometimes by pacific means; for whole populations had more than
once been moved to range themselves of their own free will under the
sceptre of the Incas, so as to enjoy the advantages assured to their
subjects by their equitable rule. When Pizarro and his companions
disembarked in Peru, the great Inca, Huayna Capac, had but recently
completed the empire by the conquest of the kingdom of Quito.

It has been asked, which was the more marvellous feat, the conquest of
Mexico by Fernando Cortes, or that of Peru by Pizarro. One consideration
weighs heavily in favour of Cortes. It is that he was the first. When
Francisco Pizarro threw himself with his handful of adventurers upon
Peru in 1531, he had before him the example of his brilliant precursor,
to teach him how a few Europeans might impose by sheer audacity on the
amazed and superstitious peoples; and in many respects he simply copied
his model. Like him, he took advantage of the divisions and rivalries
of the natives; like him, he found means of securing the person of the
sovereign, and was thereby enabled to quell the subjects. On the other
hand, he had even fewer followers than Cortes. His company scarcely
numbered over two hundred men at first, and the Peruvian empire was more
compact and more wisely organized than that of Mexico. We shall
presently see the principal cause to which his incredible success must
be ascribed; but the net result seems to be, that one hesitates to
pronounce the feats of either adventurer more astounding than those of
the other, especially when we remember that Pizarro was without the
political genius of Fernando Cortes, and was so profoundly ignorant that
he could not so much as read!

The family of the Incas, whose scourge Pizarro proved to be, must have
numbered many fine politicians in its ranks. Never has what is called a
"dynastic policy" been pursued more methodically and ably. The proofs
assail us at every moment. The Incas were a family of priest-kings, who
reigned, as children of the Sun, over the Peruvian land, and the Sun
himself was the great deity of the country. To obey the Incas was to
obey the supreme god. Their person was the object of a veritable cultus,
and they had succeeded so completely in identifying the interests of
their own family with those of religion, of politics and of
civilization, that it was no longer possible to distinguish them one
from another. And yet it was this very method, so essentially
theocratic, of insisting on the minute regulation of all the actions of
human life in the name of religion, which finally ruined the Incas.
Peru, in the sixteenth century, had become one enormous convent, in
which everything was mechanically regulated, in which no one could take
the smallest initiative, in which everything depended absolutely upon
the will of the reigning Inca; so that the moment Pizarro succeeded in
laying hold of this Inca, this "father Abbé," everything collapsed in a
moment, and nothing was left of the edifice constructed with such
sagacity but a heap of sand. And indeed this is the fatal result of
every theocracy, for it can never really be anything but a _hierocracy_
or rule of priests. On the one hand it must be absolute, for the
sovereign priest rules in the name of God; and on the other hand it is
fatally impelled to concern itself with every minutest affair, to
interfere vexatiously in all private concerns (since they too affect
religious ethics and discipline), and to multiply regulations against
every possible breach of the ruling religion. It is a general lesson of
religious history that is illustrated so forcibly by the fate of the
Inca priest-kings.

I will not weary you in this case, any more than in that of Mexico, with
the enumeration of the authors to whom we must go for information on the
political and religious history of the strange country with which we are
dealing. I must, however, say a few words concerning a certain writer
who long enjoyed the highest of reputations, and was regarded throughout
the last century as the most trustworthy and complete authority in
Peruvian matters. The Peruvians, far as their civilization had advanced
in many respects, were behind even the Mexicans in the art of preserving
the memory of the past; for they had not so much as the imperfect
hieroglyphics known to the latter. They made use of _Quipus_ or
_Quipos_, indeed, which were fringes, the threads of which were
variously knotted according to what they were intended to represent; but
unfortunately the Peruvians anticipated on a large scale what so often
happens on the small scale amongst ourselves to those persons of
uncertain memory who tie knots on their handkerchiefs to remind them of
something important. They find the knot, indeed, but have forgotten what
it means! And so with the Peruvians. They were not always at one as to
the meaning of their ancient Quipos, and there were several ways of
interpreting them. Moreover, after the conquest, the few Peruvians who
might still have made some pretension to a knowledge of them did not
trouble themselves to initiate the Europeans into their filiform
writing. All that is left of it is the practice of the Peruvian women
who preserve this method of registering the sins they intend to record
against themselves in the confessional.[39] Let us hope that they at
least never experience any analogous infirmity to that which besets the
knot-tiers amongst ourselves.[40]

To return to the Peruvian author of whom I intended to speak. He is the
celebrated Garcilasso de la Vega, who published his _Commentarios
reales_ in 1609 and 1617.[41] Garcilasso's father was a European, but
his mother was a Peruvian, and, what is more, a _Palla_, that is to say,
a princess of the family of the Incas. Born in 1540, this Garcilasso had
received from his mother and a maternal uncle a great amount of
information as to the family, the history and the persons of the ancient
sovereigns. He was extremely proud of his origin; so much so, indeed,
that he issued his works under the name of "Garcilasso _el Inca_ de la
Vega," though he had no real title to the name of Inca, which could not
be transmitted by women. A genuine fervour breathes through his accounts
of the history of his Peruvian country and his glorious ancestors, and
it is to him that we owe the knowledge of many facts that would
otherwise have been lost. The interest of his narrative explains the
reputation so long enjoyed by his work, but the more critical spirit of
recent times has discovered that his filial zeal has betrayed him into
lavish embellishments of the situation created by the clever and
cautious policy of his forebears, the Incas. He has passed in silence
over many of their faults, and has attributed more than one merit to
them to which they have no just claim. But in spite of all this, when we
have made allowance for his family weakness, we may consult him with
great advantage as to the institutions and sovereigns of ancient Peru.

We must allow, with Garcilasso, that from the year 1000 A.D. onwards
(for he places the origin of their power at about this date) the Incas
had accomplished a work that may well seem marvellous in many respects.
Had there been any relations between Peru and Central America? Can we
explain the Peruvian civilization as the result of an emigration from
the isthmic region, or an imitation of what had already been realized
there? There is not the smallest trace of any such thing. No doubt it
would be difficult to justify a categorical assertion on a subject so
obscure; but it is certain that when they were discovered, Peru and the
kingdom of Quito were separated from North America by immense regions
plunged in the deepest savagery. Beginning at the Isthmus of Panama,
this savage district stretched over the whole northern portion of South
America, broken only by the demi-civilization of the Muyscas or Chibchas
(New Granada); and the Peruvians knew nothing of the Mexicans. Neither
the one nor the other were navigators, and nothing in the Peruvian
traditions betrays the least connection with Central America. The most
probable supposition is, that an indigenous civilization was
spontaneously developed in Peru by causes analogous to those which had
produced a similar phenomenon in the Maya country. In Peru, as in
Central America, the richness of the soil, the variety of its products,
the abundance of vegetable food, especially maize, secured the first
conditions of civilization. The Peruvian advance was further favoured by
the fact that it was protected towards the East by almost impassable
mountains, and towards the West by the sea, while to the North and South
it might concentrate its defensive forces upon comparatively narrow

The whole territory of the empire was divided into three parts. The
first was the property of the Sun, that is to say of the priests who
officiated in his numerous temples; the second belonged to the reigning
Inca; and the third to the people. The people's land was divided out
every year in lots apportioned to the needs of each family, but the
portions assigned to the _Curacas_, or nobles, were of a magnitude
suited to their superior dignity. Taxes were paid in days of labour
devoted to the lands of the Inca and those of the Sun, or in
manufactured articles of various kinds, for the cities contained a
number of artizans. Indeed, it was one of the maxims of the Incas that
no part of the empire, however poor, should be exempt from paying
tribute of one kind or another. To such a length was this carried, that
so grave a historian as Herrera tells us how the Inca Huayna Capac,
wishing to determine what kind of tribute the inhabitants of Pasto were
to pay, and being assured that they were so entirely without resources
or capacity of any kind that they could give him nothing at all, laid on
them the annual tribute of a certain measure of vermine, preferring, as
he said, that they should pay this singular tax rather than nothing.[42]
We cannot congratulate the officials commissioned to collect the
tribute, but we cite this sample in proof of the rigour with which the
Incas carried out the principles which they considered essential to the
government of the country. The special principle we have just
illustrated was founded on the idea that the Sun journeys and shines for
every one, and that accordingly every one should contribute towards the
payment of his services. For the rest, the great herds of llamas, which
constituted a regular branch of the national wealth, could only be owned
by the temples of the Sun and by the Inca. Every province, every town
or village, had the exact nature and the exact quantity of the products
it must furnish assigned, and the Incas possessed great depôts in which
were stored provisions, arms and clothes for the army. All this was
regulated, accounted for and checked by means of official Quipos.

The numerous body of officials charged with the general superintendence
and direction of affairs was organized in a very remarkable manner, well
calculated to consolidate the Inca's power. All the officials held their
authority from him, and represented him to the people, just as he
himself represented the Sun-god. At the bottom of the scale was an
official overseer for every ten families, next above an overseer of a
hundred families, then another placed over a thousand, and another over
ten thousand. Each province had a governor who generally belonged to the
family of the Incas. All this constituted a marvellous system of
surveillance and espionage, descending from the sovereign himself to the
meanest of his subjects, and founded on the principle that the rays of
the Sun pierce everywhere. The lowest members of this official
hierarchy, the superintendents of ten families, were responsible to
their immediate superiors for all that went on amongst those under their
charge, and those superiors again were responsible to the next above
them, and so on up to the Inca himself, who thus held the threads of the
whole vast net-work in the depths of his palace. It was another maxim of
the Peruvian state that every one must work, even old men and children.
Infants under five alone were excepted. It was the duty of the
superintendents of ten families to see that this was carried out
everywhere, and they were armed with disciplinary powers to chastise
severely any one who remained idle, or who ordered his house ill, or
gave rise to any scandal. Individual liberty then was closely
restrained. No one could leave his place of residence without leave. The
time for marriage was fixed for both sexes--for women at eighteen to
twenty, for men at twenty-four or upwards. The unions of the noble
families were arranged by the Inca himself, and those of the inferior
classes by his officers, who officially assigned the young people one
to another. Each province had its own costume, which might not be
changed for any other, and every one's birthplace was marked by a ribbon
of a certain colour surrounding his head.[43] In a word, the Jesuits
appear to have copied the constitution of the Peruvian society when they
organized their famous Paraguay missions, and perhaps this fact may help
us to trace the profound motives which in either case suggested so
minutely precise a system of inserting individuals into assigned places
which left no room for self-direction. The Incas and the Jesuits alike
had to contend against the disconnected, incoherent turbulence of savage
life, and both alike were thereby thrown upon an exaggerated system of
regulations, in which each individual was swaddled and meshed in
supervisions and ordinances from which it was impossible to escape.

Having said so much, we must acknowledge that, generally speaking, the
Incas made a very humane and paternal use of their absolute power. They
strove to moderate the desolating effects of war, and generally treated
the conquered peoples with kindness. But we note that in the century
preceding that of the European conquest, they had devised a means of
guarding against revolts exactly similar to the measures enforced
against rebellious peoples by the despotic sovereigns of Nineveh and
Babylon; that is to say, they transported a great part of the conquered
populations into other parts of their empire, and it appears that Cuzco,
like Babylon, presented an image in miniature of the whole empire.
There, as at Babylon, a host of different languages might be heard, and
it was amongst the children of the deported captives that Pizarro, like
Cyrus at Babylon, found allies who rejoiced in the fall of the empire
that had crushed their fathers. For the rest, the Incas endeavoured to
spread the language of Cuzco, the _Quechua_, throughout their
empire.[44] Nothing need surprise us in the way of political sagacity
and insight on the part of this priestly dynasty. Its monarchs seem to
have hit upon every device which has been imagined elsewhere for
attaching the conquered peoples to themselves or rendering their
hostility harmless. Thus you will remember that at Mexico there was a
chapel that served as a prison for the idols of the conquered. In the
same way there stood in the neighbourhood of Cuzco a great temple with
seventy-eight chapels in it, where the images of all the gods worshipped
in Peru were assembled. Each country had its altar there, on which
sacrifice was made according to the local customs.[45]

The Spaniards, amongst whom respect for the royal person was
sufficiently profound, were amazed by the marks of extreme deference of
which the Inca was the object. They could not understand at first that
actual religious worship was paid to him. He alone had the inherent
right to be carried on a litter, and he never went out in any other
way, imitating the Sun, his ancestor, who traverses the world without
ever putting his foot to the ground. Some few men and women of the
highest rank might rejoice in the same distinction, but only if they had
obtained the Inca's sanction. In the same way, it was only the members
of the Inca family and the nobles of most exalted rank who were allowed
to wear their hair long, for this was a distinctive sign of the
favourites of the Sun. None could enter the presence of the reigning
Inca save bare-footed, clad in the most simple garments and bearing a
burden on his shoulders, all in token of humility; nor must he raise his
eyes throughout the audience, for no man looks upon the face of the Sun.
It seems that the Incas possessed "the art of royal majesty" in a high
degree. They could retain the impassive air of indifference, whatever
might be going on before their eyes, like the Sun, who passes without
emotion over everything that takes place below. It was thus that
Atahualpa appeared to the Spaniards, who remarked the all but stony
fixity of the Peruvian monarch's features in the presence of all the new
sights--horses, riding, fire-arms--which filled his subjects with
surprise and terror.[46] And such was the superhuman character of the
Inca, that even the base office of a spittoon--excuse such a detail--was
supplied by the hand of one of his ladies.[47] The salute was given to
the Inca by kissing one's hand and then raising it towards the Sun. At
his death the whole country went into mourning for a year. The young
Incas were educated together, under conditions of great austerity, and
were never allowed to mingle with young people of the inferior

The army of the Incas was the army of the Sun. The obligation to
military service was universal, since the Sun shines for all men. Every
sound man from twenty-five to fifty might be called on to serve in his
company. Thus numerous and highly-disciplined armies were raised, for
the spirit of obedience had penetrated all classes of the people. The
Incas had abolished the use of poisoned arrows, which is so common
amongst the natives of the New World.[49]

Justice was organized after fixed laws, and, as is usually the case in
theocracies, these laws were severe. For in theocracies, to the social
evil of the offence is added the impiety committed against the Deity and
his representative on earth. The culprit has been guilty not only of
crime, but of sacrilege. The penalty of death was freely inflicted even
in the case of offences that implied no evil disposition.[50] The
palanquin-bearer, for instance, who should stumble under his august
burden when carrying the Inca, or any one who should speak with the
smallest disrespect of him, must die. But we must also note certain
principles of sound justice which the Incas had likewise succeeded in
introducing. The judges were controlled, and, in case of unjust
judgments, punished. The law was more lenient to a first offence than to
a second, to crimes committed in the heat of the moment than to those of
malise prepense; more lenient to children than to adults, and (mark
this) more lenient to the common people than to the great.[51] The
members of the Inca family alone were exempted from the penalty of
death, which in their case was replaced by imprisonment for life. They
alone might, and indeed must, marry their sisters, for a reason that we
shall see further on. Thus everything was calculated to set this divine
family apart. Polygamy, too, was only allowed to the Incas and to the
families of next highest rank after them, who, however, might not marry
at all without the personal assent of the sovereign.[52] But the Incas
strove to make themselves loved. Herrera tells us of establishments in
which orphans and foundlings were brought up at the Inca's charges, and
of the alms he bestowed on widows who had no means of subsistence.[53]

The same deliberate system shows itself in the attempts to spread
education. The Incas founded schools, but they were opened only to the
children of the Incas and of the nobility. This is a genuine theocratic
trait. Garcilasso tells us naively that his ancestor the Inca Roca
(1200--1249) in founding public schools had no idea of allowing _the
people_ "to get information, grow proud, and disturb the state."[54] The
instruction, which was given by the _amautas_ (sages), turned on the
history or traditions of the country, on the laws, and on religion. We
have said that writing was unknown. There were only the mnemonic Quipos,
pictures on linen representing great events, and some rudimentary
attempts at hieroglyphics which the Incas do not seem to have
encouraged. Indeed, there is reason to believe that the hieroglyphics
found graven on the rocks of Yonan are anterior to the Inca
supremacy;[55] and it is said that a certain _amauta_ who had attempted
to introduce a hieroglyphic alphabet, was burned to death for impiety at
the order of the Inca.[56]

The most remarkable results of the rule of the Incas are seen in the
material well-being which they secured to their people. All the
historians speak of the really extraordinary perfection to which
Peruvian agriculture had been carried, though the use of iron was quite
unknown. The solar religion fits perfectly with the habits of an
agricultural people, and the Incas thought it became them, as children
of the Sun, to encourage the cultivation of the soil. They ordered the
execution of great public works, such as supporting walls to prevent the
sloping ground from being washed away; irrigation canals, some of which
measured five hundred miles, and which were preserved with scrupulous
care; magazines of guano, the fertilizing virtues of which were known in
Peru long before they were learned in Europe.[57] The Spaniards are far
from having maintained Peruvian agriculture at the level it had reached
under the Incas. Splendid roads stretched from Cuzco towards the four
quarters of heaven; and Humboldt still traced some of them, paved with
black porphyry, or in other cases cemented or rather macadamized, and
often launched over ravines and pierced through hills with remarkable
boldness.[58] The Incas had established reservoirs of drinking water for
the public use from place to place along these roads, and likewise
pavilions for their own accommodation when they were traversing their
realms, on which occasions they never travelled more than three or four
leagues a day. Bridges were thrown across the rivers, sometimes built of
stone, but more often constructed on the method, so frequently
described, that consists in uniting the opposing banks by two parallel
ropes, along which a great basket is slung.[59] A system of royal
courier posts measured the great roads as in Mexico. There were many
important cities in Peru, and, according to a contemporary estimate
cited by Prescott, the capital, Cuzco, even without including its
suburbs, must have embraced at least two hundred thousand
inhabitants.[60] Architecture was in a developed stage. We shall have to
speak of the temples presently. The Inca's palaces--and there was at
least one in every city of any importance--were of imposing dimensions,
and a high degree of comfort and luxury was displayed within them. Gold
glittered on the walls and beneath the roofs which were generally
thatched with straw. They were provided with inner courts, spacious
halls, sculptures in abundance, but inferior, it would seem, to those of
Central America, and baths in which hot or cold water could be turned on
at will.[61] In a word, when we remember from how many resources the
Peruvians were still cut off by their ignorance and isolation, we cannot
but admit that a genuine civilization is opening before our eyes, the
defects of which must not blind us to its splendour. And since this
civilization was in great part due (we shall see the force of the
qualification presently) to the continuous efforts of the Incas, our
next task must be to ascend to the mythic origin of that family, which
we borrow from the narrative of their descendant, Garcilasso de la

Properly speaking, this narrative is the local myth of the Lake
Titicaca and of Cuzco, transformed into an imperial myth.

Before the Incas, we are told, men lived in the most absolute savagery.
They were addicted to cannibalism and offered human victims to gods who
were gross like themselves. At last the Sun took pity on them, and sent
them two of his children, Manco Capac and Mama Ogllo (or Oullo, Ocollo,
Oolle, &c.), to establish the worship of the Sun and alleviate their
lot. The two emissaries, son and daughter of the Sun and Moon, rose one
day from the depths of the Lake Titicaca. They had been told that a
golden splinter which they bore with them would pierce the earth at the
spot in which they were to establish themselves, and the augury was
fulfilled on the site of Cuzco, the name of which signifies _navel._[63]
Observe that, in classical antiquity, Babylon, Athens, Delphi, Paphos,
Jerusalem, and so forth, each passed for the navel of the earth. Manco
Capac and Mama Ogllo, then, established the worship of the Sun. They
taught the savage inhabitants of the place agriculture and the principal
trades, the art of building cities, roads and aqueducts. Mama Ogllo
taught the women to spin and weave. They appointed a number of overseers
to take care that every one did his duty; and when they had thus
regulated everything in Cuzco, they re-ascended to heaven. But they left
a son and daughter to continue their work. Like their parents, the
brother and sister became husband and wife, and from them descends the
sovereign family of the Incas, that is to say, the Lord-rulers, or

Such is the legend, from which the first deduction must be that the Inca
family has nothing in common with the other denizens of earth. It is
super-imposed, as it were, on humanity. It is because of this difference
of origin that the laws which restrain the rest of mankind are not
always applicable to the Incas. For example, they marry their sisters,
as Manco Capac did, and as the Sun does, for the Moon is at once his
wife and his sister. It is thus that they are enabled to preserve the
divine character of their unique family.

For ourselves, we can entertain no doubt that this is a cosmic myth.
Mama Ogllo, or "the mother egg," and Manco Capac, or "the mighty man,"
are two creators. The myth indicates that there existed an ancient solar
priesthood on one of the islands or on the shores of the Lake of
Titicaca (at an early date the focus of a certain civilization), and
that this priestly family became at a given period the ruling power at
Cuzco. It was thence that it radiated over the small states which
surrounded Cuzco, embracing them one after another under its prestige
and its power, until it had become the redoubtable dynasty that we know
it. Manco Capac and Mama Ogllo, the creator and the cosmic egg, have
become the Sun and Moon, represented by their Inca high-priest and his
wife. There is no practice towards which a more wide-spread tendency
exists in America than that of conferring the name of a deity on his
chief priest. And if Garcilasso fixes the appearance of Manco Capac at
about 1000 A.D., it is simply because the historical recollections of
his family mounted no higher, and that about that time it began to rise
out of its obscurity. It had the advantage of numbering in its royal
line both successful warriors and, what is more, consummate
politicians, instances of whose ability we have already seen and shall
see again.

The point at which the legend preserved by Garcilasso is clearly at
fault, is in its claim for the Incas as the first and only civilizers of
Peru. We shall presently meet with other Peruvian myths of civilization
which do not stand in the least connection with Manco Capac and the
Incas. The kingdom of Quito, which the Inca Huayna Capac had recently
conquered when the Spaniards arrived, though not on the same level as
Peru proper, was far removed from the savage state, while as yet a
stranger to the influence of the Incas. The country of the Muyscas, the
present New Granada or land of Bogota, though standing in no connection
with Peru, was the theatre of another sacerdotal and solar religion _sui
generis_, which, though very little known, is highly interesting. The
valley of the Rimac, or Lima, and the coast lands in general, were
likewise centres of a pre-Inca civilization. The Chimus especially,
themselves dwellers on the coast, were possessed of an original
civilization differing from that of the Incas. They were the last to be
conquered. To sum up, everything leads us to suppose that various
centres of social development had long existed, up and down the whole
region, but that, under the presiding genius of the priesthood of Manco
Capac, the civilization of Cuzco had gradually acquired the
preponderance, till it consecutively eclipsed and absorbed all the

Garcilasso labours hard to impress us with the belief that the
sovereigns of his family maintained an unbroken age of gold, by dint of
their wisdom and virtues. But we know, both from himself and from other
sources, that as a matter of fact the Incas' sky was not always
cloudless. They had numbered both bad and incapable rulers in their
line. More than once they had had to suppress terrible insurrections,
and their palaces had witnessed more than one tragedy."[64] But after
making all allowances, we must admit that they succeeded in governing
well, and more especially in maintaining intact their own religious and
political prestige.

Now this very cleverness, this conscious and often extremely deliberate
and astutely calculated policy, compels us to ask how far the Incas
themselves were sincere in their pretension to be descended from the
Sun, and their faith in the very special favour in which the great
luminary held them. There is so much rationalism in their habitual
tactics, that one cannot help suspecting a touch of it in their beliefs.
And the truth is that their descendant, Garcilasso, has recorded certain
traditions to that effect, which he has perhaps dressed up a little too
much in European style, with a view to convincing us that his ancestors
were monotheistic philosophers, but which nevertheless bear the marks of
a certain authenticity. For the reasoning which Garcilasso puts into the
mouth of the Incas closely resembles what would naturally commend itself
to the mind of a pagan who should once ask himself whether the visible
phenomenon, the Sun, which he adored, was really as living, as
conscious, as personal, as they said. Thus the Inca Tupac Yupanqui
(fifteenth century) is said to have reasoned thus:[65]

    "They say that the Sun lives, and that he does everything. But
    when one does anything, he is near to the thing he does; whereas
    many things take place while the Sun is absent. It therefore
    cannot be he who does everything. And again, if he were a living
    being, would he not be wearied by his perpetual journeyings? If
    he were alive, he would experience fatigue, as we do; and if he
    were free, he would visit other parts of the heavens which he
    never traverses. In truth, he seems like a thing held to its
    task that always measures the same course, or like an arrow that
    flies where it is shot and not where it wills itself."

Note this line of reasoning, Gentlemen, which must have repeated itself
in many minds when once they had acquired enough independence and power
of thought calmly to examine those natural phenomena which primitive
naïveté had animated, personified and adored as the lords of destiny.
Their fixity and their mechanical and unvarying movements, when once
observed, could not fail to strike a mortal blow at the faith of which
they were the object. That faith was transformed without being radically
changed when it was no longer the phenomenon itself, but the personal
and directing spirit, the genius, the deity that was behind the
phenomenon, but distinct from it and capable of detaching itself from
it, which drew to itself the worship of the faithful. But in his turn
this god, shaped in the image of man, must either be refined into pure
spirit, or must fall below the rational and moral ideal ultimately
conceived by man himself. When all is said and done, Gentlemen, Buddhism
is still a religion of Nature. It is the last word of that order of
religions, and exists to show us that, at any rate in its authentic and
primitive form, that last word is _nothingness_. And that is why
Buddhism has never existed in its pure form as a popular religion. For
in religion, and at every stage of religion, mind seeks mind. Without
that, religion is nothing. Note, too, the observant Inca's remark, that
if the Sun were alive he must be dreadfully tired. You may find the same
idea in more than one European mythology, in which the Sun appears as an
unhappy culprit condemned to a toilsome service for some previous fault;
or, again, an iron constitution is given him, to explain why he is not
worn out by his ceaseless journeying.

Now Tupac Yupanqui would not be the only Inca who cherished a certain
scepticism concerning his ancestor the Sun. Herrera tells us that the
Inca Viracocha denied that the Sun was God;[66] and according to a story
preserved by Garcilasso,[67] the Inca Huayna Capac, the conqueror of
Quito, who died shortly after Pizarro's first disembarkment, must have
been quite as much of a rationalist. One day, during the celebration of
a festival in honour of the Sun, he is said to have gazed at the great
luminary so long and fixedly that the chief priest ventured on some
respectful remarks to the effect that so irreverent a proceeding must
surprise the people. "I will ask you two questions," replied the
monarch. "I am your king and universal lord. Would any one of you have
the hardihood to order me to rise from my seat and take a long journey
for his pleasure?... And would the richest and most powerful of my
vassals dare to disobey if I should command him on the spot to set out
in all speed for Chili?" And when the priest answered in the negative,
the Inca continued: "Then I tell you there must be a greater and a more
mighty lord above our father the Sun, who orders him to take the course
he follows day by day. For if he were himself the sovereign lord, he
would now and again omit his journey and rest, for his pleasure, even if
he experienced no necessity for doing so."

Once more: I will not vouch for the exact form of these audacious
speculations of the free-thinking Inca. But such reminiscences,
collected independently by various authors, correspond to the
conjectures forced upon us by the extreme political sagacity of the
Incas. None but theocrats, in whose own hearts faith in their central
principle was waning, could develop such astuteness and diplomacy. A
sincere and untried faith has not recourse to so many expedients
dictated by policy and the fear lest the joint in the armour should be
found. It is to be presumed, however, that these heterodox speculations
of the Incas themselves never passed beyond the narrow circle of the
family and its immediate surroundings. Nothing of the kind would ever be
caught by the ear of the people. But the evidence as to Huayna Capac's
scepticism derives a certain confirmation from the fact that he was the
first Inca who departed (to the woe of his empire, as it turned out)
from some of the hereditary maxims that had always been scrupulously
observed by his ancestors.

Huayna Capac had considerably extended the Peruvian empire by the
conquest of the kingdom of Quito. In the hope, presumably, of
consolidating his conquest, he resided for a long time in the
newly-acquired territory, and married the conquered king's daughter, to
whom he became passionately attached. This was absolutely contrary to
one of the statutes of the Inca family, no member of which was allowed
to marry a stranger. By his foreign wife he had a son called Atahualpa,
and whether it was that he thought it good policy to allow a certain
autonomy to the kingdom of Quito, or whether it was due to his
tenderness towards Atahualpa's mother and the son she had borne him,
certain it is that when he died at Quito in 1525, he decided that
Atahualpa should reign over this newly-acquired kingdom, whilst his
other son Huascar, the unimpeachably legitimate Inca, was to succeed him
as sovereign of Peru proper. This, again, was a violation of the maxim
that the kingdom of the Incas, which was the kingdom of the Sun, was
never to be parted. It was in the midst of the struggles provoked by the
hostility of the two brothers that Pizarro fell like a meteor amongst
the Peruvians, who did not so much as know of the existence of any other
land than the one they inhabited.

But the hour warns me that I must pause. When next we meet, I shall
have to recount the fall of the great religious dynasty of the Incas,
and we shall then examine more closely that Peruvian religion of which
we have to-day but sketched the outline.





You will remember that when last we met we traced out the legendary
origin of the royal house of the Incas. Starting from the shores of the
Lake Titicaca and the city of Cuzco, and progressively extending its
combined religious and political dominion over the numerous countries
situated west of the Cordilleras, it had welded them into one vast
empire, centralized and organized in a way that, in spite of its
defects, extorts our admiration. You had occasion to notice the
extraordinary degree to which the consummate practical sagacity which
distinguished the sacerdotal and imperial family of the Sun for
successive centuries, was combined with purely mythological principles
of faith; and we were compelled to ask whether so much diplomacy was
really consistent with unreserved belief. Finally we saw that, according
to the historians, more than one of the Incas had in fact expressed and
justified a doubt as to the living and conscious personality of that
Sun-god whose descendants they were supposed to be. The position of
affairs when the Spaniards disembarked on the shores of Peru is already
known to you. The Inca Huayna Capac, conqueror of Quito, had broken with
the constitutional maxims of his dynasty, in the first place by marrying
a stranger, the daughter of a deposed king; and in the second place by
leaving the kingdom of Quito to the son, Atahualpa, whom she bore him;
while he allowed Huascar, the heir-apparent to the empire, to succeed
him in Peru proper, thus severing into two parts the kingdom of the Sun,
in defiance of the principle hitherto recognized, which forbad the
division of that kingdom under any circumstances.

The war which speedily arose between Atahualpa and his half-brother
Huascar was the great cause that made it possible for Pizarro and his
miniature army to get a footing in the Peruvian territory. The military
forces of both sections of the empire were engaged with each other far
away from the place of landing, and the inhabitants, wholly unaccustomed
to take any initiative, made no resistance to the strange invaders,
whose appearance, arms and horses, struck terror into their hearts, and
in whom (like the Mexicans in the case of Cortes and his followers) they
thought they saw supernatural beings. Pizarro, who knew how things
stood, had but one idea, viz., to imitate Cortes in laying hold of the
sovereign's person. Atahualpa returned victorious. He had defeated
Huascar, slaughtered many members of the Inca family, and thrown his
conquered brother into prison, so as to govern Peru in his name, for he
was not sure that he himself would be recognized and obeyed as a
legitimate descendant of the Sun. Pizarro found means of making his
arrival known to him, and at the same time offered him his alliance
against his enemies.[68] Atahualpa was delighted with these overtures,
and invited his pretended allies to a conference near Caxamarca, where
the Spaniards had installed themselves. The Inca advanced, parading all
the pomp and splendour of his solar divinity. Four hundred richly-clad
attendants preceded his palanquin, which sparkled at a thousand points
with gold and precious stones, and was borne on the shoulders of
officers drawn from amongst the highest nobles, while troops of male and
female dancers followed the child of the Sun and plied their art. Then
ensued one of those unique scenes of history upon which, as indignation
contends with amazement for the mastery in our minds, we must pause for
a moment to gaze.

Pizarro's almoner, Father Valverde, drew near to the Inca, a crucifix in
one hand and a missal in the other, and by means of an interpreter
delivered a regular discourse to him, in which he announced that Pope
Alexander VI. had given all the lands of America to the King of Spain,
which he had a right to do as the successor of St. Peter, who was
himself the Vicar of the Son of God. Then he expounded the chief
articles of Christian orthodoxy, and summoned the Inca there and then
to abjure the religion of his ancestors, receive baptism, and submit to
the sovereignty of the King of Spain. On these conditions he might
continue to reign. Otherwise he must look for every kind of disaster.

Atahualpa was literally stupefied. Much of the discourse, no doubt, he
failed to follow, but what he did understand filled him with
indignation. He answered that he reigned over his peoples by hereditary
right, and could not see how a foreign priest could dispose of lands
that were not his. He should remain faithful to the religion of his
fathers, "especially," he added, as he pointed to the crucifix grasped
by the monk, "since my god, the Sun, is at any rate alive; whereas the
one you propose for my acceptance, as far as I gather, is dead."
Finally, he desired to know whence his interlocutor had derived all the
strange things that he had told him. "Hence!" cried Valverde, holding
out his missal. The Inca, who had never seen a book in all his life,
took this object, so new to him, in his hands, opened it, put it to his
ear, and finding that it said nothing, flung it contemptuously on the

Pizarro saw the moment for striking the blow he contemplated. Crying out
at the sacrilege, he gave his soldiers the signal of attack. Their
horses and fire-arms caused an instant panic. In vain did some of his
officers attempt to defend the Inca. Pizarro broke through to him,
seized him by the arm and dragged him to his quarters. All his escort
fled in terror.

Atahualpa, then, was in the immediate power of Pizarro, who (still
imitating Cortes) surrounded his prisoner with every comfort and
attention, though confining him strictly to one chamber, and warning him
that any attempt at escape or resistance would be the signal for his
death. Atahualpa soon perceived that thirst for gold was the great
motive that had impelled the Spaniards to their audacious enterprize. He
hoped to disarm them by offering as ransom gold enough to fill the
chamber in which he was confined up to the height of a man. He gave the
necessary orders for collecting the precious metal in the requisite
amount, and to secure the good reception of the emissaries whom Pizarro
despatched everywhere to receive it. One of these detachments even
entered into relations with the captive Inca, Huascar, and the latter
hastened to offer the Spaniards yet more gold than Atahualpa was giving
them if they would take his part. Atahualpa heard of this, was alarmed,
regarded his conquered brother's attempts in the light of high-treason,
gave orders for his death--and was obeyed.[69]

He was not aware how precarious was his own tenure of life. Pizarro saw
more and more clearly that, in order to become the real master of Peru,
he must get rid of the reigning Inca, and put some child in his place,
who would be a passive instrument in his hands. He was fairly alarmed by
the religious obedience, timid but absolute, that the "child of the
Sun," even in his captivity, received from all classes of his subjects.
He fancied that from the recesses of his prison, and even while paying
off his enormous ransom,[70] Atahualpa had sent secret orders to the
most distant populations to arm themselves and come to his rescue. The
interpreter through whom he communicated with his captive was out of
temper with his master, for his head had been so turned by ambition,
that he had demanded the hand of a _coya_, that is to say, one of the
Inca's women, and had been haughtily refused. In revenge, he made
malicious reports to Pizarro. But it was an accidental circumstance that
brought the latter's ill-will towards his captive to a point. The Inca
greatly admired the art of writing when he discovered all the uses the
Spaniards made of it. One day it occurred to him to get one of the
soldiers on guard over him to write the word _Dio_ upon his nail, and he
was delighted and astonished to find that every one to whom he showed it
read it in the same way. So they told him that every one a little above
the common herd could read and write in Europe. His evil star would
have it that he showed his thumb one day to Pizarro, who could make
nothing of it. Pizarro, then, could not read! Atahualpa concluded that
he was merely one of the common herd, and found an opportunity of
telling him so. Pizarro, stung to the quick, hesitated no longer. A mock
judgment condemned Atahualpa to the extreme penalty for the crimes of
idolatry, polygamy, usurpation, fratricide and rebellion. In vain he
appealed to the King of Spain. He was led to the stake, and Father
Valverde made him purchase by a baptism _in extremis_ the privilege of
being strangled instead of burned alive.

From this moment the fate of Peru was decided. The head once struck from
the great body, long convulsions ensued, but no serious resistance was
possible. Pizarro set up as Inca a young brother of Huascar's, who was
at first a mere instrument in the hands of his country's bleeders, but
afterwards escaped and raised insurrections which ended in his total
defeat. The Spaniards had been reinforced, and had found allies amongst
the peoples who had been torn from their native soils by the victorious
Incas.[71] Other attempts, still attaching themselves to the name of
some Inca, failed in like manner. And yet the mass of the Peruvians, in
spite of their conversion to Roman Catholicism, remained obstinately
attached to the memory of their Incas. One of their real or pretended
descendants, in the eighteenth century, did not shrink from serving as a
domestic at Madrid and Rome, as the only means of learning the secret of
that European power which had so cruelly crushed his ancestors.[72] But
on his return to Peru (1744 A.D.) his efforts only ended in his
destruction. But this did not prevent a certain Tupac Amarou, who was
descended from the Incas through a female line, from fomenting a
rebellion in 1780, which it cost the Spaniards an effort to
suppress.[73] Later on, after the revolution that broke the bond of
subjection to Spain, this stubborn hostility of the Peruvians changed
its character; but in 1867, Bustamente still tried to make capital out
of the historical attachment of the natives to the Incas by declaring
himself their descendant. The opposition, however, had long lost all
vestige of a religious character. The legend of Manco Capac, which is
still current amongst the people, has been euhemerized. It is now no
more than the story of a just and enlightened prince, the benefactor of
the country. The natives, it seems, are fond of playing a kind of drama,
in which the trial and death of Atahualpa are represented. Superstitious
to the last degree, they accept the practices of Catholicism with a
submission that has in it more of a melancholy and hopeless resignation
than an ardent or trusting faith. The glorious age of the Incas is gone,
and will never return, but it is still regretted.[74]


And now it is high time that we examined that religion which was so
closely associated with the whole national life of Peru.

From all that I have said already, you will easily understand that the
Sun has never been worshipped more directly or with more devotion than
in Peru. It was he whom the Peruvians regarded as sovereign lord of the
world, king of the heaven and the earth. His Peruvian name was _Inti_,
"Light." The villages were usually built so as to look eastward, in
order that the inhabitants might salute the supreme god as soon as he
appeared in the morning. The most usual representation of him was a
golden disk representing a human face surrounded by rays and flames. In
Peru, as everywhere else, a feeling existed that there was a certain
relation between the substance of gold and that of the great luminary.
In the nuggets torn from the mountain sides they thought they saw the
Sun's tears.[75] The great periodic fêtes of the year, the imperial and
national festivals in which every one took part, were those held in
honour of the Sun.

Immediately after him came his sister and consort the Moon, Mama Quilla.
Her image was a disk of silver bearing human features, and silver played
the same part in her worship that gold did in that of the Sun. It
appears, however, that they performed fewer sacrifices to her than to
her august consort, which is quite in harmony with the inferior position
assigned to woman in the Peruvian civilization.[76] Like Selene amongst
the Greeks, Mama Quilla, and her incarnation in human form, Mama Ogllo,
were weavers. And that is why the latter was said to have taught the
Peruvian women the art of spinning and weaving. This is a mythological
conception suggested by likening the moonbeams to twisted threads, out
of which on fair clear nights the brilliant verdure in which the earth
is clad is spun.

But before going on to the gods who form the usual retinue of these two
official and imperial deities, I must speak of two great Peruvian gods
whose worship was likewise widely spread, but who nevertheless are not
attached to the solar family, or at least are only so attached by an
after-thought and by dint of harmonizing efforts which the Incas had
their motives of policy for favouring: I mean the two great deities,
_Viracocha_ and _Pachacamac_.

The myth of Viracocha is the first instance we shall cite of traces of a
certain civilization prior to the Incas, or at any rate of a belief
widely spread in some parts of Peru that civilization had not really
been, as the legend of the Incas would have it, the sole work of that
sacerdotal family. The name of Viracocha must be very ancient, for it
became a generic name to signify divine beings. It was given to Manco
Capac himself as a title of honour, and the Spaniards on their arrival
passed as _Viracochas_ in the eyes of the people. This name, according
to Spanish authorities, followed by Prescott,[77] signifies _Foam of the
sea_ or of the _lake_. This would make the deity a male Aphrodite. He
was represented with a long beard, and human victims were sacrificed to
him. At the same time, they said that he had neither flesh nor bone,
that he ran swiftly, and that he lowered mountains and lifted up
valleys. The following legend was told of him.[78]

There were men on the earth before the Sun appeared, and the temples of
Viracocha, for instance, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, are older than
the Sun. One day Viracocha rose out of the lake. He made the sun, the
moon, the stars, and prescribed their course for them. Then he made
stone statues, put life into them, and commanded them to go out of the
caverns in which he had made them and follow him to Cuzco. There he
summoned the inhabitants, and set a man over them called Allca Vica, who
was the common ancestor of the Incas. Then he departed and disappeared
in the water.

Evidently this myth belongs to a different body of tradition from that
of the Incas. When it says that the earth was peopled before the Sun
appeared, it is only a mythical way of asserting that there were men and
even cities in Peru before the establishment of Sun-worship by the
Incas. Now the latter claimed direct descent from the Sun, the supreme
god, and they would not have readily allowed that this supreme deity had
been made by another. One is rather tempted to find in this myth the
echo of the claims put forward with equal resignation and persistency by
a priesthood of Viracocha, that bowed its head before the supremacy
acquired by the solar priesthood, but insisted all the same upon the
fact that it was itself its elder brother.

But to what element can we affiliate the god Viracocha himself?

His aquatic name, _Foam of the sea_ or _lake_, in itself leads us to
suppose that he was closely related to the water. The supposition is
confirmed by the saying that he had neither flesh nor bone, and yet ran
swiftly. We can understand, too, why he lowers mountains and raises
valleys. He rises from the water and disappears in it. He is bearded,
like all aquatic gods, with their fringes of reeds. Finally, his consort
and sister Cocha is the lake itself, and also the goddess of rain. An
old Peruvian hymn that was chanted under the Incas, and has fortunately
been preserved, raises the character we have assigned to Viracocha
above all doubt.[79] The goddess Cocha is represented as carrying an urn
full of water and snow on her head. Her brother Viracocha breaks the
urn, that its contents may spread over the earth. Here is the hymn,
which is composed in nineteen short verses or lines:

     1. Fair Princess,
     3. Thy urn
     2. Thy brother
     4. Shatters.
     5. At the blow
     6. It thunders, lightens
     7. Flashes;
     8. But thou, Princess,
    10. Rainest down
     9. Thy waters.
    11. At the same time
    12. Hailest,
    13. Snowest.
    14. World-former,
    15. World-animator,
    16. Viracocha,
    17. To this office
    18. Thee has destined,
    19. Consecrated.

It admits of no doubt, therefore, that Viracocha held a place in the
Peruvian Pantheon closely analogous to that of Tlaloc, the rain-god, in
its Mexican counterpart. The blow with which he breaks his sister's urn
is the thunder-stroke. Inasmuch as rain is a fertilizing agent,
Viracocha represents its generative force. His resemblance to Tlaloc
extends to his demand for human victims, in which he is less ferociously
insatiable, but quite as pronounced, as his Mexican analogue. Since his
legend makes him rise out of the Lake of Titicaca, we must think of him
as the chief god of the religion in honour before that of the Incas rose
to supremacy. When it is said that after accomplishing his task he
disappeared, we are reminded that the river Desaguadero, which carries
off the waters of Lake Titicaca, sinks into the earth and is lost to

But there was yet another great deity whose pretensions the Incas had
allowed by making room for him in the official religion, although he
really belonged to a totally different group of mythical formations: I
refer to Pachacamac, whose name signifies "animator of the earth," from
_caman_, "to animate," and _pacha_, "earth."[80] The primitive centre of
his worship was in the valley of Lurin, south of Lima, as well as in
that valley of Rimac which has given its name to the city of Lima
itself, for the latter is but a transformation of _Rimac_. It was there
that Pachacamac's colossal temple rose. It was left standing by the
Incas, but is now in ruins.[81] The branch of the Yuncas who resided
there were already possessed of a certain civilization when the Inca
Pachacutec annexed their country, at the close of the fourteenth
century, partly by persuasion and partly by terror. Pachacamac was the
divine civilizer who had taught this people the arts and crafts.[82] It
would even seem that he had supplanted a still more ancient worship of
Viracocha in these same valleys, for it is said that the latter was
worsted in war by him and put to flight, upon which the new god renewed
the world by changing the people he found on the earth into jaguars and
monkeys, and creating a new and higher race. This opposition to
Viracocha, god of the waters, puts us on the traces of Pachacamac's
original significance. He must have been a god of fire, and especially
of the internal fire of the earth, which displays itself in the volcanos
and warms the spirit of man. He was a kind of Peruvian Dionysus. There
was something gloomy and violent about his worship. He demanded human
victims. The valley of Rimac really means the valley of the _Speaker_,
of him who answers when questioned. There was a kind of oracle inspired
by the god of internal fire there. A certain feeling of mystery, as
though in Pachacamac they had to do with a god less visible, less
palpable, more spiritual than the rest, seems to have impressed itself
upon his Peruvian worshippers. Garcilasso, who perhaps exaggerates a
little, here as elsewhere, goes near to making him a god who could only
be adored in the heart, without temple and without sacrifices.[83]

Thus, if the myth of Viracocha, god of the waters, makes the stars and
the earth rise out of the moist element which he has fertilized and
organized, the myth of Pachacamac makes him a kind of demiurge working
within to form the world and enlighten mankind. I need not stay to point
out what close analogies these two conceptions find in several of the
cosmogonies of the Old World.

This confusion and rivalry of the Peruvian gods has left its traces in
the crude and obscure legend of the Collas, or mountaineers of Pacari
Tambo, to the south-west of Cuzco. "From the caves of Pacari Tambo (i.e.
'the house of the dawn') issued one day four brothers and four sisters.
The eldest ascended a mountain, and flung stones towards the four
cardinal points, which was his way of taking possession of all the land.
This aroused the displeasure of the other three. The youngest of all was
the cunningest, and he resolved to get rid of his three brothers and
reign alone. He persuaded his eldest brother to enter a cave, and as
soon as he had done so closed the mouth with an enormous stone, and
imprisoned him there for ever." This seems to refer to the
quasi-subterranean cultus of Pachacamac, the internal fire, the first
revelation of whom must have been a volcano hurling stones in every
direction.--"The youngest brother then persuaded the second to ascend a
high mountain with him, to seek their lost brother, and when they stood
on the summit he hurled him down the precipice and changed him into a
stone by a spell." I cannot say to what special deity this part of the
legend alludes, unless it simply refers to an ancient worship of stones
or rocks, many vestiges of which remained under the Incas, though it
ceased to have any official importance in presence of the radiant
worship of the Sun promulgated and favoured by the ruling family.--"Then
the third brother fled in terror." This fleeing god must be Viracocha,
the god of showers, who flees before the Sun.--"Then the youngest
brother built Cuzco, caused himself to be adored as child of the Sun
under the name of Pirrhua Manco, and likewise built other cities on the
same model."[84]

This last trait puts it out of doubt that the legend is really an
attempt to explain how the religion of Manco Capac established at Cuzco
had succeeded in eclipsing all others, owing to the superior skill of
its priesthood. It is a formal confirmation of all that I have told you
of the consummate art with which the Incas gradually extended the circle
of their political and religious dominion. _Pirrhua_ is the contraction
of Viracocha, taken in the generic sense of "divine being." Pirrhua
Manco was an alternative name of Manco Capac.

Of course this legend was not officially received under the Incas. The
latter, being unable or unwilling to abolish the worship of Viracocha
and of Pachacamac, took up a far more conciliatory attitude than that of
the legends I have given. The supreme god, the Sun, was admitted to have
had three sons, Kon or Viracocha, Pachacamac and Manco Capac; but the
latter was declared to have been quite specially designed by the common
father to instruct and govern men. By this arrangement every one was
satisfied,--and especially the Incas.


We may now return to the other deities who were officially incorporated
in the family or retinue of the Sun.

The rainbow, _Cuycha_, was the object of great veneration as the servant
of the Sun and Moon. He had his chapel contiguous with the temple of the
Sun, and his image was made of plates of gold of various shades, which
covered a whole wall of the edifice. When a rainbow appeared in the
clouds, the Peruvian closed his mouth for fear of having all his teeth

The planet Venus, _Chasca_ or the "long-haired star," so called from its
extraordinary radiance, was looked upon as a male being and as the page
of the Sun, sometimes preceding and sometimes following his master. The
Pleiades were next most venerated. Comets foreboded the wrath of the
gods. The other stars were the Moon's maids of honour.[86]

The worship of the elements, too, held a prominent place in this
complicated system of nature-worship. For example, Fire, considered as
derived from the Sun, was the object of profound veneration, and the
worship rendered it must have served admirably as a link between the
religion of the Incas and that of Pachacamac. Strange as it may seem at
first sight, the symbols of fire were stones. But our surprise will
cease when we remember that stones were thought, in a high antiquity, to
be animated by the fire that was supposed to be shut up within them,
since it could be made to issue forth by a sharp blow. The Peruvian
religion likewise adds its testimony to that of all the religions of the
Old World, as to the importance which long attached to the preservation
amongst the tribes of men of that living fire which it was so difficult
to recover if once it had been allowed to escape. A perpetual fire
burned in the temple of the Sun and in the abode of the Virgins of the
Sun, of whom we shall have to speak presently. The wide-spread idea that
fire becomes polluted at last and loses its divine virtue by too long
contact with men, meets us once more. The fire must be renewed from
time to time, and this act was performed yearly by the chief-priest of
Peru, who kindled wood by means of a concave golden mirror. This miracle
is very easy for us to explain, but we cannot doubt that the priests and
people of Peru saw something supernatural in the phenomenon.[87]

The thunder, likewise, was personified and adored in certain provinces
under the name of _Catequil_, but it is a peculiarity of the Peruvian
religion that it assigns a subordinate rank in the hierarchy to the god
of thunder, who elsewhere generally takes the supreme place. In Peru, he
was but one of the Sun's servants, though the most redoubtable of them
all. The Peruvians are remarkable for their childish dread of thunder. A
great projecting rock, often one that had been struck by the thunder,
passed for the deity's favoured residence. Catequil appears in three
forms: _Chuquilla_ (thunder), _Catuilla_ (lightning), and _Intiallapa_
(thunderbolt). His remaining name, _Illapa_, also means thunder. He had
special temples, in which he was represented as armed with a sling and a
club.[88] They sacrificed children, but more especially llamas, to him.
Twins were regarded as children of the lightning, and if they died young
their skeletons were preserved as precious relics. And, finally, we find
in Peru the same idea that prevails in a great part of southern Africa,
viz. that a house or field that has been struck by lightning cannot be
used again. Catequil has taken possession of it, and it would be
dangerous to dispute it with him.[89]

We have seen how the element of water was adored under the names of
Viracocha and his sister Mama Cocha. The earth was worshipped in grottos
or caves, often considered as the places whence men and gods had taken
their origin, and as giving oracles.[90] There were also trees and
plants that were clothed with a divine character, especially the
esculent plants, such as the maize, personified as _Zarap Conopa_, and
the potato, as _Papap Conopa_. A female statue was often made of maize
or coca leaves, and adored as the mother of plants.[91]

Thus we descend quite gently from the official heights of the religion
of the Incas towards those substrata of religious thought which always
maintain themselves beneath the higher religion that more or less
expressly patronizes them, but to which they are not really bound by any
necessary tie. They are the survivals of old superstitions, to which the
common people are often far more attached than they are to the exalted
doctrines which they are taught officially. And it is thus, for example,
that we note in Peru the very popular worship of numerous animals,
mounting, without doubt, to a much higher antiquity than was reached by
the religion of the Incas. Indeed, I should be inclined to ascribe to
the religious diplomacy of the children of the Sun the Peruvian belief
which established a connection of origin between each kind of animal and
a particular star. The serpent, especially, seems to have been, in Peru
as in Africa, the object of great veneration. We find it reproduced in
wood and stone on an enormous number of the greater and smaller relics
of Peruvian art. The god of subterranean treasures, _Urcaguay_, was a
great serpent, with little chains of gold at his tail, and a head
adorned with stag-like horns. The dwellers by the shore worshipped the
whale and the shark. There were fish-gods, too, in the temple of
Pachacamac, no doubt because of the enormous power of reproduction
possessed by fishes. The condor was a messenger of the Sun, and his
image was graven on the sceptre of the Incas.[92] It is remarkable that
the llama does not appear amongst these divine animals, probably because
it was so completely domesticated and wholly subject to man.

And finally, when we come to the _Guacas_, or _Huacas_, we reach the
point where the Peruvian religion sinks into absolute fetichism.

The meaning of the word _Guaca_, or _Huaca_, was not very precise in the
mouths of the Peruvians themselves. On the one hand, it was applied to
everything that bore a religious character, whether an object of
worship, the person of the priests, a temple, a tomb, or what not. The
Sun himself was _Huaca_. The chief priest of Cuzco bore amongst other
names that of _Huacapvillac_, "he who converses with huaca beings."[93]
On the other hand, in ordinary language, this same term was used to
signify those wood, stone and metal objects which were so abundant in
Peru, of which we still possess numerous specimens, and of which we must
now say a few words. Some of these huacas, especially the stone ones,
were of considerable size, and no doubt dated from the pre-historic
religion before the Incas. But as a rule they were small and portable,
were private and hereditary property, and were regarded as veritable
fetiches, that is to say, as the dwelling-places of spirits. Animism, in
fact, never ceased to haunt the imaginations of the Peruvians,
especially amongst the lower orders, whether the spirits were dreaded as
malevolent sprites, or courted as protectors and revealers. These huacas
represented (as true fetiches should) forms which were sometimes
animal, sometimes human, sometimes simply grotesque, but always ugly and
exaggerated. Every valley, every tribe, every temple, every chief, had a
guardian spirit. Those which were analogous to _pænates publici_ were
recognized by the Incas, who endowed them with flocks and various
presents. Often a stone in the middle of the village passed as the abode
of the patron spirit of the place. It was the _huacacoal_, the stone of
the huaca, whereas the huacas of the family or house were distinguished
as _conopas_. Meteorites or thunderbolts were in great demand as huacas,
and especially amongst lovers, since they were supposed to inspire a
reciprocity of affection. The Christian missionaries had more difficulty
in rooting out the worship of the Huacas than in abolishing that of the
Sun and Moon, and we may still detect numerous traces of this ancient
superstition amongst the natives of Peru.[94]


Let us now turn to the priesthood which presided over the worship of
these numerous deities.

There was no sacerdotal caste in Peru, or, to speak more correctly, the
Inca family constituted the only sacerdotal caste in the strict sense of
the word. This family retained for itself all the highest positions in
the priesthood, as well as in the army and administration. These priests
of the higher rank bore special garments and insignia, while the lower
clergy wore the ordinary costume. At the head of all the priests of the
empire, first after the reigning Inca, stood the _Villac Oumau_, "the
chief sacrificer," also, as we have seen, called the _Huacapvillac_. He
was nominated by the reigning Inca, and in his turn nominated all his
subordinates. His name indicates that he was the living oracle, the
interpreter of the will of the Sun. You can understand, therefore, how
important it was for the policy of the Incas that he should himself be
subject to the authority and discretion of the sovereign. After him came
the rest of the chief priests, also members of the Inca family, whom he
put in charge of the provincial temples of the Sun. At Cuzco itself all
the priests had to be Incas. They were divided into squadrons, which
attended in succession, according to the quarters of the moon, to the
elaborate ritual of the service. And here we must admire the consummate
art with which the Incas had planned everything in their empire to
secure their supremacy against all attaint, in religion as in all else,
while still leaving the successively annexed populations a certain
measure of religious freedom. In the provinces, the Inca family,
numerous as it was, could not have provided priests for all the
sanctuaries; and, moreover, there would be local rites, traditions,
perhaps even priesthoods, which could not well be fitted into the
framework of the official religion. The Incas therefore had decided that
the priests of the local deities should be affiliated to the imperial
priesthood, but in such a way that the chief priests of the local
deities should at the same time be subordinate priests of the deities of
the empire. What a wonderful stroke of political genius! What happier
method could have been found of teaching the subject populations, while
still maintaining their traditional forms of worship, to regard the
imperial cultus patronized by the reigning Inca as superior to all
others? And what an invaluable guarantee of obedience was obtained by
this association of the non-Inca priests with the official priesthood,
the honours and advantages of which they were thus made to share,
without any room for an aspiration after independence! I regard this
organization of the priesthood in ancient Peru as one of the most
striking proofs of the political genius of the Incas, and as one of the
facts which best explain how a theocracy, which was after all based on
the absolute and exclusive pretensions of one special mythology, was
able to consolidate itself and endure for centuries, while exercising a
large toleration towards other traditions and forms of worship.[95]

By the side of the priests there were also priestesses; and they were
clothed with a very special function. I refer to those _Virgins of the
Sun_ (_acllia_ = chosen ones), those Peruvian nuns, who so much
impressed the early historians of Peru. There were convents of these
Virgins at Cuzco and in the chief cities of the empire. At Cuzco there
were five hundred of them, drawn for the most part from the families of
the Incas and the _Curacas_ or nobles, although (for a reason which will
be apparent presently) great beauty gave even a daughter of the people a
sufficient title to enter the sacred abode. They had a lady president--I
had almost said a "mother abbess"--who selected them while yet quite
young; and under her superior direction, matrons, or _Mamaconas_,
superintended the young flock. They lived encloistered, in absolute
retreat, without any relationship with the outside world. Only the
reigning Inca, his chief wife, the _Coya_, and the chief priest, were
allowed to penetrate this sanctuary of the virgins. Now these visits of
the Inca's were not exactly disinterested. The fact is, that it was here
he generally looked for recruits for his harem. You will ask how that
could be reconciled with the vow of chastity which the maidens had
taken; but their promise had been never to take any consort except the
Sun, or _him to whom the Sun should give them_. Now the Inca, the child
of the Sun, his representative and incarnation upon earth, began by
assigning the most beautiful to himself, after which he might give some
of those who had not found special favour in his eyes to his Curacas.
And thus the vow was kept intact. In other respects, the most absolute
chastity was sternly enforced. If any nun violated her vow, or was
unhappy enough to allow the sacred fire that burned day and night in the
austere abode to be extinguished, the penalty was death. And the strange
thing is, that the mode of death was identical with that which awaited
the Roman vestal guilty of the same offences. The culprit was buried
alive. This illustrates the value of the theories started by those
authors who can never discover any resemblance of rites or beliefs
between two peoples without forthwith setting about to inquire which of
the two borrowed from the other! It will hardly be maintained that the
Peruvians borrowed this cruel custom from the ancient Romans, and
assuredly the Romans did not get it from Peru. Whence, then, can the
resemblance spring? From the same train of ideas leading to the same
conclusion. By the sacrilege of the culprit, the gods of heaven and of
light, the protecting and benevolent deities, were offended and
incensed, and the whole country would feel the tokens of their wrath. To
disarm their anger, its unhappy cause must expiate her guilt, and at the
same time must be removed from their sight and given over to the powers
of darkness, for she was no longer worthy to see the light. And that is
why the dark tomb must swallow her. She had betrayed her spouse the
Sun--let her henceforth be the spouse and the slave of darkness; and let
her be sent alive to those dark powers, that they might do with her as
they would. We must add that the guilty nun's accomplice was strangled,
and that her whole family from first to last was put to death.

The ordinary occupations of the Virgins of the Sun consisted in making
garments for the members of the imperial family and tapestries destined
to adorn the temples and palaces, in kneading and baking the sacred
loaves, preparing the sacred drinks, and, finally, in watching and
feeding the sacred fire. You perceive that it was not exactly the
ascetic principle which had given rise to these convents--as in the
case of the Buddhist and Christian institutions, for example--but rather
the desire to do honour to the Sun, the supreme god, by consecrating
seraglios to him, in which his numerous consorts, protected by a severe
rule, could be kept from all except himself and those to whom he might
give them; accomplishing, meanwhile, those menial tasks which,
especially under the rule of polygamy, woman is required to perform in
the abode of her lord and master.[96]

All this shows us once more, Gentlemen, how the same fundamental logic
of the human mind asserts itself across a thousand diversities, and
re-appears under every conceivable form in every climate and every race.
Only let us look close enough and with the requisite information, and we
shall find in every case that all is explained, that all holds together,
that all is justified, by some underlying principle, and that "that
idiot of a word," _chance_, is never anything but a veil for our
ignorance. And thus, when we notice anything paradoxical, grotesque, and
unexplained by the resources we command at present, we must be very
careful not to pronounce it inexplicable. We should rather suspend our
judgment, wait till wider reflection and renewed investigation have
shown us the middle terms, and meanwhile keep silence rather than
attribute to chance or to influences which escape all human reason the
phenomena that seem abnormal.

For instance, you have heard sometimes of the strange custom in
accordance with which the father of a new-born child goes to bed and is
nursed as an invalid. You are perhaps aware that this custom, that
appears so strange to us and is now restricted to a few savage tribes,
was noted in ancient times in Europe itself, and has been preserved
almost to our own time in certain cantons of the Pyrenees. It must
therefore have been extremely wide-spread. Yet for a long time it seemed
inexplicable. But now, thanks to investigations and comparisons, the
explanation has been found. There is no doubt that the custom in
question rested on the idea that there was a close solidarity between
the health of the father and that of the new-born babe, so that if the
father should fall sick, his far weaker child would die. The father,
therefore, must be guarded from all over-exertion, must abstain from all
excess--in short, was best in bed!

So, too, in the present case. How are we to explain the resemblance
between the treatment of the Vestals at Rome and the Virgins of the Sun
at Cuzco? It was once impossible, but now that we are better acquainted
with the genesis, the spirit, the inner logic of the primitive
religions, and the modes of life, the wants and the apprehensions proper
to the pre-historic ages, we have no difficulty in attaching two
parallel customs to a single religious principle which had found
acceptance alike in Italy and Peru. And this is one of the chief tasks,
and one of the greatest charms, of the branch of study which I have the
honour of professing. It shows us that even in human error, human reason
has never abdicated its throne.

We have still to speak of the temples, the ritual and the chief
festivals of ancient Peru. To these subjects we shall devote the first
part of our sixth and last Lecture, reserving the closing portion for
the conclusions and the general lessons suggested by our two-fold study
of Mexico and Peru.




To complete my account of the native religion of Peru, I have still to
speak of the cultus, the festivals, the religious ethics, and the ideas
of a future life.


The Peruvian cultus had given birth to the _temple;_ and, indeed, it is
highly interesting to witness what one may call the "genesis of the
temple" on this soil, so different from those of the Old World. There
were temples, indeed, before the Incas, but they differed both in style
and in signification from those reared under their patronage. In Peru,
as in Mexico, the temples were originally neither more nor less than
extremely lofty altars; that is to say, artificial elevations, on the
summit of which the sacrifices were presented, while a little chapel
served to contain the image of the god or gods adored. Round this great
altar were grouped other chapels, galleries and columns, as though to
accompany the great central altar formed by the eminence itself. Under
the Incas, the crowning chapel increased so enormously that it encircled
the altar and became the essential part of the sacred structure. The
Inca temples were veritable palaces, destined as abodes for the gods.
None of them remain; but their ruins attest the fact that the architects
aimed rather at colossal than at beautiful effects. They contained
gigantic stone statues, gates cut out of monoliths, and the well-known
pyramidal structures of which we have spoken already. The most imposing
of the temples was the one at Cuzco, which consisted in a vast central
edifice, flanked with a number of adjacent buildings. Gold was so
prodigally lavished on its interior that it bore the name of
_Coricancha,_ that is to say, "the place of gold." The roof was formed
by timber-work of precious woods plated with gold, but was covered, as
in the case of all the houses of the land, with a simple thatch of maize
straw. The doors opened to the East, and at the far end, above the
altar, was the golden disk of the Sun, placed so as to reflect the first
rays of the morning on its brilliant surface, and, as it were, reproduce
the great luminary. And note that the mummies of the departed Incas,
children of the Sun, were ranged in a semicircle round the sacred disk
on golden thrones, so that the morning rays came day by day to shine on
their august remains. The adjacent buildings were abodes of the deities
who formed the retinue of the Sun. The principal one was sacred to the
Moon, his consort, who had her disk of silver, and ranged around her the
ancient queens, the departed _Coyas_. Others served as the abodes of
Chaska, our planet Venus, the Pleiades, the Thunder, the Rainbow, and
finally the officiating priests of the temple. In the provinces, the
Incas reared a number of temples of the Sun on the model of that at
Cuzco, but on a smaller scale.[97]

The Incas, however, had been anticipated in this striking development of
the temple by the religions anterior or adjacent to their own. Witness
the great temple of Pachacamac, which they left standing in the valley
of Lurin, and the remarkable ruins of another great temple situated at
some miles distance from Lake Titicaca, which has quite recently been
made the subject of a careful reconstructive study by your compatriot
Mr. Inwards.[98]

The offerings presented to the gods were very varied in kind. Flowers,
fragrant incense, especially from preparations of coca, vegetables,
fruits, maize, prepared drinks offered in cups of gold. At some of the
feasts the officiating priest moistened the tips of his fingers in the
cup and flung the drops towards the Sun. We also find in Peru a very
special form of that remnant of self-immolation which enters, in more or
less reduced and restricted shape, into the devotions of so many peoples
and assumes such varied forms. The Red-skin offers his sweat; the Black
offers his saliva or his teeth; the more poetical Greek, a lock of his
hair, or even all of it. The Peruvian pulled out a hair from his eyebrow
and blew it towards the idol![99]

But there were also sacrifices of blood. A llama was sacrificed every
day at Cuzco. Before setting out on war, the Peruvians sacrificed a
black llama that they had previously kept fasting, that the heart of
their enemies might fail as did his. This was the Peruvian application
of the principle that lies at the base of all those superstitious
ceremonies intended to provoke or stimulate a desired effect by
reproducing its analogue in advance. Small birds, rabbits, and, for the
health of the Inca, black dogs, were also sacrificed frequently. All
these offerings were as a rule burned, that they might so be transmitted
to the gods.[100] It should be noted that they only sacrificed edible
animals,[101] which is a clear proof that the intention was to feed the
gods. The sacrificing priest turned the animal's eyes towards the Sun,
and opened its body to take out its heart, lungs and viscera, and offer
them to the idols. It is a characteristic fact that when the victim was
not burned, its flesh was divided amongst the sacrificers and _eaten
raw_. The Peruvians had long learned to cook their meat, but this rite
carries us back to a high antiquity, when cooking food was still an
innovation which the power of tradition excluded from the ritual. It is
to analogous causes that we must attribute the continued use of stone
instruments in the religious ceremonies of peoples who are acquainted
with iron and use it in ordinary life. In conclusion, they smeared the
idols and the doors of the temples with the blood of the victims in
order to appease the gods.[102]

All this is sufficiently crude and material, and rests upon the same
premisses as those which drove the Mexicans to the frightful excesses
which I have previously described. But humanity was far less outraged
in the Peruvian than in the Mexican religion. Garcilasso deceives
himself, or is attempting to deceive his readers, when he gives his
ancestors, the Incas, the honour of having put an end to human
sacrifices.[103] It is certain that in the religion of Pachacamac more
especially this kind of sacrifice was frequent, and for that matter we
know that it was universal in the primitive epochs. All that we can
allow to the descendant of the Incas is, that they did not encourage,
and were rather disposed to restrain, human sacrifice. But for all that,
when the reigning Inca was ill, they sacrificed one of his sons to the
Sun, and prayed him to accept the substitution of the son for the
father. At certain feasts a young infant was immolated. Others were
sacrificed to the subterranean spirits when a new Inca was enthroned. To
the same category we must attach the custom which enjoined upon wives,
especially those of the Incas, the duty of burying themselves alive on
the death of their husbands. It is asserted that when Huayna Capac
died, a thousand members of his household incurred a voluntary death
that they might go with him to serve him. The widows, however, were not
compelled to take this step, and we know that the Incas had organized
the support of widows without resources. But public opinion was not
favourable to those who refused to follow their husbands to the tomb. It
was regarded as a species of infidelity.[104] We see, however, from
other well-established facts, that the Peruvian religion had been
gradually softened. In Peru, as in China, instead of the living beings
that they used formerly to bury with the dead, they now placed
statuettes of men and women with him in his tomb to represent his wives
and his servants.[105]

We must also mention those "columns of the Sun" which appear never to
have been absent in countries dominated by a solar worship. We have
already seen them in Central America and in Mexico, and we also find
them in Egypt, in Syria, in Asia Minor, in Palestine, at Carthage and
elsewhere. In these columns the idea of fertilization is associated with
that of the pleasure the Sun must feel in tracing out their shadows as
he caresses their faces and summits with his rays. The earliest
quadrants were traced at the foot of these columns. In Peru, they were
levelled at the top, and were regarded as "seats of the Sun," who loved
to rest upon them. At the equinoxes and solstices they placed golden
thrones upon them for him to sit upon. Those nearest to the equator were
held in greatest veneration, because the shadows were shorter there than
elsewhere, and the Sun appeared to rest vertically upon them.[106]

Prayer, in the proper sense of the word, asserted its place but feebly
in the Peruvian religion. But hymns to the Sun were chanted at the great
festivals and by the people as they went to cultivate the lands of the
Sun. Every strophe ended with the cry, _Hailly_, or "triumph." It was
the Peruvian _Io Pæan_. These chants, as far as they are still known to
us, have something soft and sad about them. The rule of the Incas,
paternal indeed, but monotonous in the extreme, must have tended to
produce melancholy. In 1555, a Spanish composer wrote a mass upon the
themes of these indigenous airs. It was sung in chorus, and it is
chiefly to it that we owe the preservation of these chants.[107]

But the grand form of religious demonstration among the Peruvians was
the dance. They were very assiduous in this form of devotion, and indeed
we know what a large place the earliest of the arts occupied in the
primitive religions generally. The dance was the first and chief means
adopted by pre-historic humanity of entering into active union with the
deity adored. The first idea was to imitate the measured movements of
the god, or at any rate what were supposed to be such. Afterwards, this
fundamental motive was more or less forgotten; but the rite remained in
force, like so many other religious forms which tradition and habit
sustained even when the spirit was gone. In Peru, this tradition was
still full of life. The name of the principal Peruvian festivals,
_Raymi_, signifies "dance." The performances were so animated, that the
dancers seemed to the Europeans to be out of their senses. It is
noteworthy that the Incas themselves took no part in these violent
dances, but had an "Incas' dance" of their own, which was grave and

There were four great official festivals in the year, coinciding with
the equinoxes and the solstices. The first was the festival of the
Winter solstice, which fell in June. It was the _Raymi_, or festival
_par excellence_, the _Citoc Raymi_, the feast of the diminished and
(henceforth) growing Sun. It lasted nine days, the first three of which
were given up to fasting. On the morning of the great day, a grand
procession, led by the reigning Inca and his family, followed by the
nobles and the people, proceeded, with insignia, banners and symbolic
masks, towards the place of the dawn and the rising Sun. When the
luminary appeared, the crowd fell to the earth and threw him kisses. The
Inca presented the sacred beverage to the Sun, drank some of it himself,
and passed it on to his suite. This was a sort of solar communion. Then
they went to the temple of the Sun to sacrifice a black llama there.
After this, they kindled the new fire by means of the concave mirror,
and slaughtered a number of llamas, representing the Sun's present to
the people. The pieces were distributed to the families, where they were
eaten with the sacred cakes prepared by the Virgins of the Sun. This was
the second act of communion with the luminary to whom the day was
sacred. The remaining days of the festival were passed in rejoicings,
when the people seem to have made themselves ample amends for the fast
with which they had begun.[109]

The second great festival, that of Spring, which fell in September, was
the _Citua Raymi_, the feast of Purification. But do not attach any
essentially moral significance to the idea of purification. The object
in view was to purify the territory from all influences hostile to the
health, security and prosperity of the inhabitants. Ball-shaped cakes
were eaten on this occasion, in which was mixed the blood of victims or
of young children, who were not slaughtered however, but bled above the
nose, which is evidence of a previous custom of far greater ferocity,
and of the gradual softening of the Peruvian ritual. With this bread the
people rubbed their bodies all over, and the doors of their houses
likewise. Then, a little before sunset, a very strange ceremony was
performed. An Inca, clad in precious armour and lance in hand, descended
from the fortress of Cuzco, followed by four relatives whom the Sun had
specially charged with the task of chasing away by open force all the
maladies from the city and its environs. They traversed the chief
streets of Cuzco at full speed, amid the acclamations of the
inhabitants, and then surrendered their lances to others, who were
relieved in their turn, till the limits of the ancient state of Cuzco
were reached. There the lances were fixed in the ground, as so many
talismans against evil influences. At night there was a great
torch-light procession, at the close of which the torches were hurled
into the river, and thus the evil spirits of the night were expelled, as
those of the day had been by the lancers of the Sun.[110] Observe that
in Africa, amongst the Blacks, a kind of "chase of the evil spirits" is
practised (though accompanied with far fewer ceremonies than in Peru),
in which the inhabitants of a village, armed with sticks and uttering
formulæ of exorcism, expel the evil spirits from their houses and from
their streets, and pursue them into the desert or the interior of a
forest. But notice here, again, with what art the Incas had contrived to
turn an old superstition to account in the interests of their own
prestige. If maladies did not decimate the people of Cuzco, it was to
their Incas that they owed their safety.

The third great festival, the Aymorai, which fell in May, celebrated the
Harvest. A statue was constructed out of grains of corn glued together,
and was adored under the name of _Pirrhua_, which in this case may well
be a contraction of Viracocha, the god of fertilizing moisture. On this
occasion a number of sacrifices were made at home by the

The fourth great feast fell in December. It was the _Capac Raymi_, the
festival of Power, in which the god of thunder was the object of a
special worship by the side of the Sun. On this occasion the young
Incas, after fasts, tournaments and other tests, received the
investiture of manhood by having their ears pierced, and receiving a
scarf, an axe and a crown of flowers. The young Curacas of the same age
were also admitted to the privileges and duties of their rank, and
shared with the Inca the sacred bread in token of indissoluble communion
with him.[112]

There were also a number of other and less important feasts. Each month
had one of its own. Then there were occasional feasts, to celebrate the
triumphal return of a victorious Inca for example, or when the
tournaments of the young nobles, to which a religious value was
attached, took place, or when silent processions lasting a day and
night, and followed by dances, were instituted to avert threatening
calamities, and so forth.[113] In Peru, as in so many other regions,
eclipses were the subject of great terror. The eclipses of the Sun were
attributed to his own anger, those of the Moon to an illness caused by
the attack of an evil spirit, to frighten which away and put it to
flight a hideous yelling was raised.[114]

There were sorcerers in Peru as everywhere else; but in Peru too, as
everywhere else where a priesthood has acquired a regular organization
and made its authority respected, sorcery was hardly resorted to save by
the lower classes.[115] In fact, the sorcerer is the priest of backward
tribes, and the priest is the developed sorcerer. By his superior
knowledge, by the more stable guarantees which he can give as the member
of an imposing organization, by the nature of the religion of which he
is the organ, and which raises him above the incoherent puerilities of
animism, the priest eclipses the sorcerer and relegates him to the lower
strata of society, which is just where his own titles to superiority are
least appreciated. The sorcerer sinks in proportion as the priest
rises.[116] For the rest, the official priesthood had its own diviners,
who could foretel the future, the _Huacarimachi_, or "they who make the
gods speak." The oracles of the valley of Rimac or Lima were much
frequented; and, moreover, the Peruvians, like so many peoples of the
Old World, thought that they could read the future in the entrails of
the victims offered in sacrifice.[117] This wide-spread belief rests on
the idea that immolation unites the victim so closely to the deity that
it enters into communion with his thoughts and intentions, so that its
heart, liver, and all other organs supposed to be affected by mental and
moral dispositions, receive the impress of the divine prevision. Is it
not passing strange, Gentlemen, that this mode of divination, which
appears so absurd to us, which has no rational basis whatever, which
rests on a singularly subtle conception of the relations between the
creature sacrificed and the being to whom it is offered, has secured the
prolonged confidence of the peoples of the Old World, and appears again
in Peru, where it cannot have been imitated from any one?


It has been asked whether the native religion of Peru rested any system
of elevated morals on its fundamental principles. Gentlemen, I am
persuaded that religion and morals unite together and interpenetrate
each other in the higher regions of thought and life. Perhaps the most
distinct result of our Christian education is the full comprehension of
the fact that what is moral is religious, and that immorality cannot on
any pretext be allowed as legitimately religious. But we must certainly
yield to the overwhelming evidence that in the lower stages of religion
this union of the two sisters is present only in germ. Religion, still
quite selfish in its character, pursues its own way and seeks its own
satisfactions independently of all moral considerations, and almost
always lives in a state of separation from morality. We ought therefore
to expect that in systems such as that of Peru--which have already risen
much above the low level of the primitive religions, but are still far
below that of the higher ones--we should find a certain religious ethic,
a certain moral tendency in religion, but likewise all kinds of
inconsistencies, and constant relapses towards the ancient separation of
the two sisters. As a general rule, we may say that even where the
Peruvian religion seems to undertake the elevation and protection of
morals, it does so rather with a utilitarian and selfish view, than with
any real purpose of sanctifying the heart and will.

Thus we have noted ceremonies which forcibly recal the Communion. But
the great object in view was to secure to the communicants the safety
and well-being that would result from their union with the Sun or his
representatives. The moral idea occupies but a small place in this
communion, though it is but right to add that the great social laws
were placed under the patronage and sanction of the Sun, whose
legislation the Incas were held responsible for enforcing. In the same
way we find in Peru something that closely resembles baptism. From
fifteen to twenty days after birth the child received its first name,
after being plunged into water. But this purification had nothing to do
with the ideas of sin and regeneration. It was but a form of exorcism,
destined to secure the child from the evil spirits and their malign
influences. Between the ages of ten and twelve, the child's definitive
name was conferred. On this occasion his hair and nails were cut off,
and offered to the Sun and the guardian spirits.[118] This represented
the consecration of his person, but its main object was to secure him
the protection of the divine power.

There was likewise a sacerdotal confession, but it was an institution of
state and of police rather than a sacrament with a moral purpose. The
great object was to discover all actions, whether voluntary or not,
which might bring misfortune upon the state if not expiated by the
appropriate penances and rites. The father confessors of Peru were
inquisitors charged with the searching out of secret faults and the
exaction of their avowal. A refusal to confess might provoke severe
measures. A proof of the small influence of the moral element in the
whole system of inquisition may be found in the fact that the priest
relied on purely fortuitous tests in deciding whether or not to give
absolution. For instance, he would take a pinch of maize grains, and if
the number turned out to be even, he would declare the confession good,
and give absolution, otherwise he would say the penitent must have
concealed something, and would make him confess again.[119]

Our conviction that the Peruvian religion had but a very elementary
moral significance, receives a final confirmation from the beliefs
concerning the future life.

It is clear that no very definite ideas on this point had become
generally established. In fact, we find amongst the Peruvians at the
time of the conquest the underlying conceptions of the most widely
severed peoples, all mingled together. Thus the common people of Peru,
like all savages, thought of the future life as a continuation, pure and
simple, of the present life. This explains the custom of burying all
kinds of useful and desirable objects with the dead--giving him an
emigrant's outfit, in short. The worship of ancestors is easily grafted
upon this conception of the life beyond the grave. These ancestors may
still succour, protect and inspire their descendants. I am assured at
first hand that to this very day, and in spite of the efforts of the
Catholic clergy, the worship of ancestors is still widely practised by
the native population. There was not the least idea of a resurrection of
the body. If the corpse was preserved, especially in the case of
departed Incas, it was because the Peruvians believed that the soul
which had left it still retained a marked predilection for its ancient
abode and liked to return to it from time to time; and also because they
attributed magic virtues to the remains thus preserved. No idea of
recompense is as yet associated with this purely animistic and primitive
conception of the life beyond the tomb.[120]

Amongst the higher classes, the ideas entertained on this same subject
had become a little less naive. The Incas were supposed to be
transported to the mansion of the Sun, their father, where they still
lived together as his family. The Curacas or nobles would either follow
them there, or would still live under the earth beneath the sceptre of
the god of the dead, Supay, the Hades or Pluto of the Peruvian
mythology. Do not identify this deity with a Satan or Ahriman of any
kind. He was not a wicked, but rather a sinister god, the conception of
whom could wake no joyous or even serene emotions. He was a voracious
deity, of insatiable appetite. At Quito, at any rate before the conquest
of the country by the Incas, a hundred children were sacrificed to him
every year. There is no idea of positive suffering inflicted on the
wicked under his direction. But the subterranean abode is gloomy and
dismal, like the place of shades in the Odyssey. Exceptional
considerations of birth, rank or valour in war, determine the passage of
chosen souls to heaven, where their lot will of course be far more
brilliant and happy than that of the souls that remain in the
subterranean regions. Thus the aristocratic point of view, barely
modified by the high importance attributed to the warlike virtues, still
dominates the ideas of a future life in ancient Peru, as in Mexico, in
Polynesia and in Africa. This is a final proof that the moral element
was but feebly present in the ancient Peruvian religion. For wherever a
clear and definite belief in a conscious life beyond the grave is united
to a sense of the religious character of morality, it is likewise held,
by an obvious connection of ideas, that the lot of departed souls will
depend completely upon their moral condition, without distinction of
birth or rank.[121]

This Peruvian religion, then, in spite of its elevation and refinement
in some respects, forcibly reminds us of the walls of its own temples,
all plated with gold, but covered in with straw, and poor and unvaried
in architecture. A monotonous, unformed, gloomy spirit seems to pervade
the whole institution, in spite of its brilliant exterior. The air of
the convent broods over it. Those thousands of functionaries who spent
their lives in superintending the furniture, the dress, the work, the
very cookery, of the families under their charge, and inflicting
corporal chastisement on those whom they surprised in a fault, might
succeed in forming a correct and regular society, drilled like the bees
in a hive, might form a nation of submissive slaves, but could never
make a nation of _men_; and this is the deep cause that explains the
irremediable collapse of this Peruvian society under the vigorous blows
of a handful of unscrupulous Spaniards. It was a skilfully constructed
machine, which worked like a chronometer; but when once the mainspring
was broken, all was over.

It is no part of our task to tell the story of the conversion of the
natives to Roman Catholic Christianity. It was comparatively easily
effected. The fall of the Incas was a mortal blow to the religious, no
less than to the political, edifice in which they were the key-stone of
the arch. It was evident that the Sun had been unable or unwilling to
protect his children. The conqueror imposed his religion on Peru, as on
Mexico, by open force; and the Spanish Inquisition, though not giving
rise to such numerous and terrible spectacles in the former as in the
latter country, yet carried out its work of terror and oppression there
too. The result was that peculiar character of the Catholicism of the
natives of Peru which strikes every traveller, and consists in a kind of
timid and superstitious submission, without confidence and without zeal,
associated with the obstinate preservation of customs which mount back
to the former religious régime, and with memories of the golden age of
the Inca rule under which their ancestors were privileged to live, but
which has gone to return no more.


And now it only remains for us to draw the inferences and conclusions
suggested by our examination of the ancient religions of Mexico and
Peru, so closely associated with the remarkable though imperfect
civilizations to which the two nations had attained.

We have not stayed to discuss the hypotheses that have so often been put
forward, to attach these religions and civilizations to some immigration
from the Old World. The fact is that all these attempts rest on the
arbitrary selection of some few traits of resemblance, on which
exclusive stress is laid, to the neglect of still more characteristic
differences. The best proof that the work of affiliation has been
abortive, in spite of the high authority of some of the names that have
been lent to it, may be found in the fact that every possible nation of
the Old World has in its turn been selected as the true parent of the
Peruvians and Mexicans. The Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Chinese, the
Hindus, the Buddhists of India and China, the Romans, even the Celts and
the Chaldeans, have been put forward one after the other. Nay, the
English themselves have been tried! There is a gratifying legend which
brings the story of Manco Capac and Mama Ogllo into connection with the
results of the shipwreck of an _Englishman_, whose national name was
transformed into _Inga Man_, which again, in conjunction with _Cocapac_,
the name of the father of the native wife whom the Englishman had taken
to himself, made _Inca Manco Capac_! The sequel is obvious. The two
fair-skinned children that sprang from this union were of course the
founders of the Inca family and the state of Cuzco.[122] I need not tell
you that all this will not bear a moment's examination. Everything shows
that the civilizations and religions of Mexico and Peru are
autochthonous, springing from the soil itself.

There is surely something very strange in this passion for localizing
all origins at some single point of the globe. Why not admit that what
took place there may have taken place elsewhere also, that the same
concourse of events which called forth such and such a result in a
certain given place may have been reproduced somewhere else, and
consequently given rise to identical or closely analogous results there
too? Does not our own experience teach us that the contact of a
civilized with an uncivilized people is not enough in itself to ensure
the adoption by the latter of the civilization that is brought to it? It
is the exception, not the rule, for the Red-skin, the Kafir, the
Australian or the Papuan, to become civilized. Civilization can only be
handed on if the invaded race possesses a special disposition and
aptitude for civilized life; and this aptitude may have existed to such
a degree as to be capable of independent development in the New-World as
we know it did in the Old; and if there were centres of such nascent
civilization in Central America, in Mexico and in Peru, it is absolutely
superfluous to search elsewhere than in America itself for the origins
of American civilization.

But the mistake into which so many historians and travellers have fallen
is explained, to a certain extent, by the fact that, in examining the
beliefs, the monuments and the customs of Peru and Mexico, we come upon
phenomena at every moment which are identical with or analogous to
something we have observed in the Old World. The temples, with their
successive terraces, remind us of ancient Chaldea, and the hieroglyphics
of ancient Egypt. The convents recal the Indian and Chinese Buddhism.
The cruel and bloody sacrifices and the preponderance of the Sun-worship
have a Semitic tinge. There are myths and curious resemblances of words
which wake thoughts of Hellenic civilization; and sacerdotal castes and
sacrificial rites which bring us round to the Celts! Nay, are there not
even beliefs as to the arrival or return of a deity who will restore
order and avenge outraged justice, round which there breathes a kind of
Messianic air? So much so, indeed, that I must add to the list of
supposed ancestors of American civilization the ten lost tribes of
Israel, who must have fled from the yoke of their Ninevite oppressors
right across Asia into America! The partizans of this ingenious
hypothesis have, it is true, forgotten to inquire how far these
Israelites of the North, whose enthusiasm for the house of Judah was, to
say the least of it, decidedly subdued, had ever heard of the Messianic
hopes at all!

The real result of all these wild speculations, however, is to bring out
the fact very clearly, that in the native religions of Mexico, of
Central America and of Peru, we find a number of traits united which are
scattered amongst the most celebrated religions of our own ancient
world; so that this new and well-defined region gives us a precious
opportunity of testing the value of the explanations of religious ideas
and practices deduced from the comparative study of religions.

Let us take the question of sacrifice, for instance. In both religions
sacrifice is frequent, often cruel,--in Mexico even frightful. But it is
easy to trace the original idea that inspired it. It is by no means the
sense of guilt, or the idea that the culprit, terrified by the account
that he must render to the divine justice, can transfer to a victim the
penalty he has himself incurred. It is simply the idea that by offering
the gods the things they like--that is to say, whatever will satisfy and
gratify their senses--it is possible to secure their goodwill, their
protection and their favour, while at the same time disarming their
wrath, if need be, and appeasing their dangerous appetites. It is only
at a later stage that the extreme importance attributed to this rite,
the very essence of the worship rendered to the gods, leads to the
association of mystic and ultimately of moral ideas with the
circumstance of the pain inseparably connected with sacrifice. And when
this stage is reached, men will either refine upon the suffering with
frantic intensity, as they did in Mexico, or, if the sentiment of
humanity has made itself felt in religion, as was the case in Peru and
in the special worship of Quetzalcoatl, they will try to restrain the
number and mitigate the horror of the human sacrifices, while still
inflexibly maintaining the principle they involve.

Again: there is not the smallest trace of an earlier monotheism
preceding the polytheism of either the one or the other nation. On the
other hand, we may trace in both alike three stages of religious faith
superimposed, so to speak, one upon the other. At the bottom of all
still lies the religion that we find to-day amongst peoples that are
strangers to all civilization. It is an incoherent and confused jumble
of nature-worship and of animism or the worship of spirits, but
especially the latter; for the primitive nature-worship has been
developed, enlarged and more or less organized, on a higher level,
whereas animism has remained what it was. The spirits of nature, which
may often be anonymous--spirits of forests, of plants, of rocks, of
waters, of animals, generally with the addition of the spirits of
ancestors--make up a confused and inorganic mass that may assume almost
any form. Fetichism is not the base, as it has been called, but the
consequence and application of this animistic view. It is enough to
secure adoration for any worthless object, natural or artificial, if it
strikes the ignorant imagination forcibly enough to induce the belief
that it is the residence of a spirit. Magic, founded on the pretension
of certain individuals to stand in special relations with the spirits,
equips the priesthood of this lowest stage. But above this, through the
action of the higher minds amongst the people, nature-worship develops
itself into the adoration of the most important, most general and most
imposing phenomena of nature. In the tropical countries, at once warm
and fertile, it is the Sun that reigns supreme, though not without
leaving a very exalted place to other phenomena, such as wind, rain,
vegetation and so on, personified as so many special deities. But in all
this there is no indication of an antecedent and primitive monotheism.
It is quite true that each one of these deities receives in his turn
epithets which seem to attribute omnipotence to him and to make him the
sole creator. But this is the case in all polytheistic systems, whether
in Greece, Persia, and India, or in Mexico and Peru. It only proves that
when man worships, he never limits the homage he renders to the object
of his adoration; but if he is a polytheist, he has no scruple in
attributing the same omnipotence to each of his gods in turn. It is much
the same with the worthy curés in our rural districts, whose sermons
systematically exalt the saint of the day, whoever he may be, to the
chief place in Paradise! And here in Mexico and in Peru, as in Greece
and in India, we observe the ever growing tendency towards
_anthropomorphism_, transforming into men, of enormous strength, stature
and power, those natural phenomena which at the earlier stage were
rather assimilated to animals. Uitzilopochtli still bears the traces of
his ancient nature as a humming-bird, and Tezcatlipoca of the time when
he was no more than a celestial tapir. Their cultus, like their
functions in the order of nature, must be regular and subject to fixed
rules. And thus the priesthood, organized and regulated in its turn,
emerges from the earlier stage of sorcery, and becomes a great
institution to protect and foster the nascent civilization. The third
stage was not actually reached in ancient Mexico and Peru. One can but
divine its beginnings in the mysterious priesthood of Quetzalcoatl, or
trace it in the traditions of the philosopher king of Tezcuco, and the
sceptical Incas of whom Garcilasso and others tell us. In such traits as
these we may discover a certain dissatisfaction with the established
polytheism, striving to raise itself higher in the direction of a
spiritual monotheism. But this tendency is obviously the last term of
the evolution, and in no sense its first.

The history of the temple in Mexico and Peru suggests similar
reflections. Its point of departure is the altar, and not the tomb,--the
altar on which, as on a sacred table, the flesh destined for their food
was placed before the gods. Little by little, as the developed and
organized nature-worship substitutes gods of imposing might and
greatness for the contemptible deities of the period when nature-worship
and animism were confounded together, these altars assumed huge and at
last gigantic proportions; and in Mexico, except in the case of
Quetzalcoatl, there the development stopped, save that a little chapel,
destined to serve as the abode of the national gods, was reared on the
summit. Peru passes through the same phases, but goes further. There the
surmounting chapel grows, assumes vast dimensions, and ends by embracing
the altar itself, of which at first it was but an adjunct.

The two religions alike exhibit an initial penetration of religion by
the moral idea. They are at bottom two theocracies, the laws and
institutions of which rest upon the gods themselves, though the
theocratic form is far more prominent in Peru than in Mexico. They share
the advantages of a theocracy for a nascent civilization, and its
disadvantages for one that has already reached a certain development.
It was the theocratic and sacerdotal conception that maintained and
enforced the religious butchery of which you have heard in Mexico, and
which transformed Peru into one enormous convent, where no one had any
will or any initiative of his own. For the same reason, asceticism, the
principle that confuses, through an illusion we can easily understand,
the moral act itself with the suffering that accompanies it, shows
itself in both religions, but especially in that of Mexico; and convents
that startle us by their resemblance to those of Buddhism and
Christianity rise in either realm. But this mutual interpenetration of
the religious and moral ideas is still quite rudimentary. The prevailing
tone of the religion is given by the self-seeking and purely calculating
principle, aiming no doubt at a certain mystic satisfaction (for at
every stage of religion this moving principle has been most powerful and
fruitful), but likewise seeking material advantages without any scruple
as to the means; and those monstrous forms of transubstantiation which
the Mexican thought he was bringing about when he ate of the same human
flesh which he offered to his gods, are typical of the period in which
religion pursued its purpose of union with the deity, regardless of the
protests of the moral sense and of humanity.

It was reserved for the higher religions, and especially for that of
which our Bible is the monument, to realize the intimate alliance of the
religious and moral sentiments,--that priceless alliance, without which
morals remain for the most part almost barren, and religion falls into
monstrous aberrations. That the roots of religion pierce to the very
cradles of humanity, may now be taken as demonstrated. Its principle is
found in the necessity we feel of surmounting the uncertainties and the
limitations of destiny, by attaching ourselves individually to the
loftier Spirit revealed by nature outside us and within; and this
principle has always remained the same; nor am I one of those who hold
that we must now renounce it in the name of philosophy and science. For
neither philosophy nor science can make us other than the poor creatures
we are, with an unquenchable thirst for blessedness and life, yet
constantly broken, crushed at every moment, by the very elements on the
bosom of which we are forced to live. Philosophy and science may guide
religion, may reveal its true object in ever-growing purity, may cleanse
it from the pollutions in which ignorance and sin still plunge it, but
they cannot replace and they cannot destroy it. There is a Dutch
proverb, the profundity of which it would be difficult to exaggerate,
"De natuur gaat boven de leer"--_Nature is too strong for doctrine._ The
evolutions of philosophy may seem to make the heavens void, and inspire
man with the idea that all is over with the poetic or terrific visions
that rocked the cradle of his infancy. But stay! Nature, human nature,
is still there; and under the impulse of the indestructible thirst for
religion, human nature renews her efforts, looks deeper and looks
higher, and finds her God once more.

    Jérusalem renait plus brillante et plus belle.

But let not this conclusion, confirmed as it seems to me by the whole
history of religion, prevent our boldly declaring how much that is
small, puerile, often even immoral and deplorable, there is in the
religious past of humanity. It is no otherwise with art, with
legislation, with science herself, with all that constitutes the
privilege, the power, the joy of our race. It is just the knowledge of
these aberrations which should serve to keep us from falling back into
the errors and false principles of which they were the consequence. And
in this respect the study of the religions of ancient Mexico and Peru is
profoundly instructive. It teaches us that there is a principle,
bordering closely upon that of religion itself, which must serve as the
torch to guide the religious idea in its development--not to supplant
it, but to direct it to the true path. It is the principle of humanity.
The truer a religion is, the more absolute the homage it will render to
the principle of humanity, and the more will he who lives by its light
feel himself impelled to goodness, loving and loved, trustful and free.
The last word of religious history is, that there exists an affinity, a
mysterious relationship, between our spirit and the Spirit of the
universe; that this nobility of human nature embraces in itself all the
promises, all the hopes, all the latent perfections, all the infinite
ideals of the future; that, in spite of all appearances to the contrary,
the Supreme Will is good to each one of the beings which it summons and
draws to itself; and that man, in spite of his errors, his failures,
his corruptions, his miseries, was never wrong in following the sacred
instinct that raised him slowly from the mire, was always right in
renewing his efforts, so constant, so toilsome--often, too, so woful--to
mount the rounds

    De cette échelle d'or qui va se perdre en Dieu.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, it only remains for me to bid you
farewell, while giving you my warmest thanks for the perseverance, the
encouragement and the sympathy, with which you have supported me. The
reception you have given me has touched me deeply, and my stay in 1884
in your imposing and splendid capital will always remain amongst the
most prized and the pleasantest recollections of my life. You have been
good enough to pardon my linguistic infirmity. You have spared from your
business or pleasure the time needed to listen to a stranger, who has
come to speak to you of matters having no direct utility, and of purely
historical and theoretical interest. This is far more to your honour
than to mine. I thank you, but at the same time I congratulate you; for
it is a trait in the nobleness in our human nature to be able thus to
snatch ourselves from the vulgar pre-occupations of life, to contemplate
the truth on those serene heights where it reveals itself to all who
seek it with an upright heart. Cease not to love these noble studies,
which touch upon all that is most exalted and most precious in us! If we
search history for light in politics and the higher interests of our
fatherlands, and learn thereby to understand, to appreciate, to love
them more, let us turn to history no less for light on the path which we
must tread in that order of sublime realities, necessities and
aspirations, in which the soul of each one of us becomes a temple and a
sanctuary, lying open to the Eternal Spirit that fills the universe.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now to the Eternal, the Invisible, to Him whose name we can but
stammer, whose infinite perfections we can but feel after, be rendered
all our homage and our hearts!


[1] The second, third and fourth despatches (the first is lost) from
_Fernando Cortes_ to Charles V., written in 1520, 1522 and 1524
respectively. Original editions as follows: "Carta de relacio_n_
e_m_biada a su S. majestad del e_m_p_er_ador n_ues_tro señor ... por el
capita_n_ general de la nueva spaña: Llamado ferna_n_do cortes," &c.:
Seville, 1522. "Carta tercera de relacio_n_: embiada por Ferna_n_do
cortes," &c.: Seville, 1523. "La quarta relacion q_ue_ Ferna_n_do cortes
gouernador y capitan general ... embio al muy alto ... rey de España,"
&c.: Toledo, 1525. Recent edition, with notes, &c.: "Cartas y Relaciones
de Hernan Cortés al Emperador Carlos V. colegidas é ilustradas por Don
Pascual de Gayangos," &c.: Paris, 1866. English translation: "The
Despatches of Hernando Cortes," &c., translated by George Folsom: New
York and London, 1843.--_Francisco Lopez de Gómara_ (Cortes' chaplain):
"Hispania Victrix. Primera y segunda parte de la historia general de las
Indias co_n_ todo el descubrimiento, y cosas notables que han acaescido
dende que se ganaron hasta el año de 1551. Con la conquista de Mexico y
dela nueva España:" Modina del Campo, 1553. Also printed in Vol. XXII.
of the "Biblioteca de Autores Españoles:" Madrid, 1852 (to the
pagination of which references in future notes will be made). There is
an old English translation of Part II. of this work, entitled, "The
Pleasant Historie of the Conquest of the Weast India, now called new
Spayne, Atchieved by the worthy Prince Hernando Cortes, Marques of the
Valley of Huaxacac, most delectable to Reade: Translated out of the
Spanishe tongue by T. N. [Thomas Nicholas], Anno 1578:" London.--_Bernal
Diaz_: "Historia Verdadera de la Nueva España escrita por el Capitan
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Uno de sus Conquistadores. Sacada a luz por el
P. M. Fr. Alonso Remon," &c.: Madrid, 1632. English translation: "The
Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, written by
Himself," &c.: translated by John Ingram Lockhart, F.R.A.S. 2 vols.:
London, 1844. There is also a good French translation: "Histoire
Véridique de la conquête ... par le Capitaine Bernal Diaz del Castillo,"
&c., by Dr. Jourdanet. Second edition: Paris, 1877.--_Las Casas._
Numerous works collected by Llorente: "Collecion de las obras del
Venerable Obispo de Chiapa, Don Bartolomé de las Casas, Defensor de la
Libertad de los Americanos." 2 vols.: Paris, 1822. Also translated into
French, with some additional matter, by the same Llorente, and published
in the same year at Paris. His "Historia de las Crueldades de los
Españoles," &c., was translated into English in 1655 by J. Phillips,
under the title of "The Tears of the Indians," &c., and dedicated to
Oliver Cromwell. [N.B. Translations in full or epitomized of several of
the above works, together with others, may be found in Vols. III. and
IV. of "Purchas his Pilgimes," &c.: London, 1625-26.]--_Sahagun's_
history of New Spain, a work of the utmost importance for the religious
history of Mexico, remained unpublished till the present century, and
appeared almost simultaneously in Mexico and London: "Historia General
de las Cosas de Nueva España ... escribió el R. P. Fr. Bernardino de
Sahagun ... uno de los primeros predicadores del santo evangelio en
aquellas regiones," &c. 3 vols.: Mexico, 1829-30. The same work appeared
in Vols. V. and VII. of Lord Kingsborough's collection. Vid. infr. A
French translation by Jourdanet appeared in 1880.--_Acosta_: "Historia
Natural y Moral de las Indias ... compuesta por el Padre Joseph de
Acosta Religioso de la Campañia de Jesus," &c.: Seville, 1590. English
translation: "The Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West
Indies," &c.: translated by E. G.: London, 1604. E[dward] G[rimstone]'s
translation was edited, with notes, for the Hakluyt Society, by Clements
R. Markham, in 1880.--_Torquemada_: "Los veynte y un libros Rituales y
Monarchia Yndiana ... Compuesto por Fray Ivan de Torquemada," &c. 3
vols.: Seville, 1615. Printed again at Madrid in 1723.--_Herrera_
(official historiographer of Philip II.): "Historia General de los
Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas i Tierra Firme del mar Oceano,"
&c., by Antonio de Herrera; to which is prefixed, "Descripcion de las
Indias Ocidentales," &c., by the same. 4 vols.: Madrid, 1601. English
translation in epitome by Capt. John Stevens, "The General History of
the vast Continent and Islands of America," &c. 6 vols.: London,

The following native writers may also be consulted. _Ixlilxochitl_
(Fernando de Alva): "Historia Chichimeca" and "Relaciones," in Lord
Kingsborough's "Mexican Antiquities," Vol. IX. (vid. infr.). French
translations in Vols. VIII. XII. and XIII. of H. Ternaux-Compans'
collection: "Voyages, Relations et Memoires originaux pour servir a
l'histoire de la Découverte de l'Amérique:" Paris, 1837-41.--_Camargo_:
"Histoire de la République de Tlaxcallan, par Domingo Muñoz Camargo,
Indien, natif de cette ville," translated from the Spanish MS. in Vols.
XCVIII. and XCIX. of the "Nouvelles Annales des Voyages," &c.: Paris,
1843.--_Pomar (J. B. de)_: "Relacion de las Antiquedades de los Indios."
Pomar was a descendant of the royal house of Tezcuco, and his memoirs
were made use of in MS. by Torquemada.

Amongst later authorities may be mentioned (in addition to Prescott's
well-known work, and those cited in the following notes): _W.
Robertson_: "History of America."--_Alx. von Humboldt_: "Vues des
Cordillières et Monuments des peuples de l'Amérique:" Paris, 1810;
forming the "Atlas Pittoresque" of Part III. of "Voyage de Humboldt et
Bonpland."--_Francesco Saverio Clavigero_: "Storia antica del Messico,"
&c. 4 vols.: Cesena, 1780-81. English translation by Charles Cullen:
"The History of Mexico," &c. 2 vols.: London, 1787.--_Th. Waitz_:
"Anthropologie der Naturvölker," Vol. IV.: Leipzig, 1864.--_Brasseur de
Bourbourg_: "Histoire des Nations civilisées du Mexique et de
L'Amérique-centrale," &c. 4 vols: Paris, 1857-59.--_Müller (Joh.
George)_, Professor at Bâle: "Geschichte der Amerikanischen
Urreligionen." Second edition: Basel, 1867.--To these should be added
the narratives and works of M. _D. Charnay_, still in the course of

References will be given to the originals, but in such a form, wherever
possible, as to serve equally well for the English and French
translations. Where, as is not unfrequently the case, the chapters or
sections of the translations do not correspond to the originals, a note
of the vol. and page of the former will generally be added.

[2] The original collection is in seven magnificent folio volumes.
"Antiquities of Mexico: comprising Facsimiles of Ancient Mexican
Paintings and Hieroglyphics ... together with The Monuments of New
Spain, by M. Dupaix ... the whole illustrated by many valuable inedited
Manuscripts by Augustine Aglio:" London, 1830. Two supplementary
volumes, on the title-page of which Lord Kingsborough's own name
appears, were added in 1848, and a tenth volume was projected, but only
a small portion of it (appended to Vol. IX.) was printed.

[3] Five volumes: New York, 1875-76.

[4] See _Bancroft_, Vol. II. pp. 311, 312.

[5] See _Sahagun_, Tom. I. p. 201, Appendix to Lib. ii. (Vol. II. p.
174, in Jourdanet's translation).

[6] The story is given by _Bancroft_, Vol. III. p. 471, on the authority
of _Lopez Medel_.

[7] See _Torquemada_, Lib. viii. cap. xx. at the end. On the Mexican
temples in general, see _Müller_, pp. 644-646.

[8] On the great temple of Mexico and its annexes, see _Waitz_, IV. 148
sqq., where the scattered data of Sahagun, Acosta, Gomara, Bernal Diaz,
Ixtlilxochitl, Clavigero, &c., are drawn together. See also _Bancroft_,
II. 577-587, III. 430 sq.

[9] Op. cit. cap. xcii.

[10] Compare the German "Schlangenberg" and the old French "Guivremont."

[11] See the legend in _Clavigero_, Lib. vi. § 6.

[12] See _Müller_, pp. 602 sqq., and _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 1, 237,
sqq., Lib. i. cap. i., and Lib. iii. cap. i., &c.

[13] See _Clavigero_, Lib. vi. § 2. _Acosta_, pp. 324 sqq., Lib. v. cap.
ix. (pp. 353 sq. in E. G.'s translation); _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 2 sq.,
241 sq., Lib. i. cap. iii., Lib. iii. cap. ii. See also
_Ternaux-Compans_, Vol. XII. p. 18.

[14] On Quetzalcoatl, see _Müller_, pp. 577-590; _Bancroft_, Vol. III.
pp. 239-287; _Torquemada_, Lib. vi. cap. xxiv., Lib. iii. cap. vii.;
_Clavigero_, Lib. vi. § 4; _Ixtlilxochitl_ in _Ternaux-Compans_, Vol.
XII. pp. 5-8 (further, pp. 9-27 of the same volume on the Toltecs);
_Prescott_, Bk. i. chap, iii., Bk. iv. chap, v., and elsewhere;
_Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 3-4, 245-6, 255-259, Lib. i, cap. v., Lib. iii.
cap p. iv. xii.-xiv.

[15] See _Clavigero_, Lib. iv. §§ 4, 15, Lib. vii. § 42; _Humboldt_, pp.
319-20, cf. p. 95; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. i. and elsewhere;
_Bancroft_, Vol. V. pp. 427-429; _Müller_, pp. 526 sq.

[16] _Clavigero_, Lib. vi. §§ 5, 15, 34; _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 16-19,
Lib. i. cap. xiii.; _Bancroft_, Vol. III. p. 385.

[17] See _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 10-16, Lib. i. cap. xii.

[18] See _Boturini_, "Idea de una nueva historia general de la America
Septentrional," &c.: Madrid, 1746, pp. 63-65.

[19] _Bancroft_, Vol. III. pp. 403-417; _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 22-25,
29-33, Lib. i. capp. xv. xvi. xix.

[20] _Bancroft_, Vol. III. pp. 396-402; _Clavigero_, Lib. vi. §§ 1, 5.

[21] _Sahagun_, Tom. I. p. 86 (cf. p. 88), Lib. ii. cap. xx.

[22] _Sahagun_, Tom. I. p. 50, Lib. ii. cap. i.

[23] Compare the detailed description of the festivals of the ancient
religion of Mexico in _Bancroft_, Vol. II. pp. 302-341, Vol. III. pp.
297-300, 330-348, 354-362, 385-396.

[24] Amongst all the indigenous races of North America, prolonged
fasting is regarded as the means _par excellence_ of securing
supernatural inspiration. The Red-skin to become a sorcerer or to secure
a revelation from his _totem_, or the Eskimo to become _Angekok_, will
endure the most appalling fasts.

[25] _Torquemada_, Lib. vi. cap. xxxviii.; cf. _Sahagun_, Tom. I. p.
174, Lib. ii. cap. xxiv.

[26] _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 35--39, Lib. i. cap. xxi.

[27] _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 11-16, Tom. II. pp. 57-64, Lib. i. cap.
xii., Lib. vi. cap. vii.

[28] Elements were not wanting for the formation of a dualistic system
analogous to Mazdeism. The _Tzitzimitles_ nearly corresponded to the
Iranian _Devas_. They were a kind of demon servants of Mictlan, who
delighted in springing upon men to devour them, and the protection of
the celestial gods was needed to escape from their attacks. _Sahagun_,
Tom. II. p. 67, Lib. vi. cap. viii. (in the middle of a prayer to
Tlaloc). Cf. also Tom. II. pp. 14 sqq., Lib. v. capp. xi.-xiii.

[29] On the Mexican priesthood, see _Bancroft_, Vol. II. pp. 200-207,
Vol. III. pp. 430-441; _Clavigero_, Lib. vi. §§ 13--17; cf. Lib. iv. §
4; _Humboldt_, pp. 98, 194, 290; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.;
_Torquemada_, Lib. ix. capp. i.-xxxiv.

[30] _Camargo_ (in Nouv. An. d. Voy. xcix.), pp. 134-5.

[31] _Bancroft_, Vol. II. pp. 204-206, Vol. III. pp. 435-436;
_Torquemada_, Lib. ix. capp. xiv. xv.; _Sahagun_, Tom. I. pp. 227-8
(last section of Appendix to Lib. ii.); _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. xvi.;
_Clavigero_, Lib. vi. capp. xvi. xxii.

[32] See the "Cuadro historico-geroglifico," &c., contributed by Don
_José Fernando Ramirez_ (curator of the national Museum at Mexico) to
_Garcia y Cubas_, "Altas geographico, estadistico e historico de la
Republica Mexicana," Entrega 29a (1858).

[33] On all that concerns the Mexican cosmogonies, see _Müller_, pp. 477
sq., 509--519; _Bancroft_, Vol. III. pp. 57--65; _Ixtlilxochitl_,
"Historia Chichimeca," capp. i. ii.; _Kingsborough_, "Mexican
Antiquities," Vol. V. pp. 164-167; _Humboldt_, pp. 202--211.

[34] See _Sahagun_, Tom. II. pp. 281--283, Lib. viii. cap. vi.

[35] The sacerdotal year was lunar. The civil year, which was doubtless
of later origin, and had been adopted as better suited to the purposes
of agriculture, was solar. Every thirteenth year the two coincided. The
number _four_, which plays an important part in Mexican symbolism (cf.
the Mexican cross) gave a kind of cosmic significance to 13 × 4 = 52.

[36] See _Bancroft_, Vol. III. pp. 393-396.

[37] Compare the Appendix to Jourdanet's translation of Bernal Diaz, pp.
912 sqq.

[38] On the conversion of the Mexicans, &c., compare the anonymous
treatise at the end of _Kingsborough's_ "Mexican Antiquities," Vol. IX.
Cf. also _Torquemada,_ Lib. xvii. cap. xx., Lib. xix. cap. xxix.

[39] See _P. Pauke,_ "Reise in d. Missionen von Paraguay:" Vienna, 1829,
p. 111.

[40] In addition to the works of _Acosta_, _Gomara_, _Herrera_,
_Humboldt_, _Waitz_ and _Müller_, already cited in connection with
Mexico, and _Prescott's_ "Conquest of Peru," we may mention the
following authorities for the political and religious history of Peru:

_Xeres_ (Pizarro's secretary): "Verdadera relacion de la conquista del
Peru y provincia del Cuzco llamada la nueva Castilla ... por Francisco
de Xeres," &c.: Seville, 1534. English translation by Markham in
"Reports on the Discovery of Peru:" printed for the Hakluyt Society,
London, 1872.--_Zarate_ (official Spanish "auditor" in Peru): "Historia
del descubrimiento y conquista del Peru.... La qual escriua Augustin de
Çarate," &c.: Antwerp, 1555. English translation: "The strange and
delectable History, &c.: translated out of the Spanish Tongue by T.
Nicholas:" London, 1581.--_Cieza de Leon_ (served in Peru for seventeen
years): "Parte Primera Dela chronica del Peru," &c.: Seville, 1553. The
second and third Parts have never been printed. English translation by
Markham: Hakluyt Society, 1864. [N. B. _Xeres_ (or _Jeres_), _Cieza de
Leon_ and _Zarate_, are all contained in Tom. XXVI. of Aribau's
"Biblioteca de autores Españoles."]--_Diego Fernandez_ of Palencia
(historiographer of Peru under the vice-royalty of Mendoza): "Primera, y
Segunda Parte, de la Historia del Peru," &c.: Seville, 1571.--_Miguel
Cavello Balboa:_ "Histoire du Pérou," in Ternaux-Compans, Vol.
XV.--_Arriaga_: "Extirpacion de la Idolatria del Piru ... Por el Padre
Pablo Joseph de Arriaga de la Compañia de Jesus:" Lima, 1621. Extracts
are given in Ternaux-Compans, Vol. XVII.--_Fernando Montesinos_:
"Memoires historiques sur l'Ancien Pérou:" translated from the Spanish
MS. in Ternaux-Compans, Vol. XVII. Montesinos rectifies Garcilasso de la
Vega on more points than one.--_Johannes de Laet_: "Novus Orbis," &c.:
Leiden, 1633.--Velasco: "Historia del Reino de Quito," &c.: Quito, 1844.
This work is in three Parts, the second of which, the "Historia
Antigua," is the one referred to in future notes. This second Part is
translated in Ternaux-Compans, Vols. XVIII. XIX.

The Abbé _Raynal's_ "Histoire philosophique et politique des
établissements ... des Européens dans les deux Indes" (10 vols.: Geneva,
1770) made a great stir in its time, the English translation by
Justamond reaching a third edition in 1777; but it is now completely
forgotten, and has no real value for our purposes. I cannot refrain from
a passing notice of a romance which is now almost as completely
forgotten as the Abbé Raynal's History, in spite of its long popularity:
I mean _Marmontel's_ "Les Incas et la Destruction de l'empire du Pérou:"
Paris, 1777. The author derived his materials from Garcilasso de la
Vega. In spite of the florid style and innumerable offences against
historical and psychological fact which characterize this work, it
cannot be denied that Marmontel has disengaged with great skill the
profound causes of the irremediable ruin of the Peruvian state.

_Lacroix_: "Pérou," in Vol. IV. of "L'Amérique" in "L'Univers
Pittoresque."--_Paul Chaix_: "Histoire de l'Amerique méridionale au
XVI^e siècle," Part I.: Geneva, 1853.--_Wuttke_: "Geschichte des
Heidenthums," Theil I., 1852.--_J. J. von Tschudi_: "Peru. Reiseskizzen
aus den Jahren 1838-1842:" St. Gallen, 1846.--_Thos. J. Hutchinson_:
"Two Years in Peru, with explorations of its Antiquities:" London, 1873.
Hutchinson had good reason to point out the exaggerations in which
Garcilasso indulges with reference to his ancestors the Incas, but he
himself speaks too slightingly of their government. Had it not been in
the main beneficent and popular, it could not have left such
affectionate and enduring memories in the minds of the native

For the method of citation, see end of note on p. 18.

[41] This work is in two Parts, the first of which (Lisbon, 1609) gives
an account of the native traditions, customs and history prior to the
Spanish conquest, while the second (published under the separate title
of _Historia General del Peru_: Cordova, 1617) deals with the Spanish
conquest, &c. English translation by Sir Paul Rycaut: London, 1688, not
at all to be trusted; both imperfect (omitting and condensing in an
arbitrary fashion) and incorrect. As it may be in the possession of some
of my readers, however, reference will be made to it in future notes.
The earlier and more important part of Garcilasso's work has recently
been translated for the _Hakluyt Society_ by _Clements R. Markham_, 2
vols.: London, 1869, 1871. References are to the _Commentarios reales_
(Part I.), unless otherwise stated.

[42] _Herrera_, Decada v. Libro iv. cap. ii. (Vol. IV. p. 335, in
Stevens's epitomized translation).

[43] _Garcilasso_, Lib. iv. cap. viii., Lib. v. capp. vi. vii. viii.
xiii.; _Acosta_, Lib. vi. capp. xiii. xvi.; _Montesinos_, p. 57.

[44] _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi. cap. xxxv.

[45] _Garcilasso_, Lib. v. cap. xii.; _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iv. cap.
iv. (Vol. IV. p. 344, in Stevens's translation). See also _Hazart_,
"Historie van Peru," Part II. chap. iv.; in his "Kerckelijcke Historie
van de Gheheele Wereldt," Vol. I. p. 315: Antwerp, 1682.

[46] See _Gomara_ (in Vol. XXII. of the Bibliotheca de Autores
Españoles), p. 228a; _Garcillasso_, "Historia General," &c., Lib. i.
cap. xviii.; cf. _Prescott_, Bk. iii. chaps. v. vi., and Appendices
viii. ix.

[47] _Gomara_, p. 232 a.

[48] Cf. _Waitz_, Theil IV. S. 411, 418.

[49] Cf. _Garcilasso_, Lib. v. cap. xiii.; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. ii.

[50] _Müller_, p. 406.

[51] See _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iv. cap. iii. (Vol. IV. pp. 337 sqq. in
Stevens's translation); _Garcilasso_, Lib. ii. capp. xii. xiii. xiv. (p.
35 of Rycaut's translation, in which the passage is much shortened),
Lib. v. cap. xi.; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 6.

[52] _Acosta_, Lib. vi. cap. xviii.; _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iv. cap. i.
and end of cap. iii. (Vol. IV. pp. 329 sq., 342, in Stevens's

[53] _Garcilasso_, Lib. iv. cap. vii.; _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iv. capp.
ii. iii. (Vol. IV. pp. 334, 341, in Stevens's translation); cf.
_Montesinos_, p. 56.

[54] _Garcilasso_, Lib. iv. cap. xix.; cf. Lib. viii. cap. viii. (ad

[55] Cf. _Tschudi_, Vol. II. p. 387; _Hutchinson_, Vol. II. pp. 175-6.

[56] _Montesinos_, p. 119, cf. pp. 33, 108.

[57] _Garcilasso_, Lib. v. cap. iii.

[58] _Humboldt_, pp. 108, 294.

[59] _Gomara_, p. 277 b.

[60] _Prescott_, Bk. iii. chap. viii.

[61] Cf. _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi. cap. iv.

[62] _Garcilasso_, Lib. i. capp. ix.-xvii.; cf. Lib. ii. cap. ix., Lib.
iii. cap. xxv.

[63] Such at least is the etymology proposed by Garcilasso (Lib. i. cap.
xviii.). Modern Peruvian scholars rather incline to refer _Cuzco_ to the
same root as _cuzcani_ ("to clear the ground").

[64] See the critical summary of the history of the Incas in _Waitz_,
Theil. IV. S. 396 sq. The following table of the successive Incas
follows Garcilasso:

    Manco Capac,                 died about 1000
    Sinchi Roca,                      "     1091
    Lloque Yupanqui,                  "     1126
    Mayta Capac,                      "     1156
    Capac Yupanqui,                   "     1197
    Inca Roca,                        "     1249
    Yahuar Huacac,                    "     1289
    Viracocha Inca Ripac,             "     1340
    [Inca Urco, who only reigned 11 days, is omitted by Garcilasso]
    Tito Manco Capac Pachacutec,      "     1400
    Yupanqui,                         "     1438
    Tupac Yupanqui,                   "     1475
    Huayna Capac,                     "     1525
    Huascar,  }                       "    {1532
    Atahualpa,}                       "    {1533

[65] _Garcilasso_, Lib. viii. cap. viii. Garcilasso says that he
translates this passage, word for word, from the Latin MS. of the Jesuit
Father, _Blas Valera_.

[66] _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iv. cap. iv. (Vol. IV. p. 346, in Stevens's

[67] Lib. ix. cap. x.

[68] _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. i. capp. ii. iii., Lib. iii. cap. xvii.
(Vol. IV. pp. 240 sqq., 325 sqq., in Stevens's translation).

[69] _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. iii. cap. ii. (Vol. IV. p. 266, in
Stevens's translation); _Gomara_, p. 231 a.

[70] In the course of a few months, Pizarro amassed such immense wealth
that, after deducting the _fifth_ for the king and a large sum for the
reinforcements brought him by Almagro, he was still able to give £4000
to each of his foot-soldiers, and double that sum to each horseman. The
calculation is made by Robertson, who estimates the _peso_ at a pound
sterling. To obtain the equivalent purchasing power in our own times,
these sums would have to be more than quadrupled!

[71] _Herrera_, Dec. v. Lib. viii. capp. i. sqq. (Vol. V. pp. 23 sqq. in
Stevens's translation).

[72] See _Alcedo_, "Diccionario Geográfico-Historico de las Indias
Occidentales," &c.: Madrid, 1786-9: article _Chunchos_.

[73] See _Waitz_, Vol. IV. pp. 477-497; _Tschudi_, Vol. II. pp. 346-351;
cf. _Castelnau_, "Expedition dans les Parties centrales de l'Amerique du
Sud," &c.: Paris, 1850, &c., Part I. Vol. III. p. 282.

[74] _Tschudi_, ibid.

[75] Cf. Spanish MS. cited by _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.; _Velasco_,
Lib. ii. § 4, sec. 15.

[76] _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.

[77] Cf. _Garcilasso_, Lib. v. cap. xxi., where the current etymology of
the word is rejected.

[78] See _Müller_, pp. 313 sqq., where all the views concerning him are
collected and discussed.

[79] This hymn was found by _Garcilasso_ (see Lib. ii. cap. xvii., pp.
50, 51, in Rycaut's translation) among the papers of Father _Blas
Valera_, and has been freed by _Tschudi_ from the misprints, &c., that
disfigured it in the printed editions of Garcilasso and all subsequent
reproductions. See _Tschudi_, Vol. II. p. 381.

[80] _Johannes de Laet_, Lib. x. cap. i. (p. 398, ll. 51, 52).

[81] _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. i.; _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi. cap. xxx.

[82] _Gomara_, p. 233a; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 2, sec. 4.

[83] _Garcilasso_, Lib. ii. capp. ii. iii.

[84] See _Montesinos_, pp. 3 sqq., whose version of the legend has been
mainly followed in the text. Cf. however, for some of the details,
_Garcilasso_, Lib. i. cap. xviii. (omitted by Rycaut); _Acosta_, Lib. i.
cap. xxv.; _Balboa_, pp. 4 sqq., &c.

[85] _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 4, sec. 17; _Ph. H. Külb_ in _Widenmann_ and
_Hauff's_ "Reisen u. Länderbeshreibungen," Lief, xxvii.: Stuttgart,
1843, pp. 186-7.

[86] _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. iv.; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 4, sec. 16;
_Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.; _Külb_, ibid.

[87] _Prescott_, ibid. In cloudy weather they had recourse to the method
of friction.

[88] _Prescott_, ibid.

[89] _Arriaga_, pp. 17, 32; _Külb_, ibid.

[90] Cf. _Arriaga_, pp. 10-17, &c. (cf. _Ternaux-Compans_, Vol. XVII.
pp. 13, 14).

[91] _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. v.; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 3, sec. 2;
_Arriaga_, ibid.

[92] _Tschudi_, Vol. II. pp. 396-7.

[93] _Arriaga_, p. 18 (cf. _Ternaux-Compans_, Vol. XVII. p. 15).

[94] Cf. _Arriaga_, pp. 10-17 (cf. _Ternaux-Compans_, Vol. XVII. pp. 13,
14); _Acosta_, Lib. v; cap. v.; _Montesinos_, pp. 161-2; _Velasco_, Lib.
ii. § 3, sec. 1.

[95] On the priesthood, cf. _Arriaga_, pp. 17 sqq. (cf.
_Ternaux-Compans_, Vol. XVII. p. 15); _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.;
_Balboa_, p. 29; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 3, sec. 8; _Garcilasso_, Lib. v.
capp. viii. (ad fin.) xii. xiii.; _Müller_, p. 387; _Külb_, l.c. p. 187.

[96] Cf. _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. xv.; _Montesinos_, p. 56; _Velasco_,
Lib. ii. § 3, sec. 12, § 9, sec. 10; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii. and

[97] Cf. _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.; _Garcilasso_, Lib. iii. capp.
xx.-xxiv.; _Paul Chaix_, Vol. I. pp. 249 sqq. On the temples of
Pachacamac, which must have attained gigantic proportions before the
time of the Incas, see _Hutchinson_, Vol. I. pp. 147-176.

[98] _Richard Inwards_, "The Temple of the Andes:" London, 1884.

[99] _Acosta_, Lib, v. cap. xviii.; _Garcilasso_, Lib. ii. cap. viii.
(p. 31 in Rycaut), Lib. vi. cap. xxi.; _Arriaga_, p. 77.

[100] _Acosta_, ibid.; _Arriaga_, pp. 24-27 (cf. _Ternaux-Compans_, Vol.
XVII. pp. 15, 16); _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iii.

[101] _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 4, sec. 20.

[102] _Acosta_, ibid.; _Arriaga_, ibid.

[103] _Garcilasso_, Lib. i. cap. xi., Lib. ii. cap. xviii., Lib. iv.
cap. xv., and elsewhere (pp. 6, &c., in Rycaut, who omits some of the

[104] _Montesinos_, p. 121; _Acosta_, Lib. v. capp. v. xix., Lib. vi.
cap. xxii.; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chaps, i. ii.; _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi.
cap. v.; _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. vii.; _Velasco_, Lib. iii. § 1, sec. 1.

[105] _Gomara_, p. 234 a. Cf. _Montesinos_, p. 68, and _Pöppig_ in Ersch
u. Gruber's "Encyklopädie," art. _Incas_, p. 287 b, note 35.

[106] _Garcilasso_, Lib. ii. capp. xxii, xxiii. (pp. 43, 44, in Rycaut);
_Prescott_, Bk. i. chap. iv.; _Acosta_, Lib. vi. cap. iii.

[107] _Garcilasso_, Lib. v. cap. ii.; _Tschudi_, Vol. II. p. 382;
_Rivero y Tschudi_: Antigüedades Peruanas: Viena, 1851. pp. 135-141. N.
B. An English translation of this work by F. L. Hawks appeared at New
York in 1853.

[108] _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 5, secc. 4, 17 (Ternaux-Compans, Vol. XVIII.
pp. 137, 148-9); _Külb_, l.c. p. 190.

[109] _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi. capp. xx.-xxii.; _Prescott_, Bk. i. chap.

[110] _Acosta_, Lib. v. cap. xxviii. [wrongly numbered xxvii. in the
original edition]; _Garcilasso_, Lib. vii. capp. vi. vii.

[111] _Acosta_, ibid.

[112] _Acosta_, ibid.; _Garcilasso_, Lib. vi. capp. xxiv.-xxvii.

[113] Cf. _Acosta_, ibid.; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 5.

[114] _Gomara_, p. 233 b; _Garcilasso_, Lib. ii. cap. xxiii.; cf.
_Montesinos_, pp. 67, 68.

[115] _Balboa_, pp. 29, 30.

[116] Cf. _Arriaga_, pp. 17-23, and _passim_ (Ternaux-Compans, Vol.
XVII. p. 15).

[117] See _Prescott_, ibid.

[118] Cf. _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 3, secc. 4, 5.

[119] _Balboa_, p. 3; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 3, sec. 6; _Arriaga_, pp.
28, 29 (Ternaux-Compans, Vol. XVII. pp. 16, 17).

[120] Cf. _Tschudi_, Vol. II. pp. 355-6, 397-8.

[121] _Acosta_, Lib. v. capp. vi. vii.; _Velasco_, Lib. ii. § 3, sec. 3;
_Arriaga_, p. 15 (cf. Ternaux-Compans, Vol. XVII. p. 14); _Garcilasso_,
Lib. ii. capp. ii. (Supay), vii. (omitted by Rycaut); _Prescott_, Bk. i.
chap. iii.

[122] Compare _W. B. Stevenson_, "A Historical and Descriptive Narrative
of Twenty Years' Residence in South America:" London, 1825, Vol. I. pp.
394 sqq.


    Transcriber's Note:

    Changes listed in the Addenda et Corrigenda on page ix have
    been made. Spelling and spelling variations have been retained
    as in the original publication.

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