Robert Kerr.

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a online

. (page 35 of 52)
Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 35 of 52)
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these and the remains of their original force to a country named
_Catamez_[4], considerably beyond the river of St Juan, a tolerably
peopled country, in which they found plenty of provisions. The Indians of
this part of the coast, who were still hostile, were observed to have
certain ornaments of gold, resembling nails, inserted into holes made for
that purpose in different parts of their faces. Almagro was sent back a
second time to Panama, to endeavour to procure a larger force, and Pizarro
retired in the mean time to the small island of _Gallo_ somewhat farther
to the north, near the shore of the _Barbacoas_, and not far from Cape
_Mangles_, where he and his people suffered extreme hardships from
scarcity of provisions, amounting almost to absolute famine.

On the return of Almagro to Panama for reinforcements, he found the
government in the hands of Pedro de los Rios, who opposed the design of
Almagro to raise recruits, because those with Pizarro had secretly
conveyed a petition to the governor, not to permit any more people to be
sent upon an enterprize of so much danger, and requesting their own recal.
The governor, therefore, sent an officer to the Isle of Gallo, with an
order for such as were so inclined to return to Panama, which was eagerly
embraced by the greatest part of the soldiers of Pizarro, twelve only
remaining along with him. Not daring to remain with so small a force in an
island so near the main land, Pizarro retired to an uninhabited island
named Gorgona, about 70 miles farther north, and considerably more distant
from the coast than Gallo, in which island, which had abundance of springs
and rivulets, he and his small band of faithful associates, lived on crabs
in expectation of relief and reinforcement from Panama. At last a vessel
arrived with provisions, but no soldiers, in which Pizarro embarked with
his twelve men, to whose courage and constancy the discovery of Peru was
owing. Their names deserve to be handed down to posterity: Nicolas de
Ribera, Pedro de Candia a native of the Greek island of that name, Juan de
Torre, Alfonso Briseno, Christoval de Peraulte, Alfonso de Truxillo,
Francisco de Cuellar, and Alfonso de Molina[5]. The pilot of the vessel in
which they embarked was named Bartholomew Bruyz, a native of Moguer. Under
the guidance of this man, but with infinite difficulty from contrary winds
and adverse currents, Pizarro reached a district named _Mostripe_[6],
about equally distant from the two places since built by the Christians,
named Truxillo and San Miguel. With the very small number of men who
accompanied him, Pizarro dared not to advance any farther along the coast,
and contented himself with going a small way up the river _Puechos_ or de
la Chira[7]; where he procured some of the sheep[8] of the country, and
some of the natives on purpose to serve him as interpreters in the sequel.
Returning from thence, Pizarro went northwards to the port of Tumbez on
the south-side of the bay of Guayaquil, where he was informed that the king
of Peru had a fine palace, and where the Indians were said to be very rich.
This place was one of the most extraordinary in the country, until it was
ruined by the inhabitants of the island of Puna, as will be related
hereafter. At this place, three of his men deserted, who were afterwards
put to death by the Indians.

After these discoveries, Pizarro returned to Panama, having spent three
years in this voyage, counting from his first leaving Panama, in which
time he was exposed to many dangers fatigues and privations, by the
opposition and hostilities of the Indians, and through famine, and more
than all distressed by the discontents and mutinies of his people, most of
whom lost all hope of success, or of deriving any advantage from the
expedition. Pizarro soothed their fears and encouraged their perseverance
by every means in his power, providing for their necessities with much
prudent care, and bearing up against every difficulty with astonishing
firmness and perseverance: leaving to Almagro to provide men arms and
horses, and necessaries of all kinds for the enterprize. These two
officers, from being the richest of the settlers in Panama at the
commencement of their enterprize, were now entirely ruined and overwhelmed
in debt; yet did they not despair of ultimate success, and resolved to
prosecute the discovery of which a very promising commencement had now
been made[9].

In concert with his associates Almagro and Luque, Pizarro went to Spain,
to lay an account before the king of the discovery which he had made, and
to solicit the appointment of governor of that country, of which he
proposed to prosecute the discovery, and to reduce it under the dominion
of the crown of Spain. His majesty granted his demand, under those
conditions which used to be stipulated with other officers who engaged in
similar enterprizes. With this authority, he returned to Panama,
accompanied by Ferdinand, Juan, and Gonzalo Pizarro, and Francisco Martin
de Alcantara, his brothers. Ferdinand and Juan Pizarro were his brothers
both by father and mother, and the only lawful sons of Gonzalo Pizarro, an
inhabitant of Truxillo in Old Spain, a captain in the infantry regiment of
Navarre: Don Francisco Pizarro himself and Gonzalo Pizarro were natural
sons of the elder Gonzalo Pizarro by different mothers: Francisco de
Alcantara was likewise the brother of Don Francisco Pizarro, by his mother
only, but by a different father[10]. Besides these, Pizarro brought as
many men from Spain to assist in his enterprize as he could procure, being
mostly inhabitants of Truxillo and other places in Estremadura[11].

On his arrival at Panama in 1530, Pizarro and his associates used every
effort to complete the preparations for the enterprize; but at first a
dispute arose between him and Almagro. The latter complained that Pizarro
had only attended to his own interests when at the court of Spain, having
procured the appointments of governor and president of Peru for himself,
without making any mention of Almagro, or at least without having procured
any office for him, who had borne the far greater proportion of the
expences hitherto incurred. Pizarro alleged that the king had refused to
give any office to Almagro, though solicited by him for that purpose: But
engaged his word to renounce the office of president in his behalf, and to
supplicate the king to bestow that appointment upon him. Almagro was
appeased by this concession; and they proceeded to make every preparation
in concert that might be conducive to the success of the undertaking. But,
before entering upon the narrative of their actions, it seems proper to
give some account of the situation of Peru, of the most remarkable things
which it contains, and of the manners and customs of the inhabitants.

The country of Peru, of which this history is intended to treat, commences
at the equator, and extends south towards the antarctic pole[12]. The
people who inhabit in the neighbourhood of the equator have swarthy
complexions; their language is extremely guttural; and they are addicted
to unnatural vices, for which reason they care little for their women and
use them ill[13], The women wear their hair very short, and their whole
clothing consists of a short petticoat, covering only from the waist to
about the knees. By the women only is the grain cultivated, and by them it
is bruised or ground to meal, and baked. This grain, called maize in the
West-Indian Islands, is called _Zara_ in the language of Peru[14]. The men
wear a kind of shirts or jackets without sleeves, which only reach to the
navel, and do not cover the parts of shame. They wear their hair short,
having a kind of tonsure on their crowns, almost like monks. They have no
other dress or covering, yet pride themselves on certain ornaments of gold
hanging from their ears and nostrils, and are particularly fond of
pendants made of emeralds, which are chiefly found in those parts of the
country bordering on the equator. The natives have always concealed the
places where these precious stones are procured, but the Spaniards have
been in use to find some emeralds in that part of the country, mixed among
pebbles and gravel, on which account it is supposed that the natives
procured them from thence. The men also are fond of wearing a kind of
bracelets, or strings of beads, of gold and silver, mixed with small
turquoise stones and white shells, or of various colours; and the women
are not permitted to wear any of those ornaments.

The country is exceedingly hot and unwholesome, and the inhabitants are
particularly subject to certain malignant warts or carbuncles of a
dangerous nature on the face and other parts of the body, having very deep
roots, which are more dangerous than the small-pox, and almost equally
destructive as the carbuncles of the plague. The natives have many temples,
of which the doors always front the east, and are closed only by cotton
curtains. In each temple there are two idols or figures in relief
resembling black goats, before which they continually burn certain
sweet-smelling woods. From this wood a certain liquor exudes, when the
bark is stripped off, which has a strong and disagreeable flavour, by
means of which dead bodies are preserved free from corruption. In their
temples, they have also representations of large serpents, to which they
give adoration; besides which every nation, district, tribe or house, had
its particular god or idol. In some temples, particularly in those of
certain villages which were called _Pafao_, the walls and pillars were
hung round with dried bodies of men women and children, _in the form of
crosses_, which were all so thoroughly embalmed by means of the liquor
already mentioned, that they were entirely devoid of bad smell. In these
places also they had many human heads hung up; which by means of certain
drugs with which they were anointed, were so much shrunk or dried up as to
be no bigger than a mans fist[15].

This country is extremely dry, as it very seldom has any rain, and its
rivulets are few and scanty; so that the people are reduced to the
necessity of digging pit-wells, or of procuring water from certain pools
or reservoirs. Their houses are built of large canes or reeds. It
possesses gold, but of a very low quantity; and has very few fruits. The
inhabitants use small canoes hollowed out of the trunks of trees, and a
sort of rafts which are very flat. The whole coast abounds in fish, and
whales are sometimes seen in these seas. On the doors of the temples in
that district which is called _Caraque_, the figures of men are sometimes
seen, which have dresses somewhat resembling those of our deacons.

Near the last mentioned province, at Cape St Helena in the province of
Guayaquil, there are certain springs or mineral veins which give out a
species of bitumen resembling pitch or tar, and which is applied to the
same purposes. The Indians of that country pretend that in ancient times
it was inhabited by giants, who were four times the height of ordinary
men[16]. The Spaniards saw two representations of these giants at _Puerto
viejo_, one of a man and the other of a woman, and the inhabitants related
a traditionary tale of the descent of a young man from heaven, whose
countenance and body shone like the sun, who fought against the giants and
destroyed them with flames of fire. In the year 1543, Captain Juan de
Holmos, lieutenant-governor of Puerto viejo, caused a certain valley to be
carefully examined, in which these giants were were said to have been
destroyed, and in which ribs and other bones of prodigious size were dug
up, which fully confirmed the traditions of the Indians[17]. The natives
of this country have no knowledge whatever of writing, nor had they even
any use of that method of painting employed by the Mexicans for preserving
the memory of ancient events, which were handed down from father to son
merely by traditionary stories. In some places indeed they used an
extraordinary means for preserving the remembrance of important events, by
certain cords or strings of cotton called _Quippos_, on which they
represented _numbers_ by knots of different kinds, and at regulated
intervals, from _units_ up to _dozens_, and so forth; the cords being of
the same colours with those things which they were intended to represent.
In every province, there are persons who are entrusted with the care of
these _quippos_, who are named _Quippo camayos_, who register public
matters by means of these coloured strings and knots artificially disposed;
and it is wonderful with what readiness these men understand and explain
to others events that have happened several ages ago. There are public
buildings throughout the country which are used as magazines of these

To the south of the equator, and near the coast, is the island of Puna[18],
about twelve leagues in circumference, containing abundance of game, and
having great quantities of fish on its shores. It has plenty of fresh
water, and was formerly very populous, its inhabitants being almost
continually engaged in war, especially with the people of Tumbez, which is
twelve leagues distant to the south. These people wore shirts, above which
they had a kind of woollen garments. They went to sea in a peculiar kind
of flats or rafts, made of long planks of a light wood fixed to two other
cross planks below them to hold them together. The upper planks are always
an uneven number, usually five, but sometimes seven or nine; that in the
middle, on which the conductor of the float sits and rows, being longer
than the others, which are shorter and shorter toward the sides, and they
are covered by a species of awning to keep those who sit upon them from
the weather. Some of these floats are large enough to carry fifty men and
three horses, and are navigated both by oars and sails, in the use of
which the Indians are very expert. Sometimes, when the Spaniards have
trusted themselves on these floats, the Indian rowers have contrived to
loosen the planks, leaving the christians to perish, and saving themselves
by swimming. The Indians of that island were armed with bows and slings,
and with maces and axes of silver and copper. They had likewise spears or
lances, having heads made of gold very much alloyed; and both men and
women wore rings and other ornaments of gold, and their most ordinary
utensils were made of gold and silver. The lord of this island was much
feared and respected by his subjects, and so extremely jealous of his
women, that those who had the care of them were not only eunuchs, but had
their noses cut off. In a small island near Puna, there was found in a
house the representation of a garden, having the figures of various trees
and plants artificially made of gold and silver.

Opposite to the island of Puna on the main land, there dwelt a nation or
tribe which had given so much offence to the king of Peru, that they were
obliged as a punishment to extirpate all their upper teeth; in consequence
of which, even now, the people of that district have no teeth in their
upper jaws. From Tumbez for five hundred leagues to the south along the
coast of the south sea, and for ten leagues in breadth, more or less
according to the distance between the sea and the mountains, it never
rains or thunders. But on the mountains which bound that maritime plain,
there are both rain and thunder, and the climate has the vicissitudes of
summer and winter nearly as in Spain. While it is winter in the mountain,
it is summer all along the coast; and on the contrary, during the summer
on the mountain the coast has what may be termed winter. The length of
Peru, from the city of _St Juan de Parto_ to the province of Chili lately
discovered, is above 1800[19] leagues of Castille. Along the whole of that
length, a vast chain of exceedingly high and desert mountains extends from
north to south, in some places fifteen or twenty leagues distant from the
sea, and less in others. The whole country is thus divided into two
portions, all the space between the mountains and the sea being
denominated _the plain_, and all beyond is called the mountain.

The whole plain of Peru is sandy and extremely arid, as it never has any
rain, and there are no springs or wells, nor any rivulets, except in four
or five places near the sea, where the water is brackish. The only water
used by the inhabitants is from torrents which come down from the mountain,
and which are there formed by rain and the melting of snow, as there are
even very few springs in the mountainous part of the country. In some
places, these torrents or mountain-streams are twelve fifteen or twenty
leagues distance from each other, but generally only seven or eight
leagues; and travellers for the most part are under the necessity of
regulating their days journies by these streams or rivers, that they may
have water for themselves and cattle. Along these rivers, for the breadth
of a league, more or less according to the nature of the soil, there are
some groves and fruit-trees, and maize fields cultivated by the Indians,
to which wheat has been added since the establishment of the Spaniards.
For the purpose of irrigating or watering these cultivated fields, small
canals are dug from the rivers, to conduct the water wherever it is
necessary and where that can be done; and in the construction of these the
natives are exceedingly ingenious and careful, having often to draw these
canals seven or eight leagues by various circuits to avoid intermediate
hollows, although perhaps the whole breadth of the vale may not exceed
half a league. In all these smaller vales along the streams and torrents,
from the mountain to the sea, the country is exceedingly fertile and
agreeable. Several of these torrents are so large and deep, such as those
of Santa, Baranca, and others, that without the assistance of the Indians,
who break and diminish for a short time the force of the current, by means
of piles and branches forming a temporary wear or dike, the Spaniards
would be unable to pass. In these hazardous passages, it was necessary to
get over with all possible expedition, to avoid the violence of the stream,
which often rolled down very large stones. Travellers in the plain of Peru,
when going north or south, almost always keep within sight of the sea,
where the torrents are less violent, owing to the greater flatness of the
plain as it recedes from the mountain. Yet in winter the passage of these
torrents is extremely dangerous, as they cannot be then forded, and must
be crossed in barks or floats like those formerly mentioned, or on a kind
of rafts made of gourds inclosed in a net, on which the passenger reclines,
while one Indian swims before pulling the raft after him with a rope, and
another Indian swims behind and pushes the raft before him.

On the borders of these rivers there are various kinds of fruit-trees,
cotton-trees, willows, and many kinds of canes, reeds, and sedges. The
watered land is extremely fertile, and is kept under continual cultivation;
wheat and maize being sown and reaped all the year through. The Indians in
the plain seldom have any houses, or at best a kind of rude huts or cabins
made of branches of trees, often dwelling under the shade of trees,
without any habitation whatever. The women are habited in long dresses of
cotton which descend to their feet; while the men wear breeches and vests
which come down to their knees, and have a kind of cloak or mantle thrown
over their shoulders. They are all dressed in a similar manner, having no
distinctions except in their head-dresses, according to rank or the
different districts of the country; some wearing a tuft of wool, others a
single cord, and others several cords of different colours. All the
Indians of the plain are distributed into three orders; the first named
_Yungas_, the second _Tallanes_, and the third _Mochicas_. Every province
has its own peculiar language or dialect, different from all the rest. But
all the caciques or principal people and nobles of the country, besides
the language peculiar to their respective countries or districts, were
obliged to understand and speak the language of Cuzco. One of the Peruvian
kings, named Huana Capac, the father of Atahualpa or Atabalipa, was much
displeased that the caciques and principal people of his empire should be
under the necessity of employing interpreters when they had occasion to
speak to him; and gave orders that all the caciques and their relatives
should send their children to reside at court, to be instructed in the
language of Cuzco which was spoken by the Incas. This was the ostensible
reason of the measure; but in reality he wished to have these children in
his power, to serve as hostages for the loyalty of their parents. By this
means, all the nobles of the land came to understand the peculiar language
of Cuzco which was spoken at court; just as in Flanders all the nobles and
persons of any rank speak French. Owing to this circumstance, as the
Spaniards have learnt the language of the Incas, or of Cuzco, they are
able to converse with all the principal natives of Peru, both those of the
mountain and of the plain.

It may appear difficult to some of my readers to comprehend why no rain
should fall in the plain of Peru, considering that the country is bounded
along the whole of one side by the sea, where many vapours are constantly
ascending, and on the other side by a vast range of mountain which is
always enveloped in rain or snow. Those who have carefully considered this
singular phenomenon, allege that it is occasioned by the continual
prevalence of a strong south-west wind all along the coast and over the
whole plain of Peru, which carries off all the vapours which rise from the
sea and the land, without allowing them to rise sufficiently high in the
air to gather and fall down again in rain. From the tops of the high
mountains, these vapours are often seen far beneath on the plain in thick
clouds, while all is quite clear and serene on the mountain. By the
perpetual blowing of the same wind, the waters of the South-sea have a
constant current along the coast to the northward. Others allege a
different reason for this current; saying, that the water of the
South-sea having only a narrow outlet at the straits of Magellan, which
are only two leagues broad, and being there opposed by the Atlantic Ocean,
they are forced to return to the northward along the coast of Chili and
Peru. This constant wind and current render the navigation exceedingly
difficult, from Panama to Peru for the greater part of the year; so that
vessels are obliged always to tack to windward against wind and current.

The whole coast of Peru abounds in fish of various kinds, among which are
great quantities of sea-calves or seals, of several species. Beyond the
river of Tumbez there are no caymans or alligators, which is supposed to
be owing to the too great coolness of the sea and rivers, as these animals
delight in heat; but it is more probable that their absence from the
rivers of Peru is occasioned by their great rapidity, as they usually
frequent rivers that are very still. In the whole extent of the plain
there are only five cities inhabited by the Christians[20]. The first of
these, Puerto Viejo, about one degree south of the line, has very few
inhabitants, as it stands in a poor and unwholesome country, in which the
principal production of value is a few emeralds. Fifty leagues to the
southward, and about fifteen leagues from the coast, is the city of San
Miguel, named _Piuru_ by the Indians, in a pleasant and fruitful country,
but which has no mines of gold or silver. Most people who have occasion to
go there are liable to be afflicted with diseases of the eyes. Sixty
leagues farther along the coast, is the city of Truxillo, two leagues from
the sea, in the valley of Chimo, having a dangerous harbour of difficult
approach. This city stands on the banks of a river in a fine plain, which
is fertile in wheat and maize, and breeds great abundance of cattle,
having plenty of excellent water. Truxillo is very regularly built, and is
inhabited by about three hundred Spanish families. About eighty leagues
from Truxillo to the south, and in the valley of _Rimac_, stands the city
of _Los Reys_, or Lima, because it was founded at Epiphany, vulgarly
called the day of the kings. This city is about two leagues from the
harbour of _Callao_, an excellent and secure harbour, and is situated on a
large river in a fine plain, abounding in grain, and in all kinds of fruit
and cattle. All the streets are perfectly straight, and all of them lead

Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 35 of 52)