Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 The defence of Herat in 1838 by...
 Chinese Gordon's first great...
 The storming of Soochow
 The first sight of the Pacific
 The conquest of Mexico by Hernando...
 Murder of the Duc d'Enghien
 Napoleon's abdication in 1814
 A fifteen-thousand-mile ocean...
 Adventures of Count Benyowski
 The first British gun that crossed...
 Retreat and massacre of the British...
 The ghost and the ring: An incident...
 A mad adventure of Charles XII...
 Shipwreck of the 78th regiment
 Story of Paul Jones, the American...
 Single combat between Edward III...
 Gustavus Vasa of Sweden
 Trial and execution of John...
 The building of a floating...
 Remarkable escape of General De...
 The Fiji Islanders then and...
 Louis Kossuth and the war of Hungarian...
 The siege of Gibraltar
 Love rekindled by pity
 A most wonderful Scot abroad
 The fifteen decisive battles of...
 Escape of Charles II
 A false Messiah
 The capture of Quebec and conquest...
 The trial and execution of Louis...
 Death and burial of Sir John...
 The retreat of the ten thousan...
 Shooter's Hill Tower
 The great mutiny of the fleet in...
 Storming of Majuba Hill, February...
 The crisis of the battle of...
 Henry Stanley and the new Congo...
 Back Cover

Title: Stirring stories of peace and war, by sea and land
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053761/00001
 Material Information
Title: Stirring stories of peace and war, by sea and land
Physical Description: vii, 400 p., 16 leaves of plates : ill., port. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Macaulay, James, 1817-1902
Hodder and Stoughton ( Publisher )
Hazell, Watson & Viney ( Publisher )
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Hazell, Watson, & Viney
Publication Date: 1885
Subject: Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Peace -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
War -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
World history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1885   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1885
Genre: Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by James Macaulay ; with sixteen illustrations.
General Note: Title page printed in colors.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053761
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002392260
notis - ALZ7157
oclc - 64613052

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    List of Illustrations
        Page viii
    The defence of Herat in 1838 by lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, R.A.
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Chinese Gordon's first great victory
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    The storming of Soochow
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    The first sight of the Pacific
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
    The conquest of Mexico by Hernando Cortez
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Murder of the Duc d'Enghien
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
    Napoleon's abdication in 1814
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
    A fifteen-thousand-mile ocean race
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Adventures of Count Benyowski
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    The first British gun that crossed the Sutlej
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
    Retreat and massacre of the British army in the Khoord-Cabul Pass
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
    The ghost and the ring: An incident in the life of Louis XIV
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
    A mad adventure of Charles XII of Sweden
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    Shipwreck of the 78th regiment
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
    Story of Paul Jones, the American privateer
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
    Single combat between Edward III and Sir Adam Gordon
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
    Gustavus Vasa of Sweden
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
    Trial and execution of John Calas
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
    The building of a floating railway
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
    Remarkable escape of General De la Harpe
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
    The Fiji Islanders then and now
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
    Louis Kossuth and the war of Hungarian Independence
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
    The siege of Gibraltar
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
    Love rekindled by pity
        Page 247
        Page 248
    A most wonderful Scot abroad
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
    The fifteen decisive battles of the world, from Marathon to Waterloo
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
    Escape of Charles II
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
    A false Messiah
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
    The capture of Quebec and conquest of Canada
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
    The trial and execution of Louis XVI
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
    Death and burial of Sir John Moore
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
    The retreat of the ten thousand
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
    Shooter's Hill Tower
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
    The great mutiny of the fleet in 1797
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
    Storming of Majuba Hill, February 27th, 1881
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
    The crisis of the battle of Waterloo
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
    Henry Stanley and the new Congo State
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
    Back Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
Full Text

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With Thirteen Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 5s.

An Old Story Retold.
With Eleven Illustrations. Crown 8vo, gilt edges. 5s.

With Eleven Illustrations. Crown 8vo, cloth. 5s.

With Full-fage Illustrations. Ninth Thousand. Crown 8vo,
cloth gilt. 5s.





"pHt^ a0b Mar, bg 2fa anb SaAnb


Editor of The Leisure Hfour";


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Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Limited, Printers, London and Aylesbury.















vi Contents.



LIFE OF Louis XIV. 129


















Contents. vii













THE SEA! THE SEA!" Frontispiece /

















FEW places in the world are deemed or greater political
importance than Herat, the capital of the western pro-
vince of Afghanistan. Founded by Alexander the Great,
B.C. 327, all the subsequent conquerors of India have made
the possession of this stronghold an essential point in their
plans for campaigns in regions beyond. Hence it has generally
been spoken of as the gate of India."
Baber, the founder of the Mogul empire at Delhi; Timor
the Tartar, better known as Tamerlane; Shebani, prince of
the Usbegs, in the beginning of the sixteenth century; Nadir
Shah, in the eighteenth century;-all these conquerors seized
this central point as indispensable for the success of their
ulterior plans. No wonder that the Russians in our own
times look to the possession of Herat as the basis of their
military movements in their progress southward in Asia. No
wonder that soldiers and statesmen alike regard Herat with
watchful anxiety.
In recent times the possession of the city has been keenly
contested by the Persians and Afghans, the chief powers
interested in these regions, previous to the approach of the
English from the south and the Russians from the north.
These two mighty empires are now face to face on Asiatic
ground, and both consider Herat as the key to Hindostan,
as well as to Persia. It is all very well to say that the key to
India is in London, meaning that victory will, in the long run,
rest with those who possess most money, or "the sinews ot

2 The Defence of Herat in 1838 by

war," as the phrase goes. But the capture of Herat by Russia
would cause immense trouble and expense to England, even
if it were not followed by a speedy invasion of India. Hence
the importance given to alliance with Afghanistan, to which
Herat has for many years belonged. In former times, when
England was on good terms with Persia, it was our policy to
help the Persians to take and to garrison Herat. But the
Russians have been more active in their diplomacy, as well as
aggressive in their military movements, than the English in
recent times, and hence the danger of Herat falling into the
hands of the conquerors of Khiva, Bokhara, and other regions
of Central Asia. When the Persians laid siege to Herat in
1837, the year when Queen Victoria began to reign, already
the Russians had engineer and artillery officers with the
besieging force, and it was only through the gallantry and
skill of a young English officer, Eldred Pottinger, that the
town was successfully defended, and the schemes of Russian
intrigue baffled at that period. Of this memorable defence
we are about to give a brief account, but it is worth while first
to say a few words about the great importance of Herat for
other reasons than as a mere military position.
The province of Herat is famous in all the East for its agri-
cultural and commercial resources. The soil is of incredible
fertility. M. Vamb6ry, the celebrated traveller, says that
there is not another spot between Siberia and Hindostan to
be compared in productiveness with the valleys of the Paro-
pamisus mountains, which form the western portion of the
mighty Hindoo-koosh range. The statements of ancient geo-
graphers and of modern poets are in no degree exaggerated,
as to the soil and products, the fruits and grain, the flocks and
the fabrics, of the rich land of Herat. The climate is tem-
perate, and the country well watered; its two chief rivers,
the Heri Rud and the Murghab (one of the tributaries of the
latter, the Kushk, noted in recent Anglo-Russian troubles),
flowing, with fertilizing waters, north-west toward the Turco-
man steppe. The mineral, as well as the agricultural wealth,

Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, R.A. 3

the rich manufactures of carpets, furs, leather, and other
industries, have attracted merchants and traders from remote
regions; and the bazaars of Herat were formerly the emporium
for commerce, and the centre of communication for caravans
from many lands. These palmy days have passed, but the
climate is the same, and the soil; and the busy sounds of
art and industry would again enliven the decayed city, when
brought into connection with the railway traffic of modern
This wealth of nature and of art has been the cause of the per-
petual rivalries and wars by which the prosperity of the province
of Herat has been checked, but it will increase to an enormous
extent in coming times, and hence the longing eyes with which
Russia looks on the rich region now within its grasp.
As to the inhabitants of Herat, the province contains pro-
bably a million of souls, of very various races ; and although
nominally under Afghan rule, as formerly under that of Persia,
there is a great spirit of independence, and they would readily
submit to the first European power that obtained possession.
M. Vambdry, when in London in the spring of 1885, said,
"Herat is standing on the threshold of an extraordinary meta-
morphosis, and whichever of the European rivals may chance to
get possession of it, they will be sure to avail themselves of
the favourable circumstances to obtain a firm hold there, and
will find an essential support in some of the races, who may
be transformed, at but small expense, into an excellent
militia, and trained into becoming a reliable barrier against
Afghanistan and Persia in the defence of the borders of the
country, while, at the same time, under the protection of a
stable government, other tribes may develop into powerful
agencies of commerce and industry. The situation of Herat
is, in fact, such that, in its commercial and strategic im-
portance, it is surpassed by but few cities in Asia. The
commerce of India, Sogdia, and China reached the west in
ancient times by passing through Herat, along the north of
Persia, and through the Caucasus, and continued to follow that

4 The Defence of Herat in 1838 by

route until the incursion of the Mongols, and to some extent
even up to a later time. Even during our own century-nay,
until quite recently-Herat has been the emporium for tea and
indigo on the one hand, and American and English wares-such
as cotton fabrics, cloth, trinkets, etc.-on the other hand. I
myself have witnessed the unpacking and trading of the
various articles in the numerous caravanserais, and so exten-
sive had the trade between the north and south become, that
the villagers in the near vicinity of Herat earned, for the most
part, their livelihood by the business of transportation. At the
time I was there, there were in Kerukh alone eight wealthy
kervanbashis, who managed with their numerous camels the
transportation between Meshed, Bokhara, and Kamtahar. The
merchant from Lohan and Cabul most likely conveyed his own
caravans to Herat, but the merchants of Bokhara and Meshed
were compelled to employ the Herat forwarders; and Herat
has always served as a channel of communication between the
south, north, and west."
Such is the importance of Herat; and now let us recall one
of the most stirring stories of its modern history, the siege by
the Persians in 1837-1838.
It was at this period that serious uneasiness began to be felt
about the designs of Russia on our Indian possessions. Panics
on this matter have since been of frequent occurrence, and the
steady advances and conquests of the armies of the Czar in
Central Asia have given ground for serious alarm. But
after what has been said as to the wealth and resources of
the province of Herat, it may possibly be the object of
Russia to gain possession of so rich a territory, as a com-
pensation for the barren and costly conquests on the way
thither, without necessarily entertaining immediate designs
on India. But the position even then would appear one of
continual menace, and hence the desire to keep the Russians
out of Herat.
As it was difficult to obtain trustworthy information of
what was passing in these remote regions, the Indian

Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, R.A. 5

Government accepted the offer of a young artillery officer
of the Bombay army to make a journey of observation.
Eldred Pottinger was nephew of Colonel, afterwards Sir
Henry Pottinger, the British Resident in Scinde. It was a
duty of great peril for which the young officer volunteered,
for the whole country between India and Persia was full of
hostile and fanatical foes, among whom a Feringhee's life
would be of small account. But he was, in spite of his
youth, endued with great tact as well as courage, and was
also a good linguist. He started on his adventurous mission
in the disguise of a Cutch horse-dealer. With a small
retinue he made his way, by Dehra Ismael Khan, and by
Peshawur, through the Afghan passes to Cabul. Having
found it difficult to sustain his original disguise, he changed
it for that of a Mohammedan pilgrim, thinking he might
thus more safely pass through some of the lawless tribes,
especially the Hazareh, whose chief, Yakoob Beg, would have
no scruple in robbing or selling into slavery any trader such
as a horse-dealer.
Having sent forward the horses and attendant, Pottinger
left Cabul on foot one dark night, to begin his journey to
Herat. As might have been expected, the strangers attracted
the notice of Yakoob Khan's people, and they were imprisoned
in one of his fortresses. More than once, before falling into
the hands of Yakoob Beg, he had some narrow escapes. On
one occasion, a man who had travelled with Sir Alexander
Burnes, the English Envoy at Cabul, taxed Pottinger plainly
with being a Feringhee, and it was with the utmost difficulty
he silenced the suspicions of those around. In the Hazareh
prison he had greater difficulty in defending himself from
fanatical attacks. In the ordinary usages of the Moslem
religion he was sufficiently versed, but he had not taken into
account the variations which mark the rival sects of the Sheeahs
and Sunnees, the two great divisions of the disciples of the
Koran. In his unpublished journals, which were used by Sir
John William Kaye in his history of the Afghan wars, there

6 The Defence of Herat in 1838 by

is a graphic account of one of the scenes of peril connected
with his disguise as a holy personage. Experienced travellers,
like Burton or Vambery, who adopted similar disguises, could
not have shown more consummate tact and coolness than did
young Eldred Pottinger on this occasion.
The chief," he says, was the finest Hazareh I had seen,
and seemed a well-meaning, sensible man. He was, however,
quite in the hands of his cousin, an ill-favoured, sullen, and
treacherous-looking rascal. I, by way of covering my silence,
and to avoid much questioning, took to my beads, and kept
telling them with much perseverance; no doubt much to the
increase of my reputation as a holy personage. My companion,
Syud (holy) Ahmed, did the same, to cover his ignorance of
the Sheeah forms. This turned the conversation on religious
subjects, and I found these people knew more than we gave
them credit for; and though on abstruse points I could throw
dust in their eyes, yet on the subject of every-day duties I
was completely brought to a standstill by my ignorance of the
Sheeah faith, and feared lest I should, by mentioning Sunnee
rules, cause a discovery. Hussain did all he could, but he was
too distant to prompt me, and by several blunders, or rather
inappropriate attempts of his to support me, I was regularly
floored, and at last had to declare that I had not a proper
knowledge of these things. I had been till recently a soldier,
and had not studied, but would do so now.
The confusion I showed, and the ignorance of some of my
answers, roused the suspicion of the chief's cousin, who, on
one of the party asking if the Feringhees had not conquered
all Hindostan, said, 'Why, he may be a Feringhee himself.
I have always heard that the Hindostanees are black, and
this man is fairer than we are.' I felt my cheeks tingle,
and my presence of mind failing, especially as the whole
assembly here turned towards me.
I had, however, no time for observation, and found I must
say something for myself. Hussain had at once commenced
a vigorous denial, in which he was joined by the Cabul

Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, R.A. 7

merchant; yet the chief, a shrewd fellow, paid no attention
to them, and evidently appeared to think there was some truth
in it; and the multitude, ever prone for the wonderful, were
already talking of the Feringhee in no very complimentary
terms, scarcely one paying attention to my defenders.
I, therefore, addressing the chief, said that such inhospitality
had never been heard of; that here I had come as a pilgrim,
trusting to his aid; that I had chosen a barren, unfrequented
route, because it is well known that the Afghan people treat
pilgrims well; that in India there were Moguls, Pathans, and
all sorts of people from cold climates; that truly much of it
was hot, but that parts were cold to the north, and snow
always lay upon the mountains; and that if he asked my
friends, they would tell him I was a Kohistanee, and a true
The chief appeared to be satisfied with this, and turned
his attention to Syud Ahmed and the others, who were all
talking together at the top of their voices; and the multitude,
on finding me speak as others did, and that I had no mon-
strosity about me, as they doubtless fancied a Feringhee
should have, had gradually turned their attention to those who
made most noise; and I, having succeeded in satisfying the
demand for an answer, was glad to be silent.
My companions, however, carried their explanations too
far, and the accuser, besides being obliged to make an apology,
was taunted and badgered so much, that even a much less
rancorous man would have been irritated and vowed vengeance,
and seeing that my attempts to quiet them only added to his
anger, I was obliged to hold my peace.
It being now sunset, the chief got up, and said, I'll not
prevent you from saying your prayers; as soon as I have
finished mine I will return.'
We immediately broke up, and set to performing the
necessary ablutions, and then commenced prayers. I had
no taste for this mockery, and not considering it proper, never
having before attempted it, was rather afraid of observation.

8 The Defence of Herat in 1838 by

Fortunately, through the aid of Hussain, I got through
properly,-at least unremarked,-and then had recourse to
the beads again till the rest had finished. Syud Ahmed,
however, got into a scrape; the Cabulee detected him as a
Soonee, but he was pacified on Hussain acknowledging that
the other was but a new convert going to Meshed for in-
Eventually, the pilgrims were dismissed safely by Yakoob
Beg, after a parting present to him of a detonator gun.
Pottinger made his way towards the hills with a light heart,
and eager to put as great a distance as possible between
himself and the ill-favoured cousin of the chief. To his
dismay, he had not gone very far, when a body of men
overtook them, and ordered them to return.
The order was too peremptory to be disobeyed, and with
some anxiety the traveller was again led to the presence ot
the chief. Happily the affair ended in an amusing way. As
he drew near to Yakoob a loud shot was heard, followed by
a shout of triumph. It turned out that the chief could not
make the detonator go off at first, and feared he might have
been made the victim of a trick; but finding it worked
properly, he sent off Pottinger in peace; not, however,
without hearing a protest against the absurdity of being
summoned back because the gun would not go off.
Eight days had been passed in detention, and more than
twice as many in weary travel, when at length they entered
Herat. Near the very walls a narrow escape was made, the
party being seized by a gang of slave-dealers, and about to
be hurried away, when Syud Ahmed cleverly gave a false
alarm of relief at hand, and the captors, in a panic, took to
their heels.
The ruler ot Herat, Shah Kamran, was at the moment
absent; but on his return to the city Pottinger asked for an
interview, and for the customary present on an audience he
gave a brace of pistols, which were graciously received. He
introduced himself as a British officer, travelling from love of

Ir I i ,-
-- -.4",,

Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger, R.A. 9

adventure and in quest of knowledge, and he offered his
services to the Shah during his stay in his territory. He
soon learned that an attack by the Persians was expected, and
he at once threw all his energies into the preparations for
defence. The energy, the skill, the courage of the young
officer commanded boundless admiration, and every one in
the place knew the Englishman.
Before long the Persian army made its appearance, and the
siege began. The defences of Herat were of a very poor sort,
and it was soon obvious that it must fall into the hands of
the besiegers. The chief determined to send an embassy to
the Shah of Persia to make terms, and Pottinger was asked
to undertake the office. He accepted the task, and left in the
company only of Syud Ahmed and one attendant. Passing
through the Persian lines of investment, having waved a
turban as a signal of truce, they found that the troops had
no great ardour in the cause, and the officers, finding Pottinger
to be an Englishman, treated him with the utmost deference,
and even with enthusiasm, saying that the English were
always friends of the Shah-in-Shah (King of Kings).
This feeling towards England for generations was strong,
and men of the type of Malcolm and MacNeill maintained it.
There has been a lack of the high statesmanship of former
days if the Persians have now been accustomed to other
influences. At the time of Pottinger's interview with the
Shah, the Russians had begun their intrigues, and their
proposals had found favour with the young Shah then
recently come to the throne. He had Russian advisers at
his side, as well as in the camp at Herat. The answer sent
by Eldred Pottinger was immediate and unconditional sur-
Now was the young Englishman put upon his mettle. He
hastened back to Herat, and virtually took into his own hands
the defence of the town. His zeal inspired new courage into
the Heratees, and for five or six months they defended the
mud walls which chiefly formed the fortifications. At length,

o1 The Defence of Herat in 1838.

about midsummer of 1838, the Persians prepared for a
desperate assault, the walls being in many places crumbled
by the heavy artillery of the besiegers. The attack was made
at five different points, and the Persians advanced with
determined fierceness. The defenders showed equal determina-
tion, and it was a fearful struggle. At four of the five points
the attack was gradually beaten back, but at the fifth the
storming party was stronger, and made a lodgment within the
walls. The garrison showed signs of retiring, and the Vizier
of Herat, Yar Mohammed, who there conducted the defence,
became unnerved. Pottinger hastened to him, and urged him
to be firm, or all would be lost. Not satisfied with appeals,
Pottinger seized him by the arm, and almost dragged him
along towards the deadly breach, just as Gordon did in his
Chinese wars. The enthusiasm of the moment spread to the
disheartened soldiers, and making a desperate effort, under the
leadership of the Englishman (the Vizier in the rear knocking
down with his stick any one who showed signs of backward-
ness), the Persians were first checked, and then driven down
the slope. A panic ensuing, the position of attack was aban-
doned hastily, and Herat was saved.
The siege was not yet, however, ended. The Persians
remained before the place for more than two months longer,
and the Afghans were not strong enough to attempt to drive
them off. They contented themselves with repairing the
breaches and strengthening the defences. The besiegers
continued to bombard the place, but did not venture on
another assault. They sent emissaries to corrupt the garrison,
and upbraided Shah Kamran for employing an "infidel to
fight against the '' faithful." They even offered to withdraw,
if the Feringhee were delivered up to them. To the chief's
honour he despised these proposals, and Pottinger remained
after the siege was raised, though exposed to many perils and
great discomforts. He left Herat at the beginning of 1839.
He was received with much honour by the Governor-General
and other Indian authorities, and his mission was long re-

Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory. 11

membered with interest throughout the services, both civil
and military. He afterwards received the appointment of
Political Agent in Kohistan, the region north of Cabul, where
he had many other adventures. There have been many
stirring events in India since that time, but few of the later
deeds of heroism exceed in romantic interest the defence of
Herat by Lieutenant Eldred Pottinger.


THE heroic deeds and the tragic end of General Gordon in
the Soudan have caused his early exploits in China to be
too much forgotten. There are, however, few chapters in his-
tory more important and more interesting than that which
records the part taken by Gordon in suppressing the great
Tai-ping rebellion. In China his services will always be grate-
fully remembered, for it was mainly through him that the vast
empire was saved from relapsing into barbarian anarchy.
A few words will suffice to explain the circumstances under
which Gordon appeared as the champion of order and of civili-
zation in China.
In the summer of i860 Gordon went out to join the British
force then engaged along with the French in war with the
Chinese. In October the allies marched on Pekin, where
terms were imposed on the Imperial Government, and the
summer palace of the emperor, the celebrated Yuen-ming-Yuen
(Garden of Gardens), was pillaged and destroyed. An indemnity
for the war had to be paid, and till this was settled, the capital
and some of the seaport towns were occupied by the allies.
In the following year Gordon was stationed with other
engineer officers at Shanghai, and was engaged in making
military surveys of that part of the country. But a far more
formidable danger than foreign invasion at that time threatened

12 Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory.

the empire. This was the insurrection known as the Tai-ping
rebellion. The words Tai-ping" mean "great peace," a grim
burlesque of the classic phrase of Tacitus, Solitudinem faciunt,
pacem appellant," though the peace intended by the rebels had
reference to the mystical tenets at first held by the "heavenly
king" who raised the revolt.
For ten or twelve years before the conclusion of the Chinese
war with England and France, there had been raging this
armed insurrection, amounting almost to a civil war. At all
times there is discontent and disturbance in some part of the
vast empire; but the.leader of this new revolt proved to be a
more dangerous and permanent power for evil. Hung Sew-
tshen was a village schoolmaster near Canton, who had picked
up some crude notions of the new religion taught by the
Christian missionaries. Whether he had any belief in the
truth of the tenets which he proclaimed, or only used them in
support of his personal ambition, is not now very clear. At
first there was some tendency to look upon him as a helper
towards the overthrow of Chinese superstition, while others
regarded him as the representative of the Chinese nation, who
was to deliver the people from the tyrannous yoke of the
Tartar conquerors who had so long ruled the country. Having
proclaimed himself as "The Heavenly King," who was destined
to rule as sovereign, he selected from his relatives and friends
five chief Wangs," or military leaders, and with their aid
organised an army of irregular troops, with which he com-
menced his conquest of the empire. Wherever these hordes
moved, the country was desolated, and cities and villages
plundered and destroyed. The worst scoundrels of the empire
flocked to the standard of this lawless rebel chief.
Hung began his northward progress in 1851, and in less
than three years he was in possession of Nanking, the second
city of the empire, which he made his capital and his head-
quarters. Here he soon displayed his real character, living in
regal state, but with a grossness of profligacy and excess of
cruelty which can be accounted for only by regarding him as

Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory. 13

insane. It is probable that the success of his arms had really
turned his head, if at first he had any sincerity in professing
to be a public reformer. While he remained at Nanking his
generals spread themselves wherever they could find booty,
and the Imperial troops had the utmost difficulty in checking
their progress, for the native hordes of robbers and murderers
had been joined by numerous European and American ad-
venturers, eager to share the fortunes and the gains of the
rebel chiefs.
The story of this great rebellion can never be fully told
or made clearly intelligible to Western readers. It was as if
throughout several of the countries of Europe order was at an
end, and all authority overthrown; while lawless brigands and
the criminal classes in each place oppressed and plundered the
industrious and peaceable people. France during the Reign of
Terror, or Paris under the Commune, may afford some idea of
the state of affairs. Yet in the worst of European insurrections
and revolutions-at least, since the destruction of ancient
Rome by the barbarians-there has always survived some
show or form of authority, even when the powers of law and
of police have disappeared before armed violence. But in this
Chinese insurrection the lives and property of the people-of
the industrious and labouring classes, as well as of the wealthy
and learned classes-were at the mercy of armed rebels,
belonging to the same order as the vilest mobs in the towns.
Where the leaders of the revolt went, the crimes and mas-
sacres were publicly known; but in many other districts,
stripped of military protection and in the hands of the worst
rabble, were enacted scenes of untold horror. Famine and
pestilence finished the cruel work of war, and large tracts of
country once fertile and populous became regions of desolation
and death.
The Tai-ping leaders, after devastating other parts of the
empire, were now chiefly active in the north-east territory
-from Nanking on the north to Hangchow in the south,
a densely-peopled, fertile, rich region, through which runs

14 Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory.

the vast Yang-Tse river, near the mouth of which is
Shanghai, one of the treaty-ports, with many foreign
merchants and traders. Almost the entire province of
Kiang-soo, with a large part of Che-Kiang,-an enormous
stretch of country with vast tea and silk districts,-was in
the hands of the rebels. Soochow, the chief city of that part
of the empire, had been occupied by them since 186o.
In the spring of 1862 the rebels moved towards Shanghai,
which the allies still held till the indemnity for the war was
paid. Up till this time the Tai-pings had been looked upon
not exactly as allies, but as assisting in weakening the
Imperial power. But now the strange spectacle was seen of
the European allies, French and English, uniting with the
Chinese Imperial forces against the rebels. It was time to
take urgent measures in self-defence. The rebels had
devastated all the neighboring country, driving the peaceful
peasants into the city, and coming up to the very gates. An
irregular force had been organised at the expense of the
Shanghai merchants, commanded first by Ward, an American
seaman, who showed considerable skill and courage, and
operated successfully along with the Chinese regular troops in
driving back the rebels. Being killed in one of the encounters,
he was succeeded in the command by another American
adventurer, Burgevine, a man also of ability and daring, but
a drunken fellow, and on being detected in dishonest appro-
priation of funds he was dismissed. He then transferred
his services to the rebels.
At this juncture, Li-Hung-Chang, the Chinese Governor of
the Kiang province,-Governor Li, as he was then commonly
called,-asked Sir Charles Staveley, the chief of the British
force at Shanghai, to name an English officer to the vacant
command. He recommended Gordon, but had to refer to the
War Office for sanction. Gordon did not regret the delay,
for he.was engaged in an official survey of that district, which
he knew would be of immense service in subsequent military

Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory. 15

Meanwhile, Captain Holland, chief of Sir Charles
Staveley's staff, took the temporary command of the force,
which from its successes under Ward had already the sobriquet
of E.V.A., the Ever-Victorious Army." Being repulsed in
an attack on Tai-tsan with great loss, and an expedition
against Fushan under Major Brennan having also been
disastrous, the prestige of the Ever-Victorious Army had
been destroyed, and the rebels were elated with their
At this crisis permission came from England for Gordon-
now promoted to be major for his services in the Chinese war
-to assume the command. This was early in 1863, he
having just passed his thirtieth year. The force was then
about 3,000 strong, ill-armed, ill-disciplined, and inferior in
physique and spirit to the rebel troops. Gordon at once set
to work to drill and discipline the motley force. He arranged
that the rations and the pay should be regular. Previous to this
a lump sum, 1 5,000 or 20,000, had been given to the irre-
gular force for the capture of a city from the rebels, a precarious
reward for the risk run. Gordon abolished this mercenary
free-booting system. Picked men were enlisted from the rebel
prisoners, who were delighted to join the new service. The
non-commissioned officers, all natives, were selected from the
ranks. Many were men of doubtful character, and not a few
outlaws, but they soon learned to respect and obey a com-
mander in whose kindness and justice, energy and skill, they
found good cause to confide. So great was Gordon's personal
influence, that his body-guard was usually composed of those
who had fought most fiercely against him. The officers of the
force, about a hundred and fifty in all, were foreigners; and of
strangely diverse nationalities. Americans were perhaps most
numerous, with Englishmen, Germans, Frenchmen, Poles,
and men of half-a-dozen other European countries and
tongues. They had been heretofore unruly and insubordinate,
quarrelsome, and jealous of each other; but gradually all
disaffection ceased, and almost every man in the force looked

16 Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory.

up with pride and respect to their young English commander.
His personal staff was composed of a few officers of the
British army, who obtained permission to serve as volunteers
in his irregular force. Having stipulated that his command
was to be entirely independent of the Imperialist generals,
and this independence being guaranteed by the general-in-
chief of the Chinese army, Gordon took over the command
from Captain Holland March 25th, 1863.
Gordon lost no time in forming his plans and proceeding to
carry them into swift execution. The immediate danger was
the capture and sacking .of Shanghai, for which the rebels had
evidently been making preparation. Instead of losing time in
strengthening the defences, or resisting the approach of the
assailants, Gordon resolved to deal a sudden blow at some
distant point, and so restore confidence to his men, and perplex
the enemy. He acted on the principle, laid down by masters
in war, that a force inferior in strength or numbers should
take the initiative, and vigorously assume offensive tactics.
He suddenly appeared before Tai-tsan, which was taken by
storm, although a strongly fortified town, from which the irre-
gular force under Ward had previously been repulsed with
heavy loss. He then hastened to attack Quinsan, a place of
great strategical importance, through which ran the main trunk
road to Soochow. It was strongly fortified, and was the chief
military arsenal of the Tai-pings. It was here that he gained
the first great victory, some of the details of which we gather
from Gordon's own reports and journal, and from Wilson's
history of "the Ever-Victorious Army."
At Quinsan there was a large rebel force encamped within its
walls, which have a circumference of between four and five
miles. The surrounding moat or ditch was more than forty
yards wide. A high, isolated hill, within the walls, enabled
every movement in the neighbourhood to be seen.
Gordon's quick and scientific eye at once detected the weak
point of the position, and he made his plan of attack accord-
ingly. We quote from a manuscript journal of the General

Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory. 17

(published for the first time in the Leisure Hour for May 1885),
his account of the position. This journal is a brief, but clear
and soldierly statement of the leading events of his Chinese
campaigns. He says about Quinsan :-
"City very strong at East Gate. Every manoeuvre seen
from top of hill and telegraphed to chief. Determined to sur-
round city. We have already Chanzu at north belonging to us.
Rebels have only one road of retreat towards Soochow,
along wide canal, leading from West Gate Quinsan to East
Gate Soochow, twenty-four miles. Reconnoitre the country
on 30th May. Found that this road can be cut at Chunye,
eight miles from Quinsan, sixteen miles from Soochow, point
of junction and key to possession of Quinsan held by their
rebel stockades. Detour of twenty miles in rebel country
necessary to get at this point. Value of steamer.
3Ist May.-Start with 300 men (Rifles), thirty gunboats
(Chinese), and some field artillery on morning of 3Ist May.
Surprise rebels at Chunye. Take stockades with no loss. G.
(Gordon) leaves the 300 men at Chunye-the mass of the force
are at East Gate, Quinsan-and with Davidson, of (the steamer)
Hyson towards Soochow. Met by reinforcement. Open fire
upon them. They retreat. The steamer at slow speed follows
them up. Mass of rebels in only one road. Confusion; the
junction of other bodies of rebels with these. Dogged resist-
ance, although useless. Steamer pushes on, and comes on high
bridge at Ta-Edin. Steamer can go through with funnel
standing. Rebels evacuate very strong stone fort on approach
of steamer after a few shots. Steamer pursues. Takes Seaou-
Edin and Wai-quai-dong, and steams up close to Soochow.
Then returns to Chunye.
Ist June, 3 A.M.-Find the troops there in great alarm, as
they are being attacked by the garrison, 7,000, of Quinsan,
trying to escape. Great assistance of steamer and repulse of
attack. Garrison surrenders. Loss of rebels 4,000 to 5,000
killed, drowned, and murdered by villagers; 2,000 prisoners
taken; and I,500 boats captured. Our loss, two killed."

18 Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory.

This condensed statement in the journal may be supple-
mented by a few comments. The city was approachable on
all sides by deep water creeks, connected with the Grand
Canal, and with the large Yangsing Lake. The road to Soochow
runs on a causeway between deep creeks for a considerable
part of the distance, which was about twenty miles from
Quinsan. The village of Chunye is about eight miles from
Quinsan, and twelve from Soochow. The Tai-pings at Chunye
were taken by surprise, and completely confused by the unex-
pected mode of warfare which they had to encounter. The
Hyson steamer, to which Gordon refers in his journal, steamed
alongside the causeway road, and opened fire close upon
Chunye. We must give a little further description of the
steamer and the gunboats of the expedition.
The Hyson was a small iron paddle steamer, about ninety
feet long and twenty-four wide, drawing three to four feet of
water, and carrying one 32-pounder on a moving platform at
her bows, while at her stern there was a 12-pounder howitzer.
A loop-holed elm planking ran round the bulwarks, to the
height of six feet, and the steam-chests were protected by a
timber traverse. The Chinese on board were ten gunners,
twenty sailors, and four stokers or engine-men. Davidson, the
commander, was an American, who had served with Ward
and Burgevine, and had much experience in Chinese waters.
As Gordon says in his journal, Davidson, first-rate officer.
Knowledge of country very useful."
The Chinese gunboats were about forty feet long, ten feet
broad, and flat-bottomed, not drawing more than two feet of
water. Each had a crew of ten men, and they were propelled
by a sweep working over the stern. They each carried a
6- or 9-pounder Chinese gun in the bows. Occasionally they
did good service firing with grape, but they were chiefly used
for transport of troops and stores from point to point where
wanted. When the masts were lowered and flags taken down
they could creep quietly and unperceived along the creeks till
quite close to the rebel positions.

Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory. 19

With the steamer and gunboats Gordon suddenly appeared
at Chunye. Ching, an Imperialist general, was encamped
opposite the East Gate, and drew the attention of the rebels.
Gordon took about three hundred rifles, with field artillery,
in about fifty gunboats, the whole flotilla amounting to
about eighty boats. On the advance of this force the Tai-
pings took alarm, vacated the stockades, where they might
have offered stout resistance, and fled along the causeway,
some towards Quinsan, and the larger part towards Soochow.
The riflemen landed and followed up the former, and the
Iyson steamed after the latter larger force. One or two stone
forts on the causeway-road were abandoned on the first fire
from the steamer. At the strongest fort a shell happened to
go clean through one of the embrasures, and caused such alarm
that the defenders instantly fled. Having overtaken many
of the flying rebels, Captain Davidson took as large a number
of prisoners as his boat could carry. As night began to fall,
the glaring red-and-green eyes of the fiery dragon, as the
Hyson seemed to be to the terrified Tai-pings, vomiting forth
deadly shots and shells, threw the whole rebel force into a
panic. The boat's steam-whistle was made to blow fiercely,
which increased their fright, and no resistance was made.
The Hyson at length steamed back towards Chunye. Not
far from the town a dense mass was seen moving on the
causeway. It was the garrison of Quinsan, about eight
thousand strong, seeking to escape to Soochow under cover
of the darkness. Davidson blew his whistle with double
force, and let his shot and shell fly into the crowded hosts
on the road. The dark mass was seen to waver, and soon,
with terrible cries, broke up in confusion. Three ,or four
thousand men perished at this place, multitudes being drowned,
leaping into the water to escape the fire. Of those who
escaped to dry land beyond the creeks many were slain by
the peasants, who were glad of the opportunity of taking
vengeance on their oppressors. It was a night 'of terrible
scenes, such as sometimes occur in war. In this case our

20 Chinese Gordon's First Great Victory.

pity at the carnage is moderated by the knowledge that these
rebels were mostly fierce ruffians, and the example made of
them would lead the sooner to putting down the rebellion.
The Quinsan garrison was as a body annihilated, and on
Gordon entering the place with his three hundred men, he
found enormous stores of cannon and ammunition, an ordnance
manufactory being here established under the superintendence
of some Europeans, who probably perished with the Chinese
Gordon determined to make Quinsan his head-quarters,
especially as he saw that he could here exercise stricter dis-
cipline over his force than in a larger unfortified city.
It was now that one of the remarkable incidents in Gordon's
life occurred, which has often been quoted in illustration of his
ready self-reliance, and his severity when occasion required.
The troops disliked exceedingly the prospect of being kept
at Quinsan, instead of returning to their former quarters at
Sunkiang. The discontent increased to open mutiny. The
artillery threatened to blow the European officers to pieces
with the big guns, and the Chinese authorities of the town
with the small ones. A written proclamation to this effect
was sent to Gordon. He immediately ordered up the non-
commissioned (Chinese) officers, being convinced that they
were at the bottom of the affair, and asked why the men
would not fall in, and who wrote the proclamation. They
professed ignorance on both these points. He then said that
one out of every five of them should be shot, a threat received
by them with defiant murmurs and groans. Not losing an
instant, Gordon ordered a corporal, one of the most prominent
of the groaners, to be dragged out from the others and shot,
which was promptly done by two of the infantry at his side.
The non-commissioned officers seemed surprised and cowed
by this decisive promptness of action, and obeyed the com-
mander's order to retire, and to consider themselves under
arrest. As they moved off, he said that if the men did not
fall in, and if the name of the writer of the proclamation was

The Storming of Soochow. 21

not given to him within an hour, the sentence of every fifth
man being shot would be carried out. This energetic action
brought them to their senses, the men soon falling in, and the
writer's name being disclosed.
A large number of the troops after a few days deserted, and
Gordon thought it was a good riddance, as they were among
the worst of his troops. He selected eight hundred of the
rebel prisoners, who were astonished at the clemency of their
captor, and, being men of superior physique, they proved a
most useful reinforcement to the Ever-Victorious Army.


WHILE Gordon and his little force, aided by the steamer
Hyson, was capturing Quinsan, the Chinese General,
Ching, with his army, was still sitting in front of the East
Gate, firing occasionally with his big guns. He had maintained
that this was the right way to attack the fortified city, and he
no doubt thought, as the Prussian generals did as to some or
Napoleon's victories, that Gordon's dashing tactics were against
all the rules of war. If Ching had marched with his force on
Soochow, before the rebels recovered from the effects of their
defeat, the city of Soochow might then possibly have been
easily taken. But it was a very strongly-fortified place, and
Gordon thought that more formal operations against it would
now be required. He remained for some time at Quinsan
strengthening and disciplining his troops, and afterwards,
throughout the summer of 1863, undertook operations in
various places, fighting many battles, and capturing many
strongholds. It was not till late in the autumn that he set out
to attack Soochow, the strongest place still in the hands of the
rebels, and the principal city under the dominion of the
heavenly king, next to his capital, Nanking.
To take this strong city was a truly formidable task. The

22 The Storming of Soochow.

fortifications were very complete, and a number of outlying
strongholds prevented approach to the walls, and hindered
regular investment of the place. The garrison numbered at
least forty thousand, under the command of Mow or Moh
Wang, one of the ablest of the Tai-ping generals.
The Commander-in-Chief of the rebels, Chang Wang, a man
of great courage and high military skill, hastened from Nan-
king to direct the defence of Soochow, on hearing that the
Imperial armies and the foreign forces were moving on the
place. The rebels were in complete possession of the whole
district, and their armed hosts soon concentrated in the
neighbourhood of the city.
Gordon saw that the capture of Soochow would be a long
and tedious affair. It was necessary to take several of the
outlying towns, and thus to block up the exits from Soochow,
and prevent supplies entering. Most of the assaults on these
places were made by the Ever-Victorious Army, the Chinese
regular troops being left to hold them when taken, but doing
less of the fighting than was their share. At the beginning
of the siege, the renegade Burgevine and a large number of
Europeans aided the rebels, but most of them surrendered to
Gordon, knowing that he would spare their lives, while cruel
torture would befall them if they fell into the hands of the
Chinese Imperial generals.
One who witnessed Gordon's operations in China, says,
" By his activity and genius the three thousand men composing
his force seemed multiplied tenfold; and those who, in China,
followed the daily accounts of his movements, were astounded
at the rapidity with which, in a difficult country, under a
scorching sun, and with every obstacle that absence of com-
missariat could throw in his way, he circled from east to west,
from north to south. At Soochow, the capture of which was
the decisive event of the war, he was seen suddenly swooping
down upon a line of external fortifications, now falling upon
and routing a relieving army of enormous numbers brought
up to attack him in rear, and at another time forcing his

The Storming of Soochow. 23

steamers through all impediments under the very walls of the
city, and seizing a position, which, if properly defended, might
have withstood an army with success."
In one of the engagements, at Leeku, a strong rebel position
five miles to the north of Soochow, a singular incident occurred.
This place was taken by storm on the Ist November, 1863.
One of Gordon's officers, Captain Perry, one of the adventurers
in the force, had been in treacherous communication with the
rebels. A letter from him, in his own handwriting, to a
Tai-ping sympathizer in Shanghai, had been found in the camp,
and brought to Gordon. On being shown the letter Perry at
once confessed, but said that he did not think the matter of
importance, having written what he did only as a piece of
gossip, that might interest people at Shanghai. The fact was,
that it gave information as to the intended movements of the
force. He deserved to be shot, but Gordon, on hearing his excuse,
said, "Very good, Perry; I shall pass over your fault this time,
on condition that, in order to show your loyalty, you under-
take to lead the next forlorn hope." This was at the storming
of Leeku. Perry was told off to lead the assault, but Gordon
went along with him. They were on the edge of the ditch in
front of the stockades, when a ball struck Perry in the mouth,
and he expired, supported in Gordon's arms.
This was one of innumerable occasions when Gordon was
in positions of eminent danger. In the subsequent assaults on
Soochow at various points he led the attack. He carried no
weapons, not even a sword, only a small cane with which he
pointed the way; and he escaped so often being hit, that his
men always spoke of this cane as Gordon's "magic wand of
victory." It seemed as if he had what is called a charmed
life, but later in the war, at the storming of Kintang, he was
shot through the leg. One of the men cried out that the
general was hit; but Gordon bade him be silent, and stood
giving orders till he fainted from loss of blood, and was carried
to the rear. The assailants were then repulsed, but the place
was afterwards -captured. Gordon was on the move before

24 The Storming of Soochow.

his wound was properly healed, and while yet suffering from
fever and weakness. The indomitable spirit of the man
carried him through this as through many other troubles. But
we must return to Soochow.
All the rebel positions in the neighbourhood being taken,
and the relieving forces beaten back and dispersed, Gordon
advanced, on the 2 st November, to the walls of Soochow,
where his siege artillery awaited him. Gordon determined to
begin the attack on the north-east angle of the wall of the city.
It was necessary to capture first the inner line of the outside
defences, a strong stockade about half a mile in advance of the
East Gate. The plan was formed to surprise this position by
a night attack. White turbans were served out to his troops
in order that they might distinguish each other in the dark.
Everything seemed quiet, and the Tai-pings gave no sign of
being aware of the advance. The general, Moh Wang, was,
however, quite on the alert, having probably obtained informa-
tion of the design. Suddenly a tremendous fire of grape and
musketry was opened on the advancing force, as they were
pushing on to the breastwork, headed by Gordon. The
Chinese troops, notwithstanding the efforts of the European
officers, began to waver, and Gordon was obliged to retire,
after suffering severe loss. This was on the night of the
27th November. On the morning of the 29th the attack was
renewed, after a heavy fire from the siege guns and mortars
had been for some time directed against the stockades. The
assault was then made, and a most difficult task it was, broad
ditches having to be swum across, and the breastworks,
bristling with bamboo stakes and iron spikes, having to be
mounted. During this attack Gordon found himself cut off,
along with a few men, from the body of his force; and being
unable to fall back, deemed it safest to push desperately
forward. Pushing past the stockades, he came to the nearest
stone fort, which was seized and held while the remainder of
the assailants were fighting their way forward. The rebels
then gave way, and the position was taken.

The Storming of Soochow. 25

In this day's fighting, as well as in the previous night attack,
the loss was very heavy, a large number of the officers and
men of the force being killed. The following General Order
was issued by Gordon, dated November 3oth, 1863 :-
"The Commanding Officer congratulates the officers and
men of the force on their gallant conduct of yesterday. The
tenacity of the enemy, and the great strength of their position,
have, unfortunately, caused many casualties, and the loss of
many valuable officers and men. The enemy has, however,
now felt our strength; and although fully prepared, and ani-
mated with the presence of their most popular chief, have been
driven out of a position which passes in strength any yet taken
from them. The loss of the whole of the stockades on the east
side of the city, up to the walls, has already had its effect, and
dissension is now rife in the garrison, who, hemmed in on all
sides, are already, in fact, negotiating defection.
The Commanding Officer feels most deeply for the heavy
loss, but is convinced that the same will not be experienced
again. The possession of the position of yesterday renders the
occupation of the city untenable."
The dissensions and negotiations referred to in this General
Order were, in fact, proceeding. A council of war being held
by the rebel chiefs, it was found that the great majority wished
to surrender, Moh Wang alone being for resistance to the last
extremity. A message from Gordon had been conveyed to
some of the chiefs that their lives would be spared if they came
speedily to terms. As Moh Wang still held out, his com-
panions made away with him, and the gates were opened to
the besiegers. Gordon withdrew his force that they might not
be demoralised by the sack of the city. The Chinese Impe-
rialists took possession, and in the first heat of their triumph
great excesses- were committed, and the surrendered rebel
chiefs were massacred.
It was not till two days after that Gordon in his camp heard
of this. The assassination of these men, after he had promised
to save their lives, stirred in him hot indignation. Returning

26 The Storming of Soochow.

to the city alone, and exposed to great personal peril, to ascer-
tain the real facts of the case, he learned that Li Hung Chang
had ordered their execution. His anger knew no bounds. He
sought to find Li, pistol in hand, and would certainly have
killed him, if he had not been kept several days in conceal-
ment. Gordon was so vexed at the dishonour put upon the
word of an English officer that he threw up his command,
returned to Shanghai, and declared he would no longer serve
with the Chinese.
That the execution of the rebel Wangs or chiefs at Soochow
was a breach of faith there is no doubt; but some explanation
was afterwards given which extenuated the guilt of Li, and his
action was not held to be very culpable in the eyes of the
Chinese. Gordon himself admitted that Li did not clearly
understand the promise of pardon or surrender. He forgave
the deed; but the story of that exciting incident, when he gave
chase to the Chinese governor in order to execute summary
justice on him, spread far and wide, and will long be remem-
bered in Chinese history as a memorable lesson of truth and
It is pleasant to know that Gordon's wrath did not lessen
the high opinion Li had of him, and the regard was reci-
procated. Long afterwards, when Governor of the Soudan,
Gordon wrote from Khartoum to his old comrade in arms.
The letter was dated October 27th, 1878, and in replying, on
March 22nd, 1879, Li-Hung said : "I am right glad to hear
from you. It is now fourteen years since we parted from each
other. Although I have not written to you, I often speak of
you, and remember you with very great interest. The benefit
you have conferred on China does not disappear with your
person, but is felt throughout the regions in which you played
so important and active a part. All these people bless you
for the blessings of peace and prosperity which they now
enjoy. Your achievements in Egypt are well known through-
out the civilised world. I see often in the papers of your
noble works on the Upper Nile. You are a man of ample

7he Storming of Soochow. 27

resources, with which you suit yourself to any kind of
emergency. My hope is that you may long be spared to
improve the condition of the people among whom your lot
is cast. I am striving hard to advance my people to a higher
state of development, and to unite both this and all other
nations within the Four Seas under one common brother-
So we see how Gordon left in China not only the reputation
of a great name, but the influence of a good example.
When Gordon revisited China in 1881, being invited to
arbitrate in a threatened war with Russia, he went to Tientsin
to meet Li-Hung, who was overjoyed to see his old comrade.
And when the news came of the tragedy at Khartoum, no
heart grieved more truly than that of Li-Hung, now one of
the chief members of the great Council of the Empire. He
sent a warm message of condolence, and a handsome donation
towards the Gordon Memorial Fund.
After Gordon resigned his command, on account of this
Soochow affair, his absence was soon felt, both in the
increased activity of the Tai-pings, and in the feebleness of
the operations of the Imperial armies. At the earnest entreaty
of the Government he resumed his command, and held it, till
in the following year the great rebellion was almost entirely
Colonel Chesney, a competent judge of military genius and
skill, in his Essays on Modern Military Biography," gives a
chapter to Colonel Gordon and the Tai-ping rebellion. After
narrating the leading incidents of the campaigns, and the
services of Gordon in "saving the Chinese Empire," the
memoir thus concludes: "So parted the Ever-Victorious
Army from its general, and its brief but useful existence
came to an end. During sixteen months' campaigning under
his guidance it had taken four cities and a dozen minor strong
places, fought innumerable combats, put hors de combat
numbers of the enemy moderately estimated at fifteen times
its own, and finding the rebellion vigorous, aggressive, and

28 The Storming of Soochow.

almost threatening the unity of the Chinese Empire, had left
it at its last gasp, confined to the ruined capital of the usurper.
Leaving his late command well satisfied, Gordon himself
sailed for England, taking with him no more substantial
treasure than the highest military title of China Ti-tu (equiva-
lent to commander-in-chief, or our field-marshal), the rare
Imperial decoration of the Yellow Jacket, and the goodwill
and respect of all with whom he had to do. 'Not only,'
wrote Prince Kung, the Chinese Prime Minister, to Sir
Frederick Bruce, 'not only has he shown himself throughout
brave and energetic, but his thorough appreciation of that
important question, a friendly understanding between China
and foreign nations, is worthy of all praise.'"
The Chinese "orders" referred to were high distinctions
for a foreigner, especially that of the Yellow Jacket, which is
confined to a small and select number of the chief mandarins,
and as much coveted as our Order of the Garter.
"I do not care twopence about these things," wrote Gordon
to his mother, "but I know that you and my father like
them." A gold medal was sent as a special gift from the
Chinese Empress-mother. Large sums of money were
offered, which Gordon refused to take, and when pressed to
receive .1o,ooo he divided it among his troops. He was
allowed the most liberal means for rewarding the officers
wounded in the service; and the whole of the force which he
was engaged in disbanding received more than the pay due
to them, and allowances for enabling them to reach their
homes. His own pay he had always spent in supplying
comforts for his troops, or relieving the distress of the people
around him. Hence he could say truly, "I leave China as
poor as I entered it."
The gold medal had a curious destiny. When he was in
command at Gravesend, where his philanthropic and beneficent
life and works are well known, his pay was always laid out for
others, and his pocket was often empty. It was on one of these
occasions he heard of Canon Miller's appeal for a Hospital

GENERAL GORDON. [jfage 29.
Coiled, by permission, from a thotograhk taken by Messrs. Adams & Scanlan, Southanimton.

The First Sight of the Pacifc. 29

Sunday collection. The idea struck him as excellent; but at
the moment he had nothing to give. He took the Chinese
gold medal which he had received from the Empress, effaced
the inscription, and sent it anonymously to Canon Miller, the
Vicar of Greenwich, who got ten guineas for it. Only by
accident long after was the donor known. This is only one
of a thousand anecdotes which could be told of his generous


THE first sight of the Pacific Ocean is a theme that has
inspired not only the historian, but the artist and the
poet. It is certainly a grand object for the imagination; for
next to the discovery of the New World itself was the discovery
of the vast new world of waters beyond the land of the west.
The poet Keats is wrong, however, in referring to Cortes, .the
conqueror of Mexico, as the first European whose eye gazed
on this ocean. It is in his fine sonnet, on first looking into
Chapman's "Homer," that he compares the delight with which
he described new realms of thought, to that of the astronomer
on discovering a new planet, or the first enthusiasm of an
explorer :-
"Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez-when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific, and all the men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise-
Silent upon a peak of Darien."
It may be that the name of Cortez was used for the exigencies
of metre, but whether it was so, or from the poet not knowing
the true history, it is the fact that the discoverer of the Pacific
was not Hernan or Fernando Cortez, but Vasco Nufiez de
Balboa. The story of his life is worth telling, both in con.

30 The First Sight of the Pacific.

nection with this great discovery, and as one of the bold
Spanish adventurers of those times.
Balboa was distinguished among his countrymen at a period
when every adventurer was conspicuous for daring and courage.
The chief Spanish settlement in the New World was then the
Island of Hispaniola, since known to geography as Hayti, or
St. Domingo. Don Diego Columbus, son of the great admiral
and explorer, was viceroy and governor-general. From His-
paniola went forth brave leaders of expeditions to other islands
and to the mainland, and one of these was Balboa, who founded
a colony on the Atlantic coast of the Isthmus of Darien, named
by him Santa Maria. Of this place he was chosen governor by
the voice of his comrades, but thought it prudent to send one
of his officers to Spain, in order to obtain from King Ferdinand
a legal title to the supreme command. Knowing that such
appointments were usually given through interest or intrigue
at court, he sought to increase his chance of success by the
report of signal services. With this idea he made frequent
expeditions from his head-quarters at Santa Maria, and extorted
from several of the native chiefs or caziques tributes of gold,
which appeared to abound more among them than in the
islands hitherto occupied by the Spaniards.
On one of these occasions the men contended with such
eagerness about the distribution of the gold, that they seemed
about to proceed from words to blows. The Indian cazique
looked upon the scene with wonder and contempt. Knocking
the gold out of the balance round which the Spaniards were
disputing, he said to them in a voice of indignation, "Why do
you quarrel about such a trifle ? I can take you to a place
where this metal which you so greatly admire and contend
for, is so common that the meanest vessels are formed of it."
These words were heard with surprise and excitement.
"Where is this place," many voices asked, "and how can we
reach it ? He told them, through the interpreters, that after
travelling for six suns they would behold another sea, on which
this land of abundant gold was situated. He told them, how-

The First Sight of the Pacific. 31

ever, that it was a powerful country, and that they must go
with more men than were now present.
This was the first information received of the great southern
sea, afterwards known as the Pacific Ocean, and of the rich
region afterwards known by the name of Peru. The name of
the Pacific was first given by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, in
his celebrated voyage round the globe. Balboa's information
was received in 1512. The tidings kindled the brightest fire
of his imagination, and inspired him with loftiest ambition.
This sea, he thought, must be that for which Columbus
searched in vain, as the way to Cipango and the Indies. On
its shores must be the land of gold and all riches.
From that moment he resolved to accomplish a discovery,
which would not only bring to himself wealth and honour, but
would be of inestimable value to his king and his country. All
his former exploits, and all the discoveries made by others
hitherto in the New World, would be as nothing compared
with this enterprise. He hastened back to Santa Maria to
make the preparations and arrangements requisite for success.
Having secured the friendship of the neighboring caziques
and people, he despatched some of his officers to Hispaniola
with a large quantity of gold, partly to gain the approval of the
governor, and partly to lure volunteers for the undertaking.
This show of wealth gave evidence of his past success, and
raised hopes for the future. The result was that he soon
found himself at the head of a force which he thought strong
enough for the daring venture. Yet they numbered in all less
than two hundred, including the new volunteers from His-
paniola. About a thousand of the Indians were hired to
accompany the little army as carriers and attendants.
It was on the Ist of September, 1514, that Balboa set out on
his adventurous expedition. He soon found that he had far
more than "six suns or six days' journey before him. The
isthmus is not more than sixty miles across at the part where
he crossed, but it was a region of swamps and rivers, rugged
mountains and dense forests. Their Indian guides could show

32 The First Sight of the Pacific.

the way, but could do nothing to lessen its perils and difficulties.
Hostile tribes attacked them in some of the forests and passes,
and although they were easily vanquished, it was not without
the loss of several of the Spaniards. A larger number perished
from the fever and other diseases produced by fatigue and
exposure in that deadly climate. Twenty-five days had now
passed, and there prevailed a feeling of gloom and depression.
No one, however, had harboured a thought of doubt or dis-
belief as to the object of their expedition, or had uttered a
word of complaint or of desire to return. Balboa consulted
the guides, who assured him that on reaching the summit of
the next mountain range they would see the ocean. This gave
new hope and strength to the weary men, and they pressed
onward and upward. When they had ascended nearly to the
crest of the ridge Balboa ordered all to halt, and advanced
alone toward the summit, that he might be the first to enjoy
the sight of what had stirred his desire and his ambition.
When he reached the top, and saw the mighty expanse of
waters, he fell on his knees, and raised his hands to Heaven,
in the attitude of wonder and of thanksgiving. His followers
rushed forward in tumultuous and joyful haste, and many
joined their chief in hearty utterances of thanks and gratitude
to God for having thus far brought them in safety, and pros-
pered their undertaking.
The descent to the shore did not take a long time, and
Balboa advancing up to the middle in the waves, with shield
in hand, and sword raised, took possession of that sea, in the
name of the king his master, and vowed to defend it with these
arms against all enemies.
The part of the Pacific Ocean which Balboa first discovered
still retains the name of the Gulf of St. Michael, which he gave
to it. It is upon the east of Panama. The coasts were found
to be inhabited, and Balboa obtained from the chiefs supplies
for his expedition, and presents of gold and of pearls. The
latter gifts showed that another source of wealth lay in the
waters which were now discovered. The previous reports of

The First Sight of the Pacific. 33

a rich and wealthy kingdom to the south-east were confirmed
by the people on the coast. In their accounts of this kingdom
they described the inhabitants as possessing tame animals,
which they used as beasts of burden. Trying to draw upon
the sand the figure of these animals, the llamas of Peru, the
Spaniards took the representation to be camels of some kind,
and this, along with the discovery of pearls, strengthened their
belief that they were about to reach the East Indies, both being
associated in their minds with those lands of fabulous wealth.
Although impatient to push on to this mysterious kingdom,
Balboa felt how imprudent it would be to make the attempt
with his present force, now reduced by death and sickness.
He resolved to return to Santa Maria, with the intention of
leading an expedition in the ensuing spring, more fitted for
so arduous an enterprise. To get better acquainted with the
isthmus, he led his men back by a different route, which was
found less difficult and dangerous. He arrived at Santa Maria
towards the close of 1514, having been absent about four
months. Among his officers was Francisco Pizarro, who
turned to good account his experience in this expedition, and
who was destined in after years to play so conspicuous a part
in the history of the New World as conqueror of Peru.
Balboa's first care was to send tidings to Spain of the dis-
covery he had made, and to ask reinforcements sufficient for
the conquest of the kingdom of which he had heard. He said
that with a thousand men he could secure these new posses-
sions to the Spanish crown. Ferdinand had evil counsellors at
his side, and was ungenerous enough to neglect the claims
of Balboa to be the leader of this new venture. A Castilian
courtier, Pedraris Davila, was nominated Governor of Darien,
and was sent out with a fleet of fifteen ships, well equipped
and manned, having on board not fewer than fifteen hundred
soldiers. A large proportion of these were men of good family,
allured by the love of adventure, as well as the lust of gain.
We can imagine the vexation and the indignation of Balboa
pn the arrival of this expedition, and on learning that a new

34 The First Sight of the Pacific.

governor was sent to supersede him, after all his exertions and
services. It is recorded that when Pedraris sent some of his
officers ashore to announce his arrival, and to show the royal
commission, they found Balboa, not in wealth and pomp, as
they expected from his renown, but clad in rough raiment,
engaged, along with his Indian servants, in thatching his hut
with reeds. He had presence of mind to receive the an-
nouncement with submission, and to treat the messengers with
dignified courtesy. On the landing of Pedraris, the new
governor was received with the honour due to his office. It
was more difficult for Balboa to restrain the indignation of his
people. They murmured at the arrival of a host of new-
comers, who were to reap that for which they had toiled and
suffered. This feeling grew more violent when the governor
announced that a court was to be held, for a judicial inquiry
into Balboa's conduct, as having acted without due authority
from the viceroy at Hispaniola. For the alleged irregularity a
fine was imposed by the court. If any personal injury had
been attempted, the followers of Balboa would doubtless have
used force in protecting their honoured leader.
There were now nearly five hundred men in the settlement
before the arrival of Pedraris, adventurers having joined from
various quarters after the tidings had spread of the Darien
expedition. Balboa restrained their zeal, although himself
smarting under the insult and injustice to which he had been
exposed. A worse retribution came upon the new governor.
He had landed in the worst period of the year, in the middle
of the hot and rainy season. Many of the new-comers fell
victims to the pestilential climate, which little affected the
acclimatized settlers. Some hundreds of Pedraris' men
perished, and many more were disabled by sickness. The
remainder became disorderly and desperate, and in their haste
to become rich, so as to leave the land of disappointment, they
began to plunder and oppress the Indian caciques and people.
Balboa saw with anxiety the imprudent proceedings, and sent
messengers to Spain to tell how the colony was being ruined.

The First Sight of the Pacific. 35

In vain were his remonstrances to the governor, who retorted
by accusing Balboa of having given exaggerated reports of the
wealth and prosperity of the colony. The letters of sadness
and disappointment sent from the new settlers to their friends
confirmed the protests of Balboa.
Ferdinand could no longer be kept from seeing the true con-
dition of affairs. If not feeling the injustice, he at least saw the
impolicy of having superseded the founder of the colony. He
did not recall Pedraris, but he resolved to give to Balboa a sepa-
rate command. He appointed him lieutenant-governor of the
countries on the South Sea, of which he had been discoverer.
At the same time he enjoined Pedraris to render every sup-
port and assistance to Balboa in regard to the new government.
Pedraris, being rich and haughty, while his rival, whom he re-
garded with dislike and jealousy, was poor and subordinate, at
first was disposed to neglect the royal orders. A conciliator
and peace-maker appeared in the person of the Bishop of
Darien, who saw what evils were being caused, and probably
also foresaw what advantages were being imperilled by the
continuance of this enmity. By his interposition the friendship
was restored, and Pedraris even consented to the marriage of
Balboa to his daughter.
It is sometimes said that a woman will be found to be at the
bottom of most mischief, but it is more often true that a
woman is the beginning of what is peaceful and good. We
have little doubt that in this case the lovers sought the good
offices of the bishop to smooth the path of their courtship and
union. For a time at least Pedraris allowed Balboa to have
his way, and he used his time well in preparing for the great
expedition to the kingdom of gold and pearls. He attracted
to his standard three hundred picked men, a larger number
than Pizarro afterwards led on the same expedition. It
seemed for a time to augur well, when Pedraris, whose
reconciliation had never been sincere or cordial, summoned
Balboa to a conference. He no sooner came into the governor's
house than he was put under arrest. On asking the meaning

36 The Conquest of Mexico

of proceedings so strange and unexpected, he was accused of
disloyalty to the king, and of conspiring against the governor.
Judges were already appointed to try him on these charges.
It can only have been by help of false witnesses that he was
found guilty, and when the sentence of death, due to treason,
was pronounced, the judges themselves and the chief people in
the colony interceded for his pardon. How the soldiers per-
mitted the affair to proceed may surprise us, but they doubtless
had a vague fear of the royal vengeance, which the governor
could bring for the punishment of any insubordination.
Pedraris proved relentless, and the Spaniards beheld with
surprise and sorrow the public execution of their beloved
Balboa. The tidings of proceedings so unjust and violent, the
result of personal jealousy and hatred, could not fail to be
carried to Spain. But Pedraris was screened from censure
by the powerful protection of the Bishop of Bugos and other
great officials and courtiers. The expedition planned by
Balboa was for the time abandoned. Pedraris soon after
obtained leave to move the seat of his government to Panama,
on the opposite side of the isthmus. From this new settlement
went forth the expeditions which in future years spread the
dominion of Spain on the shores of the Southern Ocean.


CUBA and Hispaniola were the first Spanish settlements in
the New World. From these islands several expeditions
had set out to explore. Vasco Nunez de Balboa had landed
at Darien, and had there met with a civilization superior to
anything that had been seen upon the islands. The western
point of Cuba approaches so nearly to Yucatan, that this
portion of the mainland was soon visited; this was done by
Hernandez, of Cordova, in 1517. The following year, Velasquezx

by Hernando Cortez. 37

the governor of Cuba, despatched a fleet under the command
of Grijalva, which, after sighting Cozumel, entered the river
of Tabasco that falls into the Gulf of Mexico. On this occasion,
the name of New Spain was first applied to the surrounding
country. Grijalva was severely blamed on his return for
having made no settlement in the new territory. Before his
arrival, Velasquez had fitted out a larger armament with a
view to prosecute further researches, and over this he placed
Hernando Cortez, the future conqueror of Mexico, one of the
young adventurers of those times, born at Medellin, in Estre-
madura, A.D. 1485, of a poor but noble family.
On the 18th November, 1518, the fleet set sail. The
banner of Cortez waved in the breeze, displaying a coloured
cross on a black ground, and around the border were the
words in Latin, Let us follow the cross, and we shall conquer."
The armament was composed of six vessels, containing five
hundred and fifty Spaniards, about three hundred Indians, and
a few negroes, twelve or fifteen horses, and ten guns. Their
leader was now in the vigour of manhood, and it may be well
to give some sketch of his character at the outset of his career.
He was in many respects the model of a Spanish hero.
Bold and courageous almost to rashness, his fine person well
set off by his handsome dress and manly bearing, full of zeal
and high expectation, and well acquainted with all those arts
that win over and captivate the hearts of followers, no man
could have been more likely to bring his undertaking to a
successful issue. But in its truest and highest sense there was
but little nobility in his aim and purpose. To amass wealth
and fame is not a noble object; and thirst for gold was
probably the prevailing passion in his own breast, as well
as in those of his companions.
As the fleet coasted along Cuba, Cortez carried off provisions
from the king's stores at Macaca, and plundered a vessel that
came in his way. On his arrival at Trinidad, he found an
order from Velasquez to supersede him in his command. But
it was now too late. Cortez had gained the affections of his

38 The Conquest of Mexico

little army, and refused to give up his office. He sent to
Velasquez a letter of fair words, complaining of his unjust
suspicions, and promising devotion to his interests; but he
added that, on the next morning, February ioth, 1519, he
should sail for Cozumel. Success alone could now justify his
daring disobedience.
A terrible storm fell upon the fleet, and the ship of Cortez,
which stayed to convoy a disabled vessel, was the last to reach
Cozumel. The natives, who had gladly welcomed Grijalva,
now fled to the interior of the island; for before Cortez arrived
one of the captains had plundered their temples and terrified
the simple inhabitants.
Having secured a good store of provisions, Cortez, early in
March, resumed his voyage; but one of the ships sprung a
leak, and they were compelled to return to Cozumel. Soon
after, a canoe, ferried by several Indians, arrived from the
opposite shores of Yucatan, and one of the men asked, in
broken Castilian, whether he was among Christians. This
man was Geronimo de Aguilar, who had been one of a body
sent from Darien to Spain some eight years before, but had
been wrecked on the shores of Yucatan. He had been kindly
treated by the cacique or chieftain into whose hands he had
fallen, but was overwhelmed with joy at meeting with his
fellow-countrymen. It would be difficult to exaggerate' he
advantages which Cortez derived from his discovery. His
long residence among the people had made him familiar with
their language, and he acted as interpreter during the expedi-
Leaving Cozumel, and passing by the coast of Yucatan, the
little armament entered the mouth of the Rio de Tabasco or
Grijalva. The shore was lined with dense woods and deep
groves of mangrove trees, and among these the Indians might
be discovered prepared to oppose their landing. A short
struggle ensued, but the superior strength of the Spaniards
prevailed, and they established themselves upon the land.
This first engagement was followed by a more severe conflict.


by Hernando Cortez. 39

The Tabascans were assembled in great numbers. "When
we let off the guns," says an eyewitness, the Indians uttered
loud cries and whistling sounds, and threw dust and straw
into the air that we should not see the damage we were doing
them." But all their tactics were of no avail. The Spanish
cavalry had been sent round to attack them in the rear, and
when they rode into the battle the Tabascans, who had never
before seen mounted warriors, were panic-stricken, and fled.
The defeat of the Tabascans was followed by the submission
of the whole people; their principal caciques came to Cortez
with various offerings of peace, and, among the rest, twenty
female slaves. One of these, afterwards named Donna Marina,
was of essential service to her new master. Her knowledge
of the Mexican language proved invaluable to Cortez, whilst
her fidelity to him was worthy of a more sacred relation.
At Tabasca, the feast of Palm Sunday was kept with a
solemn procession to the temple. The image of the idol was
taken down, and that of the Virgin Mary, with the infant
Saviour, installed in its place. Mass was celebrated, and the
soldiers joined in singing the chant; then, with the palm
branches in their hands, they marched on board their ships,
and sailed for the golden shores of Mexico. On the Thursday
following they cast anchor at the Island of San Juan de Ulua,
that faces the port of Vera Cruz.
Scarcely had the ships come to their moorings, when two
canoes started from the mainland, and made direct for the
admiral's vessel. A friendly intercourse was established,
Donna Marina acting as interpreter, and such trifles as the
Spaniards had brought with them for barter were exchanged
for the gold trinkets and ornaments of the natives. Cortez
having ascertained that their country produced gold in abun-
dance, landed his forces and artillery the following day-it
was Good Friday, April 21st, 1519. The simple people aided
him in these labours, and brought mats and cotton awnings to
protect the new-comers against the scorching rays of the sun.
Two days afterwards, Teuhtlile, the governor of the district,

40 The Conquest of Mexico

arrived at the tent of Cortez, to inquire, in the name of Monte-
zuma, the Mexican emperor, why the Spaniards had visited
these shores. Cortez received him with all the pomp he could
assume; and informed him that he had been sent by the
Emperor Charles, to hold. communication with the Aztec
sovereign, and demanded to be admitted to his presence. This
request was received with evident astonishment and dis-
pleasure. "You have been but two days in the country,"
said Teuhtlile, "and you expect to see the emperor!" As
Cortez, however, insisted on this point, the governor promised
to communicate with his master. The presents were then
brought in which had been sent by the Mexican court; they
comprised fine cottons, mantles made of curiously-wrought
feather-work, and a wicker basket full of golden ornaments.
The cupidity of the Spaniards was awakened at the sight of
these treasures. When Teuhtlile requested that a shining
helmet, worn by one of the soldiers, might be sent to the
emperor, because it was like that on the idol of Quetzalcoatl,
in Mexico, Cortez assented, on condition that it was returned
filled with gold dust. When he gave as a reason for this re-
quest that he wanted to compare the gold of Mexico with that
of his own country, and further added, that the Spaniards
suffered from a heart complaint, for which gold was a cure,
we may imagine that the native ambassador saw through
his excuses, and recognized the greed by which they were
During these negotiations, the Spaniards observed that a
Mexican was making a picture of the new-comers to be sent
to Montezuma. Cortez was alive to the impression which
would be produced by this representation on the emperor's
mind. He accordingly ordered a review of his forces upon
the beach. The Mexicans were unacquainted with the use of
horses, and were filled with astonishment at the charge of
cavalry; but when the artillery was discharged, the flash, the
thunder, and the crash of the balls through the branches, well-
nigh overwhelmed them with consternation. The effect would

by Hernando Cortez. 41

be by no means weakened in its transmission to the court, and
Cortez was persuaded of this as the embassy withdrew to
wait for further instructions from their master.
The reply of Montezuma was unfavourable to the demand
of Cortez. He refused to admit the Spaniards to his presence,
but this denial was softened by the rich presents which his
ambassadors bore. These comprised armour embossed and
plated with gold, collars and other ornaments of the same
metal, and adorned with pearls and precious stones, robes
wrought in beautiful feather-work, waggon-loads of fine linens,
models cast in gold and silver of birds and beasts, of exquisite
workmanship. The helmet was not forgotten, btlt was re-
turned duly filled with gold dust; and, to crown all, there
were two circles of gold and silver "as large as the wheel of
a chariot," and richly carved. The terms in which the Aztec
monarch declined a visit from the Spaniards were couched in
expressions which referred to the difficulty of the journey,
and concluded with a request that they would return to their
own land. But the proofs thus afforded of the wealth of
Mexico were the strongest inducement to the Spaniards to
remain and make themselves masters of the country. This
resolution was not, however, agreed to by all. There sprung
up a division in the Spanish camp. The rich presents, which
testified to the wealth, were also evidences of the power of
the Mexican emperor, and the more timid began to reflect
upon the madness of attempting to oppose him with their
present scanty forces. Their discontent was aggravated by
their sufferings from the excessive heat, from the clouds of
venomous insects, and the other discomforts of that climate.
"1' It was high time," they said, "to return horie and to report
what they had learned to Velasquez; efforts could then be
made to collect such a force as might cope successfully with
Montezuma." The partisans of Cortez urged that everything
so far had gone on prosperously; that doubtless, in their new
locality, the Mexicans would again begin to trade with them;
that to sail now would be to lose all the advantages of their

42 The Conquest of Mexico

past toils, and to relinquish the prize at the moment it was placed
within their grasp. They ought to establish a colony, with
their leader at its head, and to take warning by the disgrace
into which Grijalva had fallen from not having adopted such
a course. At length, the contest became so violent that the
party of Velasquez openly called on Cortez to lead them home,
declaring that, although the others might stay, they were
determined to return.to Cuba, and demanding that the order
for departure should be given.
Among the soldiers engaged in the expedition was Bernal
Diaz, who was in the confidence of the leading supporters of
Cortez. This man has left an account from which we get an
insight into the intrigues of the camp. We learn from it that
a plan had been matured for forming a colony in the name of
the Emperor Charles V., and shaking off by this proceeding
the authority of Velasquez. The consternation of its pro-
moters may be readily imagined when Cortez assented to the
demand of their opponents, and issued an order that all should
be in readiness to embark for their return. They stirred up
the common soldiers, who came with loud cries of discontent,
and forced their way to the general's presence. An assembly
was held, in which Cortez craftily dwelt upon the richness of
the prize, whilst he professed his readiness to relinquish it;
and then, with feigned reluctance, allowed himself to be per-
suaded to adopt the course which he most ardently desired.
In order to give to these proceedings a semblance of legality,
he desired that a requisition in writing should be presented to
him, enjoining him to change the object of the expedition from
that of trade to forming a settlement. Armed with such
authority, he declared himself willing to obey their wishes.
A curious scene followed; but one in full accordance with
the entire tenor of Cortez's behaviour during this campaign.
In completing his revolt against the authority of Velasquez,
Cortez observed a careful outward respect to legal forms.
The arrangements for the new city were matured, and the
name of the Rich Town of the True Cross (Villa Rica del

by Hernando Cortez. 43

Vera Cruz) was given to it. Its principal officers, alcaldes,
rigidors, and other functionaries, were then nominated by
Cortez, the most important posts being filled by his firmest
friends. Before them Cortez now appeared, and resigned his
office of captain-general, which he had received from Velas-
quez; and was then reappointed by the council to the same
dignity in the emperor's name. By this ingenious device the
whole purpose of the expedition was changed, and Cortez was
invested with powers that could only be taken from him by
the Spanish sovereign.
There were some who remonstrated loudly against these pro-
ceedings, but Cortez was not slow to exert his new powers.
He put the most active of them in irons, and ultimately the
whole body acceded to the new arrangements.
Before matters had been thus arranged, some Indians had
arrived at the Spanish camp, and were brought before Cortez.
They were natives of Cempoalla, the capital of the Totonacs,
and were sent by the prince of that tribe to invite Cortez to
pay him a visit. Their account of the treatment they had ex-
perienced from Montezuma, by whom they had been recently
subdued, gave Cortez an insight into the jealousies by which
the Mexican empire was weakened, and he at once divined the
probable advantage of allying himself with the discontented
states. He now, therefore, gladly directed the march to
The spirits of the little army rose as they drew near to the
city of their new friends. The sandy plains on which they
had encamped, and on whose dreary wastes they had suffered
so much, were exchanged for a green and fertile country.
A hearty welcome awaited them at Cempoalla. The love
of flowers, which had survived their freedom, was already a
characteristic of the natives, and they held. out bunches of
roses to the soldiers, and crowned their general and his
charger with garlands. As they drew near to the town the
whole population advanced to meet them, the men adorned
with short mantles, the women clad in flowing robes that

44 The Conquest of Mexico

reached the ankles. The cacique received them at the en-
trance of his dwelling, whilst commodious quarters and
abundant provisions testified to their good will.
From the cacique of Cempoalla, Cortez learned the condition
of the Mexican empire, the hatred of some subject tribes to
their masters, and the cruelty and luxury of Montezuma; he
learned also the great dread with which the Aztec sovereign
was regarded. His armies were like the whirlwind, and
slavery or sacrifice were the inevitable results of disobedience
to his commands. This dread was called forth into action by
the arrival of the Aztec nobles to collect the tribute from the
people of Cempoalla. These officers deeply resented the
hospitality shown to the Spaniards, and demanded twenty
young men and maidens for sacrifice in expiation of their fault.
Cortez affected the strongest indignation on hearing of this
demand. He bade the cacique instantly to seize upon and
bind the Aztec nobles. When this was done, he repaired to
them privately, and procured the release of two of their
number, enjoining them to inform their sovereign of his
generous return for the unkind treatment he had experienced.
He subsequently required that the other Aztec chieftains
should be placed in his hands, and then allowed them to join
their companions. Such was the return of Cortez for the
generosity of the Cempoallans. He sought to embroil them
with the Aztec emperor, and to secure for himself the good
will of Montezuma.
The Spaniards now proceeded to Chiahuitzlan, and a site
was selected, between the two places, for his new city of
Vera Cruz. The walls were marked out, public buildings
designed, and, with the aid of their Indian allies, a town soon
rose. Every man shared in the work-the general equally
with the meanest soldier. The place was to serve as a
retreat in the hour of reverse, whilst its harbour would
give shelter to the vessels of any fresh comers.
The scene which had been enacted at Cozumel was now to
be repeated at Cempoalla.

by Hernando Cortez. 45

After this event, the Cempoallans were solemnly received as
vassals of the King of Spain. It is amusing to observe the
gravity with which this handful of men disposed of kingdoms,
and claimed supremacy in the name of their sovereign over a
vast.and powerful empire. It is certain that Cortez had fully
determined by this time to conquer Mexico, for in an account
which he sent to Charles V. of his discovery, he declared he
would take Montezuma dead or alive, unless he agreed to
become a vassal of the Spanish crown. He now carried out
a daring stroke of policy to further his plans. Conspiracy
had again been detected in the camp, and he determined at
once to crush it for ever, and to bind all his forces together by
the bonds of necessity. The party of Velasquez wanted to
sail away for further reinforcements, and to monopolize for
their own side the advantages of their discovery; if departure
were rendered impossible, they must all stand by one another,
when surrounded by common foes in a foreign land. Cortez,
therefore, determined to destroy his fleet. The stoutest hearts
among the soldiers quailed when the order to sink the ships
was given. They were now left, a handful amongst millions,
escape was impossible, destruction imminent. Loud re-
proaches were raised against the leader who had thus brought
them to perish in a strange country. Cortez stood unmoved;
he calmly dilated upon the ever-welcome topic-the treasures
of Mexico, which should soon be theirs. One vessel still
remained, let those that quailed take that and sail away.
They could wait at Cuba till their comrades, whom they had
deserted, returned with the spoils of the Aztec empire. With
a general impulse their confidence revived : "To Mexico!
to Mexico !" was the universal cry.
Escalante, a trusty friend of Cortez, was to take command at
Vera Cruz, and the army set out, on the I6th August, 1519,
upon its march to Mexico. Upwards of a thousand Indian
warriors accompanied them, and as many porters were pro-
vided by the Totonacs to carry the baggage and drag the guns.
Their course was directed towards the little state of Tlascala,

46 The Conquest of Mexico

whose enmity to the Aztecs was known. Cortez was alive to
the advantages of securing their alliance, and sent an embassy
asking permission to pass through their country, as they
journeyed to humble the pride of Montezuma. He received
an unfavourable reply. The council of the chiefs had
deliberated long, but at length the deeply-rooted suspicion
of all strangers and intruders upon their territory prevailed.
By some strange oversight the Tlascalans left their rampart
undefended; but, about four leagues further on, they assembled
in dense masses, and offered a stern resistance to the Spaniards.
A series of most desperate battles ensued, and, although the
Europeans were victorious in every engagement, their position
was becoming most critical; several of their number had
been slain, all the horses were wounded, and the spirit of
the foe seemed as defiant as ever. But discouragement was
beginning to creep over the Tlascalan warriors; the pale faces
of the foe, the horses, which were animals now first seen by
them, and the thunder and flash of the artillery mingling
destruction with terror, filled their minds with superstitious
dread: and when a night attack, which had been devised as
an extraordinary effort, was unsuccessful; and when, after
each victory, the politic Cortez offered terms of peace and
friendship, the brave fellows at length consented to come to
terms. They received the Spaniards with a cordiality be-
fitting the courage they had displayed; and Cortez, in whose
camp complaints were again rife, was only too glad to find so
serious an obstacle effectually removed.
At Tlascala another embassy arrived from Montezuma,
accompanied, as before, by rich presents. The emperor
besought Cortez not to ally himself with the Tlascalans, but
to proceed at once to Mexico by the city of Cholula, whither
orders had been sent for his entertainment. Cholula was the
ancient seat of the Aztec religion, and its people were noted
for their perfidy and superstition. The Tlascalans, now
thoroughly united to the Spaniards by their common enmity
to Montezuma, and by intermarriages which had been

by Hernando Cortez. 47

solemnized between them, warned Cortez that some treachery
was intended. Agreeing with this estimate, the Spanish
general yet determined to march to Cholula.
The whole army accordingly set out, accompanied by a
body of the Tlascalans, 6,000 in number. Their path lay
across one of those vast plains which are so striking a feature
in Mexican scenery, and on all sides they saw evidences of
the fertility of the soil, as well as of the industry and
intelligence of its inhabitants.
On the banks of a stream hard by the city Cortez halted
his army for the night, and there received the Cholulan chiefs
who came to meet and bid him welcome. At their own request
he left the Tlascalans encamped on this spot, until he should
march forward to Mexico. Accompanied by only a few native
servants the Spaniards entered Cholula. The entire popula-
tion turned out to gaze upon the pale-faced strangers. In no
city, save the capital, had luxury reached such a pitch as at
Cholula; the width of the streets, the size and comfort of the
houses, the long white bournouses in which many were clad,
the garlands of flowers and waving censers of incense, made
up a scene that could not fail to inflame the excited feelings of
the new-comers. With what awe must they have gazed upon
the numerous temples in which the cruel rites of Aztec
worship were performed; more especially as they drew near
to the famous pyramid, 170 feet high, visible from afar, and
which is now the most remarkable ruin in Mexico. The
pyramid was composed of four terraces, rising one above
another. Some idea of its size may be gathered from the
statement of Humboldt, that its base covered forty-four acres,
and the platform on its summit was an acre in extent. On,
this was erected the temple of the deity, from whose altars
there arose the smoke and flame in which his human victims
were consumed. So terrible was the influence of their super-
stitions that 6,000 human beings are said to have been
annually sacrificed on the altars of Cholula.
For some days the Spaniards met with all kindness at the

48 The Conquest of Mexico

hands of the people of Cholula. They were quartered in one
of the vast temples, an ample supply of provisions was
furnished, and nothing seemed wanting to testify their friend-
ship. On a sudden all was changed, and Cortez discovered
that, at the direction of Montezuma, a plot had been formed
for their destruction. They were to be assailed as they
marched out of the city, and every preparation had been made
to ensure the success of the attack. Streets had been
barricaded, and pits dug, filled with stakes, to hamper the
movements of the cavalry. But Cortez maintained his
firmness under dangers before which the stoutest heart
might have quailed. Having obtained full information of the
plot, and of Montezuma's complicity in it, he sent for the
ambassadors of the Aztec emperor and reproached their
master for his duplicity. With his wonted cunning he
affected, after an interval, to believe their assurances that
Montezuma had no share in the design, and then telling them
that he would inflict signal punishment on the Cholulans, he
dismissed them under a strong guard. To the Cholulan chiefs
he only intimated that he would leave the city on the following
morning, and they readily acquiesced in a proposal which
seemed to further their own designs.
After a night of no small anxiety, the Cholulan caciques
appeared at daybreak with a band of porters far more
numerous than Cortez had requested them to provide. The
Spaniards were all ready, drawn up in martial array. The
caciques were seized and sternly accused of the conspiracy,
which they were too much confounded to deny. Then, at a
given signal, the 'Spaniards rushed forth and fired upon the
"unarmed masses. Panic struck, and taken by surprise, the
miserable creatures were slaughtered like sheep; and soon,
in their rear, rose the shrill cry of their old enemies, the
Tlascalans, who had marched into the city at the summons of
Cortez. A frightful scene of massacre ensued, and its horrors
were increased as fire was set to some of the temples and
houses, and the flames spread rapidly long the wooden

by Hernando Cortez. 49

buildings. The great temple was stormed foot by foot, and
not one Cholulan upon it survived the conflict. In abject
terror, the caciques at length persuaded Cortez to put a stop
to the plunder and carnage.
The interval of repose which followed the .massacre was
deemed a fitting season to set forth the tenets of the Spanish
creed, although it could hardly be supposed that their practice
was likely to commend their faith to the Cholulans. The
great teocalli, as the pyramidal structure was called, was
purified, and a huge crucifix erected on its summit, whilst a
image of the Virgin (de los Remedios) was given by Cortez
himself to adorn the temple. Other embassies had arrived
from Montezuma, loaded, as before, with rich presents, and
furnished with specious reasons why the Spaniards should
abstain from pressing on to Mexico. Cortez accepted the
gifts, and politely evaded compliance with the expressed
wishes of the giver. After a rest of some days, the little
band resumed its march to the capital. The Cempoallans were
afraid to venture into the country of their powerful foes, and
were permitted to return home. With them Cortez despatched
Escalante to act as his lieutenant at Vera Cruz.
The distance from Cholula to Mexico is about sixty leagues,
and the road crosses the lofty ridge which divides the table-
land of Mexico from that of the Puebla. As they mounted the
sides of the sierra their march became excessively toilsome;
cold blasts of wind swept down from the snow-clad sides of
Popocatepetl. It had been dangerous to bivouac in such a
region had not a large walled inclosure, intended for the use of
travellers, afforded them the protection which, as children of
the South, they required against the cold. But when, on a
sudden turn in the path, the whole valley of Mexico lay
stretched at their feet, all the toils of the ascent were forgotten
in the beauty of the scene. Wondrous as is still the face of
nature in that broad plateau, it then possessed features of
beauty which have long since disappeared. Vast groves of
luxuriant trees clothed with their rich foliage many parts that

50 The Conquest of Mexico

now are bleak and bare; cities, teeming with a numerous
population, were dotted over the landscape; and the fields,
which furnished a harvest for their support, carpeted the soil
with their varied crops. The great lake on which Mexico then
stood spread its waters over a wider surface, and many a rood
of salt, barren marsh now marks the space which it formerly
occupied. All the wealth of the Aztec empire was lavished
upon this region, whose climate and fertility repaid with
abundant gratitude the care bestowed on its cultivation. And
as the eyes of the Spaniards ranged over the prospect, and
they were able in the clear, dry atmosphere to embrace a
'wide range of vision, until the view melted in the purple of
the distant hills, overcome with its beauty, they exclaimed,
with cries of rapture, It is the promised land !"
The news of their approach inspired vague but well-
grounded apprehensions in the mind of Montezuma. All his
entreaties had been unavailing, and as the Spaniards pressed
on to his capital he had a mournful presentiment that the
empire was about to fade from his grasp. Yet he aroused
himself to meet the new-comers with all the outward signs of
cordiality, and concealed his fears beneath a smile of welcome.
What must have been the thoughts that crowded into the
minds of the Spaniards as they gazed upon the evidences of
power and wealth by which they were surrounded! They
had learned indeed that many of the emperor's subjects were
ill-affected towards him, but how could so small a band as they
cope with the resources of so powerful a sovereign ? Did no
misgivings -suggest themselves as the Spaniards marched along
the causeway through the lake, and as they crossed over the
drawbridge to enter Mexico ? They were placing themselves
by their own act in the power of Montezuma, and retreat
would be almost impossible. It was not the time, however,
to parley with such fears. The major part would yield to the
enjoyment of the present, without much thought about the
The scenes which followed are without a parallel in the


-- ---1 -- r = :

" ,: -..I f



by Hernando Cortez. 51

history of nations. The Spaniards were courteously welcomed,
loaded with presents, located in convenient quarters, and their
every want supplied. There seemed to be no limit to the
kindness and generosity of Montezuma, yet, in the midst of
such treatment from him, Cortez suddenly determined to
seize the emperor's person and to compel him to reside in
the Spanish camp. The excuse alleged for so harsh a course
was an attack made by Quauhpopoca, one of the Aztec nobles,
upon Vera Cruz; and although Montezuma offered to send
for the offender that he might be punished, it was in vain that
he pleaded to retain his liberty. The unhappy prince was so
overcome by his fears that he forbade his subjects to attempt
his release; and Cortez even had the cruelty to place him in
irons when Quauhpopoca declared that he had acted under
Montezuma's orders. This last insult pierced the heart of the
Aztec sovereign. He declined to return to his palace when
Cortez-we know not with how much sincerity-offered him
his liberty. Not long after, he avowed himself a vassal of the
King of Spain, and, with his nobles, took the oath of allegiance
to Charles V.
The frightful punishment of Quauhpopoca, who was burned
alive, and the placing fetters upon his master, extort some
words of condemnation from one of the most ardent admirers
of Cortez. "It was," says Mr. Prescott, "a politic proceeding
to which few men would have been 'equal who had a touch of
humanity in their nature." Bernal Diaz, an actor in these
scenes, after an interval of fifty years, thus recorded his reflec-
tions upon them. Now that I am an old man, I often entertain
myself with calling to mind the heroic deeds of early days, till
they are as fresh as the events of yesterday. I think of the
seizure of the Indian monarch, his confinement in irons, 'and
the execution of his officers, till all these things seem actually
passing before me. And as I ponder on our exploits, I feel
that it was not of ourselves that we performed them, but that
it was the providence of God that guided us I"
It was plainly impossible that matters should long continue

52 The Conquest of Mexico

in so anomalous a position. A crisis was brought about in an
unexpected manner by the arrival of a fresh body of Spaniards.
They had been sent by Velasquez, the governor of Cuba; and
Narvaez, their leader, had express orders to arrest Cortez, and
claim the profits of his discoveries for Velasquez. To support
his attempt he had brought some nine hundred Europeans,
with eighty horses, and about a thousand Indians. The con-
dition of Cortez was indeed perilous. The Mexicans were
inflamed against him. Montezuma had been alienated by his
unworthy treatment, and had reason to question the truth of
his representations when he learned that the new-comers were
opposed to him. The force of Narvaez far exceeded his own
in numbers, and it was doubtful whether even the Tlascalans
would stand firm when they saw the odds to which he was
opposed. But the spirit of Cortez ever rose before danger.
Leaving Alvarado in charge of Mexico and its captive monarch,
he selected the trustiest of his comrades, attacked and con-
quered Narvaez, in a night assault, and with his usual address
so improved the victory, that he speedily returned to the capital
with a large body of Spaniards that had lately arrived as foes,
now united to serve under his banner.
His presence was sorely needed at Mexico. Before his
departure to meet Narvaez, his religious zeal had galled the
proud Aztecs to the quick, for he had seized their principal
temple for the celebration of Christian worship. All the pre-
judices of the people had been outraged by this proceeding,
but they maintained a sullen attitude of submission. Now,
however, news. reached him that the Mexicans were in arms
against him. They had burned the vessels he had built upon
the lake, had besieged the Spanish quarters, and killed many
of its defenders. In short, Cortez was implored to return if he
would preserve the survivors.
This was a heavy blow to Cortez after his recent success.
He hurried back to find the city almost deserted, and every
sign of disaffection amongst the few that still lingered within
its walls. The violence of Alvarado was the cause of this

by Hernando Cortez. 53

hostility. On the occasion of the festival of their war god, he
had rushed in upon the unarmed worshippers, and had com-
mitted a fearful massacre among them. This insane cruelty
stung to the quick the pride of the Mexicans; they rose en
masse with one long cry for vengeance on so perfidious an act.
On they came by thousands, pressing forward heedless of the
numbers that fell before the fire of their foes, and when the
fury of the first assault was spent, they hemmed in the Spanish
quarters on all sides, withdrew all supplies of provisions, and
waited until they should be starved into submission.
Such was the posture of affairs when Cortez reached Mexico.
Bitterly repenting his selection of Alvarado to govern in his
absence, he had the meanness to vent his spleen upon the
captive monarch who sent to him to request an interview. In
all haste he despatched a messenger to summon aid from Vera
Cruz, but it was too late. The man soon returned, sorely
wounded, and announcing that the whole people were in arms.
On they came in a surging tide, their banners flying, and their
ranks marshalled under the most noted of their chieftains. As
they approached in dense masses, the fire of the Spanish
artillery made terrible havoc in their ranks, but they pressed
forward undaunted, and tried to storm or batter down the
wall behind which the Europeans were protected. Their
flaming arrows soon set fire to the wooden buildings, whilst
a cloud of missiles, hurled from powerful arms, inflicted much
Night brought some respite from the fatigue of the conflict,
but next day it was resumed with unabated vigour. All the
slaughter inflicted by the Spaniards failed to daunt the spirit
of the enemy. It was in vain that they opened a murderous
fire upon the thronging crowd, the places of the slain were
instantly filled up by new-comers. In vain did Cortez, and
the most famous 4f his comrades, sally forth to charge them
sword in hand; wo, n out with the labours of cutting down the
enemy, they were fain to retreat after performing useless pro-
digies of valour. With bitter taunts the Aztecs pressed upon

54 The Conquest of Mexico

them as they withdrew behind their ramparts. "The fires of
the sacrifice are waiting for you. No matter though a thousand
of us should fall to one of your number, not one of you shall
escape alive." Such words fell ominously on the superstitious
ears of men wearied with fighting and sorely depressed in
The battle was renewed next day; and now Cortez strove
to bring the enemy to terms. He induced Montezuma to
address the people, and persuade them to desist, but the
magic spell of his despotism was dissolved. The Aztecs
reviled him as a traitor, and a shower of missiles fell around
him. He was borne away by the Spaniards badly wounded,
and their stern hearts must have been touched by the miseries
of the unhappy monarch. This last indignity thoroughly
crushed his wounded spirit. He refused all the kindness
with which the Spaniards strove to comfort him; tore off the
bandages with which they stanched his wounds;. and nursed
his proud sorrow in unbroken silence, until he felt his end
approaching; then, summoning Cortez to his bedside, he
solemnly entrusted his children to his care, "as the most
precious jewels he could leave him, and expired in the arms
of some of his own nobles, who still remained faithful in their
attendance on his person." It was the 3oth June, 1520.
So died the mightiest monarch of the new world. The
Spaniards found amongst the rulers of the western hemi-
sphere none like in power and wealth unto Montezuma. For
more than seventeen years he had ruled over his wide do-
minions, successful in war, and wise in counsel, until, by his
own people, he was regarded as more than a mortal man. But
he died dethroned and dishonoured, and a captive in the hands
of strangers.
The position of Cortez was now desperate. His overtures
for peace were rejected, the fury of the enemy was unabated,
and he learned that the bridges in the line of his retreat were
broken down. It was determined to steal out on the night of
the ist of July, and by the aid of a portable bridge, which had

by Hernando Cortze. 55

been secretly constructed, to effect, if possible, their retreat to
Tlascala. Arrangements were made for the conveyance of a
certain portion of the treasure, and the rest was abandoned to
the soldiers, many of whom fell victims in the night to the
cupidity which led them to overload themselves with gold.
With anxious hearts, we may well believe, they waited for the
The night seemed to favour their retreat; it was dark, and
drizzling. The foe had retired to their quarters, and the
Spaniards gained the causeway (which connected the island on
which Mexico stood with the mainland) almost unobserved.
This causeway was crossed by three openings in the line of
the Spaniards' march, and the bridges over these had been
broken down by the Aztecs. Just as the causeway was
reached they were discovered. No sooner was an alarm
sounded than the priests took up the cry, and from the
summits of their temples roused the whole city to arms.
Cortez pushed on with all speed, but it was no easy thing
to march the whole army over the bridge. Ere the last
of their number had crossed the first opening, an ominous
sound arose, and the waters on either side flashed beneath
the strokes of a thousand oars, as the boats of the Mexicans
bore them to the attack. The first opening, however, was
passed in safety; Magarino, at the head of his engineers,
advanced to raise the portable bridge and bear it forward to
the second opening, but it stuck fast. The heavy weight that
had been borne over it had fixed it firmly in the earth, and
all efforts to move it were ineffectual. As this terrible news
spread, a cry of despair arose from the Spanish force. Assailed
in front, cut off in the rear, and attacked on both sides by num-
bers which increased every moment, their destruction seemed
inevitable. Their wily foes rained thick clouds of darts on
them, and rushing suddenly up the sides of the causeway
grappled with them, hand to hand, and both fell together into
the lake; the Mexican was quickly picked up by his friends,
whilst the European was as quickly despatched. On they

56 The Conquest of Mexico

struggled, however, and presently the second opening was
almost choked up with baggage, treasure, and dead bodies,
mingled in dire confusion. Over this at length they scrambled,
the enemy still hanging on their rear as they pressed forward
until they reached the third and last opening in the causeway.
Here a scene of fearful confusion ensued. The mounted
cavaliers swam across, the infantry clung to the tails of their
horses, or tried to find a place in which they might ford the
stream. Many were drowned in the attempt, especially such
as were overladen with gold. At length the van and the centre
got over, when word was brought that the rear-guard was
overpowered, and, unless strengthened, would be entirely
destroyed. With unhesitating gallantry the cavaliers dashed
once more into the river to relieve their comrades; after a
terrible struggle a straggling remnant effected a passage.
Alvarado, unhorsed and hemmed in on all sides, hesitated for
an instant at the opening, then placing his spear on the mass
of ruin that choked the place, he cleared it at a bound. The
spot has ever since borne the name of Alvarado's Leap.
The Mexicans abstained from further pursuit, and Cortez
was able to draw off his forces. They were sadly thinned.
Little more than a third of the Spaniards, and a fourth of their
allies, survived. The horses were reduced to twenty-three.
All the artillery, all the treasure, all the baggage was lost.
Hardly a musket remained. As he reviewed his shattered
army Cortez was unable to restrain his tears, so terrible was
the disaster of the Sad Night," the Noche Triste, as it has ever
since been termed in Spanish annals.
The most determined spirit might have found abundant
reasons for abandoning the attempt to conquer the country
under the circumstances in which Cortez was now placed.
His forces were thoroughly disorganized, and those of them
who had come with Narvaez began to utter loud complaints
of the hardships they were enduring. Tlascala, the only place
where a friendly shelter could be hoped for, lay about sixty-
five miles to the east of Mexico, so that they would have to go

by Hernando Cortez. 57

round the north part of the lake to get into the road which led
thither. They marched for six days, with little respite, and
exposed to constant attacks from the Mexicans, who hovered
around them, harassing them with missiles, and sometimes
closing in front and rear with fearless boldness. Their
strength was wasted with privation, and they could only
slowly advance, if they did not abandon the wounded and
exhausted. The coolness and courage of the commander alone
kept them from despair.
On the sixth day of the retreat they arrived near Otumba,
not far from the road between Mexico and Tlascala. The
enemy still harassed their rear, and amidst the insults which
accompanied their attacks, Marina told Cortez that they often
exclaimed with exultation, "Go on, robbers; go to the place
where you shall soon meet the vengeance due to your crimes."
On reaching a rising ground they learned the meaning of this
threat. On a vast plain, over which they must pass, an im-
mense host was seen, drawn up to oppose their further march.
There was nothing for it but to advance, and wherever the little
band turned, the dense mass of the foe was penetrated, and
many slain. But it was like piercing through water. The
multitude was so great that the Spaniards were hemmed in,
and the bravest were ready to sink under these repeated
efforts, without seeing any end of their toil, or any hope of
At this crisis a movement was made, which was indeed a
stroke of military genius, and which retrieved the fortune of
the day, and saved the little army.* "Cortez observed the
great standard of the empire, which was carried before the
Mexican general, advancing; and fortunately recollecting to
have heard that on the fate of it depended the event of every

We give the incident in the eloquent words of Principal Robertson, of
Edinburgh, in whose "History of America the story of Cortez is told in a
way not surpassed by Mr. Prescott or any other historian of these times
and events. Robertson, whose work is now too much neglected, refers to
all the best Spanish authorities.

58 The Conquest of Mexico

battle, he assembled a few of his bravest officers, whose horses
were still capable of service, and, placing himself at their head,
pushed forward toward the standard with an impetuosity which
bore down everything before it. A chosen body of nobles,
who guarded the standard, made some resistance, but were
soon broken. Cortes, with his lance, wounded the Mexican
general, and threw him on the ground. One of the Spanish
officers, alighting, put an end to his life, and laid hold of the
imperial standard. The moment that their leader fell, and the
standard, towards which all directed their eyes, disappeared,
a universal panic struck the Mexicans; and, as if the bond
which held them together had been dissolved, every ensign
was lowered, each soldier threw away his weapons, and all
fled with precipitation towards the mountains. The Spaniards,
unable to pursue them far, returned to collect the spoils of the
field, which were so valuable as to be some compensation
for the wealth they had lost in Mexico; for in the enemy's
army were most of their principal warriors dressed out in
their richest.ornaments, as if they had been marching to assured
victory. Next day (July 8th), to their great joy, they entered
the Tlascalan territories."
It was doubtful how the Tlascalans would receive them.
When, shortly afterwards, a Mexican embassy arrived, a party
in the city openly desired to make common cause with Mexico
for the expulsion of the strangers. Their leader, too, had yet
to learn how his conduct would be regarded at the court of
Spain, and he must have reflected with bitterness on the loss
of treasure which might have smoothed over many difficulties.
But he was undaunted. He set himself to restore the confi-
dence of his army. He trained it in a series of expeditions
against the allies of Mexico. He gained complete control over
the chieftains of Tlascala, and won the admiration of these
fierce warriors by leading them to victories in which they took
vengeance on their hated foes, and enriched themselves with
plunder. He won over to his side two successive detachments
sent by Velasquez, and permitted some discontented spirits to

by Hernando Cortez. 59

sail back to Cuba, thus doubly strengthening his army. He
prepared for building a fleet of brigantines with which the
siege of Mexico might be resumed. In such labours the six
remaining months of 1520 were consumed. When the ships
were sufficiently advanced, he chose Tezcuco as the head-
quarters of the operations which he purposed to conduct
against the capital. On the last day of the year he marched
into that city at the head of 600 Spaniards, well equipped,
including forty mounted knights and nine cannon. Besides
these, he had a force of Indian auxiliaries estimated at ioo,ooo
in number.
The wide plain in which Mexico stands was then the seat
of a vast and thriving population. Upwards of forty large
towns, besides villages innumerable, were counted on its
surface. Many of these towns had been, in former days, the
capital of a tribe, whose chieftains still resided in them, and
they consequently retained considerable social importance,
although all political power had been grasped by the Aztec
emperor. The capital, as we have already seen, stood on an
island in the Tezcucan lake. The water of the lake itself was
brackish, but a conduit, constructed with a double line of pipes,
conveyed a plentiful and pure supply to the city. Three
causeways, or dykes, built of stone, furnished the means of
access from the city to the mainland, and it was the passage
of one of these that had cost the Spaniards so dear on the
Sad Night" of their retreat. There were other smaller
lakes scattered over the Mexican valley, with flourishing
towns upon their borders. Their sites were occasionally
protected by embankments from the incursion of the neigh-
bouring waters, as the lakes thus restrained were on a higher
level than the towns which stood upon their banks. These
facts must be borne in mind by the reader as he follows the
account of the siege.
Nearly opposite to Mexico, across the waters of the lake,
but at the distance of half a league from its shore, rose Tezcuco,
the head-quarters of the Spanish army. It had long been the

60 The Conquest of Mexico

rival of the capital, whose pre-eminence it still regarded with
distaste. Its chief, Ixtlilxochitl, espoused the side of Cortez
with a constancy that never wavered, even when the success
of the Spaniards seemed most doubtful. This important
acquisition gave Cortez a base of operations which was
absolutely essential for the fulfilment of his plans..
It was plainly hopeless to attempt the reduction of the
capital whilst it could draw resources and supplies from all the
neighboring towns. Cortez, therefore, determined to proceed
against these first, in rapid succession, with the hope that their
fall would induce the Mexicans to come to terms, and so spare
him the difficulties of a siege and the destruction of the city.
With this purpose he first marched against Iztapalapan, a city
lying to the south of Tezcuco, and bordering closely upon the
Tezcucan lake, whose waters were kept back by a strong sea
wall. Here were the palace and beautiful gardens of the last
Mexican emperor. It had a population of some 50,000 souls.
A strong force was drawn up to oppose the Spaniards, but the
fury of their onset carried all before them, and they rushed
into the place after the fugitives, without regarding some
canoes full of men, who were quietly and busily at work upon
the mole or sea wall. A terrible massacre followed in the
city, which was given up to pillage, fire, and sword. No
quarter was granted by the ruthless Tlascalans, and the Aztecs
fought with all the energy of despair. Suddenly there rose a
dull, murmuring sound of rushing water, and the dread news
was spread that the Indians had broken down the mole.
Hastily was the retreat sounded. They were glad to flounder
through the water as lightly burdened as possible, and to
reach the mainland. All the plunder was lost, all the powder
spoiled. Wearied and disheartened they returned to Tezcuco,
the enemy still hovering on their rear. The Aztecs might be
conquered, but they were in spirit unsubdued.
The attack upon Iztapalapan was followed by one of the most
striking events of the war. Word was brought to Cortez
from Tlascala, that the brigantines which he had ordered to

by Hernando Cortez. 61

be built were now completed, and he accordingly despatched
Sandoval with 200 Europeans to escort them to Tezcuco. The
vessels had been constructed and tried upon the lake Zahuapan.
They were now to be taken to pieces and carried, with the
anchors, iron-work, sails, and cordage," on the backs of porters
all the way to Tezcuco. In this manner thirteen vessels of war
were transported nearly twenty leagues across the mountains.
The line of bearers, extending upwards of six miles in length,
was protected by Sandoval's little army, and some 20,00ooo
Tlascalans. The enemy, although they hung upon their
march, did not venture to attack them; and the boldness of
the conception which designed so extraordinary a manoeuvre
was only equalled by the success with which it was performed.
It was still necessary to dig a canal through which the
brigantines might pass from Tezcuco into the lake. Leaving
this work to be performed by the allies, Cortez turned his
army northwards, and attacked the town of Xaltocan, the
modern San, Christobal. Its fall was followed by that of
other cities (with most unpronounceable names), until, bending
round the northern boundary of the lake, Cortez once more
entered Tacuba. This town stood near the commencement of
one of the causeways that led across the lake to Mexico.
Along this the Spaniards now advanced, and it once more
became the scene of an obstinate conflict. After each day's
contest, Cortez offered the enemy terms of peace, but they
were invariably rejected. His victories, indeed, seemed to
bring him little fruit. The towns that were sacked furnished
but little treasure. The gold had been buried or removed.
It was plain that undying hostility had been awakened, and
that' he must strain every nerve to conquer or die.
For the present, then, Cortez returned to Tezcuco, where
new cares summoned him in a different direction. The
people of Chalco, a large town to the south of the capital,
had been gained over to embrace the Spanish cause. They
were now sorely pressed by the Aztecs, and their defection
might be followed by that of other allies. To Chalco ac-

62 The Conguest of Mexico

cordingly Cortez repaired. Not content with driving the
Mexicans from that region, he crossed into the rugged districts
of the Sierra, took several strong towns, and marched to
Tacuba, entering it from the south, as he had formerly done
from the north. He had thus completed the circuit of the
lake, and everywhere had victory attended his arms, although
at times with much peril and considerable loss.
From Tacuba the Spaniards passed on to Tezcuco; arrived
here, they found the brigantines equipped and launched, and
the canal finished. At this auspicious moment Cortez
detected a conspiracy aimed at his life amongst his own
soldiery. -There were many discontented spirits in the
army, and, as there was no opportunity for desertion, a plot
was formed to assassinate Cortez and the principal officers, and
then to seize upon the ships and sail home. It was revealed
to the general on the day before it was to have been perpe-
trated. Villafafia, the leader, was apprehended, and the
papers in his possession proved that some personal friends of
Cortez were implicated in the design. With a ready discern-
ment, Cortez at once destroyed the paper, and had Villafania
immediately executed.
They were again to be diverted from brooding over their
wrongs by active service. Twelve of the brigantines were
manned (one having proved unserviceable), and sailed into
the lake. A fresh muster of the allies was ordered, as many
had returned home to house their plunder. Early in May
the whole force was under arms, and the siege of Mexico was
formally commenced. Sandoval was sent with a division to
the south; Alvarado and Olid by the north to Tacuba. They
were to push on from thence to Chapoltepec, and destroy the
aqueduct by which the city was supplied. Cortez set sail
with his flotilla to strike a decisive blow, if possible, upon
the lake.
In the first engagement on the water the Aztecs were
completely vanquished, and Cortez then sailed to Zoloc, an
important station on the causeway from Cojohuacan. Alvarado

by Hernando Cortez. 63

occupied that which led to Tacuba, and Sandoval the third
causeway to the north. Thus the blockade of the capital was
The fiery cavaliers were, however, too impatient to await
the effects of famine, and constant assaults were made upon
the city on all sides. As the Spaniards advanced along the
causeways they were supported on either flank by the
brigantines, whose fire swept across the path of the enemy.
Still the Aztecs retreated in good order, and fiercely disputed
the passage at every breach in the path. When the Spaniards
reached the city, a fierce conflict arose at each one of the
numerous canals by which many of the streets were inter-
sected. Much delay, too, was caused by their being obliged
to fill each breach over which they passed in order to secure
the line of their retreat. Several days were spent in such
conflicts, but every night the Mexicans pulled away the
materials with which the breaches had been filled up, so that
the work had to be begun all over again. This mode of
warfare greatly dispirited the Spaniards. They had also to
endure considerable hardships in the camp, where but few of
them had any shelter against the cold of the nights. Poor old
Bernal Diaz waxes quite eloquent in his recital of their
Under these circumstances many of the officers urged
Cortez to make a general assault upon the city, in conjunction
with Alvarado and Sandoval. The general yielded against his
better judgment, and gave instructions for the combined
attack. Strict directions were given that in every case the
breaches should be filled up, so as to allow the army to retire
in good order.
Alderete, the royal treasurer, commanded the van of the
division under Cortez. The Spanish forces advanced simul-
taneously, and the Aztecs, as usual, fell back before them.
Drawn on by his ardour in the pursuit, Alderete hastily
followed up the flying enemy, and rushed across a canal
twelve feet in width without stopping to fill up the chasm,

64 The Conquest of Mexico

Suddenly, at the blast of Guatemozin's horn, the Aztecs
turned upon their pursuers, and the shock threw them into dis-
order. Then ensued a terrible scene of confusion, the enemy
showering darts upon them from the flat roofs of the houses
as they tried to escape, and the retreating Spaniards crowding
on the narrow path, till they thrust one another into the
stream that girt its sides. Cortez, warned of their danger,
hurried forward to the spot, and, standing at the edge of the
canal, strove to save his men from drowning. He was
quickly recognized by the Aztecs. With loud shouts, six of
their number rushed upon him and endeavoured to drag him
away captive. A desperate struggle raged around his person,
but at length the superior strength and weapons of the
Spaniards gained the mastery. Sorely wounded, he was
mounted on a horse and led away by a Spaniard, who
remarked that his life was too valuable to be thrown away
there; it was not before many of his comrades had been
slain in his defence, and others had been carried into more
dreadful captivity.
The assault had. been everywhere a failure. Besides the
killed and wounded, sixty-two Spaniards were captured, as
well as two cannon and seven horses. A scene followed
which filled the Spaniards with dismay. They were en-
camped so near the city, that in the clear atmosphere of the
tableland they could distinguish what was going forward in
the lofty temples. Day by day after this disaster, they beheld
a solemn procession winding round the lofty pyramidal temple
of the god of war. In the midst of the long file marched
some of the white-faced strangers, ready decked out for the
sacrifice. They were urged along by blows until they
mounted to the summit, where the victims one by one were
seized, stripped, and laid upon the sacrificial stone. Then, in
the sight of their countrymen, the priest struck the prisoner
with the sharp stone knife, thrust his hand into the wound,
and plucked out the palpitating heart, which he placed upon a
golden altar. The body was then hurled down from the


by Hernando Cortez. 65

pyramid, and seized on to be devoured by the crowd. These
scenes were repeated daily, until all the captives had been
slaughtered; and at each sacrifice the Aztecs shouted in
defiance, that so should all the enemies of their country be
Not only were the Spaniards disheartened by such horrors,
but the confidence of their Indian allies was sorely shaken.
In the sacrifice of so many Europeans, their superstitious
fears saw the vengeance of their idols against the strangers
who had dared to violate their shrines. The taunts, too, of
the Mexicans fell with an ominous sound upon their ears.
"Go on in the work of destruction," they cried, as the Indians
levelled the outskirts of the capital, go on pulling down; you
will soon have to build again. If we conquer, we shall make
you build for us; if the Spaniards gain the day, you will have
to build for them." The Spanish avarice and thirst for gold
afforded many a bitter sarcasmh, as they vowed that, if de-
feated, their treasures should not enrich their foes. "We will
hide it where you shall never find it."
Yet the evil day of doom was but postponed by the victory
of the Aztecs. Cortez now determined to proceed more
cautiously, and to abandon all thought of preserving the city.
Each breach in the causeway was to be so solidly filled up
that it could not be reopened. Each quarter that was gained
was to be levelled to the ground, and the materials cast into
the lake or the canals. With this ruthlessness of purpose,
the Spaniards worked on steadily, and day by day the un-
happy Mexicans saw a further portion of their capital de-
stroyed, and themselves hemmed in within a more contracted
space. Soon, too, the horrors of famine were added to the
other sufferings of the besieged. In their extremity they
devoured the most loathsome articles as food. The supply of
fresh water was cut off, and they were compelled to drink the
brackish water of the lake. Crowded together as they were
into a narrow space, with such polluted food and drink,
pestilence soon followed in the track of famine, and, with

66 The Conquest of Mexico

terrible rapidity, seized on their exhausted frames. They
sickened and died in such numbers that the survivors no
longer sufficed to bury the dead. Their corpses polluted the
atmosphere of the city, and aggravated the sufferings of its
unhappy people.
The cup of horrors was now filled to overflowing, but their
spirit was invincible, they would rather die than yield. In
their terrible extremity, the last feelings of tenderness were
quenched, and mothers devoured their own children to satisfy
the wolfish pangs of hunger. The horrors were like those
which Josephus records in his history of the siege of Jerusalem
by the Romans.
The siege had lasted more than three months, when, on the
15th August, 1521, Cortez, for the last time, led his troops
against Mexico. Soon a cry arose that the emperor had
escaped; the canoes that darted from the city were sur-
rounded, and in one of these Guatemozin was discovered and
brought before the general. He bore himself proudly in the
hour of his fall, I have done my best, now do with me what
you will. You had better take my life at once." Cortez
assured him of his protection and of honourable treatment;
but he broke his word, and permitted him to be tortured in the
hope that he would say where the treasures had been con-
cealed. For the moment, however, he was kindly dealt with,
and at his request the miserable remnant of the Mexicans
were allowed to march out of the city and leave its ruins to
the foe.
Thus ended this memorable siege, after a struggle unsur-
passed in the annals of the world, for the indomitable spirit
with which it was sustained. The conquerors might well
exult at this termination of their toils, but they had little
reason to rejoice in its immediate fruits. True to their
declared purpose, the Aztecs had made away with all the
treasures of Montezuma, and but a scanty portion fell to each
man's share after all the privations of the long campaign. The
city itself was one disordered mass of ruins, and immediate

by Hernando Cortez. 67

steps were necessary for its purification, or the consequences
might be fatal to the surviving conquerors. Cortez gave
directions for these works, and determined ultimately to build
his new capital on the site of the old one. As years rolled
by it was adorned with many beautiful and spacious buildings,
but the special memorials of the Aztec civilization-the
palaces, gardens, and temples, the pride of Mexico-were lost
for ever.
The conquest of Mexico was completed with the fall of the
capital, and, although some time elapsed before the more
distant tribes were actually subjugated, the Spaniards were
virtually masters of the country from the moment that they
marched into the deserted town.
The power and resources of Mexico might have sufficed to
deter any man from attempting to subdue it, unless with a
mighty armament. Cortez entered the country with a mere
handful of followers, many of whom were disaffected towards
him, and regarded his success with no friendly feelings. That
he won over to his side many such opponents is as great a
proof of his ability as is a victory over the enemy in open
field. Besides all this, until the final struggle was passed he
knew not how his conduct was regarded at the court of Spain;
and his cares must have been terribly augmented by the
consciousness that nothing, save victory, could excuse his
insubordination: that defeat would inevitably be followed by
disgrace. In no tragedy had man ever been portrayed as
fighting against circumstances that seemed more hopelessly
It is here then that we must recognize the true greatness of
the conqueror of Mexico, in the iron will and purpose that
proposed to themselves a single end, and steadily followed it
in defiance of all obstacles; in the bold courage that never
blenched before dangers; in the tenacity with 'which he
grasped a definite design, and followed it out to its full com-
pletion. The lust of conquest, the carnage, the cruelty, the
cunning, that marked his course-all these have found

68 The Conquest of Mexico.

apologists, but in truth they admit of no defence. They are so
many foul stains upon one whom the world has honoured
because of success, like other conquerors.
Four years had not elapsed since the destruction of Mexico
when a new city arose upon the ruins of the Aztec capital.
The plans for the new town were laid out on a scale of great
magnificence. Churches and palaces were erected in its
spacious squares and streets, which were carried out in
straight lines, so that the eye ran through them to rest upon
the dark background of the surrounding mountains. A vast
population was quickly gathered, and soon 2,000 Spanish
families were settled in it, and more than 30,000 natives
occupied the Indian quarter. All the activity of a thriving
population was aroused within its walls, and the terrible
desolation of the past was half forgotten in present prosperity.
The character of Cortez appears in a more favourable light
after the conclusion of the siege. Despite the opposition of
Velasquez and Fonseca he was confirmed in his authority by a
royal ordinance, dated October 15th, 1522, and before its arrival
Cortez was actively employed in consolidating his conquest.
He showed such practical sagacity in his designs for the
improvement of the country as raises him to the rank of a
statesman, far above the level of a mere ruthless destroyer.
Within three years several important expeditions to explore
the country had been fitted out, and a territory of some 1,200
miles on the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific had been reduced
under the yoke of Spain.
We have not space to relate the subsequent adventures and
exploits of Cortez, one of which was no less than the first dis-
covery of California.
Although he had been confirmed in his government, his
adversaries still continued to heap up charges against him,
and at length Charles ordered him to return to Spain that
he might clear himself from all accusations. He met with
every mark of attention and favour when he reached
Toledo, in 1529. He was made Marquis of the Valley of

Murder of the Duc d'Enghien. 69

Oaxaca, and large estates were conferred upon him, but
he was not permitted again to resume his government.
Perhaps he had become too powerful as a subject. At any
rate, on his return to Mexico, he was forbidden to approach
within thirty leagues of the capital, and after spending immense
sums in projects for further colonization and exploration, which
were never repaid by the Government, he returned, and died
in his native land, near Seville, on the 2nd December, 1547.


THE assassination of the Duc d'Enghien, the best and most
popular of the Bourbon princes, is one of the blackest of
the many dark deeds of the great Napoleon. His most en-
thusiastic admirers are silent about this murder, or try to find
excuses for what was generally regarded as a blunder as well
as a crime. They say that the first consul wished to prevent,
by an act of stern vengeance, the continuance of plots by the
royalists. They say that all the Bourbon princes must have
been aware of the conspiracies, one of which, that of Moreau,
Georges, and Pichegru, was at that time discovered. But even
Bourienne, the partial biographer and constant apologist of
Napoleon, has no defence to make for this atrocity. He says
in his Memoirs that "it is absolutely impossible that any
reasonable person can regard the Due d'Enghien as an accQfii-
plice in the conspiracy. He did not even know of it. He- was
shot on the 2Ist March, 1804, and the sentence of death on
Georges and his companions was not passed till the Ioth of
June. If this young Bourbon prince was an accomplice, why
had he not been arrested, and tried along with them ? His
name was never mentioned in the-course of that trial. It was
a base attempt of Napoleon to impose on his contemporaries
and posterity, by lending his authority to falsehoods which

70 Murder of the Duc d'Enghien.

were invented to screen him from the odium which will ever
be attached to his name for this atrocious act."
This is pretty plain speaking from M. Bourienne, but he
says also, that In his declarations at St. Helena," when he
reviewed many of the events of his career, "Napoleon en-
deavoured to free himself from this crime by stating that if he
had received any application from the prince, he would have
pardoned him." This may or may not have been, but, as
Bourienne remarks, the affair was hurried over with indecent
precipitation, and no time was allowed for any inquiry or
The duke was at Ettenheim, in the territories of the Grand
Duke of Baden, when he was arrested by a detachment of
gendarmerie on the I5th of March. He was taken to the
citadel of Strasbourg, where he was detained till the I8th,
awaiting further instructions from Paris. These orders must
have been given quickly, and promptly executed, for the
carriage which conveyed the unfortunate prince arrived at the
barrier on the morning of the 20th. Here it was kept five
hours, while consultation was probably going on as to what
should be done. It then departed by the exterior boulevards
on the road to Vincennes, where it. arrived at night. Soldiers
had meanwhile been despatched, who arrived also at night.
The same night a military commission assembled to try the
prisoner, or rather to condemn him, for it was a mock trial.
As Bourienne says, Every scene of this horrible affair took
place during the night; the sun did not even shine on its tragic
close." In every history and guide-book some account is given
of the cruel deed, but the details of that morning's work have
seldom been described as we find them in Lamartine's His-
tory of the Restoration of the Monarchy in France." It is a
most affecting narrative, and the stranger who is shown the
place at Vincennes where the poor prince fell, and the reader
of this record, must be filled with deeper pity for the victim, and
stronger indignation against his assassin. Here is Lamartine's
story of the tragic event:-

Murder of the Duc d'Enghien. 7I

"The prince was far from suspecting either so much rigour
or so much haste on the part of his judges. He did not doubt
that even a sentence of death, if awarded by the commission,
would give occasion for an exhibition of magnanimity on the
part of the First Consul. He had granted an amnesty to
emigrants taken with arms in their hands; how could it be
doubted then that he who pardoned obscure and culpable
exiles would not honour himself by an act of justice, or
clemency, towards an illustrious prince, beloved by all Europe,
and innocent of all crime ?
He had been taken back, after his interrogatories and his
appearance before the military commission, into the room
where he had slept. He entered it without exhibiting any
of that fright which prisoners experience in the anxiety and
uncertainty of their sentence. With a serene countenance
and unoccupied mind he conversed with his gendarmes, and
played with his dog. Lieutenant Noirot, who was on guard
over him, had formerly served in a regiment of cavalry com-
manded by a colonel who was a friend of the prince of Cond6.
He had also seen the Duke d'Enghien, when a child, sometimes
accompany his father to reviews and field days of the regi-
ment; and he reminded the prince of that period and these
circumstances of his youth. The duke smiled at these remi-
niscences, and renewed them himself by other recollections of
his infancy, which mingled with those of Noirot. He inquired,
with a curiosity full of interest, about the career of this officer
since that epoch, of the campaigns he had made, of the battles
in which he had been engaged, of the promotion he had
received, of his present rank, his expectations, and his par-
tiality for the service. He seemed to find a lively pleasure in
this conversation on the past with a brave officer, who spoke
to him with the accent and the heart of a man who would
gladly indulge in pity, were it not for the severity of duty.
A noise of footsteps, advancing slowly towards the chamber,
interrupted this agreeable and last indulgence of captivity. It
was the commandant of Vincennes, Harel, accompanied by the

72 Murder of the Duc d'Enghien.

brigadier of the gendarmerie of the village, Aufort. This friend
of Harel's had been permitted to remain in one of the com-
mandant's rooms, after having ordered the prince's supper,
and from thence he had heard or seen all the events of the
night. Harel, agitated and trembling at the mission he had
to fulfil, had permitted Aufort to follow and assist him in his
message to the prisoner.
They saluted the prince respectfully; but neither of them
had the firmness to acquaint him with the truth. The dejected
attitude and trembling voice of Harel alone revealed to the eye
and to the heart of the prince a fatal presentiment of the rigour
of his judges. He thought they now came for him only to hear
his sentence read. Harel desired him, on the part of the
tribunal, to follow him, and he went before with a lantern
in his hand, through the corridors, the passages, and the courts
it was necessary to cross, to arrive at the building called the
'Devil's Tower.' The interior of this tower contained the only
staircase and the only door descending to, and opening into,
the lowest moat. The prince appeared to hesitate two or
three times on going into this suspicious tower, like a victim
which smells the blood, and which resists and turns back its
head on crossing the threshold of a slaughter house.
Savary, while waiting till the prisoner had descended to
the place of execution, and till the detachments and firing
party had been drawn up on the ground, was warming him-
self, standing by Harel's fire, in the hall where the trial had
taken place. Hullin, after having sent off his proces verbal of
condemnation, was sitting at the table, with his back turned
towards Savary. Hoping that the sentence would be com-
muted by the power and clemency of the First Consul, he
began reading, in his own name and in the name of all his
colleagues, a letter to Buonaparte, to communicate to him the
desire that the accused had expressed of obtaining an audience
of him, and to supplicate him to remit a punishment, which
the rigour of their functions alone had forced them to award.
'What are you doing ?' said the man after Buonaparte's heart,

Murder of the Duc d'Enghien. 73

approaching Hullin. 'I am writing to the First Consul,' said
the president, 'to acquaint him with the request of the con-
demned, and the wishes of the council.' But Savary, taking
the pen from the hands of the president, said to him, 'Your
business is done; all the rest concerns me.'
Hullin yielded to the authority of the general, who had
the superior command of the castle, and arose, mortified at
being deprived of the privilege of recommending a prisoner
to mercy, which is inherent in all tribunals and military com-
missions. He thought that Savary claimed this privilege for
himself; and he complained to his colleagues of a despotism
which left the remorse more heavy on their consciences. He
then prepared to return with them to Paris.
Harel and Aufort preceded the duke in silence down the
steps of the narrow winding staircase, which descended to a
postern through the massy walls of this tower. The prince,
with an instinctive horror of the place, and of the depth
beneath the soil to which the steps were leading him, began
to think they were not conducting him before the judges, but
into the hands of murderers, or to the gloom of a dungeon.
He trembled in all his limbs, and convulsively drew back his
foot, as he addressed his guides in front:-' Where are you
conducting me ?' he demanded with a stifled voice. If it
is to bury me alive in a dungeon I would rather die this
'Sir,' replied Harel, turning round, 'follow me, and
summon up all your courage.'
The prince partly comprehended him, and followed.
They at length issued from the winding staircase through
a low postern, which opened on the bottom of the moat, and
continued walking for some time in the dark, along the foot of
the lofty walls of the fortress, as far as the basement of the
Queen's Pavilion. When they had turned the angle of this
pavilion, which had concealed another part of the moat behind
its walls, the prince suddenly found himself in front of the
detachment of the troops drawn up to witness his death. The

74 Murder of the Duc d'Enghien.

firing party, selected for the execution, was separated from the
rest; and the barrels of their muskets, reflecting the dull light
of some lanterns carried by a few of the attendants, threw
a sinister glare on the moat, the massy walls, and the newly-
dug grave. The prince stopped at a sign from his guides,
within a few paces of the firing party. He saw his fate at a
glance; but he neither trembled nor turned pale. A,slight and
chilling rain was falling from a gloomy sky, and a melancholy
silence reigned throughout the moat. Nothing disturbed the
horror of the scene but the whispering and shuffling feet of a
few groups of officers and soldiers who had collected upon the
parapets above, and on the drawbridge which led into the
forest of Vincennes.
Adjutant Pell6, who commanded the detachment, advanced,
with his eyes lowered, towards the prince. He held in his
hand the sentence of the military commission, which he read
in a low dull voice, but perfectly intelligible. The prince
listened, without making an observation or losing his firmness.
He seemed to have collected in an instant all his courage, and
all the military heroism of his race, to show his enemies that
he knew how to die. Two feelings alone seemed to occupy
him during the moment of intense silence which followed the
reading of his sentence; one was to invoke the aid of religion
to soothe his last struggle, and the other to communicate his
dying thoughts to her he was going to leave desolate on the
He accordingly asked if he could have the assistance of a
priest, but there was none in the castle; and though a few
minutes would suffice to call the cur6 of Vincennes, they were
too much pressed for time, and too anxious to avail themselves
of the night, which was to cover everything. The officers
nearest to him made a sign that he must renounce this con-
solation; and one brutal fellow, from the midst of a group,
called out, in a tone of irony,-' Do you wish then to die like
a Capuchin ?'
The prince raised his head with an air of indignation, and

Murder of the Duc d'Enghien. 75

turning towards the group of officers and gendarmes who had
accompanied him to the ground, he asked, in a loud voice, if
there was any one amongst them willing to do him one last
service. Lieutenant Noirot advanced from the group, and
approached him, thus sufficiently evincing his intention. The
prince said a few words to him in a low voice, and Noirot,
turning towards the side occupied by the troops, said :-
'Gendarmes, have any of you got a pair of scissors about
you ?' The gendarmes searched their cartridge boxes, and a
pair of scissors was passed from hand to hand to the prince.
He took off his cap, cut off one of the locks of his hair, drew a
letter from his pocket, and a ring from his finger; then folding
the hair, the letter, and the ring in a sheet of paper, he gave
the little packet, his sole inheritance, to Lieutenant Noirot,
charging him, in the name of pity for his situation and his
death, to send them to the young Princess Charlotte de Rohan,
at Ettenheim.
This love message being thus confided, he collected him-
self for a moment, with his hands joined, to offer up a last
prayer, and in a low voice recommended his soul to God.
He then made five or six paces to place himself in front of
the firing party, whose loaded muskets he saw glimmering at
a short distance. The light of a large lantern, containing
several candles, placed upon the little wall that stood over the
open grave, gleamed full upon him, and lighted the aim of the
soldiers. The firing party retired a few paces to a proper
distance, the adjutant gave the word to fire, and the young
prince, as if struck by a thunderbolt, fell upon the earth, with-
out a cry and without a struggle. At that moment the clock of
the castle struck the hour of three.
Hullin and his colleagues were waiting in the vestibule of
Harel's quarters for their carriage to convey them back to
Paris, and were talking with some bitterness of Savary's
refusal to transmit their letter to his master, when an unex-
pected explosion, resounding from the moat of the forest gate,
made them start and tremble, and taught them that judges

76 Napoleon's Abdication in 1814.

should never reckon upon anything but justice and their own
conscience. This still small voice pursued them through their
lives. The Duke d'Enghien was no more."
Within a few weeks Napoleon was Emperor of the French,
the proclamation by the Senate being dated I8th of May. A
succession of stirring events occupied the attention of the
nation, but the remembrance of the murder of the Due
d'Enghein will endure in history as long as the fame of the
victories of Marengo or Austerlitz.


THE abdication of Napoleon, and the departure from
Fontainebleau in 1814, is one of the most memorable
incidents in the story of the empire. The farewell to the
Old Guard has always been a favourite theme with artists
as well as authors. There was no doubt something of the
emotion of the man and of the soldier in parting with the
representatives of the army which had given him all his
power, but even in this scene there was the theatrical display
which delights the French people. After briefly reminding
the- soldiers of their military exploits, he said that he con-
sented to outlive himself in order to perpetuate their glory.
" I trust to write the deeds we have achieved together. Adieu,
mes enfans I would fain embrace you all. Let me at least
embrace your general and your colours."
Then followed a scene of dramatic effect, which caused the
oldest veterans to weep. The general in command, in absence
of any of the marshals, came forward, and the emperor em-
braced him, both sobbing, and the troops sobbing in sym-
pathy. "Now," said Napoleon, "bring me the Eagles." Some
grenadiers advanced with them. Napoleon pressed them to
his breast, and with broken accents exclaimed, "Dear Eagle,

Napoleon's Abdication in 1814. 77

may this last embrace vibrate for ever in the hearts of all my
faithful soldiers." A burst of weeping was heard from the
troops, and Napoleon again bade adieu to his army.
All this scene is familiar through history and art, but the
closing scene with the marshals, which compelled the abdi-
cation, is less known, and is not less worthy of record.
Lamartine has described this with his usual dramatic power,
and his account of the scene is as follows :-
"At noon the ordinary parade of the guards on duty took
place in the court of the palace. The rumour of Napoleon's
abdication, which was rapidly spread during the night by his
marshals, as if to give him this indirect summons of destiny
through the public voice, spread along the ranks and over the
palace. These rumours at length reached the ears of Napoleon,
and produced a paleness over his features; for he anticipated
a more direct summons from those who in their hearts were
longing for his fall. The tragical scenes of the Lower Empire,
and of the palace of Paul the First, floated in his imagination.
He yielded within himself to necessity; but, outwardly affect-
ing the confidence of incontestable command, he mounted his
horse in the midst of his generals, and reviewed his detach-
ments in silence. Sorrow, doubt, and pity were strongly
marked on the rough features of the soldiers. At this moment
an aide-de-camp of Marmont's arrived full speed from Essonne;
he dismounted, delivered his despatches, and divulged among
the group that surrounded him the news of the emperor's
dethronement by the Senate. This intelligence passed from
mouth to mouth amongst the marshals, and through the silent
ranks of the soldiery. Some it exasperated, others it con-
founded, and it rejoiced a few; but to the greater number it
offered a door open to ingratitude and infidelity. The review
was a gloomy one, and terminated without the customary cries
of loyalty and affection. It was now evident to Napoleon that
his orders had been treated with contempt, and that all eyes
were turned towards Paris for a signal which should decide
between him and the Senate. He dismounted, pale and care-

78 Napoleon's Abdication in 1814.

worn, at the bottom of the grand staircase in the palace, and
made a sign with his hand to the marshals and the generals
that he did not wish to be accompanied into his apartments.
His lieutenants looked at each other; and, mutually encouraged
by a single glance, they paid no attention to his sign, but
rapidly followed him, as if with their customary respect,
and entered immediately after him the saloon leading to his
cabinet. The emperor, on entering his apartments, with
a determined voice ordered the head-quarters to advance to
Ponthierry, on the road to Essonne. This he thought would
be a tacit order to his marshals also to follow him with their
main divisions. The marshals, however, who had followed
him to the very last position to which he appeared desirous of
retreating, formed before him a group of enigmatical faces.
Undecided between habitual respect and the audacity of an
unwonted resolution, their features revealed the ambiguity
of the part they played, ready to bow respectfully if the
emperor would comprehend their significant gestures and
silent importunity, but ready to enforce their object, if he
persisted in not understanding them. The long silence which
thus ensued between the emperor and his lieutenants was
the most solemn dialogue of the scene. Napoleon consulted
by his looks the eyes of his officers, who also consulted his in
a like manner, each appearing to wait for the other to develop
their intentions. This, however, Napoleon did not yet dream
of doing, while his lieutenants trembled at the prospect of
being forced to open the conference. The mortification of
waiting in vain, increased by the settled intention of effecting
their object, excited the rage and impatience of the military
chiefs, till at length, despairing to convince but determined to
achieve, they were about to declare themselves.
'I rely upon you, gentlemen,' said Napoleon at length,
hastening to anticipate them by a word to which they had
so often responded, and which required some sign of acqui-
escence. The marshals, however, instead of retiring respect-
fully, as usual on such occasions, to execute the orders they


Napoleon's Abdication in 1814. 79

received, drew close together, and firmly fixing their feet on
the floor, showed, by this attitude, their resolution to remain.
Napoleon was agitated, but restrained his feelings, till Marshal
Ney, whose numerous exploits had given him the right of
expressing himself with more freedom than the others, ex-
claimed, 'That not a single sword should leave the scabbard
to effect the useless and insane crime of a desperate ambition
against the country.' Napoleon regarded him with reproachful
astonishment. This was the first truth he had heard during
ten years of service; and coming from the soul .of one of his
most heroic companions, it had the accent of a revolt and the
bitterness of an abandonment. He was thunderstruck and
disconcerted, as he had been on the I8th Brumaire, by
the voices and gestures of the representatives at St. Cloud.
Napoleon, in fact, required an army between himself and the
truth. He could not combat audacity hand to hand.
Other generals, Oudinot and Lefebvre, supported, with all.
the energy of abrupt speech and indomitable will, the declara-
tion of the marshal. The faces, the tone, the imperatively
extended arms and pointed fingers of the officers, the low
murmurs, the threatening looks, the broken words scarcely
checked on the lips, the stamping of feet and the clatter
of sabres on the floor, seemed to indicate to Napoleon that
matters were fast verging to extremities, and that the terror he
had so long inspired was at length recoiling upon himself.
He, nevertheless, again tried his moral power: he raised his
brow, which had bent beneath the keenest reproaches, and
again dismissing his lieutenants by a gesture, 'The army at
least-will that follow me?' he said with a bitter smile.
'The army,' replied the marshals, in a more vehement tone,
'will obey its generals.' This was turning against his own
heart the sword he had placed in their hands. 'Napoleon felt
himself disarmed. It only remained for him to set at defiance
his companions in glory, in the most insulting manner, by
clearing a passage through the group that pressed around
him, and by rushing out on the terrace of the court to call

80 Napoleon's Abdication in 1814.

upon his grenadiers to avenge their emperor. But here, as
at St. Cloud, his foot, his heart, his voice failed him. He
crossed his arms on his breast, bent down his head, appeared
to reflect a long time in silence, then composed his features
to hide his humiliation; and in the tone of a man who volun-
tarily seeks counsel of his friends, instead of submitting him-
self to their will through force : Well,' he said to them, 'what
ought I to do in your opinion ?'
'Abdicate!' exclaimed, in a rough and unanimous voice,
the marshals nearest to him.
'Yes, there remains for you, for us, for our country, no
other course, no other means of safety than your abdication,'
exclaimed the others.
And see what you have gained by not following the advice
of your friends, when they wished you to make peace,' said
Marshal Lefebvre.
A general murmur of approbation revealed to Napoleon that
he had no further hope or even pity to expect in all these
hearts. He heard, though he feigned not to hear, words which
revealed the long hidden depths of his soul. He saw that the
resentment of the nation overflowed even from the lips of its
last preservers. No commiseration concealed from him their
ingratitude. Defection assumed the accent of patriotism.
Vulgar minds, that have cringed the lowest before prosperity,
conduct themselves with the utmost insolence before mis-
fortune. Military bluntness is then dignified by the name
of frankness ; yet this tardy frankness is often but the revenge
of long servility. It was not spared to Napoleon. In a few
moments he was overwhelmed with those voices which had
been so long smothered with forced adulation. He merited
this punishment from that public opinion which he himself
had so much abused. But was it the recipients of his own
favours that should have inflicted it ?
Napoleon "submitted himself, not to their counsels, but to
destiny, which had disarmed him. 'I will present to you my
abdication,-leave. me for a moment to write it,' he said.

Napoleon's Abdication in 1814. 8I

The marshals withdrew towards the door of the narrow closet,
without losing sight of the emperor. He sat down before a
small table covered with green cloth. He took a pen, reflected
a moment, and then weighing the words in his mind, he wrote
deliberately, but with a trembling hand, his abdication."
This paper he handed to Caulaincourt, the best loved and
most trusted of his marshals. He was leaving with the others,
but the emperor asked him to stay. As soon as they were
alone he said, These men have neither heart nor conscience.
I am conquered less by fortune, than by the selfishness and
ingratitude of these my comrades in arms. It is hideous.
Now all is ended. Leave me, my friend."
Caulaincourt had still in his hands the paper on which the
abdication was written. He has left recollections of these
events, and describes with graphic power the incidents of this
scene at Fontainebleau, so full of importance for France, and
so full of agony for its ruler. "Never," he says, "did the
emperor appear to me so truly great." Next morning, at
sunrise, Caulaincourt set out for Paris, to convey the document
to the Council of the Allies. It was by the influence of Alex-
ander of Russia that Elba was chosen as the place of exile.
The abdication was in the following terms:-" The allied
sovereigns having declared that the Emperor Napoleon'is the
sole obstacle to the re-establishment of a general peace in
Europe, the Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares
that he renounces, for himself and his heirs, the throne of
France and Italy; and that there is no personal sacrifice, not
even that of life itself, which he is not willing to make for the
interests of France."



T HE clumsy firearms of former times were not more
different from the modern arms of precision, than were
the slow ships different from the swift vessels of our day. I
do not 'refer to steamboats, which are a separate class, but
to sailing-ships, with their wonderful improvement, both as to
construction and seamanship.
Columbus started from the Spanish port of Palos with his
three famous ships on Friday, August 3rd, 1492. He does
not seem to have had superstition about Friday, as many sailors
still have, and the result of his expedition is not on the side
of unlucky days. But it is only the slowness of speed that
we are here concerned with. Columbus did not set foot on
terra firma in the New World till Friday, October I2th, the
voyage thus taking sixty-nine days.
Now, in contrast to the old voyage of the caravels of
Columbus, let us look at three other vessels, crossing the
Atlantic from America to Europe, nearly four hundred years
after the discovery of the New World.
In I85I, the year of the first great International Exhibition,
the far-famed yacht America arrived in English waters, and
caused no little sensation by carrying off the prize in all the
sailing matches of the season. It was plain that our ship-
builders and our yachting nien had something to learn from
the other side of the Atlantic.
In 1866, the great "ocean yacht race" came as a new
surprise. The Henrietta, Fleetwing, and Vesta contested this
race, from Sandy Hook Bar, New York, to Cowes, Isle of
Wight, no time allowed, and the first arrived to win. The
Henrietta and Fleetwing were schooner-built keel boats, the
Vesta was what is called a centre board vessel,-that is, fitted
with a shifting keel, which could be drawn up at pleasure, an
advantage when sailing before the wind with a light breeze,
but not so safe in a rough sea, with foul or head wind.

S i


A Fifteen- Thousand-Mile Ocean Ra.e. 83

The Henrietta carried twenty-two seamen, besides her
sailing-master, several experienced yachtsmen, and her owner,
Mr. James G. Bennet (of the New York Herald), twenty-
eight souls all told. The other yachts had each twenty-two
on board.
The race was not for honour only, but a sweep of 30,000
dollars each was entered into, the winner to pocket the whole,
a gain of somewhere near 1o,ooo.
They started December i th, 1866, at I P.M., on a bright,
clear, frosty day. An immense flotilla of steamers, yachts, and
all manner of craft went down the bay to witness the start, which
took place amidst multitudinous huzzahing, and the strains
of Yankee Doodle and "The Star-spangled Banner from
countless bands.
The Henrietta ran 255 miles in the first twenty-four hours
from the start, and afterwards averaged fourteen knots an
hour throughout the voyage. Very heavy weather was en-
countered half-way across, and they had to lay to for some
hours. She kept on the same tack all through, hardly veering
ten miles from a straight line drawn on the chart, from Sandy
Hook till she sighted the Needles. Passing this point on the
afternoon of Christmas Day, she reached Cowes the same
evening, completing the voyage in thirteen days, twenty-two
hours, forty-six minutes. The Fleetwing came in only one
hour and twenty minutes later, and the Vesta at 4 A.M. next
morning; so that it was a marvellously close race over a
distance of three thousand miles.
But the most memorable of all ocean races is one recorded
by Captain Maury, of the United States navy, to whose great
work on The Physical Geography of the Sea" science and
navigation are so much indebted. The splendid clipper-ships
in the Chinese tea trade have often had exciting races, from
Canton to the Thames, for the arrival of the first cargo of the new
crop is each year a matter of keen competition. In the log-books
of many trading vessels and pleasure yachts the records may
be found of equally exciting runs, but Captain Maury's story

84 A Fifteen- Thousand-Mile Ocean Race.

has the advantage of being the detailed and scientific record
of what he himself considers the most remarkable ocean race
ever described. We give it in his own words, from the American
edition of his great work, published at Washington in 1853.
"From New York to San Francisco is the great race-course of
the ocean : it is fifteen thousand miles in length. Some of the
most glorious trials of speed and prowess that the world ever
witnessed have taken place over it. Here the modern clipper-
ship-the perfection of naval architecture-has been sent,
guided by the lights of science, to contend with the elements,
to outstrip steam, and astonish the world.
The most celebrated and famous race that has ever been
run came off upon this course. It was in the autumn
of 1852, when navigators were beginning fully to reap the
benefits of these researches with regard to the winds and
currents, and other facts connected with the physical geography
of the sea, that four splendid new clipper-ships put to sea from
New York, bound for California. They were ably commanded,
and, as they passed the bar at Sandy Hook, one by one, and at
various intervals of time, they presented really a most magnifi-
cent spectacle. The names of these ships and their masters
were the Wild Pigeon, Captain Putnam; the John Gilpin,
Captain Doane; the Flying Fish, Captain Nickels; and the
Trade Wind, Captain Webber. Like steeds that know their
riders, they were handled with the most exquisite skill and
judgment, and in such hands they bounded out upon the "glad
waters" most gracefully. Each, being put upon her mettle
from the start, was driven at full speed over a course that it
would take them three long months to run.
The Wild Pigeon sailed October 12th; the John Gilpin, Octo-
ber 29th, the Flying Fish, November Ist; and the Trade Wind,
November 14th. It was the season for the best passages. Each
one was provided with the 'Wind and Current Charts.'
Each one had evidently studied them attentively; and each one
was resolved to make the most of them, and do his best. All
ran against time: but the John Gilpin and the Flying Fish for

A Fifteen- Thousand-Mile Ocean Race. 85

the whole course, and the Wild Pigeon for part of it, ran neck
and neck, the one against the other, and each against all. It
was a sweepstake with these ships around Cape Horn and
through both hemispheres.
Wild Pigeon led the other two out of New York, the one by
seventeen, the other by twenty days. But luck and chances of
the winds seem to have been against her from the start. As
soon as she had taken her departure she fell into a streak of
baffling winds, and then into a gale, which she fought against
and contended with for a week, making but little progress the
while ; she then had a time of it in crossing the horse latitudes.
After having been nineteen days out, she had logged no less
than thirteen of them as days of calms and baffling winds;
these had brought her no farther on her way than the parallel
of 260 north in the Atlantic. Thence she had a fine run to the
equator, crossing it between 33 and 34 west, the thirty-second
day out. She was unavoidably forced to cross it so far west;
for only two days before, she crossed 5 north in 3o0-an ex-
cellent position.
In proof that the Pigeon had accomplished all that skill
could do and the chances against her would permit, we have
the testimony of the barque Hazard, Captain Pollard. This
vessel, being bound to Rio at the same time, followed close
after the Pigeon. The Hazard is an old hand with the charts;
she had already made six voyages to Rio with them for her
guide. This was the longest of the six, the mean of which
was twenty-six and a-half days. She crossed the line this
time in 340 30', also by compulsion, having crossed 5 north in
31o. But the fourth day after crossing the equator she was
clear of Cape St. Roque, while the Pigeon cleared it in three
So far, therefore, chances had turned up against .the Pigeon,
in spite of the skill displayed by Putnam as a navigator; for
the Gilpin and the Fish came booming along, not under better
management, indeed, but with a better run of luck and fairer
courses before them. In this stretch they gained upon her-

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