In the present eventful period, while Spain, once the terror of Europe, seems in danger of sinking under the tyrannical grasp of the usurper of France, a vast revolution appears about to elevate the Spanish American colonies into extensive independent states; if the jealous collision of rights, interests, and pretensions between the various races of their inhabitants do not plunge them into all the horrors of civil war and anarchy. The crisis is peculiarly interesting to all the friends of humanity, and it is to be wished that the present commotions may soon subside into a permanent state of peace and good government, advantageous to all the best interests of the colonists, and beneficial to the commerce and industry of the rest of the world.
Before proceeding to the abridged history of events in Peru, subsequent to the departure of the president De la Gasca, the following reflections on the state of manners among the early Spanish settlers in that opulent region, during the period of which we have already given the history, as drawn by the eloquent pen of the illustrious Historian of America, have appeared most worthy of insertion.
[Footnote 43: Hist of America, II. p. 393.]
“Though the Spaniards who first invaded Peru were of the lowest order in society, and the greater part of those who afterwards joined them were persons of desperate fortune, yet in all the bodies of troops brought into the field by the different leaders who contended for superiority, not one acted as a hired soldier or followed his standard for pay. Every adventurer in Peru considered himself as a conqueror, entitled by his services to an establishment in that country which had been acquired by his valour. In the contests between the rival chiefs, each chose his side as he was directed by his own judgment or affections. He joined his commander as a companion of his fortune, and disdained to degrade himself by receiving the wages of a mercenary. It was to their sword, not to pre-eminence in office or nobility of birth that most of the leaders whom they followed were indebted for their elevation; and each of their adherents hoped, by the same means, to open a way for himself to the possession of power and wealth.”
“But though the troops in Peru served without, any regular pay, they were raised at an immense expence. Among men accustomed to divide the spoil of an opulent country, the desire of obtaining wealth acquired incredible force. The ardour of pursuit augmented in proportion to the hope of success. Where all were intent on the same object, and under the dominion of the same passion, there was but one mode of gaining men, or of securing their attachment. Officers of name and influence, besides the promise of future establishments, received large gratuities in hand from the chief with whom they engaged. Gonzalo Pizarro, in order to raise a thousand men, advanced five hundred thousand pesos. Gasca expended in