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on Cortés, though he had a wife at Cuba. When his wife dies, Marina might be lawfully married to him, if he would ; she had borne him a son, the unfortunate Don Martin Cortés. But he did not want an Indian woman for his wife, whatever might be her services, her love for him, or the connection between them, or the children she had borne him. He must wed one of the titled dames of Spain, daughter of the Count de Aguilar, beautiful and “ much younger than himself,” and Cortés“ gave Marina away to a Castilian knight, Don Juan Xamarillo, to whom she was wedded as his lawful wife,” says Mr. Prescott, who makes no comment on this transaction, and does not even mention it as one of the “ errors ” of his hero!
Mr. Prescott takes sides with the Spaniards, passes over much of their cruelty in silence, and often apologizes for what he relates, suggesting some idle circumstance which takes off the edge of indignation from the reader, careless, superficial, and requiring a moral stimulus from his instructor. In his narrative he degrades the Mexicans fighting for their homes and the altars of their gods, not less fondly cherished than the homes and the faith of Christians. The Spaniards are brave, chivalrous, heroic. Their victims, he tells us, "filled the air with wild cries and howlings like a herd of ravenous wolves disappointed of their prey. (Vol. III., p. 117.) In the attack on Mexico, a Spanish ensign narrowly escaped falling into the hands of his foe: “The barbarians,' says Mr. Prescott,“ set up a cry of disappointed rage.” (P. 146.) Again, at sight of the enemy and of the sacrifice of prisoners going on in the temple, the Mexicans“ like vultures maddened by the smell of distant carrion, set up a piercing cry. (P. 155.) The efforts of Guatemozin to defend his capital
menaces and machinatione” (p. 162); the Mexicans raged with impotent anger, as they beheld their lordly edifices, their temples, all they had been accustomed to venerate, thus swept away.” (P. 171.) If we remember aright, the Jews mourned a little when Zion was trodden under foot of the nations, but we should not envy the heart of the historian who should say of the Jeremiahs of that time, that they “raged with impotent anger.” Even Cortés thought it a sad sight, (Que era lástima cierto de lo ver,)“but we were forced to it.” When driven to despair, some Mexicans, valiant as Leonidas,
"in the public breach devoted stood, And for their country's cause were prodigal of blood.”
They would not ask for mercy; Mr. Prescott says they “ glared on the invaders with the sullen ferocity of the wounded tiger, that the huntsman has tracked to his forest
(P. 176.). Even the heroism of Guatemozin is only a “haughty spirit.”
The Spaniards established a form of slavery worse than that of the heathens. If the Mexicans did little for their vassals — what did their conquerors do ? Mr. Prescott passes over the horrors of the slavery established there ; excuses the founders for their offence : Columbus had done the same! “ Three Hieronymite friars and an eminent Jesuit, all men of learning and unblemished piety," were sent out to investigate the condition of the natives. They justified slavery: the Indians would not work without compulsion ; unless they worked, they would not be connected with the whites, and without that connection would not be converted,” and of course not "saved.” Slavery, therefore, was their only road to escape damnation. We must confess our amazement that a man of liberal culture, in the midst of à Christian country, writing of such cruelties as the Spaniards practised on their victims, reducing millions of freemen to such a condition, should have no more condemnation for such atrocities. How shall we explain the fact ? Can it be that the commercial atmosphere of Boston had stifled the natural and nobler breath of the historian? We know not.
There was one Spaniard who steadfastly opposed the enslaving of the Indians — the Dominican Las Casas, a man who all his life sought continually one great end, the welfare of the Indians. Mr. Prescott bestows well-deserved encomiums upon him ; often praises him; yet we think he is the only author of all whom Mr. Prescott quotes that can complain of the smallest injustice at his hands.
It now remains to speak briefly of the form of the work. The division into books and chapters is sufficiently good. The style is clear and simple, though a little less carefully labored than in his earlier work. The references are abundant, and, so far as we have examined them, distinguished by the same accuracy which we noticed in the former History, Occasionally there is a little harmless pedantry. Thus, (Vol. I., p. 287,) in the text, he says, that Cortés told his men to aim at the faces of the foe, and in the margin quotes Lucan, to remind us that the veterans of Cæsar hit the dandies of Pompey's
army in the same way. But such things are rare, and by no means disagreeable.
He often refers events to Providence which other men would be content with ascribing to human agency. Thus he says, “it was beneficently ordered by Providence that the land [of the Mexicans) should be delivered over to another race, who would rescue it from the brutish superstitions that daily extended wider and wider.” (Vol. I., p. 85.) But in the same manner “it was beneficently ordered by Providence” that merchant ships should be delivered over to Admiral Drake, or Captain Kidd ; that the Indians of Massachusetts should butcher the white men at Deerfield, and the whites should carry the head of King Philip on a pole into Plymouth and sell his family into slavery. Again, speaking of Cortés, he tells us, “ Providence reserved him for higher ends," and that he was the instrument selected by Providence to scatter terror among the barbarian monarchs of the western world, and lay their empire in the dust." (Pp. 236, 260.) Montezuma" was the sad victim of destiny." (Vol. II., p. 351.) But all this providential action is in behalf of the invaders. Causa victrix placet diis.
The figures of speech are commonplace; we do not remember one that is original, except that already quoted, in which the Mexicans are compared to “vultures maddened by the smell of distant carrion. Few of them are elegant or expressive enough to deepen the impression of the simple statement of the fact. One figure, to “ spread like wildfire,” which is a favorite in the History of Spain, appears also and frequently in this work. Others are poor and common :- to crowd “like a herd of deer," or a “herd of wolves"; to be “pale as death” ; to "rush like a torrent”; to swarm
like famished harpies," and to be led “like sheep to the slaughter.” They add little to the freshness or beauty of the style, and do not impress us very forcibly with the originality of the author.
Here we take leave of the historian, for the present, with the same impression as that left on us by the former work.*
* See No. VI. of this journal, Art. IV., p. 248, ad finem.
ART. V. - ANGELUS SILESIUS, THE CHERUBIC
RELIGION is the life and soul of any age and of any man, even of those we are apt to charge with indifferentism or atheism. But the soul is often so locked up in the body, like the spark in the flint, that it requires the hard steel-stroke of adversity to draw it forth. Hence it comes that periods which in all other respects are most barren and desolate, not uncommonly exhibit the tree of religious life in fullest bloom.
German History presents no drearier page than that of the first half of the seventeenth century. The empire distracted with a long and furious civil and religious war; Emperors and Princes, Catholics and Protestants, South and North, in arms against each other; the peasant and citizen pillaged and tortured and murdered by a cruel and lawless soldiery, headed by cruel and lawless generals; the stranger invading the frontiers; Swedish and French armies lording it on German ground, and laying waste the land ; the national glory and honor stained; the Church of Christ profaned; all laws, human and divine, trodden under foot by a cruel, avaricious, hypocritical selfishness, which, vainly trying to slake its thirst, was deluging the country with blood. And yet, in the midst of this waste howling wilderness, where all obscene and angry passions, like so many jackals and hyenas, were prowling about, we find here and there an oasis, full of refreshing shade, and watered with a clear fresh spring, around which sweetest flowers were blowing, breathing their perfume into the desert air. Poetry, faithful to her mission of bliss, was still there to throw her magic veil over the dreary desert, to sing the weary and disconsolate heart to sleep, and with her enchanter's wand called up before the dreaming eye a perspective of peace and happiness, which, like a sloping Jacob's ladder, began on earth, but gradually lost itself in heaven. Never since the times of the Minnesingers, that is, during more than three hundred years, had Germany possessed such a number of good and earnest men, who, if they were not poets in the highest sense of the word, could at least, without arrogance, apply to themselves the words of Goethe:
“ Und wenn der Mensch in seiner Qual verstummt
Opitz, Fleming, Gryphius, Logan, Spee, Simon Dach, Gerhard, constitute a new era in the history of German poetry. The night was dark indeed; but there were some bright and blessed stars which pierced the black cloud-wall, and shone as “lights in darkness,” giving assurance to the doubting heart that, though veiled for the moment, heaven and its hopes still remained. Such were those deep and earnest spirits who, from the inwardness and unearthliness of their life and the twilight glimmerings in their thinking, now in praise and now in blame, have been called Mystics.
The natural tendency of all life, when left to its own impulse, is to unfold itself like the flower and to pour the ripened energies of body and soul into the lap of mother Earth. But when, as in the times we were speaking of, this inward impulse meets with outward obstacles, when a cold and stormy world checks and chills the genial current of the soul ; then the soul — for live and act it must, in spite of all obstacles, - recoils upon itself, and turns inwards its faculties, its eyes and hands, which had been turned outwards, and tries to realize, in an ideal world of its own, the plans which it could not realize in the actual.
" Ist die Welt gleich kalt und enge,
Bleibt das Herz doch warm und weit,
It is but natural that we should know little about the outward circumstances of men who were dead to the world and whose life was hid in God.
The few notices we have been able to gather concerning the man whose name heads this article, and who occasioned these introductory remarks, are contained in the following lines.
JOHANNES SCHEFFLER, generally called by his adopted literary name, JOHANNES ANGELUS SILESIUS, was born about the year 1624, in a town of Silesia, it is uncertain whether in Breslau or Glatz. His parents were Lutherans, and he was, accordingly, brought up in the doctrines of that church. But his deep and fervent soul could not long be satisfied with the barren formulas of school theology and the idle logomachies