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the capital of the empire; in this city there was a celebrated temple of the Sun, the object of sacred worship with the Peruvians; and this imaginary divinity was served by virgins of the royal blood. "
A body of enterprizing and avaricious adventurers from Spain, tempted by the rumour that Peru abounded in gold and silver and precious stones, resolved, in the year 1524, to attempt the conquest of it. And, extraordinary as the fact may appear, this extensive empire was subdued by a body of a few hundred men, commanded by three persons of mean birth, Francis Pizarro, the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman; Almagro, a foundling; and Lucque, a priest and schoolmaster of Panama. A civil war in the country, the consequence of a disputed succession to the monarchy, enabled the superior weapons and military discipline of the invaders to overcome every obstacle, and at length to subjugate the country to the Spanish arms *
Pizarro, who in the course of his operations, had received important succours from Spain, was appointed by that government to the command of the most important pravinces of Peru; and Almagro received the command of a district adjoining upon that of Pizarro towards the south. They subsequently quarrelied; and a long and bloody contest took place, which terminated in the destruction of them both. It was not till after the year 1548, that tranquillity was restored, and that the authority of the Spanish government was as firmly established here as in the other colonies of Spain.
The climate of Peru is very various. The plains are temperate, the valleys are sultry, and the mountains are covered with snow; but, in no particular place is there found a sudden transition from intense heat to extreme cold. A transition of this kind may, however, be experienced by a change of situation; for, while the warmth of summer prevails in the plains,
* See an account of this conquest in “ Biographical Conver, sations on Eminent Voyagers," p. 77 to 87.
the most piercing cold is felt on the mountains. Consequently the temperature of the climate is according to the high or low situation of the country. Near Lima spring commences about the end of the year, and winter disappears with the clouds that introduced it. The heat of summer is tempered by winds from the south, autumn is short, and winter begins in June or July. During this season a fog spreads itself, from north to south, through nearly the whole country. In Lower Peru, a district which extends through nearly ten degrees of latitude, it is said that no rain ever falls. The atmosphere, however, is perpetually loaded with fogs, which every night descend in the form of dew, and refresh the plants and grass. Hurricanes, thunder, and lightning are here little known; but among the Cordilleras rain and tempests are common. Earthquakes are so frequent and so destructive in their effects, that there are few places on that extensive coast which do not exbibit memorials of those dreadful convulsions of the earth.
Two chains of mountains traverse Peru, from south to north, in directions nearly parallel. One of these is the central chain of South America, or the Cordillera of the Andes ; and the other, which is much lower, is called the Cordillera of the coast. It is between the latter and the coast, that the country, called Lower Peru, lies, forming an inclined plane, from ten to twenty leagues in breadth, and consisting, for the most part, of sandy deserts. The country between the two cordilleras is called the Sierra, or High Peru. This consists of barren mountains and rocks, intermixed with fertile and cultivated valleys.
The soil is not every where of equal fertility. From Tumbez to Lima, a space of two hundred and fifty leagues, the whole district is so barren that no herb is to be found, except in plains and valleys to which streams of water can be conveyed. Hence it appears how little fertile land there is in Peru; and how ill adapted it is by nature for becoming great or opulent
by its agricultural productions. The soil of the provinces in the interior is, however, more fertile than that of the country near the coast.
The want of roads, bridges, and canals, renders it difficult, in Peru, to convey bulky articles from the spot where they are raised. The want also of a market is an insuperable obstacle to any exertions for the improvement of the agriculture of this country. There are not even "carts nor waggons for the conveyance of commodities; nor are there any other means of transporting them than on the backs of mules; and the gangs of mules that are employed for this purpose, are often compelled, by the want of roads, to travel over fields, where they trample under foot and devour the corn, and destroy the fences. Several of the coldest parts of Peru abound in forests; and in those that are more mild there is a perpetual succession of leaves, flowers, and fruit. In some of the warm districts are cultivated the sugar-cane, and other productions adapted to countries that lie under the torrid zone.
Many of the mountains of Peru are of prodigious height. Several of them have been volcanos, and some are yet such, having their sides covered with pumice-stones, and calcined earth. The summits of most of them are perpetually covered with snow. From the boundary where the snow never melts, nothing is seen for six or eight hundred feet, except naked rocks and dry sand. A little lower the rocks are covered with moss and heath: lower still there is a species of loose grass; and, lastly, in descending to spots which are about two miles above the level of the sea, snow is sometimes known to fall, even within the tropical regions.
The mountains of less height, which occupy the central parts of Peru, abound in mines of gold, silver, copper, and other metals; and the most valuable and productive mines are always found in mountains of the most desolate and unpromising appearance. The busi
ness of mining is bere carried on to a great extent. In the year 1791, there were wrought sixty. nine mines of gold, seven hundred and eighty-four of silver, four of quicksilver, four of copper, and twelve of lead; and the average profits of the gold and silver mines of Peru, estimated on ten years preceding 1789, amounted to nearly three millions and a balf of dollars per anpum. There is a famous mine of quicksilver at Huancavelica. This mine was discovered in 1566. It was purchased by the king of Spain four years afterwards, and, since that time, has continued to be a part of the royal domains.
The commerce of Peru is carried on by land with the provinces of La Plata; and by sea with the other Spanish colonies and the mother country. The chief exports are gold and silver, wine, brandy, sugar, Jesuits' bark, salt, and some kinds of coarse woollen manufactures. Its trade with Spain was carried on by Portobello and Panama, till 1748, when, instead of the journey by land to the former of these places, and the voyage from the latter, by the circuitous route of the East Indies and the Cape of Good Hope, vessels called register ships, conveyed the produce by a nearer course, round Cape Horn. Ships of this description continued to be employed in the trade of Peru with the mother country, till the war for American independence, during which there was little intercourse between Spain and this distant colony. At the peace of 1783, a system of free trade began to be carried into effect. According to this system, an unlimited intercourse, without licenses, or other restrictions, was permitted between certain ports of Spain and Callao, and a few ports of America. The result has been beneficial to Spain, and highly favourable to Peru. The inhabitants of the latter country have, in consequence, enjoyed foreign luxuries and conveniences at a much cheaper rate and in greater abundance than before: their industry has been excited, the valae of their exports increased, and the produce of their mines has been nearly doubled.
The present population of Peru bas been estimated to amount to upwards of one million of persons ; about four-tenths of which are Indians, and the remainder European-Spaniards, Creoles, or descendants from Spaniards, negroes, mestees, mulattoes, and samboes. The European-Spaniards are either persons in office, employed in the military, civil, or ecclesiastical departments of the state; or they are adventurers, without fortune, credit, or connexions, who, in defiance of the laws, have escaped to America, in the expectation of acquiring wealth and consequence. The greater number of these perish miserably from the effects of their poverty and vices. Of the former class, many return to Spain, to enjoy the fortunes they have acquired; but there are a few who marry and leave families in Peru. The Creoles are excluded from most of the high offices of trust and honour; but many of them are admitted into the church, others practise law or physic, and others enter into commercial business. Some of the creole families have even been elevated to the rank of nobility. They are, in general, mild and humane in their dispositions, and hospitable and kind in their conduct. But, with all this excellence of character, they are extremely vain, and fond of show and parade. They entertain lofty notions of their own superiority, and great contempt for people of other casts.
The Peruvian Indians are said to have very limited capacities, and to have little or no variety in their characters. They are melancholy from temperament, timid and dispirited from oppression, dastardly in moments of danger, savage and cruel after victory, and severe and inexorable in the exercise of authority. They live in awe of the Spaniards, and are docile and obedient to their commands; but they secretly dislike them and their society. They are of distrustful tempers, and suspect that every one who does them a kindness, bas a design to impose upon them. They are stout and robust, but are lazy, dirty, and improvident,