Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/395

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

word can not be applied to cannibalism, for once a man is dead it is not more cruel to eat his body than to bury or burn it.

The Inquisition had made the Spaniards callous to barbarity, but cannibalism was a different matter; they were not accustomed to it, had never before met with it. Rough sailors, relentless bigots as they were, who at home doubtless would have attended a bullfight or an auto-da-fe with equal pleasure, they could not stomach cannibalism, and it was with loathing and unspeakable disgust that in the round, bell-like houses of an Indian village they often found.

in their kitchens man's flesh, duck's flesh, and goose flesh, all in one pot, and other on the spits ready to be laid on the fire. Entering into their inner lodgings, they found fagots of the bones of men's arms and legs, which they reserve to make heads for their arrows, because they lack iron; the other bones they cast away when they have eaten the flesh. They found likewise the head of a young man fastened to a post, and yet bleeding.

By the people supposed to be of Arrowauk descent the Spaniards were generally received with submission and fear, the people mistaking them for Caribs, except in a part of Jamaica, where the inhabitants at first offered a feeble resistance. In some instances the new arrivals were even worshiped as gods. Such was the case in the Bahamas and in Haiti, where ancient prophecies had taught the Indians to expect the arrival of

Maguacochios—i. e., men clothed in apparel, and armed with such swords as should cut a man in sunder at one stroke, under whose yoke their posterity should be subdued.

The existence of these prophecies seems not to have excited any great surprise or to have caused much speculation as to their origin in the minds of the Spaniards. Such apparently miraculous foresight on the part of the Indians the new arrivals easily, and to themselves satisfactorily, accounted for by the fact that the barbarians were worshipers of the Evil One, and that their priests and idols, or zemis, were enabled to prophesy because of their intercourse and familiarity with devils. But, notwithstanding much that was objectionable and false, the creed of the Indians does not appear to have been altogether debased, and as explained to Columbus by one of the old chieftains of Cuba, the doctrines of those remote and benighted savages might claim some affinity to those professed by the Christians. Columbus and his men had landed and were hearing mass on the Cuban shore when "there came toward him a certain governor, a man of fourscore years of age, and of great gravity, although he were naked," and who

had a great train of men waiting on him. All the while the priest was at mass he showed himself very humble, and gave reverent attendance with grave and demure countenance.