108 LETTERS OF CORTES. vinces and cities, and say that I commanded each one of them to give a certain proportion of gold, which he prescribed. Accordingly all those caciques to whom he sent contributed freely what he demanded of them, as well jewels as plates and leaves of gold and silver, and whatever else they possessed ; and melting down all that admitted it, we found that the fifth part belonging to your Majesty amounted to 32,400 pesos of gold and up- wards, without reckoning the jewels of gold and silver, the feather-work, and precious stones, together with many other valuable articles that I set apart for your sacred Majesty, worth more than 100,000 ducats. These besides their monied value, were of so costly and curious workmanship, that considering their novelty and won- derful beauty, no price could be set on them ; nor is it probable that any one of all the princes of the world to whose knowledge they might come, could produce any articles of equal splendor. It may seem to your Majes- ty like a fabulous story, but it is true, that all the natu- ral objects, both on sea and land, of which Muteczuma has any knowledge, are imitated in gold and silver, as well as in precious stones and feathers, in such perfec- tion that they appear almost the same. He gave me numerous specimens of many of these for your Highness, besides other things of which I had given him drawings, which he caused to be wrought in gold, such as images, crucifixes, medals, jewels, and necklaces, together with many other articles, of which he had imitations made. They assigned to your Majesty a fifth part of the silver, amounting to one hundred marks and upwards, which at my request the natives worked up into large and small dishes, porringers, cups, and spoons ; and they made them as perfectly as they could understand their form
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