Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/143

This page needs to be proofread.


CONQUEST OF MEXICO. ^ 121 a distance of one hundred and fifty leagues in the same direction. All the principal chiefs of these provinces, espe- cially those in the vicinity of the capital, reside, as I have already stated, the greater part of the year in that great city, and all or most of them have their oldest sons in the service of Muteczuma. There are fortified places in all the provinces, garrisoned with his own men, where are also stationed his governors and collectors of the rents and tribute, rendered him by every province ; and an account is kept of what each is obliged to pay, as they have characters and figures made on paper that are used for this purpose. Each province renders a tribute of its own peculiar productions, so that the sove- reign receives a great variety of articles from different quarters. No prince was ever more feared by his sub- jects, both in his presence and absence. He possessed out of the city as well as within, numerous villas, each of which had its peculiar sources of amusement, and all were constructed in the best possible manner for the use of a great prince and lord. Within the city his palaces were so wonderful that it is hardly possible to describe their beauty and extent ; I can only say that in Spain there is nothing equal to them. There was one palace somewhat inferior to the rest, attached to which was a beautiful garden with balconies extending over it, supported by marble columns, and hav- ing a floor formed of jasper elegantly inlaid. There were apartments in this palace suflicient to lodge two princes of the highest rank with their retinues. There were likewise belonging to it ten pools of water, in which were kept the different species of water birds found in this country, of which there is a great variety, all of which are domesticated ; for the sea birds there were