308 LETTERS OF CORTES. t discovered, greater signs of a determination to perish than any people ever had done before, I knew of no middle course to take with them in order to rid ourselves of so many dangers and hardships without utterly destroy- ing both them and their city, which was the most beau- tiful object in the world. It was in vain to tell them that we would never remove our camp, and that our brigan- tines would never cease to carry on the war by water ; or that we had reduced Matalcingo and Marinalco, and there were none left throughout the whole land, to succor them, nor any place from which they could obtain maize, meat, fruits, water, or any thing else for their support. The more we made these appeals to them, the less indi- cations they gave of weakness ; but, on the other hand, in fighting and all their stratagems for defence, we found them displaying greater spirit than ever. In this state of things, considering that it was now more than forty- five days since we had invested the place, I resolved to take means for our security, and to enable us to press the enemy more closely, namely, that as we gained the streets of the city, we should destroy all the houses on both sides ; so that we should not advance a step with- out leaving all level with the ground, and converting what was water into firm land, notwithstanding the delay that might ensue. For this purpose I assembled the lords and chiefs of our allies, and informed them of my de- termination, to the end, that they might send a great number of their laborers with their coas, which are im- plements of wood, of which they make as much use as is made in Spain of the spade in digging. They an- swered, that they would do so very willingly, and that it was an excellent project, with which they were much pleased, for it seemed to them that it was a means by
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