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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/50

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32 INTRODUCTION. but without success. We cannot, he answered, abjure the worship of our gods, from whose hands we receive health, plenty, and all the blessings we enjoy. Undeterred, however, by the attachment which the people of Cempoal showed to their false deities, Cortes commanded his soldiers to enter the temples, and break down the idols. In the mean time, the cacique, filled with indignation, threatened to call down instant vengeance upon the heads of the Spaniards, if they dared to execute their purpose. But when it was suggested to him that his new friends would form an alliance with the Mexicans, arid take measures to accomplish his ruin, the cacique at length told Cortes to do as he pleased, when fifty Spanish soldiers rapidly ascended the steps of the temples, and began to break in pieces the idolatrous images ; this would have provoked an attack from the more daring amongst the people, had not the Spanish leader caused the cacique and four of the priests to be seized, and required them to exercise their influence in curbing the violence of the excited multitude. He afterwards compelled the priests to collect the fragments of the idols and commit them to the flames in his presence, and introduced the symbols of Christian worship into all their temples. Thus was idolatry finally extinguished in Cempoal. Cortes now resolved to march to the city of Mexico ; but prior to his departure, he thought proper to transmit to his sovereign an account of all that had occurred to the expedi- tion. The letter or despatch containing this report, is not now extant, but there is no doubt that it comprised all the particu- lars of the enterprise, from the first moment of his connection with it, including his difficulties with the governor of Cuba ; * its loss is therefore deeply to be regretted. At the same time, he forwarded to the emperor the whole amount of gold and other articles of value which had been procured in the country, having induced the soldiers to relinquish their share for this purpose. Two other letters were also written, one subscribed by the magistrates of the new colony, and the other by the principal officers of the army, in which they requested

  • Crom. Cron. c. 40.