BLTC Press Titles

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The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

History of the conquest of Peru

by William Hickling Prescott



Physical Aspect Of The Country. Sources Of Peruvian CivIlization. Empire Of The Ljcas. Royal Family. NoBility.

Of the numerous nations which occupied the great American continent at the time of its discovery by the Europeans, the two most advanced in power and refinement were undoubtedly those of Mexico and Peru. But, though resembling one another in extent of civilization, they differed widely as to the nature of it; and the philosophical student of his species may feel a natural curiosity to trace the different steps by which these two nations strove to emerge from the state of barbarism, and place themselves on a higher point in the scale of humanity. — In a former work I have endeavoured to exhibit the institutions and character of the ancient Mexicans, and the story of their conquest by the Spaniards. The present will be devoted to the Peruvians; and,

if their history shall be found to present less strange anomalies and striking contrasts than that of the Aztecs, it may interest us quite as much by the pleasing picture it offers of a well-regulated government and sober habits of industry under the patriarchal sway of the Incas.

The empire of Peru, at the period of the Spanish invasion, stretched along the Pacific from about the second degree north to the thirty-seventh degree of south latitude; a line, also, which describes the western boundaries of the modern republics of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chili. Its breadth cannot so easily be determined; for, though bounded everywhere by the great ocean on the west, towards the east it spread out, in many parts, considerably beyond the mountains, to the confines of barbarous states, whose exact position is undetermined, or whose names are effaced from the map of history. It is certain, however, that its breadth was altogether disproportioned to its length.1

The topographical aspect of the country is very remarkable. A strip of land, rarely exceeding twenty leagues in width, runs along the coast, and is hemmed in through its whole extent by a colossal range of mountains, which, advancing from the Straits of Magellan, reaches its highest elevation —

1 Sarmiento,Relacion,MS.,cap. According to the last authority,

65. — Cieza de Leon, Cronica del the empire, in its greatest breadth,

Peru, (Anvers, 1554,) cap. 41. — did not exceed one hundred and

Garcilasso de la Vega, Commen- twenty leagues. But Garcilasso's

tarios Reales, (Lisboa, 1609,) geography will not bear criticism. Parte 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.

indeed, the highest on the American continent — about the seventeenth degree south,2 and, after crossing the line, gradually subsides into hills of inconsiderable magnitude, as it enters the Isthmus of Panami. This is the famous Cordillera of the Andes, or "copper mountains,"3 as termed by the natives, though they might with more reason have been called " mountains of gold." Arranged sometimes in a single line, though more frequently in two or three lines running parallel or obliquely to each other, they seem to the voyager on the ocean but •one continuous chain; while the huge volcanoes, which to the inhabitants of the table-land look like solitary and independent masses, appear to him only like so many peaks of the same vast and magnificent range. So immense is the scale on which Nature works in these regions, that it is only when viewed from a great distance, that the spectator can, in any degree, comprehend the relation of the several parts to the stupendous whole. Few of the works of Nature, indeed, are calculated to produce impressions of higher sublimity than the aspect of this coast, as it is gradually unfolded to the eye of the mariner sailing on the distant waters of the Pacific; where

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