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on the map of the continent of America, it appears an insignificant tract of country. But it is in reality a vast region, extending over five degrees of longitude, and includ ing vast, unexplored regions, which, for aught that we know of them, may include ancient cities, not like the crumbling ruins of Uxmal or Mayapan, but still occupied by the descendants of their native builders.

Many allusions to the cities of Yucatan are to be found in the accounts of the early Spanish historians. But an entirely new interest has been conferred on the subject by the publication of Stephens's "Incidents of Travel in Yucatan." This enterprising traveller, after exploring many new regions of Central America, had his attention drawn to Yucatan by accounts he received of ancient ruins of great extent which lay buried in the vast forests with which nearly the whole country is covered. He made a hasty visit to it, along with Mr. Catherwood, the results of which are mentioned in his "Incidents of Travel in Central America," &c., but the information he then received of the ruins of great cities and other ancient remains, determined him to devote another season for exploring this remarkable region. He accordingly revisited Yucatan in the following year, and carried out his design of visiting its chief ruins. On examining these his highest expectations were gratified. In the interesting narrative of his travels he gives an account of visits made to forty-four ruined cities, many of them containing extensive remains of temples and palaces still covered with sculptures, and frequently adorned both with paintings and hieroglyphics. Mr. Stephens's work possesses a further value from being adorned with numerous engravings of these gigantic memorials of an ancient race, large views of the ruined temples and palaces, curious representations of sculptures, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and many of the very singular natural features peculiar to that remarkable country. By means

of these, we are able to form a very clear and definite conception of the actual appearance of the remarkable structures, which stood forth as the architectural adornments of the strange land, to which the Spaniards of the fifteenth century were led by the indomitable faith and genius of Columbus. Yet, as we have already remarked, Columbus never reached the mainland of the new world. On his last and most sad and ill-fated expedition, after experiencing the most tempestuous weather, he reached a small island, which is thought to be the obscure and little noted one, not to be found even now on every map of the west Indian islands, but known by the name of Bonaca. On this island he landed, and while there he beheld approaching from the west a canoe of large size, the Indian crew of which, appeared to be more civilized than any he had yet met with, and on the Spaniards showing them gold, and inquiring by signs where it might be had, they pointed towards the west, and urged them to sail still further in the direction they had come. Columbus never doubted but that he had discovered in the island of Cuba, a land of ancient fame, which latterly he concluded to be that of Ophir, from whence Solomon obtained the stores of gold with which he adorned the temple of Jerusalem. But the star of Columbus's fortune had set, and the discoverer of the western world was not destined to pass beyond the islands that stand between it and the broad Atlantic. "Well would it have been for Columbus," says his biographer, Washington Irvine, "had he followed their advice. Within a day or two he would have arrived at Yucatan; the discovery of Mexico and the other opulent countries of New Spain would have necessarily followed. The Southern Ocean would have been disclosed to him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed fresh glory on his declining age, instead of its sinking amid gloom, neglect, and disappointment."

Yet perhaps it was also well that it should not be so. Columbus might indeed have returned to Spain in triumph, instead of in chains, and have reaped still greater honours and rewards. But he might also have had his great name sullied by the infamous deeds of those who did annex the kingdoms of Mexico and Yucatan to the crown of Spain.

It was only four years after the last voyage of the great Admiral that one of the companions of his previous voyage discovered the mainland of Yucatan. Eleven years more elapsed, however, before any effectual steps were taken for exploring or acquiring possession of the new country. On the eighth of February, 1517, Francisco Hermandez de Cordova, a rich hidalgo of Cuba, with three vessels of good burden and one hundred and ten soldiers, set sail from the port now known as St. Jago de Cuba, on a voyage of discovery. Doubling St. Anton, now called Cape St. Antonio, and sailing at hazard toward the west, at the end of twenty-one days they saw land which had never been seen before by Europeans.

On the fourth of March, while making arrangements to land, they saw coming to the ships five large canoes, with oars and sails, some of them containing fifty Indians; and on signals of invitation being made, above thirty came on board the captain's vessel. The next day the chief returned with twelve large canoes and numerous Indians, and invited the Spaniards to his town, promising them food, and whatever was necessary. The words he used were Conèx cotche, which, in the language of the Indians of the present day, means, "Come to our town." Not understanding the meaning, and supposing it was the name of the place, the Spaniards called it Point or Cape Cotoche, which name it still bears.

The Spaniards accepted the invitation, but, seeing the shore lined with Indians, landed in their own boats, and carried with them fifteen crossbows and ten muskets.

After halting a little while, they set out, the chief leading the way; and, passing by a thick wood, at a signal from the chief a great body of Indians in ambush rushed out, poured upon them a shower of arrows, which at the first discharge wounded fifteen, and then fell upon them with their lances; but the swords, crossbows, and firearms of the Spaniards struck them with such terror that they fled precipitately, leaving seventeen of their number slain.

The Spaniards returned to their ships, and continued towards the west, always keeping in sight of land. In fifteen days they discovered a large town, with an inlet which seemed to be a river. They went ashore for water, and were about returning, when some fifty Indians came toward them, dressed in good mantas of cotton, and invited them to their town. After some hesitation, the Spaniards went with them, and arrived at some large stone houses like those they had seen at Cape Cotoche, on the walls of which were figures of serpents and other idols. These were their temples, and about one of the altars were drops of fresh blood, which they afterward learned was the blood of Indians, sacrificed for the destruction of the strangers.

These hostile demonstrations were only the precursors of still more formidable opposition. Whenever they attempted to land for water or provisions, they were similarly assailed. At several different parts of the coast they went ashore with their water casks, but were compelled to return to the ships. At Champoton, they at length filled their casks, "and were about putting them into the boats, when large bodies of warlike Indians came upon them from the town, armed with bows and arrows, lances, shields, double handed swords, slings, and stones, their faces painted white, black, and red, and their heads adorned with plumes of feathers. The Spaniards were unable to embark their water-casks, and, as it was

now nearly night, they determined to remain on shore. At daylight great bodies of warriors, with colours flying, advanced upon them from all sides. The fight lasted more than half an hour; fifty Spaniards were killed; and Cordova, seeing that it was impossible to drive back such a multitude, formed the rest into a compact body and cut his way to the boats. The Indians followed close at their heels, even pursuing them into the water. In the confusion, so many of the Spaniards ran to the boats together that they came near sinking them; but, hanging to the boats, half wading and half swimming, they reached the small vessel, which came up to their assistance. Fifty-seven of their companions were killed, and five more died of their wounds. There was but one soldier who escaped unwounded; all the rest had two, three, or four, and the captain, Hermandez de Cordova, had twelve arrow wounds."

Such was the first experience by the Spaniards, of the courage and hostility of the natives of Yucatan. Nevertheless, the reports of those who returned roused afresh the spirit of adventure, and new expeditions speedily followed in their course, with more efficient means for repelling the aggressive hostilities of the natives. At length, while Cortez was pursuing his gigantic designs for the subjugation of Mexico, the Spanish king bestowed on Don Francisco Montejo a grant for the pacification and conquest of, what were then styled, the islands of Yucatan and Cozumel.

The history of the successive expeditions by which Yucatan was at length subdued to the power of Spain, abounds with the most remarkable and stirring incidents. The Indians fought with the most resolute courage and perseverance, but their resistance was ineffectual against the repeated reinforcements from the island colonies and from Europe. The Spaniards prevailed; the priests of Yucatan were superseded by Spanish monks, and Indian

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