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this way, and others were waylaid by the natives, who kept a jealous eye on their movements, and availed themselves of every opportunity to take them at advantage. Fourteen of Pizarro's men were cut off at once in a canoe which had stranded on the bank of a stream.
Famine came in addition to other troubles, and it was with difficulty that they found the means of sustaining life on the scanty fare of the forest, — occasionally the potato, as it grew without cultivation, or the wild cocoa-nut, or, on the shore, the salt and bitter fruit of the mangrove; though the shore was less tolerable than the forest, from the swarms of mosquitos, which compelled the wretched adventurers to bury their bodies up to their very faces in the sand. In this extremity of suffering they thought only of return; and all schemes of avarice and ambition — except with Pizarro and a few dauntless spirits —' were exchanged for the one craving desire to return to Pan
A ray of hope was enough for the courageous spirit of Pizarro. It does not appear that he himself had entertained, at any time, thoughts of returning. He prepared to stand the fortune of the cast on which he had so desperately ventured. He knew, however, that solicitations or remonstrances would avail little with the companions of his enterprise; and he probably did not care to win over the more timid spirits, who, by perpetually looking back, would only be a clog on his future movements. He announced his own purpose, however, in a laconic" but decided manner, characteristic of a man more accustomed to act than to talk, and well calculated to make an impression on his rough followers.
Drawing his sword, he traced a line with it on the sand from east to west. Then, turning towards the south, "Friends and comrades!" he said, "on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side, ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches: here, Panama' and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go to the south." So saying, he stepped across the line. He was followed by the brave pilot Ruiz; next by Pedro de Candia, a cavalier, born, as his name implies, in one of the isles of Greece. Eleven others successively crossed the line, thus intimating their willingness to abide the fortunes of their leader, for good or for evil.
There is something striking to the imagination in the spectacle of these few brave spirits, thus consecrating themselves to
a daring enterprise, which seemed as far above their strength aa any recorded in the fabulous annals of knight-errantry. A handful of men, without food, without clothing, almost without arms, without knowledge of the land to which they were bound, without vessel to transport them, were here left on a lonely rock in the ocean, with the avowed purpose of carrying on a crusade against a powerful empire, staking their lives on its success. What is there in the legends of chivalry47 that surpasses it * This was the crisis of Pizarro's fate.
There are moments in the lives of men, which, as they are seized or neglected, decide their future destiny. Had Pizarro faltered from his strong purpose, and yielded to the occasion now so temptingly presented, for extricating himself and his broken band from their desperate position, his name would have been buried with his fortunes, and the conquest of Peru would have been left for other and more successful adventurers. But his constancy was equal to the occasion, and his conduct here proved him competent to the perilous post he had assumed, and inspired others with a confidence in him which was the best assurance of success. Prescott
CXCVII.—HUMAN SCIENCE SOMETIMES AT FAULT.
1. With all due respect for the calculations of men of science, I cannot but remember that when most confident they have sometimes erred. They have too often asserted as a demonstration what was, after all, a mere fallible opinion, which time has contradicted. They sneered at Columbus, when he set forth on his expedition in search of a land beyond the unexplored ocean; at Harvey," when he announced the circulation of the blood; at Jenner," when he propounded his theory of vaccination. They told us that steamboats could not cross the Atlantic. They shook the head at Buena Vista." Ah! that was a battle against all rule, in violation of all the principles of military calculation. An old American general, seated on his white horse, looked forth over the field through his telescope, and said, "We will fight here." And the result was a victory won by five thousand against twenty thousand. A most unscientific and informal victory!
2. Some years ago, a book came out in France, on the subject of a carriage, which had been contrived in England, I believe for a wager at Newmarket, to go a certain distance in a given time. The author of the book undertook to prove, very learnedly, that the project could not possibly succeed. He formed a most elaborate calculation, according to the most precise rules, which gave the greatest satisfaction to all the scientific world of Paris. A was to represent the carriage; B the horses; C the driver; D the resistance of the air; E the friction of the earth, and F the utter impossibility of success. And A plus B, plus C, plus D, plus E, was equal to F, and therefore the project must fail. won; but the lovers of science contented themselves with affirming that, though the project did succeed, it ought not to have succeeded.
3. An instance of a graver character may be quoted. Not long since a light-house was erected on a ledge of rocks, known as Minot's Ledge, in Boston harbor. It rested on iron pillars, which rose from strong iron piles, fixed firmly in the rocks. Science, or rather professed science, was fully satisfied that the structure was secure. There was a terrible storm in the winter; but the light-house outlived it. The keeper declared, however, that it could not stand many such gales; that the piles had started; that in a severe easterly storm the light-house would rock like a ship afloat; and that there was great danger of its overthrow. The engineer knew better than this, and came before the public with a statement proving very conclusively that the keeper's fears were groundless, and that the light-house was so constructed as to be tempest-proof. The very next spring, an easterly storm of unusual severity set in, and the strong winds blew violently, and the tide rose, and the ocean-waves rushed in and beat upon that house, and it fell. The iron stems that sustained it were snapped like reeds; and two valuable lives were lost by the catas'trophe.
4. I mention these instances, not to undervalue science, — it would be folly to attempt that; for science, when true to its name, is true knowledge, — but to show that its name is sometimes wrongfully assumed, and that its professors, when not guided by humility, may prove but misleading counsellors. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. After all that human wisdom can foresee, after all that human calculations can provide, something must be left to chance, something to the possibility of error, something to those contingencies which human vision may not take in. The highest science is ever the most reverent. It is in the lower ranks that we must look for those examples of dogmatism, pertinacity, and presumption, which claim to utter decisions, without appeal, which the next hour may prove to be wrong.
published, however, the wager was CXCVIII. — CARDINAL WOLSEY AND CROMWELL.*
Wolsey. Farewell, a long farewell to all my greatness!
Why, how now, Cromwell?
Cromwell. I have no power to speak, sir.
Crom. How does your grace?
A peace above all earthly dignities,
Crom. I am glad, your grace has made that right use of it
* Thomas Cromwell, a statesman of the time of Henry the Eighth of England.
f Shakspeare often puts the accent in aspect on the last syllable, j An, by the old writers, is often used for if.
Enter Cromwell, amazedly.
(Out of a fortitude of soul I feel),
Crom. The heaviest and the worst
Wol. God bless him!
Crom. The next is, that Sir Thomas More" is chosen
Wol. That's somewhat sudden:
Crom. That Cranmer is returned with welcome,
Wol. There was the weight that pulled me down. O ! Cromwell,
Crom. O, my lord,
Wol. Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear