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Aborigines of Mexico

The kingdoms of New Spain, as Central America and the adjoining country were first called, presented a far different aspect, when first discovered by Europeans, from that of the vast and inhospitable wilderness at the North and East. Instead of an unbroken forest, thinly inhabited by roving savages, here were seen large and well-built cities, a people of gentler mood and more refined manners, and an advancement in the useful arts which removed the inhabitants as far from their rude neighbors, in the scale of civilization, as they themselves were excelled by the nations of Europe. When first discovered and explored by Europeans, Mexico was a kingdom of great extent and power. Montezuma, chronicled as the eleventh, in regular succession, of the Aztec monarchs, held supreme authority. His dominions extended from near the isthmus of Darien, to the undefined country of the Ottomies and Chichimecas, rude nations living in a barbarous state among the mountains of the North. His name signified ” the surly (or grave) Prince,” a title justified by the solemn and ceremonious homage, which he constantly exacted. “When the Spaniards first appeared on the coast, the natural terror excited by such unheard-of conquerors was infinitely heightened by divers portents and omens, which the magicians and necromancers of the king construed as warnings of great and disastrous revolutions. This occasioned that strange, weak, and vacillating policy, which, as we shall hereafter see, he adopted towards Cortez. Comets, conflagrations, overflows, monsters, dreams, and visions, were constantly brought to the notice of the royal council, and inferences were drawn there from as to the wisest course to be pursued....

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