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and cultivate the lands of the Inca and to lay up the produce in storehouses, were the only burdens imposed upon the people, if it was not sometimes to make cloaths and weapons for the army.
At the same time, their kings were so revered, that these articles of labour were performed with affection and alacrity.
The government was equally gentle with regard to punishments. Indeed very few crimes were committed, being confidered as a sort of rebellion against their great god the sun.
The only crime that seems to have been punished with severity, is the marauding of soldiers ; for death was inflicted, however inconsiderable the damage.
In this empire, there appears to have been the most perfect union between law and religion; which could not fail to produce obedience, order, and tranquillity, among that people, tho' extremely nume
The Inca family was fam'd for moderation : they made conquests in order to civilize their neighbours ; and as they feldom ifever transgressed the bounds of morality, no other art was neceffary to preserve the government entire, but to VOL: III. Z
keep the people ignorant of true religion. They had virgins dedicated to the sun, who, like the veítal virgins in Rome, were under a vow of perpetual chastity. '
This subject shall be concluded with some flight observations on the two governments I have been describing. Comparing them together, the Mexican government seems to have been supported by arms; that of Peru by religion.
The kings of Peru were hereditary and absolute: those of Mexico elective. In contradiction however to political principles, the government of Peru was by far the milder. It is mentioned above, that the electors of the Mexican kings were hereditary princes; and the fame electors composed the great council of state. Montesquieu therefore has been misinformed when he terms this a defpotic monarchy (a): a monarchy can never be defpotic, where the sovereign is limited by a great council, the members of which are independent of him. As little reason has he to term Peru despotic. An absolute monarchy it was, but the farther in the world from being defpotic: on the con(2) L'Elprit des loix, liv. 17. ch. 2.
trary, we find not in history any government so well contrived for the good of the people. An Agrarian law, firmly rooted, was a firm bar against such inequality of rank and riches, as lead to luxury and diflolution of manners : a commonwealth . is naturally the result of such a constitution ; but in Peru it was prevented by a theocratical government under a family sent from heaven to make them happy. This wild opinion, supported by ignorance and superstition, proved an effectual bar against tyranny in the monarch; a most exemplary conduct on his part being necessary for supporting the opinion of his divinity. Upon the whole, comprehending king and subject, there perhaps never existed more virtue in any other
government, whether monarchical or republican.'
In Peru there are traces of fome distinction of ranks, arising probably from office merely, which, as in France, was a bulwark to the monarch against the peasants. The great fuperiority of the Peruvia. Incas, as demi-gods, did not admit a hereditary nobility. With respect to the progress of arts and
Z 2 manufactures,
manufactures, the two nations differed widely: in Mexico, arts and manufactures were carried to a surprising height, considering the tools they had to work with : in Peru, they had made no progress ; every man, as among mere savages, providing the necessaries of life for himself. As the world goes at present, our multiplied wants require such numbers, that not above one of a hundred can be fpared for war. In ancient times, when these wants were few and not much enlarged beyond nature, it is computed that an eighth part could be spared for war: and hence the numerous armies we read of in the history of ancient nations. The PeTuvians had it in their power to go still farther: it was poffible to arm the whole males, capable of service : leaving the women to supply the few neceflaries that might be wanted during a short campaign; and accordingly we find that the Incas were great conquerors.
The religion of the Peruvians, considered in a political light, was excellent. The veneration they paid their fovereign upon a false religious principle, was their only fuperftition ; and that fuperftition contributed greatly to improve their morals and their manners : on the other hand, the religion of Mexico was execrable.
Upon the whole, there never was a country destitute of iron, where arts seem to have been carried higher than in Mexico: and, bating their religion, there ne-, ver was a country destitute of writing, where government seems to have been more perfect. I except not the government of Peru, which, not being founded on political principles, but on superstition, might be more mild, but was far from þeing so solidly founded.