According to the traditions of Peru, there had come to that country, then lying in barbarism and darkness, two 'Children of the Sun,' who had taught them wise customs and the arts of civilization, and from whom had sprung by direct descent the incas, who thus rules over them by a divine right. Beside the ruling inca, whose person and decrees received an honour that was almost worship, there were numerous nobles, also of the royal blood, who formed a ruling caste. These were held in great honour, and were evidently of a race superior to the common people, a fact to which the very shape of their skulls testifies.
The government was developed to an extraordinary pitch of control over even the private lives of the people. The whole land and produce of the country were divided into three parts, one for the Sun, the supreme national deity, one for the inca, and the third for the people. This last was divided among them according to their needs, especally according to the size of their families, and the distribution of land was made afresh each year. On this principle, no one could suffer from poverty, no one could rise by his efforts to a higher position than that which birth and circumstances allotted to him.
The government prescribed to every man his local habitation, his sphere of action, nay, the very nature and quality of that action. He ceased to be free agent; it might almost be said that it relieved him of personal responsibility. Even his marriage was determined for him; from time to time all the men and women who had attained marriageable age were summoned to the great squares of their respective towns, and the hands of the couples joined by the presiding magistrate. The consent of the parents was required, and the preference of the parties was supposed to be consulted, but owing to the barriers imposed by the prescribed age of the parties, this must have been within rather narrow limits. A dwelling was prepared for each couple at the charge of the district, and the prescribed portion of land assigned for their maintenance.
The country, as a whole, was divided into four great provinces, each ruled by a viceroy, Below him there was a minute subdivision of supervision and authority, down to the division into decades, by which every tenth man was responsible for his nine countrymen.
The tribunals of justice were simple and swift in their procedure, and all responsible to the crown, to whom regular reports were forwarded, being thus put in a position to review and rectify any abuses in the administration of the law.
The organization of the country was altogether on a much higher level than that encountered by the Spaniards in any other part of the American continent. There was, for example, a complete census of the people periodically taken. There was a system of posts, carried by runners, more efficient and complete than any system in Europe.
There was, lastly, a method of embodying in the empire any conquered country, which can only be compared to the Roman method. Local customs were interfered with as little as possible, local gods were carried to Cuzco and honoured in the pantheon there, and the chiefs of the country were brought to the capital, where they were honoured and by every possible means attached to the new regime.
The language of the capital was diffused everywhere, and every inducement to learn it offered, so that the difficulty presented by the variety of dialects was overcome.
THUS, the empire of the incas achieved a solidarity very different from the loose and often unwilling cohesion of the various parts of the Mexican empire, which was ready to fall to pieces as soon as opportunity offered. The Peruvian empire arose as one great fabric, composed of numerous and even hostile tribes yet, under the influence of a common religion, common language and common government, knit together as one nation, animated by a spirit of love for its institutions and devoted loyalty to its sovereign.
They all learnt thus to bow in unquestioning obedience to the decrees of the divine inca. For the government of the incas, while it was the mildest, was the most searching of despotisms.
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