It is hard to believe that it was the ancestor of those stolid and downtrodden Indians who one sees today, peddling their rude wares in the marketplace of Cuzco. It is their old imperial town, but there is scarcely one among them above the rank of a laborer; and during the last three centuries few indeed have emerged from the abject condition to which the Conquest reduced them.
The sudden fall of an entire race is an event so rare in history that one seeks for explanations. It may be that not only the royal Inca family, but nearly the whole ruling class was destroyed in war, leaving only the peasants who had already been serfs under their native sovereigns. But one is disposed to believe that the tremendous catastrophe which befell them in the destruction at once of their dynasty, their empire, and their religion by fierce conquerors, incomparably superior in energy and knowledge, completely broke not only the spirit of the nation, but the self respect of the individuals who composed it.
It all sounds so familiar, except the part about the conquerors’ superior intelligence and energy, but that just adds to our present humiliation–deemed inferior to foreigners morally, by virtue of their material inferiority.