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Title: The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (Volume II)
Author: Irving, Washington, 1783-1859
Language: English
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The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus


Washington Irving.

                  Venient annis
  Sæcula seris, quibus Oceanus
  Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
  Pateat tellus, Typhisque novos
  Detegat Orbes, nec sit terris
  Ultima Thule.

            Seneca: _Medea_.

Author's Revised Edition.

Vol. II.


Contents of Volume II.

Book XI.

  I.  Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of
 II.  Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of
      Guarionex, the Cacique of the Vega
III.  The Adelantado Repairs to Xaragua to receive Tribute
 IV.  Conspiracy of Roldan
  V.  The Adelantado repairs to the Vega in relief of Fort Conception.
      --His Interview with Roldan
 VI.  Second Insurrection of Guarionex, and his Flight to the Mountains
      of Ciguay
VII.  Campaign of the Adelantado in the Mountains of Ciguay

Book XII.

  I.  Confusion in the Island.--Proceedings of the Rebels at Xaragua
 II.  Negotiation of the Admiral with the Rebels.--Departure of Ships
      for Spain
III.  Arrangement with the Rebels
 IV.  Another Mutiny of the Rebels; and Second Arrangement with them
  V.  Grants made to Roldan and his Followers.--Departure of several of
      the Rebels for Spain
 VI.  Arrival of Ojeda with a Squadron at the Western part of the Island.
      --Roldan sent to meet him
VII.  Manoeuvres of Roldan and Ojeda

Book XIII.

  I.  Representations at Court against Columbus.--Bobadilla empowered to
      examine into his Conduct
 II.  Arrival of Bobadilla at San Domingo.--His violent Assumption of
      the Command
III.  Columbus summoned to appear before Bobadilla
 IV.  Columbus and his Brothers arrested and sent to Spain in Chains

Book XIV.

  I.  Sensation in Spain on the Arrival of Columbus in Irons.--His
      Appearance at Court
 II.  Contemporary Voyages of Discovery
III.  Nicholas de Ovando appointed to supersede Bobadilla
 IV.  Proposition of Columbus relative to the Recovery of the Holy
  V.  Preparations of Columbus for a Fourth Voyage of Discovery

Book XV.

   I.  Departure of Columbus on his Fourth Voyage.--Refused Admission to
       the Harbor of San Domingo--Exposed to a violent Tempest
  II.  Voyage along the Coast of Honduras
 III.  Voyage along the Mosquito Coast, and Transactions at Cariari
  IV.  Voyage along Costa Rica.--Speculations concerning the Isthmus at
   V.  Discovery of Puerto Bello and El Retrete.--Columbus abandons the
       search after the Strait
  VI.  Return to Veragua.--The Adelantado explores the Country.
 VII.  Commencement of a Settlement on the river Belen.--Conspiracy of the
       Natives.--Expedition of the Adelantado to surprise Quibian.
VIII.  Disasters of the Settlement.
  IX.  Distress of the Admiral on board of his Ship.--Ultimate Relief of
       the Settlement.
   X.  Departure from the Coast of Veragua.--arrival at Jamaica.--Stranding
       of the Ships.

Book XVI.

  I.  Arrangement of Diego Mendez with the Caciques for Supplies of
      Provisions.--Sent to San Domingo by Columbus in quest of Relief.
 II.  Mutiny of Porras.
III.  Scarcity of Provisions.--Stratagem of Columbus to obtain Supplies
      from the Natives.
 IV.  Mission of Diego de Escobar to the Admiral.
  V.  Voyage of Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco in a Canoe to
 VI.  Overtures of Columbus to the Mutineers.--Battle of the Adelantado
      with Porras and his Followers.

Book XVII.

  I.  Administration of Ovando in Hispaniola.--Oppression of the Natives.
 II.  Massacre at Xaragua.--Fate of Anacaona.
III.  War with the Natives of Higuey.
 IV.  Close of the War with Higuey.--Fate of Cotabanama.


  I.  Departure of Columbus for San Domingo.--His Return to Spain.
 II.  Illness of Columbus at Seville.--Application to the Crown for a
      Restitution of his Honors.--Death of Isabella.
III.  Columbus arrives at Court.--Fruitless Application to the King for
 IV.  Death of Columbus.
  V.  Observations on the Character of Columbus.



The Life and Voyages of Columbus

Book XI.

Chapter I.

Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of Xaragua.


Columbus had anticipated repose from his toils on arriving at Hispaniola,
but a new scene of trouble and anxiety opened upon him, destined to impede
the prosecution of his enterprises, and to affect all his future fortunes.
To explain this, it is necessary to relate the occurrences of the island
during his long detention in Spain.

When he sailed for Europe in March, 1496, his brother, Don Bartholomew,
who remained as Adelantado, took the earliest measures to execute his
directions with respect to the mines recently discovered by Miguel Diaz on
the south side of the island. Leaving Don Diego Columbus in command at
Isabella, he repaired with a large force to the neighborhood of the mines,
and, choosing a favorable situation in a place most abounding in ore,
built a fortress, to which he gave the name of San Christoval. The
workmen, however, finding grains of gold among the earth and stone
employed in its construction, gave it the name of the Golden
Tower. [1]

The Adelantado remained here three months, superintending the building of
the fortress, and making the necessary preparations for working the mines
and purifying the ore. The progress of the work, however, was greatly
impeded by scarcity of provisions, having frequently to detach a part of
the men about the country in quest of supplies. The former hospitality of
the island was at an end. The Indians no longer gave their provisions
freely; they had learnt from the white men to profit by the necessities of
the stranger, and to exact a price for bread. Their scanty stores, also,
were soon exhausted, for their frugal habits, and their natural indolence
and improvidence, seldom permitted them to have more provisions on hand
than was requisite for present support. [2] The Adelantado found it
difficult, therefore, to maintain so large a force in the neighborhood,
until they should have time to cultivate the earth, and raise live-stock,
or should receive supplies from Spain. Leaving ten men to guard the
fortress, with a dog to assist them in catching utias, he marched with the
rest of his men, about four hundred in number, to Fort Conception, in the
abundant country of the Vega. He passed the whole month of June collecting
the quarterly tribute, being supplied with food by Guarionex and his
subordinate caciques. In the following month (July, 1496) the three
caravels commanded by Niño arrived from Spain, bringing a reinforcement
of men, and, what was still more needed, a supply of provisions. The
latter was quickly distributed among the hungry colonists, but
unfortunately a great part had been injured during the voyage. This was a
serious misfortune in a community where the least scarcity produced murmur
and sedition.

By these ships the Adelantado received letters from his brother, directing
him to found a town and sea-port at the mouth of the Ozema, near to the
new mines. He requested him, also, to send prisoners to Spain such of the
caciques and their subjects as had been concerned in the death of any of
the colonists; that being considered as sufficient ground, by many of the
ablest jurists and theologians of Spain, for selling them as slaves. On
the return of the caravels, the Adelantado dispatched three hundred Indian
prisoners, and three caciques. These formed the ill-starred cargoes about
which Niño had made such absurd vaunting, as though the ships were laden
with treasure; and which had caused such mortification, disappointment,
and delay to Columbus.

Having obtained by this arrival a supply of provisions, the Adelantado
returned to the fortress of San Christoval, and thence proceeded to the
Ozema, to choose a site for the proposed seaport. After a careful
examination, he chose the eastern bank of a natural haven at the mouth of
the river. It was easy of access, of sufficient depth, and good anchorage.
The river ran through a beautiful and fertile country; its waters were
pure and salubrious, and well stocked with fish; its banks were covered
with trees bearing the fine fruits of the island, so that in sailing
along, the fruits and flowers might be plucked with the hand from the
branches which overhung the stream. [3] This delightful vicinity was the
dwelling-place of the female cacique who had conceived an affection for
the young Spaniard Miguel Diaz, and had induced him to entice his
countrymen to that part of the island. The promise she had given of a
friendly reception on the part of her tribe was faithfully performed.

On a commanding bank of the harbor, Don Bartholomew erected a fortress,
which at first was called Isabella, but afterwards San Domingo, and was
the origin of the city which still bears that name. The Adelantado was of
an active and indefatigable spirit. No sooner was the fortress completed,
than he left in it a garrison of twenty men, and with the rest of his
forces set out to visit the dominions of Behechio, one of the principal
chieftains of the island. This cacique, as has already been mentioned,
reigned over Xaragua, a province comprising almost the whole coast at the
west end of the island, including Cape Tiburon, and extending along the
south side as far as Point Aguida, or the small island of Beata. It was
one of the most populous and fertile districts, with a delightful climate;
and its inhabitants were softer and more graceful in their manners than
the rest of the islanders. Being so remote from all the fortresses, the
cacique, although he had taken a part in the combination of the
chieftains, had hitherto remained free from the incursions and exactions
of the white men.

With this cacique resided Anacaona, widow of the late formidable Caonabo.
She was sister to Behechio, and had taken refuge with her brother after
the capture of her husband. She was one of the most beautiful females of
the island; her name in the Indian language signified "The Golden Flower."
She possessed a genius superior to the generality of her race, and was
said to excel in composing those little legendary ballads, or areytos,
which the natives chanted as they performed their national dances. All the
Spanish writers agree in describing her as possessing a natural dignity
and grace hardly to be credited in her ignorant and savage condition.
Notwithstanding the ruin with which her husband had been overwhelmed by
the hostility of the white men, she appears to have entertained no
vindictive feeling towards them, knowing that he had provoked their
vengeance by his own voluntary warfare. She regarded the Spaniards with
admiration as almost superhuman beings, and her intelligent mind perceived
the futility and impolicy of any attempt to resist their superiority in
arts and arms. Having great influence over her brother Behechio, she
counseled him to take warning by the fate of her husband, and to
conciliate the friendship of the Spaniards; and it is supposed that a
knowledge of the friendly sentiments and powerful influence of this
princess in a great measure prompted the Adelantado to his present
expedition. [4]

In passing through those parts of the island which had hitherto been
unvisited by Europeans, the Adelantado adopted the same imposing measures
which the admiral had used on a former occasion; he put his cavalry in the
advance, and entered all the Indian towns in martial array, with standards
displayed, and the sound of drum and trumpet.

After proceeding about thirty leagues, he came to the river Neyva, which,
issuing from the mountains of Cibao, divides the southern side of the
island. Crossing this stream, he dispatched two parties of ten men each
along the sea-coast in search of brazil-wood. They found great quantities,
and felled many trees, which they stored in the Indian cabins, until they
could be taken away by sea.

Inclining with his main force to the right, the Adelantado met, not far
from the river, the cacique Behechio, with a great army of his subjects,
armed with bows and arrows and lances. If he had come forth with the
intention of opposing the inroad into his forest domains, he was probably
daunted by the formidable appearance of the Spaniards. Laying aside his
weapons, he advanced and accosted the Adelantado very amicably, professing
that he was thus in arms for the purpose of subjecting certain villages
along the river, and inquiring, at the same time, the object of this
incursion of the Spaniards. The Adelantado assured him that he came on a
peaceful visit to pass a little time in friendly intercourse at Xaragua.
He succeeded so well in allaying the apprehensions of the cacique, that
the latter dismissed his army, and sent swift messengers to order
preparations for the suitable reception of so distinguished a guest. As
the Spaniards advanced into the territories of the chieftain, and passed
through the districts of his inferior caciques, the latter brought forth
cassava bread, hemp, cotton, and various other productions of the land. At
length they drew near to the residence of Behechio, which was a large town
situated in a beautiful part of the country near the coast, at the bottom
of that deep bay called at present the Bight of Leogan.

The Spaniards had heard many accounts of the soft and delightful region of
Xaragua, in one part of which Indian traditions placed their Elysian
fields. They had heard much, also, of the beauty and urbanity of the
inhabitants: the mode of their reception was calculated to confirm their
favorable prepossessions. As they approached the place, thirty females of
the cacique's household came forth to meet them, singing their areytos, or
traditionary ballads, and dancing and waving palm branches. The married
females wore aprons of embroidered cotton, reaching half way to the knee;
the young women were entirely naked, with merely a fillet round the
forehead, their hair falling upon their shoulders. They were beautifully
proportioned; their skin smooth and delicate, and their complexion of a
clear agreeable brown. According to old Peter Martyr, the Spaniards, when
they beheld them issuing forth from their green woods, almost imagined
they beheld the fabled dryads, or native nymphs and fairies of the
fountains, sung by the ancient poets. [5] When they came before Don
Bartholomew, they knelt and gracefully presented him the green branches.
After these came the female cacique Anacaona, reclining on a kind of light
litter borne by six Indians. Like the other females, she had no other
covering than an apron of various-colored cotton. She wore round her head
a fragrant garland of red and white flowers, and wreaths of the same round
her neck and arms. She received the Adelantado and his followers with that
natural grace and courtesy for which she was celebrated; manifesting no
hostility towards them for the fate her husband had experienced at their

The Adelantado and his officers were conducted to the house of Behechio,
where a banquet was served up of utias, a great variety of sea and river
fish, with roots and fruits of excellent quality. Here first the Spaniards
conquered their repugnance to the guana, the favorite delicacy of the
Indians, but which the former had regarded with disgust, as a species of
serpent. The Adelantado, willing to accustom himself to the usages of the
country, was the first to taste this animal, being kindly pressed thereto
by Anacaona. His followers imitated his example; they found it to be
highly palatable and delicate; and from that time forward, the guana was
held in repute among Spanish epicures. [6]

The banquet being over, Don Bartholomew with six of his principal
cavaliers were lodged in the dwelling of Behechio; the rest were
distributed in the houses of the inferior caciques, where they slept in
hammocks of matted cotton, the usual beds of the natives.

For two days they remained with the hospitable Behechio, entertained with
various Indian games and festivities, among which the most remarkable was
the representation of a battle. Two squadrons of naked Indians, armed with
bows and arrows, sallied suddenly into the public square and began to
skirmish in a manner similar to the Moorish play of canes, or tilting
reeds. By degrees they became excited, and fought with such earnestness,
that four were slain, and many wounded, which seemed to increase the
interest and pleasure of the spectators. The contest would have continued
longer, and might have been still more bloody, had not the Adelantado and
the other cavaliers interfered and begged that the game might cease. [7]

When the festivities were over, and familiar intercourse had promoted
mutual confidence, the Adelantado addressed the cacique and Anacaona on
the real object of his visit. He informed him that his brother, the
admiral, had been sent to this island by the sovereigns of Castile, who
were great and mighty potentates, with many kingdoms under their sway.
That the admiral had returned to apprise his sovereigns how many tributary
caciques there were in the island, leaving him in command, and that he had
come to receive Behechio under the protection of these mighty sovereigns,
and to arrange a tribute to be paid by him, in such manner as should be
most convenient and satisfactory to himself. [8]

The cacique was greatly embarrassed by this demand, knowing the sufferings
inflicted on the other parts of the island by the avidity of the Spaniards
for gold. He replied that he had been apprised that gold was the great
object for which the white men had come to their island, and that a
tribute was paid in it by some of his fellow-caciques; but that in no part
of his territories was gold to be found; and his subjects hardly knew what
it was. To this the Adelantado replied with great adroitness, that nothing
was farther from the intention or wish of his sovereigns than to require a
tribute in things not produced in his dominions, but that it might be paid
in cotton, hemp, and cassava bread, with which the surrounding country
appeared to abound. The countenance of the cacique brightened at this
intimation; he promised cheerful compliance, and instantly sent orders to
all his subordinate caciques to sow abundance of cotton for the first
payment of the stipulated tribute. Having made all the requisite
arrangements, the Adelantado took a most friendly leave of Behechio and
his sister, and set out for Isabella.

Thus, by amicable and sagacious management, one of the most extensive
provinces of the island was brought into cheerful subjection, and had not
the wise policy of the Adelantado been defeated by the excesses of
worthless and turbulent men, a large revenue might have been collected,
without any recourse to violence or oppression. In all instances, these
simple people appear to have been extremely tractable, and meekly and even
cheerfully to have resigned their rights to the white men, when treated
with gentleness and humanity.

Chapter II.

Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of Guarionex,
the Cacique of the Vega.


On arriving at Isabella, Don Bartholomew found it, as usual, a scene of
misery and repining. Many had died during his absence; most were ill.
Those who were healthy complained of the scarcity of food, and those who
were ill, of the want of medicines. The provisions distributed among them,
from the supply brought out a few months before by Pedro Alonzo Niño, had
been consumed. Partly from sickness, and partly from a repugnance to
labor, they had neglected to cultivate the surrounding country, and the
Indians, on whom they chiefly depended, outraged by their oppressions, had
abandoned the vicinity, and fled to the mountains; choosing rather to
subsist on roots and herbs, in their rugged retreats, than remain in the
luxuriant plains, subject to the wrongs and cruelties of the white men.
The history of this island presents continual pictures of the miseries,
the actual want and poverty, produced by the grasping avidity of gold. It
had rendered the Spaniards heedless of all the less obvious, but more
certain and salubrious, sources of wealth. All labor seemed lost that was
to produce profit by a circuitous process. Instead of cultivating the
luxuriant soil around them, and deriving real treasures from its surface,
they wasted their time in seeking for mines and golden streams, and were
starving in the midst of fertility.

No sooner were the provisions exhausted which had been brought out by
Niño, than the colonists began to break forth in their accustomed murmurs.
They represented themselves as neglected by Columbus, who, amidst the
blandishments and delights of a court, thought little of their sufferings.
They considered themselves equally forgotten by government; while, having
no vessel in the harbor, they were destitute of all means of sending home
intelligence of their disastrous situation, and imploring relief.

To remove this last cause of discontent, and furnish some object for their
hopes and thoughts to rally round, the Adelantado ordered that two
caravels should be built at Isabella, for the use of the island. To
relieve the settlement, also, from all useless and repining individuals,
during this time of scarcity, he distributed such as were too ill to
labor, or to bear arms, into the interior, where they would have the
benefit of a better climate, and more abundant supply of Indian
provisions. He at the same time completed and garrisoned the chain of
military posts established by his brother in the preceding year,
consisting of five fortified houses, each surrounded by its dependent
hamlet. The first of these was about nine leagues from Isabella, and was
called la Esperanza. Six leagues beyond was Santa Catalina. Four leagues
and a half further was Magdalena, where the first town of Santiago was
afterwards founded; and five leagues further Fort Conception--which was
fortified with great care, being in the vast and populous Vega, and within
half a league from the residence of its cacique, Guarionex. [9] Having
thus relieved Isabella of all its useless population, and left none but
such as were too ill to be removed, or were required for the service and
protection of the place, and the construction of the caravels, the
Adelantado returned, with a large body of the most effective men, to the
fortress of San Domingo.

The military posts, thus established, succeeded for a time in overawing
the natives; but fresh hostilities were soon manifested, excited by a
different cause from the preceding. Among the missionaries who had
accompanied Friar Boyle to the island, were two of far greater zeal than
their superior. When he returned to Spain, they remained, earnestly bent
upon the fulfillment of their mission. One was called Roman Pane, a poor
hermit, as he styled himself, of the order of St. Geronimo; the other was
Juan Borgoñon, a Franciscan. They resided for some time among the Indians
of the Vega, strenuously endeavoring to make converts, and had succeeded
with one family, of sixteen persons, the chief of which, on being
baptized, took the name of Juan Mateo. The conversion of the cacique
Guarionex, however, was their main object. The extent of his possessions
made his conversion of great importance to the interests of the colony,
and was considered by the zealous fathers a means of bringing his numerous
subjects under the dominion of the church. For some time he lent a willing
ear; he learnt the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Creed, and made
his whole family repeat them daily. The other caciques of the Vega and of
the provinces of Cibao, however, scoffed at him for meanly conforming to
the laws and customs of strangers, usurpers of his domains, and oppressors
of his nation. The friars complained that, in consequence of these evil
communications, their convert suddenly relapsed into infidelity; but
another and more grievous cause is assigned for his recantation. His
favorite wife was seduced or treated with outrage by a Spaniard of
authority; and the cacique renounced all faith in a religion which, as he
supposed, admitted of such atrocities. Losing all hope of effecting his
conversion, the missionaries removed to the territories of another
cacique, taking with them Juan Mateo, their Indian convert. Before their
departure, they erected a small chapel, and furnished it with an altar,
crucifix, and images, for the use of the family of Mateo.

Scarcely had they departed, when several Indians entered the chapel, broke
the images in pieces, trampled them under foot, and buried them in a
neighboring field. This, it was said, was done by order of Guarionex, in
contempt of the religion from which he had apostatized. A complaint of
this enormity was carried to the Adelantado, who ordered a suit to be
immediately instituted, and those who were found culpable, to be punished
according to law. It was a period of great rigor in ecclesiastical law,
especially among the Spaniards. In Spain, all heresies in religion, all
recantations from the faith, and all acts of sacrilege, either by Moor or
Jew, were punished with fire and fagot. Such was the fate of the poor
ignorant Indians, convicted of this outrage on the church. It is
questionable whether Guarionex had any hand in this offence, and it is
probable that the whole affair was exaggerated. A proof of the credit due
to the evidence brought forward may be judged by one of the facts recorded
by Roman Pane, "the poor hermit." The field in which the holy images were
buried, was planted, he says, with certain roots shaped like a turnip, or
radish, several of which coming up in the neighborhood of the images, were
found to have grown most miraculously in the form of a cross. [10]

The cruel punishment inflicted on these Indians, instead of daunting their
countrymen, filled them with horror and indignation. Unaccustomed to such
stern rule and vindictive justice, and having no clear ideas nor powerful
sentiments with respect to religion of any kind, they could not comprehend
the nature nor extent of the crime committed. Even Guarionex, a man
naturally moderate and pacific, was highly incensed with the assumption of
power within his territories, and the inhuman death inflicted on his
subjects. The other caciques perceived his irritation, and endeavored to
induce him to unite in a sudden insurrection, that by one vigorous and
general effort they might break the yoke of their oppressors. Guarionex
wavered for some time. He knew the martial skill and prowess of the
Spaniards; he stood in awe of their cavalry, and he had before him the
disastrous fate of Caonabo; but he was rendered bold by despair, and he
beheld in the domination of these strangers the assured ruin of his race.
The early writers speak of a tradition current among the inhabitants of
the island, respecting this Guarionex. He was of an ancient line of
hereditary caciques. His father, in times long preceding the discovery,
having fasted for five days, according to their superstitious observances,
applied to his zemi, or household deity, for information of things to
come. He received for answer, that within a few years there should come to
the island a nation covered with clothing, which should destroy all their
customs and ceremonies, and slay their children or reduce them to painful
servitude. [11] The tradition was probably invented by the Butios, or
priests, after the Spaniards had begun to exercise their severities.
Whether their prediction had an effect in disposing the mind of Guarionex
to hostilities is uncertain. Some have asserted that he was compelled to
take up arms by his subjects, who threatened, in case of his refusal, to
choose some other chieftain; others have alleged the outrage committed
upon his favorite wife, as the principal cause of his irritation. [12] It
was probably these things combined, which at length induced him to enter
into the conspiracy. A secret consultation was held among the caciques,
wherein it was concerted, that on the day of payment of their quarterly
tribute, when a great number could assemble without causing suspicion,
they should suddenly rise upon the Spaniards and massacre them. [13]

By some means the garrison at Fort Conception received intimation of this
conspiracy. Being but a handful of men, and surrounded by hostile tribes,
they wrote a letter to the Adelantado, at San Domingo, imploring immediate
aid. As this letter might be taken from their Indian messenger, the
natives having discovered that these letters had a wonderful power of
communicating intelligence, and fancying they could talk, it was inclosed
in a reed, to be used as a staff. The messenger was, in fact, intercepted;
but, affecting to be dumb and lame, and intimating by signs that he was
returning home, was permitted to limp forward on his journey. When out of
sight he resumed his speed, and bore the letter safely and expeditiously
to San Domingo. [14]

The Adelantado, with his characteristic promptness and activity, set out
immediately with a body of troops for the fortress; and though his men
were much enfeebled by scanty fare, hard service, and long marches,
hurried them rapidly forward. Never did aid arrive more opportunely. The
Indians were assembled on the plain, to the amount of many thousands,
armed after their manner, and waiting for the appointed time to strike the
blow. After consulting with the commander of the fortress and his
officers, the Adelantado concerted a mode of proceeding. Ascertaining the
places in which the various caciques had distributed their forces, he
appointed an officer with a body of men to each cacique, with orders, at
an appointed hour of the night, to rush into the villages, surprise them
asleep and unarmed, bind the caciques, and bring them off prisoners. As
Guarionex was the most important personage, and his capture would probably
be attended with most difficulty and danger, the Adelantado took the
charge of it upon himself, at the head of one hundred men.

This stratagem, founded upon a knowledge of the attachment of the Indians
to their chieftains, and calculated to spare a great effusion of blood,
was completely successful. The villages, having no walls nor other
defences, were quietly entered at midnight; and the Spaniards, rushing
suddenly into the houses where the caciques were quartered, seized and
bound them, to the number of fourteen, and hurried them off to the
fortress, before any effort could be made for their defence or rescue. The
Indians, struck with terror, made no resistance, nor any show of
hostility; surrounding the fortress in great multitudes, but without
weapons, they filled the air with doleful howlings and lamentations,
imploring the release of their chieftains. The Adelantado completed his
enterprise with the spirit, sagacity, and moderation with which he had
hitherto conducted it. He obtained information of the causes of this
conspiracy, and the individuals most culpable. Two caciques, the principal
movers of the insurrection, and who had most wrought upon the easy nature
of Guarionex, were put to death. As to that unfortunate cacique, the
Adelantado, considering the deep wrongs he had suffered, and the slowness
with which he had been provoked to revenge, magnanimously pardoned him;
nay, according to Las Casas, he proceeded with stern justice against the
Spaniard whose outrage on his wife had sunk so deeply in his heart. He
extended his lenity also to the remaining chieftains of the conspiracy;
promising great favors and rewards, if they should continue firm in their
loyalty; but terrible punishments should they again be found in rebellion.
The heart of Guarionex was subdued by this unexpected clemency. He made a
speech to his people, setting forth the irresistible might and valor of
the Spaniards; their great lenity to offenders, and their generosity to
such as were faithful; and he earnestly exhorted them henceforth to
cultivate their friendship. The Indians listened to him with attention;
his praises of the white men were confirmed by their treatment of himself;
when he had concluded, they took him up on their shoulders, bore him to
his habitation with songs and shouts of joy, and for some time the
tranquillity of the Vega was restored.  [15]

Chapter III.

The Adelantado Repairs to Xaragua to Receive Tribute.


With all his energy and discretion, the Adelantado found it difficult to
manage the proud and turbulent spirit of the colonists. They could ill
brook the sway of a foreigner, who, when they were restive, curbed them
with an iron hand. Don Bartholomew had not the same legitimate authority
in their eyes as his brother. The admiral was the discoverer of the
country, and the authorized representative of the sovereigns; yet even him
they with difficulty brought themselves to obey. The Adelantado, on the
contrary, was regarded by many as a mere intruder, assuming high command
without authority from the crown, and shouldering himself into power on
the merits and services of his brother. They spoke with impatience and
indignation, also, of the long absence of the admiral, and his fancied
inattention to their wants; little aware of the incessant anxieties he was
suffering on their account, during his detention in Spain. The sagacious
measure of the Adelantado in building the caravels for some time diverted
their attention. They watched their progress with solicitude, looking upon
them as a means either of obtaining relief, or of abandoning the island.
Aware that repining and discontented men should never be left in idleness,
Don Bartholomew kept them continually in movement; and indeed a state of
constant activity was congenial to his own vigorous spirit. About this
time messengers arrived from Behechio, cacique of Xaragua, informing him
that he had large quantities of cotton, and other articles, in which his
tribute was to be paid, ready for delivery. The Adelantado immediately set
forth with a numerous train, to revisit this fruitful and happy region. He
was again received with songs and dances, and all the national
demonstrations of respect and amity by Behechio and his sister Anacaona.
The latter appeared to be highly popular among the natives, and to have
almost as much sway in Xaragua as her brother. Her natural ease, and the
graceful dignity of her manners, more and more won the admiration of the

The Adelantado found thirty-two inferior caciques assembled in the house
of Behechio, awaiting his arrival with their respective tributes. The
cotton they had brought was enough to fill one of their houses. Having
delivered this, they gratuitously offered the Adelantado as much cassava
bread as he desired. The offer was most acceptable in the present
necessitous state of the colony; and Don Bartholomew sent to Isabella for
one of the caravels, which was nearly finished, to be dispatched as soon
as possible to Xaragua, to be freighted with bread and cotton.

In the meantime, the natives brought from all quarters large supplies of
provisions, and entertained their guests with continual festivity and
banqueting. The early Spanish writers, whose imaginations, heated by the
accounts of the voyagers, could not form an idea of the simplicity of
savage life, especially in these newly-discovered countries, which were
supposed to border upon Asia, often speak in terms of oriental
magnificence of the entertainments of the natives, the palaces of the
caciques, and the lords and ladies of their courts, as if they were
describing the abodes of Asiatic potentates. The accounts given of
Xaragua, however, have a different character; and give a picture of savage
life, in its perfection of idle and ignorant enjoyment. The troubles which
distracted the other parts of devoted Hayti had not reached the
inhabitants of this pleasant region. Living among beautiful and fruitful
groves, on the borders of a sea apparently for ever tranquil and unvexed
by storms; having few wants, and those readily supplied, they appeared
emancipated from the common lot of labor, and to pass their lives in one
uninterrupted holiday. When the Spaniards regarded the fertility and
sweetness of this country, the gentleness of its people, and the beauty of
its women, they pronounced it a perfect paradise.

At length the caravel arrived which was to be freighted with the articles
of tribute. It anchored about six miles from the residence of Behechio,
and Anacaona proposed to her brother that they should go together to
behold what she called the great canoe of the white men. On their way to
the coast, the Adelantado was lodged one night in a village, in a house
where Anacaona treasured up those articles which she esteemed most rare
and precious. They consisted of various manufactures of cotton,
ingeniously wrought; of vessels of clay, moulded into different forms; of
chairs, tables, and like articles of furniture, formed of ebony and other
kinds of wood, and carved with various devices,--all evincing great skill
and ingenuity, in a people who had no iron tools to work with. Such were
the simple treasures of this Indian princess, of which she made numerous
presents to her guest.

Nothing could exceed the wonder and delight of this intelligent woman,
when she first beheld the ship. Her brother, who treated her with a
fraternal fondness and respectful attention worthy of civilized life, had
prepared two canoes, gayly painted and decorated; one to convey her and
her attendants, and the other for himself and his chieftains. Anacaona,
however, preferred to embark, with her attendants, in the ship's boat with
the Adelantado. As they approached the caravel, a salute was fired. At the
report of the cannon, and the sight of the smoke, Anacaona, overcome with
dismay, fell into the arms of the Adelantado, and her attendants would
have leaped overboard, but the laughter and the cheerful words of Don
Bartholomew speedily reassured them. As they drew nearer to the vessel,
several instruments of martial music struck up, with which they were
greatly delighted. Their admiration increased on entering on board.
Accustomed only to their simple and slight canoes, every thing here
appeared wonderfully vast and complicated. But when the anchor was
weighed, the sails were spread, and, aided by a gentle breeze, they beheld
this vast mass, moving apparently by its own volition, veering from side
to side, and playing like a huge monster in the deep, the brother and
sister remained gazing at each other in mute astonishment. [16]
Nothing seems to have filled the mind of the most stoical savage with more
wonder than that sublime and beautiful triumph of genius, a ship under

Having freighted and dispatched the caravel, the Adelantado made many
presents to Behechio, his sister, and their attendants, and took leave of
them, to return by land with his troops to Isabella. Anacaona showed great
affliction at their parting, entreating him to remain some time longer
with them, and appearing fearful that they had failed in their humble
attempt to please him. She even offered to follow him to the settlement,
nor would she be consoled until he had promised to return again to
Xaragua. [17]

We cannot but remark the ability shown by the Adelantado in the course of
his transient government of the island. Wonderfully alert and active, he
made repeated marches of great extent, from one remote province to
another, and was always at the post of danger at the critical moment. By
skillful management, with a handful of men, he defeated a formidable
insurrection without any effusion of blood. He conciliated the most
inveterate enemies among the natives by great moderation, while he
deterred all wanton hostilities by the infliction of signal punishments.
He had made firm friends of the most important chieftains, brought their
dominions under cheerful tribute, opened new sources of supplies for the
colony, and procured relief from its immediate wants. Had his judicious
measures been seconded by those under his command, the whole country would
have been a scene of tranquil prosperity, and would have produced great
revenues to the crown, without cruelty to the natives; but, like his
brother the admiral, his good intentions and judicious arrangements were
constantly thwarted by the vile passions and perverse conduct of others.
While he was absent from Isabella, new mischiefs had been fomented there,
which were soon to throw the whole island into confusion.

Chapter IV.

Conspiracy of Roldan.


The prime mover of the present mischief was one Francisco Roldan, a man
under the deepest obligations to the admiral. Raised by him from poverty
and obscurity, he had been employed at first in menial capacities; but,
showing strong natural talents, and great assiduity, he had been made
ordinary alcalde, equivalent to justice of the peace. The able manner in
which he acquitted himself in this situation, and the persuasion of his
great fidelity and gratitude, induced Columbus, on departing for Spain, to
appoint him alcalde mayor, or chief judge of the island. It is true he was
an uneducated man, but, as there were as yet no intricacies of law in the
colony, the office required little else than shrewd good sense and upright
principles for its discharge. [18]

Roldan was one of those base spirits which grow venomous in the sunshine
of prosperity. His benefactor had returned to Spain apparently under a
cloud of disgrace; a long interval had elapsed without tidings from him;
he considered him a fallen man, and began to devise how he might profit by
his downfall. He was intrusted with an office inferior only to that of the
Adelantado; the brothers of Columbus were highly unpopular; he imagined it
possible to ruin them, both with the colonists and with the government at
home, and by dextrous cunning and bustling activity to work his way into
the command of the colony. The vigorous and somewhat austere character of
the Adelantado for some time kept him in awe; but when he was absent from
the settlement, Roldan was able to carry on his machinations with
confidence. Don Diego, who then commanded at Isabella, was an upright and
worthy man, but deficient in energy. Roldan felt himself his superior in
talent and spirit, and his self-conceit was wounded at being inferior to
him in authority. He soon made a party among the daring and dissolute of
the community, and secretly loosened the ties of order and good
government, by listening to and encouraging the discontents of the common
people, and directing them against the character and conduct of Columbus
and his brothers. He had heretofore been employed as superintendent of
various public works; this brought him into familiar communication with
workmen, sailors, and others of the lower order. His originally vulgar
character enabled him to adapt himself to their intellects and manners,
while his present station gave him consequence in their eyes. Finding them
full of murmurs about hard treatment, severe toil, and the long absence of
the admiral, he affected to be moved by their distresses. He threw out
suggestions that the admiral might never return, being disgraced and
ruined in consequence of the representations of Aguado. He sympathized
with the hard treatment they experienced from the Adelantado and his
brother Don Diego, who, being foreigners, could take no interest in their
welfare, nor feel a proper respect for the pride of a Spaniard; but who
used them merely as slaves, to build houses and fortresses for them, or to
swell their state and secure their power, as they marched about the island
enriching themselves with the spoils of the caciques. By these suggestions
he exasperated their feelings to such a height, that they had at one time
formed a conspiracy to take away the life of the Adelantado, as the only
means of delivering themselves from an odious tyrant. The time and place
for the perpetration of the act were concerted. The Adelantado had
condemned to death a Spaniard of the name of Berahona, a friend of Roldan,
and of several of the conspirators. What was his offence is not positively
stated, but from a passage in Las Casas [19] there is reason to believe
that he was the very Spaniard who had violated the favorite wife of
Guarionex, the cacique of the Vega. The Adelantado would be present at the
execution. It was arranged, therefore, that when the populace had
assembled, a tumult should be made as if by accident, and in the confusion
of the moment, Don Bartholomew should be dispatched with a poniard.
Fortunately for the Adelantado, he pardoned the criminal, the assemblage
did not take place, and the plan of the conspirators was disconcerted.

When Don Bartholomew was absent collecting the tribute in Xaragua, Roldan
thought it was a favorable time to bring affairs to a crisis. He had
sounded the feelings of the colonists, and ascertained that there was a
large party disposed for open sedition. His plan was to create a popular
tumult, to interpose in his official character of alcalde mayor, to throw
the blame upon the oppression and injustice of Don Diego and his brother,
and, while he usurped the reins of authority, to appear as if actuated
only by zeal for the peace and prosperity of the island, and the interests
of the sovereigns.

A pretext soon presented itself for the proposed tumult. When the caravel
returned from Xaragua laden with the Indian tributes, and the cargo was
discharged, Don Diego had the vessel drawn up on the land, to protect it
from accidents, or from any sinister designs of the disaffected colonists.
Roldan immediately pointed this circumstance out to his partisans. He
secretly inveighed against the hardship of having this vessel drawn on
shore, instead of being left afloat for the benefit of the colony, or sent
to Spain to make known their distresses. He hinted that the true reason
was the fear of the Adelantado and his brother, lest accounts should be
carried to Spain of their misconduct, and he affirmed that they wished to
remain undisturbed masters of the island, and keep the Spaniards there as
subjects, or rather as slaves. The people took fire at these suggestions.
They had long looked forward to the completion of the caravels as their
only chance for relief; they now insisted that the vessel should be
launched and sent to Spain for supplies. Don Diego endeavored to convince
them of the folly of their demand, the vessel not being rigged and
equipped for such a voyage; but the more he attempted to pacify them, the
more unreasonable and turbulent they became. Roldan, also, became more
bold and explicit in his instigations. He advised them to launch and take
possession of the caravel, as the only mode of regaining their
independence. They might then throw off the tyranny of these upstart
strangers, enemies in their hearts to Spaniards, and might lead a life of
ease and pleasure; sharing equally all that they might gain by barter in
the island, employing the Indians as slaves to work for them, and enjoying
unrestrained indulgence with respect to the Indian women. [21]

Don Diego received information of what was fermenting among the people,
yet feared to come to an open rupture with Roldan in the present mutinous
state of the colony. He suddenly detached him, therefore, with forty men,
to the Vega, under pretext of overawing certain of the natives who had
refused to pay their tribute, and had shown a disposition to revolt.
Roldan made use of this opportunity to strengthen his faction. He made
friends and partisans among the discontented caciques, secretly justifying
them in their resistance to the imposition of tribute, and promising them
redress. He secured the devotion of his own soldiers by great acts of
indulgence, disarming and dismissing such as refused full participation in
his plans, and returned with his little band to Isabella, where he felt
secure of a strong party among the common people.

The Adelantado had by this time returned from Xaragua; but Roldan, feeling
himself at the head of a strong faction, and arrogating to himself great
authority from his official station, now openly demanded that the caravel
should be launched, or permission given to himself and his followers to
launch it. The Adelantado peremptorily refused, observing that neither he
nor his companions were mariners, nor was the caravel furnished and
equipped for sea, and that neither the safety of the vessel, nor of the
people, should be endangered by their attempt to navigate her.

Roldan perceived that his motives were suspected, and felt that the
Adelantado was too formidable an adversary to contend with in any open
sedition at Isabella. He determined, therefore, to carry his plans into
operation in some more favorable part of the island, always trusting to
excuse any open rebellion against the authority of Don Bartholomew, by
representing it as a patriotic opposition to his tyranny over Spaniards.
He had seventy well-armed and determined men under his command, and he
trusted, on erecting his standard, to be joined by all the disaffected
throughout the island. He set off suddenly, therefore, for the Vega,
intending to surprise the fortress of Conception, and by getting command
of that post and the rich country adjacent, to set the Adelantado at

He stopped, on his way, at various Indian villages in which the Spaniards
were distributed, endeavoring to enlist the latter in his party, by
holding out promises of great gain and free living. He attempted also to
seduce the natives from their allegiance, by promising them freedom from
all tribute. Those caciques with whom he had maintained a previous
understanding, received him with open arms; particularly one who had taken
the name of Diego Marque, whose village he made his headquarters, being
about two leagues from Fort Conception. He was disappointed in his hopes
of surprising the fortress. Its commander, Miguel Ballester, was an old
and staunch soldier, both resolute and wary. He drew himself into his
stronghold on the approach of Roldan, and closed his gates. His garrison
was small, but the fortification, situated on the side of a hill, with a
river running at its foot, was proof against any assault. Roldan had still
some hopes that Ballester might be disaffected to government, and might be
gradually brought into his plans, or that the garrison would be disposed
to desert, tempted by the licentious life which he permitted among his
followers. In the neighborhood was the town inhabited by Guarionex. Here
were quartered thirty soldiers, under the command of Captain Garcia de
Barrantes. Roldan repaired thither with his armed force, hoping to enlist
Barrantes and his party; but the captain shut himself up with his men in a
fortified house, refusing to permit them to hold any communication with
Roldan. The latter threatened to set fire to the house; but after a little
consideration, contented himself with seizing their store of provisions,
and then marched towards Fort Conception, which was not quite half a
league distant. [22]

Chapter V.

The Adelantado Repairs to the Vega in Relief of Fort Conception.--His
Interview with Roldan.


The Adelantado had received intelligence of the flagitious proceedings of
Roldan, yet hesitated for a time to set out in pursuit of him. He had lost
all confidence in the loyalty of the people around him, and knew not how
far the conspiracy extended, nor on whom he could rely. Diego de Escobar,
alcayde of the fortress of La Madalena, together with Adrian de Moxica and
Pedro de Valdivieso, all principal men, were in league with Roldan. He
feared that the commander of Fort Conception might likewise be in the
plot, and the whole island in arms against him. He was reassured, however,
by tidings from Miguel Ballester. That loyal veteran wrote to him pressing
letters for succor; representing the weakness of his garrison, and the
increasing forces of the rebels.

Don Bartholomew hastened to his assistance with his accustomed promptness,
and threw himself with a reinforcement into the fortress. Being ignorant
of the force of the rebels, and doubtful of the loyalty of his own
followers, he determined to adopt mild measures. Understanding that Roldan
was quartered at a village but half a league distant, he sent a message to
him, remonstrating on the flagrant irregularity of his conduct, the injury
it was calculated to produce in the island, and the certain ruin it must
bring upon himself, and summoning him to appear at the fortress, pledging
his word for his personal safety. Roldan repaired accordingly to Fort
Conception, where the Adelantado held a parley with him from a window,
demanding the reason of his appearing in arms, in opposition to royal
authority. Roldan replied boldly, that he was in the service of his
sovereigns, defending their subjects from the oppression of men who sought
their destruction. The Adelantado ordered him to surrender his staff of
office, as alcalde mayor, and to submit peaceably to superior authority.
Roldan refused to resign his office, or to put himself in the power of Don
Bartholomew, whom he charged with seeking his life. He refused also to
submit to any trial, unless commanded by the king. Pretending, however, to
make no resistance to the peaceable exercise of authority, he offered to
go with his followers, and reside at any place the Adelantado might
appoint. The latter immediately designated the village of the cacique
Diego Colon, the same native of the Lucayos Islands who had been baptized
in Spain, and had since married a daughter of Guarionex. Roldan objected,
pretending there were not sufficient provisions to be had there for the
subsistence of his men, and departed, declaring that he would seek a more
eligible residence elsewhere. [23]

He now proposed to his followers to take possession of the remote province
of Xaragua. The Spaniards who had returned thence gave enticing accounts
of the life they had led there; of the fertility of the soil, the
sweetness of the climate, the hospitality and gentleness of the people,
their feasts, dances, and various amusements, and, above all, the beauty
of the women; for they had been captivated by the naked charms of the
dancing nymphs of Xaragua. In this delightful region, emancipated from the
iron rule of the Adelantado, and relieved from the necessity of irksome
labor, they might lead a life of perfect freedom and indulgence, and have
a world of beauty at their command. In short, Roldan drew a picture of
loose sensual enjoyment, such as he knew to be irresistible with men of
idle and dissolute habits. His followers acceded with joy to his
proposition. Some preparations, however, were necessary to carry it into
effect. Taking advantage of the absence of the Adelantado, he suddenly
marched with his band to Isabella, and entering it in a manner by
surprise, endeavored to launch the caravel, with which they might sail to
Xaragua. Don Diego Columbus, hearing the tumult, issued forth with several
cavaliers; but such was the force of the mutineers, and their menacing
conduct, that he was obliged to withdraw, with his adherents, into the
fortress. Roldan held several parleys with him, and offered to submit to
his command, provided he would set himself up in opposition to his brother
the Adelantado. His proposition was treated with scorn. The fortress was
too strong to be assailed with success; he found it impossible to launch
the caravel, and feared the Adelantado might return, and he be inclosed
between two forces. He proceeded, therefore, in all haste to make
provisions for the proposed expedition to Xaragua. Still pretending to act
in his official capacity, and to do every thing from loyal motives, for
the protection and support of the oppressed subjects of the crown, he
broke open the royal warehouse, with shouts of "Long live the king!"
supplied his followers with arms, ammunition, clothing, and whatever they
desired from the public stores; proceeded to the inclosure where the
cattle and other European animals were kept to breed, took such as he
thought necessary for his intended establishment, and permitted his
followers to kill such of the remainder as they might want for present
supply. Having committed this wasteful ravage, he marched in triumph out
of Isabella. [24] Reflecting, however, on the prompt and vigorous
character of the Adelantado, he felt that his situation would be but
little secure with such an active enemy behind him; who, on extricating
himself from present perplexities, would not fail to pursue him to his
proposed paradise of Xaragua. He determined, therefore, to march again to
the Vega, and endeavor either to get possession of the person of the
Adelantado, or to strike some blow, in his present crippled state, that
should disable him from offering further molestation. Returning,
therefore, to the vicinity of Fort Conception, he endeavored in every way,
by the means of subtle emissaries, to seduce the garrison to desertion, or
to excite it to revolt.

The Adelantado dared not take the field with his forces, having no
confidence in their fidelity. He knew that they listened wistfully to the
emissaries of Roldan, and contrasted the meagre fare and stern discipline
of the garrison with the abundant cheer and easy misrule that prevailed
among the rebels. To counteract these seductions, he relaxed from his
usual strictness, treating his men with great indulgence, and promising
them large rewards. By these means he was enabled to maintain some degree
of loyalty amongst his forces, his service having the advantage over that
of Roldan, of being on the side of government and law.

Finding his attempts to corrupt the garrison unsuccessful, and fearing
some sudden sally from the vigorous Adelantado, Roldan drew off to a
distance, and sought by insidious means to strengthen his own power, and
weaken that of the government. He asserted equal right to manage the
affairs of the island with the Adelantado, and pretended to have separated
from him on account of his being passionate and vindictive in the exercise
of his authority. He represented him as the tyrant of the Spaniards, the
oppressor of the Indians. For himself, he assumed the character of a
redresser of grievances and champion of the injured. He pretended to feel
a patriotic indignation at the affronts heaped upon Spaniards by a family
of obscure and arrogant foreigners; and professed to free the natives from
tributes wrung from them by these rapacious men for their own enrichment,
and contrary to the beneficent intentions of the Spanish monarchs. He
connected himself closely with the Carib cacique Manicaotex, brother of
the late Caonabo, whose son and nephew were in his possession as hostages
for payment of tributes. This warlike chieftain he conciliated by presents
and caresses, bestowing on him the appellation of brother. [25] The
unhappy natives, deceived by his professions, and overjoyed at the idea of
having a protector in arms for their defence, submitted cheerfully to a
thousand impositions, supplying his followers with provisions in
abundance, and bringing to Roldan all the gold they could collect;
voluntarily yielding him heavier tributes than those from which he
pretended to free them.

The affairs of the island were now in a lamentable situation. The Indians,
perceiving the dissensions among the white men, and encouraged by the
protection of Roldan, began to throw off all allegiance to the government.
The caciques at a distance ceased to send in their tributes, and those who
were in the vicinity were excused by the Adelantado, that by indulgence he
might retain their friendship in this time of danger. Roldan's faction
daily gained strength; they ranged insolently and at large in the open
country, and were supported by the misguided natives; while the Spaniards
who remained loyal, fearing conspiracies among the natives, had to keep
under shelter of the fort, or in the strong houses which they had erected
in the villages. The commanders were obliged to palliate all kinds of
slights and indignities, both from their soldiers and from the Indians,
fearful of driving them to sedition by any severity. The clothing and
munitions of all kinds, either for maintenance or defence, were rapidly
wasting away, and the want of all supplies or tidings from Spain was
sinking the spirits of the well-affected into despondency. The Adelantado
was shut up in Fort Conception, in daily expectation of being openly
besieged by Roldan, and was secretly informed that means were taken to
destroy him, should he issue from the walls of the fortress. [26]

Such was the desperate state to which the colony was reduced, in
consequence of the long detention of Columbus in Spain, and the
impediments thrown in the way of all his measures for the benefit of the
island by the delays of cabinets and the chicanery of Fonseca and his
satellites. At this critical juncture, when faction reigned triumphant,
and the colony was on the brink of ruin, tidings were brought to the Vega
that Pedro Fernandez Coronal had arrived at the port of San Domingo, with
two ships, bringing supplies of all kinds, and a strong reinforcement of
troops. [27]

Chapter VI.

Second Insurrection of Guarionex, and His Flight to the Mountains of


The arrival of Coronal, which took place on the third of February, was the
salvation of the colony. The reinforcements of troops, and of supplies of
all kinds, strengthened the hands of Don Bartholomew. The royal
confirmation of his title and authority as Adelantado at once dispelled
all doubts as to the legitimacy of his power; and the tidings that the
admiral was in high favor at court, and would soon arrive with a powerful
squadron, struck consternation into those who had entered into the
rebellion on the presumption of his having fallen into disgrace.

The Adelantado no longer remained mewed up in his fortress, but set out
immediately for San Domingo with a part of his troops, although a much
superior rebel force was at the village of the cacique Guarionex, at a
very short distance. Roldan followed slowly and gloomily with his party,
anxious to ascertain the truth of these tidings, to make partisans, if
possible, among those who had newly arrived, and to take advantage of
every circumstance that might befriend his rash and hazardous projects.
The Adelantado left strong guards on the passes of the roads to prevent
his near approach to San Domingo, but Roldan paused within a few leagues
of the place.

When the Adelantado found himself secure in San Domingo with this
augmentation of force, and the prospect of a still greater reinforcement
at hand, his magnanimity prevailed over his indignation, and he sought by
gentle means to allay the popular seditions, that the island might be
restored to tranquillity before his brother's arrival. He considered that
the colonists had suffered greatly from the want of supplies; that their
discontents had been heightened by the severities he had been compelled to
inflict; and that many had been led to rebellion by doubts of the
legitimacy of his authority. While, therefore, he proclaimed the royal act
sanctioning his title and powers, he promised amnesty for all past
offences, on condition of immediate return to allegiance. Hearing that
Roldan was within five leagues of San Domingo with his band, he sent Pedro
Fernandez Coronal, who had been appointed by the sovereigns alguazil mayor
of the island, to exhort him to obedience, promising him oblivion of the
past. He trusted that the representations of a discreet and honorable man
like Coronal, who had been witness of the favor in which his brother stood
in Spain, would convince the rebels of the hopelessness of their course.

Roldan, however, conscious of his guilt, and doubtful of the clemency of
Don Bartholomew, feared to venture within his power; he determined, also,
to prevent his followers from communicating with Coronal, lest they should
be seduced from him by the promise of pardon. When that emissary,
therefore, approached the encampment of the rebels, he was opposed in a
narrow pass by a body of archers, with their cross-bows levelled. "Halt
there! traitor!" cried Roldan, "had you arrived eight days later, we
should all have been united as one man." [28]

In vain Coronal endeavored by fair reasoning and earnest entreaty to win
this perverse and turbulent man from his career. Roldan answered with
hardihood and defiance, professing to oppose only the tyranny and misrule
of the Adelantado, but to be ready to submit to the admiral on his
arrival. He, and several of his principal confederates, wrote letters to
the same effect to their friends in San Domingo, urging them to plead
their cause with the admiral when he should arrive, and to assure him of
their disposition to acknowledge his authority.

When Coronal returned with accounts of Roldan's contumacy, the Adelantado
proclaimed him and his followers traitors. That shrewd rebel, however, did
not suffer his men to remain within either the seduction of promise or the
terror of menace; he immediately set out on his march for his promised
land of Xaragua, trusting to impair every honest principle and virtuous
tie of his misguided followers by a life of indolence and libertinage.

In the meantime the mischievous effects of his intrigues among the
caciques became more and more apparent. No sooner had the Adelantado left
Fort Conception, than a conspiracy was formed among the natives to
surprise it. Guarionex was at the head of this conspiracy, moved by the
instigations of Roldan, who had promised him protection and assistance,
and led on by the forlorn hope, in this distracted state of the Spanish
forces, of relieving his paternal domains from the intolerable domination
of usurping strangers. Holding secret communications with his tributary
caciques, it was concerted that they should all rise simultaneously and
massacre the soldiery, quartered in small parties in their villages; while
he, with a chosen force, should surprise the fortress of Conception. The
night of the full moon was fixed upon for the insurrection.

One of the principal caciques, however, not being a correct observer of
the heavenly bodies, took up arms before the appointed night, and was
repulsed by the soldiers quartered in his village. The alarm was given,
and the Spaniards were all put on the alert. The cacique fled to Guarionex
for protection, but the chieftain, enraged at his fatal blunder, put him
to death upon the spot.

No sooner did the Adelantado hear of this fresh conspiracy, than he put
himself on the march for the Vega with a strong body of men. Guarionex did
not await his coming. He saw that every attempt was fruitless to shake off
these strangers, who had settled like a curse upon his territories. He had
found their very friendship withering and destructive, and he now dreaded
their vengeance. Abandoning, therefore, his rightful domain, the once
happy Vega, he fled with his family and a small band of faithful followers
to the mountains of Ciguay. This is a lofty chain, extending along the
north side of the island, between the Vega and the sea. The inhabitants
were the most robust and hardy tribe of the island, and far more
formidable than the mild inhabitants of the plains. It was a part of this
tribe which displayed hostility to the Spaniards in the course of the
first voyage of Columbus, and in a skirmish with them in the Gulf of
Semana the first drop of native blood had been shed in the New World. The
reader may remember the frank and confiding conduct of these people the
day after the skirmish, and the intrepid faith with which their cacique
trusted himself on board of the caravel of the admiral, and in the power
of the Spaniards. It was to this same cacique, named Mayobanex, that the
fugitive chieftain of the Vega now applied for refuge. He came to his
residence at an Indian town near Cape Cabron, about forty leagues east of
Isabella, and implored shelter for his wife and children, and his handful
of loyal followers. The noble-minded cacique of the mountains received him
with open arms. He not only gave an asylum to his family, but engaged to
stand by him in his distress, to defend his cause, and share his desperate
fortunes. [29]Men in civilized life learn magnanimity from precept,
but their most generous actions are often rivaled by the deeds of
untutored savages, who act only from natural impulse.

Chapter VII.

Campaign of the Adelantado in the Mountains of Ciguay.


Aided by his mountain ally, and by bands of hardy Ciguayans, Guarionex
made several descents into the plain, cutting off straggling parties of
the Spaniards, laying waste the villages of the natives which continued in
allegiance to them, and destroying the fruits of the earth. The Adelantado
put a speedy stop to these molestations; but he determined to root out so
formidable an adversary from the neighborhood. Shrinking from no danger
nor fatigue, and leaving nothing to be done by others which he could do
himself, he set forth in the spring with a band of ninety men, a few
cavalry, and a body of Indians, to penetrate the Ciguay mountains.

After passing a steep defile, rendered almost impracticable for troops by
rugged rocks and exuberant vegetation, he descended into a beautiful
valley or plain, extending along the coast, and embraced by arms of the
mountains which approached the sea. His advance into the country was
watched by the keen eyes of Indian scouts who lurked among rocks and
thickets. As the Spaniards were seeking the ford of a river at the
entrance of the plain, two of these spies darted from among the bushes on
its bank. One flung himself headlong into the water, and swimming across
the mouth of the river escaped; the other being taken, gave information
that six thousand Indians lay in ambush on the opposite shore, waiting to
attack them as they crossed.

The Adelantado advanced with caution, and finding a shallow place, entered
the river with his troops. They were scarcely midway in the stream when
the savages, hideously painted, and looking more like fiends than men,
burst from their concealment. The forest rang with their yells and
howlings. They discharged a shower of arrows and lances, by which,
notwithstanding the protection of their targets, many of the Spaniards
were wounded. The Adelantado, however, forced his way across the river,
and the Indians took to flight. Some were killed, but their swiftness of
foot, their knowledge of the forest, and their dexterity in winding
through the most tangled thickets, enabled the greater number to elude the
pursuit of the Spaniards, who were encumbered with armor, targets,
crossbows, and lances.

By the advice of one of his Indian guides, the Adelantado pressed forward
along the valley to reach the residence of Mayobanex, at Cabron. In the
way he had several skirmishes with the natives, who would suddenly rush
forth with furious war-cries from ambuscades among the bushes, discharge
their weapons, and take refuge again in the fastnesses of their rocks and
forests, inaccessible to the Spaniards.

Having taken several prisoners, the Adelantado sent one accompanied by an
Indian of a friendly tribe, as a messenger to Mayobanex, demanding the
surrender of Guarionex; promising friendship and protection in case of
compliance, but threatening, in case of refusal, to lay waste his
territory with fire and sword. The cacique listened attentively to the
messenger: "Tell the Spaniards," said he in reply, "that they are bad men,
cruel and tyrannical; usurpers of the territories of others, and shedders
of innocent blood. I desire not the friendship of such men; Guarionex is a
good man, he is my friend, he is my guest, he has fled to me for refuge, I
have promised to protect him, and I will keep my word."

This magnanimous reply, or rather defiance, convinced the Adelantado that
nothing was to be gained by friendly overtures. When severity was
required, he could be a stern soldier. He immediately ordered the village
in which he had been quartered, and several others in the neighborhood, to
be set on fire. He then sent further messengers to Mayobanex, warning him
that, unless he delivered up the fugitive cacique, his whole dominions
should be laid waste in like manner; and he would see nothing in every
direction but the smoke and flames of burning villages. Alarmed at this
impending destruction, the Ciguayans surrounded their chieftain with
clamorous lamentations, cursing the day that Guarionex had taken refuge
among them, and urging that he should be given up for the salvation of the
country. The generous cacique was inflexible. He reminded them of the many
virtues of Guarionex, and the sacred claims he had on their hospitality,
and declared he would abide all evils, rather than it should ever be said
Mayobanex had betrayed his guest.

The people retired with sorrowful hearts, and the chieftain, summoning
Guarionex into his presence, again pledged his word to protect him, though
it should cost him his dominions. He sent no reply to the Adelantado, and
lest further messages might tempt the fidelity of his subjects, he placed
men in ambush, with orders to slay any messenger who might approach. They
had not lain in wait long, before they beheld two men advancing through
the forest, one of whom was a captive Ciguayan, and the other an Indian
ally of the Spaniards. They were both instantly slain. The Adelantado was
following at no great distance, with only ten foot-soldiers and four
horsemen. When he found his messengers lying dead in the forest path,
transfixed with arrows, he was greatly exasperated, and resolved to deal
rigorously with this obstinate tribe. He advanced, therefore, with all his
force to Cabron, where Mayobanex and his army were quartered. At his
approach the inferior caciques and their adherents fled, overcome by
terror of the Spaniards. Finding himself thus deserted, Mayobanex took
refuge with his family in a secret part of the mountains. Several of the
Ciguayans sought for Guarionex, to kill him or deliver him up as a
propitiatory offering, but he fled to the heights, where he wandered about
alone, in the most savage and desolate places.

The density of the forests and the ruggedness of the mountains rendered
this expedition excessively painful and laborious, and protracted it far
beyond the time that the Adelantado had contemplated. His men suffered,
not merely from fatigue, but hunger. The natives had all fled to the
mountains; their villages remained empty and desolate; all the provisions
of the Spaniards consisted of cassava bread, and such roots and herbs as
their Indian allies could gather for them, with now and then a few utias
taken with the assistance of their dogs. They slept almost always on the
ground, in the open air, under the trees, exposed to the heavy dew which
falls in this climate. For three months they were thus ranging the
mountains, until almost worn out with toil and hard fare. Many of them had
farms in the neighborhood of Fort Conception, which required their
attention; they, therefore, entreated permission, since the Indians were
terrified and dispersed, to return to their abodes in the Vega.

The Adelantado granted many of them passports and an allowance out of the
scanty stock of bread which remained. Retaining only thirty men, he
resolved with these to search every den and cavern of the mountains until
he should find the two caciques. It was difficult, however, to trace them
in such a wilderness. There was no one to give a clue to their retreat,
for the whole country was abandoned. There were the habitations of men,
but not a human being to be seen; or if, by chance, they caught some
wretched Indian stealing forth from the mountains in quest of food, he
always professed utter ignorance of the hiding-place of the caciques.

It happened one day, however, that several Spaniards, while hunting utias,
captured two of the followers of Mayobanex, who were on their way to a
distant village in search of bread. They were taken to the Adelantado, who
compelled them to betray the place of concealment of their chieftain, and
to act as guides. Twelve Spaniards volunteered to go in quest of him.
Stripping themselves naked, staining and painting their bodies so as to
look like Indians, and covering their swords with palm-leaves, they were
conducted by the guides to the retreat of the unfortunate Mayobanex. They
came secretly upon him, and found him surrounded by his wife and children
and a few of his household, totally unsuspicious of danger. Drawing their
swords, the Spaniards rushed upon them, and made them all prisoners. When
they were brought to the Adelantado, he gave up all further search after
Guarionex, and returned to Fort Conception.

Among the prisoners thus taken was the sister of Mayobanex. She was the
wife of another cacique of the mountains, whose territories had never yet
been visited by the Spaniards; and she was reputed to be one of the most
beautiful women of the island. Tenderly attached to her brother, she had
abandoned the security of her own dominions, and had followed him among
rocks and precipices, participating in all his hardships, and comforting
him with a woman's sympathy and kindness. When her husband heard of her
captivity, he hastened to the Adelantado and offered to submit himself and
all his possessions to his sway, if his wife might be restored to him. The
Adelantado accepted his offer of allegiance, and released his wife and
several of his subjects who had been captured. The cacique, faithful to
his word, became a firm and valuable ally of the Spaniards, cultivating
large tracts of land, and supplying them with great quantities of bread
and other provisions.

Kindness appears never to have been lost upon the people of this island.
When this act of clemency reached the Ciguayans, they came in multitudes
to the fortress, bringing presents of various kinds, promising allegiance,
and imploring the release of Mayobanex and his family. The Adelantado
granted their prayers in part, releasing the wife and household of the
cacique, but still detaining him prisoner to insure the fidelity of his

In the meantime the unfortunate Guarionex, who had been hiding in the
wildest parts of the mountains, was driven by hunger to venture down
occasionally into the plain in quest of food. The Ciguayans looking upon
him as the cause of their misfortunes, and perhaps hoping by his sacrifice
to procure the release of their chieftain, betrayed his haunts to the
Adelantado. A party was dispatched to secure him. They lay in wait in the
path by which he usually returned to the mountains. As the unhappy
cacique, after one of his famished excursions, was returning to his den
among the cliffs, he was surprised by the lurking Spaniards, and brought
in chains to Fort Conception. After his repeated insurrections, and the
extraordinary zeal and perseverance displayed in his pursuit, Guarionex
expected nothing less than death from the vengeance of the Adelantado. Don
Bartholomew, however, though stern in his policy, was neither vindictive
nor cruel in his nature. He considered the tranquillity of the Vega
sufficiently secured by the captivity of the cacique; and ordered him to
be detained a prisoner and hostage in the fortress. The Indian hostilities
in this important part of the island being thus brought to a conclusion,
and precautions taken to prevent their recurrence, Don Bartholomew
returned to the city of San Domingo, where, shortly after his arrival, he
had the happiness of receiving his brother, the admiral, after nearly two
years and six months' absence. [30]

Such was the active, intrepid, and sagacious, but turbulent and disastrous
administration of the Adelantado, in which we find evidences of the great
capacity, the mental and bodily vigor of this self-formed and almost
self-taught man. He united, in a singular degree, the sailor, the soldier,
and the legislator. Like his brother, the admiral, his mind and manners
rose immediately to the level of his situation, showing no arrogance nor
ostentation, and exercising the sway of sudden and extraordinary power
with the sobriety and moderation of one who had been born to rule. He has
been accused of severity in his government, but no instance appears of a
cruel or wanton abuse of authority. If he was stern towards the factious
Spaniards, he was just; the disasters of his administration were not
produced by his own rigor, but by the perverse passions of others, which
called for its exercise; and the admiral, who had more suavity of manner
and benevolence of heart, was not more fortunate in conciliating the good
will, and insuring the obedience of the colonists. The merits of Don
Bartholomew do not appear to have been sufficiently appreciated by the
world. His portrait has been suffered to remain too much in the shade; it
is worthy of being brought into the light, as a companion to that of his
illustrious brother. Less amiable and engaging, perhaps, in its
lineaments, and less characterized by magnanimity, its traits are
nevertheless bold, generous, and heroic, and stamped with iron firmness.

Book XII.

Chapter I.

Confusion in the Island.--Proceedings of the Rebels at Xaragua.

[August 30, 1498.]

Columbus arrived at San Domingo, wearied by a long and arduous voyage, and
worn down by infirmities; both mind and body craved repose, but from the
time he first entered into public life, he had been doomed never again to
taste the sweets of tranquillity. The island of Hispaniola, the favorite
child as it were of his hopes, was destined to involve him in perpetual
troubles, to fetter his fortunes, impede his enterprises, and imbitter the
conclusion of his life. What a scene of poverty and suffering had this
opulent and lovely island been rendered by the bad passions of a few
despicable men! The wars with the natives and the seditions among the
colonists had put a stop to the labors of the mines, and all hopes of
wealth were at an end. The horrors of famine had succeeded to those of
war. The cultivation of the earth had been generally neglected; several of
the provinces had been desolated during the late troubles; a great part of
the Indians had fled to the mountains, and those who remained had lost all
heart to labor, seeing the produce of their toils liable to be wrested
from them by ruthless strangers. It is true, the Vega was once more
tranquil, but it was a desolate tranquillity. That beautiful region, which
the Spaniards but four years before had found so populous and happy,
seeming to inclose in its luxuriant bosom all the sweets of nature, and to
exclude all the cares and sorrows of the world, was now a scene of
wretchedness and repining. Many of those Indian towns, where the Spaniards
had been detained by genial hospitality, and almost worshiped as
beneficent deities, were now silent and deserted. Some of their late
inhabitants were lurking among rocks and caverns; some were reduced to
slavery; many had perished with hunger, and many had fallen by the sword.
It seems almost incredible, that so small a number of men, restrained too
by well-meaning governors, could in so short a space of time have produced
such wide-spreading miseries. But the principles of evil have a fatal
activity. With every exertion, the best of men can do but a moderate
amount of good; but it seems in the power of the most contemptible
individual to do incalculable mischief.

The evil passions of the white men, which had inflicted such calamities
upon this innocent people, had insured likewise a merited return of
suffering to themselves. In no part was this more truly exemplified than
among the inhabitants of Isabella, the most idle, factious, and dissolute
of the island. The public works were unfinished; the gardens and fields
they had begun to cultivate lay neglected: they had driven the natives
from their vicinity by extortion and cruelty, and had rendered the country
around them a solitary wilderness. Too idle to labor, and destitute of any
resources with which to occupy their indolence, they quarrelled among
themselves, mutinied against their rulers, and wasted their time in
alternate riot and despondency. Many of the soldiery quartered about the
island had suffered from ill health during the late troubles, being shut
up in Indian villages where they could take no exercise, and obliged to
subsist on food to which they could not accustom themselves. Those
actively employed had been worn down by hard service, long marches, and
scanty food. Many of them were broken in constitution, and many had
perished by disease. There was a universal desire to leave the island, and
escape from miseries created by themselves. Yet this was the favored and
fruitful land to which the eyes of philosophers and poets in Europe were
fondly turned, as realizing the pictures of the golden age. So true it is,
that the fairest Elysium fancy ever devised would be turned into a
purgatory by the passions of bad men!

One of the first measures of Columbus on his arrival was to issue a
proclamation approving of all the measures of the Adelantado, and
denouncing Roldan and his associates. That turbulent man had taken
possession of Xaragua, and been kindly received by the natives. He had
permitted his followers to lead an idle and licentious life among its
beautiful scenes, making the surrounding country and its inhabitants
subservient to their pleasures and their passions. An event happened
previous to their knowledge of the arrival of Columbus, which threw
supplies into their hands, and strengthened their power. As they were one
day loitering on the sea-shore, they beheld three caravels at a distance,
the sight of which, in this unfrequented part of the ocean, filled them
with wonder and alarm. The ships approached the land, and came to anchor.
The rebels apprehended at first they were vessels dispatched in pursuit of
them. Roldan, however, who was sagacious as he was bold, surmised them to
be ships which had wandered from their course, and been borne to the
westward by the currents, and that they must be ignorant of the recent
occurrences of the island. Enjoining secrecy on his men, he went on board,
pretending to be stationed in that neighborhood for the purpose of keeping
the natives in obedience, and collecting tribute. His conjectures as to
the vessels were correct. They were, in fact, the three caravels detached
by Columbus from his squadron at the Canary Islands, to bring supplies to
the colonies. The captains, ignorant of the strength of the currents,
which set through the Caribbean Sea, had been carried west far beyond
their reckoning, until they had wandered to the coast of Xaragua.

Roldan kept his secret closely for three days. Being considered a man in
important trust and authority, the captains did not hesitate to grant all
his requests for supplies. He procured swords, lances, cross-bows, and
various military stores; while his men, dispersed through the three
vessels, were busy among the crews, secretly making partisans,
representing the hard life of the colonists at San Domingo, and the ease
and revelry in which they passed their time at Xaragua. Many of the crews
had been shipped in compliance with the admiral's ill-judged proposition,
to commute criminal punishments into transportation to the colony. They
were vagabonds, the refuse of Spanish towns, and culprits from Spanish
dungeons; the very men, therefore, to be wrought upon by such
representations, and they promised to desert on the first opportunity and
join the rebels.

It was not until the third day, that Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, the most
intelligent of the three captains, discovered the real character of the
guests he had admitted so freely on board of his vessels. It was then too
late; the mischief was effected. He and his fellow captains had many
earnest conversations with Roldan, endeavoring to persuade him from his
dangerous opposition to the regular authority. The certainty that Columbus
was actually on his way to the island, with additional forces, and
augmented authority, had operated strongly on his mind. He had, as has
already been intimated, prepared his friends at San Domingo to plead his
cause with the admiral, assuring him that he had only acted in opposition
to the injustice and oppression of the Adelantado, but was ready to submit
to Columbus on his arrival. Carvajal perceived that the resolution of
Roldan and of several of his principal confederates was shaken, and
flattered himself, that, if he were to remain some little time among the
rebels, he might succeed in drawing them back to their duty. Contrary winds
rendered it impossible for the ships to work up against the currents to
San Domingo. It was arranged among the captains, therefore, that a large
number of the people on board, artificers and others most important to the
service of the colony, should proceed to the settlement by land. They were
to be conducted by Juan Antonio Colombo, captain of one of the caravels, a
relative of the admiral, and zealously devoted to his interests. Arana was
to proceed with the ships, when the wind would permit, and Carvajal
volunteered to remain on shore, to endeavor to bring the rebels to their

On the following morning, Juan Antonio Colombo landed with forty men well
armed with cross-bows, swords, and lances, but was astonished to find
himself suddenly deserted by all his party excepting eight. The deserters
went off to the rebels, who received with exultation this important
reinforcement of kindred spirits. Juan Antonio endeavored in vain by
remonstrances and threats to bring them back to their duty. They were most
of them convicted culprits, accustomed to detest order, and to set law at
defiance. It was equally in vain that he appealed to Roldan, and reminded
him of his professions of loyalty to the government. The latter replied
that he had no means of enforcing obedience; his was a mere "Monastery of
Observation," where every one was at liberty to adopt the habit of the
order. Such was the first of a long train of evils, which sprang from this
most ill-judged expedient of peopling a colony with criminals, and thus
mingling vice and villany with the fountain-head of its population.

Juan Antonio, grieved and disconcerted, returned on board with the few who
remained faithful. Fearing further desertions, the two captains
immediately put to sea, leaving Carvajal on shore, to prosecute his
attempt at reforming the rebels. It was not without great difficulty and
delay that the vessels reached San Domingo; the ship of Carvajal having
struck on a sand-bank, and sustained great injury. By the time of their
arrival, the greater part of the provisions with which they had been
freighted was either exhausted or damaged. Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal
arrived shortly afterwards by land, having been escorted to within six
leagues of the place by several of the insurgents, to protect him from the
Indians. He failed in his attempt to persuade the band to immediate
submission; but Roldan had promised that the moment he heard of the
arrival of Columbus, he would repair to the neighborhood of San Domingo,
to be at hand to state his grievances, and the reasons of his past
conduct, and to enter into a negotiation for the adjustment of all
differences. Carvajal brought a letter from him to the admiral to the same
purport; and expressed a confident opinion, from all that he observed of
the rebels, that they might easily be brought back to their allegiance by
an assurance of amnesty. [31]

Chapter II.

Negotiation of the Admiral with the Rebels.--Departure of Ships for Spain.


Notwithstanding the favorable representations of Carvajal, Columbus was
greatly troubled by the late event at Xaragua. He saw that the insolence
of the rebels, and their confidence in their strength, must be greatly
increased by the accession of such a large number of well-armed and
desperate confederates. The proposition of Roldan to approach to the
neighborhood of San Domingo, startled him. He doubted the sincerity of his
professions, and apprehended great evils and dangers from so artful,
daring, and turbulent a leader, with a rash and devoted crew at his
command. The example of this lawless horde, roving at large about the
island, and living in loose revel and open profligacy, could not but have
a dangerous effect upon the colonists newly arrived; and when they were
close at hand, to carry on secret intrigues, and to hold out a camp of
refuge to all malcontents, the loyalty of the whole colony might be sapped
and undermined.

Some measures were immediately necessary to fortify the fidelity of the
people against such seductions. He was aware of a vehement desire among
many to return to Spain; and of an assertion industriously propagated by
the seditious, that he and his brothers wished to detain the colonists on
the island through motives of self-interest. On the 12th of September,
therefore, he issued a proclamation, offering free passage and provisions
for the voyage to all who wished to return to Spain, in five vessels
nearly ready to put to sea. He hoped by this means to relieve the colony
from the idle and disaffected; to weaken the party of Roldan, and to
retain none about him but such as were sound-hearted and well-disposed.

He wrote at the same time to Miguel Ballester, the staunch and well-tried
veteran who commanded the fortress of Conception, advising him to be upon
his guard, as the rebels were coining into his neighborhood. He empowered
him also to have an interview with Roldan; to offer him pardon and
oblivion of the past, on condition of his immediate return to duty; and to
invite him to repair to San Domingo to have an interview with the admiral,
under a solemn, and, if required, a written assurance from the latter, of
personal safety. Columbus was sincere in his intentions. He was of a
benevolent and placable disposition, and singularly free from all
vindictive feelings towards the many worthless and wicked men who heaped
sorrow on his head.

Ballester had scarcely received this letter, when the rebels began to
arrive at the village of Bonao. This was situated in a beautiful valley,
or Vega, bearing the same name, about ten leagues from Fort Conception,
and about twenty from San Domingo, in a well-peopled and abundant country.
Here Pedro Riquelme, one of the ringleaders of the sedition, had large
possessions, and his residence became the headquarters of the rebels.
Adrian de Moxica, a man of turbulent and mischievous character, brought
his detachment of dissolute ruffians to this place of rendezvous. Roldan
and others of the conspirators drew together there by different routes.

No sooner did the veteran Miguel Ballester hear of the arrival of Roldan,
than he set forth to meet him. Ballester was a venerable man, gray-headed,
and of a soldier-like demeanor. Loyal, frank, and virtuous, of a serious
disposition, and great simplicity of heart, he was well chosen as a
mediator with rash and profligate men; being calculated to calm their
passions by his sobriety; to disarm their petulance by his age; to win
their confidence by his artless probity; and to awe their licentiousness
by his spotless virtue. [32]

Ballester found Roldan in company with Pedro Riquelme, Pedro de Gamez, and
Adrian de Moxica, three of his principal confederates. Flushed with a
confidence of his present strength, Roldan treated the proffered pardon
with contempt, declaring that he did not come there to treat of peace, but
to demand the release of certain Indians captured unjustifiably, and about
to be shipped to Spain as slaves, notwithstanding that he, in his capacity
of alcalde mayor, had pledged his word for their protection. He declared
that, until these Indians were given up, he would listen to no terms of
compact; throwing out an insolent intimation at the same time, that he
held the admiral and his fortunes in his hand, to make and mar them as he

The Indians he alluded to were certain subjects of Guarionex, who had been
incited by Roldan to resist the exaction of tribute, and who, under the
sanction of his supposed authority, had engaged in the insurrections of
the Vega. Roldan knew that the enslavement of the Indians was an unpopular
feature in the government of the island, especially with the queen; and
the artful character of this man is evinced in his giving his opposition
to Columbus the appearance of a vindication of the rights of the suffering
islanders. Other demands were made of a highly insolent nature, and the
rebels declared that, in all further negotiations, they would treat with
no other intermediate agent than Carvajal, having had proofs of his
fairness and impartiality in the course of their late communications with
him at Xaragua.

This arrogant reply to his proffer of pardon was totally different from
what the admiral had been led to expect, and placed him in an embarrassing
situation. He seemed surrounded by treachery and falsehood. He knew that
Roldan had friends and secret partisans even among those who professed to
remain faithful; and he knew not how far the ramifications of the
conspiracy might extend. A circumstance soon occurred to show the justice
of his apprehensions. He ordered the men of San Domingo to appear under
arms, that he might ascertain the force with which he could take the field
in case of necessity. A report was, immediately circulated that they were
to be led to Bonao, against the rebels. Not above seventy men appeared
under arms, and of these not forty were to be relied upon. One affected to
be lame, another ill; some had relations, and others had friends among the
followers of Roldan: almost all were disaffected to the service.

Columbus saw that a resort to arms would betray his own weakness and the
power of the rebels, and completely prostrate the dignity and authority of
government. It was necessary to temporize, therefore, however humiliating
such conduct might be deemed. He had detained the five ships for eighteen
days in port, hoping in some way to have put an end to this rebellion, so
as to send home favorable accounts of the island to the sovereigns. The
provisions of the ships, however, were wasting. The Indian prisoners on
board were suffering and perishing; several of them threw themselves
overboard, or were suffocated with heat in the holds of the vessels. He
was anxious, also, that as many of the discontented colonists as possible
should make sail for Spain before any commotion should take place.

On the 18th of October, therefore, the ships put to sea. [34] Columbus
wrote to the sovereigns an account of the rebellion, and of his proffered
pardon being refused. As Roldan pretended that it was a mere quarrel
between him and the Adelantado, of which the admiral was not an impartial
judge, the latter entreated that Roldan might be summoned to Spain, where
the sovereigns might be his judges; or that an investigation might take
place in presence of Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, who was friendly to
Roldan, and of Miguel Ballester, as witness on the part of the Adelantado.
He attributed, in a great measure, the troubles of this island to his own
long detention in Spain, and the delays thrown in his way by those
appointed to assist him, who had retarded the departure of the ships with
supplies, until the colony had been reduced to the greatest scarcity.
Hence had arisen discontent, murmuring, and finally rebellion. He
entreated the sovereigns, in the most pressing manner, that the affairs of
the colony might not be neglected, and those at Seville, who had charge of
its concerns, might be instructed at least not to devise impediments
instead of assistance. He alluded to his chastisement of the contemptible
Ximeno Breviesca, the insolent minion of Fonseca, and entreated that
neither that nor any other circumstance might be allowed to prejudice him
in the royal favor, through the misrepresentations of designing men. He
assured them that the natural resources of the island required nothing but
good management to supply all the wants of the colonists; but that the
latter were indolent and profligate. He proposed to send home, by every
ship, as in the present instance, a number of the discontented and
worthless, to be replaced by sober and industrious men. He begged also
that ecclesiastics might be sent out for the instruction and conversion of
the Indians; and, what was equally necessary, for the reformation of the
dissolute Spaniards. He required also a man learned in the law, to
officiate as judge over the island, together with several officers of the
royal revenue. Nothing could surpass the soundness and policy of these
suggestions; but unfortunately one clause marred the moral beauty of this
excellent letter. He requested that for two years longer the Spaniards
might be permitted to employ the Indians as slaves; only making use of
such, however, as were captured in wars and insurrections. Columbus had
the usage of the age in excuse for this suggestion; but it is at variance
with his usual benignity of feeling, and his paternal conduct towards
these unfortunate people.

At the same time he wrote another letter, giving an account of his recent
voyage, accompanied by a chart, and by specimens of the gold, and
particularly of the pearls found in the Gulf of Paria. He called especial
attention to the latter as being the first specimens of pearls found in
the New World. It was in this letter that he described the newly-discovered
continent in such enthusiastic terms, as the most favored part of the east,
the source of inexhaustible treasures, the supposed seat of the terrestrial
Paradise; and he promised to prosecute the discovery of its glorious realms
with the three remaining ships, as soon as the affairs of the island should

By this opportunity, Roldan and his friends likewise sent letters to
Spain, endeavoring to justify their rebellion by charging Columbus and his
brothers with oppression and injustice, and painting their whole conduct
in the blackest colors. It would naturally be supposed that the
representations of such men would have little weight in the balance
against the tried merits and exalted services of Columbus: but they had
numerous friends and relatives in Spain; they had the popular prejudice on
their side, and there were designing persons in the confidence of the
sovereigns ready to advocate their cause. Columbus, to use his own simple
but affecting words was "absent, envied, and a stranger." [35]

Chapter III.

Negotiations and Arrangements with the Rebels.


The ships being dispatched, Columbus resumed his negotiation with the
rebels; determined at any sacrifice to put an end to a sedition which
distracted the island and interrupted all his plans of discovery. His
three remaining ships lay idle in the harbor, though a region of
apparently boundless wealth was to be explored. He had intended to send
his brother on the discovery, but the active and military spirit of the
Adelantado rendered his presence indispensable, in case the rebels should
come to violence. Such were the difficulties encountered at every step of
his generous and magnanimous enterprises; impeded at one time by the
insidious intrigues of crafty men in place, and checked at another by the
insolent turbulence of a handful of ruffians.

In his consultations with the most important persons about him, Columbus
found that much of the popular discontent was attributed to the strict
rule of his brother, who was accused of dealing out justice with a
rigorous hand. Las Casas, however, who saw the whole of the testimony
collected from various sources with respect to the conduct of the
Adelantado, acquits him of all charges of the kind, and affirms that, with
respect to Roldan in particular, he had exerted great forbearance. Be this
as it may, Columbus now, by the advice of his counselors, resolved to try
the alternative of extreme lenity. He wrote a letter to Roldan, dated the
20th of October, couched in the most conciliating terms, calling to mind
past kindnesses, and expressing deep concern for the feud existing between
him and the Adelantado. He entreated him, for the common good, and for the
sake of his own reputation, which stood well with the sovereigns, not to
persist in his present insubordination, and repeated the assurance, that
he and his companions might come to him, under the faith of his word for
the inviolability of their persons.

There was a difficulty as to who should be the bearer of this letter. The
rebels had declared that they would receive no one as mediator but Alonzo
Sanchez de Carvajal. Strong doubts, however, existed in the minds of those
about Columbus as to the integrity of that officer. They observed that he
had suffered Roldan to remain two days on board of his caravel at Xaragua;
had furnished him with weapons and stores; had neglected to detain him on
board, when he knew him to be a rebel; had not exerted himself to retake
the deserters; had been escorted on his way to San Domingo by the rebels,
and had sent refreshments to them at Bonao. It was alleged, moreover, that
he had given himself out as a colleague of Columbus, appointed by
government to have a watch and control over his conduct. It was suggested,
that, in advising the rebels to approach San Domingo, he had intended, in
case the admiral did not arrive, to unite his pretended authority as
colleague, to that of Roldan, as chief judge, and to seize upon the reins
of government. Finally, the desire of the rebels to have him sent to them
as an agent, was cited as proof that he was to join them as a leader, and
that the standard of rebellion was to be hoisted at Bonao. [36] These
circumstances, for some time, perplexed Columbus: but he reflected that
Carvajal, as far as he had observed his conduct, had behaved like a man of
integrity; most of the circumstances alleged against him admitted of a
construction in his favor; the rest were mere rumors, and he had
unfortunately experienced, in his own case, how easily the fairest
actions, and the fairest characters, may be falsified by rumor. He
discarded, therefore, all suspicion, and determined to confide implicitly
in Carvajal; nor had he ever any reason to repent of his confidence.

The admiral had scarcely dispatched this letter, when he received one from
the leaders of the rebels, written several days previously. In this they
not merely vindicated themselves from the charge of rebellion, but claimed
great merit, as having dissuaded their followers from a resolution to kill
the Adelantado, in revenge of his oppressions, prevailing upon them to
await patiently for redress from the admiral. A month had elapsed since
his arrival, during which they had waited anxiously for his orders, but he
had manifested nothing but irritation against them. Considerations of
honor and safety, therefore, obliged them to withdraw from his service,
and they accordingly demanded their discharge. This letter was dated from
Bonao, the 17th of October, and signed by Francisco Roldan, Adrian de
Moxica, Pedro de Gamez, and Diego de Escobar. [37]

In the meantime, Carvajal arrived at Bonao, accompanied by Miguel
Ballester. They found the rebels full of arrogance and presumption. The
conciliating letter of the admiral, however, enforced by the earnest
persuasions of Carvajal, and the admonitions of the veteran Ballester, had
a favorable effect on several of the leaders, who had more intellect than
their brutal followers. Roldan, Gamez, Escobar, and two or three others,
actually mounted their horses to repair to the admiral, but were detained
by the clamorous opposition of their men; too infatuated with their idle,
licentious mode of life, to relish the idea of a return to labor and
discipline. These insisted that it was a matter which concerned them all;
whatever arrangement was to be made, therefore, should be made in public,
in writing, and subject to their approbation or dissent. A day or two
elapsed before this clamor could be appeased. Roldan then wrote to the
admiral, that his followers objected to his coming, unless a written
assurance, or passport, were sent, protecting the persons of himself and
such as should accompany him. Miguel Ballester wrote, at the same time, to
the admiral, urging him to agree to whatever terms the rebels might
demand. He represented their forces as continually augmenting, the
soldiers of his garrison daily deserting to them; unless, therefore, some
compromise were speedily effected, and the rebels shipped off to Spain, he
feared that not merely the authority, but even the person of the admiral
would be in danger; for though the Hidalgos and the officers and servants
immediately about him would, doubtless, die in his service, the common
people were but little to be depended upon. [38]

Columbus felt the increasing urgency of the case, and sent the required
passport. Roldan came to San Domingo; but, from his conduct, it appeared
as if his object was to make partisans, and gain deserters, rather than to
effect a reconciliation. He had several conversations with the admiral,
and several letters passed between them. He made many complaints, and
numerous demands; Columbus made large concessions, but some of the
pretensions were too arrogant to be admitted. [39] Nothing definite was
arranged. Roldan departed under the pretext of conferring with his people,
promising to send his terms in writing. The admiral sent his Mayordomo,
Diego de Salamanca, to treat in his behalf. [40]

On the 6th of November, Roldan wrote a letter from Bonao, containing his
terms, and requesting that a reply might be sent to him to Conception, as
scarcity of provisions obliged him to leave Bonao. He added that he should
wait for a reply until the following Monday (the 11th). There was an
insolent menace implied in this note, accompanied as it was by insolent
demands. The admiral found it impossible to comply with the latter; but to
manifest his lenient disposition, and to take from the rebels all plea of
rigor, he had a proclamation affixed for thirty days at the gate of the
fortress, promising full indulgence and complete oblivion of the past to
Roldan and his followers, on condition of their presenting themselves
before him and returning to their allegiance to the crown within a month;
together with free conveyance for all such as wished to return to Spain;
but threatening to execute rigorous justice upon those who should not
appear within the limited time. A copy of this paper he sent to Roldan by
Carvajal, with a letter, stating the impossibility of compliance with his
terms, but offering to agree to any compact drawn up with the approbation
of Carvajal and Salamanca.

When Carvajal arrived, he found the veteran Ballester actually besieged in
his fortress of Conception by Roldan, under pretext of claiming, in his
official character of alcalde mayor, a culprit who had taken refuge there
from justice. He had cut off the supply of water from the fort, by way of
distressing it into a surrender. When Carvajal posted up the proclamation
of the admiral on the gate of the fortress, the rebels scoffed at the
proffered amnesty, saying that, in a little while, they would oblige the
admiral to ask the same at their hands. The earnest intercessions of
Carvajal, however, brought the leaders at length to reflection, and
through his mediation articles of capitulation were drawn up. By these it
was agreed that Roldan and his followers should embark for Spain from the
port of Xaragua in two ships, to be fitted out and victualed within fifty
days. That they should each receive from the admiral a certificate of good
conduct, and an order for the amount of their pay, up to the actual date.
That slaves should be given to them, as had been given to others, in
consideration of services performed; and as several of their company had
wives, natives of the island, who were pregnant, or had lately been
delivered, they might take them with them, if willing to go, in place of
the slaves. That satisfaction should be made for property of some of the
company which had been sequestrated, and for live-stock which had belonged
to Francisco Roldan. There were other conditions, providing for the
security of their persons: and it was stipulated that, if no reply were
received to these terms within eight days, the whole should be void.

This agreement was signed by Roldan and his companions at Fort Conception
on the 16th of November, and by the admiral at San Domingo on the 21st. At
the same time, he proclaimed a further act of grace, permitting such as
chose to remain in the island either to come to San Domingo, and enter
into the royal service, or to hold lands in any part of the island. They
preferred, however, to follow the fortunes of Roldan, who departed with
his band for Xaragua, to await the arrival of the ships, accompanied by
Miguel Ballester, sent by the admiral to superintend the preparations for
their embarkation.

Columbus was deeply grieved to have his projected enterprise to Terra
Firma impeded by such contemptible obstacles, and the ships which should
have borne his brother to explore that newly-found continent devoted to
the use of this turbulent and worthless rabble. He consoled himself,
however, with the reflection, that all the mischief which had so long been
lurking in the island, would thus be at once shipped off, and thenceforth
every thing restored to order and tranquillity. He ordered every exertion
to be made, therefore, to get the ships in readiness to be sent round to
Xaragua; but the scarcity of sea-stores, and the difficulty of completing
the arrangements for such a voyage in the disordered state of the colony,
delayed their departure far beyond the stipulated time. Feeling that he
had been compelled to a kind of deception towards the sovereigns, in the
certificate of good conduct given to Roldan and his followers, he wrote a
letter to them, stating the circumstances under which that certificate had
been in a manner wrung from him to save the island from utter confusion
and ruin. He represented the real character and conduct of those men; how
they had rebelled against his authority; prevented the Indians from paying
tribute; pillaged the island; possessed themselves of large quantities of
gold, and carried off the daughters of several of the caciques. He
advised, therefore, that they should be seized, and their slaves and
treasure taken from them, until their conduct could be properly
investigated. This letter he intrusted to a confidential person, who was
to go in one of the ships. [42]

The rebels having left the neighborhood, and the affairs of San Domingo
being in a state of security, Columbus put his brother Don Diego in
temporary command, and departed with the Adelantado on a tour of several
months to visit the various stations, and restore the island to order.

The two caravels destined for the use of the rebels sailed from San
Domingo for Xaragua about the end of February; but, encountering a violent
storm, were obliged to put into one of the harbors of the island, where
they were detained until the end of March. One was so disabled as to be
compelled to return to San Domingo. Another vessel was dispatched to
supply its place, in which the indefatigable Carvajal set sail, to
expedite the embarkation of the rebels. He was eleven days in making the
voyage, and found the other caravel at Xaragua.

The followers of Roldan had in the meantime changed their minds, and now
refused to embark; as usual, they threw all the blame on Columbus,
affirming that he had purposely delayed the ships far beyond the
stipulated time; that he had sent them in a state not sea-worthy, and
short of provisions, with many other charges, artfully founded on
circumstances over which they knew he could have no control. Carvajal made
a formal protest before a notary who had accompanied him, and finding that
the ships were suffering great injury from the teredo or worm, and their
provisions failing, he sent them back to San Domingo, and set out on his
return by land. Roldan accompanied him a little distance on horseback,
evidently disturbed in mind. He feared to return to Spain, yet was shrewd
enough to know the insecurity of his present situation at the head of a
band of dissolute men, acting in defiance of authority. What tie had he
upon their fidelity stronger than the sacred obligations which they had
violated? After riding thoughtfully for some distance, he paused, and
requested some private conversation with Carvajal before they parted. They
alighted under the shade of a tree. Here Roldan made further professions
of the loyalty of his intentions, and finally declared, that if the
admiral would once more send him a written security for his person, with
the guarantee also of the principal persons about him, he would come to
treat with him, and trusted that the whole matter would be arranged on
terms satisfactory to both parties. This offer, however, he added, must be
kept secret from his followers.

Carvajal, overjoyed at this prospect of a final arrangement, lost no time
in conveying the proposition of Roldan to the admiral. The latter
immediately forwarded the required passport or security, sealed with the
royal seal, accompanied by a letter written in amicable terms, exhorting
his quiet obedience to the authority of the sovereigns. Several of the
principal persons also, who were with the admiral, wrote, at his request,
a letter of security to Roldan, pledging themselves for the safety of
himself and his followers during the negotiation; provided they did
nothing hostile to the royal authority or its representative.

While Columbus was thus, with unwearied assiduity and loyal zeal,
endeavoring to bring the island back to its obedience, he received a reply
from Spain, to the earnest representations made by him, in the preceding
autumn, of the distracted state of the colony and the outrages of these
lawless men, and his prayers for royal countenance and support. The letter
was written by his invidious enemy, the Bishop Fonseca, superintendent of
Indian affairs. It acknowledged the receipt of his statement of the
alleged insurrection of Roldan, but observed that this matter must be
suffered to remain in suspense, as the sovereigns would investigate and
remedy it presently. [43]

This cold reply had a disheartening effect upon Columbus. He saw that his
complaints had little weight with the government; he feared that his
enemies were prejudicing him with the sovereigns; and he anticipated
redoubled insolence on the part of the rebels, when they should discover
how little influence he possessed in Spain. Full of zeal, however, for the
success of his undertaking, and of fidelity to the interests of the
sovereigns, he resolved to spare no personal sacrifice of comfort or
dignity in appeasing the troubles of the island. Eager to expedite the
negotiation with Roldan, therefore, he sailed in the latter part of August
with two caravels to the port of Azua, west of San Domingo, and much
nearer to Xaragua. He was accompanied by several of the most important
personages of the colony. Roldan repaired thither likewise, with the
turbulent Adrian de Moxica, and a number of his band. The concessions
already obtained had increased his presumption; and he had, doubtless,
received intelligence of the cold manner in which the complaints of the
admiral had been received in Spain. He conducted himself more like a
conqueror, exacting triumphant terms, than a delinquent seeking to procure
pardon by atonement. He came on board of the caravel, and with his usual
effrontery, propounded the preliminaries upon which he and his companions
were disposed to negotiate.

First, that he should be permitted to send several of his company, to the
number of fifteen, to Spain, in the vessels which were at San Domingo.
Secondly, that those who remained should have lands granted them, in place
of royal pay. Thirdly, that it should be proclaimed, that every thing
charged against him and his party had been grounded upon false testimony,
and the machinations of person disaffected to the royal service. Fourthly,
that he should be reinstated in his office of alcalde mayor, or chief
judge. [44]

These were hard and insolent conditions to commence with, but they were
granted. Roldan then went on shore, and communicated them to his
companions. At the end of the two days the insurgents sent their
capitulations, drawn up in form, and couched in arrogant language,
including all the stipulations granted at Fort Conception, with those
recently demanded by Roldan, and concluding with one, more insolent than
all the rest, namely, that if the admiral should fail in the fulfillment
of any of these articles, they should have a right to assemble together,
and compel his performance of them by force, or by any other means they
might think proper. [45] The conspirators thus sought not merely
exculpation of the past, but a pretext for future rebellion.

The mind grows wearied and impatient with recording, and the heart of the
generous reader must burn with indignation at perusing, this protracted
and ineffectual struggle of a man of the exalted merits and matchless
services of Columbus, in the toils of such miscreants. Surrounded by doubt
and danger; a foreigner among a jealous people; an unpopular commander in
a mutinous island; distrusted and slighted by the government he was
seeking to serve; and creating suspicion by his very services; he knew not
where to look for faithful advice, efficient aid, or candid judgment. The
very ground on which he stood seemed giving way under him, for he was told
of seditious symptoms among his own people. Seeing the impunity with which
the rebels rioted in the possession of one of the finest parts of the
island, they began to talk among themselves of following their example, of
abandoning the standard of the admiral, and seizing upon the province of
Higuey, at the eastern extremity of the island, which was said to contain
valuable mines of gold.

Thus critically situated, disregarding every consideration of personal
pride and dignity, and determined, at any individual sacrifice, to secure
the interests of an ungrateful sovereign, Columbus forced himself to sign
this most humiliating capitulation. He trusted that afterwards, when he
could gain quiet access to the royal ear, he should be able to convince
the king and queen that it had been compulsory, and forced from him by the
extraordinary difficulties in which he had been placed, and the imminent
perils of the colony. Before signing it, however, he inserted a
stipulation, that the commands of the sovereigns, of himself, and of the
justices appointed by him, should be punctually obeyed. [46]

Chapter IV.

Grants Made to Roldan and His Followers.--Departure of Several of the
Rebels for Spain.


When Roldan resumed his office of alcalde mayor, or chief judge, he
displayed all the arrogance to be expected from one who had intruded
himself into power by profligate means. At the city of San Domingo, he was
always surrounded by his faction; communed only with the dissolute and
disaffected; and, having all the turbulent and desperate men of the
community at his beck, was enabled to intimidate the quiet and loyal by
his frowns. He bore an impudent front against the authority even of
Columbus himself, discharging from office one Rodrigo Perez, a lieutenant
of the admiral, declaring that none but such as he appointed should bear a
staff of office in the island. [47] Columbus had a difficult and painful
task in bearing with the insolence of this man, and of the shameless
rabble which had returned, under his auspices, to the settlements. He
tacitly permitted many abuses; endeavoring by mildness and indulgence to
allay the jealousies and prejudices awakened against him, and by various
concessions to lure the factious to the performance of their duty. To such
of the colonists generally as preferred to remain in the island, he
offered a choice of either royal pay or portions of lands, with a number
of Indians, some free, others as slaves, to assist in the cultivation. The
latter was generally preferred; and grants were made out, in which he
endeavored, as much as possible, to combine the benefit of the individual
with the interests of the colony.

Roldan presented a memorial signed by upwards of one hundred of his late
followers, demanding grants of lands and licenses to settle, and choosing
Xaragua for their place of abode. The admiral feared to trust such a
numerous body of factious partisans in so remote a province; he contrived,
therefore, to distribute them in various parts of the island; some at
Bonao, where their settlement gave origin to the town of that name; others
on the bank of the Rio Verde, or Green River, in the Vega; others about
six leagues thence, at St. Jago. He assigned to them liberal portions of
land, and numerous Indian slaves, taken in the wars. He made an
arrangement, also, by which the caciques in their vicinity, instead of
paying tribute, should furnish parties of their subjects, free Indians, to
assist the colonists in the cultivation of their lands: a kind of feudal
service, which was the origin of the repartimientos, or distributions of
free Indians among the colonists, afterwards generally adopted, and
shamefully abused, throughout the Spanish colonies: a source of
intolerable hardships and oppressions to the unhappy natives, and which
greatly contributed to exterminate them from the island of Hispaniola.[48]
Columbus considered the island in the light of a conquered country, and
arrogated to himself all the rights of a conqueror, in the name of the
sovereigns for whom he fought. Of course all his companions in the
enterprise were entitled to take part in the acquired territory, and to
establish themselves there as feudal lords, reducing the natives to the
condition of villains or vassals. [49] This was an arrangement widely
different from his original intention of treating the natives with
kindness, as peaceful subjects of the crown. But all his plans had been
subverted, and his present measures forced upon him by the exigency of
the times, and the violence of lawless men. He appointed a captain with
an armed band, as a kind of police, with orders to range the provinces;
oblige the Indians to pay their tributes; watch over the conduct of the
colonists; and check the least appearance of mutiny or insurrection. [50]

Having sought and obtained such ample provisions for his followers, Roldan
was not more modest in making demands for himself. He claimed certain
lands in the vicinity of Isabella, as having belonged to him before his
rebellion; also a royal farm, called La Esperanza, situated on the Vega,
and devoted to the rearing of poultry. These the admiral granted him, with
permission to employ, in the cultivation of the farm, the subjects of the
cacique whose ears had been cut off by Alonzo de Ojeda in his first
military expedition into the Vega. Roldan received also grants of land in
Xaragua, and a variety of live-stock from the cattle and other animals
belonging to the crown. These grants were made to him provisionally, until
the pleasure of the sovereigns should be known; [51] for Columbus yet
trusted, that when they should understand the manner in which these
concessions had been extorted from him, the ringleaders of the rebels
would not merely be stripped of their ill-gotten possessions, but receive
well-merited punishment.

Roldan, having now enriched himself beyond his hopes, requested permission
of Columbus to visit his lands. This was granted with great reluctance. He
immediately departed for the Vega, and stopping at Bonao, his late
headquarters, made Pedro Riquelme, one of his most active confederates,
alcalde, or judge of the place, with the power of arresting all
delinquents, and sending them prisoners to the fortress of Conception,
where he reserved to himself the right of sentencing them. This was an
assumption of powers not vested in his office, and gave great offence to
Columbus. Other circumstances created apprehensions of further troubles
from the late insurgents. Pedro Riquelme, under pretext of erecting
farming buildings for his cattle, began to construct a strong edifice on a
hill, capable of being converted into a formidable fortress. This, it was
whispered, was done in concert with Roldan, by way of securing a
stronghold in case of need. Being in the neighborhood of the Vega, where
so many of their late partisans were settled, it would form a dangerous
rallying place for any new sedition. The designs of Riquelme were
suspected and his proceedings opposed by Pedro de Arana, a loyal and
honorable man, who was on the spot. Representations were made by both
parties to the admiral, who prohibited Riquelme from proceeding with the
construction of his edifice. [52]

Columbus had prepared to return, with his brother Don Bartholomew, to
Spain, where he felt that his presence was of the utmost importance to
place the late events of the island in a proper light; having found that
his letters of explanation were liable to be counteracted by the
misrepresentations of malevolent enemies. The island, however, was still
in a feverish state. He was not well assured of the fidelity of the late
rebels, though so dearly purchased; there was a rumor of a threatened
descent into the Vega, by the mountain tribes of Ciguay, to attempt the
rescue of their captive cacique Mayobanex, still detained a prisoner in
the fortress of Conception. Tidings were brought about the same time from
the western parts of the island, that four strange ships had arrived at
the coast, under suspicious appearances. These circumstances obliged him
to postpone his departure, and held him involved in the affairs of this
favorite but fatal island.

The two caravels were dispatched for Spain in the beginning of October,
taking such of the colonists as chose to return, and among them a number
of Roldan's partisans. Some of these took with them slaves, others carried
away the daughters of caciques whom they had beguiled from their families
and homes. At these iniquities, no less than at many others which equally
grieved his spirit, the admiral was obliged to connive. He was conscious,
at the same time, that he was sending home a reinforcement of enemies and
false witnesses, to defame his character and traduce his conduct, but he
had no alternative. To counteract, as much as possible, their
misrepresentations, he sent by the same caravel the loyal and upright
veteran Miguel Ballester, together with Garcia de Barrantés, empowered to
attend to his affairs at court, and furnished with the dispositions taken
relative to the conduct of Roldan and his accomplices.

In his letters to the sovereigns, he entreated them to inquire into the
truth of the late transactions. He stated his opinion that his
capitulations with the rebels were null and void, for various reasons,
viz.--they had been extorted from him by violence, and at sea, where he
did not exercise the office of viceroy--there had been two trials relative
to the insurrection, and the insurgents having been condemned as traitors,
it was not in the power of the admiral to absolve them from their
criminality--the capitulations treated of matters touching the royal
revenue, over which he had no control, without the intervention of the
proper officers;--lastly, Francisco Roldan and his companions, on leaving
Spain, had taken an oath to be faithful to the sovereigns, and to the
admiral in their name, which oath they had violated. For these and similar
reasons, some just, others rather sophistical, he urged the sovereigns not
to consider themselves bound to ratify the compulsory terms ceded to these
profligate men, but to inquire into their offences, and treat them
accordingly. [53]

He repeated the request made in a former letter, that a learned judge
might be sent out to administer the laws in the island, since he himself
had been charged with rigor, although conscious of having always observed
a guarded clemency. He requested also that discreet persons should be sent
out to form a council, and others for certain fiscal employments,
entreating, however, that their powers should be so limited and defined,
as not to interfere with his dignity and privileges. He bore strongly on
this point; as his prerogatives on former occasions had been grievously
invaded. It appeared to him, he said, that princes ought to show much
confidence in their governors; for without the royal favor to give them
strength and consequence, every thing went to ruin under their command; a
sound maxim, forced from the admiral by his recent experience, in which
much of his own perplexities, and the triumph of the rebels, had been
caused by the distrust of the crown, and its inattention to his

Finding age and infirmity creeping upon him, and his health much impaired
by his last voyage, he began to think of his son Diego, as an active
coadjutor; who, being destined as his successor, might gain experience
under his eye, for the future discharge of his high duties. Diego, though
still serving as a page at the court, was grown to man's estate, and
capable of entering into the important concerns of life. Columbus
entreated, therefore, that he might be sent out to assist him, as he felt
himself infirm in health and broken in constitution, and less capable of
exertion than formerly. [54]

Chapter V.

Arrival of Ojeda with a Squadron at the Western Part of the Island.--Roldan
Sent to Meet Him.


Among the causes which induced Columbus to postpone his departure for
Spain, has been mentioned the arrival of four ships at the western part of
the island. These had anchored on the 5th of September in a harbor a
little below Jacquemel, apparently with the design of cutting dye-woods,
which abound in that neighborhood, and of carrying off the natives for
slaves. Further reports informed him that they were commanded by Alonzo de
Ojeda, the same hot-headed and bold-hearted cavalier who had distinguished
himself on various occasions in the previous voyages of discovery, and
particularly in the capture of the cacique Caonabo. Knowing the daring and
adventurous spirit of this man, Columbus felt much disturbed at his
visiting the island in this clandestine manner, on what appeared to be
little better than a freebooting expedition. To call him to account, and
oppose his aggressions, required an agent of spirit and address. No one
seemed better fitted for the purpose than Roldan. He was as daring as
Ojeda, and of a more crafty character. An expedition of the kind would
occupy the attention of himself and his partisans, and divert them from
any schemes of mischief. The large concessions recently made to them
would, he trusted, secure their present fidelity, rendering it more
profitable for them to be loyal than rebellious.

Roldan readily undertook the enterprise. He had nothing further to gain by
sedition, and was anxious to secure his ill-gotten possessions and atone
for past offences by public services. He was vain as well as active, and
took a pride in acquitting himself well in an expedition which called for
both courage and shrewdness. Departing from San Domingo with two caravels,
he arrived on the 29th of September within two leagues of the harbor where
the ships of Ojeda were anchored. Here he landed with five-and-twenty
resolute followers, well armed, and accustomed to range the forests. He
sent five scouts to reconnoitre. They brought word that Ojeda was several
leagues distant from his ships, with only fifteen men, employed in making
cassava bread in an Indian village. Roldan threw himself between them and
the ships, thinking to take them by surprise. They were apprised, however,
of his approach by the Indians, with whom the very name of Roldan inspired
terror, from his late excesses in Xaragua. Ojeda saw his danger; he
supposed Roldan had been sent in pursuit of him, and he found himself cut
off from his ships. With his usual intrepidity he immediately presented
himself before Roldan, attended merely by half a dozen followers. The
latter craftily began by conversing on general topics. He then inquired
into his motives for landing on the island, particularly on that remote
and lonely part, without first reporting his arrival to the admiral. Ojeda
replied, that he had been on a voyage of discovery, and had put in there
in distress, to repair his ships and procure provisions. Roldan then
demanded, in the name of the government, a sight of the license under
which he sailed. Ojeda, who knew the resolute character of the man he had
to deal with, restrained his natural impetuosity, and replied that his
papers were on board of his ship. He declared his intention, on departing
thence, to go to San Domingo, and pay his homage to the admiral, having
many things to tell him which were for his private ear alone. He intimated
to Roldan that the admiral was in complete disgrace at court; that there
was a talk of taking from him his command, and that the queen, his
patroness, was ill beyond all hopes of recovery. This intimation, it is
presumed, was referred to by Roldan in his dispatches to the admiral,
wherein he mentioned that certain things had been communicated to him by
Ojeda, which he did not think it safe to confide to a letter.

Roldan now repaired to the ships. He found several persons on board with
whom he was acquainted, and who had already been in Hispaniola. They
confirmed the truth of what Ojeda had said, and showed a license signed by
the Bishop of Fonseca, as superintendent of the affairs of the Indias,
authorizing him to sail on a voyage of discovery. [55]

It appeared, from the report of Ojeda and his followers, that the glowing
accounts sent home by Columbus of his late discoveries on the coast of
Paria, his magnificent speculations with respect to the riches of the
newly-found country, and the specimen of pearls transmitted to the
sovereigns, had inflamed the cupidity of various adventurers. Ojeda
happened to be at that time in Spain. He was a favorite of the Bishop of
Fonseca, and obtained a sight of the letter written by the admiral to the
sovereigns, and the charts and maps of his route by which it was
accompanied. Ojeda knew Columbus to be embarrassed by the seditions of
Hispaniola; he found, by his conversations with Fonseca and other of the
admiral's enemies, that strong doubts and jealousies existed in the mind
of the king with respect to his conduct, and that his approaching downfall
was confidently predicted. The idea of taking advantage of these
circumstances struck Ojeda, and, by a private enterprise, he hoped to be
the first in gathering the wealth of these newly-discovered regions. He
communicated his project to his patron, Fonseca. The latter was but too
ready for any tiling that might defeat the plans and obscure the glory of
Columbus; and it may be added that he always showed himself more disposed
to patronize mercenary adventurers than upright and high-minded men. He
granted Ojeda every facility; furnishing him with copies of the papers and
charts of Columbus, by which to direct himself in his course, and a letter
of license signed with his own name, though not with that of the
sovereigns. In this, it was stipulated that he should not touch at any
land belonging to the King of Portugal, nor any that had been discovered
by Columbus prior to 1495. The last provision shows the perfidious
artifice of Fonseca, as it left Paria and the Pearl Islands free to the
visits of Ojeda, they having been discovered by Columbus subsequent to the
designated year. The ships were to be fitted out at the charges of the
adventurers, and a certain proportion of the products of the voyage were
to be rendered to the crown.

Under this license Ojeda fitted out four ships at Seville, assisted by
many eager and wealthy speculators. Among the number was the celebrated
Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine merchant, well acquainted with geography
and navigation. The principal pilot of the expedition was Juan de la Cosa,
a mariner of great repute, a disciple of the admiral, whom he had
accompanied in his first voyage of discovery, and in that along the
southern coast of Cuba, and round the island of Jamaica. There were
several also of the mariners, and Bartholomew Roldan, a distinguished
pilot, who had been with Columbus in his voyage to Paria. [56] Such was
the expedition which, by a singular train of circumstances, eventually
gave the name of this Florentine merchant, Amerigo Vespucci, to the whole
of the New World.

This expedition had sailed in May, 1499. The adventurers had arrived on
the southern continent, and ranged along its coast, from two hundred
leagues east of the Oronoco, to the Gulf of Paria. Guided by the charts of
Columbus, they had passed through this gulf, and through the Boca del
Dragon, and had kept along westward to Cape de la Vela, visiting the
island of Margarita and the adjacent continent, and discovering the Gulf
of Venezuela. They had subsequently touched at the Caribbee Islands, where
they had fought with the fierce natives, and made many captives, with the
intention of selling them in the slave-markets of Spain. Thence, being in
need of supplies, they had sailed to Hispaniola, having performed the most
extensive voyage hitherto made along the shores of the New World.

Having collected all the information that he could obtain concerning these
voyagers, their adventures and designs, and trusting to the declaration of
Ojeda, that he should proceed forthwith to present himself to the admiral,
Roldan returned to San Domingo to render a report of his mission.

Chapter VI.

Manoevres of Roldan and Ojeda.


When intelligence was brought to Columbus of the nature of the expedition
of Ojeda, and the license under which he sailed, he considered himself
deeply aggrieved, it being a direct infraction of his most important
prerogatives, and sanctioned by authority which ought to have held them
sacred. He awaited patiently, however, the promised visit of Alonzo de
Ojeda to obtain fuller explanations. Nothing was further from the
intention of that roving commander than to keep such promise: he had made
it merely to elude the vigilance of Roldan. As soon as he had refitted his
vessels and obtained a supply of provisions, he sailed round to the coast
of Xaragua, where he arrived in February. Here he was well received by the
Spaniards resident in that province, who supplied all his wants. Among
them were many of the late comrades of Roldan; loose, random characters,
impatient of order and restraint, and burning with animosity against the
admiral, for having again brought them under the wholesome authority of
the laws.

Knowing the rash and fearless character of Ojeda, and finding that there
were jealousies between him and the admiral, they hailed him as a new
leader, come to redress their fancied grievances, in place of Roldan, whom
they considered as having deserted them. They made clamorous complaints to
Ojeda of the injustice of the admiral, whom they charged with withholding
from them the arrears of their pay.

Ojeda was a hot-headed man, with somewhat of a vaunting spirit, and
immediately set himself up for a redresser of grievances. It is said also
that he gave himself out as authorized by government, in conjunction with
Carvajal, to act as counselors, or rather supervisors of the admiral; and
that one of the first measures they were to take, was to enforce the
payment of all salaries due to the servants of the crown. [58] It is
questionable, however, whether Ojeda made any pretension of the kind,
which could so readily be disproved, and would have tended to disgrace
him with the government. It is probable that he was encouraged in his
intermeddling, chiefly by his knowledge of the tottering state of the
admiral's favor at court, and of his own security in the powerful
protection of Fonseca. He may have imbibed also the opinion, diligently
fostered by those with whom he had chiefly communicated in Spain, just
before his departure, that these people had been driven to extremities by
the oppression of the admiral and his brothers. Some feeling of
generosity, therefore, may have mingled with his usual love of action and
enterprise, when he proposed to redress all their wrongs, put himself at
their head, march at once to San Domingo, and oblige the admiral to pay
them on the spot, or expel him from the island.

The proposition of Ojeda was received with acclamations of transport by
some of the rebels; others made objections. Quarrels arose: a ruffianly
scene of violence and brawl ensued, in which several were killed and
wounded on both sides; but the party for the expedition to San Domingo
remained triumphant.

Fortunately for the peace and safety of the admiral, Roldan arrived in the
neighborhood, just at this critical juncture, attended by a crew of
resolute fellows. He had been dispatched by Columbus to watch the
movements of Ojeda, on hearing of his arrival on the coast of Xaragua.
Apprised of the violent scenes which were taking place, Roldan, when on
the way, sent to his old confederate Diego de Escobar, to follow him with
all the trusty force he could collect. They reached Xaragua within a day
of each other. An instance of the bad faith usual between bad men was now
evinced. The former partisans of Roldan, finding him earnest in his
intention of serving the government, and that there was no hope of
engaging him in their new sedition, sought to waylay and destroy him on
his march, but his vigilance and celerity prevented them. [59]

Ojeda, when he heard of the approach of Roldan and Escobar, retired on
board of his ships. Though of a daring spirit, he had no inclination, in
the present instance, to come to blows, where there was a certainty of
desperate fighting, and no gain; and where he must raise his arm against
government. Roldan now issued such remonstrances as had often been
ineffectually addressed to himself. He wrote to Ojeda, reasoning with him
on his conduct, and the confusion he was producing in the island, and
inviting him on shore to an amicable arrangement of all alleged
grievances. Ojeda, knowing the crafty, violent character of Roldan,
disregarded his repeated messages, and refused to venture within his
power. He even seized one of his messengers, Diego de Truxillo, and
landing suddenly at Xaragua, carried off another of his followers, named
Toribio de Lenares; both of whom he detained in irons, on board of his
vessel, as hostages for a certain Juan Pintor, a one-armed sailor, who had
deserted, threatening to hang them if the deserter was not given up.

Various manoeuvres took place between these two well-matched opponents;
each wary of the address and prowess of the other. Ojeda made sail, and
stood twelve leagues to the northward, to the province of Cahay, one of
the most beautiful and fertile parts of the country, and inhabited by a
kind and gentle people. Here he landed with forty men, seizing upon
whatever he could find of the provisions of the natives. Roldan and
Escobar followed along shore, and were soon at his heels. Roldan then
dispatched Escobar in a light canoe, paddled swiftly by Indians, who,
approaching within hail of the ship, informed Ojeda that, since he would
not trust himself on shore, Roldan would come and confer with him on
board, if he would send a boat for him.

Ojeda now thought himself secure of his enemy; he immediately dispatched a
boat within a short distance of the shore, where the crew lay on their
oars, requiring Roldan to come to them. "How many may accompany me?"
demanded the latter. "Only five or six," was the reply. Upon this Diego de
Escobar and four others waded to the boat. The crew refused to admit more.
Roldan then ordered one man to carry him to the barge, and another to walk
by his side, and assist him. By this stratagem, his party was eight
strong. The instant he entered the boat, he ordered the oarsmen to row to
shore. On their refusing, he and his companions attacked them sword in
hand, wounded several, and made all prisoners, excepting an Indian archer,
who, plunging under the water, escaped by swimming.

This was an important triumph for Roldan. Ojeda, anxious for the recovery
of his boat, which was indispensable for the service of the ship, now made
overtures of peace. He approached the shore in his remaining boat, of
small size, taking with him his principal pilot, an arquebusier, and four
oarsmen. Roldan entered the boat he had just captured, with seven rowers
and fifteen fighting men, causing fifteen others to be ready on shore to
embark in a large canoe, in case of need. A characteristic interview took
place between these doughty antagonists, each keeping warily on his guard.
Their conference was carried on at a distance. Ojeda justified his hostile
movements by alleging that Roldan had come with an armed force to seize
him. This the latter positively denied, promising him the most amicable
reception from the admiral, in case he would repair to San Domingo. An
arrangement was at length effected; the boat was restored, and mutual
restitution of the men took place, with the exception of Juan Pintor, the
one-armed deserter, who had absconded; and on the following day, Ojeda,
according to agreement, set sail to leave the island, threatening however
to return at a future time with more ships and men. [61]

Roldan waited in the neighborhood, doubting the truth of his departure. In
the course of a few days, word was brought that Ojeda had landed on a
distant part of the coast. He immediately pursued him with eighty men in
canoes, sending scouts by land. Before he arrived at the place, Ojeda had
again made sail, and Roldan saw and heard no more of him. Las Casas
asserts, however, that Ojeda departed either to some remote district of
Hispaniola, or to the island of Porto Rico, where he made up what he
called his _Cavalgada_, or drove of slaves; carrying off numbers of
the unhappy natives, whom he sold in the slave-market of Cadiz. [62]

Chapter VII.

Conspiracy of Guevara and Moxica.


When men have been accustomed to act falsely, they take great merit to
themselves for an exertion of common honesty. The followers of Roldan were
loud in trumpeting forth their unwonted loyalty, and the great services
they had rendered to government in driving Ojeda from the island. Like all
reformed knaves, they expected that their good conduct would be amply
rewarded. Looking upon their leader as having every thing in his gift, and
being well pleased with the delightful province of Cahay, they requested
him to share the land among them, that they might settle there. Roldan
would have had no hesitation in granting their request, had it been made
during his freebooting career; but he was now anxious to establish a
character for adherence to the laws. He declined, therefore, acceding to
their wishes, until sanctioned by the admiral. Knowing, however, that he
had fostered a spirit among these men which it was dangerous to
contradict, and that their rapacity, by long indulgence, did not admit of
delay, he shared among them certain lands of his own, in the territory of
his ancient host Behechio, cacique of Xaragua. He then wrote to the
admiral for permission to return to San Domingo, and received a letter in
reply, giving him many thanks and commendations for the diligence and
address which he had manifested, but requesting him to remain for a time
in Xaragua, lest Ojeda should be yet hovering about the coast, and
disposed to make another descent in that province.

The troubles of the island were not yet at an end, but were destined again
to break forth, and from somewhat of a romantic cause. There arrived about
this time, at Xaragua, a young cavalier of noble family, named Don
Hernando de Guevara. He possessed an agreeable person and winning manners,
but was headstrong in his passions and dissolute in his principles. He was
cousin to Adrian de Moxica, one of the most active ringleaders in the late
rebellion of Roldan, and had conducted himself with such licentiousness at
San Domingo, that Columbus had banished him from the island. There being
no other opportunity of embarking, he had been sent to Xaragua, to return
to Spain in one of the ships of Ojeda, but arrived after their departure.
Roldan received him favorably, on account of his old comrade, Adrian de
Moxica, and permitted him to choose some place of residence until further
orders concerning him should arrive from the admiral. He chose the
province of Cahay, at the place where Roldan had captured the boat of
Ojeda. It was a delightful part of that beautiful coast; but the reason
why Guevara chose it, was the vicinity to Xaragua. While at the latter
place, in consequence of the indulgence of Roldan, he was favorably
received at the house of Anacaona, the widow of Caonabo, and sister of the
cacique Behechio. That remarkable woman still retained her partiality to
the Spaniards, notwithstanding the disgraceful scenes which had passed
before her eyes; and the native dignity of her character had commanded the
respect even of the dissolute rabble which infested her province. By her
late husband, the cacique Caonabo, she had a daughter named Higuenamota,
just grown up, and greatly admired for her beauty. Guevara being often in
company with her, a mutual attachment ensued. It was to be near her that
he chose Cahay as a residence, at a place where his cousin Adrian de
Moxica kept a number of dogs and hawks, to be employed in the chase.
Guevara delayed his departure. Roldan discovered the reason, and warned
him to desist from his pretensions and leave the province. Las Casas
intimates that Roldan was himself attached to the young Indian beauty, and
jealous of her preference of his rival. Anacaona, the mother, pleased with
the gallant appearance and ingratiating manners of the youthful cavalier,
favored his attachment; especially as he sought her daughter in marriage.
Notwithstanding the orders of Roldan, Guevara still lingered in Xaragua,
in the house of Anacaona; and sending for a priest, desired him to baptize
his intended bride.

Hearing of this, Roldan sent for Guevara, and rebuked him sharply for
remaining at Xaragua, and attempting to deceive a person of the importance
of Anacaona, by ensnaring the affections of her daughter. Guevara avowed
the strength of his passion, and his correct intentions, and entreated
permission to remain. Roldan was inflexible. He alleged that some evil
construction might be put on his conduct by the admiral; but it is
probable his true motive was a desire to send away a rival, who interfered
with his own amorous designs. Guevara obeyed; but had scarce been three
days at Cahay, when, unable to remain longer absent from the object of his
passion, he returned to Xaragua, accompanied by four or five friends, and
concealed himself in the dwelling of Anacaona. Roldan, who was at that
time confined by a malady in his eyes, being apprised of his return, sent
orders for him to depart instantly to Cahay. The young cavalier assumed a
tone of defiance. He warned Roldan not to make foes when he had such great
need of friends; for, to his certain knowledge, the admiral intended to
behead him. Upon this, Roldan commanded him to quit that part of the
island, and repair to San Domingo, to present himself before the admiral.
The thoughts of being banished entirely from the vicinity of his Indian
beauty checked the vehemence of the youth. He changed his tone of haughty
defiance into one of humble supplication; and Roldan, appeased by this
submission, permitted him to remain for the present in the neighborhood.

Roldan had instilled willfulness and violence into the hearts of his late
followers, and now was doomed to experience the effects. Guevara, incensed
at his opposition to his passion, meditated revenge. He soon made a party
among the old comrades of Roldan, who detested, as a magistrate, the man
they had idolized as a leader. It was concerted to rise suddenly upon him,
and either to kill him or put out his eyes. Roldan was apprised of the
plot, and proceeded with his usual promptness. Guevara was seized in the
dwelling of Anacaona, in the presence of his intended bride; seven of his
accomplices were likewise arrested. Roldan immediately sent an account of
the affair to the admiral, professing, at present, to do nothing without
his authority, and declaring himself not competent to judge impartially in
the case. Columbus, who was at that time at Fort Conception, in the Vega,
ordered the prisoner to be conducted to the fortress of San Domingo.

The vigorous measures of Roldan against his old comrades produced
commotions in the island. When Adrian de Moxica heard that his cousin
Guevara was a prisoner, and that, too, by command of his former
confederate, he was highly exasperated, and resolved on vengeance.
Hastening to Bonao, the old haunt of rebellion, he obtained the
co-operation of Pedro Riquelme, the recently-appointed alcalde. They went
round among their late companions in rebellion, who had received lands and
settled in various parts of the Vega, working upon their ready passions,
and enlisting their feelings in the cause of an old comrade. These men
seem to have had an irresistible propensity to sedition. Guevara was a
favorite with them all; the charms of the Indian beauty had probably their
influence; and the conduct of Roldan was pronounced a tyrannical
interference, to prevent a marriage agreeable to all parties, and
beneficial to the colony. There is no being so odious to his former
associates as a reformed robber, or a rebel, enlisted in the service of
justice. The old scenes of faction were renewed; the weapons which had
scarce been hung up from the recent rebellions were again snatched down
from the walls, and rash preparations were made for action. Moxica soon
saw a body of daring and reckless men ready, with horse and weapon, to
follow him on any desperate enterprise. Blinded by the impunity which had
attended their former outrages, he now threatened acts of greater
atrocity, meditating not merely the rescue of his cousin, but the death of
Roldan and the admiral.

Columbus was at Fort Conception, with an inconsiderable force, when this
dangerous plot was concerted in his very neighborhood. Not dreaming of any
further hostilities from men on whom he had lavished favors, he would
doubtless have fallen into their power, had not intelligence been brought
him of the plot by a deserter from the conspirators. He saw at a glance
the perils by which he was surrounded, and the storm about to burst upon
the island. It was no longer a time for lenient measures; he determined to
strike a blow which should crush the very head of rebellion.

Taking with him but six or seven trusty servants, and three esquires, all
well armed, he set out in the night for the place where the ringleaders
were quartered. Confiding probably in the secrecy of their plot, and the
late passiveness of the admiral, they appear to have been perfectly
unguarded. Columbus came upon them by surprise, seized Moxica and several
of his principal confederates, and bore them off to Fort Conception. The
moment was critical; the Vega was ripe for a revolt; he had the fomenter
of the conspiracy in his power, and an example was called for, that should
strike terror into the factious. He ordered Moxica to be hanged on the top
of the fortress. The latter entreated to be allowed to confess himself
previous to execution. A priest was summoned. The miserable Moxica, who
had been so arrogant in rebellion, lost all courage at the near approach
of death. He delayed to confess, beginning and pausing, and re-commencing,
and again hesitating, as if he hoped, by whiling away time, to give a
chance for rescue. Instead of confessing his own sins, he accused others
of criminality, who were known to be innocent; until Columbus, incensed at
this falsehood and treachery, and losing all patience, in his mingled
indignation and scorn, ordered the dastard wretch to be swung off from the
battlements. [63]

This sudden act of severity was promptly followed up. Several of the
accomplices of Moxica were condemned to death and thrown in irons to await
their fate. Before the conspirators had time to recover from their
astonishment, Pedro Riquelme was taken, with several of his compeers, in
his ruffian den at Bonao, and conveyed to the fortress of San Domingo;
where was also confined the original mover of this second rebellion,
Hernando de Guevara, the lover of the young Indian princess. These
unexpected acts of rigor, proceeding from a quarter which had been long so
lenient, had the desired effect. The conspirators fled for the most part
to Xaragua, their old and favorite retreat. They were not suffered to
congregate there again, and concert new seditions. The Adelantado,
seconded by Roldan, pursued them with his characteristic rapidity of
movement and vigor of arm. It has been said that he carried a priest with
him, in order that, as he arrested delinquents, they might be confessed
and hanged upon the spot; but the more probable account is that he
transmitted them prisoners to San Domingo. He had seventeen of them at one
time confined in one common dungeon, awaiting their trial, while he
continued in indefatigable pursuit of the remainder. [64]

These were prompt and severe measures; but when we consider how long
Columbus had borne with these men; how much he had ceded and sacrificed to
them; how he had been interrupted in all his great undertakings, and the
welfare of the colony destroyed by their contemptible and seditious
brawls; how they had abused his lenity, defied his authority, and at
length attempted his life,-we cannot wonder that he should at last let
fall the sword of justice, which he had hitherto held suspended.

The power of faction was now completely subdued; and the good effects of
the various measures taken by Columbus, since his last arrival, for the
benefit of the island, began to appear. The Indians, seeing the inefficacy
of resistance, submitted to the yoke. Many gave signs of civilization,
having, in some instances, adopted clothing and embraced Christianity.
Assisted by their labors, the Spaniards now cultivated their lands
diligently, and there was every appearance of settled and regular

Columbus considered all this happy change as brought about by the especial
intervention of heaven. In a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, a lady of
distinction, aya or nurse of Prince Juan, he gives an instance of those
visionary fancies to which he was subject in times of illness and anxiety.
In the preceding winter, he says, about the festival of Christmas, when
menaced by Indian war and domestic rebellion, when distrustful of those
around him and apprehensive of disgrace at court, he sank for a time into
complete despondency. In this hour of gloom, when abandoned to despair, he
heard in the night a voice addressing him in words of comfort, "Oh man of
little faith! why art thou cast down? Fear nothing, I will provide for
thee. The seven years of the term of gold are not expired; in that, and in
all other things, I will take care of thee."

The seven years term of gold here mentioned, alludes to a vow made by
Columbus on discovering the New World, and recorded by him in a letter to
the sovereigns, that within seven years he would furnish, from the profits
of his discoveries, fifty thousand foot and five thousand horse, for the
deliverance of the holy sepulchre, and an additional force of like amount,
within five years afterwards.

The comforting assurance given him by the voice was corroborated, he says,
that very day, by intelligence received of the discovery of a large tract
of country rich in mines. [65] This imaginary promise of
divine aid thus mysteriously given, appeared to him at present in still
greater progress of fulfillment. The troubles and dangers of the island
had been succeeded by tranquillity. He now anticipated the prosperous
prosecution of his favorite enterprise, so long interrupted,--the
exploring of the regions of Paria, and the establishment of a fishery in
the Gulf of Pearls. How illusive were his hopes! At this moment events
were maturing which were to overwhelm him with distress, strip him of his
honors, and render him comparatively a wreck for the remainder of his

Book XIII.

Chapter I.

Representations at Court Against Columbus.--Bobadilla Empowered to Examine
into His Conduct.


While Columbus was involved in a series of difficulties in the factious
island of Hispaniola, his enemies were but too successful in undermining
his reputation in the court of Spain. The report brought by Ojeda of his
anticipated disgrace was not entirely unfounded; the event was considered
near at hand, and every perfidious exertion was made to accelerate it.
Every vessel from the New World came freighted with complaints,
representing Columbus and his brothers as new men, unaccustomed to
command, inflated by their sudden rise from obscurity; arrogant and
insulting towards men of birth and lofty spirit; oppressive of the common
people, and cruel in their treatment of the natives. The insidious and
illiberal insinuation was continually urged, that they were foreigners,
who could have no interest in the glory of Spain, or the prosperity of
Spaniards; and contemptible as this plea may seem, it had a powerful
effect. Columbus was even accused of a design to cast off all allegiance
to Spain, and either make himself sovereign of the countries he had
discovered, or yield them into the hands of some other power: a slander
which, however extravagant, was calculated to startle the jealous mind of

It is true, that by every ship Columbus likewise sent home statements,
written with the frankness and energy of truth, setting forth the real
cause and nature of the distractions of the island, and pointing out and
imploring remedies, which, if properly applied, might have been
efficacious. His letters, however, arriving at distant intervals, made but
single and transient impressions on the royal mind, which were speedily
effaced by the influence of daily and active misrepresentation. His
enemies at court, having continual access to the sovereigns, were enabled
to place every thing urged against him in the strongest point of view,
while they secretly neutralized the force of his vindications. They used a
plausible logic to prove either bad management or bad faith on his part.
There was an incessant drain upon the mother country for the support of
the colony. Was this compatible with the extravagant pictures he had drawn
of the wealth of the island, and its golden mountains, in which he had
pretended to find the Ophir of ancient days, the source of all the riches
of Solomon? They inferred that he had either deceived the sovereigns by
designing exaggerations, or grossly wronged them by malpractices, or was
totally incapable of the duties of government.

The disappointment of Ferdinand, in finding his newly-discovered
possessions a source of expense instead of profit, was known to press
sorely on his mind. The wars, dictated by his ambition, had straitened his
resources, and involved him in perplexities. He had looked with confidence
to the New World for relief, and for ample means to pursue his triumphs;
and grew impatient at the repeated demands which it occasioned on his
scanty treasury. For the purpose of irritating his feelings and
heightening his resentment, every disappointed and repining man who
returned from the colony was encouraged, by the hostile faction, to put in
claims for pay withheld by Columbus, or losses sustained in his service.
This was especially the case with the disorderly ruffians shipped off to
free the island from sedition. Finding their way to the court of Granada,
they followed the king when he rode out, filling the air with their
complaints, and clamoring for their pay. At one time, about fifty of these
vagabonds found their way into the inner court of the Alhambra, under the
royal apartments; holding up bunches of grapes, as the meagre diet left
them by their poverty, and railing aloud at the deceits of Columbus, and
the cruel neglect of government. The two sons of Columbus, who were pages
to the queen, happening to pass by, they followed them with imprecations,
exclaiming, "There go the sons of the admiral, the whelps of him who
discovered the land of vanity and delusion, the grave of Spanish
hidalgos." [66]

The incessant repetition of falsehood will gradually wear its way into the
most candid mind. Isabella herself began to entertain doubts respecting
the conduct of Columbus. Where there was such universal and incessant
complaint, it seemed reasonable to conclude that there must exist some
fault. If Columbus and his brothers were upright, they might be
injudicious; and, in government, mischief is oftener produced through
error of judgment, than iniquity of design. The letters written by
Columbus himself presented a lamentable picture of the confusion of the
island. Might not this arise from the weakness and incapacity of the
rulers? Even granting that the prevalent abuses arose in a great measure
from the enmity of the people to the admiral and his brothers, and their
prejudices against them as foreigners, was it safe to intrust so important
and distant a command to persons so unpopular with the community?

These considerations had much weight in the candid mind of Isabella, but
they were all-powerful with the cautious and jealous Ferdinand. He had
never regarded Columbus with real cordiality; and ever since he had
ascertained the importance of his discoveries, had regretted the extensive
powers vested in his hands. The excessive clamors which had arisen during
the brief administration of the Adelantado, and the breaking out of the
faction of Roldan, at length determined the king to send out some person
of consequence and ability, to investigate the affairs of the colony, and,
if necessary for its safety, to take upon himself the command. This
important and critical measure it appears had been decided upon, and the
papers and powers actually drawn out, in the spring of 1499. It was not
carried into effect, however, until the following year. Various reasons
have been assigned for this delay. The important services rendered by
Columbus in the discovery of Paria and the Pearl Islands may have had some
effect on the royal mind. The necessity of fitting out an armament just at
that moment, to co-operate with the Venetians against the Turks; the
menacing movements of the new king of France, Louis XII; the rebellion of
the Moors of the Alpuxarra mountains in the lately-conquered kingdom of
Granada; all these have been alleged as reasons for postponing a measure
which called for much consideration, and might have important effects upon
the newly-discovered possessions. [67] The most probable reason, however,
was the strong disinclination of Isabella to take so harsh a step against
a man for whom she entertained such ardent gratitude and high admiration.

At length the arrival of the ships with the late followers of Roldan,
according to their capitulation, brought matters to a crisis. It is true
that Ballester and Barrantes came in these ships, to place the affairs of
the island in a proper light; but they brought out a host of witnesses in
favor of Roldan, and letters written by himself and his confederates,
attributing all their late conduct to the tyranny of Columbus and his
brothers. Unfortunately, the testimony of the rebels had the greatest
weight with Ferdinand; and there was a circumstance in the case which
suspended for a time the friendship of Isabella, hitherto the greatest
dependence of Columbus.

Having a maternal interest in the welfare of the natives, the queen had
been repeatedly offended by what appeared to her pertinacity on the part
of Columbus, in continuing to make slaves of those taken in warfare, in
contradiction to her known wishes. The same ships which brought home the
companions of Roldan, brought likewise a great number of slaves. Some,
Columbus had been obliged to grant to these men by the articles of
capitulation; others they had brought away clandestinely. Among them were
several daughters of caciques, seduced away from their families and their
native island by these profligates. Some of these were in a state of
pregnancy, others had new-born infants. The gifts and transfers of these
unhappy beings were all ascribed to the will of Columbus, and represented
to Isabella in the darkest colors. Her sensibility as a woman, and her
dignity as a queen, were instantly in arms. "What power," exclaimed she
indignantly, "has the admiral to give away my vassals?" [68] Determined,
by one decided and peremptory act, to show her abhorrence of these
outrages upon humanity, she ordered all the Indians to be restored to
their country and friends. Nay more, her measure was retrospective. She
commanded that those formerly sent to Spain by the admiral should be
sought out, and sent back to Hispaniola. Unfortunately for Columbus, at
this very juncture, in one of his letters, he advised the continuance of
Indian slavery for some time longer, as a measure important for the
welfare of the colony. This contributed to heighten the indignation of
Isabella, and induced her no longer to oppose the sending out of a
commission to investigate his conduct, and, if necessary, to supersede
him in command.

Ferdinand was exceedingly embarrassed in appointing this commission,
between his sense of what was due to the character and services of
Columbus, and his anxiety to retract with delicacy the powers vested in
him. A pretext at length was furnished by the recent request of the
admiral that a person of talents and probity, learned in the law, might be
sent out to act as chief judge; and that an impartial umpire might be
appointed, to decide in the affair between himself and Roldan. Ferdinand
proposed to consult his wishes, but to unite those two officers in one;
and as the person he appointed would have to decide in matters touching
the highest functions of the admiral and his brothers, he was empowered,
should he find them culpable, to supersede them in the government; a
singular mode of insuring partiality!

The person chosen for this momentous and delicate office was Don Francisco
de Bobadilla, an officer of the royal household, and a commander of the
military and religious order of Calatrava. Oviedo pronounces him a very
honest and religious man; [69] but he is represented by others, and his
actions corroborate the description, as needy, passionate, and ambitious;
three powerful objections to his exercising the rights of judicature in a
case requiring the utmost patience, candor, and circumspection, and where
the judge was to derive wealth and power from the conviction of one of the

The authority vested in Bobadilla is defined in letters from the
sovereigns still extant, and which deserve to be noticed chronologically;
for the royal intentions appear to have varied with times and
circumstances. The first was dated on the 21st of March, 1499, and
mentions the complaint of the admiral, that an alcalde, and certain other
persons, had risen in rebellion against him. "Wherefore," adds the latter,
"we order you to inform yourself of the truth of the foregoing; to
ascertain who and what persons they were who rose against the said admiral
and our magistracy, and for what cause; and what robberies and other
injuries they have committed; and furthermore, to extend your inquiries to
all other matters relating to the premises; and the information obtained,
and the truth known, whomsoever you find culpable, _arrest their
persons, and sequestrate their effects;_ and thus taken, proceed
against them and the absent, both civilly and criminally, and impose and
inflict such fines and punishments as you may think fit." To carry this
into effect, Bobadilla was authorized, in case of necessity, to call in
the assistance of the admiral, and of all other persons in authority.

The powers here given are manifestly directed merely against the rebels,
and in consequence of the complaints of Columbus. Another letter, dated on
the 21st of May, two months subsequently, is of quite different purport.
It makes no mention of Columbus, but is addressed to the various
functionaries and men of property of the islands and Terra Firma,
informing them of the appointment of Bobadilla to the government, with
full civil and criminal jurisdiction. Among the powers specified, is the
following;--"It is our will, that if the said commander, Francisco de
Bobadilla, should think it necessary for our service, and the purposes of
justice, that any cavaliers, or other persons who are at present in those
islands, or may arrive there, should leave them, and not return and reside
in them, and that they should come and present themselves before us, he
may command it in our name, and oblige them to depart; and whomsoever he
thus commands, we hereby order, that immediately, without waiting to
inquire or consult us, or to receive from us any other letter or command,
and without interposing appeal or supplication, they obey whatever he
shall say and order, under the penalties which he shall impose on our
part," &c. &c.

Another letter, dated likewise on the 21st of May, in which Columbus is
styled simply, "admiral of the ocean sea," orders him and his brothers to
surrender the fortress, ships, houses, arms, ammunition, cattle, and all
other royal property, into the hands of Bobadilla, as governor, under
penalty of incurring the punishments to which those subject themselves who
refuse to surrender fortresses and other trusts, when commanded by their

A fourth letter, dated on the 26th of May, and addressed to Columbus,
simply by the title of admiral, is a mere letter of credence, ordering him
to give faith and obedience to whatever Bobadilla should impart.

The second and third of these letters were evidently provisional, and only
to be produced, if, on examination, there should appear such delinquency
on the part of Columbus and his brothers as to warrant their being
divested of command.

This heavy blow, as has been shown, remained suspended for a year; yet,
that it was whispered about, and triumphantly anticipated by the enemies
of Columbus, is evident from the assertions of Ojeda, who sailed from
Spain about the time of the signature of those letters, and had intimate
communications with Bishop Fonseca, who was considered instrumental in
producing this measure. The very license granted by the bishop to Ojeda to
sail on a voyage of discovery in contravention of the prerogatives of the
admiral, has the air of being given on a presumption of his speedy
downfall; and the same presumption, as has already been observed, must
have encouraged Ojeda in his turbulent conduct at Xaragua.

At length the long-projected measure was carried into effect. Bobadilla
set sail for San Domingo about the middle of July, 1500, with two
caravels, in which were twenty-five men, enlisted for a year, to serve as
a kind of guard. There were six friars likewise, who had charge of a
number of Indians sent back to their country. Besides the letters patent,
Bobadilla was authorized, by royal order, to ascertain and discharge all
arrears of pay due to persons in the service of the crown; and to oblige
the admiral to pay what was due on his part, "so that those people might
receive what was owing to them, and there might be no more complaints." In
addition to all these powers, Bobadilla was furnished with many blank
letters signed by the sovereigns, to be filled up by him in such manner,
and directed to such persons, as he might think advisable, in relation to
the mission with which he was intrusted. [70]

Chapter II.

Arrival of Bobadilla at San Domingo--His Violent Assumption of the Command.


Columbus was still at Fort Conception, regulating the affairs of the
Vega, after the catastrophe of the sedition of Moxica; his brother, the
Adelantado, accompanied by Roldan, was pursuing and arresting the fugitive
rebels in Xaragua; and Don Diego Columbus remained in temporary command at
San Domingo. Faction had worn itself out; the insurgents had brought down
ruin upon themselves; and the island appeared delivered from the
domination of violent and lawless men.

Such was the state of public affairs, when, on the morning of the 23d of
August, two caravels were descried off the harbor of San Domingo, about a
league at sea. They were standing off and on, waiting until the sea
breeze, which generally prevails about ten o'clock, should carry them into
port. Don Diego Columbus supposed them to be ships sent from Spain with
supplies, and hoped to find on board his nephew Diego, whom the admiral
had requested might be sent out to assist him in his various concerns. A
canoe was immediately dispatched to obtain information; which, approaching
the caravels, inquired what news they brought, and whether Diego, the son
of the admiral, was on board. Bobadilla himself replied from the principal
vessel, announcing himself as a commissioner sent out to investigate the
late rebellion. The master of the caravel then inquired about the news of
the island, and was informed of the recent transactions. Seven of the
rebels, he was told, had been hanged that week, and five more were in the
fortress of San Domingo, condemned to suffer the same fate. Among these
were Pedro Riquelme and Fernando de Guevara, the young cavalier whose
passion for the daughter of Anacaona had been the original cause of the
rebellion. Further, conversation passed, in the course of which Bobadilla
ascertained that the admiral and the Adelantado were absent, and Don Diego
Columbus in command.

When the canoe returned to the city, with the news that a commissioner had
arrived to make inquisition into the late troubles, there was a great stir
and agitation throughout the community. Knots of whisperers gathered at
every corner; those who were conscious of malpractices were filled with
consternation; while those who had grievances, real or imaginary, to
complain of, especially those whose pay was in arrear, appeared with joyful
countenances. [71]

As the vessels entered the river, Bobadilla beheld on either bank a gibbet
with the body of a Spaniard hanging on it, apparently but lately executed.
He considered these as conclusive proofs of the alleged cruelty of
Columbus. Many boats came off to the ship, every one being anxious to pay
early court to this public censor. Bobadilla remained on board all day, in
the course of which he collected much of the rumors of the place; and as
those who sought to secure his favor were those who had most to fear from
his investigations, it is evident that the nature of the rumors must
generally have been unfavorable to Columbus. In fact, before Bobadilla
landed, if not before he arrived, the culpability of the admiral was
decided in his mind.

The next morning he landed with all his followers, and went to the church
to attend mass, where he found Don Diego Columbus, Rodrigo Perez, the
lieutenant of the admiral, and other persons of note. Mass being ended,
and those persons, with a multitude of the populace, being assembled at
the door of the church, Bobadilla ordered his letters patent to be read,
authorizing him to investigate the rebellion, seize the persons, and
sequestrate the property of delinquents, and proceed against them with the
utmost rigor of the law; commanding also the admiral, and all others in
authority, to assist him in the discharge of his duties. The letter being
read, he demanded of Don Diego and the alcaldes, to surrender to him the
persons of Fernando Guevara, Pedro Riquelme, and the other prisoners, with
the depositions taken concerning them; and ordered that the parties by
whom they were accused, and those by whose command they had been taken,
should appear before him.

Don Diego replied, that the proceedings had emanated from the orders of
the admiral, who held superior powers to any Bobadilla could possess, and
without whose authority he could do nothing. He requested, at the same
time, a copy of the letter patent, that he might send it to his brother,
to whom alone the matter appertained. This Bobadilla refused, observing
that, if Don Diego had power to do nothing, it was useless to give him a
copy. He added, that since the office and authority he had proclaimed
appeared to have no weight, he would try what power and consequence there
was in the name of governor; and would show them that he had command, not
merely over them, but over the admiral himself.

The little community remained in breathless suspense, awaiting the
portentous movements of Bobadilla. The next morning he appeared at mass,
resolved on assuming those powers which were only to have been produced
after full investigation, and ample proof of the mal-conduct of Columbus.
When mass was over, and the eager populace had gathered round the door of
the church, Bobadilla, in presence of Don Diego and Rodrigo Perez, ordered
his other royal patent to be read, investing him with the government of
the islands, and of Terra Firma.

The patent being read, Bobadilla took the customary oath, and then claimed
the obedience of Don Diego, Rodrigo Perez, and all present, to this royal
instrument; on the authority of which he again demanded the prisoners
confined in the fortress. In reply, they professed the utmost deference to
the letter of the sovereigns, but again observed that they held the
prisoners in obedience to the admiral, to whom the sovereigns had granted
letters of a higher nature.

The self-importance of Bobadilla was incensed at this non-compliance,
especially as he saw it had some effect upon the populace, who appeared to
doubt his authority. He now produced the third mandate of the crown,
ordering Columbus and his brothers to deliver up all fortresses, ships,
and other royal property. To win the public completely to his side, he
read also the additional mandate issued on the 30th of May, of the same
year, ordering him to pay the arrears of wages due to all persons in the
royal service, and to compel the admiral to pay the arrears of those to
whom he was accountable.

This last document was received with shouts by the multitude, many having
long arrears due to them in consequence of the poverty of the treasury.
Flushed with his growing importance, Bobadilla again demanded the
prisoners; threatening, if refused, to take them by force. Meeting with
the same reply, he repaired to the fortress to execute his threats. This
post was commanded by Miguel Diaz, the same Arragonian cavalier who had
once taken refuge among the Indians on the banks of the Ozema, won the
affections of the female cacique Catalina, received from her information
of the neighboring gold mines, and induced his countrymen to remove to
those parts.

When Bobadilla came before the fortress, he found the gates closed, and
the alcayde, Miguel Diaz, upon the battlements. He ordered his letters
patent to be read with a loud voice, the signatures and seals to be held
up to view, and then demanded the surrender of the prisoners. Diaz
requested a copy of the letters; but this Bobadilla refused, alleging that
there was no time for delay, the prisoners being under sentence of death,
and liable at any moment to be executed. He threatened, at the same time,
that if they were not given up, he would proceed to extremities, and Diaz
should be answerable for the consequences. The wary alcayde again required
time to reply, and a copy of the letters; saying that he held the fortress
for the king, by the command of the admiral, his lord, who had gained
these territories and islands, and that when the latter arrived, he should
obey his orders. [72]

The whole spirit of Bobadilla was roused within him at the refusal of the
alcayde. Assembling all the people he had brought from Spain, together
with the sailors of the ships, and the rabble of the place, he exhorted
them to aid him in getting possession of the prisoners, but to harm no one
unless in case of resistance. The mob shouted assent, for Bobadilla was
already the idol of the multitude. About the hour of vespers he set out,
at the head of this motley army, to storm a fortress destitute of a
garrison, and formidable only in name, being calculated to withstand only
a naked and slightly-armed people. The accounts of this transaction have
something in them bordering on the ludicrous, and give it the air of
absurd rhodomontade. Bobadilla assailed the portal with great impetuosity,
the frail bolts and locks of which gave way at the first shock, and
allowed him easy admission. In the meantime, however, his zealous
myrmidons applied ladders to the walls, as if about to carry the place by
assault, and to experience a desperate defence. The alcayde, Miguel Diaz,
and Don Diego de Alvarado, alone appeared on the battlements; they had
drawn swords, but offered no resistance. Bobadilla entered the fortress in
triumph, and without molestation. The prisoners were found in a chamber in
irons. He ordered that they should be brought up to him to the top of the
fortress, where, having put a few questions to them, as a matter of form,
he gave them in charge to an alguazil named Juan de Espinosa. [73]

Such was the arrogant and precipitate entrance into office of Francisco de
Bobadilla. He had reversed the order of his written instructions; having
seized upon the government before he had investigated the conduct of
Columbus. He continued his career in the same spirit; acting as if the
case had been prejudged in Spain, and he had been sent out merely to
degrade the admiral from his employments, not to ascertain the manner in
which he had fulfilled them. He took up his residence in the house of
Columbus, seized upon his arms, gold, plate, jewels, horses, together with
his letters, and various manuscripts, both public and private, even to his
most secret papers. He gave no account of the property thus seized; and
which he no doubt considered already confiscated to the crown, excepting
that he paid out of it the wages of those to whom the admiral was in
arrears. [74] To increase his favor with the people, he proclaimed, on the
second day of his assumption of power, a general license for the term of
twenty years, to seek for gold, paying merely one eleventh to government,
instead of a third as heretofore. At the same time, he spoke in the most
disrespectful and unqualified terms of Columbus, saying that he was
empowered to send him home in chains, and that neither he nor any of his
lineage would ever again be permitted to govern in the island. [75]

Chapter III.

Columbus Summoned to Appear before Bobadilla.


When the tidings reached Columbus at Fort Conception of the high-handed
proceedings of Bobadilla, he considered them the unauthorized acts of some
rash adventurer like Ojeda. Since government had apparently thrown open
the door to private enterprise, he might expect to have his path
continually crossed, and his jurisdiction infringed by bold intermeddlers,
feigning or fancying themselves authorized to interfere in the affairs of
the colony. Since the departure of Ojeda another squadron had touched upon
the coast, and produced a transient alarm, being an expedition under one
of the Pinzons, licensed by the sovereigns to make discoveries. There had
also been a rumor of another squadron hovering about the island, which
proved, however, to be unfounded. [76]

The conduct of Bobadilla bore all the appearance of a lawless usurpation
of some intruder of the kind. He had possessed himself forcibly of the
fortress, and consequently of the town. He had issued extravagant licenses
injurious to the government, and apparently intended only to make
partisans among the people; and had threatened to throw Columbus himself
in irons. That this man could really be sanctioned by government, in such
intemperate measures, was repugnant to belief. The admiral's consciousness
of his own services, the repeated assurances he had received of high
consideration on the part of the sovereigns, and the perpetual
prerogatives granted to him under their hand and seal, with all the
solemnity that a compact could possess, all forbade him to consider the
transactions at San Domingo otherwise than as outrages on his authority by
some daring or misguided individual.

To be nearer to San Domingo, and obtain more correct information, he
proceeded to Bonao, which was now beginning to assume the appearance of a
settlement, several Spaniards having erected houses there, and cultivated
the adjacent country. He had scarcely reached the place, when an alcalde,
bearing a staff of office, arrived there from San Domingo, proclaiming the
appointment of Bobadilla to the government, and bearing copies of his
letters patent. There was no especial letter or message sent to the
admiral, nor were any of the common forms of courtesy and ceremony
observed in superseding him in the command; all the proceedings of
Bobadilla towards him were abrupt and insulting.

Columbus was exceedingly embarrassed how to act. It was evident that
Bobadilla was intrusted with extensive powers by the sovereigns, but that
they could have exercised such a sudden, unmerited, and apparently
capricious act of severity, as that of divesting him of all his commands,
he could not believe. He endeavored to persuade himself that Bobadilla was
some person sent out to exercise the functions of chief judge, according
to the request he had written home to the sovereigns, and that they had
intrusted him likewise with provisional powers to make an inquest into the
late troubles of the island. All beyond these powers he tried to believe
were mere assumptions and exaggerations of authority, as in the case of
Aguado. At all events, he was determined to act upon such presumption, and
to endeavor to gain time. If the monarchs had really taken any harsh
measures with respect to him, it must have been in consequence of
misrepresentations. The least delay might give them an opportunity of
ascertaining their error, and making the necessary amends.

He wrote to Bobadilla, therefore, in guarded terms, welcoming him to the
island; cautioning him against precipitate measures, especially in
granting licenses to collect gold; informing him that he was on the point
of going to Spain, and in a little time would leave him in command, with
every thing fully and clearly explained. He wrote at the same time to the
like purport to certain monks who had come out with Bobadilla, though he
observes that these letters were only written to gain time. [77] He
received no replies: but while an insulting silence was observed towards
him, Bobadilla filled up several of the blank letters, of which he had a
number signed by the sovereigns, and sent them to Roldan, and other of the
admiral's enemies, the very men whom he had been sent out to judge. These
letters were full of civilities and promises of favor. [78]

To prevent any mischief which might arise from the licenses and
indulgences so prodigally granted by Bobadilla, Columbus published by word
and letter, that the powers assumed by him could not be valid, nor his
licenses availing, as he himself held superior powers granted to him in
perpetuity by the crown, which could no more be superseded in this
instance, than they had been in that of Aguado.

For some time Columbus remained in this anxious and perplexed state of
mind, uncertain what line of conduct to pursue in so singular and
unlooked-for a conjuncture. He was soon brought to a decision. Francisco
Velasquez, deputy treasurer, and Juan de Trasierra, a Franciscan friar,
arrived at Bonao, and delivered to him the royal letter of credence,
signed by the sovereigns on the 26th of May, 1499, commanding him to give
implicit faith and obedience to Bobadilla; and they delivered, at the same
time, a summons from the latter to appear immediately before him.

This laconic letter from the sovereigns struck at once at the root of all
his dignity and power. He no longer made hesitation or demur, but,
complying with the peremptory summons of Bobadilla, departed, almost alone
and unattended, for San Domingo. [79]

Chapter IV.

Columbus and His Brothers Arrested and Sent to Spain in Chains.


The tidings that a new governor had arrived, and that Columbus was in
disgrace, and to be sent home in chains, circulated rapidly through the
Vega, and the colonists hastened from all parts to San Domingo to make
interest with Bobadilla. It was soon perceived that there was no surer way
than that of vilifying his predecessor. Bobadilla felt that he had taken a
rash step in seizing upon the government, and that his own safety required
the conviction of Columbus. He listened eagerly, therefore, to all
accusations, public or private; and welcome was he who could bring any
charge, however extravagant, against the admiral and his brothers.

Hearing that the admiral was on his way to the city, he made a bustle of
preparation, and armed the troops, affecting to believe a rumor that
Columbus had called upon the caciques of the Vega to aid him with their
subjects in a resistance to the commands of government. No grounds appear
for this absurd report, which was probably invented to give a coloring of
precaution to subsequent measures of violence and insult. The admiral's
brother, Don Diego, was seized, thrown in irons, and confined on board of
a caravel, without any reason being assigned for his imprisonment.

In the meantime Columbus pursued his journey to San Domingo, traveling in
a lonely manner, without guards or retinue. Most of his people were with
the Adelantado, and he had declined being attended by the remainder. He
had heard of the rumors of the hostile intentions of Bobadilla; and
although he knew that violence was threatened to his person, he came in
this unpretending manner, to manifest his pacific feelings, and to remove
all suspicion. [80]

No sooner did Bobadilla hear of his arrival, than he gave orders to put
him in irons, and confine him in the fortress. This outrage to a person of
such dignified and venerable appearance, and such eminent merit, seemed,
for the time, to shock even his enemies. When the irons were brought,
every one present shrank from the task of putting them on him, either from
a sentiment of compassion at so great a reverse of fortune, or out of
habitual reverence for his person. To fill the measure of ingratitude
meted out to him, it was one of his own domestics, "a graceless and
shameless cook," says Las Casas, "who, with unwashed front, riveted the
fetters with as much readiness and alacrity, as though he were serving him
with choice and savory viands. I knew the fellow," adds the venerable
historian, "and I think his name was Espinosa." [81]

Columbus conducted himself with characteristic magnanimity under the
injuries heaped upon him. There is a noble scorn which swells and supports
the heart, and silences the tongue of the truly great, when enduring the
insults of the unworthy. Columbus could not stoop to deprecate the
arrogance of a weak and violent man like Bobadilla. He looked beyond this
shallow agent, and all his petty tyranny, to the sovereigns who had
employed him. Their injustice or ingratitude alone could wound his spirit;
and he felt assured that when the truth came to be known, they would blush
to find how greatly they had wronged him. With this proud assurance, he
bore all present indignities in silence.

Bobadilla, although he had the admiral and Don Diego in his power, and had
secured the venal populace, felt anxious and ill at ease. The Adelantado,
with an armed force under his command, was still in the distant province
of Xaragua, in pursuit of the rebels. Knowing his soldier-like and
determined spirit, he feared he might take some violent measure when he
should hear of the ignominious treatment and imprisonment of his brothers.
He doubted whether any order from himself would have any effect, except to
exasperate the stern Don Bartholomew. He sent a demand, therefore, to
Columbus, to write to his brother, requesting him to repair peaceably to
San Domingo, and forbidding him to execute the persons he held in
confinement: Columbus readily complied. He exhorted his brother to submit
quietly to the authority of his sovereigns, and to endure all present
wrongs and indignities, under the confidence that when they arrived at
Castile, every thing would be explained and redressed. [82]

On receiving this letter, Don Bartholomew immediately complied.
Relinquishing his command, he hastened peacefully to San Domingo, and on
arriving experienced the same treatment with his brothers, being put in
irons and confined on board of a caravel. They were kept separate from
each other, and no communication permitted between them. Bobadilla did not
see them himself, nor did he allow others to visit them; but kept them in
ignorance of the cause of their imprisonment, the crimes with which they
were charged, and the process that was going on against them. [83]

It has been questioned whether Bobadilla really had authority for the
arrest and imprisonment of the admiral and his brothers; [84]
and whether such violence and indignity was in any case contemplated by
the sovereigns. He may have fancied himself empowered by the clause in the
letter of instructions, dated March 21st, 1499, in which, speaking of the
rebellion of Roldan, "he is authorized to _seize the persons and
sequestrate the property_ of those who appeared to be culpable, and
then to proceed against them and against the absent, with the highest
civil and criminal penalties." This evidently had reference to the persons
of Roldan and his followers, who were then in arms, and against whom
Columbus had sent home complaints; and this, by a violent construction,
Bobadilla seems to have wrested into an authority for seizing the person
of the admiral himself. In fact, in the whole course of his proceedings,
he reversed and confounded the order of his instructions. His first step
should have been to proceed against the rebels; this he made the last. His
last step should have been, in case of ample evidence against the admiral,
to have superseded him in office; and this he made the first, without
waiting for evidence. Having predetermined, from the very outset, that
Columbus was in the wrong, by the same rule he had to presume that all the
opposite parties were in the right. It became indispensable to his own
justification to inculpate the admiral and his brothers; and the rebels he
had been sent to judge became, by this, singular perversion of rule,
necessary and cherished evidences, to criminate those against whom they
had rebelled.

The intentions of the crown, however, are not to be vindicated at the
expense of its miserable agent. If proper respect had been felt for the
rights and dignities of Columbus, Bobadilla would never have been
intrusted with powers so extensive, undefined, and discretionary; nor
would he have dared to proceed to such lengths, with such rudeness and
precipitation, had he not felt assured that it would not be displeasing to
the jealous-minded Ferdinand.

The old scenes of the time of Aguado were now renewed with tenfold
virulence, and the old charges revived, with others still more
extravagant. From the early and never-to-be-forgotten outrage upon
Castilian pride, of compelling hidalgos, in time of emergency, to labor in
the construction of works necessary to the public safety, down to the
recent charge of levying war against the government, there was not a
hardship, abuse, nor sedition in the island, that was not imputed to the
misdeeds of Columbus and his brothers. Besides the usual accusations of
inflicting oppressive labor, unnecessary tasks, painful restrictions,
short allowances of food, and cruel punishments upon the Spaniards, and
waging unjust wars against the natives, they were now charged with
preventing the conversion of the latter, that they might send them slaves
to Spain, and profit by their sale. This last charge, so contrary to the
pious feelings of the admiral, was founded on his having objected to the
baptism of certain Indians of mature age, until they could be instructed
in the doctrines of Christianity; justly considering it an abuse of that
holy sacrament to administer it thus blindly. [85]

Columbus was charged, also, with having secreted pearls, and other
precious articles, collected in his voyage along the coast of Paria, and
with keeping the sovereigns in ignorance of the nature of his discoveries
there, in order to exact new privileges from them; yet it was notorious
that he had sent home specimens of the pearls, and journals and charts of
his voyage, by which others had been enabled to pursue his track.

Even the late tumults, now that the rebels were admitted as evidence, were
all turned into matters of accusation. They were represented as spirited
and loyal resistances to tyranny exercised upon the colonists and the
natives. The well-merited punishments inflicted upon certain of the
ring-leaders were cited as proofs of a cruel and revengeful disposition,
and a secret hatred of Spaniards. Bobadilla believed, or affected to
believe, all these charges. He had, in a manner, made the rebels his
confederates in the ruin of Columbus. It was become a common cause with
them. He could no longer, therefore, conduct himself towards them as a
judge. Guevara, Riquelme, and their fellow-convicts, were discharged
almost without the form of a trial, and it is even said were received
into favor and countenance. Roldan, from the very first, had been
treated with confidence by Bobadilla, and honored with his
correspondence. All the others, whose conduct had rendered them liable
to justice, received either a special acquittal or a general pardon. It
was enough to have been opposed in any way to Columbus, to obtain full
justification in the eyes of Bobadilla.

The latter had now collected a weight of testimony, and produced a crowd
of witnesses, sufficient, as he conceived, to insure the condemnation of
the prisoners, and his own continuance in command. He determined,
therefore, to send the admiral and his brothers home in chains, in the
vessels ready for sea, transmitting at the same time the inquest taken in
their case, and writing private letters, enforcing the charges made
against them, and advising that Columbus should on no account be restored
to the command, which he had so shamefully abused.

San Domingo now swarmed with miscreants just delivered from the dungeon
and the gibbet. It was a perfect jubilee of triumphant villany and dastard
malice. Every base spirit, which had been awed into obsequiousness by
Columbus and his brothers when in power, now started up to revenge itself
upon them when in chains. The most injurious slanders were loudly
proclaimed in the streets; insulting pasquinades and inflammatory libels
were posted up at every corner; and horns were blown in the neighborhood
of their prisons, to taunt them with the exultings of the rabble. [86]
When these rejoicings of his enemies reached him in his dungeon, and
Columbus reflected on the inconsiderate violence already exhibited by
Bobadilla, he knew not how far his rashness and confidence might carry
him, and began to entertain apprehensions for his life.

The vessels being ready to make sail, Alonzo de Villejo was appointed to
take charge of the prisoners, and carry them to Spain. This officer had
been brought up by an uncle of Fonseca, was in the employ of that bishop,
and had come out with Bobadilla. The latter instructed him, on arriving at
Cadiz, to deliver his prisoners into the hands of Fonseca, or of his
uncle, thinking thereby to give the malignant prelate a triumphant
gratification. This circumstance gave weight with many to a report that
Bobadilla was secretly instigated and encouraged in his violent measures
by Fonseca, and was promised his protection and influence at court, in
case of any complaints of his conduct. [87]

Villejo undertook the office assigned him, but he discharged it in a more
generous manner than was intended. "This Alonzo de Villejo," says the
worthy Las Casas, "was a hidalgo of honorable character, and my particular
friend." He certainly showed himself superior to the low malignity of his
patrons. When he arrived with a guard to conduct the admiral from the
prison to the ship, he found him in chains in a state of silent
despondency. So violently had he been treated, and so savage were the
passions let loose against him, that he feared he should be sacrificed
without an opportunity of being heard, and his name go down sullied and
dishonored to posterity. When he beheld the officer enter with the guard,
he thought it was to conduct him to the scaffold. "Villejo," said he,
mournfully, "whither are you taking me?" "To the ship, your Excellency, to
embark," replied the other. "To embark!" repeated the admiral, earnestly;
"Villejo! do you speak the truth?" "By the life of your Excellency,"
replied the honest officer, "it is true!" With these words the admiral was
comforted, and felt as one restored from death to life. Nothing can be
more touching and expressive than this little colloquy, recorded by the
venerable Las Casas, who doubtless had it from the lips of his friend

The caravels set sail early in October, bearing off Columbus shackled like
the vilest of culprits, amidst the scoffs and shouts of a miscreant
rabble, who took a brutal joy in heaping insults on his venerable head,
and sent curses after him from the shores of the island he had so recently
added to the civilized world. Fortunately the voyage was favorable, and of
but moderate duration, and was rendered less disagreeable by the conduct
of those to whom he was given in custody. The worthy Villejo, though in
the service of Fonseca, felt deeply moved at the treatment of Columbus.
The master of the caravel, Andreas Martin, was equally grieved: they both
treated the admiral with profound respect and assiduous attention. They
would have taken off his irons, but to this he would not consent. "No,"
said he proudly, "their majesties commanded me by letter to submit to
whatever Bobadilla should order in their name; by their authority he has
put upon me these chains; I will wear them until they shall order them to
be taken off, and I will preserve them afterwards as relics and memorials
of the reward of my services." [88]

"He did so," adds his son Fernando; "I saw them always hanging in his
cabinet, and he requested that when he died they might be buried with
him." [89]

Book XIV.

Chapter I.

Sensation in Spain on the Arrival of Columbus in Irons.--His Appearance at


The arrival of Columbus at Cadiz, a prisoner and in chains, produced
almost as great a sensation as his triumphant return from his first
voyage. It was one of those striking and obvious facts, which speak to the
feelings of the multitude, and preclude the necessity of reflection. No
one stopped to inquire into the case. It was sufficient to be told that
Columbus was brought home in irons from the world he had discovered. There
was a general burst of indignation in Cadiz, and in the powerful and
opulent Seville, which was echoed throughout all Spain. If the ruin of
Columbus had been the intention of his enemies, they had defeated their
object by their own violence. One of those reactions took place, so
frequent in the public mind, when persecution is pushed to an unguarded
length. Those of the populace who had recently been loud in their clamor
against Columbus, were now as loud in their reprobation of his treatment,
and a strong sympathy was expressed, against which it would have been
odious for the government to contend.

The tidings of his arrival, and of the ignominious manner in which he had
been brought, reached the court at Granada, and filled the halls of the
Alhambra with murmurs of astonishment. Columbus, full of his wrongs, but
ignorant how far they had been authorized by the sovereigns, had forborne
to write to them. In the course of his voyage, however, he had penned a
long letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, the aya of Prince Juan, a lady high
in favor with Queen Isabella. This letter, on his arrival at Cadiz,
Andreas Martin, the captain of the caravel, permitted him to send off
privately by express. It arrived, therefore, before the protocol of the
proceedings instituted by Bobadilla, and from this document the sovereigns
derived their first intimation of his treatment. [90] It contained a
statement of the late transactions of the island, and of the wrongs he had
suffered, written with his usual artlessness and energy. To specify the
contents would be but to recapitulate circumstances already recorded. Some
expressions, however, which burst from him in the warmth of his feelings,
are worthy of being noted. "The slanders of worthless men," says he, "have
done me more injury than all my services have profited me." Speaking of
the misrepresentations to which he was subjected, he observes: "Such is
the evil name which I have acquired, that if I were to build hospitals and
churches, they would be called dens of robbers." After relating in
indignant terms the conduct of Bobadilla, in seeking testimony respecting
his administration from the very men who had rebelled against him, and
throwing himself and his brothers in irons, without letting them know the
offences with which they were charged, "I have been much aggrieved," he
adds, "in that a person should be sent out to investigate my conduct, who
knew that if the evidence which he could send home should appear to be of
a serious nature, he would remain in the government." He complains that,
in forming an opinion of his administration, allowances had not been made
for the extraordinary difficulties with which he had to contend, and the
wild state of the country over which he had to rule. "I was judged," he
observes, "as a governor who had been sent to take charge of a
well-regulated city, under the dominion of well-established laws, where
there was no danger of every thing running to disorder and ruin; but I
ought to be judged as a captain, sent to subdue a numerous and hostile
people, of manners and religion opposite to ours, living not in regular
towns, but in forests and mountains. It ought to be considered that I have
brought all these under subjection to their majesties, giving them
dominion over another world, by which Spain, heretofore poor, has suddenly
become rich. Whatever errors I may have fallen into, they were not with an
evil intention; and I believe their majesties will credit what I say. I
have known them to be merciful to those who have willfully done them
disservice; I am convinced that they will have still more indulgence for
me, who have erred innocently, or by compulsion, as they will hereafter be
more fully informed; and I trust they will consider my great services, the
advantages of which are every day more and more apparent."

When this letter was read to the noble-minded Isabella, and she found how
grossly Columbus had been wronged and the royal authority abused, her
heart was filled with mingled sympathy and indignation. The tidings were
confirmed by a letter from the alcalde or corregidor of Cadiz, into whose
hands Columbus and his brothers had been delivered, until the pleasure of
the sovereigns should be known; [91] and by another letter from Alonzo de
Villejo, expressed in terms accordant with his humane and honorable
conduct towards his illustrious prisoner.

However Ferdinand might have secretly felt disposed against Columbus, the
momentary tide of public feeling was not to be resisted. He joined with
his generous queen in her reprobation of the treatment of the admiral, and
both sovereigns hastened to give evidence to the world, that his
imprisonment had been without their authority, and contrary to their
wishes. Without waiting to receive any documents that might arrive from
Bobadilla, they sent orders to Cadiz that the prisoners should be
instantly set at liberty, and treated with all distinction. They wrote a
letter to Columbus, couched in terms of gratitude and affection,
expressing their grief at all that he had suffered, and inviting him to
court. They ordered, at the same time, that two thousand ducats should be
advanced to defray his expenses. [92]

The loyal heart of Columbus was again cheered by this declaration of his
sovereigns. He felt conscious of his integrity, and anticipated an
immediate restitution of all his rights and dignities. He appeared at
court in Granada on the 17th of December, not as a man ruined and
disgraced, but richly dressed, and attended by an honorable retinue. He
was received by the sovereigns with unqualified favor and distinction.
When the queen beheld this venerable man approach, and thought on all he
had deserved and all he had suffered, she was moved to tears. Columbus had
borne up firmly against the rude conflicts of the world,-he had endured
with lofty scorn the injuries and insults of ignoble men; but he possessed
strong and quick sensibility. When he found himself thus kindly received
by his sovereigns, and beheld tears in the benign eyes of Isabella, his
long-suppressed feelings burst forth: he threw himself on his knees, and
for some time could not utter a word for the violence of his tears and
sobbings. [93]

Ferdinand and Isabella raised him from the ground, and endeavored to
encourage him by the most gracious expressions. As soon as he regained
self-possession, he entered into an eloquent and high-minded vindication
of his loyalty, and the zeal he had ever felt for the glory and advantage
of the Spanish crown, declaring that if at any time he had erred, it had
been through inexperience in government, and the extraordinary
difficulties by which he had been surrounded.

There needed no vindication on his part. The intemperance of his enemies
had been his best advocate. He stood in presence of his sovereigns a
deeply-injured man, and it remained for them to vindicate themselves to
the world from the charge of ingratitude towards their most deserving
subject. They expressed their indignation at the proceedings of Bobadilla,
which they disavowed, as contrary to their instructions, and declared that
he should be immediately dismissed from his command.

In fact, no public notice was taken of the charges sent home by Bobadilla,
nor of the letters written in support of them. The sovereigns took every
occasion to treat Columbus with favor and distinction, assuring him that
his grievances should be redressed, his property restored, and he
reinstated in all his privileges and dignities.

It was on the latter point that Columbus was chiefly solicitous. Mercenary
considerations had scarcely any weight in his mind. Glory had been the
great object of his ambition, and he felt that, as long as he remained
suspended from his employments, a tacit censure rested on his name. He
expected, therefore, that the moment the sovereigns should be satisfied of
the rectitude of his conduct, they would be eager to make him amends; that
a restitution of his viceroyalty would immediately take place, and he
should return in triumph to San Domingo. Here, however, he was doomed to
experience a disappointment which threw a gloom over the remainder of his
days. To account for this flagrant want of justice and gratitude in the
crown, it is expedient to notice a variety of events which had materially
affected the interests of Columbus in the eyes of the politic Ferdinand.

Chapter II.

Contemporary Voyages of Discovery.

The general license granted by the Spanish sovereigns in 1495, to
undertake voyages of discovery, had given rise to various expeditions by
enterprising individuals, chiefly persons who had sailed with Columbus in
his first voyages. The government, unable to fit out many armaments
itself, was pleased to have its territories thus extended, free of cost,
and its treasury at the same time benefited by the share of the proceeds
of these voyages, reserved as a kind of duty to the crown. These
expeditions had chiefly taken place while Columbus was in partial disgrace
with the sovereigns. His own charts and journal served as guides to the
adventurers; and his magnificent accounts of Paria and the adjacent coasts
had chiefly excited their cupidity.

Beside the expedition of Ojeda, already noticed, in the course of which he
touched at Xaragua, one had been undertaken at the same time by Pedro
Alonzo Niño, native of Moguer, an able pilot, who had been with Columbus
in the voyages to Cuba and Paria. Having obtained a license, he interested
a rich merchant of Seville in the undertaking, who fitted out a caravel of
fifty tons burden, under condition that his brother Christoval Guevra
should have the command. They sailed from the bar of Saltes, a few days
after Ojeda had sailed from Cadiz, in the spring of 1499, and arriving on
the coast of Terra Firma, to the south of Paria, ran along it for some
distance, passed through the Gulf, and thence went one hundred and thirty
leagues along the shore of the present republic of Columbia, visiting what
was afterwards called the Pearl Coast. They landed in various places;
disposed of their European trifles to immense profit, and returned with a
large store of gold and pearls; having made, in their diminutive bark, one
of the most extensive and lucrative voyages yet accomplished.

About the same time, the Pinzons, that family of bold and opulent
navigators, fitted out an armament of four caravels at Palos, manned in a
great measure by their own relations and friends. Several experienced
pilots embarked in it who had been with Columbus to Paria, and it was
commanded by Vicente Yañez Pinzon, who had been captain of a caravel in
the squadron of the admiral on his first voyage.

Pinzon was a hardy and experienced seaman, and did not, like the others,
follow closely in the track of Columbus. Sailing in December, 1499, he
passed the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, standing southwest until he lost
sight of the polar star. Here he encountered a terrible storm, and was
exceedingly perplexed and confounded by the new aspect of the heavens.
Nothing was yet known of the southern hemisphere, nor of the beautiful
constellation of the cross, which in those regions has since supplied to
mariners the place of the north star. The voyagers had expected to find at
the south pole a star correspondent to that of the north. They were
dismayed at beholding no guide of the kind, and thought there must be some
prominent swelling of the earth, which hid the pole from their view.

Pinzon continued on, however, with great intrepidity. On the 26th of
January, 1500, he saw, at a distance, a great headland, which he called
Cape Santa Maria de la Consolacion, but which has since been named Cape
St. Augustine. He landed and took possession of the country in the name of
their catholic majesties; being a part of the territories since called the
Brazils. Standing thence westward, he discovered the Maragnon, since
called the River of the Amazons; traversed the Gulf of Paria, and
continued across the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, until he found
himself among the Bahamas, where he lost two of his vessels on the rocks,
near the island of Jumeto. He returned to Palos in September, having added
to his former glory that of being the first European who had crossed the
equinoctial line in the western ocean, and of having discovered the famous
kingdom of Brazil, from its commencement at the River Maragnon to its most
eastern point. As a reward for his achievements, power was granted to him
to colonize and govern the lands which he had discovered, and which
extended southward from a little beyond the River of Maragnon to Cape St.
Augustine. [95]

The little port of Palos, which had been so slow in furnishing the first
squadron for Columbus, was now continually agitated by the passion for
discovery. Shortly after the sailing of Pinzon, another expedition was
fitted out there, by Diego Lepe, a native of the place, and manned by his
adventurous townsmen. He sailed in the same direction with Pinzon; but
discovered more of the southern continent than any other voyager of the
day, or for twelve years afterwards. He doubled Cape St. Augustine, and
ascertained that the coast beyond ran to the southwest. He landed and
performed the usual ceremonies of taking possession in the name of the
Spanish sovereigns, and in one place carved their names on a magnificent
tree, of such enormous magnitude, that seventeen men with their hands
joined could not embrace the trunk. What enhanced the merit of his
discoveries was, that he had never sailed with Columbus. He had with him,
however, several skillful pilots, who had accompanied the admiral in his
voyage. [96]

Another expedition of two vessels sailed from Cadiz, in October, 1500,
under the command of Rodrigo Bastides of Seville. He explored the coast of
Terra Firma, passing Cape de la Vela, the western limits of the previous
discoveries on the main-land, continuing on to a port since called The
Retreat, where afterwards was founded the seaport of Nombre de Dios. His
vessels being nearly destroyed by the teredo, or worm which abounds in
those seas, he had great difficulty in reaching Xaragua in Hispaniola,
where he lost his two caravels, and proceeded with his crew by land to San
Domingo. Here he was seized and imprisoned by Bobadilla, under pretext
that he had treated for gold with the natives of Xaragua. [97]

Such was the swarm of Spanish expeditions immediately resulting from the
enterprises of Columbus; but others were also undertaken by foreign
nations. In the year 1497, Sebastian Cabot, son of a Venetian merchant
resident in Bristol, sailing in the service of Henry VII of England,
navigated to the northern seas of the New World. Adopting the idea of
Columbus, he sailed in quest of the shores of Cathay, and hoped to find a
northwest passage to India. In this voyage he discovered Newfoundland,
coasted Labrador to the fifty-sixth degree of north latitude, and then
returning, ran down southwest to the Floridas, when, his provisions
beginning to fail, he returned to England. [98] But vague and scanty
accounts of this voyage exist, which was important as including the first
discovery of the northern continent of the New World.

The discoveries of rival nations, however, which most excited the
attention and jealousy of the Spanish crown, were those of the Portuguese.
Vasco de Gama, a man of rank and consummate talent and intrepidity, had,
at length, accomplished the great design of the late Prince Henry of
Portugal, and by doubling the Cape of Good Hope, in the year 1497, had
opened the long-sought-for route to India.

Immediately after Gama's return, a fleet of thirteen sail was fitted out
to visit the magnificent countries of which he brought accounts. This
expedition sailed on the 9th of March, 1500, for Calicut, under the
command of Pedro Alvarez de Cabral. Having passed the Cape de Verde
Islands, he sought to avoid the calms prevalent on the coast of Guinea, by
stretching far to the west. Suddenly, on the 25th of April, he came in
sight of land unknown to any one in his squadron; for, as yet, they had
not heard of the discoveries of Pinzon and Lepe. He at first supposed it
to be some great island; but after coasting it for some time, he became
persuaded that it must be part of a continent. Having ranged along it
somewhat beyond the fifteenth degree of southern latitude, he landed at a
harbor which he called Porto Securo, and taking possession of the country
for the crown of Portugal, dispatched a ship to Lisbon with the important
tidings. [99] In this way did the Brazils come into the possession of
Portugal, being to the eastward of the conventional line settled with
Spain as the boundaries of their respective territories. Dr. Robertson,
in recording this voyage of Cabral, concludes with one of his just and
elegant remarks.

"Columbus's discovery of the New World was," he observes, "the effort of
an active genius, guided by experience, and acting upon a regular plan,
executed with no less courage than perseverance. But from this adventure
of the Portuguese, it appears that chance might have accomplished that
great design, which it is now the pride of human reason to have formed and
perfected. If the sagacity of Columbus had not conducted mankind to
America, Cabral, by a fortunate accident, might have led them, a few years
later, to the knowledge of that extensive continent." [100]

Chapter III.

Nicholas de Ovando Appointed to Supersede Bobadilla.


The numerous discoveries briefly noticed in the preceding chapter had
produced a powerful effect upon the mind of Ferdinand. His ambition, his
avarice, and his jealousy were equally inflamed. He beheld boundless
regions, teeming with all kinds of riches, daily opening before the
enterprises of his subjects; but he beheld at the same time other nations
launching forth into competition, emulous for a share of the golden world
which he was eager to monopolize. The expeditions of the English, and the
accidental discovery of the Brazils by the Portuguese, caused him much
uneasiness. To secure his possession of the continent, he determined to
establish local governments or commands, in the most important places, all
to be subject to a general government, established at San Domingo, which
was to be the metropolis.

With these considerations, the government, heretofore granted to Columbus,
had risen vastly in importance; and while the restitution of it was the
more desirable in his eyes, it became more and more a matter of repugnance
to the selfish and jealous monarch. He had long repented having vested
such great powers and prerogatives in any subject, particularly in a
foreigner. At the time of granting them, he had no anticipation of such
boundless countries to be placed under his command. He appeared almost to
consider himself outwitted by Columbus in the arrangement; and every
succeeding discovery, instead of increasing his grateful sense of the
obligation, only made him repine the more at the growing magnitude of the
reward. At length, however, the affair of Bobadilla had effected a
temporary exclusion of Columbus from his--high office, and that without
any odium to the crown, and the wary monarch, secretly determined that the
door thus closed between him and his dignities should never again be

Perhaps Ferdinand may really have entertained doubts as to the innocence
of Columbus, with respect to the various charges made against him. He may
have doubted also the sincerity of his loyalty, being a stranger, when he
should find himself strong in his command, at a great distance from the
parent country, with immense and opulent regions under his control.
Columbus, himself, in his letters, alludes to reports circulated by his
enemies, that he intended either to set up an independent sovereignty, or
to deliver his discoveries into the hands of other potentates; and he
appears to fear that these slanders might have made some impression on the
mind of Ferdinand. But there was one other consideration which had no less
force with the monarch in withholding this great act of justice--Columbus
was no longer indispensable to him. He had made his great discovery; he
had struck out the route to the New World, and now any one could follow
it. A number of able navigators had sprung up under his auspices, and
acquired experience in his voyages. They were daily besieging the throne
with offers to fit out expeditions at their own cost, and to yield a share
of the profits to the crown. Why should he, therefore, confer princely
dignities and prerogatives for that which men were daily offering to
perform gratuitously?

Such, from his after conduct, appears to have been the jealous and selfish
policy which actuated Ferdinand in forbearing to reinstate Columbus in
those dignities and privileges so solemnly granted to him by treaty, and
which it was acknowledged he had never forfeited by misconduct.

This deprivation, however, was declared to be but temporary; and plausible
reasons were given for the delay in his reappointment. It was observed
that the elements of those violent factions, recently in arms against him,
yet existed in the island; his immediate return might produce fresh
exasperation; his personal safety might be endangered, and the island
again thrown into confusion. Though Bobadilla, therefore, was to be
immediately dismissed from command, it was deemed advisable to send out
some officer of talent and discretion to supersede him, who might
dispassionately investigate the recent disorders, remedy the abuses which
had arisen, and expel all dissolute and factious persons from the colony.
He should hold the government for two years, by which time it was trusted
that all angry passions would be allayed, and turbulent individuals
removed: Columbus might then resume the command with comfort to himself
and advantage to the crown. With these reasons, and the promise which
accompanied them, Columbus was obliged to content himself. There can be no
doubt that they were sincere on the part of Isabella, and that it was her
intention to reinstate him in the full enjoyment of his rights and
dignities, after his apparently necessary suspension. Ferdinand, however,
by his subsequent conduct, has forfeited all claim to any favorable
opinion of the kind.

The person chosen to supersede Bobadilla was Don Nicholas de Ovando,
commander of Lares, of the order of Alcantara. He is described as of the
middle size, fair complexioned, with a red beard, and a modest look, yet a
tone of authority. He was fluent in speech, and gracious and courteous in
his manners. A man of great prudence, says Las Casas, and capable of
governing many people, but not of governing the Indians, on whom he
inflicted incalculable injuries. He possessed great veneration for
justice, was an enemy to avarice, sober in his mode of living, and of such
humility, that when he rose afterwards to be grand commander of the order
of Alcantara, he would never allow himself to be addressed by the title of
respect attached to it. [101] Such is the picture drawn of him by
historians; but his conduct in several important instances is in direct
contradiction to it. He appears to have been plausible and subtle, as well
as fluent and courteous; his humility concealed a great love of command,
and in his transactions with Columbus he was certainly both ungenerous and

The various arrangements to be made, according to the new plan of colonial
government, delayed for some time the departure of Ovando. In the
meantime, every arrival brought intelligence of the disastrous state of
the island, under the mal-administration of Bobadilla. He had commenced
his career by an opposite policy to that of Columbus. Imagining that
rigorous rule had been the rock on which his predecessors had split, he
sought to conciliate the public by all kinds of indulgence. Having at the
very outset relaxed the reins of justice and morality, he lost all command
over the community; and such disorder and licentiousness ensued, that
many, even of the opponents of Columbus, looked back with regret upon the
strict but wholesome rule of himself and the Adelantado.

Bobadilla was not so much a bad as an imprudent and a weak man. He had not
considered the dangerous excesses to which his policy would lead. Rash in
grasping authority, he was feeble and temporizing in the exercise of it:
he could not look beyond the present exigency. One dangerous indulgence
granted to the colonists called for another; each was ceded in its turn,
and thus he went on from error to error,--showing that in government there
is as much danger to be apprehended from a weak as from a bad man.

He had sold the farms and estates of the crown at low prices, observing
that it was not the wish of the monarchs to enrich themselves by them, but
that they should redound to the profit of their subjects. He granted
universal permission to work the mines, exacting only an eleventh of the
produce for the crown. To prevent any diminution in the revenue, it became
necessary, of course, to increase the quantity of gold collected. He
obliged the caciques, therefore, to furnish each Spaniard with Indians, to
assist him both in the labors of the field and of the mine. To carry this
into more complete effect, he made an enumeration of the natives of the
island, reduced them into classes, and distributed them, according to his
favor or caprice, among the colonists. The latter, at his suggestion,
associated themselves in partnerships of two persons each, who were to
assist one another with their respective capitals and Indians, one
superintending the labors of the field, and the other the search for gold.
The only injunction of Bobadilla was, to produce large quantities of ore.
He had one saying continually in his mouth, which shows the pernicious and
temporizing principle upon which he acted: "Make the most of your time,"
he would say, "there is no knowing how long it will last," alluding to the
possibility of his being speedily recalled. The colonists acted up to his
advice, and so hard did they drive the poor natives, that the eleventh
yielded more revenue to the crown than had ever been produced by the third
under the government of Columbus. In the meantime, the unhappy natives
suffered under all kinds of cruelties from their inhuman taskmasters.
Little used to labor, feeble of constitution, and accustomed in their
beautiful and luxuriant island to a life of ease and freedom, they sank
under the toils imposed upon them, and the severities by which they were
enforced. Las Casas gives an indignant picture of the capricious tyranny
exercised over the Indians by worthless Spaniards, many of whom had been
transported convicts from the dungeons of Castile. These wretches, who in
their own countries had been the vilest among the vile, here assumed the
tone of grand cavaliers. They insisted upon being attended by trains of
servants. They took the daughters and female relations of caciques for
their domestics, or rather for their concubines, nor did they limit
themselves in number. When they traveled, instead of using the horses and
mules with which they were provided, they obliged the natives to transport
them upon their shoulders in litters, or hammocks, with others attending
to hold umbrellas of palm-leaves over their heads to keep off the sun, and
fans of feathers to cool them; and Las Casas affirms that he has seen the
backs and shoulders of the unfortunate Indians who bore these litters raw
and bleeding from the task. When these arrogant upstarts arrived at an
Indian village, they consumed and lavished away the provisions of the
inhabitants, seizing upon whatever pleased their caprice, and obliging the
cacique and his subjects to dance before them for their amusement. Their
very pleasures were attended with cruelty. They never addressed the
natives but in the most degrading terms, and on the least offence, or the
least freak of ill-humor, inflicted blows and lashes, and even death
itself. [102]

Such is but a faint picture of the evils which sprang up under the feeble
rule of Bobadilla; and are sorrowfully described by Las Casas, from actual
observation, as he visited the island just at the close of his
administration. Bobadilla had trusted to the immense amount of gold, wrung
from the miseries of the natives, to atone for all errors, and secure
favor with the sovereigns; but he had totally mistaken his course. The
abuses of his government soon reached the royal ear, and above all, the
wrongs of the natives reached the benevolent heart of Isabella. Nothing
was more calculated to arouse her indignation, and she urged the speedy
departure of Ovando, to put a stop to these enormities.

In conformity to the plan already mentioned, the government of Ovando
extended over the islands and Terra Firma, of which Hispaniola was to be
the metropolis. He was to enter upon the exercise of his powers
immediately upon his arrival, by procuration, sending home Bobadilla by
the return of the fleet. He was instructed to inquire diligently into the
late abuses, punishing the delinquents without favor or partiality, and
removing all worthless persons from the island. He was to revoke
immediately the license granted by Bobadilla for the general search after
gold, it having been given without royal authority. He was to require, for
the crown, a third of what was already collected, and one half of all that
should be collected in future. He was empowered to build towns, granting
them the privileges enjoyed by municipal corporations of Spain, and
obliging the Spaniards, and particularly the soldiers, to reside in them,
instead of scattering themselves over the island. Among many sage
provisions, there were others injurious and illiberal, characteristic of
an age when the principles of commerce were but little understood; but
which were continued by Spain long after the rest of the world had
discarded them as the errors of dark and unenlightened times. The crown
monopolized the trade of the colonies. No one could carry merchandises
there on his own account. A royal factor was appointed, through whom alone
were to be obtained supplies of European articles. The crown reserved to
itself not only exclusive property in the mines, but in precious stones,
and like objects of extraordinary value, and also in dyewoods. No
strangers, and above all, no Moors nor Jews, were permitted to establish
themselves in the island, nor to go upon voyages of discovery. Such were
some of the restrictions upon trade which Spain imposed upon her colonies,
and which were followed up by others equally illiberal. Her commercial
policy has been the scoff of modern times; but may not the present
restrictions on trade, imposed by the most intelligent nations, be equally
the wonder and the jest of future ages?

Isabella was particularly careful in providing for the kind treatment of
the Indians. Ovando was ordered to assemble the caciques, and declare to
them, that the sovereigns took them and their people under their especial
protection. They were merely to pay tribute like other subjects of the
crown, and it was to be collected with the utmost mildness and gentleness.
Great pains were to be taken in their religious instruction; for which
purpose twelve Franciscan friars were sent out, with a prelate named
Antonio de Espinal, a venerable and pious man. This was the first formal
introduction of the Franciscan order into the New World. [103]

All these precautions with respect to the natives were defeated by one
unwary provision. It was permitted that the Indians might be compelled to
work in the mines, and in other employments; but this was limited to the
royal service. They were to be engaged as hired laborers, and punctually
paid. This provision led to great abuses and oppressions, and was
ultimately as fatal to the natives as could have been the most absolute

But, with that inconsistency frequent in human conduct, while the
sovereigns were making regulations for the relief of the Indians, they
encouraged a gross invasion of the rights and welfare of another race of
human beings. Among their various decrees on this occasion, we find the
first trace of negro slavery in the New World. It was permitted to carry
to the colony negro slaves born among Christians; [104] that is to say,
slaves born in Seville and other parts of Spain, the children and
descendants of natives brought from the Atlantic coast of Africa, where
such traffic had for some time been carried on by the Spaniards and
Portuguese. There are signal events in the course of history, which
sometimes bear the appearance of temporal judgments. It is a fact worthy
of observation, that Hispaniola, the place where this flagrant sin against
nature and humanity was first introduced into the New World, has been the
first to exhibit an awful retribution.

Amidst the various concerns which claimed the attention of the sovereigns,
the interests of Columbus were not forgotten. Ovando was ordered to
examine into all his accounts, without undertaking to pay them off. He was
to ascertain the damages he had sustained by his imprisonment, the
interruption of his privileges, and the confiscation of his effects. All
the property confiscated by Bobadilla was to be restored; or if it had
been sold, to be made good. If it had been employed in the royal service,
Columbus was to be indemnified out of the treasury; if Bobadilla had
appropriated it to his own use, he was to account for it out of his
private purse. Equal care was to be taken to indemnify the brothers of the
admiral for the losses they had wrongfully suffered by their arrest.

Columbus was likewise to receive the arrears of his revenues; and the same
were to be punctually paid to him in future. He was permitted to have a
factor resident in the island, to be present at the melting and marking of
the gold, to collect his dues, and in short to attend to all his affairs.
To this office he appointed Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal; and the sovereigns
commanded that his agent should be treated with great respect.

The fleet appointed to convey Ovando to his government was the largest
that had yet sailed to the New World. It consisted of thirty sail, five of
them from ninety to one hundred and fifty tons burden, twenty-four
caravels from thirty to ninety, and one bark of twenty-five tons. [105]
The number of souls embarked in this fleet was about twenty-five hundred;
many of them persons of rank and distinction, with their families.

That Ovando might appear with dignity in his new office, he was allowed to
use silks, brocades, precious stones, and other articles of sumptuous
attire, prohibited at that time in Spain, in consequence of the ruinous
ostentation of the nobility. He was permitted to have seventy-two
esquires, as his body-guard, ten of whom were horsemen. With this
expedition sailed Don Alonzo Maldonado, appointed as alguazil mayor, or
chief justice, in place of Roldan, who was to be sent to Spain. There were
artisans of various kinds: to these were added a physician, surgeon, and
apothecary; and seventy-three married men [106] with their families, all
of respectable character, destined to be distributed in four towns, and to
enjoy peculiar privileges, that they might form the basis of a sound and
useful population. They were to displace an equal number of the idle and
dissolute who were to be sent from the island: this excellent measure had
been especially urged and entreated by Columbus. There was also
live-stock, artillery, arms, munitions of all kinds; every thing, in
short, that was required for the supply of the island.

Such was the style in which Ovando, a favorite of Ferdinand, and a native
subject of rank, was fitted out to enter upon the government withheld from
Columbus. The fleet put to sea on the thirteenth of February, 1502. In the
early part of the voyage it was encountered by a terrible storm; one of
the ships foundered, with one hundred and twenty passengers; the others
were obliged to throw overboard every thing on deck, and were completely
scattered. The shores of Spain were strewed with articles from the fleet,
and a rumor spread that all the ships had perished. When this reached the
sovereigns, they were so overcome with grief that they shut themselves up
for eight days, and admitted no one to their presence. The rumor proved to
be incorrect: but one ship was lost. The others assembled again at the
island of Gomera in the Canaries, and, pursuing their voyage, arrived at
San Domingo on the 15th of April. [107]

Chapter IV.

Proposition of Columbus Relative to the Recovery of the Holy Sepulchre.


Columbus remained in the city of Granada upwards of nine months,
endeavoring to extricate his affairs from the confusion into which they
had been thrown by the rash conduct of Bobadilla, and soliciting the
restoration of his offices and dignities. During this time he constantly
experienced the smiles and attentions of the sovereigns, and promises were
repeatedly made him that he should ultimately be reinstated in all his
honors. He had long since, however, ascertained the great interval that
may exist between promise and performance in a court. Had he been of a
morbid and repining spirit, he had ample food for misanthropy. He beheld
the career of glory which he had opened, thronged by favored adventurers;
he witnessed preparations making to convey with unusual pomp a successor
to that government from which he had been so wrongfully and rudely
ejected; in the meanwhile his own career was interrupted, and as far as
public employ is a gauge of royal favor, he remained apparently in

His sanguine temperament was not long to be depressed; if checked in one
direction it broke forth in another. His visionary imagination was an
internal light, which, in the darkest times, repelled all outward gloom,
and filled his mind with splendid images and glorious speculations. In
this time of evil, his vow to furnish, within seven years from the time of
his discovery, fifty thousand foot-soldiers, and five thousand horse, for
the recovery of the holy sepulchre, recurred to his memory with peculiar
force. The time had elapsed, but the vow remained unfulfilled, and the
means to perform it had failed him. The New World, with all its treasures,
had as yet produced expense instead of profit; and so far from being in a
situation to set armies on foot by his own contributions, he found himself
without property, without power, and without employ.

Destitute of the means of accomplishing his pious intentions, he
considered it his duty to incite the sovereigns to the enterprise; and he
felt emboldened to do so, from having originally proposed it as the great
object to which the profits of his discoveries should be dedicated. He set
to work, therefore, with his accustomed zeal, to prepare arguments for the
purpose. During the intervals of business, he sought into the prophecies
of the holy Scriptures, the writings of the fathers, and all kinds of
sacred and speculative sources, for mystic portents and revelations which
might be construed to bear upon the discovery of the New World, the
conversion of the Gentiles, and the recovery of the holy sepulchre: three
great events which he supposed to be predestined to succeed each other.
These passages, with the assistance of a Carthusian friar, he arranged in
order, illustrated by poetry, and collected into a manuscript volume, to
be delivered to the sovereigns. He prepared, at the same time, a long
letter, written with his usual fervor of spirit and simplicity of heart.
It is one of those singular compositions which lay open the visionary part
of his character, and show the mystic and speculative reading with which
he was accustomed to nurture his solemn and soaring imagination.

In this letter he urged the sovereigns to set on foot a crusade for the
deliverance of Jerusalem from the power of the unbelievers. He entreated
them not to reject his present advice as extravagant and impracticable,
nor to heed the discredit that might be cast upon it by others; reminding
them that his great scheme of discovery had originally been treated with
similar contempt. He avowed in the fullest manner his persuasion, that,
from his earliest infancy, he had been chosen by Heaven for the
accomplishment of those two great designs, the discovery of the New World,
and the rescue of the holy sepulchre. For this purpose, in his tender
years, he had been guided by a divine impulse to embrace the profession of
the sea, a mode of life, he observes, which produces an inclination to
inquire into the mysteries of nature; and he had been gifted with a
curious spirit, to read all kinds of chronicles, geographical treatises,
and works of philosophy. In meditating upon these, his understanding had
been opened by the Deity, "as with a palpable hand," so as to discover the
navigation to the Indies, and he had been inflamed with ardor to undertake
the enterprise. "Animated as by a heavenly fire," he adds, "I came to your
highnesses: all who heard of my enterprise mocked at it; all the sciences
I had acquired profited me nothing; seven years did I pass in your royal
court, disputing the case with persons of great authority and learned in
all the arts, and in the end they decided that all was vain. In your
highnesses alone remained faith and constancy. Who will doubt that this
light was from the holy Scriptures, illumining you as well as myself with
rays of marvelous brightness?"

These ideas, so repeatedly, and solemnly, and artlessly expressed, by a
man of the fervent piety of Columbus, show how truly his discovery arose
from the working of his own mind, and not from information furnished by
others. He considered it a divine intimation, a light from Heaven, and the
fulfillment of what had been fortold by our Saviour and the prophets.
Still he regarded it but as a minor event, preparatory to the great
enterprise, the recovery of the holy sepulchre. He pronounced it a miracle
effected by Heaven, to animate himself and others to that holy
undertaking; and he assured the sovereigns that, if they had faith in his
present as in his former proposition, they would assuredly be rewarded
with equally triumphant success. He conjured them not to heed the sneers
of such as might scoff at him as one unlearned, as an ignorant mariner, a
worldly man; reminding them that the Holy Spirit works not merely in the
learned, but also in the ignorant; nay, that it reveals things to come,
not merely by rational beings, but by prodigies in animals, and by mystic
signs in the air and in the heavens.

The enterprise here suggested by Columbus, however idle and extravagant it
may appear in the present day, was in unison with the temper of the times,
and of the court to which it was proposed. The vein of mystic erudition by
which it was enforced, likewise, was suited to an age when the reveries of
the cloister still controlled the operations of the cabinet and the camp.
The spirit of the crusades had not yet passed away. In the cause of the
church, and at the instigation of its dignitaries, every cavalier was
ready to draw his sword; and religion mingled a glowing and devoted
enthusiasm with the ordinary excitement of warfare. Ferdinand was a
religious bigot; and the devotion of Isabella went as near to bigotry as
her liberal mind and magnanimous spirit would permit. Both the sovereigns
were under the influence of ecclesiastical politicians, constantly guiding
their enterprises in a direction to redound to the temporal power and
glory of the church. The recent conquest of Granada had been considered a
European crusade, and had gained to the sovereigns the epithet of
Catholic. It was natural to think of extending their sacred victories
still further, and retaliating upon the infidels their domination of Spain
and their long triumphs over the cross. In fact, the Duke of Medina
Sidonia had made a recent inroad into Barbary, in the course of which he
had taken the city of Melilla, and his expedition had been pronounced a
renewal of the holy wars against the infidels in Africa. [108]

There was nothing, therefore, in the proposition of Columbus that could be
regarded as preposterous, considering the period and circumstances in
which it was made, though it strongly illustrates his own enthusiastic and
visionary character. It must be recollected that it was meditated in the
courts of the Alhambra, among the splendid remains of Moorish grandeur,
where, but a few years before, he had beheld the standard of the faith
elevated in triumph above the symbols of infidelity. It appears to have
been the offspring of one of those moods of high excitement, when, as has
been observed, his soul was elevated by the contemplation of his great and
glorious office; when he considered himself under divine inspiration,
imparting the will of Heaven, and fulfilling the high and holy purposes
for which he had been predestined. [109]

Chapter V.

Preparations of Columbus for a Fourth Voyage of Discovery.


The speculation relative to the recovery of the holy sepulchre held but a
temporary sway over the mind of Columbus. His thoughts soon returned, with
renewed ardor, to their wonted channel. He became impatient of inaction,
and soon conceived a leading object for another enterprise of discovery.
The achievement of Vasco de Gama, of the long-attempted navigation to
India by the Cape of Good Hope, was one of the signal events of the day.
Pedro Alvarez Cabral, following in his track, had made a most successful
voyage, and returned with his vessels laden with the precious commodities
of the East. The riches of Calicut were now the theme of every tongue, and
the splendid trade now opened in diamonds and precious stones from the
mines of Hindostan; in pearls, gold, silver, amber, ivory, and porcelain;
in silken stuffs, costly woods, gums, aromatics, and spices of all kinds.
The discoveries of the savage regions of the New World, as yet, brought
little revenue to Spain; but this route, suddenly opened to the luxurious
countries of the East, was pouring immediate wealth into Portugal.

Columbus was roused to emulation by these accounts. He now conceived the
idea of a voyage, in which, with his usual enthusiasm, he hoped to surpass
not merely the discovery of Vasco de Gama, but even those of his own
previous expeditions. According to his own observations in his voyage to
Paria, and the reports of other navigators, who had pursued the same route
to a greater distance, it appeared that the coast of Terra Firma stretched
far to the west. The southern coast of Cuba, which he considered a part of
the Asiatic continent, stretched onwards towards the same point. The
currents of the Caribbean sea must pass between those lands. He was
persuaded, therefore, that there must be a strait existing somewhere
thereabout, opening into the Indian sea. The situation in which he placed
his conjectural strait, was somewhere about what at present is called the
Isthmus of Darien. [110] Could he but discover such a passage, and thus
link the New world he had discovered with the opulent oriental regions of
the old, he felt that he should make a magnificent close to his labors,
and consummate this great object of his existence.

When he unfolded his plan to the sovereigns, it was listened to with great
attention. Certain of the royal council, it is said, endeavored to throw
difficulties in the way; observing that the various exigencies of the
times, and the low state of the royal treasury, rendered any new
expedition highly inexpedient. They intimated also that Columbus ought not
to be employed, until his good conduct in Hispaniola was satisfactorily
established by letters from Ovando. These narrow-minded suggestions failed
in their aim: Isabella had implicit confidence in the integrity of
Columbus. As to the expense, she felt that while furnishing so powerful a
fleet and splendid retinue to Ovando, to take possession of his
government, it would be ungenerous and ungrateful to refuse a few ships to
the discoverer of the New World, to enable him to prosecute his
illustrious enterprises. As to Ferdinand, his cupidity was roused at the
idea of being soon put in possession of a more direct and safe route to
those countries with which the crown of Portugal was opening so lucrative
a trade. The project also would occupy the admiral for a considerable
time, and, while it diverted him from claims of an inconvenient nature,
would employ his talents in a way most beneficial to the crown. However
the king might doubt his abilities as a legislator, he had the highest
opinion of his skill and judgment as a navigator. If such a strait as the
one supposed were really in existence, Columbus vas, of all men in the
world, the one to discover it. His proposition, therefore, was promptly
acceded to; he was authorized to fit out an armament immediately; and
repaired to Seville in the autumn of 1501, to make the necessary

Though this substantial enterprise diverted his attention from his
romantic expedition for the recovery of the holy sepulchre, it still
continued to haunt his mind. He left his manuscript collection of
researches among the prophecies in the hands of a devout friar of the name
of Gaspar Gorricio, who assisted to complete it. In February, also, he
wrote a letter to Pope Alexander VII, in which he apologizes, on account
of indispensable occupations, for not having repaired to Rome, according
to his original intention, to give an account of his grand discoveries.
After briefly relating them, he adds that his enterprises had been
undertaken with intent of dedicating the gains to the recovery of the holy
sepulchre. He mentions his vow to furnish, within seven years, fifty
thousand foot and five thousand horse for the purpose, and another of like
force within five succeeding years. This pious intention, he laments, had
been impeded by the arts of the devil, and he feared, without divine aid,
would be entirely frustrated, as the government which had been granted to
him in perpetuity had been taken from him. He informs his Holiness of his
being about to embark on another voyage, and promises solemnly, on his
return, to repair to Rome without delay, to relate everything by word of
mouth, as well as to present him with an account of his voyages, which he
had kept from the commencement to the present time, in the style of the
Commentaries of Caesar. [111]

It was about this time, also, that he sent his letter on the subject of
the sepulchre to the sovereigns, together with the collection of
prophecies. [112] We have no account of the manner in which the
proposition was received. Ferdinand, with all his bigotry, was a shrewd
and worldly prince. Instead of a chivalrous crusade against Jerusalem,
he preferred making a pacific arrangement with the Grand Soldan of Egypt,
who had menaced the destruction of the sacred edifice. He dispatched,
therefore, the learned Peter Martyr, so distinguished for his historical
writings, as ambassador to the Soldan, by whom all ancient grievances
between the two powers were satisfactorily adjusted, and arrangements
made for the conservation of the holy sepulchre, and the protection of
all Christian pilgrims resorting to it.

In the meantime Columbus went on with the preparations for his
contemplated voyage, though but slowly, owing, as Charlevoix intimates, to
the artifices and delays of Fonseca and his agents. He craved permission
to touch at the island of Hispaniola for supplies on his outward voyage.
This, however, the sovereigns forbade, knowing that he had many enemies in
the island, and that the place would be in great agitation from the
arrival of Ovando, and the removal of Bobadilla. They consented, however,
that he should touch there briefly on his return, by which time they hoped
the island would be restored to tranquillity. He was permitted to take
with him, in this expedition, his brother the Adelantado, and his son
Fernando, then in his fourteenth year; also two or three persons learned
in Arabic, to serve as interpreters, in case he should arrive at the
dominions of the Grand Khan, or of any other Eastern prince where that
language might be spoken, or partially known. In reply to letters relative
to the ultimate restoration of his rights, and to matters concerning his
family, the sovereigns wrote him a letter, dated March 14, 1502, from
Valencia de Torre, in which they again solemnly assured him that their
capitulations with him should be fulfilled to the letter, and the
dignities therein ceded enjoyed by him, and his children after him; and if
it should be necessary to confirm them anew, they would do so, and secure
them to his son. Beside which, they expressed their disposition to bestow
further honors and rewards upon himself, his brothers, and his children.
They entreated him, therefore, to depart in peace and confidence, and to
leave all his concerns in Spain to the management of his son Diego.

This was the last letter that Columbus received from the sovereigns, and
the assurances it contained were as ample and absolute as he could desire.
Recent circumstances, however, had apparently rendered him dubious of the
future. During the time that he passed in Seville, previous to his
departure, he took measures to secure his fame, and preserve the claims of
his family, by placing them under the guardianship of his native country.
He had copies of all the letters, grants, and privileges from the
sovereigns, appointing him admiral, viceroy, and governor of the Indies,
copied and authenticated before the alcaldes of Seville. Two sets of these
were transcribed, together with his letter to the nurse of Prince Juan,
containing a circumstantial and eloquent vindication of his rights; and
two letters to the Bank of St. George, at Genoa, assigning to it the tenth
of his revenues, to be employed in diminishing the duties on corn and
other provisions;--a truly benevolent and patriotic donation, intended for
the relief of the poor of his native city. These two sets of documents he
sent by different individuals to his friend, Doctor Nicolo Oderigo,
formerly ambassador from Genoa to the court of Spain, requesting him to
preserve them in some safe deposit, and to apprise his son Diego of the
same. His dissatisfaction at the conduct of the Spanish court may have
been the cause of this precautionary measure, that an appeal to the world,
or to posterity, might be in the power of his descendants, in case he
should perish in the course of his voyage. [114]

Book XV.

Chapter I.

Departure of Columbus on His Fourth Voyage.--Refused Admission to the
Harbor of San Domingo.--Exposed to a Violent Tempest.


Age was rapidly making its advances upon Columbus when he undertook his
fourth and last voyage of discovery. He had already numbered sixty-six
years, and they were years filled with care and trouble, in which age
outstrips the march of time. His constitution, originally vigorous in the
extreme, had been impaired by hardships and exposures in every clime, and
silently preyed upon by the sufferings of the mind. His frame, once
powerful and commanding, and retaining a semblance of strength and majesty
even in its decay, was yet crazed by infirmities and subject to paroxysms
of excruciating pain. His intellectual forces alone retained their wonted
health and energy, prompting him, at a period of life when most men seek
repose, to sally forth with youthful ardor, on the most toilsome and
adventurous of expeditions.

His squadron for the present voyage consisted of four caravels, the
smallest of fifty tons burden, the largest not exceeding seventy, and the
crews amounting in all to one hundred and fifty men. With this little
armament and these slender barks did the venerable discoverer undertake
the search after a strait, which, if found, must conduct him into the most
remote seas, and lead to a complete circumnavigation of the globe.

In this arduous voyage, however, he had a faithful counselor, and an
intrepid and vigorous coadjutor, in his brother Don Bartholomew, while his
younger son Fernando cheered him with his affectionate sympathy. He had
learnt to appreciate such comforts, from being too often an isolated
stranger, surrounded by false friends and perfidious enemies.

The squadron sailed from Cadiz on the 9th of May, and passed over to
Ercilla, on the coast of Morocco, where it anchored on the 13th.
Understanding that the Portuguese garrison was closely besieged in the
fortress by the Moors, and exposed to great peril, Columbus was ordered to
touch there, and render all the assistance in his power. Before his
arrival the siege had been raised, but the governor lay ill, having been
wounded in an assault. Columbus sent his brother, the Adelantado, his son
Fernando, and the captains of the caravels on shore, to wait upon the
governor, with expressions of friendship and civility, and offers of the
services of his squadron. Their visit and message gave high satisfaction,
and several cavaliers were sent to wait upon the admiral in return, some
of whom were relatives of his deceased wife, Doña Felippa Muñoz. After
this exchange of civilities, the admiral made sail on the same day, and
continued his voyage. [115] On the 25th of May, he arrived at the Grand
Canary, and remained at that and the adjacent islands for a few days,
taking in wood and water. On the evening of the 25th, he took his
departure for the New World. The trade winds were so favorable, that the
little squadron swept gently on its course, without shifting a sail, and
arrived on the 15th of June at one of the Caribbee Islands, called by the
natives Mantinino. [116] After stopping here for three days, to take in
wood and water, and allow the seamen time to wash their clothes, the
squadron passed to the west of the island, and sailed to Dominica, about
ten leagues distant. [117] Columbus continued hence along the inside of
the Antilles, to Santa Cruz, then along the south side of Porto Rico, and
steered for San Domingo. This was contrary to the original plan of the
admiral, who had intended to steer to Jamaica, [118] and thence to take a
departure for the continent, and explore its coasts in search of the
supposed strait. It was contrary to the orders of the sovereigns also,
prohibiting him on his outward voyage to touch at Hispaniola. His excuse
was, that his principal vessel sailed extremely ill, could not carry any
canvas, and continually embarrassed and delayed the rest of the
squadron. [119] He wished, therefore, to exchange it for one of the
fleet which had recently conveyed Ovando to his government, or to
purchase some other vessel at San Domingo; and he was persuaded that he
would not be blamed for departing from his orders, in a case of such
importance to the safety and success of his expedition.

It is necessary to state the situation of the island at this moment.
Ovando had reached San Domingo on the 15th of April. He had been received
with the accustomed ceremony on the shore, by Bobadilla, accompanied by
the principal inhabitants of the town. He was escorted to the fortress,
where his commission was read in form, in presence of all the authorities.
The usual oaths were taken, and ceremonials observed; and the new governor
was hailed with great demonstrations of obedience and satisfaction. Ovando
entered upon the duties of his office with coolness and prudence; and
treated Bobadilla with a courtesy totally opposite to the rudeness with
which the latter had superseded Columbus. The emptiness of mere official
rank, when unsustained by merit, was shown in the case of Bobadilla. The
moment his authority was at an end, all his importance vanished. He found
himself a solitary and neglected man, deserted by those whom he had most
favored, and he experienced the worthlessness of the popularity gained by
courting the prejudices and passions of the multitude. Still there is no
record of any suit having been instituted against him; and Las Casas, who
was on the spot, declares that he never heard any harsh thing spoken of
him by the colonists. [120]

The conduct of Roldan and his accomplices, however, underwent a strict
investigation, and many were arrested to be sent to Spain for trial. They
appeared undismayed, trusting to the influence of their friends in Spain
to protect them, and many relying on the well-known disposition of the
Bishop of Fonseca to favor all who had been opposed to Columbus.

The fleet which had brought out Ovando was now ready for sea; and was to
take out a number of the principal delinquents, and many of the idlers and
profligates of the island. Bobadilla was to embark in the principal ship,
on board of which he put an immense amount of gold, the revenue collected
for the crown during his government, and which he confidently expected
would atone for all his faults. There was one solid mass of virgin gold on
board of this ship, which is famous in the old Spanish chronicles. It had
been found by a female Indian in a brook, on the estate of Francisco de
Garay and Miguel Diaz, and had been taken by Bobadilla to send to the
king, making the owners a suitable compensation. It was said to weigh
three thousand six hundred castellanos. [121]

Large quantities of gold were likewise shipped in the fleet, by the
followers of Roldan, and other adventurers; the wealth gained by the
sufferings of the unhappy natives. Among the various persons who were to
sail in the principal ship, was the unfortunate Guarionex, the once
powerful cacique of the Vega. He had been confined in Fort Conception,
ever since his capture after the war of Higuey, and was now to be sent a
captive in chains to Spain. In one of the ships, Alonzo Sanchez de
Carvajal, the agent of Columbus, had put four thousand pieces of gold, to
be remitted to him; being part of his property, either recently collected,
or recovered from the hands of Bobadilla. [122]

The preparations were all made, and the fleet was ready to put to sea,
when, on the 29th of June, the squadron of Columbus arrived at the mouth
of the river. He immediately sent Pedro de Terreros, captain of one of the
caravels, on shore, to wait on Ovando, and explain to him that the purpose
of his coming was to procure a vessel in exchange for one of his caravels,
which was extremely defective. He requested permission also to shelter his
squadron in the harbor; as he apprehended, from various indications, an
approaching storm. This request was refused by Ovando. Las Casas thinks it
probable that he had instructions from the sovereigns not to admit
Columbus, and that he was further swayed by prudent considerations, as San
Domingo was at that moment crowded with the most virulent enemies of the
admiral, many of them in a high state of exasperation, from recent
proceedings which had taken place against them. [123]

When the ungracious refusal of Ovando was brought to Columbus, and he
found all shelter denied him, he sought at least to avert the danger of
the fleet, which was about to sail. He sent back the officer therefore to
the governor, entreating him not to permit the fleet to put to sea for
several days; assuring him that there were indubitable signs of an
impending tempest. This second request was equally fruitless with the
first. The weather, to an inexperienced eye, was fair and tranquil; the
pilots and seamen were impatient to depart. They scoffed at the prediction
of the admiral, ridiculing him as a false prophet, and they persuaded
Ovando not to detain the fleet on so unsubstantial a pretext.

It was hard treatment of Columbus, thus to be denied the relief which the
state of his ships required, and to be excluded in time of distress from
the very harbor he had discovered. He retired from the river full of grief
and indignation. His crew murmured loudly at being shut out from a port of
their own nation, where even strangers, tinder similar circumstances,
would be admitted. They repined at having embarked with a commander liable
to such treatment; and anticipated nothing but evil from a voyage, in
which they were exposed to the dangers of the sea, and repulsed from the
protection of the land.

Being confident, from his observations of those natural phenomena in which
he was deeply skilled, that the anticipated storm could not be distant,
and expecting it from the land side, Columbus kept his feeble squadron
close to the shore, and sought for secure anchorage in some wild bay or
river of the island.

In the meantime, the fleet of Bobadilla set sail from San Domingo, and
stood out confidently to sea. Within two days, the predictions of Columbus
were verified. One of those tremendous hurricanes, which sometimes sweep
those latitudes, had gradually gathered up. The baleful appearance of the
heavens, the wild look of the ocean, the rising murmur of the winds, all
gave notice of its approach. The fleet had scarcely reached the eastern
point of Hispaniola, when the tempest burst over it with awful fury,
involving every thing in wreck and ruin. The ship on board of which were
Bobadilla, Roldan, and a number of the most inveterate enemies of
Columbus, was swallowed up with all its crew, and with the celebrated mass
of gold, and the principal part of the ill-gotten treasure, gained by the
miseries of the Indians. Many of the ships were entirely lost, some
returned to San Domingo, in shattered condition, and only one was enabled
to continue her voyage to Spain. That one, according to Fernando Columbus,
was the weakest of the fleet, and had on board the four thousand pieces of
gold, the property of the admiral.

During the early part of this storm, the little squadron of Columbus
remained tolerably well sheltered by the land. On the second day the
tempest increased in violence, and the night coming on with unusual
darkness, the ships lost sight of each other and were separated. The
admiral still kept close to the shore, and sustained no damage. The
others, fearful of the land in such a dark and boisterous night, ran out
for sea-room, and encountered the whole fury of the elements. For several
days they were driven about at the mercy of wind and wave, fearful each
moment of shipwreck, and giving up each other as lost. The Adelantado, who
commanded the ship already mentioned as being scarcely seaworthy, ran the
most imminent hazard, and nothing but his consummate seamanship enabled
him to keep her afloat. At length, after various vicissitudes, they all
arrived safe at Port Hermoso, to the west of San Domingo. The Adelantado
had lost his long boat; and all the vessels, with the exception of that of
the admiral, had sustained more or less injury.

When Columbus learnt the signal destruction that had overwhelmed his
enemies, almost before his eyes, he was deeply impressed with awe, and
considered his own preservation as little less than miraculous. Both his
son Fernando, and the venerable historian Las Casas, looked upon the event
as one of those awful judgments, which seem at times to deal forth
temporal retribution. They notice the circumstance, that while the enemies
of the admiral were swallowed up by the raging sea, the only ship of the
fleet which was enabled to pursue her voyage, and reach her port of
destination, was the frail bark freighted with the property of Columbus.
The evil, however, in this, as in most circumstances, overwhelmed the
innocent as well as the guilty. In the ship with Bobadilla and Roldan
perished the captive Guarionex, the unfortunate cacique of the Vega.

Chapter II.

Voyage along the Coast of Honduras.


For several days Columbus remained in Port Hermosa to repair his vessels,
and permit his crews to repose and refresh themselves after the late
tempest. He had scarcely left this harbor, when he was obliged to take
shelter from another storm in Jacquemel, or, as it was called by the
Spaniards, Port Brazil. Hence he sailed on the 14th of July, steering for
Terra Firma. The weather falling perfectly calm, he was borne away by the
currents until he found himself in the vicinity of some little islands
near Jamaica, [125] destitute of springs, but where the seamen obtained a
supply of water by digging holes in the sand on the beach.

The calm continuing, he was swept away to the group of small islands, or
keys, on the southern coast of Cuba, to which, in 1494, he had given the
name of The Gardens. He had scarcely touched there, however, when the wind
sprang up from a favorable quarter, and he was enabled to make sail on his
destined course. He now stood to the southwest, and after a few days
discovered, on the 30th of July, a small but elevated island, agreeable to
the eye from the variety of trees with which it was covered. Among these
was a great number of lofty pines, from which circumstance Columbus named
it Isla de Pinos. It has always, however, retained its Indian name of
Guanaja, [126] which has been extended to a number of smaller islands
surrounding it. This group is within a few leagues of the coast of
Honduras, to the east of the great bay or gulf of that name.

The Adelantado, with two launches full of people, landed on the principal
island, which was extremely verdant and fertile. The inhabitants resembled
those of other islands, excepting that their foreheads were narrower.
While the Adelantado was on shore, he beheld a great canoe arriving, as
from a distant and important voyage. He was struck with its magnitude and
contents. It was eight feet wide, and as long as a galley, though formed
of the trunk of a single tree. In the centre was a kind of awning or cabin
of palm-leaves, after the manner of those in the gondolas of Venice, and
sufficiently close to exclude both sun and rain. Under this sat a cacique
with his wives and children. Twenty-five Indians rowed the canoe, and it
was filled with all kinds of articles of the manufacture and natural
production of the adjacent countries. It is supposed that this bark had
come from the province of Yucatan, which is about forty leagues distant
from this island.

The Indians in the canoe appeared to have no fear of the Spaniards, and
readily went alongside of the admiral's caravel. Columbus was overjoyed at
thus having brought to him at once, without trouble or danger, a
collection of specimens of all the important articles of this part of the
New World. He examined, with great curiosity and interest, the contents of
the canoe. Among various utensils and weapons similar to those already
found among the natives, he perceived others of a much superior kind.
There were hatchets for cutting wood, formed not of stone but copper;
wooden swords, with channels on each side of the blade, in which sharp
flints were firmly fixed by cords made of the intestines of fishes; being
the same kind of weapon afterwards found among the Mexicans. There were
copper bells and other articles of the same metal, together with a rude
kind of crucible in which to melt it; various vessels and utensils neatly
formed of clay, of marble, and of hard wood; sheets and mantles of cotton,
worked and dyed with various colors; great quantities of cacao, a fruit as
yet unknown to the Spaniards, but which, as they soon found, the natives
held in great estimation, using it both as food and money. There was a
beverage also extracted from maize or Indian corn, resembling beer. Their
provisions consisted of bread made of maize, and roots of various kinds,
similar to those of Hispaniola. From among these articles, Columbus
collected such as were important to send as specimens to Spain, giving the
natives European trinkets in exchange, with which they were highly
satisfied. They appeared to manifest neither astonishment nor alarm when
on board of the vessels, and surrounded by people who must have been so
strange and wonderful to them. The women wore mantles, with which they
wrapped themselves, like the female Moors of Granada, and the men had
cloths of cotton round their loins. Both sexes appeared more particular
about these coverings, and to have a quicker sense of personal modesty
than any Indians Columbus had yet discovered.

These circumstances, together with the superiority of their implements and
manufactures, were held by the admiral as indications that he was
approaching more civilized nations. He endeavored to gain particular
information from these Indians about the surrounding countries; but as
they spoke a different language from that of his interpreters, he could
understand them but imperfectly. They informed him that they had just
arrived from a country, rich, cultivated, and industrious, situated to the
west. They endeavored to impress him with an idea of the wealth and
magnificence of the regions, and the people in that quarter, and urged him
to steer in that direction. Well would it have been for Columbus had he
followed their advice. Within a day or two he would have arrived at
Yucatan; the discovery of Mexico and the other opulent countries of New
Spain would have necessarily followed; the Southern Ocean would have been
disclosed to him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed
fresh glory on his declining age, instead of its sinking amidst gloom,
neglect, and disappointment.

The admiral's whole mind, however, was at present intent upon discovering
the strait. As the countries described by the Indians lay to the west, he
supposed that he could easily visit them at some future time, by running
with the trade-winds along the coast of Cuba, which he imagined must
continue on, so as to join them. At present he was determined to seek the
main-land, the mountains of which were visible to the south, and
apparently not many leagues distant:[127] by keeping along it steadfastly
to the east, he must at length arrive to where he supposed it to be
severed from the coast of Paria by an intervening strait; and passing
through this, he should soon make his way to the Spice Islands and the
richest parts of India. [128]

He was encouraged the more to persist in his eastern course by information
from the Indians, that there were many places in that direction which
abounded with gold. Much of the information which he gathered among these
people was derived from an old man more intelligent than the rest, who
appeared to be an ancient navigator of these seas. Columbus retained him
to serve as a guide along the coast, and dismissed his companions with
many presents.

Leaving the island of Guanaja, he stood southwardly for the main-land, and
after sailing a few leagues, discovered a cape, to which he gave the name
of Caxinas, from its being covered with fruit trees, so called by the
natives. It is at present known as Cape Honduras. Here, on Sunday the 14th
of August, the Adelantado landed with the captains of the caravels and
many of the seamen, to attend mass, which was performed under the trees on
the sea-shore, according to the pious custom of the admiral, whenever
circumstances would permit. On the 17th, the Adelantado again landed at a
river about fifteen miles from the point, on the bank of which he
displayed the banners of Castile, taking possession of the country in the
name of their Catholic Majesties; from which circumstances he named this
the River of Possession. [129]

At this place they found upwards of a hundred Indians assembled, laden
with bread and maize, fish and fowl, vegetables, and fruits of various
kinds. These they laid down as presents before the Adelantado and his
party, and drew back to a distance without speaking a word. The Adelantado
distributed among them various trinkets, with which they were well
pleased, and appeared the next day in the same place, in greater numbers,
with still more abundant supplies of provisions.

The natives of this neighborhood, and for a considerable distance
eastward, had higher foreheads than those of the islands. They were of
different languages, and varied from each other in their decorations. Some
were entirely naked; and their bodies were marked by means of fire with
the figures of various animals. Some wore coverings about the loins;
others short cotton jerkins without sleeves: some wore tresses of hair in
front. The chieftains had caps of white or colored cotton. When arrayed
for any festival, they painted their faces black, or with stripes of
various colors, or with circles round the eyes. The old Indian guide
assured the admiral that many of them were cannibals. In one part of the
coast the natives had their ears bored, and hideously distended; which
caused the Spaniards to call that region _la Costa de la Oreja_, or
"the Coast of the Ear." [130]

From the River of Possession, Columbus proceeded along what is at present
called the coast of Honduras, beating against contrary winds, and
struggling with currents which swept from the east like the constant
stream of a river. He often lost in one tack what he had laboriously
gained in two, frequently making but two leagues in a day, and never more
than five. At night he anchored under the land, through fear of proceeding
along an unknown coast in the dark, but was often forced out to sea by the
violence of the currents.[131] In all this time he experienced the same
kind of weather that had prevailed on the coast of Hispaniola, and had
attended him more or less for upwards of sixty days. There was, he says,
almost an incessant tempest of the heavens, with heavy rains, and such
thunder and lightning, that it seemed as if the end of the world was at
hand. Those who know any thing of the drenching rains and rending thunder
of the tropics, will not think his description of the storms exaggerated.
His vessels were strained so that their seams opened; the sails and
rigging were rent, and the provisions were damaged by the rain and by the
leakage. The sailors were exhausted with labor, and harassed with terror.
They many times confessed their sins to each other, and prepared for
death. "I have seen many tempests," says Columbus, "but none so violent
or of such long duration." He alludes to the whole series of storms for
upwards of two months, since he had been refused shelter at San Domingo.
During a great part of this time, he had suffered extremely from the
gout, aggravated by his watchfulness and anxiety. His illness did not
prevent his attending to his duties; he had a small cabin or chamber
constructed on the stern, whence, even when confined to his bed, he
could keep a look-out and regulate the sailing of the ships. Many times
he was so ill that he thought his end approaching. His anxious mind was
distressed about his brother the Adelantado, whom he had persuaded
against his will to come on this expedition, and who was in the worst
vessel of the squadron. He lamented also having brought with him his
son Fernando, exposing him at so tender an age to such perils and
 hardships, although the youth bore them with the courage and fortitude
of a veteran. Often, too, his thoughts reverted to his son Diego, and
the cares and perplexities into which his death might plunge him.[132]
At length, after struggling for upwards of forty days since leaving
the Cape of Honduras, to make a distance of about seventy leagues, they
arrived on the 14th of September at a cape where the coast making an
angle, turned directly south, so as to give them an easy wind and free
navigation. Doubling the point, they swept off with flowing sails and
hearts filled with joy; and the admiral, to commemorate this sudden
relief from toil and peril, gave to the Cape the name of _Gracias a
Dios_, or Thanks to God.[133]

Chapter III.

Voyage along the Mosquito Coast, and Transactions at Cariari.


After doubling Cape Gracias a Dios, Columbus sailed directly south, along
what is at present called the Mosquito shore. The land was of varied
character, sometimes rugged, with craggy promontories and points
stretching into the sea, at other places verdant and fertile, and watered
by abundant streams. In the rivers grew immense reeds, sometimes of the
thickness of a man's thigh: they abounded with fish and tortoises, and
alligators basked on the banks. At one place Columbus passed a cluster of
twelve small islands, on which grew a fruit resembling the lemon, on which
account he called them the Limonares. [134]

After sailing about sixty-two leagues along this coast, being greatly in
want of wood and water, the squadron anchored on the 16th of September,
near a copious river, up which the boats were sent to procure the
requisite supplies. As they were returning to their ships, a sudden
swelling of the sea, rushing in and encountering the rapid current of the
river, caused a violent commotion, in which one of the boats was swallowed
up, and all on board perished. This melancholy event had a gloomy effect
upon the crews, already dispirited and care-worn from the hardships they
had endured, and Columbus, sharing their dejection, gave the stream the
sinister name of _El rio del Desastre_, or the River of Disaster.

Leaving this unlucky neighborhood, they continued for several days along
the coast, until, finding both his ships and his people nearly disabled by
the buffetings of the tempests, Columbus, on the 25th of September, cast
anchor between a small island and the main-land, in what appeared a
commodious and delightful situation. The island was covered with groves of
palm-trees, cocoanut-trees, bananas, and a delicate and fragrant fruit,
which the admiral continually mistook for the mirabolane of the East
Indies. The fruits and flowers and odoriferous shrubs of the island sent
forth grateful perfumes, so that Columbus gave it the name of La Huerta,
or the Garden. It was called by the natives Quiribiri. Immediately
opposite, at a short league's distance, was an Indian village, named
Cariari, situated on the bank of a beautiful river. The country around was
fresh and verdant, finely diversified by noble hills and forests, with
trees of such height, that Las Casas says they appeared to reach the

When the inhabitants beheld the ships, they gathered together on the
coast, armed with bows and arrows, war-clubs, and lances, and prepared to
defend their shores. The Spaniards, however, made no attempt to land
during that or the succeeding day, but remained quietly on board repairing
the ships, airing and drying the damaged provisions, or reposing from the
fatigues of the voyage. When the savages perceived that these wonderful
beings, who had arrived in this strange manner on their coast, were
perfectly pacific, and made no movement to molest them, their hostility
ceased, and curiosity predominated. They made various pacific signals,
waving their mantles like banners, and inviting the Spaniards to land.
Growing still more bold, they swam to the ships, bringing off mantles and
tunics of cotton, and ornaments of the inferior sort of gold called
guanin, which they wore about their necks. These they offered to the
Spaniards. The admiral, however, forbade all traffic, making them
presents, but taking nothing in exchange, wishing to impress them with a
favorable idea of the liberality and disinterestedness of the white men.
The pride of the savages was touched at the refusal of their proffered
gifts, and this supposed contempt for their manufactures and productions.
They endeavored to retaliate, by pretending like indifference. On
returning to shore, they tied together all the European articles which had
been given them, without retaining the least trifle, and left them lying
on the strand, where the Spaniards found them on a subsequent day.

Finding the strangers still declined to come on shore, the natives tried
in every way to gain their confidence, and dispel the distrust which their
hostile demonstrations might have caused. A boat approaching the shore
cautiously one day, in quest of some safe place to procure water, an
ancient Indian, of venerable demeanor, issued from among the trees,
bearing a white banner on the end of a staff, and leading two girls, one
about fourteen years of age, the other about eight, having jewels of
guanin about their necks. These he brought to the boat and delivered to
the Spaniards, making signs that they were to be detained as hostages
while the strangers should be on shore. Upon this the Spaniards sallied
forth with confidence and filled their water-casks, the Indians remaining
at a distance, and observing the strictest care, neither by word nor
movement to cause any new distrust. When the boats were about to return to
the ships, the old Indian made signs that the young girls should be taken
on board, nor would he admit of any denial. On entering the ships the
girls showed no signs of grief nor alarm, though surrounded by what to
them must have been uncouth and formidable beings. Columbus was careful
that the confidence thus placed in him should not be abused. After
feasting the young females, and ordering them to be clothed and adorned
with various ornaments, he sent them on shore. The night, however, had
fallen, and the coast was deserted. They had to return to the ship, where
they remained all night under the careful protection of the admiral. The
next morning he restored them to their friends. The old Indian received
them with joy, and manifested a grateful sense of the kind treatment they
had experienced. In the evening, however, when the boats went on shore,
the young girls appeared, accompanied by a multitude of their friends, and
returned all the presents they had received, nor could they be prevailed
upon to retain any of them, although they must have been precious in their
eyes; so greatly was the pride of these savages piqued at having their
gifts refused.

On the following day, as the Adelantado approached the shore, two of the
principal inhabitants, entering the water, took him out of the boat in
their arms, and carrying him to land, seated him with great ceremony on a
grassy bank. Don Bartholomew endeavored to collect information from them
respecting the country, and ordered the notary of the squadron to write
down their replies. The latter immediately prepared pen, ink, and paper,
and proceeded to write; but no sooner did the Indians behold this strange
and mysterious process, than, mistaking it for some necromantic spell,
intended to be wrought upon them, they fled with terror. After some time
they returned, cautiously scattering a fragrant powder in the air, and
burning some of it in such a direction that the smoke should be borne
towards the Spaniards by the wind. This was apparently intended to
counteract any baleful spell, for they regarded the strangers as beings of
a mysterious and supernatural order.

The sailors looked upon these counter-charms of the Indians with equal
distrust, and apprehended something of magic; nay, Fernando Columbus, who
was present, and records the scene, appears to doubt whether these Indiana
were not versed in sorcery, and thus led to suspect it in others.

Indeed, not to conceal a foible, which was more characteristic of the
superstition of the age than of the man, Columbus himself entertained an
idea of the kind, and assures the sovereigns, in his letter from Jamaica,
that the people of Cariari and its vicinity are great enchanters, and he
intimates, that the two Indian girls who had visited his ship had magic
powder concealed about their persons. He adds, that the sailors attributed
all the delays and hardships experienced on that coast to their being
under the influence of some evil spell, worked by the witchcraft of the
natives, and that they still remained in that belief. [137]


For several days the squadron remained at this place, during which time
the ships were examined and repaired, and the crews enjoyed repose and the
recreation of the land. The Adelantado, with a band of armed men, made
excursions on shore to collect information. There was no pure gold to be
met with here, all their ornaments were of guanin; but the natives assured
the Adelantado, that, in proceeding along the coast, the ships would soon
arrive at a country where gold was in great abundance.

In examining one of the villages, the Adelantado found, in a large house,
several sepulchres. One contained a human body embalmed; in another, there
were two bodies wrapped in cotton, and so preserved as to be free from any
disagreeable odor. They were adorned with the ornaments most precious to
them when living; and the sepulchres were decorated with rude carvings and
paintings representing various animals, and, sometimes, what appeared to
be intended for portraits of the deceased. [139] Throughout most of the
savage tribes, there appears to have been great veneration for the dead,
and an anxiety to preserve their remains undisturbed.

When about to sail, Columbus seized seven of the people, two of whom,
apparently the most intelligent, he selected to serve as guides; the rest
he suffered to depart. His late guide he had dismissed with presents at
Cape Gracias a Dios. The inhabitants of Cariari manifested unusual
sensibility at this seizure of their countrymen. They thronged the shore,
and sent off four of their principal men with presents to the ships,
imploring the release of the prisoners.

The admiral assured them that he only took their companions as guides, for
a short distance along the coast, and would restore them soon in safety to
their homes. He ordered various presents to be given to the ambassadors;
but neither his promises nor gifts could soothe the grief and apprehension
of the natives at beholding their friends carried away by beings of whom
they had such mysterious apprehensions. [140]

Chapter IV.

Voyage along Costa Rica.--Speculations Concerning the Isthmus at Veragua.


On the 5th of October, the squadron departed from Cariari, and sailed
along what is at present called Costa Rica (or the Rich Coast), from the
gold and silver mines found in after years among its mountains. After
sailing about twenty-two leagues, the ships anchored in a great bay, about
six leagues in length and three in breadth, full of islands, with channels
opening between them, so as to present three or four entrances. It was
called by the natives Caribaro, [141] and had been pointed out by the
natives of Cariari as plentiful in gold.

The islands were beautifully verdant, covered with groves, and sent forth
the fragrance of fruits and flowers. The channels between them were so
deep and free from rocks that the ships sailed along them, as if in canals
in the streets of a city, the spars and rigging brushing the overhanging
branches of the trees. After anchoring, the boats landed on one of the
islands, where they found twenty canoes. The people were on shore among
the trees. Being encouraged by the Indians of Cariari, who accompanied the
Spaniards, they soon advanced with confidence. Here, for the first time on
this coast, the Spaniards met with specimens of pure gold; the natives
wearing large plates of it suspended round their necks by cotton cords;
they had ornaments likewise of guanin, rudely shaped like eagles. One of
them exchanged a plate of gold, equal in value to ten ducats, for three
hawks'-bells. [142]

On the following day, the boats proceeded to the mainland at the bottom of
the bay. The country around was high and rough, and the villages were
generally perched on the heights. They met with ten canoes of Indians,
their heads decorated with garlands of flowers, and coronets formed of the
claws of beasts and the quills of birds;[143] most of them had plates of
gold about their necks, but refused to part with them. The Spaniards
brought two of them to the admiral to serve as guides. One had a plate of
pure gold worth fourteen ducats, another an eagle worth twenty-two ducats.
Seeing the great value which the strangers set upon this metal, they
assured them it was to be had in abundance within the distance of two
days' journey; and mentioned various places along the coast, whence it
was procured, particularly Veragua, which was about twenty-five leagues
distant. [144]

The cupidity of the Spaniards was greatly excited, and they would gladly
have remained to barter, but the admiral discouraged all disposition of
the kind. He barely sought to collect specimens and information of the
riches of the country, and then pressed forward in quest of the great
object of his enterprise, the imaginary strait.

Sailing on the 17th of October, from this bay, or rather gulf, he began to
coast this region of reputed wealth, since called the coast of Veragua;
and after sailing about twelve leagues, arrived at a large river, which
his son Fernando calls the Guaig. Here, on the boats being sent to land,
about two hundred Indians appeared on the shore, armed with clubs, lances,
and swords of palm-wood. The forests echoed with the sound of wooden
drums, and the blasts of conch shells, their usual war signals. They
rushed into the sea up to their waists, brandishing their weapons, and
splashing the water at the Spaniards in token of defiance; but were soon
pacified by gentle signs, and the intervention of the interpreters; and
willingly bartered away their ornaments, giving seventeen plates of gold,
worth one hundred and fifty ducats, for a few toys and trifles.

When the Spaniards returned the next day to renew their traffic, they
found the Indians relapsed into hostility, sounding their drums and
shells, and rushing forward to attack the boats. An arrow from a
cross-bow, which wounded one of them in the arm, checked their fury, and
on the discharge of a cannon, they fled with terror. Four of the Spaniards
sprang on shore, pursuing and calling after them. They threw down their
weapons, and came, awe-struck, and gentle as lambs, bringing three plates
of gold, and meekly and thankfully receiving whatever was given in

Continuing along the coast, the admiral anchored in the mouth of another
river, called the Catiba. Here likewise the sound of drums and conchs from
among the forests gave notice that the warriors were assembling. A canoe
soon came off with two Indians, who, after exchanging a few words with the
interpreters, entered the admiral's ship with fearless confidence; and
being satisfied of the friendly intentions of the strangers, returned to
their cacique with a favorable report. The boats landed, and the Spaniards
were kindly received by the cacique. He was naked like his subjects, nor
distinguished in any way from them, except by the great deference with
which he was treated, and by a trifling attention paid to his personal
comfort, being protected from a shower of rain by an immense leaf of a
tree. He had a large plate of gold, which he readily gave in exchange, and
permitted his people to do the same. Nineteen plates of pure gold were
procured at this place. Here, for the first time in the New World, the
Spaniards met with signs of solid architecture; finding a great mass of
stucco, formed of stone and lime, a piece of which was retained by the
admiral as a specimen, [145] considering it an indication of his approach
to countries where the arts were in a higher state of cultivation.

He had intended to visit other rivers along this coast, but the wind
coming on to blow freshly, he ran before it, passing in sight of five
towns, where his interpreters assured him he might procure great
quantities of gold. One they pointed out as Veragua, which has since given
its name to the whole province. Here, they said, were the richest mines,
and here most of the plates of gold were fabricated. On the following day,
they arrived opposite a village called Cubiga, and here Columbus was
informed that the country of gold terminated. [146] He resolved not to
return to explore it, considering it as discovered, and its mines secured
to the crown, and being anxious to arrive at the supposed strait, which
he flattered himself could be at no great distance.

In fact, during his whole voyage along the coast, he had been under the
influence of one of his frequent delusions. From the Indians met with at
the island of Guanaja, just arrived from Yucatan, he had received accounts
of some great, and, as far as he could understand, civilized nation in the
interior. This intimation had been corroborated, as he imagined, by the
various tribes with which he had since communicated. In a subsequent
letter to the sovereigns, he informs them that all the Indians of this
coast concurred in extolling the magnificence of the country of Ciguare,
situated at ten days' journey, by land, to the west. The people of that
region wore crowns, and bracelets, and anklets of gold, and garments
embroidered with it. They used it for all their domestic purposes, even to
the ornamenting and embossing of their seats and tables. On being shown
coral, the Indians declared that the women of Ciguare wore bands of it
about their heads and necks. Pepper and other spices being shown them,
were equally said to abound there. They described it as a country of
commerce, with great fairs and sea-ports, in which ships arrived armed
with cannon. The people were warlike also, armed like the Spaniards with
swords, bucklers, cuirasses, and cross-bows, and they were mounted on
horses. Above all, Columbus understood from them that the sea continued
round to Ciguare, and that ten days beyond it was the Ganges.

These may have been vague and wandering rumors concerning the distant
kingdoms of Mexico and Peru, and many of the details may have been filled
up by the imagination of Columbus. They made, however, a strong impression
on his mind. He supposed that Ciguare must be some province belonging to
the Grand Khan, or some other Eastern potentate, and as the sea reached
it, he concluded it was on the opposite side of a peninsula: bearing the
same position with respect to Veragua that Fontarabia does with Tortosa in
Spain, or Pisa with Venice in Italy. By proceeding farther eastward,
therefore, he must soon arrive at a strait, like that of Gibraltar,
through which he could pass into another sea, and visit this country of
Ciguare, and, of course, arrive at the banks of the Ganges. He accounted
for the circumstance of his having arrived so near to that river, by the
idea which he had long entertained, that geographers were mistaken as to
the circumference of the globe; that it was smaller than was generally
imagined, and that a degree of the equinoctial line was but fifty-six
miles and two-thirds. [147]

With these ideas Columbus determined to press forward, leaving the rich
country of Veragua unexplored. Nothing could evince more clearly his
generous ambition, than hurrying in this brief manner along a coast where
wealth was to be gathered at every step, for the purpose of seeking a
strait which, however it might produce vast benefit to mankind, could
yield little else to himself than the glory of the discovery.

Chapter V.

Discovery of Puerto Bello and El Retrete.--Columbus Abandons the Search
after the Strait.


On the 2d of November, the squadron anchored in a spacious and commodious
harbor, where the vessels could approach close to the shore without
danger. It was surrounded by an elevated country; open and cultivated,
with houses within bow-shot of each other, surrounded by fruit-trees,
groves of palms, and fields producing maize, vegetables, and the delicious
pine-apple, so that the whole neighborhood had the mingled appearance of
orchard and garden. Columbus was so pleased with the excellence of the
harbor, and the sweetness of the surrounding country, that he gave it the
name of Puerto Bello. [148] It is one of the few places along this coast
which retain the appellation given by the illustrious discoverer. It is to
be regretted that they have so generally been discontinued, as they were
so often records of his feelings, and of circumstances attending the

For seven days they were detained in this port by heavy rain and stormy
weather. The natives repaired from all quarters in canoes, bringing fruits
and vegetables and balls of cotton, but there was no longer gold offered
in traffic. The cacique, and seven of his principal chieftains, had small
plates of gold hanging in their noses, but the rest of the natives appear
to have been destitute of all ornaments of the kind. They were generally
naked and painted red; the cacique alone was painted black. [149]

Sailing hence on the 9th of November, they proceeded eight leagues to the
eastward, to the point since known as Nombre de Dios; but being driven
back for some distance, they anchored in a harbor in the vicinity of three
small islands. These, with the adjacent country of the main-land, were
cultivated with fields of Indian corn, and various fruits and vegetables,
whence Columbus called the harbor Puerto de Bastimentos, or Port of
Provisions. Here they remained until the 23d, endeavoring to repair their
vessels, which leaked excessively. They were pierced in all parts by the
teredo or worm which abounds in the tropical seas. It is of the size of a
man's finger, and bores through the stoutest planks and timbers, so as
soon to destroy any vessel that is not well coppered. After leaving this
port, they touched at another called Guiga, where above three hundred of
the natives appeared on the shore, some with provisions, and some with
golden ornaments, which they offered in barter. Without making any stay,
however, the admiral urged his way forward; but rough and adverse winds
again obliged him to take shelter in a small port, with a narrow entrance,
not above twenty paces wide, beset on each side with reefs of rocks, the
sharp points of which rose above the surface. Within, there was not room
for more than five or six ships; yet the port was so deep, that they had
no good anchorage, unless they approached near enough to the land for a
man to leap on shore.

From the smallness of the harbor, Columbus gave it the name of _El
Retrete_, or The Cabinet. He had been betrayed into this inconvenient
and dangerous port by the misrepresentations of the seamen sent to examine
it, who were always eager to come to anchor, and have communication with
the shore. [150]

The adjacent country was level and verdant, covered with herbage, but with
few trees. The port was infested with alligators, which basked in the
sunshine on the beach, filling the air with a powerful and musky odor.
They were timorous, and fled on being attacked, but the Indians affirmed
that if they found a man sleeping on shore they would seize and drag him
into the water. These alligators Columbus pronounced to be the same as the
crocodiles of the Nile. For nine days the squadron was detained in this
port, by tempestuous weather. The natives of this place were tall, well
proportioned, and graceful; of gentle and friendly manners, and brought
whatever they possessed to exchange for European trinkets.

As long as the admiral had control over the actions of his people, the
Indians were treated with justice and kindness, and every thing went on
amicably. The vicinity of the ships to land, however, enabled the seamen
to get on shore in the night without license. The natives received them in
their dwellings with their accustomed hospitality; but the rough
adventurers, instigated by avarice and lust, soon committed excesses that
roused their generous hosts to revenge. Every night there were brawls and
fights on shore, and blood was shed on both sides. The number of the
Indians daily augmented by arrivals from the interior. They became more
powerful and daring as they became more exasperated; and seeing that the
vessels lay close to the shore, approached in a great multitude to attack

The admiral thought at first to disperse them by discharging cannon
without ball, but they were not intimidated by the sound, regarding it as
a kind of harmless thunder. They replied to it by yells and howlings,
beating their lances and clubs against the trees and bushes in furious
menace. The situation of the ships so close to the shore exposed them to
assaults, and made the hostility of the natives unusually formidable.
Columbus ordered a shot or two, therefore, to be discharged among them.
When they saw the havoc made, they fled in terror, and offered no further
hostility. [151]

The continuance of stormy winds from the east and the northeast, in
addition to the constant opposition of the currents, disheartened the
companions of Columbus, and they began to murmur against any further
prosecution of the voyage. The seamen thought that some hostile spell was
operating, and the commanders remonstrated against attempting to force
their way in spite of the elements, with ships crazed and worm-eaten, and
continually in need of repair. Few of his companions could sympathize with
Columbus in his zeal for mere discovery. They were actuated by more
gainful motives, and looked back with regret on the rich coast they had
left behind, to go in search of an imaginary strait. It is probable that
Columbus himself began to doubt the object of his enterprise. If he knew
the details of the recent voyage of Bastides, he must have been aware that
he had arrived from an opposite quarter to about the place where that
navigator's exploring voyage from the east had terminated; consequently
that there was but little probability of the existence of the strait he
had imagined. [152]

At all events, he determined to relinquish the further prosecution of his
voyage eastward for the present, and to return to the coast of Veragua, to
search for those mines of which he had heard so much, and seen so many
indications. Should they prove equal to his hopes, he would have
wherewithal to return to Spain in triumph, and silence the reproaches of
his enemies, even though he should fail in the leading object of his

Here, then, ended the lofty anticipations which had elevated Columbus
above all mercenary interests; which had made him regardless of hardships
and perils, and given an heroic character to the early part of this
voyage. It is true, he had been in pursuit of a mere chimera, but it was
the chimera of a splendid imagination, and a penetrating judgment. If he
was disappointed in his expectation of finding a strait through the
Isthmus of Darien, it was because nature herself had been disappointed,
for she appears to have attempted to make one, but to have attempted it in

Chapter VI.

Return to Veragua.--The Adelantado Explores the Country.


On the 5th of December, Columbus sailed from El Retrete, and relinquishing
his course to the east, returned westward, in search of the gold mines of
Veragua. On the same evening he anchored in Puerto Bello, about ten
leagues distant; whence departing on the succeeding day, the wind suddenly
veered to the west, and began to blow directly adverse to the new course
he had adopted. For three months he had been longing in vain for such a
wind, and now it came merely to contradict him. Here was a temptation to
resume his route to the east, but he did not dare trust to the continuance
of the wind, which, in these parts, appeared but seldom to blow from that
quarter. He resolved, therefore, to keep on in the present direction,
trusting that the breeze would soon change again to the eastward.

In a little while the wind began to blow with dreadful violence, and to
shift about in such manner as to baffle all seamanship. Unable to reach
Veragua, the ships were obliged to put back to Puerto Bello, and when they
would have entered that harbor, a sudden veering of the gale drove them
from the land. For nine days they were blown and tossed about, at the
mercy of a furious tempest, in an unknown sea, and often exposed to the
awful perils of a lee-shore. It is wonderful that such open vessels, so
crazed and decayed, could outlive such a commotion of the elements.
Nowhere is a storm so awful as between the tropics. The sea, according to
the description of Columbus, boiled at times like a caldron; at other
times it ran in mountain waves, covered with foam. At night the raging
billows resembled great surges of flame, owing to those luminous particles
which cover the surface of the water in these seas, and throughout the
whole course of the Gulf Stream. For a day and night the heavens glowed as
a furnace with the incessant flashes of lightning; while the loud claps of
thunder were often mistaken by the affrighted mariners for signal guns of
distress from their foundering companions. During the whole time, says
Columbus, it poured down from the skies, not rain, but as it were a second
deluge. The seamen were almost drowned in their open vessels. Haggard with
toil and affright, some gave themselves over for lost; they confessed
their sins to each other according to the rites of the Catholic religion,
and prepared themselves for death; many, in their desperation, called upon
death as a welcome relief from such overwhelming horrors. In the midst of
this wild tumult of the elements, they beheld a new object of alarm. The
ocean in one place became strangely agitated. The water was whirled up
into a kind of pyramid or cone, while a livid cloud, tapering to a point,
bent down to meet it. Joining together, they formed a vast column, which
rapidly approached the ships, spinning along the surface of the deep, and
drawing up the waters with a rushing sound. The affrighted mariners, when
they beheld this water-spout advancing towards them, despaired of all
human means to avert it, and began to repeat passages from St. John the
evangelist. The water-spout passed close by the ships without injuring
them, and the trembling mariners attributed their escape to the miraculous
efficacy of their quotations from the Scriptures. [153]

In this same night, they lost sight of one of the caravels, and for three
dark and stormy days gave it up for lost. At length, to their great
relief, it rejoined the squadron, having lost its boat, and been obliged
to cut its cable, in an attempt to anchor on a boisterous coast, and
having since been driven to and fro by the storm. For one or two days,
there was an interval of calm, and the tempest-tossed mariners had time to
breathe. They looked upon this tranquillity, however, as deceitful, and,
in their gloomy mood, beheld every thing with a doubtful and foreboding
eye. Great numbers of sharks, so abundant and ravenous in these latitudes,
were seen about the ships. This was construed into an evil omen; for among
the superstitions of the seas, it is believed that these voracious fish
can smell dead bodies at a distance; that they have a kind of presentiment
of their prey; and keep about vessels which have sick persons on board, or
which are in danger of being wrecked. Several of these fish they caught,
using large hooks fastened to chains, and sometimes baited merely with a
piece of colored cloth. From the maw of one they took out a living
tortoise; from that of another the head of a shark, recently thrown from
one of the ships; such is the indiscriminate voracity of these terrors of
the ocean. Notwithstanding their superstitious fancies, the seamen were
glad to use a part of these sharks for food, being very short of
provisions. The length of the voyage had consumed the greater part of
their sea-stores; the heat and humidity of the climate, and the leakage of
the ships, had damaged the remainder, and their biscuit was so filled with
worms, that, notwithstanding their hunger, they were obliged to eat it in
the dark, lest their stomachs should revolt at its appearance. [154]

At length, on the 17th, they were enabled to enter a port resembling a
great canal, where they enjoyed three days of repose. The natives of this
vicinity built their cabins in trees, on stakes or poles laid from one
branch to another. The Spaniards supposed this to be through the fear of
wild beasts, or of surprisals from neighboring tribes; the different
nations of these coasts being extremely hostile to one another. It may
have been a precaution against inundations caused by floods from the
mountains. After leaving this port, they were driven backwards and
forwards, by the changeable and tempestuous winds, until the day after
Christmas; when they sheltered themselves in another port, where they
remained until the 3d of January, 1503, repairing one of the caravels, and
procuring wood, water, and a supply of maize or Indian corn. These
measures being completed, they again put to sea, and on the day of
Epiphany, to their great joy, anchored at the mouth of a river called by
the natives Yebra, within a league or two of the river Veragua, and in the
country said to be so rich in mines. To this river, from arriving at it on
the day of Epiphany, Columbus gave the name of Belen or Bethlehem.

For nearly a month he had endeavored to accomplish the voyage from Puerto
Bello to Veragua, a distance of about thirty leagues; and had encountered
so many troubles and adversities, from changeable winds and currents, and
boisterous tempests, that he gave this intermediate line of sea-board the
name of _La Costa de los Contrastes_, or The Coast of Contradictions.

Columbus immediately ordered the mouths of the Belen, and of its
neighboring river of Veragua, to be sounded. The latter proved too shallow
to admit his vessels, but the Belen was somewhat deeper, and it was
thought they might enter it with safety. Seeing a village on the banks of
the Belen, the admiral sent the boats on shore to procure information.  On
their approach, the inhabitants issued forth with weapons in hand to
oppose their landing, but were readily pacified. They seemed unwilling to
give any intelligence about the gold mines; but, on being importuned,
declared that they lay in the vicinity of the river of Veragua. To that
river the boats were dispatched on the following day. They met with the
reception so frequent along this coast, where many of the tribes were
fierce and warlike, and are supposed to have been of Carib origin. As the
boats entered the river, the natives sallied forth in their canoes, and
others assembled in menacing style on the shores. The Spaniards, however,
had brought with them an Indian of that coast, who put an end to this show
of hostility by assuring his countrymen that the strangers came only to
traffic with them.

The various accounts of the riches of these parts appeared  to be
confirmed by what the Spaniards saw and heard among these people. They
procured in exchange for the veriest trifles twenty plates of gold, with
several pipes of the same metal, and crude masses of ore. The Indians
informed them that the mines lay among distant mountains; and that when
they went in quest of it they were obliged to practice rigorous fasting
and continence. [156]

The favorable report brought by the boats determined the admiral to remain
in the neighborhood. The river Belen having the greatest depth, two of the
caravels entered it on the 9th of January, and the two others on the
following day at high tide, which on that coast does not rise above half a
fathom. [157] The natives came to them in the most friendly manner,
bringing great quantities of fish, with which that river abounded. They
brought also golden ornaments to traffic; but continued to affirm that
Veragua was the place whence the ore was procured.

The Adelantado, with his usual activity and enterprise, set off on the
third day, with the boats well armed, to ascend the Veragua about a league
and a half, to the residence of Quibian, the principal cacique. The
chieftain, hearing of his intention, met him near the entrance of the
river, attended by his subjects, in several canoes. He was tall, of
powerful frame, and warlike demeanor: the interview was extremely
amicable. The cacique presented the Adelantado with the golden ornaments
which he wore, and received as magnificent presents a few European
trinkets. They parted mutually well pleased. On the following day Quibian
visited the ships, where he was hospitably entertained by the admiral.
They could only communicate by signs, and as the chieftain was of a
taciturn and cautious character, the interview was not of long duration.
Columbus made him several presents; the followers of the cacique exchanged
many jewels of gold for the usual trifles, and Quibian returned, without
much ceremony, to his home.

On the 24th of January, there was a sudden swelling of the river. The
waters came rushing from the interior like a vast torrent; the ships were
forced from their anchors, tossed from side to side, and driven against
each other; the foremast of the admiral's vessel was carried away, and the
whole squadron was in imminent danger of shipwreck. While exposed to this
peril in the river, they were prevented from running out to sea by a
violent storm, and by the breakers which beat upon the bar. This sudden
rising of the river, Columbus attributed to some heavy fall of rain among
a range of distant mountains, to which he had given the name of the
mountains of San Christoval. The highest of these rose to a peak far above
the clouds. [158]

The weather continued extremely boisterous for several days. At length, on
the 6th of February, the sea being tolerably calm, the Adelantado,
attended by sixty-eight men well armed, proceeded in the boats to explore
the Veragua, and seek its reputed mines. When he ascended the river and
drew near to the village of Quibian, situated on the side of a hill, the
cacique came down to the bank to meet him, with a great train of his
subjects, unarmed, and making signs of peace. Quibian was naked, and
painted after the fashion of the country. One of his attendants drew a
great stone out of the river, and washed and rubbed it carefully, upon
which the chieftain seated himself as upon a throne. [159] He received the
Adelantado with great courtesy; for the lofty, vigorous, and iron form of
the latter, and his look of resolution and command, were calculated to
inspire awe and respect in an Indian warrior. The cacique, however, was
wary and politic. His jealousy was awakened by the intrusion of these
strangers into his territories; but he saw the futility of any open
attempt to resist them. He acceded to the wishes of the Adelantado,
therefore, to visit the interior of his dominions, and furnished him with
three guides to conduct him to the mines.

Leaving a number of his men to guard the boats, the Adelantado departed on
foot with the remainder. After penetrating into the interior about four
leagues and a half, they slept for the first night on the banks of a
river, which seemed to water the whole country with its windings, as they
had crossed it upwards of forty times. On the second day, they proceeded a
league and a half farther, and arrived among thick forests, where their
guides informed them the mines were situated. In fact, the whole soil
appeared to be impregnated with gold. They gathered it from among the
roots of the trees, which were of an immense height, and magnificent
foliage. In the space of two hours each man had collected a little
quantity of gold, gathered from the surface of the earth. Hence the guides
took the Adelantado to the summit of a high hill, and showing him an
extent of country as far as the eye could reach, assured him that the
whole of it, to the distance of twenty days' journey westward, abounded in
gold, naming to him several of the principal places. [160] The Adelantado
gazed with enraptured eye over a vast wilderness of continued forest, where
only here and there a bright column of smoke from amidst the trees gave
sign of some savage hamlet, or solitary wigwam, and the wild unappropriated
aspect of this golden country delighted him more than if he had beheld it
covered with towns and cities, and adorned with all the graces of
cultivation. He returned with his party, in high spirits, to the ships, and
rejoiced the admiral with the favorable report of his expedition. It was
soon discovered, however, that the politic Quibian had deceived them. His
guides, by his instructions, had taken the Spaniards to the mines of a
neighboring cacique with whom he was at war, hoping to divert them into the
territories of his enemy. The real mines of Veragua, it was said, were
nearer and much more wealthy.

The indefatigable Adelantado set forth again on the 16th of February, with
an armed band of fifty-nine men, marching along the coast westward, a boat
with fourteen men keeping pace with him. In this excursion he explored an
extensive tract of country, and visited the dominions of various caciques,
by whom he was hospitably entertained. He met continually with proofs of
abundance of gold; the natives generally wearing great plates of it
suspended round their necks by cotton cords. There were tracts of land,
also, cultivated with Indian corn,--one of which continued for the extent
of six leagues; and the country abounded with excellent fruits. He again
heard of a nation in the interior, advanced in arts and arms, wearing
clothing, and being armed like the Spaniards. Either these were vague and
exaggerated rumors concerning the great empire of Peru, or the Adelantado
had misunderstood the signs of his informants. He returned, after an
absence of several days, with a great quantity of gold, and with animating
accounts of the country. He had found no port, however, equal to the river
of Belen, and was convinced that gold was nowhere to be met with in such
abundance as in the district of Veragua [161].

Chapter VII.

Commencement of a Settlement on the River Belen.--Conspiracy of the
Natives.--Expedition of the Adelantado to Surprise Quiban.


The reports brought to Columbus, from every side, of the wealth of the
neighborhood; the golden tract of twenty days' journey in extent, shown to
his brother from the mountain; the rumors of a rich and civilized country
at no great distance, all convinced him that he had reached one of the
most favored parts of the Asiatic continent. Again his ardent mind kindled
up with glowing anticipations. He fancied himself arrived at a
fountain-head of riches, at one of the sources of the unbounded wealth of
King Solomon. Josephus, in his work on the antiquities of the Jews, had
expressed an opinion, that the gold for the building of the temple of
Jerusalem had been procured from the mines of the Aurea Chersonesus.
Columbus supposed the mines of Veragua to be the same. They lay, as he
observed, "within the same distance from the pole and from the line;" and
if the information which he fancied he had received from the Indians was
to be depended on, they were situated about the same distance from the
Ganges [162].

Here, then, it appeared to him, was a place at which to found a colony,
and establish a mart that should become the emporium of a vast tract of
mines. Within the two first days after his arrival in the country, as he
wrote to the sovereigns, he had seen more signs of gold than in Hispaniola
during four years. That island, so long the object of his pride and hopes,
had been taken from him, and was a scene of confusion; the pearl coast of
Paria was ravaged by mere adventurers; all his plans concerning both had
been defeated; but here was a far more wealthy region than either, and one
calculated to console him for all his wrongs and deprivations.

On consulting with his brother, therefore, he resolved immediately to
commence an establishment here, for the purpose of securing the possession
of the country, and exploring and working the mines. The Adelantado agreed
to remain with the greater part of the people, while the admiral should
return to Spain for reinforcements and supplies. The greatest dispatch was
employed in carrying this plan into immediate operation. Eighty men were
selected to remain. They were separated into parties of about ten each,
and commenced building houses on a small eminence, situated on the bank of
a creek, about a bow-shot within the mouth of the river Belen. The houses
were of wood, thatched with the leaves of palm-trees. One larger than the
rest was to serve as a magazine, to receive their ammunition, artillery,
and a part of their provisions. The principal part was stored, for greater
security, on board of one of the caravels, which was to be left for the
use of the colony. It was true they had but a scanty supply of European
stores remaining, consisting chiefly of biscuit, cheese, pulse, wine, oil,
and vinegar; but the country produced bananas, plantains, pine-apples,
cocoanuts, and other fruit. There was also maize in abundance, together
with various roots, such as were found in Hispaniola. The rivers and
sea-coast abounded with fish. The natives, too, made beverages of various
kinds. One from the juice of the pine-apple, having a vinous flavor;
another from maize, resembling beer; and another from the fruit of a
species of palm-tree. [163] There appeared to be no danger, therefore,
of suffering from famine. Columbus took pains to conciliate the good-will
of the Indians, that they might supply the wants of the colony during his
absence, and he made many presents to Quibian, by way of reconciling him
to this intrusion into his territories. [164]

The necessary arrangements being made for the colony, and a number of the
houses being roofed, and sufficiently finished for occupation, the admiral
prepared for his departure, when an unlooked-for obstacle presented
itself. The heavy rains which had so long distressed him during this
expedition had recently ceased. The torrents from the mountains were over;
and the river which had once put him to such peril by its sudden swelling,
had now become so shallow that there was not above half a fathom water on
the bar. Though his vessels were small, it was impossible to draw them
over the sands, which choked the mouth of the river, for there was a swell
rolling and tumbling upon them, enough to dash his worm-eaten barks to
pieces. He was obliged, therefore, to wait with patience, and pray for the
return of those rains which he had lately deplored.

In the meantime, Quibian beheld, with secret jealousy and indignation,
these strangers erecting habitations, and manifesting an intention of
establishing themselves in his territories. He was of a bold and warlike
spirit, and had a great force of warriors at his command; and being
ignorant of the vast superiority of the Europeans in the art of war,
thought it easy, by a well-concerted artifice, to overwhelm and destroy
them. He sent messengers round, and ordered all his fighting-men to
assemble at his residence on the river Veragua, under pretext of making
war upon a neighboring province. Numbers of the warriors, in repairing to
his headquarters, passed by the harbor. No suspicions of their real design
were entertained by Columbus or his officers; but their movements
attracted the attention of the chief notary, Diego Mendez, a man of a
shrewd and prying character, and zealously devoted to the admiral.
Doubting some treachery, he communicated his surmises to Columbus, and
offered to coast along in an armed boat to the river Veragua, and
reconnoitre the Indian camp. His offer was accepted, and he sallied from
the river accordingly, but had scarcely advanced a league, when he
descried a large force of Indians on the shore. Landing alone, and
ordering that the boat should be kept afloat, he entered among them. There
were about a thousand armed and supplied with provisions, as if for an
expedition. He offered to accompany them with his armed boat; his offer
was declined with evident signs of impatience. Returning to his boat, he
kept watch upon them all night, until, seeing they were vigilantly
observed, they returned to Veragua.

Mendez hastened back to the admiral, and gave it as his opinion that the
Indians had been on their way to surprise the Spaniards. The admiral was
loth to believe in such treachery, and was desirous of obtaining clearer
information, before he took any step that might interrupt the apparently
good understanding that existed with the natives. Mendez now undertook,
with a single companion, to penetrate by land to the headquarters of
Quibian, and endeavor to ascertain his intentions. Accompanied by one
Rodrigo de Escobar, he proceeded on foot along the seaboard, to avoid the
tangled forests, and arriving at the mouth of the Veragua, found two
canoes with Indians, whom he prevailed on, by presents, to convey him and
his companion to the village of the cacique. It was on the bank of the
river; the houses were detached and interspersed among trees. There was a
bustle of warlike preparation in the place, and the arrival of the two
Spaniards evidently excited surprise and uneasiness. The residence of the
cacique was larger than the others, and situated on a hill which rose from
the water's edge. Quibian was confined to the house by indisposition,
having been wounded in the leg by an arrow. Mendez gave himself out as a
surgeon come to cure the wound: with great difficulty and by force of
presents he obtained permission to proceed. On the crest of the hill and
in front of the cacique's dwelling, was a broad, level, open place, round
which, on posts, were the heads of three hundred enemies slain in battle.
Undismayed by this dismal array, Mendez and his companion crossed the
place towards the den of this grim warrior. A number of women and children
about the door fled into the house with piercing cries. A young and
powerful Indian, son of the cacique, sallied forth in a violent rage, and
struck Mendez a blow which made him recoil several paces. The latter
pacified him by presents and assurances that he came to cure his father's
wound, in proof of which he produced a box of ointment. It was impossible,
however, to gain access to the cacique, and Mendez returned with all haste
to the harbor to report to the admiral what he had seen and learnt. It was
evident there was a dangerous plot impending over the Spaniards, and as
far as Mendez could learn from the Indians who had taken him up the river
in their canoe, the body of a thousand warriors which he had seen on his
previous reconnoitring expedition, had actually been on a hostile
enterprise against the harbor, but had given it up on finding themselves

This information was confirmed by an Indian of the neighborhood, who had
become attached to the Spaniards and acted as interpreter. He revealed to
the admiral the designs of his countrymen, which he had overheard. Quibian
intended to surprise the harbor at night with a great force, burn the
ships and houses, and make a general massacre. Thus forewarned, Columbus
immediately set a double watch upon the harbor. The military spirit of the
Adelantado suggested a bolder expedient. The hostile plan of Quibian was
doubtless delayed by his wound, and in the meantime he would maintain the
semblance of friendship. The Adelantado determined to march at once to his
residence, capture him, his family, and principal warriors, send them
prisoners to Spain, and take possession of his village.

With the Adelantado, to conceive a plan was to carry it into immediate
execution, and, in fact, the impending danger admitted of no delay. Taking
with him seventy-four men, well armed, among whom was Diego Mendez, and
being accompanied by the Indian interpreter who had revealed the plot, he
set off on the 30th of March, in boats, to the mouth of the Veragua,
ascended it rapidly, and before the Indians could have notice of his
movements, landed at the foot of the hill on which the house of Quibian
was situated.

Lest the cacique should take alarm and fly at the sight of a large force,
he ascended the hill, accompanied by only five men, among whom was Diego
Mendez; ordering the rest to come on, with great caution and secrecy, two
at a time, and at a distance from each other. On the discharge of an
arquebuse, they were to surround the dwelling and suffer no one to escape.

As the Adelantado drew near to the house, Quibian came forth, and seating
himself in the portal, desired the Adelantado to approach singly. Don
Bartholomew now ordered Diego Mendez and his four companions to remain at
a little distance, and when they should see him take the cacique by the
arm, to rush immediately to his assistance. He then advanced with his
Indian interpreter, through whom a short conversation took place, relative
to the surrounding country. The Adelantado then adverted to the wound of
the cacique, and pretending to examine it, took him by the arm. At the
concerted signal four of the Spaniards rushed forward, the fifth
discharged the arquebuse. The cacique attempted to get loose, but was
firmly held in the iron grasp of the Adelantado. Being both men of great
muscular power, a violent struggle ensued. Don Bartholomew, however,
maintained the mastery, and Diego Mendez and his companions coming to his
assistance, Quibian was bound hand and foot. At the report of the
arquebuse, the main body of the Spaniards surrounded the house, and seized
most of those who were within, consisting of fifty persons, old and young.
Among these were the wives and children of Quibian, and several of his
principal subjects. No one was wounded, for there was no resistance, and
the Adelantado never permitted wanton bloodshed. When the poor savages saw
their prince a captive, they filled the air with lamentations; imploring
his release, and offering for his ransom a great treasure, which they said
lay concealed in a neighboring forest.

The Adelantado was deaf to their supplications and their offers. Quibian
was too dangerous a foe to be set at liberty; as a prisoner, he would be a
hostage for the security of the settlement. Anxious to secure his prize,
he determined to send the cacique and the other prisoners on board of the
boats, while he remained on shore with a part of his men to pursue the
Indians who had escaped. Juan Sanchez, the principal pilot of the
squadron, a powerful and spirited man, volunteered to take charge of the
captives. On committing the chieftain to his care, the Adelantado warned
him to be on his guard against any attempt at rescue or escape. The sturdy
pilot replied that if the cacique got out of his hands, he would give them
leave to pluck out his beard, hair by hair; with this vaunt he departed,
bearing off Quibian bound hand and foot. On arriving at the boat, he
secured him by a strong cord to one of the benches. It was a dark night.
As the boat proceeded down the river, the cacique complained piteously of
the painfulness of his bonds. The rough heart of the pilot was touched
with compassion, and he loosened the cord by which Quibian was tied to the
bench, keeping the end of it in his hand. The wily Indian watched his
opportunity, and when Sanchez was looking another way, plunged into the
water and disappeared. So sudden and violent was his plunge, that the
pilot had to let go the cord, lest he should be drawn in after him. The
darkness of the night, and the bustle which took place, in preventing the
escape of the other prisoners, rendered it impossible to pursue the
cacique, or even to ascertain his fate. Juan Sanchez hastened to the ships
with the residue of the captives, deeply mortified at being thus outwitted
by a savage.

The Adelantado remained all night on shore. The following morning, when he
beheld the wild, broken, and mountainous nature of the country, and the
scattered situation of the habitations, perched on different heights, he
gave up the search after the Indians, and returned to the ships with the
spoils of the cacique's mansion. These consisted of bracelets, anklets,
and massive plates of gold, such as were worn round the neck, together
with two golden coronets. The whole amounted to the value of three hundred
ducats. [165]  One fifth of the booty was set apart for the
crown. The residue was shared among those concerned in the enterprise. To
the Adelantado one of the coronets was assigned, as a trophy of his
exploit. [166]

Chapter VIII.

Disasters of the Settlement.


It was hoped by Columbus that the vigorous measure of the Adelantado would
strike terror into the Indians of the neighborhood, and prevent any
further designs upon the settlement. Quibian had probably perished. If he
survived, he must be disheartened by the captivity of his family, and
several of his principal subjects, and fearful of their being made
responsible for any act of violence on his part. The heavy rains,
therefore, which fall so frequently among the mountains of this isthmus,
having again swelled the river, Columbus made his final arrangements for
the management of the colony, and having given much wholesome counsel to
the Spaniards who were to remain, and taken an affectionate leave of his
brother, got under weigh with three of the caravels, leaving the fourth
for the use of the settlement. As the water was still shallow at the bar,
the ships were lightened of a great part of their cargoes, and towed out
by the boats in calm weather, grounding repeatedly. When fairly released
from the river, and their cargoes re-shipped, they anchored within a
league of the shore, to await a favorable wind. It was the intention of
the admiral to touch at Hispaniola, on his way to Spain, and send thence
supplies and reinforcements. The wind continuing adverse, he sent a boat
on shore on the 6th of April, under the command of Diego Tristan, captain
of one of the caravels, to procure wood and water, and make some
communications to the Adelantado. The expedition of this boat proved fatal
to its crew, but was providential to the settlement.

The cacique Quibian had not perished as some had supposed. Though both
hands and feet were bound, yet in the water he was as in his natural
element. Plunging to the bottom, he swam below the surface until
sufficiently distant to be out of view in the darkness of the night, and
then emerging made his way to shore. The desolation of his home, and the
capture of his wives and children, filled him with anguish; but when he
saw the vessels in which they were confined leaving the river, and bearing
them off, he was transported with fury and despair. Determined on a signal
vengeance, he assembled a great number of his warriors, and came secretly
upon the settlement. The thick woods by which it was surrounded enabled
the Indians to approach unseen within ten paces. The Spaniards, thinking
the enemy completely discomfited and dispersed, were perfectly off their
guard. Some had strayed to the sea-shore, to take a farewell look at the
ships; some were on board of the caravel in the river; others were
scattered about the houses: on a sudden, the Indians rushed from their
concealment with yells and howlings, launched their javelins through the
roofs of palm-leaves, hurled them in at the windows, or thrust them
through the crevices of the logs which composed the walls. As the houses
were small, several of the inhabitants were wounded. On the first alarm,
the Adelantado seized a lance, and sallied forth with seven or eight of
his men. He was joined by Diego Mendez and several of his companions, and
they drove the enemy into the forest, killing and wounding several of
them. The Indians kept up a brisk fire of darts and arrows from among the
trees, and made furious sallies with their war-clubs; but there was no
withstanding the keen edge of the Spanish weapons, and a fierce blood-hound
being let loose upon them, completed their terror. They fled howling
through the forest, leaving a number dead on the field, having killed one
Spaniard, and wounded eight. Among the latter was the Adelantado, who
received a slight thrust of a javelin in the breast.

Diego Tristan arrived in his boat during the contest, but feared to
approach the land, lest the Spaniards should rush on board in such numbers
as to sink him. When the Indians had been put to flight, he proceeded up
the river in quest of fresh water, disregarding the warnings of those on
shore, that he might be cut off by the enemy in their canoes.

The river was deep and narrow, shut in by high banks, and overhanging
trees. The forests on each side were thick and impenetrable; so that there
was no landing-place, excepting here and there where a footpath wound down
to some fishing-ground, or some place where the natives kept their canoes.

The boat had ascended about a league above the village, to a part of the
river where it was completely overshadowed by lofty banks and spreading
trees. Suddenly, yells and war-whoops and blasts of conch shells rose on
every side. Light canoes darted forth in every direction from dark
hollows, and overhanging thickets, each dextrously managed by a single
savage, while others stood up brandishing and hurling their lances.
Missiles were launched also from the banks of the river, and the branches
of the trees. There were eight sailors in the boat, and three soldiers.
Galled and wounded by darts and arrows, confounded by the yells and blasts
of conchs, and the assaults which thickened from every side, they lost all
presence of mind, neglected to use either oars or fire-arms, and only
sought to shelter themselves with their bucklers. Diego Tristan had
received several wounds; but still displayed great intrepidity, and was
endeavoring to animate his men, when a javelin pierced his right eye; and
struck him dead. The canoes now closed upon the boat, and a general
massacre ensued. But one Spaniard escaped, Juan de Noya, a cooper of
Seville. Having fallen overboard in the midst of the action, he dived to
the bottom, swam under water, gained the bank of the river unperceived,
and made his way down to the settlement, bringing tidings of the massacre
of his captain and comrades.

The Spaniards were completely dismayed, were few in number, several of
them were wounded, and they were in the midst of tribes of exasperated
savages, far more fierce and warlike than those to whom they had been
accustomed. The admiral, being ignorant of their misfortunes, would sail
away without yielding them assistance, and they would be left to sink
beneath the overwhelming force of barbarous foes, or to perish with hunger
on this inhospitable coast. In their despair they determined to take the
caravel which had been left with them, and abandon the place altogether.
The Adelantado remonstrated with them in vain; nothing would content them
but to put to sea immediately. Here a new alarm awaited them. The torrents
having subsided, the river was again shallow, and it was impossible for
the caravel to pass over the bar. They now took the boat of the caravel,
to bear tidings of their danger to the admiral, and implore him not to
abandon them; but the wind was boisterous, a high sea was rolling, and a
heavy surf, tumbling and breaking at the mouth of the river, prevented the
boat from getting out. Horrors increased upon them. The mangled bodies of
Diego Tristan and his men came floating down the stream, and drifting
about the harbor, with flights of crows, and other carrion birds, feeding
on them, and hovering, and screaming, and fighting about their prey. The
forlorn Spaniards contemplated this scene with shuddering; it appeared
ominous of their own fate.

In the meantime the Indians, elated by their triumph over the crew of the
boat, renewed their hostilities. Whoops and yells answered each other from
various parts of the neighborhood. The dismal sound of conchs and
war-drums in the deep bosom of the woods showed that the number of the
enemy was continually augmenting. They would rush forth occasionally upon
straggling parties of Spaniards, and make partial attacks upon the houses.
It was considered no longer safe to remain in the settlement, the close
forest which surrounded it being a covert for the approaches of the enemy.
The Adelantado chose, therefore, an open place on the shore at some
distance from the wood. Here he caused a kind of bulwark to be made of the
boat of the caravel, and of chests, casks, and similar articles. Two
places were left open as embrasures, in which were placed a couple of
falconets, or small pieces of artillery, in such a manner as to command
the neighborhood. In this little fortress the Spaniards shut themselves
up; its walls were sufficient to screen them from the darts and arrows of
the Indians, but mostly they depended upon their firearms, the sound of
which struck dismay into the savages, especially when they saw the effect
of the balls, splintering and rending the trees around them, and carrying
havoc to such a distance. The Indians were thus kept in check for the
present, and deterred from venturing from the forest; but the Spaniards,
exhausted by constant watching and incessant alarms, anticipated all kinds
of evil when their ammunition should be exhausted, or they should be
driven forth by hunger to seek for food. [167]

Chapter IX.

Distress of the Admiral on Board of His Ship.--Ultimate Relief of the


While the Adelantado and his men were exposed to such imminent peril on
shore, great anxiety prevailed on board of the ships. Day after day
elapsed without the return of Diego Tristan and his party, and it was
feared some disaster had befallen them. Columbus would have sent on shore
to make inquiries; but there was only one boat remaining for the service
of the squadron, and he dared not risk it in the rough sea and heavy surf.
A dismal circumstance occurred to increase the gloom and uneasiness of the
crews. On hoard of one of the caravels were confined the family and
household of the cacique Quibian. It was the intention of Columbus to
carry them to Spain, trusting that as long as they remained in the power
of the Spaniards, their tribe would be deterred from further hostilities.
They were shut up at night in the forecastle of the caravel, the hatchway
of which was secured by a strong chain and padlock. As several of the crew
slept upon the hatch, and it was so high as to be considered out of reach
of the prisoners, they neglected to fasten the chain. The Indians
discovered their negligence. Collecting a quantity of stones from the
ballast of the vessel, they made a great heap directly under the hatchway.
Several of the most powerful warriors mounted upon the top, and, bending
their backs, by a sudden and simultaneous effort forced up the hatch,
flinging the seamen who slept upon it to the opposite side of the ship. In
an instant the greater part of the Indians sprang forth, plunged into the
sea, and swam for shore. Several, however, were prevented from sallying
forth; others were seized on the deck, and forced back into the
forecastle; the hatchway was carefully chained down, and a guard was set
for the rest of the night. In the morning, when the Spaniards went to
examine the captives, they were all found dead. Some had hanged themselves
with the ends of ropes, their knees touching the floor; others had
strangled themselves by straining the cords tight with their feet. Such
was the fierce, unconquerable spirit of these people, and their horror of
the white men. [168]

The escape of the prisoners occasioned great anxiety to the admiral,
fearing they would stimulate their countrymen to some violent act of
vengeance; and he trembled for the safety of his brother. Still this
painful mystery reigned over the land. The boat of Diego Tristan did not
return, and the raging surf prevented all communication. At length, one
Pedro Ledesma, a pilot of Seville, a man of about forty-five years of age,
and of great strength of body and mind, offered, if the boat would take
him to the edge of the surf, to swim to shore, and bring off news. He had
been piqued by the achievement of the Indian captives, in swimming to land
at a league's distance, in defiance of sea and surf. "Surely," he said,
"if they dare venture so much to procure their individual liberties, I
ought to brave at least a part of the danger, to save the lives of so many
companions." His offer was gladly accepted by the admiral, and was boldly
accomplished. The boat approached with him as near to the surf as safety
would permit, where it was to await his return. Here, stripping himself,
he plunged into the sea, and after buffeting for some time with the
breakers, sometimes rising upon their surges, sometimes buried beneath
them and dashed upon the sand, he succeeded in reaching the shore.

He found his countrymen shut up in their forlorn fortress, beleaguered by
savage foes, and learnt the tragical fate of Diego Tristan and his
companions. Many of the Spaniards, in their horror and despair, had thrown
off all subordination, refused to assist in any measure that had in view a
continuance in this place, and thought of nothing but escape. When they
beheld Ledesma, a messenger from the ships, they surrounded him with
frantic eagerness, urging him to implore the admiral to take them on
board, and not abandon them on a coast where their destruction was
inevitable. They were preparing canoes to take them to the ships, when the
weather should moderate, the boat of the caravel being too small; and
swore that, if the admiral refused to take them on board, they would
embark in the caravel, as soon as it could be extricated from the river,
and abandon themselves to the mercy of the seas, rather than remain upon
that fatal coast.

Having heard all that his forlorn countrymen had to say, and communicated
with the Adelantado and his officers, Ledesma set out on his perilous
return. He again braved the surf and the breakers, reached the boat which
was waiting for him, and was conveyed back to the ships. The disastrous
tidings from the land filled the heart of the admiral with grief and
alarm. To leave his brother on shore would be to expose him to the mutiny
of his own men, and the ferocity of the savages. He could spare no
reinforcement from his ships, the crews being so much weakened by the loss
of Tristan and his companions. Rather than the settlement should be broken
up, he would gladly have joined the Adelantado with all his people; but in
such case how could intelligence be conveyed to the sovereigns of this
important discovery, and how could supplies be obtained from Spain? There
appeared no alternative, therefore, but to embark all the people, abandon
the settlement for the present, and return at some future day, with a
force competent to take secure possession of the country. [169] The state
of the weather rendered the practicability even of this plan doubtful. The
wind continued high, the sea rough, and no boat could pass between the
squadron and the land. The situation of the ships was itself a matter of
extreme solicitude. Feebly manned, crazed by storms, and ready to fall to
pieces from the ravages of the teredo, they were anchored on a lee shore,
with a boisterous wind and sea, in a climate subject to tempests, and
where the least augmentation of the weather might drive them among the
breakers. Every hour increased the anxiety of Columbus for his brother,
his people, and his ships, and each hour appeared to render the impending
dangers more imminent. Days of constant perturbation, and nights of
sleepless anxiety, preyed upon a constitution broken by age, by maladies,
and hardships, and produced a fever of the mind, in which he was visited
by one of those mental hallucinations deemed by him mysterious and
supernatural. In a letter to the sovereigns he gives a solemn account of
a kind of vision by which he was comforted in a dismal night, when full
of despondency and tossing on a couch of pain:----

"Wearied and sighing," says he, "I fell into a slumber, when I heard a
piteous voice saying to me, 'O fool, and slow to believe and serve thy
God, who is the God of all! What did he more for Moses, or for his servant
David, than he has done for thee? From the time of thy birth he has ever
had thee under his peculiar care. When he saw thee of a fitting age, he
made thy name to resound marvelously throughout the earth, and thou wert
obeyed in many lands, and didst acquire honorable fame among Christians.
Of the gates of the Ocean Sea, shut up with such mighty chains, he
delivered thee the keys; the Indies, those wealthy regions of the world,
he gave thee for thine own, and empowered thee to dispose of them to
others, according to thy pleasure. What did he more for the great people
of Israel when he led them forth from Egypt? Or for David, whom, from
being a shepherd, he made a king in Judea? Turn to him, then, and
acknowledge thine error; his mercy is infinite. He has many and vast
inheritances yet in reserve. Fear not to seek them. Thine age shall be no
impediment to any great undertaking. Abraham was above an hundred years
when he begat Isaac; and was Sarah youthful? Thou urgest despondingly for
succor. Answer! who hath afflicted thee so much, and so many times?--God,
or the world? The privileges and promises which God hath made thee he hath
never broken; neither hath he said, after having received thy services,
that his meaning was different, and to be understood in a different sense.
He performs to the very letter. He fulfills all that he promises, and with
increase. Such is his custom. I have shown thee what thy creator hath done
for thee, and what he doeth for all. The present is the reward of the
toils and perils thou hast endured in serving others.' I heard all this,"
adds Columbus, "as one almost dead, and had no power to reply to words so
true, excepting to weep for my errors. Whoever it was that spake to me,
finished by saying, 'Fear not! Confide! All these tribulations are written
in marble, and not without cause.'"

Such is the singular statement which Columbus gave to the sovereigns of
his supposed vision. It has been suggested that this was a mere ingenious
fiction, adroitly devised by him to convey a lesson to his prince; but
such an idea is inconsistent with his character. He was too deeply imbued
with awe of the Deity, and with reverence for his sovereign, to make use
of such an artifice. The words here spoken to him by the supposed voice,
are truths which dwelt upon his mind, and grieved his spirit during his
waking hours. It is natural that they should recur vividly and coherently
in his feverish dreams; and in recalling and relating a dream one is
unconsciously apt to give it a little coherency. Besides, Columbus had a
solemn belief that he was a peculiar instrument in the hands of
Providence, which, together with a deep tinge of superstition, common to
the age, made him prone to mistake every striking dream for a revelation.
He is not to be measured by the same standard with ordinary men in
ordinary circumstances. It is difficult for the mind to realize his
situation, and to conceive the exaltations of spirit to which he must have
been subjected. The artless manner in which, in his letter to the
sovereigns, he mingles up the rhapsodies and dreams of his imagination,
with simple facts, and sound practical observations, pouring them forth
with a kind of scriptural solemnity and poetry of language, is one of the
most striking illustrations of a character richly compounded of
extraordinary and apparently contradictory elements.

Immediately after this supposed vision, and after a duration of nine days,
the boisterous weather subsided, the sea became calm, and the
communication with the land was restored. It was found impossible to
extricate the remaining caravel from the river; but every exertion was
made to bring off the people, and the property, before there should be a
return of bad weather. In this, the exertions of the zealous Diego Mendez
were eminently efficient. He had been for some days preparing for such an
emergency. Cutting up the sails of the caravel, he made great sacks to
receive the biscuit. He lashed two Indian canoes together with spars, so
that they could not be overturned by the waves, and made a platform on
them capable of sustaining a great burden. This kind of raft was laden
repeatedly with the stores, arms, and ammunition, which had been left on
shore, and with the furniture of the caravel, which was entirely
dismantled. When well freighted, it was towed by the boat to the ships. In
this way, by constant and sleepless exertions, in the space of two days,
almost every thing of value was transported on board the squadron, and
little else left than the hull of the caravel, stranded, decayed, and
rotting in the river. Diego Mendez superintended the whole embarkation
with unwearied watchfulness and activity. He, and five companions, were
the last to leave the shore, remaining all night at their perilous post,
and embarking in the morning with the last cargo of effects.

Nothing could equal the transports of the Spaniards, when they found
themselves once more on board of the ships, and saw a space of ocean
between them and those forests which had lately seemed destined to be
their graves. The joy of their comrades seemed little inferior to their
own; and the perils and hardships which yet surrounded them, were
forgotten for a time in mutual congratulations. The admiral was so much
impressed with a sense of the high services rendered by Diego Mendez,
throughout the late time of danger and disaster, that he gave him the
command of the caravel, vacant by the death of the unfortunate Diego
Tristan. [170]

Chapter X.

Departure from the Coast of Veragua.--Arrival at Jamaica.--Stranding of
the Ships.


The wind at length becoming favorable, Columbus set sail, towards the end
of April, from the disastrous coast of Veragua. The wretched condition of
the ships, the enfeebled state of the crews, and the scarcity of
provisions, determined him to make the best of his way to Hispaniola,
where he might refit his vessels and procure the necessary supplies for
the voyage to Europe. To the surprise of his pilot and crews, however, on
making sail, he stood again along the coast to the eastward, instead of
steering north, which they considered the direct route to Hispaniola. They
fancied that he intended to proceed immediately for Spain, and murmured
loudly at the madness of attempting so long a voyage, with ships destitute
of stores and consumed by the worms. Columbus and his brother, however,
had studied the navigation of those seas with a more observant and
experienced eye. They considered it advisable to gain a considerable
distance to the east, before standing across for Hispaniola, to avoid
being swept away, far below their destined port, by the strong currents
setting constantly to the west. [171] The admiral, however, did not impart
his reasons to the pilots, being anxious to keep the knowledge of his
routes as much to himself as possible, seeing that there were so many
adventurers crowding into the field, and ready to follow on his track. He
even took from the mariners their charts, [172] and boasts, in a letter to
the sovereigns, that none of his pilots would be able to retrace the route
to and from Veragua, nor to describe where it was situated.

Disregarding the murmurs of his men, therefore, he continued along the
coast eastward as far as Puerto Bello. Here he was obliged to leave one of
the caravels, being so pierced by worms, that it was impossible to keep
her afloat. All the crews were now crowded into two caravels, and these
were little better than mere wrecks. The utmost exertions were necessary
to keep them free from water; while the incessant labor of the pumps bore
hard on men enfeebled by scanty diet, and dejected by various hardships.
Continuing onward, they passed Port Retrete, and a number of islands to
which the admiral gave the name of Las Barbas, now termed the Mulatas, a
little beyond Point Blas. Here he supposed that he had arrived at the
province of Mangi in the territories of the Grand Khan, described by Marco
Polo as adjoining to Cathay. [173] He continued on about ten leagues
farther, until he approached the entrance of what is at present called
the Gulf of Darien. Here he had a consultation with his captains and
pilots, who remonstrated at his persisting in this struggle against
contrary winds and currents, representing the lamentable plight of the
ships, and the infirm state of the crews. [174] Bidding farewell,
therefore, to the main-land, he stood northward on the 1st of May, in
quest of Hispaniola. As the wind was easterly, with a strong current
setting to the west, he kept as near the wind as possible. So little did
his pilots know of their situation, that they supposed themselves to the
east of the Caribbee Islands, whereas the admiral feared that, with all
his exertions, he should fall to the westward of Hispaniola. [175] His
apprehensions proved to be well founded; for, on the 10th of the month,
he came in sight of two small low islands to the northwest of
 Hispaniola, to which, from the great quantities of tortoises seen about
them, he gave the name of the Tortugas; they are now known as the Caymans.
Passing wide of these, and continuing directly north, he found himself, on
the 30th of May, among the cluster of islands on the south side of Cuba,
to which he had formerly given the name of the Queen's Gardens; having
been carried between eight and nine degrees west of his destined port.
Here he cast anchor near one of the Keys, about ten leagues from the main
island. His crews were suffering excessively through scanty provisions and
great fatigue; nothing was left of the sea-stores but a little biscuit,
oil, and vinegar; and they were obliged to labor incessantly at the pumps,
to keep the vessels afloat. They had scarcely anchored at these islands,
when there came on, at midnight, a sudden tempest, of such violence, that,
according to the strong expression of Columbus, it seemed as if the world
would dissolve. [176] They lost three of their anchors almost immediately,
and the caravel Bermuda was driven with such violence upon the ship of
the admiral, that the bow of the one, and the stern of the other, were
greatly shattered. The sea running high, and the wind being boisterous,
the vessels chafed and injured each other dreadfully, and it was with
great difficulty that they were separated. One anchor only remained to
the admiral's ship, and this saved him from being driven upon the rocks;
but at daylight the cable was found nearly worn asunder. Had the darkness
continued an hour longer, he could scarcely have escaped shipwreck. [177]

At the end of six days, the weather having moderated, he resumed his
course, standing eastward for Hispaniola: "his people," as he says,
"dismayed and down-hearted; almost all his anchors lost, and his vessels
bored as full of holes as a honeycomb." After struggling against contrary
winds and the usual currents from the east, he reached Cape Cruz, and
anchored at a village in the province of Macaca, [178] where he had
touched in 1494, in his voyage along the southern coast of Cuba. Here he
was detained by head winds for several days, during which he was supplied
with cassava bread by the natives. Making sail again, he endeavored to
beat up to Hispaniola; but every effort was in vain. The winds and
currents continued adverse; the leaks continually gained upon his
vessels, though the pumps were kept incessantly going, and the seamen
even baled the water out with buckets and kettles. The admiral now stood,
in despair, for the island of Jamaica, to seek some secure port; for
there was imminent danger of foundering at sea. On the eve of St. John,
the 23d of June, they put into Puerto Bueno, now called Dry Harbor, but
met with none of the natives from whom they could obtain provisions, nor
was there any fresh water to be had in the neighborhood. Suffering from
hunger and thirst, they sailed eastward, on the following day, to another
harbor, to which the admiral on his first visit to the island had given
the name of Port Santa Gloria.

Here, at last, Columbus had to give up his long and arduous struggle
against the unremitting persecution of the elements. His ships, reduced to
mere wrecks, could no longer keep the sea, and were ready to sink even in
port. He ordered them, therefore, to be run aground, within a bow-shot of
the shore, and fastened together, side by side. They soon filled with
water to the decks. Thatched cabins were then erected at the prow and
stern for the accommodation of the crews, and the wreck was placed in the
best possible state of defence. Thus castled in the sea, he trusted to be
able to repel any sudden attack of the natives, and at the same time to
keep his men from roving about the neighborhood and indulging in their
usual excesses. No one was allowed to go on shore without especial
license, and the utmost precaution was taken to prevent any offence being
given to the Indians. Any exasperation of them might be fatal to the
Spaniards in their present forlorn situation. A firebrand thrown into
their wooden fortress might wrap it in flames, and leave them defenceless
amidst hostile thousands.

Book XVI.

Chapter I.

Arrangement of Diego Mendez with the Caciques for Supplies of Provisions.
--Sent to San Domingo by Columbus in Quest of Relief.


The island of Jamaica was extremely populous and fertile; and the harbor
soon swarmed with Indians, who brought provisions to barter with the
Spaniards. To prevent any disputes in purchasing or sharing these
supplies, two persons were appointed to superintend all bargains, and the
provisions thus obtained were divided every evening among the people. This
arrangement had a happy effect in promoting a peaceful intercourse. The
stores thus furnished, however, coming from a limited neighborhood of
improvident beings, were not sufficient for the necessities of the
Spaniards, and were so irregular as often to leave them in pinching want.
They feared, too, that the neighborhood might soon be exhausted, in which
case they should be reduced to famine. In this emergency, Diego Mendez
stepped forward with his accustomed zeal, and volunteered to set off, with
three men, on a foraging expedition about the island. His offer being
gladly accepted by the admiral, he departed with his comrades well armed.
He was every where treated with the utmost kindness by the natives. They
took him to their houses, set meat and drink before him and his
companions, and performed all the rites of savage hospitality. Mendez made
an arrangement with the cacique of a numerous tribe, that his subjects
should hunt and fish, and make cassava bread, and bring a quantity of
provisions every day to the harbor. They were to receive, in exchange,
knives, combs, beads, fishhooks, hawks'-bells, and other articles, from a
Spaniard, who was to reside among them for that purpose. The agreement
being made, Mendez dispatched one of his comrades to apprise the admiral.
He then pursued his journey three leagues farther, when he made a similar
arrangement, and dispatched another of his companions to the admiral.
Proceeding onward, about thirteen leagues from the ships, he arrived at
the residence of another cacique, called Huarco, where he was generously
entertained. The cacique ordered his subjects to bring a large quantity of
provisions, for which Mendez paid him on the spot, and made arrangements
for a like supply at stated intervals. He dispatched his third companion
with this supply to the admiral, requesting, as usual, that an agent might
be sent to receive and pay for the regular deliveries of provisions.

Mendez was now left alone, but he was fond of any enterprise that gave
individual distinction. He requested of the cacique two Indians to
accompany him to the end of the island; one to carry his provisions, and
the other to bear the hammac, or cotton net in which he slept. These being
granted, he pushed resolutely forward along the coast, until he reached
the eastern extremity of Jamaica. Here he found a powerful cacique of the
name of Ameyro. Mendez had buoyant spirits, great address, and an
ingratiating manner with the savages. He and the cacique became great
friends, exchanged names, which is a kind of token of brotherhood, and
Mendez engaged him to furnish provisions to the ships. He then bought an
excellent canoe of the cacique, for which he gave a splendid brass basin,
a short frock or cassock, and one of the two shirts which formed his stock
of linen. The cacique furnished him with six Indians to navigate his bark,
and they parted mutually well pleased. Diego Mendez coasted his way back,
touching at the various places where he had made his arrangements. He
found the Spanish agents already arrived at them, loaded his canoe with
provisions, and returned in triumph to the harbor, where he was received
with acclamations by his comrades, and with open arms by the admiral. The
provisions he brought were a most seasonable supply, for the Spaniards
were absolutely fasting; and thenceforward Indians arrived daily, well
laden, from the marts which he had established. [179]

The immediate wants of his people being thus provided for, Columbus
revolved in his anxious mind the means of getting from this island. His
ships were beyond the possibility of repair, and there was no hope of any
chance sail arriving to his relief, on the shores of a savage island, in
an unfrequented sea. The most likely measure appeared to be, to send
notice of his situation to Ovando, the governor at San Domingo, entreating
him to dispatch a vessel to his relief. But how was this message to be
conveyed? The distance between Jamaica and Hispaniola was forty leagues,
across a gulf swept by contrary currents; there were no means of
transporting a messenger, except in the light canoes of the savages; and
who would undertake so hazardous a voyage in a frail bark of the kind?
Suddenly the idea of Diego Mendez, and the canoe he had recently
purchased, presented itself to the mind of Columbus. He knew the ardor and
intrepidity of Mendez, and his love of distinction by any hazardous
exploit. Taking him aside, therefore, he addressed him in a manner
calculated both to stimulate his zeal, and flatter his self-love. Mendez
himself gives an artless account of this interesting conversation, which
is full of character.

"Diego Mendez, my son," said the venerable admiral, "none of those whom I
have here understand the great peril in which we are placed, excepting you
and myself. We are few in number, and these savage Indians are many, and
of fickle and irritable natures. On the least provocation they may throw
firebrands from the shore, and consume us in our straw-thatched cabins.
The arrangement which you have made with them for provisions, and which at
present they fulfill so cheerfully, to-morrow they may break in their
caprice, and may refuse to bring us any thing; nor have we the means to
compel them by force, but are entirely at their pleasure. I have thought
of a remedy, if it meets with your views. In this canoe, which you have
purchased, some one may pass over to Hispaniola, and procure a ship, by
which we may all be delivered from this great peril into which we have
fallen. Tell me your opinion on the matter."

"To this," says Diego Mendez, "I replied: 'Señor, the danger in which we
are placed, I well know, is far greater than is easily conceived. As to
passing from this island to Hispaniola, in so small a vessel as a canoe, I
hold it not merely difficult, but impossible; since it is necessary to
traverse a gulf of forty leagues, and between islands where the sea is
extremely impetuous, and seldom in repose. I know not who there is would
adventure upon so extreme a peril.'"

Columbus made no reply, but from his looks and the nature of his silence,
Mendez plainly perceived himself to be the person whom the admiral had in
view; "Whereupon," continues he, "I added: 'Señor, I have many times put
my life in peril of death to save you and all those who are here, and God
has hitherto preserved me in a miraculous manner. There are, nevertheless,
murmurers, who say that your Excellency intrusts to me all affairs wherein
honor is to be gained, while there are others in your company who would
execute them as well as I do. Therefore I beg that you would summon all
the people, and propose this enterprise to them, to see if among them
there is any one who will undertake it, which I doubt. If all decline it,
I will then come forward and risk my life in your service, as I many times
have done.'" [180]

The admiral gladly humored the wishes of the worthy Mendez, for never was
simple egotism accompanied by more generous and devoted loyalty. On the
following morning, the crew was assembled, and the proposition publicly
made. Every one drew back at the thoughts of it, pronouncing it the height
of rashness. Upon this, Diego Mendez stepped forward. "Señor," said he, "I
have but one life to lose, yet I am willing to venture it for your service
and for the good of all here present, and I trust in the protection of
God, which I have experienced on so many other occasions."

Columbus embraced this zealous follower, who immediately set about
preparing for his expedition. Drawing his canoe on shore, he put on a
false keel, nailed weather-boards along the bow and stern, to prevent the
sea from breaking over it; payed it with a coat of tar; furnished it with
a mast and sail; and put in provisions for himself, a Spanish comrade, and
six Indians.

In the meantime, Columbus wrote letters to Ovando, requesting that a ship
might be immediately sent to bring him and his men to Hispaniola. He wrote
a letter likewise to the sovereigns; for, after fulfilling his mission at
San Domingo, Diego Mendez was to proceed to Spain on the admiral's
affairs. In the letter to the sovereigns, Columbus depicted his deplorable
situation, and entreated that a vessel might be dispatched to Hispaniola,
to convey himself and his crew to Spain. He gave a comprehensive account
of his voyage, most particulars of which have already been incorporated in
this history, and he insisted greatly on the importance of the discovery
of Veragua. He gave it as his opinion, that here were the mines of the
Aurea Chersonesus, whence Solomon had derived such wealth for the building
of the Temple. He entreated that this golden coast might not, like other
places which he had discovered, be abandoned to adventurers, or placed
under the government of men who felt no interest in the cause. "This is
not a child," he adds, "to be abandoned to a step-mother. I never think of
Hispaniola and Paria without weeping. Their case is desperate and past
cure; I hope their example may cause this region to be treated in a
different manner." His imagination becomes heated. He magnifies the
supposed importance of Veragua, as transcending all his former
discoveries; and he alludes to his favorite project for the deliverance of
the Holy Sepulchre: "Jerusalem," he says, "and Mount Sion, are to be
rebuilt by the hand of a Christian. Who is he to be? God, by the mouth of
the Prophet, in the fourteenth Psalm, declares it. The abbot Joachim
[181] says that he is to come out of Spain." His thoughts then revert to
the ancient story of the Grand Khan, who had requested that sages might
be sent to instruct him in the Christian faith. Columbus, thinking that
he had been in the very vicinity of Cathay, exclaims with sudden zeal,
"Who will offer himself for this task? If our Lord permit me to return to
Spain, I engage to take him there, God helping, in safety."

Nothing is more characteristic of Columbus than his earnest, artless, at
times eloquent, and at times almost incoherent letters. What an instance
of soaring enthusiasm and irrepressible enterprise is here exhibited! At
the time that he was indulging in these visions, and proposing new and
romantic enterprises, he was broken down by age and infirmities, racked by
pain, confined to his bed, and shut up in a wreck on the coast of a remote
and savage island. No stronger picture can be given of his situation, than
that which shortly follows this transient glow of excitement; when, with
one of his sudden transitions of thought, he awakens, as it were, to his
actual condition.

"Hitherto," says he, "I have wept for others; but now, have pity upon me,
heaven, and weep for me, O earth! In my temporal concerns, without a
farthing to offer for a mass; cast away here in the Indies; surrounded by
cruel and hostile savages; isolated, infirm, expecting each day will be my
last: in spiritual concerns, separated from the holy sacraments of the
church, so that my soul, if parted here from my body, must be for ever
lost! Weep for me, whoever has charity, truth, and justice! I came not on
this voyage to gain honor or estate, that is most certain, for all hope of
the kind was already dead within me. I came to serve your majesties with a
sound intention and an honest zeal, and I speak no falsehood. If it should
please God to deliver me hence, I humbly supplicate your majesties to
permit me to repair to Rome, and perform other pilgrimages."

The dispatches being ready, and the preparations of the canoe completed,
Diego Mendez embarked, with his Spanish comrade and his six Indians, and
departed along the coast to the eastward. The voyage was toilsome and
perilous. They had to make their way against strong currents. Once they
were taken by roving canoes of Indians, but made their escape, and at
length arrived at the end of the island; a distance of thirty-four leagues
from the harbor. Here they remained, waiting for calm weather to venture
upon the broad gulf, when they were suddenly surrounded and taken
prisoners by a number of hostile Indians, who carried them off a distance
of three leagues, where they determined to kill them. Some dispute arose
about the division of the spoils taken from the Spaniards, whereupon the
savages agreed to settle it by a game of chance. While they were thus
engaged, Diego Mendez escaped, found his way to his canoe, embarked in it,
and returned alone to the harbor after fifteen days' absence. What became
of his companions he does not mention, being seldom apt to speak of any
person but himself. This account is taken from the narrative inserted in
his last will and testament.

Columbus, though grieved at the failure of his message, was rejoiced at
the escape of the faithful Mendez. The latter, nothing daunted by the
perils and hardships he had undergone, offered to depart immediately on a
second attempt, provided he could have persons to accompany him to the end
of the island, and protect him from the natives. This the Adelantado
offered to undertake, with a large party well armed. Bartholomew Fiesco, a
Genoese, who had been captain of one of the caravels, was associated with
Mendez in this second expedition. He was a man of great worth, strongly
attached to the admiral, and much esteemed by him. Each had a large canoe
under his command, in which were six Spaniards and ten Indians--the latter
were to serve as oarsmen. The canoes were to keep in company. On reaching
Hispaniola, Fiesco was to return immediately to Jamaica, to relieve the
anxiety of the admiral and his crew, by tidings of the safe arrival of
their messenger. In the meantime, Diego Mendez was to proceed to San
Domingo, deliver his letter to Ovando, procure and dispatch a ship, and
then depart for Spain with a letter to the sovereigns.

All arrangements being made, the Indians placed in the canoes their frugal
provision of cassava bread, and each his calabash of water. The Spaniards,
beside their bread, had a supply of the flesh of utias, and each his sword
and target. In this way they launched forth upon their long and perilous
voyage, followed by the prayers of their countrymen.

The Adelantado, with his armed band, kept pace with them along the coast.
There was no attempt of the natives to molest them, and they arrived in
safety at the end of the island. Here they remained three days before the
sea was sufficiently calm for them to venture forth in their feeble barks.
At length, the weather being quite serene, they bade farewell to their
comrades, and committed themselves to the broad sea. The Adelantado
remained watching them, until they became mere specks on the ocean, and
the evening hid them from his view. The next day he set out on his return
to the harbor, stopping at various villages on the way, and endeavoring to
confirm the good-will of the natives. [182]

Chapter II.

Mutiny of Porras.


It might have been thought that the adverse fortune which had so long
persecuted Columbus was now exhausted. The envy which had once sickened at
his glory and prosperity could scarcely have devised for him a more
forlorn heritage in the world he had discovered. The tenant of a wreck on
a savage coast, in an untraversed ocean, at the mercy of barbarous hordes,
who, in a moment, from precarious friends, might be transformed into
ferocious enemies; afflicted, too, by excruciating maladies which confined
him to his bed, and by the pains and infirmities which hardship and
anxiety had heaped upon his advancing age. But he had not yet exhausted
his cup of bitterness. He had yet to experience an evil worse than storm,
or shipwreck, or bodily anguish, or the violence of savage hordes,--the
perfidy of those in whom he confided.

Mendez and Fiesco had not long departed when the Spaniards in the wreck
began to grow sickly, partly from the toils and exposures of the recent
voyage, partly from being crowded in narrow quarters in a moist and sultry
climate, and partly from want of their accustomed food, for they could not
habituate themselves to the vegetable diet of the Indians. Their maladies
were rendered more insupportable by mental suffering, by that suspense
which frets the spirit, and that hope deferred which corrodes the heart.
Accustomed to a life of bustle and variety, they had now nothing to do but
loiter about the dreary hulk, look out upon the sea, watch for the canoe
of Fiesco, wonder at its protracted absence, and doubt its return. A long
time elapsed, much more than sufficient for the voyage, but nothing was
seen or heard of the canoe. Fears were entertained that their messenger
had perished. If so, how long were they to remain here, vainly looking for
relief which was never to arrive? Some sank into deep despondency, others
became peevish and impatient. Murmurs broke forth, and, as usual with men
in distress, murmurs of the most unreasonable kind. Instead of
sympathizing with their aged and infirm commander, who was involved in the
same calamity, who in suffering transcended them all, and yet who was
incessantly studious of their welfare, they began to rail against him as
the cause of all their misfortunes.

The factious feeling of an unreasonable multitude would be of little
importance if left to itself, and might end in idle clamor; it is the
industry of one or two evil spirits which generally directs it to an
object, and makes it mischievous. Among the officers of Columbus were two
brothers, Francisco and Diego de Porras. They were related to the royal
treasurer Morales, who had married their sister, and had made interest
with the admiral to give them some employment in the expedition.
[183] To gratify the treasurer, he had appointed Francisco de Porras
captain of one of the caravels, and had obtained for his brother Diego
the situation of notary and accountant-general of the squadron. He had
treated them, as he declares, with the kindness of relatives, though
both proved incompetent to their situations. They were vain and insolent
men, and, like many others whom Columbus had benefited, requited his
kindness with black ingratitude. [184]

These men, finding the common people in a highly impatient and
discontented state, wrought upon them with seditious insinuations,
assuring them that all hope of relief through the agency of Mendez was
idle; it being a mere delusion of the admiral to keep them quiet, and
render them subservient to his purposes. He had no desire nor intention to
return to Spain; and in fact was banished thence. Hispaniola was equally
closed to him, as had been proved by the exclusion of his ships from its
harbor in a time of peril. To him, at present, all places were alike, and
he was content to remain in Jamaica until his friends could make interest
at court, and procure his recall from banishment. As to Mendez and Fiesco,
they had been sent to Spain by Columbus on his own private affairs, not to
procure a ship for the relief of his followers. If this were not the case,
why did not the ships arrive, or why did not Fiesco return, as had been
promised? Or if the canoes had really been sent for succor, the long time
that had elapsed without tidings of them, gave reason to believe they had
perished by the way. In such case, their only alternative would be, to
take the canoes of the Indians and endeavor to reach Hispaniola. There was
no hope, however, of persuading the admiral to such an undertaking; he was
too old, and too helpless from the gout, to expose himself to the
hardships of such a voyage. What then? were they to be sacrificed to his
interests or his infirmities?--to give up their only chance for escape,
and linger and perish with him in this desolate wreck? If they succeeded
in reaching Hispaniola, they would be the better received for having left
the admiral behind. Ovando was secretly hostile to him, fearing that he
would regain the government of the island; on their arrival in Spain, the
bishop Fonseca, from his enmity to Columbus, would be sure to take their
part; the brothers Porras had powerful friends and relatives at court, to
counteract any representations that might be made by the admiral; and they
cited the case of Roldan's rebellion, to show that the prejudices of the
public, and of men in power, would always be against him. Nay, they
insinuated that the sovereigns, who, on that occasion, had deprived him of
part of his dignities and privileges, would rejoice at a pretext for
stripping him of the remainder. [185]

Columbus was aware that the minds of his people were imbittered against
him. He had repeatedly been treated with insolent impatience, and
reproached with being the cause of their disasters. Accustomed, however,
to the unreasonableness of men in adversity, and exercised, by many
trials, in the mastery of his passions, he bore with their petulance,
soothed their irritation, and endeavored to cheer their spirits by the
hopes of speedy succor. A little while longer, and he trusted that Fiesco
would arrive with good tidings, when the certainty of relief would put an
end to all these clamors. The mischief, however, was deeper than he
apprehended: a complete mutiny had been organized.

On the 2d of January, 1504, he was in his small cabin, on the stern of his
vessel, being confined to his bed by the gout, which had now rendered him
a complete cripple. While ruminating on his disastrous situation,
Francisco de Porras suddenly entered. His abrupt and agitated manner
betrayed the evil nature of his visit. He had the flurried impudence of a
man about to perpetrate an open crime. Breaking forth into bitter
complaints, at their being kept, week after week, and month after month,
to perish piecemeal in that desolate place, he accused the admiral of
having no intention to return to Spain. Columbus suspected something
sinister from this unusual arrogance; he maintained, however, his
calmness, and, raising himself in his bed, endeavored to reason with
Porras. He pointed out the impossibility of departing until those who had
gone to Hispaniola should send them vessels. He represented how much more
urgent must be his desire to depart, since he had not merely his own
safety to provide for, but was accountable to God and his sovereigns for
the welfare of all who had been committed to his charge. He reminded
Porras that he had always consulted with them all, as to the measures to
be taken for the common safety, and that what he had done, had been with
the general approbation; still, if any other measure appeared advisable,
he recommended that they should assemble together, and consult upon it,
and adopt whatever course appeared most judicious.

The measures of Porras and his comrades, however, were already concerted,
and when men are determined on mutiny, they are deaf to reason. He bluntly
replied, that there was no time for further consultations. "Embark
immediately or remain in God's name, were the only alternatives." "For my
part," said he, turning his back upon the admiral, and elevating his voice
so that it resounded all over the vessel, "I am for Castile! those who
choose may follow me!" shouts arose immediately from all sides, "I will
follow you! and I! and I!" Numbers of the crew sprang upon the most
conspicuous parts of the ship, brandishing weapons, and uttering mingled
threats and cries of rebellion. Some called upon Porras for orders what to
do; others shouted "To Castile! to Castile!" while, amidst the general
uproar, the voices of some desperadoes were heard menacing the life of the

Columbus, hearing the tumult, leaped from his bed, ill and infirm as he
was, and tottered out of the cabin, stumbling and falling in the exertion,
hoping by his presence to pacify the mutineers. Three or four of his
faithful adherents, however, fearing some violence might be offered him,
threw themselves between him and the throng, and taking him in their arms,
compelled him to return to his cabin.

The Adelantado likewise sallied forth, but in a different mood. He planted
himself, with lance in hand, in a situation to take the whole brunt of the
assault. It was with the greatest difficulty that several of the loyal
part of the crew could appease his fury, and prevail upon him to
relinquish his weapon, and retire to the cabin of his brother. They now
entreated Porras and his companions to depart peaceably, since no one
sought to oppose them. No advantage could be gained by violence; but
should they cause the death of the admiral, they would draw upon
themselves the severest punishment from the sovereigns. [186]

These representations moderated the turbulence of the mutineers, and they
now proceeded to carry their plans into execution. Taking ten canoes which
the admiral had purchased of the Indians, they embarked in them with as
much exultation as if certain of immediately landing on the shores of
Spain. Others, who had not been concerned in the mutiny, seeing so large a
force departing, and fearing to remain behind, when so reduced in number,
hastily collected their effects, and entered likewise into the canoes. It
this way forty-eight abandoned the admiral. Many of those who remained
were only detained by sickness, for, had they been well, most of them
would have accompanied the deserters. [187] The few who remained faithful
to the admiral, and the sick, who crawled forth from their cabins, saw the
departure of the mutineers with tears and lamentations, giving themselves
up for lost. Notwithstanding his malady, Columbus left his bed, mingling
among those who were loyal, and visiting those who were ill, endeavoring
in every way to cheer and comfort them. He entreated them to put their
trust in God, who would yet relieve them; and he promised, on his return
to Spain, to throw himself at the feet of the queen, represent their
loyalty and constancy, and obtain for them rewards that should compensate
for all their sufferings. [188]

In the meantime, Francisco de Porras and his followers, in their squadron
of canoes, coasted the island to the eastward, following the route taken
by Mendez and Fiesco. Wherever they landed, they committed outrages upon
the Indians, robbing them of their provisions, and of whatever they
coveted of their effects. They endeavored to make their own crimes redound
to the prejudice of Columbus, pretending to act under his authority, and
affirming that he would pay for every thing they took. If he refused, they
told the natives to kill him. They represented him as an implacable foe to
the Indians; as one who had tyrannized over other islands, causing the
misery and death of the natives, and who only sought to gain a sway here
for the purpose of inflicting like calamities.

Having reached the eastern extremity of the island, they waited until the
weather should be perfectly calm, before they ventured to cross the gulf.
Being unskilled in the management of canoes, they procured several Indians
to accompany them. The sea being at length quite smooth, they set forth
upon their voyage. Scarcely had they proceeded four leagues from land when
a contrary wind arose, and the waves began to swell. They turned
immediately for shore. The canoes, from their light structure, and being
nearly round and without keels, were easily overturned, and required to be
carefully balanced. They were now deeply freighted by men unaccustomed to
them, and as the sea rose, they frequently let in the water. The Spaniards
were alarmed, and endeavored to lighten them, by throwing overboard every
thing that could be spared; retaining only their arms, and a part of their
provisions. The danger augmented with the wind. They now compelled the
Indians to leap into the sea, excepting such as were absolutely necessary
to navigate the canoes. If they hesitated, they drove them overboard with
the edge of the sword. The Indians were skillful swimmers, but the
distance to land was too great for their strength. They kept about the
canoes, therefore, taking hold of them occasionally to rest themselves and
recover breath. As their weight disturbed the balance of the canoes, and
endangered their overturning, the Spaniards cut off their hands, and
stabbed them with their swords. Some died by the weapons of these cruel
men, others were exhausted and sank beneath the waves; thus eighteen
perished miserably, and none survived but such as had been retained to
manage the canoes.

When the Spaniards got back to land, different opinions arose as to what
course they should next pursue. Some were for crossing to Cuba, for which
island the wind was favorable. It was thought they might easily cross
thence to the end of Hispaniola. Others advised that they should return
and make their peace with the admiral, or take from him what remained of
arms and stores, having thrown almost every thing overboard during their
late danger. Others counseled another attempt to cross over to Hispaniola,
as soon as the sea should become tranquil.

This last advice was adopted. They remained for a month at an Indian
village near the eastern point of the island, living on the substance of
the natives, and treating them in the most arbitrary and capricious
manner. When at length the weather became serene, they made a second
attempt, but were again driven back by adverse winds. Losing all patience,
therefore, and despairing of the enterprise, they abandoned their canoes,
and returned westward; wandering from village to village, a dissolute and
lawless gang, supporting themselves by fair means or foul, according as
they met with kindness or hostility, and passing like a pestilence through
the island. [189]

Chapter III.

Scarcity of Provisions.--Strategem of Columbus to Obtain Supplies from the


While Porras and his crew were raging about with that desperate and
joyless licentiousness which attends the abandonment of principle,
Columbus presented the opposite picture of a man true to others and to
himself, and supported, amidst hardships and difficulties, by conscious
rectitude. Deserted by the healthful and vigorous portion of his garrison,
he exerted himself to soothe and encourage the infirm and desponding
remnant which remained. Regardless of his own painful maladies, he was
only attentive to relieve their sufferings. The few who were fit for
service were required to mount guard on the wreck, or attend upon the
sick; there were none to forage for provisions. The scrupulous good faith
and amicable conduct maintained by Columbus towards the natives had now
their effect. Considerable supplies of provisions were brought by them
from time to time, which he purchased at a reasonable rate. The most
palatable and nourishing of these, together with the small stock of
European biscuit that remained, he ordered to be appropriated to the
sustenance of the infirm. Knowing how much the body is affected by the
operations of the mind, he endeavored to rouse the spirits, and animate
the hopes, of the drooping sufferers. Concealing his own anxiety, he
maintained a serene and even cheerful countenance, encouraging his men by
kind words, and holding forth confident anticipations of speedy relief. By
his friendly and careful treatment, he soon recruited both the health and
spirits of his people, and brought them into a condition to contribute to
the common safety. Judicious regulations, calmly but firmly enforced,
maintained every thing in order. The men became sensible of the advantages
of wholesome discipline, and perceived that the restraints imposed upon
them by their commander were for their own good, and ultimately productive
of their own comfort.

Columbus had thus succeeded in guarding against internal ills, when
alarming evils began to menace from without. The Indians, unused to lay up
any stock of provisions, and unwilling to subject themselves to extra
labor, found it difficult to furnish the quantity of food daily required
for so many hungry men. The European trinkets, once so precious, lost
their value, in proportion as they became common. The importance of the
admiral had been greatly diminished by the desertion of so many of his
followers; and the malignant instigations of the rebels had awakened
jealousy and enmity in several of the villages which had been accustomed
to furnish provisions.

By degrees, therefore, the supplies fell off. The arrangements for the
daily delivery of certain quantities, made by Diego Mendez, were
irregularly attended to, and at length ceased entirely. The Indians no
longer thronged to the harbor with provisions, and often refused them when
applied for. The Spaniards were obliged to forage about the neighborhood
for their daily food; but found more and more difficulty in procuring it;
thus, in addition to their other causes for despondency, they began to
entertain horrible apprehensions of famine.

The admiral heard their melancholy forebodings, and beheld the growing
evil, but was at a loss for a remedy. To resort to force was an
alternative full of danger, and of but temporary efficacy. It would
require all those who were well enough to bear arms to sally forth, while
he and the rest of the infirm would be left defenceless on board of the
wreck, exposed to the vengeance of the natives.

In the meantime, the scarcity daily increased. The Indians perceived the
wants of the white men, and had learnt from them the art of making
bargains. They asked ten times the former quantity of European articles
for any amount of provisions, and brought their supplies in scanty
quantities, to enhance the eagerness of the hungry Spaniards. At length,
even this relief ceased, and there was an absolute distress for food. The
jealousy of the natives had been universally roused by Porras and his
followers, and they withheld all provisions, in hopes either of starving
the admiral and his people, or of driving them from the island. In this
extremity, a fortunate idea presented itself to Columbus. From his
knowledge of astronomy, he ascertained that, within three days, there
would be a total eclipse of the moon in the early part of the night. He
sent, therefore, an Indian of Hispaniola, who served as his interpreter,
to summon the principal caciques to a grand conference, appointing for it
the day of the eclipse. When all were assembled, he told them by his
interpreter, that he and his followers were worshipers of a Deity who
dwelt in the skies; who favored such as did well, but punished all
transgressors. That, as they must all have noticed, he had protected Diego
Mendez and his companions in their voyage, because they went in obedience
to the orders of their commander; but had visited Porras and his
companions with all kinds of afflictions, in consequence of their
rebellion. This great Deity, he added, was incensed against the Indians
who refused to furnish his faithful worshipers with provisions, and
intended to chastise them with famine and pestilence. Lest they should
disbelieve this warning, a signal would be given that night. They would
behold the moon change its color, and gradually lose its light; a token of
the fearful punishment which awaited them.

Many of the Indians were alarmed at the prediction, others treated it with
derision,--all, however, awaited with solicitude the coming of the night.
When they beheld a dark shadow stealing over the moon, they began to
tremble; with the progress of the eclipse their fears increased, and when
they saw a mysterious darkness covering the whole face of nature, there
were no bounds to their terror. Seizing upon whatever provisions were at
hand, they hurried to the ships, threw themselves at the feet of Columbus,
and implored him to intercede, with his God to withhold the threatened
calamities, assuring him they would thenceforth bring him whatever he
required. Columbus shut himself up in his cabin, as if to commune with the
Deity, and remained there during the increase of the eclipse, the forests
and shores all the while resounding with the bowlings and supplications of
the savages. When the eclipse was about to diminish, he came forth and
informed the natives that his God had deigned to pardon them, on condition
of their fulfilling their promises; in sign of which he would withdraw the
darkness from the moon.

When the Indians saw that planet restored to its brightness, and rolling
in all its beauty through the firmament, they overwhelmed the admiral with
thanks for his intercession, and repaired to their homes, joyful at having
escaped such great disasters. Regarding Columbus with awe and reverence,
as a man in the peculiar favor and confidence of the Deity, since he knew
upon earth what was passing in the heavens, they hastened to propitiate
him with gifts; supplies again arrived daily at the harbor, and from that
time forward, there was no want of provisions. [190]

Chapter IV.

Mission of Diego de Escobar to the Admiral.


Eight months had now elapsed since the departure of Mendez and Fiesco,
without any tidings of their fate. For a long time the Spaniards had kept
a wistful look-out upon the ocean, flattering themselves that every Indian
canoe, gliding at a distance, might be the harbinger of deliverance. The
hopes of the most sanguine were now fast sinking into despondency. What
thousand perils awaited such frail barks, and so weak a party, on an
expedition of the kind! Either the canoes had been swallowed up by
boisterous waves and adverse currents, or their crews had perished among
the rugged mountains and savage tribes of Hispaniola. To increase their
despondency, they were informed that a vessel had been seen, bottom
upwards, drifting with the currents along the coasts of Jamaica. This
might be the vessel sent to their relief; and if so, all their hopes were
shipwrecked with it. This rumor, it is affirmed, was invented and
circulated in the island by the rebels, that it might reach the ears of
those who remained faithful to the admiral, and reduce them to despair.
[191] It no doubt had its effect. Losing all hope of aid from a distance,
and considering themselves abandoned and forgotten by the world, many
grew wild and desperate in their plans. Another conspiracy was formed by
one Bernardo, an apothecary of Valencia, with two confederates, Alonzo
de Zamora and Pedro de Villatoro. They designed to seize upon the
remaining canoes, and seek their way to Hispaniola. [192]

The mutiny was on the very point of breaking out, when one evening,
towards dusk, a sail was seen standing towards the harbor. The transports
of the poor Spaniards may be more easily conceived than described. The
vessel was of small size; it kept out to sea, but sent its boat to visit
the ships. Every eye was eagerly bent to hail the countenances of
Christians and deliverers. As the boat approached, they descried in it
Diego de Escobar, a man who had been one of the most active confederates
of Roldan in his rebellion, who had been condemned to death under the
administration of Columbus, and pardoned by his successor Bobadilla. There
was bad omen in such a messenger.

Coming alongside of the ships, Escobar put a letter on board from Ovando,
governor of Hispaniola, together with a barrel of wine and a side of
bacon, sent as presents to the admiral. He then drew off, and talked with
Columbus from a distance. He told him that he was sent by the governor to
express his great concern at his misfortunes, and his regret at not having
in port a vessel of sufficient size to bring off himself and his people,
but that he would send one as soon as possible. Escobar gave the admiral
assurances likewise, that his concerns in Hispaniola had been faithfully
attended to. He requested him, if he had any letter to write to the
governor in reply, to give it to him as soon as possible, as he wished to
return immediately.

There was something extremely singular in this mission, but there was no
time for comments; Escobar was urgent to depart. Columbus hastened,
therefore, to write a reply to Ovando, depicting the dangers and
distresses of his situation, increased as they were by the rebellion of
Porras, but expressing his reliance on his promise to send him relief,
confiding in which he should remain patiently on board of his wreck. He
recommended Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco to his favor, assuring him
that they were not sent to San Domingo with any artful design, but simply
to represent his perilous situation, and to apply for succor.  When
Escobar received this letter, he returned immediately on board of his
vessel, which made all sail, and soon disappeared in the gathering gloom
of the night.

If the Spaniards had hailed the arrival of this vessel with transport, its
sudden departure and the mysterious conduct of Escobar inspired no less
wonder and consternation. He had kept aloof from all communication with
them, as if he felt no interest in their welfare, or sympathy in their
misfortunes. Columbus saw the gloom that had gathered in their
countenances, and feared the consequences. He eagerly sought, therefore,
to dispel their suspicions, professing himself satisfied with the
communications received from Ovando, and assuring them that vessels would
soon arrive to take them all away. In confidence of this, he said, he had
declined to depart with Escobar, because his vessel was too small to take
the whole, preferring to remain with them and share their lot, and had
dispatched the caravel in such haste that no time might be lost in
expediting the necessary ships. These assurances, and the certainty that
their situation was known in San Domingo, cheered the hearts of the
people. Their hopes again revived, and the conspiracy, which had been on
the point of breaking forth, was completely disconcerted.

In secret, however, Columbus was exceedingly indignant at the conduct of
Ovando. He had left him for many months in a state of the utmost danger,
and most distressing uncertainty, exposed to the hostilities of the
natives, the seditions of his men, and the suggestions of his own despair.
He had, at length, sent a mere tantalizing message, by a man known to be
one of his bitterest enemies, with a present of food, which, from its
scantiness, seemed intended to mock their necessities.

Columbus believed that Ovando had purposely neglected him, hoping that he
might perish on the island, being apprehensive that, should he return in
safety, he would be reinstated in the government of Hispaniola; and he
considered Escobar merely as a spy sent to ascertain the state of himself
and his crew, and whether they were yet in existence. Las Casas, who was
then at San Domingo, expresses similar suspicions. He says that Escobar
was chosen because Ovando was certain that, from ancient enmity, he would
have no sympathy for the admiral. That he was ordered not to go on board
of the vessels, nor to land, neither was he to hold conversation with any
of the crew, nor to receive any letters, except those of the admiral. In a
word, that he was a mere scout to collect information. [193]

Others have ascribed the long neglect of Ovando to extreme caution. There
was a rumor prevalent that Columbus, irritated at the suspension of his
dignities by the court of Spain, intended to transfer his newly-discovered
countries into the hands of his native republic Genoa, or of some other
power. Such rumors had long been current, and to their recent circulation
Columbus himself alludes in his letter sent to the sovereigns by Diego
Mendez. The most plausible apology given, is, that Ovando was absent for
several months in the interior, occupied in wars with the natives, and
that there were no ships at San Domingo of sufficient burden to take
Columbus and his crew to Spain. He may have feared that, should they come
to reside for any length of time on the island, either the admiral would
interfere in public affairs, or endeavor to make a party in his favor; or
that, in consequence of the number of his old enemies still resident
there, former scenes of faction and turbulence might be revived.
[194] In the meantime the situation of Columbus in Jamaica, while it
disposed of him quietly until vessels should arrive from Spain, could
not, he may have thought, be hazardous. He had sufficient force and arms
for defence, and he had made amicable arrangements with the natives for
the supply of provisions, as Diego Mendez, who had made those
arrangements, had no doubt informed him. Such may have been the
reasoning by which Ovando, under the real influence of his interest, may
have reconciled his conscience to a measure which excited the strong
reprobation of his contemporaries, and has continued to draw upon him
the suspicions of mankind.

Chapter V.

Voyage of Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco in a Canoe to Hispaniola.


It is proper to give here some account of the mission of Diego Mendez and
Bartholomew Fiesco, and of the circumstances which prevented the latter
from returning to Jamaica. Having taken leave of the Adelantado at the
east end of the island, they continued all day in a direct course,
animating the Indians who navigated their canoes, and who frequently
paused at their labor. There was no wind, the sky was without a cloud, and
the sea perfectly calm; the heat was intolerable, and the rays of the sun,
reflected from the surface of the ocean, seemed to scorch their very eyes.
The Indians, exhausted by heat and toil, would often leap into the water
to cool and refresh themselves, and, after remaining there a short time,
would return with new vigor to their labors. At the going down of the sun
they lost sight of land. During the night the Indians took turns, one half
to row while the others slept. The Spaniards, in like manner, divided
their forces: while one half took repose, the others kept guard with their
weapons in hand, ready to defend themselves in case of any perfidy on the
part of their savage companions.

Watching and toiling in this way through the night, they were exceedingly
fatigued at the return of day. Nothing was to be seen but sea and sky.
Their frail canoes, heaving up and down with the swelling and sinking of
the ocean, seemed scarcely capable of sustaining the broad undulations of
a calm; how would they be able to live amid waves and surges, should the
wind arise? The commanders did all they could to keep up the flagging
spirits of the men. Sometimes they permitted them a respite; at other
times they took the paddles and shared their toils. But labor and fatigue
were soon forgotten in a new source of suffering. During the preceding
sultry day and night, the Indians, parched and fatigued, had drunk up all
the water. They now began to experience the torments of thirst. In
proportion as the day advanced, their thirst increased; the calm, which
favored the navigation of the canoes, rendered this misery the more
intense. There was not a breeze to fan the air, nor counteract the ardent
rays of a tropical sun. Their sufferings were irritated by the prospect
around them--nothing but water, while they were perishing with thirst. At
mid-day their strength failed them, and they could work no longer.
Fortunately, at this time the commanders of the canoes found, or pretended
to find, two small kegs of water, which they had perhaps secretly reserved
for such an extremity. Administering the precious contents from time to
time, in sparing mouthfuls, to their companions, and particularly to the
laboring Indians, they enabled them to resume their toils. They cheered
them with the hopes of soon arriving at a small island called Navasa,
which lay directly in their way, and was only eight leagues from
Hispaniola. Here they would be able to procure water, and might take

For the rest of the day they continued faintly and wearily laboring
forward, and keeping an anxious look-out for the island. The day passed
away, the sun went down, yet there was no sign of land, not even a cloud
on the horizon that might deceive them into a hope. According to their
calculations, they had certainly come the distance from Jamaica at which
Navasa lay. They began to fear that they had deviated from their course.
If so, they should miss the island entirely, and perish with thirst before
they could reach Hispaniola.

The night closed upon them without any sight of the island. They now
despaired of touching at it, for it was so small and low that, even if
they were to pass near, they would scarcely be able to perceive it in the
dark. One of the Indians sank and died, under the accumulated sufferings
of labor, heat, and raging thirst. His body was thrown into the sea.
Others lay panting and gasping at the bottom of the canoes. Their
companions, troubled in spirit, and exhausted in strength, feebly
continued their toils. Sometimes they endeavored to cool their parched
palates by taking sea-water in their mouths, but its briny acrimony rather
increased their thirst. Now and then, but very sparingly, they were
allowed a drop of water from the kegs; but this was only in cases of the
utmost extremity, and principally to those who were employed in rowing.
The night had far advanced, but those whose turn it was to take repose
were unable to sleep, from the intensity of their thirst; or if they
slept, it was but to be tantalized with dreams of cool fountains and
running brooks, and to awaken in redoubled torment. The last drop of water
had been dealt out to the Indian rowers, but it only served to irritate
their sufferings. They scarce could move their paddles; one after another
gave up, and it seemed impossible they should live to reach Hispaniola.

The commanders, by admirable management, had hitherto kept up this weary
struggle with suffering and despair: they now, too, began to despond.
Diego Mendez sat watching the horizon, which was gradually lighting up
with those faint rays which precede the rising of the moon. As that planet
rose, he perceived it to emerge from behind some dark mass elevated above
the level of the ocean. He immediately gave the animating cry of "land!"
His almost expiring companions were roused by it to new life. It proved to
be the island of Navasa, but so small, and low, and distant, that had it
not been thus revealed by the rising of the moon, they would never have
discovered it. The error in their reckoning with respect to the island had
arisen from miscalculating the rate of sailing of the canoes, and from not
making sufficient allowance for the fatigue of the rowers and the
opposition of the current.

New vigor was now diffused throughout the crews. They exerted themselves
with feverish impatience; by the dawn of day they reached the land, and,
springing on shore, returned thanks to God for such signal deliverance.
The island was a mere mass of rocks half a league in circuit. There was
neither tree, nor shrub, nor herbage, nor stream, nor fountain. Hurrying
about, however, with anxious search, they found to their joy abundance of
rain-water in the hollows of the rocks. Eagerly scooping it up with their
calabashes, they quenched their burning thirst by immoderate draughts. In
vain the more prudent warned the others of their danger. The Spaniards
were in some degree restrained; but the poor Indians, whose toils had
increased the fever of their thirst, gave way to a kind of frantic
indulgence. Several died upon the spot, and others fell dangerously ill.

Having allayed their thirst, they now looked about in search of food. A
few shell-fish were found along the shore, and Diego Mendez, striking a
light, and gathering drift-wood, they were enabled to boil them, and to
make a delicious banquet. All day they remained reposing in the shade of
the rocks, refreshing themselves after their intolerable sufferings, and
gazing upon Hispaniola, whose mountains rose above the horizon, at eight
leagues distance.

In the cool of the evening they once more embarked, invigorated by repose,
and arrived safely at Cape Tiburon on the following day, the fourth since
their departure from Jamaica. Here they landed on the banks of a beautiful
river, where they were kindly received and treated by the natives. Such
are the particulars, collected from different sources, of this adventurous
and interesting voyage, on the precarious success of which depended the
deliverance of Columbus and his crews. [196] The voyagers remained for two
days among the hospitable natives on the banks of the river to refresh
themselves. Fiesco would have returned to Jamaica, according to promise,
to give assurance to the Admiral and his companions of the safe arrival of
their messenger; but both Spaniards and Indians had suffered so much
during the voyage, that nothing could induce them to encounter the perils
of a return in the canoes.

Parting with his companions, Diego Mendez took six Indians of the island,
and set off resolutely to coast in his canoe one hundred and thirty
leagues to San Domingo. After proceeding for eighty leagues, with infinite
toil, always against the currents, and subject to perils from the native
tribes, he was informed that the governor had departed for Xaragua, fifty
leagues distant. Still undaunted by fatigues and difficulties, he
abandoned his canoe, and proceeded alone and on foot through forests and
over mountains, until he arrived at Xaragua, achieving one of the most
perilous expeditions ever undertaken by a devoted follower for the safety
of his commander.

Ovando received him with great kindness, expressing the utmost concern at
the unfortunate situation of Columbus. He made many promises of sending
immediate relief, but suffered day after day, week after week, and even
month after month to elapse, without carrying his promises into effect. He
was at that time completely engrossed by wars with the natives, and had a
ready plea that there were no ships of sufficient burden at San Domingo.
Had he felt a proper zeal, however, for the safety of a man like Columbus,
it would have been easy, within eight months, to have devised some means,
if not of delivering him from his situation, at least of conveying to him
ample reinforcements and supplies.

The faithful Mendez remained for seven months in Xaragua, detained there
under various pretexts by Ovando, who was unwilling that he should proceed
to San Domingo; partly, as is intimated, from his having some jealousy of
his being employed in secret agency for the admiral, and partly from a
desire to throw impediments in the way of his obtaining the required
relief. At length, by daily importunity, he obtained permission to go to
San Domingo, and await the arrival of certain ships which were expected,
of which he proposed to purchase one on account of the admiral. He
immediately set out on foot a distance of seventy leagues, part of his
toilsome journey lying through forests and among mountains infested by
hostile and exasperated Indians. It was after his departure that Ovando
dispatched the caravel commanded by the pardoned rebel Escobar, on that
singular and equivocal visit, which, in the eyes of Columbus, had the air
of a mere scouting expedition to spy into the camp of an enemy.

Chapter VI.

Overtures of Columbus to the Mutineers.--Battle of the Adelantado with
Porras and His Followers.


When Columbus had soothed the disappointment of his men at the brief and
unsatisfactory visit and sudden departure of Escobar he endeavored to turn
the event to some advantage with the rebels. He knew them to be
disheartened by the inevitable miseries attending a lawless and dissolute
life; that many longed to return to the safe and quiet path of duty; and
that the most malignant, seeing how he had foiled all their intrigues
among the natives to produce a famine, began to fear his ultimate triumph
and consequent vengeance. A favorable opportunity, he thought, now
presented to take advantage of these feelings, and by gentle means to
bring them back to their allegiance. He sent two of his people, therefore,
who were most intimate with the rebels, to inform them of the recent
arrival of Escobar with letters from the Governor of Hispaniola, promising
him a speedy deliverance from the island. He now offered a free pardon,
kind treatment, and a passage with him in the expected ships, on condition
of their immediate return to obedience. To convince them of the arrival of
the vessel, he sent them a part of the bacon which had been brought by

On the approach of these ambassadors, Francisco de Porras came forth to
meet them, accompanied solely by a few of the ringleaders of his party. He
imagined that there might be some propositions from the admiral, and he
was fearful of their being heard by the mass of his people, who, in their
dissatisfied and repentant mood, would be likely to desert him on the
least prospect of pardon. Having listened to the tidings and overtures
brought by the messengers, he and his confidential confederates consulted
for some time together. Perfidious in their own nature, thev suspected the
sincerity of the admiral; and conscious of the extent of their offences,
doubted his having the magnanimity to pardon them. Determined, therefore,
not to confide in his proffered amnesty, they replied to the messengers,
that they had no wish to return to the ships, but preferred living at
large about the island. They offered to engage, however, to conduct
themselves peaceably and amicably, on receiving a solemn promise from the
admiral, that should two vessels arrive, they should have one to depart
in: should but one arrive, that half of it should be granted to them; and
that, moreover, the admiral should share with them the stores and articles
of Indian traffic remaining in the ships, having lost all that they had,
in the sea. These demands were pronounced extravagant and inadmissible,
upon which they replied insolently that, if they were not peaceably
conceded, they would take them by force; and with this menace they
dismissed the ambassadors. [197]

This conference was not conducted so privately, but that the rest of the
rebels learnt the purport of the mission; and the offer of pardon and
deliverance occasioned great tumult and agitation. Porras, fearful of
their desertion, assured them that these offers of the admiral were all
deceitful; that he was naturally cruel and vindictive, and only sought to
get them into his power to wreak on them his vengeance. He exhorted them
to persist in their opposition to his tyranny; reminding them, that those
who had formerly done so in Hispaniola, had eventually triumphed, and sent
him home in irons; he assured them that they might do the same; and again
made vaunting promises of protection in Spain, through the influence of
his relatives. But the boldest of his assertions was with respect to the
caravel of Escobar. It shows the ignorance of the age, and the
superstitious awe which the common people entertained with respect to
Columbus and his astronomical knowledge. Porras assured them that no real
caravel had arrived, but a mere phantasm conjured up by the admiral, who
was deeply versed in necromancy. In proof of this, he adverted to its
arriving in the dusk of the evening; its holding communication 'with no
one but the admiral, and its sudden disappearance in the night. Had it
been a real caravel, the crew would have sought to talk with their
countrymen; the admiral, his son and brother, would have eagerly embarked
on board, and it would at any rate have remained a little while in port,
and not have vanished so suddenly and mysteriously. [198]

By these, and similar delusions, Porras succeeded in working upon the
feelings and credulity of his followers. Fearful, however, that they might
yield to after reflection, and to further offers from the admiral, he
determined to involve them in some act of violence which would commit them
beyond all hopes of forgiveness. He marched them, therefore, to an Indian
village called Maima, [199] about a quarter of a league from the ships,
intending to plunder the stores remaining on board the wreck, and to take
the admiral prisoner. [200]

Columbus had notice of the designs of the rebels, and of their approach.
Being confined by his infirmities, he sent his brother to endeavor with
mild words to persuade them from their purpose, and win them to obedience;
but with sufficient force to resist any violence. The Adelantado, who was
a man rather of deeds than of words, took with him fifty followers, men of
tried resolution, and ready to fight in any cause. They were well armed
and full of courage, though many were pale and debilitated from recent
sickness, and from long confinement to the ships. Arriving on the side of
a hill, within a bow-shot of the village, the Adelantado discovered the
rebels, and dispatched the same two messengers to treat with them, who had
already carried them the offer of pardon. Porras and his fellow-leaders,
however, would not permit them to approach. They confided in the
superiority of their numbers, and in their men being, for the most part,
hardy sailors, rendered robust and vigorous by the roving life they had
been leading in the forests and the open air. They knew that many of those
who were with the Adelantado were men brought up in a softer mode of life.
They pointed to their pale countenances, and persuaded their followers
that they were mere household men, fair-weather troops, who could never
stand before them. They did not reflect that, with such men, pride and
lofty spirit often more than supply the place of bodily force, and they
forgot that their adversaries had the incalculable advantage of justice
and law upon their side. Deluded by their words, their followers were
excited to a transient glow of courage, and, brandishing their weapons,
refused to listen to the messengers.

Six of the stoutest rebels made a league to stand by one another and
attack the Adelantado; for, he being killed, the rest would be easily
defeated. The main body formed themselves into a squadron, drawing their
swords and shaking their lances. They did not wait to be assailed, but,
uttering shouts and menaces, rushed upon the enemy. They were so well
received, however, that at the first shock four or five were killed, most
of them the confederates who had leagued to attack the Adelantado. The
latter, with his own hand, killed Juan Sanchez, the same powerful mariner
who had carried off the cacique Quibian; and Juan Barber also, who had
first drawn a sword against the admiral in this rebellion. The Adelantado
with his usual vigor and courage was dealing his blows about him in the
thickest of the affray, where several lay killed and wounded, when he was
assailed by Francisco de Porras. The rebel with a blow of his sword cleft
the buckler of Don Bartholomew, and wounded the hand which grasped it. The
sword remained wedged in the shield, and before Porras could withdraw it,
the Adelantado closed upon him, grappled him, and, being assisted by
others, after a severe struggle, took him prisoner. [201]

When the rebels beheld their leader a captive, their transient courage was
at an end, and they fled in confusion. The Adelantado would have pursued
them, but was persuaded to let them escape with the punishment they had
received; especially as it was necessary to guard against the possibility
of an attack from the Indians.

The latter had taken arms and drawn up in battle array, gazing with
astonishment at this fight between white men, but without taking part on
either side. When the battle was over, they approached the field, gazing
upon the dead bodies of the beings they had once fancied immortal. They
were curious in examining the wounds made by the Christian weapons. Among
the wounded insurgents was Pedro Ledesma, the same pilot who so bravely
swam ashore at Veragua, to procure tidings of the colony. He was a man of
prodigious muscular force and a hoarse deep voice. As the Indians, who
thought him dead, were inspecting the wounds with which he was literally
covered, he suddenly uttered an ejaculation in his tremendous voice, at
the sound of which the savages fled in dismay. This man, having fallen
into a cleft or ravine, was not discovered by the white men until the
dawning of the following day, having remained all that time without a drop
of water. The number and severity of the wounds he is said to have
received would seem incredible, but they are mentioned by Fernando
Columbus, who was an eye-witness, and by Las Casas, who had the account
from Ledesma himself. For want of proper remedies, his wounds were treated
in the roughest manner, yet, through the aid of a vigorous constitution,
he completely recovered. Las Casas conversed with him several years
afterwards at Seville, when he obtained from him various particulars
concerning this voyage of Columbus. Some few days after this conversation,
however, he heard that Ledesma had fallen under the knife of an assassin.

The Adelantado returned in triumph to the ships, where he was received by
the admiral in the most affectionate manner; thanking him as his
deliverer. He brought Porras and several of his followers prisoners. Of
his own party only two had been wounded; himself in the hand, and the
admiral's steward, who had received an apparently slight wound with a
lance, equal to one of the most insignificant of those with which Ledesma
was covered; yet, in spite of careful treatment, he died.

On the next day, the 20th of May, the fugitives sent a petition to the
admiral, signed with all their names, in which, says Las Casas, they
confessed all their misdeeds, and cruelties, and evil intentions,
supplicating the admiral to have pity on them and pardon them for their
rebellion, for which God had already punished them. They offered to return
to their obedience and to serve him faithfully in future, making an oath
to that effect upon a cross and a missal, accompanied by an imprecation
worthy of being recorded: "They hoped, should they break their oath, that
no priest nor other Christian might ever confess them; that repentance
might be of no avail; that they might be deprived of the holy sacraments
of the church; that at their death they might receive no benefit from
bulls nor indulgences; that their bodies might be cast out into the fields
like those of heretics and renegadoes, instead of being buried in holy
ground; and that they might not receive absolution from the pope, nor from
cardinals, nor archbishops, nor bishops, nor any other Christian priests."
[203] Such were the awful imprecations by which these men endeavored to
add validity to an oath. The worthlessness of a man's word may always be
known by the extravagant means he uses to enforce it.

The admiral saw, by the abject nature of this petition, how completely the
spirit of these misguided men was broken; with his wonted magnanimity, he
readily granted their prayer, and pardoned their offences; but on one
condition, that their ringleader, Francisco Porras, should remain a

As it was difficult to maintain so many persons on board of the ships, and
as quarrels might take place between persons who had so recently been at
blows, Columbus put the late followers of Porras under the command of a
discreet and faithful man; and giving in his charge a quantity of European
articles for the purpose of purchasing food of the natives, directed him
to forage about the island until the expected vessels should arrive.

At length, after a long year of alternate hope and despondency, the doubts
of the Spaniards were joyfully dispelled by the sight of two vessels
standing into the harbor. One proved to be a ship hired and well
victualed, at the expense of the admiral, by the faithful and
indefatigable Diego Mendez; the other had been subsequently fitted out by
Ovando, and put under the command of Diego de Salcedo, the admiral's agent
employed to collect his rents in San Domingo.

The long neglect of Ovando to attend to the relief of Columbus had, it
seems, roused the public indignation, insomuch that animadversions had
been made upon his conduct even in the pulpits. This is affirmed by Las
Casas, who was at San Domingo at the time. If the governor had really
entertained hopes that, during the delay of relief, Columbus might perish
in the island, the report brought back by Escobar must have completely
disappointed him. No time was to be lost if he wished to claim any merit
in his deliverance, or to avoid the disgrace of having totally neglected
him. He exerted himself, therefore, at the eleventh hour, and dispatched a
caravel at the same time with the ship sent by Diego Mendez. The latter,
having faithfully discharged this part of his mission, and seen the ships
depart, proceeded to Spain on the further concerns of the admiral. [204]

Book XVII.

Chapter I.

Administration of Ovando in Hispaniola.--Oppression of the Natives.


Before relating the return of Columbus to Hispaniola, it is proper to
notice some of the principal occurrences which took place in that island
under the government of Ovando. A great crowd of adventurers of various
ranks had thronged his fleet--eager speculators, credulous dreamers, and
broken-down gentlemen of desperate fortunes; all expecting to enrich
themselves suddenly in an island where gold was to be picked up from the
surface of the soil, or gathered from the mountain-brooks. They had
scarcely landed, says Las Casas, who accompanied the expedition, when they
all hurried off to the mines, about eight leagues distant. The roads
swarmed like ant-hills, with adventurers of all classes. Every one had his
knapsack stored with biscuit or flour, and his mining implements on his
shoulders. Those hidalgos, or gentlemen, who had no servants to carry
their burdens, bore them on their own backs, and lucky was he who had a
horse for the journey; he would be able to bring back the greater load of
treasure. They all set out in high spirits, eager who should first reach
the golden land; thinking they had but to arrive at the mines, and collect
riches; "for they fancied," says Las Casas, "that gold was to be gathered
as easily and readily as fruit from the trees." When they arrived,
however, they discovered, to their dismay, that it was necessary to dig
painfully into the bowels of the earth--a labor to which most of them had
never been accustomed; that it required experience and sagacity to detect
the veins of ore; that, in fact, the whole process of mining was
exceedingly toilsome, demanded vast patience and much experience, and,
after all, was full of uncertainty. They digged eagerly for a time, but
found no ore. They grew hungry, threw by their implements, sat down to
eat, and then returned to work. It was all in vain. "Their labor," says
Las Casas, "gave them a keen appetite and quick digestion, but no gold."
They soon consumed their provisions, exhausted their patience, cursed
their infatuation, and in eight days set off drearily on their return
along the roads they had lately trod so exultingly. They arrived at San
Domingo without an ounce of gold, half-famished, downcast, and despairing.
[205] Such is too often the case of those who ignorantly engage in
mining--of all speculations the most brilliant, promising, and fallacious.

Poverty soon fell upon these misguided men. They exhausted the little
property brought from Spain. Many suffered extremely from hunger, and were
obliged to exchange even their apparel for bread. Some formed connections
with the old settlers of the island; but the greater part were like men
lost and bewildered, and just awakened from a dream. The miseries of the
mind, as usual, heightened the sufferings of the body. Some wasted away
and died broken-hearted; others were hurried off by raging fevers, so that
there soon perished upwards of a thousand men.

Ovando was reputed a man of great prudence and sagacity, and he certainly
took several judicious measures for the regulation of the island, and the
relief of the colonists. He made arrangements for distributing the married
persons and the families which had come out in his fleet, in four towns in
the interior, granting them important privileges. He revived the drooping
zeal for mining, by reducing the royal share of the product from one-half
to a third, and shortly after to a fifth; but he empowered the Spaniards
to avail themselves, in the most oppressive manner, of the labor of the
unhappy natives in working the mines. The charge of treating the natives
with severity had been one of those chiefly urged against Columbus. It is
proper, therefore, to notice, in this respect, the conduct of his
successor, a man chosen for his prudence, and his supposed capacity to

It will be recollected, that when Columbus was in a manner compelled to
assign lands to the rebellious followers of Francisco Roldan, in 1499, he
had made an arrangement that the caciques in their vicinity should, in
lieu of tribute, furnish a number of their subjects to assist them in
cultivating their estates. This, as has been observed, was the
commencement of the disastrous system of repartimientos, or distributions
of Indians. When Bobadilla administered the government, he constrained the
caciques to furnish a certain number of Indians to each Spaniard, for the
purpose of working the mines; where they were employed like beasts of
burden. He made an enumeration of the natives, to prevent evasion; reduced
them into classes, and distributed them among the Spanish inhabitants. The
enormous oppressions which ensued have been noticed. They roused the
indignation of Isabella; and when Ovando was sent out to supersede
Bobadilla, in 1502, the natives were pronounced free; they immediately
refused to labor in the mines.

Ovando represented to the Spanish sovereigns, in 1503, that ruinous
consequences resulted to the colony from this entire liberty granted to
the Indians. He stated that the tribute could not be collected, for the
Indians were lazy and improvident; that they could only be kept from vices
and irregularities by occupation; that they now kept aloof from the
Spaniards, and from all instruction in the Christian faith.

The last representation had an influence with Isabella, and drew a letter
from the sovereigns to Ovando, in 1503, in which he was ordered to spare
no pains to attach the natives to the Spanish nation and the Catholic
religion. To make them labor moderately, if absolutely essential to their
own good; but to temper authority with persuasion and kindness. To pay
them regularly and fairly for their labor, and to have them instructed in
religion on certain days.

Ovando availed himself of the powers given him by this letter, to their
fullest extent. He assigned to each Castilian a certain number of Indians,
according to the quality of the applicant, the nature of the application,
or his own pleasure. It was arranged in the form of an order on a cacique
for a certain number of Indians, who were to be paid by their employer,
and instructed in the Catholic faith. The pay was so small as to be little
better than nominal; the instruction was little more than the mere
ceremony of baptism; and the term of labor was at first six months, and
then eight months in the year. Under cover of this hired labor, intended
for the good both of their bodies and their souls, more intolerable toil
was exacted from them, and more horrible cruelties were inflicted, than in
the worst days of Bobadilla. They were separated often the distance of
several days' journey from their wives and children, and doomed to
intolerable labor of all kinds, extorted by the cruel infliction of the
lash. For food they had the cassava bread, an unsubstantial support for
men obliged to labor; sometimes a scanty portion of pork was distributed
among a great number of them, scarce a mouthful to each. When the
Spaniards who superintended the mines were at their repast, says Las
Casas, the famished Indians scrambled under the table, like dogs, for any
bone thrown to them. After they had gnawed and sucked it, they pounded it
between stones and mixed it with their cassava bread, that nothing of so
precious a morsel might be lost. As to those who labored in the fields,
they never tasted either flesh or fish; a little cassava bread and a few
roots were their support. While the Spaniards thus withheld the
nourishment necessary to sustain their health and strength, they exacted a
degree of labor sufficient to break down the most vigorous man. If the
Indians fled from this incessant toil and barbarous coercion, and took
refuge in the mountains, they were hunted out like wild beasts, scourged
in the most inhuman manner, and laden with chains to prevent a second
escape. Many perished long before their term of labor had expired. Those
who survived their term of six or eight months, were permitted to return
to their homes, until the next term commenced. But their homes were often
forty, sixty, and eighty leagues distant. They had nothing to sustain them
through the journey but a few roots or agi peppers, or a little cassava
bread. Worn down by long toil and cruel hardships, which their feeble
constitutions were incapable of sustaining, many had not strength to
perform the journey, but sank down and died by the way; some by the side
of a brook, others under the shade of a tree, where they had crawled for
shelter from the sun. "I have found many dead in the road," says Las
Casas, "others gasping under the trees, and others in the pangs of death,
faintly crying, Hunger! hunger!" [206] Those who reached their homes most
commonly found them desolate. During the eight months they had been
absent, their wives and children had either perished or wandered away;
the fields on which they depended for food were overrun with weeds, and
nothing was left them but to lie down, exhausted and despairing, and die
at the threshold of their habitations. [207]

It is impossible to pursue any further the picture drawn by the venerable
Las Casas, not of what he had heard, but of what he had seen; nature and
humanity revolt at the details. Suffice it to say that, so intolerable
were the toils and sufferings inflicted upon this weak and unoffending
race, that they sank under them, dissolving, as it were, from the face of
the earth. Many killed themselves in despair, and even mothers overcame
the powerful instinct of nature, and destroyed the infants at their
breasts, to spare them a life of wretchedness. Twelve years had not
elapsed since the discovery of the island, and several hundred thousand of
its native inhabitants had perished, miserable victims to the grasping
avarice of the white men.

Chapter II.

Massacre at Xaragua.--Fate of Anacaona.


The sufferings of the natives under the civil policy of Ovando have been
briefly shown; it remains to give a concise view of the military
operations of this commander, so lauded by certain of the early historians
for his prudence. By this notice a portion of the eventful history of this
island will be recounted which is connected with the fortunes of Columbus,
and which comprises the thorough subjugation, and, it may also be said,
extermination of the native inhabitants. And first, we must treat of the
disasters of the beautiful province of Xaragua, the seat of hospitality,
the refuge of the suffering Spaniards; and of the fate of the female
cacique, Anacaona, once the pride of the island, and the generous friend
of white men.

Behechio, the ancient cacique of this province, being dead, Anacaona, his
sister, had succeeded to the government. The marked partiality which she
once manifested for the Spaniards had been greatly weakened by the general
misery they had produced in her country; and by the brutal profligacy
exhibited in her immediate dominions by the followers of Roldan. The
unhappy story of the loves of her beautiful daughter Higuenamota, with the
young Spaniard Hernando de Guevara, had also caused her great affliction;
and, finally, the various and enduring hardships inflicted on her once
happy subjects by the grinding systems of labor enforced by Bobadilla and
Ovando, had at length, it is said, converted her friendship into absolute

This disgust was kept alive and aggravated by the Spaniards who lived in
her immediate neighborhood, and had obtained grants of land there; a
remnant of the rebel faction of Roldan, who retained the gross
licentiousness and open profligacy in which they had been indulged under
the loose misrule of that commander, and who made themselves odious to the
inferior caciques, by exacting services tyrannically and capriciously
under the baneful system of repartimientos.

The Indians of this province were uniformly represented as a more
intelligent, polite, and generous-spirited race than any others of the
islands. They were the more prone to feel and resent the overbearing
treatment to which they were subjected. Quarrels sometimes took place
between the caciques and their oppressors. These were immediately reported
to the governor as dangerous mutinies; and a resistance to any capricious
and extortionate exaction was magnified into a rebellious resistance to
the authority of government. Complaints of this kind were continually
pouring in upon Ovando, until he was persuaded by some alarmist, or some
designing mischief-maker, that there was a deep-laid conspiracy among the
Indians of this province to rise upon the Spaniards.

Ovando immediately set out for Xaragua at the head of three hundred
foot-soldiers, armed with swords, arquebuses, and cross-bows, and seventy
horsemen, with cuirasses, bucklers, and lances. He pretended that he was
going on a mere visit of friendship to Anacaona, and to make arrangements
about the payment of tribute.

When Anacaona heard of the intended visit, she summoned all her tributary
caciques, and principal subjects, to assemble at her chief town, that they
might receive the commander of the Spaniards with becoming homage and
distinction. As Ovando, at the head of his little army, approached, she
went forth to meet him, according to the custom of her nation, attended by
a great train of her most distinguished subjects, male and female; who, as
has been before observed, were noted for superior grace and beauty. They
received the Spaniards with their popular areytos, their national songs;
the young women waving palm branches and dancing before them, in the way
that had so much charmed the followers of the Adelantado, on his first
visit to the province.

Anacaona treated the governor with that natural graciousness and dignity
for which she was celebrated. She gave him the largest house in the place
for his residence, and his people were quartered in the houses adjoining.
For several days the Spaniards were entertained with all the natural
luxuries that the province aiforded. National songs and dances and games
were performed for their amusement, and there was every outward
demonstration of the same hospitality, the same amity, that Anacaona had
uniformly shown to white men.

Notwithstanding all this kindness, and notwithstanding her uniform
integrity of conduct, and open generosity of character, Ovando was
persuaded that Anacaoua was secretly meditating a massacre of himself and
his followers. Historians tell us nothing of the grounds for such a
belief. It was too probably produced by the misrepresentations of the
unprincipled adventurers who infested the province. Ovando should have
paused and reflected before he acted upon it. He should have considered
the improbability of such an attempt by naked Indians against so large a
force of steel-clad troops, armed with European weapons: and he should
have reflected upon the general character and conduct of Anacaona. At any
rate, the example set repeatedly by Columbus and his brother the
Adelantado, should have convinced him that it was a sufficient safeguard
against the machinations of the natives, to seize upon their caciques and
detain them as hostages. The policy of Ovando, however, was of a more rash
and sanguinary nature; he acted upon suspicion as upon conviction. He
determined to anticipate the alleged plot by a counter-artifice, and to
overwhelm this defenceless people in an indiscriminate and bloody

As the Indians had entertained their guests with various national games,
Ovando invited them in return to witness certain games of his country.
Among these was a tilting match or joust with reeds; a chivalrous game
which the Spaniards had learnt from the Moors of Granada. The Spanish
cavalry, in those days, were as remarkable for the skillful management, as
for the ostentatious caparison of their horses. Among the troops brought
out from Spain by Ovando, one horseman had disciplined his horse to prance
and curvet in time to the music of a viol. [208] The joust was appointed
to take place of a Sunday after dinner, in the public square, before the
house where Ovando was quartered. The cavalry and foot-soldiers had their
secret instructions. The former were to parade, not merely with reeds or
blunted tilting lances, but with weapons of a more deadly character. The
foot-soldiers were to come apparently as mere spectators, but likewise
armed and ready for action at a concerted signal.

At the appointed time the square was crowded with the Indians, waiting to
see this military spectacle. The caciques were assembled in the house of
Ovando, which looked upon the square. None were armed; an unreserved
confidence prevailed among them, totally incompatible with the dark
treachery of which they were accused. To prevent all suspicion, and take
off all appearance of sinister design, Ovando, after dinner, was playing
at quoits with some of his principal officers, when the cavalry having
arrived in the square, the caciques begged the governor to order the joust
to commence. [209] Anacaona, and her beautiful daughter Higuenamota, with
several of her female attendants, were present and joined in the request.

Ovando left his game and came forward to a conspicuous place. When he saw
that every thing was disposed according to his orders, he gave the fatal
signal. Some say it was by taking hold of a piece of gold which was
suspended about his neck; [210] others by laying his hand on the cross of
Alcantara, which was embroidered on his habit. [211] A trumpet was
immediately sounded. The house in which Anacaona and all the principal
caciques were assembled was surrounded by soldiery, commanded by Diego
Velasquez and Rodrigo Mexiatrillo, and no one was permitted to escape.
They entered, and seizing upon the caciques, bound them to the posts which
supported the roof. Anacaona was led forth a prisoner. The unhappy
caciques were then put to horrible tortures, until some of them, in the
extremity of anguish, were made to accuse their queen and themselves of
the plot with which they were charged. When this cruel mockery of
judicial form had been executed, instead of preserving them for
after-examination, fire was set to the house, and all the caciques
perished miserably in the flames.

While these barbarities were practised upon the chieftains, a horrible
massacre took place among the populace. At the signal of Ovando, the
horsemen rushed into the midst of the naked and defenceless throng,
trampling them under the hoofs of their steeds, cutting them down with
their swords, and transfixing them with their spears. No mercy was shown
to age or sex; it was a savage and indiscriminate butchery. Now and then a
Spanish horseman, either through an emotion of pity, or an impulse of
avarice, caught up a child, to bear it off in safety; but it was
barbarously pierced by the lances of his companions. Humanity turns with
horror from such atrocities, and would fain discredit them; but they are
circumstantially and still more minutely recorded by the venerable bishop
Las Casas, who was resident in the island at the time, and conversant with
the principal actors in this tragedy. He may have colored the picture
strongly, in his usual indignation when the wrongs of the Indians are in
question; yet, from all concurring accounts, and from many precise facts
which speak for themselves, the scene must have been most sanguinary and
atrocious. Oviedo, who is loud in extolling the justice, and devotion, and
charity, and meekness of Ovando, and his kind treatment of the Indians;
and who visited the province of Xaragua a few years afterwards, records
several of the preceding circumstances; especially the cold-blooded game
of quoits played by the governor on the verge of such a horrible scene,
and the burning of the caciques, to the number, he says, of more than
forty. Diego Mendez, who was at Xaragua at the time, and doubtless present
on such an important occasion, says incidentally, in his last will and
testament, that there were eighty-four caciques either burnt or hanged.
[212] Las Casas says, that there were eighty who entered the house with
Anacaona. The slaughter of the multitude must have been great; and this
was inflicted on an unarmed and unresisting throng. Several who escaped
from the massacre fled in their canoes to an island about eight leagues
distant, called Guanabo. They were pursued and taken, and condemned to

As to the princess Anacaona, she was carried in chains to San Domingo. The
mockery of a trial was given her, in which she was found guilty on the
confessions wrung by tortures from her subjects, and on the testimony of
their butchers; and she was ignominiously hanged in the presence of the
people whom she had so long and so signally befriended. [213] Oviedo has
sought to throw a stigma on the character of this unfortunate princess,
accusing her of great licentiousness; but he was prone to criminate the
character of the native princes, who fell victims to the ingratitude and
injustice of his countrymen. Contemporary writers of greater authority
have concurred in representing Anacaona as remarkable for her native
propriety and dignity. She was adored by her subjects, so as to hold a
kind of dominion over them even during the lifetime of her brother; she
is said to have been skilled in composing the areytos, or legendary
ballads of her nation, and may have conduced much towards producing that
superior degree of refinement remarked among her people. Her grace and
beauty had made her renowned throughout the island, and had excited the
admiration both of the savage and the Spaniard. Her magnanimous spirit
was evinced in her amicable treatment of the white men, although her
husband, the brave Caonabo, had perished a prisoner in their hands; and
defenceless parties of them had been repeatedly in her power, and lived
at large in her dominions. After having, for several years, neglected
all safe opportunities of vengeance, she fell a victim to the absurd
charge of having conspired against an armed body of nearly four hundred
men, seventy of them horsemen; a force sufficient to have subjugated
large armies of naked Indians.

After the massacre of Xaragua, the destruction of its inhabitants still
continued. The favorite nephew of Anacaona, the cacique Guaora, who had
fled to the mountains, was hunted like a wild beast, until he was taken,
and likewise hanged. For six months the Spaniards continued ravaging the
country with horse and foot, under pretext of quelling insurrections; for,
wherever the affrighted natives took refuge in their despair, herding in
dismal caverns and in the fastnesses of the mountains, they were
represented as assembling in arms to make a head of rebellion. Having at
length hunted them out of their retreats, destroyed many, and reduced the
survivors to the most deplorable misery and abject submission, the whole
of that part of the island was considered as restored to good order; and
in commemoration of this great triumph, Ovando founded a town near to the
lake, which he called Santa Maria de la Verdadera Paz (St. Mary of the
True Peace). [214]

Such is the tragical history of the delightful region of Xaragua, and of
its amiable and hospitable people. A place which the Europeans, by their
own account, found a perfect paradise, but which, by their vile passions,
they filled with horror and desolation.

Chapter III.

War with the Natives of Higuey.


The subjugation of four of the Indian sovereignties of Hispaniola, and the
disastrous fate of their caciques, have been already related. Under the
administration of Ovando, was also accomplished the downfall of Higuey,
the last of those independent districts; a fertile province which
comprised the eastern extremity of the island.

The people of Higuey were of a more warlike spirit than those of the other
provinces, having learned the effectual use of their weapons, from
frequent contests with their Carib invaders. They were governed by a
cacique named Cotabanama. Las Casas describes this chieftain from actual
observation, and draws the picture of a native hero. He was, he says, the
strongest of his tribe, and more perfectly formed than one man in a
thousand of any nation whatever. He was taller in stature than the tallest
of his countrymen, a yard in breadth from shoulder to shoulder, and the
rest of his body in admirable proportion. His aspect was not handsome, but
grave and courageous. His bow was not easily bent by a common man; his
arrows were three-pronged, tipped with the bones of fishes, and his
weapons appeared to be intended for a giant. In a word, he was so nobly
proportioned, as to be the admiration even of the Spaniards.

While Cloumbus was engaged in his fourth voyage, and shortly after the
accession of Ovando to office, there was an insurrection of this cacique
and his people. A shallop, with eight Spaniards, was surprised at the
small island of Saona, adjacent to Higuey, and all the crew slaughtered.
This was in revenge for the death of a cacique, torn to pieces by a dog
wantonly set upon him by a Spaniard, and for which the natives had in vain
sued for redress.

Ovando immediately dispatched Juan de Esquibel, a courageous officer, at
the head of four hundred men, to quell the insurrection, and punish the
massacre. Cotabanama assembled his warriors, and prepared for vigorous
resistance. Distrustful of the mercy of the Spaniards, the chieftain
rejected all overtures of peace, and the war was prosecuted with some
advantage to the natives. The Indians had now overcome their superstitious
awe of the white men as supernatural beings, and though they could ill
withstand the superiority of European arms, they manifested a courage and
dexterity that rendered them enemies not to be despised. Las Casas and
other historians relate a bold and romantic encounter between a single
Indian and two mounted cavaliers named Valtenebro and Portevedra, in which
the Indian, though pierced through the body by the lances and swords of
both his assailants, retained his fierceness, and continued the combat,
until he fell dead in the possession of all their weapons. [215] This
gallant action, says Las Casas, was public and notorious.

The Indians were soon defeated and driven to their mountain retreats. The
Spaniards pursued them into their recesses, discovered their wives and
children, wreaked on them the most indiscriminate slaughter, and committed
their chieftains to the flames. An aged female cacique of great
distinction, named Higuanama, being taken prisoner, was hanged.

A detachment was sent in a caravel to the island of Saona, to take
particular vengeance for the destruction of the shallop and its crew. The
natives made a desperate defence and fled. The island was mountainous, and
full of caverns, in which the Indians vainly sought for refuge. Six or
seven hundred were imprisoned in a dwelling, and all put to the sword or
poniarded. Those of the inhabitants who were spared were carried off as
slaves; and the island was left desolate and deserted.

The natives of Higuey were driven to despair, seeing that there was no
escape for them even in the bowels of the earth: [216] they sued for
peace, which was granted them, and protection promised on condition of
their cultivating a large tract of land, and paying a great quantity of
bread in tribute. The peace being concluded, Cotabanama visited the
Spanish camp, where his gigantic proportions and martial demeanor made
him an object of curiosity and admiration. He was received with great
distinction by Esquibel, and they exchanged names; an Indian league of
fraternity and perpetual friendship. The natives thenceforward called the
cacique Juan de Esquibel, and the Spanish commander Cotabanama. Esquibel
then built a wooden fortress in an Indian village near the sea, and left
in it nine men, with a captain named Martin de Villaman. After this, the
troops dispersed, every man returning home, with his proportion of slaves
gained in this expedition.

The pacification was not of long continuance, About the time that succors
were sent to Columbus, to rescue him from the wrecks of his vessels at
Jamaica, a new revolt broke out in Higuey, in consequence of the
oppressions of the Spaniards, and a violation of the treaty made by
Esquibel. Martin de Villaman demanded that the natives should not only
raise the grain stipulated for by the treaty, but convey it to San
Domingo, and he treated them with the greatest severity on their refusal.
He connived also at the licentious conduct of his men towards the Indian
women; the Spaniards often taking from the natives their daughters and
sisters, and even their wives. [217] The Indians, roused at last to fury,
rose on their tyrants, slaughtered them, and burnt their wooden fortress
to the ground. Only one of the Spaniards escaped, and bore the tidings
of this catastrophe to the city of San Domingo.

Ovando gave immediate orders to carry fire and sword into the province of
Higuey. The Spanish troops mustered from various quarters on the confines
of that province, when Juan de Esquibel took the command, and had a great
number of Indians with him as allies. The towns of Higuey were generally
built among the mountains. Those mountains rose in terraces, from ten to
fifteeen leagues in length and breadth; rough and rocky, interspersed with
glens of a red soil, remarkably fertile, where they raised their cassava
bread. The ascent from terrace to terrace was about fifty feet; steep and
precipitous, formed of the living rock, and resembling a wall wrought with
tools into rough diamond points. Each village had four wide streets, a
stone's throw in length, forming a cross, the trees being cleared away
from them, and from a public square in the centre.

When the Spanish troops arrived on the frontiers, alarm-fires along the
mountains and columns of smoke spread the intelligence by night and day.
The old men, the women, and children, were sent off to the forests and
caverns, and the warriors prepared for battle. The Castilians paused in
one of the plains clear of forests, where their horses could be of use.
They made prisoners of several of the natives, and tried to learn from
them the plans and forces of the enemy. They applied tortures for the
purpose, but in vain, so devoted was the loyalty of these people to their
caciques. The Spaniards penetrated into the interior. They found the
warriors of several towns assembled in one, and drawn up in the streets
with their bows and arrows, but perfectly naked, and without defensive
armor. They uttered tremendous yells, and discharged a shower of arrows;
but from such a distance, that they fell short of their foe. The Spaniards
replied with their cross-bows, and with two or three arquebuses, for at
this time they had but few firearms. When the Indians saw several of their
comrades fall dead, they took to flight, rarely waiting for the attack
with swords: some of the wounded, in whose bodies the arrows from the
cross-bows had penetrated to the very feather, drew them out with their
hands, broke them with their teeth, and hurling them at the Spaniards with
impotent fury, fell dead upon the spot.

The whole force of the Indians was routed and dispersed, each family, or
band of neighbors, fled in its own direction, and concealed itself in the
fastness of the mountains. The Spaniards pursued them, but found the chase
difficult amidst the close forests, and the broken and stony heights. They
took several prisoners as guides, and inflicted incredible torments on
them, to compel them to betray their countrymen. They drove them before
them, secured by cords fastened round their necks; and some of them, as
they passed along the brinks of precipices, suddenly threw themselves
headlong down, in hopes of dragging after them the Spaniards. When at
length the pursuers came upon the unhappy Indians in their concealments,
they spared neither age nor sex; even pregnant women, and mothers with
infants in their arms, fell beneath their merciless swords. The
cold-blooded acts of cruelty which followed this first slaughter would be
shocking to relate.

Hence Esquibel marched to attack the town where Cotabanama resided, and
where that cacique had collected a great force to resist him. He proceeded
direct for the place along the sea-coast, and came to where two roads led
up the mountain to the town. One of the roads was open and inviting; the
branches of the trees being lopped, and all the underwood cleared away.
Here the Indians had stationed an ambuscade to take the Spaniards in the
rear. The other road was almost closed up by trees and bushes cut down and
thrown across each other. Esquibel was wary and distrustful; he suspected
the stratagem, and chose the encumbered road. The town was about a league
and a half from the sea. The Spaniards made their way with great
difficulty for the first half league. The rest of the road was free from
all embarrassment, which confirmed their suspicion of a stratagem. They
now advanced with great rapidity, and, having arrived near the village,
suddenly turned into the other road, took the party in ambush by surprise,
and made great havoc among them with their cross-bows.

The warriors now sallied from their concealment, others rushed out of the
houses into the streets, and discharged flights of arrows, but from such a
distance as generally to fall harmless. They then approached nearer, and
hurled stones with their hands, being unacquainted with the use of slings.
Instead of being dismayed at seeing their companions fall, it rather
increased their fury. An irregular battle, probably little else than wild
skirmishing and bush-fighting, was kept up from two o'clock in the
afternoon until night. Las Casas was present on the occasion, and, from
his account, the Indians must have shown instances of great personal
bravery, though the inferiority of their weapons, and the want of all
defensive armor, rendered their valor totally ineffectual. As the evening
shut in, their hostilities gradually ceased, and they disappeared in the
profound gloom and close thickets of the surrounding forest. A deep
silence succeeded to their yells and war-whoops, and throughout the night
the Spaniards remained in undisturbed possession of the village.

Chapter IV.

Close of the War with Higuey.--Fate of Cotabanama.


On the morning after the battle, not an Indian was to be seen. Finding
that even their great chief, Cotabanama, was incapable of vying with the
prowess of the white men, they had given up the contest in despair, and
fled to the mountains. The Spaniards, separating into small parties,
hunted them with the utmost diligence; their object was to seize the
caciques, and, above all, Cotabanama. They explored all the glens and
concealed paths leading into the wild recesses where the fugitives had
taken refuge. The Indians were cautious and stealthy in their mode of
retreating, treading in each other's foot-prints, so that twenty would
make no more track than one, and stepping so lightly as scarce to disturb
the herbage; yet there were Spaniards so skilled in hunting Indians, that
they could trace them even by the turn of a withered leaf, and among the
confused tracks of a thousand animals.

They could scent afar off, also, the smoke of the fires which the Indians
made whenever they halted, and thus they would come upon them in their
most secret haunts. Sometimes they would hunt down a straggling Indian,
and compel him, by torments, to betray the hiding-place of his companions,
binding him and driving him before them as a guide. Wherever they
discovered one of these places of refuge, filled with the aged and the
infirm, with feeble women and helpless children, they massacred them
without mercy. They wished to inspire terror throughout the land, and to
frighten the whole tribe into submission. They cut off the hands of those
whom they took roving at large, and sent them, as they said, to deliver
them as letters to their friends, demanding their surrender. Numberless
were those, says Las Casas, whose hands were amputated in this manner, and
many of them sank down and died by the way, through anguish and loss of

The conquerors delighted in exercising strange and ingenious cruelties.
They mingled horrible levity with their blood-thirstiness. They erected
gibbets long and low, so that the feet of the sufferers might reach the
ground, and their death be lingering. They hanged thirteen together, in
reverence, says the indignant Las Casas, of our blessed Saviour and the
twelve apostles. While their victims were suspended, and still living,
they hacked them with their swords, to prove the strength of their arms
and the edge of their weapons. They wrapped them in dry straw, and setting
fire to it, terminated their existence by the fiercest agony.

These are horrible details, yet a veil is drawn over others still more
detestable. They are related circumstantially by Las Casas, who was an
eye-witness. He was young at the time, but records them in his advanced
years. "All these things," says the venerable Bishop, "and others
revolting to human nature, did my own eyes behold; and now I almost fear
to repeat them, scarce believing myself, or whether I have not dreamt
them." [218]

These details would have been withheld from the present work as
disgraceful to human nature, and from an unwillingness to advance any
thing which might convey a stigma upon a brave and generous nation. But it
would be a departure from historical veracity, having the documents before
my eyes, to pass silently over transactions so atrocious, and vouched for
by witnesses beyond all suspicion of falsehood. Such occurrences show the
extremity to which human cruelty may extend, when stimulated by avidity of
gain; by a thirst of vengeance; or even by a perverted zeal in the holy
cause of religion. Every nation has in turn furnished proofs of this
disgraceful truth. As in the present instance, they are commonly the
crimes of individuals rather than of the nation. Yet it behooves
governments to keep a vigilant eye upon those to whom they delegate power
in remote and helpless colonies. It is the imperious duty of the historian
to place these matters upon record, that they may serve as warning beacons
to future generations.

Juan de Esquibel found that, with all his severities, it would be
impossible to subjugate the tribe of Higuey, as long as the cacique
Cotabanama was at large. That chieftain had retired to the little island
of Saona, about two leagues from the coast of Higuey, in the centre of
which, amidst a labyrinth of rocks and forests, he had taken shelter with
his wife and children in a vast cavern.

A caravel, recently arrived from the city of San Domingo with supplies for
the camp, was employed by Esquibel to entrap the cacique. He knew that the
latter kept a vigilant look-out, stationing scouts upon the lofty rocks of
his island to watch the movements of the caravel. Esquibel departed by
night, therefore, in the vessel, with fifty followers, and keeping under
the deep shadows cast by the land, arrived at Saona unperceived, at the
dawn of morning. Here he anchored close in with the shore, hid by its
cliffs and forests, and landed forty men, before the spies of Cotabanama
had taken their station. Two of these were surprised and brought to
Esquibel, who, having learnt from them that the cacique was at hand,
poniarded one of the spies, and bound the other, making him serve as

A number of Spaniards ran in advance, each anxious to signalize himself by
the capture of the cacique. They came to two roads, and the whole party
pursued that to the right, excepting one Juan Lopez, a powerful man,
skillful in Indian warfare. He proceeded in a footpath to the left,
winding among little hills, so thickly wooded that it was impossible to
see any one at the distance of half a bow-shot. Suddenly, in a narrow
pass, overshadowed by rocks and trees, he encountered twelve Indian
warriors, armed with bows and arrows, and following each other in single
file according to their custom. The Indians were confounded at the sight
of Lopez, imagining that there must be a party of soldiers behind him.
They might readily have transfixed him with their arrows, but they had
lost all presence of mind. He demanded their chieftain. They replied that
he was behind, and, opening to let him pass, Lopez beheld the cacique in
the rear. At sight of the Spaniard, Cotabanama bent his gigantic bow, and
was on the point of launching one of his three-pronged arrows, but Lopez
rushed upon him and wounded him with his sword. The other Indians, struck
with panic, had already fled. Cotabanama, dismayed at the keenness of the
sword, cried out that he was Juan de Esquibel, claiming respect as having
exchanged names with the Spanish commander. Lopez seized him with one hand
by the hair, and with the other aimed a thrust at his body; but the
cacique struck down the sword with his hand, and, grappling with his
antagonist, threw him with his back upon the rocks. As they were both men
of great power, the struggle was long and violent. The sword was beneath
them, but Cotabanama, seizing the Spaniard by the throat with his mighty
hand, attempted to strangle him. The sound of the contest brought the
other Spaniards to the spot. They found their companion writhing and
gasping, and almost dead, in the gripe of the gigantic Indian. They seized
the cacique, bound him, and carried him captive to a deserted Indian
village in the vicinity. They found the way to his secret cave, but his
wife and children, having received notice of his capture by the fugitive
Indians, had taken refuge in another part of the island. In the cavern was
found the chain with which a number of Indian captives had been bound, who
had risen upon and slain three Spaniards who had them in charge, and had
made their escape to this island. There were also the swords of the same
Spaniards, which they had brought off as trophies to their cacique. The
chain was now employed to manacle Cotabanama.

The Spaniards prepared to execute the chieftain on the spot, in the centre
of the deserted village. For this purpose a pyre was built of logs of wood
laid crossways, in form of a gridiron, on which he was to be slowly
broiled to death. On further consultation, however, they were induced to
forego the pleasure of this horrible sacrifice. Perhaps they thought the
cacique too important a personage to be executed thus obscurely. Granting
him, therefore, a transient reprieve, they conveyed him to the caravel,
and sent him, bound with heavy chains, to San Domingo. Ovando saw him in
his power, and incapable of doing further harm; but he had not the
magnanimity to forgive a fallen enemy, whose only crime was the defence of
his native soil and lawful territority. He ordered him to be publicly
hanged like a common culprit. [219] In this ignominious manner was the
cacique Cotabanama executed, the last of the five sovereign princes of
Hayti. His death was followed by the complete subjugation of his people,
and sealed the last struggle of the natives against their oppressors. The
island was almost unpeopled of its original inhabitants, and meek and
mournful submission and mute despair settled upon the scanty remnant that

Such was the ruthless system which had been pursued, during the absence of
the admiral, by the commander Ovando; this man of boasted prudence and
moderation, who was sent to reform the abuses of the island, and above
all, to redress the wrongs of the natives. The system of Columbus may have
borne hard upon the Indians, born and brought up in untasked freedom, but
it was never cruel nor sanguinary. He inflicted no wanton massacres nor
vindictive punishments; his desire was to cherish and civilize the
Indians, and to render them useful subjects; not to oppress, and
persecute, and destroy them. When he beheld the desolation that had swept
them from the land during his suspension from authority, he could not
restrain the strong expression of his feelings. In a letter written to the
king after his return to Spain, he thus expresses himself on the subject:
"The Indians of Hispaniola were and are the riches of the island; for it
is they who cultivate and make the bread and the provisions for the
Christians; who dig the gold from the mines, and perform all the offices
and labors both of men and beasts. I am informed that, since I left this
island, six parts out of seven of the natives are dead; all through ill
treatment and inhumanity; some by the sword, others by blows and cruel
usage, others through hunger. The greater part have perished in the
mountains and glens, whither they had fled, from not being able to support
the labor imposed upon them." For his own part, he added, although he had
sent many Indians to Spain to be sold, it was always with a view to their
being instructed in the Christian faith, and in civilized arts and usages,
and afterwards sent back to their island to assist in civilizing their
countrymen. [220]

The brief view that has been given of the policy of Ovando, on certain
points on which Columbus was censured, may enable the reader to judge more
correctly of the conduct of the latter. It is not to be measured by the
standard of right and wrong established in the present more enlightened
age. We must consider him in connection with the era in which he lived. By
comparing his measures with those men of his own times praised for their
virtues and abilities, placed in precisely his own situation, and placed
there expressly to correct his faults, we shall be the better able to
judge how virtuously and wisely, under the peculiar circumstances of the
case, he may be considered to have governed.


Chapter I.

Departure of Columbus for San Domingo.--His Return to Spain.

The arrival at Jamaica of the two vessels under the command of Salcedo had
caused a joyful reverse in the situation of Columbus. He hastened to leave
the wreck in which he had been so long immured, and hoisting his flag on
board of one of the ships, felt as if the career of enterprise and glory
were once more open to him. The late partisans of Porras, when they heard
of the arrival of the ships, came wistful and abject to the harbor,
doubting how far they might trust to the magnanimity of a man whom they
had so greatly injured, and who had now an opportunity of vengeance. The
generous mind, however, never harbors revenge in the hour of returning
prosperity; but feels noble satisfaction in sharing its happiness even
with its enemies. Columbus forgot, in his present felicity, all that he
had suffered from these men; he ceased to consider them enemies, now that
they had lost the power to injure; and he not only fulfilled all that he
had promised them, by taking them on board the ships, but relieved their
necessities from his own purse, until their return to Spain; and
afterwards took unwearied pains to recommend them to the bounty of the
sovereigns. Francisco Porras alone continued a prisoner, to be tried by
the tribunals of his country.

Oviedo assures us that the Indians wept when they beheld the departure of
the Spaniards; still considering them as beings from the skies. From the
admiral, it is true, they had experienced nothing but just and gentle
treatment, and continual benefits; and the idea of his immediate influence
with the Deity, manifested on the memorable occasion of the eclipse, may
have made them consider him as more than human, and his presence as
propitious to their island; but it is not easy to believe that a lawless
gang like that of Porras, could have been ranging for months among their
villages, without giving cause for the greatest joy at their departure.

On the 28th of June the vessels set sail for San Domingo. The adverse
winds and currents which had opposed Columbus throughout this ill-starred
expedition, still continued to harass him. After a weary struggle of
several weeks, he reached, on the 3d of August, the little island of
Beata, on the coast of Hispaniola. Between this place and San Domingo the
currents are so violent, that vessels are often detained months, waiting
for sufficient wind to enable them to stem the stream. Hence Columbus
dispatched a letter by land to Ovando, to inform him of his approach, and
to remove certain absurd suspicions of his views, which he had learnt from
Salcedo were still entertained by the governor; who feared his arrival in
the island might produce factions and disturbances. In this letter he
expresses, with his usual warmth and simplicity, the joy he felt at his,
deliverance, which was so great, he says, that, since the arrival of Diego
de Salcedo with succor, he had scarcely been able to sleep. The letter had
barely time to precede the writer, for, a favorable wind springing up, the
vessels again made sail, and, on the 13th of August, anchored in the
harbor of San Domingo.

If it is the lot of prosperity to awaken envy and excite detraction, it is
certainly the lot of misfortune to atone for a multitude of faults. San
Domingo had been the very hot-bed of sedition against Columbus in the day
of his power; he had been hurried from it in ignominious chains, amidst
the shouts and taunts of the triumphant rabble; he had been excluded from
its harbor, when, as commander of a squadron, he craved shelter from an
impending tempest; but now that he arrived in its waters, a broken-down
and shipwrecked man, all past hostility was overpowered by the popular
sense of his late disasters. There was a momentary burst of enthusiasm in
his favor; what had been denied to his merits was granted to his
misfortunes; and even the envious, appeased by his present reverses,
seemed to forgive him for having once been so triumphant.

The governor and principal inhabitants came forth to meet him, and
received him with signal distinction. He was lodged as a guest in the
house of Ovando, who treated him with the utmost courtesy and attention.
The governor was a shrewd and discreet man, and much of a courtier; but
there were causes of jealousy and distrust between him and Columbus too
deep to permit of cordial intercourse. The admiral and his son Fernando
always pronounced the civility of Ovando overstrained and hypocritical;
intended to obliterate the remembrance of past neglect, and to conceal
lurking enmity. While he professed the utmost friendship and sympathy for
the admiral, he set at liberty the traitor Porras, who was still a
prisoner, to be taken to Spain for trial. He also talked of punishing
those of the admiral's people who had taken arms in his defence, and in
the affray at Jamaica had killed several of the mutineers. These
circumstances were loudly complained of by Columbus; but, in fact, they
rose out of a question of jurisdiction between him and the governor. Their
powers were so undefined as to clash with each other, and they were both
disposed to be extremely punctilious. Ovando assumed a right to take
cognizance of all transactions at Jamaica; as happening within the limits
of his government, which included all the islands and Terra Firma.
Columbus, on the other hand, asserted the absolute command, and the
jurisdiction both civil and criminal given to him by the sovereigns, over
all persons who sailed in his expedition, from the time of departure until
their return to Spain. To prove this, he produced his letter of
instructions. The governor heard him with great courtesy and a smiling
countenance; but observed, that the letter of instructions gave him no
authority within the bounds of his government. [221] He relinquished the
idea, however, of investigating the conduct of the followers of Columbus,
and sent Porras to Spain, to be examined by the board which had charge of
the affairs of the Indies.

The sojourn of Columbus at San Domingo was but little calculated to yield
him satisfaction. He was grieved at the desolation of the island by the
oppressive treatment of the natives, and the horrible massacre which had
been perpetrated by Ovando and his agents. He had fondly hoped, at one
time, to render the natives civilized, industrious, and tributary subjects
to the crown, and to derive from their well-regulated labor a great and
steady revenue. How different had been the event! The five great tribes
which peopled the mountains and the valleys at the time of the discovery,
and rendered, by their mingled towns and villages and tracts of
cultivation, the rich levels of the Vegas so many "painted gardens," had
almost all passed away, and the native princes had perished chiefly by
violent or ignominious deaths. Columbus regarded the affairs of the island
with a different eye from Ovando. He had a paternal feeling for its
prosperity, and his fortunes were implicated in its judicious management.
He complained, in subsequent letters to the sovereigns, that all the
public affairs were ill conducted; that the ore collected lay unguarded in
large quantities in houses slightly built and thatched, inviting
depredation; that Ovando was unpopular, the people were dissolute, and the
property of the crown and the security of the island in continual risk
from mutiny and sedition. [222] While he saw all this, he had no power to
interfere, and any observation or remonstrance on his part was ill
received by the governor.

He found his own immediate concerns in great confusion. His rents and dues
were either uncollected, or he could not obtain a clear account and a full
liquidation of them. Whatever he could collect was appropriated to the
fitting out of the vessels which were to convey himself and his crews to
Spain. He accuses Ovando, in his subsequent letters, of having neglected,
if not sacrificed, his interests during his long absence, and of having
impeded those who were appointed to attend to his concerns. That he had
some grounds for these complaints would appear from two letters still
extant, [223] written by Queen Isabella to Ovando, on the 27th of
November, 1503, in which she informs him of the complaint of Alonzo
Sanchez de Carvajal, that he was impeded in collecting the rents of the
admiral; and expressly commands Ovando to observe the capitulations
granted to Columbus; to respect his agents, and to facilitate, instead
of obstructing, his concerns. These letters, while they imply ungenerous
conduct on the part of the governor towards his illustrious predecessor,
evince likewise the personal interest taken by Isabella in the affairs of
Columbus, during his absence. She had, in fact, signified her displeasure
at his being excluded from the port of San Domingo, when he applied there
for succor for his squadron, and for shelter from a storm; and had
censured Ovando for not taking his advice and detaining the fleet of
Bobadilla, by which it would have escaped its disastrous fate. [224] And
here it may be observed, that the sanguinary acts of Ovando towards the
natives, in particular the massacre at Xaragua, and the execution of the
unfortunate Anacaona, awakened equal horror and indignation in Isabella;
she was languishing on her death-bed when she received the intelligence,
and with her dying breath she exacted a promise from King Ferdinand that
Ovando should immediately be recalled from his government. The promise
was tardily and reluctantly fulfilled, after an interval of about four
years, and not until induced by other circumstances; for Ovando
contrived to propitiate the monarch, by forcing a revenue from the

The continual misunderstandings between the admiral and the governor,
though always qualified on the part of the latter with great complaisance,
induced Columbus to hasten as much as possible his departure from the
island. The ship in which he had returned from Jamaica was repaired and
fitted out, and put under the command of the Adelantado; another vessel
was freighted, in which Columbus embarked with his son and his domestics.
The greater part of his late crews remained at San Domingo; as they were
in great poverty, he relieved their necessities from his own purse, and
advanced the funds necessary for the voyage home of those who chose to
return. Many thus relieved by his generosity had been among the most
violent of the rebels.

On the 12th of September, he set sail; but had scarcely left the harbor
when, in a sudden squall, the mast of his ship was carried away. He
immediately went with his family on board of the vessel commanded by the
Adelantado, and, sending back the damaged ship to port, continued on his
course. Throughout the voyage he experienced the most tempestuous weather.
In one storm the mainmast was sprung in four places. He was confined to
his bed at the time by the gout; by his advice, however, and the activity
of the Adelantado, the damage was skillfully repaired; the mast was
shortened; the weak parts were fortified by wood taken from the castles or
cabins which the vessels in those days carried on the prow and stern; and
the whole was well secured by cords. They were still more damaged in a
succeeding tempest; in which the ship sprung her foremast. In this
crippled state they had to traverse seven hundred leagues of a stormy
ocean. Fortune continued to persecute Columbus to the end of this, his
last and most disastrous expedition. For several weeks he was
tempest-tossed--suffering at the same time the most excruciating pains
from his malady--until, on the seventh day of November, his crazy and
shattered bark anchored in the harbor of San Lucar. Hence he had himself
conveyed to Seville, where he hoped to enjoy repose of mind and body, and
to recruit his health after such a long series of fatigues, anxieties,
and hardships. [225]

Chapter II.

Illness of Columbus at Seville.--Application to the Crown for a
Restitution of His Honors.--Death of Isabella.


Broken by age and infirmities, and worn down by the toils and hardships of
his recent expedition, Columbus had looked forward to Seville as to a
haven of rest, where he might repose awhile from his troubles. Care and
sorrow, however, followed him by sea and land. In varying the scene he but
varied the nature of his distress. "Wearisome days and nights" were
appointed to him for the remainder of his life; and the very margin of his
grave was destined to be strewed with thorns.

On arriving at Seville, he found all his affairs in confusion. Ever since
he had been sent home in chains from San Domingo, when his house and
effects had been taken possession of by Bobadilla, his rents and dues had
never been properly collected; and such as had been gathered had been
retained in the hands of the governor Ovando. "I have much vexation from
the governor," says he, in a letter to his son Diego. [226] "All tell me
that I have there eleven or twelve thousand castellanos; and I have not
received a quarto. ... I know well, that, since my departure, he must have
received upwards of five thousand castellanos." He entreated that a letter
might be written by the king, commanding the payment of these arrears
without delay; for his agents would not venture even to speak to Ovando on
the subject, unless empowered by a letter from the sovereign.

Columbus was not of a mercenary spirit; but his rank and situation
required large expenditure. The world thought him in the possession of
sources of inexhaustible wealth; but, as yet, those sources had furnished
him but precarious and scanty streams. His last voyage had exhausted his
finances, and involved him in perplexities. All that he had been able to
collect of the money due to him in Hispaniola, to the amount of twelve
hundred castellanos, had been expended in bringing home many of his late
crew, who were in distress; and for the greater part of the sum the crown
remained his debtor. While struggling to obtain his mere pecuniary dues,
he was absolutely suffering a degree of penury. He repeatedly urges the
necessity of economy to his son Diego, until he can obtain a restitution
of his property, and the payment of his arrears. "I receive nothing of the
revenue due to me," says he, in one letter; "I live by borrowing." "Little
have I profited," he adds, in another, "by twenty years of service, with
such toils and perils; since, at present, I do not own a roof in Spain. If
I desire to eat or sleep, I have no resort but an inn; and, for the most
times, have not wherewithal to pay my bill."

Yet in the midst of these personal distresses, he was more solicitous for
the payment of his seamen than of himself. He wrote strongly and
repeatedly to the sovereigns, entreating the discharge of their arrears,
and urged his son Diego, who was at court, to exert himself in their
behalf. "They are poor," said he, "and it is now nearly three years since
they left their homes. They have endured infinite toils and perils, and
they bring invaluable tidings, for which their majesties ought to give
thanks to God and rejoice." Notwithstanding his generous solicitude for
these men, he knew several of them to have been his enemies; nay, that
some of them were at this very time disposed to do him harm rather than
good; such was the magnanimity of his spirit and his forgiving

The same zeal, also, for the interests of his sovereigns, which had ever
actuated his loyal mind, mingled with his other causes of solicitude. He
represented in his letter to the king, the mismanagement of the royal
rents in Hispaniola, under the administration of Ovando. Immense
quantities of ore lay unprotected in slightly-built houses, and liable to
depredations. It required a person of vigor, and one who had an individual
interest in the property of the island, to restore its affairs to order,
and draw from it the immense revenues which it was capable of yielding;
and Columbus plainly intimated that he was the proper person.

In fact, as to himself, it was not so much pecuniary indemnification that
he sought, as the restoration of his offices and dignities. He regarded
them as the trophies of his illustrious achievements; he had received the
royal promise that he should be reinstated in them; and he felt that as
long as they were withheld, a tacit censure rested upon his name. Had he
not been proudly impatient on this subject, he would have belied the
loftiest part of his character; for he who can be indifferent to the
wreath of triumph, is deficient in the noble ambition which incites to
glorious deeds.

The unsatisfactory replies received to his letters disquieted his mind. He
knew that he had active enemies at court ready to turn all things to his
disadvantage, and felt the importance of being there in person to defeat
their machinations: but his infirmities detained him at Seville. He made
an attempt to set forth on the journey, but the severity of the winter and
the virulence of his malady obliged him to relinquish it in despair. All
that he could do was to reiterate his letters to the sovereigns, and to
entreat the intervention of his few but faithful friends. He feared the
disastrous occurrences of the last voyage might be represented to his
prejudice. The great object of the expedition, the discovery of a strait
opening from the Caribbean to a southern sea, had failed. The secondary
object, the acquisition of gold, had not been completed. He had discovered
the gold mines of Veragua, it is true; but he had brought home no
treasure; because, as he said, in one of his letters, "I would not rob nor
outrage the country; since reason requires that it should be settled, and
then the gold may be procured without violence."

He was especially apprehensive that the violent scenes in the island of
Jamaica might, by the perversity of his enemies, and the effrontery of the
delinquents, be wrested into matters of accusation against him, as had
been the case with the rebellion of Roldan. Porras, the ringleader of the
late faction, had been sent home by Ovando, to appear before the board of
the Indies; but without any written process, setting forth the offences
charged against him. While at Jamaica, Columbus had ordered an inquest of
the affair to be taken; but the notary of the squadron who took it, and
the papers which he drew up, were on board of the ship in which the
admiral had sailed from Hispaniola, but which had put back dismasted. No
cognizance of the case, therefore, was taken by the council of the Indies;
and Porras went at large, armed with the power and the disposition to do
mischief. Being related to Morales, the royal treasurer, he had access to
people in place, and an opportunity of enlisting their opinions and
prejudices on his side. Columbus wrote to Morales, inclosing a copy of the
petition which the rebels had sent to him when in Jamaica, in which they
acknowledged their culpability, and implored his forgiveness; and he
entreated the treasurer not to be swayed by the representations of his
relative, nor to pronounce an opinion unfavorable to him, until he had an
opportunity of being heard.

The faithful and indefatigable Diego Mendez was at this time at the court,
as well as Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, and an active friend of Columbus
named Geronimo. They could bear the most important testimony as to his
conduct, and he wrote to his son Diego to call upon them for their good
offices. "I trust," said he, "that the truth and diligence of Diego Mendez
will be of as much avail as the lies of Porras." Nothing can surpass the
affecting earnestness and simplicity of the general declaration of
loyalty, contained in one of his letters. "I have served their majesties,"
says he, "with as much zeal and diligence as if it had been to gain
Paradise; and if I have failed in any thing, it has been because my
knowledge and powers went no further."

While reading these touching appeals, we can scarcely realize the fact,
that the dejected individual thus wearily and vainly applying for
unquestionable rights, and pleading almost like a culprit, in cases
wherein he had been flagrantly injured, was the same who but a few years
previously had been received at this very court with almost regal honors,
and idolized as a national benefactor; that this, in a word, was Columbus,
the discoverer of the New World; broken in health, and impoverished in his
old days by his very discoveries.

At length the caravel bringing the official proceedings relative to the
brothers Porras arrived at the Algarves, in Portugal, and Columbus looked
forward with hope that all matters would soon be placed in a proper light.
His anxiety to get to court became every day more intense. A litter was
provided to convey him thither, and was actually at the door, but the
inclemency of the weather and his increasing infirmities obliged him again
to abandon the journey. His resource of letter-writing began to fail him:
he could only write at night, for in the daytime the severity of his
malady deprived him of the use of his hands. The tidings from the court
were every day more and more adverse to his hopes; the intrigues of his
enemies were prevailing; the cold-hearted Ferdinand treated all his
applications with indifference; the generous Isabella lay dangerously ill.
On her justice and magnanimity he still relied for the full restoration of
his rights, and the redress of all his grievances. "May it please the Holy
Trinity," says he, "to restore our sovereign queen to health; for by her
will every thing be adjusted which is now in confusion." Alas! while
writing that letter, his noble benefactress was a corpse!

The health of Isabella had long been undermined by the shocks of repeated
domestic calamities. The death of her only son, the prince Juan; of her
beloved daughter and bosom friend, the princess Isabella; and of her
grandson and prospective heir, the prince Miguel, had been three cruel
wounds to a heart full of the tenderest sensibility. To these was added
the constant grief caused by the evident infirmity of intellect of her
daughter Juana, and the domestic unhappiness of that princess with her
husband, the archduke Philip. The desolation which walks through palaces
admits not the familiar sympathies and sweet consolations which alleviate
the sorrows of common life. Isabella pined in state, amidst the obsequious
homages of a court, surrounded by the trophies of a glorious and
successful reign, and placed at the summit of earthly grandeur. A deep and
incurable melancholy settled upon her, which undermined her constitution,
and gave a fatal acuteness to her bodily maladies. After four months of
illness, she died on the 2eth of November, 1504, at Medina del Campo, in
the fifty-fourth year of her age; but long before her eyes closed upon the
world, her heart had closed on all its pomps and vanities. "Let my body,"
said she in her will, "be interred in the monastery of San Francisco,
which is in the Alhambra of the city of Granada, in a low sepulchre,
without any monument except a plain stone, with the inscription cut on it.
But I desire and command, that if the king, my lord, should choose a
sepulchre in any church or monastery in any other part or place of these
my kingdoms, my body be transported thither, and buried beside the body of
his highness; so that the union we have enjoyed while living, and which,
through the mercy of God, we hope our souls will experience in heaven, may
be represented by our bodies in the earth." [227]

Such was one of several passages in the will of this admirable woman,
which bespoke the chastened humility of her heart; and in which, as has
been well observed, the affections of conjugal love were delicately
entwined with piety, and with the most tender melancholy. [228] She
was one of the purest spirits that ever ruled over the destinies of a
nation. Had she been spared, her benignant vigilance would have prevented
many a scene of horror in the colonization of the New World, and might
have softened the lot of its native inhabitants. As it is, her fair name
will ever shine with celestial radiance in the dawning of its history.

The news of the death of Isabella reached Columbus when he was writing a
letter to his son Diego. He notices it in a postscript or memorandum,
written in the haste and brevity of the moment, but in beautifully
touching and mournful terms. "A memorial," he writes, "for thee, my dear
son Diego, of what is at present to be done. The principal thing is to
commend affectionately, and with great devotion, the soul of the queen our
sovereign to God. Her life was always catholic and holy, and prompt to all
things in his holy service: for this reason we may rest assured that she
is received into his glory, and beyond the cares of this rough and weary
world. The next thing is to watch and labor in all matters for the service
of our sovereign the king, and to endeavor to alleviate his grief. His
majesty is the head of Christendom. Remember the proverb which says, when
the head suffers all the members suffer. Therefore all good Christians
should pray for his health and long life; and we, who are in his employ,
ought more than others to do this with all study and diligence."

It is impossible to read this mournful letter without being moved by the
simply eloquent yet artless language in which Columbus expresses his
tenderness for the memory of his benefactress, his weariness under the
gathering cares and ills of life, and his persevering and enduring loyalty
towards the sovereign who was so ungratefully neglecting him. It is in
these unstudied and confidential letters that we read the heart of

Chapter III.

Columbus Arrives at Court.--Fruitless Application to the King for Redress.


The death of Isabella was a fatal blow to the fortunes of Columbus. While
she lived, he had every thing to anticipate from her high sense of
justice, her regard for her royal word, her gratitude for his services,
and her admiration of his character. With her illness, however, his
interests had languished, and when she died, he was left to the justice
and generosity of Ferdinand!

During the remainder of the winter and a part of the spring, he continued
at Seville, detained by painful illness, and endeavoring to obtain redress
from the government by ineffectual letters. His brother the Adelantado,
who supported him with his accustomed fondness and devotion through all
his trials, proceeded to court to attend to his interests, taking with him
the admiral's younger son Fernando, then aged about seventeen. The latter,
the affectionate father repeatedly represents to his son Diego as a man in
understanding and conduct, though but a stripling in years; and inculcates
the strongest fraternal attachment, alluding to his own brethren with one
of those simply eloquent and affecting expressions which stamp his heart
upon his letters. "To thy brother conduct thyself as the elder brother
should unto the younger. Thou hast no other, and I praise God that this is
such a one as thou dost need. Ten brothers would not be too many for thee.
Never have I found a better friend to right or left, than my brothers."

Among the persons whom Columbus employed at this time in his missions to
the court, was Amerigo Vespucci. He describes him as a worthy but
unfortunate man, who had not profited as much as he deserved by his
undertakings, and who had always been disposed to render him service. His
object in employing him appears to have been to prove the value of his
last voyage, and that he had been in the most opulent parts of the New
World; Vespucci having since touched upon the same coast, in a voyage with
Alonzo de Ojeda.

One circumstance occured at this time which shed a gleam of hope and
consolation over his gloomy prospects. Diego de Deza, who had been for
some time bishop of Palencia, was expected at court. This was the same
worthy friar who had aided him to advocate his theory before the board of
learned men at Salamanca, and had assisted him with his purse when making
his proposals to the Spanish court. He had just been promoted and made
archbishop of Seville, but had not yet been installed in office. Columbus
directs his son Diego to intrust his interests to this worthy prelate.
"Two things," says he, "require particular attention. Ascertain whether
the queen, who is now with God, has said any thing concerning me in her
testament, and stimulate the bishop of Palencia, he who was the cause that
their highnesses obtained possession of the Indies, who induced me to
remain in Castile when I was on the road to leave it." [230] In another
letter he says, "If the bishop of Palencia has arrived, or should arrive,
tell him how much I have been gratified by his prosperity, and that if I
come, I shall lodge with his grace, even though he should not invite me,
for we must return to our ancient fraternal affection."

The incessant applications of Columbus, both by letter and by the
intervention of friends, appear to have been listened to with cool
indifference. No compliance was yielded to his requests, and no deference
was paid to his opinions, on various points concerning which he interested
himself. New instructions were sent out to Ovando, but not a word of their
purport was mentioned to the admiral. It was proposed to send out three
bishops, and he entreated in vain to be heard previous to their election.
In short, he was not in any way consulted in the affairs of the New World.
He felt deeply this neglect, and became every day more impatient of his
absence from court. To enable himself to perform the journey with more
ease, he applied for permission to use a mule, a royal ordinance having
prohibited the employment of those animals under the saddle, in
consequence of their universal use having occasioned a decline in the
breed of horses. A royal permission was accordingly granted to Columbus,
in consideration that his age and infirmities incapacitated him from
riding on horse-back; but it was a considerable time before the state of
his health would permit him to avail himself of that privilege.

The foregoing particulars, gleaned from letters of Columbus recently
discovered, show the real state of his affairs, and the mental and bodily
affliction sustained by him during his winter's residence at Seville, on
his return from his last disastrous voyage. He has generally been
represented as reposing there from his toils and troubles. Never was
honorable repose more merited, more desired, and less enjoyed.

It was not until the month of May that he was able, in company with his
brother the Adelantado, to accomplish his journey to court, at that time
held at Segovia. He, who but a few years before had entered the city of
Barcelona in triumph, attended by the nobility and chivalry of Spain, and
hailed with rapture by the multitude, now arrived within the gates of
Segovia, a wayworn, melancholy, and neglected man; oppressed more by
sorrow than even by his years and infirmities. When he presented himself
at court, he met with none of that distinguished attention, that cordial
kindness, that cherishing sympathy, which his unparalleled services and
his recent sufferings had merited. [231]

The selfish Ferdinand had lost sight of his past services, in what
appeared to him the inconvenience of his present demands. He received him
with many professions of kindness: but with those cold ineffectual smiles,
which pass like wintry sunshine over the countenance, and convey no warmth
to the heart.

The admiral now gave a particular account of his late voyage; describing
the great tract of Terra Firma, which he had explored, and the riches of
the province of Veragua. He related also the disasters sustained in the
island of Jamaica; the insurrection of the Porras and their band; and all
the other griefs and troubles of this unfortunate expedition. He had but a
cold-hearted auditor in the king; and the benignant Isabella was no more
at hand to soothe him with a smile of kindness, or a tear of sympathy. "I
know not," gays the venerable Las Casas, "what could cause this dislike
and this want of princely countenance in the king, towards one who had
rendered him such pre-eminent benefits; unless it was that his mind was
swayed by the false testimonies which had been brought against the
admiral; of which I have been enabled to learn something from persons much
in favor with the sovereign." [232]

After a few days had elapsed, Columbus urged his suit in form; reminding
the king of all that he had done, and all that had been promised him under
the royal word and seal, and supplicating that the restitutions and
indemnifications which had been so frequently solicited, might be awarded
to him; offering in return to serve his majesty devotedly for the short
time he had yet to live; and trusting, from what he felt within him, and
from what he thought he knew with certainty, to render services which
should surpass all that he had yet performed a hundred-fold. The king, in
reply, acknowledged the greatness of his merits, and the importance of his
services, but observed, that, for the more satisfactory adjustment of his
claims, it would be advisable to refer all points in dispute to the
decision of some discreet and able person. The admiral immediately
proposed as arbiter his friend the archbishop of Seville, Don Diego de
Deza, one of the most able and upright men about the court, devotedly
loyal, high in the confidence of the king, and one who had always taken
great interest in the affairs of the New World. The king consented to the
arbitration, but artfully extended it to questions which he knew would
never be put at issue by Columbus; among these was his claim to the
restoration of his office of viceroy. To this Columbus objected with
becoming spirit, as compromising a right which was too clearly defined and
solemnly established to be put for a moment in dispute. It was the
question of rents and revenues alone, he observed, which he was willing to
submit to the decision of a learned man, not that of the government of the
Indies. As the monarch persisted, however, in embracing both questions in
the arbitration, the proposed measure was never carried into effect.

It was, in fact, on the subject of his dignities alone that Columbus was
tenacious; all other matters he considered of minor importance. In a
conversation with the king he absolutely disavowed all wish of entering
into any suit or pleading as to his pecuniary dues; on the contrary, he
offered to put all his privileges and writings into the hands of his
sovereign, and to receive out of the dues arising from them, whatever his
majesty might think proper to award. All that he claimed without
qualification or reserve, were his official dignities, assured to him
under the royal seal with all the solemnity of a treaty. He entreated, at
all events, that these matters might speedily be decided, so that he might
be released from a state of miserable suspense, and enabled to retire to
some quiet corner, in search of that tranquillity and repose necessary to
his fatigues and his infirmities.

To this frank appeal to his justice and generosity, Ferdinand replied with
many courteous expressions, and with those general evasive promises, which
beguile the ear of the court applicant, but convey no comfort to his
heart. "As far as actions went," observes Las Casas, "the king not merely
showed him no signs of favor, but, on the contrary, discountenanced him as
much as possible; yet he was never wanting in complimentary expressions."

Many months were passed by Columbus in unavailing solicitation, during
which he continued to receive outward demonstrations of respect from the
king, and due attention from cardinal Ximenes, archbishop of Toledo, and
other principal personages; but he had learned to appreciate and distrust
the hollow civilities of a court. His claims were referred to a tribunal,
called "The council of the discharges of the conscience of the deceased
queen, and of the king." This is a kind of tribunal, commonly known by the
name of the Junta de Descargos, composed of persons nominated by the
sovereign, to superintend the accomplishment of the last will of his
predecessor, and the discharge of his debts. Two consultations were held
by this body, but nothing was determined. The wishes of the king were too
well known to be thwarted. "It was believed," says Las Casas, "that if the
king could have done so with a safe conscience, and without detriment to
his fame, he would have respected few or none of the privileges which he
and the queen had conceded to the admiral, and which had been so justly
merited." [Footonte: Las Caaas, Hist. Ind., lib. ii. cap. 37.]

Columbus still flattered himself that, his claims being of such
importance, and touching a question of sovereignty, the adjustment of them
might be only postponed by the king until he could consult with his
daughter Juana, who had succeeded to her mother as queen of Castile, and
who, was daily expected from Flanders, with her husband, king Philip. He
endeavored, therefore, to bear his delays with patience; but he had no
longer the physical strength and glorious anticipations which once
sustained him through his long application at this court. Life itself was
drawing to a close.

He was once more confined to his bed by a tormenting attack of the gout,
aggravated by the sorrows and disappointments which preyed upon his heart.
From this couch of anguish he addressed one more appeal to the justice of
the king. He no longer petitioned for himself: it was for his son Diego.
Nor did he dwell upon his pecuniary dues; it was the honorable trophies of
his services which he wished to secure and perpetuate in his family. He
entreated that his son Diego might be appointed, in his place, to the
government of which he had been so wrongfully deprived. "This," he said,
"is a matter which concerns my honor; as to all the rest, do as your
majesty may think proper; give or withhold, as may be most for your
interest, and I shall be content. I believe the anxiety caused by the
delay of this affair is the principal cause of my ill health." A petition
to the same purpose was presented at the same time by his son Diego,
offering to take with him such persons for counselors as the king should
appoint, and to be guided by their advice.

These petitions were treated by Ferdinand with his usual professions and
evasions. "The more applications were made to him," observes Las Casas,
"the more favorably did he reply; but still he delayed, hoping, by
exhausting their patience, to induce them to wave their privileges, and
accept in place thereof titles and estates in Castile." Columbus rejected
all propositions of the kind with indignation, as calculated to compromise
those titles which were the trophies of his achievements. He saw, however,
that all further hope of redress from Ferdinand was vain. From the bed to
which he was confined, he addressed a letter to his constant friend Diego
de Deza, expressive of his despair. "It appears that his majesty does not
think fit to fulfill that which he, with the queen, who is now in glory,
promised me by word and seal. For me to contend for the contrary, would be
to contend with the wind. I have done all that I could do. I leave the
rest to God, whom I have ever found propitious to me in my necessities."

The cold and calculating Ferdinand beheld this illustrious man sinking
under infirmity of body, heightened by that deferred hope which "maketh
the heart sick." A little more delay, a little more disappointment, and a
little longer infliction of ingratitude, and this loyal and generous heart
would cease to beat: he should then be delivered from the just claims of a
well-tried servant, who, in ceasing to be useful, was considered by him to
have become importunate.

Chapter IV.

Death of Columbus.

In the midst of illness and despondency, when both life and hope were
expiring in the bosom of Columbus, a new gleam was awakened and blazed up
for the moment with characteristic fervor. He heard with joy of the
landing of king Philip and queen Juana, who had just arrived from Flanders
to take possession of their throne of Castile. In the daughter of Isabella
he trusted once more to find a patroness and a friend. King Ferdinand and
all the court repaired to Laredo to receive the youthful sovereigns.
Columbus would gladly have done the same, but he was confined to his bed
by a severe return of his malady; neither in his painful and helpless
situation could he dispense with the aid and ministry of his son Diego.
His brother, the Adelantado, therefore, his main dependence in all
emergencies, was sent to represent him, and to present his homage and
congratulations. Columbus wrote by him to the new king and queen,
expressing his grief at being prevented by illness from coming in person
to manifest his devotion, but begging to be considered among the most
faithful of their subjects. He expressed a hope that he should receive at
their hands the restitution of his honors and estates, and assured them,
that, though cruelly tortured at present by disease, he would yet be able
to render them services, the like of which had never been witnessed.

Such was the last sally of his sanguine and unconquerable spirit; which,
disregarding age and infirmities, and all past sorrows and
disappointments, spoke from his dying bed with all the confidence of
youthful hope; and talked of still greater enterprises, as if he had a
long and vigorous life before him. The Adelantado took leave of his
brother, whom he was never to behold again, and set out on his mission to
the new sovereigns. He experienced the most gracious reception. The claims
of the admiral were treated with great attention by the young king and
queen, and flattering hopes were given of a speedy and prosperous
termination to his suit.

In the meantime the cares and troubles of Columbus were drawing to a
close. The momentary fire which had reanimated him was soon quenched by
accumulating infirmities. Immediately after the departure of the
Adelantado, his illness increased in violence. His last voyage had
shattered beyond repair a frame already worn and wasted by a life of
hardship; and continual anxieties robbed him of that sweet repose so
necessary to recruit the weariness and debility of age. The cold
ingratitude of his sovereign chilled his heart. The continued suspension
of his honors, and the enmity and defamation experienced at every turn,
seemed to throw a shadow over that glory which had been the great object
of his ambition. This shadow, it is true, could be but of transient
duration; but it is difficult for the most illustrious man to look beyond
the present cloud which may obscure his fame, and anticipate its permanent
lustre in the admiration of posterity.

Being admonished by failing strength and increasing sufferings that his
end was approaching, he prepared to leave his affairs in order for the
benefit of his successors.

It is said that on the 4th of May he wrote an informal testamentary
codicil on the blank page of a little breviary, given him by Pope
Alexander VI. In this he bequeathed that book to the republic of Genoa,
which he also appointed successor to his privileges and dignities, on the
extinction of his male line. He directed likewise the erection of an
hospital in that city with the produce of his possessions in Italy. The
authenticity of this document is questioned, and has become a point of
warm contest among commentators. It is not, however, of much importance.
The paper is such as might readily have been written by a person like
Columbus in the paroxysm of disease, when he imagined his end suddenly
approaching, and shows the affection with which his thoughts were bent on
his native city. It is termed among commentators a military codicil,
because testamentary dispositions of this kind are executed by the soldier
at the point of death, without the usual formalities required by the civil
law. About two weeks afterwards, on the eve of his death, he executed a
final and regularly authenticated codicil, in which he bequeathed his
dignities and estates with better judgment.

In these last and awful moments, when the soul has but a brief space in
which to make up its accounts between heaven and earth, all dissimulation
is at an end, and we read unequivocal evidences of character. The last
codicil of Columbus, made at the very verge of the grave, is stamped with
his ruling passion and his benignant virtues. He repeats and enforces
several clauses of his original testament, constituting his sou Diego his
universal heir. The entailed inheritance, or mayorazgo, in case he died
without male issue, was to go to his brother Don Fernando, and from him,
in like case, to pass to his uncle Don Bartholomew, descending always to
the nearest male heir; in failure of which it was to pass to the female
nearest in lineage to the admiral. He enjoined upon whoever should inherit
his estate never to alienate or diminish it, but to endeavor by all means
to augment its prosperity and importance. He likewise enjoined upon his
heirs to be prompt and devoted at all times, with person and estate, to
serve their sovereign and promote the Christian faith. He ordered that Don
Diego should devote one tenth of the revenues which might arise from his
estate, when it came to be productive, to the relief of indigent relatives
and of other persons in necessity; that, out of the remainder, he should
yield certain yearly proportions to his brother Don Fernando, and his
uncles Don Bartholomew and Don Diego; and that the part allotted to Don
Fernando should be settled upon him and his male heirs in an entailed and
unalienable inheritance. Having thus provided for the maintenance and
perpetuity of his family and dignities, he ordered that Don Diego, when
his estates should be sufficiently productive, should erect a chapel in
the island of Hispaniola, which God had given to him so marvelously, at
the town of Conception, in the Vega, where masses should be daily
performed for the repose of the souls of himself, his father, his mother,
his wife, and of all who died in the faith. Another clause recommends to
the care of Don Diego, Beatrix Enriquez, the mother of his natural son
Fernando. His connection with her had never been sanctioned by matrimony,
and either this circumstance, or some neglect of her, seems to have
awakened deep compunction in his dying moments. He orders Don Diego to
provide for her respectable maintenance; "and let this be done," he adds,
"for the discharge of my conscience, for it weighs heavy on my soul."
[234] Finally, he noted with his own hand several minute sums, to be paid
to persons at different and distant places, without their being told
whence they received them. These appear to have been trivial debts of
conscience, or rewards for petty services received in times long past.
Among them is one of half a mark of silver to a poor Jew, who lived at
the gate of the Jewry, in the city of Lisbon. These minute provisions
evince the scrupulous attention to justice in all his dealings, and that
love of punctuality in the fulfillment of duties, for which he was
remarked. In the same spirit, he gave much advice to his son Diego, as
to the conduct of his affairs, enjoining upon him to take every month an
account with his own hand of the expenses of his household, and to sign
it with his name; for a want of regularity in this, he observed, lost
both property and servants, and turned the last into enemies. His dying
bequests were made in presence of a few faithful followers and servants,
and among them we find the name of Bartholomeo Fiesco, who had
accompanied Diego Mendez in the perilous voyage in a canoe from Jamaica
to Hispaniola.

Having thus scrupulously attended to all the claims of affection, loyalty,
and justice upon earth, Columbus turned his thoughts to heaven; and having
received the holy sacrament, and performed all the pious offices of a
devout Christian, he expired with great resignation, on the day of
ascension, the 20th of May, 1506, being about seventy years of age.
[235] His last words were, "_In manus tuas Domine, commendo spiritum
meum:_" Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. [236]

His body was deposited in the convent of St. Francisco, and his obsequies
were celebrated with funereal pomp at Valladolid, in the parochial church
of Santa Maria de la Antigua. His remains were transported afterwards, in
1513, to the Carthusian monastery of Las Cuevas of Seville, to the chapel
of St. Ann or of Santo Christo, in which chapel were likewise deposited
those of his son Don Diego, who died in the village of Montalban, on the
23d of February, 1526. In the year 1536 the bodies of Columbus and his son
Diego were removed to Hispaniola, and interred in the principal chapel of
the cathedral of the city of San Domingo; but even here they did not rest
in quiet, having since been again disinterred and conveyed to the Havanna,
in the island of Cuba.

We are told that Ferdinand, after the death of Columbus, showed a sense of
his merits by ordering a monument to be erected to his memory, on which
was inscribed the motto already cited, which had formerly been granted to
him by the sovereigns: A Castilla y a Leon nuevo mundo dio Colon (_To
Castile and Leon Columbus gave a new world_). However great an honor a
monument may be for a subject to receive, it is certainly but a cheap
reward for a sovereign to bestow. As to the motto inscribed upon it, it
remains engraved in the memory of mankind, more indelibly than in brass or
marble; a record of the great debt of gratitude due to the discoverer,
which the monarch had so faithlessly neglected to discharge.

Attempts have been made in recent days, by loyal Spanish writers, to
vindicate the conduct of Ferdinand towards Columbus. They were doubtless
well intended, but they have been futile, nor is their failure to be
regretted. To screen such injustice in so eminent a character from the
reprobation of mankind, is to deprive history of one of its most important
uses. Let the ingratitude of Ferdinand stand recorded in its full extent,
and endure throughout all time. The dark shadow which it casts upon his
brilliant renown, will be a lesson to all rulers, teaching thein what is
important to their own fame in their treatment of illustrious men.

Chapter V.

Observations on the Character of Columbus.

In narrating the story of Columbus, it has been the endeavor of the author
to place him in a clear and familiar point of view; for this purpose he
has rejected no circumstance, however trivial, which appeared to evolve
some point of character; and he has sought all kinds of collateral facts
which might throw light upon his views and motives. With this view also he
has detailed many facts hitherto passed over in silence, or vaguely
noticed by historians, probably because they might be deemed instances of
error or misconduct on the part of Columbus; but he who paints a great man
merely in great and heroic traits, though he may produce a fine picture,
will never present a faithful portrait. Great men are compounds of great
and little qualities. Indeed, much of their greatness arises from their
mastery over the imperfections of their nature, and, their noblest actions
are sometimes struck forth by the collision of their merits and their

In Columbus was singularly combined the practical and the poetical. His
mind had grasped all kinds of knowledge, whether procured by study or
observation, which bore upon his theories; impatient of the scanty aliment
of the day, "his impetuous ardor," as has well been observed, "threw him
into the study of the fathers of the church; the Arabian Jews, and the
ancient geographers;" while his daring but irregular genius, bursting from
the limits of imperfect science, bore him to conclusions far beyond the
intellectual vision of his contemporaries. If some of his conclusions were
erroneous, they were at least ingenious and splendid; and their error
resulted from the clouds which still hung over his peculiar path of
enterprise. His own discoveries enlightened the ignorance of the age;
guided conjecture to certainty, and dispelled that very darkness with
which he had been obliged to struggle.

In the progress of his discoveries he has been remarked for the extreme
sagacity and the admirable justness with which he seized upon the
phenomena of the exterior world. The variations, for instance, of
terrestrial magnetism, the direction of currents, the groupings of marine
plants, fixing one of the grand climacteric divisions of the ocean, the
temperatures changing not solely with the distance to the equator, but
also with the difference of meridians: these and similar phenomena, as
they broke upon him, were discerned with wonderful quickness of
perception, and made to contribute important principles to the stock of
general knowledge. This lucidity of spirit, this quick convertibility of
facts to principles, distinguish him from the dawn to the close of his
sublime enterprise, insomuch that, with all the sallying ardor of his
imagination, his ultimate success has been admirably characterized as a
"conquest of reflection." [237]

It has been said that mercenary views mingled with the ambition of
Columbus, and that his stipulations with the Spanish court were selfish
and avaricious. The charge is inconsiderate and unjust. He aimed at
dignity and wealth in the same lofty spirit in which he sought renown;
they were to be part and parcel of his achievement, and palpable evidence
of its success; they were to arise from the territories he should
discover, and be commensurate in importance. No condition could be more
just. He asked nothing of the sovereigns but a command of the countries he
hoped to give them, and a share of the profits to support the dignity of
his command. If there should be no country discovered, his stipulated
viceroyalty would be of no avail; and if no revenues should be produced,
his labor and peril would produce no gain. If his command and revenues
ultimately proved magnificent, it was from the magnificence of the regions
he had attached to the Castilian crown. What monarch would not rejoice to
gain empire on such conditions? But he did not risk merely a loss of
labor, and a disappointment of ambition, in the enterprise;--on his
motives being questioned, he voluntarily undertook, and, with the
assistance of his coadjutors, actually defrayed, one-eighth of the whole
charge of the first expedition.

It was, in fact, this rare union already noticed, of the practical man of
business with the poetical projector, which enabled him to carry his grand
enterprises into effect through so many difficulties; but the pecuniary
calculations and cares, which gave feasibility to his schemes, were never
suffered to chill the glowing aspirations of his soul. The gains that
promised to arise from his discoveries, he intended to appropriate in the
same princely and pious spirit in which they were demanded. He
contemplated works and achievements of benevolence and religion; vast
contributions for the relief of the poor of his native city; the
foundation of churches, where masses should be said for the souls of the
departed; and armies for the recovery of the holy sepulchre in Palestine.
Thus his ambition was truly noble and lofty; instinct with high thought
and prone to generous deed.

In the discharge of his office he maintained the state and ceremonial of a
viceroy, and was tenacious of his rank and privileges; not from a mere
vulgar love of titles, but because he prized them as testimonials and
trophies of his achievements: these he jealously cherished as his great
rewards. In his repeated applications to the king, he insisted merely on
the restitution of his dignities. As to his pecuniary dues and all
questions relative to mere revenue, he offered to leave them to
arbitration or even to the absolute disposition of the monarch; but not so
his official dignities; "these things," said he nobly, "affect my honor."
In his testament, he enjoined on his son Diego, and whoever after him
should inherit his estates, whatever dignities and titles might afterwards
be granted by the king, always to sign himself simply "the admiral," by
way of perpetuating in the family its real source of greatness.

His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his views, and the
magnanimity of his spirit. Instead of scouring the newly-found countries,
like a grasping adventurer eager only for immediate gain, as was too
generally the case with contemporary discoverers, he sought to ascertain
their soil and productions, their rivers and harbors: he was desirous of
colonizing and cultivating them; of conciliating and civilizing the
natives; of building cities; introducing the useful arts; subjecting every
thing to the control of law, order, and religion; and thus of founding
regular and prosperous empires. In this glorious plan he was constantly
defeated by the dissolute rabble which it was his misfortune to command;
with whom all law was tyranny, and all order restraint. They interrupted
all useful works by their seditions; provoked the peaceful Indians to
hostility; and after they had thus drawn down misery and warfare upon
their own heads, and overwhelmed Columbus with the ruins of the edifice he
was building, they charged him with being the cause of the confusion.

Well would it have been for Spain had those who followed in the track of
Columbus possessed his sound policy and liberal views. The New World, in
such cases, would have been settled by pacific colonists, and civilized by
enlightened legislators; instead of being overrun by desperate
adventurers, and desolated by avaricious conquerors.

Columbus was a man of quick sensibility, liable to great excitement, to
sudden and strong impressions, and powerful impulses. He was naturally
irritable and impetuous, and keenly sensible to injury and injustice; yet
the quickness of his temper was counteracted by the benevolence and
generosity of his heart. The magnanimity of his nature shone forth through
all the troubles of his stormy career. Though continually outraged in his
dignity, and braved in the exercise of his command; though foiled in his
plans, and endangered in his person by the seditions of turbulent and
worthless men, and that too at times when suffering under anxiety of mind
and anguish of body sufficient to exasperate the most patient, yet he
restrained his valiant and indignant spirit, by the strong powers of his
mind, and brought himself to forbear, and reason, and even to supplicate:
nor should we fail to notice how free he was from all feeling of revenge,
how ready to forgive and forget, on the least signs of repentance and
atonement. He has been extolled for his skill in controlling others; but
far greater praise is due to him for his firmness in governing himself.

His natural benignity made him accessible to all kinds of pleasurable
sensations from external objects. In his letters and journals, instead of
detailing circumstances with the technical precision of a mere navigator,
he notices the beauties of nature with the enthusiasm of a poet or a
painter. As he coasts the shores of the New World, the reader participates
in the enjoyment with which he describes, in his imperfect but picturesque
Spanish, the varied objects around him; the blandness of the temperature,
the purity of the atmosphere, the fragrance of the air, "full of dew and
sweetness," the verdure of the forests, the magnificence of the trees, the
grandeur of the mountains, and the limpidity and freshness of the running
streams. New delight springs up for him in every scene. He extols each new
discovery as more beautiful than the last, and each as the most beautiful
in the world; until, with his simple earnestness, he tells the sovereigns,
that, having spoken so highly of the preceding islands, he fears that they
will not credit him, when he declares that the one he is actually
describing surpasses them all in excellence.

In the same ardent and unstudied way he expresses his emotions on various
occasions, readily affected by impulses of joy or grief, of pleasure or
indignation. When surrounded and overwhelmed by the ingratitude and
violence of worthless men, he often, in the retirement of his cabin, gave
way to bursts of sorrow, and relieved his overladen heart by sighs and
groans. When he returned in chains to Spain, and came into the presence
of Isabella, instead of continuing the lofty pride with which he had
hitherto sustained his injuries, he was touched with grief and tenderness
at her sympathy, and burst forth into sobs and tears.

He was devoutly pious; religion mingled with the whole course of his
thoughts and actions, and shone forth in his most private and unstudied
writings. Whenever he made any great discovery, he celebrated it by solemn
thanks to God. The voice of prayer and melody of praise rose from his
ships when they first beheld the New World, and his first action on
landing was to prostrate himself upon the earth and return thanksgivings.
Every evening, the _Salve Regina_, and other vesper hymns, were
chanted by his crew and masses were performed in the beautiful groves
bordering the wild shores of this heathen land. All his great enterprises
were undertaken in the name of the Holy Trinity, and he partook of the
communion previous to embarkation. He was a firm believer in the efficacy
of vows and penances and pilgrimages, and resorted to them in times of
difficulty and danger. The religion thus deeply seated in his soul
diffused a sober dignity and benign composure over his whole demeanor. His
language was pure and guarded, and free from all imprecations, oaths, and
other irreverent expressions.

It cannot be denied, however, that his piety was mingled with
superstition, and darkened by the bigotry of the age. He evidently
concurred in the opinion, that all nations which did not acknowledge the
Christian faith were destitute of natural rights; that the sternest
measures might be used for their conversion, and the severest punishments
inflicted upon their obstinacy in unbelief. In this spirit of bigotry he
considered himself justified in making captives of the Indians, and
transporting them to Spain to have them taught the doctrines of
Christianity, and in selling them for slaves if they pretended to resist
his invasions. In so doing he sinned against the natural goodness of his
character, and against the feelings which he had originally entertained
and expressed towards this gentle hospitable people; but he was goaded on
by the mercenary impatience of the crown, and by the sneers of his enemies
at the unprofitable result of his enterprises. It is but justice to his
character to observe, that the enslavement of the Indians thus taken in
battle was at first openly countenanced by the crown, and that, when the
question of right came to be discussed at the entreaty of the queen,
several of the most distinguished jurists and theologians advocated the
practice; so that the question was finally settled in favor of the Indians
solely by the humanity of Isabella. As the venerable bishop Las Casas
observes, where the most learned men have doubted, it is not surprising
that an unlearned mariner should err.

These remarks, in palliation of the conduct of Columbus, are required by
candor. It is proper to show him in connection with the age in which he
lived, lest the errors of the times should be considered as his individual
faults. It is not the intention of the author, however, to justify
Columbus on a point where it is inexcusable to err. Let it remain a blot
on his illustrious name, and let others derive a lesson from it.

We have already hinted at a peculiar trait in his rich and varied
character; that ardent and enthusiastic imagination which threw a
magnificence over his whole course of thought. Herrera intimates that he
had a talent for poetry, and some slight traces of it are on record in the
book of prophecies which he presented to the Catholic sovereigns. But his
poetical temperament is discernible throughout all his writings and in all
his actions. It spread a golden and glorious world around him, and tinged
every thing with its own gorgeous colors. It betrayed him into visionary
speculations, which subjected him to the sneers and cavilings of men of
cooler and safer but more groveling minds. Such were the conjectures
formed on the coast of Paria about the form of the earth, and the
situation of the terrestrial paradise; about the mines of Ophir in
Hispaniola, and the Aurea Chersonesus in Veragua; and such was the heroic
scheme of a crusade for the recovery of the holy sepulchre. It mingled
with his religion, and filled his mind with solemn and visionary
meditations on mystic passages of the Scriptures, and the shadowy portents
of the prophecies. It exalted his office in his eyes, and made him
conceive himself an agent sent forth upon a sublime and awful mission,
subject to impulses and supernatural intimations from the Deity; such as
the voice which he imagined spoke to him in comfort amidst the troubles of
Hispaniola, and in the silence of the night on the disastrous coast of

He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon and
successful kind. The manner in which his ardent, imaginative, and
mercurial nature was controlled by a powerful judgment, and directed by an
acute sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus
governed, his imagination, instead of exhausting itself in idle flights,
lent aid to his judgment, and enabled him to form conclusions at which
common minds could never have arrived, nay, which they could not perceive
when pointed out.

To his intellectual vision it was given to read the signs of the times,
and to trace, in the conjectures and reveries of past ages, the
indications of an unknown world; as soothsayers were said to read
predictions in the stars, and to foretell events from the visions of the
night. "His soul," observes a Spanish writer, "was superior to the age in
which he lived. For him was reserved the great enterprise of traversing
that sea which had given rise to so many fables, and of deciphering the
mystery of his time." [238]

With all the visionary fervor of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell
short of the reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his
discovery. Until his last breath he entertained the idea that he had
merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had
discovered some of the wild regions of the East. He supposed Hispaniola to
be the ancient Ophir which had been visited by the ships of Solomon, and
that Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia. What visions of
glory would have broken upon his mind could he have known that he had
indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the whole of the old world in
magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans from all the earth hitherto
known by civilized man! And how would his magnanimous spirit have been
consoled, amidst the afflictions of age and the cares of penury, the
neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could
he have anticipated the splendid empires which were to spread over the
beautiful world he had discovered; and the nations, and tongues, and
languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and revere and
bless his name to the latest posterity!


Containing Illustrations and Documents.

No. I.

Transportation of the Remains of Columbus from St. Domingo to the Havana.

At the termination of a war between France and Spain, in 1795, all the
Spanish possessions in the island of Hispaniola were ceded to France, by
the 9th article of the treaty of peace. To assist in the accomplishment of
this cession, a Spanish squadron was dispatched to the island at the
appointed time, commanded by Don Gabriel de Aristizabal, lieutenant-general
of the royal armada. On the 11th December, 1795, that commander wrote to
the field-marshal and governor, Don Joaquin Garcia, resident at St.
Domingo, that, being informed that the remains of the celebrated admiral
Don Christopher Columbus lay in the cathedral of that city, he felt it
incumbent on him as a Spaniard, and as commander-in-chief of his majesty's
squadron of operations, to solicit the translation of the ashes of that
hero to the island of Cuba, which had likewise been discovered by him, and
where he had first planted the standard of the cross. He expressed a desire
that this should be done officially, and with great care and formality,
that it might not remain in the power of any one, by a careless
transportation of these honored remains, to lose a relic, connected with
an event which formed the most glorious epoch of Spanish history, and that
it might be manifested to all nations, that Spaniards, notwithstanding the
lapse of ages, never ceased to pay all honors to the remains of that
"worthy and adventurous general of the seas;" nor abandoned them, when the
various public bodies, representing the Spanish dominion, emigrated from
the island. As he had not time, without great inconvenience, to consult
the sovereign on this subject, he had recourse to the governor, as royal
vice-patron of the island, hoping that his solicitation might be granted,
and the remains of the admiral exhumed and conveyed to the island of Cuba,
in the ship San Lorenzo.

The generous wishes of this high-minded Spaniard met with warm concurrence
on the part of the governor. He informed him in reply, that the duke of
Veraguas, lineal successor of Columbus, had manifested the same
solicitude, and had sent directions that the necessary measures should be
taken at his expense; and had at the same time expressed a wish that the
bones of the Adelantado, Don Bartholomew Columbus, should likewise be
exhumed; transmitting inscriptions to be put upon the sepulchres of both.
He added, that although the king had given no orders on the subject, yet
the proposition being so accordant with the grateful feelings of the
Spanish nation, and meeting with the concurrence of all the authorities of
the island, he was ready on his part to carry it into execution. The
commandant-general Aristizabal then made a similar communication to the
archbishop of Cuba, Don Fernando Portillo y Torres, whose metropolis was
then the city of St. Domingo, hoping to receive his countenance and aid in
this pious undertaking. The reply of the archbishop was couched in terms
of high courtesy towards the gallant commander, and deep reverence for the
memory of Columbus, and expressed a zeal in rendering this tribute of
gratitude and respect to the remains of one who had done so much for the
glory of the nation.

The persons empowered to act for the duke of Veraguas, the venerable dean
and chapter of the cathedral, and all the other persons and authorities to
whom Don Gabriel de Aristizabal made similar communications, manifested
the same eagerness to assist in the performance of this solemn and
affecting rite.

The worthy commander Aristizabal, having taken all these preparatory steps
with great form and punctilio, so as that the ceremony should be performed
in a public and striking manner, suitable to the fame of Columbus, the
whole was carried into eflect with becoming pomp and solemnity.

On the 20th December, 1795, the most distinguished persons of the place,
the dignitaries of the church, and civil and military officers, assembled
in the metropolitan cathedral. In the presence of this august assemblage,
a small vault was opened above the chancel, in the principal wall on the
right side of the high altar. Within were found the fragments of a leaden
coffin, a number of bones, and a quantity of mould, evidently the remains
of a human body. These were carefully collected and put into a case of
gilded lead, about half an ell in length and breadth, and a third in
height, secured by an iron lock, the key of which was delivered to the
archbishop. The case was inclosed in a coffin covered with black velvet,
and ornamented with lace and fringe of gold. The whole was then placed in
a temporary tomb or mansoleum.

On the following day, there was another grand convocation at the
cathedral, when the vigils and masses for the dead were solemnly chanted
by the archbishop, accompanied by the commandant-general of the armada,
the Dominican and Franciscan friars, and the friars of the order of Mercy,
together with the rest of the distinguished assemblage. After this a
funeral sermon was preached, by the archbishop.

On the same day, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the coffin was
transported to the ship with the utmost state and ceremony, with a civil,
religious, add military procession, banners wrapped in mourning, chants
and responses, and discharges of artillery. The most distinguished persons
of the several orders took turn to support the coffin. The key was taken
with great formality from the hands of the archbishop by the governor, and
given into the hands of the commander of the armada, to be delivered by
him to the governor of the Havana, to be held in deposit until the
pleasure of the king should be known. The coffin was received on board of
a brigantine called the Discoverer, which, with all the other shipping,
displayed mourning signals, and saluted the remains with the honors paid
to an admiral.

From the port of St. Domingo the coffin was conveyed to the bay of Ocoa
and there transferred to the ship San Lorenzo. It was accompanied by a
portrait of Columbus, sent from Spain by the duke of Veraguas, to be
suspended close by the place where the remains of his illustrious ancestor
should be deposited.

The ship immediately made sail and arrived at Havana in Cuba, on the 15th
of January, 1796. Here the same deep feeling of reverence to the memory of
the discoverer was evinced. The principal authorities repaired on board of
the ship, accompanied by the superior naval and military officers. Every
thing was conducted with the same circumstantial and solemn ceremonial.
The remains were removed with great reverence, and placed in a felucca, in
which they were conveyed to land in the midst of a procession of three
columns of feluccas and boats in the royal service, all properly
decorated, containing distinguished military and ministerial officers. Two
feluccas followed, in one of which was a marine guard of honor, with
mourning banners and muffled drums; and in the other were the
commandant-general, the principal minister of marine, and the military
staff. In passing the vessels of war in the harbor, they all paid the
honors due to an admiral and captain-general of the navy. On arriving at
the mole, the remains were met by the governor of the island, accompanied
by the generals and the military staff. The coffin was then conveyed
between files of soldiery which lined the streets to the obelisk, in the
place of arms, where it was received in a hearse prepared for the purpose.
Here the remains were formally delivered to the governor and
captain-general of the island, the key given up to him, the coffin opened
and examined, and the safe transportation of its contents authenticated.
This ceremony being concluded, it was conveyed in grand procession and
with the utmost pomp to the cathedral. Masses and the solemn ceremonies
of the dead were performed by the bishop, and the mortal remains of
Columbus deposited with great reverence in the wall on the right side of
the grand altar. "All these honors and ceremonies," says the document,
from whence this notice is digested, [239] "were attended by the
ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries, the public bodies and all the
nobility and gentry of Havana, in proof of the high estimation and
respectful remembrance in which they held the hero who had discovered the
New World, and had been the first to plant the standard of the cross on
that island."

This is the last occasion that the Spanish nation has had to testify its
feelings towards the memory of Columbus, and it is with deep satisfaction
that the author of this work has been able to cite at large a ceremonial
so solemn, affecting, and noble in its details, and so honorable to the
national character.

When we read of the remains of Columbus, thus conveyed from the port of
St. Domingo, after an interval of nearly three hundred years, as sacred
national relics, with civic and military pomp, and high religious
ceremonial; the most dignified and illustrious men striving who most
should pay them reverence; we cannot but reflect that it was from this
very port lie was carried off loaded with ignominious chains, blasted
apparently in fame and fortune, and followed by the revilings of the
rabble. Such honors, it is true, are nothing to the dead, nor can they
atone to the heart, now dust and ashes, for all the wrongs and sorrows it
may have suffered; but they speak volumes of comfort to the illustrious,
yet slandered and persecuted living, encouraging them bravely to bear with
present injuries, by showing them how true merit outlives all calumny, and
receives its glorious reward in the admiration of after ages.

No. II.

Notice of the Descendants of Columbus.

On the death of Columbus his son Diego succeeded to his rights, as
viceroy and governor of the New World, according to the express
capitulations between the sovereigns and his father. He appears by the
general consent of historians to have been a man of great integrity, of
respectable talents, and of a frank and generous nature. Herrera speaks
repeatedly of the gentleness and urbanity of his manners, and pronounces
him of a noble disposition and without deceit. This absence of all guile
frequently laid him open to the stratagems of crafty men, grown old in
deception, who rendered his life a continued series of embarrassments; but
the probity of his character, with the irresistible power of truth, bore
him through difficulties in which more politic and subtle men would have
been entangled and completely lost.

Immediately after the death of the admiral, Don Diego came forward as
lineal successor, and urged the restitution of the family offices and
privileges, which had been suspended during the latter years of his
father's life. If the cold and wary Ferdinand, however, could forget his
obligations of gratitude and justice to Columbus, he had less difficulty
in turning a deaf ear to the solicitations of his son. For two years Don
Diego pressed his suit with fruitless diligence. He felt the apparent
distrust of the monarch the more sensibly, from having been brought up
under his eye, as a page in the royal household, where his character ought
to be well known and appreciated. At length, on the return of Ferdinand
from Naples in 1508, he put to him a direct question, with the frankness
attributed to his character. He demanded "why his majesty would not grant
to him as a favor, that which was his right, and why he hesitated to
confide in the fidelity of one who had been reared in his house."
Ferdinand replied that he could fully confide in him, but could not repose
so great a trust at a venture in his children and successors. To this Don
Diego rejoined, that it was contrary to all justice and reason to make him
suffer for the sins of his children who might never be born. [240]

Still, though he had reason and justice on his side, the young admiral
found it impossible to bring the wary monarch to a compliance. Finding all
appeal to all his ideas of equity or sentiments of generosity in vain, he
solicited permission to pursue his claim in the ordinary course of law.
The king could not refuse so reasonable a request, and Don Diego commenced
a process against king Ferdinand before the council of the Indies, founded
on the repeated capitulations between the crown and his father, and
embracing all the dignities and immunities ceded by them.

One ground of opposition to these claims was, that if the capitulation,
made by the sovereigns in 1492, had granted a perpetual viceroyalty to the
admiral and his heirs, such grant could not stand; being contrary to the
interest of the state, and to an express law promulgated in Toledo in
1480; wherein it was ordained that no office, involving the administration
of justice, should be given in perpetuity; that therefore, the viceroyalty
granted to the admiral could only have been for his life; and that even
during that term it had justly been taken from him for his misconduct.
That such concessions were contrary to the inherent prerogatives of the
crown, of which the government could not divest itself. To this Don Diego
replied, that as to the validity of the capitulation, it was a binding
contract, and none of its privileges ought to be restricted. That as by
royal schedules dated in Villa Franca, June 2d, 1506, and Almazan, Aug.
28, 1507, it had been ordered that he, Don Diego, should receive the
tenths, so equally ought the other privileges to be accorded to him. As to
the allegation that his lather had been deprived of his viceroyalty for
his demerits, it was contrary to all truth. It had been audacity on the
part of Bobadilla to send him a prisoner to Spain in 1500, and contrary to
the will and command of the sovereigns, as was proved by their letter,
dated from Valencia de la Torre in 1502, in which they expressed grief at
his arrest, and assured him that it should be redressed, and his
privileges guarded entire to himself and his children. [241]

This memorable suit was commenced in 1508, and continued for several
years. In the course of it the claims of Don Diego were disputed,
likewise, on the plea that his father was not the original discoverer of
Terra Firma, but only subsequently of certain portions of it. This,
however, was completely controverted by overwhelming testimony. The claims
of Don Diego were minutely discussed and rigidly examined; and the
unanimous decision of the council of the Indies in his favor, while it
reflected honor on the justice and independence of that body, silenced
many petty cavilers at the fair fame of Columbus. [242] Notwithstanding
this decision, the wily monarch wanted neither means nor pretexts to delay
the ceding of such vast powers, so repugnant to his cautious policy. The
young admiral was finally indebted for his success in this suit to
previous success attained in a suit of a different nature. He had become
enamored of Doña Maria de Toledo, daughter of Fernando de Toledo, grand
commander of Leon, and niece to Don Fadrique de Toledo, the celebrated
duke of Alva, chief favorite of the king. This was aspiring to a high
connection. The father and uncle of the lady were the most powerful
grandees of the proud kingdom of Spain, and cousins german to Ferdinand.
The glory, however, which Columbus had left behind, rested upon his
children, and the claims of Don Diego, recently confirmed by the council,
involved dignities and wealth sufficient to raise him to a level with the
loftiest alliance. He found no difficulty in obtaining the hand of the
lady, and thus was the foreign family of Columbus ingrafted on one of the
proudest races of Spain. The natural consequences followed. Diego had
secured that magical power called "connections;" and the favor of
 Ferdinand, which had been so long withheld from him, as the son of
Columbus, shone upon him, though coldly, as the nephew of the duke of
Alva. The father and uncle of his bride succeeded, though with great
difficulty, in conquering the repugnance of the monarch, and after all he
but granted in part the justice they required. He ceded to Don Diego
merely the dignities and powers enjoyed by Nicholas de Ovando, who was
recalled; and he cautiously withheld the title of viceroy.

The recall of Ovando was not merely a measure to make room for Don Diego;
it was the tardy performance of a promise made to Isabella on her
death-bed. The expiring queen had demanded it as a punishment for the
massacre of her poor Indian subjects at Xaragua, and the cruel and
ignominious execution of the female cacique Anacaona. Thus retribution was
continually going its rounds in the checkered destinies of this island,
which has ever presented a little epitome of human history; its errors and
crimes, and consequent disasters.

In complying with the request of the queen, however, Ferdinand was
favorable towards Ovando. He did not feel the same generous sympathies
with his late consort, and, however Ovando had sinned against humanity in
his treatment of the Indians, he had been a vigilant officer, and his very
oppressions had in general proved profitable to the crown. Ferdinand
directed that the fleet which took out the new governor should return
under the command of Ovando, and that he should retain undisturbed
enjoyment of any property or Indian slaves that might be found in his
possession. Some have represented Ovando as a man far from mercenary; that
the wealth wrung from the miseries of the natives was for his sovereign,
not for himself; and it is intimated that one secret cause of his disgrace
was his having made an enemy of the all-powerful and unforgiving Fonseca.

The new admiral embarked at St. Lucar, June 9, 1509, with his wife, his
brother Don Fernando, who was now grown to man's estate, and had been well
educated, and his two uncles, Don Bartholomew and Don Diego. They were
accompanied by a numerous retinue of cavaliers, with their wives, and of
young ladies of rank and family, more distinguished, it is hinted, for
high blood than large fortune, and who were sent out to find wealthy
husbands in the New World. [244]

Though the king had not granted Don Diego the dignity of viceroy, the
title was generally given to him by courtesy, and his wife was universally
addressed by that of vice-queen.

Don Diego commenced his rule with a degree of splendor hitherto unknown in
the colony. The vice-queen, who was a lady of great desert, surrounded by
the noble cavaliers and the young ladies of family who had come in her
retinue, established a sort of court, which threw a degree of lustre over
the half savage island. The young ladies were soon married to the
wealthiest colonists, and contributed greatly to soften those rude manners
which had grown up in a state of society hitherto destitute of the
salutary restraint and pleasing decorum produced by female influence.

Don Diego had considered his appointment in the light of a vice-royalty,
but the king soon took measures which showed that he admitted of no such
pretension. Without any reference to Don Diego, he divided the coast of
Darien into two great provinces, separated by an imaginary line running
through the Gulf of Uraba, appointing Alonzo de Ojeda governor of the
eastern province, which he called New Andalusia, and Diego de Nicuessa
governor of the western province, which included the rich coast of
Veragua, and which he called Castilla del Oro, or Golden Castile. Had the
monarch been swayed by principles of justice and gratitude, the settlement
of this coast would have been given to the Adelantado, Don Bartholomew
Columbus, who had assisted in the discovery of the country, and, together
with his brother the admiral, had suffered so greatly in the enterprise.
Even his superior abilities for the task should have pointed him out to
the policy of the monarch; but the cautious and [245] calculating
Ferdinand knew the lofty spirit of the Adelantado, and that he would be
disposed to demand high and dignified terms. He passed him by, therefore,
and preferred more eager and accommodating adventurers.

Don Diego was greatly aggrieved at this measure, thus adopted without his
participation or knowledge. He justly considered it an infringement of the
capitulations granted and repeatedly confirmed to his father and his
heirs. He had further vexations and difficulties with respect to the
government of the island of St. Juan, or Porto Rico, which was conquered
and settled about this time; but after a variety of cross purposes, the
officers whom he appointed were ultimately recognized by the crown.

Like his father, he had to contend with malignant factions in his
government; for the enemies of the father transferred their enmity to the
son. There was one Miguel Pasamonte, the king's treasurer, who became his
avowed enemy, under the support and chiefly at the instigation of the
bishop Fonseca, who continued to the son the implacable hostility which he
had manifested to the father. A variety of trivial circumstances
contributed to embroil him with some of the petty officers of the colony,
and there was a remnant of the followers of Bohian who arrayed themselves
against him. [246]

Two factions soon arose in the island; one of the admiral, the other of
the treasurer Pasamonte. The latter affected to call themselves the party
of the king. They gave all possible molestation to Don Diego, and sent
home the most virulent and absurd misrepresentations of his conduct. Among
others, they represented a large house with many windows which he was
building, as intended for a fortress, and asserted that he had a design to
make himself sovereign of the island. King Ferdinand, who was now
advancing in years, had devolved the affairs of the Indies in a great
measure on Fonseca,[247] who had superintended them from the
first, and he was greatly guided by the advice of that prelate, which was
not likely to be favorable to the descendants of Columbus. The complaints
from the colonies were so artfully enforced, therefore, that he
established in 1510 a sovereign court at St. Domingo, called the royal
audience, to which an appeal might be made from all sentences of the
admiral, even in cases reserved hitherto exclusively for the crown. Don
Diego considered this a suspicious and injurious measure intended to
demolish his authority.

Frank, open, and unsuspicious, the young admiral was not formed for a
contest with the crafty politicians arrayed against him, who were ready
and adroit in seizing upon his slightest errors, and magnifying them into
crimes. Difficulties were multiplied in his path which it was out of his
power to overcome. He had entered upon office full of magnanimous
intentions; determined to put an end to oppression, and correct all
abuses; all good men therefore had rejoiced at his appointment; but he
soon found that he had overrated his strength, and undervalued the
difficulties awaiting him. He calculated from his own good heart, but he
had no idea of the wicked hearts of others. He was opposed to the
repartimientos of Indians, that source of all kinds of inhumanity; but he
found all the men of wealth in the colony, and most of the important
persons of the court, interested in maintaining them. He perceived that
the attempt to abolish them would be dangerous, and the result
questionable: at the same time this abuse was a source of immense profit
to himself. Self-interest, therefore, combined with other considerations,
and what at first appeared difficult, seemed presently impracticable. The
repartimientos continued in the state in which he found them, excepting
that he removed such of the superintendents as had been cruel and
oppressive, and substituted men of his own appointment, who probably
proved equally worthless. His friends were disappointed, his enemies
encouraged; a hue and cry was raised against him by the friends of those
he had displaced; and it was even said that if Ovando had not died about
this time, he would have been sent out to supplant Don Diego.

The subjugation and settlement of the island of Cuba in 1510, was a
fortunate event in the administration of the present admiral. He
congratulated king Ferdinand on having acquired the largest and most
beautiful island in the world without losing a single man. The
intelligence was highly acceptable to the king; but it was accompanied by
a great number of complaints against the admiral. Little affection as
Ferdinand felt for Don Diego, he was still aware that most of these
representations were false, and had their origin in the jealousy and envy
of his enemies. He judged it expedient, however, in 1512, to send out Don
Bartholomew Columbus with minute instructions to his nephew the admiral.

Don Bartholomew still retained the office of Adelantado of the Indies;
although Ferdinand, through selfish motives, detained him in Spain, while
he employed inferior men in voyages of discovery. He now added to his
appointments the property and government of the little island of Mona
during life, and assigned him a repartimiento of two hundred Indians, with
the superintendence of the mines which might be discovered in Cuba; an
office which proved very lucrative. [248]

Among the instructions given by the king to Don Diego, he directed that,
in consequence of the representations of the Dominican friars, the labor
of the natives should be reduced to one-third; that negro slaves should be
procured from Guinea as a relief to the Indians; [249] and that Carib
slaves should be branded on the leg, to prevent other Indians from being
confounded with them and subjected to harsh treatment. [250]

The two governors, Ojeda and Nicuessa, whom the king had appointed to
colonize and command at the Isthmus of Darien, in Terra Firma, having
failed in their undertaking, the sovereign, in 1514, wrote to Hispaniola,
permitting the Adelantado, Don Bartholomew, if so inclined, to take charge
of settling the coast of Veragua, and to govern that country under the
admiral Don Diego, conformably to his privileges. Had the king consulted
his own interest, and the deference due to the talents and services of the
Adelantado, this measure would have been taken at an earlier date. It was
now too late: illness prevented Don Bartholomew from executing the
enterprise; and his active and toilsome life was drawing to a close.

Many calumnies having been sent home to Spain by Pasamonte and other
enemies of Don Diego, and various measures being taken by government,
which he conceived derogatory to his dignity, and injurious to his
privileges, he requested and obtained permission to repair to court, that
he might explain and vindicate his conduct. He departed, accordingly, on
April 9th, 1515, leaving the Adelantado with the vice-queen, Dofia Maria.
He was received with great honor by the king; and he merited such a
reception. He had succeeded in every enterprise he had undertaken or
directed. The pearl fishery had been successfully established on the coast
of Cubagua; the islands of Cuba and of Jamaica had been subjected and
brought under cultivation without bloodshed; his conduct as governor had
been upright; and he had only excited the representations made against
him, by endeavoring to lessen the oppression of the natives. The king
ordered that all processes against him in the court of appeal and
elsewhere, for damages done to individuals in regulating the
repartimientos, should be discontinued, and the cases sent to himself for
consideration. But with all these favors, as the admiral claimed a share
of the profits of the provinces of Castilla del Oro, saying that it was
discovered by his father, as the names of its places, such as Nombre de
Dios, Porto Bello, and el Retrete, plainly proved, the king ordered that
interrogatories should be made among the mariners who had sailed with
Christopher Columbus, in the hope of proving that he had not discovered
the coast of Darien nor the Gulf of Uraba. "Thus," adds Herrera, "Don
Diego was always involved in litigations with the fiscal, so that he might
truly say that he was heir to the troubles of his father." [251]

Not long after the departure of Don Diego from St. Domingo, his uncle, Don
Bartholomew, ended his active and laborious life. No particulars are given
of his death, nor is there mention made of his age, which must have been
advanced. King Ferdinand is said to have expressed great concern at the
event, for he had a high opinion of the character and talents of the
Adelantado: "a man," says Herrera, "of not less worth than his brother the
admiral, and who, if he had been employed, would have given great proofs
of it; for he was an excellent seaman, valiant and of great heart."
[252] Charlevoix attributes the inaction in which Don Bartholomew had been
suffered to remain for several years, to the jealousy and parsimony of the
king. He found the house already too powerful, and the Adelantado, had he
discovered Mexico, was a man to make as good conditions as had been made
by the admiral his brother. [253] It was said, observed Herrera, that the
king rather preferred to employ him in his European affairs, though it
could only have been to divert him from other objects. On his death the
king resumed to himself the island of Mona, which he had given to him for
life, and transferred his repartimiento of two hundred Indians to the
vice-queen Doña Maria.

While the admiral Don Diego was pressing for an audience in his
vindication at court, King Ferdinand died on the 23d January, 1516. His
grandson and successor, Prince Charles, afterwards the emperor Charles V.,
was in Flanders. The government rested for a time with Cardinal Ximenes,
who would not undertake to decide on the representations and claims of the
admiral. It was not until 1520 that he obtained from the emperor Charles
V. a recognition of his innocence of all the charges against him. The
emperor, finding that what Pasamonte and his party had written were
notorious calumnies, ordered Don Diego to resume his charge, although the
process with the fiscal was still pending, and that Pasamonte should be
written to, requesting him to forget all past passions and differences and
to enter into amicable relations with Don Diego. Among other acts of
indemnification he acknowledged his right to exercise his office of
viceroy and governor in the island of Hispaniola, and in all parts
discovered by his father. [254] His authority was, however, much
diminished by new regulations, and a supervisor appointed over him with
the right to give information to the council against him, but with no
other powers. Don Diego sailed in the beginning of September, 1520, and
on his arrival at St. Domingo, finding that several of the governors,
presuming on his long absence, had arrogated to themselves independence,
and had abused their powers, he immediately sent persons to supersede
them, and demanded an account of their administration. This made him a
host of active and powerful enemies both in the colonies and in Spain.

Considerable changes had taken place in the island of Hispaniola, during
the absence of the admiral. The mines had fallen into neglect, the
cultivation of the sugar-cane having been found a more certain source of
wealth. It became a by-word in Spain that the magnificent palaces erected
by Charles V. at Madrid and Toledo were built of the sugar of Hispaniola.
Slaves had been imported in great numbers from Africa, being found more
serviceable in the culture of the cane than the feeble Indians. The
treatment of the poor negroes was cruel in the extreme; and they seem to
have had no advocates even among the humane. The slavery of the Indians
had been founded on the right of the strong; but it was thought that the
negroes, from their color, were born to slavery; and that from being
bought and sold in their own country, it was their natural condition.
Though a patient and enduring race, the barbarities inflated on them at
length roused them to revenge, and on the 27th December, 1522, there was
the first African revolt in Hispaniola. It began in a sugar plantation of
the admiral Don Diego, where about twenty slaves, joined by an equal
number from a neighboring plantation, got possession of arms, rose on
their superintendents, massacred them, and sallied forth upon the country.
It was their intention to pillage certain plantations, to kill the whites,
reinforce themselves by freeing their countrymen, and either to possess
themselves of the town of Agua, or to escape to the mountains.

Don Diego set out from St. Domingo in search of the rebels, followed by
several of the principal inhabitants. On the second day he stopped on the
banks of the river Nizao to rest his party and suffer reinforcements to
overtake him. Here one Melchor de Castro, who accompanied the admiral,
learnt that the negroes had ravaged his plantation, sacked his house,
killed one of his men, and carried off his Indian slaves. Without asking
leave of the admiral, he departed in the night with two companions,
visited his plantation, found all in confusion, and, pursuing the negroes,
sent to the admiral for aid. Eight horsemen were hastily dispatched to his
assistance, armed with bucklers and lances, and having six of the infantry
mounted behind them. De Castro had three horsemen beside this
reinforcement, and at the head of this little band overtook the negroes at
break of day. The insurgents put themselves in battle array, armed with
stones and Indian spears, and uttering loud shouts and outcries. The
Spanish horsemen braced their bucklers, couched their lances, and charged
them at full speed. The negroes were soon routed, and fled to the rocks,
leaving six dead and several wounded. De Castro also was wounded in the
arm. The admiral coming up, assisted in the pursuit of the fugitives. As
fast as they were taken they were hanged on the nearest trees, and
remained suspended as spectacles of terror to their countrymen. This
prompt severity checked all further attempts at revolt among the African
slaves. [255]

In the meantime the various enemies whom Don Diego had created, both in
the colonies and in Spain, were actively and successfully employed. His
old antagonist, the treasurer Pasnmonte, had charged him with usurping
almost all the powers of the royal audience, and with having given to the
royal declaration, re-establishing him in his office of viceroy, an extent
never intended by the sovereign. These representations had weight at
court, and in 1523 Don Diego received a most severe letter from the
council of the Indies, charging him with the various abuses and excesses
alleged against him, and commanding him, on pain of forfeiting all his
privileges and titles, to revoke the innovations he had made, and restore
things to their former state. To prevent any plea of ignorance of this
mandate, the royal audience was enjoined to promulgate it and to call upon
all persons to conform to it, and to see that it was properly obeyed. The
admiral received also a letter from the council, informing him that Jus
presence was necessary in Spain, to give information of the foregoing
matters, and advice relative to the reformation of various abuses, and to
the treatment and preservation of the Indians; he was requested,
therefore, to repair to court without waiting for further orders.

Don Diego understood this to be a peremptory recall, and obeyed
accordingly. On his arrival in Spain, he immediately presented himself
before the court at Victoria, with the frank and fearless spirit of an
upright man, and pleaded his cause so well, that the sovereign and council
acknowledged his innocence on all the points of accusation. He convinced
them, moreover, of the exactitude with which he had discharged his duties;
of his zeal for the public good, and the glory of the crown; and that all
the representations against him rose from the jealousy and enmity of
Pasaraonte and other royal oflicers in the colonies, who were impatient of
any superior authority in the island to restrain them.

Having completely established his innocence, and exposed the calumnies of
his enemies, Don Diego trusted that he would soon obtain justice as to all
his claims. As these, however, involved a participation in the profits of
vast and richly productive provinces, he experienced the delays and
difficulties usual with such demands, for it is only when justice costs
nothing that it is readily rendered. His earnest solicitations at length
obtained an order from the emperor, that a commission should be formed,
composed of the grand chancellor, the friar Loyasa, confessor to the
emperor, and president of the royal council of the Indies, and a number of
other distinguished personages. They were to inquire into the various
points in dispute between the admiral and the fiscal, and into the
proceedings which had taken place in the council of the Indies, with the
power of determining what justice required in the case. The affair,
however, was protracted to such a length, and accompanied by so many
toils, vexations, and disappointments, that the unfortunate Diego, like
his father, died in the pursuit. For two years he had followed the court
from city to city, during its migrations from Victoria to Burgos,
Valladolid, Madrid, and Toledo. In the winter of 1525, the emperor set out
from Toledo for Seville. The admiral undertook to follow him, though his
constitution was broken by fatigue and vexation, and he was wasting under
the attack of a slow fever. Oviedo, the historian, saw him at Toledo two
days before his departure, and joined with his friends in endeavoring to
dissuade him from a journey in such a state of health, and at such a
season. Their persuasions were in vain. Don Diego was not aware of the
extent of his malady: he told them that he should repair to Seville by the
church of our Lady of Guadaloupe, to offer up his devotions at that
shrine; and he trusted, through the intercession of the mother of God,
soon to be restored to health. [257] He accordingly left Toledo in a
litter on the 21st of February, 1526, having previously confessed and
taken the communion, and arrived the same day at Montalvan, distant about
six leagues. There his illness increased to such a degree that he saw his
end approaching. He employed the following day in arranging the affairs
of his conscience, and expired on February 23d, being little more than
fifty years of age, his premature death having been hastened by the
griefs and troubles he had experienced. "He was worn out," says Herrera,
"by following up his claims, and defending himself from the calumnies of
his competitors, who, with many stratagems and devices, sought to obscure
the glory of the father and the virtue of the son." [258]

We have seen how the discovery of the New World rendered the residue of
the life of Columbus a tissue of wrongs, hardships, and afflictions, and
how the jealousy and enmity he had awakened were inherited by his son. It
remains to show briefly in what degree the anticipations of perpetuity,
wealth, and honor to his family were fulfilled.

When Don Diego Columbus died, his wife and family were at St. Domingo. He
left two sons, Luis and Christopher, and three daughters, Maria, who
afterwards married Don Sancho de Cardono; Juana, who married Don Luis de
Cneva; and Isabella, who married Don George of Portugal, count of Gelves.
He had also a natural son named Christopher. [259]

After the death of Don Diego, his noble-spirited vice queen, left with a
number of young children, endeavored to assert and maintain the rights of
the family. Understanding that, according to the privileges accorded to
Christopher Columbus, they had a just claim to the vice-royalty of the
province of Veragua, as having been discovered by him, she demanded a
license from the royal audience of Hispaniola, to recruit men and fit out
an armada to colonize that country. This the audience refused, and sent
information of the demand to the emperor. He replied, that the vice-queen
should be kept in suspense until the justice of her claim could be
ascertained; as, although he had at various times given commissions to
different persons to examine the doubts and objections which had been
opposed by the fiscal, no decision had ever been made.[260] The
enterprise thus contemplated by the vice-queen was never carried into

Shortly afterwards she sailed for Spain, to protect the claim of her
eldest son, Don Luis, then six years of age. Charles V. was absent, but
she was most graciously received by the empress. The title of admiral of
the Indies was immediately conferred on her son, Don Luis, and the emperor
augmented his revenues, and conferred other favors on the family. Charles
V., however, could never be prevailed on to give Don Luis the title of
viceroy, although that dignity had been decreed to his father, a few years
previous to his death, as an hereditary right.[261]

In 1538, the young admiral, Don Luis, then about eighteen years of age,
was at court, having instituted proceedings before the proper tribunals,
for the recovery of the viceroyalty. Two years afterwards the suit was
settled by arbitration, his uncle Don Fernando, and Cardinal Loyasa,
president of the council of the Indies, being umpires. By a compromise Don
Luis was declared captain-general of Hispaniola, but with such limitations
that it was little better than a bare title. Don Luis sailed for
Hispaniola, but did not remain there long. He found his dignities and
privileges mere sources of vexation, and finally entered into a
compromise, which relieved himself and gratified the emperor. He gave up
all pretensions to the viceroyalty of the New World, receiving in its
stead the titles of Duke of Veragua and Marquis of Jamaica. [262] He
commuted also the claim to the tenth of the produce of the Indies for a
pension of one thousand doubloons of gold.[263]

Don Luis did not long enjoy the substitution of a certain, though
moderate, revenue for a magnificent but unproductive claim. He died
shortly afterwards, leaving no other male issue than an illegitimate son,
named Christopher. He left two daughters by his wife, Doña Maria de
Mosquera, one named Phillippa, and the other Maria, which last became a
nun in the convent of St. Quirce, at Valladolid.

Don Luis, having no legitimate son, was succeeded by his nephew Diego, son
to his brother Christopher. A litigation took place between this young
heir and his cousin Phillippa, daughter of the late Don Luis. The convent
of St. Quirce also put in a claim, on behalf of its inmate, Doña Maria,
who had taken the veil. Christopher, natural son to Don Luis, likewise
became a prosecutor in the suit, but was set aside on account of his
illegitimacy. Don Diego and his cousin Phillippa soon thought it better to
join claims and persons in wedlock, than to pursue a tedious contest. They
were married, and their union was happy, though not fruitful. Diego died
without issue in 1578, and with him the legitimate male line of Columbus
became extinct.

One of the most important lawsuits that the world has ever witnessed now
arose for the estates and dignities descended from the great discoverer.
Don Diego had two sisters, Francisca and Maria, the former of whom, and
the children of the latter, advanced their several claims. To these
parties was added Bernard Colombo of Cogoleto, who claimed as lineal
descendant from Bartholomew Columbus, the Adelantado, brother to the
discoverer. He was, however, pronounced ineligible, as the Adelantado had
no acknowledged, and certainly no legitimate, offspring.

Baldassar, or Balthazar, Colombo, of the house of Cuccaro and Conzano, in
the dukedom of Montferrat, in Piedmont, was an active and persevering
claimant. He came from Italy into Spain, where he devoted himself for many
years to the prosecution of this suit. He produced a genealogical tree of
his family, in which was contained one Domenico Colombo, lord of Cuccaro,
whom he maintained to be the identical father of Christopher Columbus, the
admiral. He proved that this Domenico was living at the requisite era, and
produced many witnesses who had heard that the navigator was born in the
castle of Cuccaro; whence, it was added, he and his two brothers had
eloped at an early age, and had never returned. [264] A monk is also
mentioned among the witnesses, who made oath that Christopher and his
brothers were born in that castle of Cuccaro. This testimony was
afterwards withdrawn by the prosecutor; as it was found that the monk's
recollection must have extended back considerably upward of a century.
[265] The claim of Balthazar was negatived. His proofs that Christopher
Columbus was a native of Cuccaro were rejected, as only hearsay, or
traditionary evidence. His ancestor Domenico, it appeared from his own
showing, died in 1456; whereas it was established that Domenico, the
father of the admiral, was living upwards of thirty years after that

The cause was finally decided by the council of the Indies, on the 2d
December, 1608. The male line was declared to be extinct. Don Nuño or
Nugno Gelves de Portugallo was put in possession, and became duke of
Veragua. He was grandson to Isabella, third daughter of Don Diego (son of
the discoverer) by his vice-queen, Doña Maria de Toledo. The descendants
of the two elder sisters of Isabella had a prior claim, but their lines
became extinct previous to this decision of the suit. The Isabella just
named had married Don George of Portugal, count of Gelves. "Thus," says
Charlevoix, "the dignities and wealth of Columbus passed into a branch of
the Portuguese house of Braganza, established in Spain, of which the heirs
are entitled _De Portugallo, Colon, Duke de Veragua, Marques de la
Jamaica, y Almirante de las Indias_." [Charlevoix, Hist. St. Doming.,
tom. i. lib. vi. p. 447.]

The suit of Balthazar Colombo of Cuccaro was rejected under three
different forms, by the council of the Indies; and his application for an
allowance of support, under the legacy of Columbus, in favor of poor
relations, was also refused; although the other parties had assented to
the demand. [266] He died in Spain, where he had resided many years in
prosecution of this suit. His son returned to Italy, persisting in the
validity of his claim: he said that it was in vain to seek justice in
Spain; they were too much interested to keep those dignities and estates
among themselves; but he gave out that he had received twelve thousand
doubloons of gold in compromise from the other parties. Spotorno, under
sanction of Ignazio de Giovanni, a learned canon, treats this assertion
as a bravado, to cover his defeat, being contradicted by his evident
poverty. [267] The family of Cuccaro, however, still maintain their
right, and express great veneration for the memory of their illustrious
ancestor, the admiral; and travelers occasionally visit their old castle
in Piedmont with great reverence, as the birthplace of the discoverer of
the New World.

No. III.

Fernando Columbus.

Fernando Columbus (or Colon, as he is called in Spain), the natural son
and historian of the admiral, was born in Cordova. There is an uncertainty
about the exact time of his birth. According to his epitaph, it must have
been on the 28th September, 1488; but according to his original papers
preserved in the library of the cathedral of Seville, and which were
examined by Don Diego Ortiz de Zuñiga, historian of that city, it would
appear to have been on the 29th of August, 1487. His mother, Doña Beatrix
Enriquez, was of a respectable family, but was never married to the
admiral, as has been stated by some of his biographers.

Early in 1494, Fernando was carried to court, together with his elder
brother Diego, by his uncle Don Bartholomew, to enter the royal household
in quality of page to the prince Don Juan, son and heir to Ferdinand and
Isabella. He and his brother remained in this situation until the death of
the prince; when they were taken by Queen Isabella as pages into her own
service. Their education, of course, was well attended to, and Fernando in
after-life gave proofs of being a learned man.

In the year 1502, at the tender age of thirteen or fourteen years,
Fernando accompanied his father in his fourth voyage of discovery, and
encountered all its singular and varied hardships with a fortitude that is
mentioned with praise and admiration by the admiral.

After the death of his father, it would appear that Fernando made two
voyages to the New World. He accompanied the emperor Charles V. also, to
Italy, Flanders, and Germany; and according to Zuffiga (Anales de Seville
de 1539, No. 3), traveled over all Europe and a part of Africa and Asia.
Possessing talents, judgment, and industry, these opportunities were not
lost upon him, and he acquired much information in geography, navigation,
and natural history. Being of a studious habit, and fond of books, he
formed a select, yet copious, library, of more than twenty thousand
volumes, in print and in manuscript. With the sanction of the emperor
Charles V., he undertook to establish an academy and college of
mathematics at Seville; and for this purpose commenced the construction of
a sumptuous edifice, without the walls of the city, facing the
Guadalquiver, in the place where the monastery of San Laureano is now
situated. His constitution, however, had been broken by the sufferings he
had experienced in his travels and voyages, and a premature death
prevented the completion of his plan of the academy, and broke off other
useful labors. He died in Seville on the 12th of July, 1539, at the age,
according to his epitaph, of fifty years, nine months, and fourteen days.
He left no issue, and was never married. His body was interred, according
to his request, in the cathedral of Seville. He bequeathed his valuable
library to the same establishment.

Don Fernando devoted himself much to letters. According to the inscription
on his tomb, he composed a work in four books, or volumes, the title of
which is defaced on the monument, and the work itself is lost. This is
much to be regretted, as, according to Zuñiga, the fragments of the
inscription specify it to have contained, among a variety of matter,
historical, moral, and geographical notices of the countries he had
visited, but especially of the New World, and of the voyages and
discoveries of his father.

His most important and permanent work, however, was a history of the
admiral, composed in Spanish. It was translated into Italian by Alonzo de
Ulloa, and from this Italian translation have proceeded the editions which
have since appeared in various languages. It is singular that the work
only exists in Spanish, in the form of a retranslation from that of Ulloa,
and full of errors in the orthography of proper names, and in dates and

Don Fernando was an eye-witness of some of the facts which he relates,
particularly of the fourth voyage, wherein he accompanied his father. He
had also the papers and charts of his father, and recent documents of all
kinds to extract from, as well as familiar acquaintance with the principal
personages who were concerned in the events which he records. He was a man
of probity and discernment, and writes more dispassionately than could be
expected, when treating of matters which affected the honor, the
interests, and happiness of his father. It is to be regretted, however,
that he should have suffered the whole of his father's life, previous to
his discoveries (a period of about fifty-six years), to remain in
obscurity. He appears to have wished to cast a cloud over it, and only to
have presented his father to the reader after he had rendered himself
illustrious by his actions, and his history had become in a manner
identified with the history of the world. His work, however, is an
invaluable document, entitled to great faith, and is the corner-stone of
the history of the American Continent.

[Illustration: Galley, from the tomb of Fernando Columbus, at Seville.]

No. IV.

Age of Columbus.

As the date I have assigned for the birth of Columbus makes him about ten
years older than he is generally represented, at the time of his
discoveries, it is proper to state precisely my authority. In the valuable
manuscript chronicle of the reign of the Catholic sovereigns, written by
Andres Bernaldes, the curate of Los Palacios, there is a long tract on the
subject of the discoveries of Columbus: it concludes with these words:
_Murió en Valladolid, el año de 1506, en el mes de Mayo, in senectute
bona, de edad 70 años, poco mas ó menos_. (He died in Valladolid in the
year 1506, in the month of May, in a good old age, being seventy years
old, a little more or less.) The curate of Los Palacios was a
contemporary, and an intimate friend of Columbus, who was occasionally a
guest in his house; no one was more competent, therefore, to form a
correct idea of his age. It is singular, that, while the biographers of
Columbus have been seeking to establish the epoch of his birth by various
calculations and conjectures, this direct testimony of honest Andres
Bernaldes has entirely escaped their notice, though some of them had his
manuscript in their hands. It was first observed by my accurate friend Don
Antonio Uguina in the course of his exact investigations, and has been
pointed out and ably supported by Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete, in
the introduction to his valuable collection of voyages.

Various circumstances in the life of Columbus will be found to corroborate
the statement of the curate; such, for example, as the increasing
infirmities with which he struggled during his voyages, and which at last
rendered him a cripple and confined him to his bed. The allusion to his
advanced age in one of his letters to the sovereigns, wherein he relates
the consolation he had received from a secret voice in the night season:
_Tu vejez no impedira a toda cosa grande. Abraham pasaba cien años
cuando engendro a Isaac, &c_. (Thy old age shall be no impediment to
any great undertaking. Abraham was above a hundred years old, when he
begat Isaac, &c.) The permission granted him by the king the year previous
to his death to travel on a mule, instead of a horse, on account of his
_age_ and infirmities; and the assertion of Oviedo that at the time
of his death he was quite old. (_era ya viejo._)

This fact of the advanced age of Columbus throws quite a new coloring over
his character and history. How much more extraordinary is the ardent
enthusiasm which sustained him through his long career of solicitation,
and the noble pride with which he refused to descend from his dignified
demands, and to bargain about his proposition, though life was rapidly
wasting in delays. How much more extraordinary is the hardihood with which
he undertook repeated voyages into unknown seas, amidst all kinds of
perils and hardships; the fortitude with which he bore up against an
accumulation of mental and bodily afflictions, enough to have disheartened
and destroyed the most youthful and robust, and the irrepressible buoyancy
of spirit with which to the last he still rose from under the ruined
concerns and disappointed hopes and blasted projects of one enterprise, to
launch into another, still more difficult and perilous.

We have been accustomed to admire all these things in Columbus when we
considered him in the full vigor of his life; how much more are they
entitled to our wonder as the achievements of a man whom the weight of
years and infirmities was pressing into the grave.

No. V.

Lineage of Columbus.

The ancestry of Christopher Columbus has formed a point of zealous
controversy, which is not yet satisfactorily settled. Several honorable
families, possessing domains in Placentia, Montferrat, and the different
parts of the Genoese territories, claim him as belonging to their houses;
and to these has recently been added the noble family of Colombo in
Modena. [Spotorno, Hist. Mem., p. 5.] The natural desire to prove
consanguinity with a man of distinguished renown has excited this rivalry;
but it has been heightened, in particular instances, by the hope of
succeeding to titles and situations of wealth and honor, when his male
line of descendants became extinct. The investigation is involved in
particular obscurity, as even his immediate relatives appear to have been
in ignorance on the subject.

Fernando Columbus, in his biography of the admiral, after a pompous
prelude, in which he attempts to throw a vague and cloudy magnificence
about the origin of his father, notices slightly the attempts of some to
obscure his fame, by making him a native of various small and
insignificant villages; and dwells with more complacency upon others who
make him a native of places in which there were persons of much honor of
the name, and many sepulchral monuments with arms and epitaphs of the
Colombos. He relates his having himself gone to the castle of Cucureo, to
visit two brothers of the family of Colombo, who were rich and noble, the
youngest of whom was above one hundred years of age, and who he had heard
were relatives of his father; but they could give him no information upon
the subject; whereupon he breaks forth into his professed contempt for
these adventitious claims, declaring, that he thinks it better to content
himself with dating from the glory of the admiral, than to go about
inquiring whether his father "were a merchant, or one who kept his hawks;"
[268] since, adds he, of persons of similar pursuits, there are thousands
who die every day, whose memory, even among their own neighbors and
relatives, perishes immediately, without its being possible afterwards
to ascertain even whether they existed.

After this, and a few more expressions of similar disdain for these empty
distinctions, he indulges in vehement abuse of Agostino Guistiniani, whom
he calls a false historian, an inconsiderate, partial, or malignant
compatriot, for having, in his psalter, traduced his father, by saying,
that in his youth he had been employed in mechanical occupations.

As, after all this discussion, Fernando leaves the question of his
father's parentage in all its original obscurity, yet appears irritably
sensitive to any derogatory suggestions of others, his whole evidence
tends to the conviction that he really knew nothing to boast of in his

Of the nobility and antiquity of the Colombo family, of which the admiral
probably was a remote descendant, we have some account in Herrera, "We
learn," he says, "that the emperor Otto the Second, in 940, confirmed to
the counts Pietro, Giovanni, and Alexandro Colombo, brothers, the
feudatory possessions which they held within the jurisdiction of the
cities of Ayqui, Savona, Aste, Montferrato, Turin, Viceli, Parma, Cremona,
and Bergamo, and all others which they held in Italy. It appears that the
Colombos of Cuccaro, Cucureo, and Placentia, were the same, and that the
emperor in the same year, 940, made donation to the said three brothers of
the castles of Cuccaro, Conzano, Rosignano, and others, and of the fourth
part of Bistanio, which appertained to the empire." [269]

One of the boldest attempts of those biographers, bent on ennobling
Columbus, has been to make him son of the Lord of Cuccaro, a burgh of
Montferrat, in Piedmont, and to prove that he was born in his father's
castle at that place; whence he and his brothers eloped at an early age,
and never returned. This was asserted in the course of a process brought
by a certain Baldasser, or Balthazar, Colombo, resident in Genoa, but
originally of Cuccaro, claiming the title and estates, on the death of
Diego Colon, duke of Veragua, in 1578, the great-grandson, and last
legitimate male descendant of the admiral. The council of the Indies
decided against this claim to relationship. Some account of the lawsuit
will be found in another part of the work.

This romantic story, like all others of the nobility of his parentage, is
at utter variance with the subsequent events of his life, his long
struggles with indigence and obscurity, and the difficulties he endured
from the want of family connections. How can it be believed, says Bossi,
that this same man, who, in his most cruel adversities was incessantly
taunted by his enemies with the obscurity of his birth, should not reply
to this reproach, by declaring his origin, if he were really descended
from the Lords of Cuccaro, Conzano, and Rosignano? a circumstance which
would have obtained him the highest credit with the Spanish nobility.

The different families of Colombo which lay claim to the great navigator,
seem to be various branches of one tree, and there is little doubt of his
appertaining remotely to the same respectable stock.

It appears evident, however, that Columbus sprang immediately from a line
of humble but industrious citizens, which had existed in Genoa, even from
the time of Giacomo Colombo the wool-carder, in 1311, mentioned by
Spotorno; nor is this in any wise incompatible with the intimation of
Fernando Columbus, that the family had been reduced from high estate to
great poverty, by the wars of Lombardy. The feuds of Italy, in those ages,
had broken down and scattered many of the noblest families; and while some
branches remained in the lordly heritage of castles and domains, others
were confounded with the humblest population of the cities.

No. VI.

Birthplace of Columbus.

There has been much controversy about the birthplace of Columbus. The
greatness of his renown has induced various places to lay claim to him as
a native, and from motives of laudable pride, for nothing reflects greater
lustre upon a city than to have given birth to distinguished men. The
original and long established opinion was in favor of Genoa; but such
strenuous claims were asserted by the states of Placentia, and in
particular of Piedmont, that the Academy of Sciences and Letters of Genoa
was induced, in 1812, to nominate three of its members, Signors Serra,
Carrega, and Piaggio, commissioners to examine into these pretensions.

The claims of Placentia had been first advanced in 1662, by Pietro Maria
Campi, in the ecclesiastical history of that place, who maintained that
Columbus was a native of the village of Pradello, in that vicinity. It
appeared probable, on investigation, that Bertolino Colombo,
great-grandfather to the admiral, had owned a small property in Pradello,
the rent of which had been received by Domenico Colombo of Genoa, and
after his death by his sons Christopher and Bartholomew. Admitting this
assertion to be correct, there was no proof that either the admiral, his
father, or grandfather, had ever resided on that estate. The very
circumstances of the case indicated, on the contrary, that their home was
in Genoa.

The claim of Piedmont was maintained with more plausibility. It was shown
that a Domenico Colombo was lord of the castle of Cuccaro in Montferrat,
at the time of the birth of Christopher Columbus, who, it was asserted,
was his son, and born in his castle. Balthazar Colombo, a descendant of
this person, instituted a lawsuit before the council of the Indies for the
inheritance of the admiral, when his male line became extinct. The council
of the Indies decided against him, as is shown in an account of that
process given among the illustrations of this history. It was proved that
Domenico Colombo, father of the admiral, was resident in Genoa both before
and many years after the death of this lord of Cuccaro, who bore the same

The three commissioners appointed by the Academy of Sciences and Letters
of Genoa to examine into these pretensions, after a long and diligent
investigation, gave a voluminous and circumstantial report in favor of
Genoa. An ample digest of their inquest may be found in the History of
Columbus by Signer Bossi, who, in an able dissertation on the question,
confirms their opinion. It may be added, in farther corroboration, that
Peter Martyr and Bartholomew Las Casas, who were contemporaries and
acquaintances of Columbus, and Juan de Barros, the Portuguese historian,
all make Columbus a native of the Genoese territories.

There has been a question fruitful of discussion among the Genoese
themselves, whether Columbus was born in the city of Genoa, or in some
other part of the territory. Finale, and Oneglia, and Savona, towns on the
Ligurian coast to the west, Boggiasco, Cogoleto, and several other towns
and villages, claim him as their own. His family possessed a small
property at a village or hamlet between Quinto and Nervi, called Terra
Rossa; in Latin, Terra Kubra; which has induced some writers to assign his
birth to one of those places. Bossi says that there is still a tower
between Quinto and Nervi which bears the title of Torre dei Colombi.
[271] Bartholomew Columbus, brother to the admiral, styled himself of
Terra Rubra, in a Latin inscription on a map which he presented to Henry
VII of England, and Fernando Columbus states, in his history of the
admiral, that he was accustomed to subscribe himself in the same manner
before he attained to his dignities.

Cogoleto at one time bore away the palm. The families there claim the
discoverer and preserve a portrait of him. One or both of the two admirals
named Colombo, with whom he sailed, are stated to have come from that
place, and to have been confounded with him so as to have given support to
this idea. [272]

Savona, a city in the Genoese territories, has claimed the same honor, and
this claim has recently been very strongly brought forward. Signer
Giovanni Battista Belloro, an advocate of Savona, has strenuously
maintained this claim in an ingenious disputation, dated May 12th, 1826,
in form of a letter to the Baron du Zach, editor of a valuable
astronomical and geographical journal, published monthly at Genoa.

Signor Belloro claims it as an admitted fact, that Domenico Colombo was
for many years a resident and citizen of Savona, in which place one
Christopher Columbus is shown to have signed a document in 1472.

He states that a public square in that city bore the name of Platea
Columbi, toward the end of the 14th century; that the Ligurian government
gave the name of Jurisdizione di Colombi to that district of the republic,
under the persuasion that the great navigator was a native of Savona; and
that Columbus gave the name of Saona to a little island adjacent to
Hispaniola, among his earliest discoveries.

He quotes many Savonese writers, principally poets, and various historians
and poets of other countries, and thus establishes the point that Columbus
was held to be a native of Savona by persons of respectable authority. He
lays particular stress on the testimony of the Magnifico Francisco
Spinola, as related by the learned prelate Felippo Alberto Pollero,
stating that he had seen the sepulchre of Christopher Columbus in the
cathedral at Seville, and that the epitaph states him expressly to be a
native of Savona: "Hic jacet Christophorus Columbus Savonensis."

The prooft advanced by Signor Belloro show his zeal for the honor of his
native city, but do not authenticate the fact he undertakes to establish.
He shows clearly that many respectable writers believed Columbus to be a
native of Savona; but a far greater number can be adduced, and many of
them contemporary with the admiral, some of them his intimate friends,
others his fellow-citizens, who state him to have been born in the city of
Genoa. Among the Savonese writers, Giulio Salinorio, who investigated the
subject, comes expressly to the same conclusion: "_Geneva cittá
nobilissima era la patria de Colombo_."

Signor Belloro appears to be correct in stating that Domenico, the father
of the admiral, was several years resident in Savona. But it appears from
his own dissertation, that the Christopher who witnessed the testament in
1472, styled himself of Genoa: "_Christophorus Columbus lancrius de
Janua._" This incident is stated by other writers, who presume this
Christopher to have been the navigator on a visit to his father, in the
interval of his early voyages. In as far as the circumstance bears on the
point, it supports the idea that he was born at Genoa.

The epitaph on which Signor Belloro places his principal reliance,
entirely fails. Christopher Columbus was not interred in the cathedral of
Seville, nor was any monument erected to him in that edifice. The tomb to
which the learned prelate Felippo Alberto Pollero alludes, may have been
that of Fernando Columbus, son of the admiral, who, as has been already
observed, was buried in the cathedral of Seville, to which he bequeathed
his noble library. The place of his sepulture is designated by a broad
slab of white marble, inserted in the pavement, with an inscription,
partly in Spanish, partly in Latin, recording the merits of Fernando, and
the achievements of his father. On either side of the epitaph is engraved
an ancient Spanish Galley. The inscription quoted by Signor Belloro may
have been erroneously written from memory by the Magnifico Francisco
Spinola, under the mistaken idea that he had beheld the sepulchre of the
great discoverer. As Fernando was born at Cordova, the term Savouensis
must have been another error of memory in the Magnifico; no such word is
to be found in the inscription.

This question of birthplace has also been investigated with considerable
minuteness, and a decision given in favor of Genoa, by D. Gio Battista
Spotorno, of the royal university in that city, in his historical memoir
of Columbus. He shows that the family of the Columbi had long been
resident in Genoa. By'an extract from the notarial register, it appeared
that one Giacomo Colombo, a woolcarder, resided without the gate of St.
Andria, in the year 1311. An agreement, also published by the academy of
Genoa, proved, that in 1489, Domenico Colombo possessed a house and shop,
and a garden with a well, in the street of St. Andrew's gate, anciently
without the walls, presumed to have been the same residence with that of
Giacomo Colombo. He rented also another house from the monks of St.
Stephen, in the Via Mulcento, leading from the street of St. Andrew to the
Strada Giulia. [275]

Signor Bossi states, that documents lately found in the archives of the
monastery of St. Stephen, present the name of Domenico Colombo several
times, from 1456 to 1459, and designate him as son of Giovanni Colombo,
husband of Susanna Fontanarossa, and father of Christopher, Bartholomew,
and Giacomo [276] (or Diego). He states also that the receipts of the
canons show that the last payment of rent was made by Domenico Colombo for
his dwelling in 1489. He surmises that the admiral was born in the
before-mentioned house belonging to those monks, in Via Mulcento, and that
he was baptized in the church of St. Stephen. He adds that an ancient
manuscript was submitted to the commissioners of the Genoese academy, in
the margin of which the notary had stated that the name of Christopher
was on the register of the parish as having been baptized in that church.

Andres Bernaldez, the curate of los Palacios, who was an intimate friend
of Columbus, says that he was of Genoa. [278] Agostino Giustiniani, a
contemporary of Columbus, likewise asserts it in his Polyglot Psalter,
published in Genoa, in 1516. Antonio de Herrera, an author of great
accuracy, who, though not a contemporary, had access to the best
documents, asserts decidedly that he was born in the city of Genoa.

To these names may be added that of Alexander Geraldini, brother to the
nuncio, and instructor to the children of Ferdinand and Isadella, a most
intimate friend of Columbus. [279] Also Antonio Gallo, [280] Bartolomeo
Senarega, [281] and Uberto Foglieta, [282] all contemporaries with the
admiral, and natives of Genoa, together with an anonymous writer, who
published an account of his voyage of discovery at Venice in 1509. [283]
It is unnecessary to mention historians of later date agreeing in the
same fact, as they must have derived their information from some of these

The question in regard to the birthplace of Columbus has been treated thus
minutely, because it has been, and still continues to be, a point of warm
controversy. It may be considered, however, as conclusively decided by the
highest authority, the evidence of Columbus himself. In a testament
executed in 1498, which has been admitted in evidence before the Spanish
tribunals in certain lawsuits among his descendants, he twice declares
that he was a native of the city of Genoa: "_Siendo yo nacido en
Genova._" ("I being born in Genoa.") And again, he repeats the
assertion, as a reason for enjoining certain conditions on his heirs,
which manifest the interest he takes in his native place. "I command the
said Diego, my son, or the person who inherits the said mayorazgo (or
entailed estate), that he maintain always in the city of Genoa a person of
our lineage, who shall have a house and a wife there, and to furnish him
with an income on which he can live decently, as a person connected with
onr family, and hold footing and root in that city as a native of it, so
that he may have aid and favor in that city in case of need, _for from
thence I came and there was born_." [284]

In another part of his testament he expresses himself with a filial
fondness in respect to Genoa. "I command the said Don Diego, or whoever
shall possess the said mayorazgo, that he labor and strive always for the
honor, and welfare, and increase of the city of Genoa, and employ all his
abilities and means in defending and augmenting the welfare and honor of
her republic, in all matters which are not contrary to the service of the
church of God, and the state of the king and queen our sovereigns, and
their successors."

An informal codicil, executed by Columbus at Valladolid, May 4th, 1506,
sixteen days before his death, was discovered about 1785, in the Corsini
library at Rome. It is termed a military codicil, from being made in the
manner which the civil law allows to the soldier who executes such an
instrument on the eve of battle, or in expectation of death. It was
written on the blank page of a little breviary presented to Columbus by
Pope Alexander VII. Columbus leaves the book "to his beloved country, the
Republic of Genoa."

He directs the erection of a hospital in that city for the poor, with
provision for its support, and he declares that republic his successor in
the admiralty of the Indies, in the event of his male line becoming

The authenticity of this paper has been questioned. It has been said, that
there was no probability of Columbus having resort to a usage with which
he was, most likely, unacquainted. The objections are not cogent. Columbus
was accustomed to the peculiarities of a military life, and he repeatedly
wrote letters, in critical moments, as a precaution against some fatal
occurrence that seemed to impend. The present codicil, from its date, must
have been written a few days previous to his death, perhaps at a moment
when he imagined himself at extremity. This may account for any difference
in the handwriting, especially as he was, at times, so affected by the
gout in his hands as not to be able to write except at night. Particular
stress has been laid on the signature; but it does not appear that he was
uniform in regard to that, and it is a point to which any one who
attempted a forgery would be attentive. It does not appear, likewise, that
any advantage could have been obtained by forging the paper, or that any
such was attempted.

In 1502, when Columbus was about to depart on his fourth and last voyage,
he wrote to his friend, Doctor Nicolo Oderigo, formerly ambassador from
Genoa to Spain, and forwarded to him copies of all his grants and
commissions from the Spanish sovereigns, authenticated before the alcaldes
of Seville. He, at the same time, wrote to the bank of San Giorgio, at
Genoa, assigning a tenth of his revenues to be paid to that city, in
diminution of the duties on corn, wine, and other provisions.

Why should Colnmbus feel this strong interest in Genoa, had he been born
in any of the other Italian states which have laid claim to him? He was
under no obligation to Genoa. He had resided there but a brief portion of
his early life; and his proposition for discovery, according to some
writers, had been scornfully rejected by that republic. There is nothing
to warrant so strong an interest in Genoa, but the filial tie which links
the heart of a man to his native place, however he may be separated from
it by time or distance, and however little he may be indebted to it for

Again, had Columbus been born in any of the towns and villages of the
Genoese coast which have claimed him for a native, why should he have made
these bequests in favor of the _city_ of Genoa, and not of his native
town or village?

These bequests were evidently dictated by a mingled sentiment of pride and
affection, which would be without all object if not directed to his native
place. He was at this time elevated above all petty pride on the subject.
His renown was so brilliant, that it would have shed a lustre on any
hamlet, however obscure: and the strong love of country here manifested
would never have felt satisfied until it had singled out the spot, and
nestled down, in the very cradle of his infancy. These appear to be
powerful reasons, drawn from natural feeling, for deciding in favor of

No. VII.

The Colombos.

During the early part of the life of Columbus, there were two other
navigators, bearing the same name, of some rank and celebrity, with whom
he occasionally sailed; their names occurring vaguely from time to time,
during the obscure part of his career, have caused much perplexity to some
of his biographers, who have supposed that they designated the discoverer.
Fernando Columbus affirms them to have been family connections,[285] and
his father says, in one of his letters, "I am not the first admiral of our

These two were uncle and nephew; the latter being termed by historians
Colombo the younger, (by the Spanish historians Colombo el mozo.) They
were in the Genoese service, but are mentioned, occasionally, in old
chronicles, as French commanders, because Genoa, during a great part of
their time, was under the protection, or rather the sovereignty, of
France, and her ships and captains, being engaged in the expeditions of
that power, were identified with the French marine.

Mention is made of the elder Colombo in Zurita's Annals of Arragon, (L.
xix. p. 261,) in the war between Spain and Portugal, on the subject of the
claim of the Princess Juana to the crown of Castile. In 1476, the king of
Portugal determined to go to the Mediterranean coast of France, to incite
his ally, Louis XI, to prosecute the war in the province of Guipuzcoa.

The king left Toro, says Zurita, on the 13th June, and went by the river
to the city of Porto, in order to await the armada of the king of France,
the captain of which was Colon, (Colombo,) who was to navigate by the
straits of Gibraltar to pass to Marseilles.

After some delays Colombo arrived in the latter part of July with the
French armada at Bermeo, on the coast of Biscay, where he encountered a
violent storm, lost his principal ship, and ran to the coast of Galicia,
with an intention of attacking Kibaldo, and lost a great many of his men.
Thence he went to Lisbon to receive the king of Portugal, who embarked in
the fleet in August, with a number of his noblemen, and took two thousand
two hundred foot soldiers, and four hundred and seventy horse, to
strengthen the Portuguese garrisons along the Barbary coast. There were in
the squadron twelve ships and five caravels. After touching at Ceuta the
fleet proceeded to Colibre, where the king disembarked in the middle of
September, the weather not permitting them to proceed to Marseilles.
(Zurita, L. xix. Ch. 51.)

This Colombo is evidently the naval commander of whom the following
mention is made by Jaques George de Chaufepie, in his supplement to Bayle,
(vol. 2, p. 126 of letter C.)

"I do not know what dependence," says Chaufepie, "is to be placed on a
fact reported in the _Ducatiana_, (Part 1, p. 143,) that Columbus was
in 1474 captain of several ships for Louis XI, and that, as the Spaniards
had made at that time an irruption into Roussillon, he thought that, for
reprisal, and without contravening the peace between the two crowns, he
could run down Spanish vessels. He attacked, therefore, and took two
galleys of that nation, freighted on the account of various individuals.
On complaints of this action being made to king Ferdinand, he wrote on the
subject to Louis XI; his letter is dated the 9th December, 1474. Ferdinand
terms Christopher Columbus a subject of Louis; it was because, as is
known, Columbus was a Genoese, and Louis was sovereign of Genoa; although
that city and Savona were held of him in fief by the duke of Milan."

It is highly probable that it was the squadron of this same Colombo of
whom the circumstance is related by Bossi, and after him by Spotorno on
the authority of a letter found in the archives of Milan, and written in
1476 by two illustrious Milanese gentlemen, on their return from
Jerusalem. The letter states that in the previous year 1475, as the
Venetian fleet was stationed off Cyprus to guard the island, a Genoese
squadron, commanded by one Colombo, sailed by them with an air of
defiance, shouting "Viva San Giorgia!" As the republics were then at
peace, they were permitted to pass unmolested.

Bossi supposes that the Colombo here mentioned was Christopher Columbus
the discoverer; but it appears rather to have been the old Genoese admiral
of that name, who according to Zurita was about that time cruising in the
Mediterranean; and who, in all probability, was the hero of both the
preceding occurrences.

The nephew of this Colombo, called by the Spaniards Colombo el mozo,
commanded a few years afterwards a squadron in the French service, as will
appear in a subsequent illustration, and Columbus may at various times
have held an inferior command under both uncle and nephew, and been
present on the above cited occasions.


Expedition of John of Anjou.

About the time that Columbus attained his twenty-fourth year, his native
city was in a state of great alarm and peril from the threatened invasion
of Alphonso V of Aragon, king of Naples. Finding itself too weak to
contend singly with such a foe, and having in vain looked for assistance
from Italy, it placed itself under the protection of Charles the VIIth of
France. That monarch sent to its assistance John of Anjou, son of René or
Renato, king of Naples, who had been dispossessed of his crown by
Alphonso. John of Anjou, otherwise called the duke of Calabria, [286]
immediately took upon himself the command of the place, repaired its
fortifications, and defended the entrance of the harbor with strong
chains. In the meantime, Alplionso had prepared a large land force, and
assembled an armament of twenty ships and ten galleys at Ancona, on the
frontiers of Genoa. The situation of the latter was considered eminently
perilous, when Alphonso suddenly fell ill of a calenture and died; leaving
the kingdoms of Anjou and Sicily to his brother John, and the kingdom of
Naples to his son Ferdinand.

The death of Alphonso, and the subsequent division of his dominions, while
they relieved the fears of the Genoese, gave rise to new hopes on the part
of the house of Anjou; and the duke John, encouraged by emissaries from
various powerful partisans among the Neapolitan nobility, determined to
make a bold attempt upon Naples for the recovery of the crown. The Genoese
entered into his cause with spirit, furnishing him with ships, galleys,
and money. His father, René or Renato, fitted out twelve galleys for the
expedition in the harbor of Marseilles, and sent him assurance of an
abundant supply of money, and of the assistance of the king of France. The
brilliant nature of the enterprise attracted the attention of the daring
and restless spirits of the times. The chivalrous nobleman, the soldier of
fortune, the hardy corsair, the bold adventurer, or the military partisan,
enlisted under the banners of the duke of Calabria. It is stated by
historians, that Columbus served in the armament from Genoa, in a squadron
commanded by one of the Colombos, his relations.

The expedition sailed in October, 1459, and arrived at Sessa, between the
mouths of the Garigliano and the Volturno. The news of its arrival was the
signal of universal revolt; the factious barons, and their vassals,
hastened to join the standard of Anjou, and the duke soon saw the finest
provinces of the Neapolitan dominions at his command, and with his army
and squadron menaced the city of Naples itself.

In the history of this expedition we meet with one hazardous action of the
fleet in which Columbus had embarked.

The army of John of Anjou, being closely invested by a superior force, was
in a perilous predicament at the mouth of the Sarno. In this conjuncture,
the captain of the armada landed with his men, and scoured the
neighborhood, hoping to awaken in the populace their former enthusiasm for
the banner of Anjou; and perhaps to take Naples by surprise. A chosen
company of Neapolitan infantry was sent against them. The troops from the
fleet having little of the discipline of regular soldiery, and much of the
freebooting disposition of maritime rovers, had scattered themselves about
the country, intent chiefly upon spoil. They were attacked by the infantry
and put to rout, with the loss of many killed and wounded. Endeavoring to
make their way back to the ships, they found the passes seized and blocked
up by the people of Sorento, who assailed them with dreadful havoc. Their
flight now became desperate and headlong; many threw themselves from rocks
and precipices into the sea, and but a small portion regained the ships.

The contest of John of Anjou for the crown of Naples lasted four years.
For a time fortune favored him, and the prize seemed almost within his
grasp, but reverses succeeded: he was defeated at various points; the
factious nobles, one by one, deserted him, and returned to their
allegiance to Alfonso, and the duke was finally compelled to retire to the
island of Ischia. Here he remained for some time, guarded by eight
galleys, which likewise harassed the bay of Naples. [287] In this
squadron, which loyally adhered to him until he ultimately abandoned this
unfortunate enterprise, Columbus is stated to have served.

No. IX.

Capture of the Venetian Galleys, by Colombo the Younger.

As the account of the sea-fight by which Fernando Columbus asserts that
his father was first thrown upon the shores of Portugal, has been adopted
by various respectable historians, it is proper to give particular reasons
for discrediting it.

Fernando expressly says, that it was in an action mentioned by Marco
Antonio Sabelico, in the eighth book of his tenth Decade; that the
squadron in which Columbus served was commanded by a famous corsair,
called Columbus the younger, (Colombo el mozo,) and that an embassy was
sent from Venice to thank the king of Portugal for the succor he afforded
to the Venetian captains and crews. All this is certainly recorded in
Sabellicus, but the battle took place in 1485, after Columbus had
_left_ Portugal. Zurita, in his annals of Aragon, under the date of
1685, mentions this same action. He says, "At this time four Venetian
galleys sailed from the island of Cadiz and took the route for Flanders;
they were laden with merchandise from the Levant, especially from the
island of Sicily, and, passing by Cape St. Vincent, they were attacked by
a French corsair, son of captain Colon, (Colombo,) who had seven vessels
in his armada; and the galleys were captured the twenty-first of August."

A much fuller account is given in the life of king John II of Portugal, by
Garcia de Resende, who likewise records it as happening in 1485. He says
the Venetian galleys were taken and robbed by the French, and the captains
and crews, wounded, plundered, and maltreated, were turned on shore at
Cascoes. Here they were succored by Doña Maria de Meneses, countess of

When king John II heard of the circumstance, being much grieved that such
an event should have happened on his coast, and being disposed to show his
friendship for the republic of Venice, he ordered that the Venetian
captains should be furnished with rich raiment of silks and costly cloths,
and provided with horses and mules, that they might make their appearance
before him in a style befitting themselves and their country. He received
them with great kindness and distinction, expressing himself with princely
courtesy, both as to themselves and the republic of Venice; and having
heard their account of the battle, and of their destitute situation, he
assisted them with a large sum of money to ransom their galleys from the
French cruisers. The latter took all the merchandises on board of their
ships, but king John prohibited any of the spoil from being purchased
within his dominions. Having thus generously relieved and assisted the
captains, and administered to the necessities of their crews, he enabled
them all to return in their own galleys to Venice.

The dignitaries of the republic were so highly sensible of this
munificence, on the part of king John, that they sent a stately embassy to
that monarch, with rich presents and warm expressions of gratitude.
Geronimo Donate was charged with this mission, a man eminent for learning
and eloquence; he was honorably received and entertained by king John, and
dismissed with royal presents, among which were jenets, and mules with
sumptuous trappings and caparisons, and many negro slaves richly clad.

The following is the account of this action as given by Sabellicus, in his
history of Venice: [290]

Erano andate quatro Galee delle quali Bartolommeo Minio era capitano.
Queste navigando per l'Iberico mare, Colombo il piu giovane, nipote di
quel Colombo famoso corsale, fecesi incontro a' Veniziani di notte,
appresso il sacro Promontorio, che chiamasi ora capo di san Vincenzo, con
sette navi guernite da combattere. Egli quantunque nel primo incontro
avesse seco disposto d'opprimere le navi Veniziane, si ritenne però del
combattere sin al giorno: tuttavia per esser alia battaglia più acconcio
così le seguia, che le prode del corsale toccavano le poppe de Veniziani.
Venuto il giorno incontanente i Barbari diedero 1' assalto. Sostennero i
Veniziani allora 1' empito del nemico, per numero di navi e di combattenti
superiore, e durò il conflitto atroce per molte ore. Rare fiate fu
combattuto contro simili nemici con tanta uccisione, perchè a pena si
costuina d'attaccarsi contro di loro, se non per occasione. Affermano
alcuni, che vi furono presenti, esser morte deile ciurme Veniziane da
trecento uomini. Altri dicono che fu meno: morì in quella zuffa Lorenzo
Michele capitano d'una galera e Giovanni Delfino, d'altro capitano
fratello. Era durata la zuffa dal fare del giorno fin' ad ore venti, e
erano le genti Veneziane mal Initiate. Era gia la nave Delfina in potere
de' nemici quando le altre ad una ad una si renderono. Narrano alcuni, che
furono di quel aspro conflitto participi, aver numerato nelle loro navi da
prode a poppe ottanta valorosi uomini estinti, i quali dal nemico veduti
lo mossero a gemere e dire con sdegno, che cosi avevano voluto, i
Veniziani. I corpi morti furono gettati nel mare, e i feriti posti nel
lido. Quei che rimasero vivi seguirono con le navi il capitano vittorioso
sin' a Lisbona e ivi furono tutti licenziati.... Quivi furono i Veniziaui
benignamente ricevuti dal Re, gli infermi furono medicati, gli altri
ebbero abiti e denari secondo la loro condizione.... Oltre cio vietd in
tutto il Regno, che alcuno non comprasse della preda Veniziana, portata
dai corsali. La nuova dell' avuta rovina non poco afflisse la città, erano
perduti in quella mercatanzia da ducento mila ducati; ma il danno
particolare degldi nomini uccisi diede maggior afflizione. _Marc. Ant.
Sabelico, Hist, Venet., decad. iv. lib. iii._

No. X.

Amerigo Vespucci.

Among the earliest and most intelligent of the voyagers who followed the
track of Columbus, was Amerigo Vespucci. He has been considered by many as
the first discoverer of the southern continent, and by a singular caprice
of fortune, his name has been given to the whole of the New World. It has
been strenuously insisted, however, that he had no claim to the title of a
discoverer; that he merely sailed in a subordinate capacity in a squadron
commanded by others; that the account of his first voyage is a
fabrication; and that he did not visit the main-land until after it had
been discovered and coasted by Columbus. As this question has been made a
matter of warm and voluminous controversy, it is proper to take a summary
view of it in the present work.

Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, March 9th, 1451, of a noble, but
not at that time a wealthy, family; his father's name was Anastatio; his
mother's was Elizabetta Mini. He was the third of their sons, and received
an excellent education under his uncle, Georgio Antonio Vespucci, a
learned friar of the fraternity of San Marco, who was instructor to
several illustrious personages of that period.

Amerigo Vespucci visited Spain, and took up his residence in Seville, to
attend to some commercial transactions on account of the family of the
Medici of Florence, and to repair, by his ingenuity, the losses and
misfortunes of an unskillful brother. [291]

The date of his arrival in Spain is uncertain, but from comparing dates
and circumstances mentioned in his letters, he must have been at Seville
when Columbus returned from his first voyage.

Padre Stanislaus Canovai, Professor of Mathematics at Florence, who has
published the life and voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, says that he was
commissioned by king Ferdinand, and sent with Columbus in his second
voyage in 1493. He states this on the authority of a passage in the
Cosmography of Sebastian Munster, published at Basle in 1550;[292] but
Munster mentions Vespucci as having accompanied Columbus in his first
voyage; the reference of Canovai is therefore incorrect; and the
suggestion of Munster is disproved by the letters of Vespucci, in which he
states his having been stimulated by the accounts brought of the
newly-discovered regions. He never mentions such a voyage in any of his
letters; which he most probably would have done, or rather would have
made it the subject of a copious letter, had he actually performed it.

The first notice of a positive form which we have of Vespucci, as resident
in Spain, is early in 1496. He appears, from documents in the royal
archives at Seville, to have acted as agent or factor for the house of
Juanoto Berardi, a rich Florentine merchant, resident in Seville; who had
contracted to furnish the Spanish sovereigns with three several armaments,
of four vessels each, for the service of the newly-discovered countries.
He may have been one of the principals in this affair, which was
transacted in the name of this established house. Berardi died in
December, 1495, and in the following January we find Amerigo Vespucci
attending to the concerns of the expeditions, and settling with the
masters of the ships for their pay and maintenance, according to the
agreements made between them and the late Juanoto Berardi. On the 12th
January, 1496, he received on this account 10,000 maravedis from Bernardo
Pinelo, the royal treasurer. He went on preparing all things for the
dispatch of four caravels to sail under the same contract between the
sovereigns and the house of Berardi, and sent them to sea on the 3d
February, 1496; but on the 8th they met with a storm and were wrecked; the
crews were saved with the loss of only three men. [293] While thus
employed, Amerigo Vespucci, of course, had occasional opportunity of
conversing with Columbus, with whom, according to the expression of the
admiral himself, in one of his letters to his son Diego, he appears to
have been always on friendly terms. From these conversations, and from his
agency in these expeditions, he soon became excited to visit the
newly-discovered countries, and to participate in enterprises, which were
the theme of every tongue. Having made himself well acquainted with
geographical and nautical science, he prepared to launch into the career
of discovery. It was not very long before he carried this design into

In 1498, Columbus, in his third voyage, discovered the coast of Paria, on
Terra Firma; which he at that time imagined to be a great island, but that
a vast continent lay immediately adjacent. He sent to Spain specimens of
pearls found on this coast, and gave the most sanguine accounts of the
supposed riches of the country.

In 1499, an expedition of four vessels, under command of Alonzo de Ojeda,
was fitted out from Spain, and sailed for Paria, guided by charts and
letters sent to the government by Columbus. These were communicated to
Ojeda, by his patron, the bishop Fonseca, who had the superintendence of
India affairs, and who furnished him also with a warrant to undertake the

It is presumed that Vespucci aided in fitting, out the armament, and
sailed in a vessel belonging to the house of Berardi, and in this way was
enabled to take a share in the gains and losses of the expedition; for
Isabella, as queen of Castile, had rigorously forbidden all strangers to
trade with her transatlantic possessions, not even excepting the natives
of the kingdom of Aragon.

This squadron visited Paria and several hundred miles of the coast, which
they ascertained to be Terra Firma. They returned in June, 1500; and on
the 18th of July, in that year, Amerigo Vespucci wrote an account of his
voyage to Lorenzo de Pier Francisco de Medici of Florence, which remained
concealed in manuscript, until brought to light and published by Bandini
in 1745.

In his account of this voyage, and in every other narrative of his
different expeditions, Vespucci never mentions any other person concerned
in the enterprise. He gives the time of his sailing, and states that he
went with two caravels, which were probably his share of the expedition,
or rather vessels sent by the house of Berardi. He gives an interesting
narrative of the voyage, and of the various transactions with the natives,
which corresponds, in many substantial points, with the accounts furnished
by Ojeda and his mariners of their voyage, in a lawsuit hereafter

In May, 1501, Vespucci, having suddenly left Spain, sailed in the service
of Emanuel, king of Portugal; in the course of which expedition he visited
the coast of Brazil. He gives an account of this voyage in a second letter
to Lorenzo de Pier Francisco de Medici, which also remained in manuscript
until published by Bartolozzi in 1789. [294]

No record nor notice of any such voyage undertaken by Amerigo Vespucci, at
the command of Emanuel, is to be found in the archives of the Torre do
Tombo, the general archives of Portugal, which have been repeatedly and
diligently searched for the purpose. It is singular also that his name is
not to be found in any of the Portuguese historians, who in general were
very particular in naming all navigators who held any important station
among them, or rendered any distinguished services. That Vespucci did sail
along the coasts, however, is not questioned. His nephew, after his death,
in the course of evidence on some points in dispute, gave the correct
latitude of Cape St. Augustine, which he said he had extracted from his
uncle's journal.

In 1504, Vespucci wrote a third letter to the same Lorenzo de Medici,
containing a more extended account of the voyage just alluded to in the
service of Portugal.  This was the first of his narratives that appeared
in print.  It appears to have been published in Latin, at Strasburgh, as
early as 1505, under the title "Americus Vesputius de Orbe Antarctica per
Regem Portugalliæ pridem inventa." [295]

An edition of this letter was printed in Vicenza in 1507, in an anonymous
collection of voyages edited by Francanzio di Monte Alboddo, an
inhabitant of Vicenza. It was re-printed in Italian in 1508, at Milan,
and also in Latin, in a book entitled "Itinerarium Portugalensium." In
making the present illustration, the Milan edition in Italian [296] has
been consulted, and also a Latin translation of it by Simon Grinæus, in
his Novus Orbis, published at Basle in 1532. It relates entirely the
first voyage of Vespucci from Lisbon to the Brazils in 1501.

It is from this voyage to the Brazils that Amerigo Vespucci was first
considered the discoverer of Terra Firma; and his name was at first
applied to these southern regions, though afterwards extended to the
whole continent. The merits of his voyage were, however, greatly
exaggerated. The Brazils had been previously discovered, and formally
taken possession of for Spain in 1500, by Vincente Yañez Pinzon; and
also in the same year, by Pedro Alvarez Cabral, on the part of Portugal;
circumstances unknown, however, by Vespucci and his associates. The
country remained in possession of Portugal, in conformity to the line
of demarcation agreed on between the two nations.

Vespucci made a second voyage in the service of Portugal. He says that
he commanded a caravel in a squadron of six vessels destined for the
discovery of Malacca, which they had heard to be the great depot and
magazine of all the trade between the Ganges and the Indian sea. Such
an expedition did sail about this time, under the command of Gonzalo
Coelho. The squadron sailed, according to Vespucci, on the 10th of May,
1503. It stopped at the Cape de Verd islands for refreshments, and
afterwards sailed by the coast of Sierra Leone, but was prevented from
landing by contrary winds and a turbulent sea.  Standing to the
southwest, they ran three hundred leagues until they were three degrees
to the southward of the equinoctial line, where they discovered an
uninhabited island, about two leagues in length and one in breadth.
Here, on the 10th of August, by mismanagement, the commander of the
squadron ran his vessel on a rock and lost her. While the other vessels
were assisting to save the crew and property from the wreck, Amerigo
Vespucci was dispatched in his caravel to search for a safe harbor in
the island. He departed in his vessel without his long-boat, and with
less than half of his crew, the rest having gone in the boat to the
assistance of the wreck. Vespucci found a harbor, but waited in vain
for several days for the arrival of the ships. Standing out to sea, he
met with a solitary vessel, and learnt that the ship of the commander
had sunk, and the rest had proceeded onwards.  In company with this
vessel he stood for the Brazils, according to the command of the king,
in case that any vessel should be parted from the fleet. Arriving on
the coast, he discovered the famous bay of All Saints, where he
remained upwards of two months, in hopes of being joined by the rest
of the fleet. He at length ran 260 leagues farther south, where he
remained five months building a fort and taking in cargo of
Brazil-wood. Then, leaving in the fortress a garrison of 24 men with
arms and ammunition, he set sail for Lisbon, where he arrived in June,
1504. [297] The commander of the squadron and the other four ships were
never heard of afterwards.

Vespucci does not appear to have received the reward from the king of
Portugal that his services merited, for we find him at Seville early in
1505, on his way to the Spanish court, in quest of employment: and he
was bearer of a letter from Columbus to his son Diego, dated February 5,
which, while it speaks warmly of him as a friend, intimates his having
been unfortunate. The following is the letter:

My Dear Son,--Diego Mendez departed hence on Monday, the third of this
month. After his departure I conversed with Amerigo Vespucci, the bearer
of this, who goes there (to court) summoned on affairs of navigation.
Fortune has been adverse to him as to many others. His labors have not
profited him as much as they reasonably should have done. He goes on my
account, and with much desire to do something that may result to my
advantage, if within his power. I cannot ascertain here in what I can
employ him, that will be serviceable to me, for I do not know what may
be there required. He goes with the determination to do all that is
possible for me; see in what he may be of advantage, and co-operate
with him, that he may say and do every thing, and put his plans in
operation; and let all be done secretly, that he may not be suspected.
I have said every thing to him that I can say touching the business,
and have informed him of the pay I have received, and what is due, &c.

About this time Amerigo Vespucci received letters of naturalization from
king Ferdinand, and shortly afterwards he and Vincente Yafiez Pinzon were
named captains of an armada about to be sent out in the spice trade and to
make discoveries. There is a royal order, dated Toro, 11th April, 1507,
for 12,000 maravedis for an outfit for "Americo de Vespuche, resident of
Seville." Preparations were made for this voyage, and vessels procured and
fitted out, but it was eventually abandoned. There are memoranda existing
concerning it, dated in 1506, 1507, and 1508, from which it appears that
Amerigo Vespucci remained at Seville, attending to the fluctuating
concerns of this squadron, until the destination of the vessels was
changed, their equipments were sold, and the accounts settled. During this
time he had a salary of 30,000 maravedis. On the 22d of March, 1508, he
received the appointment of principal pilot, with a salary of 70,000
maravedis. His chief duties were to prepare charts, examine pilots,
superintend the fitting out of expeditions, and prescribe the route that
vessels were to pursue in their voyages to the New World. He appears to
have remained at Seville, and to have retained this office until his
death, on the 22d of February, 1512. His widow, Maria Corezo, enjoyed a
pension of 10,000 maravedis. After his death, his nephew, Juan Vespucci,
was nominated pilot, with a salary of 20,000 maravedis, commencing on the
22d of May, 1512. Peter Martyr speaks with high commendation of this young
man. "Young Vesputius is one to whom Americus Vesputius his uncle left the
exact knowledge of the mariner's faculties, as it were by inheritance,
after his death; for he was a very expert master in the knowledge of his
carde, his compasse and the elevation of the pole starre by the
quadrant.... Vesputius is my very familiar friend, and a wittie young man,
in whose company I take great pleasure, and therefore use him oftentymes
for my guest. He hath also made many voyages into these coasts, and
diligently noted such things as he hath seen." [299]

Vespucci, the nephew, continued in this situation during the lifetime of
Fonseca, who had been the patron of his uncle and his family. He was
divested of his pay and his employ by a letter of the council, dated the
18th of March, 1525, shortly after the death of the bishop. No further
notice of Vespucci is to be found in the archives of the Indies.

Such is a brief view of the career of Amerigo Vespucci; it remains to
notice the points of controversy. Shortly after his return from his last
expedition to the Brazils, he wrote a letter dated Lisbon, 4th September,
1504, containing a summary account of all his voyages. This letter is of
special importance to the matters under investigatiod, as it is the only
one known that relates to the disputed voyage, which would establish him
as the discoverer of Terra Firma. It is presumed to have been written in
Latin, and was addressed to René, duke of Lorraine, who assumed the title
of king of Sicily and Jerusalem.

The earliest known edition of this letter was published in Latin, in 1507,
at St. Diez in Lorraine. A copy of it has been found in the library of the
Vatican (No. 9688) by the abbe Cancellieri. In preparing the present
illustration, a reprint of this letter in Latin has been consulted,
inserted in the Novus Orbis of Grinæus, published at Bath in 1532. The
letter contains a spirited narrative of four voyages which he asserts to
have made to the New World. In the prologue he excuses the liberty of
addressing king René by calling to his recollection the ancient intimacy
of their youth, when studying the rudiments of science together, under the
paternal uncle of the voyager; and adds that if the present narrative
should not altogether please his Majesty, he must plead to him as Pliny
said to Mæcenas, that he used formerly to be amused with his triflings.

In the prologue to this letter, he informs king René that affairs of
commerce had brought him to Spain, where he had experienced the various
changes of fortune attendant on such transactions, and was induced to
abandon that pursuit and direct his labors to objects of a more elevated
and stable nature. He therefore purposed to contemplate various parts of
the world, and to behold the marvels which it contains. To this object
both time and place were favorable; for king Ferdinand was then preparing
four vessels for the discovery of new lands in the west, and appointed him
among the number of those who went in the expedition. "We departed," he
adds, "from the port of Cadiz, May 20, 1497, taking our course on the
great gulf of ocean; in which voyage we employed eighteen months,
discovering many lands and innumerable islands, chiefly inhabited, of
which our ancestors make no mention."

A duplicate of this letter appears to have been sent at the same time
(written, it is said, in Italian) to Piere Soderini, afterwards
Gonfalonier of Florence, which was some years subsequently published in
Italy, not earlier than 1510, and entitled "Lettera de Amerigo Vespucci
delle Isole nuovamente trovate in quatro suoi viaggi." We have consulted
the edition of this letter in Italian, inserted in the publication of
Padre Stanislaus Canovai, already referred to.

It has been suggested by an Italian writer, that this letter was written
by Vespucci to Soderini only, and the address altered to king René through
the flattery or mistake of the Lorraine editor, without perceiving how
unsuitable the reference to former intimacy, intended for Soderini, was,
when applied to a sovereign. The person making this remark can hardly have
read the prologue to the Latin edition, in which the title of "your
majesty" is frequently repeated, and the term "illustrious king" employed.
It was first published also in Lorraine, the domains of René, and the
publisher would not probably have presumed to take such a liberty with his
sovereign's name. It becomes a question, whether Vespucci addressed the
same letter to king René and to Piere Soderini, both of them having been
educated with him, or whether he sent a copy of this letter to Soderini,
which subsequently found its way into print. The address to Soderini may
have been substituted, through mistake, by the Italian publisher. Neither
of the publications could have been made under the supervision of

The voyage specified in this letter as having taken place in 1497, is the
great point in controversy. It is strenuously asserted that no such voyage
took place; and that the first expedition of Vespucci to the coast of
Paria was in the enterprise commanded by Ojeda, in 1499. The books of the
armadas existing in the archives of the Indies at Seville, have been
diligently examined, but no record of such voyage has been found, nor any
official documents relating to it. Those most experienced in Spanish
colonial regulations insist that no command like that pretended by
Vespucci could have been given to a stranger, till he had first received
letters of naturalization from the sovereigns for the kingdom of Castile,
and he did not obtain such till 1505, when they were granted to him as
preparatory to giving him the command in conjunction with Pinzon.

His account of a voyage made by him in 1497, therefore, is alleged to be a
fabrication for the purpose of claiming the discovery of Paria; or rather
it is affirmed that he has divided the voyage which he actually made with
Ojeda, in 1499, into two; taking a number of incidents from his real
voyage, altering them a little, and enlarging them with descriptions of
the countries and people, so as to make a plausible narrative, which he
gives as a distinct voyage; and antedating his departure to 1497, so as to
make himself appear the first discoverer of Paria.

In support of this charge various coincidences have been pointed out
between his voyage said to have taken place in 1497, and that described in
his first letter to Lorenzo de Medici in 1499. These coincidences are with
respect to places visited, transactions and battles with the natives, and
the number of Indians carried to Spain and sold as slaves.

But the credibility of this voyage has been put to a stronger test. About
1508 a suit was instituted against the crown of Spain by Don Diego, son
and heir of Columbus, for the government of certain parts of Terra Firma,
and for a share in the revenue arising from them, conformably to the
capitulations made between the sovereigns and his father. It was the
object of the crown to disprove the discovery of the coast of Paria and
the pearl islands by Columbus; as it was maintained, that unless he had
discovered them, the claim of his heir with respect to them would be of no

In the course of this suit, a particular examination of witnesses took
place in 1512-13 in the fiscal court. Alonzo de Ojeda, and nearly a
hundred other persons, were interrogated on oath; that voyager having been
the first to visit the coast of Paria after Columbus had left it, and that
within a very few months. The interrogatories of these witnesses, and
their replies, are still extant, in the archives of the Indies at Seville,
in a packet of papers entitled "Papers belonging to the admiral Don Luis
Colon, about the conservation of his privileges, from ann. 1515 to 1564."
The author of the present work has two several copies of these
interrogatories lying before him. One made by the late historian Muñoz,
and the other made in 1826, and signed by Don Jose de la Higuera y Lara,
keeper of the general archives of the Indies in Seville. In the course of
this testimony, the fact that Amerigo Vespucci accompanied Ojeda in this
voyage of 1499, appears manifest, first from the deposition of Ojeda
himself. The following are the words of the record: "In this voyage which
this said witness made, he took with him Juan de la Cosa and Morego
Vespuche [Amerigo Vespucci] and other pilots." [300] Secondly, from the
coincidence of many parts of the narrative of Vespucci with events in
this voyage of Ojeda. Among these coincidences, one is particularly
striking. Vespucci, in his letter to Lorenzo de Medici, and also in that
to René or Soderini, says, that his ships, after leaving the coast of
Terra Firma, stopped at Hispaniola, where they remained about two months
and a half, procuring provisions, during which time, he adds, "we had
many perils and troubles with the very Christians who were in that
island with Columbus, and I believe through envy." [301]

Now it is well known that Ojeda passed some time on the western end of the
island victualing his ships; and that serious dissensions took place
between him and the Spaniards in those parts, and the party sent by
Columbus under Roldan to keep a watch upon his movements. If then
Vespucci, as is stated upon oath, really accompanied Ojeda in this voyage,
the inference appears almost irresistible, that he had not made the
previous voyage of 1497, for the fact would have been well known to Ojeda;
he would have considered Vespucci as the original discoverer, and would
have had no motive for depriving him of the merit of it, to give it to
Columbus, with whom Ojeda was not upon friendly terms.

Ojeda, however, expressly declares that the coast had been discovered by
Columbus. On being asked how he knew the fact, he replied, because he saw
the chart of the country discovered, which Columbus sent at the time to
the king and queen, and that he came off immediately on a voyage of
discovery, and found what was therein set down as discovered by the
admiral was correct. [302]

Another witness, Bernaldo de Haro, states that he had been with the
admiral, and had written (or rather copied) a letter for the admiral to
the king and queen, designating, in an accompanying sea-chart, the courses
and steerings and winds by which he had arrived at Paria; and that this
witness had heard that from this chart others had been made, and that
Pedro Alonzo Niño and Ojeda, and others, who had since, visited these
countries, had been guided by the same. [303]

Francisco de Molares, one of the best and most credible of all the pilots,
testified that he saw a sea-chart which Columbus had made of the coast of
Paria, _and he believed that all governed themselves by it_.

Numerous witnesses in this process testify to the fact that Paria was
first discovered by Columbus. Las Casas, who has been at the pains of
counting them, says that the fact was established by twenty-five
eye-witnesses and sixty ear-witnesses. Many of them testify also that the
coast south of Paria, and that extending west of the island of Margarita,
away to Venezuela, which Vespucci states to have been discovered by
himself, in 1497, was now first discovered by Ojeda, and had never before
been visited either by the admiral "or any other Christian whatever."

Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal says that all the voyages of discovery which
were made to the Terra Firma, were made by persons who had sailed with the
admiral, or been benefited by his instructions and directions, following
the course he had laid down;[305] and the same is testified by many other
pilots and mariners of reputation and experience.

It would be a singular circumstance, if none of these witnesses, many of
whom must have sailed in the same squadron with Vespucci along this coast
in 1499, should have known that he had discovered and explored it two
years previously. If that had really been the case, what motive could he
have for concealing the fact? and why, if they knew it, should they not
proclaim it? Vespucci states his voyage in 1497 to have been made with
four caravels; that they returned in October, 1498, and that he sailed
again with two caravels in May, 1499, (the date of Ojeda's departure.)
Many of the mariners would therefore have been present in both voyages.
Why, too, should Ojeda and the other pilots guide themselves by the charts
of Columbus, when they had a man on board so learned in nautical science,
and who, from his own recent observations, was practically acquainted with
the coast? Not a word, however, is mentioned of the voyage and discovery
of Vespucci by any of the pilots, though every other voyage and discovery
is cited; nor does there even a seaman appear who has accompanied him in
his asserted voyage.

Another strong circumstance against the reality of this voyage is, that it
was not brought forward in this trial to defeat the claims of the heirs of
Columbus. Vespucci states the voyage to have been undertaken with the
knowledge and countenance of king Ferdinand; it must, therefore, have been
avowed and notorious. Vespucci was living at Seville in 1508, at the time
of the commencement of this suit, and, for four years afterward, a
salaried servant of the crown. Many of the pilots and mariners must have
been at hand, who sailed with him in his pretended enterprise. If this
voyage had once been proved, it would completely have settled the
question, as far as concerned the coast of Paria, in favor of the crown.
Yet no testimony appears ever to have been taken from Vespucci while
living; and when the interrogatories were made in the fiscal court in
1512-13, not one of his seamen is brought up to give evidence. A voyage so
important in its nature, and so essential to the question in dispute, is
not even alluded to, while useless pains are taken to wrest evidence from
the voyage of Ojeda, undertaken at a subsequent period.

It is a circumstance worthy of notice, that Vespucci commences his first
letter to Lorenzo de Medici in 1500, within a month after his return from
the voyage he had actually made to Paria, and apologizes for his long
silence, by saying that nothing had occurred worthy of mention, ("e gran
tempo che non ho scritto à vostra magnifizensa, e non lo ha causato altra
cosa ne nessuna salvo non mi essere occorso cosa degna di memoria,") and
proceeds eagerly to tell him the wonders he had witnessed in the
expedition from which he had but just returned. It would be a singular
forgetfulness to say that nothing had occurred of importance, if he had
made a previous voyage of eighteen months in 1497-8 to this
newly-discovered world; and it would be almost equally strange that he
should not make the slightest allusion to it in this letter.

It has been the endeavor of the author to examine this question
dispassionately; and after considering the statements and arguments
advanced on either side, he cannot resist a conviction, that the voyage
stated to have been made in 1497 did not take place, and that Vespucci has
no title to the first discovery of the coast of Paria.

The question is extremely perplexing from the difficulty of assigning
sufficient motives for so gross a deception. When Vespucci wrote his
letters there was no doubt entertained but that Columbus had discovered
the main-land in his first voyage; Cuba being always considered the
extremity of Asia, until circumnavigated in 1508. Vespucci may have
supposed Brazil, Paria, and the rest of that coast, part of a distinct
continent, and have been anxious to arrogate to himself the fame of its
discovery. It has been asserted, that, on his return from his voyage to
the Brazils, he prepared a maritime chart, in which he gave his name to
that part of the mainland; but this assertion does not appear to be well
substantiated. It would rather seem that his name was given to that part
of the continent by others, as a tribute paid to his supposed merit, in
consequence of having read his own account of his voyages. [306]

It is singular that Fernando, the son of Columbus, in his biography of his
father, should bring no charge against Vespucci of endeavoring to supplant
the admiral in this discovery. Herrera has been cited as the first to
bring the accusation, in his history of the Indies, first published in
1601, and has been much criticized in consequence, by the advocates of
Vespucci, as making the charge on his mere assertion. But, in fact,
Herrera did but copy what he found written by Las Casas, who had the
proceedings of the fiscal court lying before him, and was moved to
indignation against Vespucci, by what he considered proofs of great

It has been suggested that Vespucci was instigated to this deception at
the time when he was seeking employment in the colonial service of Spain;
and that he did it to conciliate the bishop Fonseca, who was desirous of
any thing that might injure the interests of Columbus. In corroboration of
this opinion, the patronage is cited which was ever shown by Fonseca to
Vespucci and his family. This is not, however, a satisfactory reason,
since it does not appear that the bishop ever made any use of the
fabrication. Perhaps some other means might be found of accounting for
this spurious narration, without implicating the veracity of Vespucci. It
may have been the blunder of some editor, or the interpolation of some
book-maker, eager, as in the case of Trivigiani with the manuscripts of
Peter Martyr, to gather together disjointed materials, and fabricate a
work to gratify the prevalent passion of the day.

In the various editions of the letters of Vespucci, the grossest
variations and inconsistencies in dates will be found, evidently the
errors of hasty and careless publishers. Several of these have been
corrected by the modern authors who have inserted these letters in their
works. [307] The same disregard to exactness which led to these blunders,
may have produced the interpolation of this voyage, garbled out of the
letters of Vespucci and the accounts of other voyagers. This is merely
suggested as a possible mode of accounting for what appears so decidedly
to be a fabrication, yet which we are loath to attribute to a man of the
good sense, the character, and the reputed merit of Vespucci.

After all, this is a question more of curiosity than of real moment,
although it is one of those perplexing points about which grave men will
continue to write weary volumes, until the subject acquires a fictitious
importance from the mountain of controversy heaped upon it. It has become
a question of local pride with the literati of Florence; and they emulate
each other with patriotic zeal, to vindicate the fame of their
distinguished countryman. This zeal is laudable when kept within proper
limits; but it is to be regretted that some of them have so far been
heated by controversy as to become irascible against the very memory of
Columbus, and to seek to disparage his general fame, as if the ruin of it
would add any thing to the reputation of Vespucci. This is discreditable
to their discernment and their liberality; it injures their cause, and
shocks the feelings of mankind, who will not willingly see a name like
that of Columbus lightly or petulantly assailed in the course of these
literary contests. It is a name consecrated in history, and is no longer
the property of a city, or a state, or a nation, but of the whole world.

Neither should those who have a proper sense of the merit of Columbus put
any part of his great renown at issue upon this minor dispute. Whether or
not he was the discoverer of Paria, was a question of interest to his
heirs, as a share of the government and revenues of that country depended
upon it; but it is of no importance to his fame. In fact, the European who
first reached the mainland of the New World was most probably Sebastian
Cabot, a native of Venice, sailing in the employ of England. In 1497 he
coasted its shores from Labrador to Florida; yet the English have never
set up any pretensions on his account.

The glory of Columbus does not depend upon the parts of the country he
visited or the extent of coast along which he sailed; it embraces the
discovery of the whole western world. With respect to him, Vespucci is as
Yañez Pinzon, Bastides, Ojeda, Cabot, and the crowd of secondary
discoverers, who followed in his track, and explored the realms to which
he had led the way. When Columbus first touched a shore of the New World,
even though a frontier island, he had achieved his enterprises; he had
accomplished all that was necessary to his fame: the great problem of the
ocean was solved; the world which lay beyond its western waters was

No. XI.

Martin Alonzo Pinzon.

In the course of the trial in the fiscal court, between Don Diego and the
crown, an attempt was made to depreciate the merit of Columbus, and to
ascribe the success of the great enterprise of discovery to the
intelligence and spirit of Martin Alonzo Pinzon. It was the interest of
the crown to do so, to justify itself in withholding from the heirs of
Columbus the extent of his stipulated reward. The examinations of
witnesses in this trial were made at various times and places, and upon a
set of interrogatories formally drawn up by order of the fiscal. They took
place upwards of twenty years after the first voyage of Columbus, and the
witnesses testified from recollection.

In reply to one of the interrogatories, Arias Perez Pinzon, son of Martin
Alonzo, declared, that, being once in Rome with his father on commercial
affairs, before the time of the discovery, they had frequent conversations
with a person learned in cosmography who was in the service of Pope
Innocent VIII, and that being in the library of the pope, this person
showed them many manuscripts, from one of which his father gathered
intimation of these new lands; for there was a passage by an historian as
old as the time of Solomon, which said, "Navigate the Mediterranean Sea to
the end of Spain and thence towards the setting sun, in a direction
between north and south, until ninety-five degrees of longitude, and you
will find the land of Cipango, fertile and abundant, and equal in
greatness to Africa and Europe." A copy of this writing, he added, his
father brought from Rome with an intention of going in search of that
land, and frequently expressed such determination; and that, when Columbus
came to Palos with his project of discovery, Martin Alonzo Pinzon showed
him the manuscript, and ultimately gave it to him just before they sailed.

It is extremely probable that this manuscript, of which Arias Perez gives
so vague an account from recollection, but which he appears to think the
main thing that prompted Columbus to his undertaking, was no other than
the work of Marco Polo, which, at that time, existed in manuscript in most
of the Italian libraries. Martin Alonzo was evidently acquainted with the
work of the Venetian, and it would appear, from various circumstances,
that Columbus had a copy of it with him in his voyages, which may have
been the manuscript above mentioned. Columbus had long before, however,
had a knowledge of the work, if not by actual inspection, at least through
his correspondence with Toscanelli in 1474, and had derived from it all
the light it was capable of furnishing, before he ever came to Palos. It
is questionable, also, whether the visit of Martin Alonzo to Rome, was not
after his mind had been heated by conversations with Columbus in the
convent of La Rabida. The testimony of Arias Perez is so worded as to
leave it in doubt whether the visit was not in the very year prior to the
discovery: "fue el dicho su padre á Roma aquel dicho año antes que fuese a
descubrir." Arias Perez always mentions the manuscript as having been
imparted to Columbus, after he had come to Palos with an intention of
proceeding on the discovery.

Certain witnesses who were examined on behalf of the crown, and to whom
specific interrogatories were put, asserted, as has already been mentioned
in a note to this work, that had it not been for Martin Alonzo Pinzon and
his brothers, Columbus would have turned back for Spain, after having run
seven or eight hundred leagues; being disheartened at not finding land,
and dismayed by the mutiny and menaces of his crew. This is stated by two
or three as from personal knowledge, and by others from hearsay. It is
said especially to have occurred on the 6th of October. On this day,
according to the journal of Columbus, he had some conversation with Martin
Alonzo, who was anxious that they should stand more to the southwest. The
admiral refused to do so, and it is very probable that some angry words
may have passed between them. Various disputes appear to have taken place
between Columbus and his colleagues respecting their route, previous to
the discovery of land; in one or two instances he acceded to their wishes,
and altered his course, but in general he was inflexible in standing to
the west. The Pinzons also, in all probability, exerted their influence in
quelling the murmurs of their townsmen and encouraging them to proceed,
when ready to rebel against Columbus. These circumstances may have become
mixed up in the vague recollections of the seamen who gave the foregoing
extravagant testimony, and who were evidently disposed to exalt the merits
of the Pinzons at the expense of Columbus. They were in some measure
prompted also in their replies by the written interrogatories put by order
of the fiscal, which specified the conversations said to have passed
between Columbus and the Pizons, and notwithstanding these guides, they
differed widely in their statements, and ran into many absurdities. In a
manuscript record in possession of the Pinzon family, I have even read the
assertion of an old seaman, that Columbus, in his eagerness to compel the
Pinzons to turn back to Spain, _fired upon_ _their ships_, but,
they continuing on, he was obliged to follow, and within two days
afterwards discovered the island of Hispaniola.

It is evident the old sailor, if he really spoke conscientiously, mingled
in his cloudy remembrance the disputes in the early part of the voyage
about altering their course to the southwest, and the desertion of Martin
Alonzo, subsequent to the discovery of the Lucayos and Cuba, when after
parting company with the admiral, he made the island of Hispaniola.

The witness most to be depended upon as to these points of inquiry is the
physician of Palos, Garcia Fernandez, a man of education, who sailed with
Martin Alonzo Pinzon as steward of his ship, and of course was present at
all the conversations which passed between the commanders. He testifies
that Martin Alonzo urged Columbus to stand more to the southwest, and that
the admiral at length complied, but, finding no land in that direction,
they turned again to the west; a statement which completely coincides
with the journal of Columbus. He adds that the admiral continually
comforted and animated Martin Alonzo, and all others in his company.
(Siempre los consolaba el dicho Almirante esforzandolos al dicho Martin
Alonzo e â todos los que en su compania iban.) When the physician was
specifically questioned as to the conversations pretended to have passed
between the commanders, in which Columbus expressed a desire to turn back
to Spain, he referred to the preceding statement, as the only answer he
had to make to these interrogatories.

The extravagant testimony before mentioned appears never to have had any
weight with the fiscal; and the accurate historian Muñoz, who extracted
all these points of evidence from the papers of the lawsuit, has not
deemed them worthy of mention in his work. As these matters, however,
remain on record in the archives of the Indies, and in the archives of the
Pinzon family, in both of which I have had a full opportunity of
inspecting them, I have thought it advisable to make these few
observations on the subject; lest, in the rage for research, they might
hereafter be drawn forth as a new discovery, on the strength of which to
impugn the merits of Columbus.

No. XII.

Rumor of the Pilot Said to Have Died in the House of Columbus.

Among the various attempts to injure Columbus by those who were envious of
his fame, was one intended to destroy all his merit as an original
discoverer. It was said that he had received information of the existence
of land in the western parts of the ocean from a tempest-tossed pilot, who
had been driven there by violent easterly winds, and who on his return to
Europe, had died in the house of Columbus, leaving in his possession the
chart and journal of his voyage, by which he was guided to his discovery.

This story was first noticed by Oviedo, a contemporary of Columbus, in his
history of the Indies, published in 1535. He mentions it as a rumor
circulating among the vulgar, without foundation in truth.

Fernando Lopez de Gomara first brought it forward against Columbus. In his
history of the Indies, published in 1552, he repeats the rumor in the
vaguest terms, manifestly from Oviedo, but without the contradiction given
to it by that author. He says that the name and country of the pilot were
unknown, some terming him an Andalusian, sailing between the Canaries and
Madeira, others a Biscayan, trading to England and France; and others a
Portuguese, voyaging between Lisbon and Mina, on the coast of Guinea. He
expresses equal uncertainty whether the pilot brought the caravel to
Portugal, to Madeira, or to one of the Azores. The only point on which the
circulators of the rumor agreed was, that he died in the house of
Columbus. Gomara adds that by this event Columbus was led to undertake his
voyage to the new countries. [308]

The other early historians who mention Columbus and his voyages, and were
his contemporaries, viz. Sabellicus, Peter Martyr, Giustiniani, Bernaldez,
commonly called the curate of los Palacios, Las Casas, Fernando, the son
of the admiral, and the anonymous author of a voyage of Columbus,
translated from the Italian into Latin by Madrignano, [309] are all silent
in regard to this report.

Benzoni, whose history of the New World was published in 1565, repeats the
story from Gomara, with whom he was contemporary; but decidedly expresses
his opinion, that Gomara had mingled up much falsehood with some truth,
for the purpose of detracting from the fame of Columbus, through jealousy
that any one but a Spaniard should enjoy the honor of the discovery.

Acosta notices the circumstance slightly in his Natural and Moral History
of the Indies, published in 1591, and takes it evidently from Gomara.

Mariana, in his history of Spain, published in 1592, also mentions it, but
expresses a doubt of its truth, and derives his information manifestly
from Gomara. [312]

Herrera, who published his history of the Indies in 1601, takes no notice
of the story. In not noticing it, he may be considered as rejecting it;
for he is distinguished for his minuteness, and was well acquainted with
Gomara's history, which he expressly contradicts on a point of
considerable interest. [313]

Garcilasso de la Vega, a native of Cusco in Peru, revived the tale with
very minute particulars, in his Commentaries of the Incas, published in
1609. He tells it smoothly and circumstantially; fixes the date of the
occurrence 1484, "one year more or less;" states the name of the
unfortunate pilot, Alonzo Sanchez de Huelva; the destination of his
vessel, from the Canaries to Madeira; and the unknown land to which they
were driven, the island of Hispaniola. The pilot, he says, landed, took an
altitude, and wrote an account of all he saw, and all that had occurred in
the voyage. He then took in wood and water, and set out to seek his way
home. He succeeded in returning, but the voyage was long and tempestuous,
and twelve died of hunger and fatigue, out of seventeen, the original
number of the crew. The five survivors arrived at Tercera, where they were
hospitably entertained by Columbus, but all died in his house in
consequence of the hardships they had sustained; the pilot was the last
that died, leaving his host heir to his papers. Columbus kept them
profoundly secret, and by pursuing the route therein prescribed, obtained
the credit of discovering the New World. [314]

Such are the material points of the circumstantial relation furnished by
Garcilasso de la Vega, one hundred and twenty years after the event. In
regard to authority, he recollects to have heard the story when he was a
child, as a subject of conversation between his father and the neighbors,
and he refers to the histories of the Indies, by Acosta and Gomara, for
confirmation. As the conversations to which he listened must have taken
place sixty or seventy years after the date of the report, there had been
sufficient time for the vague rumors to become arranged into a regular
narrative, and thus we have not only the name, country, and destination of
the pilot, but also the name of the unknown land to which his vessel was

This account, given by Garcilasso de la Vega, has been adopted by many old
historians, who have felt a confidence in the peremptory manner in which
he relates it, and in the authorities to whom he refers. [315]
These have been echoed by others of more recent date; and thus a weighty
charge of fraud and imposture has been accumulated against Columbus,
apparently supported by a crowd of respectable accusers. The whole charge
is to be traced to Gomara, who loosely repeated a vague rumor, without
noticing the pointed contradiction given to it seventeen years before, by
Oviedo, an ear-witness, from whose book he appears to have actually
gathered the report.

It is to be remarked that Goinara bears the character, among historians,
of inaccuracy, and of great credulity in adopting unfounded stories.

It is unnecessary to give further refutation to this charge, especially as
it is clear that Columbus communicated his idea of discovery to Paulo
Toscanelli of Florence, in 1474, ten years previous to the date assigned
by Garcilasso de la Vega for this occurrence.


Martin Behem.

This able geographer was born in Nuremburg, in Germany, about the
commencement of the year 1430. His ancestors were from the circle of
Pilsner, in Bohemia, hence he is called by some writers Martin of Bohemia,
and the resemblance of his own name to that of the country of his
ancestors frequently occasions a confusion in the appellation.

It has been said by some that he studied under Philip Bervalde the elder,
and by others under John Muller, otherwise called Regiomontanus, though De
Murr, who has made diligent inquiry into his history, discredits both
assertions. According to a correspondence between Behem and his uncle
discovered of late years by De Murr, it appears that the early part of his
life was devoted to commerce. Some have given him the credit of
discovering the island of Fayal, but this is an error, arising probably
from the circumstance that Job de Huertar, father-in-law of Behem,
colonized that island in 1466.

He is supposed to have arrived at Portugal in 1481, while Alphonso V was
still on the throne; it is certain that shortly afterwards he was in high
repute for his science in the court of Lisbon, insomuch that he was one of
the council appointed by king John II to improve the art of navigation,
and by some he has received the whole credit of the memorable service
rendered to commerce by that council, in the introduction of the astrolabe
into nautical use.

In 1484 king John sent an expedition under Diego Cam, as Barros calls him,
Cano according to others, to prosecute discoveries along the coast of
Africa. In this expedition Behem sailed as cosmographer. They crossed the
equinoctial line, discovered the coast of Congo, advanced to twenty-two
degrees forty-five minutes of south latitude, [317] and erected two
columns, on which were engraved the arms of Portugal, in the mouth of the
river Zagra, in Africa, which thence, for some time, took the name of the
River of Columns. [318]

For the services rendered on this and on previous occasions, it is said
that Behem was knighted by king John in 1485, though no mention is made of
such a circumstance in any of the contemporary historians. The principal
proof of his having received this mark of distinction, is his having given
himself the title on his own globe of _Eques Lusitanus_.

In 1486 he married at Fayal the daughter of Job de Huerter, and is
supposed to have remained there for some few years, where he had a son
named Martin, born in 1489. During his residence at Lisbon and Fayal, it
is probable the acquaintance took place between him and Columbus, to which
Herrera and others allude; and the admiral may have heard from him some of
the rumors circulating in the islands, of indications of western lands
floating to their shores.

In 1491 he returned to Nuremburg to see his family, and while there, in
1492, he finished a terrestrial globe, considered a masterpiece in those
days, which he had undertaken at the request of the principal magistrates
of his native city.

In 1493 he returned to Portugal, and from thence proceeded to Fayal.

In 1494 king John II, who had a high opinion of him, sent him to Flanders
to his natural son prince George, the intended heir of his crown. In the
course of his voyage Behem was captured and carried to England, where he
remained for three months detained by illness. Having recovered, he again
put to sea, but was captured by a corsair and carried to France. Having
ransomed himself, he proceeded to Antwerp and Bruges, but returned almost
immediately to Portugal. Nothing more is known of him for several years,
during which time it is supposed he remained with his family in Fayal, too
old to make further voyages. In 1506 he went from Fayal to Lisbon, where
he died.

The assertion that Behem had discovered the western world previous to
Columbus, in the course of the voyage with Cam, was founded on a
misinterpretation of a passage interpolated in the chronicle of Hartmann
Schedel, a contemporary writer. This passage mentions, that when the
voyagers were in the Southern Ocean not far from the coast, and had passed
the line, they came into another hemisphere, where, when they looked
towards the east, their shadows fell towards the south, on their right
hand; that here they discovered a new world, unknown until then, and which
for many years had never been sought except by the Genoese, and by them

"Hii duo, bono deorum auspicio, mare meridionale sulcantes, a littore non
longe evagantes, superato circulo equinoctiali, in alterum orbem excepti
stint. Ubi ipsis stantibus orientem versus, umbra ad meridiem et dextram
projiciebatur. Aperuêre igitur sua industria, alium orbem hactenus nobis
incognitum et multis annis, a nullis quam Januensibus, licet frustra

These lines are part of a passage which it is said is interpolated by a
different hand, in the original manuscript of the chronicle of Schedel. De
Murr assures us that they are not to be found in the German translation of
the book by George Alt, which was finished the 5th October, 1493. But even
if they were, they relate merely to the discovery which Diego Cam made of
the southern hemisphere, previously unknown, and of the coast of Africa
beyond the equator, all which appeared like a new world, and as such was
talked of at the time.

The Genoese alluded to, who had made an unsuccessful attempt were Antonio
de Nolle with Bartholomeo his brother, and Raphael de Nolle his nephew.
Antonio was of a noble family, and, for some disgust, left his country and
went to Lisbon with his before-mentioned relatives in two caravels;
sailing whence in the employ of Portugal, they discovered the island of
St. Jago, &c. [319]

This interpolated passage of Schedel was likewise inserted into the work
De Europa sub Frederico III of Æneas Silvius, afterwards Pope Pius II,
who died in 1464, long before the voyage in question. The
misinterpretation of the passage first gave rise to the incorrect
assertion that Behem had discovered the New World prior to Columbus; as if
it were possible such a circumstance could have happened without Behem's
laying claim to the glory of the discovery, and without the world
immediately resounding with so important an event. This error had been
adopted by various authors without due examination, some of whom had
likewise taken from Magellan the credit of having discovered the strait
which goes by his name, and had given it to Behem. The error was too
palpable to be generally prevalent, but was suddenly revived in the year
1786 by a French gentleman of highly respectable character of the name of
Otto, then resident in New York, who addressed a letter to Dr. Franklin,
to be submitted to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, in which he
undertook to establish the title of Behem to the discovery of the New
World. His memoir was published in the Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society, vol. ii., for 1786, article No. 35, and has been
copied into the journals of most of the nations of Europe.

The authorities cited by M. Otto in support of his assertion are generally
fallacious, and for the most part given without particular specification.
His assertion has been diligently and satisfactorily refuted by Don
Christoval Cladera. [320]

The grand proof of M. Otto is a globe which Behem made during his
residence in Nuremburg, in 1492, the very year that Columbus set out on
his first voyage of discovery. This globe, according to M. Otto, is still
preserved in the library of Nuremburg, and on it are painted all the
discoveries of Behem, which are so situated that they can be no other than
the coast of Brazil and the straits of Magellan. This authority staggered
many, and, if supported, would demolish the claims of Columbus.

Unluckily for M. Otto, in his description of the globe, he depended on the
inspection of a correspondent. The globe in the library of Nuremburg was
made in 1520, by John Schoener, professor of mathematics, [321] long after
the discoveries and death of Columbus and Behem. The real globe of Behem,
made in 1492, does not contain any of the islands or shores of the New
World, and thus proves that he was totally unacquainted with them. A copy,
or planisphere, of Behem's globe is given by Cladera in his

No. XIV.

Voyages of the Scandinavians.

Many elaborate dissertations have been written to prove that discoveries
were made by the Scandinavians on the northern coast of America long
before the era of Columbus; but the subject appears still to be wrapped in
much doubt and obscurity.

It has been asserted that the Norwegians, as early as the ninth century,
discovered a great tract of land to the west of Iceland, which they called
Grand Iceland; but this has been pronounced a fabulous tradition. The most
plausible account is one given by Snorro Sturleson, in his Saga or
Chronicle of King Olaus. According to this writer, one Biorn of Iceland,
sailing to Greenland in search of his father, from whom he had been
separated by a storm, was driven by tempestuous weather far to the
southwest, until he came in sight of a low country, covered with wood,
with an island in its vicinity. The weather becoming favorable, he turned
to the northeast without landing, and arrived safe at Greenland. His
account of the country he had beheld, it is said, excited the enterprise
of Leif, son of Eric Rauda (or Redhead), the first settler of Greenland. A
vessel was fitted out, and Leif and Biorn departed alone in quest of this
unknown land. They found a rocky and sterile island, to which they gave
the name of Helleland; also a low sandy country covered with wood, to
which they gave the name of Markland; and, two days afterwards, they
observed a continuance of the coast, with an island to the north of it.
This last they described as fertile, well wooded, producing agreeable
fruits, and particularly grapes, a fruit with which they were
unacquainted. On being informed by one of their companions, a German, of
its qualities and name, they called the country, from it, Vinland. They
ascended a river, well stored with fish, particularly salmon, and came to
a lake from which the river took its origin, where they passed the winter.
The climate appeared to them mild and pleasant; being accustomed to the
rigorous climates of the north. On the shortest day, the sun was eight
hours above the horizon. Hence it has been concluded that the country was
about the 49th degree of north latitude, and was either Newfoundland, or
some part of the coast of North America, about the Gulf of St.
Lawrence. [322] It is added that the relatives of Leif made several
voyages to Vinland; that they traded with the natives for furs; and that,
in 1121, a bishop named Eric went from Greenland to Vinland to convert
the inhabitants to Christianity. From this time, says Forster, we know
nothing of Vinland, and there is every appearance that the tribe which
still exists in the interior of Newfoundland, and which is so different
from the other savages of North America, both in their appearance and
mode of living, and always in a state of warfare with the Esquimaux of
the northern coast, are descendants of the ancient Normans.

The author of the present work has not had the means of tracing this story
to its original sources. He gives it on the authority of M. Malte-Brun,
and Mr. Forster. The latter extracts it from the Saga or Chronicle of
Snorro, who was born in 1179, and wrote in 1215; so that his account was
formed long after the event is said to have taken place. Forster says,
"The facts which we report have been collected from a great number of
Icelandic manuscripts, and transmitted to us by Torfreus in his two works
entitled Veleris Groenlandiae Descriptio, Hafnia, 1706, and Historia
Winlandiae Antiquae, Hafnia, 1705." Forster appears to have no doubt of
the authenticity of the facts. As far as the author of the present work
has had experience in tracing these stories of early discoveries of
portions of the New World, he has generally found them very confident
deductions drawn from very vague and questionable facts. Learned men are
too prone to give substance to mere shadows, when they assist some
reconceived theory. Most of these accounts, when divested of the erudite
comments of their editors, have proved little better than the traditionary
fables, noticed in another part of this work, respecting the imaginary
islands of St. Borondon, and of the Seven Cities.

There is no great improbability, however, that such enterprising and
roving voyagers as the Scandinavians, may have wandered to the northern
shores of America, about the coast of Labrador, or the shores of
Newfoundland; and if the Icelandic manuscripts said to be of the
thirteenth century can be relied upon as genuine, free from modern
interpolation, and correctly quoted, they would appear to prove the fact.
But granting the truth of the alleged discoveries, they led to no more
result than would the interchange of communication between the natives of
Greenland and the Esquimaux. The knowledge of them appears not to have
extended beyond their own nation, and to have been soon neglected and
forgotten by themselves.

Another pretension to an early discovery of the American continent has
been set up, founded on an alleged map and narrative of two brothers of
the name of Zeno, of Venice; but it seems more invalid than those just
mentioned. The following is the substance of this claim.

Nicolo Zeno, a noble Venetian, is said to have made a voyage to the north
in 1380, in a vessel fitted out at his own cost, intending to visit
England and Flanders; but meeting with a terrible tempest, was driven for
many days he knew not whither, until he was cast away upon Friseland, an
island much in dispute among geographers, but supposed to be the
archipelago of the Ferroe islands. The shipwrecked voyagers were assailed
by the natives; but rescued by Zichmni, a prince of the islands, lying on
the south side of Friseland, and duke of another district lying over
against Scotland. Zeno entered into the service of this prince, and aided
him in conquering Friseland, and other northern islands. He was soon
joined by his brother Antonio Zeno, who remained fourteen years in those

During his residence in Friseland, Antonio Zeno wrote to his brother
Carlo, in Venice, giving an account of a report brought by a certain
fisherman, about a land to the westward. According to the tale of this
mariner, he had been one of a party who sailed from Friseland about
twenty-six years before, in four fishing-boats. Being overtaken by a
mighty tempest, they were driven about the sea for many days, until the
boat containing himself and six companions was cast upon an island called
Estotiland, about one thousand miles from Friseland. They were taken by
the inhabitants, and carried to a fair and populous city, where the king
sent for many interpreters to converse with them, but none that they could
understand, until a man was found who had likewise been cast away upon the
coast, and who spoke Latin. They remained several days upon the island,
which was rich and fruitful, abounding with all kinds of metals, and
especially gold. [323] There was a high mountain in the centre, from which
flowed four rivers which watered the whole country. The inhabitants were
intelligent and acquainted with the mechanical arts of Europe. They
cultivated grain, made beer, and lived in houses built of stone. There
were Latin books in the king's library, though the inhabitants had no
knowledge of that language. They had many cities and castles, and carried
on a trade with Greenland for pitch, sulphur, and peltry. Though much
given to navigation, they were ignorant of the use of the compass, and
finding the Friselanders acquainted with it, held them in great esteem;
and the king sent them with twelve barks to visit a country to the south,
called Drogeo. They had nearly perished in a storm, but were cast away
upon the coast of Drogeo. They found the people to be cannibals, and were
on the point of being killed and devoured, but were spared on account of
their great skill in fishing.

The fisherman described this Drogeo as being a country of vast extent, or
rather a new world; that the inhabitants were naked and barbarous; but
that far to the southwest there was a more civilized region, and temperate
climate, where the inhabitants had a knowledge of gold and silver, lived
in cities, erected splendid temples to idols, and sacrificed human victims
to them, which they afterwards devoured.

After the fisherman had resided many years on this continent, during which
time he had passed from the service of one chieftain to another, and
traversed various parts of it, certain boats of Estotiland arrived on the
coast of Drogeo. The fisherman went on board of them, acted as
interpreter, and followed the trade between the main-land and Estotiland
for some time, until he became very rich: then he fitted out a bark of his
own, and with the assistance of some of the people of the island, made his
way back, across the thousand intervening miles of ocean, and arrived safe
at Friseland. The account he gave of these countries, determined Zichmni,
the prince of Friseland, to send an expedition thither, and Antonio Zeno
was to command it. Just before sailing, the fisherman, who was to have
acted as guide, died; but certain mariners, who had accompanied him from
Estotiland, were taken in his place. The expedition sailed under command
of Zichmni; the Venetian, Zeno, merely accompanied it. It was
unsuccessful. After having discovered an island called Icaria, where they
met with a rough reception from the inhabitants, and were obliged to
withdraw, the ships were driven by a storm to Greenland. No record remains
of any further prosecution of the enterprise.

The countries mentioned in the account of Zeno, were laid down on a map
originally engraved on wood. The island of Estotiland has been supposed by
M. Malte-Brun to be Newfoundland; its partially civilized inhabitants the
descendants of the Scandinavian colonists of Vinland; and the Latin books
in the king's library to be the remains of the library of the Greenland
bishop, who emigrated thither in 1121. Drogeo, according to the same
conjecture, was Nova Scotia and New England. The civilized people to the
southwest, who sacrificed human victims in rich temples, he surmises to
have been the Mexicans, or some ancient nation of Florida or Louisiana.

The premises do not appear to warrant this deduction. The whole story
abounds with improbabilities; not the least of which is the civilization
prevalent among the inhabitants; their houses of stone, their European
arts, the library of their king; no traces of which were to be found on
their subsequent discovery. Not to mention the information about Mexico
penetrating through the numerous savage tribes of a vast continent. It is
proper to observe that this account was not published until 1558, long
after the discovery of Mexico. It was given to the world by Francisco
Marcolini, a descendant of the Zeni, from the fragments of letters said to
have been written by Antonio Zeno to Carlo his brother. "It grieves me,"
says the editor, "that the book, and divers other writings concerning
these matters, are miserably lost; for being but a child when they came to
my hands, and not knowing what they were, I tore them and rent them in
pieces, which now I cannot call to remembrance but to my exceeding great
grief." [324]

This garbled statement by Marcolini derived considerable authority by
being introduced by Abraham Ortelius, an able geographer, in his Theatrum
Orbis; but the whole story has been condemned by able commentators as a
gross fabrication. Mr. Forster resents this, as an instance of obstinate
incredulity, saying that it is impossible to doubt the existence of the
country of which Carlo, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno talk; as original acts in
the archives of Venice prove that the chevalier undertook a voyage to the
north; that his brother Antonio followed him; that Antonio traced a map,
which he brought back and hung up in his house, where it remained subject
to public examination, until the time of Marcolini, as an incontestable
proof of the truth of what he advanced. Granting all this, it merely
proves that Antonio and his brother were at Friseland and Greenland. Their
letters never assert that Zeno made the voyage to Estotiland. The fleet
was carried by a tempest to Greenland, after which we hear no more of him;
and his account of Estotiland and Drogeo rests simply on the tale of the
fisherman, after whose descriptions his map must have been conjecturally
projected. The whole story resembles much the fables circulated shortly
after the discovery of Columbus, to arrogate to other nations and
individuals the credit of the achievement.

M. Malte-Brun intimates that the alleged discovery of Vinland may have
been known to Columbus when he made a voyage in the North Sea in
1477,[325] and that the map of Zeno, being in the national library at
London, in a Danish work, at the time when Bartholomew Columbus was in
that city, employed in making maps, he may have known something of it,
and have communicated it to his brother. [326] Had M. Malte-Brun examined
the history of Columbus with his usual accuracy, he would have perceived,
that, in his correspondence with Paulo Toscanelli in 1474, he had
expressed his intention of seeking India by a route directly to the west.
His voyage to the north did not take place until three years afterwards.
As to the residence of Bartholomew in London, it was not until after
Columbus had made his propositions of discovery to Portugal, if not to the
courts of other powers. Granting, therefore, that he had subsequently
heard the dubious stories of Vinland, and of the fisherman's adventures,
as related by Zeno, or at least by Marcolini, they evidently could not
have influenced him in his great enterprise. His route had no reference to
them, but was a direct western course, not toward Vinland, and Estotiland,
and Drogeo, but in search of Cipango, and Cathay, and the other countries
described by Marco Polo, as lying at the extremity of India.

No. XV.

Circumnavigation of Africa by the Ancients.

The knowledge of the ancients with respect to the Atlantic coast of Africa
is considered by modern investigators much less extensive than had been
imagined; and it is doubted whether they had any practical authority for
the belief that Africa was circumnavigable. The alleged voyage of Endoxns
of Cyzicus, from the Red Sea to Gibraltar, though recorded by Pliny,
Pomponius Mela, and others, is given entirely on the assertion of
Cornelius Nepos, who does not tell from whence he derived his information.
Posidonius (cited by Strabo) gives an entirely different account of this
voyage, and rejects it with contempt. [327]

The famous voyage of Hanno, the Carthaginian, is supposed to have taken
place about a thousand years before the Christian era. The Periplus
Hannonis remains, a brief and obscure record of this expedition, and a
subject of great comment and controversy. By some it has been pronounced a
fictitious work, fabricated among the Greeks, but its authenticity has
been ably vindicated. It appears to be satisfactorily proved, however,
that the voyage of this navigator has been greatly exaggerated, and that
he never circumnavigated the extreme end of Africa. Mons. de Bougainville
[328] traces his route to a promontory which he named the West Horn,
supposed to be Cape Palmas, about five or six degrees north of the
equinoctial line, whence he proceeded to another promontory, under the
same parallel, which he called the South Horn, supposed to be Cape de Tres
Puntas. Mons. Gosselin, however, in his Researches into the Geography of
the Ancients (Tome 1, p. 162, etc.), after a rigid examination of the
Periplus of Hanno, determines that he had not sailed farther south than
Cape Non. Pliny, who makes Hanno range the whole coast of Africa, from
the straits to the confines of Arabia, had never seen his Periplus, but
took his idea from the works of Xenophon of Lampsaco. The Greeks
surcharged the narration of the voyager with all kinds of fables, and on
their unfaithful copies Strabo founded many of his assertions. According
to M. Gosselin, the itineraries of Hanno, of Scylax, Polybius, Statius,
Sebosus, and Juba; the recitals of Plato, of Aristotle, of Pliny, of
Plutarch, and the tables of Ptolemy, all bring us to the same results,
and, notwithstanding their apparent contradictions, fix the limit of
southern navigation about the neighborhood of Cape Non, or Cape Bojador.

The opinion that Africa was a peninsula, which existed among the Persians,
the Egyptians, and perhaps the Greeks, several centuries prior to the
Christian era, was not, in his opinion, founded upon any known facts; but
merely on conjecture, from considering the immensity and unity of the
ocean; or perhaps on more ancient traditions; or on ideas produced by the
Carthaginian discoveries, beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, and those of
the Egyptians beyond the Gulf of Arabia. He thinks that there was a very
remote period when geography was much more perfect than in the time of the
Phenicians and the Greeks, whose knowledge was but confused traces of what
had previously been better known.

The opinion that the Indian Sea joined the ocean was admitted among the
Greeks, and in the school of Alexandria, until the time of Hipparchus. It
seemed authorized by the direction which the coast of Africa took after
Cape Aromata, always tending westward, as far as it had been explored by

It was supposed that the western coast of Africa rounded off to meet the
eastern, and that the whole was bounded by the ocean, much to the
northward of the equator. Such was the opinion of Crates, who lived in the
time of Alexander; of Aratus, of Cleanthes, of Cleomedes, of Strabo, of
Pomponius Mela, of Macrobius, and many others.

Hipparchus proposed a different system, and led the world into an error,
which for a long time retarded the maritime communication of Europe and
India. He supposed that the seas were separated into distinct basins, and
that the eastern shores of Africa made a circuit round the Indian Sea, so
as to join those of Asia beyond the mouth of the Ganges. Subsequent
discoveries, instead of refuting this error, only placed the junction of
the continents at a greater distance. Marinus of Tyre, and Ptolemy,
adopted this opinion in their works, and illustrated it in their maps,
which for centuries controlled the general belief of mankind, and
perpetuated the idea that Africa extended onward to the south pole, and
that it was impossible to arrive by sea at the coasts of India. Still
there were geographers who leaned to the more ancient idea of a
communication between the Indian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It had its
advocates in Spain, and was maintained by Pomponius Mela and by Isidore of
Seville. It was believed also by some of the learned in Italy, in the
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries; and thus was kept alive
until it was acted upon so vigorously by Prince Henry of Portugal, and at
length triumphantly demonstrated by Vasco de Gama, in his circumnavigation
of the Cape of Good Hope.

No. XVI.

Of the Ships of Columbus.

In remarking on the smallness of the vessels with which Columbus made his
first voyage, Dr. Bobertson observes, that, "in the fifteenth century, the
bulk and construction of vessels were accommodated to the short and easy
voyages along the coast, which they were accustomed to perform." We have
many proofs, however, that even anterior to the fifteenth century, there
were large ships employed by the Spaniards, as well as by other nations.
In an edict published in Barcelona, in 1354, by Pedro IV, enforcing
various regulations for the security of commerce, mention is made of
Catalonian merchant ships of two and three decks and from 8000 to 12,000
quintals burden.

In 1419, Alonzo of Aragon hired several merchant ships to transport
artillery, horses, etc., from Barcelona to Italy, among which were two,
each carrying one hundred and twenty horses, which it is computed would
require a vessel of at least 600 tons.

In 1463, mention is made of a Venetian ship of 700 tons which arrived at
Barcelona from England, laden with wheat.

In 1497, a Castilian vessel arrived there being of 12,000 quintals burden.
These arrivals, incidentally mentioned among others of similar size, as
happening at one port, show that large ships were in use in those days.
[329] Indeed, at the time of fitting out the second expedition of
Columbus, there were prepared in the port of Bermeo, a Caracca of 1250
tons, and four ships, of from 150 to 450 tons burden. Their destination,
however, was altered, and they were sent to convoy Muley Boabdil, the last
Moorish king of Granada, from the coast of his conquered territory to
Africa. [330]

It was not for want of large vessels in the Spanish ports, therefore, that
those of Columbus were of so small a size. He considered them best adapted
to voyages of discovery, as they required but little depth of water, and
therefore could more easily and safely coast unknown shores, and explore
bays and rivers. He had some purposely constructed of a very small size
for this service; such was the caravel, which in his third voyage he
dispatched to look out for an opening to the sea at the upper part of the
Gulf of Paria, when the water grew too shallow for his vessel of one
hundred tons burden.

The most singular circumstance with respect to the ships of Columbus is
that they should be open vessels; for it seems difficult to believe that a
voyage of such extent and peril should be attempted in barks of so frail a
construction. This, however, is expressly mentioned by Peter Martyr, in
his Decades written at the time; and mention is made occasionally, in the
memoirs relative to the voyages written by Columbus and his son, of
certain of his vessels being without decks. He sometimes speaks of the
same vessel as a ship, and a caravel. There has been some discussion of
late as to the precise meaning of the term caravel. The Chevalier Bossi,
in his dissertations on Columbus, observes, that in the Mediterranean,
caravel designates the largest class of ships of war among the Mussulmans,
and that in Portugal, it means a small vessel of from 120 to 140 tons
burden; but Columbus sometimes applies it to a vessel of forty tons.

Du Cange, in his glossary, considers it a word of Italian origin. Bossi
thinks it either Turkish or Arabic, and probably introduced into the
European languages by the Moors. Mr. Edward Everett, in a note to his
Plymouth oration, considers that the true origin of the word is given in
"Ferrarii Origines Linguæ Italicæ," as follows: "Caravela, navigii
minoris genus. Lat. Carabus: Grsece Karabron."

That the word caravel was intended to signify a vessel of a small size is
evident from a naval classification made by king Alonzo in the middle of
the thirteenth century. In the first class he enumerates Naos, or large
ships which go only with sails, some of which have two masts, and others
but one. In the second class smaller vessels, as Carracas, Fustas,
Ballenares, Pinazas, Carabelas, &c. In the third class vessels with sails
and oars, as Galleys, Galeots, Tardantes, and Saetias. [331]

Bossi gives a copy of a letter written by Columbus to Don Raphael Xansis,
treasurer of the king of Spain; an edition of whicli exists in the public
library at Milan. With this letter he gives several woodcuts of sketches
made with a pen, which accompanied this letter, and which he supposes to
have been from the hand of Columbus. In these are represented vessels
which are probably caravels. They have high bows and sterns, with castles
on the latter. They have short masts with large square sails. One of them,
besides sails, has benches of oars, and is probably intended to represent
a galley. They are all evidently vessels of small size, and light

In a work called "Kecherches sur le Commerce," published in Amsterdam,
1779, is a plate representing a vessel of the latter part of the fifteenth
century. It is taken from a picture in the church of St. Giovanni e Paolo
in Venice. The vessel bears much resemblance to those said to have been
sketched by Columbus; it has two masts, one of which is extremely small
with a latine sail. The mainmast has a large square sail. The vessel has a
high poop and prow, is decked at each end, and is open in the centre.

It appears to be the fact, therefore, that most of the vessels with which
Columbus undertook his long and perilous voyages, were of this light and
frail construction; and little superior to the small craft which ply on
rivers and along coasts in modern days.


Route of Columbus in His First Voyage.


It has hitherto been supposed that one of the Bahama Islands, at present
bearing the name of San Salvador, and which is also known as Cat Island,
was the first point where Columbus came in contact with the New World.
Navarrete, however, in his introduction to the "Collection of Spanish
Voyages and Discoveries," recently published at Madrid, has endeavored to
show that it must have been Turk's Island, one of the same group, situated
about 100 leagues (of 20 to the degree) S.E. of San Salvador. Great care
has been taken to examine candidly the opinion of Navarrete, comparing it
with the journal of Columbus, as published in the above-mentioned work,
and with the personal observations of the writer of this article, who has
been much among these islands.

Columbus describes Guanahani, on which he landed, and to which he gave the
name of San Salvador, as being a beautiful island, and very large; as
being level, and covered with forests, many of the trees of which bore
fruit; as having abundance of fresh water, and a large lake in the centre;
that it was inhabited by a numerous population; that he proceeded for a
considerable distance in his boats along the shore, which trended to the
N.N.E., and as he passed, was visited by the inhabitants of several
villages. Turk's Island does not answer to this description.

Turk's Island is a low key composed of sand and rocks, and lying north and
south, less than two leagues in extent. It is utterly destitute of wood,
and has not a single tree of native growth. It has no fresh water, the
inhabitants depending entirely on cisterns and casks in which they
preserve the rain; neither has it any lake, but several salt ponds, which
furnish the sole production of the island. Turk's Island cannot be
approached on the east or northeast side, in consequence of the reef that
surrounds it. It has no harbor, but has an open road on the west side,
which vessels at anchor there have to leave and put to sea whenever the
wind comes from any other quarter than that of the usual trade breeze of
N.E. which blows over the island; for the shore is so bold that there is
no anchorage except close to it; and when the wind ceases to blow from the
laud, vessels remaining at their anchors would be swung against the rocks,
or forced high upon the shore, by the terrible surf that then prevails.
The unfrequented road of the Hawk's Nest, at the south end of the island,
is even more dangerous. This island, which is not susceptible of the
slightest cultivation, furnishes a scanty subsistence to a few sheep and
horses. The inhabitants draw all their consumption from abroad, with the
exception of fish and turtle, which are taken in abundance, and supply the
principal food of the slaves employed in the salt-works. The whole wealth
of the island consists in the produce of the salt-ponds, and in the
salvage and plunder of the many wrecks which take place in the
neighborhood. Turk's Island, therefore, would never be inhabited in a
savage state of society, where commerce does not exist, and where men are
obliged to draw their subsistence from the spot which they people.

Again: when about to leave Guanahani, Columbus was at a loss to choose
which to visit of a great number of islands in sight. Now there is no land
visible from Turk's Island, excepting the two salt keys which lie south of
it, and with it form the group known as Turk's Islands. The journal of
Columbus does not tell us what course he steered in going from Guanahani
to Concepcion, but he states, that it was five leagues distant from the
former, and that the current was against him in sailing to it: whereas the
distance from Turk's Island to the Gran Caico, supposed by Navarrete to be
the Concepcion of Columbus, is nearly double, and the current sets
constantly to the W.N.W. among these islands, which would be favorable
in going from Turk's Island to the Caicos.

From Concepcion Columbus went next to an island which he saw nine leagues
off in a westerly direction, to which he gave the name of Fernaudina. This
Navarrete takes to be Little Inagua, distant no less than twenty-two
leagues from Gran Caico. Besides, in going to Little Inagua, it would be
necessary to pass quite close to three islands, each larger than Turk's
Island, none of which are mentioned in the journal. Columbus describes
Fernandina as stretching twenty-eight leagues S.E. and N. W.: whereas
Little Inagua has its greatest length of four leagues in a S. W.
direction. In a word, the description of Fernandina has nothing in common
with Little Inagua. From Fernandina Columbus sailed S.E. to Isabella,
which Navarrete takes to be Great Inagua: whereas this latter bears S. W.
from Little Inagua, a course differing 90° from the one followed by
Columbus. Again: Columbus, on the 20th of November, takes occasion to say
that Guanahani was distant eight leagues from Isabella: whereas Turk's
Island is thirty-five leagues from Great Inagua.

Leaving Isabella, Columbus stood W. S. W. for the island of Cuba, and fell
in with the Islas Arenas. This course drawn from Great Inagua, would meet
the coast of Cuba about Port Nipe; whereas Navarrete supposes that
Columbus next fell in with the keys south of the Jumentos, and which bear
W.N.W. from Inagua: a course differing 45° from the one steered by the
ships. After sailing for some time in the neighborhood of Cuba, Columbus
finds himself, on the 14th of November, in the sea of Nuestra Señora,
surrounded by so many islands that it was impossible to count them:
whereas, on the same day, Navarrete places him off Cape Moa, where there
is but one small island, and more than fifty leagues distant from any
group that can possibly answer the description.

Columbus informs us that San Salvador was distant from Port Principe
forty-five leagues: whereas Turk's Island is distant from the point,
supposed by Navarrete to be the same, eighty leagues.

On taking leave of Cuba, Columbus remarks that he had followed its coast
for an extent of 120 leagues. Deducting twenty leagues for his having
followed its windings, there still remain 100. Now, Navarrete only
supposes him to have coasted this island an extent of seventy leagues.

Such are the most important difficulties which the theory of Navarrete
offers, and which appear insurmountable. Let us now take up the route of
Columbus as recorded in his journal, and, with the best charts before us,
examine how it agrees with the popular and traditional opinion, that he
first landed on the island of San Salvador.

We learn from the journal of Columbus that, on the 11th of October, 1492,
he continued steering W. S. W. until sunset, when he returned to his old
course of west, the vessels running at the rate of three leagues an hour.
At ten o'clock he and several of his crew saw a light, which seemed like a
torch carried about on land. He continued running on four hours longer,
and had made a distance of twelve leagues farther west, when at two in the
morning land was discovered ahead, distant two leagues. The twelve leagues
which, they ran since ten o'clock, with the two leagues distance from the
land, form a total corresponding essentially with the distance and
situation of Waiting's Island from San Salvador; and it is thence
presumed, that the light seen at that hour was on Watling's Island, which
they were then passing. Had the light been seen on land ahead, and they
had kept running on four hours, at the rate of three leagues an hour, they
must have run high and dry on shore. As the admiral himself received the
royal reward for having seen this light, as the first discovery of land,
Watling's Island is believed to be the point for which this premium was

On making land, the vessels were hove to until daylight of the same 12th
of October; they then anchored off an island of great beauty, covered with
forests, and extremely populous.

It was called Guanahani by the natives, but Columbus gave it the name of
San Salvador. Exploring its coast, where it ran to the N.N.E. he found a
harbor capable of sheltering any number of ships. This description
corresponds minutely with the S.E. part of the island known as San
Salvador, or Cat Island, which lies east and west, bending at its eastern
extremity to the N.N.E., and has the same verdant and fertile
appearance. The vessels had probably drifted into this bay at the S.E.
side of San Salvador, on the morning of the 12th, while lying to for
daylight; nor did Columbus, while remaining at the island, or when sailing
from it, open the land so as to discover that what he had taken for its
whole length was but a bend at one end of it, and that the main body of
the island lay behind, stretching far to the N. W. From Guanahani,
Columbus saw so many other islands that he was at a loss which next to
visit. The Indians signified that they were innumerable, and mentioned the
names of above a hundred. He determined to go to the largest in sight,
which appeared to be about five leagues distant; some of the others were
nearer, and some further off. The island thus selected, it is presumed,
was the present island of Concepcion; and that the others were that
singular belt of small islands, known as La Cadena (or the chain),
stretching past the island of San Salvador in a S.E. and N. W. direction:
the nearest of the group being nearer than Concepcion, while the rest are
more distant.

Leaving San Salvador in the afternoon of the 14th for the island thus
selected, the ships lay by during the night, and did not reach it until
late in the following day, being retarded by adverse currents. Columbus
gave this island the name of Santa Maria de la Coucepcion: he does not
mention either its bearings from San Salvador, or the course which he
steered in going to it. We know that in all this neighborhood the current
sets strongly and constantly to the W.N.W.; and since Columbus had the
current against him, he must have been sailing in an opposite direction,
or to the E.S.E. Besides, when near Conception, Columbus sees another
island to the westward, the largest he had yet seen; but he tells us that
he anchored off Concepcion, and did not stand for this larger island,
because he could not have sailed to the west. Hence it is rendered certain
that Columbus did not sail westward in going from San Salvador to
Conception; for, from the opposition of the wind, as there could be no
other cause, he could not sail towards that quarter. Now, on reference to
the chart, we find the island at present known as Coucepcion situated E.
S.E. from San Salvador, and at a corresponding distance of five leagues.

Leaving Concepcion on the 16th October, Columbus steered for a very large
island seen to the westward nine leagues off, and which extended itself
twenty-eight leagues in a S.E. and N. W. direction. He was becalmed the
whole day, and did not reach the island until the following morning, 17th
October. He named it Fernandina. At noon he made sail again, with a view
to run round it, and reach another island called Samoet; but the wind
being at S.E. by S., the course he wished to steer, the natives signified
that it would be easier to sail round this island by running to the N. W.
with a fair wind. He therefore bore up to the N. W., and having run two
leagues, found a marvelous port, with a narrow entrance, or rather with
two entrances, for there was an island which shut it in completely,
forming a noble basin within. Sailing out of this harbor by the opposite
entrance at the N. W., he discovered that part of the island which runs
east and west. The natives signified to him that this island was smaller
than Samoet, and that it would be better to return towards the latter. It
had now become calm, but shortly after there sprung up a breeze from W. N.
W., which was ahead for the course they had been steering; so they bore up
and stood to the E.S.E. in order to get an offing; for the weather
threatened a storm, which however dissipated itself in rain. The next day,
being the 18th October, they anchored opposite the extremity of

The whole of this description answers most accurately to the island of
Exuma, which lies south from San Salvador, and S. W. by S. from
Concepcion. The only inconsistency is, that Columbus states that
Fernandina bore nearly west from Concepcion, and was twenty-eight leagues
in extent. This mistake must have proceeded from his having taken the long
chain of keys called La Cadena for part of the same Exuma; which
continuous appearance they naturally assume when seen from Concepcion, for
they run in the same S.E. and N. W. direction. Their bearings, when seen
from the same point, are likewise westerly as well as southwesterly. As a
proof that such was the case, it may be observed, that, after having
approached these islands, instead of the extent of Fernandina being
increased to his eye, he now remarks that it was twenty leagues long,
whereas before it was estimated by him at twenty-eight; he now discovers
that instead of one island there were many, and alters his course
southerly to reach the one that was most conspicuous.

The identity of the island here described with Exuma is irresistibly
forced upon the mind. The distance from Concepcion, the remarkable port
with an island in front of it, and farther on its coast turning off to the
westward, are all so accurately delineated, that it would seem as though
the chart had been drawn from the description of Columbus.

On the 19th October, the ships left Fernandina, steering S.E. with the
wind at north. Sailing three hours on this course, they discovered Samoet
to the east, and steered for it, arriving at its north point before noon.
Here they found a little island surrounded by rocks, with another reef of
rocks lying between it and Samoet. To Samoet Columbus gave the name of
Isabella, and to the point of it opposite the little island, that of Cabo
del Isleo; the cape at the S. W. point of Samoet Columbus called Cabo de
Laguna, and off this last his ships were brought to anchor. The little
island lay in the direction from Fernandina to Isabella, east and west.
The coast from the small island lay westerly twelve leagues to a cape,
which Columbus called Fermosa from its beauty; this he believed to be an
island apart from Samoet or Isabella, with another one between them.
Leaving Cabo Laguna, where he remained until the 20th October, Columbus
steered to the N.E. towards Cabo del Isleo, but meeting with shoals
inside the small island, he did not come to anchor until the day
following. Near this extremity of Isabella they found a lake, from which
the ships were supplied with water.

This island of Isabella, or Samoet, agrees so accurately in its
description with Isla Larga, which lies east of Exuma, that it is only
necessary to read it with the chart unfolded to become convinced of the

Having resolved to visit the island which the natives called Cuba, and
described as bearing W. S. W. from Isabella, Columbus left Cabo del Isleo
at midnight, the commencement of the 24th October, and shaped his course
accordingly to the W. S. W. The wind continued light, with rain, until
noon, when it freshened up, and in the evening Cape Verde, the S. W. point
of Fernandina, bore N. W. distant seven leagues. As the night became
tempestuous, he lay to until morning, drifting according to the reckoning
two leagues.

On the morning of the 25th he made sail again to W.S.W., until nine
o'clock, when he had run five leagues; he then steered west until three,
when he had run eleven leagues, at which hour land was discovered,
consisting of seven or eight keys lying north and south, and distant five
leagues from the ships. Here he anchored the next day, south of these
islands, which he called Islas de Arena; they were low, and five or six
leagues in extent.

The distances run by Columbus, added to the departure taken from
Fernandina and the distance from these islands of Arena at the time of
discovering, give a sum of thirty leagues. This sum of thirty leagues is
about three less than the distance from the S.W. point of Fernandina or
Exuma, whence Columbus took his departure, to the group of Mucaras, which
lie east of Cayo Lobo on the grand bank of Bahama, and which correspond to
the description of Columbus. If it were necessary to account for the
difference of three leagues in a reckoning, where so much is given on
conjecture, it would readily occur to a seaman, that an allowance of two
leagues for drift, during a long night of blowy weather, is but a small
one. The course from Exuma to the Mucaras is about S.W. by W. The course
followed by Columbus differs a little from this, but as it was his
intention, on setting sail from Isabella, to steer W.S.W., and since he
afterwards altered it to west, we may conclude that he did so in
consequence of having been run out of his course to the southward, while
lying to the night previous.

Oct. 27.--At sunrise Columbus set sail from the isles Arenas or Mucaras,
for an island called Cuba, steering S.S.W. At dark, having made seventeen
leagues on that course, he saw the land, and hove his ships to until
morning. On the 28th he made sail again at S.S.W., and entered a beautiful
river with a fine harbor, which he named San Salvador. The journal in this
part does not describe the localities with the minuteness with which every
thing has hitherto been noted; the text also is in several places obscure.

This port of San Salvador we take to be the one now known as Caravelas
Grandes, situated eight leagues west of Nuevitas del Principe. Its
bearings and distance from the Mucaras coincide exactly with those run by
Columbus; and its description agrees, as far as can be ascertained by
charts, with the port which he visited.

Oct. 29.--Leaving this port, Columbus stood to the west, and having sailed
six leagues, he came to a point of the island running N.W., which we take
to be the Punta Gorda; and, ten leagues farther, another stretching
easterly, which will be Punta Curiana. One league farther he discovered a
small river, and beyond this another very large one, to which he gave the
name of Rio de Mares. This river emptied into a fine basin resembling a
lake, and having a bold entrance: it had for landmarks two round mountains
at the S. W., and to the W.N.W. a bold promontory, suitable for a
fortification, which projected far into the sea. This we take to be the
fine harbor and river situated west of Point Curiana; its distance
corresponds with that run by Columbus from Caravelas Grandes, which we
have supposed identical with Port San Salvador. Leaving Rio de Mares the
30th of October, Columbus stood to the N. W. for fifteen leagues, when he
saw a cape, to which he gave the name of Cabode Palmas. This, we believe,
is the one which forms the eastern entrance to Laguna de Moron. Beyond
this cape was a river, distant, according to the natives, four days'
journey from the town of Cuba; Columbus determined therefore to make for

Having lain to all night, he reached the river on the 31st of October, but
found that it was too shallow to admit his ships. This is supposed to be
what is now known as Laguna de Moron. Beyond this was a cape surrounded by
shoals, and another projected still farther out. Between these two capes
was a bay capable of receiving small vessels. The identity here of the
description with the coast near Laguna de Moron seems very clear. The cape
east of Laguna de Moron coincides with Cape Palmas, the Laguna de Moron
with the shoal river described by Columbus; and in the western point of
entrance, with the island of Cabrion opposite it, we recognize the two
projecting capes he speaks of, with what appeared to be a bay between
them. This all is a remarkable combination, difficult to be found any
where but in the same spot which Columbus visited and described. Further,
the coast from the port of San Salvador had run west to Rio de Mares, a
distance of seventeen leagues, and from Rio de Mares it had extended N. W.
fifteen leagues to Cabo de Palmos; all of which agrees fully with what has
been here supposed. The wind having shifted to north, which was contrary
to the course they had been steering, the vessels bore up and returned to
Rio de Mares.

On the 12th of November the ships sailed out of Rio de Mares to go in
quest of Babeque, an island believed to abound in gold, and to lie E. by
S. from that port. Having sailed eight leagues with a fair wind, they came
to a river, in which may be recognized the one which lies just west of
Punta Gorda. Four leagues farther they saw another, which they called Rio
del Sol. It appeared very large, but they did not stop to examine it, as
the wind was fair to advance. This we take to be the river now known as
Sabana. Columbus was now retracing his steps, and had made twelve leagues
from Riode Mares, but in going west from Port San Salvador to Rio de
Mares, he had run seventeen leagues. San Salvador, therefore, remains five
leagues east of Rio del Sol; and, accordingly, on reference to the chart,
we find Caravelas Grandes situated a corresponding distance from Sabana.

Having run six leagues from Rio del Sol, which makes in all eighteen
leagues from Rio de Mares, Columbus came to a cape which he called Cabo de
Cuba, probably from supposing it to be the extremity of that island. This
corresponds precisely in distance from Punta Curiana with the lesser
island of Guajava, situated near Cuba, and between which and the greater
Guajava Columbus must have passed in running in for Port San Salvador.
Either he did not notice it, from his attention being engrossed by the
magnificent island before him, or, as is also possible, his vessels may
have been drifted through the passage, which is two leagues wide, while
lying to the night previous to their arrival at Port San Salvador.

On the 13th of November, having hove to all night, in the morning the
ships passed a point two leagues in extent, and then entered into a gulf
that made into the S.S.W., and which Columbus thought separated Cuba from
Bohio. At the bottom of the gulf was a large basin between two mountains.
He could not determine whether or not this was an arm of the sea; for not
finding shelter from the north wind, he put to sea again. Hence it would
appear that Columbus must have partly sailed round the smaller Guajava,
which he took to be the extremity of Cuba, without being aware that a few
hours' sail would have taken him, by this channel, to Port San Salvador,
his first discovery in Cuba, and so back to the same Rio del Sol which he
had passed the day previous. Of the two mountains seen on both sides of
this entrance, the principal one corresponds with the peak called Alto de
Juan Daune which lies seven leagues west of Punta de Maternillos. The wind
continuing north, he stood east fourteen leagues from Cape Cuba, which we
have supposed the lesser island of Guajava. It is here rendered sure that
the point of little Guajava was believed by him to be the extremity of
Cuba; for he speaks of the land mentioned as lying to leeward of the
above-mentioned gulf as being the island of Bohio, and says that he
discovered twenty leagues of it running E.S.E. and W.N.W.

On the 14th November, having lain to all night with a N.E. wind, he
determined to seek a port, and, if he found none, to return to those which
he had left in the island of Cuba; for it will be remembered that all east
of little Guajava he supposed to be Bohio. He steered E. by S. therefore
six leagues, and then stood in for the land. Here he saw many ports and
islands; but as it blew fresh, with a heavy sea, he dared not enter, but
ran the coast down N.W. by W. for a distance of eighteen leagues, where he
saw a clear entrance and a port, in which he stood S.S.W. and afterwards
S.E., the navigation being all clear and open. Here Columbus beheld so
many islands that it was impossible to count them. They were very lofty,
and covered with trees. Columbus called the neighboring sea Mar de Nuestra
Señora, and to the harbor near the entrance to these islands he gave the
name of Puerto del Principe. This harbor he says he did not enter until
the Sunday following, which was four days after. This part of the text of
Columbus's journal is confused, and there are also anticipations, as if it
had been written subsequently, or mixed together in copying. It appears
evident, that while lying to the night previous, with the wind at N.E.,
the ships had drifted to the N.W., and been carried by the powerful
current of the Bahama channel far in the same direction. When they bore
up, therefore, to return to the ports which they had left in the island of
Cuba, they fell in to leeward of them, and now first discovered the
numerous group of islands of which Cayo Romano is the principal. The
current of this channel is of itself sufficient to have carried the
vessels to the westward a distance of 20 leagues, which is what they had
run easterly since leaving Cape Cuba, or Guajava, for it had acted upon
them during a period of thirty hours. There can be no doubt as to the
identity of these keys with those about Cayo Romano; for they are the only
ones in the neighborhood of Cuba that are not of a low and swampy nature,
but large and lofty. They inclose a free, open navigation, and abundance
of fine harbors, in late years the resort of pirates, who found security
and concealment for themselves and their prizes in the recesses of these
lofty keys. From the description of Columbus, the vessels must have
entered between the islands of Baril and Pacedon, and, sailing along Cayo
Romano on a S.E. course, have reached in another day their old cruising
ground in the neighborhood of lesser Guajava. Not only Columbus does not
tell us here of his having changed his anchorage amongst these keys, but
his journal does not even mention his having anchored at all, until the
return from the ineffectual search after Babeque. It is clear, from what
has been said, that it was not in Port Principe that the vessels anchored
on this occasion; but it could not have been very distant, since Columbus
went from the ships in his boats on the 18th November, to place a cross at
its entrance. He had probably seen the entrance from without, when sailing
east from Guajava on the 13th of November. The identity of this port with
the one now known as Neuvitas el Principe seems certain, from the
description of its entrance, Columbus, it appears, did not visit its

On the 19th November the ships sailed again, in quest of Babeque. At
sunset Port Principe bore S. S. W. distant seven leagues, and, having
sailed all night at N.E. by N. and until ten o'clock of the next day
(20th November), they had run a distance of fifteen leagues on that
course. The wind blowing from E.S.E., which was the direction in which
Babeqne was supposed to lie, and the weather being foul, Columbus
determined to return to Port Principe, which was then distant twenty-five
leagues. He did not wish to go to Isabella, distant only twelve leagues,
lest the Indians whom he had brought from San Salvador, which lay eight
leagues from Isabella, should make their escape. Thus, in sailing N.E. by
N. from near Port Principe, Columbus had approached within a short
distance of Isabella. That island was then, according to his calculations,
thirty-seven leagues from Port Principe; and San Salvador was forty-five
leagues from the same point. The first differs but eight leagues from the
truth, the latter nine; or from the actual distance of Neuvitas el
Principe from Isla Larga and San Salvador. Again, let us now call to mind
the course made by Columbus in going from Isabella to Cuba; it was first
W. S. W., then west, and afterwards S. S. W. Having consideration for the
different distances run on each, these yield a medium course not
materially different from S. W. Sailing then S. W. from Isabella, Columbus
had reached Port San Salvador, on the coast of Cuba. Making afterwards a
course of N.E. by N. from off Port Principe, he was going in the
direction of Isabella. Hence we deduce that Port San Salvador, on the
coast of Cuba, lay west of Port Principe, and the whole combination is
thus bound together and established. The two islands seen by Columbus at
ten o'clock of the same 20th November, must have been some of the keys
which lie west of the Jumentos. Running back towards Port Principe,
Columbus made it at dark, but found that he had been carried to the
westward by the currents. This furnishes a sufficient proof of the
strength of the current in the Bahama channel; for it will be remembered
that he ran over to Cuba with a fair wind. After contending for four days,
until the 24th November, with light winds against the force of these
currents, he arrived at length opposite the level island whence he had set
out the week before when going to Babeque.

We are thus accidentally informed that the point from which Columbus
started in search of Babeque was the same bland of Guajava the lesser,
which lies west of Neuvitas el Principe. Farther: at first he dared not
enter into the opening between the two mountains, for it seemed as though
the sea broke upon them; but having sent the boat ahead, the vessels
followed in at S. W. and then W. into a fine harbor. The level island lay
north of it, and with another island formed a secure basin capable of
sheltering all the navy of Spain. This level island resolves itself then
into our late Cape Cuba, which we have supposed to be little Guajava, and
the entrance east of it becom'es identical with the gulf above mentioned
which lay between two mountains, one of which we have supposed the Alto de
Juan Daune, and which gulf appeared to divide Cuba from Bohio. Our course
now becomes a plain one. On the 26th of November, Columbus sailed from
Santa Catalina (the name given by him to the port last described) at
sunrise, and stood for the cape at the S.E. which he called Cabo de Pico.
In this it is easy to recognize the high peak already spoken of as the
Alto de Juan Daune. Arrived off this, he saw another cape, distant fifteen
leagues, and still farther another five leagues beyond it, which he called
Cabo de Campana. The first must be that now known as Point Padre, the
second Point Mulas: their distances from Alto de Juan Daune are
underrated; but it requires no little experience to estimate correctly the
distances of the bold headlands of Cuba, as seen through the pure
atmosphere that surrounds the island.

Having passed Point Mulas in the night, on the 27th Columbus looked into
the deep bay that lies S.E. of it, and seeing the bold projecting
headland that makes out between Port Hipe and Port Banes, with those deep
bays on each side of it, he supposed it to be an arm of the sea dividing
one land from another with an island between them.

Having landed at Taco for a short time, Columbus arrived in the evening of
the 27th at Baracoa, to which he gave the name of Puerto Santo. From Cabo
del Pico to Puerto Santo, a distance of sixty leagues, he had passed no
fewer than nine good ports and five rivers to Cape Campana, and thence to
Puerto Santo eight more rivers, each with a good port; all of which may be
found on the chart between Alto de Juan Daune and Baracoa. By keeping near
the coast he had been assisted to the S.E. by the eddy current of the
Bahama channel. Sailing from Puerto Santo or Baracoa on the 4th of
December, he reached the extremity of Cuba the following day, and striking
off upon a wind to the S.E. in search of Babeque, which lay to the N.E.,
he came in sight of Bohio, to which he gave the name of Hispaniola.

On taking leave of Cuba, Columbus tells us that he had coasted it a
distance of 120 leagues. Allowing twenty leagues of this distance for his
having followed the undulations of the coast, the remaining 100 measured
from Point Maysi fall exactly upon Cabrion Key, which we have supposed the
western boundary of his discoveries.

The astronomical observations of Columbus form no objection to what has
been here advanced; for he tells us that the instrument which he made use
of to measure the meridian altitudes of the heavenly bodies was out of
order and not to be depended upon. He places his first discovery,
Guanahani, in the latitude of Ferro, which is about 27° 30' north. San
Salvador we find in 24° 30', and Turk's Island in 21° 30': both are very
wide of the truth, but it is certainly easier to conceive an error of
three than one of six degrees.

Laying aside geographical demonstration, let us now examine how historical
records agree with the opinion here supported, that the island of San
Salvador was the first point where Columbus came in contact with the New
World. Herrera, who is considered the most faithful and authentic of
Spanish historians, wrote his History of the Indies towards the year 1600.
In describing the voyage of Juan Ponce de Leon, made to Florida in 1512,
he makes the following remarks: [333] "Leaving Agnada in Porto Rico, they
steered to the N. W. by N., and in five days arrived at an island called
El Viejo, in latitude 22° 30' north. The next day they arrived at a small
island of the Lucayos, called Caycos. On the eighth day they anchored at
another island called Yaguna in 24°, on the eighth day out from Porto
Kico. Thence they passed to the island of Mannega, in 24° 30', and on the
eleventh day they reached Guanahani, which is in 25° 40' north. This
island of Guanahani was the first discovered by Columbus on his first
voyage, and which he called San Salvador." This is the substance of the
remarks of Herrera, and is entirely conclusive as to the location of San
Salvador. The latitudes, it is true, are all placed higher than we now
know them to be; that of San Salvador being such as to correspond with
no other land than that now known as the Berry Islands, which are seventy
leagues distant from the nearest coast of Cuba: whereas Columbus tells us
that San Salvador was only forty-five leagues from Port Principe. But in
those infant days of navigation, the instruments for measuring the
altitudes of the heavenly bodies, and the tables of declinations for
deducing the latitude, must have been so imperfect as to place the most
scientific navigator of the time below the most mechanical one of the

The second island arrived at by Ponce de Leon, in his northwestern course,
was one of the Caycos; the first one, then, called El Viejo, must have
been Turk's Island, which lies S.E. of the Caycos. The third island they
came to was probably Mariguana; the fourth, Crooked Island; and the fifth,
Isla Larga. Lastly they came to Guanahani, the San Salvador of Columbus.
If this be supposed identical with Turk's Island, where do we find the
succession of islands touched at by Ponce de Leon on his way from Porto
Rico to San Salvador? [334] No stress has been laid, in these
remarks, on the identity of name which has been preserved to San Salvador,
Concepcion, and Port Principe, with those given by Columbus, though
traditional usage is of vast weight in such matters. Geographical proof,
of a conclusive kind it is thought, has been advanced, to enable the world
to remain in its old hereditary belief that the present island of San
Salvador is the spot where Columbus first set foot upon the New World.
Established opinions of the kind should not be lightly molested. It is a
good old rule, that ought to be kept in mind in curious research as well
as territorial dealings, "Do not disturb the ancient landmarks."

_Note to the Revised Edition of 1848_.--The Paron de Humboldt, in his
"Examen critique de l'histoire de la geographie du nouveau continent,"
published in 1837, speaks repeatedly in high terms of the ability
displayed in the above examination of the route of Columbus, and argues at
great length and quite conclusively in support of the opinion contained in
it. Above all, he produces a document hitherto unknown, and the great
importance of which had been discovered by M. Valeknaer and himself in
1832. This is a map made in 1500 by that able mariner Juan de la Cosa, who
accompanied Columbus in his second voyage and sailed with other of the
discoverers. In this map, of which the Baron de Humboldt gives an
engraving, the islands as laid down agree completely with the bearings and
distances given in the journal of Columbus, and establishes the identity
of San Salvador, or Cat Island, and Guanahani.

"I feel happy," says M. de Humboldt, "to be enabled to destroy the
incertitudes (which rested on this subject) by a document as ancient as it
is unknown; a document which confirms irrevocably the arguments which Mr.
Washington Irving has given in his work against the hypotheses of the
Turk's Island." In the present revised edition the author feels at liberty
to give the merit of the very masterly paper on the route of Columbus,
where it is justly due. It was furnished him at Madrid by the late
commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, of the United States navy, whose
modesty shrunk from affixing his name to an article so calculated to do
him credit, and which has since challenged the high eulogiums of men of
nautical science.


Principles upon which the Sums Mentioned in This Work Have Been Reduced
into Modern Currency.

In the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella the mark of silver, which was
equal to 8 ounces or to 50 castellanos, was divided into 65 reals, and
each real into 34 maravedis; so that there were 2210 maravedis in the mark
of silver. Among other silver coins there was the real of 8, which
consisting of 8 reals, was, within a small fraction, the eighth part of a
mark of silver, or one ounce. Of the gold coins then in circulation the
castellano or _dobla de la vanda_ was worth 490 maravedis, and the
ducado 383 maravedis.

If the value of the maravedi had remained unchanged in Spain down to the
present day, it would be easy to reduce a sum of the time of Ferdinand and
Isabella into a correspondent sum of current money; but by the successive
depreciations of the coin of Vellon, or mixed metals, issued since that
period, the _real_ and maravedi of Vellon, which had replaced the
ancient currency, were reduced, towards the year 1700, to about a third of
the old _real_ and maravedi, now known as the _real_ and maravedi
of silver. As, however, the ancient piece of 8 reals was equal
approximately to the ounce of silver, and the duro, or dollar of the
present day, is likewise equal to an ounce, they may be considered
identical. Indeed, in Spanish America, the dollar, instead of being
divided into 20 reals, as in Spain, is divided into only 8 parts called
reals, which evidently represent the real of the time of Ferdinand and
Isabella, as the dollar does the real of 8. But the ounce of silver was
anciently worth 276-1/4 maravedis; the dollar, therefore, is likewise
equal to 276 1/4 maravedis. By converting then the sums mentioned in this
work into maravedis, they have been afterwards reduced into dollars by
dividing by 276 1/4.

There is still, however, another calculation to be made, before we can
arrive at the actual value of any sum of gold and silver mentioned in
former times. It is necessary to notice the variation which has taken
place in the value of the metals themselves. In Europe, previous to the
discovery of the New World, an ounce of gold commanded an amount of food
or labor which would cost three ounces at the present day; hence an ounce
of gold was then estimated at three times its present value. At the same
time an ounce of silver commanded an amount which at present costs 4
ounces of silver. It appears from this, that the value of gold and silver
varied with respect to each other, as well as with respect to all other
commodities. This is owing to there having been much more silver brought
from the New World, with respect to the quantity previously in
circulation, than there has been of gold. In the 15th century one ounce of
gold was equal to about 12 of silver; and now, in the year 1827, it is
exchanged against 16.

Hence giving an idea of the relative value of the sums mentioned in this
work, it has been found necessary to multiply them by three when in gold,
and by four when expressed in silver. [335]

It is expedient to add that the dollar is reckoned in this work at 100
cents of the United States of North America, and four shillings and
sixpence of England.

No. XIX.

Prester John:

Said to be derived from the Persian _Prestegani_ or
_Perestigani_, which signifies apostolique; or _Preschtak-Geham_,
angel of the world. It is the name of a potent Christian monarch of
shadowy renown, whose dominions were placed by writers of the middle ages
sometimes in the remote parts of Asia and sometimes in Africa, and of
whom such contradictory accounts were given by the travelers of those days
that the very existence either of him or his kingdom came to be
considered doubtful. It now appears to be admitted, that there really
was such a potentate in a remote part of Asia. He was of the Nestorian
Christians, a sect spread throughout Asia, and taking its name and origin
from Nestorius, a Christian patriarch of Constantinople.

The first vague reports of a Christian potentate in the interior of Asia,
or, as it was then called, India, were brought to Europe by the Crusaders,
who it is supposed gathered them from the Syrian merchants who traded to
the very confines of China.

In subsequent ages, when the Portuguese in their travels and voyages
discovered a Christian king among the Abyssinians, called Baleel-Gian,
they confounded him with the potentate already spoken of. Nor was the
blunder extraordinary, since the original Prester John was said to reign
over a remote part of India; and the ancients included in that name
Ethiopia and all the regions of Africa and Asia bordering on the Red Sea
and on the commercial route from Egypt to India.

Of the Prester John of India we have reports furnished by William
Ruysbrook, commonly called Rubruquis, a Franciscan friar sent by Louis IX,
about the middle of the thirteenth century, to convert the Grand Khan.
According to him, Prester John was originally a Nestorian priest, who on
the death of the sovereign made himself king of the Naymans, all Nestorian
Christians. Carpini, a Franciscan friar, sent by pope Innocent in 1245 to
convert the Mongols of Persia, says, that Ocoday, one of the sons of
Ghengis Khan of Tartary, marched with an army against the Christians of
Grand India. The king of that country, who was called Prester John, came
to their succor. Having had figures of men made of bronze, he had them
fastened on the saddles of horses, and put fire within, with a man behind
with a bellows. When they came to battle these horses were put in the
advance, and the men who were seated behind the figures threw something
into the fire, and blowing with their bellows, made such a smoke that the
Tartars were quite covered with it. They then fell on them, dispatched
many with their arrows, and put the rest to flight.

Marco Polo (1271) places Prester John near the great wall of China, to the
north of Chan-si, in Teudich, a populous region full of cities and

Mandeville (1332) makes Prester sovereign of upper India (Asia), with four
thousand islands tributary to him.

When John II, of Portugal, was pushing his discoveries along the African
coast, he was informed that 350 leagues to the east of the kingdom of
Benin, in the profound depths of Africa, there was a puissant monarch,
called Ogave, who had spiritual and temporal jurisdiction over all the
surrounding kings.

An African prince assured him, also, that to the east of Timbuctoo there
was a sovereign who professed a religion similar to that of the
Christians, and was king of a Mosaic people.

King John now supposed he had found traces of the real Prester John, with
whom he was eager to form an alliance religious as well as commercial. In
1487 he sent envoys by land in quest of him. One was a gentleman of his
household, Pedro de Covilham; the other, Alphonso de Paiva. They went by
Naples to Rhodes, thence to Cairo, thence to Aden on the Arabian Gulf
above the mouth of the Red Sea.

Here they separated with an agreement to rendezvous at Cairo. Alphonso de
Paiva sailed direct for Ethiopia; Pedro de Covilham for the Indies. The
latter passed to Calicut and Goa, where he embarked for Sofala on the
eastern coast of Africa, thence returned to Aden, and made his way back to
Cairo. Here he learned that his coadjutor, Alphonso de Paiva, had died in
that city. He found two Portuguese Jews waiting for him with fresh orders
from king John not to give up his researches after Prester John until he
found him. One of the Jews he sent back with a journal and verbal accounts
of his travels. With the other he set off again for Aden; thence to Ormuz,
at the entrance of the Gulf of Persia, where all the rich merchandise of
the East was brought to be transported thence by Syria and Egypt into

Having taken note of every thing here, he embarked on the Red Sea, and
arrived at the court of an Abyssinian prince named Escander, (the Arabic
version of Alexander,) whom he considered the real Prester John. The
prince received him graciously, and manifested a disposition to favor the
object of his embassy, but died suddenly, and his successor Naut refused
to let Covilham depart, but kept him for many years about his person, as
his prime councilor, lavishing on him wealth and honors. After all, this
was not the real Prester John; who, as has been observed, was an Asiatic

No. XX.

Marco Polo.


The travels of Marco Polo, or Paolo, furnish a key to many parts of the
voyages and speculations of Columbus, which without it would hardly be

Marco Polo was a native of Venice, who, in the thirteenth century, made a
journey into the remote, and, at that time, unknown regions of the East,
and filled all Christendom with curiosity by his account of the countries
he had visited. He was preceded in his travels by his father Nicholas and
his uncle Maffeo Polo. These two brothers were of an illustrious family in
Venice, and embarked, about the year 1255, on a commercial voyage to the
East. Having traversed the Mediterranean and through the Bosphorus, they
stopped for a short time at Constantinople, which city had recently been
wrested from the Greeks by the joint arms of France and Venice. Here they
disposed of their Italian merchandise, and, having purchased a stock of
jewelry, departed on an adventurous expedition to trade with the western
Tartars, who, having overrun many parts of Asia and Europe, were settling
and forming cities in the vicinity of the Wolga. After traversing the
Euxine to Soldaia, (at present Sudak,) a port in the Crimea, they
continued on, by land and water, until they reached the military court, or
rather camp, of a Tartar prince, named Barkah, a descendant of Ghengis
Khan, into whose hands they confided all their merchandise. The barbaric
chieftain, while he was dazzled by their precious commodities, was
flattered by the entire confidence in his justice manifested by these
strangers. He repaid them with princely munificence, and loaded them with
favors during a year that they remained at his court. A war breaking out
between their patron and his cousin Hulagu, chief of the eastern Tartars,
and Barkah being defeated, the Polos were embarrassed how to extricate
themselves from the country and return home in safety. The road to
Constantinople being cut off by the enemy, they took a circuitous route,
round the head of the Caspian Sea, and through the deserts of Transoxiana,
until they arrived in the city of Bokhara, where they resided for three

While here there arrived a Tartar nobleman who was on an embassy from the
victorious Hulagu to his brother the Grand Khan. The ambassador became
aquainted with the Venetians, and finding them to be versed in the Tartar
tongue and possessed of curious and valuable knowledge, he prevailed upon
them to accompany him to the court of the emperor, situated, as they
supposed, at the very extremity of the East.

After a march of several months, being delayed by snow-storms and
inundations, they arrived at the court of Cublai, otherwise called the
Great Khan, which signifies King of Kings, being the sovereign potentate
of the Tartars. This magnificent prince received them with great
distinction; he made inquiries about the countries and princes of the
West, their civil and military government, and the manners and customs of
the Latin nation. Above all, he was curious on the subject of the
Christian religion. He was so much struck by their replies, that after
holding a council with the chief persons of his kingdom, he entreated the
two brothers to go on his part as ambassadors to the pope, to entreat him
to send a hundred learned men well instructed in the Christian faith, to
impart a knowledge of it to the sages of his empire. He also entreated
them to bring him a little oil from the lamp of our Saviour, in Jerusalem,
which he concluded must have marvelous virtues. It has been supposed, and
with great reason, that under this covert of religion, the shrewd Tartar
sovereign veiled motives of a political nature. The influence of the pope
in promoting the crusades had caused his power to be known and respected
throughout the East; it was of some moment, therefore, to conciliate his
good-will. Cublai Khan had no bigotry nor devotion to any particular
faith, and probably hoped, by adopting Christianity, to make it a common
cause between himself and the warlike princes of Christendom, against his
and their inveterate enemies, the soldan of Egypt and the Saracens.

Having written letters to the pope in the Tartar language, he delivered
them to the Polos, and appointed one of the principal noblemen of his
court to accompany them in their mission. On their taking leave he
furnished them with a tablet of gold on which was engraved the royal arms;
this was to serve as a passport, at sight of which the governors of the
various provinces were to entertain them, to furnish them with escorts
through dangerous places, and render them all other necessary services at
the expense of the Great Khan.

They had scarce proceeded twenty miles, when the nobleman who accompanied
them fell ill, and they were obliged to leave him, and continue on their
route. Their golden passport procured them every attention and facility
throughout the dominions of the Great Khan. They arrived safely at Acre,
in April, 1269. Here they received news of the recent death of Pope
Clement IV, at which they were, much grieved, fearing it would cause delay
in their mission. There was at that time in Acre a legate of the holy
chair, Tebaldo di Vesconti, of Placentia, to whom they gave an account of
their embassy. He heard them with great attention and interest, and
advised them to await the election of a new pope, which must soon take
place, before they proceeded to Rome on their mission. They determined in
the interim to make a visit to their families, and accordingly departed
for Negropont, and thence to Venice, where great changes had taken place
in their domestic concerns, during their long absence. The wife of
Nicholas, whom he had left pregnant, had died, in giving birth to a son,
who had been named Marco.

As the contested election for the new pontiff remained pending for two
years, they were uneasy, lest the emperor of Tartary should grow impatient
at so long a postponement of the conversion of himself and his people;
they determined, therefore, not to wait the election of a pope, but to
proceed to Acre, and get such dispatches and such ghostly ministry for the
Grand Khan, as the legate could furnish. On the second journey, Nicholas
Polo took with him his son Marco, who afterwards wrote an account of these

They were again received with great favor by the legate Tebaldo, who,
anxious for the success of their mission, furnished them with letters to
the Grand Khan, in which the doctrines of the Christian faith were fully
expounded. With these, and with a supply of the holy oil from the
sepulchre, they once more set out in September, 1271, for the remote parts
of Tartary. They had not long departed, when missives arrived from Rome,
informing the legate of his own election to the holy chair. He took the
name of Gregory X, and decreed that in future, on the death of a pope, the
cardinals should be shut up in conclave until they elected a successor; a
wise regulation, which has since continued, enforcing a prompt decision,
and preventing intrigue.

Immediately on receiving intelligence of his election, he dispatched a
courier to the king of Armenia, requesting that the two Venetians might be
sent back to him, if they had not departed. They joyfully returned, and
were furnished with new letters to the Khan. Two eloquent friars, also,
Nicholas Vincenti and Gilbert de Tripoli, were sent with them, with powers
to ordain priests and bishops and to grant absolution. They had presents
of crystal vases, and other costly articles, to deliver to the Grand Khan;
and thus well provided, they once more set forth on their journey.

Arriving in Armenia, they ran great risk of their lives from the war which
was raging, the soldan of Babylon having invaded the country. They took
refuge for some time with the superior of a monastery. Here the two
reverend fathers, losing all courage to prosecute so perilous an
enterprise, determined to remain, and the Venetians continued their
journey. They were a long time on the way, and exposed to great hardships
and sufferings from floods and snow-storms, it being the winter season. At
length they reached a town in the dominions of the Khan. That potentate
sent officers to meet them at forty days' distance from the court, and to
provide quarters for them during their journey. [338] He received them
with great kindness, was highly gratified with the result of their
mission and with the letters of the pope, and having received from them
some oil from the lamp of the holy sepulchre, he had it locked up, and
guarded it as a precious treasure.

The three Venetians, father, brother and son, were treated with such
distinction by the Khan, that the courtiers were filled with jealousy.
Marco soon, however, made himself popular, and was particularly esteemed
by the emperor. He acquired the four principal languages of the country,
and was of such remarkable capacity, that, notwithstanding his youth, the
Khan employed him in missions and services of importance, in various parts
of his dominions, some to the distance of even six months' journey. On
these expeditions he was industrious in gathering all kinds of information
respecting that vast empire; and from notes and minutes made for the
satisfaction of the Grand Khan, he afterwards composed the history of his

After about seventeen years' residence in the Tartar court the Venetians
felt a longing to return to their native country. Their patron was
advanced in age and could not survive much longer, and after his death,
their return might be difficult, if not impossible. They applied to the
Grand Khan for permission to depart, but for a time met with a refusal,
accompanied by friendly upbraidings. At length a singular train of events
operated in their favor; an embassy arrived from a Mogul Tartar prince,
who ruled in Persia, and who was grand-nephew to the emperor. The object
was to entreat, as a spouse, a princess of the imperial lineage. A
granddaughter of Cublai Klian, seventeen years of age, and of great beauty
and accomplishments, was granted to the prayer of the prince, and departed
for Persia with the ambassadors, and with a splendid retinue, but after
traveling for some months, was obliged to return on account of the
distracted state of the country.

The ambassadors despaired of conveying the beautiful bride to the arms of
her expecting bridegroom, when Marco Polo returned from a voyage to
certain of the Indian islands. His representations of the safety of a
voyage in those seas, and his private instigations, induced the
ambassadors to urge the Grand Khan for permission to convey the princess
by sea to the gulf of Persia, and that the Christians might accompany
them, as being best experienced in maritime affairs. Cublai Khan consented
with great reluctance, and a splendid fleet was fitted out and victualed
for two years, consisting of fourteen ships of four masts, some of which
had crews of two hundred and fifty men.

On parting with the Venetians the munificent Khan gave them rich presents
of jewels, and made them promise to return to him after they had visited
their families. He authorized them to act as his ambassadors to the
principal courts of Europe, and, as on a former occasion, furnished them
with tablets of gold, to serve, not merely as passports, but as orders
upon all commanders in his territories for accommodations and supplies.

They set sail therefore in the fleet with the oriental princess and her
attendants and the Persian ambassadors. The ships swept along the coast of
Cochin China, stopped for three months at a port of the island of Sumatra
near ihe western entrance of the straits of Malacca, waiting for the
change of the monsoon to pass the bay of Bengal. Traversing this vast
expanse, they touched at the island of Ceylon and then crossed the strait
to the southern part of the great peninsula of India. Thence sailing up
the Pirate coast, as it is called, the fleet entered the Persian gulf and
arrived at the famous port of Olmuz, where it is presumed the voyage
terminated, after eighteen months spent in traversing the Indian seas.

Unfortunately for the royal bride who was the object of this splendid
naval expedition, the bridegroom, the Mogul king, had died some time
before her arrival, leaving a son named Ghazan, during whose minority the
government was administered by his uncle Kai-Khatu. According to the
directions of the regent, the princess was delivered to the youthful
prince, son of her intended spouse. He was at that time at the head of an
army on the borders of Persia. He was of a diminutive stature, but of a
great soul, and, on afterwards ascending the throne, acquired renown for
his talents and virtues. What became of the Eastern bride, who had
traveled so far in quest of a husband, is not known; but every thing
favorable is to be inferred from the character of Ghazan.

The Polos remained some time in the court of the regent, and then
departed, with fresh tablets of gold given by that prince, to carry them
in safety and honor through his dominions. As they had to traverse many
countries where the traveler is exposed to extreme peril, they appeared on
their journeys as Tartars of low condition, having converted all their
wealth into precious stones and sewn them up in the folds and linings of
their coarse garments. They had a long, difficult, and perilous journey to
Trebizond, whence they proceeded to Constantinople, thence to Negropont,
and, finally, to Venice, where they arrived in 1295, in good health, and
literally laden with riches. Having heard during their journey of the
death of their old benefactor Cublai Khan, they considered their
diplomatic functions at an end, and also that they were absolved from
their promise to return to his dominions.

Ramusio, in his preface to the narrative of Marco Polo, gives a variety of
particulars concerning their arrival, which he compares to that of
Ulysses. When they arrived at Venice, they were known by nobody. So many
years had elapsed since their departure, without any tidings of them, that
they were either forgotten or considered dead. Besides, their foreign
garb, the influence of southern suns, and the similitude which men acquire
to those among whom they reside for any length of time, had given them the
look of Tartars rather than Italians.

They repaired to their own house, which was a noble palace, situated in
the street of St. Giovanni Chrisostomo, and was afterwards known by the
name of la Corte de la Milione. They found several of their relatives
still inhabiting it; but they were slow in recollecting the travelers, not
knowing of their wealth, and probably considering them, from their coarse
and foreign attire, poor adventurers returned to be a charge upon their
families. The Polos, however, took an effectual mode of quickening the
memories of their friends, and insuring themselves a loving reception.
They invited them all to a grand banquet. When their guests arrived, they
received them richly dressed in garments of crimson satin of oriental
fashion. When water had been served for the washing of hands, and the
company were summoned to table, the travelers, who had retired, appeared
again in still richer robes of crimson damask. The first dresses were cut
up and distributed among the servants, being of such length that they
swept the ground, which, says Ramusio, was the mode in those days, with
dresses worn within doors. After the first course, they again retired and
came in dressed in crimson velvet; the damask dresses being likewise given
to the domestics, and the same was done at the end of the feast with their
velvet robes, when they appeared in the Venetian dress of the day. The
guests were lost in astonishment, and could not comprehend the meaning of
this masquerade. Having dismissed all the attendants, Marco Polo brought
forth the coarse Tartar dresses in which they had arrived. Slashing them
in several places with a knife, and ripping open the seams and lining,
there tumbled forth rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and other
precious stones, until the whole table glittered with inestimable wealth,
acquired from the munificence of the Grand Khan, and conveyed in this
portable form through the perils of their long journey.

The company, observes Ramusio, were out of their wits with amazement, and
now clearly perceived what they had at first doubted, that these in very
truth were those honored and valiant gentlemen the Polos, and,
accordingly, paid them great respect and reverence.

The account of this curious feast is given by Ramusio, on traditional
authority, having heard it many times related by the illustrious Gasparo
Malipiero, a very ancient gentleman, and a senator, of unquestionable
veracity, who had it from his father, who had it from his grandfather, and
so on up to the fountain-head.

When the fame of this banquet and of the wealth of the travelers came to
be divulged throughout Venice, all the city, noble and simple, crowded to
do honor to the extraordinary merit of the Polos. Maffeo, who was the
eldest, was admitted to the dignity of the magistracy. The youth of the
city came every day to visit and converse with Marco Polo, who was
extremely amiable and communicative. They were insatiable in their
inquiries about Cathay and the Grand Khan, which he answered with great
courtesy, giving details with which they were vastly delighted, and, as he
always spoke of the wealth of the Grand Khan in round numbers, they gave
him the name of Messer Marco Milioni.

Some months after their return, Lampa Doria, commander of the Genoese
navy, appeared in the vicinity of the island of Curzola with seventy
galleys. Andrea Dandolo, the Venetian admiral, was sent against him. Marco
Polo commanded a galley of the fleet. His usual good fortune deserted him.
Advancing the first in the line with his galley, and not being properly
seconded, he was taken prisoner, thrown in irons, and carried to Genoa.
Here he was detained for a long time in prison, and all offers of ransom
rejected. His imprisonment gave great uneasiness to his father and uncle,
fearing that he might never return. Seeing themselves in this unhappy
state, with so much treasure and no heirs, they consulted together. They
were both very old men; but Nicolo, observes Ramusio, was of a galliard
complexion; it was determined he should take a wife. He did so; and, to
the wonder of his friends, in four years had three children.

In the meanwhile, the fame of Marco Polo's travels had circulated in
Genoa. His prison was daily crowded with nobility, and he was supplied
with every thing that could cheer him in his confinement. A Genoese
gentleman, who visited him every day, at length prevailed upon him to
write an account of what he had seen. He had his papers and journals sent
to him from Venice, and, with the assistance of his friend, or, as some
will have it, his fellow-prisoner, produced the work which afterwards made
such noise throughout the world.

The merit of Marco Polo at length procured him his liberty. He returned to
Venice, where he found his father with a house full of children. He took
it in good part, followed the old man's example, married, and had two
daughters, Moretta and Fantina. The date of the death of Marco Polo is
unknown; he is supposed to have been, at the time, about seventy years of
age. On his death-bed he is said to have been exhorted by his friends to
retract what he had published, or, at least, to disavow those parts
commonly regarded as fictions. He replied indignantly that so far from
having exaggerated, he had not told one half of the extraordinary things
of which he had been an eye-witness.

Marco Polo died without male issue. Of the three sons of his father by the
second marriage, one only had children, viz. five sons and one daughter.
The sons died without leaving issue; the daughter inherited all her
father's wealth, and married into the noble and distinguished house of
Trevesino. Thus the male line of the Polos ceased in 1417, and the family
name was extinguished.

Such are the principal particulars known of Marco Polo; a man whose
travels for a long time made a great noise in Europe, and will be found to
have had a great effect on modern discovery. His splendid account of the
extent, wealth, and population of the Tartar territories filled every one
with admiration. The possibility of bringing all those regions under the
dominion of the church, and rendering the Grand Khan an obedient vassal to
the holy chair, was for a long time a favorite topic among the
enthusiastic missionaries of Christendom, and there were many
saints-errant who undertook to effect the conversion of this magnificent

Even at the distance of two centuries, when the enterprises for the
discovery of the new route to India had set all the warm heads of Europe
madding about these remote regions of the East, the conversion of the
Grand Khan became again a popular theme; and it was too speculative and
romantic an enterprise not to catch the vivid imagination of Columbus. In
all his voyages, he will be found continually to be seeking after the
territories of the Grand Khan, and even after his last expedition, when
nearly worn out by age, hardships, and infirmities, he offered, in a
letter to the Spanish monarchs, written from a bed of sickness, to conduct
any missionary to the territories of the Tartar emperor, who would
undertake his conversion.

No. XXI.

The Work of Marco Polo.

The work of Marco Polo is stated by some to have been originally written
in Latin, [339] though the most probable opinion is that it was written in
the Venetian dialect of the Italian. Copies of it in manuscript were
multiplied and rapidly circulated; translations were made into various
languages, until the invention of printing enabled it to be widely
diffused throughout Europe. In the course of these translations and
successive editions, the original text, according to Purchas, has been
much vitiated, and it is probable many extravagances in numbers and
measurements with which Marco Polo is charged may be the errors of
translators and printers.

When the work first appeared, it was considered by some as made up of
fictions and extravagances, and Vossius assures us that even after the
death of Marco Polo he continued to be a subject of ridicule among the
light and unthinking, insomuch that he was frequently personated at
masquerades by some wit or droll, who, in his feigned character, related
all kinds of extravagant fables and adventures. His work, however, excited
great attention among thinking men, containing evidently a fund of
information concerning vast and splendid countries, before unknown to the
European world. Vossius assures us that it was at one time highly esteemed
by the learned. Francis Pepin, author of the Brandenburgh version, styles
Polo a man commendable for his piety, prudence, and fidelity. Athanasius
Kircher, in his account of China, says that none of the ancients have
described the kingdoms of the remote East with more exactness. Various
other learned men of past times have borne testimony to his character, and
most of the substantial parts of his work have been authenticated by
subsequent travelers. The most able and ample vindication of Marco Polo,
however, is to be found in the English translation of his work, with
copious notes and commentaries, by William Marsden, F. R. S. He has
diligently discriminated between what Marco Polo relates from his own
observation, and what he relates as gathered from others; he points out
the errors that have arisen from misinterpretations, omissions, or
interpretations of translators, and he claims all proper allowance for the
superstitious coloring of parts of the narrative from the belief,
prevalent among the most wise and learned of his day, in miracles and
magic. After perusing the work of Mr. Marsden, the character of Marco Polo
rises in the estimation of the reader. It is evident that his narration,
as far as related from his own observations, is correct, and that he had
really traversed a great part of Tartary and China, and navigated in the
Indian seas. Some of the countries and many of the islands, however, are
evidently described from accounts given by others, and in these accounts
are generally found the fables which have excited incredulity and
ridicule. As he composed his work after his return home, partly from
memory and partly from memorandums, he was liable to confuse what he had
heard with what he had seen, and thus to give undue weight to many fables
and exaggerations which he had received from others.

Much had been said of a map brought from Cathay by Marco Polo, which was
conserved in the convent of San Michale de Murano in the vicinity of
Venice, and in which the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Madagascar
were indicated; countries which the Portuguese claim the merit of having
discovered two centuries afterwards. It has been suggested also that
Columbus had visited the convent and examined this map, whence he derived
some of his ideas concerning the coast of India. According to Ramusio,
however, who had been at the convent, and was well acquainted with the
prior, the map preserved there was one copied by a friar from the original
one of Marco Polo, and many alterations and additions had since been made
by other hands, so that for a long time it lost all credit with judicious
people, until on comparing it with the work of Marco Polo it was found in
the main to agree with his descriptions. [340] The Cape of Good Hope was
doubtless among the additions made subsequent to the discoveries of the
Portuguese. [341] Columbus makes no mention of this map, which he most
probably would have done had he seen it. He seems to have been entirely
guided by the one furnished by Paulo Toscanelli, and which was apparently
projected after the original map, or after the descriptions of Marco
Polo, and the maps of Ptolemy.

When the attention of the world was turned towards the remote parts of
Asia in the 15th century, and the Portuguese were making their attempts to
circumnavigate Africa, the narration of Marco Polo again rose to notice.
This, with the travels of Nicolo le Comte, the Venetian, and of Hieronimo
da San Stefano, a Genoese, are said to have been the principal lights by
which the Portuguese guided themselves in their voyages. [342]

Above all, the influence which the work of Marco Polo had over the mind of
Columbus, gives it particular interest and importance. It was evidently an
oracular work with him. He frequently quotes it, and on his voyages,
supposing himself to be on the Asiatic coast, he is continually
endeavoring to discover the islands and main-lands described in it, and to
find the famous Cipango.

It is proper, therefore, to specify some of those places, and the manner
in which they are described by a Venetian traveler, that the reader may
more fully understand the anticipations which were haunting the mind of
Columbus in his voyages among the West Indian islands, and along the coast
of Terra Firma.

The winter residence of the Great Khan, according to Marco Polo, was in
the city of Cambalu, or Kanbalu, (since ascertained to be Pekin,) in the
province of Cathay. This city, he says, was twenty-four miles square, and
admirably built. It was impossible, according to Marco Polo, to describe
the vast amount and variety of merchandise and manufactures brought there;
it would seem they were enough to furnish the universe. "Here are to be
seen in wonderful abundance the precious stones, the pearls, the silks,
and the diverse perfumes of the East; scarce a day passes that there does
not arrive nearly a thousand cars laden with silk, of which they make
admirable stuffs in this city."

The palace of the Great Khan is magnificently built, and four miles in
circuit. It is rather a group of palaces. In the interior it is
resplendent with gold and silver; and in it are guarded the precious vases
and jewels of the sovereign. All the appointments of the Khan for war, for
the chase, for various festivities, are described in gorgeous terms. But
though Marco Polo is magnificent in his description of the provinces of
Cathay, and its imperial city of Cambalu, he outdoes himself when he comes
to describe the province of Mangi. This province is supposed to be the
southern part of China. It contains, he says, twelve hundred cities. The
capital, Quinsai  (supposed to be the city of Hang-cheu), was twenty-five
miles from the sea, but communicated by a river with a port situated on
the seacoast, and had great trade with India.

The name Quinsai, according to Marco Polo, signifies the city of heaven;
he says he has been in it and examined it diligently, and affirms it to be
the largest in the world; and so undoubtedly it is if the measurement of
the traveler is to be taken literally, for he declares that it is one
hundred miles in circuit. This seeming exaggeration has been explained by
supposing him to mean Chinese miles or _li,_ which are to the Italian
miles in the proportion of three to eight; and Mr. Marsden observes that
the walls even of the modern city, the limits of which have been
considerably contracted, are estimated by travelers at sixty _li_.
The ancient city has evidently been of immense extent, and as Marco Polo
could not be supposed to have measured the walls himself, he has probably
taken the loose and incorrect estimates of the inhabitants. He describes
it also as built upon little islands like Venice, and has twelve thousand
stone bridges, [343] the arches of which are so high that the largest
vessels can pass under them without lowering their masts. It has, he
affirms, three thousand baths, and six hundred thousand families,
including domestics. It abounds with magnificent houses, and has a lake
thirty miles in circuit within its walls, on the banks of which are
superb palaces of people of rank. [344] The inhabitants of Qninsai are
very voluptuous, and indulge in all kinds of luxuries and delights,
particularly the women, who are extremely beautiful. There are many
merchants and artisans, but the masters do not work, they employ servants
to do all their labor. The province of Mangi was conquered by the Great
Khan, who divided it into nine kingdoms, appointing to each a tributary
king. He drew from it an immense revenue, for the country abounded in
gold, silver, silks, sugar, spices, and perfumes.

Zipangu, Zifangri, or Cipango.

Fifteen hundred miles from the shores of Mangi, according to Marco Polo,
lay the great island of Zipangu, by some written Zipangri, and by Columbus
Cipango. [345] Marco Polo describes it as abounding in gold,
which, however, the king seldom permits to be transported out of the
island.--The king has a magnificent palace covered with plates of gold, as
in other countries the palaces are covered with sheets of lead or copper.
The halls and chambers are likewise covered with gold, the windows adorned
with it, sometimes in plates of the thickness of two fingers. The island
also produces vast quantities of the largest and finest pearls, together
with a variety of precious stones; so that, in fact, it abounds in riches.
The Great Khan made several attempts to conquer this island, but in vain;
which is not to be wondered at, if it be true what Marco Polo relates,
that the inhabitants had certain stones of a charmed virtue inserted
between the skin and the flesh of their right arms, which, through the
power of diabolical enchantments, rendered them invulnerable. This island
was an object of diligent search to Columbus.

About the island of Zipangu or Cipango, and between it and the coast of
Mangi, the sea, according to Marco Polo, is studded with small islands to
the number of seven thousand four hundred and forty, of which the greater
part are inhabited. There is not one which does not produce odoriferous
trees and perfumes in abundance Columbus thought himself at one time in
the midst of these islands.

These are the principal places described by Marco Polo, which occur in the
letters and journals of Columbus. The island of Cipango was the first land
he expected to make, and he intended to visit afterwards the province of
Mangi, and to seek the Great Khan in his city of Cambalu, in the province
of Cathay. Unless the reader can bear in mind these sumptuous descriptions
of Marco Polo, of countries teeming with wealth, and cities where the very
domes and palaces flamed with gold, he will have but a faint idea of the
splendid anticipations which filled the imagination of Columbus when he
discovered, as he supposed, the extremity of Asia. It was his confident
expectation of soon arriving at these countries, and realizing the
accounts of the Venetian, that induced him to hold forth those promises of
immediate wealth to the sovereigns, which caused so much disappointment,
and brought upon him the frequent reproach of exciting false hopes and
indulging in willful exaggeration.


Sir John Mandeville.

Next to Marco Polo, the travels of Sir John Mandeville, and his account
of the territories of the Great Khan along the coast of Asia, seem to have
been treasured up in the mind of Columbus.

Mandeville was born in the city of St. Albans. He was devoted to study
from his earliest childhood, and, after finishing his general education,
applied himself to medicine. Having a great desire to see the remotest
parts of the earth, then known, that is to say, Asia and Africa, and above
all, to visit the Holy Land, he left England in 1332, and passing through
France embarked at Marseilles. According to his own account, he visited
Turkey, Armenia, Egypt, Upper and Lower Lybia, Syria, Persia, Chaldea,
Ethiopia, Tartary, Amazonia,  and the Indies, residing in their principal
cities. But most he says he delighted in the Holy Land, where he remained
for a long time, examining it with the greatest minuteness, and
endeavoring to follow all the traces of our Saviour. After an absence of
thirty-four years he returned to England, but found himself forgotten and
unknown by the greater part of his countrymen, and a stranger in his
native place. He wrote a history of his travels in three languages,
English, French, and Latin, for he was master of many tongues. He
addressed his work to Edward III. His wanderings do not seem to have made
him either pleased with the world at large, or contented with his home. He
railed at the age, saying that there was no more virtue extant; that the
church was ruined; error prevalent among the clergy; simony upon the
throne; and, in a word, that the devil reigned triumphant. He soon
returned to the continent, and died at Liege in 1372. He was buried in the
abbey of the Gulielmites, in the suburbs of that city, where Ortelius, in
his Itinerarium Belgiæ, says that he saw his monument, on which was the
effigy, in stone, of a man with a forked beard and his hands raised
towards his head (probably folded as in prayer, according to the manner of
old tombs) and a lion at his feet. There was an inscription stating his
name, quality, and calling, (viz. professor of medicine,) that he was very
pious, very learned, and very charitable to the poor, and that after
having traveled over the whole world he had died at Liege. The people of
the convent showed also his spurs, and the housings of the horses which he
had ridden in his travels.

The descriptions given by Mandeville of the Grand Khan, of the province of
Cathay, and the city of Cambalu, are no less splendid than those of Marco
Polo. The royal palace was more than two leagues in circumference. The
grand hall had twenty-four columns of copper and gold. There were more
than three hundred thousand men occupied and living in and about the
palace, of which more than one hundred thousand were employed in taking
care of ten thousand elephants and of a vast variety of other animals,
birds of prey, falcons, parrots, and paroquets. On days of festivals there
were even twice the number of men employed. The title of this potentate in
his letters was "Khan, the son of God, exalted possessor of all the earth,
master of those who are masters of others." On his seal was engraved, "God
reigns in heaven, Khan upon earth."

Mandeville has become proverbial for indulging in a traveler's
exaggerations; yet his accounts of the countries which he visited have
been found far more veracious than had been imagined. His descriptions of
Cathay, and the wealthy province of Mangi, agreeing with those of Marco
Polo, had great authority with Columbus.


The Zones.

The zones were imaginary bands or circles in the heavens producing an
effect of climate on corresponding belts on the globe of the earth. The
polar circles and the tropics mark these divisions.

The central region, lying beneath the track of the sun, was termed the
torrid zone; the two regions between the tropics and the polar circles
were termed the temperate zones, and the remaining parts, between the
porlar circles and the poles, the frigid zones.

The frozen regions near the poles were considered uninhabitable and
unnavigable on account of the extreme cold. The burning zone, or rather
the central part of it, immediately about the equator, was considered
uninhabitable, unproductive, and impassable in consequence of the
excessive heat. The temperate zones, lying between them, were supposed to
be fertile and salubrious, and suited to the purposes of life.

The globe was divided into two hemispheres by the equator, an imaginary
line encircling it at equal distance from the poles. The whole of the
world known to the ancients was contained in the temperate zone of the
northern hemisphere.

It was imagined that if there should be inhabitants in the temperate zone
of the southern hemisphere, there could still be no communication with
them on account of the burning zone which intervened.

Parmenides, according to Strabo, was the inventor of this theory of the
five zones, but he made the torrid zone extend on each side of the equator
beyond the tropics. Aristotle supported this doctrine of the zones. In his
time nothing was known of the extreme northern parts of Europe and Asia,
nor of interior Ethiopia and the southern part of Africa, extending beyond
the tropic of Capricorn to the Cape of Good Hope. Aristotle believed that
there was habitable earth in the southern hemisphere, but that it was for
ever divided from the part of the world already known, by the impassable
zone of scorching heat at the equator. [346]

Pliny supported the opinion of Aristotle concerning the burning zones.
"The temperature of the central region of the earth," he observes, "where
the sun runs his course, is burnt up as with fire. The temperate zones
which lie on either side can have no communication with each other in
consequence of the fervent heat of this region." [347]

Strabo, (lib. xi.,) in mentioning this theory, gives it likewise his
support; and others of the ancient philosophers, as well as the poets,
might be cited to show the general prevalence of the belief.

It must be observed that, at the time when Columbus defended his
proposition before the learned board at Salamanca, the ancient theory of
the burning zone had not yet been totally disproved by modern discovery.
The Portuguese, it is true, had penetrated within the tropics; but, though
the whole of the space between the tropic of Cancer and that of Capricorn,
in common parlance, was termed the torrid zone, the uninhabitable and
impassable part, strictly speaking, according to the doctrine of the
ancients, only extended a limited number of degrees on each side of the
equator; forming about a third, or, at most, the half of the zone. The
proofs which Columbus endeavored to draw therefore from the voyages made
to St. George la Mina, were not conclusive with those who were bigoted to
the ancient theory, and who placed this scorching region still farther
southward, and immediately about the equator.


Of the Atlantis of Plato.

The island Atalantis is mentioned by Plato in his dialogue of Timæus.
Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, is supposed to have traveled into Egypt. He
is in an ancient city on the Delta, the fertile island formed by the Nile,
and is holding converse with certain learned priests on the antiquities of
remote ages, when one of them gives him a description of the island of
Atalantis, and of its destruction, which he describes as having taken
place before the conflagration of the world by Phæton.

This island, he was told, had been situated on the Western Ocean, opposite
to the Straits of Gibraltar. There was an easy passage from it to other
islands, which lay adjacent to a large continent, exceeding in size all
Europe and Asia. Neptune settled in this island, from whose son Atlas its
name was derived, and he divided it among his ten sons. His descendants
reigned here in regular succession for many ages. They made irruptions
into Europe and Africa, subduing all Libya as far as Egypt, and Europe to
Asia Minor. They were resisted, however, by the Athenians, and driven back
to their Atlantic territories. Shortly after this there was a tremendous
earthquake, and an overflowing of the sea, which continued for a day and a
night. In the course of this the vast island of Atalantis, and all its
splendid cities and warlike nations, were swallowed up, and sunk to the
bottom of the sea, which, spreading its waters over the chasm, formed the
Atlantic Ocean. For a long time, however, the sea was not navigable, on
account of rocks and shelves, of mud and slime, and of the ruins of that
drowned country.

Many, in modern times, have considered this a mere fable; others suppose
that Plato, while in Egypt, had received some vague accounts of the Canary
Islands, and, on his return to Greece, finding those islands so entirely
unknown to his countrymen, had made them the seat of his political and
moral speculations. Some, however, have been disposed to give greater
weight to this story of Plato. They imagine that such an island may really
have existed filling up a great part of the Atlantic, and that the
continent beyond it was America, which, in such case, was not unknown to
the ancients. Kircher supposes it to have been an island extending from
the Canaries to the Azores; that it was really ingulfed in one of the
convulsions of the globe, and that those small islands are mere shattered
fragments of it.

As a farther proof that the New World was not unknown to the ancients,
many have cited the singular passage in the Medea of Seneca, which is
wonderfully apposite, and shows, at least, how nearly the warm imagination
of a poet may approach to prophecy. The predictions of the ancient oracles
were rarely so unequivocal.

                   Venient annis
  Sæcula seris, quilms Oceanus
  Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
  Patent tellus, Typhisque novos
  Detegat orbes, nee sit terris
  Ultima Thule.

Gosselin in his able research into the voyages of the ancients, supposes
the Atalantis of Plato to have been nothing more nor less than one of the
nearest of the Canaries, viz. Fortaventura or Lancerote.

No. XXV.

The Imaginary Island of St. Brandan.

One of the most singular geographical illusions on record is that which
for a long while haunted the imaginations of the inhabitants of the
Canaries. They fancied they beheld a mountainous island about ninety
leagues in length, lying far to the westward. It was only seen at
intervals, but in perfectly clear and serene weather. To some it seemed
one hundred leagues distant, to others forty, to others only fifteen or
eighteen. [348]On attempting to reach it, however, it somehow or other
eluded the search, and was nowhere to be found. Still there were so many
eye-witnesses of credibility who concurred in testifying to their having
seen it, and the testimony of the inhabitants of different islands agreed
so well as to its form and position, that its existence was generally
believed, and geographers inserted it in their maps. It is laid down on
the globe of Martin Behem, projected in 1492, as delineated by M. De Murr,
and it will be found in most of the maps of the time of Columbus, placed
commonly about two hundred leagues west of the Canaries. During the time
that Columbus was making his proposition to the court of Portugal, an
inhabitant of the Canaries applied to king John II for a vessel to go in
search of this island. In the archives of the Torre do Tombo [349] also,
there is a record of a contract made by the crown of Portugal with
Fernando de Ulmo, cavalier of the royal household, and captain of the
island of Tercera, wherein he undertakes to go at his own expense, in
quest of an island or islands, or Terra Firma, supposed to be the island
of the Seven Cities, on condition of having jurisdiction over the same
for himself and his heirs, allowing one tenth of the revenues to the king.
This Ulmo, finding the expedition above his capacity, associated one Juan
Alfonso del Estreito in the enterprise. They were bound to be ready to
sail with two caravels in the month of March, 1487. [350]  The fate of
their enterprise is unknown.

The name of St. Brandan, or Borondon, given to this imaginary island from
time immemorial, is said to be derived from a Scotch abbot, who flourished
in the sixth century, and who is called sometimes by the foregoing
appellations, sometimes St. Blandano, or St. Blandanus. In the Martyrology
of the order of St. Augustine, he is said to have been the patriarch of
three thousand monks. About the middle of the sixth century, he
accompanied his disciple, St. Maclovio, or St. Malo, in search of certain
islands possessing the delights of paradise, which they were told existed
in the midst of the ocean, and were inhabited by infidels. These most
adventurous saints-errant wandered for a long time upon the ocean, and at
length landed upon an island called Ima. Here St. Malo found the body of a
giant lying in a sepulchre. He resuscitated him, and had much interesting
conversation with him, the giant informing him that the inhabitants of
that island had some notions of the Trinity, and, moreover, giving him a
gratifying account of the torments which Jews and Pagans suffered in the
infernal regions. Finding the giant so docile and reasonable, St. Malo
expounded to him the doctrines of the Christian religion, converted him,
and baptized him by the name of Mildum. The giant, however, either through
weariness of life, or eagerness to enjoy the benefits of his conversion,
begged permission, at the end of fifteen days, to die again, which was
granted him.

According to another account, the giant told them he knew of an island in
the ocean, defended by walls of burnished gold, so resplendent that they
shone like crystal, but to which there was no entrance. At their request,
he undertook to guide them to it, and taking the cable of their ship,
threw himself into the sea. He had not proceeded far, however, when a
tempest rose, and obliged them all to return, and shortly after the giant
died. [351]  A third legend makes the saint pray to heaven on Easter day,
that they may be permitted to find land where they may celebrate the
offices of religion with becoming state. An island immediately appears,
on which they land, perform a solemn mass, and the sacrament of the
Eucharist; after which re-embarking and making sail, they behold to their
astonishment the supposed island suddenly plunge to the bottom of the sea,
being nothing else than a monstrous whale. [352] When the rumor circulated
of an island seen from the Canaries, which always eluded the search, the
legends of St. Brandan were revived, and applied to this unapproachable
land. We are told, also, that there was an ancient Latin manuscript in the
archives of the cathedral church of the Grand Canary, in which the
adventures of these saints were recorded. Through carelessness, however,
this manuscript has disappeared. [353] Some have maintained that this
island was known to the ancients, and was the same mentioned by Ptolemy
among the Fortunate or Canary islands, by the names of Aprositus, [354] or
the Inaccessible; and which, according to friar Diego Philipo, in his book
on the Incarnation of Christ, shows that it possessed the same quality in
ancient times of deluding the eye and being unattainable to the feet of
mortals. [355] But whatever belief the ancients may have had on this
subject, it is certain that it took a strong hold on the faith of the
moderns during the prevalent rage for discovery; nor did it lack abundant
testimonials. Don Joseph de Viera y Clavijo says, there never was a more
difficult paradox nor problem in the science of geography; since, to
affirm the existence of this island, is to trample upon sound criticism,
judgment, and reason; and to deny it, one must abandon tradition and
experience, and suppose that many persons of credit had not the proper
use of their senses. [356]

The belief in this island has continued long since the time of Columbus.
It was repeatedly seen, and by various persons at a time, always in the
same place and of the same form. In 1526 an expedition set off for the
Canaries in quest of it, commanded by Fernando de Troya and Fernando
Alvarez. They cruised in the wonted direction, but in vain, and their
failure ought to have undeceived the public. "The phantasm of the island,
however," says Viera, "had such a secret enchantment for all who beheld
it, that the public preferred doubting the good conduct of the explorers,
than their own senses." In 1570 the appearances were so repeated and
clear, that there was a universal fever of curiosity awakened among the
people of the Canaries, and it was determined to send forth another

That they might not appear to act upon light grounds, an exact
investigation was previously made of all the persons of talent and
credibility who had seen these apparitions of land, or who had other
proofs of its existence.

Alonzo de Espinosa, governor of the island of Ferro, accordingly made a
report, in which more than one hundred witnesses, several of them persons
of the highest respectability, deposed that they had beheld the unknown
island about forty leagues to the northwest of Ferro; that they had
contemplated it with calmness and certainty, and had seen the sun set
behind one of its points.

Testimonials of still greater force came from the islands of Palma and
Teneriffe. There were certain Portuguese who affirmed, that, being driven
about by a tempest, they had come upon the island of St. Borondon. Pedro
Vello, who was the pilot of the vessel, affirmed, that having anchored in
a bay, he landed with several of the crew. They drank fresh water in a
brook, and beheld in the sand the print of footsteps, double the size of
those of an ordinary man, and the distance between them was in proportion.
They found a cross nailed to a neighboring tree; near to which were three
stones placed in form of a triangle, with signs of fire having been made
among them, probably to cook shell-fish. Having seen much cattle and sheep
grazing in the neighborhood, two of their party armed with lances went
into the woods in pursuit of them. The night was approaching, the heavens
began to lower, and a harsh wind arose. The people on board the ship cried
out that she was dragging her anchor, whereupon Vello entered the boat and
hurried on board. In an instant they lost sight of land; being as it were
swept away in the hurricane. When the storm had passed away, and the sea
and sky were again serene, they searched in vain for the island; not a
trace of it was to be seen, and they had to pursue their voyage, lamenting
the loss of their two companions who had been abandoned in the wood.

A learned licentiate, Pedro Ortiz de Funez, inquisitor of the Grand
Canary, while on a visit at Teneriffe, summoned several persons before
him, who testified having seen the island. Among them was one Marcos
Verde, a man well known in those parts. He stated that in returning from
Barbary and arriving in the neighborhood of the Canaries, he beheld land,
which, according to his maps and calculations, could not be any of the
known islands. He concluded it to be the far-famed St. Borondon. Overjoyed
at having discovered this land of mystery, he coasted along its spell-bound
shores, until he anchored in a beautiful harbor formed by the mouth of a
mountain ravine. Here he landed with several of his crew. It was now,
he said, the hour of the Ave Maria, or of vespers. The sun being set, the
shadows began to spread over the land. The voyagers having separated,
wandered about in different directions, until out of hearing of each
other's shouts. Those on board, seeing the night approaching, made signal
to summon back the wanderers to the ship. They re-embarked, intending to
resume their investigations on the following day. Scarcely were they on
board, however, when a whirlwind came rushing down the ravine, with such
violence as to drag the vessel from her anchor, and hurry her out to sea;
and they never saw any thing more of this hidden and inhospitable island.

Another testimony remains on record in manuscript of one Abreu Galindo;
but whether taken at this time does not appear. It was that of a French
adventurer, who, many years before, making a voyage among the Canaries,
was overtaken by a violent storm which carried away his masts. At length
the furious winds drove him to the shores of an unknown island covered
with stately trees. Here he landed with part of his crew, and choosing a
tree proper for a mast, cut it down, and began to shape it for his
purpose. The guardian power of the island, however, resented as usual this
invasion of his forbidden shores. The heavens assumed a dark and
threatening aspect; the night was approaching, and the mariners, fearing
some impending evil, abandoned their labor and returned on board. They
were borne away as usual from the coast, and the next day arrived at the
island of Palma. [358]

The mass of testimony collected by official authority in 1750 seemed so
satisfactory, that another expedition was fitted out in the same year in
the island of Palma. It was commanded by Fernando de Villabolos, regidor
of the island; but was equally fruitless with the preceding. St. Borondon
seemed disposed only to tantalize the world with distant and serene
glimpses of his ideal paradise; or to reveal it amidst storms to
tempest-tossed mariners, but to hide it completely from the view of all
who diligently sought it. Still the people of Palma adhered to their
favorite chimera. Thirty-four years afterwards, in 1605, they sent another
ship on the quest, commanded by Gaspar Perez de Acosta, an accomplished
pilot, accompanied by the padre Lorenzo Pinedo, a holy Franciscan friar,
skilled in natural science. St. Borondon, however, refused to reveal his
island to either monk or mariner. After cruising about in every direction,
sounding, observing the skies, the clouds, the winds, every thing that
could furnish indications, they returned without having seen any thing to
authorize a hope.

Upwards of a century now elapsed without any new attempt to seek this
fairy island. Every now and then, it is true, the public mind was agitated
by fresh reports of its having been seen. Lemons and other fruits, and the
green branches of trees which floated to the shores of Gomera and Ferro,
were pronounced to be from the enchanted groves of St. Borondon. At
length, in 1721, the public infatuation again rose to such a height that a
fourth expedition was sent, commanded by Don Caspar Dominguez, a man of
probity and talent. As this was an expedition of solemn and mysterious
import, he had two holy friars as apostolical chaplains. They made sail
from the island of Teneriffe towards the end of October, leaving the
populace in an indescribable state of anxious curiosity mingled with
superstition. The ship, however, returned from its cruise as unsuccessful
as all its predecessors.

We have no account of any expedition being since undertaken, though the
island still continued to be a subject of speculation, and occasionally to
reveal its shadowy mountains to the eyes of favored individuals. In a
letter written from the island of Gomera, 1759, by a Franciscan monk, to
one of his friends, he relates having seen it from the village of Alaxero
at six in the morning of the third of May. It appeared to consist of two
lofty mountains, with a deep valley between; and on contemplating it with
a telescope, the valley or ravine appeared to be filled with trees. He
summoned the curate Antonio Joseph Manrique, and upwards of forty other
persons, all of whom beheld it plainly. [359]

Nor is this island delineated merely in ancient maps of the time of
Columbus. It is laid down as one of the Canary islands in a French map
published in 1704; and Mons. Gautier, in a geographical chart, annexed to
his Observations on Natural History, published in 1755, places it five
degrees to the west of the island of Ferro, in the 29th deg. of N.
latitude. [360]

Such are the principal facts existing relative to the island of St.
Brandan: Its reality was for a long time a matter of firm belief. It was
in vain that repeated voyages and investigations proved its nonexistence;
the public, after trying all kinds of sophistry, took refuge in the
supernatural, to defend their favorite chimera. They maintained that it
was rendered inaccessible to mortals by Divine Providence, or by
diabolical magic. Most inclined to the former. All kinds of extravagant
fancies were indulged concerning it; [361] some confounded it with the
fabled island of the Seven Cities situated somewhere in the bosom of the
ocean, where in old times seven bishops and their followers had taken
refuge from the Moors. Some of the Portuguese imagined it to be the abode
of their lost king Sebastian. The Spaniards pretended that Roderick, the
last of their Gothic kings, had fled thither from the Moors after the
disastrous battle of the Guadalete. Others suggested that it might be the
seat of the terrestrial paradise, the place where Enoch and Elijah
remained in a state of blessedness until the final day; and that it was
made at times apparent to the eyes, but invisible to the search of
mortals. Poetry, it is said, has owed to this popular belief one of its
beautiful fictions, and the garden of Armida, where Rinaldo was detained
enchanted, and which Tasso places in one of the Canary islands, has been
identified with the imaginary St. Borondon. [362]

The learned father Feyjoo [363] has given a philosophical solution to
this geographical problem. He attributes all these appearances, which
have been so numerous and so well authenticated as not to admit of doubt,
to certain atmospherical deceptions, like that of the Fata Morgana, seen
at times, in the straits of Messina, where the city of Reggio and its
surrounding country is reflected in the air above the neighboring sea: a
phenomenon which has likewise been witnessed in front of the city of
Marseilles. As to the tales of the mariners who had landed on these
forbidden shores, and been hurried thence in whirlwinds and tempests, he
considers them as mere fabrications.

As the populace, however, reluctantly give up any thing that partakes of
the marvelous and mysterious, and as the same atmospherical phenomena,
which first gave birth to the illusion, may still continue, it is not
improbable that a belief in the island of St. Brandan may still exist
among the ignorant and credulous of the Canaries, and that they at times
behold its fairy mountains rising above the distant horizon of the


The Island of the Seven Cities.

One of the popular traditions concerning the ocean, which were current
during the time of Columbus, was that of the Island of the Seven Cities.
It was recorded in an ancient legend, that at the time of the conquest of
Spain and Portugal by the Moors, when the inhabitants fled in every
direction to escape from slavery, seven bishops, followed by a great
number of their people, took shipping and abandoned themselves to their
fate, on the high seas. After tossing about for some time, they landed on
an unknown island in the midst of the ocean. Here the bishops burnt the
ships, to prevent the desertion of their followers, and founded seven
cities. Various pilots of Portugal, it was said, had reached that island
at different times, but had never returned to give any information
concerning it, having been detained, according to subsequent accounts, by
the successors of the bishops to prevent pursuit. At length, according to
common report, at the time that prince Henry of Portugal was prosecuting
his discoveries, several seafaring men presented themselves one day before
him, and stated that they had just returned from a voyage, in the course
of which they had landed upon this island. The inhabitants, they said,
spoke their language, and carried them immediately to church, to ascertain
whether they were Catholics, and were rejoiced at finding them of the true
faith. They then made earnest inquiries, to know whether the Moors still
retained possession of Spain and Portugal. While part of the crew were at
church, the rest gathered sand on the shore for the use of the kitchen,
and found to their surprise that one-third of it was gold. The islanders
were anxious that the crew should remain with them a few days, until the
return of their governor, who was absent; but the mariners, afraid of
being detained, embarked and made sail. Such was the story they told to
prince Henry, hoping to receive reward for their intelligence. The prince
expressed displeasure at their hasty departure from the island, and
ordered them to return and procure further information; but the men,
apprehensive, no doubt, of having the falsehood of their tale discovered,
made their escape, and nothing more was heard of them. [364]

This story had much currency. The Island of the Seven Cities was
identified with the island mentioned by Aristotle as having been
discovered by the Carthaginians, and was put down in the early maps about
the time of Columbus, under the name of Antilla.

At the time of the discovery of New Spain, reports were brought to
Hispaniola of the civilization of the country; that the people wore
clothing; that their houses and temples were solid, spacious, and often
magnificent; and that crosses were occasionally found among them. Juan de
Grivalja, being dispatched to explore the coast of Yucatan, reported that
in sailing along it he beheld, with great wonder, stately and beautiful
edifices of lime and stone, and many high towers that shone at a distance.
[365] For a time the old tradition of the Seven Cities was revived, and
many thought that they were to be found in the same part of New Spain.


Discovery of the Island of Madeira.

The discovery of Madeira by Macham rests principally upon the authority of
Francisco Alcaforado, an esquire of prince Henry of Portugal, who composed
an account of it for that prince. It does not appear to have obtained much
faith among Portuguese historians. No mention is made of it in Barros; he
attributes the first discovery of the island to Juan Gonzalez and Tristram
Vaz, who he said descried it from Porto Santo, resembling a cloud on the
horizon. [366]

The abbé Provost, however, in his general history of voyages, vol. 6,
seems inclined to give credit to the account of Alcaforado. "It was
composed," he observes, "at a time when the attention of the public would
have exposed the least falsities; and no one was more capable than
Alcaforado of giving an exact detail of this event, since he was of the
number of those who assisted at the second discovery." The narrative, as
originally written, was overcharged with ornaments and digressions. It was
translated into French and published in Paris, in 1671. The French
translator had retrenched the ornaments, but scrupulously retained the
facts. The story, however, is cherished in the island of Madeira, where a
painting in illustration of it is still to be seen. The following is the
purport of the French translation: I have not been able to procure the
original of Alcaforado.

During the reign of Edward the Third of England, a young man of great
courage and talent, named Robert Macham, fell in love with a young lady of
rare beauty, of the name of Anne Dorset. She was his superior in birth,
and of a proud and aristocratic family; but the merit of Macham gained him
the preference over all his rivals. The family of the young lady, to
prevent her making an inferior alliance, obtained an order from the king
to have Macham arrested and confined, until by arbitrary means they
married his mistress to a man of quality. As soon as the nuptials were
celebrated, the nobleman conducted his beautiful and afflicted bride to
his seat near Bristol. Macham was now restored to liberty. Indignant at
the wrongs he had suffered, and certain of the affections of his mistress,
he prevailed upon several friends to assist him in a project for the
gratification of his love and his revenge. They followed hard on the
traces of the new-married couple to Bristol. One of the friends obtained
an introduction into the family of the nobleman in quality of a groom. He
found the young bride full of tender recollections of her lover, and of
dislike to the husband thus forced upon her. Through the means of this
friend, Macham had several communications with her, and concerted means
for their escape to France, where they might enjoy their mutual love

When all things were prepared, the young lady rode out one day accompanied
only by the fictitious groom, under pretence of taking the air. No sooner
were they out of sight of the house, than they galloped to an appointed
place on the shore of the channel, where a boat awaited them. They were
conveyed on board a vessel which lay with anchor a-trip, and sails
unfurled, ready to put to sea. Here the lovers were once more united.
Fearful of pursuit, the ship immediately weighed anchor; they made their
way rapidly along the coast of Cornwall, and Macham anticipated the
triumph of soon landing with his beautiful prize on the shores of gay and
gallant France. Unfortunately an adverse and stormy wind arose in the
night; at daybreak they found themselves out of sight of land. The
mariners were ignorant and inexperienced; they knew nothing of the
compass, and it was a time when men were unaccustomed to traverse the high
seas. For thirteen days the lovers were driven about on a tempestuous
ocean, at the mercy of wind and wave. The fugitive bride was filled with
terror and remorse, and looked upon this uproar of the elements as the
anger of heaven directed against her. All the efforts of her lover could
not remove from her mind a dismal presage of some approaching catastrophe.

At length the tempest subsided. On the fourteenth day, at dawn, the
mariners perceived what appeared to be a tuft of wood rising out of the
sea. They joyfully steered for it, supposing it to be an island. They were
not mistaken. As they drew near, the rising sun shone upon noble forests,
the trees of which were of a kind unknown to them. Flights of birds also
came hovering about the ship, and perched upon the yards and rigging
without any signs of fear. The boat was sent on shore to reconnoitre, and
soon returned with such accounts of the beauty of the country, that Macham
determined to take his drooping companion to the land, in hopes her health
and spirits might be restored by refreshment and repose. They were
accompanied on shore by the faithful friends who had assisted in their
flight. The mariners remained on board to guard, the ship.

The country was indeed delightful. The forests were stately and
magnificent; there were trees laden with excellent fruits, others with
aromatic flowers; the waters were cool and limpid, the sky was serene, and
there was a balmy sweetness in the air. The animals they met with showed
no signs of alarm or ferocity, from which they concluded that the island
was uninhabited. On penetrating a little distance they found a sheltered
meadow, the green bosom of which was bordered by laurels and refreshed by
a mountain brook which ran sparkling over pebbles. In the centre was a
majestic tree, the wide branches of which afforded shade from the rays of
the sun. Here Macham had bowers constructed and determined to pass a few
days, hoping that the sweetness of the country, and the serene
tranquillity of this delightful solitude, would recruit the drooping
health and spirits of his companion. Three days, however, had scarcely
passed, when a violent storm arose from the northeast, and raged all night
over the island. On the succeeding morning Macham repaired to the sea-side,
but nothing of his ship was to be seen, and he concluded that it had
foundered in the tempest.

Consternation fell upon the little band, thus left in an uninhabited
island in the midst of the ocean. The blow fell most severely on the timid
and repentant bride. She reproached herself with being the cause of all
their misfortunes, and, from the first, had been haunted by dismal
forebodings. She now considered them about to be accomplished, and her
horror was so great as to deprive her of speech; she expired in three days
without uttering a word.

Machnm was struck with despair at beholding the tragical end of this
tender and beautiful being. He upbraided himself, in the transports of his
grief, with tearing her from home, her country, and her friends, to perish
upon a savage coast. All the efforts of his companions to console him were
in vain. He died within five days, broken-hearted; begging, as a last
request, that his body might be interred beside that of his mistress, at
the foot of a rustic altar which they had erected under the great tree.
They set up a large wooden cross on the spot, on which was placed an
inscription written by Macham himself, relating in a few words his piteous
adventure, and praying any Christians who might arrive there, to build a
chapel in the place dedicated to Jesus the Saviour.

After the death of their commander, his followers consulted about means to
escape from the island. The ship's boat remained on the shore. They
repaired it and put it in a state to bear a voyage, and then made sail,
intending to return to England. Ignorant of their situation, and carried
about by the winds, they were cast upon the coast of Morocco, where, their
boat being shattered upon the rocks, they were captured by the Moors and
thrown into prison. Here they understood that their ship had shared the
same fate, having been driven from her anchorage in the tempest, and
carried to the same inhospitable coast, where all her crew were made

The prisons of Morocco were in those days filled with captives of all
nations, taken by their cruisers. Here the English prisoners met with an
experienced pilot, a Spaniard of Seville, named Juan de Morales. He
listened to their story with great interest; inquired into the situation
and description of the island they had discovered; and, subsequently, on
his redemption from prison, communicated the circumstances, it is said, to
prince Henry of Portugal.

There is a difficulty in the above narrative of Alcaforado in reconciling
dates. The voyage is said to have taken place during the reign of Edward
III, which commenced in 1327 and ended in 1378. Morales, to whom the
English communicated their voyage, is said to have been in the service of
the Portuguese, in the second discovery of Madeira, in 1418 and 1420. Even
if the voyage and imprisonment had taken place in the last year of king
Edward's reign, this leaves a space of forty years.

Hacluyt gives an account of the same voyage, taken from Antonio Galvano.
He varies in certain particulars. It happened, he says, in the year 1344,
in the time of Peter IV of Aragon. Macham cast anchor in a bay since
called, after him, Machio.

The lady being ill, he took her on shore, accompanied by some of his
friends, and the ships sailed without them. After the death of the lady,
Macham made a canoe out of a tree, and ventured to sea in it with his
companions. They were cast upon the coast of Africa, where the Moors,
considering it a kind of miracle, carried him to the king of their
country, who sent him to the king of Castile. In consequence of the
traditional accounts remaining of this voyage, Henry II of Castile sent
people, in 1395, to re-discover the island.


Las Casas.

Bartholomew Las Casas, bishop of Chiapa, so often cited in all histories
of the New World, was born at Seville, in 1474, and was of French
extraction. The family name was Casaus. The first of the name who appeared
in Spain, served under the standard of Ferdinand III, surnamed the saint,
in his wars with the Moors of Andalusia. He was at the taking of Seville
from the Moors, when he was rewarded by the king, and received permission
to establish himself there. His descendants enjoyed the prerogatives of
nobility, and suppressed the letter u in their name, to accommodate it to
the Spanish tongue.

Antonio, the father of Bartholomew, went to Hispaniola with Columbus in
1493, and returned rich to Seville in 1498. [367] It has been stated by
one of the biographers of Bartholomew Las Casas, that he accompanied
Columbus in his third voyage in 1498, and returned with him in 1500. [368]
This, however, is incorrect. He was, during that time, completing his
education at Salamanca, where he was instructed in Latin, dialectics,
logic, metaphysics, ethics, and physics, after the supposed method and
system of Aristotle. While at the university, he had, as a servant, an
Indian slave, given him by his father, who had received him from Columbus.
When Isabella, in her transport of virtuous indignation, ordered the
Indian slaves to be sent back to their country, this one was taken from
Las Casas. The young man was aroused by the circumstance, and, on
considering the nature of the case, became inflamed with a zeal in favor
of the unhappy Indians, which never cooled throughout a long and active
life. It was excited to tenfold fervor, when, at about the age of
twenty-eight years, he accompanied the commander Ovando to Hispaniola in
1502, and was an eye-witness to many of the cruel scenes which took place
under his administration. The whole of his future life, a space exceeding
sixty years, was devoted to vindicating the cause, and endeavoring to
meliorate the sufferings of the natives. As a missionary, he traversed the
wilderness of the New World in various directions, seeking to convert and
civilize them; as a protector and champion, he made several voyages to
Spain, vindicated their wrongs before courts and monarchs, wrote volumes
in their behalf, and exhibited a zeal, and constancy, and intrepidity
worthy of an apostle. He died at the advanced age of ninety-two years, and
was buried at Madrid, in the church of the Dominican convent of Atocha, of
which fraternity he was a member.

Attempts have been made to decry the consistency and question the real
philanthropy of Las Casas, in consequence of one of the expedients to
which he resorted to relieve the Indians from the cruel bondage imposed
upon them. This occurred in 1517, when he arrived in Spain, on one of his
missions, to obtain measures in their favor from the government. On his
arrival in Spain, he found cardinal Ximenes, who had been left regent on
the death of King Ferdinand, too ill to attend to his affairs. He
repaired, therefore, to Valladolid, where he awaited the coming of the new
monarch Charles, archduke of Austria, afterwards the emperor Charles V. He
had strong opponents to encounter in various persons high in authority,
who, holding estates and repartimientos in the colonies, were interested
in the slavery of the Indians. Among these, and not the least animated,
was the bishop Fonseca, president of the council of the Indies.

At length the youthful sovereign arrived, accompanied by various Flemings
of his court, particularly his grand chancellor, doctor Juan de Selvagio,
a learned and upright man, whom he consulted on all affairs of
administration and justice. Las Casas soon became intimate with the
chancellor, and stood high in his esteem; but so much opposition arose on
every side that he found his various propositions for the relief of the
natives but little attended to. In his doubt and anxiety he had now
recourse to an expedient which he considered as justified by the
circumstances of the case. [369] The chancellor Selvagio and other
Flemings who had accompanied the youthful sovereign had obtained from him,
before quitting Flanders, licenses to import slaves from Africa to the
colonies; a measure which had recently in 1516 been prohibited by a decree
of cardinal Ximenes while acting as regent. The chancellor, who was a
humane man, reconciled it to his conscience by a popular opinion that one
negro could perform, without detriment to his health, the labor of several
Indians, and that therefore it was a great saving of human suffering. So
easy is it for interest to wrap itself up in plausible argument! He might,
moreover, have thought the welfare of the Africans but little affected by
the change. They were accustomed to slavery in their own country, and they
were said to thrive in the New World. "The Africans," observes Herrera,
"prospered so much in the island of Hispaniola, that it was the opinion
unless a negro should happen to be hanged, he would never die; for as yet
none had been known to perish from infirmity. Like oranges, they found
their proper soil in Hispaniola, and it seemed ever more natural to them
than their native Guinea." [370]

Las Casas, finding all other means ineffectual, endeavored to turn these
interested views of the grand chancellor to the benefit of the Indians. He
proposed that the Spaniards, resident in the colonies, might be permitted
to procure negroes for the labor of the farms and the mines, and other
severe toils, which were above the strength and destructive of the lives
of the natives. [371] He evidently considered the poor Africans as little
better than mere animals; and he acted like others, on an arithmetical
calculation of diminishing human misery, by substituting one strong man
for three or four of feebler nature. He, moreover, esteemed the Indians
as a nobler and more intellectual race of beings, and their preservation
and welfare of higher importance to the general interests of humanity.

It is this expedient of Las Casas which has drawn down severe censure upon
his memory. He has been charged with gross inconsistency, and even with
having originated this inhuman traffic in the New World. This last is a
grievous charge; but historical facts and dates remove the original sin
from his door, and prove that the practice existed in the colonies, and
was authorized by royal decree, long before he took a part in the

Las Casas did not go to the New World until 1502. By a royal ordinance
passed in 1501, negro slaves were permitted to be taken there, provided
they had been born among Christians. [372] By a letter written by Ovando,
dated 1503, it appears that there were numbers in the island of
Hispaniola at that time, and he entreats that none more might be
permitted to be brought.

In 1506 the Spanish government forbade the introduction of negro slaves
from the Levant, or those brought up with the Moors; and stipulated that
none should be taken to the colonies but those from Seville, who had been
instructed in the Christian faith, that they might contribute to the
conversion of the Indians. [373] In 1510, king Ferdinand, being informed
of the physical weakness of the Indians, ordered fifty Africans to be
sent from Seville to labor in the mines. [374] In 1511, he ordered that
a great number should be procured from Guinea, and transported to
Hispaniola, understanding that one negro could perform the work of four
Indians. [375] In 1512 and '13 he signed further orders relative to the
same subject. In 1516, Charles V granted licenses to the Flemings to
import negroes to the colonies. It was not until the year 1517, that Las
Casas gave his sanction of the traffic. It already existed, and he
countenanced it solely with a view to having the hardy Africans
substituted for the feeble Indians. It was advocated at the same time,
and for the same reasons, by the Jeronimite friars, who were missionaries
in the colonies. The motives of Las Casas were purely benevolent, though
founded on erroneous notions of justice. He thought to permit evil that
good might spring out of it; to choose between two existing abuses, and
to eradicate the greater by resorting to the lesser. His reasoning,
however fallacious it may be, was considered satisfactory and humane by
some of the most learned and benevolent men of the age, among whom was
the cardinal Adrian, afterwards elevated to the papal chair, and
characterized by gentleness and humanity. The traffic was permitted;
inquiries were made as to the number of slaves required, which was
limited to four thousand, and the Flemings obtained a monopoly of the
trade, which they afterwards farmed out to the Genoese.

Dr. Eobertson, in noticing this affair, draws a contrast between the
conduct of the cardinal Ximenes and that of Las Casas, strongly to the
disadvantage of the latter. "The cardinal," he observes, "when solicited
to encourage this commerce, peremptorily rejected the proposition, because
he perceived the iniquity of reducing one race of men to slavery, when he
was consulting about the means of restoring liberty to another; but Las
Casas, from the inconsistency natural to men who hurry with headlong
impetuosity towards a favorite point, was incapable of making this
distinction. In the warmth of his zeal to save the Americans from the
yoke, he pronounced it to be lawful and expedient to impose one still
heavier on the Africans." [376] This distribution of praise and censure is
not perfectly correct. Las Casas had no idea that he was imposing a
heavier, nor so heavy, a yoke upon the Africans. The latter were
considered more capable of labor, and less impatient of slavery. While the
Indians sunk under their tasks, and perished by thousands in Hispaniola,
the negroes, on the contrary, thrived there. Herrera, to whom Dr.
Robertson refers as his authority, assigns a different motive, and one of
mere finance, for the measures of cardinal Ximenes. He says that he
ordered that no one should take negroes to the Indies, because, as the
natives were decreasing, and it was known that one negro did more work
than four of them, there would probably be a great demand for African
slaves, and a tribute might be imposed upon the trade, from which would
result profit to the royal treasury. [377] This measure was presently
after carried into effect, though subsequent to the death of the
cardinal, and licenses were granted by the sovereign for pecuniary
considerations. Flechier, in his life of Ximenes, assigns another but a
mere political motive for this prohibition. The cardinal, he says,
objected to the importation of negroes into the colonies, as he feared
they would corrupt the natives, and by confederacies with them render
them formidable to government. De Marsolier, another biographer of Ximenes,
gives equally politic reasons for this prohibition. He cites a letter
written by the cardinal on the subject, in which he observed that he knew
the nature of the negroes; they were a people capable, it was true, of
great fatigue, but extremely prolific and enterprising; and that if they
had time to multiply in America, they would infallibly revolt, and impose
on the Spaniards the same chains which they had compelled them to wear.
[378] These facts, while they take from the measure of the cardinal that
credit for exclusive philanthropy which has been bestowed upon it,
manifest the clear foresight of that able politician; whose predictions
with respect to negro revolt have been so strikingly fulfilled in the
island of Hispaniola.

Cardinal Ximenes, in fact, though a wise and upright statesman, was not
troubled with scruples of conscience on these questions of natural right;
nor did he possess more toleration than his contemporaries towards savage
and infidel nations. He was grand inquisitor of Spain, and was very
efficient during the latter years of Ferdinand in making slaves of the
refractory Moors of Granada. He authorized, by express instructions,
expeditions to seize and enslave the Indians of the Caribbee islands, whom
he termed only suited to labor, enemies of the Christians, and cannibals.
Nor will it be considered a proof of gentle or tolerant policy, that he
introduced the tribunal of the inquisition into the New World. These
circumstances are cited not to cast reproach upon the character of
cardinal Ximenes, but to show how incorrectly he has been extolled at the
expense of Las Casas. Both of them must be judged in connection with the
customs and opinions of the age in which they lived.

Las Casas was the author of many works, but few of which have been
printed. The most important is a general history of the Indies, from the
discovery to the year 1520, in three volumes. It exists only in
manuscript, but is the fountain from which Herrera, and most of the other
historians of the New World, have drawn large supplies. The work, though
prolix, is valuable, as the author was an eye-witness of many of the
facts, had others from persons who were concerned in the transactions
recorded, and possessed copious documents. It displays great erudition,
though somewhat crudely and diffusely introduced. His history was
commenced in 1527, at fifty-three years of age, and was finished in 1559,
when eighty-five. As many things are set down from memory, there is
occasional inaccuracy, but the whole bears the stamp of sincerity and
truth. The author of the present work, having had access to this valuable
manuscript, has made great use of it, drawing forth many curious facts
hitherto neglected; but he has endeavored to consult it with caution and
discrimination, collating it with other authorities, and omitting whatever
appeared to be dictated by prejudice or over-heated zeal.

Las Casas has been accused of high coloring and extravagant declamation in
those passages which relate to the barbarities practised on the natives;
nor is the charge entirely without foundation. The same zeal in the cause
of the Indians is expressed in his writings that shone forth in his
actions, always pure, often vehement, and occasionally unseasonable.
Still, however, where he errs it is on a generous and righteous side. If
one-tenth part of what he says he "witnessed with his own eyes" be true,
and his veracity is above all doubt, he would have been wanting in the
natural feelings of humanity had he not expressed himself in terms of
indignation and abhorrence.

In the course of his work, when Las Casas mentions the original papers
lying before him, from which he drew many of his facts, it makes one
lament that they should be lost to the world. Besides the journals and
letters of Columbus, he says he had numbers of the letters of the
Adelantado, Don Bartholomew, who wrote better than his brother, and whose
writings must have been full of energy. Above all, he had the map formed
from study and conjecture, by which Columbus sailed on his first voyage.
What a precious document would this be for the world! These writings may
still exist, neglected and forgotten among the rubbish of some convent in
Spain. Little hope can be entertained of discovering them in the present
state of degeneracy of the cloister. The monks of Atocha, in a recent
conversation with one of the royal princes, betrayed an ignorance that
this illustrious man was buried in their convent, nor can any of the
fraternity point out his place of sepulture to the stranger. [379]

The publication of this work of Las Casas has not been permitted in Spain,
where every book must have the sanction of a censor before it is committed
to the press. The horrible picture it exhibits of the cruelties inflicted
on the Indians, would, it was imagined, excite an odium against their
conquerors. Las Casas himself seems to have doubted the expediency of
publishing it; for in 1560 he made a note with his own hand, which is
preserved in the two first volumes of the original, mentioning that he
left them in confidence to the college of the order of Predicators of St.
Gregorio, in Valladolid, begging of its prelates that no secular person,
nor even the collegians, should be permitted to read his history for the
space of forty years; and that after that term it might be printed if
consistent with the good of the Indies and of Spain. [380]

For the foregoing reason the work has been cautiously used by Spanish
historians, passing over in silence, or with brief notice, many passages
of disgraceful import. This feeling is natural, if not commendable; for
the world is not prompt to discriminate between individuals and the nation
of whom they are but a part. The laws and regulations for the government
of the newly-discovered countries, and the decisions of the council of the
Indies on all contested points, though tinctured in some degree with the
bigotry of the age, were distinguished for wisdom, justice, and humanity,
and do honor to the Spanish nation. It was only in the abuse of them by
individuals to whom the execution of the laws was intrusted, that these
atrocities were committed. It should be remembered, also, that the same
nation which gave birth to the sanguinary and rapacious adventurers who
perpetrated these cruelties, gave birth likewise to the early
missionaries, like Las Casas, who followed the sanguinary course of
discovery, binding up the wounds inflicted by their countrymen; men who in
a truly evangelical spirit braved all kinds of perils and hardships, and
even death itself, not through a prospect of temporal gain or glory, but
through a desire to meliorate the condition and save the souls of
barbarous and suffering nations. The dauntless enterprises and fearful
peregrinations of many of these virtuous men, if properly appreciated,
would be found to vie in romantic daring with the heroic achievements of
chivalry, with motives of a purer and far more exalted nature.


Peter Martyr.

Peter Martir, or Martyr, of whose writings much use has been made in this
history, was born at Anghierra, in the territory of Milan, in Italy, on
the second of February, 1455. He is commonly termed Peter Martyr of
_Angleria_, from the Latin name of his native place. He is one of the
earliest historians that treat of Columbus, and was his contemporary and
intimate acquaintance. Being at Rome in 1487, and having acquired a
distinguished reputation for learning, he was invited by the Spanish
ambassador, the count de Tendilla, to accompany him to Spain. He willingly
accepted the invitation, and was presented to the sovereigns at Saragossa.
Isabella, amidst the cares of the war with Granada, was anxious for the
intellectual advancement of her kingdom, and wished to employ Martyr to
instruct the young nobility of the royal household. With her peculiar
delicacy, however, she first made her confessor, Hernando de Talavera,
inquire of Martyr in what capacity he desired to serve her. Contrary to
her expectation, Martyr replied, "in the profession of arms." The queen
complied, and he followed her in her campaigns, as one of her household
and military suite, but without distinguishing himself, and perhaps
without having any particular employ in a capacity so foreign to his
talents. After the surrender of Granada, when the war was ended, the
queen, through the medium of the grand cardinal of Spain, prevailed upon
him to undertake the instruction of the young nobles of her court.

Martyr was acquainted with Columbus while making his application to the
sovereigns, and was present at his triumphant reception by Ferdinand and
Isabella in Barcelona, on his return from his first voyage. He was
continually in the royal camp during the war with the Moors, of which his
letters contain many interesting particulars. He was sent ambassador
extraordinary by Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1501, to Venice, and thence to
the grand soldan of Egypt. The soldan, in 1490 or 1491, had sent an
embassy to the Spanish sovereigns, threatening that, unless they desisted
from the war against Granada, he would put all the Christians in Egypt and
Syria to death, overturn all their temples, and destroy the holy sepulchre
at Jerusalem. Ferdinand and Isabella pressed the war with tenfold energy,
and brought it to a triumphant conclusion in the next campaign, while the
soldan was still carrying on a similar negotiation with the pope. They
afterwards sent Peter Martyr ambassador to the soldan to explain and
justify their measure. Martyr discharged the duties of his embassy with
great ability; obtained permission from the soldan to repair the holy
places at Jerusalem, and an abolition of various extortions to which
Christian pilgrims had been subjected. While on this embassy, he wrote his
work Do Legatione Babylonica, which includes a history of Egypt in those

On his return to Spain, he was rewarded with places and pensions, and in
1524 was appointed a minister of the council of the Indies. His principal
work is an account of the discoveries of the New World, in eight decades,
each containing ten chapters. They are styled Decades of the New World, or
Decades of the Ocean, and, like all his other works, were originally
written in Latin, though since translated into various languages. He had
familiar access to letters, papers, journals, and narratives of the early
discoverers, and was personally acquainted with many of them, gathering
particulars from their conversation. In writiug his Decades, he took great
pains to obtain information from Columbus himself, and from others, his

In one of his epistles, (No. 153, January, 1494, to Pomponius Lætus,) he
mentions having just received a letter from Columbus, by which it appears
he was in correspondence with him. Las Casas says that great credit is to
be given to him in regard to those voyages of Columbus, although his
Decades contain some inaccuracies relative to subsequent events in the
Indies. Muñoz allows him great credit, as an author contemporary with his
subject, grave, well cultivated, instructed in the facts of which he
treats, and of entire probity. He observes, however, that his writings
being composed on the spur or excitement of the moment, often related
circumstances which subsequently proved to be erroneous; that they were
written without method or care, often confusing dates and events, so that
they must be read with some caution.

Martyr was in the daily habit of writing letters to distinguished persons,
relating the passing occurrences of the busy court and age in which he
lived. In several of these Columbus is mentioned, and also some of the
chief events of his voyages, as promulgated at the very moment of his
return. These letters not being generally known or circulated, or
frequently cited, it may be satisfactory to the reader to have a few of
the main passages which relate to Columbus. They have a striking effect in
carrying us back to the very time of the discoveries.

In one of his epistles, dated Barcelona, Mny 1st, 1493, and addressed to
C. Borromeo, he says: "Within these few days a certain Christopher
Columbus has arrived from the western antipodes; a man of Liguria, whom my
sovereigns reluctantly intrusted with three ships, to seek that region,
for they thought that what he said was fabulous. He has returned and
brought specimens of many precious things, but particularly gold, which
those countries naturally produce." [381]

In another letter, dated likewise from Barcelona, in September following,
he gives a more particular account. It is addressed to count Tendilla,
governor of Granada, and also to Hernando Talavera, archbishop of that
diocese, and the same to whom the propositions of Columbus had been
referred by the Spanish sovereigns. "Arouse your attention, ancient
sages," says Peter Martyr in his epistle; "listen to a new discovery. You
remember Columbus the Ligurian, appointed in the camp by our sovereigns to
search for a new hemisphere of land at the western antipodes. You ought to
recollect, for you had some agency in the transaction; nor would the
enterprise, as I think, have been undertaken, without your counsel. He has
returned in safety, and relates the wonders he has discovered. He exhibits
gold as proofs of the mines in those regions; Gossampine cotton, also, and
aromatics, and pepper more pnngent than that from Caucasus. All these
things, together with scarlet dye-woods, the earth produces spontaneously.
Pursuing the western sun from Gades five thousand miles, of each a
thousand paces, as he relates, he fell in with sundry islands, and took
possession of one of them, of greater circuit, he asserts, than the whole
of Spain. Here he found a race of men living contented, in a state of
nature, subsisting on fruits and vegetables, and bread formed from
roots.... These people have kings, some greater than others, and they war
occasionally among themselves, with bows and arrows, or lances sharpened
and hardened in the fire. The desire of command prevails among them,
though they are naked. They have wives also. What they worship except the
divinity of heaven, is not ascertained."  [382]

In another letter, dated likewise in September, 1403, and addressed to the
cardinal and vice-chancellor Ascanius Sforza, he says:

"So great is my desire to give you satisfaction, illustrious prince, that
I consider it a gratifying occurrence in the great fluctuations of events,
when any thing takes place among us, in which you may take an interest.
The wonders of this terrestrial globe, round which the sun makes a circuit
in the space of four and twenty hours, have, until our time, as you are
well aware, been known only in regard to one hemisphere, merely from the
Golden Chersonesus to our Spanish Gades. The rest has been given up as
unknown by cosmographers, and if any mention of it has been made, it has
been slight and dubious. But now, O blessed enterprise! under the auspices
of our sovereigns, what has hitherto lain hidden since the first origin of
things, has at length begun to be developed. The thing has thus
occurred--attend, illustrious prince! A certain Christopher Columbus, a
Ligurian, dispatched to those regions with three vessels by my sovereigns,
pursuing the western sun above five thousand miles from Gades, achieved
his way to the antipodes. Three and thirty successive days they navigated
with naught but sky and water. At length from the mast-head of the largest
vessel, in which Columbus himself sailed, those on the look-out proclaimed
the sight of land. He coasted along six islands, one of them, as all his
followers declare, beguiled perchance by the novelty of the scene, is
larger than Spain."

Martyr proceeds to give the usual account of the productions of the
islands, and the manners and customs of the natives, particularly the wars
which occurred among them; "as if _meum_ and _tuum_ had been
introduced among them as among us, and expensive luxuries, and the desire
of accumulating wealth; for what, you will think, can be the wants of
naked men?" "What farther may succeed," he adds, "I will hereafter
signify. Farewell." [383]

In another letter, dated Valladolid, February 1, 1494, to Hernando de
Talavera, archbishop of Granada, he observes, "The king and queen, on the
return of Columbus to Barcelona, from his honorable enterprise, appointed
him admiral of the ocean sea, and caused him, on account of his
illustrious deeds, to be seated in their presence, an honor and a favor,
as you know, the highest with our sovereigns. They have dispatched him
again to those regions, furnished with a fleet of eighteen ships. There is
prospect of great discoveries at the western antarctic antipodes."

In a subsequent letter to Pomponius Lætus, dated from Alcala de Henares,
December 9th, 1494, he gives the first news of the success of this

"Spain," says he, "is spreading her wings, augmenting her empire, and
extending her name and glory to the antipodes.... Of eighteen vessels
dispatched by my sovereigns with the admiral Columbus, in his second
voyage to the western hemisphere, twelve have returned and have brought
Gossampine cotton, huge trees of dye-wood, and many other articles held
with us as precious, the natural productions of that hitherto hidden
world; and besides all other things, no small quantity of gold. O
wonderful, Pomponius! Upon the surface of that earth are found rude masses
of native gold, of a weight that one is afraid to mention. Some weigh two
hundred and fifty ounces, and they hope to discover others of a much
larger size, from what the naked natives intimate, when they extol their
gold to our people. Nor are the Lestrigonians nor Polyphemi, who feed on
human flesh, any longer doubtful. Attend--but beware! lest they rise in
horror before thee! When he proceeded from the Fortunate islands, now
termed the Canaries, to Hispaniola, the island on which he first set foot,
turning his prow a little toward the south, he arrived at innumerable
islands of savage men, whom they call cannibals, or Caribbees; and these,
though naked, are courageous warriors. They fight skillfully with bows and
clubs, and have boats hollowed from a single tree, yet very capacious, in
which they make fierce descents on neighboring islands, inhabited by
milder people. They attack their villages, from which they carry off the
men and devour them," &c. [385]

Another letter to Pomponius Lætus, on the same subject, has been cited at
large in the body of this work. It is true these extracts give nothing
that has not been stated more at large in the Decades of the same author,
but they are curious, as the very first announcements of the discoveries
of Columbus, and as showing the first stamp of these extraordinary events
upon the mind of one of the most learned and liberal men of the age.

A collection of the letters of Peter Martyr was published in 1530, under
the title of Opus Epistolarum, Petri Martyris Anglerii; it is divided into
thirty-eight books, each containing the letters of one year. The same
objections have been made to his letters as to his Decades, but they bear
the same stamp of candor, probity, and great information. They possess
peculiar value from being written at the moment, before the facts they
record were distorted or discolored by prejudice or misrepresentation. His
works abound in interesting particulars not to be found in any
contemporary historian. They are rich in thought, but still richer in
fact, and are full of urbanity, and of the liberal feeling of a scholar
who has mingled with the world. He is a fountain from which others draw,
and from which, with a little precaution, they may draw securely. He died
in Valladolid, in 1526.

No. XXX.


Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes, commonly known as Oviedo, was born
in Madrid in 1478, and died in Valladolid in 1557, aged seventy-nine
years. He was of a noble Austrian family, and in his boyhood (in 1490) was
appointed one of the pages to prince Juan, heir-apparent of Spain, the
only son of Ferdinand and Isabella. He was in this situation at the time
of the seige and surrender of Granada, was consequently at court at the
time that Columbus made his agreement with the Catholic sovereigns, and
was in the same capacity at Barcelona, and witnessed the triumphant
entrance of the discoverer, attended by a number of the natives of the
newly-found countries.

In 1513, he was sent out to the New World by Ferdinand, to superintend the
gold foundries. For many years he served there in various offices of trust
and dignity, both under Ferdinand and his grandson and successor, Charles
V. In 1535, he was made alcayde of the fortress of St. Domingo in
Hispaniola, and afterwards was appointed histomgrapher of the Indies. At
the time of his death, he had served the crown upwards of forty years,
thirty-four of which were passed in the colonies, and he had crossed the
ocean eight times, as he mentions in various parts of his writings. He
wrote several works; the most important is a chronicle of the Indies in
fifty books, divided into three parts. The first part, containing nineteen
books, was printed at Seville in 1535, and reprinted in 1547 at Salamanca,
augmented by a twentieth book containing shipwrecks. The remainder of the
work exists in manuscript. The printing of it was commenced at Valladolid
in 1557, but was discontinued in consequence of his death. It is one of
the unpublished treasures of Spanish colonial history.

He was an indefatigable writer, laborious in collecting and recording
facts, and composed a multitude of volumes which are scattered through the
Spanish libraries. His writings are full of events which happened under
his own eye, or were communicated to him by eyewitnesses; but he was
deficient in judgment and discrimination. He took his facts without
caution, and often from sources unworthy of credit. In his account of the
first voyage of Columbus, he falls into several egregious errors, in
consequence of taking the verbal information of a pilot named Hernan Perez
Matteo, who was in the interest of the Pinzons, and adverse to the
admiral. His work is not much to be depended upon in matters relative to
Columbus. When he treats of a more advanced period of the New World, from
his own actual observation, he is much more satisfactory, though he is
accused of listening too readily to popular fables and misrepresentations.
His account of the natural productions of the New World, and of the
customs of its inhabitants, is full of curious particulars; and the best
narratives of some of the minor voyages which succeeded those of Columbus
are to be found in the unpublished part of his work.


Cura de Los Palacios.

Andres Bernaldes, or Bernal, generally known by the title of the curate of
_Los Palacios_, from having been curate of the town of Los Palacios
from about 1488 to 1513, was born in the town of Fuentes, and was for some
time chaplain to Diego Dora, archbishop of Seville, one of the greatest
friends to the application of Columbus Bernaldes was well acquainted with
the admiral, who was occasionally his guest, and in 1496, left many of his
manuscripts and journals with him, which the curate made use of in a
history of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, in which he introduced an
account of the voyages of Columbus. In his narrative of the admiral's
coasting along the southern side of Cuba, the curate is more minute and
accurate than any other historian. His work exists only in manuscript, but
is well known to historians, who have made frequent use of it. Nothing can
be more simple and artless than the account which the honest curate gives
of his being first moved to undertake his chronicle. "I who wrote these
chapters of memoirs," he says, "being for twelve years in the habit of
reading a register of my deceased grandfather, who was notary public of
the town of Fuentes, where I was born, I found therein several chapters
recording certain events and achievements which had taken place in his
time; and my grandmother his widow, who was very old, hearing me read
them, said to me, 'And thou, my son, since thou art not slothful in
writing, why dost thou not write, in this manner, the good things which
are happening at present in thy own day, that those who come hereafter may
know them, and marvelling at what they read, may render thanks to God?'

"From that time," continues he, "I proposed to do so, and as I considered
the matter, I said often to myself,' if God gives me life and health, I
will continue to write until I behold the kingdom of Granada gained by the
Christians;' and I always entertained a hope of seeing it, and did see it:
great thanks and praises be given to our Saviour Jesus Christ! And because
it was impossible to write a complete and connected account of all things
that happened in Spain, during the matrimonial union of the king Don
Ferdinand, and the queen Doña Isabella, I wrote only about certain of the
most striking and remarkable events, of which I had correct information,
and of those which I saw or which were public and notorious to all men."

The work of the worthy curate, as may be inferred from the foregoing
statement, is deficient in regularity of plan; the style is artless and
often inelegant, but it abounds in facts not to be met with elsewhere,
often given in a very graphical manner, and strongly characteristic of the
times. As he was contemporary with the events and familiar with many of
the persons of his history, and as he was a man of probity and void of all
pretension, his manuscript is a document of high authenticity. He was much
respected in the limited sphere in which he moved, "yet," says one of his
admirers, who wrote a short preface to his chronicle, "he had no other
reward than that of the curacy of Los Palacios, and the place of chaplain
to the archbishop Don Diego Deza."

In the possession of O. Rich, Esq., of Madrid, is a very curious
manuscript chronicle of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, already
quoted in this work, made up from this history of the curate of Los
Palacios, and from various other historians of the times, by some
contemporary writer. In his account of the voyage of Columbus, he differs
in some trivial particulars from the regular copy of the manuscript of the
curate. These variations have been carefully examined by the author of
this work, and wherever they appear to be for the better, have been


"Navigatione del Re de Castiglia delle Isole e Paese Nuovamente

"Naviagatio Chrisophori Colombi."

The above are the titles, in Italian and in Latin, of the earliest
narratives of the first and second voyages of Columbus that appeared in
print. It was anonymous; and there are some curious particulars in regard
to it. It was originally written in Italian by Montalbodo Fracanzo, or
Fracanzano, or by Francapano de Montabaldo, (for writers differ in regard
to the name,) and was published in Vicenza, in 1507, in a collection of
voyages, entitled "Mondo Novo, e Paese Nuovamente Ritrovate." The
collection was republished at Milan, in 1508, both in Italian, and in a
Latin translation made by Archangelo Madrignano, under the title of
"Itinerarium Portugallensium;" this title being given, because the work
related chiefly to the voyages of Luigi Cadamosto, a Venetian in the
service of Portugal.

The collection was afterwards augmented by Simon Grinæns with other
travels, and printed in Latin at Basle, in 1533, [387] by Hervagio,
entitled "Novus Orbis Regionum," &c. The edition of Basle, 1555, and the
Italian edition of Milan, in 1508, have been consulted in the course of
this work.

Peter Martyr (Decad. 2, Cap. 7,) alludes to this publication, under the
first Latin title of the book, "Itinerarium Portugallensium," and accuses
the author, whom by mistake he terms Cadamosto, of having stolen the
materials of his book from the three first chapters of his first Decade of
the Ocean, of which, he says, he granted copies in manuscript to several
persons, and in particular to certain Venetian ambassadors. Martyr's
Decades were not published until 1516, excepting the first three, which
were published in 1511, at Seville.

This narrative of the voyages of Columbus is referred to by Gio. Batista
Spotorno, in his historical memoir of Columbus, as having been written by
a companion of Columbus.

It is manifest, from a perusal of the narrative, that though the author
may have helped himself freely from the manuscript of Martyr, he must have
had other sources of information. His description of the person of
Columbus as a man tall of stature and large of frame, of a ruddy
complexion and oblong visage, is not copied from Martyr, nor from any
other writer. No historian had, indeed, preceded him, except Sabellicus,
in 1504; and the portrait agrees with that subsequently given of Columbus
in the biography written by his son.

It is probable that this narrative, which appeared only a year after the
death of Columbus, was a piece of literary job-work, written, for the
collection of voyages published at Vicenza; and that the materials were
taken from oral communication, from the account given by Sabellicus, and
particularly from the manuscript copy of Martyr's first decade.


Antonio de Herrera.

Antonio Herrera de Tordesillas, one of the authors most frequently cited
in this work, was born in 1565, of Roderick Tordesillas, and Agnes de
Herrera, his wife. He received an excellent education, and entered into
the employ of Vespasian Gonzago, brother to the duke of Mantua, who was
viceroy of Naples for Philip the Second of Spain. He was for some time
secretary to this statesman, and intrusted with all his secrets. He was
afterwards grand historiographer of the Indies to Philip II, who added to
that title a large pension. He wrote various books, but the most
celebrated is a General History of the Indies, or American Colonies, in
four volumes, containing eight decades. When he undertook this work, all
the public archives were thrown open to him, and he had access to
documents of all kinds. He has been charged with great precipitation in
the production of his two first volumes, and with negligence in not making
sufficient use of the indisputable sources of information thus placed
within his reach. The fact was, that he met with historical tracts lying
in manuscript, which embraced a great part of the first discoveries, and
he contented himself with stating events as he found them therein
recorded. It is certain that a great part of his work is little more than
a transcript of the manuscript history of the Indies by Las Casas,
sometimes reducing and improving the language when tumid; omitting the
impassioned sallies of the zealous father, when the wrongs of the Indians
were in question; and suppressing various circumstances degrading to the
character of the Spanish discoverers. The author of the present work has,
therefore, frequently put aside the history of Herrera, and consulted the
source of his information, the manuscript history of Las Casas.

Munoz observes, that "in general Herrera did little more than join
together morsels and extracts, taken from various parts, in the way that a
writer arranges chronologically the materials from which he intends to
compose a history;" he adds, that "had not Herrera been a learned and
judicious man, the precipitation with which he put together these
materials would have led to innumerable errors." The remark is just; yet
it is to be considered, that to select and arrange such materials
judiciously, and treat them learnedly, was no trifling merit in the

Herrera has been accused also of flattering his nation; exalting the deeds
of his countrymen, and softening and concealing their excesses. There is
nothing very serious in this accusation. To illustrate the glory of his
nation is one of the noblest offices of the historian; and it is difficult
to speak too highly of the extraordinary enterprises and splendid actions
of the Spaniards in those days. In softening their excesses he fell into
an amiable and pardonable error, if it were indeed an error for a Spanish
writer to endeavor to sink them in oblivion.

Vossius passes a high eulogium on Herrera. "No one," he says, "has
described with greater industry and fidelity the magnitude and boundaries
of provinces, the tracts of sea, positions of capes and islands, of ports
and harbors, the windings of rivers and dimensions of lakes; the situation
and peculiarities of regions, with the appearance of the heavens, and the
designation of places suitable for the establishment of cities." He has
been called among the Spaniards the prince of the historians of America,
and it is added that none have risen since his time capable of disputing
with him that title. Much of this praise will appear exaggerated by such
as examine the manuscript histories from which he transferred chapters
and entire books, with very little alteration, to his volumes; and a great
part of the eulogiums passed on him for his work on the Indies, will be
found really due to Las Casas, who has too long been eclipsed by his
copyist. Still Herrera has left voluminous proofs of industrious research,
extensive information, and great literary talent. His works bear the mark
of candor, integrity, and a sincere desire to record the truth.

He died in 1625, at sixty years of age, after having obtained from Philip
IV the promise of the first charge of secretary of state that should
become vacant.


Bishop Fonseca.

The singular malevolence displayed by bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca
towards Columbus and his family, and which was one of the secret and
principal causes of their misfortunes, has been frequently noticed in the
course of this work. It originated, as has been shown, in some dispute
between the admiral and Fonseca at Seville in 1493, on account of the
delay in fitting out the armament for the second voyage, and in regard to
the number of domestics to form the household of the admiral. Fonseca
received a letter from the sovereigns, tacitly reproving him, and ordering
him to show all possible attention to the wishes of Columbus, and to see
that he was treated with honor and deference. Fonseca never forgot this
affront, and, what with him was the same thing, never forgave it. His
spirit appears to have been of that unhealthy kind which has none of the
balm of forgiveness; and in which a wound, once made, for ever rankles.
The hostility thus produced continued with increasing virulence throughout
the life of Columbus, and at his death was transferred to his son and
successor. This persevering animosity has been illustrated in the course
of this work by facts and observations, cited from authors, some of them
contemporary with Fonseca, but who were apparently restrained by motives
of prudence from giving full vent to the indignation which they evidently
felt. Even at the present day, a Spanish historian would be cautious of
expressing his feelings freely on the subject, lest they should prejudice
his work in the eyes of the ecclesiastical censors of the press. In this
way, bishop Fonseca has in a great measure escaped the general odium his
conduct merited.

This prelate had the chief superintendence of Spanish colonial affairs,
both under Ferdinand and Isabella and the emperor Charles V. He was an
active and intrepid, but selfish, overbearing, and perfidious man. His
administration bears no marks of enlarged and liberal policy; but is full
of traits of arrogance and meanness. He opposed the benevolent attempts of
Las Casas to ameliorate the condition of the Indians, and to obtain the
abolition of repartimientos; treating him with personal haughtiness and
asperity. [388] The reason assigned is that Fonseca was enriching himself
by those very abuses, retaining large numbers of the miserable Indians in
slavery, to work on his possessions in the colonies.

To show that his character has not been judged with undue severity, it is
expedient to point out his invidious and persecuting conduct towards
Hernando Cortez. The bishop, while ready to foster rambling adventurers
who came forward under his patronage, had never the head or the heart to
appreciate the merits of illustrious commanders like Columbus and Cortez.

At a time when disputes arose between Cortez and Diego Velazquez, governor
of Cuba, and the latter sought to arrest the conqueror of Mexico in the
midst of his brilliant career, Fonseca, with entire disregard of the
merits of the case, took a decided part in favor of Velazquez. Personal
interest was at the bottom of this favor; for a marriage was negotiating
between Velazquez and a sister of the bishop. [389] Complaints and
misrepresentations had been sent to Spain by Velazquez of the conduct of
Cortez, who was represented as a lawless and unprincipled adventurer,
attempting to usurp absolute authority in New Spain. The true services of
Cortez had already excited admiration at court, but such was the influence
of Fonseca, that, as in the case of Columbus, he succeeded in prejudicing
the mind of the sovereign against one of the most meritorious of his
subjects. One Christoval de Tapia, a man destitute of talent or character,
but whose greatest recommendation was his having been in the employ of
the bishop, [390] was invested with powers similar to those once given to
Bobadilla to the prejudice of Columbus. He was to inquire into the conduct
of Cortez, and in case he thought fit, to seize him, sequestrate his
property, and supersede him in command. Not content with the regular
official letters furnished to Tapia, the bishop, shortly after his
departure, sent out Juan Bono de Quexo with blank letters signed by his
own hand, and with others directed to various persons, charging them to
admit Tapia for governor, and assuring them that the king considered the
conduct of Cortez as disloyal. Nothing but the sagacity and firmness of
Cortez prevented this measure from completely interrupting, if not
defeating, his enterprises; and he afterwards declared, that he had
experienced more trouble and difficulty from the menaces and affronts of
the ministers of the king than it cost him to conquer Mexico. [391]

When the dispute between Cortez and Velazquez came to be decided upon in
Spain, in 1522, the father of Cortez, and those who had come from New
Spain as his procurators, obtained permission from cardinal Adrian, at
that time governor of the realm, to prosecute a public accusation of the
bishop. A regular investigation took place before the council of the
Indies of their allegations against its president. They charged him with
having publicly declared Cortez a traitor and a rebel: with having
intercepted and suppressed his letters addressed to the king, keeping his
majesty in ignorance of their contents and of the important services he
had performed, while he diligently forwarded all letters calculated to
promote the interest of Velazquez: with having prevented the
representations of Cortez from being heard in the council of the Indies,
declaring that they should never be heard there while he lived: with
having interdicted the forwarding of arms, merchandise, and reinforcements
to New Spain: and with having issued orders to the office of the India
House at Seville to arrest the procurators of Cortez and all persons
arriving from him, and to seize and detain all gold that they should
bring. These and various other charges of similar nature were
dispassionately investigated. Enough were substantiated to convict Fonseca
of the most partial, oppressive, and perfidious conduct, and the cardinal
consequently forbade him to interfere in the cause between Cortez and
Velazquez, and revoked all the orders which the bishop had issued, in the
matter, to the India House of Seville. Indeed, Salazar, a Spanish
historian, says that Fonseca was totally divested of his authority as
president of the council, and of all control of the affiairs of New Spain,
and adds that he was so mortified at the blow, that it brought on a fit of
illness, which well nigh cost him his life. [392]

The suit between Cortez and Velazquez was referred to a special tribunal,
composed of the grand chancellor and other persons of note, and was
decided in 1522. The influence and intrigues of Fonseca being no longer of
avail, a triumphant verdict was given in favor of Cortez, which was
afterwards confirmed by the emperor Charles V, and additional honors
awarded him. This was another blow to the malignant Fonseca, who retained
his enmity against Cortez until his last moment, rendered still more
rancorous by mortification and disappointment.

A charge against Fonseca, of a still darker nature than any of the
preceding, may be found lurking in the pages of Herrera, though so obscure
as to have escaped the notice of succeeding historians. He points to the
bishop as the instigator of a desperate and perfidious man, who conspired
against the life of Hernando Cortez. This was one Antonio de Villafana,
who fomented a conspiracy to assassinate Cortez, and elect Francisco
Verdujo, brother-in-law of Velazquez, in his place. While the conspirators
were waiting for an opportunity to poniard Cortez, one of them relenting,
apprised him of his danger. Villafana was arrested. He attempted to
swallow a paper containing a list of the conspirators, but being seized by
the throat, a part of it was forced from his mouth containing fourteen
names of persons of importance, Villafafia confessed his guilt, but
tortures could not make him inculpate the persons whose names were on the
list, who he declared were ignorant of the plot. He was hanged by order of
Cortez. [393]

In the investigation of the disputes between Cortez and Velazquez, this
execution of Villafana was magnified into a cruel and wanton act of power;
and in their eagerness to criminate Cortez the witnesses on the part of
Alvarez declared that Villafana had been instigated to what he had done by
letters from bishop Fonseca! (Que se movió a lo que hizo con cartas del
obispo de Burgos. [394]) It is not probable that Fonseca had recommended
assassination, but it shows the character of his agents, and what must
have been the malignant nature of his instructions, when these men thought
that such an act would accomplish his wishes.

Fonseca died at Burgos, on the 4th of November, 1524, and was interred at


Of the Situation of the Terrestrial Paradise.

The speculations of Columbus on the situation of the terrestrial
paradise, extravagant as they may appear, were such as have occupied many
grave and learned men. A slight notice of their opinions on this curious
subject may be acceptable to the general reader, and may take from the
apparent wildness of the ideas expressed by Columbus.

The abode of our first parents was anciently the subject of anxious
inquiry; and indeed mankind have always been prone to picture some place
of perfect felicity, where the imagination, disappointed in the coarse
realities of life, might revel in an Elysium of its own creation. It is an
idea not confined to our religion, but is found in the rude creeds of the
most savage nations, and it prevailed generally among the ancients. The
speculations concerning the situation of the garden of Eden resemble those
of the Greeks concerning the garden of the Hesperides; that region of
delight, which they for ever placed at the most remote verge of the known
world; which their poets embellished with all the charms of fiction; after
which they were continually longing, and which they could never find. At
one time it was in the Grand Oasis of Arabia. The exhausted travelers,
after traversing the parched and sultry desert, hailed this verdant spot
with rapture; they refreshed themselves under its shady bowers, and beside
its cooling streams, as the crew of a tempest-tost vessel repose on the
shores of some green island in the deep; and from its being thus isolated
in the midst of an ocean of sand, they gave it the name of the Island of
the Blessed. As geographical knowledge increased, the situation of the
Hesperian gardens was continually removed to a greater distance. It was
transferred to the borders of the great Syrtis, in the neighborhood of
Mount Atlas. Here, after traversing the frightful deserts of Barca, the
traveler found himself in a fair and fertile country, watered by rivulets
and gushing fountains. The oranges and citrons transported hence to
Greece, where they were as yet unknown, delighted the Athenians by their
golden beauty and delicious flavor, and they thought that none but the
garden of the Hesperides could produce such glorious fruits. In this way
the happy region of the ancients was transported from place to place,
still in the remote and obscure extremity of the world, until it was
fabled to exist in the Canaries, thence called the Fortunate or the
Hesperian islands. Here it remained, because discovery advanced no
farther, and because these islands were so distant, and so little known,
as to allow full latitude to the fictions of the poet. [395]

In like manner the situation of the terrestrial paradise, or garden of
Eden, was long a subject of earnest inquiry and curious disputation, and
occupied the laborious attention of the most learned theologians. Some
placed it in Palestine or the Holy Land; others in Mesopotamia, in that
rich and beautiful tract of country embraced by the wanderings of the
Tigris and the Euphrates; others in Armenia, in a valley surrounded by
precipitous and inaccessible mountains, and imagined that Enoch and Elijah
were transported thither, out of the sight of mortals, to live in a state
of terrestrial bliss until the second coming of our Saviour. There were
others who gave it situations widely remote, such as in the Trapoban of
the ancients, at present known as the island of Ceylon; or in the island
of Sumatra; or in the Fortunate or Canary islands; or in one of the
islands of Sunda; or in some favored spot under the equinoctial line.

Great difficulty was encountered by these speculators to reconcile the
allotted place with the description given in Genesis of the garden of
Eden; particularly of the great fountain which watered it, and which
afterwards divided itself into four rivers, the Pison or Phison, the
Gihon, the Euphrates, and the Hiddekel. Those who were in favor of the
Holy Land supposed that the Jordan was the great river which afterwards
divided itself into the Phison, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates, but that the
sands have choked up the ancient beds by which these streams were
supplied; that originally the Phison traversed Arabia Deserta and Arabia
Felix, whence it pursued its course to the gulf of Persia; that the Gihon
bathed northern or stony Arabia and fell into the Arabian Gulf or the Red
Sea; that the Euphrates and the Tigris passed by Eden to Assyria and
Chaldea, whence they discharged themselves into the Persian Gulf.

By most of the early commentators the river Gihon is supposed to be the
Nile. The source of this river was unknown, but was evidently far distant
from the spots whence the Tigris and the Euphrates arose. This difficulty,
however, was ingeniously overcome by giving it a subterranean course of
some hundreds of leagues from the common fountain, until it issued forth
to daylight in Abyssinia. [396] In like manner, subterranean courses were
given to the Tigris and the Euphrates, passing under the Bed Sea, until
they sprang forth in Armenia, as if just issuing from one common source.
So also those who placed the terrestrial paradise in islands, supposed
that the rivers which issued from it, and formed those heretofore named,
either traversed the surface of the sea, as fresh water, by its greater
lightness, may float above the salt; or that they flowed through deep
veins and channels of the earth, as the fountain of Arethusa was said to
sink into the ground in Greece, and rise in the island of Sicily, while
the river Alpheus pursuing it, but with less perseverance, rose somewhat
short of it in the sea.

Some contended that the deluge had destroyed the garden of Eden, and
altered the whole face of the earth; so that the rivers had changed their
beds, and had taken different directions from those mentioned in Genesis;
others, however, amongst whom was St. Augustine, in his commentary upon
the book of Genesis, maintained that the terrestrial paradise still
existed, with its original beauty and delights, but that it was
inaccessible to mortals, being on the summit of a mountain of stupendous
height, reaching into the third region of the air, and approaching the
moon; being thus protected by its elevation from the ravages of the

By some this mountain was placed under the equinoctial line; or under that
band of the heavens metaphorically called by the ancients "the table of
the sun," [397] comprising the space between the tropics of Cancer and
Capricorn, beyond which the sun never passed in his annual course. Here
would reign a uniformity of nights and days and seasons, and the elevation
of the mountain would raise it above the heats and storms of the lower
regions. Others transported the garden beyond the equinoctial line and
placed it in the southern hemisphere; supposing that the torrid zone might
be the flaming sword appointed to defend its entrance against mortals.
They had a fanciful train of argument to support their theory. They
observed that the terrestrial paradise must be in the noblest and happiest
part of the globe; that part must be under the noblest part of the
heavens; as the merits of a place do not so much depend upon the virtues
of the earth, as upon the happy influences of the stars and the favorable
and benign aspect of the heavens. Now, according to philosophers, the
world was divided into two hemispheres. The southern they considered the
head, and the northern the feet, or under part; the right hand the east,
whence commenced the movement of the primum mobile, and the left the west,
towards which it moved. This supposed, they observed that as it was
manifest that the head of all things, natural and artificial, is always
the best and noblest part, governing the other parts of the body, so the
south, being the head of the earth, ought to be superior and nobler than
either east, or west, or north; and in accordance with this, they cited
the opinion of various philosophers among the ancients, and more
especially that of Ptolemy, that the stars of the southern hemisphere were
larger, more resplendent, more perfect, and of course of greater virtue
and efficacy, than those of the northern: an error universally prevalent
until disproved by modern discovery. Hence they concluded that in this
southern hemisphere, in this head of the earth, under this purer and
brighter sky, and these more potent and benignant stars, was placed the
terrestrial paradise.

Various ideas were entertained as to the magnitude of this blissful
region. As Adam and all his progeny were to have lived there, had he not
sinned, and as there would have been no such thing as death to thin the
number of mankind, it was inferred that the terrestrial paradise must be
of great extent to contain them. Some gave it a size equal to Europe or
Africa; others gave it the whole southern hemisphere. St. Augustine
supposed that as mankind multiplied, numbers would be translated without
death to heaven; the parents, perhaps, when their children had arrived at
mature age; or portions of the human race at the end of certain periods,
and when the population of the terrestrial paradise had attained a certain
amount. [398] Others supposed that mankind, remaining in a state of
primitive innocence, would not have required so much space as at present.
Having no need of rearing animals for subsistence, no land would have
been required for pasturage; and the earth not being cursed with
sterility, there would have been no need of extensive tracts of country
to permit of fallow land and the alternation of crops required in
husbandry. The spontaneous and never-failing fruits of the garden would
have been abundant for the simple wants of man. Still, that the human
race might not be crowded, but might have ample space for recreation and
enjoyment, and the charms of variety and change, some allowed at least a
hundred leagues of circumference to the garden.

St. Basilius, in his eloquent discourse on paradise, [399] expatiates with
rapture on the joys of this sacred abode, elevated to the third region of
the air, and under the happiest skies. There a pure and never-failing
pleasure is furnished to every sense. The eye delights in the admirable
clearness of the atmosphere, in the verdure and beauty of the trees, and
the never-withering bloom of the flowers. The ear is regaled with the
singing of the birds, the smell with the aromatic odors of the land. In
like manner the other senses have each their peculiar enjoyments. There
the vicissitudes of the seasons are unknown and the climate unites the
fruitfulness of summer, the joyful abundance of autumn, and the sweet
freshness and quietude of spring. There the earth is always green, the
flowers are ever blooming, the waters limpid and delicate, not rushing in
rude and turbid torrents, but swelling up in crystal fountains, and
winding in peaceful and silver streams. There no harsh and boisterous
winds are permitted to shake and disturb the air, and ravage the beauty of
the groves; there prevails no melancholy, nor darksome weather, no
drowning rain, nor pelting hail; no forked lightning, nor rending and
resounding thunder; no wintry pinching cold, nor withering and panting
summer heat; nor any thing else that can give pain or sorrow or annoyance;
but all is bland and gentle and serene; a perpetual youth and joy reigns
throughout all nature, and nothing decays and dies.

The same idea is given by St. Ambrosius, in his book on Paradise, [400] an
author likewise consulted and cited by Columbus. He wrote in the fourth
century, and his touching eloquence, and graceful yet vigorous style,
insured great popularity to his writings. Many of these opinions are cited
by Glanville, usually called Bartholomeus Anglicus, in his work De
Proprietatibus Rerum; a work with which Columbus was evidently acquainted.
It was a species of encyclopedia of the general knowledge current at the
time, and was likely to recommend itself to a curious and inquiring
voyager. This author cites an assertion as made by St. Basilius and St.
Ambrosius, that the water of the fountain which proceeds from the garden
of Eden falls into a great lake with such a tremendous noise that the
inhabitants of the neighborhood are born deaf; and that from this lake
proceed the four chief rivers mentioned in Genesis. [401]

This passage, however, is not to be found in the Hexameron of either
Basilius or Ambrositis, from which it is quoted; neither is it in the
oration on Paradise by the former, nor in the letter on the same subject
written by Ambrosius to Ainbrosins Sabinus. It must be a misquotation by
Glanville. Columbus, however, appears to have been struck with it, and Las
Casas is of opinion that he derived thence his idea that the vast body of
fresh water which filled the gulf of La Ballena or Paria, flowed from the
fountain of Paradise, though from a remote distance; and that in this
gulf, which he supposed in the extreme part of Asia, originated the Nile,
the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Ganges, which might be conducted under
the land and sea by subterranean channels, to the places where they spring
forth on the earth and assume their proper names.

I forbear to enter into various other of the voluminous speculations which
have been formed relative to the terrestrial paradise, and perhaps it may
be thought that I have already said too much on so fanciful a subject; but
to illustrate clearly the character of Columbus, it is necessary to
elucidate those veins of thought passing through his mind while
considering the singular phenomena of the unknown regions he was
exploring, and which are often but slightly and vaguely developed in his
journals and letters. These speculations, likewise, like those concerning
fancied islands in the ocean, carry us back to the time, and make us feel
the mystery and conjectural charm which reigned over the greatest part of
the world, and have since been completely dispelled by modern discovery.
Enough has been cited to show, that, in his observations concerning the
terrestrial paradise, Columbus was not indulging in any fanciful and
presumptuous chimeras, the offspring of a heated and disordered brain.
However visionary his conjectures may seem, they were all grounded on
written opinions held little less than oracular in his day; and they will
be found on examination to be far exceeded by the speculations and
theories of sages held illustrious for their wisdom and erudition in the
school and cloister.


Will of Columbus.

In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, who inspired me with the idea, and
afterwards made it perfectly clear to me, that I could navigate and go to
the Indies from Spain, by traversing the ocean westwardly; which I
communicated to the king, Don Ferdinand, and to the queen Doña Isabella,
our sovereigns; and they were pleased to furnish me the necessary
equipment of men and ships, and to make me their admiral over the said
ocean, in all parts lying to the west of an imaginary line, drawn from
pole to pole, a hundred leagues west of the Cape de Verd and Azore
islands; also appointing me their viceroy and governor over all continents
and islands that I might discover beyond the said line westwardly; with
the right of being succeeded in the said offices by my eldest son and his
heirs for ever; and a grant of the tenth part of all things found in the
said jurisdiction; and of all rents and revenues arising from it; and the
eighth of all the lands and every thing else, together with the salary
corresponding to my rank of admiral, viceroy, and governor, and all other
emoluments accruing thereto, as is more fully expressed in the title and
agreement sanctioned by their highnesses.

And it pleased the Lord Almighty, that in the year one thousand four
hundred and ninety-two, I should discover the continent of the Indies and
many islands, among them Hispaniola, which the Indians called Ayte, and
the Monicongos, Cipango. I then returned to Castile to their highnesses,
who approved of my undertaking a second enterprise for farther discoveries
and settlements; and the Lord gave me victory over the island of
Hispaniola, which extends six hundred leagues, and I conquered it and made
it tributary; and I discovered many islands inhabited by cannibals, and
seven hundred to the west of Hispaniola, among which is Jamaica, which we
call Santiago; and three hundred and thirty-three leagues of continent
from south to west, besides a hundred and seven to the north, which I
discovered in my first voyage, together with many islands, as may more
clearly be seen by my letters, memorials, and maritime charts. And as we
hope in God that before long a good and great revenue will be derived from
the above islands and continent, of which, for the reasons aforesaid,
belong to me the tenth and the eighth, with the salaries and emoluments
specified above; and considering that we are mortal, and that it is proper
for every one to settle his affairs, and to leave declared to his heirs
and successors the property he possesses or may have a right to: Wherefore
I have concluded to create an entailed estate (mayorazgo) out of the said
eighth of the lands, places, and revenues, in the manner which I now
proceed to state.

In the first place, I am to be succeeded by Don Diego, my son, who in case
of death without children is to be succeeded by my other son Ferdinand;
and should God dispose of him also without leaving children, and without
my having any other son, then my brother Don Bartholomew is to succeed;
and after him his eldest son; and if God should dispose of him without
heirs, he shall be succeeded by his sons from one to another for ever; or,
in the failure of a son, to be succeeded by Don Ferdinand, after the same
manner, from son to son successively; or in their place by my brothers
Bartholomew and Diego. And should it please the Lord that the estate,
after having continued for some time in the line of any of the above
successors, should stand in need of an immediate and lawful male heir, the
succession shall then devolve to the nearest relation, being a man of
legitimate birth, and bearing the name of Columbus derived from his father
and his ancestors. This entailed estate shall in nowise be inherited by a
woman, except in case that no male is to be found, either in this or any
other quarter of the world, of my real lineage, whose name, as well as
that of his ancestors, shall have always been Columbus. In such an event
(which may God forefend), then the female of legitimate birth, most nearly
related to the preceding possessor of the estate, shall succeed to it; and
this is to be under the conditions herein stipulated at foot, which must
be understood to extend as well to Don Diego, my son, as to the aforesaid
and their heirs, every one of them, to be fulfilled by them; and failing
to do so, they are to be deprived of the succession, for not having
complied with what shall herein be expressed; and the estate to pass to
the person most nearly related to the one who held the right: and the
person thus succeeding shall in like manner forfeit the estate, should he
also fail to comply with said conditions; and another person, the nearest
of my lineage, shall succeed, provided he abide by them, so that they may
be observed for ever in the form prescribed. This forfeiture is not to be
incurred for trifling matters, originating in lawsuits, but in important
cases, when the glory of God, or my own, or that of my family, may be
concerned, which supposes a perfect fulfillment of all the things hereby
ordained; all which I recommend to the courts of justice. And I supplicate
his Holiness, who now is, and those that may succeed in the holy church,
that if it should happen that this my will and testament has need of his
holy order and command for its fulfillment, that such order be issued in
virtue of obedience, and under penalty of excommunication, and that it
shall not be in any wise disfigured. And I also pray the king and queen,
our sovereigns, and their eldest-born, Prince Don Juan, our lord, and
their successors, for the sake of the services I have done them, and
because it is just, that it may please them not to permit this my will and
constitution of my entailed estate to be any way altered, but to leave it
in the form and manner which I have ordained, for ever, for the greater
glory of the Almighty, and that it may be the root and basis of my
lineage, and a memento of the services I have rendered their highnesses;
that, being born in Genoa, I came over to serve them in Castile, and
discovered to the west of Terra Firma, the Indies and islands before
mentioned. I accordingly pray their highnesses to order that this my
privilege and testament be held valid, avid be executed summarily and
without any opposition or demur, according to the letter. I also pray the
grandees of the realm and the lords of the council, and all others having
administration of justice, to be pleased not to suffer this my will and
testament to be of no avail, but to cause it to be fulfilled as by me
ordained; it being just that a noble, who has served the king and queen,
and the kingdom, should be respected in the disposition of his estate by
will, testament, institution of entail, or inheritance, and that the same
be not infringed either in whole or in part.

In the first place, my son Don Diego, and all my successors and
descendants, as well as ihy brothers Bartholomew and Diego, shall bear my
arms, such as I shall leave them after my days, without inserting any
thing else in them; and they shall be their seal to seal withal. Don Diego
my son, or any other who may inherit this estate, on coming into
possession of the inheritance, shall sign with the signature which I now
make vise of, which is an X with an S over it, and an M with a Roman A
over it, and over that an S, and then a Greek Y, with an S over it, with
its lines and points as is my custom, as may be seen by my signatures, of
which there are many, and it will be seen by the present one.

He shall only write "the Admiral," whatever other titles the king may have
conferred on him. This is to be understood as respects his signature, but
not the enumeration of his titles, which he can make at full length if
agreeable, only the signature is to be "the Admiral."

The said Don Diego, or any other inheritor of this estate, shall possess
my offices of admiral of the ocean, which is to the west of an imaginary
line, which his highness ordered to be drawn, running from pole to pole a
hundred leagues beyond the Azores, and as many more beyond the Cape de
Verd islands, over all which I was made, by their order, their admiral of
the sea, with all the preeminences held by Don Henrique in the admiralty
of Castile, and they made me their governor and viceroy perpetually and
for ever, over all the islands and main-land discovered, or to be
discovered, for myself and heirs, as is more fully shown by my treaty and
privilege as above mentioned.

Item: The said Don Diego, or any other inheritor of this estate, shall
distribute the revenue which it may please our Lord to grant him, in the
following manner, under the above penalty:

First--Of the whole income of this estate, now and at all times, and of
whatever may be had or collected from it, he shall give the fourth part
annually to my brother Don Bartholomew Columbus, Adelantado of the Indies;
and this is to continue till he shall have acquired an income of a million
of maravadises, for his support, and for the services he has rendered and
will continue to render to this entailed estate; which million he is to
receive, as stated, every year, if the said fourth amount to so much, and
that he have nothing elae; but if he possess a part or the whole of that
amount in rents, that thenceforth he shall not enjoy the said million, nor
any part of it, except that he shall have in the said fourth part unto the
said quantity of a million, if it should amount to so much; and as much as
he shall have of revenue beside this fourth part, whatever sum of
maravadises of known rent from property, or perpetual offices, the said
quantity of rent or revenue from property or offices shall be discounted;
and from the said million shall be reserved whatever marriage portion he
may receive with any female he may espouse; so that whatever he may
receive in marriage with his wife, no deduction shall be made on that
account from said million, but only for whatever he may acquire, or may
have, over and above his wife's dowry, and when it shall please God that
he or his heirs and descendants shall derive from their property and
offices a revenue of a million arising from rents, neither he nor his
heirs shall enjoy any longer any thing from the said fourth part of the
entailed estate, which shall remain with Don Diego, or whoever may inherit
it. Item: From the revenues of the said estate, or from any other fourth
part of it, (should its amount be adequate to it,) shall be paid every
year to my son Ferdinand two millions, till such time as his revenue shall
amount to two millions, in the same form and manner as in the case of
Bartholomew, who, as well as his heirs, are to have the million or the
part that may be wanting.

Item: The said Don Diego or Don Bartholomew shall make, out of the said
estate, for my brother Diego, such provision as may enable him to live
decently, as he is my brother, to whom I assign no particular sum, as he
has attached himself to the church, and that will be given him which is
right: and this to be given him in a mass, and before any thing shall
have' been received by Ferdinand my son, or Bartholomew my brother, or
their heirs, and also according to the amount of the income of the estate.
And in case of discord, the case is to be referred to two of our
relations, or other men of honor; and should they disagree among
themselves, they will choose a third person as arbitrator, being virtuous
and not distrusted by either party.

Item: All this revenue which I bequeath to Bartholomew, to Ferdinand, and
to Diego, shall be delivered to and received by them as prescribed under
the obligation of being faithful and loyal to Diego my son, or his heirs,
they as well as their children: and should it appear that they, or any of
them, had proceeded against him in any thing touching his honor, or the
prosperity of the family, or of the estate, either in word or deed,
whereby might come a scandal and debasement to my family, and a detriment
to my estate; in that ease, nothing farther shall be given to them or him,
from that time forward, inasmuch as they are always to be faithful to
Diego and to his successors.

Item: As it was my intention, when I first instituted this entailed
estate, to dispose, or that my son Diego should dispose for me, of the
tenth part of the income in favor of necessitous persona, as a tithe, and
in commemoration of the Almighty and Eternal God; and persisting still in
this opinion, and hoping that his High Majesty will assist me and those
who may inherit it, in this or the New World, I have resolved that the
said tithe shall be paid in the manner following:

First--It is to be understood that the fourth part of the revenue of the
estate which I have ordained and directed to be given to Don Bartholomew,
till he have an income of one million, includes the tenth of the whole
revenue of the estate; and that as in proportion as the income of my
brother Don Bartholomew shall increase, as it has to be discounted from
the revenue of the fourth part of the entailed estate, that the said
revenue shall be calculated, to know how much the tenth part amounts to;
and the part which exceeds what is necessary to make up the million for
Don Bartholomew shall be received by such of my family as may most stand
in need of it, discounting it from said tenth, if their income do not
amount to fifty thousand maravadises; and should any of these come to have
an income to this amount, such a part shall be awarded them as two
persons, chosen for the purpose, may determine along with Don Diego, or
his heirs. Thus, it is to be understood that the million which I leave to
Don Bartholomew comprehends the tenth of the whole revenue of the estate;
which revenue is to be distributed among my nearest and most needy
relations in the manner I have directed; and when Don Bartholomew have an
income of one million, and that nothing more shall be due to him on
account of said fourth part, then Don Diego my sou, or the person who may
be in possession of the estate, along with the two other persons which I
shall herein point out, shall inspect the accounts, and so direct, that
the tenth of the revenue shall still continue to be paid to the most
necessitous members of my family that may be found in this or any other
quarter of the world, who shall be diligently sought out; and they are to
be paid out of the fourth part from which Don Bartholomew is to derive his
million; which sums are to be taken into account, and deducted from the
said tenth, which, should it amount to more, the overplus, as it arises
from the fourth part, shall be given to the most necessitous persons as
aforesaid; and should it not be sufficient, that Don Bartholomew shall
have it until his own estate goes on increasing, leaving the said million
in part or in the whole.

Item: The said Don Diego my son, or whoever may be the inheritor, shall
appoint two persons of conscience and authority, and most nearly related
to the family, who are to examine the revenue and its amount carefully,
and to cause the said tenth to be paid out of the fourth from which Don
Bartholomew is to receive his million, to the most necessitated members of
my family that may be found here or elsewhere, whom they shall look for
diligently upon their consciences; and as it might happen that said Don
Diego, or others after him, for reasons which may concern their own
welfare, or the credit and support of the estate, may be unwilling to make
known the full amount of the income; nevertheless, I charge him, on his
conscience, to pay the sum aforesaid; and I charge them, on their souls
and consciences, not to denounce or make it known, except with the consent
of Don Diego, or the person that may succeed him; but let the above tithe
be paid in the manner I have directed.

Item: In order to avoid all disputes in the choice of the two nearest
relations who are to act with Don Diego or his heirs, I hereby elect Don
Bartholomew my brother for one, and Don Fernando my son for the other; and
when these two shall enter upon the business, they shall choose two other
persons among the most trusty, and most nearly related, and these again
shall elect two others when it shall be question of commencing the
examination; and thus it shall be managed with diligence from one to the
other, as well in this as in the other of government, for the service and
glory of God, and the benefit of the said entailed estate.

Item: I also enjoin Diego, or any one that may inherit the estate, to have
and maintain in the city of Genoa one person of our lineage, to reside
there with his wife, and appoint him a sufficient revenue to enable him to
live decently, as a person closely connected with the family, of which he
is to be the root and basis in that city; from winch great good may accrue
to him, inasmuch as i was born there, and came from thence.

Item: The said Don Diego, or whoever shall inherit the estate, must remit
in bills, or in any other way, all such sums as he may be able to save out
of the revenue of the estate, and direct purchases to be made in his name,
or that of his heirs, in a stock in the Bank of St. George, which gives an
interest of six per cent, and in secure money; and this shall be devoted
to the purpose I am about to explain.

Item: As it becomes every man of property to serve God, either personally
or by means of his wealth, and as all moneys deposited with St. George are
quite safe, and Genoa is a noble cily, and powerful by sea, and as at the
time that I undertook to set out upon the discovery of the Indies, it was
with the intention of supplicating the king and queen, our lords, that
whatever moneys should be derived from the said Indies, should be invested
in the conquest of Jerusalem; and as I did so supplicate them; if they do
this, it will be well; if not, at all events, the said Diego, or such
person as may succeed him in this trust, to collect together all the money
he can, and accompany the king our lord, should he go to the conquest of
Jerusalem, or else go there himself with all the force he can command; and
in pursuing this intention, it will please the Lord to assist towards the
accomplishment of the plan; and should he not be able to effect the
conquest of the whole, no doubt he will achieve it in part. Let him
therefore collect and make a fund of all his wealth in St. George of
Genoa, and let it multiply there till such time as it may appear to him
that something of consequence may be effected as respects the project on
Jerusalem; for I believe that when their highnesses shall see that this is
contemplated, they will wish to realize it themselves, or will afford him,
as their servant and vassal, the means of doing it for them.

Item: I charge my son Diego and my descendants, especially whoever may
inherit this estate, which consists, as aforesaid, of the tenth of
whatsoever may be had or found in the Indies, and the eighth part of the
lands and rents, all which, together with my rights and emoluments as
admiral, viceroy, and governor, amount to more than twenty-five per cent.;
I say, that I require of him to employ all this revenue, as well as his
person and all the means in his power, in well and faithfully serving and
supporting their highnesses, or their successors, even to the loss of life
and property; since it was their highnesses, next to God, who first gave
me the means of getting and achieving this property, although, it is true,
I came over to these realms to invite them to the enterprise, and that a
long time elapsed before any provision was made for carrying it into
execution; which, however, is not surprising, as this was an undertaking
of which all the world was ignorant, and no one had any faith in it;
wherefore I am by so much the more indebted to them, as well as because
they have since also much favored and promoted me.

Item: I also require of Diego, or whomsoever may be in possession of the
estate, that in the case of any schism taking place in the church of God,
or that any person of whatever class or condition should attempt to
despoil it of its property and honors, they hasten to offer at the feet of
his holiness, that is, if they are not heretics (which God forbid!), their
persons, power, and wealth, for the purpose of suppressing such schism,
and preventing any spoliation of the honor and property of the church.

Item: I command the said Diego, or whoever may possess the said estate, to
labor and strive for the honor, welfare, and aggrandizement of the city of
Genoa, and to make use of all his power and means in defending and
enhancing the good and credit of that republic, in all things not contrary
to the service of the church of God, or the high dignity of our king and
queen, our lords, and their successors.

Item: The said Diego, or whoever may possess or succeed to the estate, out
of the fourth part of the whole revenue, from which, as aforesaid, is to
be taken the tenth, when Don Bartholomew or his heirs shall have saved the
two millions, or part of them, and when the time shall come of making a
distribution among our relations, shall apply and invest the said tenth in
providing marriages for such daughters of our lineage as may require it,
and in doing all the good in their power.

Item: When a suitable time shall arrive, he shall order a church to be
built in the island of Hispaniola, and in the most convenient spot, to be
called Santa Maria de la Concepcion; to which is to be annexed an
hospital, upon the best possible plan, like those of Italy and Castile,
and a chapel erected to say mass in for the good of my soul, and those of
my ancestors and successors, with great devotion, since no doubt it will
please the Lord to give us a sufficient revenue for this and the
aforementioned purposes.

Item: I also order Diego my son, or whomsoever may inherit after him, to
spare no pains in having and maintaining in the island of Hispaniola, four
good professors of theology, to the end and aim of their studying and
laboring to convert to our holy faith the inhabitants of the Indies; and
in proportion as, by God's will, the revenue of the estate shall increase,
in the same degree shall the number of teachers and devout increase, who
are to strive to make Christians of the natives; in attaining which no
expense should be thought too great. And in commemoration of all that I
hereby ordain, and of the foregoing, a monument of marble shall be erected
in the said church of la Concepcion, in the most conspicuous place, to
serve as a record of what I here enjoin on the said Diego, as well as to
other persons who may look upon it; which marble shall contain an
inscription to the same effect.

Item: I also require of Diego my son, and whomsover may succeed him in the
estate, that every time, and as often as he confesses, he first show this
obligation, or a copy of it, to the confessor, praying him to read it
through, that he may be enabled to inquire respecting its fulfillment;
from which will redound great good and happiness to his soul.

    S. A. S.
    X. M. Y.


Signature of Columbus.

As every thing respecting Columbus is full of interest, his signature has
been a matter of some discussion. It partook of the pedantic and bigoted
character of the age, and perhaps of the peculiar character of the man,
who, considering himself mysteriously elected and set apart from among men
for certain great purposes, adopted a correspondent formality and
solemnity in all his concerns. His signature was as follows:

    S. A. S.
    X. M. Y.

The first half of the signature, XPO, (for CHRISTO,) is in Greek letters;
the second, FERENS, is in Latin. Such was the usage of those days; and
even at present both Greek and Roman letters are used in signatures and
inscriptions in Spain.

The ciphers or initials above the signature are supposed to represent a
pious ejaculation. To read them one must begin with the lower letters, and
connect them with those above. Signor Gio. Batista Spotorno conjectures
them to mean either Xristus (Christus) Sancta Maria Yosephus, or, Salve
me, Xristus, Maria, Yosephus. The Korth American Review, for April, 1827,
suggests the substitution of Jesus for Josephus, but the suggestion of
Spotorno is most probably correct, as a common Spanish ejaculation is
"Jesus Maria y José."

It was an ancient usage in Spain, and it has not entirely gone by, to
accompany the signature with some words of religious purport. One object
of this practice was to show the writer to be a Christian. This was of
some importance in a country in which Jews and Mahometans were proscribed
and persecuted.

Don Fernando, son to Columbus, says that his father, when he took his pen
in hand, usually commenced by writing "Jesus cum Maria sit nobis in via;"
and the book which the admiral prepared and sent to the sovereigns,
containing the prophecies which he considered as referring to his
discoveries, and to the rescue of the holy sepulchre, begins with the same
words. This practice is akin to that of placing the initials of pious
words above his signature, and gives great probability to the mode in
which they have been deciphered.


A Visit to Palos.

[The following narrative was actually commenced, by the author of this
work, as a letter to a friend, but unexpectedly swelled to its present
size. He has been induced to insert it here from the idea, that many will
feel the same curiosity to know something of the present state of Falos
and its inhabitants that led him to make the journey.]

Seville, 1828.

Since I last wrote to you, I have made what I may term an American
pilgrimage, to visit the little port of Palos in Andalusia, where Columbus
fitted out his ships, and whence he sailed for the discovery of the New
World. Need I tell you how deeply interesting and gratifying it has been
to me? I had long meditated this excursion, as a kind of pious, and, if I
may so say, filial duty of an American, and my intention was quickened
when I learnt that many of the edifices, mentioned in the History of
Columbus, still remained in nearly the same state in which they existed at
the time of his sojourn at Palos, and that the descendants of the intrepid
Pinzons, who aided him with ships and money, and sailed with him in the
great voyage of discovery, still flourished in the neighborhood.

The very evening before my departure from Seville on the excursion, I
heard that there was a young gentleman of the Pinzon family studying law
in the city. I got introduced to him, and found him of most prepossessing
appearance and manners. He gave me a letter of introduction to his father,
Don Juan Fernandez Pinzon, resident of Moguer, and the present head of the

As it was in the middle of August, and the weather intensely hot, I hired
a calesa for the journey. This is a two-wheeled carriage, resembling a
cabriolet, but of the most primitive and rude construction; the harness is
profusely ornamented with brass, and the horse's hend decorated with tufts
and tassels and dangling bobs of scarlet and yellow worsted. I had for
calasero, a tall, long-legged Andalusian, in short jacket, little
round-crowned hat, breeches decorated with buttons from the hip to the
knees, and a pair of russet leather bottinas or spatterdashes. He was an
active fellow, though uncommonly taciturn for an Andalusian, and strode
along beside his horse, rousing him occasionally to greater speed by a
loud malediction or a hearty thwack of his cudgel.

In this style, I set off late in the day to avoid the noontide heat, and,
after ascending the lofty range of hills which borders the great valley of
the Guadalquiver, and having a rough ride among their heights, I descended
about twilight into one of those vast, silent, melancholy plains, frequent
in Spain, where I beheld no other signs of life than a roaming flock of
bustards, and a distant herd of cattle, guarded by a solitary herdsman,
who, with a long pike planted in the earth, stood motionless in the midst
of the dreary landscape, resembling an Arab of the desert. The night had
somewhat advanced when we stopped to repose for a few hours at a solitary
venta or inn, if it might so be called, being nothing more than a vast
low-roofed stable, divided into several compartments for the reception of
the troops of mules and arrieros (or carriers) who carry on the internal
trade of Spain. Accommodation for the traveler there was none--not even
for a traveler so easily accommodated as myself. The landlord had no food
to give me, and as to a bed, he had none but a horse-cloth, on which his
only child, a boy of eight years old, lay naked on the earthen floor.
Indeed the heat of the weather and the fumes from the stables made the
interior of the hovel insupportable; so I was fain to bivouac, on my
cloak, on the pavement, at the door of the venta, where, on waking, after
two or three hours of sound sleep, I found a contrabandista (or smuggler)
snoring beside me, with his blunderbuss on his arm.

I resumed my journey before break of day, and had made several leagues by
ten o'clock, when we stopped to breakfast, and to pass the sultry hours of
mid-day in a large village; whence we departed about four o'clock, and
after passing through the same kind of solitary country, arrived just
after sunset at Moguer. This little city (for at present it is a city) is
situated about a league from Palos, of which place it has gradually
absorbed all the respectable inhabitants, and, among the number, the whole
family of the Pinzons.

So remote is this little place from the stir and bustle of travel, and so
destitute of the show and vainglory of this world, that my calesa, as it
rattled and jingled along the narrow and ill-paved streets, caused a great
sensation; the children shouted and scampered along by its side, admiring
its splendid trappings of brass and worsted, and gazing with reverence at
the important stranger who came in so gorgeous an equipage.

I drove up to the principal posada, the landlord of which was at the door.
He was one of the very civilest men in the world, and disposed to do every
thing in his power to make me comfortable; there was only one difficulty,
he had neither bed nor bed-room in his house. In fact it was a mere venta
for muleteers, who are accustomed to sleep on the ground, with their
mule-cloths for beds and pack-saddles for pillows. It was a hard case, but
there was no better posada in the place. Few people travel for pleasure or
curiosity in these out-of-the-way parts of Spain, and those of any note
are generally received into private houses. I had traveled sufficiently in
Spain to find out that a bed, after all, is not an article of
indispensable necessity, and was about to bespeak some quiet corner where
I might spread my cloak, when fortunately the landlord's wife came forth.
She could not have a more obliging disposition than her husband, but
then--God bless the women!--they always know how to carry their good wishes
into effect. In a little while a small room, about ten feet square, which
had formed a thoroughfare between the stables and a kind of shop or
bar-room, was cleared of a variety of lumber, and I was assured that a
bed should be put up there for me. From the consultations I saw my
hostess holding with some of her neighbor gossips, I fancied the bed was
to be a kind of piecemeal contribution among them for the credit of the

As soon as I could change my dress, I commenced the historical researches
which were the object of my journey, and inquired for the abode of Don
Juan Fernandez Pinzon. My obliging landlord himself volunteered to conduct
me thither, and I set off full of animation at the thoughts of meeting
with the lineal representative of one of the coadjutors of Columbus.

A short walk brought us to the house, which was most respectable in its
appearance, indicating easy, if not affluent, circumstances. The door, as
is customary in Spanish villages during summer, stood wide open. We
entered with the usual salutation or rather summons, "Ave Maria!" A trim
Andalusian handmaid answered to the call, and, on our inquiring for the
master of the house, led the way across a little patio or court, in the
centre of the edifice, cooled by a fountain surrounded by shrubs and
flowers, to a back court or terrace, likewise set out with flowers, where
Don Juan Fernandez was seated with his family, enjoying the serene evening
in the open air. I was much pleased with his appearance. He was a
venerable old gentleman, tall, and somewhat thin, with fair complexion and
gray hair. He received me with great urbanity, and on reading the letter
from his son, appeared struck with surprise to find I had come quite to
Moguer, merely to visit the scene of the embarkation of Columbus; and
still more so on my telling him, that one of my leading objects of
curiosity was his own family connection; for it would seem that the worthy
cavalier had troubled his head but little about the enterprises of his

I now took my seat in the domestic circle, and soon felt myself quite at
home, for there is generally a frankness in the hospitality of Spaniards,
that soon puts a stranger at his ease beneath their roof. The wife of Don
Juan Fernandez was extremely amiable and affable, possessing much of that
natural aptness for which the Spanish women are remarkable. In the course
of conversation with them I learnt, that Don Juan Fernandez, who is
seventy-two years of age, is the eldest of five brothers, all of whom are
married, have numerous offspring, and live in Moguer and its vicinity, in
nearly the same condition and rank of life as at the time of the
discovery. This agreed with what I had previously heard, respecting the
families of the discoverers. Of Columbus no lineal and direct descendant
exists; his was an exotic stock which never took deep and lasting root in
the country; but the race of the Pinzons continues to thrive and multiply
in its native soil.

While I was yet conversing, a gentleman entered, who was introduced to me
as Don Luis Fernandez Pinzon, the youngest of the brothers. He appeared
between fifty and sixty years of age, somewhat robust, with fair
complexion, gray hair, and a frank and manly deportment. He is the only
one of the present generation that has followed the ancient profession of
the family; having served with great applause as an officer of the royal
navy, from which he retired, on his marriage, about twenty-two years
since. He is the one, also, who takes the greatest interest and pride in
the historical honors of his house, carefully preserving all the legends
and documents of the achievements and distinctions of his family, a
manuscript volume of which he lent to me for my inspection.

Don Juan now expressed a wish that, during my residence in Moguer, I would
make his house my home. I endeavored to excuse myself, alleging, that the
good people at the posada had been at such extraordinary trouble in
preparing quarters for me, that I did not like to disappoint them. The
worthy old gentleman undertook to arrange all this, and, while supper was
preparing, we walked together to the posada. I found that my obliging host
and hostess had indeed exerted themselves to an uncommon degree. An old
rickety table had been spread out in a corner of the little room as a
bedstead, on top of which was propped up a grand _cama de luxo_, or
state bed, which appeared to be the admiration of the house. I could not,
for the soul of me, appear to undervalue what the poor people had prepared
with such hearty good-will, and considered such a triumph of art and
luxury; so I again entreated Don Juan to dispense with my sleeping at his
house, promising most faithfully to make my meals there whilst I should
stay at Moguer, and as the old gentleman understood my motives for
declining his invitation, and felt a good-humored sympathy in them, we
readily arranged the matter. I returned therefore with Don Juan to his
house and supped with his family. During the repast a plan was agreed upon
for my visit to Palos, and to the convent La Kabida, in which Don Juan
volunteered to accompany me and be my guide, and the following day was
allotted to the expedition. We were to breakfast at a hacienda, or
country-seat, which he possessed in the vicinity of Palos, in the midst of
his vineyards, and were to dine there on our return from the convent.
These arrangements being made, we parted for the night; I returned to the
posada highly gratified with my visit, and slept soundly in the
extraordinary bed which, I may almost say, had been invented for my

On the following morning, bright and early, Don Juan Fernandez and myself
set off in the caleea for Palos. I felt apprehensive at first that the
kind-hearted old gentleman, in his anxiety to oblige, had left his bed at
too early an hour, and was exposing himself to fatigues unsuited to his
age. He laughed at the idea, and assured me that he was an early riser,
and accustomed to all kinds of exercise on horse and foot, being a keen
sportsman, and frequently passing days together among the mountains on
shooting expeditions, taking with him servants, horses, and provisions,
and living in a tent. He appeared, in fact, to be of an active habit, and
to possess a youthful vivacity of spirit. His cheerful disposition
rendered our morning drive extremely agreeable; his urbanity was shown to
every one whom we met on the road; even the common peasant was saluted by
him with the appellation of _caballero_, a mark of respect ever
gratifying to the poor but proud Spaniard, when yielded by a superior.

As the tide was out, we drove along the flat grounds bordering the Tinto.
The river was on our right, while on our left was a range of hills,
jutting out into promontories, one beyond the other, and covered with
vineyards and fig trees. The weather was serene, the air soft and balmy,
and the landscape of that gentle kind calculated to put one in a quiet and
happy humor. We passed close by the skirts of Palos, and drove to the
hacienda, which is situated some little distance from the village, between
it and the river. The house is a low stone building well whitewashed, and
of great length; one end being fitted up as a summer residence, with
saloons, bed-rooms, and a domestic chapel; and the other as a bodega or
magazine for the reception of the wine produced on the estate.

The house stands on a hill, amidst vineyards, which are supposed to cover
a part of the site of the ancient town of Palos, now shrunk to a miserable
village. Beyond these vineyards, on the crest of a distant hill, are seen
the white walls of the convent of La Babida rising above a dark wood of
pine trees.

Below the hacienda flows the river Tinto, on which Columbus embarked. It
is divided by a low tongue of land, or rather the sand-bar of Saltes, from
the river Odiel, with which it soon mingles its waters, and flows on to
the ocean. Beside this sand-bar, where the channel of the river runs deep,
the squadron of Columbus was anchored, and thence he made sail on the
morning of his departure.

The soft breeze that was blowing scarcely ruffled the surface of this
beautiful river; two or three picturesque barks, called mystics, with long
latine sails, were gliding down it. A little aid of the imagination might
suffice to picture them as the light caravels of Columbus, sallying forth
on their eventful expedition, while the distant bells of the town of
Hnelva, which were ringing melodiously, might be supposed as cheering the
voyagers with a farewell peal.

I cannot express to you what were my feelings on treading the shore which
had once been animated with the bustle of departure, and whose sands had
been printed by the last footstep of Columbus. The solemn and sublime
nature of the event that had followed, together with the fate and fortunes
of those concerned in it, filled the mind with vague yet melancholy ideas.
It was like viewing the silent and empty stage of some great drama when
all the actors had departed. The very aspect of the landscape, so
tranquilly beautiful, had an effect upon me; and as I paced the deserted
shores by the side of a descendant of one of the discoverers, I felt my
heart swelling witfi emotions and my eyes filling with tears.

What surprised me was, to find no semblance of a sea-port; there was
neither wharf nor landing-place--nothing but a naked river bank, with the
hulk of a ferry-boat, which I was told carried passengers to Huelva, lying
high and dry on the sands, deserted by the tide. Palos, though it has
doubtless dwindled away from its former size, can never have been
important as to extent and population. If it possessed warehouses on the
beach, they have disappeared. It is at present a mere village of the
poorest kind, and lies nearly a quarter of a mile from the river, in a
hollow among hills. It contains a few hundred inhabitants, who subsist
principally by laboring in the fields and vineyards. Its race of merchants
and mariners is extinct. There are no vessels belonging to the place, nor
any show of traffic, excepting at the season of fruit and wine, when a few
mystics and other light barks anchor in the river to collect the produce
of the neighborhood. The people are totally ignorant, and it is probable
that the greater part of them scarce know even the name of America. Such
is the place whence sallied forth the enterprise for the discovery of the
western world!

We were now summoned to breakfast in a little saloon of the hacienda. The
table was covered with natural luxuries produced upon the spot--fine
purple and muscatel grapes from the adjacent vineyard, delicious melons
from the garden, and generous wines made on the estate. The repast was
heightened by the genial manners of my hospitable host, who appeared to
possess the most enviable cheerfulness of spirit and simplicity of heart.

After breakfast we set off in the calesa to visit the convent of La
Rabida, about half a league distant The road, for a part of the way, lay
through the vineyards, and was deep and sandy. The calasero had been at
his wit's end to conceive what motive a stranger like myself, apparently
traveling for mere amusement, could have in coming so far to see so
miserable a place as Palos, which he set down as one of the very poorest
places in the whole world; but this additional toil and struggle through
deep sand to visit the old convent of La Rabida completed his
confusion--"Hombre!" exclaimed he, "es una ruina! no hay mas que dos
frailes!"--"Zounds! why it's a ruin! there are only two friars there!"
Don Juan laughed, and told him that I had come all the way from Seville
precisely to see that old ruin and those two friars. The calasero made the
Spaniard's last reply when he is perplexed--he shrugged his shoulders and
crossed himself. After ascending a hill and passing through the skirts of
a straggling pine wood, we arrived in front of the convent. It stands in a
bleak and solitary situation, on the brow of a rocky height or promontory,
overlooking to the west a wide range of sea and land, bounded by the
frontier mountains of Portugal, about eight leagues distant. The convent
is shut out from a view of the vineyard of Palos by the gloomy forest of
pines already mentioned, which cover the promontory to the east, and
darken the whole landscape in that direction.

There is nothing remarkable in the architecture of the convent; part of it
is Gothic, but the edifice, having been frequently repaired, and being
whitewashed, according to a universal custom in Andalusia, inherited from
the Moors, has not that venerable aspect which might be expected from its

We alighted at the gate where Columbus, when a poor pedestrian, a stranger
in the land, asked bread and water for his child! As long as the convent
stands, this must be a spot calculated to awaken the most thrilling
interest. The gate remains apparently in nearly the same state as at the
time of his visit, but there is no longer a porter at hand to administer
to the wants of the wayfarer. The door stood wide open, and admitted us
into a small court-yard. Thence we passed through a Gothic portal into the
chapel, without seeing a human being. We then traversed two interior
cloisters, equally vacant and silent, and bearing a look of neglect and
dilapidation. From an open window we had a peep at what had once been a
garden, but that had also gone to ruin; the walls were broken and thrown
down; a few shrubs, and a scattered fig tree or two, were all the traces
of cultivation that remained. We passed through the long dormitories, but
the cells were shut up and abandoned; we saw no living thing except a
solitary cat stealing across a distant corridor, which fled in a panic at
the unusual sight of strangers. At length, after patrolling nearly the
whole of the empty building to the echo of our own footsteps, we came to
where the door of a cell, being partly open, gave us the sight of a monk
within, seated at a table writing. He rose, and received us with much
civility, and conducted us to the superior, who was reading in an adjacent
cell. They were both rather young men, and, together with a novitiate and
a lay-brother, who officiated as cook, formed the whole community of the

Don Juan Fernandez communicated to them the object of my visit, and my
desire also to inspect the archives of the convent, to find if there was
any record of the sojourn of Columbus. They informed us that the archives
had been entirely destroyed by the French. The younger monk, however, who
had perused them, had a vague recollection of various particulars
concerning the transactions of Columbus at Palos, his visit to the
convent, and the sailing of his expedition. From all that he cited,
however, it appeared to me that all the information on the subject
contained in the archives had been extracted from Herrera and other
well-known authors. The monk was talkative and eloquent, and soon diverged
from the subject of Columbus, to one which he considered of infinitely
greater importance--the miraculous image of the Virgin possessed by their
convent, and known by the name of "Our Lady of La Rabida." He gave us a
history of the wonderful way in which the image had been found buried in
the earth, where it had lain hidden for ages, since the time of the
conquest of Spain by the Moors; the disputes between the convent and
different places in the neighborhood for the possession of it; the
marvelous protection it extended to the adjacent country, especially in
preventing all madness, either in man or dog, for this malady was
anciently so prevalent in this place as to gain it the appellation of La
Rabia, by which it was originally called; a name which, thanks to the
beneficent influence of the Virgin, it no longer merited nor retained.
Such are the legends and relics with which every convent in Spain is
enriched, which are zealously cried up by the monks, and devoutly
credited by the populace.

Twice a year, on the festival of our Lady of La Rabida and on that of the
patron saint of the order, the solitude and silence of the convent are
interrupted by the intrusion of a swarming multitude, composed of the
inhabitants of Moguer, of Huelva, and the neighboring plains and
mountains. The open esplanade in front of the edifice resembles a fair,
the adjacent forest teems with the motley throng, and the image of our
Lady of La Rabida is borne forth in triumphant procession.

While the friar was thus dilating upon the merits and renown of the image,
I amused myself with those day-dreams, or conjurings of the imagination,
to which I am a little given. As the internal arrangements of convents are
apt to be the same from age to age, I pictured to myself this chamber as
the same inhabited by the guardian, Juan Perez de Marchena, at the time of
the visit of Columbus. Why might not the old and ponderous table before me
be the very one on which he displayed his conjectural maps, and expounded
his theory of a western route to India? It required but another stretch of
the imagination to assemble the little conclave around the table; Juan
Perez the friar, Garci Fernandez the physician, and Martin Alonzo Pinzon
the bold navigator, all listening with rapt attention to Columbus, or to
the tale of some old seaman of Palos, about islands seen in the western
parts of the ocean.

The friars, as far as their poor means and scanty knowledge extended, were
disposed to do every thing to promote the object of my visit. They showed
us all parts of the convent, which, however, has little to boast of,
excepting the historical associations connected with it. The library was
reduced to a few volumes, chiefly on ecclesiastical subjects, piled
promiscuously in the corner of a vaulted chamber, and covered with dust.
The chamber itself was curious, being the most ancient part of the
edifice, and supposed to have formed part of a temple in the time of the

We ascended to the roof of the convent to enjoy the extensive prospect it
commands. Immediately below the promontory on which it is situated, runs a
narrow but tolerably deep river, called the Domingo Rubio, which empties
itself into the Tinto. It is the opinion of Don Luis Fernandez Pinzon,
that the ships of Columbus were careened and fitted out in this river, as
it affords better shelter than the Tinto, and its shores are not so
shallow. A lonely bark of a fisherman was lying in this stream, and not
far off, on a sandy point, were the ruins of an ancient watchtower. From
the roof of the convent, all the windings of the Odiel and the Tinto were
to be seen, and their junction into the main stream, by which Columbus
sallied forth to sea. In fact the convent serves as a landmark, being,
from its lofty and solitary situation, visible for a considerable distance
to vessels coming on the coast. On the opposite side I looked down upon
the lonely road, through the wood of pine trees, by which the zealous
guardian of the convent, Fray Juan Perez, departed at midnight on his
mule, when he sought the camp of Ferdinand and Isabella in the Vega of
Granada, to plead the project of Columbus before the queen.

Having finished our inspection of the convent, we prepared to depart, and
were accompanied to the outward portal by the two friars. Our calasero
brought his rattling and rickety vehicle for us to mount; at sight of
which one of the monks exclaimed, with a smile, "Santa Maria! only to
think! A calesa before the gate of the convent of La Rabida!" And, indeed,
so solitary and remote is this ancient edifice, and so simple is the mode
of living of the people in this by-corner of Spain, that the appearance of
even a sorry calesa might well cause astonishment. It is only singular
that in such a by-corner the scheme of Columbus should have found
intelligent listeners and coadjutors, after it had been discarded, almost
with scoffing and contempt, from learned universities and splendid courts.

On our way back to the hacienda, we met Don Rafael, a younger son of Don
Juan Fernandez, a fine young man, about twenty-one years of age, and who,
his father informed me, was at present studying French and mathematics. He
was well mounted on a spirited gray horse, and dressed in the Andalusian
style, with the little round hat and jacket. He sat his horse gracefully,
and managed him well. I was pleased with the frank and easy terms on which
Don Juan appeared to live with his children. This I was inclined to think
his favorite son, as I understood he was the only one that partook of the
old gentleman's fondness for the chase, and that accompanied him in his
hunting excursions.

A dinner had been prepared for us at the hacienda, by the wife of the
capitaz, or overseer, who, with her husband, seemed to be well pleased
with this visit from Don Juan, and to be confident of receiving a pleasant
answer from the good-humored old gentleman whenever they addressed him.
The dinner was served up about two o'clock, and was a most agreeable meal.
The fruits and wines were from the estate, and were excellent; the rest of
the provisions were from Moguer, for the adjacent village of Palos is too
poor to furnish any thing. A gentle breeze from the sea played through the
hall, and tempered the summer heat. Indeed I do not know when I have seen
a more enviable spot than this country retreat of the Pinzons. Its
situation on a breezy hill, at no great distance from the sea, and in a
southern climate, produces a happy temperature, neither hot in summer nor
cold in winter. It commands a beautiful prospect, and is surrounded by
natural luxuries. The country abounds with game, the adjacent river
affords abundant sport in fishing, both by day and night, and delightful
excursions for those fond of sailing. During the busy seasons of rural
life, and especially at the joyous period of vintage, the family pass some
time here, accompanied by numerous guests, at which times, Don Juan
assured me, there was no lack of amusements, both by land and water.

When we had dined, and taken the siesta, or afternoon nap, according to
the Spanish custom in summer time, we set out on our return to Moguer,
visiting the village of Palos in the way. Don Gabriel had been sent in
advance to procure the keys of the village church, and to apprise the
curate of our wish to inspect the archives. The village consists
principally of two streets of low whitewashed houses. Many of the
inhabitants have very dark complexions, betraying a mixture of African

On entering the village, we repaired to the lowly mansion of the curate. I
had hoped to find him some such personage as the curate in Don Quixote,
possessed of shrewdness and information in his limited sphere, and that I
might gain some anecdotes from him concerning the parish, its worthies,
its antiquities, and its historical events. Perhaps I might have done so
at any other time, but, unfortunately, the curate was something of a
sportsman, and had heard of some game among the neighboring hills. We met
him just sallying forth from his house, and, I must confess, his
appearance was picturesque. He was a short, broad, sturdy little man, and
had doffed his cassock and broad clerical beaver, for a short jacket and a
little round Andalusian hat; he had his gun in hand, and was on the point
of mounting a donkey which had been led forth by an ancient withered
handmaid. Fearful of being detained from his foray, he accosted my
companion the moment he came in sight. "God preserve you, Señor Don Juan!
I have received your message, and have but one answer to make. The
archives have all been destroyed. We have no trace of any thing you seek
for--nothing--nothing. Don Rafael has the keys of the church. You can
examine it at your leisure--Adios, caballero!" With these words the
galliard little curate mounted his donkey, thumped his ribs with the butt
end of his gun, and trotted off to the hills.

In our way to the church we passed by the ruins of what had once been a
fair and spacious dwelling, greatly superior to the other houses of the
village. This, Don Juan informed me, was an old family possession, but
since they had removed from Palos it had fallen to decay for want of a
tenant. It was probably the family residence of Martin Alonzo or Vicente
Yafiez Pinzon, in the time of Columbus.

We now arrived at the Church of St. George, in the porch of which Columbus
first proclaimed to the inhabitants of Palos the order of the sovereigns,
that they should furnish him with ships for his great voyage of discovery.
This edifice has lately been thoroughly repaired, and, being of solid
mason-work, promises to stand for ages, a monument of the discoverers. It
stands outside of the village, on the brow of a hill, looking along a
little valley toward the river. The remains of a Moorish arch prove it to
have been a mosque in former times; just above it, on the crest of the
hill, is the ruin of a Moorish castle.

I paused in the porch, and endeavored to recall the interesting scene that
had taken place there, when Columbus, accompanied by the zealous friar
Juan Perez, caused the public notary to read the royal order in presence
of the astonished alcaldes, regidors, and alguazils; but it is difficult
to conceive the consternation that must have been struck into so remote a
little community, by this sudden apparition of an entire stranger among
them, bearing a command that they should put their persons and ships at
his disposal, and sail with him away into the unknown wilderness of the

The interior of the church has nothing remarkable, excepting a wooden
image of St. George vanquishing the Dragon, which is erected over the high
altar, and is the admiration of the good people of Palos, who bear it
about the streets in grand procession on the anniversary of the saint.
This group existed in the time of Columbus, and now flourishes in
renovated youth and splendor, having been newly painted and gilded, and
the countenance of the saint rendered peculiarly blooming and lustrous.

Having finished the examination of the church, we resumed our seats in the
calesa and returned to Moguer. One thing only remained to fulfill the
object of my pilgrimage. This was to visit the chapel of the Convent of
Santa Clara. When Columbus was in danger of being lost in a tempest on his
way home from his great voyage of discovery, he made a vow, that, should
he be spared, he would watch and pray one whole night in this chapel; a
vow which he doubtless fulfilled immediately after his arrival.

My kind and attentive friend, Don Juan, conducted me to the convent. It is
the wealthiest in Moguer, and belongs to a sisterhood of Franciscan nuns.
The chapel is large, and ornamented with some degree of richness,
particularly the part about the high altar, which, is embellished by
magnificent monuments of the brave family of the Puerto Carreros, the
ancient lords of Moguer, and renowned in Moorish warfare. The alabaster
effigies of distinguished warriors of that house, and of their wives and
sisters, lie side by side, with folded hands, on tombs immediately before
the altar, while others recline in deep niches on either side. The night
had closed in by the time I entered the church, which made the scene more
impressive. A few votive lamps shed a dim light about the interior; their
beams were feebly reflected by the gilded work of the high altar, and the
frames of the surrounding paintings, and rested upon the marble figures of
the warriors and dames lying in the monumental repose of ages. The solemn
pile must have presented much the same appearance when the pious
discoverer performed his vigil, kneeling before this very altar, and
praying and watching throughout the night, and pouring forth heartfelt
praises for having been spared to accomplish his sublime discovery.

I had now completed the main purpose of my journey, having visited the
various places connected with the story of Columbus. It was highly
gratifying to find some of them so little changed though so great a space
of time had intervened; but in this quiet nook of Spain, so far removed
from the main thoroughfares, the lapse of time produces but few violent
revolutions. Nothing, however, had surprised and gratified me more than
the contiuued stability of the Pinzon family. On the morning after my
excursion to Palos, chance gave me an opportunity of seeing something of
the interior of most of their households. Having a curiosity to visit the
remains of a Moorish castle, once the citadel of Moguer, Don Fernandez
undertook to show me a tower which served as a magazine of wine to one of
the Pinzon family. In seeking for the key we were sent from house to house
of nearly the whole connection. All appeared to be living in that golden
mean equally removed from the wants and superfluities of life, and all to
be happily interwoven by kind and cordial habits of intimacy. We found the
females of the family generally seated in the patios, or central courts of
their dwellings, beneath the shade of awnings and among shrubs and
flowers. Here the Andalusian ladies are accustomed to pass their mornings
at work, surrounded by their handmaids, in the primitive, or rather
oriental style. In the porches of some of the houses I observed the
coat-of-arms granted to the family by Charles V, hung up like a picture in
a frame. Over the door of Don Luis, the naval officer, it was carved on an
escutcheon of stone, and colored. I had gathered many particulars of the
family also from conversation with Don Juan, and from the family legend
lent me by Don Luis. From all that I could learn, it would appear that the
lapse of nearly three centuries and a half has made but little change in
the condition of the Pinzons. From generation to generation they have
retained the same fair standing and reputable name throughout the
neighborhood, filling offices of public trust and dignity, and possessing
great influence over their fellow-citizens by their good sense and good
conduct. How rare is it to see such an instance of stability of fortune in
this fluctuating world, and how truly honorable is this hereditary
respectability, which has been secured by no titles nor entails, but
perpetuated merely by the innate worth of the race! I declare to you that
the most illustrious descents of mere titled rank could never command the
sincere respect and cordial regard with which I contemplated this stanch
and enduring family, which for three centuries and a half has stood merely
upon its virtues.

As I was to set off on my return to Seville before two o'clock, I partook
of a farewell repast at the house of Don Juan, between twelve and one, and
then took leave of his household with sincere regret. The good old
gentleman, with the courtesy, or rather the cordiality, of a true
Spaniard, accompanied me to the posada, to see me off. I had dispensed but
little money in the posada--thanks to the hospitality of the Pinzons--yet
the Spanish pride of my host and hostess seemed pleased that I had
preferred their humble chamber, and the scanty bed they had provided me,
to the spacious mansion of Don Juan; and when I expressed my thanks for
their kindness and attention, and regaled mine host with a few choice
segars, the heart of the poor man was overcome. He seized me by both hands
and gave me a parting benediction, and then ran after the calasero, to
enjoin him to take particular care of me during my journey.

Taking a hearty leave of my excellent friend Don Juan, who had been
unremitting in his attentions to me to the last moment, I now set off on
my wayfaring, gratified to the utmost with my visit, and full of kind and
grateful feelings towards Moguer and its hospitable inhabitants.



Acuna, Don Alonzo de, summons Columbus to give an account of himself, on
his return from the New World.

Address of an Indian of Cuba to Columbus.

Adelantado, title of, given to Christopher Columbus, confirmed by the

Adrian de Moxica.

Admiral, the, a title granted to Columbus and his descendants.

Africa, essay on the navigation of, by the ancients.

Aguado, Juan, recommended to the Spanish Government by Columbus; appointed
commissioner to inquire into the conduct of Columbus; arrives at Isabella;
his insolent behavior; his interview with Columbus: the Caciques having
preferred complaints against Columbus, he determines on returning to

Alexander VI., pope, character of; famous bulls of, relative to the New
World; letter of Columbus to.

Aliaco, Pedro, work of, referred to, note.

Alligators, found in great numbers at Puerto Bello.

All Saints, discovery of the bay of.

Alonzo, Don, heir-apparent of Portugal, his marriage with the princess

Alpha and Omega, the extreme point of Cuba.

Alva, duke of, Don Diego Columbus marries his daughter; he assists in
obtaining justice for his son-in-law.

Alvaro, Don, de Portugal, attack upon, in the royal tent.

Amazons, an island of supposed; warlike women of the Caribbee islands.
Amazons, river of, discovered by Vicente Pinzon.

Amber, specimens of, among the mountains of Cibao.

Anacaona, wife to Caonabo, retires with her brother Behechio, after the
great battle of the Vega; composes legendary ballads; her admiration of
the Spaniards; counsels her brother to conciliate the friendship of the
Spaniards; her reception of the Adelantado; her wonder and delight at
seeing a Spanish ship; her grief at the departure of the Adelantado; her
conduct in respect to her daughter and Guevara; her admiration of the
Spaniards turned into detestation; receives a visit from Ovando; is
seized; carried in chains to St. Domingo; and ignominiously hanged; her
fine character.

Anana, or the pine-apple, first met with.

Angel, Luis de St., his remonstrance with the queen relative to the
project of Columbus; succeeds.

Antigua, island of, discovered.

Antilles, the, discovered; taken possession of.

Apparitions, ideas of the Haytiens in respect to.

Appendix, containing illustrations and documents.

Arana, Diego de, left in charge of Hispaniola, during the first absence of
Columbus, history of the disaster which occurred to him after the
departure of Columbus.

Arano, Pedro de, commander of one of Columbus's ships on his third voyage.

Areytos, or ballads, of the Haytiens.

Aristizabal, Don Gabriel de, solicits the removal of the remains of

Arriaga, Luis de, is shut up within the walls of Magdalena.

Astrolabe, the, applied to navigation.

Atalantis, Plato's observations on.

Audience, royal, court of, established.

Augustine, St., his arguments against the existence of Antipodes.

Augustine, St., Cape of, discovered by Pinzon.

Aurea Cheraonesus, the place whence Solomon is supposed to have had gold.

Azores, the, when discovered; arrival at by Columbus on his return from
his first voyage.


Babeque, a supposed island, Columbus goes in search of.

Bahama Islands, discovery of; cruise among the.

Ballads of the Haytiens.

Ballester, Miguel, his conduct during the conspiracy of Roldan; receives a
letter from Columbus; his character; interview with Roman; second
interview: sends advice to the admiral; is besieged in the fortress of
Conception; sails for Spain.

Barbas, Las, islands of, discovered.

Barrantes, Garcia de, sails for Spain.

Barros, Joam de, his account of Columbus's proposition to John II. king of

Basil, St., his description of Paradise.

Bastides, Rodrigo, of Seville, explores the coast of Terra Firma.

Baza, surrender of.

Beata, Cape, sailors of Columbus climb the rock of.

Behem, Martin, his planisphere; an account of; the assertion relative to
his having discovered the western world previous to Columbus considered.

Behechio assists Caonabo, and kills one of the wives of Guacanagari; the
only Cacique who does not sue for peace; receives a visit from Bartholomew
Columbus; his reception of him; consents to pay tribute; invites the
Adelantado to come and receive it; his astonishment at visiting a Spanish

Bolen, river of, discovered; abounds in fish; Columbus commences a
settlement on its banks.

Bell of Isabella, the superstitious ideas of the Haytiens in respect to

Belvis, Pablo, sent to Hayti in the place of Fermin Cedo.

Berahoma, condemned to death for having violated the wife of the Cacique
of the Vega; is pardoned.

Bernaldez, Andres, a short account of his life and writings.

Bernardo of Valentia, his conspiracy at Jamaica.

Bloodhounds, first use of in the New World; employed by Columbus in his
wars with the Haytiens.

Bobadilla, Don Francisco de, charged with a commission to Hispaniola to
inquire into the conduct of Columbus; his character; instructions with
which he is charged; sails; arrives at St. Domingo; his judgment formed
before he leaves his ship; assumes power on landing; storms the fortress
of St. Domingo; assumes the government before he investigates the conduct
of Columbus; seizes his arms, gold, secret papers, etc.; summons Columbus
to appear before him; his baseness in collecting evidence; puts Don Diego
in chains; also Columbus; his fears in respect to the Adelantado; puts him
in irons; his mal-administration; a saying of his; superseded in his
government by Ovando; sails for Spain and is lost, with all his crew, in a
violent hurricane.

Boca del Sierpe.

Borgonon, Juan, labors to convert the Haytiens.

Boyle, Bernardo, friar, appointed apostolical vicar for the New World; his
advice to Columbus in respect to Guacanagari; confirms the accounts sent
home by Columbus; consecrates the first church at Isabella; his character
and conduct; his hatred of Columbus; encourages the misconduct of
Margarite; forms the plan of seizing Bartholomew Columbus's ships and
returning to Spain; sees sail; his accusations of Columbus at the court of

Brandan, St., imaginary island of.

Brazils, the, discovered by Vicente Pinzon; a part discovered and taken
possession of for the Portuguese crown by Cabral.

Breviesca, Ximeno de, a worthless hireling; his conduct and punishment.

Bucklers, used by the natives of Trinidad.  Bull of Partition issued by
Pope Martin V.; relative to the New World, issued by Pope Alexander VI..

---- of Demarcation.

Burgos, the court held at.

Butios, the priests of the Haytiens.

Butterflies, clouds of, seen on the southern coast of Cuba.


Cabot, Sebastian, discovers Labrador, supposed to be the first that
visited the main-land of the New World.

Cabral, Pedro Alvarez de, discovers part of the Brazils, and takes
possession of it in the name of the king of Portugal.  Cabron, Cape, or
Capo del Enamorado.

Cacao, first known to the Spaniards.

Caciques, seizure of fourteen, in the night, by Bartholomew Columbus and
his officers.

Canaries, an optical delusion seen by the people of the; arrival of
Columbus at, in his first voyage.

Canoes, capable of containing 150 persons, seen at Puerto Santo; large
size of those at Jamaica.

Caonabo, character and conduct of; takes the fortress at La Navidad; and
massacres the Spaniards; assembles his warriors; Columbus leaves
directions with Margarite to surprise; besieges Ojeda; gives up the siege
and retires; forms a plan of exterminating the Spaniards; invades the
territories of Guacanagari; character of; is visited by Ojeda, with a
design to entrap him; agrees to wait upon Columbus, and sets forward; is
taken by stratagem; is chained; his conduct when in the presence of
Columbus; embarks for Spain; a Guadaloupe woman falls in love with him;
dies on the voyage.

Carocol, Island of.

Cariari, transactions at.

Caribbee Islands, discovered.

Caribs, character of the; origin of; cruelty to.

Caravajal, Don Garcia Lopez de, his embassy to Portugal.

Carvajal, Alonzo de, commander of one of Columbus's ships, on his third
voyage; arrives at Hispaniola; volunteers to endeavor to bring the rebels
of Xavagua to obedience; his ship strikes on a sand-bank; arrives at St.
Domingo by land; suspicions entertained against him; takes a letter from
the admiral to Roldan; takes propositions from Roldan to the admiral;
another interview with Boldan; appointed factor to Columbus; his evidence
relative to the discovery of the coast of Paria by Columbus.

Carracks, description of.

Casas, Las, his character of Don Diego Columbus; his observations
relative to Hayti; his account of two Spaniards; his picture of the
consequences of the administration of Ovando; his account of a combat
between one Indian and two mounted cavaliers; is present at a battle in
Higuey; his remark on the cold reception of Columbus by the king; his
remark in respect to the injustice of Ferdinand; an account of; his zeal
in behalf of the slaves; his dubious expedient to lessen the quantum of
human misery; character of his General History of the Indies.

Castaneda, Juan de, his disgraceful reception of Columbus on his return
from the New World; cause of his conduct.

Catalina, a Carib, her admiration of Guacanagari; proposes to her
captive companions an attempt to regain their liberty; escapes by

Catalina, a female Cacique, falls in love with Miguel Diaz; imparts to
him a knowledge of the gold mines of Hayna.

Cathay, accounts of Marco Polo in respect to; of Sir John Mandeville.

Catherine, St., discovery of.

Cavern, near Cape Francois, description of.

Caymans, islands of.

Cedo, Fermin, his opinion in respect to the gold found in Hispaniola;
Belvis sent in Ms place.

Ceuta, the bishop of, his arguments against the proposition of Columbus;
proposes to the council to keep Columbus in suspense, and in the mean time
to send a ship in the route proposed; this advice acted upon; and fails.

Chanca, Dr., confirms the accounts sent home by Columbus.

Charles VIII., king of France, his kindness to Bartholomew Columbus.

Charles V. succeeds his grandfather, Ferdinand; recognizes the innocence
of Don Diego Columbus; acknowledges the right of Don Diego to exercise the
office of viceroy; his orders in respect to the claims of Don Diego's
widow; his ordinances relative to the slave trade.

Charlevoix, his description of the sea of the Antilles, Chaufepic, Jacques
George, a passage from, in respect to the Coloinbos.

Chvistoval, St., fortress of, erected by Bartholomew Columbus;
mountains of.

Cibao, Columbus's expedition to the mountains of; meaning of the word
Cibao; Luxan's description of the mountains of.

Ciguayens, a warlike Indian tribe, account of.

Cintra, rock of, arrival at, by Columbus, on his return from the New

Cipango (or Japan), Marco Polo's account of.

Cities, island of the seven.

Cladera, Don Christoval, his refutation of a letter written by M. Otto, to
Dr. Franklin.

Colon, Diego, acts as interpreter; his speech to the natives of Cuba;
marries the daughter of the Cacique Guarionex.

Colombo, the old Genoese admiral, conveys the king of Portugal to the
Mediterranean coast of France.

Colombo, the younger (nephew of the old admiral), a famous corsair.

----, Balthazar, of Cuccaro, loses his cause in respect to the heirship of

----, Juan, commander of one of Columbus's ships on his third voyage.

Colombos, the navigators, an account of; capture of the Venetian galleys.

Columbus, Bartholomew, accompanies Bartholomew Diaz along the coast of
Africa; an account of his proceedings; arrives at Valladolid; sent to
assist his brother with three ships; character of; is invested by
Columbus with the title and authority of Adelantado; attends his brother
in his expedition against the Indians of the Vega; goes to the mines of
Ilayna; is invested with the command on the return of Columbus to Spain;
takes Porras prisoner; sails to meet his brother; account of his
administration during the absence of Columbus; sends 300 Indians to Spain
to be sold as slaves; erects the fortress of San Domingo; pays a visit to
Behechio; his reception; demands a tribute; establishes a chain of
military posts; causes several Indians who had broken some Christian
images, etc., to be burnt; marches against the Caciques, who had formed a
conspiracy against the Spaniards; causes them to be seized; pardons most
of them; again visits Behechio to receive the tribute of cotton; his skill
in government; a conspiracy formed against him by Roldan; narrowly escapes
assassination; repairs to the Vega in relief of Fort Conception; his
interview with Roldan; is shut up in Fort Conception; relieved by the
arrival of Coronal; publishes an amnesty to all who return to their duty;
marches against Guarionex, who has rebelled; his campaign in the mountains
of Ciguay; releases the wife of one of the Caciques whom he had taken with
Mayobanex; favorable consequences of this; his vigorous proceedings
against the rebels engaged in the conspiracy of Guevara and Moxica; is put
in irons by Bobadilla; accompanies Columbus on his fourth voyage; waits on
the governor of Ercilla; takes possession of Cape Honduras in the name of
the sovereigns of Castile; lands at Cariari; forms a plan to seize
Quibian; does so, with his wives and children; Quibian escapes; and
attacks in return; is finally compelled to remove the settlement to
another place; is in great danger; compelled to embark with his brother
and all his men; sets sail from St. Domingo for Spain with his brother;
proceeds to court to urge the justice of the king; accompanies his brother
to court; goes to represent his brother on the arrival of the new king
and queen of Castile; is sent out to St. Domingo by Ferdinand to admonish
his nephew, Don Diego; is presented with the property and government of
Mona for life, etc.; dies at St. Domingo; his character.

Columbus, Christopher, account of his birth, parentage, and education;
early life of; his first voyage; engages in the service of Reinier, king
of Naples; alters the point of the compass of his ship to deceive his
discontented crew; engaged in the Mediterranean and the Levant; said to be
appointed captain of several Genoese ships in the service of Louis XI.;
his gallant conduct when sailing with Colombo the younger; goes to Lisbon,
where he takes up his residence; picture of his person; early character;
becomes enamored of Doña Felipa Monis de Palestrello, whom he marries;
becomes possessed of his father-in-law's charts, journals, etc.; removes
to the island of Porto Santo; becomes acquainted with Pedro Correo, a
navigator of note; is animated with a wish to make discoveries; grounds on
which he founds his belief of the existence of undiscovered countries in
the West; correspondence of Columbus with Paulo Toscanelli: makes a voyage
to the north of Europe; the astrolabe having been applied to navigation,
Columbus proposes a voyage of discovery to John II. king of Portugal; this
proposition is referred to a junto charged with all matters relating to
maritime discovery; who regard the project as visionary; the king then
refers it to his council; by whom it is condemned; a ship is secretly sent
in the direction proposed, but returns: Columbus's indignation; loses his
wife; quits Portugal; goes to Genoa and proposes his project to the
government; it is rejected; supposed by some to have carried his plan to
Venice; visits his father; arrives in Spain, and requests a little bread
and water at a convent of Franciscan friars; the prior detains him as a
guest; and invites Garcia Fernandez to meet him; gives him letters of
introduction to Fernando de Talavera, queen Isabella's confessor; sets out
for Cordova; arrives there; finds it impossible to obtain a hearing; the
queen's confessor regards his plan as impossible; maintains himself by
designing maps and charts; is received into the house of Alonzo de
Quintanilla; introduced to the archbishop of Toledo; who gives him an
attentive hearing; becomes his friend and procures him an audience of the
king; who desires the prior of Prado to assemble astronomers, etc. to hold
conference with him; Columbus appears before the assembly at Salamanca;
arguments against his theory; his reply; the subject experiences
procrastination and neglect; is compelled to follow the movements of the
court; his plan recommended by the marchioness of Moya; receives an
invitation to return to Portugal from John II.; receives a favorable
letter from Henry VII. of England; distinguishes himself in the campaign
of 1489, and is impressed deeply with the arrival and message of two
friars from the soldan of Egypt relative to the Holy Land; determines to
devote the profits arising from his intended discovery to the purpose of
rescuing the holy sepulchre from the hands of the infidels; council of
learned men again convened; who pronounce the scheme vain and impossible;
receives a message from the sovereigns; has an audience of the sovereigns:
leaves Seville in disgust; forms a connection with Beatrix Enriquez;
applies to the duke of Medina Sidonia, who rejects his plan; applies to
the duke of Medina Celi, who is prevented from acceding to his plan from a
fear of the court; returns to the convent of La Rabida; Alonzo Pinzon
offers to pay his expenses in a renewed application to the court; returns
at the desire of the queen; witnesses the surrender of Granada to the
Spanish arms; negotiation with persons appointed by the sovereigns; his
propositions are considered extravagant; are pronounced inadmissible;
lower terms are offered him, which he rejects; the negotiation broken off;
quits Santa Fé; Luis de St. Angel reasons with the queen; who at last
consents; a messenger dispatched to recall Columbus; he returns to Santa
Fé; arrangement with the Spanish sovereigns; his son appointed page to
prince Juan; he returns to La Rabida; preparations at the Port of Palos,
and apprehensions there relative to the expedition; not a vessel can be
procured; they are at last furnished; Columbus hoists his flag; sails;
prologue to his voyage; an account of the map he had prepared previous to
sailing; difficulties begin to arise; arrives at the Canaries; comes in
sight of Mount Teneriffe; arrives at Gomera; the news which reached him
there; alarm of his sailors on losing all sight of land; begins to keep
two reckonings; falls in with part of a mast; notices a variation of the
needle; his opinion relative to that phenomenon; they are visited by two
birds; terrors of the seamen; sees large patches of weeds; his situation
becomes more critical; part of his crew determine, should he refuse to
return, to throw him into the sea; false appearance of land; his crew
become exceedingly clamorous; the assertion that he capitulated with them
disproved; his address to the crew; sees a light; land discovered; the
reward for land adjudged to him; lands on the island of St. Salvador;
which he takes possession of in the name of the Castilian sovereigns; the
surprise of the natives: gold first discovered; reconnoitres the island;
takes seven of the inhabitants to teach them Spanish that they might
become interpreters; discovers Santa Maria de la Conception; discovers
Exuma; discovers Isabella; hears of two islands called Cuba and Bohio:
sails in search of the former; discovers it; takes formal possession;
sends two Spaniards up the country; coasts along the shore; return of the
Spaniards with their report; goes in search of the supposed island of
Babeque; discovers an archipelago, to which he gives the name of the
King's Garden; desertion of Alonzo Pinzon; discovers St. Catherine, in
which he finds stones veined with gold; specimen of his style in
description; reaches what he supposes to be the eastern extremity of Asia;
discovers Hispaniola; its transcendent appearance; enters a harbor, to
which he gives the name of St. Nicholas; a female brought to him who wore
an ornament of gold in her nose; coasts along the shores; is visited by a
Cacique; receives a message from Guacanagari; his ship strikes upon a
sand-bank in the night; some of his crew desert in a boat; the ship
becomes a wreck, and he takes refuge on board a caravel; receives
assistance from Guacanagari; transactions with the natives; is invited to
the residence of Guacanagari; his affectionate reception of him; his
people desire to have permission to remain in the island; he forms the
plan of a colony and the design of constructing a fortress; and of
returning to Spain for reinforcements; entertained in the most hospitable
manner by Guacanagari; who procures for him a great quantity of gold
previous to his departure; his address to the people; gives a feast to the
chieftains; sails; coasts towards the eastern end of Hispaniola: meets
with Pinzon; Pinzon's apology; account of the Ciguayens; the first native
blood shed by the whites; account of the return voyage; encounters violent
storms; the crew draw lots who shall perform pilgrimages; two lots fall to
the admiral; vows made; commits an account of his voyage in a barrel to
the sea; land discovered; which proves to be the Azores; transactions at
St. Mary's; receives supplies and a message from the governor; attempted
performance of the vow made during the storm; the seamen taken prisoners
by the rabble, headed by the governor; the governor's disgraceful conduct;
seamen liberated; cause of the governor's conduct; violent gales; lots for
pilgrimages again cast; arrives off Cintra, in Portugal; writes to the
sovereigns and the king of Portugal; is summoned by a Portuguese admiral
to give an account of himself; effect of his return at Lisbon; receives an
invitation from the king of Portugal; interview with the king; jealousy of
the king excited; a proposition to the king by some of his courtiers to
assassinate Columbus and take advantage of his discoveries; rejected by
the king; disgraceful plot of the king to rob Spain of the newly-discovered
possessions; his interview with the queen of Portugal; enters
the harbor of Palos; account of his reception there; arrival of Pinzon;
receives an invitation from the sovereigns at Barcelona; his reception on
the road; is received in a magnificent manner by the courtiers; and the
sovereigns; his vow in respect to the holy sepulchre; the manner in which
his discoveries were received throughout Europe; a coat of arms given him;
the manner in which he receives the honors paid to him; preparations for a
second voyage; agreement made with the sovereigns; powers with which he is
invested; takes leave of the sovereigns at Barcelona; arrives at Seville;
prepares for the voyage; ideas of Columbus and the people relative to the
New World; insolence of Juan de Soria; conduct of Fonseca: departure on
his second voyage; anchors at Gornera; gives sealed instructions to the
commander of each vessel; sees a swallow; encounters a storm; sees the
lights of St. Elmo; discovers the Caribbee Islands; takes possession of
them; discovers Guadaloupe; transactions there; cruises among the
Caribbees; arrives at Hispaniola; at the gulf of Samana; anchors at Monte
Christi; arrives at La Navidad; is visited by a cousin of the Cacique;
learns a disaster which had occurred at the fortress; visits Guacanagari:
abandons La Navidad: founds the city of Isabella at Monte Christi; falls
sick; sends Alonzo de Ojeda to explore the interior of the island;
dispatches twelve ships to Spain; requests fresh supplies; recommends
Pedro Margarite and Juan Aguado to the patronage of the government;
recommends a curious plan in respect to an exchange of Caribs for live
stock; recommendation of Columbus in respect to the Caribs; his conduct in
respect to Diaz's mutiny; consequences; sets out on an expedition to the
mountains of Cibao; erects a fortress of wood among the mountains; returns
to Isabella; receives unpleasant intelligence from Pedro Margarite;
sickness in the colony; puts his people on short allowance, Sol; offends
the Hidalgos, by making them share the common labors of the colony;
distributes his forces in the interior; gives the command of them to Pedro
Margarite; his instructions to that officer; instructs Margarite to
surprise and secure Caonabo; his conduct in respect to Haytien thieves;
sails for Cuba; visits La Navidad; arrives at St. Nicholas; lands at
Guantanamo; anchors at St. Jago; sails in search of Bubeque; discovers
Jamaica; received in a hostile manner: takes possession of the island;
amicable intercourse with the natives; returns to Cuba; lands at Cabo de
la Cruz; encounters a storm; becomes engaged in a most difficult
navigation; discovers an archipelago, to which he gives the name of the
Queen's Gardens; hears of a province called Mangon, which greatly excites
his attention; coasts along the southern side of Cuba; encounters a
dangerous navigation in A white pea; sends parties to explore the interior
of the country; deceives himself in respect to what he wishes; fancies he
has arrived on that part of Asia which is beyond the boundaries of the Old
World, laid down by Ptolemy; anticipates returning to Spain by the Aurea
Chersonesus, Taprobana, the Straits of Babelmandel, and the Red Sea, or
the Coast of Africa; returns along the southern coast of Cuba, in the
assurance that Cuba was the extremity of the Asiatic continent; discovers
the island of Evangelista; his ship runs aground; sails along the province
of Ornofay: erects crosses in conspicuous situations to denote his
discoveries; is addressed by an Indian; takes an Indian with him: his ship
leaks; reaches Santa Cruz; coasts along the south side of Jamaica; his
ship visited by a Cacique and his whole family; who offer to accompany him
to Spain to do homage to the king and queen; he evades this offer; coasts
along the south side of Hispaniola; makes an error in reckoning; arrives
at Mona; is suddenly deprived of all his faculties; arrives at Isabella;
is joined by his brother Bartholomew; invests him with the title and
authority of Adelantado; is visited by Guacanagari, who informs him of a
league formed against him by the Haytien Caciques; his measures to restore
the quiet of the island; wins over Guarionex, and prevails upon him to
give his daughter in, marriage to Diego Colon; builds Fort, Conception in
the territories of Guarionex; Caonabo is delivered into his hands by
Ojeda; he puts him in chains; his interview with him; his anxiety relieved
by the arrival of Antonio de Torres; sends home specimens of gold, plants,
etc., and five hundred Indian prisoners to be sold as slaves; undertakes
an expedition against the Indians of the Vega; a battle ensues; the
Indians defeated; makes a military tour through various parts of the
island, and reduces is to obedience; imposes a tribute; refuses the offer
of Guarionex to cultivate grain, instead of paying in gold; erects forts;
the natives having destroyed the crops, are hunted and compelled to return
to their labors; account of the intrigues against Columbus in the court of
Spain; charges brought against him; his popularity declines in
consequence; measures taken in Spain; Aguado arrives at Isabella to
collect information relative to the state of the colony; his dignified
conduct at his first interview with Aguado; the Caciques prefer complaints
against him: he resolves on returning to Spain; a violent hurricane occurs
previous to his departure, which sinks six caravels; pleased with the
discovery of the gold mines of Hayna; orders a fort to be erected; invests
his brother with the command; fails for Spain; arrives at Guadaloupe; his
politic conduct there; leaves Guadaloupe: a famine on board the ships; his
magnanimous conduct; arrives in Spain.; his representation of things;
writes instructions for ibe conduct of Bartholomew; invited to court;
favorably received; proposes a third voyage of discovery; the king
promises him ships; delays and their causes; refuses the title of duke or
marquess, and a grant of lands in Hispaniola; terms on winch he was to
sail: honors bestowed upon him; his respect and love for Genoa; makes his
will; odium thrown upon his enterprises; plan to which he was compelled to
resort to procure men for his third voyage; in consequence of delays, he
almost resolves to give up all further enterprise; chastises a minion of
Fonseca; consequences of this chastisement; sets sail; his opinion in
respect to a continent in the Southern Ocean; arrives at Gomera; retakes a
Spanish ship; is seized with a fit of the gout; arrives among the Cape de
Verde Islands: sees the island Bel Fuego; arrives under the line; the heat
becomes intolerable, and he alters his course; discovers Trinidad;
discovers Terra Firma; steers along the coast of Trinidad; difficulty in
respect to a rapid current; enters the Gulf of Paria; suffers from a
complaint in the eyes; discovers the islands of Margarita and Cubagua;
exchanges plates, etc., for pearls; his complaint in the eyes increases;
arrives at Hispaniola; his brother soils to meet him; his constitution
seems to give way; his speculations relative to the coast of Paria; polar
star augmentation; doubts the received theory of the earth; accounts for
variation of the needle; difference of climate, etc.; arrives at San
Domingo; state of his health, on arriving at Hispaniola; state of the
colony; negotiates with the rebels; offers free passage to all who desire
to return to Spain; offers a pardon to Roldan, which is received with
contempt; writes to Spain an account of the rebellion, etc., and requires
a judge and some missionaries to be sent out: writes a conciliating letter
to Roldan; interviews with Roldan; issues a proclamation of pardon;
receives proposals, which he accedes to; goes on a tour to visit the
various stations; receives a cold letter from the sovereigns, written by
Fonseca; the former arrangement with Roldan not having been carried into
effect, enters into a second; grants lands to Roldan's followers;
considers Hispaniola in the light of a conquered country; reduces the
natives to the condition of villains or vassals: grants lands to Roldan;
determines on returning to Spain; but is prevented by circumstances;
writes to the sovereigns, entreating them to inquire into the truth of the
late transactions; requests that his son, Diego, might be sent out to him;
sends Roldan to Alonzo de Ojeda, who has arrived on the western coast on a
voyage of discovery; his indignation at the breach of prerogative implied
by this voyage; hears of a conspiracy entered into against him by Guevara
and Moxica; seizes Moxica; and orders him to be flung headlong from the
battlements of Fort Conception; vigorous proceedings against the rebels;
beneficial consequences; visionary fancy at night; representations at
court against him; his sons insulted at Granada; the queen is offended at
his pertinacity in making slaves of those taken in warfare; and consents
to the sending out a commission to investigate his conduct; Bobadilla is
sent out; and arrives at St. Domingo; his judgment formed before he leaves
his ship; he seizes upon the government before he investigates the conduct
of Columbus; Columbus is summoned to appear before Bobadilla; goes to St.
Domingo without guards or retinue, and is put in irons and confined in the
fortress; his magnanimity; charges against him; jubilee of miscreants on
his degradation; his colloquy with Villejo, previous to their sailing;
sails; arrives at Cadiz; sensation in Spain on his arrival in irons; sends
a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, with an account of his treatment;
indignation of the sovereigns at reading this account; is invited to
court; his gracious reception there; his emotion; is promised a full
restitution of his privileges and dignities; disappointed in receiving
them; causes; his interests ordered to be respected in Hispaniola by
Ovando; remembers his vow to furnish an army wherewith to recover the Holy
Sepulchre; endeavors to incite the sovereigns to the enterprise; forms a
plan for a fourth voyage, which is to eclipse all former ones; writes to
Pope Alexander VII.; manuscript copy of, note; takes measures to secure
his fame by placing it under the guardianship of his native country; sails
from Cadiz; arrives at Ercilla; at the Grand Canary; at St. Domingo;
requests permission to shelter in the harbor, as he apprehends a storm;
his request refused; a violent hurricane soon after sweeps the sea, in
which he and his property are preserved, and several of his bitterest
enemies overwhelmed; encounters another storm; discovers Guanaga; a
Cacique eomes on board his ship with a multitude of articles, the produce
of the country; selects some to send them to Spain; is within two days'
sail of Yucatan; natives different from any he had yet seen; voyages along
the coast of Honduras; encounters violent storms of thunder and lightning;
voyage along the Mosquito shore; passes a cluster of islands, to which he
gives the name of Limonares; comes to an island, to which he gives the
name of La Huerta, or the Garden; transactions at Cariari; voyage along
Costa Rica; speculations concerning the isthmus of Veragua; discovery of
Puerto Bello; discovery of El Retrete; disorders of his men at this port,
and the consequences; relinquishes the further prosecution of his voyage
eastward; returns to Puerto Bello; encounters a furious tempest; is near
being drowned by a water-spout; returns to Veragua; regards gold as one of
the mystic treasures, note; is nearly being wrecked in port; gives his
name to the mountains of Veragua; sends his brother to explore the
country; which appears to be impregnated with gold; believes that he has
reached one of the most favored ports of the Asiatic continent; commences
a settlement on the river Belen; determines on returning to Spain for
reinforcements; is stopped by discovering a conspiracy of the natives;
sends his brother to surprise Quibian; who is seized; and afterwards
escapes; disasters at the settlement stop his sailing; some of his
prisoners escape, and others destroy themselves; his anxiety produces
delirium; is comforted by a vision; the settlement is abandoned, and the
Spaniards embark for Spain; departure from the coast of Veragua; sails for
Hispaniola; arrives at Puerto Bello: at the entrance of the Gulf of
Darien; at the Queen's Gardens; encounters another violent tempest;
arrives at Cape Cruz; at Jamaica; runs his ships on shore; arranges with
the natives for supplies of provisions; his conversation with Diego Mendez
to induce him to go in a canoe to St. Domingo; Mendez offers to go;
Columbus writes to Ovando for a ship to take him and his crew to
Hispaniola; writes to the sovereigns; Mendez embarks; the Porras engage in
a mutiny; the mutiny becomes general; is confined by the gout; rushes out
to quell the mutiny, but is borne back to the cabin by the few who remain
faithful; the mutineers embark on board ten Indian canoes; provisions
become exceedingly scarce; employs a stratagem to obtain supplies from the
natives; another conspiracy is formed; arrival of Diego de Escobar from
Hispaniola on a mission from the governor, promising that a ship shall
soon be sent to his relief; overtures of the admiral to the mutineers; not
accepted; they send a petition for pardon; it is granted; two ships arrive
from Hispaniola; departure of Columbus; arrives at Beata; anchors in the
harbor of St. Domingo; is enthusiastically received by the people; is
grieved at the desolation he sees everywhere around him; finds that his
interests had been disregarded; sets sail for Spain; encounters several
tempests; anchors in the barbor of St. Luear; finds all his affairs in
confusion; is compelled to live by borrowing; writes to King Ferdinand;
but, receiving unsatisfactory replies, would have set out for Seville, but
is prevented by his infirmities: death of Queen Isabella; is left to the
justice of Ferdinand; employs Vespucci; goes with his brother to court,
then held at Segovia; is received in a very cold manner; Don Diego de Deza
is appointed arbitrator between the king and the admiral; his claims are
referred to the Junta de Descargos; is confined with a violent attack of
the gout; petitions the king that his son Diego may be appointed, in his
place, to the government of which lie bad been so long deprived; his
petition remains unattended to; writes to the new king and queen of
Castile; who promise a speedy and prosperous termination to his suit; his
last illness; writes a testamentary codicil on the blank page of a little
breviary; writes a final codicil; receives the sacrament; dies; his
burial; his remains removed to Hispaniola, disinterred and conveyed to the
Havana; epitaph; observations on his character; his remains removed with
great ceremony to Cuba; reflections thereon; historical account of his
descendants; an important lawsuit relative to the beirship (in the female
line) to the family titles and property; decided in favor of Don Nuno
Golves do Portugallo; an account of his lineage; an account of his
birthplace; an account of the ships he used; an examination of his route
in the first voyage; the effect of the travels of Marco Polo on his mind;
his belief in the imaginary island of St. Brandan; an account of the
earliest narratives of his first and second voyages; his ideas relative to
the situation of the terrestrial paradise; his will; his signature.

Columbus, Don Diego, character of; intrusted with the command of the ships
during the expedition of Columbus to the mountains of Cibao; made
president of the junta; reproves Pedro Margarito for his irregularities;
the Hidalgos form a faction against him during the absence of his brother;
returns to Isabella; a conspiracy formed against him by Roldan; left in
command at St. Domingo, during the tour of Columbus; his conduct on the
arrival of Bobadilla; seized by order of Bobadilla, thrown in irons, and
confined on board of a caravel.

----, Don Diego (son to Christopher), appointed page to Queen Isabella:
embarks with his father on his second expedition; left in charge of his
father's interests in Spain; his ingratitude to Mendez, and falsification
of his promise; his character; succeeds to the rights of his father, as
viceroy and governor of the New World; urges the king to give him those
rights; commences a process against the king before the council of the
Indies; the defence set up: the suit lasts several years; becomes enamored
of Doña Maria Toledo; a decision, in respect to part of his claim, raises
him to great wealth; marries Doña Maria, niece to the Duke of Aiva;
through this connection he obtains the dignities and powers enjoyed by
Nicolas de Ovando; embarks for Hispaniola; keeps up great state; becomes
embroiled with some of his father's enemies; the court of royal audience
established as a check upon him; opposes the repartimientos; his virtues
make him unpopular, subjugates and settles the island of Cuba without the
loss of a single man; sails for Spain to vindicate his conduct; is well
received; the death of Ferdinand; obtains a recognition of his innocence
of all charges against him from Charles V.: and has his right acknowledged
to exercise the office of viceroy and governor in all places discovered by
his father; sails for St. Domingo, where he arrives; difficulties he has
to encounter; African slaves having been introduced and most cruelly used,
they revolt; are subdued; is accused of usurping too much power; receives
in consequence a severe letter from the council of the Indies; and is
desired to repair to court to vindicate himself; sails, lands, and appears
before the court at Victoria; clears himself; prosecutes his claims,
follows the court from city to city; is attacked by a slow fever; dies;
his family.

Columbus, Fernando (son to Christopher), accompanies his father on his
fourth voyage; his father's encomium on him; embarks for Hispaniola with
Don Diego; an account of him; writes a history of his father.

----, Don Luis (son to Don Diego), prosecutes the claims of his father and
grandfather; compromises all claims for two titles and a pension; dies.

Commerce, despotic influence of the Spanish crown in respect to.

Compass, the, brought into more general use.

Conception, Santa Maria de la, discovery of.

---- Fort, erected by Columbus; present state of, note.

Contradictions, the coast of.

Convicts who had accompanied Columbus, conduct of, in Hispaniola.

Copper hatchets seen among the Indians of Guanaca.

Coral found in Veragua.

Cormorants, large nights of, seen on the south coast of Cuba.

Coronel, Pedro Fernandez, sails for Hayti with two ship