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stacles to protract the preparations for Columbus's expedition, that a year clapsed before he could procure two ships to carry over a part of the fupplies destined for the colony, and almost two years were spent before the small squadron was equipped of which he himself was to take the command.
This squadron consisted of fix ships only, of no great burden, and but indiferently provided for a long er dangerous navigation. This voyage which he now meditated was in a course different from any he had undertaken. As he was fully persuaded that the fertile regions of India lay to the south-west of those countries which he had discovered, he proposed, as the most certain method of finding out these, to fiand directly south from the Canary or Cape de Verd islands, until he came under the equinoctial line, and then too ftretch to the west before the favourable wind for such a course, which blows invariably between the tropics. With this idea he set sail, on May the thirtieth, one thousand four hundred and ninety-eight, and touched first at the Canary, and then at the Cape de Verd islands, on July the fourth. From the former he dispatched three of his ships with a supply of provisions for the colony in Hispaniola : with the other three, he continued his voyage towards the fouth. No remarkable occurrence happened till July the nineteenth, when they arrived within five degrees of the line. There they were becalmed, and at the same time the heat became so exceffive, that many of their wine casks burst, the liquor in others foured, and their provisions corrupted. The Spaniards, who had never ventured so far to the south, were afraid that the ships would take fire, and began to apprehend the reality of what the ancients had taught concerning the destructive qualities of that torrid region of the globe. They were relieved, in some measure, from their fears by a seasonable fall of rain. This, however, though so heavy and unintermitting that the men could hardly keep the deck, did not greatly mitigate the intenseness of the heat. The admiral, who with his usual vigilance had in person directed every operation, from the beginning of the voyage, was so much exhausted by fatigue and want of neep, that it brought on a violent fit of the gout, accompanied with a fever. All these circumstances constrained him to yield to the importunities of his crew, and to alter his course to the north-west, in order to reach some of the Caribbee islands, where he might refit, and be supplied with provisions.
On the first of August, the man stationed in the round top surprised them with the joyful cry of land. They stood towards it, and discovered a considerable isand, which the admiral called Trinidad, a name it still retains. It lies on the coast of Guiană, near the mouth of the
Orinoco. This, though a river only of the third or fourth magnitude in the New World, far furpasses any of the streams in our hemisphere. It rolls towards the ocean such a vast body of water, and rushes into it with such impetuous force, that when it meets the tide, which on that coast rises to an uncommon height, their collision occasions a swell and agitation of the waves no less surprising than formidable. In this con- . flict, the irresistible torrent of the river so far prevails, that it freshens the ocean many leagues with its flood. Columbus, before he could perceive the danger, was entangled among those adverse currents and tempestuous waves, and it was with the utmost difficulty that he e caped through a narrow ftrait, which appeared so tremendous, that he called it La Boca del Drago. As soon as the consternation which this occafioned, permitted him to reflect upon the nature of an appearance so extraordinary, he discerned in it a source of comfort and hope. He justly concluded, that such a vast body of water as this river contained, could not be fupplied by any ifand, but must flow through a country of immense extent, and of consequence that he was now arrived at that con. tinent which it had long been the object of his wishes to discover. Full of this idea, he stood to the west along the coast of those provinces which are now known by the names of Paria and Cumana. He landed in several places, and had some intercourse with the people, who resembled those of Hispaniola in their appearance and manner of life. They wore, as ornaments, small plates of gold, and pearls of confiderable value, which they willingly exchanged for European toys. They feemed to possess a better undertanding, and greater courage, than the inhabitants of the islands. The country produced four-footed animals of several kinds, as well as a great variety of fowls and fruits. The admiral was so much delighted with its beauty and fertility, that with the warin enthusiasm of a discoverer, he imagined it to be the paradise de. feribed in Scripture, which the Almighty chose for the residence of man, while he retained innocence that rendered him worthy of such a habitation. Thus Columbus had the glory not only of discovering to mankind the existence of a New World, but made considerable progress towards a perfect knowledge of it; and was the first man who conducted the Spaniards to that vait continent which has been the chief seat of their empire, and the fource of their treasures in this quarter of the globe. The shattered condition of his ships, scarcity of provisions, his own infirmities, together with the impatience of his crew, prevented him from pursuing his discoveries any farther, and made it necessary to
for Hispaniola. In his way thither he discovered the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, which afterwards became remarkable for 4
their pearl-fishery. When he arrived at Hispaniola, on the thirtieth of August, he was wasted to an extreme degree with fatigue and sickness; but found the affairs of the colony in such a situation, as afforded him no prospect of enjoying that repose of which he stood so much in need.
Many revolutions had happened in that country during his absence. His brother the adelantado, in consequence of the advice which the admiral gave before his departure, had removed the colony from Isabella to a more commodious station, on the opposite side of the island, and laid the foundation of St. Domingo, which was long the most considerable European town in the New World, and the seat of the supreme courts in the Spanish dominions there. As soon as the Spaniards were established in this new settlement, the adelantado, that they might neither languish in inactivity, nor have leisure to forin new cabals, marched into those parts of the island which his brother had not yet visited or reduced to obedience. As the people were unable to refift, they submitted every where to the tribute which he imposed. But they foon found the burden to be so intolerable, that, overawed as they were by the superior power of their oppreffors, they took arms against them. Those insurrections, however, were not formidable. A conflict with timid and naked Indians was neither dangerous nor of doubtful issue.
But while the adelantado was employed against them in the field, a mutiny, of an aspect far more alarming, broke out among the Spaniards. The ringleader of it was Francis Roldan, whom Columbus had placed in a ftation which required him to be the guardian of order and tranquility in the colony. A turbulent and inconsiderate ambition precipitated him into this desperate measure, so unbecoming his rank. The arguments which he employed to seduce his countrymen were frivolous and ill-founded. He accused Columbugand his two brothers of arrogance and severity; he pretended that they aimed at establishing an independent dominion in the country; he taxed them with an intention of cutting off part of the Spaniards by hunger and fatigue, that they might more easily reduce the remainder to subjection; he reprefented it as unworthy of Castilians, to remain the tame and paflive flaves, of three Gconese adventurers. As men liave always a propensity to impute the hardships of which they feel the pressure, to the misconduet of their rulers; as every nation views with a jealous eye the power and exaltation of foreigners, Roldan's insinuations made a deep impresion on his countrymen. His character and rank added weight to them. A considerable number of the Spaniards made choice of him as their leader, and taking arms against the adelantado and his brother, Luized the king's magazine of provisions, and endeavoured to surprise
the fort at St. Domingo. This was preserved by the vigilance and courage of Don Diego Columbus. The mutineers were obliged to retire to the province of Xaragua, where they continued not only to difclaim the adelantado's authority themselves, but excited the Indians to throw off the yoke.
Such was the distracted state of the colony when Columbus landed at St. Domingo. He was astonished to find that the three ships which he had dispatched from the Canaries were not yet arrived. By the unkila fulness of the pilots, and the violence of currents, they had been carried a hundred and fixty miles to the west of St. Domingo, and forced to take shelter in a harbour of the province of Xaragua, where Roldan and his feditious followers were cantoned. Roldan carefully concealed from the commanders of the ships his insurrection against the adelantado, and employing his utmost address to gain their confidence, persuaded them to set on shore a considerable part of the new settlers whom they brought over, that they might proceed by land to St. Domingo. It required but few arguments to prevail with those men to espouse his cause. They were the refuse of the jails of Spain, to whom idleness, licentiousness, and deeds of violence were familiar; and they returned eagerly to a course of life nearly resembling that to which they had been accustomed. The commanders of the ships perceiving, when it was too late, their imprudence in disembarking so many of their men, stood away for St. Domingo, and got safe into the port a few days after the admiral; but their stock of provisions was so wasted during a voyage of such long continuance, that they brought little relief to the colony.
By this junction with a band of such bold and desperate associates, Roldan became extremely formidable, and no less extravagant in his demands. Columbus, though filled with resentment at his ingratitude, and highly exasperated by the insolence of his followers, made no hafte to take the field. He trembled at the thoughts of kindling the flames of a civil war, in which, whatever party prevailed, the power and strength of both must be so much wafted, as might encourage the come mon enemy to unite and complete their destruction. Ar the same time, he observed, that the prejudices and passions which incited the rebels to take arms, had so far infected those who still adhered to him, that many of them were adverse, and all cold to the service. From such sentiments with respect to the public intereft, as well as from this view of his own situation, he chose to negociate rather than to fight. By a seasonable proclamation, offering free pardon to such as-should merit it by returning to their duty, he made impreslion upon some of the malcontents. By engaging to grant such as should defite it the liberty of returning to No, II,
Spain, he allured all those unfortunate adventurers, who, from ficknels and disappointment, were disgusted with the country. By promising to re-establish Roldan in his former office, he foothed his pride; and by complying with most of his demands in behalf of his followers, he satisfied their avarice. Thus, gradually and without bloodshed, but after many tedious negociations, he dissolved this dangerous combinarion which threatened the colony with ruin; and restored the appeasance of order, regular government, and tranquillity.
In consequence of this agreement with the mutineers, lands were al loted them in different parts of the island, and the Indians settled in each dittri&t were appointed to cultivate a certain portion of ground for the use of those new masters *. The performance of this work was substituted in place of the tribute formerly imposed; and how necefsary foever such a regulation might be in a sickly and feeble colony, it introduced among the Spaniards the Repartimientos, or distributions of Indians established by them in all their settlements, which brough numberless calamities upon that unhappy people, and subjected them to the most grievous oppression. This was not the only bad effect of the insurrection in Hispaniola ; it prevented Columbus from prosecuting his discoveries on the continent, as self-preservation obliged him to keep near his person his brother the adelantado, and the sailors whom he in. tended to have employed in that ferrice. As soon as his affairs would permit, he sent some of his ships to Spain with a journal of the voyage which he had made, a description of the new countries which he had discovered, a chart of the coast along which he had failed, and specie mens of the gold, the pearls, and other curious or valuable productions which he had acquired by trafficking with the natives. At the same time he transmitted an account of the insurrection in Hispaniola ; he accused the mutineers not only of having thrown the colony into such violent convulfions as threatened its diffolution, but of having obstructed every attempt towards discovery and improvement, by their unprovoked rebellion against their superiors, and proposed several regula. tions for the better government of the island, as well as the extinction of that mutinous fpirit, which, though suppressed at present, might foon burst out with additional rage. Roldan and his associates did not nego lect to convey to Spain, by the same thips, an apology for their own conduct, together with their recriminations upon the admiral and his brothers. Unfortunately for the honour of Spain, and the happiness of Columbus, the latter gained most credit in the court of Ferdinand and labella, and produced unexpected effects.