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of the tropics. The greater part of the colonists were either confined by illness, or reduced to great debility. The stock of medicines was exhausted, and European provisions began to fail, much having been spoiled and much wasted. To avert an absolute famine, it was necessary to put the people upon allowance; this immediately caused loud murmurs, in which many in office, who ought to have supported Columbus in his measures for the common safety, took a leading part. Among the number was Friar Boyle, who was irritated at finding that himself and his household were put on the same allowance with the rest of the community.
It was necessary also to construct a mill immediately to grind the corn, as all the flour was exhausted. Most of the workmen, however, were ill, and Columbus was obliged to put every healthy person in requisition, not even excepting cavaliers and gentlemen of rank. As many of the latter refused to comply, he enforced their obedience by compulsory measures. This was another cause of the deep and lasting hostilities that sprang up against him. He was inveighed against, both by the cavaliers in the colony and their families in Spain, as an upstart foreigner, inflated with sudden authority, and who, in pursuit of his own profit and aggrandizement, trampled upon the dignity of Spanish gentlemen, and insulted the honour of the nation.
The fate, in truth, of many of the young cavaliers who had come out in this expedition, deluded by romantic dreams, was lamentable in the extreme. Some of them, of noble and opulent connexions, had been brought up in ease and indulgence, and were little calculated to endure the hardships and
privations of a new settlement in the wilderness. When they fell ill, their case soon became incurable. They suffered under the irritation of wounded pride, and the morbid melancholy of disappointed hope; their sick bed was destitute of the tender care and soothing attention to which they had been accustomed, and they sank into the grave in all the sullenness of despair, cursing the day that they had left their country. So strong an effect had the untimely and dreary death of these cavaliers upon the public mind that, many years afterwards, when the settlement of Isabella was abandoned, and had fallen to ruins, its deserted streets were said to be haunted by their spectres, walking about in ancient Spanish dresses, saluting the wayfarer in stately and mournful silence, and vanishing on being accosted. Their melancholy story was insidiously made use of by the enemies of the admiral; for it was said that they had been seduced from their homes by his delusive promises, and sacrificed by him to his private interests.
Columbus was desirous of departing on a voyage to explore the coast of Cuba, but it was indispensable, before sailing, to place the affairs of the island in such a state as to ensure tranquillity. For this purpose he determined to send all the men that could be spared from the concerns of the city, or the care of the sick, into the interior, where they could subsist among the natives, and become accustomed to their diet, while their force would overawe the machinations of Caonabo, or any other hostile cacique. A little army was accordingly mustered of two hundred and fifty cross-bow men, one hundred and ten arquebusiers, sixteen horsemen, and twenty officers. These were to be com‐
manded by Pedro Margarite, while Ojeda was to succeed him in the command of Fort St. Thomas.
Columbus wrote a long and earnest letter of instructions to Margarite, desiring him to make a military tour, and to explore the principal parts of the island; but enjoining on him the strictest discipline of his army, and the most vigilant care to protect the rights of the Indians, and cultivate their friendship. Ojeda set off at the head of the little army for the fortress; on his way he learned that three Spaniards had been robbed of their effects by five Indians, at the ford of one of the rivers of the vega, and that the delinquents had been sheltered by their cacique, who had shared their booty. Ojeda was a quick and impetuous soldier, whose ideas were all of a military kind. He seized one of the thieves, ordered his ears to be cut off in the public square of the village, and sent the cacique, with his son and nephew, in chains to the admiral, who, after terrifying them with preparations for a public execution, pretended to yield to the tears and entreaties of their friends, and set them at liberty.
Having thus distributed his forces about the island, and taken measures for its tranquillity, Columbus formed a junto for its government, of which his brother Don Diego was president, and Father Boyle, Pedro Fernandez Coronal, Alonzo Sanchez Caravajal, and Juan de Luxan, were counsellors. Leaving in the harbour two of his largest ships, which drew too much water to explore unknown coasts and rivers, he set sail on the 24th of April, with the Niña or Santa Clara, the San Juan, and the Cordera.
Cruise of Columbus along the Southern Coast of Cuba. [1494.]
THE plan of the present expedition of Columbus was to revisit Cuba at the point where he had abandoned it on his first voyage, and thence to explore it on the southern side. As has already been observed, he supposed it to be a continent, and the extreme end of Asia; and if so, by following its shores in the proposed direction, he trusted to arrive at Mangi, and Cathay, and other rich and commercial, though semi-barbarous countries, forming part of the territories of the Grand Khan, as described by Mandeville and Marco Polo.
Having arrived, on the 29th of April, at the eastern end of Cuba, to which in his preceding voyage he had given the name of Alpha and Omega, but which is now known as Cape Maysi, he sailed along the southern coast, touching once or twice in the harbours. The natives crowded to the shores, gazing with astonishment at the ships as they glided gently along at no great distance. They held up fruits and other provisions, to tempt the Spaniards to land; while others came off in canoes, offering various refreshments, not in barter, but as free gifts. On inquiring of them for gold, they
uniformly pointed to the south, intimating that a great island lay in that direction, where it was to be found in abundance. On the 3d of May, therefore, Columbus turned his prow directly south, and abandoning the coast of Cuba for a time, steered in quest of this reported island. He had not sailed many leagues before the blue summits of Jamaica began to rise above the horizon. It was two days and a night, however, before he reached it, filled with admiration, as he gradually drew near, at its vast extent, the beauty of its mountains, the majesty of its forests, and the great number of villages which animated the whole face of the country.
He coasted the island from about the centre to a port at the western end, which he called the gulf of Buentiempo. He found the natives more ingenious as well as more warlike than those of Cuba and Hayti. Their canoes were constructed with more art, and ornamented at the bow and stern with carving and painting. Many were of great size, though formed of the hollow trunks of single trees, often a species of the mahogany, Columbus, measured one which proved to be ninety-six feet long and eight broad; it was hollowed out of one of those magnificent trees which rise like verdant towers amidst the rich forests of the tropics. Every cacique possessed a large canoe of the kind, which he seemed to regard as his galley of state. The Spaniards at first were treated with hostility, and were compelled to skirmish with the natives, but a friendly intercourse succeeded.
Columbus being disappointed in his hopes of finding gold in Jamaica, and the breeze being fair for Cuba, he determined to return thither. Just