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army, accompanied by his brother, the Adelantado, and advancing by rapid marches, arrived in the neighbourhood of the enemy, who were assembled in the vega, near to where the town of Santiago has since been built. The Indians were confident in their number, which is said to have amounted to one hundred thousand; this is evidently an exaggeration, but the number was undoubtedly very great. The Adelantado arranged the mode of attack. The infantry, divided into small detachments, advanced suddenly from various quarters, with great din of drums and trumpets, and a destructive discharge of fire-arms. The Indians were struck with panic. An army seemed pressing upon them from every quarter. Many were slain by the balls of the arquebuses, which seemed to burst with thunder and lightning from the forests. In the height of their confusion, Alonzo de Ojeda charged impetuously on their main body with his cavalry, bearing down and trampling them under foot, and dealing deadly blows with lance and sword. The blood-hounds were, at the same time, let loose, and rushed upon the naked savages, seizing them by the throat, dragging them to the earth, and tearing out their bowels. The battle, if such it might be called, was of short duration. The Indians, overwhelmed, fled in every direction, with yells and howlings. Some clambered to the tops of rocks and precipices, from whence they made piteous supplications and promises of submission. Many were slain, many made prisoners, and the confederacy was, for the time, completely broken up. Guacanagari had accompanied the Spaniards into the field, but he was little more than a spectator of
the battle. His participation in the hostilities of the white men, however, was never forgiven by the other caciques; and he returned to his dominions, followed by the hatred and execrations of his countrymen.
Columbus followed up his victory by making a military tour through various parts of the island, which were soon reduced to subjection. He then exercised what he considered the right of a conqueror, and imposed tributes on the vanquished provinces. In those which possessed mines, each individual, above the age of fourteen years, was obliged to render, every three months, the measure of a Flemish hawk's bell of gold dust *. The caciques had to pay a much larger amount for their personal tribute. Manicaotex, the brother of Caonabo, rendered in, every three months, half a calabash of gold. In those provinces which produced no gold, each individual was obliged to furnish twenty-five pounds of cotton every three months. A copper medal, suspended about the neck, was a proof that an Indian had paid his tribute; any one found without such certificate was liable to arrest and punishment. Various
fortresses were erected in the most important places, so as to keep the Indians in complete subjection.
In this way the yoke of servitude was fixed upon the island, and its thraldom completely insured. Deep despair now fell upon the natives, for they found a perpetual task inflicted upon them, enforced at stated and frequently recurring periods. Weak
* Equal in value to fifteen dollars of the present time.
and indolent by nature, and brought up in the untasked idleness of their soft climate, and their fruitful groves, death itself seemed preferable to a life of toil and anxiety. They saw no end to this harassing evil, which had so suddenly fallen upon them; no prospect of return to that roving independence and ample leisure, so dear to the wild inhabitant of the forest. The pleasant life of the island was at an end;-the dream in the shade by day; the slumber, during the sultry noontide heat, by the fountain or the stream, or under the spreading palm tree; and the song, the dance, and the game in the mellow evening, when summoned to their simple amusements by the rude Indian drum. Or, if they occasionally indulged in a national dance, after a day of painful toil, the ballads to which they kept time were of a melancholy and plaintive character. They spoke of the times that were past, before the white men had introduced sorrow, and slavery, and weary labour among them; and they rehearsed prophecies pretended to be handed down from their ancestors, foretelling that strangers should come into their island, clothed in apparel, with swords capable of cleaving a man asunder at a blow, under whose yoke their race should be subdued and pass away. These ballads, or areytos, they sang with mournful tunes and doleful voices, bewailing the loss of their liberty and their painful servitude.
They had flattered themselves, for a time, that the visit of the strangers would be but temporary, and that, spreading their ample sails, their ships would soon waft them back to their home in the sky. In their simplicity they had repeatedly in
quired of the Spaniards when they intended to return to Turey, or the heavens. All such hope was now at an end; and, finding how vain was every attempt to deliver themselves from their invaders by warlike means, they now resorted to a forlorn and desperate alternative. Knowing that the Spaniards depended, in a great measure, for subsistence on the supplies which they furnished them, they endeavoured to produce a famine. For this purpose, they destroyed their fields of maize, stripped the trees of their fruit, pulled up the yuca and other roots, and then fled to the mountains.
The Spaniards were indeed reduced to much distress, but were partially relieved by supplies from Spain. They pursued the natives to their mountain retreats, hunting them from one dreary fastness to another, until thousands perished in dens and caverns of famine and sickness, and the survivors, yielding themselves up in despair, submitted humbly to the yoke. So deep an awe did they conceive of their conquerors, that it is said a Spaniard might go singly and securely all over the island, and the natives would even transport him from place to place on their shoulders.
Before passing on to other events, it may be proper here to notice the fate of Guacanagari, as he makes no further appearance in the course of this history. His friendship for the Spaniards severed him from his countrymen, but it did not exonerate him from the general woes of the island. At a time when Columbus was absent, the Spaniards exacted a tribute from him, which his people, with the common repugnance to labour, found it difficult and distressing to pay. Unable
to bear the murmurs of his subjects, the hostilities of his fellow caciques, the extortions of his ungrateful allies, and the sight of the various miseries which he felt as if he had invoked upon his race, he retired to the mountains, where it is said he died obscurely and in misery.
An attempt has been made by a Spanish historian to defame the character of this Indian prince; but it is not for Spaniards to excuse their own ingratitude by casting a stigma upon his name. He appears to have always manifested towards them that true friendship which shines brightest in the dark days of adversity. He might have played a nobler part, in making a stand, with his brother caciques, to drive those intruders from his native soil; but he appears to have been blinded by his admiration of them, and his personal attachment to Columbus. He was bountiful, hospitable, affectionate, and kind-hearted; competent to rule a gentle and unwarlike people in the happier days of the island, but unfitted, through the mildness of his nature, for the stern turmoil which followed the arrival of the white men.