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1500.] ARRIVAL OF BOBADILLA AT ST. DOMINGO. 257 condemned to suffer the same fate. Among these were Pedro Reguelme, the factious alcalde of Bonao, and Fernando de Guevara, the young cavalier, whose passion for the daughter of Anacaona had been the original cause of the rebellion. As the vessels entered the river, Bobadilla beheld on either bank a gibbet, with the body of a Spaniard hanging on it. He considered all these circumstances as conclusive proofs of the alleged cruelty of Columbus.
The report had already circulated in the city, that a commissioner had arrived to make inquisition into the late troubles. Many hastened on board the ship to pay early court to this public censor; and as those who sought to secure his favour were those who had most to fear from his scrutiny, it is evident that the nature of their communications were generally unfavourable to the admiral. In fact, before Bobadilla landed, if not before he arrived, the culpability of the admiral was decided in his mind. He acted accordingly. He made proclamations at the church door, in presence of Don Diego and the other persons in authority, of his letters patent, authorizing him to investigate the rebellion, and proceed against delinquents; and in virtue of these he demanded that Guevara, Reguelme, and the other prisoners, should be delivered up to him, with the depositions taken in their cases.
Don Diego declared he could do nothing of the kind without the authority of the admiral, and requested a copy of the letters patent, that he might send it to his brother. This Bobadilla refused, and added, that since the office he proclaimed appeared to have no weight, he would try what efficacy there was in the name of governor. On the
following day, therefore, he caused another royal patent to be read, investing him with the government of the islands, and of Terra Firma; an authority which he was only to have assumed on absolute proof of the delinquency of Columbus. This letter being read, he again demanded the prisoners, and was again refused; Don Diego observing, that they were held in obedience to the admiral, to whom the sovereigns had granted letters of a higher nature.
Bobadilla now produced a mandate from the crown, ordering Columbus and his brothers to deliver up all fortresses, ships, and other royal property; and another, ordering that the arrears of wages due to all persons in the royal service should be immediately paid, and the admiral compelled to pay the arrears of those to whom he was individually accountable.
This last document was received with shouts by the multitude, to many of whom long arrears were due, in consequence of the poverty of the treasury. Flushed with his growing importance and popularity, Bobadilla again demanded the prisoners, and receiving the same reply, he proceeded to the fortress, and made a formal demand of them of the Alcayde Miguel Diaz. The latter refused to surrender them to any one but the admiral. Upon this, the whole spirit of Bobadilla was aroused. He assembled the sailors of the ships, and the rabble of the place, marched them to the prison, broke open the door, which readily gave way, while some of his myrmidons put up ladders to scale the walls. The Alcayde Miguel Diaz, and Don Diego de Alvarado, appeared on the battlements with drawn swords, but offered no resistance. The fortress,
having no garrison, was easily carried, and the prisoners were borne off in triumph, and given in custody to an alguazil.
Such was the entrance into office of Francisco de Bobadilla, and he continued his career in the same spirit, acting as if he had been sent out to degrade the admiral, not to inquire into his conduct. He took up his residence in the house of Columbus, seized upon his arms, gold, plate, jewels, horses, books, letters, and most secret manuscripts, giving no account of the property thus seized, paying out of it the wages of those to whom the admiral was in arrears, and disposing of the rest as if already confiscated to the crown. To increase his favour with the people, he proclaimed a general licence for twenty years, to seek for gold, exacting merely one eleventh for government, instead of a third, as heretofore. At the same time, he used the most unqualified language in speaking of Columbus, hinted that he was empowered to send him home in chains, and declared, that neither he, nor any of his lineage, would ever again be permitted to govern the island.
Columbus arrested and sent to Spain.
WHEN Columbus received tidings at Fort Conception of the high-handed proceedings of Bobadilla, he considered them the unauthorized act of some rash adventurer; but the proclamation of his letters patent, which immediately took place throughout the island, soon convinced him he was acting under authority. He endeavoured then to persuade himself that Bobadilla was sent out to exercise the functions of chief judge, in compliance with the request contained in one of his own letters to the sovereigns, and that he was perhaps intrusted with provisional powers to inquire 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. His consciousness of his own services and integrity, and his faith in the justice of the sovereigns, forbade him to think otherwise. He proceeded to act on this idea ; writing temperate and conciliatory letters to Bobadilla, wherein he cautioned him against his precipitate measures; while he endeavoured by counter proclamations to prevent the mischief he was producing. Messengers soon arrived, however, who delivered to him a royal letter of credence, commanding him
to give implicit faith and obedience to Bobadilla, and they gave him, at the same time, a summons from the latter to appear before him immediately at San Domingo. This laconic letter from the sovereigns struck at once at the root of his dignity and power; he made no longer any hesitation or demur, but departed alone and almost unattended, to obey the peremptory summons of Bobadilla. The latter, in the mean time, had made a bustle of preparation, and mustered the troops, affecting to believe a vulgar rumour, that Columbus had called on the caciques of the vega, to aid him in resisting the commands of government. He moreover arrested Don Diego, threw him in irons, and confined him on board of a caraval, without assigning any cause for his imprisonment.
No sooner did he hear of the arrival of Columbus, than he gave orders to put him also in irons, and to confine him in the fortress.
This outrage to a person of such dignified and venerable appearance, and such eminent merit, seemed for a time to shock even his enemies. When the irons were brought, every one present shrunk from the task of putting them on him, either out of 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 servants that volunteered to rivet his fetters.
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. Co