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that animadversions had been made upon his conduct even in the pulpits. Diego Mendez, also, had hired and victualled a vessel at the expense of Columbus, and was on the point of despatching it. The governor, therefore, exerted himself, at the eleventh hour, and fitted out a caraval, which he put under the command of Diego de Salcedo, the agent employed by Columbus to collect his rents in San Domingo. It was these two vessels which arrived at Jamaica shortly after the battle with Porras, and brought relief to the admiral and his faithful adherents, after a long year of dismal confinement to the wreck *.
On the 28th of June, all the Spaniards embarked, friend and foe, on board of the vessels, and made sail joyfully for San Domingo; but, from adverse winds and currents, they did not arrive.
* Some brief notice of the further fortunes of Diego Mendez may be interesting to the reader.
When King Ferdinand heard of his faithful services he bestowed rewards upon him, and permitted him to bear a canoe in his coat of arms, as a memento of his hardy enterprise. He continued devotedly attached to the admiral, serving him zealously after his return to Spain, and during his last illness. Columbus retained a grateful and affectionate sense of his fidelity. On his deathbed, he promised Mendez that he should be appointed principal alguazil of the island of Hispaniola. The promise, however, was not performed by the heirs of Columbus. Mendez was afterwards engaged in various voyages of discovery, met with many vicissitudes, and died poor. In his last will, he requested that his armorial bearing of an Indian canoe should be engraved on his tombstone, and under it the following words: "Here lies the honourable Cavalier, Diego Mendez; who served greatly the royal crown of Spain, in the conquest of the Indies, with Admiral Christopher Columbus, of glorious memory, who made the discovery; and afterwards by himself, in ships at his own cost. Bestow, in charity, a paternoster and an ave-maria.”
there until the 13th of August. Whatever lurking enmity there might be to Columbus in the place, it was overpowered by popular sympathy for his late disasters. Whatever 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 the principal inhabitants came forth to meet him, and received him with signal distinction. He was lodged in the house of Ovando, who treated him with the utmost courtesy and attention; but there were too deep causes of jealousy and distrust between them for their intercourse to be cordial. Their powers, too, were so defined in their several patents, as to clash with each other, and to cause questions of jurisdiction. Ovando assumed a right to take cognizance of all transactions at Jamaica, as happening within the limits of his government. He set at liberty the traitor Porras, and talked of punishing the followers of Columbus for the deaths of the mutineers whom they had slain in battle. Columbus, on the other hand, asserted the absolute jurisdiction given him by the sovereigns, in his letter of instructions, over all persons who sailed in his expedition, from the time of their departure from Spain until their return. The governor heard him with great courtesy and a smiling countenance, but observed, that the letter gave him no authority within the bounds of his government. He relinquished the idea, however, of trying the faithful adherents of Columbus, and sent Porras to Spain, to be examined by the board which had charge of the affairs of the Indies.
Affairs at Hispaniola during the Administration of Ovando-Return of Columbus to Spain. [1504.]
THE sojourn of Columbus at San Domingo was but little calculated to yield him satisfaction. He was grieved at the desolation of the island, through the oppressive treatment of the natives, and the horrible massacres which had taken place under the administration of Ovando; and here let us turn for a moment from pursuing the story of the admiral, to notice some of the principal occurrences which had taken place in Hispaniola during his absence.
A great crowd of adventurers, of various ranks, had thronged the fleet of Ovando, all confidently expecting to make sudden fortunes. They had scarcely landed when they all hurried off to the mines, which were about eight leagues distant. The road swarmed like an ant-hill. Every one had his knapsack of biscuit and flour, and his mining implements on his shoulder. Those hidalgos, or gentlemen, who had no servants to carry their burdens, were fain to bear them on their own backs, and lucky was he who had a horse for the expedition, for he would be able to bring back the greater load of treasure. They all set off in high spirits, eager who should first reach the golden land;
thinking they had but to arrive at the mines, and gather gold, as easily and readily as fruit from the trees. When they arrived, however, they found, to their dismay, that it required experience to discover the veins of ore; that the whole process of mining was exceedingly slow and toilsome, and its results precarious.
They digged eagerly for a time, but found no ore; growing hungry, they threw by their implements, sat down to eat, and then returned to work. It was all in vain. "Their labour," says Las Casas, "gave them a keen appetite and quick digestion, but no gold." They soon exhausted their provisions and their patience, and returned murmuring along the road they had lately trod so exultingly. They arrived at San Domingo half famished, downcast, and despairing. Such is too often the case of those who ignorantly engage in mining; which, of all objects of speculation, is the most brilliant, promising, and fallacious. Poverty soon fell upon these misguided men. 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; but his policy was fatal to the natives. When he had been sent out to supersede Bobadilla, the queen, shocked at the cruel bondage which had been inflicted on the Indians, had pronounced them all free. The consequence was, they immediately refused to labour in the mines.
Ovando, in 1503, represented, that this entire
liberty granted to the natives was not merely ruinous to the colony, but detrimental to themselves, as it produced habits of idleness, profligacy, and neglect of all religion. The sovereigns permitted, therefore, that they should be obliged to labour moderately, if essential to their well-being, but that they should be paid regularly and fairly, and instructed in religion on certain days, and that all compulsory measures should be tempered with persuasion and kindness. Under cover of this hired labour, thus intended for the health of soul and body, more intolerable toil was exacted from them, and more horrible cruelties inflicted, than in the worst days of Bobadilla. Many perished from hunger, or sunk under the lash; 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. Even those
who survived the exacted terms of labour, and were permitted to return to their homes, which were often sixty and eighty leagues distant, were dismissed so worn down by toil and hardship, and so scantily furnished with provisions, that they perished by the way. Some sank down and died 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 on the road," says the venerable Bishop Las Casas; "others gasping under the trees, and others in the pangs of death, faintly crying, Hunger! hunger!"
The wars of Ovando were equally desolating. To punish a slight insurrection in the province of Higuey, at the eastern end of the island, he sent his troops, who ravaged the country with fire and