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Wilson, T / Peter Parley's Tales About America and Australia
He touched at the Canaries and at the Cape
de Verd islands; from the former he despatched three ships with a supply
of provisions for the colony of Hispaniola; with the other three he
continued his voyage to the south.

Nothing remarkable occurred till they were within five degrees of the
line; then they were becalmed, and the heat became so excessive, that
the wine casks burst and their provisions were spoiled.

The Spaniards, who had never ventured so far to the south, were afraid
the ships would take fire, but they were relieved in some measure from
their fear by a seasonable fall of rain.

This, however, though so heavy and incessant that the men could hardly
keep the deck, did not greatly mitigate the heat, and Columbus was at
last constrained 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 1st of August, 1498, the man stationed at the round-top surprised
them with the joyful cry of "Land!" They stood towards it, and
discovered a considerable island, which the admiral called Trinidad, a
name it still retains, and near it the mouth of a river, rolling towards
the ocean such a vast body of water, and rushing into it with such
impetuous force, that when it meets the tide, which on that coast rises
to an uncommon height, their meeting occasions an extraordinary and
dangerous swell of the waves.

In this conflict, the irresistable 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 these
adverse currents and tempestuous waves; and it was with the utmost
difficulty that he escaped through a narrow strait, which appeared so
tremendous, that he called it "The Dragon's Mouth."

As soon as his consternation permitted him to reflect on an appearance
so extraordinary, he justly concluded that the land must be a part of
some mighty continent, and not of an island, because all the springs
that could rise, and all the rain that could fall on an island, could
never, as he calculated, supply water enough to feed so prodigiously
broad and deep a river; and he was right, the river was the Oronoko.

Filled with this idea, he stood to the west, along the coast of those
provinces which are now known by the name of Paria and Cumana. He landed
in several places, and found the people to resemble those of Hispaniola
in their appearance and manner of life.

They wore as ornaments small plates of gold and pearls of considerable
value, which they willingly exchanged for European toys. They seemed to
possess greater courage and better understandings 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 warm enthusiasm of a discoverer, he imagined it to be the
Paradise described in Scripture.

Thus Columbus had the glory of discovering the new world, and of
conducting the Spaniards to that vast continent which has been the seat
of their empire and the source of their treasure, in that quarter of the
globe. The shattered condition of his ships and the scarcity of
provisions, made it now necessary to bear away for Hispaniola, where he
arrived wasted to an extreme degree with fatigue and sickness.

Many revolutions had happened in that country during his absence, which
had lasted more than two years.

His brother, whom he had left in command, had, in compliance with advice
which he had given him before his departure, 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 long continued to
be the most considerable town in the new world.

Such was the cruelty and oppression with which the Spaniards treated the
Indians, and so intolerable the burden imposed upon them, that they at
last took arms against their oppressors; but these insurrections were
not formidable. In a conflict with timid and naked Indians, there was
neither danger nor doubt of victory.

A mutiny which broke out among the Spaniards, was of a more dangerous
nature, the ringleader in which was Francisco Roldan, whom Columbus,
when he sailed for Spain, had appointed chief judge, and whose duty it
was to have maintained the laws, instead of breaking them.

This rebellion of Roldan, which threatened the whole country with ruin,
was only subdued by the most wise and prudent conduct on the part of
Columbus; but order and tranquillity were at length apparently restored.

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, and a description of the
new continent which he had discovered, and also a chart of the coast
along which he had sailed, and of which I shall have something more to
tell you presently.

He at the same time sent specimens of the gold, the pearls, and other
curious and valuable productions which he had acquired by trafficking
with the natives.

He also transmitted an account of the insurrection in Hispaniola, and
accused the mutineers of having, by their unprovoked rebellion, almost
ruined the colony.

Roldan and his associates took care to send to Spain, by the same
ships, apologies for their mutinous conduct, and unfortunately for the
happiness of Columbus, their story gained most credit in the court of
Ferdinand and Isabella.

By these ships Columbus granted the liberty of returning to Spain to all
those, who, from sickness or disappointment, were disgusted with the
country. A good number of such as were most dissatisfied, embraced this
opportunity of returning to Europe. The disappointment of their
unreasonable hopes inflamed their rage against Columbus to the utmost
pitch, and their distress made their accusations be believed.

A gang of these disorderly ruffians, who had been shipped off to free
the island from their seditions, found their way to the court at
Grenada. Whenever the king or queen appeared in public, they surrounded
them, insisting, with importunate clamours, on the payment of arrears
due to them, and demanding vengeance on the author of their sufferings.

These endeavours to ruin Columbus were seconded by Fonseca, who was now
made bishop of Badajos, and who was entrusted with the chief direction
of Indian affairs. This man had always been an implacable enemy of
Columbus, and with others of his enemies who were about the court,
having continual access to the sovereign, they were enabled to aggravate
all the complaints that were urged against him, while they carefully
suppressed his vindications of himself.

By these means Ferdinand was at last induced to send out Bobadilla, an
officer of the royal household, to inquire into the conduct of Columbus,
and if he should think the charges against him proved, to supersede him
in his command, that is, to send him home, and make himself governor in
his stead; so that it was the interest of the judge to pronounce the
person guilty whom he was sent to try.

On his arrival he found Columbus absent in the interior of the island;
and as he had, before he landed, made up his mind to treat him as a
criminal, he proceeded at once, without any inquiry, to supersede him
in his command.

He took up his residence in Columbus' house, from which the owner was
absent, seized upon his arms, gold, plate, jewels, books, and even his
letters and most secret manuscripts, giving no account of the property
thus seized, but disposing of it as if already confiscated to the crown;
at the same time he used the most unqualified language when speaking of
Columbus, and hinted that he was empowered to send him home in chains;
thus acting as if he had been sent out to degrade the admiral, not to
inquire into his conduct.

As soon as Columbus arrived from the interior, Bobadilla gave orders to
put him in irons and confine him in the fortress, and so far from
hearing him in his defence, he would not even admit him to his presence;
but having collected from his enemies what he thought sufficient
evidence, he determined to send both him and his brother home in chains.

The charge of conducting the prisoners to Spain was committed to Alonzo
Villejo, a man of honourable conduct and generous feelings. When Villejo
entered with the guard to conduct him on board the caravel, Columbus
thought it was to conduct him to the scaffold. "Villejo" said he,
"whither are you taking me?" "To the ship, your excellency, to embark,"
replied the other. "To embark!" repeated the admiral, earnestly,
"Villejo, do you speak the truth?" "By the life of your excellency,"
replied the honest officer, "it is true."

With these words the admiral was comforted, and felt as restored from
death to life, for he now knew he should have an opportunity of
vindicating his conduct. The caravel set sail in October, bearing off
Columbus shackled like the vilest criminal.

The worthy Villejo, as well as Andries Martin, the master of the
caravel, would have taken off his irons, but to this he would not
consent. "No," said he proudly, "their majesties commanded me, by
letter, to submit to whatever Bobadilla should order in their name; by
their authority he has put upon me these chains; I will wear them till
they shall order them to be taken off, and I will afterwards preserve
them as relics and memorials of the reward of my services."

[Illustration]

The arrival of Columbus, a prisoner and in chains, produced almost as
great a sensation as his triumphant return on his first voyage.

A general burst of indignation arose in Cadiz and in Seville, which was
echoed through all Spain, that Columbus was brought home in chains from
the world he had discovered.

The tidings reached the court of Grenada, and filled the halls of the
Alhambra with murmurs of astonishment.

On the arrival of the ships at Cadiz, Columbus, full of his wrongs, but
not knowing how far they had been authorized by his sovereigns, forbare
to write to them; but he sent a long letter to a lady of the court, high
in favour with the queen, containing, in eloquent and touching language,
an ample vindication of his conduct.

When it was read to the noble-minded Isabella, and she found how grossly
Columbus had been wronged, and the royal authority abused, her heart was
filled with sympathy and indignation.

Without waiting for any documents that might arrive from Bobadilla,
Ferdinand and Isabella sent orders to Cadiz, that he should be instantly
set at liberty, and treated with all distinction, and sent him two
thousand ducats to defray his expenses to court. They wrote him a
letter at the same time, expressing their grief at all that had
happened, and inviting him to Grenada.

He was received by their majesties with the greatest favour and
distinction. When the queen beheld this venerable man approach, and
thought on all he had deserved and all he had suffered, she was moved to
tears.

Columbus had borne up firmly against the injuries and wrongs of the
world, but when he found himself thus kindly treated, and beheld tears
in the benign eyes of Isabella, his long suppressed feelings burst
forth, he threw himself upon his knees, and for some time could not
utter a word for the violence of his tears and sobbings.

Ferdinand and Isabella raised him from the ground and endeavoured to
encourage him by the most gracious expressions.

As soon as he had recovered his self-possession, he entered into an
eloquent and high-minded vindication of his conduct, and his zeal for
the glory and advantage of the Spanish crown.

The king and queen expressed their indignation at the proceedings of
Bobadilla, and promised he should be immediately dismissed from his
command.

The person chosen to supersede Bobadilla was Nicholas de Ovando. While
his departure was delayed by various circumstances, every arrival
brought intelligence of the disasterous state of the island under the
administration of Bobadilla.

He encouraged the Spaniards in the exercise of the most wanton cruelties
towards the natives, to obtain from them large quantities of gold. "Make
the most of your time," he would say, "there is no knowing how long it
will last;" and the colonists were not backward in following his advice.
In the meantime the poor Indians sunk under the toils imposed upon them,
and the severities with which they were enforced.

These accounts hastened the departure of Ovando, and a person sailed
with him, in order to secure what he could of the wreck of Columbus'
property.




CHAPTER VI.

PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS ROBBED OF THE HONOUR OF GIVING HIS NAME TO
AMERICA.


I have told you that Columbus, as soon as he arrived at Hispaniola,
after discovering the new continent, sent a ship to Spain with a journal
of the voyage he had made, and a description of the new continent which
he had discovered, together with a chart of the coast of Paria and
Cumana, along which he had sailed.

This journal, with the charts and description, and Columbus' letters on
the subject, were placed in the custody of Fonseca, he being minister
for Indian affairs.

No sooner had the particulars of this discovery been communicated by
Columbus, than a separate commission of discovery, signed by Fonseca,
but not by the sovereigns, was granted to Alonzo de Ojeda, who had
accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, and whom Columbus had
instructed in all his plans. Ojeda was accompanied on this voyage by a
Florentine, whose name was Amerigo Vespucci.

To these adventurers Fonseca communicated Columbus' journal, his
description of the country, his charts, and all his private letters.

This expedition sailed from Spain while Columbus was still at
Hispaniola, and wholly ignorant of what was taking place; and Ojeda,
without touching at the colony, steered his course direct for Paria,
following the very track which Columbus had marked out.

Having extended their discoveries very little farther than Columbus had
gone before them, Vespucci, on returning to Spain, published an account
of his adventures and discoveries, and had the address and confidence
so to frame his narrative, as to make it appear that the glory of having
discovered the new continent belonged to him.

Thus the bold pretensions of an impostor have robbed the discoverer of
his just reward, and the caprice of fame has unjustly assigned to him an
honour far above the renown of the greatest conquerors--that of
indelibly impressing his name upon this vast portion of the earth, which
ought in justice to have been called Columbia.

Two years had now been spent in soliciting the favour of an ungrateful
court, and notwithstanding all his merits and services, he solicited in
vain; but even this ungracious return did not lessen his ardour in his
favourite pursuits, and his anxiety to pursue those discoveries in which
he felt he had yet only made a beginning.

Ferdinand at last consented to grant him four small vessels, the largest
of which did not exceed seventy tons in burden; but, accustomed to brave
danger and endure hardships, he did not hesitate to accept the command
of this pitiful squadron, and he sailed from Cadiz on his fourth voyage
on the 9th of May.

[Illustration]

Having touched, as usual, at the Canaries, he intended to have sailed
direct for this new discovered continent; but his largest vessel was so
clumsy and unfit for service, that he determined to bear away for
Hispaniola, in hopes of exchanging her for some ship of the fleet that
had carried out Ovando.

The fleet that had brought out Ovando lay in the harbour ready to put
to sea, and was to take home Bobadilla, together with Roldan and many of
his adherents, to be tried in Spain for rebellion. Bobadilla was to
embark in the principal ship, on board of which he had put an immense
amount of gold, which he hoped would atone for all his faults.

Among the presents intended for his sovereign was one mass of virgin
gold, which was famous in the Spanish chronicles; it was said to weigh
3600 castillanos. Large quantities of gold had been shipped in the fleet
by Roldan and other adventurers--the wealth gained by the sufferings of
the unhappy natives.

Columbus sent an officer on shore to request permission to shelter his
squadron in the river, as he apprehended an approaching storm. He also
cautioned them not to let the fleet sail, but his request was refused by
Ovando, and his advice disregarded.

The fleet put to sea, and Columbus kept his feeble squadron close to
shore, and sought for shelter in some wild bay or river of the island.

Within two days, one of those tremendous storms which sometimes sweep
those latitudes gathered up, and began to blow. Columbus sheltered his
little squadron as well as he could, and sustained no damage. A
different fate befel the other armament.

The ship in which were Bobadilla, Roldan, and a number of the most
inveterate enemies of Columbus, was swallowed up with all its crew,
together with the principal part of the ill-gotten treasure, gained by
the miseries of the Indians.

Some of the ships returned to St. Domingo, and only one was able to
continue her voyage to Spain; that one had on board four thousand pieces
of gold, the property of Columbus, which had been recovered by the agent
whom he sent out with Ovando.

Thus, while the enemies of the admiral were swallowed up as it were
before his eyes, the only ship enabled to pursue her voyage was the
frail bark freighted with his property.




CHAPTER VII.

PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS SHIPWRECKED, AND ALSO OF THE MANNER OF HIS
DEATH.


Columbus soon left Hispaniola where he met with so inhospitable a
reception, and steering towards the west, he arrived on the coast of
Honduras. There he had an interview with some of the inhabitants of the
continent, who came off in a large canoe; they appeared to be more
civilized than any whom he had hitherto discovered.

In return to the inquiries which the Spaniards made with their usual
eagerness, where the Indians got the gold which they wore by way of
ornaments, they directed him to countries situated to the west, in which
gold was found in such profusion that it was applied to the most common
uses.

Well would it have been for Columbus had he followed their advice.
Within a day or two he would have arrived at Yucatan; the discovery of
Mexico and the other opulent countries of New Spain would have
necessarily followed, the Southern Ocean would have been disclosed to
him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed fresh
glory on his declining age.

But the admiral's mind was bent upon discovering the supposed strait
that was to lead to the Indian Ocean. In this navigation he explored a
great extent of coast from Cape Gracios ą Dios till he came to a
harbour, which on account of its beauty and security, he called Porto
Bello.

On quitting this harbour he steered for the south, and he had not
followed this course many days when he was overtaken by storms more
terrible than any he had yet encountered.

For nine days the vessels were tossed about at the mercy of a raging
tempest. The sea, according to the description of Columbus, boiled at
times like a cauldron, at other times it ran in mountain waves covered
with foam: at night the raging billows sparkled with luminous particles,
which made them resemble great surges of flame.

For a day and a night the heavens glowed like a furnace with incessant
flashes of lightning, while the loud claps of thunder were often
mistaken for signal guns of their foundering companions.

In the midst of this wild tumult of the elements, they beheld a new
object of alarm. The ocean, in one place, became strangely agitated; the
water was whirled up into a kind of pyramid or cone; while a livid
cloud, tapering to a point, bent down to meet it; joining together, they
formed a column, which rapidly approached the ship, spinning along the
surface of the deep, and drawing up the water with a rushing sound, it
passed the ship without injury.

His leaky vessels were not able to withstand storms like these. One of
them foundered, and he was obliged to abandon another.

With the remaining two he bore away for Hispaniola, but in the tempest
his ships falling foul of each other, it was with the greatest
difficulty he reached the island of Jamaica.

His two vessels were in such a shattered condition, that, to prevent
them from sinking, and to save the lives of his crews, he was obliged to
run them on shore.

Having no ship now left, he had no means of reaching Hispaniola, or of
making his situation known. In this juncture he had recourse to the
hospitable kindness of the natives, who, considering the Spaniards as
beings of a superior nature, were eager, on every occasion to assist
them.

From them he obtained two canoes, each formed out of a single tree
hollowed with fire. In these, which were only fit for creeping along the
coast, two of his brave and faithful companions, assisted by a few
Indians, gallantly offered to set out for Hispaniola; this voyage they
accomplished in ten days, after encountering incredible fatigues and
dangers.

By them he wrote letters to Ovando, describing his situation and
requesting him to send ships to bring off him and his crews; but what
will you think of the unfeeling cruelty of this man, when I tell you
that he suffered these brave men to wait eight months before he would
give them any hopes of relieving their companions: and what must have
been the feelings of Columbus during this period.

At last the ships arrived which were to take them from the island, where
the unfeeling Ovando had suffered them to languish above a year, exposed
to misery in all its various forms. When he arrived at St. Domingo,
Ovando treated him with every kind of insult and injustice. Columbus
submitted in silence, but became extremely impatient to quit a country
where he had been treated with such barbarity.

The preparations were soon finished, and he set sail for Spain with two
ships, but disaster still pursued him to the end of his course. He
suffered acutely from a painful and dangerous disease, and his mind was
kept uneasy and anxious by a continued succession of storms. One of the
vessels being disabled, was forced back to St. Domingo, and in the other
he sailed 700 leagues with jury-masts, and reached with difficulty the
port of St. Lucar in Spain, 1504.

On his arrival he received the fatal news of the death of his patroness
queen Isabella, from whom he had hoped for the redress of his wrongs.

He applied to the king, who, instead of confirming the titles and
honours which he had formerly conferred upon him, insulted him with the
proposal of renouncing them all for a pension.

Disgusted with the ingratitude of a monarch whom he had served with
fidelity and success, exhausted with the calamities which he had
endured, and broken with infirmities, this great and good man breathed
his last at Valladolid, a.d. 1506, in the 69th year of his age.

He was buried in the cathedral at Seville, and on his tomb was engraved
an epitaph commemorating his discovery of a New World.

Christobal Colon, obiit 1506,

Ętat 69.

A Castilla y a Leon
Neubo Mundo dio Colon.[A]

Thus much for Columbus; those who are the greatest benefactors of
mankind seldom meet with much gratitude from men in their lives; they
must look to God for their reward, and leave future generations to do
justice to their memory.

It was very unfortunate for the natives of America, that the country
fell into the hands of such a cruel, covetous, and bigoted nation as the
Spaniards were. Their thirst for gold was insatiable, and the cruelties
they exercised upon the natives are too horrible to recite. After the
death of Columbus, the Indians were no longer treated with gentleness,
for it was his defence of the property and lives of these harmless
natives that brought down upon his head such bitter hatred. You will now
look into your map and follow Columbus in some of his discoveries. You
will see a great number of islands extending in a curve from Florida,
which is the southernmost part of the United States, to the mouth of the
river Oronoko in South America; and, as Columbus firmly believed these
islands, when he discovered them, to be a part of India, the name of
Indies was given to them by Ferdinand and Isabella; and, even after the
error was detected, and the true position of the new world ascertained,
the name has remained, and the appellation of Indies is given to the
country, and that of Indians to the inhabitants.

[Footnote A: To Castile and to Leon Columbus gave a New World.]




CHAPTER VIII.

PARLEY TELLS OF OVANDO'S CRUEL TREATMENT OF ANACAONA, THE PRINCESS OF
HAYTI.


Columbus discovered and gave names to some of these islands, and on
several of them he settled colonies, and did all he could to make them
the abodes of peace and happiness.

On his taking leave of them for the last time, Ovando continued governor
of Hayti.

The cruelties exercised by this unfeeling man it would take a volume to
describe, but I will mention only one or two instances.

When the natives were unable to pay the tribute which he exacted from
them, he always accused them of insurrection, and it was to punish a
slight insurrection of this kind in the eastern part of the island that
he sent his troops, who ravaged the country with fire and sword. He
showed no mercy to age or sex, putting many to death with horrible
tortures, and brought off the brave Catabanama, one of the five
sovereign caziques of the island, in chains to St. Domingo, where he was
ignominiously hanged by Ovando, for the crime of defending his territory
and his native soil against usurping strangers.

But the most atrocious act of Ovando, and one that must heap odium on
his name, wherever the woes of the gentle natives of Hayti are heard of,
was the cruelty he was guilty of towards the province of Xaragua for one
of those pretended conspiracies.

Ovando set out at the head of nearly four hundred well armed soldiers,
seventy of whom were steel-clad horsemen; giving out that he was coming
on a visit of friendship, to make arrangements for the payment of
tribute.

Behechio, the ancient cazique of the province, was dead, and his
sister, Anacaona, wife of the late formidable chief Caonabo, had
succeeded to the government.

She was one of the most beautiful females in the island; of great
natural grace and dignity, and superior intelligence; her name in the
Indian language signified "Golden Flower."

[Illustration]

She came forth to meet Ovando, according to the custom of her nation,
attended by her most distinguished subjects, and her train of damsels
waving palm branches, and dancing to the cadence of their popular
ayretos.

All her principal caziques had been assembled to do honour to the
guests, who, for several days were entertained with banquets, and
national games and dances.

In return for these exhibitions, Ovando invited Anacaona, with her
beautiful daughter Higuenamata, and her principal subjects, to witness a
tilting match in the public square.

When all were assembled, and the square crowded with unarmed Indians,
Ovando gave a signal, and instantly the horsemen rushed into the midst
of the naked and defenceless throng, trampling them under foot, cutting
them down with their swords, transfixing them with their lances, and
sparing neither age nor sex.

Above eighty caziques had been assembled in one of the principal houses:
it was surrounded by troops, the caziques were bound to the posts which
supported the roof, and put to cruel tortures, until in the extremity of
anguish they were made to admit as true what their queen and themselves
had been charged with.

When they had thus been made, by torture, to accuse themselves, a
horrible punishment was immediately inflicted. Fire was set to the
house, and they all perished miserably in the flames.

As to Anacaona, she was carried to St. Domingo, where, after the mockery
of a trial, she was pronounced guilty on the testimony of the Spaniards,
and was barbarously hanged by the people whom she had so long and so
greatly befriended.

After the massacre of Xaragua, the destruction of its inhabitants went
on. They were hunted for six months amid the fastnesses of the
mountains, and their country ravaged by horse and foot, until, all being
reduced to deplorable misery and abject submission, Ovando pronounced
the province restored to order; and in remembrance of his triumph,
founded a town near the lake, which he called Santa Maria de la
Verdadera Pas (St. Mary of the true peace.)

Such was the tragical fate of the beautiful Anacaona, once extolled as
the Golden Flower of Hayti; and such the story of the delightful region
of Xaragua, which the Spaniards, by their own account, found a perfect
paradise, but which, by their vile passions, they filled with horror and
desolation.

After this work of destruction, they made slaves of the remaining
inhabitants, and divided them amongst them, and many of the sanguinary
contests among themselves arose out of quarrels about the distribution.

We cannot help pausing to cast back a look of pity and admiration over
these beautiful but devoted regions.

The white man had penetrated the land! In his train came avarice, pride,
and ambition; sordid care, and pining labour, were soon to follow, and
the paradise of the Indian was about to disappear for ever.




CHAPTER IX.

PARLEY DESCRIBES THE TREES, PLANTS, AND FLOWERS OF THE NEW WORLD.


When once the way had been pointed out, it was easy for other navigators
to follow, and accordingly many Spaniards undertook voyages of further
discovery.

Among others, Yanez Pinzon, one of the brave companions of Columbus,
undertook a voyage to the new world in 1499.

This navigator suffered much from storms, and having sailed southward,
he crossed the equator and lost sight of the polar star.

The sailors were exceedingly alarmed at this circumstance, as the polar
star was relied upon by them as one of their surest guides; not knowing
the shape of the earth, they thought that some prominence hid this star
from their view.

The first land that Pinzon discovered, after crossing the line, was Cape
St. Augustine, in eight degrees south latitude, the most projecting part
of the extensive country of Brazil.

As the fierceness of the natives made it unsafe to land on this coast,
he continued his voyage to the north-west, and fell in with the mighty
river Amazon, which is nearly under the equinoctial line.

The mouth of this river is more than thirty leagues in breadth, and its
waters enter more than forty leagues into the ocean without losing its
freshness.

He now recrossed the line, and coming again in sight of the polar star,
he pursued his course along the coast, passed the mouth of the Oronoko,
and entered the Gulph of Paria, after which he returned to Spain.

Ojeda also undertook a voyage expressly to found a settlement; but as
the character of the Spaniards was now well known to the inhabitants of
these parts, they determined to oppose their landing, and being a
numerous and warlike people, Ojeda nearly lost his life in the attempt.

Many of his companions were slain; the survivors, however, succeeding in
making good their retreat on board the ships.

Shortly afterwards he landed on the eastern side of the Gulph of Darien,
and built a fortress which they called San Sebastian.

Ojeda had with him in this expedition Francisco Pizarro, about whom I
shall have to tell you something more presently.

About the same time another Spaniard, of the name of Nicuessa, formed a
settlement on that part of the coast, and built a fortress there, which
he called Nombre de Dios, not very distant from the harbour of
Portobello.

Thus, by degrees, the whole coast of America, on the side of the
Atlantic, was discovered and explored.

But the Spaniards did not know that in the part where they were, it was
only a narrow neck of land (which you know is called an Isthmus) that
separated them from another vast ocean; and this, when they discovered
the ocean on the other side, was called the Isthmus of Darien.

I will now give you a short account of the discovery of this ocean.

Nothing having been heard of Ojeda and his new colony of San Sebastian,
another expedition, commanded by Enciso, set sail in search of them.

Among the ship's company was a man, by name Vasco Ninez de Balboa, who,
although of a rich family, had, by his bad habits, not only become very
poor, but also very much in debt.

To avoid being thrown into prison for the debts that he owed, he
contrived to get on board Enciso's ship, concealed in a cask, which was
taken on board the vessel as a cask of provisions.

When the ship was far from St. Domingo, Balboa came out from his cask to
the astonishment of all on board.

Enciso at first was angry at the way he had escaped from the punishment
which his bad conduct had deserved; yet, as he thought that he might be
of service to him, he pardoned him.

The settlement of St. Sebastian, however, had been broken up, the
Spaniards having suffered much from the repeated attacks of the natives,
who would no longer patiently submit to their unjust treatment.

Soon after Enciso arrived at Carthagena he was joined by Pizarro, with
the wretched remains of the colony; he determined nevertheless, to
continue his voyage to the settlement.

Upon his arrival there he found Pizarro's account was too true, for
where St. Sebastian had stood, nothing was to be seen but a heap of
ruins.

Here misfortune followed misfortune, his own ship was wrecked and then
he was attacked by the natives.

In despair at these disasters Enciso was at a loss what to do, or where
to go, when Balboa advised him to continue his course along the coast in
Pizarro's little vessel.

He stated that he had once before been on an expedition in this same
gulf, and on the western side he well remembered an Indian village, on
the banks of a river, called by the natives Darien.

Enciso pleased with Balboa's advice, resolved to take possession of this
village, and to drive out all the Indians.

Arrived at the river, he landed his men, and, without giving the
unfortunate people of the village any notice, he attacked them, killed
several, drove the rest out, and robbed them of all their possessions.

He then made the village the chief place of his new government, and
called it Santa Maria del Darien. Balboa assisted in this work of
cruelty and injustice.

The Spaniards had not been long here when they became tired with Enciso,
and they refused to obey him, and sent him off in a ship to Spain. Upon
his departure, Balboa took the command.

In one of his expeditions into the interior parts of the country in
search of gold, he first heard of a sea to the west, as yet unknown to
Europeans.

He had received a large quantity of gold from an Indian cazique, or
chief, and was weighing it into shares for the purpose of dividing it
among his men when a quarrel arose as to the exactness of the weight.

One of the sons of the Indian cazique was present, and he felt so
disgusted at the sordid behaviour of the Spaniards that he struck the
scales with his fist and scattered the glittering gold about the place.

[Illustration]

Before the Spaniards could recover from their astonishment at this
sudden act, he said to them, "why should you quarrel for such a trifle?
If you really esteem gold to be so precious as to abandon your homes,
and come and seize the lands and dwellings of others for the sake of it,
I can tell you of a land not far distant where you may find it in
plenty."

"Beyond those lofty mountains," he continued, pointing to the south,
"lies a mighty sea, all the streams that flow into which down the
southern side of those mountains, abound in gold, and all the utensils
the people have, are made of gold."

Balboa was struck with this account of the young Indian, and eagerly
inquired the best way of penetrating to this sea, and this land of gold.

The young Indian warned him of the dangers he would meet with from the
fierce race of Indians inhabiting these mountains, who were cannibals,
or eaters of human flesh, but Balboa was not to be deterred by accounts
of difficulties and dangers.

He was, besides, desirous of getting possession of the gold, and of
obtaining, by the merits of the discovery, the pardon of the King of
Spain, for taking from Enciso the command of the settlement.

He resolved, therefore, to penetrate to this sea, and immediately began
to make preparations for the journey.

He first sent to Hispaniola for an additional number of soldiers, to
assist him in the perilous adventure, but instead of receiving these,
the only news that reached him by the return of his messengers was, that
he would most probably have the command of Darien taken from him, and be
punished for assisting to dispossess Enciso.

This news made him determine no longer to delay his departure. All the
men he could muster for the expedition amounted only to one hundred and
ninety; but these were hardy and resolute, and much attached to him. He
armed them with swords and targets; cross-bows and arquebusses; besides
this little band, Balboa took with him a few of the Indians of Darien
whom he had won by kindness, to serve him.

On the 1st of September, 1513, Balboa set out from Darien, first to the
residence of the Indian cazique, from whose son he first heard of the
sea.

From this chief he obtained the assistance of guides and some warriors,
and with this force he prepared to penetrate the wilderness before him.

It was on the 6th of September that he began his march for the mountains
which separated him from the great Pacific Ocean, he set out with a
resolution to endure patiently all the miseries, and to combat boldly
all the difficulties that he might meet with, and he contrived to rouse
the same determination in his followers.

Their journey was through a broken rocky country covered with forest
trees and underwood, so thick and close as to be quite matted together
and every here and there deep foaming streams, some of which they were
forced to cross on rafts.

So wearisome was the journey, that in four days they had not advanced
more than ten leagues, and they began to suffer much from hunger.

They had now arrived in the province of a warlike tribe of Indians who,
instead of flying and hiding themselves, came forth to the attack. They
set upon the Spaniards with furious yells, thinking to overpower them at
once. They were armed with bows and arrows, and clubs made of palm-wood
almost as hard as iron. But the first shock of the report from the
fire-arms of the Spaniards struck them with terror. They took to flight,
but were closely pursued by the Spaniards with their blood-hounds. The
Cazique and six hundred of his people were left dead upon the field of
battle.

After the battle the Spaniards entered the adjoining village, which was
at the foot of the last mountain that remained to be climbed; this
village they robbed of every thing valuable. There was much gold and
many jewels.

Balboa shared the booty among his band of followers. But this victory
was not gained without some loss on the side of the Spaniards.

Balboa found that several of his men had been wounded by the arrows of
the Indians, and many also, overcome with fatigue, had fallen sick,
these he was obliged to leave in the village, while he ascended the
mountain.

At the cool and fresh hour of day-break he assembled his scanty band,
and began to climb the height, wishing to reach the top before the heat
of noon.

About ten o'clock they came out from the thick forest through which they
had been struggling ever since day-break: the change from the closeness
of the woods to the pleasant breeze from the mountain, was delightful.
But they were still further encouraged. "From that spot" exclaimed one
of the Indian guides, pointing to the height above them "may be seen the
great sea of which you are in search."

When Balboa heard this, he commanded his men to halt, and forbade any
one to stir from his place.



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