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and some precious stones, particularly emeralds.
in the American dominions of Spain. In
· The province contiguous to Santa Martha on the east, was first visited by Alonso de Ojeda, in the year 1499; u) and the Spaniards, on their landing there, having obseryed some huts in an Indian village built upon piles, in order to raise them above the stagnated water which covered the plain, were led to bestow upon it the name of Venezuela , or Little Venice, by their usual propensity to find a resemblance, between what they discovered in America, and the objects which were familiar to them in Europe. They made some attempts to settle there, but with little success. The final reduction of the province was accomplished by means very different from those to which Spain was indebted for its other 'acquisitions in the New World. The ambition of Charles V. often engaged him in operations of such variety and extent, that his revenues were not sufficient to defray the expence of carrying them into execution. Among other expedients for supplying the deficiency of his funds, he had borrowed large fums from the Velfer's of Augsburgh, the most opulent merchants at that time in Europe. By way of retribution for these, or in hopes, perhaps of obtaining a new loan, he bestowed upon them the province of Venezuela, to be held as an
u) Book ii, vol. i.
hereditary fief of the crown of Castile, on con-
comfortable, instead of planting a colony in or-
%) Civedo y Bagnos Hist, de Venezuela, p, II, &c.
the wretched remainder of the Germans de. serted Venezuela, the Spaniards again took pofsession of it; but, notwithstanding many natu. ral advantages, it is one of their most languishing and unproductive settlements.
Caraccas and Cumana.
The provinces of Caraccas and Cumana are the last of the Spanish territories on this coaft ; but in relating the origin and operations of the mercantile company, in which an exclusive right of trade with them has been vested, I shall hereafter gave occasion to consider their state and productions,
New kingdom of Granada. The New Kingdom of Granada is entirely an inland country of vast extent. This import. ant addition was made to the dominions of Spain about the year 1536, by Sebastian de Benalcazar and Gonzalo Ximenes de Quesada, two of the bravest and most accomplisned officers employed in the conquest of America. The former, who commanded at that time in Quito, attacked it from the fouth; the latter made his invasion from Santa Martha on the north. As the original inhabitants of this region were farther advanced in im. provement, than any people in America but the Mexicans and Peruvians, y) they defended
theme y) Book iv. vol. ii.
themselves with great resolution and good conduct. The abilities and perseverance of Benalcazar and Quesada furmounted all opposition, though not without encountering many dangers', and reduced the country into the form of a Spa, nish proyince.
The New Kingdom of Granada is fo far elevated above the level of the sea, that though it approaches almost to the equator , the climate is remarkably temperate. The fertility of its yallies is not inferior to that of the richest districts in America, and its higher grounds yield gold and precious ftones of various kinds. It is not by digging into the bowels of the earth that this gold is found; it is mingled with the foil near the surface, and separated from it by repeated washing with water. This operation is carried on wholly by negroe flaves; for though the chill subterranean air has been discovered, by experience, to be so fatal to them, that they cannot be employed in the deep filver mines, they are more capable of performing the other species of labour than Indians. As the natives in the New Kingdom of Granada are exempt from that service which has wasted their race so rapidly in other parts of America, it is remarkably populous, Some distriets yield gold with a profufion no less wonderful than that in the vale of Cineguilla, which I have formerly mentioned, and it is often found in large pepitas, or grains, which manifest the
ROBERTSON Vol. III. R