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ral discontent. In vain did Columbus endeavour to revive their spirits by pointing out the fertility of the soil, and exhibiting the specimens of gold daily brought in from different parts of the island. They had not patience to wait for the gradual returns wbich the former might yield, and the latter they despised as fcanty and inconsiderable. The spirit of difaffection spread, and a confpiracy was formed, which might have been fatal to Columbus and the colony. Happily he discovered it, and seizing the ringleaders, punished some of them, sent others prisoners into Spain, whither he dispatched twelve of the fhips which had served as transports, with an earnest request for a reinforcement of men and a large supply of provisions t).
Examines into the state of the country.
Meanwhile, in order to banish that idleness which, by allowing his people leisure to brood over their disappointment, nourifi:ed the spirit of difcontent, Columbus planned several expeditions into the interior part of the country. He sent a detachment, under the command of Alonso de Ojeda, a vigilant and enterprising officer, to visit the diftrict of Cibao, which was faid to yield the greateft quantity of gold, and followed bim in person with the main body of his troops. (March. 12.) In this expedition,
0 Herrera, decad, I, lib, iic. 10, II.
he displayed all the pomp of military magnificence that he could exhibit, in order to strike the imagination of the natives. He marched with colours Flying, with martial music, and with a small body of cavalry that paraded fometimes in the front and fometimes in the rear. As those were the first horses which appeared in the New World, they were objects of terror no less than of admiration to the Indians, who having no tame animals themselves, were un-" acquainted with that vast accession of power, which man hath acquired by subjecting them to his dominion. They supposed them to be rational creatures. They imagined that the horse and the rider formed one animal, with whose speed they were astonished, and whose impetuofity and strength they considered as irresistible. But while Columbus endeavoured to infpire the natives with a dread of his power, he did not neglect the arts of gaining their love and confidence. He adhered scrupulously to the principles of integrity and justice in all his transactions with them, and treated them, on every occasion, not only with humanity, but with indulgence. :
The district of Cibao answered the description given of it by the natives. It was mountainous and uncultivated, but in every river and brook gold was gathered either in dust or in grains, some of which were of considerable size. The Indians had never opened any mines in search
of gold. To penetrate into the bowels of the earth, and to refine the rude ore, were operations too complicated for their talents and industry, and they had no such high value for gold as to put their ingenuity and invention upon the stretch in order to obtain it u). The small quantity of that precious metal which they pofseffed, was either picked up in the beds of the rivers, or washed from the mountains by the heavy rains that fall within the tropics. But, from those indications, the Spaniards could no longer doubt that the country contained rich treasures in its bowels, of which they hoped foon to be masters w). In order to secure the command of this valuable province, Columbus erected a small fort, to which he gave the name of St. Thomas, by way of ridicule upon fome of his incredulous followers, who would not believe that the country produced gold, until they saw it with their own eyes, and touched it with their hands x).
The distress and disaffe&ion of the colony increase.
The account of those promising appearances of wealth in the country of Cibao came very seasonably to comfort the desponting colony, which was effected with distresles of various kinds. The stock of provisions which had been
u) Oviedo, lib. ii. p. 90. A. . w) P. Martyr. dec. p. 32. 8) Herrera, des, I, lib, ii, 4, 1%, Life of Columbus, c, 5%.
brought from Europe was mostly confumed; what remained was so much corrupted by the heat and moisture of the climate, as to be al. moft unfit for use; the natives cultivated so small a portion of ground, and with so little skill, that it hardly yielded what was sufficient for their own subsistence; the Spaniards at Isabella had hitherto neither time nor leisure to clear the soil, so as to reap any considerable fruits of their own industry. On all these accounts, they became afraid of perisning with hunger, and were reduced already to a fcanty allowance. At the same time, the diseases predominant in the torrid zone, and which rage chiefly in those une cultivated countries, where the hand of industry has not opened the woods, drained the marshes, and confined the rivers within a cer. tain channel, began to spread among them. Alarmed at the violence and unusual symptoms of thofe maladies, they exclaimed against Columbus and his companions in the former voyage, who, by their fplendid but deceitful descriptions of Hispaniola, had allured them to quit Spain for a barbarous uncultivated land, where they must either be cut off by famine, or die of unknown distempers. Several of the officers and persons of note, instead of checking, joined in those seditious complaints. Father Boyl, the apostolical vicar, was one of the most turbulent and outrageous. It required all the authority and address of Columbus to reestablish subordi.
nation and tranquillity in the colony. Threats and promises were alternately employed for this purpose; but nothing contributed more to foothe the malcontents than the prospect of finding, in the mines of Cibao, such a rich store of treafure as would be a recompence for all.their sufferings, and efface the memory of former disappointments.
Columbus attempts new discoveries.
When, by his unwearied endeavours, coneord and order were so far restored, that he could venture to leave the island, Columbus refolyed to pursue his discoveries, that he might be able to ascertain whether those new countries with which he had opened a communication, were connected with any region of the earth already known, or whether they were to be considered as a separate portion of the globe, hitherto unvisited. He appointed his brother Don Diego, with the assistance of a council of officers, to govern the island in his absence; and gave the command of a body of soldiers to
Don Pedro Margarita, with which he was to e. visit the different parts of the island, and en
deavour to establish the authority of the Spaniards among the inhabitants. Having left them very particular instructions with respect to their conduct, he weighed anchor on the 24th of April, with one ship and two small barks under his command. During a tedious voyage of full five
ROBERTSON Vol. I.