to them. A considerable number of the Spai niards made choice of him as their leader; and

taking arms against the Adelantado and his brother, seized the king's magazine of provisions, , and endeavoured to surprise the fort a St. Do· mingo. This was preserved by the vigilance

and courage of Don Diego Columbus. The mutineers were obliged to retire to the province of Xaragua, where they continued not only to disclaim the Adelantado's authority themselves, but excited the Indians to throw off the yoke w).

Such was the distracted state of the colony when Columbus landed at St, Domingo. He was astonished to find that the three ships which he had dispatched from the Canaries were not yet arrived. By the unskilfulness of the pilots, and the violence of currents, they had been carried a hundred and fixty miles to the west of St. Domingo, and forced to take shelter in a harbour of the province of Xaragua, where Roldan and his feditious followers were cantoned. Roldan carefully concealed from the commanders of the ships his insurrection against the Adelantado, and employing his utmost address to gain their confidence, persuaded them to set on shore a considerable part of the new settlers whom they brought over, that they might proceed by land to St. Domingo. It required but few arguments to prevail with those

w) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. iii. c.5-8. Life of Columbus, c. 74 - 77.

Gomara, 6. 23. P. Martyr, p. 78.

men to espouse his cause. They were, the refuse of the jails of Spain, to whom idleness, licentiousness, and deeds of violence, were familiar; and they returned eagerly to a course of life nearly resembling that to which they had been accustomed. The commanders of the ships perceiving, when it was too late, their impradence in disembarking so many of their men, ftood away for St. Domingo, and got safe into the port a few days after the Admiral; but their stock of provisions was fo wasted during a voy, age of such long continuance, that they brought little relief to the colony x).

Composed by the prudent conduct of Columbus.

By this junction with a band of such bold and desperate associates, Roldan became extremely formidable, and no less extravagant in his demands. Columbus, though filled with resentment at his ingratitude, and highly exasperated by the infolence of his followers, made no hafte to take the field. He trembled at the thoughts of kindling the flames of a civil war, in which, whatever party prevailed, the power and strength of both must be so much wasted, as might encourage the common enemy to unite and complete their destruction. At the same time, he observed, that the prejudices and passions which incited the rebels to take arms, had so far infected those who still adhered to him, that ma

*) Herrera, decad. i, lib, iii. 6, 12. Life of Columbus, c. 78.79.

[ocr errors]

ny of them were adverse, and all cold to the service. From such sentiments, with respect to the public intereft, as well as from this view of his own situation, he chose to negociate rather than to fight. By a seasonable proclamation, offering free pardon to such as should merit it by returning to their duty, he made impression upon some of the malcontents. By engaging to grant such as should defire in the literty of returning to Spain, he allured all those unfortunate adventurers, who, from sickness and disappointment, were disgusted with the country. By promising to reestablish Roldan in his former office, he soothed his pride ; and by complying with most of his demands in behalf of his followers, he satisfied their avarice. Thus, gra. dually and without bloodshed, but after many tedious negociations, he diffolved this dangerous combination which threatened the colony with ruin; and restored the appearance of order, regular governments, and tranquillity y).


A new mode of settlement established.

(1499) In consequence of this agreement with the mutineers, lands were allotted them in different parts of the island, and the Indians settled in each diitriet were appointed to cultivate a certain portion of ground for the use of those new masters. The performance of this y) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. il, 6. 13. 14. Life of Calumbas

•. 80, .


work was substituted in place of the tribute for: merly imposed; and how necessary foever such a regulation might be in a sickly and feeble colony, it introduced among the Spaniards the Repartimientos, or distributions of Indians established by them in all their settlements, which brought numberless calamities upon that unhappy people, and subjected them to the most grieva ous oppression z). This was not the only bad effect of the insurrection in Hispaniola ; it prevented Columbus from prosecuting his discoveries on the continent, as self-preservation obliged him to keep near his person his brother the Adelantado, and the sailors whom he intended to have employed in that service. As soon as his affairs would permit, he sent some of his Thips to Spain with a journal of the voyage which he had made, a description of the new countries which he had discovered, a chart of the coast along which he had failed, and specimens of the gold, the pearls, and other curious or valuable productions which he had acquired by trafficking with the natives. At the same time he transmitted an account of the insurrection in Hispaniola; he accused the mutineers not only of having thrown the colony into such violent convulsions as threatened its dissolution, but of having obstructed every attempt towards disco. very and improvement, by their unprovoked rebellion against their superior, and proposed fe

2) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. iii. C. 14. &c.

veral regulations for the better government of che island, as well as the extinction of that mu. Cinous fpirit, which, though suppressed at preTent, might foon burst out with additional rage, Roldan and his associates did not neglect to con vey to Spain by the fame ships, an apology for their own conduct, together with their recriminations upon the Admiral and his brothers. Unfortunately for the honour of Spain, and the happiness of Columbus, the latter gained most credit in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and produced unexpected effects a).

The voyage of Vasco de Gama to the East Indies, by the Cape

. of Good Hope.

But, previous to these events had appened which merit attention, both on account of their own importance, and their connection with the

history of the New World. While Columbus I was engaged in his successive voyages to the

west, the fpirit of discovery did not languish in Portugal, the kingdom where it first acquired vigour, and became enterprising. Self-condemnation and regret were not the only sentiments k to which the success of Columbus, and refle. fi ction upon their own imprudence in rejecting

his proposals, gave rise among the Portuguese. They excited a generous emulation to surpass his performances, and an ardent desire to make

a) Herrera, dec. 1, liv, ii. c. 14.

Banzun. Hist, Nov. Ork.

lib. i. 6, 2.

« ElőzőTovább »