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asperse the character of Columbus, Bovadilla
collected the materials for a charge against him. - All accusations, the most improbable, as well
as inconsistent, were received. No informer, - however infamous, was rejected. The result
of this inquest, no less indecent than partial, he transmitted to Spain. At the same time, he ordered Columbus, with his two brothers, to be carried thither in fetters; and, adding cruelty to insult, he confined them in different ships, and excluded them from the comfort of that friendly intercourse which might have foothed their common distress. But while the Spaniards in Hispaniola viewed the arbitrary and insolent proceedings of Boyadilla with a general approbation, which reflects dishonour upon their name and country, one man still retained the memory of the great actions which Columbus had performed, and was touched with the sentiments of veneration and pity due to his rank, his age, and his merit. Alonso de Vallejo, the captain of the vefsel on board which the Admiral was confined, as soon as he was clear of the island, approached his prisoner with great respect, and
offered to release him from the fetters with · which he was unjustly loaded. „No,“ replied
Columbus, with a generous indignation, „I wear these irons in consequence of an order froin my sovereigns. They shall find me as obedient to this as to their other injunctions. By their command I have been confined, and their command alone shall set me at liberty i).“
Set at liberty, but deprived of all authority.
Fortunately, the voyage to Spain was extremely short. As soon as Ferdinand and Isabella were informed that Columbus was brought home a prisoner, and in chains, perceived at once what universal astonishment this event must occasion, and what an impression to their disadvantage it must make.“ All Europe, they foresaw, would be filled with indignation at this ungenerous requital of a man who had performed actions worthy of the highest recompence, and would exclaim against the injustice of the nation, to which he had been such an eminent benefactor, as well as against the ingratitude of the princes whose reign he had rendered illustrious. Ashamed of their own conduct, and eager not only to make some reparation for this injury, but to efface the stain which it might fix upon their character, they instantly issued orders to set Columbus at liberty, invited him to court, and remitted money to enable him to appear there in a manner suitable to his rank. When he entered the royal presence, Columbus threw himself at the feet of his sovereigns. He remained for some time filent; the various para Mons which agitated his mind suppressing his power of utterance. At length he recovered himself, and vindicated his conduct in a long discourse, producing the most satisfying proofs of his own integrity as well as good intention, and evidence, no less clear, of the malevolence of his enemies, who, not satisfied with having ruined his fortune, laboured to deprive him of what alone was now left, his honour and his fame. Ferdinand received him with decent civility, and Isabella with tenderness and respect. They both expreffed their forrow for what had happened, disavowed their knowledge of it, and joined in promising him protection and future favour. But though they instantly degraded Bovadilla, in order to remove from themselves any fufpicion of having authorised his violent proceedings, they did not restore to Columbus his jurisdiction and privileges as viceroy of those countries which he had discovered. Though willing to appear the avengers of Columbus's wrongs; that illiberal jealousy, which prompted them to invest Bovadilla with such authority as put it in his power to treat the Admiral with indignity, still subsisted. They were afraid to trust a man to whom they were so highly indebted, and retaining him at court under various pretexts, they appointed Nicholas de Ovando, a knight of the military order of Alcantara, governor of Hispaniola k).
fions i) Life of Columbus, c. 86. Herrera , dec. i. lib. iv. c. 8-11.
Gomara Hift. c. 23. Oviedo , lib.iii. c. 6.
Columbus was deeply affected with this new injury, which came from hands that seemed to be employed in making reparation for his past sufferings. The sensibility with which great minds feel every thing that implies any fufpicion of their integrity, or that wears the aspect of an affront, is exquisite. Columbus had exe perienced both from the Spaniards; and their ungenerous conduct exasperated him to such a degree, that he could no longer conceal the sentiments which it excited. Wherever he went, he carried about with him, as a memorial of their ingratitude, those fetters with which he had been loaded. They were constantly hung up in his chamber, and he gave orders that when he died, they should be buried in his grave 1).
Progress of discovery. January 1501.
Meanwhile, the spirit of discovery, notwith ftanding the severe check which it received by the ungenerous treatment of the man who first excited it in Spain, continued active and vigorous. Roderigo de Baftidas, a person of distinction, fitted out two ships in co - partnery with John de la Cofa, who having served under the Admiral in two of his voyages, was deemed the most skilful pilot in Spain. They fteered directly towards the continent, arrived on the coast of Paria , and proceeding to the west,
1) Life of Columbus, 6.86. p. 577."
discovered all the coast of the province now
known by the name of Tierra Firma, from Cape e de Vela to the gulf of Darien. Not long after
Ojeda, with his former associate Amerigo Ve. spucci set out upon a second voyage, and being
unacquainted with the destination of Bastidas, = held the same course, and touched at the fame
places. The voyage of Baftidas was prosperous and lucrative, that of Ojeda, unfortunate. But both tended to increase the ardour of discovery;
for in proportion as the Spaniards acquired a 7 more extensive knowledge of the American con* tinent, their idea of its opulence and fertility increased m).
Ovando appointed governor of Hispaniola. Before these adventurers returned from their voyages, a fleet was equipped at the public
expence, for carrying over Ovando, the new ; governor, to Hispaniola. His presence there
was extremely requisite, in order to stop the - inconsiderate career of Bovadilla, whose imprua
dent administration threatened the settlement with ruin. Conscious of the violence and iniquity of his proceedings against Columbus, he continued to make it his fole object to gain the favour and support of his countrymen, by accommodating himself to their passions and prejudices. With this view, he established regu. lations, in every point the reverse of those m) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. iv, 6. 11.