siderable way along the coast of that country. 1) Though nothing memorable occurred in this voyage, it deserves notice, because it led to discoveries of greater importance. For the same reason, the voyage of Sebastian de Ocampo must be mentioned. By the command of Ovando, he failed round Cuba, and first discovered, with certainty, that this country, which Columbus once supposed to be a part of the continent, was a large island, m)

Diego Columbus appointed governor of Hispaniola. I · This voyage round Cuba was one of the last occurrences under the administration of Ovando, Ever since the death of Columbus , his son Don Diego had been employed in foli. citing Ferdinand to grant him the offices of viceroy and admiral in the New World, together with all the other immunities and profits which descended to him by inheritance, in consequence of the original capitulation of his father. But if these dignities and revenues appeared fo confiderable to Ferdinand, that , at the expence of being deemed unjust, as well as ungrateful, he had wrested them from Columbus, it is not surprising that he should be unwilling to confer them on his son. Accordingly, Don Diego wasted two years in incessant but fruitless importunity. Weary of this, he endeavoured at length to obtain by a legal fentence what he could not procure from the favour of an interested monarch. He commenced a suit against Ferdinand before the council that managed Indian affairs, and that court, with integrity which reflects honour upon its proceedings, decided against the king, and sustained Don Diego's claim of the viceroyalty, together with all the other privileges ftipulated in the capitulation. Even after this decree, Ferdinand's repugnance to put a subject in poffeffion of such extensive rights, might have thrown in new obstacles, if Don Diego had not taken a step which interested very powerful perfons in the success of his claims. The fentence of the council of the Indies gave him a title to a rank fo elevated, and a fortune fo opulent, that he found no difficulty in concluding a marriage with Donna Maria, daughter of Don Ferdinand de Toledo, great commendator of Leon, and brother of the duke of Alva, a nobleman of the first rank, and nearly related to the king. The duke and his family espoused fo warmly the cause of their new ally, that Ferdinand could not resist their solicitations. He recalled Ovando, and appointed Don Diego his successor, though, even in conferring this favour , he could not conceal his jealousy; for he allowed him to aflume only the title of governor, not

1) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. vi. c. 17. m) Herre ra, dec. 1. lib. vii. C. I,

that of viceroy, which had been adjudged to belong to him. n)

i He repairs to Hispaniola. Don Diego quickly.repaired to Hispaniola , attended by his brother, his uncles, his wife, whom the courtesy of the Spaniards honoured with the title of vicequeen, and a numerous retinue of persons of both sexes, born of good families. He lived with a fplendour and magnificence hitherto unknown in the New World; and the family of Columbus seemed now to enjoy the honours and rewards due to his inventive genius of which he himself had been cruelly defrauded. The colony itself acquired new lustre by the accession of so many inhabit ants, of a different rank and character from most of those who had hitherto migrated to America , and many of the most illustrious families in the Spanish settlements are descended from the persons who at that time accompanied Don Diego Columbus. 0)

No benefit accrued to the unhappy natives from this change of governors. Don Diego was not only authorized by a royal edict to continue the repartimientos, or distribution of Indians; but the particular number which he might grant to every person, according to his

n) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. vii. c. 4, &c. o) Oviedo. lib. iii. c. 1.

rank in the colony, was fpecified. He availed himself of that permission; and soon after he landed at St. Domingo, he divided such Indians as were still unappropriated, among his relations and attendants. p)

Pearl fishery of Cubagua.

The next care of the new governor was to comply with an instruction which he received from the king , about fettling a colony in Cubagua, a small island which Columbus had discovered in his third voyage. Though this barren spot hardly yielded subsistence to its wretched inhabitants, such quantities of those oysters which produce pearls were found on its coast, that it did not long escape the inquisitive avarice of the Spaniards, and became à place of considerable resort. Large fortunes were acquired by the fishery of pearls, which was carried on with extraordinary ardour. The Indians, especially those from the Lucayo islands, were compelled to dive for them; and this dangerous and unhealthy employment was an additional calamity, which contributed not a little to the extinction of that devoted race, q)

p) Recopilacion de Leyes, lib, vi, tit. 8. 1.1, 2. Herrera,

dec. 1. lib, vii. c. 10. 1) Herrera, dec, I. lib. vii. c, 9, Gomara Hift. c. 78.

New voyages.

About this period, Juan Diaz de Solis and Pinzon set out, in conjunction, upon a second voyage. They ftood directly fouth, towards the equinoctial line, which Pinzon had formerly crossed, and advanced as far as the fortieth degree of southern latitude. They were asto. nished to find that the continent of America stretched, on their right hand, through all this vast extent of ocean. They landed in different places, to take possession in name of their sovereign; but though the country appeared to be extremely fertile and inviting, their force was so i'mall, having been fitted out rather for discovery than making settlements, that they left no colony behind them. Their voyage served, however, to give the Spaniards more exalted and adequate ideas with respect to the dimensions of this new quarter of the globe. r)

A settlement on the continent attempted.

Though it was above ten years since Columbus had discovered the main land of America, the Spaniards had hitherto made no settlement in any part of it. What had been so long neglected was now seriously attempted , and

1) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. vii. c. 9.

« ElőzőTovább »