Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Pedrarias appointed governor of Darien. Balboa's first care was to send information to Spain of the important discovery which he had made; and to demand a reinforcement of a thousand men, in order to attempt the conquest of that opulent country, concerning which he had received such inviting intelligence. The first account of the discovery of the New World hardly occasioned greater joy, than the unexpected tidings, that a passage was at last found to the great southern ocean. The communication with the East - Indies, by a course to the westward of the line of demarcation, drawn by the Pope, seemed now to be certain. The vast wealth which flowed into Portugal from its settlements and conquests in that country, excited the envy and called forth the emulation of other ftates. Ferdinand hoped now to come in for a share in this lucrative commerce, and in his eagerness to obtain it, was willing to make an effort beyond what Balboa required. But even in this exertion, his jealous policy, as well as the fatal antipathy of Fonseca, now bishop of Burgos, to every man of merit who distinguished himself in the New World, were confpicuous. Notwithstanding Balboa's recent fervices, which marked him out as the moft proper person to finish that great undertaking which he had begun, Ferdinand was so ungenerous as to overlook these, and to appoint Pedrarias Davila governor of Darien. He gave

him

him the command of fifteen stout vessels, and twelve hundred foldiers. These were fitted out

at the publick expence, with a liberality which E Ferdinand had never displayed in any former

armament destined for the New World; and such was the ardour of the Spanisn gentlemen to follow a leader wlio was about to conduct them to a country, where, as fame reported,

they had only to throw their nets into the sea 2: and draw out gold, g) that fifteen hundred emMen barked on board the fleet, and if they had not

been retrained, a much greater number would s have engaged in the service. h)

Pedrarias reached the gulf of Darieni withe out any remarkable accident, and immediately ma sent some of his principal officers ashore, to si inform Balboa of his arrival, with the king's

commission, to be governor of the colony. To en their astonishment, they found Balboa., of 21€ whose great exploits they had heard so much,

E and of whose opulence they had formed such , high ideas, clad in a canvas jacket, and wearHi ing coarse hempen sandals used only by the

meanest peasants, employed together with some palei Indians, in thatching his own hut with reeds. di Even in this simple garb, which corresponded

so ill with the expectation and wishes of his new guests, Balboa received them with dignity.

g) Herrera, dec. 1. lib. x. c. 14.
b) Ibid. dec. 1. lib. x. c. 6, 7, P. Martyr, dec. p. 177. 296.
ROBERTSON. Tom. I.

S

The fame of his discoveries had drawn so many adventurers from the islands, that he could now mufter four hundred and fifty men. At the head of those daring veterans, he was more than a match for the forces which Pedrarias brought with him. But though his troops murmured loudly at the injustice of the king in superseding their commander, and complained that ftrangers would now reap the fruits of their toil and success, Balboa submitted with implicit obedience to the will of his sovereign, and received Pedrarias with all the deference due to his character. i)

Difenfion between him and Balboa,

Notwithstanding this moderation to which Pedrarias owed the peaceable poffeffion of his government, he appointed a judicial inquiry to be made into Balboa's conduct, while under the command of Nicuefla; and imposed a considerable fine upon him, on account of the irregularities of which he had then been guilty. Balboa felt sensibly the mortification of being fubjected to trial and to punishment in a place where he had so lately occupied the first station. Pedrarias could not conceal his jealousy of his superior merit; so that the resentment of the one, and the envy of the other, gave rise to diflensions extremely detrimental to the colony.

9) Herreras, dec. I, lib, X. C. 13. 14.

It was treatened with a calamity ftill more fatal. Pedrarias had landed in Darien at a most unlucky time of the year, (July 1ģ14.) about the middle of the rainy season, in that part of the torrid żone where the clouds pour down such torrents as are unknown in more temperate climates. k). The village of Santa Maria was seated in a rich plain , environed with marshes and woods. The constitution of Europeans was unable to withstand the pestilential influence of such a situation, in a climate naturally fo noxious, and at a season fo peculiarly unhealthy. A violent and destructive malady carried off many of the soldiers who accompanied Pedrarias. An extreme scarcity of provisions augmented this distress, as it rendered it impossible to find proper refreshment for the fick, or the necessary fuftenance for the healthy. l) In the space of a month above fix hundred persons perished in the utmost mi

sery. Dejection and despair spread through the - colony. Many principal persons folicited their

dismission, and were glad to relinquish all their i hopes of wealth, in order to escape from that

pernicious region. Pedrarias endeavoured to divert those who remained from brooding over their misfortunes, by finding them employment. With this view, he fent several detachments

S 2

k) Richard Hift. Naturelle de l'Air, tom. I. p. 204. 1) Herrera , dec1, lib. 3. C. 4. P. Martyr, det, .

into the interior parts of the country, to levy gold among the natives, and to search for the mines in which it was produced. Those rapacious adventurers, more attentive to present gain than to the means of facilitating their future progress, plundered without distinction wherever they marched. Regardless of the alļiances which Balboa had made with several of the caziqnes, they stripped them of every thing valuable, and treated them, as well as their subjects, with the utmost infolence and cruelty. By their tyranny and exactions, which Pedrarias, either from want of authority or of inclination, did not reftrain, all the country from the gulf of Darien to the lake of Nicaragua was desolated, and the Spaniards were inconfiderately deprived of the advantages which they might have derived from the friendship of the natives , in extending their conquests to the South Sea. Balboa, who saw with concern that such ill-judged proceedings retarded the execution of his favourite fcheme, fent violent remonftrances to Spain againft the imprudent government of Pedrarias, which had ruined a happy and flourifhing colony, Pedrarias, on the other hand, accufed him of having deceived the king, by magnifying his own exploits, as well as by a false reprefentation of the opulence and value of the country.m)

m) Herrera, dec, 1, lib. X. c. 15. dec. 2. C. I, &c. Gomara, c. 66.

P. Martyr. dec. 3. C. 10, Relacion de B. de las Casas., p. 12.

« ElőzőTovább »