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applied from himself and from his measures, he by his activity and perseverence, by some concessions, and many threats, obtained at length a small body of troops to protect him and his colony at their first landing. But upon his return to Puerto Rico, he found that the diseases of the climate had been fatal to feveral of his people; and that others having got employment in that island, refused to follow him. With the handful that remained , he fet fail and landed in Cumana. Ocampo had executed his commission in that province with such barbarous rage, having maslacred many of the inhabitants, fent others in chains to Hispaniola, and forced the rest to fly for shelter to the woods, that the people of a small colony, which he had planted at a place which he named Toledo, were ready to perish for want in a desolate country. There, however, Las Cafas was obliged to fix his residence, though deserted both by the troops appointed to protect him, and by those, under the command of Ocampo, who foresaw and dreaded the calamities to which he must be exposed in that wretched station. He made the best provision in his power for the safety and subsistence of his followers; but as his utmost efforts availed little towards securing either the one or the other, he returned to Hifpaniola, in order to solicit more effectual aid for the preservation of men, who from confidence in him had ventured into
a post of so much danger. Soon after his departure, the natives, having discovered the feeble and defenceless state of the Spaniards, ailembled secretly, attacked them with the fury natural to men exasperated by many injuries, cut off a good number, and compelled the rest to fly in the utmost confternation to the island of Cubagua. The small colony settled there, on account of the pearl fishery, catching the panick with which their countrymen had been seized, abandoned the island, and not a Spaniard remained in any part of the continent, or adjacent islands, from the gulf of Paria to the borders of Darien. Astonished at such a succession of disasters, Las Casas was ashamed to shew iis face after this fatal termination of all his splendid schemes. He shut himself up in the convent of the Dominicans at St. Domingo, and soon after allumed the habit of that order. z)
Though the expulsion of the colony from Cumana happened in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty-one, I have chosen to trace the progress of Las Casas's negociations from their first rise to their final issue without interruption. His fyftem was the object of long and attentive discussion; and though his efforts in behalf of the oppressed Americans, partly from his own rashness and imprudence, and partly from the malevolent opposition of his adversaries, were not attended with that fuccess which he promised with too fanguine confidence, great praise is due to his humane activity, which gave rise to various regulations which were of some benefit to that unhappy people. I return now to the history of the Spanish discoveries, as they occur in the order of time, a)
2) Herrera, dec. 2. lib. x. c. 5. dec. 3. lib. ii. c. 3, 4, 5.
Oviedo, Hist. lib. xix. c. 5. Gomara, c. 77. Davila Padilla, lib, i, c, 97. Remisal. Hift. Gen. lib. xi. c. 22, 23.
New discoveries towards the west.
Diego Velasquez, who conquered Cuba in the year one tousand five hundred and eleven, still retained the government of that island, as the deputy of Don Diego Columbus, though he seldom acknowledged his fuperior, and aimed at rendering his own authority altogether independent. b) Under his prudent administra. tion, Cuba became one of the most flourishing of the Spanish settlements. The fame of this allured many persons from the other colonies thither, in hopes of finding either some per. manent establishment, or fome employment for their activity. As Cuba lay to the west of all the islands occupied by the Spaniards, and as :' the ocean, which stretches beyond it towards that quarter, had not hitherto heen explored,
a) Herrera, dec. 2. lib. x. c. 5. p. 329. b) Ibid. lib. ii. c. 19.
these circumstances naturally invited the inhabitants to attempt new discoveries. An expedition for this purpose, in which activity, and resolution might conduct to sudden wealth, was more suited to the genius of the age, than the patient industry requisite in clearing ground, and manufacturing sugar. Instigated by this fpirit, several officers, who had served under Pedrarias in Darien, entered into an association to undertake a voyage of discovery. They persuaded Francisco Hernandez Cordova, an opulent planter in Cuba , and a man of distinguished courage, to join with them in the ada. yenture, and chose him to be their commander. Velasquez not only approyed of the design, but affifted in carrying it on. As the yeterans from Darien were extremely indigent, he and Cordova advanced money for purchasing three small vessels, and furnishing them with every thing requisite either for traffick or for war, A hundred and ten men embarked on board of them, and failed from St. Jago de Cuba on the eighth of February one thousand five hundred and seventeen. By the advice of their chief pilot, Antonio Alaminos, who had served under the first admiral Columbus, they stood directly west relying on the opinion of that great navigator, who uniformly maintained that a westerly course would lead to the most important discoveries.
On the twenty first day after their departure from St. Jago, they saw land, which proved to be Cape Catoche, the eastera point of that large peninsula projecting from the continent of America, which still retains its original name of Yucatan. As they approached the shore, five canoes came off full of people decently clad in cotton garments; an astonishing spectacle to the Spaniards, who had found every other part of America possessed by naked savages. Cordova endeavoured by small pre. fents to gain the goodwill of these people. They, though amazed at the strange objects now presented for the first time to their view, invited the Spaniards to visit their habitations, with an appearance of cordiality. They landed accordingly, and as they advanced into the country, they observed with new wonder fome large houses built with stone. But they foon found that, if the people of Yucatan had made progress in improvement beyond their countrymen, they were likewise more artful and warlike. For though the cazique received Cordova with many tokens of friendship, he had posted a confiderable body of his fubjects in ambush behind a thicket, who, upon a signal given by him, rushed out and attacked the Spaniards with great boldness, and some degree of martial order. At the first flight of