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Hispaniola : with the other three he pursued his course to the south.
No remarkable occurrence happened until they arrived within five degrees of the line, when they were becalmed, and the heat was so excessive that the Spaniards were apprehensive the ships would take fire ; their fears were relieved by a shower of rain, but did not much ahate the heat. The admiral was so fatigued by unremitting care and loss of sleep, that he was seized with a violent fit of the gout and a fever.
These circumstances induced him to listen to the remonstrances of his men, and to alter his course to the northwest, that he might reach some of the Caribee islands, where he might refit, and obtain a fresh supply of provisions. · On the first of August, the man stationed in the roundtop, surprized them with the joyful cry of Land! Columbus named it Trinidad, which name it still retains; it lies near the mouth of the river Orinoco, on the coast of Guia ana. This river rolls towards the ocean such a vast body of water, and with such an impetuous force, that when it meets the tide, which on that coast rises to an uncommon height, occasions such a swell and agitation, that is both surprizing and formidable.
Columbus, before he was aware of the danger, was entangled with those adverse currents, and owed his safety by holdly venturing through a narrow strait which appeare ed so tremenduous, that he called it La Boca del Drago: no sooner was the consternation subsided, than Columbus drew comfort and consolation from a circumstance, so full of peril. He wisely concluded, that such a vast body of water, could not be supplied by any island, but must flow through a country of iminense extent, and that he had now in consequence, arrived at that country, which had been the main object of his pursuit.
Full of this idea, he stood to the west along the coast of those provinces, now known by the names of Paria and Cumana. He landed in several places, and found the inhabitants resembled those of Hispaniola ; they wore, as ornaments, small plates of gold, and pearls of considerable value, which they willingly exchanged for European toys. Their understanding and courage appeared superior to the inhabitants of the islands.
This country produced four-footed animals of difierent kinds, and a great variety of fowls and fruit. The admiral was so much delighted with its fertility, that with the warm enthusiasm of a discoverer, he imagined it to be the paradise described in Scripture, which the Almighty had chosen for the residence of man, while he was innocent and worthy of such a possession.
Thus, Columbus had the glory of discovering a new world, making considerable progress towards a perfect knowledge of it, and was the first man that conducted the Spaniards to that vast settlement, which has been the chief seat of their empire, and source of their treasures. The weak situation of his ships, scarcity of provisions, and his own infirmities, together with the impatience of his crew, made it necessary for him to steer away for Hispaniola. On the thirtieth of August, 1499, he reached that island, and found the colony in such a situation, as left him no prospect of enjoying that repose, which he stood so much in need of. Many changes had happened, during his ab. sence. His brother, the Adelantado, agreeable to former instructions, had removed the colony from Isabella, to a more convenient station, on the opposite side of the island, and laid the foundation of the town of St. Domingo.
As soon as they were established in this new settlement, the Adelantado, to prevent the people from forming new cabals, marched into other parts of the island, which his brother had not yet reduced to obedience; as the people were unable to resist, they submitted every where to the tribute imposed. While the Adelantado was thus employed, an alarming mutiny broke out, among the Spaniards: the ringleader was Francis Roldan, who was placed by Columbus, to be the guardian of order and tranquillity, in the colony.
The arguments he employed to seduce his countrymen, were frivolous and ill-founded. He accused Colum, bus, and his three brothers of arrogance and severity. He insinuated, that they aimed at establishing an independent dominion in the country; for this purpose, they designed to cut off part of the Spaniards, by hunger and fatigue, that they might the more easily, reduce the remainder to subjection ; he said, it was unworthy of Castilians, to be the tame and passive slaves of three Genoese adventurers.
By these insidious means, strengthened by his rank, a deep impression was made on the minds of his country,
men, already prepared to receive unfavourable impressions. A considerable number made choice of him, for their leader, and took up arms against the Adelantado, and his brother, seized the king's magazine of provisions, and endeavoured to surprize the fort at St. Domingo. This was preserved by the vigilance of Don Diego Columbus. The mutineers were obliged to retire to the province of Xaragua, where they continued, not only to oppose the Adelantado's authority themselves, but excited the Indians to throw off the yoke.
Such was the distracted state of the colony, when Columbus arrived. He was astonished to find that the three ships, which he had dispatched from the Canaries had not yet arrived. By want of skill in the pilots, and the violence of the currents, they had been carried one hun. dred and sixty miles west of St. Domingo, and forced to take shelter in the harbour of the province of Xaragua, where Roldan and his seditious followers were cantoned. Roldan carefully concealed from the commanders, his insurrection against the Adelantado, and employed all his art to gain their contidence, 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 no great argument with those men, to espouse his cause. They were the refuse of the jails of Spain. These were familiarized to deeds of violence, and eagerly returned to a course of life to which they had been accustomed. The commanders of the ships were con, vinced, when it was too late, of their imprudence, and stood away for St. Domingo, and got safe into port a few days after their admiral.
These ships brought but small relief to the colony, their provisions being much reduced, by the length of the voyage. Roldan, by the additional force of his new asso. ciates, became extremely formidable, and extravagant in his demands. Columbus filled with resentment at his ingratitude, and highly incensed, at the insolence of his followers, yet appeared in no haste to take the field. He trembled at thoughts of kindling the flames of civil war. He saw with regret, that the prejudices and passions which had excited the rebels to take arms, had infected those who still adhered to him, and were all cold to the service. He therefore chose to negociate rather than fight. By a seasonable proclamation, offering free pardon to
such as returned to their duty, he made impressions on some of the malecontents. To those who were desirous of returning to Spain, he gave full liberty : by this he allured, all those who were disgusted with the country, and disappointed in their views. He soothed Roldan's pride, by promising to restore him to his former office ; and by complying with the demands of others, he satisfied their avarice. Thus gradually, and without bloodshed, after several tedious negociations, he dissolved a confederacy that threatened ruin to the colony, and restored order and regular government.
This mutinous disposition in the people, prevented Columbus from prosecuting his discoveries on the continent. As soon as his affairs would permit, he sent some of his ships to Spain, with an account of the voyage he had made, together with a descripiton of the countries, which he had discovered ; a chart of the coast along which he sailed ; also specimens of the gold, pearls, and other curiosities found there. At the same time, he transmitted an account of the insurrection in Hispaniola. Roldan and his followers, did not neglect to convey to Spain, by the same ships, an apology for their conduct, and recriminated upon the admiral, and his brothers.
Unfortunately for the honour of Spain, and the happiness of Columbus Roldan gained the most credit at court, and produced unexpected events.
The perpetual occupation and disquiet, which the malecontents in the colony, gave him, prevented him from attending to the machinations of his enemies, in the court of Spain. Several of these had embraced the opportunity of returning to Europe, in the ships Columbus had dispatched from St. Domingo.
Inflamed with rage at the disappointment of all their hopes, their poverty and distress excited compassion, and gave their accusations the appearance of probability, and made their complaints interesting. They teazed Ferdinand and Isabella, with memorials, containing an account of their own grievances, and charges against Columbus. Whenever the king and queen appeared in public, they were surrounded by a crowd of petitioners, demanding payment of arrears due to them, and vengeance on Columbus, as the author of their sufferings. The admiral's sons, were insulted wherever they met them, reproaching them as the offspring of a projector, whose fatal curiosity had discovered those pernicious regions, which drained
Spain of its wealth, and would prove the grave of its people.
These endeavours to ruin Columbus, were powerfully seconded by that party of courtiers, who had always thwarted his schemes, and were stung with envy at his success and credit.
Ferdinand listened with a willing and partial ear to every accusation; time had now diminished the first sensations of joy, which the discovery of the New World had occasioned, and fame alone was not sufficient to satisfy the cold and avaricious mind of Ferdinand. He considered Spain as a loser by the enterprize of Columbus, and imputed it to his incapacity for government, that a country abounding in gold, had not yielded a greater value to its conquerors. Even Isabella began to give way to the number and boldness of his accusers, and concluded, that there must have been some occasion, on his part, that caused such heavy complaints against him. This was no sooner koown, than a resolution fatal to Columbus was taken.
Francis de Bovadilla, a knight of Calatrava was appointed to repair to Hispaniola, with full powers to inquire into the conduct of Columbus; and, if he found the charge of mal-administration proved against him, to supercede him in the government. It was impossible for Columbus to escape condemnation, when this preposterous commission made it the interest of the judge to find him guilty.
Though Columbus had restored tranquillity in the island, though he had brought both Spaniards, and Indians, to submit quietly to his government, yel the interested Bovadilla, without attending to the merit of those services, shewed a determined purpose of treating him as a criminal. He seized the admiral's house in St. Domingo, when he was absent, with all his effects; he rendered himself master of the fort, and the king's stores, by violence; and required all persons to acknowledge him as supreme governor; he set at liberty all the prisoners confined by the admiral; and summoned him to appear before his tribunal, to answer for his conduct, sending him at the same time a copy of the royal mandate, by which Columbus was enjoined to yield implicit obedience to his commands.
Columbus, though deeply affected with the ingratitude and injustice of Ferdinand and Isabella, submitted with :