A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. III.
Robert Kerr

Part 4 out of 10

of some great river, which was the occasion of naming it _Boca del Sierpe_,
because of the terror it put our people into; for, as they lay very
securely at anchor, there came a stronger current of the water than usual,
making a hideous noise and running furiously to the northwards; and being
opposed by another current running out from the Gulf of Paria, they met
with a hideous roaring noise, and caused the sea to swell up like a high
mountain, or ridge of hills along the channel. Soon afterwards, this
mountainous wave came towards the ships, to the great terror of all the
men, fearing they should be overset. But it pleased GOD that it passed
underneath, or rather lifted up the ships without doing any harm; yet it
drew the anchor of one of them and carried it away, but by means of their
sails they escaped the danger, not without mortal fear of being lost. That
furious current being past, and considering the danger of remaining there,
the admiral stood for the Dragons Month, which is between the north-west
point of Trinidada and the east point of Paria; but he went not through it
at that time, but sailed along the south coast of Paria westwards,
thinking it to have been an island, and expecting to find a way out
northwards into the Caribbean sea towards Hispaniola; and though there
were many ports along that coast of Paria, he would put into none, all
that inland sea being a harbour locked in by the continent.

Being at an anchor on Sunday the 5th of August, and it being his custom
never to weigh on a Sunday, he sent the boats on shore, where they found
abundance of fruit, of the same kinds which they had seen on the other
islands; there were great numbers of trees, and marks of people who had
fled for fear of the Christians. Being unwilling to lose time, he sailed
fifteen leagues farther along that coast without going into any harbour,
lest he should not have sufficient wind to bring him out again. While at
anchor, there came out a canoe to the caravel called _El Borreo_ having
three men; and the pilot, knowing how much the admiral wished to receive
some information from these people, pretended to talk with the Indians and
let himself down into the canoe, by which means some Spaniards in the boat
took these men and sent them to the admiral, who made much of them and
sent them on shore with many gifts, at a place where there were a great
number of Indians. These, hearing the good account which the three Indians
gave them of their treatment, came off in their canoes to barter for such
things as they had, which were much the same as had been already seen in
the islands before discovered, only that they had no targets or poisoned
arrows, which are only used by the Canibals or Caribs. Their drink was a
sort of liquor as white as milk, and another somewhat blackish, tasting
like green wine, made from unripe grapes, but they could not learn what
fruit it was made from[14].

They wore cotton cloths, well wove and of several colours, about the size
of a handkerchief, some larger and some less, and what they most valued of
our articles was brass, and especially bells. These people seemed more
civilized and tractable than the natives of Hispaniola. The men covered
their nudities with one of these cloths fastened round their middle, and
had another wrapped round their heads, but the women went altogether naked
as in Trinidada.

They saw nothing of value here except some small plates of gold which the
natives were hanging from their necks; for which reason, and because the
admiral could not stay to dive into the secrets of the country, he ordered
six of these Indians to be taken, and continued his voyage to the
westwards, still believing that land of Paria which he had called the Holy
Island to be no continent. Soon afterwards, an island appeared towards the
south, and another towards the west, both high land, cultivated and well
peopled, and the inhabitants had more plates of gold about their necks
than the others, and abundance of guaninis, which are made of very low
gold. They said that this gold was procured from other islands farther to
the westwards, of which the inhabitants eat men. The women had strings of
beads about their arms, and among these were some very fine large and
small strung pearls, some of which were procured as a sample to send to
their Catholic majesties. Being asked where they got these things, they
made signs to show that in the oyster shells which were taken westwards
from that land of Paria, and beyond it towards the north these pearls were
found. Upon this good discovery, the admiral remained some time to learn
more about it, and sent the boats on shore, where all the people of the
country who had flocked together appeared very tractable and friendly,
and importuned the Christians to accompany them to a house not far off,
where they gave them to eat, and likewise a great deal of their wine. From
that house, which was believed to be the kings palace, they were carried
to another belonging to his son, where the same kindness was shewn. These
people were all in general whiter than any they had yet seen in the Indies,
with better aspects and shapes, having their hair cut short by their ears
after the Spanish fashion. From them they learnt that the country was
named Paria, and that they would gladly be in amity with the Christians.
Thus they departed from them and returned to the ships.

Holding on his course westwards, the admiral found the depth of the water
gradually to lessen, till passing through five and four fathoms, they at
length had only two and a half at the ebb. The tide differed considerably
in this place from what it had been found at Trinidada; for whereas there
it ebbed and flowed three fathoms, here, at forty-five leagues to the
westward it only rose and fell one fathom. At Trinidada both during ebb
and flow, the current always ran west, whereas here the flood made to the
west, and the ebb returned to the east. At Trinidada the sea water was
brackish, while here it was sweet, almost like river water. Perceiving
this difference, and how little water they had, the admiral durst not
proceed any farther with his own ship, which being of 100 tons burthen,
required three fathoms water; he therefore came to anchor on the coast in
a very safe port, land-locked on all sides and shaped like a horse shoe.
From this place he sent on the little caravel called _El Borreo_, or the
Post, to discover if there were any passage westwards among these supposed
islands. She returned next day, the 11th of August, having gone but a
short distance, and reported, that at the western point of that sea there
was a mouth or opening two leagues over from north to south, and within it
a round bay, having four little bays, one towards each quarter of the
Heavens, into each of which a river flowed, which occasioned the water of
that sea to be so sweet, which was yet much sweeter farther in; and they
added, that all this land which they had considered as separate islands
was one and the same continent. They had everywhere in that interior bay
four or five fathoms water, which so abounded in those weeds they had seen
on the ocean as even to hinder their passage.

Being now certain that he could get no passage to the westwards, the
admiral stood back that same day to the east, designing to pass the Boca
del Drago, or that strait which he had seen between Trinidada and the land
called Paria by the Indians. In this strait there are four small islands
to the east, next that point of Trindada which he named Cabo de Boca, or
Cape Mouth, because it was blunt; and the western cape upon the continent
he called Cabo de Lapa. The reason why he gave this strait the name of the
Dragons Mouth, was because it was very dangerous, on account of the
prodigious quantity of fresh water which continually struggles to get out
that way into the open sea, and that the strait is divided into three
boisterous channels by intervening islands. While sailing through this
strait the wind failed, and he was in great danger of being drifted by the
raging current against some sand or rock; he gave it this name likewise as
corresponding with that he had before given to the other entrance into the
gulf of Paria, the Boca del Sierpe or Serpents Mouth, where he was in no
less danger. But it pleased God, that what they most dreaded should prove
their greatest safety, for the strength of the current carried them clear
through. On Monday the 17th of August, he began to sail westwards along
the northern coast of Paria, in order to stand over afterwards for
Hispaniola, and gave thanks to God who had delivered from so many troubles
and dangers, still shewing him new countries full of peaceable people, and
abounding in wealth, more especially that which he now certainly concluded
to be the continent, because of the great extent of the gulf of Pearls and
the size of the rivers that run into it, making it all deep water, and all
the Indians of the Caribbean islands had told him there was a vast land to
the southward. Likewise, according to the authority of Esdras, the 8th
chapter of the 4th book, if the world were divided into seven equal parts,
one only is water and the rest land.

Sailing along to the westwards on the coast of Paria, the admiral fell
gradually off from it towards the N.W. being so drifted by the current
owing to the calmness of the weather, so that on Wednesday the 15th of
August, he left the _Cabo de las Conchas_, or Cape of Shells to the south,
and the island of _Margarita_ to the west, which name, signifying the isle
of Pearls, he gave to it as by divine inspiration, as close to it is the
isle of _Cabagua_ where an infinite quantity of pearls have since been
found; and he afterwards named some mountains in Hispaniola and Jamaica
the _Gold Mountains_, where the greatest quantity and largest pieces of
that metal that were ever carried into Spain were afterwards found. But to
return to his voyage, he held on his way by six islands which he called
_de las Guardas_, or the Guards, and three others more to the north called
_los Testigos_, or the Witnesses. Though they still discovered much land
in Paria to the westwards, yet the admiral says in his journal that he
could not from this time give such an account of it as he wished, because
through much watching his eyes were inflamed, and he was therefore forced
to take most of his observations from the sailors and pilots. This same
night, the sixteenth of August, the compasses, which hitherto had not
varied, did now at least a point and a half, and some of them two points,
and in this there could be no mistake, as several persons had attentively
observed the circumstance. The admiral admired much at this, and was much
grieved that he had not an opportunity of following the coast of the
continent any farther; he therefore held on his course to the N.W. till
on Monday the twentieth of August, he came to an anchor between Isla Beata
or the Blessed Island and Hispaniola, whence he sent a letter overland to
his brother the Adelantado, acquainting him with his safe arrival and his
success in having discovered the continent. The admiral was much surprised
at finding himself so far to the westwards, for although he was aware of
the power of the currents, he did not expect they would have produced so
great an effect. Therefore, that his provisions might not fail, he stood
to the eastwards for San Domingo, into which harbour he sailed on the
thirtieth of August. Here the lieutenant his brother had appointed to
build a city, on the east side of the river where it now stands, and which,
in memory of his father, named Domingo or Dominick, is now named _Santo


_An account of the Rebellion in Hispaniola, previous to the arrival of the

On his arrival at St Domingo, the admiral was almost blind with
overwatching and fatigue, and hoped there to rest himself and to find
peace among the people of the colony; but he found quite the contrary, for
all the people of the island were in disorder and rebellion. Great numbers
of those whom he had left were dead, and of those who remained above 160
individuals were ill of the French pox; besides that many were in
rebellion, with Francis Roldan at their head, whom he had left as alcalde
mayor, or chief justice of the island. And to add to the evil, the three
ships that he had dispatched from the Canary islands with supplies had not
yet arrived. Of all these matters it is requisite that we should treat in
an orderly manner, beginning from the time when the admiral had set out
from this island for Spain in March 1496, thirty months before his present

For some considerable time after his departure, matters went on pretty
quietly in hopes of his speedy return and receiving supplies and relief.
But after the first year, finding their hopes abortive, the Spanish
provisions having utterly failed, and sickness and sufferings increasing,
the people began to be much dissatisfied with their situation, and to
despair of any change for the better. When any discontented persons begin
to utter complaints, they are always sure to find some bold spirit to urge
them on, desirous to become the head of a party: Such on this occasion was
the conduct of Francis Roldan, a native of Torre de Ximena, whom the
admiral had left in great power both among the Christians and Indians, by
making him chief judge of the colony, so that he had almost as much power
and authority as himself. For this reason it is supposed that there was
not that good understanding between him and the admirals lieutenant as
ought to have been for the public good, as appeared actually to have been
the case in the sequel. And, as the admiral neither returned himself nor
sent any supplies, this Roldan began to entertain schemes of usurping the
supreme authority in the island, and designed for this purpose to murder
the admirals brothers as those who were best able to oppose his rebellion,
and actually waited an opportunity of putting this nefarious intention
into execution. It happened that the lieutenant went to a province in the
west called Xaragua, eighty leagues from Isabella, leaving Roldan in the
execution of his employment, but subordinate to Don James the admirals
second brother. Roldan was so much offended at this procedure, that while
the lieutenant was taking order how the caciques should pay their quotas
of the tribute to their Catholic majesties after the rate which had been
settled by the admiral, Roldan began underhand to draw over some of the
malcontents to his party. But that it might not prove fatal to rise too
suddenly and without some colourable pretence, Roldan took hold of the
following circumstance to favour his covert practices. The lieutenant had
caused a caravel to be built at Isabella, to have ready to send to Spain
in case of any urgent necessity, and for want of tackle and other
necessary equipments it still lay upon the bench unlaunched. Roldan
insinuated that the delay in launching this vessel was occasioned by other
reasons, and that it was necessary for the common benefit that it should
be fitted out, that some persons might be sent into Spain to represent
their sufferings and to implore relief. Thus under pretence of the public
good, Roldan pressed that the caravel might be launched, and as Don James
Columbus refused his consent on account of the want of tackle, Roldan
began more boldly to treat with some of the malcontents about launching
the caravel in spite of his refusal; telling those whom he thought would
fall into his measures, that the reason why the lieutenant and his brother
were averse to this measure was, that they were desirous to secure the
dominion of the island to themselves and to keep them in subjection, and
that there might not be any vessel to carry news of their revolt to their
Catholic majesties. And since they were sensible of the cruelty and ill
nature of the lieutenant, and the restless and laborious life he led them,
in continually building towns and forts without necessity, and as there
were now no hopes of the admiral returning with supplies, it was fit they
should seize upon that caravel to procure their own liberty and relief,
and not suffer themselves, under pretence of pay which they never received,
to be kept under the authority of a foreigner, when it was in their power
to live in ease and plenty. That by assuming the authority into their own
hands, they would have it in their power to divide the island equally
amongst them, and would be served by the Indians to their own content;
whereas the lieutenant now hold them under such rigorous authority that
they could not take to wife any Indian woman they pleased, and were forced
to keep the three vows of monachism, chastity, poverty, and abstinence,
and were not wanting in fasts and penances, imprisonments, and other
punishments, which were liberally bestowed for the smallest offences.
Wherefore, since he Roldan held the rod of justice and royal authority,
and could screen them against evil consequences on this account, he
advised them to act as he directed, in doing which they could not be found
guilty. With such pretences and arguments, proceeding from the hatred he
bore to the lieutenant, he drew over so many to his party, that one day,
after the return of the lieutenant from Xaragua to Isabella, some of the
conspirators resolved to stab him, and considered this as so easy a matter
that they had provided a halter to hang him up with after his death. The
circumstance which more immediately incensed them at this particular
period, was the imprisonment of one Barahoria, a friend to the
conspirators; and if God had not put it into the heart of the lieutenant
not to proceed to the execution of justice at this time against that
person, the conspirators had then certainly murdered him.

When Francis Roldan perceived that he had missed the opportunity of
murdering the lieutenant, and that his conspiracy was discovered, he
resolved to possess himself of the town and fort of the Conception,
thinking that from thence he might be easily able to subdue the island. It
happened conveniently for the execution of this design, that he was then
near that town, having been sent with forty men to reduce that province to
obedience, the Indians having revolted and formed a similar design of
making themselves masters of the Conception and massacring the Christians.
So that Roldan, under pretence of preventing this evil, gathered his men
at the residence of one of the caciques named Marche, intending to put his
enterprise into execution on the first opportunity. But Ballester, who
commanded in that fort, having some jealousy of Roldans intentions, kept
himself well upon his guard, and sent intelligence to the lieutenant of
the danger he was in; and the lieutenant with all speed drew together what
force he was able to muster and threw himself into the fort for its

Roldan finding his conspiracy discovered before it was ripe for execution,
came to the Conception under a safe conduct, more to make his observations
how he might best injure the lieutenant, than through any desire of coming
to an accommodation; and with more boldness and impudence than became him,
required the lieutenant to order the caravel to be launched, or else to
give him leave to do it, which he and his friends were able and willing to
do. Incensed at this presumption, the lieutenant answered that neither he
nor his friends were seamen, and know not what was proper to be done in
that case; and though they had known how to launch the caravel, yet they
could not sail in her for want of rigging and other necessaries, and
therefore it would only expose the men and the caravel to certain
destruction to pretend to send her to Spain. Upon this, conscious that
they had no knowledge of sea affairs, and that the lieutenant being a
seaman understood these matters, the conspirators differed in opinion on
this subject. After this quarrelsome discussion, Roldan went away in anger,
refusing to surrender his rod of justice to the lieutenant, or to stand
trial for his disobedient and mutinous conduct; saying that he would do
both when ordered by their Catholic majesties to whom the island belonged,
but that he could not expect to receive an impartial or fair trial from
the lieutenant, who bore him hatred and ill will, and would find means to
put him to a shameful death if he submitted, whether right or wrong. But
in the mean time, not to exceed the bounds of reasonable obedience, he was
willing to go and reside in any place that the lieutenant might point out.
Whereupon the lieutenant commanded him to go to the residence of the
cacique James Columbus[15]; but he refused this under pretence that there
were not sufficient provisions there for his men, and that he would find a
convenient place for himself.

Roldan went from thence to Isabella, where he gathered a company of
sixty-five adherents; and finding himself unable to launch the caravel, he
and his followers plundered the magazines, taking away what arms,
merchandize, and provisions they thought proper, Don James Columbus who
was there not being able to oppose them, and would even have been in
imminent peril of his life if he had not withdrawn into the fort with some
friends and servants. In the process or examinations which were afterwards
drawn up on this subject, some of the evidences deposed that Roldan
offered to submit to Don James, providing he would take his part against
his own brother: Which he refusing, and Roldan being unable to do him any
farther harm, and also fearing the succours which were coming from the
lieutenant, he and the mutineers left the town, and falling upon the
cattle that grazed in the neighbourhood, they killed such as they wanted
for food, and took away the beasts of burden to serve them on their
journey, as they resolved to go and settle in the province of Xaragua
whence the lieutenant had very lately returned. The reason for preferring
that province was because of its being the pleasantest and most plentiful
part of the island, and its inhabitants were more civilized and wiser than
any of the others, besides that the women there were handsomer and of more
pleasing manners than in any other district.

Before putting this design into execution, Roldan resolved to make a trial
of his strength, before the lieutenant could have time to increase his
power, and punish the rebels according to their demerits. For which reason
he resolved to attempt to take the town of the Conception by surprize on
the way to Xaragua, and to kill the lieutenant, and if this plan did not
succeed to besiege him there. But the lieutenant got timely notice of the
design of the mutineers, and stood upon his guard, encouraging his men
with good words and the promise of two slaves each and many gifts, if they
persisted in performing their duty. Yet he was led to believe that most of
those who were with him liked the life of insubordination and license
which was led by Roldan and his followers so well, that many of them gave
ear to his messages; and therefore Roldan conceived hopes that many of the
lieutenants people would go over to his side, which encouraged him to
undertake the enterprize upon the Conception, which did not however
succeed according to his wishes and hopes. The lieutenant was a man of
great resolution, and having the best soldiers on his side, resolved to do
that by force of arms which he could not affect by arguments and fair
means. He gathered therefore his men together and marched out of the town
to attack the rebels on the road.

Perceiving that his expectations were disappointed, and that not one man
deserted to him from the lieutenants party, Roldan was afraid to meet him
in the field, and resolved to retire in time to Xaragua as he had first
designed. Yet he talked contemptuously of the lieutenant, and stirred up
the Indians wherever he went to rebel against him, pretending that he had
deserted him because he was a person of a morose and revengeful
disposition both against the Christians and the Indians, and abominably
covetous, as was seen by the great burthens and tributes he imposed on
them; which if they submitted to he would augment every year, though
contrary to the will of their Catholic majesties, who required nothing of
their subjects but obedience, and wished to maintain them in justice,
peace, and liberty. And he declared that he and his friends and followers
would assist them to assert their rights against the lieutenant, and
declared himself the protector and deliverer of the Indians. After this
Roldan forbade the payment of the tribute which had been imposed by the
admiral, by which means it could not be gathered from those who were at
any distance from the residence of the lieutenant, and he was afraid to
collect it from those in his neighbourhood, lest he might provoke them to
join with the rebels. Notwithstanding of this concession, no sooner had
the lieutenant withdrawn from the Conception than Guarionex, the principal
cacique of that province, resolved to besiege that place with the
assistance of Roldan, and to destroy the Christians who defended it.

The better to effectuate this scheme, he called together all the caciques
of his party, and privately agreed with them that every one should kill
such of the Christians as resided in his district. For the territories in
Hispaniola were too small for any of them to maintain a great number of
people, and therefore the Christians were under the necessity of dividing
themselves into small parties of eight or ten in each liberty or district.
This gave the Indians hopes that, by surprizing them all at one and the
same time, they might have it in their power to extirpate the whole and
suffer none to escape. But having no other way of counting time or
ordering any thing else which requires counting, except by means of their
fingers, they resolved that every one should be ready to destroy the
Christians at the next full moon. Guarionex having thus concerted with his
caciques, one of the chiefest among them being desirous to acquire
reputation, and looking upon the enterprise as a very easy matter, fell on
before the time appointed, not being astronomer sufficient to know the
exact time of full moon. After a severe conflict, he was forced to fly for
assistance and protection to Guarionex, who put him to death as he
deserved, for having thus laid open the conspiracy and put the Christians
on their guard.

The rebels were not a little mortified at this miscarriage of the Indian
plot, for it was reported that it had been concerted with their privacy
and consent, and they had therefore waited to see whether Guarionex might
bring affairs to such a pass, that by joining with him they might be able
to destroy the lieutenant. But perceiving that it failed of success, they
considered themselves insecure in the province where they then were, and
therefore went away to Xaragua, still proclaiming themselves the
protectors of the Indians, whereas they were thieves in their actions and
inclinations, having no regard to God or the opinion of the world, but
following their own inordinate appetites. Every one stole or took away
what he could, and their leader Roldan more than any of the rest,
commanding every cacique to entertain him that could; and though he
forbade the Indians from paying any tribute to the lieutenant, he exacted
much more from them under pretence of acting as their defender, insomuch
that from one cacique only, named Monicaotex, he received every three
months a calabash full of pure gold, containing three marks or a pound and
a half, and to make sure of him he detained his son and nephew as hostages.
He who reads this must not wonder that we reduce the marks of gold to the
measure of a calabash, which is here done to shew that the Indians dealt
in all these cases by measure, as they never had any weights.

The Christians being thus divided, and no supplies coming from Spain, the
lieutenant and his brother were unable to keep the people in quiet who
still remained with them; for most of them were mean persons, and desirous
of leading that life of ease and licentiousness which Roldan offered for
their acceptance, by which they became so insolent that it was impossible
to keep them in order, or to punish the guilty lest they might be utterly
forsaken; neither dared they in these circumstances to attempt reducing
the rebels to order, and were necessitated, to bear patiently with their
audacious contempt of government. But it being the will of God to afford
them some comfort, it pleased him to order that the two ships should
arrive which had been dispatched about a year after the departure of the
admiral from the Indies. He, considering the nature of the country and the
dispositions of the people whom he had left in the colony, and the great
danger which might arise from his long absence, had pressed for and
obtained, not without great solicitation and difficulty that two of the
ships, out of the eight[16] which he had been ordered to fit out, might be
sent on before with supplies. The arrival of these, the supplies which
they brought of men and provisions, and the assurance that the admiral had
safely arrived in Spain, encouraged those who were with the lieutenant to
serve him more faithfully and made those who adhered to Roldan
apprehensive of being punished.

The rebels being desirous to hear news from home, and to furnish
themselves with many things of which they were in want, resolved to repair
to the harbour of St Domingo where the ships had put in, not without hopes
of being able to draw over some of the men to their party. But as the
lieutenant received notice of their design and was nearer that harbour, he
moved thither with all the force he could muster to hinder their design,
and leaving guards in the passes, he went to the port to visit the ships
and to regulate the affairs of that place. And being anxious that the
admiral might find the island in a peaceable condition and all troubles at
an end upon his return, he again made new overtures to Roldan, who was
then six leagues off with his men. For this purpose he sent Peter
Fernandez Coronel, the commander of the two newly arrived ships, whom he
chose for this employment because he was a man of worth and in authority,
and because he could certify to Roldan and the mutineers of the arival of
the admiral in Spain, the good reception he had found there, and the
willingness their majesties had expressed to support his authority in the
Indies. But the chief men among the rebels would not permit him to speak
in public, being fearful of the impression he might make upon their
deluded followers; they therefore received him on the road in a warlike
posture, and he could only speak some words in private to those who were
appointed to hear him. Thus unable to do any thing, Coronel returned to
the town, and the rebels to their quarters at Xaragua, not without
apprehensions lest Roldan and some of the ringleaders might write to their
friends at Isabella to intercede for them with the admiral on his arrival
to be restored to favour, as all their complaints were against the
lieutenant and not against the admiral himself.

The three ships which the admiral had dispatched from the Canary islands
with succours to Hispaniola, proceeded on their voyage with fair winds
till they came to those Caribbee islands which sailors first meet with on
their way to the port of St Domingo. The pilots were not then so well
acquainted with that voyage as they have since become, and knew not how to
hit that port, but were carried away by the currents so far to the
westwards that they arrived in the province of Xaragua, then occupied by
the rebels. These, understanding that the ships were out of their way and
knew nothing of the revolt, sent some of their number peaceably on board,
who pretended that they were there by the lieutenants orders, on purpose
to preserve that part of the country under obedience and to be the better
supplied with provisions. But a secret which is diffused among many is
easily divulged, so that Alonzo Sanchez de Caravajal, who was the most
skilful among the captains of these three ships, was soon aware of the
rebellion and discord, and began immediately to make overtures of peace to
Roldan, in hopes of persuading him to submit to the lieutenant. But the
familiar conversation which the rebels had previously been allowed on
board the ships had already produced such effects that his persuasions
were disregarded; Roldan having obtained private assurances from many of
those who had come fresh from Spain that they would adhere to him, and by
this accession of strength he hoped to advance himself to higher power.

Finding that the negociation was not likely to draw to a speedy
conclusion, Caravajal and the other captains thought it convenient and
proper that the people who had been brought from Spain under wages to work
in the mines and other public employments, should go by land to St Domingo;
because the winds and currents being adverse, the voyage there might
possibly occupy two or three months, during which these people would
consume a great deal of provisions, if they remained on board, and might
fall sick, and much time would be lost which they might otherwise have
devoted to the several employments for which they were sent out. Having
agreed upon this plan, it fell to the lot of John Anthony Columbus to
march with the men by land, who were forty in number; Arana was appointed
to conduct the ships from Xaragua to St. Domingo; and Caravajal remained
to endeavour to bring the rebels to an accommodation. John Anthony
Columbus set out with his people the second day after landing; but those
labourers and vagabonds who had been sent out to work deserted to the
rebels, and left him with only six or seven men who continued in their
duty. Upon this John Anthony went boldly to Roldan, to whom he represented,
that since he pretended to promote the service of their Catholic majesties,
it was not reasonable to suffer those men who had been sent out to people
and cultivate the country and who received wages for following their
callings, to remain and lose their time without performing their
engagements; that by turning them away he would make his words and actions
more conformable, and that his staying in this place evinced that he had
no inclination to forward the public service, but only to foment discord
and division with the lieutenant. But as the desertion of the labourers
was favourable to the views of Roldan and his followers, and they
considered that a crime committed by many is soonest connived at, he
pretended that he could not use violence towards these people, and that
his was a religious order which refused no man. Knowing that it was not
the part of a discreet person to expose himself to danger by pressing this
matter any farther, John Anthony determined to go on board again with
those few who still remained faithful; and that they might not be so
served by those who remained, he and Arana sailed immediately with their
two ships for St Domingo, with the wind as contrary as they feared; for
they spent many days at sea and spoiled all their provisions, and
Caravajals ship was much damaged upon certain sands, where she lost her
rudder and sprung a leak, so that they had much difficulty to bring her
into port.

[1] This prolix, diffuse, uninteresting, and confused disquisition, on the
superstitious beliefs and ceremonies of the original natives of Haiti
or Hispaniola, is so inexplicably and inexpressibly unintelligible and
absurd, partly because the original translator was unable to render
the miserable sense or nonsense of the author into English, but
chiefly owing to the innate stupidity and gross ignorance of the poor
anchorite, that the present editor was much inclined to have expunged
the whole as unsatisfactory and uninteresting: But it seemed incumbent
to give the whole of this most important voyage to the public. The
Editor however, has used the freedom to compress the scrambling detail
of the original of this section into a smaller compass; to omit the
uselessly prolix titles of its subdivisions; and, where possible, to
make the intended meaning somewhat intelligible; always carefully
retaining every material circumstance. It was formerly divided into
chapters like a regular treatise, and these are here marked by
corresponding figures. The author repeatedly acknowledges that his
account is very imperfect, which he attributes to the confused and
contradictory reports of the natives, and allows that he may even have
set down the information he collected in wrong order, and may have
omitted many circumstances for want of paper at the time of collecting

[2] Some of these are so unintelligibly related, owing to ignorance in the
translator, that it were unnecessary to insert them in this place.--E.

[3] The poor anchorite relates all these absurdities gravely, as actually
proceeding from sorcery.--E.

[4] In this paragraph, marked 20--24. the substance of _five_ prolix
chapters by _F. Roman_ is compressed.--E.

[5] Though not expressed in the text, these were probably the manico root,
of which the cassada bread is made.--E

[6] It is singular that the author should not have endeavoured to account
for the origin of these iron hatchets; probably procured in the
plundering excursions of these Carib natives of Guadaloupe from

[7] This surely means no more than that their rude looms were upright or

[8] The probable use of these swaths may have been to defend the legs in
forcing their way through the thorny brakes of the forests.--E.

[9] The author seems to have forgotten that he had only a little before
mentioned this very woman as the wife of a caceque. The absurd notion
of these women being Amazons probably proceeded from the Spaniards not
understanding the language of these islanders, who appear to have been
Caribs. The truth seems to have been that during the long absences of
their husbands in piratical and plundering excursions to the other
islands, these Carib women were driven to the necessity of providing
for their own defence.--E.

[10] There must be some inaccuracy in this place. Columbus had evidently
supposed himself farther west when he altered his course than he
really was, for the Caribbee islands were not upon the north, and
never could be in the latitude of 7 deg.; as he fell in with Trinidada he
must only have altered his course to the N.W. or the north of west.
Had he continued in a west course in 7 deg. N. he would have fallen in
with the continent of Guiana, about the mouth of the Esquivo, or
Isiquibo river: His original course in the parallel of 5 deg. N. would
have led him to Cayenne.--E.

[11] There is a want of sufficient precision in the dates of the text. It
would appear that Columbus altered his course from W. to the
northwards on Tuesday 31st July, 1498, and discovered Trinidada the
same day; and that the ships anchored at Funta de la Plaga on
Wednesday the 1st of August, or the immediately following day.--E.

[12] The country here named Paria is now called on our maps Cumana, or the
Spanish Main; but the gulf or large basin between the island of
Trinidada and the main still retains the name of the Gulf of Paria.--E.

[13] This must have been the low lying Delta of Cumana, lying between the
principal mouth of the Oronoka and the western branch.--E.

[14] The white liquor was probably the milk of the coco nut, and perhaps
the blackish vinous liquor might be the same fermented.--E.

[15] This is an obvious error which cannot be corrected, Don James
Columbus being no cacique. It is possible that one of the native
caciques may have embraced Christianity, receiving those names in
baptism, but of this the text gives no intelligence.--E.

[16] In the original translation, the number of the appointed fleet is
said to have been eighteen; but this must be a typographical error, as
with the six ships he had with himself, and these two previously
dispatched, there were just eight in all.--E.


_Continuation of the Troubles after the return, of the Admiral to
Hispaniola, to their Adjustment._

When the captains arrived at St Domingo with their ships they found the
admiral there, who had returned from his discovery of the continent. Being
fully informed of the conduct and situation of the rebels, and having
perused the process or examination which the lieutenant had drawn up
against them, by which their crimes were fully substantiated, he thought
proper to draw out a new process for the information of their majesties,
resolving at the same time to use all possible moderation in the affair,
and to use his utmost endeavours to reduce them to submission by fair
means, and without the employment of an armed force. For this reason, and
that neither they nor any others might have reason to complain of him, or
to say that he kept them in Hispaniola by force, he issued a proclamation
on the twelfth of September, granting leave to all who were inclined to
return into Spain, and promising them a free passage and provisions for
the voyage.

On the other hand the admiral received information that Roldan was coming
towards St Domingo with some of his men; wherefore he ordered Ballester
who commanded at the Conception to look well to the security of his town
and fort, and in case of Roldan coming that way, he desired him to say
that the admiral was much concerned for his sufferings, and was willing to
overlook all that had passed and to grant a general pardon to all the
malcontents; and invited Roldan to come immediately to him without,
apprehension, that by his advice all things might be duly ordered for the
good of the service, and that he would send him a safe conduct in such
form as he might require. Ballester made answer on the fourteenth
_February_[1] 1498, that he had received certain information that Riquelme
had come the day before to the town of Bonao, and that Roldan and Adrian,
the ringleaders of the mutineers, were to be there in seven or eight days,
when he might _apprehend_ them, as he did[2]. Ballaster conferred with
them pursuant to the instructions he had received, but found them
obstinate and unmannerly. Roldan said that they had not come to treat of
an accommodation, as they neither desired nor cared for peace, as he held
the admiral and his authority in his power, either to support or suppress
it at his pleasure: That they must not talk to him of any accommodation
until they had sent him all the Indian prisoners who were taken at the
siege of the Conception. He added other things, by which it plainly
appeared that he would enter into no agreement that was not much to his
advantage: And he demanded that Caravajal should be sent to treat with him,
declaring his resolution to treat with no other person, he being a man of
discretion who would listen to reason, as he had found by experience when
the three ships were at Xaragua. This answer made the admiral suspect the
fidelity of Caravajal, and not without much cause for the following

Before Caravajal was at Xaragua, the rebels had often wrote and sent
messages to their friends who were with the lieutenant, asserting that
they would submit to the admiral on his arrival, and requesting them to
intercede with and appease him. Since they promised this as soon as they
heard that two ships had come to the assistance of the lieutenant, they
had much more cause to perform it when the admiral was actually returned,
had they not been dissuaded during their long conference with Caravajal.
Had he done his duty, he ought to have kept Roldan and the other chiefs of
the rebellion as prisoners in his caravel, as they were two days on board
without any security or safe conduct asked or given. And knowing that they
were in rebellion he ought not to have permitted them to purchase from the
ships 56 swords and 60 cross-bows. As there were strong suspicions that
the men who were to land with John Anthony meant to join the rebels, he
ought not to have allowed them to land, or should have been more earnest
in his endeavours to recover them. Caravajal circulated a report that he
had come to the Indies as coadjutor to the admiral, so that nothing might
be done without him, lest the admiral might commit some offence. Roldan
had written to the admiral that he was drawing near to St Domingo by the
advice of Caravajal, to be nearer him to treat for an accommodation on his
arrival; and now that the admiral was arrived, his actions not suiting
with his letter, it was to be presumed that Caravajal had invited him
thither to the end that, if the admiral had been long of coming, or had
not come at all, he as the admirals associate and Roldan as chief judge
might have usurped the government of the island to the exclusion of the
lieutenant. When the other captains came with the caravels to St Domingo,
Caravajal came there by land under protection of a guard of rebels, the
chief of whom, Gamir, had been two days and two nights on board his ship.
Caravajal wrote to the rebels when they came to Bonao, and sent them
presents and provisions. And besides that the rebels would not treat
through any other person, they had unanimously declared that they would
have taken him for their captain, if there had been any occasion for such
a measure.

Notwithstanding of all this, considering that Caravajal was a gentleman of
prudence and discretion, who would not be guilty of doing any thing
contrary to his duty; that what had been reported of him might not be true,
and that every one of these arguments against him might admit of being
answered or explained, and the admiral being exceedingly desirous to put
an end to the distractions of the colony, he consulted with all the
principal people about him respecting Roldans letter, and what was best to
be done on this occasion. By their advice he sent Caravajal and Ballester
to treat. Roldan answered that since they had not brought with them the
Indians he had demanded, he would enter into no conference for an
accommodation. Caravajal so discreetly replied and used such convincing
arguments, that he influenced Roldan and three or four of the other
leaders to agree to wait upon the admiral and endeavour to come to an
agreement: But this being disliked by the rest, when Roldan and three
others were getting on horseback to go along with Caravajal to the admiral,
the rabble surrounded them, declaring they would not allow them to go, and
that if any agreement was to be made it should be drawn up in writing,
that all might know what was proposed to be done.

Some days afterwards Roldan, by consent of his men, wrote on the twentieth
of October to the admiral, laying the whole blame of the separation on the
lieutenant; and saying, as the admiral had not sent them any assurance or
security to come and give an account of themselves, they had resolved to
send him their demands in writing, which claimed a reward for what they
had hitherto done as will appear hereafter. Though their demands were
abundantly extravagant, yet Ballester wrote the next day to the admiral,
highly extolling Caravajals discourse; and saying that since it had failed
to dissuade those people from their wicked designs, nothing less would
prevail than granting them all they demanded, he found them so resolute.
He added that he looked upon it as next to certain that most of the people
who were with the admiral would go over to the rebels, and though he might
rely on the fidelity of the men of honour and his own servants, yet these
would not be able to withstand so great a number. The admiral already knew
this by experience, having made a muster of all who were fit to bear arms
at the time when Roldan was near St Domingo that he might be ready to
oppose the rebels if necessary; and so many of the people feigned
themselves sick or lame that only seventy appeared on the muster, of whom
there were not more than forty in whom he could confide.

Hearing of this muster and considering it a threat to proceed to
extremities against them, on the seventeenth of October 1498, Roldan and
the other chiefs of the mutineers sent a letter to the admiral subscribed
by them all, saying, That they had withdrawn themselves from the
lieutenant to save their lives, he having a design to destroy them. That
they being his lordships servants, whose coming they had anxiously waited
for, as of one who would look upon what they had done as in compliance
with their duty and as good service; that they had hindered their
adherents from doing any harm to any that belonged to his lordship, as
they might easily have done. That since he was now come and was so far
from thinking as they did, that he insisted upon taking revenge and
punishing them; therefore, that they might be at liberty to carry on their
proceedings and to do with honour what they had undertaken, they now took
leave of him and of his service. Before this letter was delivered to the
admiral, he had transmitted proposals for an accommodation with Roldan.

In his conference with Roldan, Caravajal represented the confidence which
the admiral had always reposed in him, and the good account which he had
given to their Catholic majesties of the conduct of the chief justice; and
said that the admiral had refrained from writing, lest his letter might
have been seen by some of the common people, and have occasioned prejudice
to the negociation; and therefore, he had sent a person in whom Roldan
knew that the admiral placed much confidence, so that he might regard what
was said by him and Ballester, as equally valid and binding as if under
the hand and seal of the admiral, and therefore, he might consider what
was proper to be done, and he should find him ready to comply with
whatever was reasonable.

On the 18th of October, the admiral ordered five of his ships to depart
for Spain, and sent a detailed account by them to their majesties of all
the affairs of the colony; saying, that he had detained the ships till
then under the belief that Roldan and his confederates would have gone
home in them, as they had at first given out; and that the other three
ships which he kept, were fitting out to go under the command of his
brother, to prosecute the discovery of the continent of Paria, and to form
an establishment for carrying on the fishery of pearls, a sample of which
he now sent to their majesties by Arogial.

Having received the admirals letter, Roldan seemed inclining to do all
that was required of him, but his men would not allow him to go to treat
without a safe conduct, he therefore wrote, desiring one to be sent to him
conformably to certain heads which he transmitted; and this communication
was signed by himself and the chief men of his party. The safe conduct was
accordingly sent without delay by the admiral on the 26th of October; and
Roldan soon came, but more with the design of drawing some of the people
about the admiral over to his party, than with the intention of concluding
an agreement, as appeared by the insolent nature of his proposals. He
returned therefore without any thing being concluded, saying, that he
would give his people an account of the state of matters, and should then
write the result of their deliberations; and that there might be some one
along with him having power to treat and sign to whatever might be agreed
upon, the admiral sent Salamanca, his steward, to accompany Roldan to
Bonao. After much talk among themselves, Roldan transmitted certain
articles of agreement for the admiral to sign, telling him that they
contained all that he could persuade his people to concede; and that if
his lordship thought fit to grant these terms, he should send his assent
to the Conception, for they could no longer remain at Bonao for want of
provisions, and they should wait for his answer till the ensuing Monday.
Having read their answer, and the dishonourable articles which they
proposed, and considering them as tending to bring himself, his brothers,
and even justice into contempt, the admiral would not grant them: But that
they might have no cause to complain that he was too stiff and uncomplying,
he caused a general pardon to be proclaimed and posted on the gates for
thirty days, of which the following was the purport:

"Whereas, during the absence of the admiral in Spain, certain differences
had occurred between the lieutenant with the chief justice Roldan and
others who had fled with him: Yet, notwithstanding any thing that had
happened, they might all in general, and every one in particular, safely
return to the service of their Catholic majesties, as if no differences
had ever been: And that whoever might be inclined to return into Spain
should have his passage and an order to receive his pay as was usual with
others; provided they presented themselves before the admiral within
thirty days after the date of this proclamation, to claim and receive the
benefit of this pardon; but that all who did not appear within the time
limited, should be proceeded against according to the due course of law."

The admiral sent this pardon signed by himself to Roldan by Caravajal, and
gave him in writing the reasons why he neither could nor ought to grant
the articles which had been proposed by them, and exhorting them to
consider what they were about, if they had any respect to the service of
their majesties. Caravajal went to the rebels at the Conception, who
received the admirals proffered pardon in derision, and haughtily said,
that he would soon have occasion to ask a pardon from them. All this took
place during the space of three weeks; in the course of which time, under
the pretence of wishing to apprehend a person whom Roldan desired to
execute in his character of chief justice, they besieged Ballester in the
fort of the Conception, and cut off his supply of water, thinking to force
him to surrender; but upon the arrival of Caravajal they raised the siege;
and after many alterations of the proposed articles on both sides, the
following were mutually concluded upon:

_Agreement_ between the Admiral and Roldan_[3].

1. The lord admiral shall give two good ships in good order, according to
the judgment of able seamen, to be delivered at the port of Xaragua, where
Roldan and his company shall embark and sail for Spain.

2. The admiral shall give an order for payment of the salaries due to them
all till that day, with letters of recommendation to their Catholic
majesties to cause them to be paid.

3. The admiral shall give them slaves for their services and sufferings,
and certify the gift; and some of them having women big with child, these
shall be counted instead of such slaves as they were to have, if carried
with them; and their children were to be free, and they might take them to

4. The admiral to supply all requisite provisions; but not being able to
provide bread, they are to be allowed to make it for themselves in the
country. And, lest the Carib bread might spoil, they are to have thirty
hundred weight of biscuit, or thirty sacks of corn in lieu thereof.

5. The admiral shall give a safe conduct for such persons as may come to
him to receive the orders for their pay.

6. The goods of some of those with Roldan having been seized, the admiral
shall order restitution.

7. Demands an order for payment of the value of 350 swine belonging to
Roldan, which had been seized.

8. Gives authority to Roldan to sell his goods, or to do with them as he
likes best.

9. Desiring speedy judgment in a cause respecting a horse.

10. The just demands of Salamanca to be paid.

11. Concerning some slaves, not conclusive or explained.

12. The admiral to grant a safe conduct, and to promise in the name of
their majesties, and upon his own faith and the word of a gentleman, that
neither he nor any other person shall injure them or obstruct their voyage.

"I Francis Roldan, judge, promise and engage my faith and word, for myself
and all those with me, that the articles here set down shall be faithfully
observed and fulfilled on our part, the lord admiral performing his part
thereof, and of the following articles.

1. That from this date, till the answer be brought, for which ten days are
allowed; no person, shall be admitted among us from those who are with the

2. That within fifty days after receiving the answer, we will embark and
sail for Spain.

3. That none of the slaves freely granted to us shall be taken away by

4. We shall give account to a person deputed by the admiral, of all we
carry on board, and shall deliver to him all we may have belonging to
their majesties.

In testimony whereof; I, Francis Roldan, engage for myself and company to
observe and perform the same, and have subscribed this writing at the
Conception this 16th of November 1498.

Having examined this agreement, made by Alonzo Sanchez de Caravajal and
James de Salamanca with Francis Roldan and his company, this day, being
Wednesday the 21st of November 1498; I agree to its being fully observed,
upon condition that said Francis Roldan and his followers shall not
receive into their company any other Christians of the island of any state
or condition whatsoever."

Matters being thus adjusted, Caravajal and Salamanca repaired to St
Domingo to the admiral, and at their request he subscribed his
ratification of the articles as above, and granted a new safe conduct, or
leave to all who might not incline to go to Spain with Roldan to remain,
promising them pay or the liberty of planters as they liked best, and for
others to come freely to the seat of government to arrange their affairs.
These were delivered to Roldan and his company by the Castellan Ballester
at the Conception on the 24th of November, and they went away towards
Xaragua to prepare for their departure. Though the admiral was sensible of
their villany, and much concerned that the good services which his brother
might have performed in continuing the discovery of the continent of Paria,
and the settlement of a pearl fishery, was obstructed by giving those
ships to the rebels, yet he would not give them occasion to blame him for
the continuance of disturbances by refusing them a passage. He began,
therefore, immediately to fit out the ships according to the agreement,
though the equipment was somewhat retarded by the want of stores and other
necessaries. To remedy this defect, he ordered Caravajal to go overland to
provide and dispose all things for their departure, while the ships went
about to Xaragua, resolving to go soon himself to Isabella to settle
affairs in that place, leaving his brother James in the command at St

In the end of January 1499, after his departure, the two caravels being
furnished with all necessaries, set out to take up the rebels; but a great
storm arose by the way, and they were forced to put into another port till
the end of March, and because the caravel Nina was in the worst condition
and wanted most repairs, the admiral sent orders to Peter de Arana and
Francis de Garai to repair to Xaragua with the Santa Cruz in her stead, on
board of which Caravajal went by sea instead of going by land as before
intended. He was eleven days by the way, and found the other caravel in

In the meanwhile, the caravels not coming, and most of the rebels having
no mind to embark, they took the delay as a pretence for remaining in the
island, throwing all the blame upon the admiral, as if he had not
dispatched them as soon as it was in his power. Being informed of this, he
wrote to Roldan and Adrian, endeavouring to persuade them in a friendly
manner to perform the agreement and not to relapse into rebellion. Besides
this, Caravajal, who was then at Xaragua, entered a formal protest on the
20th of April, before a notary named Francis de Garai, afterwards governor
of Panuco and Jamaica, requiring them, since the admiral had furnished
them with ships, to embark pursuant to their agreement. And because they
would not, and because the ships bottoms suffered much from the ravages of
the worms, and the men began to be in want of provisions, he ordered them
back to St Domingo on the 25th of April.

The rebels were no way concerned at this, but rather rejoiced and grew
haughty on seeing that such account was made of them, and were so far from
acknowledging the civility and attention of the admiral, that they laid it
to his charge in writing, that through his fault they were forced to stay;
that he had a mind to be revenged upon them, and had therefore delayed to
send the caravels, which were in such bad condition that it were
impossible they should go in them to Spain; and though they had been never
so good, their provisions were all expended in waiting for them, and they
could not provide more for a long while to come: For all which reasons
they were resolved to remain on the island, and to expect redress of their
grievances from the justice of their Catholic majesties. Caravajal
returned by land with this answer to St Domingo, to whom at the time of
his departure Roldan said he would willingly wait upon the admiral to
endeavour to form such an agreement as might be satisfactory to all
parties, provided he were furnished with a safe conduct. Caravajal sent
word of this to the admiral from St Domingo on the 15th of May, who
answered on the 21st, commending him for the pains he had taken, and
transmitting the required safe conduct. He sent at the same time a short
but forcible letter to Roldan, urging him to peace and submission, and to
co-operate in advancing the service of their majesties. This he afterwards
repeated more at large on the 29th of June from St Domingo; and on the
third of August, six or seven of the chief men about the admiral sent
another safe conduct to Roldan that he might come to treat with the
admiral. But the distance being great, and the admiral wishing to visit
the country, he went with two caravels to the port of Azua west from St
Domingo, to be nearer the province where the rebels were, many of whom
repaired to that port. The admiral went there about the end of August and
conferred with their chiefs, exhorting them to desist from their evil
course, and promising them all possible favour and kindness upon their
returning to obedience. This they engaged to do, provided the admiral
would grant the four following conditions:

1. That fifteen of their number should be sent into Spain by the first
ships that went there.

2. That to those who remained he should assign land and houses in
satisfaction of their pay.

3. That proclamation should be made that the whole disturbances had been
occasioned by the false suggestions of evil disposed men.

4. That the admiral should renew the appointment of Roldan as chief judge
for life.

All this being concluded and agreed to, Roldan went on shore from the
admirals caravel and sent the articles to his companions: These were so
much to their mind that they immediately accepted them, saying that if the
admiral failed in any part it would be lawful for them to compel
performance by force or any other means. The admiral was very eager to
conclude this difficult and vexations matter, which had lasted above two
years; and as he considered that his adversaries continued more obstinate
than ever, and that many of those who were with him were much inclined to
join with the mutineers, that they might go off to different parts of the
island as Roldan had done, he was induced to sign these articles, as he
had done those which were before agreed to. On the Tuesday following,
being the fifth of November, Roldan began to exercise his office, and it
being a part of his prerogative, he constituted Peter Riquelme judge of
Bonao, with power to imprison offenders in criminal cases, but that he
should transmit criminals upon life and death to be tried by himself at
the fort of the Conception.

[1] This must be an error for September.--E.

[2] They certainly were not apprehended or made prisoners; the word used
is probably a mistake of the original translator, as a conference was
the only consequence.--E.

[3] The minute technical forms of this agreement, as altogether
uninteresting, are here abridged.--E.


_Transactions in Hispaniola subsequent to the settlement of the
disturbances, until the sending of Columbus in irons to

Having adjusted matters with Roldan, the admiral appointed a captain with
some men to march about the island to restore it to peace and order, and
to reduce the Indians to pay the fixed tribute; and with orders to be
always in readiness to suppress the first appearance of mutiny among the
Christians, or any rebellion of the Indians. And having taken measures for
this purpose, he intended to go over into Spain taking his brother along
with him, considering that if he were left behind it would be difficult to
forget old quarrels. As he was preparing for this voyage, Alonso de Ojeda
who had been out upon discovery with four ships returned to the island.

Forasmuch as this sort of men sail about to make their fortunes, Ojeda on
the fifth of September put into the port which the Christians call Brazil
and the Indians Yaquimo, designing to take what he could from the Indians
and to load with wood and slaves. While thus employed he did all the harm
he could, and to shew that he was a limb of the bishop we have
mentioned[1], he endeavoured to stir up another mutiny; giving out that
Isabella was ready to die, and that as soon as she was dead there would be
nobody to support the admiral, and that he as a faithful servant of the
bishop might do what he pleased against the admiral, because of the enmity
which was between them. Upon these grounds he began to write to some who
were not very sound after the late troubles and to hold correspondence
with them. But Roldan being informed of his designs and proceedings, went
against him by the admirals orders with a party of twenty-one men to
prevent him from doing the harm he intended. Roldan came within a league
and a half of him on the twenty-ninth of September, and learnt that he was
at the house of a cacique named Haniquaba with fifteen men, employed in
making bread and biscuit for his crew. Roldan accordingly travelled the
whole of that night that he might surprize him; but Ojeda getting
intelligence of the intention of Roldan, and being too weak for resistance,
resolved to put a bold face on a bad cause and went to meet him, saying
that want of provisions had brought him hither to supply himself in the
dominions of his sovereigns without meaning to do any harm.

Ojeda gave an account of his voyage to Roldan, saying that he had been
discovering 600 leagues westwards along the coast of Paria, where he found
people who fought the Christians hand to hand, and had wounded twenty of
his men, for which reason he could make no advantage of the wealth of the
country. That he had seen deer and rabbits, the skins and paws of tigers,
and guaninis[2], all of which he shewed to Roldan in his caravels. He
farther said that he should soon repair to St Domingo to give the admiral
a full account of his voyage.

The admiral was much troubled at this time, as Peter de Arana had
signified to him that Riquelme, judge of Bonao for Roldan, the substitute
being no honester than his master, under pretence of building a house for
his herds, had made choice of a strong rock to build a kind of castle or
strength, that from thence with a few men he might do all the harm he
thought fit. Arana had forbidden this and put a stop to his proceedings;
whereupon Riquelme had instituted a legal process attested by witnesses,
which he sent to the admiral, complaining that Arana had used violence
against him and praying relief. Although the admiral well knew that
Riquelme was of an unquiet and mutinous disposition, bethought fit to
conceal his jealousy on the present occasion, and rather to connive at
this matter which might be guarded against, thinking it quite enough to
provide against the open intrusion of Ojeda.

Having parted from Roldan, Ojeda went with his ships from the port of
Yaquimo or Brazil, in February 1500, to Xaragua, where a great many of
those who had been in rebellion with Roldan still lived. He there gave out
that their Catholic majesties had appointed him and Caravajal as
councillors to the admiral, that he might not do any thing they thought
prejudicial to the service; and that he had it in command to pay every one
in ready money for their services in the island, and as the admiral was
not just enough to do that, he was ready to go along with them to St
Domingo to compel him to pay them immediately, and to turn him out of the
island dead or alive. He farther urged, that they ought not to rely on the
agreement which had been entered into, or the promises which the admiral
had made, who would keep these no longer than necessity obliged him. Upon
these promises and suggestions, many resolved to join with him in a new
rebellion, and with their assistance, he made an attack one night upon
others who opposed him, and there were some killed and wounded on both
sides. Being satisfied that Roldan, who had returned to his duty and the
admirals service, would not join them, they resolved to surprize and make
him prisoner; but having notice of their designs, he went well attended to
Xaragua to put a stop to the designs of Ojeda, or to punish him if he
found it expedient or practicable. For fear of him Ojeda retired to his
ships, and Roldan and he treated about a conference, each being afraid to
put himself into the power of the other. Perceiving that Ojeda was
unwilling to trust himself on shore, Roldan offered to treat with him on
board, and desired that the boat might be sent for that purpose, which
came accordingly well manned, and Roldan went into it with six or seven of
his followers on whom he could depend. Seizing their opportunity, Roldan
and his people fell unexpectedly on the boats crew with their swords, and
having killed some and wounded others, they made themselves masters of the
boat, and returned with it to the land. Ojeda had now only a small skiff
left, in which he ventured on shore to treat peaceably with Roldan. After
apologizing for his offences, he offered to restore some men whom he had
made prisoners, providing his boat and people were restored; and
represented that the detention of the boat would be the ruin of his ships,
as they had now no other fit for service. Roldan readily granted this
request, that there might be no reason to complain or to allege that the
expedition of Ojeda had suffered prejudice or danger through his means;
but he made him engage and give security for the performance of his
promise, that he should depart from the island by an appointed time; which
Roldan took care to ensure by keeping a strong guard on shore.

As it is a hard matter to root out cockle so that it may not sprout again,
so it is no less difficult for people who have once been habituated to
evil to forbear relapsing into their crimes. Only a few days after the
departure of Ojeda, one D. Ferdinand de Guevara, who was in disgrace with
the admiral as a seditious person, and who had taken part with Ojeda from
hatred to Roldan, because he would not permit him to take to wife the
daughter of Canua the principal queen of Xaragua, began to gather many
conspirators to secure Roldan, that he might succeed him as leader of the
mutineers. In particular, he drew over to his party one Adrian de Moxica,
a chief man in the late rebellion; and about the middle of May 1499, a
plot was laid for securing or murdering Roldan. But having intelligence of
their design, Roldan stood upon his guard, and managed matters so
dexterously, that he seized D. Ferdinand and Adrian and the other
ringleaders of the party. Roldan immediately sent notice of what he had
done to the admiral, and desired to have his instructions in what manner
he should proceed with the prisoners. The admiral made answer: That since
they had endeavoured without any cause or provocation to excite
insurrection and rebellion, and that if their crimes were overlooked every
thing would go to ruin, he should punish them according to their demerits
and as the law directed. The judge accordingly proceeded legally against
them, hanged Adrian as the chief author of the conspiracy, and banished
others. He kept D. Ferdinand in prison till the 13th of June, when he
delivered him with other prisoners to the charge of Gonsalo Blanco, to
carry them to La Vega or the Plain, where the admiral then was. This
example restored the country to quiet, and the Indians again submitted
themselves to the authority of the Christians.

Such rich gold mines were now discovered, that every man in the island
left the royal pay and went away to the mines on their own account,
applying themselves to dig for gold at their own expence, paying a third
part of all they found to the royal coffers. This prospered so well, that
a man often gathered five marks, eight ounces each, in one day, and a
single lump of gold has been taken up worth above 196 ducats[3]. The
Indians were perfectly submissive, being afraid to offend the admiral, and
many of them became Christians, merely to oblige him and conciliate his
favour. When any of their chiefs had to appear in his presence, they used
their utmost endeavours to be decently clothed. In consequence of all
these favourable circumstances, the admiral resolved to make a progress
over the island, and set out for that purpose, accompanied by his brother
the lieutenant, on the 20th of February 1499[4], and came to Isabella on
the 19th of March. From thence they set out for the Conception on the 5th
of April, and reached that place on the Tuesday following. The lieutenant
went thence for Xaragua upon Friday the 7th of June; and on the Christmas
day following, in that year 1499, he makes the following memorandum, which
I found among his papers.

"Being forsaken by all the world, the Indians and rebel Christians fell
upon me, and I was reduced to such distress, that, leaving all behind me
to avoid death, I put to sea in a little caravel. But our Lord presently
relieved me saying: "Thou man of little faith fear not I am with you." And
so he dispersed my enemies, shewing how he could fulfil his promises.
Unhappy sinner that I am, who placed all my hopes on this world[5]."

From the Conception, the admiral meant to set out on the third of February
1500 for St Domingo, to prepare for returning into Spain to give their
Catholic majesties an account of the affairs of the colony. While these
disorders were going forwards of which mention has been made, many of the
rebels, by letters which they sent from Hispaniola, and by some of their
adherents who returned into Spain, continually conveyed false information
to their majesties and the council against the admiral and his brothers;
alleging that they were cruel and tyrannical and unfit for the government
of the colony, both because they were strangers and aliens, and because
they had not formerly been in a condition to learn by experience how to
govern and command over gentlemen. They affirmed, if their highnesses did
not apply some remedy, those countries would be utterly ruined and
destroyed; or that the admiral would revolt and join in league with some
prince who would support him, for he pretended that the whole belonged to
himself, as having been discovered by his industry and labour: That the
better to compass his designs, the admiral concealed the wealth of the
country, and would not permit that the Indians should serve the Christians,
or that they should be converted to the holy faith; because by
conciliating them he hoped to draw them to his side, that he might fortify
himself against the authority of their highnesses. They proceeded in these
and such like slanders, continually importuning their majesties and
perpetually speaking ill of the admiral, and complaining that there were
several years pay due to the men, which gave occasion to all that were
about the court to rail against the admiral. At one time about fifty of
those shameless wretches brought a load of grapes and sat down in the
court of the castle and palace of the Alhambra at Granada, crying out that
their majesties and the admiral caused them to live in misery by
withholding their pay, and using many other scandalous expressions; and if
the king went out they all flocked round him, calling _pay! pay!_

My brother and I were then at Granada as pages to the queen; and when we
chanced to pass by these people they would cry out in a hideous manner,
making the sign of the cross, "There go the sons of the admiral of the
Morescoes; he that has found out false and deceitful countries to be the
ruin and burial place of the Spanish gentry." Adding many more such
insolencies, which made us very cautious of appearing before them. By
continual complaints and constantly importuning the favourites at court,
it was at length determined to send a judge to Hispaniola to inquire into
all these affairs; who was authorized, if he found the admiral guilty of
what had been laid to his charge, to send him home to Spain and to remain
himself as governor of the colony. The person chosen for this purpose was
Francis de Bovadilla, a poor knight of the order of Calatrava, who besides
his full and ample commission was supplied with blank directed letters
subscribed by their majesties, which he was empowered to direct to such
persons as he might think fit in Hispaniola, commanding them to be aiding
and assisting to him in the discharge of his commission.

Thus furnished with ample powers, Bovadilla arrived at St Domingo in the
latter end of August 1500, at which time the admiral happened to be at the
Conception settling the affairs of that province, in which his brother had
been assaulted by the rebels, and where the Indians were more numerous and
of quicker capacity and more enlarged understandings than in any other
part of the island.

Finding no person at his arrival who could in any way keep him in awe,
Bovadilla immediately took possession of the admirals palace, and
appropriated every thing he found there to his own use as if it had fallen
to him by inheritance. He gathered together all whom he could find who had
been in rebellion, and many others who hated the admiral and his brothers,
and immediately declared himself governor of the colony; and to secure the
affections of the people, he proclaimed a general freedom for twenty years.
He then summoned the admiral to appear before him without delay, as
necessary for their majesties service; and to justify this measure he sent
on the seventh of September the royal letter, of which the following is
the substance, by F. John de la Sera, to the admiral.

"_To D. Christopher Columbus, our Admiral of the Ocean_."

"We have ordered the commander Francis de Bovadilla, the bearer, to
aquaint you with certain things from us; wherefore we command you to give
him entire credit, and to obey him."

"Given at Madrid, the twenty-first of May 1500.

"_I the King. I the Queen_."

"By command of their majesties. _Mich. Perez de Almazan_."

On seeing the letter of their Catholic majesties, the admiral came
immediately to St Domingo to Bovadilla, at the beginning of October 1500.
And Bovadilla being eager to assume the government, without any delay or
legal information, immediately sent the admiral and his brother James as
prisoners in irons on board ship under a strong guard, forbidding all
persons under severe penalties to hold any intercourse with them by word
or letter. After this, _by Abington law_[6], he drew up examinations
against them, admitting their enemies the rebels as witnesses in the
process, and publickly favouring all who came forwards to speak evil of
them. These gave in such villanous and incoherent depositions, that he
must have been blind indeed who did not plainly perceive their falsehood
and malice. For this reason, their Catholic majesties would not admit of
the truth of the charges, and afterwards cleared the admiral, sore
repenting that they had sent such a man as Bovadilla in that employment.

He ruined the island and squandered the royal revenues, that all men might
be his friends; saying that their majesties required no more than the
honour of the dominion, and that all the profits should belong to their
subjects. Yet he neglected not his own share, but combining with all the
richest and most powerful men of the colony, he gave them Indians to serve
them on condition of having a share in all the acquisitions which were
made by their means. He sold by auction all the possessions and rights
which the admiral had acquired for the crown; saying that their majesties
were not farmers or labourers, and only kept these for the benefit of
their subjects; and while selling all things under these pretences, he
took care on the other hand that every thing should be purchased by his
own confederates at a third of the value. Besides all this, he made no
other use of his judicial power than to enrich himself and to gain over
the affections of the people; being still afraid that the lieutenant, who
had not yet come from Xaragua, might put a stop to his proceedings, and
might endeavour to set the admiral at liberty by force of arms. But in
this the brothers conducted themselves with the utmost prudence and
propriety; for the admiral sent to the lieutenant, desiring him to come
peaceably to Bovadilla, that the island might not be thrown into confusion
and civil war; as, when they arrived in Spain, they should the more easily
obtain satisfaction for the wrongs that had been done them, and secure the
punishment of Bovadilla for his senseless and injurious conduct.

Yet did not all this divert Bovadilla from putting the admiral and his
brother in irons; and he allowed the baser people to rail against them in
public, blowing horns in triumph about the harbour where they were shipped,
besides placarding them in many scandalous libels pasted up at the corners
of the streets. When informed that one James Ortir, who was governor of
the hospital, had written a malicious libel against the admiral, which he
read publickly in the market-place, so far from punishing his audacity, he
seemed to be much gratified by it, which encouraged others to do the same
thing. And perhaps from fear lest the admiral should swim on shore, he
gave strict injunctions to Andrew Martin, the commander of the ship to
guard the admiral with the utmost care, and to deliver him in irons to the
bishop D. John de Fonseca, by whose advice and direction it was believed
he had thus proceeded. Yet when at sea, the master being sensible of the
unworthy proceedings of Bovadilla, would have taken off the irons from the
admiral; but this he would not permit, saying, that since their majesties
had commanded him to perform whatsoever Bovadilla might order in their
names, and that he had been put in irons in virtue of their authority and
commission, he would not be freed from them unless by the express command
of their highnesses. He also declared his determination to keep these
fetters as a memorial of the reward he had received for his many services.
I afterwards saw these irons constantly in his chamber, and he gave orders
that they should be buried along with his body.

Being arrived at Cadiz, the admiral wrote to their majesties on the 20th
of November 1500, acquainting them of his arrival; and they, understanding
the condition in which he was, gave immediate orders that he should be
released, and sent him very gracious letters expressive of their sorrow
for his sufferings and the unworthy behaviour of Bovadilla
towards him. They likewise ordered him up to court, engaging that care
should be taken about his affairs, and that he should be speedily
dispatched with full restitution of his honour. Yet I cannot remove blame
from their Catholic majesties for employing that base and ignorant person;
for had he known the duty of his office, the admiral would have been glad
of his coming, for he had desired in his letters to Spain that some
impartial person might be sent out to take a true information of the
perversity of the colonists, and to take cognizance of their crimes; he
being unwilling to use that severity which another would have done,
because the original of these tumults, and rebellions had been raised
against the lieutenant his brother. But although it might be urged that
their majesties ought not to have sent out Bovadilla with so much power
and so many letters, without limiting his commission; yet it is not to be
wondered at, as the complaints which had been sent against the admiral
were numerous and heavy, though false and malicious.

As soon as their majesties learnt the arrival of the admiral at Cadiz and
of his being in irons, they sent orders on the 12th of December to set him
at liberty, and wrote for him to repair to Granada, where he was most
favourably received with the most gracious discourse. They assured him
that his imprisonment had not been by their desire or command; that they
were much offended at it, and would take care that full satisfaction
should be given to him, and those who were in fault severely punished.
Having thus graciously received him, they gave orders that his business
should be immediately gone into; and the result was, that a governor
should be sent to Hispaniola, who was to restore all that had been taken
from the admiral and his brother, and to reinstate them in their rights.
And that the admiral should be allowed all the profits and emoluments
belonging to him, according to the articles of agreement which had been
originally granted; and that the rebels should be proceeded against and
punished according to their offences. Nicholas de Obando, commandary of
laws, was the person appointed to this high office. He was a wise and
judicious man; but, as afterwards appeared, extremely partial, crafty in
concealing his passions, giving credit to his own surmises and the false
insinuations of malicious people. He therefore acted cruelly and
revengefully in the conduct of his government, as particularly appears by
the death of the 80 caciques of the island who have been before

As their majesties were pleased to appoint Obando to the government of
Hispaniola, so they thought it proper to send the admiral upon some voyage
of farther discovery which might redound to his and their advantage, and
might keep him employed till Obando could pacify and reduce the island to
order and subjection; as they did not _then_ incline to keep him long out
of his rights without just cause, the informations transmitted by
Bovadilla now plainly appearing to be full of malice and falsehood, and
containing nothing which could justify the forfeiture of his rights. But
the execution of this design being attended with delay, it being now the
month of October 1500, and evil disposed men still endeavouring to
insinuate that new informations might be expected on the subject, the
admiral applied personally to their majesties, entreating them to defend
him against his enemies, and afterwards repeated the same by letter. When
the admiral was ready to proceed upon his voyage, they promised him their
protection and favour, by letter to the following effect:

"Be assured that your imprisonment was very displeasing to us, of which
you and all men must have been sensible, seeing that we applied the proper
remedies as soon as we heard of the circumstance. You likewise know with
how much honour and respect we have always commanded you to be treated,
which we now direct shall be contined towards you, and that you receive
all worthy and noble usage. We promise that the privileges and
prerogatives by us granted you shall be preserved in the most ample manner,
which you and your children shall enjoy without contradiction or
disparagement, as is reasonably due. And, if requisite to ratify them of
new, we will order it to be done, and will take care that your son be put
into possession of the whole; for we desire to honour and favour you even
in greater matters. And be assured that we shall take due care of your
sons and brothers after your departure; for the employment shall be given
to your son as has been said. We pray you therefore not to delay your

"Given at Valentia de la Torre, 14th March 1502."

The occasion of this letter was, that the admiral had resolved to trouble
himself no farther with the affairs of the Indies, but to transfer his
employment upon my brother; for he said justly, that if the services he
had already performed were not sufficient to have those villanous people
punished who had rebelled against his lawful authority, all that he could
do for the future would never obtain justice. He had already performed the
grand object of his undertaking before he set out to discover the Indies;
which was to shew that there were islands and a continent to the westwards,
that the way was easy and navigable, the advantages great and manifest,
and the people gentle and unwarlike. As he had verified all this
personally, there only now remained for their highnesses to pursue what
was begun, by sending people to discover the secrets of these countries;
for now the way was opened up and made plain, and any one might follow out
the course, as some had done already who improperly arrogated the title of
discoverers; not considering that they had not discovered any new country,
but that all which they had done or could do in future was merely to
pursue and extend the first discovery, the admiral having already shewn
them the route to the islands and to the province of Paria, which was the
first discovered land of the new continent. Yet, having always a great
desire to serve their majesties, more especially the queen, he consented
to return to his ships and to undertake the proposed voyage to be now
related, for he was convinced that great wealth would be discovered, as he
formerly had written to their majesties in 1499. All of which has since
been verified by the discovery of Mexico and Peru, though at that time, as
generally happens to the conjectures of most men, nobody would give credit
to his assertions.

Having been well dispatched by their majesties, the admiral set out from
Granada for Seville in the year 1501; and so earnestly solicited the
fitting out of his squadron, that in a short time he rigged and
provisioned four vessels, the largest of 70 tons and the smallest 50, with
a complement of 140 men and boys, of whom I was one.

[1] Certainly alluding to D. Juan de Fonseca, archdeacon of Castile, and
bishop of Burgos, formerly mentioned as obstructing the equipment of
the admirals ship, and afterwards as the principal mover of the
injurious treatment experienced by the admiral.--E.

[2] This article is nowhere explained, but was said on a former occasion
to be made of very low or impure gold.--E.

[3] This reported produce is prodigious, and must have only been temporary
or accidental. Forty ounces of gold a-day, allowing but L.4 the ounce,
as perhaps inferior to standard, amount to L.160. The piece of gold,
mentioned in the text was worth about L.88. These mines, once so rich,
have been long abandoned. The original natives of Hispaniola died out,
and negroes have been found unequal to the hardships of mining.
Hispaniola long remained a mere depot of adventurers, whence the great
conquests of Mexico and Peru were supplied with men and arms.--E.

[4] The original, or rather the old translation, is most miserably
defective and confused in its dates about this period, bandying 1499
and 1500 backwards and forwards most ridiculously. This error it has
been anxiously endeavoured to correct in the present version.--E.

[5] This is a most imperfect account of an insurrection which appears to
have broke out against the lieutenant, who seems to have been very
unfit for his situation.--E.

[6] This obviously means trial after condemnation, a procedure which has
been long proverbial in Scotland under the name of Jedwarth justice.
Some similar expression relative to Spain must have been used in the
original, which the translator chose to express by an English
proverbial saying of the same import.--E.

[7] Upon a former occasion, the author had stated that there were four
principal caciques in Hispaniola, each of whom commanded over seventy
or eighty inferior chiefs, so that there may have been 300 caciques
originally. The particulars of the death or massacre of the eighty
caciques here mentioned are nowhere mentioned by our author; who,
confining himself to the actions of his illustrious father, says very
little more about the affairs of Hispaniola.--E.


_Account of the Fourth Voyage of Columbus to the West Indies_.

We set sail from Cadiz on Monday the 9th of May 1502, and departed from St
Catharines on the 11th of the same month for Arzilla, intending to relieve
the Portuguese in that garrison who were reported to be in great distress;
but when we came there the Moors had raised the siege. The admiral sent on
shore his brother D. Bartholomew and me, along with the other captains of
our ships to visit the governor, who had been wounded by the Moors in an
assault. He returned thanks to the admiral for the visit and his offers of
assistance, sending several gentlemen on board for this purpose, among
whom were some relations of Donna Philippa Moniz, the admirals former
Portuguese wife. We sailed from Arzilla on the same day, and arriving at
Gran Canaria on the 20th of May, casting anchor among the little islands,
and on the 24th went over to Maspalomas in the same island to take in wood
and water for our voyage, and set out next night for the Indies. It
pleased God to give us a fair wind, insomuch that on Wednesday the 15th of
June, without handing our sails the whole way, we arrived at the island of
Matinino. There, according to the custom of those who sail from Spain for
the Indies, the admiral took in a fresh supply of wood and water, and
ordered the men to wash their linens, staying till the 18th, when we stood
to the westwards and came to Dominica ten leagues distant from Matinino[1].
So continuing our course among the Caribbee islands we came to Santa Cruz,
and on the 24th of June we ran along the south side of the island of St
John[2]; and thence proceeded for St Domingo, where the admiral proposed
to have exchanged one of his ships for another. The vessel he wished to
part with was a bad sailer, and besides could not carry sail without
running its lee gunwale almost under water, and was a great hindrance to
the voyage. His original design was to have gone directly to the coast of
Paria, and to keep along the shore to the westwards till he should
discover the straits, which he concluded must be somewhere about Veragua
or Nombre de Dios. But on account of the fault of that ship he was forced
to repair to St Domingo in hope of exchanging her for a better.

That the commandary Lores[3], who had been sent out by their majesties to
call Bovadilla to account for his mal-administration, might not be
surprised at our unexpected arrival, the admiral sent on the 29th of June,
being then near the port, Peter de Terreros, captain of one of the ships,
with a message to him signifying the necessity there was for exchanging
one of the ships. For which reason, and because he apprehended the
approach of a great storm, he requested permission to secure his squadron
in the harbour; and he advised him not to allow the fleet then preparing
to sail for Spain to quit the port for eight days to come, as it would
otherwise be in great danger. But the governor would not permit the
admiral to come into the harbour; neither did he delay the sailing of the
fleet which was bound for Spain. That fleet consisted of 18 sail, and was
to carry Bovadilla who had imprisoned the admiral and his brothers, and
Francis Roldan with all those who had been in rebellion and done so much
harm; all of whom it pleased God so to infatuate that they would not
listen to the admirals good advice. I am satisfied that the hand of God
was in this; for had they arrived in Spain they would never have been
punished as their crimes deserved, as they enjoyed the protection of the
bishop Fonseca. This impunity was prevented by their setting out from St
Domingo for Spain, as no sooner were they come to the east point of
Hispaniola than there arose a terrible storm; the admiral of the fleet
went to the bottom, and in her perished Bovadilla with most of the rebels,
and so great was the havock among the rest, that only three or four
vessels escaped of the whole eighteen.

This event happened on Thursday the 30th of June; when the admiral, who
had foreseen the storm and had been refused admittance into the port, drew
up as close to the land as he could to shelter himself from its effects.
The people on board his vessels were exceedingly dissatisfied at being
denied that shelter which would have been given to strangers, much more to
them who were of the same nation, and they feared they might be so served
if any misfortune should afterwards befal them in the prosecution of their
voyage. The admiral was greatly concerned on the same account, and was yet
more vexed to experience such base ingratitude in a country which he had
given to the honour and benefit of Spain, where he was thus refused
shelter for his life. Yet by his prudence and judgment he secured his
ships for that day. But next night the tempest increasing, and the night
being extremely dark, three of the ships broke from their anchors and
drifted from him. All were in imminent danger, and the people on board of
each concluded that all the others were certainly lost. Those in the Santo
suffered greatly by endeavouring to save their boat, which had been ashore
with their captain Terreros, and now dragged astern where it overset, and
they were obliged to cast it loose to save themselves. The caravel Bermuda
was in infinite danger; for running out to sea it was almost covered and
overwhelmed by the waves, by which it appeared what good reason the
admiral had to endeavour to exchange that vessel, which all men concluded
was saved, under God, by the wisdom and resolution of the admirals brother,
than whom there was not at that time a more expert sailor. After all had
suffered extremely, except the admiral who rode out the gale, it pleased
God that they all met again on Sunday the 3d of July in the port of Azna
on the south side of Hispaniola, where every one gave an account of his
misfortunes. It appeared that Bartholomew Columbus had weathered this
great storm by standing out to sea like an able sailor; while the admiral
had avoided all danger by hugging close to the land like a wise astronomer,
who knew whence the peril was to come.

His enemies might well blame him, by saying that he had raised this storm
by magic art to be revenged on Bovadilla and the rest of his enemies who
perished with him, since none of his own four ships were lost; whereas of
the eighteen which had set out at the same time with Bovadilla, the
_Ajuga_, or Needle, only held on its course for Spain, where it arrived in
safety though the worst of the whole fleet, the other three that escaped
having returned to St Domingo in a shattered and distressed condition. In
the Ajuga there were 4000 pesos of gold belonging to the admiral, each
peso being worth eight shillings.

The admiral gave his men a breathing time in the port of Azua, to recover
from the fatigues which they had encountered in the storm; and as it is
one of the usual diversions of seamen to fish when they have nothing else
to do, I shall make mention of two sorts of fish in particular which I
remember to have seen taken at that place, one of which was pleasant, and
the other wonderful. The first was a fish called _Saavina_, as big as half
an ordinary bull, which lay asleep on the surface of the water, and was
struck by a harpoon from the boat of the ship Biscaina; being held fast by
a rope so that it could not break loose, it drew the boat after it with
the swiftness of an arrow in various directions, so that those who were in
the ship, seeing the boat scud about at a strange rate without knowing the
cause, could not imagine how it could do so without the help of oars. At
length it sunk, and being drawn to the ships side was hoisted on deck by
the tackle. The other fish is called Manati by the Indians, and there is
nothing of the kind seen in Europe. It is about as large as an ordinary
calf, nothing differing from it in the colour and taste of the flesh,
except that it is perhaps better and fatter. Those who affirm that there
are all sorts of creatures to be found in the sea, will have it that these
fishes are real calves, since they have nothing within them resembling a
fish, and feed only on the grass which they find along the banks[4].

Having refreshed his men and repaired his ships, the admiral went from
Azua to the port of Brazil called Yaquimo by the Indians, to shun another
storm of which he observed the approach. From thence he sailed again on
the 14th of July, and was so becalmed that instead of holding on his
course he was carried away by the current to certain small sandy islands
near Jamaica; not finding any springs in these islands, the people had to
dig pits or wells in the sand whence they procured water; on account of
which circumstance the admiral named them _Islas de los Poros_, or the
Well Islands. Then sailing southwards[5] for the continent, we came to
certain islands, where we went on shore on the biggest only called Guanaia;
whence those who make sea charts took occasion to call all those the
islands of Guanaia, which are almost twelve leagues from that part of the
continent now called the province of Honduras, but which the admiral then
named Cape Casinas. These fabricators of charts often commit vast mistakes
from ignorance; thus these same islands and that part of the continent
nearest them are twice inserted in their charts, as if they were different
countries; and though cape _Garcias a Dios_, and that they call Cape[6]
----. The occasion of this mistake was, that after the admiral had
discovered these countries, one John Diaz de Solis, from whom the Rio de
Plata was named Rio de Solis because he was there killed by the Indians,
and one Vincent Yanez Pinzon, who commanded a ship in the first voyage
when the admiral discovered the Indies, set out together on a voyage of
discovery in the year 1508, designing to sail along that coast which the
admiral discovered in his voyage from Veragua westwards; and following
almost the same track which he had done, they put into the port of Cariari
and passed by Cape Garcias a Dios as far as Cape Casinas, which they
called Cape Honduras, and they named the before mentioned islands the
Guanaias, giving the name of the biggest to them all. Thence they
proceeded farther on without acknowledging that the admiral had been in
those parts, that the discovery might be attributed to them, and that it
might be believed they had found out extensive countries; although Peter
de Ledesma, one of their pilots who had been with the admiral in his
voyage to Veragua, told them that he knew the country, having been there
with the admiral, and from whom I afterwards learnt these circumstances.
But, independent of this authority, the nature of the charts plainly
demonstrates that they have laid the same thing down twice, as the island
is of the same shape and at the same distance; they having brought a true
draught of the country, only saying that it lay beyond that which the
admiral had before discovered. Hence the same country is twice delineated
on the same chart, as time will make apparent when it shall please God
that this coast shall be better known; for they will then find but one
country of that sort. But to return to our voyage; the admiral ordered his
brother Bartholomew to land with two boats on the island of Guanaia, where
he found people like those of the other islands, except that their
foreheads were not so high. They also saw abundance of pine trees, and
found pieces of lapis calaminaris, such as is used for mixing with copper
in the process for making brass; and which some of the seamen mistaking
for gold concealed for a long time.

While the admirals brother was on shore, using his endeavours to learn the
nature of the country, it so happened that a canoe eight feet wide and as
long as a galley, made all of one piece, and shaped like those which were
common among the islands, put in there. It was loaded with commodities
brought from the westwards, and bound towards New Spain[7]. In the middle
of this canoe there was an awning made of palm-tree leaves, not unlike
those of the Venetian gondolas, which kept all underneath so close, that
neither rain nor sea water could penetrate to wet the goods. Under this
awning were the women and children, and all the commodities; and though
there were twenty-five men in the canoe, they had not the courage to
defend themselves against the people in our boats who pursued them. The
canoe being thus taken without any opposition, was brought along side of
the admiral, who blessed GOD for having given him samples of the
commodities of that country, without exposing his men to any danger. He
therefore ordered such things to be taken as he judged most sightly and
valuable; such as quilts, cotton shirts without sleeves, curiously wrought
and dyed of several colours; some small cloths for covering the nudities,
large sheets, in which the women in the canoe wrapped themselves, as the
Moorish women in Granada used to do, long wooden swords, having a channel
on each side where the edge should be, in which many pieces of sharp-edged
flints were fixed by means of thread and a tenacious bituminous matter;
these swords could cut naked men as well as if they had been made of steel;
hatchets for cutting wood made of good copper, and resembling the stone
hatchets usual among the other islanders, also bells and plates of the
same metal, and crucibles for melting it. For provisions, they had such
roots and grains as they eat in Hispaniola, and a sort of liquor made of
maize like English beer. They likewise had abundance of cacao nuts, which
serve as money in New Spain, and on which they seemed to place great value;
for when these were brought on board along with their other goods, I
observed that when any of them fell, they all anxiously stooped to gather
them up as if they had been of great importance.

These poor creatures seemed to be in a manner out of their wits, on being
brought on board as prisoners among a people so strange and fierce as our
men seemed to them; but so prevalent is avarice in man, that we ought not
to wonder that it should so prevail over the apprehensions of these
Indians, as to make them so anxious about their cacao-nut money, even in
their present situation[8]. The modesty of their demeanour was admirable;
for in getting them from the canoe into the ship, it happened that some of
their clouts were removed, when they would clap their hands before them to
supply the deficiency; and the women wrapped themselves up like the Moors
of Granada, to avoid observation. The admiral restored their canoe, and
gave them some things in exchange for those of which they had been
deprived. And he only detained one old man named Giumbe, who seemed the
chief, and the most intelligent person among them, that from him something
might be learnt concerning the country, and that he might draw others of
the natives to converse and traffic with the Christians. This he did very
readily and faithfully all the while he sailed with us, where his language
was understood; and as a reward for his service, when we came to where a
different language was spoken, which was before we reached Cape Garcias a
Dios, the admiral gave him some things, and sent him home quite satisfied.

Though the admiral had heard so much from those in the canoe concerning
the great wealth, politeness, and ingenuity of the people westwards,
towards what is now called New Spain; yet, considering that as these
countries lay to leewards, he could sail thither whenever he might think
fit from Cuba, he would not go that way at this time, but persisted in his
design of endeavouring to discover a strait or passage across the
continent, by which he might clear a way into what we now call the South
Sea, in order to arrive at those countries which produce spice. He
therefore determined to sail eastwards towards Veragua and Nombre de Dios,
where he imagined that strait would be found, _as in effect it was_; yet
was he deceived in this matter, as instead of an isthmus, he expected to
discover a narrow gulf or inlet, communicating between the two seas. This
mistake might proceed from the similarity of the two names; for when the
natives said that the strait which he so anxiously desired to find was
towards Veragua and Nombre de Dios, it might be understood either of land
or water, and he understood it in the most usual sense, and that which he
most earnestly desired[9]. And though that strait is actually land, yet it
is the means of acquiring the dominion of both seas, and by which such
enormous riches have been discovered and conveyed to Spain; for it was
GODS will that this vast concern should be so found out, as from this
canoe the admiral received the first information respecting New Spain.

There being nothing worthy of notice in the islands of Guanaia, he sailed
thence to a point which he called _Casinas_, in order to find out the
strait before mentioned. It received this name on account of its abounding
in the trees which produce a species of fruit known by the name _casinas_
to the natives of Hispaniola; which fruit is rough like a spongy bone, and
good to eat, especially when boiled. As there was nothing worthy of notice
in that part of the country, the admiral would not lose time in examining
a large bay which is in that place, but held on his course eastwards,
along that coast which reaches to Cape Garcias a Dios, which is all very
low and open. The people nearest to Cape Casinas, or Honduras, wear those
painted shirts or jackets before mentioned, and clouts before their
nudities; and likewise use certain coats of mail made of cotton, strong
enough to defend them against their native weapons, and even to ward off
the stroke of some of ours.

The people farther to the eastwards about Cape Garcias a Dios are almost
black, of a fierce aspect, go stark naked, are very savage, and according
to Giumbe eat mans flesh and raw fish. They have their ears bored with
holes, large enough to admit a hens egg, owing to which circumstance the
admiral called this coast _De las Orejas_, or the Land of Ears[10]. On
Sunday the 14th of August, Bartholomew Columbus went ashore in the morning,
with the captains and many of the men to hear mass; and on the Wednesday
following, when the boats went ashore to take formal possession of the
country, above 100 of the natives ran down to the shore loaded with
provisions; and as soon as the lieutenant landed, came before him, and
suddenly drew back without speaking a word. He ordered them to be
presented with horse-bells, beads, and other trinkets, and endeavoured to
make inquiry concerning the country by means of Giumbe; but he having been
only a short time with us, did not understand our language, and by reason
of his distance from Hispaniola, could not comprehend those of our people
who had learnt the language of that island; neither did he understand
those Indians. But they, being much pleased with what had been given them,
above 200 of them came next day to the shore, loaded with various sorts of
provisions; such as poultry much better than ours, geese, roasted fish,
red and white beans like kidney beans, and other things like the
productions of Hispaniola. This country, though low, was verdant and very
beautiful, producing abundance of pines and oaks, palm trees of seven
different kinds, mirabolans, of the kind called hobi in Hispaniola, and
almost all the kinds of provisions produced in that island were found here.
There were likewise abundance of deer, leopards, and other quadrupeds, and
all sorts of fish that are found either at the islands or in Spain.

The people of this country are much like those of the islands, but their
foreheads are not so high, neither did they appear to have any religion.
There are several languages or dialects among them, and for the most part
they go naked, except the clout before mentioned, though some of them wore
a kind of short jerkin without sleeves, reaching to the navel. Their arms
and bodies have figures wrought upon them with fire, which gave them an
odd appearance; some having lions or deer, and others castles, with towers
or other strange figures painted on their bodies. Instead of caps, the
better sort wore red and white cotton cloths on their heads, and some had
locks of hair hanging from their foreheads. When they mean to be very fine
upon a day of festival, they colour their faces, some black and some red,
and others draw streaks of several colours; some paint their noses, others
black their eyes, and thus adorning, themselves as they think to look
beautiful, they look in truth like devils.

The admiral sailed along the coast de las Orejas, or the Mosquito shore,
eastwards to Cape Garcias a Dios, or Thanks be to GOD, so called on
account of the difficulty of getting there, having laboured seventy days
to get only sixty leagues to the eastwards of Cape Casinas or Honduras.
This was occasioned by opposing currents and contrary winds, so that we
had continually to tack out to sea and stand in again, sometimes gaining,
and sometimes losing ground, according as the wind happened to be scant or
large when we put about. And had not the coast afforded such good
anchoring we had been much longer upon it; but being free from shoals or
rocks, and having always two fathoms of water at half a league from the
shore, and two more at every league farther distant, we had always the
convenience of anchoring every night when there was little wind. When on
the 14th of September we reached the cape, and found the land turned off
to the southwards, so that we could conveniently continue our voyage with
those _levanters_ or east winds that so continually prevailed, we all gave
thanks to GOD for the happy change, for which reason the admiral gave it
the name of Cape Garcias a Dios. A little beyond that cape we passed by
some dangerous sands, that ran out to sea as far as the eye could reach.

It being requisite to take in wood and water, the boats were sent on the
16th of September to a river that seemed deep and to have a good entrance,
but the coming out proved disastrous, for the wind freshening from the sea,
and the waves running high against the current of the river, so distressed
the boats, that one of them was lost with all the men in it; for which the
admiral named it _Rio de la Disgratia_, or the River of Disaster. In this
river, and about it, there grew canes as thick as a mans leg. Still
running southwards, we came on Sunday the 25th of September to anchor near
a small island called Quiriviri, and near a town on the continent named
Cariari, where were the best people, country, and situation we had yet
seen, as well because it was high and full of rivers, and thickly wooded
with forests of palms, mirabolans, and other trees. For this reason, the
admiral named this island Hucite. It is a small league from the town named
Cariari by the Indians, which is situated near a large river, whither a
great number of people resorted from the adjacent parts; some with bows
and arrows, others armed with staves of palm tree, as black as coal and as
hard as horn, pointed with fish bone, and others with clubs, and they came
in a body as if they meant to defend their country. The men had their hair
braided, and wound round their heads, and the women wore their hair short
like our men. But perceiving that we had no hostile intentions, they were
very desirous to barter their articles for ours; theirs were arms, cotton
jerkins, and large pieces of cotton cloth like sheets, and guaninis which
are made of pale gold, and worn about their necks like our relics. With
these things they swam to our boats, for none of our people went on shore
that day or the next. The admiral would not allow any of their things to
be taken, lest we might be considered as covetous, but ordered some of our
articles to be given to them. The less we appeared to value the exchange,
the more eager were they to bring it about, and made many signs to that
effect from the shore. At last, perceiving that none of our people would
go on shore, they took all the things which had been given them, without
reserving the smallest article, and tying them up in a bundle, left them
on that part of the beach where our people first landed, and where our
people found them on the Wednesday following when they went on shore.

Believing that the Christians did not confide in them, the Indians sent an
ancient man of an awful presence, bearing a flag upon a staff, and
accompanied by two girls of about eight and fourteen years of ages and
putting these into the boat as if giving hostages, he made signs for our
people to land. Upon their request, our people went ashore to take in
water, the Indians taking great care to avoid doing any thing which might
have alarmed the Christians; and when they saw our men about to return to
the ships, the Indians made signs to take the girls along with them with
their guaninis about their necks, and at the request of the old man, they
complied and carried them on board. In this conduct these people shewed
themselves of a more friendly disposition than any we had yet met with;
and though the girls evinced uncommon undauntedness in trusting themselves
unconcernedly among strangers, they always behaved themselves with great
modesty and sweetness. The admiral treated them well, clothed and fed them,
and sent them again on shore, where they were received by the old man and
about fifty others, with great signs of satisfaction and content. On the
boats going on shore again the same day, they found the same people with
the girls, who insisted upon restoring all that had been given them by the

Next day, the admirals brother went on shore to endeavour to learn
something of these people, when two of the chiefs came to the boat, and
taking him by the arms made him sit down on the grass between them; and as,
when he was about to ask them questions, he ordered his secretary to write
down the information they might give, the sight of the pen, ink, and paper,
threw them into such consternation that most of them ran away[11]. It was
supposed they did this from dread of being bewitched; for to us they
appeared to be sorcerers and superstitious people, as whenever they came
near the Christians, they used to scatter some powder about them in the
air, and to burn some of the same powder, endeavouring to make the smoke
go towards the Christians; besides their refusing to keep any thing that
belonged to us showed a degree of jealousy like the proverb, which says,
"A knave thinks every man like himself[12]." Having remained here longer
than was convenient, considering the haste we were in, and having repaired
the ships, and provided all we wanted, the admiral sent his brother on
shore with some men on the 2d of October, to view the town, and to
endeavour to learn as much as possible of the manners of the people, and
the nature of the country. The most remarkable thing they saw was a great
wooden building covered with canes, in which were several tombs. In one of
these there lay a dead body dried up and embalmed, in another two bodies
wrapped up in cotton sheets and without any ill scent; and over each there
was a board carved with the figures of beasts, and on one of them the
effigies as was supposed of the person deposited underneath, adorned with
guaninis, beads, and others of their most valued ornaments. These being
the most civilized Indians yet met with, the admiral ordered some to be
taken that he might learn the secrets of the country; seven men were
accordingly seized, and of these two of the chiefest were selected, and
the rest sent away with some gifts and courteous treatment, that the
country might not be left in commotion; and these were told as well as we
could express our meaning, that they were only to serve as guides upon
that coast, and then to be set at liberty. But believing that they were
taken out of covetousness, in order that they might ransom themselves with
their valuable goods, great numbers of the natives came down next day to
the shore, and sent four of their number on board to the admiral to treat
for the ransom of their friends, offering such things as they possessed,
and freely giving three hogs of the country, which, though small, are very
ferocious. Observing, therefore, the uncommon policy of this nation, the
admiral was the more anxious to be acquainted with them; and though he
would not listen to their offers of ransoming their friends, he ordered
some _trifles_ to be given to the messengers that they might not go away
dissatisfied, and that they should be paid for their hogs.

Among other creatures which that country produces, there is a kind of cats
of a greyish colour, as large as a small greyhound, but with a much longer
tail, which is so strong, that whatever they clasp with it is as if bound
fast with a rope. These animals ran about the trees like squirrels, and
when they leap, they not only hold fast with their claws, but with their
tails also, by which they often hang to the boughs, either to rest
themselves or to sport. It happened that one Ballaster brought one of
these cats out of a wood, having knocked him from a tree, and not daring
to meddle with it when down because of its fierceness, he cut off one of
its fore paws and brought it on board in that mutilated condition. Even in
that maimed state, it terrified a good dog we had on board, but put one of
the Indian hogs into much greater fear. The hog used to run at every
person, and would not allow the dog to remain on deck; but the moment it
saw the cat it ran away with signs of the utmost terror. The admiral
therefore gave orders that the hog and the cat should be placed close
together; the cat immediately wound her tail around the snout of the hog,
and with its remaining fore-leg fastened on the pole of the hog, which
grunted the while most fearfully. From this we concluded that these cats
hunt like the wolves or dogs of Spain.

On Wednesday the 5th of October, the admiral sailed from Cariari, and came
to the bay of Caravaro, which is six leagues long and two broad; in this
bay there are many small islands, and two or three channels to go out and
in by. Within these channels the ships sailed as it had been in streets or
lanes between the islands, the branches of the trees rubbing against the
shrouds. As soon as we anchored in this bay, the boats went to one of the
islands where there were twenty canoes on the shore, and a number of
people all entirely naked; most of them had a plate of gold hanging from
the neck, and some an ornament of gold resembling an eagle. These people
were perfectly peaceable, and shewed no tokens of being afraid of the
Christians. Assisted by the two Indians from Cariari, who acted as
interpreters, our people bought one of the gold plates which weighed ten
ducats for three horse-bells, and the Indians said that there was great
plenty of that metal to be had farther up the country at no great distance.

Next day, being the 7th of October, our boats went ashore upon the
continent, where they met ten canoes full of people; and as they refused
to barter away their gold ornaments, two of their chiefs were taken
prisoners, one of whom had a gold plate weighing fourteen ducats, and the
other an eagle of gold which weighed twenty-two. Being examined by the
admiral, with the assistance of our interpreters, they said that there was
great plenty of gold up the country, at places which they named, and which
might be reached in a day or two. Vast quantities of fish were taken in
the bay, and there were abundance of these creatures on shore which were
before seen at Cariari; also great abundance of food, as grain, roots, and
fruit. The men were entirely naked, except a narrow cotton cloth before,
and had their faces and body painted all over with various colours, as red,
white, and black. From this bay of Caravaro, we went to another close by
it called Aburena, which in some measure is like the other.

On the 17th of October we put to sea to continue our voyage; and came to
Guaiga, a river twelve leagues from Aburena. When our boats were going on
shore here by order of the admiral, they saw above 100 Indians on the
strand, who assaulted them furiously, running into the water up to their
middles, brandishing their spears, blowing horns, and beating a drum in a
warlike manner; they likewise threw the water at the Christians, and
chewing certain herbs, they squirted the juice towards them. Our men lay
upon their oars and endeavoured to pacify them, which they at length
accomplished, and they drew near to exchange their gold plates, some for
two, and others for three horse bells, by which means we procured sixteen
gold plates worth 150 ducats. Next day, being Friday the 19th of October,
the boats went again towards the land, intending to barter; but before
going on shore, they called to some Indians who were under certain bowers
or huts, which they had made during the night to defend their country,
fearing the Christians might land to injure them. Though our people called
long and loud, none of the Indians would approach, nor would the
Christians venture to land till they knew what were the intentions of the
Indians; for it afterwards appeared that the Indians waited to fall upon
our people as soon as they might land. But perceiving that they came not
out of the boats, they blew their horns and beat their drum, and ran into
the water as they had done the day before, till they came almost up to the
boats, brandishing their javelins in a hostile manner. Offended at this
proceeding, and that the Indians might not be so bold and despise them,
the Christians at last wounded one of them in the arm with an arrow, and
fired a cannon to intimidate them, on which they all scampered away to the
land. After this four Spaniards landed and called the Indians to come back,
which they now did very quietly, leaving their arms behind them; and they
bartered three gold plates, saying they had no more with them, as they had
not come prepared for trade but for war.

The only object of the admiral in this voyage being to discover the
country, and to procure samples of its productions, he proceeded without
farther delay to Catiba, and cast anchor in the mouth of a great river.
The people of the country were seen to gather, calling one another
together with horns and drums, and they afterwards sent two men in a canoe
towards the ships; who, after some conversation with the Indians who had
been taken at Cariari, came on board the admiral without any signs of
apprehension, and by the advice of the Cariari Indians gave the admiral
two gold plates which they wore about their necks, for which he gave them
some baubles in return. When these went on shore, there came another with
three men, wearing gold plates at their necks, who parted with them as the
others had done. Amity being thus settled, our men went on shore, where
they found numbers of people along with their king, who differed in
nothing from the rest, except that he was covered with one large leaf of a
tree to defend him from the rain which then fell in torrents. To give his
subjects a good example, he bartered away his gold plate, and bade them
exchange theirs with our men, so that they got nineteen in all of pure
gold. This was the first place in the Indies where our people had seen any
sign of building, as they here found a great mass of wall or masonry that
seemed to be composed of stone and lime, and the admiral ordered a piece
of it to be brought away as a memorial or specimen. From thence we sailed
eastwards to Cobravo, the people of which place dwell near the rivers of
that coast; and because none of the natives came down to the strand, and
the wind blew fresh, he held on his course to five towns of great trade,
among which was Veragua, where the Indians said the gold was gathered and


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