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The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (Vol. II) by Washington Irving

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The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus


Washington Irving.

Venient annis
Saecula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Typhisque novos
Detegat Orbes, nec sit terris
Ultima Thule.

Seneca: _Medea_.

Author's Revised Edition.

Vol. II.


Contents of Volume II.

Book XI.

I. Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of
II. Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of
Guarionex, the Cacique of the Vega
III. The Adelantado Repairs to Xaragua to receive Tribute
IV. Conspiracy of Roldan
V. The Adelantado repairs to the Vega in relief of Fort Conception.
--His Interview with Roldan
VI. Second Insurrection of Guarionex, and his Flight to the Mountains
of Ciguay
VII. Campaign of the Adelantado in the Mountains of Ciguay

Book XII.

I. Confusion in the Island.--Proceedings of the Rebels at Xaragua
II. Negotiation of the Admiral with the Rebels.--Departure of Ships
for Spain
III. Arrangement with the Rebels
IV. Another Mutiny of the Rebels; and Second Arrangement with them
V. Grants made to Roldan and his Followers.--Departure of several of
the Rebels for Spain
VI. Arrival of Ojeda with a Squadron at the Western part of the Island.
--Roldan sent to meet him
VII. Manoeuvres of Roldan and Ojeda

Book XIII.

I. Representations at Court against Columbus.--Bobadilla empowered to
examine into his Conduct
II. Arrival of Bobadilla at San Domingo.--His violent Assumption of
the Command
III. Columbus summoned to appear before Bobadilla
IV. Columbus and his Brothers arrested and sent to Spain in Chains

Book XIV.

I. Sensation in Spain on the Arrival of Columbus in Irons.--His
Appearance at Court
II. Contemporary Voyages of Discovery
III. Nicholas de Ovando appointed to supersede Bobadilla
IV. Proposition of Columbus relative to the Recovery of the Holy
V. Preparations of Columbus for a Fourth Voyage of Discovery

Book XV.

I. Departure of Columbus on his Fourth Voyage.--Refused Admission to
the Harbor of San Domingo--Exposed to a violent Tempest
II. Voyage along the Coast of Honduras
III. Voyage along the Mosquito Coast, and Transactions at Cariari
IV. Voyage along Costa Rica.--Speculations concerning the Isthmus at
V. Discovery of Puerto Bello and El Retrete.--Columbus abandons the
search after the Strait
VI. Return to Veragua.--The Adelantado explores the Country.
VII. Commencement of a Settlement on the river Belen.--Conspiracy of the
Natives.--Expedition of the Adelantado to surprise Quibian.
VIII. Disasters of the Settlement.
IX. Distress of the Admiral on board of his Ship.--Ultimate Relief of
the Settlement.
X. Departure from the Coast of Veragua.--arrival at Jamaica.--Stranding
of the Ships.

Book XVI.

I. Arrangement of Diego Mendez with the Caciques for Supplies of
Provisions.--Sent to San Domingo by Columbus in quest of Relief.
II. Mutiny of Porras.
III. Scarcity of Provisions.--Stratagem of Columbus to obtain Supplies
from the Natives.
IV. Mission of Diego de Escobar to the Admiral.
V. Voyage of Diego Mendez and Bartholomew Fiesco in a Canoe to
VI. Overtures of Columbus to the Mutineers.--Battle of the Adelantado
with Porras and his Followers.

Book XVII.

I. Administration of Ovando in Hispaniola.--Oppression of the Natives.
II. Massacre at Xaragua.--Fate of Anacaona.
III. War with the Natives of Higuey.
IV. Close of the War with Higuey.--Fate of Cotabanama.


I. Departure of Columbus for San Domingo.--His Return to Spain.
II. Illness of Columbus at Seville.--Application to the Crown for a
Restitution of his Honors.--Death of Isabella.
III. Columbus arrives at Court.--Fruitless Application to the King for
IV. Death of Columbus.
V. Observations on the Character of Columbus.



The Life and Voyages of Columbus

Book XI.

Chapter I.

Administration of the Adelantado.--Expedition to the Province of Xaragua.


Columbus had anticipated repose from his toils on arriving at Hispaniola,
but a new scene of trouble and anxiety opened upon him, destined to impede
the prosecution of his enterprises, and to affect all his future fortunes.
To explain this, it is necessary to relate the occurrences of the island
during his long detention in Spain.

When he sailed for Europe in March, 1496, his brother, Don Bartholomew,
who remained as Adelantado, took the earliest measures to execute his
directions with respect to the mines recently discovered by Miguel Diaz on
the south side of the island. Leaving Don Diego Columbus in command at
Isabella, he repaired with a large force to the neighborhood of the mines,
and, choosing a favorable situation in a place most abounding in ore,
built a fortress, to which he gave the name of San Christoval. The
workmen, however, finding grains of gold among the earth and stone
employed in its construction, gave it the name of the Golden
Tower. [1]

The Adelantado remained here three months, superintending the building of
the fortress, and making the necessary preparations for working the mines
and purifying the ore. The progress of the work, however, was greatly
impeded by scarcity of provisions, having frequently to detach a part of
the men about the country in quest of supplies. The former hospitality of
the island was at an end. The Indians no longer gave their provisions
freely; they had learnt from the white men to profit by the necessities of
the stranger, and to exact a price for bread. Their scanty stores, also,
were soon exhausted, for their frugal habits, and their natural indolence
and improvidence, seldom permitted them to have more provisions on hand
than was requisite for present support. [2] The Adelantado found it
difficult, therefore, to maintain so large a force in the neighborhood,
until they should have time to cultivate the earth, and raise live-stock,
or should receive supplies from Spain. Leaving ten men to guard the
fortress, with a dog to assist them in catching utias, he marched with the
rest of his men, about four hundred in number, to Fort Conception, in the
abundant country of the Vega. He passed the whole month of June collecting
the quarterly tribute, being supplied with food by Guarionex and his
subordinate caciques. In the following month (July, 1496) the three
caravels commanded by Nino arrived from Spain, bringing a reinforcement
of men, and, what was still more needed, a supply of provisions. The
latter was quickly distributed among the hungry colonists, but
unfortunately a great part had been injured during the voyage. This was a
serious misfortune in a community where the least scarcity produced murmur
and sedition.

By these ships the Adelantado received letters from his brother, directing
him to found a town and sea-port at the mouth of the Ozema, near to the
new mines. He requested him, also, to send prisoners to Spain such of the
caciques and their subjects as had been concerned in the death of any of
the colonists; that being considered as sufficient ground, by many of the
ablest jurists and theologians of Spain, for selling them as slaves. On
the return of the caravels, the Adelantado dispatched three hundred Indian
prisoners, and three caciques. These formed the ill-starred cargoes about
which Nino had made such absurd vaunting, as though the ships were laden
with treasure; and which had caused such mortification, disappointment,
and delay to Columbus.

Having obtained by this arrival a supply of provisions, the Adelantado
returned to the fortress of San Christoval, and thence proceeded to the
Ozema, to choose a site for the proposed seaport. After a careful
examination, he chose the eastern bank of a natural haven at the mouth of
the river. It was easy of access, of sufficient depth, and good anchorage.
The river ran through a beautiful and fertile country; its waters were
pure and salubrious, and well stocked with fish; its banks were covered
with trees bearing the fine fruits of the island, so that in sailing
along, the fruits and flowers might be plucked with the hand from the
branches which overhung the stream. [3] This delightful vicinity was the
dwelling-place of the female cacique who had conceived an affection for
the young Spaniard Miguel Diaz, and had induced him to entice his
countrymen to that part of the island. The promise she had given of a
friendly reception on the part of her tribe was faithfully performed.

On a commanding bank of the harbor, Don Bartholomew erected a fortress,
which at first was called Isabella, but afterwards San Domingo, and was
the origin of the city which still bears that name. The Adelantado was of
an active and indefatigable spirit. No sooner was the fortress completed,
than he left in it a garrison of twenty men, and with the rest of his
forces set out to visit the dominions of Behechio, one of the principal
chieftains of the island. This cacique, as has already been mentioned,
reigned over Xaragua, a province comprising almost the whole coast at the
west end of the island, including Cape Tiburon, and extending along the
south side as far as Point Aguida, or the small island of Beata. It was
one of the most populous and fertile districts, with a delightful climate;
and its inhabitants were softer and more graceful in their manners than
the rest of the islanders. Being so remote from all the fortresses, the
cacique, although he had taken a part in the combination of the
chieftains, had hitherto remained free from the incursions and exactions
of the white men.

With this cacique resided Anacaona, widow of the late formidable Caonabo.
She was sister to Behechio, and had taken refuge with her brother after
the capture of her husband. She was one of the most beautiful females of
the island; her name in the Indian language signified "The Golden Flower."
She possessed a genius superior to the generality of her race, and was
said to excel in composing those little legendary ballads, or areytos,
which the natives chanted as they performed their national dances. All the
Spanish writers agree in describing her as possessing a natural dignity
and grace hardly to be credited in her ignorant and savage condition.
Notwithstanding the ruin with which her husband had been overwhelmed by
the hostility of the white men, she appears to have entertained no
vindictive feeling towards them, knowing that he had provoked their
vengeance by his own voluntary warfare. She regarded the Spaniards with
admiration as almost superhuman beings, and her intelligent mind perceived
the futility and impolicy of any attempt to resist their superiority in
arts and arms. Having great influence over her brother Behechio, she
counseled him to take warning by the fate of her husband, and to
conciliate the friendship of the Spaniards; and it is supposed that a
knowledge of the friendly sentiments and powerful influence of this
princess in a great measure prompted the Adelantado to his present
expedition. [4]

In passing through those parts of the island which had hitherto been
unvisited by Europeans, the Adelantado adopted the same imposing measures
which the admiral had used on a former occasion; he put his cavalry in the
advance, and entered all the Indian towns in martial array, with standards
displayed, and the sound of drum and trumpet.

After proceeding about thirty leagues, he came to the river Neyva, which,
issuing from the mountains of Cibao, divides the southern side of the
island. Crossing this stream, he dispatched two parties of ten men each
along the sea-coast in search of brazil-wood. They found great quantities,
and felled many trees, which they stored in the Indian cabins, until they
could be taken away by sea.

Inclining with his main force to the right, the Adelantado met, not far
from the river, the cacique Behechio, with a great army of his subjects,
armed with bows and arrows and lances. If he had come forth with the
intention of opposing the inroad into his forest domains, he was probably
daunted by the formidable appearance of the Spaniards. Laying aside his
weapons, he advanced and accosted the Adelantado very amicably, professing
that he was thus in arms for the purpose of subjecting certain villages
along the river, and inquiring, at the same time, the object of this
incursion of the Spaniards. The Adelantado assured him that he came on a
peaceful visit to pass a little time in friendly intercourse at Xaragua.
He succeeded so well in allaying the apprehensions of the cacique, that
the latter dismissed his army, and sent swift messengers to order
preparations for the suitable reception of so distinguished a guest. As
the Spaniards advanced into the territories of the chieftain, and passed
through the districts of his inferior caciques, the latter brought forth
cassava bread, hemp, cotton, and various other productions of the land. At
length they drew near to the residence of Behechio, which was a large town
situated in a beautiful part of the country near the coast, at the bottom
of that deep bay called at present the Bight of Leogan.

The Spaniards had heard many accounts of the soft and delightful region of
Xaragua, in one part of which Indian traditions placed their Elysian
fields. They had heard much, also, of the beauty and urbanity of the
inhabitants: the mode of their reception was calculated to confirm their
favorable prepossessions. As they approached the place, thirty females of
the cacique's household came forth to meet them, singing their areytos, or
traditionary ballads, and dancing and waving palm branches. The married
females wore aprons of embroidered cotton, reaching half way to the knee;
the young women were entirely naked, with merely a fillet round the
forehead, their hair falling upon their shoulders. They were beautifully
proportioned; their skin smooth and delicate, and their complexion of a
clear agreeable brown. According to old Peter Martyr, the Spaniards, when
they beheld them issuing forth from their green woods, almost imagined
they beheld the fabled dryads, or native nymphs and fairies of the
fountains, sung by the ancient poets. [5] When they came before Don
Bartholomew, they knelt and gracefully presented him the green branches.
After these came the female cacique Anacaona, reclining on a kind of light
litter borne by six Indians. Like the other females, she had no other
covering than an apron of various-colored cotton. She wore round her head
a fragrant garland of red and white flowers, and wreaths of the same round
her neck and arms. She received the Adelantado and his followers with that
natural grace and courtesy for which she was celebrated; manifesting no
hostility towards them for the fate her husband had experienced at their

The Adelantado and his officers were conducted to the house of Behechio,
where a banquet was served up of utias, a great variety of sea and river
fish, with roots and fruits of excellent quality. Here first the Spaniards
conquered their repugnance to the guana, the favorite delicacy of the
Indians, but which the former had regarded with disgust, as a species of
serpent. The Adelantado, willing to accustom himself to the usages of the
country, was the first to taste this animal, being kindly pressed thereto
by Anacaona. His followers imitated his example; they found it to be
highly palatable and delicate; and from that time forward, the guana was
held in repute among Spanish epicures. [6]

The banquet being over, Don Bartholomew with six of his principal
cavaliers were lodged in the dwelling of Behechio; the rest were
distributed in the houses of the inferior caciques, where they slept in
hammocks of matted cotton, the usual beds of the natives.

For two days they remained with the hospitable Behechio, entertained with
various Indian games and festivities, among which the most remarkable was
the representation of a battle. Two squadrons of naked Indians, armed with
bows and arrows, sallied suddenly into the public square and began to
skirmish in a manner similar to the Moorish play of canes, or tilting
reeds. By degrees they became excited, and fought with such earnestness,
that four were slain, and many wounded, which seemed to increase the
interest and pleasure of the spectators. The contest would have continued
longer, and might have been still more bloody, had not the Adelantado and
the other cavaliers interfered and begged that the game might cease. [7]

When the festivities were over, and familiar intercourse had promoted
mutual confidence, the Adelantado addressed the cacique and Anacaona on
the real object of his visit. He informed him that his brother, the
admiral, had been sent to this island by the sovereigns of Castile, who
were great and mighty potentates, with many kingdoms under their sway.
That the admiral had returned to apprise his sovereigns how many tributary
caciques there were in the island, leaving him in command, and that he had
come to receive Behechio under the protection of these mighty sovereigns,
and to arrange a tribute to be paid by him, in such manner as should be
most convenient and satisfactory to himself. [8]

The cacique was greatly embarrassed by this demand, knowing the sufferings
inflicted on the other parts of the island by the avidity of the Spaniards
for gold. He replied that he had been apprised that gold was the great
object for which the white men had come to their island, and that a
tribute was paid in it by some of his fellow-caciques; but that in no part
of his territories was gold to be found; and his subjects hardly knew what
it was. To this the Adelantado replied with great adroitness, that nothing
was farther from the intention or wish of his sovereigns than to require a
tribute in things not produced in his dominions, but that it might be paid
in cotton, hemp, and cassava bread, with which the surrounding country
appeared to abound. The countenance of the cacique brightened at this
intimation; he promised cheerful compliance, and instantly sent orders to
all his subordinate caciques to sow abundance of cotton for the first
payment of the stipulated tribute. Having made all the requisite
arrangements, the Adelantado took a most friendly leave of Behechio and
his sister, and set out for Isabella.

Thus, by amicable and sagacious management, one of the most extensive
provinces of the island was brought into cheerful subjection, and had not
the wise policy of the Adelantado been defeated by the excesses of
worthless and turbulent men, a large revenue might have been collected,
without any recourse to violence or oppression. In all instances, these
simple people appear to have been extremely tractable, and meekly and even
cheerfully to have resigned their rights to the white men, when treated
with gentleness and humanity.

Chapter II.

Establishment of a Chain of Military Posts.--Insurrection of Guarionex,
the Cacique of the Vega.


On arriving at Isabella, Don Bartholomew found it, as usual, a scene of
misery and repining. Many had died during his absence; most were ill.
Those who were healthy complained of the scarcity of food, and those who
were ill, of the want of medicines. The provisions distributed among them,
from the supply brought out a few months before by Pedro Alonzo Nino, had
been consumed. Partly from sickness, and partly from a repugnance to
labor, they had neglected to cultivate the surrounding country, and the
Indians, on whom they chiefly depended, outraged by their oppressions, had
abandoned the vicinity, and fled to the mountains; choosing rather to
subsist on roots and herbs, in their rugged retreats, than remain in the
luxuriant plains, subject to the wrongs and cruelties of the white men.
The history of this island presents continual pictures of the miseries,
the actual want and poverty, produced by the grasping avidity of gold. It
had rendered the Spaniards heedless of all the less obvious, but more
certain and salubrious, sources of wealth. All labor seemed lost that was
to produce profit by a circuitous process. Instead of cultivating the
luxuriant soil around them, and deriving real treasures from its surface,
they wasted their time in seeking for mines and golden streams, and were
starving in the midst of fertility.

No sooner were the provisions exhausted which had been brought out by
Nino, than the colonists began to break forth in their accustomed murmurs.
They represented themselves as neglected by Columbus, who, amidst the
blandishments and delights of a court, thought little of their sufferings.
They considered themselves equally forgotten by government; while, having
no vessel in the harbor, they were destitute of all means of sending home
intelligence of their disastrous situation, and imploring relief.

To remove this last cause of discontent, and furnish some object for their
hopes and thoughts to rally round, the Adelantado ordered that two
caravels should be built at Isabella, for the use of the island. To
relieve the settlement, also, from all useless and repining individuals,
during this time of scarcity, he distributed such as were too ill to
labor, or to bear arms, into the interior, where they would have the
benefit of a better climate, and more abundant supply of Indian
provisions. He at the same time completed and garrisoned the chain of
military posts established by his brother in the preceding year,
consisting of five fortified houses, each surrounded by its dependent
hamlet. The first of these was about nine leagues from Isabella, and was
called la Esperanza. Six leagues beyond was Santa Catalina. Four leagues
and a half further was Magdalena, where the first town of Santiago was
afterwards founded; and five leagues further Fort Conception--which was
fortified with great care, being in the vast and populous Vega, and within
half a league from the residence of its cacique, Guarionex. [9] Having
thus relieved Isabella of all its useless population, and left none but
such as were too ill to be removed, or were required for the service and
protection of the place, and the construction of the caravels, the
Adelantado returned, with a large body of the most effective men, to the
fortress of San Domingo.

The military posts, thus established, succeeded for a time in overawing
the natives; but fresh hostilities were soon manifested, excited by a
different cause from the preceding. Among the missionaries who had
accompanied Friar Boyle to the island, were two of far greater zeal than
their superior. When he returned to Spain, they remained, earnestly bent
upon the fulfillment of their mission. One was called Roman Pane, a poor
hermit, as he styled himself, of the order of St. Geronimo; the other was
Juan Borgonon, a Franciscan. They resided for some time among the Indians
of the Vega, strenuously endeavoring to make converts, and had succeeded
with one family, of sixteen persons, the chief of which, on being
baptized, took the name of Juan Mateo. The conversion of the cacique
Guarionex, however, was their main object. The extent of his possessions
made his conversion of great importance to the interests of the colony,
and was considered by the zealous fathers a means of bringing his numerous
subjects under the dominion of the church. For some time he lent a willing
ear; he learnt the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Creed, and made
his whole family repeat them daily. The other caciques of the Vega and of
the provinces of Cibao, however, scoffed at him for meanly conforming to
the laws and customs of strangers, usurpers of his domains, and oppressors
of his nation. The friars complained that, in consequence of these evil
communications, their convert suddenly relapsed into infidelity; but
another and more grievous cause is assigned for his recantation. His
favorite wife was seduced or treated with outrage by a Spaniard of
authority; and the cacique renounced all faith in a religion which, as he
supposed, admitted of such atrocities. Losing all hope of effecting his
conversion, the missionaries removed to the territories of another
cacique, taking with them Juan Mateo, their Indian convert. Before their
departure, they erected a small chapel, and furnished it with an altar,
crucifix, and images, for the use of the family of Mateo.

Scarcely had they departed, when several Indians entered the chapel, broke
the images in pieces, trampled them under foot, and buried them in a
neighboring field. This, it was said, was done by order of Guarionex, in
contempt of the religion from which he had apostatized. A complaint of
this enormity was carried to the Adelantado, who ordered a suit to be
immediately instituted, and those who were found culpable, to be punished
according to law. It was a period of great rigor in ecclesiastical law,
especially among the Spaniards. In Spain, all heresies in religion, all
recantations from the faith, and all acts of sacrilege, either by Moor or
Jew, were punished with fire and fagot. Such was the fate of the poor
ignorant Indians, convicted of this outrage on the church. It is
questionable whether Guarionex had any hand in this offence, and it is
probable that the whole affair was exaggerated. A proof of the credit due
to the evidence brought forward may be judged by one of the facts recorded
by Roman Pane, "the poor hermit." The field in which the holy images were
buried, was planted, he says, with certain roots shaped like a turnip, or
radish, several of which coming up in the neighborhood of the images, were
found to have grown most miraculously in the form of a cross. [10]

The cruel punishment inflicted on these Indians, instead of daunting their
countrymen, filled them with horror and indignation. Unaccustomed to such
stern rule and vindictive justice, and having no clear ideas nor powerful
sentiments with respect to religion of any kind, they could not comprehend
the nature nor extent of the crime committed. Even Guarionex, a man
naturally moderate and pacific, was highly incensed with the assumption of
power within his territories, and the inhuman death inflicted on his
subjects. The other caciques perceived his irritation, and endeavored to
induce him to unite in a sudden insurrection, that by one vigorous and
general effort they might break the yoke of their oppressors. Guarionex
wavered for some time. He knew the martial skill and prowess of the
Spaniards; he stood in awe of their cavalry, and he had before him the
disastrous fate of Caonabo; but he was rendered bold by despair, and he
beheld in the domination of these strangers the assured ruin of his race.
The early writers speak of a tradition current among the inhabitants of
the island, respecting this Guarionex. He was of an ancient line of
hereditary caciques. His father, in times long preceding the discovery,
having fasted for five days, according to their superstitious observances,
applied to his zemi, or household deity, for information of things to
come. He received for answer, that within a few years there should come to
the island a nation covered with clothing, which should destroy all their
customs and ceremonies, and slay their children or reduce them to painful
servitude. [11] The tradition was probably invented by the Butios, or
priests, after the Spaniards had begun to exercise their severities.
Whether their prediction had an effect in disposing the mind of Guarionex
to hostilities is uncertain. Some have asserted that he was compelled to
take up arms by his subjects, who threatened, in case of his refusal, to
choose some other chieftain; others have alleged the outrage committed
upon his favorite wife, as the principal cause of his irritation. [12] It
was probably these things combined, which at length induced him to enter
into the conspiracy. A secret consultation was held among the caciques,
wherein it was concerted, that on the day of payment of their quarterly
tribute, when a great number could assemble without causing suspicion,
they should suddenly rise upon the Spaniards and massacre them. [13]

By some means the garrison at Fort Conception received intimation of this
conspiracy. Being but a handful of men, and surrounded by hostile tribes,
they wrote a letter to the Adelantado, at San Domingo, imploring immediate
aid. As this letter might be taken from their Indian messenger, the
natives having discovered that these letters had a wonderful power of
communicating intelligence, and fancying they could talk, it was inclosed
in a reed, to be used as a staff. The messenger was, in fact, intercepted;
but, affecting to be dumb and lame, and intimating by signs that he was
returning home, was permitted to limp forward on his journey. When out of
sight he resumed his speed, and bore the letter safely and expeditiously
to San Domingo. [14]

The Adelantado, with his characteristic promptness and activity, set out
immediately with a body of troops for the fortress; and though his men
were much enfeebled by scanty fare, hard service, and long marches,
hurried them rapidly forward. Never did aid arrive more opportunely. The
Indians were assembled on the plain, to the amount of many thousands,
armed after their manner, and waiting for the appointed time to strike the
blow. After consulting with the commander of the fortress and his
officers, the Adelantado concerted a mode of proceeding. Ascertaining the
places in which the various caciques had distributed their forces, he
appointed an officer with a body of men to each cacique, with orders, at
an appointed hour of the night, to rush into the villages, surprise them
asleep and unarmed, bind the caciques, and bring them off prisoners. As
Guarionex was the most important personage, and his capture would probably
be attended with most difficulty and danger, the Adelantado took the
charge of it upon himself, at the head of one hundred men.

This stratagem, founded upon a knowledge of the attachment of the Indians
to their chieftains, and calculated to spare a great effusion of blood,
was completely successful. The villages, having no walls nor other
defences, were quietly entered at midnight; and the Spaniards, rushing
suddenly into the houses where the caciques were quartered, seized and
bound them, to the number of fourteen, and hurried them off to the
fortress, before any effort could be made for their defence or rescue. The
Indians, struck with terror, made no resistance, nor any show of
hostility; surrounding the fortress in great multitudes, but without
weapons, they filled the air with doleful howlings and lamentations,
imploring the release of their chieftains. The Adelantado completed his
enterprise with the spirit, sagacity, and moderation with which he had
hitherto conducted it. He obtained information of the causes of this
conspiracy, and the individuals most culpable. Two caciques, the principal
movers of the insurrection, and who had most wrought upon the easy nature
of Guarionex, were put to death. As to that unfortunate cacique, the
Adelantado, considering the deep wrongs he had suffered, and the slowness
with which he had been provoked to revenge, magnanimously pardoned him;
nay, according to Las Casas, he proceeded with stern justice against the
Spaniard whose outrage on his wife had sunk so deeply in his heart. He
extended his lenity also to the remaining chieftains of the conspiracy;
promising great favors and rewards, if they should continue firm in their
loyalty; but terrible punishments should they again be found in rebellion.
The heart of Guarionex was subdued by this unexpected clemency. He made a
speech to his people, setting forth the irresistible might and valor of
the Spaniards; their great lenity to offenders, and their generosity to
such as were faithful; and he earnestly exhorted them henceforth to
cultivate their friendship. The Indians listened to him with attention;
his praises of the white men were confirmed by their treatment of himself;
when he had concluded, they took him up on their shoulders, bore him to
his habitation with songs and shouts of joy, and for some time the
tranquillity of the Vega was restored. [15]

Chapter III.

The Adelantado Repairs to Xaragua to Receive Tribute.


With all his energy and discretion, the Adelantado found it difficult to
manage the proud and turbulent spirit of the colonists. They could ill
brook the sway of a foreigner, who, when they were restive, curbed them
with an iron hand. Don Bartholomew had not the same legitimate authority
in their eyes as his brother. The admiral was the discoverer of the
country, and the authorized representative of the sovereigns; yet even him
they with difficulty brought themselves to obey. The Adelantado, on the
contrary, was regarded by many as a mere intruder, assuming high command
without authority from the crown, and shouldering himself into power on
the merits and services of his brother. They spoke with impatience and
indignation, also, of the long absence of the admiral, and his fancied
inattention to their wants; little aware of the incessant anxieties he was
suffering on their account, during his detention in Spain. The sagacious
measure of the Adelantado in building the caravels for some time diverted
their attention. They watched their progress with solicitude, looking upon
them as a means either of obtaining relief, or of abandoning the island.
Aware that repining and discontented men should never be left in idleness,
Don Bartholomew kept them continually in movement; and indeed a state of
constant activity was congenial to his own vigorous spirit. About this
time messengers arrived from Behechio, cacique of Xaragua, informing him
that he had large quantities of cotton, and other articles, in which his
tribute was to be paid, ready for delivery. The Adelantado immediately set
forth with a numerous train, to revisit this fruitful and happy region. He
was again received with songs and dances, and all the national
demonstrations of respect and amity by Behechio and his sister Anacaona.
The latter appeared to be highly popular among the natives, and to have
almost as much sway in Xaragua as her brother. Her natural ease, and the
graceful dignity of her manners, more and more won the admiration of the

The Adelantado found thirty-two inferior caciques assembled in the house
of Behechio, awaiting his arrival with their respective tributes. The
cotton they had brought was enough to fill one of their houses. Having
delivered this, they gratuitously offered the Adelantado as much cassava
bread as he desired. The offer was most acceptable in the present
necessitous state of the colony; and Don Bartholomew sent to Isabella for
one of the caravels, which was nearly finished, to be dispatched as soon
as possible to Xaragua, to be freighted with bread and cotton.

In the meantime, the natives brought from all quarters large supplies of
provisions, and entertained their guests with continual festivity and
banqueting. The early Spanish writers, whose imaginations, heated by the
accounts of the voyagers, could not form an idea of the simplicity of
savage life, especially in these newly-discovered countries, which were
supposed to border upon Asia, often speak in terms of oriental
magnificence of the entertainments of the natives, the palaces of the
caciques, and the lords and ladies of their courts, as if they were
describing the abodes of Asiatic potentates. The accounts given of
Xaragua, however, have a different character; and give a picture of savage
life, in its perfection of idle and ignorant enjoyment. The troubles which
distracted the other parts of devoted Hayti had not reached the
inhabitants of this pleasant region. Living among beautiful and fruitful
groves, on the borders of a sea apparently for ever tranquil and unvexed
by storms; having few wants, and those readily supplied, they appeared
emancipated from the common lot of labor, and to pass their lives in one
uninterrupted holiday. When the Spaniards regarded the fertility and
sweetness of this country, the gentleness of its people, and the beauty of
its women, they pronounced it a perfect paradise.

At length the caravel arrived which was to be freighted with the articles
of tribute. It anchored about six miles from the residence of Behechio,
and Anacaona proposed to her brother that they should go together to
behold what she called the great canoe of the white men. On their way to
the coast, the Adelantado was lodged one night in a village, in a house
where Anacaona treasured up those articles which she esteemed most rare
and precious. They consisted of various manufactures of cotton,
ingeniously wrought; of vessels of clay, moulded into different forms; of
chairs, tables, and like articles of furniture, formed of ebony and other
kinds of wood, and carved with various devices,--all evincing great skill
and ingenuity, in a people who had no iron tools to work with. Such were
the simple treasures of this Indian princess, of which she made numerous
presents to her guest.

Nothing could exceed the wonder and delight of this intelligent woman,
when she first beheld the ship. Her brother, who treated her with a
fraternal fondness and respectful attention worthy of civilized life, had
prepared two canoes, gayly painted and decorated; one to convey her and
her attendants, and the other for himself and his chieftains. Anacaona,
however, preferred to embark, with her attendants, in the ship's boat with
the Adelantado. As they approached the caravel, a salute was fired. At the
report of the cannon, and the sight of the smoke, Anacaona, overcome with
dismay, fell into the arms of the Adelantado, and her attendants would
have leaped overboard, but the laughter and the cheerful words of Don
Bartholomew speedily reassured them. As they drew nearer to the vessel,
several instruments of martial music struck up, with which they were
greatly delighted. Their admiration increased on entering on board.
Accustomed only to their simple and slight canoes, every thing here
appeared wonderfully vast and complicated. But when the anchor was
weighed, the sails were spread, and, aided by a gentle breeze, they beheld
this vast mass, moving apparently by its own volition, veering from side
to side, and playing like a huge monster in the deep, the brother and
sister remained gazing at each other in mute astonishment. [16]
Nothing seems to have filled the mind of the most stoical savage with more
wonder than that sublime and beautiful triumph of genius, a ship under

Having freighted and dispatched the caravel, the Adelantado made many
presents to Behechio, his sister, and their attendants, and took leave of
them, to return by land with his troops to Isabella. Anacaona showed great
affliction at their parting, entreating him to remain some time longer
with them, and appearing fearful that they had failed in their humble
attempt to please him. She even offered to follow him to the settlement,
nor would she be consoled until he had promised to return again to
Xaragua. [17]

We cannot but remark the ability shown by the Adelantado in the course of
his transient government of the island. Wonderfully alert and active, he
made repeated marches of great extent, from one remote province to
another, and was always at the post of danger at the critical moment. By
skillful management, with a handful of men, he defeated a formidable
insurrection without any effusion of blood. He conciliated the most
inveterate enemies among the natives by great moderation, while he
deterred all wanton hostilities by the infliction of signal punishments.
He had made firm friends of the most important chieftains, brought their
dominions under cheerful tribute, opened new sources of supplies for the
colony, and procured relief from its immediate wants. Had his judicious
measures been seconded by those under his command, the whole country would
have been a scene of tranquil prosperity, and would have produced great
revenues to the crown, without cruelty to the natives; but, like his
brother the admiral, his good intentions and judicious arrangements were
constantly thwarted by the vile passions and perverse conduct of others.
While he was absent from Isabella, new mischiefs had been fomented there,
which were soon to throw the whole island into confusion.

Chapter IV.

Conspiracy of Roldan.


The prime mover of the present mischief was one Francisco Roldan, a man
under the deepest obligations to the admiral. Raised by him from poverty
and obscurity, he had been employed at first in menial capacities; but,
showing strong natural talents, and great assiduity, he had been made
ordinary alcalde, equivalent to justice of the peace. The able manner in
which he acquitted himself in this situation, and the persuasion of his
great fidelity and gratitude, induced Columbus, on departing for Spain, to
appoint him alcalde mayor, or chief judge of the island. It is true he was
an uneducated man, but, as there were as yet no intricacies of law in the
colony, the office required little else than shrewd good sense and upright
principles for its discharge. [18]

Roldan was one of those base spirits which grow venomous in the sunshine
of prosperity. His benefactor had returned to Spain apparently under a
cloud of disgrace; a long interval had elapsed without tidings from him;
he considered him a fallen man, and began to devise how he might profit by
his downfall. He was intrusted with an office inferior only to that of the
Adelantado; the brothers of Columbus were highly unpopular; he imagined it
possible to ruin them, both with the colonists and with the government at
home, and by dextrous cunning and bustling activity to work his way into
the command of the colony. The vigorous and somewhat austere character of
the Adelantado for some time kept him in awe; but when he was absent from
the settlement, Roldan was able to carry on his machinations with
confidence. Don Diego, who then commanded at Isabella, was an upright and
worthy man, but deficient in energy. Roldan felt himself his superior in
talent and spirit, and his self-conceit was wounded at being inferior to
him in authority. He soon made a party among the daring and dissolute of
the community, and secretly loosened the ties of order and good
government, by listening to and encouraging the discontents of the common
people, and directing them against the character and conduct of Columbus
and his brothers. He had heretofore been employed as superintendent of
various public works; this brought him into familiar communication with
workmen, sailors, and others of the lower order. His originally vulgar
character enabled him to adapt himself to their intellects and manners,
while his present station gave him consequence in their eyes. Finding them
full of murmurs about hard treatment, severe toil, and the long absence of
the admiral, he affected to be moved by their distresses. He threw out
suggestions that the admiral might never return, being disgraced and
ruined in consequence of the representations of Aguado. He sympathized
with the hard treatment they experienced from the Adelantado and his
brother Don Diego, who, being foreigners, could take no interest in their
welfare, nor feel a proper respect for the pride of a Spaniard; but who
used them merely as slaves, to build houses and fortresses for them, or to
swell their state and secure their power, as they marched about the island
enriching themselves with the spoils of the caciques. By these suggestions
he exasperated their feelings to such a height, that they had at one time
formed a conspiracy to take away the life of the Adelantado, as the only
means of delivering themselves from an odious tyrant. The time and place
for the perpetration of the act were concerted. The Adelantado had
condemned to death a Spaniard of the name of Berahona, a friend of Roldan,
and of several of the conspirators. What was his offence is not positively
stated, but from a passage in Las Casas [19] there is reason to believe
that he was the very Spaniard who had violated the favorite wife of
Guarionex, the cacique of the Vega. The Adelantado would be present at the
execution. It was arranged, therefore, that when the populace had
assembled, a tumult should be made as if by accident, and in the confusion
of the moment, Don Bartholomew should be dispatched with a poniard.
Fortunately for the Adelantado, he pardoned the criminal, the assemblage
did not take place, and the plan of the conspirators was disconcerted.

When Don Bartholomew was absent collecting the tribute in Xaragua, Roldan
thought it was a favorable time to bring affairs to a crisis. He had
sounded the feelings of the colonists, and ascertained that there was a
large party disposed for open sedition. His plan was to create a popular
tumult, to interpose in his official character of alcalde mayor, to throw
the blame upon the oppression and injustice of Don Diego and his brother,
and, while he usurped the reins of authority, to appear as if actuated
only by zeal for the peace and prosperity of the island, and the interests
of the sovereigns.

A pretext soon presented itself for the proposed tumult. When the caravel
returned from Xaragua laden with the Indian tributes, and the cargo was
discharged, Don Diego had the vessel drawn up on the land, to protect it
from accidents, or from any sinister designs of the disaffected colonists.
Roldan immediately pointed this circumstance out to his partisans. He
secretly inveighed against the hardship of having this vessel drawn on
shore, instead of being left afloat for the benefit of the colony, or sent
to Spain to make known their distresses. He hinted that the true reason
was the fear of the Adelantado and his brother, lest accounts should be
carried to Spain of their misconduct, and he affirmed that they wished to
remain undisturbed masters of the island, and keep the Spaniards there as
subjects, or rather as slaves. The people took fire at these suggestions.
They had long looked forward to the completion of the caravels as their
only chance for relief; they now insisted that the vessel should be
launched and sent to Spain for supplies. Don Diego endeavored to convince
them of the folly of their demand, the vessel not being rigged and
equipped for such a voyage; but the more he attempted to pacify them, the
more unreasonable and turbulent they became. Roldan, also, became more
bold and explicit in his instigations. He advised them to launch and take
possession of the caravel, as the only mode of regaining their
independence. They might then throw off the tyranny of these upstart
strangers, enemies in their hearts to Spaniards, and might lead a life of
ease and pleasure; sharing equally all that they might gain by barter in
the island, employing the Indians as slaves to work for them, and enjoying
unrestrained indulgence with respect to the Indian women. [21]

Don Diego received information of what was fermenting among the people,
yet feared to come to an open rupture with Roldan in the present mutinous
state of the colony. He suddenly detached him, therefore, with forty men,
to the Vega, under pretext of overawing certain of the natives who had
refused to pay their tribute, and had shown a disposition to revolt.
Roldan made use of this opportunity to strengthen his faction. He made
friends and partisans among the discontented caciques, secretly justifying
them in their resistance to the imposition of tribute, and promising them
redress. He secured the devotion of his own soldiers by great acts of
indulgence, disarming and dismissing such as refused full participation in
his plans, and returned with his little band to Isabella, where he felt
secure of a strong party among the common people.

The Adelantado had by this time returned from Xaragua; but Roldan, feeling
himself at the head of a strong faction, and arrogating to himself great
authority from his official station, now openly demanded that the caravel
should be launched, or permission given to himself and his followers to
launch it. The Adelantado peremptorily refused, observing that neither he
nor his companions were mariners, nor was the caravel furnished and
equipped for sea, and that neither the safety of the vessel, nor of the
people, should be endangered by their attempt to navigate her.

Roldan perceived that his motives were suspected, and felt that the
Adelantado was too formidable an adversary to contend with in any open
sedition at Isabella. He determined, therefore, to carry his plans into
operation in some more favorable part of the island, always trusting to
excuse any open rebellion against the authority of Don Bartholomew, by
representing it as a patriotic opposition to his tyranny over Spaniards.
He had seventy well-armed and determined men under his command, and he
trusted, on erecting his standard, to be joined by all the disaffected
throughout the island. He set off suddenly, therefore, for the Vega,
intending to surprise the fortress of Conception, and by getting command
of that post and the rich country adjacent, to set the Adelantado at

He stopped, on his way, at various Indian villages in which the Spaniards
were distributed, endeavoring to enlist the latter in his party, by
holding out promises of great gain and free living. He attempted also to
seduce the natives from their allegiance, by promising them freedom from
all tribute. Those caciques with whom he had maintained a previous
understanding, received him with open arms; particularly one who had taken
the name of Diego Marque, whose village he made his headquarters, being
about two leagues from Fort Conception. He was disappointed in his hopes
of surprising the fortress. Its commander, Miguel Ballester, was an old
and staunch soldier, both resolute and wary. He drew himself into his
stronghold on the approach of Roldan, and closed his gates. His garrison
was small, but the fortification, situated on the side of a hill, with a
river running at its foot, was proof against any assault. Roldan had still
some hopes that Ballester might be disaffected to government, and might be
gradually brought into his plans, or that the garrison would be disposed
to desert, tempted by the licentious life which he permitted among his
followers. In the neighborhood was the town inhabited by Guarionex. Here
were quartered thirty soldiers, under the command of Captain Garcia de
Barrantes. Roldan repaired thither with his armed force, hoping to enlist
Barrantes and his party; but the captain shut himself up with his men in a
fortified house, refusing to permit them to hold any communication with
Roldan. The latter threatened to set fire to the house; but after a little
consideration, contented himself with seizing their store of provisions,
and then marched towards Fort Conception, which was not quite half a
league distant. [22]

Chapter V.

The Adelantado Repairs to the Vega in Relief of Fort Conception.--His
Interview with Roldan.


The Adelantado had received intelligence of the flagitious proceedings of
Roldan, yet hesitated for a time to set out in pursuit of him. He had lost
all confidence in the loyalty of the people around him, and knew not how
far the conspiracy extended, nor on whom he could rely. Diego de Escobar,
alcayde of the fortress of La Madalena, together with Adrian de Moxica and
Pedro de Valdivieso, all principal men, were in league with Roldan. He
feared that the commander of Fort Conception might likewise be in the
plot, and the whole island in arms against him. He was reassured, however,
by tidings from Miguel Ballester. That loyal veteran wrote to him pressing
letters for succor; representing the weakness of his garrison, and the
increasing forces of the rebels.

Don Bartholomew hastened to his assistance with his accustomed promptness,
and threw himself with a reinforcement into the fortress. Being ignorant
of the force of the rebels, and doubtful of the loyalty of his own
followers, he determined to adopt mild measures. Understanding that Roldan
was quartered at a village but half a league distant, he sent a message to
him, remonstrating on the flagrant irregularity of his conduct, the injury
it was calculated to produce in the island, and the certain ruin it must
bring upon himself, and summoning him to appear at the fortress, pledging
his word for his personal safety. Roldan repaired accordingly to Fort
Conception, where the Adelantado held a parley with him from a window,
demanding the reason of his appearing in arms, in opposition to royal
authority. Roldan replied boldly, that he was in the service of his
sovereigns, defending their subjects from the oppression of men who sought
their destruction. The Adelantado ordered him to surrender his staff of
office, as alcalde mayor, and to submit peaceably to superior authority.
Roldan refused to resign his office, or to put himself in the power of Don
Bartholomew, whom he charged with seeking his life. He refused also to
submit to any trial, unless commanded by the king. Pretending, however, to
make no resistance to the peaceable exercise of authority, he offered to
go with his followers, and reside at any place the Adelantado might
appoint. The latter immediately designated the village of the cacique
Diego Colon, the same native of the Lucayos Islands who had been baptized
in Spain, and had since married a daughter of Guarionex. Roldan objected,
pretending there were not sufficient provisions to be had there for the
subsistence of his men, and departed, declaring that he would seek a more
eligible residence elsewhere. [23]

He now proposed to his followers to take possession of the remote province
of Xaragua. The Spaniards who had returned thence gave enticing accounts
of the life they had led there; of the fertility of the soil, the
sweetness of the climate, the hospitality and gentleness of the people,
their feasts, dances, and various amusements, and, above all, the beauty
of the women; for they had been captivated by the naked charms of the
dancing nymphs of Xaragua. In this delightful region, emancipated from the
iron rule of the Adelantado, and relieved from the necessity of irksome
labor, they might lead a life of perfect freedom and indulgence, and have
a world of beauty at their command. In short, Roldan drew a picture of
loose sensual enjoyment, such as he knew to be irresistible with men of
idle and dissolute habits. His followers acceded with joy to his
proposition. Some preparations, however, were necessary to carry it into
effect. Taking advantage of the absence of the Adelantado, he suddenly
marched with his band to Isabella, and entering it in a manner by
surprise, endeavored to launch the caravel, with which they might sail to
Xaragua. Don Diego Columbus, hearing the tumult, issued forth with several
cavaliers; but such was the force of the mutineers, and their menacing
conduct, that he was obliged to withdraw, with his adherents, into the
fortress. Roldan held several parleys with him, and offered to submit to
his command, provided he would set himself up in opposition to his brother
the Adelantado. His proposition was treated with scorn. The fortress was
too strong to be assailed with success; he found it impossible to launch
the caravel, and feared the Adelantado might return, and he be inclosed
between two forces. He proceeded, therefore, in all haste to make
provisions for the proposed expedition to Xaragua. Still pretending to act
in his official capacity, and to do every thing from loyal motives, for
the protection and support of the oppressed subjects of the crown, he
broke open the royal warehouse, with shouts of "Long live the king!"
supplied his followers with arms, ammunition, clothing, and whatever they
desired from the public stores; proceeded to the inclosure where the
cattle and other European animals were kept to breed, took such as he
thought necessary for his intended establishment, and permitted his
followers to kill such of the remainder as they might want for present
supply. Having committed this wasteful ravage, he marched in triumph out
of Isabella. [24] Reflecting, however, on the prompt and vigorous
character of the Adelantado, he felt that his situation would be but
little secure with such an active enemy behind him; who, on extricating
himself from present perplexities, would not fail to pursue him to his
proposed paradise of Xaragua. He determined, therefore, to march again to
the Vega, and endeavor either to get possession of the person of the
Adelantado, or to strike some blow, in his present crippled state, that
should disable him from offering further molestation. Returning,
therefore, to the vicinity of Fort Conception, he endeavored in every way,
by the means of subtle emissaries, to seduce the garrison to desertion, or
to excite it to revolt.

The Adelantado dared not take the field with his forces, having no
confidence in their fidelity. He knew that they listened wistfully to the
emissaries of Roldan, and contrasted the meagre fare and stern discipline
of the garrison with the abundant cheer and easy misrule that prevailed
among the rebels. To counteract these seductions, he relaxed from his
usual strictness, treating his men with great indulgence, and promising
them large rewards. By these means he was enabled to maintain some degree
of loyalty amongst his forces, his service having the advantage over that
of Roldan, of being on the side of government and law.

Finding his attempts to corrupt the garrison unsuccessful, and fearing
some sudden sally from the vigorous Adelantado, Roldan drew off to a
distance, and sought by insidious means to strengthen his own power, and
weaken that of the government. He asserted equal right to manage the
affairs of the island with the Adelantado, and pretended to have separated
from him on account of his being passionate and vindictive in the exercise
of his authority. He represented him as the tyrant of the Spaniards, the
oppressor of the Indians. For himself, he assumed the character of a
redresser of grievances and champion of the injured. He pretended to feel
a patriotic indignation at the affronts heaped upon Spaniards by a family
of obscure and arrogant foreigners; and professed to free the natives from
tributes wrung from them by these rapacious men for their own enrichment,
and contrary to the beneficent intentions of the Spanish monarchs. He
connected himself closely with the Carib cacique Manicaotex, brother of
the late Caonabo, whose son and nephew were in his possession as hostages
for payment of tributes. This warlike chieftain he conciliated by presents
and caresses, bestowing on him the appellation of brother. [25] The
unhappy natives, deceived by his professions, and overjoyed at the idea of
having a protector in arms for their defence, submitted cheerfully to a
thousand impositions, supplying his followers with provisions in
abundance, and bringing to Roldan all the gold they could collect;
voluntarily yielding him heavier tributes than those from which he
pretended to free them.

The affairs of the island were now in a lamentable situation. The Indians,
perceiving the dissensions among the white men, and encouraged by the
protection of Roldan, began to throw off all allegiance to the government.
The caciques at a distance ceased to send in their tributes, and those who
were in the vicinity were excused by the Adelantado, that by indulgence he
might retain their friendship in this time of danger. Roldan's faction
daily gained strength; they ranged insolently and at large in the open
country, and were supported by the misguided natives; while the Spaniards
who remained loyal, fearing conspiracies among the natives, had to keep
under shelter of the fort, or in the strong houses which they had erected
in the villages. The commanders were obliged to palliate all kinds of
slights and indignities, both from their soldiers and from the Indians,
fearful of driving them to sedition by any severity. The clothing and
munitions of all kinds, either for maintenance or defence, were rapidly
wasting away, and the want of all supplies or tidings from Spain was
sinking the spirits of the well-affected into despondency. The Adelantado
was shut up in Fort Conception, in daily expectation of being openly
besieged by Roldan, and was secretly informed that means were taken to
destroy him, should he issue from the walls of the fortress. [26]

Such was the desperate state to which the colony was reduced, in
consequence of the long detention of Columbus in Spain, and the
impediments thrown in the way of all his measures for the benefit of the
island by the delays of cabinets and the chicanery of Fonseca and his
satellites. At this critical juncture, when faction reigned triumphant,
and the colony was on the brink of ruin, tidings were brought to the Vega
that Pedro Fernandez Coronal had arrived at the port of San Domingo, with
two ships, bringing supplies of all kinds, and a strong reinforcement of
troops. [27]

Chapter VI.

Second Insurrection of Guarionex, and His Flight to the Mountains of


The arrival of Coronal, which took place on the third of February, was the
salvation of the colony. The reinforcements of troops, and of supplies of
all kinds, strengthened the hands of Don Bartholomew. The royal
confirmation of his title and authority as Adelantado at once dispelled
all doubts as to the legitimacy of his power; and the tidings that the
admiral was in high favor at court, and would soon arrive with a powerful
squadron, struck consternation into those who had entered into the
rebellion on the presumption of his having fallen into disgrace.

The Adelantado no longer remained mewed up in his fortress, but set out
immediately for San Domingo with a part of his troops, although a much
superior rebel force was at the village of the cacique Guarionex, at a
very short distance. Roldan followed slowly and gloomily with his party,
anxious to ascertain the truth of these tidings, to make partisans, if
possible, among those who had newly arrived, and to take advantage of
every circumstance that might befriend his rash and hazardous projects.
The Adelantado left strong guards on the passes of the roads to prevent
his near approach to San Domingo, but Roldan paused within a few leagues
of the place.

When the Adelantado found himself secure in San Domingo with this
augmentation of force, and the prospect of a still greater reinforcement
at hand, his magnanimity prevailed over his indignation, and he sought by
gentle means to allay the popular seditions, that the island might be
restored to tranquillity before his brother's arrival. He considered that
the colonists had suffered greatly from the want of supplies; that their
discontents had been heightened by the severities he bad been compelled to
inflict; and that many had been led to rebellion by doubts of the
legitimacy of his authority. While, therefore, he proclaimed the royal act
sanctioning his title and powers, he promised amnesty for all past
offences, on condition of immediate return to allegiance. Hearing that
Roldan was within five leagues of San Domingo with his band, he sent Pedro
Fernandez Coronal, who had been appointed by the sovereigns alguazil mayor
of the island, to exhort him to obedience, promising him oblivion of the
past. He trusted that the representations of a discreet and honorable man
like Coronal, who had been witness of the favor in which his brother stood
in Spain, would convince the rebels of the hopelessness of their course.

Roldan, however, conscious of his guilt, and doubtful of the clemency of
Don Bartholomew, feared to venture within his power; he determined, also,
to prevent his followers from communicating with Coronal, lest they should
be seduced from him by the promise of pardon. When that emissary,
therefore, approached the encampment of the rebels, he was opposed in a
narrow pass by a body of archers, with their cross-bows levelled. "Halt
there! traitor!" cried Roldan, "had you arrived eight days later, we
should all have been united as one man." [28]

In vain Coronal endeavored by fair reasoning and earnest entreaty to win
this perverse and turbulent man from his career. Roldan answered with
hardihood and defiance, professing to oppose only the tyranny and misrule
of the Adelantado, but to be ready to submit to the admiral on his
arrival. He, and several of his principal confederates, wrote letters to
the same effect to their friends in San Domingo, urging them to plead
their cause with the admiral when he should arrive, and to assure him of
their disposition to acknowledge his authority.

When Coronal returned with accounts of Roldan's contumacy, the Adelantado
proclaimed him and his followers traitors. That shrewd rebel, however, did
not suffer his men to remain within either the seduction of promise or the
terror of menace; he immediately set out on his march for his promised
land of Xaragua, trusting to impair every honest principle and virtuous
tie of his misguided followers by a life of indolence and libertinage.

In the meantime the mischievous effects of his intrigues among the
caciques became more and more apparent. No sooner had the Adelantado left
Fort Conception, than a conspiracy was formed among the natives to
surprise it. Guarionex was at the head of this conspiracy, moved by the
instigations of Roldan, who had promised him protection and assistance,
and led on by the forlorn hope, in this distracted state of the Spanish
forces, of relieving his paternal domains from the intolerable domination
of usurping strangers. Holding secret communications with his tributary
caciques, it was concerted that they should all rise simultaneously and
massacre the soldiery, quartered in small parties in their villages; while
he, with a chosen force, should surprise the fortress of Conception. The
night of the full moon was fixed upon for the insurrection.

One of the principal caciques, however, not being a correct observer of
the heavenly bodies, took up arms before the appointed night, and was
repulsed by the soldiers quartered in his village. The alarm was given,
and the Spaniards were all put on the alert. The cacique fled to Guarionex
for protection, but the chieftain, enraged at his fatal blunder, put him
to death upon the spot.

No sooner did the Adelantado hear of this fresh conspiracy, than he put
himself on the march for the Vega with a strong body of men. Guarionex did
not await his coming. He saw that every attempt was fruitless to shake off
these strangers, who had settled like a curse upon his territories. He had
found their very friendship withering and destructive, and he now dreaded
their vengeance. Abandoning, therefore, his rightful domain, the once
happy Vega, he fled with his family and a small band of faithful followers
to the mountains of Ciguay. This is a lofty chain, extending along the
north side of the island, between the Vega and the sea. The inhabitants
were the most robust and hardy tribe of the island, and far more
formidable than the mild inhabitants of the plains. It was a part of this
tribe which displayed hostility to the Spaniards in the course of the
first voyage of Columbus, and in a skirmish with them in the Gulf of
Semana the first drop of native blood had been shed in the New World. The
reader may remember the frank and confiding conduct of these people the
day after the skirmish, and the intrepid faith with which their cacique
trusted himself on board of the caravel of the admiral, and in the power
of the Spaniards. It was to this same cacique, named Mayobanex, that the
fugitive chieftain of the Vega now applied for refuge. He came to his
residence at an Indian town near Cape Cabron, about forty leagues east of
Isabella, and implored shelter for his wife and children, and his handful
of loyal followers. The noble-minded cacique of the mountains received him
with open arms. He not only gave an asylum to his family, but engaged to
stand by him in his distress, to defend his cause, and share his desperate
fortunes. [29]Men in civilized life learn magnanimity from precept,
but their most generous actions are often rivaled by the deeds of
untutored savages, who act only from natural impulse.

Chapter VII.

Campaign of the Adelantado in the Mountains of Ciguay.


Aided by his mountain ally, and by bands of hardy Ciguayans, Guarionex
made several descents into the plain, cutting off straggling parties of
the Spaniards, laying waste the villages of the natives which continued in
allegiance to them, and destroying the fruits of the earth. The Adelantado
put a speedy stop to these molestations; but he determined to root out so
formidable an adversary from the neighborhood. Shrinking from no danger
nor fatigue, and leaving nothing to be done by others which he could do
himself, he set forth in the spring with a band of ninety men, a few
cavalry, and a body of Indians, to penetrate the Ciguay mountains.

After passing a steep defile, rendered almost impracticable for troops by
rugged rocks and exuberant vegetation, he descended into a beautiful
valley or plain, extending along the coast, and embraced by arms of the
mountains which approached the sea. His advance into the country was
watched by the keen eyes of Indian scouts who lurked among rocks and
thickets. As the Spaniards were seeking the ford of a river at the
entrance of the plain, two of these spies darted from among the bushes on
its bank. One flung himself headlong into the water, and swimming across
the mouth of the river escaped; the other being taken, gave information
that six thousand Indians lay in ambush on the opposite shore, waiting to
attack them as they crossed.

The Adelantado advanced with caution, and finding a shallow place, entered
the river with his troops. They were scarcely midway in the stream when
the savages, hideously painted, and looking more like fiends than men,
burst from their concealment. The forest rang with their yells and
howlings. They discharged a shower of arrows and lances, by which,
notwithstanding the protection of their targets, many of the Spaniards
were wounded. The Adelantado, however, forced his way across the river,
and the Indians took to flight. Some were killed, but their swiftness of
foot, their knowledge of the forest, and their dexterity in winding
through the most tangled thickets, enabled the greater number to elude the
pursuit of the Spaniards, who were encumbered with armor, targets,
crossbows, and lances.

By the advice of one of his Indian guides, the Adelantado pressed forward
along the valley to reach the residence of Mayobanex, at Cabron. In the
way he had several skirmishes with the natives, who would suddenly rush
forth with furious war-cries from ambuscades among the bushes, discharge
their weapons, and take refuge again in the fastnesses of their rocks and
forests, inaccessible to the Spaniards.

Having taken several prisoners, the Adelantado sent one accompanied by an
Indian of a friendly tribe, as a messenger to Mayobanex, demanding the
surrender of Guarionex; promising friendship and protection in case of
compliance, but threatening, in case of refusal, to lay waste his
territory with fire and sword. The cacique listened attentively to the
messenger: "Tell the Spaniards," said he in reply, "that they are bad men,
cruel and tyrannical; usurpers of the territories of others, and shedders
of innocent blood. I desire not the friendship of such men; Guarionex is a
good man, he is my friend, he is my guest, he has fled to me for refuge, I
have promised to protect him, and I will keep my word."

This magnanimous reply, or rather defiance, convinced the Adelantado that
nothing was to be gained by friendly overtures. When severity was
required, he could be a stern soldier. He immediately ordered the village
in which he had been quartered, and several others in the neighborhood, to
be set on fire. He then sent further messengers to Mayobanex, warning him
that, unless he delivered up the fugitive cacique, his whole dominions
should be laid waste in like manner; and he would see nothing in every
direction but the smoke and flames of burning villages. Alarmed at this
impending destruction, the Ciguayans surrounded their chieftain with
clamorous lamentations, cursing the day that Guarionex had taken refuge
among them, and urging that he should be given up for the salvation of the
country. The generous cacique was inflexible. He reminded them of the many
virtues of Guarionex, and the sacred claims he had on their hospitality,
and declared he would abide all evils, rather than it should ever be said
Mayobanex had betrayed his guest.

The people retired with sorrowful hearts, and the chieftain, summoning
Guarionex into his presence, again pledged his word to protect him, though
it should cost him his dominions. He sent no reply to the Adelantado, and
lest further messages might tempt the fidelity of his subjects, he placed
men in ambush, with orders to slay any messenger who might approach. They
had not lain in wait long, before they beheld two men advancing through
the forest, one of whom was a captive Ciguayan, and the other an Indian
ally of the Spaniards. They were both instantly slain. The Adelantado was
following at no great distance, with only ten foot-soldiers and four
horsemen. When he found his messengers lying dead in the forest path,
transfixed with arrows, he was greatly exasperated, and resolved to deal
rigorously with this obstinate tribe. He advanced, therefore, with all his
force to Cabron, where Mayobanex and his army were quartered. At his
approach the inferior caciques and their adherents fled, overcome by
terror of the Spaniards. Finding himself thus deserted, Mayobanex took
refuge with his family in a secret part of the mountains. Several of the
Ciguayans sought for Guarionex, to kill him or deliver him up as a
propitiatory offering, but he fled to the heights, where he wandered about
alone, in the most savage and desolate places.

The density of the forests and the ruggedness of the mountains rendered
this expedition excessively painful and laborious, and protracted it far
beyond the time that the Adelantado had contemplated. His men suffered,
not merely from fatigue, but hunger. The natives had all fled to the
mountains; their villages remained empty and desolate; all the provisions
of the Spaniards consisted of cassava bread, and such roots and herbs as
their Indian allies could gather for them, with now and then a few utias
taken with the assistance of their dogs. They slept almost always on the
ground, in the open air, under the trees, exposed to the heavy dew which
falls in this climate. For three months they were thus ranging the
mountains, until almost worn out with toil and hard fare. Many of them had
farms in the neighborhood of Fort Conception, which required their
attention; they, therefore, entreated permission, since the Indians were
terrified and dispersed, to return to their abodes in the Vega.

The Adelantado granted many of them passports and an allowance out of the
scanty stock of bread which remained. Retaining only thirty men, he
resolved with these to search every den and cavern of the mountains until
he should find the two caciques. It was difficult, however, to trace them
in such a wilderness. There was no one to give a clue to their retreat,
for the whole country was abandoned. There were the habitations of men,
but not a human being to be seen; or if, by chance, they caught some
wretched Indian stealing forth from the mountains in quest of food, he
always professed utter ignorance of the hiding-place of the caciques.

It happened one day, however, that several Spaniards, while hunting utias,
captured two of the followers of Mayobanex, who were on their way to a
distant village in search of bread. They were taken to the Adelantado, who
compelled them to betray the place of concealment of their chieftain, and
to act as guides. Twelve Spaniards volunteered to go in quest of him.
Stripping themselves naked, staining and painting their bodies so as to
look like Indians, and covering their swords with palm-leaves, they were
conducted by the guides to the retreat of the unfortunate Mayobanex. They
came secretly upon him, and found him surrounded by his wife and children
and a few of his household, totally unsuspicious of danger. Drawing their
swords, the Spaniards rushed upon them, and made them all prisoners. When
they were brought to the Adelantado, he gave up all further search after
Guarionex, and returned to Fort Conception.

Among the prisoners thus taken was the sister of Mayobanex. She was the
wife of another cacique of the mountains, whose territories had never yet
been visited by the Spaniards; and she was reputed to be one of the most
beautiful women of the island. Tenderly attached to her brother, she had
abandoned the security of her own dominions, and had followed him among
rocks and precipices, participating in all his hardships, and comforting
him with a woman's sympathy and kindness. When her husband heard of her
captivity, he hastened to the Adelantado and offered to submit himself and
all his possessions to his sway, if his wife might be restored to him. The
Adelantado accepted his offer of allegiance, and released his wife and
several of his subjects who had been captured. The cacique, faithful to
his word, became a firm and valuable ally of the Spaniards, cultivating
large tracts of land, and supplying them with great quantities of bread
and other provisions.

Kindness appears never to have been lost upon the people of this island.
When this act of clemency reached the Ciguayans, they came in multitudes
to the fortress, bringing presents of various kinds, promising allegiance,
and imploring the release of Mayobanex and his family. The Adelantado
granted their prayers in part, releasing the wife and household of the
cacique, but still detaining him prisoner to insure the fidelity of his

In the meantime the unfortunate Guarionex, who had been hiding in the
wildest parts of the mountains, was driven by hunger to venture down
occasionally into the plain in quest of food. The Ciguayans looking upon
him as the cause of their misfortunes, and perhaps hoping by his sacrifice
to procure the release of their chieftain, betrayed his haunts to the
Adelantado. A party was dispatched to secure him. They lay in wait in the
path by which he usually returned to the mountains. As the unhappy
cacique, after one of his famished excursions, was returning to his den
among the cliffs, he was surprised by the lurking Spaniards, and brought
in chains to Fort Conception. After his repeated insurrections, and the
extraordinary zeal and perseverance displayed in his pursuit, Guarionex
expected nothing less than death from the vengeance of the Adelantado. Don
Bartholomew, however, though stern in his policy, was neither vindictive
nor cruel in his nature. He considered the tranquillity of the Vega
sufficiently secured by the captivity of the cacique; and ordered him to
be detained a prisoner and hostage in the fortress. The Indian hostilities
in this important part of the island being thus brought to a conclusion,
and precautions taken to prevent their recurrence, Don Bartholomew
returned to the city of San Domingo, where, shortly after his arrival, he
had the happiness of receiving his brother, the admiral, after nearly two
years and six months' absence. [30]

Such was the active, intrepid, and sagacious, but turbulent and disastrous
administration of the Adelantado, in which we find evidences of the great
capacity, the mental and bodily vigor of this self-formed and almost
self-taught man. He united, in a singular degree, the sailor, the soldier,
and the legislator. Like his brother, the admiral, his mind and manners
rose immediately to the level of his situation, showing no arrogance nor
ostentation, and exercising the sway of sudden and extraordinary power
with the sobriety and moderation of one who had been born to rule. He has
been accused of severity in his government, but no instance appears of a
cruel or wanton abuse of authority. If he was stern towards the factious
Spaniards, he was just; the disasters of his administration were not
produced by his own rigor, but by the perverse passions of others, which
called for its exercise; and the admiral, who had more suavity of manner
and benevolence of heart, was not more fortunate in conciliating the good
will, and insuring the obedience of the colonists. The merits of Don
Bartholomew do not appear to have been sufficiently appreciated by the
world. His portrait has been suffered to remain too much in the shade; it
is worthy of being brought into the light, as a companion to that of his
illustrious brother. Less amiable and engaging, perhaps, in its
lineaments, and less characterized by magnanimity, its traits are
nevertheless bold, generous, and heroic, and stamped with iron firmness.

Book XII.

Chapter I.

Confusion in the Island.--Proceedings of the Rebels at Xaragua.

[August 30, 1498.]

Columbus arrived at San Domingo, wearied by a long and arduous voyage, and
worn down by infirmities; both mind and body craved repose, but from the
time he first entered into public life, he had been doomed never again to
taste the sweets of tranquillity. The island of Hispaniola, the favorite
child as it were of his hopes, was destined to involve him in perpetual
troubles, to fetter his fortunes, impede his enterprises, and imbitter the
conclusion of his life. What a scene of poverty and suffering had this
opulent and lovely island been rendered by the bad passions of a few
despicable men! The wars with the natives and the seditions among the
colonists had put a stop to the labors of the mines, and all hopes of
wealth were at an end. The horrors of famine had succeeded to those of
war. The cultivation of the earth had been generally neglected; several of
the provinces had been desolated during the late troubles; a great part of
the Indians had fled to the mountains, and those who remained had lost all
heart to labor, seeing the produce of their toils liable to be wrested
from them by ruthless strangers. It is true, the Vega was once more
tranquil, but it was a desolate tranquillity. That beautiful region, which
the Spaniards but four years before had found so populous and happy,
seeming to inclose in its luxuriant bosom all the sweets of nature, and to
exclude all the cares and sorrows of the world, was now a scene of
wretchedness and repining. Many of those Indian towns, where the Spaniards
had been detained by genial hospitality, and almost worshiped as
beneficent deities, were now silent and deserted. Some of their late
inhabitants were lurking among rocks and caverns; some were reduced to
slavery; many had perished with hunger, and many had fallen by the sword.
It seems almost incredible, that so small a number of men, restrained too
by well-meaning governors, could in so short a space of time have produced
such wide-spreading miseries. But the principles of evil have a fatal
activity. With every exertion, the best of men can do but a moderate
amount of good; but it seems in the power of the most contemptible
individual to do incalculable mischief.

The evil passions of the white men, which had inflicted such calamities
upon this innocent people, had insured likewise a merited return of
suffering to themselves. In no part was this more truly exemplified than
among the inhabitants of Isabella, the most idle, factious, and dissolute
of the island. The public works were unfinished; the gardens and fields
they had begun to cultivate lay neglected: they had driven the natives
from their vicinity by extortion and cruelty, and had rendered the country
around them a solitary wilderness. Too idle to labor, and destitute of any
resources with which to occupy their indolence, they quarrelled among
themselves, mutinied against their rulers, and wasted their time in
alternate riot and despondency. Many of the soldiery quartered about the
island had suffered from ill health during the late troubles, being shut
up in Indian villages where they could take no exercise, and obliged to
subsist on food to which they could not accustom themselves. Those
actively employed had been worn down by hard service, long marches, and
scanty food. Many of them were broken in constitution, and many had
perished by disease. There was a universal desire to leave the island, and
escape from miseries created by themselves. Yet this was the favored and
fruitful land to which the eyes of philosophers and poets in Europe were
fondly turned, as realizing the pictures of the golden age. So true it is,
that the fairest Elysium fancy ever devised would be turned into a
purgatory by the passions of bad men!

One of the first measures of Columbus on his arrival was to issue a
proclamation approving of all the measures of the Adelantado, and
denouncing Roldan and his associates. That turbulent man had taken
possession of Xaragua, and been kindly received by the natives. He had
permitted his followers to lead an idle and licentious life among its
beautiful scenes, making the surrounding country and its inhabitants
subservient to their pleasures and their passions. An event happened
previous to their knowledge of the arrival of Columbus, which threw
supplies into their hands, and strengthened their power. As they were one
day loitering on the sea-shore, they beheld three caravels at a distance,
the sight of which, in this unfrequented part of the ocean, filled them
with wonder and alarm. The ships approached the land, and came to anchor.
The rebels apprehended at first they were vessels dispatched in pursuit of
them. Roldan, however, who was sagacious as he was bold, surmised them to
be ships which had wandered from their course, and been borne to the
westward by the currents, and that they must be ignorant of the recent
occurrences of the island. Enjoining secrecy on his men, he went on board,
pretending to be stationed in that neighborhood for the purpose of keeping
the natives in obedience, and collecting tribute. His conjectures as to
the vessels were correct. They were, in fact, the three caravels detached
by Columbus from his squadron at the Canary Islands, to bring supplies to
the colonies. The captains, ignorant of the strength of the currents,
which set through the Caribbean Sea, had been carried west far beyond
their reckoning, until they had wandered to the coast of Xaragua.

Roldan kept his secret closely for three days. Being considered a man in
important trust and authority, the captains did not hesitate to grant all
his requests for supplies. He procured swords, lances, cross-bows, and
various military stores; while his men, dispersed through the three
vessels, were busy among the crews, secretly making partisans,
representing the hard life of the colonists at San Domingo, and the ease
and revelry in which they passed their time at Xaragua. Many of the crews
had been shipped in compliance with the admiral's ill-judged proposition,
to commute criminal punishments into transportation to the colony. They
were vagabonds, the refuse of Spanish towns, and culprits from Spanish
dungeons; the very men, therefore, to be wrought upon by such
representations, and they promised to desert on the first opportunity and
join the rebels.

It was not until the third day, that Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, the most
intelligent of the three captains, discovered the real character of the
guests he had admitted so freely on board of his vessels. It was then too
late; the mischief was effected. He and his fellow captains had many
earnest conversations with Roldan, endeavoring to persuade him from his
dangerous opposition to the regular authority. The certainty that Columbus
was actually on his way to the island, with additional forces, and
augmented authority, had operated strongly on his mind. He had, as has
already been intimated, prepared his friends at San Domingo to plead his
cause with the admiral, assuring him that he had only acted in opposition
to the injustice and oppression of the Adelantado, but was ready to submit
to Columbus on his arrival. Carvajal perceived that the resolution of
Roldan and of several of his principal confederates was shaken, and
flattered himself, that, if he were to remain some little time among the
rebels, he might succeed in drawing them back to their duty. Contrary winds
rendered it impossible for the ships to work up against the currents to
San Domingo. It was arranged among the captains, therefore, that a large
number of the people on board, artificers and others most important to the
service of the colony, should proceed to the settlement by land. They were
to be conducted by Juan Antonio Colombo, captain of one of the caravels, a
relative of the admiral, and zealously devoted to his interests. Arana was
to proceed with the ships, when the wind would permit, and Carvajal
volunteered to remain on shore, to endeavor to bring the rebels to their

On the following morning, Juan Antonio Colombo landed with forty men well
armed with cross-bows, swords, and lances, but was astonished to find
himself suddenly deserted by all his party excepting eight. The deserters
went off to the rebels, who received with exultation this important
reinforcement of kindred spirits. Juan Antonio endeavored in vain by
remonstrances and threats to bring them back to their duty. They were most
of them convicted culprits, accustomed to detest order, and to set law at
defiance. It was equally in vain that he appealed to Roldan, and reminded
him of his professions of loyalty to the government. The latter replied
that he had no means of enforcing obedience; his was a mere "Monastery of
Observation," where every one was at liberty to adopt the habit of the
order. Such was the first of a long train of evils, which sprang from this
most ill-judged expedient of peopling a colony with criminals, and thus
mingling vice and villany with the fountain-head of its population.

Juan Antonio, grieved and disconcerted, returned on board with the few who
remained faithful. Fearing further desertions, the two captains
immediately put to sea, leaving Carvajal on shore, to prosecute his
attempt at reforming the rebels. It was not without great difficulty and
delay that the vessels reached San Domingo; the ship of Carvajal having
struck on a sand-bank, and sustained great injury. By the time of their
arrival, the greater part of the provisions with which they had been
freighted was either exhausted or damaged. Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal
arrived shortly afterwards by land, having been escorted to within six
leagues of the place by several of the insurgents, to protect him from the
Indians. He failed in his attempt to persuade the band to immediate
submission; but Roldan had promised that the moment he heard of the
arrival of Columbus, he would repair to the neighborhood of San Domingo,
to be at hand to state his grievances, and the reasons of his past
conduct, and to enter into a negotiation for the adjustment of all
differences. Carvajal brought a letter from him to the admiral to the same
purport; and expressed a confident opinion, from all that he observed of
the rebels, that they might easily be brought back to their allegiance by
an assurance of amnesty. [31]

Chapter II.

Negotiation of the Admiral with the Rebels.--Departure of Ships for Spain.


Notwithstanding the favorable representations of Carvajal, Columbus was
greatly troubled by the late event at Xaragua. He saw that the insolence
of the rebels, and their confidence in their strength, must be greatly
increased by the accession of such a large number of well-armed and
desperate confederates. The proposition of Roldan to approach to the
neighborhood of San Domingo, startled him. He doubted the sincerity of his
professions, and apprehended great evils and dangers from so artful,
daring, and turbulent a leader, with a rash and devoted crew at his
command. The example of this lawless horde, roving at large about the
island, and living in loose revel and open profligacy, could not but have
a dangerous effect upon the colonists newly arrived; and when they were
close at hand, to carry on secret intrigues, and to hold out a camp of
refuge to all malcontents, the loyalty of the whole colony might be sapped
and undermined.

Some measures were immediately necessary to fortify the fidelity of the
people against such seductions. He was aware of a vehement desire among
many to return to Spain; and of an assertion industriously propagated by
the seditious, that he and his brothers wished to detain the colonists on
the island through motives of self-interest. On the 12th of September,
therefore, he issued a proclamation, offering free passage and provisions
for the voyage to all who wished to return to Spain, in five vessels
nearly ready to put to sea. He hoped by this means to relieve the colony
from the idle and disaffected; to weaken the party of Roldan, and to
retain none about him but such as were sound-hearted and well-disposed.

He wrote at the same time to Miguel Ballester, the staunch and well-tried
veteran who commanded the fortress of Conception, advising him to be upon
his guard, as the rebels were coining into his neighborhood. He empowered
him also to have an interview with Roldan; to offer him pardon and
oblivion of the past, on condition of his immediate return to duty; and to
invite him to repair to San Domingo to have an interview with the admiral,
under a solemn, and, if required, a written assurance from the latter, of
personal safety. Columbus was sincere in his intentions. He was of a
benevolent and placable disposition, and singularly free from all
vindictive feelings towards the many worthless and wicked men who heaped
sorrow on his head.

Ballester had scarcely received this letter, when the rebels began to
arrive at the village of Bonao. This was situated in a beautiful valley,
or Vega, bearing the same name, about ten leagues from Fort Conception,
and about twenty from San Domingo, in a well-peopled and abundant country.
Here Pedro Riquelme, one of the ringleaders of the sedition, had large
possessions, and his residence became the headquarters of the rebels.
Adrian de Moxica, a man of turbulent and mischievous character, brought
his detachment of dissolute ruffians to this place of rendezvous. Roldan
and others of the conspirators drew together there by different routes.

No sooner did the veteran Miguel Ballester hear of the arrival of Roldan,
than he set forth to meet him. Ballester was a venerable man, gray-headed,
and of a soldier-like demeanor. Loyal, frank, and virtuous, of a serious
disposition, and great simplicity of heart, he was well chosen as a
mediator with rash and profligate men; being calculated to calm their
passions by his sobriety; to disarm their petulance by his age; to win
their confidence by his artless probity; and to awe their licentiousness
by his spotless virtue. [32]

Ballester found Roldan in company with Pedro Riquelme, Pedro de Gamez, and
Adrian de Moxica, three of his principal confederates. Flushed with a
confidence of his present strength, Roldan treated the proffered pardon
with contempt, declaring that he did not come there to treat of peace, but
to demand the release of certain Indians captured unjustifiably, and about
to be shipped to Spain as slaves, notwithstanding that he, in his capacity
of alcalde mayor, had pledged his word for their protection. He declared
that, until these Indians were given up, he would listen to no terms of
compact; throwing out an insolent intimation at the same time, that he
held the admiral and his fortunes in his hand, to make and mar them as he

The Indians he alluded to were certain subjects of Guarionex, who had been
incited by Roldan to resist the exaction of tribute, and who, under the
sanction of his supposed authority, had engaged in the insurrections of
the Vega. Roldan knew that the enslavement of the Indians was an unpopular
feature in the government of the island, especially with the queen; and
the artful character of this man is evinced in his giving his opposition
to Columbus the appearance of a vindication of the rights of the suffering
islanders. Other demands were made of a highly insolent nature, and the
rebels declared that, in all further negotiations, they would treat with
no other intermediate agent than Carvajal, having had proofs of his
fairness and impartiality in the course of their late communications with
him at Xaragua.

This arrogant reply to his proffer of pardon was totally different from
what the admiral had been led to expect, and placed him in an embarrassing
situation. He seemed surrounded by treachery and falsehood. He knew that
Roldan had friends and secret partisans even among those who professed to
remain faithful; and he knew not how far the ramifications of the
conspiracy might extend. A circumstance soon occurred to show the justice
of his apprehensions. He ordered the men of San Domingo to appear under
arms, that he might ascertain the force with which he could take the field
in case of necessity. A report was, immediately circulated that they were
to be led to Bonao, against the rebels. Not above seventy men appeared
under arms, and of these not forty were to be relied upon. One affected to
be lame, another ill; some had relations, and others had friends among the
followers of Roldan: almost all were disaffected to the service.

Columbus saw that a resort to arms would betray his own weakness and the
power of the rebels, and completely prostrate the dignity and authority of
government. It was necessary to temporize, therefore, however humiliating
such conduct might be deemed. He had detained the five ships for eighteen
days in port, hoping in some way to have put an end to this rebellion, so
as to send home favorable accounts of the island to the sovereigns. The
provisions of the ships, however, were wasting. The Indian prisoners on
board were suffering and perishing; several of them threw themselves
overboard, or were suffocated with heat in the holds of the vessels. He
was anxious, also, that as many of the discontented colonists as possible
should make sail for Spain before any commotion should take place.

On the 18th of October, therefore, the ships put to sea. [34] Columbus
wrote to the sovereigns an account of the rebellion, and of his proffered
pardon being refused. As Roldan pretended that it was a mere quarrel
between him and the Adelantado, of which the admiral was not an impartial
judge, the latter entreated that Roldan might be summoned to Spain, where
the sovereigns might be his judges; or that an investigation might take
place in presence of Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, who was friendly to
Roldan, and of Miguel Ballester, as witness on the part of the Adelantado.
He attributed, in a great measure, the troubles of this island to his own
long detention in Spain, and the delays thrown in his way by those
appointed to assist him, who had retarded the departure of the ships with
supplies, until the colony had been reduced to the greatest scarcity.
Hence had arisen discontent, murmuring, and finally rebellion. He
entreated the sovereigns, in the most pressing manner, that the affairs of
the colony might not be neglected, and those at Seville, who had charge of
its concerns, might be instructed at least not to devise impediments
instead of assistance. He alluded to his chastisement of the contemptible
Ximeno Breviesca, the insolent minion of Fonseca, and entreated that
neither that nor any other circumstance might be allowed to prejudice him
in the royal favor, through the misrepresentations of designing men. He
assured them that the natural resources of the island required nothing but
good management to supply all the wants of the colonists; but that the
latter were indolent and profligate. He proposed to send home, by every
ship, as in the present instance, a number of the discontented and
worthless, to be replaced by sober and industrious men. He begged also
that ecclesiastics might be sent out for the instruction and conversion of
the Indians; and, what was equally necessary, for the reformation of the
dissolute Spaniards. He required also a man learned in the law, to
officiate as judge over the island, together with several officers of the
royal revenue. Nothing could surpass the soundness and policy of these
suggestions; but unfortunately one clause marred the moral beauty of this
excellent letter. He requested that for two years longer the Spaniards
might be permitted to employ the Indians as slaves; only making use of
such, however, as were captured in wars and insurrections. Columbus had
the usage of the age in excuse for this suggestion; but it is at variance
with his usual benignity of feeling, and his paternal conduct towards
these unfortunate people.

At the same time he wrote another letter, giving an account of his recent
voyage, accompanied by a chart, and by specimens of the gold, and
particularly of the pearls found in the Gulf of Paria. He called especial
attention to the latter as being the first specimens of pearls found in
the New World. It was in this letter that he described the newly-discovered
continent in such enthusiastic terms, as the most favored part of the east,
the source of inexhaustible treasures, the supposed seat of the terrestrial
Paradise; and he promised to prosecute the discovery of its glorious realms
with the three remaining ships, as soon as the affairs of the island should

By this opportunity, Roldan and his friends likewise sent letters to
Spain, endeavoring to justify their rebellion by charging Columbus and his
brothers with oppression and injustice, and painting their whole conduct
in the blackest colors. It would naturally be supposed that the
representations of such men would have little weight in the balance
against the tried merits and exalted services of Columbus: but they had
numerous friends and relatives in Spain; they had the popular prejudice on
their side, and there were designing persons in the confidence of the
sovereigns ready to advocate their cause. Columbus, to use his own simple
but affecting words was "absent, envied, and a stranger." [35]

Chapter III.

Negotiations and Arrangements with the Rebels.


The ships being dispatched, Columbus resumed his negotiation with the
rebels; determined at any sacrifice to put an end to a sedition which
distracted the island and interrupted all his plans of discovery. His
three remaining ships lay idle in the harbor, though a region of
apparently boundless wealth was to be explored. He had intended to send
his brother on the discovery, but the active and military spirit of the
Adelantado rendered his presence indispensable, in case the rebels should
come to violence. Such were the difficulties encountered at every step of
his generous and magnanimous enterprises; impeded at one time by the
insidious intrigues of crafty men in place, and checked at another by the
insolent turbulence of a handful of ruffians.

In his consultations with the most important persons about him, Columbus
found that much of the popular discontent was attributed to the strict
rule of his brother, who was accused of dealing out justice with a
rigorous hand. Las Casas, however, who saw the whole of the testimony
collected from various sources with respect to the conduct of the
Adelantado, acquits him of all charges of the kind, and affirms that, with
respect to Roldan in particular, he had exerted great forbearance. Be this
as it may, Columbus now, by the advice of his counselors, resolved to try
the alternative of extreme lenity. He wrote a letter to Roldan, dated the
20th of October, couched in the most conciliating terms, calling to mind
past kindnesses, and expressing deep concern for the feud existing between
him and the Adelantado. He entreated him, for the common good, and for the
sake of his own reputation, which stood well with the sovereigns, not to
persist in his present insubordination, and repeated the assurance, that
he and his companions might come to him, under the faith of his word for
the inviolability of their persons.

There was a difficulty as to who should be the bearer of this letter. The
rebels had declared that they would receive no one as mediator but Alonzo
Sanchez de Carvajal. Strong doubts, however, existed in the minds of those
about Columbus as to the integrity of that officer. They observed that he
had suffered Roldan to remain two days on board of his caravel at Xaragua;
had furnished him with weapons and stores; had neglected to detain him on
board, when he knew him to be a rebel; had not exerted himself to retake
the deserters; had been escorted on his way to San Domingo by the rebels,
and had sent refreshments to them at Bonao. It was alleged, moreover, that
he had given himself out as a colleague of Columbus, appointed by
government to have a watch and control over his conduct. It was suggested,
that, in advising the rebels to approach San Domingo, he had intended, in
case the admiral did not arrive, to unite his pretended authority as
colleague, to that of Roldan, as chief judge, and to seize upon the reins
of government. Finally, the desire of the rebels to have him sent to them
as an agent, was cited as proof that he was to join them as a leader, and
that the standard of rebellion was to be hoisted at Bonao. [36] These
circumstances, for some time, perplexed Columbus: but he reflected that
Carvajal, as far as he had observed his conduct, had behaved like a man of
integrity; most of the circumstances alleged against him admitted of a
construction in his favor; the rest were mere rumors, and he had
unfortunately experienced, in his own case, how easily the fairest
actions, and the fairest characters, may be falsified by rumor. He
discarded, therefore, all suspicion, and determined to confide implicitly
in Carvajal; nor had he ever any reason to repent of his confidence.

The admiral had scarcely dispatched this letter, when he received one from
the leaders of the rebels, written several days previously. In this they
not merely vindicated themselves from the charge of rebellion, but claimed
great merit, as having dissuaded their followers from a resolution to kill
the Adelantado, in revenge of his oppressions, prevailing upon them to
await patiently for redress from the admiral. A month had elapsed since
his arrival, during which they had waited anxiously for his orders, but he
had manifested nothing but irritation against them. Considerations of
honor and safety, therefore, obliged them to withdraw from his service,
and they accordingly demanded their discharge. This letter was dated from
Bonao, the 17th of October, and signed by Francisco Roldan, Adrian de
Moxica, Pedro de Gamez, and Diego de Escobar. [37]

In the meantime, Carvajal arrived at Bonao, accompanied by Miguel
Ballester. They found the rebels full of arrogance and presumption. The
conciliating letter of the admiral, however, enforced by the earnest
persuasions of Carvajal, and the admonitions of the veteran Ballester, had
a favorable effect on several of the leaders, who had more intellect than
their brutal followers. Roldan, Gamez, Escobar, and two or three others,
actually mounted their horses to repair to the admiral, but were detained
by the clamorous opposition of their men; too infatuated with their idle,
licentious mode of life, to relish the idea of a return to labor and
discipline. These insisted that it was a matter which concerned them all;
whatever arrangement was to be made, therefore, should be made in public,
in writing, and subject to their approbation or dissent. A day or two
elapsed before this clamor could be appeased. Roldan then wrote to the
admiral, that his followers objected to his coming, unless a written
assurance, or passport, were sent, protecting the persons of himself and
such as should accompany him. Miguel Ballester wrote, at the same time, to
the admiral, urging him to agree to whatever terms the rebels might
demand. He represented their forces as continually augmenting, the
soldiers of his garrison daily deserting to them; unless, therefore, some
compromise were speedily effected, and the rebels shipped off to Spain, he
feared that not merely the authority, but even the person of the admiral
would be in danger; for though the Hidalgos and the officers and servants
immediately about him would, doubtless, die in his service, the common
people were but little to be depended upon. [38]

Columbus felt the increasing urgency of the case, and sent the required
passport. Roldan came to San Domingo; but, from his conduct, it appeared
as if his object was to make partisans, and gain deserters, rather than to
effect a reconciliation. He had several conversations with the admiral,
and several letters passed between them. He made many complaints, and
numerous demands; Columbus made large concessions, but some of the
pretensions were too arrogant to be admitted. [39] Nothing definite was
arranged. Roldan departed under the pretext of conferring with his people,
promising to send his terms in writing. The admiral sent his Mayordomo,
Diego de Salamanca, to treat in his behalf. [40]

On the 6th of November, Roldan wrote a letter from Bonao, containing his
terms, and requesting that a reply might be sent to him to Conception, as
scarcity of provisions obliged him to leave Bonao. He added that he should
wait for a reply until the following Monday (the 11th). There was an
insolent menace implied in this note, accompanied as it was by insolent
demands. The admiral found it impossible to comply with the latter; but to
manifest his lenient disposition, and to take from the rebels all plea of
rigor, he had a proclamation affixed for thirty days at the gate of the
fortress, promising full indulgence and complete oblivion of the past to
Roldan and his followers, on condition of their presenting themselves
before him and returning to their allegiance to the crown within a month;
together with free conveyance for all such as wished to return to Spain;
but threatening to execute rigorous justice upon those who should not
appear within the limited time. A copy of this paper he sent to Roldan by
Carvajal, with a letter, stating the impossibility of compliance with his
terms, but offering to agree to any compact drawn up with the approbation
of Carvajal and Salamanca.

When Carvajal arrived, he found the veteran Ballester actually besieged in
his fortress of Conception by Roldan, under pretext of claiming, in his
official character of alcalde mayor, a culprit who had taken refuge there
from justice. He had cut off the supply of water from the fort, by way of
distressing it into a surrender. When Carvajal posted up the proclamation
of the admiral on the gate of the fortress, the rebels scoffed at the
proffered amnesty, saying that, in a little while, they would oblige the
admiral to ask the same at their hands. The earnest intercessions of
Carvajal, however, brought the leaders at length to reflection, and
through his mediation articles of capitulation were drawn up. By these it
was agreed that Roldan and his followers should embark for Spain from the
port of Xaragua in two ships, to be fitted out and victualed within fifty
days. That they should each receive from the admiral a certificate of good
conduct, and an order for the amount of their pay, up to the actual date.
That slaves should be given to them, as had been given to others, in
consideration of services performed; and as several of their company had
wives, natives of the island, who were pregnant, or had lately been
delivered, they might take them with them, if willing to go, in place of
the slaves. That satisfaction should be made for property of some of the
company which had been sequestrated, and for live-stock which had belonged
to Francisco Roldan. There were other conditions, providing for the
security of their persons: and it was stipulated that, if no reply were
received to these terms within eight days, the whole should be void.

This agreement was signed by Roldan and his companions at Fort Conception
on the 16th of November, and by the admiral at San Domingo on the 21st. At
the same time, he proclaimed a further act of grace, permitting such as
chose to remain in the island either to come to San Domingo, and enter
into the royal service, or to hold lands in any part of the island. They
preferred, however, to follow the fortunes of Roldan, who departed with
his band for Xaragua, to await the arrival of the ships, accompanied by
Miguel Ballester, sent by the admiral to superintend the preparations for
their embarkation.

Columbus was deeply grieved to have his projected enterprise to Terra
Firma impeded by such contemptible obstacles, and the ships which should
have borne his brother to explore that newly-found continent devoted to
the use of this turbulent and worthless rabble. He consoled himself,
however, with the reflection, that all the mischief which had so long been
lurking in the island, would thus be at once shipped off, and thenceforth
every thing restored to order and tranquillity. He ordered every exertion
to be made, therefore, to get the ships in readiness to be sent round to
Xaragua; but the scarcity of sea-stores, and the difficulty of completing
the arrangements for such a voyage in the disordered state of the colony,
delayed their departure far beyond the stipulated time. Feeling that he
had been compelled to a kind of deception towards the sovereigns, in the
certificate of good conduct given to Roldan and his followers, he wrote a
letter to them, stating the circumstances under which that certificate had
been in a manner wrung from him to save the island from utter confusion
and ruin. He represented the real character and conduct of those men; how
they had rebelled against his authority; prevented the Indians from paying
tribute; pillaged the island; possessed themselves of large quantities of
gold, and carried off the daughters of several of the caciques. He
advised, therefore, that they should be seized, and their slaves and
treasure taken from them, until their conduct could be properly
investigated. This letter he intrusted to a confidential person, who was
to go in one of the ships. [42]

The rebels having left the neighborhood, and the affairs of San Domingo
being in a state of security, Columbus put his brother Don Diego in
temporary command, and departed with the Adelantado on a tour of several
months to visit the various stations, and restore the island to order.

The two caravels destined for the use of the rebels sailed from San
Domingo for Xaragua about the end of February; but, encountering a violent
storm, were obliged to put into one of the harbors of the island, where
they were detained until the end of March. One was so disabled as to be
compelled to return to San Domingo. Another vessel was dispatched to
supply its place, in which the indefatigable Carvajal set sail, to
expedite the embarkation of the rebels. He was eleven days in making the
voyage, and found the other caravel at Xaragua.

The followers of Roldan had in the meantime changed their minds, and now
refused to embark; as usual, they threw all the blame on Columbus,
affirming that he had purposely delayed the ships far beyond the
stipulated time; that he had sent them in a state not sea-worthy, and
short of provisions, with many other charges, artfully founded on
circumstances over which they knew he could have no control. Carvajal made
a formal protest before a notary who had accompanied him, and finding that
the ships were suffering great injury from the teredo or worm, and their
provisions failing, he sent them back to San Domingo, and set out on his
return by land. Roldan accompanied him a little distance on horseback,
evidently disturbed in mind. He feared to return to Spain, yet was shrewd
enough to know the insecurity of his present situation at the head of a
band of dissolute men, acting in defiance of authority. What tie had he
upon their fidelity stronger than the sacred obligations which they had
violated? After riding thoughtfully for some distance, he paused, and
requested some private conversation with Carvajal before they parted. They
alighted under the shade of a tree. Here Roldan made further professions
of the loyalty of his intentions, and finally declared, that if the
admiral would once more send him a written security for his person, with
the guarantee also of the principal persons about him, he would come to
treat with him, and trusted that the whole matter would be arranged on
terms satisfactory to both parties. This offer, however, he added, must be

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