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the eastern boundary of Asia; and from hence arose the title of India. It was reserved for Vasco Nunez to cross the land, and first obtain a view of the great Southern Ocean. The islands, however, had been pretty well explored, and settlements made where there was any probability of obtaining the precious metal. Jamaica, though it did not produce gold, was, nevertheless, highly prized by Columbus, who preferred it to all the other parts, on account of the fertility of its soil and the beauty of its appearance. The sole property was afterward vested in him ; Don Diego, his son, becoming the first governor, under the title of Duke de la Vega. The riches which the new world poured into the bosom of the old, excited a spirit of enterprise, and numbers Alocked to the standards of those who promised to lead them where, with but little difficulty, they could obtain incalculable treasure. Every privation was endured, for the desire of acquiring gold overcame all difficulties and distress. Some pieces had been found of “ three hundred pounde weight," and one of “ three thousand three hundred and tenne pounde weight,” which was sent whole to the king : but, unfortunately, the vessel sank with her valuable cargo, and all hands perished. The shores of the continent were not long unoccupied by the Spaniards; and though they occasionally encountered severe checks from the natives, yet they strenuously persevered in their progressive advances toward colonization. The son of one of the kings in the province of Darien was esteemed a man of understanding, far beyond what might have been expected from the nature of his education among untutored Indians. Willing to please the Spaniards, he presented them with “ four thousand ounces of gold, artificially wrought, and also fifty slaves, which he had taken in the wars, for such either they sell for exchange of their things, or otherwise use them as them listeth, for they have not the use of money. This, with other gold amounting to as much more, they prepared to divide into shares ; but disagreeing in the distribution, great contention arose, which coming under the observation of the young chief, he advanced, with an angry countenance, toward the arbitrator, struck the balances from his hand, and scattered the gold about the ground, and then addressed them in terms of rebuke:
“ What is the matter, you Christian men, that you so greatly esteem so little portion of gold more than your own quietness; which, nevertheless, you intend to deface from these fair ounces, and to melt the same in a rude mass. If your hunger of gold be so insatiable that, only for the desire you have thereto, you disquiet so many nations, and you, yourselves, also sustain so many calamities and incommodities, lying, like banished men, out of your own country, 'I will shew you a region flowing with gold, where you may satisfy your ravening appetites: but you must attempt the thing with a greater power, for it standeth you in hand by force of arms to overcome kings of great puissance, and rigorous defenders of their dominions. For, beside other, the great king Tumanaina will come forth against you, whose kingdom is most rich with gold, and distant from hence only six suns, that is, six days; for they number the days by the sun."
He, likewise, informed them that a nation of " canibals, a fierce kind of men, devourers of man's flesh, living without laws, wandering, and without empire,” would oppose their progress, for they also were desirous of gold, and had subdued the original inhabitants in the vicinity of the mines, whom they had also compelled to labour in digging and working the metal into plates, and various images. These articles the cannibals exchanged with the surrounding nations for their various manufactures, and for “ prisoners taken in warre, which they buie to eat,” as the barrenness of their mountains supplied them with but very little food.
“ This journey, therefore, continued the prince, must be made open by force of men; and when you are passing over those mountains (pointing with his finger toward the south mountains), you shall see another sea, where they sail with ships, as big as yours (meaning the Caranels) using both sails and oars, as you do, although the men be naked, as we are. All the way the water runneth from the mountains, and all that side lying toward the south bringeth forth gold abundantly."
The Spaniards listened attentively to this relation, and the young prince offered to become their conductor, on condition that a thousand Christian men should unite with the warriors of his nation to rid them of their enemies. Thus were the valuable mines of Mexico first introduced to the notice of the Spaniards; and thus they gained intelligence of the existence of the Southern Ocean. The smallness of their number prevented them from commencing their march immediately; but Vasco Nunez placing reliance
on his own skill, and the eagerness of his followers to gather the promised harvest of wealth, collected an army of one hundred and ninety men, with which, and his dogs (for the Spaniards constantly employed blood-' hounds in their pursuit of the natives), he hoped to conquer all who opposed him. This, certainly, appears to have been not only a bold, but a desperate undertaking; yet, when it is considered that he placed great confidence in the constant wars between the different nations, and the readiness with which any one state would join the Spaniards against their immediate neighbours, together with the terror inspired by the fire-arms of the Europeans, it considerably lessens the dangers attendant on the enterprise. Nevertheless, the scheme shewed great ability and courage in the leader who planned and executed it; for, after extreme toil
, and enduring almost every species of distress, Vasco arrived at the summit of the mountains, and beheld the South Sea (it was in this voyage he discovered the colony of negroes). The view of the Southern Ocean was not gained, however, without several battles and the slaughter of many hundred Indians, for the poor creatures, as soon as they heard the noise of the hargabusies,' believed that the Spaniards carried thunder and lightning, which they were empowered to hurl at their foes, and instantly fled. In one battle, it is related
“Our men, following them in the chase, hewed them in pieces, as the butchers do flesh in the shambles ; from one, an arm ; from another, a leg; from him, a buttock; from another, a shoulder; and from some, the neck from the body, at one stroke. Thus, six hundred of them, with their king, were slain like brute beasts.”
Vasco appears to have been politic, notwithstanding, for he gained the friendship of most of the powerful chiefs, and they rendered him very great service in collecting gold and pearls. The immense treasure gathered on this occasion, and by so small a number of hands, is certainly surprising. The kings, with whose regions he did not interfere, contributed according to their power, sending dishes of pure gold, besides vast quantities, unwrought, accompanied with messages of thanks for having subdued the other kingdoms, and restored tranquillity to the land. Wherever they bent their footsteps, still gold poured in upon them ; and though, at times, destitute of food, and nearly perishing with hunger, yet they patiently endured every hardship, many of them even to death. Vasco returned to Darien after exhorting the Indians to persevere in their fidelity to the Christian monarch. His success procured him the notice and patronage of the court of Spain ; he had hitherto usurped his authority, but now it was officially conferred upon him, and he certainly appears to have been indefatigable in prosecuting discoveries and conquests, and had the talent of enforcing the most unlimited obedience. The cruelties practised on these occasions, for the purpose of striking terror into the inhabitants, were barbarous in the extreme ; nor did they fail in their effects, for the simple natives viewed the leader as a being expressly endowed with supernatural power to scourge the earth. "Some were burned to death ; others torn to pieces by the dogs. It is said, that the dogs ran
Upon the inhabitants, armed after their manner, with no less fierceness than if they were harts or wild boars, if the Spaniards do but only point toward them with their fingers ; insomuch, that, oftentimes, they have had no need to drive their enemies to flight with swords or arrows, but have done the same only with dogs, placed in the fore-part of their battle, and letting them slip with their watchword and privy token; whereupon, the barbarians, stricken with fear, by reason of the cruel countenances of their mastiffs, with their desperate boldness, and unaccustomed howling and barking, have disparckled at the first onset, and brake their array."
A breed of these animals is still preserved in the Spanish islands; and during the Maroon war, in the island of Jamaica 1795), many of them were procured from Cuba for the purpose of hunting down the negroes. Vasco, after subjugating the province of Darien and extending the authority of the Spaniards on all sides around him, was executed as a traitor to his prince, through the jealousy and villainy of an ambitious rival. The governors and leaders, who had tasted the sweets of the new world, frequently disputed the legality of the commission which was to deprive them of their authority ; and as each of them, during their sway, had formed a party for himself, by permitting peculation, and by conniving at the enormities committed against the Indians, a sharp contest generally took place, which terminated in the death of one or other of the chiefs, either in open war, or by means of private intrigue.
But to return to the adventures of the conqueror of Mexico:-Cortes had established a colony upon the coast, and he
“ Determined, in person, to understand what was reported of so great a king, as he had heard Montezuma was, and what rumour went of so huge and vast a city. Cortes' thoughts and purpose being understood, the inhabitants of Zempoall, bordering upon Montezuma, who, by violence, yielded him subjection, yet being deadly enemies unto him, consulting together, went unto Cortes, as the Hædui and Sequani, after the Helvetians were vanquished, came humbling themselves unto the emperor, for the insolent and outragious tyranny of Ariduistius, king of the Germans; so did the Zempoalenses complain of Montezuma, and much more grievously, in that, besides the heavy tributes of other provincial revenues, which they yearly give, they were compelled to give unto Montezuma slaves; and, for want of them, to give him some of their own children instead of tribute, to be sacrificed to their gods."
The Zempoalenses promised to give Cortes pledges of their fidelity, and to furnish him with auxiliary forces, consisting of the most valiant and courageous warriors, to subdue their oppressor and restore liberty to the provinces over which he exercised unlimited rule. Nor did they entertain a single doubt of the victory, because they thought that
Cortes and his consorts were sent from heaven," particu
larly, as they had, in a previous war with a neighbouring prince, given battle to and defeated forty thousand men. when their own numbers were not more than five hundred, In these engagements, the cavalry were of infinite use, for, as they advanced to the attack, the natives imagined the horse and his rider to be but one animal, and fled with terror from so dreadful a monster. Cortes departed from his colony of Vera Cruz with three hundred footmen, fifteen horsemen, and four hundred auxiliary Zempoalenses; but, previously to setting out, he commanded all his ships to be destroyed, under pretence that they were rotten, but, in reality, to prevent any hopes of safety from retreat. After a march of several days, through the territories of tributary chiefs, where they were well entertained, he entered the dominions of the Tascaltecanes, a warlike people, and deadly enemies to Montezuma as well as staunch defenders of their liberty. Cortes, with proper caution, sent two horsemen before the rest, who discovered an ambush of four thousand men, who were soon defeated without any loss on the part of the Spaniards, except two horses. On the following day, they were again drawn into ambush, and were attacked by about one hundred thousand men. The auxiliary troops behaved with great valour, and they fought with doubtful success, from an hour before noon until the evening; but the thunder of the artillery, and the destruction it caused, as well as the appearance of the horsemen, compelled the enemy to retreat. For this treachery Cortes swept the surrounding plains, dealing destruction wherever he came, burning the villages and slaughtering the inhabitants. But, at the first twilight, before morning, the Tascaltecans attacked the camp to the number of one hundred and fifty thousand men, and, after an encounter of four hours, were forced to take flight and return to their homes.
“ The enemy being put to flight, Cortes, like a tyger great with young, marcheth forth against these traitors, who, here and there, were now returned to their houses. So, wasting, destroying, taking or killing all he met, he came unto a town of 3,000 houses, (as they report), and above, all which he destroyed with fire and sword.”
His terrible vengeance filled them with dread, and they sued for peace; but, shortly after it was granted, fifty of the chief nobility came unarmed to the camp, under colour of friendship, to act as spies. The penetrating eye of Cortes, however, soon imagined the imposition, and sent them back to their prince, each with his right hand dismembered. Another attack was made by the Indians, which also failed; and Cortes, availing himself of the unprotected state of the city of Tascalteca,