صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

canals keep the fields green. Fruits are numerous and vegetables are not wanting. There are many towns and hamlets.

With the occupation of Guaccachiulla and the fall of Izzucca, the news that Fortune once more showed herself a tender mother to the Spaniards spread through the country. At this turn of her wheel the natives abandoned the people of Tcmistitan, and hastened to come back to Cortes. Messengers arrived from every direction, offering submission, saying that the only reason they had not sooner ventured to render the homage due to the great sovereign power the Spaniards possessed, was because they feared the reprisals of the Coluans and the great lords of Temistitan; but seeing that, thanks to their protection, there was nothing more to fear from the tyranny of the neighbouring caciques, they came to offer their submission.

It is time to bring this overlong narrative to an end. Some prisoners informed Cortes that after Muteczuma's death, his brother, Hastapalappa, had been named king at Temistitan, but after a reign of four months had died of a smallpox and had been succeeded by his sister's son, Catamazin'; of Muteczuma's three sons, the first had been killed at the bridges, during the retreat; the second was mad, and the third paralysed. Quauhtemotzin employed all his resources in collecting weapons, especially very long lances, with which it was hoped to strike the horses from a distance, for an attack by the cavalry is what they most fear. The new sovereign expected that Cortes would take the offensive, for he understood that all the neighbouring country was falling away from him and asking help from the Spaniards against himself.

In this he was not mistaken, for Cortes had ordered thirteen of those boats having two banks of oars, which are called brigantines, to be constructed, intending with them to ravage the country bordering the great salt lake. He hoped that when Temistitan was deprived of provisions and its water supply was cut off, the city would be reduced to the necessity of accepting the yoke of the King of Spain. Moreover, he sent four ships to Hispaniola to obtain horses, a sufficient number of musketeers, and a quantity of powder.

1Quauhtemotzin: the proper name of this ruler will be henceforth used in the text.

Cortes writes that this region, with its mountains, rivers, and valleys well grown with fruit trees, resembles Spain; and he therefore asks the Emperor to confirm the name, New Spain, which he has given to the part he has discovered. He likewise, at the close of his most important report, begs his Majesty to send a man eminent for his virtues and experience to visit and report upon the conquered country. This letter1 is dated the thirtieth day of October, 1520, and was written at the fortress he founded and named Segura de la Frontera.

1 This is the Second Letter of Relation. It was first published by Cromberger in Seville in 1522.

BOOK VII

WHILE these writings lay ready in my cabinet awaiting the absent secretaries from whom distance and insecure roads separate me, behold the pregnant ocean produces a new, recently born progeny. I shall therefore conclude this work with two appendices exceeding in interest anything preceding it. In the beginning I shall speak of the journey round the world, the discovery of the spice islands, and the most extraordinary and almost incredible events. In the second place I will state by what means, by what stratagems, force of arms, and courage Fernando Cortes, assisted by the Tascaltecans and the people of Guazuzingo and other peoples hostile to Muteczuma, captured the great city of Temistitan, annihilated and almost destroyed it from top to bottom. This conquest notably increases the number of states subject to Your Holiness, and especially the extent of the kingdoms of Great Castile.

I shall begin with the journey round the world and the description of the spiceries; but I must go back somewhat in my narrative. It was, if you remember, while the Emperor was presiding over the Cortes of Catalonia at Barcelona, and Your Holiness directed the affairs of our Imperial Indian Council, that the Portuguese, Ferdinand Magellan, who had quit the Portuguese service, was commissioned to visit the Moluccan archipelago, where spices grow. Magellan had, in fact, passed seven years at Cochin, Cananor, at Calicut in the Chersonesus, otherwise called Malacca, and was therefore acquainted with the position of these islands. They are not very far distant from the sea of Chersonesus, that is to say Malacca, and other markets.

Our Council, over which Your Holiness presided, confided this mission accordingly to Magellan, who sailed from the ocean port of Barrameda, at the mouth of the Bethis, on the twentieth of September, 1519. He commanded five vessels, of which the flagship was called Trinidad, and the others San Antonio, Victoria, Conception, and Santiago. They were manned by a crew of two hundred and thirty-seven men. Of these ships only two ever returned to Spain, of which one, after abandoning the flagship, returned without accomplishing anything; the second reappeared laden with precious woods and spices, three years after its departure from Spain; that is, it arrived on the sixth of September, 1522, at the same port from which it started. Very few of the crew survived, and the Admiral himself had perished at Matam, one of the islands of the archipelago, killed by the islanders. We shall relate these things farther on.

There exists between the Castilians and the Portuguese an inveterate hatred, and Magellan sought under every pretext and on divers occasions to kill a number of Castilians who refused to obey him. At the proper time I shall relate this, but for the moment I confine myself to the description of the voyage.1

The fleet first touched at the Fortunate Isles and afterwards sighted the archipelago of the Gorgades, which their actual lord, the King of Portugal, calls the Cape Verde Islands. From this point, Magellan sailed directly to the right, leaving our continent behind, towards that great promontory the Castilians have named Cape San Augustin, and the Portuguese, somewhat later, Cape Santa Maria. This promontory lies five degrees beyond the equinoctial line. The journey was afterwards continued as far as the gulf where the captain, Solis, who visited these waters with our fleet, was killed and eaten by the natives, together with some of his companions as we have related in a preceding decade. This gulf has received the name of Bahia de Santa Maria, and is otherwise called simply Bahia.

1 An account of Magellan's voyage was kept by a Venetian, Antonio Pigafetta, who accompanied him. The original MSS. is preserved in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. Consult the English translation by James Alexander Robertson, Magellan's Voyage around the World (1906).

Magellan sent some men to ascend the river which flows into the gulf. They took with them one of the ships and a shallop. They saw three men of half-savage type, entirely naked, whose stature exceeded the normal by two cubits. One of these men showed confidence and got into the shallop. Thinking that if they treated him well, he would attract his companions to the fleet, the Spaniards gave him food and drink, and dressed him; after which they let him go; but he was never again seen, neither he nor any of his people. Trees cut with European hatchets were discovered, and a cross had been erected upon the summit of another tree, but nowhere were any traces of our compatriots found.

The river is immense. Marvellous things, like those told of the Maragnon, in the northern part of Paria, which I have already mentioned, are related of it. The Spaniards ascended it for a distance of twenty leagues, and even at that point its width between its banks was seventeen leagues. Its mouth is vast, for many other rivers swell its volume. The water of the ocean is fresh for a great distance out to sea. When the Spaniards left this gulf they found that several degrees farther on towards the south, the coast line of the continent took a marked bend towards the west, and they discovered another large gulf to which they gave the name of San Julian, and in which there was a very safe harbour.

« السابقةمتابعة »