صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

many years there exploring the country of the Dabaiba. I take my narrative from the detailed reports of those captains and their colleagues, all of them trustworthy men, or in their absence, from their own depositions made when they came here on business; and I compose this narrative in obedience to the orders of three popes and other princes. I shall begin by the life and deplorable death of Garay. In my preceding Decades addressed to Pope Adrian, predecessor of Your Holiness, I said that a secret hatred sprung up between Garay and Fernando Cortes, conqueror of New Spain and many other provinces; for Garay was reputed to want to colonise the Panuco country, bordering upon the states under the jurisdiction of Cortes. I have already said that this same Garay had twice been disastrously defeated by the savage population, along the Panuco River; and twice Fernando Cortes had received him in his slight, helping him to repair his misfortune, when he was reduced to the direst necessity. This is shown by the letters of Cortes and by my own writings, which circulate throughout the Christian world. Four vessels have just arrived from the Indies, and from letters written by the companions of his labours and sufferings, and from the verbal reports of people who have come by these vessels, we know about Garay's misfortunes. On the eighteenth day of the calends of June, he left Jamaica—now called Santiago—of which he had long time been governor. He was authorised by the Emperor to settle on the banks of the Panuco River,” a stream already well known, and to there found the colony of which he dreamed. His fleet consisted of cleven vessels, six of between one hundred and twenty and one hundred and fifty tons burthen, two of the type called in Spain caravels, and also two brigantines. His force consisted

"The Panuco River emptics into the Gulf of Mexico near the present town of Tampico.

of one hundred and forty-four horsemen, three hundred foot-soldiers armed with bows, two hundred musketcers, and two hundred men armed with swords and shields. He first directed his course towards Cuba, otherwise called Fernandina. Cuba is divided in two by the Tropic of Cancer, and Jamaica lies in the zone most people wrongly call the torrid zone. Cuba is about twice the length of Italy. Garay landed at a place called Cape Corrientes at the western extremity of the island, where there are many ports, to obtain fresh water, wood, and forage for his horses. He passed several days there. This point of the island is lout a short distance from the dependencies of New Spain, governed in the Emperor's name by Fernando Cortes. When he learned that Cortes had established a colony on the banks of the Panuco, Garay assembled his captains and consulted them as to what action he should take. Some were of opinion that it would be better to seek a new country, since there were plenty of others, than to come into conflict with the good luck of Cortes. Others thought the enterprise should not be abandoned, especially as they were sustained by the Emperor's authority, authorising Garay to give his name to the future colony. The will of the latter party prevailed, Garay being pleased by their pernicious opinion. Understanding the disposition of his lieutenants, he made a pretence of founding a state, and divided amongst them the offices, the better to attach them to himself by the honours he offered them. He therefore named as the chief of this colony Alfonso Mendoza, nephew of Don Alfonso Pecheco, formerly Grand Equerry. He associated with him Ferdinando Figueroa, of a distinguished family in Saragossa, and to them he added two Spaniards from Cuba. He named as judges Gonzales Ovaglio, a noble of Salamanca, related to the Duke of Alva; Villagrano, a former member of the royal household, and Iago de Cifuentes, a man of the people, but endowed with prudence and ability. He chose amongst his soldiers men for the offices of alguazils as they are called in Spain, who are sheriffs and inspectors of weights and measures. He exacted from them an oath to sustain him against Cortes, in case it should be necessary to use force. Deluded as they were, and failing utterly to realise either the success, the good luck, and the craftiness of Cortes, they set sail. They were ignorant likewise of the misfortunes awaiting them from which, however, fate supplied them a means of escape. They were overtaken by a southern tempest, which deceived the pilots and landed them near a river which they took for the Panuco, though it was smaller. They were in fact seventy leagues distant and too far north, the violent gale having driven them to a part of Florida already long since discovered. The twenty-fifth of June,—on which day Spain celebrates the feast of her special patron, Santiago, -the Spaniards entered the mouth of the river, and cast anchor. As they found palm-trees upon the banks, they called it Rio de las Palmas. Gonzales de Ocampo, brother-in-law of Garay, was sent with one of the brigantines capable of penetrating amongst the shoals, to explore. He went a distance of fifteen leagues up the river, using three days in this expedition. Going still farther up, he discovered a number of other streams flowing into the river, but as his mind was set upon the Panuco, he falsely asserted that the country was uncultivated, sterile, and desert. It has since become known that it is populous, agreeable, and rich in productions of every kind. This lying report was believed, however, and it was decided to depart for Panuco. As the horses were weak from starvation, they were brought on shore with the majority of the foot-soldiers. The sailors were ordered never to lose sight of the coast— as though they could command the waves! Garay himself set out overland towards the Panuco, marching in good order to avoid a surprise by some sudden attack of the natives. The first three days no traces of cultivation were seen. The country was desert, for it was swampy and muddy. Another navigable river, flowing between high mountains, was encountered, which they consequently called Montalto. Some of the men crossed swimming, others on rafts. After overcoming this obstacle with great labour and fatigue, a large town was seen in the distance. The ranks were at once closed up and the company advanced in military fashion, the musketeers and other soldiers armed with long-range weapons forming the vanguard. Upon their approach, the natives abandoned their houses and fled. These houses were filled with provisions, so Garay was able to feed his soldiers and horses, already worn out with the fatigue of the march. Out of what remained, they took a supply of provisions with them.


HE savages fill their storehouses with all sorts of T food, namely a particular kind of bread they call maize-bread, which resembles Milanese bread; and fruits having a bitter-sweet taste, and giving forth an odour unknown to us. These fruits, which are as large as an orange or a quince, are efficacious against dysentery, producing the same effect as do our sorbes and cornelberries. The natives call them guaianas.” After crossing the river Montalto, the Spaniards continued their march across uncultivated countries, until they came to a large lake which empties its waters by a broad, unfordable river into the neighbouring sea. They made their way towards the opposite shore of the lake, some thirty leagues distant from the river's mouth, seeking for fords by which to cross, for they had been informed that many streams emptied into the lake lower down; but they only succeeded in crossing with great difficulty and risk of grave dangers, swimming half the time. Before them extended a broad plain, and in the distance they beheld a large village. As the inhabitants were not frightened and did not fly before them, as those of the first village had done, Garay halted his men and set up his standard; after which he sent ahead interpreters, whom he had obtained the preceding year in that neighbourhood and who already spoke Spanish. The people of the village agreed to peace and accepted the alliance he offered them. They

* Evidently a mis-spelling of guaiavas, called in English guava. Vol. ii-22 337

« السابقةمتابعة »