صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

its ruins Cortes founded on a small hill which dominated a beautiful plain a colony which he called SantEsteven.

The Panuco is navigable for freight-boats a distance of several miles. It was the inhabitants of this province who had twice put Garay to flight, an episode I have related above at length. The natives could not resist Cortes, before whom all obstacles are broken. It appears that this region is extremely fertile, and is adapted not only for crops and other vegetable products, but abounds likewise in deer, hare, rabbits, wild-boars, and many other wild animals, as well as aquatic and forest birds. Lofty mountains, covered in places with snow, rise along the horizon. It is alleged that beyond these mountains there are civilised towns and important fortified places, situated in an immense plain, separated from the maritime provinces by the mountains.

But for the jealousy of the Spaniards, who can never agree amongst themselves in their keen dispute about honours, all these countries would already be conquered. How each is the declared enemy of his companions in this dusty squabble of ambition, which blinds them; how nobody can endure to be commanded by the others, I have already sufficiently explained in my preceding Decades when I spoke of the quarrels between Diego Velasquez, viceroy of Fernandina, and Fernando Cortes; and again between Fernando Cortes and Panfilo Narvaez or Grijalva, who gave his name to a river in the province of Yucatan; again of Cristobal Olid's defection from Cortes and the rivalry between Pedro Arias, governor of the mainland, and Egidius Gonzales, and finally of that general conflict of contradictory interests in searching for the strait giving communication between the south and north oceans. To say the truth, all the leaders in that country who exercise any authority in the King's name are open rivals, as I have already noted. I shall later give some particulars concerning these internal dissensions.

I now return to Garay, from whom I had strayed. He was not slow to note the ravages the country had suffered, and he perceived his brother-in-law had deceived him in regard to the colonists of Sant-Esteven, for he found no friendship among them. Partisans of Cortes alleged that the latter's officials had carried all the provisions away from the native villages in order that their rivals might be driven by hunger to withdraw or, at least, to scatter through the country in search of food, the expected ships having been delayed by storms.

There is in that country a large town of about fifteen thousand houses, called Naciapala. An officer of Garay called Alvarado, who went there with about forty horsemen to collect forage, was surprised by the people of Cortes, who accused him of trespassing on land he did not legitimately own, and brought him in chains to their town of Sant-Esteven. The unfortunate Garay, taken between Charybdis and Scylla, was therefore obliged to await his fleet.

Finally the sailors reached the mouths of the Panuco; out of the eleven ships three, or other people say four, had been lost. Two of the commanders of Cortes, Diego Ocampo, the judge, and Diego Vallejo, the military commander, went on board the flag-ship and captured the sailors without much difficulty, easily enrolling the remainder under the standard of Cortes. The ships sailed up the river to the colony of Sant-Esteven.

While these things were happening, Garay was informed that the country along the Rio de las Palmas, contrary to the false report of his brother-in-law, Diego Ocampo, was fertile and in many places was even richer than the Panuco region. Intimidated by the good fortune of Cortes, Garay would have transferred his colony to that region had he not been deceived by the persistent opposition of his brother-in-law. Unhappily situated as he was, he failed to perceive what decision he should take, nor did he suspect that the more he insisted upon his claim to the province the Emperor had granted him byletters patent, the more serious did his position become.

Acting on the advice of Diego Ocampo, he sent messengers to Cortes; one of them, called Pedro Cano, was an old friend of Garay, and the other, Juan Ochoa, was a former officer under Cortes, reputed to be well acquainted with the country. Both these men were won over by Cortes; at least, so the partisans of Garay complain. Pedro Cano returned, Ochoa remained with Cortes, whom it had been arranged Garay should come to meet. I have already mentioned this fact when the Council of Hispaniola, acting upon a rumour which circulated, transmitted this news to the Emperor and to our India Council.

The unfortunate Garay seemed to have a presentiment of his downfall, but he feigned pleasure at setting out and, although he had been forced to move, he concealed his sentiments and accepted the invitation of Cortes, who had really delivered it in the form of a command. Accompanied by Diego Ocampo, he started to meet Cortes, who at that time lived in the immense lake city of Temistitan called Mexico, and which is the capital of numerous kingdoms. His reception was cordial; whether it was sincere is another question, to be answered only by Him who reads the hearts of men.

When the news of Garay's disgrace and his departure spread, the barbarians attacked the soldiers quartered in their houses, and surprised stragglers throughout the country. They massacred about two hundred and fifty, or, according to some reports, even more. They regaled themselves with copious banquets, for they are anthropophagi.

Upon hearing the news of this massacre, Cortes sent

the most famous of his lieutenants, Sandoval, to exact vengeance; he gave him forty horsemen and the necessary number of foot-soldiers. It appears that Sandoval cut a large number of the barbarians to pieces, for they did not dare to raise a finger against either Cortes or his lieutenants, the very mention of whose names struck terror into them. Sandoval afterwards sent sixty caciques (for each village is governed by a cacique) to Cortes; and the commander ordered that each of these caciques should bring with him his heir. This order was carried out, and all the caciques were then burnt on an immense pyre, their heirs witnessing the execution.1 Cortes afterwards summoned them before him, and asked if they had taken note of the sentence executed upon their relatives; then adopting a severe mien, he added that he hoped this example would suffice, and that they would not henceforth incur suspicion of disobedience. Having thus terrified them, he sent each one back to his own territory, with the obligation to pay a tribute. Some people report this incident as I have given it; others with some changes. We are aware that rumours vary according to the neighbourhood, and all the more so in the case of the other world.

Cortes ordered one of his domestics, a certain Alfonso Villanova, formerly in the service of Garay but dismissed from his house for having debauched one of his maids, to give Garay hospitality and treat him with honour. The better to accentuate his friendly sentiments, he gave one of his natural daughters in marriage to a legitimate son of Garay. On Christmas eve, Cortes and Garay went together to assist at the singing of matins, 1 according to usage. At the close of the ceremony, they returned home at daybreak, where they found an excellent breakfast awaiting them. Upon leaving the church, Garay had complained that he had caught cold; nevertheless he ate a little with his companions at table, but retired to bed as soon as he returned to the house where he was being entertained. His ailment increased, and after three or four days he yielded his soul to his Creator.

1 In describing this holocaust in his Fourth Letter to the Emperor, Cortes wrote: "Four hundred chiefs and notable persons, besides others of lower class, all of whom—I speak of the chiefs—were burned." The precise number burned is consequently uncertain. Herrera reduces the number to thirty. In one particular Peter Martyr is wrong: the chiefs were not sent to Cortes, nor was he present at their execution, which was carried out by Gonzalo de Sandoval.

I have already said that there are not wanting people who ask whether in his case the duties of charity were not exaggerated in liberating from the cares of this life a man who had suffered so much, or whether it was desired to prove the truth of the adage, regnum turn capit duos, or of the other nulla fides regni sociis.2 It is alleged that he died from a stitch in the side, or a pleurisy as the doctors call it. Be that as it may, Garay who was the best of the governors in the New World, died; whether for this reason, or for another, matters little. The fact remains that his sons, relatives, and friends were rich, and that they have been reduced to poverty. He himself might have lived tranquilly for a long time, had he been content with his governorship of Jamaica, that Elysian isle which has just been renamed Santiago. There he enjoyed unquestioned authority and the people's affection; but ambition drove him to his ruin.

He might have known that Cortes would ill endure his proximity. Had he only taken care to avoid that flaming fire, he might have established himself at Rio de las Palmas, whither favourable winds had driven him; or better still, he might have profited by the opportunity to reach some

1 Ecce Christi natalis noctem ad ma tutinos cantus audiendos de more nostro . . . meaning the midnight mass celebrated on Christmas eve, rather than the office of matins.

1 Nulla fides regni sociis, omnisque potestas impaiiens consortis erit. The line is from Lutan's Pharsalia, i., 92.

« السابقةمتابعة »