صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

from a small cup and sprinkle it upon their heads in the form of a cross, as though baptising them. Nothing is known as to the words they use, but the celebration of the rite may be seen and the words heard. Differing from the Jews and Mussulmans, the natives do not consider their temples profaned by the presence of strangers at their ceremonies. I have spoken enough concerning their temples, their religious rites, and their books; let us now examine the other gifts presented to the King.


HE Spaniards have brought back two hand-mills," T one made of gold and the other of silver. They are massive and their circumference is about twenty-eight palms. The golden mill weighs 3800 castellanos, a castellano being a golden coin which is worth one-third more than a ducat. In the centre is the image of a man, a cubit high, resembling a king seated upon his throne, the figure being draped to the knees; it is like a zemes; that is to say it has the features we ascribe to nocturnal goblins. The bottom of the mill is decorated with branches, flowers, and leaves. The silver mill resembles the gold one, and their weight is almost identical; both mills are pure, without any alloy. Besides these, there are some shapeless grains of gold, not smelted, so as to show what the native gold is. They are the size of lentils or peas. There are two golden necklaces, one of which is composed of eight small chains set with thirty-two red stones, which however, are, not rubies, and one hundred and twenty-three green stones. The natives value these last as much as we do emeralds.” Twenty-seven golden bells surrounded by four figures set in jewels of wrought gold hang from the collar. From each of these bells hangs a golden pendant. The second collar is formed by four circles of little golden chains, ornamented with two hundred red stones and one hundred and seventy-two green stones; ten large precious stones set in gold, from which are suspended one hundred and fifty admirably wrought pendants, hang from this collar. There are twelve pairs of leather buskins of different colours, decorated with gold and silver and precious stones of both the blue and green varieties. Little golden bells are attached to each of these buskins. There are tiaras and mitres, spangled with stones chiefly resembling sapphires. I am at a loss to describe the aigrettes, the plumes, and the feather fans. If ever artists of this kind of work have touched genius, then surely these natives are they. It is not so much the gold or the precious stones I admire, as the cleverness of the artist and the workmanship, which much exceed the value of the material and excite my amazement. I have examined a thousand figures which it is impossible to describe. In my opinion I have never seen anything, which for beauty could more delight the human eye. Many of their brilliantly plumaged birds belong to unknown species. Just as these natives would admire the tails of our peacocks and pheasants, if they could see them, so are we delighted on beholding the feathers of which they make their fans and head-dresses, giving to their work a note of a very special elegance. These feathers are of bluish tints, greens, yellows, whites, and even browns. Gold enters into the composition of all their manufactured objects. I have seen two helmets brought from there, both entirely covered with blue stones; one of these helmets edged with golden bells, and covered with scales of gold, each supporting two golden bells; the other helmet decorated with the same stones, and twentyfive little golden bells. Upon its crest is a green bird, whose comb, feet, beak, and eyes are of gold. Each little bell is attached to a golden ingot, and has a threepointed fork terminating in plumes of various colours, and whose points are of precious stones attached by golden wires. There is also a large sceptre decorated with jewels, two golden rings, and an arm-band; deerskin sandals, sewn with golden thread and having white soles; a mirror made of brilliant stone, of the same bluish colour, surrounded with white gold. Let us finally note a transparent stone shaped in the form of a sphinx, a lizard wound round with gold, two large shells, two golden ducks, and numerous other birds,-two made of gold; four fish and a staff of copper, not to mention the feathers which commonly serve as ornaments; small shields and bucklers, twenty-four breast cuirasses of gold, and five of silver. There is another shield made of leather, ornamented with various coloured feathers and having in its centre a disk of wrought gold representing a zemes. Four other blades of gold surround this in the form of a cross, on which are represented different animals, such as lions, tigers, and wolves; hides of animals stuffed with twigs and wooden splints, over which the skin of the beast is stretched, ornamented with copper bells. What shall be said of the carefully tanned hides of other animals? There are also large cotton cloths dyed with black, white, and yellow checks, which proves they are acquainted with the game of checkers. One of these cloths is black on one side, and red and white on the other; another such cloth is dyed in different colours. It has in its centre a black wheel surrounded by rays, and is decorated with brilliant feathers. I must still mention two other white draperies, bed-covers, tapestries, mantles such as the natives wear, shirts, and different very light head-dresses. There is a number of objects to examine which are pleasing rather than precious, but as I fear the enumeration of these things may tire rather than divert Your Holiness, I pass them over in silence, as I likewise do the different incidents of the voyages, the labours, the miseries, the dangers, the wonderful achievements, and all the misfortunes which each of our navigators has noted down in his log-book, and which have later been brought to our knowledge in our Royal India Council. Nevertheless, here are some particulars that I have chosen amongst the rest, and for which I am indebted to private correspondence. The Spaniards who brought the gifts, and the captain, Fernando Cortes, who had formed the project of establishing a colony in those distant countries, were accused before the Royal India Council of having acted contrary to law and justice, in that they had not consulted the governor of Cuba, who had commissioned them by virtue of the powers he held from the King; and of having acted contrary to their instructions, and of having referred to the King without first offering their obedience to him. Thus the governor, Diego Velasquez, described them through his representatives, as fugitives, thieves, and traitors. The accused alleged in reply that they had displayed a spirit of obedience in referring to the superior justice of the King; moreover, that they had fitted out the fleet at their own expense, the governor of Cuba having given them nothing more than would a merchant selling his goods, and that, moreover, he had sold his merchandise too dear. Velasquez asked the death penalty for them, while they hoped on the contrary to be rewarded for the fatigues and dangers they had undergone. Both punishment and reward are postponed, until both parties shall be heard. Such is the decision. Let us now return to the colonists of Darien, along the gulf of Uraba on the supposed continent. We have said that the Darien is a river emptying into the gulf on the west coast. The Spaniards founded a colony on the banks of this river, after having expelled the cacique by force of arms. In fulfilment of a vow made in the midst of battle, they gave to this colony the name of Santa Maria

* These objects were far from being mills of any kind. Consult Bernal Diaz, IIist. Verdad., i., 39. * Chalchihuites, commonly mistaken by the Spaniards for emeralds.

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