passage: his frail barks seemed destined to destruction, and little hope was entertained of their preservation, when they were providentially thrown on the coast of Jamaica. Here Bastidas refreshed his wearied crews, took in a stock of provisions, and when the weather seemed tolerably settled, departed for Hispaniola. On a little island about a league distant from the shore of this latter country, he found a secure and commodious haven, where he unloaded his ships, drew them ashore, and proceeded to refit them completely. As soon as the necessary repairs were finished, and the vessels were in a state to put to sea, the weatherbeaten mariners embarked with the intention of steering direct for Cadiz. The prudent conduct of Bastidas had enabled him to carry on a lucrative traffic with the natives of the continent, and to collect more gold, as well as slaves, dye-woods, and articles of curiosity, than most of the navigators who had preceded him in the west. The possession of so much treasure increased his anxiety to reach the termination of his voyage. He had hardly put to sea, however, when violent tempests compelled him to seek shelter under one of the headlands of Hispaniola, where he remained a full month in anxious expectation that the winds might abate and allow him to proceed. A treacherous gleam of fair weather tempted him again to set sail; but hurricanes immediately came on which drove him into the port of Jaragua; and as the gale continued with unmitigated fury, his ships at length sunk with all the treasures they contained. This accident occurred, however, so near the shore, that a good portion of the precious cargoes was recovered. The jealousy of the governor, Bobadilla, now proved as harassing and rapacious as the elements. A rumour that some chests of gold, saved from the shipwreck, had been secreted by Bastidas, in order to defraud the royal treasury, reached the ears of the weak governor, who wantonly added to the vexations of the embarrassed navigator. Bastidas, however, had perseverance and address sufficient to overcome these difficulties, and at length arrived in WOL. II. D

Cadiz in September 1502, after an absence of three-andtwenty months; still retaining a considerable quantity of gold and other treasure, notwithstanding the losses incurred by shipwreck and incidental expenses. His successful perseverance in this voyage of discovery, and that of the pilot Cosa, were rewarded by grants of future revenues, to be derived from the province of Uraba; the court of Spain, by a policy at once subtle and economical, thus stimulating the hopes and exertions of private adventurers by liberal donations of treasures to be sought for at the farthest limit of their researches. The facility with which the court of Spain bestowed immense territories in the New World on those who were bold enough to attempt their conquest gave loose reins to enterprise, and developed energies but little known in the confinement of society. Nor was this prodigal generosity without an object. The Spanish monarchs could not relinquish the hope of deriving not only dignity but also unbounded riches from the accession of dominions in the newly-discovered countries. They dreaded the active rivalry of foreign nations, particularly of the English and Portuguese, and hoped, by making settlements immediately, to preclude the possibility of disputing their right of possession. Hence, with a liberality which cost them nothing, they gave provinces to all who undertook to found a colony. The nations whose maritime boldness was most to be dreaded were the English and the Portuguese. The latter had long enjoyed great maritime eminence: they had discovered the passage to the East Indies; and Cabral, while conducting a fleet thither, had unexpectedly fallen in with the coast of Brasil. This country, of which he had taken possession in the name of his sovereign, was found also to lie within the portion of the globe assigned to Portugal by the famous line of demarcation suggested by the papal bulls, and which, by a convention made in 1494, was fixed at three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Azores. The English, on the other hand, had sent out an expedition in 1497 under Sebastian Cabot, who appears to have examined Newfoundland and the continent near the river St. Lawrence. They unquestionably despatched some other expeditions, of which, however, few or no particulars remain to us. Hojeda in his first voyage of discovery (1499) met with English navigators near the gulf of Maracaibo.” In the agreement made with him by the Spanish government in July 1500, previous to his second voyage, he was ordered “ to follow and examine the coast which he had already discovered, and which appears to run east and west, as that is the part which the English are known to be exploring; and also to erect marks bearing the arms of Spain, and other known signals, in order that it may be manifest that he visited the coast, and that a stop may be put to the discoveries of the English in that quarter.” + The dread of these formidable competitors quickened the grasping policy of the court of Spain. To Vincent Yanez Pinzon was given the country which he had discovered between Cape St. Augustin and the Maragnon: the immense line of coast between Paria and Darien was shared between Bastidas and the restless Hojeda. The ablest navigators in Spain,-Vincent Yanez Pinzon, Juan de la Cosa, Amerigo Vespucci, and Juan Diaz de Solis, -were consulted by the royal council in 1507, on the direction which ought to be given to future voyages of discovery, and on the probability of finding a western passage to the East Indies; and it appears to have been the unanimous opinion of those navigators, that the southern continent offered a fairer field to future researches.

Pinzon and Solis, who had recently examined the whole coast of South America from Paria to Darien, were accordingly sent out for the purpose of exploring its western shores through their entire extension. In June 1508 these experienced voyagers set sail, and arrived, without any accident, at Cape St. Augustin, on the coast of Brazil, beyond which point discovery had as yet extended but a little way. Following the coast of the continent towards the south, they reached as far as the fortieth degree of southern latitude, erecting crosses wherever they landed, and taking possession of the country for the crown of Castile. The want of harmony between the commanders prevented their further progress. When Pinzon and Solis returned to Spain in 1509, their disputes became the subject of judicial investigation; and the latter being deemed culpable, was thrown into prison. But his condemnation alone was sufficient to satisfy the forms of justice; the court was too well acquainted with the value of his talents to suffer him to languish in confinement; he was soon liberated, and, on the death of Amerigo Vespucci, was appointed to the vacant dignity of chief pilot. An expedition was shortly after fitted out to employ this experienced mariner. The king, whose jealousy of Portuguese encroachments was daily increasing, gave four thousand golden ducats towards the equipment of the vessels, the remainder of the expense being borne by Solis himself. The profits of the voyage were to be divided equally between the king, Solis, and the crew collectively. . Full of sanguine anticipations, and elated by the many marks of royal favour which he had received, the chief pilot embarked on his voyage in November 1514. His instructions enjoined him particularly to endeavour to reach the southern side of the isthmus of Darien, where Balboa had recently discovered the great ocean, and to construct accurate maps of all the countries he should discover. Beginning his survey at Cape St. Augustin, Solis proceeded towards the south, ascertaining the position of every headland with all the accuracy which the instruments of that age admitted. At length he found a great opening conducting to the west, and to which, from the freshness of the water, he gave the name of Mar dulce. Entering into this gulf, which was the mouth of the great river of La Plata, Solis went on shore with a small party, in order to observe the soil and natural productions. He had not advanced far when he fell into an ambuscade of the Indians, who seized him with five of his companions,

* Navarrete, tom. iii. p. 41. 2 + Id. p. 86. D

and having killed their captives, roasted and devoured them. . The Spaniards who remained on board, and who witnessed this shocking catastrophe, disheartened by the loss of their commander, immediately steered homewards, abandoning the prosecution of the voyage, which, but for the cruel fate of Solis, would probably have been conducted gloriously to the desired result, —the circumnavigation of South America. Not a little encouragement was afforded to the perseverance of navigators by the discovery of the South Sea or Pacific Ocean, made a short time previous to the date of this expedition. It arose naturally from the ardour with which the Spaniards pressed onwards to the west. Hojeda, that daring cavalier, who had so much distinguished himself in Hispaniola under Columbus, and subsequently in the career of discovery, proceeded in 1501 to the gulf of Maracaibo, for the purpose of establishing a colony in the province there assigned him. But the violence of his character was ill suited to command; dissensions arose among his followers, who resisted his authority, and loaded him with chains. In this situation he seized an opportunity of throwing himself overboard, confident of his strength, and hoping to be able to swim to land, and thus escape from the mutineers. The weight of his iron fetters, however, was more than he could sustain, and he was on the very point of sinking to the bottom, when a boat, despatched to his assistance, rescued him from present death for new scenes of peril and adversity. This extraordinary man, so well fitted by his hardihood and restless spirit to plant the standard of Spanish dominion on unknown shores, was tempted again, in 1509, by the royal grant of an immense territory, to form an establishment on the northern coast of South America. The extensive country comprised between the middle of the gulf of Darien or of Uraba, (that is, of Canoes,) as it was then called, and Cape Vela, was given to him under the name of New Andalusia; the adjoining tract

« ForrigeFortsett »