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A short time after Columbus had set out on his voyage to Cuba, his brother Bartholomew arrived at the new colony; and now, when the admiral returned exhausted in spirits, and worn out with bodily fatigue, this fortunate circumstance contributed not a little to the restoration of his health. Bartholomew Columbus was a man of undaunted courage, possessing an active spirit and great practical talents; he was also an able and experienced mariner, and is supposed to have accompanied Bartholomew Diaz in the celebrated voyage in which the Cape of Good Hope was discovered. The aid of such a friend was now become particularly necessary to the admiral, from the disturbed state of the colony; and he accordingly invested his brother with the powers and title of adelantado, or lieutenant-governor. During his absence the affairs of the new settlement had run into the most lamentable confusion. The greater number of those who accompanied Columbus from Spain were greedy adventurers, who expected to amass unbounded wealth with little or no toil, in a region which they were taught to believe was the grand repository of nature's gifts. But when they experienced some of those hardships which always attend the establishment of a colony in a new climate, their spirits sunk from the extreme of sanguine expectation, to that of utter despondency. They found that considerable exertion was necessary to procure even subsistence; and in the bitterness of their disappointment, they accused Columbus as the author of all their calamities. The general discontent was fomented, as is usually the case, not by those who suffered most, but by the most malignant and restless spirits. The disorder rose to such a pitch, that the insurgents seized on some vessels in the harbour and set sail for Spain. Among these seceders was Friar Boyle, a Franciscan monk, the first apostle to the West Indies, who found means to diffuse through the court his complaints against the administration of Columbus. The president of the council of the Indies, Fonseca, bishop of Badajos, a determined enemy of the admiral, countenanced the friar's accusations, and, in consequence, a commissioner was sent out to report on the state of the colony. This commissioner, Juan de Aguado, was a creature of the party opposed to the admiral; and as he collected the materials of his report in the evident spirit of hostility, Columbus deemed it advisable to accompany him on his return to Spain, in order to counteract the force of his misrepresentations. When Columbus made his appearance at the court of Spain, he was received with distinguished favour. His frank exposition of the disordered state of the colony, his manifest solicitude for its welfare, and his just views with respect to its future management, restored him at once to the full confidence of his sovereigns, and cleared away all the aspersions of his enemies. Ships were despatched to Hispaniola, with fresh supplies of men and provisions; but the revenues of Spain were at this time so much exhausted by the altercations of European politics, that two years elapsed before an armament could be fitted out to carry back the admiral himself. At length, on the 30th of May, 1498, Columbus set sail with a fleet of six vessels, on his third voyage of discovery. In his second voyage he had steered a more southerly course than in his first, and fell in with a more steady current of favourable winds: he now ventured to proceed still farther to the south, so as to lose no opportunity of extending his experience. From the Cape Verd islands he steered south-west, until he approached within five degrees of the equator. Here the ships were becalmed; and the effects of the intense heat were so violent, as to bring to mind the fable of a torrid zone made uninhabitable by the scorching rays of a direct sun. The stifling glow of the atmosphere was so oppressive and enervating, that it was found necessary, after a few days, to turn towards the north-west; and the ships had not proceeded far in this direction, when they fell in with fresh breezes, a genial temperature, and a clear sky. On the 31st of July land was seen ahead. Three peaks were descried just emerging from the horizon, and on a nearer approach were found to be united at their base. From this circumstance Columbus gave the island the name of La Trinidad, or the Trinity. Sailing to the south and west of this island, he entered the great gulf of Paria, and saw land extending to the south as far as the eye could reach. At first he imagined that he had arrived on the coast of some great island; but the sudden swells of the sea within the gulf, and the rapid current running through it towards the north, soon led him to form a different conclusion. He argued, with equal boldness and sagacity, that these phenomena could only arise from some great river flowing into the sea through the low tracts which bounded his view to the south, and having its source in great mountains, situated at an immense distance, and probably beneath the equator. The river whose existence he thus detected was the Orinoco. He remarked, with astonishment, the luxuriance of the country, the mild temperature of the air, and fair complexions of the inhabitants, when compared with the regions of Africa situated under the same parallel of latitude. Uniting observations made in a transport of delight with theories framed under the influence of enthusiasm, he supposed that he had now approached the region of the terrestrial paradise, and that the great river which poured its ample waters into the gulf of Paria descended from the garden of Eden. His spirits were elated also by the quantity of pearls which he here collected from the natives. The ships worked their way with difficulty through the Dragon's Mouth, as the narrow channel is called that runs between the promontory of Paria and the isle of Trinidad; and after following the continent to the west as far as Margarita, they stood away direct for Hispaniola. When Columbus arrived at the river Ozema, where his brother the adelantado had founded by his order the town of St. Domingo, he found the colony in the wildest state of anarchy and confusion. All subordination was at an end; the turbulent had taken up arms; and, though often defeated by the adelantado, were yet able
to maintain themselves in a posture of defiance. The admiral dreaded the consequences of a prolonged civil war, both to the settlement and to his own character. He preferred gaining over the disaffected by concessions, to the hazardous employment of force in reducing them to obedience. By reinstating Roldan, the leader of the malecomtents, in his office of alcalde-mayor or chief justice, and by other conciliatory measures, he succeeded in suppressing the flames of open insurrection. But the embers of civil discord still glowed within. The factious commotions that had raged so long assumed but a deceptious appearance of tranquillity. Every ship that sailed for Spain carried home fresh murmurs and complaints. The same despatches from the admiral that conveyed the intelligence of his new discoveries, contained also an account of insurrections and of hostilities with the Indians which seemed to threaten the existence of the colony. The court, therefore, resolved to send out an officer provisionally authorised to assume the chief power, and restore order to the distracted settlement. The person selected for this office was Don Francisco de Bobadilla, a gentleman of the royal household. He appears to have been a man of weak character and impetuous temper; and as his interest seemed to recommend the utmost use of the powers confided to his discretion, he did not hesitate, on his arrival at Hispaniola, to treat Columbus at once as a delinquent; to arrest him, and load him with irons. This great man was so deeply affected by the indignities wantonly heaped upon him, and by the numerous expressions of hatred that assailed him, that he even began to entertain apprehensions for his life. When Vallejo, who commanded the vessel in which he was to embark for Spain, entered his prison in order to conduct him to the harbour, Columbus, dreading that they were about to lead him out to the scaffold, cried out in a tone of dejection and despair, “Wallejo, whither are you going to take me?” and it was not till that brave officer had repeated his assurance that they were preparing to embark, that the admiral regained his composure. When arrived on board, he would not allow his fetters to be taken off; but, being sensible of his great merits, and sure of future fame, he fondly wore those affecting testimonies of his vicissitudes, and even expressed a wish that when he died they might be hung upon his tomb. When it was known in Spain that Columbus was brought home a prisoner and in bonds, the public indignation was loudly expressed against those who advised this unworthy treatment of a man so eminently distinguished by his services. The needless severities used towards him betrayed the injustice of his enemies, and the wantonness of faction. The generous minded Isabella sympathised with his wounded heart; and Ferdinand, however coldly disposed towards the admiral, was obliged to give way to the tide of popular feeling. Columbus and his brothers were ordered to be immediately set at liberty, and were received at court with every mark of distinction. The admiral's vindication of his conduct was listened to with deference and apparent satisfaction. Bobadilla, whose arrogant and headstrong temper had done him so much wrong, and still kept alive the factions of the colony, was immediately recalled. But though Columbus frequently and anxiously entreated to be reinstated in his government, his suit was constantly evaded; and Don Nicholas de Ovando, a cavalier of eminent accomplishments and well versed in business, was chosen to succeed Bobadilla.