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length took place, and Alvaro was fully acquitted of all the charges brought against him: but his accusers were allowed to go unpunished; he was not reinstated in his command ; nor did he receive any indemnification for the injuries he had received. * .
The arrival of Alvaro Nunez on the north-western frontier of Mexico, after accomplishing his extraordinary journey through so many savage tribes, and the information which he gave respecting them, excited a lively interest in New Spain to extend the boundaries of geographical knowledge in that quarter. The viceroy don Antonio de Mendoza accordingly sent Marcos de Nizza, a Franciscan monk, to explore, as far as possible, the country towards the north. In 1539, the monk returned with an account of a nation so rich that their domestic utensils of the most humble description were made of gold. Cevola, or Cibola, one of their cities, appeared to him to contain twenty thousand houses, mostly built of stone, and several stories in height. Of this wealthy country the monk claimed possession clandestinely, by setting up a small cross on which was inscribed the name of the viceroy of New Spain. This relation of De Nizza filled all Mexico with hope and exultation. Two expeditions were fitted out: one, to proceed by sea, was entrusted to the care of Fernando de Alarchon; the other, placed under the command of Vasquez de Coronado, was to invade the Seven Cities by land,- for the old legend of the Seven Christian Cities was revived by De Nizza.t Coronado and his army endured extreme sufferings in their march over rugged mountains or arid deserts. The road was far more difficult and much longer than they had been led to imagine. Although their experience of the journey had taught them to doubt the veracity of the monk, yet when they at length arrived at Civola, and found, instead of a great city
* Southey's History of Brazil, vol. i. p. 153. Azara, in his account of Para. guay, views the character of Alvaro Nunez less favourably; and says that the council of the Indies, on examining into his conduct, treated him with more severity than his enemies, and sentenced him to banishment in Africa, Voyage dans l'Amérique Méridionale, vol. ii. p. 366.
| See vol. i. p. 385.
abounding in gold and silver, only a large village of about four hundred houses, without any trace of the precious metals, nothing could equal their rage and disappointment. The inhabitants, indeed, were more civil. ised, and the country more populous, than was usual in the New World ; and these circumstances, exaggerated in the relations of the rude Indian tribes, appear to have given rise to the fictions which so long imposed on the Spaniards. Coronado having learned that Quivira, a maritime city, was the most populous in this part of America, reached it across a route of 300 leagues. He found it really much superior to any of the seven of which the fame had been so widely blazoned. The sobriety of Coronado's relation, and the vestiges of ancient civilisation which are found in that part of America, go far to vindicate him from the imputation of inventing fables. Nevertheless, though Quivira was for a long time after the grand object of Spanish enterprise, no city of that name or site was ever again recognised. The peculiar breed of sheep (as he called them), which constituted the sole wealth of the country, remains still but imperfectly known to naturalists. The maritime expedition under Alarchon returned without effecting any discovery of importance. The fabulous city of Civola was placed in old maps in 37° north latitude. Quivira was situated four degrees farther to the north, in the very region pointed out by native historians as the original country of the Mexicans.*
The extraordinary energy of character developed among the Spanish adventurers in the colonies, by the free scope allowed to the exercise of their talents, appears to have communicated a momentary impulse to the parent state, and to have prompted attention, in particular, to the principles of commerce and to the arts connected with naval affairs. As early as 1517, the monks of Hispaniola recommended to the court the establishment of a perfectly free trade between Spain and the West Indies. This wise counsel was urgently * Humboldt, Essai Pol. sur la Nouvelle Espagne, tom, ii. p. 420.
repeated in 1527 ; yet two centuries and a half elapsed before that bigoted and suspicious government could learn to relax the bonds of despotism, and adopt the system which its interest dictated. The damage done to shipping in the West India seas by the teredo worm (as experienced by Columbus in his fourth voyage) soon taught the necessity of protecting the bottoms of vessels by a metallic sheathing; and already, in 1514, the Spaniards employed lead for that purpose. * But the invention which Spanish historians are most zealous in claiming for their countrymen of the sixteen century, is that of the steam-vessel. This claim, which has been but recently advanced, rests upon the following statement, collected from documents preserved in the royal archives of Simancas.
- In 1543, Blasco de Garay, a captain of a ship, offered to the emperor Charles V. to construct a machine capable of propelling large vessels, even in a calm and without the aid of sails or oars. In spite of the opposition which his project met with, the emperor consented to witness the experiment; and it was made accordingly in the port of Barcelona, on the 17th of June, 1543. Garay would not uncover his machinery or show it publicly ; but it was evident that it consisted of a caldron of boiling water, and of two wheels set in motion by that means, and applied externally on each side of the vessel. The experiment was made on the Trinidad, a ship of 200 tons, laden with corn.
“ The persons commissioned by the emperor to report on the invention in general approved of it, and praised, in particular, the readiness with which the vessel tacked about. The treasurer Ravago, however, who was hostile to the plan, said that a ship with the proposed machinery might go at the rate of about two leagues in three hours; that the apparatus was complex and expensive; and, finally, that there was great danger of the boiler bursting. The other commissioners maintained, that a vessel so equipped might go at the rate of a league an hour at
* Navarrete, tom. i. p. 292. French trans,
the least, and would tack about in half the time required by an ordinary ship. When the exhibition was over, Garay took away the apparatus from the Trinidad. The wood-work was deposited in the arsenal at Barcelona: the rest of the machinery he kept himself. Notwithstanding the objections raised by Ravago, the emperor affected to favour the project of Garay ; but his attention at the time was engrossed by other matters. He promoted Garay, however; gave him a sum of money, besides paying the expenses of the experiment made at Barcelona ; and showed him other favours.” *
If it be admitted that this contrivance of Garay was identical in principle, at least, with our steam-engines, there is yet reason to doubt how far we ought to come memorate in a history of useful inventions a germ of discovery never fairly brought into the light, and consigned to oblivion the moment it was seen. The ingenious men who have in our own times brought the steam-engine to such wonderful perfection lose nothing of the merit of originality by the prior inventions of a Spaniard whom they never heard of. Nor has the Spanish nation much reason to pride itself on the discovery of Garay; since the more we admire the genius of the individual, the more must we lament his illfortune in being the subject of a narrow-minded and illiberal government, capable of robbing him of his fair fame, and mankind of the benefits of his invention. .
But it was not in this instance alone that the jealous policy of the Spanish government damped the ardour of the people and checked their progress in civilisation. The astonishing boldness and activity displayed by the conquerors of the New World, of which so many examples occur in the preceding chapters, were the virtues of adventurers released in a great measure from the restraints of authority. The court of Spain threw loose the reins to individual enterprise, and, for a share in the profit, connived at the violence and licentiousness which it pretended to denounce. But when the lawless
* Navarrete, tom. i. p. 286.
ness of the Spanish colonists ceased, their activity ceased with it. The causes which paralysed the energies of Spain in the sixteenth century extended their influence to its dependencies in the West. As soon as order and authority were established in the colonies, they sunk into å state of comparative torpor; and the zeal and success with which the Spaniards at first prosecuted geographical discoveries, is not more astonishing than the indifference with which they regarded them for centuries after.
CONQUESTS OF THE PORTUGUESE.
POLICY OF PORTUGAL WITH RESPECT TO ITS CONQUESTS IN
INDIA, —CABRAL DESPATCHED WITH A FLEET. - DISCOVERS
In the preceding chapters we have seen with what rapid strides the Spaniards advanced in the discovery and conquest of the New World. It was no sooner demonstrated that a voyage of a month or six weeks across the Atlantic Ocean conducted to fertile countries of indefinite extent, than all the difficulties of the navigation seemed suddenly to vanish, and numbers were found ready to trust their lives and fortunes to the sea, at a time when naval science was so imperfect that a very large proportion of those who ventured on long voyages were sure to perish. The