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1518.

his lands and Indians, were expended in purchasing military stores and provisions, or in supplying the wants of such of his officers as were unable to equip themselves in a manner suited to their rank e. Inoffensive, and even laudable as this conduct was, his disappointed competitors were malicious enough to give it a turn to his disadvantage. They represented him as aiming already, with little disguise, at establishing an independent authority over his troops, and endeavouring to secure their respect or love by his ostentatious and interested liberality. They reminded Velasquez of his former dissensions with the man in whom he now reposed so much confidence, and foretold that Cortes would be more apt to avail himself of the power, which the governor was inconsiderately putting in his hands, to avenge past injuries, than to requite recent obligations. These insinuations made such impression upon the suspicious mind of Velasquez, that Cortes soon observed some symptoms of a growing alienation and distrust in his behaviour, and was advised by Lares and Duero to hasten his departure, before these should become so confirmed as to break out with open violence. Fully sensible of this danger, he urged forward his preparations with such rapidity, that he set sail from St. Jago de Cuba on the eighteenth of November, Velasquez accompanying him to the shore, and taking leave of him with an appearance of perfect friendship and confidence, though he had secretly given it in charge to some of Cortes' officers, to keep a watchful eye upon every part of their commander's conduct f.

Cortes proceeded to Trinidad, a small settlement Endeaon the same side of the island, where he was joined

vours to de

prive him of by several adventurers, and received a supply of pro- his comvisions and military stores, of which his stock was still mission, very incomplete. He had hardly left St. Jago, when

e See Note üi.

f Gomara, Chron, c. 7. B. Diaz, c. 20.

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the jealousy which had been working in the breast of Velasquez grew so violent, that it was impossible to suppress it. The armament was no longer under his own eye and direction; and he felt that as his power over it ceased, that of Cortes would become more absolute. Imagination now aggravated every circumstance, which had formerly excited suspicion: the rivals of Cortes industriously threw in reflections which increased his fear; and, with no less art than malice, they called superstition to their aid, employing the predictions of an astrologer in order to complete the alarm. All these, by their united operation, produced the desired effect. Velasquez repented bitterly of his own imprudence, in having committed a trust of so much importance to a person whose fidelity appeared so doubtful, and hastily despatched instructions to Trinidad, empowering Verdugo, the chief magistrate there, to deprive Cortes of his commission. But Cortes had already made such progress in gaining the esteem and confidence of his troops, that, finding officers as well as soldiers equally zealous to support his authority, he soothed or intimidated Verdugo, and was permitted to depart from Trinidad without molestation.

From Trinidad Cortes sailed for the Havana, in order to raise more soldiers, and to complete the victualling of his fleet. There several persons of distinction entered into the service, and engaged to supply what provisions were still wanting; but, as it was necessary to allow them some time for performing what they had promised, Velasquez, sensible that he ought no longer to rely on a man of whom he had so openly discovered his distrust, availed himself of the interval which this unavoidable delay afforded, in order to make one attempt more to wrest the command out of the hands of Cortes. He loudly complained of Verdugo's conduct, accusing him either of childish facility, or of manifest treachery, in suffering

and to lay him under arrest.

feats his

nues his

Cortes to escape from Trinidad. Anxious to guard 1518. against a second disappointment, he sent a person of confidence to the Havana, with peremptory injunctions to Pedro Barba, his lieutenant-governor in that colony, instantly to arrest Cortes, to send him prisoner to St. Jago under a strong guard, and to countermand the sailing of the armament until he should receive farther orders. He wrote, likewise, to the principal officers, requiring them to assist Barba in executing what he had given him in charge. But before the arrival of his messenger, a franciscan friar of St. Jago had secretly conveyed an account of this interesting transaction to Bartholomew de Olmedo, a monk of the same order, who acted as chaplain to the expedition.

Cortes, forewarned of the danger, had time to take Cortes deprecautions for his own safety. His first step was

schemes, to find some pretext for removing from the Havana and contiDiego de Ordaz, an officer of great merit, but in

preparawhom, on account of his known attachment to Ve- tions. lasquez, he could not confide in this trying and delicate juncture. He gave him the command of a vessel, destined to take on board some provisions in a small harbour beyond cape Antonio, and thus made sure of his absence, without seeming to suspect his fidelity. When he was gone, Cortes no longer concealed the intentions of Velasquez from his troops; and as officers and soldiers were equally impatient to set out on an expedition, in preparing for which most of them had expended all their fortunes, they expressed their astonishment and indignation at that illiberal jealousy, to which the governor was about to sacrifice, not only the honour of their general, but all their sanguine hopes of glory and wealth. With one voice they entreated that he would not abandon the important station to which he had such a good title. They conjured him not to deprive them of a leader whom they followed with such well-founded confidence, and

1518. offered to shed the last drop of their blood in main

taining his authority. Cortes was easily induced to comply with what he himself so ardently desired. He swore that he would never desert soldiers who had given him such a signal proof of their attachment, and promised instantly to conduct them to that rich country, which had been so long the object of their thoughts and wishes. This declaration was received with transports of military applause, accompanied with threats and imprecations against all who should presume to call in question the jurisdiction of their ge

neral, or to obstruct the execution of his designs. The amount Every thing was now ready for their departure: but of his forces.

though this expedition was fitted out by the united effort of the Spanish power in Cuba; though every settlement had contributed its quota of men and provisions; though the governor had laid out considerable sums, and each adventurer had exhausted his stock, or strained his credit, the poverty of the preparations was such as must astonish the present age, and bore, indeed, no resemblance to an armament destined for the conquest of a great empire. The fleet consisted of eleven vessels; the largest of a hundred tons, which was dignified by the name of Admiral; three of seventy or eighty tons, and the rest small open barks.

barks. On board of these were six hundred and seventeen men; of which five hundred and eight belonged to the land-service, and a hundred and nine were seamen or artificers. The soldiers were divided into eleven companies, according to the number of the ships; to each of which Cortes appointed a captain, and committed to him the command of the vessel while at sea, and of the men when on shores. As the use of firearms among the nations of Europe was hitherto confined to a few battalions of regularly disciplined infantry, only thirteen soldiers

8 See Note iv.

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were armed with muskets, thirty-two were crossbowmen, and the rest had swords and spears. Instead of the usual defensive armour, which must have been cumbersome in a hot climate, the soldiers wore jackets quilted with cotton, which experience had taught the Spaniards to be a sufficient protection against the weapons of the Americans. They had only sixteen horses, ten small field-pieces, and four falconets h.

With this slender and ill-provided train did Cortes set sail, to make war upon a monarch whose domi- Feb. 10.

His deparnions were more extensive than all the kingdoms sub- ture from ject to the Spanish crown. As religious enthusiasm Cuba. always mingled with the spirit of adventure in the new world, and, by a combination still more strange, united with avarice, in prompting the Spaniards to all their enterprises, a large cross was displayed in their standards, with this inscription, 'Let us follow the cross, for under this sign we shall conquer.'

So powerfully were Cortes and his followers animated with both these passions, that no less eager to plunder the opulent country whither they were bound, than zealous to propagate the christian faith among its inhabitants, they set out, not with the solicitude natural to men going upon dangerous services, but with that confidence which arises from security of success, and certainty of the divine protection.

As Cortes had determined to touch at every place Touches at which Grijalva had visited, he steered directly towards Cozumel ; the island of Cozumel; there he had the good fortune to redeem Jerome de Aguilar, a Spaniard, who had been eight years a prisoner among the Indians. This man was perfectly acquainted with a dialect of their language, understood through a large extent of country, and, possessing besides a considerable share of prudence and sagacity, proved extremely useful as an interpreter. From Cozumel, Cortes proceeded to

h B. Diaz, c. 19.

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