James W. (James William) Buel.

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command, he set out first in pursuit of Guarionex, who,
taking warning by the fate that had overtaken other chiefs
who had opposed the Spaniards, fled with his family to the
mountains of Ciguay, and there sought the aid of a cacique
named Mayobanex, who lived at Cape Cabron, thirty miles
from Isabella. This chief would not withhold his friendship
in the hour of greatest need, and therefore not only gave
Guarionex and his handful of followers an asylum but
promised to protect them to the last extremity.

By forming a junction v/ith Mayobanex, who had a con-
siderable force of hardy native soldiers, Guarionex was able
to vex the Spaniards by cutting off straggling parties and
destroying villages ; annoyances which Don Bartholomew
resolved to prevent by sending a company of one hundred
and fifty men into the mountain fastnesses to punish the
guerillas. His advance was noted by Indian spies, and a
big native army was gathered that hung upon his flank, but
was concealed by intervening hills and dense vegetation
until the time to strike was at hand. This opportunity was
presented when the Spaniards began fording a stream of
swift running water, and when everything indicated that
they were least expecting an attack. In a moment six
thousand hideously painted savages rushed out from their
ambush and let fly a shower of arrows and lances, which
wounded several of the Spaniards notwithstanding their


armor. But the Indians were too timid to follow up their
advantage, and retreated at the first fire of the enemy. The
Spaniards pushed on up the valley towards Cabron, halting
from time to time to repel the sorties of the Indians, who
would rush down within arrow range and discharging a vol-
ley would retire precipitately to their fastnesses, seldom
doing any great mischief, however.

At length the Adelantado approached within less than a
mile of Cabron, where he halted and sent forward a mes-
seno-er to Mayobanex, demanding of him the surrender of
Guarionex, promising him pardon and friendship if the
demand was complied with, but threatening a direful ven-
geance if it was refused. With Spartan-like courage and a
fidelity which may even amaze the civilized world, Mayo-
banex returned this reply : " Tell the Spaniards that they
are bad men, cruel and tyrannical ; usurpers of the terri-
tories of others and shcdders of innocent blood ; I do not
desire the friendship of such men. Guarionex is a good
man ; he is my friend ; he is my guest ; he has fled to me
for refuge ; I have promised to protect him ; I will keep
my word."

Don Bartholomew could be stern when occasion appeared
to him to justify vigorous measures, and seeing that further
parley meant defeat of his purposes, he ordered the village
to be set on fire, and then threatened Mayobanex with a
still more terrible vengeance if he remained obstinate in his
refusal to surrender to him the rebellious Guarionex. His
subjects, alarmed, besought him to comply with this demand,
as the safety of their homes depended upon it ; but however
strong the pressure, his friendship for the unhappy chief
was still stronger, and he vowed to defend his guest to the
last, even though it should cost him his kingdom and his


The torch of the Spaniards was now applied to all the

;;-*PB>i<J B'hoC

EKlilog by Russell.


The earliest settlers of America sought, these shores for an asylum
against religious persecution, and it is interesting to note that at the time
Columbus discovered the New World, that was to become a land of freedom,
a nation founded upon the principle of perfect religious liberty, and of
universal suffrage and sovereignty, the country whence they came was per-
secuting with the fires of torture to compel confession and adherence to a
prescribed faith. Surely, we have traveled since then, and God's blesssing
have attended us as a nation.





^ - ■■


villages, while soldiers were sent to hunt down the two fra-
ternal chiefs and their subjects. Abandoning the smoking
ruins of their homes, the caciques and their followers fled
to the mountains, where they were remorselessly pursued,
until at last two Ciguayans were captured, and under threats
of death were forced to pilot the Spaniards to a cave in
which Mayobanex had taken refuge. The unhappy chief
was taken by surprise, together with his family and a sister
who had left her husband in a neighboring province to
share the fortunes of her miserable brother. Her captivity
was soon reported to her husband, who, loving her tenderly,
visited the Adelantado and with prayerful entreaties be-
sought him to release her, offering his allegiance and that
of his subjects for her restoration. To these pleadings Don
Bartholomew could not turn a deaf ear, for his compassion
being aroused he restored her to her now overjoyed hus-
band, an act which brought him a generous return in the
fulfillment of all the promises of the cacique.

Soon after this Guarionex was driven from his retreat by
the pangs of hunger, and was betrayed by some Ciguayans,
who regarded him as the author of all their miseries. He
was by this means captured by a party of lurking Spaniards
and carried to Fort Concepcion. This being his third
offense, Guarionex expected nothing less than an extreme
penalty ; but the Adelantado mercifully considered the
causes which had led him into rebellion and again extended
to him the fullest pardon, though he regarded it as prudent
to detain both caciques for a time at Fort Concepcion as
hostages to insure the fidelity of their subjects.

This was the condition of affairs in the colony, which had
been restored to a degree of tranquillity, with Roldan a
fugitive, when Columbus returned, after an absence of nearly
thirty months, to resume command.


Evil flourishes where virtue would perish from inanition.
Circumstances more frequently favor the wrong than they
encourage the right, because the wicked passions of men
beget in them a cunning to turn even the most beneficent
conditions to their advantage, thus extracting the bane of
mischief from the elixir of rectitude. These observations
were strikingly verified by the fortune which assisted the
traitorous acts of Roldan, since one circumstance after an-
other occurred as if by some maleficent spirit's direction to
promote his infamous designs.

When Columbus returned to Hispaniola his physical con-
dition, which rendered him almost helpless, was not more
deplorable than that of the colonists. Insurrection, rebel-
lion and their attendant evils had left the Spaniards in a
sorry and wretched plight, out of which they were not to be
brought before greater suffering had been experienced. A
heart less strong than Columbus' would have lost all hope
and abandoned further effort to establish a permanent set-
tlement in the new world of his discovery. In every fort
and station there were famine and insubordination ; the
mines at Hayna were no longer productive; every industry
languished ; the Indian villages were in ruins, while the
natives, driven to the last extremity by their oppressors, had
abandoned their fields and escaped to the mountains; they
were at peace now, but it was the peace that simulates
death or hopelessness ; more than all this, the flower of the
Spanish troops were in rebellion, thus dividing the strength


of the colonists and leaving them a readier prey to the
miseries that were at hand.

To a man almost blinded by ophthalmia and racked by
the tortures of gout, as was Columbus, the picture was one
of inexpressible sadness, but in such an emergency inaction
meant destruction, so, enfeebled though he was by physical
and mental afflictions, Columbus aroused all his energies to
bring order out of this chaos of misfortune. His first duty
was to ratify the acts of his brother Don Bartholomew, and
then to inform himself fully respecting the rebellion of Rol-
dan, and adopt measures, if possible, to punish the traitor;
but this, alas! he was not destined to accomplish.

Carrying out his original intentions Roldan had taken up
his residence in the province of Xaragua, where, not know-
ing his defection, Behechio received him with the same
hospitality he had shown towards the Adelantado. In this
delightful retreat Roldan and his followers indulged their
idle and sensual appetites, free from all restraints, account-
ing themselves as the most fortunate of mortals, since
Behechio supplied all their wants.

Within a week after Columbus had returned to Hispani-
ola some of Roldan's subjects, while walking along the beach,
descried three vessels making towards the shore, which gave
them some alarm at first, anticipating that it might be a
part of the fleet of Columbus laden not only with supplies,
but with men who might be sent to give them the punish-
ment they merited. But Roldan was not so easily fright-
ened, for with his resource of strategy he esteemed himself
equal to any emergency.

The three vessels proved to be those which Columbus
had sent forward with supplies from the Canary Islands and
which had been detained long beyond their time by heavy
gales and contrary winds. Fortune had strangely directed
them to the coast of Xaragua, as if fate was in league with


evil to oppose the plans of Columbus. When they came to
anchor off shore Roldan put out in a boat to welcome the
Spaniards to the New World. A fellow of excellent ad-
dress, he soon convinced the captains of the fleet of his
trustworthiness and that he was in authority in that part of
the island. Therefore, by representing his needs he pro-
cured from the officers swords, crossbows, lances and a va-
riety of military stores, at the same time craftily distributing
many of his men among the vessels' crews to wean them
from their allegiance to Columbus and to induce them to
accept the free and delightful life which he had to offer
them in Xaragua. When we consider that nearly all the
men who had shipped on the vessels were criminals, and
therefore possessed of the basest instincts, we cannot won-
der that the flattering proposals made by Roldan's men
readily influenced them to desert and join the rebels.

For three days Roldan entertained the crews before
Alonzo Sanchez de Carvajal, commodore of the fleet, dis-
covered his real designs, at which time the mischief was
consummated, for the rebel had received his supplies and
had planted the seeds that were to bring him a great harvest.
Contrary winds had also served Roldan beneficently, for the
ships being unable to beat up the coast Carvajal was per-
suaded to send a large number of the people on board over-
land to the settlement at Isabella. In pursuance of this
intent Juan Antonio Colombo landed with forty well-armed
men, who, however, no sooner gained the shore than thirty-
two of them went off and joined the rebels, nor would they
listen to any overtures from Colombo to return to duty.

Unable to accomplish anything on shore, Colombo re-
turned to the ships and contrived, after great danger and
delay, to bring the vessels to Isabella, though not until one
was badly injured by running on to a bar, and a larger part
of the provisions was spoiled.


The next six months were spent in a fruitless effort by
Columbus and his associates to conciliate Roldan and induce
him to renew his allegiance to the lawful authority. But
having tasted the sweets of gratified ambition he was un-
willing to surrender any of his advantages, unless it were
done in the acquirement of greater ones. His power had
become superior to that of Columbus himself, and in the
success of his rebellion he maintained that the Admiral
should practice that condescension which he had himself

In the meantime, while these negotiations were being
carried on there were other things to worry and vex the
already anguished spirits of the Admiral. He had prepared
a lengthy report of all his explorations and discoveries in
the Gulf of Paria, not omitting to send to his sovereigns a
gilded representation of the vast wealth which might be
acquired by collecting pearls which were to be found in the
greatest abundance and finest variety on the coast of South
America. But this report he did not conclude without
describing the insurrection of Roldan and depicting the
deplorable condition of affairs which had been precipitated
through the rebellion of that ambitious man and an upris-
ing of the natives. It was particularly unfortunate for Co-
lumbus that it was necessary he should make such a report,
because his attack on the hireling of Fonseca at the time of
his departure had materially prejudiced him in the estima-
tion of the sovereigns, while the repeated complaints and
revolts served as a further proof to them of the charge that
he was often actuated to imprudent acts by an uncon-
trollable temper. In consequence of this feeling the reply
which he received from Ferdinand and Isabella was couched
in most formal language, plainly intimating their waning
confidence in his judgment and stability.

Roldan had been induced, through the good ofifices of


Carvajal, to hold an interview with Columbus, at which
such concessions were made by the Admiral that the re-
bellious officer had agreed to take passage with his disaf-
fected followers for Spain. To accomplish this three cara-
vels were made ready, after considerable delay, in which the
rebels embarked. But they had scarcely gotten out of the
harbor of Isabella before a storm arose which drove them
violently on the shore and compelled them for the time
being to abandon the purpose and return home. This un-
fortunate accident seemed to prove that the elements were
opposing the designs of Columbus, since his hope of ridding
himself of the rebellious element of the colony was thus
suddenly destroyed; as upon regaining Isabella Roldan
reconsidered his determination to return to Spain and re-
newed his demands for greater concessions, to which, not-
withstanding their injustice, Columbus was compelled to
yield. As a price of peace Roldan received a title to a
considerable tract of land in the immediate district of Isa
bella and another in the valley of the Vega Real, and was
likewise appointed, under the pressure of his insistence,
alcalde of el Esperanza.

Upon receipt of the reports and letters of Columbus the
Spanish sovereigns, influenced by the representations of
Fonseca, who lost no opportunity to impair the authority
of Columbus, permitted the fitting out of four caravels un-
der Alonzo de Ojeda, who had formerly been under great
obligations to the Admiral but was now a creature of the
Spanish secretary. In violation of the exclusive prerog-
atives which had been granted to Columbus, Ojeda sailed
under the sovereign permit to the Gulf of Pearls, with the
ostensible purpose of verifying the discoveries reported by
Columbus, but really intending to profit thereby if he should
find his statements to be true regarding the great quantity
of pearls which he located there. While Ojeda failed to


procure any considerable quantity of the pearls, he did suc-
ceed in gathering some gold and a large number of slaves,
with which he returned to Spain ; after which successful
voyage, emboldened by the protection of Fonseca, he set
sail for San Domingo with the purpose of hurrying the
downfall of Columbus by seizing his power and person.

Ojeda appeared off the coast of Hispaniola at a time
when the affairs of the colony were in a most abject state,
and putting into the port of Yaquimo, a few miles from Isa-
bella, he began to industriously circulate reports among
such of the colonists as he could find to lend a willing ear
to his pretenses that Columbus was no longer in favor at
court, and that the Queen was then in declining health
beyond the hope of recovery, so that henceforth Fonseca,
his patron, was practically the true authority controlling in
the Indies. The old companions of Roldan applauded this
proceeding and a large number joined him, thus complicat-
ing the situation more than it had ever been before. In
the face of all these intrigues and evil instigations, having
their origin apparently near the Spanish Court, the courage
of Columbus, which had until then been undaunted, sud-
denly failed him. He foresaw that the purpose of his
enemies was to remove him by assassination if necessary,
and the instinct of self-preservation impelled him for the
moment to escape with his brothers in a caravel from the
rage of those who designed his destruction.

But in this darkest hour of his dejection his star of hope
suddenly shone through a rift in the cloud of his despair,
caused by a report which was brought him that a rivalry
had sprung up between Roldan and Ojeda, the outcome of
which could not fail to prove of advantage to the cause of
justice ; for it is a trite and ancient saying that, " When
thieves fall out, honest men have their dues." Roldan, per-
ceiving that his power was rapidly diminishing by the aliena-


tion of his followers through the intrigues of Ojeda, deter-
mined to unreservedly sustain in the future the authority of
the Admiral, whence his power of alcalde or chief-justice
was derived. So employing all his audacity and cunning as
well as physical force, after a series of curious incidents he
finally compelled Ojeda to take to his ships and put to sea.
At this time another event occurred which in the end
proved of service to the colonists and assisted greatly in the
restoration of the power which Columbus had lost. One of
Roldan's chiefs living in Xaragua, becoming infatuated with
the daughter of Queen Anacaona, desired to marry her and
applied to the Church to legitimate the union. Roldan,
however, appears also to have been enamored of the beauti-
ful princess, and took steps towards preventing the mar-
riage, which so inflamed the young ofificer that he hatched
a plot against the life of the chief-justice. Accordingly he
fomented a rebellion, and surrounding himself with a few
bold spirits who had given a solemn vow to perform his
orders, he formulated the desperate plan of seizing Roldan
and putting out his eyes. The plot was fortunately dis-
covered in time to avert the crime, and some of the con-
spirators being taken and adjudged guilty of the charge,
they were arrested and carried to San Domingo. As
Roldan was himself the chief-justice, within an hour after
the time they were brought before him, he had pronounced
their condemnation according to the degrees of their cul-
pability. The leader, Adrien dc Moxica, was condemned
to death, while his accomplices were either banished or im-
prisoned. The execution of Moxica was to take place from
the top of the fortress, but at the moment when the
executioner was prepared to do his duty the condemned
man repulsed his confessor, at which Roldan ordered the
wretch to be thrown from the top of the battlements into
the moat. But others of the conspirators had escaped, and


these Columbus on the one hand and Roldan on the other
pursued with vigor, taking with them a priest in order that
those made prisoners might have the benefit of a confessor,
for in each instance they were destroyed upon the spot
where they were captured. These heroic measures not only
ended the conspiracy but put an end to the rebellion which
had been fomented by Guevara, the aspirant for the hand
of the young princess. At the same time, by conceding to
the demands made by Roldan, Columbus had re-established
himself at the head of the colony, and was taking new
courage, when report reached him of the machinations of
his enemies at the Court of Spain, who had not yet aban-
doned their intent of depriving him of his power and bring-
ing him to judgment on the charges which had been
preferred, as previously described. The intent of these
enemies, however, had been carefully veiled up to the time
of putting their designs into execution, so that Columbus,
while learning that some evil was hatching, had no intima-
tion of the real measures concerted against him.

The result of these machinations was that the sovereigns,
through the advice of Fonseca, sent a Commissary to His-
paniola in the person of Francisco de Bobadilla, a man high
in the esteem of Fonseca and who likewise enjoyed the
confidence of the court. On the 23d of August, 1500, while
Columbus was engaged in enlarging the fortress of Concep-
cion, two caravels made their way through the mouth of
the Ozema River. Don Diego Columbus, thinking that the
caravels brought the eldest son of the Admiral, he having
written him to come, dispatched a boat to inquire if he was
on board. The reply brought back was that the vessels had
come bringing a Commissary of the sovereigns to judge the
Roldan rebels and that young Diego had not embarked.
Most unfortunately for Columbus, as the vessels put into
port Bobadilla, who was a hasty, harsh and vindictive man,


and withal a blind tool who had been well posted by the
malignant Fonseca, saw two gibbets on the beach, from
which were suspended two bodies that had been executed
the day previous. This sight in his mind justified the
charges of cruelty brought against the Admiral, and he was
thus the better prepared to give his judgment in opposition
to the advice or even evidence which might be presented by

Bobadilla and his suite disembarked and on the following
day attended mass, where at the conclusion of the services
he ordered his letters patent to be read, authorizing him to
investigate the late troubles that had arisen in the island.
Diego Columbus, who was present, replied that the viceroy,
his brother, had titles superior to this commission and should
be consulted in whatever action it was deemed advisable to
take. But in the most imperious and insolent manner
Bobadilla silenced Diego, and impertinently arrogated to
himself rights far beyond what his letters credited him with,
and his actions thereafter were those of a lawless and super-
cilious blackguard. He seized the fortress, took possession
of the prisoners and declared his purpose of sending the
viceroy and his brothers in chains to Spain. These high-
handed outrages were reported to the Admiral by a messen-
ger, upon receipt of wliich information he left Concepcion
and proceeded to a village called Bonao, from which place
he wrote to Bobadilla, felicitating him on his arrival, but
requested him not to take any more steps before he had
carefully studied the situation. At the same time he
assured the Commissary that he was willing to resign to
him the reins of government and would cheerfully furnish
him all the information that he might need to enable
him to make a true inquiry concerning the rebellion and
unhappy incidents that had so disturbed the island during
the past year. To this communication Bobadilla returned


no answer, but continued his arrogant pretensions to the
viceroyalty, to the subversion of all rightful authority over
the people.

The impudent audacity of Bobadilla, who had acted the
part of a pirate rather than an accredited officer of dignity,
at length aroused the enmity not only of the friends of
Columbus, but of some of the caciques who remained loyal
in their allegiance to the Admiral, and fearing that some con-
certed movement would be made to resent his rude assump-
tion of absoluteness, Bobadilla finally concluded to employ
persuasive and gentler means in bringing Columbus to sub-
mit to his authority. Accordingly he commissioned a priest
to proceed to Bonao and there inform the Admiral of his
having fallen into disfavor with his sovereigns, and to show
him the letters of credence under which he had come to
Hispaniola to assume direction of the affairs on that island.

Having received these letters and a request to come to San
Domingo, Columbus set out on horseback without servants
and clothed in the costume of a Franciscan. But when he
reached the city he was immediately arrested and incarcerated
in the fortress, and that his humiliation might be the greater
his feet were shackled with iron fetters. After perpetrating
this outrage Bobadilla ordered Columbus to address a letter
to his brother, Don Bartholomew, ordering him to relinquish
his authority in Xaragua and come to San Domingo without
his soldiers. Complying with this demand the Adelantado
had scarcely arrived at the residence of the viceroyalty when

Online LibraryJames W. (James William) BuelLibrary of American history (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 37)