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mingo, and soon after assumed the habit of that order. But it is time to return to the Spanish discoveries.

Velasquez, who conquered Cuba, still retained the government of that island as the deputy of Diego Columbus ; and under his prudent administration Cuba became one of the most flourishing of the Spanish settlements. The fame of this allured thither many persons from the other colonies, in hopes of finding either some permanent establishment, or some employment for their activity. As Cuba lay to the west of all the islands occupied by the Spaniards, and as the ocean which stretches beyond it towards that quarter had not hitherto been explored, these circumstances naturally invited the inhabitants to attempt new discoveries. An association was formed for this purpose, at the head of which was Francisco Hernandez Cordova. Velasquez approved of the design, and assisted in carrying it on. He and Cordova advanced money for the purchase of three small vessels, on which they embarked one hundred and ten men. They stood directly west, in conformity to the opinion of the great Columbus, who uniformly main

A.D. tained that a westerly course would lead to

1517. the most important discoveries. On the twenty-first day after their departure from St. Jago they saw land, which proved to be the eastern point of the large peninsula of Yucatan. As they approached the shore, five canoes came off full of people decently clad in cotton garments. Cordova endeavoured by small presents to gain the good will of these people. They, in return, invited the Spaniards to visit their habitations, with an appearance of cordiality : but they soon found that, if the people of Yucatan had made progress improvement beyond their countrymen, they were likewise more artful and warlike. For though the cazique received Cordova with: many tokens of friendship, he had posted a considerable body of his subjects in an ambush behind a thicket, who, upon a signal given, rushed out and attacked the Spaniards with great boldness, and some degree of martial order. At the first flight of their arrows, fifteen of the Spaniards were wounded; but the Indians were struck with terror by the explosion of the fire-arms, and so surprised at the execution done by them with the cross-bows, that they fled precipitately. Cordova quitted a country where he had met with such a fierce reception, carrying off two prisoners, together with the ornaments of a sinall temple, which he plundered in his retreat. He continued his course towards the west, and on the sixteenth day arrived at Campeachy, where the natives received him hospitably. As their water began to fail, they advanced and discovered a river at Potonchan, some leagues beyond Campeachy. Cordova landed his troops, in order to protect the sailors while employed in filling the casks; but notwithstanding this precaution, the natives rushed down upon then with such fury, and in such numbers, that forty-seven of the Spaniards were killed on the spot, and one man only of the whole body escaped unhurt. After this fatal repulse, nothing remained but to hasten back to Cuba with their shattered forces. In their passage they surfered exquisite distress for want of water: some of them sunk under these calamities, and died by the way. Cordova, their commander, expired soon after they landed at Cuba.

Notwithstanding the disastrous conclusion of this expedition, it contributed rather to animate than to damp the spirit of enterprise among the Spaniards. Velasquez encouraged their ardour, and fitted out, at his own expence, four ships for a new enterprise. The command of it was given to Juan de Grijalva, who soon discovered that

than

A. D. part of the continent which has ever since

1518. been known by the name of New Spain.

They landed at a river which the natives called Tabasco; and the fame of their victory at Potonchan having reached this place, the cazique received them amicably, and bestowed upon them some valuable presents. They next touched at Guaxaca, where they were received with the respect paid to superior beings. The people perfumed them as they landed with incense of gumcopal, and presented to them as offerings the choicest delicacies of the country. They were extremely fond of trading with the new visitants ; and in six days the Spaniards obtained ornaments of gold to the value of more than 3000l. in exchange for European toys. The two prisoners whom tliey brought from Yucatan had bitherto served as interpreters; but as they did not understand the language of this country, the Spaniards learned from the natives by signs, that they were subjects of a great monarch named Montezuma, whose dominion extended over that and many other provinces. Grijalva continued his course towards the west. He landed on a small isle which he called the Isle of Sacrifices, because there the Spaniards beheld, for the first time, the horrid spectacle of human victims offered to the gods. He touched also at the island St. Juan de Ulua, from which place he dispatched Pedro de Alvarado, one of his officers, to Velasquez with a full account of the important discoveries that he had

G3

made.

made. In the mean time he proceeded along the coast as far as the river Panuco. Several of his officers were desirous of planting a colony in some proper station, in order that they might extend the dominion of their sovereign. This scheme, however, appeared to Grijalva too perilous to be attempted. He judged it more prudent to return to Cuba, having fulfilled the purpose of his voyage; which he did after an absence of six months.

This was the longest as well as the most successful voyage which the Spaniards had made in the New World. As soon as Alvarado reached Cuba, Velasquez, transported with success so much beyond his expectations, immediately dispatched a person in his

confidence to carry this important intelligence to Spain, and to solicit such an increase of authority as might enable him to attempt projects on a much larger scale. Without waiting for the return of his messenger, or for the arrival of Grijalva, of whom he became so jealous as to resolve to employ him no longer, he began to prepare such a powerful armament as might prove equal to an enterprise of danger and importance. But before we eriter upon a detailed account of the expedition on which Velasquez was intent, it may be proper to pause, and take a brief view of the state of the New World when first discovered, and to · contemplate the policy and manners of the rude tribes that occupied the parts of it with which the Spaniards were at this time acquainted,

CHAP.

CHAP. III.

View of America when first discovered. Its vast

Extent. Grandeur of its Objects. Its Mountrins, Rivers. Lakes. Climate. Its uncultivated State. Its Soil. How America was peopled. Condition and Character of the Americans. . All Savages, except the Mericans and Peruvians. The bodily Constitution. The Qualities of their Minds. Their domestic State. Their political Institutions. Their System of War. The Arts with which they were acquvinted. Their religious Institutions. Detached Customs, General Review of their Virtues and Vices.

TWEN
WENTY-SIX years had elapsed since Co-

lumbus conducted Europeans to the New World. . During that period the Spaniards had made great progress in exploring its various regions. They had sailed along the eastern coast of the continent, froń the river De la Plata to the bottom of the Mexican Gulf, and had found that it stretched, without interruption, through this vast portion of the globe. They had discovered the great Southern Ocean, and acquired some knowledge of the coast of Florida ; and though they pushed their discoveries no farther north, other nations had vi. sited those parts which they had neglected. The English had sailed from Labrador to the confines of Florida, and the Portuguese had viewed the same regions. Thus, at this period, the extent of the New World was known almost from its northern extremity to 35 degres south of the equator. The countries which stretch from thence to the

southern

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