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to proceed on his trial. Disloyalty to the king, and an intention to revolt against the governor, were the crimes he was accused of: sentence of death was pronounced ; and, notwithstanding the judges who passed it, seconded by the principal inhabitants of the colony, interceded warmly for his pardon, Pedrarias was inexorable; and to the sorrow and astonishment of the whole colony, they beheld the public execution of a man, whom they universally esteemed more capable than any who had command in America, of forming and executing great designs,

After the death of Balboa, several officers who had served under Pedrarias, entered into an association to undertake a voy. age of discovery. They persuaded Francisco Hernandez Cor. dova, a wealthy planter in Cuba, and a man of distinguished cou. rage, to join with them in the enterprize.

Velasquez, governor of Cuba, approved of the design, and assisted in carrying it on; he and Cordova, advanced money for purchasing three small vessels, and furnished them with every thing necessary, either for traffic or war. One hundred and ten men embarked on board of them, and sailed from Cuba, on the eighth of February, 1517. They stood directly west, relying on the opinion of Columbus, who uniformly maintained, that a wes"terly course would lead to the most important discoveries.

On the twenty-first day after their departure from Cuba, they saw land ; which proved to be Cape Catoche, the eastern point of that large peninsula projecting from the continent, which still retains its original name of Yucatan.

As they approached the shore, five canoes came off, filled with people, decently clad in cotton garments; an astonishing spectacie to the Spaniards, who had been accustomed to seek nothing but naked savages, in all their former excursions. The na. tives, though amazed at the Europeans, invited them to visit their habitations, with the appearance of great cordiality. They landed accordingly; and, as they advanced into the country, they were surprized at the sight of large houses built with stone. Notwithstanding their improvement in the arts of civilized life, above their countrymen, the Spaniards found them also more artful and warlike. For, though the cazique received Cordova with many tokens of friendship, he had placed a large body of his countrymen in ambush behind a thicket, who, upon a signal given by him, rushed out and attacked the Spaniards with great boldness, and, in some degree of martial order.

At the first flight of their arrows, fifteen of the Spaniards were wounded. But the Indians were struck with such terror, by the sudden explosion of their fire arms, and so intimidated not only by them, but by the cross-bows, and other weapons of their enėmies, that they fled precipitately ; and Cordova was willing to leave a country, where he had met such a fierce reception, carrying off two prisoners, together with the ornaments of a small temple, which he plundered in his retreat.

He continued to pursue a westerly course keeping the coast in

view, and on the sixteenth day arrived at Campeachy. There the natives received them with more hospitality. They proceeded further along the coast, and discovered the mouth of a river at Potonchon, some leagues beyond Campeachy. Cordova landed all his troops to protect the sailors, who were employed in filling their casks with water. The natives, nevertheless rushed down upon them with such fury, and in such numbers, that forty seven of the Spaniards were killed upon the spot, and but one man among them escaped unhurt. Their commander, though wounded in twelve different places, directed the retreat with prudence equal to the courage with which he had led them on to the engagement, and with much difficulty they regained their ships.

Nothing remained now but to hasten back to Cuba with their shattered forces. They suffered extremely for want of water, especially the wounded and sickly who were exposed to the heat of the torrid zone. Some of them died, and Cordova, their commander, expired soon after they landed in Cuba.

Notwithstanding the unfortunate issue of this expedition, they had now discovered an extensive territory not far from Cuba ; the circumstances related by the adventurers with exaggeration natural to men desirous to spread the merit of their own exploits, were sufficient to raise romantic hopes and expectations. Great numbers offered to engage in a new expedition. Velasquez, eager to distinguish himself by some brilliant undertaking, as might entitle him to claim the government of Cuba, independent of the admiral ; at his own expense fitted out four ships for the voyage. In these embarked two hundred and forty volunteers, among whom were several persons of rank and fortune.

The command was given to Juan de Grijalva, a young officer of distinguished merit and courage. He sailed from Cuba on the eighth of April 1518 : they held the same course as in the former voyage ; but the violence of the currents carried them farther -south. The first land they made was the island of Cozumel, to the east of Yucatan : and without any remarkable .currence, they reached Potonchon on the opposite side of the peninsula.

The desire of revenging their countrymen who were slain there, as well as fron policy, they were eager to land. But though they embarked all their troops, as well as some field pieces, the Indians fought with such courage, that the Spaniards gained the victory with difficulty.

From Potonchon they continued their voyage towards the west keeping near the shore. During the day their eyes were constantly towards the land, with surprize and wonder at the beauty of the country, and the novelty of objects around them. Many villages were scattered along the coast, in which they could disa tinguish houses of stone that appeared white and lofty at a dis. tance ; one of the soldiers remarked that this country resembled Spain at a distance. Grijalva, with universal applause, called it

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New Spain, the name which still distinguishes this extensive and opulent province.

On the ninth of June they landed at a river which the natives called Tobasco, and the fame of their victory at Potonchon hav. ing reached this place, the cazique received them amicably, and bestowed presents upon them, of such value as inspired them with high ideas of the wealth and fertility of the country. These ideas were confirmed at the next place at which they touched ; this was at the west of Tobasco, in the province since known by the name of Guaxaco. They were received with respect paid as to superior beings. The people perfumed them as they landed, with incense of gum copal, and offered them the most choice delicacies of their country: and in six days the Spaniards obtained ornaments of gold of curious workmanship to the value of fifteen thousand pesos, in exchange for European toys of small value.

As the Spaniards could not understand the language of the natives, they learned from them by signs that they were the subjects of a great monarch called Montezuma, whose dominion extended over that and many other provinces.

Leaving this place they landed on a small island which they called the island of Sacrifices : because there they beheld, for the first time, human victims which the natives had offered to their gods. Some of the officers contended that it was requisite to es. tablish a colony in the country they had discovered. Grijalva judged it more prudent to return to Cuba. This was the most successful voyage the Spaniards had hitherto made in the New World.

Velasquez had been informed of the success of the enterprize by an officer dispatched for that purpose by Grijalva, who-immediately sent an account to Spain of the success of the voyage ; withoạt waiting for the orders of his sovereign, he prepared for another expedition. This terminated in conquests of greater moment than any they had hitherto achieved, and will be related in the next book. When Grijalva returned to Cuba, he found an armament in readiness to attempt the conquest of that country, which he had discovered. Ambition and avarice urged Velas. quez to hasten his preparations; and the alluring prospect of gratifying both, made him cheerfully advance considerable sums from his private fortune, to defray the expense. Soldiers eager to embark in any daring enterprize soon appeared. The difficul. ty lay in finding a person fit to take the command.

Velasquez was solicitous to choose a commander intrepid, and one who possessed superior abilities; but at the same time from a jealousy natural to little minds, he wished him to be so tame and obsequious as to be entirely dependant upon his will. But he was soon convinced that it was impossible to unite such incompatible qualities in one person. Those who were conspicuous for courage, were too high spirited to be his passive tools, and those who ap. peared gentle and tractable, were deficient of the necessary qua: lifications requisite for such an undertaking. He deliberated

long, and still continued irresolute until Amado de Lares, the royal treasurer in Cuba, and Andres Duero, his own secretary, in whom he placed great confidence, proposed Fernando Cortes, and supported their recommendation with such address and assi. - duity as proved successful. Cortes was born at Medellin, a small town in Estremadura, in the year 1485, and descended from a noble family; but of very moderate fortune. He was sent early by his parents to the university of Salamanca, where he made some progress in learning. An academic life not suiting his ardent and restless genius, he retired to Medellin, where he gave himself up entirely to active sports, and martial exercises. At this period of his life, he was so impetuous and overbearing, and so dissipated, that his father was glad to comply with his inclina. tion, and sent him abroad as an adventurer in arms.

The Spanish youth who courted military glory, had an oppor. tunity to display their valour either in Italy, under the command of the great captain, or in the New World. Cortes preferred the former, but was prevented by indisposition from embarking with a reinforcement of troops sent to Naples. Then he turned his views towards America, where he hoped to advance himself under the patronage of Ovando, who was at that time governor of Hispaniola, and his kinsman. His reception was such as equalled his most sanguine hopes; and the governor employed him in several honourable and lucrative stations.

But his ambition was not to be satisfied with the moderate means of acquiring wealth or fame. It was in the stormy and active scenes of a military life, that he wished to distinguish himself.

With this view he requested permission to accompany Velas. quez in his expedition to Cuba. In this service he acquitted himself so well, that notwithstanding some violent contests, occasioned by trivial causes, with Velasquez, he was at length taken into favour, and received an ample share of lands and Indians.

Though Cortes had not hitherto acted in high command, he had displayed such abilities in scenes of difficulty and danger, as raised universal expectation, and turned the eyes of his countrymen towards him, as one capable of executing great designs. The turbulence of youth, as soon as he found objects suited to the ardour of his mind, gradually subsided into a regular habit of indefatigable activity. The impetuosity of his temper, when he came to act with his equals, abated, and mellowed into a cordial soldierly frankness. These qualities were accompanied with calm prudence in concerting his schemes, and with persevering vigour in executing them; and what is peculiar to superior genius, the art of gaining the confidence, and governing the minds,

To all which was added a graceful person, an insinua. ting address, extraordinarily alert in martial exercises, and a vigorous constitution, capable of enduring the greatest fatigue,

As soon as Cortes was mentioned to Velasquez by his two confidants, he flattered himself that he had found a man with talents

of men.

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for command, but not an object of jealousy. He concluded that his rank and fortune were not sufficient to inspire him with the hopes of independence. Several favours he had conferred upon Cortes ; and by this new and unexpected mark of confidence, Velasquez hoped to attach him for ever to his interest.

Cortes received his commission' with the warmest expression of respect and gratitude to the governor, and immediately erected his standard before his own house, and assumed all the ensigns of his new dignity. He persuaded many of his friends to engage in the service, and to urge forward the preparations for the voyage. He mortgaged all his lands and Indians to procure money, which he expended in purchasing military stores and provisions, or in supplying such of his officers as were unable to equip themselves in a manner suited to their rank.

Inoffensive and laudable as this conduct, was, his disappointed competitors were so malicious as to give it a turn to his disadvantage: they accused him at aiming, with little disguise, to esta. blish an independent authority over his troops, and endeavour. ing to secure their respect and love, by an ostentatious display of his liberality. They reminded Velasquez of his former dissen. tions, with the man in whom he now reposed so much confidence; and predicted, that Cortes would avail himself of the power which he was putting into his hands to avenge past injuries, rather than to requite late obligations. These insinuations made a powerful impression on the jealous mind of Velasquez,

Cortes soon observed a growing alienation, and distrust in his behaviour, and was advised by his friends Lares and Duero, to hasten his departure, before these should become so confirmed, as to break out into open violence. Cortes, sensible of the danger, hastened his preparations with such rapidity, that he set sail from St. Jago de Cuba on the eighteenth of November; Velas. quez accompanied him to the shore, and took leave of him with apparent friendship, though he had secretly given it in charge to some of his officers, to have a watchful eye upon every part of their commander's conduct.

Cortes proceeded to Trinidad, a small settlement on the same side of the island, where he was joined by several adventurers, and received a further supply of provisions and stores. He had hardly left St. Jago, when the jealousy of Velasquez grew so violent, as to be impossible for him to suppress it. Imagination now exaggerated every circumstance which had before excited sus. picion : his rivals, by their suggestions, increased his fears, and called superstition to their aid, employing the predictions of an astrologer to complete their designs. All these united, produced the desired effect. Velasquez repented bitterly

of his own imprudence, in committing a trust of such importance to a person, in whose fidelity he could no longer trust; and hastily dispatched instructions to Trinidad, empowering Verdugo, the chief magistrate there, so deprive Cortes of his commission. But Cortes secure in the esteem, and confidence of his troops, and finding they

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