Page images
PDF
EPUB

BY EXCHANGE

SEP 26 1939

EDITORIALS

By THOS. E. WATSON

The Story of the South and West

(Copyright by Thos. E. Watson, 1911)

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IV. HE alleged partiality of Je- equally manifest. The Italian was hovah toward Italians, is an surpassed by the Celt and the Teu

Archimedean lever in world ton in every other capacity, save as history, which historians have unani- to representing the Almighty. On mously and mysteriously ignored. the battle-field, the Italian was no Strange! For that mighty fact has match for the Norman; in literacontrolled national currents and ture, he was easily outclassed by destinies, ever since the Emperor other races of men: in all that made Constantine formed his copartner- up a Man, the Celt and the Teuton ship with the Christian priesthood. towered above the effeminate, tort

Consider the Dark Ages, wherein uous, licentious, dissimulating Italmen groped about in mental and ian: yet God invariably selected this spiritual gloom, haunted by all kinds inferior type of man, as His perof monstrous fears, possessed by all sonal mouth-piece and substitutesorts of fantastic superstitions—a to speak and act for Him, here betime in which no man dared to har- low. Strange, wasn't it? bor an idea that was not in con- Incidentally, I may remark that formity to the edicts of Rome: who, God's persevering partiality for the then, was God on earth? The weaker, lower type has come on Italian.

down to our own day. The Italian Was he the wisest of men? No. is nowhere, in political power; is Was he the best of men? No. Was nowhere, on the battle-field (even he the strongest of men? No. Why, the niggers of Abyssinia whipped then, did the Lord God Omnipotent him completely, a few years ago,). always choose the Italian to repre

and is nowhere, in robust, progresssent Him on earth, to bear the keys, ive, world-march, as compared to to bind and loose, to dispense heav- the indefatigable, indomitable, unenly mercies, to impose heavenly conquerable White-faced manyet penalties, to give away crowns and God is unwilling to be personally kingdoms, to say who should go to represented, in mundane affairs, by heaven and who should go to hell? any other person than a member of No one dared to ask the question. a decadent, hybrid, immoral race!

In Medieval Ages, the divine Very strange, isn't it? partiality to the Latin race was

He who would understand the certainty of horrible persecution story of mankind, must study the and death. relations of priesthoods to dynas- Bear in mind that the Spaniards, ties. (On that subject is yet to be the Catholics, did not mean to make written the greatest of profane their home in America. The Spanbooks.)

ish soldier came, to rob the native And to arrive at the true signific- of his gold: the Spanish priest, to ance of the successive episodes of convert him to the Roman creed. American history, it is indis- The soldier was on a temporary expensable that the student should be pedition: the priest, on a mission. acquainted with the religious wars Columbus, Pizarro, Cortez, Ponce which the Italian Vice-gerents of de Leon, DeSoto-none of them God precipitated upon Europe- dreamed of becoming permanent devastating some of her fairest settlers in the New World. To get provinces, razing some of her rich quickly, without regard to noblest cities, drenching her soil means and methods, was the purwith rivers of innocent blood; pose of each of these inhuman monslaughtering in the name of the sters. In the case of Ponce de Leon, merciful Christ a greater number indeed, we have this difference: the of men, women and children than years were climbing up on the old ever fell before the ruthless swords cavalier, and he hearkened unto a of the fanatical hosts of Mahomet. fabulous story of a Fountain of

"Believe in Allah and his Perpetual Youth. Certain of his Prophet, or die!" shouted the Sara- sins, and doubtful of his salvation, cen: “Believe in me, the Pope, or he preferred, as many good Chrisdie!” cried the Italian impostor. tians inconsistently do, to remain in The difference was, that the Mo- this Vale of Tears, rather than hie hammedan dealt the swift blow him to his apartment in the manwhich gave quick death; while the sion in the skies. Therefore, Ponce papal demoniacs were never satis- did concentrate his energies on tryfied until with rack, and club, and ing to find the waters that would iron pinchers, and slow fires, they turn hoary Winter into verdant had subjected their victims to the Spring, intending to live his life utmost possible limits of endurable over again, not in America, but in torture.

his native land. This historic fact explains much The truth of history demands that of American history. Why were

I draw a distinction between DeEuropeans who were accustomed to Soto and such characters as Columthe comforts of home-life, in Eu- bus, Pizarro, Cortez, Cabaza. rope; and who were amply endowed Of all the Spanish adventurers with worldly goods, so willing to who came to the New World seeking risk the perilous voyage across the gold, DeSoto is the most attractive. ocean, and to brave the terrors of In some respects he was a gallant the American wilderness? There is Knight-errant. Brave as his sword, only one explanation. To remain at he was capable of tender and conhome meant the abject surrender of stant devotion to a lady-love. Scornall that a Man holds dear; or the fully rejected by the Marquis De

Avila, when he sued for the hand of Indian chief, equalled any atrocity Avila's daughter, he waited for her of Columbus, Cortez or Pizarro. sixteen years, during five of which The fact is, that the Florida Innot a letter or a message passed be- dians told him the exact truth about tween the lovers. At length, after the gold region. He was assured the series of perfidious stratagems that the yellow metal which they which overturned the Peruvian Em- possessed, and which the original pire, DeSoto returned to Spain, chroniclers name “red copper, laden with spoil; and he married the came from the North, a six-days' beautiful Isabella, who had been as journey. A day's march for an Inloyal as himself. Then for two dian would be, easily, 50 or 60 miles, years, he is happy with her, and is for they usually went, single file, in the favorite at the Spanish court. a brisk trot. Therefore, had DeHis lavish expenditures having Soto believed the story told him, greatly reduced his wealth, he must and persistently kept on, Northneeds equip a fleet, at his own cost, ward, he would have penetrated the and return to America for more gold region of Georgia. loot. In vain, his devoted wife

His infernal cruelty to the natives pleads with him to be content, and caused him to miss the object of all to live in domestic bliss with her:

his toils. His guide, an Indian he turns a deaf ear to sane counsels, youth of North Georgia, was taking and sets sail expecting to find in him along the well-worn trail that Florida another Peru to pillage. led into the Cherokee region; but,

Nothing in the annals of the hu- on reaching what is now Washingman race surpasses the record made ton county, this Indian guide preby that proud, intrepid, inflexible tended to have a fit, and to see an adventurer. Knowing, as I do, the apparition which forbade him to go character of the swamps, the bogs, farther, in that direction. the tangled undergrowth of the This Indian was shrewd: he imlower South, my amazement in- mediately embraced the Catholic creases at every march made by De- faith, and the priests baptized him. Soto, as he leads his little army Consequently, DeSoto could not, from the Gulf Coast, to the interior without scandal, put him to the torof Georgia; and thence toward the ture, or kill him, out of hand. But Mississippi, and far beyond! it is exceedingly strange that

The atrocious cruelty with which neither De Soto, nor any of his his predecessors had treated the In- gold-hungry companions, suspected dians, made his own progress the the artifice and continued to pursue more difficult; and his five-years of the same trail. Instead, they allowjourneying was almost a continuous ed themselves to be decoyed off into running-fight.

the trackless wilds of what are now The passion for gold, and the Alabama, Arkansas and Missisbitterness bred of repeated disap- sippi. pointment appear to have brutalized They actually discovered the Hot the once chivalrous cavalier; for the Springs; which, after all, may have perfidious barbarity which he vis- been the Fountain whose wonderful ițed upon Tuscaloosa, the Alabama cures, exaggerated as they passed from mouth to mouth, gave rise to The intense dissatisfaction which the fable which inspired the quest prevailed in DeSoto's little band; of Ponce de Leon. And, very prob- the known fact that some of his offiably, his Indian guides, misled him, cers bore him deadly enmity; and round and round—not wishing that the conflicting accounts of his sudhe should occupy their country, at den, mysterious death — coupled the Hot Springs, intruding upon with night burial, in the Missistheir hunting grounds, and making sippi, warrant the suspicion that he a permanence of the brutal Spanish was poisoned. soldier, who outraged their women, One sad detail, and I hurry on: and committed other intolerable After five years of the loneliest deviltries.

suspense, the anxious wife, Isabella, De Soto paid no particular atten- hears the story of her lover-hustion to the Hot Springs, nor to the band's death. A survivor of the exmighty river which he “discov- pedition brought it to Cuba, to ered.' The Mississippi was, to which she had accompanied DeSoto. him, nothing else than an obstacle On hearing the piteous tale, which in his way to the gold-fields, be- but confirmed her fears and her yond. For, by this, time, he had warning, she never doubts it for a been told of the mineral wealth of moment: she believes it, and in the West; and, tireless man! he three days she is dead. meant to press on.

In vain, the fond, heart-hungry wife reaches him Coligny, had he lived in the days by letter, entreating him to come when cardinal virtues were deified ; home-expressing a grave, anxious, and when men put themselves to concern as to those atrocities prac- death, rather than live dishonored, tised upon the poor Indians. The would have had a place in “Pluletter fills him with melancholy, but tarch's Lives.

tarch's Lives." Aristides was not does not relax his resolution. more just than was Gaspard de Co

What happened to him, beyond ligny; nor was Epamanondas a the Mississippi, is not clear. He truer patriot; nor was Scipio a betpushed far into the West; and,

and, ter soldier; nor Lycergus, an abler again, was headed in the right di- statesman. Had he been of baser rection for the gold veins; but it metal, Coligny might readily have would seem that some invincible In- won the temporary triumph which dian tribe (the Comanches?) barred the Guises enjoyed; and intsead of his way; and his remnant band, now occupying the position of a footsore and disheartened, refused beacon-light of history, might be a to go farther.

forgotten nobody, like the two At least, that is my inference. ignoble brothers, the Duke of Guise The Spanish chroniclers confess the and the Cardinal of Lorraine. They Indian resistance, and the Spanish were victorious, then; he, now: they retreat: my conception of DeSoto's saw nothing but the Present, as so character suggests the explanation many commonplace people do: he that his men mutinied and refused saw The Future, and lived and died to go farther away from the great for it, as the few do, who feel called river, by which they knew they from on high to pass on to other could return to Cuba,

men and to other ages the sacred torch, without which the world were Indians. Although the colony was dark indeed.

planted in a climate which matures In the year 1561, Coligny deter- a crop of vegetables or of grain in mined to plant a colony of Protest- a few weeks, not a seed was put in tants in Florida. He was too pow- the ground. No thought of the fuerful to fear Catholic persecution ture disturbed these impractical himself, but he sympathized so

Frenchmen. That seasons and condeeply with those who were the

the ditions would change, and the food helpless sufferers from religious in- supply fail, did not apparently octolerance that he wished to provide cur to them at all. a haven of refuge for them. This The season did change, and the he could not hope to do in the Old food-supply did fail; and, although World: consequently, his eyes turn- the Indians were willing, they were ed to the New. At his own expense, not able, to feed the colony through he equipped two vessels which set the winter. sail from Havre, in February, 1562. So, a “starving time" came; and The company consisted of sailors, the Frenchmen had to live on town-workmen, and "a few gentle- acorns, roots, chance catches of fish, men."

Jean Ribault, was in com- and an occasional deer. mand. Why, in the name of com- To make their plight the more mon sense! did the great Admiral, miserable, the Captain of the colColigny fail to include in the ex- onists, Albert de la Pierra, was a pedition, some peasant, skilled in tyrant. With his own hands, he the planting of seed and the cultiva- hanged one of the men; and he tion of crops! It was one of those banished another to an islet, three fatal mistakes, as to practical detail, leagues away from the fort—to die which great men so often make. of hunger, sans miracle.

In two months, the vessels sighted As might have been expected, the the coast of Florida, near what is colony mutinied, and put their Capnow St. Augustine.

tain to death. Ribault landed, followed the coast Dreading a second winter and not Northward to the great river; (St. even yet thinking of the soil and its Johns) and, on one of its islands, tillage, as a source of food-supply, he determined to build a fort. He the colonists decided to return to found the natives friendly and help- France. ful, as all the early navigators and By the help of the Indians, and "discoverers" did.

with almost incredible labor, they He selected certain of his com- built a sea-going vessel, which they pany to constitute this settlement, refused to load with more provisafter which he sailed away, return- ions than were necessary for the ing to France, which he found in quickest possible voyage. They the throes of the worst of all wars, would not admit the probability of a religious civil-war.

encountering a calm-that terror of The little colony passed the sum- the seas which steam annihilated! mer in peace and plenty, subsisting So, away they went, on their voy. on the abundant game, wild fruits, age to home and loved ones; and, and the grain given to them by the of course, they were becalmed, in

« PreviousContinue »