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called upon all present to witness that he took possession of that sea, its islands, and surrounding lands, in the name of the sovereigns of Castile, and the notary of the expedition made a testimonial of the same, to which all present, to the number of sixty-seven men, signed their names. He then caused a fair and tall tree to be cut down and wrought into a cross, which was elevated on the spot from whence he had at first beheld the sea. A mound of stones was likewise piled up to serve as a monument, and the names of the Castilian sovereigns were carved on the neighbouring trees. The Indians beheld all these ceremo. nials and rejoicings in silent wonder, and, while they aided to erect the cross and pile up the mound of stones, marvelled exceedingly at the meaning of these monuments, little thinking that they marked the subjugation of their land.”
From the summit of the mountain Vasco Nuñez cheerfully pursued his journey to the coast; when he tasted the water and found it salt, he felt assured that he had indeed discovered an ocean ; he again returned thanks to God, and drawing his dagger from his girdle, marked three trees with crosses in honour of the Trinity and in token of possession.
He remained on the shore of the Pacific ocean till the 3d of November. In the interval, he conciliated by his good management the kind feelings of the natives; he visited some of the neighbouring islands; he was shown the valuable pearl fisheries ; and was loaded when he left there with pearls and gold. On his return he had several hostile rencounters with the natives, and reached Darien on the 19th of January, 1514.
“ Thus ended one of the most remarkable expeditions of the early discoverers. The intrepidity of Vasco Nuñez in penetrating, with a handful of men, far into the interior of a wild and mountainous country, peopled by warlike tribes; his skill in managing his band of rough adventurers, stimulating their valour, enforcing their obedience, and attaching their affections, show him to have possessed great qualities as a general. We are told that he was always foremost in peril, and the last to quit the field. He shared the toils and dangers of the meanest of his followers, treating them with frank affability ; watching, fighting, fasting and labouring with them; visiting and consoling such as were sick or infirm, and dividing all his gains with fairness and liberality. He was chargeable at times with acts of bloodshed and injustice, but it is probable that these were often called for as measures of safety and precaution; he certainly offended less against humanity than most of the early discoverers ; and the unbounded amity and confidence reposed in him by the natives, when they became intimately acquainted with his character, speak strongly in favour of his kind treatment of them.
“ The character of Vasco Nuñez had, in fact, risen with his circumstances, and now assumed a nobleness and grandeur from the discovery be had made, and the important charge it had devolved upon him. He no longer felt himself a mere soldier of fortune, at the head of a band of adventurers, but a great commander conducting an immortal enterprise. "Behold,' says old Peter Martyr, • Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, at once transformed from a rash royster to a politic and discreet captain :' and thus it is that men are often made by their fortunes ; that is to say, their latent qualities are brought out, and shaped and strengthened by events, and by the necessity of every exertion to cope with the greatness of their destiny."
While Vasco Nuñez was thus exulting in his successful expedition, fortune was preparing for him a sad reverse. The bachelor Enciso had arrived in Spain, and notwithstanding the statements of Zamudio, had made an unfavourable impression
in regard to Vasco Nuñez. The result was, that a new governor of Darien was appointed, in the person of Pedro Arias Davila, commonly called Pedrarias, a brave warrior, but little fitted to command in a colony such as that to which he was sent. A number of young Spanish nobles and gentlemen determined to accompany him, having heard wild stories of the wealth and adventures which the new world offered. Pedrarias was also attended by his heroic wife, Doña Isabella de Bobadilla, and by the bishop Quevedo, a just and benevolent priest. Scarcely had the new expedition left the shores of Spain, when news arrived there of the splendid discoveries of Vasco Nuñez, and the king repented that he had so hastily superseded him.
In the month of June, the squadron of Pedrarias anchored before Darien. When the hardy veterans of the colony heard that their beloved commander was to be thus removed, they were loud in their murmurs, and eagerly desired to resist the newly arrived governor. Not so Vasco Nuñez; he bowed at once to the mandates of the king, and acknowledged the authority of Pedrarias. This frank and honourable conduct was ill repaid by the new chief; he took advantage of the unsuspecting confidence of Vasco Nuñez, and directed him to be prosecuted for usurpation and tyrannical abuse of power. Fortunately, the bishop was opposed to the conduct of the governor, and even his wife ventured to express her respect and sympathy for the discoverer. This alone saved him from being sent in irons to Spain. In the mean time, the gallant Spanish cavaliers sunk beneath the fatal climate, to which they were unaccustomed, and the affairs of the colony became distracted. Pedrarias, to engage them, fitted out an expedition for the Pacific, but it ended in disappointment and disaster, and had little result but to change some of the friendly Indian tribes into implacable enemies.
While things were in this state, despatches arrived from Spain. In a letter addressed to Vasco Nuñez, the king expressed his high sense of his merits and services, and constituted him adelantado of the South Sea, though subordinate to the general command of Pedrarias. That governor, still envious of the renown of his rival, refused to confer on him the powers belonging to his new office, and all that Vasco Nuñez could obtain was the recognition of the title. Still further to thwart the honourable plans of the discoverer, he determined to explore, under his own auspices, the pearl fisheries and islands discovered by Vasco Nuñez on the Pacific, and for this purpose fitted out an expedition under the command of his own relative Morales ; he sent with him, however, Francisco Pizarro, who had accompanied Vasco Nuñez on his first expedition. These explorers were kindly received by the caciques, who willingly gave them pearls for hatchets, beads, and hawks' bills, which they valued
much more. An incident occurred on their visit to Isla Rica, which, connected with the future history of Pizarro, was singularly interesting.
“Finding that pearls were so precious in the eyes of the Spaniards, the cacique took Morales and Pizarro to the summit of a wooden tower, commanding an unbounded prospect. 'Behold before you,' said he, the infinite sea, which extends even beyond the sun-beams. As to these islands which lie to the right and left, they are all subject to my sway. They possess but little gold, but the deep places of the sea around them are full of pearls. Continue to be my friends, and you shall have as many as you desire ; for I value your friendship more than pearls, and, as far as in me lies, will never forfeit it.'
“He then pointed to the main land, where it stretched away towards the east, mountain beyond mountain, until the summit of the last faded in the distance, and was scarcely seen above the watery horizon. In that direction, he said, there lay a vast country of inexhaustible riches, inhabited by a mighty nation. He went on to repeat the vague but wonderful rumours which the Spaniards had frequently heard about the great kingdom of Peru. Pizarro listened greedily to his words, and while his eye followed the finger of the cacique, as it ranged along the line of shadowy coast, his daring mind kindled with the thought of seeking this golden empire beyond the waters."
On their way back through the mountains, the Spaniards were attacked by the savages with great ferocity ; and when they reached Darien their party was greatly diminished, though the spoil they brought with them was great.
In the mean time, the disagreement between Pedrarias and Vasco Nuñez continued, to the great regret of the bishop Quevedo, and the mortification of Doña Isabella. At length a plan was suggested by the former which had the fortunate effect of producing a reconciliation. It was agreed that Vasco Nuñez should marry the daughter of the governor, then in Spain, and he was accordingly betrothed at once. Pedrarias now looked upon the exploits of his rival as those of one of his own family, and no longer thwarted him. He cheerfully aided him in a new expedition which was planned for transporting timber across the isthmus, building brigantines on the Pacific, and exploring the country farther to the south. When Vasco Nuñez found himself floating in large vessels, on the waves of the vast ocean he had discovered, he felt an honourable pride, and a thousand visions of discoveries yet to be made crowded on his fancy. Alas! they were not destined to be realized. A person who had a private pique against him, insinuated himself into the confidence of Pedrarias ; declared that Vasco Nuñez had schemes of boundless ambition; that he would soon throw off his connexion with the governor, and above all, that such was his devotion to the Indian damsel, the daughter of Careta, that he would never wed her to whom he was betrothed. All the ancient enmity of Pedrarias was renewed ; he determined at once to put an end to the rivalry of Vasco Nuñez; by fair promises he induced him unsuspectingly to return; and as soon as he arrived within his power had him arrested and tried for treason. His con
demnation was to be expected, but deep was the emotion and surprise among the colonists when they learned that it was to be followed by the immediate death of the unfortunate soldier. No entreaties, however, could induce the governor to relent. He had his victim now in his power and he determined he should not escape.
“ It was a day of gloom and horror at Acla, when Vasco Nuñez and his companions were led forth to execution. The populace were moved to tears at the unhappy fate of a man, whose gallant deeds bad excited their admiration, and whose generous qualities had won their hearts. Most of them regarded him as the victim of a jealous tyrant; and even those who thought him guilty, saw something brave and brilliant in the very crime imputed to him. Such, however, was the general dread inspired by the severe measures of Pedrarias, that no one dared to lift up his voice, either in murmur or remonstrance.
“ The public crier walked before Vasco Nuñez, proclaiming, “This is the punishment inflicted by command of the king, and his lieutenant Don Pedrarias Davila, on this man, as a traitor and an usurper of the territories of the crown.'
“ When Vasco Nuñez heard these words, he exclaimed, indignantly, “It is false ! never did such a crime enter my mind. I have ever served my king with truth and loyalty, and sought to augment his dominions.'
“ These words were of no avail in his extremity, but they were fully believed by the populace."
“ Thus perished, in his forty-second year, in the prime and vigour of his days and the full career of his glory, one of the most illustrious and deserving of the Spanish discoverers-a victim to the basest and most perfidious envy.
“How vain are our most confident hopes, our brightest triumphs! When Vasco Nuñez, from the mountains of Darien, beheld the Southern ocean revealed to his gaze, he considered its unknown realms at his disposal. When he had launched his ships upon its waters, and his sails were in a manner flapping in the wind, to bear him in quest of the wealthy empire of Peru, he scoffed at the prediction of the astrologer, and defied the influence of the stars. Behold him interrupted at the very moment of his departure ; betrayed into the hands of bis most invidious foe; the very enterprise that was to have crowned him with glory wrested into a crime ; and himself hurried to a bloody and ignominious grave, at the foot, as it were, of the mountain from whence he had made his discovery! His fate, like that of his renowned predecessor Columbus, proves, that it is sometimes dangerous even to discern too greatly !"
There yet remain in this interesting volume the history of Valdivia and his companions, and of the bold Juan Ponce de Leon. Each contains scenes and incidents scarcely less interesting than those we have rapidly noticed ; but the termination of the story of Vasco Nuñez affords us a place to pause, and we are recalled from the agreeable task of narrating to that of expressing some opinion on the merits of the work which has so delightfully detained us. We
add that there is also an appendix, containing a narrative of a visit or pilgrimage, truly American, made by the author to the little port of Palos, where Columbus and so many of his followers embarked for America; it is in the happiest style, and cannot be read without the strongest emotions; we can scarcely refrain, notwithstanding its length, from presenting it entire to the reader.
The copious quotations we have made, and the abstract of some of the more interesting parts of the narrative, will be suf
ficient to relieve us in a great degree from the necessity of criticism. Our readers will, themselves, be able to form a just estimate of the power and skill of the writer, and of the pleasure to be derived from the story he has recorded. We venture to say, that by none will that estimate be otherwise than favourable, either to the talents of the author, or the interest of the work.
The style of Mr. Irying has been objected to as somewhat elaborate, as sacrificing strength and force of expression, to harmony of periods and extreme correctness of language. We cannot say that we have been inclined to censure him for this. If he assumed a style more than usually refined, it was in those works of fiction, those short but agreeable narratives, in which he desired to win the fond attention of the reader, but in which he never endeavoured to call up violent emotions, to engage in the wild speculations of a discursive fancy, or to treat topics requiring logical or historical correctness. For such works as the Sketch Book, we believe the style adopted by Mr. Irving to be eminently well fitted, and we do not hesitate to attribute much of the success of those charming tales to this very circumstance. We believe so the more readily, because we find him adopting in the Life of Columbus, and in the volume before us, a different manner, but one equally well suited to the different nature of the subject he treats. Without losing the elegance and general purity by which it has been always characterized, it seems to us to have acquired more freshness, more vivacity ; to flow on more easily with the course of the spirited narrative ; to convey to the reader that exquisite charm in historical writing-an unconsciousness of any elaboration on the part of the writer, yet a quick and entire understanding of every sentiment he desires to convey.
But connected with this, the writing of Mr. Irving possesses another characteristic, which has never been more strongly and beautifully exhibited than in the present volume. We mean that lively perception of all those sentiments and incidents, which excite the finest and the pleasantest emotions of the human breast. As he leads us from one savage tribe to another-as he paints successive scenes of heroism, perseverance, and self-denial -as he wanders among the magnificent scenes of nature—as he relates with scrupulous fidelity the errors, and the crimes, even of those whose lives are for the most part marked with traits to command admiration, and perhaps esteem-every where we find him the same undeviating, but beautiful moralist, gathering from all lessons to present, in striking language, to the reason and the heart. Where his story leads him to some individual, or presents some incident which raises our smiles, it is recorded with a naive humour, the more effective from its simplicity ; where he finds himself called on to tell some tale of misfortune VOL. IX.NO 17.