Christopher Columbus and the New World by Filson Young - HTML preview

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Columbus was at sea again; firm ground to him, although so treacherous and unstable to most of us; and as he saw the Spanish coast sinking down on the horizon he could shake himself free from his troubles, and feel that once more he was in a situation of which he was master. He first touched at Porto Santo, where, if the story of his residence there be true, there must have been potent memories for him in the sight of the long white beach and the plantations, with the Governor's house beyond. He stayed there only a few hours and then crossed over to Madeira, anchoring in the Bay of Funchal, where he took in wood and water. As it was really unnecessary for him to make a port so soon after leaving, there was probably some other reason for his visit to these islands; perhaps a family reason; perhaps nothing more historically important than the desire to look once more on scenes of bygone happiness, for even on the page of history every event is not necessarily big with significance. From Madeira he took a southerly course to the Canary Islands, and on June 16th anchored at Gomera, where he found a French warship with two Spanish prizes, all of which put to sea as the Admiral's fleet approached. On June 21st, when he sailed from Gomera, he divided his fleet of six vessels into two squadrons. Three ships were despatched direct to Espanola, for the supplies which they carried were urgently needed there. These three ships were commanded by trustworthy men: Pedro de Arana, a brother of Beatriz, Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal, and Juan Antonio Colombo—this last no other than a cousin of Christopher's from Genoa. The sons of Domenico's provident younger brother had not prospered, while the sons of improvident Domenico were now all in high places; and these three poor cousins, hearing of Christopher's greatness, and deciding that use should be made of him, scraped together enough money to send one of their number to Spain. The Admiral always had a sound family feeling, and finding that cousin Antonio had sea experience and knew how to handle a ship he gave him command of one of the caravels on this voyage—a command of which he proved capable and worthy. From these three captains, after giving them full sailing directions for reaching Espanola, Columbus parted company off the island of Ferro. He himself stood on a southerly course towards the Cape Verde Islands.

His plan on this voyage was to find the mainland to the southward, of which he had heard rumours in Espanola. Before leaving Spain he had received a letter from an eminent lapidary named Ferrer who had travelled much in the east, and who assured him that if he sought gold and precious stones he must go to hot lands, and that the hotter the lands were, and the blacker the inhabitants, the more likely he was to find riches there. This was just the kind of theory to suit Columbus, and as he sailed towards the Cape Verde Islands he was already in imagination gathering gold and pearls on the shores of the equatorial continent.

He stayed for about a week at the Cape Verde Islands, getting in provisions and cattle, and curiously observing the life of the Portuguese lepers who came in numbers to the island of Buenavista to be cured there by eating the flesh and bathing in the blood of turtles. It was not an inspiriting week which he spent in that dreary place and enervating climate, with nothing to see but the goats feeding among the scrub, the turtles crawling about the sand, and the lepers following the turtles. It began to tell on the health of the crew, so he weighed anchor on July 5th and stood on a southwesterly course.

This third voyage, which was destined to be the most important of all, and the material for which had cost him so much time and labour, was undertaken in a very solemn and determined spirit. His health, which he had hoped to recover in Spain, had been if anything damaged by his worryings with officialdom there; and although he was only forty-seven years of age he was in some respects already an old man. He had entered, although happily he did not know it, on the last decade of his life; and was already beginning to suffer from the two diseases, gout and ophthalmia, which were soon to undermine his strength and endurance. Religion of a mystical fifteenth-century sort was deepening in him; he had undertaken this voyage in the name of the Holy Trinity; and to that theological entity he had resolved to dedicate the first new land that he should sight.

For ten days light baffling winds impeded his progress; but at the end of that time the winds fell away altogether, and the voyagers found themselves in that flat equatorial calm known to mariners as the Doldrums. The vertical rays of the sun shone blisteringly down upon them, making the seams of the ships gape and causing the unhappy crews mental as well as bodily distress, for they began to fear that they had reached that zone of fire which had always been said to exist in the southern ocean.

Day after day the three ships lay motionless on the glassy water, with wood-work so hot as to burn the hands that touched it, with the meat putrefying in the casks below, and the water running from the loosened casks, and no one with courage and endurance enough to venture into the stifling hold even to save the provisions. And through all this the Admiral, racked with gout, had to keep a cheerful face and assure his prostrate crew that they would soon be out of it.

There were showers of rain sometimes, but the moisture in that baking atmosphere only added to its stifling and enervating effects. All the while, however, the great slow current of the Atlantic was moving westward, and there came a day when a heavenly breeze, stirred in the torrid air and the musical talk of ripples began to rise again from the weedy stems of the ships. They sailed due west, always into a cooler and fresher atmosphere; but still no land was sighted, although pelicans and smaller birds were continually seen passing from south-west to north-east. As provisions were beginning to run low, Columbus decided on the 31st July to alter his course to north-by-east, in the hope of reaching the island of Dominica. But at mid-day his servant Alonso Perez, happening to go to the masthead, cried out that there was land in sight; and sure enough to the westward there rose three peaks of land united at the base. Here was the kind of coincidence which staggers even the unbeliever. Columbus had promised to dedicate the first land he saw to the Trinity; and here was the land, miraculously provided when he needed it most, three peaks in one peak, in due conformity with the requirements of the blessed Saint Athanasius. The Admiral was deeply affected; the God of his belief was indeed a good friend to him; and he wrote down his pious conviction that the event was a miracle, and summoned all hands to sing the Salve Regina, with other hymns in praise of God and the Virgin Mary. The island was duly christened La Trinidad. By the hour of Compline (9 o'clock in the evening) they had come up with the south coast of the island, but it was the next day before the Admiral found a harbour where he could take in water. No natives were to be seen, although there were footprints on the shore and other signs of human habitation.

He continued all day to sail slowly along the shore of the island, the green luxuriance of which astonished him; and sometimes he stood out from the coast to the southward as he made a long board to round this or that point. It must have been while reaching out in this way to the southward that he saw a low shore on his port hand some sixty miles to the south of Trinidad, and that his sight, although he did not know it, rested for the first time on the mainland of South America. The land seen was the low coast to the west of the Orinoco, and thinking that it was an island he gave it the name of Isla Sancta.

On the 2nd of August they were off the south-west of Trinidad, and saw the first inhabitants in the shape of a canoe full of armed natives, who approached the ships with threatening gestures. Columbus had brought out some musicians with him, possibly for the purpose of impressing the natives, and perhaps with the idea of making things a little more cheerful in Espanola; and the musicians were now duly called upon to give a performance, a tambourine-player standing on the forecastle and beating the rhythm for the ships' boys to dance to. The effect was other than was anticipated, for the natives immediately discharged a thick flight of arrows at the musicians, and the music and dancing abruptly ceased. Eventually the Indians were prevailed upon to come on board the two smaller ships and to receive gifts, after which they departed and were seen no more. Columbus landed and made some observations of the vegetation and climate of Trinidad, noticing that the fruits and-trees were similar to those of Espanola, and that oysters abounded, as well as "very large, infinite fish, and parrots as large as hens."

He saw another peak of the mainland to the northwest, which was the peninsula of Paria, and to which Columbus, taking it to be another island, gave the name of Isla de Gracia. Between him and this land lay a narrow channel through which a mighty current was flowing—that press of waters which, sweeping across the Atlantic from Africa, enters the Caribbean Sea, sprays round the Gulf of Mexico, and turns north again in the current known as the Gulf Stream. While his ships were anchored at the entrance to this channel and Columbus was wondering how he should cross it, a mighty flood of water suddenly came down with a roar, sending a great surging wave in front of it. The vessels were lifted up as though by magic; two of them dragged their anchors from the bottom, and the other one broke her cable. This flood was probably caused by a sudden flush of fresh water from one of the many mouths of the Orinoco; but to Columbus, who had no thought of rivers in his mind, it was very alarming. Apparently, however, there was nothing for it but to get through the channel, and having sent boats on in front to take soundings and see that there was clear water he eventually piloted his little squadron through, with his heart in his mouth and his eyes fixed on the swinging eddies and surging circles of the channel. Once beyond it he was in the smooth water of the Gulf of Paria. He followed the westerly coast of Trinidad to the north until he came to a second channel narrower than the first, through which the current boiled with still greater violence, and to which he gave the name of Dragon's Mouth. This is the channel between the northwesterly point of Trinidad and the eastern promontory of Paria. Columbus now began to be bewildered, for he discovered that the water over the ship's side was fresh water, and he could not make out where it came from. Thinking that the peninsula of Paria was an island, and not wishing to attempt the dangerous passage of the Dragon's Mouth, he decided to coast along the southern shore of the land opposite, hoping to be able to turn north round its western extremity.

Sweeter blew the breezes, fresher grew the water, milder and more balmy the air, greener and deeper the vegetation of this beautiful region. The Admiral was ill with the gout, and suffering such pain from his eyes that he was sometimes blinded by it; but the excitement of the strange phenomena surrounding him kept him up, and his powers of observation, always acute, suffered no diminution. There were no inhabitants to be seen as they sailed along the coast, but monkeys climbed and chattered in the trees by the shore, and oysters were found clinging to the branches that dipped into the water. At last, in a bay where they anchored to take in water, a native canoe containing three, men was seen cautiously approaching; and the men, who were shy, were captured by the device of a sailor jumping on to the gunwale of the canoe and overturning it, the natives being easily caught in the water, and afterwards soothed and captivated by the unfailing attraction of hawks' bells. They were tall men with long hair, and they told Columbus that the name of their country was Paria; and when they were asked about other inhabitants they pointed to the west and signified that there was a great population in that direction.

On the 10th of August 1498 a party landed on this coast and formally took possession of it in the name of the Sovereigns of Spain. By an unlucky chance Columbus himself did not land. His eyes were troubling him so much that he was obliged to lie down in his cabin, and the formal act of possession was performed by a deputy. If he had only known! If he could but have guessed that this was indeed the mainland of a New World that did not exist even in his dreams, what agonies he would have suffered rather than permit any one else to pronounce the words of annexation! But he lay there in pain and suffering, his curious mystical mind occupied with a conception very remote indeed from the truth.

For in that fertile hotbed of imagination, the Admiral's brain, a new and staggering theory had gradually been taking shape. As his ships had been wafted into this delicious region, as the airs had become sweeter, the vegetation more luxuriant, and the water of the sea fresher,—he had solemnly arrived at the conclusion that he was approaching the region of the true terrestrial Paradise: the Garden of Eden that some of the Fathers had declared to be situated in the extreme east of the Old World, and in a region so high that the flood had not overwhelmed it. Columbus, thinking hard in his cabin, blood and brain a little fevered, comes to the conclusion that the world is not round but pear-shaped. He knows that all this fresh water in the sea must come from a great distance and from no ordinary river; and he decides that its volume and direction have been acquired in its fall from the apex of the pear, from the very top of the world, from the Garden of Eden itself. It was a most beautiful conception; a theory worthy to be fitted to all the sweet sights and sounds in the world about him; but it led him farther and farther away from the truth, and blinded him to knowledge and understanding of what he had actually accomplished.

He had thought the coast of Cuba the mainland, and he now began to consider it at least possible that the peninsula of Paria was mainland also—another part of the same continent. That was the truth—Paria was the mainland—and if he had not been so bemused by his dreams and theories he might have had some inkling of the real wonder and significance of his discovery. But no; in his profoundly unscientific mind there was little of that patience which holds men back from theorising and keeps them ready to receive the truth. He was patient enough in doing, but in thinking he was not patient at all. No sooner had he observed a fact than he must find a theory which would bring it into relation with the whole of his knowledge; and if the facts would not harmonise of themselves he invented a scheme of things by which they were forced into harmony. He was indeed a Darwinian before his time, an adept in the art of inventing causes to fit facts, and then proving that the facts sprang from the causes; but his origins were tangible, immovable things of rock and soil that could be seen and visited by other men, and their true relation to the terrestrial phenomena accurately established; so that his very proofs were monumental, and became themselves the advertisements of his profound misjudgment. But meanwhile he is the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, and can "make it so"; and accordingly, in a state of mental instability, he makes the Gulf of Paria to be a slope of earth immediately below the Garden of Eden, although fortunately he does not this time provide a sworn affidavit of trembling ships' boys to confirm his discovery.

Meanwhile also here were pearls; the native women wore ropes of them all over their bodies, and a fair store of them were bartered for pieces of broken crockery. Asked as usual about the pearls the natives, also as usual, pointed vaguely to the west and south-west, and explained that there were more pearls in that direction. But the Admiral would not tarry. Although he believed that he was within reach of Eden and pearls, he was more anxious to get back to Espanola and send the thrilling news to Spain than he was to push on a little farther and really assure himself of the truth. How like Christopher that was! Ideas to him were of more value than facts, as indeed they are to the world at large; but one is sometimes led to wonder whether he did not sometimes hesitate to turn his ideas into facts for very fear that they should turn out to be only ideas. Was he, in his relations with Spain and the world, a trader in the names rather than the substance of things? We have seen him going home to Spain and announcing the discovery of the Golden Chersonesus, although he had only discovered what he erroneously supposed to be an indication of it; proclaiming the discovery of the Ophir of Solomon without taking the trouble to test for himself so tremendous an assumption; and we now see him hurrying away to dazzle Spain with the story that he has discovered the Garden of Eden, without even trying to push on for a few days more to secure so much as a cutting from the Tree of Life.

These are grave considerations; for although happily the Tree of Life is now of no importance to any human being, the doings of Admiral Christopher were of great importance to himself and to his fellow-men at that time, and are still to-day, through the infinite channels in which human thought and action run and continue thoughout the world, of grave importance to us. Perhaps this is not quite the moment, now that the poor Admiral is lying in pain and weakness and not quite master of his own mind, to consider fully how he stands in this matter of honesty; we will leave it for the present until he is well again, or better still, until his tale of life and action is complete, and comes as a whole before the bar of human judgment.

On August 11th Columbus turned east again after having given up the attempt to find a passage to the north round Paria. There were practical considerations that brought him to this action. As the water was growing shoaler and shoaler he had sent a caravel of light draft some way further to the westward, and she reported that there lay ahead of her a great inner bay or gulf consisting of almost entirely fresh water. Provisions, moreover, were running short, and were, as usual, turning bad; the Admiral's health made vigorous action of any kind impossible for him; he was anxious about the condition of Espanola—anxious also, as we have seen, to send this great news home; and he therefore turned back and decided to risk the passage of the Dragon's Mouth. He anchored in the neighbouring harbour until the wind was in the right quarter, and with some trepidation put his ships into the boiling tideway. When they were in the middle of the passage the wind fell to a dead calm, and the ships, with their sails hanging loose, were borne on the dizzy surface of eddies, overfalls, and whirls of the tide. Fortunately there was deep water in the passage, and the strength of the current carried them safely through. Once outside they bore away to the northward, sighting the islands of Tobago and Grenada and, turning westward again, came to the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, where three pounds of pearls were bartered from the natives. A week after the passage of the Dragon's Mouth Columbus sighted the south coast of Espanola, which coast he made at a point a long way to the east of the new settlement that he had instructed Bartholomew to found; and as the winds were contrary, and he feared it might take him a long time to beat up against them, he sent a boat ashore with a letter which was to be delivered by a native messenger to the Adelantado. The letter was delivered; a few days later a caravel was sighted which contained Bartholomew himself; and once more, after a long separation, these two friends and brothers were united.

The see-saw motion of all affairs with which Columbus had to do was in full swing. We have seen him patching up matters in Espanola; hurrying to Spain just in time to rescue his damaged reputation and do something to restore it; and now when he had come back it was but a sorry tale that Bartholomew had to tell him. A fortress had been built at the Hayna gold-mines, but provisions had been so scarce that there had been something like a famine among the workmen there; no digging had been done, no planting, no making of the place fit for human occupation and industry. Bartholomew had been kept busy in collecting the native tribute, and in planning out the beginnings of the settlement at the mouth of the river Ozema, which was at first called the New Isabella, but was afterwards named San Domingo in honour of old Domenico at Savona. The cacique Behechio had been giving trouble; had indeed marched out with an army against Bartholomew, but had been more or less reconciled by the intervention of his sister Anacaona, widow of the late Caonabo, who had apparently transferred her affections to Governor Bartholomew. The battle was turned into a friendly pagan festival—one of the last ever held on that once happy island—in which native girls danced in a green grove, with the beautiful Anacaona, dressed only in garlands, carried on a litter in their midst.

But in the Vega Real, where a chapel had been built by the priests of the neighbouring settlement who were beginning to make converts, trouble had arisen in consequence of an outrage on the wife of the cacique Guarionex. The chapel was raided, the shrine destroyed, and the sacred vessels carried off. The Spaniards seized a number of Indians whom they suspected of having had a hand in the desecration, and burned them at the stake in the most approved manner of the Inquisition—a hideous punishment that fanned the remaining embers of the native spirit into flame, and produced a hostile combination of Guarionex and several other caciques, whose rebellion it took the Adelantado some trouble and display of arms to quench.

But the worst news of all was the treacherous revolt of Francisco Roldan, a Spaniard who had once been a servant of the Admiral's, and who had been raised by him to the office of judge in the island—an able creature, but, like too many recipients of Christopher's favour, a treacherous rascal at bottom. As soon as the Admiral's back was turned Roldan had begun to make mischief, stirring up the discontent that was never far below the surface of life in the colony, and getting together a large band of rebellious ruffians. He had a plan to murder Bartholomew Columbus and place himself at the head of the colony, but this fell through. Then, in Bartholomew's absence, he had a passage with James Columbus, who had now returned to the island and had resumed his. official duties at Isabella. Bartholomew, who was at another part of the coast collecting tribute, had sent a caravel laden with cotton to Isabella, and well-meaning James had her drawn up on the beach. Roldan took the opportunity to represent this innocent action as a sign of the intolerable autocracy of the Columbus family, who did not even wish a vessel to be in a condition to sail for Spain with news of their misdeeds. Insolent Roldan formally asks James to send the caravel to Spain with supplies; poor James refuses and, perhaps being at bottom afraid of Roldan and his insolences, despatches him to the Vega Real with a force to bring to order some caciques who had been giving trouble. Possibly to his surprise, although not to ours, Roldan departs with alacrity at the head of seventy armed men. Honest, zealous James, no doubt; but also, we begin to fear, stupid James.

The Vega Real was the most attractive part of the colony, and the scene of infinite idleness and debauchery in the early days of the Spanish settlement. As Margarite and other mutineers had acted, so did Roldan and his soldiers now act, making sallies against several of the chain of forts that stretched across the island, and even upon Isabella itself; and returning to the Vega to the enjoyment of primitive wild pleasures. Roldan and Bartholomew Columbus stalked each other about the island with armed forces for several months, Roldan besieging Bartholomew in the fortress at the Vega, which he had occupied in Roldan's absence, and trying to starve him out there. The arrival in February 1498 of the two ships which had been sent out from Spain in advance, and which brought also the news of the Admiral's undamaged favour at Court, and of the royal confirmation of Bartholomew's title, produced for the moment a good moral effect; Roldan went and sulked in the mountains, refusing to have any parley or communication with the Adelantado, declining indeed to treat with any one until the Admiral himself should return. In the meantime his influence with the natives was strong enough to produce a native revolt, which Bartholomew had only just succeeded in suppressing when Christopher arrived on August 30th.

The Admiral was not a little distressed to find that the three ships from which he had parted company at Ferro had not yet arrived. His own voyage ought to have taken far longer than theirs; they had now been nine weeks at sea, and there was nothing to account for their long delay. When at last they did appear, however they brought with them only a new complication. They had lost their way among the islands and had been searching about for Espanola, finally making a landfall there on the coast of Xaragua, the south-western province of the island, where Roldan and his followers were established. Roldan had received them and, concealing the fact of his treachery, procured a large store of provisions from them, his followers being meanwhile busy among the crews of the ships inciting them to mutiny and telling them of the oppression of the Admiral's rule and the joys of a lawless life. The gaol-birds were nothing loth; after eight weeks at sea a spell ashore in this pleasant land, with all kinds of indulgences which did not come within the ordinary regimen of convicts and sailors, greatly appealing to them. The result was that more than half of the crews mutinied and joined Roldan, and the captains were obliged to put to sea with their small loyal remnant. Carvajal remained behind in order to try to persuade Roldan to give himself up; but Roldan had no such idea, and Carvajal had to make his way by land to San Domingo, where he made his report to the Admiral. Roldan has in fact delivered a kind of ultimatum. He will surrender to no one but the Admiral, and that only on condition that he gets a free pardon. If negotiations are opened, Roldan will treat with no one but Carvajal. The Admiral, whose grip of the situation is getting weaker and weaker, finds himself in a difficulty. His loyal army is only some seventy strong, while Roldan has, of disloyal settlers, gaol-birds, and sailors, much more than that. The Admiral, since he cannot reduce his enemy's force by capturing them, seeks to do it by bribing them; and the greatest bribe that he can think of to offer to these malcontents is that any who like may have a free passage home in the five caravels which are now waiting to return to Spain. To such a pass have things come in the paradise of Espanola! But the rabble finds life pleasant enough in Xaragua, where they are busy with indescribable pleasures; and for the moment there is no great response to this invitation to be gone. Columbus therefore despatches his ships, with such rabble of colonists, gaol-birds, and mariners as have already had their fill both of pain and pleasure, and writes his usual letter to the Sovereigns—half full of the glories of the new discoveries he has made, the other half setting forth the evil doings of Roldan, and begging that he may be summoned to Spain for trial there. Incidentally, also, he requests a further licence for two years for the capture and despatch of slaves to Spain. So the vessels sail back on October 18, 1498, and the Admiral turns wearily to the task of disentangling the web of difficulty that has woven itself about him.

Carvajal and Ballester—another loyal captain—were sent with a letter to Roldan urging him to come to terms, and Carvajal and Ballester added their own honest persuasions. But Roldan was firm; he wished to be quit of the Admiral and his rule, and to live independently in the island; and of his followers, although some here and there showed signs of submission, the greater number were so much in love with anarchy that they could not be counted upon. For two months negotiations of a sort were continued, Roldan even presenting himself under a guarantee of safety at San Domingo, where he had a fruitless conference with the Admiral; where also he had an opportunity of observing what a sorry state affairs in the capital were in, and what a mess Columbus was making of it all. Roldan, being a simple man, though a rascal, had only to remain firm in order to get his way against a mind like the Admiral's, and get his way he ultimately did. The Admiral made terms of a kind most humiliating to him, and utterly subversive of his influence and authority. The mutineers were not only to receive a pardon but a certificate (good Heavens!) of good conduct. Caravels were to be sent to convey them to Spain; and they were to be permitted to carry with them all the slaves that they had collected and all the native young women whom they had ravished from their homes.

Columbus signs this document on the 21st of November, and promises that the ships shall be ready in fifty days; and then, at his wits' end, and hearing of irregularities in the interior of the island, sets off with Bartholomew to inspect the posts and restore them to order. In his absence the see-saw, in due obedience to the laws that govern all see-saws, gives a lurch to the other side, and things go all wrong again in San Domingo. The preparations for the despatch of the caravels are neglected as soon as his back is turned; not fifty days, but nearly one hundred days elapse before they are ready to sail from San Domingo to Xaragua. Even then they are delayed by storms and head-winds; and when they do arrive Roldan and his company will not embark in them. The agreement has been broken; a new one must be made. Columbus, returning to San Domingo after long and harassing struggles on the other end of the see-saw, gets news of this deadlock, and at the same time has news from Fonseca in Spain of a far from agreeable character. His complaints against the people under him have been received by the Sovereigns and will be duly considered, but their Majesties have not time at the moment to go into them. That is the gist of it, and very cold cheer it is for the Admiral, balancing himself on this turbulent see-saw with anxious eyes turned to Spain for encouragement and approval.

In the depression that followed the receipt of this letter he was no match for Roldan. He even himself took a caravel and sailed towards Xaragua, where he was met by Roldan, who boarded his ship and made his new proposals. Their impudence is astounding; and when we consider that the Admiral had in theory absolute powers in the island, the fact that such proposals could be made, not to say accepted, shows how far out of relation were his actual with his nominal powers. Roldan proposed that he should be allowed to give a number of his friends a free passage to Spain; that to all who should remain free grants of land should be given; and (a free pardon and certificate of good conduct contenting him no longer) that a proclamation should be made throughout the island admitting that all the charges of disloyalty and mutiny which had been brought against him and his followers were without foundation; and, finally, that he should be restored to his office of Alcalde Mayor or chief magistrate.

Here was a bolus for Christopher to swallow; a bolus compounded of his own words, his own acts, his hope, dignity, supremacy. In dismal humiliation he accepted the terms, with the addition of a clause more scandalous still—to the effect that the mutineers reserved the right, in case the Admiral should fail in the exact performance of any of his promises, to enforce them by compulsion of arms or any other method they might think fit. This precious document was signed on September 28, 1499 just twelve months after the agreement which it was intended to replace; and the Admiral, sailing dismally back to San Domingo, ruefully pondered on the fruits of a year's delay. Even then he was trying to make excuses for himself, such as he made afterwards to the Sovereigns when he tried to explain that this shameful capitulation was invalid. That he signed under compulsion; that he was on board a ship, and so was not on his viceregal territory; that the rebels had already been tried, and that he had not the power to revoke a sentence which bore the authority of the Crown; that he had not the power to dispose of the Crown property—desperate, agonised shuffling of pride and self-esteem in the coils of trial and difficulty. Enough of it.