The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.
GRANTS MADE TO ROMAN AND HIS FOLLOWERS—DEPARTURE
OF SEVERAL OF THE REBELS FOR SPAIN.

[ 1499.]

When Roldan resumed his office of alcalde mayor, or chief judge, he displayed all the arrogance to be expected from one who had intruded himself into power by profligate means. At the city of San Domingo he was always surrounded by W faction; communed only with the dissolute and disaffected; and, having all the turbulent and desperate men of the community at his beck, was enabled to intimidate the quiet and loyal by his frowns. He bore an impudent front against the authority even of Columbus himself, discharging from office one Rodrigo Perez, a lieutenant of the admiral, declaring that none but such as he appointed should bear a staff of office in the island.* Columbus had a difficult and painful task in bearing with the insolence of this man, and of the shameless rabble which had returned, under his auspices, to the settlements, He tacitly permitted many abuses; endeavoring by mildness and indulgence to allay the jealousies and prejudices awakened against him, and by various concessions to lure the factious to the performance of their duty. To such of the colonists generally as preferred to remain in the island, he offered a choice of either royal pay or portions of lands, with a number of Indians, some free, others as slaves, to assist in the cultivation. The latter was generally preferred; and grants were made out, in which he endeavored as much as possible to combine the benefit of the individual with the interests of the colony.

Roldan presented a memorial signed by upward of one hundred of his late followers, demanding grants of lands and licenses to settle, and choosing Xaragua for their place of abode. The admiral feared to trust such a numerous body of factious partisans in so remote a province; he contrived, therefore, to distribute them in various parts of the island, some at Bonao, where their settlement gave origin to the town of that name; others on the bank of the Rio Verde, or Green River, in

____________________
*
Herrera, Hist. Ind., decad. i. lib. iii. cap. 16.

-443-

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