The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

BOOK XVII.

CHAPTER I.
ADMINISTRATION OF OVANDO IN IIISPANIOLA—OPPRESSION OF THE
NATIVES.

[ 1503.]

Before relating the return of Columbus to Hispaniola, it is proper to notice some of the principal occurrences which took place in that island under the government of Ovando. A great crowd of adventurers of various ranks had thronged his fleet— eager speculators, credulous dreamers, and broken-down gentlemen of desperate fortunes; all expecting to enrich themselves

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afterward engaged on voyages of discovery in vessels of his own but met with many vicissitudes, and appears to have died in impoverished circumstances. His last will, from which these particullars are principally gathered, was dated in Valladolid, the 19th of June, 1536, by which it is evident he must have been in the prime of life at the time of his voyage with the admiral. In this will he requested that the re. ward which had been promised to him should be paid to his children, by making his eldest son principal algunzil for life of the city of San Domingo, and his other son lieutenant to the admiral for the same city. It does not appear whether this request was complied with under the successors of Don Diego.

In another clause of his will be desired that a large stone should be placed upon his sepulchre, on which should be engraved, "Here lies the honorable Cavalier Diego Mendez, who served greatly the royal crown of Spain, in the conquest of the Indies, with the admiral Don Christopher Columbus of glorious memory, who made the discovery; and afterward by himself, with ships at his own cost. He died, etc., etc. Bestow in charity a Paternoster, and an Ave Maria."

He ordered that in the midst of this stone there should be carved an Indian canoe, as given him by the king for armorial bearings in memorial of his voyage from Jamaica to Hispaniola, and above it should be engraved, in large letters, the word "CANOA." He enjoined upon his heirs to be loyal to the admiral ( Don. Diego Columbus), and his lady, and gave them much ghostly counsel mingled with pious benedictions. As an heir-loom in his family, he bequeathed s library, consisting of a few volumes, which accompanied him in his wanderings—viz: "The Art of Holy Dying, by Erasmus; A Sermon of the same author, in Spanish; The Lingua, and the Colloquies of the same; The History of Josephus; The Moral Philosophy of Aristotle; The Book of the Holy Land; A Book called the Contemplation of the Passion of our Saviour; A Tract on the Vengeance of the Death of Agamemnon, and several other short treatises." This curious and characteristic testament is in the archives of the Duke of Veragua in Madrid.

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