Spanish Voyages of Discovery

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

THIRD VOYAGE OF ALONZO DE OJEDA.

CHAPTER I. OJEDA APPLIES FOR A COMMAND -- HAS A RIVAL CANDIDATE IN IEGO DE NICUESA -- HIS SUCCESS.

FOR several years after his ruinous, though successful lawsuit, we lose all traces of Alonzo de Ojeda, excepting that we are told he made another voyage to the vicinity of Coquibacoa, in 1505. No record remains of this expedition, which seems to have been equally unprofitable with the preceding, for we find him, in 1508, in the island of Hispaniola, as poor in purse, though as proud in spirit, as ever. In fact, however fortune might have favoured him, he had a heedless, squandering disposition that would always have kept him poor.

About this time the cupidity of King Ferdinand was greatly excited by the accounts which had been given by Columbus, of the gold mines of Veragua, in which the admiral fancied he had discovered the Aurea Chersonesus of the ancients, from whence King Solomon procured the gold used in building the temple of Jerusalem. Subsequent voyagers had corroborated the opinion of Columbus as to the general riches of the coast of Terra Firma; King Ferdinand resolved, therefore, to found regular colonies along that coast and to place the whole under some capable commander. A project of the kind had been conceived by Columbus, when he discovered that region in the course of his last voyage, and the reader may remember the disasters experinced by his brother Don Bartholomew and himself, in endeavouring to establish a colony on the hostile shores of Veragua. The admiral being dead, the person who should naturally have presented himself to the mind of the sovereign for this particular service was Don Bartholomew, but the wary and selfish monarch knew the Adelantado to be as lofty in his terms as his late brother, and preferred to accomplish his purposes by cheaper agents. He was unwilling, also,

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