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FLORIDA-PONCE DE LEON.
brave soldier to pine at the loss of power over a wild CHAP. though fertile island? Age had not tempered the love of enterprize; he longed to advance his fortunes by the conquest of a kingdom, and to retrieve a reputation, which was not without a blemish.1 Besides; the veteran soldier, whose cheeks had been furrowed by hard service, as well as by years, had heard, and had believed the tale, of a fountain, which ́ possessed virtues to renovate the life of those who should bathe in its stream, or give a perpetuity of youth to the happy man who should drink of its ever-flowing waters. So universal was this tradition, that it was credited in Spain, not by all the people and the court only, but by those, who were distinguished for virtue and intelligence. Nature was to discover the secrets, for which alchymy had toiled in vain; and the elixir of life was to flow from a perpetual fountain of the New World, in the midst of a country glittering with gems and gold.
Ponce embarked at Porto Rico, with a squadron 1512. of three ships, fitted out at his own expense, for his voyage to fairy land. He touched at Guanahani; he sailed among the Bahamas; but the laws of nature remained inexorable. On Easter Sunday, Mar. which the Spaniards call Pascua Florida, land was seen. It was supposed to be an island, and received the name of Florida, from the day on which it was discovered, and from the aspect of the forests, which were then brilliant with a profusion of blossoms, and
1 Peter Martyr, d. iii. l. x. Hakluyt, v. v. p. 307.
2 Peter Martyr, d. vii. 1. vii. in
Hakluyt, v. v. p. 422, and d, ii, c,
CHAP. gay with the fresh verdure of early spring. Bad II. weather would not allow the squadron to approach 1512. land; at length the aged soldier was able to go on April 2. shore, in the latitude of thirty degrees and eight April minutes; some miles, therefore, to the north of St. Augustine. The territory was claimed for Spain. Ponce remained for many weeks to investigate the coast which he had discovered; though the currents of the gulf stream, and the islands, between which the channel was yet unknown, threatened shipwreck. He doubled Cape Florida; he sailed among the group, which he named Tortugas; and, despairing of entire success, he returned to Porto Rico, leaving a trusty follower to continue the research. Indians had every where displayed determined hostility. Ponce de Leon remained an old man; but Spanish commerce acquired a new channel through the gulf of Florida, and Spain a new province, which imagination could esteem immeasurably rich, since its interior was unknown.
The government of Florida was the reward, which Ponce received from the king of Spain; but the dignity was accompanied with the onerous condition, that he should colonize the country, which he was 1514, appointed to rule. Preparations in Spain and an 1520. expedition against the Carribbee Indians, delayed When, after a long interval, ships to take possession of
his return to Florida. 1521. he proceeded with two
his province and select a site for a colony, his company was attacked by the Indians with implacable fury. Many Spaniards were killed; the survivors
were forced to hurry to their ships; Ponce de Leon CHAP. himself, mortally wounded by an arrow, returned to Cuba to die. So ended the adventurer, who had coveted immeasurable wealth, and had hoped for perpetual youth. The discoverer of Florida had desired immortality on earth, and gained its shadow.1 Meantime, commerce may have discovered a path 1516. to Florida; and Diego Miruelo, a careless sea captain, sailing from Havana, is said to have approached the coast, and trafficked with the natives. He could not tell distinctly in what harbor he had anchored; he brought home specimens of gold, obtained in exchange for toys; and his report swelled the rumors, already credited, of the wealth of the country. Florida had at once obtained a governor; it now constituted a part of a bishoprick.2
The expedition of Francisco Fernandez, of Cor- 1517. dova, leaving the port of Havana, and sailing west by south, discovered the province of Yucatan and the bay of Campeachy. He turned his prow to the north; but, whatever may be asserted by careless historians, he was, by no means, able to trace the coast to any harbor which Ponce de Leon had visited.3 At a place, where he had landed for supplies
1 On Ponce de Leon, I have used Herrera, d. i. 1. ix. c. x. xi. and xii., and d. i. l. x. c. xvi. Peter Martyr, d. iv. l. v., and d. v. l. i. and d. vii. l. iv. In Hakluyt, v. v. p. 320, 333, and 416. Gomara, Hist. Gen. de las Ind. c. xlv. Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. de la Florida, l. i. c. iii., and l. vi. c. xxii. p. 2, 3, and 266 of the folio edition of 1723. Cardenas z Cano, Ensayo Cronologico para la Hist.
Gen. de la Florida, d. i. p. 1, 2 and
2 Florida del Inca, Vega, l. i. c.
3 The Ensayo Cronologico para la Historia General de la Flori
CHAP. of water, his company was suddenly assailed, and he himself mortally wounded.
The pilot whom Fernandez had employed, soon conducted another squadron to the same shores. The knowledge already acquired, was extended, and under happier auspices; and Grijalva, the commander of the fleet, explored the coast from Yucatan towards Panuco. The masses of gold which he collected, the rumors of the empire of Montezuma, its magnificence and its extent, heedlessly confirmed by the costly presents of the unsuspecting natives, were sufficient to inflame the coldest imagination; and excited the enterprize of Cortes. The voyage did not reach the shores of Florida.1
But while Grijalva was opening the way to the conquest of Mexico, the line of the American coast, from the Tortugas to Panuco, is said to have been examined, yet not with care, by an expedition, which was planned, if not conducted, by Francisco Garay, the governor of Jamaica. The general outline of the gulf of Mexico, now became known. encountered the determined hostility of the natives; a danger which eventually proved less disastrous to him, than the rivalry of his own countrymen. The adventurers in New-Spain would endure no independent neighbor; the governor of Jamaica became
da is not sufficiently discrimina-
1 Peter Martyr, d. iv. l. iii. and iv., in Hakluyt, v. v. p. 315–319. Herrera, d. ii. l. iii. c. ix. Bern. Diaz. 1. i. c. ix-xiv. Ant. de Solis, l. i. c. vii., viii., ix. Gomara, c. xlix.
2 Peter Martyr, d. v. l. i. Gomara, c. xlvi.
SOUTH-CAROLINA-VAZQUEZ DE AYLLON.
involved in a career, which, as it ultimately tempted CHAP. him to dispute the possession of a province with Cortes, led him to the loss of fortune and an inglorious death. The progress of discovery along the southern boundary of the United States, was but little advanced by the expedition, of which the circumstances have been variously related.1
A voyage for slaves brought the Spaniards still fur- 1520. ther upon the northern coast. A company of seven, of whom the most distinguished was Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon, fitted out two slave ships from St. Domingo, in quest of laborers for their plantations and mines. From the Bahama islands, they passed to the coast of South-Carolina, a country which was called Chicora. The Combahee river received the name of the Jordan; the name of St. Helena, given to a cape, now belongs to the sound. The natives of this region had not yet had cause to fear Europeans; their natural fastnesses had not yet been invaded; and if they fled at the approach of men from the slave ships, it was rather from timid wonder, than from a sense of peril. Gifts were interchanged; a liberal hospitality was offered to the strangers; confidence was established. At length the natives were invited to visit the ships; they came in cheerful throngs; the decks were covered. Immediately the ships weighed anchor; the sails were unfurled, and the prows turned towards St. Domingo. Husbands were torn from their wives
1 Peter Matyr, d. v. l. i. Gomara, c. xlvii. Ensayo Cronologico, p. 3, 4. Herrera, d. ii. 1.
iii. c. vii. T. Southey's History of
2 Holmes' Annals, v. i. p. 47.