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“you have caused my death by your cruelty; I now summon you to appear with me, within a year, before the judgment-seat of God ''' The captain made a light and scoffing answer and treated his summons with contempt. They were then off the coast of Veragua, near the verdant islands of Zebaco, which lie at the entrance of the gulf of Parita or Paria. The poor astrologer gazed wistfully with his dying eyes upon the green and shady groves, and entreated the pilot or mate of the caravel to land him on one of the islands, that he might die in peace. “Micer Codro,” replied the pilot, “ those are not islands, but points of land: there are no islands hereabout.” “There are, indeed,” replied the astrologer, “two good and pleasant islands, well watered and near to the coast, and within them is a great bay with a harbor. Land me, I pray you, upon one of these islands, that I may have comfort in my dying hour.” The pilot, whose rough nature had been touched with pity for the condition of the unfortunate astrologer, listened to his prayer and conveyed him to the shore, where he found the opinion he had given of the character of the coast to be correct. He laid him on the herbage in the shade, where the poor wanderer soon expired. The pilot then dug a grave at the foot of a tree, where he buried him with all possible decency, and carved a cross on the bark to mark the grave.
Some time afterwards, Oviedo, the historian, was on the island with this very pilot, who showed him the cross on the tree, and gave his honest testimony to the good character and worthy conduct of Micer Codro. Oviedo, as he regarded the nameless grave, passed the eulogium of a scholar upon the poor astrologer : “He died,” says he, “like Pliny, in the discharge of his duties, travelling about the world to explore the secrets of nature.” According to his account, the prediction of Micer Codro held good with respect to Valenzuela, as it had in the case of Vasco Nuñez. The captain died within the term in which he had summoned him to appear before the tribunal of God *
REconnoitRING ExPEDITION of JUAN PONCE DE LEON TO THE ISLAND OF BORIQUEN.
ANY years had elapsed since the disM covery and colonization of Hayti, yet its neighboring island of Boriquen, or as the Spaniards called it, St. Juan, (since named Porto Rico,) remained unexplored. It was beautiful to the eye as beheld from the sea, having lofty mountains clothed with forest trees of prodigious size and magnificent foliage. There were broad, fertile valleys also, always vol. v.–5 65
fresh and green ; for the frequent showers and abundant streams in these latitudes, and the absence of all wintry frosts, produced a perpetual verdure. Various ships had occasionally touched at the island, but their crews had never penetrated into the interior. It was evident however from the number of hamlets and scattered houses, and the smoke rising in all directions from among the trees, that it was well peopled. The inhabitants still continued to enjoy their life of indolence and freedom, unmolested by the ills that overwhelmed the neighboring island of Hayti. The time had arrived however when they were to share the common lot of their fellow savages, and to sink beneath the yoke of the white man. At the time when Nicholas de Ovando, Governor of Hispaniola, undertook to lay waste the great province of Higuey, which lay at the eastern end of Hayti, he sent as commander of part of the troops, a veteran soldier, named Juan Ponce de Leon. He was a native of Leon in Spain, and in his boyhood had been page to Pedro Nuñez de Guzman, Señor of Toral.” From an early age he had been schooled to war, and had served in various campaigns against the Moors of Granada. He accompa
* Incas, Garcilaso de la Vega, Hist. Florida, tom. iv., cap. 37.
nied Columbus in his second voyage in 1493, and was afterwards, it is said, one of the partisans of Francisco Roldan in his rebellion against the Admiral. Having distinguished himself in various battles with the Indians, and acquired a name for sagacity as well as valor, he received a command subordinate to Juan de Esquibel in the campaign against Higuey, and seconded his chief so valiantly in that sanguinary expedition, that after the subjugation of the province he was appointed to the command of it, as lieutenant of the Governor of Hispaniola. Juan Ponce de Leon had all the impatience of quiet life and the passion for exploit of a veteran campaigner. He had not been long in the tranquil command of his province of Higuey, before he began to cast a wistful eye towards the green mountains of Boriquen. They were directly opposite, and but twelve or fourteen leagues distant, so as to be distinctly seen in the transparent atmosphere of the tropics. The Indians of the two islands frequently visited each other, and in this way Juan Ponce received the usual intelligence, that the mountains he had eyed so wistfully abounded with gold. He readily obtained permission from Governor Ovando to make an expedition to this island, and embarked in the year 1508 in a caravel,