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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/23

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INTRODUCTION. 5 with them. On arriving at that Cape, he dismissed him with presents. To this account Don Fernando adds, that " although the Admiral had heard so much from these Indians concerning the great wealth, politeness and ingenuity of the people in the western parts of (what was afterwards called) New Spain, yet considering that, as these countries lay to leewards, he could sail thither whenever he might think fit from Cuba, he deter- mined to leave them for another occasion, and persisted in his design of endeavoring to discover the strait across the continent, by which he might open the navigation of the south sea in order to arrive at the spice countries."* It is well remarked by Mr. Irving, that it would have been fortunate for the venerable navigator had he come to a different determination. " Within a day or two," says that brilliant writer, " he would have ar- rived at Yucatan ; the discovery of Mexico and the other opu- lent countries of New Spain, would have necessarily followed ; the southern ocean would have been disclosed to him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed fresh glory on his declining age, instead of its sinking amidst gloom, neglect, and disappointment." Two distinguished navigators endeavored to make amends for this omission of the Admiral, and in 1506, two years after his return from that voyage, undertook to follow in his track as far as Cape Honduras, with the intention of steering from that point to the shores of the rich and unknown countries described by the Indians as lying to the west. These were Juan Diaz de Solis, afterwards the discoverer of the Rio La Plata, and Vicente Yanez de Pinzon, who commanded a ship in the first expedition of Columbus to the new world. They succeeded in reaching Cape Honduras, by the aid of one of the Admiral's men who acted as their pilot ; but on taking a westerly course soon found themselves in the bottom of a great bay, now known as the Bay of Honduras, with no indications of the rich coun-

  • We have preferred to take the above account literally from the Spanish

edition of Don Fernando's biography of his father, as more satisfactory than the embellished narratives of succeeding writers, who are indebted to that source for the facts.