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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/24

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b INT RODUC T 10 N. tries of which they were in pursuit ; returning thence they dis- covered the east side of the peninsula of Yucatan, but without exploring the coast, or ascertaining the character of the inhab- itants. The discovery of Yucatan must, however, be ascribed to these bold navigators, although unsuccessful in the great object of their voyage,* No account is found of any subsequent voyages in the same direction until the year 1517, when an expedition for discovery was fitted out from the island of Cuba, under the command of Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, consisting of three small vessels, carrying 110 men, who were enlisted amongst the Spa- nish adventurers in the islands. Antonio Alaminos, who had accompanied Columbus in his last voyage, acted as chief pilot. Taking a westerly course, after some days they arrived on the eastern coast of Yucatan, and gave the name of Catoche to a point of land, which it still bears.t Here they discovered a large town, and were visited by the inhabitants, who invited them on shore ; but the appearance of kindness proved to be insincere, for they were attacked by an armed force, with which they had a sharp engagement. The enemy were at length de- feated with considerable loss, and on the part of the Spaniards several were wounded. The natives were armed with wooden swords having edges of flint, darts, bows and arrows, and wore plumes of feathers, a defensive armor of quilted cotton, and bucklers. Near the place where the encounter happened, there were three buildings constructed of stone and lime, containing idols of clay and various articles formed of alloyed gold, " which," says Bernal Diaz, " gave us a high idea of the

  • Herrera has a short account of this voyage under the year assigned to it

above ; but even this short account is abridged one half by the English transla- tor. Historia General, etc. Dec. I. 1. vi. c. 17. Holmes confounds this voyage with that in which Solis discovered the La Plata, ten years later. American Annals. A. D. 1516. Fernando Columbus complains that Solis and Pinzon pretended to be the first discoverers of the coast of Honduras, with manifest in- justice to the Admiral, claiming that he had visited another part of the continent, in consequence of which the same places were twice laid down in the charts. He refers their voyage to the year 1508. Historia del Almirante. cap. 89. t It seems, however, that there is some doubt as to the precise locality of Cape Catoche ; there being several points of land on that coast which claim the distinction. See Stephens' s Incidents of Travel in Ytwatan. II. p. 356.