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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/51

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INTRODUCTION. 33 his acceptance and approbation of what they had done in his service, and to confirm the offices of General and Chief Judge conferred by them on Cortes, whom they recommended in terms of the highest praise.* The two captains Puertocarrero and Montejo were deputed to be the bearers of the letters and presents to Spain, who accordingly set sail in the best ship of the squadron, with Alaminos for their pilot, on the 16th of July, 1519. They arrived in safety at St. Lucar in the following October ; but on information to the boai'd of trade by the chap- lain of Diego Velasquez, then in Spain, every thing in the ship was seized, but the present to the king was sent to him at Valladolid. The commissioners, accompanied by the father of Cortes, succeeded in obtaining an audience of the king at Tordesillas, where the presents were exhibited, together with several native Mexicans of both sexes, and drew forth the admiration of Charles and all who beheld them. But owing to the pressure of other cares, the king referred the matters in dispute between Cortes and the governor of Cuba to the coun- cil of the Indies, from whom it passed to Cardinal Adrian, re- gent of the kingdom during the emperor's absence in Germany^ and thus great delays arose in regard to a final determination. Cortes had a powerful enemy to contend with in Spain, who was no less a person than Fonseca, bishop of Burgos, the pre- sident of the council of the Indies, to whom was committed the regulation of colonial afi"airs. This man, so notorious for the spiteful malevolence with which he thwarted the views of Co- lumbus, was equally rancorous in his opposition to the con- queror of Mexico. During a period of more than thirty years Fonseca exercised an almost despotic control over Spanish American aflfairs. " His administration," says lining, " bears no marks of enlarged and liberal policy, but is full of traits of arrogance and meanness. * * * To show that his character has not been judged with undue severity, it is expedient to point out his invidious and persecuting conduct towards Her- nando Cortes. Tlie bishop, while ready to foster rambhng ad- venturers who came forward under his patronage, had never

  • Clavigero.

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