South American Fights and Fighters - Cyrus T. Brady

Panama, Balboa and a Forgotten Romance

The Coming of the Devastator

This is the romantic history of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the most knightly and gentle of the Spanish discoverers, and one who would fain have been true to the humble Indian girl who had won his heart, even though his life and liberty were at stake. It is almost the only love story in early Spanish-American history, and the account of it, veracious though it is, reads like a novel or a play.

After Diego de Nicuesa had sailed away from Antigua on that enforced voyage from which he never returned, Vasco Nunez de Balboa was supreme on the Isthmus. Encisco, however, remained to make trouble. In order to secure internal peace before prosecuting some further expeditions, Balboa determined to send him back to Spain, as the easiest way of getting rid of his importunities and complaints.

A more truculent commander would have no difficulty in inventing a pretext for taking off his head. A more prudent captain would have realized that Encisco with his trained mouth could do very much more harm to him in Spain than he could in Darien. Balboa thought to nullify that possibility, however, by sending Valdivia, with a present, to Hispaniola, and Zamudio with the Bachelor to Spain to lay the state of affairs before the King. Encisco was a much better advocate than Balboa's friend Zamudio, and the King of Spain credited the one and disbelieved the other. He determined to appoint a new governor for the Isthmus, and decided that Balboa should be proceeded against rigorously for nearly all the crimes in the decalogue, the most serious accusation being that to him was due the death of poor Nicuesa. For by this time everybody was sure that the poor little meat-carver was no more.

An enterprise against the French which had been declared off filled Spain with needy cavaliers who had started out for an adventure and were greatly desirous of having one. Encisco and Zamudio had both enflamed the minds of the Spanish people with fabulous stories of the riches of Darien. It was curiously believed that gold was so plentiful that it could be fished up in nets from the rivers. Such a piscatorial prospect was enough to unlock the coffers of a prince as selfish as Ferdinand. He was willing to risk fifty thousand ducats in the adventure, which was to be conducted on a grand scale. No such expedition to America had ever been prepared before as that destined for Darien.

Among the many claimants for its command, he picked out an old cavalier named Pedro Arias de Avila, called by the Spaniards Pedrarias.

This Pedrarias was seventy-two years old. He was of good birth and rich, and was the father of a large and interesting family, which he prudently left behind him in Spain. His wife, however, insisted on going with him to the New World. Whether or not this was a proof of wifely devotion—and if it was, it is the only thing in history to his credit—or of an unwillingness to trust Pedrarias out of her sight, which is more likely, is not known. At any rate, she went along.

Pedrarias, up to the time of his departure from Spain, had enjoyed two nick-names, El Galan and El Justador. He had been a bold and dashing cavalier in his youth, a famous tilter in tournaments in his middle age, and a hard-fighting soldier all his life. His patron was Bishop Fonseca. Whatever qualities he might possess for the important work about to be devolved upon him would be developed later.

His expedition included from fifteen hundred to two thousand souls, and there were at least as many more who wanted to go and could not for lack of accommodations. The number of ships varies in different accounts from nineteen to twenty-five. The appointments both of the general expedition and the cavaliers themselves were magnificent in the extreme. Many afterward distinguished in America went in Pedrarias's command, chief among them being De Soto. Among others were Quevedo, the newly appointed Bishop of Darien, and Espinosa, the judge.

The first fleet set sail on the 11th of April, 1514, and arrived at Antigua without mishap on the 29th of June in the same year. The colony at that place, which had been regularly laid out as a town with fortifications and with some degree at least of European comfort, numbered some three hundred hard-bitten soldiers. The principle of the survival of the fittest had resulted in the selection of the best men from all the previous expeditions. They would have been a dangerous body to antagonize. Pedrarias was in some doubt as to how Balboa would receive him. He dissembled his intentions toward him, therefore, and sent an officer ashore to announce the meaning of the flotilla which whitened the waters of the bay.

The officer found Balboa, dressed in a suit of pajamas engaged in superintending the roofing of a house. The officer, brilliant in silk and satin and polished armour, was astonished at the simplicity of Vasco Nunez's appearance. He courteously delivered his message, however, to the effect that yonder was the fleet of Don Pedro Arias de Avila, the new Governor of Darien.



Balboa calmly bade the messenger tell Pedrarias that he could come ashore in safety and that he was very welcome. Balboa was something of a dissembler himself on occasion, as you will see. Pedrarias thereupon debarked in great state with his men, and, as soon as he firmly got himself established on shore, arrested Balboa and presented him for trial before Espinosa for the death of Nicuesa.

The Greatest Exploit Since Columbus's Voyage

During all this long interval, Balboa had not been idle. A singular change had taken place in his character. He had entered upon the adventure in his famous barrel on Encisco's ship as a reckless, improvident, roisterous, careless, hare-brained scapegrace. Responsibility and opportunity had sobered and elevated him. While he had lost none of his dash and daring and brilliancy, yet he had become a wise, a prudent and a most successful captain. Judged by the high standard of the modern times, Balboa was cruel and ruthless enough to merit our severe condemnation. Judged by his environments and contrasted with any other of the Spanish conquistadores he was an angel of light.

Conquest of Panama


He seems to have remained always a generous, affectionate, open-hearted soldier. He had conducted a number of expeditions after the departure of Nicuesa to different parts of the Isthmus, and he amassed much treasure thereby, but he always so managed affairs that he left the Indian chiefs in possession of their territory and firmly attached to him personally. There was no indiscriminate murder, outrage or plunder in his train, and the Isthmus was fairly peaceable. Balboa had tamed the tempers of the fierce soldiery under him to a remarkable degree, and they had actually descended to cultivating the soil between periods of gold-hunting and pearl-fishing. The men under him were devotedly attached to him as a rule, although here and there a malcontent, unruly soldier, restless under the iron discipline, hated his captain.

Fortunately he had been warned by a letter from Zamudio, who had found means to send it via Hispaniola, of the threatening purpose of Pedrarias and the great expedition. Balboa stood well with the authorities in Hispaniola. Diego Columbus had given him a commission as Vice-Governor of Darien, so that as Darien was clearly within Diego Columbus's jurisdiction, Balboa was strictly under authority. The news in Zamudio's letter was very disconcerting. Like every Spaniard, Vasco Nunez knew that he could expect little mercy and scant justice from a trial conducted under such auspices as Pedrarias's. He determined, therefore, to secure himself in his position by some splendid achievement, which would so work upon the feelings of the King that he would be unable, for very gratitude, to press hard upon him.

The exploit that he meditated and proposed to accomplish was the discovery of the ocean upon the other side of the Isthmus. When Nicuesa came down from Nombre de Dios, he left there a little handful of men. Balboa sent an expedition to rescue them and brought them down to Antigua. Either on that expedition or on another shortly afterward, two white men painted as Indians discovered themselves to Balboa in the forest. They proved to be Spaniards who had fled from Nicuesa to escape punishment for some fault they had committed and had sought safety in the territory of an Indian chief named Careta, the Cacique of Cueva. They had been hospitably received and adopted into the tribe. In requital for their entertainment, they offered to betray the Indians if Vasco Nunez, the new governor, would condone their past offenses. They filled the minds of the Spaniards, alike covetous and hungry, with stories of great treasures and what was equally valuable, abundant provisions, in Coreta's village.

Balboa immediately consented. The act of treachery was consummated and the chief captured. All that, of course, was very bad, but the difference between Balboa and the men of his time is seen in his after conduct. Instead of putting the unfortunate chieftain to death and taking his people for slaves, Balboa released him. The reason he released him was because of a woman—a woman who enters vitally into the subsequent history of Vasco Nunez, and indeed of the whole of South America. This was the beautiful daughter of the chief. Anxious to propitiate his captor, Careta offered Balboa this flower of the family to wife. Balboa saw her, loved her and took her to himself. They were married in accordance with the Indian custom; which, of course, was not considered in the least degree binding by the Spaniards of that time. But it is to Balboa's credit that he remained faithful to this Indian girl. Indeed, if he had not been so much attached to her it is probable that he might have lived to do even greater things than he did.

In his excursions throughout the Isthmus, Balboa had met a chief called Comagre. As everywhere, the first desire of the Spanish was gold. The metal had no commercial value to the Indians. They used it simply to make ornaments, and when it was not taken from them by force, they were cheerfully willing to exchange it for beads, trinkets, hawks' bells, and any other petty trifles. Comagre was the father of a numerous family of stalwart sons. The oldest, observing the Spaniards brawling and fighting—"brabbling," Peter Martyr calls it—about the division of gold, with an astonishing degree of intrepidity knocked over the scales at last and dashed the stuff on the ground in contempt. He made amends for his action by telling them of a country where gold, like Falstaff's reasons, was as plenty as blackberries. Incidentally he gave them the news that Darien was an isthmus, and that the other side was swept by a vaster sea than that which washed its eastern shore.

These tidings inspired Balboa and his men. They talked long and earnestly with the Indians and fully satisfied themselves of the existence of a great sea and of a far-off country abounding in treasure on the other side. Could it be that mysterious Cipango of Marco Polo, search for which had been the object of Columbus's voyage? The way there was discussed and the difficulties of the journey estimated, and it was finally decided that at least one thousand Spaniards would be required safely to cross the Isthmus.

Balboa had sent an account of this conversation to Spain, asking for the one thousand men. The account reached there long before Pedrarias sailed, and to it, in fact, was largely due the extensive expedition. Now when Balboa learned from Zamudio of what was intended toward him in Spain, he determined to undertake the discovery himself. He set forth from Antigua the 1st of September, 1513, with a hundred and ninety chosen men, accompanied by a pack of bloodhounds, very useful in fighting savages, and a train of Indian slaves. Francisco Pizarro was his second in command. All this in lieu of the one thousand Spaniards for which he had asked, which was not thought to be too great a number.

The difficulties to be overcome were almost incredible. The expedition had to fight its way through tribes of warlike and ferocious mountaineers. If it was not to be dogged by a trail of pestilent hatreds, the antagonisms evoked by its advance must be composed in every Indian village or tribe before it progressed farther. Aside from these things, the topographical difficulties were immense. The Spaniards were armour-clad, as usual, and heavily burdened. Their way led through thick and overgrown and pathless jungles or across lofty and broken mountain-ranges, which could be surmounted only after the most exhausting labor. The distance as the crow flies, was short, less than fifty miles, but nearly a month elapsed before they approached the end of their journey.

Balboa's enthusiasm and courage had surmounted every obstacle. He made friends with the chiefs through whose territories he passed, if they were willing to be friends. If they chose to be enemies, he fought them, he conquered them and then made friends with them then. Such a singular mixture of courage, adroitness and statesmanship was he that everywhere he prevailed by one method or another. Finally, in the territory of a chief named Quarequa, he reached the foot of the mountain range from the summit of which his guides advised him that he could see the object of his expedition.

There were but sixty-seven men capable of ascending that mountain. The toil and hardship of the journey had incapacitated the others. Next to Balboa, among the sixty-seven, was Francisco Pizarro. Early on the morning of the 25th of September, 1513, the little company began the ascent of the Sierra. It was still morning when they surmounted it and reached the top. Before them rose a little cone, or crest, which hid the view toward the south. "There," said the guides, "from the top of yon rock, you can see the ocean." Bidding his men halt where they were, Vasco Nunez went forward alone and surmounted the little elevation.

A magnificent prospect was embraced in his view. The tree-clad mountains sloped gently away from his feet, and on the far horizon glittered a line of silver which attested the accuracy of the claim of the Indians as to the existence of a great sea on the other side of what he knew now to be an isthmus. Balboa named the body of water that he could see far away, flashing in the sunlight of that bright morning, "the Sea of the South," or "the South Sea."

Drawing his sword, he took possession of it in the name of Castile and Leon. Then he summoned his soldiers. Pizarro in the lead they were soon assembled at his side. In silent awe they gazed, as if they were looking upon a vision. Finally some one broke into the words of a chant, and on that peak in Darien those men sang the "Te Deum Laudamus."

Balboa and Pacific Ocean


Somehow the dramatic quality of that supreme moment in the life of Balboa has impressed itself upon the minds of the successive generations that have read of it since that day. It stands as one of the great episodes of history. That little band of ragged, weather-beaten, hard-bitten soldiers, under the leadership of the most lovable and gallant of the Spaniards of his time, on that lonely mountain peak rising above the almost limitless sea of trackless verdure, gazing upon the great ocean whose waters extended before them for thousands and thousands of miles, attracts the attention and fires the imagination.

Your truly great man may disguise his imaginative qualities from the unthinking public eye, but his greatness is in proportion to his imagination. Balboa, with the centuries behind him, shading his eye and staring at the water:

——Dipt into the future far as human eye could see,

Saw the visions of the world, and all the wonder that would be.

He saw Peru with its riches; he saw fabled Cathay; he saw the uttermost isles of the distant sea. His imagination took the wings of the morning and soared over worlds and countries that no one but he had ever dreamed of, all to be the fiefs of the King of Castile. It is interesting to note that it must have been to Balboa, of all men, that some adequate idea of the real size of the earth first came.

Well, they gazed their fill; then, with much toil, they cut down trees, dragged them to the top of the mountain and erected a huge cross which they stayed by piles of stones. Then they went down the mountain-side and sought the beach. It was no easy task to find it, either. It was not until some days had passed that one of the several parties broke through the jungle and stood upon the shore. When they were all assembled, the tide was at low ebb. A long space of muddy beach lay between them and the water. They sat down under the trees and waited until the tide was at flood, and then, on the 29th of September, with a banner displaying the Virgin and Child above the arms of Spain in one hand and with drawn sword in the other, Balboa marched solemnly into the rolling surf that broke about his waist and took formal possession of the ocean, and all the shores, wheresoever they might be, which were washed by its waters, for Ferdinand of Aragon, and his daughter Joanna of Castile, and their successors in Spain. Truly a prodigious claim, but one which for a time Spain came perilously near establishing and maintaining.

Before they left the shore they found some canoes and voyaged over to a little island in the bay, which they called San Miguel, since it was that saint's day, and where they were nearly all swept away by the rising tide. They went back to Antigua by another route, somewhat less difficult, fighting and making peace as before, and amassing treasure the while. Great was the joy of the colonists who had been left behind, when Balboa and his men rejoined them. Those who had stayed behind shared equally with those who had gone. The King's royal fifth was scrupulously set aside and Balboa at once dispatched a ship, under a trusted adherent named Arbolancha, to acquaint the King with his marvelous discovery, and to bring back reenforcements and permission to venture upon the great sea in quest of the fabled golden land toward the south.

"Furor Domini"

Unfortunately for Vasco Nunez, Arbolancha arrived just two months after Pedrarias had sailed. The discovery of the Pacific was the greatest single exploit since the voyage of Columbus. It was impossible for the King to proceed further against Balboa under such circumstances. Arbolancha was graciously received, therefore, and after his story had been heard a ship was sent back to Darien instructing Pedrarias to let Balboa alone, appointing him an adelantado, or governor of the islands he had discovered in the South Sea, and all such countries as he might discover beyond.

All this, however took time, and Balboa was having a hard time with Pedrarias. In spite of all the skill of the envenomed Encisco, who had been appointed the public prosecutor in Pedrarias's administration, Balboa was at last acquitted of having been concerned in the death of Nicuesa. Pedrarias, furious at the verdict, made living a burden to poor Vasco Nunez by civil suits which ate up all his property.

It had not fared well with the expedition of Pedrarias, either, for in six weeks after they landed, over seven hundred of his unacclimated men were dead of fever and other diseases, incident to their lack of precaution and the unhealthy climate of the Isthmus. They had been buried in their brocades, as has been pithily remarked, and forgotten. The condition of the survivors was also precarious. They were starving in their silks and satins.

Pedrarias, however, did not lack courage. He sent the survivors hunting for treasures. Under different captains he dispatched them far and wide through the Isthmus to gather gold, pearls, and food. They turned its pleasant valleys and its noble hills into earthly hells. Murder, outrage and rapine flourished unchecked, even encouraged and rewarded. All the good work of Balboa in pacifying the natives and laying the foundation for a wise and kindly rule was undone in a few months.

Such cruelties had never before been practised in any part of the New World settled by the Spaniards. I do not suppose the men under Pedrarias were any worse than others. Indeed, they were better than some of them, but they took their cue from their terrible commander. Fiske calls him "a two-legged tiger." That he was an old man seems to add to the horror which the story of his course inspires. The recklessness of an unthinking young man may be better understood than the cold, calculating fury and ferocity of threescore and ten. To his previous appellations, a third was added. Men called him, "Furor Domini"—"The Scourge of God." Not Attila himself, to whom the title was originally applied, was more ruthless and more terrible.

Balboa remonstrated, but to no avail. He wrote letter after letter to the king, depicting the results of Pedrarias' actions, and some tidings of his successive communications, came trickling back to the governor, who had been especially cautioned by the King to deal mercifully with the inhabitants and set them an example of Christian kindness and gentleness that they might be won to the religion of Jesus thereby! Pedrarias was furious against Balboa, and would have withheld the King's dispatches acknowledging the discovery of the South Sea by appointing him adelantado; but the Bishop of Darien, whose friendship Balboa had gained, protested and the dispatches were finally delivered. The good Bishop did more. He brought about a composition of the bitter quarrel between Balboa and Pedrarias. A marriage was arranged between the eldest daughter of Pedrarias and Balboa. Balboa still loved his Indian wife; it is evident that he never intended to marry the daughter of Pedrarias, and that he entered upon the engagement simply to quiet the old man and secure his countenance and assistance for the undertaking he projected to the mysterious golden land toward the south. There was a public betrothal which effected the reconciliation. And now Pedrarias could not do enough for Balboa, whom he called his "dear son."

The End of Balboa

Balboa, therefore, proposed to Pedrarias that he should immediately set forth upon the South Sea voyage. Inasmuch as Pedrarias was to be supreme in the New World and as Balboa was only a provincial governor under him, the old reprobate at last consented.

Balboa decided that four ships, brigantines, would be needed for his expedition. The only timber fit for shipping, of which the Spaniards were aware, grew on the eastern side of the Isthmus. It would be necessary, therefore, to cut and work up the frames and timbers of the ships on the eastern side, then carry the material across the Isthmus, and there put it together. Vasco Nunez reconnoitered the ground and decided to start his ship-building operations at a new settlement called Ada. The timber when cut and worked had to be carried sixteen miles away to the top of the mountain, then down the other slope, to a convenient spot on the river Valsa, where the keels were to be laid, the frames put together, the shipbuilding completed, and the boats launched on the river, which was navigable to the sea.

This amazing undertaking was carried out as planned. There were two setbacks before the work was completed. In one case, after the frames had been made and carried with prodigious toil to the other side of the mountain, they were discovered to be full of worms and had to be thrown away. After they had been replaced, and while the men were building the brigantines, a flood washed every vestige of their labor into the river. But, as before, nothing could daunt Balboa. Finally, after labors and disappointments enough to crush the heart of an ordinary man, two of the brigantines were launched in the river. Most of the carrying had been done by Indians, over two thousand of whom died under the tremendous exactions of the work.

Embarking upon the two brigantines, Balboa soon reached the Pacific, where he was presently joined by the two remaining boats as they were completed. He had now four fairly serviceable ships and three hundred of the best men of the New World under his command. He was well equipped and well provisioned for the voyage and lacked only a little iron and a little pitch, which, of course, would have to be brought to him from Ada on the other side of the Isthmus. The lack of that little iron and that little pitch proved the undoing of Vasco Nunez. If he had been able to obtain them or if he had sailed away without them, he might have been the conqueror of Peru; in which case that unhappy country would have been spared the hideous excesses and the frightful internal brawls and revolutions which afterward almost ruined it under the long rule of the ferocious Pizarros. Balboa would have done better from a military standpoint than his successors, and as a statesman as well as a soldier the results of his policy would have been felt for generations.

History goes on to state that while he was waiting for the pitch and iron, word was brought to him that Pedrarias was to be superseded in his government. This would have been delightful tidings under any other circumstances, but now that a reconciliation had been patched up between him and the governor, he rightly felt that the arrival of a new governor might materially alter the existing state of affairs. Therefore, he determined to send a party of four adherents across the mountains to Ada to find out if the rumours were true.

If Pedrarias was supplanted the messengers were to return immediately, and without further delay they would at once set sail. If Pedrarias was still there, well and good. There would be no occasion for such precipitate action and they could wait for the pitch and iron. He was discussing this matter with some friends on a rainy day in 1517—the month and the date not being determinable now. The sentry attached to the governor's quarters, driven to the shelter of the house by the storm, overheard a part of this harmless conversation. There is nothing so dangerous as a half-truth; it is worse than a whole lie. The soldier who had aforetime felt the weight of Balboa's heavy hand for some dereliction of duty, catching sentences here and there, fancied he detected treachery to Pedrarias and thought he saw an opportunity of revenging himself, and of currying favor with the governor, by reporting it at the first convenient opportunity.

Now, there lived at Ada at the time one Andres Garavito. This man was Balboa's bitter enemy. He had presumed to make dishonorable overtures to Balboa's Indian wife. The woman had indignantly repulsed his advances and had made them known to her husband. Balboa had sternly reproved Garavito and threatened him with death. Garavito had nourished his hatred, and had sought opportunity to injure his former captain. The men sent by Balboa to Ada to find out the state of affairs were very maladroit in their manoeuvres, and their peculiar actions awakened the suspicions of Pedrarias. The first one who entered the town was seized and cast into prison. The others thereupon came openly to Ada and declared their purposes. This seems to have quieted, temporarily, the suspicions of Pedrarias; but the implacable Garavito, taking opportunity, when the governor's mind was unsettled and hesitant, assured him that Balboa had not the slightest intention whatever of marrying Pedrarias's daughter; that he was devoted to his Indian wife, and intended to remain true to her; that it was his purpose to sail to the South Sea, establish a kingdom and make himself independent of Pedrarias.

The old animosity and anger of the governor awoke on the instant. There was no truth in the accusations except in so far as it regarded Vasco Nunez's attachment to his Indian wife, and indeed Balboa had never given any public refusal to abide by the marital engagement which he had entered into; but there was just enough probability in Garavito's tale to carry conviction to the ferocious tyrant. He instantly determined upon Balboa's death. Detaining his envoys, he sent him a very courteous and affectionate letter, entreating him to come to Ada to receive some further instructions before he set forth on the South Sea.

Among the many friends of Balboa was the notary Arguello who had embarked his fortune in the projected expedition. He prepared a warning to Vasco Nunez, which unfortunately fell into the hands of Pedrarias and resulted in his being clapped into prison with the rest. Balboa unsuspiciously complied with the governor's request, and, attended by a small escort, immediately set forth for Ada.

He was arrested on the way by a company of soldiers headed by Francisco Pizarro, who had nothing to do with the subsequent transactions, and simply acted under orders, as any other soldier would have done. Balboa was thrown into prison and heavily ironed; he was tried for treason against the King and Pedrarias. The testimony of the soldier who had listened in the rainstorm was brought forward, and, in spite of a noble defense, Balboa was declared guilty.

Espinosa, who was his judge, was so dissatisfied with the verdict, however, that he personally besought Pedrarias to mitigate the sentence. The stern old tyrant refused to interfere, nor would he entertain Balboa's appeal to Spain. "He has sinned," he said tersely; "death to him!" Four of his companions—three of them men who had been imprisoned at Ada, and the notary who had endeavored to warn him—were sentenced to death.

It was evening before the preparations for the execution were completed. Balboa faced death as dauntlessly as he had faced life. Pedrarias was hated in Ada and Darien; Balboa was loved. If the veterans of Antigua had not been on the other side of the Isthmus, Balboa would have been rescued. As it was, the troops of Pedrarias awed the people of Ada and the judicial murder went forward.

Balboa was as composed when he mounted the scaffold as he had been when he welcomed Pedrarias. A proclamation was made that he was a traitor, and with his last breath he denied this and asserted his innocence. When the axe fell that severed his head, the noblest Spaniard of the time, and one who ranks with those of any time, was judicially murdered. One after the other, the three companions, equally as dauntless, suffered the unjust penalty. The fourth execution had taken place in the swift twilight of the tropical latitude and the darkness was already closing down upon the town when the last man mounted the scaffold. This was the notary, Arguello, who had interfered to save Balboa. He seems to have been beloved by the inhabitants of the town, for they awakened from their horror, and some of consideration among them appealed personally to Pedrarias, who had watched the execution from a latticed window, to reprieve the last victim. "He shall die," said the governor sternly, "if I have to kill him with my own hand."

So, to the future sorrow of America, and to the great diminution of the glory and peace of Spain, and the world, passed to his death the gallant, the dauntless, the noble-hearted Balboa. Pedrarias lived until his eighty-ninth year, and died in his bed at Panama; which town had been first visited by one of his captains, Tello de Guzman, founded by Espinosa and upbuilt by himself.

There are times when a belief in an old-fashioned Calvinistic hell of fire and brimstone is an extremely comforting doctrine, irrespective of theological bias. Else how should we dispose of Nero, Tiberius, Torquemada, and gentlemen of their stripe? Wherever such a company may be congregated, Pedro Arias de Avila is entitled to a high and exclusive place.