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Cortes goes to Europe; is created Marquis of the Valley
. Account of various transactions and occurrences
in Old and
New Spain. Death and character of the Marquis
of the Valley.


CORTES now received letters from the president of the Indies, the Duke of Bejar, and several other of his friends, informing him of the necessity of his appearance in Castille; to do away the malignant accusations of his enemies. Others also informed him of the death of his father Martin Cortes. Laving performed the funeral obsequies to his father, he ordered, two ships to be purchased, which he stored with such quantities of provisions of every kind, that the overplus when he arrived in Spain, would have sufficed for a two years voyage.

For making these preparations he employed his major domo who was named Esquival. This officer crossing the lake of Mexico to Ayotcingo in a large canoe with six Indian rowers and one Negro, and having some ingots of gold in his possession, was way-laid and murdered somewhere on the lake. The manner of his death never was known, neither canoe, Indians, or Negro, ever being traced. The body of Esquival was found four days after in a small island, half eaten by birds of prey. There were many suspicions entertained about this affair; the man was said to be a great boaster of the favours he received from the ladies. There were also other bad stories told of him, which gave rise to suspicions of such a nature as I cannot relate; no great enquiry was 

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made as to his death, God pardon him his sins! Cortes appointed other officers to complete the preparations for his voyage. He offered by proclamation a free passage to all such Spaniards as obtained a permission from the government to go to Castille, and a supply of provisions to them on the voyage.

All things being ready, and having confessed and comulgated, he embarked in company with Sandoval, Tapia, and other cavaliers, and after a voyage of forty one days arrived in Europe, disembarking near the town of Palos; as soon as he set his foot on shore he fell on his knees, to return thanks to God for his mercies. His arrival in Old Spain was in the month of December in the year one thousand five hundred and twenty seven. To good fortune succeeded grief, by the death of the brave Captain Sandoval, after a lingering sickness, at his lodgings in the house of a rope maker at Palos, who, in his presence, robbed him of thirteen bars of gold. This rogue perceiving his weak situation, sent his servants on a pretended message from Sandoval to Cortes, who was then at Nuestra Senora de la Ravida, and having the house to himself, went into Sandoval’s room, and breaking open his chest, took out the gold, while our poor friend lay in bed unable to resist him, and apprehensive, if he made any outcry, that the fellow would smother him in the bedclothes. As soon as he had got the gold he made his escape with it into Portugal, where he could not be pursued. Cortes shortly after arrived, and was informed of what had happened, but pursuit was too late. Sandoval then grew, worse every hour, and the physicians recommended confession; which being done, and having received the holy sacrament, in a short time after he gave up the ghost, but not before he had made a will, whereby he left his property to a sister who afterwards married a natural son of the Count de Medelin. Sandoval died universally regretted. His funeral was attended by a great train of mourners, among whom was Cortes. God pardon him his sins! amen.

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Cortes sent an express to his Majesty, and also to his patrons at court, informing them of his arrival, and also of the death of his friend Sandoval, whole merits and services were known to his Majesty, and for whole loss he was pleased to express great regret. The Duke of Bejar and the Count of Aguilar, on receiving the intelligence, waited on his Majesty, but found him in possession of it by the letter of Cortes. His Majesty seemed to have at present a conviction of that officer’s loyalty, for which his friend the Duke of Bejar had been three times, obliged to engage his life, for he was pleased to order that in all the cities and towns through which Cortes passed, he should be received with the highest honour.

When he arrived at Seville he was entertained there by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, who made him a present of several beautiful horses. From thence he proceeded, to attend the nine days devotions to our Lady of Guadeloupe. Donna Maria, wife of the commendador Don Francisco de los Cobos, with many other ladies of great rank arrived at the same time. As soon as Cortes had paid his devotions, given charity to the poor, and ordered mass to be said, he went attended by all his retinue of cavaliers to pay his respects to Donna Maria, the beautiful lady her sister, and the many others of distinguished rank who were her company. Here Cortes had an opportunity of exhibiting that politeness, gallantry, and generosity, in, which, he surpassed all men. He made presents of golden ornaments of great value, to all, but more especially to Donna Maria and her sister: and to each lady he gave a penache of green feathers, richly ornamented with gold. He then produced his Indian dancers who threw the stick from one foot to another, to the astonishment of the spectators, and in addition to all this, understanding that one of the mules belonging to the sister of Donna Maria was unable to travel, he caused to be purchased for, her two of the finest that could be procured for money. He also waited the departure of those ladies for the court, attending them upon the journey and providing magnificent entertainments for them, the honours of which he did

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with a grace peculiar to himself, insomuch that Donna Maria de Mendoza began to entertain thoughts of an alliance between her sister and Cortes. However in marriages as in other cases it is the hand of God which leads us, and therefore no more need be said upon the subject. Donna Maria was so taken with the politeness and generosity of Cortes, that she wrote to the commendador of Leon laying, that the same of Cortes and his heroic actions was far short of the judgment which mull be formed of him, by those who had the good fortune of his acquaintance, and brought over her husband completely to his interest.

When our general arrived at court, his Majesty was pleased to appoint the apartments to receive him, and his friends came out in a body to meet him on the road. On the ensuing day he went by permission to throw himself at his Majesty’s feet, being attended by the Duke of Bejar, the admiral of the Indies, and the commendador of Leon. His Majesty commanded him to rise, and Cortes, after a short enumeration of his services, and vindication of his conduct from the aspersions of his enemies, presented a memorial wherein the whole was fully detailed. His Majesty having received it, commanded him to rise, and immediately honoured him with the title of Marquis del Valle, and the order of St. Jago. He also gave him an estate to maintain his new dignity, and confirmed him captain general of New Spain and of the south seas. Cortes, thus loaded with honours, retired from the royal presence to receive in a few days a still greater than all. Shortly after his arrival in Toledo he fell dangerously ill; when the Emperor heard it, he did him the honour of paying him a visit in person. He however recovered in a short time, and the particular favour of his Majesty encouraged him to assume a rank and character equal to his high title. One sunday that his Majesty was at mass in the cathedral, and seated according to custom with his nobility each in his proper station, Cortes, designedly as it is said, came there late, and after all were seated; and passing before the whole of them, took his place next to

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the Count de Nasao, who was nearest to the Emperor. This gave great offence to many though others said it was by the Emperor’s desire. Indeed Cortes began to feel his elevation so much, that it made him not hold some of his former patrons in the estimation he ought, all his attention being bellowed on the Duke of Bejar, the Count de Nasao, and the admiral. Thinking that now the ball was at his foot with the support of such great men, he applied to the Emperor for the government of New Spain; this request, though supported by his patrons, did not succeed, his Majesty thinking he had done sufficiently and that some of his attention was due to those conquerors, by whose assistance he had gained that country. From this time Cortes did not seem so much in favour as before.

His Majesty was then proceeding on his journey to Flanders. After his departure, the marriage took place between the Marquis del Valle, and Donna Juana de Zuniga, on which occasion he presented his lady with the most magnificent jewels that ever had been in Castille. Her Majesty Queen Isabella, from the account given by the lapidaries, expressed a wish to have some, which Cortes accordingly presented her with, but it is said that they were not so fine or so valuable as those which he gave to his lady.

I will now relate some other circumstances, such as I have heard concerning him while he resided in Castille. One was, that Queen Isabella was not his friend on account of the appearances of ingratitude in his conduct to his patrons, and also in consequence of the inferiority of the presents which he made her. However she ordered in the Emperor’s absence, that he should have every support from the council of the Indies. Cortes at this time obtained permission to fit out two ships on a voyage of discovery to the south seas, with a condition that he should enjoy certain rights and revenues from whatever lands were acquired to the crown of Spain. Don Pedro de la Cueva was at this time at court; this was the officer who was to have gone to Mexico to try, and

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if found guilty, to execute Cortes. They were now on the most amicable and intimate footing. Don Pedro told him that even his innocence would have been sufficiently expensive to him, as the coils of the expedition, which he must have paid, amounted to upwards of three hundred thousand crowns. All those, and other particulars we received an account of in private letters, as well from the Marquis del Valle, as from other persons. He now sent a gentleman to Rome, to kiss the feet of his Holiness Pope Clement, and with a rich present of gold, silver, and jewels. He also sent some of the Indians who played with the stick, and a full memorial of all circumstances concerning the newly discovered country. He also took this opportunity to supplicate for a partial remission of the tithes of New Spain.

This gentleman, Juan de Herrada, was a brave soldier, who attended Cortes in his expedition to Honduras. After he returned from Europe he went to Peru, where Don Diego de Almagro left him in the office of governor to his son. He was highly in the confidence of this family, and served as Maestre de Campo to the young Almagro; he was also captain of the party which killed Don Francisco Pizarro the elder.

His Holiness on the receipt of the letters returned thanks to God for the opportunity of making so many thousand converts to the holy faith. He also praised the services rendered by us, to the church and our monarch, and sent us bulls of indulgence from penalties of our sins, with others for churches and hospitals. In regard to the tithes, I do not know what was done. The Indians were brought to dance before his Holiness and the cardinals, who expressed their high satisfaction at their performances. After Herrada had concluded his business at Rome, he returned with a liberal reward from Pope Clement, who gave him the title and rank of count palatine, and wrote by him, strongly requesting for him a grant of a considerable plantation in New Spain, which he never received, and in consequence went to Peru.

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While Cortes was in Castille, the members of the royal court of audience arrived in Mexico. Nuno de Guzman formerly governor of Panuco was the president. The Oydors were, four licentiates, by name Matienzo, Delgadillo, Maldonado, (I do not mean Alonzo Maldonado the good who was governor of Guatimala) and Parada. These magistrates from their first arrival shewed a determination to do justice. They were armed with greater powers than any officers ever sent by his Majesty to New Spain. They were also intrusted with the management of the final partition of landed property, wherein his Majesty had particularly charged them to take care of the interests of the conquerors. On their arrival, they issued a proclamation, requiring the attendance of an agent from each settlement, with memorials and returns of the several districts. The agents all arrived in the course of a few days. I was then in Mexico on my office of procurador sindico of the town of Guacacualco; I posted off to the last mentioned place, in order to attend at the election of the agents, about which there was a violent contest but plurality of voices decided it in favour of Captain Luis Marin and myself. When we arrived at Mexico we found that two of the oydors were dead of pleurisies, and that the factor Salazar had acquired so complete an ascendency over the others, that they did nothing but as he advised them. It was lucky for Cortes that he was not at Mexico; the death of the two oydors would have been certainly laid to his charge.

The agents now called loudly for a final repartition; but the factor had persuaded the president and oydors, not to agree to that which would be a diminution of their influence, by taking so much patronage out of their hands. It was also settled, that Salazar should go to Europe to solicit the government of New Spain for the president Guzman. He actually sailed, but being overtaken by a storm was shipwrecked on the coast near Guacacualco, from whence he returned to Mexico. The treasurer Estrada died in a short time after his being superseded, which he was more by his own tameness than from any right they could prove

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from his Majesty’s orders, for they were, that he should govern solely; nor was any thing said of associating Guzman with him; whereas the latter usurped the government to himself entirely, from the time he was appointed president of the court. He was much regretted by all, having conducted himself in such a manner as to give universal satisfaction, nor would he have wanted support if he had insisted on maintaining his office.

A commission was appointed at Guatimala, where Jorge de Alvarado was established, but I do not know the result of it.

In Mexico they proceeded with great severity against the Marquis del Valle. The factor especially took the opportunity to revile and slander him in the grossest manner, and foulest expressions. The Marquis’s friend the licentiate Altamarano remonstrated with the court upon these indecencies, but to no good effect, for the factor, countenanced by Guzman and the rest, became more abusive than before. The court was thereby thrown into confusion; for Altamirano was at last so provoked as to draw his poniard, and would have put the factor to death had it not been for the interference of those present. Altimirano was carried to the fortress, the other was sent to his house, and the whole city was in an uproar. The licentiate, upon our supplication, was at the end of three days released from confinement, and the present matter was made up; but a greater storm succeeded, for at this time there arrived in Mexico one Zavalos, a relation of the Captain Pamsillo de Narvaez, who had been sent by the wife of the latter in quest of her husband, who had gone as governor to the river of Palmas, and was supposed to have been lost or dead. When Zavalos arrived in Mexico, instigated as is supposed by the members of the court, he lodged informations against all the soldiers of Cortes who had been concerned in the attack upon Narvaez. Of course nearly the whole of us who were in the city, and myself amongst the rest, amounting in all to about two hundred and fifty, were apprehended, brought to trial, and convicted.

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We were sentenced to pay a fine of a certain quantity of gold, and to be banished to the distance of five leagues from Mexico. However the sentence was but slightly enforced, the banishment being remitted and very few paying the fine.

The enemies of the Marquis del Valle now took a new ground of attack against him, which was, that he had embezzled the treasure of Montezuma and Guatimotzin, and that he was answerable to the soldiers, not only for that which he had appropriated to his own use, but also for that which he had sent to Europe as a present to his Majesty, and which had been captured by the corsair Juan Florin. A long catalogue of other demands followed, every one of which he was condemned upon, and his property sold for the payment. One Juan Xuares his brother-in-law was also at this time brought forward, to demand justice in open court for the murder of his sister Donna Catalina, offering to produce witnesses of the manner of her death. Many of us the friends of the Marquis, seeing the attacks that were made against him, met by appointment and under the licence of an alcalde, at the house of one Garcia Holguin, where we entered into a resolution to renounce all claim to the treasure; but when the oydors heard our business, they ordered us all to be arrested, as they alleged, for meeting without permission. We produced to them the licence which we had obtained for the purpose, but they, to keep up appearances, banished us to the distance of five leagues from Mexico. We were however allowed to return; though we still thought ourselves hardly treated enough.

New matter for confusion was now brought forward; a proclamation was issued that all persons of Indian descent, or of that of Moors, who had been burned or * ensanbenited by the holy inquisition, as far as the fourth degree from their ancestors who had thus suffered, should quit New Spain within four months from the date thereof, on pain of losing one half of their properties. It was most wonderful to see what hosts of accusers and informers started up at once on this occasion, and

* San Benito; a dress put on criminals.

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what slanders and infamies were brought forward. At last it ended in the expulsion of two individuals.

The court was generous in fulfilling his Majesty’s commands, in regard to the old conquerors, who were all well provided for; the greatest error it committed was, the excessive license given to the branding slaves. So many were made in the province of Panuco that it became almost depopulated. The president Guzman, who was of a noble and liberal disposition, made a new year’s gift of a whole district named Guazpaltepeque, to Albornoz who was newly returned from Spain. He brought with him his Majesty’s patent, under which he erected some sugar works in Cempoal, which went to ruin after a few years. The oydor Delgadillo was censured on account of his free gifts, for it was noticed that some rent was reserved to himself in them, and the consequent extortions and oppressions of those he patronised were excessive. The conduct of Guzman was equally reprehensible; as to the other oydor, Matienzo, he was superannuated. The abuses of this court came at length to such an excels, that it was thought proper by the higher powers in Europe, completely to supercede it, and substitute one composed of persons of more discretion. Old Matienzo who was the least objectionable, was sent to Panuco to enquire into and remedy the abuses which had been committed there. This officer ordered accounts or lists of the slaves to be drawn out, to prevent them from being arbitrarily transported from one province to another, and he revoked the grants which the president and the other oydor had made to their friends and clients, bestowing the plantations upon those persons who were pointed out by his Majesty’s instructions. Every one then who had acquired the plantations which they were to deliver up, insisted that they had been granted as a reward of former merits, the proofs of which they endeavoured to adduce, and utterly disclaimed all patronage or protection from the president and oydor. The confusion was extreme. However many if not almost all succeeded in keeping 

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what they bad got, the only persons deprived being Albornoz of his new year’s gift, one Villaroel, and Villegas.

As soon as the members of the court heard that they were to be superceded, they resolved to dispatch agents to Castille with plenty of witnesses, such as were fit and well prepared for their purpose, to vouch for the propriety of their conduct. It was determined to proceed to the election of the agents who were to be sent on this occasion, and for this purpose all the veteran conquerors, with many other persons of consideration, met in the great church, where the person was to be chosen by vote. Guzman and the oydors recommended the factor Salazar, and although they had committed some improprieties, yet as they had in the main acted so well by us in the distribution of property, we were all well inclined to vote for the person recommended by them, and which they expected us to do. When we had all assembled for the purpose in the great church, there was such a noise and outcry set up by persons who had no business there, but had crouded in, that it was hardly possible to proceed to the election. It was ordered that all who had not been summoned should quit the place, but it was to no effect; they would not go, and at fast the question was obliged to be put to the whole. Since those who had no business there would neither quit the place nor be silent, it may be judged what kind of an election it was when we perceived how matters were going, it was agreed amongst us to adjourn until the following day, at the house of the president of the council, and none were summoned but persons of one way of thinking. Of course it was amicably decided. In consequence of an adjustment, two agents were to be chosen, one, Anthonio de Carvajal, on the part of the oydors, and another, Bernardino Vasquez de Tapia, on that of Cortes. However it appeared to me that both were equally devoted to the views of the president; and it was natural enough, for the latter had rendered much more service to our interest in his short time, than Cortes had done during the long period of his power. But such is the natural loyalty of the Spaniards, that we were more attached 

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to Cortes, from his having been our captain, than he was to our interests, although he had his Majesty’s orders to attend to them. Of this a proof now occurred, for the president and oydors intrigued for an application to he made to his Majesty, in manner of a petition, against the appointment or return of Cortes to New Spain, at any future time. The grounds upon which they moved it were, the dangers that would occur from public disturbances and factions, which might end in the loss of the country. This we opposed with all our might, and Alvarado, being at this time arrived in Mexico with the office of governor and adelantado of Guatimala, and a commandery of St. Jago, it was agreed between him and the friends of Cortes, to lay before his Majesty a statement of the whole affair, with the views of the members of the council; and it hereby appearing to the supreme court of the Indies, that all these measures were guided by passion and interest, it confirmed the original determination to supercede Guzman and the oydors. The presence of Cortes in Spain also at this period was highly favourable to his interests, and he now was rapidly proceeding to the pinnacle of his fortune.

When Nuno de Guzman had received certain intelligence from Old Spain of his being superceded, he determined to go upon an expedition to the province of Xalisco, now called New Gallicia. For this purpose he collected the greatest force that he was able in Mexico, partly of volunteers, and partly of such as he compelled to join him by the weight of power of which he was not yet deprived. Those who did not serve personally he compelled to find, or pay for substitutes, and those who had horses were obliged to give them for half their value. He brought with him a number of Mexicans as soldiers, or to convey his baggage, and cruelly oppressed the provinces through which he passed. In Mechoacan he obtained a great quantity of gold, which the inhabitants had collected and amassed for ages past; it was much lowered in value by a mixture of silver. The unfortunate chief of the province, not being able to gratify his avarice to its full extent, he first

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commanded him to be put to the torture by burning his feet, and afterwards upon some trifling and false allegations caused him to be hanged, which was one of the wickedest and cruellest actions ever committed by an officer, and as such it was considered by every Spaniard in his army. He brought from this province also a number of natives loaded with booty, to the city of Compostello, which he founded at a heavy expence to his Majesty and the inhabitants of Mexico. Here Guzman remained until his arrest.

As I have before related, in consequence of the injustice practised by the former court of audience, his Majesty was pleased to suppress it and cancel all its grants. He also appointed a new one, composed of wise and upright members, whereof D. Sebastian Ramirez de Villaescasa bishop of St. Domingo was president, and the licentiates Maldonado de Salamanca, Zainos de Toro, Vasco de Quiroga de Madrigal afterwards bishop of Mechoacan, and Solomon de Madrid were oydors. These officers being arrived, the court opened its fittings, which was notified by a proclamation, in consequence whereof there assembled such crouds of complainants, from city, towns, and country, of all descriptions, settlers, agents, and native chiefs; alledging acts of partiality and oppression against the former court, and demanding justice, that the members were quite astonished. The demands of the agents of Cortes for what had been unjustly alienated from him, if they had been all to be now repaid, would have amounted to above two hundred thousand crowns. Nuno de Guzman being absent, the whole blame was laid upon him by the other members of the old court, who alledged that they were compelled to act as he thought proper to order them. He was accordingly summoned to appear, which he did not think proper to do, and in the present circumstances it was judged most expedient to refer the affair to the supreme court in Europe: which being done, a civil officer named Torre, a licentiate and native of Badajos, was sent with full power, to the province of Xalisco, and with orders to transmit Guzman to Mexico and commit him to the common goal.

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He had also a commission to indemnify us in the costs which we had been fined upon the affair of Narvaez, and those at the time that we were arrested, as I have already related. But I will now take leave for the present of the licentiate Torre, and return to the affairs of the court.

The properties of Delgadillo and Matienzo were sold to pay the damages of those who had gained their causes against them, and their persons were imprisoned for the deficiency. A brother of Delgadillo who was alcalde major in Guaxaca, was fined and imprisoned for the same reason; he died in jail, as did another who was alcalde amongst the Zapotecans, and certainly the new judges were so wise and just, that they considered nothing but what was in compliance with the will of God and his, Majesty. They also shewed a laudable anxiety for the conversion of the Indians to our holy faith, and immediately prohibited the branding them for slaves, and made many other good regulations. After four years thus employed, the oydors Solomon and Zaynos petitioned for leave to retire, being both of an advanced age, and very wealthy, and his Majesty in consideration of their eminent services, was pleased to grant their request. The president also, by command of his Majesty, repaired to Europe, to give an account of the affairs of this country. He was then bishop of St. Domingo, but was advanced in succession through the sees of Toro, Leon, and Cuenca, with such celerity, that the bulls had hardly a day’s interval between them. He was also president of the royal chancery of Valladolid, and while in possession of these honours he was seized by death, and placed in glory among the virtuous, according to the promise of our holy faith, for he was a true and upright judge. He had been before his promotion to a bishopric, inquisitor in Seville. The good conduct of the oydor Maldonado was rewarded with the government of the provinces of Guatimala, Honduras, and Viragua, and with the title of adelantado of Yucatan, and the oydor Quiroga obtained the bishopric of Mechoacan. Such, were the rewards of the good judges! Delgadillo and Matienzo 

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returned to Castille in poverty, where, as I have heard, they died in the course of two or three years.

At this time his Majesty was pleased to appoint to the vice-royalty of New Spain, the most illustrious and worthy cavalier of praise worthy memory, D. Anthonio de Mendoza brother to the Marquis of Montejar. There also came as oydors the doctor Quesada, the licentiate Tejada de Logrono, and the licentiate Loaysa native of Cuidad Real; he was an old man, and stayed three or four years in Mexico; and during that time having collected a good sum of money, he took his leave of the country at the expiration of it, and returned to his home. There was also another licentiate who came out as oydor, who was named Santillana; but the licentiate Maldonado had not then vacated his office. All were excellent magistrates. As soon as they had opened the court, free enquiry was proclaimed into the conduct of their predecessors, which was found to be in every respect conformable to justice.

The Viceroy, on his arrival, knowing that the licentiate Torre was sent out with orders to arrest Nuno de Guzman, to save Guzman from that insult sent to him to come to Mexico, which he having complied with, the Viceroy assigned him apartments in his palace, and treated him with much politeness. Just about this time Torre arrived with his Majesty’s orders to arrest Guzman, but with directions to communicate them to the Viceroy. It seems that the licentiate did not And the support to his strong measures that he expected, and this exasperating his natural violence, he in consequence went to the Viceroy’s palace, and there furiously seized, and dragged Guzman to the common jail, laying to did it by his Majesty’s order, and that he cared for nothing further. Here Guzman remained for several days, and was at last released on the intercession of the Viceroy. It was well known that Torre had strong powers given to him to act discretionarily in regard to Guzman.

This licentiate was much addicted to card playing, although he 

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did not game deeply, playing only at triumpho and primero for pastime. His propensity being however well known, some friend of Guzman’s took advantage of it, to mortify and turn him into ridicule, and the method which was taken to do it was as follows. The civilians at that time wore gowns with loose hanging sleeves, into one of which somebody maliciously put a pack of cards, and contrived it in such a manner, that as Torre was walking across the crouded square of Mexico, in company with several persons of quality, a dexterous twitch being given, the cards began to drop from his sleeve, leaving a long trail, of them after him as he went on. Those who saw it laughed and called the attention of others to the cards coming out of the licentiate’s sleeve; but when he found out what the joke was, and that he was the subject of it, being naturally choleric, it enraged him exceedingly, and he went off saying he saw clearly it was their intention to prevent his doing justice, but he would, though he died for it; and that his Majesty should know the indignity that had been offered to his officer. Either from vexation, or a calenture natural to the climate, with which he was seized just after this, he died in the course of a few days, whereby the affair of Guzman, luckily for him, was respited for the present.

Cortes having now been a long time in Castille, married to the niece of the Duke of Bejar, advanced to the rank of marquis, captain general of New Spain, and admiral of the South Seas, became anxious to return to his estates in this country. He now embarked from Old Spain with his family and twelve reverend fathers of the order of mercy, and after a prosperous voyage arrived at the port of Vera Cruz, where he did not experience the kind of reception he formerly met with. From thence he proceeded to Mexico, to present his patents to the Viceroy, and enter upon his offices. He also at this time made application upon a particular point relative to his Majesty’s grant of lands and towns. This point, which I do not well understand, I must leave to better judges. The grant ran thus; mentioning the district, it enumerated the inhabitants, by the word “vecinos,” or neighbours, considered to 

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belong to it, and who were to be his tributaries. Cortes understood that the head of the family only was considered as the vassal or “vecino,” or that one only should be counted for each house, but the oydor, doctor Quezada who was sent to allot his district, insisted that every male adult, master or head of family, son, servant, or slave, was to be counted in the number, and as there were frequently twelve or fifteen of those to one house, the Marquis was much disappointed, and several lawsuits ensued. The matter was reported to his Majesty, but continued in suspence for several years, during which time the Marquis received his full rents, without any molestation. He retired to a place upon his estate named Quernavaca, where he established his residence, never returning to Mexico.

While Marcos de Aguilar had the government of New Spain, the Marquis del Valle fitted out four ships at Zacatula. They were well provided, loaded with various articles of merchandize, and commanded by Alvarado de Saavedra, who with two hundred and fifty soldiers took his course for the Molucca and Spice Islands, and China. This was by his Majesty’s command, as I can testify, the royal letters having been shown to me and many others. He was further ordered to cause search to be made during the course of his voyage, for a squadron which had sailed from Castille for China; under the command of Don Garcia de Loaysa, commander of St. John of Rhodes. At the time that Saavedra was preparing for his expedition, a vessel arrived belonging to this fleet, from the pilot and crew of which Saavedra acquired all the information he wanted; and taking one pilot and two sailors from this vessel with him, he set sail in December, of one thousand five hundred and twenty seven or twenty eight, and sustained many misfortunes, hardships, and losses, in the way to the Molucca Islands. I do not know the particulars, but in three years afterwards I met with a sailor who had been on board this fleet, and who told me many strange and surprising things of the cities and nations he had seen, during his voyage. These are the countries to which they are now sending expeditions from 

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Mexico. I also heard that the Portugueze had made prisoner Saavedra or some of his people, and brought them to Castille.

In the month of May, one thousand five hundred and thirty two, the Marquis del Valle sent two ships from the port of Acapulco, to make discoveries in the South Seas. They were commanded by a captain named Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who, without going far to sea, or doing any thing worthy of relating, had the misfortune of a mutiny among the troops, in consequence whereof, one ship, of which the mutineers took possession, as is said, but very improbably, by the approbation of Hurtado himself, returned to New Spain, to the great disappointment of Cortes. As for Hurtado, neither he nor his vessel were ever more heard of.

After this, Cortes sent off two other vessels, one of which was commanded by a gentleman named Diego Bezerra de Mendoza; he was of the Bezerras of Badajos or Merida; the other was commanded by one Hernando de Grijalva. The principal pilot was one Ximenes, a Biscayan, and a great cosmographer. The orders from the Marquis were, first to go in search of Hurtado, and in case of not finding him, to go upon a voyage of discovery of new islands, especially those which were reported to be rich in pearls. The Biscayan pilot, before they sailed, was always telling the others how he would bring them to countries where they should all make their fortunes. Many were weak enough to believe him. The first night after they left the port of Guantepeque, a gale of wind rose and separated the vessels, which never afterwards joined company, Grijalva not choosing to be under the command of Bezerra, who was very haughty. He had also another motive, in wishing to keep the merit of any discoveries he should make, to himself. After sailing two hundred leagues, he came to an island which was uninhabited, and which he named Santo Tome. Bezerro and his pilot Ximines had a quarrel upon their voyage, and the former having made himself very odious by his domineering disposition, the pilot 

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formed a plot for the assassination of him and several more, which he put in execution one night as the captain and the others were sleeping. The sanguinary views of the conspirators went much farther, but the intercession of two Franciscan friars saved the lives of many who were already bleeding from their treachery, but whom, together with the friars, they determined to land in Xalisco. Ximines taking the command upon the death of Bezerra, and continuing his route, discovered an island to which he gave the name of Santa Cruz. It was said that pearls were sound on its coasts. It was inhabited by savages, and here he determined to put the friars and those whole lives had been spared at their intercession on shore, which he accordingly did, and being in want of water, he went to the shore at the same time in search of it; they had been on the island but a very short time when the natives came down upon them, and put every person they found to death, in view of those on board the ship.

This gave the Marquis great vexation. He now determined not to trust any one, but to go in person, having three ships ready to launch in the port of Guantepeque. When the Spaniards of those countries saw that he intended to embark upon a voyage of discovery, they thought success was certain, and numbers prepared to follow him as soldiers, above one hundred and thirty of whom were married men, and brought their wives with them. They were in all above three hundred and twenty, the women included. The Marquis left Mexico accompanied by Andres de Tapia and several other officers, some ecclesiastics, physicians, surgeons, and an apothecary; and having embarked, in the month of May, one thousand five hundred and thirty six, or seven, he set sail for the Island of Santa Cruz, with as many colonists and soldiers as the vessels could contain; and having arrived there after a prosperous voyage, he sent back the ships to bring the remainder, of his people. The second voyage was not so fortunate. They, met with gales of wind, in which they were separated near the river of St. Peter and St. Paul, one vessel only arriving at the Island of Santa Cruz, 

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where the Marquis anxiously expected them, as the provisions, of which he began to be in great want, were on board. Os those vessels which did not join him at Santa Cruz, one was stranded on the coast of Xalisco, and the people on board being tired of the business quitted her there, most of them returning to New Spain. This was the one which contained the provisions. The other came to a bay which they named, from the quantity of guayavas, Guayaval.

During this time the Marquis and those with him were famishing upon this uncultivated island. Twenty three of the soldiers died from absolute distress, and the rest were sinking every day, and cursing his expeditions and discoveries. Their situation and murmurs compelled him at length to go in search of his ships, and he accordingly embarked with fifty soldiers, and judging that they must have been driven on the coast in the storms, he searched in that direction, and after some time found one as before mentioned, stranded on the coast of Xalisco, and abandoned by the people. The other was met with by him amongst some rocks. Having got them repaired and afloat, with much trouble, he brought them to his Island of Santa Cruz, and a quantity of provisions being now served out to the famished soldiers, they eat thereof in such a manner that the half of them died.

The Marquis, in order to avoid such a scene of distress, embarked in pursuit of new discoveries, and during this voyage fell in with the land of California. He was by that time as heartily tired of the business as any one, but he could not bear the thoughts of returning after such expences and losses, without having effected something, lest his misfortunes should be ascribed to the curses of the conquerors of Mexico, his ancient companions.

The Marchioness del Valle, hearing of the loss of one of the vessels on the coast, grew very apprehensive, and accordingly fitted out two ships, which sailed under the command of one Ulloa, in search of

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the marquis and his squadron, with letters from his lady and the Viceroy earnestly soliciting his return. Ulloa was fortunate enough to light upon him, and the Marquis suffered himself to be prevailed upon, and returned to Mexico by the port of Acapulco, leaving Ulloa in command of the squadron. His return rejoiced the Spaniards, who feared always that the native chiefs, not being awed by him, would break out into revolt. In a short time after his arrival, the people whom he had left in California returned, but I cannot say whether in consequence of orders from the government or not.

After the Marquis had reposed for a few months, he fitted out another expedition of two ships under the command of Francisco de Ulloa, already named by me, who sailed from the port of Natividad in the month of June, of I forget what year, with orders to examine the coast of California, and to search for Captain Hurtado who never had been heard of. Ulloa employed in this voyage about seven months, at the expiration of which he returned to Xalisco, without having effected any thing; and going for a few days on shore to repose, a soldier who bore a malice against him took an opportunity to way-lay and assassinate him, and thus ended the discoveries of the Marquis del Valle, in which he expended, as I have heard him declare, above three hundred thousand crowns.

In order to get some allowance from his Majesty for this loss, he determined to go to Castille; he had also other business which called him there, such as the dispute about his vassals, and the restitution of his property which had been seized by Nuno de Guzman, now prisoner in Old Spain. I will conclude this account by observing, that it appears that the Marquis never prospered from the time of his first conquest of New Spain, and his ill fortune is ascribed to the curses with which he was loaded.

The Viceroy and court of royal audience had sent out a military 

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force commanded by an officer named Francisco Vasquez Coronado, who married the virtuous and fair daughter of the treasurer Estrada. Coronado left his government of Xalisco to an officer named Onate, and after he had been for some months in the country to which he was sent, and which was named Celibola or the seven cities, a Franciscan friar named Marcos de Nica, returned from thence to Mexico to give an account of the country to the Viceroy. He described it as consisting of fine plains full of herds of cattle, but which were quite different in their appearance from those of Castille. The houses he described as having two stories and stairs, and the towns as being populous. He also represented, that as it lay near the Pacific Ocean, a supply of necessaries could be sent to the Spanish force, conveniently, in that direction. It was for this reason that three ships were sent thither under the command of Hernando de Alarco, an officer in the Viceroy’s household.

I must not omit to mention the particulars of the great armament prepared by Don Pedro de Alvarado, in the year one thousand five hundred and thirty seven, in the port of Acaxatla on the Pacific Ocean. This fleet was fitted out by Alvarado in consequence of permission obtained from his Majesty, by whom he was granted certain rents and advantages, in such countries as he should discover towards the west; that is to say China, the Moluca, and Spice Islands.

Alvarado being always zealous for his Majesty’s service, as appeared by his conduit in Mexico and Peru, was anxious that this expedition should exceed any other that had ever been fitted out. It consisted of thirteen sail, amply provided. The port at which the preparations were made was above two hundred leagues distant from that of Vera Cruz, from which all the iron, and most other necessary articles were to be brought by land carriage. The consequence was, that the money expended would have built eighty such ships in Seville. All the wealth Alvarado brought from Peru, what he got from the mines of Guatimala, with the rents of his estates and the presents of his friends and 

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relations were insufficient, although the merchandize was taken upon credit. The expence attending the ships was nothing in comparison to that of his army, consisting of six hundred and fifty soldiers with their officers, and a number of horses, of which latter a good one could not be procured for lets than three hundred crowns. Alvarado sailed some time in the year one thousand five hundred and thirty eight, for the harbour of the Purification in the province of Xalisco, where he was to take in water, and embark more soldiers. When the Viceroy heard of this great armament, he became anxious to have a share in it, and went with Alvarado to view his fleet, after which they returned to Mexico.

Alvarado wished to have a relation of his own, named Juan, (not the Juan de Alvarado of Chiribito) as general, and the Viceroy was anxious that an officer named Villalobos should have the command, conjointly with him. Things were in this state when Alvarado was obliged to return to his fleet at the port of Natividad; and being there, and just ready to set sail, he received a letter from Christoval de Onate who was left in command at Xalisco, in the absence of Francisco Coronado, requesting his immediate assistance to save him and the settlement from the destruction with which they were threatened, by the force of the neighbouring Indians of Cochitlan. Alvarado set off with his troops to their relief, and found them in a most desperate situation indeed. The insurgents rather decreased the violence of their attacks upon the appearance of Alvarado’s force, but still hostilities were carried on, and one day that Alvarado was pursuing some of the enemy among the rocks and mountains where they had retreated, a soldier who was on horse-back at a considerable height above him on the side of a mountain, and whole horse had lost his footing, came, horse and all, rolling down the precipice, and striking Alvarado, brought him down with them. By this accident he was so much bruited, that in consequence thereof, and of being removed too suddenly to the town of the Pacification, he was seized with fainting fits, and in the course of a few days gave up the ghost. God pardon his sins! some say that he made a

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will previous to his death, but it never appeared. He was buried with as much ceremony as could be bestowed upon his funeral, and his remains were, as I have heard, afterwards removed to the town of Piripito by Juan de Alvarado his relation.

As soon as the news of his death was known to his fleet and army, numbers discharged themselves, and returned to their homes with what they had received. In Mexico he was greatly regretted. The Viceroy sent off immediately the licentiate Maldonado, to take proper steps to prevent any confusion likely to ensue, and shortly after following in person, collected what remained of the soldiers, and marching against the insurgents in the rocks, after a tedious expedition succeeded in reducing them. The loss of Alvarado was severely felt in his family. As soon as the fatal intelligence arrived in Guatimala, the Bishop D. Francisco Marroguin of excellent memory, and all the clergy, assisted in rendering him the funeral honours. His majordomo also, to shew his sorrow, caused the walls of his house to be painted black, which colour they remained ever after. Many cavaliers waited upon his lady Donna Beatrix de la Cueva and her family, in order to console them, for their distress was very great. They told her that she should give thanks to God, since it was his will to take her husband, to which she as a good christian assented, but observed, that she wished to be free from this melancholy world, and all its misfortunes.

These circumstances I mention, because the historian Gomara attributes the unfortunate event which shortly afterwards befell her, to her having spoken blasphemously, in saying that God could do her no more injury than she had already suffered. She met with her death in the following manner. A deluge of water and mud broke from the Volcano which is at the distance of about half a league from Guatimala, and bringing with it great quantities of large stones and trees, overwhelmed the house of Donna Beatrix, who was at the time praying with her women. As to the words which Gomara ascribes to her, she 

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never uttered them, nor was her death a judgment of God in any respect. But I must observe the particularities of the fate of this family. Although Alvarado and his four brothers had served his Majesty so zealously, not any part of his property descended to his children. D. Pedro de Alvarado died as I have related, by an uncommon accident in Cochitlan; his brother George died in the city of Madrid, in the year one thousand five hundred and forty, being then soliciting his Majesty for some reward; Gomez de Alvarado died in Peru, Gonzalo de Alvarado in Mexico or Guaxaca, I forget which, and Juan on his voyage to the Island of Cuba. His eldest son going with his relation Juan de Alvarado the younger to wait on his Majesty, and solicit a recompence for his father’s services, the ship wherein they went was lost, and neither they nor it were ever heard of after they set sail. Don Diego, the younger son, seeing his fortunes desperate, returned to Peru, where he died in battle, and the lady of Pedro de Alvarado, with the female part of his family, one only excepted, were drowned by a torrent from a Volcano. Now curious readers reflect on what I have related of the fate of this family, and may our Lord Jesus Christ take them into his holy glory! amen. The only survivor, Donna Leonora one of his daughters who was saved from the torrent, has caused to be built two sepulchres in the great church of this city of Guatimala, to receive the bones of her relations.

In about a year after the death of D Pedro de Alvarado, the Viceroy collected the best of the thirteen ships which composed his fleet, and sent them under the command of an officer named Villalobos, to make discoveries to the westward, but what the result was, I never heard. As to the expences incurred by Alvarado he never recovered any part of them, nor his family after him.

The Marquis del Valle being in Spain at the time of the expedition against Algiers, and attending his Majesty in it, with his eldest son, and also Don Martin his son by Donna Marina, the fleet 

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was dispersed in a storm. The vessel on board which the Marquis was being stranded, he, his sons, and the other cavaliers reached the shore with very great difficulty. His servants have related, that before he pitted the vessel, he tied round his arm in a handkerchief a quantity of jewels of inestimable value, which he wore according to the custom of great lords, as we say “para no menester,” or because they are not wanting, but in the confusion of quitting the vessel by some accident they were all lost. On account of this disaster to the fleet, the council of war were of opinion to raise the siege immediately. To this council the Marquis was not summoned, but he is said to have declared, that had he been present at it he would have given his vote for the continuation of the siege, and that if it had been his fortune to have had such brave soldiers as those who first accompanied him to Mexico, he would entertain no doubt of success.

The Marquis was now grown old, and he was worn down by fatigues; he was therefore very anxious to return to New Spain, but a treaty of marriage was on foot between his eldest daughter Donna Maria Cortes, for whom he had sent to Mexico, and Don Alvaro Pinez Osorio son and heir to the Marquis of Astorga. The lady was to have a fortune of a hundred thousand ducats, and the Marquis had gone as far as Seville to meet her on her arrival in Spain, but the match was broken oft, as it is said, by the fault of Don Alvaro. The Marquis was greatly displeased, and being in a bad state of health before, he declined so rapidly that he found it necessary to retire from Seville to Castileja de la Cuesta, to attend to his soul, and make his last testament. Having arranged all his affairs for this, and the next world, it was the Lord’s will to take him from this troublesome state, on the second day of December one thousand five hundred and forty seven. He was buried with great pomp in the chapel of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia, but his remains were afterwards, according to his will, brought to New Spain, and interred in Cuyoacan or Tezcuco, I am uncertain which. In regard to his age, I will give the best account that I am able. In 

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the year one thousand five hundred and nineteen, when we went with him from Cuba to New Spain, he used to tell us that he was thirty four years of age; from one thousand five hundred and nineteen, to one thousand five hundred and forty seven, is a period of twenty eight years, which makes him at the time of his death exactly sixty two years old.

The legitimate children of the Marquis del Valle were, Don Martin the present Marquis, Donna Maria before mentioned who married the Count de Luna de Leon. Donna Juana, who married Don Hernando Enriquez heir to the Marquis of Tariffa, and Donna Catalina de Arrellano, who died in Seville. These ladies came with the Marchioness from Mexico; her brother Fray Anthonio de Zuniga being sent for them. One daughter named Donna Leonora, was married in Mexico, to a rich Biscayan named Juanes de Tolosa, which alliance gave great offence to the young Marquis. He also left two natural sons, one by Donna Marina, named Don Martin, who was commander of the order of St. Jago. The other, Don Luis, who was a commander of the same order, was the son of a lady, by name, De Hermosilla. He had also three natural daughters, one by an Indian woman of Cuba, was named Donna——Pizarro; the others were by a Mexican woman. These ladies were all left great fortunes. The Marquis also having due time, took care of his soul, by discharging his sins; endowing an hospital in Mexico, and a monastery of nuns in his own town of Cuyoacan.

The motto and arms which were granted to him were well adapted to a valiant warrior. The former being in Latin I will say nothing about, because I do not understand that language. His arms were the heads of seven kings in a chain, representing Montezuma, Cacamatzin, Guatimotzin, Tulapa, Coadlavaca, and the princes of Tacuba and Cuyoacan.

I will now proceed to describe the person and disposition of the Marquis. He was of a good stature and strong built, of a rather pale 

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complexion, and serious countenance. His features were, if faulty, rather too small; his eyes mild and grave. His beard was black, thin, and scanty; his hair in the same manner. His breast and shoulders were broad, and his body very thin. He was very well limbed, and his legs rather bowed; an excellent horseman, and dexterous in the use of arms. He also possessed the heart and mind, which is the principal part of the business. I have heard that when he was a lad in Hispaniola, he was very wild about women, and that he had several duels with able swordsmen, in which he always came off with victory. He had the scar of a sword-wound near his under lip, which appeared through his beard if closely examined, and which he received in some of those affairs. In his appearance, manners, transactions, conversation, table, and dress, every thing bore the appearance of a great lord. His cloaths were according to the fashion of the time; he was not fond of silks, damasks, or velvets, but every thing plain, and very handsome; nor did he wear large chains of gold, but a small one of prime workmanship, bearing the image of our Lady the Blessed Virgin with her precious son in her arms, and a Latin motto; and on the reverse, St. John the Baptist with another motto. He wore on his finger a ring with a very fine diamond, and in his cap, which according to the fashion of that day was of velvet, he bore a medal, the head and motto of which I do not recollect; but latterly he wore a plain cloth cap, without any ornament.

His table was always magnificently attended and served, with four major domos or principal officers, a number of pages, and a great quantity of plate both gold and silver. He dined heartily at mid-day, and drank a glass of wine mixed with water, of about half a pint, He was not nice in his food, nor expensive, except do particular occasions where he saw the propriety of it. He was very affable with all his captains and soldiers, especially those who accompanied him in his firm expedition from Cuba. He was a Latinist, and as I have been told, a bachelor in laws. He was also something of a poet, and a very good 

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rhetorician; very devout to our Holy Virgin, and his advocates St. Peter, St. Jago, and St. John the Baptist in particular; and charitable to the poor. When he swore he used to say, “by my conscience!” and when he was angry with any of us, his friends, he would say, “oh! may you repent it.” When he was very angry, the veins in his throat and forehead used to swell, and when in great wrath, he would not utter a syllable to any one. He was very patient under insults or injuries; for some of the soldiers were at times very rude and abusive with him; but he never resented their conduct, although he had often great reason to do so. In such cases he used only to say, “be silent,” or, “go away in God’s name and take care not to repeat this conduct, or I will have you punished.” He was very determined and headstrong in all business of war, not attending to any remonstrances on account of danger; an instance of which he shewed in the attack of those fortresses called the rocks of the Marquis; which he forced us to scale, contrary to our opinions, and where neither courage, counsel, or wisdom, could give any rational hope of success. Another instance, was given by him of his obstinacy in regard to the expedition against De Oli. I repeatedly advised him to go by the mountains; but he persisted in adhering to the coast, whereas if he had gone in the direction that I proposed he would have found towns the whole way, of which the following route is a proof; Guacacualco, the high road to Chiapa, from that to Guatimala, and from thence to Naco. Where we had to erect a fortress, Cortes was the hardest labourer in the trenches; when we were going into battle, he was as forward as any.

Cortes was very fond of play, both at cards and dice, and while playing he was very affable and good humoured. He used frequently at such times, those cant expressions which persons who game are accustomed to do. In military service he practised the most strict attention to discipline, constantly going the rounds in person during the night, visiting the quarters of the soldiers, and severely reprehending those whom he found without their armour and appointments, and

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not ready to turn out; repeating to them the proverb, that “it is a bad sheep which cannot carry its own wool.” On our expedition to Higueras I perceived that he had acquired a habit which I had never before observed in him, and it was this; after eating, if he did not get his siesta or sleep, his stomach was affected, and he fell sick. For this reason, when on the journey, let the rain be ever so heavy, or the sun ever so hot, he always reposed for a short time after his repast, a carpet or cloak being spread under a tree, on which he lay down, and having slept a short time he mounted his horse and proceeded on his journey. When we were engaged in the wars during the conquest of New Spain, he was very thin and slender, but after his return from Higueras he grew fat, and acquired a belly. He at this time trimmed his beard which had not begun to grow white, in the short fashion. In his early life he was very liberal, but grew close, latterly; some of his servants complaining that he did not pay them as he ought, and I have also to observe that in his latter undertakings he never succeeded. Perhaps such was the will of heaven, his reward being reserved for another place; for he was a good cavalier, and very devout to the Holy Virgin, and also to St. Paul and other Holy Saints. God pardon him his sins; and me mine; and give me a good end which is better than all conquests and victories over Indians.