From the Cross
THE INDIAN AND THE SPANIARD.
The following interesting scene occurred in the history of the early Spanish discoveries in America. The Indians of St. Domingo were treated in a most oppressive manner by their European masters. A chief named Enriquez, succeeded in throwing off the yoke of the tyrants, and escaped to a rough and mountainous part of the country, where, with a few followers, he lived in freedom. Many were the attempts of the Spaniards to drive him from his stronghold but were unsuccessful. His policy was altogether defensive, for which he had a double motive, a desire to spare the effusion of blood, and to escape the attacks of a disproportionate force. With a forbearance most strongly contrasted with the conduct of his enemies, he commanded his Indians never to slay a Spaniard but in self-defence, but to possess themselves of the Spanish arms whenever they could obtain them.
For ten years, every effort to reduce him to submission, by force or negotiation, was alike unsuccessful. At length in 1529, Hernandez de San Miguel, who came to the Island when a boy, with the first admiral, and who was well acquainted with the manners of the Indians and their modes of warfare as well as with the passes of the mountains, undertook, at the head of one hundred and fifty men, to hunt down the prudent insurgent.
After a pursuit of many days, during which the chieftain easily baffled the pursuer, Enriquez gave him an interview, in a spot which he selected for the purpose. Two mountain peaks arose precipitously to a great height near to each other, yet separated by a profound chasm, through which flowed a deep and rapid stream. Upon these summits, in mid air, where the warriors could hear but not approach each other, they opened a conference in which terms of peace were proposed by San Miguel, and accepted by Enriquez; the former, exhibiting full powers from the government for this purpose.
It was stipulated, that the chief and his followers might dwell in full freedom and independence, in such parts of the island as they might select refraining from all violence to the Spaniards, and restoring the gold which had been taken from certain travellers. Time and place were appointed, at which the parties should meet, accompanied each by eight attendants, for the delivery of the gold and the ratification of the treaty.
Enriquez repaired to the place on the seashore,and erected a bower, in which he placed the gold, and provision for both parties. San Miguel too kept the appointment; and that he might better celebrate the peace, he caused a vessel which accidentally appeared on the coast to be moored near the shore, while the crew marched in procession, to the sound of musical instruments. The chief beholding this numerous force approach, whose good faith he had but too much reason to receive the Spaniards with cordiality, to deliver up the treasure, and to say that indisposition prevented him for keeping his engagement in person.
San Miguel regretted much that the conclusion of the treaty should be thus postponed; but more, perhaps, that he had failed to carry Enriquez in chains to St. Domingo. He sent him however, a friendly message; and the truce, though not formally ratified, was preserved for four years, when a permanent treaty was concluded by which the intrepid chieftain accomplished the freedom and independence of himself and his tribe.