He waste fellow voyager of Columbus
In the wars of Hispaniola
he had been a gallant soldier; and Ovando
had rewarded him with the government of the eastern province of that island.
From the hills in his jurisdiction, he could behold, across the clear waters of a placid sea, the magnificent vegetation of Porto Rico
, which distance rendered still more admirable, as it was seen through the transparent atmosphere of the tropics.
A visit to the
island stimulated the cupidity of avarice; and Ponce
aspired to the government.
He obtained the station
inured to sanguinary war, he was inexorably severe in his administration: he oppressed the natives; he amassed wealth.
But his commission as governor of Porto Rico
conflicted with the claims of the family of Columbus
; and policy, as well as justice, required his removal.
Yet, in the midst of an archipelago, and in the vicinity of a continent, what need was there for a brave soldier to pine at the loss of power over a wild though fertile island?
Age had not tempered the love of enterprise: he longed to advance his fortunes by the conquest of a kingdom, and to retrieve a reputation which was not without a blemish.1
Besides; the veteran soldier, whose cheeks had been furrowed by hard service, as well as by years, had heard, and had believed the tale, of a fountain which possessed virtues to renovate the life of those who should bathe in its stream, or give a perpetuity of youth to the happy man who should drink of its ever-flowing waters.
So universal was this tradition, that it was credited in Spain
, not by all the people and the court only, but by those who were distinguished