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[32] America. He waste fellow voyager of Columbus in his
Chap. II.} 1493.
second expedition. 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. Ponce was displaced.

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

1 Peter Martyr, d. III. l. x.

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