THE TRINID D HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 18.
Dispatch from Antonio de Berrio to the King of Spain.
SY'rce : -Additional Mss. 36315 f. 230-237. British Museum.
Published by courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Translated from the Spanish.
I wrote on the 23rd of June to Your Majesty, sending
duplicates by all the ways possible showing how God had
been pleased to grant the discovery of the great provinces
of Goaiana and Manoa which are called El Dorado which
was done with only 39 soldiers and a hundred ducats of
barter which I had here and they had gone where
three hundred soldiers could not have gone in force and they
have seen and reported the greatest riches which the world
has ever seen, all of which I relate in my reports and letters.
I have sent the Maese de Campo, Domingo de Vera to the
province of Venezuela since Don Diego Ossorio, the Governor
has up to now helped me and served Your Majesty well by
assisting me and he has promised to me for the discovery
150 men with horses and I have promised him in return
four square leagues of land well populated with Indians
from that which Your Majesty has been pleased to grant
me and I am sending reports and pieces of gold, worked with
skill equal to the goldsmiths of Spain, into idols of great
perfection as is the custom of the Indians of the Laguna.
After this and the important news which I have sent you
from the first and the present report and the information
gained from the Indians, it would appear that my affairs
have changed so much that they must be under the care
of the devil; since for this expedition there have been
collected with great haste I70 men under Captain Pedro
de Agreda, and other Captains as well all intending to go
to Goiana which name raises all their expectations and
people are saying that there are too few people to settle and
that it is a useless province and without profit and they
write to Your Majesty asking that perpetual Governorship
be given to Pedro de Agreda who is a bellicose man who
states that he will cross from there as my people tell me,
and enter into the provinces which I have discovered and
which have cost me so much.
I have sent the Sergento-Mayor to the New Kingdom
where my son is already, to collect and send me all the men
possible by the River Orinoco and I am hoping for help in
this way as I am far away and have not heard what is
And now I have learnt that the Governor whom Your
Majesty sent to the Andes, came to Margarita and gave to
Don Juan Sarmiento, Governor of that Island, a dispatch from
Your Majesty with five royal cedulas and a letter from Your
Majesty to me certified by the Secretary, Joan Vasquez
which cedulas the said Don Joan has hidden and up to now
has not given them to me saying that there is only one in which
Your Majesty has instructed the Governor of Cumana to
give me every assistance and help which may be necessary.
I sent this cedula for the information of Francisco de Vides,
Governor of that province, to which he has replied that he
could not help with any men as he had already stated in
reply to the previous cedula sent, so much so that no one of the
neighboring Governors has made any attempt to help me or
to comply with the cedula of Your Majesty hoping to destroy
me and believing in this way to be able to grasp that which
has cost me so much and hoping to finish me off by
unimaginable opposition and difficulties.
This Island of Trinidad is one of the best and largest
in this district with a circumference of more than 120 leagues
and many Indians, a very fruitful land not more than
four leagues from the mouth of the Orinoco; and the distance
along the south coast and through the bocas which is where
the ships pass, both of friends and enemies, is more than
40 leagues and quite smooth sea in all the places where
vessels anchor and here there are usually found English
ship: which I have attacked always doing damage to them,
killing men and taking prisoners and after four months there
I found two English ships trading for tobacco with the Indians
against which I at once went forth and took a Captain and
five other prisoners for whom as a ransom I got a quantity of
powder and lead, muskets and arquebusP. of v'which there
was great need because all the Governors nearby have been
annoyed at my discovery of these provinces and none of them
have allowed me to buy anything in their territories
Besides these Englishmen whom I loathe and always
injure, I am surrounded by Caribs who have tried to destroy
this Island and have eaten a great number of Indians and
since I have been here we have lost elc en Spaniards killed
in two attacks and more than too Indians who with the
few men we have, were sent with Domingo de Vera to attack
them in their own lands where they found four pirogues
on the point of starting, these Caribs were all killed and
none escaped ; but they are so many and so wide spread
and I have so few people and so little help that I cannot
do what I want.
It would be easy for Your Majesty to deal with these
Caribs if your ministers wished without buying or sending
anything at your cost or disturbing the mind of Your Majesty ;
in Puerto Rico, Your Majesty keeps 400 paid soldiers and
round about it are La Dominica, La Granada, Santa Lucia
and many other settlements of Caribs who each year go
forth with their fleets for their canmibal feasts; and these
soldiers have no orders from Your Majesty save only to
guard the fort and draw their pay.
I have only 70 men, yet in this Island are more than
6,ooo war Indians, the major part of them by no means
peaceable ; the greater part of the time my men are patrolling
the sea for the security of our coast and to see what is happening;
and none of the Governors nearby will allow me to recruit
men in their district and this Island must be settled before
settling the large provinces which I have discovered and for
this I lack the remedy unless Your Majesty sends me from
Seville some men and an express and precise ccdula ordering
the Governor of Puerto Rico to send me from the 400 men
kept idle there, a hundred so that with those and the
men which I have, I hope to patrol the coast and protect
this Island and go to conquer and settle that which has
cost me already so much.
Furthermore I beseech Your Majesty for the love of
God be pleased to order them in Puerto Rico to give me
20 quintals of powder and an equal weight of lead and
six culverins of those now unused in the fort each a quintal
and a half and fifty muskets so that I may pursue the settlement
of this Island of such importance to Your Majesty and to
obstruct the Corsairs and the Caribs and prevent them doing
harm to the human race and this is necessary for the conquest
with which Your Majesty has charged me so much so that
in truth without settling this Island it is not possible to settle
the provinces which I have discovered.
From Spain to here is an easy voyage and vessels can go
from here to Cartagena with good security, the land is all
occupied and can supply the things wanted by the Armada;
for ten months in the year the winds blow continuously
and the journey from here to Cartagena is short and can
be done in ten days or less and in this way the Island is well
situated as Your Majesty will see,
After one month the Maese de Campo, Domingo de Vera
returned from the province of Venezuela without any men
since Dan Diego Osorio refused to allow recruiting in spite
of the arrival there at this time of the Contador of that province,
Simon de Bolivar, bringing a despatch from Your Majesty
about me certified by the Secretary Joan de Harra which is
a duplicate of the first which the Governor of Margarita hid
from me and the said Maestro de Campo showed the Governor
of Venezuela and read him the cedula which he had from
Your Majesty and asked for a licence which the Governor
refused with fine words ; I think that the devil is obstructing
this expedition since he would not let me have a single man
though always before he had helped as Don Diego is certainly
of all tho.e in these parts the one who appears to me to have
served Your Majesty best but without doubt the devil has
got into him and nothing will come from him.
I beseech Your Majesty to order the necessary remedy
and may Our Lord preserve Your Majesty as christianity
San Josephe de Oruna,
Island of Trinidad.
24th November, 1593.
Your Catholic and Royal Majesty,
ANTONIO DE BERRIO.