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   Chapter 12 THE SECOND VOYAGE.

Christopher Columbus and How He Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery By Justin Winsor Characters: 40930

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The embarkation.

The last day in port was a season of solemnity and gratulation. Coma, a Spaniard, who, if not an eyewitness, got his description from observers, thus describes the scene in a letter to Scillacio in Pavia: "The religious rites usual on such occasions were performed by the sailors; the last embraces were given; the ships were hung with brilliant cloths; streamers were wound in the rigging; and the royal standard flapped everywhere at the sterns of the vessels. The pipers and harpers held in mute astonishment the Nereids and even the Sirens with their sweet modulations. The shores re?choed the clang of trumpets and the braying of clarions. The discharge of cannon rolled over the water. Some Venetian galleys chancing to enter the harbor joined in the jubilation, and the cheers of united nations went up with prayers for blessings on the venturing crews."

1493. September 25. The fleet sails.

Night followed, calm or broken, restful or wearisome, as the case might be, for one or another, and when the day dawned (September 25, 1493) the note of preparation was everywhere heard. It was the same on the three great caracks, on the lesser caravels, and on the light craft, which had been especially fitted for exploration. The eager and curious mass of beings which crowded their decks were certainly a motley show. There were cavalier and priest, hidalgo and artisan, soldier and sailor. The ambitious thoughts which animated them were as various as their habits. There were those of the adventurer, with no purpose whatever but pastime, be it easy or severe. There was the greed of the speculator, counting the values of trinkets against stores of gold.

Columbus's character.

There was the brooding of the administrators, with unsolved problems of new communities in their heads. There were ears that already caught the songs of salvation from native throats. There was Columbus himself, combining all ambitions in one, looking around this harbor of Cadiz studded with his lordly fleet, spreading its creaking sails, lifting its dripping anchors. It was his to contrast it with the scene at Palos a little over a year before. This needy Genoese vested with the viceroyalty of a new world was more of an adventurer than any. He was a speculator who overstepped them all in audacious visions and golden expectancies. He was an administrator over a new government, untried and undivined. To his ears the hymns of the Church soared with a militant warning, dooming the heathen of the Indies, and appalling the Moslem hordes that imperiled the Holy Sepulchre.

1493. October 1. Canaries.

Under the eye of this one commanding spirit, the vessels fell into a common course, and were wafted out upon the great ocean under the lead of the escorting galleys of the Venetians. The responsibility of the captain-general of the great armament had begun. He had been instructed to steer widely clear of the Portuguese coast, and he bore away in the lead directly to the southwest. On the seventh day (October 1) they reached the Gran Canaria, where they tarried to repair a leaky ship. On the 5th they anchored at Gomera. Two days were required here to complete some parts of their equipment, for the islands had already become the centre of great industries and produced largely. "They have enterprising merchants who carry their commerce to many shores," wrote Coma to Scillacio.

There were wood and water to be taken on board. A variety of domestic animals, calves, goats, sheep, and swine; some fowls, and the seed of many orchard and garden fruits, oranges, lemons, melons, and the like, were gathered from the inhabitants and stowed away in the remaining spaces of the ships.

1493. October 13. At sea.

On the 7th the fleet sailed, but it was not till the 13th that the gentle winds had taken them beyond Ferro and the unbounded sea was about the great Admiral. He bore away much more southerly than in his first voyage, so as to strike, if he could, the islands that were so constantly spoken of, the previous year, as lying southeasterly from Espa?ola.

St. Elmo's light.

His ultimate port was, of course, the harbor of La Navidad, and he had issued sealed instructions to all his commanders, to guide any one who should part company with the fleet. The winds were favorable, but the dull sailing of the Admiral's ship restrained the rest. In ten days they had overshot the longitude of the Sargossa Sea without seeing it, leaving its floating weeds to the north. In a few days more they experienced heavy tempests. They gathered confidence from an old belief, when they saw St. Elmo waving his lambent flames about the upper rigging, while they greeted his presence with their prayers and songs.

"The fact is certain," says Coma, "that two lights shone through the darkness of the night on the topmast of the Admiral's ship. Forthwith the tempest began to abate, the sea to remit its fury, the waves their violence, and the surface of the waves became as smooth as polished marble." This sudden gale of four hours' duration came on St. Simon's eve.

The same authority represents that the protracted voyage had caused their water to run low, for the Admiral, confident of his nearness to land, and partly to reassure the timid, had caused it to be served unstintingly. "You might compare him to Moses," adds Coma, "encouraging the thirsty armies of the Israelites in the dry wastes of the wilderness."

1493. November 2.

November 3.

Dominica Island.


1493. November 3. Guadaloupe.

On Saturday, November 2, the leaders compared reckonings. Some thought they had come 780 leagues from Ferro; others, 800. There were anxiety and weariness on board. The constant fatigue of bailing out the leaky ships had had its disheartening effect. Columbus, with a practiced eye, saw signs of land in the color of the water and the shifting winds, and he signaled every vessel to take in sail. It was a waiting night. The first light of Sunday glinted on the top of a lofty mountain ahead, descried by a watch at the Admiral's masthead. As the island was approached, the Admiral named it, in remembrance of the holy day, Dominica. The usual service with the Salve Regina was chanted throughout the fleet, which moved on steadily, bringing island after island into view. Columbus could find no good anchorage at Dominica, and leaving one vessel to continue the search, he passed on to another island, which he named from his ship, Marigalante. Here he landed, set up the royal banner in token of possession of the group,-for he had seen six islands,-and sought for inhabitants. He could find none, nor any signs of occupation. There was nothing but a tangle of wood in every direction, a sparkling mass of leafage, trembling in luxurious beauty and giving off odors of spice. Some of the men tasted an unknown fruit, and suffered an immediate inflammation about the face, which it required remedies to assuage. The next morning Columbus was attracted by the lofty volcanic peak of another island, and, sailing up to it, he could see cascades on the sides of this eminence.


[From Henrique's Les Colonies Fran?oises, Paris, 1889.]

"Among those who viewed this marvelous phenomena at a distance from the ships," says Coma, "it was at first a subject of dispute whether it were light reflected from masses of compact snow, or the broad surface of a smooth-worn road. At last the opinion prevailed that it was a vast river."

November 4.

Columbus remembered that he had promised the monks of Our Lady of Guadaloupe, in Estremadura, to place some token of them in this strange world, and so he gave this island the name of Guadaloupe. Landing the next day, a week of wonders followed.


The exploring parties found the first village abandoned; but this had been done so hastily that some young children had been left behind. These they decked with hawks' bells, to win their returning parents. One place showed a public square surrounded by rectangular houses, made of logs and intertwined branches, and thatched with palms. They went through the houses and noted what they saw. They observed at the entrance of one some serpents carved in wood. They found netted hammocks, beside calabashes, pottery, and even skulls used for utensils of household service. They discovered cloth made of cotton; bows and bone-tipped arrows, said sometimes to be pointed with human shin-bones; domesticated fowl very like geese; tame parrots; and pineapples, whose flavor enchanted them. They found what might possibly be relics of Europe, washed hither by the equatorial currents as they set from the African coasts,-an iron pot, as they thought it (we know this from the Historie), and the stern-timber of a vessel, which they could have less easily mistaken. They found something to horrify them in human bones, the remains of a feast, as they were ready enough to believe, for they were seeking confirmation of the stories of cannibals which Columbus had heard on his first voyage. They learned that boys were fattened like capons.

[From Philoponus's Nota Typis Transacta Navigatio.]

The next day they captured a youth and some women, but the men eluded them. Columbus was now fully convinced that he had at last discovered the cannibals, and when it was found that one of his captains and eight men had not returned to their ship, he was under great apprehensions. He sent exploring parties into the woods. They hallooed and fired their arquebuses, but to no avail. As they threaded their way through the thickets, they came upon some villages, but the inhabitants fled, leaving their meals half cooked; and they were convinced they saw human flesh on the spit and in the pots. While this party was absent, some women belonging to the neighboring islands, captives of this savage people, came off to the ships and sought protection. Columbus decked them with rings and bells, and forced them ashore, while they begged to remain. The islanders stripped off their ornaments, and allowed them to return for more. These women said that the chief of the island and most of the warriors were absent on a predatory expedition.

Ojeda's expedition.

The party searching for the lost men returned without success, when Alonso de Ojeda offered to lead forty men into the interior for a more thorough search. This party was as unsuccessful as the other. Ojeda reported he had crossed twenty-six streams in going inland, and that the country was found everywhere abounding in odorous trees, strange and delicious fruits, and brilliant birds.

While this second party was gone, the crews took aboard a supply of water, and on Ojeda's return Columbus resolved to proceed, and was on the point of sailing, when the absent men appeared on the shore and signaled to be taken off. They had got lost in a tangled and pathless forest, and all efforts to climb high enough in trees to see the stars and determine their course had been hopeless. Finally striking the sea, they had followed the shore till they opportunely espied the fleet. They brought with them some women and boys, but reported they had seen no men.


Among the accounts of these early experiences of the Spaniards with the native people, the story of cannibalism is a constant theme. To circulate such stories enhanced the wonder with which Europe was to be impressed.


The cruelty of the custom was not altogether unwelcome to warrant a retaliatory mercilessness. Historians have not wholly decided that this is enough to account for the most positive statements about man-eating tribes. Fears and prejudices might do much to raise such a belief, or at least to magnify the habits. Irving remarks that the preservation of parts of the human body, among the natives of Espa?ola, was looked upon as a votive service to ancestors, and it may have needed only prejudice to convert such a custom into cannibalism when found with the Caribs. The adventurousness of the nature of this fierce people and their wanderings in wars naturally served to sharpen their intellects beyond the passive unobservance of the pacific tribes on which they preyed; so they became more readily, for this reason, the possessors of any passion or vice that the European instinct craved to fasten somewhere upon a strange people.

Caribs and Lucayans.

The contiguity of these two races, the fierce Carib and the timid tribes of the more northern islands, has long puzzled the ethnologist. Irving indulged in some rambling notions of the origin of the Carib, derived from observations of the early students of the obscure relations of the American peoples. Larger inquiry and more scientific observation has since Irving's time been given to the subject, still without bringing the question to recognizable bearings. The craniology of the Caribs is scantily known, and there is much yet to be divulged. The race in its purity has long been extinct. Lucien de Rosny, in an anthropological study of the Antilles published by the French Society of Ethnology in 1886, has amassed considerable data for future deductions. It is a question with some modern examiners if the distinction between these insular peoples was not one of accident and surroundings rather than of blood.

* * *

1493. November 10. Columbus leaves Guadaloupe.

When Columbus sailed from Guadaloupe on November 10, he steered northwest for Espa?ola, though his captives told him that the mainland lay to the south. He passed various islands, but did not cast anchor till the 14th, when he reached the island named by him Santa Cruz, and found it still a region of Caribs. It was here the Spaniards had their first fight with this fierce people in trying to capture a canoe filled with them. The white men rammed and overturned the hollowed log; but the Indians fought in the water so courageously that some of the Spanish bucklers were pierced with the native poisoned arrows, and one of the Spaniards, later, died of such a wound inflicted by one of the savage women. All the Caribs, however, were finally captured and placed in irons on board ship. One was so badly wounded that recovery was not thought possible, and he was thrown overboard. The fellow struck for the shore, and was killed by the Spanish arrows. The accounts describe their ferocious aspect, their coarse hair, their eyes circled with red paint, and the muscular parts of their limbs artificially extended by tight bands below and above.

Porto Rico.

Proceeding thence and passing a group of wild and craggy islets, which he named after St. Ursula and her Eleven Thousand Virgins, Columbus at last reached the island now called Porto Rico, which his captives pointed out to him as their home and the usual field of the Carib incursions. The island struck the strangers by its size, its beautiful woods and many harbors, in one of which, at its west end, they finally anchored. There was a village close by, which, by their accounts, was trim, and not without some pretensions to skill in laying out, with its seaside terraces. The inhabitants, however, had fled. Two days later, the fleet weighed anchor and steered for La Navidad.

1493. November 22. Espa?ola.

It was the 22d of November when the explorers made a level shore, which they later discovered to be the eastern end of Espa?ola. They passed gently along the northern coast, and at an attractive spot sent a boat ashore with the body of the Biscayan sailor who had died of the poisoned arrow, while two of the light caravels hovered near the beach to protect the burying party. Coming to the spot where Columbus had had his armed conflict with the natives the year before, and where one of the Indians who had been baptized at Barcelona was taken, this fellow, loaded with presents and decked in person, was sent on shore for the influence he might exert on his people. This supposable neophyte does not again appear in history. Only one of these native converts now remained, and the accounts say that he lived faithfully with the Spaniards. Five of the seven who embarked had died on the voyage.

1493. November 25.

1493. November 27. Off La Navidad.

On the 25th, while the fleet was at anchor at Monte Christo, where Columbus had found gold in the river during his first voyage, the sailors discovered some decomposed bodies, one of them showing a beard, which raised apprehensions of the fate of the men left at La Navidad. The neighboring natives came aboard for traffic with so much readiness, however, that it did much to allay suspicion. It was the 27th when, after dark, Columbus cast anchor opposite the fort, about a league from land. It was too late to see anything more than the outline of the hills. Expecting a response from the fort, he fired two cannons; but there was no sound except the echoes. The Spaniards looked in vain for lights on the shore. The darkness was mysterious and painful. Before midnight a canoe was heard approaching, and a native twice asked for the Admiral. A boat was lowered from one of the vessels, and towed the canoe to the flag-ship. The natives were not willing to board her till Columbus himself appeared at the waist, and by the light of a lantern revealed his countenance to them. This reassured them. Their leader brought presents-some accounts say ewers of gold, others say masks ornamented with gold-from the cacique, Guacanagari, whose friendly assistance had been counted upon so much to befriend the little garrison at La Navidad.

Its garrison killed.

These formalities over, Columbus inquired for Diego de Arana and his men. The young Lucayan, now Columbus's only interpreter, did the best he could with a dialect not his own to make a connected story out of the replies, which was in effect that sickness and dissension, together with the withdrawal of some to other parts of the island, had reduced the ranks of the garrison, when the fort as well as the neighboring village of Guacanagari was suddenly attacked by a mountain chieftain, Caonabo, who burned both fort and village. Those of the Spaniards who were not driven into the sea to perish had been put to death. In this fight the friendly cacique had been wounded. The visitors said that this chieftain's hurt had prevented his coming with them to greet the Admiral; but that he would come in the morning. Coma, in his account of this midnight interview, is not so explicit, and leaves the reader to infer that Columbus did not get quite so clear an apprehension of the fate of his colony.

When the dawn came, the harbor appeared desolate. Not a canoe was seen where so many sped about in the previous year. A boat was sent ashore, and found every sign that the fort had been sacked as well as destroyed. Fragments of clothing and bits of merchandise were scattered amid its blackened ruins. There were Indians lurking behind distant trees, but no one approached, and as the cacique had not kept the word which he had sent of coming himself in the morning, suspicions began to arise that the story of its destruction had not been honestly given. The new-comers passed a disturbed night with increasing mistrust, and the next morning Columbus landed and saw all for himself. He traveled farther away from the shore than those who landed on the preceding day, and gained some confirmation of the story in finding the village of the cacique a mass of blackened ruins. Cannon were again discharged, in the hopes that their reverberating echoes might reach the ears of those who were said to have abandoned the fort before the massacre. The well and ditch were cleaned out to see if any treasure had been cast into it, as Columbus had directed in case of disaster. Nothing was found, and this seemed to confirm the tale of the suddenness of the attack. Columbus and his men went still farther inland to a village; but its inmates had hurriedly fled, so that many articles of European make, stockings and a Moorish robe among them, had been left behind, spoils doubtless of the fort. Returning nearer the fort, they discovered the bodies of eleven men buried, with the grass growing above them, and enough remained of their clothing to show they were Europeans. This is Dr. Chanca's statement, who says the men had not been dead two months. Coma says that the bodies were unburied, and had lain for nearly three months in t

he open air; and that they were now given Christian burial.

Guacanagari and Caonabo.

Later in the day, a few of the natives were lured by friendly signs to come near enough to talk with the Lucayan interpreter. The story in much of its details was gradually drawn out, and Columbus finally possessed himself of a pretty clear conception of the course of the disastrous events. It was a tale of cruelty, avarice, and sensuality towards the natives on the part of the Spaniards, and of jealousy and brawls among themselves. No word of their governor had been sufficient to restrain their outbursts of passionate encounter, and no sense of insecurity could deter them from the most foolhardy risks while away from the fort's protection. Those who had been appointed to succeed Arana, if there were an occasion, revolted against him, and, being unsuccessful in overthrowing him, they went off with their adherents in search of the mines of Cibao. This carried them beyond the protection of Guacanagari, and into the territory of his enemy, Caonabo, a wandering Carib who had offered himself to the interior natives as their chieftain, and who had acquired a great ascendency in the island. This leader, who had learned of the dissensions among the Spaniards, was no sooner informed of the coming of these renegades within his reach than he caused them to be seized and killed. This emboldened him to join forces with another cacique, a neighbor of Guacanagari, and to attempt to drive the Spaniards from the island, since they had become a standing menace to his power, as he reasoned. The confederates marched stealthily, and stole into the vicinity of the fort in the night. Arana had but ten men within the stockade, and they kept no watch. Other Spaniards were quartered in the adjacent village. The onset was sudden and effective, and the dismal ruins of the fort and village were thought to confirm the story.

Do?a Catalina.

Other confirmations followed. A caravel was sent to explore easterly, and was soon boarded by two Indians from the shore, who invited the captain, Maldonado, to visit the cacique, who lay ill at a neighboring village. The captain went, and found Guacanagari laid up with a bandaged leg. The savage told a story which agreed with the one just related, and on its being repeated to Columbus, the Admiral himself, with an imposing train, went to see the cacique. Guacanagari seemed anxious, in repeating the story, to convince the Admiral of his own loyalty to the Spaniards, and pointed to his wounds and to those of some of his people as proof. There was the usual interchange of presents, hawks' bells for gold, and similar reckonings. Before leaving, Columbus asked to have his surgeon examine the wound, which the cacique said had been occasioned by a stone striking the leg. To get more light, the chieftain went out-of-doors, leaning upon the Admiral's arm. When the bandage was removed, there was no external sign of hurt; but the cacique winced if the flesh was touched. Father Boyle, who was in the Admiral's train, thought the wound a pretense, and the story fabricated to conceal the perfidy of the cacique, and urged Columbus to make an instant example of the traitor. The Admiral was not so confident as the priest, and at all events he thought a course of pacification and procrastination was the better policy. The interview did not end, according to Coma, without some strange manifestations on the part of the cacique, which led the Spaniards for a moment to fear that a trial of arms was to come. The chief was not indisposed to try his legs enough to return with the Admiral to his ship that very evening. Here he saw the Carib prisoners, and the accounts tell us how he shuddered at the sight of them. He wondered at the horses and other strange creatures which were shown to him. Coma tells us that the Indians thought that the horses were fed on human flesh. The women who had been rescued from the Caribs attracted, perhaps, even more the attention of the savage, and particularly a lofty creature among them, whom the Spaniards had named Do?a Catalina. Guacanagari was observed to talk with her more confidingly than he did with the others.

Father Boyle urged upon the Admiral that a duress similar to that of Catalina was none too good for the perfidious cacique, as the priest persisted in calling the savage, but Columbus hesitated. There was, however, little left of that mutual confidence which had characterized the relations of the Admiral and the chieftain during the trying days of the shipwreck, the year before. When the Admiral offered to hang a cross on the neck of his visitor, and the cacique understood it to be the Christian emblem, he shrank from the visible contact of a faith of which the past months had revealed its character. With this manifestation they parted, and the cacique was set ashore. Coma seems to unite the incidents of this interview on the ship with those of the meeting ashore.

The cacique and Catalina.

There comes in here, according to the received accounts, a little passage of Indian intrigue and gallantry. A messenger appeared the next day to inquire when the Admiral sailed, and later another to barter gold. This last held some talk with the Indian women, and particularly with Catalina. About midnight a light appeared on the shore, and Catalina and her companions, while the ship's company, except a watch, were sleeping, let themselves down the vessel's side, and struck out for the shore. The watch discovered the escape, but not in time to prevent the women having a considerable start. Boats pursued, but the swimmers touched the beach first. Four of them, however, were caught, but Catalina and the others escaped.

When, the next morning, Columbus sent a demand for the fugitives, it was found that Guacanagari had moved his household and all his effects into the interior of the island. The story got its fitting climax in the suspicious minds of the Spaniards, when they supposed that the fugitive beauty was with him. Here was only a fresh instance of the savage's perfidy.

* * *

Columbus abandons La Navidad.

Columbus had before this made up his mind that the vicinity of his hapless fort was not a good site for the town which he intended to build. The ground was low, moist, and unhealthy. There were no building stones near at hand. There was need of haste in a decision. The men were weary of their confinement on shipboard. The horses and other animals suffered from a like restraint. Accordingly expeditions were sent to explore the coast, and it soon became evident that they must move beyond the limits of Guacanagari's territory, if they would find the conditions demanded. Melchior Maldonado, in command of one of these expeditions, had gone eastward until he coasted the country of another cacique. This chief at first showed hostility, but was won at last by amicable signs. From him they learned that Guacanagari had gone to the mountains. From another they got the story of the massacre of the fort, almost entirely accordant with what they had already discovered.

Isabella founded.

Cibao gold mines.

Not one of the reports from these minor explorations was satisfactory, and December 7, the entire fleet weighed anchor to proceed farther east. Stress of weather caused them to put into a harbor, which on examination seemed favorable for their building project. The roadstead was wide. A rocky point offered a site for a citadel. There were two rivers winding close by in an attractive country, and capable of running mills. Nature, as they saw it, was variegated and alluring. Flowers and fruits were in abundance. "Garden seeds came up in five days after they were sown," says Coma of their trial of the soil, "and the gardens were speedily clothed in green, producing plentifully onions and pumpkins, radishes and beets." "Vegetables," wrote Dr. Chanca, "attain a more luxuriant growth here in eight days than they would in Spain in twenty." It was also learned that the gold mines of the Cibao mountains were inland from the spot, at no great distance.

The disembarkation began. Days of busy exertion followed. Horses, livestock, provisions, munitions, and the varied merchandise were the centre of a lively scene about their encampment. This they established near a sheet of water. Artificers, herdsmen, cavaliers, priests, laborers, and placemen made up the motley groups which were seen on all sides.

Sickness in the colony.

In later years, the Spaniards regulated all the formalities and prescribed with precision the proceedings in the laying out of towns in the New World, but Columbus had no such directions. The planting of a settlement was a novel and untried method. It was a natural thought to commemorate in the new Christian city the great patroness of his undertaking, and the settlement bore from the first the name of Isabella. His engineers laid out square and street. A site for the church was marked, another for a public storehouse, another for the house of the Admiral,-all of stone. The ruins of these three buildings are the most conspicuous relics in the present solitary waste. The great mass of tenements, which were stretched along the streets back from the public square, where the main edifice stood, were as hastily run up as possible, to cover in the colony. It was time enough for solider structures later to take their places. Parties were occupied in clearing fields and setting out orchards. There were landing piers to be made at the shore. So everybody tasked bodily strength in rival endeavors. The natural results followed in so incongruous a crowd. Those not accustomed to labor broke down from its hardships. The seekers for pleasure, not finding it in the common toil, rushed into excesses, and imperiled all. The little lake, so attractive to the inexperienced, was soon, with its night vapors, the source of disease. Few knew how to protect themselves from the insidious malaria. Discomfort induced discouragement, and the mental firmness so necessary in facing strange and exacting circumstances gave way.

Columbus sick.

Forebodings added greater energy to the disease. It was not long before the colony was a camp of hospitals, about one half the people being incapacitated for labor. In the midst of all this downheartedness Columbus himself succumbed, and for some weeks was unable to direct the trying state of affairs, except as he could do so in the intervals of his lassitude.

But as the weeks went on a better condition was apparent. Work took a more steady aspect. The ships had discharged their burdens. They lay ready for the return voyage.

Sends Ojeda to seek the Cibao mines.

Columbus had depended on the exertions of the little colony at La Navidad to amass a store of gold and other precious commodities with which to laden the returning vessels. He knew the disappointment which would arise if they should carry little else than the dismal tale of disaster. Nothing lay upon his mind more weightily than this mortification and misfortune. There was nothing to be done but to seek the mines of Cibao, for the chance of sending more encouraging reports. Gold had indeed been brought in to the settlement, but only scantily; and its quantity was not suited to make real the gorgeous dreams of the East with which Spain was too familiar.

So an expedition to Cibao was organized, and Ojeda was placed in command. The force assigned to him was but fifteen men in all, but each was well armed and courageous. They expected perils, for they had to invade the territory of Caonabo, the destroyer of La Navidad.

1494. January. First mass.

The march began early in January, 1494; perhaps just after they had celebrated their first solemn mass in a temporary chapel on January 6. For two days their progress was slow and toilsome, through forests without a sign of human life, for the savage denizens had moved back from the vicinity of the Spaniards. The men encamped, the second night, on the top of a mountain, and when the dawn broke they looked down on its further side over a broad valley, with its scattered villages. They boldly descended, and met nothing but hospitality from the villagers. Their course now lay towards and up the opposite slope of the valley. They pushed on without an obstacle.

Gold found.

Gorvalan's expedition.

The rude inhabitants of the mountains were as friendly as those of the valley. They did not see nor did they hear anything of the great Caonabo. Every stream they passed glittered with particles of gold in its sand. The natives had an expert way of separating the metal, and the Spaniards flattered them for their skill. Occasionally a nugget was found. Ojeda picked up a lump which weighed nine ounces, and Peter Martyr looked upon it wonderingly when it reached Spain. If all this was found on the surface, what must be the wealth in the bowels of these astounding mountains? The obvious answer was what Ojeda hastened back to make to Columbus. A similar story was got from a young cavalier, Gorvalan, who had been dispatched in another direction with another force. There was in all this the foundation of miracles for the glib tongue and lively imagination. One of these exuberant stories reached Coma, and Scillacio makes him say that "the most splendid thing of all (which I should be ashamed to commit to writing, if I had not received it from a trustworthy source) is that, a rock adjacent to a mountain being struck with a club, a large quantity of gold burst out, and particles of gold of indescribable brightness glittered all around the spot. Ojeda was loaded down by means of this outburst." It was stories like these which prepared the way for the future reaction in Spain.

Columbus writes to the sovereigns.

There was material now to give spirit to the dispatch to his sovereigns, and Columbus sat down to write it. It has come down to us, and is printed in Navarrete's collection, just as it was perused by the King and Queen, who entered in the margins their comments and orders. Columbus refers at the beginning to letters already written to their Highnesses, and mentions others addressed to Father Buele and to the treasurer, but they are not known. Then, speaking of the expeditions of Ojeda and Gorvalan, he begs the sovereigns to satisfy themselves of the hopeful prospects for gold by questioning Gorvalan, who was to return with the ships. He advises their Highnesses to return thanks to God for all this. Those personages write in the margin, "Their Highnesses return thanks to God!" He then explains his embarrassment from the sickness of his men,-the "greater part of all," as he adds,-and says that the Indians are very familiar, rambling about the settlement both day and night, necessitating a constant watch. As he makes excuses and gives his reasons for not doing this or that, the compliant monarchs as constantly write against the paragraphs, "He has done well." Columbus says he is building stone bulwarks for defense, and when this is done he shall provide for accumulating gold. "Exactly as should be done," chime in the monarchs. He then asks for fresh provisions to be sent to him, and tells how much they have done in planting. "Fonseca has been ordered to send further seeds," is the comment. He complains that the wine casks had been badly coopered at Seville, and that the wine had all run out, so that wine was their prime necessity. He urges that calves, heifers, asses, working mares, be sent to them; and that above all, to prevent discouragement, the supplies should arrive at Isabella by May, and that particularly medicines should come, as their stock was exhausted. He then refers to the cannibals whom he would send back, and asks that they may be made acquainted with the true faith and taught the Spanish tongue. "His suggestions are good," is the marginal royal comment.

Columbus proposes a trade in slaves.

Now comes the vital point of his dispatch. We want cattle, he says. They can be paid for in Carib slaves. Let yearly caravels conduct this trade. It will be easy, with the boats which are building, to capture a plenty of these savages. Duties can be levied on these importations of slaves. On this point he urges a reply. The monarchs see the fatality of the step, and, according to the marginal comment, suspend judgment and ask the Admiral's further thoughts. "A more distinct suggestion for the establishment of a slave trade was never proposed," is the modern comment of Arthur Helps. Columbus then adds that he has bought for the use of the colony certain of the vessels which brought them out, and these would be retained at Isabella, and used in making further discoveries. The comment is that Fonseca will pay the owners. He then intimates that more care should be exercised in the selection of placemen sent to the colony, for the enterprise had suffered already from unfitness in such matters. The monarchs promise amends. He complains that the Granada lancemen, who offered themselves in Seville mounted on fine horses, had subsequently exchanged these animals to their own personal advantage for inferior horses. He says the footmen made similar exchanges to fill their own pockets.

1404. January 30. Signs his letter.

Gold, the Christians' God!

1494. February 2. The fleet returns to Spain.

Chanca's narrative.

So, dating this memorial on January 30, 1494, the man who was ambitious to become the first slave-driver of the New World laid down his quill, praising God, as he asked his sovereigns to do. The poor creatures who wandered in and about among the cabins of the Spaniards were fast forming their own comments, which were quite as astute as those of the Admiral's royal masters. Holding up a piece of gold, the natives learned to say,-and Columbus had given them their first lesson in such philosophy,-"Behold the Christians' God!" Benzoni, the first traveler who came among them with his eyes open, and daring to record the truth, heard them say this. Intrusting his memorial to Antonio de Torres, and putting him in command of the twelve ships that were to return to Spain, Columbus saw the fleet sail away on February 2, 1494. There would seem to have been committed to some one on the ships two other accounts of the results of this second voyage up to this time, which have come down to us. One of these is a narrative by Dr. Chanca, the physician of the colony, whom Columbus, in his memorial to the monarchs, credits with doing good service in his profession at a sacrifice of the larger emoluments which the practice of it had brought to him in Seville. The narrative of Chanca had been sent by him to the cathedral chapter of Seville. The original is thought to be lost; but Navarrete used a transcript which belonged to a collection formed by Father Antonio de Aspa, a monk of the monastery of the Mejorada, where Columbus is known to have deposited some of his papers. Major has given us an English translation of it in his Select Letters of Columbus. Major's text will also be found in the late James Lenox's English version of the other account, which he gave to scholars in 1859.

Coma's narrative.

There is a curious misconception in this last document, which represents that Columbus had reached these new regions by the African route of the Portuguese,-a confusion doubtless arising from the imperfect knowledge which the Italian translator, Nicholas Scillacio, had of the current geographical developments. A Spaniard, Guglielmo Coma, seems to have written about the new discoveries in some letters, apparently revived in some way from somebody's personal observation, which Scillacio put into a Latin dress, and published at Pavia, or possibly at Pisa. This little tract is of the utmost rarity, and Mr. Lenox, considering the suggestion of Ronchini, that the blunder of Scillacio may have caused the destruction of the edition, replies by calling attention to the fact that it is scarcely rarer than many other of the contemporary tracts of Columbus's voyage, about which there exists no such reason.

Verde's letters.

We get also some reports by Torres himself on the affairs of the colony in various letters of a Florentine merchant, Simone Verde, to whom he had communicated them. These letters have been recently (1875) found in the archives of Florence, and have been made better known still later by Harrisse.

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