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Christopher Columbus and How He Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery By Justin Winsor Characters: 40837

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Life in Isabella.

The departure of the fleet made conspicuous at last a threatening faction of those whose terms of service had prevented their taking passage in the ships. This organized discontent was the natural result of a depressing feeling that all the dreams of ease and plenty which had sustained them in their embarkation were but delusions. Life in Isabella had made many of them painfully conscious of the lack of that success and comfort which had been counted upon. The failure of what in these later days is known as the commissariat was not surprising. With all our modern experience in fitting out great expeditions, we know how often the fate of such enterprises is put in jeopardy by rascally contractors. Their arts, however, are not new ones. Fonseca was not so wary, Columbus was not so exacting, that such arts could not be practiced in Seville, as to-day in London and New York. This jobbery, added to the scant experience of honest endeavor, inevitably brought misfortune and suffering through spoiled provisions and wasted supplies.

Mutinous factions.

The faction, taking advantage of this condition, had two persons for leaders, whose official position gave the body a vantage-ground. Bernal Diaz de Pisa was the comptroller of the colony, and his office permitted him to have an oversight of the Admiral's accounts. It is said that before this time he had put himself in antagonism to authority by questioning some of the doings of the Admiral. He began now to talk to the people of the Admiral's deceptive and exaggerating descriptions intended for effect in Spain, and no doubt represented them to be at least as false as they were. Diaz drew pictures that produced a prevailing gloom beyond what the facts warranted, for deceit is a game of varying extremes.

Their schemes discovered.

He was helped on by the assayer of the colony, Fermin Cado, who spoke as an authority on the poor quality of the gold, and on the Indian habit of amassing it in their families, so that the moderate extent of it which the natives had offered was not the accretions of a day, but the result of the labor of generations. With leaders acting in concert, it had been planned to seize the remaining ships, and to return to Spain. This done, the mutineers expected to justify their conduct by charges against the Admiral, and a statement of them had already been drawn up by Bernal Diaz. The mutiny, however, was discovered, and Columbus had the first of his many experiences in suppressing a revolt. Bernal Diaz was imprisoned on one of the ships, and was carried to Spain for trial. Other leaders were punished in one way and another. To prevent the chances of success in future schemes of revolt, all munitions and implements of war were placed together in one of the ships, under a supervision which Columbus thought he could trust.

The prompt action of the Admiral had not been taken without some question of his authority, or at least it was held that he had been injudicious in the exercise of it. The event left a rankling passion among many of the colonists against what was called Columbus's vindictiveness and presumptuous zeal. With it all was the feeling that a foreigner was oppressing them, and was weaving about them the meshes of his arbitrary ambition.

* * *

Columbus goes to the gold mines.

Diego Colon.

Columbus now determined to go himself to the gold regions of the interior. He arranged that Diego, his brother,-another foreigner!-should have the command in his absence. Las Casas pictures for us this younger of the Colombos, and calls him gentle, unobtrusive, and kindly. He allows to him a priest's devotion, but does not consider him quite worldly enough in his dealings with men to secure himself against ungenerous wiles.

1494. March 12.

It was the 12th of March when Columbus set out on his march. He conducted a military contingent of about 400 well-armed men, including what lancers he could mount. In his train followed an array of workmen, miners, artificers, and porters, with their burdens of merchandise and implements. A mass of the natives hovered about the procession.

Columbus makes a road.

The Vega Real.

Their progress was as martial as it could be made. Banners were flaunted. Drums and trumpets were sounded. Their armor was made to glisten. Crossing the low land, they came to a defile in the mountain. There was nothing before them but a tortuous native trail winding upward among the rocks and through tangled forest. It was ill suited for the passage of a heavily burdened force. Some of the younger cavaliers sprang to the front, and gathering around them woodmen and pioneers, they opened the way; and thus a road was constructed through the pass, the first made in the New World. This work of the proud cavaliers was called El puerto de los Hidalgos. The summit of the mountain afforded afresh the grateful view of the luxuriant valley which had delighted Ojeda,-royally rich as it was in every aspect, and deserving the name which Columbus now gave it of the Vega Real.

Erects a cross.

Here, on the summit of Santo Cerro, the tradition of the island goes that Columbus caused that cross to be erected which the traveler to-day looks upon in one of the side chapels of the cathedral at Santo Domingo. It stood long enough to perform many miracles, as the believers tell us, and was miraculously saved in an earthquake. De Lorgues does not dare to connect the actual erection with the holy trophy of the cathedral. Descending to the lowlands, the little army and its followers attracted the notice of the amazed natives by clangor and parade. This display was made more astounding whenever the horses were set to prancing, as they approached and passed a native hamlet. Las Casas tells us that the first horseman who dismounted was thought by the natives to have parceled out a single creature into convenient parts. The Indians, timid at first, were enticed by a show of trinkets, and played upon by the interpreters. Thus they gradually were won over to repay all kindnesses with food and drink, while they rendered many other kindly services. The army came to a large stream, and Columbus called it the River of Reeds. It was the same which, the year before, knowing it only where it emptied into the sea, he had called the River of Gold, because he had been struck with the shining particles which he found among its sands. Here they encamped. The men bathed. They found everything about them like the dales of Paradise, if we may believe their rehearsals. The landscape was very different from that which Bernal Diaz was to tell of, if only once he got the ears of the Court in Seville.

Cibao mountains.

The river was so wide and deep that the men could not ford it, so they made rafts to take over everything but the horses. These swam the current. Then the force passed on, but was confronted at last by the rugged slopes of the Cibao mountains. The soldiers clambered up the defile painfully and slowly. The pioneers had done what they could to smooth the way, but the ascent was wearying. They could occasionally turn from their toil to look back over this luxuriant valley which they were leaving, and lose their vision in its vast extent. Las Casas describes it as eighty leagues one way, and twenty or thirty the other.

Fort St. Thomas.

It was a scene of bewildering beauty that they left behind; it was one of sterile heights, scraggy pines, and rocky precipices which they entered. The leaders computed that they were eighteen leagues from Isabella, and as Columbus thought he saw signs of gold, amber, lapis lazuli, copper, and one knows not what else of wealth, all about him, he was content to establish his fortified position hereabouts, without pushing farther. He looked around, and found at the foot of one of the declivities of the interior of this mountainous region a fertile plain, with a running river, gurgling over beds of jasper and marble, and in the midst of it a little eminence, which he could easily fortify, as the river nearly surrounded it like a natural ditch. Here he built his fort. Recent travelers say that an overgrowth of trees now covers traces of its foundations. The fortress was, as he believed, so near the gold that one could see it with his eyes and touch it with his hands, and so, as Las Casas tells us, he named it St. Thomas.

The Indians had already learned to recognize the Christian's god. They found the golden deity in bits in the streams. They took the idol tenderly to his militant people. For their part, the poor natives much preferred rings and hawks' bells, and so a basis of traffic was easily found. In this way Columbus got some gold, but he more readily got stories of other spots, whither the natives pointed vaguely, where nuggets, which would dwarf all these bits, could be found. Columbus began to wonder why he never reached the best places.

Country examined.

Columbus returns to Isabella.

The Spaniards soon got to know the region better. Juan de Luxan, who had been sent out with a party to see what he could find, reported that the region was mountainous and in its upper parts sterile, to be sure, but that there were delicious valleys, and plenty of land to cultivate, and pasturing enough for herds. When he came back with these reports, the men put a good deal of heart in the work which they were bestowing on the citadel of St. Thomas, so that it was soon done. Pedro Margarite was placed in command with fifty-six men, and then Columbus started to return to Isabella.

Natives of the valley.

When the Admiral reached the valley, he met a train of supplies going forward to St. Thomas, and as there were difficulties of fording and other obstacles, he spent some time in examining the country and marking out lines of communication. This brought him into contact with the villages of the valley, and he grew better informed of the kind of people among whom his colonists were to live. He did not, however, discern that under a usually pacific demeanor there was no lack of vigorous determination in this people, which it might not be so wise to irritate to the point of vengeance. He found, too, that they had a religion, perhaps prompting to some virtues he little suspected in his own, and that they jealously guarded their idols. He discovered that experience had given them no near acquaintance with the medicinal properties of the native herbs and trees. They associated myths with places, and would tell you that the sun and moon were but creatures of their island which had escaped from one of their caverns, and that mankind had sprung from the crannies of their rocky places. The bounteousness of nature, causing little care for the future, had spread among them a love of hospitality, and Columbus found himself welcome everywhere, and continued to be so till he and his abused their privileges.

1494. March 29. Columbus in Isabella.

On the 29th of March, Columbus was back in Isabella, to find that the plantings of January were already yielding fruits, and the colony, in its agricultural aspects, at least, was promising, for the small areas that had already been cultivated. But the tidings from the new fort in the mountains which had just come in by messenger were not so cheering, for it seemed to be the story of La Navidad repeated. The license and exactions of the garrison had stirred up the neighboring natives, and Pedro Margarite, in his message, showed his anxiety lest Caonabo should be able to mass the savages, exasperated by their wrongs, in an attack upon the post. Columbus sent a small reinforcement to St. Thomas, and dispatched a force to make a better road thither, in order to facilitate any future operations.

Condition of the town.

The Admiral's more immediate attention was demanded by the condition of Isabella. Intermittent fever and various other disturbances incident to a new turning of a reeking soil were making sad ravages in the colony. The work of building suffered in consequence. The sick engrossed the attention of men withdrawn from their active labors, or they were left to suffer from the want of such kindly aid. The humidity of the climate and a prodigal waste had brought provisions so low that an allowance even of the unwholesome stock which remained was made necessary. In order to provide against impending famine, men were taken from the public works and put to labor on a mill, in order that they might get flour. No respect was paid to persons, and cavalier and priest were forced into the common service. The Admiral was obliged to meet the necessities by compulsory measures, for even an obvious need did not prevent the indifferent from shirking, and the priest and hidalgo from asserting their privileged rights. Any authority that enforced sacrifice galled the proud spirits, and the indignity of labor caused a mortification and despair that soon thinned the ranks of the best blood of the colony. Dying voices cursed the delusion which had brought them to the New World, the victims, as they claimed, of the avarice and deceit of a hated alien to their race.

Ojeda sent to St. Thomas.

Supineness in the commander would have brought everything in the colony to a disastrous close. A steady progression of some sort might be remedial. The Admiral's active mind determined on the diversion of further exploration with such a force as could be equipped. He mustered a little army, consisting of 250 men armed with crossbows, 100 with matchlocks, 16 mounted lancemen, and 20 officers. Ojeda was put at their head, with orders to lead them to St. Thomas, which post he was to govern while Margarite took the expeditionary party and scoured the country. Navarrete has preserved for us the instructions which Columbus imparted. They counseled a considerate regard for the natives, who must, however, be made to furnish all necessaries at fair prices. Above all, every Spaniard must be prevented from engaging in private trade, since the profits of such bartering were reserved to the Crown, and it did not help Columbus in his dealings with the refractory colonists to have it known that a foreign interloper, like himself, shared this profit with the Crown. Margarite was also told that he must capture, by force or stratagem, the cacique Caonabo and his brothers.

1494. April 9.

When Ojeda, who had started on April 9, reached the Vega Real, he learned that three Spaniards, returning from St. Thomas, had been robbed by a party of Indians, people of a neighboring cacique. Ojeda seized the offenders, the ears of one of whom he cut off, and then capturing the cacique himself and some of his family, he sent the whole party to Isabella. Columbus took prompt revenge, or made the show of doing so; but just as the sentence of execution was to be inflicted, he yielded to the importunities of another cacique, and thought to keep by it his reputation for clemency. Presently another horseman came in from St. Thomas, who, on his way, had rescued, single-handed and with the aid of the terror which his animal inspired, another party of five Spaniards, whom he had found in the hands of the same tribe.

Diego and the junto.

Such easy conquests convinced Columbus that only proper prudence was demanded to maintain the Spanish supremacy with even a diminished force. He had not forgotten the fears of the Portuguese which were harassing the Spanish Court when he left Seville, and, to anticipate them, he was anxious to make a more thorough examination of Cuba, which was a part of the neighboring main of Cathay, as he was ready to suppose. He therefore commissioned a sort of junto to rule, while in person he should conduct such an expedition by water. His brother Diego was placed in command during his absence, and he gave him four counselors, Father Boyle, Pedro Fernandez Coronel, Alonso Sanchez Carvajal, and Juan de Luxan. He took three caravels, the smallest of his little fleet, as better suited to explore, and left the two large ones behind.

1494. April 24. Columbus sails for Cuba.

It was April 24 when Columbus sailed from Isabella, and at once he ran westerly. He stopped at his old fort, La Navidad, but found that Guacanagari avoided him, and no time could be lost in discovering why. On the 29th, he left Espa?ola behind and struck across to the Cuban shore. Here, following the southern side of that island, he anchored first in a harbor where there were preparations for a native feast; but the people fled when he landed, and the not overfed Spaniards enjoyed the repast that was abandoned. The Lucayan interpreter, who was of the party, managed after a while to allure a single Indian, more confident than the rest, to approach; and when this Cuban learned from one of a similar race the peaceful purposes of the Spaniards, he went and told others, and so in a little while Columbus was able to hold a parley with a considerable group. He caused reparation to be made for the food which his men had taken, and then exchanged farewells with the astounded folk.

1494. May 1. On the Cuban coast.

On May 1, he raised anchor, and coasted still westerly, keeping near the shore. The country grew more populous. The amenities of his intercourse with the feast-makers had doubtless been made known along the coast, and as a result he was easily kept supplied with fresh fruits by the natives. Their canoes constantly put off from the shore as the ships glided by. He next anchored in the harbor which was probably that known to-day as St. Jago de Cuba, where he received the same hospitality, and dispensed the same store of trinkets in return.

1494. May 3. Steers for Jamaica.

Here, as elsewhere along the route, the Lucayan had learned from the natives that a great island lay away to the south, which was the source of what gold they had. The information was too frequently repeated to be casual, and so, on May 3, Columbus boldly stood off shore, and brought his ships to a course due south.

Natives of Jamaica.

A dog set upon them.

Santiago or Jamaica.

Character of natives.

It was not long before thin blue films appeared on the horizon. They deepened and grew into peaks. It was two days before the ships were near enough to their massive forms to see the signs of habitations everywhere scattered along the shore. The vessels stood in close to the land. A native flotilla hovered about, at first with menaces, but their occupants were soon won to friendliness by kindly signs. Not so, however, in the harbor, where, on the next day, he sought shelter and an opportunity to careen a leaky ship. Here the shore swarmed with painted men, and some canoes with feathered warriors advanced to oppose a landing. They hurled their javelins without effect, and filled the air with their screams and whoops. Columbus then sent in his boats nearer the shore than his ships could go, and under cover of a discharge from his bombards a party landed, and with their crossbows put the Indians to flight. Bernaldez tells that a dog was let loose upon the savages, and this is the earliest mention of that canine warfare which the Spaniards later made so sanguinary. Columbus now landed and took possession of the island under the name of Santiago, but the name did not supplant the native Jamaica. The warning lesson had its effect, and the next day some envoys of the cacique of the region made offers of amity, which were readily accepted. For three days this friendly intercourse was kept up, with the customary exchange of gifts. The Spaniards could but observe a marked difference in the character of this new people. They were more martial and better sailors than any they had seen since they left the Carib islands. The enormous mahogany-trees of the islands furnished them with trunks, out of which they constructed the largest canoes. Columbus saw one which was ninety-six feet long and eight broad. There was also in these people a degree of merriment such as the Spaniards had not noticed before, more docility and quick apprehension, and Peter Martyr gathered from those with whom he had talked that in almost all ways they seemed a manlier and experter race. Their cloth, utensils, and implements were of a character not differing from others the explorers had seen, but of better handiwork.

As soon as he floated his ship, Columbus again

stretched his course to the west, finding no further show of resistance. The native dugout sallied forth to trade from every little inlet which was passed. Finally, a youth came off and begged to be taken to the Spaniards' home, and the Historie tells us that it was not without a scene of distress that he bade his kinsfolk good-by, in spite of all their endeavors to reclaim him. Columbus was struck with the courage and confidence of the youth, and ordered special kindnesses to be shown to him. We hear nothing more of the lad.

Columbus returns to Cuba.

1494. May 18.

The Queen's Gardens.

Reaching now the extreme westerly end of Jamaica, and finding the wind setting right for Cuba, Columbus shifted his course thither, and bore away to the north. On the 18th of May, he was once more on its coast. The people were everywhere friendly. They told him that Cuba was an island, but of such extent that they had never seen the end of it. This did not convince Columbus that it was other than the mainland. So he went on towards the west, in full confidence that he would come to Cathay, or at least, such seemed his expectation. He presently rounded a point, and saw before him a large archipelago. He was now at that point where the Cabo de la Cruz on the south and this archipelago in the northwest embay a broad gulf. The islands seemed almost without number, and they studded the sea with verdant spots. He called them the Queen's Gardens. He could get better seaway by standing further south, and so pass beyond the islands; but suspecting that they were the very islands which lay in masses along the coast of Cathay, as Marco Polo and Mandeville had said, he was prompted to risk the intricacies of their navigation; so he clung to the shore, and felt that without doubt he was verging on the territories of the Great Khan. He began soon to apprehend his risks. The channels were devious. The shoals perplexed him. There was often no room to wear ship, and the boats had to tow the caravels at intervals to clearer water. They could not proceed at all without throwing the lead. The wind was capricious, and whirled round the compass with the sun. Sudden tempests threatened danger.

With all this anxiety, there was much to beguile. Every aspect of nature was like the descriptions of the East in the travelers' tales. The Spaniards looked for inhabitants, but none were to be seen. At last they espied a village on one of the islands, but on landing (May 22), not a soul could be found,-only the spoils of the sea which a fishing people would be likely to gather. Another day, they met a canoe from which some natives were fishing. The men came on board without trepidation and gave the Spaniards what fish they wanted. They had a wonderful way of catching fish. They used a live fish much as a falcon is used in catching its quarry. This fish would fasten itself to its prey by suckers growing about the head. The native fishermen let it out with a line attached to its tail, and pulled in both the catcher and the caught when the prey had been seized. These people also told the same story of the interminable extent westerly of the Cuban coast.

1494. June 3.

Men with tails.

Columbus now passed out from among these islands and steered towards a mountainous region, where he again landed and opened intercourse with a pacific tribe on June 3. An old cacique repeated the same story of the illimitable land, and referred to the province of Mangon as lying farther west. This name was enough to rekindle the imagination of the Admiral. Was not Mangi the richest of the provinces that Sir John Mandeville had spoken of? He learned also that a people with tails lived there, just as that veracious narrator had described, and they wore long garments to conceal that appendage. What a sight a procession of these Asiatics would make in another reception at the Spanish Court!

Gulf of Xagua.

White-robed men.

There was nothing now to impede the progress of the caravels, and on the vessels went in their westward course. Every day the crews got fresh fruits from the friendly canoes. They paid nothing for the balmy odors from the land. They next came to the Gulf of Xagua, and passing this they again sailed into shallow waters, whitened with the floating sand, which the waves kept in suspension. The course of the ships was tortuous among the bars, and they felt relieved when at last they found a place where their anchors would hold. To make sure that a way through this labyrinth could be found, Columbus sent his smallest caravel ahead, and then following her guidance, the little fleet, with great difficulty, and not without much danger at times, came out into clearer water. Later, he saw a deep bay on his right, and tacking across the opening he lay his course for some distant mountains. Here he anchored to replenish his water-casks. An archer straying into the forest came back on the run, saying that he had seen white-robed people. Here, then, thought Columbus, were the people who were concealing their tails! He sent out two parties to reconnoitre. They found nothing but a tangled wilderness. It has been suggested that the timorous and credulous archer had got half a sight of a flock of white cranes feeding in a savanna. Such is the interpretation of this story by Irving, and Humboldt tells us there is enough in his experience with the habits of these birds to make it certain that the interpretation is warranted.

Columbus believes he sees the Golden Chersonesus,

Still the Admiral went on westerly, opening communication occasionally with the shore, but to little advantage in gathering information, for the expedition had gone beyond the range of dialects where the Lucayan interpreter could be of service. The shore people continued to point west, and the most that could be made of their signs was that a powerful king reigned in that direction, and that he wore white robes. This is the story as Bernaldez gives it; and Columbus very likely thought it a premonition of Prester John. The coast still stretched to the setting sun, if Columbus divined the native signs aright, but no one could tell how far. The sea again became shallow, and the keels of the caravels stirred up the bottom. The accounts speak of wonderful crowds of tortoises covering the water, pigeons darkening the sky, and gaudy butterflies sweeping about in clouds. The shore was too low for habitation; but they saw smoke and other signs of life in the high lands of the interior. When the coast line began to trend to the southwest,-it was Marco Polo who said it would,-there could be little doubt that the Golden Chersonesus of the ancients, which we know to-day as the Malacca peninsula, must be beyond.

by which he would return to Spain.

What next? was the thought which passed through the fevered brain of the Admiral. He had an answer in his mind, and it would make a new sensation for his poor colony at Isabella to hear of him in Spain. Passing the Golden Chersonesus, had he not the alternative of steering homeward by way of Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope, and so astound the Portuguese more than he did when he entered the Tagus? Or, abandoning the Indian Ocean and entering the Red Sea, could he not proceed to its northern extremity, and there, deserting his ships, join a caravan passing through Jerusalem and Jaffa, and so embark again on the Mediterranean and sail into Barcelona, a more wonderful explorer than before?

These were the sublimating thoughts that now buoyed the Admiral, as he looked along the far-stretching coast,-or at least his friend Bernaldez got this impression from his intercourse with Columbus after his return to Spain.

His crew rebel.

If the compliant spirit of his crew had not been exhausted, he would perhaps have gone on, and would have been forced by developments to a revision of his geographical faith. His vessels, unfortunately, were strained in all their seams. Their leaks had spoiled his provisions. Incessant labor had begun to tell upon the health of the crew. They much preferred the chances of a return to Isabella, with all its hazards, than a sight of Jaffa and the Mediterranean, with the untold dangers of getting there.

The Admiral, however, still pursued his course for a few days more to a point, as Humboldt holds, opposite the St. Philip Keys, when, finding the coast trending sharply to the southwest, and his crew becoming clamorous, he determined to go no farther.

1494. June 12. He turns back.

It was now the 12th of June, 1494, and if we had nothing but the Historie to guide us, we should be ignorant of the singular turn which affairs took. Whoever wrote that book had, by the time it was written, become conscious that obliviousness was sometimes necessary to preserve the reputation of the Admiral. The strange document which interests us, however, has not been lost, and we can read it in Navarrete.

Enforces an oath upon his men

It is not difficult to understand the disquietude of Columbus's mind. He had determined to find Cathay as a counterpoise to the troubled conditions at Isabella, both to assuage the gloomy forebodings of the colonists and to reassure the public mind in Spain, which might receive, as he knew, a shock by the reports which Torres's fleet had carried to Europe. He had been forced by a mutinous crew to a determination to turn back, but his discontented companions might be complacent enough to express an opinion, if not complacent enough to run farther hazards. So Columbus committed himself to the last resort of deluded minds, when dealing with geographical or historical problems,-that of seeking to establish the truth by building monuments, placing inscriptions, and certifications under oath. He caused the eighty men who constituted the crew of his little squadron-and we find their name in Duro's Colón y Pinzón-to swear before a notary that it was possible to go from Cuba to Spain by land, across Asia.

that Cuba is a continent.

It was solemnly affirmed by this official that if any should swerve from this belief, the miserable skeptic, if an officer, should be fined 10,000 maravedis; and if a sailor, he should receive a hundred lashes and have his tongue pulled out. Such were the scarcely heroic measures that Columbus thought it necessary to employ if he would dispel any belief that all these islands of the Indies were but an ocean archipelago after all, and that the width of the unknown void between Europe and Asia, which he was so confident he had traversed, was yet undetermined. To make Cuba a continent by affidavit was easy; to make it appear the identical kingdom of the Great Khan, he hoped would follow. During his first voyage, so far as he could make out an intelligible statement from what the natives indicated, he was of the opinion that Cuba was an island. It is to be feared that he had now reached a state of mind in which he did not dare to think it an island.

If we believe the Historie,-or some passages in it, at least,-written, as we know, after the geography of the New World was fairly understood, and if we accept the evidence of the copyist, Herrera, Columbus never really supposed he was in Asia. If this is true, he took marvelous pains to deceive others by appearing to be deceived himself, as this notarial exhibition and his solemn asseveration to the Pope in 1502 show. The writers just cited say that he simply juggled the world by giving the name India to these regions, as better suited to allure emigration. Such testimony, if accepted, establishes the fraudulent character of these notarial proceedings. It is fair to say, however, that he wrote to Peter Martyr, just after the return of the caravels to Isabella, expressing a confident belief in his having come near to the region of the Ganges; and divesting the testimony of all the jugglery with which others have invested it, there seems little doubt that in this belief, at least, Columbus was sincere.

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[From Philoponus's Nova Typis Transacta Navigatio.]

1494. June 13.

1494. June 30.

1494. July 7.

On the next day, Columbus, standing to the southeast, reached a large island, the present Isle of Pines, which he called Evangelista. In endeavoring to skirt it on the south, he was entangled once more in a way that made him abandon the hope of a directer passage to Espa?ola that way, and to resolve to follow the coast back as he had come. He lost ten days in these uncertain efforts, which, with his provisions rapidly diminishing, did not conduce to reassure his crew. On June 30, trying to follow the intricacies of the channels which had perplexed him before, the Admiral's ship got a severe thump on the bottom, which for a while threatened disaster. She was pulled through, however, by main force, and after a while was speeding east in clear water. They had now sailed beyond those marshy reaches of the coast, where they were cut off from intercourse with the shore, and hoped soon to find a harbor, where food and rest might restore the strength of the crew. Their daily allowance had been reduced to a pound of mouldy bread and a swallow or two of wine. It was the 7th of July when they anchored in an acceptable harbor. Here they landed, and interchanged the customary pledges of amity with a cacique who presented himself on the shore. Men having been sent to cut down some trees, a large cross was made, and erected in a grove, and on this spot, with a crowd of natives looking on, the Spaniard celebrated high mass. A venerable Indian, who watched all the ceremonials with close attention, divining their religious nature, made known to the Admiral, through the Lucayan interpreter, something of the sustaining belief of his own people, in words that were impressive. Columbus's confidence in the incapacity of the native mind for such high conceptions as this poor Indian manifested received a grateful shock when the old man, grave in his manner and unconscious in his dignity, pictured the opposite rewards of the good and bad in another world. Then turning to the Admiral, he reminded him that wrong upon the unoffending was no passport to the blessings of the future. The historian who tells us this story, and recounts how it impressed the Admiral, does not say that its warnings troubled him much in the times to come, when the unoffending were grievously wronged. Perhaps there was something of this forgetful spirit in the taking of a young Indian away from his friends, as the chroniclers say he did, in this very harbor.

1494. July 16.

1494. July 18.

On the coast of Jamaica.

On July 16, Columbus left the harbor, and steering off shore to escape the intricate channels of the Queen's Gardens which he was now re-approaching, he soon found searoom, and bore away toward Espa?ola. A gale coming on, the caravels were forced in shore, and discovered an anchorage under Cabo de Cruz. Here they remained for three days, but the wind still blowing from the east, Columbus thought it a good opportunity to complete the circuit of Jamaica. He accordingly stood across towards that island. He was a month in beating to the eastward along its southern coast, for the winds were very capricious. Every night he anchored under the land, and the natives supplied him with provisions. At one place, a cacique presented himself in much feathered finery, accompanied by his wife and relatives, with a retinue bedizened in the native fashion, and doing homage to the Admiral. It was shown how effective the Lucayan's pictures of Spanish glory and prowess had been, when the cacique proposed to put himself and all his train in the Admiral's charge for passage to the great country of the Spanish King. The offer was rather embarrassing to the Admiral, with his provisions running low, and his ships not of the largest. He relieved himself by promising to conform to the wishes of the cacique at a more opportune moment.

1494. August 19.


1494. August 23.

Alto Velo.

By the 19th of August, Columbus had passed the easternmost extremity of Jamaica, and on the next day he was skirting the long peninsula which juts from the southwestern angle of Espa?ola. He was not, however, aware of his position till on the 23d a cacique came off to the caravels, and addressed Columbus by his title, with some words of Castilian interlarded in his speech. It was now made clear that the ships had nearly reached their goal, and nothing was left but to follow the circuit of the island. It was no easy task to do so with a wornout crew and crazy ships. The little fleet was separated in a gale, and when Columbus made the lofty rocky island which is now known as Alto Velo, resembling as it does in outline a tall ship under sail, he ran under its lee, and sent a boat ashore, with orders for the men to scale its heights, to learn if the missing caravels were anywhere to be seen. This endeavor was without result, but it was not long before the fleet was reunited. Further on, the Admiral learned from the natives that some of the Spaniards had been in that part of the island, coming from the other side. Finding thus through the native reports that all was quiet at Isabella, he landed nine men to push across the island and report his coming. Somewhat further to the east, a storm impending, he found a harbor, where the weather forced him to remain for eight days. The Admiral's vessel had succeeded in entering a roadstead, but the others lay outside, buffeting the storm,-naturally a source of constant anxiety to him.

Columbus observes eclipse of the moon.

It was while in this suspense that Columbus took advantage of an eclipse of the moon, to ascertain his longitude. His calculations made him five hours and a half west of Seville,-an hour and a quarter too much, making an error of eighteen degrees. This mistake was quite as likely owing to the rudeness of his method as to the pardonable errors of the lunar tables of Regiomontanus (Venice, 1492), then in use. These tables followed methods which had more or less controlled calculations from the time of Hipparchus.

The error of Columbus is not surprising. Even a century later, when Robert Hues published his treatise on the Molineaux globe (1592), the difficulties were in large part uncontrollable. "The most certain of all for this purpose," says this mathematician, "is confessed by all writers to be by eclipses of the moon. But now these eclipses happen but seldom, but are more seldom seen, yet most seldom and in very few places observed by the skillful artists in this science. So that there are but few longitudes of places designed out by this means. But this is an uncertain and ticklish way, and subject to many difficulties. Others have gone other ways to work, as, namely, by observing the space of the equinoctial hours betwixt the meridians of two places, which they conceive may be taken by the help of sundials, or clocks, or hourglasses, either with water or sand or the like. But all these conceits, long since devised, having been more strictly and accurately examined, have been disallowed and rejected by all learned men-at least those of riper judgments-as being altogether unable to perform that which is required of them. I shall not stand here to discover the errors and uncertainties of these instruments. Away with all such trifling, cheating rascals!"

1494. September 24.

Columbus reaches Isabella.

The weather moderating, Columbus stood out of the channel of Saona on September 24, and meeting the other caravels, which had weathered the storm, he still steered to the east. They reached the farthest end of Espa?ola opposite Porto Rico, and ran out to the island of Mona, in the channel between the two larger islands. Shortly after leaving Mona, Columbus, worn with the anxieties of a five months' voyage, in which his nervous excitement and high hopes had sustained him wonderfully, began to feel the reaction. His near approach to Isabella accelerated this recoil, till his whole system suddenly succumbed. He lay in a stupor, knowing little, remembering nothing, his eyes dim and vitality oozing. Under other command, the little fleet sorrowfully, but gladly, entered the harbor of Isabella.

Our most effective source for the history of this striking cruise is the work of Bernaldez, already referred to.

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