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   Chapter 16 THE THIRD VOYAGE.

Christopher Columbus and How He Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery By Justin Winsor Characters: 82239

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Sources. Columbus's letters and journal.

In following the events of the third voyage, we have to depend mainly on two letters written by Columbus himself. One is addressed to the Spanish monarchs, and is preserved in a copy made by Las Casas. What Peter Martyr tells us seems to have been borrowed from this letter. The other is addressed to the "nurse" of Prince Juan, of which there are copies in the Columbus Custodia at Genoa, and in the Mu?oz collection of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid. They are both printed in Navarrete and elsewhere, and Major in his Select Letters of Columbus gives English versions.

There are also some evidences that the account of this voyage given in the Itinerarium Portugalensium was based on Columbus's journal, which Las Casas is known to have had, and to have used in his Historia, adding thereto some details which he got from a recital by Bernaldo de Ibarra, one of Columbus's companions,-indeed, his secretary. The map which accompanied these accounts by Columbus is lost. We only know its existence through the use of it made by Ojeda and others.

Las Casas interspersed among the details which he recorded from Columbus's journal some particulars which he got from Alonso de Vallejo. One of the pilots, Hernan Perez Matheos, enabled Oviedo to add still something more to the other sources; and then we have additional light from the mouths of various witnesses in the Columbus lawsuit. There is a little at second hand, but of small importance, in a letter of Simon Verde printed by Harrisse.

Columbus's son Diego.

Before setting sail, Columbus prepared some directions for his son Diego, of which we have only recently had notes, such appearing in the bulletin of the Italian Geographical Society for December, 1889. He commands in these injunctions that Diego shall have an affectionate regard for the mother of his half-brother Ferdinand, adds some rules for the guidance of his bearing towards his sovereigns and his fellow-men, and recommends him to resort to Father Gaspar Gorricio whenever he might feel in need of advice.

1498. May 30. Columbus sails.

Rumors of a southern continent.

Columbus lifted anchor in the port of San Lucar de Barrameda on May 30, 1498. He was physically far from being in a good condition for so adventurous an undertaking. He had hoped, he says to his sovereigns, "to find repose in Spain; whereas on the contrary I have experienced nothing but opposition and vexation." His six vessels stood off to the southwest, to avoid a French-some say a Portuguese-fleet which was said to be cruising near Cape St. Vincent. His plan was a definite one, to keep in a southerly course till he reached the equatorial regions, and then to proceed west. By this course, he hoped to strike in that direction the continental mass of which he had intimation both from the reports of the natives in Espa?ola and from the trend which he had found in his last voyage the Cuban coast to have. Herrera tells us that the Portuguese king professed to have some knowledge of a continent in this direction, and we may connect it, if we choose, with the stories respecting Behaim and others, who had already sailed thitherward, as some reports go; but it is hard to comprehend that any belief of that kind was other than a guess at a compensating scheme of geography beyond the Atlantic, to correspond with the balance of Africa against Europe in the eastern hemisphere. It is barely possible, though there is no positive evidence of it, that the reports from England of the Cabot discoveries at the north may have given a hint of like prolongation to the south. But a more impelling instinct was the prevalent one of his time, which accompanied what Michelet calls that terrible malady breaking out in this age of Europe, the hunger and thirst for gold and other precious things, and which associated the possession of them with the warmer regions of the globe.

"To the south," said Peter Martyr. "He who would find riches must avoid the cold north!"

Jayme Ferrer.

Navarrete preserves a letter which was written to Columbus by Jayme Ferrer, a lapidary of distinction. This jeweler confirmed the prevalent notion, and said that in all his intercourse with distant marts, whence Europe derived its gold and jewels, he had learned from their vendors how such objects of commerce usually came in greatest abundance from near the equator, while black races were those that predominated near such sources. Therefore, as Ferrer told Columbus, steer south and find a black race, if you would get at such opulent abundance. The Admiral remembered he had heard in Espa?ola of blacks that had come from the south to that island in the past, and he had taken to Spain some of the metal which had been given to him as of the kind with which their javelins had been pointed. The Spanish assayers had found it a composition of gold, copper, and silver.

Columbus steers southerly.

1498. June 16. At Gomera.

So it was with expectations like these that Columbus now worked his way south. He touched for wood and water at Porto Santo and Madeira, and thence proceeded to Gomera. Here, on June 16, he found a French cruiser with two Spanish prizes, but the three ships eluded his grasp and got to sea. He sent three caravels in pursuit, and the Spanish prisoners rising on the crew of one of the prizes, she was easily captured and brought into port.

Sends three ships direct to Espa?ola.

The Spanish fleet sailed again on June 21. The Admiral had detailed three of his ships to proceed direct to Espa?ola to find the new port on its southern side near the mines of Hayna. Their respective captains were to command the little squadron successively a week at a time. These men were: Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal, a man of good reputation; Pedro de Arona, a brother of Beatrix de Henriquez, who had borne Ferdinand to the Admiral; and Juan Antonio Colombo, a Genoese and distant kinsman of the Admiral.

Columbus at the Cape de Verde Islands.

Parting with these vessels off Ferro, Columbus, with the three others,-one of which, the flagship, being decked, of a hundred tons burthen, and requiring three fathoms of water,-steered for the Cape de Verde Islands. His stay here was not inspiring. A depressing climate of vapor and an arid landscape told upon his health and upon that of his crew. Encountering difficulties in getting fresh provisions and cattle, he sailed again on July 5, standing to the southwest.

1498. July 15.

Calms and torrid heats.

1498. July 31. Trinidad seen.

August 1.

Calms and the currents among the islands baffled him, however, and it was the 7th before the high peak of Del Fuego sank astern. By the 15th of July he had reached the latitude of 5° north. He was now within the verge of the equatorial calms. The air soon burned everything distressingly; the rigging oozed with the running tar; the seams of the vessels opened; provisions grew putrid, and the wine casks shrank and leaked. The fiery ordeal called for all the constancy of the crew, and the Admiral himself needed all the fortitude he could command to bear a brave face amid the twinges of gout which were prostrating him. He changed his course to see if he could not run out of the intolerable heat, and after a tedious interval, with no cessation of the humid and enervating air, the ships gradually drew into a fresher atmosphere. A breeze rippled the water, and the sun shone the more refreshing for its clearness. He now steered due west, hoping to find land before his water and provisions failed. He did not discover land as soon as he expected, and so bore away to the north, thinking to see some of the Carib Islands. On July 31 relief came, none too soon, for their water was nearly exhausted. A mariner, about midday, peering about from the masthead, saw three peaks just rising above the horizon. The cry of land was like a benison. The Salve Regina was intoned in every part of the ship. Columbus now headed the fleet for the land. As the ships went on and the three peaks grew into a triple mountain, he gave the island the name of Trinidad, a reminder in its peak of the Trinity, which he had determined at the start to commemorate by bestowing that appellation on the first land he saw. He coasted the shore of this island for some distance before he could find a harbor to careen his ships and replenish his water casks. On August 1 he anchored to get water, and was surprised at the fresh luxuriance of the country. He could see habitations in the interior, but nowhere along the shore were any signs of occupation. His men, while filling the casks, discovered footprints and other traces of human life, but those who made them kept out of sight.

First sees the South American coast.

He was now on the southern side of the island, and in that channel which separates Trinidad from the low country about the mouths of the Orinoco. Before long he could see the opposite coast stretching away for twenty leagues, but he did not suspect it to be other than an island, which he named La Isla Santa.

It was indeed strange but not surprising that Columbus found an island of a new continent, and supposed it the mainland of the Old World, as happened during his earlier voyages; and equally striking it was that now when he had actually seen the mainland of a new world he did not know it.

1498. August 2.

By the 2d of August the Admiral had approached that narrow channel where the southwest corner of Trinidad comes nearest to the mainland, and here he anchored. A large canoe, containing five and twenty Indians, put off towards his ships, but finally its occupants lay upon their paddles a bowshot away. Columbus describes them as comely in shape, naked but for breech-cloths, and wearing variegated scarfs about their heads. They were lighter in skin than any Indians he had seen before. This fact was not very promising in view of the belief that precious products would be found in a country inhabited by blacks. The men had bucklers, too, a defense he had never seen before among these new tribes. He tried to lure them on board by showing trinkets, and by improvising some music and dances among his crew. The last expedient was evidently looked upon as a challenge, and was met by a flight of arrows. Two crossbows were discharged in return, and the canoe fled. The natives seemed to have less fear of the smaller caravels, and approached near enough for the captain of one of them to throw some presents to them, a cap, and a mantle, and the like; but when the Indians saw that a boat was sent to the Admiral's ship, they again fled.

While here at anchor, the crew were permitted to go ashore and refresh themselves. They found much delight in the cool air of the morning and evening, coming after their experiences of the torrid suffocation of the calm latitudes. Nature had appeared to them never so fresh.

The Gulf Stream.

Boca del Sierpe.

Gulf of Paria.

Boca del Drago.

Columbus grew uneasy in his insecure anchorage, for he had discovered as yet no roadstead. He saw the current flowing by with a strength that alarmed him. The waters seemed to tumble in commotion as they were jammed together in the narrow pass before him. It was his first experience of that African current which, setting across the ocean, plunges hereabouts into the Caribbean Sea, and, sweeping around the great gulf, passes north in what we know as the Gulf Stream. Columbus was as yet ignorant, too, of the great masses of water which the many mouths of the Orinoco discharge along this shore; and when at night a great roaring billow of water came across the channel,-very likely an unusual volume of the river water poured out of a sudden,-and he found his own ship lifting at her anchor and one of his caravels snapping her cable, he felt himself in the face of new dangers, and of forces of nature to which he was not accustomed. To a seaman's senses not used to such phenomena, the situation of the ships was alarming. Before him was the surging flow of the current through the narrow pass, which he had already named the Mouth of the Serpent (Boca del Sierpe). To attempt its passage was almost foolhardy. To return along the coast stemming such a current seemed nearly impossible. He then sent his boats to examine the pass, and they found more water than was supposed, and on the assurances of the pilot, and the wind favoring, he headed his ships for the boiling eddies, passed safely through, and soon reached the placid water beyond. The shore of Trinidad stretched northerly, and he turned to follow it, but somebody getting a taste of the water found it to be fresh. Here was a new surprise. He had not yet comprehended that he was within a land-locked gulf, where the rush of the Orinoco sweetens the tide throughout. As he approached the northwestern limit of Trinidad, he found that a lofty cape jutted out opposite a similar headland to the west, and that between them lay a second surging channel, beset with rocks and seeming to be more dangerous than the last. So he gave it a more ferocious name, the Mouth of the Dragon (Boca del Drago). To follow the opposite coast presented an alternative that did not require so much risk, and, still ignorant of the way in which his fleet was embayed in this marvelous water, he ran across on Sunday, August 5, to the opposite shore. He now coasted it to find a better opening to the north, for he had supposed this slender peninsula to be another island. The water grew fresher as he went on. The shore attracted him, with its harbors and salubrious, restful air, but he was anxious to get into the open sea. He saw no inhabitants. The liveliest creatures which he observed were the chattering monkeys. At length, the country becoming more level, he ran into the mouth of a river and cast anchor. It was perhaps here that the Spaniards first set foot on the continent. The accounts are somewhat confused, and need some license in reconciling them. They had, possibly, landed earlier.



A canoe with three natives now came out to the caravel nearest shore. The Spanish captain secured the men by a clever trick. After a parley, he gave them to understand he would go on shore in their boat, and jumping violently on its gunwale, he overturned it. The occupants were easily captured in the water. Being taken on board the flagship, the inevitable hawks' bells captivated them, and they were set on shore to delight their fellows. Other parleys and interchanges of gifts followed. Columbus now ascertained, as well as he could by signs, that the word "Paria," which he heard, was the name of the country. The Indians pointed westerly, and indicated that men were much more numerous that way. The Spaniards were struck with the tall stature of the men, and noted the absence of braids in their hair. It was curious to see them smell of everything that was new to them,-a piece of brass, for instance. It seemed to be their sense of inquiry and recognition. It is not certain if Columbus participated in this intercourse on shore. He was suffering from a severe eruption of the eyes, and one of the witnesses said that the formal taking possession of the country was done by deputy on that account. This statement is contradicted by others.

The natives.

As he went on, the country became even more attractive, with its limpid streams, its open and luxuriant woods, its clambering vines, all enlivened with the flitting of brilliant birds. So he called the place The Gardens. The natives appeared to him to partake of the excellence of the country. They were, as he thought, manlier in bearing, shapelier in frame, with greater intelligence in their eyes, than any he had earlier discovered. Their arts were evidently superior to anything he had yet seen. Their canoes were handier, lighter, and had covered pavilions in the waist. There were strings of pearls upon the women which raised in the Spaniards an increased sense of cupidity. The men found oysters clinging to the boughs that drooped along the shore. Columbus recalled how he had read in Pliny of the habit of the pearl oyster to open the mouth to catch the dew, which was converted within into pearls. The people were as hospitable as they were gracious, and gave the strangers feasts as they passed from cabin to cabin. They pointed beyond the hills, and signified that another coast lay there, where a greater store of pearls could be found.

1498. August 10.

To leave this paradise was necessary, and on August 10 the ships went further on, soon to find the water growing still fresher and more shallow. At last, thinking it dangerous to push his flagship into such shoals, Columbus sent his lightest caravel ahead, and waited her coming back. On the next day she returned, and reported that there was an inner bay beyond the islands which were seen, into which large volumes of fresh water poured, as if a huge continent were drained. Here were conditions for examination under more favorable circumstances, and on August 11 Columbus turned his prow toward the Dragon's Mouth. His stewards declared the provisions growing bad, and even the large stores intended for the colony were beginning to spoil. It was necessary to reach his destination. Columbus's own health was sinking. His gout had little cessation. His eyes had almost closed with a weariness that he had before experienced on the Cuban cruise, and he could but think of the way in which he had been taken prostrate into Isabella on returning from that expedition.

Passes the Boca del Drago.

Tobago and Grenada.

Cubagua and Margarita.

Near the Dragon's Mouth he found a harbor in which to prepare for the passage of the tumultuous strait. There seemed no escape from the trial. The passage lay before him, wide enough in itself, but two islands parted its currents and forced the boiling waters into narrower confines. Columbus studied their motion, and finally made up his mind that the turmoil of the waters might after all come from the meeting of the tide and the fresh currents seeking the open sea, and not from rocks or shoals. At all events, the passage must be made. The wind veering round to the right quarter, he set sail and entered the boisterous currents. As long as the wind lasted there was a good chance of keeping his steering way. Unfortunately, the wind died away, and so he trusted to luck and the sweeping currents. They carried him safely beyond. Once without, he was brought within sight of two islands to the northeast. They were apparently those we to-day call Tobago and Grenada. It was now the 15th of August, and Columbus turned westward to track the coast. He came to the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, and surprised some native canoes fishing for pearls.


His crews soon got into parley with the natives, and breaking up some Valentia ware into bits, the Spaniards bartered them so successfully that they secured three pounds, as Columbus tells us, of the coveted jewels. He had satisfied himself that here was a new field for the wealth which could alone restore his credit in Spain; but he could not tarry. As he wore ship, he left behind a mountainous reach of the coast that stretched westerly, and he would fain think that India lay that way, as it had from Cuba. At that island and here, he had touched, as he thought, the confines of Asia, two protuberant peninsulas, or perhaps masses of the continent, separated by a strait, which possibly lay ahead of him.

Columbus's geographical delusions.

There was much that had been novel in all these experiences. Columbus felt that the New World was throwing wider open the gates of its sublime secrets. Lying on his couch, almost helpless from the cruel agonies of the gout, and sightless from the malady of his eyes, the active mind of the Admiral worked at the old problems anew. We know it all from the letter which a few weeks later he drafted for the perusal of his sovereigns, and from his reports to Peter Martyr, which that chronicler has preserved for us. We know from this letter that his thoughts were still dwelling on the Mount Sopora of Solomon, "which mountain your Highnesses now possess in the island of Espa?ola,"-a convenient stepping-stone to other credulous fancies, as we shall see. The sweetness and volume of the water which had met him in the Gulf of Paria were significant to him of a great watershed behind. He reverted to the statement in Esdras of the vast preponderance on the globe of land, six parts to one of water, and thought he saw a confirmation of it in the immense flow that argued a corresponding expansion of land. He recalled all that he recollected of Aristotle and the other sages. He went back to his experiences in mid-ocean, when he was startled at the coincidence of the needle and the pole star. He remembered how he had found all the conditions of temperature and the other physical aspects to be changed as he passed that line, and it seemed as if he was sweeping into regions more ethereal. He had found the same difference when he passed, a few weeks before, out of the baleful heats of the tropical calms. He grew to think that this line of no variation of magnetism with corresponding marvels of nature marked but the beginning of a new section of the earth that no one had dreamed of. St. Augustine, St. Basil, and St. Ambrose had placed the Garden of Eden far in the Old World's east, apart from the common vicinage of men, high up above the baser parts of the earth, in a region bathed in the purest ether, and so high that the deluge had not reached it. All the stories of the Middle Ages, absorbed in the speculative philosophy of his own time, had pointed to the distant east as the seat of Paradise, and was he not now coming to it by the western passage? If the scant riches of the soil could not restore the enthusiasm which his earlier discoveries aroused in the dull spirits of Europe, would not a glimpse of the ecstatic pleasures of Eden open their eyes anew? He had endeavored to make his contemporaries feel that the earth was round, and he had proved it, as he thought, by almost touching, in a westward passage, the Golden Chersonesus. It is significant that the later Historie of 1571 omits this vagary of Paradise. The world had moved, and geographical discovery had made some records in the interim, awkward for the biographer of Columbus.


Paradise found.

There was a newer belief linked with this hope of Paradise. All this wondrous life and salubrity which Columbus saw and felt, if it had not been able to restore his health, could only come from his progress up a swelling apex of the earth, which buttressed the Garden of Eden. It was clear to his mind that instead of being round the earth was pear-shaped, and that this great eminence, up which he had been going, was constantly lifting him into purer air. The great fountain which watered the spacious garden of the early race had discharged its currents down these ethereal slopes, and sweetened all this gulf that had held him so close within its embaying girth. If such were the wonders of these outposts of the celestial life, what must be the products to be seen as one journeyed up, along the courses of such celestial streams? As he steered for Espa?ola, he found the currents still helped him, or he imagined they did. Was it not that he was slipping easily down this wonderful declivity?

Columbus and Vespucius.

That he had again discovered the mainland he was convinced by such speculations. He had no conception of the physical truth. The vagaries of his time found in him the creature of their most rampant hallucinations. This aberration was a potent cause in depriving him of the chance to place his own name on this goal of his ambition. It accounts much for the greater impression which Americus Vespucius, with his clearer instincts, was soon to make on the expectant and learned world. The voyage of that Florentine merchant, one of those trespassers that Columbus complained of, was, before the Admiral should see Spain again, to instigate the publication of a narrative, which took from its true discoverer the rightful baptism of the world he had unwittingly found. The wild imaginings of Columbus, gathered from every resource of the superstitious past, moulded by him into beliefs that appealed but little to the soberer intelligence of his time, made known in tumultuous writings, and presently to be expressed with every symptom of mental wandering in more elaborate treatises, offered to his time an obvious contrast to the steadier head of Vespucius. The latter's far more graphic description gained for him, as we shall see, the position of a recognized authority. While Columbus was puzzling over the aberration of the pole star and misshaping the earth, Vespucius was comprehending the law of gravitation upon our floating sphere, and ultimately representing it in the diagram which illustrated his narrative. We shall need to return on a later page to these causes which led to the naming of America.

* * *

1498. August 19. Columbus sees Espa?ola.

His observations of nature.

Meets the Adelantado.

For four days Columbus had sailed away to the northwest, coming to the wind every night as a precaution, before he sighted Espa?ola on August 19, being then, as he made out, about fifty leagues west of the spot where he supposed the port had been established for the mines of Hayna. He thought that he had been steering nearer that point, but the currents had probably carried him unconsciously west by night, as they were at that moment doing with the relief ships that he had parted with off Ferro. As Columbus speculated on this steady flow of waters with that keenness of observation upon natural phenomena which attracted the admiration of Humboldt, and which is really striking, if we separate it from his turbulent fancies, he accounted by its attrition for the predominating shape of the islands which he had seen, which had their greatest length in the direction of the current. He knew that its force would, perhaps, long delay him in his efforts to work eastward, and so he opened communication with the shore in hopes to find a messenger by whom to dispatch a letter to the Adelantado. This was easily done, and the letter reached its destination, whereupon Bartholomew started out in a caravel to meet the little fleet. It was with some misgiving that Columbus resumed his course, for he had seen a crossbow in the hands of a native. It was not an article of commerce, and it might signify another disaster like that of La Navidad. He was accordingly relieved when he shortly afterwards saw a Spanish caravel approaching, and, hailing the vessel, found that the Adelantado had come to greet him.

There was much interchange of news and thought to occupy the two in their first conference; and Columbus's anxiety to know the condition of the colony elicited a wearisome story, little calculated to make any better record in Spain than the reports of his own rule in the island.

Events in Espa?ola during the absence of Columbus.

Santo Domingo founded.

Columbus and slavery.

The chief points of it were these: Bartholomew had early carried out the Admiral's behests to occupy the Hayna country. He had built there a fortress which he had named St. Cristoval, but the workmen, finding particles of gold in the stones and sands which they used, had nicknamed it the Golden Tower. While this was doing, there was difficulty in supporting the workmen. Provisions were scarce, and the Indians were not inclined to part with what they had. The Adelantado could go to the Vega and exact the quarterly tribute under compulsion; but that hardly sufficed to keep famine from the door at St. Cristoval. Nothing had as yet been done to plant the ground near the fort, nor had herds been moved there. The settlement of Isabella was too far away for support. Meanwhile Ni?o had arrived with his caravels, but he had not brought all the expected help, for the passage had spoiled much of the lading. It was by Ni?o that Bartholomew received that dispatch from his brother which he had written in the harbor of Cadiz when, on his arrival from his second voyage, he had discerned the condition of public opinion. It was at this time, too, that he repeated to Bartholomew the decision of the theologians, that to be taken in war, or to be guilty of slaying any of their Majesties' liege subjects, was quite enough to render the Indians fit subjects for the slave-block. The Admiral's directions, therefore, were to be sure that this test kept up the supply of slaves; and as there was nobody to dispute the judgment of his deputy, Ni?o had taken back to Spain those three hundred, which were, as we have seen, so readily converted into reputed gold on his arrival.

Santo Domingo named.

Bartholomew had selected the site for a new town near the mouth of the Ozema, convenient for the shipment of the Hayna treasure, and, naming it at first the New Isabella, it soon received the more permanent appellation of Santo Domingo, which it still bears.

Xaragua conquered.

Behechio and Anacaona.

Bartholomew had a pleasing story to tell of the way in which he had brought Behechio and his province of Xaragua into subjection. This territory was the region westward from about the point where Columbus had touched the island a few days before. Anacaona, the wife of Caonabo,-now indeed his widow,-had taken refuge with Behechio, her brother, after the fall of her husband. She is represented as a woman of fine appearance, and more delicate and susceptible in her thoughts than was usual among her people; and perhaps Bartholomew told his brother what has since been surmised by Spanish writers, that she had managed to get word to him of her friendly sentiments for celestial visitors. Bartholomew found, as he was marching thither with such forces as he could spare for the expedition, that the cacique who met him in battle array was easily disposed, for some reason or other, perhaps through Anacaona's influence, to dismiss his armed warriors, and to escort his visitor through his country with great parade of hospitality. When they reached the cacique's chief town, a sort of fête was prepared in the Adelantado's honor, and a mock battle, not without sacrifice of life, was fought for his delectation. Peter Martyr tells us that when the comely young Indian maidens advanced with their palm branches and saluted the Adelantado, it seemed as if the beautiful dryads of the olden tales had slipped out of the vernal woods. Then Anacaona appeared on a litter, with no apparel but garlands, the most beautiful dryad of them all. Everybody feasted, and Bartholomew, to ingratiate himself with his host, eat and praised their rarest delicacy, the guana lizard, which had been offered to them many times before, but which they never as yet had tasted. It became after this a fashion with the Spaniards to dote on lizard flesh. Everything within the next two or three days served to cement this new friendship, when the Adelantado put it to a test, as indeed had been his purpose from the beginning. He told the cacique of the great power of his master and of the Spanish sovereigns; of their gracious regard for all their distant subjects, and of the poor recompense of a tribute which was expected for their protection. "Gold!" exclaimed the cacique, "we have no gold here." "Oh, whatever you have, cotton, hemp, cassava bread,-anything will be acceptable." So the details were arranged. The cacique was gratified at being let off so easy, and the Spaniards went their way.

Native conspiracy.

This and the subsequent visit of Bartholomew to Xaragua to receive the tribute were about the only cheery incidents in the dreary retrospect to which the Admiral listened. The rest was trouble and despair. A line of military posts had been built connecting the two Spanish settlements, and the manning of them, with their dependent villages, enabled the Adelantado to scatter a part of the too numerous colony at Isabella, so that it might be relieved of so many mouths to feed. This done, there was a conspiracy of the natives to be crushed. Two of the priests had made some converts in the Vega, and had built a chapel for the use of the neophytes. One of the Spaniards had outraged a wife of the cacique. Either for this cause, or for the audacious propagandism of the priests, some natives broke into the Spanish chapel, destroyed its shrine, and buried some of its holy vessels in a field. Plants grew up there in the form of a cross, say the veracious narrators. This, nevertheless, did not satisfy the Spaniards. They seized such Indians as they considered to have been engaged in the desecration, and gave them the fire and fagots, as they would have done to Moor or Jew. The horrible punishment aroused the cacique Guarionex with a new fury. He leagued the neighboring caciques into a conspiracy. Their combined forces were threatening Fort Conception when the Adelantado arrived with succor. By an adroit movement, Bartholomew ensnared by night every one of the leaders in their villages, and executed two of them. The others he ostentatiously pardoned, and he could tell Columbus of the great renown he got for his clemency.

Roldan's revolt.

There was nothing in all the bad tidings which Bartholomew had to rehearse quite so disheartening as the revolt of Roldan, the chief judge of the island,-a man who had been lifted from obscurity to a position of such importance that Columbus had placed the administration of justice in his hands. The reports of the unpopularity of Columbus in Spain, and the growing antipathy in Isabella to the rule of Bartholomew as a foreigner, had served to consolidate the growing number of the discontented, and Roldan saw the opportunity of easily raising himself in the popular estimate by organizing the latent spirit of rebellion. It was even planned to assassinate the Adelantado, under cover of a tumult, which was to be raised at an execution ordered by him; but as the Adelantado had pardoned the offender, the occasion slipped by. Bartholomew's absence in Xaragua gave another opportunity. He had sent back from that country a caravel loaded with cotton, as a tribute, and Diego, then in command at Isabella, after unlading the vessel, drew her up on the beach. The story was busily circulated that this act was done simply to prevent any one seizing the ship and carrying to Spain intelligence of the misery to which the rule of the Columbuses was subjecting the people. The populace made an issue on that act, and asked that the vessel be sent to Cadiz for supplies. Diego objected, and to divert the minds of the rebellious, as well as to remove Roldan from their counsels, he sent him with a force into the Vega, to overawe some caciques who had been dilatory in their tribute. This mission, however, only helped Roldan to consolidate his faction, and gave him the chance to encourage the caciques to join resistance.

The mutineers in the Vega Real.

At Isabella.

Roldan had seventy well-armed men in his party when he returned to Isabella to confront Bartholomew, who had by this time got back from Xaragua. The Adelantado was not so easily frightened as Roldan had hoped, and finding it not safe to risk an open revolt, this mutinous leader withdrew to the Vega with the expectation of surprising Fort Conception. That post, however, as well as an outlying fortified house, was under loyal command, and Roldan was for a while thwarted. Bartholomew was not at all sure of any of the principal Spaniards, but how far the disaffection had gone he was unable to determine. Although he knew that certain leading men were friendly to Roldan, he was not prepared to be passive. His safety depended on resolution, and so he marched at once to the Vega. Roldan was in the neighborhood, and was invited to a parley. It led to nothing. The mutineers, making up their minds to fly to the delightful pleasures of Xaragua, suddenly marched back to Isabella, plundered the arsenal and storehouses, and tried to launch the caravel. The vessel was too firmly imbedded to move, and Roldan was forced to undertake the journey to Xaragua by land. To leave the Adelantado behind was a sure way to bring an enemy in his rear, and he accordingly thought it safer to reduce the garrison at Conception, and perhaps capture the Adelantado.

Coronel arrives.

This movement failed; but it resulted in Roldan's ingratiating himself with the tributary caciques, and intercepting the garrison's supplies. It was at this juncture, when everything looked desperate for Bartholomew, shut up in the Vega fort, that news reached him of the arrival (February 3, 1498) at the new port of Santo Domingo of the advance section of the Admiral's fleet, sent thither, as we have seen, by the Queen's assiduity, under the command of Pedro Fernandez Coronel.

Bartholomew could tell the Admiral of the good effect which the intelligence received through Coronel had on the colony. His own title of Adelantado, it was learned, was legitimated by the act of the sovereigns; and Columbus himself had been powerful enough to secure confirmation of his old honors, and to obtain new pledges for the future. The mutineers soon saw that the aspects of their revolt were changed. They could not, it would seem, place that dependence on the unpopularity of the Admiral at Court which had been a good part of their encouragement.

Bartholomew's new honors.

Proceeding to Santo Domingo, Bartholomew proclaimed his new honors, and, anxious to pacificate the island before the arrival of Columbus, he dispatched Coronel to communicate with Roldan, who had sulkily followed the Adelantado in his march from the Vega. Roldan refused all intercourse, and, shielding himself behind a pass in the mountains, he warned off the pacificator. He would yield to no one but the Admiral.

The rebels go to Xaragua.

There was nothing for the Adelantado to do but to outlaw the rebels, who, in turn, sped away to what Irving calls the "soft witcheries" of the Xaragua dryads. The archrebel was thus well out of the way for a time; but his influence still worked among the Indians of the Vega, and Bartholomew had not long left Conception before the garrison was made aware of a native conspiracy to surprise it.

Guarionex's revolt.

Word was sent to Santo Domingo, and the Adelantado was promptly on the march for relief. Guarionex, who had headed the revolt again, fled to the mountains of Ciguay, where a mountain cacique, Mayobanex, the same who had conducted the attack on the Spaniards at the Gulf of Samana during the first voyage, received the fugitive chief of the valley.

It was into these mountain fastnesses that the Adelantado now pursued the fugitives, with a force of ninety foot, a few horse, and some auxiliary Indians. He boldly thridded the defiles, and crossed the streams, under the showers of lances and arrows. As the native hordes fled before him, he fired their villages in the hope of forcing the Ciguayans to surrender their guest; but the mountain leaders could not be prevailed upon to wrong the rights of hospitality. When no longer able to resist in arms, Mayobanex and Guarionex fled to the hills.

The Adelantado now sent all of his men back to the Vega to look after the crops, except about thirty, and with these he scoured the region. He would not have had success by mere persistency, but he got it by artifice and treachery. Both Mayobanex and Guarionex were betrayed in their hiding-places and captured. Clemency was shown to their families and adherents, and they were released; but both caciques remained in their bonds as hostages for the maintenance of the quiet which was now at last in some measure secured.

1498. August 30. Columbus arrives.

Such was the condition of affairs when Columbus arrived and heard the story of these two troubled years and more during which he had been absent.

* * *

It was the 30th of August when Columbus and his brother landed at Santo Domingo. There had not been much to encourage the Admiral in this story of the antecedent events. No portrayal of riot, dissolution, rapine, intrigue, and idleness could surpass what he saw and heard of the bedraggled and impoverished settlement at Isabella. The stores which he had brought would be helpful in restoring confidence and health; but it was a source of anxiety to him that nothing had been heard of the three caravels from which he had parted off Ferro.

Roldan and the belated ships.

These vessels appeared not long afterwards, bringing a new perplexity. Forced by currents which their crews did not understand, they had been carried westerly, and had wandered about in the unknown seas in search of Espa?ola. A few days before reaching Sa

nto Domingo, the ships had anchored off the territory of Behechio, where Roldan and his followers already were. The mutineers observed the approach of the caravels, not quite sure of their character, thinking possibly that they had been dispatched against their band; but Roldan boldly went on board, and, ascertaining their condition, he had the address to represent that he was stationed in that region to collect the tribute, and was in need of stores, arms, and munitions. The commander of the vessel at once sent on shore what he demanded; and while this was going on, Roldan's men ingratiated themselves with the company on board the caravels, and readily enlisted a part of them in the revolt. The new-comers, being some of the emancipated convicts which Columbus had so unwisely registered among his crews, were not difficult to entice to a life of pleasure. By the time Roldan had secured his supplies and was ready to announce his true character, it was not certain how far the captains of the vessels could trust their crews. The chief of these commanders undertook, when the worst was known, to bring the revolters back to their loyalty; but he argued in vain. The wind being easterly, and to work up against it to Santo Domingo being a slow process, it was decided that one of the captains, Colombo, should conduct about forty armed men by land to the new town. When he landed them, the insidious work of the mutineers became apparent. Only eight of his party stood to his command, and over forty marched over to the rebels, each with his arms. The overland march was necessarily given up, and the three caravels, to prevent further desertions, hoisted sail and departed. Carvajal remained behind to urge Roldan to duty; but the most he could do was to exact a promise that he would submit to the Admiral if pardoned, but not to the Adelantado.

1498. September 12.

The report which Carvajal made to Columbus, when shortly afterwards he joined his companions in Santo Domingo, coming by land, was not very assuring. Columbus was too conscious of the prevalence of discontent, and he had been made painfully aware of the uncertainty of convict loyalty. He then made up his mind that all such men were a menace, and that they were best got rid of. Accordingly he announced that five ships were ready to sail for Spain and would take any who should desire to go, and that the passage would be free.

Roldan and Ballester.

1498. October 18. The ships sail for Spain.

Learning from Carvajal that Roldan was likely soon to lead his men near Fort Conception, Columbus notified Miguel Ballester, its commander, to be on his guard. He also directed him to seek an interview with the rebel leader, in order to lure him back to duty by offer of pardon from the Admiral. As soon as Ballester heard of Roldan's arrival in the neighborhood, he went out to meet him. Roldan, however, was in no mood to succumb. His force had grown, and some of the leading Spaniards had been drawn towards him. So he defied the Admiral in his speeches, and sent him word that if he had any further communications to make to him they should be sent by Carvajal, for he would treat with no other. Columbus, on receiving this message, and not knowing how far the conspiracy had extended among those about him, ordered out the military force of the settlement. There were not more than seventy men to respond; nor did he feel much confidence in half of these. There being little chance of any turn of affairs for the better with which he could regale the sovereigns, Columbus ordered the waiting ships to sail, and on October 18 they put to sea.

Columbus and slavery.

The ships carried two letters which Columbus had written to the monarchs. In the one he spoke of his new discoveries, and of the views which had developed in his mind from the new phenomena, as has already been represented, and promised that the Adelantado should soon be dispatched with three caravels to make further explorations. In the other he repeated the story of events since he had landed at Santo Domingo. He urged that Roldan might be recalled to Spain for examination, or that he might be committed to the custody of Carvajal and Ballester to determine the foundation of his grievances. At the same time he requested that a further license be given, to last two years, for the capture and transmission of slaves. It was not unlikely that the case of Roldan and his abettors was represented with equal confidence in other letters, for there were many hands among the passengers to which they could be confided.

Columbus seeks to quiet the colony.

1498. October 20.

The ships gone, the Admiral gave himself to the difficult task of pacificating the colony. The vigorous rule of the Adelantado had made enemies who were to be propitiated, though Las Casas tells us that the rule had been strict no farther than that it had been necessarily imperative in emergencies. Columbus wrote on October 20 an expostulatory letter to Roldan. To send it by Carvajal, as was necessary, if Roldan was to receive it, would be to intrust negotiations to a person who was already committed in some sort to the rebel's plan, or at least some of the Admiral's leading councilors believed such to be the case, apparently too hastily. Columbus did not share that distrust, and Carvajal was sent. This letter crossed one from the leading rebels, in which they demanded from Columbus release from his service, and expressed their determination to maintain independence.

Conferences with Roldan.

1498. November 6. Roldan's terms.

When Carvajal reached Bonao, where the rebels were gathered,-and Ballester had accompanied him,-their joint persuasions had some effect on Roldan and others, principal rebels; but the followers, as a mass, objected to the leaders entering into any conference except under a written guaranty of safety for them and those that should accompany them. This message was accordingly returned to Columbus, and Ballester at the same time wrote to him that the revolt was fast making head; that the garrisons were disaffected, and losing by desertion; and that the common people could not be trusted to stand by the Admiral if it came to war. He advised, therefore, a speedy reconciliation or agreement of some sort. The guaranty was sent, and Roldan soon presented himself to the Admiral. The demands of the rebel and the prerogatives of the Admiral were, it proved, too widely apart for any accommodation. So Roldan, having possessed himself of the state of feeling in Santo Domingo, returned to his followers, promising to submit definite terms in writing. These were sent under date of November 6, 1498, with a demand for an answer before the 11th. The terms were inadmissible. To disarm charges of exaction, Columbus made public proclamation of a readiness to grant pardon to all who should return to allegiance within thirty days, and to such he would give free transportation to Spain. Carvajal carried this paper to Roldan, and was accompanied by Columbus's major-domo, Diego de Salamanca, in the hopes that the two might yet arrange some terms, mutually acceptable.


Columbus agrees to them.

The messenger found Roldan advanced from Bonao, and besieging Ballester in Conception. The revolt had gone too far, apparently, to be stayed, but the persuasion of the mediators at last prevailed, and terms were arranged. These provided full pardon and certificates of good conduct; free passage from Xaragua, to which point two caravels should be sent; the full complement of slaves which other returning colonists had; liberty for such as had them to take their native wives, and restoration of sequestered property. Roldan and his companions signed this agreement on November 16, and agreed to wait eight days for the signature of the Admiral. Columbus signed it on the 21st, and further granted indulgences of one kind or another to such as chose to remain in Espa?ola.

Delays in carrying out the agreement.

New agreement.

Signed September 28, 1499.

Under the agreement, the ships were to be ready in fifty days, but Columbus, in the disorganized state of the colony, found it impossible to avoid delays, and his self-congratulations that he had got rid of the turbulent horde were far from warranted. While under this impression, and absent with the Adelantado, inspecting the posts throughout the island, and deciding how best he could restore the regularities of life and business, the arrangements which he had made for carrying out the agreement with Roldan had sorely miscarried. Nearly double the time assigned to the preparation of the caravels had elapsed, when the vessels at last left Santo Domingo for Xaragua. A storm disabling one of them, there were still further delays; and when all were ready, the procrastination in their outfit offered new grounds for dispute, and it was found necessary to revise the agreement. Carvajal was still the mediator. Roldan met the Admiral on a caravel, which had sailed toward Xaragua. The terms which Roldan now proposed were that he should be permitted to send some of his friends, fifteen in number, if he desired so many, to Spain; that those who remained should have grants of land; that proclamation should be made of the baseless character of the charges against him and his accomplices; and that he himself should be restored to his office of Alcalde Mayor. Columbus, who had received a letter from Fonseca in the meanwhile, showing that there was little chance of relief from Spain, saw the hopelessness of his situation, and sufficiently humbled himself to accept the terms. When they were submitted to the body of the mutineers, this assembly added another clause giving them the right to enforce the agreement by compulsion in case the Admiral failed to carry it out. This, also, was agreed to in despair; while the Admiral endeavored to relieve the mortification of the act by inserting a clause enforcing obedience to the commands of the sovereigns, of himself, and of his regularly appointed justices. This agreement was ratified at Santo Domingo, September 28, 1499.

Roldan reinstated.


Columbus and slavery.

It was not a pleasant task for Columbus to brook the presence of Roldan and his victorious faction in Santo Domingo. The reinstated alcalde had no occasion to be very complaisant after he had seen the Admiral cringe before him. Columbus endeavored, in making the grants of lands, to separate the restored rebels as much as he could, in order to avoid the risks of other mutinous combinations. He agreed with the caciques that they should be relieved from the ordinary tribute of treasure if they would furnish these new grantees with laborers for their farms. Thus at the hands of Columbus arose the beginning of that system of repartimientos, with all its miseries for the poor natives, which ended in their extermination. The apologists of Columbus consider that the exigencies of his situation forced him into these fiendish enactments, and that he is not to be held responsible for them as of his free will. They forget the expressions of his first letter to Santangel, which prefigured all the misery which fell upon myriads of these poor creatures. The record, unfortunately, shows that it was Columbus who invariably led opinion in all these oppressions, and not he who followed it. His artfulness never sprang to a new device so exultingly as when it was a method of increasing the revenue at the cost of the natives. When we read, in the letter written to his sovereigns during this absence, of his always impressing on the natives, in his intercourse with them, "the courtesy and nobleness of all Christians," we shudder at the hollowness of the profession.

Roldan's demands.

The personal demands of Roldan under the capitulation were also to be met. They included restoration of lands which he called his own, new lands to be granted, the stocking of them from the public herds; and Columbus met them, at least, until the grants should be confirmed at Court. This was not all. Roldan visited Bonao, and made one of his late lieutenants an assistant alcalde,-an assumption of the power of appointment at which Columbus was offended, as some tell us; but if the Historie is to be depended on, the appointment invited no unfavorable comment from Columbus. When it was found that this new officer was building a structure ostensibly for farm purposes, but of a character more like a fortress, suitable for some new mutiny to rally in, Columbus at last rose on his dignity and forbade it.

1499. October. Caravels sent to Spain.

Columbus sends Ballester to support his cause in Spain.

In October, 1499, the Admiral dispatched two caravels to Spain. It did not seem safe for him to embark in them, though he felt his presence was needed at Court to counteract the mischief of his enemies and Roldan's friends. Some of the latter went in the ships. The most he could do was to trust his cause to Miguel Ballester and Garcia de Barrantes, who embarked as his representatives. They bore his letters to the monarchs. In these he enumerated the compulsions under which he had signed the capitulation with Roldan, and begged their Majesties to treat it as given under coercion, and to bring the rebels to trial. He then mentioned what other assistants he needed in governing the colony, such as a learned judge and some discreet councilors. He ended with asking that his son, Diego, might be spared from Court to assist him.

* * *

Royal infringements of Columbus's privileges.

1499. Ojeda's voyage.

While Columbus was making these requests, he was ignorant of the way in which the Spanish Court had already made serious trespasses upon his prerogatives as Admiral of the Indies. He had said in his letter to the sovereigns, "Your Majesties will determine on what is to be done," in consequence of these new discoveries at Paria. He was soon to become painfully conscious of what was done. The real hero of Columbus's second voyage, Alonso de Ojeda, comes again on the scene. He was in Spain when the accounts which Columbus had transmitted to Court of his discoveries about the Gulf of Paria reached Seville. Such glowing descriptions fired his ambition, and learning from Columbus's other letters and from the reports by those who had returned of the critical condition of affairs in Espa?ola, he anticipated the truth when he supposed that the Admiral could not so smother the disquiet of his colony as to venture to leave it for further explorations. He saw, too, the maps which Columbus had sent back and the pearls which he had gathered. He acknowledged all this in a deposition taken at Santo Domingo in 1513. So he proposed to Fonseca that he might be allowed to undertake a private voyage, and profit, for himself and for the Crown, by the resources of the country, inasmuch as it must be a long time before Columbus himself could do so. Fonseca readily commended the plan and gave him a license, stipulating that he should avoid any Portuguese possession and any lands that Columbus had discovered before 1495. It was the purpose, by giving this date, to throw open the Paria region.

Vespucius with Ojeda.

Juan de la Cosa.

1499. May 20. Ojeda sails.

At Venezuela.

The ships were fitted out at Seville in the early part of 1499, and some men, famous in these years, made part of the company which sailed on them. There was Americus Vespucius, who was seemingly now for the first time to embark for the New World, since it is likely that out of this very expedition the alleged voyage of his in 1497 has been made to appear by some perversion of chronology. There was Juan de la Cosa, a famous hydrographer, who was the companion of Columbus in his second Cuban cruise. Irving says that he was with Columbus in his first voyage; but it is thought that it was another of the same name who appears in the registers of that expedition. Several of those who had returned from Espa?ola after the Paria cruise of Columbus were also enlisted, and among them Bartholomew Roldan, the pilot of that earlier fleet. The expedition of Ojeda sailed May 20, 1499. They made land 200 leagues east of the Orinoco, and then, guided by Columbus's charts, the ships followed his track through the Serpent's and the Dragon's Mouths. Thence passing Margarita, they sailed on towards the mountains which Columbus had seen, and finally entered a gulf, where they saw some pile dwellings of the natives. They accordingly named the basin Venezuela, in reference to the great sea-built city of the Adriatic. It is noteworthy that Ojeda, in reporting to their Majesties an account of this voyage, says that he met in this neighborhood some English vessels, an expedition which may have been instigated by Cabot's success. It is to be observed, at the same time, that this is the only authority which we have for such an early visit of the English to this vicinity, and the statement is not credited by Biddle, Helps, and other recent writers. Ojeda turned eastward not long after, having run short of provisions. He then approached the prohibited Espa?ola, and hoped to elude notice while foraging at its western end.

1499. September 5. Ojeda touches at Espa?ola.

It was while here that Ojeda's caravels were seen and tidings of their presence were transmitted to Santo Domingo. Ignorance of what he had to deal with in these intruders was one of the reasons which made it out of the question for Columbus to return to Spain in the ships which he had dispatched in October. Ojeda had appeared on the coast on September 5, 1499, and as succeeding reports came to Columbus, it was divulged that Ojeda was in command, and that he was cutting dyewoods thereabouts.

Columbus sends Roldan to warn Ojeda off.

Now was the time to heal the dissensions of Roldan, and to give him a chance to recover his reputation. So the Admiral selected his late bitter enemy to manage the expedition which he thought it necessary to dispatch to the spot. Roldan sailed in command of two caravels on September 29, and, approaching unobserved the place where Ojeda's ships were at anchor, he landed with twenty-five men, and sent out scouts. They soon reported that Ojeda was some distance away from his ships at an Indian village, making cassava bread. Ojeda heard of the approach, but not in time to prevent Roldan getting between him and his ships. The intruder met him boldly, said he was on an exploring expedition, and had put in for supplies, and that if Roldan would come on board his ships, he would show his license signed by Fonseca. When Roldan went on board, he saw the document. He also learned from those he talked with in the ships-and there were among them some whom he knew, and some who had been in Espa?ola-that the Admiral's name was in disgrace at Court, and there was imminent danger of his being deprived of his command at Espa?ola. Moreover, the Queen, who had befriended him against all others, was ill beyond recovery. Ojeda promising to sail round to Santo Domingo and explain his conduct to the Admiral, Roldan left him, and carried back the intelligence to Columbus.

The Viceroy waited patiently for Ojeda's vessels to appear, and to hear the explanation of what he deemed a flagrant violation of his rights. Ojeda, having got rid of Roldan, had accomplished all that he intended by the promise. When he set sail, it was to pass round the coast easterly to the shore of Xaragua, where he anchored, and opened communication with the Spanish settlers, remnants of Roldan's party, who had not been quite satisfied to find their reinstated leader acting as an emissary of Columbus. Ojeda, with impetuous sympathy, listened to their complaints, and had agreed to be their leader in marching to Santo Domingo to demand some redresses, when Roldan, sent by Columbus to watch him, once more appeared. Ojeda declined a conference, and kept on his ship.

1500. June. Ojeda reaches Cadiz.

Roldan had harbored a deserter from one of Ojeda's fleet, and as he refusedto give him up, Ojeda watched his opportunity and seized two of Roldan's men to hold as hostages. So the two wary adventurers watched each other for an advantage. After a while, Ojeda, in his ships, stood down the coast. Roldan followed along the shore. Coming up to where the ships were anchored, Roldan induced Ojeda to send a boat ashore, when, by an artifice, he captured the boat and its crew. This game of stratagems ended with an agreement on Ojeda's part to leave the island, while Roldan restored the captive boat. The prisoners were exchanged. Ojeda bore off shore, and though Roldan heard of his landing again at a distant point, he was gone when the pursuers reached the spot. Las Casas says that Ojeda made for some islands, where he completed his lading of slaves, and set sail for Spain, arriving at Cadiz in June, 1500.

* * *

Ni?o's voyage to the pearl coast.

Guerra aids him.

While Columbus was congratulating himself on being well rid of this dangerous visitor, he was not at all aware of the uncontrollable eagerness which the joyous reports of pearls had engendered in the adventurous spirits of the Spanish seaports. Among such impatient sailors was the pilot, Pedro Alonso Ni?o, who had accompanied Columbus on his first voyage, and had also but recently returned from the Paria coast, having been likewise with the Admiral on his third voyage. He found Fonseca as willing, if only the Crown could have its share, as Ojeda had found him, and just as forgetful of the vested rights of Columbus. So the license was granted only a few days after that given to Ojeda, and of similar import. Ni?o, being a poor man, sought the aid of Luis Guerra in fitting out a small caravel of only fifty tons; and in consideration of this assistance, Guerra's brother, Cristoval, was placed in command, with a crew, all told, of thirty-three souls. They sailed from Palos early in June, 1499, and were only fifteen days behind Ojeda on the coast. They had some encounters and some festivities with the natives; but they studiously attended to their main object of bartering for pearls, and when they reached Spain on their return in April, 1500, and laid out the shares for the Crown, for Guerra, and for the crew, of the rich stores of pearls which they had gathered, men said, "Here at last is one voyage to the new islands from which some adequate return is got." And so the first commensurate product of the Indies, instead of saving the credit of Columbus, filled the pockets of an interloping adventurer.

* * *

V. Y. Pinzon's voyage.

1499. December.

Pinzon crosses the equator.

The southern sky.

But a more considerable undertaking of the same illegitimate character was that of Vicente Ya?ez Pinzon, the companion of Columbus on his first voyage. Leaguing with him a number of the seamen of the Admiral, including some of his pilots on his last voyage, Pinzon fitted out at Palos four caravels, which sailed near the beginning of December, 1499, not far from the time when Columbus was thinking, because of the flight of Ojeda, that an end was at last coming to these intrusions within his prescribed seas. Pinzon was not so much influenced by greed as by something of that spirit which had led him to embark with Columbus in 1492, the genuine eagerness of the explorer. He was destined to do what Columbus had been prevented from doing by the intense heat and by the demoralized condition of his crew,-strike the New World in the equatorial latitudes. So he stood boldly southwest, and crossed the equator, the first to do it west of the line of demarcation. Here were new constellations as well as a new continent for the transatlantic discoverer. The north star had sunk out of sight. Thus it was that the southern heavens brought a new difficulty to navigation, as well as unwonted stellar groups to the curious observer. The sailor of the northern seas had long been accustomed to the fixity of the polar star in making his observations for latitude. The southern heavens were without any conspicuous star in the neighborhood of the pole: and in order to determine such questions, the star at the foot of the Southern Cross was soon selected, but it necessitated an allowance of 30° in all observations.

1500. January 20. Sees Cape Consolation.

Coasts north.

It was on January 20, 1500, or thereabouts, that Pinzon saw a cape which he called Consolation, and which very likely was the modern Cape St. Augustine,-though the identification is not established to the satisfaction of all,-which would make Pinzon the first European to see the most easterly limit of the great southern continent. A belief like this requires us, necessarily, to reject Varnhagen's view that as early as the previous June (1499) Ojeda had made his landfall just as far to the east. Pinzon took possession of the country, and then, sailing north, passed the mouth of the Amazon, and found that even out of sight of land he could replenish his water-casks from the flow of fresh waters, which the great river poured into the ocean. It did not occur to his practical mind, as it had under similar circumstances to Columbus, that he was drinking the waters of Paradise!

1500. June. Pinzon at Espa?ola.

Reaches Palos, September, 1500.

Reaching the Gulf of Paria, Pinzon passed out into the Caribbean Sea, and touched at Espa?ola in the latter part of June, 1500. Proceeding thence to the Lucayan Islands, two of his caravels were swallowed up in a gale, and the other two disabled. The remaining ships crossed to Espa?ola to refit, whence sailing once more, they reached Palos in September, 1500.

* * *

1500. January. Diego de Lepe's voyage.

Meanwhile, following Pinzon, Diego de Lepe, sailing also from Palos with two caravels in January, 1500, tracked the coast from below Cape St. Augustine northward. He was the first to double this cape, as he showed in the map which he made for Fonseca, and doing so he saw the coast stretching ahead to the southwest. From this time South America presents on the charts this established trend of the coast. Humboldt thinks that Diego touched at Espa?ola before returning to Spain in June, 1500.

* * *

Portuguese explorations by the African route.

We must now return to the further exploration of the Portuguese by the African route, for we have reached a period when, by accident and because of the revised line of demarcation, the Portuguese pursuing that route acquired at the same time a right on the American coast which they have since maintained in Brazil, as against what seems to have been a little earlier discovery of that coast by Pinzon, in the voyage already mentioned.

1500. March 9.

Cabral discovers the Brazil coast.

1500. May 1.

In the year following the return to Lisbon of Da Gama with the marvelous story of the African route to India, the Portuguese government were prompted naturally enough to establish more firmly their commercial relations with Calicut. They accordingly fitted out three ships to make trial once more of the voyage. The command was given to Pedro Alvarez Cabral, and there were placed under him Diaz, who had first rounded the stormy cape, and Coelho, who had accompanied Da Gama. The expedition sailed on March 9, 1500. Leaving the Cape de Verde Islands, Cabral shaped his course more westerly than Da Gama had done, but for what reason is not satisfactorily ascertained. Perhaps it was to avoid the calms off the coast of Guinea; perhaps to avoid breasting a storm; and indeed it may have been only to see if any land lay thitherward easterly of the great line of demarcation. Whatever the motive, the fleet was brought on April 22 opposite an eminence, which received then the name of Monte Pascoal, and is to-day, as then it became by right of discovery, within the Portuguese limits of South America, the Land of the True Cross, as he named it, Vera Cruz; later, however, to be changed to Santa Cruz. The coast was examined, and in the bay of Porto Seguro, on May 1, formal possession of the country was taken for the crown of Portugal. Cabral sent a caravel back with the news, expressed in a letter drawn up by Pedro Vaz de Caminha. This letter, which is dated on the day possession was taken, was first made known by Mu?oz, who discovered it in the archives at Lisbon. It was not till July 29 that the Portuguese king, in a letter which is printed by Navarrete, notified the Spanish monarchs of Cabral's discovery, and this letter was printed in Rome, October 23, 1500.

It seems to have been the apprehension of the Portuguese, if we may trust this letter, that the new coast lay directly in the route to the Cape of Good Hope, though on the right hand.

Cabral at Calicut, September 13, 1500.

Leaving two banished criminals to seek their chances of life in the country, and to ascertain its products, Cabral set sail on May 22, and proceeded to the Cape of Good Hope. Fearful gales were encountered and four vessels were lost, and his subordinate, Diaz, found an ocean grave off the stormy cape of his own finding. But Calicut was at last reached, September 13.

* * *

Date of Cabral's discovery.

His landfall.

There is a day or two difference in the dates assigned by different authorities for this discovery of Cabral. Ramusio, quoting a pilot of the fleet fourteen months after the event, says April 24, and leading Portuguese historians have followed him; but the letter which Cabral sent back to Portugal, as already related, says April 22. The question would be a trifling one, as Humboldt suggests, except that it bears upon the question of just where this fortuitous landfall was made, involving estimates of distance sailed before Cabral entered the harbor of Porto Seguro. It is probable that this was at a point a hundred and seventy leagues south of the spot reached earlier (January, 1500) by Pinzon and De Lepe. Yet on this point there are some differences of opinion, which are recapitulated by Humboldt.

Cabral and Pinzon.

The most impartial critics, however, agree with Humboldt in giving Pinzon the lead, if not to the extent of the forty-eight days before Cabral left Lisbon, as Humboldt contends.

If Barros is correct in his deductions, it was not known on board of Cabral's fleet that Columbus had already discovered in the Paria region what he supposed an extension of the Asiatic main. The first conclusion of the Portuguese naturally was that they had stumbled either on a new group of islands, or perhaps on some outlying members of the group of the Antilles. Of course nothing was known at the time of the discoveries of Pinzon and Lepe.

The results of the African route.

It has often been remarked that if Columbus had not sailed in 1492, Cabral would have revealed America in 1500. It is a striking fact that the Portuguese had pursued their quest for India with an intelligence and prescience which geographical truth confirmed. The Spaniards went their way in error, and it took them nearly thirty years to find a route that could bring them where they could defend at the antipodes their rights under the Bull of Demarcation. Columbus sought India and found America without knowing it. Cabral, bound for the Cape of Good Hope, stumbled upon Brazil, and pre?mpted the share of Portugal in the New World as Da Gama has already secured it in Asia. Thus the African route revealed both Cathay and America.

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The Columbus lawsuit.

La Cosa's map, 1500.

For these voyages commingling with those of Columbus along the spaces of the Caribbean Sea, we get the best information, all things considered, from the testimonies of the participants in them, which were rendered in the famous lawsuit which the Crown waged against the heirs of Columbus. The well-known map of Juan de la Cosa posts us best on the cartographical results of these same voyages up to the summer of 1500.


La Cosa was, as Las Casas called him, the best of the pilots then living, and there is a story of his arrogating to himself a superiority to Columbus, even.

As La Cosa returned to Spain with Ojeda in June, 1500, and sailed again in October with Bastidas, this famous map was apparently made in that interval, since it purports in an inscription to have been drafted in 1500. In posting the geographical knowledge which he had acquired up to that date, La Cosa drew upon his own experiences in the voyages which he had already made with Columbus (1493-96), and with Ojeda (1499-1500). It is to be regretted that we have from his pencil no later draft, for his experience in these seas was long and intimate, since he accompanied Bastidas in 1500-2, led expeditions of his own in 1504-6 and 1507-8, and went again with Ojeda in 1509.

La Cosa, indeed, does not seem to have improved his map on any subsequent date, and that he puts down Cape St. Augustine so accurately is another proof of that headland being seen by Pinzon or Lepe in 1500, and that news of its discovery had reached the map makers.

Objections to La Cosa's map.

The objections to La Cosa's map as a source of historical information have been that (1) he gives an incorrect shape to Cuba, and makes it an island eight years before Ocampo sailed around it; and that (2) he gives an unrecognizable coast northward from where the Gulf of Mexico should be. Henry Stevens, in his Historical and Geographical Notes, undertakes to answer these objections.

Insularity of Cuba.

First, Stevens reverts to the belief of La Cosa that he did not imagine Cuba to be an island, because no one ever knew of an island 335 leagues long, as Columbus and he, sailing along its southern side, had found it to be, taking the distance they had gone rather than the true limits. Stevens depends much on the belief of Columbus that the bay of islands which he fancied himself within, when he turned back, was the Gulf of Ganges,-supposing that Peter Martyr quoted Columbus, when he wrote to that effect in August, 1495. If Varnhagen is correct in his routes of Vespucius, that navigator, in 1497, making the circuit of the Gulf of Mexico, had established the insularity of Cuba. Few modern scholars, it is fair to say, accept Varnhagen's theories. It became a question, after Humboldt had made the La Cosa chart public in 1833, how its maker had got the information of the insularity of Cuba. Humboldt was convinced that though a "complacent witness" to Columbus's ridiculous notarial transaction during his second voyage, La Cosa had dared to tell the truth, even at the small risk of having his tongue pulled out.


The Admiral's belief, bolstered after his own fashion by suborning his crew, was far from being accepted by all.

Peter Martyr not long afterward voiced the hesitancy which was growing. It was beginning to be believed that the earth was larger than Columbus thought, and that his discoveries had not taken him as far as Cathay. Every new report veered the vane on this old gossiper's steeple, and he went on believing one day and disbelieving the next.


[left side]

WYTFLIET'S CUBA. (complete view)

We may perhaps question now if the official promulgation of the Cuban circumnavigation by Sebastian Ocampo in 1508 was much more than the Spanish acknowledgment of its insularity, when they could no longer deny it. Henry Stevens has claimed to put La Cosa's island of Cuba in accord with Columbus, or at least partly so. He finds this western limit of Cuba on the La Cosa map drawn with "a dash of green paint," which he holds to be a color used to define unknown coasts. He studied the map in Jomard's colored facsimile, and trusted it, not having examined the original to this end,-though he had apparently seen it in the Paris auction-room in 1853, when, as a competitor, he had run up the price which the Spanish government paid for it. He says that the same green emblem of unknown lands is also placed upon the coast of Asia, where a peninsular Cuba would have joined it. He seems to forget that he should have found, to support his theory, a gap rather than a supposable coast, and should rather have pointed to the vignette of St. Christopher as affording that gap.


[right side]

WYTFLIET'S CUBA. (complete view)

Ruysch in 1507 marked in his map this unknown western limit with a conventional scroll, while he made his north coast not unlike the Asiatic coast of Mauro (1457) and Behaim (1492), and with no gap. Stevens also interprets the St. Dié map of 1508-13 as showing this peninsular Cuba in what is there placed as the main, with a duplicated insular Cuba in what is called Isabella. The warrant for this supposition is the transfer under disguises of the La Cosa and Ruysch names of their Cuba to the continental coast of the St. Dié map, leaving the "Isabella" entirely devoid of names.

Stevens ventures the opinion that La Cosa may have been on the first voyage of Columbus as well as on the second, and his reason for this is that the north coast of Cuba, which Columbus then coasted, is so correctly drawn; but this opinion ignores the probability, indeed the certainty, that this approximate accuracy could just as well be reached by copying from Columbus's map of that first voyage.

It should be borne in mind, however, that Varnhagen, who had faith in the 1497 voyage of Vespucius as having settled the insular character of Cuba, interprets this St. Dié map quite differently, as showing a rudimentary Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi mouth instead of the Gulf of Ganges.

La Cosa's coast of Asia.

Second, Stevens grasps the obvious interpretation that La Cosa simply drew in for this northern coast that of Asia as he conceived it. This hardly needs elucidation. But his opinion is not so well grounded that the northern part of this Asiatic coast, where La Cosa intended to improve on the notions which had come from Marco Polo and the rest, is simply the northern coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence as laid down by the explorations of Cabot. If it be taken as giving from Cabot's recitals the trend of the coasts found by him, it seems to show that that navigator knew nothing of the southern entrance of that gulf. This adds further to the uncertainty of what is called the Cabot mappemonde of 1544. That La Cosa intended the coasts of the Cabots' discoveries to belong to inland waters Stevens thinks is implied by the sea thereabouts being called Mar instead of Mar oceanus. It is difficult to see the force of these supplemental views of Stevens, and to look upon the drawing of La Cosa in this northern region as other than Asia modified vaguely by the salient points of the outer coast lines as glimpsed by Cabot.

If the Spanish envoy in England carried out his intention of sending a copy of Cabot's chart to Spain, it could hardly have escaped falling into the hands of La Cosa. We have already mentioned the chance of John Cabot having visited the peninsula in the interval between his two voyages.

Columbus and the Cabot voyages.

The chief ground for believing that Columbus ever heard of the voyages of the Cabots-for there is no plain statement that he did-is that we know how La Cosa had knowledge of them; and that upon his map the vignette of St. Christopher bearing the infant Christ may possibly have been, as it has sometimes been held to be, a direct reference to La Cosa's commander, who may be supposed in that case to have been acquainted with the compliment paid him, and consequently with the map's record of the Cabots.

The Cantino map.

Whether La Cosa understood the natives better than Columbus, or whether he had information of which we have no record, it is certain that within two years rumor or fact brought it to the knowledge of the Portuguese that the westerly end of Cuba lay contiguous to a continental shore, stretching to the north, in much the position of the eastern seaboard of the United States. This is manifest from the Cantino map, which was sent from Lisbon to Italy before November, 1502, and which prefigured the so-called Admiral's map of the Ptolemy of 1513. There will be occasion to discuss later the over-confident dictum of Stevens that this supposed North American coast was simply a duplicated Cuba, turned north and south, and stretching from a warm region, as the Spaniards knew it, well up into the frozen north. Cosa's map seems to have exerted little or no influence on the earliest printed maps of the New World, and in this it differs from the Cantino map.

Minor expeditions.

We know not what unexpected developments may further have sprung from obscure and furtive explorations, which were now beginning to be common, and of which the record is often nothing more than an inference. Stories of gold and pearls were great incentives. The age was full of a spirit of private adventure. The voyages of Ojeda, Ni?o, and Pinzon were but the more conspicuous.

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