TALES ABOUT AMERICA AND AUSTRALIA.
A New Edition,
Brought Down to the Present Time.
Revised by The Rev. T. Wilson.
With Illustrations by S. Williams.
London: Darton and Hodge, Holborn Hill. 1862.
PARLEY TELLS HOW AMERICA WAS FIRST DISCOVERED, AND ABOUT COLUMBUS 1
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE INHABITANTS 12
COLUMBUS SETS SAIL TO RETURN TO SPAIN; ENCOUNTERS A DREADFUL STORM 21
COLUMBUS PREPARES FOR ANOTHER VOYAGE 35
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS DISCOVERED THE CONTINENT OF AMERICA 45
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS ROBBED OF THE HONOUR OF GIVING HIS NAME TO AMERICA 59
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS SHIPWRECKED, AND OF HIS DEATH 65
PARLEY TELLS OF OVANDO'S CRUEL TREATMENT OF ANACAONA, THE PRINCESS OF HAYTI 73
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE TREES, THE PLANTS, AND FLOWERS OF THE NEW WORLD 79
PARLEY TELLS OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO 96
PARLEY RELATES HOW PIZARRO DISCOVERED AND CONQUERED PERU 121
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE BEAUTIES OF AMERICA 133
PARLEY TELLS OF THE FIRST ENGLISH COLONY IN AMERICA 141
PARLEY TELLS OF THE ORIGINAL NATIVE AMERICANS 150
PARLEY SHOWS HOW THE UNITED STATES AROSE, AND WHAT FOLLOWED THEIR ESTABLISHMENT 165
PARLEY TELLS ABOUT NEW SOUTH WALES 176
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE INHABITANTS OF AUSTRALIA—THE BRITISH SETTLEMENTS—THE GOLD REGIONS—RECENT EXPLORATIONS 183
PARLEY TELLS HOW AMERICA WAS FIRST DISCOVERED, AND ABOUT COLUMBUS THE DISCOVERER.
Now that I have given you an account of European cities in my "Tales about Europe," I shall now furnish you with some description of America, with its flourishing cities, and its multitude of ships, its fertile fields, its mighty rivers, its vast forests, and its millions of happy and industrious inhabitants, of which I am quite certain you must be very curious to know something, when you are told that though the world has been created nearly six thousand years, and many powerful nations have flourished and decayed, and are now scarcely remembered, yet it is only three hundred and seventy years ago since it was known that such a country as America existed.
It was in the year 1492, which you know is only 370 years since, on the third of August, a little before sunrise, that Christopher Columbus, undertaking the boldest enterprise that human genius ever conceived, or human talent and fortitude ever accomplished, set sail from Spain, for the discovery of the Western World.
I will now give you a short account of Columbus, who was one of the greatest men the world ever produced. He was born in the city of Genoa, in Italy; his family were almost all sailors, and he was brought up for a sailor also, and after being taught geography and various other things necessary for a sea captain to know, he was sent on board ship at the age of fourteen. Columbus was tall, muscular, and of a commanding aspect; his hair, light in youth, turned prematurely grey, and ere he reached the age of thirty was white as snow.
His first voyages were short ones, but after several years, desiring to see and learn more of distant countries, and thinking there were still new ones to be discovered, he went into the service of the King of Portugal and made many voyages to the western coast of Africa, and to the Canaries, and the Madeiras, and the Azores, islands lying off that coast, which were then the most westerly lands known to Europeans.
In his visits to these parts, one person informed him that his ship, sailing out farther to the west than usual, had picked up out of the sea a piece of wood curiously carved, and that very thick canes, like those which travellers had found in India, had been seen floating on the waves; also that great trees, torn up by the roots, had often been cast on shore, and once two dead bodies of men, with strange features, neither like Europeans nor Africans, were driven on the coast of the Azores.
All these stories set Columbus thinking and considering that these strange things had come drifting over the sea from the west, he looked upon them as tokens sent from some unknown countries lying far distant in that quarter: he was therefore eager to sail away and explore, but as he had not money enough himself to fit out ships and hire sailors, he determined to go and try to persuade some king or some state to be at the expense of the trial.
First he went to his own countrymen the Genoese, but they would have nothing to say to him: he then submitted his plan to the Portuguese, but the King of Portugal, pretending to listen to him, got from him his plan, and perfidiously attempted to rob him of the honour of accomplishing it, by sending another person to pursue the same track which he had proposed.
The person they so basely employed did not succeed, but returned to Lisbon, execrating a plan he had not abilities to execute.
On discovering this treachery, Columbus quitted the kingdom in disgust and set out for Spain, to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He was now so poor that he was frequently obliged to beg as he went along.
About half a league from Palos, a sea-port of Andalusia in Spain, on a solitary height, overlooking the sea-coast, and surrounded by a forest of pines, there stood, and now stands at the present day, an ancient convent of Franciscan friars.
A stranger, travelling on foot, accompanied by a young boy, stopped one day at the gate of the convent, and asked of the porter a little bread and water for his child.—That stranger was Columbus, accompanied by his son Diego.
While receiving this humble refreshment, the guardian of the convent, Friar Juan Perez, happening to pass, was taken with the appearance of the stranger, and being an intelligent man and acquainted with geographical science, he became interested with the conversation of Columbus, and was so struck with the grandeur of his project that he detained him as his guest and invited a friend of his, Martin Alonzo Pinzon, a resident of the town of Palos, to come and hear Columbus explain his plan.
Pinzon was one of the most intelligent sea captains of the day, and a distinguished navigator. He not only approved of his project, but offered to engage in it, and to assist him.
Juan Perez now advised Columbus to repair to court. Pinzon generously furnished him with the money for the journey, and the friar kindly took charge of his youthful son Diego, to maintain and educate him in the convent, which I am sure you will think was the greatest kindness he could have done him at that time.
Ferdinand and Isabella gave him hopes and promises, then they made difficulties and objections, and would do nothing. At last, after waiting five years, he was just setting off for England, where he had previously sent his brother Bartholomew, when he was induced to wait a little longer in Spain.
This little longer was two years, but then at last he had his reward, for queen Isabella stood his friend, and even offered to part with her own jewels in order to raise money to enable him to make preparations for the voyage, so that he contrived to fit out three very small vessels which altogether carried but one hundred and twenty men.
Two of the vessels were light barques, or barges built high at the prow and stern, with forecastles and cabins for the crew, but were without deck in the centre; only one of the three, the Santa Maria, was completely decked; on board of this, Columbus hoisted his flag. Martin Alonzo Pinzon commanded the Pinta, and his brother, Vincente Yanez Pinzon, the Nina. He set sail in the sight of a vast crowd, all praying for the success, but never expecting and scarcely hoping to see either him or any of his crews again.
Columbus first made sail for the Canaries, where he repaired his vessels: then taking leave of these islands, he steered his course due west, across the great Atlantic ocean, where never ship had ploughed the waves before.
No sooner had they lost sight of land than the sailors' hearts began to fail them, and they bewailed themselves like men condemned to die: but Columbus cheered them with the hopes of the rich countries they were to discover.
After awhile they came within those regions where the trade-wind, as it is called, blows constantly from east to west without changing, which carried them on at a vast rate; but he judiciously concealed from his ignorant and timid crews the progress he made, lest they might be alarmed at the speed with which they were receding from home. After some time, they found the sea covered with weeds, as thick as a meadow with grass, and the sailors fancied that they should soon be stuck fast,—that they had reached the end of the navigable ocean, and that some strange thing would befal them.
Still, however, Columbus cheered them on, and the sight of a flock of birds encouraged them: but when they had been three weeks at sea and no land appeared, they grew desperate with fear, and plotted among themselves to force their commander to turn back again, lest all their provisions should be spent, or, if he refused, to throw him overboard.
Columbus, however, made them a speech which had such an effect upon them that they became tolerably quiet for a week longer; they then grew so violent again that at last he was obliged to promise them that if they did not see land in three days, he would consent to give it up and sail home again.
But he was now almost sure that land was not far off: the sea grew shallower, and early every morning flocks of land birds began to flutter around them, and these all left the ship in the evening, as if to roost on shore. One of the vessels had picked up a cane newly cut, and another a branch covered with fresh red berries; and the air blew softer and warmer, and the wind began to vary.
That very night, Columbus ordered the sails to be taken in, and strict watch to be kept, in all the ships, for fear of running aground; he and all his men remained standing on the deck, looking out eagerly: at length he spied a distant light; he showed it to two of his officers, and they all plainly perceived it moving, as if carried backwards and forwards, from house to house.
Soon after the cry of "Land! land!" was heard from the foremost ship, and, at dawn of day, they plainly saw a beautiful island, green and woody, and watered with many pleasant streams, lying stretched before them.
As soon as the sun rose, the boats of the vessel were lowered and manned, and Columbus, in a rich and splendid dress of scarlet, entered the principal one. They then rowed towards the island, with their colours displayed, and warlike music, and other martial pomp.
Columbus was the first to leap on shore, to kiss the earth, and to thank God on his knees: his men followed, and throwing themselves at his feet they all thanked him for leading them thither, and begged his forgiveness for their disrespectful and unruly behaviour.
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE INHABITANTS.
The poor inhabitants, a simple and innocent people, with copper-coloured skins and long black hair, not curled, like the negroes, but floating on their shoulders, or bound in tresses round their heads, came flocking down to the beach and stood gazing in silent admiration.
The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness of their skins, their beards, their arms, and the vast machines that seemed to move upon the waters with wings, which they supposed had, during the night, risen out of the sea, or come down from the clouds; the sound and flash of the guns, which they mistook for thunder and lightning: all these things appeared to them strange and surprising; they considered the Spaniards as children of the sun, and paid homage to them as gods.
The Europeans were hardly less amazed at the scene now before them. Every herb, and shrub, and tree, differed from those which flourished in Europe: the inhabitants appeared in the simple innocence of nature, entirely naked; their features were singular, but not disagreeable, and their manners gentle and timid.
The first act of Columbus was to take solemn and formal possession of the country in the name of his sovereign; this was done by planting the Spanish flag on the coast, and other ceremonies, which the poor natives looked upon with wonder, but could not understand.
Nor could there be an act of greater cruelty and injustice; for the Spaniards could not have any right to drive these gentle and peaceful inhabitants (as they afterwards did) from their peaceful abodes, which had been theirs and their fathers before them, perhaps for thousands of years, and in the end, utterly to destroy them, and take their land for themselves.
After performing this ceremony, of which Columbus himself could not foresee the consequences to the Indians, for he was very kind to them, he made them presents of trinkets and other trifles, with which they were greatly delighted, and brought him in return the fruits of their fields and groves, and a sort of bread called cassada, made from the root of the yuca; with whatever else their own simple mode of life might afford.
Columbus then returned to his ship, accompanied by many of the islanders in their boats, which they called canoes; these simple and undiscerning children of nature having no foresight of the calamities and desolation which awaited their country.
This island was called by the natives Guanahini, and by the Spaniards St. Salvador: it is one of that cluster of West India Islands called the Bahamas, and if you look on the map you will see that it is the very first island that would present itself to a ship sailing direct from Spain.
Columbus did not continue his voyage for some days, as he wished to give all his sailors an opportunity of landing and seeing the wonders of the new-discovered world, and to take in a fresh supply of water, in which they were cheerfully assisted by the natives, who took them to the clearest springs and the sweetest and freshest streams, filling their casks and rolling them to the boats, and seeking in every way to gratify (as they believed) their celestial visitors.
Columbus having thus refreshed his crews, and supplied his ships with water, proceeded on his voyage. After visiting several smaller islands he discovered a large island which the natives called Cuba, and which still retains that name. This was so large an island that he at first thought it to be a new continent.
In proceeding along the coast, having observed that most of the people whom he had seen wore small plates of gold by way of ornament in their noses, he eagerly inquired, by signs, where they got that precious metal.
The Indians, as much astonished at his eagerness in quest of gold as the Europeans were at their ignorance and simplicity, pointed towards the east, to an island which they called Hayti, in which this metal was more abundant.
Columbus ordered his squadron to bend their course thither, but Martin Alonzo Pinzon, impatient to be the first who should take possession of the treasure which this country was supposed to contain, quitted his companions with his ship, the Pinta, and though Columbus made signals to slacken sail, he paid no regard to them.
When they came in sight of Hayti, which you will see was no great distance, if you look on the map, Columbus having had no sleep the night before, had gone to his cabin to lie down and rest himself, having first given the charge of the vessel to an experienced sailor.
This careless man, (this lazy lubber, the sailors would call him,) instead of performing his duty, and watching over the safety of the ship and the lives of his companions, which were entrusted to him, deserted his post and went to sleep, leaving the vessel to the management of a young and thoughtless boy.
The rapid currents which prevail on that coast soon carried the vessel on a shoal, and Columbus was roused from his sleep by the striking of the ship and the cries of the terrified boy.
They first endeavoured, by taking out an anchor, to warp the vessel off, but the strength of the current was more than a match for them, and the vessel was driven farther and farther on the shoal; they then cut away the mast and took out some of the stores to lighten her; but all their efforts were vain.
Before sunset the next evening the vessel was a complete wreck. Fortunately the Nina was close at hand, and the shipwrecked mariners got on board of her; the inhabitants of the island came in their canoes and assisted them in preserving part of their stores.
They found Hayti a very beautiful island, and were treated with the greatest kindness by the inhabitants; but, though delighted with the beauty of the scenes which everywhere presented themselves, and amazed at the luxuriance and fertility of the soil, Columbus did not find gold in such quantities as was sufficient to satisfy the avarice of his followers; he was nevertheless anxious to prolong his voyage, and explore those magnificent regions which seemed to invite them on every hand.
But as the Pinta had never joined them again after parting from them, he had no vessel now left but the Nina; he did not therefore think it prudent to pursue his discoveries with one small vessel, and that a very crazy one, lest, if any accident should befal it, he might be left without the means of returning to Europe, and both the glory and benefit of his great discoveries might be lost; so he determined to prepare for his return.
But as it was impossible for so small a vessel as the Nina to contain the crew of the ship that was wrecked in addition to its own, Columbus was greatly perplexed what to do.
Many of his men were so delighted with the island and its inhabitants, that they begged of him to let them remain there, and Columbus consented to leave forty of them on the island, while he and the remainder made the voyage back.
He promised to return to them speedily. He now built them a fort with the timber of the wreck, and fortified it with the guns of the Santa Maria, and did every thing in his power to provide for their comfort during his absence, particularly enjoining them to be kind and peaceful towards the Indians.
This was the first colony of Europeans that settled in the new world, and Columbus gave it the name of Navidad.
COLUMBUS SETS SAIL TO RETURN TO SPAIN, AND ENCOUNTERS A DREADFUL STORM.
Having obtained a certain quantity of the precious metals, and other curious productions of the countries he had discovered, he set sail to recross the wide Atlantic Ocean.
It was the second day after they had left the island that they saw a sail at a distance, which proved to be the Pinta.
On joining the admiral, Pinzon made many excuses and endeavoured to account for his desertion, saying he had been separated by stress of weather. Columbus admitted his excuse, but he ascertained afterwards that Pinzon parted company intentionally, and had steered directly east in quest of a region where the Indians had assured him that he would find gold in abundance.
They had guided him to Hayti, where he had been for some time, in a river about fifteen leagues from the part of the coast where Columbus had been wrecked.
He had collected a large quantity of gold by trading with the natives, and on leaving the river he had carried off four Indian men and two girls to be sold in Spain.
Columbus immediately sailed back for this river, and ordered the four men and two girls to be dismissed well clothed and with many presents, to atone for the wrong they had experienced. This resolution was not carried into effect without great unwillingness and many angry words on the part of Pinzon.
Columbus, being now joined by the Pinta, thought he might pursue his discoveries a little further, and on leaving this part of the coast he took with him four young Indians to guide him to the Carribean Islands, of which they gave him a very interesting account, as well as of another island said to be inhabited by Amazons.
A favourable breeze, however, sprang up for the voyage homewards, and seeing gloom and impatience in the countenances of his men, he gave up his intention of visiting these islands, and made all sail for Spain, the young Indians having consented to accompany him that they might learn the Spanish language, and be his guides and interpreters when they should return.
His voyage homeward was much more tedious; for those trade winds which had wafted him so rapidly westward, across the Atlantic, still blew from east to west, and Columbus did not then know that their influence only extends to a certain distance on each side of the Equator, so that if he had sailed a little farther north, on his return, he would very likely have met with a south-west wind, which was just what he wanted.
On the 12th of February they had made such progress as led them to hope they should soon see land. The wind now came on to blow violently; on the following evening there were three flashes of lightning in the north-east, from which signs Columbus predicted an approaching tempest.
It soon burst upon them with frightful violence. Their small and crazy vessels were little fitted for the wild storms of the Atlantic; all night they were obliged to scud under bare poles, at the mercy of the elements; as the morning dawned there was a transient pause and they made a little sail, but the wind rose with redoubled fury from the south and increased in the night, threatening each moment to overwhelm them or dash them to pieces.
The admiral made signal-lights for the Pinta to keep in company, but she was separated by the violence of the storm, and her lights gleamed more and more distant till they ceased entirely.
When the day dawned the sea presented a frightful waste of wild and broken waves. Columbus looked round anxiously for the Pinta, but she was nowhere to be seen, and he became apprehensive that Pinzon had borne away for Spain, that he might reach it before him, and by giving the first account of his discoveries, deprive him of his fame.
Through a dreary day the helpless bark was driven along by the tempest.
Seeing all human skill baffled and confounded, Columbus endeavoured to propitiate heaven by solemn vows, and various private vows were made by the seamen. The heavens, however, seemed deaf to their vows: the storm grew still more furious, and every one gave himself up for lost.
During this long and awful conflict of the elements, the mind of Columbus was a prey to the most distressing anxiety.
He was harassed by the repinings of his crew, who cursed the hour of their leaving their country.
He was afflicted also with the thought of his two sons, who would be left destitute by his death.
But he had another source of distress more intolerable than death itself. In case the Pinta should have foundered, as was highly probable, the history of his discovery would depend upon his own feeble bark. One surge of the ocean might bury it for ever in oblivion, and his name only be recorded as that of a desperate adventurer.
At this crisis, when all was given up for lost, Columbus had presence of mind enough to retire to his cabin and to write upon parchment a short account of his voyage.
This he wrapped in an oiled cloth, which he enclosed in a cake of wax, put it into a tight cask, and threw it into the sea, in hopes that some fortunate accident might preserve a deposit of so much importance to the world.
But that being which had preserved him through so many dangers still protected him; and happily these precautions were superfluous.
At sunset there was a streak of clear sky in the west; the wind shifted to that quarter, and on the morning of the 15th of February they came in sight of land.
The transports of the crew at once more beholding the old world, were almost equal to those they had experienced on discovering the new. This proved to be the island of St. Mary, the most southern of the Azores.
After remaining here a few days, the wind proving favourable he again set sail, on the 24th of February.
After two or three days of pleasant sailing, there was a renewal of tempestuous weather. About midnight of the 2nd of March the caravel was struck by a squall, which rent all her sails and threatened instant destruction. The crew were again reduced to despair, and made vows of fasting and pilgrimages.
The storm raged through the succeeding day, during which, from various signs they considered that land must be near. The turbulence of the following night was dreadful; the sea was broken, wild, and mountainous, the rain fell in torrents, and the lightning flashed and the thunder pealed from various parts of the heavens.
In the first watch of this fearful night, the seamen gave the usual welcome cry of land—but it only increased their alarm, for they dreaded being driven on shore or dashed upon the rocks. Taking in sail, therefore, they endeavoured to keep to sea as much as possible. At day-break on the 4th of March they found themselves off the rock of Cintra at the mouth of the Tagus, which you know is the principal river of Portugal.
Though distrustful of the Portuguese, he had no alternative but to run in for shelter. The inhabitants came off from various parts of the shore to congratulate him on what they deemed a miraculous preservation, for they had been watching the vessel the whole morning with great anxiety, and putting up prayers for her safety. The oldest mariners of the place assured him that they had never during the whole course of their lives known so tempestuous a winter.
Such were the difficulties and perils with which Columbus had to contend on his return to Europe. Had one tenth part of them beset his outward voyage, his factious crew would have risen in arms against the enterprise, and he never would have discovered the new world.
The king of Portugal must have been greatly mortified when he heard of the arrival of Columbus and the wonderful discoveries he had made, for he could not but reflect that all the advantages of these discoveries might have belonged to him if he had not treated Columbus as he did.
But notwithstanding the envy which it was natural for the Portuguese to feel, he was allowed to come to Lisbon, and was treated with all the marks of distinction due to a man who had performed things so extraordinary and unexpected. The king admitted him into his presence, and listened with admiration to the account which he gave of his voyage, while Columbus enjoyed the satisfaction of being able to prove the solidity of his schemes to those very persons who had with disgraceful ignorance rejected them as the projects of a visionary adventurer.
Columbus was so impatient to return to Spain that he remained only five days in Lisbon. On the 15th of March he arrived at Palos, seven months and eleven days from the time when he set out from thence upon his voyage.
When the prosperous issue of it was known, when they beheld the strange people, the unknown animals, and singular productions brought from the countries he had discovered, the joy was unbounded; all the bells were rung, the cannons were fired, and he was welcomed with all the acclamations which the people are ever ready to bestow on great and glorious characters. They flocked in crowds to the harbour to see him land, and nothing but Columbus and the New World, as the Spaniards called it, was talked of.
He was desired by Ferdinand and Isabella in the most respectful terms to repair to court, that they might receive from his own mouth, an account of his wonderful discoveries.
On his arrival at Barcelona the king and queen received him clad in their royal robes, seated upon a throne, and surrounded by their nobles.
When he approached, they commanded him to take his seat upon a chair prepared for him, and to give a circumstantial account of his voyage, which he related with a gravity suitable to the dignity of the audience he addressed, and with that modesty which ever accompanies superior merit.
Every mark of honour that gratitude or admiration could suggest, was conferred upon him; his family was ennobled, and, as a mark of particular favour, Isabella appointed his son Diego, the boy, who, you remember, had been left at the convent, page to prince Juan, the heir apparent, an honour only granted to sons of persons of distinguished rank.
The king and queen, and, after their example, the courtiers treated him with all the respect paid to persons of the highest rank. Yet some of these courtiers were his bitterest enemies, and did every thing they could, in his absence, to poison the minds of the king and queen against him, and to cause his downfall.
The favour shown Columbus by the sovereigns insured him for a time the caresses of the nobility, for in court every one is eager to lavish attentions upon the man "whom the king delighteth to honour."
At one of the banquets which were given him occured the well known circumstance of the egg.
A shallow courtier present, impatient of the honours paid to Columbus, and meanly jealous of him as a foreigner, abruptly asked him, whether he thought that, in case he had not discovered the Indies, there would have been wanting men in Spain capable of the enterprise.
To this Columbus made no direct reply but, taking an egg, invited the company to make it stand on one end. Every one attempted it, but in vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table, broke one end, and left it standing on the broken part; illustrating, in this simple manner, that when he had once shown the way to the new world, nothing was easier than to follow it.
COLUMBUS PREPARES FOR ANOTHER VOYAGE.
Columbus was now anxious to set out on another voyage to proceed with his discoveries, and the king and queen gave orders that every thing should be done to further his wishes.
By his exertions a fleet of seventeen sail, large and small, was soon in a state of forwardness; labourers and artificers of all kinds were engaged for the projected colonies, and an ample supply was provided of whatever was necessary for the cultivation of the soil, the working of the mines, and for traffic with the natives.
He now found no difficulty in getting sailors to accompany him, and the account he gave of the countries he had discovered, and particularly the intelligence that they abounded with gold, excited the avarice and rapacity of the Spaniards, and numbers of needy adventurers of ruined fortunes and desperate circumstances, were eager to share in the spoil.
Many persons of distinction, thinking to become rich by the same means, also volunteered to enlist, and many got on board of the ships by stealth, so that about 1500 set sail in the fleet, though only a thousand were originally permitted to embark.
The departure of Columbus on his second voyage presented a brilliant contrast to his gloomy embarkation at Palos.
There were three large ships of heavy burden and fourteen smaller vessels, and the persons on board, instead of being regarded by the populace as devoted men, were looked upon with envy as favoured mortals, destined to golden regions and delightful climes, where nothing but wealth, and wonder, and enjoyment awaited them.
At sunrise the whole fleet was under sail, on the 13th of October he lost sight of the Island of Ferro, and, favoured by the trade winds, was borne pleasantly along, till, on the 2nd of November, a lofty island was descried to the west, to which he gave the name of Dominica, from having discovered it on the Lord's day.
As the ships moved gently onward, other islands arose to sight, one after another, covered with forests and enlivened by the flight of parrots and other tropical birds, while the whole air was sweetened by the fragrance of the breezes which passed over them.
In one of these islands, to which the Spaniards gave the name of Guadaloupe, they first met with the delicious fruit, the Anana or pine-apple.
Columbus now sailed in the direction of Hayti, to which he had given the name of Hispaniola, where he shortly arrived.
In passing along the coast he set on shore one of the young Indians who had been taken from that neighbourhood and had accompanied him to Spain. He dismissed him finely apparelled, and loaded with trinkets, thinking he would impress his countrymen with favourable feelings towards the Spaniards, but he never heard anything of him afterwards.
When he arrived on that part of the island where he had built the fort and taken leave of his companions, the evening growing dark, the land was hidden from their sight. Columbus watched for the dawn of day with the greatest anxiety; when at last the approach of the morning sun rendering the objects on shore visible, in the place where the fort had stood, nothing was to be seen. No human being was near, neither Indian nor European; he ordered a boat to be manned, and himself went, at the head of a party, to explore how things really were.
The crew hastened to the place where the fortress had been erected; they found it burnt and demolished, the palisades beaten down, and the ground strewed with broken chests and fragments of European garments.
The natives, at their approach, did not welcome them as they expected, like friends, but fled and concealed themselves as if afraid to be seen.
Columbus, at length, with some difficulty, by signs of peace and friendship, persuaded a few of them to come forth to him. From them he learned, that scarcely had he set sail for Spain, when all his counsels and commands faded from the minds of those who remained behind. Instead of cultivating the good-will of the natives, they endeavoured, by all kinds of wrongful means, to get possession of their golden ornaments and other articles of value, and seduce from them their wives and daughters, and had also quarrelled among themselves.
The consequences of this bad conduct were what might have been expected: some died by sickness caused by intemperance, some fell in brawls between themselves about their ill-gotten spoil, and others were cut off by the Indians, whom they had so shamefully treated, and who afterwards pulled dawn and burnt their fort.
The misfortunes which had befallen the Spaniards in the vicinity of this harbour threw a gloom over the place, and it was considered by the superstitious mariners as under some baneful influence. The situation was low and unhealthy, and not capable of improvement; Columbus therefore determined to remove the settlement.
With this view he made choice of a situation more healthy and commodious than that of Navidad, and having ordered the troops and the various persons to be employed in the colony to be immediately disembarked, together with the stores, ammunition, and all the cattle and live-stock, he traced out the plan of a town in a large plain near a spacious bay; and obliging every person to put his hand to the work, the houses were soon so far advanced as to afford them shelter, and forts were constructed for their defence.
This rising city, the first that Europeans founded in the new world, he named Isabella, in honour of his patroness the Queen of Castile.
As long as the Indians had any prospect that their sufferings might terminate by the voluntary departure of the invaders, they submitted in silence, and dissembled their sorrow; but now that the Spaniards had built a town—now that they had dug up the ground and planted it with corn—it became apparent that they came not to visit the country, but to settle in it.
They were themselves naturally so abstemious and their wants so few, that they were easily satisfied with the fruits of the island, which, with a handful of maize or a little of the insipid bread made of the cassava root, were sufficient for their support.
But it was with difficulty they could afford subsistence for the new guests. The Spaniards, though considered an abstemious people, appeared to them excessively voracious. One Spaniard consumed as much as several Indians; this keenness of appetite appeared so insatiable, that they supposed the Spaniards had left their own country because it did not produce enough to gratify their immoderate appetites, and had come among them in quest of nourishment.
Columbus having taken all the steps which he thought necessary to ensure the prosperity of his new colony, entrusted the command of the military force to Margaritta, and set sail with three vessels to extend his discoveries; but, after a long and tedious voyage, in which he endured every hardship, the most important discovery he made was the island of Jamaica.
Having been absent much longer than he had expected, he returned to his new settlement, but the colonists had become refractory and unmanageable.
No sooner had he left the island on his voyage of discovery, than the soldiers under Margaritta dispersed in straggling parties over the island, lived at discretion upon the natives, wasted their property, and treated that inoffensive race with the insolence of military oppression.
During the absence of Columbus, several unfavourable accounts of his conduct had been transmitted to Spain, and these accusations gained such credit in that jealous court, that Aguado, a person in every way unsuited for the purpose, was appointed to proceed to Hispaniola to observe the conduct of Columbus.
This man listened with eagerness to every accusation of the discontented Spaniards, and fomented still further the spirit of dissension in the island.
Columbus felt how humiliating it must be if he remained in the island with such a partial inspector to observe his motions and control his authority; he therefore took the resolution of returning to Spain, in order to lay a full account of his transactions before Ferdinand and Isabella.
Having committed the government of the colony during his absence to Don Bartholomew, his brother, he appointed Roldan Chief Justice, a choice which afterwards caused great calamities to the colony.
On his arrival in Spain, Columbus appeared at court with the confidence of a man, not only conscious of having done no wrong, but of having performed great services.
Ferdinand and Isabella, ashamed of having listened to ill-founded accusations, received him with such marks of respect as silenced the calumnies of his enemies, and covered them with shame and confusion.
The gold, the pearls, and other commodities of value which he had brought home, and the mines which he had found, fully proved the value and importance of his discoveries, though Columbus considered them only as preludes to future and more important acquisitions.
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS DISCOVERS THE CONTINENT OF AMERICA.
Columbus, having been furnished with six vessels of no great burden, departed on his third voyage. He touched at the Canaries and at the Cape de Verd islands; from the former he despatched three ships with a supply of provisions for the colony of Hispaniola; with the other three he continued his voyage to the south.
Nothing remarkable occurred till they were within five degrees of the line; then they were becalmed, and the heat became so excessive, that the wine casks burst and their provisions were spoiled.
The Spaniards, who had never ventured so far to the south, were afraid the ships would take fire, but they were relieved in some measure from their fear by a seasonable fall of rain.
This, however, though so heavy and incessant that the men could hardly keep the deck, did not greatly mitigate the heat, and Columbus was at last constrained to yield to the importunities of his crew, and to alter his course to the north-west, in order to reach some of the Caribbee islands, where he might refit and be supplied with provisions.
On the 1st of August, 1498, the man stationed at the round-top surprised them with the joyful cry of "Land!" They stood towards it, and discovered a considerable island, which the admiral called Trinidad, a name it still retains, and near it the mouth of a river, rolling towards the ocean such a vast body of water, and rushing into it with such impetuous force, that when it meets the tide, which on that coast rises to an uncommon height, their meeting occasions an extraordinary and dangerous swell of the waves.
In this conflict, the irresistable torrent of the river so far prevails, that it freshens the ocean many leagues with its flood.
Columbus, before he could perceive the danger, was entangled among these adverse currents and tempestuous waves; and it was with the utmost difficulty that he escaped through a narrow strait, which appeared so tremendous, that he called it "The Dragon's Mouth."
As soon as his consternation permitted him to reflect on an appearance so extraordinary, he justly concluded that the land must be a part of some mighty continent, and not of an island, because all the springs that could rise, and all the rain that could fall on an island, could never, as he calculated, supply water enough to feed so prodigiously broad and deep a river; and he was right, the river was the Oronoko.
Filled with this idea, he stood to the west, along the coast of those provinces which are now known by the name of Paria and Cumana. He landed in several places, and found the people to resemble those of Hispaniola in their appearance and manner of life.
They wore as ornaments small plates of gold and pearls of considerable value, which they willingly exchanged for European toys. They seemed to possess greater courage and better understandings than the inhabitants of the islands.
The country produced four-footed animals of several kinds, as well as a great variety of fowls and fruits.
The admiral was so much delighted with its beauty and fertility, that, with the warm enthusiasm of a discoverer, he imagined it to be the Paradise described in Scripture.
Thus Columbus had the glory of discovering the new world, and of conducting the Spaniards to that vast continent which has been the seat of their empire and the source of their treasure, in that quarter of the globe. The shattered condition of his ships and the scarcity of provisions, made it now necessary to bear away for Hispaniola, where he arrived wasted to an extreme degree with fatigue and sickness.
Many revolutions had happened in that country during his absence, which had lasted more than two years.
His brother, whom he had left in command, had, in compliance with advice which he had given him before his departure, removed the colony from Isabella to a more commodious station on the opposite side of the island, and laid the foundation of St. Domingo, which long continued to be the most considerable town in the new world.
Such was the cruelty and oppression with which the Spaniards treated the Indians, and so intolerable the burden imposed upon them, that they at last took arms against their oppressors; but these insurrections were not formidable. In a conflict with timid and naked Indians, there was neither danger nor doubt of victory.
A mutiny which broke out among the Spaniards, was of a more dangerous nature, the ringleader in which was Francisco Roldan, whom Columbus, when he sailed for Spain, had appointed chief judge, and whose duty it was to have maintained the laws, instead of breaking them.
This rebellion of Roldan, which threatened the whole country with ruin, was only subdued by the most wise and prudent conduct on the part of Columbus; but order and tranquillity were at length apparently restored.
As soon as his affairs would permit, he sent some of his ships to Spain, with a journal of the voyage which he had made, and a description of the new continent which he had discovered, and also a chart of the coast along which he had sailed, and of which I shall have something more to tell you presently.
He at the same time sent specimens of the gold, the pearls, and other curious and valuable productions which he had acquired by trafficking with the natives.
He also transmitted an account of the insurrection in Hispaniola, and accused the mutineers of having, by their unprovoked rebellion, almost ruined the colony.
Roldan and his associates took care to send to Spain, by the same ships, apologies for their mutinous conduct, and unfortunately for the happiness of Columbus, their story gained most credit in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella.
By these ships Columbus granted the liberty of returning to Spain to all those, who, from sickness or disappointment, were disgusted with the country. A good number of such as were most dissatisfied, embraced this opportunity of returning to Europe. The disappointment of their unreasonable hopes inflamed their rage against Columbus to the utmost pitch, and their distress made their accusations be believed.
A gang of these disorderly ruffians, who had been shipped off to free the island from their seditions, found their way to the court at Grenada. Whenever the king or queen appeared in public, they surrounded them, insisting, with importunate clamours, on the payment of arrears due to them, and demanding vengeance on the author of their sufferings.
These endeavours to ruin Columbus were seconded by Fonseca, who was now made bishop of Badajos, and who was entrusted with the chief direction of Indian affairs. This man had always been an implacable enemy of Columbus, and with others of his enemies who were about the court, having continual access to the sovereign, they were enabled to aggravate all the complaints that were urged against him, while they carefully suppressed his vindications of himself.
By these means Ferdinand was at last induced to send out Bobadilla, an officer of the royal household, to inquire into the conduct of Columbus, and if he should think the charges against him proved, to supersede him in his command, that is, to send him home, and make himself governor in his stead; so that it was the interest of the judge to pronounce the person guilty whom he was sent to try.
On his arrival he found Columbus absent in the interior of the island; and as he had, before he landed, made up his mind to treat him as a criminal, he proceeded at once, without any inquiry, to supersede him in his command.
He took up his residence in Columbus' house, from which the owner was absent, seized upon his arms, gold, plate, jewels, books, and even his letters and most secret manuscripts, giving no account of the property thus seized, but disposing of it as if already confiscated to the crown; at the same time he used the most unqualified language when speaking of Columbus, and hinted that he was empowered to send him home in chains; thus acting as if he had been sent out to degrade the admiral, not to inquire into his conduct.
As soon as Columbus arrived from the interior, Bobadilla gave orders to put him in irons and confine him in the fortress, and so far from hearing him in his defence, he would not even admit him to his presence; but having collected from his enemies what he thought sufficient evidence, he determined to send both him and his brother home in chains.
The charge of conducting the prisoners to Spain was committed to Alonzo Villejo, a man of honourable conduct and generous feelings. When Villejo entered with the guard to conduct him on board the caravel, Columbus thought it was to conduct him to the scaffold. "Villejo" said he, "whither are you taking me?" "To the ship, your excellency, to embark," replied the other. "To embark!" repeated the admiral, earnestly, "Villejo, do you speak the truth?" "By the life of your excellency," replied the honest officer, "it is true."
With these words the admiral was comforted, and felt as restored from death to life, for he now knew he should have an opportunity of vindicating his conduct. The caravel set sail in October, bearing off Columbus shackled like the vilest criminal.
The worthy Villejo, as well as Andries Martin, the master of the caravel, would have taken off his irons, but to this he would not consent. "No," said he proudly, "their majesties commanded me, by letter, to submit to whatever Bobadilla should order in their name; by their authority he has put upon me these chains; I will wear them till they shall order them to be taken off, and I will afterwards preserve them as relics and memorials of the reward of my services."
The arrival of Columbus, a prisoner and in chains, produced almost as great a sensation as his triumphant return on his first voyage.
A general burst of indignation arose in Cadiz and in Seville, which was echoed through all Spain, that Columbus was brought home in chains from the world he had discovered.
The tidings reached the court of Grenada, and filled the halls of the Alhambra with murmurs of astonishment.
On the arrival of the ships at Cadiz, Columbus, full of his wrongs, but not knowing how far they had been authorized by his sovereigns, forbare to write to them; but he sent a long letter to a lady of the court, high in favour with the queen, containing, in eloquent and touching language, an ample vindication of his conduct.
When it was read to the noble-minded Isabella, and she found how grossly Columbus had been wronged, and the royal authority abused, her heart was filled with sympathy and indignation.
Without waiting for any documents that might arrive from Bobadilla, Ferdinand and Isabella sent orders to Cadiz, that he should be instantly set at liberty, and treated with all distinction, and sent him two thousand ducats to defray his expenses to court. They wrote him a letter at the same time, expressing their grief at all that had happened, and inviting him to Grenada.
He was received by their majesties with the greatest favour and distinction. When the queen beheld this venerable man approach, and thought on all he had deserved and all he had suffered, she was moved to tears.
Columbus had borne up firmly against the injuries and wrongs of the world, but when he found himself thus kindly treated, and beheld tears in the benign eyes of Isabella, his long suppressed feelings burst forth, he threw himself upon his knees, and for some time could not utter a word for the violence of his tears and sobbings.
Ferdinand and Isabella raised him from the ground and endeavoured to encourage him by the most gracious expressions.
As soon as he had recovered his self-possession, he entered into an eloquent and high-minded vindication of his conduct, and his zeal for the glory and advantage of the Spanish crown.
The king and queen expressed their indignation at the proceedings of Bobadilla, and promised he should be immediately dismissed from his command.
The person chosen to supersede Bobadilla was Nicholas de Ovando. While his departure was delayed by various circumstances, every arrival brought intelligence of the disasterous state of the island under the administration of Bobadilla.
He encouraged the Spaniards in the exercise of the most wanton cruelties towards the natives, to obtain from them large quantities of gold. "Make the most of your time," he would say, "there is no knowing how long it will last;" and the colonists were not backward in following his advice. In the meantime the poor Indians sunk under the toils imposed upon them, and the severities with which they were enforced.
These accounts hastened the departure of Ovando, and a person sailed with him, in order to secure what he could of the wreck of Columbus' property.
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS ROBBED OF THE HONOUR OF GIVING HIS NAME TO AMERICA.
I have told you that Columbus, as soon as he arrived at Hispaniola, after discovering the new continent, sent a ship to Spain with a journal of the voyage he had made, and a description of the new continent which he had discovered, together with a chart of the coast of Paria and Cumana, along which he had sailed.
This journal, with the charts and description, and Columbus' letters on the subject, were placed in the custody of Fonseca, he being minister for Indian affairs.
No sooner had the particulars of this discovery been communicated by Columbus, than a separate commission of discovery, signed by Fonseca, but not by the sovereigns, was granted to Alonzo de Ojeda, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, and whom Columbus had instructed in all his plans. Ojeda was accompanied on this voyage by a Florentine, whose name was Amerigo Vespucci.
To these adventurers Fonseca communicated Columbus' journal, his description of the country, his charts, and all his private letters.
This expedition sailed from Spain while Columbus was still at Hispaniola, and wholly ignorant of what was taking place; and Ojeda, without touching at the colony, steered his course direct for Paria, following the very track which Columbus had marked out.
Having extended their discoveries very little farther than Columbus had gone before them, Vespucci, on returning to Spain, published an account of his adventures and discoveries, and had the address and confidence so to frame his narrative, as to make it appear that the glory of having discovered the new continent belonged to him.
Thus the bold pretensions of an impostor have robbed the discoverer of his just reward, and the caprice of fame has unjustly assigned to him an honour far above the renown of the greatest conquerors—that of indelibly impressing his name upon this vast portion of the earth, which ought in justice to have been called Columbia.
Two years had now been spent in soliciting the favour of an ungrateful court, and notwithstanding all his merits and services, he solicited in vain; but even this ungracious return did not lessen his ardour in his favourite pursuits, and his anxiety to pursue those discoveries in which he felt he had yet only made a beginning.
Ferdinand at last consented to grant him four small vessels, the largest of which did not exceed seventy tons in burden; but, accustomed to brave danger and endure hardships, he did not hesitate to accept the command of this pitiful squadron, and he sailed from Cadiz on his fourth voyage on the 9th of May.
Having touched, as usual, at the Canaries, he intended to have sailed direct for this new discovered continent; but his largest vessel was so clumsy and unfit for service, that he determined to bear away for Hispaniola, in hopes of exchanging her for some ship of the fleet that had carried out Ovando.
The fleet that had brought out Ovando lay in the harbour ready to put to sea, and was to take home Bobadilla, together with Roldan and many of his adherents, to be tried in Spain for rebellion. Bobadilla was to embark in the principal ship, on board of which he had put an immense amount of gold, which he hoped would atone for all his faults.
Among the presents intended for his sovereign was one mass of virgin gold, which was famous in the Spanish chronicles; it was said to weigh 3600 castillanos. Large quantities of gold had been shipped in the fleet by Roldan and other adventurers—the wealth gained by the sufferings of the unhappy natives.
Columbus sent an officer on shore to request permission to shelter his squadron in the river, as he apprehended an approaching storm. He also cautioned them not to let the fleet sail, but his request was refused by Ovando, and his advice disregarded.
The fleet put to sea, and Columbus kept his feeble squadron close to shore, and sought for shelter in some wild bay or river of the island.
Within two days, one of those tremendous storms which sometimes sweep those latitudes gathered up, and began to blow. Columbus sheltered his little squadron as well as he could, and sustained no damage. A different fate befel the other armament.
The ship in which were Bobadilla, Roldan, and a number of the most inveterate enemies of Columbus, was swallowed up with all its crew, together with the principal part of the ill-gotten treasure, gained by the miseries of the Indians.
Some of the ships returned to St. Domingo, and only one was able to continue her voyage to Spain; that one had on board four thousand pieces of gold, the property of Columbus, which had been recovered by the agent whom he sent out with Ovando.
Thus, while the enemies of the admiral were swallowed up as it were before his eyes, the only ship enabled to pursue her voyage was the frail bark freighted with his property.
PARLEY TELLS HOW COLUMBUS WAS SHIPWRECKED, AND ALSO OF THE MANNER OF HIS DEATH.
Columbus soon left Hispaniola where he met with so inhospitable a reception, and steering towards the west, he arrived on the coast of Honduras. There he had an interview with some of the inhabitants of the continent, who came off in a large canoe; they appeared to be more civilized than any whom he had hitherto discovered.
In return to the inquiries which the Spaniards made with their usual eagerness, where the Indians got the gold which they wore by way of ornaments, they directed him to countries situated to the west, in which gold was found in such profusion that it was applied to the most common uses.
Well would it have been for Columbus had he followed their advice. Within a day or two he would have arrived at Yucatan; the discovery of Mexico and the other opulent countries of New Spain would have necessarily followed, the Southern Ocean would have been disclosed to him, and a succession of splendid discoveries would have shed fresh glory on his declining age.
But the admiral's mind was bent upon discovering the supposed strait that was to lead to the Indian Ocean. In this navigation he explored a great extent of coast from Cape Gracios a Dios till he came to a harbour, which on account of its beauty and security, he called Porto Bello.
On quitting this harbour he steered for the south, and he had not followed this course many days when he was overtaken by storms more terrible than any he had yet encountered.
For nine days the vessels were tossed about at the mercy of a raging tempest. The sea, according to the description of Columbus, boiled at times like a cauldron, at other times it ran in mountain waves covered with foam: at night the raging billows sparkled with luminous particles, which made them resemble great surges of flame.
For a day and a night the heavens glowed like a furnace with incessant flashes of lightning, while the loud claps of thunder were often mistaken for signal guns of their foundering companions.
In the midst of this wild tumult of the elements, they beheld a new object of alarm. The ocean, in one place, became strangely agitated; the water was whirled up into a kind of pyramid or cone; while a livid cloud, tapering to a point, bent down to meet it; joining together, they formed a column, which rapidly approached the ship, spinning along the surface of the deep, and drawing up the water with a rushing sound, it passed the ship without injury.
His leaky vessels were not able to withstand storms like these. One of them foundered, and he was obliged to abandon another.
With the remaining two he bore away for Hispaniola, but in the tempest his ships falling foul of each other, it was with the greatest difficulty he reached the island of Jamaica.
His two vessels were in such a shattered condition, that, to prevent them from sinking, and to save the lives of his crews, he was obliged to run them on shore.
Having no ship now left, he had no means of reaching Hispaniola, or of making his situation known. In this juncture he had recourse to the hospitable kindness of the natives, who, considering the Spaniards as beings of a superior nature, were eager, on every occasion to assist them.
From them he obtained two canoes, each formed out of a single tree hollowed with fire. In these, which were only fit for creeping along the coast, two of his brave and faithful companions, assisted by a few Indians, gallantly offered to set out for Hispaniola; this voyage they accomplished in ten days, after encountering incredible fatigues and dangers.
By them he wrote letters to Ovando, describing his situation and requesting him to send ships to bring off him and his crews; but what will you think of the unfeeling cruelty of this man, when I tell you that he suffered these brave men to wait eight months before he would give them any hopes of relieving their companions: and what must have been the feelings of Columbus during this period.
At last the ships arrived which were to take them from the island, where the unfeeling Ovando had suffered them to languish above a year, exposed to misery in all its various forms. When he arrived at St. Domingo, Ovando treated him with every kind of insult and injustice. Columbus submitted in silence, but became extremely impatient to quit a country where he had been treated with such barbarity.
The preparations were soon finished, and he set sail for Spain with two ships, but disaster still pursued him to the end of his course. He suffered acutely from a painful and dangerous disease, and his mind was kept uneasy and anxious by a continued succession of storms. One of the vessels being disabled, was forced back to St. Domingo, and in the other he sailed 700 leagues with jury-masts, and reached with difficulty the port of St. Lucar in Spain, 1504.
On his arrival he received the fatal news of the death of his patroness queen Isabella, from whom he had hoped for the redress of his wrongs.
He applied to the king, who, instead of confirming the titles and honours which he had formerly conferred upon him, insulted him with the proposal of renouncing them all for a pension.
Disgusted with the ingratitude of a monarch whom he had served with fidelity and success, exhausted with the calamities which he had endured, and broken with infirmities, this great and good man breathed his last at Valladolid, a.d. 1506, in the 69th year of his age.
He was buried in the cathedral at Seville, and on his tomb was engraved an epitaph commemorating his discovery of a New World.
Christobal Colon, obiit 1506,
A Castilla y a Leon Neubo Mundo dio Colon.[A]
Thus much for Columbus; those who are the greatest benefactors of mankind seldom meet with much gratitude from men in their lives; they must look to God for their reward, and leave future generations to do justice to their memory.
It was very unfortunate for the natives of America, that the country fell into the hands of such a cruel, covetous, and bigoted nation as the Spaniards were. Their thirst for gold was insatiable, and the cruelties they exercised upon the natives are too horrible to recite. After the death of Columbus, the Indians were no longer treated with gentleness, for it was his defence of the property and lives of these harmless natives that brought down upon his head such bitter hatred. You will now look into your map and follow Columbus in some of his discoveries. You will see a great number of islands extending in a curve from Florida, which is the southernmost part of the United States, to the mouth of the river Oronoko in South America; and, as Columbus firmly believed these islands, when he discovered them, to be a part of India, the name of Indies was given to them by Ferdinand and Isabella; and, even after the error was detected, and the true position of the new world ascertained, the name has remained, and the appellation of Indies is given to the country, and that of Indians to the inhabitants.
[Footnote A: To Castile and to Leon Columbus gave a New World.]
PARLEY TELLS OF OVANDO'S CRUEL TREATMENT OF ANACAONA, THE PRINCESS OF HAYTI.
Columbus discovered and gave names to some of these islands, and on several of them he settled colonies, and did all he could to make them the abodes of peace and happiness.
On his taking leave of them for the last time, Ovando continued governor of Hayti.
The cruelties exercised by this unfeeling man it would take a volume to describe, but I will mention only one or two instances.
When the natives were unable to pay the tribute which he exacted from them, he always accused them of insurrection, and it was to punish a slight insurrection of this kind in the eastern part of the island that he sent his troops, who ravaged the country with fire and sword. He showed no mercy to age or sex, putting many to death with horrible tortures, and brought off the brave Catabanama, one of the five sovereign caziques of the island, in chains to St. Domingo, where he was ignominiously hanged by Ovando, for the crime of defending his territory and his native soil against usurping strangers.
But the most atrocious act of Ovando, and one that must heap odium on his name, wherever the woes of the gentle natives of Hayti are heard of, was the cruelty he was guilty of towards the province of Xaragua for one of those pretended conspiracies.
Ovando set out at the head of nearly four hundred well armed soldiers, seventy of whom were steel-clad horsemen; giving out that he was coming on a visit of friendship, to make arrangements for the payment of tribute.
Behechio, the ancient cazique of the province, was dead, and his sister, Anacaona, wife of the late formidable chief Caonabo, had succeeded to the government.
She was one of the most beautiful females in the island; of great natural grace and dignity, and superior intelligence; her name in the Indian language signified "Golden Flower."
She came forth to meet Ovando, according to the custom of her nation, attended by her most distinguished subjects, and her train of damsels waving palm branches, and dancing to the cadence of their popular ayretos.
All her principal caziques had been assembled to do honour to the guests, who, for several days were entertained with banquets, and national games and dances.
In return for these exhibitions, Ovando invited Anacaona, with her beautiful daughter Higuenamata, and her principal subjects, to witness a tilting match in the public square.
When all were assembled, and the square crowded with unarmed Indians, Ovando gave a signal, and instantly the horsemen rushed into the midst of the naked and defenceless throng, trampling them under foot, cutting them down with their swords, transfixing them with their lances, and sparing neither age nor sex.
Above eighty caziques had been assembled in one of the principal houses: it was surrounded by troops, the caziques were bound to the posts which supported the roof, and put to cruel tortures, until in the extremity of anguish they were made to admit as true what their queen and themselves had been charged with.
When they had thus been made, by torture, to accuse themselves, a horrible punishment was immediately inflicted. Fire was set to the house, and they all perished miserably in the flames.
As to Anacaona, she was carried to St. Domingo, where, after the mockery of a trial, she was pronounced guilty on the testimony of the Spaniards, and was barbarously hanged by the people whom she had so long and so greatly befriended.
After the massacre of Xaragua, the destruction of its inhabitants went on. They were hunted for six months amid the fastnesses of the mountains, and their country ravaged by horse and foot, until, all being reduced to deplorable misery and abject submission, Ovando pronounced the province restored to order; and in remembrance of his triumph, founded a town near the lake, which he called Santa Maria de la Verdadera Pas (St. Mary of the true peace.)
Such was the tragical fate of the beautiful Anacaona, once extolled as the Golden Flower of Hayti; and such the story of the delightful region of Xaragua, which the Spaniards, by their own account, found a perfect paradise, but which, by their vile passions, they filled with horror and desolation.
After this work of destruction, they made slaves of the remaining inhabitants, and divided them amongst them, and many of the sanguinary contests among themselves arose out of quarrels about the distribution.
We cannot help pausing to cast back a look of pity and admiration over these beautiful but devoted regions.
The white man had penetrated the land! In his train came avarice, pride, and ambition; sordid care, and pining labour, were soon to follow, and the paradise of the Indian was about to disappear for ever.
PARLEY DESCRIBES THE TREES, PLANTS, AND FLOWERS OF THE NEW WORLD.
When once the way had been pointed out, it was easy for other navigators to follow, and accordingly many Spaniards undertook voyages of further discovery.
Among others, Yanez Pinzon, one of the brave companions of Columbus, undertook a voyage to the new world in 1499.
This navigator suffered much from storms, and having sailed southward, he crossed the equator and lost sight of the polar star.
The sailors were exceedingly alarmed at this circumstance, as the polar star was relied upon by them as one of their surest guides; not knowing the shape of the earth, they thought that some prominence hid this star from their view.
The first land that Pinzon discovered, after crossing the line, was Cape St. Augustine, in eight degrees south latitude, the most projecting part of the extensive country of Brazil.
As the fierceness of the natives made it unsafe to land on this coast, he continued his voyage to the north-west, and fell in with the mighty river Amazon, which is nearly under the equinoctial line.
The mouth of this river is more than thirty leagues in breadth, and its waters enter more than forty leagues into the ocean without losing its freshness.
He now recrossed the line, and coming again in sight of the polar star, he pursued his course along the coast, passed the mouth of the Oronoko, and entered the Gulph of Paria, after which he returned to Spain.
Ojeda also undertook a voyage expressly to found a settlement; but as the character of the Spaniards was now well known to the inhabitants of these parts, they determined to oppose their landing, and being a numerous and warlike people, Ojeda nearly lost his life in the attempt.
Many of his companions were slain; the survivors, however, succeeding in making good their retreat on board the ships.
Shortly afterwards he landed on the eastern side of the Gulph of Darien, and built a fortress which they called San Sebastian.
Ojeda had with him in this expedition Francisco Pizarro, about whom I shall have to tell you something more presently.
About the same time another Spaniard, of the name of Nicuessa, formed a settlement on that part of the coast, and built a fortress there, which he called Nombre de Dios, not very distant from the harbour of Portobello.
Thus, by degrees, the whole coast of America, on the side of the Atlantic, was discovered and explored.
But the Spaniards did not know that in the part where they were, it was only a narrow neck of land (which you know is called an Isthmus) that separated them from another vast ocean; and this, when they discovered the ocean on the other side, was called the Isthmus of Darien.
I will now give you a short account of the discovery of this ocean.
Nothing having been heard of Ojeda and his new colony of San Sebastian, another expedition, commanded by Enciso, set sail in search of them.
Among the ship's company was a man, by name Vasco Ninez de Balboa, who, although of a rich family, had, by his bad habits, not only become very poor, but also very much in debt.
To avoid being thrown into prison for the debts that he owed, he contrived to get on board Enciso's ship, concealed in a cask, which was taken on board the vessel as a cask of provisions.
When the ship was far from St. Domingo, Balboa came out from his cask to the astonishment of all on board.
Enciso at first was angry at the way he had escaped from the punishment which his bad conduct had deserved; yet, as he thought that he might be of service to him, he pardoned him.
The settlement of St. Sebastian, however, had been broken up, the Spaniards having suffered much from the repeated attacks of the natives, who would no longer patiently submit to their unjust treatment.
Soon after Enciso arrived at Carthagena he was joined by Pizarro, with the wretched remains of the colony; he determined nevertheless, to continue his voyage to the settlement.
Upon his arrival there he found Pizarro's account was too true, for where St. Sebastian had stood, nothing was to be seen but a heap of ruins.
Here misfortune followed misfortune, his own ship was wrecked and then he was attacked by the natives.
In despair at these disasters Enciso was at a loss what to do, or where to go, when Balboa advised him to continue his course along the coast in Pizarro's little vessel.
He stated that he had once before been on an expedition in this same gulf, and on the western side he well remembered an Indian village, on the banks of a river, called by the natives Darien.
Enciso pleased with Balboa's advice, resolved to take possession of this village, and to drive out all the Indians.
Arrived at the river, he landed his men, and, without giving the unfortunate people of the village any notice, he attacked them, killed several, drove the rest out, and robbed them of all their possessions.
He then made the village the chief place of his new government, and called it Santa Maria del Darien. Balboa assisted in this work of cruelty and injustice.
The Spaniards had not been long here when they became tired with Enciso, and they refused to obey him, and sent him off in a ship to Spain. Upon his departure, Balboa took the command.
In one of his expeditions into the interior parts of the country in search of gold, he first heard of a sea to the west, as yet unknown to Europeans.
He had received a large quantity of gold from an Indian cazique, or chief, and was weighing it into shares for the purpose of dividing it among his men when a quarrel arose as to the exactness of the weight.
One of the sons of the Indian cazique was present, and he felt so disgusted at the sordid behaviour of the Spaniards that he struck the scales with his fist and scattered the glittering gold about the place.
Before the Spaniards could recover from their astonishment at this sudden act, he said to them, "why should you quarrel for such a trifle? If you really esteem gold to be so precious as to abandon your homes, and come and seize the lands and dwellings of others for the sake of it, I can tell you of a land not far distant where you may find it in plenty."
"Beyond those lofty mountains," he continued, pointing to the south, "lies a mighty sea, all the streams that flow into which down the southern side of those mountains, abound in gold, and all the utensils the people have, are made of gold."
Balboa was struck with this account of the young Indian, and eagerly inquired the best way of penetrating to this sea, and this land of gold.
The young Indian warned him of the dangers he would meet with from the fierce race of Indians inhabiting these mountains, who were cannibals, or eaters of human flesh, but Balboa was not to be deterred by accounts of difficulties and dangers.
He was, besides, desirous of getting possession of the gold, and of obtaining, by the merits of the discovery, the pardon of the King of Spain, for taking from Enciso the command of the settlement.
He resolved, therefore, to penetrate to this sea, and immediately began to make preparations for the journey.
He first sent to Hispaniola for an additional number of soldiers, to assist him in the perilous adventure, but instead of receiving these, the only news that reached him by the return of his messengers was, that he would most probably have the command of Darien taken from him, and be punished for assisting to dispossess Enciso.
This news made him determine no longer to delay his departure. All the men he could muster for the expedition amounted only to one hundred and ninety; but these were hardy and resolute, and much attached to him. He armed them with swords and targets; cross-bows and arquebusses; besides this little band, Balboa took with him a few of the Indians of Darien whom he had won by kindness, to serve him.
On the 1st of September, 1513, Balboa set out from Darien, first to the residence of the Indian cazique, from whose son he first heard of the sea.
From this chief he obtained the assistance of guides and some warriors, and with this force he prepared to penetrate the wilderness before him.
It was on the 6th of September that he began his march for the mountains which separated him from the great Pacific Ocean, he set out with a resolution to endure patiently all the miseries, and to combat boldly all the difficulties that he might meet with, and he contrived to rouse the same determination in his followers.
Their journey was through a broken rocky country covered with forest trees and underwood, so thick and close as to be quite matted together and every here and there deep foaming streams, some of which they were forced to cross on rafts.
So wearisome was the journey, that in four days they had not advanced more than ten leagues, and they began to suffer much from hunger.
They had now arrived in the province of a warlike tribe of Indians who, instead of flying and hiding themselves, came forth to the attack. They set upon the Spaniards with furious yells, thinking to overpower them at once. They were armed with bows and arrows, and clubs made of palm-wood almost as hard as iron. But the first shock of the report from the fire-arms of the Spaniards struck them with terror. They took to flight, but were closely pursued by the Spaniards with their blood-hounds. The Cazique and six hundred of his people were left dead upon the field of battle.
After the battle the Spaniards entered the adjoining village, which was at the foot of the last mountain that remained to be climbed; this village they robbed of every thing valuable. There was much gold and many jewels.
Balboa shared the booty among his band of followers. But this victory was not gained without some loss on the side of the Spaniards.
Balboa found that several of his men had been wounded by the arrows of the Indians, and many also, overcome with fatigue, had fallen sick, these he was obliged to leave in the village, while he ascended the mountain.
At the cool and fresh hour of day-break he assembled his scanty band, and began to climb the height, wishing to reach the top before the heat of noon.
About ten o'clock they came out from the thick forest through which they had been struggling ever since day-break: the change from the closeness of the woods to the pleasant breeze from the mountain, was delightful. But they were still further encouraged. "From that spot" exclaimed one of the Indian guides, pointing to the height above them "may be seen the great sea of which you are in search."
When Balboa heard this, he commanded his men to halt, and forbade any one to stir from his place. He was resolved to be the first European who should look upon that sea, which he had been the first to discover.
Accordingly he ascended the mountain height alone, and when he reached the summit he beheld the wide sea glittering in the morning sun.
Balboa called to his little troop to ascend the height and look upon the glorious prospect; and they joined him without delay.
"Behold, my friends," said he, "the reward of all our toils, a sight upon which the eye of Spaniard never rested before."
He now took possession of the sea-coast and the surrounding country in the name of the king of Spain.
He then had a tree cut down, and made into the form of a cross, and planted it on the spot from which he had first beheld the sea. He also made a mound by heaping up large stones upon which he carved the names of the king of Spain.
The Indians saw all this done, and while they helped to pile the stones and set up the cross, they little thought that they were assisting to deprive themselves of their homes and their country.
You remember the noble reproof of Canute in the "History of England," to his flatterers, when they assured him that even the waves of the sea would obey him: but this arrogant and weak minded Spaniard waded into the waves of the great Pacific Ocean, up to his knees, and absurdly took possession of it in the name of the Spanish monarch.
Balboa was some time employed in fighting with the Indian tribes that inhabited the sea-coast, and in hunting them with blood-hounds.
He soon made these helpless people submit. From them he got some further accounts of the rich country which the Indian prince had mentioned, and which proved afterwards to be Peru.
He now quitted the shores of the Pacific Ocean on his return across the mountains of Darien. His route homewards was different from that which he had before pursued, and the sufferings of his troops much greater.
Often they could find no water, the heat having dried up the pools and brooks. Many died from thirst, and those who survived, although loaded with gold, were exhausted for want of food; for the poor Indians brought gold and jewels, instead of food, as peace offerings to the Spaniards.
At length, after much slaughter of the Indians that dwelt in the mountains, and burning of the villages, Balboa and his troops arrived at Darien; having robbed the Indians of all the gold and silver they could find. The Spaniards at Darien received with great delight and praise the news of his success and discovery—a discovery gained at the expense of much unnecessary cruelty and injustice.
He now despatched a ship to Spain, with the news of his discovery, and by it he sent part of the gold he had carried off from the different Indian tribes.
A few days before this ship reached Spain a new governor had been sent out, by name Padrarias Davila, to take Balboa's place, and with orders to punish Balboa for his conduct to Enciso.
But when he arrived at Darien, and saw how much the discoverer of the Pacific was beloved by all the Spaniards of the settlement he hesitated through fear, and finally resolved to defer the execution of the orders which he had brought with him.
Davila permitted Balboa to depart from Darien for the purpose of building brigantines with a view to navigate and explore the Pacific Ocean. Three years had elapsed since he discovered this ocean, and with joy he now prepared to build the ships which were to be the first belonging to Europeans to sail upon it.
Balboa having overcome all his difficulties, had the satisfaction of seeing two brigantines finished and floating on a river which they called the Balsas.
As soon as they had been made ready for sea, he embarked with some of his followers, and sailing down the river, was the first to launch into the ocean that he had been the first to discover. But his death was now about to put a stop to his further discoveries.
The new governor, Davila, who was a bad and cruel man, and envious of Balboa, on account of the discoveries he had made, had long resolved to put him to death.
The time having, as he thought, arrived, which was favourable for his villanous design, he sent for Balboa to return, and on his arrival he had him seized by one of his early friends and followers, Franciso Pizarro, and then, after throwing him into prison, he ordered him to be put to death by having his head cut off.
This unjust sentence was executed, and Balboa, after a mock trial, was publicly beheaded, in the 48th year of his age.
PARLEY TELLS OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO.
Not long after this another expedition sailed from Cuba, under the command of Cordova, to make further discoveries on the new continent.
The first land they saw proved to be the eastern cape of that large peninsula which you see in the map projecting into the gulf of Mexico, and which still retains its original name of Yucatan.
As they approached the shore, five canoes came off full of people decently clad in cotton garments; this excited the wonder of the Spaniards, who had found every other part they had yet visited, possessed by naked savages.
Cordova endeavoured to gain their good-will by presents, but perceived they were preparing to attack him; and, as his water began to fail, he sailed further along the coast in hopes of procuring a supply, but not a single river did he find all along that coast till he came to Potonchon, in the bay of Campeachy, which is on the western side of the peninsula.
Here Cordova landed all his troops, in order to protect the sailors while filling their casks; but, notwithstanding, the natives rushed down upon them with such fury and in such numbers, that forty-seven of the Spaniards were killed upon the spot, and one man only of the whole body escaped unhurt.
Cordova, though wounded in twelve places, led off his wounded men with great presence of mind and fortitude, and with much difficulty they reached their ships, and hastened back to Cuba. Cordova died of his wounds soon after his arrival.
Notwithstanding the ill success of this expedition, another was shortly after fitted out under the command of Grijalva, a young man of known merit and courage. He directed his course to the bay of Campeachy, to the part from which Cordova had returned, and as they advanced they saw many villages scattered along the coast, in which they could distinguish houses of stone that appeared white and lofty at a distance.
In the warmth of their admiration, they fancied these to be cities, adorned with towers and pinnacles; and one of the soldiers happening to remark that this country resembled Spain in appearance, Grijalva, with universal applause, called it New Spain; the name which still distinguishes this extensive and opulent province of the Spanish dominions.
They landed to the west of Tabasco, where they were received with the respect due to superior beings; the people perfumed them as they landed with incense of gum copal, and presented to them offerings of the choicest delicacies of their country.
They were extremely fond of trading with their new visitants, and in six days, the Spaniards obtained ornaments of gold, and of curious workmanship, to the amount of fifteen thousand pesoes, an immense sum, in exchange for European toys of small price.
They learned from the natives that they were the subjects of a great monarch, whose dominions extended over that and many other provinces.
Grijalva now returned with a full account of the important discoveries he had made, and with all the treasure he had acquired by trafficking with the natives.
The favourable account of New Spain brought by Grijalva, determined Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, seriously to undertake the conquest of that country, but as he did not wish to take the command himself, he endeavoured to find a person who would act under his directions.
After much deliberation he fixed upon Fernando Cortez, a man of restless and ardent spirit, on whom he had conferred many benefits; but these Cortez soon forgot, and was no sooner invested with the command than he threw off the authority of Velasquez altogether.
The greatest force that could be collected for the conquest of a great empire, amounted to no more than five hundred and eight men, only thirteen of whom were armed with muskets; thirty-two were cross-bowmen, and the rest had swords and spears; they had only sixteen horses, and ten small field-pieces.
With such a slender and ill provided force did Cortez set sail to make war upon a monarch whose dominions were more extensive than all the kingdoms subject to the Spanish crown.
On his voyage Cortez first landed on the island of Cozumel, where he redeemed from slavery Jerome de Aguilar, a Spaniard, who had been eight years a prisoner among the Indians, and having learned the Yucatan language (which is spoken in all those parts), proved afterwards extremely useful as an interpreter.
He then proceeded to the river of Tabasco, where the disposition of the natives proved very hostile, and they showed the most determined resistance; but the noise of the artillery, the appearances of the floating fortresses which brought the Spaniards over the ocean, and the horses on which they fought, all new objects to the natives, inspired them with astonishment mingled with terror; they regarded the Spaniards as gods, and sent them supplies of provisions, with a present of some gold and twenty female slaves.
Cortez here learned that the native sovereign, who was called Montezuma, reigned over an extensive empire, and that thirty vassals, called caziques, obeyed him; that his riches were immense, and his power absolute. No more was necessary to inflame the ambition of Cortez, and the avarice of his followers.
He then proceeded along the coast till he came to St. Juan de Ulua, where, having laid the foundation of Vera Cruz, he caused himself to be elected Captain-general of the new colony.
Here he was visited by two native caziques, whose names were Teutile and Pilpatoe, who entered his camp with a numerous retinue, and informed him that they were persons entrusted with the government of that province by a great monarch, whom they called Montezuma, and that they were sent to inquire what his intentions were in visiting their coast, and to offer him what assistance he might need.
Cortez received them with much formal ceremony, and informed them that he came from Don Carlos of Austria, the greatest monarch of all the east, with propositions of such moment, that he could impart them to none but the emperor himself; and requested them to conduct him, without loss of time, into the presence of their master.
Messengers were immediately despatched to Montezuma, with a full account of everything that had passed.
The Mexican monarch, in order to obtain early information, had couriers posted along the road, and the intelligence was conveyed by a very curious contrivance called picture writing, persons being employed to represent, in a series of pictures, everything that passed, which was the Mexican mode of writing: Teutile and Pilpatoe were employed to deliver the answer of their master, but as they knew how repugnant it was to the wishes and schemes of the Spanish commander, they would not make it known till they had first endeavoured to soothe and pacify him. For this purpose they introduced a train of a hundred Indians loaded with presents sent to him by Montezuma.
The magnificence of these far exceeded any idea which the Spaniards had formed of his wealth.
They were placed on mats spread on the ground, in such order as showed them to the greatest advantage. Cortez and his officers viewed with admiration the various manufactures of the country. Cotton stuffs so fine as to resemble silk. Pictures of animals, trees, and other natural objects, formed with feathers of different colours, disposed with such skill and elegance, as to resemble, in truth and beauty of imitation, the finest paintings. But what chiefly attracted their eyes were two large plates of circular form; one of massive gold, representing the sun, the other of silver, an emblem of the moon. These were accompanied with bracelets, collars, rings, and other trinkets of gold, and with several boxes filled with pearls, precious stones, and grains of gold unwrought, as they had been found in the mines or rivers.